Styling up a Geometric Back to School Brunch

iced coffee and mimosasI was super flattered when Abigail of Paper and Cake asked me to collaborate (along with Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop) with her on a styled post she wanted to do.  Abigail is a very talented graphic designer and party stylist who I had the pleasure of rooming with in New York several years ago for a Martha Stewart Event.  I’ve used her printable party decor before and when she said she wanted to do a geometric themed set for a back to school brunch, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  But I have never styled a party for someone else before!  It was very challenging for me.  I am used to being in control over every aspect from start to finish.  But this time I had to focus on only certain parts.  I learned a lot about myself.  I am a quiet control freak.  But many of you who know me, already know that.  Now can we please talk for a minute about these wall decorations.  Yup, totally a printable that you can make to go along with your party set.  Abigail is a genius.

geometric back to school Brunch consisted of a buffet area with some of the most delicious dishes.  Ever.  You guys know I am a huge Kristin fan.  I love her to death.  She’s amazing at baked treats and sweets but she is just as good with savory foods.

eggs pesto goat cheeseShe made a breakfast bruschetta that was insanely good.  It was the perfect brunch DIY station.  She set out goat cheese, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes so you could dress your toast and eggs however you wanted.  Which is a good thing because I would have thrown up all over Abigail’s house had someone made me have sun-dried tomatoes.

breakfast-cereal-panna-cottaI die over Kristin’s panna cotta.  This particular one was breakfast cereal flavored!  SO YUMMY!  She basically infused milk with frosted flakes and rice krispies and then used that milk to make the custardy treat.  I wish you guys could taste it!

meringue bake shopOH NO SHE DI’INT.  There was a DONUT trifle!!

donut-trifle-for-back-to-school-brunchAMAZING!  Sure you can just plop donuts out on a plate for brunch.  But they are even better with creamy goodness and fresh berries.  Seriously.  Do this.  Perfect for holidays…just saying.

egg-bruschetta-wiht-goat-cheese-and-sundried-tomatoSince it was my first time styling, I brought along a ton of dishes and fabrics and random doodads that we might need for the shoot.  When you use Paper and Cake printable party decor you really don’t need much extra in the way of decor.  Abigail puts together a nice little set for you to use.

back-to-school-breakfast-brunchI love collaborating on styled shoots.  It is such a fun and creative way to hang out with people you admire.  And you get to eat the food.

geometric-flowers-for-brunchHow kick ass are these flowers?!  I thought they went perfectly with the geometric feel of the party.

signature-drink-menuFor the beverage station, there were two options.  A make your own mimosa area and an iced coffee area.  Kristin made some creamers to go along with the coffee.  I’ll be sharing a recipe for one of them tomorrow!!  Get ready for it.  It’s amazing.  I’ve been using it in my coffee every day since we did this shoot two weeks ago.

pitcher-of-iced-coffeeI’ve always loved iced coffee but trying to figure out how to get it double strength in order to dilute has always been too much for my pea brain to handle.  Luckily Trader Joe’s came out with an iced coffee concentrate for me.  Yup just for me.

creme-brulee-coffee-creamerFor serious, these creamers blew my mind.  What I loved most is that they were so flavorful but not sweet.

homemade-creamer-by-Meringue-Bake-ShopDo you guys love this brunch and printables as much as I do?  You can find them right here.

geometric-brunch-mimosaCheers to Abigail and Kristin for a wonderful collaboration.  And for letting me finally be in a picture. :)

Printables : Paper and Cake

Food and Beverage : Meringue Bake Shop

Styling : Me (and everyone else too because it really takes a village)

Photography : Me and Abigail (we pooled our photos and I have no idea who took what.  Well I certainly know that I didn’t take the picture of me holding the mimosa…)


Breyers New Ice Cream Toppings

*Sponsored post.  About the new dessert toppings from Breyers.  I received compensation, ice cream and happy memories.

Breyer-ice-cream-sundae-partyWho doesn’t love an ice cream sundae?  If you answered that question positively I’m going to need you to step away from your computer and go do something else.  First off, you are a liar and second, ice cream is the BEST!  Due to food allergies, my family rarely has ice cream in the house.  But when Breyers asked if I wanted to try out their new ice cream toppings I said, “Duh!”  And instantly knew it would be the perfect excuse to have little ice cream sundae party with our neighbors.

