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Last minute Halloween ideas!



Halloween is almost here!

Today was a day full of holiday expectation: Luka and Zoe were playing with their costumes  all afternoon (Zoe will be a witch – we almost named her Hermione, so what else could she be?, and Luka will be a vampire) and relinquished them reluctantly at bedtime, which made me very happy. They also brought back from school jack-o-lantern masks and bats they had made by stamping their hands on paper, and adding googly eyes, and wanted to read Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson over and over again.  This morning I  had made the cupcakes above for them to bring to school tomorrow (inspired by these ones by Jenny Steffens) and, as you can imagine, it was a little difficult to keep them away from the refrigerator and to convince them to wait until tomorrow to have one at school! But that is what holidays are all about, don’t you think? Special days, with special traditions that we share with family and friends, and to which we look forward to year after year.

Last year, right before leaving for our family trip to Argentina, I wrote a post with a list of links to parties, food, ideas and free printables from around the web and, this October, that post was one of the ones that got more views. So I thought to do the same this year, in case you need some quick last minute inspiration. Here it goes (click to be redirected!) :

– I love these free printable Halloween candle wrappers and these printables lanterns  too

– This post by none other than Amy Atlas has great dessert table ideas and free printables as well

This witch crash cake has to be my all time favourite (and it looks super easy as well!)

– These Halloween ideas from The TomKat Studio for the DIY network are also great and easy to do

An easy ghostly treat: mini marshmallows, clear bags, marker and black ribbon!

– No time for baking? Store bought cupcakes, cupcake liners and just a few extra supplies is all you need to make these witch hat cupcakes

These extra cute owl mini cupcakes have been all around the web and only require oreos and m&ms to decorate them

This is a great video by Wilton on how to decorate easy halloween cupcakes

If you need more inspiration, don’t forget to check the rest of my Halloween pinterest board, and my post from last year!

 Enjoy the holiday and, if you are in the USA NE region, stay safe!

* For the cupcakes above I used my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe, from Vegan cupcakes take over the world. I then frosted the cupcakes with milk chocolate swiss meringue buttercream (using a spatula, nothing fancy), covered them in chocolate vermicellis (store-bought), and finally piped a swiss meringue ghost. To make swiss meringue for 15 cupcakes I used 110 grs of egg whites and 220 grs of sugar (let me know if you need instructions on how to make it!). I drew the eyes and mouth with a toothpick dipped in black food coloring.

 Con sabor latino…

Halloween ya casi está aquí!

Hoy fue un día lleno de esa hermosa anticipación que se siente con las fiestas: Luka y Zoe jugaron con sus disfraces toda la tarde (Zoe será una bruja (como que casi casi la llamamos Hermione!) y Luka un vampiro) y me los entregaron a regañadientes a la hora de ir a dormir, lo que me hizo muy feliz. Hoy tambien trajeron de la escuela manualidades alusivas: un antifaz de calabaza tallada, y un murcielago hecho con la impresion en papel de sus manitos y ojitos saltarines (de esos de plástico, que se mueven para todos lados), y quisieron leer una y otra vez el cuento Room on the Broom (lugar en la escoba) de Julia Donaldson. Esta mañana, mientras ellos estaban en la escuela, yo les había hecho las cupcakes fantasmagoricas que ilustran este post, para que las lleven mañana a la escuela (y que están inspiradas en estas de Jenny Steffens) y, como podrán imaginarse, con tanta expectativa, a duras penas pude mantenerlos alejados de las mismas, y convencerlos que esperaran a mañana para comerlas! Aunque de eso se trata, no? Las fiestas son justamente esa expectativa, esas tradiciones, ese momento especial compartido con seres queridos, que hacen que las esperemos año a año y que la sola idea de su llegada nos llene el corazón de recuerdos alegres y esperanzas.

El año pasado, como estábamos de viaje para esta época, publiqué un post con links a las mejores ideas halloweenescas que había encontrado en la web y, este año, desde octubre, ese post ha sido uno de los más buscados y leidos. Por eso este año, se me ocurrió hacer lo mismo, pero actualizado. Internet está llena de ideas fantásticas, asi que, si necesitan inspiración de último minuto, chequeen los links que dejé más arriba (en la versión en inglés). No se van a arrepentir!

Y si necesitan aún más ideas, pueden ver el resto de mi pinterest board de halloween, y el post del año pasado, del que les hablaba!

Espero que disfruten muchísimo de este Halloween y que el paso de Sandy los encuentre sanos y salvos!

* Para hacer las cupcakes de las fotos usé mi recete de cupcakes de chocolate favorita (de Vegan cupcakes take over the world) . Las cubrí con swiss meringue buttercream de chocolate y luego les espolvorée granas de chocolate arriba. Para terminar, usando la manga sin boquilla, puse un copón de merengue suizo (hecho con 110 grs de claras y 220 grs de azucar para 15 cupcakes), a los que les dibujé ojos y boca con un palillo escarbadiente mojado en colorante alimentario negro. 

Luka and Zoe’s 4th birthday party


Good evening friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend!

I write this post late in the evening because today was a holiday, Cyprus Independence Day, so we took advantage of having Luka and Zoe home for an extra dose of playing, crafting and cooking together. I try to spend as little time as possible in front of the computer when they are home (I don’t always manage, but I try!).

Now on to today’s post: Luka and Zoe’s 4th birthday party!


If I had to chose one word to describe the party, it would be relaxed. Unlike other birthdays, for this one we decided to take it easy, not only on the day itself, but also during the preparations. This year there was no rush, no late night crafting, no stressing over little details. We did our best to give our children a pretty little home party that was within our budget; and we made a conscious decision to make our best for Luka and Zoe to enjoy, not only the party itself, but also the weeks before it. 

Let me explain this a little better. Earlier this year, I mentioned to my husband a comment a friend had made to me, about how her child was always cranky and hypersensitive the week prior to his birthday, and I noticed that the same had happened with our children the week prior to their last party. “Of course children get cranky and hypersensitive” said my husband, and then explained his thoughts: “The week before these parties mothers go crazy with all the preparations, and children at this age don’t really understand what it all is about, nor do they care, so they get nervous.” This got me thinking a lot about how we celebrate and about how we honour the persons in our life, and I realized how easy it is to slip into the mistake of doing things that, while beautiful, are not really for the ones we intend to honour, but for ourselves.  So we made the commitment to follow our children’s lead as to what they want(and then adapt that to be within our means, of course)  to have them participate in the preparations as much as possible, and to be mindful about the fact that in every celebration, little or big, it is the memories we built that matter.  We decided to make an extra effort to build memories that are happy from beginning to end, memories  that are untarnished by unnecessary stress or arguments over minor details.

birthday party3

We started by setting up a stress-free birthday preparation plan of action, for which my natural A-type personality behaviour came in handy (wink, wink). Luka and Zoe didn’t really care about anything else than there being a cake with candles they could blow over and over so, without a theme chosen by themselves, I decided to make one based only on flavours they love: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, lots of chocolate. This lead to a simple color palette: brown and pink, with a white/creme base. With this in mind, I checked what I already had at home to set the table (I had almost everything. The only thing I had to buy were the popcorn boxes) and prepared a menu based on the number of persons that we knew we would invite, which was very small because Luka and Zoe’s birthday falls the middle of the Summer vacations.


One month before the party, while Luka and Zoe were in Summer school, I baked the macarons, and froze them. Three weeks before the party, I baked the cakes and froze them too, wrapped in two layers of foil. One week before the party, I prepared the cakes’ frostings and froze them as well.  Two nights before the party, I prepared the streamers for the backdrop, the garland for the dessert table, and I punched and glued the circles that I used to personalize paper cups and popcorn boxes. The day before the party, I defrosted all food, made the cake-pops, assembled the cakes  including crumb coating and, on the night before, I decorated them in no more than one hour.

Two hours before the party, we bought a few petits fours at a local bakery. One hour before the party, while Luka and Zoe were playing by my side, I set up the backdrop (using double sided tape) and all dishes. 15 minutes before the beginning of the party, I placed the food and took a few pictures.  Here’s a look at how the table looked before and after the food was added:

birthday party7

 If you look closely, you will see that I used a few “tricks’: The cakes were placed on a cake drum on top of inverted white bowls (I don’t own small cake stands) and the cute glass cake stands where the macarons were placed? They are dessert plates placed on top of matching bowls, glued together with a little piece of play-dough so that they would be safe for little hands!


The food consisted of the above said petits-fours (in different flavours), chocolate macarons with dark chocolate ganache, rose macarons with white chocolate and strawberry ganache, chocolate cake pops (covered in white chocolate and drizzled with pink chocolate-Sorry there are no pictures!), Luka and Zoe’s  favourite cookies (Pan di Stelle and Abracci), popcorn, and the birthday cakes.



