To be totally honest, I wasn’t planning on writing this post tonight, but since I just spent the last 15 minutes driving my car through our horse pasture trying to find my horse, whom I had laid in bed and conspired in my nearly asleep mind to be laying half alive waiting for me to save him, (it would probably help to mention that he is currently on the mend), only to discover that he was tucked safely in a corner munching on some greens, which meant that I didn’t have to get out of my warm bed and robe up to go on a search for a horse that was completely fine. So, I decided-what the heck, I might as well stay up past my bedtime while my unborn child hiccups incessantly. I think it helps sometimes to be honest with your readers so that they can fully understand the author that they envision in their mind. I hope that I live up to your standards. Crazy notions and all….
I promised that I would share the adorable details that made up one sassy little girl’s second birthday, so, as promised, here is Hattie’s party, in an nutshell (well, maybe not a nutshell, since that would insinuate that I will abridge the party details using a couple clever photos and a well thought out, less wordy post than you are about to experience….and we all know that ain’t happenin’). So hold onto your seats friends, because this will be a very unique kind of nutshell. In other words, a really massive nutshell.
I had this great idea (or so I thought) that since Hattie’s favorite food is “wice n gabey” or rice and gravy, depending on your language skills, and she loves to be outside, preferably barefoot, getting as dirty as possible, pointing out bugs and “addigators” or alligators, which are actually not alligators-but lizards… we could throw her a Cajun Sweetheart themed party to celebrate her unique affection for the Southwest Louisiana way. It turned out pretty adorable in my opinion, and was very much “Hattie” indeed.
We set up adult picnic tables, and kid picnic tables, all decorated with burlap and red and white gingham to show off that simple kind of picnic look that we were going for. I bought both fabrics at Wal-Mart, but burlap is an extremely versatile-and somewhat inexpensive material to have lying in your party arsenal-you can use it for ANYTHING-so just consider it an investment! The kid picnic tables were the ones mentioned in my summer favorites post back in June, and were kind of crazy cool for the little ones, they felt so “grown up” at their own tables. We had Louisiana Hot Sauce, and salt and pepper shakers on each table for the guests to use, plus it added a little more local spice to the decor.
We Honey and LeighLeigh wrapped strips of burlap and small red and white gingham ribbon around quart sized mason jars and filled the bottoms with unripe kumquats from my father-in-law’s tree, since they were a darling chartreuse color. I added wildflowers to these jars and the kumquats helped to hold the flowers steady. If I went into detail about how I acquired these darling wild yellow daisies, you might fall out of your chair, but lets just leave it at a pair of scissors, a pitcher, on the side of a very busy highway. I did put my hazard lights on though, just in case you were concerned. I found a large patch growing around our pond the week after the party though, go figure.
I made bunting out of the gingham and burlap fabrics to hang behind the drink table, as well as on the food table. I never made fabric bunting before, but it was so easy, and adorable. I’ll definitely be doing it again soon. Well, FeFe, AKA Jessica, AKA my little brother’s girlfriend may have cut all of the triangles out for me, so I might be singing a different tune when I have to do it myself. Thankfully, she had a powerful pair of fabric scissors at her disposal :). Are inside jokes appropriate on a blog? I hope so.
I used a bunting template to cut the triangles, and then sewed them on a small strip of gingham ribbon, just running them tip to tip through my sewing machine. Easy as pie. Unless you don’t know how to use a sewing machine. I’m sure hot glue would work just as well. I added the words “DIG IN” using red paint and 3″ letter stencils that I bought at Wal-Mart to one of the buntings to hang on the food table. So cute.
I printed 5X7 sized photos of Hattie from each month of her second year of life, and backed them on brown kraft paper (I found some 8.5×11 printer sized sheets in a pack next to the Avery lables at Wal-Mart that worked perfect) I then printed out corresponding 5×7 cards onto white cardstock that labeled which month was which. I used a gingham background that I bought from Vectorstock, and also my newest favorite font, Pea Ellie Bellie. I hung them using tiny clothes pins on a string of hemp. (You can find both of these things at Wal Mart in the crafting aisles). I loved this, and it was a great way to celebrate every moment of Hattie’s second year. It was hung above the food table, so as everyone filled their plates, they could “ooh and ahh” over little miss thang.
