I think I blinked and suddenly Bubby was turning the big five. Bubby had been so desperate to turn five, that for the months leading up the big event, it was her first topic of discussion upon meeting anyone. “Did you know I’m nearly five?” she would inform them. “Really?” they would respond in mock surprise, as though this was not the third time they had not been informed of this momentous occasion that month. Next up would be the party discussion. “An Elsa party” she would excitedly inform them. “Really?” they would respond hiding their smirk at the pained look on my face.
Since I mistakenly created an (awesome) backyard carnival party instead of the preferred Elsa theme, Bubby has been talking up her ‘Elsa party for number 5 birthday’. There was no escaping it. That’s meant a whole year of Pintrest stalking, recipe planning and losing all the screen shots of Frozen inspired tips and tricks. Grand plans of sugar dusted snowflakes and blue crystal blades at the start of the year became frazzled post-christmas/new year exhaustion turned into heat effected splotchy chocolate Olaf arms and a sparsely decorated ‘snow’ cake. And I don’t know about you, but I also discovered there’s a serious lack of naturally bright blue food out there, so sugar and blue food dye were used unashamedly. It was a party after all.
Note: if anybody has a blue lemonade recipe that doesn’t consist of Blue Curacao (apparently not suitable for a fifth birthday party) or Koolaid please send it my way. Against my better judgement, the recipe I followed complete with image of a bright blue lagoon looking drink, did not in any way come near blue. Purple or reddish maybe. Blue? Not a chance. But in hindsight, I should have known there was no way blue & blackberries would have without some extreme artificial assistance (insert face palm).
I pulled out my favourite Sweetapolita lemon cake recipe for the birthday cake interior. White chocolate ganache held the cake layers together, with royal icing and topped with my own last minute blue-glass-shard-design-failed-so-threw-on-lots-of-silver-things styling. The rest of the food was coloured or covered blue glorious blue!
Blue layered jelly with sugar snow
Blue ice crystal bread
Lemon blue ice cupcakes
For the first time in forever sandwiches
And for our little Elsa’s to take home, a simple chocolate snow freckle and Pipla custom crown.
Obviously a Two Houses party isn’t complete without some piñata action. For this party we created a silver geo piñata for the kids to let loose on.
Our delicious little baby Boo turned two. From finding her mid-bookshelf climb to ‘singing’ at the top of her lungs whilst standing in the swing starkers, this cheeky, stubborn bundle of love has us all on our toes.
Organising a birthday party to celebrate Boo’s second birthday may, or may not have slipped to the bottom of the list amongst the many other ‘busy life’ things we had going on at the time. I’m sure most would just say to skip to the party altogether. But the guilt of an adult Boo reminding me year after year of how she didn’t have a second birthday party meant she was having one, even if it was a week late and most guests received their invitation as they were leaving the party.
‘Busy life’ was not going to stop Boo’s birthday, but my efficient/lazy Mama tactics did set in. A simple menu, simple activities and simple decorations. Efficient/lazy shortcuts adult Boo will not be able to hold against me.
The weekend before we prepped EVERYTHING we possibly could. The cake was baked and frozen ready to be decorated, biscuit mixture was stored in the fridge and sausage rolls were rolled and ready in the freezer. This left a little preparation the day before for a few food items that needed to be completed closer to the big day, and bit for on the day too. I even sneakily asked Lex to make her delicious mini Beef Wellington pies to take the pressure off!
Framed by a fabric lace, cream and gold garland, and floral arrangements hurriedly grabbed from the garden, the party table spread included…
A whimsical cake based on Sweetapolita’s lemon cake finished with white chocolate ganache, royal icing and floating clouds, topped by a golden number two (which unfortunately on certain angles also looked like golden poo – sigh)
My Bubby has just turned four. That’s four years of this amazing little girl being in our lives and well, four years of being her parents is definitely worth celebrating. And so a party we had.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I love party themes – it helps inspire me with cake, food and decorating ideas. Last year when I asked Bubby what kind of party and cake she’d like, the most I could get from her was ‘a pink one’. Not very helpful on her part, but she got her pink(ish) party. This time around, knowing her answer would still be the same, I couldn’t bring myself to ask her. I’m sorry Bubby, but pink was so last year.
