29 July 2009

Princess Party: Having a Royal Ball...

Photobucket

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??")


Photobucket


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 hnour 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.

Photobucket


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
  • Or get this invitation personalised on my Etsy Shop...



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)

Photobucket

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...








INGREDIENTS:
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.

Photobucket

Click here for my Dairy-free Jewelled Banana Muffins recipe

Photobucket

Step-by-Step Castle Cake
Make a quadruple pixture 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 the Royal Ball (Princess) Party...
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.
22 July 2009

A Letter to the Teacher

My six-year-old son's Term Three Junior School Newsletter came home yesterday, and as I casually read down the list of topics to be covered, I discovered that my six-year-old is about to be introduced to Evolution.

Oh dear. This is one of those public school parenting dilemmas I have dreaded, as a Christian mum. I don't want to go all freak-out reactionary but I also don't want to ignore the potential confusion that could arise from my kid being taught something that goes so strongly against what we believe. So I've drafted an email to the teacher...

Dear Miss B

I just wanted to clarify something that was on the list under Science for Term Three..."EVOLUTION: Explain how we know that some living things from the past are extinct". I understand that the children will be learning about dinosaurs and fossils... which is all fine by me (and I am sure, very exciting for them).

BUT I am worried/concerned that the children will also be taught that people "evolved" from monkeys and that all life began as a random accident.

Before you put me in the wierdo/reactionary box, can I explain that for our family, our faith is very important and personal.

We believe that all of life is unique, designed and created by a very real Designer. We believe that human beings are more than just the cleverest animals on the planet. We have faith that we get to live on when our bodies give out.

This gives us hope and helps life have meaning; it means that we try to treat others with respect because God made them and loves them and each person is valuable not an accidental collection of molecules.

I won't get too much into the science of it (I'm not a scientist, though I do read) but the Theory of Evolution is still a theory, not proven fact. The Missing Link is still missing. Of course there is adaptation of species and survival of the fittest; but there does not exist any fossil evidence of one species mutating into another.

So I would be very against my 6-year-old being taught that he's an accident emerged from primordial ooze and monkeys, when it is actually more of a philosophy than true science. I am hoping that in Year Two we won't have to face that issue already?

The faith of a child is a precious thing, something to be valued and protected. Dash (while being a typical rascal of a boy) also has a very tender and sensitive heart. He takes things in & mulls things over. Dash is already asking some pretty deep questions about God, life, and the world.

We try to answer him to the best of our ability from the answers we have found through our lifetimes so far. How else apart from a real God can we explain so many of the uncanny "miracles" that we have experienced? In the end the choice of whether he wants to ultimately follow the Christian faith will be his own... it's a personal thing, after all. But children naturally seem to know that Someone made everything that's out there.

The whole Evolution issue is going to come up time and again, I know; my issue is with how it's presented... as Scientifically proven fact (which it's not), or as one way people have of trying to explain how this amazing world we live in came to be.

This may not even come up in the topic (I hope not)... but I just wanted to raise my concerns and ask for your clarification of what will actually be covered. Sorry if I have gone on a bit!

Kind regards
Simone G


I've just sent it off. I will now nervously await her reply.
(What do you think - did I explain myself OK?)
Wow, just had a reply from Dash's Teacher already... "Thanks for your email. It’s absolutely understandable that you are concerned. We are definitely NOT going into evolution as I understand everyone has different views on this. We are sticking to dinosaurs and animal survival e.g habitat, but we will not be going any further than that. Hope this has cleared things up. If you have any other worries please let me know."
Phew!
20 July 2009

My Eight x Eight...

I was tagged by Sammy a while ago to do this; then the other day Gail tagged me to do it as well. OK, I give in: I haven't done one of these tag thingys in a while - so here goes...

THE RULES: Mention who tagged you. Complete the list of 8's. Tag 8 other people.


