Saturday, March 20, 2010

Reese’s Birthday

We had a pirate party for Reese today. He’s five years old, I cannot believe it!


I had so much fun putting together his pirate party! I just don’t have it in me to go totally all out for a kids party, but we had some cool things! When the kids arrived we marched them upstairs and had them ‘fish’ through this vent we have (essentially a hole in the floor) for a bandana, eye patch, tattoo and mustache. (The birthday boy got a Captain’s hat too.) Then we came down and tried to get their pictures in front of the flag. Being as we had 7 kids between ages 8-2, well, that didn’t go over real well.

I just have to show you this again. I’m just so please with how it turned out :) P.S. It really is centered in the middle of the fabric, it’s just scrunched over to the left in this picture.

pirate flag

I made the flag from a 2 yard long piece of black twill. I went online and found a picture of a skull and crossbones and just blew it up on my printer. Then I traced it onto freezer paper, cut out the stencil and ironed it onto the fabric. Then I used regular acrylic craft paint and filled in the stencil. (I did two coats because I wanted it really bright.) The freezer paper just pulled right off afterward and left me with a perfect skull and crossbones! I’ve seen people all over Blogland do cool projects with freezer paper and was a little skittish about trying it, but MAN! It was a piece of cake! It probably took me about 2 hours start to finish, including the time it took to hem it and make it into a curtain. (It’s destined for the window in Reese’s room.)

After the kids were all pirated up, we played a really clever version of ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’. I found the directions online somewhere, I’ve already forgotten where, sorry! Anyhow, you draw a treasure map. . .

treasure map

Disclaimer: I did not draw this. I can draw stick figures. . . poorly. It’s awesome having an artist in residence!! Thank you, Jay!

On the back of the picture you affix a large X. Then you make little Xs for the kids with their names on them.

playing with the treasure map

You can blindfold them or not, doesn’t matter. They put their Xs on the map and then you take it off the wall and hold it up to a window or a light. The X on the back shows through and the kid with the closest X wins! Isn’t that super clever? I wish I HAD thought of that on my own :) This game was a HUGE hit with the kiddos!

walk the plank


Then we played a version of Musical Chairs. We just slapped some construction paper squares on a board as a plank and put down a blue towel as the ocean. Then when the music started they had to Walk the Plank and run around and walk the plank again until the music stopped. The kid in the ‘water’ was out and we went again and again. Once they got the hang of it they had a great time!


looking for croc

This is the kids hunting in Tick-Tock Croc. I especially liked this game. It was quiet!!! I made a little croc out of felt and left an opening in his tummy. Then we put a kitchen timer in it and hid it in the living room. (So it’s like the croc in Peter Pan, get it?) The kids had to come in and listen for the tick-tock and find the croc! They really liked this game, more than I expected. And I liked the brief hiatus from all the noise!

found it!

That blurry thing is the croc ;)


But I think the best game was the treasure hunt. I’d given Reese a couple of riddle clues earlier in the week and he just looked at me blankly like I was some kind of idiot. So I dropped the riddle idea (I’m not great at coming up with that kind of thing anyway) and took close ups of the places I intended to hide the loot. There were 7 kids playing and I took pictures of 10 spots, so three of the spots had little, hmmm, I don’t know, neiner neiner cards that said to keep on looking.


I printed all the pictures out onto cardstock and then burned the edges. (with my creme brulee torch, haha!) They actually ended up looking pretty cool and the clues were just the right toughness for the kids.


I went online and found a site with pirate lingo and borrowed heavily from that for these cards!

pirate loot!

I had so much fun with their treasure boxes. I loved things like this when I was a kid, little treasure chests and jewels and things! These had pirate coins, chocolate coins, plastic jewels, a pirate pouch, a skull ring, extra moustaches and tattoos, and beads for the girls. I sprung for some really yummy chocolate coins from Honest Foods, but I probably could have gotten away with the cheaper more cost efficient ones. Most of this stuff came from Oriental Trading.

