January 26th, 2012

I HAD to make a separate post for the dessert station we designed for Operation Shower. There are so many details and fabulous desserts and let’s face it…I love sweets! Sunshine Safari quickly became one of my top favorite dessert stations for many reasons.

When I design tables for charity events, we encourage local vendors to donate their specialty items as part of the overall display. It’s a great way to showcase some amazing talent and I get to meet and try new treats! As part of the design challenge, I really wanted to showcase the adorable printable party set that Paper & Cake designed and play off the colors and patterns. I LOVE the flavor tags, arrow signs and all the fun she incorporated into the design. It really brought this collection to life. It’s important with a bright color palette to make sure the table doesn’t get too over saturated and crazy, or nothing will stand out. That being said, I instantly knew the background and general decor for the tablescape needed to be more neutral and reminiscent of the natural colors found while on safari. I took a more literal approach to the challenge and wanted the animals to be the art and the desserts the focal point.

I always start with the backdrop and basic table design first to give a base for the rest of the table. I draped large sheets of burlap and an old fishing net over a metal photographers backdrop frame. Thank goodness my husband, The Pixel Studio, was there for set up b/c placing the leaves just right proved to be a two man job. Carolyn Horton Events loaned me her bag full of greenery and I used a lot of it to frame the backdrop on each side. I think the green created a nice, natural frame and reminded me of a real safari tent!

Then the fun part! When I was told that Pottery Barn Kids was allotting each designer $250 of product toward their table design I about flipped. I am obsessed with Pottery Barn Kids and spent quite a long time trying to decide what to use. There were so many perfect pieces! When I saw the Zebra and Giraffe Explorer Canvas Art I just knew they’d be perfect hanging from the backdrop. It really tied everything together and provided the subtle color I wanted. I’m not gonna lie…I wanted to change my daughters room to safari after seeing these. They also come in this pink and gray Hippo and Giraffe Canvas.

When I think safari, I think old trunks, luggage and treasure. I was thrilled when Found Vintage Rentals let me raid their warehouse in search of the perfect pieces. This is where my vision really started coming to life. My concept for the table was that an explorer on safari had come across various animals and plants and wanted to take them home to show his kids. The desserts are miniturized versions of all his wild findings. Showcased on crates, in drawers, on trunks and old tool boxes I absolutely loved how perfect the pieces from Found Vintage Rentals proved to be. I also used their globe and lantern…a safari must have. I get so giddy when I get to use “prop” pieces in a design. I really think they add texture, height and depth in all the right places.

Now on to the desserts! When working with many different vendors, it’s almost like having lots of different designers come together under one roof. Part of the design challenge for me, was making sure everything was cohesive and didn’t get too eclectic. I knew that the desserts should be the focal point (of course) and that each donating vendor should stand out in their own way. Knowing this, I decided it would be best to choose an animal and color for each dessert. This is a great way to have each treat showcased in it’s own light without them all looking to similar. I could not have been more ecstatic about how each dessert told it’s own story.

First up, the cupcakes! I chose bright pink as a main base color that would start to highlight the Paper & Cake designs and spray painted floral boxes to use as the cupcake stands. Floral boxes are a cheap and easy way to create height. Because they come in wood color, you can easily paint or spray paint them any color you want! I wrapped some orange yarn around the boxes to give them some subtle texture. The lovely JennyWenny Cakes donated the cupcakes for this event and let me tell you, they were delicious! I am a huge banana fan but it has to be done just right when it comes to desserts. She made the most amazing banana chocolate chip cupcakes. AMAZING! She also made chocolate with caramel and vanilla buttercream cupcakes. A big favorite. Her animal was the blue elephant. JennyWenny Cakes created the fondant toppers with suns and elephants and they were sheer perfection. I love to watch people bite into cupcakes and these produced instant smiles and had eyes lighting up.

Next up, a treat that is quickly becoming a new dessert trend. Meringue Bake Shop created the PushCake long before it became popular and she is truly an expert in this area. The PushCake is layered cake and frosting in just the right amounts. Served in a push pop container reminiscent of the ice cream treat I enjoyed as a kid, these are easy to eat and are full of flavor. She created her own display trays which provide the perfect stability and spacing between pops. Her popular Orange Crush and Chocolate Vanilla were enjoyed by all. For most, this was their first encounter with a  PushCake and they were “ooohing and aaaahing” over how cute, fun and tasty they were. She incorporated the zebra designs from Paper & Cake on each PushCake too! Cute! If you live in the Orange County area, Meringue Bake Shop sells her confections at local farmer’s markets and takes orders daily.

