Monday, October 25, 2010

85th Birthday Celebration at the Noah Liff Opera Center

In September, I had the pleasure of working with the lovely Allen family on their father's 85 birthday celebration at the Noah Liff Opera Center.  The birthday honoree was so much fun to work with, and he really wanted his guests to have a great time as he celebrated his 85 birthday.  Music was an important element for this family for the evening.

The evening started off with a cocktail hour in the lobby, accompanied by a pianist on a baby grand piano. After the cocktail hour, guests were whisked into the Opera Studio for a concert by a string quartet.  A formal sit-down menu, by Sargeant's Catering, immediately followed.  After the dinner ended, guests were treated to several surprise operatic performances.  After the opera singers received a standing ovation, guests joined in for a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday!  Leland Riggin's Dessert Designs caramel cake was served, along with homemade apple fritter ice-cream.  I can't think of a better way to end an evening!  

 (The picture below is of me and the birthday honoree!  I had to wear my "O" dress since the event was held at the Noah Liff.  If you haven't been there, you will see recurring "O's" throughout the decor.)

Here are some additional photos that Kristen Steele took at the event.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Creative Touches for the Big 4-0

I had the pleasure recently of working with a client on her husband's surprise 40th birthday party.  We chose a downtown Nashville lower-Broadway bar.  She wanted a fun honky tonk for the event.  We brought in Todd's favorite food, including Hog Heaven barbecue and beans, the Park Cafe's truffle mac-and-cheese, and his mother-in-law's famous Bundt cake.  To commemorate his 40th birthday, 40 different custom-designed photo cards were made by LisaMarie designs for the event.  On the front featured a favorite photo of Todd throughout the years, and guests were asked to write a note or funny memory on the back.  All 40 cards were strung on twine throughout the bar.

Custom monogram napkins and "Todd's Toddies" napkins were placed at the bar.

Custom stir sticks were made featuring the rustic wood and a chocolate brown "S" for their last name.

My client, Todd's wife, had  custom gallery wrapped canvases made of pictures of his favorite places.  We lined the walls with these canvases.  

Whether it's the big 4-0 or another monumental birthday, little touches go a long way to make the party special for both the guest of honor and your guests!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Drink Ideas

Halloween is fast approaching, and here are some delightfully scary and yummy Halloween drink ideas.

Ghost and Pumpkin Ice Cubes

Ghost and Pumpkin Ice Cubes Recipe
By Woman's Day Kitchen from Halloween Celebration | November 1, 2009

Recipe Ingredients
·      1 small orange, sliced into 6 thin slices
·      Wilton Black Icing Color

·      Wilton Mini Pumpkin and Ghost Pan
Recipe Preparation
1.     Place one orange slice into each of the three pumpkin-shaped cavities of pan. Fill all 6 ghost and pumpkin cavities with water. Using a toothpick or skewer, stir a small drop of black icing color into each ghost cavity.

  1. Place in freezer until hard, about 1 hour. To unmold, briefly dip the bottom of pan into a larger pan filled with hot water. Unmold ice cubes into a bowl and place bowl in freezer. Repeat to make 12.

            3 ounces tangerine juice
            1 1/2 ounces white rum
            3/4 ounce grenadine
            Ice cubes

Combine juice and rum in a tall glass filled with ice. Top with grenadine. Serve.
This cocktail is beautifully two-toned when first poured; afterwards, the ingredients start to mix together into an intense orange color.

1  46-ounce can  apricot nectar
1  12-ounce can  orange juice concentrate, thawed
2  16-ounce packages  unsweetened sliced peaches, thawed
7  12-ounce cans  lemon lime carbonated beverage, chilled
1. In a food processor bowl or blender container, add one third each of the apricot nectar, orange juice concentrate, and peach slices. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Pour into a freezer container. Repeat with the remaining nectar, orange juice, and peaches. Cover and seal mixture. Freeze until firm.
2. Scrape about 1/2 cup of the mixture into each 10-ounce cup. Add an equal amount of carbonated beverage. Stir to combine. Makes 20 servings.
Note: Wash one-piece plastic toys before adding to slush; remove before drinking.

1  medium  orange
3  cups  whole milk
2/3  cup  vanilla-flavored baking pieces or vanilla-flavored candy coating
1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1  teaspoon  vanilla
    Whipped cream (optional)
    Ground nutmeg (optional)
    Purchased marshmallow ghosts
1. Remove peel of orange with vegetable peeler; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup of the milk, the vanilla-flavored baking pieces, orange peel, and nutmeg; whisk over low heat until baking pieces are melted. Remove orange peel. Whisk in remaining milk and heat through. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
3. Serve warm in mugs. Add a marshmallow ghost, dollop with whipped cream, and sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired. Makes five 6-ounce servings.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's Disco Party Time!

It's Disco Time!  
What better way to celebrate your 9th birthday than with a disco party, complete with a #9 in hot pink balloons, a full candy buffet with personalized Chinese take-out boxes, zebra striped paper cones filled with goodies and a rocking disco ball!
We also converted their garage into a dance hall, complete with black draping across the walls, a DJ and a dance instructor!

Check out these pictures from Kristen Steele Photography:

~Happy Tuesday! Stephanie

Monday, October 11, 2010

A little girl's 2nd Birthday Party-Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice!

I want to apologize since I haven't blogged in a while.  I've been super busy with events these last few weeks and haven't had the time to sit down and write.  I've missed blogging, and promise not to go this long again.  I can't wait to share what I've been up to!

