When Summer froze over for a fifth birthday party

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I think I blinked and suddenly Bubby was turning the big five. Bubby had been so desperate to turn five, that for the months leading up the big event, it was her first topic of discussion upon meeting anyone. “Did you know I’m nearly five?” she would inform them. “Really?” they would respond in mock surprise, as though this was not the third time they had not been informed of this momentous occasion that month. Next up would be the party discussion. “An Elsa party” she would excitedly inform them. “Really?” they would respond hiding their smirk at the pained look on my face.

Since I mistakenly created an (awesome) backyard carnival party instead of the preferred Elsa theme, Bubby has been talking up her ‘Elsa party for number 5 birthday’. There was no escaping it. That’s meant a whole year of Pintrest stalking, recipe planning and losing all the screen shots of Frozen inspired tips and tricks. Grand plans of sugar dusted snowflakes and blue crystal blades at the start of the year became frazzled post-christmas/new year exhaustion turned into heat effected splotchy chocolate Olaf arms and a sparsely decorated ‘snow’ cake. And I don’t know about you, but I also discovered there’s a serious lack of naturally bright blue food out there, so sugar and blue food dye were used unashamedly. It was a party after all.

Note: if anybody has a blue lemonade recipe that doesn’t consist of Blue Curacao (apparently not suitable for a fifth birthday party) or Koolaid please send it my way. Against my better judgement, the recipe I followed complete with image of a bright blue lagoon looking drink, did not in any way come near blue. Purple or reddish maybe. Blue? Not a chance. But in hindsight, I should have known there was no way blue & blackberries would have without some extreme artificial assistance (insert face palm).

frozen jelly

frozen snowman

frozen bread

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frozen crown

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I pulled out my favourite Sweetapolita lemon cake recipe for the birthday cake interior. White chocolate ganache held the cake layers together, with royal icing and topped with my own last minute blue-glass-shard-design-failed-so-threw-on-lots-of-silver-things styling. The rest of the food was coloured or covered blue glorious blue!

Blue layered jelly with sugar snow
Olaf yoghurt
Blue ice crystal bread
Lemon blue ice cupcakes
For the first time in forever sandwiches

And for our little Elsa’s to take home, a simple chocolate snow freckle and Pipla custom crown.

Obviously a Two Houses party isn’t complete without some piñata action. For this party we created a silver geo piñata for the kids to let loose on.

frozen pinata

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A Spring birthday party for Boo, with lots of lace…

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Our delicious little baby Boo turned two. From finding her mid-bookshelf climb to ‘singing’ at the top of her lungs whilst standing in the swing starkers, this cheeky, stubborn bundle of love has us all on our toes.

Organising a birthday party to celebrate Boo’s second birthday may, or may not have slipped to the bottom of the list amongst the many other ‘busy life’ things we had going on at the time.  I’m sure most would just say to skip to the party altogether. But the guilt of an adult Boo reminding me year after year of how she didn’t have a second birthday party meant she was having one, even if it was a week late and most guests received their invitation as they were leaving the party.

‘Busy life’ was not going to stop Boo’s birthday, but my efficient/lazy Mama tactics did set in. A simple menu, simple activities and simple decorations. Efficient/lazy shortcuts adult Boo will not be able to hold against me.

The weekend before we prepped EVERYTHING we possibly could. The cake was baked and frozen ready to be decorated, biscuit mixture was stored in the fridge and sausage rolls were rolled and ready in the freezer. This left a little preparation the day before for a few food items that needed to be completed closer to the big day, and bit for on the day too. I even sneakily asked Lex to make her delicious mini Beef Wellington pies to take the pressure off!

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Framed by a fabric lace, cream and gold garland, and floral arrangements hurriedly grabbed from the garden, the party table spread included…

A whimsical cake based on Sweetapolita’s lemon cake finished with white chocolate ganache, royal icing and floating clouds, topped by a golden number two (which unfortunately on certain angles also looked like golden poo – sigh)

Floral sparkling apple jelly

Cheesy biscuits

A mini version of Sausage rolls for superstars

Apricot marshmallows (that ended up very pink due to some guidance from Bubby)

Peach lemonade

Thank you gifts of homemade Origami Flower Kits and gold painted macrons.

