partying like ponies and an awesome birthday cake

Loving any excuse to maffick (follow the link as this is a word you will want to know and use), I take great joy in throwing parties. Two young daughters give me a twice-yearly excuse to invite friends and family over for birthday celebrations. A fair amount of planning goes into the food for these parties.

Knowing my youngest’s seventh birthday approached and her family party was on the calendar, I laid awake one night wondering what to do for the cake. (My husband notes that many folks buy birthday cakes at bakeries–Costco cakes are indeed divine–or whip them up with cake mixes, but for many reasons, that folk is not me.) While I very much enjoy making from-scratch cakes for family birthday parties, I am not known for my cake decorating skills. Exhibit A: These cat cupcakes taste good, yes, but they also look a wee bit scary.

birthday treats--yes, they're supposed t

birthday treats–yes, they’re supposed to be kitty cats

While effort has gone into improving my cake decorating skills, I’m still better with ideas than implementation. As I lay there contemplating cakes that night, keeping in mind my daughter’s request for a pink and purple Little Pony cake, I envisioned baking the batter up in 13×9-inch, 11×8-inch, and 8-inch square pans. If the cakes were stacked bottom-up from largest to smallest, then filled and frosted, could we call it a hillside on which to place a few of her precious Little Ponies?

three cake layers ready for baking

three cake layers ready for baking

When I posted the above photo and idea on deLizious facebook and got an enthusiastic response, I knew I was on to something. A friend who commented offered the services of her daughter, who has taken multiple cake decorating classes and is also a friend of my eldest. Knowing I had help, I fully committed to my hillside pony cake. The day before the party, I made a crazy-good batch of French buttercream (from Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s Cake Bible) and gave the birthday girl free rein with the icing colors. I was wowed by her sense of color.

vibrant hues

vibrant hues

Lexi came over the morning of the party, pulling her extremely large decorating kit behind her, and along with my older daughter, filled, frosted, and ponied up one of the most amazingly fun homemade birthday cakes I’ve ever seen. (Crack-me-up comments like “I trust no ponies were harmed in the making of this cake” and “I think there’s room for one more pony” greeted its fb debut.)

could there be any more ponies?

could there be any more ponies?

This cake made my seven-year-old happy. It made the decorators happy. It made party guests happy. It made me happy. And this, in the proverbial nutshell, is why I love parties and celebrating: They make folks happy. There’s so much sadness and tragedy and even just general annoyances in life that I choose to live by words I remember my mom saying more than once: “You have to celebrate the good stuff.” (This was an order from my mom, mind you–she used the words “have to.”)

Because the party was all about ponies, I served up a spread of grazing foods–popcorn, cheese, crackers, fruits, carrots, hummus. (My oldest pointed out that horses don’t actually eat most of these foods, but as hay wasn’t an option I stuck with my original plan.) So in addition to the cake making folks smile, there was plenty of finger food to munch on as well. (And we musn’t forget the fruit-infused water: I subbed in a sliced apple and handful of blackberries for the more-often used lemon or cucumber slices.) It gave me great joy to see friends and family visiting and laughing and eating the foods I’d had so much fun putting together (with help from others, yes).

party spread for grazers

party spread for grazers

apple-blackberry water

apple-blackberry water

This led to a bit of pondering and the realization that foodforfun, while always about cooking and baking and food and drink, is at its core really about wanting to share happiness. (same goes for deLizious facebook) We all have our vehicle–some love movies, some music, some gardening, some sports. But in the end, we’re all sharing happiness. I like that thought a lot and put it out there even in the wake of what seems like so many recent tragedies. I’m going to remember and honor the sad things, yes, but will focus on celebrating the good (thanks, mom) and I raise a glass of fruit-infused water and invite you to join me.

Victory Part 2-1

Why is Ryan Gosling here? This is why.

32 thoughts on “partying like ponies and an awesome birthday cake

    • Thanks for your kind words, Mary–here and on fb. You’re a good role model for the happy thing. We don’t need to wear rose-colored glasses (though sometimes a slight pink tint helps–haha), but pushing the positive is well worth it. And I see that in you.

  1. I’m so happy to see this cake again. So, so many ponies. I love it! I like your spread too, and the fruit water. I wish I could have come to this party! The Short One’s party is this Saturday, and I have done zero planning so far beyond saying we will have breakfast casseroles and cake. I should get on that. Costco cake isn’t out of the question for this one.

    I love the order to celebrate the happy things in life, and I will try to always remember it. Thanks for such an uplifting post!

