Wednesday, 24 July 2013

In which I am the over-zealous parent at a party

In general, I quite enjoy going to the Zeds' friends' birthday parties. The reasons for this are multiple: 1. I usually get cake 2. I like watching children run around and be over-excited 3. I enjoy reminiscing about the parties I had and the ones I went to as a child. 4. Chatting with other parents is mostly pleasant.

Z2's had all the action on the back
tie dye, crafts, wearable art
       Pensive           Action shot
                              of the back
At a birthday party over the weekend (one of two - two birthday parties in one weekend is a bit much, even for me, I will admit), I fear I was the annoying parent. My first wrongdoing was texting the night before to say that Z2 and husband would come along "if that's ok" in addition to myself and Z1. The gracious hostess said that was fine and asked, apologetically, if I could bring a white t-shirt for Z2 to dye as the ones she had were accounted for. I assured her I would and not to worry as we'd bring a hankie or something otherwise. I also said I was excited about the idea of tie dye at which point she, quite possibly joking, said I could bring something along to dye myself. Here is my second wrongdoing - I did bring a vest top to dye myself. As I type, I feel slightly ashamed but I was very excited - I haven't done tie dye in years and this was to be spray dyes which I had never even heard of.

And me and mine
The wise mother-of-the-birthday-girl had organised the whole party in the back garden - 5 year olds and dye at a party in one's house could have been a little disastrous for the walls and carpet, I would imagine.  Z1 decided against the "tie" part of tie dye and just went freestyle with the spray on the shirt. She loves it and wore it a birthday party in the park the next day as well as to school on the following Monday. I think she carries it off with style and aplomb. I was very good and did not interfere in her creative process. Even better, despite being, perhaps  almost certainly, over-involved in the tie-dying activity (I had to remind myself a couple of times to wait my turn after the official birthday guests were finished), I did allow Z1 to ruin add her artistic influence to my top. Z2's contribution to his was chiefly in choosing the colours. So, who do you think wears it best?

You may also be interested to know:
  • Other highlights of this party included this jelly goo stuff which entertained the small people for ages as they declared themselves to be lizard princes/princesses/queens and smeared it all over their skin, there was also a paddling pool AND ice cream with sprinkles and sauces in addition to the standard and necessary cake. Magnificent party overall (Thanks, Jennifer, if you happen to be reading!).
  • There may be more tie dye posts to come - I have been inspired.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Impossible Coconut Pie

I didn't even need to think up a catchy title for this post as the name of the recipe is pretty catchy in itself, doncha think? I believe the pie is called "impossible" as it forms its own crust when baked and you don't have to make pastry. I found it in the ever-flowing fount of inspiration and was curious to try it but felt I should find a reason to make it.

I bought the coconut on Tuesday and was still looking for a reason to make it. The problem with baking in my house is that, while I usually have enthusiastic helpers in a Zed or two, they aren't usually very enthusiastic eaters of the results. I don't understand why as we've only had one baking result that was really and truly not worth eating. We do have willing neighbours, though.

happy smiley children baking
Yes, I am cruel , I banished
these happy small people.
In fact, one neighbour, an old lady (84 on the 5th of July, I believe), gave me a perfect reason to make the coconut pie. We had a rather sad conversation with her on Wednesday about how her bingo was finished and she is at home alone all day and all evening and, though the neighbours are friendly, they are busy with their own lives. We pass her most mornings on the way to the bus stop and wave and remark on the weather but now we're making a bit of a bigger effort to stop for a chat...or, indeed, to drop off some coconut pie. So there was reason number 1 to make the pie - we could use it as a pretext to drop into B at the weekend. As it happened, I had also booked tickets for Z1 and me to go and see the Wizard of Oz this weekend but was keeping it a secret to avoid conflicts with Z2 (who, I felt, would be just as happy at the cinema with Husband) and to avoid over-excitement from Z1. From this a plan emerged - Saturday morning would be spent making the pie, once it was baked and Z2 was napping, Z1 and I would take the pie around to B and then I would casually mention to Z1 that we were going to the theatre. Marvellous!

After our usually summer Saturday morning routine of me getting the Zeds breakfast and then attempting a peaceful breakfast myself in the sun on the front porch (after growing up in Ireland, I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this proper summer that we get in

tea, relaxing, summer, porch, mom
Breakfast on the porch
Toronto, despite floods and storms, it is WARM.), we set to work. As is usual when I bake with the Zeds, I got a bit more irritable than I should about them dipping fingers in the bowl and tasting and so on. In fact, I banished them after we finished mixing. It was for their own good. Also, the entertaining bit was over, really.

over-toasted, coconut pie, spotty tablecloth, pie dish
Slightly over-toasted
coconut pie
I baked it and then put it under the grill
(for slightly too long) to get the coconut toasty looking. I tasted it and approved. I sliced a bit for B and put it in a container. Z2 was put down for his nap by the Husband and Z1 and I set forth. B was out but I came prepared and we left it on her front porch with a  note. We went off to see the Wizard and B was waiting for us on Monday morning with the container. She didn't actually mention if the pie was good and the Zeds haven't tried it (though Z2 did express some interest in it this morning) so I can't give an unbiased report. Husband has said he will try it. I liked it, it's better warm. I tried it with raspberry coulis that I made for cheesecake and that was quite nice.

You may also be interested to know:
 - the recipe (halved from Pinterest) can be downloaded from the downloads page here
- Z1 loved the Wizard of Oz and I rather enjoyed it too. The merchandisers really missed a trick not selling ruby red slippers in the foyer, though.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Even Sadder Sunflower Story

It is with deep sadness that I write today. Yesterday, I went to check on our brave beacon of a sunflower that had been growing tall despite the odds, only to find it had been cut down in its prime, leaves chewed to pieces and stalk cut brutally. I blame the caterpillars. Next year, we shall be guarding our sunflowers with more care and attention. This year, we shall have to make do with white hydrangeas as big as Z1's head.

(For the full saga of the sunflowers, check out here, here, here and here)