photo of white cake with candles on top

This Birthday Cake Hack a Bit of a Letdown

photo of white cake with candles on top
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

One of my social media feeds recently presented me with some birthday cake related videos. One promised a “life changing” birthday cake hack. As my loyal readers can well imagine, I couldn’t click fast enough. I love cake. And I’m not against a good hack either.

Yet what made this birthday cake hack video into a blog? My disappointment.

The most appealing part is at the beginning when the person offering the hack (I assume I can’t call her a hacker, that’s got bad cybersecurity connotations) cuts the middle out of the cake using a tall water glass. After pushing the glass through the center of the layered cake, she is able to pull the glass out with a little yummy round cake-let. Loved this idea. I’m thinking I could layer a sheet cake but then use a glass to give everyone a nice little individual cake to enjoy solo. That’s an ingenious hack. Yum!

But she keeps on going. She takes this gaping hole in the middle of the cake and shoves it full of not one, not two, not three, but five different kinds of store bought sprinkles. She just dumps the containers on in there, then lathers the top with frosting.

I thought she might mix the icing and the sprinkles, but no. It’s all just sitting in the hole in the cake’s center. She then puts more sprinkles on to the top of the cake to cover the fact that the frosting‘s no longer match.

“I’m turning this $5 cake into a $500 cake!”

Image from: Google, Allie Sparks Cake Hack

She and her camera person* agree this hack is making the cake so much better. But what she’s really done is built a sugar bomb. And she’s taken away the delicious CAKE!

This is all about the image of the cake. The idea of cutting into a cake that will explode with colorful sprinkles and look amazing on social media feed slo-mo videos or in your Instagram story. Even if you like sprinkles, you don’t actually get that many more of them. Only a few actually affix to the cake because there is no icing used other than to seal the top for the surprise effect.

This birthday cake hack totally throws off the cake to icing to toppings ratio! It has rendered the scrumptious birthday treat into a social media phenomenon. Boo.

Other Ideas for this Birthday Cake Hack

This hack could be really useful for a kid’s party if you, say, built a volcano-like cake. The kid cutting into it could have orange and red icing spew out like lava. Cool. Or maybe you could make it a lucrative surprise by putting coins inside. That would be fun too. Especially in countries where coins actually add up quite quickly to a good chunk of dough.

But as this cake hack works currently, I am not impressed. Too little cake. Too much mess. It’s not meant to be eaten but rather make a visual feast for your followers. So, if you’re going to serve up this particular birthday cake, may I suggest you also get another cake to actually let the dessert lovers at your party enjoy?

* Btw, if you watch the video it’s worth doing so with the volume on rather than the captions. That way you can enjoy the camera person’s cake porn oohs and aahs.

Best Birthday Gift Ever: Survey Says

christmas gifts and ornaments
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

I have a survey live on Surveymonkey that asks people to share their thoughts on birthdays. It is really fun to see what people have to say. Plus, it gives me fresh insights to write about for you, my loyal readers. I know you’ve been dying to know what my 40 random people who have answered my poll have to say about their best birthday gift. How could you not?

So, to keep you in suspense no longer, I hereby share the range of responses I have received to the question: “What is the best birthday gift you have ever been given?”

Best Birthday Gift: Technology

Laptops came up a lot as a favorite birthday gift. Though someone did pair their laptop and their Kindle together as the best gift. Getting both in one birthday? I bet that was a good year!

A Nintendo Switch made the grade for another of my respondents. An iPhone and an iPad made the list too. Plus, another person was happiest about a Smart Watch. That’s someone who might like to read about the people who go to the gym or do a specialized birthday workout on their big day.

Best Birthday Gift: Personalized

One respondent was happier with a “chain with my initial on it.” Me, I’m always thrilled to find something cool with a Q, so I can relate. Then, someone was most pleased with a Bible from her Dad. Another person was pleased to get a surprise party. I’m counting that as personal since it would be all that person’s family and friends who made the effort.

Someone else said “love.” Sappy but true. But a good answer because it’s a safe guess you’ll get some birthday love from someone every year. Even if it is from your momma!

Best Birthday Gift: Money

Show me the money! Of course this one came up more than once. Three times in fact. That’s as many times as I got a variation of “I don’t know.” So really, we can probably double that money number. You know those IDK folks just weren’t brave enough to put down money. As if we can judge anonymous users for being greedy!

