Last minute kiddo birthday present

cityhippyfarmgirl

Let’s keep this one simple and straight to the point. Need a last minute kids birthday present and have no idea what to give?

A gingerbread biscuit bigger than their head, yes it’s true.

If you have school aged kiddos, other friends and class mates birthday parties come around quite frequently throughout the school year. But what to get little Hayden from down the street? What on earth would Chloe like? And did we already give Theo lego last year??

I tell you, gingerbread.

Guaranteed no one else is going to be giving that. Homemade, easy, kid friendly, and can be made ahead of time, (or in a last minute hasty rush as this one was). Most kids are quite happy on receiving a gingerbread the size of their head, (and if not, well, there’s usually a adult lurking to happily help them out.)

If you have time, decorate it beforehand, if not, decorate the outside. For this one I wrapped it in clear cellophane and glued a mouth on the outside.

Gingerbread recipe here.

cityhippyfarmgirl

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Banana Smoothie Ice Cream

Banana Smoothie Ice Cream || cityhippyfarmgirl
 This isn’t rocket science here. It may not even be life changing…

but it might just be helpful!

What to do- Make your every day banana smoothie as you normally would (go on, add in an extra banana for good measure.) Now pop it in the freezer and leave it for a little. For ease of eating, don’t wait until it’s frozen through.

Guaranteed to make small people happy on hot summer days, and big people rather content.

To make this, I whack in…

4 bananas

1 tsp vanilla

some milk

Whizz it all up and into the freezer. Drizzle on some honey just before eating and spoon out as you would regular ice cream. Just the thing for cooling off on a hot day.

************

Do you have any regular foods you tweak for extra hot days?

 

when four turns into five

robot birthday cake- cityhippyfarmgirl five- cityhippyfarmgirl  It’s the way the little fella likes to plans things you see. The day after his birthday, he starts planning for his next birthday. 364 days of planning and not faltering once from the theme. Robots he wanted this year…and robots it was.

A robot cake, which he excitedly decorated himself. Just leave me the middle, I whispered, not telling him why. The robot and and mini bunting I snuck on last minute. He got the joy of decorating his cake and I got the joy of still surprising him.

Robot party bags to be coloured in by the kids coming over. Pin the glasses on the robot and robot dance moves were a given. I didn’t want excessive waste, plastic or money spent and he wanted to just have fun with his friends. I think just maybe, we might have got the balance right.

robot party ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

A few simple party ideas

– happy bee garden mix flower seeds (in the party bag.)

– recipe for bubble mixture passed on (in the party bag.)

– bunting decorations I had made. (With three kids, birthday celebrations of some sort are a given each year. Easy, instant, and a green option for decorating.)

– reusable plastic glasses with the child’s name on it, (not plastic one use throw aways.)

– kids get to decorate their own cupcakes.

– invites were retro ones found at Stash and Treasure for 20c a packet of 6.

Food

olive oil bread bites

– gingerbread five’s

– popcorn

– fruit

– chocolate vanilla layer biscuits

– cupcakes

robot cake- cityhippyfarmgirl

sometimes it’s hard throwing snakes out the window

A recent long road trip saw The Monkeys in the back of the car squabbling.

Not the kind of squabbling that can easily be ignored, and conversation continued on and over. No. The kind that needs a turn of an adult head, a slight narrowing of the eyes and some tough words thrown at them. Yep, tough words.

Nope. Didn’t work.

Step two. Explain to them this is how it was going to work. If things continued like this, and at that noise level of bickering, desperate measures would have to be taken… Yep, desperate measures.

Nope. That didn’t work either.

Step three. Ok, really desperate measures.

Jelly snakes.

I first read of this drastic measure on Myrtle & Eunice. I laughed so hard reading it, and vowing it was a brilliant idea and was sure to be used on our own road trips down the track. Well here we were, down the track.

Crunch time. With noisy arguing kids in the back, a long way still to drive, and a bag of jelly snakes on my side. Well it was time wasn’t it…

It was jelly snake time.

The rules were simple. Every time they yelled/ argued/ annoyed one of us. A snake would lose it’s life. Tossed out the window without a second thought. The Monkeys looked on with wide eyed horror as the rules were laid out. Surely mama wasn’t serious?….

It was quiet… for a whole two minutes, and then the inevitable had to happen. The squabbling started up again and a snake had to go. No more warnings, no more threats, no more laying down of the rules. The rules were set and they had just been broken. Quickly and painlessly the snake was thrown. There was a collective gasp from all of us. From The Monkeys realising I had actually followed through with it and from Mr Chocolate and I on the realisation that there was no way I could slip that snake from its precarious open window seat to Mr Chocolate’s willing and open mouth.

The snake was thrown and peace reigned for the next three hours.

It only took the one.

*And I am very sorry to the person driving behind us who got a surprising jelly snake splat on his windscreen.

