Friday, January 29, 2010

A Dog, A Girl, and a Fake Cupcake

Because I needed a photo for the new blog, I decided to have Bo take a new one. And then, I thought, hey, I should upload the large version for you to see. Plus, I know how much you love some oddball poses of Rory, right?

Everyone say treeeeeats!

She makes me laugh. A lot.

(Ok, so I miiiiight have photoshopped the color of the cupcake topper. The red was just too red for the photo. So, you know. Engineering degree not for naught.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Anthro Adoration

I found this little surprise in my mailbox last night.  A padded envelope, addressed in a cute squiggly pale pink border.

Oh, good heavens!  It's from Anthropologie!  But but but...I didn't order anything.  And it says it's "Especially For" me...?

OHDEARGODSQUEALING&JUMPINGUP&DOWN!  Anthro sent me an early birthday card!!!!  And in true Anthro style, it's freaking adorable.  Full of the sweetest details and yet somehow still simple and clean.  If you zoom the photo, you'll see that they're sending me birthday wishes in the form of 15% off during my birthday month.  Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

And And And And And, that candle is actually a necklace!  Seriously?!  Again - definitely zoom to read the text details on the back.  Just. Too. Sweet.

note i:  If you're wondering how the heck Anthro knew my birthday, it's because I let a girl at the store counter talk me into signing up for their membership card.  So far, the only thing I've understood about it is that it's free and keeps track of your purchases so that you don't have to keep the receipts.  Beyond that, I had no clue.  

note ii:  This so coulda been next week's Tuesday Twee fodder, but you really can't expect me to have waited another 6 whole days to post it.  I would've self-combust by then.

note iii:  Yikes, I can't believe this whole week has been about cupcakes.  I truly apologize for that.  But don't think for a second that you get to blame me for any sudden cupcake-induced weight gain or sugar comas.  Nu uh.  You're on your own.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Le Cupcake Sigh

Way, way back in the day, I wrote about my dreams - nay, plans - to visit some local cupcake shops.  Well, last night, I finally did it.  We phoned in an order of 6 cupcakes to Heavenly Cupcake, drove down to the Gaslamp to pick them up, then sped home to try them all out. 

The verdict?  Yawn.

I'm really sad about this.  All the buildup, all the pining, all the yearning, all the wonderment.  I'm starting to think that maybe I'm not a cupcake fan after all?  This doesn't seem even remotely logical considering that my favorite food is cake with frosting.  And hello - what girl doesn't swoon over anything in miniature?  Cupcakes should be an easy win.  They really should be. 

Now I'm realizing why a couple of people have asked me if I do cupcakes for weddings.  And as such, I've now got my finger pressed on Buy for some cupcake cookbooks on Amazon.  I'll definitely be reporting my findings.

Six whole cupcakes to try.

Mr. Vanilla With Caramel*

Madam Red Velvet

Little Pumpkin Spice

Senor Signature de la Shop
(Vanilla cake with orange and chocolate, topped with chocolate frosting.)
(I only purchased this because it was their signature.  Otherwise, ewww.)

La La Carrot Cake

Coconut Kid

Bo and I tasted and then rated each one, just so you'd know what we thought of each.  In the end - basically, if the cupcake had cream cheese frosting, we liked it better than the rest.  Otherwise, it was Meh City.

We both made icky faces after biting into the orange thing.  Nasty!
The Vanilla Caramel was white cake with a teeny drizzle of caramel sauce.

Once again, I was disappointed by Red Velvet.
Bo's immediate response to the Pumpkin: "Yours is better."  (We love him.)

I tried the coconut 4 times to see if it was made with flavoring.  Pretty sure it was.
We both liked the carrot best.  The cake was moister, plus it had the cream cheese frosting.

* These names are totally my own.  I was too broken-hearted to go back to the shop for their given names.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Twee: A Birthday Double-Take

Oh weeee!  A second twee post today!  But, today is our beloved Sidenote's birthday, so I coerced Rory to help me wish her a fabulous day.

I wish that I could say it's because of my mad camera skills that I was able to capture that last photo.  But, I didn't even know I'd caught her tongue out until I uploaded it to my laptop.  And then I laughed until I died.

