Food

A backyard birthday tea party + how we manage birthday parties in our family

10162016

tea-party-birthday

Last month in early September our baby girl turned “6”. SIX you guys. I’m only kind of dying inside every time I acknowledge that she’s completely out of the toddler years and fully into little girl mode. We celebrated her with the party she’d been dreaming of having for this past year. And I’m only a month late, which for me is like technically early. But, here’s a peek (actually way more than a peek) of Liliana’s backyard birthday tea party + pony ride.

tea-party-backyardoutdoor-table-partytea-party-tabletea-party

Thank goodness for friends (particularly ones who own florist shops and others who are photographers, and know how to set up a party), a husband who is super handy (he built these low tables the morning of the party) and willing to do anything for his baby girl (really any of us) at any time, for family who always step in when I need it and IKEA. Seriously, between a quick ikea stop and the target clearance section I was able to find basically everything I needed to make my vision of L’s backyard Tea party come to life.

Liam had a football game the day of L’s party and it really only left me with less than two hours to prep, set-up and make sure everything was ready before her little friends started to arrive. And without all the help from my village this party would not have been ready on time. And thankfully I was able to whip up a quick crown for my girl just minutes before her party started.

simple-flower-crownlittle-birthday-girlflower-crown-birthday

Soon “tea” was getting passed around by the girls and little plates were getting filled with tiny sandwiches, fresh fruit, madeleines and the sweetest most perfect little tea party desserts one could ever dream of from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. It all looked so good that L’s big brother Aden couldn’t help himself and joined in for the tea party along with our kitten, Milo and our pup, Bella. Who are both never far away from Liliana and could quite possibly be the best little pets that any little girl could have.

tea-party-ikea tea-party-madeleines-ikea tea-party-foodfun-tea-party serving-backyard-tea-partylittle-girl-tea-party-ikea-target sweet-tooth-fairy-tea-party-desserts backyard-tea-party-cake tea-party-kitten-cookies tea-party-dress-puppy

Watching Liliana and all of her little friends just simply enjoy themselves around a table snacking, giggling and toasting their tea made me realize again just why we make such a special effort to celebrate our children’s births like this. If you follow me on instagram you may have already heard me touch on our birthday party theory. Being a large family, we only have a few select parties for our children growing up. With 6 kids, it was just completely unrealistic for us to have a birthday party for each of our children every year. So shortly after we came together as a family we realized really quick that we would need to set a precedence with birthday parties, or we’d go broke. And ultimately, I feel like doing fewer parties with more meaning just makes them all the more special.

**If you’d like to hear what’s worked for us as far as birthday party balance is concerned read on to the next paragraph. If not, keep scrolling down to the very last paragraph here before more party pictures.** 


We generally only have a handful of actual parties for our children as they grow up. And I like to start them at an age where they can retain the memories from it for forever. For us that’s usually been around age 5 or 6. The next ones really don’t follow any schedule or pattern, but usually theres another one around age 8-10, followed by one that I think is such a poignant time is children’s lives. Ages 12-13. Our go to for a party for that age has been a fun overnight hotel stay with a manageable amount of friends (around 8).

I think it’s so important for your children to know just how much they mean to you at that crucial junior high age. That can be a rough spot for them. (i mean, do you remember junior high? it was kind of the worst stage of growing up for me) The awkwardness of trying to figure out who you are while you try to not get food stuck in your braces as you’re sitting next to a cute kid at the lunch table, but then you get so nervous because they are actually talking to you that you freak out (out of fear or pure excitement. you can never be sure how to tell what emotion means what, because one minute you’re fine and the next you’re having a full blown melt down because your mom looked at you wrong that morning. you know, that side-eye look where you don’t know if you’re in trouble, or if she just found out that you got the part in the school play. but really she’s just looking at you in pure confusion because she can’t figure out how or why you cry when you can’t find your pants that are hanging out in the pile on the floor in your bedroom that could grow it’s own colony of super funky bacteria or why you get so pissed when you can’t find your band shoes that are literally sitting 5 feet in front of you, but you just can’t seem to find them so you run around blaming everyone else but yourself because you just know that your little brother touched them and did something with them when in all reality you set them right where they are eventually found by that side-eyeing mom who really just wants to tell you that she loves you, but doesn’t really want her head bit off or a cry fest to happen so she just gives you a slight smile and walks away. phew…) and bolt, tripping over your backpack on the way and spill your lunch tray all over them. Yeah, that’ why I think it’s good to do a party at that age 😉

The next age we celebrate is usually 16, and then it’s followed up by the last one of them all while still being your child but straight turning into a full blown legal adult…18. These are just years that seem to work for us and our children. And not all of them have had big parties on all of those birthdays, sometimes we have just celebrated them a bit bigger than we normally would have ;). On years where we don’t have a birthday party we celebrate as a family with a meal & dessert chosen by whoever’s birthday it is. It simple, quiet, and usually just what is needed for them at the time.


