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real parties: happy holiday birthdays


To make this last day of 2009 extra special, I’ve decided share with you not one, but two holiday themed birthday parties...

The first is by Christi of P is for Party for her son Conrad’s first birthday. The theme was ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, one of my very favorite holiday movies. The theme comes together with an elegant vintage look of gold, copper and ivory and some beautiful touches like ornament favors in apothecary jars and bell shaped centerpieces on the buffet table.

{images via p is for party}

The second is a fun and festive dessert party from Tanya of Save the Date for Cupcakes. She used a traditional color palette of red, green and silver and had lots of treats & cupcakes for the kids. Favors were packs of hot chocolate mix with Ghirardelli mint chocolate squares, and candy canes to garnish.

Have a safe & Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for your constant support and inspiration... I’m looking forward many big changes and good things to come in 2010.


i want to make... a coconut cake


I have a bag of coconut in my kitchen left over from holiday baking. It's just sitting there, mocking me... 'make me into a cake for New Years Eve'. So I scoured the internet for some recipes and there it was... this heavenly ginger lime coconut cake. Perhaps one final indulgence before a fresh start in the new year? Sure why not... I'll just have to share it with enough people that there can't possibly be any leftovers!

{image & recipe via bon appetit}

Ginger Lime Coconut Cake with Marshmallow Frosting


3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup grated lime peel (from about 12 limes)
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

5 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
8 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
Bamboo skewers

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 7-ounce package sweetened flaked coconut (about 3 cups)

Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, lime juice, lime peel, ginger, and salt in large metal bowl to blend. Place bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch simmering water); whisk constantly until curd thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from over simmering water; whisk butter into curd. Strain through fine strainer set over bowl; discard solids in strainer. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd; chill overnight.
DO AHEAD Curd can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter four 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper rounds. Butter parchment; dust with flour. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat until very well blended, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Divide batter equally among prepared cake pans.
Place 2 cake pans on top rack of oven and 2 pans on bottom rack; bake until golden and tester inserted into cake centers comes out clean, reversing pans after 15 minutes, about 30 minutes total. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Turn cakes right side up on racks; cool cakes completely.
Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1/3 of ginger-lime curd (about 1/2 cup) over, leaving 1/2-inch plain border around edge of cake. Repeat procedure on 2 more cake layers. Let each cake layer stand 10 minutes. Stack cake layers, curd side up. Top with fourth cake layer. Let cake stand at room temperature while preparing frosting. Insert 3 or 4 bamboo skewers from top to bottom into cake to hold stacked cake layers in place while frosting.

Whisk sugar, egg whites, 1/3 cup water, light corn syrup, and cream of tartar in large metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch simmering water). Using handheld electric mixer, beat on medium speed until mixture resembles soft marshmallow fluff, about 4 minutes. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick, about 3 minutes longer. Remove bowl from over simmering water. Add vanilla extract and continue beating until marshmallow frosting is completely cool, about 5 minutes longer.
Spread marshmallow frosting thinly over top and sides of cake. Remove bamboo skewers. Press flaked coconut into marshmallow frosting on top and sides of cake.
DO AHEAD Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.


paper monday: parties by hardie


Take a look at these adorable itty bitty bee birthday supplies from Parties by Hardie. She gives you everything you need to get the party started, from the invites right down to the party hats. And, if you go check out her blog, there's a real party example from a birthday showing off all these goodies... they look even better in use!

{images via parties by hardie}


real parties: a winter one-derland


This Christmas Eve day, I though it only too fitting to bring you my friend Natalie's Winter One-derland birthday party for her son Zach. Because his birthday was in December, she was able to decorate the house for the holidays and have it fit right in with the party decorations. The mantle housed a winter village and handmade snowflakes, while snowmen, icicles and penguins danced about the scene. The homemade cake with a polar bear topper made the perfect centerpiece for the table, draped with evergreens and acorns. But of course, the birthday boy stole the show with his fleece penguin overalls... what a cutie!

{images copyright2009}


paper monday: cards from the craft fair


I bought loads of new cards at the Renegade Craft Holiday Fair this weekend, including some of these sweet pieces from Motormouth Press...

and some of these not so sweet postcards from Rar Rar Press.

{images ©bg 2009}


FREE DiY day: printable holiday gift tags


Happy weekend before Christmas. I hope you're all taking some time out from your shopping, wrapping and cooking to enjoy the season in full. I created these gift tags for the cookie boxes I'm giving out to friends & family, and thought perhaps you might enjoy them too... logo look familiar? The PDF can be printed on Avery 8165 full sheet labels and and cut out to make stickers, or printed on card stock and punched through to make a hang tag. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Download here


real parties: so very vintage


You’ll fall in love with this vintage party that Clau hosted for her birthday last month. To create a vintage style, she started with a palette of pink and aqua blue, inspired by French pastry and period movies like Marie Antoinette. The dessert table used lace, antiques and ruffly pink flowers to showcase a spread of chocolate covered marshmallows, strawberry cupcakes and other petite sweets. The coffee station highlighted a backdrop of vintage photos and magazine spreads. And best of all, she set up a window curtain as the backdrop for a photo booth and set out silly props for her guests to wear. The photography of course is what brings this party together. It was Clau’s love of vintage photography that originated the theme, so she set the photos with a vintage tint to give lasting impact. Simple, chic and such fun.

