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Anne of Green Gables Birthday

When I was young, I loved to read. So much so that I spent most waking moments reading. But I have a confession to make.

 I never read Anne of Green Gables.

I didn’t need to.

I had the movies. That was enough for me. Few movies brought me the sense of peace and longing that Anne of Green Gables did.

Then, about a year ago, we ran out of bedtime stories. I opened our storage room, rummaged around in a few boxes, and found some old books my parents brought me from my childhood. Among those books was a battered old copy of Anne of Green Gables.

We quickly read all the way through once. Twice. Then a third time. A brilliant spark of love and imagination leapt into Agatha. Every moment of our day revolved around Anne. Agatha wanted to know more about eastern Canada, specifically Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. She wanted to know more about the time period. She had to have an Anne doll.

The doll arrived several months ago providing hours and hours of imaginative play. You see, Agatha is my Anne girl. If ever there was a child with a flair for the dramatic, it’s her! Watching Agatha play with her Anne doll, exploring a world of make-believe and adventure brought back so many happy memories and made so many more.

When it came time to plan her birthday party, she had to have an Anne of Green Gables party.

A quick search brought up so many party ideas – the only problem? They were all for weddings. Not quite what I wanted for my newly 9 ear old!

Since google didn’t provide any inspiration, I decided to take mine right from the book. Shortly after Anne arrives at Green Gables, she’s invited to a picnic. I decided to make this picnic the backdrop for our party (with a bit of creative licence to keep a pile of children happy).

 

I love this theme so much partly because decorations are so easy! Anne loves flowers and all things feminine. I picked up a big bouquet from the store, divided the blooms and greens between several different vases and glass jars, then I snipped some blooms and more greens from my garden to fill everything in. Ribbons and bows around the home added that little something extra.Since the majority of the party was outside, I didn’t bother with any other decorations.

 

 

We stuck to simple dishes that’d be easy to bring to a picnic and also likely to find at Green Gables. Potato salad, sausage and veggie fry-up, cole slaw, veggies, and fresh picked gooseberries were on the menu. Of course we had to have raspberry cordial (we were sure not to confuse it with currant wine!) and apple cider for those that don’t like raspberries. Oh, and a favourite from childhood: matrimonial cake (date squares), just as good as I remember them!

I wanted to do something a little different for the birthday cake. I knew it needed to be very simple, but I still wanted that WOW factor. Pavlova was the perfect ending for the birthday celebration! The airy dessert showcased the fresh berries beautifully. I had one on the counter on display during the party, complete with berries and cream, but I kept the others waiting in the cool oven until it was time to serve. The one on display wasn’t expected to hold up (and it didn’t) but it still tasted great!

Party games included a 3-legged race – we allowed smaller children to run without tying them together – a chance to walk the ridgepole of the house (we had deck boards spread between two rocks that everyone had a chance to balance on – no risk of breaking necks or legs). The last activity took the longest, but may have been the most fun.

Everyone had the chance to make their own ice cream using ice and salt to freeze the cream. Before the party, we measured all the ingredients into individual serving sizes for each child, placed those into larger bags, and put them all in the fridge. We had a large stash of ice in the freezer and salt in the pantry. When it was time for the activity, it was easy to add the salt and ice to the large bags. Bigger children helped smaller children, once smaller children were sitting enjoying their ice cream, the older children were ready for their turn. We quickly learned that it was vitally important to rinse the outside of the ice cream bag in cold water before serving! Those first few bites were mighty salty! hahaha

Agatha chose the items for the favour bags. She wanted everyone to have a copy of the Lady of Shallot or The Wreck of the Hesperus (her two favourite poems), we also added a few fake flowers and a small jar of homemade apple butter. Simple, but perfectly themed.

Here’s to Agatha, the sweetest 9 year old I know!

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Moana Birthday Party

Miss Cordelia turned 6. I’m still not sure how that happened. I swear she was just a little, sweet smelling, squiggle, but here she’s 6 already! And what a 6 she is! It’s utterly amazing to see her vibrant personality shine through in everything she does. It’s no wonder she wanted a Moana themed party this year! This girl LOVES adventure!

