Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Labor of Love

Somebody in my house has a big birthday this weekend. Since she's a college student several states away we decided to fly her home for the long weekend so she could have a family celebration just a little bit early. She has friends who will make sure her actual birth date is special so don't you worry.

And actually, we didn't fly her home but rather to an airport in close proximity to her sister's home so they could hang out together on Friday night. Which they did. They hadn't seen each other in person since May so there was much talking to be done. fyi-when it comes to my girls there is always much talking to be done.

Saturday morning they hopped in the car and met us at a marina on Maryland's Eastern Shore to spend the remainder of the Labor Day holiday weekend with us. My sister and brother in law have a boat in this particular marina and my three siblings, their spouses and their children all came too. The boat can handle a crowd and I think you know how we all feel about the water.

It was fun to have all the siblings together. That doesn't happen very often since we're somewhat spread out so we felt a toast was in order. Saturday night my sister had arranged a special dinner on the pool deck in honor of Daughter2, the birthday girl.

A birthday girl needs a crown, right? She also needs a sister who appreciates it-

My nephew is the lone boy in a sea of grown up girl cousins but he doesn't really mind. He was not too sure if he wanted his picture taken but he's learning that we girls can be persistent so its best just to get on with it.

Once upon a time we lived in Maryland and the gentleman who was our next door neighbor there just so happens to reside now in this little marina town... he also joined the party-

We hadn't seen him in about ten years so needless to say he was surprised by our grown up girls. This neighbor taught hubs everything he knows about how to grow and maintain a great lawn and they share a love of good turf.

Chocolate cake makes some people so happy...

I had seen an idea for a cake on pinterest that I was anxious to try along with some fun cupcakes. The cake turned out so was a Martha Stewart project and let me just say that placing that number of M & M's on the icing is a bit more tedious than it first appears. I wonder how many people Martha had helping her? I bet she never said, "Just get them on there and don't worry about a pattern." My mom and sister pitched in to help me out (thank goodness) or I might still be sitting at the kitchen table sticking candy to icing.

I had special ordered the M & M's because I loved the color scheme. That blue is Daughter2's color plus it all felt very nautical plus that's what Martha did and who am I to question the Queen of Crafting and Cooking? I had some of the M & M's personalized with her name, 21, love, and birthday girl on them and that was fun. Pricey but definitely fun. Hey, you only turn 21 once, right?

Daughter2 is something of a shark aficionado too so I wanted to make these super cute shark cupcakes I'd also seen on pinterest. Who says pinterest is a waste of time? Not me!

Are these not adorable? My mother cut chocolate bars into triangles for the fins and I used white lifesavers for the life preserver which made the icing a little minty. Yes indeed I did add red gel stripes to each and every one. Daughter2 is worth the trouble.

On Sunday morning my brother in law also put his ski boat in the water and we broke out the tube. For the record, I don't tube. I love water and I love to swim and I love speed but I no longer enjoy tubing. I am the worry wart on the boat watching to make sure no one is knocked unconscious or run over by a boat propeller. Really every boat needs someone like me on board.

Anyway, the girls went first. Daughter2 was wearing contacts and for those of you who've never tubed you should know there will be some water spraying your face. The combined weight of my two girls is less than a fig newton so they really fly. It helps to have a little weight on the tube.

Unless that weight is in the form of my husband in which case you'll be wishing you were on your own. His goal is to catch air and he does everything he can to make the tube go airborne.

Hmmm...that might be the real reason I no longer tube. When he's thru he likes to do a back flip while the boat speeds away. Good times. Actually hubs is a good guy to have around when you are boating. Let's say the chain that attaches your gas cap to the boat suddenly falls apart while you are busy at the pump and that darn cap drops right on down into the dark muddy depths of mucky, murky blackness. Well then, he's your guy. No sooner did that gas cap sink than hubs was off the boat and into the water. I'm telling you, I have to watch him every second people. He later said going eight feet under the dock was way scarier than scuba diving three times that depth in the Persian Gulf but he did rescue that darn gas cap and he also surfaced in one piece so yay hubs!

