Once I finished the A-to-Z Challenge, I suddenly discovered tremendous amounts of free time I didn’t have before. The amount of time it took to write a daily blog post had me constantly preoccupied with thinking up topics and generating new content.
Immediately after the Challenge, I had my 40th birthday party. Originally, my sister and mom were supposed to come up a day or two early and help me with preparations, but that didn’t work out for perfectly understandable (medical) reasons. I suddenly had no way to get everything done in time!
After an initial state of panic, I eliminated items from the menu (no more fish) and asked a few friends to come over the night before and help put stuff together. In the end, the party was a lot of fun– from the camaraderie while making preparations to the feeling of accomplishment once it was all done.
I invited friends from both of my worlds, academic science and a local writers group, and chose an “aging nerd” theme, heavy on the video games. We had two gaming systems, one an Xbox 360 with Kinect, and the second an emulator set up with titles I played incessantly as a kid.
Food-wise, we combined traditional grill fare (hamburgers) with homemade French fries and vegetarian empanadas which everyone raved about. Guests brought side dishes and six packs.
Some folks went “flavor-tripping” with miracle fruit and a fruit plate that contained strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, watermelon, lemons, and limes. If that wasn’t enough, we supplied vinegar and mustard and any other sour food people wanted to try whilst under the influence of miraculin.
The ‘cake’, of course, was the crowning achievement of the entire affair. We baked over one full gross (>144) cupcakes to bring about the awesomeness that is Mario from Super Mario Brothers, pixel-by-pixel. The only pictures I managed to capture were of the cake, and I’ve included them in this post! Of course, I can’t take credit for the idea. The Internet showed me examples where others had done the same thing, except with mini-cupcakes. We went full cupcake size. I was still trying to get rid of cupcakes one full week later.
A part of me still wants to say that under better circumstances I would have done more to make the party better, but in retrospect we accomplished a lot. I am very thankful I have the friends I do, smart and capable people that could teach Old Faithful lessons about reliability. They came through for me and that made all the difference.
Thank you Rob & Megan, Kellie & TJ, Jerome, Suzy, and Juan—I’ll never forget this!
PS- In addition to the pictures of the cupcake making process, I’ve attached below the Excel spreadsheet and Powerpoint templates we used to assemble the cupcakes in the proper sequence, in case any one would like to do it themselves. Just click on the thumbnails and download away!