29 July 2009

Princess Party: Having a Royal Ball...

When a Royal Princess Turns five, a proclamation is sent throughout the land, inviting Princes, Princesses, Knights of the Realm and well-trained Dragons to come celebrate with a Royal Ball.

Since it is well-known that Royal families don't get out much, Kings and Queens are invited to join in the fun as well - on the proviso that they must all dress up in their Royal Best. They spend weeks planning their Royal Attire. the question on everyone's lips is "What will you wear to the ball, Cinderella??" (and "can I squeeze into my wedding dress??")

Since the Royal Residence is not large enough to hold so many, a new venue is found: 
a local Community hall, available for much less than a King's Ransom. 

The King and Queen transform it with acres of shiny Royal Bunting and strings of (borrowed) twinkle lights. 

The hall becomes a magical place, complete with banqueting table for the Royal Guests.

 A Ball must have dancing; in fact a Ball is dancing. A collection of the Princess's favourite waltzes (and other fancy numbers) is compiled by the queen. 

An honour guard is formed by the Royal Guests, and Princesses, Knights and Dragons form a parade. There is even a Royal trumpeter (a volunteer from the ranks of the FaceBook Guard).

Beautiful food fit for a Princess is laid out on the tables. Each Royal Family brings a plate of delicious victuals to share, so the Royal Banquet will not be lacking in sustenance...

The Queens give their Royal servants the night off, and pitch in to help prepare the feast in the kitchen; dressed in their best gowns, no less. Everywhere there is a sense of fun and celebration. This is a Royal Ball to remember.

There is waltzing. (So sweet!)

King Daddy the Great keeps the Royal Guests dancing, giving them gifts of light (glowsticks) when their moves are impressive and/or enthusiastic. There is not much sitting down ... apart from the feasting at the Royal Banqueting Table...

There is laughter: "Hahahaha! This is great fun!"

A Royal Castle Cake

The Princes and Princesses dance the night early evening away with their Royal friends...

The shining eyes say it all... a wonderful celebration for all Royal Families in attendance!

> Click
here for Royal Ball Party How To's...
> Click here for the FREE Printable Princess Party Invitation

27 July 2009

Five Years Today...

This time five years ago I was in the middle of a miracle. I was in labour, giving birth naturally to my precious baby girl.

Every birth is a miracle, a moment when heaven and earth stand still in awe that new life has entered the world (and that something so big can emerge from something so small!)

But five years ago for me seemed like... something unbelievable. She wasn't my first baby. But she was my first birth.

My other birth experience (with Dash) was a failed induction gone wrong (after being overdue and getting the beginnings of pre-eclampsia); not one centimetre dilated after nearly 2 days. Then - an emergency c-section.

This history did not give me any kind of confidence that my body knew what to do when it came to giving birth. I was starting to feel very overwhelmed and depressed near the end, as I faced going overdue again and the very real possibility of not being able to give birth.

Some good friends supported and prayed for me, and one of them said to me she felt that one week from today I would have my baby... One week later, I did.

Here's what I wrote to my daughter in her special book about that night five years ago...

"At 6pm I met my midwife, Irene, at the hospital for her to check on me. She gave me an examination to see what was happening about an hour after we arrived. My pains were very strong and I was sucking on this gas tube to help the pain, but I remember her saying, 'I can feel the bag of waters, See-mone! You're going to have this baby!'
I started to cry with joy! Now the doctors couldn't take over or give me a C-section.

Irene said, 'It's like your body has all of a sudden clicked into what it's supposed to do.' It was amazing...

"Finally you were born at 5.15am on Wednesday 28th July 2004. Apart from one stitch I was in one piece! With no epidurals! You were here!
'I can't believe it! I did it!' I said. I was overwhelmed. I felt like superwoman!

...when your daddy asked if I'd decided on a middle name I knew what it would be: "Grace" because God's grace had helped me do the seemingly impossible...

One week to the day after my friends prayed I was in the hospital giving birth...

I love you so much. You have brought so much into my life just by being born... I hope and pray you will always remember how much you were (and are) wanted and loved and what a precious gift and miracle you are..."

