A Perfect Last Birthday Cake (and remembering Lent 2013)

by | May 7, 2013 | Lent, Liturgical Living, Parenting, Parties | 8 comments

Exactly as I had always planned it and in no way because I totally forgot about it, today you get a recap of Lent . . . And there will be prizes.  Extra prizes.  So keep reading.

I had a big list of stuff that I wanted to try doing or not doing for Lent, but the main focus of my Lenten disciplines ended up being making all of our food from scratch and taking more time to visit with other people.  

I had some, but not complete, success with both.  Let’s start with the good news.  Even though I didn’t visit with her as often as I wish I had, I did go over to see our dear neighbor Louise Gantner more than I had been doing before Lent.  The most memorable visit was on her 98th birthday.  The year after we moved in, Jack asked if we could make a birthday cake for her and insisted that we put every one of the 94 candles she deserved on there.  It was quite a sight.  And we’ve made her a cake for her birthday in March every year since then.  (Although we haven’t always put all the candles on!)

So this year Betty and I made a lovely little ombre cake for her (thanks to Pinstrosity for teaching us what not to do!) and the big kids and I went over during naptime to bring it to her.  I figured that especially since she hadn’t been feeling very well since she had been hospitalized over Christmas that it would be a quick in and out visit, we’d sing, we’d eat, we’d go.  But that’s not what happened.  

Mrs. Gantner was there by herself when we arrived (with her hair in curlers).  And she insisted on putting on some water for tea and inviting us to sit down in the sunroom.  So that’s what we did.  Eventually, as we sat reminiscing, the little kids woke up from naps and my parents (who were visiting us for the weekend) wandered over with them to see what we were up to, and the husband finished up what he was working on, and did the same, and Mrs. Gantner’s daughter Katie came back, and all of a sudden it was a real no kidding surprise party.  

We were all there laughing and telling stories and drinking tea and “citrus” soda and the kids were singing their songs and reciting their poems.  Eventually, we did sing happy birthday and eat the cake.  And then Mrs. Gantner asked us to all hold hands and she lead us in a prayer and told us all how much she loved us and what we all meant to her.  It was an extraordinary afternoon.  And one of the best birthday parties I’ve ever attended. . . .

Especially when I consider that Mrs. Gantner died just a couple of weeks later, while we were away in Italy.

So how’s that for a Lenten discipline being its own reward?  

Here’s the 2011 version of the cake!

Everything else pales in comparison, of course, but I did feel like the whole family benefitted from the make-everything-from-scratch policy.  It was (mostly) cheaper and (usually) yummier than store-bought food and I liked that it required advance planning from me.  I couldn’t just open up a can of beans. I had to think about it the night before and start them soaking.  I couldn’t just open up a box of cereal in the morning, I had to plan on one night during the week to make granola so we’d have something quick on days there wasn’t time for eggs or oatmeal.  I just had to become a more thoughtful homemaker.  I thought it was good for me.  I felt this connection with mothers of bygone eras who had had to prepare for their families with the same foresight.  I had every intention of keeping it up.

Here we are with Mrs. Gantner

Then I turned up in a family way again, and headed straight for the frozen food section of Trader Joes.  Because my morning sickness is all day but mostly in the afternoon and it is not helped by the smell of a crockpot full of beans.  But at least now I know I CAN do it.  And hopefully someday, I will again.  

Oh, I am still making granola though.  It doesn’t have a particularly strong smell, and I bought a bunch of bulk wheat germ and oat bran and whatnot on amazon, so I’m kinda stuck with it.

And now for the prizes part!  Frankie and Adam couldn’t choose just one family to win the prize, so Monica of Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families has offered the project download of your choice to the following winners of our 2013 Lent Challenge.

  1. Pinulotta of Catholic Homeschooling Joy
  2. Chris of Campfires and Cleats
  3. Melanie of Joy of Nine9
  4. Valerie of Hand-Maid With Love
  5. Charlotte of Faith-Filled Freebies
  6. And Abby S. who knows who she is (and so do I!)

So if you won, head over to her website and check out all the great Craft Kit Printables she has available.  She’s got choices ranging from Converted to Catholic games like Bingo, Plinko and Jenga to missals, prayer books, and kid-friendly catechisms.  You can contact her at Monica@ArmaDei.com.  And if you didn’t win, go check it out anyway, you just might find something your family can’t live without!


  1. Chris

    How exciting, Kendra!
    Thank you for announcing this!! And thanks so much for the huge win…I am thrilled and will head over to Monica's now to writer her!

    I'll blog about this tonight/tomorrow and inc the list of winners too…I am so excited; I can't tell you!

    Great pics here today! Lovde bday cakes….bday cakes/themed parties are a hobby of mine. My son's 13th was Fri night ( party, that is…his real bday is next week) I'm behind in blogging the party, but I'll get there…..this one was a simple, no "theme" cake…just chocolate on chocolate.
    Mrs Gantner is lucky to have you…and you, her…what a great surprise party.
    I hope you behind feeling better! My morning sickness always lasted all day too and until the 7th month….that it was smooth sailing for the next 6 weeks until L and D! Ha.

    Thanks for a great post and have a lovely day!

  2. Erica Saint

    I am sorry that you lost your friend and neighbor, but what wonderful memories you and your family have of your time spent with her.

  3. Anonymous

    I am honoured-thank-you

  4. Nanacamille

    The birthday party for Louise was one of the best memories I have of doing something nice for someone. It was truly a special afternoon that we all enjoyed especially the "Birthday Girl". God bless her and I know she is smiling down on us from heaven as she was a special lady.

  5. Abby S.

    As if getting to read a great blog isn't reward enough! Thanks!

  6. Hand-Maid With Love

    Oh my! What a wonderful surprise! One thousand Thank yous!!! and thank you to Frankie & Adam (and Monica)!!!

    And what a CAKE and BEAUTIFUL touching story. You are both blessed to have been neighbors…

    I, too, had morning sickness all day; hoping you are feeling better real soon!
    God's grace to your days…

  7. Shauna

    Oh, that is so wonderful that you got to be with your neighbor for her last birthday! The cake looked beautiful and so delicious!

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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