Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Farewell Summer (An ode to ice-cream)

Today, in our part of the world, we officially kiss summer goodbye. Today, in our part of the world, it is still 35degrees celsius! Yes, it is quite clear that, as we know and love, summer will indeed linger a little longer. Maybe a lot longer.

In our part of the world, it’s pretty much Summer all year `round in fact, which is a good excuse as any for the fact that going out for ice-cream is a firm favourite-thing-to-do in our house, whatever the weather.

When Baskin-Robbins moved in just up the road, a few years ago now, there was much happy dancing going on in our house. If you should ask Mia, our eldest, what one of her most favourite things in the world is, there’s a good chance she’ll tell you `Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough’ – of the aforementioned BR variety.

And so it was that an Ice-cream Parlour party was set for Mia’s 5th Birthday - a simple, fun celebration inspired by her great love for all things cold, melty and delicious.

Now, Mia is soon to turn 7, so forgive us for reminiscing a little here. In the two years since we threw this little backyard shindig, everybody's favourite dessert has trended as a theme for all sorts of celebrations. There have been many gorgeous parties and a whole host of inspiration out there for this theme - like here and here and here and here. See, lots! We hope you don't mind having to look at another, but it seemed a fitting way to say `goodbye' to summer, and well, there can never be too much of a good thing right?

For Mia's party, delightful invitations, favour tags and signage from Imprintables set a soft gelati colour palette which was not overly girlie so could be used if your son is a bit partial to Cookies `n’ Cream too.

I put my very handy and patient parents to work on building our very own parlour, complete with candy stripes and scalloped awning and booked Baskin-Robbins in to cater (who else?). On the Parlour menu: Raspberry and White Choocolate; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; Mint Choc Chip; Hokey Pokey; and Rainbow Sherbert (the much parent-friendlier version of that ghastly rainbow ice-cream that just seems to talk only to children!).

The best part – making D-I-Y sundaes from jars filled with mini marshmallows; meringues; M&Ms; Maltesers and smashed chocolate honeycomb; topped off with Flake, Wafers, 100s and 1000s, Choc sprinkles or Rainbow sprinkles and Nana’s Hot Chocolate Fudge or Uncle Luke’s best Butterscotch sauce – or all of the above! Wooden spoons stamped with `yum!' and `cool' were a fun touch.

The rest of the party buffet included ice-cream cupcakes (baked in cones), home-made marshmallow sherbert cones; paper cones filled with trail mix (popcorn, pretzels, m&ms); chocolate brownies; fruit salad (served in vintage ice-cream cups found on etsy); mini hotdogs; mini B-L-Ts and vanilla milkshakes.

I created Mia's birthday cake from a book I’ve had in my collection for many years – Anna Von Marburg’s `Happy Birthday’ – adapting the `flavours’ to suit the colour palette – chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and neapolitan. Many at the party mistook it for real ice-cream and hurried me along to get it served before it melted. The original design actually does use scoops of ice-cream, but I crafted these scoops from cupcakes and so avoided a melting mess!

We decorated an outdoor party tent with bunting sewn from sweet ice-cream themed fabrics and giant ice-cream cones fashioned from paper lanterns and cardboard. I recall having a string of games planned - including a lovingly created felt version of `put the cherry on the ice cream cone' - only to discover that a bunch of five-year old friends, a backyard to run in and the freedom to create an ice-cream sundae of their dreams was about all that was necessary. We did manage a round of pass the parcel, the layers of which revealed a fun button badge for each player.

Personalised favour boxes were filled with old-fashioned sweets including those great chewy ice-creams, milk bottles, and creamy chupa chups, plus kawaii-style ice-cream stickers and erasers and for the girls, button hair ties I made with the cutest Japanese fabric – ice-creams of course!

This photo makes my heart happy everytime I see it and reminds me why it is we do what we do - such joy a birthday party can bring to a child.

Wherever you are in the world - whether you have already bid a fond farewell to summer, are hoping for all its sunshine-y beauty to linger a little longer with you too, or just wishing it would hurry up and hug you with its warmth - we wish you joy and a big bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream! With whipped cream and fudge? You bet. xo

Monday, February 14, 2011

A love note

Hello friends

It's been a little while. OK, it's been a long while. Gulp.

All this time we've been wandering, we knew that one day our heart would lead us back to you. And on this day that celebrates `happy hearts' so it is that it feels right to be here again.

We are well. Thank you for asking after us. And we hope that you are too.

We have been nervous to know if the words would come easily – after all, somewhere in the haze of the summer that will soon pass, our words have been elusive. Clouded. Quiet, but noisy all at once.

