Buddies,  Bug,  crazy stuff,  Family Matters,  party party,  spilling my guts

The Magical, Mystical, Wonderful, Six-in-the-Sticks Fairy Birthday Party!

they keep flickering back on!

You know what they always tell me: It always works out. This party was no exception.

No matter how much you fret and worry and freak-out about the severe storm warnings, the wind, the lack of space, the unknown-non-rsvp-ing mystery guest list, the kids who get bored in five minutes if there isn’t a bounce house and all the many many things you wish you could fix in your old broken-down mobile home…it all works out. It all worked out perfectly thanks to many whispered prayers.

water fairy pose 5

Of course everything started really early in the morning. I was making the stump cake (which by the way came together exactly how I imagined and completely architecturally amazed me. I think I’ll do a whole post on that.) my mom was making her little cherry-tomato-ladybug cracker things, my dad was hanging lights in the carport and Toby showed up which turned out to be quite providential because right then Bug and I had a pretty big disagreement over her costume for the day.

I had thought she was going to wear her blue leotard with this really pretty light purple tutu that my friend Wendy gave her. It was perfect for the party. It was gauzy and had flower petals inside the layers. Except there was one problem that I guess Bug and I had discussed already and somehow in my absentminded party-planning-craziness I had forgotten.

It was the wrong color.

Now in a normal family the mother would say to the daughter: Tough. Get over it. I am the mom, you are the kid. And then the daughter would pout for five minutes and sneak a cupcake or something. Not this family. Color is EVERYTHING. If you’ve been following this blog for the last five years, you know how Bug feels about color. First there was green, then there was fuschia and now there is this peacock blue/teal/turquoise family.

water fairy pose 2

Bug has her dad’s perfectionist eye when it comes to color. They can both see shades and nuances in color that even bees and hummingbirds can’t see. Seriously. If you know Toby you’ve probably heard him discuss how a photo has a green cast to it and go on and on about it until your eyes roll back in your head. Like father, like daughter.

So, apparently sometime in the last month or so I had told Bug that I would sew her a blue skirt to match her leotard. I’m sure I did. I had waxed on about all sorts of costume ideas and I’m sure she overheard me talking about them with all sorts of people. There was a time when I was thinking of sewing material to the leotard in waves to make her look like a water fairy and then I had this idea that I would sew up an old 60’s pattern my mom had in a pretty turquoise raw silk…But when it came down to the week of the party and I had way too much to get done (plus work deadlines), I just shelved all those fancy costume dreams and figured she was okay with the purple tutu. She had worn it several times before and flounced around so happily. I thought we were good.

I was wrong and Bug has a memory like an elephant.

Just when I thought it was going to be a whole day of “It’s-my-birthday-I-can-cry-if-I-want-to” Toby showed up. Of course he took her side, he always does. So I hatched a brilliant plan. If Toby would take her to the fabric store and buy her some blue tulle in the perfect color, then I would sew it right then and there. Never mind that I had 50 cupcakes to ice, animal masks to cut out and assemble, counters to clean, a hot cocoa bar to set up, craft tables to be set up, lemonade to make…blah-ti-blah-crazy-party-zilla rant here.

I figured either Toby would refuse to go to the fabric store on principle (places like that give him the willies) and then he’d be stuck convincing Bug that the purple tutu was perfectly fine OR they’d go together and have a wonderful father-daughter bonding time over color and fabric and they’d both be out of my hair for HOURS.

water fairy pose 1 water fairy pose 3

As you can see my plan worked brilliantly. They were gone for hours and everyone was happy. And yes, I can totally sew a tutu out of a yard of organza (not tulle) in five minutes flat.


