31.1.11

JAPANESE PARTY {the activities}

I like the idea of walking into a party and having something to get involved in right away, so I often have a number of different activities going on and the kids can do the rounds. It does involve having other adults to help you. These are the activities we had at Goose's Japanese party.

CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE PICTURES
I painted a branch and photocopied it onto pieces of card. We provided some geisha girl stickers, some cherry blossom shaped cutouts (punched out using our origami scraps & some Japanese writing) and some leaf shaped stamps & Japanese symbol stamps (that I already had in my stash) along with some red ink and some pink tissue paper to scrunch up and make their own cherry blossom tree picture. This idea was borrowed from here.

ORIGAMI PAPER FOLDING
We had an origami paper folding table set up with origami paper and printed a few simple origami animal shapes from here and stuck them on the wall with one of each that Goose had already made up. This is the first activity most kids headed for. You can see the table in the background of the photo below.

PAPER FAN DECORATING
I found some blank paper fans at Riot Art and the kids decorated them with textas. Thanks Anna for the idea!

GIANT MIKADO (AKA 'PICK UP STICKS')
If you've never played this game, see here for more details. This was my Mum's set that she has had for years, but I have seen them for sale at Australian Geographic.

FUKUWARAI
Translated "Lucky Laugh" in English and traditionally played around New Year in Japan. Just like Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, players are blindfolded & must try to stick the eyes, nose, mouth & cheeks in the correct places on the face. Thanks to my sister Clare for drawing the face!
You can find more information on the game of Fukuwarai here and some free Fukuwarai printables here.

We also did pass the parcel on the birthday girls request, which we played to the music of the 80's classic 'Turning Japanese' by The Vapors and had a Guess How Many Japanese Lollies in the Jar competition.


P.S. Some other activities that I liked, but we didn't end up doing are :
- writing your name in Japanese. You can type your name into this website and it tells you your name in Japanese.
- Get the kids to race each other using chopsticks to pick up cheerios or lollies and transfer them from one bowl to another.

29.1.11

JAPANESE PARTY {the food}

On Wednesday we celebrated Goose's 7th birthday in Japanese Style!

Please indulge, once again as I share too many details. I just know that when I am roaming the web for inspiration for my parties, I like as many details as possible. My name is Emma and I am addicted to kids parties.

Once again, I will break it into a few different posts.
Here are some quick snaps of the food. It was fun to branch out from our usual party fare and try some different things. I was a little nervous the kids wouldn't eat much of it, but most of it disappeared. Thankfully not all of it though as I always like to make a little extra so that we can have leftovers for dinner that night!

SAVOURY FOOD:
Sushi platter - made by Mr FGB
Delicious rice paper rolls - made by Granny
Sushi sandwiches - made by Lou - how to make your own here.
Rice crackers & dip
Mini spring rolls
Mini dim sims
Japanese coconut peanuts
Assorted Japanese rice snacks
Party pies with Australian flags on toothpicks - it was Australia Day after all!
Melon cherry blossoms
- ie.watermelon, honeydew melon & rockmelon cut in flower shapes with cookie cutter.

SWEET FOOD:
Birthday Cake - Cupcakes with Paper Cranes - tutorial here.
Watermelon & blueberries on Ceramic Asian Spoons
Japanese Dried Plums
Pokky's*
Fortune Cookies**
Cherry Blossom biscuits
- using the favorite shortbread recipe of course.

Just because she is cute.

- The little flags on the toothpicks said Happy Birthday in Japanese and were free printables from here.
* Deliciously morish chocolate dipped biscuit sticks that can be purchased at Asian supermarkets or sushi bars.
** Purchased at Asian or regular Supermarket. I've seen these dipped in melted chocolate & covered in sprinkles and they look very cute. These were the most popular with the kids.


28.1.11

IN THE GARDEN...

One of the things that sold me this house is the fruit trees in the back yard.

We have finally been able to pick the much anticipated blood plums that have almost broken the branches they are so heavily laden with fruit. We had a blood plum tree in our yard when I was growing up and I have fond memories.

