at last, the party …

… and oh what fun we had!  The day bloomed bright and hot and as I stumbled sleepily into the early morning kitchen,  needing to bake and ice the birthday biscuits, the beauty of the world outside my window filled me with such anticipation.  I LOVE birthday parties :-)

By the alloted time,  a friendly fellow stood by the porch, waiting to greet the guests … why it’s Turnip Head! Gigglingly crafted by Abby, Emma and finally, because of his extra whacking of the stake into the ground skills – Julian.

Then it was off to the back garden …

… where the early arrivals garnered the shady spots, the birthday girl (trickily disguised as Totoro) finally took her place upon her birthday “throne” …

and even the iced biscuits sweated on a hot, hot, hot afternoon …

Wonderful, silly party games were enjoyed by all … there was “goldfish” catching – a traditional Japanese game in which we substituted grape tomatoes for the goldfish and chopsticks for the nets …

Another Japanese favourite was accompanied by hoots of laughter and shrieks of horror … blindfolded watermelon bashing …

the end result of which was thoroughly enjoyed by both the fluffy and the feathery …

Then, as the heat intensified (serious Melbourne heat folks with that scorching, dry, wilting wind tumbling in from the north west) these gorgeous girlies settled on the picnic quilts under the oak for the less rambunctious games – guess that quotation (all from Studio Ghibli films) and celebrity heads (ditto!)

After prizes were won and eaten before they too could melt, the girls headed back to the table for sushi …

… and finally, admitting defeat, into the relative cool of the house.  Origami was folded, the birthday cake was lit sang to and gobbled up,  studio ghibli films were watched, eight girls and two excited doggles slept on the floor of the family room – chattering and laughing well into the wee hours of the morning.

I stood in the kitchen, their merriment filling my heart,  No-Face and the spirit statues observing me quietly from the garden …

Oh  I was hot and weary but there was a second, icy cold beer in my hand, my husband and mother by my side, and nine very happy teenagers in my home.  The birthday party that took so long in coming had been very very well worth the wait.

the day before

:: an exquisite summer’s day … cerulean blue sky, the prettiest light that fills me with happiness and gratitude that I am right here, right now … driving around collecting last minute supplies and frozen cokes whilst John Mayer & Walt Grace remind me of summer afternoons on Nanny and Grandad’s porch listening to the Eagles on their old record player

:: Mum, Abby, Emma and me … pottering with purpose … armchair almost-finishing, cake baking, statue painting, toffee apple dipping, christmas tree decorating, plate finishing, spirit house lighting, gold fish party game making, turnip head scarecrow dressing,  … such summer birthday goodness

:: heading to bed now … dreaming of tomorrow … we are so excited … oh it will be such fun … I do so love a good birthday party

scenes from a birthday weekend

:: Saturday dawned early – there were last minute birthday gifts to paint (which then had their finishing touches embroidered on at 2am the following morning/night!) – good thing teenagers sleep late.

:: doors were re-hung by she who is the most adept at wielding the screwdriver, glass was polished and polished and polished and polished until we gave up and bought Windex (oh my, this sure does work!) and Lotte was given a moving time bath and carefully stacked in her new home.

:: a very late birthday present (only found on Friday afternoon, side up on the nature strip of Dandenong Road – 4 lanes of traffic either way) was discovered, claimed by the daughter as the perfect addition for under the window in her new room, stripped, and DRIED after it was inadvertently left in a freak shower of rain (whilst I drove the daughter and friends to the movies – oh how I cursed every rain drop and every car on the way home to my drenched chair).

:: the loveliest of birthday breakfasts – cloth wrapped, home made presents, hydrangeas from the garden, the birthday wreath reminding me that fifteen years have passed since that first love filled birthday morning, poffertjes with melted butter and icing sugar … and Julian, straight off the plane and into the candlelit kitchen just in time.

:: whilst the papa-daughter team raced Mario Karts, the birthday dinner was prepared to the accompaniment of button making, button pulling and general upholstery – what everyone’s kitchen looks like on a birthday afternoon.

:: and now, the day after the birthday, the daughter is at school, the husband is at work, the dog is at my feet, and I am left to bang the last pieces into place (don’t you love my high-tech upholstery gadgets – a wee antique silver salt spoon used to locate the screw holes for the arms) before getting stuck into teachers’ gifts (patchwork for the most-loved and peppermint bark for the little-bit-loved) and party decorations.

Sooooo looking forward to Christmas preparations – they will be so relaxing after all of this :-)

a bit of miyazaki-inspired craftiness

That would be Mr. Hayao Miyazaki – the Boot family’s absolutely favourite maker of films – My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, just to name a few.  He creates films of such beauty and truth – encouraging his audiences to care for the people around them – no matter who they are or how they appear because no one is ever a simple caricature of good or evil, but a complex being who longs to be loved and accepted. Stories that remind us to shun violence no matter how glorious and exciting it may seem – the cost is always too high.  The constant reminder to nourish our environment because without it we have nothing.  And my favourite feature – strong, independent, resilient and creative heroines.  Oh they may, at first glance, seem like simple children’s animations, but Mr. Miyazaki offers us such a refreshing and enriching view of life.  If you haven’t seen any, you simply must rush out and find one to watch – you’ll be delighted.

So I couldn’t be more thrilled that Abby chose a Studio Ghibli (Mr. Miyazaki’s studio) themed party to celebrate her 15th birthday next week. Oh my, I do so love birthday parties – deliberating upon the theme, planning the games, making the decorations, preparing the food.  It’s such a wonderful opportunity to bring the whole family together in a joy filled creative burst that we can then share with our favourite people!  And I’m ever so pleased that my girl and her friends still think a themed birthday party, choreographed the old fashioned way by the mama and papa, is the most fun way to celebrate.

This afternoon, after school for Abby and a day of travelling ’round collecting supplies for me, we settled at the kitchen table and made the table accessories for the party – Totoro plates and Howl’s Moving Castle drink bottles.  Abby drew the Totoros, I cut them out and we glued them onto the back of simple glass plates from Ikea.  I used an Australian glue that promises it will stick the most difficult surfaces and after curing will provide a water proof coating. It’s terrifically thick – I started off using a foam brush, but as Mr. Jobs declared, our fingers are the most useful tool we have, and this proved to be so with this gooey glue.

Eeeeee!  Such fun!  Tomorrow we have large sheets of ply and the jigsaw at the ready – spirit statues (as seen in Spirited Away) for the garden :-)  Oh yes!