Sometimes, I feel like all I do is birthdays.
No, that’s not entirely true. It’s that I insist on having several parties for each child and it simply adds up.
Anyhoo, after two or so months of crazy moving chaos, and still enduring trips to Ikea and Bunnings and Spotlight to overwhelm ourselves entirely and then attempt to put stuff together, I decided Chippie needed to have his birthday party sooner rather than later.
Yes, yes, I know. I don’t actually have to host parties. They don’t actually have to have a party, much less two each.
Except, well, except they do.
Because I have a pathological love of parties and even when I have very stern words to myself about them not actually needing, as in matter-0f-life-or-death if they don’t have one and ‘they’ll get over it’ and ‘we’ll have a cake at home and that’ll be adequate’ and all those other sensible things, a little voice in my head pops up and says “But … but … party” and my resolve collapses and before you know it there’s fucking chocolate ganache all over the kitchen floor, cakes in tins over every available surface in the kitchen and I’m frantically trying to find candles, only to run out at the last minute to by another pack of eight … no, wait, I better get twelve … no, hang on, I’ll just get the pack of 24 cos I’ll need them for the next party I’m not having … and then I grab two packs, and get home and the 807 candles I have purchased over the last two years under the same circumstances miraculously appear …
So, yes, we have parties. A kids/friends party, and then the family. Usually over two days, but being realistic this year, I opted for one after the other.
Having been requested to make a Volcano Cake, I looked blankly for a bit before Grumpy made a very sensible suggestion, followed by Chippie providing explicit details about how this cake is to look; dinosaurs stuck in mud, lots of lava and if it could be erupting, that’d be great.
Oh, and the cake had to be chocolate inside.
“I’ll make a mud cake,” I tell Chippie of the impending birthday.
He gives me a blank look. Then frowns a little. Then says “No!”
Am a little taken aback, for two reasons. One, I like my mud cake. Like, I really, really like it.
Secondly, there are two kind of cake I make; butter cake and mud cake. I don’t want butter cake cos it is boring, and if I can’t do mud, well, basically, we’re fucked and there is no cake.
“Make it chocolate inside. But don’ put mud in it,” he instructs.
Ah, right … now I’m on the same page.
I make a double mix of mud cake recipe, and divide it between the two tins.
As it’s cooking, I’m being given a load of further instructions. There are to be bones in the cake. Also, lava bursting out of the cake. And fire balls. Lots of fire balls, exploding up into the air.
“Um ….” I say and am torn between loving that he thinks I’m so freaking wonderful, and terrified that I’m going to fuck him up for life (or, you know, fuck him up even more) because I am so not that freaking wonderful and will let him down.
I learnt a loooong time ago to let go of the perfection with the making of cakes, do as much as I can do with the skills I have (limited) and just enjoy the process. Most times, I come out ahead. Most times.
I make some orange jelly, which is no where near enough.
I open the pack of dinosaur lollies, to give myself some fuel to complete my construction. I notice there are some white dinosaur lollies in there, and moosh a few into the top of the bottom cake, figuring they can be the bones he has asked for.
Fuck! I think to myself. I am fucking awesome, and don’t even realise it!
I set about making some ganache, which I have now mastered. To be clear, it’s my own, specially defined level of mastery. For me, it is ‘mastered’. For others, maybe not so much. Also, shut up.
I put it in the fridge to cool a little, and drop the spatula, coating the fridge, floor and wall in ganache. I swear. A lot.
Then get impatient and pour slightly runny ganache all over the cake, realise I don’t have enough, and have to make some more. This requires a trip to the supermarket, which I do before school pickup, then am left with the dilemma of having both cream and chocolate sitting in the boot of the car until the kids get their shit together.
Home. Ganache some more, manage not to spill any, shove some more white dinosaurs under the gap at the bottom of the cake, and pour the rest of the ganache over the cake, and it is perfect. So much ganache, the smell is almost sickening. Can’t wait to eat it!
I shove a couple of dinosaurs into the mud, use the bits of ganache that have splattered around the cake board to stick other dinosaurs on, then get adventurous and make trees.
I have no idea what happened. I guess I got carried away, inspired by my stroke of brilliance at the whole ‘bones’ thing …
Chippie comes home from school, delighted, and I go out to see a movie with a friend.
So, this morning, I needed to add some lava to the cake, as well as, apparently, a river, some rocks, a dinosaur at the top and an explanation as to why the red stegosaurus was stuck in the mud. I did none of these things.
His friends arrived, we took them to a park to run around, but they whinged and complained instead.
I created the ‘eruption’ via the use of sparklers, which was a huge hit, but did not create the fire balls that were requested.
Another unexpected stroke of genius, when we realised we could take the top cake off to serve up to the kids and save the bottom half for the family when they arrived.
I also swore, yet again, that I was not ever going to have another kids’ birthday party in the house … how many times is that I’ve said the same thing now ….?
Anyhoo, birthday parties over, ganache has been licked off the floor and we’ll be eating rich mud cake with too much ganache and dinosaur lollies for dinner for the next week.
I just have to get through the actual birthday now.