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April 26, 2008

Piece of cake... Piece of cake...

~by Jenna McCarthy


I'm famous for my cakes. Actually, infamous is probably more accurate. Ask anyone who's been to one of my parties and they'll tell you my confections are consistently dry, suspiciously tilted, usually burnt on one side and batter-y on the other, and my icing "flowers" would more aptly be described as icing "turds." So you can understand why my children's birthdays can make me a little anxious.


I have friends who swear by those high-end bakery cakes, but-and go ahead and call me cheap here-a hundred bucks seems a slightly obscene amount to pay for some frosted flour and eggs. Besides, the kids only ever eat the icing anyway. If I didn't think the other moms would disapprove, I'd buy a case of Betty Crocker frosting, scoop a dollop into two dozen Dixie cups, add some plastic spoons and a couple sprinkles and call it a day.


Last year the birthday girl wanted a princess cake. Not just a cake with the likeness of a princess painted on top of it; no, she wanted one of those elaborate feats of culinary engineering where the plastic princess-that year, it was Belle-stands in the middle of her edible gown, its folds forming layer upon syrupy layer of decadent goodness. We'd seen one at a party, so I called the child's mom. Martha-Rachel Stewart-Ray (not her real name) informed me that you could buy everything you needed at the local craft store. "You made it yourself?" I asked incredulously. Pumped by the powerful combination of her impolite snickering and my own indignation (if Martha-Rachel could do it, then so could I!), I drove recklessly to Michaels and traded the cost of approximately two months worth of lattes for the Wilton Wonder Mold.


It wasn't until I got home that I realized that the doll figure torso (they don't even give you the whole doll!) that came with the mold was blonde-unlike my daughter-so I returned to the store and purchased a brunette head separately. Back at home again, I read the frosting and decorating instructions, which revealed I'd be heading back to the store yet again for some mysterious cake-topper known as fondant. At this point, I had well over $60 invested in my daughter's three-dimensional dessert, a figure which did not include the $350 cake-decorating class I would clearly need to take in order to assure the final result would be even remotely princess-like.


In the end I gave up, made one last trip to the craft store to return the whole lot and got a standard issue princess cake at Albertsons. It cost $17 and had four princesses on it. (With the money I saved, I was able to buy her a doll that had legs and everything!) Amid all of the other party festivities, there wasn't a single complaint. The birthday girl expected her friends to bring presents to her party. (They did.) These friends expected to get some sort of torched, sugary dessert in exchange. (They did.) Everyone was happy-but none of them happier than me.


And that, my friends, takes the cake.



Jenna McCarthy is the author of the upcoming book The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties. When she's not buying and returning bakeware, she can be reached at

See it on the big screen See it on the big screen

If you are thinking of taking your kids to the movies, make sure to check ParentClick's Movie Reviews.  Our reviews are written by moms, dads and kids throughout the country giving you the family perspective on new big screen releases as well as DVD's.  Thinking about seeing Nim's IslandRead the latest review for this movie and many others! 


Are you interested in reviewing movies?  Let us know at   

School Issues School Issues

For those of you with school-age kids dealing with issues like test scores, budget cuts and more, you might enjoy this link with a song & lyrics that talk about why kids need well rounded education and should not just be taught for test scores.



Not On The Test
by John Forster & Tom Chapin

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math, forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,

Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.

The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they're caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school ‘cause they're not on the test.

Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You'll learn there's a lot that is not on the test.

Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you're in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.

Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.

© 2008 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)


Going Green Going Green

For the sake of our environment, and our childrens' futures, it is time to Go Green!  You can hardly click on a website, open a newspaper or read through your favorite magazine without seeing references for 'going green'.  Where do you start?  How much is "enough"?  Well, the short answer is to just do something; if we ALL do at least one thing to go green, large or small, change will begin to happen.  We challenge ParentClick subscribers (25,000+ nationwide) to add at least one green element to their daily life - make it a realistic goal, enlist your family and stick with it!  Here are a few ideas:

  • Send your Mom or Mother-in-Law flowers this coming Mother’s Day and choose to 'Go Green' with your delivery.  Check out websites and florists that provide flowers that come from growers using practices that aim to improve the quality of farm working conditions, minimize damage to ecosystems, and conserve biodiversity --- you will be pleased with the fresh, high quality flowers these conditions produce!  You can help make Mother's Day special and help the earth too by doing a little research.
  • Choose organic fruits and vegetables for your family.  Why?  The pesticides used on some fruits and vegetables can adversely affect people; research is still being done on the long lasting effects so being safe and minimizing your family's exposure to pesticides may be prudent.  Some fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of pesticides than others, look at the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce for more information.
  • Purchase reusable shopping bags for your groceries.  Many supermarkets now sell reusable bags and some even deduct a small amount from your grocery bill for using any reusable bag.  
  • Buy water-efficient showerheads.  A family of four can cut water usage by as much as 280-gallons a month and not feel much difference in water pressure.
  • Choose a reusable coffee filter over paper filters for your coffee-maker. 



Green Tips, in part, submitted by Deborah Walsh, Los Angeles, Green Contributor

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