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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Filed under Baby + Child, SugarCoated

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

Vintage Handkerchief Inspired Nursery

Turquoise, lavender and peach were the request of my latest client for her nursery.  Vintage childrens’ handkerchiefs and animal planters immediately came to my mind when I envisioned that color combination.  Luckily a vintage style was also what suited my client who loves quilts and sweet girly decor.

Vintage Handkerchief Inspired Nursery Rendering by Nikki Berry

This being an eDesign service my design suggestions had to be currently available and accessible to order online.  To achieve a vintage feel from modern products I focused on the color scheme and mixed and match bedding.  Like a quilt, if the colors work together the patterns don’t matter as much.  The client prefered to have the wall paint a light turquoise and with that as a starting point I added purple and turquoise softgoods to balance out the color weights. Peach is not a color that is not currently trending in the product market, so it is to be added in the accessories and vintage finds that the client is currently searching for herself.  I did suggest to paint the ceiling a slight peach color that compliments the warm wood flooring and gives the color a purposeful presence as other peach items are curated in the room.

Vintage Handkerchief Inspired Nursery Design Board

Vintage Hankie Inspired Design Board

Drapery- Land of Nod: purple damask /Anthtropologie: white floral

Vintage Hankies – Fine Collection Store Ebay

Paint –

Fabrics – Etsty Shops: Grimmlynns & Cottonthreadfabrics.  Fabric.com: Jennifer Paganelli & Michael Miller

Quilt – Custom made by CarleneWestberg, Quiltville Etsy Shop

Lamp – Pottery Barn Kids

Knobs – Pottery Barn Kids

Rug – Land of Nod

Bird Art – Rosenberry Rooms

Pillow -Anthropologie

Bumper – Land of Nod

Crib Sheet – New Arrivals, Inc: Pinwheel Punch baby bedding

Mobile – Custom made by Nature Child Etsy Shop

Fairy Art -Rosenberry Rooms

While my client awaits her new arrival she plans to scour flea markets and antique stores for a few childrens’ handkerchiefs and animal planters in just the right colors.  In case she isnt feeling up to it, the lovely people on Etsy have got vintage finds covered.  Here are 12 vintage items that would fit right in as accessories and craft project materials for this nursery.

Vintage childrens' hankie and planters for a nursery

Vintage Childrens’ Hankies and Nursery Planters

1.Wefleaqueens Etsy Shop 2. Flintcreekvintage Etsy Shop 3. Dustylorraine Etsy Shop 4. Bbbdesigns Etsy Shop

5. Robysnesty Etsy Shop 6. Sosovintage Etsy Shop 7. Twolittleowls Etsy Shop 8. Wildwoodsummer Ebay

9. Murdups Etsy Shop 10. Bewitchingvintage Etsy Shop 11. Flintcreekvintage Etsy Shop 12. Gypsyrosalie.com

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Manhattan Cowgirl Birthday Party

Macy's 6th Birthday Cake

Fall is on its way and it has me thinking about cooler weather and fall parties.  Hot cider & cinnamon doughnuts, hay rides & barn parties.  A Cowgirl theme seems like a perfect fall birthday party theme to me.  Macy’s 6th birthday was Cowgirl themed…..but in NYC….in August…. and those city kids loved it! This is the first birthday party she had in NYC.  We had flown back home to Tennessee the previous 2 years.  If we had went to Tennessee for this party, it surely would have been in a barn, as we have plenty of family and friends with barns!  But Macy’s party was a “Manhattan Cowgirl” party, on a beautiful roof top garden of our apartment building in Lower Manhattan. This was the last party that she invited both boys and girls from her class.  Besides the heavy dose of pink the party it was gender friendly in games and activities and of course I didnt send the boys home with the pink boot favor bag…I got red ones for them and I used red and blue in some of the decorations too.

Macy's Cowgirl Birthday Cake

Cowgirl Cake

The centerpiece of the party was her Cowgirl cake made with layers of cow print, handkerchief paisley and rope detail.  The topper was a fondant Cowgirl hat.  For this cake I did a buttercream and fondant combination on the icing and decorations

Cowgirl Hat Invitation

For the invitation I choose a water colored hat by Julia D. Azar Designs.  I promise I really do make her invitations myself almost every year, but this was the year after the very labored Under the Sea shaker invitations and I needed a year off!

Lower Manhattan Roof Top Party

Macy's 6th Birthday On Our Lower Manhattan Roof Top

Who needs a barn with hay bales when you have this view for a party?  We were proud to host many parties on the roof top and club room of our building at 71 Broadway.  The view is amazing!  In the top picture the water beyond is the Hudson River and the New York Harbor.  In the bottom picture is the space that Trinity Church sits in and just to the right of the large black building you can see the Empire State building. Not visible from this picture, but we have many others, is a view right into Ground Zero.

Cowgirl (and Boy) Games

To keep the kids busy we played a few games.  “Lassoing the Horse” was tossing a hula hoop over a stuffed horse.  There was a “Stick Horse Race” in which they had to gallop (skip) to win. And a pull string pinata, I only do the pull string kind for safety (I was the kid that got hit in the face with the pinata stick growing up).  We’ve had some funny pinata stores over the years, this year the kid that grab hold of the magic string pulled so hard the pinata horses body came detached from its head.  Jake and I thought it was halirous….a few other parents watching…not so funny.