Tuesday Twee: The Whole Set

You might remember - a couple of weeks ago, my Twee post was about a superpritty necklace given to me by Sidenote.  It looks like this, right?

Well!  My friend, Angela, here in San Diego got me this little gift for Christmas.  And the funny thing is that she bought my gift months ago.  Like, what are the odds?!

Now, it's one big happy cupcake family.  We love.  We love so, so much.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Yummy New Venture

You know me.  I can't sit still to save my life.  So, I went and joined up with a group of fabulous girls to start a new cooking blog.  Let the squealing commence...NOW!  Wooo!  I'm just so, so excited!  Ok, so what I'll be doing is my typical Cooking with Sara kinds of entries, but over there on the new blog, AND I'll be posting them every Friday.   So, every Friday, you'll find some photos here (out-takes, anyone?) with a link to the new blog so that you can go snatch up the recipe.  I'll definitely be polling you for ideas. 


Welcome to From Blah to Ta-daa:
With all the food influences in the world today, it's amazing that we are still making the same old suppers for our families and friends. From the Food Network to great magazines like Taste of Home and Cooking Light (or a million others), there are so many choices out there to be sampled and served.

How many of you bookmark recipes online or tear out great sounding dishes, but once in the grocery store still migrate to your normal shopping list items?

It's time for a change! It's time to take your supper and turn it on its head. It's time for.....


I am going to be working with a group of 6 women bloggers in the hopes of breaking out of the staple of stale suppers.

We want to challenge the same old standards that we have created for ourselves! We will be pulling out our cookbooks, dusting off our creativity and getting busy in the kitchen.

We will give you recipes, ideas, and inspiration all while blogging about the trials and tribulations of learning new techniques for getting dinner on the table.

And each week we will host a MckLinky blog hop for you to share your recipe posts! We are looking for some recipes to feature in February, so if you have any delicious recipes that you think we should see -- Link Up Below!!

I hope that you will join us on our yummy journey to sensational suppers!

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Oompa loompas don't sing in heaven. They tidy up the clouds."

"You can't be a pirate if you haven't got a beard. I said so. MY boat, MY rules."

"You can stop clapping now if you want. Really. You'll need your energy for cheering me later. Shhhhhhhh. shhhhhhhh."

"Don't... Don't put the noodles and the dumplings together in the boat. They'll fight! The noodles are bullies. Poor dumplings."
"I haven't put on weight. Your eyes are fat."
"Don't leave the duck there. It's totally irresponsible. Put it on the swing, it'll have much more fun."

HAAAAAAAAAAAAA, just sooooo random!
These musings are all from the site Sleep Talkin Man.  The premise is that the husband says some really crackhead things in his sleep; things he'd never ever say awake.  His wife thought they were so hilarious that she started recording them so that she could post them on their blog the next morning.  I'll warn ya - the things he says are a little rated R, but oh goodness, some of the stuff he says is just so random-funny!!

Speaking of Tuckered..

I'm flipping exhausted.  And that's why I haven't posted all week, boooooo hissssss!

I do still have things to share (I got to see SidenoteCal again!), but I just feel the opposite of interesting when I finally sit down to muster up an entry.  I promise I'll get you filled in soon.  Really.  For reals.  And I have at least 2 biggie items to blab about. 

Until then, I'm once again trying to earn your love with a photo.  Enjoy!

This is me and Sidenote in November, when I visited her in Minnesota.  Not only is she disgustingly photogenic, but she's a pro at self-photos too. 

Friday, January 15, 2010


I'm dogsitting, and the new guy is a puppy still.  So, in our small living room, it goes from Crazy Dog Mayhem to Cute Snoozy Puppies in 4 seconds flat.

Cute Snoozy Puppies:

Crazy Dog Mayhem:

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Hey!  I'm one of those!!

How is it that I'm just now learning about this word?

