{{FIVE}} Superhero Party

Tiny took less than two seconds to decide that he would like a Superhero Party for his 5th birthday. I have no idea where his current obsession with masked crusaders comes from; he’s never seen a cartoon or movie or comic book featuring any of them, it just seems to be an innate rite of passage for little boys.

However, I was more than happy to roll with his idea – everything about it screamed “easy” and “fun”, which are my favourite words when it comes to party planning. I like having a theme, but I’m certainly not aiming for pin-worthy parties!

Superhero Party Invitation

Steph from Paper & Ink designed these amazing invitations for us; everyone loved them and I couldn’t recommend her enough.

I made these treasure bags out of fabric I found at Spotlight,

Superhero Party3

and the cake was my go-to chocolate mud cake, decorated with fondant and Blokhedz – I finally found a use for them!

Superhero Cake

I bought Batman and Superman duct tape, and POW washi tape from Warehouse Stationery, and used them to decorate paper plates and cups. The masks were also purchased there, for the grand price of $2 per pack of eight; I was going to make masks but couldn’t have made them for that price.

Superhero party

Games were chosen by Tiny: a treasure hunt, and Catch the Villain, using cans of Silly String, aka Spiderman Spray. Both were simple and fun for this age – they are old enough to play a couple of organised games, but prefer to race around and make their own fun.

Superhero party Superhero Party2 Superhero Party IMG_6842

Tall had fun playing the Villain, and all the kids seemed to have a fun time. Tiny is insistent that he’s going to have a superhero party for his 6th birthday too, so it’s fair to say he had a great time too.

Zoo Party

We finally celebrated Pickle’s second birthday, just a few weeks late, with some of his little friends (and their families) joining us for afternoon tea and general hilarity. Given his love of animals, a zoo party was a logical – and incredibly simple – choice.

I made invitations featuring Pickle’s favourite noisy lion, RaaRaa, and used pictures of the same (free colouring pages from the internet) to make a simple bunting. Cups and serviettes featuring a menagerie of animals were on the table (paired with plain green plates), with a little zoo animal for each guest to take home. Add a few orange balloons and a zoo made from Duplo and our animal collection – done.

RaaRaa Invitation Zoo Party Zoo Party Zoo Party Party Balloon Zoo Party RaaRaa The Noisy Lion The food was simple too (a change for me, as I tend to go overboard and then get flustered because I have so many things to make), and chosen with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Sweets, crisps and fruit, cocktail sausages (of course), popcorn and homemade gingerbread panda bears and tigers.

Panda and Tiger BiscuitsI had an absolute cake disaster to begin with (trying a new recipe combined with a failure to measure my cake tin was the issue – lesson learned!), but my go-to chocolate mud cake recipe saved the day, and I’m quite happy with my decorating attempt. Again, simple but recognisable, and the birthday boy loved it.

Zoo cakeZoo PartyHe had a great afternoon, and was exhausted by the end of the day – at one point I’m sure he was close to falling asleep in his cot while his friends, and Tiny’s, leaped about in his room!

Pickle and ShortPickle is two!

A Lego Party

4 Balloons on the trampoline Lego Cake 4th birthday Lego cake Lego biscuitsM&MsStep 1: collect balloons, crepe paper and treats in the main Lego colours.

Step 2: bake your go-to chocolate mud cake. Press the bottom of a (brand-new) Lego board onto fondant icing to create those iconic “bumps” and decorate using Lego brick sweets and (clean) tool-wielding Lego people from the birthday boy’s collection.

Step 3: roll refrigerator cookies into rectangles and set overnight; cut into blocks for baking. Ice with coloured royal icing and corresponding candies to make Lego cookie.

Step 4: employ your other half and your mother to blow up 40+ balloons. Argue with OH about the quantity of balloons needed. As he walks out the door at 8pm to buy more, remind him that you want blue, red, green and yellow balloons only. Yelp in horror when he returns 20 minutes later with bags of mixed colours and attempts to add orange to the mix.

Step 5: Go to bed and dream about Lego cakes and balloons.

Step 6: make pizzas, decorated to look like cheesy Lego bricks with little slices of pepperoni arranged demonically perfectly atop the cheese.

Step 7: sit down and relax while your birthday boy has a blast with his little mostly-kindy friends.

{Review} Stuck on You: Party Range

When the kind folks at Stuck on You contacted me to ask if I’d like to review their new Party range, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was just starting to think about Pickle’s first birthday, and given that I had no clue as to what we were going to do…having a few supplies sounded perfect.

I went online and created our personalised items, which was a straight-forward process; there are a number of themes, colours and fonts to choose from, so you can tailor-make these products to suit your event.

Stuck on You Party Range2The range of products is fantastic – I love the personalised invitations and thank you cards (and the fact that you can play around with the design online to get exactly what you are after in terms of wording and overall look), and the matchy-matchy-ness of it all (even though I can’t don’t do Pinterest-perfect parties, I must admit that the idea of a matching range had me swooning, a whole heap just a little bit).

