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…

Vanilla Plum Trifle

How did this Battenburg Cake over at Zeb Bakes become this Vanilla Plum Trifle?

Well as is happens, I had really strong intentions of giving the Batternburg a crack. I saw it, I had never heard of it, it, it looked tricky and I wanted to play. I thought the combination of vanilla and plum for the cakes would be nice. I also thought the vivid colour of my frozen summer plums would transcend in to the cake just a little more than it did. I also thought I had caster sugar.

Result?… A cake that had raw sugar sticking out in it, and a rather murky plum cake colour that did not contrast at all with the vanilla side. What to do?

Ditch it and eat the cake?… Or, as my mind went tickity tock. I thought Plum puree red and delicious…. vanilla mixed with a little mascarpone and dunk it all in cake…. Done. The deal was sealed and Mr Battenburg will have to wait until another day. This was given a 10/10 from Mr Chocolate, and he NEVVVERRR gives 10/10. It didn’t even have chocolate in it.

Vanilla Plum Trifle

chopped up pieces of plain vanilla cake

1 1/2 cup plum puree

250gms mascarpone

1 tps vanilla

1/2 cup icing sugar


In bowl place chopped up pieces of cake, and then drizzle some of the plum puree over  the cake. Whisk together the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla. In between the cake and plum puree, dab spoonfuls of the mascarpone mixture. Keep laying the three componants until all used up and then place strawberries on top to fill in any gaps. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours to infuse the flavours.

Vanilla Cake

200gms softened butter

200 gms sugar

Cream these two together. Add

3 beaten eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

When mixed well, add

200 gms s/r flour

cook in lined baking tray at 180 C until golden.

Then cut into small squares.