Olivia turned two this past weekend! We had a fun-filled weekend with special visits from family. We spent our time exploring the city and eating all sorts of delicious food. We planned to do something fun with family for her birthday but living in a small home felt it’d be best if we broke it up between two days. Instead of one party with everyone crammed in the house and the cost quickly adding up, we took it to the streets — explored the city for free and then had a casual lunch either at the house or outside. It turned out to be such a fun + affordable way to spend the weekend and soak up this exciting time.
Olivia was so excited to wake to a spread of balloons around her room. Cheap and totally entertaining fun! I’m sure we’ll have the balloons around for a few days to occupy her.
This past year, I’ve been so interested in developing our family’s traditions and this easily may become one — french toast with strawberries & whip cream for breakfast on birthdays. Again, affordable + tasty. I love that with traditions you know what to expect and it’s always something that you can look forward to.
One of my personal goals for Liv’s birthday was to nail down a family birthday cake. I wanted a reliable recipe that’s not only easy but also tasty. I made a vanilla & chocolate cake for Peter’s birthday and unfortunately it was dry + bland, so I was determined to find a better one. My sister-in-law passed along this recipe and I’m so happy with it! The recipe is from Life, Love, and Sugar and is actually a cupcake recipe but works for cake! I loved that there aren’t any tricky ingredients and I already had all of them in my pantry.
The cake turned out really moist & dense — my favorite! We already had icing at our house so I used that instead of making it myself. That can always be an option to save you some time.
Olivia ended up waking as I was icing the cake, so I didn’t bother to shave off the top of the cake to make it even and straight but I love it just as much!
2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
2 cups (414g) sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) milk
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup (240ml) hot water
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp water or milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and two 8″ cake pans.
2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
3. Add the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and eggs to a medium sized bowl and combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
5. Slowly add the hot water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
6. Split the batter between two 8″ cake pans.
7. Bake for 20 Minutes (I baked for 24 minutes)
8. To make the frosting, combine the butter and shortening in a large mixer bowl and mix until smooth.
9. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
10. Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of water or milk and mix until smooth.
11. Add remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
12. Add remaining water or milk as needed and mix until smooth.
It was certainly birthday-girl approved!