I. Am. Obsessed.
Obsessed with flavoured alcohols.
At this rate my entire family (including the children) will be completely and utterly spangled by lunchtime of Christmas Day. (HEY! Sounds like a plan)
As my Werther’s Original Vodka winged their way to family members I realised that I was now a couple of gift bottles short – Catastrophe!
The Christmas Pudding Rum lurks maelvolently in the back of the cupboard, refusing to taste like anything other than rum.
And so, I decided to try the top tip of speeding up the process of sweetie dissolution via Dishwasher. Oooh. Yeah, that’s right if you have a dishwasher and an airtight jar (Kilner preferably) you too can make some flavoured vodka in a matter of hours!
I decided after a quick twitter poll (@partyspanner) that Chocolate Lime Vodka would go down a TREAT.
Ah, Chocolate Limes – the sweet of elderly relatives and strange men who wanted to show you their puppies.
I bought a cheap bottle of vodka (750 ml) and two bags of chocolate Limes.
I got rid of some pointless aggression by smashing the living crap out of the sweets before adding them to the kilner jar. Quite the therapy I’m sure you’ll agree.
I added the vodka, and now for the genius part. I sealed the jar, gave it a good shake and added to the dishwasher load. I used the bottom rack to make sure the container stayed upright (which will be more than can be said for me come the party season).
Now, the top tip I had received didn’t specify whether the dishwasher cycle should include soap, but in these financially straitened times I decided to wash my dishes and include the vodka in the load – therefore needing to add a dishwasher tablet. You will need to use your hottest wash cycle – and to be honest it seems not only to make more sense financially to add the jar of alcohol to a full load; but also *earnest face* for the planet, yeah? *wafts patchouli*
I must admit to being a little bit concerned as the dishwasher clanked and bubbled away.
There was no need. Once the cycle had completed I had lovely clean dishes and this:
DON’T make the mistake I made of having a sniff while the liquid is still hot – the fumes will make your eyes water and your BRANE GO RONG.
See that large amount of chocolate limey sediment in the bottom? Do Not Worry.
All you need to do is keep shaking the jar every hour – or half an hour if you can – and the heat of the vodka will continue to melt the sweets and dissolve all the sediment away.
After the first hour:
Second Hour after leaving Dishwasher:
Three and a half hours:
And after four hours I was ready to filter the stuff.
My record of filtering flavoured alcohol is…sporadic to say the least ..but this one really needed a jolly good filtering. My poor old brain finally worked out that if I emptied the liquid from the jar into a large measuring jar and then placed the funnel and coffee filter paper into the now empty Kilner Jar, I can pour the unfiltered stuff through the funnel and just walk away and do something else until it is finished.
It took about 40 minutes to filter the whole batch but it left me with a clear mix which goes down smoothly. Oh yes.
I bottled up:
And now have three bottles (and a small jam jar – don’t ask) of gorgeously chocolatey, evocatively flavoured vodka to give as gifts (and add to my Christmas Day Liquour Tour)
I utterly adore that little seam of chocolate at the top of the bottles and am delighted with the result.
So – if you’ve wanted to take a stab at making some flavoured alcohol, but have either refused to take my previous advice, or haven’t had time, or are stumbling onto my blog for my first time – be of good cheer! You too can have some sickly sweet vodka in just a few hours by following this advice!
Good luck and please let me know of any flavour combinations you come up with.
It’s Sunday and so it’s the day for getting back to my wonderful Hummingbird book.
I decided to have a go at making a Custard and Cinnamon tart. I’m not sure why, as my record for making custard currently stands at : Custard – 5, Partyspanner – 0… and I can’t even remember the last time I made pastry.
It was certainly a challenge.
First to make the pastry base. The recipe calls for softened unsalted butter, which..isn’t that just wrong? I thought pastry needed to be kept very cold and that the butter should be positively icy before it is added to the flour, so I was slightly sceptical.
