I’ve mostly learned that…

I've mostly learned that if I exhaust myself prepping for a party, that I won't enjoy it. But sometimes I misjudge my energy levels, or misjudge time. Somehow I ended up spending basically all of Friday and Saturday getting ready for Anand's birthday party, which is just too much time, especially when I still have enough lingering from that cold to make me a little extra-tired. I think most other people had a great time, including the kids, which latter is the most important thing, since it's for them after all. But for me, the best part was sitting on the porch for half an hour with Lori, talking about how stressed and unhappy we are about the current blockages in our respective writing careers. The subject of another post.

I haven't written anything in two weeks, and it's making me crazy. Today, come hell or high water, I'm going to write some fiction, and maybe that will pull me out of the grumps. It may even be when I finish this post, because for some ungodly reason, I went to bed at 9 (collapsed, rather), and then woke up, wide-awake at 1:30. Actually, I know why I woke up, it was because I suddenly realized in my sleep that I'd forgotten Karina's birthday completely, which you'd think would be hard to do since it's the same date as my son's, but somehow I managed it. Argh. I am a terrible friend. After that, I couldn't get back to sleep; after trying for an hour, I finally gave up and got up. Maybe I'll be able to nap at some point today.

Okay, I needed to get all the kvetching out of the way. That said, it really was lovely to see my friends, and there were a lot of nice bits to the party. Here are a few of them.

Kavi woke up in a foul mood from her nap because she'd wet the bed and wasn't going to be able to wear the blue flower underwear she'd especially picked out for the party. I got her cleaned up, and managed to dig through the clean-not-yet-sorted laundry and find her some pink flowered ones, which calmed that crisis just long enough to segue directly into the next one, when she completely lost it because she desperately wanted to wear her favorite party dress, but she also didn't want anyone to see her band-aid on her upper arm, because they might touch it, and that would hurt! Which is wouldn't, because she got that shot a week ago, but she can be really persistent about these things, and somehow band-aids seem to just signal pain to her. She used to completely refuse to wear them, so I suppose we're making progress. I finally convinced her that it would be okay to wear a shirt under the dress, and she would still look beautiful, and that calmed her down enough to come down and lie on the couch for a while. I think she was really mostly just tired from this cold. Me too, baby. But she cheered up eventually, and was quite excited by all the food laid out while she'd been sleeping.

The downside of an automatic ice maker is that you no longer have ice cube trays lying around, so that you can freeze your little edible flowers into individual cubes, suitable for scooping into your drink and looking pretty. On the other hand, I'm remembering now that it's actually a little hard to drink your drink with a soggy flower floating in it once the ice has melted. It's maybe just as well that I froze them into a pyrex bowl and dumped that to float in the punch. Although it might have even looked prettier after the ice melted and they were just floating freely, so maybe next time I'll just skip the ice-freezing step entirely. I hope next year, I'll be growing enough violas and pansies and roses and nasturtiums that I can just gather them from my garden rather than buying them at the store. Something to look forward to.

Much of the detail of this lovely tea cake mold gets a little lost when you make tiny tea cakes with it; to keep the most beautiful details, I think you'd need to use it for making truffles instead. But the cakes were popular -- pound cake and chocolate cake, both from mixes, and I painted the chocolate ones with a little pearly sugar dust, which made them all sparkly. It was also kind of fun using a paint brush to sprinkle them with sparkly dust. Next time, maybe I'll let Kavi do it; she was napping when I did this part.

This was by far the most tastiest of the things I actually cooked (which, oddly, wasn't very much, when all was said and done -- I don't think I've ever had so little food take so long to prepare). Shredded cooked chicken thighs, a little mayo, Maesri green curry paste, Major grey mango-ginger chutney, fresh cilantro and Thai basil, all on potato bread (Kev's idea, and a great complement to the chicken). I used to do these in wonton cups, which is perhaps a prettier presentation -- certainly more elegant. But this is tastier. Highly recommended -- it got so many compliments that I may have to keep in the rotation for parties for quite a while.

I didn't get a good photo of it, but Heather and Aaron arrived bearing gifts -- one for Anand, and a fire dragon fruit for me. Gorgeous. It's also known as pitaya, and tastes sort of like kiwi, but milder, not quite as sweet. Heather and Aaron also cut up the peaches and berries for the fruit salad, for which I am grateful. I like eating fruit salad, but sometimes I get impatient with the chopping.

We had a fall woodland theme for the party, and isn't my little porcupine cute, watching over the napkins and plates? I also am very fond of the napkins, which I found at IKEA recently. And the green-leafed plates are from Target. For all your plant-based party needs.

The cookies really did come out very cute, but next time, I'm delegating the whole endeavour to Kevin and Kavya. He likes making cookies with her. I'll help with icing, but they can handle the rest. Cucumber sandwiches were a big hit, as always -- it's funny how delicious they are, and how perfect with tea. I think it's the butter.

Cheated and picked up the cranberry-orange scones from Whole Foods; they're acceptable, but I do like mine (or Kevin's, or Lori's) better by quite a bit. The WF ones are a bit crumbly, and also too small. That said, topped with clotted cream and some of my homemade strawberry jam, they were pretty amazingly good. Much tastier than my cake, to be honest.

So if you're tired of cooking for a party, this is what you do. You go to Trader Joe's, and you get three trays of their little frozen feta cheese and caramelized onion tarts. Bring them home, heat them up, serve them on something pretty, and you're golden. I think I ate at least half a dozen of these; I'm addicted to them. Thanks to Daniel and Anne who introduced me to them. We also got some of the mini crabcakes, but those were just okay; I don't think I'll likely use them again.

This is part of what took a long time -- learning how to use fondant, and then building a tree and sun. The horsey cake tins were from IKEA. It was definitely sort of fun putting this scene together, but also really time-consuming. And the end result wasn't particularly tasty -- just store-bought cake and mix. Fine for the kids, but not at all tempting for the adults. But I do think Anand and Kavi really liked the little woodland scene, so maybe it was worth doing. I'm not sure. Maybe I could do it faster next time. Or a few days ahead -- do you think you can freeze a cake and fondant like this, made two days ahead, and then just take it out a few hours before the party and let it come slowly up to room temperature?

I didn't really take many photos during the party itself; just chatting with folks, pulling out food and drink, etc. But the kids look pretty cute in this moment, as everyone sings Anand "Happy Birthday" and they eagerly wait to blow out the candles. Kavi 'helped', by which I mean she blew them out before Anand got a chance to even understand what he was supposed to do. He didn't seem to mind, though. They really get along pretty amazingly well these days, and it makes me happy, seeing them playing so well together. They're so affectionate with each other; it's insanely adorable.

I know you can't read it because it's upside down, but the sun says "Anand." Appropriate, because he really is a sunny, funny little guy. Happy birthday, baby. Not a baby anymore. It's strange, thinking that I'm done with babies. Mostly good, because I like kids a lot more than babies. But still.

And this last pic is as we're going up the stairs to bed. Kavi was just so sweet and happy and still delighted by her swirly dress. I had to make her stop and pose, just for a moment.

3 thoughts on “I’ve mostly learned that…”

  1. I love that Kavi picked out special undies for the party! Glad to hear everything went well.

    I’m totally with you on liking kids better than babies. I can get my baby fix with friends and relatives, and then when the baby cries or needs a diaper change, I can give the kid to someone else to handle that. That’s the best way, I think.

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