Friday, July 29, 2011

The Duckling's Birthday in Photos

I'm so thrilled to finally be able to share the incredible photos Kelly Guenther captured from the duckling's party.  The hubs was a wee bit skeptical of having a professional photographer at the party, but since we're not pose-in-white-shirts-on-the-beach sort of people (not that there's anything wrong with that, we're just too messy of eaters to successfully pull that look off), I was really feeling the urge to get some really great (as in non-iPhone) photos of the duckling before he got any bigger.  The great thing about working in events is that you get to meet and work with some really talented artists.  In this case it's Kelly Guenther, who I talk about all the time (it's starting to become clear to me that I have a few blog crushes, and I think first place is a tie between Kelly and Paper Source). 

Now that the photos are in, the hubs has more than come around, and you'll see why.  I didn't include some of the more personal photos of the family and friends, as I don't want to fully put other people's kids (or mine, really) on the internet.  Unless it's Facebook, where I'm a shameless baby poster.  But there are plenty of other great things to check out, like the amazing Brooklyn Farmacy, the home away from home for our celebration.  They were so easy to work with I almost felt like I was back in Virginia, home of Southern hospitality, and what's not to love about a place that makes homemade red velvet twinkies?  My mom, mother-in-law and I supplemented their soda fountain menu with some savory items too, like the obligatory ham biscuits by my mom (I believe they were eaten so fast that there's unfortunately no photographic evidence of them), mini quiches by my wonderful mother-in-law, and egg free cupcakes from a mix by me, since the duckling's allergic to egg.  They weren't great, but they didn't need to be with all the the sundaes, egg creams and sweets galore provided by the Farmacy.

But let me back up first.  Here's the invitation I made with photoshop, a little elbow grease and free font search on google.

I went to Paper Source (is it weird that I have such a crush on them and Kelly?) to pick up some pretty robin's egg envelopes, and out the door they went.  They got the vibe across, and best of all they were nearly free, having to only buy the envelopes and stamps, and fairly easy, what with my marginal photoshop skills. 

Some of you may be asking (as did a few of our invitees), "call to 911? Quoi?".  Without boring you with the long version of the story, we now know that the duckling is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs after a harrowing experience over Christmas that involved, among other things, foamy projectile vomit, bloody mucus and a visit to the back of an ambulance, hence the egg-free cupcakes and notable absence of peanut butter sundaes (the hubs' favorite dessert, mind you), at the festivities below.  Aaaand now, the absence of any desire to finish my lunch.  Foamy puke? Ew.

Ta da!  All those darn pom pom strings and oversized balloons from the previous posts.  The red tissue you see at the bottom are the personalized goody bags I made for each kid.  How lucky was I to find ice cream cone bubble containers and punch balloons from Target on sale for the favors?  Dizzestiny!

Here are my perfectly round 18" balloons in all their glory.  There were about 24 or so in total, between the favors and a few other balloon themed details, like the menus I strung to balloons and weighted on the bars with ice cream scoops.  You can see one in the background in the photo above, or check out the closeup of my sprinkle-infested menus here

Not only were the balloons festive and functional, but they also made a great impromptu backdrop for family photos, of which we took about 150.  Cousins with cousins, grannys with grandbabies, grandmas with grandpas, babies with dogs.  I bought a bag of 72 balloons (they were cheaper that way) and ended up renting a helium tank.  It sounds totally nuts but it was way cheaper than the quote of $5 a balloon to fill them the local party store gave me.  $120 for hot air?  Try again.  I've got plenty that's free. 

The helium issue was one of those moments I wished I lived in the suburbs (which also happens everytime I hear the words "Michaels Crafts" or "Ben Franklin Craft Store" or "Jo-Ann Fabrics").  I was able to rent a tank from the town where my in-laws live for less than $40, including paying to keep it for more than the included 24 hours.  Imagine how crazy my husband thought I was when he awoke the day of the party to find me carnie-ing it up in the family room, bent over the rubber nozzle of a helium tank and surrounded by dozens of balloons.   

