Wednesday, July 29, 2015

La Café de Paris Party - c'est magnifique!

La cafe de paris Party

The day finally arrived - Sunday was Miss Fab's Paris Party at long last, after months of planning and preparation. The cakes were baked, the croissants and macarons purchased. The bunting was hung, and so were all the other homemade decorations: the Patisseries canopy, the Paris street scene sketch, the blackboard menus etc. Ooh la la, but it was all looking très magnifique!
This was a party that looked absolutely gorgeous (if I do say so myself), but the true test of a party is not whether the photos get repinned a gazillion times - it's whether the guests and the birthday girl have a fab time. By which standard this was (and I quote the birthday girl): THE BEST PARTY EVER. Which is saying a lot.

Here's some scenes of party gorgeousness:

The "Café Entrance" and Paris street scene backdrop (sketched freehand by me on a $2 plastic tablelcloth). Note the pretty bunting which I sewed myself...

La cafe de paris Party decor

The pretty pretty table...

La cafe de paris Party table setting

(Pink Striped wax paper Tablecover from PopRoc Parties layered with my grandmother's lacy vintage tablecloth; Eiffel tower from Ali Express (2-pack for $8.99 with free shipping); Popcorn served in two-types of muffin cups from PopRoc Parties; four complimentary styles of serviettes - my faves are the black and white damask ones from PopRoc Parties)

La cafe de paris Party drinks station

The Drinks Station: serving strawberry milk (du lait en fraise), strawberry iced tea (thé fraise glacé), water, sparkling or tap (l'eau pétillante ou du robinet) and café au lait for the grownups.

(Mini Blackboard bunting, paper straws, spotty pink cups and serviettes, from PopRoc Parties; straw dispenser from Look Sharp; gumball machine from Typo filled with Kool Mints.)

La cafe de paris Party table
Party at La cafe de paris - patisserie buffet canopy
[How I made the patisserie buffet canopy here]
Oh the prettiness. I was starting to feel like we might really be at a Paris Café.

La cafe de paris Party blackboard Menu & backdrop
Party at La cafe de paris - entrance

The plan for the party was very simple: Let the girls loose in the bedroom with the dressups, props and a camera, teach them a bit of basic French, then bring them into the Café where they would order their food from their menus en français, waited on by our family Garçon. There were no other structured activities or games - this was a very creative, crazy bunch of girls and I knew that they would pretty much entertain themselves, given the right environment. 

Here is Miss Fab's bedroom set up for Paris Photo Fun...

Paris Party photo background - blackboard eiffel tower
Paris Party dress ups for photo booth

Black dotty garlands sewn by me; Eiffel tower wall decal from TradeMe; polystyrene heads found on TradeMe; scarves, glasses, masks and accessories found at SaveMart; black French berets from Ali Express ($2.50 each with free shipping). Giant papier mâché baguette made by a friend and donated to the cause!
Paris Party props for photo booth
[Eiffel tower accessory tree from PopRoc Parties soon-to-launch hire collection; free printable speech balloons for photo booth here]
After providing all this awesomeness for these creative girlies to dress up in, and an intricately attempted chalkboard Eiffel Tower background, I was hoping for a bunch of very cute photos to show for it. Er, I should have remembered how amped my daughter gets in company. All seriousness flew out the window, her alter-ego "Sonya Ladean" came out in full force and, well, that was that. This is all I could get...

Paris Party photo booth craziness

And that was before they ate all those patisserie goodies. Ah well. The main thing is they had FUN right??? Cos, boy oh boy did they have fun - the volume was at fever pitch. I was afraid to let that rabble anywhere near my beautiful Parisian Café.

I had no choice but to ban silly "Sonya" from the Café. Ha ha. Abby is welcome but Sonya can stay outside. Really, if you'd seen Sonya in action, you'd know why I had to do it.

With things calming down (and the birthday girl washing off the pink lipstick that was all over Sonya's face) I gave the rest of the girls a quick lesson in Parlez vous-ing  français.

Paris Party - french lesson!

Time to eat! Bienvenue à Café de Paris!
Meet our "garçon"...

Paris Party - french waiter = "garcon!"

Daddy is always a good sport, willing to wear a moustache, put on a silly accent, and be ordered around by a bunch of hungry girls whose French leaves a lot to be desired, but who have no trouble called loudly, "Garçon! Garçon!"

Paris Party - french waiter at cafe de paris
Paris Party - french waiter at cafe de paris

Ordering food from the waiter made the process of eating the party food very entertaining...

Having fun at our cafe de paris

On the menu we had: croissants with ham and brie, garlic bread (pain a l'ail), macarons, madeleines, eiffel tower cupcakes, a fruit platter, popcorn and chips (pommes frittes), fancy "cafe de paris" biscuits and donuts. Giant pink iced donuts, just the way the birthday girl loves them. We called them "beignets" and figured what the heck.

French party food at cafe de paris
French party food at cafe de paris - macarons and madeleines

(Black footed platters from the PopRoc parties soon-to-be-launched hireage collection)

I'll be doing a whole post with recipes and how to's and recipes for the cupcakes, cookies and birthday cake soon....

French party food at cafe de paris - eiffel tower cupcake

While me and my lovely friend Mel cleared the decks a bit, I handed the girls my camera and sent them off to take more photos. Ahhh well...

Paris Party photo booth selfies

Like I said, at least they had fun.

Time to light the candles on the birthday cake and sing happy birthday.

Pink rosette birthday layer cake with eiffel tower cake topper
Pink rosette birthday cake - blowing out the candles

The birthday girl LOVED how her cake turned out. I, myself, was pretty pleased with it. (Just you professionals don't look too closely at the wobbly frosting rosettes or the hole in the middle that I managed to disguise)....

