Two little parties for Pablo's best best best friend Edie, one after school cupcakes in the park and the other a superhero pizza party at the Vestry House Museum. Supermen everywhere, and a rare opportunity for Pablo to scamper about with his lovely Montessori pals. Happy 4 beautiful Edes!
Four whole years of Pablo to celebrate. He has never not been wonderful, but at 4 he amazes me every day with his humour, intelligence, kindness, sweet nature and impressive dance moves. He is the most adoring and patient older brother and such a thoughtful and affectionate son and friend. Feeling very lucky to be able to share my days with this little dude and his wild imagination.
The party was to be a jungle birthday boogaloo bbq and demanded an Enormous Crocodile cake so large that I was collapsed in despair at 11pm the night before the birthday as I finally sat down to ice it and realised it wouldn't fit in our fridge assembled. Giant megathanks to local friends with an enviable double doored fridge who saved the day. Pablo got so many incredible presents from his horde of lovely friends, the kids shed their jungley getups and whizzed round the garden nude spraying silly string and trampolining into the giant paddling pool, I managed to sit down and drink half a bottle of prosecco with some like minded parents... a good birthday.
My very glamorous friend Fiona invited us to a perfect children's tea party for her gorgeous and amazingly named littles, Sholto and Esmerelda, at the magical Meanwhile Gardens. It was actually real life summer in England this weekend (of course it was, I wasn't at Glastonbury to wallow in its true suntanny drinking-outdoors glory) and Fiona supplied a very on trend tie dye bucket of Pimms, starry sandwiches and two enormous cakes - one Abney & Teal themed one dotted with little edible neeps, the other rainbow layered and eye-wateringly girly. Charming. Pablo ran around for about two solid hours in the rad outdoor paddle pool thingy and I ate all the kids sandwiches when nobody was looking. Indy pottered about looking delicious in her new threads (thank you, Liberty sale!) Meanwhile Gardens wins top marks for a kids party venue, helped only slightly by the sunny sun. Driving home through the aftermath of London Pride in a hot Saab at supper time was less enjoyable, but luckily I got to escape to London Fields for margaritas with the girls. Check out Fiona's fabulous blog Joy as it Flies for all sorts of stylish musings and reviews from someone with two small children who gets out a lot more than I do.
We had a beautiful first birthday & naming party for Indiana and so many gorgeous friends and family came along. Rebecca, Theo, Mark, Katie D and Katie C were made godparents and helped fill a time capsule for her to open at 18. Lots of pink treats to eat and drink, and Indy adored being the centre of attention and swanned about flirting with everyone all day.
My gorgeous husband had his latest birthday on Monday, and we were under strict "no presents" instructions, so Pablo & I conjured up a home made gift of his favourite raspberry ripple ice cream and a hand-crafted card. Then I decided that if we were making ice cream we may as well make an ice cream cake (a first for me!) Our freezer is now full to bursting with raspberry ripple but Konch had a lovely birthday and we all made ourselves feel a bit sick eating too much cake.
Three layer red velvet with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle cherries for Gemma... now excuse me whilst I deal with day six of the hangover from her birthday megaparty...
New Year's Eve is one of the first casualties of parenthood. I am pretty sure that I was asleep on the sofa in front of Jools Holland by 11pm last year. My own sofa. Nobody wants to babysit, nobody wants to imagine a way home across town at whatever-o-clock when the cabs are scarce and pricey . From about October I start to have little fantasies about countryside new years eves, snug and up to our eyeballs in wine and food with friends whilst the squids snooze upstairs. It's not quite raving but it's as close as I can hope for. WELL...The most magical invitation sailed our way this year - welcoming 2013 in Cornwall, staying with my awesome schoolfriend and king of comedy Felix in the most beautiful giant house with views of the sea. By the second day Pablo was trying to haggle for extra nights:
"How many more sleeps can we stay?"
"How about Five?"
He was in heaven with daily walks to see fairy toadstools and hunt out crabs, spot pirate ships on the horizon, play pinball, swim or watch Avengers on the giant television screen with our adoring fellow guests, who doted on him and fed him Haribo endlessly. What a treat.
