A 4th Birthday Party

This weekend our gorgeous boy turned 4. For ages we had been trying to work out what to do and how to celebrate it. Party or no party? He is only 4 after all. We saw packages at our favourite farm with soft play that seemed like a good deal but also ended up working out very expensive by the time you included all our friends’ children. Then we talked about doing something different. Taking him to cbeebies land or something as a treat instead. He’s so young, will he even remember a party at this age? Then I realised I can remember my 4th birthday party at a local community centre with a few friends and a fab cake my mum made.

My 4th Birthday way back :)

My 4th Birthday way back :)

Also, Monkey started asking for a party and asking for specific friends to come. In the couple of months leading to his birthday we have 6 family birthdays and about 10 friends with birthdays. It is a time with a lot of celebrations and lots of parties and cakes and blowing out candles. How could we deny our little Monkey a party of his own when we go to so many others?

I had to convince hubs slightly as he thought it would be too stressful. We went to a 4yr olds party a couple of years ago where there were lots of party games and any kid who lost was in tears and there was fighting over presents and it was a bit crazy! So we decided only a couple of simple games where everyone is the winner. They are so young after all and plenty of time to learn about being a good loser. Even keeping it really simple there was a lot to organise in the run up to the big day. It was fun but hard work too. We hired our local community centre for couple of hours for £24, bought a bubble machine and a laser light and then got some pirate themed bits and bobs.5_21_2016 7_35_30 PM

The kids were so happy running round chasing balloons and bubbles and having fun together. Thankfully the rain that was forecast held off and they were able to play outside. I had hidden some plastic coins outside and planned to do a treasure hunt.. But forgot and let the kids out to play. Haha oops! But they all enjoyed finding them anyway and were so proud of their treasure. We also bought some modelling balloons and set the parents to work making swords and flowers and anything else they could manage which was funny and well kids love balloons don’t they?5_21_2016 7_38_14 PM

We then did a pass the parcel which was funny as there were sweets in each layer and by the end they were all too busy chomping on sweets to care about playing and they all needed a lot of prompting! We also tried sleeping lions but that didn’t go down as well, some of the younger ones were just too young really.5_21_2016 7_44_23 PM

Food wise I just cooked some cheese pizzas beforehand and had pom bear crisps, popcorn and chopped strawberries and grapes.5_21_2016 7_41_38 PM

I made the cake and to be honest I probably could have bought a better one and it would have been much easier than the faff of making one and icing it etc…. But I remember loving the cakes my mum made us and even if they are rubbish I hope my kids remember the cakes I make in the same way. Monkey loved his cake today and it tasted nice so that’s all that matters really.IMG-20160521-WA0014

Overall the party went really well and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Later on at home we asked Monkey if he enjoyed his party. His response was

“I really really did so so much. ”

That makes it all worthwhile and I am so glad we did it.5_21_2016 7_56_00 PM

And then the fun began...MummascribblesBest of Worst

Preparations are under way

This last week since we came home from our lovely holiday has been all about preparations. Mainly, preparations for a little party as our gorgeous Monkey turns 4 this weekend! I will write a more specific post about our gorgeous boy but for now I can’t believe I have been a mummy for 4 years! This weekend we are celebrating. After a lot of uhhming and ahing about what we should do, we decided on a fairly simple and small party at the local community centre with some of his closest friends. We are having a pirate theme as he loves pirates and we have some really simple activities planned that I hope go well. I have spent a good chunk of this week getting ready for said party. I have party bags and favours and sweets and I need to wrap up a pass the parcel game.WP_20160519_13_47_40_Pro

Even LM has gotten involved in the preparations today by “helping” me bake Monkey’s birthday cake. By this I mean she had a great time getting in a good old mess with flour and sugar while I baked as she isn’t really much of a help at the moment.lM baking

There is still quite a bit to sort even for our “simple, low-key” party so I am glad we didn’t try and plan anything more extravagant. Monkey is so looking forward to his party though, which is why we are doing one, and I really hope he enjoys it and it all goes off without a hitch.

