Lucas' 7th Birthday Party

I can't believe Lucas turned 7 on April 26th. Last year he wanted a Pokemon party but we ended up with a magic themed party instead. He's even more into Pokemon now so we did it up with a Pokemon themed party with my own modern spin on it. Remember his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th birthday parties?

I designed the invitations with a simple and modern take on Pikachu's face. I initially wanted to mail each invitation with a balloon that had a hand drawing of Pikachu's face but it didn't quite work out the way I wanted. Instead, each invitation came with a yellow balloon taped to the yellow backing of the invitation. The custom envelope liner had a photo of Lucas looking at a Pokemon book written in Japanese from our date to the Kinokuniya bookstore. The invitations were mailed in sunny yellow envelopes and sealed with wraparound address labels.

For the party favors, I made Poke Surprise Balls (tutorial here) using crepe paper streamers, a Sharpie and red acrylic paint. Each Poke Ball included a few Pokemon figurines, some Japanese candy, and a colorful whistle.

As usual, we order all the donut holes and make custom paper cones. :)

I made a super easy red velvet cake and cupcakes and just added the Pokemon figurines on top.

We hired a face painter who specializes in Pokemon drawings. Some kids had their full face painted and others, like Lucas, just had a character drawn on their face or arm.

Initially I was going to get Mexican food, but then I realized that Japanese food would be perfect for the theme! The sushi platters from Kyoto actually turned out to be less expensive. I just added Japanese rice crackers, fresh fruit, and some gyoza from Costco which I heated the morning of.

Okay, so the whistles. ;) I thought the whistles in the favors were so cute! I mean, for emergencies or to hook onto backpacks, right? But when all the whistles are going off at the same time and parents are kidding but not kidding about getting me back at their next party... Haha!!!

The cutest Pikachu that ever lived!

Every year, Nick and I tag team on making the pinata. This year I made a Poke Ball using the paper mache method and filled it with Japanese candies and Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks. Nick stayed up until 1 a.m. painting it.

Last year's pinata was a giant playing card that we made out of cardboard. It was unbreakable and hilarious because Nick had to stab it all over just to make it easier to break. This year was the opposite--it busted open just after a few strikes. We had to find ways to make it harder to open and sadly not everyone got a turn.

The look on Lucas' face when it was cake time is everything.

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Gluten Free Citrus Ricotta Mini Cakes for Virtual Baby Shower

Three things I love are food, friends and babies. So when I got invited to my friend Sarah's delicious virtual baby shower, I couldn't have been more excited to participate. Sarah (Snixy Kitchen) is having a baby girl in early February and her friends Alanna (Bojon Gourmet) and Todd (HonestlyYum) decided to host an amazing virtual baby shower with a Cheese & Sweets theme (Sarah's favorite things). Thanks for inviting me to celebrate!

I first met Sarah through my blog when she reached out to me interested in meeting up since she lives in the east bay too. On our first date, we met up at Elmwood Cafe where we instantly connected over food, blogging, our other jobs, and our boys named Lucas. Our second date was at the Whole Foods Market Gilman Store Preview Event and we've been seeing each other since. I couldn't be more excited for Sarah and her Lucas to start this new chapter. I keep telling her it'll be crazy and awesome.

I decided to bake gluten free Citrus Ricotta Mini Cakes with black sesame seeds (an ingredient Sarah uses a lot) and a citrus glaze. The cakes came out wonderfully and I will have to invite Sarah over for a real deal tasting before #cheesebaby arrives!

Other gluten free recipes: Best Granola Ever #2, Carrot Muffins, Cardamom Coffee Cake, Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes, Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Check out all these amazing recipes shared by other awesome blogger friends for the shower. Thanks again to Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet and Todd of HonestlyYUM for inviting me to celebrate Sarah and Lucas!

Follow along on social media with the official #cheesebabyshower to join in the celebration!

Cheesy Things

Sweet Things

Cheesy & Sweet Things

 

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Lucas' 5th Birthday Party

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

For the last two years, I've been asking Lucas what kind of birthday party he would like to have. He didn't have much of a say for his 1st or 2nd birthdays, but starting with his Superhero 4th birthday last year, he's been very clear about what he wants. Of course, he gets the modernized version of it because that's how I roll.

This year Lucas turned five (can't believe I have a 5-year old!) and without hesitation, he said he wanted a "Wild Kratts" party. If you haven't seen this show, it's worth checking out. It's an educational animated series on PBS, created by and starring brothers Chris and Martin Kratt.  The show is full of fun facts about animals, ranging from polar bears to geckos, and each episode features a particular critter's unique "creature power". Lucas gets really excited learning about animal powers and defenses, and I love when he enlightens me with new animal facts! This year we decided to throw a joint animal-themed birthday party with Judah, Lucas' good friend from school, who turned five the day before.

This year I partnered up with Whole Foods Market, which provided the amazing appetizers, entrees, beverages and desserts for our party. The super-talented catering teams from the two Berkeley locations created a delicious picnic style meal that included fried chicken, mac 'n' cheese, deviled eggs, strawberry/spinach salad, a yummy cabbage crunch salad, "turtle sandwiches" and cupcakes in two flavors. In addition to the lunch menu, they created some amazing food sculptures to go along with our animal theme.  Mice out of lemons? Porcupines out of watermelons? Chickens out of eggs? Crazy cool and fun, right? And as a special added touch, the team at the Gilman store location were kind enough to make us custom paletas in three flavors -- blueberry cream, apple/pineapple and fresh strawberry.

To modernize Lucas' vision of a "Wild Kratts" party, I decided to go for a more generalized animal theme, with "Go Wild" as a primary graphic element. Starting with the invitation design, I painted abstract animal patterns using simple black watercolor paint, and hand wrote "Go Wild" which would later become a logo for the party. I took a cute photo of Lucas and Judah and used it as a custom envelope liner. The envelopes were finished with matching wraparound address labels. The invitations, liner and envelopes were made with recycled paper.

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

For dessert, I baked a yummy red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, decorated with rainbow sprinkles and five wild animals on top.

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

If you've seen our other birthday parties, you know that donut holes are a Jackson family  tradition. This year's donut cones were made with the animal printed recycled paper.

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

Judah's parents got each birthday boy a Wild Kratts "creature power" suit as a gift. Lucas started off as "Chris" (green), but by the end of the party had traded with Judah to be "Martin" (blue).

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

I love this photo of Lucas testing out the t-shirt favors.  He wasn't crazy about having his photo taken, hence the pouty face. I couldn't resist. 

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

For the party favors, I made a giant rubber stamp of the "Go Wild" logo, and hand stamped white t-shirts in various sizes that I ordered online. Each friend got a t-shirt to wear at the party and take home. (The shirts were also handy as a change of clothes for several kids who got grubby or cake-covered during the party). 

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

We originally scheduled the party for Saturday, and had all the invitations printed up. We later changed it to Sunday due to Little League conflicts. I didn't want to waste the old invitations, so I cut off the old RSVP information, and used the top half to make "creature power" trading cards that accompanied each t-shirt. Each trading card had fun facts about different animals. Cute AND educational! The bottom of the invitations were used to create name tags. Big thanks to Jocelyn, Judah's mom, for ironing and packaging each shirt with a custom hand written tag!

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

Jeremiah (Judah's little bro) and Theo!

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

We also set out a bunch of animal masks which the kids loved!

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

Partnering up with Whole Foods Market to provide all the food and desserts was a dream! The catering team was fabulous to work with.

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

How cute are these "turtle sandwiches" made of turkey, cheese, cucumbers and fresh bread baked especially for us by Whole Foods Market Gilman?

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

As the party's main event, we had Lick Your Eyeballs present a fun, informative and hands-on animal show. They were amazing! From geckos and frogs, to a kingsnake and caiman lizard, the kids were very brave and gentle with the animals.