For so, so long, if you might ask us how we were, our answer would always be `crazy busy'. Our lists were long. Boring long. Boring answer.

Then busy got tired. And crazy yearned for calm.

And so without intention to be gone so long, we simply unplugged for a little while. We switched off the background noise that was drowning out our voice. If you like, we went in search of the acoustic version of ourselves.

And found it looking up at us. With piggytails and giggles; wisdom and charm.

So we've been working on making busy look different. Good different.

And we are striving to make our list shorter. Simpler. More or Less.

More loving and listening and learning and laughing with our babies –they soon will be grown.

Less `not now's, `in a minute's, `hurry up's, `maybe tomorrow's.

More sleep. Less to eat!

More `love to's. Less `have to's.

And of course, more, more, more of pretty. And party.

So if you open the mailbox today and pick up our little love note, know that we have missed you. We come back here with the happiest of hearts. And we look forward to the times when we can be here to share a little something with you. We just hope you like acappella!

And because a love note is always more wonderful with happy snaps folded within, here's a few of our favourite `happy heart' images from recent weeks – all created by home grown talent and just as sweet on any day of the year.

Image credits: Clockwise from top left - Just call me Martha; Bubble and Sweet; Just call me Martha; PolkaDot Prints; Style Me Gorgeous; Bubble and Sweet; Hello Naomi; Eat Drink Chic; The Paper Tie Affair

Happy Valentine's Day. May your heart be happy today and always. xo

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Halloween Inspiration - A Feast of Treats!

When we lived in America, my kids adored the fun of Halloween. Changing their minds every day for weeks beforehand about what they were going to dress up as. Deciding who we would trick or treat with and where to go - you can get candy anywhere but we used to love visiting friends in the historic Capitol neighbourhood of Olympia, Washington where every year we would marvel at how everyone was even more creative than last year in decorating for the annual spookfest. Our favourite was the dentist's house with an enormous and elaborate display of carved pumpkins every year (including all the American Presidents) - he of course used to put toothbrushes in all of the kid's treat bags!

Now back in Australia, we still trick or treat shamelessly - it is a tradition for the kids and it is really a great chance to have a spooky celebration, complete with the fun of dress ups and sweet treats. Of course it is not much fun on our own, so we have gradually roped in neighbours and friends since moving back 5 years ago.

This year I am loving all the Halloween happenings in blogland. The roundup below should give you a few ideas for working on a spooktacular soiree of your own. Make sure you visit each of these talented party people to see all the detail they have dreamed up!

Loving this Pottery Barn Kids styling for Halloween - even if you don't have a party you can make your living room boo-tiful!

image via Pottery Barn Kids

Then there are the amazing dessert tables, many with their own printables that are available for purchase.

The TomKat Studio has two themes this year - traditional Halloween for a get together of little ones, showcased here in this fun table created by the clever Glory of Glorious Treats

image via Glorious Treats

and then this glamorous table suitable for a grown up gathering with a more sophisticated palette including purple and green and some glittery bling.

image via TomKat Studio

Sweets Indeed have done a table inspired by a vintage gothic motif (with that gorgeous purple cake!) and they also sell the most amazing Sweet Skewers at their etsy store -they have different themes throughout the year.

images via Sweets Indeed

This clever "Pink-O-Ween" table styled by Pizzazzerie, with printable paper details from Anders Ruff, gives us a new twist on traditional colours while supporting a great cause! Very cute!

image via Pizzazzerie

Anders Ruff also have another more traditional suite of Halloween paper printables (I have bought these and can't wait to use them!)

image via Anders Ruff

I think you'll love these two amazing Halloween printables from Gwynn Wasson Designs that she is offering for free - enjoy!

This one in black and yellow - love the ghoulish ghostly cupcakes -

and this one Eerily Elegant in shades of green and pumpkin.

image via Gwynn Wasson Designs

Then there is the fabulously frightening food that haunts the foodie sites at this time of year.
My favourites are Martha Stewart's ghost cake (you could spend hours on Martha's Halloween pages),

image via Martha Stewart

vampire cake pops from Bubble and Sweet,

image via Bubble and Sweet

and Mummy Oreo pops from HowDoesShe?

image via HowDoesShe?

Of course if the thought of all that printing, cutting or punching makes your skin crawl, we have some spooky details that are ready to go!

images via Details, details!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Real Hip Decor: Cupcake Liner Pom Poms

So while we know Tissue Poms have been hot property in the land of party blogs for some time and while we have been taking orders for them left, right and centre since we began stocking them, we couldn't resist sharing this very clever adaption of these essential party pretty.

