Monday, September 10, 2012

A Cat Named Jess

A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law Irma asked me to make a cake for her daughter Lucia's 1st birthday. The catch? It was three days away -- Yikes! Ok sure, I could do this! The theme was Jess the Cat, a little black and white cat from a kids' T.V show called Guess With Jess. I was familiar with him, so I hit the shops and tried to find a Jess figurine to put onto a cake. When shops number one, two and three didn't stock them, I began to get worried... But only after shops four, five and six confessed they had never sold any kind of Jess product whatsoever, did I begin to fear... would I have to use my imagination to create this cake?  Heaven forbid! Figurines were my thing! It's what I did! Now what do I do? How do I make a cute Jess themed cake without Jess?

I gave it some thought. I hit the internet and looked at pictures of Jess. An idea was forming... Would it work? It had to work, I had no time to keep thinking! It was time to start planning.. So I made a sketch:

I decided to use fondant to make the face of Jess and put it on the cake with little paws hanging over the front of the cake. OK, I could do this... 
I looked at the random collection of fondants I had stashed away over the past year, and to my surprise I was shocked to see that I had every single color I would need in order to make a perfect Jess cat. So I got to work rolling and slicing and trimming and placing piece upon piece. It was surprisingly easy, and pretty soon I had a gorgeous little cat looking back at me! No one was more surprised than me!

I made some paws and added a collar and bell. This thing just got cuter and cuter! And the best part? When I looked at the clock the whole process had taken only and hour and a half! Awesome time! I would definitely be making this style cake again!

Once he was all done, I left him to rest for the night, and the next day I made a cake and added some detail to match the theme of the invitation. Thanks to Juan's genius, I decided to follow his advice and color some wire in permanent black marker which worked a lot better as whiskers than the black floppy licorice sticks I had planned. Thanks Babe!

Just before we left for the party I actually ended up sticking the little paws onto the front edge of the cake instead of leaving them on the board. It worked great, and the whole thing was just so adorable. SOOO happy with it, and it was all done in like 3 1/2 hours! I know, I know, to a non-cakey kind of person that sounds hideously long and arduous, but seriously, I've spent like 6-10 hours making a two-three tier cake before. So this was a lovely change and it felt like something I just 'whipped up'. Needless to say, I'll definitely be making this style cake again. And Irma loved it, which was the best part of all. :-)
Happy 1st Birthday baby Lucia! 

Eadie's Big Accomplishment

Every now and again I'll buy the girls scholastic workbooks to help them with their numbers, letters, problem solving, etc. Vettoria loves them so  much she would finish a whole book in a couple of hours if I let her. She is currently up to books for 6 year olds and is completing work for first graders. Doing mathematics, spelling, writing and arithmetic problems, to her are hours spent in fun.

Eadie on the other hand is not so easy to please. Actually, I take that back.. She is easy to please, just not as easy to ... keep clean...
Eadie's idea of fun is mixing water and dirt together and seeing how far it will spread on her body. Right now I am writing this as we are both sitting at the table and she is eating rice from a plate. Tori has finished her dinner already, as she just used her spoon to scoop up the food and shovel it into her mouth. But not Eadie. Eadie has spread the rice all over her plate and is using her spoon to flatten it into a big flat mass. She then scoops it up and nibbles small bits at a time from the spoon and lets the rest fall messily back onto the plate and table at which she then uses her hand to push the lost rice back onto her plate, while at the same time using her fingers to help scoop the rice back up onto the spoon to do it all over again. Everyone now and again she looks over at me and says, "Mummy look, I made my rice nice and flat! This is how you do it... with the spoon, see?" It's so cute. Well, in a "Great, I'll have to clean that later..." kind of way... Anyway, you get the point. Different personalities, different methods of fun.

