Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hot-Air-Balloon Couples Shower for an Adoption

Two of my friends Jenn and Jason announced in April of this year that they were well underway in the adoption journey (Jenn and I worked together from 1996 up to a few years ago, and I did their couples wedding shower and their wedding reception). And it was in June that a preemie baby boy was born, and Jenn and Jason headed to New Jersey where they would become parents to sweet baby Trace! With only a few weeks before the family of three would be heading home, the girlfriend contingency kicked in to plan a baby shower. The three hostesses are Jenn's best friend Amanda, and two of Jenn's personal fitness training clients Lee Ann and her sister Dawn. Lee Ann just happens to be one of my event planning clients (she hired me to do the nautical baby shower for her daughter). She called and asked if I would do a couples baby shower for Jenn and Jason. There was nothing that could get in the way of me doing this, not only because Lee Ann and I work so well together, but to do this for Jenn and Jason would mean the world to me.

Jenn gave us her nursery mood board which consists of items she had already purchased or had from her childhood. Her favorite item is the red and white striped hot air balloon that hangs from the nursery ceiling. The papier mache Raggedy Ann and Andy in the upper right are from the nursery when she was a baby. Her mother, who passed away in 1996, made wonderful jewelry and was a phenomenal painter and artisan. She had a line of jewelry using puzzle pieces; Jenn took all the puzzle earrings and broaches and crafted a frame for the baby's room.
For the design presentation I made to Lee Ann, Amanda and Dawn, I used the hot air balloon as the main theme, with nods to the other items in the nursery (Raggedy Ann and Andy, organic woven baskets, the puzzle pieces, and one of her fabrics — a happy lattice work / chain link of yellow and white).

I knew I wanted those giant 36" balloons to craft into hot air balloons, but didn't want to have to deal with what I knew would be a fairly involved process of renting a helium tank, blowing the doggone things up to 36", then netting them and attaching them to baskets. Instead I found a vendor who could handle the whole shebang. Cindy with Bloomin' Balloons in Alpharetta took care of everything. She arrived before the party, blew up the balloons and fashioned all of the hot air balloons both inside the house and out.

Two of the balloon vignettes flanked the outside stairway. I originally thought they could go at the base of the stairs on the tops of the posts, but then I remembered that the posts are topped with finials, so I had to put them on the flat surface midway up. They still were a theatrical welcome. In one of the baskets I placed little Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, reminiscent of the vintage papier mache ones in the nursery. And for all four of the hot air balloons used throughout, I crafted strings of paper bunting for decoration. For all the hot air balloon baskets — and others I used throughout for floral arrangements — I sewed little sandbags, filled them with sand, and tied them on with rope or embroidery floss (depending on their size).

For a doormat, I found these large (18' x 11.25" each) foam puzzle pieces (had to buy 6 of each color, but they can be repurposed for the playroom!), and created a front doormat. A nice reminder to Jenn that even though her mom isn't here, she is alive in memories.

For the entry foyer, I had wanted a white balloon, but after encountering a few hiccups, had to go with a yellow. The giant chandelier that hangs from 2 1/2 stories high luckily lowers, so Lee Ann brought it down to a level where I could tie fishing line. Once the chandelier was back in place, a line hung down to a height where I could put clouds made from Polyfil. The cloud has a wooden shish kabob skewer inside to help it hold its shape.  The three aluminum rocking horses are the homeowner's. This hot air balloon basket holds flowers. I did all the floral arrangements using red South American garden roses, white hydrangea, yellow billy balls, and eggplant purple cremons — in keeping with the colors of the nursery.

With such a large number of people expected for this shower, we opted to do nametags. I purchased wooden cloud cut-outs from an Etsy shop, painted them white and blue, glued broach pins on the backs, and wrote the names in black Sharpie. The nametags were arranged alphabetically on the foyer table, with extra blank ones as needed. [Because of Trace being a preemie, he was quarantined to another part of the house, and a camera monitor set up so that Jenn and Jason could keep an eye on him. The reason why we had hand sanitizer everywhere!]

The three hostesses got special nametags — hot air balloons I made using half of a plastic Easter egg, embroidery floss, a cotton ball cloud, paper name banner, and a basket I crafted using wired twine that I wrapped in a tight circle to form the base of the gondola, then around a pencil to form the sides. The sandbag is paper and glued on.

Jenn and Jason got special ones, too.

The beverage table featured a floral centerpiece I arranged in a glass trifle bowl I covered in the nursery fabric and accented with navy ribbon.

Lee Ann wanted to take care of the napkins, and she got custom dinner napkins, cocktail napkins and guest towels for the bathroom. There were tons of extras for Jenn and Jason to take home and use!

I covered a smaller glass vase with the fabric and navy ball fringe for the bathroom.

In the dining room, a dinner buffet was set up on a runner I created using the nursery fabric. I didn't sew any of the edges (simply ironed them under to form a clean edge), so that Jenn can use the fabric any way she wants to for the nursery). I decorated the drop of the runner by cutting around the chain link pattern, then made a paper balloon with rope, paper doily and ball fringe adornments, and a gondola out of a basketweave grass paper. I sewed a little sandbag. Jenn plans on cutting out this section of the runner and framing it.

A red hot air balloon graces the buffet table, and clouds are woven throughout the chandelier. Wooden cloud cut-outs are painted like the cloud nametags and then used to ID the food.

I knew this would be a fun group, so I had hot air balloon tattoos on hand. 

The living room was where gifts were opened, hugs and kisses shared, and happy tears shed.

For the gift logging, I took a plain chipboard clipboard and spray painted it blue, then dolled it up a bit with an image Mod Podged to the back and also turned into stickers for the logging sheets. In honor of Jenn's mom, Rose, I put a little rose on the clip.

With every event for Jenn (bridal showers, bachelorette party, wedding, now baby shower), we always have a single red rose in remembrance of her mom Rose.

I used baskets for other floral arrangements around the shower venue. They were in keeping with the theme, and I figured Jenn could use them in the nursery afterwards. I found this large one at Goodwill, and it has all these rope and leather trims that, I thought, made it look very gondola-esque.
Just added some sandbags.

Here's another basket on the bar, this with a little navy and white swag.

And another on the dessert bar. You know I'm a sucker for ball fringe.

The dessert table was key lime, chocolate mousse, and strawberry shortcake shooters. People were eating them like popcorn. 

Lee Ann's daughter even got the decorating bug, and drew a hot air balloon on the mirror. (You can't see it in the picture, but there are a Raggedy Ann and Andy in the gondola.)

For a "guest book," I found this blank cardboard puzzle with giant 4" pieces.

Originally I had planned on Jenn and Jason letting go of a sky lantern (to symbolize all the wishes they now have for their baby boy, and to think of those gone), but with the shower moving to earlier in the day, lanterns wouldn't have worked. When everyone left, and only a handful of us were there, it was decided that Jenn would let a balloon go, one to remember her mom, and one to remember Lee Ann's husband — she lost him all too early to cancer. Such a special moment. Sweet baby Trace, you are loved to the heavens and back.

Resources (live links):

Giant hot air balloons — Bloomin' Balloons (Cindy Lunsford)

Catering — Fancy Pantry

Giant guest book blank puzzle — Community Puzzle

Foam puzzle tiles —

Wooden cloud cutouts — Cut Line Craft on Etsy

Sweet Baby Trace custom balloon picks — treelittlebirdz on Etsy

Navy blue clouds scrapbooking decorations (I glued them onto wooden picks) — 

Smiling cloud scrapbooking decorations (I glued them onto wooden picks) — 

Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls — Amazon

Custom paper napkins (ordered and delivered next-day!) — fast

Signature nursery fabric (Gotcha Twill Corn Yellow) —

Hot air balloon tattoos — InkPanda on Etsy

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Silver Linings

It’s been a month of finding silver linings. Chateau Gahan experienced flood #4 since we’ve lived here. The first was when the ice maker line blew off the back of the fridge. My parents were picking Harleigh up from school and arrived in my driveway to see water pouring out from under my garage door.  I hightailed it home, tears streaming down my face, and pulled in to find that my parents and daughter had pulled out as much furniture as they could carry outside to the front of the house. It was chaos.

The second flood was the hot water heater expansion tank, the third the hot water heater itself. And because my hot water heater is in a closet in the center of the house, the water damage extended into the living room, hallway, my closet and my vanity area. This time, the fourth, was the water pressure regulator. It was 15 years old and died, causing the water pressure to skyrocket. The pressure was too much for a water line under my vanity sink (the line probably original to the house), and a small pin hole spewed water likely all night. I got out of bed in the morning because I heard water running and knew Harleigh wasn't up yet. Took three steps, and was standing on wet carpet.

As Harleigh and I hauled and sopped, she simply grabbed my wrist, looked me straight in the eye, and said “Mom, we got this.” And we got through it. The last of the shoe molding goes in today.

We twisted through zippered doorways for days on end. 
Endured the 24/7 deafening whir of giant fans and dehumidifiers. 
Gideon ate and drank from bowls on a shoe shelf from the foyer closet.
With most of the furniture temporarily stored in the garage, 
we jockeyed for seating on any surface that wasn't piled with our lives.

And the silver linings, once again as they always do in our make-the-most-of-a bad-situation little household, proved themselves too numerous to count.

  • Got gorgeous 5”-plank hardwoods . . . 
  • . . . and as everything was moved back into the living spaces I cleaned like a crazy woman, a long overdue deep clean. 
  • All the windows got washed inside and out. 
  • I got to work with a water damage restoration company that I have built a good relationship with over the many floods — good people, always positive. 
  • Harleigh and I practiced and succeeded at taking things in stride, accepting what was, being OK with living conditions not being perfect. 
  • We purged a lot; there’s nothing like having to move your personal belongings to make you question what is worth keeping and what just isn’t. My efforts at simplifying got a little kickstart with the great flood of 2015. 
  • Harleigh and I also spent a lot of time together, holed up wherever there was space for two women and a giant dog. Her room, with the full bed gone and two twins in its place, was sort of our headquarters. And with this picture above Harleigh’s bed, it seemed the perfect room to escape to for chilling out and counting our blessings amidst the shambles right outside her bedroom door.

Gideon fared the best of all through it. With our house filled with work crews and machines for days on end, he was relegated to Harleigh’s room, where I made up his bed on hers, with the blinds up so he could watch all the goings-on in the driveway. He was in heaven, like a little boy watching a construction site.

A day into the mess, Harleigh came home with flowers for me. It meant a lot. She knows that little gestures like this are part of my love language.

The one project I got done before my craft room became filled with closet contents, lamps and home decor from the damaged rooms was to cover my new Bible. I’ve always wanted a journaling Bible, and I found one at a good price, but the cover was anything but pretty. I took the dust jacket off and used that as the base, covering it in some calico fabric, adhering it with Mod Podge. Then I glued a metal scrapbooking embellishment on the cover along with a mustard seed charm. A reminder that "with faith nothing is impossible" seemed a fitting mantra for the challenging time we’ve just lived through.

And on a final note, this book! What a page turner. Highly recommend.


Stay tuned for a post I hope to get up next week of the adoption baby shower I designed.
Lee Ann, who had hired me to design the nautical baby shower, asked me to do all the decor for an adoption shower (the adopting parents also happen to be dear friends, so that made it super special!).

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