Monday, 22 October 2012

Roman's Picnic

We recently celebrated our son's first birthday with a picnic at Centennial Park with out family and friends. Although the weather was ominous that morning, the skies opened up and we were blessed with good weather. We had a lovely time... as hostess and mama I was a little busy between one thing and another and so I don't have as many pictures to share with you as I would like, but here are a few nonetheless.

This was our picnic spot for the day, Willow Pond at Centennial Park in the heart of Sydney. Ever since we moved to Sydney shortly after we were married, we always wanted to host a picnic at Centennial Park. It is truly one of the best things we love about Sydney. Did you know that you can book picnic sites at Centennial Park? It is such a good around this time of year when a lot of people are hosting picnics and getting a nice spot can be a bit of a hassle - unless you book of course! We chose the Willow Pond site at Centennial Park as it is relatively close to facilities, is shaded by a beautiful large tree, and has a gorgeous view over the pond. For more information about booking picnic sites at Centennial Park, click here.

I must admit, even thought this was 'just a first birthday party', I couldn't help but into get into the whole planning of it. It all started with this beautiful invitation from the print to party collection by Style Me Gorgeous. The theme seemed to flow on from there.. 'Colour my world'. Below is a picture of the invitation, and alongside it is the cake I made to match!

Here are some larger pictures of my cake creation... the bottom tier was my signature chocolate cake with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate ganache. The top tier was eggless vanilla cake with fresh strawberry buttercream and white chocolate ganache.

I tried to make the figurine like my son. I will let you be the judge of whether or not I was successful! Here is a picture of him on the day.

To decorate our venue, I hung assorted coloured paper lanterns from the tree which looked great and was quick and easy. I purchased these, along with red paper cups and polkadot paper plates from The Little Big Company. I also found Spotlight to be a great source for all things party related, where I picked up cocktail napkins in different colours, as well as the materials I needed to make bunting to decorate the table (see picture below).

Although there are no pictures at all (d'oh!) the food we had catered was ideal for a picnic ... gourmet sandwiches and wraps plus Vietnamese rice paper rolls with dipping sauce, all delivered to our picnic site. This was through Mr Fingerfood and I am so glad I decided to outsource the food. It really took a lot of stress out of it for me.

In the background of the above picture you will see a drink dispenser. I hired two of these from a great little party hire company I found through Gumtree. They are called NY Party Hire and Nomi and her husband are lovely to deal with. They are based in Baulkham Hills and offer very reasonable delivery prices. Their 5 litre size was perfect, and they kept our drinks wonderfully chilled on the day. For more information click here.

Although I was admittedly a little knackered afterwards, I am glad we did it. I guess a little one's first birthday is significant not just because it is a milestone to turn one, but it is also an opportunity for us parents to mark our survival of the first year of parenthood and all of it joys and challenges. What a year it has been... I am so grateful to have The Emperor in my life - he is such a cool little fella, and he has changed my life for the better in so many ways. Without him I doubt I would have decided to take the leap of starting my own business, a dream that has now become a reality. Thank you, Roman, and bring on the second birthday party!

Until next time, dear readers :)

Ladybird xxx

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Jamie's Italian, Sydney CBD

I think any parents out there reading this will understand completely when I say that making it to your child's first birthday is a very significant milestone. It's one of those times in your life when you breathe a huge sigh of relief and say "Phew... We made it!" I'll be posting soon about little Roman's birthday picnic, but this post is about our parental celebration :)

To celebrate making it through our first year of parenthood, Mr Ladybird and I headed to Jamie's Italian on Pitt Street in the Sydney CBD last week for lunch (by ourselves - wahooo!) Sure, having lunch with Roman is nice and all... but so is just the two of us. No stress over high chairs; cutlery being jabbed in the eye, or glasses being sent flying from the table... just the two of us, like "the old days"!

I really enjoyed this meal. The vibe at Jamie's Italian is stylish and unpretentious. And the food is much the same - simple, delicious, and nothing over-the-top. Just good honest Italian food. Service was prompt and friendly too, which can often make or break a dining experience! We started with complimentary bread and lovely olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For entrees, we both had the zucchini flower special ($14.50)... a scrumptious stuffed and deep-fried zucchini flower with a rich tomato sauce and rocket pesto. I'm not usually one for anything deep-fried, but I can never say no to a good zucchini flower. The crumbed exterior was wonderfully crisp and crunchy, a nice contrast to the creamy interior of the flower.

