4 articles Tag cake

Let’s Celebrate! How To Throw A Perfect Kids’ Birthday Party

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No matter how confident you are in your parenting, there’s one thing that strikes fear into the heart of every parent: your child’s birthday party. Once they graduate from family parties to parties that seem to include every kid they’ve ever met, you know it’s going to be an extremely busy day! But there are definitely some ways that you can make it easier…

Pick A Theme

First of all, pick a theme. This will make the party more fun, and it will also allow you to personalise it for your kid, making it more memorable both for them and for the other kids who are attending. Choose something that your child loves, but make sure that it’s a theme that’s general enough to encompass a lot of different activities. For instance, if your kid loves dinosaurs, you could play a pin the tail on the dinosaur game, you could have the kids make their very own dinosaur tails, you could make dinosaur party hats. The possibilities are endless.

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Get Your Timing Right

It’s important to get your timings right. If your party is too short, your kid may get upset when it ends, but if your party is too long, the guests will get over-tired and fractious. Two hours is a great length for a kid’s birthday party. You should also do your best to keep the timings away from naptime, if your child is a little younger!

Include All The Kids

It’s important to make sure that if you’re inviting more kids than your offspring’s small group of friends, everyone is included. This includes the kids in your child’s class who may have special needs or learning difficulties. It is so important to ensure that they feel included, and chances are, you will have a friend for life in their parents, who will be delighted. Talk to their parents about whatever needs they may have, invite those parents along too if necessary, and make sure they’re included in the festivities.

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Talk To The Parents

It’s a good idea to talk to all the parents, not just those of kids with special needs. Note down any dietary requirements – and get some gluten and dairy free snacks, just in case! It may not be a terrible idea to ask the parents if they want to stay and hang out during the party if their kids are still young – provide coffee and snacks so they can relax and assist with their kid if emotions start to run high.

Don’t Be Afraid To Order In

Remember that you don’t have to do every single thing for this party yourself. If you’re not crafty, you don’t need to create handmade decorations. If you’re busy, why not hire a caterer? If you’re worried about making the perfect cake, look for companies like Anges de Sucre who provide a huge variety of cakes that are much prettier than anything an average parent could create! There is absolutely no shame in hiring a magician or entertainer instead of trying to corral the kids yourself. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress – life is far too short and you should try to enjoy the day as well. For the best balloon sculpting Singapore can offer, check local Facebook parenting groups. 

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Plan Out Activities

It’s a great idea to plan out some activities, and to have some contingency plans if they fall through. If you want the kids to spend some time running around in your back yard but then the heavens open and it starts to pour with rain, have a CD of kids’ music ready so you can play musical statues or musical chairs inside. Remember that a dance party is always fun for kids of any age too! 

Make Easy Goody Bags

Costs for kids’ parties can really add up, and you might be surprised at how much cash you need to push into your child’s fifth birthday – don’t even start thinking about that sweet sixteenth… If you want to provide goody bags at the end of the party, you don’t need to go big or expensive. A great idea is to buy a book for each kid – you can get cheaply priced books online. With a slice of birthday cake, this is ideal. You could also provide a few pieces of sidewalk chalk, a small tub of play-doh, or a slime-making kit for slightly older kids. Just remember not to provide anything that stains or that makes loud noises, or you definitely won’t be the most popular parent at the school gates the next Monday!

Kids’ parties don’t have to be as stressful as they may feel – these simple tips should keep it fun!

Strada – A Date Night Gem

It’s not often that Husband and I go out for dinner, just the two of us…in fact, I’m struggling to think of a single time it’s happened since Sausage was born, so when Strada asked if the two of us would like to come along for dinner, I got very excited! Our nearest Strada is at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock and it’s right next to the lake, so it was the perfect setting for a relaxed evening meal.

