Since first birthdays are more for the parents than for the kiddos, I thought a lot about what I wanted this birthday to mean. Because it is celebrating more than just her first year — it is celebrating our first year. Our first year as parents, our first year as a family. And that is something pretty amazing.
I knew right off the bat that I wanted some pictures to mark the occasion, and I had a whole list of ideas that one-by-one got crossed off. Inspired by some lovely photos I found of birthday parties in fields, I envisioned Nellie surrounded by long grasses with colorful balloons. But then I realized it wasn’t us — it wasn’t quite right. And I knew, then, that she was going to have her birthday pictures at the beach on the edge of the Bay.
But before I could take those, I needed the props to go with them.
There’s a story behind the blue chair. Even before I had decided on the beach, I knew I wanted a bright high chair for her cake (since there was zero chance she would sit down and smash a cake if she weren’t contained in a high chair), and I knew it had to be a Jenny Lind — just like her crib and her cradle. The problem is that they don’t make Jenny Lind high chairs anymore, and they’ve become a bit of a vintage score item. They’re not easy to find, and the folks who know what they have are trying to sell them for more than I wanted to pay — especially for something I was going to strip down and refinish.
I looked for the high chair for about a month or so online before I found it. In Brooklyn. And it was free. I love Brooklyn. A few texts later and Aunt K was on her way to pick up a busted old high chair. I think her text back to me that evening was something like, “Um, I guess it’s cute?” It was busted, faded, and missing a screw.
I was in love.
After a lot of sanding and a lot of blue, the fabulous photo high chair was ready. And it’s as awesome as I hoped. In fact, after Nellie’s photo shoot last week, I moved our old high chair to the garage, and pulled this one to the table. It might just be our everyday chair — you can’t help but smile when you see it.
The cakes, of course, were the easiest props. I called Sweet Sues, who made our wedding cake (and all our anniversary cakes) and had them make the same cake that we had at our wedding — white cake, fresh strawberries, white icing, and seashells. Nellie still doesn’t really get what to do with a smash cake. Mostly she tries the frosting and decides the whole thing is silly. She does like the candy shells that Sue puts on top of the cakes, however, as you can see from these pictures here.
With our picture props ready to go, I turned my attention to the one other thing I really wanted for her birthday: one special item that could be pulled out each year — a tradition, a memento, and something that could be all hers. I finally settled on the idea of having her own little cake stand, and after a lot of looking and a lot of examples that weren’t quite right, I found the perfect stand that was exactly what I had in mind. I purchased it off Etsy from an artist in Atlanta. Check out Jeanette Zeis Ceramics — I promise, you will love everything you see.
Working off the notes I sent her, she produced Nellie’s mini cake stand — perfect for a little six inch cake. One side says Nell, and the other has her birthday. And it’s perfect. It’s absolutely perfect, and I am so excited to have this personal cake stand to bring out each year for Nellie’s birthday cake.
As you can see from the pictures, she found it pretty terrific also.
With props in place (plus a handful of pink balloons I got at the grocery store that made me giggle the entire way through the store), we were ready for our pictures, plus we had Nellie’s something special — her birthday tradition treasure. The only thing left to do? Celebrate and eat cake!
We’re not throwing an actual party for Nellie this year, but we are having some celebrations. Tomorrow Nellie is bringing two dozen mini cupcakes from Hello Cupcake! (in vanilla and pink strawberry) to daycare to share with her friends and her teachers. And she’s probably wearing her cupcake tutu dress. Who wears play clothes on their birthday?
And on Saturday, the uncles, Great Grandma Nell, and Aunt K are coming down for our family party. I’m making lots of Nell’s favorites, and of course there will be cake. Two mini cakes in two new flavors. And you better believe we’re sticking one on the stand.