Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Indigo's 5th Birthday Party

For those of you who saw the photo booth post from Indigo's party, here is the second installment from the event itself. As I said before, her real birthday was in August, but we waited until school had started so everyone she wanted to invite was back on the island. Since she had chosen a circus theme like Oslo had the year before, I knew we had to make a big effort to make it different and put her stamp on it. So I started collecting images on pinterest.com and next thing I knew, I had an entire mood board for all I longed to do. Of course, working form midnight until 4am every night sewing garlands and capes could only go on for so long before delirium set in. I could have continued playing Martha Stewart forever, but as many of you know (since most people reading this blog are probably waiting for photos and therefore are painfully aware), I am months behind on my processing. Please know my regular working hours were not interrupted and I did not fall anymore behind because of this party - just my physical self fell to pieces for lack of sleep!!!

I decided to go for a more vintage circus feel this time and so cut up the remainder of old shirts that I used for the capes to make these dreamy garlands to decorate the tables - I am just smitten with the mood they gave the party. As you can see, I didn't quite get around to sewing them together, but when I saw how pretty the pearl tipped pins looked on the red ribbon, I decided to quit while I was ahead and save myself some time! Sort of wishing I hadn't cut this shirt up, for it would have fit Ben, but I went to The Closet Upstairs, which is the Red Cross charity shop, and got three brown paper bags full of men's shirts to use so Ben would have a very full closet himself right now if I had just given them all to him. Not to mention, it would have missed the point, which was to try to repurpose existing items in an attempt to lessen the impact the party had on the environment.

I used the left over bags from the popcorn machine from Oslo's party last year for the goody bags and all was eco inside except one red nose for each child which I couldn't resist as they were so circus clownish! I placed the bags in my vintage suitcase I use for shoots and got Animal Crackers and Cracker Jacks and displayed them in old world boxes and bowls too.

We rented a smaller popcorn machine this year which was so cute and much more manageable when bringing inside after the party was over! Sadly, the balloons were not eco, but no helium so at least they couldn't fly off and burst in the sky and end up in an animal or se creature's stomach so does that make it ok(ish?). 

I bought these retro tricycles long after the kids were on two wheelers since they are perfect for photo shoots. I couldn't resist dressing up Indigo's Panda in a tutu and crown and Oslo's bunny in his waistcoat and a hat - they just made the place look like it was a happening party even before anyone had arrived!

Anyone who has followed this blog knows I am a bit obsessed with this daybed we have in the garden. I dress it up in different ways and use it in shoots all the time, but I think the way it was set up on the day of the party is one of my fave looks so far. It was so breezy and the fabric of the mosquito net just billowed the entire time creating the perfect dreamy atmosphere I was hoping for.

I am so in love with the shape of this little dresser. Not a fan of the silver, though it worked on the day, but going to rectify that one of these days when I have more time. But it was ideal for making a little sweets table. Of course, half of the treats would not have been considered sweets to most kids. I had organic lollipops which were a hit, as you will see by the unattractive sticks popping out of everyone's mouths in the later shots. I bought some mints just because they are red and white and at the last minute added some goji berries in one pot and a cranberry trail mix in the other. Needless to say, at the end of the party, the lollipop pot was empty, the mint jar dented and the other two left completely full. But it looked gorgeous so I was happy and of course my kids considered all the treats on offer divine and they were the ones that counted that day!

Ben made homemade lemonade which involves taking off the zest, which luckily had to be done for the cake, and then blending up the entire lemons and pouring through a sieve. Didn't make that much but when sweetened with agave, was absolute heaven.

I had seen on pinterest peanut butter and jelly-phant sandwiches so I stole the idea but then left the kids and Tin Tin to do the cutting out. It ended up not just elephant shapes but all sorts of non-circus animals! But don't you adore my little flags. I think I love my pinking shears (why are they called that?) almost as much as my day bed - well, not quite as much, but they were so handy when making all these crafts. I just used the seamed edges of the shirt leftovers, snipped triangle shapes with my trusty sawtoothed scissors and glued them onto toothpicks - just darling.

