how to make a belle cake // simply

Belle Cake

our little girl is obsessed with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. i mean totally obsessed. and who wouldn’t be? she’s probably the most loving, forgiving, intelligent and creative Disney character out there & she’s French … so i’m pretty pleased with her choice. i had no option this birthday except to make her a Belle cake. since i am all about making life easier (rather than more complicated) i decided to take a few cooking faux-pas in baking and creating this cake. so, if you’re like me, here’s how you make a Belle cake … simply.

Step 1 // purchase 3 x really good cake mix. i chose betty crocker 2 x vanilla and 1 x strawberry because i wanted to do a marble cake :)

Step 2 // make three separate cake mixes & keep them in separate bowls. then follow this quick advice on how to marble a cake (interesting music choice ;) )

Step 3 // bake cake in a large bundt cake tin. i used a silicon one and it turned out perfectly. i also baked on cake in a regular round cake tin.

cake prep 1

Step 4 // slice cake in three even slices (i used a measuring tape and an extra long bread knife – a tip from my neighbour!)

cake prep 2


Step 5 // colour your frosting with yellow to the colour of Belle and put frosting in between all the layers to make them stick together. then frost the outside of the cake in what they call the crumb layer. pop it in the fridge and wait an hour or so.

cake prep 3

step 6 // apply another layer of frosting and pop back into the fridge. in the meantime get your frosting decorations ready. once ready, start to apply the decorations. i used a toothpick to create creases in the dress, as well as a row of frosting. i also stuffed the hole with marshmallows so that the Belle doll would stand straight and snug. (see how messy my work is? lots of tea, lots of mixing … this was of course made the night before the party!!)

cake prep 4

step 7 // add finishing touches. i put some edible star glitter from here over the top of the dress to make her sparkle and i lined the base with fresh camellia’s from our garden. these flowers come out each year on her birthday so i’m planning on using them on as many of her cakes as possible! aren’t they stunning. god’s creation is always better than anything we could create :)

Belle Cake 2

and there we go! happy baking !!



what to do // in port stephens // nsw


we recently went on a holiday to the port stephens area of new south wales. it was our first nuclear family holiday (i.e. just the five of us; except for one night when uncle paul came to visit!). it was awesome! we stayed at my sister’s family holiday house which was a real treat & we’re looking forward to going back in december ;)

i’ll pop another post on more photos of our family on holiday a bit later, but for today i want to share photos of our visit to oakvale farm & fauna world. it was awesome! especially for our kids (who are sooooo little… sometimes I forget!). we didn’t know just how good it was until we got there – luckily we went early! we bought a bag of feed for $1.50 for each child and then we just went nuts feeding all the animals. at 11 am they also had a ‘feeding’ show, which was not a show at all. instead, all the people who had been before started lining up & got first dibbs on the milk bottles for feeding the animals. our poor little baby leaves was so confused – he thought the milk bottle was for him & was distressed watching j-train feeding the lambs milk. shame man… it was so sweet & so upsetting to watch :)

lamby lambs horses lambs kangaroo joy leaves mama and V with horses mama and the boys

the j-train was the perfect age (4) for this visit – as you can see, he had no fear feeding the animals. for him, this visit was sheer joy. V was a little apprehensive & leaves was, well, a baby :)

we’ll be returning next visit for sure!


three going on thirteen.

birthday girls birthday girls where's my cake?birthday girl

we recently celebrated our baby girl’s third birthday. it was the sweetest. we had a combined party with one of our mother’s group besties which was the best decision i have made in a loooooong time. when we brought the cakes out, our poor little poppet only saw her friend’s cake and was like, “where’s my cake?” and started crying. little did she know that her absolute favourite Belle from Beauty and the Beast was sitting right in front of her! bless.

i just love this kid. she’s full of sass and just wants to have fun. she is probably a little bit too much like me, and i think even more like my mother. which makes for an interesting time in our house! she certainly knows what she wants ;) but i love her to pieces and am enjoying the transition from toddler to full blown little girl.


green thumb part 1.


