Category Archives: Celebrations

A seemingly endless round of social fucntions & the colaborated results of my inspirations!

A Bright and Beautiful Easter

Macy & Hudson Easter 2012

Today was a lovely Easter Day.  Beautiful NYC weather and time with my children. My son is 26 months and I am amazed to watch his wonderment with each new event we share.   Although we didn’t take him to see a costume easter bunny, he was excited and curious about the introduction of this “new” holiday.   Basically he likes candy and happy anytime he can get his sticky fingers on some.  I think most of all, I’m proud to witness my 9 year old daughter finding enjoyment in watching and showing him how we celebrate holiday traditions as a family.

Park Ave Tulips on Easter Day

Where ever we are, whomever we are with, on Easter we celebrate with finding eggs and baskets hidden by the Easter Bunny.  We put on our finest (color coordinated and stylishly chosen) clothes and go to church and we spent the rest of the day with family.  This year the weather was too beautiful to spend the day inside and I found myself heading toward Central Park as we left our church on Park Ave & 59th St.  Being New York  Zoo Members we often pop in the Central Park zoo just to see the polar bear and thats just what we did today!

Easter at Central Park Zoo

I can’t lie, I think I had the best looking kids in Central Park today! ( I looked pretty good too in my new green dress,  but nobody ever takes mommy’s picture)

After the afternoon in the park, I made the classic Betty Crocker Easter Bunny Cake, I think everyone has seen or made this cake.  My mother made it in the 80’s and its at least been around since the 60’s according to this blogger who found a 1966 copy of Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook.  I made my bunny’s ears out of rice crispies covered in icing and coconut instead of paper and added uncooked spaghetti noddles as whiskers, but there really isn’t much reason to change anything else.  Its a classic just the way Betty designed it, way back when!

I hope you enjoyed your holiday and spent it making memories with the ones you love!

Love,

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Happy Beer Day Cake

It’s not really Beer Day, although I’m sure its a holiday somewhere.  This is what my husband said to me when I surprised him with a Guinness Chocolate Cake at 9am yesterday morning.  We came across this recipe in a People Magazine article featuring chief Brian Leth of Vinegar Hill House ( you can see the article here)  Vinegar Hill is a nearby (like 2 miles) Brooklyn neighborhood, one we don’t really explore, but ought to, and Im adding it to our list.  Anyway my husband’s birthday is next weekend and I always ask him what type of cake he’d like.  We had it narrowed down to a Red Velvet or repeat of last years Chocolate Strawberry Tallcake when he threw me for a loop asking for this Guinness cake.  We keep Guinness in the fridge regularly so I surprised him the next morning with the cake, which means I still get to bake what I had in mind next week :)

Chocolate Guinness Cake

The cake really does have a cup of Guinness Stout beer in it and yes I had to taste test the beer to make sure of its freshness…at 8am.  Tasted great!   Other than that it was a pretty standard cake recipe.  Here is the recipe per People Magazine:

Guinness Chocolate Cake

1 cup Guinness Stout

10 tbsp. butter unsalted butter, softened

6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

2 cups granulated sugar

6 tbsp. sour cream

2 large eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree. Butter a 9in springform pan and line with parchment paper

2 Heat Guinness and butter in large saucepan over medium-low until butter melts, remove from heat. Whisk in cocoa and sugar.

3. Combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; whisk into cocoa mixture.  Whisk in flour and baking soda.

4. Pour batter into pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until cake is firm.  Remove to wire rack; cool completely.  Remove from pan. Spread frosting on top.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat 8 oz. softened cream cheese until smooth; gradually add 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, beating at low speed just until blended.  Gradually add 1/2 cup cream; beat until blended.

I followed the recipe almost exact, except I used Salted Butter and more than 2 cups of powdered sugar in the icing.  I also baked it in two 8″ round pans so I could stack a pretty cake.    So can I taste the Guinness?  No not really, but it doesn’t taste like a standard chocolate cake either, more like a brownie that is on the bittersweet side.  My husband loved it regardless and was super excited that I surprised him and thats what matters most!

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Another Party Feature!

