A LOVE NOTE TO HER GIRLS
WRITTEN BY JAIMEE ROSE * PHOTOS BY JUSTIN HACKWORTH
Stephanie Nielson couldn't wait to see her daughters' faces. On an icy winter day, she set the table with pink stripes, homemade ruffled napkins, and one pretty-in-pink cake. The girls walked in the front door and discovered a table filled with love.
"Oh, mom," said Claire, age 11. "It's so pretty. Look at that cake! Do we get to eat it?"
"This is best day ever," said Jane, 10.
And it was, says Stephanie, a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the blog The NieNie Dialogues. She cleared the afternoon and spent it in the kitchen with her girls -- cutting into an ombre cake, delighting in pink treasures she found at local stores, and making homemade Valentines together.
"I want my kids to know how fun it is to celebrate life," Stephanie says.
A LOVE FOR LIFE
In 2008, a small plane carrying Stephanie, her husband Christian, and their friend Doug Kinneard crashed in eastern Arizona, leaving Stephanie burned over 80 percent of her body. Her husband was burned over 30 percent of his body, and Kinneard passed away. Stephanie fought to live, and then to find reasons to be glad that she had survived. After the crash, Stephanie says, finding joy each day has a new importance.
"I love this holiday," Stephanie says. "I love the colors, and the promise that spring is coming. I love that Christian and I get to celebrate this holiday together, and with our kids. And I love how excited the girls were to see it, like 'This is for me? And we get to do this? And not only do we get to do this, but you're doing it with us?' I love that we get to do this together."
SETTING THE TABLE
"My favorite part was setting up, getting ready for the party -- that's so fun," Stephanie says. She decorated her table with finds from local stores in her hometown of Provo, Utah.
"I love when local stores make their shops pretty," Stephanie says. "It makes the city look good. It makes going for a ride downtown exciting. And when we support local people doing good things, we all benefit. You feel like you belong to a city that cares.
"I always want to be able to take my kids downtown to look in the windows, to stop into the yarn store, to talk with the shopkeeper. I want to keep that up."
Stephanie dreamed of red ice cream sodas with sprinkles on top, heart-shaped pizzas, and a gorgeous ombre cake. She invited her daughters' cousins to come share in the fun, and found everything she needed in her neighborhood. Her friend Megan Brown of The Sweet Tooth Fairy made the cake, cupcakes, and mini cake bites, the soda came from a local sweet shop, and even the ice cream was made in her hometown. A giant jar of pink marshmallows never hurt, either.
Having a party? "Start with a clean house!" Stephanie says. "I can't decorate or create with messy confusion in my home."
MORE FROM NIENIE
To see more of the pretty paper valentines Stephanie crafted with her girls, click here. And how gorgeous is this faux bois tray? Find sources for all of Stephanie's party supplies below. REstyleSOURCE is thrilled to have Stephanie on board as a contributor, and we look forward to bringing you more of her beautiful celebrations. (There might be a first birthday party for a certain baby named Charlotte coming this spring.)
THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS
NieNie found her Valentine favorites here: Pom Pom Interiors: ruffled white tablecloth, $230. * Maison Confiserie et Boutique: white salad plates, dinner plates and champagne candy drops. * Hudson: white candelabra by Dunes and Duchess, $585. * Alice Lane Home Collection: pink cake plate, $100, white footed milk glass round bowls, $40, white footed milk glass square bowl, $50, white ceramic flying pig, $44.90, white cheeseboard with utensils, $110, mason jar with brass lid, $31.25, tulip vases (2 sizes), $45, white butterfly tray, $48.75, macaroon limoges boxes, $10. * Harmony: paper fans, straws, bags, washi tape, napkin fabric and white ruffled trim. * The Children's Hour: polka dot cake server and gingham forks. * Pebbles in My Pocket: scrapbook supplies. * Pizzeria 712 * Provo Bakery: heart-shaped sugar cookies. * The Sweet Tooth Fairy: ombre cake, cupcakes, and cake bites. Enter code NIENIE upon checkout for a 20 percent discount on online orders. Ombre cake available only at select locations. * Blickenstaff's: red cream soda. * White cups, striped table runner, gold flatware and white dog straw holder: Stephanie's own.