Tag Archives: cake

Approaching 30

Do you know how hard it is to write a recap of a weekend you aren’t ready to let go of yet?

Hard.

Chicago had everything going for it this weekend. Great food, perfect weather, a music festival that keeps hundreds of thousands in Grant Park so you can enjoy the rest of the city crowd-free and a surprise birthday party with nearly all of my friends and family.

Wait, what?

chicago skyline, north avenue, summer, Chicago, city, reflection

I flew back to Chicago this weekend to celebrate one of my best friends and former roommate at her baby shower.

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I was expecting to cuddle a few babies, hoping to catch up with my Chicago friends and planning on eating as much ethnic food as I could to get me through until the next visit. I love your sunshine Florida but nothing compares to Chicago for food.

cafe creme, bucktown, wicker park, breakfast, brunch, maccarons, Chicago, dining

We decided on a small get-together Saturday evening to make it easy on the new parents in the group, not much changing from our parties of the past except an inverse ratio of sip cups and flip cups and a universal awareness of the potential of finger pinches and stair falls.

surprise 30th birthday party, kids, toddlers, babies, Chicago

I was thrilled that all of my friends made the effort to come over with their kids, especially considering bedtimes might be off and meltdowns might occur. And I was pleased yet confused to see each of them show up with a dish to share, while I the out-of-towner had nothing to contribute to the cause. If you know me well you know how much something like this troubles me.

babies, photography, toddlers, summer, surprise party, Chicago

I was completely content and happy, enjoying a perfect summer night with some of my favorite people when my mom walked onto the deck, followed by my sister, Owen and Jake. Dad would show up a few minutes later in typical Murf fashion as I tried to quell my tears and perspiration from the shock.

I flashed back to my 15th birthday when after finishing a family dinner at home, I was told I had a present in the basement that I should go “check out.” I embarrassingly descended the stairs to be greeted by my closest Freshman guy and girlfriends who were waiting to surprise me, each adorned with a different color plastic lei. I was equal parts mortified and excited. Mortified that they had been waiting in my wood-paneled basement throughout dinner and excited to jam out to some TLC and BSB songs for the rest of the night. 

family, surprise party, birthday, chicago, summer

The good news about approaching 30 is that selfless acts of kindness no longer embarrass you.

The bad news is they make you sob uncontrollably.

friends, surprise party, birthday, chicago, summer

A good friend is someone who lets you believe you are celebrating her all weekend and then goes and throws a surprise party for you along the way. Or someone who with her own family in town and a 4-week-old baby, coordinates cake and fruit platters to celebrate. The one who sits in traffic longer than the party probably lasted to be there. The one you’ve known since you were 10 who was in attendance for the wood-paneled basement surprise and just hours ago returned from a cross-country flight back from California with a toddler.

Note: the husbands, too. Even though I didn’t get any photos of any of them, they deserve a little credit as well. 

babies, photography, toddlers, summer, surprise party, Chicago

And a great family. A great family will detour their way through the northern part of the state and back, spend the better part of the day at LegoLand and then trek all the way into the city just to be there to celebrate with you and your friends. On Lollapalooza weekend no less.

These people and that city make it hard for a girl to recap a weekend she wishes she was still in the middle of.

Nonetheless, I’m feeling pretty good about this whole 30 thing.

Cornbread Cake Crumble

Man I love subject lines chock full of alliteration. Can you blame me? It perfectly sums up what this recipe is; a mix of cornbread, cake and an awesome crumble on top.

And as much as I love alliteration, I love cornbread even more. Just don’t tell my good friend almond butter. I’m not sure love even covers my feelings on a good batch of cornbread. Adoration perhaps. Addiction probably. There may or may not have been an occasion where I single-handily devoured an entire basket of jalapeno cornbread in a suite at a NASCAR race a few years ago.

It’s probably because we’ve lived in the south for so long that I developed this fondness for cornbread. Just kidding. It’s a direct result of the countless visits my grandmother took my cousins and I on to good Old Country Buffet when we were little. And if they didn’t have cornbread, I opted for a cinnamon roll to go with my mac n’ cheese and orange drink right before I let my cousins tell me how to spend my $20 at the Toys “R” Us next door, likely in an altered state from the spike in glucose.

Those. Were. The. Days.

I saw this recipe from the How Sweet It Is blog a few weeks ago on Instagram and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Oh come on, you know you get hangry when you see all those food pictures on Instagram, too. If you ask me, there is no reason why likes or comments shouldn’t come with free samples. Just sayin’.

