Monday, January 10, 2011


I have known hubby's birthday was coming for a whole year now, as it does every year right about now. One could argue I have known about it for the last eighteen years even.

As always I am caught a day late or a dollar short. In this case, the dollar. A check I have been waiting on since the fifteenth of last month still hasn't arrived. With the usual bills I couldn't even scrounge the change to buy a cake mix. Hubby is, of course, fine with it. We had agreed to wait until the  money gets here and do a cake and  his favorite dinner, later. We did not take our son into consideration. He also has been waiting since last year for this day. He has a list of all the holidays tucked away in his brain. Daddy's birthday is the second holiday of the year. It is immutable. The child had been waiting for mom to coordinate, to tell him what to make for decorations. Even the rule that there were to be no presents wasn't going to fly with him.  It is a birthday, there must be a present. He would wait for mom no more, time had run out. It was time to make a party.

So, I spent my day improvising.

Some things were easy. Construction paper makes great party hats and even a spiffy birthday card. Other things were a little more difficult. A cake is almost impossible to fake. I had about half of the ingredients on any from-scratch recipe I could find. I gave a thought to making cookies. I was still missing a few ingredients. The present presented another problem altogether. Usually in a pinch the boy can be counted to on to come up with an art masterpiece. Not today. "I always give him a picture, he doesn't need another one." Raspberries!!!

 A call from MIL got DH out of the house for a few hours. I set the boy to making party hats decorated with left over Christmas bows and other assorted craft supplies. Then I started on cookies. I had only margarine and no shortening, no vanilla, no baking soda, baking powder or cream of tarter. All ingredients the various recipes I found called for. I also only had brown sugar.  I did however have half a bag of stale chocolate chips, some marshmallows left over from Halloween (yikes!) and an envelope of powdered hot cocoa.  I threw it all in the bowl and hoped for the best. As I was hunting for a cookie sheet it occurred to me that one big cookie would look great with a candle on it. I dumped the whole thing in a cake round. (Note to self: It takes longer than the recommended 10 minutes, to cook a cake round size cookie) As I was putting the 'cake' in the oven the boy decided to remind me that dad still needs a gift. 

What to do? A mixed tape... er CD... umm playlist? I am so old!

I decided to fall back on the old second grade standby; a pencil holder. What dad couldn't use a colorful cup to store his flash drives in? I consolidated the Parmesan and Romano cheeses, scrubbed the empty container with clorox and prayed the left over noxious cheese fumes wouldn't melt the pencil erasers. I found some old wrapping paper scraps in the craft bin, a large paint brush and our dying jar of mod podge, perfect for a quickie paper mache covering.  I showed the boy how to glue the paper strips one at a time. I then remembered that I had a cookie/cake in the oven and it had been way more than ten minutes. 

I saw the cookie was still a bubbling goop and then I hear the bathroom door slam open and the water turn on. I had forgotten that the slightest bit of glue on the hands of the boy would, of course, herald a melt down of huge porportions. After getting him cleaned up and calmed down, we managed to get the pencil holder finished. He painted the glue and I stuck the strips (and got the icky feeling stuff on my fingers instead) while he oohed and ahhed over the cool patterns and colors that emerged as we added each layer. 

Finally, I smelled the delicious fragrance that announces more clearly than any timer ever could that the cake was done. I had to find a stand to hold the gluey mess that would eventually become a cool desk accessory. I had visions of it sticking permanently to whatever surface I set it on to dry. I frantically found a  tall thin flash light to act as holder. I pulled the cake out of the oven moments before it became statistic.  I popped it onto a plate, inhaled it's aroma and mentally patted myself on the back for quick thinking.  Then I proceeded to clean the gluey mess from our art project. It was during the housekeeping efforts that I became aware of the silence that, all parents know, means some rule somewhere is being broken. The boy came around the corner with a slightly guilty look in his eyes and chocolate on his face. 

"what 'cha up to?"


Yeah right!

There was a child size hole in the center of my cake and the edge on one side was eroded. Hmmm?

"Mom, you were worried how it would taste, so I wanted to make sure it was good." 

"Okay, and you had to eat all of that to taste it?"

"It was really good."
 I had party hats that would fit only on the heads of leprechauns. I had a gluey pasty mess that once dry would be quite pretty but dry was a long way off.  I had a birthday cake with a hole in it and I had a birthday Honey due in the door at any moment.  (Did I mention day was filled with the usual Monday school stress and that I also cooked dinner while all this was going on?)  I could have had a melt down of my own, but flattery impresses and I was grateful to know it tasted as good as it smelled. I still had a cake to cover up and no frosting ingredients to do it with.

I improvised... Again!  I had just a dollop of Dove's dark chocolate ice cream sauce left over from a gift basket from MIL. 45 seconds in the micro and voila, chocolate glaze. 

All in all, it turned out great. Hubby celebrated another anniversary of his eighteenth birthday, all the while holding the party hat on his head. The cookie cake rocked my diet to its core. I have to try remember what I actually used as a recipe because it was perfectly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and super rich. Hubby loved his pencil holder, once he figured out what it was. He politely ignored the semi dried rivulets of glue that had yet to turn clear. Tomorrow it will be gorgeous. He was only a little disappointed to not get his annual Lian Nathaniel original artwork. 

So how was your day?


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