Day 11: Party time

Today we celebrated my daughter’s 14th birthday. The company was excellent: grownups chatted and kids raced all over outside and in, playing capture the flag and half a dozen other things. The coffee cake turned out delicious. And the game of Signs at the tail end of the party was fun to watch as well.

The party began at 6:30, with games lasting til midnight. A couple of cousins are sleeping over and will be here til noon tomorrow. Good fun! Our girl was well pleased with her day.

With birthdays 10 months out of the year, we have plenty of parties at our house. Over the years our celebration style has evolved into something that works well for our family, and honors the birthday person without breaking the bank. Most of the time we have an evening party at our house, and invite aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, along with maybe a friend or two. We have a big family, so that means there are often 30 people or so. There’s no doubt there’s a party going on.

We have the usual fixings: cake and ice cream and drinks. The cake is homemade, and drinks are koolaid, tea and coffee. Younger kids sometimes have a pinata. Sometimes a friend or cousin will spend the night. Rarely will I plan games. The kids enjoy them at other kids’ parties, but I just don’t get around to planning them at our parties, and our kids always seem to find plenty to do on their own.


Breakfast: Oatmeal with sugar, butter, and a sprinkling of cocoa powder, plus toast and OJ.

Lunch: Chard, Chickpeas and Chicken (similar recipe here, except I used different beans, chicken breasts instead of chorizo, and fresh tomatoes instead of canned sauce.) We also had apples, and pumpkin pie for dessert. The crust was sturdy, but the pie was still delicious!

Dinner: Melt in Your Mouth Pork Carnitas (Family Feasts p. 147). I bought a big pork roast awhile back for 69 cents/lb. I cubed it and cooked it most of the day, then served it fajita-style with flour tortillas and stir-fried onions and peppers. I didn’t have sour cream so I substituted plain yogurt which worked great. It was a yummy, easy meal, and a huge amount of meat for about $5. We fed 11 people generously, and had enough leftover that we could have fed 4 or 5 more.


  1. Your children are beautiful! Happy birthday to your daughter! And the party sounds like a good, loud blast! 🙂

  2. Ahhhh! Happy birthday to her!! My girls just love her. That picture you have in your post of her showing off bracelets is just gorgeous! What a lovely smile. 🙂

  3. What great pictures. She is stunningly beautiful.

    I have three copies of your Family Feasts book sitting here next to my computer. Two for my best friends’ birthday presents and one for me! Can’t wait to read it!

  4. What a wonderful family. Your daughter looks so happy. I love the one of her with her jewelry.

  5. Biz is too stinkin’ cute in that first picture! The the birthday girl…. 🙂 I love it. Give her a hug from me please! Did my kiddos make it to the party?

  6. good and practical ideas for a big crowd – your daughters have smiles to steal someone’s heart!

  7. She is such a beautiful young lady. Happy Birthday to her!

  8. Wow, happy birthday to your gorgeous girl. These photos really capture how beautiful your children are, great job.
    One question, my son is only 15 months so this is something I worry about for the future, but how on earth do you serve kool-aid at a party? Do you worry about stains? I made my husband stop drinking crystal light because it stains so bad when it spills. Am I just awful? I think kool-aid is such a great deal (10 cents a packet at my store the other day) but worry about the mess. Thanks! Charlie

  9. I’ve enjoyed this months posts! I am so curious how large families deal with picky eaters. Some of your recipes look so great but I know of one or two of my sweet ones will refuse to eat (perhaps the husband as well. How do you train them to eat what you fix? : )

  10. Charlie- Yeah, koolaid is hazardous….we have dark carpet though, and with 10 kids it is not pristine. 🙂 I ask kids to sit while drinking, and usually I choose lemonaid koolaid, which is very light yellow– not too staining.