Today’s my birthday!
Funny how even as one entering her mid-thirties (so says Little Buddha, when in fact, I still round down to 30. He’ll say the same thing in 11 months), I still feel like my birthday is a special day. Sure, work goes on, the world revolves and cake still equals calories, but for some reason, I feel like I glow just a little extra every August 14th.
Maybe it’s the Leo in me. So would say Tomato.
Last night as I crawled into bed, I felt that little kid glee as I turned off my alarm for the morning, knowing that I wasn’t getting up for work today* (this is the first time I’m taking my birthday off, and I’m thinking it needs to be an every year thing…). I was already excited for my cake for breakfast and the day- of- the- most- fun with Mom, who would be rolling into town around noon. Light lunch, pedicures, maybe a little shopping, swanky cocktails on a rooftop followed by a delicious dinner. Ice cream to cap it all off.
*Of course it’s the day that I don’t have to get up for work I woke up with springs on at 7. Fail.
Rather than New Years, birthdays are when I really tend to go look back on reflect on the past 365. They fly by so fast that sometimes it’s easy for years to pass without taking an inventory.
Most of this year, from I’d say about August until March, I fought some health problems that seemed to put a big black cloud over everything else. I have PCOS. Did I ever tell you that? Well, I do. It sucks. A lot. But, finally, after years of trying seemingly every treatment, both conventional and not, known to both Western and Eastern medicine, I finally have it kinda sorta under control. Once that annoying cloud was lifted, the rest of my life started to come a bit more into focus. And it hasn’t been too shabby.
I feel like I’m only getting better at this blogging thing. Still a ways to go, but a gazillion miles away from where I started. I joined a few blogger and meal sharing groups and made some new friends, and new friends can only make life better, in my experience. But maybe I’ve just been that lucky.
I stayed pretty local with the vacations this year. No international jaunts on the August 2014-2015 clock, but that means I actually took vacations that were relaxing. Like, poolside with a drink. No mountain climbing with diarrhea. Imagine that.
Despite my relapse the past few months (whoops), most of 2014 was spent taking care of myself. Maybe it’s because for so much of it I felt so horrible, but I actually said No to things. I gave myself nights in and didn’t feel guilty about it. Not one bit. That’s progress.
And finally, this past year, I’ve really felt my dad hanging around. He’s been gone almost five years, but for some reason he’s been on my mind more lately. Not in a creepy haunting way, but almost as an angel on my shoulder, and with that has come some comfort and some peace and excitement at the idea that he’s guiding only good things my way. Like a crossing guard angel. At least I like to think so. Anyway, a happy presence, and hopefully happy things to come for year 34.
Speaking of other happy things, how about some cake? I think we can all celebrate that.
Despite a recipe book stuffed with various cake recipes, whenever I really have my pick, I can’t help but gravitate towards the simple: vanilla on vanilla, or chocolate on vanilla. Those are really my faves. Sure, carrot’s fine. Coconut, sure. And who doesn’t like a good chocolate on chocolate? But whenever I hit up one of those fancy pants cupcake shops, I always gravitate towards the former two flavors.
P.S. Thanks, Sprinkles, for the birthday cupcake!**
Since many moons ago I shared my recipe for the vanilla on vanilla (filled with lemon) from the Hummingbird Bakery, today I’m going with the chocolate on vanilla. I was going to make cupcakes, but laziness won the day. Should you want to make this recipe into cupcakes, it’ll probably make around 18.
As for the frosting, I like mine a little more light and whipped than dark and fudge. If you prefer the latter, add about 1 cup less powdered sugar.
Do as you want. It’ll be your birthday, too, one day.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- pinch salt
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 6 TB butter, room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- In a large mixer bowl, add the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and salt. Mix together until it is a sandy consistency.
- In a separate liquid measuring cup, add the milk, eggs and vanilla.
- Slowly add the wet to the dry, mixing until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into a 9 x 13 cake pan lined with butter and sugar with parchment.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched and a tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool before frosting.
- Makes about 18 cupcakes
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp coconut extract
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
- 2 TB milk (if necessary, for consistency)
- Chop the chocolate and place it in a microwave safe bowl. Heat until just melted (around 1:30, stirring every 30 seconds) and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and coconut extract and gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, until smooth and creamy.
- Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. Slowly add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Spread over cooled cake.
- For a richer frosting, reduce the confectioner's sugar to 1 cup
**Like birthday presents? Here are some’s where you can score free birthday things (may require email sign-up)!
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