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Smith's Bakeries champagne cupcakes make every birthday — even one on July 4 — a little bit better.

I don't really like July 4. Lest patriotic citizens throw this column down in disgust, it should be noted that the popular national holiday is also my birthday.

Like other holiday babies (Christmas and New Year's Eve) can attest, it's a raw deal in the birthday lottery. Everybody already has plans -- and they don't necessarily involve you.

With age has come some wisdom (and a bit less preciousness about birthdays), so it's easier to enjoy the day just like everyone else. Helping ease this transition is birthday cake. In Bakersfield, Smith's was always the best place to get a cake, specifically its champagne cake.

The confection, white cake frosted lightly and covered in white chocolate or chocolate shavings, reaches the next level of decadent divinity with its custardly inner core. Even the most lackluster birthday of my youth was made better by the knowledge the day would end with champagne cake.

Now since I don't need a cake to feed an entire party of people, Smith's still has the answer with the champagne cupcakes, all the flavor in a conveniently portable package. The cupcakes are much easier to share than the usual cake, which starts to come apart slightly the longer it stays out of the fridge.

Some people say the cupcake craze is over, but these confections should be good for keeping some time on the clock.


Again, since today is my birthday, I have a long history with all the July 4 trappings, including fireworks. Having burned myself once with a sparkler, I was not always the biggest proponent of the street display (or the illegal bottle rockets going off in other cul-de-sacs in northeast Bakersfield).

That's why it's exciting to have the return of a fireworks show at Bakersfield College Memorial Stadium. If we didn't stick with the backyard show provided by the Bakersfield Country Club (we were right across 178 from the golf course), we could look further west to watch the BC display from a distance.

(The Park at River Walk also has a fireworks show tonight, but I'm an eastside girl.)

Although not necessarily advocating not paying to sit for the show -- I, of course, have a birthday dispensation -- the I Love America Independence Day Liberty Festival and Freedom Celebration should put on quite a show inside the stadium and beyond it.

And that's how Bakersfield should celebrate our nation's birth -- with a bang. My birthday wish is that people skip the illegal fireworks and keep their firearms holstered.