Post 18 – Birthday

Yesterday I turned… one year older (you can’t just tell the whole internet your age!) and I can feel it. No my bones aren’t aching nor my knees giving out. I feel it in the sense that time is sprinting right by me. I feel it in the sense that I should be living for what I love and seizing opportunities. Time really does disappear too fast.

I remember waiting with my sisters on Christmas morning until we were allowed to wake up our parents to open presents. We’d look at the clock. 2 minutes gone by. We’d play some cards, look at the clock again. 5 minutes gone by.

Five minutes is FOREVER, we thought.

Now a week disappears in a blink and “wasn’t it just last Tuesday?” becomes a phrase in my life connecting all similar moments as if in one long string. Every Tuesday is just a continuation of the previous Tuesdays, as if no time passed in between. Like a movie reel the tape just keeps on rolling. Wasn’t I just having a birthday like a year ago? (Uh yeah, you were.) But somehow it didn’t seem like that long ago.

I have to admit that I wasted much of my birthday being grumpy. The weather in Boston was un- May-like -ly (how’s that for a made-up word?) cold and drizzly and I was supposed to be packing and measuring our new apartment and a couch to see if it fit. Birthdays are supposed to be for fun, I grumbled to myself, not for responsibility.

As I get older I realize more and more that birthdays are for taking action (instead of making wishes) and for counting the lucky stars in your life that are there to celebrate with you and to tell you to shape up when you get grumpy on your own birthday (thanks. You know who you are).

Speaking of lucky stars, my number one lucky star made me a surprise breakfast this morning (photo credit to him): hash browns, pancakes, and bacon.

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And I am ever so grateful for my wonderful friends who got me a beautiful Chocolate Mousse Decadence cake and celebrated with me over a delicious dinner at the Elephant Walk! To the credit of my friends, the day did start and end well, but I realized too late in my grump-slump that I needed to change my own attitude.

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Having a birthday is a reason to celebrate, but also a chance to reflect. If a year can go by this fast, just imagine the next year and the next. What do you want to be doing? When you look back in five years, where do you want to be? (I know, I know, I used to hate this question too and I don’t like spouting cliche phrases) but I have to remind myself ALL THE TIME – do what you love and do it now. I highly recommend this book for reflecting on this in detail.

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Oh ok, you want a recipe. Well in honor of birthdays, here are two for my favorite chocolate frostings.

WARNING: the first one is very buttery and sweet and rich and delicious and it takes a bit of time to make, but the second one is also delicious and much simpler to whip up.

Happy Birthday to me! (or to you if you’re reading this on your own birthday). Make it a day of gratitude.

 

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

from The Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghiradelli’s 70%)

½ cup half-and-half

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

Place a large bowl in the sink and fill with ice about half way. Make sure it is bigger than the saucepan you are going to use in the next step.

In a saucepan (see previous step) pour chocolate chips, half-and-half, and butter and melt over medium heat. Stir constantly until it melts and the mixtures thickens, about 5 minutes. Do not let boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth. Remove the pan to the bowl of ice in the sink. Be careful not to allow any water into your pan of chocolate or it will be ruined. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer on low speed until the frosting thickens and is satiny, about 5 minutes. (I did it once by hand and it doesn’t get as smooth, plus you get tired.)

Use as desired for cupcakes or cake of your choice. The frosting will stiffen up as it sets. If it gets too hard to spread, place the saucepan back over low heat for a few minutes.

 

Chocolate Buttercream

adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook

1/3 cup butter, room temperature

½ cup cocoa powder

4 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2-4 T. milk, depending on consistency desired

Beat softened butter with an electric mixer, Kitchenaid, or by hand. Beat in cocoa powder. Slowly add powdered sugar, vanilla, and a bit of milk. Add as much sugar and milk as needed to reach the right consistency and taste. (To be honest, I don’t usually measure the ingredients for this these days).

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