Amelia Rose was christened last weekend in Mittagong and we had an intimate gathering of family, Godparents and friends at my parents' farm in the Highlands. As usual the preparations were a little frantic and last minute, although this occasion more so than usual, given we had just had Christmas, a beach holiday, Tom's mum and sister staying from the UK and three kids at home on holidays. So my usual preparations, thought and attention to detail I'm afraid was rather lacking this time - third child syndrome perhaps!
I didn't really put any thought into dessert table styling or decorations (wish I had Sharnel or Leanne on hand to fix that!) until I rolled up to Lincraft in Mittagong on Saturday afternoon, chucked some fabric, ribbons and packets of Christina Re invitation paper in a basket (pickings are rather slim in country towns), then filled a trolley full of glass jars, cheap champagne glasses, plastic plates et al from The Reject Shop and hurried home.
By that time it was well past the deadline for going to much trouble and I just managed to chuck a few things together. Not my usual standard, but it was still pretty and more importantly everybody had a wonderful time and the kids most of all! Thankfully the piece de resistance of the day was the beautiful cake, made by my dear friend Esther. More on that later...
|My parents' gorgeous kitchen with roses from Mum's rose garden|
Luckily I had lots of hands on deck to help including my parents and my sister and mother in law visiting from the UK for the occasion. Even just having somebody to hold Amelia and amuse the kids was a huge help, while I stuffed lolly bags and tore open countless bags of sugary junk. All the jars, compotes and bowls were $2 each at the Reject Shop. Honestly, I don't know how they can even make them for that price, let alone sell them!
These lolly bags were all I could find in Bowral, but I did my best to make them pretty. All lined up on my Mum's gorgeous console anything would look good!
The cookies, again made by Esther, had to be kept in plastic bags to keep them safe from sneaky little hands. I have to admit to a slight weakness for Kool Fruits. Takes me back to my childhood. So sickly sweet, but so good. You can almost feel the holes developing in your teeth as you eat them.
Charlie was official photographer on the day of preparations, taking photos of all the family. This is his pic of me and Poppy, who was helping me with the die cutter making little flowers. I always get a little agitated when kids ask me if they can help, when you are doing something quite important and in a rush, so I have to exercise great self control and say "Of course you can help, that would be GREAT!" when what I really want to say is "Are you kidding? You'll muck it all up and make a huge mess and it'll take twice as long as it should!"
Aggies from Mum's garden, invitation papers, rolls of ribbons etc and a plate of cookies disappearing by the minute. From my days as a wedding planner, then a stylist and crafter for magazines, I have crates of ribbons, one of my obsessions.
Poppy was rather physical and over enthusiastic when it came to doing the punching. The thing got quite a bashing.
On the way to the church. I laid Amelia's christening dress on my lap so that it wouldn't get crushed. It's made of the most fine and delicate lawn, which crushes easily. So I didn't want her looking like a crumpled mess before we even got in the church. Nothing like a quick strip in the carpark to keep things looking fresh!
It was cold so I had to do a quick dash around Bowral in the morning to find white tights, a singlet and cardigan to keep her warm, as the day before it was nearly 40 degrees! Typical Southern Highlands weather. Summer one day, depths of winter the next!
The dress isn't strictly a christening gown, in fact it's quite plain and very simple but it's a sentimental favourite and perfect for the occasion because it has such meaning. It was made by my grandmother for me, when I was a baby, and all my children have worn it at their christenings which luckily have been held in summer. The delicacy and intricacy of the cutwork embroidery is just exquisite.
Trying to get all the kids to look in the same direction and smile simultaneously is an almost impossible task. Particularly when there are five cameras pointed at you!
One of Amelia's Godparents, my dear friend Kirstie, accepting her certificate of baptism showing her as an official Godparent.
The children were fascinated by the concept of her having her head wet in a church. Amelia has never made a fuss about being held by anybody, strangers or not. She is the most amenable, easy going, relaxed, darling baby, just such a dream.
Amelia was determined to throw a spanner in the works and made every attempt to thwart proceedings by eating the order of service. See the detail on the sleeve and hem of the dress. So pretty.
Do I look like a proud mother? Bursting at the seams? That's how I felt that day. So proud, and honoured and delighted and thrilled to be the mother of three such gorgeous little people and to be surrounded by such love.
Godparents taking the vow. Amelia's Godparents are my nephew James, 12, my sister in law Heli (who came out from England for five days for the event, leaving behind her 4 kids!), and my dear friend Kirstie.
Amelia was again determined to eat her baptism certificate, which Charlie found most amusing. Nothing like flashing your knickers at your own service.
My nephew James couldn't be more thrilled than to be her Godfather. He takes his role very seriously indeed.
Godparents all - Heli, James and Kirstie.
