Birthday Cake

This summer, the boy learned how to bake cakes from scratch, because Mam took him beneath her wing and taught him the fine art of measuring flour and sugar and shortening.  After all of that undergraduate stuff, the boy entered the graduate program and attended a hands-on lab for greasing and flouring a couple of 9-inch, round cake pans.  He caught on very quickly and announced that he was really quite interested in buying a building on Small Town’s Main Street, which was vacant, because he was going to open his very own CAKE SHOP.  Of course, we gave him information about child labor laws and how he couldn’t apply for a loan until he was tall enough to reach the gas pedal in the Suburban and still manage to see out the windshield.

The cakes that rolled out of our kitchen on a fairly regular basis this summer were so yummy, they barely lasted twenty-four hours on the fancy cake pedestal.  CAKE GLUTTONY became a real term in our home.

Because Hubs celebrated his birthday this weekend (and I imagine that I’ll tell y’all all about Hubs, but not tonight, because of WOW!  WORN OUT!), the boy casually asked me, “Hey, Mom?  Are you planning to buy Dad a cake with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme from Walmart for his birthday?”

(I’m pretty sure this is where I hang my head in shame and admit that YES!  I am THAT mother who buys not just the occasional birthday cake from the Walmart bakery, but ALL OF THE BIRTHDAY CAKES from the super center.  The boy associates birthdays with greasy frosting adorned with penny toys, but I imagine that there are worse things in this world.)

(You know, he could associate his childhood with having a mother who wore pink plastic rollers in her hair on a daily, all-day basis, and shuffled around in her slippers, with a Camel dangling from her red lipstick, which would have sported a catchy color name, like Vampire’s Breakfast, all while she encouraged her children to sit — JUST SIT!  YES, THAT’S A GOOD BATCH OF LITTLE KIDS! — in front of the cable television, while she sat on the front stoop and fed the nineteen cats the family had living beneath their 5th wheel.)

(Yes, I think the boy can still grow up healthy, regardless of the fact that his ma BOUGHT the birthday cakes from the local Walmart.)

No matter.

The boy petitioned to BAKE a from-scratch sort of cake for his dad and completely forgo the Darth-Vader-topped cake with the cheap, greasy frosting.  Naturally, I agreed, because it meant that I really didn’t have to do ANYTHING in the name of securing Hubs a little something special for his birthday.

So last night, while Hubs and I sat on the sofa and reveled in the fact that I was — QUITE OFFICIALLY! — married to an old man, the boy worked his magic in the kitchen with the unsweetened cocoa and a long line-up of other baking ingredients.  When he slid the two round cake pans into the oven and mumbled, “This doesn’t really look like I think it should look,” I barely registered that he had spoken.  There the boy was, waving a brilliant red flag  in front of my face, and I failed to acknowledge it.

And then exactly three minutes later, smoke billowed out of my oven and low!  The cakes had erupted like molten chocolate lava from a round, 9-inch volcano and my oven was  PLUM RUINED.

And also?  I’m pretty sure the fire department was on stand-by.

After we threw open windows and yanked the slop out of my oven, our team of three gathered in the kitchen and realized that INDEED!  The boy had actually DOUBLED the milk in the recipe and FORGOTTEN the sugar.  This is a double whammy, people.  Hubs and I used the example as a life lesson…

“Listen, just like when you don’t follow the directions in a cake recipe EXACTLY, when you don’t follow directions in LIFE, you’ll end up with a giant mess.”

We had cake analogies with great story-ending morals a-plenty.

And so, that is the long-winded back story on how I came to spend the extra hour blessed to me this morning with my head in the cooled-down oven, scrubbing like Cinderella on amphetamines.  Today is my MOST FAVORITE day of the year, because that extra hour is a bit of manna straight from heaven.  I love and plum adore the day we set our clocks back, but I’m not sure that spending my extra time ruining my new manicure while I get baked-on cake out of the oven is a dream come true for me.

After church, we set the oven to SELF CLEAN, and I had visions of shoving our lawn in there, so that all of the leaves would just magically be cleaned up out of the yard.  The makers of the self-cleaning oven need to get busy and invent OTHER self-cleaning devices.  Hubs and the boy headed outside, where they began Leaf Raking 2011, Round Three, while I finished cleaning up the kitchen.

And this, people, is where my sickness comes in, because the oven was cleaning itself beautifully, and that’s when I realized that our microwave looked like a crime scene.  And so, even though I had promised to be outside SHORTLY to help gather leaves, I took some time to scour the microwave, because it’s RIGHT ABOVE the oven, and how unfair would it be if the oven was all glamorous and clean, while the microwave looked like a murder had taken place in it?  And then I realized that our windows were ATROCIOUS, because sweet mercy!  They didn’t get included in the spring cleaning this year, so it has been a considerable stretch of time since the windows at the Jedi Manor dated the Windex.

So I fixed that situation today.  And then I cleaned out three kitchen drawers and one cabinet, took down my light fixtures (MY LIGHT FIXTURES, PEOPLE!) and scrubbed them, scoured the front of the stainless steel refrigerator and dishwasher, cleaned my cooktop like the Queen of England was coming over, mopped the floor by hand, washed down the cabinet doors, and organized my bookcase of cookbooks.

(The cookbooks which still creak with the stiff spines whenever I open them.  Hubs insists that this comes from a TOTAL LACK OF USE.)

After the kitchen looked PLUM REMARKABLE, I moved into our home office, which is just off of the kitchen, and I scrubbed the windows and vacuumed behind the desk and mopped the floor by hand and organized the pantry.

And then the dining room got the royal treatment, and the windows and our deck doors sparkle, and then I moved into the living room, and that’s when I realized I had used almost three entire rolls of Bounty paper towels with all the window washing.

And that is why I never actually made it outside to pick up any leaves.

And also?  My honest confession is that I woke up FLAT-OUT GROUCHY this morning, and my own mama’s remedy for grouchiness has always been hard work.  I can honestly report that tonight, I am exhausted, but completely UN-grouchy.

And Birthday Cake ’11, Round Two is currently cooling on the counter, because the boy realized that HOLY SNOT, BATMAN!  THE KITCHEN IS SPARKLING CLEAN, SO LET’S BAKE A CAKE AND SPILL THE UNSWEETENED COCOA ON THE FLOOR!

I have a hunch, though, that THIS cake is going to taste a whole lot better than the cakes that I usually throw down on the table as a Birthday Offering.

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