Still only the second most distressing birthday cake I've made her

You probably don't realize this, but while I was off galavanting at the beach and barely, barely enduring my current existence, I was also making all the progress in my summer Bon Appetit. Ran into a hurdle or two! Couple of hurdles. And one puddle.

BA#11: Green Minestrone. Ingredients I had never heard of and also could not find anywhere: fregola, ditalini. Thing I used instead: orzo.

BA#12: Cured Salmon with Fennel and Carrot Salad.

Way in which I chickened out: opted for gin over aquavit. My concern was probably unfounded, as this fish tastes entirely of salt. (That was a recommendation, by the way.)

BA#13: "Caprese" salad with peaches, burrata, and tarragon.  Ingredient I have definitely heard of but still couldn't find anywhere: fresh tarragon. Thing I used instead: dried tarragon. Ingredient that made that trip to the third store of the day worthwhile: burrata, which is cheese soaked in cream, surrounded by more cheese. VERY GOOD, ITALY. NICELY DONE.

BA#14: Scallops with Hazelnuts and Warm Sun Gold Tomatoes. Ingredient I have heard of but could not find anywhere: Sun Gold tomatoes. Thing I used instead: regular tomatoes.  Ingredient for which I have fresh appreciation: toasted hazelnuts.

BA#15: Sorrel Rice Bowls with Poached Eggs. Ingredient I have never heard of and also could not find anywhere: sorrel. Thing I used instead: chard. Reason I forgive this dish anyway: poached eggs.

BA#16: "Caprese" salad with melon, scamorza, and mint. Ingredient I had never heard of and also could not find anywhere: scamorza. Thing I used instead: mozzarella. Thing I should have used instead: burrata, always.

BA#17: Summer Fruit Crisp. What on earth happened here Erica why do all of your desserts liquefy: I do not know. Possible gypsy curse.

Way in which I managed to make it worse, somehow: friendly wave.

Hey, SPEAKING OF! Yesterday, Anna turned this many:

She requested solar system cupcakes.

I didn't really think to change out the red tablecloth, causing our universe to take on a very unsettling atmosphere.

Probably didn't help that the black frosting made the children look like plague victims.

Or at least Robert Smith fans.