A Pastel BabyParty Time

It’s no secret I love to throw a party, especially a party with a good THEME.

Now many will argue there’s no sense throwing a styled event for a first birthday because a one year old baby doesn’t know any better, but on the contrary I think it’s the most important year of all! Not only is your baby easily impressed with fun decor like shiny balloons, but they also have no input yet on what the theme has to be! If you’re the kind of person who truly delights on planning, setting up, and hosting parties, this is likely the only year of your child’s entire lifetime of parties where you get total creative control.

And you best believe I had a plan for this party since Summer was just a tiny embryo!

When Summer was a mysterious little egg developing inside me, I struggled to really connect with who might be in there. I came to the nickname Little Pearl because it was gender neutral (ish), and I felt like the mama oyster taking all of the hard bits of life on to protect the tiny pearl growing inside, safe and warm. Pretty soon after the nickname stuck, I had a eureka moment: my Little Pearl’s first birthday party just had to be a magical, iridescent under the sea theme! I had a little framed Rifle Paper Co. card that read “The World is Your Oyster” in my bedroom, and it seemed to sum up exactly what I was going for. Maybe it would be at a pool! Maybe we’d serve fresh oysters! Thinking about Summer’s first birthday party, and all the parties I’d get to throw her over the years, really helped me connect with my baby on the way (as odd as that sounds).

As most of my projects do, the vision started to take shape a few months ago on a Pinterest board. My initial plans were spiralling out of control, budget and stress wise – it quickly became apparent that serving oysters and renting a space was a bit overindulgent. I decided the more over the top I made the party, the less I was going to actually be in the moment, so I decided to invite fewer guests, serve sushi from my favourite cheap Toronto spot (shout out Sushi on Bloor haha!) and host at my home.

In the end I was so proud of how the party turned out – the kids were super excited, the adults seemed to actually have a good time, and most importantly I didn’t feel the usual party-planning-panic that sneaks up on me the morning of most important events.

Scroll down for all of the party details!

SETTING THE SCENE //

I wanted to focus on making the party full of things that Summer actually loves, so balloons were top of the list. I ordered these shell balloons, the seahorse, and the gold “one”, but otherwise I kept it simple and ordered a bunch of pearl white balloons with iridescent ribbon from a local party store (they filled the ones I ordered online for a fee too). I contemplated tying streamers to the balloons to create a seaweed-like effect, but in the end I kept it more simple.

I ordered a few packs of plates & napkins, straws, and a little mermaid piñata from Meri Meri, my very favourite party supply brand. The rest of the details around the house were sea-inspired treasures I’ve been collecting over the years as photo props / home decor, and when I gathered them all together I realized I had a lot more than expected! I highly recommend combing local thrift shops for figurines and special party decor additions – most of my treasures were picked up on thrifting trips for next to nothing.

Originally I was going to order fresh flower bouquets, but when Wildhood posted their dyed dried flowers (that happened to look just like coral) I knew I’d found the perfect cost-effective solution. The best part? They last forever, so they can be kept for parties and seasonal decor later on!

The big decor addition that really made the setup magical was our new custom Fuse Neon sign. Handcrafted in Toronto, these signs are LED, so much lighter weight and less breakable. Fuse also offers pre-made options and rentals in case you don’t want to commit to having a neon sign around forever, but I personally love the idea of investing in a custom neon for a special event and keeping it as a momento in your home. We couldn’t be happier with our “The World is Your Oyster” neon! Use code “randomactsofpastel15%” for 15% off on their site!

SNACKS //

As mentioned above I very quickly accepted serving freshly shucked oysters at a one year old’s birthday was a bit excessive, so I stuck to simpler, kid-friendly options like vegetarian sushi, edamame, and salt and vinegar chips. I wanted to do octopus veggie dogs too (inspired by this post) but in the end it slipped my mind. We also served homemade herbal iced tea for the kiddos, and local wine and beer for the adults (I firmly believe all children’s birthday parties should include alcohol for the grown ups haha)

SUGAR //

I enlisted the help of Lindsey Bakes for all things sugary, and she seriously blew it out of the water! She created mini pop tarts and a perfect little pink cake, all adorned with the most incredible shimmering seashell cookies in all shapes and sizes. She also made pre-wrapped cookies to give to guests as a yummy take home party favour – I think edible favours are always the way to go in a world where we all want to cut back on waste!

