Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Horse Birthday Cake

Above is a photograph of Lina's 6th birthday cake.

I found a recipe on a parenting web site for a horse birthday cake design and it was very helpful to see a diagram of how to cut up the cakes and assemble it all to look like a horse's head and neck. They also had nice ideas for how to decorate it easily. I customized the decorations and I was told by grown-ups that the cake "looks amazing," "the horse looks like he has a nice personality" etc. Lina told me "That looks like a real horse!... You're a great decorator! You should work in a restaurant!"

It took me 1 1/2 hours to cut up, assemble and decorate the cake. (In my early 30's, I took an art class at Parsons and I was an expert at cutting up Styrofoam and cardboard into shapes of objects, on first attempt...that's how natural this felt.) I only had two tools on hand (I never decorated a cake in my life and I didn't expect to on short notice): a plastic knife (for cutting and spreading) and a Ziploc bag (to serve as the pastry bag, filled with frosting and sealed up, with just a small cut to a corner). Certainly a huge savings...since a custom cake costs so much in NYC.

I couldn't bake the cake in our current (transitional) kitchen, so V's awesome mom was kind enough to give me (1) 8" round cake (it was pink...a strawberry flavor) and (1) 9" square cake (it was vanilla...with rainbow chips) that they made at their home, which served as the yummy base.

Photographs showing how I transformed those two cakes to the horse head & neck:

I think what makes the horse halter look unique is that I decided to layer Fruit by the Foot...I had rainbow rectangular strips I put down first and then red triangular ones I placed on top. Since Lina loves purple...I added purple frosting (vanilla frosting that I mixed with red drops +  blue drops of food coloring) to the ears, eye lid and I also made a purple smile. Chocolate Twizzlers became the mane, a green M&M for the eye and a dark purple jelly bean as the nostril...and colorful sprinkles for the eyelashes. Pretty simple, cheap and a convincing looking horse. Most important...the girls loved eating the birthday cake.

And then they played in Lina's purple room with her new birthday toys...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cinderella, Bello Mania & Hansel and Gretel

This month we saw three new shows we enjoyed very much: 
  • A 45 minute Cinderella puppet show at Puppetworks in Park Slope. Lina said "it was very silly when it didn't fit the person, the shoe."
  • A thrilling 90-minute (with 1 intermission) acrobatics act for families, Bello Mania, at the New Victory Theater in Times Square. The star performer's name is Bello Nock and he is a charismatic daredevil clown with a signature hairstyle of foot-high natural red hair. His lovely teenage daughter was also in the show, the aerialist Annaliese Nock, the eighth generation of a family of circus performers. Lina loved Bello's first act (when a bicycle kept falling apart and he was riding on it, bit by bit, as he attempted to put it back together)...she said "it was funny the beginning with the bicycle!" Bello also went up on a high sway pole, rode a miniature bike on a high wire, showed off his talents in a terrific trampoline act and climbed up a bunch of chairs (I lost count at around 7 or 8) that he stacked to balance upon on top.
  • Hansel and Gretel at Lincoln Center gave Lina her first taste of opera, with a live orchestra (music by Engelbert Humperdinck). This was part of the Happy Concerts for Young People series (for ages 6-12) and it was a very kid-friendly show (just under an hour and even the opera was in English). Lina said "I liked the singing and I want to see this show again right now!"