The Birthday Cake

Birthday cakes when you are young are very important and leave lasting impressions.  Antony’s most memorable cake was an elaborate train cake from the Women’s Weekly Cookbook for his 6th birthday.  (Note: Ant isn’t sure if he has fantasised getting this cake or if he actually got it! Pauline?)

What cake do you remember?

The birthday cake I find most memorable was a cake my older sister got for maybe her 16th birthday.  What was most memorable was not so much the cake itself, but that it was the first time (at least as I remember it) my mum deviated from ‘The Birthday Cake’.  Adding up our birthdays, my mum must have made the same cake 51 times!

The Birthday Cake is a white cake with a pale yellow (due to butter and an egg yolk) icing covering the whole cake.  It would then be decorated always with the same border, and our age written out in big numbers; and sometimes, if we were lucky, some flowers.  This decoration icing was always in our assigned colour – given to us at birth I think.  I always had blue, Amy had red, Spencer had green, and Prairie had yellow.  Usually the cake was served still in its baking tin.  My siblings and I could only dream of more than one colour, let alone an entire train.  I bet my brother remembers just as clearly as I do, drooling over the elaborate cakes in the books at Carvel (now  Carousel) ice-cream on Toorak Road.

So, what did my very lucky sister get for her 16th birthday? Well in a crazy culinary adventure, my mother put chocolate chips in Amy’s cake, and instead of icing she got cinnamon sugar!

Needless to say, The Birthday Cake has always been somewhat of a joke in my family.

Although it is still fun to tease my mother about The Birthday Cake, it is actually a very tasty cake, and according to me there is no cake more special.  I made one yesterday for our friend Fara.  Note, I spoiled him by taking it out of the tin, and using two colours!  He was clearly very happy. J

dress, New Look 6725

I’m still not quite ready to attempt another dress using my dressform and so I tried out another pattern.  I used New Look 6725 which I think is probably from the mid-nineties, but I can’t find any date on it.  It’s a very simple pattern with separate side panels, rather than front darts.  This is definitely the best dress pattern I’ve found for me.  I think it fits my body perfectly.  The material I used was from the curtain store and I’ve used it several times for little girls dresses, in fact the very first dress I made was from this material.   It doesn’t feel very me, but I like it.  Kind of funny, my best friend told me that I’d start wearing more colours than just black when I started making my own clothes.  She was so right!  I’m considering going and spending more than £1 per metre to get some fabric I really love and make this dress again; that’s how much I like this pattern!

shirt dress

I think he would disagree, but it seems Antony has a cycle of buying a shirt, wearing it for a while, and then deciding he doesn’t like it for a number of possible reasons.  He rarely wears a shirt to its death. (Note, I am talking about shirts, not T-shirts.  T-shirts he wears forever!  He still has and wears a Chicago tourist T-shirt that my mother gave him 15 years ago despite the many many holes and having not liked it in the first place.)

Usually after the shirts hang untouched for several months in the closet, we put them in the charity bins, but most recently, with my new sewing skills, I decided I could recycle the latest off cast.  So I made this cute little dress.  You can see from the pics how I cut up the shirt.  I just laid the front and back sections of a dress I like the shape of down on the shirt and drew their outline.  I sewed French seams up the sides, then sewed the purple bias tape around the sleeves.  Easy peasy and it took less than 2hours.  Now I’m wishing I still had some of the shirts Ant got rid of, as a couple were ace fabrics.

This dress is a size 3 which I think is about the ideal for conversion from Ant’s shirts (size L and XL).  The collar would probably be too big for a little girl, and the length of the shirt too short for a bigger one!

misses’ one-piece dress, Simplicity Designer Fashion 6633, 1966

After a third attempt using the dressform I got a bit frustrated with a big failure, and decided to make something using a pattern.  I chose Simplicity 6633 from 1966.  It’s very simple and cute.  The green material I found at the Salvation Army Op Shop in Collingwood.  I think it was probably someone’s table cloth as evident from some small wine stains which I was mostly able to cut around.  It’s made in Japan and is very soft (in a pre-loved sort of way).  The strong rounded collar is fab, and not like anything I’ve seen in shops.  I’m not a huge fan of the body of the dress because it is completely straight and a bit too tight on my hips. I think not the best design for my awesome womanly curves!

Cowley Road Carnival

A few weeks back I went to the Oxford Pride Parade and was very disappointed (you can read about it here.) I still think Oxford could learn from really any small town in the US about how to throw a parade, but the Cowley Road Carnival Parade was pretty good.  There was a marching band, dancers, floats, spectacle, costumes, and balloons being handed to kids.  Unlike the Pride Parade, there was also a good number of observers lining the street.

After watching the parade, we walked over to South Parks where the rest of the carnival was set up.  It seemed like a pretty big deal, so I’m not sure how this was the first year we have attended.  There were three stages: an acoustic stage, a local bands stage, and a large stage that had a kids talent competition while we were there – this was kind of awesome as there was a load of Michael Jackson tributes with little kids break dancing.  There were several other music producing areas including a DJ with a bubble blowing machine.  Across most of the park you could hear more than one of these stages which wasn’t great, but the sound when you actually went and stood in front of them was fine, so I guess it worked.

I always think these things are way more fun with kids and more than ever I was wishing I had one with me; a timid one to be precise!  Why?  Cause there was a totally awesome and massive slide, and the only adults going on it were those with children who were too scared to go down on their own.  In retrospect, I should have just nabbed one!  There was a rock climbing wall and several other fun activities also, but none as cool as the slide.

So parade, music, fun activities… that just leaves us with food.  There was a remarkable number of Jamaican food stands.  I really don’t know why this was as I’ve never thought of Oxford being a Jamaican hub; maybe it is.  I don’t think I’ve eaten very much Jamaican food, so I thought I should try something.  I noticed some pasty type things and so we got a couple– one chicken, one lamb.  Disappointing; we didn’t even finish them!  However, we went on to find proper doughnuts, making Ant a very happy man, yet still with room for a Mr Whippy.  Surprisingly, Ant resisted a bag of fairy-floss (‘cotton-candy’ ‘candy-floss’) – however, he did look longingly and drool a bit at it. We also had a pint of beer from a very cool biodegradable cup that looked like plastic.

One last comment.  On our way out we noticed people ‘picnicking’ at the entrance.  I understand they don’t want people bringing in their own alcohol, but a bunch of people drinking at the entrance seems kind of wrong for a family event – maybe setting up a ‘BYO beer garden’ a little distance away would have been better!

Over all, thumbs up to the Cowley Road Carnival!  Next year I’m taking the Pooley twins who will be almost 2 and we’re going down that slide!