Bee is for Baby

I had the honor of hosting my dear friend A’s baby shower. I take these life roles, maid of honor, bridesmaid, god mother, baby shower host seriously. Also notable, this is the first “major” event since I discovered Pinterest. I must say that in a strange way I am glad I wasn’t on Pinterest when I got married almost 6 years ago. It might have just been too much.   Back to shower – the theme needed to be gender neutral. I prefer activities or crafts over games. The mother-to-be was pretty clear that she wanted nothing to do with melting candy bars in diapers or baby food tasting. THANK GOODNESS! I do not like most shower games, but would have 100% made it happen if it was A’s life dream to play said games.

Inspiration: Beehive cake pan (Christmas gift from bro and SIL). Its not every day that I would cook a beehive cake, although I am pretty good at it now…. from here it jumped to alphabet (such a logical organizational thing) and morphed from Bb, Bee to Bee is for Baby. Googling revealed that I was not alone in this idea and it was nice to have confirmation and continued inspiration.  The details:

  • Pennants (dying for a reason to make some)
  • Yellows, greens, kraft paper brown
  • Tissue paper poms (again just looking for a reason!)
  • Personal collection of bee themed paraphenelia
  • Activities that family could participate in given that they are far away and only able to attend in spirit.

Homework - Bee is for Baby!I can’t tell you how I finally arrived at the idea other than the creative process…. but I came up with “your three words” (like GMA) photos and a collection of “favorites” from the guests.  The words have been compiled to create canvas word art for the nursery  and the favorites (e.g. animal, bird, insect, nursery rhyme, advice, kid friendly recipe) for other deliverables. The animals/birds/nursery rhymes were used to create the onsies.  The pictures came mostly from modifying clip art onsies collage 2and google. {note: I am NOT selling them in current state}.  The advice and other info will be used to create a user manual of sorts, with pictures of shower and snapshots of the “three words” activity that we captured in a homemade photo booth (ala Sparkbooth). Here is the homework I sent out. Homework – Bee is for Baby!

owl word art 4

Food- wanted all the food to start with B. Did require some creativity but ultimately food collage   sweet collageserved up:

  • Beecher’s mac-n-cheese (thawed and baked in muffin tins with panko and paprika on top)
  • Banana bread (fresh baked)
  • Beehive honey orange cake (recipe that came with pan, increased 25% and using orange extract)
  • Basil apricot and goat cheese bites
  • Butterscotch popcorn (quick and easy, served up in cupcake liners)
  • Bacon wrapped dates
  • Brie ham puffs (Thank You Trader Joe’s)
  • Butter waffle cookies (ditto)
  • Bagel chips and baguette slices with baked spinach leek dip
  • Buttered popcorn, pear and mango jelly bellies
  • Blood orange with basil signature cocktails (vodka) and mocktails (dry soda)
  • ‘Berries filled with cheese cake (strawberries with vanilla cream filling)
  • Miscellaneous (yes, does not start with B but theme colors or just darn cute): TJ’s meringues, theme color M&Ms, salted caramels etc
  • Sweet favors: honey mints, bit’o honey, caramels, M&M and Jelly Bellies, Lil’Debbie Honeybuns

Activities: Eating, laughing, photo booth, Q&A with mom-to-be, gifts and diaper advice.diaper collage

The Q&A involved A guessing how dad-to-be answered a serious of questions. Turned out to be pretty fun, but I probably could have shared the questions with her in advance. She did great on the spot though. In addition, we all wrote special messages and advice for the expectant father on a bunch of newborn diapers, for those late night diaper situations. Doesn’t matter if you know front from back of a diaper, you can still be witty! Some faves: Duck! Diaper backwards is repaid, .. the pitch, its a line drive and it’s foul… just like this! Potty training is the ultimate goal and many others.

Details: tissue paper poms, pennants, paper garland, utensils, glasses and onsies clothes line.  pom collage

I really love the paper poms, I tried them with wax paper and they turned out splendid (would be great for weddings too) and were easy to work with. I also incorporated black and polka dot tissue with yellow and kraft brown tissue to resemble a bee.  These are still adorning my home – too cute to take down.details collage

To avoid  excessive dish washing and accommodate a group of any size, I opted for compostable paper plates, bamboo utensils (also fit right into color scheme) and jars for glasses.  Adornments involved fabric strips, bee shaped and yellow buttons.

I am happy to share more details on the items mentioned.

Promoting culture: homemade yogurt

Promoting culture (yogurt) at home – who can argue with supporting and spreading culture? After making my own yogurt at home, I’m going with .. no one.  Seeing articles in a few of my magazines and a natural progression after canning (jam is the gateway can?), I went ahead and cultured my own yogurt. It turned out delicious, this batch being more fluid than store bought but still creamy and tasty (like the kind we feasted on in Paris). This is going into the regulation2013-01-06 10.32.22 rotation.  Next Culture Experiment will be kombucha – stay tuned. Kimchi happened a few years ago but will be having a re-awakening as well.

Step 1: Select guidance – this particular article is from  Madame Martha’s Living.

yogurt collageStep 2: Follow said guidance, but in general heat up quality milk on the stove top to 185 F, then cool it back down to 110

Step 3:In a separate container, in my case pyrex liquid measuring cup mix milk and some “starter yogurt”. Basically some of any kind of yogurt with live cultures in your fridge. For this time I used a non-fat plain Greek yogurt. No complaints, would probably be cautious with flavored. I guess you can buy the culture starters too, likely import them from France, if so included.

Step 4: Pour into the yogurt’s final resting place, in this case a quart mason jar. I will say that I used a quart of milk and this just about filled it to the gills. a note to self for next time to use a little less milk.

Step 5: Swadle the jar, without lid and put in a pan, so it has a nice place to sit (and spill if that happens). I did put my lid on just to transport it to step 6, aka the oven, since my jar was so darn full. I took it offer but putting in the oven.

Step 6: Let the 2013-01-06 20.04.12magic begin. I chose to use the oven light to create a warmer environment for culture expansion.  I heated it up when I started the recipe for just a few minutes then turned off heat and switched on light.  I’ve read of many other approaches (hot water, crock pot etc).

Step 7: Good things come to those who wait. Hang out for the next 5+ hours until the yogurt appears or basically it is no longer liquidy but custardy.

Step 8: Enjoy!  I used mine as a breakfast with berries and granola, as sour cream substitute in a cake recipe and spinach dip recipe, and made a ranch dip (using powdered ranch dressing). The little bit left will hand down the magic to the next generation.  It will be interesting to see how this batch progresses.

Reach & Read: Glass Castle

The Glass Castle – Jeanette Wells

glass castleTake note, I missed the memo that this was true until into the book a little way and that fact was mentioned by someone else. Amazingly, this is a true memoir! In a nutshell, it is surprising that Jeannette (and her siblings) survived to adulthood, illustrates possible failings of our social safety nets and the teeter-totter of nature vs. nurture. A quick read, as the story pulls you in quickly and provides plenty of opportunity to think about the weight (or value) of possessions, experiences and education. Like the feeling when you are at a tasting party and the best bottle in the bunch is a modest table blend but you thought it was a top shelf, notable vintage, pricey wine, and just can’t quite believe it!