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I already did all this on Facebook, but I wanted to share on the blog too. Last week, we had our twenty week anatomy scan, our first look at Niko since April @ 8 weeks. If all goes well, it should be the last before the December debut. So, we were eager to learn if Lauren was going to have a baby sister or a baby brother.

At first, Niko was not so cooperative, much like Lauren was early on. So the tech went on to take all the other measurements and even get a picture of Niko sucking on a thumb, and by the time she was done with that, Niko had moved into a more accessible position. The tech easily identified the genitals, and Niko’s sex was no longer a secret.

That very same night, we began discussing name possibilities (still undecided), and I began planning the sex reveal. The day before, I had decided to make cupcakes (naturally) – a nice chocolate cupcake with one of two frostings: raspberry for a girl, blueberry for a boy.


That’s right, friends, Lauren has got a little sister.

I admit, I was kinda hoping on a boy, for many reasons, but I’m sure y’all know that I would love love love to bring home a happy, healthy girl. And she seems to be all of those things at the moment! She’s quite energetic, and she’s been making her presence known frequently lately. We’re very excited to have her in our lives.

Now we just need to decide on a name!

[Chocolate cupcake recipe from The Cupcake Project. The frosting is a raspberry curd frosting – raspberry curd recipe from Java Cupcake.]



Pretty, aren’t they? Except maybe for my purple, which came out a bit darker and browner than I’d intended. I don’t have a lot of practice coloring cake batter. Frosting I do every so often (but still not very often), but never the actual cake before.

I’ll definitely be doing it again! I really love how the colors came out (except that purple), and it adds a nice touch to what’s otherwise a pretty boring cupcake. I used a basic yellow cake recipe, one which I probably won’t be using again because it’s just not that interesting. The flavor isn’t really there, even with almost 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and the texture wasn’t that terrific. I’ve made way better yellow cakes, but this one was in a cupcake magazine I’ve had for about a year, so I thought I should give it a try. And now I know!

The frosting wasn’t too bad, even though I ran out of powdered sugar. I did not take a picture, because I chose to go with a chocolate frosting, and the cupcakes didn’t look all that attractive after they were topped with a big brown splotch. Next time I color my cakes, I’ll color the frosting too. Ooh, the combinations could be kinda fun! I’m gonna need to get myself some more gel colors.

So, if there’s nothing special about these cupcakes other than the color, why did I make them?

Well . . .


Our rainbow baby is due at the beginning of December. We’re terrified, excited, and thrilled – but mostly we can hardly believe it’s true. We’re hoping for a happy, healthy pregnancy, but mostly we just want to be able to bring Lauren’s younger sibling home.

Six weeks down, thirty-four to go.

I miss a lot of things about Japan, but in late March and early April, I really miss the cherry blossoms.

Sakura at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu

Sakura at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu

I also really miss all the sakura-flavored treats that can be found, in abundance. I could really go for a sakura frappuccino from Starbucks right about now. Oh, man, were those good.

It’s hard to find any kind of sakura flavoring in the States. I’ve looked. Many times. I’ve had other people look for me. The closest thing I had to any kind of sakura flavoring was some sakura sugar that I’ve had for who-knows-how-long. I know I bought it near Mt. Fuji, so I’m thinking I got it when Geordie and I took our New Year’s road trip in the winter of 2010/2011. In other words, I’ve had it for a long time.

And I decided it was about time to use it.

I actually couldn’t find any sakura-flavored cupcake recipes online. There are plenty of cherry-flavored cakes, but sakura isn’t the same as plain old cherry. I mean, I like cherries, but they’re not like sakura at all. It’s impossible to explain how sakura tastes. Very similar to how it smells, but then, it’s hard to explain that too.

It smells like spring.

It smells like . . . hope and magic and beauty.

It smells like sakura. That’s the best I can say about it.

What I found was cupcakes flavored with lavender sugar – the recipe is here at Not Quite Nigella. Interestingly enough, it is a recipe from Nigella Lawson.

I simply replaced the lavender sugar with my sakura sugar. The only problem was that I didn’t have enough of the sakura sugar. I had to supplement it with regular sugar. The proportions turned out to be about three-quarters sakura sugar to one-quarter regular sugar. I hoped it was enough to keep the sakura flavor prominent.

It was not.


There was the barest hint of sakura flavor to this cupcake. The barest. It was harder to detect with the frosting (I used the remainder of my vanilla bean frosting), but even by itself, the cake had such a subtle sakura flavor. It was hard to tell if I was really tasting sakura or just remembering what it tasted like.

Despite that, it did taste good. The cake had a very delicate crumb, light and spongy. I’m sure it’s quite tasty with the lavender sugar! And naturally, the frosting continues to be terrific. I can’t begrudge this cupcake its flavor. It’s fine. It’s a good cupcake. It’s a tasty cupcake. It’s just isn’t the cupcake I wanted.

Not what I wanted, but nobody complained. Geordie brought none of them home, though he wasn’t sure if anybody had actually tasted the sakura. Oh, well. Perhaps I’ll be able to try again in the future.


I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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