Zoe’s 2nd birthday party was heaps of fun. Friends, family and lots of kids got together for a celebration over brunch and bubbles.
Thanks to the two bubble blowers Angela and Juji, the kids had a great time chasing bubbles around the gazebo. It got a bit chaotic for a while. Bubbles make kids really excited!
They also played in the sandpit for a good while. Zoe’s big sister Ruby (almost 3-and-a-half) worked industriously in the corner and stopped for just a moment to tell me she was “making a banana cake”. It was a very hot day, so the kids were slathered with sunscreen and given hats to wear. And they got through a lot of water and fruit juice.
My brother built the sandpit – I think he’s very clever. I wish I could build things people can actually use! Looking at the sandpit I wouldn’t have thought you could fit seven kids comfortably in it, but I was wrong!
It even has storage space for toys and accessories (sorry to go on, but I was very impressed with his handiwork).
Everyone brought a dish to share for brunch. Jac and I supplied three kinds of chipolatas – pork and beef, with tomato and chilli sauces, and chicken, with smokey barbecue sauce.
We cooked the chipolatas in the oven, though for some reason the pork ones didn’t seem to be browning up – so Jac quickly tossed them in a frying pan. Those pork chipolatas were especially tasty.
My sister CW assembled a lovely antipasto platter with olives, almonds, cheese, ham, Twiggy sticks and crisp pickles.
There were sandwiches with different fillings (these are just some of the many sandwiches)…
…and bread rolls with butter and cheese.
It wouldn’t be a family party without a big batch of my mum’s stir-fried noodles. Most of the kids loved eating the noodles and many ended up with sauce-streaked faces.
The fresh fruit (rockmelon, watermelon, red and green seedless grapes) was served on ice.
This was my plate.
The girls sat together to eat their brunch and were soon joined by the other kids. Zoe got changed back into her dress after a little play in the pool, but Ruby kept her rashie and board shorts on.
I watched as Ruby opened up her bread roll, ate all the cheese and carefully licked all the butter off the bread. Later on, when Zoe had finished all the food on her plate, I chuckled to see her grabbing the bread roll off Ruby’s plate and eating it although it was cheeseless and ahem, not very buttery! Ruby didn’t mind her little sister eating her bread roll – after all, she’d eaten all the “good” bits already!
Birthday cake time! Zoe’s mum Angela made “boy bear” chocolate crackles and her Auntie Juji made “girl bear” chocolate cupcakes! Ruby watched as her mum and aunties got the cakes out of the fridge ready to sing happy birthday.
This is the story of how Zoe chose her birthday cake(s), as told by Angela:
Before Zoe’s birthday, I sat with her and went through the whole Women’s Weekly party cake book. I expected her to point out something she liked but she was completely silent and thoughtful the whole time. I would have put money on her picking a tiger cake – like Millie (Zoe’s toy tiger) – or a dog or cat as she loves both of those.
But we got to the end and I asked her what her favourite was and she said “Bear”. I was like, “Teddy bear?” and showed her the three teddy bear options. Zoe said “No, bear” so we went back through the book and she stopped me at the little girl bear cupcake. I said “Ok” and Zoe stopped me and said “More” and flicked across a couple of pages to the boy bear cupcakes. And so that’s what we made.
Juji offered to do some baking so she made the girl bear cupcakes and brought them over and decorated them with Ruby and Zoe’s help before the party. Thinking about it afterwards I realised that one of Zoe’s favourite books is ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ and she loves the bear at the end, so that’s probably the inspiration.
I’m not sure if Zoe quite understood the whole birthday candle ritual, but she knew something important was happening. She watched intently with her dad holding onto her as her mum lit the two candles.
She was mesmerised! In the end after we had all sung happy birthday, her mum and dad helped blow out the candles. See the other little hands waiting impatiently for cake, along the edge of the table?
As soon as the candles were removed, the kids swarmed in. Most of the kids started with cupcakes, then moved onto crackles. Regular readers may remember how much Ruby loved chocolate crackles at Zoe’s 1st birthday party. You can really see how much the girls have grown, especially how different Zoe looks at age 1 compared to age 2, when you look at the photos on that post.
The original “boy bear” recipe was for cupcakes, but Ange made the boy bears as chocolate crackles instead. She makes chocolate crackles using Cadbury chocolate and rice bubbles only (no cocoa or copha). She used Milk Melts, chocolate buttons, mini M&Ms and cut up jubes to decorate them.
After demolishing a cupcake and a crackle, Ruby told me gleefully that chocolate crackles are her favourite.
Zoe took her time to really savour her girl bear cupcake. Jac and I shared a crackle and a cupcake. Both were tasty, but I must say I love butter cream icing.
I can see why the girls ended up with happy chocolatey faces!
Juji took this photo – she said “Smile, Zoe!” Everyone should be this happy on their birthday!
Caleb will be able to join in soon! Watch out, girls! The next family celebration will be Caleb’s full moon.
Someone said to me recently that the kids won’t remember any of these parties when they’re older. It doesn’t matter if that’s true. 1. Right now, they have a great time, get to play with other kids and feel happy and loved – and I think that’s what’s important. 2. When they’re older, there will be plenty of photographs for them to look at, if they want to.
Do you have any great memories of parties or birthday cakes you had as a child?
I like looking at the photos from my second or third birthday, of my two older sisters and me posing with my birthday cake made by Mum in the shape of a cat with a smiley face made from Smarties.
But my all-time favourite birthday cake which I still think about with fondness is the farmyard cake with chocolate fingers for the fence and green-coloured desiccated coconut for the grass and our special set of plastic farm animals on top. Mum kept the farm animal set with the other baking things – we did not play with it! The farm animal set made an exclusive appearance only when there was a birthday farmyard cake being made. I remember helping to sprinkle the “grass” onto the cake and so carefully arranging my favourite animals of the set on it – the little plastic chickens and ducks.
And on the topic of birthday cakes, the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake book (the recipe for my farmyard cake is in that book!) has been reprinted again due to popular demand. Melbourne Gastronome has written a great post about it, with fantastic photos.