A Bridal Tea Party for Yunah

Throwing a party in Grenada is almost as hard as throwing a party in Beijing. No Michael’s, no Paper Source, no Etsy, no boutique party decor stores. Not even a Wal-Mart. We’re lucky when we go to the grocery store and the milk and butter are in stock. :)

That being said, I was determined to pull off a beautiful bridal shower for my friend Yunah, even if it meant making everything from scratch! Luckily, we were able to find a few things that we could work with like tissue paper, coffee filters, recycled bottles and jars, and jute twine. I also had an awesome team of crafters and bakers who helped me do everything from crocheting doilies to fluffing pom-poms to making scrumptious treats like Chinese egg tarts, biscotti, and bubble tea!

We held the bridal tea party at the Grand Anse Beach Pavilion, which is located right next to the beautiful Grand Anse Beach. The pavilion had a breathtaking view of the ocean, a cool breeze, and beautiful lighting.

Mocha cake pops and tea favors

The beautiful bride-to-be

An assortment of pom-poms made from tissue paper and dyed coffee filters hung over the table.

Check out that view!

 Party games

Yunah chooses the winner

 Toilet paper creations

 My awesome team of crafters + bakers with the bride-to-be.

 

Photos by the talented Kat Fung.


 

This is Beijing: 798 Arts District

The 798 Arts District is a thriving arts community in Beijing that is home to several art galleries, artist studios, design firms, and trendy restaurants and bars. Its name comes from the factory 798, an abandoned electronics factory that has since been converted to an art space and now has become the most recognizable icon of the 798 Arts District. The community is compared to art districts like SoHo or Greenwich Village, but since it is quite new (started in 2002), it doesn’t have quite the depth or variety of art/artists found in those places.

Overall, 798 felt a bit touristy to me. There is an art school there and several modern art galleries, but I think perhaps a bit more time is needed for the art community to develop and establish its character. It had a nice offering of artsy boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, so it’s a great place to spend an afternoon. I’m excited to see, though, how it transforms in another ten years.

Have you visited 798 before? What did you think of it?

Baby E appreciates modern art.

I like to call this one, “The Burden of Westernization.” :P

 

RENT – Seasons of Love Lyrics Poster

This has got to be one of my favorite projects ever. That it was for my dear, dear friend Esther only underscores how much I enjoyed designing it. :)

“Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent is one of Esther’s favorite songs and one that I know holds a lot of meaning for her. I remember Esther mentioned to me before how fun it would be if people scattered in the audience at her wedding would jump up and sing different parts of the song during the recessional (à la Love Actually!). It didn’t end up happening exactly like that, but it was included as part of their wedding. :)

So when her sweet husband Ben decided to surprise her for their anniversary with a poster of the lyrics, he thought it would be a fun way to incorporate words and phrases that jumped out instead. We brainstormed together how to bring through the heart and meaning of the song without necessarily writing out the entire thing.  In the end, we came up with an infographic-style poster with colored icons and words for emphasis.

I also ended up creating somewhat of a “logo” for the song’s title and tagline, “Seasons of Love: Measure your life in love.” I used an image of a scale that was a play off of the idea of measuring love, showing that love outweighs all other things.

After the poster was completed, Ben thought it would be lovely to gift Esther with mini posters, in the form of bookmarks and greeting cards. I think they’re perfect for sharing messages of love. :)

*EDIT: Due to popular demand, the poster is now available for purchase in my Etsy shop! Click here for details.

 

This is Beijing: Summer Palace

We spent a weekend afternoon exploring the grounds of the Summer Palace, enjoying the breathtaking scenery and getting a little bit of exercise hiking up the multitude of hills and stairs along the way.

I was fascinated to learn that the Summer Palace was home to the Empress Dowager Cixi, a figure that I remember from my mother’s stories as one of the most powerful and ruthless rulers in China’s history. It turns out that after a series of restorations to the Palace, the Dowager Cixi eventually smuggled money from the royal navy fund to reconstruct the Summer Palace into a resort for herself and the royal family.

In 1924, it opened to the public and can now be enjoyed (for a small fee) by locals and tourists. In fact, I even saw some local boys sporting nerf guns into the gardens…I’d say that’d make a pretty epic battleground. Capture the flag, anyone?


This is the Long Corridor, apparently the longest painted corridor in the world (how many painted corridors do you know of?). It’s said to contain 14,000 different paintings that feature illustrations from Chinese literature, history, and folk tales.

The Marble Boat

 

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

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