So, about a year ago when I bought Eadie her first scholastic preschool workbook she wasn't too enthusiastic to get into it. Needless to say before too long it had scribbles all over it and I think we threw it out some time last year because most of the pages were ripped out of it. Nevertheless I decided to give it another shot this year, and about 4 months ago I bought her a new book. It had a collection of tasks like counting, mazes, coloring, measuring, tracing numbers, and comparing sizes, etc. To my delight, she loved it!

Unlike Tori she really wasn't interested in doing it for longer than 15 minutes, but still she loved it when we did it, and it was so awesome watching her little mind look and observe and remember and then do 'problems' all by herself! I loved discovering her different ways of learning. She's a perseverer  that's for sure. At first she didn't understand many of the tasks. Things that seemed quite self-explanatory she would just not understand. But sure enough she wouldn't let herself get down about it for too long. And after one more explanation and example, she would get it! She would be so excited and we would quickly move on to the next one. It was so different to Tori's attitude when she does her workbooks. As soon as I explained how to do something to Tori, she would naturally grasp how to do it. It's an amazing gift she has. But if she didn't get an answer right, she would be devastated. She wouldn't want to do it anymore, and only after persuasion from me and encouraging her that she will get it if she practiced and tried one more time, then would try again, get the result, and proudly move on to the next one.

Such opposites!

Anyway, we were working on Eadie's book the other day and suddenly we turned the page and we were at the end. She had finished the book! How exciting! There was a little certificate with a "You're # 1" Medal on it. I wrote her name in the space and Eadie thought it was the coolest thing in the world. We stuck it up on her door and took some photos in front of it. She was so proud, it was a great moment! She is really proving to be a hard worker and once she understands something she zooms along and loves accomplishing and learning. I am so proud of her! :-)

Well done Eadie, congratulations on such a big girl achievement! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Juan turns 32!!

Happy Birthday to my gorgeous husband Juan! OK, so this event took place almost two months ago, but it's of course still worth the mention! Unfortunately almost all pics of the day were on our lost camera which I am in the process of still looking for... so I'll keep you posted..

Meanwhile, in usual 'Juan' fashion the event was totally low-key and not about to win a 'party of the year' award, but hey, what the boy wants, the boys gets. So, we had a delicious dinner of his favorite, my infamous chicken and spinach scrolls with creamy mushroom sauce, followed by an amazing white chocolate cheesecake covered in cream and strawberries, created by moi, which I must say was delicious even though it had a... shall we say, 'rustic' appeal to it... and it was my very first attempt at cheese cake, so the fact that Juan loved it was ultra special! The girls and I also went into the city and had lunch with him at New Farm park which we always love.
Present wise, we had a lot of fun getting him some things he needed and wanted. His parents gave him a new soccer ball (his new favorite toy), and he received a new toothbrush from us (after Eadie kept on stealing his to use, thinking it was mine she was taking, but I wasn't about to correct her, haha). He also bought himself a new pair of shoes, and the girls gave him a photo of themselves in a frame which sits on his desk at work.

But I think the ultimate awesome gift was the surprise one we left until he came home that night. I was so excited to give it to him, but it was pretty big and the kind of thing you can't just whip out and hand over. It had to be the right moment. Now, if you know my husband really well, you may have learned the hard way that he hates, cannot stand, and refuses to entertain a "surprise". It's ridiculous and it would probably drive me mad if it were the character trait of someone I didn't adore. So when we met him for lunch and told him about the big "surprise present" we had waiting for him at home, the anticipated fun I had predicted went straight to the usual "Aw, tell me what it is...", followed by my usual response, "No! You'll have to wait and see!" to which he replied, "that's it, I'm coming home right now. Let's go", to which I said "no, you have to stay at work, I'm still making the cheesecake", to which he argued, "Tell me what it is! You know I can't stand surprises! I'll cancel the party if you don't tell me!" to which I began to wonder if I should fold... but I held my ground. "No! I'm not telling, and no amount of threats will make me tell! Why can't you just enjoy the moment like a normal person and look forward to it?" to which he stated, "What's there to enjoy? Not knowing what's going to happen or that it's going to be something horrible?" "It's not going to be horrible! it's funny!" I interject. "Oh, so it's a joke? You're playing a joke on me?" he freaks out. "No, it's not a joke, gee Juan, just relax! You'll love it! It's hilarious!" Then he really gets worried. "Rani just tell me", he says. "You know I hate waiting for surprises, especially when I know it's going to be a joke". But I wouldn't let him rain on my parade... even though now that I think about it... it was his parade.... Hmm.. :-/  ... awkward moment..

