Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vacation - Seattle Leg . . . . .

Cooper's still taking advantage of our guilt over leaving him for a few days while we went on vacation....

"Cooper, you're not allowed at the kitchen table, get down!!"

"Who me...really?"

Here's just a few pictures of the Seattle leg of our trip...

We could not have had a clearer day to see the city from the top of the Space Needle.

Cool Art at the baseball stadium...notice the sweater..the weather was such a welcome relief!

View from our room, another glorious day and me wearing another sweater in!! (sorry, couldn't help myself)

Mr. Cupcake and I took a ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, just to get to ride a ferry, our first.

And look what I found on Bainbridge Island.....

Esther's Fabrics ....the oldest fabric shop in the state of Washington!

It was a total surprise. A very cute store with friendly and helpful sales folks.

Look what I found in the store, some lovely RED fabric!! (notice the jacket, me needing a jacket in July!!)

It's by In The Beginning fabrics. A small independent fabric company in Seattle, Washington. What a find! I have no plans for the fabric, but you know me and reds, it won't be on my shelf long.

This was our first visit to Seattle and it won't be our last! And YES I did find a cupcakery, reviews to come in a future post....did I learn my lesson and eat the cupcakes in the store or risk it and get them to go.....come back and read all about it!

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Cupcake Review - Kara's Cupcakes . . . .

Before I get into my review for Kara's Cupcakes, just a few words on how this aspect of my blog will work.

When I review a cupcake there will be no quilting talk, so if you aren't interested in cupcakes, and see "Cupcake Review" in the header, you may just want to come back another day.

I've decided on a rating system, because after tasting four cupcakes, from 2 different bakers, I don't think I'll come across a cupcake that I don't like, and blogging, "it was a great cupcake" doesn't really make for interesting reading.

So I've developed a 50 point system that works as follows:
The Cupcakery - maximum points available - 5
Cupcake Selection - maximum points available - 5
Packaging of Cupcakes - maximum points available - 5
Cupcake's Appearance - maximum points available - 5
Cake Portion of Cupcake - maximum points available - 10
Frosting Portion of Cupcake - maximum points available - 10
Overall Cupcake Taste and Consistency - maximum points available - 10

So a cupcake awarded a point value of 50 would be, in my opinion, and according to my taste, a perfect cupcake.

The store and packaging points will be a little tricky for the home baked cupcakes. I'll worry about that another day, and for you folks who invited me to your home for cupcakes, I hope to give you enough notice before I show up to enable you to get your kitchen 5 point worthy!!

I waffled on how many points to assign the overall appearance of a cupcake, but in the end decided it was somewhat important, but I would prefer to eat an ugly delicious cupcake as opposed to a beautiful tasteless one. And since it really is all about the taste, the taste categories have a higher point value.

I came up with the overall taste and consistency category because if the cake portion is great, and the icing is great, the two flavors together should also be a good match, since I eat the cake and icing at the same time. So a poor cake and icing combo could cost the cupcake some points.

Since this whole experience is a new one, I may change this up as I go along.

So now, my first official cupcake review!!

San Francisco California

There are five Kara's Cupcakes locations in California, I visited the San Francisco bakery located in Ghirardelli Square. Visit Kara's Cupcakes for all the locations.

The store was adorable, but they would not let me take pictures inside the bakery, I was only able to snap a picture of their signage. All the questions I was peppering at them must have made them think I was an undercover cupcake spy. But I still loved the look and feel of the store, their colors are brown, pink and green, but mainly pink. There was no place to sit and eat inside the bakery, but there were plenty of tables and chairs outside.

Since I had just eaten a hot fudge sundae at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop, I got two cupcakes to go.

They were packed in a bakery box and then put in this sack, which I saved, because it's so darn cute!

I think up until this point, I had been in only two Cupcakeries, so I was a little out of my element the day I stopped in, plus the place was packed with customers, and fresh cupcakes were being delivered and I didn't really have a plan as to what cupcakes I wanted. I really like yellow cake and buttercream icing, but those cupcakes are pretty common, since I wouldn't have the opportunity to stop back by this store anytime soon, I wanted to get something different and popular.

So with the help of the clerk working the counter, I chose the Chocolate Velvet cupcake - " a chocolate cupcake with a velvety bittersweet chocolate buttercream frosting".

And the Fleur De Sel cupcake - "a chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, ganache frosting and fleur de sel". Fleur de Sel is a special sea salt.

Each cupcake was $3.25 and packed into this adorable pink box for two!

