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!
As you probably already know, we are busy updating a portion of our basement in order to create a work and play space. The biggest challenge, other than the small square footage, is that this space really needs to be dual purpose. It’s definitely time that we have a dedicated work area now that I’m running the business from home, but we also need to make sure it’s usable as a play and craft area.
Design-wise, my priority is to make sure there are lots of opportunities to be creative. At the end of the day, my little is going to be using the space the way he wants to, and it will most definitely change as he grows. I will mostly be using it for emails, design space and a little storage. I’m aiming for a clean, bright, simple space with room to move and make a mess.
I am starting a few DIY projects next week once we’ve got a couple coats of paint (white, obviously) on the wall. Although my work space is already planned, I’m still looking for ideas on how to bring playfulness into the design. Below are some of my favourite examples that seem to be doing just that!
Anyone else working and playing in the same room? What makes it work?
We are so excited to be joining the local market circuit this fall, and Little Modern Market is our first stop! The ladies who organize this event do such a fantastic job of curating a cohesive list of vendors that helps this market really live up to it’s name. Although our focus is obviously for the littles this time around, there are also some amazing finds for him, her and home that I’ve got my eyes on. Here are the items I’m going to be picking up in an effort to give and get as locally as possible this Christmas…
1 / I love this dress from The Skinny which is truly made for a mama. Breastfeeding, washing machine and play-on-the-floor friendly, I can see how this dress could easily be worn any day and styled for many occasions. So ya, I’ll take two!
2 / The Rollo Towel Co. has great big, round towels that I love to use all year round. We use them as a play mat in the living room and a picnic blanket outside in the summer months. Easy to wash and a great size that serves so many purposes!
3 / Graphic, cool tees and accessories are only part of the story for Jacob Grace Designs. Proceeds from their Small and Mighty collection goes towards supporting neonatal intensive care here is Calgary. Make sure these guys are on your shopping list!
4 / This jumper from Hazelberry & Co is right up my alley. All-in-one to keep things simple and a little colour to keep things fun.
6 / I used to be pretty good about keeping all the little piles around the house in check, but now it’s just impossible. There is always a little collection of something on the coffee table or nightstand, and I’m always looking for a stylish way to keep them contained. These jars by Co.Create are handmade and can be completely customized. I love the natural concrete colour but the rust is also on my list!
We hope to see you at the market next month, or at one of our other stops later in December. Not only can you avoid the mall parking lot by hitting up one of these great events, but you will also be supporting local makers and businesses. Follow us on Instagram for more market dates and product info!
The shop has been updated this week with a few new prints! These three designs are all digitally printed on recycled and acid-free papers. Pin one up in your workspace or add it to a gallery wall. They are clean, simple and designed to mix well with others.
If you happen to pick one up, be sure to share it with us on Instagram using #sundaydesignstudiogoods!
A random little list of the items I am currently coveting for home, wardrobe and my little. Funny how my wish lists have changed…It’s all about practicality these days!
1 / This romper is at the top of my list right now…Is it the name or just the fact that it looks like it would pair pretty well with a home work day and a cup of coffee (or wine…depends on the time of day really).
2 / Speaking of work, my office currently resides on my dining room table while we revamp the basement. I’m dreaming of proper organization and a place to escape and get some work done. I love this update on the cork board. Perfect for creating moodboards, displaying fabric samples and posting general to-dos throughout the week.
3 / Basically a mini version of No.1 by Shop the Skinny. I told myself I would not be a matchy-matchy mama but here I am, coordinating outfits with my babe.
4 / With the holiday season coming up, I’m starting to think about parties. We are hosting a lot more now that one of us has a 7pm bedtime, and I think a beautiful cake stand is one of the most versatile pieces of serve ware out there. Forget only using them for sweets! A unique cheese platter, a plate for hors d’oeuvres or just use it to add some height to the table with candles or flowers. I am still pink obsessed so this coral marble style is calling my name!
5 / For some reason I have started a new business, launched an online shop and pulled the trigger on our basement renovation all in the past two months. Oh, and I have a nine month old. So…champagne, obviously.
6 / I try really hard to keep it festive and at least a little bit colourful around the house during the holidays, but then I see these. I also found matte black christmas ornaments the other day, so…It’s all over. It will be a monochromatic Christmas once again!