Stuck on You Party RangeI also really liked the versatility of the products. For example, the cupcake toppers, party dots and party dots cards can be used in any number of ways – as they are intended, or as decorations, on thank yous…whatever you like. Whether they’ve been designed this way on purpose or not, these products allow you to use your imagination, which is a big plus in my mind.

IMG_4061The quality of the products is great; the invitations, thank you cards, place cards, party food cards and party bag toppers are all made of good, thick card with a delightfully smooth finish. They withstood a bit of crumpling from our three-year-old, which is always the big test!

Stuck on You Party RangeMy favourite of all, however, were the slim address labels. Oh my golly, seeing our baby’s name and address printed on his very own address labels was just too darn cute, and everyone commented on how sweet they were.

Stuck on You Party Range3I think the price point of these products is great -you’re getting a good quality product for a reasonable price. The printing was excellent, and the fact that you can play around with the wording online is a bonus; I like to see each change and how it affects the overall look of such products.

The only drawback is that you need to be organised in plenty of time to allow for printing and postage, but if you’re sensible and don’t leave the party planning to the last minute, then this is definitely the way to go – I’ve got my eye on the race car themed products for Tiny’s 4th birthday, and will be ahead of the game for sure!

NB:
~ for obvious reasons, certain personal details have been blacked out in these pictures.
~ the range of products was provided to me for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed here are all my own.~ Stuck on You also provided an awesome ‘Pin the Banana on the Monkey’ canvas party game, but given the age of our party guests, we decided to put this away until Tiny’s birthday next year. However, I can say now that the quality and design is fantastic, and we can’t wait to play!

For more fantastic products, plus the latest news and some fantastic competitions, follow Stuck on You on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Fun with Food: Chocolate Mud Cake

On Sunday we celebrated Pickle’s first birthday with family, a handful of friends, and morning tea.

IMG_3257I spent a couple of days making and decorating red velvet cupcakes, lemon shortbread bear cookies, pizza and a chocolate mud cake for my little bear.

IMG_3259This has become my go-to birthday cake recipe; this is the fourth time I’ve made it…and every time, I’ve dropped a spoon into the melting chocolate mixture!

The resulting cake is dense and fudgy, and chocolatey and rich without being sickly. It makes a decent-sized cake, and is easy to decorate and assemble.

IMG_3254

Chocolate Mud Cake – makes a 23cm round cake

200g butter
200g dark cooking chocolate
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c hot water
1 c plain flour
3/4 c self-raising flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 160degC. Grease and line base and sides of a 23cm cake tin.

Melt butter, chocolate, sugar and hot water in a large pot over a low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth. Cool completely.

Sift flours and cocoa powder into a large bowl, then fold into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs.

Pour into the cake tin; bake for 1 hour. Cool in the tin.

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Fun with Food
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Fun with Food: making Baklava

We have a group of friends who get together over the winter months for potluck, MKR-type dinners (without the competition). This past weekend, the theme was Eastern Mediterranean, and immediately, Tall and I started discussing baklava.

Our local Turkish takeaway does amazing meals, and Tall thinks their baklava is especially tasty. I don’t like baklava (it’s the honey), but naturally, I was up for the challenge.

IMG_3098This is a dessert that looks much more complicated than it actually is. The fiddliest bit is brushing each sheet of filo pastry with melted butter without tearing it; once you get into the swing of the layering, it takes no time at all. It isn’t a cheap dish to make in New Zealand, given the price of pistachios (I paid $3.79/70g on special, which is why I used a combination – the walnuts were about half that!)

This recipe is my interpretation of a few recipes found online, and from the amount left (or not left!), I’d say it was pretty successful.

IMG_3102

Baklava – makes 25-30 pieces

375g filo pastry
100g butter, melted
380g nuts – I used around 250g pistachios, 130g walnuts, but you can use any combination you like
2-3t cinnamon

Syrup
1c water
1c sugar
1t vanilla essence
1/2c liquid honey
coarsely chopped zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon

Chop the nuts in a food processor until they reach a breadcrumb-like consistency. Combine with cinnamon and set aside.

Preheat oven to 170degC. Grease a 23cm x 33cm baking dish.

Cut the filo sheets to fit the size of your dish – the packet I used simply needed to be cut in half.

Take one sheet and brush with melted butter; place another sheet of pastry on top and brush with butter again. Repeat until you have layered 8 sheets of pastry, ensuring you have buttered the top of the eighth sheet.

Place the stack into the dish and sprinkle evenly with around 3T of the nut mixture.

Top with 2 sheets of layered and buttered pastry, and repeat until you have used the last of the nut mixture. Top with a stack of 6-8 sheets of pastry (as for the bottom).

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into quarters, vertically, before cutting on the diagonal to form distinct baklava “diamonds”.

Bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, stir the syrup ingredients together over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until reduced to a thick syrup.

Pour over the baklava as soon as it comes out of the oven; leave to cool in the dish. Don’t cover it, otherwise it will go soggy.

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Fun with Food
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