I am so excited to share that Macy’s Woodland Fairie Birthday Party is being featured on a fabulous site for party inspiration and resource.  The Party Wagon has given my special party the royal treatment with photos and write up.  Im touched at Ms. Lydia’s thoughtful introduction of me and my creation.  I’ve really never been “described” before….I love it!  Its an honor to be complimented by other party stylists and enthusiasts and Im very thankful that the Fairy party will now be shared with many more people looking for party ideas.  Thank You Lydia!

See the party at the The Party Wagon HERE

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My Party Featured on Amy Atlas!

What an exciting day for me!  Hudson’s Where the Wild Things Are party has been chosen as a Guest Dessert Feature on Amy Atlas!  Amy Atlas is the goddess of “Sweets Tables”  and an inspiration for anyone who looks for ideas for party styling.  Heres a peek at my feature and you can see the rest of it HERE

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Just a short post to say Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.  I hope you have special plans with you family and friends.  Macy, Jacob and I made cookies for Macy’s class last night.  I’ve made a lot of cookies this past month, its been alot of fun and as always each project is a learning experinece for me.  Here are some of our favorite of the 30+ cookies we made last night.

And here are the treats Macy is passing out today in class:

Yes I copied this idea straight from this month’s Better Homes and Gardens. See it HERE  I tweaked the idea a little with a printed topper (it has a fill in “To:” & “From:” on the back) and royal icing decorations.  What I really loved about this treat is the style of a packaged cookie.

A  4″ x5″ slip of scrapbook paper is inserted inside the bag and the cookie rests on it.  The topper is  4″x4″, folded in half and you have to cut the cellophane standard treat bag down a bit for to get this size. Yes a ribbon tied on the top would have been cute but a staple works GREAT!  and is a lot quicker ;)  My only tip so far in making these treat bags: don’t package these too early, day of party is best.  I found that the butter in the cookie created a slight oil stain through the paper when I made these for Hudson’s birthday party last week.  P.S. can’t wait to share that party soon!

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Winnie the Pooh and Owl too! Cake and Cookies

Owl Cookies

What a busy little creative weekend I had last week!  One of my projects was a cake and cookies for a sweet little girl’s 2nd birthday party.  It wasnt a themed party, just an adorable Winnie the Pooh cake and Owl cookies that were recognizable and loved by the little girl.  My owls were piped in aqua royal icing with fondant details on a sugar cookie.  For the cake, I duplicated a classic white cake with blue trim that was shown in the little girl’s cherished Winnie the Pooh book.  Then I add a toy Pooh and friends that her mom provided, this is such an easy way to make a simple cake beautiful and custom in just minutes. This cake was a special Strawberry recipe that my daughter requests often for her parties, so pretty pink!  The icing was a very basic 4 ingredient buttercream: confectioners sugar, salted butter, vanilla and milk….so delicious!

If you dont have the time or skills to make a simple cake but would still like to decorate for someone special, consider buying an iced and undecorated cake from you local bakery.  I have decorated store-bought cakes when I was in a pinch for time before. I dont think that a cake has to be elaborate for you to express your creative skills and party theme.  My mermaid cake was a “cake decorating emergency”, we traveled to Tennessee to host Macy a birthday party but our luggage with my party supplies didnt make it with us.  And there have been several times I’ve had a plain bakery cake waiting on me to add fondant to for my sisters events because I could only fly in for the weekend and didnt have time to bake.  No matter how simple you decide to make the cake, its all about execution and presentation.  Practice makes perfect! It took a long time for me to level and stack my cakes perfectly and to make buttercream porcelain smooth.  But most importantly I always use a cake stand or platform, it’s usually the center piece of the table and you want it to stand above other dishes.

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Macy’s New Years Tea and Cookie Party

A couple of years ago Macy hosted a New Years Tea Party to celebrate with and get to know her new friends from school and girl scouts.  Besides having treats and tea, the girls decorated cookies and played games.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The invitation for the party was a sparkly paper cookie in a treat bag with metallic lined envelopes, super easy to make on thick watercolor paper and so fun for the girls to receive in the mail! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We choose traditional and chic New Years colors silver and gold and picked up just a few decorations at a Party City to decorate the table.  Metallic paper plates, doilies, stars, large sequins, party hats and confetti bursts.  I rolled metallic paper into cone shapes & decorated with glitter for the girls to use as mock megaphones.  Each girl had a glittered place card that we later used as tags for their cookie bags.  And since this was a tea party, Macy and I searched at a  few thrift shops for traditional tea cups for everyone.  For the rest of the table I used my real serving pieces for finger sandwiches and other mini snacks.  
 
