As long as the cake is awesome the party will be too | Living with Gleigh

We celebrated my oldest daughter’s 18th birthday last week. She had a Big Backyard Barbeque Birthday Bash with twenty or so of her friends. It was exactly what it sounds like, with a little twist in the form of an inside family memory.

Notice the use of the letter “B” in the theme. When we came up with the long title for the birthday invitations, it reminded us of the children’s picture book “Berenstain’s B Book.” As a writer, there are a few children’s books I find to be works of genius; the way the words roll off the tongue and the fantastic images they conjure up even without pictures are just enchanting to me.

My kids loved this book and it was one my husband and I didn’t mind reading over and over. In fact, we memorized it. So when I decided the book must come out for the birthday party and I must create a cake to reflect the spirit of the book, I went looking for it on our shelves.

I like keeping some of my children’s childhood books for a couple reasons: one is sometimes a memory will get sparked and they’ll go looking for the book, the other reason is writing children’s books is one of my personal interests. I did have my kids sort out their childhood books several years ago, saving only their absolute favorites, which whittled the collection down to one shelf. It’s a long shelf, so we are not wanting for children’s books. Surely, the B Book would be on the shelf.

Alas, no B Book. I’m not sure if my kids got rid of it or if it inadvertently ended up in the give-away pile, but it was nowhere to be found. I checked Amazon; it’s out of print and I didn’t have time to wait for it to be shipped.

Desperate to find it so I could create an authentic cake, I went online to Finally Found Books, the used book store in Black Diamond. They didn’t have it cataloged on their website. On a hunch, I thought they may not catalog their picture books because the owner gives any child who visits the store a free book; so I drove out there.

There on their shelf, in all its glory, was “Berenstain’s B Book!” I was so elated I stood in front of the owner and read him the book. He probably thought I was crazy, but there were no other customers in the shop, so I had no one else to scare off. It’s pitiful how happy finding that book made me; apparently, I don’t get out enough.

I’m not a cake artist by any stretch of the imagination, so I scanned and printed the picture of the Big Brown Bear, Blue Bull and Beautiful Baboon blowing bubbles biking backward, cut it out, attached it to heavy paper and put it on a stick. I made three 9x9 cakes, frosted them together in one long sheet cake and stuck the bicycling animals in it. Then I created little cars out of fun sized candy bars, gummy wheels, and an M&M steering wheel with Teddy Grahams driving and put them on the cake.

The cars the Big Brown Bear’s bicycle had already barged through were tossed around the cake; with the cars about to be run over driving crazily to avoid it. I figured there was nothing my 18-year old would like more than destruction and mayhem on her birthday cake. I was right, she loved it; and even if her friends didn’t understand the idea of the cake, it was fitting that we paid homage to a bit of her childhood on her 18th birthday.

I’ve always theorized that as long as the cake is awesome, the party will be too.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to making awesome cakes for her kids’ birthday parties. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.


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