table-setting-large-silver-urn-with branches-surrounded by flowers
Table Setting for La Table Fundraiser

It was an honor to be asked to participate in a fundraising event in our town called La Table. The idea behind the event is that each table has a host or hostess that chooses his or her own theme. The host/hostess invites friends to join him or her at the table!

table setting decorations with rose medallion and lindroth designs

I was thrilled to design a table for this year’s event. This is the 9th year that La Table has been hosted by Family Promise of Athens. Family Promise is a group that includes volunteers from churches in the area who provide temporary housing for displaced families. It’s an incredibly valuable organization and one that I am so happy to help.

table linens in green blue and coral with mint plants and poppy flowers

The theme that I chose for my table was “Mint to Serve”- and I alluded to mint throughout the table decorations. My inspiration for the theme came from a gathering at The Southern C where B. Claire Events provided each person a chance to create their own floral arrangement in a mini mint julep cup. I fell in love with the mini julep cups and wanted to do something fun and pretty with them. In contrast to the mini julep cups, I borrowed an enormous silver urn to mimic the cup. The large urn was loaned to me from European Floral Design.

lady in ivory dress standing next to table top decoration

The blooming branches in the center urn and all of the cut flowers were also from European Floral Design. I described the color scheme and my ideas to Brett at EFD and she ordered the gorgeous flowers for me.

table setting with rose medallion china on gold plate with green napkin

I was able to borrow large and medium sized mint julep cups from European Floral Design to mix in and around the table. I filled the cups with all of the beautiful ranunculus, tulips, roses, and berries. I wanted there to be an explosion of colorful flowers surrounded by mint plants. I added name cards on rough-edged paper with hand-written names.

mini mint julep cup on rose medallion plate with flowers

I bought mint plants from Lowe’s and potted them in white planters from European Floral Design. Initially, I wanted about twice as many plants on the table, but I scaled it back to give us all room to have food! 🙂

mini mint julep cup on rose medallion plate with flowers

At each place setting, I used my woven rattan chargers and topped them with gold and white dinner plates. On top of the dinner plates, I used antique Rose Medallion plates (bought from Appointments at Five). I added a mini mint julep cup filled with flowers and mint leaves on top of each Rose Medallion plate.

mint julep napkin with mini julep cup and mint plant

I was also lucky enough to have Lemondaisy Designs offer to send cocktail napkins to be a part of the table top. I thought the julep cup art on each cocktail napkin was perfect! The mint leaf garnish was the perfect touch to go with the green polka dots, too!

table-setting-mint-to-be-rose-medallion-julep-cup

For table linens, I chose tablecloths and napkins from Lindroth Designs. I ordered the same pattern in 3 different colors so that I could play with the colors but keep it cohesive. I placed the green tablecloth over the round table and draped the other two tablecloths around the centerpiece.

table setting with mint plants and textiles

The flowers were the same colors as the linens…

close up of poppies roses and ranunculas in cup
roses and ranunculus in orange and peach on. blue and green tablecloth
red pink yellow poppies in vase on table

Because this was a fund-raiser, the tables were meant to be a bit over-the-top rather than traditional. The oversized centerpiece was to make a statement rather than to enjoy conversation over. That is part of the fun of this event- the tables are more extravagant than everyday life!

table-setting-large-silver-urn-with branches-surrounded by flowers

This was such a joy to put together. It was also so nice to enjoy with a table full of friends and a room full of giving hearts. Wishing you all a beautiful day and hopefully some inspiration to create colorful table settings for your friends and family!

Cheers xo,

Lydia

Pots de Creme

If you love a rich and creamy chocolate dessert, then this one is just for you! The name alone- Pots de Creme- sounds very fancy, but you will be surprised at how easy it is to make this decadent and delicious dessert! My college roommate and forever friend gave me the recipe after she impressed me with her fancy dessert on one of my visits to see her and her family. Her husband is half French and so he suggested this treat. She knew me well enough to know that it would be a big hit, and that we would basically eat all of the servings in one night just like our college days!

For this recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients. It is quick and easy to make- you only need to allow time for it to chill. You can find more elaborate recipes- I know they used to add in a step called a “water bath” to finish the recipe, but it just isn’t necessary to achieve the same result. I have also used a double boiler to melt the chocolate and mix in the cream, but I have found that letting the heated yolks and milks melt the chocolate in the blender is the best method for keeping it simple. As you can see in the photo below, it whips up to be so thick and rich… and so small serving sizes are ideal. I use 4-ounce ramekins and a small amount of homemade, fresh whipped cream to top the chocolate goldmine. Of course, you can use larger serving sizes and add more whipped cream plus any other topping you like. Raspberries and strawberries are always a perfect way to up the delish factor, but I am a purist when it comes to chocolate pots of cream.

