The Portland Bloggers, a local bloggers meet-up group and resource, hosted a Valentine’s Day brunch potluck this past month. We were happy to have decoration supplied by Minted.Com and tasty mimosas with Santa Margherita Wines. All thoughts and opinions are my own. To see my sponsored posting guidelines please visit my policies page. Thank you to Jennifer Landers for helping us find a swanky venue and Suzannah Stanley for these fab photos!
When you live in Portland you tend to come around to the amazing-ness that is B-R-U-N-C-H. You see, it may have to do something with the rain and the grey skies or perhaps it is the laid back nature of this town… but, getting up early in the morning and heading out to breakfast really is just not our thing. Yes, it happens. Yes, there are people that seem to make it out of the house before 10 AM. Those are the people who get to walk right in and sit down for a tasty meal with no wait.
The rest of us, well, we do brunch and we do it hard. We have some of the most amazing restaurants out there creating brunch menus just for us. Heck, even the amazing Gregory Gourdet of Departure (you may know him from Top Chef) is getting into some brunch mischief with a pop-up brunch feature this Easter. Personally, I love brunch. There is something about the perfect mix of sweet and savory breakfast food paried with a breakfast cocktail all while fully rested. My love of brunch is one of the many reasons why we decided our recent Portland Bloggers meet-up was going to be a brunch potluck. One of the other reasons is that brunch is perfect for a potluck.
There was such a great variety of foods and treats. I love brunch foods for potlucks because they can be savory or sweet. Great brunch potluck foods include mini bagels with cream cheese, quiches, muffins, waffle bites, deviled eggs… the list goes on and on! And for this particular brunch, because we hosted the party near Valentine’s Day, there were a lot of sweet treats on top of the great brunch foods.
One of my favorite parts of any party is the beverage choices. Because we were having a brunch, we felt mimosas were a must! Santa Margherita wines sent us some of their Prosecco to try out. The crisp Santa Margherita Prosecco was stationed in a ice bucket ready to pair with either orange juice, peach puree, or strawberry puree. My favorite pairing was with the peach puree because the lightly tart taste of the Prosecco brought out the bright and juicy flavors of the peach. We also had plenty of sparkling water to pair with the juices to round out our beverage selection.
We decorated the meeting space using Minted’s Party Suites. Seriously, such an easy and beautiful solution to party decor. You simply pick your suite, customize and purchase and then a neat little party package comes to your door complete with custom items, paper straws, plates, and napkins! We chose the Valentine’s Ombre Love Party Decor in the Perfect Party package. The mini note cards made for perfect labels for the food for the potluck. The banner is such great quality of paper that I’ll be keeping it to use over and over again at upcoming Portland Blogger meet-ups.
I go on and on about potlucks like they are the butter to my bread… but, heres the thing, hosting parties can be quite expensive. Going out to eat and be expensive. Heck, even a drink or two at a bar can break the bank at times. Hosting events potluck style gives everyone the opportunity to gather together to enjoy a meal while not sticking one person with the check. I love the laid back feel of potlucks. I enjoy getting to try the items that other people bring. To be perfectly honest, in the end, I love not paying for everything. Cheers to whoever invented the very first potluck—those cavemen and women who all came to the table with something to share. Cheers also to the awesome guests that came to this potluck. They brought their A-game in the food and networking departments!
I was absolutely honored when my friend Joan offered to host a sprinkle for me and my newest baby. A sprinkle is similar to a shower, but is designed to be a smaller celebration for a second child because the mother likely has some items from the first time around. I was super touched that she would want to throw me a party in the midst of her own move into a new home. My friend Alicia jumped in to help with the sprinkle and the two of them even outdid the amazingness they pulled off in my first baby shower that they hosted together— A Robot Themed Baby Shower. I offered up my backyard for the party and they based the color scheme to match my newly decorated porch area. This is a LONG post with lots of ideas for hosting a Portland-rain themed baby shower as well as some free downloads! If you enjoy this post, I’d be super duper happy if you PINNED an item to your Pinterest board or SHARED via your favorite social media platform.
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They themed the party around the “Sprinkle” theme as well as my love of all things Portland, Oregon. The Pitter Patter in PDX Baby Shower was born and with it came Food Truck-themed foods and rain drop decorations. We even got to be spoiled with some local gourmet ice cream! I ordered event sized portions of King Creamery’s amazing ice cream flavors. It went perfectly with the theme… also, the champagne pear sorbet was simply the most amazing sorbet I’d ever tasted in my life.
Joan is an amazing graphic designer and she created a beautiful rain themed items to use throughout the event including the above Facebook invitation cover. (The image is free for personal use in case you’d like to throw a Portland rain themed baby shower! Just click on the image, right click to save to your computer and upload to your Facebook event cover area!) She built a cloud out of balloons and pillow stuffing utilizing this great “How to Build a Cloud” tutorial from The Farm Chicks.
Joan utilized the graphics she used on the invite on the labels she created for the awesome party favors she put together. Utilizing the same graphics and color scheme in different areas throughout your party can help pull together different elements to make the party look professionally put together! Joan found corn on the cob from a local farm that simply goes into a paper bag with a little oil and is instantly microwave popcorn! How cool is that? I have a fantastic umbrella that has the “Thank You” in several different languages printed on the inside of the umbrella. We added that detail at the last minute because it went with the theme AND was the perfect addition to the favor table!
