It’s hard to believe my baby sister Brie is twenty-three today.
No one likes working on her birthday. Especially when most people have the day off. But my boss is infamous for not closing the office on federal holidays (Columbus Day, MLK Day, President’s Day…the list goes on), so I just had to deal.
Still, I had a good birthday. I’m thankful for the amazing people in my life. Here’s to hoping twenty-six is as great as twenty-five was!
in two hours, you turn twenty-six
(four years from thirty, not that you’re counting).
when your mother points out the “flaws” in your figure,
(breasts that can’t be contained by button-up shirts
& hips that never widened during puberty)
laugh & remember that
her spitefulness is only rivaled by her jealousy.
when you trip in front of the crowd
on the train platform & feel twelve again
(the era of an almost mullet & headgear)
look in the mirror & remember that
you’re not an awkward tween.
when a former party friend suggests
that falling in love rendered you weak,
(being the instigator of wild times
was the mark of a badass)
roll your eyes & remember that
you found strength in accepting yourself.
you are (permanently) a work in progress.
Three birthdays ago, Andrea, Shaina, and the Wolf Pack celebrated my twenty-third birthday with me in Atlanta. We stayed in a hotel in Buckhead (down the street from my office, where I didn’t work at the time). After dinner, we went clubbing in midtown.
The night ended with us ordering an obscene amount of food from a diner that didn’t deliver. We were too drunk to go pick up our order & passed out. The next morning, we woke up to several messages letting us know that our food was ready.
There are sixteen days until I turn twenty-six. Twenty-five was an awesome year. I’m hoping that twenty-six is even better. I’m not one to panic about getting older. Like a good scotch, I get better with age.
I had lunch with Raf today. Though we hung out last weekend, we wanted to have either lunch or dinner before my trip. He and Brie were the only ones in attendance at our mother’s birthday dinner last night (which I didn’t attend because of this bullshit).
“Y’know, Mom would never tell you this, but Brie set aside pad Thai for you last night.”
“She did?” My voice cracked.
“Yeah. Brie thought you were coming to dinner, so she wanted to make sure you had a plate.”
I couldn’t help it. My eyes welled up.
“Whoa, sis — didn’t meant to make you get all emotional before going back to work.”
“I just love you two a lot. I wish I could’ve seen Brie this past weekend, but — ”
“I know. Dad was there. I get why you wouldn’t wanna see him after everything he said.”
“I’ll be there while Mom is in Philly, once I get back.”
Our parents are wrong. Brie knows I haven’t left her. She hates being around our parents as much as I do because of their erratic, explosive behavior. When I get back from Asia, Brie and I will have sister bonding time (since Raf usually works on weekends). Our parents won’t prevent me from seeing two of my favorite people.
It’s Ames‘s birthday today! Usually, we celebrate with cupcakes and wine. This year, we celebrated early (on Sunday) with Mexican food and sangritas.
Ames is lactose intolerant, so two years ago, I made a vegan version of one of her favorites — red velvet cupcakes with faux cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes are somehow both dense and fluffy. Be sure to refrigerate your frosting, though, so it won’t melt (as mine started to do).
Vegan red velvet cupcakes with faux cream cheese frosting
Adapted from this Novel Eats recipe
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Baking time: 18-20 minutes
Cooling time: 5-10 minutes
Makes one dozen cupcakes
Ingredients & supplies:
- paper cupcake liners
- 1 dozen cupcakes tin
- medium mixing bowl
- large mixing bowl
- 1 cup plain soy milk (or Lactaid)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup applesauce (or canola oil)
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- wire rack for cooling
- small mixing bowl
- good spatula
- 1/4 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks)
- 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti better than cream cheese)
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners in cupcake tin.
- In medium bowl, whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle.
- In large bowl, sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix with whisk.
- Add applesauce, food coloring, and vanilla extract to medium bowl with curdled soy milk. Whisk until combined.
- Slowly, pour wet ingredients into large bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Do not over mix.
- Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (so when toothpick is inserted, it comes out clean).
- As cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. Cream together Earth balance margarine and Tofutti better than cream cheese, then add powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments. Add vanilla extract. Refrigerate while cupcakes are baking.
- Transfer cupcakes to wire rack for cooling. After cupcakes have completely cooled (5 to 10 minutes), frost with faux cream cheese frosting and enjoy!
Three years ago, Brie and I went to Kroger to get ingredients for her 19th birthday cupcakes.
“Brie, what kind of cupcakes do you want to make?”
Brie surveyed the candy aisle and grabbed a couple of boxes. “Junior Mint!”
“That sounds good. Cream cheese frosting?”
“Yeah! And sprinkles!”
I used my favorite chocolate cupcakes recipe and added the Junior Mints. While the cupcakes were baking, I made my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe.
Junior Mint cupcakes with cream cheese frosting & sprinkles
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s chocolate cupcake recipe & Food Network’s cream cheese frosting recipe
Makes a dozen cupcakes (I usually have a few extra, as I like to make smaller cupcakes)
Prep time: 25-30 minutes
Baking time: 20-25 minutes
Cooling time: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients & supplies
Cream cheese frosting:
- Large mixing bowl
- 1 stick of butter, softened at room temperature
- 4 ounces of cream cheese
- 2 cups confectionary sugar
- 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese.
- Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract.
- Muffin tin that holds a dozen regular-sized cupcakes
- Medium bowl
- Large mixing bowl
- 12-16 paper cupcake liners
- Wire rack for cooling
- 3/4 cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 4 oz. boxes of Junior Mints
- 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put paper cupcake liners in tin.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with spatula until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream. Fold in Junior Mints.
- Pour batter into cupcake liners until it’s halfway to 3/4 full (depending on how big you want your cupcakes to be). Brie likes little cupcakes with a ton of frosting, which is why I make mine smaller.
- Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool in tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Cool for 10-15 more minutes.
- Frost with cream cheese frosting and top with sprinkles. Enjoy!