 
After tea was served I demonstrated how to use royal icing in a piping bag for cookie decorating and we had several waxpaper bags filled for the girls to use.  Each girl got a circle, butterfly & a crown sugar cookie that Macyand I made the night before to decorate. 
 
 
As parents came for pick up we served coffee and my famous red velvet snowflake cake, it’s always nice to invite the parents to come back early at pick up to socialize and have a treat too.  I hate when pick up is rushed and hectic, I like to spend some time chatting with the other parents.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Macy was the Hostest with Mostest at her tea party, she made time to play with everyone and entertained from the head of the table.
 
I wish there was one more picture to share….I was just weeks away from having Hudson at this party!  At 35 weeks pregnant, I was running around in my party dress, apron and no shoes (I was afraid I’d trip over the constantly moving 7 year olds in my heels) serving tea and teaching the girls decorating tricks.  I’m sure I was a sight to see and sorry I dont have a good picture from it!
 
Wishing you a wonderful New Year!  Cheers!

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Have a Berry Merry Christmas!

The Berry Family Christmas Card 2011

 
 
From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
 
Love, Nikki, Jacob, Macy and Hudson

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Merry Christmas and a happy New York!

Merry Christmas and a happy New York card

This has been our Christmas slogan since we found these Christmas cards a few years ago at a Barnes and Noble.  I’ve never sent out this card but I use its wording almost every year and by now I’m sure our friends and family know that I didn’t misuse “York” instead of “Year”.  I don’t quite think that any other state could be inserted – “happy New Jersey” um no, “happy New Mexico” no way!  Theres just something magical and memorable about New York at Christmas time, whether you have visited for the tree lighting, ball dropping, ice skating or just like to watch your favorite Christmas movie every year (Home Alone 2, Serendipity, Miracle on 34th St – pick one!), you know what I mean when I say “Merry Christmas and a happy New York”!

Macy seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall 2006

 
 

Rockefeller Center Tree 2006

 
 

Zuccotti Park 2007 (isnt it pretty with out the protesters?)

 

Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center 2007

 
 
 

Wall Street Stock Exchange 2008

 
 
 

Macy's Toyland 2008

 
 

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Easy Christmas Candy Houses

Easy Candy Houses

 
 

Making Candy Houses. Macy age 6

 

Candy House Scene

 
 
 

For years we have made candy houses for a christmas craft and decoration.  Just like traditional gingerbread houses ours are decorated with candy, cookies and royal icing but I dont have to sweat building the structure.  Our candy houses are built with a sturdy cardboard box base. Juice boxes, milk cartons, cake boxes and other small boxes are perfect to use as long as the cardboard is not too thin because it has to hold alot of weight from the icing and candy.  Its a super easy craft that lets kids jump right in and build their Sugarplum Dream House without fear of the house breaking.  And most importantly the sky is the limit when you are using cardboard….every year we do a skyscraper! 

 
 

Candy house villages

 

Candy houses arranged on a cakeplate

Pepermint cottages

 

The only tricky part of this craft is the getting the correct consistently with the royal icing.  You need it to be thick and full of meringue powder to dry quickly holding the candy pieces in place.  I work the boxes on their side, one side at a time, so there is some drying time involved before you can complete one house.  This craft will take a few hours.  We usually build entire villages and display them as sets on separate cake boards or I arrange them on cake plates. 

 
 

Brooklyn Candy Houses

 

Candy House Party

 
 

We have hosted Candy House Parties and asked that everyone bring 2 bags of candy and a few boxes.  The more variety the more creative you can be, but some candys are a must.  Definately pick up M&M’s, pepermints, gumdrops, Neco waffers and graham crackers.  Creating additional trees from gumdrop covered styrofoam cones or paper can turn a few houses into a village scene.  Dont forget the paths, mailboxes, lamp posts and ponds and add Schleich animals or Lego men to inhabit the village.  My favorite part of this craft is it is one that I let go of my perfectionist tendency and just let the kids create, our houses never look like a storybook gingerbread house and I dont mind a bit because its candy and no matter how they turn out they always look colorful and fun.