Apart from the soft butter, the usual principles of pastry making were applied. ie mixing the flour and butter to a breadcrumb texture before adding the sugar and an egg to make a dough. The ball of pastry is then lightly kneaded before going into the fridge to rest (yeah, I bet it’s knackered) before being rolled out onto a lightly floured surface.
So, I rolled the dough, GENTLY, to a thickness of 1/4 of an inch and wider than the tart tin and then tried to lift if off. It stuck. It stuck tight. So I scraped it all back up into a ball again, floured the surface again and started rolling again. I turned the pastry and flipped it regularly to stop it sticking and then folded an end around the rolling pin before transferring to the tart tin.
So. I scraped it all back up again – all the while knowing that I’ve basically blown it. Pastry is like me with PMT – it requires the minimum of touching, likes to be cold and completely falls to pieces if it feels “got at”.
I finally managed to get the bloody stuff rolled and into the tin, all the while knowing that I’m fighting a losing a battle, and I’ve still got the custard to make (along with a full roast dinner for the company who are arriving to dine with us)
The pastry case now heads into the fridge for another rest (seriously, pastry is the laziest of all food stuffs) before being blind baked – which basically means that the tin is lined with baking paper and filled with baking beans before going into the oven for 12 minutes.
After the blind bake, the paper and beads are removed and the case is baked for a further 15 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked through and golden.
I have pastry left over and so what do all good cooks make with left over pastry?
The jam tarts join the pastry case in the oven and are baked for a good 20 minutes, or until the pastry has browned and the jam is bubbling slightly.
Now onto the custard. *shudder*
I adore home made custard, but for some reason I can never get it right. The custard splits, or just refuses to thicken and so I was nervous.
I heated some whole milk and vanilla essence to boiling point while making a custard paste using egg yolks, flour, sugar and salt (eh?)
Then add a small amount of the hot milk to form a liquid and add the custard liquid to the milk and vanilla
And then the whole lot is heated gently while stirring continuously, until it thickens and is not lumpy.
Yes, well I stirred it madly, and heated it gently and it was lumpy and horrible and awful and terrible.
I carried on, BRAVELY, and whipped the egg whites (seperated from the yolks earlier) into soft peaks and it a fit of pique (see what I did there?) I used the cookbook itself as a heat defuser as I folded a small amount of the beaten egg whites into the lumpen custard mess.
I transferred the
bloody mess mixture into the rest of the egg whites and folded both together weeping.
The photos dry up a bit here as I was feeling completely disconsolate – but I poured the final mix into the cooled pastry case and refrigerated.
Ugh. Lumpy and weirdly…wobbly, I really thought I had a complete disaster on my hands.
In Jam Tart News, they had baked and cooled and were looking – well, like jam tarts should.
I then got on with the rest of the meal and had a lovely evening…all the while, in the back of my head the Custard Tart tickled and called “I’m an embarrassment. Lumpen and mishapen. You didn’t buy a back up dessert you IDIOT!”
Filled with trepidation I took the tart out of the fridge and in a stunning piece of recipe bastardisation, I grated nutmeg over the top instead of cinnamon. It just felt…right.
BUT! something miraculous (or probably chemical/scientific) had happened to the tart as it rested and chilled in the fridge. The lumps disappeared. As I cut a slice, the filling had a mousse-like quality and although the pastry was tougher than it should have been it was cooked through and NOT A COMPLETE ABORTION.
Amazingly, everyone loved it. To be fair this was after a couple of glasses of wine, but even the non drinkers seemed to really enjoy it.
Ah Hummingbird..you frightened me with your complicated recipe, but I see, once again that you truly are the King of all my cookery books.
I love my blog, and I love blogging.
I like the thought that I’m writing down some stuff that I can look back on when I’m older,smile wryly, and think “Oh, I used to make such an effort!”.