It's moments like these that I breathe in deeply. Backyard in the summer eating your very own fruit - priceless.

I thought the kids would find the skin a little bitter, so I peeled the first one and they didn't like it - I think they may have got stuck on the word 'blood' - but then after they tried one with the skin on, they wouldn't stop. Go figure.

I'm sure Frog consumed about 6 or 7 in the space of about 10 minutes.

Our nectarine tree, on the other hand, that last year was our most fruitful, is pretty dismal this year. Most of them have rotted and shrivelled on the tree. Any ideas anyone? Too much water?

Our peach tree, as per usual, has very little fruit and the cockatoos, bats, possums and rosellas have made mince meat of it anyway. We might get one or two if we are lucky when they ripen fully. Must get around to getting some netting...maybe next year...

For more grateful moments head over to Maxabella land.


Addition - Just to keep this blog 'real' and to let you know that life is not always so 'peachy' (pardon the pun) here ar FGB headquarters - literally ten minutes after publishing this touchy feely little post, Frog emptied the entire contents of her stomach all over herself and the bedsheets. She has kept this up approximately every 10 minutes since then. I am now sitting up with her (and a pile of towels) on my lap feeling not so grateful for those fruit trees after all and wishing we hadn't made her eat her whole dinner so she could get icecream....

27.1.11

MY CREATIVE SPACE...in Japanese style!


My creative medium of choice would most definitely have to be paper. I feel much more confident with paper than I do with fabric or food or any other type of creative endeavour. I have a new paper crush on Japanese origami paper. In preparation for Goose's Japanese themed birthday party, Goose & I have been playing around with paper...

I always like the idea of making water a more enticing option at parties so Goose and I peeled off the original labels, googled the Japanese symbol for water and used a free Japanese style font from here to type 'Water' (for those who don't actually read Japanese). Then we stuck them on some of our favorite origami paper with a glue stick and we had some very cool looking water bottles, if I do say so myself!

We also had some fun making our very own cocktail umbrellas with origami paper also. Follow the tutorial here if you'd like to make some of your own. We drank it in little shot glasses - meant to be representing somewhat the little teacups used in Japan - containing some peach tea granita.

To make your own granita there is a tutorial here, but we just made up some Bickford's Peach Tea cordial and poured it into a metal slice tin, popped it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then scraped it with a fork roughly every hour after that until it became a granita type consistency. To drink/eat, we poured (using a Japanese teapot of course) some soda water on top of the granita for a fun refreshment at the party! A sprig of mint from the garden doesn't go astray either.

Continuing on our paper theme Goose continued to make literally hundreds of paper cranes, her obsession knows no bounds...

Being summer and all, it was the wrong season for some real blossom branches, so we used some scrunched up pink tissue paper to make our very own cherry blossom tree.

As I am more than a little party obsessed and because my party posts are the most popular on this little blog of mine with people searching for ideas for their own parties (just as I do myself!), I'll be breaking the party up into many different posts with as much detail as possible, so stay tuned for quite a bit more Japanese inspired creativeness over the coming week!



P.S. While on the topic of Japanese, paper and parties, you'll find some great Japanese style printables - some of which I used in the party - here, here, here and here.

24.1.11

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GOOSE

Seven years ago today this gorgeous little bundle arrived into our world. Things just haven't been the same around here since then!

We are so very proud of all that she is!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GOOSE

23.1.11

PONDERINGS


I've been pondering on the fragility of life lately, the resilience of the human spirit, the kindness of strangers and the bond of community in times of need
The floods have brought back memories and some of the feelings of vulnerability of two years ago when we were hit with another natural disaster of catastrophic proportions. Not flood, but fire. That time, my husband lost his father. We walked around in a daze for a long time.

The water is currently threatening many of the stomping grounds of my youth. As my cousin and his family, whose farm is now underwater, have been battling to save their house & livestock for the last few days, their little community, where I grew up, is coming to their aid.