8 THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO:
  1. Princess's Royal Ball birthday party on Saturday Night
  2. The Royal Ball Party being over and done with!
  3. Princess going off to school in two weeks
  4. Seeing my brother and his lovely little family when he visits from Spain next month
  5. Travelling to the UK in a few months time with the whole family
  6. Seeing all the lovely Newcastle Rellies after 6 long years away, and my lovely friend Maya
  7. Visiting Cornwall, where my Grandfather was born
  8. Meeting Mr G's Family in Scotland for the first time

8 THINGS I DID YESTERDAY:
  1. Stayed in Bed most of the day with a wicked flu & sore throat
  2. Admired my husband for managing the kids for 2 days while I was holed up in bed with germs
  3. Enjoyed a lovely lemon and honey drink, made lovingly for me by said-husband
  4. Read half a Paullina Simons book in one day (those are thick books)
  5. Missed out on Retro Sunday at church (it sounded like a blast)
  6. Watched Greys Anatomy and shed a few tears for Izzy & Karev
  7. Felt grateful for lovely friends and wonderful new neighbours who took my kids and made me some delicious apple crumble (who says neighbourhoods aren't what they used to be?)
  8. Did the online shopping. Where would I be without it?

8 THINGS I WISH I COULD DO:

  1. Go to church without having a panic attack from the noise and crowds (my biggest low point at the moment)
  2. Be more committed to exercise (I'm soooo lazy)
  3. Eat healthier (I loooove my treats just a little too much)
  4. Have a special space set up for me to paint whenever I wanted to
  5. Have the time to paint on a regular basis
  6. Connect with God more
  7. Think of an idea for an amazing bestseller
  8. Write an amazing bestseller

8 SHOWS I WATCH:

  1. Greys Anatomy (ohhh, the final next week)
  2. Gilmore Girls (I am watching repeats; I love those crazy fast-talking girls!)
  3. Desperate Housewives (OK, I am one, so what?)
  4. Spooks (a British spy series)
  5. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (the British one with Chris Tarrant is great; we all watch it while we get the kids ready for bed)
  6. American Idol (when it's on... I scored 100% on the Facebook test and got a gold medal!)
  7. Flight of the Conchords (occasionally; those guys are hilarious live)
  8. Friends (one of my alltime favs but I stopped watching the endless repeats a while ago)
8 FAVORITE FOODS:
  1. Pecan Pie
  2. Icecream (especially Italian Gelato)
  3. Devonshire Cream Teas (scones with cream and jam, served with a cup of English tea)
  4. A good medium steak with bearnaise sauce, fries & salad
  5. Gail's Sticky Toffee pudding
  6. Chocolate (of course!)
  7. Tiramisu
  8. Christmas Trifle
    (I admit it, I am a dessert Junkie)

8 PLACES I'VE TRAVELLED:
  1. England & Scotland (3 times)
  2. Paris
  3. Australia (about 15 times)
  4. Canada (Vancouver)
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Fiji (3 times)
  7. Tonga (twice)
  8. Mauritius
  9. Bali
  10. Malaysia...
    (what can I say? We have the travel bug)

8 PLACES I'D LIKE TO TRAVEL:
  1. France (the quaint villages & sea coast)
  2. Germany (oh man, the history)
  3. Greek Islands (isn't that mandatory?)
  4. Spain (to see where my bro lives)
  5. Ireland (to see where my dad's family is from)
  6. New York/Eastern USA (so much has happened there)
  7. Africa (on a wildlife safari)
  8. Israel (if they ever have peace)
8 PEOPLE I'VE TAGGED:
  1. Melinda
  2. Widge
  3. Amy
  4. Sophie
  5. Mocha Momma
  6. Meg
  7. PaisleyJade
  8. Becca4Love
19 July 2009

Soulful Sunday: Dreaming


"Dreams... inconsistent angel things...
Horses bred with star-laced wings...
But it's so hard to make them fly..."
- Sixpence None the Richer


Dreams. We all have them - or used to. There's the kind of dreams you get when you're sleeping (in those dreams I have all kinds of wierd adventures), and then there's the Dreams that are buried deep in your heart.

The seeds of those Dreams usually get planted there when we are kids, often in answer to the age old question: "What do you want to be when you grow up??"

