My motto about cooking is that I don’t do it much, but when I do, it’s something I saw on Pinterest. We throw a big holiday party every year. Last year, I introduced these puff pastry Christmas trees, and they’ve … Continue reading
Mother’s Day is coming up tomorrow, which is probably not news to anyone, except my family, who realized yesterday… Anyway, I have very mixed feelings about this holiday. It’s the day that makes me think of my mom the most, and those memories are very sweet, but it’s hard for me to push past missing her to actually feel happy and excited.
Life conspired perfectly this year, as one of my good friends celebrated her birthday the day before Mother’s Day, and I hosted a small brunch for her. It felt very meaningful to put together this event, using treasures that are full of stories for me. Sipping tea, laughing, and pouring our hearts out with my dear mom friends was something I could wholeheartedly feel good about, so I’m calling today my own version of Mother’s Day.
Lots of special stories behind our brunch table, which I hope you will enjoy as much as we did!
Tulips! These are among my favorite flowers and remind me of springtime growing up. We don’t see many in San Francisco, but I’m hoping to go visit a tulip festival some day.
The little succulent was rescued from a work dinner I attended, and it’s growing in a pretty Anthropologie mug I was given by my dear coworker. The small blue and white vase on the stand was my grandmother’s.
I started collecting tea cups when I was planning Nicola’s baby shower, and I love the stories behind each one – the one on the right was actually a gift from Nicola!
These plates were given to me by one of my mom’s closest friends, about eight years after my mom died. She told me that she had seen them in an antique shop while shopping with my mom, and my mom went back to buy them for her. I remember both of these kind, generous, and loving women, when I use them.
The ginger jar on the left and the Blue Willow tea cup are thrift store finds!
I am running low on stories, so just enjoy this picture!
Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who enjoy this holiday. And if you, like me, find it difficult or complicated, I hope you find something meaningful to celebrate… like a giant fiddle leaf fig that is “mother” to many cuttings I have propagated and shared!
Hmmm, some pictures of our food!
Sending love to all who need it,
Julie, aka “Jewels”
I know I’m not alone in starting this year with a real fire lit under me to start cleaning and de-cluttering our house. I first read Marie Kondo’s book a few years ago, but with her new show, she’s somehow getting even more popular, and I am on the wagon!
After doing a major closet cleaning, my friends and I decided that we would have a little clothing swap party to see if we could find some new items that “spark joy,” all without spending a penny! It was SO MUCH FUN!
I ended having a small get-together, which was just as much for the company as for anything else. A couple of my close friends from work and I are always admiring each other’s style and wear similar sizes, so this was an easy guest list to put together.
Admittedly, I would have fun doing just about anything with these girls, but the clothing swap was truly a blast! Of course, there was the excitement of getting something new for free! But on top of that, it was a great feeling to see things that I really liked but just didn’t work on me fit perfectly on my friends. Not to mention, there were some good stories behind some of these items!
A couple of my favorite “new” items are this leather tote bag and the little pendant necklace on the dresser.
Even though our party was small, I take party planning seriously, so I’ve gathered some of my best tips for a clothing swap of any size!
Before the party
- Choose your guest list, considering people’s styles and sizes. Your guests don’t all have to have the same style or size, but it helps if everyone has at least one or two people who would be good matches
- Choose the types of items to include – besides clothes, consider accessories, such as scarves, bags, jewelry, and shoes. Set guidelines about quality and condition of items, as well as how many items you want to include
- Prepare your space with room to display clothes, as well as places to try things on and a mirror – since I invited just a couple of close friends, I actually hosted in my bedroom, which was the easiest place to find hanging space and mirrors!
- Provide snacks, keeping in mind things that can be eaten while shopping
- Consider adding signs and cute shopping bags as decorations
At the party
- Arrange items neatly by category to make it easier to browse
- Allow a window-shopping period, so everyone gets a chance to discover their favorite finds
- Decide on an order for “shopping,” for example by drawing lots or based on how many items each person brought
- In a larger group, allow one person or a small group to shop at a time, and decide on a limit for each group – either a maximum number of items or a fixed amount of time
- Since there were just three of us, we just tried things on and checked in with each other before claiming an item – it was so easy and fun!
I’m a little sad it will take us years to accumulate enough stuff for another swap, but we’ll definitely find another excuse to get together and have fun soon!
Julie aka “Jewels”
I love hosting parties because of the great food and company. And, to be honest, entertaining is also exactly the kick in the behind I need to work on fun projects around the house. We’re hosting a parent social in a few weeks, and I’m working on some decorations that will be festive and a touch glamorous, to help us all escape for a few hours from the daily routine.
One project I was excited to do was this “CHEERS” party banner. You could use this idea with any saying for all kinds of occasions, like weddings or birthdays. If you want to make one for your next shindig, here’s how I did it.
