Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Bear's 1st birthday party

Did you know that we had a very huge and momentous occasion last week? I might have mentioned it a few (hundred) times. Baby bear turned ONE. What a fantabulous year we've had, watching our baby girl grow in to a gorgeous, fun, determined and spirited little munchkin and to celebrate we felt compelled to throw a party. Wooohoooo. I love a good party. Well, I love going to other peoples. I, in all of my years, had never ever thrown one. EEEK the pressure was on!

So, I tried to take heed from the likes of the Natural New Age Mum who wrote a really great blog on Tips for a Stress-Free kids party and another good article from the brilliant Mamacino on perfectionism. But did I take note? Well yes I did, but it didn't stop me stressing exactly. D'oh.

The biggest stressors for me. FOOD. What to have? NUMBERS. Maaaaan, so hard trying to keep these down. We did have a fair few that we wanted to invite and share the special day, but didn't want to overwhelm the birthday bear (or ourselves)... keeping it modest we still had 30 adults and 8 kids. In a very small way, lucky the London massive were missing, or we'd have had double the numbers. In all seriousness I would have taken the nervous breakdown in numbers to have them all here though. Decorations. THE CAKE! Oh and the invitation.


Had planned to send an email invite on FB, but than the creative juices started flowing and Papa Wolf and I spent a week working out our design and compiling it. Ahhhhhh. Why do we do this to ourselves??! Still, we thought it would be a beautiful little keepsake for Essie.

Ze invitation


This was the easiest decision for us. Did think about doing it at the park, but opted for home instead. Home is where the heart is. And the toilet. And the changetable. Fridge and oven. You get the picture.

We have a lovely big undercover patio outside and large garden for the kids to play around in. We got a load of toys, picnic blankets, beach tent, and borrowed Essie's bestie girlfs ball pit and voila. Little Feather Wolf adventure playground complete.

Decorated outside patio, Essie (far right) and some of her little and big pals


Next stop, the decos. The decorations were the most fun for me to do. I decided I wanted to make a personalised bday banner. So, off I went to the local budget crafty bits and bobs shop near where we live and spent at least an hour rummaging. It was me, the nana's and their granddaughters pouring over all the craft. Poor Essie, when she's bigger I'll be dragging her along, whether she likes it or not hehe.

I picked up some coloured and textured card and paper, ribbons, ladybird pegs, glue and I even found a little hole punch, that punched out baby bears. Next stop was Spotlight. How cool is that store??! Here I picked up a booklet of some gorgeous patterned paper - perfect for my banner, pink table cloths, balloons, more ribbon, 1st birthday candle. We decided we weren't going to do a theme as such, but had a bit of colourway going on - red, pinks and white with a burst of bright colours here and there.

Banner made. Next I cut out some simple number ones in pink and white card, which (Gran)pa Wolf stapled to the outside celing beams for me. Got some crape ribbon and made some of those old fashioned twists, which we draped from the poles outside. It was slowly starting to come together!

Lady bird pegs, bear hole punch, cut out number ones, birthday banner

Popped on over to Ikea (yeah right - takes about 40 minutes once in, just to find the exit without even browsing!!) and brought a stack of brightly coloured BPA free plastic platescups and cutlery - bonus being that I could stick them all in the dishwahers, woop woop. Thanks Sash for the idea.

Decos ready to be put out first thing on Sunday morning

Saturday afternoon I went and got 10 brightly coloured helium balloons which I tied to either end of the table, five each side and lastly we blew up Essie's birthday invite to poster size, framed and hung it outside.

birthday banner

patio party


So next thing. FOOD. To make it nice and hard for ourselves, we decided that we wanted to, of course, home-make the food - avoid any ready made party food, have some healthy snacks and some yummy treats. We decided against doing a barbie - only so we could enjoy the day and not be glued to cooking. So, the cooking and prep all needed to be done beforehand. Here's what we made...


Gourmet Traveller's Lamb, harrisa and pine nut sausage rolls. I didn't make the puff pastry - but did find some made with butter - with a really short ingredients list, yay, so it avoided all the crap you get from the ones made with margarine.

My first ever carrot cake, made with sour cream. Recipe donated from one of my lovely mumma friends.

carrot cake

Delicious strawberry, passionfruit and whipped cream filled meringues (mini pavs!) made up by PW

strawberry and passionfruit pav

Roasted beetroot and hummus dip with: carrot, red pepper (capsicum) and celery sticks for dipping

Obligatory fruit salad bowl: melon - water and honey dew, grapes, papaya

feeling fruity

Then we enlisted the help of Essie's Auntie Shar, who's doing a patisserie course (how lucky are we to have one of these in our nest!) and she cooked up a total storm:

Open sandwiches with different toppings

open plan sarnies

Deconstructed cheesecake, with fresh strawberries (pictured below)

Heart shaped biccies

love heart biscuits

The most divine chocolate peanut butter cups (I think I devoured most of these!!)

choc peanut butter cups

Pea and ricotta dumplings (pictured below) made by Auntie Kat. These went in a flash.

Delicious mini quiches cooked up by KD.

Granny J's spinach and egg slice. Yummo.

Number 1 cup cakes (pictured below) baked by Sash.

some of the food, including Auntie Kat's dumplings, Auntie Shar's 'cheesecake' & Sash's cupcakes

Ok. As you can see, we prob went a bit overboard. We were very lucky to get help from our lovely family and friends. Big shout out to them. Was so scared of not having enough... however, it ALL got eaten... mostly on the day, with a bit to spare for playgroup on Monday. Happy full tummies all round.

Me... caught on camera eating all the peanut butter cups

THE cake

Geeeeez, that must have been the scariest thing to do. The birthday cake. We did have the chance to get one made but decided that for Essie's first taste of cake and for her very first birthday, this was something that WE had to do ourselves. WE - being mumma and Papa Wolf. What a team. Sooooo, what was it to be? You may have heard me mention a few zillion times about the lovely Jude Blereau. Wholefood goddess who's inspired sooooooo many of Essie's meals with her Wholefood for Children cookbook. Well she very thoughtfully brought a new cookbook out to coincide with Esme's first birthday: Wholefood Baking, which I quickly snapped up in the hope of finding something special in there for the bear and what-da-ya-know, we found it. Jude's Raspberry and white chocolate layer buttermilk cake, made with spelt flour.

To ease the stress somewhat we did a trial sponge bake off two weeks prior to the party and it went great. The only issue we had, was it took a little longer than Jude's instructions to cook. Why? Because ours was three times the size. We had a lot of mouths to feed! So, for time and stress-saving purposes the sponge baking was done in two parts over two consecutive weekends. Once cooked and cooled, we wrapped our layered buttermilk cake ever-so tightly in clingfilm, put in an airtight container and froze. This was then brought out to defrost the day (first thing in the morning) before the party. We whipped up the raspberry and then the white chocolate buttercream and then dressed it that night. Just about managed to fit it in the fridge - it was pretty bloody huge, ready for the morning.

It's suffice to say, Essie bear LOVED the cake. She had a huge piece, not to mention nicking a load of the fresh raspberries on the top, after she blew out her candle. That bear has a great appetite (don't know where she gets that from).

Blowing out the candle

Berry nicking!

Cutest raspberry thief ever

Cutting the cake

The moral of the story? Whatever you decide to do to celebrate your little bear's first birthday, try not to stress. Yeah right, I can talk. But really, NOTHING really matters, other than you and your precious bundle ENJOY yourselves.

Happy First Years. Lots of love, from LFW x

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