We kept the littles busy with decorating their own spring headwear and of course a Two Houses party isn’t complete without a whack at a lacy number two pinata!

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Photo credit and a huge thank you to Oliver Bain Photography for capturing the day.

How to: Make a canvas storage bag

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Mess glorious mess. I’d like to pretend our home is as neat and tidy as our Instagram photos, but we all know that’s a big fat lie. We do however have the amount of stuff shown in this picture and then some. And then some more. This canvas storage bag helps keep it in check and looks pretty good while it’s at it.

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To make this approximately 32.5 cm square x 50cm high storage bag, you will need:

Primed artist canvas
Fabric for appliqué
Scissors
Pinking shears
Pins
Pencil
Sewing machine
Matching thread
Tape measure or ruler
A 15cm bowl or other round object to use as a template

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Measure out and cut a long rectangle 130cm long by 50cm high and a 32.5 by 32.5cm square.

Trace a circle using the bowl or other template on your appliqué fabric and carefully cut out.

Measure along the rectangle about 49cm and 20cm high and make a small pencil mark. This should be roughly the centre of what will be the front of the bag. Pin your circle to the canvas, adjusting the alignment if you need to and sew.

Pin the bottom edge of the rectangle along the edges of square until it meets itself. Pin the ends of the rectangle together.

Stitch down along the ends of the rectangle down to the square to form the side seam, then stitch along the bottom seam.

Trim the side seam with the pinking shears before turning the bag right side out. Roll over the top edge to form a double fold at your preferred height. Fill with stuff.

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A backyard birthday carnival

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Birthday_03My Bubby has just turned four. That’s four years of this amazing little girl being in our lives and well, four years of being her parents is definitely worth celebrating. And so a party we had.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love party themes – it helps inspire me with cake, food and decorating ideas. Last year when I asked Bubby what kind of party and cake she’d like, the most I could get from her was ‘a pink one’. Not very helpful on her part, but she got her pink(ish) party. This time around, knowing her answer would still be the same, I couldn’t bring myself to ask her. I’m sorry Bubby, but pink was so last year.

A visiting circus was in town, and after a bit of Pinterest stalking, a carnival theme quickly became a great idea. I’m still not ready to completely let loose on bright colours so compromised with myself on ‘Vintage Carnival’. With gorgeous costumes, decorations and spread of activities, we had a fun-filled day of Carnival chaos!

Carnival FolkBirthday_13 Birthday_22Mini tightrope walkers and Mama ClownBirthday_25 Birthday_18The Ring Master Lex and Clown Glenn with their assistant Little G

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Despite several years of hard work, our backyard is still very much a work in progress but with the help of the trusty family marquee and a few decorations, this landscaper’s delight was transformed into a magical Carnival. Dave came through with the goods on a carnival stand and ring toss game constructed using part of our back fence, his stash of homebrew bottles and some rope. And we’ll just pretend the overgrown grass and dandelions was part of the ‘field’ look…

Bobbing for apples quickly became lets throw the apples in and see them splash!

This classic Clown Pinata was developed from my  How to: make a Rose Pinata using felt, white tissue and crepe papers, a clown nose and paper hat with felt balls.

Popcorn for sale at the Carnival stand.

Party hat making with all the trims.

Bringing back our 80’s childhood hoola-hooping expertise!

Balloon making by Lex and Glenn

Party bags – a tassel wand, gold dusted seal biscuit, animal pencil and a clown nose

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A Carnival Cake – based on Sweetapolita’s birthday medley, the cake was constructed with raspberry jam between layers of blue funfetti stars, pink amarena cherry and rich chocolate. Fondant icing was decorated with hand painted green, blue and gold and finished with handmade flowers and elephant cake topper.

My favourite Nigella biscuits finished two ways – Elephants and stars dipped in coloured melted chocolate sprinkled with pearlescent drops and seals in gold dusting.

