Monster Cakes

Let me preface this tale of woe with a question for Pillsbury: do you hate parents? Just wondering.


For a Jewish family with young children in the Midwest, the “holidays” time of year brings a lot of togetherness. Possibly more than a person would actually wish for.

I imagine that Christmas celebrators spend their long weekends and days off from work and school doing Christmas time celebratory stuff — shopping, tree decorating, present wrapping, list making, Christmas movie watching, cookie icing, neighborhood competition lighting, Santa mall line waiting, figgy pudding making, holly hanging.

You get the gist. Clearly, I know about Christmas only from National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation and television advertisements.

So for the four or five of us within the Christmas Society who don’t celebrate it, “the holidays” can be kind of…boring. Especially with little kids.

We have this awesome amount of time off…to sit and stare at one another. Before Christmas, going ANYWHERE is out of the question. Every place is crowded with other people who are also out looking for something to do. And baby, it’s cold outside. Not just a little cold either, but what my mother has diagnosed as “bone chill cold.” (She is not a doctor, but she plays one in real life.)

With a four-year-old and a two-year-old at home, a lot of fun can be made with, say, items we have around the house: junk mail, cardboard boxes, yarn, a pen that no longer writes. There are other favorite games, too, including but not limited to: banging on the piano as loudly as you can to see if the thing is actually breakable or not; the all-time whiniest “I wanted that toy,” game; and the chase-each-other-around-the-house-shrieking-and-with-no-seeming-end game.

All of these activities do end in one of two ways: tears or hunger. It is inevitable. We need distractions.

I came up with Monster Cakes for our Saturday project. I have a cake mold that makes four mountains. We could decorate them to look like monsters and then eat them. I didn’t even find this on Pinterest, can you believe it? (Shhh.) I mean, how can this idea go wrong? (Shhh.)

The girls and I went to the store on Saturday morning and picked out frosting and cake mix.



We came home and made the cake. The girls licked out the bowl, and while we waited for 20 minutes for the cake to bake, they played variations of the above-mentioned assortment of games while intermittently watching Christmas episodes of their favorite PBS shows.

Erma asked me approximately 2,743 times when we could make our monster cakes.

Ben bundled the girls until they looked like little round doughmen and took them outside sledding. This gave me time for the monster cake preparation. Mostly, it gave me time to try to dig the mountains out of the molds.

The girls returned, unpeeled their layers of clothing, all the while shouting things like, “MONSTER CAKES!” and “MOOOONSTER CAKES!” and “MONSTER CAAAAKES!”

I put out the decorations the children had selected at the grocery store that morning.


They had a blast turning their frosted mounds into monsters.


Funfetti. Who’s idea was that? Also known as “rainbow chips.” Also also known as “DO-NOT-DUMP-THAT-ON-THE—-$%#*&%(*%!!”


After the oath reciting had been exhausted, it was time for the next part of monster cakery:


Vacuuming and de-funfetti-ing the larger part of our dining area.


The monster cakes were…monstrous. Before the kids made themselves sick, we gave the finished products to the birds. I am pretty sure birds LOVE Funfetti. A little white doughman told me so.



7 responses to “Monster Cakes

  1. A good time was had by all. 🙂

  2. I always thought that Christmas had to be a tough time for Jewish children. However, now-a-days, there is more secular to Christmas than religious. I wonder if some of those secular ideas can be embraced by the Jewish community without actually embracing the birth of Christ. I mean, a dead tree in the living room has nothing to do with Christianity. Just a thought. Probably a bad one, but still, a thought. HF

    • As I grow older, my avoidance of Christmas is more to do with the corporate/retail aspect of it. It’s a negative in my mind that has grown and grown as the commercials and shopping becomes more, more, more.

      My husband Flathead read me an interesting article from the Jewish newspaper about how corporate Christmas was developed (not that long ago) by Coca-Cola and Montgomery Ward. Jewish men who designed the image we now see of Santa Claus and Rudolph and a lot of the other secular stuff. Interesting to read, but kind of disheartening at the same time.

      • I see now. Yeah, between you and me, I can do without the entire Christmas holiday. I hate “manufactured” joy and “crafted” celebrations. Joyful things should be spontaneous. Thoughtful things should come because you are having thoughts. Frankly, you nailed the boredom idea. I think so many people are bored with day in and day out life that they need these “quick fixes.” Anyway, I just really want people to be decent and understanding with each other and to live lives not of quiet desperation but of quiet contemplation. Too much to ask? Maybe. HF

        • There are certainly many nice ideas behind Christmas and I know that is what a lot of people are celebrating. In our home, we just have our own traditions, because I agree with you completely about quiet contemplation instead of quiet desperation. We always celebrate the autumnal equinox in our house because it is such a wonderful time of year. It’s really fun to “invent” your own holidays and make them meaningful.

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