Party Time

There’s something so enchanted about a good garden party. For one, they can really only be successful on those perfect days of the year that are neither too hot nor too cold. They also require a beautiful outdoor space, which can be quite hard to come by in the city, and there’s the bug issue to contend with…

But then sometimes, as if by magic, it just all comes together.

Sophie, my dear friend from Kitten and the Bear, and I have been talking about styling a pastel garden party shoot in her secret Parkdale garden for what seems like years. The ideas constantly morphed, but the general feel always stayed the same: there would be treats, there would be tea, and there would be flowers in every corner.

When we finally settled upon a date, all the details just fell into place from there. After much discussion we decided on brunch as our meal time of choice, and quickly joined forces with Chambord to craft some jam-infused breakfast cocktails (recipe here). Sophie got to work dreaming up simple yet decadent tea sandwiches (recipe here), and Delysees offered to provide the dreamiest sweet treats in the land for our spread. Last but not least, Amira (aka one of our favourite local flower queens) from Coriander Girl offered her green thumb, filling the space with blooms and plants on every possible surface.

The final result was full tilt Marie-Antoinette garden party perfection. There were sparkling golden eclairs, there were tiny “jam window” and lavender cucumber sandwiches, and there were endless sparkling Chambord cocktails. We hung had dyed baby blue muslin over the table to help with sunburns and melting desserts, and draped the same fabric over our dessert table to pull the scene together. By the time the models finally poured in, dressed to the nines in lace and flower crowns, the whole space had filled with a glittering energy – warm, bright, and so quintessentially summer.

What are you waiting for? Come celebrate with us!

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Brown-Forman Corporation, Louisville, KY, Black Raspberry 16.5%, 21+

Styling and concept by Alyssa Garrison of RAOP
Photos by Bobbyand Johanna
Savoury creations by Sophie of Kitten and the Bear
Sweet treats by Delysees
Florals and greenery by Amira of Coriander Girl
A special thanks to our models Meghan, Sasha, Amanda, Aneta, & Mari

Originally posted by Hooray Magazine

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Sips, Sweets & Snacks

Today we’re sharing an extra special guest post from Sophie at Kitten and the Bear, and it involves making the cutest little sandwiches you ever did see! Did somebody say lavender cucumber?!

“There are a few things that transform just any old party into a tried and true Tea Party. Tea cups are an absolute must (bonus points for vintage, mismatched and pastel!), tiered trays and lots of fresh florals certainly set the mood, and scones and jam must be present for tradition’s sake. But, a tea party isn’t really a tea party without those tiny, little white bread sandwiches we all know and love! The most classic choices are cucumber and butter, smoked salmon, chicken, and egg salad, but for us, the more beautiful, tiny, colourful, and intricate the better! So, as a little supplement to our Pastel Garden Brunch we styled with Alyssa of Random Acts of Pastel (full photo set coming next week!), we wanted to share our spin on the classic tea sandwich, done KATB-style 3 different ways to add a little flair to your tea party table!”

Scroll down for full recipes!

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Tea Sandwiches 3 Ways //

Ingredients:

Loaf of classic white Wonder Bread
1 fresh cucumber
1 pint of fresh strawberries
1-3 jars of KATB jam, preferably in a variety of colours
Lavender oil (we used this one from A L’Olivier)
Butter, at room temperature
Cream Cheese, at room temperature
Culinary-grade lavender blossoms
Fresh sprigs of mint
2.25” round cookie cutter
The tiniest heart-shaped cookie cutter you can find (we found ours at Bulk Barn!)

*replace butter and cream cheese with vegan versions to make these sammies vegan friendly!

Cucumber & Lavender //

Using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice your cucumber as thin as possible crosswise.
Spread a thin coat of butter on your slices of white bread, and delicately place your cucumber slices in one layer to create a mosaic effect, overlapping the crusts.

Then, using a sharp knife, cut through the cucumber and bread into your desired shape. We chose squares for our cucumber sammies, and got 1 sammie out of each piece of bread. Tip: if you find that your cucumber slices are slipping as you try to cut through them, place the whole palm of your (clean) hand on top of your sammie to hold everything in place as you cut. Don’t be nervous to press down a little bit – the Wonder Bread will bounce right back!

Set aside…

Strawberry & Mint //

Spread a thin layer of butter on a couple slices of Wonder Bread, then cut off the crusts and into 3 long rectangles.

