Category Archives: Baby + Child

Designs for the smaller inspirations of our life

How I begin planning a birthday party

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Hudson, 1year photo by Dave Lamarand www.lamarandstyle.com

Hudson’s 4th birthday has snuck up on me this year.  I usually have a few ideas for what theme or gifts he might like bouncing around in my head way before Christmas, but there really wasnt any more room for more thoughts this past December!  I realized his birthday was a month away and I had no theme, no gift idea, no date, no location…..luckily Im pretty seasoned at this, instead of freaking out I just got started.  I thought that since I was at the very beginning of my party design process that I’d document it and share.

First of all I had to get Hudson to give us a theme.  It went sort of like this:  “Hudson, its almost time for your birthday, what kind of party do you want?”  Hudson age 3years 11months:  “a red bird and a blue bird and a black bird party”  He then got to work and drew me this picture:

Hudson Bird party drawing

Clearly there is a bird, he tells me that the orange parts are a house (duh) and I got excited when I thought he drew blue party chairs, (CHAIRS!! Im a chair fanatic if you didnt already know) but those are “short caterpillars”  and at the bottom are green checks.  So you see, he pays attention to my methods and habits, I make a lot of lists!

Hudson is a cool little kid that doesnt take that long to make a choice and he STICKS with it.  I refrained from saying “Sorry Baby, a bird party is not on my grand party list of themes that Ive fantasized about since having you” but I did show him some parties on Spaceship and Laser Beams, a party site that specializes in only boy party themes and printables.  I asked him what he thought about some specific themes, hoping that he would like something from my grand party list.  There was one image of a monster party that he got excited about and that was that.  He liked it, I liked it and its on my list! Hudson is having a Monster Bash party this year and since that night it is all he talks about.

There are plenty of party check lists out there for timelines of when to do what to get it all done.  I dont really work like that. I do have an order in which the process has to happen and I have a rule about sending invites 2 weeks before.  But thats about it.  I think the least amount of start to finish time I ever accomplished a project was a dessert table for Macy’s 5th grade Luau in 2 weeks and it rocked!  I can easily think of many parties that I started on 2 months or more in advance.  I do know one thing, the longer I have to plan and design a party the more it ends up costing, so short on time really means less time to shop and thats not a bad thing!

First things first, I always start with an inspiration  that comes from something personal about the guest of honor.  Last year was easy, Hudson was obsessed with superheros.  This year he doesnt have a current favorite toy but we always have a few favorite books.  The Monster That Lost His Mean by Tiffany Strelitz is a great book that we all love.  Besides the message I adore the colors and illustrations by Kristie Edmunds.    So I wanted that book to be the spring board for our party.  I pin and pull images into a desktop file like everyone else and if I have the time I like to make mood boards.  Even my husband doesnt really understand my vision sometimes unless I do a mood board.

So here is my mood board and Im super happy that there are a ton of inspiring Monster Bash parties out there and even the perfect printable set on etsy to be the imagery for Hudson’s party.

Hudson 4th bday board

This post is already lengthy enough so I wont describe each item but  I am working in a different way with this party.  We will be having it at a local cafe and I will not be allowed to bring in my own cake and cupcakes!!! OH NO what will I do?? Dont worry, it will be fine.  Im pretty sure simple fondant toppers on the cafe’s cake and cupcakes will satisfy our guests and my discerning eye.  Plus Im looking forward to all of the benefits of a party thats not at home…like not having to clean up my apartment!!

In addition to the mood board I have a list that I refer to when Im forming the initial design of a party.  I think about all the party supplies I will need to find or make.  Which ones will work or not work for my party, which ones I think should be spectacular or just supportive in the theme.  Knowing what products are readily available is a good way to make a budget and keep myself on track for my favorite part, the hunt and gather!    Ive made a cute little check off sheet to share and included my favorite party supply resources below.  Whether you are in NYC or not you can check out any of them online, most of the time their speciality items are worth the shipping.

Intial Design check list

NYC Local Stores:

Online Only Resources:

Happy party planning, more details to come!

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Filed under Baby + Child, Celebrations

Baby Shower Cookies

I’ve never really been interested in cookie decoration.  Its only last year that I attempted my first royal icing cookie.  I think one of the reasons is because I never saw many tips online at baking sites, I was probably more focused on cakes though.   I’ve known how to make and use royal icing for a long time, I just never knew the correct recipes for consistency, I experimented until I got it right. And often wasted too much icing doing so.   That is probably why I never craved creating cookies with it, I found it very frustrating and draining to make two batches of icing: one to outline, one to flood.  Besides, I don’t have a very steady or a strong hand for piping bags, which is why I leaned toward fondant as my medium.

