An “Under the Sea” 5th Birthday Party

This year it was Miss C’s turn to have a “big” birthday party, and she’s been planning it for months. Many months.  First it was going to be a Pirate Party, then a PJ Masks Party, but a little while ago she settled on an “Under the Sea” theme – and we ran with that.

Actually, it ended up being a lot of fun to put together. But then again, kids parties normally are!

Since Christmas we’ve been collecting lots of blue and ocean-themed decorations, mainly from the cheap party shops and e-bay. And with the help of Pinterest, a sea-filled party table came together in no time at all!

The food

The table was laden will lots of sea-themed party food – which despite appearances – were quite easy to throw together.

We had starfish sandwiches (some filled with jam, some with nutella and some with sprinkles) and mermaid munch (honey joys).  There were also blue jelly cups (jazzed up with mandarin boats and umbrellas), clam cookies (chocolate chip cookies filled with buttercream) and seaweed sticks (grapes threaded onto skewers). Most of these I made on the morning of the party so that they would be nice and fresh. I also made a big batch of sausage rolls in advance, which I was able to freeze then reheat during the party.

Oh and my favourite party treat? These adorable ‘crab-wiches’ – mini croissants filled with ham and cheese – made into ‘crabs’ with the help of googly eyes glued to toothpicks.

The Cake

I found inspiration on Pinterest for this grand blue cake, and was a tad nervous about trying the ‘petal’ icing for the first time. I loved how vibrant the buttercream turned out, and though the weather was warm, I managed to pipe something akin to what I had in mind without the buttercream getting too soft.

I “cheated” and bought Dory and Nemo toys as toppers, and then finished the cake with some starfish I made using candy melts and star moulds.

A little rustic, but I think it tied in with the overall theme.

Party Favours

I found some cheap buckets on e-bay and they turned out to be the perfect party favours.

Filled with lollies and some other little treats, and I’m hoping our guests can put the buckets to good use next time they are at the beach!

Entertainment

When I realised that we would have 25+ kids attending, I knew I would need some help in keeping them all entertained. I planned a big pass-the-parcel game, but also hired a party host (a Pirate!) to help with the other entertainment. There were games, a magic show, balloon making and even some face painting – certainly much more than I would have been capable of. And all the kids seemed engaged – so I’m calling it a win!

And so another year, and another big birthday celebration,  came to pass. And, as always, along with the sugar high, I’m left wondering just where the last few years have gone???

Happy 5th Birthday to our beautiful Miss C!  Always full of imagination, a lover of adventures and quite the sensitive soul.

A Very Peppa 2nd Birthday Party

And just like that our snuggly little Jo-Jo went from this…

Then to this…

And now to this!

Yes Little J turned TWO on the weekend and we are left wondering just where the time went (a sentiment that we find ourselves repeating over and over again these days…)

While last year we had a big backyard party to celebrate J’s first birthday, this year was, intentionally, a lot more low key. We are going to alternate ‘big’ parties each year for the girls, and this year it was J’s turn to have a modest party with family only.

But that didn’t mean we couldn’t make it a special day. No sir. It was still filled with pressies, balloons, family, food and all things Peppa Pig.  Not to mention morning games, a scooter race and, of course, lots of birthday cuddles!

And come dinner time, there was no shortage of food. We laid out lots of party favourites – including homemade sausage rolls, homemade chicken nuggets and mini pizzas – plus a spinach & ricotta fritatta and grilled eggplant salad for the grown-ups.

As for the birthday cake – well that was an easy decision. For my Peppa-pig-obsessed girl would want nothing else.

(Vanilla cake, decorated with chocolate biscuits and green icing piped to look like grass. Not forgetting the chocolate ganache ‘muddy puddle’ and a few figurines and flowers to top it all off!!)

The party girl seemed to be a big fan – even if she wasn’t quite sure how to blow out her candles. She did, however, love being sung to – and has requested we sing “Happy Birthday” to her on a daily basis since!

“Two” really has proven, again, to be such a fun age.  Little J is full of personality, and more words are coming every day. She is beyond independent, which both endears me and drives me wild (usually depending on how much of a rush we are in). And even when her tantrums are loud and insistent, it is generally not too long  before she breaks out in a big dimply smile that is simply contagious.

Current loves: yoghurt, milk, her evening routine, Peppa Pig, dogs, gymnastics, bananas and her big sister (and / or anything her big sister is doing, eating, playing with…)

Current dislikes: being told no, veggies as a general rule (!!!), not being able to do things herself.

