Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jungle Birthday Party

Connor's 1st Birthday party turned out great and was a lot of fun! Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us!

The party was jungle themed, with an emphasis on monkeys, since we call Connor our little monkey :).  I found a couple of pins on Pinterest to help expand on the ideas I had for the decorations and menu. 
Of course, I took pictures of everything to share here with everyone in case anyone out there needs some inspiration for a kid's jungle party!
Favors Table:  "Thank You" sign, kid favors, adult favors, monkey banner

For the monkey banner (which I also used in several other areas of the house) was made from the scraps from the "Happy Birthday" flag banner, brown yarn I had from a previous project, and monkey cutouts I found at a local education supply store when looking for green construction paper.

"Thank You" sign
 The "Thank You" sign was made from scrapbook paper I've had for years and leftovers from the "Happy Birthday" flag banner.

Party Favors

Big Kid/Adult Favors
For the Adult/Big Kid Favors, I used a monkey pop mold from Michael's (they're about $2) and put melted chocolate in them. Yum!

Kid Favors
For the Kid Favors, I had a hard time trying to figure out what to get/make. I had bought a cute monkey straw cup from Target* for Connor and he seemed to really like it and after not being able to think of something better, I decided to get one for each of the kids coming. The teal ones were for the boys and red/pink ones for the girls. I washed them ahead of time and wrote their names on them in case they wanted to use them at the party. Then, while at the Dollar Tree, I found cute little jungle animal puppets that I thought would be fun and rounded off the favor with a little bag of animal cookies, decorated with jungle animal stickers I also found at the local educational supply store. 
(*The monkey cups are currently in Target stores for Valentine's Day, so if it's past that time and you are thinking of favor ideas, start with the Dollar Tree and see what you come up with!)

Spotlight on the Birthday Boy: Highchair monkey banner, party hat, "Happy Birthday" flag banner, cupcake liner balls, balloons, jungle animals & baby book

Since we were using the table for the food spread, there was no room in the kitchen for the highchair so I chose to put it by the fireplace where I was hanging the birthday banner (a disposable table cloth was used to catch the smash cake). 

Birthday Boy's Highchair
I used a monkey banner to decorate the highchair and made the party hat out of felt. 

Mantle Decorations
For the "Happy Birthday" flag banner, I used scrapbook paper and yarn. The number 1 was made from leftover scrapbook paper. I made cupcake liner balls because I had bought jungle animal print cupcake liners a while back thinking I would use them for the party but decided not to make cupcakes so I made them into decorations instead. Then to top it off, I put two of Connor's stuffed jungle animals and his completed baby book on top of the mantle. 

Jungle Vines: green crepe paper, green paper leaves, monkey

Jungle Vines
I saw this idea on Pinterest and had to do it. We used the ceiling fan as the focal point and my husband and sister hung green crepe paper vines coming out in all directions and then the leaves I cut from green poster board (because I couldn't find construction paper) hung down from the vines. Then a monkey I found at the Dollar Tree hung from the fan. We also used green balloons to decorate various areas of the house.

Food Table (decorations): green balloons, monkey banner, grass skirt, green material

Food Table

I saw on Pinterest someone who had used grass skirts to decorate the food table. She had apparently gotten them cheap around Easter time... but it's not Easter time right now and they were $8 a piece and we were going to need several so we went with a roll of craft paper instead and cut it to look like a grass skirt instead. Then I used an extra green curtain I had lying around for the top of the table. 

Main Dish
Since the party started at noon, we served lunch. The main dish was bbq pulled pork, we I dubbed "BBQ Boar", served atop a bun with "Crocodile Coleslaw". (And as you can see, I used a monkey banner to decorate here too.)

Jungle Juice
 The "Jungle Juice" was something I came across on Pinterest; pineapple juice and ginger ale. It was delicious! Just watch out when you pour it as it fizzes up a ton! (More monkey banner and balloons hung from the counter.)

Hyena Humus
I love humus and typically like to make my own since it's so easy, but to minimize all that I had to do/make, I just bought some at the store and served it with carrots. 

Cheetah Chips
 Nothing special about the chips... I just love to dip them in hummus and they needed a fun name too!

Zebra Cakes
 A play on Little Debbie's Zebra Cakes (something served at a jungle party I found on Pinterest), I made brownies and used zebra brownie tattoos to make them "Zebra Cakes" sine I can't eat the Little Debbie version (due to gluten-intolerance).

