Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bookworm Baby Shower

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but I have not been slacking on DIY projects. Quite the opposite! For the last few weeks I have been obsessively planning a baby shower for my brilliant and talented author friend (and karaoke club co-president) and I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. But the shower was Sunday so now I can share with you my fun menu and projects. As usual, I forgot to take pictures, but hopefully I’ll get some from the mother- and grandmother-to-be. For now, forgive the poor presentation and half-eaten dishes - at least you know they weren’t inedible!

It was my first time planning a shower, so I went to my trusty and knowledgeable friend, Google, for inspiration. I knew I wanted to do a children’s book theme, since the mom-to-be is a children’s author herself (or is “youth author” the more appropriate term? “age-challenged thought provoker”?) A lot of my inspiration came from Martha Stewart but there were also other great blogs by designers, moms, and crafty DIYers showing off their shower skills. So here’s my contribution to the blogosphere. 

The set-up

The Menu:

For my Bookworm Baby Shower menu, I first thought of some of my favorite books, then “pun-ny” dishes to go with them. (I’m a huge dork). Everything was pretty easy to make (deceptively so) and looked good on a platter (when I had one). There actually wasn’t much cooking involved, and it was low maintenance during the party which made it the perfect party menu. I also tried to keep it relatively healthy...unless you count the NINE different types of cheese used.

Stinky Cheese Man Cheese Platter

Peter Rabbit’s Garden Crudite and Dips
The veggies were arranged in a garden bucket I picked up at the Christmas Tree Shop - my old favorite store from the Cape, now all over "the mainland". I put a plate on top of a coffee can inside so that you didn't have to dig around in the bucket to get at the veggies. I adapted these recipes for the Ranch Dip (used just dill and added more sour cream) and the dairy-free Edamame Dip (used cilantro instead of basil). The carrots are from my farm share! I left a little bit of the tops on the carrots and radishes so it looks like they just came from the garden - just the way Peter Rabbit would like them.

The Giving Brie
Who knew something as delicious as baked brie was so easy to make! I took a wheel of brie, sprinkled some brown sugar and cinnamon on it, and wrapped it up in some pastry dough. Popped it in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, et voila! The Giving Brie! served with green apples. (Awesome name credit goes to Cara).

Goldi-lox Bites 
I made up this recipe, but I don't think it's anything groundbreaking or original - cucumber rounds topped with creme fraiche, a little smoked salmon, and some capers.

Greens, Eggs, and Ham Strata and Vegetarian Green, Eggs, No Ham Strata

Strata is like a savory bread pudding, perfect for brunch parties because you can make it the night before and just put in the oven right before guests come. It's cheezy, eggy, and satisfying. I adapted the recipe from here, although you can really make it with any veggies and meat you have on hand. I made mine with collard greens from my farm share and really good thick-cut bacon. The veggie version used swiss chard and a farm share summer squash. And the secret to the deliciosity? I used 4 kinds of cheese! Shredded swiss-gruyere combo, grated parmesan and grated pecorino romano. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Tea Sandwiches 
Yes. Those are sandwiches arranged in the shape of a caterpillar. He has a tomato head, blueberry eyes, and cucumber mouth. The tea sandwiches are traditional cucumber and curry chicken salad. I learned the secret to cuke sandwiches is to butter both sides of the bread to protect them from getting soggy. Then I added a layer of whipped cream cheese mixed with dill, then very thinly sliced cukes. Also, before you assemble the sandwiches, you should lightly salt the cukes and let sit for 30 minutes, then pat off the water. This leaches out the water so your sammiches don't get too soggy. 

The curried chicken sandwiches were courtesy of Ms. Stewart. I had never poached chicken before and it came out tender and juicy. I added a bit more curry and turmeric to make it really yellow.

I used Pepperidge Farm "Very Thin" Sandwich Bread. Perfect for tea sandwiches! It comes in white and wheat.

Blueberries for Sal-ad

I loved this book as a kid, but apparently no one else knows it unless they grew up in New England (it takes place in Maine). Anyway, it made for a lovely salad - mixed greens, real Maine blueberries, feta cheese (because the mommy is Greek!), and a simple vinaigrette made with fancy ingredients I have on hand and never use (because I hate salad) - white balsamic vinegar, grapeseed oil, whole seed mustard, a touch of honey, and salt and pepper.

