Girly first birthday party

We’ve just had the first of three birthday parties I am organising in the next month, that of little Luciole who turned one last Monday. Yeah, I’m in for a treat  and I’ve barely started.

We had planned a picnic in the park and the weather had been glorious for many days leading up to today, and then the worst we could have expected happened: heavy showers and even thunder in the morning. I am so grateful to a good friend who offered us the use of her bigger house to host the party, otherwise it would have been a struggle. I may have had a mild panic when not a single sandwich had been made twenty minutes before people were due to arrive because of the change of venue and my dodgy organisation, but my dear guests kindly helped out and we had so much food that we are going to eat leftovers for the next three days! We had a great indoors picnic and the sun showed up just in time for the kids to have a go on the trampoline.

It’s not quite the Pinterest extravaganza that I had hoped for (in my dreams!) but it looked pretty good and tasted even better.

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I got totally carried away, so there might have been too much food…

I made a couple of savoury muffins. The chicken and sweetcorn, which I got out of a recipe book, turned out to be quite heavy and bland, but the veggie one was delicious. I found the recipe from Roar Sweetly via Pinterest and made it with carrot, courgette and cheddar cheese.

The strawberry cupcakes were the real highlight, all made from scratch with fresh ingredients and incredibly moreish from Sally’s Baking Addiction. If there is one cupcake recipe you need in your arsenal, it is this one. The strawberry whipped cream frosting alone is the best I’ve ever made.

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The birthday girl

3 Ways I Know Christmas is coming

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If you live in the UK, I suspect that like me, you knew Christmas was ’round the corner’ in August when Tesco started selling mince pies. I put these distressing news at the back of my mind so successfully that now, a mere three weeks before the actual event, I have only bought 2 presents and starting to inwardly tremble.

We all have our treasured routines, our seasonal pleasures, all these little signs along the way that tell us that something exciting is around the corner. And there are the specific things that shout Chriiiiiiistmaaasss! Here are a few of mine:

1. The Radio Times double issue magazine is out and omg is there going to be anything good on telly and then…

2. Dr Whoooooo! My goodness, but I love Dr Who and I cannot wait for the Christmas Special, it sounds like it could be a good one. I love science fiction and fantasy and Dr Who is always so. much. fun. So there, nerdom becomes me and I am not ashamed.

3. Something tasty this way comes: I bought a duck at the weekend, because there’s only the two of us (plus milk-fed baby) on Christmas Day and we’re having turkey on Boxing Day. On an even tastier note, I made chocolate chestnut purée cupcakes at the weekend for Little Girl’s dedication and let me tell you, they were amazing, and perfect if you can’t eat wheat as chestnuts are very starchy and make the perfect replacement for flour. Chestnut purée is so Christmassy. It speaks to me of winter, the warmth of fire and roasted chestnuts in the streets. If you’ve never tried it and you are lucky enough to live in France, you could have a lovely alternative Mousse de Marrons, which can be found in the yoghurt section of most supermarkets. Anyway, the cupcakes were basically chestnut purée, sugar, eggs and ground almonds and I stole the recipe from the BBC Good Food website from which a great deal of good things come. The topping itself I could eat on its own for breakfast.

In which it is painfully obvious I have zero photographic skills