I’m also going to put the “car” answer in this section. C’mon, a car? That’s the equivalent of a lot of moolah.

Best Birthday Gift: Miscellaneous

Then, there were the ones that are harder to categorize. Options included:

There was the gift recipient we all want to have in our lives who said, “I appreciate all types of gifts.” Another person responded “nothing yet.” But I’m going to take the positive perspective on this one. At least the person was optimistic enough to say “yet.” They remain hopeful a best birthday gift is on the horizon.

Birthday Joy & the COVID Vaccine

COVID Vaccine birthday
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/50383691178

Birthdays are Best is Back

Yep, you read that correctly. I am, perhaps insanely, adding to my writing life again by returning to my birthdays blog. I don’t promise to write as regularly, but I plan to take this next year to share some of the things I’ve encountered about birthdays since my hiatus in 2019. Gulp, has it really been that long? It’s not as if I needed the COVID vaccine to be online, right?

First, what’s prompted the return? Honestly, many things over the past two years that have made me think “oh, that would be fun for the blog.” But, volunteering at a vaccine health clinic here recently made up my mind. I was the parking lot attendant. That means a bright orange vest, moving pylons, and smiling and saying hello a lot. The clinic was said to be serving 1,100 people a day. So that meant many, many happy people streaming in and out of the location I was at in Charlotte, NC. 

One of the other volunteers said to me that it was his favorite volunteering experience ever. Because everyone was so cheerful. I was all the more cheerful when my name was called as a lucky volunteer to receive one of the doses that would have gone to waste otherwise. I felt even better at the end of the night when I saw the last of the volunteers who had put their name in box for a chance at the vaccine in the observation room. That means all volunteers who put their names in that shift were able to walk out with a vaccine. Some of the people who had come to wait in the parking lot for hours hoping to be called also were getting their shots. 

COVID Vaccine Means More Birthdays

But, you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with birthdays. Well, I was at a Novant clinic. The entire building they had taken over for this event was branded with their purple messaging. 

Note to self: if I ever wanted to be in medicine I would have to work for them so I could wear the vibrant purple scrubs everyone was wearing. Note to self #2: Don’t be insane. Your shaky hands and quickness to faint are not meant for medical career. 

My favorite of the signs was an arrow on the floor pointing to the exit. On a purple background the white words read: “I got my shot.” Then, the reasons were given: to “play sports,” “have a birthday party,” and “attend a concert.”

Of course the second one is what inspired me most. I loved that birthday parties made the list of top three reasons someone might get the COVID vaccine. And I wanted to share this with you, my fellow birthday enthusiasts.

More Birthday Fun to Come

Look for future blogs sharing the results of that simple birthday survey I so unscientifically posted years ago. More celebrity birthday gawking and other fun stuff around the beauty of birthdays. A birthday makes us feel special and brings us all together to show our love for friends and family.

Birthday Expenses and 50 Presents Each!

 

This week I went to two different birthday events. First was a surprise party for a 40-year-old. My husband, at the adult party, shared a vent with the milestone birthday man about December birthdays and how they only get “half” the presents/attention. 

The next night we went to a gathering at a pizza place on a kids’ night for a 10-year-old who “didn’t want a party.” I wondered if his parents would be able to remind him later on (say, when’s he 40 and complaining about getting shafted) that he was the one to say “no” to an official party!

Not that his parents were complaining, I’m sure. Especially at this time of year, it was probably a treat to save some money. Research from Barclays in the U.K. recently found that “the average parent will spend nearly £5,000 on celebrating birthdays during the ages of four and 11. Typically, adults spend £433.39 on birthday parties and another £164.65 on presidents.” (Yeah, I had to direct quote that because I love the typo in presents. I would have thought presidents would cost more!).

The top five party expenses were:

  • Catering
  • Entertainment
  • Party bags
  • Activities 
  • Cake.

You’d think some money could be saved hosting the party at home. That may be true, but this was the survey’s “most stressful venue for a birthday party.”

But some parents also buy as many as 50 presents per birthday, the study revealed. 

