Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When it comes to a family holiday, FUN is the number one priority!

This post is brought to you by Holiday Inn

Life as we know it is busy. Between two school-aged children, after school activities, working full-time, running a household, and all of our other commitments; we’re simply exhausted. Knowing that taking time off between now and Christmas is impossible and impractical; a weekend escape is the perfect remedy!

We are really blessed to live on the NSW South Coast...just 2-3 hours north, south or west, and it's completely different scenery; and that's the perfect travelling distance for us for a quick weekend away...particularly as being cooped up in the car for an extended period of time tends to drive the kids crazy (that's if they look up from the iPads). Hubby and I have been brainstorming our next short trip...

Me: "We could go to Young? They have the Cherry Festival coming up in December. I've always wanted to go cherry picking."
Hubs: "I don't think the kids would be overly interested in a place like Young."
"There's a fudge factory"
"I stand corrected."
The conversation continues...
"What about Boorowa?"
"There's nothing in Boorowa."
"I wonder if we missed the annual running of the sheep?"
"There's Wyangala Dam. We could go fishing."
Hubs: "I'm intrigued now. What other crazy parts of the State can we visit?"
"How about Canberra?"
"Seth just got back from Canberra."
"Yeah, but this time we can all go to Questacon, and the museum."
"True, plus there's the zoo. Seth slept through our last visit to Canberra Zoo."
"Well, he was only 7 months old."
Looking at google maps...
"Let's head to the Blue Mountains! We haven't been there for years. Actually, I don't think the kids have ever been."
"Yeah, we could take them on that scary train thing that goes down the side of the cliff."
"Jenolan Caves isn't that far from there either."
"Let's add it to the list."
"Well, wherever we end up going, it has to be fun! Maybe we should let the kids decide?"

So, that's what we're going to do. We're going to let the little kids choose where us big kids will take long as they factor in the following...
  1. There has to be fun and interesting stuff to do
  2. A nice hotel or cabin to stay in
  3. Loads of fresh air
  4. Access to good food
  5. The big kids get final say.
Speaking of big kids...Holiday Inn are on the search to find Australia’s Biggest Kid and are hosting a national competition – with a family holiday to Bali up for grabs!

WIN A Family Holiday to Bali!

The winner will receive a family holiday for up to two adults and three children to the Holiday Inn Baruna Resort in Bali including:
  • five nights’ accommodation
  • return flights
  • airport transfers
  • daily breakfast
  • 60 minute Balinese massage for the whole family
  • one romantic dinner for the parents
  • baby sitter for up to eight hours during the holiday and
  • AUD$1,000 spending money!
From today until Sunday 9th November 2014, big kids can head to to enter. If you think you might just be Australia's Biggest Kid, Holiday Inn we want to know you! Stevie Jacobs reckons he is Australia's Biggest Kid – Check out his video below to prove it.

What's your favourite thing to do on a family holiday?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How to create a beautiful Dolly Varden cake...

We have just celebrated our daughter's 9th birthday, and this year she wanted a simple checkerboard cake ("simple" was her description). Before I share that one with you, I wanted to reminisce and share the cake I made for her 8th birthday...a beautiful Dolly Varden!

As a young girl, a Dolly Varden cake was the ultimate. You knew you were going to a special birthday party if she made an appearance. These days, Dolly has been given a make over. No more chunky marshmallow skirt. With fondant so readily available, you could not create an easier cake! Here's how...

You will need:

  • Dolly Varden tin
  • 2 x your favourite cake mix (I've used Betty Crocker's Strawberries and Cream)
  • vanilla frosting
  • white fondant
  • soft gel paste food colour (for this project I've used AmeriColor's regal purple, electric pink, and sky blue
  • silver cachous
  • doll torso (I've recycled one of Eme's old Barbies)
  • flower cutter

Step one - bake your cake

Make sure you grease and flour your Dolly Varden tin thoroughly so your baked cake doesn't stick. Pour in your prepared cake mix up to at least 2 inches from the top of the tin, then gently place in the oven. The base of the tin is very narrow, so ensure you sit it on a sheet tin so that you have a smooth surface to rest it on. You will need to adjust the cooking time, so check every 10 minutes past the recommended cooking time. Chances are, your cake with overflow the top of the tin a little...just trim it off level. Allow to cool completely before turning out onto your cooling tray.

Step two - frost your cake and insert the doll

Dab some vanilla frosting onto your cake plate, and place you cake in the centre. The frosting will hold it in place. Then, using more of your ready made vanilla frosting, coat your cake all over. Prepare your doll's hair, and insert her into the top of the cake. You only want to push her in as far as the hips so that you can create the skirt up to her natural waist. It is easier if you remove your doll's legs prior to inserting her into the cake. You may also want to cover her base with tin foil, if you want to keep her after.

Step three - prepare your frosting and start dressing your doll.

