I was in Paris the past week and unfortunately couldn’t get around to  “les cupcakes de Chloe“. So on arriving home, I couldn’t wait to bake a cupcake to satisfy that lust for a sweet, icing topped helping. Of course mine isn’t even close to Chloe’s, but it is still delicious. I am done now. For quite some time.

While taking the metro to and fro(urgh) I made use of the time, staring at people, thinking and wondering about them. Making up stories about them. Scribbling notes and drawings in my notebook. Who they are, what they do, where they come from, their life stories. How they look. First impressions. Based on what we see and hear and feel.

A recipe from Cupcakes, cookies and macarons by Marabout chef.


  • I prefer baking mini cupcakes, since the big ones are too much for one helping. And if you like a second, it still doesn’t make one full cupcake…leaving you with no guilt for this indulgement!
  • OR bake different sizes of cupcakes for an interest on the cake platter. In which case you will bake the different sizes at different times..the smaller the cupcake the quicker the baking time.
  • The cranberries can be left out.
  • Use lemon or lime juice and lemon zest instead of orange juice and zest.
  • Add a tablespoon of ricotta or mascarpone in the butter icing sugar
  • For lighter cupcakes, omit the butter icing sugar and simply sprinkle the cupcake with some sifted icing sugar.
  • Serve with fresh fruits like strawberries and a coulis, or caramelized orange slices and an orange coulis.

First impressions. That instinctive first thought or opinion about something or someone. How many times have you said just after meeting someone…”I like him, he seems nice”, or I don’t think I like her, there is just something about her…”  A house, a school, a country, new neighbours, a restaurant… That first impression is something a “con artist” relies on to entrap his victims. It is that “thing” that makes you stare at a person walking into a room with a certain presence…that makes you keep quiet when a deep voice  speaks on the other side of the room.

I have had an occasion where the vegetable man at the market asked me whether I’m a historian. On my surprised: “why?”,   he pointed at my handbag and the pencil holding my hair up. To him, I had the look and manner of an historian, with my Indiana Jones leather bag and pencil in my hair(which I used to keep my hair from falling into my painting back at home..).

Another time we lived in SC and I used to visit Books a million close by early some mornings to get some drawing and writing done in a corner with a coffee. One day a woman approached me, sat down next to me and started chatting. I’ve seen her often as well as many other regulars, but they never approached me, thinking I was working with all the books and paper around me. It turned out that they all had their impression too…wondering  who I was, where I was from, wondering about my foreign accent,  my keeping to myself in a corner, my soft-spokennnes, ( I have a voice that just doesn’t carry!) Along with my dark hair and dark complexion, not fogetting the hereditary dark circles under my eyes, they decided I had to be Arabic.

Once I was reading a book in a coffee shop  while waiting for Hartman to arrive at the station. At some stage I burst out laughing for some funniness in the book.  A while later, a man sitting opposite me started speaking to me, fascinated by my laughing out loud all by myself, and asked me if I was a teacher revising a novel… I read with a pencil in hand, my reading glasses low on my nose and a little notebook on the side.

Hartman, in his university years, somewhat resembled a young Mick Jagger – very tall, very slender, sinewy, with thick long disorderly hair, constantly wearing his favourite thick old army coat, his grandfather’s hat and his guitar slung around his shouders.  My mother trusted him nothing!! Today, much older and wearing black woolen coats and hats,  Mick Jagger made way for a  Francois Mitterrand strictness and formality, leaving some  people with a slight apprehension to approach him.

First impressions. Truth…or deception…or a little bit of both…?

Truc et astuces de nos grands-méres:

To make raw onions esier digestable, cut in slices and leave to marinate a week in olive oil.

19 thoughts on “Orange and almond cupcakes and first impressions.

  1. Lots of food for thought 🙂

    First of all let’s start at the very beginning(It sounds like a song from my favorite Sound Of Music:)~

    I love small cupcakes..and had just this week thought of orange ones..orange cupcakes..orange muffins..orange cake~ Yours leave a very wonderful first impression.The stars and hearts.. are just what I like to see..
    Ils sont beaux Ronelle and I am sure delicious.

