Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Colour Collaborative: June - Birthday


Birthdays are a big deal in this house. Adults and children alike, we write lists, drop hints, buy gifts, blow up balloons and eat cake and, for me, a birthday is not a birthday without a cake of some kind. Shop bought or homemade, I don't care, but cake is necessary, no essential, for proper birthday celebrations. This post prompted me to dig out the external hard drive and delve through all the photos on it (which go back about ten years - I lost a couple of hours in that hard drive). I was on a mission to find a photo of every birthday cake I'd ever made for Bella and Angus.*

It's funny how, on seeing the cakes, I am straight away transported back to the special day, to a certain mood or feeling - usually panic. In amongst the lurid greens and unnaturally bright blues we have a round chocolate cake for Angus's first birthday, followed by a Peppa Pig car (we were deep into the Peppa Pig phase in that year I seem to remember), a union flag, a green monster and a dinosaur this year for his fifth. I still shudder when I look at that car. I was in my "I can do fondant icing, oh yes I can" phase. I can't. I hate the stuff, to work with and to eat. It tastes like plastic. Now buttercream, oh yes, buttercream I love. To work with and to eat.


And for Bella...well, there appears to be a lot of pink there. Hmmm. There seems to be a clear gender divide going on in these photos. In my defence, if you ask a four year old girl what kind of birthday cake she would like she is probably more likely to say pink castle than green three eyed monster. So we have here a sensible round cake for Bella's second birthday, a train for her third and then I lost my mind and made her a castle for her fourth. That bloody castle very nearly killed me off. Under the turrets (shop bought swiss roll with ice cream cones on top) were seven layers of badly dyed rainbow sponge. I don't know what I was thinking. It was SO heavy, and it snowed on the day of her party and I remember the car sliding around on the way to the soft play centre we'd booked, and me sitting in the passenger seat with the cake on my lap just thinking "please let us and the cake get there in one piece..." We did, and I came down with the flu the next day.

This is what photos look like pre-blogging!

For her fifth, a butterfly. That photo was taken on my phone just before we left for the party. I don't think I took a proper photo of it, I was probably too busy flapping. For her fifth birthday party, my friend Kate and I had hired a church hall and planned a joint party for Bella and Kate's son Sam. The bouncy castle we'd booked was half an hour late. The children's entertainer didn't turn up. It might be one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Kate and I had to do the "entertainment" for about 45 children. Hideous, just hideous. I remember Kate shaking afterwards in the kitchen saying "I need a bloody drink". Anyway, I digress. The following two cakes are much more tasteful. There is still a lot of pink going on, but I remember thinking that her sixth and seventh birthday cakes were actually enjoyable to make. You may notice that Smarties are my decorating tool of choice! They're just so perfectly rainbowy, and sorting them into little bowls of individual colours is excellent de-stressing behaviour right before hosting a party.


But I've not mentioned the most special part of a birthday cake. The candles. A cake is not a birthday cake without them. 


For the memories of a toddler to small to blow them out, who just spits all over the cake in their exuberant efforts instead; for the memories of a group of six year olds singing Happy Birthday To You out of tune; for the memories of "make a wish!" and of matches and cameras that are nowhere to be found at the crucial moment - that is why I love birthday cakes so much. They are part of the fabric of family life, part of the patchwork quilt of memories made and photographs taken.


So our birthdays are as much about sparkle as they are colour. Birthdays are for celebration, for light and glitter, gold and silver, flickering and warm. 



Happy first birthday to the Colour Collaborative! It's been a joy working alongside these talented bloggers for the last year. Most prompts I've loved, some have been work hard, some have been very last minute, but it's always been rewarding and, more importantly, enjoyable. Many happy returns, ladies.


If you'd like to read the birthday posts by the other Colour Collaborative bloggers, please follow the links below. Not all posts may be up just yet.

Annie at Knitsofacto
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Jennifer at Thistlebear
Claire at Above The River

What is The Colour Collaborative? 

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

*****

*I did, bar one. I cannot find a single photo of Bella's first birthday cake. That's really annoying, as I seems we took about 10,000 photos in Bella's first year.







37 comments:

  1. Oh, I love all those birthday cakes - what a feast! Both my children's birthdays are in September (9th and 10th would you believe) and I can see a couple there they would love.