Cowgirl and Cowboy Dress up pictures

During the party I photographed many of the guests in Cowgirl or Cowboy costumes that we provided.  Some of the girls even showed up in their own cowboy boots, that made it even better.  My sister changed the color of the picture to sepia and added their names in a cowboyish style font in Picnik. Macy sent the prints as keepsakes in their thank you notes.

Macy's 6th Birthday Cowgirl Party Wear

 Planing for Macy’s party outfit is always apart of the party process.  This year she was ecstatic that we ordered her a real hat and boots from Texas!  Pairing them with a tutu and embellished tank made them more her style and her Cowgirl Party outfit was so cute that we had her picture made in it.
YA’LL COME BACK, YA HEAR!

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Woodland Fairy Birthday Party

Macy’s Woodland Fairie Party

I am so pleased to share this birthday party with everyone!    Macy’s 9th birthday was a Woodland Fairie theme.  I think that you will find it an inspiration for a Woodland Party theme for a boy or girl.   In the previous 8 years of Macy’s birthday parties I had not done a fairy theme and I wanted to get one last little girl party in before they all became Hollywood Glamour and Spa Day parties. My vision was inspired by our favorite cafe and I felt that this type of fairy theme was more appropriate for a 9 year old girl than the tutu and wings type. As always my children’s parties are a big production in our home, we begin planing sometimes months in advance and I design and make nearly everything myself.   I hope you find an inspiring idea for your next party in this post.

Woodland Fairy Invitation

After the party theme was  approved by the birthday girl, I started with searching for the invitation that would set the style.  I usually make them myself but when I discovered the perfect invitation by B. Nute productions, I was very glad to let someone else take care of it for me.  I was interested in a invitation that was a more graphically lavish than what I can create and her whimsical and vintage style was exactly what I had in mind to set the tone for the party design, you can see her site and with many other beautiful designs here.

Macy’s Woodland Cake

This Woodland Cake is an original that I designed and created.  The bottom layer is a dummy cake covered in fondant, carved and hand painted to look faux bois.  It turned out fantastic!  Painting fondant is super easy, just the color gels and lemon extract is needed.  I enjoyed rendering in watercolor in design school and found painting the fondant to be a lot like that.  In fact I enjoyed painting this dummy cake so much that I think I’m going to do a little bit of real watercolor soon!  The top cake is chocolate (macy said to represent earth!) and has a white chocolate ganache layer before I added fondant.  I started doing ganache under my fondant cakes last year and I love everyone of them!  It gives the cake a more solid surface to except the fondant and Ive found it easy to build up any uneven sides or corners in the ganche.  I achieve an almost flawless fondant covering every time!  The number 9, toadstools and grass are fondant, the flowers are purchased from my favorite cake supplies store NY Cake on 22nd street in the flat iron district and the butterflies are hand piped chocolate from this tutorial from http://www.chefmommy-brandao.blogspot.com.

Woodland Fairie Dessert Table Details

The details really do make up this dessert table, I put a lot of thought into the display and vessel type to make sure the theme was strongly represented.  Fairy Dust in glass tubes hung from the branches and were part of the favors going home with the guests, printable straw flags cut to length made a perfect label.  I found this birch covered bowl at a shop in the NYC flower district and placed florist foam in it to display the Sparkly Fairy Wand cake pops.  The soda of choice for Woodland Fairies must be “root” beer!  Mine were served with a paper straw that I know you have never seen displayed like this before! The idea came to me to place the straws in tags by B.Nute productions simply out of need, as I had not found the perfect vessel to hold them all in a group!   Wood slices are a must have on any rustic or woodland table display.  Adding decorative stones and moss, it becomes a very complete Fairy Cake display

There were a few other support areas around our home that received some party decorating as well. Favor bags of simple paper sacks and printed labels sat at the door to pass out as guests left.  I choose to not clutter the dessert table with the extra Fairy Cakes and paper goods, but still thoughtfully displayed them on our kitchen island.  Guest were greeted with a small display of nature from a cake dome full of pine cones and other dried naturals, a birds nest and flowers.

Le Petit Cake Brooklyn, NY

For brunch we walked two blocks away to the cafe that inspired the Woodland theme.  This cafe design is so amazing, I cant believe that it is only two blocks from our home, it looks like it was imported from Disney World.  I padded the party time an extra hour to work in the walk and wait for our table.

Woodland Party Decorations

To make ordering easier on us and our server I gave the girls the choose of 5 basic brunch items and wrote them on little menu cards before we headed to the cafe.  The girls just showed the card to the server to place their order, genius right?   The menu card and welcome sign I designed were compliments to B. Nute productions Woodland Fairie tags.  I found the stick boarder on a web site offering public domain images from old books called http://www.fromoldbooks.org.  The Twig pencils were part of the favors the girls took home.