We were given the choice of where to sit and although it was the hottest day of the year so far, we chose to sit inside – the outside area was already filling up when we arrived a few minutes before 6pm and by the time we left it was absolutely heaving, whilst inside was almost empty, so we definitely chose well. We got situated and were brought our drinks plus a jug of water for the table, which was much appreciated in the heat.

I wasn’t drinking alcohol because a) I was driving and b) I’m on strong antibiotics for the hideous tooth situation so I opted for a San Pellegrino Limonata, which is basically the most refreshing thing on the planet. Husband had a glass of Primitivo, a full-bodied red (which I said smelled like Christmas in a glass!) and although it was on the pricey side, Husband was impressed enough to be looking it up on the internet on the way home to see where he could get a full bottle for me to try when I’m able again.

So, onto the food!

Because Strada is Italian, I wanted to go for things which I felt were quintessentially Italian, so for starter I opted for the bresaola while Husband went for the antipasti, both of which were incredible. The beef carpacchio part of my bresaola was so, so tender and flavourful and the combination of parmesan, rocket and balsamic reduction were to die for. Husband’s antipasti (which I may have sampled…!) was just perfect; little nibbles of different flavour and textures, cured meats combined with the freshest pesto and mozzarella – I almost wish I’d opted for the same.

Strada - Starters

For our mains, we both decided that we were in the mood for seafood after such a meat-based starter so Husband had the sea bass while I had the seafood risotto. I’m going to make a confession here; I’ve never actually tried sea bass before…until now. The fish was served with thyme roasted fennel and herby potatoes and was a perfect choice for a hot evening as it was light and summery but full of flavour. The bass was served ‘canoed’, which meant that it’s gutted but left on the head, so there were still a lot of bones in it, which made it a little bit of a faff to eat, but Husband didn’t mind; it’s just worth bearing in mind if you aren’t a fan of bones.

Strada - Mains

Seafood risotto is one of my favourite dishes and it’s not something I’ve ever been brave enough to cook myself so it’s always a treat when I have it in a restaurant, but it does mean I’m quite fussy about it. Strada’s seafood risotto was really top notch. The risotto itself was creamy and absolutely packed with tiger prawns, mussels and squid and had the slightest kick from a hint of chilli, a very welcome element to cut through the creaminess a little. The seafood was all very well cooked (I’m often a bit wary of squid as it can be rubbery, but this wasn’t rubbery in the slightest) and the fresh parmesan which was grated over the top at the table added a lovely edge to the overall flavour.

Strada - Dessert

Dessert was an absolute delight. I opted for the tiramisu because I’m a bit of a fan of anything coffee flavoured while Husband opted for the golden polenta cake. My tiramisu was exactly as you’d expect it to be; sweet and soft with a strong coffee flavour, the perfect end to the meal for me. Husband’s polenta cake was probably the exact opposite of my dessert in many ways; grainy and textured rather than soft and creamy, zesty and spiced opposite my rich and velvety, however we both agreed that it was one of the nicest desserts we’ve ever tasted, and promptly came home to find a recipe so that we can try making it at home!

In terms of the bill, by my calculations it would have come to £67.60, which included three courses each, Husband’s large glass of wine, my two soft drinks and a bowl of marinated olives for the table, which I really don’t think is too bad at all. There is also a “Classics” menu which offers 2 courses for £10.95 or three courses for £13.95 every single day between 12pm and 7pm, which means that you could effectively have a three course meal for two for under £30.

The thing I liked about Strada is that their menu isn’t ridiculously massive, but each dish they do, they seem to do VERY well. I also like the fact that they have dishes which are very traditionally Italian, but they also do dishes like burgers and plainer pizzas, so dining with a fussy eater needn’t be a worry. The one and only area where I would mark them down SLIGHTLY was the cost of drinks – Husband’s glass of wine was £8.15, which is a little steep in my opinion, but we often find the alcohol to be higher priced in chain restaurants, so I guess it’s to be expected. Other than this minor thing, we had a really lovely evening; the staff were incredibly polite and friendly, stopping by to offer their suggestions while we were perusing the menu, the setting was really pleasant and the food was enough to make Husband say “we’re definitely coming back here again!”.