I had so much fun creating this party! I listened to the soundtrack a dozen times a day while we planned and created prior to party day. Of course we also listened to it during the party. Because ‘it’s so SHINY!’ Yes, I’m singing while I type :p

I kept the party very low key because between renos, Ryan’s work schedule, and my finishing a few sculptures I didn’t have a ton of time to make a pile of decorations.  Instead I hung a cluster of blue balloons (ocean wave) with one green balloon in the centre (Heart of Te Fiti). I also used coconuts and pineapples for decorations on the counters. Otherwise the only decorations were the grass skirts and leis we handed out to our guests. I was sure I snapped a picture, but now I can’t find it. Inside the favour bags we had a green balloon (heart of Te Fiti), Surf Sweets candies, and a Moana Activity page. All the children also received leis and ‘grass’ skirts as well as their crafts to take home with them.

We had a ton of coconut snacks, fruit, Polynesian style Tofu, and Polynesian Style Pork.

Games were pretty simple. Prior to the party, we made paper mâché coconuts. At the party each guest was able to paint one to look like a kakamora. I kept it simple with only 2 paint colours (red and White). I also had a table with popsicle sticks and glue so the guests could all make their own boat. And last, but not least, I turned on a Disney Sing Along that has a basic Hula Dance for children. It briefly explained what the hula is and why it’s danced, then they do a slow walk through of the motions, followed by a faster version. The video was from the 80s, it was pretty hokey, but I can’t help myself, I love it! 😀

We can’t forget the cake! I’m really happy with how this turned out. It’s taken me forever, but I’ve finally created a white cake recipe I like that isn’t super dense the way other white gluten-free cakes are. I also managed a pretty decent job decorating it too! I know it’s not perfect, but I try really hard to give my children the birthday cakes they want when it’s impossible to order a safe cake around here.

For the cupcakes, we peeled a pineapple, then thinly sliced the fruit (core intact). I dehydrated the fruit until it was no longer juicy. I then placed the fruit slices into mini cupcake pan holes so they’d get a nice flower shape. I sliced from the edge toward the centre anyplace that needed it so the ‘flower’ would lay open nicely. Then I continued to dehydrate until they were firm and held their shape. I placed them on the cupcakes the day of the party, but if they’re sufficiently dried you can put hem on the cupcakes the day before. But they will soak up some moisture from the frosting, so if they aren’t sufficiently dehydrated they’d lose their shape.

The cake decorations were made with white and milk chocolate modelling clay. I used the white to make the boat’s sail around a wooden skewer. I used the milk chocolate to make the base of the boat, and the smaller side of the boat as well as the weave between the two. I combined the white and milk chocolate to create a wood like effect, and pressed the blend clay into a silicone mold I have that looks like a wood floor. Once everything hardened I  added the flag to the boat.

Both the cake and the cupcakes were topped with boiled frosting (AKA 7 minute frosting).

I made a few shells and a couple coconut trees with the left over chocolate clay. The shells were lovely, the trees looked funny, but Cordelia liked them. So really, that’s all that matters.

I was so happy with how everything turned out, and Cordelia is still talking about ‘the best birthday EVER!’ So I’m happy.

 

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Mystery Birthday Party

 

We’ve been loving reading the Agatha Girl of Mystery books, so when we asked Agatha what kind of party she wanted, there was no question. She wanted a mystery party!

Agatha 8th Birthday

The invitation was the cover of one of the books, with a few additions of my own. Agatha LOVED it!

I have to admit, I had no idea how I was going to pull of a mystery party at first, but after spending a ton of time on pinterest, I had a plan!

The guests ranged in age from 1 up to 11, plus the adults. So I wanted to make sure everyone would be able to join in the games without them being to ‘young’ for the bigger kids.

We decided our party would be a secret detective academy. All the activities and games revolved around training them to be super secret detectives.

When the party guests arrived, they were greeted by this video:

I ushered them into the office where they made ID badges (they drew a picture of themselves, created an alias, and listed their detective strengths). When they were done creating their secret identity, then moved tot he next station where they obtained their weapons. They created marshmallow poppers with disposable party cups, balloons, and masking tape.

Then they took a break to have a snack, and shoot marshmallows all over the place. (This may have been the worst party to clean up after, just fair warning!)

Next it was time to hone the new recruits observational skills. They played ‘Disney’s Eye Found It’, a game that requires them to work together, and even Brom could join in without feeling left behind. We also had ‘Operation’ to hone their dexterity, which is vital to picking up the smallest clues forma crime scene. And, of course, we had the game of ‘Clue’ though no one bothered playing that game because there was too much going on at the party.