Salted caramel. I’m going to let you salivate over those words. I believe salted caramel is the flavor of the year. I am obsessed and in love with this perfect blend of sweet and salty and have a whole slew of recipes involving these two ingredients that I cannot wait to use. Caramels to me are a delicacy. I relate them to my great grandmother who always had one in her mouth. I never thought I’d be so in love with them myself. To find a really good…I mean REALLY good caramel is a challenge. Once you’ve had one though, your life will be changed forever. When Firefly Confections sent several pounds of their handmade, hand wrapped caramels, I eye balled them for hours. I finally gave in and tried one (hey…a girl has to taste test!) Heaven. Pure, salted heaven in a caramel. The perfect texture, consistency, and flavor. HEAVEN! I had to hide the rest b/c they are so addicting! These caramels were such a treat and I saw many guests stuffing handfuls into their pockets for later. I placed them in the drawers of a Found Vintage Rental find like the little, bite size treasures that they are. Now I know why grandma always had one. ADDICTING!! Firefly Confections make an array of sweet treats. You MUST order some caramels.

The Marshmallow Studio. If you haven’t heard this name, you’ve been under a rock. The Marshmallow Studio has revolutionized marshmallow treats, creating some of the most detailed, edible party favors in any theme or character imaginable. Alejandra was kind enough to spend the whole day helping with set up and she is just as sweet as her mallow creations. I instantly knew she had to have the flamingo. What she created was beyond what I had ever envisioned. These adorable, pink flamingos are completely edible! I placed them in an old tool box with styrofoam and blue tissue paper. They were wading in an oasis waiting to go home with each guest! I lost count at how many people could not believe they were made of marshmallow. AMAZING! So, so cute and fun. I’m a huge fan. She also hosts classes so check out her website for more info.

I love seeing something unique in the industry and when I went onto The Sweetest Affair’s website I was quickly intrigued. They specialize in handmade lollipop bouquets and custom flower favors. These creations are truly works of edible art. You must head over to her site and check out all the gorgeous displays. She took the patterned paper from Paper & Cakes designs and turned them into beautiful petals for each custom lollipop flower. Not only were these displayed on the dessert station, they were found in vases throughout the shower and definitely caught everyone’s eye. They provided the perfect edible floral bouquets for this safari and I cannot wait to place an order with her for future events. LOVE THEM!

You can’t have a safari without binoculars and safari hats! Allyson Jane has been donating to Operation Shower for many many events and I have been dying to see her creations in person. She designed these fun cookies that made their debut on a bed of grass. They were the perfect size and tasted so good! Sometimes decorated cookies don’t taste that great and it’s all about the design. These were such a sweet surprise as they tasted DELICIOUS and looked perfect. Allyson Jane is a true artist and these cookies disappeared in the blink of an eye! Check out he website for photos of her fabulous confections.

I wanted each mom to go home with a safari animal so we cut out Paper & cake characters and make chocolate pretzel favor bags for all the guests. The palette that they are hanging on was found by a dumpster. No joke! I saw it and instantly knew they’d make the perfect display. I attached each bag with a clothespin and propped it on against the table on some vintage trunks. How easy is that?!?

Bring on the monkeys!! A Twist of Cake is a cake pop genius. I am in awe of what she can make out of a cake pop! For baby showers, she makes characters or shapes into baby rattles. For reals!! I knew she had to have the monkeys. How cute are they?!? I check her Facebook page daily for new designs. If you dream it, she can make it! These pops were red velvet and so scrumptious. I saw moms taking two or three as they couldn’t believe it was cake under there! I used flower vases for the display vessels. I wrapped pink and orange yarn and added some of the patterned paper to the tops, filled them with lemon heads and stuck the pops in. They had their own, bright trees and looked so cute on display. A Twist of Cake also gives classes and is constantly creating new characters.