I often come across beautiful cookies on Pinterest and finally realized that many of them come from a site called Sweetopia.  I just recently browsed around the site and came across the best royal icing tips ever.   First off the number one royal icing to work with is this:

image via Sweetopia

Next I have tested out the method to beat all methods for getting the consistency right for the icing. (watch Sweetopia’s video on consistency HERE) Its a 10 second test in which the icing should self heal to smoothness after you run a knife across the batch still in the bowl.  Too long to heal and its too thick, too short, too thin.  Then using a #2 Wilton tip you can outline and fill in immediately using the same icing.  Give the cookie a little jiggle and its done.  No excessive waiting, no double batches of each color. After the icing field dries overnight you are ready to pipe with that same icing.  To pipe intricate lines, Sweetopia likes to use a kopykake projector to outline any image flawlessly (watch her draw the Eiffel Tower HERE).  I do not have this projector, but it would be nice if I did!

So the last set of cookies I made to celebrate a friend having a new baby girl I used Sweetopia’s methods and tips.   While I still see room for improvement on my cookie style and technique I definitely improved my time efficiency and found the decorating to be easier and most of all enjoyable!

I choose to do a mixture of baby related cookies but I didn’t buy any new cutters.  I got innovative with a few cutters I already had. The bib is a scalloped circle with a notch cut from it and the baby shoe is a pumpkin cutter!  Macy actually figured out that the pumpkin could be turned sideways to look like a shoe and buckle.

The baby face took some time with the layers, I think I could streamline the face and background into one layer next time.  My favorite cookie was the chenille teddy bear. I’ve used Wilton tip #233 for fur before on my Where the Wild Things Are cookies, but as I started to give this teddy bear fur the icing formed more what I thought looked like a chenille fabric.  He’s sorta that messy perfection that I love about using tip #233.  After the fur is dry I flooded drops for the ears, hands, feet nose and eyes. The teddy’s bow was pipped on wax paper and dried before placing on the fur.

I wanted to give the new brothers their own special cookies and I let Macy pipe and decorate these all by herself.  Proof that if a 10 year old can decorate cookies with these tips & methods than anyone can!

Rocket ship cookies decorated by Macy!

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Toddler By Design – part two

 

I love modern childrens’ furniture.  Its a trend in juvenile products that has caught on like wildfire.  But the funny thing is, most of the popular modern pieces are reissued mid-century designs.  Something fabulous and unforgettable was happening in the 50’s.   My second child Hudson is my modern child,  I happily splurge on designer furniture for him that is a fraction of the size and cost as the originals.   My inner child lives vicariously on those indulgences without sacrificing my adult decor style.  I’ve already featured my son’s bedrooms as he progress from Nursery to Toddler, and along with a toddler comes (lots of) toys and play spaces.  Here is how I live happily with ours.

Part 2 – Play Area

While his bed and dresser are in the bedroom, Hudson’s toy box, table and chairs are in the living room.  He drags all the toys out there anyway so I decided not to squeeze them into the shared bedroom.  There’s a funny little family story about how I’ve been on the hunt for a coffee table for a few years.  With transitions in our life, moves and changes in spaces, I finally thought I was ready to pick something.  Then Hudson needed a play table and pouf!  I gained a “coffee table”, at least is looks good in my living room!

Hudson’s play area may intrude on our living room space, but I’m happy with the modern childrens’ furniture that I get to add to my collection.  Like little works of art, the Eames Elephant and Panton Junior chairs are not just pleasing on my eye, their colorful, sculptural and nearly indestructible construction are perfect for my son’s rambunctious pretend play. And like all of our polypropylene furniture, they clean up like brand new with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser.

Modern childrens’ furniture isn’t cheap.  You have to appreciate that you are paying for the design to justify buying it.  I’m a big advocate of buying licensed design products, I don’t buy knockoffs, its sorta a professional courtesy.   That doesn’t mean that I think there aren’t great designs out there without a big name designer name attached to it.  Target and Ikea are excellent companies cranking out modern and on trend products.  Hudson’s toy box is from Ikea and his table is from Target and they all look perfect together.  We also pick up more expensive items one at a time.  Obviously the pink Panton Junior chair is Macy’s, so we’ve had it for a few years.  Hudson got the orange one for christmas and the elephant for his birthday.

