oh mah gah, it's over. and it was super duper fun! all the work and prep and stress was totally worth it. are you ready for a full recap? i hope so. it all turned out way too awesome to skip.
i stopped on my way home from work to pick up something i'd been debating for a couple of weeks (and seeing one at nanette's party for sweet em last week, which i still have to recap, clinched it):
then i put the teen to work. she took care of assembling all of the cutlery bundles - all 48 of 'em.
while she did that, i busted out my awesome hello kitty popcorn popper (courtesy of lilcee, who'd received it from amber) for the very first time.
it was kinda cool to watch popcorn out of an actual machine vs. a microwavable bag.
for the popcorn bar i was creating, i'd decided on four different flavors: bacon bourbon, hot chocolate & marshmallows, peppermint crunch, and a "make your own," where folks could dress up some plain popcorn with four different flavors. i had popcorn seasoning shakers in kettle, caramel, ranch, and sour cream & onion. i briefly considered buying some nicer containers and decorating them with a party-themed label, but forgot until it was too late. oh, well.
you know i don't drink, right? so i pretty much have zero idea WTF bourbon is, let alone have any in the house to use for the recipe. i thought it was the same thing as whiskey, but i didn't want to chance it in case the flavor got totally messed up with my substitution. nor did i want to buy an entire bottle of the stuff to sit around for ages, untouched until it was time to make another batch of this popcorn. i knew that bev-mo carried mini-sized bottles of alcohol, like the kind you see in hotel mini bars, so the teen and i headed to our local outlet to find one.
i ended up asking a store employee for help, who was chatting with a couple of other customers. i must've sounded like such an idiot - up until i explained what i needed it for. at the mention of the bacon bourbon popcorn, they all lit up like christmas trees. hell, they damn near invited me to join their bourbon-tasting party. sheesh. but we walked out with what we'd come for - a little bottle of jim beam. yay! too bad i forgot to take a picture, but i'm sure you can imagine what it looks like.
the recipe was time consuming, and i burned the shit out of my hand as the bacon splattered hot grease on me, but the smell in the kitchen was fantabulous. and so was the result:
this stuff is so dang good, it'll make you wanna slap yo' momma.
next i moved on to the cake pops. i wanted to make some shaped like mike wazowski from monsters, inc., to go with the party theme. i'd bought some mini chocolate lovers' cupcakes as i left dots that day, and the bean was more than happy to relieve me of the decorative fondant pieces that topped them.
they got all mushed together, frosting and all, and then rolled into little balls and stuck in the freezer to set. in the meantime, i tinted some fondant with blue gel coloring to make some eyeballs. i rolled it out, cut some circles, and then did the same with some plain white fondant. i'd forgotten to buy some floral foam to set the pops in for drying, so i had to improvise with a cereal box. they didn't turn out perfectly, but with help from the teen, i think they were pretty cute.
i worked on other food-related tasks, got both girls to bed, and moved right on to decorating. those crepe paper ruffles i'd so painstakingly sewed - 500 feet of the stuff - still weren't enough to completely cover a wall. i had to settle for spacing out the strips, but i guess it was okay.
it was around 2am when i finally went to bed. and then around 7 when i got up and back to work. the first thing i tackled was decorating the cake, which i'd baked the night before. i leveled off the tops, sliced them in half, and made some cream cheese frosting to go with their lovely red velvety-ness.
i filled both layers, tinted more fondant (this time, pink and lavender), and managed to roll enough out to cover them completely.
i'd bought some wooden dowels to support the top tier, but decided that the 6" fondant-covered cake wasn't heavy enough to require me going out to the garage, busting out a saw, and cutting them down to size. instead, i used lollipop sticks. kind of looks like a giant button now, huh?
except that i still had a funky gap between the layers. i didn't like leaving it as is, so with some feedback from the teen, i ended up rolling little balls and shoving them in there to fill the space. i cut out more circles out of the different colors and finished decorating the cake. not too bad for a total amateur, right?
i admit it, i was totally proud of myself.