I know you’re all dying to know about the cake. It shouldn’t even be called a cake. It should be called an edible masterpiece. I have been a huge fan of Hey There, Cupcake! for a  long time and had the pleasure of meeting Stevi at the Hostess with the Mostess launch party where designed an insane Alice inspired creation. When I was told she was donating a cake for Operation Shower, I couldn’t have been more excited. I knew it had to be the centerpiece for the whole station and set aside the perfect crates to display it one. Every single detail was edible. From the flowers made of rice paper and fondant to the edible chevron design and the rice krispie elephant. That elephant was amazingly sculpted and dusted with edible disco glitter. Hey There, Cupcake! did such an amazing job of incorporating the colors and feel of the table into her cake. It could not have been more perfect and people were snapping photos left and right. And guess what…it was chocolate salted caramel flavored. GET OUT! I could live off the frosting/filling alone. I still can’t stop staring at it. LOVE!

And now, I will leave you with this funny flamingo that I couldn’t resist placing on the table. He was a white elephant gift that I won. My dad found him at a thrift store and he’s full of personality.

A special, HUGE thank you to the photographers at Operations Shower. Nicole Benitez Photography and Jackie Culmer Photography captured all the sweet moments. The Pixel Studio provided some detailed shots as well.

Please help Operation Shower continue their amazing work by donating or gifting items from their Amazon wishlist. These showers make such a huge, positive influence on the families that they support.

January 22nd, 2012

Hello lovely people! I always look forward to the beginning of the year because…Operation Shower comes to So. Cal! This year we were blessed to be part of both the San Diego shower AND the first LA shower. I’m feeling pretty lucky.

I became involved with Operation Shower after their Chief Event Planner, Amy Belle Isle, contacted me a couple of years ago regarding our Sweet Skewers. I have been sending sweet donations whenever possible and hope you will find it in your heart to do the same! You can donate here or they now have an Amazon wishlist that makes it super easy to donate items for their Shower in a Box.  This organization is not only phenomenal because of the way they have found a need and filled it, but the people behind Operation Shower are absolutely amazing individuals. I have grown to love and become friends with many sweet people involved and with all the talent at this shower, it took the cake!

Operation Shower provides spectacular baby showers for military families in need and let me tell you…these deserving pregger bellies are spoiled in the best way. If you or someone you know has ever had a baby, you know that being pregnant, delivering, and having a newborn comes with it’s own trials and adjustments. Imagine adding on the stress of deployment and the fact that most of these daddies don’t get to be there for most of or all of the pregnancy and most times even the birth of their children. That’s where I commend these women and families. Babies are the ultimate joy in life and this is such a special way to celebrate!

Now onto the shower. YAY! This shower was unique in that 12 designers were brought in to design their own tablescapes. The theme, “Sunshine Safari” came to life when Paper & Cake designed a slew of adorable printables and designs to incorporate into our tables. Her attention to detail and the fun pop of color instantly had me intrigued. The whole collection is available here. After you see all the photos below, it’ll be easy to recreate your own “Sunshine Safari”.

On top of that, Pottery Barn Kids allotted each designer a budget to acquire anything we wanted to use from the website as part of our design into our tables. I squealed with delight and spent hours browsing through all the possibilities. Pottery Barn Kids…are you kidding me? Heaven!

The community of designers and Operation Shower started this Pinterest board as a way to get the creative juices flowing. It was so much fun!

Held at the beautiful Torrey Pines in San Diego, we spent set up day braving the wind and rain. It was a challenge as mother nature was not cooperating and most designers would have to leave their table set up until the morning of. Our frizzy hair left something to be desired but let me tell you, at one point I stopped to look around at all the familiar faces and it just made me smile. Everyone was sweet as can be, flexible, helpful and joyous the whole way through. The talented Dez & Tam Photography were there to capture set up day moments. You can view all the photos from set up day here. Love it!

Birdies for the Brave  partnered up with Operation Shower to provide 40 deserving military families with a dream shower at the PGA Tour, Farmer’s Insurance Open. This special day was presented by Datron World Communications, and sponsored by Pottery Barn Kids, with support from Carousel Designs and Carl’s Jr. Thank goodness shower day was beautiful. The sun was out and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Jackie Culmer Photography and Nicole Benitez Photography provided beautiful photography for the day of. You can view the full albums of their work here and here. Be sure to check it out. They captured so many amazing moments!

As the mommies started arriving, Project Nursery had the sweetest set up where The Pixel Studio took belly shots of the mommies and the Project Nursery team printed and handed them out as a keepsake. I remember seeing one mom open her photo and she gently put her hand over her mouth and gasped. “This is beautiful”, she said with tears in her eyes. How sweet!!

