Over the past few years, and especially in the last sixteen months, I have come to accept that not everything I do, party I throw, gift I give is going to be a Pinterest-worthy masterpiece. It’s just not going to happen. It’s not necessarily that it cannot happen because anything is possible, but at what cost? I am absolutely never going to spend time making hand-made holiday crackers (yep, did that) if it means less time with my little. I know that at some point there will be a day where we can craft together, but we aren’t there yet, and even when we are, the days of perfection are long gone.
The first few times I attempted to entertain as a new mama were stressful to say the least. I really did believe that it was normal, and expected, to do it all. To live on as if nothing major had changed. Ha. So, the table was on point, but I was a mess, literally and figuratively. At the end of the day, I’m sure my family and friends would much rather have a messy, relaxing, mismatched dinner than watch me run around like a maniac covered in gold-foil (yes, I gold foiled the glasses).
I’m taking a new approach.
I love to make things and I love to plan. One of my favourite things to do is to organize a dinner, plan the meal, and assemble the tablescape. I’m not giving up on all that, but I just think that entertaining in general needs to become a little more effortless. I think it’s all about a careful balance of thinking and planning ahead, and then letting the pieces fall where they may. It’s not a flawless system quite yet, but I’m working on it, and I thought I would share my favourite tips for creating a fun, easygoing, kid-friendly event for whatever gathering you have planned this summer.
Pick you palette (and stick to it) // I am not saying that you should have a theme for each and every event. I’m saying pick a permanent palette and build on it. I find that neutral serve ware, table linens and tabletop décor is a smart choice that allows you to mix and match as often as you want without have to buy something new each time. Ivory napkins, wooden platters and simple white dishes can take on any personality you need them to and can be reused and styled from season to season. Summer tip, if you find a good set of plastic wine glasses or melamine plates, stock up! Use them outside in the summer and inside for the kids during the colder months (or for the clumsy adults).
Technology is your friend // Trust me, I would love to be able to hand-letter, label and mail invitations, but let’s be serious here…There are much easier ways to get the job done, and it doesn’t need to feel like a cheat. I personally use Paperless Post for most of my invites, and I often find a pre-designed layout that I love. If the stars align and I have an extra hour during naptime, I will sometimes design my own and upload it, but at the end of the day, being able to track RSVPs and send group messages makes an online service like this just too easy to ignore.
Simplify, simplify, simplify // And them simplify again. If you’ve got a ton of people coming over, I think the easiest way to go about the food situation is to create one meal with room to customize. Flatbreads, burgers, tacos, anything that allows your guests to pick and choose or build themselves will avoid any stress about catering to specific diets or preference. This is especially true with kids involved because how and what they will agree to eat can be a challenge. Make sure you have a vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy free option along with plenty of make-ahead sides, and you won’t be scrambling last minute trying to make something new while you could be sipping a glass of rose.
Put yourself in their shoes // I forget to do this sometimes, but it has probably been the most helpful shift in my thought process. If there is anything I feel like I’m running out of time for, or if something isn’t turning out quite as planned, I am trying to remember to think about it from my guest’s perspective. What is going to make their time more enjoyable. Will anyone even notice if the napkins are colour-blocked and coordinated with the flowers on the table. I might, yes, but honestly, no one else cares. Put your own ego aside for a second, throw some ikea napkins in a cute mason jar, and call it a day.
Add in a surprise // A little something special, that no expects or requires, is such a nice way to make everyone feel welcomed and appreciated. This does not have to be a big deal, nor does it have to cost you a ton of time and money. Have your kids help if you want, but taking an hour to create something unique. I love to give little plants in the summer or a tree ornament around the holidays. Quick, simple, thoughtful…No need for extravagance, just a little thinking ahead. Bonus points if you come up with an activity for the kids that sends them home with a take-away, but make sure it’s something you would be happy to have in your home as well. Leave the glitter pens for another day please!