Next came the spread. Amazingly, I was able to get everything done at the last minute. My mom went completely crazy over-the-top with these super cute little bug appetizers that I did not really get a good photo of. (That is my one big regret of the day. I never handed my camera off to someone else to take photos. And all my regular photographer friends weren’t there so the only photos I have are blurry ones. It breaks my heart too because I think this is my favorite party and all I have to show for it are a dozen blurry photos. Oh well.)

woodland food

My mom made ladybugs out of cherry tomatoes, ants on a log, snails out of cucumbers wrapped around some kind of cream-cheese-sundried tomato mix and some green leafy-looking tortilla pinwheel things. I never got to taste them but I heard everyone else raving so I guess they were really good.

stump cake on stumps!

I was just so happy the cake turned out. The mushrooms my aunt made and these funny little malt ball acorns we made by rolling one end in melted chocolate and chopped nuts were so cute!! It was the best cake ever. I’m just so sad I didn’t get better photos.

the spread

Anyway, you get the idea.

But you know what else turned out? Everything else!!! I was so happy and relieved.

the sun came out!!!

I had cancelled the bounce house because all morning it had been drizzling and the weather report forecasted nothing but rain and wind. But then one hour into the party, the sun came out and my Aunt Keren called the bounce house company back up and told them to get there ASAP. I had really given up on the idea. The driveway was full of cars, it just seemed monumentally impossible but never under-estimate the power of a short red-head. They get things DUN. Cars got re-parked, the bounce house people showed up and five minutes later we had kids bouncing in a giant fairytale castle in the sunshine. I couldn’t believe it.


Really, I should include one other thing in this story. Earlier in the day, probably around 2pm, I had remarked to my Aunt Keren (who had gotten there early to help) that I really wanted to brush my teeth before the guests arrived at 3pm. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, I hadn’t even had my coffee…things were crazy. All my kitchen counter-tops (which is really only one counter) were a mess and I was starting to get a tiny bit snappy at my mom because most of the mess was her mess—which I love her for dearly because LADY BUGS! SNAILS! ANTS ON A LOG! All not part of my plan but so WONDERFUL!!! Actually, I take that back. I did ask her to make the ladybugs but the rest were her creative embellishments. Super super cool but sort of worrying me because now we had about five thousand things to do at the very last minute. You can imagine my party-zilla distress.

My aunt pulled me by the arm into the bathroom and made me brush my teeth. She physically made me do it. I’m sure partly because I had horrible breath and partly because she knew I was going to explode and yell at my mom if she didn’t. So there we were in my tiny bathroom and while I’m brushing she held my hand and prayed out loud. I don’t remember what she prayed but I know it was something about it being a wonderful party for a happy little girl who we love so much.

And that’s why when the sun came out and my counters were all perfectly clean and there was a giant pink bounce house in my driveway that I felt like God was smiling at me. I hate being a gushy Christian going on about how God makes things “easy” because he doesn’t but for one moment I realized that if I just throw up my hands and let Him take care of things he totally does! It wasn’t supposed to be sunny!! It was rainy and cold and people were freezing. I did actually have to hand out blankets to the moms who sat outside and watched their kids in the bounce house but it was wonderful. It was cozy. We had hot chocolate and the lights my dad hung in my carport made it feel warm and inviting.

Bounce Fairy

We had sun.

creating fairy houses

The fairy house kits were a hit. (Thank you Momfluential for that wonderful idea!) Some of the kids were baffled by it, others were engrossed. It’s really fun to watch how creative some children are naturally. They don’t need any prompting at all. The others didn’t get it at all so they went bananas in the bounce house instead, which was perfectly fine with me.

Fairy House

working on the second story

lemonade in jars!

The lemonade turned out perfectly. You should really use this idea at your next party. The hole-punching was a bit of a chore but so worth it.

the adult beverage bar

The hot chocolate bar was wonderful, thanks to my friend Deb who acted as bartender and some tasty six dollar amaretto from Trader Joe’s.


