Ali took a break in the gift opening to go around the room and talk about how she met each and every one of us. This little gesture is a snapshot into how much she cherishes all of the women who came together this past Sunday to celebrate the upcoming birth of baby boy TBD.
Seventeen of us "cozily" settled into Chateau Gahan (and I use the quotes here with a smile; my humble little home is indeed little, and while not ideal for entertaining size-wise, is — if I must say so myself — the perfect space to make people feel welcome, hugged and comfortable). A banquet table, squeezed into my living room, filled right away with chatting, happy women eager to paint alphabet blocks for the little man. Wine flowed. Food devoured. Cake finally eaten, its loveliness an obvious delay in putting knife to fondant. And Ali soaked it all in, each detail oohed and aahed over, every face kissed and welcomed in with her gracious smile and full-moon baby belly.
Gifts stayed true to her soothing, organic, neutral-toned color palette. And with such a creative posse of friends, there were handmade and painstakingly chosen gifts in abundance. This made for lots of happy tears for the mom-to-be, and a box of Kleenex made its way around the room several times.
Here, below, are the details of the day. Can I just gush about what a fun shower this was to do!?!?! With Ali and Matt living in Serenbe, the talk has been that little boy TBD will live quite the Mayberry life. This served as the inspiration for the shower theme. I gravitated toward Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, but didn't want to be so literal, so I brainstormed all the things that little boys do, collect and play with, and took my thinking back in time to when boyhood was more simple and innocent — Little Rascals, Opie, and Dennis the Menace. Lordy, the ideas started flying!
Months ago, I started amassing jars of all shapes and sizes, painting all the lids gold for some continuity. And then I curated collections — coins, feathers, rocks, shells, marbles, bugs, locks and keys, acorns, bugs, dice and paper tickets, plastic toy animals. With each jar I put together, I saw a boy's face staring in with wonder and imagination. A shelf I found dumpster diving became the perfect place to showcase all the jars. I added a Jughead comic book, a roll of caps, Matchbox car, paper airplanes, Cracker Jack box, baseball and glove, horseshoe, pocket knife, matchbox with old stamps, sparklers and pop-its. I even made a turtle pond from a clear plastic bowl complete with a ceramic turtle and palm tree island. Found two cigar boxes at Goodwill and redid their plain, modern lids with vintage cigar boxtop images of Indians. Filled one of the boxes with baseball cards, plastic army men, arrowheads and random pieces of rusted metal.
On the buffet, I served Ali's favorite white chili out of a soup tureen and Maggiano's Little Italy Salad (recipe here; a real keeper) in an aluminum lasagna pan which I nestled down into an old drawer. I laundered a piece of burlap and made a simple runner. For napkins, I bought cotton bandanas at Walmart, laundered them a couple of times to fade and soften them, and then wrapped my fave plastic silverware inside, secured with a napkin ring made from Archie comic books. I cut strips, glued them onto a light card stock, punched a hole in each end and then fastened them using round-head paper fasteners (remember putting many a book report together using these!). The second image below (right) shows the back of the napkin ring.
My new hutch in the ken was used for beverages. The sixteen blue Ball jars I bought recently (and have loved despite my apologetic post about buying something cliched) were used for drink glasses. And since the cabinet door was propped open to get to the glasses, I took advantage of a flat, vertical surface to post an Instagram hashtag sign (draped the door with a piece of burlap since the backside of the panes are unpainted and not very attractive). The sign is hung using a magnetized hook (if you don't have a set of these, they're wonderful!).
During one of my many evenings up late and glassy-eyed scrolling through Pinterest, I saw these prize capsules and just knew I could find a place for them at this shower. They became little gifts for the guests. Spray-painted the lids gold (to tie them visually to the collection jar lids) and filled each with a gum ball and two friendship bracelets. Harleigh offered to make the bracelets, and the guests appreciated another nod to hand-crafted and heartfelt. The prize capsules were put into an old cookie jar with a sign to please "take a little prize for yourself!" (The ribbon used on the sign here is also used for the door wreath hanger several images below.)
The coffee table featured another vignette, this one on a miniature wooden palette-type piece (found on earlier mentioned dumpster dive; and I did clean all these finds with Murphy's Wood Soap!). I used a piece of burlap and a small hay bale. The weathered lantern was the only candle I used (it just had to be lit despite the daylight!). The toy truck was the same one used at Ali's wedding; it was at the kids' table and carried a flowering plant in its bed. Here it hauled spicy pecans. In the clear glass cylinder vase I poured a base of small pebbles, then added two arrows I made from twigs — painted stripes, fashioned the arrows using arrowheads tied on with jute, and created the fletching out of canvas, leather pieces and felt cut to look like feathers. The slingshot is an etsy purchase and the wool-blanket-fronted canteen a thrift store find. The palette was also home to a beautiful veggie platter.
