Shhh! It’s a Surprise!

Two Writing Teachers Today

Oh, my! I am really inexperienced with throwing surprise parties. Especially on Zoom.

Carrot cake, with its spicy and sweet aromas wafting throughout our flat and hallway, ensures that I can’t bake his surprise birthday cake here at home.

However, I figured I would be able to mix the batter here, but even that got a little complicated. My husband works in the same building where we live, so he is known to pop in during the day to retrieve something or take a quick break. There is only one fail-proof safe time when he is in a meeting and that is 7:30-7:50 a.m.

Seven to 7:30 is also pretty good, but if he gets to his office and has forgotten something, even that 30-minute period is at risk. I stayed up late the night before and woke at 7:00, so I jumped into action.

I got out 8 eggs, hid them in a pan with a lid on it. Broke them one by one into a big rectangular Tupperware. Then poured in two cups of oil. I was always a bit nervous and concocting a believable lie should he pop in. Relief. I was safe so far. I took a quick shower and got dressed.

At 7:30, I was finally safe for 20 minutes. I got out the food processor, quickly peeled some carrots, grated them and measured out 6 cups into the tub with oil and eggs. Then I buried it in the fridge among all the other similar tubs.

Next was clean-up! Oh, the ubiquitous carrot gratings! I kept wiping and cleaning, picking them up off the floor. The orange spots of carrot juice and tiny orange shavings screamed, “See me in all my fluorescent glory!” I was supposed to be getting ready for Zoom school not finding another shred of carrot. “Why in the world are you grating carrots?” I heard my husband ask in my imagination where he was coming home for coffee and saw carrot remains.

As I watched the clock, and kept finding more evidence, I felt like a nervous criminal trying to clean up a crime scene. Finally, I thought I had it all picked up. I even went into the bathroom and checked my smile to make sure all the end pieces I’d been munching on were not wedged anywhere conspicuous. I grabbed my bag of carrot cake trash–eggs shells, empty oil bottle, carrot residue–and went down to the dumpster.

There when I returned back to my flat was my husband in the clean kitchen, thankfully with absolutely no question about carrots. I began to make myself a cup of tea, and he said, “Wow, thanks for emptying the trash…” (It had been sitting by the front door since last evening.) “…and before your tea even!”

This adventure happened twice this week–double recipes of carrot cake mixed up surreptitiously and then taken to a friend’s on the way to school to bake and freeze at their home.

Finally, on Sunday evening we had the successful and sweet party! Several times over the last 24 hours, he has said, “Thank you for last night.”

I waited until yesterday, his official birthday to deliver the small cakes I had baked. Between school and time with my husband, I hadn’t had enough free time to bake, thaw, frost and delivery before the party.

I wrote about this party and carrot cake in my Sunday poem for #Verselove and below:

Carrot cake:
our family recipe for 
births, weddings,
baptisms of
Shredded carrots
freckling the kitchen
So many fluorescent flecks
threatening to spoil the
into the meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Bahrain time,
9:00 a.m. Pacific,
for this
pandemic party
Carrot cakes
stealthily baked
with love
in tiny
aluminum pans
delivered to
to celebrate
the anniversary of
the birth of my beloved–
this man,
so good
and kind
and passionate–
with carrot caky goodness

14 thoughts on “Shhh! It’s a Surprise!

  1. Wonderful- you pulled it off well! Carrot cake is my favorite too and I totally could imagine the stress of getting the grating done and disappearing the evidence- very time consuming!

  2. Loved reading it through and through. Surprises are special for the thought and the hard work that goes in planning them. Glad you could pull if off!

  3. Denise, I love reading the full story of the surprise! I know all too well this – “Oh, the ubiquitous carrot gratings! I kept wiping and cleaning, picking them up off the floor. ” – carrot cake is one very tricky cake to create on the sly. You pulled it off! Bravo! Happy birthday to your sweetie!

    1. Thank you, Maureen! It was tricky, but worth every bite! It was fun sharing it with others, even if not the standard birthday party way to do so.

  4. What a beautiful poem about this special kind of cake!

    As a home chef, I laughed at your “the ubiquitous carrot gratings!” I can relate to those… there is always one that escapes me.

  5. CARROT CAKE! Made from scratch! It is my favorite – my mother’s was the hit of every holiday season. I make it by her recipe now and you’re right – that amazing cinnamon fragrances fills the whole house. Always wanted her to make it for my birthday and she never did – I ought to do it for myself! To me this is an ultimate act of love for your beloved, indeed!

    1. Thank you, Fran. Yes, do make your own birthday carrot cake! What a lovely thought. We have it for every special anyone in the family wants to concoct!

  6. Denise, this is priceless! A carrot cake crime scene – I’m laughing! Carrot cake is my absolute favorite (my bride’s cake was carrot cake). You share such a beautiful slice of life –
    And cake- today!

  7. Denise, it was fun to read your post and then the comments that followed. I’m the husband in my version of the story, and carrot cake is my absolute favorite. My wife started to make them for my birthday nearly 20 years ago, and now my oldest daughter (with help from her children) have taken the task. The cake is the only gift I ask for!

    I really enjoyed your telling of the lengths you went to in order to pull this off. I don’t doubt for a second that it was beyond special for your husband. Thanks for sharing the story–and the poem–with us!

    1. Oh, what a special tradition you have with carrot cake too, Tim. That is really special–three generations have given you your favorite birthday gift! Lovely.

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