moms and their kids

Our kiddos love to hang out together...
...and their mommies like to hang out too! As all of you moms know kid free time together with some girlfriends is far and few between, but somehow we managed to squeeze in some time to take advantage of restaurants week at Mister A's
Amy, Maureen, Stacie, Leslie, Kathleen, and Amy.

Hair-raising experience at the Aquarium

Little T's annual birthday trip to London - 2012

For her 7th birthday, Little T returned to London for a day trip with some of her friends.
We traveled by train and made our way along the South Bank to a restaurant for lunch before heading to the London Aquarium.

On the train

At the Aquarium

After walking around the Aquarium (highlights were the penguins, the sharks and the Hurricane Simulator), we then headed for ice cream and the girls were sad to have missed the sheep shearing show....

Finally, it was back home for birthday cake (choc chip panettone as chosen by the birthday girl).

Nellie the Elephant Cake

I recently attended the 'Cute Carved Elephant Cake' course at Cakes 4 Fun  and the cake certainly lives up to it's billing as it's super cute! But what is the secret to this gravity defying cake? Rice Krispie squares! If you've ever seen Ace of Cakes you'll know that Rice Krispie squares can be used to make more intricate structures that you could never make out of cake, whilst keeping your creation food safe and edible.
The good news is you don't have to go to the supermarket and clear ths shelves of little packs of Rice Krispie can now buy 'Treat Sheets' as above which is 907g of the stuff! You can buy a sheet from Jane Asher for £16.99 but I'm sure you can buy it at other online stores too. The crispy marshmallow is perfect for moulding as you can squish it into any shape that you'd like and you can also cut it with a sharp knife.
To make Nellie, the body is carved out of cake and cut and filled as usual. It's then crumb coated and covered with grey sugarpaste. However, both the head and legs are made out of Rice Krispies, as is the ball balanced on the top. The paste sticks naturally as if you've ever had Rice Krispie treats, you'll know that they're very sticky! Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of Nellie pre-covering!

The good thing about this cake is that elephants are naturally creased and wrinkly so the sugarpaste covering doesn't have to be perfect. In order to make the legs and head mould seamlessly to the body, a roll of grey paste was wrapped around the joint and then pressed in with a Dresden tool to make it look creased. In order to secure Nellie's ball to the top of her trunk, a skewer was pushed down through. The ball itself is glittery as it was covered lightly in edible glue and then rolled in glitter.
Rice Krispie Treats are a great way to model more complex structures on cakes and I'm looking forward to using them in the future...I've already got a couple of projects in mind! :-)
And to finish...a herd of Nellies...

Ice Cream Mud Pie

Coffee Ice Cream Mud Pie

My birthday is tomorrow, and being the food pusher control freak that I am, I am again making my own birthday "cake." This year, though, it's not an actual cake (see My Chocolate Birthday Cake), but instead it's a birthday pie. An ice cream pie. Mud pie. With coffee ice cream.
My first ice cream pie experiences were from Baskin Robbins. My dad always liked to have the Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream pie from Baskin Robbins for his birthday. I think we would also get mint chocolate chip flavor sometimes. Those were special pies. Then in college, we would go to the Chart House in Long Beach, CA for their mud pie. Now THAT's dessert awesomeness in my book. They put a gallon of coffee ice cream inside a 9-inch Oreo cookie crust. Each slice is a tower of ice cream, Oreo crust, fudge topping, whipped cream and salted almonds. Oh my gosh. Back in the '80s it they charged $7 a slice. I have no idea what they're charging these days, as I don't live near a Chart House and I don't even think the one in Long Beach exists any longer. There are other locations, but really, it's easy enough to make, and I'm making it for my birthday this year.
I'm hoping that our family members who come to our celebration this evening don't want the coffee version. I've made a cookies 'n cream version to avoid wasting my coffee mud pie on slacker kids who will want a piece but not eat it when they taste the coffee. Yes, I am a planner. And a judger. It's my birthday. I can plan and judge if I want to.
The "recipe" for this pie is so simple, it almost seems like a "duh" recipe, but I did discover how a Kitchen Aid mixer makes it a lot better. So, read on, and know you can do this with almost any ice cream, unless it has ribbons of sauce in it. The Kitchen Aid method will mess that up. Enough. On to the recipe.
(P.S. It was my own kid who was the slacker after all. He said he wanted the coffee ice cream mud pie and only ate a couple of bites, leaving the rest to melt into a sad puddle. I'd have eaten his, but I'd already eaten the piece you see above BEFORE dinner, and then another AFTER dinner. Yeah. I felt sick for the next 18 hours or so.)