Kelly! Hannah andTamie

L, Erika and Bug


My Dad and Mom's of school friends

Toby, Keren, Tamie

Bug's Teacher (on the right) and friends

The masks were a fun photo prompt. I always like to have some silly thing like this to prompt people to take photos. You can download your own copies over at Alpha+Mom if you were thinking of having a woodland creatures party. (I strongly recommend it!)

woodland creature visiting from the safari

Some people don’t need much prompting. Love her.

patio lights

present opening!

And of course there were presents…

Kelly, Keren and Grandma

And everyone fit in my tiny house!!!

magic candles 1

And cake!

magic candles 2

I love these candles that don’t burn out. They give you plenty of chances to get a photo even if you are the hostess with the mostess and you’re too frazzled to check your camera settings.

magic candles 3

Blow little Bug, Blow!

magic candles 4



She finally got them all out and everybody cheered. It was great.

Carrien cuts the cake Carrien gets her OCD on

Carrien cut the cake for me because I was afraid of it. I’ve never made a cake that big before and the chocolate sticks were in there making it all weird and unpredictable. I just let the professional take care of it. Do you know what else Carrien is a professional at? Cleaning stoves. Yeah. She’s has OCD about it. It was so funny. As the party was dying down and we were cleaning up, she started cleaning my very dirty stove. At first I tried to stop her, but then she got in there with a little bread-tab scraper and I figured I better shut up because that stove was going to be cleaner than it’s ever been in it’s entire life!!!

the after party

So that was pretty much it. These photos are from the after party. I love the after party. Chatting, cleaning, kids playing dress up…it was just a whole bunch of wonderful.

fairy orb

A very long, tiring day of wonderful.


  • DeeJay

    Awh! It all looks so fun and wonderful! You are the supreme party planner / executer, Brenda! Bug is fortunate to have you as her Mommii!

  • Rachel W.

    Wonderful! I too use the pampered chef plastic bread scraper thing to clean my counters and stove. I am so glad for you that your party turned out so well. I hope you week is a good one!

  • KarenG

    I am tired of reading about your wonderful parties and seeing the pictures, so I am going to have to move to CA so I can CRASH them!!! I so want to be invited to all of them. Things do have a way of working out, so I am happy that everything turned out just perfect for Bug’s special day.

  • Mammazeen

    I have been reading your blog for a while, but have never commented (not much of a commenter). But I just wanted to extend a big congratulations to you. I actually checked in yesterday to see if you had posted about the party–I was rooting for you all the way over here in Vermont. I am not much of a party planner myself (the whole idea makes me nervous), but found myself totally absorbed in all of your prep work. I’m so glad it worked out, and that you were able to enjoy it–that’s the sign of a job well done.

  • Jenni H.

    I swear this party I waited for you to post as if it were a Very Awesome Movie Release! Your imagination and hard work is so enjoying to read! I love your gushy moments too:) I think we all need a Aunt Karen and God<3

  • minutepapillon

    and very inspiring too. My twins turn 4 in March, the woodland creature theme enchants my imagination, as well as dozens others! Great job and childhood memory to last a lifetime!

  • OMSH

    I enjoyed every single photo (even the blurry food ones). Way to go Toby for saving the day (Jeff would have gone to the fabric store too, but oh how he would NOT have liked it.)! Way to go Brenda for bringing it all together. I saw a few people there I’d love to put my arms around. It looked warm, cozy and so “Brenda-beautiful!”

  • Mom24@4evermom

    That party looks wonderful! Great job!

    I know you always seem to be embarrassed about your mobile home, but at least in pictures it really does look nice. You’ve done a good job with it.

    I’d really appreciate it if you emailed me information about how you did the fairy house kids, or better yet, do a post. They’re so adorable. What did you use, how did you do it? My daughter would love that!

  • sara

    Phew! I kept checking back to see how it went. (I KNEW it would be great! but sure there was a teeny bit of sympathy-stress) Looks AMAZING! Congratulations!

  • BeachMama

    Oh YAY!!! What a fabulous day! And you fretted over nothing, isn’t that always the way? So glad Toby took Bug for a while, I am sure that helped get everything organized. And Aunt Keren, she just knew what to do. The photos are amazing, so happy to be able to catch a sneak, blurry or not, sometimes the best photos have a little je ne sais quoi? about them when they are blurry. Now, onto next year ;)

  • bethany actually

    My happiness and relief at how great this party was FAR outweighs my sadness that we couldn’t be there. :-) Thank God for Keren making you brush your teeth and praying with you, and friends who clean your stove, and creative kids, and awesome cake creations that turn out better than you imagined they could. I’m smiling big. (And counting on being at Bug’s NEXT party.)

  • a chris

    And thank Mom for cleaning the counters while you were brushing! ;)

    Congratulations to you and everyone who worked hard to make that a magical day for Bug and the other kids to remember!

  • Christine

    It looks amazing. And the cake looks… I’m running out of superlatives because fabulous isn’t enough and I just said amazing already. Stunning. Delicious. Far too beautiful to eat, and yet also extremely yummy. I’m so so happy it all turned out wonderfully and the sun came out just at the right time.

  • Dena

    What a great party! You are a great mom for creating such a fun day for your little fairy Bug. I might steal some of your ideas :)

  • Janna

    Everything turned out so great! I love it all! Love the stump cake, the tulle on the ceiling, the masks, twinkle lights, the fairy house kits, the lemonade, the ladybugs, the whole.darn.thing! You did a great job! Bug will always cherish these moments and how much of a party rock star her mom is.

    I am so glad she is a few years older than Clara so I have boundless ideas to steal from you!

    PS- You cut down that tree just for decorations, didn’t you? Girl after my own heart.

  • TexasLea

    It looks every bit as fabulous as I thought it would! You are one blessed woman Brenda Ponnay! From the way the party came together to the people who were there, God smiles on you alot my friend. ;)

  • Sarah

    I’m another one who was waiting with baited breath for the party report – and was sending good weather vibes to you on the day. It looks like it was a fabulous party; I continue to be in awe of your party-planning skills. Fantastic cake, food and decorations.
    And happy birthday to Bug!

  • Heidi K.

    WOW! I want a fairy birthday party now! I only have a boy and was never able to explore that route, but we’ve had wonderful monster, skateboard and sports parties but not as wonderful as a FAIRY party. I thought about you on Saturday and as I looked out my deary windows (fellow OC person here) I wished nothing but sunshine your way. I’m glad all the prayers worked by everybody. Can’t wait for next year! :)

  • sizzle

    You are seriously amazing at this! Your ideas are so creatively inventive and fun. I’m so glad it went so well. I am blown away by that amazing cake!

  • Jennifer P

    happy birthday little Bug! I can’t believe you are so BIG! I hope your year is as spectacular as your party.

  • Lisa

    What an absolutely beautiful, creative party! I love reading about the parties you and your family throw. It’s just about my favorite part of blogland. :) Thanks for sharing! And since I’ve seen your Aunt Karen in action many times I can just imagine her doing what you said… :) She was my “counselor” at lassen for many years and the wedding coordinator at my best friends wedding. Love her!

  • JennyC

    So glad that things worked out and the party was a hit! And I love the fact that your Aunt Keren prayed with you, what a great and loving Aunt :)

  • Melaine

    I once wrote you an over-excited comment about how I had spent the past week reading every single one of your posts because I was so addicted. I haven’t commented since then but I just wanted you to know that I relish every post of yours still. Yours was the first blog I started reading, and as a result of it I now read a whole collection of blogs, and even started one of my own (sort of) but it’s still the Adventures of Brenda and Bug that makes my heart happy to read. Bug’s party looks like it was absolutely amazing, of course. I have a son who is turning 11 soon, and a daughter who has only had one party thus far, and birthday parties have become this huge thing that I both get tingly anticipation for and dread. I get excited about my children’s parties because, hello, they’re a party but I always feel so much pressure to throw a nice party. I never have many children to invite and so I feel like I have to make up for the lack of children with something amazing. I think I’ve done okay with my son but I still cringe about my daughter’s first birthday. I spent the whole year thinking and talking about the party and it just didn’t come together. I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter and my daughter won’t remember anyhow. I can’t explain it, but I finished the party feeling a little mortified. That being said, if you ever find yourself around Sonoma County and I haven’t completely scared you yet, I would genuinely hire you to theme up a birthday party for me. I would take all the credit for it though of course. ;)

