Happy Happy Birthday

happy birthday banner

I gave my friend a surprise party last week. She turned forty, and I can hardly believe I have a best friend who is forty! That has come up fast. I schemed with another friend, because I knew we’d need to invite a lot of people and I was not about to get my house into shape for a big party. I offered to do all the baking, since I love baking and my co-conspirator does not, and she hosted. We invited eighty people (!) and I baked and baked. I tried to bake my friend’s favorites, so I baked¬†oatmeal coconut chewies, brownies, red velvet cupcakes, and lots of mini muffins. And I made her caramel corn. One of my favorite ways to show someone how I feel is to bake for them. The act of baking is such a gift; it’s a gift of time and of taste. Baked goods are comforting and joyful, and when you take the time to bake someone their favorite, it’s a gift from the heart. Sure, I could have purchased all those treats. Well, I could have purchased something like all those treats; I haven’t seen chewy oatmeal coconut cookies at the grocery store, at least none that are worth eating. But, home baked goods are always the best, and taking the time to give someone the best is the best gift, in my opinion. Plus, to give them their favorites, you really have to know them.

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It was a really busy baking day, but everything turned out really well. Of course, because I baked so much, I brought home a lot. I’ve tried to give it away, but I’ve really loved eating it on my own, too. Of course, it makes me feel guilty…but I love it.

I’m most proud of the cupcakes. I used a piping bag and didn’t know if it would work, but it did. I’ve never been good at decorating baked goods, as illustrated here. But these were beautiful. They gave me hope. Not only were they beautiful, but they were one of my friend’s favorite treats. I made her a red velvet sheet cake last year for her birthday. She loves red velvet cake but she never makes it.

red velvet cupcakes

The recipe is from another good friend, but mine weren’t nearly as good as hers. I’m not sure why; they weren’t quite as round on top, and they weren’t as tart. I need to practice, obviously. I think when I make them in the future, I’ll leave out the food coloring. I don’t like using food coloring, it seems so artificial and so many things are linked to the negative effects of food coloring. I don’t know if those claims are true, that they cause ADHD, or cancer, but why risk it? We don’t need red cupcakes; they’ll taste just the same whether they are brown or red. I used red food coloring for my friend’s, of course.

Because they were for her. And red velvet cake isn’t really red velvet cake if it isn’t red.

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