At the Starting Line for My Birthday


birthday run


On the heels of my most recent birthday, I should share a change of heart. I have written in the past about people having gym birthday parties and about a man with a killer Crossfit workout he does on his birthday each year. Both of these I marveled at from a safe distance, confident I would not be hitting the gym on my big day….

Well, times have changed. This year I celebrated my birthday by getting out of bed to go for a run. A 5K race to be exact. The race, fortunately, started at 1130 a.m., so I didn’t have to give up sleeping in. Still, me being at the starting line of a race on my birthday represents a major shift in perspective.

Why? I wanted to do something to embrace a fit and healthy lifestyle. I hope to incorporate that into my birthday routine from now on.

Birthday Sweets and Sweat

Sure, I started out the birthday weekend with a crepe from my favorite spot in Charlotte. And a bakery brownie my husband brought home. Plus a few ciders at my favorite Friday night music bingo event. But, in the midst of the sleeping in, sitting on my sofa reading, and a fine Italian dinner, I wanted to work in something that set me up positively for a fresh new year.

birthday run

As I age, and the people around me age, I am starting to actually understand the birthday as a day to make fresh promises to myself to do better and be more. If I want to keep on having birthdays, ones that I can enjoy on my terms, I need to do what I can now to stay in shape and be healthy.

The good news? Not only did I finish the race, but I actually achieved a personal best of 29:21. And, I’m not going to lie, having completed the race to start the day did help me justify the afternoon birthday cupcake in addition to the dinner chocolate mousse. If I’m only going to live once, I want to do it with fleet feet and a continued ability to enjoy sweets — even sometimes without moderation!



Fighting over Frosting Birthday Cakes?

One of the age-old birthday debates revolves around cupcakes: Which is better the cake or the frosting?

Birthday cake

Some people can do without one or the other. My son, for instance, is likely to lick off all the frosting and leave the cupcake untouched. This is why we’ve moved on to cookie cakes, which he will eat in their entirety. But then there are the boys who come to his sleepovers and prefer their cookie cake slices without any frosting!

Now, I’ve encountered an idea that throws another spanner in the works: replacing buttercream frosting with ice cream frosting. Food & Wine’s  culinary director Justin Chapple offered this suggestion as a recent Mad Genius Tip:


This made me think of another quintessential debate come cake-eating time: To ice cream or not to ice cream?

Birthday Cake & Ice Cream

I can understand the appeal of an ice cream cake, especially since one of my favorite fro-yo flavors is cake batter. Obviously, if you’ve ever seen any of my #yummybday posts, I am very much drawn in by the appeal of a freshly baked cake. Yet, I’ve never been a fan of cake and ice cream.

My family members are among those who feel that a birthday cake is best served with a side of ice cream. Yet, for my birthday’s there is no ice cream on the plate. It melts too fast and gets the cake soggy. If I wanted a soggy cake, I’d order a molten lava cake thank you very much.

Perhaps the best compromise for the cake and ice cream kerfuffle is this clever idea I came across from The Country Cook’s website. They used melted ice cream to replace all of the cake’s liquids, which “results in a slightly more dense and ultra flavorful cake!” This sounds good enough that we may need to celebrate some half or 1/4 birthdays soon, since we don’t have another birthday coming up for seven more months at my house.

birthday cake=

Happy Boozy Birthday — Drink Recipes on Me!

One of my favorite round-up blogs to write is the #yummybday one. That’s when I pull together some favorites from my twitter postings of tasty treats you might bake for a loved one’s birthday. The blog serves as an easier way for my loved ones to determine what they should make me at my next birthday, too.

Nevertheless, I’ve noticed lately more yummy cocktail recipes from the people I regularly follow for mouth-watering ideas. So, here goes — the first #boozybday round-up. Enjoy (but in moderation of course…).

Birthday Cocktail Recipes

The Cookie Rookie always has great beverage offerings on her twitter feed. I’ve picked two for you:

The Toasted S’more Martini is a favorite from her blog back in 2013.

birthday cocktail

I also like the sound of this Sherbet Mimosa, another one she recently republished.

Birthday cocktail

Another of my favorite foodie bloggers is Living Lou, and not just because she lives in London, Ontario (where I went to grad school). I’m confident her Peach Sangria with blueberries and basil will be a crowd pleaser!


Since I live now in Charlotte, NC, I have to include Life, Love, Sugar’s Carolina Panther Punch. Plus, anyone who knows me, will know I love brightly colored foods.

Birthday cocktail

I’m a big fan of bubbly, so I also have to share this Blackberry Lavender Champagne Cocktail from AdventureBite.


On Town & Country’s list of top spring cocktails, Le Bleu Glacier is the one that stuck out to me (and not only because it’s in French!). You garnish this blueberry, vodka, vanilla cocktail with berries and smoked cheddar!

