finding ways to use cooking, crafts, and hospitality to be a blessing for others

Friday, March 30

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

In January we dedicated* our little boy to the Lord at church.
To celebrate the event we invited our families, small group from church, and some of David's colleagues to join us at the dedication and then at our home for lunch.

Gavin's baby dedication marked the first time we had family in town while I was getting ready for a party. Everything worked out wonderfully and I was very happy to have our moms' help since I had a full plate!

Trains- David and I have liked trains since early in our relationship. It dates back to an Art class I took in college where we asked our significant others to choose a mode of transportation that symbolized our relationship, and then draw that object. David drew a train. For many reasons I love that he choose a train as well as the other things that he added to the picture.
Then, this Christmas Gavin received an ADORABLE train sweater from his Gran and Grandad Smith and the theme was born for this event!
Another special train memory for me is the train my Grandpa Dick made for our family when I was young. I have always loved the things he crafted and painted for us. My parents brought the train to the party and seeing it brought back a flood of memories of my Grandpa!
Wreath-I made a party wreath for this occasion and decided to do a black and white polka dot fabric so that it could be interchangeable for future events. I really like seasonal wreaths and the idea of a welcome wreath for parties is something I like to greet our guests with :)
I pinned on the bows and the "All Aboard" sign. For future events I will change out the bow and make a different sign to hang in the center.Signs- layering paper attached to wood skewers, I made a few train themed signs. One was at the entry as a little welcome sign, another was near the party favors, and another near the food.
This sign ended up saying "Tank You". I reprinted the sign after getting the idea but did not take a picture of it :)

Menu-I was careful to plan a menu that could have most prep done ahead of time and a main dish that could simmer in a slow cooker while we were at church.

To add some pizazz to the meal I researched the names of train parts so that I could name each item something special. For instance, a little sign near the cups said, "chugga chugga" and the sign near utensils said, "chew chew"!

Baggage Car = Utensils
Cargo = Condiments
Diesel Fuel = Ice Team
Locomotion Lemonade
Water Tower = Water
Produce Car = Assorted Veggies
Food Labels
I made the labels in Microsoft Word using a font I downloaded online. I attached striped scrapbook paper (that I cut with a scallop punch) and a small clip-art train.

Fortunately, almost everything was prepped one or two days out before the event. Because, Saturday afternoon I came down with a stomach bug and was basically useless most of Saturday evening and Sunday. I had baked cookies ahead of time but did not get to decorate them to look like trains and I did not get to finish making homemade train suckers. With those minor disappointments aside, it was wonderful how our families helped us finishing prepping all the food and setting out the platters and decor so that the party could still be a pretty and yummy event!

Music- Luckily for all of our guests I downloaded almost 100 train-themed songs. Yeah, I didn't know there were that many either... It became a joke how crazy it was to hear train engines and lingo, again and again and AGAIN!

We are so thankful to everyone who joined us for this special time! I promise I will get better at taking pictures of people!!! If it weren't for my dear sister I would not have any pictures of this party. So, thank you sis for being on your toes!
Gavin and I with his Cousins Josh and Jenni
G playing with David's family after the party

One last shout out:
Our church gave Gavin and a set of books as a dedication gift. I like them all but found one of them particularly interesting: 801 Questions Kids Ask About God. I find the q&a to be thought provoking and helpful! I highly suggest checking it out!

*Baby dedications are when parents of a young child stand before their church family and state that they will raise their child in a Christian home. The parents ask for prayer and support for the endeavor as well as for their child to grow in knowledge and love for Christ.

Friday, March 16

Sprinkled with Love

In November I worked with a group of gals to host a shower for our friend, Danielle. She was pregnant with her second little boy and we wanted to celebrate Bowen's arrival with a "sprinkle".
To weave the theme thru the event I ordered striped straws in Danielle's favorite color and made coasters, drink flags, menus using a rainy day font I had in Microsoft Word. Finally, I made floral centerpieces to coordinate. Our color palette was blue and green with hints of yellow and orange.
Being that it was a "sprinkle" we decided to follow suit with rainy day decor! The shower was held at a local restaurant in a private room that had umbrellas covering the ceiling (a wonderful coincidence).
Coasters-After designing these and coordinating them with the menus I used a large scallop punch to cut them out. Important to note-I made these on the computer but copied them onto card-stock. I did not want them to be printed with wet ink since the ink would be more likely to run after cups of water sat on it!
Straws- the striped paper we used can be hard to find; at least in the color and quantity that you desire and at a reasonable price. They come in a rainbow of color options and etsy seems to be the best place to find them; they are also available on Garnish (an awesome online store too!)
Drink Flags-I made the flags on the computer and used a straight-edge cutter to trim them to size, scissors to cut out the pennants and scrapbook tape to adhere the flag flaps to each other. Since I assembled these a few nights ahead of time, the trickiest part was finding a glue that kept the flaps attached.Menu Cards-Since we hosted the event at a restaurant we decided to have little menu cards listing the options instead of the big and not-so-cute restaurant menus.
(All photos by Kim R. and Denise M.)

Monday, March 12

Dessert Party

Some dear friends of ours, the Kahlden's, are moving to Houston.

To celebrate lots of sweet memories with them we hosted a Sweet Sendoff!
We invited lots of their friends and gathered together to send them off to a new adventure.

For decor, I thought bright colors would be pretty. So, I picked up some cute polka dot napkins and yellow plates at the store and decided to make a polka dot table runner to complement the party wreath I'd made for Gavin's baby dedication. I had some bright dotty scrapbook paper that I used for signs and cones and bright circles wrapping paper that I used for the popcorn box.

Best of all, at least for me, was looking through my assortment of platters and finding silver and glass platters with a rolled ball edge! Silly, yes--but I loved how the polka dots filled the party! (Even the sucker favors were a ball!) I can't say enough about how much fun it is to host a party filled with things you find around your house. I put together our New Year's Eve party the same way, and it was such a thrill to find things that worked well together on the fly! And, with this party- I was giddy about how cute I thought it turned out!

Since this was a Farewell Party I decided to incorporate goodbye words into the names of desserts we served. For instance, I had Bye Bye Brownies and Sayonara Snickerdoodles. And, to prep for a party full of baked goods I made quite a few things ahead of time and froze them to bake later. I will post some details about freezer cooking and party planning in the future.
Welcome Station

for recipes, follow the links

Adios Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
Bon Voyage White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Sayonara Snickerdoodles
Hasta La Vista Lemon Bars
Arrivederci Peanut Butter Kisses
Parting Pecan Bars
Ciao Caramel Popcorn
Cherrio Cheesecake with fresh fruit topping
Bid Adieu Beverage Station
Farewell Favor Station
I set out some cellophane bags for guests to take home desserts. Then, at the end of the party I plated leftovers for G and I to take to neighbors today.

Kaleb running away with a cookie. I think their little man had more treats than anyone!
Family PictureMy guys in coordinating outfits!!!
We wish the best for our friends, and look forward to visiting them in H-town!