Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Josie's Friend Party

Josie's Friend Party this year was so epic and so full of photo-taking moments, that I have to divide the event into two blog posts.  The suspense is going to kill you, I know.

Josie wanted a home party and she wanted a cooking theme.  I heard the words "home" and "cooking" in one sentence, and  I immediately put a cap of five on the guest list.  We used to cook frequently when I helped out monthly in Josie's co-op nursery school class and I learned the hard way that the more "cooks" you have, the harder it is for calm to triumph over chaos.

And I prefer calm at a birthday party.

We planned the birthday party to have two concurrent themes:  Cooking and Old Fashioned Party Games.  I added that second theme because it has been our experience that home birthday parties are always way too long and can never have too many organized activities.  Georgia's last home friend birthday was a Movie Party.  We planned that the girls would arrive, they would eat pizza, we would pop corn and then retire to the basement where the 11 year olds would settled down and watch a movie.  We figured in the full hour and 20 minutes that the movie said it ran, and asked parents to return for pick-up accordingly.

We did not plan for the fact that ten minutes into the movie, one girl would decide that she wasn't interested in the film and would get up from the couch and start playing soccer, which looked like so much fun that within ten minutes all the girls except three had abandoned the movie and had joined in the game.  And then they got tired of playing soccer in our basement and came upstairs to ask Gordy and I what else we had planned for the party.  

Gordy and I consulted our schedule which clearly stated that the next planned activity was "Parents arrive to pick up their children."  I'm not saying that that party was a complete disaster, but I might go so far as to say it was pretty much a disaster.  

I vowed to do better next time and this, Josie's Cooking Party was that next time.  

The first activity I planned was to have the girls decorate their own aprons.  We bought muslim aprons from the craft store and Gordy ironed on Initials and sparkly Party Food items.

These weren't the first aprons we purchased for this craft.  I originally ordered Child Size aprons on-line and when they arrived, I was shocked to see that the crafting world's idea of "Fits up to age 10" was different from MY idea of that same size:

I'd say that these aprons would have been PERFECT for Josie and her nursery school class of future chefs.

Since I'm splitting the party into two posts, this first post will be about the cooking side of the party.  The girls all arrived and worked on their apron:

And then I took a photo.  I should stop and tell you that my camera - which is always so faithful - was not taking great photos this particular evening.  Many were out of focus and most were dark.  It wasn't until the camera died towards the end of the party that I realized that my battery was low.  So I apologize in advance for the slightly-less-than-crisp photos.  Don't bother to clean your glasses.  It's me, not you.

D, E, A, J, E and A.  And no, I didn't request black pants as part of some sort of Cooking Party Dress Code.

After the aprons were tied and the photos were taken, we set to work on making our own pizzas.  We started with the pizza dough:

Some of us were more successful than others, but those girls may or may not be children who spend the summer with their Italian Family in the actual pizza-making country of Italy.  

Next, we put on tomato sauce and cheese and those of us who are REALLY daring put on a pepperoni or two.

And I mean that literally.  Not one child was that epicuriously daring enough to try more than two spicy meat circles.  And no one took us up on the sausage or pepper options.

While the pizzas cooked, we moved on to the second party of the party, which I'll call The Old Fashioned Party Games portion.  These were a huge hit, and I'll write about them next.  I'm not sure what the age-cut-off is for traditional party games, but these 8 & 9 years old loved them and the last game we played was so wonderfully fun that even almost-14 year old Henry participated.

But back to the Cooking Party, since that is what the post is about.

After dinner and after the party games, the girls decorated their own dessert.  I made two baby bundt cakes each for the girls to ice and I filled four pastry bags with colored frosting.

From these photos, it will be readily apparent that I have never used pastry bags to ice a cake before.  This portion of the party - while extremely fun for the kids - was not, in my opinion, the crowning moment of the evening.  I put WAY too much icing into each bag and I probably should have tied the top?  Or maybe that keeps the air from circulating?  Or maybe that doesn't matter?  I don't know.  All I do know is that the kids squeezed the bags, and the icing came out of both ends.  And then I had them hold the top and squeeze downward from the top and that only helped slightly.  The whole experience was a mess but I'm quite sure that the girls didn't care.  

Their cakes were not beautiful...

there was icing EVERYWHERE...

... but they were all laughing and enjoying themselves.  And that's what matters.

These were Josie's contribution:

Each girl chose one cake to eat and one to take home in a bakery box.  I cleaned up as much of the spilled frosting as I could, while Gordy transferred the girls' cakes to plates and lit Josie's candles.

As she always does, Josie joined in with the singing.  She inherited this habit genetically from her Great-Grandfather Ernie who always sung a boisterous "Happy Birthday to Me" at every one of his parties.  Sometimes he would leave out the word "me" and theatrically point to himself each time.  Both versions never failed to crack me up as a child.

Josie made a wish...

and blew out her candles and with that the party was over.  

Two hours of fun-filled success.  Hooray for us all.

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