Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Real Hip Hooray: Milk and Cookies

Yesterday, our little Zoe celebrated her second birthday with the menu of her wildest, two-year-old dreams - Milk and Cookies. For breakfast. For lunch. For afternoon tea. For dinner. And, ummm, for breakfast again this morning!!

Against a backdrop of chocolate-chip inspired polka dots and shades of burnt butter, chocolate, caramel and vanilla, I created this little spread of home-baked goodness . . . .

I so adore polka dots - a classic party companion which can be both youthful and playful or extremely elegant. I simply can't get enough of them and gave this party a good sprinkling. When creating the invitations, I had been inspired by this gorgeous party backdrop, and imagined translating it indoors using our palette of chocolatey warmth.

Double choc-chip cookies, Polka Dots and Snickerdoodles filled jars just made for digging in. Cookie pops (oreos dipped in white chocolate) kept the kids smiling and milk bottles and marshmallows seemed the perfect lolly additions to the buffet.

Somewhere in my `I've seen that somewhere' files catalogued in the right side of my brain was the perfect cake. I was delighted when a quick dig through my magazine collection revealed a `cookies `n' cream' cake, gracing the cover of the inimitable Donna Hay Kids Magazine (5th Annual Edition, 2008). Layer upon layer of crisp-on-the-outside, gooey-in-the-middle giant choc-chip cookies and cold, sweet drippy ice-cream (Cookies `n Cream' of course!). PERFECT, right?

And if you've ever sipped your hot tea through a Tim Tam biscuit - if not, you must! - then you'll know how much fun the kids had with their petite bottles of milk and edible stripey straws. What started out as a dilemma about not having a shade of stripey paper straw to match the colour palette (gasp!) resolved in a creative moment that sneaked up on me (in the aisles of Big W!) and became a fun and fitting `cookie' detail.

We served steaming cups of hot chocolate and marshmallows and a shot or two of Kahlua to spice up the grown-up milk (I felt 18 again!). The kids toted home tins filled with milk bottles - plain and chocolate-covered, - jersey caramels, marshmallows and Twix; and grown-up guests collected their own petite cookie jar filled with Polka Dot cookies.

Baby, it was cold outside, but hearts and bellies were warm on the inside.

Happy Birthday to our very own crazy, cuddly, charismatic Cookie monster. Zoe escapes the camera lens at every turn, so this is the one and only birthday shot I managed on the day - devouring the first of four (!) Cookie pops. Like I told you, dream dinner.

Be sure to drop in again tomorrow - we have a little more polka-dot cookie goodness to share with you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Turning Two

In just a few days this sweet child of mine will be Two. My baby. My last baby. Now a little girl. A little girl with a very big personality. As affectionate as she is stubborn. As giggly as she is grumpy. As delightful as she is frustrating. As sugary as she is spicy.

Zoe Grace (5 Weeks Old)

On Tuesday we will celebrate simply with Milk and Cookies. Fittingly, two of Zoe's favourite things. Her preferred choice of dinner - if it were a menu option!

Our closest family, a few friends and our kind neighbours will be dropping in for some home-baked goodies and a warming hot chocolate.

Everything about this celebration is kind of impromptu (if you hadn't noticed the trend, that's a little how life rolls around here). As such, a phone call to our guests probably would have sufficed, but if I haven't said it before, I'm saying it now. I love, love, love Snail Mail. Packing it, sending it, receiving it, opening it. A thrill that can never be replaced by technology. So, inspired by chocolate chips and a warm and fuzzy colour palette, I made these in an hour on the couch and popped them in the post.

Then I ordered this from a sweet and clever friend. And the rest of the plan? Mmmm, still in the making.

So with visions of Whoopie Pies, Cookies'n'cream pops, and delicious chocolate chip cookies dancing in my head, I better get me to my kitchen. Enjoy your weekend xo

Hooray(s) for Saturday

Did you drop by last Saturday? Wonder where we were? Sorry we missed you. Promise we weren't sleeping in or standing you up intentionally.