My kidos love building blocks, this natural wood set from Melissa and Doug, sits out in a wire basket (from Moon River Chattel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) ready to be made into an architecural masterpiece on a whim.

So there are “toy box people” and there are “cubby box people”.  I was once a “cubby box mom”, all of Macy’s toys were housed in cute little pink wooden boxes that sat on a shelving unit.  I would stress over the collections being separated properly and spend way to much time organizing it all.  I got over that and LOVE throwing all of Hudson’s  toys in the toy box now.  But it doesn’t mean that its completely an unorganized mess.  The majority of the childrens’ bedroom closet is shelving designated for board games, playsets and a few cubbies. And within the toy box, I came up with a solution to keep collections like cars, puzzle pieces, block sets & Schleich animals grouped for easy play.  I reuse the cloth pull string bags that sheets and other home items are packaged in for a few of those popular toys…..and then I toss them in the toy box, done!

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Filed under Baby + Child, City Mouse + Country Mouse, NBID

Toddler By Design – part one

Preschool of Art rendering by Nikki Berry

Just shy of 10 years ago there was a major shift in my personal design style.  After beginning design school and absorbing knowledge of design theory like a sponge, I had a gravitational pull toward modern design, especially design that spoke of a child’s delight.  My design school projects always leaned toward fanciful and whimsy, my biggest dream was to design interiors for Disney.  As I developed my senior thesis on symbolism and a child’s built environment I was inspired by Post Modernism, Maria Montessori and the grand idea that arose to create Kindergarden for children.  I would have benefited significantly to have seen the MOMA’s latest exhibition: Century of the Child, as scraping together resources for my thesis research was tough.   But my intelllectual design voice was understood and my senior project that bloomed from it was a gorgeous, modern Preschool of Art.  It was 2005 and the boom of modern children’s product had not yet taken off.  But with sources like Design Within Reach’s children’s store JAX, The MOMA store, Kido, Modernseed and Vitra my modern preschool was well furnished and flowed with symbolic references that would appeal to the child in all of us.  Little did the jury panel know, I was really just nesting for my next child.

Part 1 – Bedroom

My daughter Macy, now 10 years old, is an old soul.  Her style has always been more traditional.  She might have been a Victorian they way she likes to collect tchotchkes. So when my design style changed to modern I used the birth of my second child Hudson, now 2.5, as a reason to buy all the reissued mid-century childrens’ furniture and toys that I really wanted for myself. Giraud, Eames, Panton, Nelson and new comers Stark, Ouef, & Dwell Studio are high on my radar for Modern children’s design.  All of their products work in harmony in a home like mine where I collect mid century  and modern furniture and color is always welcome.  Where form is the priority and the history behind a piece always the price tag.  Items like the Panton Jr chairs and Eames Elephant will never be packed up and stored away when my children are older.  They are pieces of art to me.

I’d like to share how my toddler design collection is coming along.  I have already shared Hudson’s Nursery HERE.  Its a big hit on Pinterest and one of my most popular posts.  He and Macy share a room in our Brooklyn apartment, these pictures are only of his spaces.

Hudson’s side of the bedroom is in transition right now, its sort of an in-between phase for him.  While he’s done with a “nursery look”, the main components of his room aren’t ready to be replaced yet.  His Ouef Sparrow crib will soon convert to a toddler bed and he will continue with grey, green and aqua colors but I have changed out some smaller details to update his Nursery into Toddler room.  Later on I have I have ideas for a navy and orange room with bunk beds for his young boy bedroom.

Hudson’s Oliver the Owl nursery was inspired by the Dwell Studio Owl bedding. So now that his bumper and matching quilt are phased out I could work in the sheeting from the Dwell Studio collection.  We’ve also begun picking up softgoods, like the navy Star Wars pillow by Pottery Barn Kids, that we know will transition to his young boy bedroom.

We adore maps, especially the NYC MTA maps, making them art for the room was an easy addition. I just completed this awesome DIY wallcovering on the closet doors in the childrens’ room.  Look for a post on that soon.

Since I added plenty of map graphics in the room we replaced the framed vintage subway map with a circus letterpress print we pick up on a trip home to Nashville from the legendary Hatch Show Print.

We love books!  We started collection our favorite childhood classics even before we had children.  The wide window sills in the bedroom make for an easy book shelf and I used an Ikea Lack wall shelf that we no longer used as a color pop and platform to display the books.  The canvas art is my creation along with the Arctic Friends painting.  The Blue Brooklyn Brownstones illustration is from Claudia Pearson.

Im not done yet!  Check back in later for the second part of Hudson’s toddler spaces: the play area.

 

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Filed under Baby + Child, City Mouse + Country Mouse, NBID

Tea Party Treat Toppers

I am so ecstatic to share these beautiful tea party treat toppers.  Michelle at Daydream Believers, a fellow mom, blogger and crafter extraordinaire asked me to design treat toppers and cake decorations for her daughter’s 3rd birthday party.  Since we speak the same birthday party language, it was a lot of fun working out the details for the toppers with her.   Michelle used the toppers I sent to add to her own fresh-baked treats and cake, you can see her party on her site HERE.

All of the toppers were made from fondant dried hard enough to ship and still yummy to eat.  I presented Michelle with 8 sketched topper ideas, to which she chose these 3 styles.  Each one was a piece of art!  The most traditional and elaborate topper was compiled with 3 layers of fondant and tiny hand rolled roses.  So exquisite!  To add an element of formality and sparkle I painted details of golden luster dust on each topper.

The larger teapot was for the cake, Michelle added it to a Bundt cake.   I found this a very fitting cake style for a traditional tea party.  I also made oversize pearls painted with pearl luster dust.

Inspired by the beautiful colors that I mixed for the toppers I couldn’t help experimenting with some flower techniques, the results were these beautiful brooch like blooms with pearl nonpareils centers.

 

Just because you don’t have cake artist in your town, doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful sweet treats at your next party.  Ordering fondant toppers from an Etsy seller is very easy to do!  Please contact me at nberryid at gmail.com if you would like to order toppers or cake decorations of any kind.

 

 

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Filed under Baby + Child, SugarCoated

Red Riding Hood Cape

For my niece’s 4th birthday I made her a red riding hood cape.  Macy sat by me and drooled the entire time I made it.  Only because I promised her that I would make her one next did she not complain that Emma was getting such an awesome gift.  Although the gift was a surprise, I think that my sister had mentioned she wanted me to make emma a red cape one day, so I already had a little  bit of direction to get started.  Im not great at making clothes, I can do basic skirts and dresses.  Im better at embellishing pre-made clothes but I figured a cape couldn’t be that hard.  I was right, it wasn’t hard, it turned out great and I can’t wait to make Macy’s soon.  (she has already picked out the colors – navy with a kelly green lining)

I ordered the fabric for this cape from Fabric.com.  Its a great resource if you want to shop from your sofa and are not too worried about seeing the fabric first hand before you buy.  They offer free shipping after $35 and all of their fabrics seem to be discounted (at least they seem discounted compared to NYC prices).  I choose a red wool but it was the patterned lining that I had more fun looking for.  I’ve been an admirer of Amy Butler fabrics for a while but I haven’t had a project in mind for them.  This was the perfect time to try one out.  I choose Passion Lily Cerise Pink from the Soul Blossoms collection.  Which by the way, you can also get in a blue colorway wallpaper from Graham and Brown

I’m brave enough to come up with my own patterns for most projects including a cape but I decide to give the internet a whirl and see what DIY offerings were out there.  I stumbled across a crafty site called FleeceFun.com that offers free printable pdf patterns.  It had the perfect cape pattern all ready for me to download and a video tutorial to walk you thought how to do it! So how does a printable pattern work? When you download this pattern its about 15 pages to print out, you line them up and tape them together to have a full scale pattern ready to cut out.  Although I liked the fleece fun pattern, there were a few details that it lacked for me. I wanted my entire cape lined, this pattern just shows you how to line the hood.  Also I wanted Emmas cape to function more as a coat, so the edges needed to overlap not just meet.   I can’t tell you how I made all that happen for me, I just did.  Thats how most of my projects are, I just do it.

Isn’t it beautiful?

And isn’t she beautiful in it?

Happy Birthday Emma!

P.S. You can see my sister’s photography site here!

