Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well, after all my very very best intentions, I didn't get around to putting up all the christmas posts I had hoped to! I'm now in Melbourne, and after a stressful few weeks, VERY very ready to relax and have a holiday.

All the photos I had hoped to post are up on flickr and my facebook page, and I'll be back in the new year to go over the details of them! Just a good excuse to prolong my favourite season a little longer :)

Thanks for all your support this year! your comments, questions, feedback and emails have been really encouraging, and I look forward to being much more organized next year!!!

A random selection of photos from our Family Christmas party are below:

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To see more photos of our family Christmas party, you can see the facebook photos here or flickr set starting here

A random selection of photos from the Book club Christmas party I planned:


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All the dishes were based on books from the book club collection! Lots of fun to plan and make.

To see the rest of the photos on facebook, visit the album here or the flickr set beginning here

And last but not least, the Christmas cupcakes I made to photograph for my Christmas cards!:

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So that's all from me for this year. I wish you all a VERY happy Christmas and holiday season with your families! May you have a safe and relaxing break, and I look forward to seeing you again in the new year!

All the best - B xxx


Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Belated Turkey Day!

Happy Turkey day!!!

Whoops, I'm about a month behind :) Plus y'know, in the wrong country... but the sentiment still stands!

Thanksgiving was one of the things I loved most about my visit(s) to the states, and easily some of the most delicious traditional food, so we started our own tradition down under. (For those of you who are Kiwis and object to being referred to as "down under" like our (superior) Aussie cousins, I assure you that "down under" is all the same to Americans!)

Enter problem number 1: Pumpkin pie in the states = Pumpkin in a can, which we don't get here
Problem number 2: Yams are out of season here, so candied yams are suddenly more difficult than they sound
Problem number 3: Turkey here is RIDICULOUSLY expensive and somewhat hard to find
Problem number 4: Reeses peanut butter cups, Candy Corn and double-stuff Oreos are non-existent down this end of the world (luckily a bag of Candy corn arrived just in time, and just as well - I have NO idea what could ever replace Candy corn!)

So here is our improvised shopping collection:

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Looking at that now, I seriously wonder a) why we bought mini mint treats, b) what we had INTENDED them for, and c) where they ended up.... A Thanksgiving mystery I can no doubt trace back to my mum.

But lets go through this step by step.

No party would be a party (or so I have discovered) without some well placed, gorgeously coloured, custom-designed printables. Since I've been planning a Thanksgiving for.. well actually... since LAST Thanksgiving, I had some really cute ideas for some printables - and I had optimistically intended to design and make them myself....

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Gorgeous aren't they!

Wish I HAD made them myself!

But in reality, throw in a bit of a life, two OTHER events in the same fateful weekend, and a much-longer-than-expected saga with my first experience making mini toffee apples from scratch (My apologies AGAIN to the ruined stove top, the black saucepan, and the teeny tiny sugary burn on my arm) and I found myself with 45 minutes to go before the first guests were due to arrive, and no printables. Thank God for regular blog-stalking, Google Reader, and lots of other - much more prepared - paper-printable artists.

These little cuties I found through Michelle at Maddycakes Muse , and were designed - and provided FREE - by Carli over at DimplePrints (cutest name ever!)

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Unfortunately I had neither the ink, nor the inclination to print EVERYTHING out - we're talking pages and pages and pages of autumny-turkeyish goodness! - But it turned out that the cupcake toppers and the label tags were enough to set the stage for a rediculously filling and festive evening.

Thank you again to the lovely Carli for saving my butt at the last minute!

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Now THESE on the other hand. These I've been drooling over for months. Literally. Drooling over the cuteness ALONE, don't even get me started on the chocolate side of these little guys.


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These I found over at Our Best Bites - they're well worth a visit. And actually that's the same place I found the Glass Block Jelly recipe I used for our Christmas party! Lots of fantastic ideas, photos & recipes that are (relatively) easy to follow - if not at least gorgeous to peruse.

Sans Reeces and Double Stuff Oreo cookies, and with a little improvising with Ferrero Rocher, I think they turned out to be my favourite thing on the table! I still can't bring myself to eat mine... though I hear they were delicious.

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Last year I spent Thanksgiving with some good friends in Florida and was able to try some really delicious traditional recipes first hand. I had a recipe from my good friend Alyssa for her families traditional Yam Puffs with marshmallows recipe - YUM!! With Yams out of season down here (being summer) we used kumara instead - and it turned out to be DELICIOUS! I'm a complete sucker for anything sweet, and seriously can't think of anything better than covering ALL my veges with marshmallows... What a wonderful holiday.

