Friday, August 26, 2011

Star Wars Birthday Party

I really didn't intend to take so long to post this. Hopefully you're still interested. Maybe.

When I posted pictures of that epic failure of a cake last week my husband saw it on my blog and said it looked like a giant marshmallow. Hmmm. Instead of trying to turn it into Jabba the Hut (which I thought about) or tossing it into the pond (which I did) I should have just sprayed some yellow and brown food coloring on that bad boy, pretended it was always supposed to be an awesome roasted marshmallow cake and called it a day.

Luckily tragedy was avoided by creating a cake of epic proportions capable of distracting from questions like, 'what happened to that r2d2 cake you were going to make?'.

I found the greatest (and easiest) recipe for a chocolate cake. Ever. Which you can find right here. It's moist, super chocolately and absolutely ridiculous which I believe is inarguably the way to go with birthday cake. Plus, you need simple ingredients - everything is pictured above - and no one will know you used a mix. Trust me. And try not to eat the batter. It will be hard. Just keep telling yourself there are raw eggs in there. Maybe that'll work for you.

I also learned a really neat trick while baking this cake. I was using a 10" round, 3" deep cake pan which "requires" a heating core. I hate those things. Don't you? Anyway, I didn't want to use one. Partly because I'm stubborn and partly because I didn't want a gigantic hole in the center of my cake. I needed to put a larger dowel in the center of the cake to attach r2's head to, well I didn't actually get that far, but keep in mind this is all happening while I'm still delusional enough to think I can pull off this amazing cake. Anyway, the large hole down the center paired with that dowel down the center would've been a bit like toilet paper rolling around on a toilet paper holder. And no comments on how it actually turned out looking like a large roll of toilet paper either. I'm trying to tell you about a trick I learned.

Anyway, it turns out, all you have to do is insert one of those rose nails (the metal ones) in the bottom of your pan. It conducts the heat without leaving a gapping hole. How about that! I played it safe and baked the cake per the mix directions referring to the bunt pan cooking times then lowered my temp to 325° and finished baking in 5 - 10 min incriments. Checking it each time.

Find cool pics of Star Wars images and make up clever names for Star Wars inspired drinks. Create in photoshop making about 8" to 8.5" wide but be careful not to extend your images all the way to the top or bottom unless you've left a small border around it because it will get slightly cut off during printing. I did two labels per page. Have them printed on 12 point paper - glossy card stock. I had mine printed at Office Max for around $5. Remove soda labels and apply your labels with a spray adhesive. Anything else and they will fall off. Not cool.

Make your own invites. Find high res (by searching Google images) Star Wars backgrounds and add text. It's that simple. Remember, when having it printed make sure to size it like 4.75 x 6.75 or something like that so that none of your coolness gets cut off during printing. Save it as a .pdf and take it to your printers. Again, I used the 12 point or glossy card stock. Don't know how to prep for printing? Save it as a .jpeg image and let the folks at your printer's do the rest.

Make your own Thank You notes. They're cuter and more personal. Create a blank document in photoshop (or similar program). I wanted a 4 x 6 note so my measurements were something like 3.75 x 5.75. If you change the largest number and keep a check in the constraint proportions box, it will automatically change both number and that's the safest way to go. I added my photo on top of another red square so it would have a nice border and added text. I put his name in the bottom corner but left some space on the left for him to write his friend's name. If your child is like mine and doesn't like to write more than he has to but you're like me and you're bound and determined that he will, this is a good compromise. I didn't make him write an entire note but I did want him to write something. This way we were both happy. These I just took down to Wal-Mart and printed them myself from the self-serve printer. They were ready in 8 mins and cost me about two bucks.

We rented a waterslide so naturally I thought they should also have some pool noodles to beat each other silly with.

I made some "lightsaber" pool noodles using Chrome duct tape, black duct tape and red duct tape. An easy trick to cut duct tape into shapes, especially circles, is to put it on wax paper (the shiny side) and then make the cut. BUT make sure you put the tape on the wax paper and immediately make the cut otherwise the tape will be permanently stuck to the paper which completely defeats the purpose.

I cut pool noodles in half so one noodle equals two lightsabers. I wrapped the bottoms of the noodles in Chrome, cut black strips for the handle and cut circles for the button.

I can't lie and say I'm not disappointed that some of the things (ok, the cake!) didn't turn out exactly as I planned but something tells me that he couldn't possible have cared any less. And that's the point, really, isn't it.

