and then there were three (part two)

Hello!

I’ve had several requests for my files for the invitations from the baby-book-shower-extravaganza but alas, those were lost in the great computer crash of November 2012. As a hopeful substitute, I’ve scanned in the one remaining hard copy and am hoping you’ll be able to piece it together yourselves. If you would like for me to design invites and such for you, I’d be happy to do so, as well. Please contact me at chuckandwelly@gmail.com and we’ll make it happen.

I used Microsoft Word for everything because that’s the extent of my computer knowledge and even that is stretching it. There are probably some kind of copyright laws I’ve violated but considering I’m not making any money, I hope I’ll be forgiven. Clicking on each link should take to straight to the exact products I used. Follow along as best you can and feel free to ask questions in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Here goes:

20121116-143730.jpgClockwise from top left:

A. This is what the invitation looked like all assembled. I ordered these library card pockets from Amazon and the clear tiny envelopes are from Paper Source. I attached the clear envelope to the front and it held a little foldover card (approx business-card size) containing all of the pertinent details. The other parts to the invitation were slipped down in the library card pocket, which conveniently fit perfectly in the envelope. Bam!

B. All of the invite innards. I’m probably using innards out of context but it’s fun to say so go with it.

C. We asked everyone to bring a book to start Baby Hunter’s library. Larger version below.

D. The envelopes are from Paper Source (have I mentioned it’s my favorite store?!). I ordered a pack of each color so I could mix and match. I’m pretty much obsessed with anything they make so you can’t go wrong. They also sell these envelope liner template kits which I highly recommend everyone own. I had one from when I made our wedding invitations and it has really come in handy. It’s basically a piece of plastic to use as a template with your choice of paper. Not necessarily rocket surgery but the $13 takes out all of the guesswork and otherwise wasted time and paper while you figure it out on your own. And the simplicity makes it a perfect husband task. For the baby shower invites, I ordered an old Winnie The Pooh book from Amazon for about $.50 and used the pages to make liners. It hurt my heart to tear up a book, but it was totally worth it because these were adorable. Okay, enough about that.

E. The inside and out of the tiny foldover card I was telling you about in picture A.

F. Envelopes all addressed and ready to go! Turns out the post office is not very picky about how you address things and they’ll deliver your stuff even if you write at an angle all across the front. They’re nice people. I left cookies in my mailbox the next day as a thank-you.

AHere is the outside of the tiny card that lives in the clear envelope. I scanned in Eeyore’s picture from the old Pooh book and just cut and pasted into a text box in Word.

BThe inside of the afore-mentioned tiny card. You can see the fold line in the middle there. The pictures are also scans from Pooh, and using my computer genius, I copied and pasted them into Word. The fonts are from this awesome website.

DThe fun library card that was the focal point of the whole deal. I made a table in Word (again, it’s the only program I know how to use) and just made it blue and then put text in places with text boxes. And because I wanted it to look authentic, I bought a date stamp from the office supply store and hand stamped all of the dates in red ink. The total size of the card is approx 3X5 and it’s printed on paper I ordered from….(three guesses…) Paper Source.

EThis insert was also stuffed into the library card pocket and explained that we wanted lots and lots of books for Baby Hunter. I googled “Cat in the Hat” and found this image and typed some things over it using my trusty Microsoft Word and a text box.

CAnd the registry information. Again, Googling “Curious George” netted me the image and I typed around it. On a side note, if you need a baby registry, I totally recommend http://www.babyli.st You can put anything from any site (even Etsy!) on one registry rather than having separate ones at every store. They totally need to make that for Christmas list purposes as well.

Again, sincere apologies for losing the files. I was pretty upset about it too. If worse comes to worse, you can maybe just save these images and type your own stuff over the top? Obviously, I have no idea how computers work. Good luck!

and it wasn’t scary at all

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There are two things in life of which I am terrified. There is an even longer list of things which scare me (like accidentally drinking expired milk or waking up to a spider on my face) or I find uncomfortable (like mustard and broken bones) but two take the cake: snakes and baby showers. Snakes are just plain old creepy and baby showers are just plain old weird. I find it awkward to hold an entire party to ask people to bring us stuff and in which the conversations center around how fat I am. There isn’t even any football to watch. Don’t even get me started on the games-talk about awkward! So with our little dude I was hoping to avoid the whole situation entirely but Husband thought it was important and my mom graciously said that I could help plan it and she promised no games (or anyone touching my belly which I find strange). Emily Post is rolling over in her grave at the etiquette faux-pas of helping to plan your own shower but I love planning parties so really don’t care. I am horrified at the thought of being the center of attention but love being at the center of the action so if I got to help with the planning, the actually party wouldn’t be as stressful for me.