Note also our "honorary turkey" (aka chicken), Turkey, cranberry and brie filo pastries, Cranberry stuffing patties, meatballs & noodles, and lots of yummy veges. Lots of too-good-to-be-true dishes that I think are the beginning of a very delicious tradition.

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My favourite part of the night (and the rest of the week, with the leftovers) was the pumpkin pie. I was lucky enough to have a sweet potato pie (my first!) made for me by a co-worker when I left Disney last year, and I nearly died. So obviously I had to find a recipe to make one myself - which incidentally is quite hard to do without a can! Luckily, Rosa over at The Culinary Explorations of Mrs Cake stepped in at just the right moment with a really easy, extremely delicious recipe that I am concreting into my recipe collection. Go and have a look at the recipe here

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Mmm mmm mmm, almost too good to be true. Even if my dad didn't like it. Pssh.

I think most important to the holiday is that it really genuinely - uncommonly - is a holiday that's all about spending time with people - no presents, no commercialism (at least not down here!) and a whooooooole lot of very full tummies. Sounds perfect to me.

But then what am I saying, Christmas is my favourite time of year :D And now that my obsessive-compulsively-chronological needs are satiated, I can get onto all the Christmas goodies waiting patiently in my flickr account :D

- B xx

Monday, December 6, 2010

And a partridge in a pear tree

Is it just me, or does time literally fly at this time of year? Yesterday it was October and I was flat out planning for my first big cake, suddenly it was November and a trip to Melbourne and Toast Martinborough and a big batch of cute cute mini cupcakes, then BANG, December = my first official themed dessert table for a client, a batch of 51 cupcakes with 4 days notice, a late Thanksgiving, and now here we are - 17 days out from Christmas!

Stop, breathe, start again.

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It’s been a big week, a big month, and let’s be honest – a really big year. The lovely Mia from http://miafied.blogspot.com commented on my blog today, and reminded me of how long it is since I last posted! And how much I still have in my magical-blog-ideas-Mary-Poppins-pocket of goodness.

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Which brings me on to you - to all of you who actually READ this, and follow these random whimsical things I've been doing - which thus far have been working out, touch wood - thank you! I love getting your comments and emails, and fully intend to put more time and planning into this blog for next year! If only more of you lived somewhere nearby so I had more people to help me EAT all the madness I've been creating.

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Like these. Teeny teeny tiny little vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing and teeny teeny tiny (excruciatingly fiddly) baby faces for an antenatal party

Look at the little bows, eep

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Thank goodness I wasn't actually there for the eating of these, they're FAR too cute. Plus I would've felt mean... look at those little curls!

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Another new exciting amazing wonderful thing I totally forgot to share - I finally got a new camera! a DSLR camera. A BIG GIRL camera, like the big kids play with. It's heavy, with lenses and focusing and macro and its own special bag and everything.

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I worry that I'll drop it. I worry that I'll never ACTUALLY figure it out

Sometimes I worry if I'm a dufus for hovering constantly over teeny teeny tiny cupcakes with my big big big black camera

But then look! it takes these cute little photos where some bits are in focus and some bits aren't (which might I point out, is probably more the fault of my questionable eye sight, and me THINKING It's in focus when actually it's not. Trip to the optometrist time perhaps?)

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Perhaps I shall add camera classes to my ever-growing list of objectives for next year. But then that means less time for baking... such a dilemma!

And I DID just finish spending 2 hours in the kitchen painstakingly rolling and christmas-puddingafying little Baileys Truffles...

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I wish I'd been more organised, and thought to start some kind of 12 Days of Christmas blogathon, since I have so much left to share! And since at least some of it really needs to be squeezed in in the next 10 days before I head off to Melbourne for the rest of the year - posting pics of Christmas cupcakes in January feels wrong, much as I wish Christmas lasted all year!

So here is my last-23-days-of-2010-resolution - to get everything posted in the next 10 days (maybe with some sneaky drafts to put up over the holiday weeks!)

Wish me luck! The next 10 days also bring Carols by Candlelight in Wellington, Annual (red-gold-reindeer themed) Christmas dinner with our neighbours, 2 sets of Christmas drinks, my last day at my job, Pre-Christmas-Christmas with my family, a trip to the salon, seeing all the Christmas lights around Welly-town, and a partridge in a Pear Tree!

It's summer for us down here, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for fine weather - what does everyone else have planned in the next few weeks??

B xx