Goodnight Moon Pies
Yum yum yummmmyyyyy! These were delicious and easy to bake, although sadly people were so full from the other stuff they didn't have much room for dessert. There is some internet debate about what a moon pie actually is. Southerners say it is a specific brand of cookie from the south, with graham cracker cookies, marshmallow filling, and covered in chocolate. Others use "moon pie" interchangeably with "whoopie pies", which are cakier, creme filled, sandwiched desserts from New England. Or maybe Amish country. But whatever. They're awesome. I used this recipe from Gourmet, but there is also a whole cookbook with recipes for different flavored cakes and frostings, including a salted caramel cream. Droooollllll.

And don't you love that cake stand?

Winnie the Pooh’s Greek Honey Delights

I can't take credit for these beauties - homemade baklava from Eleni's mom (a.k.a. Yia Yia). The whole reason I agreed to do this shower was to have some of these! Nostimo!

Zuckerman's Farm Fruit salad
Fruit salad...in the shape of a bassinet. Very cute, and solved the problem of not having enough serving dishes! Instructions for carving the watermelon can be found here (very easy, btw!)

James & the Giant Peach Cocktails
Mom-osas (non-alcoholic mimosas)
Whipped up a batch of bellinis (white peach puree and prosecco) and non-alcoholic "mom-osas" - orange juice with sparkling cidar. Good deal note: I got the Ikea glasses 6 for $4.99, as opposed to buying a bag of plastic ones from iParty for $25!

One thing I did realize hosting this party – I need to invest in some serving utensils. We were serving cake with rice paddles and scooping strata with an ice cream scooper. This is one of the problems of single homeownership – you don’t get to register for all the servingware you need to throw a fabulous party like Martha Stewart.

The Décor:

The main piece of décor was a banner I made (inspired by Kojo Designs’ blog http://kojodesigns.blogspot.com/2010/10/storybook-baby-shower.html). Before the shower, I asked all the guests to submit their favorite children’s book. I then downloaded and printed out the book covers, glued them to colorful card stock, and sewed them to a blue satin ribbon. I was happy to find that my mom’s sewing machine still works (albeit a bit dusty) and the seam is sturdy enough that Eleni can use the banner in her nursery. During the party, we also had Eleni guess who picked which book – I think she got most of them right!
Banner in Progress
Brightening up my bare walls!
I picked up some flowers at Trader Joe’s on a whim and made my first flower arrangements. I think they came out pretty nicely!

Eleni’s friend Tiffany (and my co-bridesmaid at her wedding) came early to help set up. She also brought onesies and fabric markers for the guests to draw on for personalized onesies. Some of them came out very artfully! Of course, I don’t have pictures of the finished products, but they look cute hanging from the mantel.

We also played a Greek name game, where you had to match the Greek name with its proper definition. However I did not include my favorite name that I came across during my research: “Ptoophagos”, meaning “glutton of Poon (in Boetia)”. Watch out future Baby Boy Do-Clooney. That could be your name!

Party Favors

I got to indulge my new chalkboard paint obsession with the party favors. I picked up these mugs at the Christmas Tree Shop for only $0.89, and with the help of some friends, painted a strip for writing people's names on. I filled the mugs with a bookworm bookmark, some gummy worms, chocolate, and tea bags. Cheap and cheerful!

Thank Yous

Despite the title of this blog, I didn't do this all by myself. I have to thank my friends who helped me cook, clean, and decorate the place for the party. And of course, I have to thank Eleni and John for having this baby and letting me throw him a shower!


  1. I just relived the whole shower reading this blog post. You should throw parties professionally; everything had such a personal touch. And I missed your last post -- I had no idea you made the moon pie cake stand! It was overwhelming to be the beneficiary of all this hard work. Thank you, Mimi! XO, Eleni

  2. This is truly amazing. I am so sad I couldn't be there, but overjoyed for those who got to participate! Mimi, you are gifted.

  3. Hi Cute Blog!! Curious, how much was the bucket from Xmass tree shop!?!? I need it for a bridal shower! :) I got excited when i saw that. haha.

  4. Hi Alex. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I think the bucket was $9.99. It was in the gardening section. Have a great bridal shower!

  5. All the stuffs are very well created.I like caterpillar sandwich most.All pics are amazing.

  6. Any tips on the mug painting?? I'm totally stealing your favor idea for my friend's book shower because it is SO cute! Did you use a special chalkboard paint or just the normal stuff? The shower looked great! :)