- Gold contact paper
- Tissue paper
- Cut out the cardstock with points at the bottom
- Cut out letters from the gold contact paper (remember to sketch your letters backwards!) and center on the cardstock
- Punch holes in the top corners of the cardstock
- String on to twine
- Add tissue paper tassels (I used these instructions)
Here are a couple more pictures of our fun party banner!
Can’t think of a better way to sign off than saying “Cheers!”
Oh, I honestly love any project that involves paper!
For a friend’s bridal shower, I offered to set up a photo booth and make some other decorations, which was the perfect excuse to try making these giant paper flowers.
- 12×12 Cardstock – I used 3-4 sheets for the outer petals and one more sheet for the inner petals on each flower; you can cut two leaves from a sheet of green cardstock
- Muffin cups for the centers
- Cardboard for the backing
- Tacky glue or hot glue
- I started with this template and tutorial for giant paper roses
- Because my cardstock was 12×12, I used the template to cut one each of sizes 1, 2, and 3 out of each sheet of cardstock. I made a smaller size 4 and used that to cut out the inner color
- I varied the tips of the petals to get some variety (the pink-red and purple flowers follow the template; the blue has pointed petals, and the yellow and pink-yellow flowers have heart-shaped petals)
Here’s how the flowers looked in our photo booth. The backdrop is a striped shower curtain.
Any ideas of where to put the flowers until our next event?
Canada Day is coming up this Friday, July 1. My ex-pat friends and I had the pleasure of celebrating a little early today. “What is a Canada Day party?” some of our American friends asked. Well, a regular Canada Day party is a nice summer picnic or barbecue, but when you are an ex-pat, you have to go over-the-top to assert your Canadian-ness, and today was a good example.
Setting the scene:
And some more subtle elements like these Hudson Bay striped pillows:
So much good music comes out of Canada. You will have no problem putting together a playlist with artists like Bare Naked Ladies, Sarah Mclachlan, Bryan Adams, Tragically Hip, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morisette, and so many more!
Food and drink:
You can find Canadian beers, wines, and soft drinks at specialty stores like BevMo. We also enjoyed Nanaimo bars, smoked salmon, “Timbits” (donut holes), and other treats.
Be sure to add these adorable igloo ice cubes!
Falling in July, Canada Day is not typically celebrated with snowball fights, but that didn’t stop us from having a ball with Snowtime Anytime.
Happy Canada Day to my friends at home and all over the world!
Yes, yes, our third of three (do we get a special trophy?) Pokemon birthday parties is in the planning stages. I try to give our guests one special party favor that has more lasting power than a bunch of smaller … Continue reading
As the youngest of three boys, I’m disappointed to confess that JJ has a lot interests that are not particularly age-appropriate for a four-year-old. So, I’m always happy to encourage him when he gets excited by something more wholesome than Power … Continue reading
This year, L is turning 9, and since his birthday falls at the start of his youth baseball season, I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a retro baseball theme.
He wanted to hold the party at a trampoline place, which took care of the activities for the kids. This allowed me to have some fun putting together decorations, favors, and a ballpark menu.
Since we had a table in the middle of the trampoline space, I couldn’t make use of the walls for decorations.
I did find a little spot to hang our reusable birthday banner, customized for the baseball theme.
I also bought a set of these 12″ table number holders to display posters and signs. I found various retro-looking baseball posters and printed them with birthday messages and signs for the food and displayed them around the table.
We had a ballpark-inspired menu including:
- hot dogs and sausages with fixings, served in these red-and-white checked food trays (link to: Retro hot dog sign)
- Popcorn served in these red-and-white striped boxes (link to: Retro popcorn sign)
- sparkling water (link to: Retro soda sign)
Each boy also got Cracker Jack in old-fashioned packaging.
I created these charming gift tags to go with the party favors.
What a fun time we had celebrating!
Here’s a quick summary of the recent Superhero-related posts:
The capes were very simple to make, though I will admit that making them for 10 kids took longer than I anticipated. It all worked out, though, and it was adorable to see all the little heroes running around our house and yard in their super capes! J and L wanted to be Superman and Batman, so I made them capes specifically for that, but the rest of the capes were a mix of fun colors and patterns.
You can make your own cape pattern that fits kids from about two to seven years old:
- For the body of the cape, I cut a piece of fabric that was 32″ long. It was 29″ in wide at bottom, tapering to 19″ wide at top, and I cut a curve for the neckline.
- The neckline is finished with bias binding in a matching color to the body of the cape.
- For the accent fabric, I cut a strip of fabric that was 5″ wide and 29″ long.
- I used a short section (about 1 inch) of velcro for the top.
- I ironed down a 1/2″ hem on both long sides of the accent fabric strip and sewed it to the body of the cape, near the bottom edge.
- I finished the neckline of the cape with bias binding
- I hemmed the bottom and sides of the cape
- Finally, I added velcro to the top corners to close the cape.
I love the variety of each of these. I even made a little baby version for my “niece” C.
You don’t have to make the capes yourself to have a fun costume party. I have found great costumes of all kinds at low prices on Zulily:
Have fun saving the world, little ones! Happy birthday, J!