{images via clo by clau}


cookie fest’09


Guess what I’m doing tonight? Baking 5 kinds of cookies and boxing them up for my husband’s clients! I’m as excited about this prospect as I am dreading it... you see, hundreds of cookies and a Wedgewood stove with only 1 shelf rack is not a good combination. I’m going to need a system (and a lot of patience I think). However, if all goes according to plan, I’m going to do it all over again next week for friends & neighbors. Below are the recipes I’ll be using. Most of these cookies I’ve made before, but adapted for the holidays to make sure they offer a good variety of flavor. I’m packing them in gable top boxes and tying with ribbon. Hopefully I’ll have some pretty pictures to share of the results. Wish me luck!

{image via martha stewart}

Dried Cherry and Hazelnut Cookies
Cook Time: 15 min
Yield: 24 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherries
1/2 cup slivered, blanched hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

To toast the nuts, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in the egg. Add the flour and beat on the lowest speed until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dried cherries and nuts.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a log, about 12-inches long and 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Dough can be made up to 3 days in advance).

Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the log crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Transfer the dough slices to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges and puffed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing, about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies
Cook Time:14 min
Yield: approximately 65 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon water
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips (for dipping)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the flour, salt, and powdered sugar to a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the vanilla, the butter and the 1 teaspoon of water. Pulse together just until a dough is formed. Put the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 5 inches long. Tightly twist each end of the wrap in opposite directions. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Arrange on nonstick cookie sheets, parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are just light brown, about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans half way through the baking process. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool until room temperature.

Melt chocolate over double boiler with a little vegetable oil to smooth. Dip half cookie in chocolate and coat with sprinkles if desired.

Tips: Store in airtight container for up to a week or freeze uncooked log for up to a month. Also, use the freshest ingredients possible for the best tasting cookies.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup jam (any type)
powdered sugar (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, and beat until completely combined. With mixer on low, add flour, and mix just until incorporated.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons each). Place on baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart.
Moisten thumb with water, and gently press the center of each ball, making an indentation about 1/2 inch wide and inch deep. In microwave or on stove, heat jam until liquefied; spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. If storing, place in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.
Sift powdered sugar over cookies for garnish.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1‐1/3 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups oatmeal
1 ‐ 12oz pkg semi‐sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat butter, eggs, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add flour, salt, baking soda, and oatmeal. Blend well.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop clusters from teaspoon on to ungreased baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 8‐10 minutes (or until done).

Orange Currant Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup regular (or light) sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup currants
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until combined. Add egg and beat to combine. Beat in sour cream.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the currants and lemon zest, and stir to combine. Add to butter mixture, beating to combine.
Drop dough by level teaspoons onto cookie sheets. Leave 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake until puffed, and golden around edges, about 15 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes and remove to rack to cool completely.


paper monday: papaya art


I tell ya, I simply never tire of finding fabulous birthday cards to share. These beauties are from Papaya Art... how much fun is that squirrel?

{images via papaya art}


special guest post by under the sheets~shhh


Thank you Birthday Girl for asking moi to guest post on your site. I was so excited to be asked, as I love reading your blog, but was also thrilled to hear that we live near each other. Since most of us are busy, I wanted to bring my hostess skills to you. So here is your personal San Francisco invitation to my dinner party...

First stop is to decide what colors we'll use for our table. I love this clean shot of a San Francisco table; it's welcoming and classic.

Next we have to grab our favorite retro apron to get us in the mood to create yummy food and create a welcoming environment.

Here is an example of a recent Mediterranean dinner party that my Honey and I were invited to. I loved the color of the plates, the candles and through the window was a sparkling night view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

As your hostess with the mostess, allow me to pour you a glass of wine...

Our dinner party wouldn't be complete without this yummy molten lava cake. To really impress your guests, you could add raspberry sauce or some whipped cream.

I hope you enjoyed our dinner. When was the last time you went to a dinner party? Thank you Birthday Girl for allowing me to invite your readers to the party.


real parties: a very special first birthday


Hello loyal readers... I’m back from vacation and you’ll be happy to hear that I got my winter wonderland after all. I’ve seen plenty of snow in my day, but this may be the first time I’ve ever seen a fresh snowfall and watched the landscape move from barren to a blanket of white. Just gorgeous! Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I thought I’d bring you a real party today because tomorrow I have a special treat... Birthday Girl’s first guest post, courtesy of Laura from Under the Sheets- shhh.

I’m so touched to share today’s first birthday party, created by Sarah for her son Sullivan. As you can see from the pictures, she’s an incredible photographer and talented party planner, but that’s the least of why this party was something to celebrate. Sully had a rough beginning and spent the first 25 days of his life in the NICU. Sarah used his first birthday party as a chance to thank all of the people that helped make his life possible... from the families that helped in their time of need, to the doctors and nurses who saved his life at the hospital. She really went all out, and the details are just beautiful, aren’t they? I love that she created a make your own trail mix station for kids and adults... a great alternative to the candy buffet. And the banner of photos from each month of Sully's life was the perfect way to commemorate such an important year.

{images via this little light}

If you’d like to submit an original birthday party for consideration, e-mail me at birthdaygirlblog{at} (And remember, it's not all about the kids... parties thrown for friends & family are just as much fun to feature!)


real parties: pretty pink dessert table


Have a look at this beautiful pink & white dessert buffet designed by Shauna Younge... Pink-on-pink polka dot invites provided the inspiration for matching onesie cookies, while custom linens created a preppy-chic contrast for dot-shaped candies. White cherries posed as dots in pink lemonade. The drink lids and paper lanterns mimic the eyelet pattern in the 3-tier main attraction which houses delicate mini cupcakes. Just delightful!

{images via shauna younge}