I used the drop-leaf table in my library as the gift table and accented it with blue linen runner and a white pitcher filled with wheat.
When gals RSVPd to the shower, they were asked to send along some sentiments for baby TBD. I captured these in an old composition book, penned in my own hand using a fountain pen. And in the back of the book, the gifts were documented as they were opened, also using a fountain pen :-)
Also in the library, on my pink shabby chic dresser, we featured the cake. Brooke, a guest at the shower, volunteered to make the dessert, and she outdid herself. It couldn't have been more perfect for the theme! Just look at her darling presentation!!!!! And it tasted delicious (she even did the top layer gluten free for Ali!). I've done a tree with a swing for a previous shower, and loved it so much that I did it again, but instead used a tire for the swing. Found a car at Goodwill, one whose tires came off, and with a bit of cutting, gluing and painting (had to rebuild one side of the tire to match the other) had the perfect swing any little boy would love!
My mailbox is naked, and so I foraged the grassy areas around my office and picked all these beautiful grasses. Tied on with some jute twine, it now screams Autumn. On the front porch I used hay bales and added some items to give a hint to all the boyhood goodies inside. A turtle . . . is he not the cutest??? (A Hobby Lobby clearance find). I made a fishing pole from a large twig. Tied fishing line on it, added a bobber, printed out a fish, and even used a real hook in the fish's mouth. The white tin is an old lunch pail; I added on a printed-out vintage bait can label. Purchased the corn stalks online and put them into a tall barnwood vase. Found the galvanized bucket at Walmart for cheap; Harleigh and I did some roadside flower cutting to make a natural arrangement. And for the pumpkins I already had, I added little bows on the stems, extra fabric Ali's mom sent me from the nursery fabrics that she used to make a quilt.
For the front door "wreath," I bought a huge embroidery hope, glued on dark-wood-stained mini clothespins and printed/cut out a bunch of vintage images of little boys. The hanger for the wreath is made using a vintage printed ribbon and the buckle from a pair of boy's overalls.
Once inside the house, you look up to see a kite. I made the frame out of two cardboard dowels tied together with jute. The kite itself is vellum paper. For the tail, I ripped a piece of white muslin, then used the nursery fabrics to make the pretty ties.
Nametags are nice to do if the guest list includes women from different circles who may not know each other. Such was the case with this eclectic group. Since Ali's mom (Ninny to all) has an embroidery machine and had offered up her creative talents, I came up the idea to use small 3" embroidery hoops for the tags (taking a hint from the hoop on the front door). Ninny mailed me the fabric inserts with the embroidered names, I popped them into the frames, glued pin backs onto the back side, and the result was these darling nametags that double as a sweet keepsake for each attendee.
My gift to Ali was a framed page from The Velveteen Rabbit (didn't get a picture, dang). The quote was also read at her wedding. I wrapped the box in vintage wrapping paper. I had also wanted to include in the gift a hand-crafted clothes hanger made of wood. Planned on finding a stick and making the hanging part out of wire. So one day at work, on a lunch break, off I went to find a stick, and lo and behold this is what I found. A stick with a tiny branch shaped like the hanging part. I just reinforced the tiny branch with a wire so it will support hanging a piece of clothing. I think God wanted me to concentrate on other projects for the shower, so he put this in my path.
The hostess gift from Ali and her mom . . . what a story! So Ninny hands me a large vintage suitcase (a gift enough as far as I'm concerned!), and as I open it to find rows of vintage sewing patterns, she tells me this story. She had been at an estate sale the week before and seen this treasure. She continued looking around, and when she came back to pick it up to buy, it was gone. She asked the homeowner of the sale if she knew who bought the lot, and the woman did and knew where she lived. Ninny calls Ali to tell her she had found the perfect gift for me and how it had slipped through her fingers. Ali said, "you must go and get that suitcase." And so Ninny tracked the woman down, told her why she needed it and that she'd buy it from her. The woman told her to go ahead and take it; she had planned on using all the patterns for packing material. Yes, packing material. Ninny SO gets me, and knows that I will put these gems to good use! Love love love this!!!!
Pictures to come soon of all the blocks we painted for baby TBD!