Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 07.01.14
Stanstead, Quebec


Who wants to play Cake-tionary?

No, I don't want an award or a pat on the back or a gift certificate for unlimited foot rubs just because I, a dad, did something that moms do all the time, because I know that makes the moms crazy -- or as I like to call them, "the ladies," but I do so ironically, which means they can't call me sexist because I'm only pretending to be sexist while being, in fact, totally sexist. I love irony.

I also love my wife for taking care of most of the birthday party planning over the years and being wildly successful at it. She once created a version of Twister in which you not only had to place your foot or hand on a coloured circle but also had to eat weird food that matched that colour. Like the real Twister, this was fun for only so long. But no one could argue that it wasn't unique. Or sticky.

She has also typically baked cupcakes instead of the traditional cake. Cupcakes: no big deal, right? But wait.

The children get bowls of icing to decorate their own cupcake. But wait. There's also a lazy Susan loaded with gobs of candy and sprinkles that the children can use to garnish their cupcakes. They can pile on as much as candy as they want! And then we send them home to their parents.

Abby has always had cupcakes, so it was a surprise this year that she asked for a real cake. She turned thirteen this week, so maybe she felt a cake was more mature than gummie-worm-infested cupcakes. At the same time, perhaps reflecting the transition from childhood, she wanted this cake to look like Sven, the reindeer from the Disney movie Frozen.

"Why couldn't she pick Olaf?" I wondered. "He's a snowman. A snowman I could do."

I was thinking this because Deb, the partymeister (and quite the lady!) had asked/challenged me to render the cake Sven-like. We had decided we wouldn't shape the cake into a reindeer but would instead draw the character in icing. Deb had submitted her Pictionary skills as evidence why she shouldn't do it, and, having reviewed said evidence, I had no counter-argument.

It's been busy around the house, so I made the cake. No, please, no applause. I can do this. I'm not much of a baker but I can manage a cake or a cupcake and especially a pancake, because it's basically mixing stuff together, pouring, and waiting. There's not much too it. Ladies, don't pretend otherwise. And, men, get with it; egg beaters are just like miniature weed-whackers.

I made the cake and then I iced it with white frosting. The cake was lumpy (it's a long story) so the top of the cake looked somewhat ridged. Thankfully, reindeers are known for their ridgey-ness.

Next, I found an image of Sven on the Internet. Hmmm, yes, big teeth, red tongue, goofy expression, gigantic eyes, antlers, exaggerated nostril hole -- your typical anthropomorphic reindeer. To practice, I sketched out Sven on paper. I don't like to brag but let's just say I'm pretty good at Pictionary.

Then again, there's a reason the Icing Version of Pictionary never took off. There's very little room for finesse with icing. Icing, in the hands of an amateur, is essentially a paint roller.

The thing is, before I had even begun, I started giggling as I pictured in my head what my Sven cake might possibly look like. And here it was, forming before my eyes in blue icing and a garish red blob of a tongue, just as appalling as I had imagined. It was like I was a psychic -- a psychic with really terrible cake-decorating skills.

It looked nothing like Sven. It didn't look like any reindeer ever. If anything, it looked like one of the Ghostly Trio from Casper the Friendly Ghost, so at least it resembled some kind of cartoon character.

As the final step, I performed minor surgery on two pieces of red licorice and jammed them into the top of the cake for antlers. It didn't help.

Abby and her party guests arrived, and I presented her with her cake -- my first decorated cake for probably my teenage daughter's last real birthday party.

"I love it!" she said. "What's the big blue blob?"

"That's a nostril," I said.

"Oh, I get it. It's perfect!"

It's a sign she's growing up; she's learning to be tactful.