Monthly Archives: March 2013

Beautiful Parties Magazine Fail – Part One

So Matilda turned eight last week.  My baby girl is now officially a tween (ugh! I hate that word!).  And this year is a party year

As we have spent a good deal of Matilda’s lifetime rebuilding our house, this would be our first chance to have a proper “home party”.  And I really wanted to make it special.   Matilda and I could decide on a theme together and then I would hit Pinterest with great vigour!

So when Matilda suggested that she would most like a party in the evening, when she and her friends could eat pizza and watch a DVD, I felt a little crestfallen: it was a great idea, but it all sounded so very grown up.  Had my baby girl outgrown cupcakes and Pass the Parcel?

Matilda must have seen the expression on my face because she put her hand on my knee.  “Don’t worry Mummy,” she said soothingly, “you can still put up bunting if you want.”

I soon cheered up when I started to think about it.  The girls could wear their pyjamas and bring their favourite soft toy.  We could call it a ‘star light’ party and put up fairy lights and pretty candle lanterns and have star-shaped glitter everything!

In the week leading up to the party, I set to work getting ready.  I shopped, I made a big batch of gingerbread stars for the girls to decorate (I cut the star shapes and put them on the tray, Harry cut them and put them in his mouth); I baked a cake (Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake, because I was trying to channel Nigella, don’t you see?), I poured jelly into my lovely vintage-Tupperware jelly mould (ditto).  And I cleaned like you wouldn’t believe.

You see, Other Mothers would be coming to my house for the first time.  And many of these Other Mothers had not already formed (bad) impressions of how I keep house.  Yes, I know: vanity, thy name is Kate…

I have been known in the past to write out a full running sheet for my kids’ parties and I had every intention of doing the same for this one, but in the end I ran out of time and had to content myself with a sketchy timetable.  They would decorate biscuits when they arrived, then snuggle down and watch a movie with snacks and cosy blankets, eat pizza in the intermission, watch the rest of the movie, sing Happy Birthday and eat cake (and jelly!) and then go home with their lolly bags, happy and contented and full of good cheer.

I had been a little stuck on what to do for the birthday cake.  So I asked my friend, Jack Sprout (from Beautiful Parties Magazine) for advice.  And, oh, her face just lit up as her brain fired off one beautiful, creative idea after the other.  And her enthusiasm was infectious.  In a frenzy of inventive zeal, we decided on a bed-shaped cake with royal icing (the type you knead and roll out) for the cover and a tim tam for a pillow.  Then Jack almost fell over and couldn’t talk – what if I put a little crochet bedcover on top????

We both went home to think about what to do about the bed head (I deal with serious issues in my line of work).  Biscuit stick bed posts? A block of chocolate? Cardboard?  Then Jack called me on the phone: “this is probably a little over-the-top, but what about gingerbread?”

Yes, Jack, I thought, that is a little over-the-top.  I will not be making gingerbread. And I went out and bought a packet of bedpost-shaped biscuit sticks.

But I couldn’t get the idea of a cute storybook bed heads out of my own head.  With little cut-out hearts.  And then I figured I’d be making gingerbread stars anyway, and Jack had loaned me her very-cute biscuit cutters, I might as well make a bed head as well…

Incidentally, I used this excellent and very simple recipe from The Green Dragonfly.

This is the only picture I took on the night of the party and it’s not a very good one.  I’m really cross at myself for not taking any more pictures, which is why I’m probably going to be spending more time writing about this party than would be interesting to read about.

Matilda's Bed Cake

It doesn’t look as beautiful as it did in my mind.  I made a mess of the icing (how are you supposed to evenly dye that stuff?), the gingerbread got a little wonky, and I never made the tiny string of bunting I’d planned to hang between the bed posts (it would have looked so sweet!), but I did remember to put tiny teddies on the bed (after I took the photo, alas!) and Matilda was properly delighted with the whole rigmarole.

On the day of the party, we worked like crazy.  I strung up some fairy lights (from the Christmas tree) whilst Harry and Christopher Robin stuck star-shaped decorations (post-it notes) all over the house.  Matilda put lollies into little paper bags, Christopher Robin stuck star stickers on the little paper bags and Harry took the lollies out of the little paper bags and ate them.  I carefully vacuumed and put down a table cloth with the star biscuits, cachous beads and little tubes of ‘writing icing’.  I put the DVD (Disney’s Brave) into the DVD player.  Then we all put on our pyjamas (Matilda had a pretty new pair especially for the occasion).