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

Elsa holds a jar of gecko egg shells.

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

One of my favorite ideas for the party was to make "polar bear ice," aka popsicles. There's a Wild Kratts episode called "Polar Bears Don't Dance," and I wanted the "polar bear ice" to tie into that.

The team at Whole Foods Market Gilman made custom paletas in three fruity flavors (blueberry cream, apple/pineapple and fresh strawberry). All were a huge hit on the warm day.

I designed some packaging for the pops using wax food bags, snipped at the bottom and  sealed on top with a hand lettered label. The package kept the pops from sticking together in the cooler, and also doubled as a place for the melty drips to fall. But as you can see, the package was ripped right off. Devoured in seconds!

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

Birthday boys waiting patiently to blow candles.

Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper
Lucas' 5th Birthday Party  /  www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog  //  @good_on_paper

I had no idea Whole Foods Market catered kids' parties, but now I'm spreading the word because the food was spectacular, and the catering team was open to my ideas, accommodating, easy to work with, and even delivered onsite (including compostable plates, utensils, napkins and adorable cups and straws from Susty Party). Special thanks to Lizzie at Whole Foods Market Berkeley for collaborating with me, to Jocelyn and Aaron (Judah's parents), and to my husband Nick, all of whom helped make Lucas' 5th birthday party a smash! For more information about Whole Foods Market catering you can contact the team here.

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Recipe: Cardamom Coffee Cake (Gluten Free)

Recipe: Cardamom Coffee Cake (gluten free) / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog / @good_on_paper

This Cardamom Coffee Cake is probably my biggest go to recipe for every brunch, potluck, or anytime dessert. My friend Christine first made it for me years ago and I immediately had to have it in my recipe book. I've made it countless times ever since and I always get "mmmm's" and "ohhhh, this is so good", and "can you send me the recipe?" Though I typically make this using the original non gluten free recipe (and sometimes in mini bundt form like I did for this Banchan Workshop), I love experimenting with gluten free flours. I relied on my trusty brown rice flour + xantham gum combo, but I also decided to make use of the huge bag of coconut flour that's been sitting in my pantry drawer. I had tried subbing in coconut flour in this Lemon Olive Chicken recipe, but it was disastrous so I've been a little wary of trying coconut flour again. But I'll admit this cake came out way better than I expected. With a little added texture and subtle hint of coconut, the result was pretty amazing. I love it with coffee in the morning, with tea in the afternoon, and with decaf tea for dessert while watching The Walking Dead. Ha! Let me know if you try it!

Recipe: Cardamom Coffee Cake (gluten free) / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog / @good_on_paper

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Recipe: Cardamom Coffee Cake (gluten free) / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog / @good_on_paper

Happy Weekend and a Birthday Party Sneak Peek

Happy Weekend and a Birthday Party Sneak Peek / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

Happy weekend friends! This week went by so quickly and now my little baby is 2. What?!? We celebrated his birthday last weekend with a little party at our home. It was so much fun but I'm so glad it's over! Lucas is helping Theo open one present each day, which really means Lucas is helping Lucas open one present each day. Theo is more excited about the boxes and ribbon!

Happy Weekend and a Birthday Party Sneak Peek / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

Here are just a couple of pics from Theo's party. Stay tuned for more pictures of the invitations and details of the food-themed second birthday party.

What are you up to this weekend?

+ Images by me via Instagram (@good_on_paper)

Lucas' Superhero 4th Birthday Party

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday_1 - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

The theme of this year's birthday party for Lucas who turned four on April 26th was super heroes. While he loves all kinds of super heroes -- Captain America, Flash, Spider-Man, etc., I really wanted the party to be about the super powers of Lucas and his friends (I spend enough time getting shot with spiderwebs and saving people in the Batmobile).

