Oct 29, 2009

Halloween Pancakes

This goes back to my first ever post on this blog. Back in May 2008 I started Filth Wizardry by writing a post on the pancake art that the kids loved so much. I think I posted a fish, a pirate ship and a few others.

Putting pancake batter in a baggy and snipping a hole in the corner to pipe it out of certainly wasn't my idea. Many many people have done it for years and years, but I thought I'd write a quick post now to show you the spooky ones we've done. Seeing as halloween is on a weekend this year, taking the time for some spooky breakfast might be fun!

I picked up a couple of mustard squeezy bottles from a thrift store in anticipation, because the kids will be able to make their own that way (the baggies approach is a bit awkward for really young kids) Just make sure that there are absolutely no lumps in your batter or the nozzle of your bottle/hole in the baggy will clog and be very frustrating. I'm guessing if you have the equipment for piping icing then that would probably do the trick too. We're going to add orange food colouring to our batter I think, or maybe purple? Green sounds a bit bleugh though.
I mentioned in that first post that you could write your name in a pancake. Much later I posted an example of that at the end of this post if you are interested.

Oct 20, 2009

Marshmallow gun party fun

A while back we made some marshmallow guns out of pvc plumbing fittings with the kidletts. The lovely man that I am affiliated with blogged about it over on his own blog, FangleTronics (his blog is usually about electronics projects). You can pop over to read that post here if you're interested in how to put together your own marshmallow gun.

My older daughter really really wanted to have marshmallow guns at her birthday party a few weeks ago. I was a little bit reluctant seeing as there were going to be about 20 kids there and I had visions of some poor kid getting one point blank in the eye or something horrendous, so I said "we'll think about it". After a bit of a conflab we came up with a plan that would work.

We put together twenty marshmallow gun "kits", so that the kids could make and decorate their own marshmallow guns using a simple instruction sheet, and then they could battle it out safely with a shoulder bag of ammo, a paper plate shield and some heinously cheap swimming goggles.

It was a really cute experience to go to Lowes with the kids and find and count out all the bits that we needed to make enough marshmallow guns for everyone. It ended up costing just about a dollar a gun and my daughter had fun counting out and checking off the parts we needed while her little sister tried on the larger plumbing fixtures like bracelets.

The hubster used his pipe cutter to cut up the three long pipes we bought into 3, 4 and 5 inch pieces, and we sent everything through the dishwasher to sanitize it (it was pretty much a full load!)

Here's the kit packed up in a ziplock bag ready to hand out

...and here's the contents of the kit:
  • mouth piece
  • T-junction
  • end cap for the handle
  • three lengths of pvc pipe
  • instruction sheet
  • sheet of stickers (halloween ones because it was a spooky halloween party)
  • halloween treat bag filled with mini marshmallows for ammunition and with string tied to be a shoulder bag.
  • swimming goggles (these we found for less than a dollar each online and they are pretty good ones that I'm sure the kids will use after the party is over)
  • paper plate shield that was just made by stapling a piece of card across a paper plate so you could fit your arm through and wear it on your forearm.

The parents at the party helped their kids to put them together and read the rules of combat. Then the kids had fun blasting marshmallows at each other. The shields doubled up as targets for the smaller kids to shoot at too.

Only at one of our family's parties can you expect the party favours to be some pvc pipe and a pair of swimming goggles!

The birthday girl was very happy that her freinds got to play marshmallow gun wars with her and I was very happy that no one got maimed by high velocity candy on my watch.

Here's a copy of the instruction sheet I put together rather hurredly at 1.30am the night before the party. It ain't too fancy, but it did the job and you are welcome to use it yourself or adapt it's contents for your own marshmallowy warfare. Just click on the thumbnail below and that should take you to a full resolution image to save and print. It is US letter size, not A4, so if you want to print it on A4 paper then you'll have to remember to select "fit to page".

Judging by the amount of fun all of the dads at the party seemed to have with the whole thing, I recon it would make a great father's day party activity if you got a load of dads and kids together in teams for some marshmallow gun building and battling. Maybe with targets and games and challenges!

Oct 11, 2009

Superhero birthday cake with marshmallow fondant

One of the requests for my older daughter's 5th birthday was a Batman cake. After a day or so she expanded her request to be a batman, spiderman, superman cake.

I posted a while ago about how we like to make the kid's birthday cakes an important, homemade aspect of each birthday. My mum always made me and my sister lovely cakes and it still makes me feel special that she did that for us, so I want to do the same for my girls.

