The Birthday

After an excruciating wait for a little boy and many, many repeated questions of ‘How many sleeps?’ Alfie finally woke this morning to the day he had been waiting on for so many nights.

Yes, it was finally his birthday and being one of the youngest in his Year, he was excited to now be like all the rest – eight years old.  There is a tradition at his school where if it is your birthday you are allowed to bring in a birthday treat for everyone in the class to share.  Nothing with nuts is allowed, no cakes that require plating are allowed and lolly bags are frowned upon.  In the past we have brought boxes of ice blocks; these are allowed and are quite a good choice during the hot days of summer.  But having brought these the last two years, I thought we should go for a change and so this morning I woke at 5am to decorate the cupcakes I’d made the night before.


Vanilla Cupcakes with Butter Cream

The cupcakes were vanilla flavoured and packed with organic eggs and flour and that necessity, sugar and plenty of it along with butter.  I was sure these would be a hit with all the kids.  In the early morning darkness I whipped up a butter cream frosting that I tinted to be the same blue as the cupcake holders (that were blue and red), and then piped red stars around the edges.  Using my very handy tweezers, I added a silver cachous to the point of every star.  They were no work of art but I thought they would be good enough for a crowd of eight-year olds.

Alfie and I did the usual walk to school with me holding the tray of cupcakes out in front of me but as we walked he said, ‘I’m not going to eat one, mum’.

‘Why not?’ I asked absolutely stunned.

‘I don’t like cupcakes.  I like the icing but not the bread’.

‘You might have mentioned that before I got up at five to make them and there’s no bread; it’s bloody (I didn’t swear, I promise) organic eggs and vanilla extract and lots of other things you eat by the spoon like sugar’.


A really good size for little hands

And then I realised I hadn’t packed his lunch.  ‘Alfie!  You don’t have any lunch.  I can’t believe I forgot.  I’ll get you a lunch order’.

And then Alfie had to line up with the other students from his class.  One thing stood out to me and that was that Alfie was wearing the wrong uniform.  He was in the standard light blue uniform but everyone else was in the dark blue sports uniform.  ‘But sports day is on Tuesday, and this is Friday’, I said to my confused brain.  Then Alfie’s teacher approached with a beaming smile and she offered to take the cupcakes from me and thanked me so much for making something so pretty.

‘That’s okay’, I said, ‘I hope there’s enough for everyone.  But can I just ask you…why is everyone in sport’s uniform?’

‘It’s gymnastics today’.

Gymnastics?  I had no idea Alfie was doing gymnastics.  He said he’s doing cricket.  On Tuesday’s.  He’s said nothing about gymnastics.  ‘How did everyone else know?’ I thought to myself, ‘Oh, that’s right, they had an Information Night.  People go to those nights (I didn’t) because they get information’.  So Alfie’s here at school on his birthday with no lunch and the wrong uniform but he has a tray of cupcakes.

And after farewelling him to his class I went to the canteen to order his lunch, opened my wallet and there was not a cent to bless myself with.  Earlier that morning, that Arabella had raided my wallet for transport money to her uni (permanently broke, she is), and had taken the very last of my tiny stipend.  Without telling me.  So I had to hike down to the nearest ATM to withdraw enough cash to buy my ultra-thin child a sausage roll and sauce so he didn’t starve.

_B1I7301aWhen I filled out the lunch order at the canteen I was charged an extra 10 cents for not providing my own brown paper bag (fair enough) but after paying the money I began walking off only to be recalled because I hadn’t put Alfie’s name on the lunch order.  It’s quite embarrassing when you can’t even fill out the form for a lunch order correctly.  ‘I just have a lot on my mind’, (that’s what I tell myself).

But the afternoon went much better because I was actually back at the school ahead of the bell and when it did ring, two gorgeous little girls came up to me and said, ‘Excuse me…thank you for the cupcakes.  They were really nice and the best cupcakes we’ve ever had at school’.

‘Who are you?’ I asked, ‘What are your names?’

‘I’m Mimi’

‘And I’m Monica’.

‘Well you need to go home and tell your mothers that Alfie’s mother said you are very polite and you have the best manners and you’ve made one very over-tired mother very happy.  Can you do that?’


And off they ran and let me tell you, those two girls made my day – which was Alfie’s day of course!

And Alfie did confess to eating one of those vanilla cupcakes including ‘the bread’.

I won’t share the recipe unless you’re absolutely desperate for it; it was a great recipe and the cupcakes were super-delicious but I’m thinking you probably have many cupcake recipes at your disposal.  If you would like me to share, let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post.  Many thanks!


