In typical us fashion, we had Oslo's birthday party quite a bit later than his big day, though this time it was more planned than usual. Firstly, Oslo wanted to have a Christmas themed party and since his official day is in mid November, we thought it might be a bit over keen to be fully Christmas kitted out that early, plus one of his dear friends was away and not returning until December so we waited until it it was the proper holiday season. We asked all his guests to come in Christmas costumes, and Oslo was insistant on dressing as a reindeer since he had this weird reindeer-horns-and-nose-thing that was all white. But then, the day before the party, we realised he had nothing to go with this (very bizar and ugly) head dress (thankfully!). So we tore the house to pieces and finally decided upon an elf as his character given what we had in the closets. He wore a green shirt of mine with his school belt and some old tights of mine with knots in the toes to help them fit a bit better. Not sure how they felt inside his cowboy boots, but he is not one for complaining if he thinks it is the right look. I used the old wee cedar Christmas tree skirt as his neck ruffle, and found buried in a ski bag his mad hat - must be Ben's from a previous life but we loved it and think it made the outfit!
I decided to copy Oslo and dress like and elf as well, though truth be told, I was also disorganised and had originally planned on going as Mrs Clause, but then discovered that I also had not a thing to wear that was even close - odd this hadn't twigged sooner than the night before the party. But I was able to pull something unflattering together and Oslo liked it since it made us twins so as long as he was happy, so was I.
Luckily, I had seen a Santa suit costume when I was out shopping for the advent calendar and it was not even that expensive. I knew we would use it a ton since we love dressing up, so at least Ben, who tends to be the chief entertainer at the parties (I am chief make-things-prettier), it was only correct that he be well kitted out.
At the last moment, instead of going as an elf, Indigo went as an angel as that was what was on hand in her wardrobe too! Her Auntie Amanda very sweetly came over to help prepare and she dressed her, secured her wings and made her halo - she looked like such a little sweetheart.
The other reason Oslo had decided to have a Christmas themed party, aside from the weird reindeer hat that never even made an appearance, was because years ago, this sleigh came into our lives. Oslo decided it was perfect to have his guests put presents in as they arrived and so I had been planning on how to make it a feature of the garden decorations. My friends know this already, but I am mad about all things old and charming. Ben is forever saying how I love other people's rubbish and that I am a bottom feeder and I do adore the expression about one man's trash being another man's (or my!) treasure. So one day, I was driving the kids to school and saw at the bottom of some friends' drive this sled out with all their rubbish. I couldn't believe they would be throwing it out so thought I would drop the kids first and if it was still there on the side of the road when I returned and the trash truck hadn't taken it away, I would grab it for photo shoots. So half an hour later, it was still there in amongst all the bags of rubbish so I pulled over and loaded it into my car. Nearly killed myself as it weighed so much and Ben was furious when I did my back in. But I was thrilled and couldn't wait to incorporate it into clients' holiday card sessions. That night, the phone rang and the friend who lived up the hill from where I picked up the sled accused me of stealing. I went all hot and tingly and was so embarrassed and confused. It was out with the rubbish, I blubbed, but he insisted they had just set it out and had gone up to the house for the decorations but when they returned ready to adorn it, it was gone. I wanted to die. I stammered that another friend had stopped too as she wanted it as well and she was the one who insisted I took it, but he didn't stop sounding furious at what a thieving fool I was. I was so mortified - not that I took it for I am all about recycling and am not above re-using someone's discarded items, but that I had mistaken it for their trash. I kept asking why it was surrounded by trash bags and right on the curb rather than set back a bit but he kept on and on. In fact, every time I see them, they still mention it. Turned out, that he was just pulling my leg (and every other nerve in my body - I was traumatised with guilt) and that they had indeed tossed it as it was rotting. It had been a prop in his mum's shop which had closed and it was just rotting in her garden. So this gorgeous tossed out sleigh finally had its day to shine as the key feature at Oslo's seventh birthday party. I dressed up Bunny and Pandy in their holiday best and they led the way on their Radio Flyer trikes and Rudolf the red nosed reindeer balanced up front on the handle bars wearing a nose left over from Indigo's Circus party.
