Saturday, July 5, 2014

Birthday, Interrupted

Jacob turned six two weeks ago.  We had another family birthday party the day after his actual birthday, and despite our best efforts to get a party together the following weekend, it just didn't happen.  Some people were busy, others were out of town, and nothing really worked great for everyone.  So, rather than just have a party with a handful of people, we had to get creative.  We decided to just bring a cake to my family's 4th of July picnic (which was already claimed by other family members, in case you're wondering why we didn't just host it), and celebrate there.  I figured attendance would be better and he'd appreciate the bigger crowd of voices singing to him.  Then, we planned on having Craig's family (just his parents and his brother's family) here today so Jacob could enjoy having his cousins here on his turf.  We're at their house and Craig's parents' house a lot, but I think he enjoys this annual opportunity to do things on his terms, with his own stuff.  So, that was the plan. 

The bad news is that we didn't firm up Saturday's plan until mid-week, so not only did that mean a lot of last minute planning and shopping, but it also meant that I had to do two cakes in two days!  As you know from my history, I don't take the cake thing lightly.  If there's anything I try to do well for a party, it's the cake.  But two in two days?  Yikes.  Still, we hatched a plan, and I needed to make it work.  I shopped and baked Thursday night, did some cake frosting and decorating in the morning, and by lunch time we headed out to Buffalo.  I needed to finish the cake there, just so nothing got ruined by the long drive. 

At the picnic, Jacob had a couple presents to open from my parents.  He got a pair of goggles, as well as this gift...
Ladder golf!  Unfortunately, the construction was pretty shoddy and my mom decided she should return it and try to find something better.  But it was fun while it lasted...
While the ladder golf was being constructed, Jacob played lacrosse.  My cousin Brian joined in, and it was pretty funny to watch...

Is it just me, or is Jacob suddenly looking like such a big boy?

So, back to the cake.  Jacob had gone back and forth, but in the end he settled on a hockey cake.  I figured it was easy enough, and sure enough, it wasn't bad.  The name brand gluten free cake mix was fine and it came together pretty nicely.  I did all of the frosting and the goal creases at home, then marked off where the rest of the lines and circles would be with a toothpick (so much easier to fix if you don't like the placement--we changed the creases once and the faceoff circles twice!).  Jacob had a couple minor meltdowns about the look--originally he wanted colorless, square creases (like in the old days) and he wanted a couple other details that just wouldn't fit, but in the end we worked through them and I was very happy with the result...

Once we were satisfied with the decorations, we added the finishing touches...
We just happen to have a large supply of hockey guys.  Note the penguin referee, as well...
Jacob was so excited about the cake and kept saying that I was the best mom and the best cake maker ever,  That felt pretty good, I won't lie.  I get a lot of the opposite most of the time, so it was good to hear and it was great to see him so excited.  He couldn't wait to get the hockey guys on, and he was so excited to be sung to. 

See, big boy...right?
The cake was good but there were so many other desserts at the party (including a cake that looked like a flag on the inside when it was cut!) so we ended up bringing a LOT home.  So much for getting back in shape!

Jacob played a pretty outstanding game of ladder golf, but by then my mom determined it wasn't quite hardy enough for Jacob's standard of play.  As she was taking it apart, Carter was playing peek-a-boo through the ladder...

We left around 8:30 and got home around 10.  The boys went right down to bed (Carter slept on the way home), and I got back to baking.  I had a near disaster with the cake for today--I used Wegmans' gluten-free mix for this cake and it didn't go as well.  Part of that could have been the pan I used (I used a ceramic casserole dish because I don't have a square cake pan) and part of the cake stuck to the dish pretty badly.  The cake was still pretty warm so I just stuck the piece back in overnight and stuffed it in the freezer for a bit this morning before the crumb coat of frosting.  That piece actually stuck in pretty well, but then I realized that the cake sunk in the middle pretty badly.  But then I realized that yesterday's cake had domed when I baked it, and I'd trimmed that part off to flatten the layers out.  I took a few of those pieces (never mind that they were chocolate and today's cake was white) and filled in the sinkhole.  It worked like a charm, miraculously. 

The rest of the cake was so-so.  I couldn't get the blue frosting dark enough, I couldn't get it smooth enough, and I was having a hard time with the marshmallow accents.  Jacob actually came in and suggested I make them shorter, so I pulled them back off the cake, cut them with scissors, and smoothed things out again.  It was a solid suggestion, though...he was right.  Anyway, it's probably hard to tell, but any idea what this is?

Maybe this picture will help...

Give up?  It's a square Lego.  It was fine, but not my best.  I needed a design that was fairly simple and not too big since we didn't have a huge crew today, and this fit the bill.  If I do another one someday I will definitely work on my technique...and get better pans.  But Jacob was a good sport about it...

I got together a pretty good picnic feast...burgers and dogs, baked beans, salt potatoes, baked rotini, my famous broccoli-cheese-rice casserole, lots of berries, and a giant watermelon.  The kids nearly wiped out the latter two items long before we ate!  The boys swam and played lacrosse before we ate.  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, but things we pretty well under control and I did get a chance to enjoy the gorgeous day and spend some time with the family.

After dinner and singing Jacob opened a couple gifts...one that he really wanted...
Slip-n-slide baseball!
He also got a really cool basketball hoop for the back of his bedroom door, complete with a cool backboard!

And once we had eaten the cake, the boys headed out to try out the slip-n-slide!  They had to be so cold because it was getting cooler by then.  But that didn't stop them from playing for quite a while! 
Jacob stepping up to the plate!

Now Jacob's pitching, with a runner on third!
All in all it was a great couple days.  We're all pretty exhausted, and poor Carter is probably so sick of being rushed out of the kitchen while I was working!  Thank goodness we have another day to recover this weekend...we all need it!  But it was great to get some family time and crank out another 1-1/2 successful cakes :)  We still haven't made it to a real fireworks display on the 4th in a very long time, but one of these years!  Despite the, ummmm, unofficial fireworks display still going off down the street, I'm off to bed...I've earned it!

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