our back yard has a patio cover, but it's not really big enough - at least, not for me. at first, i thought i'd be hitting up my friend mommybelle for her ez-up tent, but decided it'd still be too small. instead, the ILs and i dreamed up a makeshift tent. we bought a couple of king-sized sheets from IKEA, which MIL sewed together, FIL screwed some hooks into the side of the patio cover, fed a piece of PVC pipe through the pocket at one end of the sheet, and tied the corners to a tree and the telephone pole in the corner of our yard. i put up the pretty paper lanterns i'd bought online, added the circle garlands i'd made, and voila:
looks like a party, right? we'd also bought that little pink table to set cans of play-doh out for the kids to play with, along with the bean's chalkboard easel. along with the ball pit and the bounce house still to come, there were lots of fun things for the kids to do.
i really loved our decor. pretty, right?
i juiced about a zillion lemons to make "monster juice," to be served in the frappuccino bottles i'd been saving over the last couple of months. the teen spent a couple of hours with a wire brush scraping off the labels and sticky residue from almost 40 of 'em. and then i stuck a pretty little vintage paper straw into each of them and had the teen arrange them in a tray:
the teen's friends arrived about an hour before the party actually started, so i took advantage and put them to work. they assembled all of the sandwiches for me, arranged them on plates, and set out the little signs i'd made:
the ruffly wall was originally going to be a photobooth-type thing, to ensure that we got pictures of everyone. but we all got so distracted with everything else going on that it just didn't happen. sad. at least i got the bean, though, all gussied up in her fancy-schmancy-took-her-mama-six-days-to-make pettiskirt.
i really regret not having followed through with the photo booth idea, though. and i didn't get any pictures with any of my fabulous friends! so bummed. nor did i get a decent shot of me with the bean. geez.
but i was excited when the guests began to arrive. yay, it's party time!
we set out the cold salads, uncovered the grub, and let 'em at it.
the popcorn bar was also quite a hit:
i didn't even get to eat any of that bacon bourbon popcorn aside from a sample the night before! i'm gonna have to make more. that shit disappeared quick.
the bean, not having had a nap the whole day, came dangerously close to passing out in the ball pit.
but she rallied. boy, did she.
once sweet em found the cornucopia of preschool toys in the bean's room, it was all over. all the kids followed suit, and they spent the afternoon going back and forth from the back yard. they had a blast, or at least it seemed that way.
mommybelle made sure the bean got at least one of those cake pops before they all disappeared. lilcee's mini-me managed to grab one, too.
and then there was one.
this is probably my favoritest picture of the whole day, but i'm sure she'll kill me for it one day.
we had homemade ice cream, too, courtesy of the ILs and their awesome, OG ice cream maker.
and then slowly, the party began to wind down as folks started to head for the door. i kind of felt bad for my friends' husbands - they had to have been bored to tears. dang. but we had beer! that made it a little better, right? right?
i made sure that all the kids went home with their goody box (round, of course, to go with the rest of the decor) and everyone else got homemade candy buttons. by the way, should you decide to make these, a tip: parchment paper is SUPER non-stick. so much so that when you pick up a strip of candy buttons, the effing things fall right off. instead of rolling them up and placing them nicely in the bags, i had to cut the strips in half and slide them in. i don't think a single set made it inside without buttons falling to the bottoms of the bags. not to mention, i happened to make them during the brief period of rainy weather - so i don't think they hardened completely, the way they were supposed to. so annoying. anyway, the goody boxes were very toddler-friendly - cheerios, animal crackers, play-doh, a monsters, inc. sticker, and a z-bar (clif bars for kids - the bean LOVES these).
the play-doh was toast. the aftermath:
i was so excited to see cousin seven, who'd driven all the way down from santa barbara to join us.
when almost everyone was gone, we took advantage of the empty bouncer.
the bean was STILL going. she was like the freaking energizer bunny.
seven managed to get a hug before she left.
check out the loot! she didn't actually open anything that night, though.
besides, she fell asleep in her chair with her hot dog clutched in her little paw.
i'd call it a successful party, wouldn't you?