Breyers real fruit dessert toppingsBreyers now has these real fruit toppings in 3 flavors.  Cherry is totally my favorite!  For some reason I have had a hankering for cherry pie but have yet to have it!  This helped me fill that void.  For the moment.

squeezable breyers ice cream toppingsAny good sundae has some sort of sauce.  We got to try out hot fudge, chocolate and caramel.  These cool new containers are microwavable and so easy to use.

breyers rainbow sprinklesAnd let’s not forget the sprinkles!  I adore the colors in these rainbow sprinkles.  But a sundae ain’t a sundae without chocolate sprinkles.  Luckily Breyers sent those too.  The party is saved!

breyers fruit toppingsMinds were blown the evening that I started setting out all the toppings on the front lawn.  I did get a bit of the side eye when I told them I had to take some pictures first…

breyers chocolate sauce ice cream topping I loved that the kids could easily squeeze their sauce on their sundae themselves.  I’m totally mess averse so this made me want to hug Breyers.

neighborhood ice cream sundae partyWe helped the kids get their sundaes together.

breyers ice cream spinklesAnd quietly prayed there would be sprinkles left.  Have you ever handed an open sprinkles container to a kid?

breyers caramel sauceThen it was our turn to make our sundaes.

ice cream sundae partyIt had been SO long since I had an ice cream sundae.  I think we will definitely be making sundaes all summer long.

ice cream sundaes for summer funThe kids (and adults) really enjoyed trying out the new Breyers products.  To clarify, the Breyers toppings were not ok for my son with food allergies to have.  It was very easy to have his own sundae ingredients on hand though so he didn’t miss out.

Have you seen these in your store?  You should totally pick them up.  Your kids and your stomach will thank you.

*This is a sponsored post for Breyers new dessert toppings.  They are delicious and I loved every minute of trying them out.  For more information and a coupon, check out their site.

Best Birthday at Pump It Up Irvine

m turns 4This kid turned 4 at the end of December.  He requested a party at Pump It Up.  Since I love planning parties, this was not something I was excited to do.  I mean, how the heck was I going to decorate the party with all those primary colors all over the place?  Yes, many people choose to do parties at places like Pump It Up so they don’t have to decorate.  But I’m crazy.  And since the party was right after Christmas (2 days after…) I thought doing only a little bit of decorating away from the house was the best idea ever.  And just look at that face.  He gets everything he wants.  And we had the best birthday at Pump It Up in Irvine.

climbing at pump it up irvineTo sum it up, I love Pump It Up.  I booked the party for a Thursday to save a bit of money and since it was Christmas break, everyone was available.  Do you know who else loves Pump It Up?  The kids!  We have been to parties there as guests before and the kids always had a good time.  But the staff at Pump It Up Irvine, where our party was, is amazing.  From the moment we got there, they helped out with bringing stuff in from the car, helping us with items that needed to be refrigerated and are absolutely amazing with the kids.

o in pump it upWhile the kids were playing in the first bounce room (if you have never been, they split the party time up between 2 rooms which is awesome because it keeps the kids from getting bored) I asked (ok, just about begged) for the staff to let me in to the party room to start decorating.  I think they made concessions for me to let me go in earlier than normal because I’m sure they could sense the crazy by the look in my eyes.

pump it up irvine is the bestThe staff is super attentive and so good with the kids.  They get in there and play with them and help to keep everyone safe.  I’ve always noticed this on previous visits, but was extra aware of just how well they were making sure everyone had a great time, safely.  I am in awe of how the staff is able to keep the party moving smoothly and while remaining super fun.

pump it up is fun for adults tooAnd even adults have fun in the bounce houses too.  I propose a mom’s night out.  Who is with me?

birthday party at pump it up irvineAnd at the end of every party, the staff gathers all the kids for a group photo.  The kids are usually pissed because they want to keep jumping but you throw the words pizza and cake out there and they smile and cooperate.

m in blow up chair at pump it up irvineI think this chair is the main reason that M wanted his party there.  And the crown.  He sat in that chair the entire time in we were in the party room and never got up once.  He ate his pizza there.  He ate his cupcake there.  His cousins posted up as his security when other kids wanted a turn in the seat.  He asked to bring it home with us.

