Bug’s Amazing Galaxy Birthday Party!

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We did it again! We threw a crazy over-the-top birthday party for Bug and I pretty much went insane during it, vowed I’d never do it again and then ended up feeling all soft-and-fuzzy afterwards with plans to totally do it all over again. This is the definition of insanity, right? Crazy party-planner mom strikes again!

But seriously, it worked. It was my first twilight birthday party and we really pulled it off. Everything was so pretty and glowing! Of course photographing a nighttime party is a whole other story but I did my best. Just imagine all these pictures ten times prettier and about 100% less blurry. Though sometimes blur is a good thing.

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First up I have to show you these really cool nebula amulets we made. These almost didn’t happen.

I had been asking Bug all week what kind of galaxy craft she’d like to have at her party because parties always have to have some kind of activity, and we’re kinda famous for our crafts. Of course Bug answered me the way she usually answers me by not answering me at all. She evaded me and finally when pressed to the extreme, told me that she wanted all eleven of her guests to hang out in her super-crowded ten-by-thirteen foot bedroom. They were going to play “Pusheen School” which is a game they play everyday at school where they take their Pusheen stuffed animals and act out characters going to school. They’ve been doing it for about a year and a half now. All the girls have different Pusheen characters with distinct accents, personalities and nick names. It’s a thing.

I tucked away my disappointment and planned a party without a craft. I figured it was probably better anyway because I always go over the top and regret it later.

Fast forward to the day before the party when Bethany showed up (Yes, she totally flew in just for this party to help me with the cake and to visit her other eleventy California friends) and guess what she asked as soon as she walked in the door? “So what craft are we doing for this party?”

(!!!!!)

If Bethany is asking what craft I’m doing and I don’t have an answer for her then maybe I should override the no-fun birthday girl and plan an eleventh hour craft!! Because nothing gets my motor running like a last minute craft idea and someone who will appreciate it. Bring it on!

Bug was not amused. In fact, she was pretty much a sullen teenager the entire day of her birthday. Another trip to Michaels was barely tolerated so we could get little amulet bottles and squeeze bottles for colored water. Then when her friends showed up and I showed them how to stuff cotton into the bottles to create the little nebulas she spent most of the time in a huff in her room. I’m such a horrible mom.

However, her friends loved the craft! The little bottles turned out awesome! And eventually Miss SullenPants came back to the party and made one herself and admitted that it wasn’t totally lame after all.

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Next up is the cake. THE CAKE. This cake was such a pain in the butt I had to have Bethany fly in to help me make it. We made this cake. It looks amazing but involves corn syrup and gelatin and a ton of food coloring. All naturalist homeopathic types avert your eyes.

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It was an amazing process. Lots of goopy blue and purple dripping glaze all over a purple velvet (chocolate) cake, per Bug’s request. It’s too bad all the glory of this cake didn’t really get captured in the dark of the party but it was a blast to watch Bethany make it. If you follow my instagram feed you probably saw the raw, very-unedited footage (sorry for the nice close-up of our trashcan) of it.

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Everything turned out really pretty and very, very sickeningly sweet. The hot chocolate was a super hit as were the marshmallows and the three sources of heat: our good old fashioned Weber barbecue, the cool chiminea thing we found discarded in someone’s driveway a long time ago and the outdoor heater I rented.

Can I just say how cool it is that Payam enables me and tells me to go ahead and rent tables and chairs and a heater for a party that I have no idea what the weather will be like for? The weather has been raining for about four weeks straight and I’d been watching the weather forecast like a hawk on crack. Everyday, I would announce the likelihood of rain on Bug’s party to everyone around me like it was my own stock market ticker. Predictions went from 100% precipitation to 25% precipitation to finally settling on 45% precipitation and AMAZINGLY it did NOT rain during Bug’s party. It was cold but our heat sources worked out perfectly and the fact that I warned everyone to dress for weather in the invitation helped. Who has a birthday party outdoors in January?! Crazy Californians, that’s who.

