Only a 5-year-old boy would have the good taste to request his mom’s Perfect Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes for his birthday dinner — accented with Star Wars decor, of course. Older Daughter obligingly whipped up a batch while Younger Daughter sliced the berries and made sweetened and real whipped cream. Family and friends sat down to the feast, even husband JP, who although he’s successfully sticking to a low-carb eating plan, cheerfully made an exception for Older Grandson’s birthday party. It’s what grandparents do. And only a 5-year-old boy would request the following for his special day: A trip to a nearby state park to explore a cave, a visit to the local children’s science museum, a pogo stick, Legos (always on any list he makes) and a dinosaur model that includes bones, muscles and a pink squishy stomach and other mysterious parts. Of course, all requests were granted.
Our younger grandson turned 1 year old this past weekend and my son-in-law’s family hosted a joyous party on a perfect fall afternoon. Older Daughter, mom to the birthday boy, asked one of her friends who’s a super photographer, Danielle McCann, to come and take photos. This was the best idea ever, because that meant we adoring relatives could simply stand around and admire instead of stressing about preserving precious moments for posterity. Well done, Older Daughter! And well done, Danielle (Or “DeeDee” as she’s known at our house) for these wonderful photos. And well done Younger Daughter, too, who couldn’t resist the creative forces that were unleashed and so wrote this caption for the photo above: “As he stood from the ashes of the dying trees, the Young Child suddenly realized his camouflage had failed him. He froze. But the game was over. ‘Curse you, Robin’s Egg Blue!! CURSE YOUUU!!!'” My family …
Hmmm ... “Toy Story,” “Cars” and Angry Birds. Must have been 4-year-old grandson Nolan’s birthday — with presents from Kacky and John wrapped in all his favorite things. And even though I believe in minimizing consumerism (except for shoes, of course, and the eternal quest for the Perfect Pair of Jeans), ignoring commercialism (but I really want to try the Cover Girl makeup that both Ellen and Sofia Vergara like), reducing waste and refusing to buy into the must-buy mentality (although I’m on the lookout for a simple yet flattering khaki skirt so please let me know if you stumble across one), none of that matters when my grandson wants the latest Cars play set. Grandparenthood triumphs — trumps green living. On the other hand ... it did feel pretty good when Older Daughter and I decorated a plain and basic bakery cake with Angry Bird toys Nolan ALREADY HAD to create his asked-for Angry Birds birthday cake. Recycling does have its place.
I promise you: These miniature cupcakes — “petit fours” in northwest Alabama-ese — are as yummy as they look. Here in my town, if you’re having any kind of party you’ve got to have petit fours from the Victorian Tea Room. They are so soft and tender and melty you barely have to chew them up. If it’s a celebration, you’ll find Victorian Tea Room petit fours. Over the years, I’d say I’ve served hundreds of them here at our house. When Older Daughter got married, she had four — count ’em, four — Victorian Tea Room wedding cakes that tasted just like big petit fours. People still come up to me and say, “I’m dreaming about those wedding cakes.” Yes, indeedy. The kind folks who make these will decorate the tops any way you like — flowers, baby shoes, class years in school colors. And even though Older Daughter has grown up and moved an hour away and has her own house and her own family, she adheres to tradition and wanted Victorian Tea Room petit fours for Capt. Adorable’s second-birthday party. And, really, they’re perfect for toddlers. Plus, adults gobble them up like them, too. As her contribution to the Captain’s party, Younger Daughter wanted to decorate them herself. So we ordered four dozen plain and YD tapped into her inner cupcake-artist to create these beautiful little bites of adorable cuteness. The plan was for me to do some, too. However, you see the polka-dot ones in the upper left-hand corner? And the one with the big gloppy dot in the middle? That was the one I started … until YD gently took the tubes of colored gel away from me and suggested that I merely observe. She was right. Also: We should have ordered five dozen, because they went fast. Check out the Victorian Tea Room at http://victoriantearoomcatering.com