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first days of school

This morning I stood on my front verandah and waved goodbye to Phoebe as she drove off to her LAST first day back to school.

Today's the day I have sort of been looking forward to, but also not. 

We've had 16 first days in the family. Emily started Kindergarten at our local primary school back in 2001. Phoebe followed her three years later. There were some tears and some excitement (that was from me, not the girls) when they both started school. They seemed so grown up to be starting school... looking now at the kids starting kindergarten, they seem sooo tiny. And I remember thinking that 13 years of schooling for each of them was going to take FOREVER. But of course, it didn't take forever, it has actually flew by, and here we are in 'our' last school year.

Of course, being the dutiful mother, I have documented most of these very important first days back to school with the 'first day back to school' photos. And while there have been some years that Emily and Phoebe groaned when I've wanted to take a photo of them returning to school, I persisted. Not all photos have shown happy smiley kids returning to school. Some showed their true feelings of leaving their long summer holidays of freedom behind them!

Back to school photo

But there were many photos where my girls obliged, smiling for the camera, either sitting on our front steps or standing in the garden. I have watched as school dresses have gotten shorter (or my girls have gotten taller), school hats floppier, hair styles have changed and braces have been put on the teeth and then taken off.

First days of school

And then, of course, I sometimes think back to my own first day of school. Well, I can't remember anything of it, to be honest. But I do have a precious photo taken by my dad on the morning of my first day. It was 1971 and I was 4 1/2 years old, heading off to Burnside Public School in North Parramatta. Green was not a favourite colour and yet I wore it for six years!

1971 Fiona's first day of school

I may not remember my first day of school, but here's a few random things that make me smile when I look at this photo:

  • I loved the old brown school cases we had back then, wish I still had this one.
  • I love the fact that my socks probably covered more of my legs than the uniform did.
  • My hair was always embellished with big ribbon bows.
  • The nerves were apparent in this photo, I'm twitching the hem of my uniform with my hands (maybe that's why the hem was short, to give me something to hold onto).
  • Shiney school shoes and bright white socks, always make me think of new beginnings!
  • I can pretty much guarantee there was a vegemite sandwich on soft white bread in my school case. This was my school lunch of choice for most of my 13 years of schooling (occasionally changed to a soft white bread roll as I got older). There would have also been a little plastic bottle of cordial (probably frozen to stay cool until lunch time) as well... and a couple of iced vovos for my recess snack.

And I'm so glad I persisted taking those photos of my girls. They may not remember that much from all their school days in years to come but the photos I've taken may just bring back some little fond memories, just as my dad's photo of me has done.

There is something about the first day back to school for the new year. It brings the idea of new beginnings, new learnings and more responsibilities within the school community. But this year it's also bringing in the end of an era in the Carter household. Our last year (or really, only 3 terms) of school has just begun!

Thanks for visiting.




Lamingtons baked by Fiona Carter

Lamingtons... a classic little Australian cake enjoyed all over the country! We seem to see more of these delicious little cakes around Australia Day these days, they've almost become a national dish for our day of celebration... along with Aussie lamb, of course!

Lamingtons baked by Fiona Carter

My first exposure to making lamingtons was in the late 1970's. One of our neighbours, who was in her early 20's at the time, had entered into the old Queen of Hearts competition. Back then it was a fundraising competition for, I believe, the Heart Foundation. Young women who entered the competition raised money for the foundation, and who ever raised the most money was crowded the Queen of Hearts for that year.

Anyway, this neighbour organised a lamington drive as one of her fundraising activities. She sold lamingtons in the hundreds, and then gathered as many people from the neighbourhood to help her make the lamingtons to fulfil the orders. I was only about 13 or 14 years old at the time. I remember vividly walking into her house and seeing the sheer scale of the lamington production line in her kitchen and dining room. I sat round their dining room table dunking squares of cake into the giant vat of chocolate icing, then putting the chocolate dripping cake cubes into a huge tray of coconut. It was the next person in the production line's job to ensure the lamingtons were coconut coated perfectly.

