Happy Birthday Owen, and Toxin Free Cake

Owen’s birthday was yesterday. My big boy is 5 years old. In the spirit of keeping birthdays simple, we followed the same party plans that have worked so well for us in the past few years. 2:00 party, just family. Open presents, eat some cake, be done in time for a good dinner and plenty of time to play with new toys before having to go to bed.

This time I tried something a little different with the cake though. The more I read about artificial food coloring, the more it bothers me. That stuff is truely nasty, and it’s found in everything. When facing down Owens cake this week, I just couldn’t bring myself to purposfully add those convenient little drops to the icing. So I started brainstorming some other options. Owen had asked for flowers on his cake, so I was mostly looking for pinks or purples, and green for the leaves. I decided to try liquid chlorophyll for the green, and I had on hand Black Elderberry Syrup, cherries, and blueberries for pinks and purples. After a brief consultation with Rachel of Hounds in the Kitchen, I also tried beets. Thanks for the beet, Rachel! Here were my icing results.

Liquid Chlorophyll
(This is kind of washed out, the green was a little deeper, and very pretty)

Black Elderberry Syrup

Beet Puree

Blueberry Puree

Cherry Puree

Several of the colors turned out fairly similar. For the purees I defrosted and blended the cherries and blueberries, then cooked them down on the stove top and put them through a strainer. I boiled the beet, boiled off most of the cooking water, blended, put through a strainer and then cooked down a little farther. I used the black elderberry syrup and the liquid chlorophyll straight out of the bottles. I ended up using the beet colored icing as the trim and writing, and the elderberry icing for the flowers. One thing I failed to consider was that you add a good deal more liquid with this method than with the tiny drops of food coloring, so my icing was a little soft for piping roses. Next time I’ll be sure to firm up my icing before putting it into the piping bag.

Finished Product

With the cake ordeal over, let the party begin! I love when the kids recieve books that I loved as a child, and Owen got some Dr. Seuss. He also got some Hulk Hogan wrestling figures who are mostly naked, and very muscular, but he seems to like them. A remote control Hummer and a new stuffed puppy rounded out the birthday gifts.

And making the Birthday Wish! Happy Birthday Owen! You made me a mommy, and I can never thank you enough for that. You’re growing up to be such a gentleman. I am so proud of you, and so happy to be your mother.

Happy Birthday My Handsome Little Man!

It’s been a busy week. On Sunday, my car baby turned 3. I don’t think I have his birth story on my blog yet. I’ll post it later, but the short version is that he was born in the front seat of my doula’s minivan just outside the OSU hospital where I had been planning to deliver. Needless to say, he hit the ground running and I’ve been trying desperatly to keep up ever since. Over the past few months he has transformed from a toddler, really still a baby, into a little man. He’s growing up so fast! Birthdays are very special at our house, even though we try to keep them as simple as possible. We started the morning off right with chocolate chip pancakes.
Once every last moresel of chocolate had been devoured, and the kids had been assured that there was no more and I wasn’t going to make another batch, Brad took them to Magic Mountain for arcade games and an indoor play structure while I readied the house for the party and baked a cake. Although we mostly bake with whole wheat in our house, I’m not above white flour and white sugar for a birthday cake. We do avoid box mixes when ever possible. Nothing beats a homemade cake. This year Connor asked for a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and balloons. At the last moment, he decided he wanted strawberries too, so I added a strawberry jam layer to the center of the cake. Yum!

The grandparents (well, my grandparents, his great-grandparents) arrive for the party at 2:00. Commence the present opening!

Aria samples some wrapping paper while Connor works. Alfie the robot, Knight dress up clothes, Color Wonder markers and paper, and a noise making garbage truck were the stars of the show. After the presents have been played with, it’s on to the cake! I’ve never seen a kid more excited then when we were singing “Happy Birthday” to Connor.

And he blew out his candle in one blow.

Birthday cake rocks!

So happy birthday my handsome little man. Your mama loves you more than you could ever imagine. You are growing up so well, and I am so proud of you. Enjoy being 3.