Friday, February 26, 2016

Unicorn & Rainbow Party Decor

It's all about unicorns and rainbows here. This year I had to get creative in making this happen for my daughters 5 year-old party. I couldn't just go to a party store and find everything on the shelf. I had to get creative. Here are some details from art work, party bag, decor and location to help you with your party planning.

You will quickly realize if you have a Rainbow or Unicorn birthday party there is not that much to choose from at the party stores. Online I did find the paperware and table decor by Lisa Frank. But I wanted it to have more then just the cookie cutter look. I looked to Pinterest & Etsy for some ideas. I found a couple things that really helped the party stand out and were easy to put together.


Streamers are more then an accent. They can make a wonderful rainbow background. They are easy to put up. Just place a string from one end to another. Hang your streams over the string and cut wherever you want the rainbow to end. Simple, colorful and an extra touch of color.  
You can do this with other theme parties such as Star Wars. Just use black, silver and white streamers. Hanging a Star Wars sign to come down to the center. Just hide the string behind the streamers. And there you go.

Party Favors:

What to do for party favors. You can add a rainbow lollipop, a unicorn necklace and some other fillers, but what about the bag. For this I turned to Etsy. I looked through several pages of bags, mini totes and more. Then I came upon the muslin favor bags by HodgePodgeNC. They have a large assortment of bags styles from vintage ice cream happy birthday to most important unicorn. They  were just the right fit our party. Some say "I'm actually a unicorn," "Always be yourself unless you can be a unicorn then be a unicorn," "Unicorn at heart," "I will always be a unicorn," & "There is a bit of magic in everything." They are so precious. Best of all they are unisex so everyone liked them. No plastic bag to throw away, but something the children can reuse. It's a win-win for everyone.

If you can't find what you are looking for ask the designer. They may be able to personalize it for you or create what you are looking for I know that HodgePodgeNC does. It's your party, no question is too crazy. 

 Keepsake Book:

This is an idea I took for a friend that I just love! When I went to my friend's son's 2nd birthday, she had a sign in book. I though it was genius. I love the fact that you have a keepsake book with all the names of the attendees. Then as the kids get older no longer are the parents signing in, but the children. You can look back at when her friends first started to spell their own name. A very special touch. Thank you Cynthia for this idea.


Let's not forget the location. This can be tricky at about 5 years -old. Now it is a big girl party some of the local play areas don't apply. We found The Little Gym of Calabasas. We were there for a party before and both my daughters loved it. Abbey walked out saying, "this is where I want my party." Done! All the places that we have had our party at were great, but I found that The Little Gym of Calabasas took it a step further. In between parties you are given 15 minutes to set up. I was on a deadline and thought that wasn't enough time. I already had a list of helpers on hand: my sister, mom & mother in-law. But as soon as we walked in the staff quickly took over and had everything done. It was the most stress free set up I had done. They were great with this kids and made the party fun for them and myself. 

Just a couple of things to keep in mind when looking for a location the small things. Make sure to ask about how much assistance you will have (number of people), if they cover napkins and tableware, balloons (this goes a long way in decor), separate eating area for kids and adults and drinks for both adults and children. Sometimes there is an extra fee for a separate eating area for adults. It may not seem much, but when you are running around checking of your list just those couple of the small things will make it easier. Make sure you go and check out the location, because you may get there and realize you may not need that much decorations or any at all.  I had several pom pom and I didn't really need as many. A big thank you to my sister for making them for me. I am just getting started with the bigger kid parties. As I hear find more I will let you know.

 Now here is something I use for my parties. I always try to make my invites unique and I have learned that you don't have to search by party invites. You have to search by what your theme is, specially when you are using an online invite. Just download a great image and you are set. I used Periwinkleinc. I framed the image and used it for the table where my sign in book was and for the party favors.  If you love the images you can keep in the frame and put it on your little ones wall. I thought "dance with fairies, ride a unicorn swim with mermaids, and chase rainbow" was just too precious. I have yet to find a spot on our walls, but it for sure is going up. Do ask the designers if they can add working to the images. They may be able to (maybe for an extra fee or free) and then you have less to worry about. Don't over think it, trust me I have at the end simple is classic.

Every detail counts especially the small ones. They don't have to be expensive or huge. They just have to add a little splash and that goes along way. That may come in in a party favor bag, little sign as the guest walk in or some pom poms on the wall. 

A special thank you to those that helped me make this part a creative success:

Party Favor Bags: HodgePodgeNC
Book: Unicorn he thinks he is so great by Bob Shea
Art Work: Periwinkleinc
Party Location: The Little of Calabasas

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mushroom Saute with Gnocchi... YUM!

From the pages of a magazine to your table, I am sharing with you my favorite Gnocchi recipe. Maybe it's the mushrooms, garlic, gnocchi or the way they all coming together. I just can't get enough of the "Mushroom Saute with Gnocchi".

When I flip through magazines I like to see what people are cooking up in their home. My husband being Italian loves gnocchi. I myself never took a liking to them. That doesn't mean I don't like to cook him up his favorite meals. One day I stumbled upon a recipe for gnocchi in People magazine by award-winning New Orleans chef John Besh. I thought I would surprise him with this dish. He loved it and now I make this dish as often as I can

3 tbsp. margarine (recipe call for 4tbsp.)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 springs of fresh thyme (sometimes I put 5-6)
4 oz wild mushrooms, such as porcinis, shitkes, charterelles (whole) 
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 (9oz) packed store-bought potato gnocchi 
salt as desired
pepper as desired (I just add a dash)
Parmesan shaving (optional)

Step 1:
Melt margarine in large skillet over medium-high heat. 

Step 2:
Add garlic, leaves from spring of thyme and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are brown and soft 15 min. 

Step 3:
Add chicken broth and simmer until the broth is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Season for taste with salt and pepper. I only add a slash of salt and pepper.

Step 4:  
While the sauce is simmering prepare gnocchi according to package. Drain and add to mushrooms. Toss until gnocchi are coated with sauce. Let them cook together for 7-10 minutes in low heat. Now enjoy.

For the kids it can take a bit to take a liking to the gnocchi, but it's all in how you introduce them. My 5 year old loves the gnocchi, but my 3 year-old is still warming up to them. So that we all have the same meal I add some pasta to the girls plate and put less gnocchi in my 3 year-olds dish. It works! Happy tummies, happy family makes a happy mom. 

*minor changes have been made to the original recipe