Zoe’s cake was made of layers of vanilla and strawberry cake filled and frosted with tons and tons pink vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream ruffles. You can see how to make the ruffles watching THIS video by My Sweet and Saucy. It is really, really easy and fast!


Luka’s cake was made of layers of a very moist  chocolate cake, filled and frosted with semi-sweet chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. For the decoration, I used the petal technique, which has been all over the web these past months and that you can learn by reading THIS tutorial by My Cake School. It is a little more time consuming than the ruffles, but just as easy.



You probably noticed that the pictures are…well, not my best. I had decided not to over stress about them before the party (not to stress Luka and Zoe out) and, during the party, in the middle of it all, a few funny things happened. If you follow me on facebook, you already know what that is, but if you don’t, here’s the status message I published at the time: Instructions for candle blowing with 4 year old children: 1) Innocently believe that it will be possible to light 8 candles with two 4 year old kids waiting patiently to blow them, despite this being the first birthday when they actually realize what is going on and are super excited 2) Set up the camera on a tripod in a hurry, while trying to keep said children away from the tripod and, mostly, from the camera. 3) Accidentally set incorrect speed settings, thereby causing all pictures to be blurred.4) Try to light candles in one cake first 5) Watch both children blow vigorously from below, turning off the candles as soon as they are lit 6) Realize that no matter which settings you chose, your children are blowing the candles so quickly that the continued shooting did not have time to even start taking pictures before all candles were blown.7) Quickly, grab a child and put her next to the cake to try to “fake”a picture, while the other child runs around asking “again! again!”. 8) Light the candles of the second cake, grab the children and their friend (who also wants to blow candles!) and make a last attempt 9) Enjoy the happy chaos and everybody’s laughter and forget about whether anyone will be able to distinguish anything from the pictures 😉

Have a wonderful day!



Con sabor latino…

Buenas noches queridos amigos! Espero que hayan tenido un fin de semana hermoso!

Escribo este post tarde por la noche porque hoy fue feriado, el día de la Independencia de Chipre, así que aprovechamos que Luka y Zoe estaban en casa para tener una dosis extra de mimos, juegos, manualidades y cocina juntos. Cuando ellos están en casa intento no acercarme a la computadora…no siempre lo logro, pero lo intento!

Ahora sí, hablemos del post de hoy: el cuarto cumpleaños de Luka y Zoe!

Si tuviera que describir la fiesta con una sola palabra, sería relajada. A diferencia de otros cumpleaños, este decidí tomar todo con calma, no sólo el día de la fiesta, sino tambien durante los preparativos. Este año no hubo corridas, manualidades hasta altas horas de la noche ni stress por pequeños detalles. Hicimos todo lo posible para darle a nuestros hijos una fiesta casera y bonita, dentro de nuestro presupuesto, y tomamos la decisión consciente de esforzarnos por que Luka y Zoe disfrutaran, no sólo de la fiesta en sí, sino tambien de las semanas anteriores a la misma.

Dejenme explicarles un poco mejor a qué me refiero con ésto. A comienzos de este año, le mencioné a mi marido el comentario que una amiga me había hecho, acerca de cómo su hijo siempre se ponía nervioso y estaba hiper sensible durante toda la semana antes de su fiesta, y cómo yo había notado lo mismo en nuestros hijos durante la semana anterior a su última fiestas de cumpleaños, que celebramos en Argentina. “Es lógico que los chicos se pongan nerviosos e hipersensibles “, me dijo mi marido, y explicó: “Justamente es en esa semana antes que las madres estan enloquecidas corriendo detras de los detalles y preparativos de las fiestas, y los chicos, que a esta edad no entienden de qué se trata, ni les importa,  se ponen nerviosos”. Esto me dejó pensando mucho acerca de cómo celebramos y cómo honramos las personas importantes en nuestra vida y me dí cuenta de cuan fácil es caer en el error de hacer cosas que, aunque bonitas, no estan dirigidas a quienes queremos celebrar y honrar, sino que son hechas para  nosotros mismos, porque nos gustan a nosotros, porque satisfacen un deseo nuestro y no de la otra persona. Por ello, asumimos el compromiso de dejar que nuestros hijos quienes decidan qué quieren y qué no (adaptando ésto a nuestras posibilidades, claro!), de hacerlos participar en los preparativos, y de tener muy presente que en toda celebración, grande o chica, lo que importa con los recuerdos que creamos juntos.  Y nos comprometimos, tambien, a hacer un esfuerzo extra por que esos recuerdos que creamos sean recuerdos felices de principio a fin, recuerdos que no estén manchados por stress innecesario o discusiones sin importancia.