To keep our Cajun theme going, we had to incorporate a little French, so Jessica and I free-handed the letters to deux (which means two in French), using 4 sheets of poster board (one letter per sheet) and cut them out using decorative scissors, which is a great way to camouflage any crooked lines or discrepancies in your letters! We spray painted them red and hung them above the picture banner.
We wanted to keep our menu very focused on Louisiana cuisine, so we chose dishes native to our area, using ingredients from our state as well. Ben cooked a heaping pot of pork as the meat for Hattie’s requested “wice n gabey”, while I cooked up a big ole’ pot of Cajun Country Jasmine Rice. Honey’s parents, Nanny and Pop, fried up a batch of okra, fresh from their garden, while my Dad, Popa, cooked his signature corn. My mom made a helping of crawfish dip (using Louisiana crawfish, of course) with chips, and Honey made some fig cupcakes using figs from Paw’s fig tree. We also included Hattie’s favorite finger foods on the menu, cubed cheese, a selection of fruit, and popcorn! The last three items were served in individual serving sized cups/containers, so that the kids could just grab it and go, rather than scoop it from a big bowl onto a plate. This was literally the best thing EVER, and the kids loved serving themselves, plus they could get back to whatever fun they were having before without a plate and fork lugging them down. I made food labels, using my same gingham Vectorstock background, and typed out the dish’s name, followed by Hattie’s pronunciation of the dish. This was also such a unique little detail that made the party so reflective of our little princess.
I ordered these wooden forks for the party, and had them wrapped in napkins with red twine for easy grabbing, I thought they matched the decor perfectly, and the kids loved them! A few guest found the idea of wooden spoons to be about as appealing as nails on a chalkboard-which I can totally understand, so it may be better to have some regular old plastic ones on hand if you would ever decide to use these for a get together! For those of you that care though, they’re totally eco-friendly!
For the drinks, we offered citrus infused water, sweet tea, and Abita Root Beer, brewed in Louisiana, in bottles. We served the drinks in mason jars with paper straws, obviously, since that is Hattie and I’s fav. I picked up the straws in the dollar section of Michael’s (which is where I usually get our stock of paper straws at for our house) and scrounged up the mason jars from me, my mom, Honey, and Mimi (Paw’s mom). Are you learning the family tree yet? I picked up a couple packs of red paper cups from the Dollar Tree too, so that the mamas and papas didn’t have to fuss over their little ones carrying glass.
I used Hattie’s Radio Flyer wagon filled with ice to serve the Root Beer. The kiddos loved the root beer bottles! It took them a second to realize it wasn’t beer, but once they did, they tore into them. I’ll be honest and say that I caught a few of them acting as if it was truly beer, but that was part of how funny it made the whole concept. They felt so mature with their glass bottles, and funny thing, not one of them was broken in the fun of the day-kudos to the kids.
Mason Jar Dispenser found here.
White porcelain pitcher found here.
Wagon found here.
Where did all of those empty mason jars go, you ask? This nifty wheelbarrow. Lined with burlap-the most versatile fabric. That’s Cajun, right? I wanted so bad to write, “Empty Glass“, but I wasn’t sure if anyone would understand the pun. I went ahead and used the plural form, just so that everyone didn’t think my grammar was slipping. Gary Stewart, anyone?
The kids played with chalk, bubbles, and play-dough while the adults mingled, and thankfully, these are staples that we keep in the shop in little totes for Miss Priss to play with while we work, so all we had to do was pull them off of the shelves! We had a small trailer filled with hay hitched to the back of the Ranger, and every twenty minutes or so, one of the men would take the kids on a “hay ride” around the farm. The kids loved this, and I’m pretty sure Hattie went on every single ride. I’m pretty sure her feet never touched the ground either, those little mother hens love hugging on her! She adores them though, so it’s a mutual affection!
I think the adults had a good time conversing and enjoying the yummy food while the kiddos played, it was definitely the laid back kind of party that I envisioned, thanks to a whole lot of help from our family!