    I love your self portrait.I can’t believe how talented you are:)

    You’re a great looking family..(I know that’s hard to hear..it may not sound true..but look:) ad you will see I speak the truth:))

    The last photo is very cool:)

    First impressions.. I know ..

    Sometimes we are wrong..sometimes spot on..I too wonder about people when I am people watching..the older I get..I think..I hope life is good for you.
    It’s funny when I hear people say..did you see what she was wearing? Did you see how much weight she’s put on? Did you see her hair?
    Bla bla bla ..

    I think..I saw everything..and never thought like you.Thank goodness:)

    It is certain that for family it is different..we worry if things don’t look right etc..

    But for a stranger..I just wish them well.I usually find something attractive about most people..My husband often tells me..”Toi..tu trouves tout le monde beau..belle..”~ And so I do.
    Love this post as all your others:) Have a wonderful evening..


  2. Wow Ronell…….I agree with Monique….lots of food for thought! I loved reading this post! (….and of course I love the photographs as well!)

    Hmmm……I have had a lot of opinions and thoughts about people when I saw them the first time (and second or third time)…..some of them negative (I must admit)….but I don’t know if it is because I am getting older and/or more mature and wiser but I am trying (really trying) to see good and/or something beautiful in every person………(with some encouragement from my husband of course!)

    I love your self portrait Ronell! You have so much talent!



  3. I wonder how accurate the first impressions of the written word might be…?

    There are writers I would love to meet (Joanne Harris is one), some deceased with whom I fancy I might have formed a friendship…

    So much depends on our own presentation and on how we adapt with time.(like your Hartman from Jagger to Mitterand – that’s a big leap!)

    And there is another whose writing I have come to love, whose posts I look forward to. I’ll go before I become too saccharine, but I think you know who I mean. 😉


  4. What a lovely post Ronell! I too laughed out loud at the various perceptions people had of you! And love your description of Hartman!


  5. Very inspiring! I laughed when I read about your staring and people and thinking of their stories, because I do that too. Thank you.


  6. I wonder what peoples’ first impression of me is!? My impression of your cupcakes is that they look delicious, and I wish I could taste one. Incidentally, I’ve always been a huge fan of Mick Jagger.


  7. Your art is magnefique. Thank you for showing that art needn’t be only in a frame on a cold white wall, but added to recipes or whathaveyou. I aspire to do the same, thanks!


  8. Your art work is grand! I so love reading this lovely post!!

    Dear Ronelle,…your mini cakes look very tempting!

    A lovely written post, Ronelle!


  9. I often wonder about what people are thinking about and how they present themselves varies from how they truly feel.


  10. I too wonder about people more often than I like to admit. Ron often works in different States in the US( we live in Canada) and I always join him towards the end of his consult. As we drive through different counties I often wonder about the people that live in the homes ( some quite remote) , what do they do? how do they earn their living, is she a stay at home mom? Is she lonely? I can relate to what you wrote.
    The cupcakes are exquisite, the perfect mouthful. I haven’t made any since the boys were small, some 20 odd years ago, and prbably won’t get around to them until I get back home as I am on the tail end of a business trip with Ron.
    Ronelle, have I told you yet how I enjoy your posts? I fell as if you are a close old friend. You writng is very invitein. Cheers Rita


  11. Very interesting post! I do find myself looking at people and making up stories of who and what they are all about. I think there is some truth to first impressions.
    I wish you still lived in SC – just down the road from me here in NC! We could get together and study people over our sketchbooks and coffee. 🙂
    Love your beautiful cupcakes. Yum.
    …and Hartman does resemble Mick Jagger!


  12. From Mick Jagger to Francois Mitterand – you sure get around 🙂 A wonderful post – my mom and I always used to make up stories abotu people we saw when we travelled together. Reminds me of the Simon & Garfunkel song “America” – laughing on the bus, playing games with the faces, she said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy…


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