First birthday parties are more for the mamas (and maybe for the papas too ;P) than they are for the kiddo in the spotlight!!
See, "first birthday party" means - WE SURVIVED THE YEAR! We've navigated sleepless nights, transition upheavals, breast-feeding, first cereal feedings, sibling adjustments, shopping outings with three kids piled on one stroller. Tummy troubles and family travels and nap time habits. We've gotten to know this little peanut and her many and varied preferences. We've gotten TWO teeth and a bit of rest. What a journey it has been!!
First things first. The cake. I am NO Betty Crocker. I don't enjoy baking much; kitchen duties are not the first things I sign up for. However, I do enjoy putting together my kids birthday cakes. Go figure. A glutton for punishment - perhaps. This year I thought I'd try playing around with fondant because I am inspired by a friend who gave it a whirl. (Joy, if you're reading this, you inspire me on so many levels. Fondant included ;P.)
Anyway, discovered that fondant can also be pretty pricey. Since we do want to reserve a bit of money for the kids RESP I came up with Plan B - Gum paste. Well, there's the pre-made version and the mix version. I bought the mix because, again, it's a bit cheaper. Of course, if you're really adventurous, the cheapest route is just to google a recipe and mix it all yourself. I didn't want to push my luck!
Gum paste is a TON of fun - once you figure out some of the .... kinks. It takes a bit of messin' around (and at 11:30pm, I didn't have a whole lotta energy left for that!) but once you got it, it's fun! Jon heard a lot of muttering under my breath (and some a bit louder than that!) but eventually TADA. Birthday cake.
I have learned to take pictures of the cake that moment they are done - because no matter how hard I try, something always appears different the next day. Like the time the gel writing ran and looked --- odd. Or the smarties bled color OFF the smarty and onto the cake. Again, didn't look as nice. This time, sure enough. The gum paste started to get a bit soft and the color started to blend into the whipped topping. All in all, it still looked okay.
Secondly, it's always fun to add a few final touches. I don't go all out in decorations. It's just not my thing. I have read of gals that literally STAPLE table clothes to the walls just to make an "underwater scene." Since I want to stay married, and I'm almost certain that "unnecessary holes in the walls due to stapled table clothes in an effort to create a birthday party theme is not allowable" was part of our wedding vows (right up there with for better or worse, as long as we both shall live), we keep it simple around here. A little bit of clip art and a little bit of color. Voila. Eat. Drink (punch or pop is what we serve!). Be merry.
The weather was lovely, and we were able to enjoy the great outdoors a bit before moving in for supper. Supper. Food. Ah. Again, kitchen issues. We decided, due to temperamental MB weather we would not bbq. I have a bbq "issue" (namely I hate it because I either burn it or undercook it, and let's just say it's not my thing. Although I have not given up, and do practice and someday... maybe someday.....) and I didn't want Jon to have to BBQ in his rain suit. Again. Because he's already done that once in a down pour this spring and I felt kinda bad about that ;). Except that he looked kinda cute, but I'm not sure that's exactly what he wanted to hear :). So, we went with p.i.z.z.a.
Now, if you've known me for a length of time you'll know I have a "history" with pizza. Love to eat it, have not given up on making it, but have struggled to get it "right." It either comes out too doughy in the middle (YUCK!) or ..... well, that's it. Usually squishy in the middle. I've tried all sorts of remedies for this and have yet to find one that I am satisfied with.
So, I used that mighty google tool again. Prebaked all my pizza crusts (poke them with a fork so that they don't get all big and fluffy) and then REBAKED them the next day with the toppings. Turned out FABULOUS. Because I used a light-colored heavy aluminum pan the crusts did not get overbaked at all. They were crisp on the outside yet barely even brown. I wasn't sure about the "rebaking" step, since there were many different theories on this out there. However, I popped them into a slightly cooler oven (375F) and could get away with baking them a full 17 minutes - toppings were done rather than precooking all the pizza toppings as well (a bit labor intensive!). Piping hot pizza, out of the oven. Served a crowd, simply, cleanly (as all the mess was made the day before) and I could enjoy MINGLING rather than COOKING!
See what I mean about first birthday parties being for the mamas :)?
Here she is, my little one year old. Becoming a rather a dainty eater, so even though we gave her icing, this is about as crazy as she got!!
She is a sweet little gift, through and through. She's taught me so much already; I'm sure there'll be more lessons on the horizon as we move through toddler hood and into the preschool years ;).
Now, pardon me. I think I'm going to enjoy a lazy-daisy Monday ;P.