Balloon Kites

We always have just a little helium left in a tank after blowing up balloons for parties. Take advantage of the chance to inflate a few extra balloons and make your kids these quick “kites”!

To decorate, simply tie a few streamers to the tail of each balloon. Veronika chose green!

There’s a balancing act here, because if the streamers add too much weight, the balloon won’t fly any more.

Trim the streamers until the weight is right so that the balloon floats up, but not all the way to the ceiling. Pretty soon Veronika’s perfect kite caught the wind.

Note: In case kids do let go of the string, I recommend playing this game indoors to avoid helium balloons that pose a hazard to wildlife.

Seventh Birthday Party: Ninjago Lego

It has been all things Ninjago in our house this year, so it was a no-brainer when it came time to plan Travis’s seventh birthday: Ninjago it was!

As always, a party starts with the invitation, and this year we went with a homemade card. Cut an upside-down kidney bean shape from the front of green envelopes, then insert a yellow index card to cover the opening, taping to secure on the inside. Draw the trademark Ninjago eyes with a sharpie for an instant ninja face!

I then inserted an additional yellow index card into each envelope with the party deets. Thanks to for the idea!

The birthday boy sported a Ninjago t-shirt of course.

For decoration, we turned our living room into Master Wu’s dojo. I ordered plain red pillowcases which slipped over pillows in our house for seating, and arranged these around a low coffee table. Red lanterns on the ceiling, red streamers, and red and black balloons added pops of color to the room (all from Oriental Trading).

Travis has an army’s worth of Lego Ninjago figures, which easily became decor arranged around the room.

Ninja plates, cups, and napkins came from Amazon. For food, fill clear mini Chinese takeout containers (also Oriental Trading) with green jelly beans to look like edamame!

I then added a few lollipops into each container. If you have time, you can draw the Ninjago face mask on the lollipop wrappers, too, to mimic the invitations, although I skipped that step. We rounded out the party noshes with pretzel rod “nunchucks”, cantaloupe “throwing stars”, and slices of pizza (both vegan and dairy). Use extra takeout containers as the holders for plastic forks and spoons.

Don’t forget the perfect drink for your little ninjas: fruit punch. The homemade sprinkle party cake featured a marzipan Ninjago face mask.

The guests arrived and it was time to let the activities begin! The first test for the aspiring ninjas was a round of Fortune Cookie Toss. Tape large Chinese takeout containers in a vertical row and label each for 5, 10, or 15 points. Take aim with fortune cookies!

Inside, the ninjas tackled a laser maze (to set up, simply run black yarn through a room in your house, or an area outside, until it forms a tricky web). Then each ninja was presented with an inflatable sword for target practice against half-deflated helium balloons. (Hint: fill them the night before and they’ll be perfectly hovering by party time).

Time for a round of Ninjago bingo! The kids used their jelly bean “edamame” as playing pieces on a template I found online.

The capstone of the party was watching The Lego Ninjago Movie on a projector screen.

I also provided a quieter art activity, where guests could draw themselves as a Ninja. Foam picture frames (Oriental Trading) made this the perfect keepsake to take home.

Goodie bags repeated the face mask cutout from the invitations, this time with a yellow index card taped inside red bags. Each ninja received: a ninja rubber duckie, throwing star erases, extra fortune cookies and lollipops, and a mini beach bucket, that last one because it’s summer after all!

Sprinkle Party Cake

Sprinkle Cake (2)

This cake is adapted from one of Molly Yeh’s recipes and her ingenious idea to use marzipan for cake “stickers”,  which lets you transform a regular cake into a Ninjago party cake! I found that the rainbow sprinkles from Whole Foods worked perfectly, without the colors bleeding.

Sprinkle Cake (1)


  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks Earth Balance butter (1 cup)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 Ener-G eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup plain almond milk
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 (7-ounce) tube marzipan
  • Food coloring
  • Powdered sugar
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy.
  3. Add the Ener-G eggs, followed by the canola oil, vanilla, and almond extract, beating for an additional 2 minutes or so.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and almond milk, beating at low speed after each addition. Gently fold in the sprinkles.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once cool, frost with the vanilla frosting of choice, whether homemade or store-bought.
  7. To prepare the “sticker”, separate out a portion of marzipan and tint with food coloring for the Ninjago mask of choice. We used blue! Knead until the color is incorporated. Dust a work surface with a little powdered sugar and roll out the marzipan. Cut out the shape of an upside-down kidney bean as the mask and place on the cake.
  8. Tint an additional portion of marzipan yellow. Cut out thin slits for eyebrows and two small circles for eyes and place over the mask.

Sprinkle Cake (4)