Happy Birthday Princess. Five years old and more precious today than ever. x

Royal Ball How To's (Princess Party)

Castle Birthday Cake

For Miss Fab's fifth birthday we had a Princess Party with a twist... We called it "A Royal Ball" and invited her closest friends to attend with their whole families.

Guests were instructed to come dressed up as Kings, Queens, Princesses, Knights etc (including the grown ups). Getting the grownups to dress up really helped create a great atmosphere of fun, and much anticipation as everyone tried to figure out what to wear (there were a few wedding dresses resurrected on the night).

The party was timed for 4pm-7pm on a Saturday afternoon, so it was getting dark after dinner; perfect for a banquet and a disco. To help with catering for so many guests, each Royal Family was asked to bring something scrummy to the Feast.

We found a lovely local church hall to use, and decorated it with lots of colourful taffeta bunting, balloons and fairy lights. It was a magical night with lots of dancing games, waltzing, boogying and even a Royal Trumpeter.

Here's how I made the Ball so Royal...

Royal Bunting...

I bought some cheap taffeta ($2 a metre) in crimson, royal blue, pink and mauve (1-2metres of each). I found the quickest way to cut out my triangles was to fold the fabric lengthsways into 3 sections, then cut/rip it into three equal lengths.

Using pinking shears cut diagonally one way, then the other way, to give you a triangle shaped flag. Keep cutting until all the lengths have been cut in triangles. Don't worry if they are a bit irregular! (Note: You must use pinking shears to cut out as it stops the fabric fraying and means you don't have to sew the seams).

Fold over the top of the triangle and press. Hand the triangles to a good friend with a spare morning for her to sew one seam along the top (or if you can sew/have a machine you can do this yourself!)

One evening while you are watching TV, get some lengths of strong twine and thread the flags in a random pattern. Wrap the finished lengths around some cardborad to prevent tangling. That's it!

Mix your Own Disco CD...

I made my own disco CD, by downloaded this free trial audio mixing software called MixPad. It's very simple to use; I managed to figure it out without too much bother. I could mixall the songs together with no gaps (you know, one song fading into another). The software expires after about 3 weeks, but the trial version does everything you need. Way cheaper than hiring a DJ - plus you get to use songs you know your kids will dance to. On the night, I just popped it in the CD player and that was that! Instant Disco!

Glowsticks were given as prizes for great dancing; I found some online: $13 for 100 glowsticks with connectors.

Jewelled Headbands
I forgot to take a photo of the finished articles! (Here's one of the headbands being worn) They looked amazing - my favourite was the black one. Just hot glue-gun a random pattern of 5 jewels onto some cheap fabric covered headbands. The little Princesses loved these and as I said, they looked amazing - for a cost of only .80c each! The next week at kindy it seemed there were jewelled headbands being worn everywhere...

(By the way, did I mention I am now having a love affair with my glue gun?? Where has it been all my life? Why have I only NOW discovered the joys of hot glue??)

Treasure Pouches (Party Bags)

Find some cheap crimson upholstery-type fabric at an Emporium. On the reverse side, trace a circle around a dinner plate. Cut out using pinking shears to avoid fraying/having to sew.

About 1cm from the edge of the circle pinch the fabric and small slits all the way around the edge of the fabric, about 1cm apart.

Thread some cheap gold braid through (tie the ends to create a tassle and avoid fraying) and then tie the ends together. Pull to create a cute treasure pouch; fill with sweeties, gold (chocolate) coins and gold (crunchie) bars.

Gorgeous Cupcakes (fit for a Princess)

So simple... ice with a swirl of pink butter cream icing using a piping kit (available at most $2 shops). Using the piping kit makes it look so professional and it is also extremely Quick! Top with an icing flower or rose. I bought these online on TradeMe. Almost too pretty to eat!
To make 36 cupcakes (!) I doubled the following Edmonds Book recipe...

125g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour and baking powder together. Fold into creamed mixture. Stir in milk. Spoon a dessertspoonful of mixture into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake at 190oC for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Jewelled Honey Slice

This recipe is from Desitute Gourmet. It's so easy and can be made ahead of time. I just added chopped glace cherries to give it some "jewels"...
1/2 cup sugar
100g butter
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups of rice bubble-type cereal
1 packet of glace cherries (chopped) -optional

In a saucepan melt the butter, then add sugar and honey and boil together for 5 minutes or until light golden in colour. Add the cereal and cherries and mix thoroughly.
Press the mixture firmly into a roasting dish lined with baking paper. Place an extra sheet of baking paper on top and press down firmly until well compacted together. Allow to set in the fridge and then cut into squares.