So as with most things I can’t get out of my head, I finally decided to try it. Don’t hate me ’cause I made it. Hate me because I haven’t figured out how to ship the free samples yet.

cornbread_cake_crumble

Cornbread Cake Crumble

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 C cornmeal
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 1 TBL + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a spring-form pan with parchment paper. I typically trace the bottom of my pan with a knife over the parchment (and on a cutting board) so I have a circle for the bottom. Spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Add melted butter and stir until just combined.

In a liquid measure blend eggs, milk and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to dry and stir to blend. Pour batter into pan.

crumb topping

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, melted

In a separate bowl, whisk flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Add melted butter and mix until crumbly. I realize this seems like an abundance of crumb topping. I hesitated too, but it’s worth it. Trust me.

cornbread recipe, cake, recipes, cornbread cake crumble, dessert, breakfast, brunch, crumb cake, how sweet it is, instagram, baking, cornmeal

Top batter with crumb topping. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out of the center clean.

cornbread recipe, cake, recipes, cornbread cake crumble, dessert, breakfast, brunch, crumb cake, how sweet it is, instagram, baking, cornmeal

I ran out of tomatoes so I couldn’t try the candied tomatoes that came with the recipe, but I will tell you that a healthy dose of honey is like heaven on a piece of this, too.

cornbread recipe, cake, recipes, cornbread cake crumble, dessert, breakfast, brunch, crumb cake, how sweet it is, instagram, baking, cornmeal

Not too sweet. Not too savory. A combination confusing enough that you will be able to justify this cornbread cake crumble at nearly every meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Moments of Clarity and Prancercise

Have you ever had a moment of clarity in the midst of an everyday routine? As if all of a sudden you are experiencing it for the first time? Not so much a deja-vu moment, although I have plenty of those on the regular, but a lovely mix of nostalgia, beauty and hope all wrapped up into one? For example, you find yourself walking the same route you’ve walked a hundred times, but for some reason you become more present. You notice the way the lilacs smell sound as they blow in the wind, the incredible shade of green that the grass has turned across an open field, the sound of a running stream alongside the road after a big storm. In the city, these moments are typically followed by a blaring horn and expletives as hurried commuters try to get to work, but they are there nonetheless. But it’s when I’m back home when I really notice them.

I traveled home for the weekend to see my family and to go to St. Louis with some girlfriends for a Cardinals game. Owen finished up school this week so I was fortunate to spend most of Friday afternoon hanging out with my favorite boys. 

boys_collage

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Don’t underestimate the brainpower of a near-7-year-old. Not only did Owen act as banker, making correct change for what I deemed to be difficult real estate transactions, but he managed to negotiate hotel development and rental fees with a strategy that would impress even Trump. Watch out 2nd grade.
  2. Kennels are not just for dogs. At least not in this family. From the time I brought Finn to visit, these two have insisted on locking themselves inside his kennel for extended periods of time. I like to think they get their imagination from their Auntie Sarah, going on all sorts of adventures as Finn looks on confused at the reversal in roles. Whatever the case, excersaucers are expensive and seeing as how this Kennel has paid for itself 5 times over, I think I’ll be all set by the time I have kids of my own.
  3. Dogs don’t wear pants. Therefore boys who dress up as dogs don’t need to wear pants either. At least according to Jake. After a series of negotiations as to why he needed to keep his underwear on in order to don the dog costume, Jake finally agreed. But not before informing me that if I hadn’t noticed, Finny doesn’t have any underwear on so imaginary dog Jake shouldn’t either. Good boy, Jake.

It was early Saturday morning that I had one of those moments of clarity. We had storms the night before and as I took Finn out for a long walk, I had an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for the place I grew up. For a long time, my neighborhood was just that, a neighborhood. A pickup destination where I ran out the door before my ride could honk twice. A place where I ate and slept and rolled my eyes on a daily basis. The older I get the more I realize that it’s not just a house or a neighborhood at all. It’s home. As we walked I wished I had my phone to snap photos of the little elements of home I was finally seeing after all those years. My parent’s house is nestled above a creek and off what was formerly a country road. My “home home” is nearly the antitheses to my “city home.” Quiet, wide open and filled with big old trees and wildlife.

running trail ladder

Memories always flood back of the days where my girlfriends and I spent hours rollerblading in and out of each other’s driveways, hiking down to the creek and through the fields to visit our friend’s houses the next neighborhood over and selling friendship bracelets, lemonade or our older sisters’ belongings for Ice Deli cash.