I’m also looking forward to the emotional blackmail I can send via text to the boys when they’re married and haven’t spoken to me for a fortnight. I can picture it now:
ME TEXT: “Hello! How are you? I called a couple of times and left a few voicemail messages, which you are yet to return! lol [they will totally know this is sarcastic as the lower case lol is an anathema to me]. I was thinking about all the sacrifices I made when you were just MY little boy *inserts link to Willy Wonka Post* and wondering if you couldn’t take five minutes to call your MOTHER. xx love you xx”
Seriously? It’s the only reason I do this shit.
Although, that’s not strictly true. I do enjoy the fact that other people read my nonsense and some even seem to enjoy it – the weirdo’s.
Even better than that though are the poor hapless souls who google something (Other search engines are available – hopeless, but available) and land on my blog.
Quite often these searches will be something completely unrelated to the information to my posts, and I like to picture these poor googler’s faces as they arrive here, look around guiltily and click away, continuing their quest for:
Oh dear. poor old regret+hen+night+snog. I hope she found the site that could help her…or him..or whatever.
The majority of searches are perfectly normal and understandable:
“what does a rotten coconut look like?”
“ice cream cupcakes”
all link nicely to a post that the searcher might find helpful.
“wanna smoke? alpaca bowl”
however, is a consistent – and I’m sure disappointing to the searcher – entry. I thought it was probably about drugs. Although on a little google search of my own I found that it’s an internet meme. Still, I’m sure that every person who lands on my I’m famous on the internet post from this search is nonplussed (I still think there’s some sort of drug reference in there I’m not getting)
This week I’ve had 4 searches land for:
“smallest twat i have ever seen”
3 searches for:
“food smearing cakesporn”
and 2 searches for
“Halloween Pumpkin Fucking”
which both jibe uncomfortably with:
“letting god out of the box”
It’s all so random, and so from ”jumping into the sea in our school uniform” and “llama standing on a chicken with glasses and a straw hat” I would like to move swiftly on to my favourite Search Engine Term EVER (and I’m not lying – this is an actual hit on this site)
“a friend was getting pissed off with the guy who was throwing a party, so when everything calmed down, and most people were gone or asleep, he got the butter. he microwaved the butter. then poured the melted butter into a bowl. then shat in the butter carton. then poured in the melted butter, and let it set in the fridge. then left.”
SO MANY THINGS WRONG. But baby, SO MANY THINGS RIGHT.
Scene: A common or garden Garden in the suburbs of South East London. A quince tree is laden with fruit.
Partyspanner: “This is going to be the year that I actually make something with this fruit”
Tom: “What fruit?”
Partyspanner: “This quince”
Montage of images of Partyspanner going to work, arguing at a petrol station, frowning at some paperwork and then laughing uproariously with a work colleague.
Exterior – Garden. Quince tree is completely bare of fruit.
Partyspanner looks bewildered and then starts burrowing through the oriental grasses under the tree to find the fruits, swearing as she gets more cuts on her inner arms than an emo.
Close up of harvested Quince
Partyspanner: “I’m going to make some chutney!”
Partyspanner is crying as she peels and attempts to core a fruit which is, literally, made out of rock. The viewer can feel her frustration as she tries, and fails, repeatedly to get some kind of flesh from the fruit.
Partyspanner: “SOD THIS!” (said angrily)
“I’m going to boil the crap out of this thing and then push it through a sieve, there’s no way I can peel and core this amount of quince without triggering arthritis”
Partyspanner watches TV like a dullard, slack jawed.
Voiceover by partyspanner: “I wonder why no one on the internet, or anywhere in my myriad of cookery books, hasn’t thought of boiling the flesh off the fruit before – they must all be idiots! I think I’ve invented a thing! I am a genius”
It becomes clear that the reason no one boils the fruit is because the flesh just turns to mush and leaves the peel and the core.
Partyspanner shakes her head and gets to peeling the remainder of the quince fruit.
MUSIC: “You’re My Favourite Waste of Time”
Partyspanner is visiably sweating, but has managed to peel the quince and has a bowl full of grated fruit and a bowl of peelings and cores.
