Chester at 5:30 am on his 3 month birthday!

The Chester Diaries: Celebrating the feast and famine known as new motherhood.

Welcome to my blog! My name is Lara and I gave birth in April, 2010 to a baby boy. I've been calling him "Chester" since he was a little chestnut in my tummy. To commemorate his three month birthday, I wanted to write about the crazy, joyous and exhausting ride I've been having as a first-time mom. If you're interested in reading about the highs and lows of uncharted mommy territory as well as my unhealthy obsession with shopping, (particularly baby gear), reviews, and pop culture observations, then you've come to the right place. Be warned: This cute kid has a mommy who can be a bit of a potty mouth.

Note: This blog is no longer active but please enjoy Chester's journey from 3 months to 2+ years.

Wednesday, May 9

Birthday Bonanza

Finally, pictures from our little boy's 2nd birthday!  I'm still recovering from my cupcake making fiasco.  (See story below.)  In the meantime, enjoy Chester's special day!

Oh no!  Why can't my birthday be EVERY day???

The cupcake fiasco

So as I mentioned in the post above, I'm slowly recovering from the cupcake trauma leading up to Chester's birthday. After spending three days making batches of cupcakes and frosting, I needed some time to recover! Last year, I decided to make my own birthday cake from scratch which was organic, gluten free with homemade sweet potato frosting. 

This year, the idea started out innocently enough...I thought I'd like to try to do something to accompany the Elmo ice cream cake we decided to get for Chester.  My mom and Tony were nice enough to pick that up for us, which was helpful as it was one less thing to do off my list.

You'd think cupcakes wouldn't be a big deal.  And you'd be right.  Except if you've never made them.  And you have a problem reading recipe directions (which I do.)  The first batch of cupcakes I made turned out surprisingly well.  I baked a black and white cupcake from scratch - the "black" consisted of chocolate and the "white" - a cream cheese filling.  They turned out perfect. 

The only problem was it only yielded 15 when the recipe called for 24.  Don't ask me how that happened.  Unfortunately, I needed at least 20 for my cupcake installation.  Luckily I bought two store bought boxed cake mixes as backup.  Too bad I read the directions wrong.

The instructions on the box said it yielded enough for 24 cupcakes, but I was nowhere close.  I figured I'd just use the other box to make 12 more and fill this pan right up to the brim.  Wrong.  Black goopy chocolate bubbled everywhere - all over the bottom of my nice clean oven!

Re-reading the instructions, apparently I forgot to add water.  Oops.  Funnily enough, these ugly babies tasted a lot like brownies.  Tim and I had no problem eating my mistakes.  The next batch turned out great, yielding 24 cupcakes, just as the box described.  Duh.  I was told later that these were better than my black and white cupcakes.  Not in taste, but in texture, as they were soft and perfectly moist.

My first batch made of store bought cupcake mix.

Now let's talk frosting.  I wanted to do a homemade buttercream but the recipe scared the bejeezus out of me.  It called for FOUR cups of icing sugar which only yielded a small amount of frosting.  I had to send Tim to the store to buy four bags of this crap.  I managed to follow the instructions to the letter but it came out a runny, grainy mess.  And disgustingly sweet!

Best used as spackle?

Viewing suggestions online, many said to counteract the sweetness by using either lemon rind or pineapple juice.  I tried both which did make it better, although the frosting became even runnier.  The remedy?  Add more icing sugar.  Sigh.  I eventually tried adding cool whip to half of the batch.  This was ick too.  No matter what I did, the frosting just wouldn't thicken.  I later found out the culprit was not using room temperature butter.  (I did try to soften it in the microwave, but it just left it melty and still somewhat cold.  You really DO need room temperature butter.  No exceptions.  Exhausted, I decided I'd make one last ditch attempt at finding the perfect buttercream in the morning (on Chester's birthday).  I found a recipe which sounded promising, with nary a mention of icing sugar.  It called for plain granulated sugar and milk, cooked up in a double boiler, which I only noticed the next day.  (We don't own one.)  Fancying myself a mini MacGyver, I jerry-rigged two small pots together and got to work.  Unfortunately the milky sugar mixture soon exploded all over the stove, dripping into the oven and inside the glass window, which I still have no idea how to clean.  What a horrible mess.  I almost gave up right there.  But I wiped away my tears and continued, with only half the mixture remaining.  I'm glad I persevered.  The frosting turned out DELICIOUS and I have to say it is the best, most delectable concoction I've ever eaten in my life!

Creamy buttery heaven!
I'm uncertain if I'd be able to recreate this recipe since I realized I only used half the milky sugar mixture to add to the rest of the ingredients.  By the time I was done, it was almost 3 pm which left me with only an hour to decorate 39 cupcakes.  The results weren't exactly pretty as I've never decorated cupcakes.  I had no time to document my handiwork throughout the process, so here is a snap of the final result.

You'll notice that the bottom cupcake on the far left has a white smeary film below the frosting.  This was the runny, too-sweet Cool Whip mixture which I first tried on all, then wiped off.

The homemade black and white cupcakes have frosting "rosettes" with little Elmo figurines (I sneaked in a few Cars themed ones as well since he loves them too).  The store bought cupcakes got the full frosting treatment, with letters from colored icing sugar frosting that came in tubes to spell out the Happy Birthday message.  I also added some plastic and candied Elmo figures.

All in all, I think the monster liked his monster cupcakes, not to mention the cool Elmo cupcake stand!

Kissing his Elmo cupcake.  MWAH!
The frosting earned rave reviews.  The cupcake?  Not so much...