Who's the Cake Boss Now?

Saturday, October 1, 2011 1 comments
Well, over the course of the last couple of weeks, as you may know, I’ve been busy making all of the cakes for the birthdays of the boys of the house.  I had an idea of a rainbow cake that I was going to make for Eric’s party at the Escoleta, but I decided to make an “Under the Sea” themed cake instead.  I figured that it would be good practice for his “real” cake for his birthday party.  Plus, any leftover figures could be used on his big cake.
Making these cakes turned out to be much easier than the one I made for Mauri.  I’m not sure if it was because it is a lot cooler outside now.  (Yes, a week made a huge difference.) I think the consistency of the regular marshmallow fondant also was much better and easier to work with that the chocolate marshmallow fondant that I was using for most of Mauri’s cake. 

I ended up making a couple of white cakes ahead of time, but, knowing that Maite wanted chocolate, I decided to add a chocolate center to the big cakes.  So, I made the cake for the Escoleta at the same time as I was making the lower cake for Eric’s party at home.
Keeping the large amount of fondant all the same color of turquoise blue was very simple because I used smurf marshmallows that already had that beautiful color.  By Wednesday morning, I had both cakes covered in fondant.  Wednesday afternoon was reserved for decorating the cake for the next morning at the Escoleta.  
Thursday morning, Eric and I headed off to the Escoleta with his cake in hand.  We went to the dining room, and all of the other kids came in to celebrate his birthday.  Eric was pretty entertained watching all of them.  We took pictures of him with his cake, and he ate a little bit of it.  He really enjoyed eating the cocas that Maite brought for his birthday, though.
Once we cut open and ate some cake, we brought Eric outside to play with the other kids his age, and to open his present.  He got a boat bath toy that makes sounds when you press it in certain areas.  Since I’ve been meaning to buy him a new bath toy for quite awhile, I was happy to see what his new present was.
I decided to let Eric spend most of the morning playing in the patio there.  He was busy playing with all of the toys there, and crawling around on the artificial grass in the patio.  Meanwhile, there was a little girl who just wanted to be held, so they gave her over to me.  She calmed down as soon as I held her.  So we quietly sat and watched Eric play.
When it came to be time to go, though, the little girl didn’t want to go to anybody else.  She cried as soon as I let go of her, and reached her arms out for me.  (The other girls thought it’s because she breastfeeds, and can probably tell that I also breastfeed my baby.)  To make matters worse, Eric decided that he didn’t want me to pick him up to leave.  He wanted to keep playing with the toys in the patio!!!
Unfortunately, it was naptime, and I needed to get my house keys from Mauri because I had accidentally left them at home in the rush to get the cake to the Escoleta in time for their almuerzo.  So, we had to leave.  I’ll have to bring Eric to the Escoleta more often, I guess.
I spent most of my free time that afternoon on baking the cake and making the frostings for Saturday, and I’m glad I did because the next few days turned out to be busy!!!  After the fun time at the Escoleta, I (eventually) convinced Mauri that Eric really didn’t have any place to play outside at our house.  Yes, we have lots of space outside, but no place that is really safe for him to play unless you are going to be within an arm’s reach of him at all times.   Our plot of land is not flat, so there are lots of places that Eric can climb up on or fall off of.  The only flat area is in front of our house, but it is where we had planned on planting grass, but have never gotten around to actually doing it.  Right now it is filled with dry, scratchy dead weeds, and Eric can’t really crawl around on that.
So, Friday morning we ended up going to Gandia to Leroy Merlin.  It is like the smaller, Spanish version of a Home Depot.  We took a look at several types of artificial grass, and bought two pieces of two different types of grass that each measured 2X4m.  One of them looked much more like grass, but it was also twice as expensive as the other type.  We couldn’t buy all of the same type because there wasn’t enough left of the nicer one, and the cheaper one wasn’t set up to be cut, so if we wanted more of that one, we would have to come back another day.  So, in the interest of getting something ready in time for Eric’s party, we stuck with what was available.  (Side note: artificial grass is surprisingly expensive!!)
At his Spanish grandma's house on his actual birthday
After spending a small fortune on Eric’s plastic grass, we headed over to Juguetilandia to look for a present for him.  Mauri liked the idea of buying him an inflatable bounce house (Castillo), and I liked the idea of a tricycle that had a pole that I could push him around in.   I reiterated my belief, though, that the best present that we could give him was a safe area for him to play in outside.  Surprisingly, they had two types of plastic fences for Eric at the toy store.  Unfortunately, though, one type seemed way to flimsy to be worth using for anything practical.  The other type was just was too expensive for making a decent sized enclosure.  It would have cost a couple of hundred Euros to just surround one of our pieces of our already expensive grass.

