Sunday, 30 September 2012

Parties for Little Princes and Little Princesses .........Penguin Prowess

So Darling Son # 1, wanted a Penguin Party.

Firstly I made some penguin biscuits

I started by acquiring a penguin biscuit cutter.

We then baked a basic biscuit recipe and obviously cut them out with the penguin biscuit cutter.  I decorated the biscuits in white and black icing.
I used CSR Soft Icing Mixture which is gluten free and added water to make a thick paste.  I divided the mixture into 3 bowls.  I tinted one bowl orange using Queen's food colouring and one bowl black.
I then decorated the biscuits using the black and white icing for the bodies and the orange for the beaks.
Here they are!!!

Penguin Caption

Next I had to make a Penguin Birthday cake.
This was much harder.

Here is what we ended up with.

Penguin Cake

Penguin Cake

Believe it or not, it is all cake!!!
It ended up being about 50cm high.  I made a whole lot of round cakes.  I used a basic butter cake recipe.  I can't remember exactly but think that it was about 5 round cakes.
I stacked all the cakes on top of each other and used long wooden skewers to hold the cake together.  I put a thin layer of whipped cream and jam between each layer.
I then started to shape the head.  I used a sharp knife and slowly sliced off the edges of the cake until it looked about the right shape.  I then carefully shaped carved out the next area.

I used Pascall Marshmallows and to make a fondant icing.  I always buy the pink and white marshmallows.  In a microwave safe container, I placed a small pile of marshmallows and heated them on high for a minute or so.  When the marshmallows had melted, I added CSR Soft Icing Mixture. Slowly add the icing mixture to the melted marshmallows and mix to form a dough.  When the dough has formed, knead it on a chopping board.  I sprinkled the chopping board with the icing mixture.  Add the black Queen's food colouring a few drops at a time until the desired colour is achieved.
I only melted white marshmallows to use for the penguins tummy.  I used the pink marshmallows and tinted it black and orange for the other parts.

I heated some jam and spread it over the cake, so that the icing would stick to the cake.

Next I rolled out the icing into large sections and draped the icing over the cake.  I placed the white tummy on first then the black section.  I used some more of the icing to shape the arms, beak, and feet.   I used tooth picks to help hold the arms, legs and beak in place.

Parties for Little Princes and Little Princesses ......Rubber Ducky

Rubber Ducky you're the one,
Rubber Ducky so much fun,
Rubber Ducky I'm awfully fond of you!

That's my baby, all she loves is yellow and rubber ducks.

SO for her birthday party we did a Rubber Ducky party and made a Rubber Ducky birthday cake.
This was relatively simple. We held the party in the park, which of course had lots of ducks.

I made a simple butter cake and covered it in butter cream icing that I tinted blue for the water with Queen's blue food colouring.  I used some Aeroplane blue jelly and made a small amount and when it was almost set, I placed a small amount on the cake and then placed the rubby ducky on top and Voila!!!!

Rubber Ducky Birthday Cake
 I found some gorgeous little ducky patty pans. I then made some little cupcakes. 
I iced the cupcakes with the same blue icing.

I made some little ducks.  I used a banana lolly.  I sliced a section off of one end, and placed a marshmallow on as the head.  I melted some Nestle White Milk Melts tinted it yellow with a few drops of Queen Yellow food colouring.  I covered the banana / marshmallows with the yellow melted chocolate.   When the chocolate was almost set,  I placed a currant on either side as eyes and used small orange or yellow jelly beans as the beaks.

Unfortunately we forgot to take some photos of the ducky cupcakes.  But here is a photo with them on the cupcake stand.

They matched her new ducky slippers

Babies Babies Babies .......ABC Fabric Blocks

My close friend had her first baby in January.
When I found out, I set to to hand craft a unique toy for her little one.
This is what I created.

Initially I cut out the squares.  

6 squares for each cube approximately 12cms each.

Then I cut out numbers and letters in contrasting fabrics.
  I typed up the letters on Microsoft Word and printed them off, for a template. 

I cut out numbers and letters in contrasting fabrics.  I typed up the letters on Microsoft Word and printed them off, for a template.

I used DMC threads to blanket stitch the letters and numbers onto the squares.

I pinned the 4 sides together.  To sew together, I allowed about 1cm seam allowance.  I used stronger fabrics like denims and thick cottons, to ensure the blocks won't fray.   I used a few pieces of ribbons to stitch into the seams to allow the baby something smaller to grab onto.

