Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

Category: Frugal Fun

Making Birthday Memories

The passing of birthdays are slightly bittersweet in the mummy universe that I inhabit as I realize that yet another year of my little one’s childhood has slipped me by all too quickly.

 I’m well aware how precious these fleeting years are to be cherished and more so, with each passing year as the little ones graduate into lankier frames and grow a head or two taller. 

It has always been my wish to make birthdays memorable, but not in a fancy, over-the top sort of way. Big parties are just not our thing in our family of mostly introverts.; they are fun but tiring logistically and too much hassle. We warm up to quiet, cozy gatherings and it’s really alright if it’s just us in the end.

This is a birthday memoir of the time that E turned five while we were mid-way through a few months of settling in Australia. We wanted her to know that while we were going through all these changes in our lives, that we deeply cherished spending this day celebrating her- and giving her the only constant in our life- our hearts as a family. We wanted something quiet and meaningful.

Pretty decorations that cost $2

Pretty banner for E

Of course we got her a little girl gift. The thing is, apart from the $10 mini pink purple washing machine that we got her, [because it was just TOO cute and she won’t ever find a pink and purple washing machine that makes washing noises ]…I wanted to gift her with something (to me) that would truly matter.

It had to be more than just a toy or a something that would be worn or tossed away and forgotten. So I decided, funny as it sounds, that she would have me and my time–my undivided attention on her special day. I would give her the “gift” of baking her own birthday cake, that included conceptualizing the cake she wanted, choosing the cake mix and decoration tools and basically making it so achievable for her that she would enjoy the whole cake project from start to finish and be involved as much as possible in it. In the process, we would spend time together, she would learn how to plan, pick up some new skills and craft some pretty awesome memories.

Adorable Cupcake case and flag set

Adorable Cupcake case and flag set

Little pretty things

Little pretty things

Strawberry Milkshake Cupcake Mix

Strawberry Milkshake Cupcake Mix

As I thought, she was delighted. She had often looked on longingly at me putting together a bake in a rush, she would help out here and there but never had we taken the whole process from start to finish. Or rather, I didn’t have the time. On her special day, it was going to be different. She would have her input and we would be as unhurried and as creative or as crazy as we wanted. So we trotted to the mall and picked up these buys on a $10 budget: $2 cupcake toppers and holders, $2.90 icing decorations and marshmallows, a $3.90 pink strawberry organic cupcake mix. She played stylist and picked all of the designs, accessories on her own.

The little baking star

The little baking star

Spooning her own batter

Spooning her own batter

Our adventure started, she donned her pretty pink fairy apron and her 5th birthday memories came into being! Look at her here, arranging the marshmallows on the platter and building her cupcake kingdom. She enjoyed mixing the batter, scooping it in, and then rolling on the icing and deciding how to use the pretty accessories.


On hindsight, I really enjoyed the time I spent with her. I really took the time to slow down, to watch her and listen to her give her opinions, to brainstorm together, laugh and chat, to see her gleefully take ownership of each process, to see her experience the value of hard work and also the satisfaction of the finished product. We even made a budget DIY cupcake stand together with stuff in the pantry! There was a lot of joy that day and it filled our hearts with fondness, pink, cream and lots of love.

Happy Cupcakes

Cupcakes on my budget DIY cupcake stand

Cupcakes on my budget DIY cupcake stand

Close up

Happy Birthday Sweetheart

It was one of the best and most memorable birthdays purely because we were unhurried, unscheduled and simply enjoyed each other. This happy photo makes me smile to this day. What would you do in your own way to make birthdays memories in your family?

Mealtime Musings

What are mealtimes like in your household? And how would you describe them?

Here’s what ours look like in our family of growing eaters: rounds of continuous eating & washing starting from when the kids get back: a “high-tea” buffet of sorts of which I am the only exclusive caterer.

3.45pm: [Hungry, (sometimes ravenous) kids come back from school.] The first thing they say is:
Kids: “Hi Mom, what’s for lunch?”
Mom: Didn’t you guys already have lunch?”
Kids: “Well, sort of, but we’re still hungry.
[hungry kids settle in for “lunch” consisting of lunch leftovers. End of Act 1].

Act 2, 5pm:
Kids: “Mum, what’s for dinner?”
Mum: “I don’t know. Anyway, why are you asking? I thought you just ate?
Kids: “Well yeah, we did. But that was an hour ago, and we’re still hungry.”
Mum in utter disbelief: “What?!!”

Act 3: 6pm
Kid 1: “When will dinner be ready? I can smell something yummy…”
Kid 2: “Mum, I just went to the toilet three times, and urm, cleared everything.
Mum: ( No comment but I see where this is heading. That’s subtle, no, that’s a big hint, no…they are telling me to work faster, nooooo….they’re playing on my mind!!!…….)

Act 4: 6.30pm
[After battling out the elements in the kitchen & leveling up at food ninja; chopping at the speed of light, multiple-running stoves, stirring, frying, scouring oily pans, cleaning up spills around kitchen counters, clearing the table, dinner is ready to be served.]
Mum: “Alright, dinner is ready!”
Kids: “YESSSSS!!!( hoots and cheers followed by trampling of feet down the stairs not unlike a herd of galloping cattle).

Act 5: 730pm
Rounds of washing in between, and dinner is almost a done deal. Mum tugs at the trash and it’s a full bag. Yes! Another dinner behind me. But something’s lurking behind, followed by a familiar voice:
Kid: “Mum, can I have an apple?”
Another voice:
“Yup, me too, peeled ok?”
Another: “I don’t want apple. I want grapes.”
Baby(strapped to baby chair): “I want walk!!!” Followed by squeals of protests (which mean, “right now!”)

All in a day’s work at mum’s All-day Diner. Tell me I’m not alone.

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