Deviled Darter Eggs
 And because everyone loves deviled eggs and they are so easy to make... we had "Deviled Darter Eggs". If you're wondering... a darter is a bird found in Africa.

Hungry Hippo Salad
 My "Hungry Hippo Salad" was a mixture of baby greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Served with homemade salad dressing. 

Caracal Carrot Salad
 My mom loves carrot salad and wanted to make it for the party, so we found it a fun name for it. 

Gorilla Grapes
The "Gorilla Grapes" were totally something I found on Pinterest and had to use. Aren't they cute?
Last, but not least.... CAKE!

Jungle Cake

I found a cute idea for a jungle cake on Pinterest and thought it would be fun to give fondant a try since I've never used it to decorate a cake before and you can do so much more with it than regular frosting. The fact that it's gluten and dairy-free made it even more appealing. Well, I love how it turned out, but it took ALL DAY before the party to do. But it looks great and I would do it again! Just be prepared that it takes a long time. My sister made the monkey on top and my mom made the leaves on top, which saved me a ton of time. I will also say that to save myself some time, I just used box cake mix and fancied it up a little by adding strawberries to the chocolate one and chocolate chips to the vanilla one. They were both pretty yummy! (Tip: to get the grassy look around the layer edges: put green fondant in a cookie press with the multi-hole disk.)

Smash Cake
Connor's smash cake was made from an allergy-free mix (Cherrybrooke Kitchen) and coconut milk frosting (with brown food coloring since he hasn't had chocolate yet). I used the Wilton monkey pan I had gotten at Michael's a while back when I saw it on sale. It was a good size and Connor loved it!

Happy 1st Birthday Connor!

First Birthday Party = Success!

**Pinspiration links: Jungle Vines, Food Ideas, Jungle Cake (pin link not working:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday Connor!

I seriously cannot believe how fast this year has gone! Happy 1st Birthday to my little man... you light up my life and I cannot imagine a world without you! Mommy and Daddy love you soo much!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ahh, Ahhh, Ahhhh, Ah Choo!

Well we finally went to see an allergist to figure out what Connor is going on with Connor and all of his food reactions. When I scheduled the appointment over the phone, and had to explain to them why we were coming, she said they would likely do the testing that day so we were ready for it.

After going over his history of reactions to foods, the allergist decided to test him for 10 different foods: egg, cow's milk, soy, wheat, peanut, almond, pecan, walnut, banana, and squash (though it was yellow squash since that was the only one they had). The allergist explained that you have to be first exposed to something to be allergic to it, but that since Connor is breastfed, he has been exposed to the proteins through my milk and therefore we could do the testing on foods that he hadn't actually eaten yet. They did the skin test on his back and it actually wasn't too bad for him.

The results... he is definitely allergic to walnuts and we were given a Rx for an epi pen in case he ever accidentally comes in contact with walnuts. We will retest the walnuts again in a year to see if he maybe outgrows it, but since Ken suspects he is allergic and Ken's sister is also allergic to walnuts, looks like we will be avoiding walnuts in our house and checking labels for tree nuts. We'll also be following up in 6 months as Connor will have eaten more variety of foods and we'll test for more if needed. So as far as immune-response allergy, so far it's just walnuts.

That said, he could still be sensitive to certain foods and need to avoid them (like my non-celiac gluten sensitivity), but it's not something that will show up on an allergy test. So I am to continue like we have been with introducing one food at a time over 3-5 days and taking notes on any reactions that may pop up. This doesn't tell us why he broke out in hives from eating that apple back in November, but hopefully it doesn't happen again. The doctor said she doesn't think it was the actual apple since he eats cooked apples all the time and is fine. Though I have to say, I am still nervous to give him a raw apple again.

I'm glad to at least know that he's not at risk of anaphylaxis with a few of the foods we've been avoiding and maybe just a sensitivity or something he's grown out of. Once we get a few more foods into his rotation of what he can eat, I will be trying nuts he isn't allergic to and a little bit of dairy back in my diet to see if he has any reactions through my milk like he had before. I have to say, I am most looking forward to the possibility of eating peanut butter again! And hopefully Connor won't have any more reactions and it won't be long before he can eat just about anything... except walnuts of course :).