Con este objetivo en mente, armamos un “plan de acción para una fiesta de cumpleaños sin stress”, facilitado por mi personalidad tipo A ;)Luka y Zoe no querían nada especial, sólo una torta con velitas que pudieran soplar una y otra vez así que, sin un tema elegido por ellos mismos, decidí concentrarme para armar todo en sus sabores preferidos: vainilla, frutilla y chocolate, mucho chocolate. Esto llevó a una paleta de colores simple y sencilla: rosa y marrón chocolate, con una base en crema/blanco. Con esto en mente, comencé a ver qué tenía disponible  en casa para servir la mesa (para mi alegría, descubrí que tenía casi todo-sólo compré las bolsas de popcorn), y planifiqué el menú en base a la cantidad de invitados, que fueron muy poquitos porque mis hijos cumplen años en plenas vacaciones de verano.

Un mes antes de la fiesta, mientras Luka y Zoe estaban en la escuela de verano, preparé los macarons y los congelé en el freezer. 3 semanas antes de la fiesta,prepará las tortas (cada capa por separado) y las congelé tambien, envueltas en doble capa de papel film. Una semana antes de la fiesta, preparé las cremas con las que rellenaría y decoraría las tortas y las congelé. Dos noches antes del día de la fiesta, preparé las guirnaldas que decorarían la pared contra la cual iría la mesa dulce, la guirnalda que iba en la mesa, y personalicé los vasos y las bolsas de popcorn con circulos de cartulina en los que escribí el nombre de mis hijos. El día antes de la fiesta descongelé toda la comida, hice los cake pops con los restos de torta que sobraron al emparejarlas, armé las tortas, incluyendo la primer capa de crema de la decoración y, la noche anterior, las decoré en no más de una hora.

Dos horas antes de la fiesta, mi marido compró unos petits fours en una panadería cercana.Una hora antes de la fiesta, mientras Luka y Zoe corrían y jugaban alrededor mío, puse las guirnaldas en la pared y coloqué la vajilla en la mesa.15 minutos antes que llegaran los invitados, coloqué la comida, y saqué un par de fotos (arriba pueden ver el antes y el despues de la preparación de la mesa dulce)

Si miran las fotos del antes y el despues detalladamente, notaran que usé un par de truquitos:  como no tengo cake stands pequeños, coloqué las tortas en su base de carton sobre bowls blancos invertidos, y los macarons sobre pies de torta que en realidad no son sino platos de postre colocados sobre mini bowls haciendo juego, invertidos. Los bowls estan pegados a los platos con plastilina, que es facil de sacar y de lavar, para que no se muevan y sean seguros para pequeñas manitos toca todo.

La comida consistió en los mencionados petits fours, macarons de chocolate rellenos con ganache de chocolate amargo, macarons de rosas rellenos con ganache de chocolate blanco y frutillas, cake pops cubiertos con chocolate blanco y tiras de chocolate blanco teñido de rosa (no hay fotos, perdon!), las galletitas preferidas de Luka y Zoe (Abracci y Pan di Stelle), pochoclo y las tortas, claro.

La torta de Zoe estaba formada por capas de tortas de vainilla y frutilla, rellena y decorada con montones de volados de crema de manteca suiza a la vainilla, teñida de rosa. Para saber cómo hacer los volados  pueden ver ESTE VIDEO de My Sweet and Saucy (en Ingles). Es facil y rapidísimo!

La torta de Luka estaba formada por capas de torta húmeda de chocolate, rellena y decorada con crema de manteca suiza de chocolate semi amargo. Para decorarla usé una técnica que se ha visto muchísimo en internet estos últimos meses, llamada “petalo” y que pueden aprender viendo ESTE TUTORIAL de My cake school. Si bien este método lleva un poco más de tiempo que los volados, es igualmente fácil de hacer.