Partyspanner: “FUCKING QUINCE!”
Partyspanner is peeling apples – the first experiment in boiling the quinces has resulted in serious lack of fruit for the chutney – apples will make up the difference.
Close up of apples:
Interior: Kitchen. An array of ingredients, peelings and spices:
Partyspanner: “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING HERE!”
Oliver: “What time are we setting off the fireworks?”
Partyspanner: “I AM BUSY!”
Oliver: “Yeah, when are we going to do the fireworks though?”
Partyspanner: “WAIT! hang on, let me just…wait…I”M BUSY!”
Oliver: “Can I have a sparkler now?”
Partyspanner: “I’m going to roast the spices first. I’m using turmeric, garlic salt, juniper berries, mustard seeds, ground cumin and half a chilli – starting with the mustard seeds in a little oil “
Partyspanner then adds the chopped onion and ensures that all the ingredients are incorporated
Partyspanner then adds the fruit – both apples and grated quince and shakes over some black onion seeds.
400g sugar and 500 ml of cider vinegar and a teaspoon of of salt is added to the mix, and the chutney is left to simmer for hours…
MEANWHILE – Partyspanner has discovered that a big bag of marshmallow has gone missing (SUBPLOT)
After 2 seconds of interrogation, Oliver admits that he ate the marshmallows.
FAST FORWARD 3 HOURS
Interior – Kitchen. Everyone is coughing and eyes watering from the vinegar vapours
Partyspanner: “The way to tell that chutney is ready is when you can run a wooden spoon through the mix and leave a trail that isn’t immediately filled”
Tom: “MAN ALIVE! The house smells like FEET!”
Oliver: “Mum? What’s for dinner? It smells AWFUL!”
Partyspanner “Leave me alone”
Partyspanner: “Time to bottle up”
Partyspanner spoons the chutney into the jars – getting rid of any air bubbles and placing a piece of waxed paper on the top of each jar.
The jars cool
And are then topped by a cellophane wrapper and lid
This Chutney needs to mature for a couple of months…To Be Continued.
Despite all my frownings and pronouncements to the contrary, I have decided to get into the spirit (see what I did there?) of Halloween and we have a small party planned for TOMORROW.
I’m like Ebenezer Scrooge on Halloween, and I have been visited by the ghost of Halloween Past.
As I wrangled the boxes from the loft, one of the lids came free and my “spells” book fell out
The Past showed me this book that I made, back when the children were very small (I think this dates from 2005) and needed some kind of instruction on party throwing. I remember making this book using a few sheets of black tissue paper, a blank book with lined paper and plenty of sloppy glue. I scrunched the paper up, and layered it onto the book and 6 years later it’s still here.
So the book fell open on the loft ladder at this page and reminded of me of my lovely plan to read various rhymes before playing each game. I was to be the Head Witch and would read the games out in rhyme (like some sort of FOOL) and the small children would obey me…
LOOK! I put little time reminder’s in the corner of the pages…how sweet and naive I was back then. *sigh*. Of course I faltered when actually confronted by a group of 5 year olds and although I followed the top tip of dusting a tiny amount of flour on the first sheet of paper and blowing (which makes a brilliant cloud of “dust”) before I started reading, I soon found myself flicking through the book in search of something ever more exciting as the children demolished the table of food and ran a circuit of madness from the front room/kitchen/hall.
Even so, the book reminded me of the effort I have always made for Halloween and shamed me.
AND WE’RE BACK!
So first up. Pumpkin Carving. I got two fab shaped examples. One squat, one long, and part one of tonight’s plan is to carve them:
So first you cut a lid, simple enough. Use a sharp large knife, and I use the same large knife to make an initial cut into the fibrous centre of the squash and to ease the removal of the crappy/seedy innards. I have bothered, in the past, to remove the seeds and toast them – Total. Waste. Of. Time. They just irritated me. Don’t bother.