Let's just say there was certainly no lazing about in jammies drinking hot cups of tea going on. Rather it was a 2am to bed and a 5.30am rise - standard procedure for our days at Mathildas Market - the gorgeous handmade market for little people.

We love being out of the `warehouse' and having the opportunity to show off some of our store pretties in the flesh. Still a favourite colour palette is this red, pink and latte combo and in the spirit of handmade (or hard-to-find) we pulled together a little display with these new (and quite adorable) personalised cupcake toppers, pretty custom ribbon garland, sweet stationery, fancy cupcake wrappers, mini ribbon cake bunting, paper garlands, stripey straws and cute spotty labels (coming soon). Please forgive the photography - Mathildas Market is staged in a delightfully historic building at the Brisbane Racing Club where character is abundant but light is not.

If you live locally and dropped by to see us, thank you - it was lovely to meet you. If you're a little further away, then we thought you might like to spend this Saturday morning meeting a few of our favourite finds from Mathildas Market Brisbane - hooray for handmade!

Fancy Tea? Sugar with that? How about your own perfectly pretty, vintage china collection?

A bling Tee for your favourite party theme.

Make somebody's letterbox happy with one of these.

Or these.

Hanging around looking gorgeous.

I own one. Most favourite gift ever. (Perhaps a kitchenaid would compete!)

The perfect backyard party venue. Just add (imaginary?) friends and cupcakes.

Standout fashion for the guest of honour.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hello Sunshine

Image via Eat. Drink. Chic

I'm with Amy. It's certainly a little dark and grey around here today. And slightly chilly.

Winter in Brisbane passes in the blink of an eye, coming and going quicker than you've had a chance to even think about getting the woolies out of storage. Up here, Summer seems to always be lurking quietly around the corner waiting for it's chance to sweep Winter away for another year.

But Summer must be sleeping in today - and letting Winter do it's thing for just a little while. So if it's a little grey where you are too, head over here and get you some summer with these sweet printable tags. You'll even love them if it's all bright and sunshine-y where you are. Happy all round, really.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Real Hip Hooray: Flying High

I must say we were literally giddy when we spotted this kite themed first birthday party. Isn't it just a delight? Talented photographer - and party thrower! - Tracey Lau, has taken the dessert table to dizzying new heights with this incredibly original and creative party designed for son Jeremiah.

We just adore every perfect detail from the soaring backdrop to the grassy blanket beneath; the picket fences containing kite cookies and the simple elegant cake; the blue soda with those fun stripey straws and the handmade kite embellishments woven throughout the table. Oh and cloud marshmallows! Squeal!

All images via Tracey Lau

Aside from all this sugary goodness, Jeremiah's guests delighted in kite-making and decorating and were blessed with a perfect day for letting them fly. Tracey has lovingly handmade most of the creative elements of this party and kindly shares her tips and sources - and lots more `sky' candy - over at her beautiful blog.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hooray(s) for Saturday

Aah, sweet Saturday. The day to linger a little longer in my pyjamas, actually drink my tea hot, and enjoy my hubby's best-ever poached eggs anytime up to midday. The day that usually slips by a little too quickly for my liking.

Each week we stumble upon so many creative celebrations, yummy recipes begging to be recreated, divine stationery finds, or simply sweet party details. Somehow it always seems to be Saturday, when hubby is home and the kids are content to potter, imagine and create, before I am able to sit still long enough to gather and share them with you.

So in the hope that you too might get to linger a little longer in your PJs on Saturday, please feel free to drop in here for our Hooray(s)for Saturday series - a neat little round-up of what we have spotted recently that we know you'll love.

Image via Amy Atlas

Sweet, sweet, sweet indeed. Makes me thirsty for pink lemonade. (pictured)

A whole lot of party gorgeous-ness in one little box. Wow!