Thanks to Strada for having us – we’ll be back soon!

Sponsored Post: World Baking Day with Stork

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Today’s the day! Then one we’ve been planning for a couple of weeks; today is World Baking Day and the lovely people at Stork challenged us to make something spectacular for someone special, using Stork. As you’ll know if you read our previous post, we chose to make for my mother-in-law, as a thank you for everything she does for us and for being an all-round brilliant person.

We decided to bake a Victoria sponge cake as it’s MIL’s favourite, and we made it special by using fresh cream. Also, MIL isn’t a fan of the bits in jam, so Sausage and I painstakingly sieved every single pip out of the jam before spreading it on the cake as we couldn’t seem to find any jam without bits in the supermarket! Here’s the end result:

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Needless to say, MIL was chuffed with her surprise. We had her round for Sunday dinner and fed her a lovely lamb roast before presenting her with the cake and although she needed half an hour to let her dinner go down, we all enjoyed a slice with a cup of tea as soon as we had enough room.

Baking with someone special in mind always makes the process that much nicer, in my opinion. Sausage and I put more care and attention into the cake than we would have during any normal baking session because we wanted it to be perfect for MIL, who really deserves the best.

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We had a lovely time doing this project. From preparing and baking the cake, surprising MIL and enjoying it together as a family, it’s been a wonderful undertaking from the beginning and something that Sausage and I will definitely be doing again. I was also pleasantly surprised by how well the cake turned out, never having actually used Stork before but the sponge was light and fluffy and tasted amazing.

Thanks to Stork for setting this challenge, to Sausage for being my beautiful assistant and mostly thanks to my mother-in-law, for being the sort of person  we want to make cake for and not being a stereotypical nightmarish MIL! We love you!

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Sponsored by Stork.

Guest Post – 5 Easy Fondant Icing Recipes

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Fondant icing is one of the most important ingredients for any cake maker. You can use it to cover a cake or make models and decorations with it. Its flexibility means that you can create whatever you can imagine, and it’s also very easy to work with which means even the novice sugar-crafter can begin to tackle projects with it. For lots of beautiful fondant icing recipes, have a look here >> http://www.renshawbaking.com/fondant-icing.html

To get you started here are five easy fondant icing recipes that don’t require you to be an expert.

  1. Rainbow Heart Cake. If you want to get to grips with using fondant icing to decorate a cake and make something that’s beautiful but relatively simple then try this Rainbow Heart Cake. This is perfect for a loved one’s birthday. This takes a simple sponge cake and covers it with brilliant white fondant icing, which will help you get used to covering a cake smoothly, and then uses simple multi-coloured hearts to decorate. These can be made by hand or with a cutter and make a sweet romantic decoration.
  2. Bobble Hat Cupcakes. You don’t have to be making a fully-fledged cake to use fondant icing. It’s equally useful for creating cute cupcakes like these. These bobble hat cupcakes are perfect now that the days have turned colder. Using different coloured fondant icing makes for an eye-catching display on your cake tray and is sure to entice people to take a bite.
  3. Eyeball Cake Pops. Fondant icing can also be used for decorative flourishes as opposed to an all over cake covering. With Halloween just around the corner these creepy eyeball cake pops are just the thing for a fancy dress party or to give out to trick or treaters who come knocking.
  4. Fondant Flowers. If you’re making a wedding cake then a perfect topper is a beautiful bouquet of fondant icing roses. These take a bit of skill and time to get right but when you do they look incredible. You can get petal cutters to help with accuracy or go totally freehand depending on your confidence levels.
  5. Animals. One of the best attributes of fondant icing is its incredible malleability. This makes it ideal for creating all kinds of decorations and one of the most appealing, and easiest, are little animals. Because fondant icing is available in a multitude of colours you can quickly make fondant pigs, penguins, cats or whatever you want.