Saturday, August 23, 2014

One last hurrah - a birthday at home

Just a couple more pics of my actual birthday, which I spent in Wagga Wagga, at work and then at home with some friends, a whole lot of pizza and even more cake.

This was my pre-birthday lunch in Sydney, I finally made it to the Rising Sun Workshop ramen and cake bar and was so happy. The space was beautiful, the ramen was especially delicious (they even had a vegetarian mushroom version) and I didn't leave before sampling a rich chocolate and ginger cookie (highly recommended).

I have wanted this cake tin for a very long time. Initially for a friend's fairy bread birthday cake, which I talked myself out of because you can't actually buy it in Australia. My brother and his wife ended up giving it to me, and I ripped the wrapping paper off like a kid once I realised what it was!

There were 3 cakes in all! Larry made a dense orange and almond cake that was impressively tall for my office celebration. You can't really tell in the pic but the sparklers were in the shape of 30.

Sophie made an even taller naked chocolate cake with raspberries and strawberries and we snacked on it for days to come! 

And Amy made a sugar free Zebra cheesecake (only hers looked even better than the original recipe), which was light and subtly flavoured, which made eating an additional two slices of cake possible.

Pizza party friends! I haven't had a birthday party in years but turning 30 was a good excuse to have a few special Wagga friends over for a simple dinner and lots of cake.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My 30th birthday and hen's party

My friend Marina and sister Carla threw me an amazing early 30th birthday party and hen's do in Sydney last weekend. I had the very best time! Many photos were taken, so get ready...

First up, we had a fancy lunch at Chiswick, a beautiful restaurant set within a park in Woollhara. I'd actually told Marina that I'd be happy with a burger brunch but she insisted on something a little more special. I had such a good time that I hardly took any food photos! My favourite dish was a gnocchi that came served with mushrooms and melted taleggio on the top. I just happened to be sitting next to my friend Jemma, who's pregnant, so had to eat all of the gnocchi the cheese had touched.

The babies sat together, but it took an hour or so for them to discover each other!

Despite being one of the youngest guests, my niece had the best time and made lots of new friends. Here she is playing peek-a-boo with a serviette with my friend Irini, who I've known since high school. At one point, one of the waitresses who had been serving us walked by and said 'I love that baby' to no one in particular. 

Again - the perks of sitting next to a pregnant friend, aside from the conversation :) Poor Jemma had to forfeit her pavlova and sorbet, so I got two desserts but went for the hazelnut rocher first! Tony and I actually had a similar dessert the night we got engaged, only we were both too excited and hardly touched it.

I had my hair trial for the wedding that morning, so had fancy hair for the whole day. I wish I knew how to do styles other than messy bun and a ponytail.

More evidence of someone having a great time.

My sister in law Christina lives a short walk from the restaurant, and very generously had everyone over for an afternoon tea. Her home is full of light and beautiful, and we hung around and chatted until we were hungry to dig into the sweets.

How pretty is this tea set? I'd sent Marina a photo of a very nice looking tea party for a one-year-old (!) and she managed to make the tea and cake set up look exactly the same! She rented a cute set of mismatching China cups, and it was fun serving tea and picking out a cup for each girl.

My sister's big surprise was a 3D cupcake costume, which she'd made herself! All week she'd been texting me to hint at the special surprise - she actually had me really worried at one stage. I couldn't stop laughing when I put it on, and my glasses started to fog up.

When everyone sang happy birthday I was suddenly really overwhelmed from the day, it was very special to have everyone there and be in town for the weekend. I was half laughing, half crying and couldn't really blow out my candles properly. 

Another flower photo snapped for Sophie!

The cupcake costume maker and a flowergirl-to-be.

I organised two small things for the party - I claimed the goody bags and also bought a whole bunch of nice looking takeaway boxes, so everyone could go home with a box of cake.

Here's what was inside each thank you package! There were a few different sock patterns, chocolate flavours and cookie cutter shapes.
And one last shot from the afternoon, my mum and my aunty Elaine accidentally wore the same colour dress!

I stayed with my sister and niece over the weekend, and everyone changed into their matching pajamas that night, totally exhausted. When the baby went to sleep, my sister and I tucked into some delicious leftovers from the lunch and tea party (banoffee pie!) and went to bed.

Each morning, I spent some lovely quiet time with my niece while my sister slept a little longer. On Sunday she spent a good 20 minutes going through the contents of my handbag, carefully examining every item before putting it back in the bag. That afternoon we made scones together and played outside, and it was a lovely end to a really happy weekend.

Then it was time to pack my things and  meet up Tony after his buck's weekend away, with a cupcake in the backseat.

Photos by me, Carla and Haline.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My favourite Airbnb stay so far

We had a few days in Sydney last week, after our hens and bucks party dos (more on that later) and decided to book somewhere new and nice to stay. Because it was nearly my birthday, I got to choose the place, and luckily this loft that I've been eyeballing for about a year was available!

It had a loft bed, and I shot this sneaky photo of the cute pillowcases while Tony slept.

So aside from the way the studio looked (I reckon the host screenprinted all of the 'hello' tea towels and pillowcases. She also had a yellow wire 'hello' sign that was very cute, it hung about the breakfast nook), I'd read in many reviews that there were homemade baked goods on arrival. Other reviews mentioned hot jam donuts that had been bought for them.

I'd mentioned in my request that we were in town for some birthday celebrations for me - and when we arrived, Cath, our host, casually mentioned that she'd made me a cake! Here it is! It was so delicious - it was a white chocolate mudcake with white chocolate ganache. She also made us a sourdough and there were fresh eggs from the hens we'd spied on our way in.

Usually cake for breakfast is a day-after birthday thing, but I got started a bit early this year, with a tiny slice each morning :) 

I also packed some up (lollybag style wrapped in napkins and a paper bag) for my friends who I was meeting for a special lunch. The three of us met through work and live in different regional towns in NSW. We're celebrating our 30th, 40th and 50th years so decided on a 30/40/50 long lunch on the one week we could all be in town. We went to Bread & Circus in Alexandria, arriving right as lunch service was starting and not saying goodbye until the kitchen had closed. Many salads and sides were eaten, and many more presents exchanged.

Baby Bryn was our special guest, and he was a few weeks shy of 6 months. I think he went home with the most presents! He was very smiley and showed up wearing a jumper I'd found for him in the mountains over Easter, which was exciting.

I've been wanting to go and see 20 Questions at the Belvoir Theatre ever since I heard about it, and luckily, the closing night coincided with our visit. So we splashed out and bought 3 tickets as part of my birthday treat and took along my cousin Max who had just moved back to Sydney. The show itself was fantastic, and actually featured 345 rapid fire questions rather than the mere 20 I expected. There were 3 acts, each seemingly more intimate and revealing than the last, with a performance in between each. It was like attending a funeral for a person who was still alive - you got a sense of their regrets, family history, achievements, who they wanted to be and who they thought they were. 

Radio National has been recording some, and you can listen to them online. And I am going to listen now that I've seen the show! I am curious though, because there were some really physical aspects to the show that made it extra moving in parts.

And then we went to Lucio's for pizza. On a Monday night, you can park right out front and not line up for a table! And because it was my last night in town, I led an expedition to Gelato Messina.

It was raining when we got back to our little loft that night, and we found these waiting for us on our doorstep. Our host is a photographer, and that morning I'd seen her shooting an elaborate set up of meringues.