party ideas pots de creme

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Lydia Menzies

Ingredients
  

  • 12 oz. bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can also go with darker chocolate if you like)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Whisk the egg yolks, 1 cup of the cream, the milk, granulated sugar and salt in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking and stir constantly for about 5 minutes until it is almost boiling. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the spoon or spatula.
  • Place the chocolate chips into a blender and then pour the milk mixture over the chocolate chips. Use care with the hot milk mixture. If using a food processor, cover the open spout with a cloth to prevent the hot mixture from contacting skin. Blend until smooth– scrape the sides as needed to be sure it is all mixed smoothly.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into ramekins and place in refrigerator to set. The pots de creme should be chilled in 2-3 hours.
  • When ready to serve, whip the 1/2 cup of heavy cream with confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in vanilla. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on the top of each ramekin. Top with berries, if desired. Serve and enjoy!

If you would like to be more authentic in the way you serve this dessert, look for antique pots de creme serving dishes at antique or vintage shops. You can also find sets or individual pots online. The sets are tiny cups with one handle and a lid. A small spoon is used for eating from the small pots- usually a demitasse spoon. If I were to buy a set for our family to have, I would choose these…


Aren’t they so pretty? I also love the new set made by Mottaheda. The neutral color works for every occasion. But, clearly the decadence of the dessert itself stands alone no matter what you choose to serve it in- a simple ramekin works just fine, too!

I always love to hear how you like the recipes that I share! Leave a comment below and give me your thoughts. Also, if you have egg whites that are left over from making this dessert, you can use them to make this Pavlova! Sometimes it is helpful to be able to make 2 easy desserts at once for special occasions. Happy Baking!

Best Pavlova with Strawberries

I don’t know what it is about egg whites and sugar being baked at a low temp, but it creates magic in the form of meringue- and this meringue cake called a Pavlova. This dessert is named after the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova…and I can see why! Light, airy, delicate, lovely, sweet, and beautiful~ does that sound like a ballerina to you? That also describes this easy yet fancy dessert! I am no ballerina, but just the thought of this dessert makes me want to twirl. :). I made this dessert as part of our Mother’s Day celebration- my mom LOVES strawberries and so I always love setting a strawberry themed table for Mother’s Day in her honor!

I doubled the recipe so that I could show you how beautiful the large Pavlova is as a main event (shown above) and how pretty and dainty mini pavlovas look for more individualized servings (shown below).

As a child, I grew up with my mom baking meringue cookies each Christmas and they were always my favorite. I remember how she would tell me that you could never bake meringue on a rainy or damp day- and so it would make it extra-special to have to wait for the right day. The humidity will ruin a batch of meringue- I have tested the theory many times out of impatience in hopes that each time my mom would not be right. But we all know that mom is always right- and yes, baking meringue on a rainy or otherwise humid day does not work out well. So, please keep that in mind when you decide to make these. Damp weather makes for flat and chewy meringues- I speak from experience! And so, I want to share the Pavlova recipe that is a version of the meringue cookies I fell in love with as a child. Follow the recipe below for an impressive-looking and somewhat fancy desert! It is so much easier than it seems!

I love the look of the big pavlova – and I would love to know which one you prefer (the large or the minis?). The biggest difference to me is in serving them. Below, I show you the Pavlova after it has been sliced. Expect the crust to crack and break a little when the dessert is cut. It gives it a rustic feel and is definitely not like cutting a flour-based cake.

Individual servings make the actual act of serving the dessert easier- it really depends on your guests and the feel you want to achieve. If it is more formal, I would suggest individual servings. If you are wanting a more casual feel, go ahead and make the show-stopping large version and don’t worry one bit when it cracks as it is cut. It is delicious either way!

This dessert is great for anytime of the year- but my very favorite time to make and serve Pavlova is during strawberry season. There is nothing like topping the dessert with freshly-picked strawberries and adding in other berries of your choice. I go with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries along with the strawberries, but I am a berry girl. Choose your favorites or stick with just strawberries. If you want to continue with the strawberry theme, add strawberry touches to your place setting. This is really perfect for a Mother’s Day gathering. I love it when strawberry season and Mother’s Day collide!

Here, I used a white tablecloth and then added green pagoda wrapping paper down the center of the table as a runner. The gorgeous paper is from A Pretty Paper Company/Ruby Stripe. I love being able to change up the look of a table setting by incorporating beautiful patterns from wrapping paper. It makes a difference at a fraction of the cost of a customized tablecloth. Clean up is also very easy! No washing, dry cleaning, or ironing necessary when you decorate the table with a paper runner. Ruby Stripe sent me their pagoda designs in green and in white. I used the green background for the table and the white background coordinated perfectly with a small gift at the table for Mother’s Day. The fabulous compote that I used in the center of the table in lieu of flowers is from Parker Kennedy Living and is a vintage piece. I added trendy plates from Kate Spade in a strawberry pattern and her bright yellow china pattern to tie it all together. The adorable serving dish with strawberries in it and bees on the outside is from PKL-The Cellar.