SPECIAL SURPRISES //

There’s not much that I can say with absolute confidence all one year olds actually like, but music is almost always a win with kids of all ages. I’ve loved The Beach Men (aka Toronto’s premier Beach Boys cover band) from the first moment I saw them, and I’ve been to every show they’ve had since, including when I was nine months pregnant. I took Summer to their park show this past summertime, and she loved it, so when a good friend offered to pay to bring them in for her birthday, I had only one word: GENIUS! Their performance was the highlight of the day – we all smiled so much our faces hurt, and the kids soaked up every second. The band even brought some little instruments along so the kids could participate. If I have any say in baby birthday trends, I’m calling it: live bands are the next big thing!

Whosits and Whatsits Galore //

For invitations, we kept it eco-friendly and created a card on Evite.com. I was able to find a discount code (just by googling) that worked, so in the end we got the invitations for free, and I love how they turned out with a bit of simple customization. We also added a donate option so guests could help us protect the sea for generations to come instead of bringing physical gifts.

Outfit wise, my look was mostly old pieces thrown together (turns out wearing sweaters over dresses gives you a whole new selection of skirts!) but my pearl headband was a new addition (similar version on sale here). My biggest mom styling tip for any special occasion is lash extensions! They make a huge dent in the time it takes to get ready, so even if you get carried away with balloon placement or your baby has a meltdown before you can get any makeup on, you can feel confident you’ll look your best in photos. I even had mine done before my birth! I always go to N15 and ask for a classic cat eye set – if you book with code “N15PASTEL25” before the end of February you’ll get 25% off your first appointment!

Summer’s velvet jumpsuit is Moon Paris via Poppy’s Collection, with a crown from Oeuf NYC and golden shoes from our very favourite Canadian baby shoe brand, Minimoc!

And how could I forget our wonderful photographer? I’ve known Scarlet O’Niell for years and her work never ceases to blow me away. It might seem excessive to hire a photographer for a first birthday party, but I find if I don’t have a pro at special events I end up so busy that I forget to take any pictures (for example, I didn’t get a single shot of Summer and I together on her first Christmas). Thank you Scarlet for all your wonderful photos from Summer’s big day, and for taking on the role of unofficial official family photographer – we love you so much!

That’s just about everything I can think of! Scroll down to shop the post below, and feel free to ask about anything I’ve missed in the comments! Next up – a post about my single motherhood expectations vs. reality…


Party Time

When talks of planning my baby shower started to surface I knew two things – I didn’t want to be too involved, and I didn’t want anything too typical.

I’m a total control freak with a set vision for just about everything in my life, so letting go of the reigns on this one was NOT easy for me. I knew I wanted to have my baby shower early-ish in case I ended up feeling too huge to move near the end, and when my parents and sister all simultaneously decided to come visit from the West Coast at the end of October I knew that was the perfect time. Though it was a challenge not to obsess over every other tiny detail after setting the date, I decided to put a little faith in my amazing friends and family. I created an email listing some of my best ideas and contacts, hit send, and then let the chips fall where they may. My partner in crime Johanna and little sister Sierra headed up the planning committee, and though Sierra and I may have disagreed on the importance of games and gift opening at first, in the end these two did NOT disappoint. My “village” came together in the most beautiful way, offering up everything from handmade treats (what’s a baby shower without scones from my pals at Kitten and The Bear?) to their amazing design skills for the invites. I couldn’t believe the way so many talented people from Toronto and beyond came together to make this day so special for baby and me.

But why not just have the typical baby shower?

Let’s be honest – baby showers are long overdue for a bit of a revamp. Sitting around a room with a bunch of strangers making small talk and and letting people guess how big my belly is was just never my cup of tea, and I have a feeling a random survey would reveal not many people actually enjoy those types of events. In case you haven’t noticed from following this blog, I don’t take to normal very well – I tend to do everything out of order and on my own terms, I always have. This whole pregnancy has been such a big adventure, and I wanted a shower that mirrored that, not another quiet afternoon filled with awkward diaper games and soggy tea sandwiches. If I’m having a party, it better be a party to remember, and this one was definitely one for the books.

The party itself was at SoSo Food Club, a super cute new Chinese fusion restaurant in Toronto’s west end that just happens to have an all mint and pink colour scheme (my kind of interpretation of the whole pink and blue thing!) There was an epic snack table created and plated by my talented sister herself, topped off with scones and jam from KATB, candy from The Candy Bar, and tea from Tealish. Fun fact, this family-run tea shop is where Johanna and I originally met, and it’s still one of my very favourite places to sip in the city. If you haven’t tried their Toasty Almond blend, it’s totally pregnancy safe, caffeine free, and steeps hot pink (see if you can spot it in these photos – it was definitely the crowd favourite!) Then there was the cake, an ombre masterpiece custom created by Millie Desserts. These cakes have hundreds of thin crepe layers with the softest cream in between, and the result is basically a fluffy vanilla cloud dessert that melts in your mouth.

