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Power up! (The obligatory Party post)

Very occasionally Mummy Bear feels the need to be creative in a non-baking way. It is very few and far between, and usually involves Christmas, but this time Big Bear’s Mario Party took the full brunt of my “Oooh, I could make this!” train of thought. Luckily (?) for my creative intentions Big Bear is very pedantic when it comes to themes and expected absolutely everything in the party to be about Mario, and not just the food as I had intended!

We set up the hall with two large tables, one for food and one for party bags, and then left the rest for the games, as we needed lots of space for some of them! Auntie Bear created a ‘Power up’ sign to hang above the food table by downloading a Super Mario Bros font then colouring the lettering in. We hung brightly coloured bunting above it and bought a Mario table cloth to decorate it. I bought Super Mario bros paper plates and cups from Sainsbury’s and some gorgeous blue and white paper straws for the children to use.

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Just a side note to say Big Bear’s Mario costume and customized Mario/Luigi pumps were made by the fabulously talented Felix and Fox for any Mario fans who NEED to be exactly like Mario on their big day!

At Big Bear’s request the food was all Mario themed, which took a little figuring out! We had Brick Block pizza, Princess Peach fairy bread tiaras, Starman cookies1-UP cupcakes, ‘Fire flower’ fireball cheesy puff crisps, ‘Spring Mushroom’ salt and vinegar twist crisps, and ‘Ice flower’ prawn cocktail flower crisps.

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The other table was for party bags, and we set them all out in rows with each child’s name on, and then when they won a prize in the games, they were able to put the prize into their bags to take home. We used the Piranha plant centre pieces Big Bear had fallen in love with to guard the party bags during the party.

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I had thought about buying Super Mario Bros party bags, but because Big Bear had invited his entire class it would have been far too expensive. So in the end I made them all, by using printing the decal and sticking it onto brown paper lunch bags. Inside each party bag were a chocolate Mario moustache, a chocolate bar which I put a Mario wrapper on, a tub of bubbles which I substituted the original label for a Mario one, a party popper which I re-wrapped with Mario banner, and a party blower in Super Mario colours. They also had a slice of the Goomba cake wrapped in – you guessed it – Mario napkins!

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In the photo above you can also see one of the Luigi visors. After being inspired by Cute As a Fox with their card visors, I knew I had to make my own for Big Bear’s friends! However I neither had enough card or time to make 30 in that style, so I adapted it by cutting out crescent shaped pieces of green and red card instead. I used elastic stapled to each point of the crescent to make them a universal fit, and printed Mario and Luigi logos from Google for the badge at the front of each visor.

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We had devised several different party games for the children, as we had a whole 2 hours to fill and I had bravely naively decided to do all the ‘entertaining’ myself. We started with a game of ‘Mario Mario Bowser’ as we were waiting for everyone to arrive, because it is a game in which no one ‘wins’ as such, it keeps all the children in engaged in one place and doesn’t need too much adult supervision. It’s essentially Duck Duck Goose, but with different names!

Once everyone had arrived we played ‘Musical Freeze Flowers’ which is ‘Musical statues’ made to fit the Mario theme by playing it to the Super Mario Bros theme music! We had a variety of different prizes for the games, but for ‘Freeze Flower’ the winner got a Super Mario Question Block filled with chocolate coins.

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The next game we played was Mario Bingo, as I tried to alternate and energetic dancing/running game with one which was more focussed. Mummy bear has two boys – I know how to keep them from going TOO hyper! I just printed them out, stuck them to green card to give the sheets some durability and cut up an extra one to call out the pictures from. The children used bingo dabbers to cross off their pictures, but these were messy because kids can’t resist pressing down really hard, so if I were to do it again I would recommend buying some sticky dots or stars to play with!

