Happy Birthday Zali!!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Zali's year started with a birthday party sleepover.  The theme was Vivid Zali so everything was bright and colourful, including the cake..


We decorated the games room and Zali and her friends hung out in there until we went out to the watch the fireworks at 9 - my phone captured a surprisingly good image of them..

Then it was partying at home until midnight and a midnight feast of course.



Cake by Numbers

Thursday, 4 September 2014

When Jett chose to have a birthday cake that was the same as the cakes presented in the popular game Minecraft I thought I had the easiest assignment in the world..especially as there were also some good example cakes to check out too..


I mean just look at it!  - The computer cake on the left is created out of chunky looking square pixels which would translate in an orderly fashion to square icing 'tiles' (see actual cake on right). Easy. Colour by numbers I tell you.

Well it would be, but when I returned (slightly fatigued) from my walks yesterday I quickly put the undercoat layer of icing on the cake so I could go ahead and finish it off with the outside tiles today. Only I didn't stop to think, I just did it.  Thus, this morning my cake looked like this:


Which is absolutely totally fine, except that a minecraft cake has a 14:8 width to height ratio.  And mine was well..um 22cm x 10cm. uh oh!  Compounding this was the fact that I only had one square cutter, and it was 2x2cm.  Of course I could have cut the tiles to any size with a knife, but aside from all the extra measuring I would have had to do,  icing can stretch while you cut it - so the tiles wouldn't have been uniform and no amount of resizing would fix the underlying ratio problem anyway.

So I needed to do calculations to work out what I could do with what I had, in order to re-create the essence (if not the entirety), of a minecraft cake..


Sheesh - and this was supposed to be easy! When I finally came up with a solution (11 squares x 5 squares with a pattern adjustment) I still had to colour 2 different browns, two different greys, and then cut all the tiles… gawd..


About an hour into the cutting, I realised that I'd have just about finished any other cake by now.. such as the pirate cake I did for Jett a few years ago..


So it turns out straight lines and rigid patterns are not helpful at all, they are a pain! Anyway - on I laboured, and after almost 2 hours I had completed the top of the cake..


Then I had to rush off to school to take Jett's extension maths class. Before I left I just had time to put together and print out a 'special' problem for them which went something like this (I've shortened it and removed the pics for your convenience).. 

q) I would like to make a minecraft cake that looks like this: [example pic] and I have a cutter that can make 2x2cm square icing tiles [example pic]. What size cake do I need to make ?

clever huh! It took them a while to work out how to solve the problem (i.e. count squares, times by two) - it's actually quite interesting what they are good at and not good at as a group but that's another story for another time.

Anyway - back at home I worked on the sides of the cake (another hour or so) -  there are 55 tiles on each side.


and then, because I'm a sucker for punishment I decided the cake board should be pixelated too, so the finished product looked like this - I ran out of green so I decided the visible edge of the board was a feature, not a bug.


So it turned out ok in the end. You can see bigger than desirable gaps between the tiles on the cake but I really couldn't do anything about it due to the required coverage.  I'm happy that the modified pattern still works - the kids haven't noticed that it's not exactly the real pattern (due once again to the incorrect ratio that I started with).  But it certainly took twice as long as a regular equivalent sized cake.  And given that my expectations where that it would take half as long as a regular cake, the reality was therefore four times longer! Actually that would make a good extension maths question..

q) Cathy sets out to make a straight forward cake in an hour. At the start she makes a mistake that results in the whole operation taking twice as long as it should have. Will she finish it in time to take Zali to her horse riding lesson which is  a fifteen minute drive away and when will she get time to do the shopping for Jett's party tomorrow?..


Piñata Update

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Well it took about 50 whacks with a cricket bat before the Piñata was sufficiently battered enough to release its load.  Also happy to report there was no collateral damage to children or to the posts holding the deck up. yay!


Friday, 30 August 2013

Over the last week, we have been making a soccer ball piñata for Jett's sleepover party tomorrow night. 