A very happy birthday to our beautiful, bright, bubbly Little J indeed.

An ‘enchanted forest’ 3rd Birthday Party

Somehow, just somehow, our little girl turns 3 today.

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Clichéd as it may sound, it seems like it was only yesterday that we welcomed her into the world. Yet here we now are – 3 years later – with a spirited and adventurous daughter who make us laugh every single day.

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For months now, Charlotte has been telling me that she wants a ‘Ben and Holly’ party. So I ran with the fairy and elf theme, and before long we had ourselves quite the ‘enchanted forest’ soiree.

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Despite all appearances, we kept the food relatively simple (and appropriately sugar-laden!).

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The gorgeous toadstool cupcakes were courtesy of Little Miss Cupcake (my fondant skills still being in their ‘developmental phase’) while most of the other goodies (jelly, fairy bread etc) could be made in advance…

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As for the cake – well I must admit that I cheated a little. While I made the green ‘grassy’ base using chocolate cake and fondant – the castle itself was actually a cardboard cutout!

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The little Miss was still super excited when she saw the finished product – so I’m calling it a mama win – cheats and all!

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Fortunately we were also blessed with a beautiful sunny day – meaning we could set up the backyard for the kids to run amok.

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The little toadstool set was hired from a local party company – while Mr BBB got creative and adapted a regular trestle table into “kids” size (we figured we’ve got plenty more kids parties ahead of us!!). As for entertainment, we had a lovely fairy entertainer drop by and read stories,  play games and ‘glitter-fy’ the kids.  The trampoline was also a hit, as always, and there was no shortage of snacks and dressups.

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Overall – it was so very wonderful to celebrate this milestone with our nearest and dearest. For decorations and cakes aside, it was having all her family together that really brought a smile to the birthday girl’s face!

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Wishing you a very happy 3rd Birthday my beautiful girl. May the year ahead be filled with wonder and adventure! — Oh – and just because I can’t help but take a trip down memory lane…

party Where did our baby girl go???

A farmyard 2nd birthday party

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Well what a wonderful weekend that just was. One that was filled to the brim with family, friends and a llama….

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Say what?! For when Miss C’s love of animals became apparent a little while ago – so did the theme for her 2nd birthday party.

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A farmyard frolic!

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As always, I had so much fun planning and preparing for this special occasion. Some things I purchased, some were handmade, and some were a combination of both. Pinterest became my best friend, and it wasn’t too long before the theme really began to take shape.

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(Idea taken from here).

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With pink gingham as my colour inspiration, I couldn’t resist creating a dessert table with farmyard inspired treats…

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Including fruit and jelly cups, chocolate mousse ‘muddy puddles’, trail mix ‘chicken feed’, pretzel ‘ropes’ and a beetroot dip and‘veggie patch’. And as for the all important cake – well this was a prime example of how homemade + store-bought can often work well together.

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For while I made the actual mud cake, and (with the assistance of my niece) managed to apply the green fondant and fence posts – the adorable animal toppers and plaque were purchased from here.

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As were the cute cupcake toppers that I placed onto mini muffins.

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And while the cake was certainly a little rustic in parts – at least the bits that we made – Miss C seemed thrilled and even managed to blow out her own candles!

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For beverages we served a fruit punch, made simply with tropical juice, ginger-ale, fruit and lemonade.

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Along with the other usual suspects….champagne, beer, soft drinks and “moo juice” for the kiddies. And as for the goodie bags, well these were simply brown paper bags, finished with some gingham ribbon and a handmade thankyou note card. Filled with lollies and toys – and an advance apology to the parents for any lolly-bag induced sugar highs.

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And not even a last minute sign painting fail could dampen our spirits, particularly when the stars of the party arrived shortly thereafter. For what farmyard party would be complete without the animals?  Lambs, chickens, baby goats and even …

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Hamish the llama!! Not to mention Mamma rabbit and her two week old babies!

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Needless to say – the kids (and adults, for that matter) had a lot of fun patting and playing with these beautiful and gentle creatures throughout the afternoon – when our normally boring backyard was transferred into a farm for the day!

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It was so very wonderful to have our house filled with the laughter and squeals of 11 little kiddies – as they frolicked with the animals, painted and jumped to their hearts content on the trampoline.

