Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unique Wedding Favor... la fève

Wedding favors, love them, eat them, rarely remember them. I don't anyways. I always feel bad eating the chocolates, using the match book or storing the shot glass away in the cupboard only to donate it to a charity during my spring cleaning rounds (sorry friends but I'm being truthful). The crazy part is that they are such a staple to the experience that if I didn't get one I would definitely feel a bit jaded. So what's a bride and groom to do? The budget for each favors is quite small and by rights should be but when you add up every guest on the list the costs are usually hundreds of dollars.

On a recent buying trip I visited a fine antique dealer that specializes in French imports and came across a few tiny porcelain figurines that date back to the early to mid 1800’s used in the King’s Cake. The short version of the King’s Cake story goes like this…
The King's Cake is a tradition in many cultures and dates back to biblical times. In France a figurine called a la fève would be inserted into the celebratory cake and who ever found it in their piece of cake would be crowned King (or Queen) for the day!
Needless to say I scooped up some of the figurines to share with all of you. How fun would it be to have your pastry chef insert one of the la fève into your cake. At each table setting place a special note explaining the tradition of the King's Cake with your personal added twists of course! A fabulous prize for the newly crowned King or Queen could be a spa retreat, romantic getaway or even making a donation to their favorite charity. The ideas really are endless but one thing is for sure –  everyone will remember the thoughtfulness of your unique favor even if they weren't the ones to receive it! The cake will probably be completely consumed too!

And yes, we still have a few of the antique la fève available in the boutique but once they are gone...well you know how it goes. 

Creative Curator

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tea Time - 48 in 48

Traveling for treasures is a large part of what keeps arOka unique. Last summer I stayed over in Dawson Creek, BC and of course did some local hunting. I purchased some lovely vintage gloves, jewelry, a bundle of lacy table linens and surprisingly, a tea cup. How sweet that one little tea cup favorite colour turquoise, dainty hand painted flowers and all that gold. I just had to have it!

I couldn't stop admiring the gorgeous details of my new treasure and it was then and there that I knew the beauty of fine china had to become a large part of the arOka experience! Why? First of all because they are so charming! Secondly because I knew there was no way to access the large quantity needed for an event or wedding. Lastly because of the price. Yes anyone can buy a tea cup. I purchased mine for $25. Not bad for one very special piece but if I were having a wedding or event that number would jump to thousands of dollars. It just made sense that fine china was another collection arOka could share with others.  

I went back to all the shops in Dawson Creek that day and purchased a few pieces. When I left for William's Lake the next morning I had 5 new tea cups - a great start! It took 2 days of shopping, driving and more shopping to make it home to New Westminster. I was excited how full my little SUV was - stuffed to the brim with bags and boxes of sweet little tea cups! The next morning I unwrapped, washed, dried, photographed and inventoried each one. I started the complete count (for the sheer pleasure of seeing what I had actually accomplished in those 2 days)... 1, 2, 11, 23, 34, 40, 48!!! I had collected 48 beautiful tea cups in 48 hours!

Since that glorious "ah ha" moment in Dawson Creek, arOka's tea cup inventory has  grown to hundreds of pieces including plates, serving trays, tea pots, cream & sugar sets, cute silver spoons, coffee pots and many others.
I have fallen deeply in love with the charm, artistry and dainty features of each and every piece I hand pick. Casually stacked,  formally placed or used as artistic centre pieces, they make a beautiful addition to any table setting. 

I am now working on a collaboration with a yummy local baker and tea shop! Traditional afternoon tea at the boutique is on the agenda for the coming months. Stay tuned for more details!

If you are planning your own tea party, an event or wedding and would like more details about inventory, rates and availability we'd be pleased to oblige! You can call us at 778-397-7999, email us here or visit the boutique here.

I must run now, my tea has steeped ;) 
Creative Curator

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pretty Bits

What an amazing work of art! This stunning cake is a true one of a kind creation made by the very talented Gabrielle of Cake Coquette. The use of gold and violet icing to create embellishments like the bows and cameos makes this cake almost too precious to eat but so yummy on the eyes!

I love brooch bouquets! They last forever and become a very special heirloom  for future generations. There are lots of people making the bouquets, this stunning piece was created by Hair Bows Wonderworld. They aren't too difficult to create on your own and you have total creative control allowing you to add fresh flowers, pearl necklaces, feathers, lace and other pretty bits as you wish. It is time consuming and cost a little more than a fresh bouquet but to me it is so worth it!

My dear friend Nora Karen is the creator of these beautiful hand dyed, hand painted and ohhhh sooooo lovely bridal shoes! Yes she does custom designs! Her signature styles have graced the pages of many magazines. I am so proud of her hard work and dedication to original artistry!

I adore every item Jennifer form Breathe Couture creates! This amazing ruffled Victorian lace collar is hand made using antique lace, organza and velvet. Jennifer also uses antique and vintage jewelry to create one of a kind pieces for all occasions. She is a truly amazing local artist based in the Cloverdale area. 

I adore vintage hats and this is by far my current favorite! The perfect fit for high tea in the rose gardens! It's vintage 1950's with silk flowers, green veil and a sweet moss green velvet bow to complete the back. Available now at the boutique.

Until next time my lovelies be sure to KEEP IT FANCY!
Creative Curator

Monday, May 2, 2011

TuTu Lamp Shade

We had a very charming antique Italian cherub lamp in the boutique that was in super condition BUT the lamp shade had seen better days! I wanted to create a unique lamp shade that was a bit over the top so tutu was my choice! These can be done in any size including the darling mini lamp charming for a wedding reception!

To start the transformation remove the old fabric and trims to expose the metal wire form and then head to your local fabric store. In total you'll need between 5 and 7 meters of tulle depending on the size of your shade but at $2 to $4 a meter more is always better. I purchased regular width tulle in a soft pink that was roughly 60" wide.

Once the lamp shade is free from all glue, fabric and trims you should decide to use it as is or paint the metal frame a similar colour to your tulle. I chose not to paint mine simply because I like the shabby chic look.

Next lay the tulle out on a large table and start cutting the strips. I cut strips 3" wide but you can go smaller or bigger depending on the look you're after. Cut up about half the tulle to start. When tying the tulle again you have options. You can use longer strips and wrap them around a few times with just one tied knot for less frill or do as I did and wrap only once for a fuller, frilly look. I trimmed the tied ends down to about 1 " to have them stand up like a bow would.

To finish off my lamp shade I added a complimentary satin ribbon in the dips, alternating the bows from top to bottom. There are lots of alternative fringes you can choose to create a very unique, one of a kind look!

One final note...If you intend on using this shade with a lamp that is used often you should probably wrap the entire shade with a layer of tulle first and then go back and double over with the tied pieces. This requires almost twice as much tulle but will alleviate the light bulb showing through when lit. 

Overview of the supplies needed
Old lamp shade - super easy to find!
Tulle - start with 5 to 7 meters, 10 or more if your wrap twice
Satin Ribbon or alternative trims

If you make one of these lovelies please do share! I love seeing the pictures of creative variations! I think I'll do one with some old fabric scraps...this post may be continued!
Creative Curator