So, then I scrape the insides with a big metal spoon (serving size if you want to be precise). Oliver got involved and took charge of the smaller, squatter pumpkin. He ended up wearing rubber gloves (THE MASSIVE GIRL) as the scrape and pull method was just not working for him. I’d recommend not being too squeamish and getting right in there.
So once we’d scraped and scraped we could start carving. I decided that the long pumpkin should be inverted to make a more realistic “head” shape. Oliver decided to draw his design in Permanent Marker pen. We’re both idiots.
Ah, but you see, Jack ‘O Lanterns are most effective once lit, and so it was time for our traditional “turn all the lights off, light the pumpkins” moment.
Sod it. Let’s move onto the cakes…
Oh! so I want to make cupcakes with an oreo biscuit in the bottom and I am deeply impressed by these owl cupcakes which also uses Oreo Cookies. SCORE! I can get them in Poundland.
I line a deep muffin tray with
crappy Halloween cases and add half an oreo to each case.
I make a basic chocolate cake batter and then *DUN DEEE DAH!!!!*
I see a cosmic sign. A symbol of the Goddess. A sign of something strong and feminine shining at me from my mixing bowl. Some see Dead People, some see Jesus in a piece of toast, some see Mary in a Tortilla…
I see boobs in batter. Moving on.
So I add the Booby Batter to the cases and bake
And as they bake I make a second batch of smaller cakes – fairy ones. OH YES FAIRY CAKES ARE BACK!
I still had a small amount of batter left, so I crushed up the tops of the Oreo cookies I had left over and added them to the mixture before filling a remaining three cases and baking
I now have many cakes. MANY MANY CAKES. All of which require icing and decorating.
I’ll be back…
My favourite party of the year approaches.
I have three boxes worth of hallowe’en
junk decorations and they are brought down from the shed every year with the same reverence as our Christmas Decorations. Hallowe’en has become a traditional party at our home since Tom first started school.
I haven’t started planning this year’s bash yet, but thought I might write a post on the parties gone by and hopefully kick start some ideas for this year.
So let’s start with the Invitations.
In 2008 we made invitations which appeared to be an old letter written 100 years ago. Our address was printed in the top left hand corner of the page – and the invitation was written as a plea from me for help for my son, Oliver. It read:
Date – 1st November 1908
I write to you to ask for your help. My son, Oliver, has been acting strangely since his birthday in August. He cannot sleep, he hates garlic, he is very pale and his teeth have become very pointed.
I fear that since his eighth birthday he has become…A VAMPIRE! I am sure that he will roam for the next one hundred years, and ask that you answer this call from the past to save him!
I ask you to come to my home to help us.
The Date – 1st November 2008
Time – 5 O’clock to 7 O’Clock
Please wear fancy dress, this may prevent Oliver from sucking your blood!
I humbly ask you to tell me if you can attend either by:
Telegram – mobile number
Telephone – landline
or by tearing off the bottom of this letter and returning by carrier pigeon.
I beg you for your help
Lady Party Spanner (Scared)
Tear off strip
I _________________ will be able to come to save Oliver from a fate worse than death
We soaked the invitations in cold coffee (should have been tea)
And then, I made the boys use a hairdryer to dry the invitations. HA HA HA! I have no idea what the hell was running through my head at this point. Why I didn’t just leave them hanging around until they just dried out, I do not know.
We were then left with some beautiful, if slightly caffeine-y ,old letters
When they were dry *snort*, I rolled the letters into scrolls and sealed them with red sealing wax.
In 2009, I produced a newspaper page as an invitation.
The title was The Daily Spook and the page was set up as Classified Advertisements. Like this:
GHOST INVESTIGATORS WANTED
We are being haunted by a very naughty spirit. It leaves lights on in rooms, it leaves taps running in the bathroom, I find dirty clothes in piles on the landing floor.
