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100 Years Young

Photo credit: my sister Lucy

  16 eggs, 40 ounces of cream cheese, 4 pounds of carrots, and spices galore. 

  My first big cake.  Incidentally done for the same neighbors who got me to cater their party.  Grandma Rachel, a century old.  And all she wanted was a few close friends, wine, and carrot cake.  God bless her.

  After a weekend full of bonfires, birthdays, and friends, Sunday was cake day.

  I woke up in a happy morning-after daze, and made breakfast with my dad.  While my butter came to room temp, I played piano until my back ached.  It was a good morning.

  Then noon came.  I lugged out the massive, frozen 12x18 inch layers of cake, and made my first bowl of frosting.  It took me the entire Packer game to assemble the thing.  I have a strong affinity to green and gold, but I hardly glanced at the television.  I hardly spoke for three hours, and I might've scared my family a little bit.  Sorry guys.

  Once the danged crumb coat was ready, I spent a goodly chunk of time being a ridiculous perfectionist.  After what seemed like (and probably was) hours of smoothing, spreading, and dolloping, I threw down my three dirty spatulas and decided that some rustic streaks were just fine.  After the little piping of stars and careful placement of roses, I was actually feeling quite pleased with myself.

  Listen, if you ever find yourself needing very much to be humbled, try piping black letters onto a white cake with a tip that's way too big, and then run out of frosting.

  With much scraping and delicate tooth-picking, I managed to squeeze out the last two letters.  At that point, I was convinced that the whole thing was just a giant piece of...not very pretty stuff.  In the fridge it went to set up, and then out the door with my family, who were graciously permitting a very moody Ellen to stay behind and blare Mumford.

  An hour or so later, I started feeling rather foolish.  Across the field, light spilled out of the neighbor's massive windows, and I could almost hear the laughter and pleasant hum of a party.

  It's not the first time I've had to pull on my big girl pants, and it won't be the last.  I took myself across that field, and made it to the front door before I paused.  On the long dining table was my cake, and all around it people stood with paper plates of it, laughing and eating.  At that moment, I realized what an idiot I had been.  I walked in before I could talk myself out of it.

  Upon crossing the threshold, the Grandfather of the house seized my hand and suddenly became the unofficial crier.

  "Here's the young lady who baked the cake!"

  I took in the applause and smiles, I took in people sipping wine, I took in people eating my cake.  And liking it.  A lot.

  Compliment after compliment followed me around, but the crowning moment was when the guest of honor herself sat me down beside her.  Over and over she told me how good it was, each bite better than the next.  And yeah, she may be 100, but she doesn't look or act the least bit like it.  Eating my labored-over cake with that special lady was a beautiful time.  

  Any and all frustrations I encountered during the making was more than made up for.  I love making people happy, and I'm beyond blessed that my first cake clients were so trusting and ready to enjoy themselves, only wanting to share and enjoy what I pulled from the oven.

  Happy birthday to sweet Grandma Rachel, ever young at heart.  She got her cake, and I got some unforgettable experience.

Photo credit: my sister Lucy