Safari Themed Baby Shower

Giraffe CakeIn the beginning of December my sister’s best friend, Christina, and I threw a baby shower for my sister Sarah. Several years ago my sister, grandmother and I departed on an adventure throughout East Africa so right away we knew what the theme should be! Not to mention my sister’s affinity for giraffes. So it was set – now let the planning begin!

TABLE SETTING

The color palette we chose for the majority of our decorations were browns, greens, yellows, and blues. So let’s start at the table.

Congrats Sign

Safari Baby Shower Table

The table runners were made by my friend & co-worker Kim who purchased the fabric from a local fabric shop. For the center pieces, I purchased several large and small mason jars, wrapped them in burlap and finished it with a twine bow. The flowers were a combinations of green Poms, Hydrangeas, Birds of Paradise and Eucalyptus from our backyard. The plates, napkins, cutlery, table cloths and premium stemware were purchased online from PartyCity.com.

Baby Shower Center Piece

FAVORS

As a takeaway for our guests, we had a 187ml bottle of Kenwood Vineyards Yulupa Sparkling wine wrapped in a burlap bag with a tag that read:

Capture1Additionally, we had these adorable (and delicious!) giraffe cookies made by Trisha Thomas who owns Dessert Divas in Sacramento.

Dessert Diva Cookies

MENU

1454680_10101160479112657_640340608_nQuiche Lorraine • Mushroom Spinach Quiche

Parmesan & Cranberry Salad • Fruit Salad • Assorted Muffins

Assorted Cheeses • Giraffe Cake • Safari Cake Pops

Cucumber Water • Jungle Juice (Pomegranate / Cranberry Punch)

Safari Table SettingTo save on time (as we had a lot to do in terms of decorating and last-minute crafts), we ordered the quiche from Whole Foods catering and picked up the fruit salad, muffins and cheese from the local market.

Parmesan & Cranberry Salad with Peach Vinaigrette

  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Toasted walnuts
  • 2/3 cup peach nectar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • pinch of salt

This recipe yields 6 – 8 servings so I tripled it for the shower. To make the vinaigrette, mix together the peach nectar, vinegar, mustard, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add in the oil whisking constantly. Add the cranberries and toasted walnuts to the mixed greens and toss well with vinaigrette. Garnish with the Parmesan cheese. The original recipe, adapted from Sandra Lee, calls for Pear Nectar but I swapped it our for peach and I also added in the walnuts to give it some crunch!

Punch & Water

Jungle Juice Punch (Cranberry, Pomegranate & Tangerine)

  • 5 cups cranberry juice
  • 3 cups tangerine juice
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 liter soda water
  • Fresh cranberries, for garnish

This was a huge hit at the party and it was so easy to make. In a large punch bowl combine the cranberry, tangerine and pomegranate juice. Top with soda water and garnish with fresh cranberries. (Variation: swap out the soda water for sparkling wine to give it an adult kick!)

Cake Pop For Parties

For dessert we had these adorable safari cake pops, made by our dear friend Lisa and this amazing raspberry marble (chocolate marble cake layered with chocolate ganache, vanilla buttercream, and fresh raspberries) giraffe cake made by Diana Katra, Cake Whimsy in Campbell.

Giraffe Cake | Aprons & Stilettos

While my sister was opening presents, we played baby bingo! These cards were so easy to make in Photoshop (or InDesign). If you don’t have the time to design your own baby bingo cards, you can find an array of adorable cards for purchase on Etsy.

Baby Bingo

My sister is due any day now so we’re just waiting around for the call! This will be her first, my parents first grandchild and my first time being an Auntie! I can’t wait! Cheers! ~Crystal

Table Setting

Mulberry Me, Please…

Lavender Mulberry Muddle

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early in the morning.

Each summer I look forward to harvesting red mulberries from our two Persian mulberry trees (yes, trees — they actually don’t grow on bushes.) Native to Asia, these large reddish-black berries are only available for a short period during the summer months and are similar in appearance to blackberries. The flavor? A succulent mix between sweet & tart. Great right off the tree, these berries are also fabulous in salads or… try reducing them down and drizzled on pound cake or ice cream or even used as a sauce for your favorite protein. Being that it’s summer, I’ve decided to make a deliciously refreshing cocktail using the fresh-picked mulberries. (Oh and by the way, if you have a tree or are working with mulberries — be careful as they stain!)