WP_20160519_13_51_39_ProThere have been other preparations also underway this week. A while ago Hubs dislocated his knee, and after an MRI scan and hospital visits we discovered it was due to some torn cartilage which would need an operation to repair. We didn’t know when this would happen but suddenly received a call this week with a cancellation meaning he would have his operation next Thursday! It is good to get it out of the way but we have had to cancel and rearrange a few things and have been getting ready for that really. Reading up on the procedure and what the recovery will mean etc. Hopefully it on’t be too bad as it is pretty minor surgery really, but I am nervous as to how it will go and how much less he will be able to do with the kids for a bit. Only time will tell I guess!

Anyway back to the party prep for me. How has your week been?

The Reading Residence

Birthday Celebrations

My word this week is a great one, it is Celebrations, because we have had a week full of birthday celebrations!

Last week my little big boy Monkey turned 3! Sadly the poor thing was terribly poorly (believe me, poorly could easily have been this week’s word too as we have all been suffering) with a stonking cold and conjunctivitis, so it was a very chilled out birthday at home with a visit from his grandparents for lunch and an uncle & aunt in the early evening.

Monkey birthday 1

Saturday was the big celebration though with lots of family round for his party. He was so excited bless him and even though he was nowhere near 100% he was feeling a lot better, though by then poor hubs was really suffering. I made a Lightning McQueen cake, which didn’t work out quite as I hoped it would, but you could tell what it was meant to look like and Monkey loved it (and everyone said it tasted nice) so that’s all that matters.

Monkey's birthday party

It was a lovely family day with yummy food and lots of fun :) Monkey was a lucky boy with lots of very lovely pressies and lots of attention from all his favourite people. We spent most of the time inside until Monkey commanded that we all went outside. “Let’s go outside, with Mummy and Daddy and Lots of Family!” When people weren’t forthcoming he stood in the doorway shouting “come on everybody!” lol love him.

Sunday was a fairly chilled day at home then Monday saw more birthday celebrations for my Father-in-law’s birthday. Another lovely happy family day at Grangranny and Granddaddy’s house.

Before we left we had got out a bag of hand-me-down clothes for LM who is growing all the time and found this gorgeous little tutu. I just couldn’t resist dressing her in it and she looked so cute in it! Granny loved her little pink princess and LM was so good even though she was really coming down with the cold by then and had conjunctivitis too.Granddaddy's birthday

Thursday saw the celebrations continue with one of Monkey’s friends turning 4 and a birthday party at a soft play centre. It got off to a very bad start with Monkey throwing the mother of all tantrums as he didn’t want to go. He screamed continuously in the car and made himself sick. I was so stressed and so angry…. but thankfully he perked up a little when he saw some friends and a piece of cake later he was much better and had great fun on the soft play. All that stress and hassle for absolutely no reason, toddlers eh?

Thankfully two of my best Mummy friends were there (we missed our very heavily pregnant friend that makes up our foursome but at nearly 40wks pregnant she understandably couldn’t make it!) and they helped remind me that they have had days like it with their kids recently too and as always it’s just nice to support each other. LM was cute again in her tutu and it was fun, though obviously ever so slightly chaotic with a bunch of kids at soft play! I was shattered by the end of it but Monkey was happy and we did have a lovely time so I am very glad we went.

soft play party 2

This marks the end of a couple of months full of birthdays of family members and friends. In April we have 6 and in May there are 8! (there may be a 9th depending on when my friend’s baby arrives) So it is full of fun but also is a lot of birthdays in a short space of time. There are only 2 in June and none in July so I have to admit it will be nice to have less birthdays to think about for a while.

Do you have a time of year where there are more birthdays than any other?

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Daddy’s Birthday

It was Daddy’s birthday on Wednesday and it also marked our first outing as a family of 4! I was feeling like a bit of a rubbish wife in the run up to Hub’s birthday. With Little Miss arriving a week ahead of schedule all my plans basically went out of the window. One of his presents ordered early hadn’t arrived (we knew it was a long lead time so wasn’t a huge shock) and when I eventually got round to ordering the trousers he wanted, they didn’t have his size in stock online :(. I had planned on baking cakes and doing all sorts but none of which happened!

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My Birthday Cake

Yes, I made my own birthday cake. Before I go any further I will say that my lovely hubby did offer to make it, or we could have bought one, but I said no. I wanted to make my birthday cake, and I will tell you why.

