I’m decorationally challenged.
I loathe kids’ birthday parties. I am always stressed.
Some of the stress is from growing up, surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins and having rather large gatherings for my birthdays, along with kids from my class at school.
We just don’t have any of that.
I tried. I wasted time and money on Liz’s birthdays for years. Some were rather successful and others flopped miserable, with no one even RSVPing or showing.
My husband didn’t grow up with big birthdays so he didn’t understand any of this.
So we discussed downsizing our idea of birthday expectations.
We’ve been having simple family dinners at home for a few years now.
No pressure. Teaching our kids that they’re special to us and we don’t have to blow a lot of money or impress people to show that.
So I’ve had to dig deep to find ways to make birthdays specials, frugally and without stressing out about it.
Because it’s not about things. I want my kids to learn that and honestly, they’re teaching me that too. They’re better at contentment than I am. And I love this post by my friend, Amber: When You Can’t Give Your Kids Disneyland.
Here is what I did for Tori’s 8th birthday.
I scored this rustic burlap pennant banner at Hobby Lobby.
I printed the letters on teal paper. I found the letters online at Martha Stewart’s site. I’m not really a fan, but Google to the rescue!
I used the same letters on skewers to decorate the cake with some long skinny blue candles and a cocktail umbrella Kate found in our cupcake drawer.
Tori wanted a white cake with chocolate frosting. This is my grandma’s recipe and it turned out amazing. Is it me, or is there just never enough frosting? I have bald spots on my cake!
What do you think?
I’ve also used this recipe to make 24 cupcakes and I’ve also thrown a half cup of cocoa powder into the cake batter to make a chocolate cake.
It’s almost time to blow the candles out! Dad picked up a lovely bouquet of flowers from the store on his way home from work.
Tori’s favorite meal is Korean BBQ. Now, she’s never actually actually been to a Korean restaurant. She loves the Korean BBQ sauce flavor.
Which is basically a type of teriyaki sauce.
So we buy some nice strip steaks (no bony, fatty kalbi short ribs for her!). The kids don’t like to work for their food.
I plated it rather pretty on our Celebrate plate:
Here’s our happy birthday girl. Eight years old!
I scored a Marie-Grace American Girl doll back in November for $40 on sale on their website and kept it hidden in my closet until now. It’s not the one she was wishing for (Caroline looks more like her and is into fishing!), but it is her first American Girl doll and she’s happy.
One birthday down, two more to go this spring. Then Liz’s in the fall.
A great steak marinade:
Korean BBQ Sauce
- 4 T ground sesame seeds We use a coffee grinder
- 8 cloves garlic pressed
- 1.5 c soy sauce We like gluten-free Tamari
- 4 T sherry
- 6 T honey
- 4 T sesame oil
- 4 T water
- 4 t fresh ginger grated
- 4 t red pepper flakes optional
- Whisk ingredients together in a bowl and store in a plastic squeeze bottle in the fridge for when needed. I like to garnish meat with more sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
Our favorite cake:
Easy White Cake
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 t vanilla
- 1/2 t almond extract
- 3 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 3 c cake flour
- 1 c milk room temperature
Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla and almond extract.
Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in another bowl.
Alternate milk and flour into butter mixture until just mixed.
Pour evenly into cake pans.
Bake for about 25 minutes at 350*
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1.5 c butter (3 sticks), softened or 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening
- 1 c cocoa powder
- 5 c powdered sugar
- 1/2 c milk
- 1-2 t vanilla
- 1/4 t espresso powder optional
- Whisk cocoa to remove lumps.
- Cream butter.
- Add vanilla and espresso (optional).
- Gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time, scraping bowl often.
- Add milk until desired consistency.