For mains, Mr Ladybird enjoyed the pasta special - ravioli with asparagus, peas, mint, lemon zest and watercress $18.50. I enjoyed a small Pumpkin pasta ($12.50) which was wonderful.

Oh yes, and a cheeky side of Polenta Chips ($8.50).

And for dessert, Mr Ladybird and I shared a portion of rich Special Tiramisu ($9) coffee flavoured trifle with orange mascarpone and chocolate. Heaven!

All in all a lovely treat to ourselves on our son's first birthday. Thumbs up, Mr O!

I'll post again soon with some snaps from our little one's birthday celebration (and the cake of course!) Till next time...

Ladybird x

Jamie's Italian
107 Pitt St, Sydney
(02) 8240 9000 Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

Monday, 3 September 2012

Check out my website!

Hello dear followers...

It's been a very busy couple of weeks recently with some great orders, and I have also been busy finalising my website which is now LIVE!

To check it out, please visit:

Here are some recent additions to my portfolio...

This was a special order... the cake was eggless vanilla, and I made around 100 matching red velvet and chocolate cupcakes.

 A 35th anniversary corporate order for the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

A cute, diagonally striped cake.. and this soccer ball birthday cake in my delicious new flavour 'Caramel Lover' - caramel mud cake, salted caramel buttercream and chocolate ganache - mmmm! :)

A Ninjago themed chocolate cake for a little person...

And finally another addition to my bug themed monogram cakes... this time with pink and raspberry red stripes and ladybirds (of course!)

And two simple and elegant wedding cakes... Oh how I LOVE wedding cakes... hoping to make some more soon, so fingers crossed! :)

Stay tuned for another update soon! Have a great week everyone, and HAPPY SPRING! :)

Anna x

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Vegetarian Sheperd's Pie

This is absolutely, hands-down, my favourite veggie sheperd's pie recipe. All too often, veggie versions of meat dishes are very very disappointing, but not this one! This dish is packed with flavour (and protein!), and is lovely, hearty meal. You can also add a cheeky slosh of red wine if you've got a bottle open as it adds a great flavour. I make this quite often as it is equally tasty served the next day for lunch (or dinner again, if I'm feeling lazy...)

Vegetarian Sheperd's Pie with Cheddar and Lentils
serves 4 to 6


  • • 2 red onions
  • • 2 carrots
  • • 2 sticks of celery
  • • 2 cloves of garlic
  • • a small bunch of fresh rosemary
  • • 2 x 400g tins of lentils
  • • olive oil
  • • 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
  • • 200ml vegetable stock, preferably organic
  • • 1.5kg Desiree potatoes
  • • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • • 150g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • • 100ml whole milk
  • • a pinch of nutmeg

  • Method
  • The following steps and accompanying pictures are from Jamie's website.

  • To prepare and cook your filling

    • Peel and roughly chop the onions and carrots
    • Trim and roughly chop the celery
    • Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves

    To prepare and cook your filling

    • Pick the rosemary leaves, discard the stalks
    • Finely chop half of leaves, put the rest to one side
    • Drain the lentils

    To prepare and cook your filling

    • Heat a large pan on a medium heat
    • Add a good lug of olive oil and the onions, carrots, celery and garlic
    • Cook gently with the lid on for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened

    To prepare and cook your filling

    • Add the chopped rosemary leaves, tinned tomatoes and stock and stir well
    • Bring to the boil, then add the drained lentils, reduce to a low heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until thick and delicious

    To make your mash topping

    • Peel the potatoes, cut them into halves and quarters depending on their size, and put them into a pan of salted, boiling water
    • Boil for about 10 minutes until tender
    • Stick a knife into them to check they’re soft all the way through

    To make your mash topping

    • Drain in a colander and return them to the pan
    • Grate the Cheddar cheese
    • Add the milk, butter, most of the cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan

    To make your mash topping

    • Finely grate in a few scrapings of nutmeg
    • Mash until smooth and creamy

    To assemble and cook your shepherd’s pie

    • Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5
    • Transfer the lentil mixture to a large ovenproof baking dish
    • Spoon the mash evenly over the top, poke the remaining rosemary leaves into it to decorate and drizzle with olive oil

    To assemble and cook your shepherd’s pie

    • Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese, then cook in the hot oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbling

    And voila, it's ready to eat! Nom nom nom :)

    Tell me, dear readers, what sort of food do you like to tuck into on a cold and miserable winter's night?

    Anna x

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