Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dinosaur Birthday Party

Palm trees, bananas and leaves from my 2009 baby shower!
Not quite a month after the party, I'm finally getting around to posting about it. I had so much fun gathering ideas and planning the party. The absolute best decision I made was planning to have it at the Gym. We love "My Gym" - Bubba has so much fun every time he's there. The people who work there are great and help the kids have fun in a safe environment.  Having the party at the gym allowed me to spend all of my time on the fun stuff and not worry about cleaning or any of the yucky stuff.
T-Rex Track Cookies
Brontosaurus Bites
Dino Bones (Dino Treasure Stones in back)
Cretaceous (Pop)Corn
As I've already discussed in previous posts, I made quite a few dinosaur themed snacks as well as the dinosaur treasure stones I used for decoration. Since Bubba likes cupcakes more than cake, I made some of those too (with dino cupcake liners and cute dinosaur toppers). I also dove deep into my closet and pulled out the box of baby shower decorations my sister made for me back in 2009. She made such amazing safari themed decorations that I also used them for Bubba's 1st birthday. I decided the palm trees (made out of organic diapers and ribbon), bananas (diapers and washcloths) and a few other things would be the perfect "icing on the cake" for the dinosaur theme. I would have liked to have printed the names of everything on the little signs but I ran out of time. I figured hand writing them was better than nothing because I really wanted each snack to have a little sign. Having dinosaur themed names for the food was part of the fun, at least for me...

We were not allowed to show up more than 10 minutes prior to our start time so I was a little worried about getting everything set up and ready before people arrived. I drew up a plan of where I wanted everything so my husband and the My Gym teachers could help. When we got there, they already had the yellow tablecloth on the counter and were ready to help. Having the plan in writing really helped a lot because I didn't have to explain what I wanted.

Stegosaurus Eggs (Oreo Truffles)
We got everything set up before the first people showed up. I didn't get really great pictures because the two different people I thought would be there and be able to take pictures weren't able to make it. I think you'll still be able to see how great it turned out though...

It was very gratifying to see everyone having such a great time and enjoying all the snacks. One of the teachers even said it was the best party she's ever seen. I'm pretty sure she's only been there for a few months, but I'll still take the compliment. :)

The best part? After playing with and entertaining the kids for over an hour, the teachers did almost all of the clean up! I just had to gather whatever I wanted to take home and put it back in my handy dandy plastic bin. Then we just went home and relaxed.

One of the other "extras"was to get Bubba a birthday shirt. I found what I thought would be perfect on Etsy. His favorite color is black and his favorite dinosaur (at the time) was a stegosaurus...they made it look really great and got it to me super fast. I was going to post a picture but since the shirt has his name on it (and he's wearing it) and I'm trying to keep at least some things private, I decided not to...trust me though, it's really cute.

Sorry the pictures are kind of wacky, I've spent over 30 minutes trying to get them to look normal but it's just not working. At least I have some to show you - better than nothing, right?
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Dinosaur Treasure Stones

One of the fun things I did for Bubba's birthday was make Dinosaur Treasure Stones. It was a really fun activity to do together from beginning to end.

I found the link through Pinterest (of course) and gathered up all my supplies. Here's what you need:

1 cup flour
1 cup used coffee grounds (I got mine, along with a lot of weird looks, at the local Dunkin Donuts.)
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sand (I got a small bag at Michael's) 
1 cup water

Mix dry ingredients together. Slowly add the water to make a stiff dough; you may not need all of the water - you don't want it to be too runny. [I scratched my bowl pretty good with the sand, so make sure you use a bowl you don't mind to get scratched.]
Fresh stones on top; stones 6 days later
Hide surprise inside
Knead on a floured surface until fairly smooth. Break off dough in the desired stone size and hide the surprise in the center.

Set in a safe place until totally dry - at least 3-4 days. [I put my stones on parchment paper lined baking sheets; turned them over every 12 hours or so...it took closer to 4-5 days to dry.]

Once they are dry, they look and feel like stones. You can "carefully" break open the treasure stones using a hammer (we used a wooden hammer so they wouldn't damage the dinosaurs). If you put them in Tupperware, be advised they will release moisture and need to dry out again.

Deciding on the size of the prize inside makes a big difference - my dinosaurs were not very big at all yet I still ended up making two batches of dough and ended up with about 18 treasure stones. The stones were also a good size so as mentioned above, they took a long time to dry. It was a good lesson in patience for Bubba. 

We didn't have enough treasure stones for all the kids either at the party or at school, so after using them as part of the decorations at the party, we ended up breaking them open ourselves at home. The whole family had a good time breaking them open and finding the cool dinosaurs. Since the stones were just sand, flour & coffee, we just swept all the remains into the mulch when we were done.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dinosaur Party Treats

As I mentioned in the post about the dinosaur cake, along with the cake I planned to serve dinosaur track cookies, dinosaur eggs, a dinosaur vegetable tray and a couple other dino themed snacks.

