happy birthday, mom!

Dear Mom,

Happy birthday!

This mother’s day, I saw a lot of “omg, my mom was right about everything” posts circulating online. I’m reminded of this every single day. You were right about everything and I only have myself to blame!

But then, I got a small “win” this time. You said you didn’t want a birthday party this year while I insisted that I was going to host one. Granted, a part of me felt a tiny bit guilty because it wasn’t what you wanted. But sometimes your daughter knows best.

Then came the day of the party. You were constantly smiling and laughing when you saw people that care about us show up and you ended up having a great time at the party. We got to catch up with relatives and friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. So next time, trust me when I say I’m going to throw you a party.

For your tropical themed party, I made a chocolate cake, filled it with matcha buttercream, and decorated it to make it look like a pineapple. I’ve been wanting to make a pineapple cake in so long, ever since I saw Lyndsay‘s on Coco Cake Land. Of course, mine ended up looking nothing like her’s, but I had wanted it to! I ended up using a different star tip (by accident) to pipe. And then I really over-thought the leaves, I meant to do the simple leaf cut-out and stick, but went and tried something different. Regardless, Lyndsay inspires my cake creations a lot!

Pineapple Birthday Cake

I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe (as I did for Jackon’s birthday) because it stays incredibly moist and delicious even when I make it ahead of time.

Matcha Buttercream
Makes enough to fill a 6-inch cake

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons matcha powder
2-4 tablespoons milk

  1. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and icing sugar together.
  2. Add in the matcha powder and mix until combined.
  3. Work on the consistency of the buttercream by adding milk, one tablespoon at a time until it is smooth. If you accidentally make it too runny, just add more icing sugar to balance it out.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

I then made a vanilla buttercream and coloured it yellow. I piped on a thin layer to create the crumb coat. Got to cover that Frankenstein.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

Then used a star tip (1M) to pipe all over it.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

It ended up looking like ruffles than stars!

Pineapple Birthday Cake

But that’s ok, it still created a nice texture over the cake.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

Pineapple Leaves
Makes 1

1 sheet green foam
1 small plastic cup
tacky glue
elastic bands
1 pen or marker

  1. Give the sheet of foam a rinse. Because I bought it from the craft store, there was some glitter on it, plus, there could have been dust and dirt, so it’s always a good idea to wash something that is going to come near food. Lay it out to dry on a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Place the plastic cup upside down. Wrap the foam sheet around the top, mark it with a pen or marker where the sheet forms a complete circle. Cut out spiky shapes (unfinished triangles) to the place where you marked it.
  3. Add a line of glue to the bottom of the spiky crown you just cut out. Carefully place it around the top of the cup. Loop an elastic band around it to hold it into place while the glue dries.
  4. Measure out the circumference of the cup about half an inch down. Again, mark it with a pen and cut out the leaves. Attach it with glue and hold it in place with an elastic band. Repeat until you’ve covered the entire cup and when you reach the base. Set it aside to dry.
  5. Once the glue has dried, carefully remove the elastic bands.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

I ended up using new elastic hair ties because to my dismay, I only had one elastic band at home.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

There it is, in it’s crowning glory.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

I decorated mine by adding a green ribbon around and tied it off with a bow.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

I hope you have a great birthday, mom. I can’t wait to spend it with you today!

And I know you’re worried, but we’ll get through this week.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

Love,
Sylvia

1 month-ish

Dear Oliver,

It may be years before you read this, but I want to get this down so that one day you can read this (assuming this still exists in the future). I want to welcome you into this world and into our family. You may think we’ve only known you for a month-ish, but the truth is, we were with you the moment your parents told us you were the size of a lime. We met you on a weekly basis and watched your mother’s belly grow. You started kicking her (pretty darn hard too) and we would watch as she gently nudged you back. Your mother even managed to get a video of you hiccuping for us to see.

We celebrated early in the days and I even dragged your uncle to your baby shower. We didn’t do so well on the baby food blind tasting. Nor guessing the circumference of you mommy’s belly. Or figuring out how much baby stuff cost. But you know what we’re good at? Estimating M&M chocolates in a baby bottle. So you know where you can count on us.

But now you’re out in our world. It wasn’t easy and you came out fighting. You and your mom stayed strong and I was lucky enough to hold you when you were 5 hours old. Your uncle and I felt you squirm, heard you cry, and watched as you made all these tiny facial expressions. Basically anything you did garnered a delightful exclamation from us. He pouted! He yawned! He sneezed!

