A “Frozen” 4th Birthday Party

And just like that, our little Josephine is not so little. She turned 4 this week and, because I really can’t help myself when it comes to kids parties, we threw her a big birthday bash!

Her chosen theme was “Frozen” – for she is pretty much obsessed with the movie at the moment. I’m not sure whether it is the sister storyline, the silly Olaf antics or the fact that her favourite colour is blue (or perhaps that she shares Elsa’s hair colour) – but there was no doubt in her mind that Frozen would be the theme. No doubt. At all.

So her wish was my command! Blue, blue and more blue, with lots of snowflakes and sparkles – which was rather funny given that it was a hot and sunny 35C day outside.

The food

I opted for food that I could largely make ahead. We had muffins, fruit, Sven’s snacks (hummus cups with vegetable dippers), rice bubble slice, snowflake cookies, sandwiches and floating Olaf jelly cups. Not to mention the usual array of chips and lollies, and some homemade sausage rolls.

To drink – we offered apple juice, lemonade (coloured with a little blue food colouring) and bottles of “melted snowman”. Josie was positively horrified when she saw the kids drinking the water bottles though, exclaiming on more than one occasion “noooooo! ewwwww you are drinking Olaf!!!!!”.

The cake

Another year on and J is still not a fan of eating cake – but she is certainly still a huge fan of the ritual that comes with a birthday cake. The colour, the candles, the song – she loves it!

I kept things pretty simple this year (aka I cheated) – covering some pre-made mudcakes with Nutella frosting, and using white chocolate wafers as a border. Topped with blue sprinkles and some fondant snowflakes, along with a custom topper, and you’d never know that it took no time at all to put together.

And yes, the birthday girl was suitably impressed!

The entertainment

As we had around 16 little ones to keep entertained, ranging in age from 7 months to 10 years, I left the entertainment to the professionals – and I am so glad that I did. Lucy Sparkles and Friends sent both Elsa AND Anna – who had the kids utterly captivated with their singing, dancing and games .

The favours

I can never resist sending our little guests home with a treat to thank them for coming. I found some great snowflake boxes online, which Charlotte and Josie had a great time helping me fill with an array of treats.

And before we knew it, it was time for our little “Elsa” to say goodbye to her friends (and start to recover from her sugar high). Safe to say she had a truly wonderful day!

And I’m left wondering – just how is it that she is FOUR already?!

2018 – A year in review

This year, we actually were awake at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We had spent the afternoon at our friends’ place swimming in their pool and watching all the kids have a ball. Champagne was drunk, great food was eaten and many laughs were had.

But for me the evening wasn’t just about celebrating the start of a new year, but also about remembering what a wonderful year we had just had. For while many people seemed to be wishing away the year that was, on reflection, we had a pretty amazing year. Sure – there were the usual ‘stresses’ associated with a busy work and home life, a seemingly never-ending Winter and lots of other little challenges thrown in along the way, but for the most part we had a lot of fun. Good health, lots of adventures and so many wonderful memories made. Not to mention a little baby that turned into a toddler before our very eyes!

In January we had found ourselves with a little extra time before I headed back to work and the kids headed back to school. So we headed off on a “girls” road trip to Melbourne to catch up with my family and share cuddles with my newest niece.

February was all about Miss J – who turned 3! We celebrated with a Fairy themed party and a lot of fun was had by all. Then Miss C started grade 1 the following week and I returned to work part time.

March was all about Miss C who turned 6 (how did that happen?). We planned on throwing her a small afternoon tea with a couple of friends, but this somehow turned into a larger gathering with 12 energetic and spirited 6 year old girls bouncing around our house! We finished off the month with a less loud, but definitely delicious, annual Good Friday seafood feast.

April started with a “bang” as we had 4 extra adults and 2 extra kids staying with us for Easter. Yes my family arrived into town – and the cousins had an absolute ball. Easter Sunday was filled with egg hunts, a hearty roast lunch and the Inaugural Easter Olympics! We finished off the month by heading to Thredbo with friends for a late-season mountain bike weekend – where lots of biking, chairlift rides and hot chocolates ensued.

May proved to be a busy month too. I headed to Sydney for a work conference, then headed down to Narooma for a weekend at the beach with my Dad. Mother’s Day was celebrated somewhere in there too!

I

In June we opted to escape the Canberra cold and tagged along with the hubs to his work conference on the Gold Coast. While he did his work ‘thing’, the girls and I explored the theme parks – loving the warmer weather. We also had a lot of fun throwing a rainbow themed baby shower for my niece when we returned!

