SPOTLIGHT ON: An Insanely Awesome Picnic Engagement Party

I fell in love with Morgan + KTs Picnic Engagement Party the first moment I saw the pictures.

What speaks to me about it is that it's homemade, low key, beautiful, fun, and all about love.  What could be better?

[caption id="attachment_1817" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The party theme."]

I asked Katie, from NSW Australia, how she created it, and here's what she said:

What was your inspiration for the party?

I can't remember my exact inspiration for the party but I know it was just coming out of winter and I wanted to get outdoors and into the sunshine! Also a lot of our friends were also having night time engagement parties and we wanted to do something a little different.

We wanted to create a laid back picnic feel, where people could dine on the grass, enjoying the sunshine and where we could spend a lazy Saturday afternoon with our friends and family. Unfortunately the weather didn't co-operate for us and we ended up having to bring in shelters and no-one really 'picnicked' on the grass (instead on chairs) but we had fun just the same.  I created a mind map for the event and starting listing all the ideas that came to mind when I thought of a picnic party - and it kinda grew from there.

Here is what i wrote on my blog: “simple a little country (to compliment our wedding which is being held in the country) picnic style a red & orange colour theme and a M+K= <3 theme (which many of our guests cleverly used too!)


Can you describe all the different things that went on during the party? You can find a lot of info on this on my blog: (under wedding) I have listed all the things we did in seperate posts.

Food: Morgan's cousins acted as servers and brought out trays of yummy food. For mains we served chicken ceaser salad and anglo-asian lamb salad in noodle boxes (which were left over from another party) It was YUMMY. Also yummy was the home made lemonade which was drunk out of straws with flags which guests were asked to write their name on.

Homemade lemonade in jelly jars.

Games: We set up lawn boules on the grass, random balls and I'm pretty sure Morgan put some cricket equipment out too. The homemade twister quilt was also a fun game for kids and adults alike.

Homemade Twister sign

Homemade Twister game in action.

Another easy 'game' was leaving buckets of chalk on the driveway to help keep our littlest guest occupied. They loves it and created a whole 'hopscotch land' and covered the rest of the driveway in M<3 K!

The kids played with sidewalk chalk

Photo booth: We hung a sheet between two palm trees, put our camera on a tripod, created some felt mustaches from an online tutorial and had guests take silly photos of themselves. It was a lot of fun and we got some of the best shots of our guests from here. I plan on scrapbooking them with notes from the guestbook.

Homemade photo booth complete with mustaches.

Guestbook: We hung some twine between some palm trees and cut simple squares out of scrapbooking paper which were pegged onto the twine. We also used the line to display some of our favorite engagement photos.

Wishes were strung on clothes lines.

Quiz: We gathered everyone together and made a silly quiz of our relationship. The idea was that at least one guest knew an answer to each of the questions and guest had to mingle to find the answers they didn't know. The answered were then read out and lead into the speeches. (there was also a small prize for the winner)

Speeches + toasts: Speeches were a special part of the day. Also a very special was the part where Morgan's dad prayed over our marriage, relationship and wedding preparation while all of our friends and family joined in.

What were the most fun things to design and create? I had a lot of fun sewing up the twister quilt. And love the idea how this can one day become a family heirloom and picnic tradition - we have used it a lot for picnics since!

Homemade Twister quilt

Also fun was making the chalkboard signs and flag straws, cupcake toppers, framed signs and any paper related crafts.

What activities were the most fun for your guests and you during the party?

The guests all commented on the food actually, particularly Morgans mum's berry pie. :)
And I guess the photobooth were a lot of guest had fun hanging around and being silly.

And for the kids it was the chalk on the driveway!

And we really loved getting to sit down together the morning after the party, at breakfast, and reading over all the guestbook notes from family and friends. There were some really funny responses!

What was your budget?

Hmm wow. As our party was about 7 months ago I can't really remember that one.

But I do know some hints as to how we kept costs down.

