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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Little Mermaid

This blog entry is of sentimental value and is more of food for the soul than it is for the belly . . .yet for those planning a party, hopefully this will stir your creativity to create a memorable celebration.

My older daughter Nhã-Hân just turned 5 a week ago.  She started Kindergarten a few days after her birthday.  My oh my, how time seems to slip us by was just yesterday when I cradled her in my arms and now a kindergartener?! I feel so old.

Everytime I look at her, I missed those chubby cheeks adorned with two deep dimples.  The dimples are still there but the chubby cheeks have firmed up.  It sounds crazy but I reminisce of those diaper-changing, baby-burping, luke- warm -water-bathing and I-can't-wait-until-she-grows-up days. Well in a blink of an eye, she's 5 years old!  How I  miss the baby talk and the anticipation of her first steps. Now she swims, dances ballet, does gymnastics and carries an I-Don't-Care-Response attitude.

My little mermaid at 7 months old

Her first experience riding a bus

Nhã-Hân's 1st birthday

2nd birthday

3rd birthday

4th birthday

As life is full of surprises, who knows what it will bring the very next moment;  so I like to spoil my daughters so that they can enjoy it to the fullest. That way I'll have a blast as well preparing for these celebrations.

This year, my daughter wanted an under-the-sea theme party.  Throughout the year, everywhere we went, we'd collected seashells, starfishes, crab and lobster models and anything that reminds of the ocean..  My two darlings and I had so much fun planning, shopping and preparing for the party. 

Hence, what could be better and more fun than a message in a bottle to serve as an invitation! 

While we were vacationing in Mendocino, my birthday girl didn't forget to bring her mermaid costume with her on the trip to get some poses by the ocean...This costume was intended for her summer ballet recital in July but given her birthday theme, it served a perfect purpose.

I have two opportunities a year to fulfill my creative hunger, both from a culinary standpoint and aesthetically.   I would rummage for new ideas and make it happen.  On my youngest's third Ballerina birthday party, I made cutouts of  butterflies and flower straws and it was a big hit.  I continue that success but for octopus, dolphin, starfish, and seahorse straws.  They were fun to look at and the kids love them. 

My children and I made many trips to Michaels and A Dollar Tree store to collect those inflatable  sea creatures.  We planned to transform our backyard into an ocean full of sea creatures by hanging these inflatable sea creatures  with the seaweeds and ocean waves that I made out of  plastic tablecloths.

For the last couple years, my sister-in-law would make these gorgeous birthday cakes but this year, last minute changes left us to our own devices; my daughter suggested that I make the cake and she will be the helper :-).  At first, it sounded like an exciting idea, but soon realized that it would be too much work to bake and decorate the cake.  So, off we went to the stores and ordered 3 cakes without any decoration. That way, I can partake in the decoration and personalization of her cake.

Gummy sea creatures, fish cookies, fruit loops cereal, fruit roll, rock candies as part of the decoration 

The leaning tower of Nhã-Hân, a personal touch.

On Nhã-Hân's 5th birthday party, I managed to serve every dish with a seafood touch in them.   The Octodog ( made out of hotdog) was a big hit.  There were also bánh bèo tôm cháy, bánh bột lộc nhân tôm, chả ốc (new recipe to be posted soon), chả tôm Huế sandwiches, seaweed and calamari salads, hến xúc bánh phồng tôm, xôi tôm cháy, sushi (masago rolls) and mango seashell pasta salad. 


Chả Ốc (Vietnamese Ham and Perwinkle Snails)

Mango Seashell Pasta Salad

Xôi Tôm Cháy và Da Heo Chiên Dòn (Sticky Rice with Shrimp and Fried Pork Rinds)

Masago Rolls

I love the colors of the ocean; I wanted to incorporte its colors through my drinks; the blue berry punch and  the green mixed punch along with the earthy flavor of mojito for the adults provided a cool and refreshing combination to quench their thirst and keep their thoughts somewhere close by the water.

Blue Berry Punch fountain

Refreshing, earthy flavor of Mojito

When it comes to summer’s favorite cool, sweet treats, snow cones are sure to be popular.

Birthday girl enjoyed snow cone while mingling with friends and cousin

The shark water melon served as a great centerpiece on the dessert and drink table. It adds a fun accent to the display. There were jello cups filled with gummy sea creatures to keep the kids exploring through the different types of treats.  Adorable Fish shaped strawberried, gold fish crackers  and bubble gum balls were also in the mix.

Shark Watermelon

Little sis enjoyed a cup of jello

Jello cups filled with Gummy Sea Creatures

Fish Shaped Strawberries

Gold Fish Crackers and Bubble Gum Balls

Chè Khoai Môn (Taro Pudding) was served as a bonus :-)

Coloring Pages

To top the celebration off, we rented a water slide to keep the kids cool in the sweltering heat and what under the sea party would be with water. The kids had a blast.  All the hard work paid off and for me to see the pure joy and  excitement on my little mermaid sweet face was just priceless. 

Parakeet was on her birthday wish list

Happy Birthday to my little mermaid!