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.

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}

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}

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}

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}

perk up your turkey day with pumpkin cheesecake

If you're feeling the stress of holiday cooking this year, just focus on the best part... Dessert!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

{recipe & image via woman's day}

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 box (7.05 oz) ginger lemon creme sandwich cookies (carrs)
2 Tbsp melted light butter
2 tubs (1 lb 8.3 oz each) refrigerated cheesecake filling
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Garnish: toasted pecan halves, caramel sauce


You'll need an 8 x 3-in. springform pan coated with nonstick spray. Place cookies in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add melted butter; process until crumbs begin to stick together. Press over bottom of prepared pan.

Stir 1 tub cheesecake filling in large bowl until smooth; spread onto crumb layer.

Stir remaining tub of cheesecake filling, pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spice in same large bowl until blended and smooth. Evenly spread over plain cheesecake in pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until set

To serve: Remove pan sides and place pecans around top edge of cake. Put caramel sauce into a small ziptop bag, snip a small tip off one corner and pipe sauce on top.

Plan Ahead: Make cheesecake 2 days ahead, then top with pecans and caramel sauce just before serving.

packaging your holiday fun

I love these simple packaging ideas from garnish. The kraft paper boxes inspire me to host a holiday cookie swap.

{images via garnish}

show & tell

I'm off to the hospital to meet my best friend's brand new baby girl. In her honor, I leave you with a few of my all time favorite baby showers (and other happy web discoveries I made this week).

alphabets & elephants.

milk & cookies.

cirque du bebe.

hoot for little owls.

red & aqua inspiration.

hot pink zebra party.

at home letterpress... can it really be?

good food galore.

love letters.

handmade holiday shopping.

real parties: pink, green & girly

Jessica of Party Box Design created this adorable party for her daughter’s 1st birthday. Everything about it truly is pink, green and girly... from the flowers to the favor boxes to the water bottles. Not only did she hand make these luscious cupcakes, but she also designed the tutu wrapped cupcake tower to compliment her daughters party attire. She even created a signature drink for the day, a “Charli-tini” in pink martini glasses. It’s a cute overload!

{images via party box design}

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!)