The Impromptu Preppy Pool Party (Or I Call an Audible on My Party Plans)

Guys, today is my twelve-year LA anniversary.

Twelve. Years.

Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s a looooong time to live in one place. I have to admit: in that time, LA and I have had a rocky relationship. But recently? I realized that I’m kinda crazy in love with this stupid city.

This past weekend LA did make me question its love for me, however, when a large section of the 405 was closed for construction near the beachfront hotel where I was supposed to have my birthday party. (LA? Not one of your better moments in our relationship. Just saying…)

Despite weeks of planning, I found myself facing the possibility of my friends sitting in gridlock, cursing the day I was born instead of celebrating it. (#notcool)

So, I woke up at 4:30 am the day before the festivities and I called an audible on my party. I totally changed the play on the fly ‘cuz I wasn’t going to let some freeway construction cramp my style.

With less than 36 hours before my party was supposed to kick off, I cancelled my hotel room, sent an update to my Paperless Post invite, and completely re-envisioned my menu. I also made a Pinterest Board for a totally new event — at my own pool.

I went for a simple, preppy nautical theme. Here’s how it turned out.

By Paper + Cup on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I started with the “Little Lifesaver” invite from Paper + Cup on Paperless Post. Source

Then I stenciled a whole buncha boats, anchors, and lighthouses on everything with these stencils from my friend, Martha. (#loveher)

Simple nautical party decorations from Dogs Dishes and Decor

When this is your idea of keeping things simple, it’s probably time for an intervention. Just saying…

Simple snacks at a nautical themed pool party Dogs Dishes and Decor

Here are the stenciled treat bags in action.

Sprinkles Strawberry cupcakes in Williams Sonoma cupcake liners on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I picked up some striped cupcake liners at Williams Sonoma and made a quick batch of Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes.

Also?

Nautical Chandon on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Gillian totally came through with this nautical themed bottle of Chandon. #perfection

After the poolside grilling festivities, the single people hit up a few bars in my neighborhood.

J. Crew whale sweater on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Obviously my J. Crew whale sweater and I had to keep up the whole nautical theme late night.

I know I still owe you the rest of the wrap up on Finnie’s Elephant Theme shower. Now that I think about it… LA closed the 405 the day of his Elephant shower too. I think LA hates my theme parties.

But Finnie doesn’t.

He partied so hard at my pool party that he fell asleep.

See?

Sleeping baby Finn on Dogs Dishes and Decor

So presh.

More on his shower later. I’m off to yoga.

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Everybody Lighten Up (Or Another Smoothie Recipe)

Sometimes people take things way too seriously.

For example?

When I was doing my 500 hours of yoga teacher training a few years ago, I took my iced latte to class in a pint glass. My reusable mugs were all in the dishwasher, so I just grabbed the closest glass that was the right size. It just happened to be a Brooklyn Lager pint glass.  When I was in the bathroom I overheard a few other yogis talking about how inappropriate it was.

I didn’t say anything but thought, “Get over yourselves, people. It’s a cup. With some letters on it. It’s the only clean thing of sufficient size in my kitchen.”

Sure, I’m guilty of taking MYSELF too seriously sometimes too. (OK, maybe more than sometimes.) We all are. But I think it’s important to cut ourselves – and others – some slack from time to time.

Can’t we just pour our lattes into beer cups and dance to Fujiya and Miyagi in our kitchens? Why does everything have to be sooooo serious all of the time?

If you’re wondering what made me think of this today, it’s because I poured my spinach smoothie into this glass.

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In the interest of lightening up, I almost don’t care that this is a crappy photo. (Almost.)

Oh, and speaking of smoothies… remember when I said I could improve on the Martha Stewart spinach smoothie? Well, I did. And maybe it’s just MY personal taste, but I think it’s way better with pineapple. Here’s the recipe.

Anika’s Ginger, Pineapple, and Spinach Smoothie

1 C fresh pineapple, diced
1/2 C coconut water
2 C fresh spinach
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 T honey
1 C ice

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and mascerate.

