Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Birthday season has begun...

My littlest turned 4 yesterday, although technically, with time differences, he wasn't actually 4 until 9am this morning!

He had requested Lego, Lego and some more Lego.  And a scooter.  He received some Lego, a scooter but the best present of them all was a wee cheapy accordian I found in K-Mart!  In about 10 mins, while rushing to get ready for school, Archie had worked out how to play Happy Birthday on it, all the others had a turn and then it had to go to pre-school so that Robert could "give a concert"!  Grandpa used to play and still has one, so we're hoping that by the magic of Skype, he might be able to show Robert how it's done at the weekend!

I spent the day stressing over how to make a decent-looking Angry Birds birthday cake.  I had googled ( these were my inspiration here and here  amongst many other imaginative and clever people) and didn't think that it was possible for me to make a cake that would come up to the high standards of the Angry Bird makers in the house.  In the end what took the most time was getting the icing the right colours and trying to get as many of the tiny details as close as possible.

I used my usual vanilla cake recipe, chocolate ganache to give a smooth surface, froze over night, then used chocolate fondant icing to cover the sides and look like mud, and green fondant slung, casually, over the top.  Maybe a little too casually as it happened...

I had stocked up on TimTams (a bit like Penguins) and other chocolate wafer biscuits to set the scene and then I had to create the birds themselves and the all important thieving pigs!  I was particularly pleased with the 3 tiny bluebirds and the pigs.  I hope they look relatively self-explanatory, basically roll balls of the right colours and stick bits on.  

Time to put it all together...

I managed to finish it just as they all came home from school, in time for afternoon tea!

Trying to get the sparkler lit.. it was quite breezy!

But obviously, while sparklers are cool, one must have candles to blow out!


Happy 4th Birthday Little Man!  xxxx

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living the life!

The problem with not blogging for a while is trying to decide whether or not to bombard the Dear Reader with everything that has happened since or to pretend as if I blogged yesterday and just carry as usual.


 Well, with my parents visit there was a lot more activity than normal, eating out most days for lunch,

visits (sans les enfants) to wineries in the Hunter Valley (if you've not tried a Hunter wine yet apparently you can get hold of some in M&S),

wee day-trips up the coast to Port Stephens.

Mother and I even did a spot of shopping.  We are not compatible in this area, she is a shopper, I am not.  Unless it involves markets.  But we do enjoy a nice Mother/Daughter lunch date.

Obviously the kids were involved with pool days,

walks to Blackbutt (my butt ached for 2 days after the walk home up THAT hill) and general nonsense with Grandpa.

I tried and failed to teach Mother to crochet, she tried and failed to encourage me to be a better housewife, although they did insist on buying us a tumble dryer (never had one and still don't really know what to do with it...) and a new bin.

There were plenty of cuddles, especially Robert who now misses his Grandma :-(

There was some making, including some quilted placemats for Ma & Pa's hosts,

a glasses case for Mother (no photo), I started a scarf with some Noro yarn that Mother brought with her but need to source some more,

and I've made some hot water bottle cozies from an old ripped wool blanket.

Pattern from Martha Stewart here.

And now it is officially Autumn here.  The days will get shorter and it will get (relatively) cooler.  I'm looking forward to getting to use one of these babies myself!

Sadly Ma & Pa went home a week ago and we don't know when we'll all see each other again.  Hopefully it will not be too long, and maybe it will be us going back to Scotland next time!   To cheer me up, and as part of the ongoing 40th celebrations, hubby and I got to go on a date to Lizotte's to have dinner and hear the wonderful Eddi Reader (you may know her from her Fairground Attraction days).

What better excuse than to get out the gorgeous birthday bag sent from 2 lovely Edinburgh ladies!

When we first got married nearly 19 years ago, hers was some of the only music we could agree on so it took us right back.   Definitely need to make more of a effort to get dolled up and go out on our own more!

So that's about it for now, hope all is well in your neck of the woods!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Officially old.

 I turned 40 on Saturday.  

John turned 40 2 years ago, along with a number of my friends, so I have been quite ok with it until last week.  My parents are here and staying at the home of friend's of theirs.  While we were having lunch with their friends the day they arrived, mum happened to mention that I was turning 40. Well, my heart lurched and the hairs on my arms all stood on end!  I hadn't expected that reaction!  As it turns out I have been thoroughly spoilt over the weekend, with the promise of more to come this week, which I feel is easing me in gently.

Here's my first ever photo with my glamorous ma ...

She made up a great album of 40 years worth of pictures which the kids loved. "Grandma!!  Your hair is BROWN!!",  "Grandpa, you were so skinny!", "Mum, you look like Archie!  You even have the same haircut!!",  "Is that Unc?  He was so small and cute!" (he's now over 6' tall and nearly as old as me!).

A sample of cards and one of the many balloons.  There were also some beautiful pressies.

And look what my clever girl made for me!  How fantastic is that?

John and the kids made cakes - something to do with Scotland, Australia, age and cars...  And monkeys...?  It tasted great!  The dog agreed - he managed most of the 4 by himself while we were at the beach.  Grrrrr.

Ma and Pa babysat so that we were able to go out to a Chef's Hatted restaurant!  Haven't been out for dinner since John's 40th 2 years ago.

John spent ages preparing a very sophisticated birthday lunch for Sunday.

We had to cancel the planned bbq at Blackbutt Reserve (my friend's daughter asked very sweetly if she should paint her bottom black!) but some gorgeous girl friends decided to throw an impromptu party at the beach instead.  The sun was splitting the heavens for the first time in ages and we had a lovely time with cake and bubbles.  

Maybe 40's not so bad after all.