Barclay’s, being a financial institution, took the opportunity in reporting on the study to remind people, “the money you spend on presents and parties adds up and ultimately can end up having quite an impact on the savings you might have otherwise put aside for your child’s future.” Clare Francis, savings and investments director at Barclays, said: “The sooner you start saving, the better your financial trajectory will be.”

Starting at Year One

A Pop Sugar columnist would likely argue to start saving that money at year one. After all, her article is entitled, “Why You Honestly Shouldn’t Even Bother Throwing a Big First Birthday Party.”

She described the relaxed approach to her second child’s first birthday party: “It was a no-muss, no-fuss kind of party, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” But this was a far cry from the stress of the first child’s first birthday party with “an intricate fondant-covered cake, blanketing the house in expensive decorations, and spending most of the party bouncing around the house making sure everyone had everything they needed.”

Looking back, recognizing that neither child will remember the event, she suggests “throw the rules out the window and do your kid’s birthday the way YOU want to.”

That likely means 50 presents and hundreds of dollars for some and low-pomp but lots of family fun for others. 

Finally, while we’re talking about birthday expenses, I’ll also share this article from Bustle on how millennial women deal with splitting the bill at birthday dinners. The more you know, right?

100th Birthday Brunch Becomes a Wedding Party

birthday wedding

Source: NYT

On Labor Day 2018, Mannie Corman invited 160-plus people to celebrate his 100th birthday. He even wore a black shirt reading “Vintage 1918; Aged to perfection,” and a matching hat with the number 100 printed in white.

Guests who had flown in from California, Las Vegas and Texas with others from New York enjoyed a crooner singing, a roaming photo booth, and the enthusiastic welcome of Mr. Corman and his girlfriend of seven years, Judith Goldman, 76.

After awhile, the guests were invited to take their seats at the tables in Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn. The centerpieces featured handmade wooden boxes depicting a specific year of Mr. Corman’s century. Before the buffet stations began serving though, a  closed black velvet curtain opened to reveal a flower girl and ring bearer.

Ms. Goldman, who’d added a veil to her white ensemble, and Mr. Corman, who’d added a black tux jacket, entered behind them while “Young at Heart” played in the background. A collapsible huppah appeared and was immediately erected for family members to hold the corners.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/06/fashion/weddings/a-100th-birthday-celebration-and-surprise-a-wedding-too.html

Source: NYT

Will You Marry Me?

Mr. Corman began asking Ms. Goldman to marry him in 2014. She refused, because she was unwilling to move to Brooklyn. He finally won her over, and they decided to marry. Initially they were going to do so after the birthday party. Then, realizing that they didn’t want to plan another big event, they decided to do both celebrations in one.

“When you go with a girl like Judy, you’re supposed to marry her. That’s the way it works,” Mr. Corman told the New York Times.

The guests were happy to part of the birthday/wedding event.

“I’ve known Mannie for more than 50 years, I never dreamed he would be having a wedding,” Steven Cohn told the New York Times. “It’s fabulous. It’s an inspiration for us. It’s never too late.”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, who married the couple and officiated at more than 1,000 weddings, said Mr. Corman is the oldest groom he has ever married.

“People like Mannie and Judith recognize the importance of each and every day,” he told the Times. “They don’t worry about tomorrow. They may think about yesterday, but they concentrate on today.”

What better mentality to bring to your birthday — whatever age you are turning?

Unicorn party idea

Unicorn Birthdays and Celebrity Sparkle

Sometimes it is just fun to see how the rich and famous live. No, I’m not a Kardashian loyalist. But, when my birthday news alert (yes, I have one of those!) blew up with coverage of a Kardashian birthday party I couldn’t resist.

Cousins North (who turns 5 on June 15) and Penelope (6 on July 8)  wore matching rainbow-colored robes and swimsuits at the June 3 party Kim shared on Instagram. There were also horses with sparkly manes and rainbow-colored horns!

 

 

Grandma Kris Jenner…wonder what they actually call her (is there still a show people watch and already know that?) was also covered cuddling
with Dream Kardashian.

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Unicorn Party Ideas

The theme is popular for parties, so I thought I’d share some great unicorn party touches. Like this one to make Unicorn Poop Slime, which I know several girls in my neighborhood would absolutely love.

