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Archive for the category “Family”

Celebrating 7 years with our Diva

So, the little Miss turned 7 this month – where on earth did the time go? She’s quite suddenly looking very grown up, but is still her smart, funny, mischevious self. We had some friends and family over to mark the day and made a Pinata Cake which was a hit!

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With love from the tooth fairy

Today our little Diva lost her first tooth. And she is thrilled! After a week of “hey Mum, is this tooth loose? It feels loose to me. Does it feel loose to you? Look, I can wiggle it!” it finally fell out.¬†She seems to think this signifies the passing from babyhood into adulthood (rude awakenings will be ahead no doubt).

In our family when the first tooth falls out it is kept and put into your baby album (but you still get cash) and I thought given that its the first and she is so excited about this milestone that I would make her a note from the tooth fairy.

Here is a printable PDF if anyone wants to use the note too. I printed this out at 50% of its actual size to make the tiny note.

The Barbie Graveyard

At the back of my cupboard is a Barbie Graveyard. Its full of Barbies, Moxie Girls, Bratz and the like that have been gifted to my daughter by well-meaning people who don’t know they’re unwelcome additions to her toy boxes.

It’s a gut-feel thing for me. I can’t see how these heavily made-up dolls in their skimpy hooker clothing could possibly be a good thing for 5-year-old girls to play with. I don’t want my daughter having these as role models. They feel like really inappropriate playthings for children.

What will she learn from these overtly sexualised toys? From their tight mini-skirts, thigh-high boots and faces that look like they’ve been gang-banged by a box of crayolas. I’ve yet to watch any of the programmes that go along with the dolls (they too are unwelcome in our home) but they don’t look like the kind of girls who value being clever or courageous, adventurous or inventive. I want my daughter to value herself more. And I want her to have a healthy self-esteem and to feel beautiful regardless of what she is wearing and whether she has the latest hairstyle or fashion accessories.

And I’m not convinced when Mattel releases a “doctor Barbie” every few years – these companies do not have my daughter’s best interests at heart.

I don’t feel comfortable giving them to other little girls either. So, for now there’s a posse of popular bitchy girls at the back of my cupboard. Right where they belong.

Easy Peasy Macarons

Macarons are my current baking obsession (and favourite thing to eat). After finding Brave Tart’s Macaron Myths and Macaron Commandments I haven’t had a bad batch since.

This weekend I decided to try make some passionfruit milk chocolate macarons and I am loving the result!

Macaron Recipe (care of Brave Tart)

115g ground almonds
230g icing sugar
144g egg whites (temperature and age not important!)
72g sugar
2g salt

Sieve the almonds and icing sugar together and set aside.

Beat the egg whites, sugar and salt together for around 9 minutes, starting on medium and then finishing on high. Add any colouring/essence in the last minute of mixing.

Then use a spatula to mix/fold in the almond & icing sugar mixture until it reaches a lava-like consistency.

Pipe it onto baking paper (I trace circles with a small circular cookie cutter and then flip the paper over so all the macarons are the same size).

Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 18 minutes.

If you tap the macaron lightly with a spoon when done it shouldnt move much. Otherwise try peel one away from the baking paper to check its done. I coloured mine a bright sunshine yellow and when they were cooled brushed on a little colouring with a clean paintbrush.

Passionfruit Milk Chocolate Ganache

200 grams milk chocolate
80 grams passion fruit puree
40 grams heavy cream
30 grams butter

Chop the milk chocolate into small pieces. Boil the passion fruit and heavy cream together and pour over chocolate. Stir until incorporated and the ganache forms. Wait a couple of minutes for the ganache to cool a bit and add the softened butter. Stir to create and emulsion. Let it harden a bit until it is pipeable and fill the macarons.

Happy birthday to me!

Friday was my birthday (22, again of course before you ask) and I’ve been thoroughly spoilt all weekend.

Friday was cheesecake at tea-time, followed by a pub lunch. Got home to a surprise visit from friends who came bearing dinner. Saturday was spent baking and then this morning we made a trip to the French Market and picked up supplies before DH cooked a huge brunch. Lots of friends stopping in for visits too which has been awesome.