Having a party at home was definitely a money saver because it meant no hire costs. We were also lucky enough to borrow all the chairs from church and the 'circus' tarpaulin from a friend. So don't be afraid to ask friends and family if you can borrow.

Instead of buying an 'engagement cake' we opted to make our own cupcakes, which were actually just simple packet mixes (although we made our own icing) - they took about 5 hours worth of icing but were worth it.

Homemade cupcakes and cupcake toppers.

We also made all our own food - a joint effort from my mum, Morgan's mum and aunt, sister, cousins and myself. It was a lot of work but meant we didn't need to hire a caterer. And cousins helped serve so Morgan and myself could enjoy the party.

Signs were made from scrap wood and left over chalk board paint from another project. And other objects, frames, tables, glass jars were brought in from around the house.

We made the invitations ourselves and found lots of free tutorials online for eg. the envelope labels, mustaches, Martha Stewart banner: so keep a great eye out for free printables and ideas.

Homemade invitations.

How long did it take to put together?
I can't quite remember this one either. I think a 2-3 months?
What's your wedding going to be like?

We are having a Spring time wedding in the Hunter Valley NSW with an outdoor ceremony followed by a garden party and then a reception at a closeby vineyard. We want to day to be fun and a reflection of us and most importantly our relationship with Christ and his plan for marriage. So you can expect lots of handmade touches, fun music, games and untraditional twists.
We are also planning to keep our friends and family (they mean a lot to us) quite involved - we will be getting married by Morgan's uncle and close friends will play music etc.
Morgan and Katie's wedding is in November and she promises to share her wedding photos on Catch My Party.   As soon as she does, I will add them to the blog so you can see them!
Can't wait, Katie!!

Top Chef Masters Wedding Wars

I love "Top Chef Masters," so how psyched was I to watch last week's episode and see that it was "Wedding Wars."

I wish I could have tasted the food.  How many times have I been to a wedding where the food was just adequate, or not even that great.  What would it be like to be at a wedding and eat food prepared by awesome chefs?

The desserts made by Govind Armstrong where quite impressive, but I have to say I was happy when Jody Adams won the challenge.  She seems modest and hard working, no showboating, which I like.

But I've got a couple questions... How do they pick the couple to feature on the show?  Are they foodies, because based on the episode they didn't seem like it.  And what's it like to have a reality show filming at your wedding?

Even though I think of myself as a slight foodie, I'm not sure I'd welcome the cameras, even for the free food.  Any thoughts?

The City Cradle's 30 X 30 Project

Vicky of the City Cradle blog has a goal.  She wants to throw 30 parties by the time she turns 30.  She has until March 2011 to do it, and so far she's thrown 6 (way ahead of schedule).

On her blog she shares everything that goes into the planning of her parties, from inspiration, to design, to the actual event.  And what I love about her posts are all the details and DIY projects she includes.

Plus, you can see by her designs how beautiful, warm, and unique they are.  You'd never know she does this on a budget.

Her six parties so far:

A Coffee and Tea Tasting Bridal Shower

A Pinwheels & Pearls Girl's Birthday Party

A Mother's Day Brunch

A Bird's Nest Baby Shower

A Spring in Bloom Party

A Roast and Toast Housewarming Party

The other impressive thing about Vicky is that she also has twin babies!  You can check them out on Tuesdays when she adds her Tuesday Twin Snap.  Adorable.

Cake Pops -- My New Obsession

Can you believe I've never tried a cake pop?  I know... the insanity.  And yet, I'm obsessed with them, and with the blog Bakerella where it all began.

For those of you late to the game, like myself, you might be asking what's a cake pop?  Well, it's just crumbled cake combined with frosting, rolled into balls, covered in chocolate, with sticks attached.  Simple, but oh so delicious, and incredibly cute.

Many of the parties on our site feature them, because they look so great on a dessert table.

Here are my favorites from Bakerella.

And here are two variations on the theme from Bakerella, macaron pops and pie pops.  Genius.

