Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Tea Party Birthday for the Seven-Year Old!

Darling Madeline May turned seven years old with a vintage tea party birthday celebration -- she planned every detail!

Her best friends -- Elle, Magnolia, Megan, Hannah and Brooke -- arrived at 9am on Saturday morning for a breakfast of crumpets and scones. It was very important to Madeline that we have dishes of sugar cubes on the table to spoon into their strawberry and peach flavored hot tea. For months, I collected bone china from Goodwill and thrift stores, and so we set a lovely table that would make Lady Mary Crowley proud. Madeline wrote out the seat assignments herself.

Madeline's sugar cubes
After everyone finished their breakfast, each girl received her own kitchen apron, which I made out of tea towels. Then we went into the kitchen and made scones from scratch! Rob pre-measured all the ingredients. The girls had so much fun!

The girls took their aprons home with their favor bags
While the chocolate chip scones baked, we played Toss the Bean Bag into the Tea Pot. Then came hot potato, which was purely to fill time, but turned out to be one of Madeline's favorite activites! Every girl made teapot magnets.

We sang Madeline happy birthday, served her birthday cake -- two different flavors -- and opened gifts. Before we knew it, parents were arriving. Each friend took home a favor bag that Madeline assembled, as well as their apron and a fresh, right-out-of-the-oven scone.


On the morning of Madeline's real birthday, she woke up to 75 balloons, just like Charlie! And Poppa and Ning took her out for a special birthday outing -- lunch at Cousins and birthday shopping at Winkie's! And she got to bring treats in for her class at school -- she chose Dunkin' Donuts! As one of her birthday gifts from me and Rob, we added a silver tea cup charm to the bracelet we started on Valentine's Day. And that night, we had a fancy dinner at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate our little sweetie!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

NOLA and Bay St. Louis with my Girls!

My college girlfriends and I had an amazing four day vacation together in New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, MS, which is a charming beach town where my dad and Ning loaned us their darling vacation cottage!

Erin took the train up to Milwaukee and we flew to New Orleans together, so vacation began before we even left! An hour after we landed, Jamie was in the rental car and we were on our way! We were sorry that our dear friend Tara wasn't able to make the trip. We all were sorority sisters, college roommates and bridesmaids -- it was heavenly to be together and catch up on our families and lives. I adore these girls.

New Orleans
With eight children between us, it was luxurious to start and finish a conversation, eat the food on our plates, sleep in and talk for hours. New Orleans was incredible -- we ate beignets at Cafe du Monde, admired Sandra Bullock's house in the Garden District, listened to the live music on the street, and each picked out an Alex and Ani anchor charm bracelet (the Delta Gamma symbol) to remember the trip by (we sent one to Tara too). We bought a children's book and had it signed by the author to bring back to our kids. An absolute highlight was our elegant lunch at the fine Commander's Palace, where men wear jackets and we had the most perfect table. We were grateful to have missed Mardi Gras by a few days (we were looking for a little relaxation, after all) but we still took in Bourbon street with some walking "Hand Grenades."

Commander's Palace!
The view from our French Quarter hotel balcony
St. Louis Cathedral
Bay St. Louis, MS
On Friday morning, we drove 45 minutes to Bay St. Louis, which truly may be the most charming place I have ever visited. Coastal Living called it Top Ten Small Beaches in the country, so I guess I'm not alone. We had a stylishly late dinner at the Sycamore House, thanks to my Dad and Ning for a generous gift certificate, and to Nora, Ning's interior designer cousin, for arranging our reservation! And speaking of Nora, she surprised us with darling pajamas, margarita mix, and a lovely afternoon in her home the next day. The cottage was darling -- stylish and modern, but cozy and comfortable, and oozing with family history. We admired every last detail.

On Saturday, we ate breakfast al fresco at the Buttercup Cafe, then rented bikes at the Bay Breeze and rode up and down the beach for hours. The warm air and sunshine felt incredible -- Milwaukee was still in a deep freeze. Then we stopped for a fresh seafood lunch and Rumrunners at the Blind Tiger. We casually strolled up and down Main street boutique shopping. All the businesses stayed open late for special Second Saturday with music in the street, which we took full advantage of. What a treat! I can't wait to go back with Rob and the kids!

Mmm. Jamie and I split Red Royal Shrimp at the Blind Tiger
Someone made this out of clovers