Vegan Cupcakes and Beef Hearts

My daughter likes animals. From the time she began choosing the themes for her birthday parties, she chose animals.

When she turned 4, it was a bug-themed party. We did a bug hunt (for plastic bugs) around the living room and did a bug craft. I was going to make a ladybug cake, but it was apparently too much to ask of a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free cake to maintain the shape of a ladybug. After much swearing and a big pregnant tantrum (I was expecting our son at that time), I made a great raw coconut cream pie instead (from a recipe from the Cafe Gratitude cookbook, I Am Grateful). Worked out fine.

When she turned five, she wanted a snake party. I hired a company to bring bunches and bunches of live snakes to our home for the kids to pet and hold. I bought the cake that year from a vegan bakery that also does GF cakes. The toilet backed up into the bathtub during that party, but it was still a fun time.

For my daughter’s sixth birthday party, she wanted a bird party. We live across the street from the oldest continuously running aviary in the United States, and they just happen to host parties there. So, this year my daughter got her aviary party.

It was originally scheduled for late May, but with my husband’s layoff, I was afraid (and somewhat hopeful) that we might move before the day of the party. So I moved the party up to this past weekend (my daughter now refers to April 16th as her “fake birthday”).

Suddenly my remarkably (for me) advanced forward planning became a rather rushed assembly of a party. At least I was now in my usual state of stress as my habit is to leave party planning until the last minute.

I was pleasantly surprised that it all came together, even with the marathon blocking the roads to the aviary for most of our party guests.

I made three dozen cupcakes, cookies and cream:

golden vanilla:

and vanilla “gluten freedom” cupcakes:

Yes, the GF cupcakes are in a muffin tin. You can imagine what the floor of my oven looked like. On the positive side, I got to eat all of the GF cupcakes. They looked bad but tasted heavenly.

All of the cupcakes are from the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I’ve been told that the cupcakes were good but the frosting (their Vegan Fluffy
Buttercream) was awesome. I’m not a big frosting fan, but I admit, I ate that frosting directly from the plastic baggy with the hole cut in the corner that I used to pipe the frosting onto the cakes. (After I piped the frosting onto the cakes, I promise.)

I also made the goodie bags out of leftover fabric from when I hemmed our living room curtains. I made them into no-sew furoshiki bags and filled them with origami paper and instructions to make three kinds of birds, two gingerbread ducks (the ones in yesterday’s photo), and a strip of sparkly bird stickers. I forgot to take pictures of those before the party. I almost forgot to take them to the party, so I guess if I had to forget something, the photo was the better option.

At the aviary, the kids colored pictures, did a scavenger hunt/aviary tour, watched the Andean condor (Andy) get his food (mice and beef hearts),

and fed apples to the sun conures.

We all got pink from the unexpected sun and did much more walking than any of us realized we’d be doing, but I think everyone had a pretty great time. I know I did, and I’m not much of a party person. I find it overwhelming to be in larger groups of people. But the moms who were there were all close friends and I was fresh from my “middle school wasn’t so bad” high, so the situation was ripe for me to have a blast. And I did!

I’m grateful for good friends, cupcakes that get messed up, yummy frosting, and a group of kids who (mostly) aren’t grossed out by condor food.

And I’m grateful that my daughter’s party is done for this year (although we’ll have a little something small on her “real” birthday next month, it will just be the family so I won’t feel a need to clean the house or pipe frosting).


  1. Jenny · April 19, 2011

    I’m not even kidding – this post just gave me a shot of happiness. And the goodie bags are so creative. Make-your-own origami birds! That’s such a great idea for a goodie bag!


  2. renee · April 19, 2011

    so fun! i love the aviary & your cupcakes look so delicious! (maybe the the GF ones :P)


  3. abigailvr · April 19, 2011

    Your R and my S are birds of a feather (pun intended), I think. He would love live snakes in the house or watching a condor eat beef hearts for his birthday!

    I still make cupcakes from that book, even though no one in my house is avoiding dairy anymore. A friend of mine highly recommends their cookie book too. I might have to try it.


  4. Dacia · April 19, 2011

    I love Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook. I will definitely check out for gupcake cookbook. They look fantastic!

    The party seemed to turn out well and I love how you did the gift bags. You are so creative. Maybe you should plan my next birthday party 😉


  5. One Rich Mother · April 19, 2011

    OMG the mice picture, ewww. lol
    It looks like everyone had a good time, yaaaay. Those cupcakes look really yummy mmmm


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