17 May 2010

Reaching a Milestone

My Dad and my Aunt both turned 80 this year. Dad on May 21 and Aunt M on June 23.

Dad still rides his motorbike. In fact he still rides it to Sydney on his visits to the family. Not something I'm too happy about when he does, but he'll be the one to decide when to stop, not me.

A big part of his motorcycling is his membership in the Ulysses club. 'Grow old disgracefully' is their motto. Nothing disgraceful about enjoying what you love.

The club holds their Annual General Meeting in a different place each year, and for Dad's 75th year, it was held in Tasmania. So off he went on his ride down to Melbourne, hopped on the Spirit of Tasmania to spend 2 weeks touring around the beautiful Tasmanian countryside and stopping off for a few days at the meeting, which is actually a big campout for a week.

He's been to a couple more in recent years, but this year's was in WA, so a bit far to go on the bike! No matter what he does, he's definitely not growing old disgracefully.

Because he lives in Brisbane, and he's getting older, I don't see him very often. He's visiting at the moment as we had Aunt M's party last week, so he was down for that. We celebrated his birthday on Wednesday night, dinner at Aunt M's with a yummy cake. He also now has a new little Kambrook Oven (one of those bench models that bakes, grills, reheats etc etc). Luckily he didn't ride the bike this time to Sydney or he'd be waiting until I get to Brisbane in September.

I'm also subjecting him to the Berry Markets tomorrow. We are taking the 2 hour drive south of Sydney to beautiful Berry. I'll take him somewhere nice for lunch, have a look at the markets, then head home for a hearty dinner of Braised Lamb Shanks that will have been slow cooking the whole time we are away.

You can get a really quick and easy recipe for this from
Exclusively Food.

Aunt M's birthday party was here at home. For someone who didn't want any fuss, I'm pretty sure she really enjoyed the day.

Imagine fitting 14 people in a small 3 bedroom villa that usually only houses 2. Very tight and cosy. It was supposed to be held outside in the courtyard. I had it all planned. Weather closed in, it rained, so the plans went out the window.

I was able to salvage some of the styling I'd planned for the courtyard, and everyone was impressed with what I had done. More on that in a bit.

It started with the invitations. I helped her select a design and papers from the
Cristina Re website. Everyone in her group reads voraciously, so she chose the bookmark invitation. I was hoping she would, I sort of steered her towards it.

She loved the paper it was in so I made them pretty much as it was on the website, only with a pearl finish for the backing card and tassle instead of the black used on the website, picture right.

You can see from the photo how everything matched just perfectly. The Bookmark Invitation is centre, showing front and back. The envelopes matched the pearl finish. The paper was green and aqua with peacocks as the main image. It's called 'Peacock Palace'. It's also reversable, so the wording was on the blue and the reverse side of the Bookmark had the printed paper.

You might also see some ribbon and boxes in the picture. These were for the cake.

I found the little boxes at a craft store. In the same pearl finish!!! How perfect. You just had to fold them on the marks, really easy. They were finished off with a strip of the paper around the bottom trimmed with the ribbon. I made 14, one for each guest, and filled them with handmade chocolates from
Nina's Chocolates at Gymea. These made up the top 3 teirs of the decoration for the cake.

The cake was vanilla sponge, filled with tangy lemon curd and cream cheese frosting...so YUM. The cream cheese frosting also covered the whole cake then I finished it off with oven toasted slivered almonds.

Absolutely DELICIOUS if I do say so myself.

Picture this...Invitations as above - check - Cake crying out to be eaten, covered in beautiful golden almonds - check -, topped with a stand covered in the Peacock paper- check -, sitting pretty on top of that, one row of 9 choccie boxes, then another 4 boxes, and the pinnacle of the last choccie box. All tied together with the ribbon trim and a white bow - check, check and check.

The choccie boxes were a hit. A very adult 'lolly bag' to take home from the party.

Haven't finished yet....this is the 'More about that in a bit...' I mentioned at the start.

Each place setting had a matching table tent, thanking everyone for coming to celebrate. There was 4 aqua glasses as vases filled with rose posies and ribbon, then in the middle of the table, a large vase of white crysanthinums and a big '8' '0' made from the peacock paper and pearl card.

All this on to a long table covered in a white table cloth, white Italian wedding chairs, and white crockery. Nearly everything was hired, we didn't want a big clean up, just had to rinse all the plates and cutlery and pack it all up. We also hired the tea cups, but didn't worry about glassware, as we had plenty (although not enough room on the table for them, so the bar was in the garage). I wanted the courtyard to be a 'white room' with the colour highlight from the decorations, so we also hired a white fabric curtain that was supposed to cover the brick wall in the courtyard. This was the only thing we couldn't do...Nevermind, the day ended up going off without a hitch (well, maybe just a couple of little things).

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