Wishing you all the best for BBQ season, and share your party picks with us on Instagram. I love to see how all you talented, gorgeous mamas make it all work and would love to follow along with all your clever party hacks!
St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and most definitely Valentine’s Day are spring holidays that bring on the arrival of brightly coloured, sprinkle encrusted sugar cookies. Though they may look festive and inviting, most grocery story plastic clam shell specials are likely to disappoint or even break a tooth. Sugar cookies in general have a bad reputation for being too sweet and having the texture of adorably shaped chunks of drywall. They may seem simple and there are a million recipes online that only have slight variations in the ingredients. The key is a balance between the butter, sugar and flour. This will results in a crisp around the edges, soft and chewy in the middle cookie that is a great blank slate for all your decorating aspirations. These sugar cookies have only 7 ingredients and they are easy to bring together with a stand-up mixer or by hand if you are in need of an at-home arm workout.
Begin by mixing the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. I consistently skip this step but it really does speed up the mixing process to have the flour mixture prepared before you get too far into the recipe. Make sure you allow the butter adequate time to soften before you get started. It can be tempting to melt the butter or force your mixer to work overtime but neither option will be as successful as putting the block of butter on the counter the night before.
Once the chunk is beat up to a light and fluffy butter cloud of goodness, add in the sugar, egg and vanilla while the mixer is running on medium slow speed. Then add in the conveniently premixed dry ingredients slowly allowing the flour to be completely incorporated between additions. From experience, I recommend not leaving the mixer running while you do this…especially if you are wearing a dark colour. Once your mixture has completed come together, you can turn it out on to the counter.
One caution, some sugar cookie dough can be very dry and crumbly. To avoid this you may need to add a teaspoon or two of milk if your dough is too dry. Try to resist the urge to add more flour if your dough seems overly sticky. You can incorporate some of your bench flour while rolling out the cookies instead.
On a lightly floured surface, bring the dough together into a log-ish shape. Divide the log in half and shape each half into a disk about 1 inch thick, wrap each disk with plastic wrap and throw them in the fridge until you are ready to bake the cookies. If you are in a cold or dry place, like we are, you really only need to chill the dough for 20-30 minutes. At this point, you should preheat the oven to 350F. On the same lightly floured surface, roll out one disk at a time to between 1/8”- ¼” thick. This is a good time to get the kids involved with helping to cut out the cookies with the cookie cutters of their choosing. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet and bake until the edges are very slightly golden. I always bake my cookies on parchment lined baking sheets to prevent sticking and very easy clean up. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack or cutting board before letting your kids go crazy with the decorating.
For our valentine cookies, we chose to use simple heart cutters. In place of the classic royal icing, we are using melting dark and white chocolate in a pastry bag. We, of course, got easily sucked into the wonderful world of sprinkles but limited ourselves to champagne, black and gold.
2 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup, softened butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted, cream the butter until light and fluffy.
3. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture to butter slowly and mix until well incorporated.
5. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into 2 disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough at a time to the desired thickness between 1/8” and ¼”.
7. To prevent sticking, dip the cookie cutter into flour before cutting each cookie. Place cookies on parchment liner baking sheets and bake for 8-11 minutes just until the edges start to turn slightly golden.
8. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before decorating with royal icing, chocolate, or sprinkles.
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I just realized it’s been a while…Like, a while. I couldn’t stand not having at least one post in the books for November, so what better way to the share why I’ve been missing in action the last few weeks.
We have been busy prepping for holiday market season, and so far it’s been a blast. It’s so nice to have a chance to talk to customers face-to-face and to connect with other mompreneurs, entrepreneurs and all the other hard working creatives in our community. We are popping-up a few more times before Santa makes his visit, so let’s be honest, there may only be a couple more whispers from me on here this month. In the meantime here are some of the items just added to the shop. Quantities are limited, so if you’ve got a gift to give, let us know now so we can pack it up and ship it out for you!
