Tuesday, 13 October 2015

10 Family Friendly Things to do in Canberra!!

You all know I just love our little city, Canberra, right? Well, I am thrilled to share that I am over on Kidspot at the moment, sharing my Top Ten Family Activities to do around here! So excited to have the chance to rave all about Canberra and all the (perhaps surprisingly!) fun things to do here. Especially awesome to get to share it on a fantastic site like Kidspot!

Love you jump on over and have a read :) 

(and of course... come visit!)

Just click here.

Cheer, K xx

Monday, 12 October 2015

A 'Dragon' Birthday Party // Eli turns 5!

My middle man Eli was turning five, and it was his turn for a much anticipated 'big birthday party'. Five years is the age in our family where you get a big birthday bash (after your 1st birthday extravaganza, of course!). The biggest problem Eli had was deciding on a theme. He suggested everything from Preztel Party (!?) to Lego Party to Tropical Island Party (my zany boy!), then finally decided on a Dragon Party... and so Dragons it was!

This little party is like a love letter to my beloved boy, a gift to celebrate him with a really special day. It was a pleasure to pour energy and creativity into this project, knowing how much he would enjoy it (and enjoy it, he sure did!). I gotta admit I had a whole lot of fun doing it too.... not least because we don't do parties all that often, so when we do I have a lot of pent-up enthusiasm to pour into them ;) Eli was my excited little sidekick the whole way, full of ideas and questions and so eager to help in every way. Eli the Happy Helper, we call him around here... always eager to pitch in, even for his own party :) Seeing his face full of awe as each element was unveiled will always be in my memory!

I love to throw parties (just not too often, lol) - and they may seem either OTT or basic, depending on your own party-preferences (and/or Pinterest addiction!)! But a little party at home, with home made cake and crazy decor works well for us! With our parties, I always like to start by providing lots of atmosphere through decorations and theming - aka crepe paper streamers everywhere, haha ;) With kids's parties, I like to keep it all pretty loose as I find young kids mostly just want to run around and giggle together! So I set out 'stations' of activities where kids can gather, play or create, without it being anything too formal or structured. Kids can dip in and out of activities as they like, or just run around. Less stress for the adults and less stress for the kids! Lots of food of course (which I like to theme as makes it easier to decide on a menu!), and keep the party short and sweet (two hours is plenty when you have a horde of kids running wild!). 

That moment when the house is full of people and laughter, scattered scraps of wrapping paper on the floor, food and drink left everywhere, our friends meeting each other, kids running amok and giggling.... it's magic. I look around and smile - that moment is worth every minute of preparation to get to that stage! :)

And so, here 'tis...

Every party starts with the invite of course! I made these up quickly on Canva.com... and even paid $1 for that dragon image! #splurge
I had the idea of making a sort of 'Dragon's Lair' cake for Eli and for the first time ever decided to delve into the rather intimidating world of fondant to make the little Dragon topper (I didn't want to do the whole cake in fondant). Guys, fondant is NO JOKE, lol, look at all the set up and tools I had to assemble!! However, I gotta say, (if like me, you have always been scared off fondant), it's actually not hard to work with. If you can make shapes with playdough, you can totally do fondant! :) It was pretty fun actually!
My little dragon (in his temporary home!). Ok, I kinda fell in love with the guy!!!!
Their favourite part of party prep.... sprinkling the table scatters on the morning of the party. We held the party in the afternoon for the first time and it was very nice having a whole relaxed morning to get ready and the whole family even took a nap before everyone rocked up at 2.30pm. Yes, I am the kind of person who gets so over-organised there is nothing to do in the last couple hours before a party. Sad, huh?? ;)
Crepe paper streamers are my go-to party decor. I mean, they just make everything festive, right?! I had some ruffling in the breeze over our front entrance. They kinda declare 'It's party time!'
I don't mind serving (and eating!) sweet treats at a party but prefer to send kids home
with something other than more sugar! As all our little party guests are so into
writing and drawing, I made up these cute little notebooks with fun stacked highlighter
markers. Hopefully they last longer than a party bag too :)

Dragon Egg Toss through the Ring of Fire:
I made this 'ring' of fire by wrapping crepe paper (again with the crepe paper!?) around a hula hoop and stringing it up to our pergola. I put a washing basket behind it on the table and a basket of plastic easter eggs (with little magnets inside to weight them a bit). Kids could take turn tossing 'Dragon's Eggs' through the Ring of Fire!
My fire breathing little dragon!! :)
I made this 'photo prop' by just cutting out and sticking layers of coloured cardboard together. It turned out so colourful and bold, kinda like a cartoon? A hot tip if you want to try this kind of photo prop for party photos... I put a piece of washi tape on the floor to show kids where to stand, and a piece of washi tape on the wall in front of their line of sight, to show them where to look, so it all lined up nicely to look like they really were breathing fire. I took photos of each party guest and they all got such a kick out of it! After the party I emailed the photo to the parents of each kid...
Oh wait, that last step is still on my to-do list!!! ;) Ahem.
My little Dragon proudly displaying his dragon wings! I had this tshirt custom made for the party as a special birthday gift for Eli. The wings come off (they attach with velcro). It was sooo cute, and he was thrilled!!
The fierce big sister dragon knows how to roarrrrr.