PLEASE HELP ME! If you think you can get to the bottom of our haunting please come to <address> on <date> at<time> Please wear fancy dress, this might scare the ghost into behaving itself! Please reply via text <mobile> or direct to the Daily Spook offices <landline> They will pass your messages onto us. All ghostbusters to be collected at <time> by which time I sincerely hope the house will be clean and tidy and free of ghosts.
I filled the rest of the page up with silly adverts such as:
1 vacuum cleaner. The salesman told me I could fly through the cleaning, but the cord was too short. I’m going back to the broomstick.
Reply to: Ms W. Itch
Professional and experienced skeleton has vacancies for music lessons in trom-BONE
Reply to PO Box B0N35
And arranged (by amazing use of the tab key and quite a lot of swearing, backspacing and general pissiness) until I had a page that looked like a section of adverts.
Yes, yes, they may be old jokes, but only to old ears.
Last year we sent out invitations in text speak. Green letters on a black background which warned party comers of an evil computer that had imprisoned us in a Matrix type web.
I had an amazing response via text – lots of parents got right into the swing of the invite and responded in text speak and…
So this year…Well, I’m catering for 14 year olds and 11/12 year olds. I think I can let the cute stuff pass us by now and get into the real ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE stuff. Or maybe the SERIAL KILLER WITH SCARY KENWOOD CHEF DEVICES.
Or maybe I’ll just point them towards the huge and depressing debts they’ll rack up at university?
(little bit of politics)
There’s a reason that the acronym for the Out Of Office Assistant is OOOA.
Apart from the fact that it is just a fact
OOOA is the noise I make whenever I write a “professional” little note on my email such as “Party Spanner is currently out of the office on annual leave. Please contact the office on 01234 5678910 with any urgent queries. Kind Regards”
I usually sing a bit as I’m doing it as well. Usually to this tune:
I usually change the words to “OOh AAH, Office Assistant, OOH AAH take my emails, OOH AHH, Cos I’m not going to be here, YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SEARCHING FOR!”
This is why I don’t have a proper job doing Important Stuff.
I had a coconut left over from the Totally Tropical Beach Party.
I decided it would be a crying shame to let it go to waste and so off I went to google to find a recipe that used fresh coconut.
I stumbled upon this:http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/fresh-coconut-cake-with-a-lemon-cream-cheese-filling-and-boiled-icing-recipe/index.html and my saliva glands went into overdrive. I was frothing (and if you’ll read on you’ll see that frothing at the mouth is somewhat of a theme while making this mission of a cake)
So the morning dawned. It was a Sunday, but a special Sunday – It was a bank holiday which means that Sunday is actually Saturday and Saturday is like a Friday, but a Friday that you’ve booked off work.
I cracked open the coconut.
It was rotten to the core.
That cake though, that sweet, sweet cake had burrowed it’s way into my brain and I was determined to make it. A rotten coconut was not going to beat me. Oh No.
So I went shopping and got some desiccated coconut.
This recipe is HARDCORE. It requires 3 layers of cake. This is a challenge for me as I only own two 8 inch tins, I do have a third tin which just about fits the bill but I was a bit nervous about not using matching tins. Honestly, my naivety at this point is, with hindsight, touching.
I preheated the oven (my oven needs to start at gas mark seven in order to ignite) and got on with creaming the butter and sugar together
I continued on with the recipe. Adding flour, oil and buttercream to the mix
I then whipped the egg whites into stiff peaks before folding them into the batter (I’m starting to feel slightly pissed off by this point, this is the sort of recipe which requires the use of every single bowl and spoon in the kitchen)
I folded the egg whites into the batter and poured the mixture into the pre-prepared cake tins. Into the oven they go..
I forgot to turn down the heat.
I’M COOKING THESE BABIES AT TWICE THE HEAT THEY SHOULD BE AT.
I didn’t even notice, I was so busy getting on with the next level of madness (the lemon and creamcheese filling) that it was only after about 10 minutes and a really STRONG smell of cake
burning cooking that I realised my mistake.
