Friday, 21 April 2017

Easter 2017

I've been a little behind here on the the blog. With our Spring Break trip to Denmark followed directly by Easter and now party prep for Mathilde's upcoming third birthday party, I've found myself a little behind with, well... everything! Time to play catch up on the blog starting with a look back at our Easter Sunday.

This year I was pretty busy in the lead up to Easter and didn't get a chance to plan much in the way of fun craft activities or baking like I normally would. So there were no hot cross buns, no egg coloring and no fun decorations. But, we still had a fun day. Let's take a look...


The girls woke up early Easter Sunday morning and were keen to head to the living room as soon possible to see if the Easter Bunny had visited. They were a little worried at first when they didn't see a trail of sparkly footprints leading from out front door to the living room as usual, but once they turned the corner from the hallway they spotted why. This year it seems that the Easter Bunny came in through our living room window. Sparkly footprints leading from the living room window to the dining table, and then to the dining room window showed that the Easter Bunny took a short cut this year. Or that someone (ie. me!) fell asleep on the couch nursing Mathilde and forgot to leave the trail of footprints until 5am and was worried that the kids would catch her so made the shortest trail possible. Ha!


Friday, 7 April 2017

Macy's Flower Show 2017

Last week Mathilde and I took a trip into the city to visit Macy's for the annual Flower Show. The Macy's Flower Show is something I looked forward to seeing every Spring and this year's display did not disappoint - although there were a few scary clowns! Clowns, you ask? Well, every year the Flower Shows features a different theme and this year's theme is carnival, so the displays are filled with clowns, carousel horses, vintage arcade games and side show novelties. Let's take a look...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Museum of Children's Art, Oakland

The rainy weather is back in the Bay Area and that means that indoor play is on many parents' minds. There are so many great rainy day options here in the Bay Area, and today I'm sharing one of my favorites for fun arts and crafts.

On a recent rainy day off school the girls and I met up with friends for open studio time at MOCHA, the Museum of Children's Art, in Uptown Oakland. This was our first visit to MOCHA and judging by how much fun the kids had it definitely won't be our last!


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Avid4 Adventure Summer Camps

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Avid4 Adventure Summer Camps

It may not feel like it in much of the country right now, but Summer is right around the corner. That means it's time to get booking those Summer camps for the kids.

Last year Ava took part in a Summer camp for the first time. She loved it and is keen to try out more this year, as is Lola. They both love being outside, so this year I'm looking into adventure camps. We always spend a lot of time outside exploring over the Summer, but with a toddler in tow we're a little limited as to how adventurous we can get. For example, Ava and Lola would love to go kayaking or maybe even rock climbing, and as much as Mathilde would love to join in with these activities, it's just really not possible right now. This is where an outdoorsy Summer camp comes in handy. My big kids can do all the adventurous activities they've been longing to do without a toddler trying to join in!

One camp that I'm super excited about is Avid4 Adventure camps. With a focus on outdoor activities, and a camp right here in Oakland, it looks perfect for my girls.


Avid4 Adventure camps teach pre-K - 7th graders of all levels to climb, paddle, bike, hike and thrive in the outdoors. With help from a time-tested curriculum and insanely experienced instructors, Avid4 Adventure camps give campers solid skills and character-shaping confidence, launching them into a lifetime of empowering adventure. Doesn't that sound like a fun camp?

Avid4 Adventure day camp locations in California include Mill Valley, Palo Alto, Saratoga, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Campbell, Moraga and Walnut Creek.

Day camps will also be held in Colorado in Boulder, Golden, Highlands Ranch, Denver, Lafayette, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs (NEW in 2017!). Overnight camps in Bailey and Evergreen, Colorado.

To learn more and sign up visit www.avid4.com or call 800-977-9873





Saturday, 11 March 2017

On a Mural Hunt with Mathilde

San Francisco is home to some pretty amazing street art, especially in the Mission District and neighboring areas. From alleys lined with murals to random graffiti on buildings, the whole city is pretty colorful and ever evolving. 

Every time we visit the Mission District we like to go on a mural walk to check out the street art that has appeared since our last visit. Last week Mathilde and I were in the neighborhood so we kept our eyes out for new (or new to us) and favorite murals that were just screaming out for fun photos. We were in luck and found lots of places to stop and pose.


Here's a look at some of my favorites, most of which are from Clarion Alley in the Mission District (like the tiger mural above), and a few from 16th Street in Potrero Hill...