I have recently discovered pinterest.com and it is seriously addictive and time consuming. But it is also amazingly inspiring and helps to wake up the creative in me from shoot ideas to entertaining to crafts with the kids. I have folders for everything. These cute little reindeer cupcakes were stolen from a pin and they were just darling to look at. Sadly, they were actually rather revolting to taste. It is a long story, but we went shopping late and the gluten free flour we always use was all out and so I bought some alternatives. The muffins were not ideal and then, it was very late the night before the party when we were baking and by the time I was making the icing, it must have been 2am ad Ben and I were beyond ready to go to bed. I asked Ben to taste the icing and he said it was fine. It was not. It was so disgusting, I cannot imagine what I had done wrong. All I used was butter, cocoa and agave syrup. I think I may have added a little ground up flax seed for thickening but to be fair, it was gross even before I added that. But at least they look pretty in the pics and hopefully somebody will pin these images and make better tasting ones than these were.
By contrast, these were probably the best tasting gluten free brownies ever made in the history of baking. Those dimples in the middle of all of them is a blob of fudge that sank to the bottom and caramelised into gooey divineness. I made them in heart and star shapes and although they were not as artistic looking, a couple cherries and some Christmas balls made all the difference. And I am smitten with my Christmas present to my self of these lovely mercury glass cake stands - can't see them too well in these pics but believe me, they are gorgeous.
One thing I had not planned on that day was rain. It poured on and off all day. I was gutted. Of course nobody else minded, but to me, who is so visually driven, I could not set the scene I had hoped for nor was I able to make it as magical as I had planned for my little boy. Poor Oslo kept checking the sky for me just before his friends arrived for I had brainwashed him into thinking it was important that it all looked perfect. Once they were all at the party, nobody could put their gifts in the back of the sleigh, and we spent most of the time throwing tarps over the sofas and carpets I had set up outside and racing bedding from the daybed back inside.
I love outdoor settings using indoor furniture so you can imagine how it offended my sense of the aesthetic to have these ugly tarps covering the scene half of the time. I know I should have been thankful this is the first party in seven years when it rained, but of course I was not thinking like that on the day - I was feeling smited!!
Nonetheless, despite the rains, the guests did come (part of me wished we could just reschedule, but it was all done and there was no turning back). I love this image below of the Ghost of Christmas Past serving up popcorn.
In between showers, we were able to be outside and enjoy the (damp) setting. One other thing that was different about this party compared to all the others we have had for the children was that there were a lot of friends from Oslo's new school invited. Previously, it has been all family friends so the party ends up being as much a party for the adults as the kids. I hadn't specified whether or not it was a drop off party, and I didn't even give an end time as I like people to stay late and order pizza and light a fire and roast marshmallows, but it ended up mainly being a drop off party, perhaps because that is what people are used to. Some of the kids literally jumped out of their cars and I didn't even meet the parents which made me feel how old Oslo must be now for that was a sign if ever there was one. Made me realise I am one seriously precious mama bear, though that is not my intention at all. I like to hang at parties as I like to get to know the other parents and also just to watch all the cuteness and interactions. But I suppose when your child is going to a larger school and the parties are a little more frequent, that is how one rolls - I just haven't been in that situation before so am a total newbie at the whole kids drop off thing. It was great though and luckily some parents did stay which I was thrilled about. Not that I said a word to any of them for I was stressing so much about the weather, but I like to think they at least appreciated my Christmas tree shaped nibbles and hopefully each other!
Ben wasn't trying to trick any of the kids into thinking he was Santa. He was clear he was Oslo's Daddy just wearing a suit like Santa's, but in perfect Ben style, he saved the day with his entertaining. I had bought all these darling little wooden boxes for the children to decorate before heading out on their scavenger hunt. I put them in this red felt sack that appeared out of nowhere miraculously and Ben sat on the daybed and played Santa, making all the kids sit on his knee to retrieve their box. I was in fits of giggles, as were all the kids. He used a mock Santa voice (actually, a mildly creepy one but it was funny given what he kept saying) and asked each child what he or she wanted for Christmas. In the beginning, the poor sweet hearts would answer honestly, listing computer games and teddies and all things typical. He would bellow out a laugh, say he would look in his sack to see what he could find. He dug around and then whipped out a box. "A box!" he would say dramatically, and then send that little on on her way to the decorating table before the next
The decorating stations were all a buzz with creativity. Loads of mess but lots of fun.