With gorgeous blooms from our friends at Wild North Flowers, who always knock it out of the park with their arrangements, and balloons from Balloon Bar, the space couldn’t have come together more perfectly. And the cookies! How could we forget the magical little pink and blue teacup cookies?! Johanna gave Little Rose Cookie co. full creative reign and she absolutely killed it, plus I am a bit of a sugar cookie connoisseur and these ones tasted as good as they looked which is HARD to come by, believe me.

A dreamy event might be #allinthedetails, but this one was so much more than that. I like to stay positive so I don’t talk about it much, but the reality of having a baby on my own with my family living so far away is daunting at times, and though I know down in my bones this was the right choice for me, my pregnancy hasn’t been without its fair share of anxiety about the future. Seeing all of these amazing people show up for me and baby with bells on, armed with hugs, gifts and warm wishes was exactly what I needed to remember that my little family is anything but alone in this journey. The whole afternoon was so filled with happy it flew by almost too fast, and I wish there was a way to bottle it up into a magic potion that I could take a sip of whenever I start to have doubts.

In the car on the way home my parents were recounting tales from the day and they said one thing that really stuck with me: “Your friends sure have a lot of faith in you Lyss, they all really seem to wholeheartedly believe you can do this and have your back. No one has any doubts. It’s kind of amazing.” Amongst all the gifts I unwrapped that day, hearing these words was the most precious.

Credits //

BonBons from The Candy Bar
Florals by Wild North
Ombre layered crepe cake by Millie Desserts
Custom magic sugar cookies by Little Rose Cookie co.
Tea from Tealish
Scones and Jam from Kitten and The Bear
Balloons from Balloon Bar
Soso Food Club
Risograph invitations designed by Jennifer Iliett

Take a peek at MyRegistry here!

The biggest thank you so Johanna, Sierra and my mom Judi for making my fun, colourful baby shower dreams come true. You guys made the most unexpected dream team and this day was better than I ever could have conjured!

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Party Time

The first long weekend of Summer is HERE, and though we won’t be escaping to a cottage like so many of our Canadian counterparts, we’re definitely ready to celebrate right here in the city. We decided to throw a lakeside beach staycation at one of our favourite Toronto landmarks, the Sugar Beach! Dotted with white Muskoka chairs and pink umbrellas, there’s no better place downtown to spread out a towel and soak up the sun with friends. Especially when you have VEGAN PIZZA and a BIRTHDAY to celebrate.

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In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, our pals at Panago created a limited edition Canada 150 box, illustrated by Chairman Ting, and you get to colour it in! Better yet, they also launched a new Vegan Canadian Pizza – with hot banana peppers, sautéed mushrooms, extra vegan pepperoni and dairy-free Diaya cheeze, it’s definitely a pizza that deserves a party.

With our soda pop and pizzas all packed up alongside pool floaties and sparkly flamingo sunglasses, we hit the beach! Has there ever been a better way to celebrate Canada’s Birthday?

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A special thanks to Jeanine and Amy for celebrating with us.

This post was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please email jess@shineinfluencers.com

Party Time

As the years go by there’s something truly magical about watching the people I love change and grow, building families, businesses, homes and beyond. I feel so lucky to be a part of all the things they create, to share in their joy and celebrate their victories (preferably with cake). Getting older and watching things change can be difficult; so often the relationships you build in your early twenties degrade and disappear over time, but I’ve started to accept that this shedding is less about loss and more about really growing with the people who matter most. In my case, that means Sophie, Bobby and their little one on the way.

I first met this wonderful pair at their west-end jam shop, Kitten and the Bear, and from the moment I walked in I knew we needed to be friends. From that day on we’ve been staging jam photo shoots, tracking down secret foodie delights, and taking the occasional road trip. When Soph told me she was pregnant last Fall I knew I wanted to do something super special to celebrate, and so the quest to throw the perfect baby shower began.