  • Cathy

    absofrickinlutely *m*a*r*v*e*l*o*u*s* party! you deserve to be proud. that cake is fanfreakin’tastic and the expressions on Bug’s face in all the pics tells all. superb job – happy for you!!!!!

  • Christina (in Mo)

    as they say around her in my neck of the woods.. let me give you the big head…

    You’re my favorite party planner!! If you lived closer.. I would pay you to plan a party for a 12 year old!! Maybe we can email discuss a little side job for you!! (now there’s an idea!!!)

    You did a fabulous job..and your little Bug..is never going to forget it.

  • Lisa

    What a fabulous party! In my next life, I want to come back as your child!

    On a completely different note, what the heck is it with parents of kids NOT RSVP-ing these days?!?! It drives me completely mad. I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old, and every time I have sent out party invites, about 3 people RSVP and then EVERYBODY SHOWS UP. What IS IT?? Were they raised by wolves?! Do they not understand what “RSVP” means?? I just can’t get over it! I am glad to hear it’s not just parents in Florida that do that! *sheesh*

  • brooke

    LOVE the way the stump cake turned out. Gorgeous. And I think I will have to use the lemonade idea. I got a bunch of small canning jars on super-super clearance at Target when the canning season was over. My daughter has a July birthday–about the only month we can dream of having outdoor parties here in Seattle : )
    BTW, my daughter was one of the little girls playing ballet with Bug at the conference and I was cracking up when Bug came over all sad with her shoes on and said she couldn’t dance anymore with her shoes off since it was ruining her tights : ) We came home with stains and rips in the knees as well!

  • Beth

    you truely have a gift for creating great parties, the cake was wonderful looking! all your panic-posts did make me feel normal, and i did stress right along with you! my granddaughters 1 st b-day party was cancelled due to flu, rescheduled for the following weekend, which then i was sick! go figure, just my luck! had to miss it totally. make me hope for bigger and better parties in her future,
    seeing Bug’s smiles was awesome! glad your sunshine smiled on you! looks like you did a great job Mom!

  • Jeanie

    I love it that Toby and Bug were gone for a couple of hours pre-party. You are one smart cookie!

    The party looks so cool. Every guest will remember that party, too, not just Bug. Those other kids will talk about “that one fairy party that one year” for a long time to come.

    Congratulations on a great party!

  • Barb

    YaY, Brenda! You did it again. You are an amazing party planner. It has been so much fun watching Bug grow up right before our very eyes. Happy Birthday, little girl!

  • Manda

    It looks like it was an AMAZING party! I’m so happy it turned out well. Party-planning is so stressful for me that when a birthday approaches I’m pretty much always like “How about we just spend your birthday at Disneyland?” That works out about 50% of the time. :)

  • onetake

    I’d been meaning to ask you how the party went. Glad it all went down well. Looks like the Bug had a great birthday :)

  • rebecca

    Absolutely wonderful and inspiring :) I especially love the birthday cake/candle sequence photos. SUCH a fantastic memory for your little girl and you. You’re inspiring :) Thank you for sharing the process and the beautiful, creative outcome.

  • Kuky

    Huh, I swore I commented yesterday when I read this but one of the kids must have pulled me away. Typical.

    So glad everything worked out. Everything looks amazing and I love all the little details that make up the whole. But I especially love that your family is such a help.

  • darci

    If I am ever planning a huge party, I think I shall figure in the cost of bring you up as the party planner. You having amazing skills!!!