We've made a fish one before for Zali's underwater themed party, which was quite fun, so we thought we'd give it another go for Jett's. Only I didn't want his soccer ball to be balloon shaped so this time I started by cutting the the pentagons and hexagons out of a weetbix packet and sticking them all together so we had a proper soccer ball shaped base.

Then the kids did their paper mache stuff..


Followed by a coat of white paint..


Then a coat of black paint..


and now it's done.  We've filled it with Cadbury Favourites, put some rope through to hang it with, and it's just perfect. And cost nothing ! yay! 

Except for one tiny thing.   It's totally, completely, invincibly, indestructible.  The combination of starting with cardboard (rather than a balloon which is later popped and removed) and using flour and water as a glue has created an object which could safely be used to house small animals (meerkats may be too big) in a nuclear attack.   I can see that the only way this will be broken during tomorrow's party will be if we reverse over it in the car. 

This will obviously be disappointing for the bat-wielding, lolly hungry children however I can't help but think that this means we'll be able to use it for many parties to come - yay! 

Picture Perfect

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Today was Zali's birthday party. Her birthday seems to have stretched from cake and fireworks on New Years Eve right through to today including a celebration with almost absolutely everyone on Maria Island so she's done pretty well this year! 

Zali's party was billed as a 'treasure hunt picnic party' but of course we only got back from Maria Island (pictures to come) with one day to prepare including making and decorating the cake. Luckily though we had lots of high quality help so we fashioned a treasure hunt using the orienteering map of Sandown, fantastic hand-sewn party bags, and lots of picnic food - yay!

The venue was perfect - the weather was amazing and it all went smoothly with lots of help from our friends - we couldn't have managed it without them.


The treasure hunt took everyone from the lighthouse point to back past the sailing club and in hindsight we'd probably make the physical part of the treasure hunt a bit shorter and the mental part a bit harder as the kids were looking a bit weary by the end. Also I'd give each kid a pencil to write down the letters on each control (which later they unscrambled to form another clue) rather than have the first kid just pick up the single card with the letter as the stragglers seemed to lose motivation pretty quickly and it might have kept them involved for a bit longer.


The treasure hunters coming along the beach towards the sailing club..

Nethertheless it was all good fun and they got sent home with an orienteering map and the coolest party bags ever (thanks Tracy!).

Zali's been a great help with the preparations with the fun stuff like decorating the cake and with the less fun stuff like cleaning up work surfaces and packing up the party gear. What a lovely girl.





Slave Labour

Sunday, 16 September 2012

It's handy having a partner in gross-ness for the party preparations..


Dinner anyone?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Ah.. how did I ever survive before I got my large brain mould - every family should have one.  The other smaller brain jellies all came out of one little mould zali had in a science kit.  I had planned to make little jellies straight from my 8 newly-purchased-from-ebay moulds but sadly they haven't arrived yet - I bet they arrive tomorrow which won't be handy at all.  Anyway to make these ones I had to make all the shells one at a time from white chocolate, then fill them with jelly later on.  Good thing I don't have a job cos 20 took a while..


Gross Ponderings

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Do you ever get the feeling you are being watched?


Maybe you hear whisperings around you..


but you just can't put you finger on where it is coming from..

It un-nerves you so much you start to grind your teeth..


and you delve deep into your brain for a solution..


in the end it drives you so crazy that your head just explodes completely..


 [the end]


Re-post of Gross

Thursday, 30 August 2012

I'm just looking through some photos of Zali's Creepy Party from 2011 for something to illustrate Jett's party invitations with (he wants a 'Gross' party - somehow it is different?).

I think I found the perfect thing - I know I would have posted this at the time but I think it deserves a re-post - as this cake was a masterpiece if I do say so myself. I seem to remember the kids bunching up at the party food table as far away from the cake as they could possibly get.. job done me.


Slumber Party!

Friday, 6 January 2012










It's 10pm and the house is settling down to the soothing sounds of summer tennis (yay!) and the giggling of Zali and her friends  in her bedroom - punctuated with the occasional mystery thump.  