It was a good party. Vader agrees.

Here are some free printables for you. If you want to use them, click on the pic to open it up then download. If you'd like more info on how I used them see my previous post, Confessions of a Chronic DIYer.

Enjoy & May the Force Be With You,

Linking up ......

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Confessions of a Chronic DIYer

It's okay to ask for help.

It's okay to let someone else do it.

It's okay to buy it from someone instead of making it.

You can't do it all.


I try to take this advice. I really do. Sometimes. But, let's face it, most of the time I just completely ignore it. And the problem is I get rewarded often enough that it encourages me to keep doing it.

For example, I saw similar chocolate lollipops selling on Etsy for $25 per dozen. Twenty five dollars! That's like $2 each. Craziness. So I found some similar used molds on ebay and made my own. They were yummy, too. Success!

Then there's the printables...I've never done a printable. Ever. But I did figure out how to make banners with Photoshop a few years back when I saw what everyone who knew how to make them was going to charge me if I didn't. That all came flying back when I realized if I wanted a personalized Star Wars invite I was going to have to pay $14.00 for it....for a digital file. I just couldn't do it. Now I know the person on the other end of that $14 took the time to design it so I'm not saying it isn't worth it. But, still. I figured if I could make a banner, making a printable wouldn't be a big stretch. The guys at Office Max were quite helpful in this area, too.

And the drink labels....

The Food...

The boys' shirts...

And then there was the cake....


I wanted to make this cake. Now. I'm not crazy enough to think my cake would turn out this good. I mean, I'm not delusional. I know I'm not the Cake Boss. But I honestly believed I could make something that looked enough like R2D2 that my soon-to-be 8 year old would be impressed on his birthday.

I bought all this stuff. I fretted over the fondant because: a) I haven't worked with it enough, b) I had never put it on a cake this size before and c) that junk's expensive!

Things started out really well....

The one thing I didn't think through was the fact that I do not have one of those amazing machines that rolls out large sheets of fondant for you so I was forced to roll out a 30" diameter circle by hand. And it was when I picked up that giant fondant circle that I knew I was in trouble.

It weighed like a million pounds. I knew what would happen next and sure enough.....

Needless to say, I would've had to go with more of a Jaba the Hut look for this cake than R2D2 and we could spend the rest of the day talking about what I might've done wrong (namely, bit off more than I could chew) but, really, what good would that do?

I promptly threw this cake in the pond and signed myself up for the Fondant and Gum Paste class down at the Hobby Lobby.

The good news is, the party was a success even if the R2D2 cake wasn't. Star Wars Party post coming soon complete with recipes, free printables and lots of fun ideas for your little Jedi!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Georgia Aquarium

Sometimes it's easy to forget all of the cool things in your own "backyard".

The Georgia Aquarium is only about 4 hours away and well worth the trip.

I think jellyfish are some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet.

This little creature is pretty beautiful, too.

I was amazed at what a good time he seemed to be having even though I thought he'd be way too young to enjoy it.

The fish swimming overhead intriqued him.

The upside down jellyfish intriqued me.

So did the whale shark. His mouth is 4 - 5ft wide but his throat is only about the size of a quarter. He doesn't eat anything in this aquarium.

UPS delivers whale sharks. Just FYI in case you're considering one.

Someone better buy me the scuba tour for my birthday!

These Rays were huge.


I know I must be weird but I really like sharks. Of course, one has never tried to taste me so I guess it's easy to say on that side of things.

He thinks they're cool too but every time we read the Shark Encyclopedia before bed he asks to sleep with me.

Look Pax! Some one's waving at you in there!

Cherished Memories


Hey Look! It's Patrick!

Giant Japanese Spider Crabs. Do they give you the hebejebes?

My favorite, The Beluga.

Crawl through the tunnels to watch the River Otters. I did.
Don't punk out like most of the other adults. You can so fit in the tunnel. I did.

Ever wanted to pet a Sting Ray? Go ahead. They don't mind. They feel a little slimy though.

Momma, why is that alligator white?

The "coolest thing in here": The Electric Eel

The coolest boy in here: Mr. B

Even if the Georgia Aquarium isn't in your backyard, you really should go. Did you know they even do sleepovers? I might have to get in on that. That and the scuba dive. By the way, my birthday's in September.
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