Wednesday, July 27, 2011

She's 4!!

My little girl turned 4 yesterday!! We're having her big party on Saturday, going swimming (she's been talking about going swimming for her birthday since Christmas, so it would be cruel to do anything else) but we had some family over for cake last night.

The last two birthday cakes I made were absolutely horrific disasters. Her cake last year I was able to patch together and make it work, but poor James' cake in April was downright embarrassing. I refused to take a picture of it, and I am still unhappy that my mother-in-law took a picture of it when I specifically asked her not to. I've been plotting to get my hands on her camera and delete the picture, but haven't succeeded yet. I'll keep you posted.

So I felt like I had to redeem myself.

I planned and prepared, and things seemed like they were working out. Praise God it was a cool day, so I didn't have to worry as much about the icing melting off the cake as I made it like I have for her other birthdays. No air conditioning means you have to think about things like that.

I asked her what she wanted, and we looked at different kinds of cakes, and she decided she wanted a rainbow cake. I ended up not doing an actual rainbow, but just different colours.

Here's how I did it:
Two boxes of cake mix (because let's face it, I'm doing all this other stuff, I'm gonna take the shortcuts where I can get them)
Chocolate icing
Food colouring
Different colours of decorating icing
and a ridiculous amount of those little decorating tips, which as it turns out, I did not use to their full potential.

Mix the cake batter, divide into bowls. I have four cake pans so I used four bowls. Yes I know there are five bowls in the picture. Never mind.

Add some food colouring (maybe if I do this again I'll add some flavour or something, this was just a plain white cake after all.)

Put them in the pans lined with wax paper and OH MY GOODNESS I AM ALWAYS DOING THIS NOW. Taking them out of the pans was so easy, clean up was so easy, why doesn't everyone do this??! (Please ignore the dirty chair seat in the bottom right corner. My children are mess ninjas.)

Then I realized I had enough leftover cake batter for another layer. At this point I was thinking 5 layers might be too much, so it was going to be my backup layer in case something went horribly wrong with one of the other layers. And considering my recent track record, I didn't think it was being too cautious. And that way I used up all five bowls so there.

Now my plan was to make homemade pizza for supper, but it was starting to look like I wasn't going to have time for the crust, so while my husband was out at the store I texted and asked him to pick up some frozen pizza dough or something. He asked why didn't I just use the actual frozen pizzas we had in the freezer? My husband, the genius. Saved me so much work right there.

Product placement:

Then I started assembling. I learned from past mistakes and the layers went pretty much straight into the fridge after coming out of the oven, since it seemed like last time part of the problem was they weren't completely completely COMPLETELY cooled. It was bad. So I wanted to avoid that. And it worked! I also cut off the rounded top so that it was nice and straight and flat.

Once I got to layer 4, I had to trim around because I had used 2 9-inch pans and 2 8-inch pans.

Leftover cakey goodness...

And all 5 layers stacked!! All nice and neat!! This was a major victory for me, if my husband hadn't been busy in the next room he would've totally laughed at how proudly I was strutting around the kitchen in triumph.

Not a professional level of smooth icing, but hey, nothing's falling over and it's pretty good, I'll take it. Other stroke of genius: plastic wrap on the cake tray!

Decorating ideas...that is a pair of overalls that the baby has outgrown. I like the flowers on them.

The top: Now I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out, but that's partly because of a rogue air bubble in the icing tube. Then I tried to fix it, and it didn't go as planned but then I had to continue or else it would look really weird. Oh well, not as bad as it really could have been.

I do really like the side though, notwithstanding the droopy-starting-to-melt flower center.

And after all that, I missed the money shot of the birthday girl with it, and I missed the shot of it with a piece cut out so you can see the layers, but it was all good.

The carnage after:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Did you know...

that if you soak a pencil crayon, the coloured shaft will swell up and split the wood?

extra fun if this happens in a sink full of soaking dishes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's not camping if you don't forget something.

We just got back yesterday from a week away visiting family and friends. My mother-in-law's family had a family reunion up in Edmonton, which is over 10 hours of driving away from where we live. We left on Wednesday, and stayed two nights with friends who live a few hours away, so that we could break up the huge trip a bit. That was really fun, they have a little boy who is about to turn one, and somehow he knew instinctively to be gentle in his curiosity with Sabrina, who's almost 8 months old, and yet he knew he could head-butt James, the two year old (AKA Wrecking-Ball Head).

Then on Friday, we left for Edmonton, getting there around suppertime. Hilariously, we ran into my husband's brother and his wife in Tim Horton's in Saskatoon, where we stopped for a potty break. Turns out, so did they! They had driven to Saskatoon the day before to break up the trip, and we totally coincidentally ran into them there. Of all the Tim Horton's, in all the world, they had to walk into we drove with them for the rest of the way. Sophia and James each got a turn riding in the car with them, which meant they got to discover watching movies IN THE CAR, which blew their little minds.

We got to the campsite, and learned that what we'd heard was true, this wasn't so much a campground as a place to park your RV while you golf. Kinda sad. But it did have horrific swarms of mosquitoes who drank bug spray for breakfast and carried small children and pets off to their nests for sport.

We spent a lot of time in my husband's parents' RV.

The family reunion was good, the family seemed to be really enjoying it, the people married into the family banded together in our collective ignorance of who most of the people were. But still fun. I saw proof for the first time that my 6'4" husband is one of the short cousins on that side.

Brunch to wind up the reunion Sunday morning, then we left to visit my brother and his wife and new little baby boy in Edmonton for a few days. We hadn't seen them since James (who, let me remind you, turned two in April) was 4 months old. Their little boy is 2 months old, and a tiny little sweetie. Sabrina could eat him for lunch, but she had a good head start on him weight-wise anyway. He could still make up a good amount of ground there.

We also were given a vivid reminder that I'm allergic to cats. My brother didn't believe me.

We also saw friends of mine who I haven't actually seen, other than facebook pictures, pretty much since their wedding 9 years ago. That was super fun.

Then we came home, this time making the whole trip all in one day. You know, my kids are actually pretty good travelers, not whining or crying or complaining very much at all. But that day was still pushing it.

And I'd been so conscientious to pack the camera, the charger, the spare battery, and everything. Oh except the memory card. I forgot that.