    • Good to see you, Andi, and am glad you like the cake so much. I’m still enjoying leftovers πŸ™‚ Good luck with your son’s party–you put on a good spread so it will be lovely. Costco cakes are really tasty, I think–that filling layer in the middle—yum. Throw lots of candy at the bday boy and he’ll enjoy his day for sure. (Just make sure you have a nice bottle of wine lined up for yourself after the party–haha.) Appreciate your kind words–thanks.

    • Thanks, Trace. I love the celebrations for sure and glad if my story made you smile. That’s the point πŸ™‚ Please come back for more and I’m on your trail as well now!

  2. There’s so much to love about this post! The pre and post decorating photos are amazing – the finished product turned out so well! All that bright colour makes it fabulous and fun. (And I love the fb comments that you included – too funny!)

    Mostly, though, I just loved hearing about your attitude toward family and food and fun. You know I agree with you 100% – I think the best way we can contribute to making the world a better place is by sharing happiness! Especially in light of recent events. We shouldn’t underestimate the effect that love can have on others, and on us!

    • Amen, sister πŸ˜‰ Glad you enjoyed. The bombings happened the day before I wrote the post and I didn’t get how it would all tie together until I sat down to write. If that pony cake doesn’t make a person smile, then nothing will make that person smile.

      Now excuse me while I get back to commenting on WBS posts… heehee. Am learning a lot this morning.

  3. Aw, that’s awesome! My mom always went through the effort to make my birthdays just as much fun and looking back, I appreciate it even more as an adult. I’m sure that’s why I now relish all the elements of party planning: food, cakes, decorating, favors, etc. You’re helping raise a new generation of party-loving people! =)

    • Thanks for the sweet thoughts, J. You betcha I’m raising some fun-loving girls πŸ™‚ That’s my plan anyway… Those cake memories are the best! Wish you and I could co-host as I’ve enjoyed your party posts.

  4. Liz-that is so wonderful. I love the FB comments on the animals, just cracked me up. Happy belated birthday to your youngest.

    Thanks for spreading the joy and reminding us to enjoy it too!

    • Glad you popped over, Tracy. Hope your life is more enjoyable now that your deadline is met. Love the camaraderie we’ve found through BoFN–yet another reason to celebrate πŸ™‚

    • Lol, Becky. Maybe your invite got lost in the mail? haha. If you promise not to bring stickman (I can’t have him misbehaving at my young daughters’ birthday parties, please understand), you have an open invite to any and all parties I throw. And even SM can come to the grown-up only parties. He’d be entertaining to watch for sure.

      Thanks for the thumbs-up on the cake. I was mightily impressed with my girls’ handiwork.

    • Thanks, Sophie. The cake cracked me up–I keep saying this, but how can you not burst out into a big grin when you look at all those ponies? Glad to have you in my “kitchen.” Looking forward to my next trip to yours πŸ™‚

    • Just saw this comment, Irena! Sorry so late in following up 0-: Hope you’re well. Appreciate your read and comment πŸ™‚ Sounds like we have similar cooking styles, though I’ve seen your posts and you are WAY BETTER at decorating and making things look nice than I am.

  5. So true when you say that it needs tons and tons of planning and preparation but the end result is so worth it…worth every bit! I made my little one’s birthday cake and cupcakes last year. Of course it was only a small gathering of 20 odd people. I posted the cake with the teddy on the blog because i was so proud of it. In less than 3 months she will be 3. I need ideas!!!!
    Loved reading your post. It is so full of love and joy a mother feels. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for your heartwarmingly kind words πŸ™‚ Would love to see your teddy bear cake, so will look for it. Have fun planning this party. Hope to read about it!

    • Hey, P πŸ™‚ This is the post I get most excited about, so thanks for stopping by! Wouldn’t say she had a conniption, but it had to rank pretty high on her list of favorite cakes (I hope). I still remember my jaw hitting the floor when I saw what they had done with the ponies. Definitely a memory that will last a lifetime. Glad to have you here.

  6. Pingback: Funny Names in the News: A Very Special Birthday Edition! | The Blog of Funny Names

  7. This is great! Thank you for sending me the link. I love to bring the little ones in for some kitchen fun. Those ponies are priceless! πŸ™‚ And thank you for always giving such thoughtful comments on my blog Liz!

    • Thank YOU for following the link! I still can’t look at that cake without cracking up. And the comment thread was pretty good, too. I believe there was mention of a pony keg somewhere…

      Always enjoy the back-and-forth, so the comments will be ongoing until you tell me to stop πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks for the kind words of support πŸ˜€ Am all over one-of-a-kind cakes, which seems to be my forte so good thing then. The apple water was inspired by a fancy hotel gym I worked out in once. Very refreshing and a good way to wash down a few slices of sugary cake! Who knows what the 8th birthday will bring. You have more than a few birthday cakes in your future as well, I’d imagine.

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