Anyway, I promised to send him pics of the present so he could guess what it was. And that was when the fun began. haha. These were the pics I sent thinking surely he would guess what it was before he saw it...

But NO, he didn't get it! Seriously, what's a wife to do?! Even an old lady would know what this is... Can you tell what it is by that huge clue? That's right, it's a Shopper Trolley! Or, as some would call it (Juan), a Granny Trolley! haha.

Why on earth would a wife get this for her husband, I hear you ask?  Well, let me explain the logic behind my madness.. Every couple of weeks we go to the fruit and vegie markets and my job is to navigate my way through all the stalls and buy the produce, and his job is to find the easiest route to a waiting 'post' where I exit the stalls and give him lots of bags filled with lots of food. We then go from stall to post as we make our way through the markets with the girls at our heels. Well, every time we are there we watch the other shoppers pulling their trolleys and as Juan pushes along the pram which is choc-o-block filled with grocery bags hanging off every nook and crammed into every cranny, guaranteed he will always  say "gee, wish we had one of those granny things". We then chuckle to ourselves at how geeky they are, but I can see the envy and desire in his eyes... and so when I was out at the shops on his birthday and I saw the trolleys just sitting there, the inspiration hit like lightening and I just knew it was the perfect birthday present for my super rad, too-cool-for-school hubby.
Well, needless to say he thought it was ... well, hilarious, embarrassing, but at the same time he saw the merit in such a gift and was, in his own shaking of the head way, appreciative. :-)  Score!

So, all in all, Juan had a lovely 32nd birthday, filled with fun and family. We took lots of great pics of the party on the camera but until I find it, the mobile pics of the hot granny trolley are as close a look as you'll be getting.   Meanwhile, I'll have to take some updated pics of us at the markets pulling our bulk supply of fruit n veg as we blend seemlessly with the other professional marketeers. :-)  Happy Birthday Baby! xx

Excuses, excuses...

For the past two months I have been taking photos and mentally logging events and moments that I intended to put on this blog 'asap'. Well, 'asap' ended up being September, and here I am finally getting around to updating our family events.
What a crazy couple of months is has been! So much has happened, and yet at the same time everything is still pretty much the same. This winter has been an absolute shocker for us health wise, and our poor little family have been in and out of sicknesses in a way I didn't know existed. This week we're back in it again. I'm sitting here writing this feeling the nauseating remnants of food poisoning, Tori is laying in her bed waiting for medication to kick in so the pain in her ear will stop, Bel is playing on her little toy truck as her nose drips and she coughs every once in a while, and Eadie is uncharacteristically quiet as she lays on the couch watching T.V. Even Juan is having a day off work today and at the moment is visiting the chiropractor in the hope of repairing his aching neck and painfully annoying tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which he has had for weeks. It's just insane. But it's the horrible truth I'm afraid to say. Just when one gets better, another is sick. And when they end, something else hits. I'm told these things wont happen as much as the kids get older, that it's just their little immune systems getting stronger and in a few years we wont be going through it as bad as it has been. I hope so. The one consolation is that every other family I know with one or more kids under 5 are going through the exact same thing we are. Just one of the joys of parenthood I guess.

Oh, and did I mention we lost the camera? Yep. No idea where it is. So I apologize if these posts are rather boring due to a lack of cute pics... but I'll do the best I can to make them as entertaining as possible with the blurry pics I have randomly snapped on my mobile....  :-/