I just got pictures back from our friend who graciously did all the photography at Eden's birthday party.  I'm always running around, prepping food, games and hosting so it's nice to have one less thing to worry about!  All photo credits go to Chris Sylva.


Eden's 2nd birthday was a Pancakes & Pajamas Party!  All kids were told to come in their pjs and we did a morning brunch.  I liked that though we had to get up early to prep it felt like the party didn't consume our whole day that way.  In an odd series of events three of the four Ecuadorian families we had invited weren't able to come last minute so it ended up being almost all North Americans.  I noticed I felt a lot more relaxed when this happened, feeling like everything didn't have to go perfectly anymore for everyone to have fun.  And fun was definitely had by a gaggle of little kids!  Every toy was pulled from every basket and played with!

 

There were pancakes with whipped cream, cinnamon cream syrup, dulce de leche, nutella and sprinkles.  We had self-serve granola & yogurt parfaits with strawberries and bananas.  (These were a huge hit served in tiny shot glasses with tiny spoons and Eden completely ignored her pancake in favor of this).  There were maple cream scones and puff pastry filled with strawberries, cream cheese and chocolate chips.  And of course there was bacon and sausage!  Drinks included a hot chocolate bar with white chocolate, marshmallows and whipped cream as well as orange juice.

 

 

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I still had the "Eden" pendant banner from her first birthday so I added some extra chains of turquoise diamonds and little pictures of pancakes and pajamas in order to reinvent it for this birthday.  I'm thinking I can get many years out of this simple, free, printable banner.   Our chalkboard that my dad made always comes in handy as an extra personalized touch to any event.  To keep the morning stress-free we worked ahead.  The banner, chalkboard, table cloths and serving ware are all stuff that I set up the night before so that the morning could focus just on cooking.  It also upped the excitement factor for the kids as they helped, knowing something super fun was coming the next day.

 

 

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Food labels were made in English and Spanish so that people would "get" how they could mix and match things together.  I've found this is always important with a cross-cultural party where some people will be unfamiliar with food choices or traditions.  Keeping the same pancake and pj images used in the banner pulled the theme together.  

 

In keeping with the prep ahead mentality, Nate put together three batches of pancake mix with the dry ingredients.  That way in the morning we only had to add the liquid to the first two.  And the third was just on standby depending on how much people ate, making less waste.  (In the end two big batches was plenty since there were so many other goodies so the added bonus was pancake mix ready for the next weekend too!)

 

 

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These puff pastries with cream cheese, strawberries, and chocolate were Nate's favorite part ... and they were something I threw together with no recipe just that morning.  I'd woken wondering if we would have enough food (which of course we had PLENTY!) and so I put these together just in case.

 

 

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The birthday girl in her new pjs going to work on her parfait.

 

 

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I decided to keep the cake really simple.  I saw lots of pictures of cakes decorated to look just like a pancake but they just weren't that attractive to me.  In the end I chose to make extra of the same pancake-decorated sugar cookies and place a "stack of pancakes" on top of a simply frosted cake.  I was happy with the results.  The cake was Smitten Kitchen's yellow birthday cake (a great recipe!) with a fresh strawberry and cream cheese filling and a classic vanilla buttercream frosting.  So good!  

 

I baked the cakes ahead of time and froze them, both for purposes of working ahead and because frosting a frozen cake is much cleaner and easier.  The day before I frosted the cake and then put it in the fridge to thaw.  The morning of all I had to do was smear a dab of leftover frosting between each cookie and stack them on the cake.  

 

 

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The final thematic touch was the party favors. Weeks before the event I made classic sugar cookies and decorated them to look like pancakes (separate post to come on making detailed, decorated sugar cookies).  Each kid received a baggie with two of these cookies inside and a homemade pancake "sticker" to decorate it.  Each kid also received a single-serve cereal box with plastic, disposable spoon attached.  I thought both of these favors were a success because the kids were really excited about them and they eliminated two of my least favorite things about birthday parties:  more candy than I'd ever want my kids to consume and junky, tiny  little toys that get broken within a week.

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