That was an extremely long way to say that Mom hosted a baby shower for us, I got to help, and all of us had a great time. And it was exhausting but not scary at all.

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It was important to me to have all members of the family be included, not just women because Husband and I are starting a family as a unit and celebrating that was what I wanted the party to be all about. Also, if I was going to do this, Husband was going to have to do it, too.

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I absolutely love children’s books and reading so the theme was a natural one for Mom and I to pick. The invitations were made to look like library check-out cards, to get people in the mood.

I’ve had several requests for more details about the invites.  You can find my follow-up post with more directions here.

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so much food!

When the guests walked in, they received a “program” in the fashion of a little golden book that detailed the day’s events, menu, and a note of thanks from Husband and I.

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the program

All of the food was patterned after some of our favorite books:

Meatballs from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Fruit cups from The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Muffins (recipes can be found here and here) from If You Give A Moose A Muffin
Hot Chocolate from A Bear Called Paddington
Spinach and Ham Quiche from Green Eggs and Ham
Chantilly Cream Cake (Husband’s favorite-you can find the recipe here) from Marcel the Pastry Chef
And about 50 other things. Once we got started, we couldn’t stop!

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Banners of book covers and quotes about reading hung above the table.
A dear friend made the most adorable veggie tray ever!

One of the favorites was blueberry ebelskivers (we called them blueberry pancakes because that’s what Curious George made) so I thought I’d share the recipe for that one.

blueberry ebelskivers

from food.com
baker’s note: ebelskivers are a Danish pastry that can be stuffed with all manner of delicious things. Sometimes we make them for dinner with potatoes and ham or have plain ones rolled in cinnamon and sugar. The only catch is you need a special pan which can be found here but probably on Amazon as well.

1 3/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp pure cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of one lemon
3 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1 1/3 C buttermilk
3/4 C ricotta cheese
5 Tbsp butter, melted
1 pint blueberries
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks. Add buttermilk and ricotta
3. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until well combined. It will be lumpy. Don’t worry
4. In a separate bowl (yes, you’ll use a lot of bowls) beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
6. Put 1/2 tsp butter in each well of a ebelskiver pan. Place over medium heat until butter begins to bubble.
7. Pour 1 Tbsp batter until each well. Add a few blueberries and then 1 more Tbsp of batter.
8. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
9. Now the tricky part: turn the pancakes over and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes more. We use two wooden skewers to accomplish this. Husband does it perfectly. I make a disastrous mess.
10. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with lemon curd, jam, or syrup for the traditionalists.

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In lieu of games, we had activities that would create lasting memories for Babysaurus.

Guests could design a fabric page for a touch-and-feel book. We just set out all types of fabric and stencils and let them go to town.
Instead of a guest book, people wrote a note to Babysaurus (and/or advice for his parents!) to be opened on a birthday of their choosing. We set out 19 envelopes-one for each year, birth day through eighteen-and each year as he opens those notes, he’ll be reminded of all of those praying for him and who love him.

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Husband and I were completely overwhelmed with the generosity of our friends and guests: I’m pretty sure Baby Hunter is set for life! Not to mention, he has a pretty sweet library now.

the surprise was foiled but the party was still on

This is a very very belated post that I promised you about four months ago….I kept thinking that I would find the good pictures but I never did so sorry about the poor quality…I’m thinking I must have picked up someone else’s phone and taken pictures with it. If that’s you, I’m sorry…

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Husband loves beer. He doesn’t love beer in that he sits half-naked with a case of bud light in a lawn chair on the front porch. He loves beer in that he goes to beer festivals and gets fancy sampler things and sits and sips and thinks and rates them. So when planning his birthday party this year (which was in June…yes, I’m a little behind), having a theme was a no-brainer. Hosting our own beer tasting would be the perfect way to get all of his favorite things under one roof: good friends, good beer, good food, and cake. I thought it would be even better to make this a surprise party so I conspired to send him golfing that day and then would come home to a party. Except that his one birthday request was to not leave the house. Drat. So in a moment of frustration, I spilled the beans. The surprise part was foiled but the party was still on and I think it worked out better this way since Husband got to help plan the menu.