One site I found listed the word's usage as during the years 1656 to 1658.  The poor little thing was just some new slang for a few years and then kaput! gone.  I vote we bring it back, baby.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helping out Haiti

Way back in the day, Chiml and I used to buy our atonement for sins by speedy-quick pulling up the Red Cross website and donating money.  Oh yes, I've been forgiven for terrible snide remarks by money sent to tsunamis and ravaged countries.  And I used to grumble that every time I did something bad, I had to re-enter all my payment information on the site.  So, I might have been missing the point - just a little - about the process of being forgiven, but I felt that I'd be more inclined to send money for even my small offenses if it were easier to send over my cash.

Well, the Red Cross is on to me and my sinning ways.  Now you can text donations to them.  Yes, text.  You send a text and it replies back, asking you to confirm a $10 donation.  The $10 is added to your next month's cell phone bill, all easy peasy.  You can donate $30 max per account, and you can even reply back to get daily text message Haiti Relief Alerts.  Love it!!  I haven't done anything bad yet today, but I already sent my $10 on over.  You never know when I just might slip up and need some forgiveness at the ready.

Important Info:

Send a text message with the word "HAITI" to the number 90999. 

It will reply back, asking you to confirm the donation by replying with "YES."

You can then reply with another "YES" to get daily Haiti Relief Alerts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Sarandipity Giveaway

Alrighty!  As promised, I'm doing a Sarandipity Sweets giveaway - right here and now!  The details are few, because I'm pretty sure we'd all rather see pretty photos than read lots of tiny little fine print

Drumroll, please:

2 lucky people will each receive a box of Sarandipity Sweets* Cupcake Chocolates.  A box exactly like this one:

(Because the first winners of my last drawing never responded, we're doing an opt-in version this time.)

To be eligible, you need to be a Facebook Fan of Sarandipity, and then leave me a comment here on this blog.  And in your comment, please make sure that your email or blog or name is linked so that I can contact you!!

NOTE:  If you're getting a red error message with your comment, just hit the Post Comment button again.  The second time will go through.  Sorry for that screwup!!!

The drawing will be held on Friday, January 15 at 8am PST.

And...that's it!  Good luck! 

Oh, one more thing - these little puppies freeze awesomely, so if you win, you can pop them into the freezer to save and gift to someone for Valentine's Day.

* No idea what Sarandipity is?  It's my little side business, baking and shipping custom treats all over the country.  You can visit my shop for more info!

UPDATE:  We have winners!!!

So that means a big congratulations to #37 - slk  and to #18 - Yani! I'll email both of you this morning to get shipping information from you.

Thanks for playing along, everyone!  I'll definitely be doing more giveaways in the near future!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lil Bitty Time Sinks

I know that my life is getting back to normal when I start doing batches of cupcake-shaped things again.  Thankfully, it'll be another 9 months before I have to start thinking about pumpkins, ghosts, turkeys, snowmen, or penguins on sticks.  b'BYE, little cakey creatures that cause me a level of stress that's proportionate to your level of cuteness.  Onward to new projects, I say!

Which leads into this post (which is high on photo resolution and low on content).  I'm just now trying to scrape up all the ideas that have been bouncing around in my head over the past few months.  And if you've emailed me for a special request, I'm super duper sorry that I haven't yet replied!!  I suck, and I'll put that in writing.  Anyway, here's a preview of one of the many Sarandipity tasks on my list.  My goal is to make another batch of these and get them photographed, so that I can get the item posted in my shop.  After that, I'll be whipping up the Valentine's-y ideas I have (honestly, can't wait!).  And after that?  Items for my special gluten-free pals.  I've been neglecting you for months, and it's high time I give you a little love.

Honest opinion - What do you guys think?  Cute?  More grownup than the kind with sticks?  Less fun than the kind with sticks? 

There comes a point when I've been staring at them for far too long, and they start to morph all not-cute in my screwball perception. 

p.s. It was a fun accident that the little buggers are color-coordinated to match my blog. Anyone want to guess my favorite colors? Ha! :)

p.p.s.  This may or may not be a thinly veiled hint to the Sarandipity Fan giveaway I posted about earlier this week.  But you didn't hear it from me.  Shhhhhhh.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday Twee: Charmed

Remember, way back, when I visited Sidenote Cal in Minnesota?
The sweetest girl had a present for me when I arrived.
A present that couldn't have been more perfect.

