Happy Birthday and Happy New Year from our house to yours.
The final days of the year for me will now forever be a mixture of happily celebrating Preschooler's birthday and saying farewell to the year that was.
Regarding the birthday, may I introduce you to the life hack that is a doctored cake mix birthday cake? Duncan Hines' range is my current favourite go to. Their French vanilla flavour isn't as artificial tasting as Ms Crocker's alternative.
On the suggestion of this post from Three Cooking Sisters, I altered the additions to my box of cake mix to include an extra egg, melted butter instead of vegetable oil (and double the volume at that) plus a cup of milk instead of water.
Preschooler SSG requested a raspberry flavoured cake this year so I added a packet of raspberry jelly crystals to the batter, I used regular rather than diet jelly. This is Aeroplane's official recipe for a jelly party cake.
The raspberry icing was made from scratch though. I found a recipe from The Australian Womens' Weekly which revolved around fresh raspberry puree made by pushing raspberries through a sieve. I had no idea just how seed filled (as opposed to the 'seedy' one might feel on the morning of January 1) raspberries are. They are such soft and seemingly unstructured fruit.
The puree gets mixed with a bit of softened butter, icing sugar and a bit of warm water. Cooking in a steam bath gives the icing pliancy.
And here is the final result. I'm calling the sides my version of those naked wedding cakes that were all the rage this year. The cake was filled with a basic vanilla buttercream. As much as I love packet cake mixes, I just can't do pre-made frosting.
The finished cake looked more impressive than the effort it took and it sliced like dream. It is also surprisingly moreish.... I've reserved myself a large wedge for afternoon tea tomorrow. The raspberry icing has a lovely tang to is which cuts through the sweetness of the buttercream and gives a bit of a lift to the cake. The cake itself manages to be moist and firm without being too rich.
And the best thing about this cake? The endless flavour possibilities limited only by the range of jelly flavours at your local supermarket. I've got lemon on my list as the next flavour to jelly party cake-erise.
With just over half of my most liked Instagram moments being clothing related (thank you, my lovely and supportive Instafamily), how could I not end the year in some sort of fashion related situation?
H&M was a pleasant surprise when I dropped in yesterday.
I hadn't ever appreciated what lovely prints they have and also how many of their clothes are actually cut quite nicely for women of a certain age. These two tops and dress set me back $24. I'm usually a solid coloured T shirt kind of girl but these monochrome prints were too cute (and flattering) to resist.
Then Zimmerman called my name. It's a label that's intimidated me for a variety of reasons - would I even fit into anything (it all looks so tiny on the rack), would it all be too sheer or leave not enough to the imagination?
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on whether or not you're my credit card), my fears were unfounded. Readers, I fear that I am on the verge of a major Zimmerman collecting obsession. I found a beautiful white dress that fit like a glove while also wasn't too much of a mutton dressed as lamb affair (I've always associated the trademark Zimmerman frock with Sydney's pretty young things of the moment) and this gorgeous smock dress. The dress wasn't too steeply priced (being on sale) but alas I had to step away. I still engage in far too much preschooler lifting and restraining for a Zimmerman to survive for long in my wardrobe. I don't normally do resolutions for the new year but I might just have to pencil in something about Zimmerman for 2018. The year I officially graduate to becoming a school mum. Which is going to be very interesting in itself....
And so here we are. On the final day of 2016. A year that's been almost unfairly kind to both myself and those I love. I've spent today true to the pervading mood of my year (outside of the moments of grief and outrage directed at untimely deaths and unjust acts of terror directed at the world at large and mostly at those who least deserved it).
There was an 11/10 bacon and egg roll at Garcon at The Tramsheds.
Accompanied by an excellent coffee which I shared with a couple of dinosaurs. Preschooler SSG still loves his trains and Lego but dinosaurs appear to be an emerging passion.
Together with mum, we had a little stroll through the sheds and watched various stalls prepare for the day ahead and observed others still resting and recovering from the night before.
Then we returned to our local Westfield so that mum could have a browse through H&M (she quite liked the tops I bought)
and Preschooler SSG could have one last meet and greet session with all the local buses for the year.
Even the 9pm fireworks are going to be an impossible appointment to keep tonight so we'll be going for a pre dinner walk instead. There's already a host of people congregating at the best vantage points around our neck of the woods so even if we miss out on the fireworks, I'm sure we'll absorb a bit of the party atmosphere.
Happy New Year and the warmest wishes for your 2017. May you reach your goals, live your dreams (even the ones that phrase covers when it's delivered a bit sarcastically, surely there's one word to describe all of that?) and keep your loved ones safe and well.
See you on the other side!