Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Emperor's second birthday

Last weekend we celebrated our little man's second birthday. He is a boy completely fascinated by anything on wheels, but fire engines are quite special for him, so we went with a fire engine theme.

I had been looking for some nice invitations for a while without much success. Then one day I was browsing one of my favourite websites, Etsy, when I came across a fantastic party printables store called Ledingham Shop. In less than 24 hours, Jane Ledingham had emailed me the file with my personalised party invitations ready to take to the printers. They looked brilliant! I also did matching buffet labels, a happy birthday banner and thank you tags for the party favours through Ledingham Shop.

With a little baby and toddler in my care, we made the decision to have the party catered for to save on the hassle and stress of preparing the food ourselves. So, we got in touch with Vegerama here in Brisbane and arranged for them to cater the party. They did a great job, and the food was well received by our guests, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike! We had samosas and dhokla, as well as two salads - Pad Thai and Chickpea and Pesto. The Pad Thai salad was a real winner for me. With such beautiful fruit available at the moment, I made up a big fruit salad as well. And for the little people I made some readymade Quorn sausage rolls and our favourite savoury muffins as extras.

I make these muffins at least once a week. We love them in our house because they are a great breakfast on the run, lunch or just a nutritious snack. They freeze well too, which is great in a busy household. Here is the recipe!

Carrot, spinach and cumin muffins
An adapted Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe


80g salted butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp olive oil
half large onion, finely diced
2 tsp ground cumin
150g spinach, tough stalks removed and very finely shredded (silverbeet is a good substitute)
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2 eggs
275g whole milk yoghurt
150g carrots, grated
40g pumpkin seeds, toasted


1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Alternatively, you can line with muffin papers.

2. Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin, stir for a minute, then add the spinach and stir until wilted and soft. Cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a jug, whisk the melted butter, eggs and yoghurt. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour and stir with a spatula until just combined. Fold in the cooled onions and spinach, the carrots and seeds.

4. Spoon into the cases and bake for about 18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Note - these also work very well as mini-muffins, in which case they require much less time in the oven. The toothpick or skewer test is the best way to check.

Now onto the sweet side of the food! Of course, the cake and cupcakes were made by me! It was the first big cake I had done since little A's arrival, and it was such a joy creating something befitting of the fire engine theme and matching the invitation.

Hiding this creation from my little boy was very very difficult, but I managed to keep it hidden from him until it was time to cut the cake at the party. When we brought it out there was a hilarious moment when he went to grab the fire engine and play with it before we had a chance to sing happy birthday. This photo captures it perfectly.. hahaha!

But the real icing on the cake for the day was this surprise... a REAL fire engine! We were so lucky to have a friendly visit from our local fire station. The Emperor and his little friends had so much fun checking out a real life fire engine up close. It was a real delight, and what a wonderful story we will have to tell him when he is older!

All in all one seriously fun day for our little man! He was utterly exhausted by the end of the day (as was I), but it was worth it, and I can't wait for next year's party!

Til next time, dear readers



  1. Oh Anna! How cool that you were able to get a real fire truck to visit for the party! Roman's cake looks amazing - you mightn't have made a cake in a while, but you certainly haven't lost your talent for making them!

  2. aww happy birthday to your little man! that cake looks fantastic and it looked like such a fun day!

  3. Thanks Kristy, thanks Suze xx

  4. That 'old chap' in the photo looks suspiciously like a friend I have at the dog park!


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