Rhonda Mankin Portraits » Southern Illinois and St. Louis Lifestyle and Portrait Photographers.

Esmé’s – Peter Rabbit Themed First Birthday

My little munchie turned one on January 28.  Esmé’s middle name is Beatrix (named after Beatrix Potter)..so we decided early on that her first birthday would be a Peter Rabbit themed one.  I looked around at all the very sweet pre-made/printed decor but it just wasn’t what I wanted.  So we collected different ideas off of Pinterest and put them together to make a cohesive theme.1st Birthday PicturePeterRabbitPartyInvitationGoggles First BirthdayDSC_3957
These beautiful paper flowers were incredibly easy to make.  I ordered the lighter pink one in the middle, and the two smaller ones off of Etsy from Especiallyforyoubyyw.  All of the others I made using tutorials.
The big butterfly I made from an old cardboard box, burlap, scrapbook notebook paper, old music sheets, and torn pages out of a scientific book in the ‘throw out bin’ at the library.

I really wanted a lot of mossy things like the banner and the moss balls.  Hobby Lobby was charging too much for them so I decided to take the time to make my own at a fraction of the cost.  The moss was a little hard to deal with at first because some of it was spongy and hard to tear and the other kind was stringy and also very hard to tear.  I sat down and started to cut the moss up with scissors and after it becoming a little messy I took a break and tried to think of a better way to get a a more powdery moss to dip the styrofoam balls into.  The light bulb went off and I pulled out the industrial blender my parents purchased for us when we got married.  I threw in both bags of moss and in seconds they turned into a beautiful green mossy powder.  I rubbed tacky glue all over the styrofoam balls and then rolled them around in the mossy powder.  I purchased a bag of several styrofoam balls for like 2 dollars.  Hobby Lobby wanted almost 8 dollars for 2 moss balls that were already made.  With a little extra time in ingenuity, I made my own and saved money.

The vase of flowers were from our master bedroom.  The rabbits and daffodils are from my Easter decor box.  I purchased the chalkboard and a chalkboard art marker from Hobby Lobby for 7.  Our house can be a little blue and dim in the winter months and I wanted a light, bright feeling so we added 2 strings of white Christmas lights to the back of the hearth.
family picture - first birthday -peter rabbit
Esmé’s little dress is from a children’s vintage clothing vendor on  Etsy.  It is a very light pink cotton with a white Peter Pan collar, and a frilly white and blue ruffle down the front.  My other girls coordinated with pastel pinks and blues.

I made her little hat from a Dollar Tree pre-made hat.  I just took apart the cheapo one and traced it onto a robin egg blue 12×12 piece of card stock paper.  I glued the blue paper onto the cheap-o hat with hot glue.  I only needed to glue the seams, and around the edges.  I put the hat back together, taped the elastic string back on the inside,  and then added some pleated ribbon, and a few chiffon flowers I found for .51 cent clearance bin.  Astrud had some cardboard numbers in her room and so we made a ‘1’ from a leftover 7.  I made the little white pompom from thick white yarn. You can purchase fancy birthday hats online for 20-50 dollars, but I wanted to stick to a strict budget for this party so I made the hat for only a few dollars.1stbdayparty71stbdayparty131stbdayparty2
I received tons of compliments on the punch.  It was simple to make and is made with real fruit juices.  We used plain colored plates in robin egg blue, and grass green.  I am a notorious hoarder of party supplies, the green plates were actually left overs from a Tinkerbell party we had for Margot several years ago.  The blue plates I purchased at Wal-mart for a dollar/package.  I also used green forks wrapped in bright orange napkins to resemble carrots.  I tied some simple twine to keep them together.  The green forks and the orange napkins were also purchased at Wal-mart for one dollar/pkg.  My glass beehive drink server was purchased at TJ Maxx several years ago.

Best Punch Ever Recipe via Savor Home
Here is what you need and what to do (makes about a gallon):

1 cup frozen concentrated lemonade (thawed)
6 oz  frozen concentrated orange juice (thawed)
2 cups cranberry juice
3 cups water
1/4 cup super fine sugar
2 liters lemon-lime soda or ginger ale chilled
Freshly sliced lemons and oranges
Ice

Add the lemonade, orange juice, cranberry juice, water and sugar to a container that has a lid. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved. Cover and chill the mixture for 1-2 hours. When you are ready to serve the punch, add the mixture to a drink server along with the soda, ice, lemons and oranges. Stir and enjoy!  This punch was super delicious, but ran out too fast.  We had over 20 people at the party and this punch went out in the first hour.  I should have tripled it!