One of the people that posted a comment on that original cake post was Megan from Megleting. She posted a link to some really cute cakes that she had made and the ones that caught my eye were the three layer cakes that looked like cutie mini wedding cakes. I figured the three superheros theme would be perfect for making a three tier cake with!

The next bit of inspiration came from a post by K from Made by K. She made a whole lot of marshmallow fondant for a friend's wedding cup cake tower and shared a great tutorial on the process. I've never attempted traditional fondant, but the marshmallow version sounded much easier, much cheaper and much more yummy.

The marshmallow fondant was pleasantly easy to make and way gloopy and fun (not for the kids, just for me). I made red, yellow and blue for the three layers. I would definately recommend having a go at making this type of fondant. It tasted great.

The cake itself was chocolate brownie with extra egg to make it a bit more cakey, but it was still very moist and dense. The middle of each layer had raspberry seedless jam and chocolate frosting in them. I put a thin coating of buttercream icing over each layer before puting the fondant on, so it had something to stick to and the surface would be nice and smooth.

Last year I stuck a load of superman party favour rings into the pirate-superhero-mermaid cake, so that the kids could lick the icing off the rings while they were waiting for the cake to be cut. That went down really well, so this year I stuck a load of halloween bat rings into the yellow batman layer of the cake.

The blue webs on the spiderman layer were blue royal icing that was piped on with a really rubbish nozzle. I totally should have made my own out of parchment paper, but you live and learn.
It went down pretty well! There were only two slices to bring back from the party at the park!

Oct 9, 2009

Jack o lantern pinata

We just had a party for my oldest daughter, who turned five at the start of this month. Last year she wanted a "pirate-superhero-mermaid" party. There are some posts in the archives about things we did for that party, like the mermaid tails and jello pirate boats.

This year she was a little less, um, "alternative" in her requests, which made my life a whole lot easier. She told me a few weeks before her birthday that she wanted "a spooky halloween party with a superhero cake". Actually it started out as a "batman cake" but then she decided she wanted spiderman and superman too (that's for a later post though)

She's never been too interested in the getting presents aspect of birthdays, which to tell you the truth surprises me, and with each year that passes I always expect that the next one will be the year that she has her heart set on some inanimate object that she wants. So far though when people ask her what she wants for her birthday, the usual response is "a (insert weird idea here)party with all my friends", so that's why we make the effort with the parties.

Last year we made a non violent pinata, because the kids were all around three and four years old and weren't too hot with the whole batting thing. This year though I thought it would be ok to try a traditional beat the living hell out of it pinata.
Inspired by LiEr's hello kitty pinata over at Ikatbag, I decided the covered balloon would be the best way to go if I wanted the kids involved in making it.

We blew up one of the giant punchball balloons and covered it with about three layers of newspaper strips and watered down white glue. We did this on a really sunny day outside though and evidently the many years of physics education went out the window when I totally didn't figure that the balloon would expand in the heat and rip the layers of paper we were putting on. Bah! or rather BANG!

It wasn't too bad though. We patched it up and although the top looked a little gnarly, you couldn't tell by the time we had put a layer of butcher block paper on top and painted it orange. When we put the layer of butcher block paper on I used a flour and water mixture rather than the glue and water and honestly, that seemed to work just as well (and was obviously cheaper). Yes LiEr, that is an empty Nutella jar that the paint is in ;)

I drew a wee jack o lantern face on to go with the spooky halloween theme and then cut a couple of holes to thread a hanging rope through. I made the holes a little more sturdy by hot gluing a disposable ketchup cup in them (yes, I swipe ketchup cups from fast food places, sometimes even when people are looking)

After I'd sorted the rope to hang it, I covered the holes with some fake autumn leaves we had around (that little packet of leaves has been used in a lot of crafts over the year. Here, here and here, but now alas they are all gone)

The kids helped me to stuff the pinata with candy and shredded newspaper (the stuff out of the freaky scarecrow actually).

The verdict was that with three layers of newspaper and one of butcher's block paper, it stood up to about 20 minutes of pounding by 20 kids between the ages of 2 and 7, which was just right.

It was definately worth making a pinata, because the kids felt a whole lot of ownership over the project and got more and more excited in the build up to the party over making it. Far better than buying one from the store. Thank you LiEr for the hints and tips on making a pinata with just the right smashability rating.

My best mate back home wants one of Frank Sidebottom's head for her birthday. I think we may be up to the challenge.