Posiblemente hayan notado que las fotos de este post no son, ejem,  de las mejores que he tomado. El día del cumpleaños decidí no estresarme al respecto antes que llegaran los invitados para no poner nerviosos a Luka y Zoe (siguiendo la misma linea de pensamiento que les comentaba antes). A lo largo de la fiesta, en medio de todo el caos que estos eventos son generalmente, ocurrieron un par de cosas graciosas. Si me siguen en facebook, posiblemente hayan leido el status que publiqué en esa ocasión y sepan de qué hablo, pero por si acaso no es así, aquí lo tienen: Instrucciones para soplar velitas con niños de 4 años: 1) Cree, inocentemente, que será posible encender 8 velas con dos niños de 4 años excitadísimos y esperando impacientemente para soplarlas,y justo en el primer año en que se dan cuenta de qué es un cumpleaños 2) Coloque la cámara en un trípode a las corridas, e intentando mantener a dichos niños alejados del trípode y de la cámara 3) Seleccione los parámetros incorrectos accidentalmente, causando que todas las fotos sucesivas aparezcan borrosas 4) Intente encender las velas, una torta por vez 5) Observe cómo los mencionados niños la persiguen soplando vigorosamente, apagando las velas tan pronto como usted logra encenderlas. 6) Dese cuenta que los parametros de la cámara no importan demasiado, porque sus hijos estan soplando las velas tan rapidamente que todas se han apagado antes que el modo continuo de la cámara comience siquiera a tomar fotos. 7) Rápido, tome un niño y coloquelo en posicion de soplado aunque todas las velas ya esten apagadas, para fingir una foto correcta, mientras el otro niño corre alrededor gritando, excitadísimo, “de nuevo! de nuevo!”8) Encienda las velas de la segunda torta, tome ambos niños y a su amiguita que a estas alturas tambien quiere soplar velas, y haga un último intento 9) Disfrute el feliz caos y las risas generalizadas y olvide que nadie será capaz de distinguir nada en las fotos 😉

Que tengan un hermoso día!


birthday party5

August break and a simple table setting tutorial



Good Morning friends!

I hope you are having a lovely week, enjoying the warmth of summer (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) or the cool days of winter (if you live in the South).

Luka and Zoe are currently on  a break from nursery school and, for this reason, I have decided to take a break from blogging during this month, and to dedicate it completely to making this a summer to remember. A few weeks ago, I read THIS post on the blog Modern Parents Messy kids and it got me thinking about how time seems to fly, how childhood seems to go by in the blink of an eye.

I remembered, as I read, a  passage from one of my favourite books, Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, where it says:  “You’ll find out it’s little savors and little things that count more than big ones. A walk on a spring morning is better than an eighty-mile ride in a hopped-up car, you know why? Because it’s full of flavors, full of a lot of things growing. You’ve time to seek and find. I know, you’re after the broad effect now, I suppose that’s fit and proper. But you got to look at grapes as well as watermelons. You greatly admire skeletons and I like fingerprints; well, and good. Right now such things are bothersome to you, and I wonder if it isn’t because you never learned to use them. If you had your way you’d pass a law to abolish all the little jobs, the little things. But then you’d leave yourselves nothing to do between the big jobs and you’d have a devil of a time thinking up things? Cutting grass and pulling weeds can be a way of life.”  So, I decided to make this a summer of little things: to blow lots of bubbles, to hunt for rocks, to explore new parks, to try new games, to bake more cookies, to laugh a lot, and jump on beds, and give “no”a little break. Without computer(except for talking to grandma (my mother) via skype), without cellphones, just trying our best to be present, to be mindful, to really be here and now.

But I didn’t want to leave you just like that, so I put together a teeny tiny tutorial for planning a simple, yet pretty, table setting, which could be useful if you are entertaining but do not have a huge budget. This is how I do it:


I don’t own expensive china, but I do own a set of very basic and versatile white plates and cups (from Ikea), which I can always pair with anything more colourful that I find around the house. I find that, when one doesn’t have tons of money and plenty of space for different tableware sets (I know I don’t!), white is the best choice. And one little secret: my  milk bottles are not, in fact, milk bottles. They are recycled energy drink bottles! I scout supermarkets for cute bottles and sometimes chose products based on other uses I can give to the packaging.

If your china has a pattern or a different colour, don’t panic! Just keep reading!


 Next, pick something that you really like from your home. For my birthday I chose the above-pictured  kitchen towel (which I don’t use as such because I find it too pretty!) and I used it as a place mat in the middle of the table, to add a pop of colour.  But you could use anything: a vase, a wooden toy, a pretty box, anything that you find beautiful and that matches the look that you want for your table.