And just like that, we found ourselves in July and little Miss M turned ONE!! We celebrated with a Teddy Bear’s Picnic – and the cake smash was a hit. We again escaped the Canberra cold shortly thereafter, heading to Fiji for a family vacation.

Our August was a little more low-key, as we returned from our trip away and settled back in to the work / school routine. I did, however, sneak a few outings with my Mum (who came to live with us for 5 months) – including a wine tasting afternoon and a trip to the Theatre.

In September we celebrated our ‘main men’ for Father’s Day. The girls loved making cards and a special breakfast in bed – after which we got together with family for an Island-inspired lunch.

In October I headed down to Melbourne (sans kids) for a 20-year reunion with my friends from high school (surely I am not that old, right?!). The girls and I also had a great time at Floriade – taking a ride on the ferris wheel and running amok amongst the gorgeous blooms. We finished the month with a Halloween party with friends, and had a lot of fun picking our costumes for the occasion and making some ‘spooky’ treats.

In November we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary – with a lovely degustation dinner at Aubergine. We then threw our parents a surprise gold wedding anniversary lunch – at the beautiful Piallago Estate. Miss C also had her ballet concert – and simply shone on stage!

December was, as is to be expected, all about Christmas!! There were carols, Christmas parties, tree decorating and carols of repeat. All leading up to the big day that was filled with great company and great food. It really is a magical time of year when kids are involved!

So, yes, 2018 was rather wonderful indeed! And here’s to an even bigger, brighter and better 2019!!

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

Cocktail Hour: Espresso Martini

I couldn’t resist adding a few cocktails to our recent Easter menu. For what better way to kick of a day of Easter frivolity than with some fun drinks. My little brother was more than happy to play bartender on the day – and wasted no time in shaking up cocktails to hand around.  

And after being up since the crack of dawn (or before the crack of dawn) the addition of an Espresso Martini to the menu was a welcome one.

Simply – 30ml kahlua, 40ml vodka and 40ml freshly brewed espresso. Shaken over lots of ice, and poured into a martini glass.

And after my first sip – well I was hooked! This is now one of my favourite cocktails – and one that I will be sure to make again.

Delish! And I’ll be back to share our other Easter cocktail later in the week.





Print Recipe


Cocktail Hour: Espresso Martini

Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks

Prep Time 5 minutes

Servings
drink


Ingredients

Course Cocktail
Cuisine Drinks

Prep Time 5 minutes

Servings
drink


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Place Kahlua, Vodka and Espresso into a cocktail shaker.

  2. Fill with ice and shake. Pour into a martini glass to serve.


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Easter Weekend 2018

Our Easter, this year, was filled with family, food and fun. A perfect combination of time spent with our nearest and dearest, long lazy food-filled days and games for young and old. Yes it ended up being quite celebratory weekend indeed.

 My family arrived from Melbourne the day before good Friday, and our house was immediately transformed into the wonderful chaos that having 6 adults, 3 kids and 2 babies under one roof would inevitably bring. The kids, in particular, wasted no time in re-acquainting themselves, spending hours on end jumping on the trampoline and playing ‘cooks’ with our toy kitchen. Our real kitchen, too, got a decent workout – catering for no less than 11 people over the weekend.

Celebrations ‘officially’ began on Good Friday, with our annual seafood lunch at my in-laws. All the usual suspects were on offer – prawns, oysters, calamari and the like. Served alongside a roasted sweet potato salad, and finished with a platter of sweet treats. Canberra turned on beautiful weather for the day (actually for the whole weekend), so we lazed outside in between courses, watching the kids make Easter bonnets and play on the tennis court.

Easter Saturday was spent at Questacon with most of the Canberra population who had not fled to the coast for the weekend, it seems. Then it was back home for the afternoon to enjoy the sunshine outside.  More trampolining, water-play, a picnic dinner for the kids, with a little quiet time thrown in too (to recharge the batteries).

Easter Sunday turned out to be quite a day! The kids were up early (like “it’s still well and truly dark outside early”) and patiently waited for the sun to rise before heading outside and exploring the garden to discover what the Easter Bunny had (generously) left.  A breakfast comprising  mainly chocolate for the kids ensued, along with hot cross buns and several coffees for the adults.

Then it was on to the main celebration of the day. We held an inaugural “Easter Olympics” at our place – consisting of two teams (the chicks and the rabbits – lead  by the team captains – C & J ) and 6 games. Everyone got into the spirit of the games, and a lot of laughs were had. The rabbits came out victorious in the end – and enjoyed receiving their medals and the hamper prize.