FourSeasonsJacksonHole-Le Bleu Glacier-100 Mile Cocktail 1

Then, because I was worried I was including too many champagne/vodka pairings I put whiskey into my Google search. As a proud Canadian, my eye was drawn to the Raymond Massey cocktail.  Turns out this cocktail is “a sophisticated cocktail with the simple classic flavours of Rye, Champagne and Ginger.” The drink’s namesake is Canadian actor Raymond Massey from Toronto, where you can go to Massey Hall. I can’t help it, champagne’s in there too!


One last one, because it involves a star, the Zephyr Star from Bevvy features gin, lemon, simple syrup, allspice dram, and honey bitters. My only disappointment is that it’s not really involving stars other than the star anise on top. Well, I could still liven it up with the awesome light-up ice cubes my husband gifted me recently.


Cheers! Enjoy your next birthday celebration, even if it’s for a one-year-old it’s de rigeur these days that drinks be served.

Birthday Baking or “No Bake” Goodness

It’s time for another #yummybday roundup. I know the real reason I have twitter followers is because people want to see the treats I share each day. Fine. Here’s the latest greatest hits for you. It can help you with upcoming birthdays and all those holiday potlucks coming up too. You’re welcome.

For the Chocolate Lover

And because I can’t believe I missed last week’s National Chocolate Day:

These tantalizingly named Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars make the cut with their shortbread, salted caramel sauce, cookie dough and chocolate ganache layers.

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 4.16.16 PM.png

Or a double dose of goodness with @mindoverbatter’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars:


@BeyondFrosting gives us this No-Bake Snickers Icebox Cake, which I love for the “no bake” part:


For the gluten-free, some fudgy, gooey brownies from @Texanerin:


Fruit Lovers Unite!

Combine fruit and funnel cakes with @grandbabycake’s Strawberry Shortcake Funnel Cakes:


Lindsay of @Life_Love_Sugar provides us this Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cake:


Lemon’s a fruit too…Thanks @WillCook4Smiles for this Lemon Oreo Cheesecake:


Hand-held Yumminess

OK, this one tackles two favorites: eating with our hands and S’mores. Check out @shugarysweets’ Ooey Gooey Hand Pies:


Also with marshmallows…I’m weak in the face of fluffy whiteness. Thanks @spoonforkbacon for these Salted Gingersnap Mallomars:Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 4.11.45 PM.png

Plus one more from @shugarysweets who often makes my #yummybday tweets — Birthday Cake Fudge.


Finally, another of my favorite ingredients from a familiar fellow blogger @cookierookiebec. How about Loaded Salted Caramel Soft Batch Cookies?


Can you believe I held off an entire year before sharing all that yumminess in one blog? I need to do this again more often. I also welcome suggestions. Or, if anyone wants me to do some taste testing of sweets recipes, let me know at @BirthdaysBest…I’m willing.

Colorful Rice Krispie Cake

7 Alternative Birthday Cake Ideas

Last week I was virtually salivating over a birthday cake made with Pimm’s and Champagne poured into a mold to form a jiggly Buckingham Palace. Along the same lines a loyal reader sent me a link to CupofJo’s several unique non-cake birthday cake options.

I added some research of my own, and now share some of the more creative recipes I came across.

Crackle! Pop! Celebrate!

Food blogger Not Without Salt shared a recipe for a Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treat Cake with layers of peanut butter chocolate icing. It would make for a crunchy bite of cake, but kiddos would likely love this one.

Rice Krispie Treat Cake

Sprinkle Bakes, a baking and desserts blogger I regularly retweet for #yummybday made the even more attractive version Rice Krispie Treat Sprinkle Cake.

Colorful Rice Krispie Cake

Fruity Festivities

Not Without Salt is also the source for this cake made entirely of fresh fruit. In summer this would be a perfect alternative if the guest of honor eats gluten-free. As a huge fan of watermelon, I’m all over this idea. Ironically, despite the blog title, there is no salt in this recipe!

Tasty Fruit Cake

Birthday for Breakfast.

What better way to start a birthday off than with a Cake Batter Pancake Cake? I am in firm agreement with How Sweet It Is food blogger Jessica’s view that “the world would be a better place if more sprinkles were involved.” Using sprinkles in the cake batter that she cooked up as pancakes, Jessica created a tasty treat that would likely bake much faster too! Still, it could use more frosting!

Cake Batter Birthday Pancake Cake

Brownie Birthday Binge

Not as creative as the first few options, this one still takes the cake (ha ha) for chocolate lovers. No wonder this brownie stacks up as the first playful, alternative cake displayed in’s slide show.