We decided to get lunch in Gandia and give it some more thought. I only had that afternoon to frost the smaller cakes, cover them in fondant, stack all of them, and start to decorate!!  Luckily, though, Eric hadn’t gotten much sleep in Gandia that morning, so he took a decent nap.  I whipped it all together much more quickly than I would have ever imagined, and by the time Mauri got back from the port, it was already looking pretty good.  (If I do say so myself)  I was going to finish it up the next day, but, after dinner, just couldn’t leave it alone.  So, I played with the fondant, and made more shells, corals and sea fans to decorate Eric’s cake. 
You’re not supposed to put a fondant decorated cake in the refrigerator, if you can avoid it, because it sweats and the moisture can destroy your decorations.  I already noticed this on Mauri’s cake.  Fortunately, in that case, there wasn’t much to destroy.  With Eric’s cake, though, I was already having a bit of a problem.  I poked fondant “seaweed” pieces, that I had made and let dry a few days before, into the cake, but there were places that the cake was so moist that it started to dissolve the fondant, and my seaweed started to break off and fall over!!
I used our wine refrigerator instead.  It keeps wine cool, but not cold like a normal fridge does.  I had to take our wine, and several shelves, out, but it ended up being the perfect place to keep the cake overnight and until the party.  I saved the fallen seaweed pieces, too, and had them ready to poke back into the cake, at the last minute, before serving.
After a night of nightmares about my cake falling apart, or the upper layers smashing the lower layers, despite the fact that I had supported them with cake boards, straws and skewers, I woke up to see that all was well with my cake.  We went out for breakfast, and decided to go out and look for a fence for Eric that morning.  Not finding much that we liked, Mauri decided that we were going to make a fence for him out of pallets.  Instead of connecting them, like he did for my vegetable garden, though, he wanted to put “feet” on each of them, so they could be more easily moved around. 
If you’ll recall, though, Mauri is on crutches, and can’t do everything that he would like to do.  We have a ton of pallets saved up for firewood, but they are all on the upper level of our land.  So, I was the chosen one for picking out pallets, and bringing them down to Mauri so that he could put feet on them for me.  We spent the rest of the day on that, of course.  The birthday party was supposed to start at 5PM.  Luckily we were on Spanish time because at 4:40, I was still covered in dirt and sawdust, and needed to get ready and clean up a bit inside still.  I took a quick shower, threw some clothes on quickly, and when I was out, I found out that my aunt Carmen had just arrived at the entrance to Denia.  Since they didn’t know how to get to my house, I went down to town to greet them.
As luck would have it, my friend Elle was going to fly into Alicante from Madrid that same day.  So, I arranged a ride for her with my aunt to come for the party.  Being one of the first people to find out that I was pregnant, since we were planning on going to the mall together the morning my test came back positive, I was glad that she could be here for Eric’s first birthday party and finally meet him.  She got into my car, so that we could chat, and my aunt with her friend and my uncle headed back to the house behind me. 
When I got back, at almost 5:30PM, Mauri still hadn’t showered because his brother had stopped by for a few minutes, and had wanted to see the end of some race or something.  So they ended up watching that together on TV.    By the time I got back, though, he had already left.  At least they had managed to clean up the sawdust and some of the pieces of cut pallet that were left on our patio, just in time before everybody arrived.  Mauri’s parents had arrived, with one of his aunts and a friend of theirs.  Meanwhile, Mauri had unsuccessfully tried to put together Eric’s pirate ship, a gift from his godmother, Maite, without looking at the instructions, of course. 
I wasn’t sure how this group of people was going to mesh together, and with only one of the tables and a few chairs set up, I was worried that the beginning of the party was a bit awkward.  Mauri ran upstairs to quickly shower, and I was trying to figure out how to get another table up, where to put it…, what to do.  Luckily, Maite arrived, and came to the rescue.  She started to put everything into its place, got the table into place, and told people where to go.  She even had Hans go put the pirate ship together the right way so that Eric could go play with his cousin Noa.  What really got things more comfortable, though, was the fact that she started to get the food out, and once people sat down and started to eat, the party began.  Mauri’s mom brought over some cocas and Spanish tortilla, and Maite brought over a quiche.  It was all very good, and my aunt, in character, was very good at telling everybody how wonderful their food was. 
So, it was time for the cake.  I went upstairs, got it out of the wine refrigerator, stuck in the fallen pieces of fondant seaweed, and headed outside with it.  It turned out to be exactly what I wanted, and it was fun to see how Eric reacted to the cake.  He hadn’t taken an afternoon nap, but was still pretty entertained by his new play area, the food, and his cake, which was almost bigger than him!  We took some pictures of him with the cake before I took it all apart.  During the photo session, Eric started to break off some of the seaweed to eat.
The cake, in itself, was pretty good.  I had experimented with several cake and frosting recipes.  The middle section, which was a chocolate cake with white, milk and dark chocolate butter creams, and white chocolate ganache, was probably the favorite.  I had tried tiny pieces of both cakes, and while the day of the party I also preferred that cake, over the course of the next several days, I found that I almost liked the white cake better once I took off the chocolate center that I had added for the chocolaholics.  For some reason, the combination had made the chocolate part, with dark chocolate ganache, taste bitter.  The white cake parts, though, were very good.  They had a cream cheese and white chocolate buttercream, raspberries and a thin layer of strawberry jam.  Elle and I very happily worked at finishing it off over the next few days.  Mauri, though, in character, would only eat the chocolate.