Colour your fondant with soft gel paste food colour and need to spread the colour through, and to make the fondant pliable. First, you'll need to make her top. Wrap your other coloured fondants in cling wrap and set aside.  Wrap a little fondant around her waist and smooth it out so that the line from the cake up to her waist is natural looking. Next, roll out a piece of fondant, brush a very minimal amount of water on it, then wrap it around your doll's torso. The water will help it stick.  Shape the bodice of the dress with your fingers/tools. It doesn't matter what the base of the bodice looks like, as this will be covered.

Step four - build your doll's skirt

Roll out the fondant for your doll's skirt, then punch out a tonne of flowers. Starting from the bottom, add the flowers row by row. The frosting will stick them to the skirt.
When you reach the top, trim your flowers in a straight line in readiness for her sash to be attached.

Step five - add your details

Roll out a thin piece of fondant to create your sash. Wrap a piece between the bodice and skirt, and attach with a little water. Next add your flowing sash down her skirt, then finish with the bow. To add glamour to her outfit, dab a little water in the centre of each flower, the bust of her bodice, and the seam of her bodice, and add silver cachous balls. Dust off any corn flower, and get ready for your party!! The diamante number 8 pick was purchased at my local cake shop.
There you have Dolly Varden cake ready for a special birthday party
...and that makes for a very happy birthday girl!
Did you have a Dolly Varden cake as a child? If you make one, drop me an email to share.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Have I really not blogged for 5 months?

My name is Lisa, and I'm a blogger.
A very slack blogger.
A blogger who thought she was done with blogging about the here and now.
A blogger who decided to start another blog solely about diy and design.
A blogger who has since realised that she needs this space.
A space to brain dump.
A space to share and to talk.
This space.
Life as we know it will be back with a brand new spanking post very soon.
Who knows...I may even publish a few of the 24 draft posts I started months ago.

ps. Have you ever stopped doing something you really love, and then realised, gosh that was a dumb move?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recipe | Bagels with smoked salmon

Weight Watchers has prepared a series of healthy and delicious breakfast recipes, perfect for children (with a little bit of adult supervision) to recreate.

Bagels with Smoked Salmon
6 ProPoints value
Prep time: 5 minute
Serves: 2

Treat yourself to the classic New York breakfast of smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel. Smoked salmon also goes well with egg and pasta dishes.
You will need:
  • 1 individual white bagel, halved 40 g
  • light cream cheese (chive and onion flavour)
  • 100 g smoked salmon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 20 g rocket leaves
Here's how...
  1. Toast bagel halves and spread with cream cheese.
  2. Top each half with smoked salmon and drizzle with juice.
  3. Sprinkle with chives and season with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Serve bagels with rocket.
With the recipe in hand, and all of the ingredients gathered, Seth (with help from Dad) set up making me a special Mother's Day brekky...complete with a cup of tea in my favourite mug. Let me just was delicious and really filling! The perfect start to the day.
This recipe was easy to follow, and has given our son the confidence to try preparing other dishes.

How old were your children when you started teaching them how to cook?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Racheal's baby blue shower...

At the end of next month, I'm due to become an Aunty four times over! I'm beyond thrilled. I could be an Aunty a 1,000 times over and still be as excited that a new baby is joining the family. Racheal, my sister-in-law and mum-to-be, is looking so radiant at 32 weeks pregnant, and last weekend we helped celebrate the upcoming birth of her baby boy! Racheal's sisters thought of everything for her baby shower, and I'm thrilled to share some of the details with you...
Firstly, what's a party without a cake! This gorgeous cookies and cream confection was the centrepiece of the party table, and we all admired it for a few hours before cutting into it (such a shame to cut into such a pretty cake though!)...and yes, it was as delicious as it looks. This lovely was baked and decorated by Kelly's Cake Creations.
To compliment the cake, Kelly also made these delicious vanilla bean cupcakes. Each of the cupcakes were individually decorated with baby-themed toppers. Such attention to detail was ooohed and ahhhhed over by all of the guests...and yes, they were yummy too!
So, not only was Racheal treated to the most gorgeous cake, and cupcakes...Kelly also created a batch of baby-themed sugar cookies. They were cooked to perfection, and seriously good to eat...
...but by far, my favourite of the cookies was these little bunting numbers...cute huh?!
Zoe and Tracey decked out the party area in a sea of baby blue and white. The decorations they selected were simple, considered, and just perfect...
As time came to leave, we packed up little take home bags of blue and white hubby may have snagged a whole cup full of milk bottles! lol
We had such a lovely afternoon with Racheal; chatting, playing games, eating yummy foods (of course), and showering her with gifts. Why do women always oooooh at the sight of a onesie? Who am I kidding...I was probably the loudest. Thanks Tracey and Zoe for putting on such a fabulous baby shower.
Congratulations Racheal and Nathan! We can't wait to meet our nephew and cousin...and to find out the name you've chosen!

What do you enjoy the most about a baby shower? Aside from the mumma-to-be (of course), for me it's all the little details.

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