One is fun, one is not.  Well, in this case it is.  I suppose the older you get the less fun birthdays are.

Today is my Justin’s birthday.  My oldest boy who makes my heart swell with pride.  He has always been my joy since the day I had him with his little puppy dog ear.  My heart warms when I remember him pulling the cotton strips out of the box at Aunt Marlene’s hair shop – so he could take that long strip of cotton, suck his thumb and hold the fuzz of the cotton under his nose.  He was so adorable but Aunt Marlene did threaten to charge him for it.  Now he’s all grown up.  Nah, he doesn’t suck his thumb or steal Aunt Marlene’s cotton anymore, but he is still adorable.  I think he probably has paid Aunt Marlene back for that cotton by being her computer analyst though.  ;o)  Happy Birthday Justin!  Mom loves you!!!

Goodbyes are not much fun.  I say goodbye a lot at my job.  Students come and go.  The ones that take the time to come into the office and know you – they are the ones that are hard to see go. Some come and stay as staff – for a little while anyway, like Tiffany.  We said goodbye to Tiffany yesterday at work. She is the one these cupcakes were made for- per her request she received carrot cupcakes.  I wish Tiffany & Adam all the best of luck and we are going to miss your great big smile!  Lesson of the story? It pays to get to know the secretary. ;o) They not only know what you are supposed to do, they sometimes make you cupcakes – even if it breaks their heart to see you leave!

Carrot Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Moist Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup of apple butter 
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 3/4 cups shredded carrots
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract 
milk as needed
toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in pan. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil, and eggs. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in shredded carrots and crushed pineapple.  Using large scoop (or 1/4 cup measure) evenly divide batter into cupcake liners.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

To make the frosting, mix  cream cheese and butter until well blended.  Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time and blend well.  Frosting should be spreadable but not too soft or it won’t hold its shape.  If you find you put in too much sugar, add milk, a little bit at a time until the frosting is of the right consistency.  Decorate cupcakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut