Posted in Baking, Camping, Children, Children's Parties, Chocolate, Family, Food, Ordinarylife, Parenting

Camping themed 5th party

Camping was not my theme of choice for this year, but Little Miss K wanted camping and I liked the theme so camping it was.  I initially wanted a Book Worm party.

Quite a few of my friends said I was insane to go with Camping…Maybe insane was not quite the word they used, but mad was mentioned more than once, as was tempting fate. Our family record with camping is not a good one. We have been camping 4 times since Kaylin was born and 4 times we have ended up either at the doctors or casualty or both.

I decided actual camping and a camping theme party were vastly different and went with it anyway.

Here are the photos.  (I am quite proud of how it turned out)

The Birthday Girl and Door Stop
The Birthday Girl and Door Stop

She was very excited that I made them both out of icing and that they were both on the cake….

The Party Table - Camping
The Party Table – Camping
Camp Kaylin - Camping themed Cake
Camp Kaylin – Camping themed Cake
Mix your own Trail Mix
Mix your own Trail Mix
The party pack Backpacks (each guest was given a little torch inside)
The party pack Backpacks

 

The backpack party packs, there was little torch inside each
The backpack party packs, there was little torch inside each

 

I made these little backpacks using a little paper bag and some ribbon.  It was actually much easier than I thought it was going to be.  Just make sure you find the paper bags with the flat base.

Campfire Flames aka NikNaks
Campfire Flames aka NikNaks

This is a disposable braai – but the grid was unnecessary as were the legs – so you could just use an aluminum roasting dish.

Wraps or Bedding Rolls
Wraps or Bedding Rolls

 

Bear Poop......
Bear Poop…… (chocolate, need I say more)

So this is what I did differently this year, than any of the other years.

Firstly – the biggest I did not have it at home.  Oh bliss – why did I ever do them at home before.

Secondly – I paid a little extra for the decor.  I looked through their themes, and then chose the closed to the theme I wanted. This is actually the venue’s fairy theme but I told them I did not want any fairy stuff just the woodland look.  I then made everything else to suit – red and green.

Thirdly – all the baked good are box mixes. I love making the little figures for the cakes, but dont actually like baking.  I find it stressful.  This was a lot easier.  Next time I might even just buy a pre-made cake and decorate it.

And then that is about it – once it is over you just pack up and go….

I have also realised that my daughter is nearly as bad as I am when it comes to planning birthdays in advance. She has already told me what themes she would like for the next 3.

Posted in What are you proud of this week

What are you proud of this week?

A friend and fellow runner ran an amazing race this weekend and she posted about it on Facebook, but she started her post “I am genuinely not trying to brag…”

I totally understood what she was trying to say but it has been bugging me!  Not the fact that she posted about her awesome run, not the fact that she has achieved so much, but the fact that she felt she need to clarify or play it down.  She was proud of what she and had achieved and how far she had come and wanted to tell people about it and rightly so, but….

But what!  I see this so often and I am guilty of it myself.  I am in the business of celebrating achievements but often don’t mention my own for fear of being thought to be big headed, or boastful or that I make somebody else feel bad that they have not achieved the same.  I will often get orders for medal hanger from friends of family members who are proud of each other, but less from people buying it for themselves.  I will also get orders from people who tell me all about their friends’ achievements and how proud they are of their friend only to find out that they have achieved just as much if not more.

And so, in keeping with blog theme and THIS post, we should all be proud of ourselves, no matter what the achievement.  Our first 5 km, our first 100m swim, our Mtb ride, our first Ultra Marathon or even the first cake that did not flop.  If somebody else has not quite gotten there, then we should encourage them to achieve, but not by downplaying our own achievements.  Our achievements should motivate them, not make them despondent.  When did it become a bad thing to brag a little?

So, what are you proud of this week – it does not have to be sports related.  I am very proud of the cake I decorated and party I threw for my daughter.  I think it turned out great.

And for the record I have given up baking from scratch – far too stressful.  The cake was a box mix.   I love decorating cakes but do not like baking…..

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I think should be a regular (hopefully weekly) feature… What are you proud of this week?  What do you think?

Posted in Baby OL, Baking, Children, Children's Parties, Crafts, Family, Food, Ordinarylife, Parenting

Airlines and Teddy Bears – a 4th Birthday party

And just like that she was 4!

I know parents say this all the time but wow. Time really does fly.

When we first started discussing themes for her 4th party, Little OL was very into aeroplanes so I began the planning early.  Unfortunately she saw the photos of her 2nd birthday party (teddy bears picnic) and said she wanted teddy bears again.  As I had already organised some of the stuff (and really wanted to do aeroplanes) we compromised.  I put teddy bears in the aeroplanes…. It worked quite well.

So, the theme of her party was and Airline theme (with teddy bears as the pilots)  Here are a few photos

I created the invitation using a template  I found HERE.  I also made the cover, but forgot to take a photo of that.  I created the logo on Inkscape, using an image from HERE

Boarding Pass Invitation

I think just Goggled and checked Pinterest for the rest of the ideas. Here is the link to my Pinterest Board.

 

Baggage Claim
Baggage Claim

I really wanted those old fashioned brown cardboard school suitcases that we used to have and thought I might find some when the “back to school” stuff was out, but no joy.  In the end I found this little lunch boxes and fortunately in the colours I wanted so I bought them.  (Pick n Pay)

 

Cupcakes with marshmallow clouds
Cupcakes with marshmallow clouds

The cupcakes were a disaster, but thank fully with the icing and the best out of 5 batches I managed to get enough.

 

Cake with Teddy Pilot
Cake with Teddy Pilot

The cake went a lot better – I used my favourite cake recipe, the Rainbow cake from the Whisk Kid, but only used shades of pink this time (once again, I forgot to take a photo of the inside).

 

Aeroplane Cookies
Aeroplane Cookies

I also made teddy bear biscuits to go alongside the planes, but Little OL ate them before the party……

Delicious Aeroplane food....
Delicious Aeroplane food….

 

For the adults Mr OL made some awesome sandwiches.  We did Chicken or Beef , poor  Mr OL kept asking if he couldn’t do some salami or ham etc and I insisted it had to be Chicken or Beef…. LOL.  I did do a few vegetarians ones though.

I made a few different signs and added in a few extra elements, like globes, Captain’s hat etc and all in all I am very happy with how the party turned out but, there are a few things I have decided.  From now on we will not be having the party at home. As the kids get older they need more entertainment (and space) and I will also be outsourcing some stuff.  I will not be making cupcakes etc next year.  I probably won’t bake the cake either, although I might make the topper (I enjoy that part)

 

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Gardening, Ordinarylife

Cookies for Spring

I made cookies this weekend.

I found these gorgeous gardenging themed cookie cutters at Plastics Warehouse and have been dying to use them.  (I can’t resist cookie cutters – although I don’t actually like to eat biscuits……) Spring seemed like the perfect time, I just added a couple of flowers.

Spring Cookies
Spring Cookies

 

What do you think?

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Food, Ordinarylife

Iced Sugar Biscuits – a few tips

For Little OL’s party I also made some iced rainbow sugar biscuits. Cupcake Mummy suggested a do a tutorial, but I won’t.  I don’t have the time or patience to take photos of the process and there are already tutorials on the internet that explain it very well – that is how I learnt.  Also, I don’t feel like I have enough experience to “teach” somebody else how to do this, I am also just starting out and learing as I go.

Here is a link to a blog that has very good tutorials and tips.  I use her as my “go to” most of the time – Sweetopia

EDITED – I don’t know how I forgot to add this link – her tutorials are also fantastic!  The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle

I will however give some pointers that I have picked up that make it easier for me.  My first one is that I don’t use piping bags; I have found that ziplock freezer bags work the best for me. They are cheaper, I always have them in the house, and because they close at the top my hands don’t get covered in icing, which no matter how I tried to fold the other bags always seemed to happen.  If I am doing delicate work or the outline then I will use a nozzle if not, if I am just doing the flood work (middle part) then I will just cut a tiny bit of the corner off and use it like that.  If you don’t have the nozzles (or enough nozzles) you could just be very careful and cut a very small bit off the corner. I have done that and it has worked.  Then, don’t over fill your bags; it is much easier to work with smaller amounts in the bag and just refill.

Zip bags
Zip bags

If I am working with a few colours I will keep the nozzles face down resting on a damp cloth (I just use paper towel.  Don’t let it get too wet or it will affect the icing in the nozzle, but by having it just damp the icing doesn’t harden while you are using a different colour.

Damp kitchen towel
Damp kitchen towel

The other things that I keep nearby are a damp kitchen towel, to wipe the ends of the nozzles when necessary and a few toothpicks.  If you get a bubble in the icing prick it while still very wet and it won’t leave a small hole.

a damp cloth at hand
a damp cloth at hand

I have tried making Royal Icing using an egg substitute and with real eggs.  The taste was pretty much the same, however I find that the egg substitute clogs the nozzle more than real eggs. This is a real pain in the butt so now I use real eggs (for these biscuits I used THIS recipe – the one at the bottom of the post using eggs).  In America they use meringue powder, but I have not find it here. The egg substitute I used was Actiwhite and I found it at the Baking Tin in PE.

Rainbow colours
Rainbow colours

On all the tutorials they talk about the 10 second rule, what they mean is that if you drag a knife through the Royal Icing it should take 10 seconds for icing to be smooth again. For delicate work I use more like a 15 to 20 second rule.  For the flood work 10 secs or a bit less if fine.  Sometimes for basic shapes, like squares or circle I will use 10 seconds for both and the pipe the outline and fill it all at the same time. This way you do not see the outline line, but it still seems to hold its shape.

I have a couple of books that I use and I always use the biscuit recipe from The Biscuiteers book but mostly if I need advice or help, I Google it.  All my answers seem to be there.

Good luck and if you have any great pointers or tips to make my life easier when icing biscuits, please feel free to share!

I found an example of rainbow biscuits HERE and a tutorial.  I used that to make Little OL’s birthday biscuits.  I am really happy with the way they turned out, but I wish I had double checked it before I started.  I had forgotten that she iced all her biscuits white before putting on the colours.  But oh well.  I like them anyway.

Rainbow Biscuits
Rainbow Biscuits
A hand cut biscuit, using a template I made.
A hand cut biscuit, using a template I made.
Posted in Baking, Cookies, Family, Feb Blog Challange, Food, Ordinarylife

FBC – Favourite Baking Recipe

Every summer we would go camping for the entire 6 week school holiday and for weeks before hand my mom would try and stock up on baked goods.  I believe she found this recipe in a Your Family magazine and it was my favourite.  In the end she took to hiding the biscuits from me because otherwise I would finish them before we even hit the camp site.  She has since passed the recipe on to me and I now make them quite often. They are really easy and yum!

My mom says the original recipe called them Melting Moments or something like that.  I don’t know why I have in my mind Angels Delights.  My mom has long since lost the original magazine page, but thankfully typed this out.  She called them Piped Biscuits in the copy she gave me. 

Piped Biscuits 

250 g Butter

80 ml icing sugar – sifted

375 ml Flour

125 ml Cornflour

Cream butter and icing sugar until soft and creamy.  Sift flour and cornflour and work into butter mixture. 

Spoon dough into piping-bag fitted with medium rose tube.  Pipe “S” shapes, circles and finger shapes onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 180°C. 15 minutes.  Cool.

Makes about 18.

Optional extra (and well worth it) Dip ends of biscuits in 100 g melted chocolate, leave to dry.

 

My one tip is that they are much easier to pipe when the butter is a bit softer – as in it really must be room temperature.  Also, it is easier if you don’t over fill the piping bag. Rather put a smaller amount in it and refill.

I hope you enjoy.

Yummy Mummy – your custard biscuits remind me a lot of these except yours are even easier to make and Mr OL prefers your recipe… 🙂

 

Posted in Feb Blog Challange, Food, Ordinarylife

FBC – Last Meal

FBC – Death Row Meal

Firstly I am going to change the name of the challenge for today from “Death Row Meal” to “Last Meal”.  For some reason the thought of sitting on Death Row freaks me out a whole lot more than actually dying.  Something to do with the “how did I get into that position” I mean seriously – what do you need to do to get to death row, or if you did nothing, imagine the panic, the continual need to be proven innocent, the angst, the anger, hatred, the emotional turmoil.  The judicial system has failed you, and generally it would take years.  Nope, I am not going there

So – FBC – Last Meal.

For my last meal I would like something that I actually have quite often – a rare steak, done on an open fire.  It must be thick and well aged.  It must be a deep red colour with a little bit of marbling.  Yes, I am fussy when it comes to my steak.  It must NOT have basting sauce on it; actually they must just ask Mr OL to cook it on the fire. I am not 100% sure what he puts on it but he does it best.

To go with my steak I would like medium cut crispy chips.  Soft and fluffy on the inside with crispy bits breaking off on the outside.  No salad, no veggies – nothing to complicate matters.  Just chips and steak!  Just give me that, with a bit of salt from  grinder.

I don’t even need starters or desserts, totally unnecessary! But if we are going to go there, then a Carpaccio for starters, or a Steak Tartare (yes I have a thing for raw meat) and for dessert a Crème Brulee.

