Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Every Domestic Goddess Needs... (and a recipe for birthday cupcakes)

I rarely write and publish my blog post on the same day. This blog post, for example, will be published on my son's birthday. Snow delays are popping up all over the place, so it's my bet that our school will open late and he will get to sleep in. When he wakes up, he will find himself surrounded by blue and white balloons hovering at the top of the ceiling, with draping ribbons (in matching colors) hanging to the floor, and a giant happy birthday sign on the wall. I hope this will start his day with a smile. He deserves it.

But I write this the day before my son's birthday, on Dr. King's big day. There is no mail, and both the banks and schools are closed. W and I took the kids out to celebrate Johnny's birthday this morning, and then we celebrated with my parents in the evening. After such an action packed day, I arrived home to find a package by my front door. This was odd. There's no mail today. I looked up close, and the package was sent via UPS. From California. 

So exciting. 

I brought in the package, tossed my Sigg water bottles in the sink, and proceeded to open it. I recognized the return address, and remembered that the sender had asked for my address sometime last month. I'd assumed it was to send me a Christmas card. Apparently, it was for something else. 

The package smelled beautiful. The scent was strong and floral, but I wasn't sure how. Inside were layers and layers of... I don't know what wrapped in beautiful tissue paper. I began opening them one at a time. First, a red and white checkerboard apron, finely trimmed in lace. Handmade? There wasn't a tag so I assumed so. It was beautiful. I tied it around my waist. I unfolded the tissue paper of the next gift. Another apron. Blue patterned with a sheer blue overlay (or underlay); it seems to be reversible. Again, no tag. Handmade? I tied that one on too. I felt like a little girl playing princess. As I went along, more and more fabulous aprons appeared from beneath the tissue paper, and a few organza bags were in the middle, filled with dried flowers. Ah, that was the scent. I stood laughing, wrapped in five aprons, shocked at the wonderfulness of it all. How was I so lucky?

The beautiful vintage aprons gifted to me. Completely fabulous!
There was no note. Nothing. I searched between the aprons and the paper. Still nothing. I rechecked the envelope and there it was. A thickly packed envelope with "Tiffany" written across the front. First I read the card. It had a sweet message from the person who sent it to me, and it began with "Every Domestic Goddess needs a few vintage aprons." She mentioned that she collects them, and wanted to share some with me. She sent me five in all, one of which is a red Christmas apron, with a gold Christmas tree across the front. What could be better?

She'd also typed me a long, lovely note that is personal, and it made me feel fortunate to have 'virtually' met her. It's rare that I find someone who is both generous and understanding, someone who truly gets me and connects with me. When that does happen, though, it reminds me that I am in good company. This is how I felt when I read her letter.

It ends with something I'd like to share with you, something she wrote, and I hope that she doesn't mind that I am quoting her and using her name (here comes the reveal!). Thank you very much to the beautiful blonde, California girl who is a mother, wife, and fellow domestic goddess! I love the package and will wear, and care for, these vintage aprons with love and thanks.

A domestic goddess is a woman who keeps her home ordered, clean, uncluttered and tastefully decorated. In addition, she is an ace in the kitchen, a brilliant baker, fabulous cook and exceptional entertainer. As if this is not enough, a domestic goddess always looks beautiful and sexy. She can put in a full day at the office, work in the garden, put up shelves in the house, be a fabulous mother and a vamp in the bedroom. We can have it all!  -- Paula Thompson

Finally, in keeping with my domestic duties, here is my favorite recipe for birthdays, called Happy Birthday Cupcakes, from Lifetime Magazine 2003. The first time I made these were for my mother's birthday in 2003. We served them at California Pizza Kitchen, after having dinner there with my family and maternal grandparents. I frosted them warm and the frosting dripped everywhere. What a memory!

Makes 24 cupcakes

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c boiling water
3/4 c mascarpone, at room temperature
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t non-alum baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 t chocolate extract (my addition)

vanilla frosting
5 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 c mascarpone, at room temperature
1 t pure vanilla extract
food coloring (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa and boiling water until smooth; let cool 10 minutes. Whisk in the mascarpone. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
3. In medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4. In large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Follow with cocoa mixture, then vanilla. 
5. On low speed, add in flour mixture. Spoon batter into lined muffin cups.
6. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove muffin from tin; cool on wire rack. 

For frosting: Using a wire whisk, beat together confectioners' sugar, mascarpone, and vanilla, adding a few drops of water if necessary to make a smooth, thick frosting. For pastel colors (optional): Tint frosting with small drops of color. Frost cupcakes as desired. Top with flowers and candles. 

Cupcakes without frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks. Frosting can be made 1 day ahead; return to room temperature before using. Frost cupcakes on the day of the party. (I don't like to refrigerate baked goods, so I recommend freezing if making ahead. DG)


  1. i like.
    i want.

  2. Can the domestic goddess bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan?

  3. And never let you forget you're a man...
    Yesssssir, I can.

  4. great one tiff - i have several vintage aprons, but my fave is the one my brother made me (yes, i said my brother!) for Christmas quite a few years back when my family had a fully "homemade Christmas" - it's covered in apples...good memories :)

  5. Tiffany a big happy birthday to your little one! What a super package to receive you are one lucky lady!

  6. I am filled with great moments lately

  7. The aprons are gorgeous. What a fabulous surprise!

  8. Unbelievable. I've never even met her. How sweet is that?