A Mermaid Party

Mermaid Party Collage

Two months ago, I asked my daughter what theme she wanted for her 6th birthday party.  She looked me point blank in the eye and said with a sigh, “It doesn’t matter.  Everyone knows the parties are for the moms anyway.”  Just like that, a knife in my heart.  But, she was right.  She had always picked the theme of her parties, but I had picked everything else.  And we had always had beer, wine and champs for the adults at the party.

So, Ella became the client and I became the party planner.  Like any client, she had final approval on all details of the party.  We sat together on the couch while we perused Pinterest looking for the perfect cake.  Perfect meaning a cake I could actually execute.  My track record is less than perfect.

Last year, she had a Gnomeo and Juliet themed party, so the cupcakes were super easy.  Strawberries as gnome hats, and “mushrooms” with the help of some chocolate chips.  The year before, the theme was Rapunzel.  I made Pascal cupcakes, which I thought were pretty good, but when she saw them her response was, “Where’s Pascal?  You said you were making Pascal cakes.”  Boy this kid knows how to wield a knife.

So we picked the perfect cake.  A cake I could put my own spin on so it wasn’t a carbon copy of the one in the picture.  Three days before the party, I set out to make my cake.  Armed with a strawberry cake recipe from Trisha Yearwood, I was ready.   Until I nearly burned the cake, which ended up being the wrong size anyway.  Cake meet trash can.

I was able to make super easy candy seashells with a Wilton mold and candy melts from Michael’s.  She also requested her name on the cake, so in a moment of brilliance, I decided to use the left over white chocolate to write her name out on waxed paper and then threw it in the freezer.  At least something was accomplished.

Two days before the party and armed with the correct pan, I started on cake #2.  This time, the cake would not set.  The middle was a sloppy, soupy mess.  And I burned my wrist taking the cake out of the oven.  I was able to make the top tier no problem.  Since I wasn’t sure if the problem was the gelatin added to the cake mix from the recipe, or the fact that I was using a different pan than the instructed 9 X 13, I decided to make the top tier plain old vanilla.

One day before the party, cake #3 was baked.  It was good – not burnt and not soupy.  Ella begged to decorate the cake and I told her no.  This was between me and the cake.

When I tried to remove it from the pan, it was stuck (and yes, I sprayed the entire pan with cooking spray.)  It was now 7:30 p.m. the night before the party.  Ella was still begging to help with the cake.  I was still telling her no and the damn cake was stuck.  So, hubs forced it out, and it split in two.

Looking at the lopsided mess on the cake stand, I was trying to figure out what to do.  Armed with disgusting blue frosting, (I hate blue food and avoid it as much as possible, but since Ella was in charge, she had picked this Pillsbury Funfetti aqua blue frosting with fish sprinkles, because it was her party), I crumb coated the cake.

Ella was still begging to help, so my husband finally said, “Just let her help.  She’s right, it’s her cake.  Who cares what it looks like?”  He obviously has never been on Pinterest, but I was so over this cake by now, I agreed.  I colored one tub of white frosting with a single drop of blue food coloring, hoping that with the crumb coat, it would create the pretty blue in the picture.

I then literally slapped the frosting on the cake.  And then, I handed the knife to Ella with a warning, “You know this is going to look nothing like the picture, right?  I just want to make sure your expectations are in check.”   “I know,” she said.

And she went to work.  I just had to fill in some holes, but the cake had a really cool ombre effect.  I then handed over the pearl sprinkles and she had at it.  She said with a gasp, “It’s perfect!”  We then randomly placed the seashell chocolates and her name on the cake.  And we used brown sugar as sand around the bottom of the cake.

Mermaid Cake 2

As we put the cake in the refrigerator, she looked at me and said, “Mom!  You said it would look nothing like the picture and it looks EXACTLY like the picture!”  Be still my heart.  The next day, the cake was the focal point of the party and everyone loved it.  And Ella was in charge of the timeline of the party {yes, she wanted that much control.  Only child syndrome.}  And it was the perfect party.  So perfect in fact, that Lady Gaga decided to steal Ella’s mermaid theme that night at the VMA’s.


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