Isla’s First Birthday

Last weekend we celebrated Isla’s first birthday. I love birthdays and celebration and this one came with a lot of emotion for me. My challenge to myself is to make sure that even in those moments we’re caring for people and planet with the choices we make and what comes into our home.  I don’t want to overlook people and planet for traditions, norms or felt needs of celebration. Often there are things we feel like we “need” to have for a “real” celebration and my goal is to rewrite those needs and to find ways to look at what we can do sustainably and centre celebration around those things rather than having things we feel the need to do regardless of how sustainable they are.

I’ve found a huge part of this is planning – last minute events are ones with much higher impact so I start planning early. From rush shipping, to having less time to source foods and items well or second hand – a last minute celebration is usually a higher impact one so I put things in the diary early – like planning Christmas as soon as the summer is over!


Isla wears almost entirely second hand clothes, out of my own emotion surrounding her birthday I wanted her to have something of her own for this event that she can keep forever. Her dress was handmade by a friend that will fit her as a dress and then as a top when she’s bigger. To remove even more impact I could have gone with charity shop fabric but we went with GOTS fair trade organic cotton.

Isla’s Dress: Handmade by a friend (this ETSY seller) with GOTS cotton and is something I’ll treasure forever!
My top: Boody Cami body suit that I live in! (USA/EU/UK/Australia)
My earrings: Hammered hoops from ABLE (get $20 off with this link)
Necklace: Shop GoldBug LOVE face with a Little by Little Jewellery Mustard ring on the chain.
Lip Colour: Orchid Lip Sheer from Beautycounter – see it HERE.


I did a small smash cake for Isla, chocolate cake sweetened with pureed dates and a larger four tier one for everyone else with organic cane sugar.  I used THIS flexible cake recipe from the blog for both.  This will make sense when you read the recipe but I used a 6 by 6 in an 8″ square pan for Isla’s and cut out 4 circles to stack into the cake above. For the large one I did a 16 by 16 batter in 4 circular 8″ diameter tins and stacked them. 


I made a simple whipped fair trade white chocolate ganache (this ganache recipe) and coloured it with ¼ cup blackberries strained through a sieve and stirred in at the end of whipping the ganache. 

The candle is from Goldrick Natural Living – a store I LOVE in the US and UK for beeswax products and simple zero waste living products. Package Free Shop in the US stocks both the beeswax number candles and small cake candles. ​​


We got Isla an Olli Ella doll (price wise it’s an expensive one (wait for sales cos they come around often) We also love and have Hazel Village dolls but I went Olli Ella as you can’t get Hazel Village in the UK and I wanted to try a new brand. I’m very careful on the toys we purchase for our home – Olli Ella is a B Corporation marketplace for sustainably made and unique kids toys and I’ve been watching these dolls for years! Dinkum Doll bodies are made from 100% cotton and the shoes are made from BPA & Phthalate free PVC. She already loves hers. 

We always make clear that gifts are not required from friends and family and on invites we use phrases like

“There’s no need to bring a gift at all we just want to celebrate with you, if you’d like to pass on a preloved gift or book from your own home will be much loved in ours.” 

Isla got a book from my parents and the above beautiful wooden coffee maker toy from my sister from Manhattan toy company Their website says: “Because we make products for infants and young kids, we have a binding obligation to ensure the future of our planet is the best it can be.”  Isla has really taken to it and I would 100% buy it as a gift! 

Another family member got her a charity shop gift and a handmade headband. 


Instead of a real party we invited friends to a local outdoor coffee shop we love with coffee from a roaster we love. We opened a tab for drinks for a low prep (and probably lower budget!) way to celebrate than a party and did cake afterwards at home just with family and my granny. 

All the real non iphone shots in this blog are photos by Johanna Lees my New York based and much cooler than me photographer sister who ‘aims to capture beauty in the normalcy of life… and to communicate the beauty found in real, honest moments.’ She’s currently in England and has a few slots for family, individual or brand sessions in August if you’re in the Sussex area. You can contact her at for summer mini session UK rates! Browse her shoots (including an Isla newborn shoot!) HERE.