From nearly the very first time Liliana saw our backyard at our new home she’s begged to have a horse. Her reasoning is completely valid, as our excuse before was that we didn’t have a yard big enough. So, to make this party more special for Liliana we decided to grant her ultimate wish of having a real live pony in her yard. I mean, I’m pretty sure that was my dream as a little girl too at some point, and since this age seemed best suited for a live pony at her party, her backyard tea party included a pony ride as well.

backyard-girls-tea-party-pony-ride backyard-party-pony-ride backyard-birthday-party-pony-ride tea-party-gifts 6th-birthday-party-opening-gifts

After all the girls had their share of pony rides around the yard, Liliana opened her gifts from her cute friends and then they all ran into the pool house for a swim. And of course these little girls can never not end their swimming time without getting in the hot tub which was the perfect way to end any party.

Again, I can not express again how grateful I am for our family and friends. It was so nice to know that while I was sitting & watching all the girls swim, others were tidying up plates, food, etc. When my big kids were younger I used to feel like I had to do it all when it came to their birthday parties. You know, make the food, cake, cupcakes, decorate, and then run around trying to snap pictures too. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that delegating out things like having someone else cater food, or make the dessert is such huge help. I’m so thankful that The Sweet Tooth Fairy was there to make all of the darling sweets and cake for Liliana’s party. It truly took such a load off of my shoulders knowing that it was not all up to me. Also I can not express how amazing it was to have a photographer at Liliana’s party. It made it so easy for me to just be there and take in everything and not have to worry about capturing the magic that was happening because I knew my girl Sam from Samantha Broderick Photography was capturing it all and more.

Before we knew it is was starting to get dusk and while all of Liliana’s little friends had gone home her family and friends were still here and ready to sing happy birthday to this darling baby girl of ours on her day. She smiled and she blew out her candles and still hasn’t told me what she wished for.

sunset-birthday-tea-party birthday-cake-candle-sweet-tooth-fairy birthday-cake-wish-tea-party sweet-tooth-fairy-cake-kitten-birthday-flowers dreamy-backyard-birthday-partyhappy-birthday-sweet-girl

Happiest 6th birthday sweet Liliana. We hope you had the party you dreamed of and know just how much your mama and daddy love you. xx

 

Sources: The amazing desserts were all made by Megan from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. L’s dress can be found here. The tables were made from two of these table tops. We then added 4×4 in posts cut to 14 inches and attached with L brackets. Most of the party supplies (like everything on & around the tables) are from here. The cutest and paperless party invitations can be found at Paperless Post invitations. And last but not least all of these beautiful photo’s are by Samantha Broderick Photography.

Afternoon snack time with Annie’s

01222016

View More: http://samanthabroderick.pass.us/annies-x-simple-like-love

You know when your in the thick of raising your kids and you feel like its going to last for forever? Well the hard reality is that, it just doesn’t. One day they’re creating dance shows or making up performances for you, using their little brothers as props, and the next they’re graduated and off on their own living in a city hundreds of miles away. If your lucky they eventually make their way back near home and then if your super lucky they occasionally drop by for an after work/school snack to chat.

View More: http://samanthabroderick.pass.us/annies-x-simple-like-love

And that my friends, is now where we’re at around here. Theres nothing that brings my heart more joy than to hear “Sheila” (our home alarm system named by my 17 yr old Mathew) speak up and say “front mud room door”, followed by “side door” because it means that one of my big kids is dropping by or is home from work or school.

The first thing that’s done after they come in is quickly pair one of their iPhones to the Bluetooth speaker and some sort of music is put on. Most days its like you’ve entered into a European dance club, or sometimes depending on the day and who gets their phone hooked up first you could enter into a hardcore gangsta rap club in downtown LA. And this music that is now playing is not put on just as background noise, it’s put on to straight party.

Next up, they raid the pantry and fridge, usually looking for a quick easy snack. And heres the thing, there comes a time where you’re no longer fixing your children’s meals and snacks and they’re choosing their own. So I like to keep my kitchen stocked up with simple, wholesome snacks, but also ones that are still fun like Annie’s Organic Really Peely Fruit tape!

I love that I know without a doubt when I buy anything that Annie’s makes I can trust what is in their products. No more searching the ingredients for Red40, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors…etc. Because heres the thing. I am admittedly one of “those” moms. You know them. The ones who started banning HFCS back in the late 90’s, who buy organic everywhere they can and ultimately just want to feed their kids healthy food. And not only that, one who wants to instill healthy eating habits into them as much as possible when they are young so they carry those habits over on their own when their older. And Really Peely fits that bill. Its a fun snack that is certified organic and free of all of those ingredients like HFCS, artificial flavors and synthetic colors that kids both old and young can enjoy. As you can see, I think my teenagers love playing with it just as much as they enjoy eating it!

annies-simplelikelove-samanthabroderick

annies-reallypeely-simplelikelove

 

annies-mikobowen

View More: http://samanthabroderick.pass.us/annies-x-simple-like-love

annies-really-peely

View More: http://samanthabroderick.pass.us/annies-x-simple-like-love

annies-liliana

But all too soon the conversation is cut short, the music stops, and one shuffles off to work, another to run errands, another to go grocery shopping for themselves and another to do their homework. And this Mama is left with my cup overflowing usually just enough until the next time I enter into a dance club in my own kitchen.