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  2. the cakes look wonderful. My mum still makes a banana cake for me for every birthday. And I'm 26. It's a tradition, and one both me and her cherish very much! Your kids will think back of their childhood and always remember the wonderful cakes their mommy made for them! Creating traditons is important and so wonderful. Keep going! :)

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  3. Of course there has to be cake!!!! Even our pets get birthday cakes!!! Happy memories!!! Well done on all of them!!! Have a happy day!!!
    Love
    AMarie xxx

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  4. I agree - there has to be cake and at least one candle. It was my dad's 86th birthday recently and he had a cake with candle and (very bad) singing of Happy birthday.

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  5. I LOVED your post - I have 3 boys and still have vivid memories of staying up until midnight trying to colour fondant icing red with cochineal for my middle son's Fireman Sam themed 2nd birthday (this was 16 years ago, I know you can just buy red fondant icing now!). Luckily everyone was far too polite at his party to ask why the fire engine was definitely pink rather than red... I've also made a tank, a stealth bomber, an aircraft carrier, a mini, a Tardis, the Simpsons brown sofa - all distinctly homemade looking as I am terrible at cake decoration! But actually one of the most successful was an emergency construction made from a pile of chocolate fairy cakes with the paper case off and turned upside down, piled into a mountain, runny white snow icing poured over the top and jelly babies climbing up the sides!

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  6. I recognise that tin tray and brownie stack...!
    I may steal the beautiful smartie rainbow idea for Lissy's birthday!

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  7. Wow, what great cakes and how amazing that you found pictures of them all! Mine are not usually such splendid affairs. My eldest had a candle in a banana muffin for his first birthday!

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  8. What a fun post Gillian! I cannot believe how much time you put into some of those cakes - very impressive! You have two very lucky kids! I think the dinosaur is my favorite.

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  9. Completely agree. A birthday without cake? Why, that would be like.......well, it's unthinkable. Love your cake retrospective which reminded me I've constructed Postman Pat's van, Muppet Babies, a swimming pool, a circus parade through to a casino themed cake over the years. Yes, even when they're very very big, those children still expect a birthday cake.

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  10. Gillian, my birthday is the 10th Sept, too, so please send me some cake!
    Margaret P
    PS Super cakes, really gor-geous!

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  11. Sorry, I meant to address my comment to Isabelle! I'm tired, been up since 4.30 am, so please forgive this silly typo!
    Margaret P

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  12. You're so talented, Gillian! My husband is the better cake-designer around here. I'm just good at eating it. :) I love the photo with Bella on her second birthday, by the way; you've been wearing those striped tops for a long time. :)

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    1. Ha! Yes, yes, I have. I was pregnant with Angus then so it must've been a maternity striped top!

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  13. No such thing as a birthday without cake. Cakes with buttercream and Smarties are always the best. Unless they have strawberries. And proper birthday's have more cake than you can eat! Like this brilliant post ;)

    I'm wondering if I could find pics of my gangs birthday cakes from their first birthdays, but I'd need to break out the print albums to do it ... goodness that's made me feel old.

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  14. Gorgeous cakes ! So worth the trouble of hours of icing and sticking and stress ! Such a lovely post Gillian and I really enjoyed your Blog Hop post too. It was so lovely to learn about what you do in a bit more detail - thank you for being my tagee.
    Have a great weekend,
    Kate x

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  15. I completely agree...to me a birthday definitely means cake! I am particular though, in that it always has to be a homemade cake. You have made some great cakes for your children, you really have. I enjoyed looking at the birthday photos too, so sweet.
    Marianne x

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  16. A birthday is just a day when its without a birthday cake :-) (if that makes sense lol - it does in my head) Your baking is fab, very envious xx

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  17. Until my daughter was born our family had stopped making a fuss about birthdays. Not my choice as I still get ridiculously excited. Since her birth we always do something for all our birthdays even if it's just a cake - you're absolutely right - it's the magic essential ingredient. x

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  18. Brilliant! Funnily enough I went on the 'hunt down the birthday cake photo' quest just the other year for DD's cakes. We found them all except one, her fourth birthday I think, was completely missing, cake and all - did we just forget to take any pictures? Very strange!

    Anyway, I think your cakes are brilliant and very much proper birthdays cakes, chopped up sponges, decorated with smarties and butter icing - the very best and tastiest kind. That castle is amazing though, a real triumph. I made DD one of those princess dress cakes once, the kind where you make a cake in a bowl turn it upside down and then stick a barbie in the middle of it, that was for her third birthday and I've never topped it... so far!

