Ella’s Birthday Party

July 28, 2011

Let’s not kid ourselves, this party was way more for me than it was for Ella.

Bart really wanted to have a little party, and I quickly warmed up to the idea because, hello, another chance to pull out the frosting gun.

It was convenient that her birthday fell on a Saturday, so we could celebrate on the actual day.  We took a little walk to the dog park in the morning, then she went down for a nap, while Bart and I cleaned the apartment a bit and set up for the party. She woke up 30 minutes before everyone arrived, and was happy and pleasant the entire time.

I didn’t want this party to cost a fortune, so we didn’t do a lot of food. I had a fruit plate, a large dish of jalapeno popper dip (Bart was devastated that this got completely scarfed) with vegetables and crackers, and three kinds of cupcakes.

The cupcakes were the main event, for me. I stole the idea of using little ketchup cups to bake the cupcakes in from my mega-crafty friends in Boston, Kristen and Jessamy. I went to two McDonalds and one Wendys and asked if I could buy about 30 of the ketchup cups. Happily, all of them said I could have them for free.

The thing about using the ketchup cups is that you can just lay them out on a cookie sheet and bake about 50-60 at a time. I didn’t spray the cups or anything, but they came out of the wrappers quite easily. Just don’t overfill them – about half full is perfect for most cake batter.

I made Snickerdoodle cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, coconut cupcakes with lemon curd filling and cream cheese frosting, and chocolate with raspberry frosting (I cooked down some raspberries from my freezer with a bit of water and sugar, strained them, and then substituted that for the seedless raspberry jam in the recipe – I couldn’t find seedless raspberry jam at my grocery store).

To my surprise, the snickerdoodle was the most popular, with the lemon coconut a close second. The chocolate was my favorite, with snickerdoodle my least favorite.

We printed 20 photos of Ella from the past year, trying to get a good representative sample. We did 5x7s which I think was a good call. Next time, though, I’d only do 12 photos (we did one wall with 12 photos and another wall with seven photos – one photo printed quite darkly, so we didn’t use it). We still have them on the wall and Ella points to them many times a day, wanting to be picked up so she can look closely at them.

I also bought a couple of sheets of paper at Michaels and made a garland of different size circles (I geared everything toward pink and red polka dots), which I think turned out very nicely. Also, easy.

I used the last of the snickerdoodle cupcake batter to make a little cake for Ella – I greased a mug like crazy and baked it in that. It came out really nicely, I sliced off the bottom so it’d be even, frosted it with the cream cheese frosting and then edged it with the raspberry frosting.

I had warned Bart the night before that if Ella made any indication that she disliked all the attention on her while we did the cake thing, it would be immediately over. I was determined not to be one of those parents who is forcing their baby to have a good time eating cake, when they clearly are hating every second of it.

But the second everyone started singing to her, Ella’s face lit up in this mega-cheesy grin. She loved it.

And then she was quite interested in the cake.

And then, the minute I stepped away from her, she stuck her face right into the frosting.

and I think it’s safe to say, she enjoyed it.

We had a small little group (seven adults and five children), so it wasn’t too crazy, and everyone stayed for two hours. We sat around and talked and the babies and children played and played and played.

Ralphie’s husband made fast friends with the babies by reading them a little flip book over and over again.

After everyone left, Ella went right back down for another nap and when she woke up we opened a few gifts, which she seemed to quite enjoy.

We ended the festivities of the day with a trip to Rome’s Pizza for a very tasty (and free! thanks to Morgan’s Deals) pizza with our friends James and Allison, who love Ella nearly as much as we do. James even took Ella up to the counter and told the owner it was her birthday, and he gave us a free slice of cheesecake, which Ella thought was pretty much the greatest thing ever.

Happy birthday to our sweet baby.

Thanks to Ralphie for bringing her camera and taking all these photos, without ever once complaining about how terrible the light in that part of our apartment is.

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  • Reply Melanie July 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Happy Birthday Ella! What adorable pictures of her and the cake.

  • Reply Mrs. Doolittle July 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I'm so glad you didn't disappoint me and her outfit matches the theme of the party (or perhaps the party theme was chosen to match the outfit). Looks like a wonderful party and that she thoroughly enjoyed it. I've been looking forward to hearing about her first birthday party and seeing the pictures.

  • Reply RA July 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Adorable, and I love the ketchup cups tip. I feel like you could buy these in bulk for a song. Also, smart thinking with the mug cake!

    Happy birthday, Ella!

  • Reply Jennifer Lee July 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Happy Birthday to sweet Ella! You did a great job with the party. Congratulations to you and Bart on navigating the first year of parenthood with such grace and enthusiasm.

  • Reply J. July 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I love the tiny cupcake idea! I'm definitely bookmarking this idea! Happy Birthday to your little sweetie 🙂

  • Reply Saskia July 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Look at you being all crafty! I've never seen those ketchup cups in the Netherlands – we use little packets, or I'll totally go bake tiny cupcakes this weekend! It looks like you had a good time, and I'll say it again, you have a really sweet, beautiful baby.

