Munchkin's birthday & a bunch of PinWins!
So for Munchkin's birthday, I designed pink & zebra-stripe invitations for her special Gymnastics party.
(Have you ever heard of a gymnastics party? There's not a lot of options around here outside of Chuckie Cheese & the indoor water park. And there's even fewer options in January We've attended a few venues at the former - old, dirty & just plain yuck. The latter was her choice last year & it's a bit stressful chasing around a handful of elementary school kids who can't really swim, especially as the life-guarding seems spotty at best. So we really wanted to avoid either of those options and sadly, having one at our home isn't really a choice either since we're currently in a teensy apartment. Then I did an extensive Google search & stumbled upon gymnastics birthday parties. Costs about the same as the water park, with more kids allowed and a coach keeping a careful eye on the kids. Plus, the entire gym dedicated to just you and your party versus competing with the mobs. Large foam pits, balance beams and high bars and two large inflatables - talk about kid heaven!)
Anyway, Munchkin loved the invitations - especially the zebra stripes - and decided that had to be the decorative theme for her party. Which is a lot easier than trying to design everything around the gymnastics theme so we went with it. I searched Pinterest for options and we settled on Zebra-striped Cupcakes topped with Hello Kitty. They turned out fantastic, even if not quite as pictured. Using 2 boxes of cake mix, I was up to my ears in cupcakes - more than 2 dozen. I'm not sure what happened but I ran out of chocolate halfway through the second dozen but still had plenty of vanilla. I forgot to take a photo with the cupcake sliced but you can kind of see the stripes in the half-eaten one. ;)
I don't remember which of the countless sites I was on that warned me away from baking in the zebra-striped cupcake wrappers. They said that the cheaper wrappers you can get off the shelf tend to fade when baked & suggested baking in a plain wrapper and dropping them in a decorated wrapper afterwards. Not such a good idea. They just don't fit right afterwards. Next time, I'll just risk baking it anyway. *sigh*
Then I had to hunt for icing. I have never done homemade icing before or attempted swirls & the like. And then I found this pin at Glorious Treats. She has amazing pictures & even a video demonstrating how to ice the cupcakes. Now the only problem was, the only decorating tips I had were the tiny ones. So I took a picture of the tips with my phone & sent Hubby to town. He came back with all three tips and the special icing bags. (I'd only meant for him to buy one but apparently had forgotten to specify that.) I completely missed the advice on her page about needing a large coupler. I had a small one and didn't realize they come in different sizes, too. So I crossed my fingers and prayed that just dropping one in the bag would work - and it did!! (and looking back now, she even tells you that on her page! Doh!) I used her American Buttercream recipe & followed her advice to add half a block of cream cheese. Y.U.M.!!! I'm telling you - I could eat just the icing all day and I don't normally even like icing! The swirls turned out so cute!!! At this point I was seriously pleased with myself. Btw, I tried the reverse rose thing she demonstrates and didn't have much luck with that one. Topped with the exact same Hello Kitty sugar decorations I was lucky enough to find at the local party store and pink sugar crystals. Score!!!
Aren't they super adorable?!!
My second big project was for the goodie bags. The gymnastics place was supposed to be providing little bags with pencils, erasers and such but I wanted to do a little more. I have faint memories of my mom making us homemade play dough when we were kids. And I spotted a pin for homemade play-dough with glitter using kool-aid for the color (and to add a little scent). Perfect! (I also spotted this pin using jello instead of kool-aid - I planned to try both recipes but got a little tired. Read on to see why...)
Munchkin only wanted pink play dough so we went with pink kool-aids. Our first batch was Watermelon Cherry flavor. We stirred together the ingredients (sans the glitter, which I didn't want to put it a pot I intended to use again for actual food) and, even though the mix looked fairly pink, I added extra "hot pink" food coloring to make good and sure the play dough turned out vivid. I thought the sample photos from the pinned site were a bit pale.
Let me tell you, warm kool-aid doesn't smell so good while it's cooking on the stove. But I had high hopes, plus we were committed by this point as I had bought a bag of bleached white flour specifically for this purpose plus bags of koolaid, both of which I would never use for anything else. So I stirred, and stirred, and stirred...
Finally the goop started to come together. The directions say to cook "until the dough starts to come together and pull away from the sides". The jello version says "Just keep stirring, you’ll know it’s ready when won’t be able to stir anymore." Her photos even show an elegant ball of dough, rolled up neatly in the pot. I took that to mean the mess would eventually turn into a pretty ball of dough. But now I'm pretty sure she meant it literally. Cause I stirred until my arm felt like it was going to fall off and I was incapable of stirring another moment. This is was it looked like - not quite the pretty ball I was expecting.
I let it cool and then turned it out onto a table that I had covered with parchment paper. Sprinkled on pink glitter and set Munchkin to work. She complained endlessly about the sickly-sweet warm kool-aid smell all the while. It never really did get better. But the gloppy mess did indeed turn into pretty play dough with terrific texture, though the glitter kinda disappeared. It was a pretty fine glitter - should have used something a little bigger. Anyway, the batch made about 4 cups worth. I put them in little cheap containers I had picked up at the dollar store and started on the second batch since my arms were functioning again. Used pink lemonade for the second batch and the smell was even worse. Munchkin flat-out refused to help me knead so I was stuck at it alone. Aching arms, stinky dough, vanishing glitter. But with the happy thought that we were going to send it all home with the kids and their unsuspecting parents. Mwahaha!!
It really did turn out pretty, though.
Next time I'll try out the jello recipe. That'll smell better, right? Right??? ;)
Oh, and in case you were wondering - my little nine-year-old had an absolute blast!!