And I might have been able to avoid bursting into the tears over The Cookie Incident of 2014.
But probably not.
We didn't really have a theme for this party beyond "plish-plash-plash!" as Zuzu would say, but Zu was pretty excited about being "2" and is also a big fan of saying "ready, set, go!" (or sometimes "set, ready, go!" before jumping into the pool or sliding down the slide. So I got pretty freaking adorable invitations that said, "Ready - Set - 2!" and featured a picture of her splashing in the fountain at the park. Cute, right?
Since it was a morning splash party (9:30-11:30am), I decided that party treats would be breakfasty, but I was not going to go overboard. I had mini-yogurts, fresh fruit cups, and blueberry muffins. Juice boxes for kids, juice bottles for adults, and a nice big dispenser of lemon water. Instead of picking up cheap party favors that no one needed, I'd send the guests home with a lovely bakery-decorated cookie that had the number 2 on it.
I was envisioning something like this:
And while I've been very happy with Etsy purchases in the past, I was sure that I could get this made locally and save on the shipping costs. So two and a half weeks out, I went into a local bakery to get some cupcakes as a thank-you to Zuzu's teachers in the classroom she transitioned out of, and I asked about their cookie decorating. The girl working the counter gave me a card and told me to e-mail the owner with a picture of what I wanted in order to get a quote. So I did, and I waited to hear back from her.
Except I never heard back! So after giving her almost a week, I decided I'd better get a move on. But then we were in Nevada and then my brother was in town and I kept thinking about it and then it would slip my mind. Suddenly it was the Monday before her birthday and all the bakeries were closed (seriously, that's like a thing). So on Tuesday I started making phone calls.
The first place I called said their cookie decorator was out and wouldn't be back until Thursday or maybe Wednesday and didn't know if I could still put in an order for Saturday at that point.
The second place I called said they needed at least a week's notice and Tuesday to Saturday was not sufficient.
I was starting to feel panicky. I e-mailed some friends asking for advice and one of them suggested just buying predecorated cookies (instead of custom-made) from a local bakery. This seemed like a good idea, so I googled a couple grocery stores to see if they'd have photos online. A local chain close to my house said on their website that they do custom cookie decorating.
I crossed my fingers and called to ask if they could do sugar cookies with white frosting and pink 2's and if I could pick them up on Saturday. The lady assured me that was no problem. The cost was less than half of a fancy bakery, and I basically felt like I was super smart and The Best Mom and Problem Solver Ever.
Fast-forward to Saturday, when I decided to both paint a dresser for Rerun (a zillion details on that project later) AND to clean out / reorganize my closet (you think I'm nesting?). I had a very short list of things we still needed from the store, so I sent David to the grocery store to pick up the cookies during Zuzu's nap while I finished up my painting and sorting. When he got home, I was still hard at work upstairs. Zuzu napped late and by the time she woke up and I cleaned up, it wasn't until after 5pm that I went downstairs and saw the cookies.
Oh. My. Word.
Remember, I was expecting this:
|Somehow they looked even worse in person.|
(My best friend's husband said that he would have paid for the cookies, too. He says daddies just do it diff'rent.)
So David brings home a dozen cookies that look WORSE than they would have if I'd decorated them myself WHILE DRINKING HEAVILY.
I realize now that my expectations were far too high for a grocery store bakery. I don't know what I was thinking. I'd never ordered anything like that from the grocery store bakery before. I just assumed they were PROFESSIONALS. Who know that a 2 doesn't look like a lower case "a." And who can at LEAST spread frosting smoothly and evenly over a sugar cookie. WRONG AND WRONG.
And you know how you know that cookies don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, and at least I have a healthy, happy little girl whose birthday we are celebrating?
I know this, too.
And I still burst into tears.
This was the only "special" detail at the party since I wasn't decorating at the park, and I enjoy and care about details! I had totally dropped the ball and screwed it up and even though Zuzu wouldn't remember, I would remember, and so basically the party was RUINED before it even began.
David immediately started trying to problem-solve. He told me to look up a frosting recipe and said that we'd buy plain sugar cookies and frost them ourselves. I cried that I didn't have the time/energy/skill for anything like that and he said that he would do it. Then he looked at some decorated cookies online and suggested we use our duck-shaped cookie cutter and he would decorate cookies that looked like little ducks. So I took a deep, shuddering breath and told him as nicely as possible that we both know he doesn't have the fine motor skills for that shit.
Then I added that I just needed to take some time to cry about this before we started brainstorming about how to fix it.
Once I managed to pull myself together, we headed for Whole Foods to follow my friend's original suggestion to just buy pre-decorated sugar cookies in whatever shape or design they already had made. Miraculously, their bakery case had exactly 8 non-broken sugar cookies, professionally decorated to look like sea horses (or "sea creatures" as one cute little party guest called them). They weren't the cutest cookies I'd ever seen (see the "sea creatures" comment above), but they were a hell of a lot cuter than the monstrosity of sloppy 2/a's David had brought home.
|seahorse in a baggie|
David looked at me, looked at the muffins, and said, "Buy them." I started to protest, "But I was going to make homemade muffins for her party--" He cut me off. "Buy them."
And he was right. Not only was I worn out from painting and organizing, but I was also emotionally drained from the cookie saga. Not to mention the unplanned family trip to Whole Foods had taken a chunk of time out of our evening. I already had all the ingredients for the muffins, but guess what? No one but me was really going to care. The people coming to the party are my friends so it's not like they're judging me. And Zuzu liked them just fine. (If you're wondering why I couldn't have the same attitude about the cookie, please keep in mind that the muffins LOOKED just as cute as ones I could have baked at home.)
So I served store-bought muffins. But I felt better knowing they were organic! (Whatever that's worth when you're talking about mass-produced bakery items). Still, I put them in cute little paper cups! And I washed and cut the berries and pineapple for the fruit cups, which were a success (meaning, I didn't slice my fingers off and people--including the birthday girl--ate them and appeared to enjoy them). And my cute little wooden spoons arrived on Saturday (thank you, Amazon prime) so I was able to serve mini yogurts with wooden spoons which pleased me because I care about details.
(But the truth is that I enjoy painting furniture and doing projects around the house--even cleaning!--far more than I enjoy spending time in the kitchen. I keep thinking this will change as I get older but so far... not so much.)
Let my birthday drama be a lesson to you: Order bakery sugar cookies WELL IN ADVANCE. And pick them up yourself, lest your husband pays for something that you would never in a million years want to serve to party guests.
Finally, I must confess: the 2 cookies sure look like hell, but they actually taste pretty damn good.