A Ballerina, a firefighter, a superhero, a movie star, a doctor, a soccer star...

When I was little I dreamed of writing books. I used to make little books for fun, complete with pictures of course. I also dreamed of being a teacher (inspired by my favourite teacher, Mrs Hart).

I certainly never dreamed of doing youth work, or working on computers, or scooping icecreams.

But I did dream of a family, a Prince Charming to sweep me off my feet and playing house. Oh boy! Hahahahahaha....

Of course the reality turned out to be a lot more gritty, and much more work that I had imagined, but now that I am living the day-to-day reality of those dreams what now? Is dreaming over for me??
No way! Because as Lava Girl said to Shark Boy: "Everything that is began with a dream..."

I have to keep dreaming, or I will lose the magic, the joy in life.
I dream for my kids. I listen to my babies and hear clues about their dreams. I start to dream along with them, about the wonderful people they can grow up to be.

A few years ago I painted in my visual journal, a page for each of the kids about what I see for them and in them, and also my prayers for them... (Scrag wasn't born yet so his page is still to come).



I came across it a few weeks ago and was amazed to find that my insights still hold true for both of them.

But it's not enough to just have dreams for my kids. I have to keep dreaming for Me too.

The other night, Mr G and I were out on a date, and we were playing a game of Truth, which kind of turned into being about our dreams and imagining stuff for the future.


We talked about what we imagine each of the kids could be when they grow up. We said where we would travel if we could go anywhere; what adventurous exploit we would do if we could; We talked about what we would do with a Million Dollars. We told each other what we would do for a job if there were no restrictions: He would be rich and help people, and would like to start a home for abused kids (wow!). Mine was humbler...

I would write books.

Yes, the seeds of our dreams are so often found in our childhood. I never did get to be a teacher, but I started an education programme for at-risk kids; I may not be writing books (yet) but this blog has rekindled that old dream of writing. Who knows what could come from it??



What about you? What were your childhood dreams?
16 July 2009

Fit for A Queen

I have decided I am living in the wrong century. This realisation came to me today after I received a package in the mail; a corset bought online to complete the Queen's outfit I'm putting together for Princess's Royal Ball party next week.

It's a thing of beauty, red with black brocade, purchased for a mere $13 on TradeMe. I put it on (once I had figured out how the ties at the back worked) and...

Oh My. There's my waist! Hey, where did my tummy disappear to???

I am in love with my corset.

Why did we curvy gals stop demanding to wear these wonderful pieces of engineering? Was it those darn bra-burners in the Sixties? Or should I blame the Suffragettes?

All I know is that I have the kind of figure that looks very nice when it's all hemmed in with a lovely corset. Not only that but I think it really helps my posture too (I tend to slouch - not possible when you are wearing a corset!)

I may consider starting a corset revival movement... or just start wearing my corset with jeans? Isn't that look being worn by trendy young things these days?


My $13 Queen's Outfit:


Skirt: Remodel an old mosquito net.

Find one stashed away in the garage. Cut out the middle bit so you are left with a really really long skirt. Remove the string that is threaded through the top; re-thread with elastic and tie to the right length (try it on). While wearing it, open a packet of dressmakers pins. Grab a fold of mozzie net and drape and pin until the bottom is just touching the floor. Repeat process until the whole thing is pinned up into a bouffy, layered floor length skirt. Get a needle and thread and firmly stitch each bunch of fabric to the waistline. Press the stitching with an iron to minimise bunching. Wear with a Corset.

Corset: Find one cheap online. Make sure it is a vibrant colour, like red. Be amazed at how fabulous you look without having to diet at all.

Top: Check your wardrobe and find something muslin or plain black with a scoop-neck; preferrably with bell-sleeves.

Wear with ballet flats, $2 shop crown & velvet choker (optional: glue-gun on some fake jewels)

Be prepared for your kids to exclaim, "Wow mummy, you look beautiful...!" and your hubby's eyes to pop out of his head.


Photography by Princess and Me, Myself, I (sorry about the quality!)