Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Life lately: camping & concerts

A couple of weekends ago - for Mother's Day in fact, we attempted camping again. Round 2. This time we were a little more prepared - the boys both resembled little Michelin men as I had them bundled up in practically every piece of warm clothing they own for bedtime - and it was most definitely a successful weekend! We had been planning to go to Pinecrest Lake, a spot that looks absolutely gorgeous but this cold May snap meant it was SNOWING there the day we were arriving. Although it seems to be nearly impossible to find last minute camping within a few hours of the bay area, we did manage to get a spot on the pretty Russian River, near Sonoma/Napa area.


The boys both did so well this weekend, and we all had a really lovely time. Ollie sure loved having his friends to play with this time around!




This past weekend our big boy had a spring concert & carnival at his preschool. My mama heart just swells with pride seeing him up on stage (far right)!


He had fun playing games at the little carnival and Austin loved playing on the toys at Ollie's school, although he was a bit of a grump because I wouldn't let him on the crazy jumping castle with the big kids.



This cold snap we've been experiencing the past week or so feels like winter and I'm so over it already (in fact, temperatures here only weeks off summer are COLDER than Brisbane right now. Where it's practically winter. Oh how I miss Aussie weather!). We are ready for warmer temperatures, backyard playdates, splash pad adventures, iceblock weather - bring on summer!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Cake Obsession

It's no secret: I have a terrible sweet tooth. I really don't buy a whole lot of treats though; I love to bake instead. Over the years I feel like I've mastered the basics. I can whip up a bunch of variations of brownies, various flavoured cupcakes, cookies, scones, cheesecake, puddings and so on. I have an ongoing to do list and learn cake decorating has been rating pretty highly on there for a few years, but it's only in recent months that I've really started trying different techniques. Guided by many youtube tutorials (and inspired by a friend here who is a cake decorating / baking guru), here's a few of my first attempts...

This was my first attempt at a petal cake for a friend & friend's son combined b'day cake. Looking back now, it feels so messy but I was pretty happy for my first try!


This cake was followed closely by another friend's birthday cake: a pink ombre swirl frosting with a pink ombre layer cake, perfect for an almost Valentine's birthday!


Austin's smash cake was my next attempt at the petal technique; much more uniform this time.


March was a busy month for birthdays. Austin's smash cake was followed closely by Mitch's birthday, celebrated with a 4 layer chocolate sour cream cake with whipped espresso frosting and chocolate ganache (and whoppers on top. The not-as-good American version of a malteser) that I took into his work. It was decadent!


Austin's birthday cake was simple, much like the Valentine's cake: a 4 layer blue ombre cake with vanilla buttercream blue ombre frosting.


Next I got to have my first ever attempt at fondant. I had never bought, made or even played around fondant before, let alone attempted to cover a cake in it. This was for a friend's daughters birthday, I watched a zillion tutorials (and bought the not so great tasting, but easy pre-made Wilton fondant and coloured it myself) and voila... It wasn't as scary as I was expecting! The cake here was a 4 layer dark chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.


My absolute favourite cake was last. Another friend's daughter was having a Frozen themed party and I had a go at a doll cake. I always used to admire the dolly varden cake in the Australia Women's Weekly birthday cake book (all Aussie children of the 80's will know what I'm talking about) and so I was very excited to give it a go! I just used 3 round cakes and topped with a bundt. The best (or worst) part - the cake sang let it go :-)


In American tradition, some cupcakes accompanied the cake: vanilla cupcakes with a frozen themed buttercream frosting and handmade edible snowflakes. I rolled out gumpaste paper thin and used a Martha Stewart snowflake punch (greasing it regularly so they didn't stick) to get the shape. Once they dried, I sprayed with an edible pearl mist.


Any suggestions on what to try next? Oliver's birthday isn't until August and I am keen to try something new in the meantime!

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The boys (3 years 9 months & 14 months)


Oh, these boys. Brothers. Best friends. Worst enemies. They love each other dearly but already fight like, well, brothers.

Oliver at 3 years, 9 months and Austin at 14 months.







Oliver has really grown up a lot lately. His thirst for learning is never quenched and he loves sprouting off random facts he learns all. day. long :-) He loves being outdoors and despite being quiet in a large group, he is a really social kid. Every day he asks me what the plan is and what friends we are seeing. He loves company but also loves a bit of down time and will quietly concentrate on his beloved craft projects.

Austin is..... Austin. This boy and his charming smile. He loves loves LOVES being the centre of attention, is always giving us (and anyone else who will so much as glance at him) his big cheese face and wants nothing more than to keep up with his big brother. He's taking steps but still not full on walking. He crawls at lightening speed and can climb just about anything. He wants to be doing whatever Ollie and his friends are doing. He's doesn't have any more words, but understands pretty much anything we ask him and communicates with frantic headshaking no or grunts of yes.

These ages, this stage, is exhausting. A preschooler and a toddler; two very energetic boys. But I am loving it. While certain things (um, park visits for one) have become much more challenging, I am really just trying to soak up all the craziness and enjoy this stage because the years truly are short. We are loving seeing our boys relationship develop and even though they fight (we have seemingly constant duplo wars), their love for each other is already so evident. They just love being together, tackling, chasing, throwing food at each other, blowing raspberries, building, bouncing.

Oh, how I love my two handsome little guys :-)

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Road to Hana {Maui}

It's not like us to book a holiday and have next to no plans for our time away - but that was our Hawaii trip. Our 'schedule' consisted of eat, beach, sleep, repeat. The only real thing on our to do list (besides the Old Lahaina Luau) was driving the road to Hana.

The road to Hana is a windy drive on the east side of the island, that doesn't appear to be super long but in actual fact takes all. day. long due to slow speed limits, hairpin turns, one lane bridges and many (many many many) waterfall photo opportunities. We left Kaanapali beach at 7am and didn't get back until 6pm, it was a long day but well worth the drive even with the rainy weather.









My favourite part of the day? It was almost topped by all the little banana bread stalls along the side of the drive, but the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park was a beauty.










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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunsets & rainbows {Maui}

Sunsets and rainbows. What can I say - I heart Maui :-)











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