Elena's 'Old Lady' Tween Birthday Party


When Elena turned 11, she did so with the confidence of a tween set on her own quirky style. She invited a handful of girls over for a low key sleep-over party with her favorite activities (which also included learning something new.)


Dim Sum, Touch The Heart

The festivities began with dim sum making; all of the girls washed their hands, donned aprons and gathered around the kitchen counter. We assembled an assortment of dumplings including pork-based xiao long bao. Later the girls enjoyed practicing their chopstick fluidity as they slurped their dinner.

Mahjong Anyone?

Elena’s Gung Gung (Cantonese for grandfather) called the girls over to the mahjong table for a quick lesson, before long, the rhythmic and exciting sounds their little hands shuffling the tiles could be heard throughout the house.  My father was impressed when the girls, who all had taken Mandarin in school, started reading and identifying the Chinese characters on the flower tiles.

Calligraphy Workshop

Meredith Langer of Merely Mere put together a mini workshop on hand lettering outside at Promise Ridge at blue hour. The girls first learned about script style and then spent the rest of the evening practicing with their own sumi ink, nib and pens.

Cake, Ice Cream and Truth or Dare?

In true old lady fashion, Elena and I made a Zebra Cake, a simple icebox cake that her Nana had introduced me to years ago, for her sweet bite. Instead of blow-out candles, she elected to use one of the Roman candles I brought home from a Paris grocery store a couple years back. Later into the night, during an obligatory game of Truth or Dare, Elena was dared to ask me if they could all have another serving of ice cream. I guess she has a little way to go to be a true old lady--old ladies don’t ask permission.


Zebra Cake

1 box Nabisco brand chocolate wafer cookies

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

Vanilla, grand mariner, rum to taste (optional)

Make the whipped cream: Add sugar to cream and hand whip until sugar is dissolved. Once soft peaks are formed, carefully fold in vanilla or other cordial to taste.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap over a cookie sheet

Smear a dollop of whipped cream on to the chocolate wafers and stack until you have a black and white striped log across the cookie sheet. Spread the remaining whipped cream on the outside of the cookie cake. Pull up the edges of the plastic wrap and cover tightly. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Cut 1” thick in diagonal pieces, make a wish, serve.

Alisa TonggComment