Pink rosette birthday cake

We sent the guests home with a goody bag containing an Eiffel tower pendant (how to make them/where to get them here) and a gorgeous rock-candy swizzle stick from Pop Roc parties...

Paris Party goody bags - eiffel tower pendants and pink rock candy
[Get the Free printable "Merci" tags along with loads of other useful stuff on my party  Prep post]
(They were also meant to take their french berets home but most of them forgot; I've now got a massive collection of black berets. French theme party anyone?)

All in all my amazing crazy amped-up-on-sugar-and-life birthday girl declared this party HER BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. I'm inclined to agree. This party was fun to dream up and create. It was fun on the day and the guests had a ball. And it was beautiful (so beautiful I can't bear to take down the decorations yet). What more could you want?

Paris Party birthday girl
Paris Party crazy birthday girl and posse


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

*Ooh La La* Paris Party Prep & Printables

Paris Party Prep and Printables

My beautiful girl turns 11 in less than a week, and to celebrate we are going to Paris. Well, not literally. We are pretending to go to Paris by holding an "Afternoon in Paris" party.
I'm turning my dining room into a café, we'll be speaking french and wearing berets, eating croissants, macarons and taking photos in front of the (blackboard-drawn) Eiffel Tower.

C'est Magnifique!

The inspiration for the party theme came from Miss Fab's styley black-and-white bedroom makeover. Somehow it put us in mind of Paris chic, and since I LOVE all things Paris and topped my high school french class, I was ecstatic when she said: We should do a Paris party for my birthday!

Ooh là là, mais oui! Bien sûr!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Nights of Fire and Marshmallows

Cooking over the fire and toasting marshmallows

One of my favourite things in the world is what we call "Fire Nights".
Basically, when the evening is fine - be it winter or summer - we light the brazier and cook our dinner over the flames. Sausages or chicken skewers, either will do.

Sometimes we have fire nights "just us". Sometimes we have friends over.
We snuggle under blankets on chairs pulled up as close as safety allows to the warm fireglow. 
We toast marshmallows, tell stories and play games like Truth or Dare or our fave: Circles and Triangles*.

Fire nights are the best. Nobody needs to be entertained, it's nothing complicated or fancy. We just hang out around the fire, under the lights. (Of course we may snap a pic or two, as evidence of fun times, for posterity, but otherwise gadgets are superfluous).

The last couple of weeks, I've been sole-parenting, with hubby galavanting in Europe (as you do). And of course, during his absence it's also been SCHOOL HOLIDAYS (best-of-times/worst-of-times).
But a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do, and sometimes you just need a Fire Night, even if there's no dad around to chop wood.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

We Made a Jungle

Jungle theme decor with pallet bridges

I just wanted to share with you these photos of the Jungle me and my clever friend Carla created in the foyer of the Mercury Theatre for Shout Kids school holiday programme this week. We sewed acres of vines, cut out thousands of felt leaves, sewed a four-metre giant snake, a gazillion cushions, made a waterfall from cheap taffeta and tarps and a rock wall from brown paper.
But the pièce de résistance had to be the AMAZEBALLS pallet bridges that Carla's amazing hubby made from pallets, from the dump.

Together with an army of Bible college student volunteers we pulled an all-nighter on Sunday and transformed a boring foyer into a magical jungle. All the months of planning and sewing and gluing and cutting came together and, just WOW.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

My Two Cents on the "Christian" Response to Gay Marriage

Love vs Hate

I had to write this post even though I know every man and his dog has already had their say on Social Media. In fact, that's exactly why I have to write this. Heck, America is not even my country but the stories have been clogging my Facebook feed all week, and the comments on those stories - the awful ugly comments - have literally made me sick. Actually vomitous. Like, I am lying awake at night feeling very upset.

So America has legalised gay marriage and the sky has started falling. No? OK, the end is near, fire is on it's way from Heaven, God is very upset and so is every Christian pastor who is worried he might be forced to marry gay people.... Come on!
Oh my goodness, the backlash! Is it true what my friend told me that a Texas pastor actually threatened to set himself on fire if the law was passed?
People! What the heck??!!!

My country, little ole New Zealand, legalised gay marriage back in 2013, and guess what? The sky didn't fall. The end didn't come, there was NO FIRE FROM HEAVEN to destroy us all.

Also, I've not heard of one Christian pastor who has been forced against his will to marry a gay couple.
Even stranger, the teachers at my kids' school who are gay didn't suddenly start forcing their gayness on their students. My kids are completely oblivious to the fact that some of their teachers are gay. Because guess what? The teachers are there to teach, and that's what they do. Their personal lives do not come into it. It's none of our business.

Why do I feel like I have to write a response to the outpourings of hate and judgement I have seen in my Facebook feed? Because I want to make it very clear to the people I know and love who are gay (and my straight friends who have gay people that they love) that the haters do not represent me.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

How I Turned my Reluctant Readers into Book Lovers

Turning Reluctant Readers into Book Lovers

Hi, my name is a Mrs Readalot and I'm a bookaholic. I gave birth to three energetic offspring who rarely sat still long enough to pick up a book. Not one of them showed any librarian tendencies. All of them were Reluctant Readers. It fair broke my heart, I tell you.
I've known since my youngest days the magic of books.
Books contain worlds. They expand our horizons. They let us inside other people's heads. Reading fiction even helps develop empathy (and combats narcissism).
"A recent study found that reading fiction helps people improve their empathy, because it encourages them to place themselves in others’ lives and understand their actions. In that way, reading is like traveling — with your mind." (Source)

For all these reasons and more I was desperate for my children to love books, I wanted them to enjoy rainy evenings snuggled in bed with a good book, nodding off to sleep as the rain pitterpatters on the roof and the book grows heavy in their hands, their eyelids droop and they slip into dreamland...