The Emcee, noted celebrity event planner Brian Worley, was energetic and fun as he introduced various special guests who gave away gifts. At one point, he walked around to have the moms say a little bit about their husbands and their story. Such brave soldiers, overseas and at home! Amazing.

The guests were in for a real treat when the fabulous recording artist Michelle Penn performed her songs Welcome Me Home and Lucky during the shower. To see her live was pretty rad.

Carls Jr. rolled up in a food truck and provided fresh, delicious burgers and fries to everyone. Lemme tell you…after an early morning and so much excitement, this was THE perfect meal to sit down and enjoy. It smelled amazing, too!

On to the tears. I usually do pretty well until the Shower in a Box goes out and the supporting companies start raffling off gifts. Of course, Pottery Barn Kids brought on the water works when they announced that each mom would go home with a Pottery Barn Kids crib. Yes…each mom…a crib…a Pottery Barn Kids crib!!

A lot of thought and love went into this shower and I enjoyed every second of it, especially the design challenge!! Are you ready for this jelly? Check out all the amazing tables. Each one was carefully created by a separate designer. I got to meet and hang out with all of these lovely ladies and let me tell you…what an inspirational, sweet and talented bunch. I miss them already!

The following are only a few photos from each table along with the designer, what pieces they used from Pottery Barn Kids, and (as hard as it is because I loved so many things about each table), what my favorite detail was. Thanks, Soiree Event Designs for providing a list of the Pottery Barn Kids products that each designer used. I stole your info.!

Table design by Paper & CAKE. I LOVE the stuffed animals that they made out of the printable safari animals. Yes. They MADE them. LOVE! You can get the look here. My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Wood capital letters
Map retro clocks

Table design by Hostess with the Mostess. The use of yarn in this table especially in the amazing centerpiece and criss-crossed on the plates added such a whimsical touch. My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Wire elephants
Lifefactory bottles
Spencer utensils (on the chair backs)

Table design by Thoughtfully Simple. Tori placed a white giraffe sitting on moss inside a cake dome and I couldn’t stop staring at it. It gave me a TON of ideas for future centerpieces. This is such a clever way to add a cute, safari touch and still make it look whimsical and fun. My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Lifefactory bottles
Elephant sheets

Table design by Maddycakes Muse. I watched Michelle hand pin each felt flower strategically around this table and I LOVE IT! What a perfect way to add some color to a white tablecloth. My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
White butterfly mobile
“Wish” wood wall hanging

Table design by Your Bash! The centerpiece was absolutely stunning. With the foam core mounted printables, ribbon and fullness..it was definitely an eye catcher. My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Plush soothing sounds giraffes
Lion plush collection (blue)
Elephant plush thumbies

Table design by The Tomkat Studio. I about died when I saw the coffee filter chair backs. I mean, how genius is that?!? My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Animal plates
Mini dot sheets
Butterfly stacking hat storage boxes
Tiered cake stand

Table design by A Blissful Nest. I loved the little animals popping out of the favor boxes on the backs of the chairs. The fan made the perfect backdrop to make this idea pop. I love it! My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Wire elephants
Wooden blocks
Wooden rattle (on top of the napkins)

Table design by Shawna Brockmeier Styled Events. This table screamed coziness to me. I wanted to snuggle in it and that plush tree centerpiece? SO CUTE! My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Elephant plush rattles
Safari plush animals (giraffe and elephant)

Table design by Soiree Event Design. I thought it was such an adorable concept to have the elephant sitting in the booster having a tea party. Totally kid friendly and my favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Linen plush elephant
Porcelain tea set
Clip-on booster chair
Ceramic pink elephant bank

Table design by Cupcakes & Cutlery. I got butterflies in my tummy when I saw the adorable “1st birthday” party kits that Sharon designed for each mommy at this table. How thoughtful. My favorite!

Pottery Barn Kids products used:
Leather rhino (National Geographic Safari Animal)
Wire elephants

Table design by A to Zebra Celebrations. I loved the handmade zebra/burlap table runner and the way she wrapped the tree centerpiece in burlap. It’s the simplest of things but the careful designer eye that makes it really stand out.