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After they had been super calm and still for the bingo, we played Yoshi egg races. Originally this had meant to be a Yoshi Egg hunt, but seeing as the hall was a big almost empty room, there weren’t many hiding places and this foiled my plan! However Aunty Bear came up with a plan to save the situation and we played team races. In teams of 4 the children had to jump (like Yoshi does!) to the box at the other end of the hall, pick out an egg and then jump back to their team. The team who collected their eggs first won a prize each which for this game was a small plastic trophy because they had been racing. All the players got to keep a Yoshi Egg which was filled with banana skin sweets for their party bags. (Big Bear also loves Mario Kart. He doesn’t discriminate!)

ImageI’m not a very artistic person, so when Big Bear mentioned that he wanted to do a Pin the moustache on Mario Game I freaked a little. Especially when my best friend Google Search returned nothing suitable! But Auntie Bear is incredibly artistic, and she created the picture for the game which was a huge hit! Big Bear now has it pinned on his wall at home, and asks to play it sporadically. Although, that could be just because he thinks he is ‘good’ at it, as it was the only game he won a prize block for!

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The last game before we stopped for a ‘Power Up’ as the boys started calling it, was ‘Musical Mushrooms’. This is basically an updated Mario version of Musical chairs: I made ‘mushrooms’ out of large circles of green and red card (dinner plate size) and stuck smaller circles (wine glass size) of white paper on them. I laid these on the floor in the hall in a large circle, and the children walked around them to the Super Mario Bros theme tune. When the music stopped they had to find a ‘mushroom’ to sit down on and the person left without a ‘mushroom’ was then out. The last person left walking round was the winner, and they won a special snap wristband with ‘Game Over’ printed on it which I had found in Primark the week before.

We then had food and sang Happy Birthday, narrowly avoiding the disaster of forgetting the candles thanks to Nanny Bear running to the shop next door!

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And then, saving the best game (and the most likely to cause hyper kids which I could then send home to their parents!) till last, we had the Boo/Goomba stomp. This was meant to be just a Goomba stomp, and the Boo balloons were going to be used as decorations. However, it turns out brown balloons are quite tricky to come across and have to be ordered of the internet. And even then there is no guarantee that the supplier won’t send you pink balloons instead (not that I’m angry about it or anything!). So we filled the white Boo balloons with gold plastic coins to get them ready, and then on the morning of the party the brown balloons finally turned up. So we used both!

We copied the faces onto the balloons using a permanent marker, but just a word of warning, you can’t draw the faces on then let the balloons down to transport to the venue and blow up at a later date because all the pen turns to powder and smudges off when it contracts. This meant that when we got to the hall, we had to spend ages drawing the faces onto each Boo/ Goomba before the party started. It was totally worth it though as this was the best game of the day! The children got to keep the gold coins they found in the balloons (some balloons had 4 or 5 in, others only 1) and the player with the most coins got a prize block to put in their party bag.

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And there we have it, if you’ve made it this far, then well done, you must be a Super Mario’s Bro obsessive to the same level as Big Bear. Luckily Baby Bear hasn’t got to the age of wanting parties yet, so it’s another year before I have to think about it all over again!

Mummy Bear x

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Here we go!

Big Bear is Mario Bros mad. I’m not sure where he gets his obsessive tendencies from, because it’s not like Mummy Bear has an all consuming hobby, is it?! Over a year ago Big Bear asked for a Mario themed party, and he’d dreamt up this huge Mario themed cake which ‘has the biggest Goomba in the world on it’, to go with the party. But it stayed as just a dream, because Big Bear is cursed with a birthday that will always fall in the summer holidays when the Bears like to go away.

However this year he seemed to have upped the level of nagging (either that or my tolerance levels have depleted in the last year) and so a hall was booked back in July, and the party was a go! Which meant the massive Goomba cake was also back on. At least the bonus was I’d had over a year to consider how to construct the cake, so when it came to it although it took a whole lot of time, I’d already worked out how to make the shape and what to decorate it with.

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I haven’t got any photographs of the baking/decorating progress, because I was doing it all whilst trying to supervise two very destructive little bears and blitz the Bear house ready for the surveyor. Turns out Bears can multi task. Just not take photos at the same time!

