A Mad Fantasy Tea Party

This past Monday we had a spring tea party to launch our new Fantasy Garden Collection, a vintage inspired capsule collection and collaboration with New York based jewelry company Ciner. I don’t know if it is the recent release of Beauty & The Beast, spring in general, or the fanciful nature of this new collection but I have had a tea party craving for awhile now. Talented Charleston-based illustrator Daniel Velasco did our invites and we purchased teacups that doubled as party favors for all the guests and turned Candy Shop Vintage on Cannon Street into a tea room for the afternoon.

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Thanks to Ooh events, we were able to squeeze in seating for 18 people down the length of the store. We served Charleston grown tea from The Charleston Tea Plantation in three flavors – Charleston Breakfast, Peach and Earl Grey. Frampton’s Flowers provided some beautiful fresh ranunculus for us in shades of pale pink.

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Out tiered tea towers were brimming with homemade goodies from local bakeries and caterers – Hamby’s, Sugar bakeshop and scones from Wildflour:

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And one of the best details were the beautiful, hand painted unicorn macaroons from Mercantile & Mash:

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The centerpiece of our new collection, The Unicorn Fantasy Necklace:

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Our floral selfie wall was also a lot of fun:

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As were the unicorn horn party hats from Meri Meri party:

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I only slept about two hours the night before but still had a blast:

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Thanks to all who came and contributed to a magical afternoon in Charleston!

Some Bunny To Love

This weekend is Easter and this cake has been a long standing tradition in my house – both growing up and since I became an actual adult to make a coconut bunny cake. It was the first dessert I brought to the first Easter brunch we were invited to in Charleston. Even in the South amongst the stiff competition of easter puddings and the fruit trifles, this cake became a major topic of conversation. Something about it makes me and everyone who sees it just… happy. My cousins used to spend every Easter at our house and after tearing through our Easter baskets and several pounds of candy, this was the sugar high we looked forward to after Easter brunch just as we were coming down from our Peeps. I think the recipe was torn from some early 80s magazine and though I now have it memorized, I remember the way it was stapled to an index card in my Mom’s recipe box, We were fiercely loyal to the bunny cake – not so much for its flavor (although it is pretty good) but for its look, its texture and its comforting consistency of presentation year after year. The acid green coconut “grass,” the jelly bean eyes, the chocolate chip trim… My Mom would store it in what she referred to as the “cold closet” after it was prepared and the cream cheese frosting had a great chill to it when you finally dug in to it. It was even good as leftovers a couple days later with a cold glass of milk. It is remarkably easy to make… and of course, fun.

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Also, proof that I am not lying when I say I have been making this forever, this is me at age 7 or 8:

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What you need (for the cake):

  • A box of chocolate cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • vegetable oil
  • two 9″ round baking pans
  • two bags of sweetened coconut divided into three bowls
  • jelly beans
  • Twizzlers pull and peel
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips

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After baking two 9″ chocolate cakes (and banging them loose from the pan – Daphne’s favorite part) keep one fully intact for the “head,” then, cut the second cake in three pieces, the “bowtie” that is the middle part of the circle and the two “ears” that make up the negative space once you cut out the bowtie.

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All four pieces should then be carefully transferred onto a separate tray or platter. If it is not done perfectly, it is not a big deal because it all gets covered in icing.

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What you need (for the icing):

  • stick of butter
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 box of confectioners sugar
  • vanilla extract

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We always made it with cream cheese frosting (ingredients listed above, basic recipe can be found here). It seems to go best with the flavor of the coconut and chocolate once completed. The entire head, ears and bowtie should be covered in frosting. Then, take the white coconut first and cover all the frosting in a layer of white coconut. Once a layer of white coconut has been added, pink coconut should be used to fill in the ears and bowtie. (This should be made in advance in a separate bowl using red food coloring). Once sprinkled inside the ears and bowtie, use the chocolate chips (evenly spaced) to outline the pink areas:

08 Jelly bean accents work well for the eyes and nose and Twizzlers pull and peel make the perfect bunny whiskers:

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The most fun part is the last step… sprinkling the “grass” – the dyed green coconut – around the giant bunny head:

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And our finished bunny!

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Good enough to eat… Happy Easter!