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Or let everyone wear a unicorn horn headband. Crafty kids could make their own at the party.

unicorn party ideas
You can easily go on Amazon and buy a cake topper that converts a cake into a unicorn.
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Or you might make these fondant golden horn cupcake toppers.

unicorn party idea

Then, there all the games you might play. There’s the obvious Pin the Tail on the Unicorn. Or, you could give each partygoer their own Unicorn to ride, as suggested in LollyJane’s 17 unicorn party ideas.

unicorn party idea

unicorn party idea

There are also videos and tutorials online to make your very own unicorn piñata.

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UNICORNS! It’s the best of little girl dreams: horses, magic, color, and — if it were my party — sparkle.

Queen E. II Rocks Out on Her Birthday

Queen's birthday

Image source Reuters

Many Brits love their Queen, and the fact that she has two birthdays regularly gets a spike in news coverage at this time of year. I’ve mentioned this before — the two birthdays for the monarch goes back to 1748 when England’s King George II, born in November, wanted a fair weather birthday celebration. He decided to make his official birthday in June, and the habit stuck.

This year, though, to celebrate her 92nd birthday, Queen Elizabeth II was feted with a star-studded pop concert. We’re talking Sting, Tom Jones… In fact, the opening number for the night was his “It’s Not Unusual,” which I have long loved for the hilarity of the “oonga shaka” chorus.

Shaggy, Kylie Minogue, Shawn Mendes, and Ladysmith Black Mambo were also among those on the bill for the longest-reigning, living monarch’s shindig in London’s Albert Hall. The Queen took the throne, in case you aren’t old enough to remember, in 1952! At the end of the concert, Prince Charles, 70, took the stage to lead a rousing round of cheers for his mother, who at 92 is also the oldest living monarch.

Birthday Fundraising

The concert was a “break in tradition” for the Queen as she usually celebrates more privately (and maybe noshing on jellied corgis, per a previous blog). Many of the Royal family members joined her in the box for this rocking birthday bash, which was also televised and aired on BBC channels.

The Queen’s actual birthday of April 21 was also marked with an honorary gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London and in the town of Windsor.

The concert was also a fundraiser for The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, so she gets to join my list also of people who use their birthdays to raise donations or show generosity to others. The charity, led by her grandson Harry, will “encourage young people to excel in areas like sports, education, health and the environment across the 53 Commonwealth countries.”

Queen's Birthday

Image source Reuters

Birthday Concert Just the Beginning

Of course, the concert is only one of the Queen’s birthday events. I mean, she’s really someone who knows how to keep the birthday going and going, In June, all of London will celebrate her “official” birthday at the Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade which will bring all the royals back to the balcony of the Palace (including, presumably, the by then newly married Henry and Meghan). 

According to the Royal Mint, “during the ceremony, trained and fully operational members of the Household Division greet The Queen with a royal salute. She then inspects the troops, riding past them in a carriage. After the massed bands have performed a musical ‘troop,’ the regimental colour, or flag, is carried down the ranks of troops. Chalk up one more advantage to being Queen — the picture below suggests this pomp and circumstance is probably a bit more exciting than a balloon bouquet!

Queen birthday

Trooping the Colour, from the Royal Mint

Celebrating the First Birthday in a Bar

first birthday

Image source: New York Post

New York City is always the trendsetter, right? Well, how do you feel about following suit on this idea — baby birthday parties in bars.

According to the New York Post, “Baby birthday parties have infested Brooklyn’s bar scene.” Really, the choice of the verb “infested” alone suggests how the Living columnist Molly Shea feels about it — or at least the page editor who wrote the headline.

Shea goes to a German beer hall on a Saturday to witness its hosting five separate first birthday bashes! The article includes a picture of parents celebrating their son’s first birthday with beer steins that are as big as the birthday boy himself! Little Dante is not nursing after this party, that’s for sure!

first birthday

Image Source: New York Post

Shea describes: “The long, wooden tables in the cavernous space… covered in Mickey Mouse tablecloths, party hats, gluten-free cupcakes and pitcher upon pitcher of German beer.” The bar’s events manager tells her “we have at least one toddler birthday party a weekend, if not more.”

According to the paper, “Kiddie celebrations are a big draw for Staten Island brewery Flagship, too. ‘At this point, the majority of parties thrown at Flagship are first birthday parties,’ says event director Tricia Sykes.” Amazing!

Why a first birthday in a bar exactly?