A visiting circus was in town, and after a bit of Pinterest stalking, a carnival theme quickly became a great idea. I’m still not ready to completely let loose on bright colours so compromised with myself on ‘Vintage Carnival’. With gorgeous costumes, decorations and spread of activities, we had a fun-filled day of Carnival chaos!
Carnival FolkMini tightrope walkers and Mama ClownThe Ring Master Lex and Clown Glenn with their assistant Little G
Despite several years of hard work, our backyard is still very much a work in progress but with the help of the trusty family marquee and a few decorations, this landscaper’s delight was transformed into a magical Carnival. Dave came through with the goods on a carnival stand and ring toss game constructed using part of our back fence, his stash of homebrew bottles and some rope. And we’ll just pretend the overgrown grass and dandelions was part of the ‘field’ look…
Bobbing for apples quickly became lets throw the apples in and see them splash!
This classic Clown Pinata was developed from my How to: make a Rose Pinata using felt, white tissue and crepe papers, a clown nose and paper hat with felt balls.
Popcorn for sale at the Carnival stand.
Party hat making with all the trims.
Bringing back our 80’s childhood hoola-hooping expertise!
Balloon making by Lex and Glenn
Party bags – a tassel wand, gold dusted seal biscuit, animal pencil and a clown nose
A Carnival Cake – based on Sweetapolita’s birthday medley, the cake was constructed with raspberry jam between layers of blue funfetti stars, pink amarena cherry and rich chocolate. Fondant icing was decorated with hand painted green, blue and gold and finished with handmade flowers and elephant cake topper.
My favourite Nigella biscuits finished two ways – Elephants and stars dipped in coloured melted chocolate sprinkled with pearlescent drops and seals in gold dusting.
Freshly cut watermelon stars and blueberries
Strawberry jelly with blue chocolate shooting stars
I’ve been a little in denial, but it’s well and truly Christmas time. I’m back at my Interior Architecture position, and now with two small children and my own children’s accessory business to manage, Christmas this year has had to be organized on the run. I love to make sure I’ve selected decor that can be set up the night before and a menu easily prepped ahead of time, leaving me a moment to hang about with Dave and the girls before the excitement of the big day begins. If you missed getting your hands on a copy of TasWeekend Magazine to read about my concepts for last minute Christmas styling in Sally Glaetzer’s article – here’s the low down…
Metallics are stunning either as the table feature or accent pieces. I’m especially in love with the metallic paired with soft pastels. For this table setting I’ve brought together classic décor and dinnerware I have at home, with a couple of key feature items.
Classic white damask table cloth layered with a soft grey linen table runner and deep grey cloth napkins. White dinner plates dressed with a succulent bouquet. Antique silver and bone cutlery and elegant vintage champagne glasses. Keeping it simple but beautiful works for me like including this living wreath as a statement centrepiece. The wreath is created from succulents by Botanical’s Kate Sice and accent table pieces including geometric wire decorations and candles in copper holders from Deb at Grey and Felt.
Found objects and papers are fantastic for creating your own Christmas decorations with. Sparkly metallic papers and card can be used to make simple yet striking ornaments and brighten the soft weathered timbers which add that warmth and texture to any room. This driftwood Christmas wall hanging is an elegant way of using found objects from our local beach with the house hold cookie cutter and some craft supplies. Make your own with the details in my How: to make a driftwood Christmas wall hanging.
Living Wreath supplied by:
Botanical | 139 Macquarie St Hobart Tasmania | T: +61 03 6223 4445 | email@example.com
I love marshmallows. Soft and gooey. Light and fluffy. Melted or baked. Their sickly sweetness is heaven to me. This recipe falls into the firmer, stickier category but the pretty red, white and green colours and subtle infused flavour of minty citrus are are ingrained in my idea of ‘Its Christmas time!’ and is a perfect one for making ahead of time to wow the family with on Christmas day or to include in your gift hampers.
½ cup heavy or thickened cream
2 mint leaves
Zest of one large lemon
4 cups white marshmallows
2 Tbsp pistachios
2 Tbsp cranberries
Once the marshmallows are melted, they cool quickly and become very sticky to work with so a few things to prepare before you start the heating process:
Line a 8x8inch container with grease proof paper including up the sides.
Place the pistachios into a food processor and grind to a mix of dust and fine chunks and set aside. Finely chop cranberries and set aside.
Roughly chop the marshmallows and place in a medium saucepan.
Once these things are ready, place the cream, mint leaves and lemon zest in a small saucepan and heat gently to a simmer. Immediately turn in down and leave to infuse for a few minutes before straining into the saucepan with the marshmallows. Gently heat stirring constantly until the marshmallows have melted and combined with the cream.
Pour half the mixture into the container. Sprinkle the ground pistachios over, then carefully spoon on the remaining marshmallow mixture. Scatter the cranberries across the top and pop in the fridge to set.
Once set, use a knife to help prise the top edge from grease proof paper. Once the top has come unstuck the rest will pull away easily. Slice into squares to serve. Store in an air tight container and cut when ready to serve.
Birthdays were always really, really special occasions for us growing up. From the moment we woke up, Mum would have made sure our day was filled with fun birthday celebrations – an awesome cake, delicious food (of course), games, decorations and sparkle, and always with lots of friends and family.
Now that I have my own children, I realise how much effort that must have taken her every year coming up with new party ideas for the three of us, let alone pulling off everything that goes with a party. But these fond memories encourage me to think creatively about creating the same wondrous experiences for our girls.
Being a designer, concocting up decorations and pretty food isn’t so hard, but suitable party games for 1-10 year olds has had me stumped. Thankfully after a couple of unsuccessful pass the parcel attempts at Bubby’s first and second birthdays (big tears), I’ve cottoned onto the piñata craze. It’s awesome. The kids get to bash something and everybody gets some goodies. Last year I bought one, but there are only limited designs readily available here and after something to fit in with a yellow rose theme for Boo’s first birthday, I decided to create my own.
Even though small children love to wave the piñata stick around, they don’t really have enough force to make more than a dent. So the trick with this piñata is to use just enough tape and glue to keep everything in place (with a little extra on the bottom to hold the weight of the fillings), but not so much they can’t break it apart.
You will need:
Thick cardboard with a corrugated centre
Yellow crepe paper
Yellow tissue paper
White tissue paper
Wool or string
Draw 2 large circles approximately 50cm diameter and a 12cm x 45cm rectangle on your cardboard and cut out neatly. Poke 2 holes through one circle near the top and thread through your wool or string leaving enough to hang it up securely on the party day.
Roll the rectangular strip into a tight roll to give it some curl. Starting from just above the underside of the circle (but not the very bottom), tape the strip along the edge of 1 cardboard circle, forming the strip to the curve as you go. Remember to use only just enough tape to keep it in place, with extra to the bottom half to help carry the weight of the goodies that will go inside the piñata when its finished. There will be a gap between the ends of the strip – this so you can fill the piñata after is decorated. Tape the second circle the top side of the strip to form a shallow cylinder.
Cut a 12cm wide x 65cm strip of crepe paper and glue over the piñata sides leaving 5cm flaps either end to cover the opening. When complete you can tuck these in and cover up where you’ve snuck the treats in.
While still folded up, cut the remaining crepe paper into 5cm strips. Make 3cm deep by just under a cm wide cuts in each of bundle – these will unravel to form the fringe. Unwrap the first bundle part way and glue the top half of the fringe in a strip across the bottom of the back circle. Let it over hang the circle, you’ll trim this later. Glue next strip so that the fringe of the top covers the solid section of the one underneath and so on.
When the strips get to where the top of the opening is on the side, glue the start of the next strip to the front circle, and wrap over the sides, then glue to the back circle, wrap over the other side and glue the other end to the front circle. Keep covering sides and back face with fringe until the whole back face is covered. Trim the bottom fringes to the shape of the circle.