After the games, we sat down to a late lunch (linner) – feasting on slow-cooked balsamic beef, roasted carrots, maple sweet potato, roasted potatoes and a broccoli and chickpea salad. Served with cocktails and a local Pankhurst Pinot Noir.  Dessert was a selection of chocolate mousse, lemon meringue tarts and, of course, Easter chocolates!

As the day turned into evening, we made our way to bed with full bellies and fond memories of the day. By Tuesday all our house guests had made their way home, and I must say the house felt eerily quiet (or as quiet as it can feel with 3 kids at home).

And so another wonderful Easter weekend came to pass. Just like in previous years, a lot of fun and frivolity was had!

 

A Fairy Garden 3rd Birthday Party

This year it was Josie’s turn to have a ‘big’ birthday party. And, it must be something about turning 3, because just like her big sister had done when she turned 3, J requested a fairy party.

But we went a little differently with our theming. More garden-like, and perhaps a little simpler, although a lot of fun was still had by all!

We collected lots of greenery and wooden platters, and got to work creating a dessert table laden will all sort of treats. Gorgeous fresh flowers completed the garden feel, and added some beautiful pops of colour.

The food

I was struck down with some sort of flu bug the days before the party, so I’m glad that most of the preparations had been done in advance. I didn’t take a huge number of photos of the food on the day – which is proof in itself that I must have been feeling a little off.

We had chocolate mousse (with the cutest little meringue mushrooms), jelly, donuts, meringues, biscuits, fairy dust popcorn, butterfly sandwiches, lemon slice, raspberry biscuits and ‘enchanted’ beans. Along with sandwiches for the adults, and a few batches of homemade sausage rolls. And, as is generally the case, although I thought I was over-catering – we didn’t have much left at the end!

The cake

Little J is not a fan of cake, but she is a fan of the ritual that comes with a birthday cake! In fact, whenever we would mention her upcoming party she would excitedly exclaim “I get to blow out some candles!”.

The cake itself was rather simple. A chocolate cake covered in vanilla buttercream and adorned with fresh pink roses. Finished with a cake topper that I ordered from Etsy – and voila!

And yes, Little J loved having everyone sing to her and blowing out her candles!

Party favours

In keeping with the fairy garden theme, we created little fairy garden kit favours so the guests could perhaps create their own garden at home. We filled terracotta pots with flower seeds, decorative pebbles, pixie dust, bubbles and a little fairy or mushroom figurine – along with some lollies for a sugar hit.

The entertainment

We had around 20 kids at the party, ranging from 7 months to 9 years, so entertainment was always going to be a bit tricky. But I booked a fairy entertainer from here – and was blown away with just how wonderful she was! From the moment she walked in, she had all the kids captivated with songs, games and dancing. Add some face painting into the mix,  and the kids all seemed to have a ball!

The girls were a great help in setting up for the party – with Miss C, in particular, relishing in her big sister role and being my helper for the day. She set out the fairy wings and elf hats, and arranged and re-arranged the party tables until they were just how she wanted them.  Yes it seems we have another little party planner in the house!

Then before too long, it was time to say goodbye to our nearest and dearest – and settle in with our sugar highs.  The birthday girl didn’t stop all day – and loved being the centre of attention!

While I’m left wondering just how it is that she is THREE already!

A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our ever-cheeky, lovable goofball.  You never fail to make us smile – every single day x

Christmas 2017

And just like that, another festive season has come and gone. But what a festive season it was!

We headed to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my family this year, but our celebrations started well before then. For knowing we would be away for Christmas Day, and having my niece back from Vietnam for a short while, we held a Canberra Christmas celebration with my in-laws in early December too.

The girls loved the festivity of the day, redecorating the tree (for the hundredth time) and ripping open presents. While we sat back having cuddles with the littlest member of the family, sipping cocktails, before tucking into a simple brunch of fruit and croissants.

A few weeks later, it was time to head down the Hume. Given it was likely to be a little cramped if we all stayed at my Mum’s two-bedroom unit, we decided to rent a holiday house nearby (= best decision ever!) . We made ourselves at home in our ‘home away from home’  almost immediately – with the big backyard, in particular, being a huge hit with the kids.

We hosted Christmas Eve at the holiday house, watching three rounds of Carols by Candlelight on the TV. The cousins were super excited to be reunited,  and didn’t stop playing and singing along to the carols the whole time. Meanwhile, we sipped on (more) cocktails, caught up on ‘life’ and snacked on a mezze platter. There were, of course, goodies left out for Santa and his reindeer too.