Colour is the next step…or you could chose to work with whites only, and then add interest by using different textures. But if you do chose colour, remember that you don’t need to stick to a monochromatic palette using only shades of the same colour, or colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel;  you also have the option of working with contrasting colours. So, if your china has a blue pattern, you are not restricted to blues and greens, but you could also use oranges, yellows and browns and there are so many shades of each that the possibilities become endless!


Work with what you already have, and remember that pops of colour don’t need to be expensive items: a few lemons, oranges, or even tomatoes, a couple of colourful straws, a few leaves or  flowers from your garden (or the neighbour’s-ask first!), a few candles, a mason jar with some ribbon, anything can work. The banner from the picture above was taken from my daughter’s bedroom, for example, and the pretty glass cake stand? It’s not a cake stand at all, but a plate placed on top of an inverted bowl.

Finally, add food. Whatever food you like, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. As much as I like beautifying food, I am a big believer that the most important thing is for it to taste delicious.

And most importantly, relax and have fun with those you love. That’s the only thing that matters.



Have a wonderful summer (or winter!)! See you again in September!


(Spanish translation coming soon)




A special present for a very special little girl


Good morning dear friends!

Today Nicosia has blue skies again after a few weeks of clouds and rain and I feel invigorated! I don’t mind cold weather (I love it actually), and I like rain too, but I need the light of the sun and blue skies to be truly happy. Maybe that’s because skies in Cordoba, my home city, are always deep blue and, looking at blue skies makes me feel  a sense of connection with my own home.

These past weeks have been really hectic. As I mentioned before, my children, Luka and Zoe, started nursery school one month ago…and as it very often occurs, two weeks into their new schooling experience, they got a ear infection! There seems to be a really strong bug going around, because all children and even the teachers got it. The first round of antibiotics didn’t do the trick, so we had to  try with a second one, and it took them 10 days to be ready to go back to school. What was even worse was that my husband and I also got a really bad cold (we are guessing the same bug), so there was a concert of coughs going on in our house all night long. But now we are all recovered and very appreciative of our good health! We are also giving the children vitamins and probiotics to reinforce their immune system, and we are keeping our fingers crossed  that they won’t get anything new (in the short run, at least).

But today’s post is not about me, or my immediate family. It is about a very special little girl, whom I love very, very much and whom I consider my “niece of the heart”. Olivia Valentina (Oli, as we call her), is the daugther of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mariana. No, scratch that, Mariana is not really my friend, she is more like the sister I never had, a “sister of the soul”. Mariana is the person I shared dreams and hopes with since we were 16 years old, the one person that was as passionate about books and history and literature as I was, the one with whom I buried a time capsule in the backyard of our country-side home when we were 17 , the one with whom I wrote a little book that maybe one day our children will read, the person that had a penpal and liked studying, just like me. Mariana is  the magical being that showed me the meaning of true friendship and someone I have missed deeply during these 7 years that I have lived abroad. The thing with being an expat is that we are bound to miss those we love, and we carry the burden of knowing that, many times, we are not present during our loved ones special and important moments. Argentinian author Hernan Casciari uses a metaphor from football (soccer) to explain it and says that ” pain and party, tragedy, triumph are the same when you’re away. Not being able to cry with your loved ones when something horrible happens, not being able to celebrate with your people when something wonderful happens puts you immediately in offside“. He is right.

Fortunately, last year it was different. Last year, our trip to Argentina coincided with Mariana’s pregnancy and that made us both so very happy.  I could not stay until Oli was born and I have only seen her cute, adorable face through pictures, but  having had the chance to hug my friend during such a life-changing time, and to talk to Oli through the belly is something that I am deeply thankful for.

The original idea was to take advantage of this trip to organize Oli’s baby shower, so I started planning it pretty much as soon as the pregnancy was announced. But once we arrived in Argentina, we learnt that Mariana’s pregnancy was experiencing some complications and, during our second week in the country she was put on full bed rest. The baby shower no longer being a possibility, I decided to prepare Oli and her mummies a special present to celebrate her life: a “party in a box” which they could use either for a “sip and see” after Oli’s birth, or maybe even for Oli’s 1st birthday.

