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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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…
Fall is fashion’s biggest seasons, and it’s also the one time of year when I really take the time to plan my purchases. I find it much easier to do some online research before heading out to the stores in order to make sure that everything I’m planning to acquire works together and works with my existing favourites.
This year is a little different. Being 7 months pregnant means I’m in a bit of a tricky spot when it comes to making sure my purchases get me all the way through the cooler months. I will be dressing a major bump through holiday season, and then there will be a few months of postpartum attire required before the weather warms up in the spring. Thank goodness that the trends seem to be on my side this year. I imagine that some mamas have really struggled during those seasons where a tucked in waist was the silhouette du jour, when the stores were packed with cropped tops and a-line skirts. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to being able to find items outside of the maternity shops in order to make this upcoming transition much easier. Loose layers, deep hues and sumptuous knits are on the filling the racks and will therefore be landing themselves in the front row of my closet. Here are the items I’ve selected to suit this year’s shopping challenge…
1 / Baby Bezel Earrings / No size required which means they might be the only thing I’m not either growing into or out of this year. Teeny tiny and oh so feminine, it’s a nice change from the oversized baubles of previous years.
2 / Mara 3/4 Sleeve Henley / I already have, and have been living in, my first Kit & Ace garment. I love the fabric and how well it wears and washes. Easily paired with a blazer, their tops can be dressed up as required, but my primary reason for this particular pick is that neckline. Snaps equal easy nursing without sacrificing style.
3 / Roaming Blanket / Scarf meets blanket meets nursing cover. This wrap is way oversized and perfect for both cooler weather and a little privacy while nursing. I love that this pattern reminds me of all those Souk rugs that we’ve all been loving. It never made it to my living room floor, but here it will be in my closet.
4 / Howard Dress / This dress will most likely begin it’s time with me as a tunic because of this belly, but the loose fit will also be perfect for those first postpartum outings or events. Paired with leggings and ankle boots, I picture this being an easy outfit that looks super pulled together in very little time. Also, it has pockets and that always leads to a quick sell for me.
5 / Fret Double Wrap Bracelet / Getting back in shape is important, but I think a gradual, gentle approach is probably how I’m going to roll. I loved using my Fitbit pre-pregnancy, and I intend to use is after as well. My only complaint was that if I wasn’t wearing sweats, I felt like the bracelet was a little…obvious. I think this is the perfect solution, and now I have no excuse to leave it on the dresser.
6 / Skip Hop Duet Diaper Tote / So here’s the thing, you will never catch me carrying multicoloured polka dots on anything…ever. It’s just not my style, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. A diaper bag is obviously going to be a must, so this is my solution. Clean, modern and not precious because we know there will be spills…and poop…and many other baby related messes.
7 / Leather Ankle Boots / Yes, these heels may be a little ambitious, but look above at all the practicality! I needed one item to love, one item that wasn’t focused 100% around being a new mom. Stacked heel, warm leather and a little bling…They may not be day-to-day but why not!
Before we get to anything pertaining to actual arrival of a baby, let’s first acknowledge that pregnancy is pretty crazy. Your body instinctively knows to make the most incredible, and let’s be serious, shocking changes while it morphs into a safe and nourishing haven for your little one. Your body has become someone’s home…I still look down daily at this bump of mine and feel so amazed by that simple fact.
Thanks to the power of the internet and all the connections we are able to make online or through social media, I surprised myself by immediately acquiring a few basic necessities the moment I found out I was expecting. I didn’t have a list prepped or anything like that, but having scrolled through enough raves reviews from other mamas, it seems my brain had already stored away some of the best for when it came time to acquire them.
Here is a look at some of my musts for the months leading up to meeting that new little human of yours…
1 / Storq Basic Bundle – This set of four garments single-handedly got me through the first half of my pregnancy. I found myself wearing at least one of these items almost every day, mixed in with my non-maternity wardrobe. The quality is fantastic, everything washes well, and most importantly, they are comfortable…A must as you continue to get considerably less so.
2 / Mushybooks - Yes, you will definitely want to have one of these once baby arrives, but it is also a great thing to get started on ahead of time. I love the modern designs from Mushybooks! There are spots to record many of your pregnancy milestones, thoughts and baby’s development. I ordered the Dreamcatcher design with extra pages to be filled with notes to baby at my shower!
3 / Non-Toxic Nail Polish - Just as with any other lotions, sprays and balms, nail polish also falls into that category of products that need to be reviewed while pregnant. Although only in small amounts, nail polish can be absorbed into your body, so it’s important to find a brand clear of any bad guys…Specifically toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde. I have recently fallen in love with the Deborah Lippmann line, not only for the great colours, but it also lasts and is super easy to remove.
4 / Protective Blanket - Another one of my first buys, this blanket made me feel a little better about all of that time sitting with a laptop on, well, my lap. It may be a little overkill, I get that, but I can’t imagine having a ton of tech sitting right on top of baby is a fantastic idea. This solution put my crazy mama-mind at ease. Neutral colour, light-weight and easy to pack…I use this blanket all the time. It is also the perfect size for the stroller later on!
5 / BKR Waterbottle - Far better than plastic both for you and for the baby. I love the BKR bottles because they are easy to pop in the dishwater and they don’t pick up any nasty smells or flavours from filling with anything other than water. I use the 1L size so it’s easy for me to track how much I’ve had to drink during the day.
6 / Sea-Bands - These babies were a fashion accessory of mine for at least the first four months. They definitely didn’t solve all of my problems when it came to keeping things down, but they did help take the edge off. I also found it reassuring that during early pregnancy, a time where you’re still trying to figure out what’s in and what’s out in terms of treatments, it was nice to have an easy and all natural option to turn to.
7 / Zoe Organics Baby Oil - This natural product line is fantastic for the whole family, and it took a lot of the worry out of picking a clean, effective product to use during pregnancy. And, even I love the smell, which I didn’t think was possible with this sensitive tummy of mine.
8 / The Kind Mama – Yep, there are a lot of books out there…This is where I started. I had already read (and loved) this one and this one before finding out we were expecting, so I was looking for a read that would guide me through a healthy pregnancy. I really loved this choice! It was clearly organized into bite-sized sections, and I appreciated that it was written from such a personal perspective.
I would love to hear about any more finds you feel should have made this list, so leave your suggestions below!
So, it’s been a while. I’m so sorry for the lengthy hiatus! It’s over now, and I’m back…And this time it’s with some exciting news and updates.
First off, I hope your summer was full of sun and adventure. I hope you had the chance to unplug, unwind and soak in some much needed outdoor time before the snow falls again. (I’m pretty sure it’s closer than we think…At least here in Canada). For the first time in many years, I am very much ready for fall. For cooler weather, cozy layers and for a busy holiday season. I’m looking forward to connecting with family and friends as much as possible…before our little family of two becomes three!
Hopefully this serves as a bit of explanation for my absence. It seems that the typical three months of morning sickness has unfortunately stuck with me, and most likely will until week 40. Normal is a relative term these days when it comes to how I’m feeling and how to operate in my day to day, but I seem to have adjusted at least in order to get back to some of the things that I love some much…Including hanging out here! Having said that though, nausea aside, I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to experience the crazy, amazing, miracle of a ride that is pregnancy, and I can’t wait to meet the little human that I am already getting to know a little more each day. As expected, I will be popping in a few pregnancy and baby related posts here and there because it is now so very much part of my life, and I will of course continue posting the usual fare as well.
I would love to hear from any of you mamas out there when it comes to the best finds, must-have gear and, of course, any tidbits of advice from your own experiences, so get in touch!