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I wanted to really bring in a spring/summer feel to the decor.  I purchased a few yards of gauze, green burlap, and orange burlap.  I also used a baby blue flat sheet, and a large lace curtain panel that I found at goodwill for $2.  I wanted a layered look to bring in texture, using inexpensive fabrics that coordinated with the garden look.  While shopping for the food Kroger had tulips and daffodils on sale in cute little terra cotta pots.  The food labels where made using left over wood disks I used to make The Legend of Zelda belt and wooden tongue depressors.  I hot glued the wood pieces and added green moss to hide the globs of hot glue.  The labels were made using torn craft paper with print outs I made in Photoshop.  I tried to match the little characters with the food we were going to serve.  Here are the food labels close up:foodlabelsforPeterRabbitParty1stbdayparty5
Squirrel Nutkin’s Donut Holes were so fun to make and SUPER simple.  I had the older girls help me out with adding the chocolate sprinkles.
For the Petite Fours I kind of merged two recipes that I found from Pinterest.  I took the fancy look from the homemade ones and merged it with a quick and easy Youtube tutorial.  If you would like to give the real thing a try you can find the recipe for the lime-raspberry petite fours from Use Real Butter.  If you want to do the quick and easy way look no further than Deborah Ginsberg’s Silly Easy Petite Fours!

Squirrel Nutkin’s Donut Holes (inspired by another Peter Rabbit party I found on the web)

2 boxes of Donut holes (find a good bakery kind)
1/2 bag of Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
A few tablespoons of heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2
Snyder’s Stick Pretzels broken in half ( I used the same bag for the woodland trail mix.)
1 container of chocolate sprinkles or you could use nuts or lighter chocolate shavings.  I used the sprinkles.

Heat up 1/2 the bag of Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips in a bowl with a few TBS of cream or 1/2 & 1/2.  Pop in microwave in 10 second intervals mixing each time until chocolate is just melted.  You may have lumps, just keep mixing and do not over heat.  Once the chocolate is nice and smooth you have to work quickly.  Dip each donut hole into the melted chocolate and then quickly dip them down into the chocolate sprinkles.  I tried to sprinkle them but ended up just dipping because it was quicker.  Place half of a stick pretzel into the top and lay down on cooling wire rack to harden the chocolate.  Once all of them are done cover in Saran Wrap to keep the donut’s from going stale.  Serve within 24 hours.

Jemima Puddle Duck Petite Fours

1 Sara Lee Frozen Poundcake (on the day of use only slightly thaw the cake.  It makes it easier to cut)
1 Jar of good Apricot preserves or any flavor you want to use.
1 Bag of Ghirardelli White Melting Chocolates
a few drops of food coloring of your choice (We used Wilton’s food dye in Robin Egg blue color)
Complimentary fruit (We used Raspberries)

On the day you plan on making these thaw out the Sara Lee Frozen Poundcake about halfway.  I think I thawed mine about an hour.  Take the cake out and lay flat on counter.  You will want to cut away all of the brown parts in nice very even slices.  You want the cake to be almost a perfect brick (rectangular shape). Now you want to cut the cake lengthwise through the cake three to four times to make a layered cake effect. It is important to cut the cake and the layers as evenly as possible.  If you have a cake leveler I envy you! I had to eye all of the cuts, so just try your best to cut everything even.

Once you have all of the layers cut, lay out all layers and spread the jam or preserves over the top. DO NOT add the preserves to the top layer!  I did that and then had to ‘clean’ it off with the knife.  The chocolate covering won’t stick well if you add the preserves to the top.  Once the preserves/jam (you can add frosting to the layers if that’s all you have) have been spread out on the layers, put them all back together into the brick/layered cake form.  Now you will want to cut the cake into classic petite four squares.  Some people have a square cookie cutter and you may use that if you have one handy..but I did not, so I just used my long butcher knife.  Once all the squares are cut, lay them out on top of a wire cooling rack.  *This is important–you will want to put the cooling rack of cake squares on a top of a cookie sheet lined with parchment or aluminum foil.

Heat up the white chocolate in microwave in 10 second intervals until the chocolate is just melted.  Mix until smooth and quite watery.  You are now going to pour this over the cake pieces very slowly, trying to get all sides of the little cakes coated as evenly as possible.  Let the run off collect on your lined cookie sheet, you will recollect this to pour over the cakes again and again until the cakes are completely covered or you have run out of usable melted chocolate.  Let cool slightly before each coating.

Top off with a pretty piece of fruit or candy and voilà!  You have petitie fours that look like they were made in a fancy french bakery.

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We really wanted simple snacks that were not loaded with sugar and fake ingredients and since Peter Rabbit loved Mr. McGregor’s Garden we made snacks that went with the theme.  I found the little orange cups in the Easter section at Hobby Lobby for $1.99.  I added little baby carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli.  Half of the cups had ranch dressing in the bottom, while I added blue cheese to the other half.  I used a tri-level cupcake holder with a few doilies to serve the veggie cups.  I had purchased the cupcake holder 10 years ago at Target during their Easter sale.  The fruit salad was basically just berries.  I used Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries.  Just cleaned and drained, no sugar added.  1stbdayparty1
I couldn’t resist the look of this woodland trail mix recipe I found on Youtube.  I tied this into the theme by making it Mr Brown Owls Woodland Trail Mix.  It is super easy and so good.  The kids really loved this little treat, and on top of it all the fairy mushrooms adds a pop of color and sweetness to the mix.