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It all worked out. Everything glowed magically. I stretched battery operated bulb lights along the middle of the table, scattereds some glow-in-the-dark plastic stars on our galaxy printed tapestry and then set a vase full of glow-stick necklaces in the middle.

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Bug actually did have a really good time at her party. It was hard getting there though. She fell on her wrist while rollerblading earlier in the day and was in some pain which didn’t help her mood when her mom stole her friends to do a stupid craft. Thankfully, her bad mood wasn’t anything some secretly applied cat-eye make up in the bathroom couldn’t bribe out of her.  She’s getting to the age where we have started bonding over our mutual anxiety-related quirks. She understands my freak-outs over guests arriving and the house not being tidy and I understand her fear of crying in front of her friends. It wasn’t an easy thing for her but she muscled through it

And as she was cheers-ing crazily, with toasts to Toaster (her Pusheen stuffed animal) in grown-up glasses of sparkling apple cider leftover from our New Year’s shindig, she caught my eye and gave me a smile that said it all. She really did appreciate this party even though it was a pain in the butt to make happen. So yeah. I’ll probably keep on keeping on until I’m too old to keep on.

Or maybe next year we’ll just take a road trip!

 

Another Slow News Day! Let’s tour the garden. Zzzzz….

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It’s raining today which is BIG fat news here in Southern California, Land of the Everlasting Drought. We are all very confused by this weather. It’s wet and inconvenient.  We don’t have any kind of overhangs in our backyard to keep our puppies from sleeping in puddles. Why would they want to sleep in puddles?! We don’t have mud rooms either for them to dry off their wet muddy feet after a mucky walk in the rain.  Amazingly, I do have a raincoat (thanks to a purchase for my Japan trip) but I do not have rain boots! I want to get the kids rain boots (because walking in wet grass in vans is the pits) but I know they’ll probably only wear them once (if that) before they outgrow them because it NEVER RAINS here! It’s all very puzzling and worrisome. But we don’t need to adapt or anything because it will be gone by tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying my nice fuzzy sweater, my heater under my desk, my third cup of coffee and Lucy sleeping on my laptop bag beside me. Cold weather is cozy.

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Hey Lucy. Nice window seat you have there. It’s so funny, this window used to be blocked by the expedit bookcase that is now our new and improved office divider. So now that the window is open, Whiskey parks himself outside this window and stalks the cat. He is a terrier through and through and lives and breaths to hunt the cat.  Did I tell you about the moth and rat incident? I thought surely I had but I just looked through my archives and I can’t find hide nor tail of it. Weird.

Anyway, a few months ago when it was still summer, Lucy became quite the outdoor hunter. She wasn’t supposed to be an outside hunter of course because we have coyotes where we live and anyone who knows anything does not let their cats outdoors at night. But there was a hole in the screen door in our bedroom, thanks to the puppies, and Lucy soon discovered that it was the best thing ever. Freedom!

Lucy is a very, very skittish cat (to the point of almost being feral)and super fast so we told ourselves that she could probably escape a coyote if one ever tried to eat her. We can never catch her, Whiskey can never catch her. Even our neighbors who like to write mean notes about us on Nextdoor about being bad cat owners cannot catch her (thank God.)  Lucy has pretty good odds. So we let this outdoor hunting go on for a few days while we scrambled to figure out a screen door fix. Closing the slider was out of the question because it was SUMMER and we have no other windows or doors in our bedroom.

Then much to our dismay, Lucy caught a black witch moth and brought it into the house at who knows what hour of night and woke poor Bug up with the frightening sounds of a kitten-sized moth fluttering around the corners of her room. It was terrifying! I hate moths anyway but a six-inch death omen moth!!! Yes, I googled it and apparently in Mexico they are believed to be omens of death, especially if they fly to all four corners of your room. Thankfully, we’ve lived a month or two since this happened so I think we’re good.