Add in touches of pastel pink, and it will ground the bright, vivid colors and bring it all together. I added pink lemonade and pink satin ribbon to the gifts to bring in the small touch of soft pink that the table needed. I really love mixing patterns, and I feel like it works best when coordinated with white and with a solid, pastel color.

Here is my favorite Pavlova recipe…it is different from what my family usually thinks of for dessert- and they all love it. It gets rave reviews from the adults and the teenagers. I literally hide the dessert from my son so that he doesn’t decide to taste test too soon. He has been known to polish-off an entire dessert all by himself when no one is looking (which is also how we discovered his tree nut allergy when he was a toddler). I hope you love this as much as my family does. It makes it into the dessert rotation as often as I can- it is truly delicious! It is perfect for everything from a ladies’ lunch, to Mother’s Day, to a birthday celebration. Tell me your favorite topping on a Pavlova by leaving me a comment below and tell me what your family thinks of this dessert! Happy Baking!

Pavlova

You will need…

4 egg whites (use egg yolks to make Pots de Creme)

1 cup granulated sugar (spin it in the food processor for a few seconds to make it fine and it will taste even better)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream- made with…

1 cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Strawberries (plus blueberries, raspberries, blackberries if you like)

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING THE PAVLOVA –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You will reduce the temperature to 200 degrees after you put the mixture in the oven.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I have tried using non-stick pans without parchment paper and it always sticks- you definitely want to use the parchment paper).

Using a mixer (handheld or upright), beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. This usually takes 5-7 minutes depending on your mixer.

Next, add sugar (one Tablespoon at a time) and continue to beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. The mixture will be thick and glossy.

Add the vanilla extract and use mixer to mix it in.

Combine the cream of tartar and the cornstarch in a small dish and then fold into the egg white mixture using a spoon or spatula.

Spread the mixture in an 8-inch circle onto the prepared pan. Or, spoon small sizes onto the pan to make individual servings. The sides should be higher than the middle of the circle so that you can add the whipped cream and fruit to the middle.

Place the Pavlova in the oven and turn oven temperature to 200 degrees (F). Leave oven door closed and let bake for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, turn off the oven and let the Pavlova completely cool inside the oven. This step is part of the trick to the perfect Pavlova- I leave it for a couple of hours or more and let it rest. When you remove it from the oven, the Pavlova should have a crisp outer crust and will be marshmallow-like in the center. When you are ready to serve dessert, add whipped cream (see below for homemade whipped cream) and berries to the top of the Pavlova. Serve immediately and enjoy!

HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM RECIPE

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 Tablespoons Confectioner’s Sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using the mixer, begin to whip the heavy cream until it thickens.

Add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue to whip until soft peaks form (don’t over beat the cream). You will have around 2 cups of fluffy whipped cream. It is best served immediately, but the whipped cream will typically hold its shape for a day if tightly covered and refrigerated. Just as a side note, the kids and I tried using Cool Whip as a substitute for whipped cream. Cool Whip was no match for the real thing- the Pavlova is so much better with homemade whipped cream and it is so easy to make!

xo,

Lydia

bar cart for cinco de mayo fiesta
Shake up Your Fiesta! Mexican Themed Party Drinks

Cheers to having new ideas for fun drinks to add to your celebration rotation! A signature drink for a get-together always makes for a nice greeting for your guests as they arrive- and today I am sharing 2 recipes that will shake up your classic margarita recipe just a bit! I love this homemade version and I think you will, too! Also, I am going to share a non-alcoholic drink that you can whip up easily for your younger or non-drinking friends! So, join me for this fiesta full of ideas to help you host your next party! And, I have to brag on the girls from Party Hat Paper Company who sent me a box FULL of fiesta party supplies! The streamers and party fans are so easy to put together and have such a wow factor!

bar-cart-fiesta-balloon

I really love the FIESTA balloons that are so easy to assemble and really put the perfect touch on the decorations over the bar cart. All you have to do is unfold the letter balloons and use a straw to inflate them. The balloons seal automatically- no tying or twisting. They are just simple to do. I strung them on fishing wire using the holes in the table that are made into the tops of each balloon letter.

fiesta-letter-balloons

To set up this bar cart, I really wanted the top part to be the usable part and the bottom part to be decorative. I put all of the ingredients needed for the drinks on the top, plus glasses, a shaker, ice, cocktail napkins, flowers, and some pretty cookies just in case someone would rather have a cookie than a drink! Something for everyone, right? The bottom shelf of the bar cart was so easy to pull together. I used luminaries from Party Hat Paper Company’s fiesta party kit. I added glasses that my friend tells me look like a cactus, some water for good measure, and a bowl of extra lemons and limes just in case. The party box also came with the garlands that you see on the front of the cart- I loved how easy it was to drape them on the cart and how perfectly they dressed it up and added interest and color!

titos-tequila-patron

For the recipes, I stopped by Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens and bought the ingredients I needed- and they are always so helpful, by the way. For the margarita, I am sharing my favorite marg from an Athens favorite- Taqueria del Sol (there are locations in Atlanta and Nashville if you are close to those cities). It is named “Westside Rita” (aka “the Westside”) and is my favorite Friday night toddy. It gets its name from the location in Atlanta of the first Taqueria del Sol. Here is what you need to make this citrusy margarita…

The Best Homemade Margarita

Salt

2 Fresh Lime Wedges or Slices

2 ounces Herradurra Reposado Tequila

1 ounce Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur

3 ounces Fresh Sweet-and Sour Mix (see below)

To make the Sweet-and-Sour Mix, you will need

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup lime juice

1/2 cup lemon juice

To make the Sweet and Sour Mix…combine 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar in a saucepan and heat on high. Let boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup lime juice and stir. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

  1. Pour salt into a small plate
  2. Use the lime wedge to wet the rim of a 12 oz. glass
  3. Dip the rim of glass in the salt.
  4. Pour tequila, liqueur, and Sweet-and-Sour Mix into a shaker with ice.
  5. Shake it up! Pour into glass. Garnish with other lime wedge.
  6. Sip and enjoy!
fiesta-recipe
Recipe from Turnip Greens and Tortillas by Eddie Hernandez of Taqueria del Sol
best-mexican-recipes


Basil Limonada

For this next recipe, this is fresh basil limeade which is perfect as it is but also makes a great base for a cocktail or a fizzy drink. If you want to make it a cocktail, add in a splash of Tito’s Tequila. If you prefer to make it into a soda, just replace the regular water with sparkling water. So perfect for a hot day! Here’s how to make it…

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups water

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 or 3 limes, quartered

Ice

  1. Place the sugar and water in a large pitcher and stir until the sugar dissolves. Measure out 1 cup.

2. Put the limes and basil in a blender, add the 1 cup sugar water and puree the mixture

3. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer back into the pitcher with the remaining sugar water. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to press any pulp. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Serve over ice and garnish with a basil leaf and/or lime slice.

bar-cart-fiesta

Click on the video to see the fun you should definitely have when making these drinks and meet my friend Ellen! She’s a party all on her own! Giant sombrero optional!

Cheers XO,

Lydia

table set with green and white gingham placemats flowers in blue vases and favor boxes
Best Buds/Spring Supper Club

My teenage daughter’s Supper Club has become something I look forward to each time that we host it! Each one has a different theme and different menu, but the friendships and fun grow every time! For this Supper Club, the theme was “Best Buds” and we went with a flower theme. We hosted it on the Thursday before Easter- which was the night before a school holiday began. Many of the girls were already traveling for Easter break, and so we had a smaller group than we usually do- but it was not small on chatter and laughter and all of the things that make each one so much fun!

Favor Boxes by Loralee Lewis /Vases by Parker Kennedy Living/ Styling and Photo by Lydia Menzies

Doing something different each time is always fun, and setting the table around the theme is, too! My friend David, of Parker Kennedy Living, showed me some vases they had just gotten in at their shop and offered to let me use them for the flower themed party. The colors were perfect, and I could picture them with pink, orange, and yellow flowers. We loaded them all into my car and they became the focal point of the Supper Club table.

I found ranunculus at Trader Joe’s and bought all they had in the colors I needed. The blooms were stunning and I loved the way the stems curved and swayed. I formed a “table runner” with all of the vases down the center of the table and ended up using around 50 vases. The blue and green milk glass vases are gorgeous on their own and then even more so when you pop in all of the flowers. I especially like the different shapes and sizes of the vases. When I put them on the table, I didn’t overthink the order of the vases but instead just varied the colors and heights to make it look eye-catching. I used more blue than green simply because that is what I had. Here is an overhead view…

For the placemats and favor boxes, I ordered from my friend Loralee Lewis. I loved the mix of green and white gingham with the floral print in pinks, yellows and greens. Inside of each of the favor boxes, we put a gold foil bunny from our local chocolate shop, Condor Chocolate. The favor boxes looked pretty at each place setting. This collection by Loralee Lewis is called Happy Floral and has lots of other pretty pieces in this design. I fell in love with the green gingham and Loralee printed the pattern on placemats for us.

I played around with the table setting a little- I loved the layer of yellow that the Kate Spade plates added to the white and pink glass plates…which way do you like better? See below for just the white with the pink depression glass plates. I found Rose Lemonade at Target and loved that it was a mix of lemonade with a flower- a perfect drink for our flower theme! Not to be confused with Rose’ Lemonade- this drink is made with Rose Water and is non-alcoholic, of course – serving to teens and all! But the cashier at Target asked to see my ID because she thought it was wine lemonade… and then my daughter thought I had made a mistake and bought them Rose’ too! I definitely drank one myself just to check and to be on the safe side. 🙂

And, in keeping with the “Best Buds” theme, each girl had a bud vase with a flower at her seat. I was lucky enough to meet Maizie Clark at The Southern Coterie Summit in February, and we teamed up to create these custom bud vases for the girls. Maizie send over 2 flower designs that she hand drew, and my daughter chose the flower that she liked best. They were then printed onto the vases and shipped to us to use as gifts for our guests. The girls seemed to love the thought and sentiment of the vases, and I can’t thank Maizie and Michelle enough for creating such a sweet gift for us to share with friends!

Custom Bud Vases by Maizie Clark

We decided on the white flower (or Camille did and I agreed) because that way, no matter what bloom you put in the vase, it would always show off the beautiful flower. We love the “best buds” inscription on the vase!

The bud vases were such a hit and so were the fabulous paintings that were created for the girls by Mary Sams. Mary is the mom of one of the girls- she is so talented and was so kind to paint one for each of the Supper Club Girls.

The girls loved being able to choose the girl and color scheme they liked the most- and they look so pretty all grouped together! I love that the girls have some special treats to remind them of their buds- and that they know the artist personally!

For this Supper Club, I kept the menu very easy! Because I hosted my website re-launch party earlier on the same day, I ordered croissant sandwiches and a fruit platter from Chicken Salad Chick, salads from Maepole in Athens, and had pigs in a blanket from Home.Made in Athens. Some of the menu was the same as the luncheon earlier in the day- I just ordered enough to have for both parties. We did have an extra-special dessert for Supper Club…

Aren’t these cake pops soooo cute??? Bunnies holding bouquets of flowers?? I couldn’t love them more, and they couldn’t be more perfect for our spring Supper Club that was held just before Easter! The cake pops were made by Pop Pedler in California and shipped carefully across the US to make it Georgia in time for the party. You can see they made the trip well! Pop Pedler was and is so wonderful to work with- she is just the most talented and most thoughtful!

The details are just so cute and sweet! From the bows in their “hare” (sorry) and their tiny pearl feet…there is also an adorable bunny tail on the back made of a pearl sprinkle. Pop Pedler has won me over with her creative treats, and I can’t wait to order again soon! And, I ordered extra so that I could have some for Easter lunch with my family. I just put them in the refrigerator and they were perfect for dessert on Sunday!

I also attempted to make the bunny cake pops stand in the Dirt Cup desserts that my daughter and her friend made for Supper Club. I needed a taller container or a shorter stick, but you get the idea!

It was such a nice Spring night, we took the party outside and the girls enjoyed hanging out on the porch. They also got into the leftover cooler of sodas (with permission, of course) that we had earlier in the day at the website launch lunch. They are always a joy to have over and I can’t wait to see them all again soon!

THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING COMPANIES FOR THEIR BEAUTIFUL PRODUCTS!

CUSTOM “BEST BUDS” VASES- MAIZIE CLARKE

BLUE AND GREEN MILKGLASS VASES- PKL-THE CELLAR

FAVOR BOXES & GINGHAM PLACEMATS- LORALEE LEWIS

FLOWER GIRLS ARTWORK- MARY SAMS

BUNNY CAKE POPS- POP PEDLER

Easter Supper Club

With Peter Cottontail getting ready to hop down the bunny trail soon, I wanted to show y’all the Easter Supper Club that my teenage daughter and I hosted for her and her friends!

I often share about our Supper Clubs on Instagram, and it is the most asked about topic I get! Hosting a Supper Club is a fun way to get the girls together and let them enjoy just hanging out, eating, chatting, and sometimes some really loud singing. I truly love seeing them come through the door each time and look forward to coming up with new ideas for each time. I try to keep the menu different every time- but I do pay attention to the things that go over really well and sometimes repeat those certain dishes.

The very first question I am always asked is, “how many girls do you host each time?”. The answer to that is that we have about 24 girls and we range each time from around 18-24 gathered together! My daughter and I typically choose a theme and then go from there with planning. This Easter Supper Club is one of my favorites because Loralee Lewis spoiled us and sent us gorgeous paper designs made especially for us. Loralee has a beautiful selection of designs ready in her shop, but she let us design our own for this one which was such a treat! We gave her our vision for a preppy, springtime meal and she worked her design magic and shipped it all to us.

For a springtime dinner, I like to serve lighter fare and lots of fresh produce. The menu for this Supper Club was sandwiches, gazpacho, veggie platters with hummus, a big bowl of berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries), pita chips, and dessert. I made my favorite gazpacho recipe that actually happens to be one of my daughter’s all-time favorites. We served the gazpacho in the soup containers that you see above. I love serving gazpacho because you can make it a day ahead and the flavors get better overnight. I will share the recipe soon as it is one of my go-to recipes for spring and summer. I feel really lucky that my kids actually love it. It was even one of their favorites when they were babies!

