Published on March 7th, 2012


Let’s Have a PARTY!


Angelic “Jumpster” hard at work

Next Sunday is the last class for my dear “Jumpsters” (my ten, too-too-cute 4-6 yr. olds) so I wanted to have a little “party”. A simple order in the U.S. – one trip to Target would get me party hats ‘n such, and I could bake my own cupcakes and buy a can of frosting and sprinkles to let the kids frost their own cupcakes.

Ah but here in this (ever affectionately dubbed) g-forsaken rice paddy in Southeast Asia – tracking down such simple Western things as party supplies is a whole ‘nuther ballgame.  Hang and I agreed that a stop at “Tous Les Jours” (a yummers chain of bakeries on most every corner here in HCMC – with delicacies to rival any Western bakery) would likely yield the plain cupcakes, but the frosting?  Uh, that might prove a bit more elusive.

So we biked the half mile (in the sweltering, repeat: S.W.E.L.T.E.R.I.N.G. heat that HCMC is presently enjoying) to Tous Les Jours, and…

Well yes, they had two different semi-promising cupcakes that might do:  A plain sugar cupcake (albeit with a crumbly streusel topping that would likely make frosting it by a 5 yr. old a tad difficult, nay a crumbly mess) or a plain top “Cheese” cupcake which (following an effusive consult in splattered Vietnamese between Hang and the baker) they assured me was actually quite “sweet”.  Not sure “cheese” would prove a hit for a party for 5 yr. olds, nonetheless, I decided I’d come back on Friday to order a dozen for pickup Saturday night after my Seniors class at ILA.

But the BEST bit of serendipity at Tous Les Jours was… on the way out I spied a slew of PARTY HATS and (wait for it – it gets even better!) packages of those little curly birthday blow horns!!!  At a buck apiece for the hats (simply thin cardboard with a bit of elastic thread) buying 10 of them gave me pause, but hey – they had Micky and Mini Mouse on them, as well as Winnie the Pooh.  Besides, it wasn’t as if I could run across the street (or even town, or… for that matter across the COUNTRY) to comparison shop at Walmart or K-mart.  So 10 cute party hats along with 2 packages of horns fell swiftly into my bag.

But the real dilemma was… what to do about the frosting?  Sure I could probably get the bakery to frost the cupcakes.  But I was determined to have the KIDS frost them – much more fun, yes?

But… where on earth might we find a can of ready-made frosting?  Even Hang didn’t have a clue.  But we both decided that surely we could somehow make our own frosting, with… hopefully some cream cheese (yeah, uh huh, Philadelphia Cream Cheese here in a rice-paddy).  Then there was the dilemma of coloring it (uh huh, food coloring, in neat little squeeze bottles, just like in Seattle, right), and/or colored sugar to sprinkle on white frosting (dream on…).

Nonetheless, like a valient soldier, I marched off to the nearest large grocery store to see what I could find (Hang had to go, so I was now on my own uh, “frosting?”  “food coloring?”  uh, how do you say “cream cheese” in Vietnamese???)

The good news:  I found a small bottle of waaaaay cool bitsy candies (we’re talkin’ itty bitty bananas, oranges, apples, etc.)  Especially perfect for my Jumpsters ‘cuz we’ve been studying “How many bananas?, apples?” etc. for weeks now.  And that eliminated the (no doubt futile) search for food coloring or fiddling with strawberry juice for pink, tea for green, etc. as Hang had suggested.  YAY!  Major score on the sprinkles front!

But there was still that elusive frosting…  Studying the cheese section intently was most disappointing.  Tons of “Laughing Cow” plus Emmental, Gouda, Camembert and Brie (ah, gotta love those French colonists!)  The Cheerful Cow miiiight work, but I had serious doubts (think: rubbery/gummy frosting).  In any case, nothing else that resembled the texture of cream cheese (save for tofu, but that was just plain silly.)  Then I spotted it…

An aerosol can of WHIPPED CREAM!!!

Woo-hoo!  Whipped cream might work.  The kids could squeeze there own on their cupcake, and then we could sprinkle it with the bitty colored candies.  The whipped cream was nearly 6 bucks, but hey – one doesn’t scrimp on munitions supplies, yes?

Still, I was a little worried about the whipped cream and how it would work on the cupcakes, the kids squeezing the nozzle (I mean, with 10 active 5 yr. olds bouncing about, there’s a good chance someone would misdirect the nozzle and…)

So I bought just the sprinkles and headed to a second larger grocery store, and there I found…

OMG, could it be?  Could it possibly be???

A small jar of (not a tub mind you, and not good ol’ “Philadelphia” but still…) CREAM CHEESE!!!

So with that, plus a bit of butter (a.k.a. “beurre” here in this ex-French colony) and sugar (alas, no fine confectioners’ sugar, but the finest granulated sugar I could find), plus a spot of milk should I need to thin it…

All RIGHT – we’re ready to PAAAAARTY!

And to make the deal even sweeter – as I was walking to the checkout stations I passed an entire rack filled with – packaged plain ol’ CUPCAKES!  Indeed, not the delectiables from Tous Les Jours, but 2 to a package, and… precisely 6 packages just sitting there with my name on them!  Needless to say I swept them into my cart, and they’re now tucked into my freezer awaiting the party on Sunday.

I’ve not yet tried to actually mix up the frosting, but tune in next week to see how the party turns out.  I’ve got lots of fun songs and games to play, and I plan on taking a class photo, along w/ a bunch of other pics to make a collage to send to the little ones’ parents.

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

5 Responses to Let’s Have a PARTY!

  1. Amy says:

    Stumbling on your blog today. Love it! And can’t wait to see pics! 🙂

  2. TravelnLass says:

    @Anonymous: Yes, the party was a big hit – stay tuned for pics.

  3. TravelnLass says:

    Yes @Dani, I discovered those shops on Ham Nghi shortly after pecking the post. Indeed, I was giddy with all the Western foods! And yes, yes, I got both the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar there for my frosting. Not cheap mind you, but the frosting turned out yummers!

  4. Anonymous says:

    So gracious of you to invest a little of your own money to put a smile on the kid’s faces. I’m sure it will be blast!

  5. Dani says:

    Hi! If you are ever stuck for some western products there are 2 “import” supermarkets on Ham Nghi. They have cream cheese (philly!) AND Betty crocker ready made frosting! There are all sorts of hard to find things there. Not cheap but sometimes when you need Cheerio’s you just need Cheerios!

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