Dancing Lemon Vanilla Stars

There he was in front of me, eyes intensely locked to mine.

His body convulsed like he was touching an electric fence down in the back paddock. Convulsing in time with the deep thumping bass. The twisting colourful lights bounced off his eyes. When he widened them it gave him a slightly manic look. I awkwardly looked away, thinking he must have been doing this for quite some time for everyone dancing here, but no. He only had eyes for me. He had followed my shift of focus and was again in my line of sight, seemingly getting closer.

His body convulsing from one side to another, his eyes locked again, and he grinned from ear to ear this time. Using his hands in some odd dance like feature that made me think of a baby dinosaur. He was trying to impress me that was for sure. I stifled a giggle. I didn’t want to offend him, but it really was hard not to laugh at his intensity of moves.

The thumping music, darkened corners, squeals of happiness, flashing colourful lights and this odd little red head who was trying his very best to impress me with his dance moves. Except this wasn’t a night club, those club days were but a foggy memory, and that red head was pint sized, lucky to be 3 foot tall. I was at Monkey Boy’s school disco, and currently surrounded by about 200 squealing five, six, and seven year olds and their siblings.

I had Little Monkey perched on my hip clinging to me as only a little monkey could. Too dark and too noisy for him.

Monkey Boy looked on with big wide eyes. Uninterested, when a pretty little class mate tried to gently take him by the hand and coerce him to dance in the centre with her. He clung on to his mama’s leg, (not sure how long that will last.) She looked hurt on the second attempt to try and convince him to dance with her. Flicking her long hair, as she moved off into the heaving dance floor.

Some boys were break dancing. Girls were jumping and giggling in circles. One girl did her very best robot to two unimpressed older boys, and all the shy kids stood by and watched from the side shadows.

Swap the venue, add another metre in height to everyone and not really much had changed since back in my nightclub days. Except here, no stink of spilt beer and vodka mixers.

(I did however, suspect a little too much diluted apple juice… and clearly that little convulsing pint-sized red head may have had a drop too much.)

 lemon vanilla stars

200g softened butter

150g sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp lemon rind

225g (1 3/4 cup) plain flour

Cream butter and sugar, add vanilla and lemon. Then mix through the flour. Chill in fridge for a little while wrapped in plastic (if weather is warm) and then roll out (I find rolling between two sheets of baking paper easiest, as it’s a sticky dough), cut out stars and bake at 170C for 20 minutes.

This dough also freezes easily into a log, then just cut off rounds to bake as you need them.

smells like pink cupcakes

I couldn’t get them out of my head.

Pink cupcakes.

Everywhere I turned. There they were in my thoughts. In all their pinkness… and cupcakey-ness.

Little Monkey was even beginning to smell like pink cupcakes.

…actually I always think he smells like a pink cupcake.

Monkey Boy doesn’t smell like a pink cupcake. But he likes to eat them. Both of them like to eat them.

Now I’ve made them I can turn my attention to more pressing matters at hand, (like reading.)

*****

Pink Cupcakes

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

3tbls natural yogurt

80mls milk (1/3 cup)

225g s/r flour (1 1/2 cups)

Cream butter and sugar, add vanilla, eggs, yogurt, milk. Fold through flour.

Bake at 180C for approximately 25 minutes.

Icing

2 dessert spoons natural yogurt

red colouring (I used a little beetroot juice)

icing sugar

The week that was…

The week started off with a little playground action.

Visited the our wonderful local council nursery. So many great plants to buy. Also got some good tips for my worm farm.

Actually I am loving our local council nursery, an un-utilised resource for people. I’m trying to spread the word but I have seen a few glazed eyes as I tell people how great it is. Most people still like to keep to what they know and that’s a chain hardware/nursery supplies shop.

…..then we had  some  playground action.

The old favourite banana cake was made once more. Tried and true and eaten in a day. Its too easy not to make when those bananas are racing out the door in their black coats. And you can dress ’em up or dress them down’.

Depends on my mood whether it’s a sweet banana cake made with brown sugar and is lovely, light and fluffy or it can be a healthy little brick that involves a whole lot of pepitas, sunflowers seeds, linseed meal and honey. I like the brick but the boys like the fluffy.

After the cake was polished off, the monkeys and I had a little more play ground action.

Then some white nectarine jam. I wasn’t sure about this one. I’m not a big fan of white nectarines to begin with. I find them, not particularly juicy and the flavour is a little perfume-y. So when a whole lot of end of season fruit found their way in to my kitchen, I was unsure of what to do with them. So jam it was.

1kg white nectarines

600 ml water

600 gms sugar

juice of 2 lemons

1 large strip of lemon rind

It has actually grown on me. I thought initially it was too tasteless and just sweet in taste. However the next day after it had had time to think about things a little, the subtlty of the nectarine is a bit more apparent. The consistency is great too. Thick and delicious. Actually it was the consistency that made me re- think the whole jam and find something else to like about it. I don’t love it, but it still sure beats a generic shop one.

