The Sarge's 28th Birthday

Many of you know my sweet husband just celebrated a birthday. Unfortunately, it had to be while we were apart. So, of course, a care package was required! I'm sorry for the terrible photos, but they were taken by my cell phone in awful lighting. But you will get the idea.

Sergeant J loves opening presents, so even though MOST of the package was composed of various kinds of candy, I wrapped most of them up in tissue paper. This was a party in a box! I included: 

- Cards from me, our neighbors and his mom
- Cake in a jar (strawberry), complete with icing (cream cheese) and candles (a 2 and an 8)
- Noise makers
- Snacks (some of his favorites)
- A set of military devotional books
- Yes... a Buzz Lightyear toy. That's from our neighbors lol!
- I didn't include it in this one because he had one, but I suggest a camera to capture the party fun!

The cake in a jar was really easy. If you have ever though about doing it, don't hesitate! If you are shipping it, don't add any icing or toppings, just leave them out to the side. Also, the directions say fill it halfway... really ONLY fill it halfway! It will bake up a bit, but the sarge said that when he opened it, it expanded even more. (Weird.)

Here's how to do it.You'll need...

Canning Jars. I used four wide mouthed, 16 oz (pint sized) canning jars and they were the perfect size. This was what Target had, so it's what I used, but I ended up happy about the shape. You could use several smaller sized jars, but the I definitely recommend the wide mouth. I also like the larger size because the process is a tad tedious. 

Boxed cake mix and whatever you need to make it. Don't judge me. I love the strawberry cake! But, I did "make it my own" by upgrading the ingredients. They called for 2 eggs, 1/3 c. of vegetable oil and a cup of water (or something). I used 3 eggs, twice the amount of (real) melted butter (in place of oil), and milk instead of water. The recipe originally appeared (as far as I can tell) on Fabulessly Frugal, from a comment on a post originally posted on Tidy Mom. //Side note: Pinterest is out of control. If you're going to post something, at least TRY to find the actual link. Just sayin'. End side note.//

Non-stick spray. You could use butter to grease the inside of the jars but... it would not be fun. If you don't like to buy the stuff like me, just borrow your neighbors'! I actually bought some because I'm frustrated by never having it. I got the butter flavor and let's be honest... I'll probably throw it away before I finish it. That is, if it ever goes bad. Which it probably doesn't. Whatevs.

A pan or casserole dish strong and steady enough to hold your jars. Mine held all four.

SO. Basically this is what I did. I turned on the oven to preheat, set a big pot of water to boil, and washed and dried the jars and lids. I am not a canner so I just used the biggest pot I had. Then I assembled the cake mix and set it aside.

You'll want to do this next part as quickly as possible, to ensure the jars stay hot. Set out a few layers of paper towels or a clean tea towel and have a few extra paper towels for drying the jars. I used tongs to drop the jars into the boiling water for about 7 or 8 minutes, two at a time (or how ever many your pot will fit). You're supposed to let it get to 180 degrees but I didn't have any way to measure that so I figured 5-8 minutes would do it. Leave it in longer if you're the nervous type. Take out your jars, set them on your tea towel, and drop in the next batch. Dry the sterilized jars quickly (and carefully) holding a paper towel with your tongs. Move them on to your pan or dish and CAREFULLY pour in the batter. Fill the jars about halfway. Repeat as needed. I only needed two batches so it happened quickly. If you need to do more, you may need to bake in batches.

Bake as instructed. I followed the times for cupcakes on the box and checked for doneness with a wooden skewer. It took a few minutes extra. As soon as you take them out of the oven, put the lids on. You'll need to do it while they are hot in order for the jars to seal. Do not add any toppings... just put them in the box. After about 15 minutes, you'll hear the lids pop -- they're sealed! Once they're cool (which will take a few hours) pack them away!

I can't tell you how long they'll last, as the Sarge ate his after about a week. He said it was delicious, and you know there's no cake that's still delicious after a week... so I did something right lol.

So there you have it! Enjoy your cake in a jar. I also think these would make great desserts (unlidded) and they can be decorated to be so cute. Here is a post about nine desserts you can make in a jar. Have fun!

love, me


  1. So cute!! You should send one to me.. lol.. the cake in the jar ;) haha I'm sure he will LOVE it!

  2. That's such a cute idea! You are so crafty!!

  3. Great idea!
    Happy Belated Birthday to Sarge! You 2 are just B-A-B-I-E-S!!!