While the children were all running around shooting each other with marshmallows and hopping between games, the TV suddenly turned on and this message appeared:

 

The front door slammed, when Ryan went to look there was a message at the front door alerting us that Mr. X had stolen the goodie bags!

They hunted around and found a clue that led them to the basement, then to the garage, then into the living room where they found the goodie bags hidden in a cupboard. They had so much fun!

Unfortunately, Agatha expected to receive a second mission. We only had one mission available 🙁 so we served them cake and had her open presents lol She felt better.

Each goodie bag contained a magnifying glass, a fake moustache, a pair of sunglasses, a pad of paper, a pencil, and an eraser. Everything a detective needs to begin solving crime!

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Under the Sea Party

Come along and Follow me, to the bottom of the sea! 

 

 

I may have created a monster (or 4), first the Inside Out party, then the Harry Potter party, now they all want themed parties with activities and decorations!

My dream is to create parties that look amazing and where the guests all have a great time, while also not driving myself over the edge. This party found a happy balance between time, energy, and money put into the food and decorations while also looking good. Well, as good as a home in the middle of renos can look! lol

The dollar store was my friend for the decorations and activities. Most of the items will be able to be re-used for future parties, and the cost was perfect for our super small budget!

The biggest hit of the party were the water beads and foam sea creatures.

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At first the children reached in and just enjoyed the feel, though it didn’t take long for them to start experimenting with squishing them, dropping them, bouncing them, throwing them, and then climbing right into the tub.

It looked like a huge mess at first, but it was really easy to clean up the next day (the beads just shrink right back down to their pre soaked size) and if you step on them, they just squish and don’t have a gritty feel and nothing gets sticky. A quick vacuum and everything was good as new.

Once all the party guests arrived, I sent them to the craft area. Pipe cleaners and coffee filters were used to create ‘sea anemones’, and I made some puff paint with glue and shaving cream and they all worked together to create a puffy masterpiece on a 1.5m x 1m length of paper.

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The great thing about this paint is it’s super easy to clean after it dries. Just pick it up and throw it out. Poor Ryan thought he needed to clean it while wet and panicked when it fell on the carpet. But it really was a breeze to clean the next day.

I loved creating the menu for this party! Mostly because it was so easy! The main dishes were shells and cheese and ‘octo-dogs’ (hot dogs with the lower half cut into quarters lengthways to resemble octopus tentacles).

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Some of the children were a little nervous trying starfruit for the first time, but it’s so good that most of them had seconds or thirds!

We also had a bowl of ‘sea’ cake, as well as a few little treats: meringue ‘pearls’ and hard candy ‘sea glass’. I really want to find a way to make hard candy that’s light enough to be coloured. But corn-free candy means I can’t use the light corn syrup most recipes call for.

 

While the guests snacked and moved from one activity to another, they also played with heir ‘puffer fish’ (punching balloons). Everyone had a great time and it seemed things couldn’t get any better.

And then there was cake! I’m ridiculously proud of this cake! First, gluten-free baking isn’t always easy, second, corn-free frosting means the colours are often very pale, and fade very quickly, so it has to be decorated as close to party time as possible.

 

To colour the frosting, I boiled red cabbage to get a pretty purple liquid, strained out the cabbage until only the liquid remained in the pot, then boiled it down from about 2 cups worth to just over 1/4 cup worth. It was thicker and kind of syrupy at this point. Then I added just a pinch of baking soda.

I added about 1/2 tsp to the huge batch of frosting and mixed well. The result was an amazing blue colour. (It really was gorgeous!) The blue faded to sea green over night.

The shells are made with white chocolate and dusted with edible glitter. The ‘sand’ is ground almonds and the pier pillars are marshmallows painted with white and dark chocolate. The birthday sign at the top is white chocolate painted with dark chocolate for the letters. The entire thing was super easy to make and only took about 30 minutes to decorate (the shells and marshmallows were made in advance, a week prior).

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Don’t mind the grumpy daddy face in the back-ground. It’s difficult to get a good picture of everyone without also having extra people in the picture.

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The birthday girl wearing the dress I made her for her birthday and excitedly opening presents.