The dinosaur track cookies were sugar cookies made from a box - Krusteaz brand. I'd never even heard of them before, but everyone complimented me on how good the cookies were. Bubba enjoyed helping me make the dough and scoop it out onto the baking pan. We flattened them and used a large plastic dinosaur foot to make the tracks. After the first batch we learned it was better to bake them for a little more than half the time and then add the track print and a little cinnamon. Overall, it was fun and pretty easy to make these cookies.

The dinosaur eggs were also pretty easy. I used the standard "Oreo Truffle" recipe I got from Bakerella years ago. I rolled the truffles into an egg shape and used Wilton White Candy Melts for the coating. On several of them, I added a couple "spots" to make them look like dinosaur eggs and to cover up ugly spots in the coating. (You can see a picture of the dinosaur eggs on this post) Another very simple project. It takes a while just because you need to put the balls in the freezer for a while and also need to keep re-melting the coating. Totally worth whatever time it takes though - they're addicting. I forgot to take pictures but I have some from before the party - I'll include them in the party post.

The veggie tray idea came from a fruit tray picture I saw on Pinterest. I wanted some kind of veggie offering and this seemed like a perfect way to do it. I used cauliflower and broccoli florets, baby carrots, mini grape tomatoes and green grapes for the dinosaur body. I really wanted to put an eyeball on one of the grapes but couldn't find my edible pen. Again, easy peasy. Didn't take much longer than preparing a regular veggie tray would have.
It was fun involving Bubba in all the preparations and seeing how helpful and interested he was in what we were doing and why. I'm also grateful for having a very patient and understanding husband. He just let me do what I wanted to do and helped when and where I needed it. The prep was so much fun, I can't wait to tell you about the actual party!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dinosaur Cake

The only thing Bubba asked for concerning his birthday was a dinosaur cake. How could I not fulfill that singular request? If you know me, you know I would do everything possible to give him what he asked for...

So, going to my favorite avenue for ideas, Pinterest, I searched for dinosaur party ideas. There were so many to choose from, I wasn't sure where to start. I finally narrowed it down to the following: dinosaur track cookies, dinosaur eggs, a dinosaur veggie tray, a couple other dino themed snacks, the dinosaur cake and dinosaur treasure stones.

Writing it down now, I think I might have over-reached just a little...thankfully, we had already engaged the "My Gym" where we go to class to "host" the birthday party. Not having to clean or stress about the house in any way, freed up my time and allowed me to devote my energy to the fun and cool dino ideas. I started with the dinosaur cake because I planned at first to take it to school for his little party there. It turned out so good I decided to keep it for the actual party. 

I used the Wilton dinosaur pan. Since I've never decorated a cake like this, I wasn't really sure what to do after I baked it. I read and re-read the instructions as well as the comments and reviews. The hardest part, which wasn't really hard, just took a really long time, was making and mixing the icing. I made 1.5 times the suggested amount (don't ask me why, at the time it made sense) which was way too much. One of the best things I did was to buy tubes of pink and black. If/when I make the cake again, I'd probably buy most of the icing in tubes or color pre-made icing.

I kept telling myself that if I messed up, I could use the cake for cake balls. Luckily, it didn't come to that. As I progressed from one step to the next, it was so cool to see it really taking shape. I would recommend that you follow the steps. Some of them don't seem to make sense in the order they're given. However, it turned out well doing it the way they tell you to, so why mess with it? I would also recommend having a couple extra decorating tips. I didn't and had to switch bags and colors. When I realized I'd missed a couple steps during outlining, I had to improvise to fix it without the tip.

I had planned on buying some kind of cake plate or cake holder thing but when I went to the store, they only had really big ones or packs of them. So as you can see in the pictures, I used a pizza pan thing. Not very pretty but it did the job. It also fit perfectly into my cake carrier. I just couldn't figure out how to get rid of the ugly silver. Then I realized, as I was putting the "shells" around the edge of the dinosaur, why not just cover the silver with icing shells? I had tons of icing and would only throw it away if I didn't use it up. Perfect!

The finished cake was so amazing I about broke my arm patting myself on the back. I still can't believe I did something like that and that it turned out so well. I'm not sure if I'll do more of those kinds of things, but I sure won't be afraid to try. After all, it's just cake and icing, right? Tastes good no matter what it looks like...

Having done a pretty good job with what I thought would be the hardest part, I was ready to tackle the rest of my Pinterest ideas. Since I don't want to overwhelm you with my awesomeness, I'll blog about those later. :)
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