I had saved the tiny top cake for Eric to eat, but, not having had his nap, Eric had no interest in playing with his cake on the day of his party.  I ended up saving it for the next day, when he happily grabbed pieces of cake to try to eat.  On the day of the party, though, he instead played with some of his presents, that Maite, Cindy and Noa had helped him to open, in his new little play area.  He got progressively more tired, though, and soon it was time for the party to be over so that I could put Eric to bed.  A few people stayed a bit later, and we ate all of the leftovers for dinner.
The next day, Eric ate part of his little cake.  He didn’t make as much of a mess as I expected, but it was still fun to watch.  Afterwards, that night, it was more difficult to get him to eat his regular food, and I had to bribe him with cake to get him to eat his real food!!  We were also able to spend more time with him playing with his pirate ship.  Once he was more familiar with it, he happily jumped into and out of it.  He even crawled into the small space deep inside, underneath the upper platform. 
When Mauri came home, he put Eric up on the upper platform, and Eric had fun playing with the steering wheel.  Once Mauri started to say that there was bad weather, and move the boat from side to side, Eric started to laugh, and didn’t want to get off it.  In fact, he started to cry when Mauri tried to bring him down from the platform, so Mauri continued to play with him for a little while longer.  I managed to get video of the last few seconds, where you can see Eric laughing hysterically at the bad weather on the boat.

Sadly, real bad weather came to Denia yesterday, and it started to rain.  It must be crying because Elle had to go back to Madrid.  While that it nice for not having to water the plants, it meant that we aren’t able to play outside these last days.  We even decided to bring in the grass because it isn’t permanently placed. 
So, we’ve been trying to entertain ourselves inside.  For Eric, that means opening up all of my kitchen cupboards, pulling all of the books off of my bookshelves, pulling himself up onto the couch, and jumping around…
Eric finds all sorts of things to get himself into.  He even broke one of my glass teapots after pulling it out of the kitchen cupboard while I was grabbing his food.  He was in my reach, but I wasn’t able to catch it before it crashed to the floor.  Luckily, though, I was able to grab Eric before he started to try to play with the pieces, cutting himself. 
Little by little, he is getting better at walking too.  He doesn’t usually like to practice walking with me because he is so good at crawling around that trying to walk just seems like a bother.  Once he found that he could walk around aided by his push cart, though, he has started to do that more and more often. So, I didn’t think that he would be walking any time soon, but maybe he’ll start walking much sooner that I had expected.  I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet!!


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