Last weekend was my daughter's first birthday party, but I'll get to that later... during preparation, my Grandma offered to make cupcakes for the party but ended up being unable to ice the cupcakes herself due to time constraints. She did, however, make her classic decorating icing that I remember from my childhood and dropped off the cupcakes, icing, and a small tupperware container holding her set of Wilton icing bags and tips.
This may not seem like an overly big deal, but I think my feelings toward these icing tips may be similar to the way some people might feel about holding their mothers wedding dress - and being told that they could actually USE said wedding dress.
I spent large parts of my childhood with my Grandma. She was my replacement 'Mom' for almost the first decade of my life, and so I feel just as close to her (I think) as I would if she were my Mother. Some of my clearest memories are of watching my Grandma decorate my birthday cakes, make icing flowers that she would stick in the freezer to harden faster, and of sneaking into the back of the cupboard where she kept these icing supplies to sneak some of the tiny icing flowers she always had a stash of.
So, I felt absolutely HONORED to be given these icing bags to use. My Grandma even made a comment about possibly passing them on to me, because 'no one else uses them anymore'. I haven't heard more on that yet, but I'm excited that this could be a possibility...
ANYWAY, I set to work icing my daughter's birthday cupcakes, trying to emulate the style my Grandma would have used on all of my birthday cakes as a child. I began imagining myself going to bulk barn to rent one of their many cake pans and decorating it using my newly practiced skill. They didn't actually turn out too badly, and it was fun in a nostalgic sort of way to be doing this.
A few days later I recruited a couple of my piano students to help decorate some mini-cupcakes for the annual Christmas recital, and completely without thinking, I set them up to use my Grandma's wonderful icing bags. I recall, when I was younger, that keeping the pressure off the icing so as not to burst through the bag was much more difficult than I find it now. I recall this because both of these girls reminded me by bursting large holes through these icing bags!
I really couldn't be angry, and neither was my Grandma - thankfully. The bags were old, and well used, so it was all too likely they would weaken eventually. It made me sad though, to see these 'heirlooms' break, and to know that I can't always hold on to everything.
I can buy new bags. And the tips should last forever. Maybe someday I will have an even bigger collection that I can pass on to my daughter and tell her that 'these used to belong to your Great Grandma...' It's pretty sappy, but it makes me smile.
I'm a pretty meticulous cookie decorator, so I had a bit of difficulty deciding what kind of cookies Celia should decorate - because of course, I still wanted them to look good :) Snowflakes have to have a snowflake pattern - really, they HAVE TO! And if you just smeared icing all over a gingerbread man, snowman, santa or any other living thing it might just look dead... And candy canes have to have stripes...
So, what can look blotchy and multicolored and still be potentially accurate...?
Looking through my cookie cutters, I found a mitten! So I iced them initially with white icing and let that dry. Then, I gave Celia a paint brush and a little pot of blue icing, and this is sort of how it went.
Using skills developed on the Buddha Board...
She usually hit the cookies. Sometimes her mouth...
She even knew how to dip the brush to get more icing!
Obviously my daughter is a genius ;P
I forgot to take pictures of the finished cookies and now they're buried in the deep freeze. We did this with blue, pink and purple icing, letting each layer dry in between. Ok, I did some of them myself - she got pretty tired after awhile, and after she discovered how yummy icing was it was hard to keep the brush out of her mouth.
I think we will make 'Celia's Mittens' an annual tradition.
Here is a picture of the finished product - they were in the freezer for awhile, so they look a little more blotchy than they did at first. I forgot to take pictures of painting the pink or purple icing.
Since Celia was so successful with finger painting her yogurt all over the place, I thought it would be a great idea to make finger 'paintings' for her grandparents for Christmas. And, I figured we'd try to use real paint. So, I went out and bought some 'non toxic' kids paint, thinking that if she tried to eat it she would realize it wasn't food but it wouldn't hurt her.
Unfortunately my daughter seems to be completely indiscriminate in her tastes, and after trying some bright yellow paint once, wanted to continue eating it. Argh! After a few tries and having her hand pulled away from her mouth and put back on the canvas, she was fussing considerably.
It may have been that she was too tired, but it may also be that she is simply too young to be finger painting with un-edible paint.
Oh well. We'll try again next year...
I have a friend who is always doing things with her kids that look incredibly fun - and typically way younger than I would have thought of doing them. Like when she had her 18 month old decorating cookies at Christmas time... I can't wait for that!
Anyway, I asked her if she had any ideas for Celia at 9 months, and she suggested finger painting with dyed yogurt. So here we are! At first we plopped three different colours in front of her on her high chair tray, and she poked a finger into one but it took her a little while to really get into it. After a few minutes, however, my crazy little monster started shrieking and going at it like a regular Jackson Pollock.
We were just hanging out in the kitchen otherwise, and my poor husband got so stressed by the mess she made. He kept commenting on how he would never have done anything like this with her - and it's a good thing he wasn't a single Dad, because she would never be able to do something like this! It really was a mess - there was yogurt all over the floor and splattered on the wall behind her.
I promised him I would clean everything up - and I did, except for the odd splatter that I missed and found days later. Celia was in only a diaper, so no clothing needed to be cleaned, and the high chair was completely washable - the fabric cover was washed overnight and ready the next morning.
We've done this once since (it really is quite a bit of work when house cleaning is a near-impossible task anyway), and although she still enjoyed it, we might not do it again until she understands the concept. At 10 months old, she knew that yogurt was food and seemed to be more frustrated with how difficult it was to eat than she was interested in playing with it.
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