 Reese's birthday cake

This is Reese’s cake. It’s chocolate on the inside and and my favorite frosting on the outside. I used some really wonderful cocoa powder from King Arthur’s Flour that my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law gave me (you follow? Good!) and it was to die for. The cake was almost black with chocolate! My kind of cake!!! I had grand plans of forming a pirate ship out of rice crispie treats and covering it in fondant for a cake topper. But when we went to my friend April’s son’s birthday (you follow? Good.) he had a cake with a real Lightning McQueen and Mater toys on it and all the kids thought it was SO COOL. “You get to keep the Lightning McQueen!!!!” So I decided to just slap on the pirate I had bought Reese as a gift so he could keep the pirate!!!!


Then I stumbled across a set of pirates at a local shop. $6 for 12. Sold. They look like cupcake toppers to me!



Super cool cupcake toppers!!!


Blowing out candles

The birthday boy was thrilled with his cake! And he got to keep the pirate!!!


So I’ll leave you with the cake and icing recipe. This icing is really wonderful. It’s got cream cheese in it and it really cuts the sweetness and gives it a nice tang. The cake is my go-to chocolate cake recipe. I’ve used it for years. I think it’s originally from Martha.

Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 cups hot water

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8” round cake pans (or two 6” round pans and 24 cupcakes) with Baker’s Joy and parchment paper.

Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into mixer bowl.

On low, stir in eggs, buttermilk, hot water, oil, and vanilla; beat until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary.

Pour into prepared pans and bake, rotating the pans once, 35-45 minutes. (Less for the cupcakes)

Remove cakes to a cooling rack and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes before unmolding.

When the cakes (and cupcakes) are completely cool, frost with icing.


Best Frosting Ever

1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 bricks (16 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 pounds confectioner’s sugar

1 TABLEspoon vanilla

food coloring of your choice


In your mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth.

With a mesh sieve, sift the powdered sugar into butter mixture and mix on low to incorporate.

Add vanilla and food coloring.


(This makes plenty of frosting. Enough for my 6 inch cakes and cupcakes with a little leftover. Leftovers are yummy smeared on graham crackers. Just sayin’.)


oneordinaryday said...

How fun! My son had a pirate bday when he was younger and we had a ball with planning it. Who doesn't love a swashbuckler? Happy birthday to your little guy!

Carol said...

It looks like everyone had a great time! I wish I could of been there, it's the first one we've missed. Thanks for sharing all the pictures! Jay's map is wonderful, puts the one on the quilt to shame! Are you going to hang the map in Reese's room? I love the flag, you did an awesome job on everything, you're a crafty girl!

Jennie said...

Thank you! Don't you love classic birthday parties? I'm sure we'll end up with Transformers or Bakugons soon enough, but I really enjoyed the, I don't know, timelessness of it?

Mom, it was strange not having you guys here. Or Mark and Akvile. Or Jacob. Or Claudia and Jesse. *sniff* Maybe next year???? And you can't compare yourself with Jay! He has a gift, so that's cheating ;) He pulled all that out of his head too, he didn't even look at anything for ideas! I put the paper and pencils in front of him and he just started drawing!

Jen said...

Wait, I thought you said you didn't have it in you to go all out for birthday parties? This is FANTASTIC. Everything is so thought out and darling. No doubt is was really fun. Happy Birthday!

Jennie said...

LOL, Jen! Have you SEEN some of the birthday parties out in Blogland? Especially the crafty blog ladies? OMG, they are so cool! The house is dressed to the nines, they make amazing crafty things for each child, the food is just perfect and themed to the party, and the poor mom has spent MONTHS planning and crafting for the special day. I just can't do all that!

This year I actually had all sorts of plans for things that I just didn't get done. I gave myself a little lecture about just having fun and doing what I could do and not staying up until 2am for 2 weeks before the party working on stuff ;) Especially because he's just five and will probably remember the cream soda he got to drink out of a glass bottle (IBC) at dinner more than the party itself, ya know? ;)

Lilipadella said...

Wow! What can I say but "WOW"? That was some party! Those kids have a very gifted set of parents...I thought you were going to say that you clip-arted the images on the map but Jay did those! Wholly moley! I was having fun just looking at the pictures so I'm sure the kids had a blast at the party, you did a wonderful job, and next time, if you didn't tell anyone you didn't stay up till 2 AM, no one would know otherwise, cause all the work you did looks like you could've!

kristi said...

Best party ever!! The kids had a blast!!

kristi said...

Best party ever!! The kids had a blast!!