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Filed under Baby + Child, Paper + Fabric

An Eames Elephant for Hudson

Purdy Matter on one of the original 1945 plywood Eames Elephant

I’ve been in love with designs from Charles & Ray Eames since I learned about them in design school and to celebrate my graduation my husband gave me my first piece of their iconic furniture, the LCW.  Since design school, each time I get a chance to “need” a new piece of furniture I always pick out mid-century modern classics.   My history of furniture teacher said that furniture is the best investment you can make, so that could be my excuse or it’s just that I have an obsession with that era and with chairs in particular.  As Hudson’s second birthday was approaching on February 4th we were at a loss about what to get him. We felt that we over did it at Christmas and he didn’t need nor did we have any room in the toy box for more toys…..but I always have room for a new piece of furniture :)  So we decided that it was now or never, he was the perfect age to play with an Eames Elephant and if we didn’t get it now then it would not really be a toy for him later.  I just adore this little elephant and just as the rest of my mid-century lovelies Im really into learning about the history of its design.  Unfortunately doing just web research I can’t find much info on the origin of the 1945 design.  I had hoped to find a drawing or a picture of the Eameses with one of the original two prototypes.  Im sure that in a real book somewhere is all the info I want so ill be on the look out for that, until then I have a bit of history to share and I also have found some great new pictures of how people are having fun with the reproductions of this precious pachyderm.

The only known original Eames Elephant is safe in the hands of the Eames family

The plywood elephant was among a menagerie of plywood animals that the Eames designed around 1945, the same time they were designing and experimenting with splints and chairs.  But none of the creatures – elephant, frog, seal, bear and horse – ever moved beyond the concept stage.  Their fabrication was too challenging to be mass-produced with compound curves and tight angles. Two elephant prototypes were made and displayed at the Museum of Modern Art from 1945-46 and the only surviving elephant is safe in the hands of the Eames family.  To celebrate the 100th birthday of Charles Eames in 2007, Vitra decided to master the art of producing the plywood elephant and released limited edition plywood elephants, 1000 each in natural and red stained maple.

source – kandpreadme.blogspot.com

Hive modern still has a limited edition plywood elephant for sale see it HERE!

source – moderity.se

The response was overwhelmingly received and all 2000 copies sold out immediately at $1900 each!   Since the cost and limited production made for an instant collectors item, Vitra decided to develop a second series of elephants made from plastic in 2009.  A nod to the fact that the Eameses were the first to use plastic in furniture in the 1950’s and also making this new series affordable to buy for the intended user – a child!  Current pricing of the elephant is $290 and comes in red, ice-gray, white, lime and pink.  You can find them stocked and ready to ship online in stores like DWR, Hive Modern, All Modern, Modern Seed and Design Public.

Vitra Eames Elephants

This brochure for the new elephants is FANTASTIC, besides being made by a graphic design student, it has the flat pattern of the two components for constructing mini paper elephants.  So its marketed for kids but I’m thinking of all the other things I could make like….a fondant cake topper, swoon!

see the brochure HERE

If  you are a furniture lover or design professional without a child, don’t let that deter you from adding this beautiful sculptural piece to your home, it looks like a “stool” to the adult crowd or consider the Vitra miniature in either Red or Natural plywood for $185 as a book shelf decoration.

Vitra miniture

With the release of the 2007 Limited Edition elephant, Eames Demetrios, the grandson of Charles Eames and director of Eames Office and Chairman of the Eames Foundation, produced a film ” A Gathering of Elephants” to stir excitement for these beloved creations:

Hudson loves to trumpet along with the elephants and move to the african drum beat, its a great little film!

Then, just this january a second elephant film was released, “Elephant Safaris – in to the Wilds

Im excited to share that this film was brought to my attention by a tweet from Eames Demetrios himself!

Its only been a few years since the release of the new elephant and I’ve searched around to see how its being used and displayed.

Check out this playroom at the new London Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse!!

At the Vitra Design Muesum (what are Bleu and Pinky doing there?  wink wink)

I found several Flickr pictures that show this outdoor “elephant pin” from the Basel Vitra Design Museum.  They must be rearranged daily, each picture had them doing different things.   It makes the little guys seem to really have a playful personality seeing them “running around” this pin.

Singapore: Saturday In Design via How We Create

In Hong Kong, an auction of artistic re-designs of the elephants for  the ‘Ambassadors of Design’ via Alive Not Dead

And of course my own contribution to the bank of elephant images

Hudson and the Eameses

Nose to Nose with his pet elephant

This little elephant is so much fun to photograph, I can’t wait until a warm spring day when we can take him outside and take more pictures!  Hudson already loves playing with him, since the back is sloped he likes to run his cars off of it like a slide and once I caught him trying to climb through its backside, that would have been a good picture!

Eames Elephant in Ice Gray

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Filed under Baby + Child, Chairs 101, NBID