A teddy bear picnic 1st birthday party

And just like that, our littlest one is not so little. For a few weeks ago she turned ONE!

I am seriously shocked at just how quickly the first year went. It feels like only yesterday we were on our way to the hospital to meet Miss Maggie, and introduce her to her sisters. Yet here we are, one year later, and Maggie is simply thriving.

To celebrate, we decided on a Teddy Bear picnic themed party. Something that could be hosted indoors if need be (thanks to the ever-reliable Canberra winter weather), although we were pretty lucky that the sun was shining all day and it ended up being not too bad outside at all.

Family came from near and far to join in the celebrations, as did some of our friends. And the birthday girl loved the attention (and the cake!).

The theme

We brought the outdoors ‘indoors’ with the help of an awesome printed backdrop and some fake grass. Red gingham featured heavily, as did an abundance of teddy bears of course!

The food

I always worry that I am planning too much food – but there is rarely much leftover! On this occasion we served afternoon tea – homemade sausage rolls, teddy bear paw cookies, chocolate mousse, fruit cups, honey joys, gummi bears, `teddy bear trail mix` and teddy bear biscuits – of course.

The entertainment

Well no party would be complete without a little entertainment, and Maggie is fortunate enough to have an Uncle that is more than happy to help out! Yes our little picnic had its very own special guest – in the form of a big cuddly teddy bear! Followed by dancing and story-time with Dad (“We’re going on a Bear Hunt…” of course).

The cake

I ended up making two cakes for the occasion. The birthday cake was chocolate mud, covered with peanut butter icing. Topped with the most gorgeous topper created by the very talented Janelle!

And well being a first birthday, I couldn’t resist having a cake smash session too! Maggie wasted no time in demolishing (and eating) this little teddy bear cake.

And so another first birthday came to a close, and I am filled with nostalgia thinking on just how quickly time passes us all by.

Happy first birthday – beautiful Margaret.  The joy you bring our family is truly endless. Here’s hoping your second year is filled with lots of love, laughter and adventures!

xx

Father’s Day 2017

Father’s Day is becoming quite the event as our girls grow. Homemade presents are in abundance (thanks to School and Daycare), and the girls seem to be at that perfect age and have a wonderful time spoiling their Dad on his special day.

After a relaxing morning filled with presents and cuddles, our annual Father’s Day tradition continued with a family lunch. And, as is the case each year, we selected an international theme for the meal.

This year – it was all things Greek! Starring freshly picked lemons and rosemary from our garden to give the table a Mediterranean feel.

We actually opted for a late lunch (linner), as it works well with the girls’ nap times and means that they can join us for the meal. Although as is the case each year, linner soon turns into dinner, as we chat and eat our way through the afternoon and into the evening.

On the menu this year?

Spinach and feta pinwheels to start – that I made the day before and reheated just before serving. Washed down with a pre-lunch cocktail – of course – a Santorini Sunrise.

Made with vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.

For the main course – we served chicken souvlaki skewers, keftedes, roasted lemon potatoes, a burghul salad and a green salad. With homemade tzatziki and a fig and olive relish on the side, along with some flatbread.

And for dessert? This rather impressive-looking baklava cheesecake (recipe here).

A lovely baked vanilla cheesecake, with a honey / nut crumble and enclosed in filo pastry. Served with a honey cinnamon syrup. YUM!

And so another Father’s Day celebration came to an end, with full bellies and lots of laughs.

Adding another country to our list of Father’s Day lunch destinations too!

2013 – China

2014 – Turkey

2015 – Mexico

2016 – Italy

 

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.

Australia Day 2017

You might recall that last year we indulged in a full tasting menu for Australia Day. Yes, 8 courses that took us on a culinary tour around the Country – celebrating fresh, local and seasonal produce.

And while this year was much more ‘low key’, we still filled the day with family and food, and a favourite pastime – a morning hike!

Needless to say after the morning’s outdoor adventures, we were quite hungry when the afternoon rolled around. Our family joined us for an early dinner – and with the temperature exceeding 30 degrees outside, a BBQ seemed to be the most logical, if not sanest, choice.

On the menu?

Some homemade sausages by our local butcher. Served with a few “Aussie-themed” sides.

Starting with a mango macadamia salad – comprising of salad leaves, fresh mango, avocado and macadamias. Dressed simply with a mixture of lime juice, seeded mustard, oil and sliced red chilli.

I also turned on the oven for 20 minutes or so, in order to make another iconic Australian side…damper! Flavoured with camembert and cracked pepper (and these turned out very moreish indeed).

For dessert we kept things pretty simple. Instead of a large pavlova, I went with mini versions instead. Topped with cream, lemon curd and a fresh raspberry.


And to keep us hydrated, we served a fresh fruit cocktail.

Akin to a punch – I guess you’d say – made with vodka, coconut rum, cooled tea, pineapple juice and ginger ale – finished with some frozen honeydew balls, mint and raspberry.

And so another Australia Day came to pass  – and we retired to bed with full bellies and fond memories of the day.

What about you? What did you get up to this Australia Day?