Indigo's costume ended up being very easy as she decided she wanted to be a trapeze artist and wear her costume from her ballet show in the spring.

Oslo decided he wanted to be a monkey so that was a little more work. I made the fez out of a cup and the  sleeve I had cut off his t-shirt to make his vest, and sewed on a star shaped button. I just glued the fabric on and used one of my stocking bits that I use as hair ties for the under chin strap. The mask we made out of construction paper and another hair tie bit. Ben said it looked too good and people would think we bought it (I would be mortified - I pride myself on home made costumes!) but 2 minutes before people arrived, after a week of perfecting it, Oslo decided he didn't want to wear it so it spent the party on the table and is still in perfect condition.

For the rest of his outfit, he wore some black pjs inside out and I cut up a red shirt which he also had to wear inside out to hide the picture. At first, he was upset about the seams until I convinced him it was identical to the detailing on a real vest and it would have taken me hours to make the exact detailing that was naturally there when the shirt was inside out. He bought my story thank goodness. Phew!

Ben and I were desperate to go as something different from last year and I am usually a miracle worker at pulling any themed costume out of what we happen to have in the house. But our clown costumes just didn't come together in time. When I did a trial showing, Ben said I looked more like a vaudeville character (not appropriate for 5 year old bday party!) and he just looked beyond silly in the ballooning trousers I loaned him that kept falling down (very good clown act, but again, not appropriate for kiddie party). So he went for the old faithful look of ringmaster, and I went for another version of a fortune telling gypsy. Sadly, I couldn't find a crystal ball and my head gear fell off so I ended up just looking a bit over made up, though I didn't even look like that at the end of the day as my gorgeous new organic green eye goo simply all wore off!  But I made this little moustache which was fun and Ben enjoyed for thirty seconds!

Ben downloaded a load of circus themed music off itunes and it really made the day! In particular, our absolute fave is Tom Chapin's "How I Became A Clown". If you have never heard of him, get his music - he is utterly brilliant - so clever and with a message too - just perfect for that period between nursery rhymes and teen music. A great bday gift for all ages and genders.

We were so blessed with a gorgeous day. The forecast had been very iffy but the stars aligned for us and we had perfect weather.

The day bed ended up being a hit - the girls felt like princesses in it and the little ones kept hiding in the netting, thinking nobody could see in when they could see out - sweetness.

I set up a couple child sized tables and we covered them in newsreel paper and had cups of crayons set out. Being a girl's party, these tables had kids at them the whole time and I was so touched by some of the art and words I found on the paper at the end of the day - just so cute.

Instead of plastic prizes, we offered peanuts when kids won a game. They were then able to "buy" things like popcorn, lemonade and sweeties with their peanuts. It was amazing how the kids loved this idea and didn't feel cheated at all - it was quite the contrary - they suddenly saw the nuts at currency and did their best to become rich!!

Once again, we rented the Lucky Striker which is always such a hit (literally!!) and it is fun to see how the children work out how to best get the most power out of their strike.

Our tightrope started off on the ground but by the end of the party, a few of the kids decided to up the stakes and raised it onto some chairs! I helped make it secure as it was a bit nerve wracking but certainly made it a proper challenge.

This is where all those shirts came in handy. I used my trusty pinking shears to cut the arms and front panels off the shirts but kept the back panel, collar and top button. These make the best capes and are so eco not to mention cheap!!! I covered a cardboard box in fabric and the kids dipped their hands in to retrieve their cape. I was worried the girls wouldn't be so into the idea, but they loved them and were so thrilled they could take another thing home on top of their goody bags.

The flying hoop game ended up being created for fun at the end of the last party with the last couple kids who were still around at the very end. Originally it came about very spontaneously, but it was such a hit that we decided to make it an official game at this party and I made sure the landing pad was a little safer this time too. I used a twin mattress plus 2 sofa cushions and wrapped them up in a blanket so it all stayed together. The kids jumped through the hoop(s) and it was utterly fascinating to see all the different styles and how their darling little capes made them look like super heroes flying through the air.