Okay, so apparently there are some of you out there who would like a really good vanilla cupcake recipe.  And his is a good recipe so happy to share it…

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes:  24 (or 30 small)

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Just a few dollars

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups (370g) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups (405g) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk     

Butter frosting:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 6 cups (900g) icing sugar mixture
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk  (I found that this was too much milk and made the frosting too runny.  I would use 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 24 1/3 cup (80ml) muffin pans with patty cases.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Spoon mixture evenly among the patty cases.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.  (15-20 minutes?  In what oven?  Mine took 25 minutes).  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until very pale.  Gradually add the icing sugar while beating.  Add the milk and beat until well combined.Divide frosting into small bowls and colour.

Use a small palette knife or round-bladed knife to spread the icing.

This recipe is from Taste.


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  1. Happy birthday to Alfie! You are entitled to some forgetfulness having arisen at 5 a.m. to decorate cupcakes.

  2. I am starting my day with a big smile (courtesty of your post), thanks. Quite a day you had. Glad those 2 little girls ended the day on a high note for you and “made one very over-tired mother very happy”.

  3. I think we all have days like that sometimes – but you’re an awesome Mom and I’m glad the cupcakes were a hit! They’re beautiful.

  4. Happy Birthday Alfie, I hope today brings you (or brought you) the many things an eight year old wishes for.
    And what a lovely story about how well manored those young ladies were, Charlie. I just came downtown on our subway only to remark in my head how entirely ill-manored and rude people are. Your story lifted my spirits. And Torontonians are generally considered one of he nicest!

  5. Awww, Alfie is so cute! I love that he asked how many more “sleeps,” hehe. Glad he at least tried and enjoyed one of your frosting-covered breads 😉

  6. Aw! Very cute cupcakes!

  7. Alfie doens’t know hoe lucky he is to have such gorgeous cupcakes! You’ll have to remind him of this birthday when he’s older and realizes the “bread” is the BEST part aboout cake. 😉

  8. WTG Charlie!! I’m sure the cupcakes were delicious!! And they look so cute!! Love the wrappers!! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten lunches….UGH! The girl gets free hot lunch at school now that we are working/living at camp full-time. We are supported like missionaries and are well below poverty level. But God always provides and our bills always get paid!! 🙂

  9. Happy birthday to Alfie. It sounds like a very busy day indeed. I’m sure Alfie enjoyed the cupcakes on his special day just as much as you enjoyed the compliment from the little girls.

  10. Happy Birhday to Alfie! Yeah!
    Those cupcakes look fantastic! 🙂 I think we need the recipe, pretty please? The cupcakes are very colourful & beautifully decorated too! 🙂 Well done!

  11. Happy Birthday to AlFie, these cupcakes seem so lovely… You are so nice. Blessing and Happiness to you and to your family, love, nia

  12. Aww you are such a good mom, making cupcakes at 5AM and running all over to feed the birthday boy!!

  13. Happy 8th birthday to sweet Alfie!
    I love your phrasing in describing him, “to buy my ultra-thin child a sausage roll and sauce so he didn’t starve.” Will had the same physique when he was Alfie’s age!

  14. You are absolutely the BEST mom in the world. Lucky Alfie. Lucky Archie. Lucky Arabella. My own mom, so many years ago, did the same thing–and I tried as well, though none of my efforts were as pretty as yours. And you always have the loveliest holders for your already pretty cupcakes!

  15. Awww lucky Alfie, these look utterly delicious 😀
    So cute and perfectly decorated!

    Choc Chip Uru

  16. I’m amazed that you’re not more forgetful though you can’t be blamed for the lack of funds … next time, a note letting you know she’s raided your stash would be a nice reminder when you have so many things on your mind already. And keeping track of the different uniforms … crazy. We never had to deal with things like that when I was at school. 🙂

  17. PS: I hit the post comment just as I realized I hadn’t wished the birthday boy a terrific …


  18. I still haven’t perfected the cupcake so I would definitely love the recipe. I believe those girls when they said the cakes were the best ever.

    You did a great job and you are so not alone on the uniform, no lunch, no money thing. I doesn’t take much to throw the routine into chaos at our house either.

  19. Beautiful cupcakes and getting up at 5 am to decorate – your a wonderful mom! Best wishes to the birthday boy 🙂

  20. A happy birthday and year for Alfie! You called them little girls but I think them more like angels. After the day you’d had, you certainly were in need of a kind word and these 2 appeared and delivered. Wonderful how things work sometimes.

  21. I hope Alfie had a wonderful Birthday Charlie! Glad he enjoyed his bread and icing 🙂
    What gorgeous little girls to come up and thank you!

  22. Thank heaven for little girls! I bet no other mother can top those cupcakes. Well done! 5am? You are a dedicated mother.

  23. What a big boy Alfie is now, eight is exciting!
    Very cute cup cakes Charlie, and very dedicated (or desperate for time) to get up at five to finish them.
    My little friends school will allow birthday treats- but they must be wheat, dairy, egg, nut and refined sugar free…. One child handed out pencils instead of treats, they probably tasted the same as most baked goods with those restrictions 🙂

  24. Ah, the lunch order. I used to love getting a lunch order. Your cupcakes are so cute. I can’t believe you even used tweezers for the cashous. dedication!