Macy and I brainstormed the idea of a Treasure Hunt for lost things.  Inspired by stories of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, we came up with the idea of trinkets and magical fairy items to search for.  My favorite item was the Rattle which represents “a baby’s first laugh”.  From the story of Peter Pan, this is when a fairy is born!  Gathering the items for the treasure hunt was a treasure hunt for me!  It was a lot of fun to do and most of the items were found in craft stores.  I used a border image from http://www.fromoldbooks.org again to design the sign and treasure hunt card that complimented our other party decorations.  The images on the treasure hunt card came from http://www.graphicsfairy.blogspot.com, I love her images!

Fairy Houses Craft

The girls did a craft decorating fairie houses.  Macy has made real fairie houses in the woods at camp with Girl Scouts.  Those houses were made out of all natural materials like twigs and leaves.  We pre-painted small birdhouses dark brown to give a natural material feel but I felt that the girls would have more fun if the decorations were sparkly.

Woodland Fairy Dessert Table

Now that Macy is 9, she helps out a lot with the preparation of her parties (she made all the toadstools on the cake!).  She is a crafter like me and during one of our working days she sat beside me while I made the fabric bunting, turning my sewing scraps into fairy clothes,  They were quite impressive!  She also loves to share her opinion and ideas, for this party table she came up with the idea to place small sparkly pompoms hiding in the branches to represent our Woodland Fairies.  Our fairies were shy but you can see one of them above tucked in the berries.

What gave this dessert table its woodland presence was the sticks and wreath on the wall.  The Queen Fairy looks over the party with such grace!  I also found her from Graphics Fairy and spray mounted her to the same kraft paper as the table runner.  Tying it to a grapevine wreath made it look like a Woodland Portrait. Wondering how I got those sticks (that my wonderful husband gathered in Prospect Park for me) to hang on the wall?  I have some great pictures of how I made that and the wreath hang  that I will share in a Behind the Scenes of the Party post. I also made the felt toadstools for the dessert table and now sell them by the set on my Etsy Shop.

I hope you have enjoyed my daughters party pictures!  I have designed her parties for 9 years and my son’s for 1 year, as well as a few years of my nieces parties.  I am slowly getting all of my previous parties into blog posts, so be sure to check back often to see whats new!

 

UPDATE:  Due to much demand  I have decided to give away my treasure hunt printable for free!   You may download the file HERE

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Hudson’s Oliver the Owl Nursery

Oliver the Owl Nursery

Being an interior designer I had high expectations for myself to create a nursery for my son that was beautiful; being a craftswoman I had high expectations for myself to create a nursery for my son that was custom-made.  For Hudson’s nursery I delivered both. I named this nursery design and the owl on the quilt Oliver the Owl after Hudson’s middle name. Although I was inspired by the Dwell Owl bedding that was brand new at the time, I decided to design and make all of his softgoods myself.  The bumper, quilt, sheets, canvases, drapery & rug were created by my hands.  The framed art, mobile and dresser were also customized to better fit into my design.

This nursery started with the gray Sparrow crib from Oeuf that I had choose whether I was having a Hudson or a Olivia.  Second came the fabric, a F.Schumacher called Zeynatta Mondatta.  Actually the fabric came years before, as it was a sample I held on to from my D&D Building fabric trips. I just had to have it but didn’t know what I would ever do with it, it was fate! I ran across it one day going through tear sheets and files and I instantly knew I’d found the inspiration for his room.   In designing his bedding I had an allowance on how much of the zig zag fabric I was going to invest in, it was a very expensive fabric and luckily a fellow interior designer was able to get her hands on a yard sample for me (perks of the trade) and that helped out a bunch with the cost.  In sourcing the other fabric locally in North Carolina I was tipped on a gem of a fabric store in the middle of nowhere.  Mary Jo’s in Gastonia, NC, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went there and it takes a lot to impress me.   After the foundation theme and colors were decided, I started with product research and created an inspiration board and a board for his bedding design.  I was proud to show them off at our baby shower, it was the only way for people to know what we were up to.

 

My Initial Frame

Here’s how his nursery came together:

  • To make the bumper I went to several baby boutiques to inspect the custom designs that were displayed.  I took a hundred measurements of my crib and every bumper I ran across and I spoke with other designers about how they specify construction to workrooms.
  • The quilt is composed of minky on one side and heavier weight fabrics on the other, its meant to be more of a top piece, decorative quilt.
  • The owl applique is hand embroidered.
  • The crib sheet (and later a pillowcase) was made from a twin sheet in just the right aqua color from Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • The tab top drapery was modeled after another window panel my daughter has (super easy project).
  • The rug is faux fur that I stitched heavy weight canvas to the back so that it would lay flat!
  • We paid homage to Hudson’s namesake with artwork of a subway map of NYC, it was from a calendar that we already had and it was just the right colors.
  • The RAR rocker was on my list of must have chairs (being obsessed with designer chairs), but I was on the fence whether to go with a color or white.  White won for future versatility as it often does, but I also really love white furniture.
  • His mobile was from CB2 but I had to paint a few of the pieces blue.
  • The Koppang dresser is an Ikea Hack, customed painted in a Ben Moore oil paint that was an exact match to the Ouef crib.
  • Its fun to stumble upon something that you know is just perfect: the Foo Dog bookends are from target, the FADO ball lamp from Ikea, the Where the Wild Things Are pillow is from Urban Outfitters and my husband insisted on having an Ugly doll.
  • The paint is  Laura Ashley-Apple 6 from Lowes
  • The initial frame is another project of mine that I will talk about soon
  • Newspaper tree canvases  – modge podge, paint and newspaper, check out how I made these here