Coffee Ice Cream Mud Pie


  • 24 Oreo cookies, creme filling scraped out
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (preferably salted butter0
  • 2 28oz. conatiners of Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream (or half gallon of other ice cream) 
  • hot fudge sauce (recipe below)
  • sweetened whipped cream
  • chopped salted almonds

Pulverize the Oreo cookie wafers in a large zip top bag or in a food processor. Add melted butter to bag or food processor and completely mix the cookie crumbs with the butter.
Press cookie/butter mixture into a 9-inch pie pan--bottom and sides. Press in pretty firmly so it will hold up to cutting later. Set crust aside.
Soften the ice cream by letting it set on the counter for about 20 minutes (maybe longer depending on how hard it is when you start). When ice cream is soft enough to scoop out easily, scoop it in large chunks into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until ice cream is smooth (about 1 minute).
Spoon/pour ice cream into prepared crust and carefully spread it with a silicone spatula into the pie crust, taking care not to pull away the crust as you spread. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and freeze at least 8 hours.
Once the pie is frozen, it's ready to cut and serve with room temperature fudge sauce, whipped cream and nuts.
Makes 8 servings.

Hot Fudge Sauce
    --adapted from


  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 24 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt and half of the chocolate to a boil. Stir until chocolate is melted. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Add butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool sauce to warm before serving.

Rendezvous at the Museum

The first week of the holidays I have had my mum and a good friends daughter visiting . These two are the best of friends, even though they haven't lived near each other since they were two.  Back then the big Bowerbird was very fond of asserting herself by biting her golden locked buddy, leaving serious tooth marks. She obviously made an impression as the friendship has lasted. So pleased she grew out of her T Rex ways, all kisses, cuddles and giggles these days.
 Hilarious to see these big girls balancing on little buckets.
 Unfortunately the BF had to be returned home so we organised a rendezvous half way point at the Melbourne Museum.   It was a beautiful day so we spent quite a bit of the day in the outdoor areas of the museum.

 We didn't go to see the new Mesopotamia Exhibit but the middle Bowerbird had fun creating his own Mesopotamian village.

  Playing with mirrors in the children's section, wish I'd taken a picture with all the kids, was a great effect.

 The highlight of the day for me was seeing my blog's namesake. Mr Bowerbird has built and furbished the most divine bower in the museum's rainforest. I was rapt to actually get to see him inside the bower, he seems quite unworried by visitors and has gathered up quite a collection of blue treasures.

We spent ages in the dinosaur area talking to a volunteer about dinosaurs.  We got to hold real fossils, including an ancient shark's tooth, and helped unearth the fossil of a 40 million year old crocodile. The kids have been instructed to act like a dinosaur here, not sure what sort the little Bowerbird is, Smilosaurus. A great day of catching up with old friends, playing and learning.  The little one on the left insisted no visit to the museum was complete with pressing the fart button. I didn't know about the fart button (our little one wanted to know if the poo in the exhibit was real) but I think it may become a tradition with our kids as well.

Bike Dreams

This evening Steve went out to air up the tires on Rachel's bike.  Somehow, she managed to convince him to take off her training wheels.  After all, she is BIG.  She was very excited to give it a try.
But, after multiple attempts, it became clear that balance is still a big issue.  Rae couldn't stay upright for even one turn of the pedals.  Although she wanted to keep trying.  So, Steve put the training wheels back on.
Miss Rae was NOT pleased with this turn on events!
She did manage to talk her dad into bending the training wheels up more, so that they were farther from the ground.  Then she took her bike to the imaginary bike store and "took off the little wheels".  And climbed on her new-to-her-mind bicycle.
It's still obvious to everyone but Rachel that she's not quite ready for solo riding.  How do you like that lean?
But Rachel is, as always, determined.  Even when riding doesn't go as planned.
She just climbs back on and tries again.
She can even do tricks - "One hand!"
And she has a good time, even if she's not quite as big as she dreams.

apple-themed family fun night

we worked on a couple of crafts i used to do when i was a teacher.
we went apple picking
watched a movie about Johnny Appleseed

on the menu~
autumn salad (it's cobb salad plus apples, pears, sunflower seeds)
golden apple snack cake

A new Waldorf doll for Marion