This post is sponsored by Annie’s, a brand that we have long loved in our home.

 

Photos: Samantha Broderick Photography

 

Berry Chantilly Cake // a recipe

07082014

berry-chantilly-cake-recipe

berry-chantilly-cake-lemon-cookies-recipe

chantilly-cake-birthday-aden

Years ago Will and I stumbled upon the most amazing cake while browsing Whole Foods. It immediately won our hearts, and our taste buds. So much so that every year for our anniversary, birthdays, etc we do our best to make the 40 minute drive to the closest Whole Foods to get a piece. But this year, for Aden’s birthday I thought why waste the gas…I’ll just try to make it myself. And man alive am I glad I did. It turned out so yummy that I made it again just a few weeks later for our girls graduation party. I scoured the internet for a recipe but couldn’t find one that seemed to be just right, so I adapted a few things from a few different recipes I found to make one of my own. There are several layers, if you may, to this cake, so the ingredients for each part are listed separately.

Berry Chantilly Cake

For the Cake, You will need:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups + 2 T (for dusting the pan) unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (i use pink Himalayan salt)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees for conventional, 325 degrees for convection. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of two 8 inch round pans with some soft butter. Line to bottom of the pans with parchment paper, then grease on top of the parchment paper and dust with flour. Set aside. Sift together dry ingredients; flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Mix in the almond extract, then add the flour mixture alternately with the unsweetened vanilla almond milk until well combined. Pour batter equally into both prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops spring back when tapped. Cool on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan.

For the Berries:

1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2.5 oz Grand Marnier (roughly 1 1/2-2 shots worth)

Rinse and drain berries. Combine orange juice, orange zest and Grand Marnier. Pour mixture over berries and let soak for about 30-40 minutes in refrigerator.

For the Raspberry Glaze:

1 1/2 cups raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp corn starch

Combine all ingredients in saucepan over medium-low heat until raspberries have broken down. About 10 minutes. Strain seeds if you’d like (I didn’t) and let cool slightly before use.

For the Frosting:

2 cups of heavy cream
8 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)
8 ounces of mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (i think i used 1 3/4 cups the 2nd time I made it for some extra sweetness)
1 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Mix heavy cream and almond extract with an electric mixer until peaks form. In another bowl mix together the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese just until combined. Add confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time until combined. Gently fold whipped cream into the cream cheese/mascarpone mixture. You want to make this when you are completely ready to assemble your cake, as it’s best used immediately.

Assemble your cake:

Place a layer of cake on your cake stand. Spread a thin layer of raspberry glaze over cake bringing about an inch in from the edge and let soak in for a minute or two. Spread a layer of frosting on top of raspberry glaze (make sure to bring the edges of the frosting up a little higher than the center, similar to a saucer), then add a single layer of fresh berries. Top with another thin layer of frosting, then add the second layer of cake. Repeat by spreading raspberry glaze, then frost your entire cake. Top with the rest of the fresh berries.

This cake is best enjoyed fresh. Although, it stays well refrigerated for a couple of days too! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do around here!

whole-foods-berry-chantilly-cake

Photos: Samantha Broderick Photography

Lime Basil Chicken // a recipe

02282014

fresh-basil-lime-chicken

These tiny hands are always so willing to help around these parts. Especially in the kitchen, whether it’s helping me cook, wipe down the counters, or do the dishes. L is always full of such enthusiastic energy that I want to capture it for myself! I try my best to honor it, so with this recipe she had the best time picking the basil leaves off the the plant that Addie gave me for Valentines day, plus she also loved juicing the limes and whisking up the marinade.

lime-basil-chicken-recipe

lime-basil-chicken-paleo-recipe

This chicken is a definite family favorite. I usually need to double my batch so we can at least try to have a little left over. Its super juicy and limey..which we all love! Plus its paleo approved!

Lime Basil Chicken

You will need:

3 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts
3 whole limes
5 cloves garlic minced
6 green onions
a cute handful of fresh basil (approx 4-5 Tbsp chopped)
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp avocado oil
1/4 cup evoo
1/4 cup coconut aminos
real salt and pepper to taste

Fillet chicken breasts in half, then cut in to smaller strips so the marinade can soak in easier. Whisk the zest and juice of 2 limes, 3 cloves minced garlic, 3 chopped green onions, 3 Tbsp avocado oil, dijon mustard and the coconut aminos together in a bowl. Place chicken tenderloins and marinade in a gallon sized baggie and marinate for at least an hour.

Grill chicken or cook on a stovetop in a cast iron pan. I used my built in griddle on my stove. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. When done let rest for 5 minutes then slice in to pieces.

While chicken is resting mix 1/4 cup evoo, the juice and zest of one lime, 2 cloves minced garlic, 3 chopped green onions, and your chopped fresh basil. Pour over sliced chicken, toss and enjoy!

recipe adapted and made paleo from here

Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie