Rhythm of the Home co-creator Heather Fontenot is getting ready to release her first book, Naturally Fun Parties For Kids, this month. We sat down and talked to Heather about the challenges of writing a book and the joys of seeing her words come to life. We also talked with her co-author, Anni Daulter, about her inspiration for creating the book and the fun she has in helping her children celebrate all of the major moments in life.
How did you become involved in the writing of Naturally Fun Parties For Kids, and what was the experience like in writing this book?
A few months after I had given birth to my youngest son I received a phone call from Anni asking me if I would like to help write the book, and I jumped at the opportunity. The book was a challenge because we had a little under two months to complete the writing and photography, but it was also an incredible learning experience about how a book comes together, all of the different elements that are needed to make it a success, and really what makes something worth reading. It was the most challenging experience I have had as a writer, but I came away with so much more appreciation for books that I have enjoyed.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process?
I think that my favorite part of the process was creating the actual parties. I have always loved celebrating with my children and I have tried to make each of their milestones momentous occasions and unique celebrations, so this was a fun way to put a lot of the ideas that have been in my head to paper and then to see them come to life through the photography.
Anyone who knows me knows that I spend half of my time in my kitchen, so creating the recipes was certainly the most fun. Having to be responsible for so much testing and culinary creativity put a few extra pounds on my waist, but I loved every minute of it.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to take the leap into writing a book?
The first thing that I would suggest is to be clear about your intentions for the project, and do it for the right reasons. Writing a book sounds like such a glorious endeavor, but can also be a draining process that takes a ton of your time and energy (as it should). I think that the honor of writing a book over took me for a bit and I was overwhelmed at the complexity of all that is involved in the process, but in the end I am so very proud of every word that I wrote and of the vision that Anni created for this project. The inspiration was all hers, I just took that and ran with it the best I could.
What is the inspiration for Naturally Fun Parties for Kids?
The Daulters love to throw parties and with 4 kids and a bunch of friends, we always have a house full of people. I liked the idea of creating a party book that celebrated the natural lifestyle that we live and gave people some fresh ideas for their own gatherings all year round. We are so used to throwing parties for birthdays, but don’t think to gather up some folks to celebrate the budding of spring or summer solstice or just gather kids up for a PJ pancake party. Creating these moments can be fun, simple and beautiful and only need a little imagination, ingenuity and effort. The spirit of each of the parties in the book was to inspire the reader to take the basis of the idea and run with it in ways that suit her own family and each was designed with an eco slant that support a simple and natural lifestyle. I wanted each party to reflect the season, nature, beautiful ideas that can be easily implemented and good healthy food that is out of the pizza party comfort zone. I am very proud of the book and think the parties are fun, beautiful, inspired, creative and reflect a healthy respect for connection, friendship and community.
What do you think are the most important elements of a great party?
Good food, good friends, pretty hanging things, something fun to do and a sweet treat! Really anytime our friends and loved ones get together in the same space we can call it a party, but what makes these more special is taking the care to create special moments that are beautiful and memorable for everyone.
For parents who are considering making a switch from a traditional party to a more natural and sustainable one, what advice would you give?
I want readers to open the book, and be inspired to read it cover to cover. I then want them to be confused about what to try first because everything sounds so darn fun! I love to be inspired and I hope this book feeds the soul of the family who devours the pages, ideas, and photos in ways that connect the family together with each other, their friends, local communities and Mother Nature. Tall order I know…but why not pursue it?! My advise is have fun, keep it simple and try new things and various times of the years. Start new family traditions that will inspire your children as they grow, and mostly, don’t be hard on yourself, laugh and know that everything always works out the way it was meant to.
What is your favorite part of putting together a party for your children?
I love including my kiddos in the preparations and all the energy that builds with creating a celebration. The anticipation is almost too much for them and they love to come up with creative twists to what we already have planned. I LOVE seeing that in action. I can literally see my daughter’s wheels turning in her head as she adds new elements to each celebration we have. I also love marking the seasons as they pass as a way of recording our lives and honoring the earth.
As a little something extra, Heather shares some easy tips on throwing an outdoor strawberry picking party and a recipe for making orange-strawberry jam, and Anni shares her recipe for a beautiful cheesy bread baked in a terra cotta pot.