Thursday, December 19, 2013

Birthday week and party

On their actual birthday, we had a very quiet day. We woke up after snuggling and their morning breast feed headed out to the living room. Rob made them a mini stack of pancakes each, we topped them with a candle and sang Happy Birthday.

The girls had a stack of gifts waiting to be opened, but we found they quickly lost interest, so we savoured gift opening all day and the next. They loved the wrapping and ribbons best!

Rob headed into work eventually. We had a quiet morning together, the girls napped and then we ate lunch.

Rob came home with their favourite dinner. Steak and pink eye potatoes. They are so good at eating, and love to feed themselves. Now they are in their new high chairs, we can actually enjoy our dinner too. Using both hands is quite a novelty after 8 months!

We headed to bed together not long afterwards. 

After a restful day, party preparations swung into action. We had invited some of the NICU nurses we got to know over the 16 weeks in hospital, some friends and family. As usual my job is to plan and organise, poor Rob I hope he didn't feel too hen-pecked. We went for a casual lunch menu.

Ocean trout gravlax with Pigeonhole molasses and rye bread and horseradish yoghurt cheese.

Slow roasted (24 hours) free range pork shoulder (Berkshire from Bruny Island via Vermey's), served in buns, slaw and apple sauce.

Lemon coconut cake with cream cheese frosting birthday cake.
Triple chocolate brownies (both normal and gluten free)

Rob had started the gravlax on Tuesday night. On Friday I baked the brownies.
Saturday was a big day. We were up at 6am, juggling baby feeding and wrangling with our various tasks. I picked some fresh flowers to arrange. The week before I had decorated the room with rainbow fabric bunting and my favourite (signature) honeycomb paper decorations. I chose an array of flowers in the colours of a rainbow, red roses, orange and yellow lilies and poppies, green Blechnum fern fronds, blue and purple delphiniums, blue Nigella and pink ranunculus.

I quickly made up the Annabel Langbein lemon and coconut cake. The recipe is super easy and made a large cake and two smaller smash cakes.

Then it was Rob's turn. He started Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 24 hour slow roasted pork shoulder. After rubbing in a paste of chili, ginger, garlic and oil into the scored skin, it went into a very hot oven for half an hour to start the crackling. Then the oven was turned down and the pork turned over and you cook it as low as the oven will go. Rob then headed outside to mow the lawn, and scythe the sides of the driveway. I made the cream cheese frosting for the birthday cake, but decided to ice the cakes on the day. We fed the girls early, and were feeling smug about just cleaning the house (I'd been doing some of it amongst baby wrangling) and some more food preparation. Then the power went out. Not only do we lose power, we also lose running water. Rob headed off to do some last minute shopping and pick up hot chips for tea. With the furniture rearranged, no power and the kitchen in disarray it felt like we'd just moved in, as we sat eating our chips on the floor.

The power came back on after an hour and a half, and I admit I headed to bed with the girls for their last feed, whilst Rob stayed up to cook. Apple sauce to go with the pork and a creamy coleslaw.

The morning started early, feeding babies, and Rob picking up fresh bread and buns, and ice for drinks. Despite forecasted showers, it was sunny and warm with a breeze.

I gave the girls a wash while Rob did a final vacuum and mop, then I tried to get the girls to sleep. Poor Rob headed outside alone to tackle a cheap 6x3m marquee I had bought. Of course the breeze picked up. I watched uselessly inside under breast feeding babies and rushed outside to help as soon as they were asleep. But the frame had twisted and kept unclicking as soon as you let one section go. After one last attempt with the gaffa tape, we baled, took it apart and decided we'd be cosy in the hut.

Our friends arrived then to give us a hand with the last minute prep. I passed the babies over and headed off to have a much needed shower. With the marquee debacle behind us, we got back on track, Rob and our friends slicing the gravlax, fresh rye bread, and mixing the drained yoghurt with horse radish. Meanwhile I fed the girls a quick lunch. Rob cleaned up too and we were all ready when the guests started to arrive.

More presents to open for the girls.

The hut is set up well for parties. We turned the breezeway into the bar.

The main room opens up and creates lots of space for sitting and serving food.

The gravlax had cured perfectly to a ruby colour.

The pork was ready, I love these photos of Rob and our friends chatting as he carves.

The slaw and salad a perfect accompaniment to the tender meat. 
Soon guests sat around inside and out munching happily on pork-filled buns. 

The girls even sat in their high chairs and munched on some meat.

Next course needed some final prepping, but soon the cakes were ready.

Ready for "happy birthday" to be sung and blowing out their candles. The girls listened as we all sang and then we helped blow out their candles.

Then the real fun began. We put them in their high chairs and placed a mini cake infront of each them. At first they looked confused, then Elisabeth plunged her hand into the cream cheese frosting and quickly transferred the handful to her mouth. Maggie used a different technique, she face planted the cake, licking the frosting and creating a frosting beard. They had all of us in fits of laughter as they continued to demolish their cakes with their individual styles (they didn't actually eat much cake!)

Eventually we cleaned them up, but they had had a fantastic time! 
As most guests left a few others arrived and we sat and relaxed as both girls fell asleep on the window seat. Everyone remarked how laid back the girls were, and I admit they were happy to be passed between guests for most of the afternoon. 

We headed to bed tired but very happy.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Loved seeing all these photos from what looks like a lovely celebration of your two beautiful girls turning 1 xx

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