Freshly cut watermelon stars and blueberries

Strawberry jelly with blue chocolate shooting stars

Mini hot dogs with mustard

Sausage rolls with homemade tomato sauce

Medley of candied and buttered popcorn

Photo credit and a huge thank you to Oliver Bain Photography for capturing the day.

How to: Make a Driftwood Christmas Garland

Festive christmas styling
Christmas styling

This Driftwood Christmas Garland is a simple, elegant decoration included in my Last Minute Christmas Styling ideas for TasMagazine. Here’s how to put together your own…

You’ll need:
2 Star shaped cookie cutters
2 bundles Copper embroidery thread
1 A3 sheet copper cardboard
Needle
Scissors
Ruler
Strong beading thread
4 Pine cones with stems (preferably sun bleached like your driftwood)
A mix of gold beads with matt finish and clear deep green shaped beads
A medium sized piece of driftwood
Sage coloured flat knitting thread

Using found objects and everyday cookie cutters
Using found objects and everyday cookie cutters

Cookie cutter decorations
Wind the copper thread around the sides of the cookie cutter, twisting the thread as you go so it unwinds and lays flat against the cutter. Continue until the whole cutter is covered and tie off the thread. Tie beading thread in a length suitable for your hanging. Repeat for the second star.

Before and after
After and before
Wrap the thread around the cookie cutter
Wrap the thread around the cookie cutter
Completely wrap the cookie cutter until it has a new finish
Completely wrap the cookie cutter until it has a new finish

Paper flowers
Cut the copper cardboard into strips 2cm x 29.7cm (the short length of an A3 sheet). Fold the ends of a strip to meet in the middle. Pierce through the 4 layers of card about a cm off the folded end and thread onto the needle. Keep adding the folded pieces of card onto the needle until you have 7 strips of card (all folded) and then pull the thread through and tie in a knot. Cut the thread off, leaving enough attached to the flower so you can hang it. Fan out the folds until you have a looped circle. Repeat for the rest of the paper strips, each flower will have 7 strips.

Fold the paper strip over
Fold the paper strip over
Thread the folds onto the needle
Thread the folds onto the needle
Fan the folded paper out into the flower shape
Fan the folded paper out into the flower shape

Pine cones
Cut a length of beading thread long enough to suit the hanging length. Tie off one end of the beading thread to the stem of the pine cone. Thread on the first bead and loop it back through to hold it in position down close the pine cone steam. I’ve chosen a semi-random pattern to place my bead in, so add the next beads as you like, remembering to loop back through the first bead after the gaps. Repeat for the remaining pine cones.

Driftwood
Wind the sage thread around sections of driftwood. Tie off each section so the knot is hidden to the back of the branch.

Assembly
You’ll need two hanging points to hang your garland from. Tie 2 lengths of beading thread to each end of your drift wood to suit the distance of the hanging points.

Lay your driftwood on the floor as though it would against the wall. Arrange the decorations in position then tie off to the driftwood, looping the beading thread so the decorations can be repositioned once hung up.

Carefully lift the driftwood with the decorations attached and tie off to your hanging points on the wall. Adjust the positioning of each decoration and when you’re happy with them, tie off and trim the excess thread.

Space the shapes out to suit your driftwood
Space the shapes out to suit your driftwood
Hange the shapes at different lengths
Hang the shapes at different lengths
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When you wish upon a star…

 

Last minute Christmas styling – Featured in TasWeekend Magazine!

Pip's Christmas styling in TasWeekend
Last minute Christmas styling in TasWeekend

I’ve been a little in denial, but it’s well and truly Christmas time. I’m back at my Interior Architecture position, and now with two small children and my own children’s accessory business to manage, Christmas this year has had to be organized on the run.  I love to make sure I’ve selected decor that can be set up the night before and a menu easily prepped ahead of time, leaving me a moment to hang about with Dave and the girls before the excitement of the big day begins. If you missed getting your hands on a copy of TasWeekend Magazine to read about my concepts for last minute Christmas styling in Sally Glaetzer’s article – here’s the low down…

Simple succulents make for an exquisite Christmas centrepiece – Photo by Sam Rosewarne (courtesy of TasMagazine)

Table Styling
Metallics are stunning either as the table feature or accent pieces. I’m especially in love with the metallic paired with soft pastels. For this table setting I’ve brought together classic décor and dinnerware I have at home, with a couple of key feature items.