2016 – A Year in Review

I’ve heard a lot of people lamenting 2016 – and bidding it a quick and eager farewell. For us, though, 2016 was a good year. Sure, there were some less than stellar moments dotted throughout (but that’s generally the case isn’t it?) but for the most part, we finally managed to strike an ok work / life balance. We also made it through the year with good health and in good spirits, such that we enter 2017 with a sense of anticipation for what the new year might bring.

But before I turn to our hopes and aims for the year to come, it seems only fair to recap the year that was. 

January 

Summer holidays continued in full swing. We celebrated a late Christmas linner, devoured a 8-course Australia Day ‘tasting menu‘, and spent time playing tourist in our home town.

February

Josie turned ONE(!), Charlotte started Pre-School(!) and we took a week-long cruise around New Caledonia (see here, here, here and here).

March

Charlotte turned FOUR, we celebrated Easter and took lots of family hikes.

April

We took more family hikes, cheered on the Brumbies, went camping and got all dressed up for a costume party!

May

We celebrated Mother’s Day, took more hikes,  and had lots of little adventures – both indoors and out.

June

With the Canberra Winter having arrived, we had lots of fun indoors. We also took a girl’s road trip down to Melbourne to catch up with family and visit the zoo!

July

We had dance classes, visitors in town and lots of good food.

August

We celebrated Book Week, took a quick trip to Melbourne and then a family holiday to Fiji!

September

We celebrated Father’s Day – Italian Style, painted, created a fairy garden and flew a kite.

October

We took another trip to Melbourne, the girls dressed up for Halloween and the husband and I went on a “Bloody Long Walk” for charity.

November

We baked, we went to the Circus, we visited the Show and we celebrated our dear friends’ wedding in Thredbo (where we played in snow!).  

December

We ate, we drank, we partied.  We took a quick trip to Melbourne to celebrate my nephew’s 1st birthday. Then we had lots of family arrive into town, and celebrated Christmas accordingly.

And so our 2016 came to a close. Filled to the brim with new memories, time spent with family and a seemingly better balance between work and play (well better than in previous years, that’s for sure!!).

Here’s to an even bigger and better 2017!

Our Australia Day ‘Tasting’ Menu

This year we decided to celebrate Mr BBB’s birthday on Australia Day – for the whole family had the day off (and his actual birthday is only a day later in any event).

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It seemed only appropriate to go with a very Australian theme, but I struggled to settle on a menu. For every region of this beautiful Country seems to have its own unique flavours, tastes and influences – and it would be shame to overlook them.

Then I had a lightbulb moment. I would create a menu of ‘tastes’, and take our family on a culinary tour of Australia. Inspired by and hopefully highlighting local and native flavours.

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My big goal was to use only Australian produce and ingredients, and I am pleased to report that with the help of the markets, delis and local stores, that goal was met

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Tasmania

We started our tour in Tasmania – a State that I have never visited but heard so many wonderful things about.

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Our first dish was created using Tasmanian Huon smoked salmon, dill crème fraiche (Yea) and cucumber –  resulting in a lovely little canapé to start our meal.

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From there we headed across the Bass Straight to Victoria, where ricotta and Beechworth honey were the key ingredients in our second dish.

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On the menu? Ricotta crostini with ricotta, pear, walnuts and honey.

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Washed down with a Napoleone & Co apple / pear cider from the Yarra Valley.

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Australian Capital Territory

We headed to my hometown next, and I knew that smoked chicken from Poacher’s Pantry had to feature (yes, yes, I know it is technically located just over the border but we can claim it as our own surely??!).

IMG_6311 Our third dish of the day was a smoked chicken tarlet, with a homemade rocket pesto and bush tomato relish from Posh Nosh (a local creator of all things relish!).

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New South Wales

We then continued our journey north, stopping in New South Wales for a salad.

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Created with spinach, apples, feta and wild cherries, dressed with a tasty black genoa fig vinegar from the Hunter Valley.

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Queensland

Next stop – the Sunshine state. With gorgeous Tiger prawns and an abundance of tropical fruit as our focus.

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I marinated the prawns in a little oil and lemon zest, then they were cooked on the BBQ. Accompanied by a fruit salsa – comprising pineapple, mango, nectarine and mint.

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Served with a Pepper Tree Pinot Gris.

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Northern Territory

Then it was onto the Northern Territory – with barramundi as our key ingredient.

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Seasoned with native lemon pepper from Herbies, and cooked on the BBQ. Finished with a little Murrumbooee mango and tamarind chutney on the side.

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On the side? Some freshly baked wattleseed damper rolls.

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Western Australia

We then headed west for our last savoury dish of the day (letting out our belt-buckles as we went). I couldn’t resist including kangaroo on the menu (and it turns out that Little J is a big fan!).

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Marinated in white wine and ground pepperberry, and cooked on the BBQ. Served on a carrot puree with a red wine and pepperberry jus.

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Enjoyed with a glass of Marmaduke Shiraz.

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South Australia

Our last stop for the day was South Australia. With inspiration taken from its gorgeous wine regions.

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To conclude our meal? Sparkling Shiraz jellies – with raspberries and blueberries. A sweet ending.

