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One of the things that happened over the summer was Henry’s 5th birthday (and party). He requested a Lego Star Wars party with a piñata. So, immediately I thought that the Death Star would be the perfect thing to make – and then destroy with light sabers.

First, I searched high and low for those big round punch balloons. After checking every grocery store and pharmacy, I finally found some at our local hardware and variety store. We put some twine around it in several places and then covered it with papier mâché, about two layers in most places. I don’t remember now what recipe we used, but it was a kind you cook. Now, I should have covered the balloon with plastic wrap or something because it looked awesome and perfectly round until the balloon started to shrink and it took the papier mâché with it. (Sorry no process pictures, my hands were covered in slimy glue.)

After some initial frustration with the not perfectly round appearance (on my part, kids were fine with it), we painted it and added some details to make it recognizable. I reinforces the string with some extra twine so that it would hang over a tree branch without coming down too quickly.

The best part was what was inside. We had some candy (I would have been in big trouble if there had been no candy at all) but we also included little bundles of random Lego pieces wrapped in star fabric and tied with twine. The idea was for the kids to build little ships with the Legos that they could take home and play with. We live near a Lego store so I just got some random pieces from the wall of Pick-a-Brick.

The icing on the cake for the party was literally the icing on the cake. We made marshmallow fondant (with this recipe) and made little Lego bricks (by pressing an clean Lego into the fondant), light sabers and even a couple of minifigure heads (Yoda!). The cake was my go to chocolate cake, it is always delicious. All in all, a great celebration of and for my Big Man.


My girl had a birthday and to celebrate we went to a local nature center with a bunch of her friends.  It was a wonderful time and in the interest of keeping with the nature/eco-friendly theme, we made all of the party favors and decorations.

For the favors, I had a swatch book from Paper Source and decided to use it to make little tiny sketch books for our nature walk.  To do this,  I used a paper-cutter to take off the top inch (approximately), which left me with a rectangle of the nice card stock.  I cut regular printer paper slightly smaller than the card stock and put three pieces with each “cover”.  I folded the layers of paper in half and stitched with an old needle down the center.  To make the little books a bit more exciting, I carved a stamp and we used a shiny silver ink.  (We used the stamp on thank you notes as well.)

Birthday Party Favors

For the garland, I had hoped to sew the scraps together from the swatch book, but for some reason my sewing machine didn’t think that was a good idea.  Everything kept getting tangled up so we laid all of the scraps out on the table and glued them to a piece of yarn instead.  This actually worked out better — Eleanor was able to help me put dots of glue on the paper, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  The result was sort of whimsical and lovely, definitely very colorful.

Birthday Garland - Failed Attempt

Birthday Garland

Birthday Garland

I should have taken some pictures of the garland hanging at the party, but you will just have to imagine it.  Instead I will leave you with a picture of the cupcakes — I used a chocolate whipped cream (2/3 cup chocolate chips + 1 quart heavy cream, melted together in a saucepan, then refrigerated, then whipped like regular whipping cream) for the frosting, delicious.  And, yes, those are Skittles in the shape of smiley faces, as per the request of the birthday girl.


pineapple upsidedown cake

A while back I made a yummy cake with some fantastic pineapples from Hawaii.  My ever-so-thoughtful mother-in-law sent the pineapples to us and there was so much fruit, I wasn’t sure how we would ever eat it all.  I figured that if I added some sugar and butter, I would be a bit more likely to eat it all up.  The recipe was from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  Almost everything we have tried from that book is delicious.  My other favorite recipe from that book is for Molasses Spice Cookies.  Unfortunately, they always get eaten far to fast to get a picture taken. 

pineapple upsidedown cake