This is Grenada: Grand Anse Spice & Craft Market

1Crystal-clear water, long stretches of fine, white sand, easy access, and tons of shade-offering trees make Grand Anse Beach a favorite for locals and tourists alike. It’s also the perfect spot for a spice & craft market, and you’ll often find vendors walking the beach selling their handmade jewelry and “spice necklaces.” My friends and I spent the afternoon wandering through the open stalls, sniffing spices, chatting with local artists, and admiring all the handmade crafts and jewelry that the market had to offer.

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This is a turtle shell/skin(underbelly?) that can be cut, smoothed, and shaped into a beautiful bracelet. Some of the other bracelets are made of coral or calabash shells.

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Hand-carved and painted animals – perfect for a nursery!

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Weathered hands work skillfully on a piece of jewelry.

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A little bling-bling.

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Photo on right by Kat Fung.

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This is Beijing: The Great Wall

What’s a trip to Beijing without a visit to the Great Wall of China? The Wall is only about an hour drive out, so it makes for a great day trip and nice respite from the bustle and congestion of the city. And even just a short distance out, you can feel the drastic improvement in air quality — you can actually see blue skies!

Since we brought baby E with us, we decided we’d ride the lift up instead of doing the hike by foot (we probably wouldn’t have hiked up without the baby either :P). I’d actually recommend the lift though, since it gives you breathtaking views of the mountainsides, and I think your energy is better spent actually hiking on the wall than up to it! I had heard about a section of the wall where you can actually toboggan down a metal chute instead of taking a lift or hiking down, but I was bummed to find that it would take us an hour to walk there. Next time. :)

 

This is Beijing: Hutongs

Visiting the hutongs was one of my favorite parts of my Beijing trip. The hutongs are narrow alleys found in between the traditional, siheyuan compounds that consist of houses around a central courtyard. The hutongs link all of these compounds and courtyards together, forming a wonderfully charming maze of winding lanes and alleys. Many Chinese people still live in these neighborhoods today, and the word hutong now refers to these historic neighborhoods.

Many of the hutongs have been designated by the government as historic landmarks, making them hot spots for tourists. If you stay on the main roads, you’ll find boutiques and small shops filled with cute trinkets, silk scarves, fun souvenirs, and small eats. If you take a peek into the alleyways though, you’ll get a true glimpse into the life of the hutong dwellers.

 

Elijah’s Red Balloon Birthday Party

A Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

I was so lucky to be able to celebrate my nephew Elijah’s first birthday with him this past weekend in his new Beijing home. My sister is a major francophile – she lived there for a year, fell in love with her husband there, and just returned there for the first time this past spring with Elijah! How appropriate it is that the inspiration for Elijah’s first birthday party came from the classic French film, The Red Balloon.

The Red Balloon is a charming film about a little boy in Paris who befriends a red balloon. Together, he and the balloon wander through the neighborhoods of Paris, making new friends and getting into trouble.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The concept for the party began with the invitations, which features a red balloon and string floating around Paris, outlining the city as it floats across. I thought it would be so fun to run with this string idea and turn it into a 2D/3D effect by “drawing” on the walls with black tape to create our own little Paris in Beijing. I added a little cafe, complete with table, chairs, and a lamppost. :)

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Can’t have a French party without berets!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

My sister handled most of the food preparations and cooked up some scrumptious French foods for our birthday brunch, including quiche lorraine, croque monsieurs, French toast, and an onion tart. Read more about the food details and recipes here.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Our drink bar featured Vietnamese coffee and a DIY mimosa station.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Since we didn’t have a red egg party for Elijah when he turned one month, we thought it would be meaningful to have them for his one year birthday.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Sour cream chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Elijah approves!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

A Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

C’est magnifique!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Nice to meet you!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

A teddy bears’ picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower.

A Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Say cheese!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

And I’ll leave you with this awesome pic of Elijah. I can just hear him saying, “Oui, oui, oui, hon, hon, hon.” What a ham!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Big One: Elijah’s Red Balloon Birthday Invitation

Somebody’s favorite nephew is turning one! For Elijah’s first birthday, my sister thought it would be fun to have a Red Balloon-themed birthday party in honor of the popular children’s movie/book and to pay tribute to Elijah’s recent trip to Paris. He’s quite the little globetrotter, that little Smush (my favorite nickname for him!).

For the invitations, I decided to use the string of the balloon as loose inspiration for the overall look of the card. The string “floats” around Paris, outlining several major monuments (a la Harold and the Purple Crayon) and finally floating to their new home in Beijing.

Edit: Here’s how the party turned out!

 

 

Edit: Click here to see pictures and details from the party!

This is Beijing – Panjiayuan Market

Panjiayuan is an antique-lover’s paradise. It’s one of the largest and most popular antique markets in China, and you’ll find all sorts of Chinese antiques/vintage wares, furniture, and arts & crafts. It boasts over three thousand individual stalls with a wide variety of items ranging from vintage toys to telescopes to terra cotta statues. There’s some pretty kitschy stuff, like the Mao action figures and also a lot of really lovely pieces too. I loved walking around getting a glimpse of what each stall owner had collected over lifetime. Some of them were so well-curated, I wanted to buy the whole stall! I didn’t pick up any souvenirs this time, but will be sure to go back before I leave Beijing.

It can get quite hot in Beijing during the summer months, so you’ll often find Chinese men walking around with their shirts rolled up halfway. I was rather disturbed and annoyed how often they showed up in my photos. :P

These are walnuts. The Chinese extract the seeds, wash and polish them, then carve them into beautiful works of art.

Ancient Chinese money. I think they’d make fabulous necklace pendants.

Beautiful vintage suitcases.

Toys!

Little E came along for the ride. He’s got four teeth sprouting already. :)

If you’re ever in Beijing, be sure to check out Panjiayuan Market!

Panjiayuan Market
No.18 Huaweili, Panjiayuan Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

Jia + Andrew’s Wedding Invitations

You may remember Jia and Andrew from the Shang Chen Photo Giveaway a year or so ago. They won a design credit from Lavender’s Blue, which they used toward a custom wedding invitation design. Jia loves green and all things green – plants, flowers, tree, and grass – and so she wanted to incorporate those elements into the design, while keeping it simple and charming. Jia mentioned that she really loved the invitation suite that I did for Esther + Ben, so I channeled a bit of that aesthetic into these invitations as well. It resulted in this fun, folksy wedding suite, complete with little mushrooms, acorns, and plenty of grass and flowers!

the complete invitation suite

close-up of tree + monogram

details

rsvp card

Chinese version of invitation

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