In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. ~ Khalil Gibran
No man is an island… but I must say that I can live with a few people in an island. Unlike others who have many circles such as best friends, acquaintance friends, office friends, neighborhood friends, party friends, spiritual friends, gossip friends, snobby friends, distant friends, quiet friends, wild friends, co-dependent friends and many more, I only have a few friends. In fact, I can count them using two hands. Yes, two hands! I treasure friendship dearly and value loyalty and dedication so that’s probably why I can’t cope with so many circles. But starting last year, I opened up to meeting new friends because I had lots of spare time. I got to know new friends and I hope that our friendships will bloom and last for a lifetime like what I have now with Karen and Beth.
October was a little bit busy because we organized a Baby Shower Party for Lynn and I threw a surprise Birthday Party for Karen. I got the inspiration from Ina Garten who loves to host and give parties.
Lynn’s Baby Shower was a potluck party. Gazzel brought club sandwiches, Zanne chipped in Spaghetti and fried meatballs while I contributed grilled mushroom and mozzarella cheese wrapped in bacon and red velvet cupcakes. It was unfortunate that Stella couldn’t join us in the celebration. Since I was new in the group, it was my first time to meet Lynn’s whole family. The kids enjoyed running around Lynn’s house and playing Jenga. Alvin had a good chat with Lynn’s husband Andy. It was fun-filled afternoon. I was new to Lynn’s group and I wish that my newfound friendships will fully blossom and last forever.
Organizing Karen’s party was a little bit tricky because I planned it to be a surprise. I arranged for Beth to come with Piety without Karen knowing about it. I made wall and ceiling decors to set a proper birthday mood. I asked Albert to practice a “Happy Birthday” piano piece for him to play. I prepared Cooked Tuna Cake Salad, Grilled Mushroom and Mozzarella Cheese Wrapped in Bacon, Chilli Bacon Aglio e Olio Pasta, Sheperd’s Pie and Red Velvet Cupcakes. Before Karen and her family came, we closed our window blinds and turned off all the lights. When they came, we opened the door and sang the “Happy Birthday” song and let her blow the candles on the cake. Karen was in tears.
Time really flies! Our kids have grown up so fast. But even though they are bigger kids now, they still enjoyed playing hide and seek in our tiny house. They had lots of fun shouting, yelling and laughing. We also had our first family pictures. It was truly a great night with friends and the whole family.
I realized that I want to create good memories with friends and their families because last time I didn’t have time and my mind was always preoccupied with my business. Glad I have the time to collect memories now. I’m so happy.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coatings of pans
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, plus more for coatings of pans
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (optional)
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Crushed pecans, for garnish
- Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 250g cream cheese, chilled
- 227g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring (you and add up to 4 cups)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F).
- Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder and sugar.
- In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or you can use electric mixer), combine oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and orange (zest) then whisk together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and smooth.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins, about 2/3 filled.
- Bake for 30 minutes , then rotate the pans halfway through. Test the cupcakes using a toothpick for doneness. When you insert the toothpick through the center of the cakes, it should come out clean.
- Let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the cooking rack.
- Frost the cake with cheese cream.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer) , combine the cream cheese and butter and beat on medium until blended smoothly.
- Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
- Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
- Add the icing sugar in 2 batches, and beat in low speed until smooth (for each batch). Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip.