Not-too-Sweet Yellow Party Punch

This punch is close to crossing the line between a drink and a punch: it’s not nearly as sweet as most punches can be.  This would look beautiful served with blueberries, lemon, or orange slices frozen in a smaller portion of the punch (minus the ginger ale).

Yellow Punch

Ingredients:

2 (6 oz.) cans frozen orange juice concentrate

2 (6 oz.) cans frozen lemonade concentrate

1 (46 oz.) can pineapple juice

2 quarts water

1 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale

Preparation:

Combine all juices and water. Chill.  Add ginger ale when ready to serve.

Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette

Here is another of my favorite recipes from my daughter’s first birthday party.  We needed to get this made in advance, so we made only one small adjustment to the recipe: rather than chopping our basil, we placed the basil leaf whole in the dressing, and allowed it to infuse.  If you choose this method, you’ll want to give it at least eight hours to infuse before removing your basil (no straining required).   You can adjust this recipe to use with any kind of citrus.  Try it with a red orange or red grapefruit.  We happened to have champagne vinegar handy; you can use a white wine vinegar if you prefer.   This has a pretty yellow color and would look lovely served in a cut crystal cruet.

Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. orange juice

1 Tbsp.  lemon juice

1/4 lemon, zested

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp.  honey

1/8 cup chopped fresh basil, or whole basil leaves

1 tsp. champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

Preparation:

In a jar with a lid, mix the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, honey, basil, and vinegar.  Seal and shake well.  Chill 2 hours in the refrigerator if you chop your basil, 8 hours for whole leaves.  Strain chopped basil or remove leaves before serving.

Sweet Corn and Cilantro Soup

This nice summer soup is a modified version of a spicier, vegetarian version created by Naturally Ella.

For best results, you’ll want to get your hands on some really good, fresh sweet corn.  Check out Ella’s fantastic idea for cutting your kernels off the cob:

Some of our recipe modifications simply served to make the soup more yellow to fit into our party theme  (when tested as written it was definitely orange).  For example, we used a yellow pepper rather than a red, and a vidalia onion instead of a red onion.  If I were making this at home, I’d definitely revert to Ella’s original plan on those two points.

Sweet Corn and Cilantro soup

Sweet Corn and Cilantro soup

The serrano pepper in the original recipe also contributed to the soup’s orange look, though it was removed from our version primarily because it added a tremendous amount of spice(!!!) to the soup, and that wouldn’t work well for most of our guest list.  For the party, we also removed the jalapeño seeds, which completely changes the recipe so it is no longer spicy at all.  At home I’d probably kick it up just a notch either by adding a bit more seeded jalapeño, or including some of the seeds.

We sautéed our vegetables in bacon drippings to give a subtle depth of flavor, and used chicken broth rather than vegetable broth.

One final suggestion: you might tread carefully with your lime. Without the spicy peppers, the lime came through a touch stronger than we’d like, so consider adding it slowly and tasting along the way.  Enjoy!

Sweet Corn and Cilantro Soup

Ingredients:

4 ears sweet corn

3-4 jalapeños (seeds removed)

1 medium red (or yellow) pepper

1/2 medium red (or vidalia) onion

1 Tbsp. bacon grease

2-3 cups chicken broth

1-2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, to taste

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup minced cilantro + extra for garnish

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 avocado

crumbled bacon and dried crushed red pepper (optional toppings)

Preparation:

In a medium pot, heat bacon grease over medium heat.  Dice onion and peppers.  Add to pot.  Cook until onion is translucent, 4-5 minutes.

Remove corn from cob and add to cooked peppers/onion mixture.  Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Stir in 2 cups of chicken broth and salt, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Let cook for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and using either an immersion blender or regular blender, puree soup.  Return to heat and stir in cilantro, heavy cream, and more veggie broth if needed.  Heat for 1-2 minutes over medium low.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

To serve, slice avocados and add to top of soup.  Sprinkle with cilantro and other toppings as desired.

Yellow, Blue, and Green Lemon-themed Party Decor

After months of being on hyper-drive trying to get Sweet Iris launched, general parenting, and other miscellaneous craziness, I had really planned to keep things simple for my daughter’s first birthday party.  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.  Who was I kidding?

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We were rushing around trying to get ready, but I managed just a few pictures that’ll give you at least an idea.

This post is about the really fun stuff: the decor!