Dont miss my favorite Winter Candy Craft, Sugar Cube Igloos here.

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Sugar Cube Igloo

Sugar cube igloo

We have a few holiday craft traditions and this spectacular sugar cube igloo is one of them.  Its so easy to make and will last for years if you take care of it.  I first saw this igloo in an Anthropologie store, they have the most creative displays of course but this one was practical enough to copy at home.  Instead of trying to stack up and create an igloo form like a real Eskimo, use half of styrofoam ball as the base.  Then its simple to glue on the sugar cubes with Elmers craft glue.  We styled our igloo display with Schleich animals dressed for the holidays with red string bows and a red liquorice tree that I made in using a styrofoam cone as well.

Sugar cube igloo, liquorice tree and Schleich animals Christmas decoration

Dont miss my next craft and christmas decoration post: Easy Candy Houses

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Happy Birthday Dear Sister

Baby Jessica Summer 1987

On December 7th 1986 my dad took me and my younger brother to see the movie “An American Tail”,  later that night our little sister was born. Today she celebrates her 25th birthday.  Now that we are both adults our 6 1/2 year difference doesnt seem like much, I forget sometimes that she doesnt have the same early childhood memories as me, I feel like she should also remember how I used to sit in the kitchen floor and feed her a bottle while our mom cooked dinner or that I taught her how to climb out of her crib when she was 2.

Nikki and Jessica Spring 1997

But loving memories like those didnt start for her until later on.  We didnt play well together growing up, in fact we didnt get along much at all, she was (and still is in some ways) what all “last babies” are…a brat!  Oh! the the knock down, drag out fights we would have!  When she was 12 I left for college never to return to the home or state I grew up in.

Jesscia Senior 2005

It was during her high school years that we grew to be friends as she looked up to me for advice and support.  I have always been a cheerleader for her accomplishments and she has always been the little sister determind on making her own way.  For years my home, no matter what state it was in, has been her second home. She stayed school breaks and summers with me and my husband and we took her on vacation with us too.

Jessica and Baby Emma Spring 2008

When she became a mother, my circle of love instantly grew.  I know that even though I see my niece only a few times a year the love my sister and I have for each other makes it easy for my niece to learn to adore me as if I was there with her everyday.

Nikki and Jes Thanksgiving 2011

Today we are best friends, we talk or text at least 10 times a day.  We have no secrets and we always have time to listen to each others rambling, no matter how mundane.  We dont agree on everything, we are definately as different as our hair color.  We dont judge or compete and we arent afraid to critique with honesty because we know that we will support each other no matter what. I’m proud of the life she has made and the love she as found with her new husband and I wish her many more years of Happy Birthdays.  I love you Jes.
You can follow my amazingly talented and creative sister here   capturedbyjes.blogspot.com
UPDATE*** I get a ton search terms for “baby Jessica”  If you are looking for the little baby that fell down the well in 1987, it wasn’t my sister.  Although they were born the same year, I vividly  remember following the story on the news for days (she was trapped for 58 hours) and how glad we all were that our baby Jessica was safe next to us.

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Snowflake Cake

One Christmas years ago, my husbands grandmother asked me if I would like to make the holiday cake for their family’s christmas dinner.  For as long as GranNana has had her own family she has made them a special coconut cake for christmas dinner.  So, YES I was very honored and nervous she was passing the torch on to me.  This was very early in my cake making life but my red velvet Snowflake cake knocked the socks off everyone!

Snowflake Cake by Nikki Berry

 
 I didnt want to try to recreate the coconut cake that my husband’s GranNana had made for over 50 years.  I needed to make something new and different and spectacular.  I knew that it would be white and red velvet, but it was a wedding cake covered in glistening snowflakes that inspired me to attempt a new decorating medium.   All of my cakes are a learning experience, I am self-taught in each technique I pick up.  This was my frist time using royal icing and although Im still nowhere near a pastry artist is piping skills, these simple snowflakes turned out just right.   The cake sat so proudly in my husband’s aunt’s antebellum formal dinning room and most of the 50 family member thought that years cake was ordered from a bakery.
 

