Cupcakes! Happy Birthday cupcakes, even. On Saturday we celebrated my nieces' birthdays. They are 8 and 6 this year. Time flies, doesn't it? Has it been an entire year since I wrote about my nieces' fifth birthday party?
I spent the early morning hours on the day of the party having fun baking cupcakes, wrapping presents, and squeezing icing. I love an excuse to bake, but ever since we started planning our hike to Machu Picchu, over a year ago, I've limited myself to baking only healthy protein bars and cookies made with almond flour, unless it was a celebration, of course. It was liberating to get to pile as much sugary icing on these cup cakes as I wanted!
I even had time to create a cup cake carrying case, by wrapping a cardboard box with paper, and lining it with foil. I used a coconut icing for German chocolate cake for some of the cupcakes, since it's a favorite flavor with some of the adults. I had to laugh when one little girl was gazing into the cup cake box, pointed at the coconut frosting, and asked me in a very serious voice "what is that stuff?". Ha!
Hopefully no one noticed that I was out of birthday themed paper for my box, and that I used christmas wrap instead.
Before the party started, Brandon and I parked the cupcakes in the shade at my parents house, and helped mom with some bee hive work. She ordered several new hive boxes and a bunch of frames to fill them. Everything comes un-assembled, so while mom and I painted the outsides of the boxes, Brandon used a hammer to nail the frames together.
The four sides of the frames are nailed together with small nails. Each frame uses eight nails, and Brandon put together about fifty frames in just a few hours.
Here you can see the pieces of wood that will become the outside of the supers, and the new hive base. We have enough supers now to make a whole new hive, plus put some small supers on our other hives, should they need it. If our bees survive the winter and swarm again in the spring, we will be ready to capture another swarm.
Mom convinced me to peak inside our three working hives to see how they were doing. I needed convincing, because this was supposed to be a party day, and we had already been doing so much work! But once I got geared up and had the smoker smoking after my first try (a first!), I realized it wasn't so hot that I was going to become a sweaty mess, and it really only took a few minutes to look inside each hive. Under the lid of the first hive was this blue tailed skink. I know from trying to catch them when I was a kid that if you grab them by the tail, their tail pops right off! It's very disturbing to have a wiggly skink tail in your hands, believe me. I was happy to get a picture and let this one keep his tail.
The small super on top of the hive that was a captured swarm, from this spring, didn't have any wax or honey built in it. I'm not sure, but this may mean this hive isn't very strong, which means it may have a hard time making it through the winter. In the photo above, you can see all the bees working on the thin piece of foundation wax we placed in the frame.
The hive next door had lots of wax, but no honey in their top super, but the hive by the garden had about half of the frames filled with capped honey. They may have enough honey to share with us!
Finally, it was party time! By the time we got the water balloons filled using the garden hose, the kids were so anxious to get started they could barely keep their hands off the stack of balloon ammunition. I've heard rumors of fancy water balloon gadgets that fill forty balloons at a time, but all I had were the old fashioned kind you have to do one at a time. Filling enough balloons with water to load a tub took quite a while, even with lots of little helpers.
Only two rules. Don't aim for anyone's head, and before you can arm yourself with another balloon you must run and touch the tree. This rule was to keep anyone from standing at the tub and dominating the game.
Water balloons are just like I remembered from when I was a kid. They don't burst when you want them too! I saw lots of great throws which resulted in a child getting whoomped by a fully loaded water balloon which didn't pop until it hit the ground. Ouch! Or you drop them and they get your own feet wet. No one seemed to mind though.
After a day of water balloons, cake, ice cream, chili spaghetti, presents, and silly string fights, I remembered that I brought some balloons advertised as light-up balloons. I thought this meant they would have a faint glow in the dark. Oh no, no dim glow here, these balloons actually had lights in them! They were so cool!
It was really neat to watch the kids bounce the balloons in the dark. A fitting end to party day!