Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Colorful Cupcakes

About a month ago, my seven-year old Sicily came home from school.

“Mom, we’ve got to do a booth for the school festival – a food booth. It’s in October. Please can we do one? Maybe we can make those Oreo truffles.”

Oh yeah. Those Oreo truffles I got the recipe for about two Christmases ago when I brought them home from a work party and the kids were wildly impressed. I promised them we would make them two years ago. We still haven’t. The school announced its first ever fall festival fundraiser as an experiment to replace their fifty year old Harvest Fest. They asked 25 parents to volunteer to do food booths.

“Maybe your dad will do a food booth.”

Her dad likes to cook a lot more than me, and I imagined him smoking ribs or pork butt with his giant trailer smoker. I was trying to put it off – I had a lot on my plate last month (moving, divorcing) and didn’t want to commit to a booth. A couple of weeks later she still hadn’t gotten her dad to sign on, and she was pretty relentless about it, so I finally agreed and signed up on e-mail. I called the school to ask, “How many food items do we need to make for a booth?”

“Five hundred.”

Jeez. Maybe I should have been paying attention better on parent-teacher night when they were talking about the food booths. They might as well be asking me to fly to the moon for the festival. No wonder the food coordinator was shocked I didn’t want to go in with another parent – most people flying solo were attached to local restaurants, somehow. But since I had already said yes (i.e. promised Sicily), I was determined to make it work. But I’ll be damned if I was going to be the one doing the cooking. I called one of my favorite apheresis nurses – she had just baked me an amazing cake, strawberry with cream cheese icing, for my birthday.

“I don’t do bite-sized concoctions, but I know someone over in North Little Rock who does. I trained with her – she is a dialysis nurse over there. I think she does mini cupcakes and cake balls.”

I called her, and we agreed on a price for five hundred mini cupcakes. She said, “Wow, I’ve never done five hundred! I think I’ve done two or three, but this is my biggest order ever. Since I am off the Thursday before that Saturday, it should work out fine.” I was so excited to tell Sicily about it one afternoon when I picked her up from dance. We discussed it on the way home in the car.

“Mom, we need to think of a really cool name for the booth. Something that rhymes with cupcake.”

My mind started racing through the alphabet. “How about ‘Help Us Eat these Baked Cupcakes?’ Or, ‘No! These Cupcakes Aren’t Fake.” Or, ‘Don’t Throw your Cupcake in the Lake!’ Or, ‘Don’t Eat this Cupcake, I’m Saving It for Jake.’”

She rolled her eyes at me in the rear-view mirror. The last dig was personal – she has declared a boy in her class named Jake the “Grossest Boy on the Planet.” She had to be separated from him because she got sucked into his antics and “lost apples” for behavior infractions (oops – I almost let this post go with that last word being infarction – as in myocardial). She’s pretty letter of the law as far as school rules go, so I imagine he must be pretty entertaining to distract her.

“No mom! Those are terrible. I guess I don’t mean a rhyme. It just has to be catchy and fun. How about ‘The Colorful Cupcakes?’”

“Sounds good, Sicily. The nurse talked about covering them with sprinkles, and making different flavors of batter and icing, so that should work great.”

Last weekend, when she was with her dad, I got a call from her. She had just scraped her elbow and was crying – she wanted me to come pick her up. My heart was tearing in two pieces, but I didn’t let on and tried to distract her out of it.

“Well Sicily, your dad only gets about four overnights a month and he would be pretty sad if I came to get you. I know once your arm feels better you will be excited about staying with him and Nicole (his dog). But you know the festival is next weekend, so how about we talk about the posters we are going to make? You need to plan them. What do you want to do?”

She calmed her sniffles with ideas. “Well, it is getting close to Halloween. How about we do flying cupcakes with pumpkin heads and bat wings? Under a big harvest moon?”

I couldn’t have dreamed a better poster. We colored every night last week.

Yesterday was the big day. We hung our artistic posters and met the dialysis nurse, who delivered them during set up time. The cupcakes – chocolate, candy corn, birthday cake, and spice cake, artfully displayed on cupcake stands - were so amazingly good that we got a fast reputation and they were over halfway gone less than two hours into the four hour festival. I think Sicily was pretty happy with how it all turned out, which is all that really ever mattered to me anyway.


  1. Yes, pictures of both the cupcakes and the posters! So happy it all worked out so well.

  2. You've seriously gotta be careful about reputations like that--they come back to haunt you.

  3. I had a soccer game for Jack, the festival, and then 20 year high school reunion dinner all on Saturday. I forgot my camera. I'll check to see if my dad took any. I was so sad when I was writing this post last night.

  4. Kellie (general surgeon)October 13, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Sounds awesome! Sounds like you came up with a great plan and everything worked out well.

    I took a day off before my son's 4th birthday to make him a cake. I was darned pleased with it, if I do say so myself. He loved it too, and that was all that mattered to me!

  5. Good for you! I made Darth Vader and Yoda pancakes Monday night. So I can cook, a little. They were yummy, and I too was pleased with myself:)


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