We kept the beverages for this party pretty simple with sparkling waters, coffee, tea and—because it was a Portland theme— beer! Joan created little tags for the coffee cups to make it coordinate with the Portland theme. She named the coffee shop “Bumptown Coffee” a play on words from the famous Stumptown coffee! Seriously one of my favorite details. The coffee cups and sleeves (aff link) were totally affordable from Amazon and she simply printed up her label on round 2-inch sticker sheets (aff link). An affordable and simple way to bring the coffee bar up a notch for a party!
My absolute favorite detail of the party was the food. Now, that isn’t JUST because I was 8 months pregnant and eating everything under the sun. Though, that helped. The girls came together with different ideas for Food Truck themed food. Joan then made these amazing little food trucks using a great free template sourced from The Fox is Black and an artist by the name of Goopymart. The food trucks included Mac and Cheese, Please!, Sweet Elvis PB&J, Nom Bowl, Taco Taco Taco, and The Waffle Beneath My Wings. The food containers such as the paper food trays with wax paper and the bamboo bowls (affiliate links) added to the whole “food truck” feel. And, of course, we had a REAL Portland food vendor present with the cute little event size King Creamery ice creams. They do home delivery of their monthly flavors with their club membership, but they also cater events.
I don’t have any photos of the cute little activity that Joan put together for the event. She had hand cut out felt items so that guests could help put together a mobile for the baby. (There is a great little tutorial for felt mobiles over at Craftiness is Not Optional.) I seriously prefer crafts and activities over baby shower games, so this was perfect for me! In addition, she whipped up cute little cards with a link to a meal train that she had set up for me on mealbaby.com. It was amazing to have food delivered those first few weeks after the baby was born.
Joan, who has a rad little business with her husband called Stogle Studios, put together these fun designs for the party’s food trucks using the template from The Fox is Black. You can download them and use for free for your next party! Want to create your own? The template is free to download over at The Fox is Black’s Food Truck Design Contest Post! (Personal Use Only)
A few months ago, near the beginning of my pregnancy, I had the pleasure of visiting our local Dream Dinners for a blogger dining experience. I had a great time at the event, getting to make the meals was super easy and it was a ton of fun seeing blogging friends and catching up while making the meals. The whole time I couldn’t help but think how the event would have been perfect for a baby shower or baby sprinkle.
When you sign up for the Dream Dinners experience you get the opportunity to pick a date to visit the store, a variety of dishes (the menu changes each month) and number of servings. On the date of your visit you get to join others in prepping your meals. At the end of the two hours you’ll go home with your meals ready to go into the freezer for whenever you are ready for a quick and delicious meal with all the instructions ready to go. You can choose to do this experience on any of the open sessions, invite friends along or schedule a private session for just you and your friends.
Okay, okay… so, maybe the idea of prepping dinners doesn’t sound super thrilling to you. I get it. When I have to cook dinner I don’t especially love the process. But, what I do love, is going to a place where everything has been prepped for me and I don’t have to do any of the dishes! Check out the organization skills… gotta love the good use of a label maker.
The cost of the meal includes all of the food items that you can follow to the recipe or decide to customize by leaving out ingredients that picky eaters may not enjoy. It also includes the packaging and cooking instructions. There are additional sides and meals already prepped and ready for purchase in the store as well. I bought a few sides and breakfast meals to throw in our freezer at home in addition to the meals I made at the event.
So, how does it all taste?
It was great! The whole family really loved the meals that we tried and the instructions were super easy to follow. My husband actually made all three meals the days that we ate them and didn’t have any problems following the instructions. He isn’t a novice in the kitchen, but there is no way he’d have been able to whip up the Chateau Chicken with Almond Butter Sauce on his own. In addition to the Chateau Chicken I tried Arroz Con Pollo and Limoncello Shrimp with Coconut Rice.
Note: Dream Dinners does have some availability in customizing a recipe or two by leaving out an ingredient you may or may not like. But, it isn’t super customizable when it comes to items that are gluten, allergy or meat free. Check out the site’s Health and Nutrition FAQs for more info on this. The menus are available on-line as well, so you do get quite a few options in what meals you and your family would like. In addition, the packaging includes lots of plastic bags and aluminum. While much better than a frozen meal at the grocery store, it isn’t the most eco-friendly.
When I was in my first pregnancy I worked about 25 hours a week and I had maybe a 15 minute commute. I also didn’t have a toddler. I prepped for the baby coming by making a LOT of frozen meals. As a matter of fact, I was prepping large portions of spaghetti and meatballs for freezing the whole beginning stages of labor. The meals were so fantastic the first month of our kiddo’s life.
This pregnancy has been….well, different. I have a full time gig, commute 1 hour each way and a toddler. Not complaining, I love my life. But, the idea of spending my little free time prepping meals for after the baby arrives is not super appealing. A showering of pre-made meals sounds like the perfect baby shower or baby sprinkle for someone who may have most of the baby gear all ready to go.
Read on to find out how to throw a Dream Dinners baby shower!