For Hattie’s cake, I decided to make a hummingbird cake, which is a very traditional southern cake, that focuses on bananas and pecans with a cream cheese icing. Yum! I made it all from scratch, using a recipe that I adapted from my cooking bible, otherwise known as Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux?. I bought a wooden number 2 in the craft section at Wal Mart, painted it red, had Paw hot glue it to a little dowel rod for me, and used this as a simple topper.
We had practiced blowing out candles for well over a month, just to make sure the birthday girl didn’t slip up and have to ask for assistance, and we were used to her asking for and signing “more” after her flame went out, so my mom suggested that I buy some trick candles. This was pretty much hilarious to watch. She was mesmerized at the returning flame, and even raised her arms, exasperated after a few attempts at blowing them out. She started to employ help from the crowd after a few blows, hoping to solve the problem. I think all of the kids got a good laugh from her little “Happy Birthday” show.
Yes, I am wearing overalls.
Granny Ida did a glorious job of cutting the cake using a cake knife that our good friends, The Trahans, bought her for her baptism. It is gorgeous, and it is engraved with her name and baptism date, and is to be used for all of her special events throughout her life until her wedding day, when that date will be added to the knife, along with the name of her beau, signifying the joining of their hearts in Christ. I LOVE gifts like this, and am quick to share the idea with others, because there’s no greater gift than a treasured heirloom.
We attempted to open presents after cake, but there were a lot of presents! and Hattie wanted to play with/wear each and every one of them, which made the process adorable, yet time consuming! She also got sidetracked by all of the kiddos playing with her toys, riding her mini four wheeler/scooter/whatever else she has with wheels on it (we have an armada of riding toys…) so we had to rush through the majority of the gifts just to maintain the girl’s sanity. She got a heaping dose of way too great gifts from all of her family and friends, and she enjoyed playing with them all at her own pace that night, and the following days. Her expressions were priceless, and she gave a million “thank you’s” to every bag, kid, and bug she encountered. I think my favorite moment had to be when she opened her Hornet cheer costume from my parents, and exclaimed “Finger’s Up!” without even being prompted! (It’s supposed to be stingers up, since they are the Hornets, and is a new mantra that the principal incorporated this year-just in case you were like, “What the heck…?”.
When the guests left, we sent them home with favors of petite canned figs, lovingly canned by Honey, fresh from Paw’s tree, and strawberry suckers, made by my sweet Aunt Bec. Edible favors are the best kind! (No toys to toss later when your kids aren’t looking! Don’t pretend like you don’t do that…)
We partied hard, and when most everyone had left, took a moment to let some balloons go up to heaven, and actually sit down to eat some food! I missed out on the cake, so I snagged an abandoned scrap off of the table so that I could judge my hummingbird cake baking abilities. Before you cringe, it was totally my mother in law’s, so that’s acceptable, right? I probably shouldn’t blog this late again…my delirium is showing.
Hattie LOVED her big day, she even wore a dress that my mom had saved from when I was a little tot for the occasion. She was in excellent spirits all afternoon-I don’t remember hearing her cry out, even once! She was fed popcorn by her friends, and took ride after ride around the farm. She had the best chalking friends that any two year old could ask for, and squished more play-dough onto the shop floor than her Dad and Paw could have ever imagined hehe. She definitely savored the sound of everyone singing in unison to her, and delighted in her abundance of gifts. I definitely believe that toddlers have the ability to feel blessings, and she was enveloped in them that day. She told us “thank you” before bed that night, which was her way of communicating that she was aware of the fact that we had initiated that special day just for her. I love this age, and understanding that everything she says has meaning-and that her nimble mind works to a much more tuned beat than we sometimes imagine. She feels every ounce of her emotions, and she portrays them so well-luckily, the majority of those emotions are wonderful, and well balanced for someone her age. It fills my heart to see her so happy and loved by so many people! We couldn’t have pulled her party off without such a loving and attentive family, and we are so thankful for them all!
I hope that ya’ll felt included in Hattie’s celebration through these descriptions and photographs, because sha’, friends and family are beautiful flowers in the garden of life-the kind that you don’t have to pick on the side of the road 😉