A triple birthday celebration: As sweet as Oreo cupcakes

Last night I had the pleasure of having five of my favorite gal pals over for a decadent dinner. We were celebrating the recent or upcoming birthdays of three of them, and the remaining two are radiantly pregnant, so there were plenty of reasons for clinking glasses of wine, or sparkling blood orange soda, as the case may be. Unfortunately I didn’t think to snap photos of the charming ladies themselves (*smacks forehead*), but as usual, I’ve written myself some notes about the event.

I’ve been in the habit of jotting down post-party notes for years, but I became more organized about it a handful of years ago, when Chronicle Books hired me to write the text for The Hostess Diary, a cute little journal with fun retro illustrations and spaces for keeping notes.

I ramble on far too long to keep my notes in the journal itself, but it gave me some ideas of categories it would be useful to track. My usual notes cover some subset of the following:

  • Guest List
  • Menu
  • Decorations
  • Party Highlights
  • Triumphs and Disasters
  • Remember Next Time

So, for this party, it goes something like this:


Cherry Sidecars
Sparkling cherry-ade (for the moms-to-be)
Rosemary-scented spiced pecans
Heirloom tomato salad with lemon-basil pesto and burrata cheese
Grilled corn
Town Hall Barbecue Shrimp


None to speak of, but I threw some place cards on the table. Actually, I didn’t have any place cards in the house, and didn’t have time to make any out of cardstock, like I sometimes do, so I just folded up some origami paper and grabbed some press-on letters from my craft box. Once I decided on the paper I wanted to use, it took me all of about a minute.

I’m always thinking I should do something clever, like write people’s names on beautiful flat river stones or dried leaves, but apparently I’m just not that organized.

Party Highlights

There was a lot of happy news shared (babies! South American vacations! friends’ improving health!), so is it wrong to say that I was very, very excited that one of my guests brought me a dozen eggs from the chickens in her backyard? Yes, I really, really adore super-fresh eggs, with those dark orange yolks you only get from free-range, naturally fed hens.

Triumphs and Disasters

Well, you can’t really go wrong with heirloom tomatoes topped with ooey, gooey burrata cheese, can you? And this time I decided to gild the lily by topping them with a lemon-basil pesto I made. In the right season (i.e., now), this dish gives you the most dramatic salad for only a few minutes of work.

As for the disasters … the watermelon sherbet had to be dumped down the sink before it ever made it into the ice cream maker. More on that later, because I’m curious if anyone can tell me what went wrong. Luckily, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in the recipe to begin with, so I had already asked someone to bring dessert. Disaster averted. Cause otherwise we would have finished out meal with something that looked like this.

Looks delicious, no? Ahem.

Next Time

Note to self: always ask KD to bring dessert! She lives near an adorable bakery called Baked and had the exquisite taste to bring these little treats, the cutest little chocolate cupcakes ever, frosted with Oreo, chocolate, and espresso buttercream frostings.

Please ignore the little smudges of frosting. I’m not saying that sometime felt compelled to taste the frosting before this picture was taken, but then again, it’s possible.


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