Now . . . now we’ll grow old and lament how fast the years go by because in a blink of an eye, you’ll turn 1 years old, then 10, then 20. My only wish for you is that you remain healthy and happy through all of those times.

Sincerely,
(Auntie) Syl

PS: All you do is drink milk right now. So . . . I’m just going to share a milkshake recipe with you, I hope you’re a fan of these when you grow up! And I’m pretty sure your parents would not approve of me sneaking milkshakes into your bottle right now.

Milkshake
(Makes as many as you want)

Ice cream
Milk
Frozen fruit (optional)

  1. Scoop your favourite ice cream into a blender. Pick a simple base like vanilla or chocolate if you want to flavour it yourself. If you don’t, then go for a flavoured ice cream like strawberry or peach or whatever you like.
  2. Pour in some milk. If you have frozen fruits, you can add them in here.
  3. Cover (because it will splash up – speaking from experience here) and turn on blender. Mix until smooth.
  4. Pour into cup, pop in a straw, and enjoy!

Scoop some ice cream
Pour some milk
Blend away
Pour milkshake out
Ta-dah all done
Drink up
Just laughing at how easy that was!

banana-fana fo-fegan

Dear Megan,

Happy birthday!

I know you don’t like celebrating this day with attention and festivities, but I feel like you should get some recognition for another year of awesomeness. You are an awesome friend, mother, wife, daughter, colleague, coach, and many other things to so many people. You should know that you actually gave me the push to start baking. You lent me all those equipment’s for my Wilton cake decorating classes at Michael’s. You gave me my first set of mixing bowls, measuring spoons, kitchen towels, and cupcake accessories. I still have all those things and often marvel at how many things in my kitchen are from you. Plus, you make these awesome caramel cookies, oh and those peanut butter cookies, and those scones that I still dream about from my bridal shower.

I love how talented you are in charades – it is truly a handy (maybe even lifesaving) skill to have. How is it that you know every song lyric? You are the best teammate to have in Cranium and Head’s Up because you have lines memorized from films and television shows. Or you know every actor and singer’s names. Oh and best of all, I admire your dance skillz (yeah, with a z). You’re also a whiz at crafting and party planning – it’s no wonder we’re friends!

And since you’re the first person to ever feed me homemade ice cream, I thought this would be a good way to celebrate your birthday. That delicious chocolate ice cream you made brought me back to childhood memories of chocolate milk in a carton. Then there was that creamy and rich peanut butter ice cream, in which you took the time to make even though you couldn’t have some.

I saw this cool video featuring ice cream using just bananas and different flavourings. It should be dairy, egg, and soy free as long as you ditch the cones.

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Neapolitan Banana Ice Cream
Recipe adapted from Food Network

Notes: The ripe bananas will require some freezing time, so plan for this a day ahead. After that, the ice cream itself will need some chill time in the freezer before serving as well, well you could also just eat it right away if you don’t mind it melting. You’ll also need a good strong food processor for this to work.

6 ripe bananas, frozen
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup berries, frozen
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 medium loaf pan (8½” x 4½” x 2½”)

  1. Remove the peels from the banana and chop them into even chunks. About 1-inches long and put them in a freezer bag. Freeze overnight.
  2. Using your food processor equipped with the knife blade, put 2 bananas in with the vanilla extract. Turn the machine on and watch the bananas go from gooey and mushy to creamy. When it looks like a delicious milkshake, it’s ready to be scooped out with a spatula and placed into one end of the loaf pan.
  3. Next, put in 2 bananas with some frozen berries. Go with strawberry, raspberries, red cherries, or even pomegranates. Same thing, turn the machine on and scoop it out when it becomes nice and creamy. Portion this into the middle section of your loaf pan.
  4. Put the final 2 bananas into the food processor along with the cocoa powder. Have the machine churn until it’s smooth and scoop it out to fill up the final spot in the loaf pan.
  5. Cover and place the loaf pan in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

Megan, Megan, bo-began,
Banana-fana fo-fegan
Fee-fy-mo-megan
Megan!

Wait, I’m singing the wrong song aren’t I?

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Happy birthday, Megan!
Megan, it’s your birthday!

Sincerely,
Syl

PS: Megan, I can’t wait to bestow this ice cream garland on you. I made it while watching the Olympics, your favourite bi-annual event!

Paper Ice Cream Cones

Making an Ice Cream Cone Garland

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I have a PDF of the ice cream graphics I made here. Just download it, print it, and cut it out. I attached the cutouts to some string with tape and squealed at how cute it looked hung up.