Cut out a petal shape in the white tissue paper that is large enough to overhang the circle. You’ll need 24 white petals. Starting from the top, lightly glue 8 petals down leaving a gap between each. Glue the remaining 16 over each petal so you have a layer of 3 petals. The aim is to stick the petals on, but letting the tissue paper petals look like they’re layered and not flat.
Cut out a similar petal shape in the yellow tissue paper, again large enough to overhang the circle. You’ll need 16 petals. Glue 8 of these in a similar fashion spacing them between the white ones. Lightly glue the rest over the top.
Cut out a smaller petal shape in the yellow tissue paper, with one pointed end. You’ll need 16 petals. Fold these in half lengthways to form a crease. Fold a petal in half and apply glue to one side, then press a second folded petal on top. Unfold the petals to form an upside down paper aeroplane shape. Repeat until you have 8 of these. Glue these in position between the yellow petals, making sure the pointed ends meet in the centre.
Fill the piñata with awesome goodies – this year I stuck with a couple of types of chocolate in yellow wrappers and yellow sherbet, but you can mix it up a bith with small trinkets like stamps and rubbers. Tuck the flaps back up to hide the opening. Hang the piñata securely off a strong tree branch, or as we do off our pinned down swing set. Handing over a big stick or bit of timber dowel, blind fold the big kids and be prepared to have a round where you just let the little ones have a swing at it with both eyes open. Trust me. The little kids don’t need the blind fold.
And the best bit for me, was after finding out I’d made the piñata , the sweetest little guest whispered to me that she thought it was a bought – because it had tassels and all!
Growing up, Dave and I both had friends of our parents that were just that little bit extra special to us. Letting us hang out at their place talking, feeding and looking after us as though we were one of their own. They were simple relationships, but ones that even now as adults, we look to with love, trust and respect. As parents, we’ve chosen to foster similar relationships between a few close friends of ours and our girls, so that they too may have the opportunity to grow up with strong and varied role models in their lives outside our immediate family.
We started it off with Bubby, and that was when the term ‘Quasi-parent’ was coined by one the friends we’d asked to be one of these special people, and we loved it. It was fun and light-hearted, but with the right amount of sentiment towards the relationship. Others might call it a ‘god-parent’ situation, but as our family and friends are a diverse bunch, this fits us and the relationship it represents perfectly. We celebrated these friends and officially welcomed Bubby into the family with a day at the amazing property at Armytage House, including a warming lunch of wood-fired quail and pizzas in the middle of a freezing cold and drizzly Hobart winter.
So a couple of weekends ago it was Boo’s Quasi Day. This time around our family has grown and seeing as we now have a lounge room bigger than a shoebox and not to mention the awesome new deck in our backyard, we decided to host her special day at home. We try to keep these intimate so invited our usual family members (grandparents, siblings, partners and kids), some friends and the 2 couples of Quasi Parents-to-be (one couple all the way from London) and their children. So just a small, intimate luncheon for 20 odd.
I’d had my hopes up after days of glorious Hobart winter sun, but unfortunately when the day came, the weather decided to be particularly cold and wet so we were forced indoors for the most part. It didn’t stop us from enjoying a delicious lunch of Felicity Cloak’s Perfectly Pulled Pork recipe, Martha Stewart’s Tofu Scramble with Cotija Cheese, barbecued garlic prawns on skewers and corn on the cob served with a red cabbage coleslaw, fresh baps and mayo.
To finish up, Dave gave a little speech to introduce and thank our newly appointed Quasi-Parents Matt and Paulette, and Craig and Jon and we welcomed Boo into the family with a rather larger-than-expected layered ombre Pandan cake with palm sugar icing, accompanied by Elsie’s delicious chocolate slice with coconut and brandied kumquat. Yummo.
And that’s how we celebrate Quasi Day, or as Bubby and Little G seemed to think, there was a whole day to just for their favourite Ocotnaut “Kwazi’…