From one quirky tablecloth maker to another. So inspired. (via Party Perfect)

So Chic Aussie wedding has the world utterly engaged. Congrats!

I SO need one of these. My friends would be grateful.

Colour-filled (by you!) cupcakes. Happy (belated) birthday, friend.

Snail mail makes us happy. Pretty envelopes make us even happier. We're in. Are you?

Combine Matroyshka nesting dolls, handmade pompoms, pretty fabric and what do you get? The most popular blog party this week. We're sure you've seen it by now, but simply couldn't be left out of all this blog love. It's gorgeous!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hip Host: Suzi Waters, Alannah Rose Stationery

Oh, how excited we are to share with you the first of our Hip Host interview series. Along the path of our own journey in business, and now blogging, we have been inspired by many amazing people designing beautiful things, celebrating life’s occasions with simplicity and style, and most importantly creating precious memories for their families and friends.

We hope you love taking a little glimpse into the lives and inspirations of our Hip Hosts and take away a few tips each time to help celebrate your own life with style.

Suzi Waters is the talented designer behind one of Australia’s leading custom stationery brands – a favourite amongst brides for elegant, distinctive designs and now a hit with the Mums with her ready-to-write children’s invitations.

Suzi with daughters Alannah and Ella

Clockwise from top left: Alannah Rose boxed invitations for children; sweet details in Ella's room; Modern Retro wedding stationery suite; Suzi's space for creativity. All images courtesy of Suzi Waters.

As Mum to two young girls, Suzi delights in designing stunning children’s parties. Her attention to the details has captured the blogosphere – including THE Amy Atlas - with this beautiful bird-inspired soiree created for 5 year-old Alannah, the sweet namesake of both her business and the popular little Lala bird invitation.

All images via Alannah Rose Stationery blog

Tell us a little about yourself, your business and the people in your life worth celebrating
A mum to two gorgeous girls, wife to my lovely husband (my childhood sweetheart!) and owner/director of Alannah Rose Stationery. I'm a self confessed shopaholic, detail addict and control freak. I love my family, friends and my job. Alannah Rose was started 5 years ago after the birth of my first daughter - out of a need to spend more time with her and still do the work I love - design!

What has been the most memorable celebration in your life?
What were some of your favourite `details’?
The most memorable celebrations in my life were the births of both my daughters and my wedding day. Preparing for the arrival of a baby is so much fun (I cheated and found out I was having a girl - both times) and the emotions of holding such a precious life you've created for the first time is something to celebrate. And cherish. The preparation of the nursery, details in their rooms and of course their baby thank you cards were little details that I enjoyed preparing. I also of course love doing the girls birthday parties, as they get older their excitement levels grow and the joy on their faces when they see the final setting, the food, their party outfits and having fun with their friends makes it all worth it. Our parties are planned well in advance, the girls usually choose their invitation for their next party before the current one is even finished!

What are your three must-haves for creating a Hip Hooray?
Can I do four? Invitations, family/friends, cake and colour!

Are there any parties being planned in your household right now? What is inspiring you and what stage are you at in the planning?
We've recently had Alannah's 5th birthday, so plans are now in place for Ella's 4th birthday in July. She's chosen the invitation (one of the new designs!) and I'm finding lots of inspiring things that will tie in nicely. I tend to just pick up pieces here and there when I see them and try to stick to a main colour theme. Today I picked up some table cloths and pots in the colour I'm working with, and so it begins! (by the time the party arrives I have a big box of goodies!)

Could you share some of your favourite resources for creating a Hip Hooray?
Oh so many!
Details Details! of course for little extras like paper decorations, plates, table runners etc.
I love Ikea - you can pick up basic pieces in white that look great with ribbon tied to them, flowers put in them, etc, just use your imagination!
Invitations from Alannah Rose, of course! :)
For Cakes, in Sydney Sweet Art are fabulous, in Melbourne I use Jodie at Designer Cakes in Donvale.
And Etsy for little hard-to-find pieces.

