My very thoughtful husband wanted to get me a special birthday gift this year. He knows that baking yummy confections is a passion of mine, and he has watched me mix cake after cake with the same little handheld Krups mixer since before we were married. For years he has heard me say that I really should get a nice Kitchen Aid Mixer, especially now that they come in such cool colors and with so many magical attachment thingies, but for some reason I just never have made the leap. So as a birthday surprise, he ordered for me the Mercedes Benz of all mixers. It was the queen mother of them all; an industrial grade Kitchen Aid Mixer complete with all the attachments known to man. He proudly presented it to me with great gusto, for the thing weighs a ton. I was flabbergasted, not at my husband’s thoughtful generosity, but because this thing was huge, very sophisticated and probably equally as expensive. Tom always wants me to have the very best and this gift was no exception. But this thing, well, it was intimidating to say the least and when I finally got it unpacked, it was too large for any counter, drawer or shelf in my kitchen. Truly, I could open a small bakery with this bad boy. I wanted to be excited about it, but it just seemed a little too….too….everything. And also, we had only just met. We didn’t know each other at all. Conversely, Little Krups and I, well, what can I say? We are very comfortable with each other having met twenty five years ago in the basement section of Macy’s New York. Little Krups was all I could afford at the time, but man oh man have we made a good marriage of it. She has been with me through six different addresses, two churches, countless cookie swaps, weddings, funerals, cake auctions, book club dinners, cocktail parties, supper clubs, birthday celebrations, baptisms, family reunions and a many of my basic feelingsorryforselfsobake nights. Little Krups has seen me at my best and my worst. She has seen me spread my tail feathers with Ginger Ford’s Caramel Cake recipe and she has seen me, through the window, picking figs in my yard, knowing that in just a few minutes she would be churning them into a silky custard bound for the ice cream freezer. She has seen me cast shame Aunt Flora’s Pumpkin Bread recipe by confusing baking soda for baking powder, and she has whirred sugar and eggs into a hundred buttermilk pies. Little Krups has fought like the little engine that could to cream butters that I had forgotten to soften ahead of time. She has annually celebrated Mardi Gras for weeks by conjuring praline filled King Cakes day after day so that friends and neighbors could celebrate the season. She was with me when together we guided my father through his one and only pound cake attempt. We watched him turn around to look at the television while he was mixing. Unaccustomed to baking techniques, as he turned, he pulled Little Krups out of the batter just enough so that her spinning legs hosed down the entire room with butter, flour, sugar, vanilla and eggs. My father and I laughed and laughed as we licked batter from our hands and arms, and Little Krups was right there with us, dancing with all her heart. She infused me with courage as I made my first blueberry cheesecake for Wilson’s christening party and my first meringue for crowning a banana pudding taken to Red’s funeral gathering. She has artfully melded dough for scones at annual Christmas Teas and she has remained calm as I taught tiny hands how to hold her and feel the texture of an angel food cake batter before it is puffed to life at 350’ in an ungreased tube pan for 45 minutes. She persevered to cream the perfect frosting for Chris’s birthday cake and stood proud, watching, as I adorned it with candied violets from France. Like me, she now gets overheated more easily than she used to and she doesn’t seem to have quite the strength she once did. Using her now hurts my right shoulder a little but, together, we still get the job done. So I have to admit that the thought of replacing her with a bigger, newer, grander counterpart made me a little…well, a little sad to be honest. So I sent Kitchen Aid Big Boy back to where he came from for, as I said, he would not fit on the counter. He will be happier in a great big, brand new industrial style kitchen anyway. That’s the truth. My husband felt bad because it didn’t work out, but he still wants me to find a nice new one that will fit the counter and my needs. And I will. His treat. I will. But I will never simply toss Little Krups out of my life. One day, when I discover a young person who bakes with a passion, and only from scratch, I will turn Little Krups over to his or her care. Conditionally, it will have to be someone who is more intrigued by the history of LK’s endeavors than by her size and horsepower. When that day comes, I will also bequeath this person a few recipes. Maude’s Pound Cake, Muggie’s Double Layer Cheese Cake, Ginger’s Caramel Cake, Grandma Haisty’s Coconut Cake and my favorite….King Cake. Until then, I will consider flirting with a new small Kitchen Aid Mixer, and I will let Little Krups get a little more rest. She can still do the twist with me and my chantilly creams, meringues and pancakes, but she has done her duty on the heavy lifting. No more elastic bread dough or caramels for her. She can take it a bit easy now, but man oh man, what a friend she has been.