Category Archives: Made It

It’s A Jungle Out There…

TWO TURN TWO

CelesteReviews Jungle Safari Photobooth

Jungle/Safari Photobooth

My twins are winter babies, so our household is in full party season, with all their twin friends turning two. BC (before children), I was a busy marketing professional and event organiser, so it gives me great delight to have an excuse to plan a party. Here’s what we created for their birthday party this year…

THEME

The key to any party planning is the THEME. I have boy/girl twins (the best of both worlds), but this can be a challenging problem when deciding on a unisex birthday idea. At the moment, they are really into animals and love to visit the zoo, so this year we chose a jungle/safari theme to celebrate their 2nd birthday.

To narrow the theme down even further, I decided to give each child an animal. Mr E a tiger and Miss H a zebra. Both were similar patterns (orange and black stripes versus white and black stripes), so this would be easy to bring a design together.

INVITE

Usually I’d create a pdf invite, but this year I was pressed for time and found a great graphic designer who was willing to create what I wanted at a reasonable price (cheaper than buying or printing and posting them myself). I sent the invites out via email.

DECORATIONS

BUNTING

Home made bunting (or a string of flags) is an easy, cost effective way to decorate a large space. I painted three separate A4 pages with different animal prints (giraffe, tiger and zebra), took them to Warehouse Stationery and printed them on coloured paper. The tiger print onto orange, the zebra print onto white, and the giraffe onto grey. In hindsight, I should have used yellow for the giraffe, but I was still happy with the outcome. To these three prints, I also added a plain green paper, which I had left over from a previous project.

CelesteReviews Jungle Bunting

You can get 3 triangle flags from a sheet of A4. Each A4 sheet is approx 30cm long. Make a pencil mark along one side at 15cm, and mark the other side at 7.5cm and 22.5cm. Draw a line between each mark and the corners of the page, and that is your cutting line. When you are done cutting, use a hole punch to place two holes evenly along the base of each triangle. Then thread string or ribbon through the holes.

It took the hubby and I one evening in front of the TV to measure and cut, and another to thread.

CelesteReviews Jungle table

Paper grass and plastic wild animals for the table

TABLE DECORATIONS

I have no idea what Mine Craft is, but when looking for ‘fake grass’ to use as a table cloth, I found someone selling Mine Craft paper grass sheets on Trade Me. They arrived flat packed and you pull them into a spiky square shape. They looked awesome, and with a cheap green table cloth underneath and some wild plastic animals placed strategically in the ‘grass’, we had a great base to add the food to.

PHOTO BOOTH

I love the idea of capturing guests in costume at a party. I wasn’t sure how successful we’d be working with two year olds, so I looked for something that would be low to the ground. I found this awesome safari jeep cut out at www.partyparty.co.nz, and created a back drop using a green table cloth, extra bunting and a few animal cut outs. The adults didn’t mind getting down to kiddie level to capture the moment. I also sent some of these images out with my thank you emails, and the guests loved them.

COSTUMES

CelesteReviews Face Painting

Facepainting by Rainbow Rascals

We love any excuse for a dress up party, and a kids party is no exception. To ensure no one had an excuse not to come in theme, I downloaded some printable jungle masks from Etsy and sent them (via email) with the party invitation.

The twins, their grandmother, their oddmother (we don’t have god parents, we have odd parents, but that’s a whole other blog), and myself headed to the talented Jane, from Rainbow Rascals, to be turned into wild creatures for the party. Considering it was the first time either child had been face painted, Jane did a remarkable job creating my little tiger and zebra. I’m pretty sure it was my first face painting too, as I was transformed into a fierce lion. Although the twins’ faces were a bit smeared by cake cutting and presents time (main photo moments), the adults’ lasted until bed time. Note to self: It’s perhaps not the best idea to answer the door to two year old guests by roaring at them while painted as a lion. I did have fun getting into character!

We had lions, tigers, zebras, leopards, a giraffe, chipmunk, panther, safari suits, and where the wild things are as characters.

FOOD

As a helpful gesture to those with allergies, and to keep in theme, I created themed food signs using PicMonkey.com. Food included;

  • Banana, mandarin, kiwifruit slices on a platter, displayed as a tree – Jungle Fruit
  • Chips, carrot sticks and dip – Hungry Hippo Dip
  • Pretzels – Tarzan Twigs
  • Peanuts – Elephant snacks
  • Sausages in pastry (pigs in a blanket) – Wild Boars
  • Ham and egg sandwiches – Safari Sammies

I also made signs saying ‘Don’t Feed the Animals’ and ‘Watering Hole’ for added aesthetics.