This could have been a very different blog if I had waited even 3 minutes more, but with a quick application of tin foil and a swift reduction of the heat, I managed to salvage the situation. (I might have also said the word FUCKING FUCKKK about 17 times.)
I move onto the lemon filling. This goes without incident, and is butter, creamcheese, lemon zest and lemon juice whipped together.
The cakes are cooling and before I can spread the filling, I have to make the icing.
At this point I realise that I have to make a sugar syrup which is meant to then be whipped into stiffened egg whites. Brilliant. This recipe might as well ask me to conjure a a robot army out of the dirt in my back garden, FOR FUCK’S SAKE. This is also the moment that I realise that NOT reading recipes before embarking upon them can turn me into a snarling, slathering BitchBeast.
After I had cleared up the unbelievably quick-cooling-dries-to-a-crack-glaze-all-over-the-hob sugar syrup and poured it, with fear in my heart, into the whipped egg whites I got on with filling and icing the cake.
This cake weighs in at an impressive 955 calories per tenth of an 8 inch diameter cake.
Oh. My. Hips.
And it tasted like eating a coconut and lemon cloud of diabetes coma, ie: delicious.
What can we learn from this post? READ THE RECIPE, you idiot, and if it sounds too much like hard work, it probably is. (but this was totally worth it)
As I write this blog, I am gazing about like a blinking owl. My left leg hurts and Oliver is still in bed (at two O’clock in the afternoon). The kitchen still looks like a hurricane of food has blown through it and the back garden…the less I say about that the better. I think we can safely say that the party was a ROARING SUCCESS.
I woke up horrifically early yesterday morning with a jolt. The night before had been spent cooking batches of cupcakes and I had completely forgotten to wrap Olly’s presents and so, I started the day in a frenzied search for some sellotape (which by the way, should be featured in Harry Potter books as an example of an amazing disappearing substance. It doesn’t matter how much of it I buy, I can never bloody find ANY OF IT when I need to) which I couldn’t locate and so ended up wrapping his gifts which craft glue. A great start to the day, I’m sure you agree.
The morning was spent icing cupcakes and cornets filled with sweets and decorating the shed/playhouse.
As I had decided that the food was going to comprise of burgers, hotdogs and sausages in buns the food preparation was at a minimum. This left me time to decorate the front garden and to force Tom into blowing up an inflatable banana the size of a lilo.
Time then warped and suddenly people were arriving. Family members dropped by to give cards and presents to the birthday boy in advance of the party, the entertainer arrived and then the guests started flooding in. I realised that I had no idea how many people were going to descend as I hadn’t received many RSVPs (Quick note here – please respond to invitations, it makes life so much easier for the person throwing the party) and was greatly relived that more than 3 children turned up.
The entertainer was just…brilliant. 11 is a difficult age. The disparity between the more knowing and mature girls, and the boys (who spent at least half an hour wrestling and throwing plums from the tree at each other) who are in the main, still children, means that there is awkward balance to strike. Michelle (for that was her name) managed this beautifully and the kids all got really involved in the karaoke and competitions.
So while the kids were doing the limbo, screeching Justin Bieber songs and
throwing plums at each other generally having a good time, I got on with the food.
Deciding on providing hot food was just plain stupid. Why I thought that this would lessen the load on the day is now, with hindsight, completely beyond me. Am I actually mental?
The entertainer had to leave (BOO!) and there was still an hour to go before the party ended.
There was only one option left open to me…
This worked really well until they escaped and run amok with water pistols
This was actually my favourite part of the whole day. To see these kids – some of whom have been coming to our parties since they were 5 – running and laughing and being children again was just…amazing and surprisingly touching.
And so, the time for it all to end was upon us.
Oliver blew out his candles…
The children left, each and every one thanking me for a good time.
Po emerged from his hiding place…
And I put my feet up, drank a glass or two of wine and fell into my bed in a messy mess.
This morning, Olly got a text from one of his friends that simply said:
“Your [sic] party was epic”