Month: July 2017

The Day after my Birthday!

Joyeux Anniversaire! That was the message from my French dinner party and the memories made soon after my 60th birthday. I am so lucky to have shared in 2 special occasions – the first with my family and grand children picnicking in a beautiful park in Montville; the second a French dinner party with friends.

Sitting here in the living room surrounded by gifts and gorgeous cards, I don’t think I’ll forget how special it is to commemorate another year of living.

Firstly the park experience. Fun, Sack races, Flying things in the sky. Crashes! Bike rides, a Margaret Quiz, The cake and sparkler, climbing, running, chasing and more.

The picnic table was decorated, food organised, drinks chilled and open spaces for the children to enjoy with nearby swings. I was presented with a crown, the royal goblet, arm tattoo, and fun things in a gift box by my daughter. A hoot! and a grandma hand printed canvas, a massage voucher and the most beautiful family portrait that would bring joy and tears to my eyes. Little did I know that this gift had been planned to a fine art with many “photo shoots” taken until the best one appeared.

My son-in-law composed and read aloud a poem – very insightful! The cake was cut and singing followed. The sun was shining, what more could I ask for? How magical to spend time outdoors with the ones you love.

IMG_9589 2
My beautiful daughter surprises me
relaxing in the winter sunshine

Fast forward a week to the next celebration when I planned for my own dinner party at home.

The travelling experience abroad set the scene for a French theme so the house was decorated with a banner of black and white French Paris postcards, Eiffel Tower, glasses of lavender on the tables ( and the lemons picked off my trees) signs and menu boards.

Friends gathered wearing something French. Ooh La La! The berets, moustaches, stripes and even a string of onions. Here’s Monsieur Phillip.

Voila! This was our delicious entree – salads nicoise and onion tart. The waiter, Nicholas, a student from my school served our hungry guests and entertained them throughout.

Guests mingled, sipped champagne and enjoyed the sunset views over the mountains.

My happy band of helpers worked hard to serve the meals – ratatouille, boeuf bourguignon, and coq au vin, ( Marg, Phillip, Bill and I had fun making these) and the poppy cake made by Libby was admired by all.

This white mud cake was inspired by the fields and roadside poppies in Provence.

My birthday party had a few extra surprises too. A Margaret Quiz ( that my sister Kim organised and a little one from me too – sisters do think alike!!) From French words, to words to describe Marg, to movies released in 1957, there was something for everyone to answer. Some of my friends knew my interests and travel plans, others failed miserably.

Bill organised a trivia quiz on French cuisine. Nicholas sang a beautiful French song. Music blared. Gifts were opened. Photo board was examined. Conversations. A little dancing. And the chocolate and lemon tarts served with ice cream. So delicious.

A wonderful celebration of good friendships and as my younger sister Kim said, a slightly older audience. My peers are now closer to 70!

I really enjoyed the conversations that people shared; the speech my sister delivered from the heart and my brother’s BIG stories.


FullSizeRender 29
Is that really Father Christmas visiting?

Here’s a photo of my siblings – Jim, Kim and me. Thank you to everyone who made my 60th event so special. Thank you for the generous presents from near and far.


Planning a Party – My own!

Have you ever ticked off items on your “to do ” list? Been rummaging through cupboards to find a few things? What about a dinner party of your own theme? Well, this month I am celebrating my 60th birthday. And I thought that a French dinner party would be the way to go.

Since returning from Provence early July my head has been brimming with ” French things” – recipes, fabric, books, candles etc. You just need to look at my book shelves to see that French is the new flavour of the month.

So a party it is. I have given it some thought. My own family of 4 children and partners and grand children are meeting me tomorrow at the Montville Park for a picnic lunch. I am so looking forward to this celebration. We will all help each other out by adding some food to the lunch table. Yes, I have some decorations – banner, balloons and whistles! I also have some hessian sacks for the kid’s races and a few surprises for the children. Mind you they will probably choose to climb the frames and swing on the swings.

More about that next time with photos.

Planning a French party needs a guest list, invitations and a menu. And I love the planning.

I have practised making a boeuf bourguignon until it tastes as good as the real thing. Not sure. It needs a sprinkle of herbs.

It’s good to know that I can count on my Irish friend Marg who will cook with me too. My friends in Mapleton are so generous with extra seats, glass ware and tablecloths. As I am planning for 20+ the house spaces will need changing, but that’s a job next week.

I am having the dinner on Saturday 15 July – my real birthday is 17 July.


The wine glasses are being washed. The wine and champagne is being bought. And some decorative touches will add to the atmosphere of “tres chic”. I have written down set jobs for the night. I have found an Eiffel Tower, and some signs. The menu is sorted. RSVP list is happening. Back room more cluttered. Shopping still to do. And a hundred things in between, not to mention going back to school to greet and teach my students.

The cake, well, a friend who lives down the road is making me one as a gift. Libby is very clever with decorating and hand painting.

More than the creative part of me that enjoys putting something together, is the sharing of food and conversation, laughs and stories that romancing with grandma brings. 1957 was the year I was born. My special school friends also turn 60 this year. As a way of remembering, I hope that this event will be lovely. I can’t go wild like sky diving or bungee jumping, but I can have fun capturing the French essence of a joyous anniversarie. Will post some photos soon to show you how it went. Until then, stay well and happy.