At the end of December, it was party time as we celebrated the 2nd birthdays of my nephew Caleb and his best friend Grace. It was a hot sunny afternoon and most of the kids kept cool in the pool, supervised by dads and uncles. The eskies were stuffed with ice and cold drinks, and there was plenty of party food, made by the kids’ mums Angela and Emma, family and friends.
My mum was met with great excitement when she arrived bearing a plate piled high with her homemade pork wantans, and chilli sauce for dipping.
The cake was made by Angela and Emma, based on the book “A Bigger Digger” by Brett Avison. In the story, Oscar and Bryn discover a dinosaur bone in their backyard. As more and more bones are uncovered, they need bigger and bigger diggers to unearth them. The kids absolutely love this book and enjoyed a reading of the story at the party.
The cake itself was chocolate, with butter icing and natural food colourings – spirulina powder to make green, and cocoa to make brown. The farmhouse and fences were made using a basic biscuit recipe from the Nursing Mothers’ Association of Australia cookbook – the house constructed with plain biscuit and the fence posts chocolate. The dinosaur bones were white chocolate hand-piped by Emma. A favourite family birthday cake when we were kids was the Australian Women’s Weekly farm cake, with a fence made of chocolate fingers all around the cake, green-coloured coconut grass and farm animals – my mum had kept all the animal and people figurines over the years and happily provided some of them for Caleb and Grace’s cake (I knew I recognised that pink pig!). Grace’s dad Thomas got the diggers in a mixed bag of toy vehicles at a secondhand market.
The birthday kids’ dads held onto them as we sang “Happy Birthday”, and provided assistance with birthday candle blowing. My brother and Grace’s dad Thomas have been best mates since the very first year we arrived in Australia, when they were both in Year Two. I think it’s brilliant that they are still friends after all these years and their kids are already great mates too.
The kids flocked around the cake as Angela sliced it up; they couldn’t wait to stick their fingers into the icing and get a piece of the biscuit farmhouse. Funnily enough, my nephew and nieces all eat birthday cake the same way – icing first.
I vividly remember Boxing Day 2010 – it was a scorching summer’s day, we had a family lunch and Angela was heavily, uncomfortably pregnant. She had a feeling the baby would be coming very soon and she was right; the very next day, we received the great news about the arrival of the newest member of our family. He’s grown and changed so much in two years. I bet some of you are like me and secretly hope for the return of the funky spiky hair which he sported at his 1st birthday party. Am I right?
My sister-in-law Angela has her own blog, called Hungry Hungry Hippies, where she writes about cooking, sourcing ingredients, ideas for home and activities with the kids. On the subject of birthdays, you may like to check out her post on homemade natural food colourings and her tips for children’s birthday parties. You can also get the recipe for the chocolate cake used for Caleb and Grace’s birthday – it’s called “moist chocolate cake”.