When ever I make lamingtons, I think back to this evening. It was one evening a long time ago, one little memory... it was the first time I was exposed to 'cooking' on such a scale. I loved it, loved sitting round the table chatting to our neighbours, loved being busy and loved being part of the lamington production 'team'.

 Lamingtons baked by Fiona Carter

I've been making lamingtons this week.

I altered the usual formula of sponge cake with a runny chocolate icing. My lamingtons were made from a vanilla cake which was lightly flavoured with orange. I then soaked the slab cake with a fresh coconut milk panna cotta (inspired by Flour and Stone, who use a vanilla panna cotta with their delicious lamingtons). I then coated the cake squares in a dark chocolate ganache before coating them in the coconut.

Lamingtons baked by Fiona Carter

I also decided to take the humble little lamington to another level this year by creating a lamington cake.

Baked by Fiona Lamington Cake, vanilla cake with a raspberry and white chocolate mousse filling. Coated with chocolate and coconut

In between two layers of vanilla cake is a raspberry and white chocolate mousse. The cake was then coated with a milk chocolate ganache, coconut and dark chocolate ganache drips.

Baked by Fiona Lamington Cake, vanilla cake with a raspberry and white chocolate mousse filling. Coated with chocolate and coconut

The origins of the lamington are a little uncertain, but it seems as through the chef of Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901) created these little cakes. There are a few stories, however, the story I favour is that they were created by accident. The chef dropped some sponge cake into chocolate and sprinkled coconut over them to try and make this 'disaster' more appealing. 

One of the best disasters in history, in my opinion!

Thanks for visiting!




Craftsy: Free Cake Decorating Classes

50 stories for 50 years

Hello 2016!

It's going to be a year to celebrate this year. By the end of this year.... I'll be 50. Yes, 2016 is the year I turn the big 5-0!

This year is one year I've been anticipating for a while now, not only for the 5-0 thing happening, but by the end of this year our family dynamics will, once again, change. You see, this year my daughter will finish high school, I will no longer have a school-aged child. She will be 18, and my other gorgeous girl will be 21 and almost finished her university studies. Both girls are planning exciting things once they have finished their studies. For the last 15 years we've been involved in school-parent activities, and by the end of this year, that will have finished.

I've been reflecting about my blog for a few months now.... I started this blog over 10 years ago, back in June 2005. At the time I'd just returned from a holiday in the US. I was working as a Creative Editor for Scrapbooking Memories magazine and used my blog to chat about my crafts, scrapbooking, cooking and my family.

Over the few years that followed, I started my business, Ribbons Galore, life got busy. My girls got older, and there came a time when I didn't want to share so much about them on my blog. I needed to respect their privacy as they moved through high school. My blogging slowed...

Then five years ago I was involved in a car accident, and that really stopped me for a while! A driver who didn’t stop at a stop sign hit me. She drove into the driver’s side of my car. I had no broken bones, thankfully, but I was left to rebuild my aching body over the next few years. The headaches, neck aches and short term memory loss was painful. I functioned, just enough, to keep my business running, but even that was hard. During that time I vowed if I were ever to get better (as in not having throbbing headaches which lasted for days, for example), I would grab opportunities as they came by (and sometimes ever run after them), to try new things, learn new skills, go to new places.

So I've been thinking of a way to "celebrate" 2016, turning 50 and how life changes as different stages start and finish. I'm going to attempt to write a little more on my little old blog.  Earlier this month we returned from a lovely family holiday in San Francisco, I might start with a few stories from that wonderful city.

That's the plan, anyway...

Wish me luck!


Fiona x

Because I think a blog post should have a photo or two, here's a couple of photos of me with my gorgeous girls, at the start of my blogging days (June 2005) and now (December 2015).

Fiona Carter then and now photo