Pottery Barn Kids products used:

Easter tree Centerpiece

Butterfly stacking hat storageIt truly was a magical day and one that I am definitely ready for a designer reunion! Thank you Operation Shower and all the volunteers and donating companies for such a fabulous experience.Make sure you check out each designers blog as they are each posting more details on their table designs and how you can “get the look”! Come back tomorrow for our details on the dessert station!!

April 26th, 2011

I’m back with another amazing charity event. Operation Showers of Appreciation is local to California and hosts baby showers for mother’s-to-be who’s spouses are in the military. Their founder, Kimberly, has a heartfelt reason for starting this organization and when Courtney Faith (whom I met at the Sunshine Farms event with Operation Shower, approached me about it, I wanted to learn more. This particular shower happened to be extra special as it was held in honor of Sgt. Jared C. Monti. If you haven’t read his story, you can do so HERE. His bravery and the legacy he left behind is what touched my heart and had me saying “yes”! Hi family made a special appearance via Skype and I found myself in tears at the strength and courage that they must now portray.

I was honored to create the beverage and dessert station for this baby shower and am so thrilled to share with you the amazing people who donated to this event. The Pixel Studio donated all of the photography services and again, blew me away with the moments he captured. On my blog, I focus on the sweets and decor vendors as that is what I am directly involved with BUT you can get more info. on the organizations Facebook page and website.

When I was told that Sophie the Giraffe was donating a Sophie to each and every mommy, her speckled prints inspired the decor. We went with a giraffe/grassland look and added subtle items throughout. Sophie is THE best teething toy out there and I know many people who’s kids hang onto them long after their teeth have grown in. They are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year!

I instantly thought of Plates and Napkins and all of their designer party supplies. This is not your average party store. Not only do they carry every theme and color palette designs imaginable, but they have such chic, modern and hip designs as well. I could easily create a whole table around some of their plates. No joke! They always have daily deals going on so if you love to throw parties need something pretty to look at, look no further! Plates and Napkins so graciously donated the perfect giraffe print cups, napkins and plates.

I am also a HUGE fan of IZZE drinks and a beverage station is not complete without it. IZZE comes in lots of yummy flavors and they make it easy to color coordinate to your event! I never have to spruce up or decorate around and IZZE bottle. They just look perfect as is so I was ecstatic when they donated enough fizzy fun to go around. I know a few families who had never tried it before and it certainly created some buzz around the shower. There are plenty of places you can go to enjoy this sparkling juice drink, simply search for a location near you via their website. Look for their dollar off coupons on Facebook as well. My favorite flavor? Blackberry. YUM!

For the table decor, Tulips and Trophies in Lake Elsinore, donated the beautiful, floral centerpieces which we sat atop giraffe print risers. These were made simply by covering cardboard boxes with fabric! Each mom went home with not only a Sophie, but some other adorable treats as well. I am a repeat customer of A Precious Memory’s etsy shop. She creates gorgeous shoe favor boxes out of paper. You may have seen her designs in our Paris party. She was kind enough to donate adorable keepsake baby booties which drew lots of oooh’s and aaaah’s.

Her daughter has an etsy shop called EmeeLou’s. She sells the cutest lollipops, animals, and corsages all made of washcloths. EmeeLou’s donated washcloth cupcakes and I heard many mom’s saying they wanted to display their washcloth cupcake as part of the bathroom decor. They are just too cute!

We made fabric favor boxes filled with toffee almonds and adorned with a camo pacifier. These were so much fun to make and we’ve had so many inquiries since then. There will be many styles and themes available in store soon!

For the dessert station, we covered a large piece of foam core with some fun, green, wood grain fabric. Covering foam core is the easiest way to create a solid backdrop in an area that needs it. It gives your Sweet Station a stage. The giraffe print cake was donated Mama B’s Cakes in Glendora. This cake quickly became the centerpiece.

The fun cupcakes and delicious mini chocolate eclairs arrived from Sweet Layers Cakes and Pastries in Murrieta.

The adorable chocolate oreo pops are a staple product of Half Baked Co. in Valencia. There is tons of eye candy and cute treats on their site AND they always use local, organic ingredients and carry a really yummy line of gluten free, vegan and low sugar options.

We brought in the chocolate truffle, lemon meringue tarts and caramel toffee popcorn. Bite size bursts of flavor at it’s best!

Happy parents left with lots of loot!