cowboy, racing car, rocket…


Nine months ago he had started talking about his next birthday. Nine months notice to organise a cowboy-racing car-rocket birthday. I couldn’t really say no, after being given so much warning now could I?

Cowboy outfit

– local shop ordered in a kids cowboy hat for me

– opshop shirt (thrifted and still new)

– bandana from a stash at home

– cowboy pants and vest made by my mum

Racing car

Playforever car


– vanilla cake, strawberry jam and vanilla mascarpone inside.

– A chocolate ganache for the outside.

– Rocket made from sugar paste and colouring.

Honestly, birthdays make me just a touch nervous. I adore birthdays, love the fact that we are slowly creating our own traditions for our little people, forming hopefully wonderful memories, while also having had many beautiful birthday memories of my own.

So why would they make me a little nervous? It’s the overload possibility factor. An overload of “things.” I don’t generally feel that comfortable stipulating what people can and can not buy for my kids. I don’t want to sound like a poop, but I really don’t want people to purchase things just because they feel they have to. Environmentally, living in a small space and the fact that The Monkeys really don’t need much are also factors. So each year, I suggest certain family members contribute towards something bigger, (or something they really do need). A combined gift that can be enjoyed for a long time and later can be passed on, instead of a quick gratification, breaking and ending up in landfill.

For friends this year I’ve also said that no gifts were necessary. If they would like to draw a card, Little Monkey would love that. Otherwise just them being there and getting to share a cupcake at the park is super exciting for the little fella. I’m aware that I may not be able to do this forever. Perhaps in years to come, if one of the boys has a party and there is an envelope there to put in a dollar or two and then that money can go towards something of his choosing? How would people feel about that?

A friend of mine gets people to donate to a charity of her choosing and close to her heart instead of bringing a gift. This is a wonderful idea but apparently people still want to bring a gift as well. Who wouldn’t, a lot of people love giving gifts…I love giving gifts!

Then there is hand made gifts. If someone goes to the trouble of making something by hand or even purchased from someone who in turn had  hand made something…. oh I’m over the moon, but hang on, I said no gifts!

Aaahh, you see… this is why it makes me a little nervous each year.

Anyway, a lovely day was had. Little Monkey loved every minute of it and now gets to be a cowboy any day of the week that he chooses, (and it looks like it well may be every day this week.)

 links for people that may like a few little-people gift ideas.

Playforever car- these cars will last FOREVER. Beautifully made, they look awesome and would appeal to any sex or age (Mr Chocolate wants one now.)

Tiger Tribe car boxset- everything packs inside its own box. Handy, compact, well made and fun.

If you are in Australia I bought both of them through this company.


What’s been your favourite gift? To be given or to give?

This is my go to cake at the moment for a basic cake recipe. Simple and can easily be used for mini cupcakes or scaled up to a larger cake.

Vanilla Birthday Cake

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

80mls milk (1/4 cup)

2 tbls natural yogurt

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

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until changes colour to a white shade, then add vanilla, eggs, and milk/yogurt. Fold through flour.

Bake at 180C for approximately 10-15 minutes for smaller cupcakes, and obviously longer for bigger cakes.


1 tbls softened butter

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

For the icing you can switch the tastes round to basically anything you feel like. Lemon juice instead of vanilla, with some lemon zest through the cupcakes, amaretto, a little chocolate. Lots of possibilities…

rolling weekend


rolling weekend
slow mornings
bubbling ideas of making and creating
for me and also
Monkey craft projects
that bring a smile
that centres and stills
listening to rain
on little plants growing
simple food delights
remembering to breathe
dipping hands in dough
preserving the season
giggles with hide and seek
a kids party
tired little feet
which brings on
afternoon snuggly siestas
holding that moment


* Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on my reconnecting with nature, city style post. Every comment was truly appreciated, thank you for taking that time. Some reminded me of things, some inspired me and some just prompted me to do more.

Coconut Sourdough with lashings of Strawberry Jam

Many many moons ago, when I was a footloose and fancy free youngster, I worked in England for a little old lady. Charged with looking after this delightful old lady, it was up to me to make sure she was cared for and entertained. Being a little old lady she didn’t like big meals but she sure liked lots of little ones. There was breakfast, morning tea, 11’ses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper…alright maybe it wasn’t that many. But it felt like it. Afternoon tea however was a must. At precisely 3pm, a cup of tea and a little something to tide her over until the next meal would be served. Now more often than not, she would be rather partial to a packet of crisps and a quick nod off in the comfy armchair. Only for her to wake up awhile later with fallen crisps surrounding her and only the backpacker carer to blame it on.

Sometimes though, she would like a piece of cake or bread and jam. Accompanied with a little recital from the poetry in “Alice in Wonderland”. As I  was always happy to make cake and love to read this was always a really nice way to spend the afternoon.

Winter sun peaking through the curtains, little old lady with jam and bread perched on her knee and footloose and fancy free backpacker reading… “will you walk a little faster? said the whiting to the snail, there’s a porpoise right behind me and he’s stepping on my tail…”

Coconut Sourdough with Strawberry Jam- just the thing for a little afternoon tea.

Strawberry Jam

750gms roughly chopped and hulled strawberries

750gms sugar

1 lime juiced

1/2 lemon juiced

Cook the strawberries and sugar together. As there is no water in this recipe, keeping stirring continuously until moisture comes out of strawberries (otherwise it will burn.) Add juice of lime and lemon and cook until gets to wrinkle stage or do the saucer test. Bottle it up or just keep in a bowl in the fridge, (it gets eaten pretty quickly round here.)

Coconut Sourdough Loaf

175gms starter

1 1/2 cups bakers flour

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

200-250mls water

2 tbs honey

3/4 tps salt

What I did was mixed, over night ferment, 2 folds over about 5 hours. Final prove in tin for about 20 minutes. Baked at 250C initially for about 15 minutes and then down to 180C for a further 10 minutes. This was only a small loaf as it was an experiment. I’m not sure whether it’s the honey or coconut which hinders the rising process for the sourdough, (or it could be both). There were a few holes, but it is a denser loaf compared to my normal sourdough.

A hit though for The Monkeys when they were whooping it up for a little something to tide them over until dinner time.

The Lobsters Quadrille Lewis Carroll

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle — will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?

“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
But the snail replied “Too far, too far!” and gave a look askance —
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

“What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied.
“There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France —
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?