6# Life Update: home again, birthday and transit eats

I officially returned to Australia at the end of June after three weeks of travelling in Nordic Europe. It’s taken me a little bit to get over the jet lag since I was living in the lands of the midnight sun, with an 8 hour difference to my home timezone. I was only averaging about 4-5 hours sleep which is normal for me when I travel, since I am always on such a high. However, after having a child, my sleep isn’t as important as someone else, so I am not able to bounce back as quickly and get cankles from the aeroplane. The joys of age and responsibility. So anyway I am finally feeling like myself again the past couple of days.

 

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O’s 3rd Birthday Celebrations

Last week was O’s birthday week. My little baby has just turned three. I can’t believe how fast time has gone since I brought her into this world. It’s been amazing seeing her grown and become her own person. More often she is coming out with funny and interesting thoughts and questions and I am realising that she is becoming who she is separate from myself. In some ways dealing with a 3-year-old is easier, but it also has its own set of challenges that means having more patience than ever.

O was extremely excited for her birthday for a while before it came. She had many, many toys on her birthday list and a recently new obsession with ginger cats. Cats are seriously all we talk about at the moment. She has acquired a clowder of toy cats, but we don’t have plans of buying a real one at this stage. Something else she really wanted was a bike and a Frozen birthday party. Since her birthday is during the week I took her out to brunch on the day, had a little family party and other big Frozen themed party over the weekend.

 

For the small family party, I made afternoon tea. Since Octavia had pancakes for breakfast I thought I better serve something savoury as well. She prefers snack plates, so  she eat different things and keep going back for more. This worked perfectly and I was surprised how much she ate from this platter. I did keep replenishing the platter since there was about 10 of us. I made homemade sausage rolls with organic pork sausages, homemade ham and pecorino cheese pastry rolls, sushi with leftover homemade organic crumbed chicken and avocado, baked pecorino and added ajvar, spelt crisp bread, oranges, vegan cheddar and nitrate-free free-range leg ham.

The cupcakes I made were from my trusty Chloe’s Kitchen’s recipe book. Whenever I have to make desserts, I usually consult my Chloe Coscarelli collection of recipe books. These are Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing (see recipe). They are extremely quick and easy recipe to make when you have leftover bananas. They are spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and are topped with icing made with lemon juice and zest. They were a big hit and left everyone wanting more, but I made sure there was only one per person to make sure the kids and the prediabetic seniors didn’t get a sugar high.

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Pottery Barn Kids eco-friendly finds

I just love hunting for homewares and home decor. I could spend hours looking in showrooms and pinning my favourite furnishings and decor. Since having my daughter I am always on the look out for pretty eco-friendly, organic or non-toxic furnishing and manchester. Brands that carry these lines are usually hard-to-find, expensive or only sell online (imported). Big retailers usually don’t carry these kinds of goods. When I have asked questions about the products they sell I usually get a blank stare and the (imaginary) Australian compliance lines. One big retailer that I have found that carries beautiful interior goods for kids, which offers eco-friendly options is Pottery Barn Kids.

Pottery Barn Kids is part of the American parent company Williams-Sonoma, along with Pottery Barn and West Elm. Over the past few years, they have opened stores across Australia. These three brands are mostly housed in the same locations. Their products vary from reasonably priced to expensive. However, I do find the quality of the furnishings are quite good compared to large Australian retailers and the website gives plenty of information on materials and certification. In saying that there a lot of terrible MDF furniture and a bit of green washing, but if you know what your looking for you can find some great products. I have noticed that many eco-friendly products lines on the American website are not offered in Australia stores. However, I was assured by a store manager that these products will make their way over in time.At the end of this post, you can find the information of different certifications that most of these products carry.

These are some of my favourite eco-friendly finds that are available in store at the moment:

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Trolls Party

Over the Easter weekend, we had Octavia’s 2nd birthday Party. The theme was Trolls since it’s her favourite movie at the moment. We all had a fantastic day and I’m so happy how everything came together. Everyone seemed to have a great time and enjoy the food. Octavia loved her cake and received some really nice gifts.

When I was planning the party I did a little research to see what other people did for their Trolls Parties. It’s amazing what people come up with. I had limited time looking after a toddler that keeps bringing home new bugs from kindy. We also were only expecting about 25 people so the day was going to be low-key, with only a handful of children to entertain.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Frosting

Today was my beautiful girl’s 2nd birthday. I can’t believe that this little person has been in our life for such a short time but has brought us so much joy. I couldn’t imagine life without her now.

She was so excited about her big day. Ever since it was her father’s birthday she knows that birthday equals cake. She was extra bubbly and a little bit cheeky and frustrating at times, but nothing took that smile off her face. I had grand plans of getting her a build-a-bear, but after she rearranged the store we reconsidered. She was still very happy that she got to sushi train and that her cousins came to visit.

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I wanted to make something special for her big day. I also wanted to trial my recipe before her big troll party on the weekend. These strawberry cupcakes feature a surprise strawberry center and the frosting is spiked with strawberry jam. According to the family, they were delicious. Octavia really enjoyed her as well. The only thing I may change before the big day is to use white sugar instead of coconut sugar. This is only to allow the natural food colouring to change the colour of the cupcake. I did try a bit in the batter but that caramel colour would not budge.

I also made a batch of mini cupcakes for Octavia’s kindy class. I used the same recipe but just cut the strawberries in halves or quarters and cooked the 36 cupcakes for only 12 minutes.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Frosting

(vegan, nut free)

Cupcake Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups unbleached plain flour

1 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp himalayan sea salt

1 cup soy milk or other plant milk

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

12 frozen strawberries

Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegan butter

3 cups powdered sugar

½ cup smooth Strawberry jam

natural red food coloring (optional)

100’s & 1000’s (natural coloured, optional)

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