When I was deciding how to set the table, I really wanted to use the bold green and white stripes to coordinate with Loralee’s quatrefoil design on the placemats and soup containers. The green stripe matched perfectly to the green top on the container. I also wanted to pull in the navy blue that was used and so I found a larger quatrefoil napkin print in navy that I loved and went with it. I also layered the dinner plates and dessert plates in green and pink, and as you can see, repeated the pink and green with the straws and cups. For flowers, I really wanted to use pink tulips- and when I saw the tulipieres (tulip holders) at Parker Kennedy Living -The Cellar, I knew those would be the perfect pieces for the center of the table. The tulipieres are pieces that I use all spring and summer, and they make flower arrangements so easy to create. And, they don’t have to be just for tulips!

Did you notice how the little favor boxes and straw flags from Loralee Lewis say, “Egg-stra”? Those were a fun nod to one of the girls’ favorite things to say at the time- “you’re so extra” was the inspiration for that little detail, and we just adapted it because it fit perfectly with an Easter theme!

Speaking of extra, I always love making the dessert table a little extra! And, no one ever seems to mind! Ha! Loralee sent over these carrot boxes with customized tags on them and I filled them with Lindt chocolate carrots and put them in a basket with grass. I bought the grass at Lowe’s and potted it in the basket, and then placed the tips of the carrots in the grass.

I really love how the chocolate carrot candy fits perfectly in the carrot-shaped boxes! They were made for each other! I think these carrot boxes with candy would make adorable teacher gifts or neighbor gifts for Easter, too.

We are lucky enough to live close enough to the amazing Mac Lab and are able to pick up their super cute and so delicious macarons often. For this Supper Club, we ordered their specialty macarons and were so happy with them! The bunny macs are too cute and the girls loved them!

I displayed them using egg cups that I bought at Hobby Lobby. I poured sprinkles in the egg cups so that I could nestle the bunnies in them and help them stay up.

The bunny macarons are the kind of treat that is just so cute, you really hesitate to bite into them. And, then you want to save a few because they’re just fun to have~ and they make everyone smile. (As a side note, Mac Lab now offers shipping- which means you can have some even if you aren’t in the Atlanta area.)

I also made some bright Easter Peeps topiaries for the dessert table- they were really fun to make and were actually pretty easy!

To make the Easter Peeps Towers/ Topiaries, I started with styrofoam cones that I bought at Hobby Lobby. I broke toothpicks in half and used them to attach the marshmallow bunny Peeps to the cone. As I was making them, I perfected the pattern a little better as I went. The tallest tower is the last one that I made and you can definitely see the improvement. So, if you decide to make one too- use the tall one as your guide. 🙂 I tied big pink bows at the top to cover the small space that is not covered by the marshmallows. I attached the bows with a straight pin and then used the topiaries on the dessert table. And, yes, the girls asked if they could eat them! Lol

I encouraged them to try eating these instead. My daughter loves chocolate pudding and so she made tiny jars of pudding for everyone and we topped them with edible grass and adorable cookies from Tara at Bambella Cookies.

While the girls were enjoying dinner and dessert, I secretly arranged a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt. It was so much fun! I asked two college girls that we know and love to help us put battery tea lights inside of several hundred eggs. My son was in charge of pulling out all of the tabs in the lights that you have to remove so that they will turn on- and then my daughter, our college friends, and I loaded the eggs with lights- and then they hid them all over the yard. When the girls came outside after dessert, the yard was glowing with eggs every where. It looked so pretty to see all of the eggs lit up. The photos don’t begin to do it justice, but it was really pretty. If you ever have a chance to do a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt, I say go for it! It is especially perfect for older kids.

When the girls found all of the eggs, they met me at the front porch where I had set up a couple of stations with candy. They could trade their eggs for candy and that way I was able to get all of the eggs and lights back so that I can do it again sometime! We had one prize egg and we had a basket of goodies for the friend that found the golden egg…

It was such a fun time! I love these girls and already can’t wait for the next one!

Happy Birthday, Tuck and Blue! Dog Party Ideas

There is nothing quite like having your very first dog- and for us that became plural when we fell in love with 2 puppies on the same day! My son has always wanted a Golden Retriever, but allergies kept us from being able to have one. As much as he loves them, he was allergic to them! And so, I began researching Golden Doodles- the most adorable combination of Golden Retriever and Poodle! We found exactly what we were hoping for and more! More, as in a “typical” Golden Doodle and then a Golden Doodle that looked just like a Golden Retriever- my son’s wish come true!

