Archive: ‘Cooking’

Is it time for a Pirate Birthday Party?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012



Plastic sword, Gold Earring and eye patch: $1.45

Pirate Hat: 50 cents

Watermelon: $3.99

8 year old Pirate Birthday Party: Priceless

As a mom of four I have learned that life celebrations are so important.  It isn’t about the gifts and the ‘bought’ stuff – it is the act of celebration and the ‘gathering together’ that is priceless. It is saying ‘I love you’ with a homemade cake and welcoming 12 little friends with an eye patch, a plastic earring and a ‘beard’.   Where else can you make and eat marshmallow starfish and watermelon sharks?  It Is not that we need to go over board with every event  but it is important to take time to make things special and creative. It is a good thing to break out of the routine and realize, as often as we can, how blessed we are. Recognizing people we love in a fun creative way doesn’t have to be hard or expensive – – the important thing is to do something out of norm to make the day special…and add a few whimsical  touches when you can!

Celebrate: To show happiness at something.

Our babies turned 8 this weekend. I remember that powerful day 8 years ago when our lives changed forever once again and again when they both arrived one minute apart. They have provided the sparkle and intrigue to our lives as each of our children has but being the youngest they make me more aware of the privilege I have to stop and enjoy and celebrate the moments that fly by so quickly.

Birthdays are a great time  to celebrate joy and life and to gather family and friends together to celebrate  good things. 

Yes, it is time for an 8 year old backyard pirate birthday party!

So how do you start? 

You start with a fun invitation designed by one of your almost 8 year old boys!

The next two post will be more about the how to of the party planning but remember that it is important to use your camera tips for these shots as well  i.e. no flash, blurry background etc.


Andrew drew the pirate and after a little thinking I decided to copy it on some velum and use it as an overlay for the party invite.


We used some pirate money to add a little bling to the project! It is hard to add bring when you have boys but I love bling and always look for the chance to use it!


Once we decided the menu we got to work. Our ‘sisters’ (Aunts, friends etc.) all came aboard with all hands on deck using their creative juices  – – most of the ideas were original but a few were ‘stolen’ in the spirit of the pirate theme!

The first item on the list was the  Starfish s’mores!


This is what we did!

Melt 2 bags of marshmallows and spread out on a mixture of cornstarch and powder sugar:


Use plenty of the corn starch/powder sugar to keep it from sticking to your hands. Let sit for a few hours or overnight.


Turn out onto wax paper and cut out with cookie cutter dipped in the corn starch mixture.


Paint with melted chocolate using a pastry brush. Be sure to get the sides. Tip: Most of the directions will tell you to dip the starfish in melted chocolate but that does not work! Your starfish will melt in the hot chocolate. Between all the women in the kitchen and after a few minutes of panic we discovered this method works beautifully! We added a touch or oil to the semi-sweet chips to make it spread easily.


Dip in finely crushed graham cracker crumbs while the chocolate is till wet. Shake it off.


Pour the ‘beach sand’ on a platter using organic granulated sugar; I chose the lighter version as the color reminded me of the beaches in Sanibel, FL – my favorite place!


Donna and Melissa added the candy eyes.



Then the starfish were finally placed on the beach all safe and sound


The second item was the watermelon shark! WOW!!


Our very talented Sara will do the demonstration for you here. It is important to find a long watermelon as opposed to a round one. The seeded ones are usually oblong and the seedless are usually round.

Make your first cut at an angle…


…so it will sit on the counter.


Then draw a line where you want the mouth to start:



We ended up putting toothpicks in for reference points to help us see what we were doing:


Scoop out the melon in the mouth and keep it in a bowl to use to make a fruit salad to stuff back in the mouth when you are done.


To carve out the teeth, you will need to cut a very shallow line above the first cut then cut the teeth. Cut the outer layer of the green rind off to expose the white part of the melon.


Make the teeth as sharp as you want! If you lose a few it will be OK – – most sharks are missing some teeth!


We cut a piece of the left over rind for the fin and attached it with toothpicks and cut a hole out for the black ‘gumball’ eye.



Here he is with the final touch of the added fruit!


Finally what is a party without a cake?! We couldn’t decide between a cake or cupcakes so – – you guessed it  – – we did both!

The cake started out as a rectangle shape with a white  icing layer.

We added blue icing to make the water. Tip: buy the colored icing from your grocery bakery department; most will sell it by the pound and it works very well and is so much easier than mixing those dark colors especially for black, red, orange, blue etc..


We used left over starfish graham cracker crumbs for the sand. Doesn’t it look just like sand!?


We figured out that using Twizzlers worked great for the ‘x’s and the dotted lines (we just cut them into pieces for the dotted lines).  Since Andrew and Evan are twins we needed two ‘x’s  on this cake and we could put their names easily on the water. This cake was evolving as we went which is how most things happen around here when I am in party planning mode! The decision was made toward the end to cover the round foil-covered cardboard with water and sand…I think it was a good one!


I had some picks from Pier One from a long time ago that were in the craft drawer and they worked great for the palm trees (sometime it is good to hang on to stuff you think you will never use!) We also stole some shells from the kids room that looked pretty cute on the sand – – -and just took them off before we served the cake.


Cake is done!…. what next????


Cup cakes!


The first trick here is to pipe the icing on the cup cakes so you don’t get icing on the edge of the cup cake papers.


We started with a simple design using cut up red fruit rollups for the red pirate hats and the black icing for the eyes and mouth.


But, we had access to the pirate picks that came with the cup cake papers …so… we had to use them of course! We had a blast making them all different designs! This part was so fun and the boys were loving every minute!


A cut nugget candy made this treasurer chest:


We cut some pirate money in half for this one and added blue water and brown sugar sand.. We used some blue gel icing on top of the regular blue icing to give the water a wet/wave look.


A few more ‘x’s with black icing and brown sugar and some organic granulated sugar sprinkled on top from the ‘starfish’ beach for sand on this one.


A Swedish Fish was cut in half for this one with some fish sprinkles added…


My favorite cake decorating item is the editable clear glitter – – not sure if you can see it in this photo but it really makes the cup cake sparkle! I love putting this on all my cakes for a fun touch. Gotta love the glitter!


The cup cakes are complete!





While the cake and starfish can be made the night before the party the shark needs to be done the day of if possible to keep it looking fresh.

We had so much fun together planning our party and troubleshooting the sticky marshmallows, what to do with the cake, how to get the shark eyeball to stay in  and all the decisions around the different designs on the cup cakes. The process is as important as the party : ) The process is one of the important memories so be sure to get photos of the process.

Stay tuned for Day Two of the pirate party planning on my next post! Still lots to do before the guests arrive!


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