turning 6 and chocolate cupcakes

I have fond memories of being 6.

Who knows what spurred my thoughts at the time, but I distinctly remember saying to myself, “I always want to be 6. I never want to grow up.”

It wasn’t even a great year for me. It was the year my parents divorced, when my life splintered between two households, and when I started at a brand new school without any friends to guide me.

Yet maybe I realized in my single-digit wisdom that these outside forces were nothing compared to the innocence of that age. Life was simpler, school was fun, and my parents still got along.

[I also fully admit that my feelings could have been caused by my proclivity toward the number 6, seeing as I was born on the 6th of the month in 1986I was just a kid, after all.]

No matter the case, I loved being 6.

bday
Me [far right] so excited about my Chuck-E-Cheese 6th birthday and 101 Dalmatians style
So imagine my excitement when my goddaughter, Corinne, celebrated her 6th birthday this past weekend.

It may not seem like a big deal—children turn 6 all the time, after all—but this was the first birthday I was going to be able to celebrate with her. In person.

You see, Corinne has lived all over the world since she was a baby. I was able to attend her baptism as an infant, and she was able to don the roll of Flower Girl in our wedding, but every interaction with her since has either been on FaceTime from London, Sydney, or Zurich, or on the occasional trip stateside to visit family.

But this summer, Corinne and her family officially settled down in Longmont, a mere 40 minutes away from us and within close proximity to so much of their Colorado family.

To say I’m ecstatic is an understatement. Just think about all of the playground outings, lunch dates, baseball games, mountain hikes, lake parties, and family time we will be able to enjoy together! Not to mention all the birthdays…

My love for birthdays has been proven over and over and over again. But I swear when Corinne requested Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting for her birthday dessert, I dived in with so much enthusiasm I had Jason worried for a hot second.

These cupcakes weren’t just going to be regular ol’ chocolate cupcakes, I told myself. They were going to be THE BEST chocolate cupcakes in my wheelhouse. Because my goddaughter deserved the best on her 6th birthday, especially if her {fairy} godmother had anything to do with it.

Truth talk: I had nothing to do with it.

Corinne’s adoring and amazing family made sure her birthday was an absolute smash, despite a whirlwind of mover deliveries, unfinished houses, and stressful schedules. It was a wholly relaxing, superbly fun, and joyful lakeside gathering full of paddle boards, boat rides, perfect presents, grilled goodies, and even a few fireworks. [Corinne’s godfather Stephen totally won the day with those surprising additions to the festivities.]

I did very little to actually contribute to the day overall, but the pure delight of being able to spend such a significant milestone with one of my favorite little humans and her family surpassed any expectation.

If there’s one thing Corinne’s birthday taught me it’s that we often take for granted the relationships in our lives, especially those closest in proximity to us. While at the party, I found myself constantly staring at the individuals around me, in awe that each and every one of them somehow ended up here, near me, in this place we randomly settled on some five years ago.

What a gift.

We’ve watched a lot of dear friends move away yet have also experienced once-long-distance loved ones move closer. After all of it, all I can say is… hold your people tight.

Make the drive. Take the phone call. Commit to the plans. And celebrate the birthdays… especially if they’re 6th birthdays. Because those are proven to be the best of birthdays of them all.

happy birthday


Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

The secret to these chocolate cupcakes is two-fold: pudding and coffee. The pudding keeps the cake nice and moist while the coffee heightens the chocolate flavor. You can decorate them as you wish, but we found the mini M&Ms to be the perfect colorful birthday confection.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Cupcake Ingredients
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 – ¾ c. flour
  • ¾ c. cocoa
  • 5 tsp baking soda
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 3.9 oz. pkg. chocolate pudding
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • ½ c. oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. boiling coffee
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
  • 16 oz. cream cheese [softened]
  • 12 Tbs butter [softened]
  • 4 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ c. maple syrup
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, pudding mix, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Carefully beat in boiling coffee on low speed until fully incorporated.
  3. Line cupcake pan with paper baking cups, and fill cups 2/3 full with batter.
  4. Bake 22 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. While cupcakes are baking, prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the maple syrup and salt until combined.
  6. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and decorate as desired!

cupcakes 4cupcakes 3

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