Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kids Cakes Galore!

I may be the reluctant chef, but I know my way around a box of cake mix and a can of frosting!

Although I am not one to prepare three-course (or two-course for that matter) luxury meal for my family, every few months I focus my culinary energy into creating a child's dream birthday cake. Start with a box or two of Dr. Oetker's cake mix, add a few eggs, some milk and oil, and a disgusting amount of food coloring, and a half hour later I have what I need to impress all the three-year-olds!  

Maisy's 1st Birthday- Maisy Mouse (of course).
  • Start with a large rectangular cake pan.
  • Trace a blown-up image onto wax paper.  Place on top of cake and use a serrated knife to cut out the image.  
  • Frost and place black twizzlers for whiskers.

Alma's 3rd Birthday- Tinkerbell
  • Start with a large rectangular cake pan.
  • Trace one butterfly wing onto wax paper.  Place on one half of cake and use serrated knife to cut the shape out of the cake.  Flip and do the same for the opposite wing.
  • Decorate
  • Place Tink in the center.

Maisy's 2nd Birthday- Hello Kitty
  • Start with a large rectangular cake pan.
  • Trace Hello Kitty's head onto wax paper.  Place on top of cake and use serrated knife to cut the shape out. 
  • Decorate
  • Use black Twizzlers for whiskers.

Elana's 4th Birthday- Princesses vs Dragons
  • This is basically a poor woman's attempt to create this.

Poppy's 4th Birthday- Ariel
  • Start with a Wilton Wonder Cake Mold
  •  Bake an extra round cake and place underneath to give the cake more vertical lift.
  • Use candy circles for decoration.
  • Green frosting gel comprises Ariel's tail.
  • Ariel is inserted into the top of the cake in lieu of the Wilton doll torso.

Poppy's 5th Birthday- Paint Splatter Party

  • Start with a large round cake pan.  
  • Frost
  • Use fondant to add colored splatters and a paint brush.

Elana's 5th Birthday- Rainbow Fairies!

  • Start with a large rectangular cake pan.
  • Trace one butterfly wing onto wax paper.  Place on one half of cake and use serrated knife to cut the shape out of the cake.  Flip and do the same for the opposite wing.
  • Decorate- I cut out shapes using rolled fondant and added as decoration.
  • Place a fairy in the center.
Maisy's 3rd Birthday- Mermaids
  • This is by far my favorite cake-impressive looking and rather easy (the ocean doesn't need to be smooth like most cake tops).
  • Start with a large circular cake pan.
  • Create the rock shape by baking a second cake in a Wilton Wonder Cake Mold.
  • Frost the large circular cake with an ocean blue icing.  
  • Place "rock" on top and frost with gray icing.
  • Use green gel icing to draw seaweed.
  • Sprinkle the ocean floor with blue and green sugar pearls
  • Allow the mermaid to recline on her sunny throne.

Alma's 5th Birthday- Nutcracker Ballet
  • Bake two cakes using one small and one medium round cake pan.
  • Frost with a simple white icing.
  • Using hot pink rolled fondant and a pizza cutter, drape 1/2 inch thick strips of pink on the sides of the cake.  
  • Add peppermints and your ballerina of choice.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When Parents Have to Choose- Heidi's Story

Heidi is one of those women who always knew she was going to be a mother. I first met her in elementary school when we were 8 years old. Back then she cared for her Cabbage Patch Kids as though they were made of skin, not cloth. During a high school health project, she dutifully attended to twin five-pound sacks of sugar, never letting a rip spoil their C&H packaging. Heidi was a mother long before she was ever pregnant.

We grew up together, in our small Oregon town where everyone knows everyone and news travels quickly. So, in 2005, when Heidi married Carl, the neighborhood knew they were trying to grow their family -- and that they were having trouble. The journey that followed, though unique in its particulars, is also universal. It is one that so many parents find themselves on in this medical moment where technology can do many things, but not everything."

Read the rest here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What's with the Band-Aids?

At some point in early childhood children are taught, I blame grandmothers, that band-aids are miracle cure-alls, harnessing the ability to to heal any bump, bruise, scrape, and the stray pinch from a sibling.  And, as is typical with toddlers, rational explanations of the contrary are futile. Currently our newly three-year-old daughter, Maisy, requests somewhere between two and five bandages a day- with at least one appeal between the hours of midnight and four AM. 
Looks can be deceiving.
Here is a transcript of last night's plea.

Maisy: "Mom!  Mom!  Mooooooom!  Rhiana!!!!  I hurt myself."  (Since it was 2:30 in the morning, I am not quite sure how many times she bellowed "Mom."  I'm guessing that it was at least a dozen.)

I scramble out of bed cursing loudly after banging my knee into the sharp corner of the bedframe, and slowly amble down the hallway to her room.  Once I am there, I step on a small plastic My Little Pony brush with my bare left foot, curse again, then hobble on my right to her bedside. 

Me: "What's wrong, Maisy?"

Maisy: "I hurt my toe.  I need a Band-Aid."

Me: "How did you hurt it?"

Maisy: "It touched the pillow."

Me: "Well, it isn't bleeding, so you don't need a Band-Aid."

Maisy: "Yes I do!  It hurts!!! Wahhhhh!" 

Me: "Maisy, go to sleep.  You are fine."

I give the toddler a quick kiss on the forehead, tuck her back in with her cozy special white blanket, and make a quick exit.  I am not more than half way down the hall when she begins to cry again.

Maisy: "Mommy, owee, owee, owee!  It hurts!"

Desperate to lay my head back down, I silently unearth a band-aid from the junk drawer and hand it to the toddler.

Maisy: "Nooooo, not that one!  That one is scary!"  (I think that she find the Scooby Doo ones scary only because they have a blue background- versus a pink or purple one.)

Knowing that this exchange would continue at least another fifteen minutes if I choose stand my ground, I rummage around the drawer once more for the Hello Kitty bandages.

Me: "Ok, Maisy.  Here you go.  Now go to sleep."  I carefully wrap the bright pink kitty and flower adorned band-aid around her big toe and give her another kiss good-night.

And, as I am about shut her door I hear her call out so sweetly, "Mom, it is all better, you can take it off now."  She has won... again.