Another Valentine’s Day baking spree draws to a close…

15 Feb

As I spent the weekend crouched over my kitchen counter, hand-painting edible glitter onto tiny frosting rosebuds for Baby Oliver’s one-year-old preschool droogs to gleefully manhandle on Valentine’s Day, it occurred to me I may have grown a little out of touch when I started having sons.

Growing up, I was the student in school whose mom made insanely detailed cupcakes for every occasion—the kid my teachers loved to see on their annual roster because it meant lots of creative class parties throughout the school year, on account of my parentage.


Sparkly candy-coated Oreos for Jamie’s class party–the passing of time shall never dampen my love for edible glitter.


I remember that we actually had a drawer in our kitchen known simply as the “Wilton drawer,” which housed all of the tools my mother used to create her masterpieces. Curious little nails, cups and metal cones filled the mysterious drawer that somehow, each holiday, transformed the simplest of shelf ingredients into awe-striking works of culinary and architectural genius.

After hours of painstaking and meticulous labor, Mom’s exquisite masterpieces were loaded into our Dodge Aries and transported gingerly to the elementary school from within a behemoth Commodore 64 box she kept hidden for safekeeping beneath my parents’ bed the rest of the year, out of fear we’d have to upgrade our family computer just to get our hands on another carton that could hold thirty-six morning glory-topped Easter eggs at once.

I loved those classroom treats with all my heart. They represented my mother’s intrinsic respect for aesthetics and precision – perhaps the life of an artist she never pursued. They reflected a pride and self-confidence she didn’t always show in normal day to day life. They symbolized an anchor of stability in my formative years – no matter what else happened, or what horrible future might befall any of us, there would be hand-piped rosettes on all major holidays. Always.

To this day, I remember proudly demonstrating to my 2nd grade friends the proper method to remove a thread stamen from royal frosting without shattering the sugar lily in the process. I also remember pitying the kids who were in charge of bringing soda and cups on party day – the kids whose moms sadly didn’t know the difference between a petal tip and leaf tip, or buttercream and meringue. Or, perhaps more tragically to my young mind, didn’t care.


I am a crazy person.


It’s funny how my former childhood has rubbed off on my parenting. Certain little things that my parents took the time to do right, regardless of necessity or sensibility, have stuck to my identity like glue over the years, while more practical aspects of domestic life to this day elude me.

I can’t shine a window to save my life. There are portions of closet floors in my house that haven’t been vacuumed since the Bush administration.


Leftovers. For the artist-in-residence. 🙂


But with God as my witness, we have piped frosting on all major holidays.

The only trouble is, unlike my mother, I only have boys in my litter. My kids couldn’t care less if they are eating a homemade delicacy or an Oreo cookie. So why bother?

Because she would have. And I learned from the best.

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day, Mom. And thanks for all the frosting along the way.



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