Classic white damask table cloth layered with a soft grey linen table runner and deep  grey cloth napkins. White dinner plates dressed with a succulent bouquet. Antique silver and bone cutlery and elegant vintage champagne glasses. Keeping it simple but beautiful works for me like including this living wreath as a statement centrepiece. The wreath is created from succulents by Botanical’s Kate Sice and accent table pieces including geometric wire decorations and candles in copper holders from Deb at Grey and Felt.

Christmas Decorations
Found objects and papers are fantastic for creating your own Christmas decorations with. Sparkly metallic papers and card can be used to make simple yet striking ornaments and brighten the soft weathered timbers which add that warmth and texture to any room. This driftwood Christmas wall hanging is an elegant way of using found objects from our local beach with the house hold cookie cutter and some craft supplies. Make your own with the details in my How: to make a driftwood Christmas wall hanging.

Festive christmas styling
Festive christmas styling
Gentle pastels with a hint of metallics make a stunning combination for Christmas decorations Photo by Same Rosewarne (courtesy of TasWeekend)

 

Another contemporary take on the traditonal decorations is Botanical's artichoke and holly wreath. Photo credit Sam Rosewarne
Another contemporary take on the traditonal decorations is Botanical’s artichoke and holly wreath. Photo credit Sam Rosewarne (courtesy of TasWeekend)

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Living Wreath supplied by:
Botanical | 139 Macquarie St Hobart Tasmania | T: +61 03 6223 4445 | enquiry@botanicalhobart.com.au

Copper holders supplied by:
Grey and Felt | 169 Sandy Bay Rd Hobart Tasmania | T: +61 03 6224 9929 | greyandfelt@internode.on.net

Christmas Stockings supplied by:
Pipla | pipla.bigcartel.com | piplastudio@gmail.com | Instagram piplastudio

How to: Make a rose piñata

Birthdays were always really, really special occasions for us growing up. From the moment we woke up, Mum would have made sure our day was filled with fun birthday celebrations – an awesome cake, delicious food (of course), games, decorations and sparkle, and always with lots of friends and family.

After a go with the blind fold, let them swing at it with both eyes open!
Trust me. The little kids don’t need the blind fold.
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And the goodies begin to fall!

Now that I have my own children, I realise how much effort that must have taken her every year coming up with new party ideas for the three of us, let alone pulling off everything that goes with a party. But these fond memories encourage me to think creatively about creating the same wondrous experiences for our girls.

Being a designer, concocting up decorations and pretty food isn’t so hard, but suitable party games for 1-10 year olds has had me stumped. Thankfully after a couple of unsuccessful pass the parcel attempts at Bubby’s first and second birthdays (big tears), I’ve cottoned onto the piñata craze. It’s awesome. The kids get to bash something and everybody gets some goodies. Last year I bought one, but there are only limited designs readily available here and after something to fit in with a yellow rose theme for Boo’s first birthday, I decided to create my own.

A rose piñata

Even though small children love to wave the piñata stick around, they don’t really have enough force to make more than a dent. So the trick with this piñata is to use just enough tape and glue to keep everything in place (with a little extra on the bottom to hold the weight of the fillings), but not so much they can’t break it apart.

You will need:

Thick cardboard with a corrugated centre
Yellow crepe paper
Yellow tissue paper
White tissue paper
Scissors
Sticky tape
Glue
Wool or string

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Old boxes work perfectly for this!

Draw 2 large circles approximately 50cm diameter and a 12cm x 45cm rectangle on your cardboard and cut out neatly. Poke 2 holes through one circle near the top and thread through your wool or string leaving enough to hang it up securely on the party day.