Using a sharp knife, hull the greenery from the top of your berries. Sit them on their “heads,” slice them thin, and, keeping them in their original order, use your fingers to carefully fan the slices and place them on each rectangle of bread.

Set aside…

Stained Glass Jam Sammies //

For these little gems, you will get one sammie per every two pieces of bread. So, for three sammies, arrange 6 slices of bread on your cutting board in a 2×3 grid.

Using the circle cutter, cut rounds out of all of the pieces of bread – 3 for the bases of your sammies, 3 for the tops. Then, cut hearts out of only 3 (half) of the rounds.

Spread your cream cheese on each of the bases, then add a dollop of jam and give it a slight spread with the back of your spoon. Be careful not to spread the jam too close to the edges, or you will have a messy tea sandwich. Also, using a variety of different types of preserves will add visual beauty and colour to your display!

Place the heart-cut-out tops on top of each base, and press gently to “seal” the sammie and push the cheese and jam to the outer edges.

The grand finale…

When you are ready to serve your tea sandwiches…

Drizzle a small amount of lavender oil over your cucumber mosaics, and a little sprinkle of lavender blossoms,

Pluck the tiniest leaves and any flowers from the tips of your mint sprigs, and place prettily on your strawberries…

Load all of your tea sammies onto your tiered tray, serve, and enjoy! Pinkies up!

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Sips, Sweets & Snacks

Are you ready for more #pastelcraftclub? Good, because this week we have something pretty extra special in order.

Our dear friend Sophie, aka the jam genius behind Kitten and the Bear, is sharing an Apricot Rose Jam recipe with us featuring all of her top secret tips and tricks for making the perfect confiture. Paige and I have both been swooning over Kitten and the Bear since the very day they opened their shop doors, and we can pretty much promise you’ve never tasted jam quite this good before. Everything Sophie and her marvellous husband Bobby touch truly turns to gold, and we’re absolutely thrilled to be able to share a special recipe from their shop of wonders.

Just make sure you don’t forget their secret ingredient: LOVE!

Scroll down to get started on the recipe

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Ingredients //

5 lb apricots of any variety, pit removed (we used small yellow Pattersons, about 45-50 apricots)
2 lb sugar
4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons worth)
A small handful of food-grade dried rose petals

Equipment (suggested):
Traditional Mauviel copper confiture pan (available by special order through Kitten and the Bear) or wide double-bottomed stainless steel pot
Home canning kit

Method //

Day 1

Wash, then slice your apricots in half and remove the stone from the center. We left our apricots in halves, but if you have larger, firmer fruit, you can cut once again in half to make 4 cubes.

Add the apricots, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to a non-reactive mixing bowl, toss thoroughly, and cover.

Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2

Line a clean baking sheet with clean, dry jam jars, and put into a 250 F oven.
Transfer your apricot mixture into a traditional copper jam pan, or wide stainless steel pot (do not use aluminum, as it will give your jam a dull colour, metallic flavour, and make it difficult for your jam to set).

Heat on high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan every couple minutes to avoid hot spots.
Your jam will come up to a boil and begin to foam. Continue to cook, manipulating the burner heat to be at the highest heat possible without your jam boiling over. The goal with all French style jam making is to have the highest possible heat, the most amount of evaporation, and the shortest time on the stovetop. This results in a brightly coloured preserve with a fresh, fruit forward flavour. Thus, this stage of cooking should only take approximately 20 minutes, depending on your pot choice and stovetop.

The foam will begin to fall, and you will notice that the fruit has started to get soft, puffy, and has begun to break down.

Continue to cook, scraping the bottom of your pot every couple minutes to avoid scorching, however not so often that you don’t allow to jam to come up to temperature and cook on its own.

You will notice that the jam looks more homogenous, and the bubbles are now smaller, and more evenly distributed over the surface of the jam. As your jam gets closer to being done, you may have to reduce your heat slightly or stir slightly more often.

To test for doneness, turn off the heat and scoop a representative sample of jam with a metal teaspoon. Place the spoon in the freezer for approximately 3 minutes, keeping the pot of jam off the heat in the meanwhile. After 3 minutes, gently nudge the preserve with your finger to check the texture, and tip your spoon and see if it runs. You can also push the pot of jam, which has now cooled ever so slightly, with a spoon or spatula to see if a skin has formed. When you lift your spatula out of the jam, it should “sheet” rather than “drip”.