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And just like that our culinary trip around Australia was complete. Although not before squeezing in a few games of Australia Day bingo (or should that be Australia Day ‘cooee’).

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It was definitely a fun afternoon, sampling so many unique flavours. Not to mention rekindling a love for local ingredients and suppliers, discovering some new favourite products along the way.

What about you? How did you spend your Australia Day?

Weekend

As I mentioned earlier, I was determined to make this a good weekend. And I’m pleased to report that it was just that. Filled with family and with friends. We started with a trip “around the world” – strolling through the Multicultural Festival on Saturday… IMG_7119IMG_7125IMG_7130IMG_7138 Indulging in loukoumades along the way, and stopping for an amazingly refreshing apple and strawberry iced tea when we sought respite from the heat and the crowds. And we finished our weekend with an Indian feast prepared by my mother in law on Sunday … IMG_7201IMG_7203IMG_7188IMG_7209 I also got to bake….and bike 30ks with Mr BBB – which both made for a fantastic weekend also. IMG_7163IMG_7213 Not to mention being able to savour the quiet times with my little family too. IMG_7092 All in all – the weekend was just what I needed! What about you? What did you get up to this weekend?

Multicultural Festival 2013

hello *waves* – yes I am still here! Just settling into a new work routine, (Charlotte had her first day in childcare yesterday) and we have been busy catching up with friends and working on the (dreaded) garden beds. But rather than bore you with all of that, let’s focus on the fun part of our weekend – attending this year’s Multicultural Festival. Which was, as always, bustling with energy and (more importantly) a-maaazing food from all around the globe. IMG_0986 Bright and early on Sunday , we packed up the little Miss and headed in for a late morning wander around the stalls. IMG_0971 And, as is normal for these types of events, it wasn’t long until the delicious aromas had our bellies rumbling and we found ourselves lured to all sorts of food stalls. IMG_0973 IMG_0974IMG_0975 IMG_0976 My personal favourites of the day? – A delicious Mallawach wrap (a Jewish Yemeni bread) filled with tomato, ricotta and chilli (I am hoping to make this at home sometime soon). – Some tasty vegetarian kofte, drizzled in a rich tomato sauce – A delightful plate of pad thai IMG_0977IMG_0978 Even the little Miss got in on the action, and tried everything that we did! IMG_0983 But my absolute favourite of the day?? Loukoumades! A Greek fried dough, soaked in sugar syrup and topped with cinnamon and ground nuts. IMG_0989 Oh my lord these were good. Too good. IMG_0999 A perfect family day out!

Fathers, footy and food

If my weekend was to be summed up in 3 words ….”fathers, footy and food” would certainly be my words of choice. IMG_8343 And boy was it wonderful! Miss C loved meeting her “Jonpa” for the first time – and by the smiles on his face, I suspect the feeling was well and truly mutual. IMG_8303 IMG_8309IMG_8307 She also loved the teddy bear he gave her – and wasted no time in giving it her seal of approval…. IMG_8253 yep – straight into her mouth! We rugged up on Saturday, and headed to the local footy for C’s first AFL game… IMG_8264IMG_8268IMG_8270 But when the sun started to disappear, and the temperature dropped along with it, we decided to escape the cold and watch a game from the comforts (and warmth!) of home instead… IMG_8293 Much better! Footy and father’s aside, our weekend was also about food. Perhaps a post for another day, but here is a preview. A baked potato buffet… IMG_8319IMG_8328 Chocolate mousse… IMG_8290 And brunch with all the trimmings… IMG_8332IMG_8333 A meal spent with family… IMG_8336 And memories made. IMG_8340 A delightful weekend all round! What about you? Do you have a unique name for any of your grandparents?

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to all! IMG_4236 Mr BBB and I have just returned from a wonderful few days spent with family in Melbourne. And, although the time never seems to be long enough, with many kilometres travelled (and many toilet breaks taken along the way!) we managed to spend at least a little time with each of our nearest and dearest. IMG_4235 Our celebrations began on Christmas Eve, continued all day Christmas Day… xmaslunch2 Well into Boxing Day… xmas And beyond also… IMG_4241 There was food… IMG_4233 xmaslunch So much food… IMG_4225 IMG_4131 IMG_4175 IMG_4115 There were laughs… xmaslunch3 There were presents… xmas2 (even for those of us that can’t yet unwrap them!) IMG_4075 - Copy  IMG_4069 There was a family Boxing Day cricket match, played on a pitch with a farm view… IMG_4197 Spectators… IMG_4172 And baby BBB’s first cricket game being played…. IMG_4205 poorly Winking smile  IMG_4206 There were many walks taken to balance out the abundance of good food. In suburbia… IMG_4085 The country… IMG_4229 IMG_4231 IMG_4232 Past the cows… IMG_4230 And through the bush! IMG_4245  IMG_4251IMG_4247 And there were picnics amongst the trees. IMG_4252 IMG_4253IMG_4255 Overall, our 2011 Christmas celebrations were just as I had hoped. Fun and family filled – but also relaxed and carefree! It’s hard to believe that this time next year we will have a 9 month old daughter along for the ride! What about you? What did you get up to over Christmas?