The Goomba is made out of the top part of a giant silicon cupcake mould for his head, and half of the bottom of a silicon giant cupcake mould for it’s body. The main part of the cake is 4 layers of an 8 inch round tin, each layer being approximately 4 inches thick. For ease I made the whole cake out of a simple Victoria sponge recipe, but made it in 3 batches of batter.

Victoria sponge recipe

8 oz stork

8 oz golden caster sugar

8 oz self raising flour

4 large eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 160C. In a large mixing bowl, cream the stork and sugar using an electric whisk. Beat the flour and baking powder into the creamed mix on a low speed.

In a separate bowl, use a hand whisk to gently beat the eggs and vanilla essence, then pour half the mix into the large bowl. Beat the batter on a low speed until just combined, and then add the rest of the eggs and beat again.

Split the mix evenly between 3 separate 8 inch round sandwich tins. Use a spatula to spread the mix over the base of the tin, and move the batter so that there is a slight dip in the centre of the tin. This will help to prevent there being too much of a dome in the middle of each of the cakes, preventing wastage when levelling them.

Bake in the oven for 40 mins or until a knife come out clean form the centre of each cake.

Repeat this recipe and split between one 8 inch round sandwich tin and the bottom of the silicon giant cupcake mould to create the final layer of the base cake and the Goomba body. To ensure the middle of the giant cupcake bakes at the same speed as the outside of the cake, after 30 minutes in the oven place a metal butter knife or metal skewer into the centre of the cake and return it to the oven until cooked through (it will take longer than the single sandwich tin). The metal will act as a heat conductor, raising the temperature of the centre of the cake and ensuring it cooks properly.

Make the final Victoria sponge batter using the same method, but 3 eggs and 6 oz of stork/sugar/self raising flour and fill the top of the silicon giant cupcake mould with the batter, and bake for approximately 1 hour at 160C. Use the knife/skewer trick again to ensure the centre of the cake cooks at the same speed as the outside.

Once cooled, use buttercream to stack, fill, and crumb coat the cake in three sections; the main base cake, the body, and the head. I used 150g of unsalted butter, about 600g of icing sugar and 100 mls of whole milk beaten together with an electric whisk to fill and crumb coat the entire cake.

It took 1kg of white sugarpaste coloured with Wilton Sky Blue to cover the main base cake and 12 inch board in one go, 500g of white sugarpaste to cover the Goomba body and create the eye accents on the Goomba head, and 500g Dr Oetker chocolate sugarpaste to cover the Goomba head. No wonder it weighed so much!

It was the first time that I had used dowels on a cake, as it always seems such a mission to insert them mark them, cut them level etc, but seeing as this cake had to have ‘the biggest Goomba in the world on it’ and I didn’t fancy a disappointed Big Bear, dowels were a must. They were actually straight forward to use, although next time (see – I’m saying ‘next time’, so they can’t be that bad!) I will buy plastic ones, because I’m not really a hack saw loving kind of Mummy Bear. I only used dowels in the main base cake to support the whole of the Goomba, because I figured that the body could support the head without a cake card as it usually does with a giant cupcake.

I cheated a little and bought ready coloured black, red, ‘Lincoln green’ and ‘Teddy bear’ brown regal ice sugarpaste for the various accents and coloured the small amount of yellow myself Wilton lemon yellow. The Mario and Luigi figures  were another cheat – I bought them because I am well aware that my modelling skills mimic my singing skills! I also ran out of time on the lettering, so I used ready made white chocolate letters rather than cutting them myself. It was a bit of a compromise, I think it would have looked better with coloured lettering, but Big Bear didn’t know any different, so I guess that’s all that matters.

It took hours – I worked through the night so to avoid the little Bears’ misplaced offers of help. but I was a little distracted by the opening ceremony of the Paralympics so it could possibly have been finished earlier that 3am! And Big Bear’s reaction when he saw it in the morning? ‘Mummy, that is the best cake I have ever seen!’. Clearly he has never searched for ‘Mario cake’ on Google, but I’m not going to show him how!

Mummy Bear x

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