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If you feel as though your jam should still be thicker, cook for another 5 minutes and test the jam again. If it is done, skim off any remaining foam and stir in your dried rose petals, adding a little bit at a time to be appetizing and aesthetically appealing.
Remove your jars from the oven, and replace with your caps (set a timer for 10 minutes). Using two heat-safe pitchers, scoop a pitcher full of jam out of your pot with one, and pour directly into the other. Then, use this pitcher to portion out your jam into your sanitary jars. I highly recommend purchasing a standard home canning kit such as this one, as a canning funnel and ruler makes this a lot easier.

Fill each jam to ¼” of headroom, or the first notch of your headroom gauge. Wet a clean sheet of paper towel with hot water, and ensure there isn’t a single speck on jam on the rim or in the threading of your jars.

Your caps can stay in the oven during this entire process, however ensure that they have been in the oven for *at least* 10 minutes. Cap all of your jars according to the directions for your specific style of jar (mason or lug), and return to the oven for exactly 10 minutes.

Remove your jars from the oven carefully, space an inch or two apart, and allow to sit undisturbed for 24 hours to ensure a perfect set.

Enjoy! This jam will keep up to 1 year sealed in your pantry (out of direct sunlight), or 3-6 months open in your fridge.

Get creative! Apricot jams pair perfectly with a number of fun flavour embellishments. Some of my favourites are vanilla bean, amaretto, lavender, rose, kirsh, citrus zest (orange, lemon, tangerine), warm spices (cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, anise, nutmeg), brandy, ginger, and saffron. Any spirits, petals, floral waters, zests, extracts and herbs should be added at the very end of cooking, while dried spices (ground or whole) should be added at the beginning to allow for a thorough infusion.

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For more Kitten and the Bear goodness be sure to stop into their jam shop in Parkdale, or order online!

Dress UpParty Time

I am the most wedding-crazy of all wedding-crazy humans, and I’ve been patiently waiting for my friends to start tying the knot so I can get immersed in all the fun! When my good friend Paige announced her engagement awhile back I knew my time had finally come. I immediately started dreaming up fun ways to celebrate, and a couple months ago I landed on the idea of throwing her a mini styled party/photoshoot with my favourite beauty bar, Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

I’d seen beautiful private events being hosted at HMP time and time again, and it always looks like such a fun and elegant way to get together, get pampered and celebrate. Complete with delicious catering from Colette Grand Café, buckets of bubbly, and the best nail art in the city, it was only a matter of time before I slotted myself in for one of their events packages.

Shot by the oh-so-talented Scarlet O’Neill (also a bride to be!), this project was such a fun way to stretch my bridal styling muscles, and to treat Paige to a bit of pampering to celebrate her upcoming special day. In my mind those moments spent giggling with your girls are a crucial part of the wedding buildup, and why not have that over manicures and flower-topped cocktails right?

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Photos by Scarlet O’Neill
Styling, florals, and direction by Alyssa Garrison
Treats provided by Colette Grand Café
Jam Favours by Kitten and the Bear
Location provided by Her Majesty’s Pleasure
A special thanks to our models, and the bride-to-be of course!
Paige Boersma, Alex Perlin, Amanda Lynn Hatch, and Emily Coutts.

Sips, Sweets & Snacks

Okay, so who doesn’t love a well-planned picnic right? I’m generally into dining outdoors in any capacity, but if printed blankets and cute paper plates are involved you can definitely count me in!

Apparently this coming Saturday is #InternationalPicnicDay, which in my mind means everyone, everywhere will be rushing out to their local park with colourful blankets and cooler bags stuffed with goodies. And if my vision is true -which I really believe it could be- what better time to share a super simple, extra pretty picnic recipe!

We love a good canapé at RAOP HQ, especially when Lavash crackers, some form of goat cheese, and locally crafted jam is involved. We combined one of our favourite flavours of Kitten and the Bear jam with the always-delicious Flax and Honey Lavash Crackers by Ozery Bakery (happy 20th anniversary guys!), slices of cheese and a drizzle of liquid honey, all topped off with an edible flower to finish our two-bite works of art.

This recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser at any picnic you attend this Summer! Scroll down for full instructions //

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Ingredients //

Ozery Bakery Flax & Honey Lavash crackers
Kitten and the Bear Plum & Rose Jam
Goat Brie
Liquid Honey (we used Nude Bee buckwheat honey)
Edible Flowers

Recipe //

Break up each cracker into two pieces. Spread approximately a teaspoon of jam across each one. Thinly slice the goat brie and place on top of the jam – drizzle with honey and finish it all off with an edible flower or two!

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