There’s also an old railroad track that has been turned into a running and biking trail nearby. So I try to say hello whenever I’m home.

trail run earthworm Here’s what I learned:

  1. After inches and inches of rain, sticks feel just like snakes under your feet. This can be positive however, in allowing you to do a quick set of high-knees as a warm up before you start your run.
  2. Even if snake sticks under your feet give you the willies, the 7 year-old self in you will never let you leave a stranded earthworm to the fate of a bike tire or rogue tennis shoe in the middle of a trail. It may be the only life you save that day as you will then encounter at least 6 more on your way back, but saving lives takes time and you’ve got a pace to keep up.

After my run, my mom and I headed downtown to the farmer’s market. It’s still early in the season, but we both really enjoy going on Saturday mornings when I’m home. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t love fresh produce first thing in the morning?

farmers market strawberries radishes

Here’s what I learned:

  1. My mom carries indeterminate amounts of cash in various locations at any one time. Just when you think she’s spent it all on rhubarb and radishes, she pulls out another wad of ones faster than a bookie on race day. If you want to learn how to farmer’s market it, go with the farm queen.
  2. Farmer’s markets can cause you to be a hoarder…of tomato plants. If you don’t scope properly, you are sure to buy several tomato plants at one stand only to find that the stand 3 down has bigger ones for a cheaper price. The same can be said for fresh loaves of bread, asparagus and lettuce this time of year. It’s like instagramming a photo and then seeing a better opportunity just a few minutes later. Doh!   

Saturday afternoon it was off to St. Louis for the Cards game.

st. louis cardinals

Here’s what I learned:

  1. You are never too old for a road trip with friends. Weddings, babies and real jobs aside, everyone can benefit from a good old-fashioned weekend with the people who knew you when you had braces. My chest still hurts from all the laughs and my body from the prancercising.
  2. Speaking of, there’s something to be said for this whole  prancercising trend. At least if you ask me and the guy who recognized that was the trend behind my ‘springy, rhythmic way of moving forward’ after a day of drinks and lots of tacos.

Believe it or not, I actually managed to bake something last week. My girlfriend made a gorgeous lemon pound cake for the pig roast the weekend prior and I wanted to try it out. Well, a little part of me wanted to. A bigger part just wanted an excuse to use my new juicer I bought after our cooking class the other day. Motivation is motivation, right?

lemon juicer

And so I did. During the ‘Hawks game nonetheless. I knew when I decided to let it cool in the pan overnight that I would be in for trouble the next day. After all, it said cool for 30 minutes and then flip. But I wanted to spend that next 30 minutes sleeping instead so the bundt and I had a battle the next day. Do as I say, not as I did and maybe your bundt won’t be as messy as mine was.

glazed lemon pound cake

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

  • 1 C unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 C flour (gluten free all purpose flour can be used too)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 C sugar
  • 2 TBL lemon zest
  • 6 TBL lemon juice
  • 6 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 C greek yogurt
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour bundt pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lemon zest. Use your awesome new juicer to beat in 4 TBL of lemon juice. Add eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl between each one.

Alternate flour mixture and yogurt on low until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour or so until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 30 minutes then flip it onto cooling rack. Don’t let it sit in pan overnight or your lovely ridges will be divots.

lemon pound cake

Mix powdered sugar and 2 TBL lemon juice for glaze. Drizzle over cake in a manner that will look prettier than mine. Enjoy!

lemon pound cake slice

Have you ever experienced a moment of clarity?

Have you ever prancercised?

Have you ever experienced an epic baking FAIL?

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Spring Cleaning with a side of Rhubarb Cake

I had grand intentions this weekend. With an extra day off, I intended to make a to-do list and actually do the things on it. That’s right folks, spring was coming and I was feeling the itch.

Capture

Unfortunately in order to do spring cleaning you actually have to have weather that indicates some sign of spring. It’s no fun to dust with the door shut or to store away those bulky sweaters when temps are still in the twenties. Trust me. I tried.

I know I keep talking about April showers but they really hit us hard here in Chicago last week. April showers followed by April flooding and capped off with more April snow showers.

flood

what’s that you say? oh just your average manhole turned geyser in the middle of the city. NBD.

But the difference between April and January is that  in April the sun eventually shines and the cold weather doesn’t last as long. So as the city dried itself off, I set out to tackle my to-do list again.

I tried to get Finn involved. Telling him that if I was going to do a purge and donate a bunch of my clothes, that he had to pick one toy to get rid of, too.

greater swiss mountain dog

time-stamp: 11:25 a.m.