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And as for the birthday girl, well she didn’t rest for a moment. Between stealing chippies, blowing bubbles and ripping open presents…. well I think she was in her element the whole time.

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(Her gorgeous skirt + hair bows came courtesy of an ever-talented friend….) Needless to say, the birthday girl didn’t need much encouragement to go to sleep when it came to bed time that evening (nor did I)!

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Overall – it was a fun day – and one that I hope C and her little guests enjoyed. I still can’t quite believe she is two. For it feels like only yesterday that we had her Cheeky Monkey 1st Birthday Party!

2 years today

Today, my little girl turns two. IMG_7546 Gone is my squishy little newborn, and in her place I find an energetic and fiercely independent toddler. IMG_7345 Who doesn’t walk, but runs. Usually at full speed and with a mischievous glint in her eye. IMG_6466 Who loves being outdoors, and exploring new places, particularly if they involve water, animals or paint! IMG_6406IMG_7385IMG_6799 Who is a rather quirky individual, and makes me laugh no less than twenty times a day. Be it pulling a goofy face, bossing me around the house, or being just plain silly. I love it all so much! IMG_6143IMG_5786IMG_5690 IMG_5493 It is not uncommon for C to point and order me to “sit down mama” or demand “come here mama”, with a stern and serious look on her face. IMG_7659 (I’m not sure where she gets the bossiness from hehe?) Her sense of independence also sees her striding confidently through the shops, waving to people, introducing herself and regaling them with stories from the day. The downside being that I can’t take my eyes off her for a second because she will undoubtedly disappear! IMG_6260IMG_7340 But the tantrums. Oh the tantrums. For a sense of independence apparently brings with it a little bit of diva, and she is sure to let us know if she is not happy. IMG_6317 Although it is rarely long before she is back to being her cheeky self. IMG_7508IMG_5219 And this girl is a chatterbox – constantly talking and bossing, and pretending to talk on the phone! IMG_7597 It has actually been rather wonderful to be able to engage with her in a communicative sense, and hear all her little stories from the day. Although she did tell me that there is a rat at Nanna’s house, which I’m yet to figure out? I wouldn’t necessarily call her a ‘girly girl’, for she  prefers Thomas the Tank Engine to princesses, and loves helping her daddy with tasks around the home. IMG_5361IMG_5325 But there are, of course,  moments where she most certainly is a little girl – with dance classes being a weekly favourite! IMG_7114 On the food front, her appetite varies. She’s not necessarily fussy – just a bit hit and miss when it comes to eating. Some days she wants little more than her beloved yoghurt and cheese, while other days I can’t seem to fill her up? IMG_6607IMG_6880 Some recent favourites? Roast duck and camembert cheese. Yup this little is a foodie in the making apparently? One thing that is a constant – is her love for water – as evidenced by the multiple bottles littered throughout our house, the care, my bags… IMG_6477 A habit I am most certainly encouraging  though – and could probably learn from myself. While I am a little sad that she is growing up so fast, I love that C is still at an age where ‘magic mama kisses’ can make everything better. So much so, that she will now offer to “kiss better” if she accidentally bumps into me or I stub my toe. IMG_5540 She has beautiful manners, full of please and thankyous – and will even say “sorry” to herself if she bumps into something. Cuteness overload. She is also showing a great fondness for books, and reads with her daddy every evening and at other times throughout the day. IMG_7450 IMG_7638 Speaking of which, she is almost certainly a Daddy’s girl, and what a great Daddy he is. Every day C will wait at the window for him to get home from work – squealing with glee when his car or bike pulls up. IMG_7458 IMG_7652 In sum, the past two years have been nothing short of wonderful, and I think Mr BBB and I have learned more about ourselves than we ever thought possible. Seeing “life” through the eyes of our spunky toddler has been truly amazing – and I’ve loved every moment spent together as a family. IMG_7343 So to my beautiful daughter on your second birthday, thankyou for bringing so much love and laughter into our lives. We feel truly blessed to be your parents, and to have watched you grow over the last 2 years. IMG_5960 You have us all enamoured, and wrapped around your little finger. But if its ok with you, can you please slow down on the whole growing up thing lol IMG_5548 Now let’s go eat cake!