A present that I now wear almost every single day.
The very definition of twee, indeed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Gooey Caramel Corn

The other night I made the mistake of being all braggy and gloaty on Facebook and posted that I was eating warm gooey caramel corn on the couch.  And then I felt bad from the comments my girls made and decided to go ahead and post the how-to.  Just like the brownies, this recipe is easy, really quick, and uses ingredients that aren't too crazy.  There just isn't a reason not to whip it up whenever it's chilly outside and you feel like parking yourself on the couch all night.  It's gooey and sticky and makes strings like mozzarella on pizza.  I dare you to make it and not devour the entire bowl before it even cools.

Now, up until this morning, I'd only ever made non-microwave popcorn using an old school air popper.  I got mine at a thrift store for $3, but I hesitated sharing this how-to because hello - who but me owns an air popper?  (Or a cotton candy maker, for that matter, but I digress.)  But my Facebook girls reassured me that it's easypeasylemonsqueezie to make stovetop popcorn, so I decided to give it a whirl.  Hurrah for learning something new!  I'm pretty sure that my air popper is now destined for the giant Goodwill pile growing in my garage.

Gooey Caramel Corn
1/3 c. popcorn kernels*
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
12 large marshmallows
approx. 2 Tbsp. oil (peanut is best, canola is fine)

Heat the oil in a tall pot (a heavy bottom helps), over medium high for about a minute.  Pour the popcorn kernels in and cover with a lid.  Life the pot off the burner, and give it a good swirl to coat the kernels with oil.  Place back on burner, and tilt the lid just enough to allow steam to vent.  Kernels should begin to pop after about a minute.  Swirl the pot once more and then allow the kernels to finish popping.  Process should take about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat when approx. 2 seconds elapse between pops.  Pour into a large heat-safe bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-low heat.  Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved.  Add in the marshmallows and stir (a silicone spatula scraper works best) until melted and smooth.  Be careful to not let the mixture come to a boil.  Working quickly, pour the hot caramel mixture over the popcorn and fold it in until all the popcorn is coated.  I'd tell you to let it cool before eating, but I'd be a total hypocrite.  I'd also tell you that leaving it out on the counter overnight in an uncovered bowl won't taste any good the next morning, but I'd be a total liar.

* Note:  If you can't find popcorn kernels in your regular grocery store, check one that has a large bulk section.

The ingredient lineup:

Crucial: Tall pot with a lid.

This.  Is too much oil.  I didn't bother measuring for my first batch, and it turned out a little oily.

This.  Is the right amount.  You totally can't see anything, I know.  You basically just need enough oil to lightly coat the kernels.  I threw in 2 tablespoons of oil for our 1/3 cup popcorn, and it was fine.  I could've even used a smidge less.

It doesn't look like much, but it totally makes real live popcorn.  Who knew!

Tilt the lid just a smidge so that steam can vent.  But be careful when it starts popping, because hot oil splatters are Danger.


Butter in the pot, all melty-like.

Once the brown sugar is mixed in, drop in your marshmallows.

The marshmallows will puff up some while they heat.  Just stir occasionally and they'll melt down.  I suppose you could opt do the caramel sauce in the microwave, the same way you might for Rice Krispy Treats.  But with all the opening the microwave, taking out the bowl, stirring, putting it back in the microwave, and shutting the door, it just seems sooo much easier to put it on the stove with a heat-safe spatula.

All melted.  Avoid the boiling bubbles.  If you get the mixture too hot (see: soft crack or even hard crack stage), the finished caramel corn will be more crunchy and less chewy.  And we demand chewy.

Action Shot No. 1.  I'll have you know that because my free intern (read: Bo) was gone, I was trying to pour molten hot caramel sauce with my left hand while photo-ing with my right.

Action Shot No. 2.  Blurry because. Stirring. With LEFT hand.  And photo-ing with the RIGHT.  But it does make me look all cool and actiony, so we'll take it.

Mmmmm.  Remember those gooey strings I mentioned earlier?  Why!  They there be!

Double Mmmmm...

You really probably need to click-zoom for a better look.  Go on!