    S x

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  19. Wow, there are some good cakes there Gillian. That castle, amazing. The idea of a birthday entertainer not turning up sends a shiver down my spine. What horror! You've reminded me of the littlest's fifth birthday. He thought he'd hold a balloon over the candles to see what happen. Of course it burst and blew the candles out. I relit them, and his biggest brother blew them out for him and made him cry and I went mad and everyone was looking at us. Oh my. You never know when the memories are going to be made do you? I loved this post, and I'm remembering the tip of using Smarties for decoration, they look really effective. The Union Jack is excellent. Hope you enjoy a good slice of cake today, CJ xx

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  20. I agree--every birthday should be celebrated with cake! My first son's first birthday cake was a disaster. So bad that it has the infamous nickname "The wheel." I wanted it to be so special that I made it from scratch instead of a box mix. (As if a one year old would care.) Ah--what we learn as we go.

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  21. Awesome cakes Gillian!!! Agree, you can't have a birthday without cake. Everything else is negotiable and the cake may not be fancy (if I'm in charge of the cake) but there must be cake. I did a fancy cake for my daughter's first birthday and my husband has taken over cake duty every year since then :-) x

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  22. Fab post, Gillian! I love the stories behind the cakes - the castle nightmare made me laugh.
    It's always fun to look back through old photos, isn't it? I have to say, if you've got all your old pics onto a hard drive you're way more organised than me. Scanning them all is a job I've been putting off for ages...
    Sarah x

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  23. Lots of lovely memories and yummy celebration cakes.
    Jacqui x

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  24. All birthdays and celebrations of the greatest and smallest kind deserve to be marked in my opinion. It is good to mark the passing of time and the joy of these occasions and cake is an excellent way to do that. You have great cake making abilities Gillian, and I agree about the fondant icing, it isn't my favourite either, but it does make good decorations! xx

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  25. Wow, some lovely cakes there Gillian, with lots of Smarties and Chocolate Buttons - along with Maltesers, these are always the cake decoration of choice in our house too. Happy birthday to the Colour Collaborative - seems to be a birthday week all round this week. I enjoyed your blog hop post too, I don't know how I missed that this week. Have a great weekend.
    Jane x

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  26. Gorgeous cakes, all of them Gillian, and I agree one must have birthday cake. Happy Birthday to the Colour Collaborative - it's been a full-on year for you ladies and you've produced some lovely colourful posts. Enjoy your weekend, xoJoy

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  27. What lovely birthday cakes!!! A birthday is NOT a birthday without a cake. I have always taken photos of my kids cakes, but none of them are as pretty as yours.
    Happy Birthday to the Colour Collaborative...I've enjoyed this series so much!

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  28. I know some of those cakes must have been a nightmare to make but I know your children will remember them with love. My mum made me and my sister special birthday cakes every year when we were young and I can remember many without having to look at pictures. A hedgehog, a spider, a castle, a girl in a big frock, a country cottage just for starters.

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  29. So many beautiful cakes - I like the 6th birthday cake with the smarties - such precise placement!
    www.thequietstitcher.com

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  30. So many beautiful cakes ... I always bake birthday cakes for our birthdays too but none so impressive as yours ... I love the castle cake story and the absent performer ... you made me giggle and I'm not surprised your friend needed a drink ... Bee xx

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  31. These are some beautiful Birthday cakes Gillian. I am in awe of the castle in particular. I am just such a wimp when it comes to Birthday cakes, round is all I can manage. I am lucky to have a husband who is good at decorating and shaping cakes. I shall come back here for inspiration in two weeks time, when it is James's Birthday. Have a lovely weekend. x

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  32. cake = birthday in my estimation. those ones are fabulous x

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  33. Completely agree about fondant it's foul. What an epic mum you are,these cakes are fab ... And the castle, wow! Xx

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  34. Buttercream. Yup, it's totally the way to go. I love that it looks a home made and it tastes SO much better. I've tried fondant once and never again! Your cakes are all amazing by the way! x

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  35. Wonderful cakes Gillian. We managed a jam Victoria sponge for my cake this week...I'm planning something a little more adventurous for the ABOs birthday in a couple of weeks...and bigR want a 'Frozen' cake for hers (help!!). Fortunately LittleR cannot (yet) express an opinion apart from saying 'more'! :-)

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