We literally begged my husband to agree to getting two dogs- he had grown up with dogs and knew 2 puppies would be a handful. But, we persevered and convinced him that we could do it! Coming from a girl who had never had a dog…my husband was right- 2 puppies at one time is a handful, but we survived the beginning, most transitional days and everyone adjusted well! Surviving the first year of two puppies was definitely worthy of a celebration in our house. We, literally, spent about two years learning about the best dogs for allergies, the best temperaments, the way they shed, etc. etc. We researched dog breeders, made our choice(s), and survived the funny and slightly exhausting first year of having two puppies join the family!

I couldn’t resist the urge to have look-alike puppy cakes made for our family to enjoy as a fun way to celebrate our puppies’ first birthdays. The pups were born a week a part, but we celebrated them both in the middle of that week with these fun cakes for us and Puppy Parfaits for the doggies. I had cute gold and white mini party hats from Crated and so we put those on Tuck and Blue (and their cakes) for a puppy cuteness. For their cakes, I wanted to have a little bit of color, and so I added ribbon to each of the hats on the cakes.

We laughed when we saw the cakes and how closely they resembled our dogs! I ordered the cakes from The Bee’s Knees Bakery in Athens, GA and gave them a photo of each pup. I thought they did a great job of making Tuck and Blue in cake form.

The more retriever-looking dog is Blue, and Blue is a little timid about strangers. His cake must have really looked like another dog to him because he barked and barked at it. He kept giving it the side-eye and then he would move away from it. Lol His nose eventually got the best of him, and he couldn’t resist getting a little closer to sniff. Needless to say, our social butterfly, Tuck, didn’t have any problems with the idea of a cake dog in the room with him! He looked at his cake (and Blue’s cake) with dreamy eyes and a goofy grin. The same way he looks at his doggie treats. He was a good boy to sit, wear a hat, and let us take photos of him!

While we humans enjoyed the birthday cake, we served the Birthday Boys a puppy parfait each. We made it with their favorite treats- pumpkin, greek yogurt, apples, and peanut butter. That sounds crazy, right? They loved it so much. I never knew dogs would love canned pumpkin (great for their tummies)- and I really had no idea that Greek yogurt was so good to them and for them! Did you? I have learned so much this past year with these pups! Of course, we did not give them any of the birthday cakes- those were totally for us! They did get a new chew toy each, though!

I always love taking photos of Blue in front of our blue door at our house. It just seems right. You can tell it is April in the south by the amount of pollen that is on the steps- and that is after I swept! I will never forget the time one of my neighbors/friends who had moved to Georgia from Australia called the company who built her back deck on her house and told them the wood was rotting or something was going on- because the whole thing had turned yellow! She had never seen pollen before (lucky lady), and had no idea what it was! They all had a good laugh, and now I think of her every spring when the pollen paints everything yellow!

I think Blue’s big smile sums up all of our thoughts on our first year together. We couldn’t be more in love with Tuck and Blue- and we loved celebrating their very first birthdays!! We are so glad we added them to our family and we all wonder what we did with ourselves before we had them!

I would love to know about your dogs! Tell me about them in the comments below! What kind do you have and tell me if you celebrate them? I never realized how crazy I would be over these 2 puppies, but I am so thrilled to have the happiness that they bring! You can read more about Tuck and Blue here- and you can follow them over on Instagram!

Xo,

Lydia

animal themed party with felt hats
Colorful Birthday Party Ideas

Have you ever felt stuck when trying to choose an idea for a theme for a birthday party? Sometimes, the best option is to NOT choose a theme, but instead choose colors that the birthday boy or girl loves. That way, you can make everything coordinate beautifully without being tied to one thing. It kind of opens up the options and makes planning even more fun! Today, I am going to show you how to use a colorful combination- and these party ideas could also be used for a rainbow theme or animal theme if you prefer to stick with a that…it’s like 3 in one!

The inspiration for this party started when I found these adorable hats- they are made of felt and have the cutest animal faces on them. I fell in love with the color combo and the whimsical design of the party hats- I love how each hat is a different animal and I love those ears!

Admittedly, I am a little obsessed with the cuteness and wanted to replicate the animal faces for the cake and other sweet treats for the party. Brenda, of Sugar High Inc., created the fondant cake toppers. I told her how I would use them on skewers, and she was able to make them so that all I had to do was just assemble the skewer and the topper when I was ready to use them. They were perfect! For the cake, I bought a cake at my local grocery store and added pink sprinkles to it. I knew I wanted a simple cake so that the fondant hat toppers would stand out. Next, I even used the animal faces for the drink toppers…

Sachiko, of Mimi Cafe Union, made these darling drink bottle toppers for me. They look exactly like the little hats in fondant form! They had holes for the straws to slide through and were perfect for keeping a lid on it!

When I saw the colorful rainbow plates from Oh Happy Day Party Shop, I couldn’t believe how perfectly the colors matched the hats I was using. Don’t be afraid to mix in an unexpected pattern (or rainbow) when you are planning the details- it’s amazing how something small can bring it all together.