Clearly, he was game.

greater swiss mountain dog

timestamp: 11:27 a.m.

I think I mentioned last week in my post about Jake’s Captain America Party that my sister is much better at purging things than I am. And even though she was in town this weekend, I still managed to part with my abundance of t-shirts that I haven’t touched in years all by myself. Many, many years.

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if I told you I used to have 3 drawers full would you believe me?

Why? Because you never know when you might need that sleeveless basketball t-shirt from 7th grade you spent hours wearing while doing suicides in an 80 degree gymnasium. Or that the memory of the co-ed flag football championship that you and your fellow Tampax Runstoppers won might not be enough without the long-sleeved uniform that went with it. Because those shirts are attached to life, folks. And that’s hard to let go of.

Well it was hard. Until you’re living in a one-bedroom condo and you literally run out of space for your hoarding problem and then turn into the purging sister you never thought you’d become.

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this empty basket’s for you Anne

I managed to make a decent dent in my closet and actually felt better about myself once it was all over. I’d like to thank you for helping me let go through this post as well. After all, I think some of the parting process comes from documenting the encounter. Who am I kidding, of course it does. And I can only hope that a teenage boy in the city will learn something about the female reproductive system after he wears that shirt to school one day. And that makes me giggle.

After the cleaning was done I set out to completely reverse it by messing up my kitchen. I hit up the grocery store yesterday and bought a plethora of rhubarb. And when I say plethora I mean both in amount and size. My produce market is like the Gold’s Gym of produce markets. Everything there is on steroids. And I’m ok with that.

rhubarb

After the blueberry cake last week, I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandma’s rhubarb cake. And since it was a co-worker’s birthday the next day, it was the perfect excuse to kick off the season. If you haven’t tried rhubarb cake, you’re missing out. I can’t take credit for this one beyond throwing everything together. Credit goes to my Grandma Bosch. Hers puts mine to shame.

rhubarb cake

Remember what I said about recipes with stains? Well this one takes the cake. Not only do I have one stained recipe, but right above it I have another. That’s right. Two of the exact same recipe written down in the same cookbook on the same page. Clearly a trusted recipe. 

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Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

  • 2 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Shortening (other recipe calls for butter-makes sense now)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 C buttermilk (mixed with 1 tsp baking soda)
  • 4 C Rhubarb, chopped

Topping

  • 1/2 Sugar (there’s always extra)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Chop rhubarb into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

rhubarb

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt.

Mix 1 tsp baking soda into buttermilk.

Cream shortening or butter with sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk until combined. Fold in rhubarb.

Spread into greased and floured 9×13 pan. Dust cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean. NOTE: I have a gas oven and mine was done in less than 40.

rhubarb cake

Now eat your cake and forget about all of the memories you just threw away. Happy spring!

Blueberry Tea Cake

I must admit, my baking has been somewhat of a bust as of late. Last week I attempted a “healthy” oatmeal, banana, raisin cookie and it failed miserably. I was missing one of the ingredients and tried to make it work, and well, let’s just say it was intern level at best. I can’t promise I won’t attempt it again just because I’m competitive, but I’ll save you the wasted ingredients until I at least have a successful outcome.

oatmeal raisin cookies

healthy cookie FAIL

While I typically eat pretty healthy and substitute where I can, I try not to skimp when it comes to baking. I come from the school of thought that if you enjoy the real thing, you are less likely to binge on it. There are a few exceptions of course. And those recipes I typically take straight to the office. No one looks pretty standing over the counter devouring an entire 9×13 pan of rhubarb cake. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.

blueberry tea cake

Speaking of rhubarb cake. This is typically the time of year I make my grandmother’s recipe. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on any good rhubarb yet so I settled for a blueberry tea cake instead.

berry blue tea cake

My mom always says you can judge a good recipe by the stains on the paper. And she’s right. The tried and true ones are typically creased, gray and aged to perfection. Just like George Clooney. As I was looking through my cookbook for a recipe to help dig myself out of the black hole of baked goods, this little piece of paper fell onto the counter like a sign from the baking gods. It was one my mom gave to me from a Junior League cookbook circa 1990. Inspiration comes in all forms and this time it was staring at me saying, Bake me, Bake me!

And so I did.

blueberry tea cake

Berry Blue Tea Cake

  • 2 C sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C milk (I used almond)
  • 2 C blueberries

Topping

  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 TBL flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 TBL butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.

In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and milk. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in floured blueberries. Batter will be thick.