The invitations were printed in black and green on heavy white cotton paper with a clean, minimal design highlighting Super Lucas. Each invitation set included custom tattoos and instructions packaged in a small glassine envelope for each guest. The tattoos had the guest's name (i.e. Super Connor) as well as super hero speech bubbles with expressions like "WOW", "OK", "YES", and "COOL" instead of the usual "POW" and "BANG" expressions. The envelopes were lined with a pattern of the same super hero expressions.

It's been our tradition to have Lucas' birthday parties at Tilden Park but this year we had the chance to have it at his preschool's outdoor space. It's an awesome space that's safe and enclosed, with fun play structures and multiple levels for the ultimate in superhero fun. The only downside to having it at the school was that we had a guest limit.

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

Last year I took Lucas to breakfast at one of our favorite places, Elmwood Cafe. We did it again this year and I think I'll make it a tradition. Since the day was all about Lucas, we had Theo stay home with Po Po (grandma) which he didn't mind one bit because she is the world to him. And side note here - it is WAY easier with just one kid. Just sayin'. We ordered yummy coffee, a latte, orange juice, an egg sandwich, a frittata with organic greens, and a buttermilk waffle with lemon curd and blueberries on top. After breakfast we walked down the block to pick up donut holes for the party -- a Jackson kid party tradition!

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

Lucas got to open one small surprise gift from us - a Lightening McQueen race car. He hasn't seen the movie Cars yet but somehow it's one of his favorite characters and he talks about him all the time. Needless to say, he was floored when he opened his eyes to find this little red racer in his hands.

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

For party favors, we made custom (no sew!) capes for each of the kids so they could wear them on the day of the party. It was a huge hit with the kids and so fun to see them running, jumping, flying around with them. Some of the kids even wore them to school the next day and beyond. A huge thanks to my mom for pretty much doing all of the hard work -- from measuring, cutting, and washing the material, to helping me paint each of the letters on late at night. We also made paper masks (simply cut out the mask shape onto colored card stock and then staple a piece of elastic on both ends) that kids could decorate with markers and star stickers.

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

My husband Nick also crafted a building scene out of old cardboard boxes, tape, and spray paint as a backdrop for a photo booth. Each guest was encouraged to strike their best superhero pose in front of the buildings using an instant Fuji Instax camera. The guests could stick the photos into a memory book and jot down something for Lucas to read later.

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

For lunch we catered mini bean and cheese burritos for the kids from a favorite local Mexican restaurant. For the grown ups we catered Vietnamese banh-mi sandwiches and spring rolls. And for dessert I made a yummy chocolate cake (Lucas' favorite) and cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. And lastly, our parties wouldn't be complete without our traditional donut holes wrapped in paper cones.

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

Everyone had a blast, even Super Theo who came to the party with Po Po and Nana right after his nap.

SuperLucas4thBirthday - www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate. Lucas had the best time and is now talking about how he's going to be five!

+ See the party featured on 100 Layer Cakelet and the invitations on Oh So Beautiful Paper.

Food: Baking with a 6-year-old

BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
BakingWithZoya_2A.jpg

Several weeks ago my good friend Lisa asked me if her 6-year-old daughter Zoya could come over and bake something with me sometime. She knows I love to bake and apparently Zoya loves it too (she actually reminds me of ME as a kid). I didn't hesitate for a second to say yes. I decided that I wanted to go all out and make this strawberry and chocolate layer cake with chocolate ganache (instead of the strawberry swiss meringue buttercream frosting we made a simple cream cheese frosting). A little ambitious for Zoya's first time, but seriously she was the perfect assistant -- she listened well, followed directions extra carefully, asked questions, and was a total cutie eager beaver to learn and do things right. Did I mention she's six? I mean, she basically made the entire thing herself with me handling the grown up safety stuff. The cake tasted amazing and most importantly, we had so much fun and we both want to do it again! And p.s. I took way too many photos of her Hello Kitty tattoo. So cute!

BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog
BakingWithZoya / www.goodonpaperdesign.com/blog

Thank you Zoya! I can't wait to bake with you again soon.