Click here for my Dairy-free Jewelled Banana Muffins recipe

Step-by-Step Castle Cake
Make a quadruple mixture of the Edmonds One Egg Chocolate Cake recipe.
Line one roasting dish and one square cake tin with baking paper. Once cooked and colled, skewer together as shown, with the square cake positioned right to the back centre of the rectangular cake.

Mix up one more batch of cake batter (yes, I know it's a huge cake)... and pour into deep, wide tin lined with baking paper. I used a baby formula tin to make sure it was nice and deep. Be careful how you line it as wrinkles in the paper will give you an uneven cake. Once baked and cooled, trim off any bumps and make sure the cylindrical cake is nice and even.

Ice with Buttercream icing - pastel green for the rectangular cake (for the castle's lawn) and pink for the square cake (the base of the castle).

Fix the cylindrical cake into the centre of the square cake with more skewers. Ice with more pink icing and then trim the edges/decorate with something like Uncle Toby's Split Ems' which have a cool zigzag edge.

For the towers use pink cuplet (square bottomed) icecream cones. Fix to the cake with a splodge of icing and then more skewers!

Using a piping kit, ice around the top of each cone and then top with a meringue swirl.

Decorate with sweets, smarties, icing flowers, piping kit, coloured sugar sprinkles, silver cachous... whatever!

More on our Royal Ball (Princess) Party...

Royal Ball
26 July 2009

The Royal Ball Went Off!

I am sooooo tired. Legs aching (still) from not sitting down yesterday from 7am til 9pm. But it was all worth it.

The party was a hit. All the plans came together, the guests all turned up, the cake didn't flop, the bunting got sewed, the lights got untangled and the CD got the kiddies dancing... there was even some waltzing and a Herald with a Trumpet!

Nearly everyone was in costume (yes, even the grownups)... lots of Royalty, Knights, a Jester and even a fearsome Dragon!
Here's a few photos from last night, emailed to me by my lovely friend Meg, who kindly took lots of photos for me. She's giving me a CD with them on tomorrow (apparently she filled up her whole memory card!) Can't wait to see them... :)

Now I'm off to put my feet up, while the kids are off playing next door and the house is blissfully quiet...
24 July 2009

Soil Milk

This morning Miss Fab came across a carton of soy milk in the pantry.

She turns to her big brother and says, all knowledgeable-like: "Do you know what this is? It's soil milk! Do you know what soil milk is? It's if you can't have cow milk. Have you tried soil milk before...?"

Dash shakes his head, no.

Miss Fabulous continues her speech..."Well I have. Yum, soil milk is so delicious! Can I have some soil milk please mum?"

I explain it's to make some muffins for her party...

"Oh OK. Mum, what's soil milk made out of, if it's not made out of cows? Is it made out of real soil???"

You can imagine how hard it was to keep a straight face!

The soil milk is in the pantry because I'm making some dairy-free banana muffins for Miss Fab's little friend R* who is coming to her party and has an extreme allergy to cows milk. I'll ice them (dairy free of course) and stick a raspberry jube on the top so R doesn't miss out on cake (he's such a sweet boy). Here's the recipe...

Dairy-Free Banana Muffins (made with Soy Milk)

1 egg
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Soy milk**
2 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons Baking powder
1 cup mashed banana (approx 2 bananas)
Beat egg, oil, sugar and milk together. Add in mashed banana. Sift flour
& baking powder and mix just enough to combine (don't overmix).

Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake at 200oC for 15 minutes or until golden.
For Dairy-free Chocolate Buttercream icing, substitute a dairy-free spread for the butter and combine with icing sugar and cocoa powder for a creamy chocolatey swirl of icing that dairy-intolerant kids will love (and everyone else won't know the difference)

*Photo of R borrowed from my lovely friend Meg. She has great food ideas for kids with allergies.

** If you don't have any soy milk you can actually substitute the milk with... pineapple juice! Works perfectly.