My team joined forces with one of Sophie’s close friends to get the ball rolling and searching for a dreamy venue was first up on the list. We immediately turned to the awesome team at The Drake, and they agreed to host us at their gorgeous new space, The Drake Commissary. With a massive kitchen that includes a GELATO MACHINE, a small marketplace section, and the coolest decor around, we knew our party had found the perfect home. We started working with Chef Jonas and the Drake team to dream up the menu, complete with colour changing cocktails and a naked style cake topped with peonies. We got the oh-so-talented Scarlet O’Neill on board to shoot the surprise, and enlisted the help of Amira from Coriander Girl for fresh flowers and greenery. Topped off with party favours from Sloane Fine Tea Merchants and Kitten and the Bear themselves, the stage was officially set to shower this growing family with love, gifts, and croissants!

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It was really hard to resist buying EVERYTHING for these two and their baby on the way, believe me, but I did my best to stick to the essentials: tiny shoes that make me and Johanna squeal aloud, a bear hat and mitten set to combat the Toronto cold, and a pacifier for teething that Sophie and Bobby can fill with fruit for the new addition to their “Jamily”! Links to shop below…

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Here are some of our favourite picks from Amazon:

Fruit-filled pacifier for teething
Baby bear paw mittens
Baby bear fleece hat
White baby converse
Fruity Party Picks
Baby bear onesie

An extra special thanks to:
Florals – Coriander Girl
Photography – Scarlet O’Neill
Favours – Sloane Tea and Kitten and the Bear
Food, Drinks and Venue – The Drake Commissary

Team RAOP’s dresses by Samantha Pleet (Alyssa) and Guess (blue on Johanna, yellow on Seonaid)

Party Time

Is anyone else shocked by how fast this month has flown by? It feels like I’ve been all over the place, from PEC to Muskoka and Bancroft and back again, and there’s SO much to share with you guys I don’t even know where to start! There’s a lot of really great content coming up between now and July 1st, in fact, there will be a new post up almost every single day between now and then, so get ready for a lot of FUN!

Now that I’m back in Toronto for a hot second I’m finally able to start sharing some of the awesome things we’ve been working on around here. First up, I FINALLY decided on furniture for my apartment (months after moving in) and I’m THRILLED with how our new headquarters looks now that it’s come together. We’ll be sharing a full tour with our friends at CB2 later this Summer, but you’ll get a sneak peek in this post.

So what exactly IS this post? We’ve got two main things to share with you here, one being an introduction to Eivey. I’ve always been obsessed with organizing and cleaning out my closet (my best friend and I had little “closet cleanout” parties throughout our very type-A childhood), and thought I donate most of my extras there are a few special pieces that I have a hard time piling into a bag and waving goodbye to. That’s where Eivey comes in – a new Canadian website that makes listing and selling your high-end items super simple and, dare I say, fun? You can list items to your “closet” (here is mine if you feel like shopping!) and other users can follow you to get notified when you add something new. Best of all, Eivey sends you a mailing package directly so all you have to do is pop your pre-loved item into the mail.

The amazing ladies behind Eivey approached us to host a little wine and cheese closet cleaning party with some of our friends, and my childhood nostalgia alone prompted an automatic yes! Everyone brought a couple items and we all shot photos and posted together over epic cheese plates and rosé punch. Rosé punch you say? Which brings me to the recipe portion of this post!

We pretty much live off of Zevia sparkling water here at HQ, and we figured this mini party was the perfect time to dream up a new Summery recipe! We used their deliciously refreshing Mandarin Orange flavour with a trio of our favourite melon, fresh mandarin orange slices and a splash of our all time favourite rosé, SUMMER WATER (get it here at a special price!)

Scroll down for the full recipe and more party pics!

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What you’ll need //

Zevia’s Sparkling Mandarin Water
Honeydew Melon
Watermelon
Cantelope
Mandarin oranges (clementines work too)
Summer Water Rosé

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Instructions //

Use a melon baller on all three melons to create a bowl’s worth of mixed colours. Peel your oranges and add the slices to your bowl. Put the bowl of fruit in the freezer for 10-15 mins. Stir melon and orange slices in a Yari mixing glass with ice, muddling a bit while you stir.

Add Zevia’s Sparkling Mandarin Water and let sit in the Yari in a cool place for half an hour, letting the fruit “steep” for more melon flavour.

Fill a glass with ice (we used this copper pineapple sharing cocktail glass) and pour the Zevia and fruit combination over into the glass (or glasses)

Top it off with a splash (or two) of rosé and garnish with slices of melon!

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This post was sponsored, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please email jess@shineinfluencers.com