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THE BEST SUGAR COOKIES EVER

I have been meaning to share this recipe for a long time and with Valentine’s Day around the corner I thought it was a perfect time to spread the love. These are, quite simply the best sugar cookies you will ever eat. I used to have bad associations with sugar cookies… you know the buttery stale kind you get in a red plaid tin at Christmas or the ones that are passed out with apple juice in elementary school? The worst. I will almost always take a chocolate chip cookie over a sugar cookie, but…

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…when I friend of mine shared this family recipe with me I was a total convert. My daughter Daphne and I have made these at least half a dozen times and she is only four. Baking is one of our favorite mommy daughter activities, and even though these taste gourmet they are incredibly easy to make. You can also make the dough far in advance and freeze it and just pop it out when you are ready to make your next round of cookies.

ingredients

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For the dough:

SIFT: 3 cups of flour + 1 teaspoon of baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon of salt

CREAM: 1 cup of butter + 3/4 cup of sugar + 3 tablespoons of milk + 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla + 1 egg

Refrigerate for an hour or freeze and thaw before ready to use. Roll out and cut, bake for 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees. Allow cookies to cool to room temperature before frosting.

For the frosting:

1 box of powdered sugar + 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract + 1/4 cup of milk until desired consistency. Food coloring and decoration as needed.

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The best part… taste testing. We really have to make these in small batches, otherwise we just inhale them. And PS, my pink Charleston Rice Beads will be available for pre-order online next week!

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Treat Yourself this Valentine’s Day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day…one of those sometimes amorphous holidays that prompts relationship questions – do you give a gift? Do you get a gift? In eighth grade when we were in that phase of “going out” and then “breaking up” (often in the same afternoon) I had my first Valentine’s Day ever with a “steady” boyfriend. I was so excited I went to CVS and bought him one of those gigantic chocolate Hershey kisses. I couldn’t wait to give it to him and when we found each other by the lockers in the morning, I gave it to him and in return he gave me… a card. Needless today, I think our relationship lasted a total of three or four days. So if you want to skip the drama and hint dropping and just go out and get a little something for yourself, I’ve rounded ten of my favorite Valentine’s Day treats:

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1. If you cocktail this pink ombre glass Oh Joy for Target Shaker will make you smile

2. Fashion (and critter) friendly fur from BURU White Label

3. The perfect tassel, big, bold yet lightweight ruby red earrings from Hart Studio

4. The worlds most whimsical chocolates from Maggie Louise Confections

5. Our special edition Charleston Rice Bead stud earrings in 14K gold at GG Mercantile & Co

6. The most darling cast iron pot of all time from le creuset

7. Our vintage inspired perfect pink poodle pendant

8. The I Heart Charleston (and who doesn’t?) necklace specially made for us by Gunner & Lux

9. We are about to start carrying these amazing vintage inspired wristlet bags (all made in the U.S.A.) from Sarara Couture in our shop, but you can snag one here in the meantime.

10. The perfect set of Valentine’s Day cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma.

Happy Halloween From Charleston!

Happy Halloween from Charleston, SC (where it is a balmy 80 degrees out – seriously, I am ready for some real fall weather!). Today is the last day to play “Guess The Number of Candy Corn” in the champagne glass (below). The closest (or exact) guess wins a $100 gift card to Candy Shop Vintage that can be used online and in store. If more than one person guesses the correct number then they both get a gift card! Comment on this blog post with your best guess and your email address! Winner is announced tomorrow.

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This year my daughter Daphne asked me to dress as a rainbow unicorn with her. I figure that the number of years she wants to wear matching costumes are going to be limited so I should jump on board. It is pretty cute wearing a matching costume with her (although she shed some of her unicorn accessories for a pony ride in the park because it was just so hot!).

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And for some adult treats, don’t forget to check our our One-of-a-Kind Vintage section where we’ve just added some fresh vintage treats!
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Southern Summer Treats

Garden and Gun recently posted their favorite summer recipes and I suddenly recalled the amazing ice box cake recipe that I tried a couple summers ago from their magazine courtesy of the Lee Brothers. This is literally the PERFECT warm weather dessert – sweet, creamy and nutty. I am reposting below as it is the perfect thing to serve if you are looking for something sweet and cool to make this Memorial Day weekend:

It involves no baking so you don’t even need to turn on the oven, which is why it is a perfect for summer. I started on it quite late Sunday night and even though there is no oven involved, you need to build in a few hours after mixing it to stir and fold it along with time for it to “set” in between.  Best to start it before 6PM if you don’t want to be stirring it at 1AM like I did.  I also burt my pecans while trying to lightly toast them which gave it a hint of “campfire” flavor.  Oops.  It still got rave reviews from my family though, and I’d definitely make it again, and maybe even add in a second seasonal berry next time.  Given the color palate it is perfect for Memorial Day and would also be great for July 4th! Get the full recipe here.