Food featuring strongly as usual, I made myself a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting… recipe at the end of the post.

Leaving the Market

Destructaboy & I

Destructaboy

Anne

The Diva

Anne & Destructaboy

The Diva

The Diva with pancake

Red Velvet Cake (care of Smitten Kitchen)

Yield: 3 cake layers

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and line bottoms with baking paper.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting (care of Casey Cooks)

4 225gr packages cream cheese, softened
225gr unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups icing sugar, sifted

Beat cream cheese and butter till smooth. Add vanilla and then the icing sugar one cup at a time. Refridgerate for 30 minutes before using.

Only 730 days to go

Today we said goodbye to one of our very closest friends who is off on a great adventure – we miss you already Leeooo…

We are counting the minutes until you come home!

Short and sweet

Blogging bullet-point style because I am far too tired to think in full sentences.

  • Work has ramped up considerably. Its good but the hours are long and I am tired.
  • My goal this year is to get my sister here for Christmas. I need to see family, and I need the kids to have family around even if only for a few weeks. Fingers crossed we can make it happen!
  • This morning my dad bought tickets to come and visit. I havent seen him in more than 4 years and he’s never met Destructaboy (Diva was only 1 when he last saw her), I’m an odd mix of thrilled and nervous. I wonder what he will think of our family, our home, our life…
  • Seeing the Hunger Games on Sunday. I loved the books and cant wait for the movie.

The Diva’s Birthday

We finally managed to celebrate the Diva’s 5th birthday yesterday – better late than never. Last year we had a party at a venue that only allowed 10 children and while it was a really good party it felt a bit restricted so this year we found out where the next Families in Parks Summer Fun event was happening and used the same park for our party venue. Sneaky but it meant that she could invite as many of her friends as she wanted and there’d be lots to entertain them without us needing to do much at all besides supply the food.

The weather played ball and the kids all had a really good time. We set up a gazebo, laid out picnic blankets and chatted while the kids played.

No post on this blog is complete without mention of food, so here it is. Spent Friday evening and all day Saturday in the kitchen (with a wonderful kitchen slave – thank you Liesl!!) making sugar cookies, giant rainbow cookies, cupcakes and a rainbow cake. I’d taken inspiration from Pinterest and can highly recommend the rainbow cake recipe. Next time I’d up the cake mixture by half and make 8 layers instead of 6, I’d have liked just a little more height, and I’d flavour the layers too. It went down a treat though – Diva was so thrilled with her “rose” cake and didn’t know about the rainbow middle so when we cut it she squealed with delight. I’d have loved to have a picture of her face when she saw it.

Links to recipes are at the bottom of this post.

Opening presents in the morning:

Very serious:

Diva’s reaction to the candles not lighting:

The “rose” cake:

With a surprise middle:

Cupcakes:

Martha Stewart Rainbow Cake. I didnt use the icing recipe because I wanted to colour the icing and suspected the white chocolate would seize if I did. Instead I used this very simple buttercream frosting recipe which I quadrupled so it could be used for all the cupcakes too.

Simple cupcakes.

Buttercream frosting.

Giant rainbow cookies.

Sugar cookies.

Royal icing.

Chocolate dipped pretzels.

New Years resolutions

I don’t usually do New Years Resolutions, but this year I have two.

1. To appreciate what we have. We are so very blessed and I feel like we waste a lot of time wanting more.

There was a quote in Grey’s Anatomy a while back that resonated with me:

I had a terrible day. We say it all the time; a fight with a boss, a stomach flu, traffic. That’s what we describe as terrible when nothing terrible is happening.These are the things we beg for: a root canal, an I.R.S. audit, coffee spilled on our clothes. When the really terrible things happen, we start begging the god we don’t believe in to bring back the little horrors, and take away this. It seems quaint now, doesn’t it? The flood in the kitchen, the poison oak, the fight that leaves you shaking with rage. Would it’ve helped if we could see what else was coming? Would we’ve known that those were the best moments of our lives?

