Sunday, November 25, 2012

A little pumpkin is on the way!

While Chris, Oscar, and I were in Baltimore for the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom and I hosted a surprise baby shower for Bill and Casie (my brother and sister-in-law). The shower was six months in the making. In fact, I started planning it the day after Bill and Casie told me they were expecting. 

First, I honed in on the date. Thanksgiving weekend seemed like a good idea because we'd already be in town, so Casie might not be too suspicious (she was anyhow, LOL!). Second, once their pregnancy was more widely known among the family, I collaborated with my Aunt Nancy to use Meadow Mill Athletic Club's yoga studio as the venue (that's where my bridal shower was held). 

Next, I worked on a theme. With a date in November, I started Googled "fall baby shower" and the results suggested the idea of "little pumpkin." Next, I turned to Pinterest and found lots of ideas for a shower with the theme "a little pumpkin is on the way." With that, my theme was born and I started planning the decorations, designing the invitations, and developing the menu.

Knowing that folks would likely be tired of turkey two days removed from Thanksgiving, I opted for a "comfort foods" menu, including chili with cornbread, stuffed pepper soup, veggies and dip, chips and salsa, and pickles and olives. (Pickles and olives are an homage to my grandmother, Mimi, who always served them, regardless of the occasion. Now, I always serve them at my soirees.) For beverages, I decided to serve iced tea, bottled water, and an apple orchard punch.

For the cake, I turned to my high school classmate, Stacey. Over the summer, she posted a picture on Facebook of a beautiful birthday cake she'd made for her daughter's birthday. Having found "little pumpkin" baby shower cake pictures on Pinterest, I asked Stacey if a) she'd be interested in making the cake for the baby shower, and b) if she could recreate the cake in the pictures I'd found. She said she'd be able to make the cake and we agreed to touch base closer to the shower to work out all of the details. Within the last month, we decided on a vanilla cake with strawberry filling (dyed orange to match the outside design) for 35 people. 

I conspired with my Aunt Nancy and my brother (to attempt to) deceive Casie into thinking she and Bill were coming to Meadow Mill for a "Healthy Mommy/Healthy Baby" Wellness Fair while leading her to believe that the shower was next weekend by telling her I was coming to Baltimore next weekend for my aunt's annual Christmas Parade Party. Turns out it kinda sorta worked, but not really! Casie was pretty dolled up for a "wellness fair" so I think she knew, LOL!

This shower was an "our family/Casie's friends" shower...but of course we invited Casie's mom and sisters, too! Carrie brought her two daughters, Edie and Adeline; Katie brought her daughter, Callie. As soon as Casie and Bill arrived, Callie and Edie made a beeline for Aunt Casie and Uncle B. It was adorable!

Casie spent some time mingling with her guests and grabbing a bite to eat before opening her presents - her many, many presents!

At last, it was time to open presents! At the shower hosted by Casie's mom and sisters three weeks ago, I was VERY surprised that Casie did not receive a single Ravens or Orioles item for the baby. That was very quickly remedied at this shower. There were several Ravens branded or themed gifts.

There were several notable gifts among the many wonderful ones that Casie received. Casie's friend Dana gave her a recordable story book from Hallmark and included a song to the baby at the end of the story. Casie's sister Carrie gave her an adorable onesie - that she's apparently had well before Casie got pregnant - that says, "Raised by Wolves" (how apropos!). My Aunt Kathleen presented her gifts to Casie on a clothesline. My Aunt Nancy did a beach/summer-themed gift including a cabana for baby naps on the beach. One of my mom's presents was "Baby's First Mallet" - a mini mallet for steamed crabs! Among the gifts I gave Casie, and in keeping with the "little pumpkin" theme, I got the baby a book ("I Love You, Little Pumpkin") and had a friend of mine knit a pumpkin hat for the baby.

At the Webb family shower three weeks ago, when I got home and uploaded my pictures, I noticed that Casie made a variety of faces when opening and reacting to her presents. I called my photo album for that shower, "A Shower of Facial Expressions." Proving it was not an isolated incident, Casie once again had some great faces when opening or showing off her gifts.

The shower was a huge success! Casie and Bill received so many wonderful presents for their little Wolf Cub ("Cubbie") and were showered with well-wishes and love from many of our family members and their friends. Special thanks to Aunt Nancy for arranging for us to use the space at Meadow Mill; to Bill for helping me with the guest list and the cover story; to my mom for her help with the food and supplies (yay for her Costco membership!); and to my parents, Aunt Nancy, and especially Chris for their help loading, unloading, and loading again all of the food and decorations, for helping me set-up and decorate, and for tolerating the "pre-party bitch mode" I sink into every time (it's a symptom of being a control freak!). 

Now? We wait.

P.S. For those folks who wanted recipes from the shower, here you go!

Beth's Spicy Enough Chili (adapted from Pat's Famous Beef & Pork Chili)

  • 12 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 cup beer (recommended: Budweiser)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans Ro*Tel Original diced tomatoes, with juice

  • Directions
  • In large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly crisp, stirring occasionally. Once the bacon is browned, add the garlic, onion, bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chili powder, oregano, and smoked paprika. Cook until the vegetables are tender and seasonings are aromatic. Add the beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Once beef is broken up and beginning to brown, add the pork sausage. Break up with wooden spoon like the beef, and brown, until no longer pink, roughly 4 minutes. Stir in the beer and beans. Toss together, then add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer the chili to serving bowls. Optional garnishes include lime wedges, sour cream, shredded cheese, and sliced scallions.

Beth's Stuffed Pepper Soup (adapted from Taste of Home's recipe)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound pork sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart beef stock*
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups cooked long grain rice
2 green peppers, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon each oregano, basil, and Italian seasoning

In a Dutch oven, cook beef, pork, onions, and garlic over medium heat until meats are no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until peppers are tender.

*Additional stock may be added, depending on desired thickness of soup.

No comments:

Post a Comment