Fierce dragon gives his best 'Blue Steel'.
Super Fierce!

Cashew, sundried tomato and capsicum dip... with colourful capsicum sticks. Too much capsicum!?
The party table coming together... the hot food not on it yet, but you get the drift!
I made these chilled chocolate custard cups (kind of like Yogo!) topped with strawberries.
Because we are dorks, we like to set ourselves the challenge of naming every single party food within the party theme. I was struggling with these white chocolate and sprinkle dipped pretzels, till Mark cleverly came up with 'Dragon's Nostrils'! I don't think I will ever look at a pretzel the same way again!?

Our friendly little Dragon cake!
I made this cake by baking a chocolate cake in a regular round cake tin and a second cake in a glass Pyrex bowl. I then stuck the two together using whipped cream and jam! Covered the cakes in chocolate buttercream icing and sprinkled with little ball decorations (what are they called? who knows!). The fence is made out of Corinthian sticks snapped in half and then edged in Maltesers... I used icing as the glue to stick them on. The boulders are Caramel Bites from Woolworths. A pretty easy cake with high impact in the sights of my five year old :)
Dragon just chillin'. 
Fire Sticks: Always a hit!! Breadsticks dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles :)

My littlest dragon, always on the run!

Trying to fill those butterfly-filled moments before the first guests arrived, I spotted Lily regally carrying Eli's dragon tail as he walked around the house! Haha... dragon royalty, perhaps!? Guess it was a fitting way to treat our honoured birthday boy :)
My lovely mother-in-law made these dramatic fruit kebabs!! 
Layered 'fire jelly' cups made by my dear friend Amber. Kids always take the jelly first!!
It was Lily's idea to call the drinks these cool names :) They are mineral water mixed with a bit of natural cordial.
Little Harper knows how to breathe fire with the best of them!
Miles surveying the party bounty and trying everrrrr so hard not to touch!

Fireball Making Station. Styrofoam balls, stickytape, crepe paper streamers (again!), red, yellow and orange markers, and cellophane. I simply set these materials out so the kids could  create 'fireballs' however they saw fit - for a surprise purpose!
The boys hard at work decorating their dragon masks! I downloaded the template from here.

Busy whipping up some fireballs!
Harper - always ready with a smile, somehow she made it into most of the party shots. Love this kid! :)
Go Finn!! Tossing his fireball through the hoop - like a pro!
The only formal 'game' we had was Pass the Parcel - at Eli's request and of course the staple of any Aussie party!! Miles was rather keen to hang on to the parcel, haha ;)

My lovely Amber took this stunning photo of Eli... she did well as he was so busy darting around all morning I hardly could capture him. He was having the time of his life at his very own big party :) Love him to bits xx
Harper and Lily, enjoying their fire drinks!
Miles (always in a hat) took advantage of the party mayhem and parental-distraction to nab as much party food as he possibly could. Don't even ask me how much jelly he ate!!!!

The absolute highlight of the party was the surprise appearance from our very own knight in shining armour!! To fight all those fierce little dragons of course ;) The knight is also known as Sir Mark (my hubby)! The impressive (and verrry heavy) armour is borrowed from a kind friend of ours. Mark knocked on the door half way through the party and strode in (very knight-like) to a very stunned, awed and slightly scared bunch of little dragons! It was complete silence till Eli gleefully piped up 'Daddy!!!!' and I think there was a sigh of relief from the kids who did not quite know what to think!!!! Then the shrieks of glee began.... ;) 

It was so cute. The kids popped on their dragon face masks, armed themselves with the 'fireballs' they had made earlier from styrofoam and (with much joyful squealing) chased the knight around and out of the house. It was hilarious and adorable - Mark was a wonderful (friendly) knight. A friend told me her son asked on the way home 'So, is Eli's Daddy a real knight?!!'. I think Eli scored some major cool points, having a knight for a Dad, heehee. It was a surprise we had been working on for ages and it was so fun to see it get pulled off and bring such delight and fun to the party :)

Time to light the cake :) You can't see from this angle but I had one candle poking out the Dragon's mouth for 'fire'! As you can see from Eli's face he was preeeeetty excited!

Kinda love this photo (thanks Amber!). Me and my beautiful birthday boy xx
One simply must cap off the day with a post-party breakdown discussion with the grandparents....

It was a wonderful day and another party milestone passed.... best of all, Eli had a blast and felt loved, celebrated and very special.

Love you fiercely, my friendly little dragon xx