My niece Zoe’s been waiting so long for her birthday. In her own words to her mum:
Finally, finally, her birthday is here! She’s turning three and having a purple party!
Jac and I are in charge of the balloons for the party. They’re purple balloons, of course. We set ourselves up in the laundry where Jac fills the balloons up with helium and I tie each one with purple ribbon. Ruby and Zoe pull their chairs over to watch us through the fly-screen door. Apparently, it’s riveting viewing.
The guests start arriving and the kids line up for face painting.
Zoe sucks her cheeks in and sits perfectly still while her face is painted. A lucky golden horseshoe on her left cheek, a beautiful rainbow on her right. Zoe and Ruby’s friend Georgia (whose mum is the face painter) sits next to Zoe, helpfully holding the mirror. “Look, Zoe, look!” Georgia says. Zoe, deeply focused on keeping still, moves her eyes and not her head.
Ruby gets her face painted too – she’s a butterfly! Both girls have purple dresses on specially for today. When we arrive, the girls immediately notice we’re wearing purple T-shirts. In fact, the whole family’s got right into the purple theme. The girls are impressed and Zoe is thrilled.
The girls’ dad, my brother Mark, is busy making balloon animals for the kids. He can make dogs, rabbits, giraffes, snakes and eels. He has a special technique for turning an ordinary balloon dog into a puffy tailed poodle.
As usual, friends and family bring along food for the party feast. There’s heart-shaped fairy bread…
…and lots of fresh fruit.
Puffed corn, which I can’t stop eating!
And chocolate crackles, a big favourite of the girls.
The jelly shots were very popular at Caleb’s birthday party and we’ve got them again for Zoe’s.
With faces painted and pony party hats on, the girls get right into the party food.
Jac is in charge of cooking the main course – the sausage sizzle. It smells fantastic.
While the sausages cook on the barbecue, the kids get busy with some colouring-in.
Then it’s time for pin the tail on the pony. The girls’ Auntie Juji has drawn the pony on a sheet of purple cardboard and made it a beautiful bushy tail. The kids take turns to be blindfolded and place the tail on the pony. Everyone who has a go gets to choose a jellybean. We all giggle at the funny places the pony’s tail is placed.
In the end, the winner places the tail almost in the perfect spot! Zoe and her mum present a special bag of goodies to the winner, saying “Well done!”
It’s now time for lunch! My mum has cooked up a batch of her famous fried rice noodles with cabbage, carrot and pork.
The kids have special ‘salads’ in individual containers.
I take a peek at one of the special kids’ salads: there’s tomato, carrot, pineapple, corn and cheese.
The sausages are hot off the barbie. There are soft fluffy white buns to eat them with.
We have spinach, cherry tomato and feta salad…
The girls sit down to eat their lunch on purple plates with purple cutlery.
As Zoe eats, she looks up at her purple balloon and beams with happiness.
I get myself a plate of food including two sausages in a bun with lots of tomato sauce.
After lunch, the kids gather around as Zoe opens her birthday presents. Ruby’s right by her side to help. Zoe’s not about to let anyone else tear open the wrapping paper! “Only the birthday girl,” she warns the others.
But where is Caleb?
The girls’ baby brother’s been sleeping all this time! He makes his first appearance at the party with his signature spectacular shock of hair. It doesn’t take long for him to join in the fun.
When Zoe’s mum asked her what kind of birthday cake she would like, Zoe told her she wanted a purple pony.
After much thinking and research, mum Angela found a pony cake design and template at the Betty Crocker website.
So here’s Zoe’s “purple pony”: a chocolate pony with a purple mane and tail, purple hooves and purple saddle with number 3 on it. The cake recipe came from the Country Women’s Association (CWA) cookbook, with a few personal tweaks by Angela.
Zoe is mesmerised by her cake. She gazes at the pony while her dad strikes up a match to light the purple and white striped candles.
It’s all very exciting! We sing Happy Birthday and Mummy and Ruby help Zoe to blow out the candles.
The girls watch in anticipation as their mum cuts the cake. “Me want the eye,” says Zoe.
The eye goes to the birthday girl, but the pony cake is eagerly eaten and enjoyed by all!
The cake is lovely and moist. I’m sure I can taste a hint of cinnamon in it. My favourite part is the icing!
Each of the kids gets to take home a pony party bag.
Ruby and Zoe get party bags too. Ruby discovers the bubble mixture in hers and shows me how well she can blow bubbles now. She’s been practising!
Zoe’s had a wonderful time. “Me birthday girl,” she whispers.