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I asked each guest to bring their favorite craft brew. I thought this would net us just the right amount of variety and quantity. Turns out, everyone was very excited about this and each person brought several varieties. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much beer in one place in my entire life. Husband said that it was just the right amount. Shockingly, the entire party stayed classy, pinata time included. I was incredibly impressed. Tonto was the only one who ruined anything when she ate the logs for the bonfire (therefore the s’mores didn’t happen) and an entire bag of M&Ms. That dog has a stomach of steel. It didn’t even phase her.

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I set up a beer tasting station and make ratings cards and voting slips so that we could determine the favorite brew (winner got to take home the extras). I didn’t do so well on the taking of pictures once the party got started but thankfully I had the foresight to do a little pre-emptive photography. The empty bins in the picture are plastic shoe boxes from the dollar store that I covered in burlap. I filled the bottom of each one with ice and voila: instant cooler. One bottle of each kind went in the bins and the rest went in the fridge and was replaced as needed.

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I’ll be more than happy to share any of the products I made for the party but am not technologically savvy enough to put them on the internet. Leave a comment below and I’ll happily e-mail you the files. It’s not about being stingy, it’s about living the stone-age.

For decorations, I found some beer-themed imagery on the internet and pinned them up around the house. Things like “the history of beer” and flavor charts and party rules for help in rating. There were custom mustache coasters, too! I also made some banners out of cardstock and hung them around the house.

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The food was my favorite part: build-your-own mini burger bar, baked potato salad, a variety of other things that go on a grill and a ton of other stuff I can’t remember right now since the party was 4 months ago. In order to adequately taste beer, you need fancy cheeses and pretzels. I really don’t know why but I’ve never been to a beer tasting without them, so we had those too. I found a recipe for making your own pretzels so we had them hot and straight out of the oven and served in french fry cones with newsprint liners. (Which I bought at World Market but they no longer carry. You can get the same things here and here) Here is the recipe for the pretzels which were fantastic.

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hot buttered pretzels
from the budget-savy diva
4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp table salt
2 tsp melted butter
1 tsp oil
1 C powdered sugar
one packet of active dry yeast + water as directed on package

2 C warm water
2 Tbsp baking soda

1. Prepare yeast according to package directions.
2. Add oil to the yeast and stir
3. Mix flour, powdered sugar, salt and butter in a separate bowl and add yeast mixture.
4. Knead dough for about 10 minutes. Or if you’re me, just put it in your Kitchen Aid with the dough hook attachment, turn it on, and go drink some coffee while it does the work for you.
5. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest in a warm place where it won’t be disturbed for about an hour or until doubled in size. When doing yeast dough, I warm up my oven while I’m preparing the dough, then turn it off and place the dough inside and close the door. Then it stays warm and no dogs, ducks, or husbands try to eat it.
6. When dough has risen, proceed to the following steps:
7. Preheat oven to 400
8. Dissolve baking soda in warm water. Divide dough into sections and roll into ropes. I was making pretzel sticks so I was able to get a lot from one batch of dough. Mine were about 6″ long and 1/2″ thick.
9. Dip dough into baking soda wash and then place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Parchment paper is actually important for this – your cookie sheet will never be the same otherwise and your pretzels won’t be as crispy and delicious.
10. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Top with melted butter and kosher salt.
11. Yum!

Gifts were the next best part. I ordered this make-your-own-beer-kit for Husband along with a beer journal and some bar ware. That kit was like the gift that keeps on giving: Husband loves it and has been making beer non-stop and has become even more of a connoisseur. I highly recommend this gift for any Husband. But beware, he’ll start asking for space in your pantry to keep his things. And then he’ll want you to develop recipes to pair with his new beer and will ask you to write blog posts about his new hobby.

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Happy Birthday, Husband!

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