Bonjour! Hillside Lane took on a distinctively French flare to celebrate my mother in law’s 60th birthday. The birthday girl has a passion for champagne – Veuve Cliquot to be specific – and while a trip to France was on her birthday wishlist, we decided that we would bring France to Daina instead.
Part of the inspiration for this French soiree came from Daina’s close friend, who sent the most wonderful RSVP note with this story included:
I have fond memories of when Ilze, Daina and I left our families behind for the first time. We were in our mid-40s and we spent one hedonistic week in London and then a few days in Paris. In London, we dressed up as novice nuns to attend a showing of Sing-Along-Sound-of-Music. The audience was filled with mothers, little girls and transvestites dressed up as barons, goats and brown paper packages. Once we arrived in Paris we shocked the formal French waiter by ordering champagne to go with each course. French women drink very small quantities of wine appropriate to each course when out. When dessert came around with another request for more champagne the waiter raised his eyebrows. Daina smiled her little Daina smile and told him that this was the first time three old girlfriends had left their families behind after caring for them for 20 years. She finished with, “…and I like champagne!”. The waiter respectfully bowed and replied, “Then, Madame, you shall have champagne”.
I just loved it and knew that it somehow had to be featured at the party. I reached out to Andris’ incredibly talented and creative cousin, with this story and a framework of how I thought we could use it. And she went and made it awesome. We featured the story right as people came in and used the phrase, “Then, Madame, you shall have champagne!” all throughout the party. What Larisa came up with was absolutely perfect.
We tried to find ways to make the party very French country and the flowers that we found were perfect. My sister-in-law, Larisa (Lars), and I went to the local farmers market that morning. Under an umbrella with rain pouring down we picked out flowers that popped with color and an organic essence….it all felt very Parisian 😉 We found this beautiful and fragrant bundle of eucalyptus that seemed to complete the look we were going for. Lars handled all the arrangements and did such a great job of making it look effortlessly perfect. They were a perfect pop off color throughout the party and a great accent to the Veuve yellow.
Lars even tracked down some French inspired wine cases to use along side our other decor, including watering cans, loaves of French bread and candles…lots and lots of candles. Her inspiration for the decor was spot on and tied the theme perfectly throughout the house and spilled into the backyard.
I need to learn how to use my camera on something other than AUTO so I can better capture the pretty light that filled the backyard.
The surprise started out on the front lawn where we all met the birthday girl with sparklers and singing “Daudz Baltu Dienu”…the Latvian version of Happy Birthday.
Once inside the champagne was flowing and the food was incredible. We hired two friends who do catering as a side business and they created a delicious French-inspired menu of appetizers. We feasted all night on cheese, crab, short ribs, goat cheese, mushrooms and croque monsieur. Bon appetit!
The night was filled with French music, good friends, close family and the makings of wonderful memories. My mother in law is an incredibly special woman, evident by the distances that people traveled to celebrate with her.
May this celebration be the start of a year filled with smiles and champagne. Mes tevi milam, Daina!