Brownie Birthday stack

Ice Cream Birthday Dreams

This Have A Yummy Day ice cream wreath recipe involves making the ice cream from scratch. However, the idea alone would be easy enough to replicate with store bought. I’d want to try this one actually, with pieces of cake or brownie on the serving tray too. Oh, and definitely a chocolate sea salt caramel ice cream as the base.

ice cream wreath

Chip in for Cookie Layers

This last one would surely be my son’s favorite. He’s asked for cookie cake the last two birthdays, but this one might be in the running for next February. The Cake Blog’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake layers thin cookies with buttercream between the layers holding this tower of goodness together.


Any other suggestions you’d share for alternative birthday cakes? I’d love to read about it in the comments section.

Birthdays at Buckingham


I know, I know. I probably appear to be quite the monarchist. But there have been so many news stories about the British royals and their June birthdays.

Prince Philip turned 95 on June 10 this year. In the midst of all of the birthday fetes he had to attend alongside his wife the Queen (who gets two birthdays, remember), he took the time to write a much-publicized letter back to an English constituent who’s mother shared his same birthday.

MP John McNally explained he didn’t actually expect an answer: “To be honest I never thought I would receive a response or at best I might get a polite letter from his office,” he told the Daily Mail. “But my mother has always talked about how they share the same birthday and I thought ‘why not.’”

A letter, dated 25 May 2016 and written on Buckingham Palace paper, arrived in his return mail:

“Dear Mr McNally,

I was interested to know that your mother shares the same birthday as I do. I have to say that the older I get, the less I appreciate birthdays. Please give your mother my best wishes.

Yours sincerely. Philip.”

The Prince is reportedly not a fan of birthdays — sort of like Prince last week! Philip refused to have any kind of official celebration himself on June 10 this year. Instead confining his big day to the briefest of mentions during the service at St Paul’s that very same day commemorating his wife’s 90th.

Queen Elizabeth was more in the spirit of celebration when she remarked to the gathering:

“To everyone here today, and to those holding street parties elsewhere, I would like to say thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you continue to give to me. I hope these happy celebrations will remind us of the many benefits what come through when people come together for a common purpose, as families, friends or neighbors…I much appreciate the kindness of all your birthday wishes and have been delighted and moved by the many cards and messages I have received.”

No explicit word though on whether the Queen or Prince Philip, who is more renowned for his sense of humor, appreciated the jelly replica of Buckingham Palace, complete with corgis, unveiled at one London celebration of the monarch’s birthday.

Apparently, the wobbly castle created by drinks brand Pimm’s took more than 200 man-hours to make and used 35 litres Pimm’s No 1 Cup and champagne.

I will have to get the recipe for a future #yummybday post. In the meantime, learn more about the fun the Queen enjoyed along with jelly castle.



The Frosting on the Birthday Cake


Photo credit: V Threepio via / CC BY-NC-ND

Why do frosting tubs never contain enough of the sugary good stuff to ice an entire cake?

I’ll admit, this thought didn’t cross my mind until I read this ChicagoNow blogger’s point of view, but she is so right.

She complains the consistency in the industry to give us cans of frosting that are always short about 4 ounces is all part of an “evil confectionary plan” and groups herself with the “Frosting Embittered Mothers of America.”

Noting that if just one company sold a bonus-sized can they would corner the market, and we would all enjoy “frosting freedom,” Kim Strickland sees only one downfall to her plan. The inability after a cake icing experience to sneak downstairs to steal a spoon of leftover icing from the container in the fridge.

Her too-familiar plight made me want to see what other advice is out there to deal with the icing issue.

Of course, there’s the make your own icing solution. Yeah, I remember back in the days before being a working mom when that was fun. If you have that much energy, you might appreciate this seven-minute recipe. Me, I see the first line about needing a double boiler, and I’m out.

I also encountered this idea for stretching the frosting in the tub – whip it up in a blender before use. Brilliant. Only now I have to wash another dish and the blender beaters, too.

Another site suggests whipping the icing with a bit of milk. Plus, they mention letting the cake cool completely before trying to frost it. Of course, we all know that’s what we’re supposed to do, but maybe I’ll be more motivated to do so next time.

I may need to bake many birthday cakes just to see which of these solutions is the best answer for me. Now that’s a good idea!



Photo credit: yummysmellsca via / CC BY-NC-ND


Lots of Birthday Chocolat

A friend who knows me well suggested I should write about birthday chocolate. As a lover of both birthdays and chocolate, I am game.

Chocolate birthday

Image Source: The Cupcake Cowgirls

So, what does one write about birthday chocolate? How deliciously delectable it is? How deliriously happy you might make a birthday celebrant with a simple box of chocolates? You should already know this.

