Little Alfie turned two this past Saturday, and like each of my baby’s birthdays, my emotions were running high and the day was oh so bittersweet. We kept things fairly simple and ended the day with some lit candles and really good cake. The recipe is below if you’d like a new one to try!
I’ll never forget the hubbub surrounding Stella’s first birthday where I tried really hard to do everything like I thought I was supposed to as a first time mom. It was French themed and too expensive and honestly way over the top. I remember thinking throughout the party, “What the heck did we get ourselves into? She’s ONE. It’s a big day for her and us, yes, but why the fuss? Why do people do this to themselves?” Andrew and I both decided after her party not make the mistake again of overdoing birthdays because others were doing it, and to celebrate simply instead. Now on some birthdays we do a little more, others a little less. I try not to make a huge deal of it all but rather aim for a good cake with a few gifts. If we can gather family, wonderful. If we can have a outdoor celebration, great. If a few friends can pop by, swell. And importantly: less presents and more presence.
When I was little (well that just aged me!) we would usually have a potluck at home and invite bunch of family members over. There would be cake, of course, and few presents. That was pretty much it. Maybe some balloons? The kids would run around barefoot outside and the parents would sit in lawn chairs drinking wine coolers. Today it feels like the parties we attend or see online are so much work and money and excess with no wine coolers. 😉 Do you feel that way? And it’s not that we don’t want to celebrate our kids or their special day, but I think setting the bar higher and higher each year could make things get out of hand pretty darn fast. I’d rather soak in the moments as they unfold throughout the party rather than wonder what other jobs I have to tend to in order to make sure the day looks perfect and everyone is satisfied. Anyway, that’s been on my mind.
Back to mister Alf and the day he turned two. Andrew had to work most of the day to prepare for a big test so the kids started our day at the farmer’s market and nearby park before they headed off to see Cars III with their nana and papa. The four of us spent the rest of the day in the backyard with Alfie’s new water table until dad got home. We went out for supper because I didn’t feel like making another kitchen mess after the cake, and the weather was perfect, like a mild 72 degrees. Afterwards we headed home for birthday cake! Alfie climbed up when he saw his two lit candles and blew them out well before we could finish singing, just like his brother and sister did when they turned two. It was a perfectly sweet way to end a really sweet day.
Here’s the recipe I used to make his cake. Don’t mind the haphazard layering and sloppy frosting job…my tiny cake decorators got a little carried away, but it sure tasted good! I decided on lemon poppyseed because those are some of our favorite muffins to have in the morning, and then a cream cheese frosting because I think it makes pretty much all desserts taste better. I had some dried and fresh blueberries on hand, so we added those too, along with some Queen Anne’s Lace the kids picked that morning to go on top! It was scrumptious!
Ingredients: *adapted from this original recipe
For the Cake…
- 4 farm eggs
- 1 cup canola or sunflower seed oil
- 1 2/3 cup coconut sugar (or cane if you have that)
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups almond flour or all-purpose flour (I used almond flour)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- zest two large lemons
- 2 tablespoons poppyseed
- 3/4 cup dried blueberries
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting…
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 3 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 drops of lemon essential oil or zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon of poppyseeds for outside layer
- fresh flowers to top, bonus points if they’re edible!
To prepare, preheat the oven oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray three 6-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Next mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract in a big bowl until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, lemon zest, poppyseeds, and sea salt. Alternate pouring the flour mixture and buttermilk into the wet ingredients until well combined. When mixed, divide the cake batter evenly among your prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes or cooked in the center. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting or you’ll end up with a runny mess! To make the lemon frosting, mix the softened butter and cream cheese with a standing or handheld mixer. Slowly add in powdered sugar and milk and lemon oil or zest, and mix for about 30 seconds. If using essential oil for this, make sure the brand you are using is absolutely safe to ingest. If not, lemon zest works well too. If you have little ones at home let them help you frost and decorate the cake even if it turns out a little wonky, they’ll love it!
Alrighty so what’s your take on kiddo birthday’s? Do you think simple is better? Do you have wild party experiences that have made you scale way back and reshape how you now go about birthdays?