 

 

Posted in Family, Feb Blog Challange, Food, Ordinarylife

FBC – 10 people I would like to have dinner with

Little OL’s middle name is Elizabeth; I called her that after my Granny on my mom’s side. She was an amazing woman who I unfortunately did not get to see as often as I would have liked.  My parents immigrated to South Africa just before I was born and while growing up we only got to see her every second year when she come out to South Africa while she was still able.

In 1994 I moved to London, and every opportunity I got I went up to Edinburgh to visit my Gran. In 1995 I decided to move up to Edinburgh for a year and moved in with her.  It was fantastic to have that opportunity before she passed away, but there is so much more I want to ask her and learn about her life.  I know that my mom would also love to get to see her again.

So, my 10 people would actually need to be quite a bit more than 10.  I would love to have dinner with all the woman on my mom’s side of the family.  Some I have met, but most I have not.  I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to “meet” one of my cousin’s via Facebook as well as the wife of one of my cousins.  If I included Myself, Little OL, my cousins and their daughters, my aunt as well as my mom and my sister we would be quite a bit more than 10 – but seeing as this is my blog, I am making up the rules.

The menu….. Tough one!  I guess it would depend on location and time of the year – I am going to say outs ide under some shade on a lovely Eastern Cape day and so we would have a long lunch of salads, quiches, tarts, grilled veggies (on a braai) and a selection of cakes. Yum

IMG-20121219-00022
Little OL and her Granny (my mom)
Posted in Baby OL, Baking, Children, Cookies, Family, Feb Blog Challange, Food, Ordinarylife

Feb Blog Challange – Superpower

So today’s prompt for the February Blog Challenge is if you could have one superpower what would it be.

I think I would like to freeze time, not for ever, just for particular moments.  Like for those extra special times where you are lying cuddling with your child, between all the tantrums, melt downs and normal daily noise. For those wet kisses and “I love you”s that seem so rare.  For those date nights or shared bottles of wine with somebody special.  Those little moments that you just wish could last for ever.  Maybe even just the power to etch them into your memory, so that when all the normal chaos of life is going on you can take a deep breath and feed on those moments.

That would be my superpower if I could have one.  For now I just have to rely on my shaky memory and my camera.

Gorgeous Helping Hands
Gorgeous Helping Hands
Mommy, stop taking photos of my hands!
Mommy, stop taking photos of my hands!
Posted in Family, Feb Blog Challange, Food, Ordinarylife, Parenting

3 Significant memories

3 Significant memories from my childhood.

This one is difficult – my memory is shocking…..

That and the stuff I do remember I am not sure if it could be considered significant!  Awesome yes, but I believe I had a pretty Ordinary Life, just the usual kid stuff.  Thankfully no major drama’s.

I guess the actually only significant memory in my life was the birth of my sister – I was nearly 10 when she was born and I could not imagine my life now without her.

There are some memories that stand out, but for the life of my I don’t know why.

  1. When I was at nursery school, so about 4 one of the girls in my class came back to school after spending a bit of time in hospital.  I remember standing with a group of girls discussing it and asking her how it was. The only thing I remember her saying was that she had to pee with a stick – from her description I now think she had a catheter, but at the time it horrified me.
  2. I was about 5 when my family started shopping around for a caravan….. We went to this one place and they had a tiny caravan.  The perfect size for a 5 year old!  I begged and pleaded – obviously I never got it but I do recall my dad saying that when I was old enough to buy my first car he would buy me that caravan.  I am still waiting – I do remind him from time to time but no joy.
  3. This is not really a memory of an event, but ever since I can remember my parents have said for my 21st I could either have a party or a present.  I had no interest in a party and desperately wanted a flight to London!  Even before I hit high school.  It was just something that I knew I wanted.  I don’t think they expected me to stay away for 6 years though….

It is funny, after I finished writing this other memories came to mind…. When I was about 11 I ordered a steak from a restuarant “medium rare” – the restuarant cooked it” Well Done”.  I was not happy and my dad said I should call the waitress and send it back if I wanted to as it was not what I had requested.  I did, but the waitress did not want to take it back and said to my parents that she had asked the kitchen to make it that way as “all children eat their steaks well done”.  The reason I remember this is that my dad stood up for me.  He asked the waitress how I had asked for it, and if it was cooked as I requested.  He made them get me a steak cooked the way I wanted.  I was a happy bunny.  I now eat my steak Blue or Rare.