Holy moses, guys! Parker’s almost two years old! I can’t believe it! Like seriously, wasn’t it just the other day she was born!? Never mind the fact that the manic newborn days are still so vivid in my mind, I still very clearly remember how she felt in my belly!
Everything’s still so fresh in my mind, and yet here we are, on the cusp of celebrating her second year in this world. Two years of her surviving us. (Thanks for choosing us, kid!)And amazingly, two years of our nerves surviving Parker-Grace’s fearless and stunt-dog nature. Which really is the oddest thing, because if you looked at her, you’d never assume that her dainty structure could house such a formidable force. If you look closely, she has such fine facial features, with even hair that seems to whisper, and whilst so petite, she is strong. As if she is ready to spread her wings, and just fly…and maybe kick some butt. There’s certainly a very knowing, yet wild spirit in that one that is undeniable and still charming.
Hence the selection of her first birthday theme. In fact, I didn’t have to think too hard about it, it just came to be: Pink and blue (hard and soft), with Birds and Owls. (yes, I hear you, an owl is a bird too. Just go with it ok.) It also almost felt like it was meant to be, because I bought all the bits and pieces over her first year – in those rare times that I actually got to go shop for stuff other than groceries. Then by the end of it, things actually ended up matching – almost as if I did it on purpose. Score!
So first up, the invites:
I found the perfect free printables for the invites over here. Check them out!
Now to set the scene of the party, lets cover the décor.
I didnt do too much in the way of décor- you know being the mother a toddler and a kid under one is a pretty all consuming job. Especially at THIS time of the year, it gets so tough. So I decided to turn the décor dial down just a notch, and instead went for some light ascents around the house.
As per usual our home entrance housed the goody bag tables, along with the take home cookies (not pictured). Not forgetting the Halloween bucket of skull and bones candy.
Food area– I did a photo string of all the different faces of Pax. It was supposed to be a timeline of her life, however Ive discovered that my photo filing system is not at all as organized as I thought. Horribly not so at all, actually. So the many faces of Pax it was. To secure it on the pretty twine, I used these cute Birdy pegs. Both twine and pegs are from the ever cool Merry Pak
I had good intentions of stringing up the pretty Birdy Bunting (also Merry Pak) around the outdoor area, but time was not on my side. I also found some cute bird cage candle holders at the Crazy Store.
For the cake tables, I had my Mom’s old owl candle holder. Its been around since I was a little girl and I have forever been fasciniated by it. So much so, my mom gave it to me on this day. However, it didn’t feel right cming to her home and not seeing it there, so I returned it to her for now.
I made bird houses from scratch, just using a couple of scraps of cardboard and material I already had around the house. They turned out cuter than I imagined. (Will post a quick tutorial on it soon! Keep an eye out)
And of course, I had a photo of the birthday girl in this (s)tweet little birdy frame. Normally I go big with an enlarged framed pic of the guest of honor, but this frame was too cute and on point with the theme not to use.
For the wall by the cake table – always in shot, since that’s where blowthe candles out, I found wall tattoos at the Crazy store for R35. R35 bucks, guys! And since they are reusable, they are now in Parker’s bedroom. I was actually quite chuffed that this wall tattoo matched her cake..almost identically. Check it out!
I also served up milkshakes that I served in these smoothie cups with lids. I put a small touch of the theme with a tiny cupcake topper, and secured with prestik. Yes, prestik, cause Im easy like that.
First up, as you may have picked up in my previous party posts, there seems to be a trend of me totally misjudging my time, and thus inevitably working into the early hours of the morning with a birthday cake. But this time, this time it was all planned. Yes planned that I work in the early hours. Why? Cause I freakin love Halloween, and that night was Halloween and the first night hubby and I were invited to an adult only Hallween party – so hells yeah, we were in! I essentially only got started with decorating the cake well after midnight.
