It was the day, the day of days. The birthday of our little petite girl we call Lil Sister.
Jenny's Birthday Book" - a tale of the little shy black cat with a red knit scarf - Jenny Linksky - and her birthday picnic in the park surrounded by her closest Cat Club friends. The book is by Esther Averil and was published in 1954.
Our little girl discovered this book on her own while browsing the library shelves. After we checked it out over and over again within a 3 month period we opted to purchase the book. It is read at minimum on a daily basis. For a while, we could not get her ready for bed or nap time without at least one reading - sometimes as many as 3-4 readings in a single sitting.
Since her birthday is so close to Christmas during which she and her brother received more than a fair share of toys, we opted to give a different gift. We all went shopping and picked out materials for crafting a Jenny Linsky quilt/bedspread and matching curtains. This to complete set up of her bedroom. This is the work T Rex Dad refers to as my magnum opus. I am not a high level quilter but I have to say it turned out spectacular. I had no pattern except to follow the drawing in the book. (You can click on the image for a closer look.)
Esther Averil's whimsical writing is as charming as her illustrations.The curtains on the quilt window are made from the same material as the curtains in the bedroom. I made a matching decorative pillow and pillow case, too. Those flowers on the quilt are actually for tying the quilt and I did crochet those. My sister did the paintings over her bed. These are replicas from the book. They look almost exactly like the real ones. It makes me smile to see my sister taking up her painting hobby again.
The party itself was also representative of Jenny's party. To familiarize the kids in attendance, we started the party with a viewing of a reading of the book. It's a great video about 6 1/2 minutes long. It's just an old library film strip with someone reading it added with some simply sound effects and music.
Then a trip to the fish shoppe or "bish shop" as Lil Sister refers to it. We set up a stand where the kids could fish for prizes. This was probably the favorite activity. It was especially nice having my brother-in-law, someone I spent many hours fishing with, and my nephew running the shoppe. The fishing pole was made from a stick T Rex picked up on a recent father/son outing to the river.
Next was pin-the-nose on the cat. My sister painted a giant Jenny Cat and the kids took turns trying to put the nose on. I love old style kid games like this. T Rex does, too.
The activities ended with dancing "The Sailor's Hornpipe". It was Jenny's birthday wish to dance the Hornpipe. We turned on the actual "Sailor's Hornpipe" music, an Irish tune, and we did some jigging in a circle. When the music stopped, the kids were to find a number and stand by it. If that number was called they won a prize.
As you probably noticed, several of the kids and even some of the adults wore cat costumes - we even had a lion and Pickles the Famous Fire Cat. T Rex wore his Checkers costume. In the book and the Cat Club series, Checkers is Jenny's spotted brother and his special talent is retrieving a red ball. I did crochet the cat ears and the Jenny scarf, too. Some of the party favors were also crocheted - I made necklaces for the kids - flowers in red and yellow for the girls and red stars for the boys - much like T Rex's red ball necklace also handmade.
We opted for a "no gift" policy at the party because she had just received so many things for Christmas. Instead, I took the kids shopping for the prizes and favors which would be handed out instead of gifts being received. Most were non-toys like stickers, books, crayons, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, with just a few cars or rubber animals/dinosaurs. All were well received and I enjoyed seeing the kids give rather than always receiving.
The food, cake, and ice cream were all homemade. Since the Fish Shoppe was a major decoration we did some seafood - tuna sandwiches and shrimp cocktail. My mom's tuna and her macaroni salad have long been favorites of mine and also of the crowd as I did not get a single sandwich. I added some deviled eggs and turkey cream cheese wraps to the mix, too. My sister did her homemade salsa with chips and her famous ranch dressing dip with veggies.
The cake was a Better Homes devil's food cake with butter-cream frosting. It is actually just to round cakes with one with a part cut and used as the tail - extremely easy. Honestly, getting the frosting the right color was the toughest part. The frosting was deceptive because it was colored black and one would expect it to be a chocolate chocolate cake but it actually wasn't. I was amazed at how much black food coloring it took to get it this black.
Our little girl LOVES anything sweet and she had no issues putting the cake or ice cream away. I made a batch each of chocolate and vanilla ice cream - nothing compares to homemade. T Rex would not even go near the cake. His auntie was kind to make him some sugar cookies which I think he ate about a half dozen without us even knowing. I guess that's what celebrating is about!
It was a wonderful celebration and made even more memorable having those special to us and our little daughter there to witness the event. That night, after her party, like Jenny, she said her prayers of thanks and drifted into sleep - dreaming of her birthday...