Lastly to be decided were in his room were the  canvases.  As you can imagine I had a lot on my plate making the bedding and in the back of my mind I had an idea for newspaper trees but I just couldn’t get to it before he was born.  The canvases and (as well as few other items) were completed a few weeks after we brought Hudson home but he’ll never know we didn’t have everything ready for him!

Hudson's First Shoes

35 weeks along with Hudson, Captured By Jes

Just a few weeks before Hudson was born my sister photographed me and  incorporated his special fabric.  Now a year and a half later she photographs a lot of people.  You can check out her site  www.capturedbyjes.blogspot.com

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Perfectly Pink Barbie Cake

Perfectly Pink Party Barbie Cake

Macy had a Perfectly Pink Pool Party for her 7th birthday party.  This was her second birthday cake for her 7th birthday, the first was for her actual birthday and was a Rose Petal Barbie cake, see it here.  To make this cake I had to basically design a dress first!  She wasnt elaborate but with the texture changes and flowers it turned out to be a very pretty cake.  Her oversized flower corsage on the bodice was very modern, I’d wear a dress that had a corsage like this!  This being my 2nd Barbie cake made with the Wilton Doll mold, I became more comfortable with dressing the doll pick bodice.  I used the Wilton doll pick with a real Barbie head and tucked the fondant all the way under the waist to elminate the need to conceal the meeting point of waist and cake.  The ruffled trim around her waist is a full circle at the top of the dress mold and the doll pick is placed on top.  I love when I can achieve a tailored finish like this!  Macy requested the birthday package to be in her hands with a candle but I didnt atempt that, I’m sure it can be done but the Wilton doll pick has very flimsy arms and it cant just balance.  So a larger package with all 7 candles sitting on the ground worked out great.  What didnt turn out great was my idea to make a ruffled underskirt at the bottom out of regular icing.  It was too soft to work with in the transportation of the cake since she sat on a cake board just the size of the ball gown.  A larger cake board or a stiffer medium will be my suggestion to anyone that would like to do this cake.

Perfectly Pink Party Barbie Cake

Macy's Perfectly Pink Party Barbie Cake

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Rose Petal Barbie Cake

Rose Petal Barbie Cake

I created this Rose Petal Barbie Cake for Macy’s 7th birthday.  She was my first Barbie cake using the Wilton Doll Cake mold.  This design is simple but creating all the petals are tedious. To make them I made three colors and three sizes.  They are formed by starting with a circle and then curling it and thinning out the edges to give it a natural shape.  My sister actually helped me crank them out and she added the leaf around the waist idea to conceal the area where doll waist meets cake.  Her dress is completed with a flower necklace.  I dont like to write on most of my cakes and it has become my signature to make a plaque to write a simple name.  For this Barbie I used the Wilton doll pick but changed the head with one of Macy’s real Barbie’s.  We snuck her to dinner that night and she was brought out by the wait staff singing Happy Birthday, Macy was so proud for everyone in the restaurant to see her fabulous Barbie cake!

Rose Petal Barbie Cake's Flower Necklace

Macy's Rose Petal Barbie Cake

I have a few other Barbie cakes that you’d love to see too!

Hawaiian Barbie and The Luau Pool Party

Mermaid Barbie and Mermaid Kelly in the Under the Sea Parties

Perfectly Pink Barbie and the Perfectly Pink Pool Party (coming soon)

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The 9 Year Evolution of Macy’s Bedroom

My baby girl turns 9 in just a few days.  I always like to look back at old photos around this time of year and now that she’s older we look together.  It’s amazing that places and things I thought she’d never forget, she has forgotten.  I decided write a post showing the transformation of her room from Nursery to Tween; it would be fun to do and great for her to look at too.  I came across some decent vintage photos last week, although I never had publishing them on a blog in mind when I took them, I think they are good enough to share.  What is most important from this post is that you will see how I took Macy’s nursery design to a toddler design; to a whirl wind of changes during our moving adventures; to what she is now an: 9-year-old on the brink of a being a teenager or whats now called a tween.  Her colorway has not changed in these 9 years but amazingly enough I have made it work and grow with her.  We’ve had some major transitions in our lives but I’ve always made sure that no matter the space, size or shape she has had a familiar room that she was proud of.   Now that she has become older with less toys and her own taste we have promised her a design change this winter. She wants blue and I dont blame her!  She’s been surrounded by pink for 9 years & I want a change too!