But, ohhh, the cake, you know I get far too excited about birthday cakes! And to tell you the truth, I think this may have been my best (neatest) cake yet. Im not sure if it was a fluke, cause I was still up in the crazy hours of the moring, icing, moulding, shaping, designing…and then boom, there was this.
I looked at it through sleepy eyes before I went to bed and figured, arhh, I must be more tired than I thought cause this cake actually looks decent. (So I plonked its stand into a massive bowl of water to ensure no ants got to it – its actually quite ridiculous sight to see…all these bowls of water that aim to serve as a moat for all the cakes and cookies in the house, leave very little space for the rest of my family to move around in whilst I bake for parties. Fortunatley mike enjoys my baking enough to suck it up.) But then I woke up the next morning and it was still in not too bad a shape, I’ve got to admit, I was pretty damn chuffed about it.
I topped it off with an Owl topper I made myself back in 2013 for Morgan-Lee’s second birthday, and seems to come in handy to this day. Of course then I spent the rest of the morning, guarding my work of art with my life, because now little fingers in our home were also very fascinated by it. And Im not sure if Ive shared with you before, but Morgan-Lee has been known to settle down at the table and to chow down on whatever pretty little works I slaved away at the night before. My friends 40th cake, My nephew Slades baby shower cookies, my friend’s daughter’s mini mouse cupcakes, just to name a few incidents. So with a repeat offender in my home, my paranoia wasn’t without reason.
But also the fact that she gasped with a “wow, mama! That cake is beeeautiful”, may have made me soften up a bit, and passed her some of the spare cookies.
It was a regular vanilla cake that I used pink and blue food colouring for the layers. Its my mom’s recipe, and hence only one of the few vanilla cakes I really enjoy. For the recipe I used, have a look-see here. Quick tip: Just remember, your mixing technique is as important as the quality of the recipe!
Now about those cookies I paid Morgan-Lee for her sweet words. I once more used my go-to recipe for kiddy cookies, The Almond Vanilla Cookie. Why? Cause the kids seem to really enjoy it – there’s never any left, no matter how many batches I make for a party. I can make it thick enough for them to still go out and play without it crumbling in their tiny chubby fists. And because of its thickness, I can easily decorate it too without it falling to bits. You can of course make it thinner. For the Almond Vanilla cookie recipe, go here.
Speaking of cookies, I have had great intentions of trying my hand at royal icing. And this was gonna be it- the day I actually did it. Buuuut, as with every party we throw, somethings (alotta things) always got to give.
And icing those babies was it. But the shapes were good enough to ensure the theme carried thorugh. Granted you don’t need to be heavy handed in your theme-carrying, but since I was going very light on décor, I wanted the food and eats to do their bit too.
For the take home cookies, I wanted a larger but simpler design cookie that could withstand small hands grabbing and getting into cars as they said their goodbyes, but I couldn’t seem to find a cutter that fit my spec. it was too short a time to still try and get it in from amazon. So I got crafty and made my own cookie – watch out for that post!And it worked out fine.
Then as for the thank-you goody bag, I was so chuffed I got to use this idea I saw on Pinterest a few times. I bought the pink paper bags from Merry Pak, and used a template that my colleague had used for a baby shower. Just snip snip, and taa-daaa!
Im not too big on sugaring kids up, although that doesn’t take much, so I tend to go minimalist with party packs. So a few party snacky type things, with a novelty dinosaur toy and and a small trinket for the bigger kids. Th babies got similar ones, except instead they had Squish and a baby appropriate toy as well.
My mom made a few of her yummy chocolate cake cupcakes that we adorned with the cutest Owl cpcake toppers I found over at Bugs World Party Store – great resource for your party décor, people!
I also found this cute owl cake bunting that I stuck in the BAKED cheesecake I got at Spar. (Out of all the stores, I still feel that Spar has the best baked cheesecake to offer. Careful though they run out quite quickly then you have to buy the smaller one, like I had to here.)
My mom and sis-in law made up the lovely platters from the mini fried chicken fillets my mom made, as well as pies, samosas, sausage rolls, etc.