Up next…Christmas Day, which proved to be one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in a long time. Casual, fuss-free, and just perfect really.

Maggie and I headed out for an early walk before the household stirred, and returned home just as two excited girls emerged from their bedroom to discover the presents that Santa had left overnight – along with the mess the reindeers had made of their carrots. We then lazed around in our (matching haha) Christmas pyjamas for most of the morning while the girls tested out their new toys, before heading to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for the rest of the day.

This year we decided to do ‘Kris Kringle’ among the adults again – which took a lot of stress (and cost!) out of buying pressies. The kids, on the other hand, we well and truly spoiled by their extended family – and loved every second of it.

The afternoon was then spent feasting with the family in the sunshine. All the Christmas trimmings were had – turkey, pork, ham, roasted vegetables and salad. Followed by a tropical pavlova, and washed down with champagne. We were so pleased to see that Melbourne had put on a beautiful day – sunny but not too hot – making it perfect weather for indulging in a hot lunch outside on the deck. Post-lunch naps were had by some (both young and not so young), after which the kids splashed under the sprinkler while the adults laughed their way through a few rounds of charades.  Then, as the sun started to set, we made our way back ‘home’, crashing into (sugar-induced) comas not long after.  And thus a truly wonderful festive season was had by all. Not only because we had the chance to spend time with our extended families, but also because we had a whole week away with just the five of us! The kids LOVED every second of having their Dad off work – and barely left his side the whole time. Needless to say we returned back to Canberra with lots of happy memories (oh and a few extra kilograms too).

Bring on 2018!

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

 

Life. Lately.

My oh my. Where do I begin?

I feel as if we hit the ground running in 2017 and haven’t really stopped since. We knew it was always going to be a busy start to the year, but I probably underestimated just how busy. Work is hectic. Home life is busy. Our social calendar is quite full. And then there is the whole ‘growing a baby’ thing…

I’ve just come off the back of a couple particularly full-on weeks, with a few more ahead of me. I’m certainly juggling the work / life balance, and probably dropping a few, no a lot of, balls along the way. Life is feeling full, and too often – frantic, but I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been lots of fun times too. For in amongst the chaos we wedged in a family holiday and have even booked in a few more short  family trips away for next month too!

So while I’ve found myself with a spare 20 minutes until my flight boards, let’s focus on some recent happenings that have made us smile…

The girls and I headed down the Hume just before Easter to spend the week in Melbourne. After a big school term for Miss C (and a term of daycare for Little J), it was truly rewarding to spend some one-on-one time with both the girls outside of their normal daily routine, and for them to also spend some time together.  Sure, there were moments of bickering (sisters..), but for the most part they seemed to really enjoy each other’s company, while collectively, and collaboratively,  keeping me on my toes!

Ps. Number of games of Uno played? Approximately 1000…

The car trip itself went pretty smoothly – although having done it quite a few times now with the girls they are becoming quite the seasoned car travellers. A bucketload of snacks helped, as did having the Moana soundtrack on repeat (both girls are obsessed!!)

But the main reason for our trip? Celebrating my little brother getting married!!!! Both girls were flowergirls and Charlotte, in particular, took her role very seriously. Josie on the other hand….yeah not so much (aka we had to wrestle her into her dress lol). They both barely left the dancefloor once the reception started though – so needless to say a lot of fun was had by all!

Yes. Shoes were optional by this time….

(You might notice that I don’t have a lot of photos from the day. I was also honoured to be a bridesmaid and my camera was, as expected, swapped for a bouquet!)

The next big excitement on the agenda? Easter! Which after an Easter-Thursday wedding snuck up on us in no time. It was wonderful to spend the morning with my family (before hitting the road for home), and watching the kiddies run around collecting eggs and generally getting up to mischief.

And in no way related to chocolate consumption (I swear!), we celebrated another milestone with Miss C losing her first tooth while we were away. It was wobbly for about a week (so so gross), and finally fell out the day before the wedding.  A visit from the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny was, as you would imagine, pretty exciting for a certain 5 year old!

But it wasn’t all about the kids, for us ‘oldies’ got to have a bit of fun too. Namely ticking an item off our bucket list and watching our beloved Brumbies play in Melbourne. Starting with sunset nibbles on the Yarra, it was a fun night for sure – we just won’t mention the result…

Overall, this little break was just what I needed. Time with our girls and with my family, and trying to switch off from work before the next two crazy weeks begin.

Until next time!!!

 

 

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!