1 year ago today…

1 year ago today, we welcomed the most amazing girl into our lives. IMG_5403 Each and every day since then has been a grand adventure, as we watch her learn and grow, and change from a little baby into a happy go-lucky 1 year old. IMG_8463 I have so much to say about the weekend we have just had, and the milestone that is turning 1… IMG_8780 But for now, let me just wish this beautiful girl of ours a very happy 1st birthday! IMG_8634 You are so loved my little Smidge xx

31 today

Thankyou all for your lovely comments re my last post – it seems that ‘mummy-guilt’ is fairly common place.  I just need to relax a little – which the rational part of me knows will not only be good for me, but Charlotte also. If only the irrational part of me would listen! Today has been a splendid one, thus far. For I went to sleep aged 30, and woke up a year older. And what better way to celebrate another year passing by than with my little family. I did have to go into work for a while this morning, but was greeted on my return  home by a big bunch of flowers courtesy of Mr BBB and Miss C… IMG_7189 And the promise of a shopping trip in the near future to select a new piece of artwork for our main living area. Most excited indeed! Oh and in other exciting (and well timed for my birthday) news…I was thrilled to find out that I made it through to the next round of the Gourmet Garden Cook Off / Blog Off competition. So yours truly will be competing in a “cook off” at the Sydney Good Food and Wine Festival in June. Exited? Yes! Nervous? Most certainly!!! Perhaps my impending birthday has had something to do with the sense of nostalgia I have experienced recently. For I have found myself reflecting more and more on the changes that have taken place in my life over the last 12 months. Big, wonderful changes. Last year  I celebrated my 30th birthday with a Moroccan dinner party with friends and family at home… mo And this year I am celebrating my birthday with the newest addition to our life. mum The last 12 months really have been nothing short of amazing. I travelled both nationally and internationally. I ran, I biked, I baked. I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon. I boated next to the Niagara Falls. I got pregnant, grew a baby and gave birth to our daughter. I went from blonde, to brunette and back to blonde again. We landscaped our yard. I gained 13kg, and lost 11kg. I went from working full time, to working part-time from home. I feel as if I have grown as a person. And my birthday wish from this time last year came true… IMG_7068 Time for a photo trip down memory lane… P6120012P6120016P6180023P6190030recap9IMG_0103IMG_0110  IMG_5130IMG_0042IMG_0085IMG_0424IMG_0142IMG_0859IMG_0525IMG_0683 IMG_1568 IMG_1600IMG_1634IMG_1010IMG_1253IMG_1259IMG_1854IMG_1891IMG_1972IMG_2001IMG_2111recap8donutsIMG_4085IMG_4206IMG_4231IMG_4247PC010019PB120009rearrearleftIMG_4306IMG_4505IMG_4545IMG_4546IMG_4594IMG_5916IMG_4685P2150001IMG_5192IMG_5200IMG_6994IMG_7008IMG_5908P4290001 Who knows what the next year will bring? All I know is…I’m pretty excited to find out!

Lemon meringue cheesecake

IMG_4502 Mr BBB celebrates a birthday later this week. And, as we will be away on his actual birthday, we decided to hold a birthday dinner with his family a little early. Our favourite local Thai restaurant provided the scrumptious main meal, but we headed home for dessert. For we had birthday cake awaiting us. And not just any old birthday cake…. IMG_4512 But a cake that was inspired by Mr BBB’s favourite sweet treat – lemon meringue pie. Adapted to be gluten free, and made into a cheesecake. ie. a lemon meringue cheesecake! The base was rather easy – owing to these GF biscuits I found at our local grocery store. IMG_4485 IMG_4486 Crushed, and combined with melted butter. IMG_4487 Then pressed into the base of a lined spring-form pan. IMG_4488 Topped with the cheesecake layer – made with cream cheese, eggs, sugar and lemon rind. IMG_4489 Baked for 1 hour, and finished with a thick layer of lemon curd (store bought….I cheated).

