I officially feel like a Mum. Now my oldest child is three and her friends are also turning three we have real children’s birthday parties to go to. Not the laid back gatherings we had when they turned one and two, but parties with invites, balloons, games, cake and… presents. The presents subject poses a potential problem for my consumer conscience that usually prefers to reuse, recycle and reduce where possible. But then I don’t want to leave my children feeling embarrassed because their parents are non-consumerist (is that even word?) and won’t buy presents for their friends.
A while ago I heard about the popular Canadian ‘toonie’ parties. Instead of bringing a present guests are asked to contribute a ‘toonie’ (a two dollar coin), and sometimes two toonies – one for the child and the other for a chosen charity (this is still cheaper than a gift). I suppose this is similar to ‘koha’ in New Zealand terms. The ‘toonies’ are collected by the child whose birthday it is and then they choose what they want to buy with it. Or they can put it towards something they are saving for. I like this idea as it gives the child a sense of responsibility for money. Rather than the numbing showering of gifts that sometimes are of no interest at all. My children are too young to have this responsibility yet but I hope to adopt something similar as they grow.
This weekend we went to Mika’s close friend’s third birthday party. The invite, like ours, requested no presents (though most people still want to give something). As we had received a book from them for Mika’s birthday I did feel like I would like to do something. And a book would have been my fall back choice, but this family has no shortage of books with one parent being a primary teacher and the other a librarian. I was sure I would choose a book that they 1. already owned, or 2. had already read. My creative brain begun tick… tick… ticking. It was too late to knit or sew something the day before the party. Yes naughty, I left it to the last-minute.
As I was watching my daughter enjoying playing with her puzzles and matching cards, I had an idea to make a puzzle. Initially I was stumped how to make curved lines but then dumped the curves all together and went for straight lines. Mika and I flicked through some magazines, finding The Natural Parent (a magazine I write for) had some lovely full-page photos. Knowing Hannah the publisher/ editor of TNP has similar thoughts about recycling as I do, I didn’t think she would mind me reusing the magazine to make a gift (once it has been well read of-course).
We found that lovely picture of a boy playing the guitar. I glued this onto a piece of cardboard (I always keep the cardboard backings from a note pad). Then used a Stanley knife and ruler to neaten it up. I measured the length and the sides and divided it by the number of puzzle blocks I wanted to cut out (12 in total). I marked it out then carefully cut the blocks out. Ten minutes later we had a puzzle, and I found this neat little box to keep it in (another hoarded ‘this will come in handy one day’ item). The gift went down a treat and we watched as he made his own picture, nothing like the original picture, but he was engaged lining up similar colours and shapes. Awesome, now I have to make one for Mika.
Now I did promise to share the recipe for the little cakes I made for our Homegrown Kitchen video. These are best eaten warm from the oven as they tend to dry out if they are not eaten fresh. This is likely due to the low sugar content which helps to keep things moist. As you may have noticed I like to nutrient-boost my sweet treats. Savory recipes too, but especially sweet things as they are so easily loaded with empty-nutrient ingredients such as white sugar and white flour. Here I have added ground nuts and eggs for protein, and kept the sugar content low.
75g butter, melted
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup white flour [I used buckwheat flour for gluten-free]
1/3 cup raw unrefined sugar
Zest of a whole lemon
3 eggs, separated
approx. 1/2 cup frozen berries (I used our homegrown blackberries)
Preheat the oven 180C. Line 6 large muffin holes with muffin cases.
Melt the butter and set aside. Combine the ground almonds, flour, sugar and zest in a bowl.
Whisk the egg whites till soft peaks. Mix the egg yolks and melted butter into the dry ingredients then gently fold through the egg whites. Spoon into cases so they are almost full. Top each mini-cake with 3 or 4 berries. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Best served warm. Make a batch for morning tea to share with friends.
*In case you missed the video of cooking these mini cakes with my children follow this link.
Harvesting: kale, silver beet, spinach, celery, carrots, leeks, last of the green beans, salad mix, herbs, coriander, parsley.
Tasks: The broccoli and other brassica plants are being eaten by caterpillars so I have been inspecting them daily and squashing the caterpillars on the leaves as a repellent. The numbers are declining. Spraying with weak soapy water (1 squirt of eco dish liquid in a 500ml spray bottle) seems to help to prevent the white butterflies laying eggs.
We have collected sacks of autumn leaves and mulched most of the garden beds and berry patch with leaves and cardboard/ paper where there is exposed ground. Plus sowed a lupin ‘green manure’ crop in the potato patch.