the day we moved into our house (nearly) 2 years ago i fell in love with our garden. it was romantically overgrown, green, fresh, with the promise of flowers. about our year into our house, we did a massive clean up of weeds and problem plants (e.g. the rubber tree!) … which practically demolished my romantic garden … why are weeds so pretty?

since then, i have been caring for, nurturing, loving the last plants standing … and i’m in the mood for planting! I am a total rookie at planning a garden (let alone a home!) but I have started to go Pinterest crazy, chatting & enlisting my friend who has incredible talent in the garden landscape arena, and even taking a sneaky bit of advice from good ‘ol Burke (man, it brings back memories….).

i love hydrangea’s, and i love the idea of propagating … so at the beginning of summer i took a few hydrangea clippings from around our neighbourhood & under the guidance of Mark’s grandma have begun to grow my own plants! Yippeeeee!

If this is something that you’re keen to try, here’s how I got started…

//What you need//

1 x propagating pot mix;
1 x rooting hormone gel;
A few pots (plastic or ceramic);
plastic bags;
elastic bands; and
a few plant clippings.


For the hydrangea, it is important that your clipping is a part of the plant that is not flowering. You must also cut it on an angle.


Remove any excess leaves, leaving only a few at the top. Follow the instructions in the rooting hormone gel. You usually need to dip the stem around 1 cm deep.


Then plant in the propagating pot mix and water well. I then created a few little greenhouses by securing a plastic bag over the new plant with an elastic band. I found this protected the plant and provided constant moisture for the new plant without watering each day. I have kept my new little plants under my table on my deck for the entire summer (which is hot down here!).


I’ll let you know how my experiment has gone in the next week or so!


{half} DIY kitchenette.



i am time poor. we all are. this makes DIY projects virtually impossible for me at the moment. but last year i was determined to make my girl’s christmas gift from mark & i awesome. i had bought her a wooden kitchenette from Aldi. while i love love love wooden toys, i find that the colour schemes that are trending these days are not necessarily to my taste. so i decided to ‘take control’ & make this kitchenette an item that would fit beautifully in our little home. it was a total last minute job (as usual) but i’m really happy with the result. and more importantly, so is she!

before (source):

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 8.40.58 PM



what you’ll need:

1 // 1 x flat pack kitchenette. mine is from aldi.
2 // 1 x spray paint primer in white.
3 // 2 x coloured spray paint in contrasting colours. I chose 1 x neon pink spray paint & 1 x apple green spray paint.
4 // painters tape and newspaper.

Steps to take:


1 // Prepare surfaces for painting. Sugar soap surfaces & wipe clean. Lightly sand surfaces.
2 // Using painters tape and newspaper, block off areas that do not need painting.
3 // Choose a well ventilated, but not too windy area for spray painting. Cover all surfaces with the primer. I found the neon pink needed a good cover of white primer to make it the full-on neon that i was after.
 // After at least 24 hours, spray paint parts in preferred colour.
5 // After 1 – 24 hours, spray a second coat of paint.
6 // Assemble flat pack & enjoy your ‘handiwork’!


changing things up.

gum bootsok. so today is the two year anniversary of starting this blog. WOW. i’m stoked. i just love this little corner of the internet & am so thankful for all of you that are joining in the ups & downs of our family life. as i write, we have just won the Ashes 5-0. Yipppeeee! I’ve just come in from a swim at the beach with our littlest one. The two eldest are at a sleep over with nana & pa (THANK YOU!!!). Mark just came home with Indian for dinner & we are going to settle in for the Big Bash series tonight (cricket, if you’re none the wiser ;) ) while talking about our personal, spiritual, physical and work goals for the year. So things are looking REALLY peachy at the moment. I mean really REALLY peachy.

Thank you all for following along so far. It has been an awesome journey for me & I hope the same for you. to my sister in London (to whom this blog is dedicated) .. i love you! & miss you too much. glad you’re in town for the silly season ;)

Here’s to an awesome 2014 with lots of welcome changes and good times ahead !!