When I was younger, there was no particular occasion to celebrate in August. I remember I had a lazy time, hanging out in the sweet haze of Summer with Mum and Dad, my younger brother, nanas and grandads, aunties, uncles, cousins and friends. We generally spent our time on the beach, jumping in the waves and playing in the estuary, or hanging out with my family on my Mum’s side in the East Midlands. Oh man, these days August is just so different; in an equally fantastic yet exhausting way! Both our kiddies have their birthdays, we also have our wedding anniversary, and this year we have the added excitement of our eldest starting primary school! We know lots of other lovely little ones born in August as well. Oh, and my sister-in-law is also an August baby. Since when did August become so popular to give birth?!
When I was growing up we had lots of parties and get togethers; celebrating and marking any occasion we could. My family loves any excuse for a party from the elaborate pre-planned party to the simple last minute impromptu party. My Mum and Nanas always had something in just in case anyone turned up and we needed to celebrate something. Really, I think it was just a good excuse for everyone to get together and hang out with each other whilst having a good old laugh and making some lovely memories. There are lots of happy and memorable times; many stick in my mind including my Dad’s 60th Birthday party when one of his lifelong friends stumbled through the doorway into the front room, tripped up and fell, in slow motion, facing planting into the carefully arranged basket of pine cones my Mum had placed by the hearth. Jeez, I have rarely laugh so hard that my face and stomach ache so much they spasm, poor man! These memories are where I get my love of organising and planning parties and get togethers for friends and family; not done it for complete strangers though, yet…
Since having had our kiddies, every year come June and July I think, right, I will start now preparing for the August celebrations but it never happens! This year I managed to send party invites out 3 weeks before the first of the birthdays. However, as usual, I left buying presents and party preparations until the week before, as in this week! I have been thinking about what to do for the past 2 months though, planning all the little details, so in my book that counts as ‘starting early’, right? I love planning the details almost as much as the party itself. From the presents to the cake, food, decorations, venue, and party games, whether it’s a fancy party or a simple one, trying to tailor it to individual. Ocassionally, I get a bit overwhelmed by it all, through panic and stress I guess, and question whether I should really be going into so much detail like agonising over the shade of the blue balloons to have, what flavour the cake should be, and whether there should be a theme or not? With our two kiddies I get very little time to plan and bake, just snippets of time here and there, but I guess this is the same for a lot of other parents. I have to remember after all the planning and preparation, I still have to have enough energy to look after the kiddies, and keep on top of the house stuff, otherwise I will just hit a wall and no-one wants to see Mummy have a meltdown! Also, I don’t want to spend the time planning a party if I haven’t even had time to realise I have wet icing in my hair?! Trust me it’s not a good look!
I always think back to my childhood and the effort my family have always gone to in marking occasions. My amazing Mum always went to so much effort for mine and my brother’s parties. She somehow found the time to make our birthday cakes, as well as holding down a full time job. She has made all sorts of birthday cakes over the years, including a white rabbit for me which I loved, and a football pitch with green-coloured desiccated coconut as the grass for my brother. There was an amazing sponge cake in a shape of a mushroom, and 4 mini mushrooms standing guard, sprinkled with pink desiccated coconut one year. And, one of the most memorable for me was the custard cake! I should explain that for years I was convinced my Mum had covered my number 6 birthday cake in yellow custard but it turns out it was in fact yellow icing! Sorry Mum but I couldn’t write this blog and not mention the infamous custard cake! I remember the excitement and joy of my own birthdays, and have seen it on the faces of my own children, and that’s why I try my utmost love to push the boat out, to give them and us as parents a memorable time.
Our kiddies are super excited for their birthdays as all kids tend to be. They like a theme and this year my little boy has asked politely for a Paw Patrol, dinosaur and animal themed birthday. And my daughter has asked for a sea cow, dolphin and paw patrol party. So no pressure then! After agonising over the details, I have now planned what I am going to do and make. They have loved their parties to date celebrating with family and friends, with balloons, cake, ice cream and party games so fingers crossed this year is no different, and my plans come off and we as parents get to enjoy it too like we have over the past few years. Last year we had a tractor and dinosaur birthday for my son, and a fairies, butterflies and unicorn party for my daughter. We managed to get out into the garden the past couple of years but something tells me that this wet August is not going to play ball!
One of my most favourite parts of planning a party is the cake. I tend to do sponge cake for the kiddies but I have made all sorts of things. I have tried many sponge cake recipes over the years but I love the recipes and methods in Peggy Porschen’s Pretty Party Cakes book. I find quite a lot of the time I try a cake which looks amazing but it just lacks an equally amazing taste, or vice versa. However for me Peggy Porschen’s creations have both. And apart from anything, this book, and her other book I have, Romantic Cakes, are an absolute dream to leaf through to either get inspiration from whilst eating cake and drinking tea, or to drift off into a sweet haze when making sure the chocolate ganache is just right.
Thanks very much for reading my blog and wish me luck for the upcoming kiddies birthday parties. Hope we can pull them off despite this rain!