So I planned an amazing Lego-themed party on Pinterest for Jack’s birthday when I was on sabbatical. Luckily, I had it all figured out in my head AND on paper (ok, technically, electronic paper), so even though I was working when his b-day week rolled around, I figured I could get it done easily based on my superior planning skills.
We did have the “vision” to make our party favor crayons well in advance, but that was mostly due to Jack’s eagerness to use a knife for chopping crayons.
It took a while to chop, melt, cool, and de-mold the crayons, and we lost about 50% of the mini Lego man figures per batch due to them not completely coming out of the mold, so as usual, it took much longer than I had originally planned, but at this point in time, the party was well over a month away, so no worries!
Aside from that one advance-made bonus, I ended up doing EVERYTHING in the 24 hours prior to the party, while my husband looked on like I had lost my mind yet again. Fortunately, Jack is old enough, and interested enough, to want to help, and I had even made a list of things he could do, which included, among other things, all things related to the party favor bottle cap necklaces (from cutting out the circle images we would be ModPodging into the bottle caps, to cutting the thread into necklace lengths, to hot gluing the little jewelry bails on the bottle cap for the thread to loop through),
to party favor goody bags with foam circles attached by two-sided tape to make them look like Lego bricks,
to drawing faces on the square yellow plates, to cutting string cheese to make little circles for Lego crackers (this was totally a stroke of genius while waiting in line at the deli counter; I was thinking I would just get a brick of cheese and somehow manage to cut a million little circles when I realized I could cut string cheese…finally, my love of all things cheese pays off! And of course, he HAD to say, “look, mom, I’m cutting the cheese!”), to writing little menu cards in his best Lego Chima font. It was awesome…see for yourself:
Put I am here to say that Pinterest lies. I pinned this Chi-colored rock candy, thinking, two ingredients, one of which is water, plus food coloring…how hard can it be (famous last words)? This is another recipe that calls for a candy thermometer, so of course it was doomed to fail from the get-go.
This is the pinterest pic, not mine. I dissolved the corn syrup in water and added the magic gel-based food coloring that took me 20+ minutes to find at Michael’s until it was the perfect Chi hue. It bubbled and boiled for a good while and, not wanting to scorch it, I poured it into a foil-lined jelly roll pan, just like in the original pin (ok, they did not line their pan with foil but I am all about the easy clean up). To further speed things up, I stuck it in the fridge, figuring that would make it harden faster. Or not. It was basically like Chi-blue-colored corn syrup, so we named it the “Sacred Pool of Chi” and called it even. By the time the party started and we had everything out on the table, we ran out of room so I discreetly pitched it…no muss, no fuss.
However, all prior candy-making attempts aside, the biggest Pinterest lie was these chocolate-covered marshmallows designed to look like Lego heads:
On the above-referenced trip to Michael’s, I set out to find yellow candy melts and a black icing pen. I got to the (slightly intimidating) candy/cake aisle replete with all of the terrifically complicated-looking cookbooks with misleading names like Hello, Cupcake! Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make to Wilton cake pans designed to make any aspiring baker hang up his or her apron.
Have you ever tried baking a 3D cake? Years ago, when I was young and naive, I bought this duck shaped pan to bake an adorable duck cake for a rubber duckie-themed baby shower I was hosting for a friend.
This was my goal; luckily this was before digital cameras were ubiquitous, so you’ll just have to use your imagination to envision how horribly sad my duck cake turned out to actually be. HINT: even your worst mental picture is probably not nearly hideous enough.
As for the candy-coated marshmallows…dip a marshmallow in melted chocolate and put it on a stick–how hard can it be, right? I am starting to feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy continually tricks him into trying to kick the football.
So there I am in Michael’s, looking for yellow candy melts. They have EVERY color you could think of, except, you guessed it, yellow. They have sea foam green candy melts, and cherry red candy melts, and even chocolate brown candy melts (um…forgive my lack of candy-making skills, but couldn’t you just use, y’know, regular chocolate for brown?), but NO yellow. There wasn’t even a space where maybe yellow candy melts had been but someone else on a marshmallow Lego-head-making frenzy bought them all up leaving an empty space to let me know yellow candy melts had been within my grasp. Ok…I am a reasonably smart girl, I can figure this out. I purchase two bags of white candy melts, knowing I have yellow food coloring at home. BOOM! Take that, non-existent yellow candy melts and, by extension, me for not actually having clicked on the original pin to maybe find such helpful tips out.
So, into a pot on the stove they go, but they aren’t melting quite fast enough for Jack, Mr. Impatience himself, so I move them to a microwaveable bowl and zap them for a minute or so. I take a spoon to help facilitate the melting and for a moment, all is right with the world. Then Jack squirts a couple of drops of food coloring in and I continue to mix…and…it seizes up like bright yellow cement. I think the problem might be that is isn’t hot enough (I never claimed to be good at science), so back into the microwave it goes, only to become even harder if that is physically possible (maybe I am on to a new kind off synthetic diamond here!). Good thing I bought two bags of melts. I actually read the directions this time around and see that anything added to the melts will basically ruin it. Duly noted.
I decide to try and outsmart candy-making science (never a good idea), and melt the chocolate and add just a teeny-tiny bit of food coloring. Not exactly smooth enough to dip the marshmallows in, but definitely spreadable like think frosting. Good enough.
I added some smiley faces with the black icing, stuck them in the fridge, and filed this experience under Pinterest lies. Or I suck at candy making. Maybe a little of both.