Do so while blasting a little Fujiya and Miyagi, and dance in your damn kitchen if you wanna.

If you’re wondering where the elephants went, we’ll get back to that tomorrow.

It’s All About Ice Cream (Or How to Make Brown Butter Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches)

I have to admit something. I consider cupcakes to be wasted calories. Sure, I’ll eat them from time to time if they’re around, but I absolutely never crave them. In fact, I never wake up thinking about cake of any kind. Ever.

Ice cream and cookies on the other hand?

OMIGOD.

#theyaremylife

Every year for my birthday I make ice cream cookie sandwiches for my party. I use this recipe from Bon Appetit for the brown butter cookies. The recipe suggests dipping the ice cream sandwiches in chocolate, but I skip that business. (#wastedcalories)

Besides, my favorite ice cream flavors are strawberry and orange pineapple, neither of which pair well with chocolate, if you ask me. The recipe says you can use store bought ice cream. Which I do. Sometimes. When I’m busy. Or being lazy.

When I’m not being all busy or lazy, I use this recipe for the strawberry ice cream.

Here they are on the dessert table at the Elephant themed baby shower.

See?

Brown butter ice cream cookie sandwiches from Dogs Dishes and Decor #icecream #epicurious

Divine.

I’m probably going to make them for my birthday party this weekend to go along with this ice cream cookie business.

Just in case you were wondering….

Aaaaanyway, I’m off to the pool now with my mug o’ emergen-c.

Raspberry emergen-c in a Michigan Mug on Dogs Dishes and Decor

#breakfastofchampions

I’m thinking a little relaxation plus vitamins B and C could be the cure for my cold. #mustgethealthyforparty

It’s Arts and Crafts Time (Or I Talk About Elephant Shower Activities)

Now that we’ve covered the favors and the decorations, we should probably discuss the shower activities. This is usually the part of a baby shower I despise, to be honest. I think games can be contrived and the focus should really be on friends and the food. My friend and co-host Meaghan agreed so we kept the activities to a minimum.

We did do the Guess the Belly Size with string thing, though.

See?

Guess the Belly Size with String on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Aren’t my friends adorable? You can SO tell they’re sisters.

We mostly sucked at the guess the belly business. I was particularly (offensively) off with my estimate. #sosorrykaty

Aside from the string game, we spent the bulk of our time stuffing our faces with finger sandwiches while doing arts and crafts.

Meaghan and I bought fabric paints and white onesies and did the whole “Make Finn Some Custom Threads” thing.

Craft Table on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Remember this from yesterday? It’s the craft table. #lifechanging

I think they came out pretty well.

Painted onesies on Dogs Dishes and Decor

One guess who made the Michigan onesie….

In addition to the onesie bit, we also put together a blank alphabet book in a binder so the guests could make Finn his first alphabet book. Each page represented a different letter and the guests signed their drawings.

Decorate-a-book Baby Shower Activity on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Here are the happy artists making Picasso-like magic for Finn.

And this is sorta how it came out.

Customized alphabet book for a baby shower from Dogs Dishes and Decor

Kinda cute, right?

OK, more on the food situation later. I need to get back at that NyQuil. It is everything right now. #imdying

Pandas and Elephants, Oh My! (Or I Talk About Elephant Shower Decorations)

I’d like to interrupt this elephant shower talk with the announcement that my panda is blogging again.

I realize you may not know who my panda is or why I call her that; it’s a long story. Just know she’s one of my best friends in the world and she’s also one of the strongest, smartest, funniest, most amazing people I know. And I’m so lucky to have her in my life.

Two years ago, I got to meet her son when he was only a few days old and I happened to be in Michigan for a minute. I was supposed to help her with ideas for his Winnie the Pooh Party last year and got as far as this Pinterest board before the wheels fell of that plan.

Her son is almost two now, and she and her husband are going through the surrogacy process for a second time. For anyone who wants to read about that experience, you can find the posts on her blog here. Maybe this time I can get it right and do her shower up proper. (Something to think about, panda.)

Annnnnnd now, back to elephants. And the shower I threw in March.