Also, if you live in Charleston or are visiting in the next two weeks, don’t forget that on Memorial Day at 11:30AM, The Grace Episcopal Church Tea Room officially opens its doors for two weeks.  The food is excellent (lunchtime only) – all made by the volunteers and church staff adn they also serve the most incredible, homemade desserts, all donated by church members. It is the kind of genuine, Southern cuisine you can usually only get in peoples’ homes and via family recipes. All proceeds from the Tea Room go to local Charleston charities.  Last year they distributed over $50,000 of Tea Room profits and you can even call ahead and get your lunch to go. More details on The Grace Church website. Bon Appétit!

 

Rhode Island Sweet Spots

While my family and I were on vacation in Florida last week, I asked my friend Lizzy of The Connoisseur of Cute to take over the @candyshopvintage instagram for a couple of days and share her favorite Rhode Island haunts through the her whimsical and colorful lense. While I travel to RI frequently and have posted my own mini travel guides, it was great to see it through someone else’s eyes. Here are the spots she shared in case you missed out on her adorable Instagram posts:

One of my personal favorites, Allie’s Donuts – an amazing local donut shop with signature, brightly colored donuts, full donut cakes and more!

The Roger Williams Park Botanical Center is located in Roger Williams Park in Providence – totally lush and beautiful! And love her matching pants : )

How precious is this bakery – Sweet Indulgence – located at 2202 Broad Street in Cranston, RI

Yes please to this fruit topped custard French toast from Modern Diner in Pawtucket, RI!

Some perfect vintage finds from Lizzy’s RI vintage hunts – she recommends checking out Stillwater Antiques in Greenville, RI and Rhode Island Antiques in Pawtucket.

Almost no trip to RI is complete without visiting the stunning historic mansions of Newport, RI, many of which are open for tours and are located along Cliff Walk.

Rhode Island is famous for its beautiful beaches (and sunsets!) Narragansett beach is a favorite and open to the public daily.

Lizzy’s posts have inspired me to do a little more exploring this summer beyond my usual spots (although Allie’s is something I never miss out on!). Thanks again for taking over for us – make sure to keep following along with Lizzy @theconnoisseurofcute. xo

Instagram Takeover With The Connoisseur of Cute

As some of you know, Rhode Island is my other favorite coastal state, where much of my Candy Shop Vintage jewelry is made and where I go with my family on vacation every summer. Not too long ago I stumbled across Lizzy Colley’s instagram account @theconnoisseurofcute whose bright, playful and often vintage inspired photos always brighten my day. I loved seeing Rhode Island through her eyes so much, I asked her to take over the Candy Shop Vintage Instagram this weekend and share some of her favorite spots. So follow along with the hashtag #connoisseurforcandyshop and @candyshopvintage starting this Saturday…

Sharing The Love: Summer Hostess Gifts

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend and the kick-off to summer – otherwise known as houseguest season. Being a host is hard – but being hosted can be even harder. Whether you’re visiting a friend out at the beach for the day, tagging along for an afternoon barbecue, or crashing with someone for an entire weekend, being someone’s guest can often be navigating some very murky waters of etiquette.  How early do you arrive? How late do you leave? When do you pick up the check? Some of those things just take experience and good intuition but one thing is for sure – the worst houseguest can be forgiven – even invited back – if they bring a great gift:

1. DINNER GUEST: These sweet macaroon trinket boxes, at $12 they are less than a good bottle of wine and will last longer.

2. OVERNIGHT GUEST: A turquoise Charleston Rice Bead bracelet is an affordable token of affection with a great story behind it. Leave it behind on your pillow with a thank you note or even order one online after you leave and ship it directly to your hostess with a Candygram.

3. WEEKEND GUEST: These embroidered pink elephant cocktail napkins along with a bottle of your favorite spirit are the perfect contribution to your farewell round of cocktails with your hostess.

4. WEEKLONG GUEST: Being a guest for more than a weekend means one thing – your host is a veteran. Contribute something that can become a permanent fixture in their home and that can be put to use like these whimsical Charleston linen guests towels. 100% heirloom linen and 100% washable.