I'm ever so grateful to those farmers who were our knights in shining armour last weekend. They gave up countless hours of their time with no hint of frustration, even when their own tractor and excavator got bogged. I'm even more grateful to my Dad whose 'rescue engineering' and serious generosity is more than I could ever repay. And to my Mum who, as always, was at home waiting to catch her very frazzled daughter.

There are people all over blogland doing their little bit to raise money for those who have lost so much and I know that the recipients are so grateful.

Life can change in an instant and these things don't always happen to people 'out there'.
Although times like this can cause me to feel a little fragile & vulnerable, I am in awe of the generosity of people, the strength of community and more than a little grateful for those who are there to catch me when I fall.


22.1.11

HOW TO SURVIVE A ROAD TRIP WITHOUT A DVD PLAYER


1. Don't stay up until well after midnight on the eve of departure because you can't really sleep for long with three young children in the car.

2. Check out this site for some great activities and ideas to keep young kids amused during long car trips (thanks for the tip Lou) & this if you need some extra ammo in your arsinal. It actually helped make it a surprisingly pleasant trip - despite my quite serious fears otherwise.

3. On your way home, after an exhausting week at the beach in the rain with 14 people in the one house and little sleep, do not under any circumstances drive your car out onto the edge of a salt lake, even if that salt lake is pink. Your trip home may take longer than the short 9 hours originally anticipated. After more than a few hours I found my self wishing for whinging kids in the back seat of a moving car.

4. Dream about having another holiday, you know the one that you need to get over the one that you just had...

7.1.11

A JAPANESE GOOSE

Goose learns Japanese at school and really loves it. This year she has decided on a Japanese theme for her 7th birthday party. This week we've been making paper fans that double as party invitations.* So much easier having a party at the end of the school holidays as party prep becomes the perfect holiday activity!

We are now beginning to fold a thousand origami paper cranes. Well....maybe not quite a thousand, but since reading 'Sadako & the thousand paper cranes' recently, Goose is keen...20 down, 980 to go! She even chose to continue making them after dinner tonight over her usual reading time - now that's a big call! Surprisingly, Mr FGB (as he will henceforth be known) has become a little addicted. He is sitting in front of the TV as I type, folding the little birds and is quite proud of himself - and rightly so!

If you are interested in joining our new craze, there are very simple instructions here. If you do visit the link, you'll also see what we plan to do with some of the cranes.

Stay tuned for more Japanese party prep over the coming weeks.


** The adorable little Japanese printables came from here.

4.1.11

A REFLECTION...

For me, the last year can probably be best described in one word - exhaustion.

I have found being a mother over the last 12 months particularly hard and at many times, overwhelming. I had many many days when putting one foot in front of the other was all that I could focus on and even that was a struggle at times.

Paradoxically, at the same time, I have found my family
particularly gorgeous and have felt more content and happy with my lot than I have ever felt in my life. Life is rarely black and white is it?
For a lot of the year I felt a little trapped in my role as a Mum and at many times felt that I was barely holding my head above water. I felt like a single Mum most of the time and found the constancy of motherhood on my own utterly exhausting.

More recently though, thanks to a few changes in our life, some wonderful support from my extended family and friends and some big changes this year with my husbands work, I've managed some 'me' time and I have been able to focus more on the contentment and joy within the chaos. Blogging has helped too (best form of therapy!).
I still have my moments of course (quite regularly in fact), but more often than not I feel like I can push through, hold my head high (way above the water that threatens to sink me) and enjoy the ride with this stunning family of mine.
It has been reinforced to me over and over again in the last year, mostly in the most ordinary of moments, how much I am just where I want to be. I have been so blessed in all the areas of my life that matter the most to me.

This year, I want to have more tea parties and smell more snails and focus less about the state of my house and feeling like I'm never organised enough because, although I'm far from perfect, I need to stop focusing on the lack of perfection and see that actually I'm doing a bloody good job!
Bring on 2011!

What does the year hold for you?



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