We also had a pony ride.  Just kidding. That's Rickson (pronounced "Hickson").  All the kids, especially this cutie, were smitten with him.  He's pretty big, as in part great dane, so maybe next year we'll strap a saddle on him for birthday #2.  The other unofficial mascot of the party was this guy...
A puppy!  Actually, just puppy wrapping paper.  Wrapping puppies in paper is cruel.  Puppy wrapping paper is not.  Underneath is (sappy story alert) the rocking horse my father (aka duckling's Papaw) made for me when I was a tot.  He refurbished it, gave it a new mane, wrapped up with a little bow and drove it all the way from Virginia to its new owner, the duckling.  Amazeballs.

Let's move onto (what else) the food. 

Since there's always a variety of guests who can't/don't eat this or that (a subset we are now a part of thanks to the whole egg-peanut-tree nut thing), I wanted to be sure to label everything so our vegetarian friends didn't accidentally chow down on a tender pillow of potato roll only to discover it was nefariously hiding a salty slab of Smithfield ham.  I made little banners, like the chicken (get it? quiche? egg? chicken? brock brock) shown here.  The "ham biscuit" pennant was, of course, held by a cute little blue pig who now lives on the shelf in our kitchen, waving his ham flag high.
Here are more blue friends adorning my crappy tasting egg-free cupcakes.  I'm not sure how or why I landed on the blue animal thing, but I simply picked up a few tubes of animal figurines from the craft store in the 'burbs (sigh) & gave each a few coatings of non-toxic, safe-to-be-touching-your-food paint in a shade similar to the invitation envelopes.  I thought they'd add in a little extra entertainment factor for the kiddos, too.  I guess I'm still also learning to navigate the whole boy thing - I don't want to over frillify the duckling's parties and room and clothing and such, but I've got a soft spot for sweet.  Oh, how I'll cry when he starts to make demands of his party themes and ideas, which will invariably include zombies or army men or dead bugs.  Can the dead bugs at least wear little bow ties or something? 
The back of this head belongs to Gabe, the duckling's best friend.  That's his mom, Jess.  She rocks.  She once thanked me for watching Gabe by bringing me home a dress from a sample sale at her store in the city.  Totally unnecessary and unexpected but indulgently wonderful.  I'm wearing it as we speak, in fact.  And over Gabe's shoulder are Ukrop's famous rainbow cookies flown all the way from Virginia by my mother.  Us southerners are almost militant about our food traditions, most of which involve butter or Crisco.  And that's my sister-in-law next to her, also from the South (well, really she's from Florida, which I consider to be it's own country, but her mom is southern through and through, so by proxy she and I are kindred folk). 
Because there were so many wonderful friends and family members present who will be there with the duckling as he grows up, I thought it would be fun to have everyone write a note to the babe for him to read on his 18th birthday, like a hybrid between a time capsule and a message in a bottle.  What with the soda fountain, ice cream, retro thing happening, only an old fashioned milk bottle would do the trick.  I sealed the bottle with a handmade wax seal, using the "1" candle from his cupcakes.  Reuse, reduce, recycle.  Here's Grandma writing her little note to the babe.  And no, I didn't read any of the notes save for the two I wrote.  I get to write two notes because I'm his mom and it was my idea.  I can just see Future Duckling now rolling his eyes when he discovers I snuck in an extra message, especially when he sees that it's four times as large as any of the others and double sided.     

 See the date of is 18th birthday? June 3, 2028?  Oy.
Here's the duckling enjoying his first cupcake.  Happy birthday, baby boy!  Our Your party was so fun, and I can't wait to watch what this year brings! 


  1. Love the cupcake toppers - what kind of paint did you use?

    Found you over on this great round up of plastic animals -

    1. Hi, and thanks! I used a non-toxic paint, which you can then coat with a food-safe polyeurethane if you're concerned about food contact. yes, i was aware of our inclusion on inspirationhechoamano...i sent her an email thanking her in half intelligible spanish :)


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