Make a couple of holes and thread through your wool. Before you start covering it...
Make a couple of holes and thread through your wool. Before you start covering it…

Roll the rectangular strip into a tight roll to give it some curl. Starting from just above the underside of the circle (but not the very bottom), tape the strip along the edge of 1 cardboard circle, forming the strip to the curve as you go. Remember to use only just enough tape to keep it in place, with extra to the bottom half to help carry the weight of the goodies that will go inside the piñata when its finished. There will be a gap between the ends of the strip – this so you can fill the piñata after is decorated. Tape the second circle the top side of the strip to form a shallow cylinder.

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Even though small children love to wave the piñata stick around, they rarely have enough force to make more than a dent. So the trick with this piñata is to use just enough tape and glue to keep everything in place, but not so much they can’t break it apart.

Cut a 12cm wide x 65cm strip of crepe paper and glue over the piñata sides leaving 5cm flaps either end to cover the opening. When complete you can tuck these in and cover up where you’ve snuck the treats in.

Leave some overhang eitherside of the opening.
Leave some overhang eitherside of the opening.
Tuck the flaps up once the pinata is filled with goodies.
Tuck the flaps up once the pinata is filled with goodies.

While still folded up, cut the remaining crepe paper into 5cm strips. Make 3cm deep by just under a cm wide cuts in each of bundle – these will unravel to form the fringe. Unwrap the first bundle part way and glue the top half of the fringe in a strip across the bottom of the back circle. Let it over hang the circle, you’ll trim this later. Glue next strip so that the fringe of the top covers the solid section of the one underneath and so on.

Unfold the cut crepe paper strips into a delicate fringe.
Unfold the cut crepe paper strips into a delicate fringe.
Glue the strips on so the fringe covers the solid half of the one underneath.
Glue the strips on so the fringe covers the solid half of the one underneath.

When the strips get to where the top of the opening is on the side, glue the start of the next strip to the front circle, and wrap over the sides, then glue to the back circle, wrap over the other side and glue the other end to the front circle. Keep covering sides and back face with fringe until the whole back face is covered. Trim the bottom fringes to the shape of the circle.

Wrap the fringe over the sides.
Wrap the fringe over the sides.
Cover the back and sides with the fringe strips.
Cover the back and sides with the fringe strips.

Cut out a petal shape in the white tissue paper that is large enough to overhang the circle. You’ll need 24 white petals. Starting from the top, lightly glue 8 petals down leaving a gap between each. Glue the remaining 16 over each petal so you have a layer of 3 petals. The aim is to stick the petals on, but letting the tissue paper petals look like they’re layered and not flat.

Layer the petals.
Layer the petals.

Cut out a similar petal shape in the yellow tissue paper, again large enough to overhang the circle. You’ll need 16 petals. Glue 8 of these in a similar fashion spacing them between the white ones. Lightly glue the rest over the top.

Cut out a smaller petal shape in the yellow tissue paper, with one pointed end. You’ll need 16 petals. Fold these in half lengthways to form a crease. Fold a petal in half and apply glue to one side, then press a second folded petal on top. Unfold the petals to form an upside down paper aeroplane shape. Repeat until you have 8 of these. Glue these in position between the yellow petals, making sure the pointed ends meet in the centre.

Glue the petals together like an upside down plane.
Glue the petals together like an upside down plane.
Glue the petals in position between the yellow petals, making sure the pointed ends meet in the centre.
Fill it up!
Fill it up!

Fill the piñata with awesome goodies – this year I stuck with a couple of types of chocolate in yellow wrappers and yellow sherbet, but you can mix it up a bith with small trinkets like stamps and rubbers. Tuck the flaps back up to hide the opening. Hang the piñata securely off a strong tree branch, or as we do off our pinned down swing set. Handing over a big stick or bit of timber dowel, blind fold the big kids and be prepared to have a round where you just let the little ones have a swing at it with both eyes open. Trust me. The little kids don’t need the blind fold.

And the best bit for me, was after finding out I’d made the piñata , the sweetest little guest whispered to me that she thought it was a bought – because it had tassels and all!

Ready to party!
Ready to party!
Hit big Bubby!
Hit big Bubby!