Space is at a premium in NYC, and renting out a play space is expensive. So, the breweries and beer halls are picking up the slack. It certainly highlights the fact that first year birthday parties are more for the adults than the babies themselves. They won’t remember, but the Moms and Dads sure deserve the opportunity to celebrate surviving the first year of parenthood.

Another Mom spoke to the Post about hosting her party at another “boozy hangout” but really focusing on the parents. She simply set up playpens and a ball pit in one area for the kids and then invited the parents to sit and sip at tap room tables. “The party was definitely more for adults,” she said.

These places are kid friendly to a point — setting limits on when children can be there for instance and discouraging parties for kids old enough to run around and wreck havoc. Still, you’ve got to imagine some other bar goers are surprised by the number of strollers in the aisles and kids running rampant.

first birthday

Image source: New York Post

Ultimately, it’s a trend that makes sense. Having lived in Chicago and Toronto I could see this idea easily taking hold there too. It’s about space and cost, and knowing your audience. Now, the trend I want to see in two decades is kids coming back to the same breweries to celebrate their turning 21 too. That could be cool nostalgia.

The upside of our 40s?

birthdays

Photo on Foter.com

At a surprise birthday dinner for a friend the other night, someone suggested we offer encouraging input about turning 40. The other women at the table, even the one person who was not yet 40, chimed in with how much stronger they felt now that they were older:

  • “I know what I want and can ask for it.”
  • “I don’t care as much what other people think.”
  • “I’m better at saying No.”
  • “I can love the people I choose to love and not worry so much about the others.”
  • “I’ve figured out who I am.”

All this sounds great, right? But I was having a more difficult time coming up with positives. I still love birthdays, but I feel as if this is the year where I stopped loving getting older.

The flip side of 40s

In the past I was the youngest of all my friends, so that helped. But that’s not true any longer. At this event, I was the deepest into the 40s of any of the women at the table. Later that night I asked the same question of my husband, a year older than me. He also didn’t have a lot great to say about being in our 40s. Our list looks more like:

  • “My hair is really turning gray now — all over.”
  • “The wrinkles on my face are deepening noticeably.”
  • “It is nearly impossible to lose any weight no matter how much I exercise or how well I eat.”
  • “More foods disagree with me now.”
  • “My body takes so much longer to recover from exercise now.”

Now, the obvious answer is that we’re just more negative people (or a cake half eaten kind of people). But, I don’t know about that. I am otherwise in a good place in my life. I practice mindfulness. I am exercising regularly. I eat more intentionally than I have in the past. I am doing a job I love. I get to blog about birthdays…

Maybe I’m just more of a realist. The women at the table were being cheerleaders helping the woman turning 40 to feel good about her milestone birthday. They might agree with me about all of the items on the second list, but realized that wasn’t what our friend wanted to hear at that moment. So, let’s chalk it up to another advantage of being 40 — we know when to keep our mouths shut in favor of greater peace and happiness. for those around us!

Pooch Parties — Woof Woof Good.

Animals & birthdays….who can pass up the cuteness? Not me. I am back with another birthday animal blog, because I love them!

This one is inspired by a fun canine birthday party an Illinois TV station covered. Comfort dogs Payton and Eli were turning four earlier this year, so Pawprint Ministries celebrated with a birthday party for several of the pooches it has out in action in six cities offering love and support.

dog birthday

The India Times picked up a story about police officers in Beijing, China, celebrating their service dog’s birthdays with dog-friendly cake.

dog birthday

Dog Birthdays Online

Social media is a great source of animal birthday party fun, too.

How about this hilarious video with Morrisville, Pennsylvania pet owners singing “Happy Birthday” to their contented pooch who pants contentedly and then eats a cookie without getting up from his chair all while his buddy dog has a real issue with his hat.

I also found about Le Doggy Café, in Montreal Quebec, which invites pet owners to celebrate their pup’s birthday with four-legged pals. Check out the tongue-licking, tail-wagging fun in this one

If you think these folks are in the minority, you’d be wrong. The Daily Mail reported on a dog food company’s survey findings that 75% of pet owners celebrate their furry friends’ birthdays. Some 58% also sing the “Happy Birthday” song.

dog birthday

The only drawback is that many people make their dog’s cakes out of dog food — that means the humans can’t share a piece!