More to Celebrate

June is banging on the door of May crying for attention!

20140615_101016A glance at my June calendar tells me it’s going to be another very busy month. Three birthdays, Father’s Day, a baby shower, swimming lessons, overnight guests . . .  and those are just the things currently scheduled! But I love it. Since there will be a lot of celebrations at my house I thought it was a good time to share some of our earlier celebrations.

Last year was one of those milestone birthdays for my Dad. Lest this post dissolve into a teary sentimental tribute to the most totally awesome, dedicated, hardworking, loving, faith-filled, believing, honest, sincere, loyal dad on the planet; I’ll just share some of the pics from our low key, not too flashy celebration at church. Dad is not an attention seeker. He’s not big on public recognition. So to honor him in a manner fitting with his character, we chose to do our public celebration at his favorite place – his church.

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The decor was kept very simple with a nod to Dad’s agricultural roots (no pun intended!) Even at the age of 80 years he  works continuously on his farm. It was only recently that he sold the agricultural equipment dealership and actually officially “retired” from business. Retiring from farming will be an entirely different story.

After scouting his workshop, barns and treasures stashed away in his storage sheds we discovered a gold mine of containers; antique tool boxes, wooden nail crates, watering cans and more. Too much to use; but the hunt was more fun than antique shopping. We dressed the serving tables with a few of these items and planned a simple cupcake reception with coffee and southern sweet tea as beverage choices.

No receiving line, no speeches, no big announcements. The grandest overture was my two sisters and I sang a lively hymn during worship service – a treat for both my parents since we’re only together once or twice each year. We invited folks to snack and visit for just a moment during the transition time from worship service to Sunday school class. And it was great.

We focused on his favorite cake flavors and created cupcakes reflecting his tastes: German chocolate, strawberry, and coconut. I took on the challenge of the coconut cupcakes because two of his favorite desserts are coconut cake and coconut cream pie. I was determined to make a coconut cream filled cupcake and after about 2 tries, I was satisfied!64820140615_101016Red and blue bandannas, burlap table runners, baskets and wire containers, sturdy disposable coffee cups trimmed with burlap and twine completed the serving table.20140615_100935

A few weeks prior to the reception, we distributed memory cards designed and created by my graphic designer sister. We asked friends to recount a favorite memory on the card and return it the day of the reception. The cards were placed in one of his various wooden boxes discovered on the treasure hunt. Reading these cards and recalling the memories was the highlight of this celebration. Today they remain in that same box beside his favorite chair where they can be enjoyed again and again. 20140615_101106

Since the coconut cream cupcakes were a hit, I’m sharing the recipe – which is a combination of about 3 different recipes. But it works!

Coconut Cream-filled Cupcakes

1 (18.25 oz.) package French Vanilla Cake Mix

1  1/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

6 oz. softened cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

Vegetable cooking spray

Coconut Frosting (see recipe below)

Sweetened flaked coconut

Cream Cheese Filling (see recipe below)

Cupcake Prep: Beat the first 6 ingredients at a low speed with an electric mixer just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium, and beat 2 minutes or until batter is smooth, stopping to scrape bowl as needed.  Mix together 6 oz of softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar then add to cupcake batter being careful not to overmix.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove cupcakes from pans to wire racks, and cool until completely cool.

Cream Cheese Filling

8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 cup milk or cream of coconut

Mix thoroughly. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups. Using a cupcake syringe (or scooping out the middle of the cupcake) fill each cupcake with the desired amount of filling. Spread filled cupcakes with Coconut Frosting.

Coconut Frosting

1/2 butter, softened

3 oz. cream cheese

16 oz. confectioners sugar

1/4 cup cream of coconut

1 teaspoon coconut extract

Combine ingredients until smooth. Spread cupcakes evenly with frosting, and sprinkle generously with sweetened flaked coconut.

The process isn’t nearly so tedious as it sounds and they are well worth the effort.

Celebrations are our way of honoring those we love in a way that is pleasing to them and reflects their character and personality. As we look around us, the blessings that have be showered upon us, the provision of our Heavenly Father; honor someone you love. Remind them that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that your life is richer because of them.  Put your hands to work in service to others.

In His Grace,

Mimi

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