IMG_4492 And set in the fridge overnight. On the day of serving, all I had to do was finish the cake with a layer of meringue. IMG_4493 Egg whites and sugar, whisked until firm, then piped on top the cheesecake layer. IMG_4494 Baked for a further 10 minutes until the meringue had browned slightly… IMG_4508 And our lemon meringue birthday cheesecake was complete! IMG_4501 IMG_4500 Between the buttery base… IMG_4504 The creamy cheesecake and tart lemon curd centre… IMG_4505 And not to mention the fluffy sweet meringue…. IMG_4502 This cake ended up being quite the lovely adaptation of an old classic. IMG_4507 Minus the hassle of attempting GF pastry! IMG_4519 The slices we served were certainly well received for dessert, so I am calling this baking experiment a win! IMG_4522 Although, can you really go wrong when lemon and meringue are involved??? IMG_4524 I think not. Lemon meringue cheesecake (GF)

  • 250g GF biscuits
  • 120g butter, melted
  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup + 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2tbs lemon curd (make sure it is GF)
  • 3 eggs + 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly grease a round spring-form cake pan, and line base with baking paper.
  2. Process biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs. Add the melted butter, and pulse until combined. Press the biscuit mixture into the prepared tin, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, beat 3 eggs and 3/4 cup caster sugar, until light and creamy.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and lemon rind until smooth.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the cream cheese mixture, and continue to beat until smooth (do not overbeat!).
  6. Pour atop the biscuit base, and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, and allow to cool in the oven with the door ajar.
  7. Once cooled, spread the lemon curd over the surface of the cheesecake, and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  8. To make the meringue – beat 4 egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1 cup of sugar, a little at a time, whisking until they become stiff peaks and the sugar has incorporated.
  9. Fold through the cornflour, and spoon the meringue into a piping bag. Pipe rounds of the meringue onto the top of the prepared cheesecake, until the surface is mostly covered.
  10. Place in a hot oven (220C) for 10 minutes, or until browned lightly.
  11. Remove and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before serving.

A Magical Moroccan Dinner Party

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Thankyou all for your sweet comments, tweets and general warm wishes for my 30th birthday. I must say, I have had the most wonderful couple of days – and was fortunate enough to have birthday celebrations that were beyond even my wildest expectations. Friends and family – coming together for great food and lots of laughs. Could a birthday celebration be anymore perfect?! And, to say that I was spoilt, would be an understatement. I was truly blown away by the generosity of my nearest and dearest, and I really am so very blessed (but more on that to come tomorrow). Ok enough mushy sentiment, let me share with you the highlight of my weekend. My Magical Moroccan Dinner Party.

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Taking advantage of the large living area in our new house, I decided to hold a dinner party for 40 people. We hired chairs, tables and cutlery, and with the help of cheap fabrics, candles and vases, we transformed our living room from this….

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To this!

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I am not really sure how I came up with the Moroccan theme for the party. All I know is that I wanted something elegant, yet festive and filled with flavour.

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I am pretty certain we delivered – thanks to the wonderful efforts of my family and best friend who worked with me all of Saturday morning and afternoon to decorate the house and prepare the food! I chose orange, red and purple as the main colours for the party, using orange hessian as the table cloths…

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with strips of patterned material for the table runners.

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In the centre of each table we placed a large vase filled with these gorgeous red flowers and some greenery.

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At each place setting was a little trivia card about Morocco – which I am told were quite the conversation starters amongst our guests.

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We placed our couches outside (under a large heater that we had hired), providing a little ‘break out’ space.

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And lined the entry hallway with luminaries.

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But it wasn’t just about the decorations……for what dinner party is complete without food. Glorious food. Our wonderful local Turkish restaurant provided the entrees:

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A selection of dips / Turkish bread, and stuffed vine leaves (and some warm zucchini balls that went un-pictured as they were gobbled up so quickly!) Served communally on large platters.

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While the main menu was made up of a variety of slow cooked Moroccan tagines and meatballs…

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Some of which I have shared on the blog before (here and here) during our trial runs. There was plenty of food at the start, and not too much at the end, so they can’t have been too bad lol. We served the dishes buffet style, and our guests were able to come and help themselves.

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And the feedback was all positive, with the lamb and date tagine emerging as the clear winner! But now….onto dessert 🙂

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Or a dessert buffet if you will! I used my DIY art technique to make the colourful ‘back boards’ for the buffet, and we were loaned some red lamps that gave the table a real Moroccan feel. But the star of the evening was a glorious macaron tower…

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filled with a variety of macarons supplied by our local French Patisserie.

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As well as freshly made baklava from the local Turkish restaurant.

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ok ok –  not so Moroccan but tasty nonetheless! It really was one of those nights that disappeared in the blink of an eye.

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It felt like I had only just said ‘hello’ to my friends and family, when midnight rolled around and the crowd began to dissipate.  The night turned out even better than I had hoped, and created so many wonderful “new” memories…

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While also having the chance to reminisce about some “old” memories 🙂  A wonderful night indeed!