5. FOR THE LITTLE ONES: Until we have Charleston Rice Beads for kids, you can grab one of these adorable Color Charleston books at Candy Shop On Cannon for just $12 whimsically illustrated by my talented friend Mary Mac and hand bound with red thread.  Also available on her website.

6. LOANER VACATION HOUSE: When someone loans you their house – whether for a week or even just a night –  it’s appropriate to spoil them a bit with something special that only they can enjoy, like our Crescent Necklace – new for summer – in Pool Blue. It’s still just a drop in the bucket compared to the money you would have spent on rent or a hotel. And don’t forget to make the beds before you leave.

A Rawther Fancy Tea Party

It’s almost Mother’s Day and this time last year I was just coming out of the really difficult phase of both early parenthood and early business owning.  While neither of those roles ever becomes significantly easier, with a year gone by I feel like I’ve really had the chance to watch both “babies” flourish, my adorable daughter Daphne and my not-so-new business. One of the highlights of my Spring so far was spending time with Daphne on home turf of New York City for the first time. It was so great to see New York through her eyes – she was both overwhelmed and intrigued.  She loved being surrounded by so many people and could spend literally hours exploring just one city block.

I decided to take her to do something special – even though Daphne is still very young (she just turned three) she is just old enough to attend “A Rawther Fancy Tea Party” hosted in the Eloise room in the Plaza hotel. We have been reading Eloise for months and I thought this would be a great way for her to connect the dots with what we had been reading and for us to spend time together so I made a tea reservation for the two of us. The Eloise room in which the “Rawther Fancy Tea Party” is held did not disappoint. Filled with there tastefully branded line of teas, plates saucers and other goodies and decorated in their trademark pink, white and black colors it was primed for a magical experience.

I wondered if Daphne would actually drink any tea – she never has before and doesn’t like when things are too “hot.” However, our waitress (who had the demeanor of a patient preschool teacher and an innately warm way of communicating with the “guests”) showed Daphne, without being at all condescending, exactly how to prepare her cup of tea and it was a huge hit. There was also pink lemonade served, another favorite.

Now I should probably mention the tickets to the Rawther Fancy Tea Party are $50 (for both adults and children). Having just been to Disneyworld, this didn’t seem unreasonable, but also wasn’t inexpensive.  I was curious what kind of experience we would have given there was not going to be any champagne involved. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it felt like we got our money’s worth and more.  I don’t like measuring experiences in terms of how much they cost but in hindsight, I think I think the price was extremely fair, for the lovely, personalized nature of the Tea Time. Daphne’s face when they brought over the tower of tea time treats was pretty priceless and there was even fruit to balance out some of the unhealthier sweets. Plus, I was actually starving having skipped lunch and found this was more than enough food for me and her to share. You can see a lone husband in the back of this photo – Dad’s are definitely welcome too:

The tea time had some structure to it, there was the sense of everything briskly moving along, which is a relief when you are an adult sitting in a teeny tiny toddler chair. After everyone neared the end of their tea and snacks, the sweet wait staff apologized on behalf of Eloise who “could not be there with us” and passed out paper so that we could each write her a letter she would later respond to. Daphne enjoyed this part and I helped her compose her letter to Eloise which the guests were then able to place in an ornate little wood mailbox just outside the tea room.

We were then dismissed and there was a store time, lasting about fifteen minutes which gave the parents a little breather and as you can see helped the kids burn off some of their post tea-time sugar high. They were good about wrangling the kids without being to strict and for the most part, everyone sat there and listened.

At the end of the hour, after store time, we were dismissed but not before all the kids were given Eloise gift bags that included some fun little treats, including a hard-cover Eloise etiquette book, which seemed very fitting.  Daphne was thrilled with her goody bag and even more thrilled when we passed the Eloise portrait for the second time on the way out of the Plaza, posing for it and looking a lot like Eloise herself!

In typical New York fashion, we were simply too bushed at the end of such an extravagantly fancy tea to even think about negotiating the subway home. And it being rush hour, our only option back to our hotel turned out to be a rawther expensive car service so maybe that’s something you should factor into your tea time budget. Nevertheless, it was an experience I will always remember – a perfect little mother-daughter outing if you are in New York and looking to for a wonderful, Mother-daughter outing or even a Daddy-daughter date! Happy Mother’s Day!