Somehow it seems time has gone and played its tricks again, and our precious baby girl is no longer a baby at all.  Suddenly, she’s a big girl.  A big two year old(!) with a very big personality.  It took some time for me to settle on a fitting theme for her party, but eventually I tried to just think about what she likes best.  Of course as a two year old, she doesn’t have a great many favorite things yet but undoubtedly one of her absolute favorite things to do is to read.  Mostly to have us read to her, but sometimes to sit with books we have read so many times she knows them by heart, and then she “reads” them to herself.  She has a hilarious habit of backing up to any grown up’s lap with book in hand whether you’re ready or not.  But depending on your posture, it’s not always a lap she lands on.  We’ve both had our heads sat on on multiple occasions while lying on the playroom floor followed by, “I read book!”  So, I went with the idea of story time plus her favorite color purple, and came up with this simple celebration for our sweet girl.  (By the way, the photo above is completely unstaged – she just really likes berries.)

The invitations (by TomKat Studio) were precious, and I popped them into envelopes that I lined with old book pages to introduce the book theme.  The envelopes are from Paper Source (color is beet.)

Story time is a pretty subtle theme to work with, and I didn’t want to waste time or money collecting certain books or fancy vintage editions to decorate.  I did my best to make do with things we already had on hand.  We used this bookshelf that is normally in a different room to display photos of Caroline throughout the past year as well as some of her favorite books (the Baby Lit series I’ve mentioned before.)  I reused the picture frames from her party last year and just painted over the yellow ones with purple to coordinate.  Easy peasy.

I used pages from old, fallen apart books to make a few small paper flowers to decorate the birthday banner and I thought they were a cute touch.

A lot of beautiful spring flowers just happen to be purple, so that worked well bring the color scheme through the various details.  Irises were my mom’s favorite flower so they have a special meaning in our family, and it was nice to have some displayed on the main table.  She also really loved hyacinths so this arrangement just made me feel happy.

I have to give a special shout out to Molly of The TomKat Studio for the amazing party printables.  I always love their work and how the printables help pull a party together, but I especially loved this set.  The party circles and favor tags with the script background actually include some quotes from our favorite books.  Definitely love love loved that detail!

The party was in the middle of the afternoon so not during prime meal time and as a result, I kept the menu on the small side.  It was as follows:

Cucumber Bites
Deviled Eggs
Spring Veggie Goat Cheese Dip
Fruit Tartlets
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Blackberry Pie Bars
Lemon Cupcakes with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

The tartlets are actually just a mini version of this fresh fruit tart.  I made a 1.5 batch of dough to yield about 20 tartlet shells.  I used a cookie cutter (about 3½-inch diameter) to cut out rounds of tart dough, pressed them into my nonstick cupcake pan, lined them with foil and filled with baking beads/dried beans, and baked at 375˚ F until golden and set.  I made a single batch of pastry cream and topped with fresh fruit.

I never pass up an opportunity to make the ever popular soft frosted sugar cookies, but this time I frosted them with a vaguely floral design.  I used the same frosting recipe but simply made it slightly stiffer (i.e. used less liquid) than the original version, and then piped it onto the cookies with a large closed star tip starting from the center and swirling outward.

We made a little collection of some of our family’s favorite storybooks for other kids to look at if they wanted.  The crate was actually just the box left over from one of the birthday gifts I had given Caroline a few days before the party.  And of course, I couldn’t resist cookie favors.  I made my favorite macaron recipe and filled them with dark chocolate ganache.

The weather on the day of the party was absolutely gorgeous, so we spent the majority of the day outside playing.  But eventually, we came inside to settle down and have story time before cupcakes.  We have quite a few educators in our families, so I tapped them as a resource for reading duties.  First my brother Steve, a fourth grade teacher, read one of our childhood favorites, Miss Nelson is Missing.  Man, I love that book.

Then Ben, a first grade teacher, followed it up with one of his childhood favorites (and what has become one of our absolute favorite stories for the kids at bedtime), Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo.

Happy birthday, sweet Caroline!  We couldn’t have dreamed up a more wonderful girl if we tried.