Another of my favorite party tips is to find a way to use the birthday number and celebrate it. Decorated cookies with the number 4 were beautiful in bright pink, yellow, and blue. My sweet friend, Terri Graham of Sweet Goosie Girl, made the cookies and they really couldn’t have been more perfect or delicious!

When I am planning a party with a lot of strong color, I always like to find a way to temper the bright with a little bit of pastel. For this party, I used pastel pink napkins on the table and it sort of acted as a neutral for the table. I love a fun, vibrant setting but also realize that visually you need a little balance!

Another way to balance out strong colors is to use cupcakes with white frosting- it makes “plain” cupcakes even better when they are surrounded by all the colorful options. I topped the cupcakes with printable toppers from Anders Ruff Design Co. – I loved the funky little font Maureen chose for this design! If you love a more colorful topper, add in candy or fondant. I asked Brittany of Edible Details to make these super cute cupcake toppers and then mixed them in with the printable toppers. It is a way to have more economical options mixed in with the more expensive options…

The invitation and place cards were also designed by Anders Ruff Design Co. And, the oh-so-cute Oreos were made by Maria at Love and Sugar Kisses. It amazes me how Maria can make an Oreo look so fancy!

Once again, fondant toppers for the win on the Oreos! They are just the cutest! Kind of like these cuties!

There’s nothing quite like turning 4 and being with your favorite people to help celebrate!

What’s your favorite non-themed way to throw a party? I vote for colors- and the best part of that is that the choices are endless!! Tell me what you think in the comments below and have a beautiful, colorful day!!

XO,

Lydia

P.S. A funny side note about this party…many years ago (as in 2013), I was asked to design a party for Twinkle Twinkle Little Party’s first online magazine. At the time, there was no deadline, and it was a very laidback request that I accepted. And then, I became inundated with other work and had to place this idea on the back burner…and then TTLP moved and took a short break from the magazine…and, needless to say, this party idea never was seen or shared. Because I had purchased all of the gorgeous work from the vendors and it was too fabulous not to share, I boxed it all up and saved it for when I could actually put these ideas together. And, so…6 years after the original orders were made and plans were set, I finally had a chance to put this one together. So many things have changed over these past 6 years, and many of these talented ladies are no longer providing bakery work for purchase. I feel so lucky to have been able to share the skills and talents of Brenda, Sachiko, Maria, and Terri throughout the years, and I am thrilled with the paths that they have taken in their creative endeavors. I just wanted you all to know that they have taken their amazingness in different directions, but, wow, they have an incredible way with fondant and cookies! Cheers to them all and to growth! I celebrate you ladies!

THE SOUTHERN C

I am very excited to introduce you to The Southern Coterie- also known as “The Southern C”!  This fabulous group of ladies has put together a “virtual front porch” for anyone to stop by for a visit- kind of like having a tall glass of sweet tea and a chat with lots of friends in one place!  I invite you to check out this site- join the fun and add your “two cents” to the conversation!  It’s a great place to gather and it keeps getting even better!  In October, The Southern C is hosting a fabulous Summit in Nashville, TN and you are invited!  We are even giving away one ticket for you to be our guest at this fantastic event!  If you have a business or would like to have a business, this Summit is for YOU!  There are fabulous speakers and great networking opportunities (and really delicious food and drink!)- you will LOVE it!  Read on to see how to enter!

This list of guest speakers is amazing- 

AND, there is the opportunity to see the Southern Living Idea House all decked out for the holidays!  

FIND OUT MORE INFO ON THE SOUTHERN C  www.thesouthernc.com and the SUMMIT…  www.thesoutherncsummit.com

Here is how to ENTER to WIN ONE TICKET to The Southern C Summit!

a Rafflecopter giveaway //d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js

 

Thank you, The Southern C!  I am honored and excited to be a part of your team!  

ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD
One of the best things about blogging is “meeting” so many other wonderful bloggers!  When I started The Party Wagon, I did it thinking it would be a fun hobby to have.  I love sharing ideas for parties, learning, and for having a good time with your children and grandchildren.  I really had no idea what a large family of friends was waiting on the other side of the screen.  One of these sweet friends is Sandra Garth, of Sweet Sensations/Let Me Entertain You.  Sandra so kindly awarded me with a “One Lovely Blog Award” and part of the award is that I get to share other lovely blogs with you and pass around the “loveliness”!  I am honored that Sandra thought of me and feel very humbled that she did!  Thank you, Sandra!  You are a lovely lady!

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CINDERELLA INSPIRED BIRTHDAY

Once upon a time…a little girl had a fairytale birthday party!  Nikka, of Triple M Good Parties, styled this adorable party idea~full of glittery gold and sweet pink.  With carriages, crowns, and magic wand cookies, this party is fit for any birthday princess!

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