Cupcakes and Pipe Dreams

I had simple visions of my daughter’s second birthday. A small gathering of friends, a song, some bubbly and cupcakes, hugs, and bedtime. What instead happened was a mysterious chickenpox-like outbreak on the kiddo’s legs, a trip to the doctor, and a day home from daycare. Not to worry, we’re getting through it, and made the best of a day cooped up in the house. However, I still have cupcake envy.

Had I had the afternoon to do it, I would have loved to make cupcakes like this:

Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle

Samoa from Trophy Cupcakes

Or this:

Cupcake Royale in Seattle

Triple Threat from Cupcake Royale

But instead, we went with the box kind. And you know, they don’t taste great, but it was fun to make together. I’d love to whip together my own organic, hand-picked, single origin, roasted-chocolate-salted-tamarind-pink-peppercorn-caramel whatever, but who am I kidding?

Toddlers can help cook

Boxed stuff: easy mixin’

I did make my own frosting. Mmm…butter…
I used this recipe from Martha Stewart. I halved the recipe for one box-worth of cupcakes, but kept the full amount of vanilla. I added in food coloring to get the purple color. And voila!

Chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream

Fake it ’til ya make it.

Frozen vanilla buttercream frosting

Genius idea for leftover frosting: freeze it!

I did have a moment of redemption. I had a little frosting leftover in the piping bag, and figured, why waste it? So I lined a little tray with parchment paper and piped small florets. I have to say, the ones with the chocolate chip on top were the perfect treat! I mean, it looks less pathetic popping these in your mouth than scooping spoonfuls of frosting, right? Right?

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. We had a nice little celebration and will get together with friends once the threat of contagion has lifted. Happy birthday, kiddo!

2nd birthday cupcake

Happy birthday!

Gingerbread House Party Guide

It’s sadly belated, but I’m finally posting my guide to hosting a successful gingerbread house party for grownups.

As I mentioned in this post, I revived my mother’s holiday tradition of hosting gingerbread house decorating parties for me and my friends by creating a grownups-only version 5 years ago. I don’t know if it’s the nostalgia, the tradition, or the few uninterrupted ┬áhours of just-for-fun crafting and hanging out with friends that makes it something I look forward to every year.

2008 Gingerbread houses

First party: A friend and I pre-made all 16 houses and guests decorated. I’m never doing that again.

There’s quite a bit of prep, however, so I figured I’d share my tips and tricks with you in case YOU lovely readers decide to someday host your own version of this party. Now that I have 5 parties under my belt, I’ve got it down to a pretty efficient science. Continue reading

Fruit Stand. Sit. Stay.

On our way back to Seattle from Yakima, we stopped at one of the many fruit stands dotting the Highway 82 landscape.

This one boasted “Fruit Antiques”. Well, probably Fruit AND Antiques, but I don’t think the sign painter had the room. Anyway, it was a good stopping point, so we headed in. They did not disappoint. The fruit was fresh, the antiques old, and the wines local. I snapped a few pics around the lot. Enjoy!

Committed Fruit Pears, peaches, and apples are in season! Continue reading

Goldilocks and the Three Bowls

One of the constant battles in our marriage is how to fit dishes into the dishwasher.

Seriously, this is a topic of discussion nearly every other day. Do we need to get a life? Maybe.

Continue reading

Toc-Tic Toc-Tic: A Backward Timer Would Do the Trick

I thought I had a million dollar idea, but with a quick little search, I found it already exists (dang!): a kitchen timer that COUNTS UP after the timer goes off.

Kitchen timer that counts up

A timer that reassures you that your cookies aren’t little carbon nuggets.

Continue reading