In a small bowl, cut 2 TBL butter into sugar, flour and cinnamon mixture. Just dig in and use your hands. Spread topping over batter. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

Tea cakes are great because like scones, they can be justified at any meal of the day. Have some with your morning coffee. It’s not too sweet. Serve it for Sunday brunch. After all, there’s fresh fruit in it. Scarf down another piece for dessert. You can’t go wrong with a cinnamon-sugar combo.

In today’s Pin-centric world, I’m interested to hear if you still use cookbooks and printed recipes? Where do you get your cooking inspiration from?

Running in the Rain

I have a secret love for running in the rain. I think the positive association comes from all those years of spring soccer where field conditions allowed for overzealous slide tackles and everyone wanted to try their hand at goalkeeper. Why wouldn’t you? In the rain, balls either stopped dead in the box or you at least got a 90 minute mud facial without having to tip the esthetician. Whatever the case, when the clouds opened up just in time for my 7-miler on Saturday, the 7 year-old Sarah in me smiled.

I traveled home this weekend to pick up Finn and to celebrate a few birthdays. It was a beautiful day on Friday so I stopped at home and brought Finn with for some afternoon errands.  After all, it had been nearly two weeks and I really missed him.

finn_car

plotting his next move

But don’t let the sweet face fool you. Theres a Brian Urlacher hiding behind those eyes just waiting to come between you and the last 7 steps of a staircase if you leave him for too long. And apparently two weeks is just enough. Trust me. I’ve got the whiplash to prove it.

Time: Saturday, 6 a.m.

(Loud thud)

Mom: Don’t worry, Mike, I think that was just the dog.

(Sarah moans)

Mom: Oh no, nope that was Sarah. Oh Finny, what did you do?!

He just tried to make a lesson out of his momma, that’s what.

finn_couch

And while there were no additional murder attempts, the rest of the weekend was still rather eventful. March is not only the start of running in the rain season, but the kickoff to birthday season in my family as well. We began the bonanza with a surprise tennis-themed party on Saturday night and a brunch celebrating my mom’s birthday Sunday morning.

tennis_party

Tennis and Chocolate

macaroons frittata birthday

Celebrating Mom’s Birthday

Here’s to an early spring and a few more chances to get out and run in the rain. Have a great week!

Baby Season

I think I’ll call this winter the season of babies. After all, in just a 3 month time frame, 4 of my closest girlfriends delivered (or are soon-to-be-delivering) 4 healthy baby girls. I don’t know what the odds of 4 friends having 4 girls 6 weeks apart are but I’m pretty sure we should have gone to Vegas.  Then again, pregos and vegas probably don’t mix well. Maybe we’ll take the girls when they turn 21.

It seems like just yesterday we were playing beauty pageant in my mom’s basement. It seems even more recent that we were planning 21st birthday bashes, bachelorette and bridal showers. But babies?! I can still see the look on our most recent bride-to-be’s face when not one, not two, but three of her besties announced that they would not be able to indulge in Mex-all-you-can-drink-ico at her wedding last summer. Luckily we have a great group of fun girls and party-worthy boys to keep the festivities up regardless of liquor consumption.

I think that was the moment I realized we were adults. Not that I didn’t feel responsible before (I may or may not be known as the “mom” in the group), but something about creating offspring just makes it real. And I’m sure the Moms and Dad’s that are now Nana’s, Papoo’s, Rockin’ G’s and Grandma’s felt it even more so than us kids did.

Just like the milestones we experienced in our years growing up as close friends, this one calls for a party, err 3 parties. So grab a drink and use the restroom before I present to you: Baby Season!

We kicked off Baby Season with the “oldest” of the three, little Miss Grace. For Grace’s shower we went with a vintage pink and gray theme. The shower was held at a local bakery and cafe in the late summer so we wanted something that would be girly, have a touch of vintage and fit with the season. Grace’s nursery also followed the same color scheme so we were able to incorporate a few elements that could be used later in the nursery as well (always a plus). NOTE: I highly recommend thinking about the time of year before picking a theme for a shower or party. Your hunt for corresponding elements will be so much easier. Nothing is worse than trying to find magenta table decor the week before Halloween.