I was interested to see, though, how the chocolate companies handle birthday offerings:

  • Godiva, for instance, touts its birthday gifts suggesting: “You’ll never have trouble finding birthday presents again now that you’ve discovered these chocolate birthday gift baskets… you’ll be the rock star for getting the perfect birthday presents.”
  • Russell Stover lets you pick the chocolates for your gift box and personalize the packaging by adding text and your own photo (although this isn’t specific to birthdays, but that’s one of the examples).
  • Ghirardelli wants you to “celebrate someone special” by choosing the 15 chocolate squares to go in their gold tin with birthday wrapper.
  • Laura Secord didn’t market for birthdays, but as a proud Canadian I do have to say I thought the milk chocolate NHL team-themed hockey pucks were pretty cool.

If you want to make your own chocolate goodies for a birthday there are many recipes for a #yummybday.

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake is an easy recipe to follow.

Or how about these two-ingredient gluten-free truffles from Minimalist Baker.

Birthday chocolate

Image source: Minimalist Baker

More of a white chocolate fan? Try Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe for Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (although white chocolate is fake chocolate…).

Birthday yummy

Image Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction

I’m personally a fan of Chocolate Mousse, so here’s a simple recipe for that (although I have yet to make one at home that meets my high standards).

Finally, I thought I’d finish this rumination with a few fun facts selected from Slide Fact’s 22 about chocolate. Did you know:

  • Ruth Wakefield traded her recipe for Toll House Cookies in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate.
  • We can overdose on chocolate. A lethal dose is 22 pounds (or about 40 chocolate bars).
  • Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate — that’s birthdays or not!

#yummybday? Yes Please.

One of the fun parts of writing about birthdays is definitely the curating of #yummybday. There are so many creative bakers out there coming up with delicious recipes to share with the world. In thanks for their mouth-watering work, this week I’m highlighting some of the ones that have made me wish I had more birthdays to bake for!

A summer birthday party would become even more special with these uber-cute Mini Ice Cream Cone Cake Pops by Endlessly Inspired.

yummy bday

Source: Endlessly Inspired

Or how about Host the Toast’s Birthday Cake Remix Brownies? These look scrumptious and festive at the same time!

yummy bday

Photo source: Host the

For a full-on cake birthday batter experience, I’ve been wowed by The Busy Spatula’s Funfetti Cake Batter Cake.


Source: Busy Spatula

My husband would love these Red Velvet Brownies with Oreo Cream Cheese Mousse and Chocolate Ganache from Domestic Gothess.


Source: Domestic Gothess

Whereas I’m more interested in a straight-up chocolate option such as Sprinkle Bakes Chocolate Therapy Cake.


Source: Sprinkle Bakes

Or chocolate paired with salted caramel too — such as Sugar Hero’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse.


Source: Sugar Hero

One more awesome option I can’t resist sharing? Cookie Batter Salted Caramel Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.


Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

You know you want to get in the kitchen now, right? Or at the very least you want someone to ask you to taste test some of these recipes. Enjoy and check out #yummybday from @birthdaysbest while you’re at it.

What’s Your Birthday Feast Favorite?

Have you ever played the car game in which you and your fellow travelers imagine what you’d select for your final supper? You can have anything, cooked perfectly, and by someone else. My menu is the same I’d request on my birthday. Although there may be variations based on my mood on a given day it’s likely going to involve champagne, tomato sauce, pasta, and a chocolate mousse so rich and thick you can stand your fork up in the ramekin.

I encountered a particularly unappetizing birthday menu feast recently. Apparently, the Greeks used to celebrate a birth feast on the fifth day after the infant was born with the following:

…Custom, sooth requires

Slices of rich cheese from the Chersoneses,

Toasted and hissing; cabbage too in oil,

Fried brown and crisp, with smothered breast of lamb,

Chaffinches, turtle-doves, rows of merry guests

Pick clean the bones of cuttlefish together.

Gnaw the delicious feet of polypi,

and drink large draughts of scarcely mingled wine.

(Athenaeus, cited from a third century A.D. anthology, by Linda Rannells Lewis).

This list of cheese, cabbage, lamb, cuttlefish, and “scarcely mingled wine” along with some birds and “polypi” (which I don’t even know how to characterize) makes my lips purse in a “not-for-me” way. Finding a picture of a cuttlefish only pressed my lips together tighter:

Birthday Cuttlefish

Photo credit: PacificKlaus / Foter / CC BY-NC

Worse still, I don’t see a dessert at this Grecian shindig! What kind of feast doesn’t offer guests a dessert? One of the great things about Birthdays are Best has been tweeting all the #yummybday recipes I find.

Care to share your best birthday menu, I’d love to know it. Or, is there a particular food that gets eaten on birthdays where you live or in your family? I want to know those too. Comment below!