If you want to make any of these above, check out the Bakerella blog because every pop comes with detailed directions.

I can't promise they will look as beautiful as these, but I bet they'll sure taste good.

My Favorite New Designer Party Shoes a.k.a. Shoe Porn

Given that I just did a post on how to throw a Sex and the City 2 themed party, I've had shoes on the brain.

Since I can't afford a new pair of Louboutins, I can at least look.  So here are a few of my favorite designer shoes for spring.

Christian Louboutin Very Jaws 140 Slingbacks

Valentino Floral Organza Sandals

Alexander McQueen Metallic-Leather Strappy Sandals

Lanvin Sunbeam Snakeskin Pump

Emilio Pucci Leather Multi-Strap Sandals

Jimmy Choo Private Patent-Leather Sandals

Fendi Chain-Trimmed Suede Sandals

My New Favorite Site for Mother's Day E-Cards is Ojolie

My new favorite site for Mother's Day e-cards is Ojolie.

The cards are both beautiful and understated.

Here's what the artist/owner of the site, Frederikke Tu, says about her work:

"Our ecards are my work of passion, taking weeks of painstaking - but fun and satisfying - work and attention to detail to complete. First I hand paint many parts, and then the scanned images are combined with Flash animation to create a visually stunning story."

The ecards are not free, but for a 1 year subscription it will cost you only $10.

My favorites are definitely the animated origami cards, but so many of the them are absolutely gorgeous.

Origami e-card

Origami Cranes e-card

Flutter e-card

Pigeongram e-card

How to Throw a Sex and the City Themed Party

Now that Sex and the City 2 is premiering on May 27th, I thought it was time to write about how to throw your own Sex and the City 2 themed party.

First off, you can always start old school.

  • For drinks serve cosmopolitans, Manhattans, Long Island ice teas, or appletinis
  • For food, Chinese food and sushi are two show favorites
  • Send fancy invitations and ask your guests to dress as their favorite character
  • For atmosphere, put out boas, scarves, gloves, sunglasses, flower pins, and jewelry
  • To create a NYC backdrop, hang twinkle lights and blow up some pictures of the New York City skyline
  • Play the show DVDs, the first movie, or the movie soundtrack during the party
  • Play the Sex and the City trivia game

But now to make it more current, add some Middle Eastern flavor.

  • Serve some middle eastern dishes like hummus, tabouleh, falafel, baba ganoush, and kebabs
  • Decorate with sand, blow up palm trees, and toy camels
  • Provide colorful scarves for your guests and have a belly dancing contest
  • Create a game to see who can point to Abu Dhabi on a map
  • Get "Team Aidan" and "Team Big" t-shirts made to give out as party favors
If you have any other ideas, please share.  And if you have a Sex and the City 2 party, let me know.  I'd love to write about it here in my blog.

Just 21 days until opening day... but who's counting.

What is a Cricut?

A bunch of users have mentioned using a Cricut to add details to their parties.  So of course I had to ask, what is a Cricut?

It turns out it's a pretty cool electronic cutting device to cut out shapes and letters for scrapbooking and craft projects.

Here's what one looks like.  No computer necessary.

They seem to range in price from about $100 to $350, but where it can get even pricier is when you add in the cost of the cartridges you need to make the cool shapes.  These run anywhere from $25 to $80 each.

So the question is... is it worth it?

And the answer is... if you are a "crafty" person, yes!   There's really nothing like it.  Take a look at some of the things you can do with a Cricut.

In fact, they even have a new food Cricut for cake and cookie decorating.  Check out this cake.

Kind of cool, right?

The Best Cinco De Mayo Margarita Recipes

Since it's almost Cinco De Mayo, I thought a couple margarita recipes are in order.

Here are a few of my favorites!

Traditional Margarita courtesy of Drink of the Week

Take a cocktail glass and rub the lime wedge around the rim, dip rim in the salt.