I designed this party for two-year-old Katie.  We held the party at her parent’s home, Front Porch Farms located in Ashland City, Tennessee.
Front Porch Farms is not only Kathy and Brian Best’s family home, but also a wedding and event venue!  

For Katie’s party, I wanted to use soft pastel colors, including pinks, greens and yellows.  In addition, I wanted to create a unique outdoor party by utilizing indoor furniture pieces.  Don’t be afraid to bring indoor pieces outside and use them in your party d├ęcor! 
Custom Cake Designed by Jay Qualls from Maple's Wedding Cakes

Dessert Buffet

Marshmallow pops dipped in pastel chocolates
Large Marshmallows
Wilton Chocolates, (I purchased a brand new product called “Colorburst pastel chocolates”)
Pink cake sprinkles
Lollipop Sticks

Melt the chocolate according to package instructions.  Immediately take a skewered marshmallow and dip in the chocolate.  Gently tap over a bowl to remove the excess.  Allow to stand upright in a block of foam to dry the chocolate-covered marshmallow upside down.  Then, immediately coat with sprinkles.  Tie with a ribbon to finish it off.

Rice Krispy treats shaped in stars on sticks 
Make Rice Krispy treats according to package directions and pour in a jelly roll pan.  Once it’s cooled, cut using assorted cookie cutters.  Put on lollipop sticks.  Tie with a ribbon to finish it off!  These can be done using a variety of shapes and different colors of ribbon.  Kids are great helpers with this recipe as well.  I placed these in various containers filled with pink cotton candy.

Cupcakes with frosting and topped with sprinkles
I cheated this time and used a store bought cake mix.  When you’re doing a dessert buffet, you have several options.  You can bake from scratch, buy a cake mix or purchase from a bakery.  Do whatever your schedule allows!  I dressed up mine with whipped frosting and a simple pink cake sprinkle garnish. 

I also baked half of the batch in ice cream cones filled ¾ths of the way full.  You can place the cones in a muffin pan and they’ll stand upright in the oven.  Use the same baking time as you do for cupcakes and check with a toothpick for doneness.  Frost with icing and top with pink sprinkles.  I displayed these in fun ice cream cone holders. 



Pretzel rods dipped in white chocolate and covered in pink sprinkles
Wilton’s Melting Chocolate
Pretzel Rods
Assorted Toppings, sprinkles, coconut, nonpareils, etc.

Melt chocolate according to package instructions and dip one end of the pretzel rod into the melted chocolate.  Immediately roll in your toppings and place on wax paper to cool and harden.

Raspberry thumbprint cookies-A signature recipe that I'll keep secret!

DIY Projects:
Paper mache letters-I purchased 2 “K”s of different sizes.  I spray-painted each of them with a soft pink spray paint.  On the smaller K, I hot glued green button mums to fill the entire “k.”  On the larger one, I hot glued pink carnations to fill the entire letter.  I hung them using ribbon in coordinating colors.

Drink Tags:

Cardstock or scrapbook paper

I thought drink tags would be a fun addition to this dessert table.  I simply cut a circle using various scrapbook papers.  I then cut a smaller scalloped card, and affixed it to the larger circle with double-sided tape.  I finished it off with a cute sticker and matching pink ribbon.   
Purchase a custom scrapbook puncher in various shapes to keep it easy! 

Vendor Credits:

Heather Sisemore Photography-for these amazing photos.  Visit her on the web at

Lisa Sarmento, a Nashville-based graphic designer, created custom tags for each of the desserts.  She made cupcake toppers, candy jar labels, and the lemonade label.  She also made the custom birthday banner for Katie.
Lisa Sarmento is a nationally-recognized and award-winning creative professional in Nashville. She has a decade of experience as an advertising art director, graphic designer and interactive designer.

Terry White, of the English Garden, designed the 4 floral arrangements on the front porch steps.  

The birthday cake was custom designed by Jay Qualls from Maples Wedding Cakes.  Jay took the two inspiration boards I designed for this party, and developed a custom creation.  Here is some information about Jay, as featured in The Tennessean recently.  Since he opened his shop in 2005, cake designer Jay Qualls has created cakes for the likes of Sara Evans, Jo Dee Messina and Martina McBride. Recently a Qualls-created seven-layer pink fondant wedding cake with hand-piped scroll work also graced the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine's 15th-anniversary issue.  You can find more of his fabulous cake designs and information about his store at

Here’s a little history on Front Porch Farms:
They completed the development of this countryside estate at Front Porch Farms and opened it as a Nashville wedding venue in 2007. Kathy has also been a publicist in the country music industry for over 16 years.  She moved to Nashville in 1993 and started her artist management company, FrontPage Publicity, in 1997.  Kathy has been the publicist and manager for some of country music’s biggest superstars, including the Dixie Chicks, The Judds, Taylor Swift, Brooks & Dunn, Dierks Bentley, and many others.  Currently, Kathy represents George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Rodney Atkins, Patty Loveless, Joey + Rory, and Stealing Angels.
Brian is the landscape artist and estate developer at Front Porch Farms.  He was in charge of designing and constructing the 3-story main house, as well as other facilities on the estate.  Brian is also a proud Nashville firefighter, continuing a rich family legacy of firefighting.
-I hope you enjoyed reading about this party, as much as I enjoyed planning all the details.  
~Stephanie Alexander