So I had this super-fun idea for my birthday party: a cupcake bar! I’d make three different cupcakes, a half batch of three different frostings, some fun decorations, and let all the guests make a couple of fun cupcakes to frost, decorate and take home with them.
Four batches and four hours later (including shopping time), I had a very nice batch of 12 gluten-free carrot cake cupcakes.
I also had these:and two batches of these, the first of which became a literal bowl of crumbs when I attempted to remove it from the pan:I know I didn’t forget the leavener, and the vanilla ones weren’t gluten-free, so my hypothesis is that my baking soda’s too old.
It’s fairly easy for me to get discouraged by hiccups, and three out of four batches of cupcakes turning concave is, I think, a pretty irritating hiccup. Especially considering that I spent a pretty good chunk of time and money preparing for the party.
But you know what?
It was okay.
I thought of a student I tutored as an undergraduate writing consultant. To this day, the essay she wrote has stuck with me. The author had worked for a number of years as a caterer, and recounted an absolute fiasco of a wedding. The bride and groom had spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a wedding at a castle–yes, a castle in the Kansas City metro area–only to have the bride discover she was unable to fit into her shoes. (Why you wouldn’t try on your shoes before your wedding, I have no idea.) The author recounted that the bride was so crabby and embarrassed to have to descend the grand staircase in flipflops that the whole wedding turned out to be a really awkward and miserable affair.
The author of the essay made a wise observation. Weddings are not about shoes. They’re not about castles, or how much money you spend on the catering, or how many guests you can invite, or how fancy your dress is. They’re about bringing people together to celebrate love. And if that’s what you’re focused on, the few hiccups which inevitably come up in life aren’t going to ruin the day.
I spent much of the day before my party decorating the apartment, cleaning, and assembling noms. I got a bouquet of roses and an unfamiliar purple flower at Trader Joe’s (at Trader Joe’s prices, of course!).I also hung up this blanket I found when I was sorting out old stuff from the YMCA lost & found.Because I think 24 is definitely not too old to be a princess. ?
And since today’s Wednesday, here’s what I snacked on while I was making cupcakes and setting up the apartment:
When my cupcakes fell, so did my heart. (Yes, that was exceedingly cheesy.) I was running out of time before the party. I said to my sweetheart, “Can we just cancel the party and hang out?” (I was mostly kidding.)
But he said, “No. People are still really going to enjoy the party.”
And he was right.
For food, I got a large meat and cheese tray and a few loaves of TJ’s artisan bread. I made a fruit and veggie tray with bacon cheddar ranch dip (purchased, not homemade, unfortunately) and also picked up some raspberry lemonade and limeade–my parties are real ragers, guys. My sweetheart made lots of latkes, and a couple of friends brought snacks! There was plenty of food to go around. Friends from both my creative nonfiction program and swing dance came. We played fishbowl and telestrations, two of my favorite party games. I got to talk one-on-one with almost everyone who came, and a few times, I laughed so hard my ribs hurt.
And dessert was fine. Since I had picked up some fun cupcake toppings anyway–nuts, mini chocolate chips, raspberries, and colored sugar–I turned my cupcake bar into an ice cream sundae bar. There were still the carrot cake cupcakes that turned out just fine, plus I went ahead and served the concave cupcakes. I called them cake cups! People scooped their ice cream into them. I was discouraged by my cupcake baking hiccup. It was a pretty big hiccup. And sometimes the big hiccups even hurt.
But they don’t last long. And they rarely if ever hurt us in ways that last. I still got to spend a lovely birthday with awesome friends–which is what birthday parties are really about, after all.