Since food was catered, we focused on dessert and cake for the sweets table. We incorporated some local popcorn, a few of the mother-to-be’s favorite sweets and some labeled popcorn buckets for guests to take the treats home with them.

pink and gray baby shower

baby shower dessert favors

Cafe Moxo, the venue where we hosted the shower, makes great cakes. I was very impressed with both the look and taste of the cake and just added a little bunting for decoration. We also did cupcakes on each of the tables in various seasonal flavors.

pink rosette baby shower cake

Pink Rosette Cake

My good friend Amanda also had the cute idea of implementing a station so that guests could create a custom headband for Grace to wear. We included some tags so that guests could label the accessory when they were done. It was a hit!

baby shower headband station

Headband Station

paper straws baby shower drinks

Drink Station

Fast forward one month and we were ready to celebrate Baby Abigail. Due just a short 6 weeks after her bestie Grace, Abigail’s shower fell the weekend before Halloween so we embraced everything Fall. Since this shower was held at a friend’s house, we had a little more flexibility with food and drink. It was so nice and comfortable to be able to use a friend’s house for the shower. Always grateful for hospitable friends and family!

Fall Baby Shower

Sweets Table

Since sweets are always a must, we set them up on a bar in the kitchen and incorporated Fall treats including caramel apple cupcakes and macaroons from the Confectioneiress bakery in Zionsville, Indiana, candy corn and acorn and pumpkin cookies.

Fall baby shower cupcakes cookies

Assorted desserts

pumpkin and acorn cookies

Pumpkin and Acorn cookies

For lunch we served a cheesy vegetable chowder, cheddar and chive scones, guacamole bruschetta and pumpkin dip. We wrote the menu on a chalkboard that could later be used by the mom-to-be for baby stats and photo ops. (Just a wooden frame, chalkboard paper and a washable chalk paint)

chalkboard menu baby shower

Lunch Buffet

And since no party is complete without a favor, we asked guests to take a homemade caramel apple with them when they left.

caramel apple baby shower favor

Caramel Apple Favors

Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went and with the new year came Baby shower #3/3. This past weekend we celebrated the soon-to-arrive Baby Ella. Since Ella’s mom is in her residency and on a very busy schedule, we were fortunate that nearly all of our friends and family could make it up to Chicago for the shower. And fortunate again that a mutual friend of ours offered to host it at her home. While I’m never opposed to a cool venue for a party, there’s something nice and intimate about sharing these events in someone’s home. And a gorgeous one at that.

garden baby shower sweets table

I had a vision of a sort of garden theme with pinks and greens after sending out the invitation and it ended up matching nicely to the french country design of the space. Naturally, it didn’t take much to make the sweets table coordinate as well.

If you’ve not experienced the bakery at Mariano’s, I highly recommend a visit. Since most of our showers thus far were held back home, I didn’t have the chance to use any vendors in the city. A Mariano’s just opened up in my neighborhood and after drooling over browsing their bakery section, I decided I had to try them out for the last shower cake. Oh, that and the fact that this little gem cost me less than $10. That’s right, a custom cake for $10! I’ve spent 5x that much for some pretty “special” cakes in the past. I can still see the look on the baker’s face when I stood there just staring at her after she “priced out” my design. Even better, it tasted amazing. Can you tell I’m a fan? ok I’m done now.

pink and green baby shower cake

Bella Cake

Because my co-host contributed some tasty peanut butter chocolate ganache cupcakes and we had cookies for favors, candy and other sweets, I didn’t want to go overboard on the cake. I do love how they look as a centerpiece however so this was perfect on a number of fronts.

garden baby shower

Wishes for Ella

I stole the wishes idea from my cousin’s shower last summer. We had so much fun with it and I thought it would be a great way to involve the guests without making everyone feel like a child with silly games. We used them at each of the showers this season. It’s something the mom-to-be can take with her and read later and it really shows the personality of each guest. Plus, it’s a fun way to add design details throughout the shower, which I love. I have a template I’d be happy to share if you want to comment on this post, otherwise I found this one through a simple search online.

cucumber sandwiches

Cucumber Sandwiches

Since the shower was in the late afternoon, we stuck with a light menu of cucumber sandwiches, assorted crudites and hummus, fruit and cheese, goat cheese and grape crostini’s and mac n’ cheese bites.

pomegranate punch

Pomegranate Punch

My co-host made a pomegranate punch that was light and refreshing. We served it with ginger ale and just had a bottle of Prosecco on hand for those who wanted a little kick to their punch. I’m not sure the exact recipe she used but I found a similar one from Food and Wine here.

elephant cookie baby shower

‘Ella’phant Cookies

Guests were encouraged to take elephant sugar cookies as a thank you for coming.

And so wraps a successful Baby Season! As we expect the final girl here in a few weeks, I turn my focus back to boys and birthday parties for the next several months. But when the weather cools again, I can foresee a lot more pink as all of these little girlies celebrate turning 1!