Regular readers will know that I recently went to a cake decorating masterclass with Cake Boss Buddy Valastro. At the class, I was basically just having a bit of fun and the cake I decorated was a right mess if truth be told! When we left we were given a decorating set from the Cake Boss range, and I decided that I would like to decorate my birthday cake, using the set. Partly to make use of the set, and partly to prove to myself (and the world) that I am capable of decorating a cake slightly better than the one I did at the masterclass!

We were having a birthday BBQ on the Saturday after my birthday, so on Friday, Monkey and I did a lot of baking. Or at least, I did a lot of baking while he basically ate quite a lot of butter and sugar. He was happily occupied at least!

I made a huge batch of cake mix, all following a very simple recipe. To make a fairly small batch (for 12 cupcakes or a fairly thin layer of sponge) you would follow this recipe.

4oz Self Raising Flour
1 tsp baking powder
4oz soft Marge or butter (I use Stork)
4oz Caster Sugar
2 Large eggs
2-3 drops Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 170°C

Put all in a bowl and whisk with electric whisk until smooth and light. (Yep it is THAT simple!)

Bake 30 mins for cake, or 25 mins for cupcakes. Should be golden and bounce back if pressed gently in the middle) 

I made 4 times that amount, made a huge cake, in two layers, and 24 cupcakes.

Then I made lots of lovely buttercream icing, using this recipe: (I made a double batch for my cake and cupcakes)

110g Unsalted Butter at room temperature
60ml Semi-skimmed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g sifted Icing sugar

Beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth – can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer.

Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.

If you want different colours – your best bet is to add gel food colouring otherwise the consistency gets a lot sloppier and harder to work with.

On Friday night I dirty iced the cake (or applied a ‘crumb coat’) ready for some fondant. Now I didn’t do quite as cake boss would recommend. I didn’t trim the cake to make it flat (I did plan to cut off the tops of the sponge, but it felt too much like a waste of cake!) and I don’t really have the smoothing tools he mentions in his book. I did pipe the icing onto the cake before spreading with a spatula though, and I have to say that was much easier. Normally i am dragging it all over the place and there is crumbs sticking to the icing everywhere, and it basically looks a bit rubbish. Piping the buttercream onto the cake, and then spreading with a spatula, worked a LOT better!

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I made some different coloured buttercream for decorating the cupcakes and used a couple of the tips we already had for piping the decorations on. It started off quite well, and I was really pleased with myself.

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Then somehow, it went wrong. I know they say a bad workman always blames his tools but honestly something went weird with the piping tips. I used exactly the same technique from moments before, but they went from looking like this…

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to this…

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What? How? Oh I don’t know, but they look like I suddenly got drunk while piping, and well, as I am 3 months pregnant, I don’t think that happened. Anyway, hey ho, they will all taste the same!

I had planned on finishing the cake on the Friday night too but this had annoyed me somewhat and by now I was tired and irritable and eventually conceded the point to hubby and agreed it may be more sensible to finish icing the cake the following morning!

Feeling fresh on Saturday I set about decorating my cake. Unlike at the masterclass where I just went all guns blazing with no clear idea in my head, this time I had a vague design idea.

I started with the white fondant, which seemed to go ok, although I did make a bit of a mess on the sides of the cake.

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Thankfully I planned on putting a thick band of icing round this bit, which will hide it but I managed to patch it up a little.

Then I cut some ribbons using the handy cutting tool from the set, and applied round the base of the cake (handily hiding my previous errors!).

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The set comes with lots of different shaped cutters, but I chose to just use the star shapes for my cake. So I cut out lots of stars in the different coloured fondant and applied to the cake.

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I don’t think I was very delicate with the stars as they look a little more like star fish than stars as they are all wavy, but they still look quite pretty! We’d bought some gel icing pens for writing on the cake with, so I had a little practice, and actually found them really easy to use!

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So Ouila! My Birthday Cake and cupcakes! Not perfect and my writing on the cake was a little wonky but overall I was quite pleased. I was pretty chuffed with them, and everyone said they tasted yummy, so a big success overall I think!

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I used the Cake Boss circus kit to make my birthday cake, which retails at £25.00. I received the kit free but all words and opinions are my own.

 

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