Cheesyful Cake, by Geronimo Stilton

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I have a small collection of cookbooks on my shelves. Jamie Oliver, Kylie Kwong and Donna Hay to name a few. If there is a recipe that is not in the books, the internet is a reliable resource as well. What if the recipe was from the popular children’s author Geronimo Stilton? Joel came across a recipe for “Cheesyful Cake” in his book ‘The Quest for Paradise’ and got very excited about baking it. I raised my eyebrows and was immensely sceptical of how it would turn out.

I checked out several cheesecake recipes online, to see how this one compares. Many recipes had the cheesecake cooling in the oven for hours, and also to pop in a water bath. I’m usually a minimalist cook. The less fuss, the better. Stilton’s recipe looked rather straightforward to execute.

As anyone has baked with kids before, more often than not, it is MAYHEM. A whole tablespoon of sugar ended up on the table, instead of the mixing bowl. Biscuit crumbs on the floor. Butter fingers, literally, everywhere. Anyway we survived the chaos and emerged victorious with a pretty decent cheesecake! The taste of this one sits nicely in the middle. I’m neither a fan of Japanese cheesecakes (too light) nor the American ones (too heavy) so I’m happy with this.

I made a mistake and used 3 cups (which is a whole roll) of digestive biscuits instead of 2, so it gave us a super thick crust. No one is complaining.

If you are trying out this recipe, you could probably reduce the sugar for the base as even though I used more biscuits, and lessened the sugar slightly, it still tasted rather sweet.

A proper piping nozzle would be great as well, as you can see, it is obvious I used the “put the melted chocolate in a plastic bag and cut a small corner off” method. The chocolate lines were not consistent and looked haphazard. Tip: use dark chocolate. It tasted fabulous and went well with the cake.

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Geronimo Stilton, I will be looking forward to more recipes from you. Cheeseterrific!

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Great Snakes! Joel is 6!

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The dust has settled, the parties are over, and I’ve untangled myself from the buntings. Joel had a little party inspired by the adventures of Tintin last week. Every party needs a good theme, and I must say I had lots of fun with this year’s! I wanted the venue to be at either a gelato, yoghurt or ice cream shop, and so decided on Alfero Artisan Gelato at Lorong Kilat.

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Marco, the owner, was very kind in allowing me to bring some light snacks!

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The background of the invite was a page from Red Rackham’s Treasure, one of Joel’s favourite from the series.

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Most of the pictures on this bunting took up an entire page in the book, so I knew the quality would not be too fuzzy if I reproduced it on a larger scale.

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A comic strip bunting, made from photocopies. In case you were wondering, I did not cut up any books!

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Book covers!

It’s not a party without buntings! So I made 3, and hung them up at various spots in the shop.

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As we waited for the guests to arrive, the early birds had some Tintin colouring sheets to occupy them, and we did an airplane craft. The plane was made with a wooden clothespin, ice cream sticks, and triangle shaped foam (for the tail). The kids were quite independent using the UHU glue, which can get quite stringy, and I was a little worried initially that they could not manipulate it. My worries were unfounded. This craft is definitely something they can do with minimal guidance. Most of them proceeded to make lots more! It was pretty interesting with what they came up with. A kid placed both his plane wings on top, another boy merely colored his clothespin and declared it a “snapping alligator.” I brought lots of markers, for them to add stripes, polka dots or whatever design they fancied. If you are doing this craft at a party, do remind the kids to write their name on the plane as well!

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Work that printer to churn out your selected images

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The magnet was cut from a long band

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It works!

The other craft was magnet making. Gather some pictures of your favourite character or book cover, a wooden block, and a strip of magnet. Work the UHU magic, attach everything together, and you get a magnet! Super easy and fast. Again, the border of the wooden block can be decorated with markers.

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I drew and painted Snowy, with a little help from instructions online. I also individually drew and cut out 20 little puppy tails for the children to “pin.”

A spin off from Pin the tail on the donkey. We played Pin the tail on Snowy! Instead of using blindfolds, I covered up Joel’s sunglasses with paper, which made it a little more convenient for the kids to wear.

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Items on the list were related to the various stories

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Can you spot Snowy?

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Notice anything out of the ordinary?