As always, we love to here your feedback. Take a second to leave a note below!
This has been a seriously big project in the making. One we have been talking about for quite some time. It is so exciting to finally launch our little shop! Sunday Design Studio began as a state of mind – a way of thinking about our spaces and the things that accompany us throughout our day-to-day. Sundays are meant to fit like a glove. The day of the week where everything feels exactly as it should. The day you wish would last all week.
We started our home goods offerings off with a collection that means a lot to us. Designing a space for my son, and collecting items for him that felt like they fit into our lives was really important. I had a hard time finding products that felt like home, so we decided to make them instead. Now we are sharing them with you…Heirloom pieces made for the modern mamas raising modern kids. Simple colour palettes full of playful pattern combinations allowing for unlimited mix + match opportunities. Keeping it simple so there is maximum room for imagination.
We will be sharing a little more about the individual designs in the weeks to come, but I wanted to start off by quickly sharing where it all came from. We are so excited to officially be open for business, and we feel so grateful for all your support.
Here is just a small sampling of what we’ve posted so far, and stay tuned for another product launch next week! Shop them all now…
It’s a quick one today because we are busy working hard to get ready for this fall’s shop launch!
We’re currently working on a creating a collection of goods designed for the modern babe, inspired mostly by my unsuccessful search for products to buy for our nursery. I had the hardest time finding neutral, playful pieces for my son that still suited my modern, monochromatic aesthetic. I ended up purchasing fabric and having most of our linens and blankets made custom. This is where the idea started, and now we are ready to share it with other design conscious mamas. Our online shop opens next week and will include stroller blankets, boppy covers and a few select prints. We are also excited to be a part of two local markets over the next couple months where we get to share our goods and connect with the community.
When I found out we were expecting, I knew right away what kind of space I wanted to create for our little bean. I didn’t need to wait to find out if we were having a boy or a girl because at the end of the day, it wouldn’t really have changed much. Above all, I wanted to make sure that our babe had a calm, peaceful and playful space to grow up in. I wanted to keep things simple so that we could add life to it ourselves and so the decoration came from the things he loved instead of trying to work them in later. Books, toys and cherished gifts will arrive in all shapes and sizes, and I wanted to create a space that could accommodate them all (while also making sure everything had it’s place to go at the end of the day…because OCD, obviously). As you can see in many of our ‘after’ pictures, the nursery did evolve a bit from this initial design, however the mood I was going for is definitely how the space feels now. I enjoy playing, changing, feeding and observing my little love in this space, and I’m so glad that it feels like a bit of an escape from the rest of the house.
If you’ve got a peanut on the way, or if you are in need of a nursery update for your growing family, give us a shout. We love creating spaces that inspire creative living for the littles!
You’ve got a little one on the way, and now it’s time to prepare the nursery for their arrival. It can be daunting to choose what to buy and what to skip with so many products to choose from, and it’s important to consider how the space is going to adapt as your child grows. Avoid buying over-priced products that will wind up in storage within the first year, and learn to create a space that will grow right alongside your little one. Here are four tips to keep in mind while designing your child’s room, saving you space and money, and keeping your home clutter-free.
Neutral Palette // Keep your paint colour, drapery and major furnishing neutral – think whites, greys and natural wood – in order to maximize flexibility down the road.
Multi-Purpose Pieces // Prioritize items that can serve dual purpose. A crib that becomes a toddler bed, a highchair that transitions to a booster seat and a change table that becomes a dresser are all good choices. Spend your money on items that will still serve a use once the baby years are over.
Accessorize with Colour // Use smaller accessories to bring character and interest to the space. Add a bright geometric pillow to the rocker or frame a personalized print above the crib. These are easy items to switch out later on without fear of breaking the bank.
Blank Space // Try not to fill every nook. It may be tempting, but leave room to add and move and re-arrange in the space as your child grows. This will allow for the addition of special mementos and gifts that you would like to display.