I think of it often as I speak to people because there are days when everyone around me sounds like Eeyore. Nothing is ever good enough, kwim? So this year I will be enjoying the small things in life, feeling immensely grateful for the big things… and avoiding everyone who has nothing positive to say. These really are the best moments of our lives.

2. The second resolution is less serious. I love music. I love to sing along at the top of my voice despite being completely tone deaf (and ignoring my kids saying “please don’t sing Mummy!”). We used to have music playing constantly. But somehow in the last few years its stopped. We no longer have a stereo or a radio so the only place I play music now is in my car. I miss it, and I’d love my kids to get the same pleasure from music as we do. So I’ve ordered a speaker that will play music wirelessly from our pc/laptop/iPhone and it arrives this week. So, what are the artists you’d have on your list if you were trying to expose your kids to a wide range of music you love (even if its uncool)?

So far my list is:

The Beatles

The Rolling Stones

Bob Marley

Tom Waits

Johnny Cash

Neil Young

Led Zeppelin

Bob Dylan

The Beach Boys

Michael Jackson

Elvis Presley

Elvis Costello

Nick Cave

The Clash

AC/DC

The Who

Simon & Garfunkel

Jimi Hendrix

Queen

David Bowie

Bruce Springsteen

Sex Pistols

Talking Heads

Pixies

R.E.M

Nirvana

Soundgarden

John Lennon

P.J Harvey

Leonard Cohen

The Carpenters

Madonna

George Michael

Nina Simone

The White Stripes

Green Day

The Police

Sting

Stevie Wonder

Eric Clapton

Elton John

Prince

Pink Floyd

The Doors

Fleetwood Mac

Van Morrison

Peter Gabriel

U2

Tina Turner

Paul McCartney

James Taylor

Melissa Etheridge

Bic Runga

Rod Stewart

The Bee Gees

Anouk

Skunk Anansie

Russian Red

Billy Joel

Aerosmith

Santana

Freshly Ground

Johnny Clegg

Tracy Chapman

Mandoza

Florence + the Machine

Cat Stevens

Natalie Merchant

Annie Lennox

Texas

Cowboy Junkie

Sinead O’ Connor

Louise Carver

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Lily Allen

Dixie Chicks

Ella Fitzgerald

Snow Patrol

A Perfect Circle

Audioslave

Bloc Party

Brand New

Bush

Chevelle

Everclear

Foo Fighters

Hard-Fi

Incubus

Kings of Leon

Our Lady Peace

Queens of the Stone Age

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Reef

The Hives

Alexisonfire

Anberlin

Blindside

City and Colour

Emerosa

In Aviate

Jimmy Eat World

Rage Against The Machine

System Of A Down

Marilyn Manson

NOFX

Pennywise

Offspring

Fuzigish

Sublime

Faithless

Dank

Felix Laband

Krushed and Sorted

Mirwais

Moby

P.H. Fat

Skrillex

The Knife

The Prodigy

Tosca

Alkaline Trio

Pearl Jam

Seasick Steve

Muse

The Ting Tings

The Wannadies

Franz Ferdinand

Dizzee Rascal

Ash

The Drums

Bon Iver

Mumford & Sons

Terrovision

Belle & Sebastian

Biffy Clyro

The Hoosiers

Incubus

Kaiser Chiefs

The Raconteurs

Sleeper

Space

Sterophonics

The Zutons

 

Give me more to add!

What would you give this Christmas?

Its Christmas eve, the reindeer food has been scattered across the garden, the milk, cookies (and fruit) has been put out for Santa and the kids are in bed. Looking at all the presents my kids have this year I know they are going to be thrilled with all their loot… but I also thought about what I’d give my family if we were giving non-material things…

For my DH, I’d give the gift of contentment. I think its a beautiful thing to have, the ability to be content with where you are and what you have at any particular time.

For the Diva, I’d give gratefullness (is that even a word?). I think its hard at her age and being a child who has never wanted for anything but I would love her to be able to understand how fortunate she is and that not everyone is as fortunate.

For Destructaboy, the ability to sleep for 8 hours straight. Ok, thats really for me. Maybe a break from his constant ear infections, the kid has had a rough time with 7/8 of them over the last year.

What would you give your family this Christmas?

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