Also check out upcoming posts about the fab menu (including, but not limited to: Sweet Corn and Cilantro Soup, Doesn’t Get Easier Grilled Chicken salad,  Citrus-Basil Vinaigrette, 30-minute yeast rolls, Lemonade cupcakes, and Lemon-Basil sherbet), unusual serving pieces, and the crazy new kind of eco-friendly disposable serving ware we tried out (made from crushed leaves! Say what?).

So other than the doily dyeing tutorial we already did, I don’t *think* anything requires an elaborate tutorial.  Instead, I’ve offered a few essential tips  throughout the post to help you as you create similar items.  Please comment if you have any questions at all.   Here goes!

Inspiration

So this whole blue/green/yellow lemon “theme”, if you can call it that, was basically inspired by a couple of packs of gorgeous Isabelle de Borchgrave napkins that I fell in love with and nabbed on clearance(!) at Target a few years back.  I LOVE these gorgeous napkins, and we tried to use our measly 16 dinner napkins to big effect, loaves-and-fishes-miracle style.

Centerpieces

The half-dozen centerpieces were a major part of the napkin-multiplication project.  These were born out of a look around the house: “Ok we have a circle punch.  We have tin pails.  We have some napkins.  We have trees in the backyard.”  Et voila!

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The napkins were ironed and used to mat simple tree branch centerpieces with 3-D ornaments.  To create the napkin mat, the back ply of the napkin needs to be removed (because otherwise it starts to separate itself and peak out after ironing).

My very favorite thing about these centerpieces is something I didn’t expect at all–the  3-D circle “ornaments” spin gently in the A/C or the breeze.  It is a surprisingly nice little feature.

We used spare tissue paper for the “grass” on these centerpieces–honestly because I just didn’t have the energy to drag the baby into town (read: Raleigh) and buy something better.  Sorry about that.  The student will surpass the teacher, right?

Finally, we broke up the harsh lines of the mat and integrated the centerpiece and the table by scattering a few butterfly and bow confetti die-cuts, purchased from Purple Corner on Etsy.

Entryway

While we’re talking Etsy, we also got tulle-backed ragged yellow flowers that we pinned onto the buffet table from I Felt Sprightly.

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As you can tell, all the drama (and most of the work) was in the entryway

Here and on the front porch, the irregularly-ribbed paper lanterns (yellow, chartreuse, and deep blue), parasols, and yellow sandalwood fans (which doubled as favors for the kids) are all from paperlanternstore.com.

Fireplace

Also from Etsy’s I Felt Sprightly, I picked out some die-cut felt flower sets, which consisted of four different size petals, intended to be formed into 25 four-layer flowers.  We thought these looked great randomly ordered and sewn into a garland for the fireplace (along with some Rit Lemon Yellow dyed doilies).  We could have also used this garland draped on a chandelier or hung in close rows and gently gathered like a curtain on either side of a doorway or entryway.

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I really hate that I didn’t get better pictures of the fireplace, because it really did look pretty.  You can check  the background of other pictures in this post to see more of the fireplace.

Front Porch

In the front porch picture, you can see how we hung the sandalwood fans on the porch.  We found that the best way to keep them open was to wedge a folded piece of paper into the tail of the fan.  The fans had small metal hooks which made hanging them a breeze.  Evidently I was in such a hurry to snap this picture before the guests arrived that I didn’t notice the giant yellow lantern that had eased its way onto the railing to “sit a spell”.

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Oops.  It was a really humid day, and the painter’s tape we tried to use to hang the lanterns just wasn’t cutting it (or, rather, “hanging” it).  Fortunately we had a roll of my Sweet Iris packaging tape handy, which I’m thrilled to learn can hold up through any sauna North Carolina can throw in its general direction.   I did think about cropping that lantern out of the picture, but we do try to keep it “Reel” around here.  🙂

So while we’re outside, want to see the final product I teased you with in our doily dying tutorial post?  Here’s what a simple foamboard cut-out, yellow paint (b/c the door is glass and you’ll see the backside), a hot-glue gun, and 109 doilies in varying shades of  lemon yellow can do for you:

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Lovely, yes?  This is much easier if your child has a nice symmetrical initial: no hunting down letter templates or enlarging things on copying machines, just a ruler and a pencil will do the job.  Come to think of it I may need to prioritize first initial symmetry when picking out baby names in the future…

I hope some of these ideas help you!  Please comment below and let me know if you have any questions or tips.

For the rest of the story about this party, click here for the menu, and here for the cool eco-friendly serving stuff.