And the little girls began to arrive.

I’m going to put an intermission in here as this is already a long post and we have a long way to go yet (oh boy, do we have a long way to go!)

But the scene is set, at least.

Couch Parenting

Kate on couch

Ugh.  I’m sick today.  I spent a good part of last night violently expelling all matter from my digestive system and now I’m lying, white and wan, on the family room couch.

Harry is happily watching Play School, the first of many TV shows he w ill be treated to today.  Annie is protesting my decision to  put her down for a nap.  I advised her to put her grievances down in writing and leave them on my desk.  I would take them into consideration in due course.

Matilda and Christopher Robin are at school now, after a truly horrific school run.  Mr Knightley was a hero, putting together their lunches (practical, manly lunches) and packing Christopher Robin’s swimming bag (it would be the first day of swimming lessons today!)

But this didn’t stop Matilda’s inability to find her shoes, Christopher Robin’s inability to sit still and eat his breakfast, Harry’s refusal to wear clothing or Annie’s refusal to treat her Vegemite toast as anything other than a moisturising loofah scrub.

Here, I would  love to write that I took a deep breath and gently admonished my children, ushering them to the car with a minimum of fuss.

But that isn’t what happened.

Dragon Lady had already fully materialised when, en route to school, I discovered that Matilda had left her practical, manly lunch on the kitchen bench.

Rather than heaving a little sigh and establishing a habit chart with coloured stars to help Matilda develop her organisational skills, I decided instead to launch into a loud and incoherent rant so savage that Matilda got all teary, as I simultaneously executed a wobbly three-point-turn and sped back home.

I had to drop them off at the school office, they were that late…

But that’s all over now.  Stretching out on the couch, I’m studiously ignoring the breakfast dishes and focusing on nothing more strenuous than texting Jan about the latest plot developments in Downton Abbey and marveling at how half the children in the village have hair in precisely the same shade of ginger as Postman Pat and yet nobody else sees this as suspicious.

Oh, and I’m writing this post, of course.  A long, rambling, completely indulgent post with no real point to it.  I’m writing it out in longhand with Matilda’s fancy new gel pens.  They cheer me up and I figure she owes me.

When did Thomas the Tank Engine get to be so LAME?  They need to hire some better writers.  The good Reverend W would NOT be impressed.

So think of me, carefully nibbling rice crackers and sipping mineral water (and then eating chocolate because I figure if it does come back up. I’d want it to taste interesting).  Much as I hate being sick, I’m kind of enjoying having a leave-pass to do nothing (even if it does mean having to suffer through such baffling programming as The Ha Ha Hairies)

Damn!  Annie just woke up!

Beautiful Parties Magazine

Party Table

Aaah!  Let’s look at some beautiful, inspirational pictures together.  A month or so ago, my friend Jack Sprout (a lady, not an incredibly gay man) threw a birthday party for her daughter, who is a friend of Matilda’s.  As we went through mothers’ group together, I have seen many of Jack’s parties and they are always a visual feast.  But I think this rainbow-themed one was especially lovely.

babycino cakes

Ahhh!

Rainbow cupcakes

Oooh!

Ice cream station

Sigh!  This one was an icecream parlour.  At one stage in the party, the icecream came out, at all the little girls chose toppings and sprinkles.  It was a winner!

pom poms

Mmmmm… I know, deep down, that I could never execute a party on this scale.  But this doesn’t worry me. It makes my creative brain happy to know that something this beautiful is happening somewhere in the world.  I never feel jealousy or competition towards Jack because she doesn’t do these things to compete with other mums (if it was, it would kind of be like breaking through the finish line and then going on to do twenty-seven victory laps). I suspect she gets a beautiful creative idea in her head (or sees something lovely on the internet) and it fills her with manic energy that drives her to make it happen.  She has such lovely taste.

Birthday cake

I don’t know if you’re thinking what I was thinking when I saw this cake.  It’s definitely beautiful and the little garland of circles (made with a sewing machine) is just darling, but – I don’t know – isn’t it a little understated for Jack?

Rainbow Cake

Oh I should have known!  And it was yummy too!

So, while I would never put in the level of preparation Jack does, going along to this party did get me thinking about what I was going to do when Matilda turns 8.

More on that presently (or not-so-presently, depending on when I next get alone-time on the computer!)