Heidi, from Made by Heidi: Sew. Craft. Create. has a guest post tutorial on How Does She? showing how to turn cupcake liners (papers, patty pans, baking cups - whatever baking language you speak) into these gorgeous frilly poms!

(Image from Made by Heidi: Sew. Craft. Create. via How Does She?)

Now I must say that I tried this and I have some tips to share:

1. Try the glue gun - I think it gives you a more precise glue spot than the craft glue I used.

2. Pay close attention to Step 4 - I missed this in my quick perusal of the instructions and it is difficult to do when the craft glue is wet (again maybe better with glue gun) but ensures that really full ruffled look.

3. I am going to try another one and use pins instead of glue - I think this would work as well and perhaps be a little quicker.

You can try your own by following the instructions here.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Real Hip Hooray: Gloriously Imperfect

The lovely and stylish Steph over at Bondville hosted her daughter's third birthday earlier this month. I had to giggle at her post about her best intentions for decorating and how some friends swooped in to save her at the last minute - I think we've all been there.

It is casually styled and sweet in its simplicity, but still a celebration with lots of little details that make it special and memorable for the birthday girl!

My favourite is the cake - totally achievable for every aspiring cake diva, but pink and pretty with chocolate involved - doesn't get any better.
You can see all the details here.

I also found this lovely simple baby shower that Steph posted earlier in the year. Again some gorgeous details - but you had me at the freckle cups!
(All images via Bondville)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hooray(s) for Saturday

So amidst the chaos of moving to our warehouse, the accompanying activity that a 25% off everything housewarming sale brings, and plans for one of us to take a very well earned escape with her family, we have neglected our dear friends here. Just in case you have been busy bees along with us, we have this wrap up for you of what is catching our attention in the world of celebrations this week (or the last two weeks as the case may be - I started this blog post last Saturday and ended up staying with my four year old in hospital for three days - another distraction!)

Loved this trend alert from Celebrations at Home.

(image from Amy Atlas via Celebrations at Home)

On a smaller (but just as sweet) scale, this reminded us of the vintage ribbon bunting we did for Mathilda's Market in April this year. We usually decorate the market and used hanging pinwheels in the doorways and this pretty bunting to line the garden beds in the outdoor seating area.
Also loving

An adorable country wedding here - can't decide my favourite thing - the quilt-backed photobooth or the gift wagon!

This divine first birthday complete with adorable birthday girl and inspired photography.

These oh-so-sweet wee wedding cakes including beautiful stands and darling decoration.

A cute and colourful beach party - with summer on the way here, some great inspiration for fun in the sun!


The second edition of this wonderful e-zine - can't wait for the Christmas edition! While browsing I found this very cool artist - can't decide which to order first but my guess is it will be "The Best Things in Life Are Sweet"!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Real Hip Hooray: A lovely ladybird's garden

The promise of Spring fills the air this week. Can you feel it? And it's not even so much about the weather where we are from - it's actually kind of lovely warm-ish all year round - but rather that wonderful intangible something that puts a little skip in one's step. The promise of new growth and new babies, of morning walks and longer days, of lighter, somehow happier clothes, of clean cupboards, airy linen and the scent of blossom on the breeze.

What a lovely time of year to party in the garden.

We are playing a little catch-up on sharing with you some of our favourite Real Hip Hoorays from recent weeks. And while it is certainly possible you have already smiled at this sweet soiree held in Ella's ladybird garden, if there was even a chance that you might not have seen it yet, we could not live with ourselves if it passed you by. Besides, there can be no harm done in a double dose of this kind of happy, right?

Inspired by her very own Lovely Ladybug invitation design, Suzi Waters of Alannah Rose Stationery transformed her inner Melbourne family home into a sweet garden scene for daughter Ella's 4th Birthday party. We adore the soft colour palette of pinks and lilacs against a blanket of green grass - a gorgeous twist on the traditional red and black of your average ladybird.

Tin pails, watering cans, bug catchers and fresh flowers bring to life the ladybird's garden home - watch for her nestled on flower cookies and hidden atop of cupcakes.

(All images provided by Suzi Waters, Alannah Rose Stationery)

Suzi shares more delightful images and details from this celebration on her blog.

Blue skies are promised here tomorrow and we are looking forward to a day spent with grass beneath our bare feet. The girls will reach for butterflies and peek beneath leaves in search of ladybirds. And we might just pop in to share another gorgeous outdoor celebration with you. Happy weekend xo