That happened twice. Then Lucy caught a mouse or a small rat and let it go in Bug’s room. Bug freaked. It’s not that she’s so much afraid of mice or rats but the rat POOPED IN HER ROOM (probably from fear) and then hid behind her desk and bookcase. I know bringing in your kill is a sign of love from a cat but Bug was not feeling the love AT ALL.

We couldn’t get the rat out of Bug’s room. It lodged itself deep behind Bug’s bookcase and into all of her various crap that lived next to her bookcase. So we decided to bring in the big guns and let Whisky have a go at it. He didn’t do a very good job but boy was he excited and focused! It was like he was finally able to realize his true purpose in life. His Irish ancestors were bred to catch vermin on farms and now realize his true potential!!  He ended up chasing the rat down the hallway and into the living room where it hid behind another expedit bookcase (How many expedit bookcases do we have?!) and from there we were able to use a broom and sweep it out the dining room sliding glass door.

All ended well and no animals were hurt but one kid was traumatized and one screen door got barricaded with a piece of dog crate. The puppies have reduced us to Shanty Town in so many ways.

Whisky has never been the same since. Every time he gets lose he either goes straight to the closet (where Lucy likes to hide) or straight to Bug’s room to sit by her desk where there was once upon a time a rat. Because it might happen again!! Silly dog.

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Back to the garden. That’s where I was going originally with this post. As you know, because I have documented it a few hundred times, the puppies have eaten all my plants. I have moved most of them up to table tops and the rest have become fiber in Cody’s poop. But! I have learned through process of elimination that the dogs don’t really eat my cacti. The spikes might have something to do with it. They also don’t eat my serrano peppers.

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I decided to un-plant my many pots of aloe vera (those things multiply like bunnies) and replant them into the planters that used to house beautiful, lush palm trees which have been eaten down to nubs. Yeah, it looks like a hurricane hit it now but I predict these hearty aloe vera plants will perk up and propagate throughout the whole planter box and it will become a lovely, spiky bed of greenery. Not Payam’s or my idea of what we wanted to do there but puppy-times call for desperate measures. Consider this the before picture.

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And speaking of Shanty Town, we also put this really classy fence up around our baby pomelo, mandarin and nectarine trees. All the trees have been heavily pruned by Cody and will forever hold a bonsai-like beauty in their crooked, not-usually-found-in-nature shaped branches. It is what it is. I’m just really happy the pomelo tree survived at all because pomelos are what Brendaritas are made from!

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In other news! Did you know I have a test kitchen? Not really but from time to time I post recipes on alphamom and they usually involve experimenting in the kitchen, not something I’m really good at but I try. I wanted to invent some cookies like these. Please do go look at that link if you at all a foodie because I want you to behold the beautiful magenta of those spiced fenugreek beet baked mathri. Yes, I realize they are crackers and not cookies but why couldn’t I make them into cookies? It wouldn’t be that hard to switch them from savory to sweet would it?

Apparently it is because I failed like a mad, mad woman. It was horrible. I made brown turd cookies. The first batch was NOT purple at all and they were thin and sticky like those really cool lace cookies except they didn’t harden they just stayed sticky and when you raised one to your mouth it folded over in your hand like limp banana peel. The second batch I cut the butter and sugar in half and they turned into dry, tasteless brown turds. There was no magenta or purple at all!  Now this could be because I used grated beets ala this recipe and not beet juice but I don’t understand why beet juice would color something and grated beets would not. Do I suspect the beet juice is chock-full of food coloring? Yes, I do!

Unfortunately my deadline came and went and I never got a chance to experiment with any beet juice but I did push my dry-tasteless cookie dough into a cake pan and topped it with a gooey mixture of butter, walnuts and molasses that was actually downright delicious. I also put a ton of ginger in the dough. I failed to mention that earlier but it is an interesting detail later because the grated ginger has the texture of cat hair when it’s mixed into dough which means I made walnut-encrusted molasses beet ginger brown-turd cake with cat hair inside it!  I win.