Macy's Nursery 2002

Summer Fruit Bedding From Pottery Barn Kids

Macy’s Nursery

There was no theme for Macy’s nursery.  I simple picked what I liked based on colors.  Her bedding was Summer Fruit by Pottery Barn Kids and although it set the colorway for her room I didnt add fruit anywhere else.  I had a logical reason for choosing a butter yellow color for her walls, I knew the rest of the room would have entirely enough pink in it.  From toys and clothes to accessories and art, I didnt need to be surrounded by it on the wall too!  But I couldnt resist, the top 20 inches of her wall was a cotton candy pink!   It said “baby girl” without screaming it.

Macy's Toddler Room 2006

Kasey Quilt and Madeline Bed from Pottery Barn Kids

My DIY Version of a Land of Nod storage unit

Macy’s Toddler Room

Out with the baby gear, in with toys!  While Macy was still in her toddler bed I created a toy storage unit to vertically house her bulging toy boxes.  This is a copy from a storage unit in Land of Nod but mine was custom designed to match her room by me!  It was available for years but is gone now so if you like it you’ll have to make it and dont worry,  its sew easy!  I bought the wire shelving from Bed Bath and Beyond, its not cheap but its sturdy and can be used anywhere later on if you decided to do away with the cover.  I made the cover out of 2 pairs of cotton duck cloth drapery.  I actually only used 3 of the panels and opted to not cut the 4th because I only needed a small section for the top of the unit. (I saved the 4th panel and used it a few different ways in her room you will see) I added a coordinating stripe fabric on the top, scallop and inside front, but that was all extra and not necessary.  I came up with the idea to use drapery because it has a good hanging weight and its already hemmed on the sides and bottom.  It also proved to be cheaper than buying fabric by the yard.

When Macy was 3 1/2 she got a big girl bed.  The Madeline canopy bed from Potter Barn Kids.  To avoid changing the wall colors and the rest of the rooms accents, I went with a quilt and sheeting that had the same yellow, light pink and dark pink combinations.  I guess I made a good choose because her Kasey quilt and Madeline bed are still a staple of PBKs collection.  The transformation of her room literally happened in a few hours.  The white glove delivery put together the bed and we rearranged the room.  I made a few additions like the dress up wall but that was basically it, everything else already matched!  Her dresser became the nightstand, the rug was a neutral, the shades with ric rack that I sewed on still matched and the yellow fabric and striped fabric on the toy unit were a perfect match to the quilt!  Here I used the extra drapery panel on the canopy at the headboard to block an unsightly electric panel.

Macy's Mini Bedroom

Macy's Full size Manhattan bedroom

Macy takes Manhattan

Not long after Macy got her big girl room we had to pack it up and put it in storage :(  We moved to NYC and lived in corporate housing that was fantastic but not meant for a child.  Macy was small enough that she could fit back into a toddler bed temporarily and we were able to give her a slice of her bedroom design in the corner of our one bedroom luxury apartment in Lower Manhattan.  Look at how cute she was!  She only had to endure this “mini bedroom” for 5 months until we made NYC our permanent home and transferred our own furniture there.  I feel that decorating in a small space is more about editing than adding and although I didnt attempt to do any painting to the 13 foot walls, her beautiful furnishings made her room her own.

Macy 2nd Manhattan bedroom with the view of Trinity Church

Trinity Church bedroom view at Christmas

Macy's 2nd Manhattan bedroom gallery wall

Macy's Manhattan Playloft

The Pottery Barn Kids Kitchen in the Playloft

Macy’s 2nd Manhattan Bedroom

While on our first tour of NYC we moved into a second apartment within the same building and Macy got an even better bedroom.  This was her view! A 13 foot window and balcony view of Trinity Church.  It was breath-taking during all the seasons, especially winter when it looked like a gingerbread castle dusted in powdered sugar.  Her room was similar to the first apartment just bigger.  Big enough that we put the christmas tree in there instead of in the living room.  This time I did do some decorating on the walls, still not painting but a gallery wall that also had an Ikea shelf as a writing ledge.  But most fantastic about this apartment is that Macy got a playloft!  Lucky Duck!!  It was her little hide away or tree house we called it sometimes.  She had so much fun up there!

Macy's Tween Room 2010

Macy's Tween Room Storage Unit and Cafe Table

NC children's bedroom gallery wall

Chinese lanterns over the canopy

Macy’s Tween Room 

For our 14 months in North Carolina, Macy’s room was updated from a toddler style but had the same foundation in colors.  She had new polka dot sheets instead of fish but we kept the Kasey quilt and pink gingham duvet.  We gave her a bolder pink wall and a fabulous chinese lantern installation over her canopy!  The largest lantern was illuminated with a switch that she could operate while in bed.   We gave her PBK kitchen to my niece Emma, but Macy kept the food and dishes, I couldnt get her to give those up as she still likes to play pretend sometimes!  The toy unit was still in use but its near the end of its life and the girly cafe set from Target that she got for her 2nd christmas is soon to be replaced this christmas with a modern boy version for Hudson. And I finally used that 4th drapery panel on a window!

Now that we are back in NYC, Macy and Hudson share a room but their bedroom styles remain separate.  She has her half of the room and he has his. We have painted his side but are refraining on hers since she will get an updated look very soon.  Check back this winter to see how it turns out!!