It's so funny because at Indigo's party, I took more photos of Oslo, and on Oslo's special day, I took more pics of Indigo. Not meaning to in either case, but all I can think is that the birthday boy or girl were such tornados of excitement, that it was easier to track the sibling who was less of a whirlwind.
Ben organised the most incredible scavenger hunt. There were two teams - one working in the front garden, and the other in the back garden. I had made flags with a Christmas tree on one, and a star on the other which were their team logos. Ben had written obscure clues on bits of paper and tied them in hidden spots about the place and each team had to work together to figure out where the clue led them to in order to find the next clue.
It is a bit tragic I didn't get any shots of the kids finally finding their destination. Both teams' clues led them to the old sand pit that is now filled with stinking decomposing seaweed that Ben leaves in the pit as a holding station until the rains have rinsed the seaweed sufficiently before he adds it to his organic garden as fertiliser. He buried two of my beautiful antique wooden boxes in this seaweed - filled to the brim with beads, crystals, marbles, river stones, and other treasures. The kids all were very diplomatic and shared the loot evenly amongst all the teammates and they filled their own wee boxes as much as they could.
As I mentioned, we weren't able to get the usual gluten free flour we usually used - for those who are gluten free, Pamela's Pancake mix is the miracle maker and makes everything just taste better. Sadly, we couldn't buy any so I found 4 different alternative brands but I am sad to say that none of them even came close in comparison. In fact, the cakes were even bigger disasters than the reindeer cupcakes. They were pretty much raw in the centres, and totally dried out and tasteless on the edges. But at least in the cake's case, the icing was actually delicious so we found plates with licked off remains - I don't think there was a single guest who ate their cake. Bless Oslo and Indigo's poor deprived hearts, they claimed to think the cake was good - I don't know if they just wanted it to taste great because it was our party, or if their goal posts are just in such a warped position given their limited diets, but either way, they were deeply grateful and complimentary of the inedible creation. Just made my heart melt. But at least they looked pretty and perhaps there are people who only look at this blog and don't actually read any of my senseless babble and they will think we are domestic gods and goddesses after all!
I am obsessed with garlands at the moment - I just think they make things look so festive so am using them everywhere.
Ben's sense of Santa fashion is all about comfort first...
My sister, Amanda, very kindly took these photos during cake time. I am always so very thankful as I do sometimes wonder if the kids will forget parts their childhoods (the bits with me!) if I am not in any of the photos to help them remember. Of course, like anyone my age, I cringe when I see pics of myself as I still see a 22 year old babalicious, but photos remind me that this is indeed not the case.
Couldn't resist including this sweet little series my sister took of Indigo.
When I was 12 years old, my friend Tiffany and I spent our summer in Canada in a pedalo out on a lake eating peanut butter and pickles and practicing how to whistle. Every day we practiced. And now I use it when I need it and it is one of the best tools I have.
Love these pics Amanda took of me with my little love bug. The light is not great (never been a fan of grey day hooded eyes) but the emotion is still there and I treasure them all the same. Gave me a glimpse into my clients' happiness, even when the light was not glowy, that they still loved their images. I love these. Thank you Amanda! xxx
After the cake, I could finally relax. The kids just raced around and had fun with nothing organised and I sometimes think that is the best part of any party. And I could finally sit down and relax and enjoy just watching Oslo have fun on his special day.
And everything gone at the end of a party is always satisfying too (obviously not the cakes or reindeer cupcakes, but everything else!). And the mess - I just love the mess - not for all the cleaning up that lays ahead, but for the memories of the fun that was had - that is worth all the work before and after.
So glad you had such a fun day my sweet little seven year old boy - it was fun and no amount of rain was going to take that away from us! Love you xxx