Mulberry Tree 2013

Lavender-Mulberry Muddle

  • 20 medium sized Mulberries (or 10 large ones)*
  • 1 tablespoon Lavender Simple Syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 5 mint leaves
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Fresh lemon juice, 1/2 lemon
  • Soda water, fill

Mulberry Muddle Cocktail

Combine mulberries, mint, small drizzle of honey and simple syrup in cocktail shaker. Muddle until mulberries are juiced. Add ice, vodka and lemon juice. Shake and strain pulp using a sieve. Pour over ice in glass and garnish with extra mulberries and lavender sprig. Cheers to summer! ~Crystal

Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lavender buds (fresh or dried)

Lavender Syrup

Lavender Mulberry Muddle

Bring sugar, water and lavender to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 – 30 mins. Strain lavender buds and transfer syrup to a container with lid. Refrigerate for up to a month. BTW – This recipe makes more then needed for one cocktail. Since you can store it for a while in the ‘fridge, experiment this syrup in other cocktails, over Greek yogurt, ice cream or as a sweetener substitute. Share with us how you used your lavender syrup on twitter @ApronsStilettos or in the comments below.


*I used mulberries since we have two beautiful trees in the backyard. Your specialty markets may carry them so ask around. Raspberries can certainly be substituted. Just remember that they will be slightly more tart than mulberries. Experiment and share with us your spin on this cocktail!


Bottle Opened..Why Ever Close?

Wine Bottle Aprons & Stilettos

By: Mike Madigan

Wine: local Sonoma County blend. Occasion: I want to drink it. Often times, too much is made of wine. Itʼs plainly, blatantly, over-thought. You open whatever bottle you want. Thatʼs how it should be. Thatʼs my “cellar philosophy.” This industry, unarguably run by consumers. And we, as the consumers, pushing “the industry” into its profitable future, need to not be shy with our penchants, habits, standing up to the self-elevating, the name hogs, the loudness. Another sip, asking mySelf, “Should I have waited to open this?” It may have benefited from a little more cellar time, yes. But what harm was done? I learned. And frankly, Iʼm enjoying where this three-varietal spin is, in its incunabulum– How it connects with me, right now, in this moment, the one I ordered.

Canʼt tell you how many people Iʼve met, while in “the industry,” that simply love to hear themselves talk. They canʼt wait to tell you whatʼs in their cellar, how MANY bottles they have, and then compare it to what people around them have, eager to one up anyone offering opinion. Is this wine? Is this what wineʼs dimension demands? Is this a wine moment? No, to all. Thereʼs no wine in it. These character types scalpel out the consumer, the sincerely ardent wine lover. Closed in their mind, closing out all around them, those open to hearing othersʼ experiences, trying other wines. What do these self-knighted grape sages get from their perceived ascension? They get themselves, their vision of themselves. Reflection… Them. Theyʼre not thinking about wine. At all. Their interest is them, their voice, their cellar, their shockwaving trump show.

And here I am, writing about them. Which, you could argue, serves simply a time waste. It is, youʼre right. But I just had to note it, somewhere. We, the open sippers, enjoy all associated with wine– from the vineyard, to the harvest, crushing, coldsoaking, yeast inoculation, oak regiments, aging, racking, blending trials, bottling strategy. Itʼs the wine that turns us into such fortified fervency. How is any eminence associated with something so Human, so universal as wine (which is, after all, merely a beverage). And mine, what Iʼm sipping between types, evermore enrapturing. And it was opened prematurely, by ME. A mistake of which Iʼm inexorably proud, as itʼs part of THIS wine moment. I learned. Its imperfection is what makes it perfect. And if not perfect, then holistically Human.

Now: content. Why: the moment, the wine with which Iʼve it paired. Maybe I should have some sort of cellaring philosophy, but not right away. If I want to open a bottle, I open it. Iʼm just a consumer. But that doesnʼt mean I canʼt learn more, maybe develop some level of “sophistication,” IF I want to. And I donʼt. This, Wine, not “the industry,” is about love. LOVE, of wine. Of those loving wine, simply enjoying the moments associated with it. Need another glass. Donʼt know if I can discipline myself, in grips of this now-written sight, to close bottle.

(5/15/13)


Mike MadiganAprons & Stilettos is excited to introduce contributing author and friend Mike Madigan. Mike has a deep passion for writing, wine, art, music, film and food. Check out his Literary wine blog, bottledaux, and connect with him on twitter @Madigan529.