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Palm Springs Doors & Gardens

It was pretty grey and rainy here in the Bay Area this weekend, and the grey skies and cooler weather have hung around for the start of the week as well.

All this cooler weather has got me thinking back to my trip to Palm Springs at the beginning of February for the blogging conference Alt Summit. I've been meaning to share photos from my time spent in the little spot of color in the desert that is Palm Springs, so let's brighten up the day with a little mid-century modern goodness and some colorful doors.


If you're a fan of mid-century modern architecture and design like me, Palm Springs is a must see. While we were in town for Alt Summit, my friend Jessica and I knew we had to get out and see some of Palm Springs' most well known homes. So during a break in the afternoon, we hopped in the car with our map from saltycanary.com (which you can find at the bottom of this post) and spent an hour or so taking photos of homes that we'd love to live in .



Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

For Ava's recent birthday party she requested a completely different kind of birthday cake. I use the word "cake" loosely, because her cake wasn't actually a cake. Rather, it was thick, chewy chocolate chip cookies stacked on top of each other with layers of icing in between. A chocolate chip cookie cake! Doesn't it look delicious?



The theme of Ava's birthday party was Pokémon, so in keeping with the theme I made a few cake toppers featuring some of her favorite characters. I love how the cakes turned out. They look a little more grown up than the cakes I usually make, so they're perfect for a 10 year old, but the cake toppers tie them in with the party theme and add a little fun.


I originally got the idea for a chocolate chip cookie cake from Foodstirs, a kid friendly baking subscription box that I receive each month. Each month's box features a fun baking idea along with all the (non-fresh) ingredients required. A few months back our box featured a chocoloate chip cookie cake. We ended making it for Kim's birthday in December and it was such a hit with the kids that Ava decided then and there that she wanted the same thing for her birthday.

The chocolate chip cookie mix included in the Foodstirs box was absolutely delicious, but as I have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that I like to use, I decided to go with that and modify it a little for Ava's cake. Today I'll be sharing my recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake as well as templates for the cake toppers.


What you'll need:

For the cookies:
Set of 3 mini spring-form pans (You can find them here on Amazon)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)

For the icing:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sprinkles for decorating

This recipe made enough for 6 thick cookies (two cakes). I made three cakes all up so I made the recipe twice and we had one cake left over for home.

Preheat the oven to 325F (165C).

Grease the pans and put aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. If, like me, you don't own a sifter, you can easily sift the dry ingredients together with mesh colander and a wooden spoon or spatula (see photo further down). Set dry ingredients aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy.


Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. I don't own a sifter, so I used a fine mesh colander placed over the mixing bowl, and use a spatula or wooden spoon to "sift" the dry ingredients into the bowl.


Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.


Fill each mini pan 3/4 full with cookie mix. Use a spatula to press the mix into the pan and to smooth the top.


Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven or until a skewer poked into the center of the cookies comes out clean. Depending on the thickness of each cookie, the baking time may be a little longer.

Leave the cookies in the pans to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cookies cool, make the icing by mixing the icing sugar, butter, Greek yoghurt and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth.

Once the cookies have cooled it's time to assemble the cake (something I missed taking photos of as I prepared for the party). Based on personal preference, work out the order you would like to stack the cookies. I put the thicker cookies at the bottom and tried to use ones with smoother tops at the top. Apply a generous amount of icing between each layer of cookie. I found it easiest to apply the icing to the bottom of the middle and top cookies as the bottom is nice and flat. Once the stacked cookies are stuck together with icing, decorate the top with a generous layer of icing and sprinkles.


The cake looked pretty good as is, but in keeping with the Pokémon theme of Ava's party I added four small cake toppers featuring different Pokémon charcters. I made the cake toppers using my printer and Cricut machine. You can find the printable for the cake toppers here.

I used the "Print then Cut" option in the Cricut Design Space to make these cake toppers. You could always cut them out by hand if you don't have a Cricut machine. I find curved nail scissors handy for this sort of thing. Once the cake toppers were cut out, I attached a tooth pick to the back of each with tape and they were ready to put in the top of the cake.


 Ava and her friends love her chocolate chip cookie cake. It was a novelty because it was so different from the birthday cakes I usually make, but it also tasted fantastic!


Have you ever made a cookie cake before? Trust me, after you try this one you'll be making them for every party!
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