Ladybug Garden Cupcakes

Nothing is more fun than making the cake for a single-digit birthday party.  You have the excuse (the encouragement, really) to go crazy with frosting, food coloring, candy, marshmallows, and Oreo products.  It doesn’t happen too often for me, but when it does I take full advantage of it.

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Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

I don’t think I need to explain the inspiration behind these cupcakes.  The squiggle alone is a dead giveaway.

The Hostess version we are all familiar with is arguably one of America’s most popular snack cakes (kissing cousins with the other Hostess favorite, the Twinkie).  While the Hostess chocolate cupcake has been around since 1919, it wasn’t until 1950 that they added the cream filling and signature squiggle, with its exactly seven loops. 

Don’t count mine…I just did the best I could. 

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Merry Mini Cupcakes

Merry Mini Cupcakes

I am very fortunate have a Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery on the first floor of my work building, for 2 reasons:

  1. Their Coffee Club Card program.  Every year I buy my card, and then it’s good for unlimited coffee, tea, and soda fountain beverages for the rest of the year.  I figure at the rate I drink coffee, it pretty much pays for itself by March.
  2. Their great staff.  Every morning day they make getting coffee an enjoyable experience.  I used to work with hungry people and caffeine crazy people so I know how much fun their job isn’t.  I can honestly tell you I am sad when one of them quits and I didn’t get to say goodbye (I am talking to you Helen, Amanda, and Jess). 

When I learned that one of the managers was about to turn the same age as me, I thought it would be nice to make him something…since I like all the company at this age I can get.

I went with some festive mini cupcakes.  Vanilla cake was topped with vanilla buttercream.  Have I mentioned I don’t like chocolate?

For fun I filled them first with a teeny bit of seedless raspberry jam.

I thought it provided a nice little bit of juicy sweetness in the midst of all that smooth, creamy vanilla sweetness.

The mini red polka dot and gingham (not pictured) wrappers are also awesome, and came from The Bakers Confections on Etsy.  Visit them for all of your cupcake supply needs – they are terrific, and are located in Maine. 

Another point for New England!

I forgot to photograph an ornament with the one cupcake I allowed myself before I ate it (oops), so no ornament today…but I knew I could turn to Etsy for today’s Cup of Cheer.

Make that three cups.  Two for Christmas and one for me.

1.  I love these napkins.  Period.

Screen Printed Organic Cotton Merry Christmas Cloth Napkins from ohlittlerabbit, $20

2.  This vintage card is so hilarious and dated, but I love it, and I love the way the woman’s legs are stretched towards the man.  Speaking volumes with limbs only.  And oh yeah, Merry Christmas.

1930’s Cigarette Christmas Holiday Card from takingshape, $4

3.  I basically want everything for sale at jimboart.  Look at this bear.  He smells cakes and he just wants a little slice.  He is skin and bones! 

Bear Smells Cake Hand Painted Side Plate from jimbobart, $37.50

How’s your holiday shopping coming?  I need to kick mine into some serious high gear.  I haven’t even started my cards.  Maybe tonight will be the night I make THE LIST.  Do you go off a list or buy as you see?  Do you shop online or haul yourself to the stores?  Both?

Help me help you help me!

Fall Collection

Pumpkin spice cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, with handmade chocolate leaves for garnish.  One of my favorite cupcake projects from last year.

Vintage Pyrex Autumn Harvest Mixing Bowl Set from BlueHouseVintage on Etsy.  I don’t need any more bowls.  I can only look. 

From my vintage Mom Magazine collection.  I guess women in the 60’s loved olive-green and the feeling of a whole lotta linoleum under their feet.

From the same collection, a 1964 goldenrod textured coat.  I want this, but I also want the matching gloves, and maybe even the hat.

John Derian for Target Feathers Serving Tray.  For under $15 I can easily talk myself into this.

A Dozen Eggs  Fall Foliage cookie collection.  Their cookies are charming and delicious.  Of course, I am also partial to those acorns.

New Hampshire Plyboo Cutting Board from AHeirloom on Etsy.  It’s not Massachusetts, but NH is my birth state.  Cutting boards hold warm, crusty loaves of bread…preferably next to hot pots of soup.

Nothing smells or tastes like fall like pumpkin.  One-Pie canning company is based in West Paris, Maine, and they are so amazing they don’t even have a website.  I couldn’t find any information on them at all on the internet other than their address and phone number.  What year is this?  Despite being unable to report on their history, this makes me love One-Pie more than ever.  I bet the photo of that pie on the label was taken before WWII. 

It also looks like there is another shortage of canned pumpkin this year, so stock up when you see it!

I have an unusual concoction cooling in my kitchen right now, and Fluff Fest is this weekend, so I promise there will be some on-point entries coming up.

Happy first day of Fall!

Mocha Love

Like many of you, I love my coffee.  My romance with coffee deepened from flirting to IN A RELATIONSHIP in 2004 when I moved to Edinburgh for 6 months and got a job at a cafe. I drank cup, after cup, after cup and infused my bloodstream with sweet, delicious caffeine.  It’s been a pleasant part of my day ever since.

Notice how I didn’t say “morning”?  I don’t restrict coffee to one part of the day.

Another favorite concoction at the cafe was a Mocha.  This was basically a latte with a generous ladle of warmed chocolate, topped with whipped cream.  I am not so into chocolate, but the coffee and chocolate union is something else. Something I wanted to taste yesterday, on top of a cupcake.

Any combination of chocolate and coffee is often classified as “mocha”.  The name comes from the Red Sea coastal town of Mocha, Yemen – which was a dominant exporter of coffee from the 15th to 17th centuries.  These coffees had a chocolate-y taste, so mocha became a term for anything that combined the two flavors.

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday and I spent it with him at Rye Beach on the NH coast.  Per recent tradition, I also made his birthday cupcakes.  This year I made shortcut (box mix) vanilla cupcakes with seedless raspberry jam filling and mocha buttercream frosting.

(PS…that is John’s man-hand, not mine)

The frosting was a stick of soft butter mixed with around 6 teaspoons of black coffee and a couple of heaped teaspoons of dutch cocoa…and then I added confectionary sugar until it was the consistency I wanted.  This is how you make frosting at the beach with no mixer and no idea where the measuring cups or spoons are…basically frosting is foolproof if you stop often to stick your finger in to taste it…which I did.  A lot.

Happy Birthday, Dad!