Red Velvet Snowflake Christmas Cake

 
To make the royal icing snowflakes I traced images of illustrated snowflakes under wax paper.  I chose the best looking and unbroken snowflakes for the sides and piled full and partial snowflakes on the top.  It was a happy accident that it turned into a  lovely topper.
 
 

Royal Icing Snowflakes

This has always been one of my favorite cakes, I repeated it ( I dont usually repeat cakes) for Macy’s NewYears  Tea Party and plan to make it anytime I get the chance to show it off again. 

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December 1, 2011 · 10:59 pm

Dwell Studio Modern Thanksgiving Contest

I’ve had such a fun weekend!  I have shopped for my dream Thanksgiving table as part of a contest for Dwell Studio.  By using Pinterest, My Modern Thanksgiving board was easy to pull together through my favorite online retailers.  But I couldn’t just stop at the tabletop….I designed the entire dining room!  My design started with two favorite pieces from my personal collection: Orange Air Chairs from Jasper Morrison & Marimekko Unikko print fabric. From there my inspiration was vintage Scandinavian design and gold tones. Add it all together and it equals a beautiful dining room that is Modern yet speaks of vintage uniqueness. Each piece is carefully selected to balanced in the room based on its shape, color and style significance.   My choices are a mixture of highs and lows and I tried to stay off the beaten path of mainstream resources, maybe you’ll see a store that you didn’t know about or havent thought about shopping from before.  Some of the items I own, some are on my wish list and some are on my “in my dreams” list.  There are more than 35 items and I invite you to view my Pinterest board here for product resources.  If you aren’t on Pinterest, you are missing out on the latest design tool and social obsession, give it a try!

Dwell Studio Modern Thanksgiving by Nikki Berry

If you have a closer look at my selections I’ll walk you through why it all works nicely together.  While it looks like a room that took years for someone to collect items they love individually (& I do love each item!) there are a few common elements that pull it together.  First of all the colors orange and gold compliment each other in many tones and ranges from bright orange & rust to shiny brass & antiqued gold.  Since I gave the core of the room a grounded warm gray, those colors have a nice canvas to stand out on.  Then there are the repetitive shapes: the linear chandelier and centerpiece, the starburst mirror and tubular objects and the triangular facets in the mirror, short glasses, candlesticks & silverware.  Relating elements in a room gives your eye a reason to search out and find details.  It’s a pleasing feeling to find that each piece is there for a reason, its how an “undecorated” room has purpose yet the style is still personal.

Enjoy my design and check in at the Dwell Studio Blog to see who inspires me and how the contest turns out. A big thank you to Dwell Studio for hosting this contest, it was a fun & easy challenge to take part in and the prize offerings are very generous!

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The Wonderland Family – Halloween Costumes

Wonderland Family Costumes - Alice, White Rabbit, Red Queen & Mad Hatter

Halloween is our favorite holiday.  Before we had children we had an annual Halloween Costume Party that our friends looked forward to all year.  Our couples costumes were always a big hit.  Some of the costumes we dressed as were: Adam & Eve, Aphrodite & Cupid, Devil & Angel and Cheerleaders from Saturday Night Live.  The year we were the SNL Cheerleaders we did a skit and it is still talked about to this day when we get together with friends.  Macy’s first Halloween we dressed up with her.  I made Tinker Bell costumes for her and myself and Jake was Captain Hook.  Last year when Hudson was born we felt we now had the opportunity to dress as a whole group.  Jacob had been dying to be the Mad Hatter from Alice and Wonderland for years before the new Johnny Depp version. Tim Burton’s creepy take on the Wonderland characters made them even more inspiring as Halloween costumes.  And so our Wonderland Family was created!

Red Queen and White Rabbit Costumes

I choose to be the Red Queen from the new movie but Hudson looked cuter as the White Rabbit from the original Disney cartoon version.  Did it matter that we mixed the two together?  Of course not, we looked awesome together!  My bulbous head was the official wig from the new movie but my red dress was just a costume dress.  Hudson’s White Rabbit costume was made from white french terry pajamas, a red t-shirt, bunny headband & tail set and I made his collared felt heart….I dont know what that piece is called, a vest?