minted party decor sign at pump it upBecause I had heard that they don’t give you much time to decorate I really needed to keep the decor simple.  Minted’s ready-made party decor saved me big time!  And since Pump It Up has helium on-site, I figured that between balloons (always super festive) and the Minted party stuff the party would be pretty cute.

minted party decor bannerWe chose the Cakeasaurus theme because my son LOVES dinosaurs and used it where we could around the party room.  I covered the tables that clashed with the party decor with inexpensive plastic table cloths.  It helped to tone down the over all brightness of the party room decor (which I’m not saying is bad, just not my aesthetic).

minted birthday party supplies grey strawsMinted has a few accessories to go along with the paper party decor like these grey and white striped straws.  I added some flags to just a few of the straws to bring more of my color scheme in.  And who doesn’t love paper straws?

tables at pump it upFor the tables I needed to do something that would be quick to set up and almost all disposable.  I got a bunch of white plastic table cloths from the .99 cent store and used paper streamers that I twisted and taped to the tables with silver tape.  I added little plastic dinos that I knew the kids would want to take home with them (or were cheap enough that I didn’t have to worry about getting them all back – on a side note, I got enough back that I used them as part of the Valentine’s that M gave his classmates.  Word up).  And for some extra fun, I added succulents I cut from my back yard.  I also brought in the silver paper goods, but they include paper plates, napkins and cups when you book a Pump It Up party.  I have heard people talk about how expensive the parties are but they really include a ton of stuff for the price.  And I’m sure I would have spent just as much, if not more if I had held a party at my house.  Big thank you to my mom and sister-in-law for helping with the super fast decorating. I met back up with the party in the second bounce room and had plenty of time to enjoy watching the kids have sweaty fun.

glittered dinoI added just a touch of silver glitter to various spots on the dinos.  I think a hint of sparkle is perfectly acceptable at a boys birthday party.

dino cupcakesMy sister-in-law is rad and made the cupcakes for me.  I am in love with the little dino picks that she found.  By serving only cupcakes, I didn’t need to worry about silverware, extra plates or the mess of cutting a cake.

dino party hats and crownsAnd it ain’t a party unless there are party hats.  I used store-bought hats and tiaras and added some fun dino accents.

favor sign from minted party decorI used one of Minted’s blank coordinating cards for the favors as well as the stickers to seal the favor bags.  Another thing I loved about Pump it Up is when it was time to pass out the favors, our party gal walked around with my son to make sure that each kid got a favor.

dinosaur favorsNothing about this party was that revolutionary.  I chalk that up to it being the holidays.  I don’t know about you but I tend to slow the blog down around Christmas.  And then I think it is so nice to not feel an obligation to anything that I think about quitting entirely.  I pretty much jumped online one day and just bought a bunch of dino themed items to order for the favors.  Throw in some chemical laden dino shaped gummy snacks and you are good to go.  B T Dubs, I always get bored and start the blog back up again with a refreshed attitude.  But Minted really saved this party for me.  I didn’t have the energy to make everything from scratch but still wanted it to be cute which their stuff is!

blowing out candlesThe staff managed everything.  From passing out the pizza to all the kids and making sure they each got what kind they wanted to making sure each got the right cupcake flavor they made it happen.  They made sure we stayed on track in terms of time and even got everyone to start singing happy birthday.  They took all the pressure off of me and allowed me to just interact with the guests.  As the party was wrapping up I realized that they had everything that we needed to take home with us, from the gifts to leftover food, on a cart waiting to be loaded in to our cars.  They were ON IT.  But we never once felt rushed.  It was a delightful birthday party experience.

mustaches at pump it upAn unexpected bonus to the party was the machine that sold stick on mustaches.  Kids are still WAY in to mustaches.  These are their best “look old” faces.

This is not a sponsored post.  I had such a great experience hosting a party at Pump It Up Irvine that I wanted to share it with you.  Many other adults at the party told me how amazing they thought the staff was with the kids too.  It is obvious they like what they do.  From the minute I made the first call to ask questions and finally book the party, they were helpful and friendly.  My sister-in-law booked a party for my niece at the Anaheim location after our party and had the same experience there.  If you are thinking about holding a party at Pump It Up you should totally do it.  I’m sure we will be booking there again!

All images (except photos 1, 11, 16, and 18 which are mine) by Dez and Tam Photography – the most wonderful people around.  I heart them SO much!