  • Reply Merrick July 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Hands down my favorite is that one of her chomping into that cake.

    Great job! Looks like a fun party!!

  • Reply Janet July 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Happy birthday, Ella! I also feel like the real congratulations should go to parents for surviving the first year with a baby. So, go J & B too!

    How did it work with the cupcakes coming out of the ketchup cups when it was time to eat? Love the idea!

  • Reply smalldog July 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Happy birthday, Ella! And props to you, Mom, for an utterly adorable party (I may have to steal the ketchup cup idea at some point in the future).

  • Reply lacie tidwell July 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    happy birthday ella!! what a swet baby- cute party!!! love the ketchup cups idea!! how fun!!!

  • Reply kristen July 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I had no idea… You are quite the party thrower! Everything was adorable (and I'm sure delicious!).

  • Reply heidikins July 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Happy Birthday Ella!!!

    I love the miniature-baby cupcakes, what a cute idea!!


  • Reply Kayla July 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Oh my goodness, she KILLS me.

    And those cupcakes look amazing. I wish we could have come!

  • Reply Becca July 28, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    a) Can't believe it's been a year since she was born. That flew by crazy fast for me, which I'm sure means it went even faster for you. She is adorable.

    b) What a cute, simple party. Sometimes I feel like I am already a bad mom because I don't intend on doing the MEGA THEMED ENORMOUS BIRTHDAY for my 1 year old. Or 2 year old.

    c) I would love to have tried those coconut cupcakes. Then again, I am in sort of an eat-everything-in-sight mode.

  • Reply Elsha July 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Happy birthday Ella!

  • Reply Melinda July 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    It seems like every post has me thinking "Seriously!??!?" Thank you so much for sharing such a sweet party with us! Little Ella is darling and you threw a great party! Love the pictures Ralphie!!!

  • Reply Jenny July 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Happy Birthday, Ella! Everything looks so fancy! The, cupcakes in the ketchup cups, is an awesome idea!

  • Reply Carly July 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    First: I adore her cute red outfit (as you could have guessed)

    Second: the ketchup cups is brilliant

    third: she only gets cuter with time.

    Happy birthday Ella!

  • Reply McKinley {Haolepinos} July 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I love the cupcake idea!! It is nice to have a solution when you don't have the small cupcake pans and liners.

    She is so very cute!!! And she is already a year? MAN!!! And how lucky that her birthday landed on a Saturday?!? Eke's is on a Sunday and I am trying to figure out when to do his hahaha.

    She is a doll and I am soooooooooo glad it turned out great! Everything looks so yummy, I was hoping to read you made a special ice cream flavor for her! And by the way Snickerdoodle is one of my favorite flavors and Coconut Lime!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHH Wish I could have had some ahhaha!

  • Reply Abby July 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Happy birthday, Ella!!! 😀

  • Reply July 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Yesterday we had a Bday party for my two year old. I invited her whole nursery which included 12 kids…their 14 siblings, and 13 parents. With my husband and I and our birthday girl we had a magical 42 people. I have learned….Sounds like you already knew! Congrats! The first year is the most incredible! The second is even more incredible (if that makes any sense) and it goes by at the speed of light.

  • Reply ssm July 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    I was having a crummy day and then I read this post. That photo of her smiling at her birthday song made ME smile. Thanks for the pick-me-up, Ella and Janssen.

  • Reply lifeofadoctorswife July 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Your daughter is so beautiful! Love the pictures. And what cute decor! Also, I am totally stealing the ketchup cup idea.

  • Reply Erica July 29, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Happy Birthday Ella! That cupcake idea is genius, but you know what would have even more genius? Sending some of those cupcakes my way.

    North Meets South

  • Reply Bethany July 29, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Those are the cutest baby-eating-cake pictures I've ever seen in my life. Also, those cupcakes? I'll take three of each, please. You have my address.

  • Reply Emily Kate July 29, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Such a sweet little party!! Love that the ketchup cups allow you to bake without a cupcake tin. So smart. We still have the photo wall from Addie's birthday up 3+ months later. She just loves it so much that I don't have the heart to take it down. Love that Ella loves hers too. She's such a sweetheart. Those cake pictures are darling!

  • Reply megan July 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    What a cute party! Love that she loved her cake. J shoved his away and was in tears. Not from the attention. He didn't like cake. Luckily, he grew out of that silly opinion.

  • Reply alisonwonderland July 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    What a wonderful party! Happy birthday to Ella!

  • Reply Miriam July 30, 2011 at 3:10 am

    too cute!

  • Reply emandtrev July 30, 2011 at 3:58 am

    I am SO impressed!! Happy Birthday to your sweet girl!

  • Reply Melissa August 2, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Happy Birthday Ella! Don't you just love when they dive face first into the cake. So cute!

  • Reply Jill August 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Adorable!! Happy Birthday Ella!

  • Reply FireMom August 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Oh how absolutely adorable. Lovely.

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