Alice in Wonderland, White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter

Macy insisted on being Alice (even though I have the blonde hair for it). Grabbing a pre-made costume was the easiest since I had a lot of work to do to pull 4 costumes together and there were very cute ones in the costume stores.  She had the idea to add a key on a ribbon for a necklace.  Jacob would not do this group dress up unless his costume looked liked he stepped out of the movie.  By combining the costume store hat and hair with thrift store clothing finds and a couple of home made items we were able to make his custom so authentic looking people went crazy for him when we went trick or treating!

Mad Hatter and Red Queen Halloween Costumes

Jake and I both hate to wear face make up for Halloween, its just so uncomfortable but being these characters would not be possible if we didnt.  I watched YouTube toutorials to learn how to apply the make up like a professional.

This is the link for the Mad Hatter make up:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGCqIx1DcaU

This is the link for Red Queen make up:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTl3ePEmhi4&feature=relmfu

Alice and Wonderland Family

We had so much fun gathering our costumes and going out trick or treating as the Alice and Wonderland family that we all decided that we wanted to dress the same this year.  This is a first, we never repeat costumes, but they were too good.   We have few changes, Hudson is going to be the Door Mouse and we are adding the White Queen to the group because my MIL is visiting.  So look for us in Brooklyn on Halloween and say Hi!  And check back after Halloween for an update from this years costumes.

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Halloween Madhatter Cake

Halloween Madhatter Birthday Cake

It’s offically Halloween season!   We are currently soaking up the rays in Seaside Florida but our thoughts are all about our decorations, costumes and treats.  Here I am sharing a Halloween Madhatter birthday cake I made a few years ago.  Madhatters or Topsy Turvy cakes are tough.  There are a few different techniques to make them.  Well, I’ve done them all and cant suggest one over the other.  All I’m going to say is this: google some cakes tutorials, try a practice cake first and just know that cakes are evil, gravity is against you and it might be a short-lived glory…..do the assembly just before the party!    I’ve also included the sketch I made to design the cake.  I usually do a sketch for client approval, nothing fancy but just like any other design I have to work it out on paper. 

Halloween Madhatter Cake Sketch

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In Remembrance: September 11, 2001

9/11 Memorial Lights

Although we are blessed to have no particular person to morn on this day we are touched by the memorial that happens every year.  Our 1st NYC apartment at 71 Broadway had a living room view into Ground Zero.  For 3 years we listened to the bells, saw the lights and took in the somber feelings that are all around Lower Manhattan on this day. Im proud that 10 years later Americans still show so much respect for 9/11.  Its not a “holiday” with BBQs and fireworks, its a memorial day of a different type that our country should never change.  A day of remembrance and reflection of what America lost.  In 10 more years there will be children that are adults that were not around when those planes changed our lives.  How will the next generation learn to respect this day?  We have to teach our children, we have to go to these memorials each year to see our service men in uniform, hear their stories and see the pictures of the people who perished.  Every year I see new pictures of 9/11 published and it is what reminds me of how horrible it was, like a yearbook or family photo album, I am taken back, I remember.   We went to Lower Manhattan for a few hours yesterday evening, the memorial lights are especially nostalgic to us as they are situated behind our old building and every year made our apt glow from the close proximity. All of BPC and FiDi was filled with people, but like the weather the mood was somber and unnaturally quiet. The actual memorial was only open to families but we plan to attend the next chance we get.  I am sharing some of lasts nights pictures and a few that we took while living in 71 Broadway with the memorial lights shining just behind our building on top of the Battery Tunnel parking garage.  I was very pleased that my new camera picked up the lights and glows that are so beautiful in NYC.

Macy in front on One World Trade Center - Freedom Tower 9/11/2011

One Life - One Flag, nearly 3,000 flags in Battery Park

Flag of Honor, each listing the names of those who perished on 9/11

Flags of Honor - Battery Park 2011

Statue from WTC that was not crushed in the fall. Now lives in Battery Park. 9/11 Memorial lights & Flags of Honor

9/11 Memorial lights and the Freedom Tower 2011

Trinity Church, 71 Broadway & 9/11 Memorial Lights 2011

9/11 Memorial lights from roof top of 71 Broadway 2008

9/11 Memorial Lights 2008

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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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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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