I also provided my mom with all the ingrediants and she cooked up a nice dinner for everyone who was still there after the festivities. Best mom ever!
There wasn’t much in the way of activities, but I had set up a table for DIY Flower crowns, where all the mommies could help their girls make flower crowns for the Spring weather. I simply set out the fresh flower heads, ready for use, with the other two pieces of equipment you’ll need for this easy peazy and fun activity. I also set out the instructions in big white frames for the mamas to follow if need be. For a quick tut on that, check it out over here. My girls and I are still rockin flower crowns this spring!
Obvs this wasn’t so much up the boys ally, so I went for super hero capes. My mom made a few a capes and I tried to experient with some quick and easy ways that little boy fingers could get it to design their own logos on the capes. But that proved a bit tough. The ideas I had may work better for when they are older. So instead, I used craft glue to secure some batman logos to their black capes. This however proved a bit of a hinderance during some play, so some dads were seen sporting the capes in the mean time. Love it.
I called up Magical Parties, and they sent in the talented Natalie as a fairygod mother who did such a spectacular job of facepainting all 26 of the kids as well as crafty balloon shaping. And for her 2.5 hours of great services at about R650, it was pretty worth it.
Also ol’ faithful, Jumping castle never fails to keep the kids entertained. We always use Jolly Jumping Castles. Maybe not the very best price out there, still competitive. But they are Reliable, on time, clean, and friendly service. You know you don’t ever have to stress about them pitching up or not.
Then the one that got away: Bubbles station. I had every intention of setting this one up. I had the equipment and had already made the bubbles using my home-made recipe. (I think I finally perfected the recipe my dad used with my brother Rolff and I once upon a time. Found the missing secret ingredient to longer lasting bubbles.) I would then dispense the liquid from a huge container- thus making it a self service bubble refilling station for the kids. But as it goes with me, I forget stuff or kind of make the choice to either join in on the festivities right then or spend another 20 minutes with setups, etc. Joining the party always wins for me. Now, if you want that home-made bubbles recipe with that secret ingredient, check it out over here (link will be posted soon).
Capturing the moments
Lastly, remember how I vowed to never ever not have a photographer at our birthday parties again? Well, we managed to book the talented Heathyr of Heathyr Huss Photography and she did a wonderful job of capturing the moments of the day. She is lovely people. Not only is she good at what she does, but she is also incredibly friendly, and easily blends in with the day, thus making those spontaneous reporting style shots possible. Love that. So if you have any special that need capturing, give her a call people.
And to show you I wasn’t kidding aout this photography thing, I also had a backup photographer that day. Mike’s cousin, Allan of AJ Young Photography is definitely a rising star in the photography world and was kind enough to pop around as well. So whilst he wasn’t there for the full celebration, he managed to capture some truly sweet shots of the kids. Check him out folks!
What a day. What a celebration. Even if say so myself. Of course not everything went to spec, one or two bumps along the way. But even the wind seemed to behave that day. Wasn’t breathless, but at least no one was swept away and we could still enjoy the outdoors together.
But above all else, we got to celebrate that little firecracker of our’s, the one who proved that a parent’s heart only just expands and explodes with every kid you add. (that is If you thought there was no way in heaven your heart could ever grow more than this with the first). Whats cool is that Parker-Grace seemed to have an abslute blast, even though at the beginning, as the crowds were pouring in, she sought some refuge at her mother’s feet.
But with her awesome cousins and delightful little buddies, she was in the swing of the party in no time. Big sis of course needed no introduction to having a blast. In fact, I tried to get the jumping castle guys to sneak in, but she spotted them on her way up for her nap. Needless to say, her nap never happened. Not to mention trying to get her ready before the guests arrived was an even bigger dilemma.
What tops it always, as with every birthday we celebrate in our home, is the fact that it’s with all our loved ones. Friends and family. In fact, as my eldest brother, Louis, always said, you get to that stage in life with certain people, where your close friends become family. So here’s to family, and the magic that they fill our home with.