Mr. Brown Owl’s Woodland Trail Mix Recipevia Rachel Rockwell on Youtube

1/2 Box of CocoPuff or any chocoball cereal
1 Cup (or more) of Snyder’s Stick Pretzels
1 package of Gerber Toddler Owl Snacks (they taste like Goldfish or Cheez-its)
1 package of Red Candy Melts (I purchased Wilton’s brand from Hobby Lobby)
1 Tube of white Icing. (this is used for the ‘glue’ and the white dots on top of the fairy mushrooms)
1 back of Jet-puffed Mini Marshmallows  (glue these to the red candy melts with the tube icing)

Make the little mushrooms first, use the tube icing to ‘glue’ the mini marshmallows to the red candy melts.  Dot the tops with the same icing.  Let them set out to dry for about an hour.  Mix all the other ingredients and then add in the candy mushrooms.  **Tip – pour out the Gerber Toddler Owl Snacks in a separate bowl and pick out the good ones before mixing with other ingredients.  The package I purchased had a lot of broken crackers and you really want good owls and not the broken ones.

I found the little wire egg basket at Hobby Lobby for a few bucks.  I put in some spanish moss and then a little tissue paper bowl to put the mix into.  I really like the natural look to it all.
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Another snack that was a hit was the Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s Crisp Cucumber Bites!  The girls LOVE helping out in the kitchen so I put them in charge of getting these snacks prettied up.  The one little tip I have for this is to make the whipped cream cheese topping the night or day before.  The flavors really get meld together and you end up with a powerful punch of flavor that is OH SO GOOD!

Mrs. Tggy Winkle’s Crisp Cucumber Bites via The Food Network

  • 8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 1cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ounce ranch dressing mix
  • 1teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
    Prepare the topping the night or day before.  Mix all ingredients together and put in covered bowl or prepared piping bag. Set in refrigerator over night..I think the longer it’s in there the stronger the creamy ranch flavor becomes.  When ready to serve, peel and slice cucumber into 1/4 inch slices.  Using pretty piping bag tip, pipe on the topping and serve!  This took maybe 10 minutes..this is great side if you are in a hurry.

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The cake..the poor sad looking cake.  I will be honest, I’m good at a lot of things however cake, is NOT one of them.  No one in our family really likes cake, so it isn’t something I get a lot of practice doing.  I usually just pick up the phone, call our local baker.  I tell him what I want and when I want it, and BAM!—perfect, consistent cakes every time.

Last year I decided that I wanted to be more of a “mom” and just make the cakes from scratch.  I have to say that the cake itself really wasn’t the problem.  The cake I made was a carrot cake, with real carrots, and raisins, and spices.  The cake actually tasted wonderful.  The frosting is where the road started to get bumpy.  I wanted that fairytale, cottage looking cake with bare sides and huge fluffy layers of white frosting with just little bits of raspberry or strawberry sticking out.  I had envisioned this perfect cake and just knew I could do it..especially since there was no fancy fondant decorating involved.  Pinterest is filled with beautiful ‘Naked’ cakes that look incredibly simple to make yet somehow I messed up? I knew from the minute I started mixing that I had made a dire mistake..I had chosen the wrong frosting recipe for the job.  I also have to mention that we had a pretty freaky mini-heatwave (very unseasonable for January in the Midwest).

Between my poor choice of frosting, improper mixing, and mini-heatwave the gods were against me on my cake making adventure.  Everything else had worked out so perfectly and here, the most important part of the party was looking pretty sad.  Oh well, I just couldn’t be upset about it, I had the most beautiful little girl turning one in the next room unaware of any cake catastrophes happening.  She was happy, and laughing at the people and balloons.  So, I frosted that cake, I added the beautiful handmade fondant Peter Rabbit, and the pennant banner walked that cake into the other room with my chin held high.  There was no way a cake was going to ruin a fantastic day. and Poor Esmé thought that my sister was trying to take her new toys.  She was just going to show her how the oven mit worked..but Esmé just wasn’t having it!  Spoiled…..Spoiled…..Spoiled…but I LOVE her!
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Our friends brought over the prettiest gifts with the most adorable gift wrapping.  I really didn’t even want to let her open this one..it was so pretty..and I definitely have a thing for gingham.  I saved a little square of each wrapping, of course I also save every bow, gift card and package decoration.  She also got a beautiful gold rimmed Beatrix Potter tea set, lots of books, clothing and toys.  Seriously, when our friends asked what to get her I told them sweatpants, and socks, and they showered her with prettiest things.  I am just frugal and realistic, anyone with kids especially toddlers know that you go through socks like crazy..so I said bring socks…bring big ol’ bags of socks!  We are just so lucky to have friends and family that really go out of their way for our girls.

1stbdayparty12By the end of the night Esmé was certainly partied out.  She loved all the kids playing with her and I really do think she enjoyed opening the gifts once she knew that whatever was in them was for her.  I think the party turned out beautifully considering we were on a very tight budget.

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