New Year's Eve we did feasted on chilli and Katie D's perfect pavlova with cherries, plus my first ever (and definitely delicious) chocolate mousse. Pablo (aka Spiderman) was allowed up late to wander down to the local pub to see the pirate fancy dress competition and midnight fireworks. New Years day was pancakes, leftover puddings, swimming and a Dark Knight marathon. Nothing could be finer.
We stayed in London for Christmas, which I usually find a tiny bit sad because it doesn't feel like a "holiday", and I never go and do all the festive things I pretend I will, like carols at the cathedral or lovely late night shopping down Columbia Road with a hot cider... But this year despite the general greyness of London I had a bloody lovely Christmas. Santa was very kind and attended to many genuine wishes. After a suitably waffly brunch we packed into our "new" (slightly scary) 20 year old Saab and rolled 'round to my brother's for a perfect Christmas afternoon - food, games, wine, MORE presents, more food, and an insanely yummy pudding whipped up by the host himself. And then more wine. I am still dreaming of it.
So many beautiful home made touches by my super-creative sister-in-law, including the most beautiful cushion for Indiana! Feel very spoilt.
Quite pleased with the four layer chocolate fudge and salted caramel buttercream cake I made for my best girlfriend catty's birthday. Topped with an unintentionally (but, in hindsight, perfect) comedy profiterole cat! Recipe from the sensational Sweetapolita...
Just had a major weekend of parties, I think I may now have more prosecco running through my veins than anything else. Despite the hours of sleep I can never recover, and the sense of impending doom that accompanies most of my 30-something hangovers, it's always worth it for the chance of a long, rambling catch up with beloved old friends. Had to make little cakes for them too of course, and as I've been dying to make some meringues I thought I'd make this my excuse.
Both cakes were 6" versions of this recipe (1 x that recipe made both these 6" 3-layer cakes), though I made Chris's yellow cake funfetti inside and Liz's pink one was three layers of different pink. The meringues were strawberry and black pepper from this recipe by the amazing Meringue Girls:
Strawberry & Black Pepper Meringue Kisses
150g egg whites
300g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
50g frozen strawberries
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
This recipe makes about 50 (I still have a whole tub of them and have eaten LOADS, but also hoping they'll double for toadstools around the gingerbread house I may never get round to making...) so you can definitely attempt less. Also I played around with different sizes, which is fine if you are keeping an eye on them whilst cooking.
Make the strawberry coulis by heating the strawberries with a pinch of sugar until they break down, then whizz them into a paste and cool.
Heat oven to 200C. Line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper and heat the 300g caster sugar until the edges start to melt. This is apparently to help the sugar to dissolve into the egg whites. I am pretty sure I overheated my sugar because the edges were melted solid and I had to chuck them away. Still, it was only about 50g sugar and I just replaced it straight from the packet and all was FINE! Turn the oven down to 100C.
Wipe your mixing bowl & whisk attachment dry with lemon juice & paper towel to remove any possible grease, then add egg whites. Whisk slowly at first, allowing bubbles to form, then turn up the speed and whisk until you have medium peaks of fluffy meringue. At this point start adding the sugar spoon by spoon and continue whisking until you have a stiff, glossy meringue - about 5 minutes. Stir through the coulis and add black pepper to taste. I hardly added any black pepper and the taste was pretty strong, just as a heads up...
Turn a disposable icing bag inside out and paint some lines in red, pink - or, in my case, electric pink - up the side. Turn back the right way out (awkward!) and fill with yummy meringue. Cut a hole approx 1/2in in diameter and pipe meringue kisses onto a lined baking sheet. Mine came out great, but in hindsight I could have put a bit more into my stripes as some were very feint, so don't be shy with the gel colours.
Bake 30-40 minutes at 100C. To ensure they stay a bit mallowy in the middle, be sure to take them out as soon as they lift cleanly from the baking sheet.
I thought these were so easy to make, lots of fun and make fantastic cake toppers. Definitely going to experiment with more colours and flavours... in the imaginary universe where I have infinite spare time.
(yes, they do look like nipples)