Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Party Perfect

As much as I would like it to be different, I am not one of those people who easily writes about things and services. I get offers to review stuff and I turn them down, not because of any superiority or anything, but because I suck at writing reviews. I have a review blog, I could use it if I wanted to. I'm just more comfortable writing about my feelings and emotions. However, there are times when you'll just have to forgive my horrid writing.

When M turned 1, I was a wreck. I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to be the mom that threw the best parties. While the cupcakes were good, and everyone survived, it sort of made me not want to do parties again. Fortunately for her 2nd birthday, we had a good excuse. It was on Easter last year and we decided it would be best if we just had a low key family only day. It was then that I realized that among other things I am no good at birthday cakes/cupcakes.

Fast forward to this year. Well, maybe late last year. Basically I finish Christmas and then start worrying about M's birthday, in April. I was determined to have a different kind of party this year. Fortunately I had a lot of really good help in pulling off a good party. This is my half-ass attempt at thanking those responsible.

First, my sister-in-law. The woman throws a great party. She has a house made for entertaining. She can bake a cake too. This year she dealt with the challenges in our family for scheduling weekend parties by having a Sunday morning brunch for the youngest niece's first birthday. It was brilliant. Breakfast/brunch foods are easy to make. You can clean the night before, not worry about the house getting dirty, and everyone leaves early enough you still have most of the day. It also accommodates those who still need naps (M and the youngest niece) and my FIL who doesn't really drive after dark. She also told me how she invited the in-laws up an hour before everyone else. This gives them extra time with the kids (being her out of town in-laws) and keeps the kids entertained while you finish getting ready. I made my famous Creme Brulee French Toast, cut up some fruit, made a simple quiche, and grilled some killer sausage from Kramarczuk's.

Second, Salty Tart Bakery. There is a reason that Michelle Gayer is a national finalist for a James Beard award. For those of you that care, those are the Oscars of food. Also, Minnesota rarely has national finalists. We tend to get shoved in the "regional" section most of the time. They did an amazing job on M's Pinkalicious cake. Their butter cream frosting is creamy, smooth and not overly sweet. The vanilla bean cake was laced with strawberries, and there was so much strawberry compote between the layers that the middle of the cake basically broke down into strawberry heaven. The richness meant small slices so if anything, I would say we could have gotten away with a 6 inch cake instead of an 8 inch. The party was on Sunday, I've given away two larger slices, and we still have cake left. They also did nice matching cupcakes for M's daycare classmates that I picked up two days later. At my request, they had less frosting to make them more young kid friendly.

Third, Litin Everything Party & Paper. They are a local paper warehouse type place that has every color of paper/plasticware imaginable. They have paper decorations to match. We were able to make a very pink party at a very reasonable price. When we catered out own post wedding party (we went to Vegas), we got serving dishes, spoons, etc from them. I even got balloons that were able to pick up early on the day of the party.

Fourth, the husband and his Pink Flamingo punch. This one was also initiated by my SIL, but he rose to my challenge to make it HFCS free. (it is not dye free unfortunately) Based on Froggy Punch, from A's childhood friend. (Froggy Punch - 7UP & lime sherbet) His recipe: 1 bottle Strawberry Jarritos. 1/2 a bottle of Simply Raspberry Lemonade. 6-8 scoops of Wild Strawberry Sherbet. 1 tray of ice cubes. The sherbet melts a little and it makes a nummy and not overly sweet punch.

Last, Mother Nature. Seriously, best weather. Considering it snowed the day she was born, the kid is continuing good weather karma for us. We had close to 80 on October 1st when we had our reception. It was risk to have something in our back yard, but we totally lucked out then too.

My SIL mentioned yesterday that I seemed relaxed, and I was. My house was clean, I had the food ready on time, everything turned out. I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew, I had outsourced to the best where I knew I needed it, and I got to actually enjoy M's birthday party. I really think she did as well. She cried when everyone left and she had to take a nap.

PS. Everyone/everything written about above was paid for with my own money. (except my sister-in-law, she came with the family when I married in to it) (the husband too for that matter) I was not asked to write about any of them.


andreaberg said...

The cake looks amazing. I am so glad everything went so well this weekend. And that your house passed the clean muster.

Ms. Huis Herself said...

Glad to hear it went so well. And yeah, I hear your SIL rocks. :)

Jen said...

Aw thanks! ;) So glad M had a blast on her birthday! (and that you got to enjoy it too!)

-R- said...

Thanks for the tip on Salty Tart! I am going to try it next time I have to bring dessert somewhere.

I'm glad the birthday party was a success.