That ended our week, right after we went to the playground.

Accident prone gingerbread men

Gingerbread men. I have had the taste for these little fellas all week, and it was about time my fingers walked the talk. Besides there is nothing the monkeys like more, than helping to make biscuits.

We have these funny little gingerbread men cut outs with an arm or leg missing- although the boys just think some one has been tucking into their biscuits.

Biscuits should be their middle names. The hint of a biscuit and the older monkey is clambering all over me to get in on the biscuit action. This is done with shouts of “Glook! Glook!” (what the little monkey calls biscuits) as he shoves them  in as quick as possible, as obviously the quicker he eats them the more he gets (or so he thinks).

This is then followed by their dear father, muttering “I feel like biscuits” as the monkeys go to bed and quiet time ensues. Quiet time except for the persistent grumble of a stomach only hungry for biscuits.

Actually…. Maybe biscuit should be our family name.

Unusual yes.

But fitting….

why cafes and kids simply don’t mix

I live in the city. I live in a flat. I have 2 young energetic kids.

Now back in the day I loved nothing better than to sit back sipping my decaf soy latte. Then I moved on to the little macciato’s, cappuccino’s had a look in for a while and then back to the decaf latte again while pregnant. Add a little biscotti, some people watching, the weekend paper, it doesn’t get much better. So I know my cafe culture. I love my coffee culture. Its one of the best perks of living in a city. The choice of many great coffee haunts.

So what happens when you have a child? You drag them along too of course. You cling on to that cafe culture as long as you can. We don’t have a grassy back yard, where the kids can run around, so parks and playgrounds are utilised nearly daily, or even twice daily. And if it happens to be raining? Why a playdate at the local cafe for a babycino sounds quite lovely.

Now with one child a cafe date is ok. It’s not great, but you can do a little chatting, mop up the spilled milk, back to chatting, help the child back on to the chair after falling off etc etc. You can still cling on to that coffee dream that cafes are still for you, just as a family now.

Then the 2nd one comes along. Lets face it, the dream is shattered. Even with two adults to referee, and a toy box (if the cafe is really kind), it’s just not worth the pain of it all.

The youngest screams for more biscuit, the oldest trickles milkshake down the leg of the table, the youngest snatches the best toy off his big brother, the oldest dongs his brother on the head with said toy and gives him a quick pinch for good measure. The ‘ahhh, this is a lovely coffee ‘ moment is so brief, you vow not come again with the little monkeys.

Then 2  months go by, you forget the pain of it all as the mesmerizing coffee smells tease your nostrils again, wooing you in. So you drag the monkeys in with promises of milkshakes and biscotti again, in order to clutch on to that fleeting memory of old cafe days.

Episode repeats itself, with younger monkey fluttering his eyelids at the waitress as she starts sweeping the metre wide crumbs from under the table and older monkey stepping on outside dogs tail while trying to pat it as we make a hasty retreat once more.

Cake eye

Coming back from grocery shopping my youngest little monkey decided he would help put things away. Before anyone could stop him he had ‘put away’ 5 eggs. Cracked and leaking but still within their shells, I had to make something with them straight away. I couldn’t waste 5 whole eggs. But what to make?

Quiche?

Scrambled eggs?

Cake?…Well that didn’t need too long thinking about. Of course it had to be cake!

Now I had just come home with some blueberries, and all week I had had the taste for some simple vanilla cupcakes. ( I had the *cake eye you see) So why not combine the two?

A vanilla blueberry cake!

The monkeys were napping so I whipped it up. I think it had 5 minutes too long in the oven but still not bad for a made up first effort. I certainly liked the way it looked.

The two monkeys woke up and I thought I would vacuum the place, just another few years and I will be able to get the two of them  to do that for me- for a nominal amount of pocket money of course. However until then, it was me.

Happily vacuuming away and started thinking….hmm, wheres the little monkey? Its been a whole minute since I have seen him and its very quiet.

Vacuum…. too quiet…. vacuum….really should check on him….. vacuum…. oh its been 2 minutes, where is he?

I had just vacuumed everywhere but the kitchen so he had to be there.

And there, standing perched on top of his little monkey chair that he had pulled up along side of the bench. He had a prime position to pick all the best bits of the Vanilla Blueberry Cake into his sweet innocent mouth.

He had the *’cake eye’ and he had it bad. Looking casually around to me, ‘oh good mama, you were taking awhile, so I thought I would help my self to some of this delicious looking cake I found on the bench’.

* CAKE EYE– Where you have a taste for something for sweet. You can think of nothing else but cake and you will not be sated by anything else until you get it. A term coined by my dear husband, and is able to explain sooo much in just two little words…. Cake eye.