The “party in a box” used the same theme as the baby shower I had  originally planned: The tree of life. Mariana and I always liked ancient mythology and literature, and  used to write listening to  Loreena McKennit’s  CD The Mask and the Mirror, which contains a song called The Two Trees, based on the homonimous poem by WB Yeats, which reads as follows:

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,

The holy tree is growing there;

From joy the holy branches start,

And all the trembling flowers they bear.

The changing colours of its fruit

Have dowered the stars with merry light;

The surety of its hidden root

Has planted quiet in the night;

The shaking of its leafy head

Has given the waves their melody,

And made my lips and music wed,

Murmuring a wizard song for thee.

There the Loves a circle go,

The flaming circle of our days,

Gyring, spiring to and fro

In those great ignorant leafy ways;

Remembering all that shaken hair

And how the wingèd sandals dart,

Thine eyes grow full of tender care:

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.”

When I listened to this song, I also remembered the myth of Yggdrasil, and how the idea of a Tree of life is shared by different mythologies and the baby shower’s theme was born. I contacted my dear Laura ( from Delicious Tea) and commissioned her to design the party printables, and she did the most beautiful work I could have imagined. Laura designed a lovely, blooming tree, with leaves in different colours to represent the diverse ways in which Oli is loved, and this tree was included  in all items. She also designed a banner with the baby’s name, which instead of the traditional triangular shape uses leaves in the same colour palette as Oli’s tree of life.







The tree above was made from a branch of a tree from my mother’s garden, so that it would grow together with Oli, accompanying her. The little tag cards are for guests to leave  good wishes for Oli’s life and to hang them on Oli’s wishing tree, so that she would be able to know, when growing up, that she is, and has always been, deeply loved.

The box also included some decorations, such as two little wooden trees and a rose paper pompom, as well as some of the items necessary for a dessert table, with food labels that played with the party’s theme.





The sweets and sugar decorations included “Flowers of Joy” (sugar flowers to decorate cupcakes with), with their corresponding cupcake cases…

IMG_4140 IMG_4148


…”Enchanted dew” (little meringue cookies)…


…”Prosperity leaves” (bamboo skewers, to insert chopped fruits in)


… “Love seeds” (chocolate coated almonds)…


“Branches of Life” (Branch chocolate)


…as well as all of my favourite recipes in a little hand-written notebook, that could serve as Oli’s first.





It also included drink tags for different kinds of Lemonade, with coordinating twine,  as well as personalized paper cups with matching paper straws, paper plates and bamboo spoons…








The box also had the tags for souvenirs, but not the souvenirs themselves  (mixed flower seeds, to celebrate life by giving back life to the Earth)  because I didn’t know when the party was going to take place.


I also  punched lots and lots of  flowers in different shades of green and pink , which could be used to craft garlands, piñatas or other decorations.


As a special present, we created a series of postcards for guests to write love notes for Oli. These postcards, when put together, formed a A3 sized poster (which could be hanged in the baby’s bedroom) with the inscription: ” Your existence makes us very happy”.


Finally, I added three bibs, just because one can never have enough of them with a young baby!


I placed all items in a box, and travelled with it, the tree and the pompom to my friend’s house, to deliver the party and have a quiet afternoon of mate and long talks, like in the old times.

 Queridas Mariana, Pao y Oli: las quiero con el alma! Que esta nueva vida juntas, que recien empieza, las llene de felicidad hoy y todos los días de su vida.


Have a lovely weekend, dear friends!

















Hearts and cookies: a Valentine’s day tutorial for Catch my Party!

Chocolate cookie heart wreath

Good afternoon dear friends! How are you today?

These past weeks I have been absent from the blog, and I apologize for that. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had been preparing two surprises for you. The first one, was the dessert table for Chinese New Year, and here is the second one: A tutorial for making the chocolate cookie heart wreath pictured above, which I designed for Catch my Party!

When my Christmas breakfast table was featured as Catch my Party’s Party of the Day, Jillian mentioned that she was going to pin the holly wreath to make it next year and I offered to prepare a tutorial for her. She loved the idea and suggested, instead, a cookie wreath for Valentine’s day! So  I set myself to work!

If you would like to know how to do this, including how to decorate each type of cookie, hop over to Catch my Party!

I will show you how to decorate tons of cookies…

image01 hearts and milk to put together a wreath like this one:

Chocolate cookie heart wreath

or like this other one…

image 11 another option

…how to draw hearts with royal icing…



…how to outline with sprinkles…


…and how to outline with sanding sugar.