After the girls tubed we all acted as cheerleader to convince my nephew to give it a try. His dad promised they'd go slow and his mom rode beside him. He wasn't too sure about the whole proposition but he put on a brave face. By the end of the day he was asking for another turn. Even his cousin's spectacular cartwheel across the river after a too fast turn (another reason I don't tube) did not deter him from wanting another ride.

Sunday evening all four members of my little family were in their glory. We had our most favorite meal-steamed blue crabs picked while sitting beside the water. It is a messy business eating a blue crab (they are blue before you cook them) but it is more than worth it.

We throw newspaper down on the tables and then everyone changes out of their white tops because there is no way to eat a crab without getting some of the crab debris and Old Bay on your clothes and truth be told you don't want to be worrying about staying neat. Go for it! That's the best and only way to eat crabs and these were delicious.

It was so great to be able to celebrate with daughter2. A September birthday and university classes several states away mean I haven't gotten the chance to do that in recent years so this was special for all of us. I'm going to end this post with my favorite picture from the weekend. I think I said something on my blog yesterday about a picture being worth a thousand words.

Pretty sure this is one of those.


  1. Sounds like you really had a good time, your girls are beautiful!

  2. That looks spectacular! I guess 21 is a big birthday in the States, isn't it? It's a benchmark, for sure. Happy birthday to your daughter! And your cakes are fabulous.

  3. What a wonderful weekend and Happy Birthday to your baby! That weekend sounds like one to go down in history .....they don't get any better than that do they. Love the last special.

  4. Happy Birthday to daughter #2
    The cake turned out great!

    Joyce, I'm trying to get to your page on Pinterest where I can follow you. Can't seem to figure it out. I'm tweeterbird on Pinterest. Thanks!

  5. It sounds like a fantastic time. So fun to see the photos. What beautiful girls! Happy birthday to the birthday girl. :-)

  6. Those shark cupcakes are perfection - as is the crown!

  7. It looks like an amazing weekend. You're so smart to choose relatives who have fabulous boats. ;)

  8. FUN! FUN! FUN! I'm so glad you got to have everyone together! It really is so hard to do when they spread out. I can hardly wait for Christmas when everyone comes home!

    And you're quite right about the words needed!

  9. It looks like a good time was had by all. I wondered about that 21 year old question...makes sense now. NEato cake too!!

  10. you soooo captured my heart with your last MUST blow that up and hang it in your bedroom; what a wonderful memory to take to sleep ;)

  11. That last picture, I couldn't agree with you more. Really lovely.

  12. What great fun! Thanks for sharing such a great time with us, and happy birthday to Daughter 2!

  13. What a perfect birthday weekend. That cake is adorable. The ordered M&M's were perfect. The crab also sounds delicious. Nothing like turning 21! Happy Birthday Daughter2! How awesome to have so many family members there to join in the fun.

  14. Great pictures! Love that cake and all those M&M's, you do have patience and love your daughter, don't you? :) That last picture looks like pure bliss to me!

  15. I´m pretty sure you are right about that last picture! Adorable and you can see the love. :)
    Glad you guys had such a special day. It looked like a lot of fun!

  16. Looks like a great weekend! I use to go crabbing when I lived in Maryland. I love hard-shell crabs.

  17. Love every detail. The 21 cake colors are exactly my daughter's favorites together. I would so put a gazillion and one M&M's on a cake for her "because she's worth it." Glad you got boat time, water time, crab time, and most of all, family time. Nothing as good as good family time.

  18. When you have a fun weekend, you really have a lot going on! I love the birthday cake and cupcakes, too. So cute. Hope daughter2 has a great birthay.

  19. It looks like you had an amazing time. Daughter 2 is lucky to have such a wonderfully caring mom!