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The Initial Frame

 My sister has reprimanded me, she says that I have to do my postings more tutorial like.  Well I promise when I get to a new project that I will photograph it step by step.  But right now im still playing catch up with about 9 years worth of fabulous projects that Ive done!  I have always photographed the final results but never the process, this one is easy enough that I can recreate the process in a tutorial way without the step by step pictures. S0 Jes, this ones for YOU!

Macy and Hudson's Initial Frames

Initial frames! This is a very old project of mine, but it still proudly hangs in my childrens’ room and in the rooms of the loved ones Ive created one for.   It is a very simple and inexpensive project, I once made about 10 at one time as Christmas gifts for all the children in our family and in Macy’s playgroup.

Initial Frames for Macy's Playgroup

Supplies for this project:

  • a wooden 8×10 frame – cheap,  from anywhere like a craft store or ikea
  • acrylic paints – super cheap again, a $1 bottle is enough
  • a wooden letter – there’s a trend here… cheap from a craft store
  • fabric scrap at least 10×12 – free! if you are a crafter that has it lying around
  • a 1/2 yard of ribbon or twine – again you know you have some somewhere
  • a slightly smaller than 8×10 cut of mat board – in the framers aisle at craft store
  • hot glue gun – the classic
  • staple gun – you can do it without this, but if you dont want the letter to fall off and hit the baby in the head then  barrow one.

First step is to remove the glass from the frame but save the backboard as you still want that so that it looks nice and finished when its done.

Next paint the letter and wooden frame.  Just like any project with wood you might decide that it needs a little sanding prep before the paint.  Use your discretion.  Acrylic paint dries in a matte or chalky finish.  If you dont like that you can use a spray gloss sealant to give it a sheen.  But be cautious:  some of the glosses will turn the paint a yellowish color.  I had a pink letter turn an unusable color.  So I play it safe and just leave it like it is.  Or you can buy higher quality paint that has a gloss finish already.

Hudson's Initial Frame

While your paint is drying you can begin the fabric covered mat board.  Make sure the board is slightly less that 8×10 because the fabric will need space to live tucked in the frame too.  Wrap the fabric onto the mat board and hot glue the long and short sides.  Leave the corners for last and either fold down one side then the other or make a pinched triangle like miter cut and glue down with lots of hot glue.  The fabric covered board should fit snuggly into the frame the same way the glass did before you removed it.

Cowboy Initial Frame

Next position the letter in the center of the board with hot glue.  ***And here’s where Im making the safety disclosure** Hot glue is temperamental.  Its not really a glue right, its plastic and when its cold it lets go of what it should be holding onto.  In my practice with these initial frames I found a super easy way to make sure the letter doesnt pop off no matter what type of fabric you have tried to adhere it to.  After you have the letter glued into place, turn the board over and fire a few staple gun staples through the back of the mat board, into the back of the wooden letter!  Yes, its that easy.  Now the letter isnt going anywhere.  Put the board back in the frame, put the backboard of the frame back on and fasten it closed.

Macy's Initial Frame

You may have a frame that came with an easel back or no easel and a saw tooth hanger.  You can still hang this initial frame on the wall regardless of its backboard type.  Staple your ribbon or twine to the back to use as a hanger.  If you borrowed a staple gun, you might realize by now that its a really good tool to have and they are not expensive so grab one on your next trip to Lowe’s. Just remember to keep in out of reach and locked away from little hands, I even keep ours unloaded.

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Under the Sea Birthday Party Invites + Mermaid Barbie Cakes

For my daughters 5th birthday the theme was Under the Sea.  I am only sharing the invitation and cakes from the party, but this was a fantastic pool party and a success with my daughter who is my biggest fan and littlest critic!

Under the Sea Invite Shaker

This party’s invtation is a very unique “shaker” card that we really sent through the mail.  As you can see from the profile shot above it is a thick card that required extra postage but arrived to our guests fine.  I believe I did write “hand cancel” on the envelopes to help them receive some TLC at the post office but who knows if that really helped!  These cards where on the complex side to create but they were worth it and were an impressive surprise for our guests to receive.  Heres how they came together:

Supplies:

  • 1/4 thin foam core board
  • colored scrapbook paper
  • transparency film
  • confetti
  • glue stick
  • xacto and cutting mat

To assemble:

The informational side of the card was designed and printed as a 5×5 square.  5″ squares were also cut out of the foam core, transparency film and unprinted scrapbook paper.  A center circle (a square would work too) was cut from the foam core and scrabookpaper.  And then it was like a sandwich, stacked up with the info face down glued to the foamcore, confetti sprinkled inside, transparency film to seal it and the scrapbook paper to cover and complete it.  Being our theme was Under the Sea, this was meant to look like a fish bowl but it could be reinterpreted for any theme.