Tom and his Mum, Wendy (with Charlie trying to eat her dress or something)
Parents and Godparents.
How good looking are my Mum and Dad?
Parents with the minister John Livingstone, who has directed all the significant occasions in our family over the past 15 years from the wedding of my sister, to the funeral of my grandfather, the christenings of all our children and our wedding too. I'm not a very religious person and to be honest don't really go to church, but I do have Christian beliefs and ethics, and it has been a blessing having the continuity of community and spiritual leadership provided by John through the years, that has meant something very important to our family.
And so back to the farm, for a light lunch and the beautiful christening goodies.
You may remember I did a post some time ago here about my dear friend Esther who had just started making cakes for special occasions and asked me to be a pretend client and order a wedding cake. You can see what she created in the post. Esther is the most amazing creator of exquisite sugar flowers as well as an extraordinary baker. We met at Mothers' Group some 6 years ago with our first babies, and she has unearthed this amazing talent for creating the most delectable and gorgeous cakes, cookies and cupcakes. Anything you want, she can do. Her business is called Sugary Goodness.
I asked for a hydrangea theme in pink and white, and this is what she came up with. Just stunning. All the sugar flowers made by hand, each one.
And each flower bloom, petal and bud hand painted, shaped and wired.
They look like they are made of fine bone china not sugar!
I couldn't stop taking photos with my fancy camera.
Seriously, can you believe Esther has been a computer programmer for the past 6+ years and only been doing this craft for a matter of months! She's Planet Cake in the making - although much nicer!
These are Esther's cupcakes which are vanilla with white chocolate icing. Now I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I can tell you these are some seriously delicious cupcakes!
It was almost unbearable eating them and feeding them to hungry children with no appreciation of the time, skill or effort gone into making them! I felt like I should have put the cake and a cupcake in a glass box and put in on display in the town square for all to see and admire.
So moving on, I made the lolly bags. Just used a die cutter to cut out the shape and attach with ribbon.
Esther again made the most delicious and prettiest cookies I have seen. Each one just perfection and so sweet, delicate and pretty. And they tasted great too! My kids ate about a dozen each.
Some in the shape of a hydrangea flower, some a rocking horse, some "A" for Amelia, and others dear little toadstools. How anybody makes these things by hand just staggers me, who is completely inept when it comes to baking or making anything like this. So I am in awe.
We had so many, that I packaged them up in cellophane bags with pretty paper and ribbon for the kids to take home along with lolly bags. It was the sugar overload of all time! Glad I wasn't in the car on the drive home to Sydney! How cute is that quilted paper!
Found these cute lollipops at one of those pop up candy shops at Manly Wharf after Yum Cha one weekend. Random find but quite cute. They were a hit.
Mum's hydrangeas thankfully survived the hot weather long enough to be the centrepiece on the day. My all time favourite flower - I love it in all its colours and combinations.
I managed to find as many pink lollies as I could. I can't bear buying lollies by the ten kilos, which I know you need to do to make it look really impressive and professional a la dessert table styling, but I just can't bring myself to buy that much confectionary! Those gorgeous pink and white bowls are $2 at the Reject Shop - ridiculous!
Another great find at the Reject Shop in Mittagong - these plastic glasses but with silver rims. Just takes the whole plastic theme up a notch!
How divine is my daughter? I am so in love with her, and it has been such a blessing having her. I am enjoying her as a more relaxed and chilled out mother, and I think that is reflected in her nature. She's a joy.
Don't mind the drop of drool hanging off her chin. That's a daily occurrence for her. She is an Olympic class dribbler. Goes through about ten bibs a day and several outfits. Amazes me she's not dehydrated on a daily basis.
This is what's left of the heavenly cake. We ate the chocolate layer on the bottom, and the vanilla cake on the top will be frozen to hopefully survive in the freezer for 6 months until she turns one. Honestly, if I could put it on display in my house I would! It's a work of art. Thank you Esther.
A day at the farm wouldnt' be complete without a ride on the buggy. My parents bought this golf buggy about 12 years ago, and I swear it's the best money they ever spent. It has amused and entertained 6 grandchildren and countless others for many hours and it is the one thing we couldn't do without! When they sell the farm, we will beg them to keep this. Charlie at 6 now drives it by himself.
My gorgeous nephew James recorded this beautiful storybook for Amelia, read by himself. Such a special and cherished present. He is so proud.
The two proud grandmothers. My Mum on the left, and Tom's mum on the right, who came out from the UK for the occasion.
This is my grandmother Hopie, who made the dress Amelia wore. She is going on 90, hard to believe.
The table was devoured by the kids.
|All images by Melinda Hartwright|
Me and two of my besties, Kirstie and Alex. What would life without your best girlfriends!
If you'd like to contact Esther about cakes, cookies and cupcakes go here or to her Facebook page here.