Do you prefer an intimate dinner party or catering for a crowd?
I really love a simple dinner party, fine food, friends and chat, but with small children and crazy bed time antics, that doesn't happen too much at our place, so catering for a crowd is the norm at the moment and I embrace it and love it for what it is, a super fun, big day!

What’s your party drink of choice?
For kids? Water! But is it their favourite? probably not. I usually use Mini Pops for the kids parties, they are preservative and artificial colour free, easy for the younger kids to use and eliminate spills!
For me? Champagne - preferably French!

Who would be on your guest list for the ultimate dinner party – any four people?
Oh, hard question! Richard Branson. Amy Atlas. Jamie Oliver. Kylie Minogue. (I'm assuming I'm already there!)

If you could be a guest at a Hip Hooray anywhere in the world, which would it be?
Corny possibly, but the Oscars! Glamour, fashion and excitement all rolled into one.

Where do you draw inspiration for your beautiful stationery designs and stylish parties?
I'm renovating at the moment, so spend a lot of time pouring over home magazines and weblogs. Being a shopaholic, a trip to the stores can be quite inspiring - I'm the crazy one eyeing off the visual merchandising displays rather than the store contents!

What is your favourite colour palette?
Red and Pink is my favourite at the moment for the girls.

What’s coming up next at Alannah Rose Exclusive Stationery?
Lots of things! We are excited to have just launched some new party designs and there are more secret things, so stay tuned!

What gift is on the top of your own Birthday wish list this year?
I have already celebrated my birthday this year and got everything I wished for! Lunch with friends, dinner with family, new boots and a holiday!

And finally, do you have a tried and tested, never-fail party recipe you could share with our readers?

Gingerbread Shapes

125g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup golden syrup
2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 box Orchid roll out icing
food colour of choice
cookie cutter in shape of choice

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10-12 minutes or until light and creamy. Add the golden syrup, flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda and beat until a smooth dough forms. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough between sheets of non-stick baking paper to 4mm thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes from the dough. Place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 8–10 minutes or until golden. Cool on trays. to ice, add colour to packet icing and knead through. Roll out and cut with same shape as used for gingerbread. Stick on cooled ginger bread shapes with sugar paste (sugar/water). Display on plates or put in cello bags with ribbon for pretty take home favour. Makes approximately 22.

Yummo! Thanks so much Suzi - delighted you could kick off this little series for us.

Here’s a little more of Suzi’s beautiful party design – head over to her blog for the full details and to keep up with beautiful new things in the world of Alannah Rose Exclusive Stationery.

Images via Alannah Rose Stationery blog

In the window: What's the Buzz?

So, you'd be forgiven for thinking the windows might be a little dusty around here.

Truth is we've been busier than ever filling the store with new releases and old favourites and would love for you to press your nose up against the glass and take a look - we promise not to make you sneeze!

This week we're buzzing with excitement over the arrival of these adorable new invitations from Alannah Rose Exclusive Stationery.

The humble bumble bee has been elevated to new heights of garden party stardom in recent times and we have spotted some beautiful, creative parties inspired by this little guy in his handsome striped suit.

This fun theme would work perfectly for a sweet baby shower, naming day / christening celebration or of course a birthday for either boys or girls and of any age.

Style it up with an (obvious!) colour palette of classic black and canary yellow

Image credits: Top - Amorology Weddings , Middle and bottom - via TomKat Studio

or twist it up a little with a softer, more modern mix of lemon, white and grey. So in love with this colour combination right now - bees or no bees!

Image credits: Top - Homelove via Imprintables, Middle - via Imprintables, Bottom - via DaisyChain

This Buzz Buzz Bee also has a new Lovely Ladybird friend - ain't she a cutie?

Pop by later to catch up with the very clever Suzi from Alannah Rose Exclusive Stationery in our very first Hip Host interview - you'll love the tips (and recipe!) she has to share with us.