Under the Sea Mermaid Kelly Doll cake

Under the Sea Cupcakes

I have mentioned before that my spoiled little mice get more than one cake for their birthdays because there are usually separate days of celebrating.  Macy had two parties her 5th year with this theme, one at school and one with family and friends. On her actual birthday she enjoyed Under the Sea character cupcakes at school and a Mermaid Kelly Doll cake at home with us.  This was my first Barbie type cake.  Little Kelly was easy to turn into a mermaid by simply covering her legs with individual scales made out of fondant, all her Sea friends were fondant also.  These characters were on the simple side of creation, by todays standards it takes much more complex cupcake toppers to impress.  (You can see some of my current cupcake work in my Yo Gabba Gabba cupcake masterpieces here)

Under the Sea Mermaid Barbie cake

There is an interesting story behind the real Under the Sea party that year.  It was one of a few times that we decided to return back home to Tennessee to celebrate with family and friends.  Flight delays and ultimately a flight cancellation nearly kept us from getting to TN.  When we did get there it was just a few hours before the party and without our luggage full of party supplies.  To save this party I picked up two pre-made cakes from a big box store, I think they were the Carebear cloud designs but they worked as ocean too.  I grabbed a new Barbie and some fondant and within an hour the cake was complete!   I hope that my emergency cake experience for this party can one day help someone else out if they are in a pinch to produce a custom cake.  Dont panic, just add to a ready made and no one will be able to  tell that it is a impromptu design!

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Hawaiian Barbie Cake

It’s about time for me to shelf my Wilton Doll cake mold.  My little girl is getting “too old” for Barbie cakes, but at least I did get some chances to make a few. My Hawaiian – Luau – Hula Girl Barbie cake was by far the easiest to decorate all thanks to one little grass piping tip, Wilton multi-opening tip #233.

Hula Girl Barbie was the center piece to my daughters 8th birthday party, Dont miss the rest of the Hawaiian Luau Party here.

Macy’s Hawaiian Barbie Cake

Hawaiian Barbie sits on a cake plate just a half an inch larger than the dress.  I sprinkled brown sugar around the edges before any icing to give the hem of the dress a resolved finishing point.  I gave the cake a crumb coat layer of green icing so any holes in the piped grass don’t stand out and then I went to town with the grass piping tip.  You couldn’t get it wrong, but I started with all the lines radiating out from her waist before i filled in with shorter strokes in between.  It’s easy to hide any flaws around the waist with layered ruffles of icing with tip #104  Her coconut shells are fondant and the flowered lei gives her a modest coverage without a need to give more detail to the bikini top.

Hawaiian Barbie Cake

Barbie Cake Tips

If you google around looking for Barbie cakes you can see some amazing cakes, you can also see some flops.  Most of the unsuccessful looking cakes definitely have something to do with the dress form and balance of doll parts to cake parts.  I do not suggest using a Bundt pan or Pyrex bowl or carving a stack of rounds.  Just get the Wilton Doll cake pan, it is the perfect ball gown shape.  There are a few problems with it, but I have figured out some ways to make it better.  The first problem is the cake size was obviously meant to deter you from sticking a real Mattel Barbie in it.  Second, the doll pick is hideous, the design of the doll pick is great, its a doll down to the torso with a long toothpick coming out of the bottom.  But what little girl wants a fake?   There’s only one real Barbie and she can’t be replaced!
So I have two different remedies for making a real Barbie work.  I either take the Wilton Doll head off and stick on a Barbie head or I bake an additional 10″ round cake to give the dress extra height..  Sometimes the Barbie head on the Wilton pick just doesnt look right together and I have no choice but to do the other way, so I core out about 2″diameter place for her to be inserted.  The hole has to be deep enough to for her to be submerged to the waist, after she is inserted I in fill all the gaps around her with a stiff icing.  She tends to slump and lean if you make the hole too wide.  As with any cake, there’s a level of sensitivity to movement that you just have to treat with the utmost care.   One of the nice things about using the Wilton doll pick is the tailored look you can achieve around the bodice waist.

So now that my doll pan is retired from my daughters birthdays I have to figure out if there are any ways to reuse it as something boyish for my son?  Any creative suggestions?

Looking for more Barbie cake ideas?  Then you’ll love to see my other Barbie cakes!

Mermaid Barbie and Mermaid Kelly in the Under the Sea Birthday Party

Rose Petal Barbie

Perfectly Pink Barbie and the Perfectly Pink Pool Party (coming soon)

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Embroidery fit for a Little Queen

 

Little Queen Sunburst 2010

Emma wears her shirt from Aunt Nikki!

I have a dear little niece named Emma that is like one of my own mice.  She is only three but has already been the recipient of many of the creative works that will be featured on NikkiikkiN.  Last year this little cutie won her first beauty pageant at the age of 2!  She was the Little Queen Sunsburst of Michigan!  To commemorate her title I made her an embellished shirt that would announce it to all.  This shirt was made with a few different crafting techniques: iron-ons, embroidery and appliques.

Commemorative shirt for my pageant queen niece

The back of Little Queen Sunburst's shirt

The state of Michigan is one of the most recognizable states in America with its mitten hand shape.  As preschoolers we were all taught how to point out on our own hand where in Michigan we lived, ask any Michigander what part they’re from and they’ll probably still do it, lol! 