And if you have remaining cookies after assembling the wreath, you can enjoy them with milk…

image0 Table setting

Or even prepare cute Valentine’s day presents for your loved ones!

Another gift option, with remaining cookies

I have also included templates of the cookies I used, so go to Catch my Party now and happy baking!

Happy Year of the Dragon! Gung Hay Fat Choy!


Good morning dear friends! Happy Year of the Dragon!

As those of you who follow me on facebook may know, these past weeks I have been really busy, firstly, with my children’s start of nursery school, and secondly with two surprises for this blog. This is the first one, a dessert table for Chinese/Lunar New Year! I hope you like it!

The first time I learnt about Chinese New Year was 24 years ago, in another Year of the Dragon, 1988. A friend of my mother had lent her a book on Chinese Astrology by a very famous Argentinian artist and astrologer called Ludovica Squirru, and I started reading it out of curiosity and because I have always been fascinated with Asian cultures. There I discovered, to my delight, that I had been born myself  in the year of the dragon and, loving mythology and fairy tales as I do, I was hooked. For many years I wondered what kind of rituals were involved in a proper celebration but it wasn’t until fairly recently, and thanks to the internet, that I could put together a real Chinese New Year celebration. If you are curious about some of the rituals involved, here is a great article by Mini Manor Blog about them.

So, this year, we have been thoroughly cleaning the house, getting rid of the old to make space for the new and, in general, reflecting on what we want to leave behind and what we hope for the new year to bring. I always reach occidental New Year in such a rush that I don’t manage to do all this by January 1st, so celebrating Chinese New Year feels like a second chance.

We did a lot of research on what was considered good luck, and my dear friend Laura, from amazing design company Delicious Tea designed this fabulous set of FREE printables, which are available on her facebook page, to welcome the year of the Dragon.  I printed them on cardboard paper and, using some remains of red ribbon and red cardboard paper that I had left from Christmas, I assembled the decorations. Here is the backdrop I prepared (I used a frame I already had, and I glued the ribbons to the wall with double-sided tape)


And then there were of course, the sweets, which were a combination of store-bought and home-made.


IMG_0209 IMG_0208

I baked a red velvet cake, frosted it with home-made swiss meringue buttercream, and carved it into the shapes of a dragon guarding its treasure cave. Everything in the cake is edible, even the coins and the wings, which were made with fondant and painted with Gold Dust.


The cake stand was propped by the I-ching and, in front of it, I placed two Chinese balls with a Dragon and a Phoenix. In order to prevent them from moving, I placed them on top of votive candle holders that I got from Ikea.


I tried to keep the colour palette simple, and I made sure that all sweets were red (happiness) and gold (wealth), to give some vibrance to the black of the furniture and plates (which we brought from our years in Africa!). Sweets included chocolate truffles wrapped in gold paper (Ferrero Rocher), which we called “Chocolates of abundant wealth”…


and dark chocolate truffles wrapped in bright red paper…




We also included candied oranges and pineapples, both considered auspicious food for the New Year.


Aren’t these printable food labels a real beauty? I carved the head of the dragon with a craft knife for it to pop and, I must say, I am in love with them. Laura is such a talented designer!


I also dressed a bit some chocolate covered oreos, by drawing a dragon in red royal icing (I tried to imitate Laura’s food labels)




We also included red envelopes, filled with chocolate coins for the kids and with real money for the adults. I attached the FU symbol from Laura’s printables  to them, because it means wealth.


We also served candies (for joy and laughter) and,  of course,  fortune cookies…or  “Good Fortune Cookies”, as we calledthem 😉


All sweets were present in 6 or 9, both auspicious numbers.

We kept the table setting very simple, with bowls full of oranges and tangerines (symbolizing a wish for happiness and abundance) and a Happy New Year sign by Delicious Tea, a couple of glittered golden votive candles, bamboo place mats and a “fortune cookie place card”made with a golden cupcake wrapper.


Our dinner consisted of spring rolls, grilled fish with tangerines, served on top of lettuce leaves, rice, a brocoli and pine nuts salad,  and an assortment of nuts, seeds and coconut flakes. You can read more about Chinese New Year good luck foods HERE.


On our doors and windows (from the outside) we placed this banner that reads “Wealth is coming to you”


And on the inside, this one that reads “Safe Trip wherever you go”, to greet the old year goodbye.



May you have a prosperous, healthy and happy Year of the Dragon!

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