News Editor, Lauren Kahme, recounts her nineteenth birthday extravaganza and reflects on this time in quarantine.
On the eve of the fifth of May, I stood in my kitchen and stared at the clock, waiting for the digital green numbers to strike twelve. Midnight appeared just as the almond flour and powdered sugar began to fly from my hands to measuring cups. This chaotic endeavor derived from my love for traditional English practices and DIY (do it yourself) projects; I set out to prepare a proper afternoon tea party for my nineteenth birthday.
Because my entire family was asleep, I had to try my best to avoid making noises over 40 decibels while making macarons—an impossible task. These almond meringue macarons originate with the French, and the many recipes I saw on Pinterest included warnings of every minute misstep that could cause the cookie’s outcome to go awry. This tricky recipe would not deter my insistence on having homemade tea party sweets.
Finally, after smuggling the food processor to my room to blend pistachios under a blanket that muffled the noise and whipping egg whites by hand until I saw stiff peaks, I had my chunky batter ready to squirt out of the corner of a Ziploc bag at 1:59 AM. The rest of the night involved physically baking the meringue polygons (they are hardly circles), cleaning the 2,758 dishes required to make nine meringue polygons, and collapsing into bed with a sore wrist. This would have gone much smoother if I invested in an electric mixer, but hindsight is always 20/20.
The morning of my nineteenth birthday, May 5th 2020, I rolled out of bed feeling exactly the same as I did the last two months while living at home. The following text is a replication of the timeline I followed throughout the Big Day:
- 9:30 am – Started for my grandmother’s house
- 10:07 am – Arrived at my grandmother’s house and was immediately fed and told the pieces of “essential gossip”
- 11:30 am – Reminded my grandmother I was there to retrieve the china tea set she said I could borrow
- 12:30 pm – Departed from my grandmother’s house
- 1:03 pm – Began the second round of macaron making—raspberry, this time
- 1:07 pm – Released a scream/cry and held my whisking wrist in agony
- 2:00 pm – Placed macarons in the oven
- 2:05 pm – Placed store-bought croissant dough in the oven
- 2:07 pm – Prepared macarons and croissants on plates for the table
- 2:27 pm – Drizzled olive oil on thin sourdough slices and placed the sheet in the oven
- 2:40 pm – Showered and attempted to look like a human after many weeks of only donning sweatpants
- 3:00 pm – The tea party technically started
- 3:12 pm – Arrived late to my own party
The tea party was so proper compared to the chaos ensuing in the world around us which made the spectacle that much more absurd. I would not have wanted it any other way. I wore white lace gloves with touch-screen compatible fingertips—we can’t abandon the 21st century completely, can we?—and asked my guests to wear as fancy an outfit as they could muster. The guest list included myself, my grandma, my mom, my brother, my best friend (human), and my best friend (blanket). Lambchops (my best friend stuffed lamb) had a prior engagement and did not attend. The final menu consisted of the mini tea sandwiches—cucumber and cream cheese, egg salad, and tuna salad—that my mom made (thank you!), mini and jumbo croissants, sourdough crostini with goat cheese and granny smith apple slices, pistachio and raspberry macarons, and, of course, tea.
We listened to classical music, sipped with pinkies up, and laughed the afternoon away. The early evening persuaded the party to move to the blow-up pool that I received as a birthday gift from my brother. Swimming around in 2 feet of water as the sun set over our completely ridiculous and wonderful day felt marvelous. This tea party pool situation can be recreated with items you may have at home already: imaginary friends, tea, cookies, and a bathtub. Know that a memorable and enjoyable birthday in quarantine is very possible if you take the proper safety precautions and revitalize your youthful imagination!
Tea Table via Lauren Kahme