A Garden Themed Birthday

We traveled back home to Texas after the holiday only to return to Chicago for what one national news reporter called the “Arctic Outbreak.” It was so cold when we returned to Chicago that the window to my husband’s car froze open when we were exiting the airport parking garage. Needless to say it was a cold drive home as it was snowing. So we turned up the holiday radio station which to our amazement was playing the song “Snow” from the movie White Christmas and tried to make the best of it by singing and laughing at the craziness of it all.

This is the view of the road in front of our house. The sun has come out more over the last few days which has made things brighter and prettier in the snow.

The single digit and at times negative digit temperatures have been a bit rough on us as Southerners. I cannot remember a time when I have been colder, so we are doing our best to stay bundled up and warm. In the middle of this Arctic craziness, we also celebrated my daughter’s birthday. My oldest daughter loves being outdoors and she adores gardens. So in the spirit of thinking ourselves a bit warmer we celebrated with a flower themed birthday dinner.

Homemade birthday cakes are a great tradition in our house. So as soon as we were home from celebrating the holiday I began working on some sugar gum paste flowers. I  had found some pretty gold and purple candles at Papyrus when I was out Christmas shopping so I decided to go with a golden yellow and purple flowered cake. I made some sunflowers and then decided to add in some purple morning glories with some twisted vine detailing. Then for an extra touch of purple I made some whimsical lavender fondant polka dots. My daughter helped me cut out the  dots and she loved taste testing the chocolate frosting. I like the taste of buttercream, so usually my preference is ice my cakes in buttercream and then use touches of colorful fondant like this polka dot border. One of my favorite parts of cake decorating is making sugar gum flowers. There is just something so fun about creating and painting the colorful details of flowers. Sugar gum paste is fairly easy to sculpt and once it dries the flowers will hold their shape and last for a long time. I plan share more about how to make your own sugar gum flowers and decorations. One of my goals this year is to incorporate some videos on my site and I think this is one of those projects that would work well as a short clip.

If you want the recipe for this delicious chocolate cake then click on the link to one of my very first posts where I shared it with cooking times for both a layer cake and cupcakes. This is one of my family’s favorite recipes.Here is a picture of the birthday girl blowing out her last candle. She had a fun day filled with all of her favorites including a trip to the aquarium. Birthdays are big in our house and we try to let the girls help plan what they want to do with their day. We had fun setting the blue and white table together, because blue is her favorite color.

Here is a view of the table with a few Christmas decorations in the background. Over the years I have learned that it is too much to try and have Christmas all put away before my daughters birthday so we always incorporate a bit of the Christmas fun in the celebration.

As a final last minute touch I took some small grapevine napkin rings I had and turned them into mini winter garden wreathes with some cedar leaves from our yard, some dried juniper berries and a blue satin ribbon. It was truly a fun day spending time together as a family and celebrating with all the flower filled garden details my sweet birthday girl loves. As a final parting shot I will share a pretty picture of lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline that my husband took when we were out and about in the city.

Here is the Chicago skyline with a partially frozen Lake Michigan.


  1. The blue tones in these photos just came out so deeply, they look great! Sorry about the window, hope it all got fixed!

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