I wanted to incorporate that mitten shape with a crown and came up with an applique design of the mitten being crowned.  I didnt need to purchase many supplies for this project. Being a crafter and interior designer you can only imagine all the fabric I have access to, fabric samples and embroidery thread are both staples in my crafting boxes.  I used Wonder Under fusible web on all the appliques to give them staying power and then did a blanket stitch around the upper and lower portions of the state.  The crown was made from a wool felt that wasnt going to unravel so I only did a straight stitch around it.  For the front of the shirt I wanted the word “queen” to stand out and used glitter iron-on letters from Michael’s craft store.  The rest of the words were hand embroidered in a rope stitch, which didn take that long after I lightly drew the words in pencil. 

I used a great online site Stitch School  to refer to for instructions and tips.  I also have the The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden to look at while I work.  An embroidery hoop is a must for embroidery work and luckily they are still an inexpensive craft tool.  I have a small one from childhood and a larger one that I bought to work on Hudson’s Owl quilt.  (I recently have seen the wooden embroidery hoops being used to display fabric as art on walls, what an innovative and economic gallery wall that makes, maybe ill try it one day!)

Of course Emma loved her shirt, my sister was excited about it too and she proudly saved it as a keepsake with all of Emmas trophies and crowns from her big day.

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Filed under Baby + Child, Paper + Fabric

Hawaiian Birthday Party

Aloha Macy!

Its HOT!  Its summer here in the city and as we begin planning Macy’s 9th birthday party I thought it would be a great time to post her 8th birthday party, Aloha! A Luau Pool Party.  I bet there is alot of people planing a luau party this time of year, its the perfect summer theme and I hope you find ours inspiring!  We had her party at our community pool and it was a such beautiful venue that it didnt take much to decorate.

Macy's 8th Birthday Celebration

Hawaiian Party Table

There are a few consistent elements in Macy’s birthday parties, I always make the cake and the invitations are handmade.  This year was no exception,  hand cut hibiscus flowers were the front of the invites and the party info was on a medallion on the back. In her earlier years, our parties included a lot of  friends and family & I had to make about 5o invites.  But now that she’s older and we dont live near friends and family anymore her party guests are school friends and total less than 20 guests.  This years cake was a Hula Girl Barbie and she was so easy to make!  (I’ll talk more on her in a future SugarCoated post)

Luau Party Invataion

Hula Girl Barbie Cake

When it comes to buying party supplies, there are a lot of Luau and Hawaiian themes to choose from.  I tried to keep ours simple and I was very careful to not go overboard or cheesy. Lots of color is a given when you are do a luau, but since this was a girl’s party it was easy to add in more pink and orange to give it a focus. A few plain white tablecloths were a great investment I made a few years back and this was another party that I was glad we were able to use them.  The grass table skirt was safety pined to it and because it was cloth I didnt have to worry about the weight of it tearing a plastic tablecloth.  The party and favors included a lei and hibiscus hair clip and a flower printed tote to stuff with candy & treats from the pull string (the only kind I do) pink flamingo pinata. Cool treats like fresh fruit served in a half pineapple and Hawaiian Punch in a coconut shell cup was all that was needed to entertain these girls.  I could hardly keep them at the table long enough to even sing happy birthday, because they were very anxious to get in the pool and just have fun.

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Filed under Baby + Child, Celebrations

Modern Moroccan Nursery

Moroccan style is very trendy right now. It’s a visually stimulating style with an abundance of detail.  Vibrant colors, delicate wood carvings and intricate mosaics all give it a dramatic, mysterious and luxurious feel.  With the right combinations and restraint, the seemingly endless layers of fabric and busy ornate accessories that are the traditional Moroccan can to be reinterpreted as Modern.  A vein of unity such as a main color or repetition of an element can streamline it to become more Modern. 

Making a whole room have a Moroccan style can be as easy as adding  a few of the elements that are a must for creating a Moroccan design: the arch, a pouf or floor pillows, a painted or inlaid table, representations of animails, lanterns of colored glass and a mixture of patterns and jewel tone colors.  The best part in creating a  Moroccan style is that it’s not meant to match, it’s an eclectic style that is global and well traveled.  

I was asked to do a Modern Moroccan Nursery and it was educating for me to source the products as well as fun.  This was an eDesign project in which all of my suggestions needed to be readily available at national or online stores. This design was for a baby boy and the client definitely wanted to have blue in the room.  My inspiration boards paired blue with orange, green or multiple colors to give it a modern restraint.  In the end the client went with Scheme A and ordered nearly the entire inspiration board.  Besides the 3 schemes I compiled, I also prepared individual boards showcasing just accessories, art, rugs, pillows or tables in case she wanted to swap out for an item she liked better.  I am including the Tables board in this post because it had the most beautiful examples of traditional Moroccan furniture.    

Baby Gavin Moroccan Nursery Scheme A

 

Baby Gavin Modern Moroccan Nursery Scheme B

 
 

Baby Gavin Modern Moroccan Nursery Scheme C

 
 

Table options board

 
 
 
 
 

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