What We’ve Been Up To

our happy family photoI’ll be starting back up posting next week but here is what we have been up to in the meantime…First off, I ugly cried today.  I went to download all the pictures from my camera on to the computer and they vanished in to thin air!! They aren’t on the home computer, they aren’t on my phone.  Boo.  I spent hours trying to recover them but I just have to be ok that I lost a lot of Christmas, 4th birthday and birthday party pictures as well as some from the Kismet PR class I hosted right before Christmas.  :(  But I’ve chosen to not dwell on it and we’re just going to proceed like nothing is missing.  I still had the pictures from my Nikon so luckily I do have photos of most of those events on there.  But only a few.

Moving on…we scrambled around getting last minute Christmas stuff together and headed to the in-laws house for their traditional Slovakian Christmas dinner.  We rarely take family photos so I was glad that we snuck one in!

Christmas presentsThe boys got to open a ton of gifts from their cousins and grandparents and then we headed home so they could get nestled in their beds so Santa could come.

Christmas morning breakfastWe had an awesome Christmas morning breakfast with my parents.  Yes, those are cookies and rice krispy treats in the mix.  Every good breakfast buffet has sweets.  Not pictured is a gruyere and ham strata!  Yum!

miles and daddy with hulk handsWe hung out at the house for several days playing with all of the new Christmas toys.  The kids don’t want to stop playing with some of them and wear them around the house for hours.

bday party at pump it upMy youngest celebrated his 4th birthday with a party at Pump It Up.  I will be following up with a post because I was IN LOVE with how Pump It Up handled the party.  For real.

4th birthdayAnd then it was his actual birthday and we had a day full of opening presents and trying to move presents around the house to allow for family to come over later that day for cakes and ice cream.  I’m exhausted.  I’m so glad that we have 5 days left before the kids go back to school!

Posting will resume next week and I’ve got some fun things planned for the upcoming months.  I can’t wait to hear about what you all have planned for 2013!!

Surprise Birthday Party for Dad!

invite to b's party

My husband’s birthday is in November and I always ask my two boys what they want to get their dad.  Their ideas are usually Legos (my oldest) and toilets (it is my youngest’s go-to answer for everything right now…no idea why.)  But then, my oldest said that he wanted to throw him a surprise party.  Since I love a good party I said yes.  BUT, I told my son that he was going to do the whole thing.  Above is the invite we sent out to family (it wasn’t a HUGE party so I could relinquish control).

decoration for dad's birthday partySome of you may have seen this on Instagram.  I love it.  He picked out the colors and did all the decorating.  I purchased a couple of items to give it a little pizazz but he and his brother and cousins did all the amazing artwork.  P.S. there were bits and pieces of that small tissue garland all over the house stuck to things with washi tape.  It was amazing.

dad's surprise partyAlthough I controlled the menu and bar, he wrote some food signs including this one.  I will help translate in case you can’t read his six year old writing.  “Make a whiskey sour or an apple cider whiskey or juice box.”  Complete with a guy holding a cocktail shaker.  He totally nailed the details.  By the way, the apple cider whiskey cocktail was delicious!  I used this one.  Do it!

surprise party for dad chocolate cake

We kept the menu simple with slow cooked bbq chicken sandwiches on King’s Hawaiian Rolls with my husband’s favorite chips and homemade apple sauce.  My son asked his aunt to bake a chocolate cake and my mother-in-law made my husband’s favorite chocolate cream pie.  We also tried out a chocolate chip panetonne which was amazing!!!  It was such a fun night.  There was an extra special energy from the kid’s excitement.  It was awesome to do an easy-going, un-fussy party for once.  And my husband absolutely loved it.  :)

Adult Halloween Party Inspiration

halloween party inspiration boardI’m craving an adult Halloween party that is grown up, sophisticated.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really like Halloween.  But I think a more arty, avant garde approach would make it tolerable.  P.S. that gold pinata is a DIY from A to Z Celebrations.  Totally go make one.

Black diamond glasses  .  gold tray  .  tablescape  .  black glitter art installation  .  gold masks  .  cherry cocktail  .  gold leaf white chocolates  .  black and gold lamp  .  white wig with mask  .  black horned mask  .  champagne with sparklers  .  worm noodles  .  spider candlestick holder  .  black cake plate  .  gold pinata