1 1/2 oz. Tequila 1/2 oz. Triple Sec 1 oz. Lime Juice or Sweet & Sour Bar Salt Garnish - Lime Squeeze

In a shaker with ice combine Tequila, Triple Sec, & Lime Juice. Shake well a strain into the cocktail glass.

On the Rocks - Fill a salted bucket glass with ice. Build this 'Maggie' right in the glass.

Frozen Margarita - Blend ingredients with a scoop of ice, serve in a salted large stem 'Margarita' glass. Frozen Fruit Margaritas can be made by adding a scoop of fresh fruit (strawberries, peaches, pineapples, etc.)

Cadillac Margarita courtesy of Drink of the Week

1 1/2 oz. Gold Tequila 1/2 oz. Cointreau 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier 1 oz. Lime Juice Bar Salt Garnish - Lime Squeeze

Rim a margarita or highball glass with lime and coat with salt. Next, fill the glass with ice and set aside. In a shaker with ice combine Tequila, Cointreau, & Lime Juice. Shake well a strain into the glass. Float the Grand Marnier on top, and squeeze the lime and drop it in.

Frozen Strawberry Margarita courtesy of Food Network

3 cups strawberries 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur 1/3 cup fresh lime juice 3/4 cup tequila  (preferably anejo) 2 tablespoons honey pinch of salt

Puree ingredients in a blender. Add 3 cups ice and blend until smooth. Divide among 4 stemmed glasses. Garnish with strawberries dipped in sugar.

Watermelon Margarita courtesy of

4 cups watermelon, seeded & cubed 1 6-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate 1/2 cup tequila, your pick 3 tablespoons sugar & lime wedges for garnish

In a large zip-lock bag- place watermelon cubes inside & freeze for 8 hours. Take out your watermelon bag & get your blender ready.  In the blender combine half of your watermelon cubes, limeade & tequila. Process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half.

To garnish: Place the sugar in a wide, shallow bowl. Moisten the rim of a margarita glass with a lime

Arizona Margarita courtesy of Drink of the Week

2 oz. Tequila 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice 1/2 oz. prickly pear juice 1/2 oz Cointreau Kosher salt Ice Lime slice for garnish

Shake liquid ingredients with ice in a martini shaker. Strain out ice before serving. Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with kosher salt and garnish with a lime slice.

Chambord Margarita courtesy of Drink of the Week

Tequila 1/2 oz. Triple Sec 1/2 oz. Chambord 3 oz. Margarita Mix

Combine all ingredients in an electric blender with 1 cup if ice. Blend for 30 seconds. Serve in a margarita glass. Garnish with a lime

Cherry Sling Margarita courtesy of Drink of the Week

1 1/2 oz. Agavero Licor De Tequila 3/4 oz. Cherry Blossom Sling Margarita Mix (substitute equal parts of Cherry & lime juice) 4 oz. Sparkling Water

Add all ingredients in to a Collins glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with an orange wedge.

Blueberry Lime Margarita courtesy of Food Network

2 cups ice 1 cup frozen blueberries 1 cup blueberry nectar 1/4 cup seltzer 2 tablespoons frozen limeade 1 tablespoon lime juice 3 ounces tequila, optional 1 lime wedge Coarse salt

Combine ice, blueberries, blueberry nectar, seltzer, limeade, lime juice and tequila, if using, in a blender and blend until smooth. Rub rim of 2 glasses with lime wedge and dip in salt. Divide the margarita between the prepared glasses and serve. smooth. Rub rim of 2 glasses with lime wedge and dip in salt. Divide the margarita between the prepared glasses and serve.

Enjoy!  And Happy Cinco De Mayo!!!

How to Throw a Birthday Party for your Dog (or Cat)

I just stumbled upon Tail Waggin' Celebrations, which is an actual party supply store for dogs.

If you want to throw your dog a party, this is your one-stop shop.  They've got invitations, dog party hats, cakes and treats.

They've even got supplies for cat parties too.

If anyone throws a party for your dog or cat, I'd love to feature it on our homepage in our Party of the Day and blog about it.

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