We had a scavenger hunt to round things off. We divided the kids into 2 teams, and gave them a list of pictures to find. Some were hidden quite conspicuously!

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The cake was a photo print from a page out of Destination Moon, and I got a Tintin and Snowy figurine from the Tintin shop to place on the cake.

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Notepads, glammed up

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Postcards, also bought from the Tintin Shop

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Polo mints, slightly altered to fit the theme

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A little activity book that I came up with. It included wordsearch, colouring pages, and a few puzzles

For the party favour bag, I wanted the kids to take home a little reporter’s kit. So I included a pen, notepad, postcard, a roll of polos (in case they need a sugar rush while chasing a story) and the activity book you see above.

I got most of the craft materials from Daiso and Art Friend. Most of them came in bulk, for example, the wooden blocks used to make the magnets came 6 in a bag from Daiso, which was easy on my wallet. Most of the graphics, were done by my good pals A and R, my partners in crime for party planning. I enjoyed the whole process of sourcing, printing, cutting and painting. To sum it up, billions of blue blistering barnacles, bravo for a great party!

DIY Birthday Card

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I’ve been eschewing store bought cards for the longest time now. Ever since I discovered scrapbook paper, wood chips and craft embellishments, I’ve been making my own cards. I’m no expert though, my so called cards are made with maybe 2 pieces of scrapbook paper, a couple of stickers and maybe an embellishment. 

My aunt turned 70 recently, and instead of reaching for my craft box, I sought Joel’s help to make a card for her. He coloured a cake template, which I printed off the internet. We stuck it on the card, then I threw him the challenge of drawing 70 candles on the cake. Looking at the size of the cake and card itself, I thought it was impossible to fit 70 candles on it. I hoped my aunt didn’t mind the candles sticking out from the sides of the cake.

In the end, Joel managed to fit all the candles on the cake. We counted together, and when we got to 70, I breathed a sigh of relief that there wasn’t going to be any gravity defying candles. 

I’m definitely going to use this template again. Suitable for anyone from 1 to 70! 

 

Joel turns 5!

Joel turned 5 a few months ago. We threw a party for him combining 2 of his favourite themes, yoghurt and Lego! The venue was narrowed down to Sogurt, at Bukit Timah Road.

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We bought some snacks from Delifrance, brought some drinks and were ready to roll!

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What’s a Lego themed party without Lego? I chose to bring our Duplo, as I felt it would be less painful for me when it came to picking up the pieces.

I organized a few games and activities for the children. One of them was a DIY minifig mask. I traced the minifig head onto yellow paper, cut them out, and stuck an ice cream stick below for the handle. I brought crayons along for them to add whatever they fancied to the mask.

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Party prep is always fun!

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Everyone doing their masks quietly!

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Joel with his completed mask

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The crayons also came in handy for the colouring sheets I printed off the internet.

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Can you spot the minifig?

Another game we had was “Find the minifig”. I printed and cut out 6 minifigs, and hid them randomly around Sogurt. I should have made it less obvious, as the kids found them in no time!

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Guess how many?

I threw some Lego bricks in a jar, and had a “Guess the number of bricks in the jar” contest. One of Joel’s classmate managed to guess correctly!

There was also a “Build the tallest tower” contest. Some of the kids’ towers were so tall, they started toppling over. On hindsight, there was really no need for games as I saw that the kids were quite happy just playing with the Duplo.

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Isaac’s tower so tall, he had to lean it against the wall for support

We got Joel’s cake from “Celebrate with Cake”. Nick and Veronica were easy to liase with. Their email replies were always speedy and polite. The end result looked amazing.

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I didn’t manage to get a good picture of the cake, so this is stolen off Celebrate with Cake’s Facebook page.

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Not only did the cake looked good, it tasted fantastic as well.

I found myself hoarding the remaining pieces, and rationing them over the next few days!

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Many thanks for your wonderful gifts, everyone!

For his class celebration, we bought 2 dozen donuts, stacked them up, and stuck a candle on top. Voila! A donut cake! I printed off some animal themed toppers from the internet as decor.

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A donut cake Homer Simpson would be proud of

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Joel with his class mates

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Hope you had a very Happy Birthday, Joel!