Compared to the BBQ we held earlier in the week for Jett and what felt like 1 billion of his marauding friends this has been very civilised party so far, except perhaps for the beating of the fish piñata in the games room. I'm normally not keen on pinatas but as Zali really wanted one and was willing to make her own (which we've been working on since we got back from SA) I've relented. It turned out really well and everyone got a few good thumps in before it burst into pieces. 

Job Well Done

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Zali's Spooky Party was held today, and a spooky party needs a spooky cake. I think the fact that most of the kids didn't want to go near the cake or most of the cupcakes demonstrates that I did my job.

Jon and I also set up a 'haunted house' in the green room which involved putting up walls, blackening the windows, putting in lots of creepy props and sounds effects, then putting Denny in there so they were unexpectedly accosted by a creepy guest.  I think it was pretty successful and only a small percentage of the kids will need long term counselling.  The other games we played were a mummy wrap & race (see photo), a brain and spoon race (like an egg and spoon race but with jelly brains and eyeballs),  spooky soup and we also had a bat hunt to kick things off.  It was fun and Zali enjoyed it but given the hours and hours of set-up required we might try something less ambitious next year - maybe Zali will settle for a Library Party.


Monday, 13 December 2010

Nope this isn't the arachnid display at the museum, these are the invitations to Zali's Spooky party, lined up ready to be delivered. The magnets(hot glued) onto the spiders were handy so we could arrange them on the fridge in the same order as her school photo to make sure we hadn't missed anyone.   The tags were made out of old manilla folders, printed with the details. Then I put the holes in them with those rivet thingies which we had on hand from some other project.  Then some ye-olde-style string and presto - creepy invites I'm sure you'll agree. 

Someone stop me..

Friday, 10 September 2010

Ok.. so I suppose some of you are thinking that I"m getting into this pirate party theme a bit tooo much.  Well don't be worried.. I only did a couple of other pirate things this week.. like um.. pirate biscuits.. 


oh and the Pirate-Dice-of-almost Certain-Doom (and I got second mate Zali to assist me with that..)


Yep that's about it really. Oh except for the Fimo Pirate Medallions - but I did them months ago so that doesn't really count..

 There's the invitations in bottles, the treasure chest and the cake, which of course you know about already.. so they don't count... and it's not like I did any thing else.. nup.


Well except for the Pirate Eye Patches.. but this was really a case of trying to avoid paying $15 for equivalent party shop plastic crap, when we had wrapping paper, black cardboard and elastic already at home..


So.. Like I said, no need to worry about me - I'm perfectly fine.. I've just got to hide the pieces of this Pirate Map I made and then I can dash out to the library.. seeya..






Pirate Iconology

Friday, 10 September 2010

Treasure chest : Check, Map: Check, Eyepatch: Check, Skull and Crossbones: Check, Sword through Cake: Check...   This is actually my first ever pirate cake and I'm pretty happy with it.  Jett chose the colour scheme and told me which bits of cakes he liked from a selection of googled cakes.  I did have to persuade him to let me use red on the cake as well as the blue is almost a bit dowdy for my liking..

Treasure Chest

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Every good pirate party needs some sort of treasure chest, and this will be Jett's.  I'm the worlds worst woodworker, but I'm quite good with paper, so the kids and I made this chest out of some empty boxes, scissors and sticky tape. Then we paper mached over the whole thing. When that was dry we painted it all white then over the top with the purple and yellow.  Later I added the black detail in texta and sprayed it with clear gloss varnish.  And look - today it even got cardboard hinges! The pins used in the hinges were the only things I had to go out and buy and they cost a huge $1.50 so that was pretty cool. Of course the contents of the treasure box cost a bit more but it's treasure so that's to be expected.  My plan is that once the kids find the treasure chest, we divide up the spoils into the party bags - so I won't have to get anything extra for them - who wouldn't be happy with chocolate coins and crunchie bars?
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