  25. The cup cakes are beautiful, and I’m so glad you got the appreciation you deserve!

  26. Still searching for that elusive perfect cupcake recipe, so please post yours. I could finally be on to a winner 🙂 Thank You!

  27. Oh, those are such hectic years, aren’t they? And so hard to get things just “right” in the eyes of our children. I am sure he was so proud once those cupcakes started getting handed out to his classmates.. and the children began “oooohing and aaaahing” over their pretty looks and wonderful flavor! xx

  28. Bless those little girls, and these are beautifully decorated cupcakes. I bet Alfie did eat one, and I bet he liked it a lot more than bread!

  29. Happy birthday wishes to Alfie. Never a dull moment in your life Charlie – hope you have a relaxing weekend.
    I would love one of your “bread”cakes – runny icing and all!
    🙂 Mandy

  30. Oh Charlie! I’m so glad that they came up to you to say that! That’s very sweet of them! 😀 They are very cute indeed 🙂

  31. Happy B-day to Alfie !!
    Beautiful post 🙂

  32. You are amazing, dear Charlie. And really, with the lunch, you were just making the birthday better: I was always thrilled when I got to have a lunch order on my birthday! (Three chicken chippies and three chicken nuggets and a Honeycomb Moove!)

  33. I love how Alfie calls the cake part bread. I am glad to hear he did eat one of your beautiful cupcakes! It sounds like your morning was crazy, I hope the rest of the day was better:-) Happy Birthday to Alfie! Hugs, Terra

  34. Hadn’t stopped by in a while, this look great and I’m very happy even Alfie ate the “bread” hahahahaha

  35. Happy belated birthday Alfie, and I’m glad he decided to eat one of the “breads” in the end. It would have been a shame if he’d missed out on what was evidently quite the sweet little treat! 🙂

  36. Ah, those confusing school days and requirements. I had a day of everything being upside down last week, thank good ness we live close to the wee ones’ school. Also forgot the bag with the McDonald’s uniform for Giant Teen… but was gentle on myself, somebody had to be.

    The twins will soon turn 7, aren’t these excellent ages to be.

    But don’t school meeting pall somewhat after the first ten years or so?

  37. Hope Alfie had a great birthday. So glad to hear someone else is normal. I always seemed to get everything wrong when Skater was litlle, I felt so incompetent. I didnt realise that other mothers made these mistakes too

  38. Of course we all wanted your delicious cupcake recipe…especially after Alfie ate the bread! Belated birthday wishes to your sweet boy!!!

  39. Happy Birthday Alfie 🙂 You are seriously one of the best and most selfless mothers I know Charlie! Waking up at 5am just to make cupcakes for Alfie to take home ~ And those two little girls are so cute and definitely well-mannered to come and thank you 😀 xox

  40. Happy birthday to Alfie! Love the way you decorated those cupcakes 🙂

    Awww how adorable are those two little girls.

    By the way I use that vanilla cupcake recipe all the time and absolutely love it! Such a great recipe!

  41. Mothers who try to do everything end up at school with cupcakes, no lunch, the wrong uniform and can’t fill out forms. You poor thing. You need a rest and time to clean out the cobwebs. We all get that way.

    I’m glad you posted the recipe.

  42. You may not want to believe this, but the Powers-that-Be where I live. won’t allow any homemade treats to go to school.Seriously; I have to shell-out for junk food , worthless cupcakes, etc, for birthdays, when I could make good and healthier ones.The irony is that if I still had my bakery, I could do it.

  43. Here in the US (well, in Minnesota, anyway) we aren’t allowed to bring homemade treats to public school – it’s so sad. We have to buy birthday treats and I hate that. I so want to make little cupcakes for my little girl’s birthday!

  44. oh my youre a super mum! up at the crack of dawn to decorate cupcakes!

  45. I just told you you are a super mom… and 5am! You are amazing and all of your children are so lucky to have you as a mom. I don’t know how you do it – three kids, and they are all growing up nicely too! Happy birthday to Alfie! I bet he had an awesome party!

  46. I’m sorry for such delayed reading, Charlie…major dental work has done me in! Ha! But I’m back and can’t believe how much I’ve missed, including dear Alfie’s birthday! What a darling boy he is, and now 8 years old seems like such a milestone. My daughter was always the youngest in her class and I now how they long to be the same age as their friends. You made such beautiful cupcakes…THAT he’ll remember, and not about the uniform change! oxo

  47. ohhh bless – Alfie will NOT forge that birthday. You are an awesome mum hun – even if you dont go to Parent info nights haha 🙂 xx

  48. JO BABY says:

    I can attest that the cupcakes were a treat for both the eyes and mouth! I was so grateful that Alfie shared them with his old teacher…

  49. Mimi and Monica sound like the sweetest little girls ever. I know that was a treat for you.

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