 Oslo's technique was extremely disturbing to put it mildly. If his functional neurologist saw these photos, he would freak! I dread to think what the next appointment is going to be like. His skull got thrown off centre from going on a roller coaster in Nova Scotia this summer, so who knows what landing on his head repeatedly is going to do for his alignment!


When the kids weren't playing all the games or jumping in the castle, they just ran around and had fun fun fun. I just loved watching it all.

Half way through the party, Oslo came out wearing the wig I had considered wearing with my outfit - he really is such a ham!

Making the cakes for our kids' parties is always a challenge. Ben bakes them and I build, frost and decorate them. We went for lemon cake again this year and it was definitely the best tasting one so far - even people who aren't gluten, dairy and sugar free were ooh-ing and ah-ing about how delicious it was. My tip was that even though the recipe didn't call for the lemon drizzle after it came out of the oven, do it anyway!! Yum. Ben and I always have a mock battle about who really made the cake. Then Ben and I get competitive by asking everyone what exactly was so delicious - the cake or the icing. Of course, the truth is, we make such a dream team and neither of us could do as great a job with out the other. The cake is amazing because we worked together. That said, I do feel like he gets the easier part. If you add enough egg, anything will hold together and that's what he does with the cakes. But making sugar, dairy-free icing with no e numbers is not easy. I always end up using about six different recipes and combining them to make it work. But then I forget to write down what I did and have to start from scratch again for the next time. I made a lemon icing for the big cake, and raspberry filler since Indigo was keen on raspberry flavour somewhere.

I had visions of making a big top but the cake fell to pieces a bit since Ben had baked them in all sorts of different shaped and sized pans so it wouldn't really hold together when I tried to "glue" it together. I ended up just doing my best to make it sort of look like the shape of a tent. By then, the idea of getting the icing red enough and firm enough to paint stripes was just too stressful so I used the raspberries as the stripes instead. It may not have looked perfect, but it made up in taste what it lacked in aesthetics.

The other cake was a heart shape since when I asked Indigo what kind of cake she would like, she did not say lemon or indeed raspberry -  she said heart shaped. I used the detailing from one of the shirt seams to make the wee cake garlands and cut out and glued paper letters - so darling and gives a real feel of vintage circus celebrations. Since I had tonnes of left over raspberry filler from the big top cake, I simply used it as the icing for this cake and it fit perfectly with the colouring of the paper so I was please.

I gave my best friend Peta my little snappy happy camera and just set it on manual for the lighting situation. She couldn't believe I was asking her to shoot straight into the sun but didn't she do a great job at sun flare in this one?!! And proof that I was actually present during my children's childhood - a miracle.

After all the kids had had first and second helpings, all the parents could have some cake too and I myself had at least three pieces - not often I am at a party where I can eat the cake! My other celiac friends were so happy that they took loads home too.

This is all that was left over of it so I was impressed!


Here's Aunty Peta giving her fave littles a cuddle at the end of the party.

And of course more garlands that I hung in the grotto - once it was dusk, they just looked dreamy with the fairy lights and I couldn't resist one last snap.

We had the most wonderful day. Indigo felt so special surrounded by all her friends, with so many fun things to do, it all looking so beautiful and having two cakes brought out in her honour. She loved hearing everyone sing happy birthday to her and is already talking about her party next year. I on the other hand, could use a break... that is until Oslo's birthday in less than a month! xxxx


  1. This is absolutely unbelievable! I'm exhausted just looking at it. I can't imagine having your energy or creativity. You have some lucky kids!

  2. Wow! In addition to shooting our family portraits this year, would you like to plan Ava's next party? lol

  3. What a charmed life little Indigo already has...great inspiration for my daughters upcoming 6th birthday party.

  4. AMAZING. Over the top awesomeness. YOU are wonder woman.


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