CelesteReviews Jungle Food

Jungle Fruit


CAKE

Last year I paid someone else to take care of the cake, but we really wanted to give it a go this year. The hubby did the baking – one round chocolate mud cake and one round banana cake. Keeping with the twins’ characters, I kept the cake design simple – Mr E’s was orange with black stripes and a plastic tiger on top, while Miss H was white with black strips and a plastic zebra on top. I used a bit of green butter icing and green coconut to create ‘grass’ to tidy up the bottom of the cakes. Thank you YouTube for the tutorials on how to put fondant (including zebra stripes) onto a cake.CelesteReviews Jungle Cakes

MUSIC

My husband loves the challenge of creating a playlist for every party we hold, and this was no exception (although I’m not sure if many people even noticed all the wild/jungle music over the noise of 20 toddlers). The rules for our selection were that they had to be wild animals/jungle lyrics or titles, and he had to like the songs. Not sure how I managed to sneak Katie Perry in the list, but most were of the rock genre and included:

  • Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N Roses
  • Monkey Wrench – Foo Fighters
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  • Wild Thing – The Troggs
  • Run through the Jungle – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Roar – Katie Perry
  • Born to be Wild
  • Bare Necessities – from the Jungle Book
  • Baby Elephant Walk

OTHER IDEAS

PHOTO DISPLAY

Like most living rooms, the TV is a focal point in the room. So, to take advantage of that, we put together a slide show of photos of the twins from the past year (including as many of the guests as we could) and had that on a continuous loop.

THANK YOUS

Call me old fashioned, but I think every present giver should be thanked. It was a big day for the kids and they were slightly overwhelmed with the task of present opening, so over the next week, as they played with new toys or we read new books together, I tried to take a quick photo of them enjoying their gifts, so I could email the images with a thank you note.

A roaring good time was had by all. Now, only 11 months to plan their 3rd Birthday. Any ideas for a unisex twin theme?

Advertisements

Sensational Summer Salad

Hands up those who have eaten the grain Quinoa (pronounced Kin Wah). It’s apparently one of the most easily digested foods on the planet. Being vegetarian, I’d attempted using this grain in meals before, but been completely underwhelmed.

Next question. Who has tried Pomegranates? Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t either. Cutting one open for the first time was an experience, and getting the seeds out of the fruit is hard work, but rewarding.

CelesteReviews Pomegranates

Pomegranate Seeds

This summer, I started a new relationship with both of these foods, mixed together into a sensational summer salad.

Now, the best thing about Summer is being invited to loads of BBQ’s and sampling all the goodies that everyone brings. I’m not sure if it’s the whole ‘having twins’ thing, but we didn’t get invited to many BBQ’s this year. However, supporting the theory of quality vs quantity, I discovered this fantastic salad at the first BBQ event of the summer season. A friend of a friend dished up this gorgeous salad, and I couldn’t get enough. Over the months I’ve made tweaks here and there, and am more than happy to share with you my version of the Quinoa and Pomegranate Salad.

CelesteReviews Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 handful of shredded baby spinach leaves
  • 1 handful of craisins
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate (cut in half and bash with rolling pin to remove, or use a teaspoon to delicately scoop out – Oh and don’t wear a white shirt while removing the seeds either way).
  • 1 handful of chopped walnuts

Wash the quinoa in a fine sieve. Drain and simmer in a saucepan with the vegetable stock. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until quinoa is soft and liquid is evaporated. Put aside to cool.

CelesteReviews Salad Dressing

Dressing

For the dressing, whisk together:

  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (or I’ve also used white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (found at any good specialty food store, or I purchased via TradeMe.co.nz)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

To serve:
Place quinoa in a bowl and fluff with a fork. Add spinach, craisins, pomegranate seeds and walnuts and mix. Pour over dressing and toss through. It even tastes great as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Totally scrumptious and full of all the so-called ‘superfoods’ – walnuts, spinach, quinoa.

It is such a fun, tasty, colourful salad that I even served it alongside the traditional Christmas roast fare at this in-law’s Christmas Day festivities. I managed to get almost all of the meat loving males of the family to add a serving to their plate, and some even went back for seconds.

Enjoy!


Christmas Cheer

Celeste Reviews Christmas Mallowpuffs

“Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine…”

It’s that time of the year – Christmas carols, the smell of pine trees, twinkling fairy lights, shopping, gift giving, beach holidays, and most importantly, getting together with friends and family for summer festivities.

Being a creative person, but not having too much time for kitchen creations at the moment, here’s a festive looking dessert plate that is relatively quick and easy to put together.

You will need:

  • A packet of Mallowpuffs (there are 10 in a packet)
  • White chocolate buttons (melted)
  • Jaffas
  • Spearmint Leaf lollies (or if like me and you can never find them, green jet planes chopped into ‘leave-like’ shapes)

Place a teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of a Mallowpuff. While the chocolate is still setting add a Jaffa and arrange the ‘leaves’. Keep chilled until you serve them. Kids (including the grown up ones) love these. Plus, they are very patriotic (very ‘Kiwi’).