Firstly sew the 4 sides together with the right sides of the fabric together.  Once this is done, you can attach the bottom by sewing the bottom to the bases of the 4 sides   I then sewed the top square onto 2 sides of the cube. 

Once this was done, I used polyester filling to stuff the cubes.  I placed a small bell inside one of the cubes too.  

Finally I hand stitched the final two sides of the top square onto the cubes.

Personally I would prefer these in paler colours, but I knew my friend would prefer brighter tones.

In The Beginning...........

So where do I start?

We are a family living in an inner suburb in Adelaide.  We purchased our home when there were just the 3 of us, after returning from living away.  Now here we are with 3 more children still living in our small home.  We have tossed up the decision of selling up and moving further out onto a large block.  This would also mean we are closer our family.
 I grew up on a large property very close to Adelaide.  I was fortunate,  I was educated at a prestigious city private school, yet lived on a property with space to roam, fresh daily produce and chickens running free.  I love the idea of our children having room to explore and run around.  It is so healthy and good for their souls.  Yet here we are in a small house on a small block in inner surburbia.

My partner works in the CBD, so although we have considered the move, after much discussion, we have decided to remain put.  Our house is a 3 bedroom and the 3rd room is quite big, so it was fine for 2 girls to share a room.  Then we discovered we were having baby #4.

SO what does this mean????

Again the dilema arose, do we move to a larger house and larger block? Do I resign and remain a Stay at Home Mum???  How do I do that??? I was educated in the 80s when girls were continually told they can have it all, career, family, everything.  Yet how can we survive  with 4 children and 2 parents working.  We would be burnt out in weeks.  Yes I have a career, Yes it is above average, Yet the income is not much more than average, and by the time we subtract the childcare fees and other add-ons of working, will we end up in front or behind?
 So all these decisions and ideas floating through our minds.

 About Us

 We are 2 almost 40s living in inner surburbia in a small house.  We have 4 adorable children.  Two daughters, S=9 and R= 4 and two sons, I= 7 and H = 7mths.  We have both been educated and my partner has a good job in an office.  I have undertaken numerous paths and most recently have been working in a large organisation.   I took leave to stay at home with the children for a while.  Financially we are surviving, but not flourishing, and I am finding it hard to make ends meet, while still allowing my children the opportunities that I was afforded.

I was brought up, frugally.  My mother valued education and thus my siblings and I were well educated.  This meant my mother being creative in making ends meet.  So I have been brought up to save energy and not be wasteful.

My mother was the only person into compost bins, recycling before it was trendy and cool.  She saved jars, made preserves, recycled  boxes and turn off light switches all through our childhood. 

Where is society headed??

In this day and age, we are continually hearing about childhood obesity, global warming, increased levels of diabetes.   We are in a wasteful society and people are beinging to find the ways of my mother 'trendy' 'cool' and 'the way of the future'.
I had a friend (who we don't see so much anymore) who was talking about Peak Oil and Slow Food back in 2007 and  again, it seems the world is starting to listen and follow.

But,  how do we eat slow food and have a healthy simple life if two parents are both working full time?  This is my question.  Trying to live simply, frugally, healthily in a small house in the city!!!

So Far

We live in an old solid brick bungalow with very high ceilings.  The house is fairly ecologically designed with only two western windows ( one covered by a large carport and the laundry window)
This has ensured that the laundry works as an insulator for the rest of the house in summer.
Each window has full block out window coverings.  We have a large pergola/verandah across the back and have large deciduous trees planted across the back to allow us the northern sun in winter and shade in summer.

 Things we have done so far

  • 2007 we installed a 10,000L rainwater tank.
  • Removed all the pavers from our front yard - yes the previous owners had kindly paved the entire front yard!!!
  • Insulated our ceilings
  • We put in a new kitchen which is solid renewable timber, including recycled jarrah timber benchtops.
  • Planted in our small garden - all in the front yard
  1.  Moorpark Apricot tree and Peach tree which we are espaliering in front of our rainwater tank (which is in the front yard as it didn't fit out the back!)
  2. A triple grafted Pear tree - producing an early, middle and late season pear on each grafted branch
  3.  A Fuji Apple tree.
  4. A kashmir lime tree in a pot
  5. A passionfruit vine (on a liver - to help it flourish)

 More recently

I have purchased a breadmaker and have started cooking our own bread.  This saves our children from eating nasty preservatives.
We already use an ice-cream maker to make our own icecream.