We wanted to keep the cost relatively low, so we kept the flowers and decorations simple. We basically just raided the aisles of Target and went with soft pastels we found soothing and stuff.

See?

Elephant baby shower on Dogs Dishes and Decor

We used wrapping paper as a table runner. Then we bought some ugly elephants from Michaels and painted that business gold with some paint from Martha.

We wanted to keep the flowers simple, so we stuffed some tulips into mason jars. I did spiff up the tulips on the craft table, just a little….

Baby shower craft table on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Bows make stuff look fancy.

For the dessert table we used the cake stands leftover from my Peter Pan party. I wish we had changed the ribbon in them. Black is kinda macabre for a baby shower. (I ran out of time.)

Dessert Table on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I also wish you couldn’t see the grill looming like some big body bag in the background, but I was too busy hosting the show to worry about the picture quality. Blah.

As you can see, it was not perfect. But it WAS fun.

More on the menu and crafts another day. I’m sick and off to suck down the cough medicine my friend Vijaya brought me. #iloveher

It’s Time to Talk About Elephants Part 1 (Or How to Make Elephant Favors for a Baby Shower)

Last March I threw a baby shower for my friend Katy. She and I grew up five miles away from each other in East Lansing, we both went to the University of Michigan… and we were both born August 3.

Kinda crazy, right?

Anyway, I didn’t write about the shower at the time because I was in a super huge funk.

But now?

I’m better. So it’s time to talk about the baby shower. Plus? These days her son is this darling little man who wore his Michigan onesie on August 3 just to wish me a happy birthday.

See?

Baby on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Finn knows what’s up in this Michigan business.

So anyway, the shower. Katy’s sister and I put the whole thing together.

And honestly? It really was one of the highlights of my spring. The whole idea for elephants started with this invitation and just exploded from there.

I’m going to start the Elephant Shower Series with the favors today. And then I’ll get into the menu and decorations next week.

Sound good?

Here it goes.

The favors were inspired by this DIY soy candle from Ruffled blog.

Since Katy’s not all that into scented stuff, I decided to make lemon curd instead of soy candles. I found this recipe from Ina Garten and got to work peeling lemons for days. (Just a heads up: if you do make the lemon curd, use a fine lemon zester instead of a carrot peeler and put the zest in the food processor. TRUST ME.)

I found this fabulous elephant thingy from Martha Stewart while I was wandering the aisles of Michael’s and decided to use it for the tags to make them super elephant-y.

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I used watercolor paints to replicate the look of the tags on the soy candles.  I punched the elephant shapes out with the craft punch thingy. Then I glued them on pieces of cardboard.

photo-478

When the favors were all assembled they looked like this.

Lemon Curd Favors for a Baby Shower on Dogs Dishes and Decor #elephant #babyshower #babyboy

Just in case you’re wondering about the fabric, it’s Amy Butler that I had leftover from Connor’s baby shower.

That was the owl shower that didn’t happen because he arrived five weeks early…. on August 3.

It all comes full circle.

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Connor turned one… on August 3.

Anna’s Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich (Or I Find My Birthday Cake)

This past weekend my friend Anna made my birthday super special. First she took me to brunch at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, which is one of our absolute favorite spots.

See?

Birthday Brunch at Cecconi's on Dogs Dishes and Decor

We ate simply scrumptious stuff. Plus we made new friends. They sang to me and bought us lemoncello. #iadorenewfriends

Then we went to Theory to return unnecessary purchases like responsible kids. And we ended the day with some ice cream and pool time.

Dogs Dishes and Decor

I seriously love So Cal sun.

Anna had foot surgery on Monday, so I made her a gigantic get well ice cream cookie sandwich.

And guys?

This thing is INSANE. Just look at it.

Ice cream cookie sandwich on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Words fail me.

I think I might be in love. I think I have to make it again. I think it needs to be my birthday cake next weekend.

The cookie part is almost cookie cake-y and it doesn’t freeze as rock solid as these did. You can find the recipe here. I skipped the butterscotch sauce because I thought it would be sweetness overkill.

Ice cream and cookies is enough, ya know?