Bluebird skies, the last day of school and birthday cake!

There is nothing quite as energizing as waking up to a bluebird day – when the skies are perfectly blue and the clouds have seemed to take the day off for a change. Days like this are normal in Colorado – where they get over 300 days per year of sunshine. Here in the highlands of Guatemala, they are less common now during the rainy season (during peak season – from November through April – blue skies are normal from what we hear).

The Volcanos of Lake Atitlán

The Volcanos of Lake Atitlán

Today is a genuine bluebird day in Panajachel, Guatemala. On rainy days we take a taxi (in a tuk-tuk) to school but most days it is nice enough to walk. Today Quinn decided that he wanted to race to school, so we both got our heart rates up as we ran our usual walking route to school.

This photo was from one of the days that Quinn and Jen went to school in a tuk-tuk

This photo was from one of the days that Quinn and Jen went to school in a tuk-tuk

The past week or so has been filled with events at school – a pizza party, two birthday parties, a talent show and an awards ceremony – plus another field trip to the Nature Reserve. Today is graduation for some of the kids at the school and, as it is the last day of the school year, it is a transition time for everyone to the summer break.

Quinn with Miss Cindy and his award for "Most Excited to Come to School"

Quinn with Miss Cindy and his award for “Most Excited to Come to School”

We celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday with lunch at a restaurant on the lake. The weather that day was cloudy by the time we boarded the launcha (small boat) for the ride to the restaurant. While we didn’t get the views that we were hoping for, the food was very good and we had a terrific time.

My birthday was yesterday. We spent some time yesterday reflecting on the past year and all the changes and experiences that we have had since then. It has been a truly amazing year, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but we do miss our family and friends and we do regularly get homesick.

Via the miracle of the Internet (and mostly through Facebook), I have been blessed to receive many birthday wishes. It is difficult for me to put into words just how moving it was to hear from loved ones from all over the globe. The effect was like a warm embrace that filled my heart with joy and love.

The beauty of keeping a blog is that it is an excellent way to keep folks in the loop about what were doing, seeing and experiencing. But the downside is that it tends to be mostly a one-way medium, so it is often difficult to know how those that we care about are really doing. Thus we truly appreciate those special times when we are able to reconnect with those whom we hold dear in our hearts.

Witt & Quinn gave me a delightful day here too. Witt made me a decadent breakfast and then he walked Quinn to school so I could enjoy some valuable alone time (he knows that’s a super gift for an introvert like me). After school we did some more volunteer work at Mayan Families (Witt did most of the work this time) and then Quinn and I returned to our apartment to bake my birthday cake.

Quinn ices the cake

Quinn ices the cake

Quinn actually did most of the work making the cake. While I gathered and measured the ingredients and dealt with the oven, Quinn added the ingredients to the bowl and did all the mixing for both the batter and the icing. He even iced the cake himself – for the first time ever – and decorated the icing with some candies that he had decided to save from one of his school birthday parties.

Quinn puts the candies on the cake

Quinn puts the candies on the cake

After a fun evening out for dinner at a nice restaurant, it was cake time! Witt helped Quinn with the candles – they were very kind and only put 4 candles on top. Quinn helped me blow them out so you can rest assured that every candle was extinguished promptly and efficiently. The cake was excellent!

Quinn proudly shows off his handiwork

Quinn proudly shows off his handiwork

Here is the recipe that we used for our Quinn-friendly (dairy free, egg free and nut free) chocolate cake. Some people might recognize it as a variation of Wacky Cake – it was developed when rationing was in effect during the Great Depression. Our good friend, Lorien, first introduced us to this and it is definitely a keeper. We hope that you love it as much as we do!

Chocolate Cake Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In an 8X8 square pan/dish (or in a bowl and then pour into a greased pan), mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a fork, making sure it is really blended together. Add the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar, and again, mix together so that it’s really blended together. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.

Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes (~15 minutes for cupcakes), or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on a rack completely (2 hours) before icing.

    Cake Ingredients

1-1/4 cups flour
1-cup sugar
1/3-cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-cup warm water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3-cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. distilled white or apple cider vinegar

    Chocolate Icing

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp. margarine (we use Earth Balance vegan margarine)
2 tbsp. milk (we use soy milk)
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract

5 Responses to 'Bluebird skies, the last day of school and birthday cake!'

  1. Kirk says:

    Thanks. I’ve been needing a milk free cake option.

  2. Alexis says:

    Happy Birthday, Jen! So glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  3. Bobbie staggs says:

    Congratulations to Quinn for making such a beautiful cake! Such cute pictures of him! And Happy Birthday Jen. I know you all are having a wonderful experience.