I hopped into a cab, rode back to my hotel, smiling ear to ear, delicately holding my adorable Kara's Cupcakes bag.

We had tickets to a baseball game so I left the cupcakes sitting in my hotel room, waiting for my return. During the whole game I prayed for no extra innings and didn't eat a thing, knowing those cupcakes were waiting for me.

So I get back to the room, open the lid of my lovely pink box, and find this,

UGH!! What happened to my cupcakes that I lovingly and carefully carried to my hotel!!! What a disappointment, I was crushed and heartbroken, until I started eating them.....yum!! They were so good, I scraped the icing off the sides of the box with my fingers, then licked them clean. Very Un-Thelma like...I'm a little bit prissy, sometimes, a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do!

First Up, my rating for the Chocolate Velvet Cupcake

Cupcakery - the store was adorable, pink, clean and efficient. The staff very helpful - I give it a
Cupcake Selection - There must have been at least 15 different varieties available, and fresh cupcakes were being delivered as I was placing my order, around 4 pm - I give it a
Packaging of Cupcakes - I loved the sack, but the round cupcakes holders inside the box did not do the job - I give it a
Cupcake's Appearance - When the cupcakes were setting in the bakery, they looked perfect, after I got them home, not so much. I would think twice about buying a box of a dozen or more cupcakes for a special occasion, what a mess they could be if the box didn't hold up. I give it a
Cake Portion of Cupcake - the cake was a light texture, moist, delicious, perfectly sweet and a nice size - I give it a
Frosting Portion of Cupcake - The frosting was a nice light buttercream with a delicious chocolatey flavor, not too strong or too sweet, tasty but not all that different. Just the right amount of frosting. I give it an
Overall Cupcake Taste and Consistency - The chocolate buttercream frosting went well with the chocolate cake, but again, a little on the common side. I give it an

So the Chocolate Velvet Cupcake earned a total of 39 points.

The rating for the Fleur De Sel Cupcake -

All the categories for this cupcake would be the same as the Chocolate Velvet except for the following three:
Cake Portion of Cupcake - the cake texture was light, moist and the caramel filling out of this world and a great size, not too big, not too little- I give it a
Frosting Portion of Cupcake - The frosting was creamy, rich, with a great flavor. Just the right amount, I give it a
Overall Cupcake Taste and Consistency - Decadently good. The sea salt topping was the perfect touch, really gave it a different twist. I give it a

So the Fleur De Sel Cupcake earned a total of 44 points.

If this cupcake had been sold in a better box, it would have been perfect. On the one hand, I'm kind of sad that this cupcake was so amazing, it will be hard to find a cupcake that tops it, but I'm up for the challenge, the bar has been set very high right from the start.

On the good side, these cupcakes are 2, 150 miles away from me, what a relief, I would be tempted daily to visit that cupcake store if it were near by!!

Be sure to drop me a line if you've tried these cupcakes or plan to, I would love to know what you thought of them.

There must be over a dozen bakeries and cupcakeries in San Francisco, but there were two other specific shops that I had hoped to try but did not have time, Susie Cakes and That Takes the Cake. Both got very high reviews online. Maybe next time!

I'm still getting caught up on my comments and stopping by my favorite blogs, I hope to be all caught up this week, Thanks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fun in the Summertime . . . . . . . .

I'm back, and I bet you didn't even know I was gone!!

While you were giving me cupcake, poppy fabric, and hexagon feedback, I was on vacation. Mr. Cupcake and I chilled out in San Francisco California, relaxed in Sonoma California and then ate our way through Seattle, Washington.

A delightful 9 day vacation, the longest of our married life, and the first vacation in years that did not include a business stop for my husband or a visit with family. It was wonderful, something I hope we get to do more often.

We have had several reasons in the past for not leaving home for more than 3 or 4 nights, like my work schedule or my husband's work schedule, but the main reason we would stick around the house was because of our pets. We've had pets with medical issues, a dog who would get depressed and not eat when we were gone, a dog sitter who let our dog chew through a case of Gatorade, and carry the leaking bottles all over the house, leaving a rainbow of stains on my white carpet. It got to the point where my husband and I would only be gone for over a week, if the other spouse stayed home. Some of the nicest vacation destinations I've visited have been with my daughter, while my husband stayed home with the dogs.

Well we're over that, for now. Cooper stayed at the same place that he goes for doggy daycare and had no problems at all. I think he had a nice vacation too, plus he got to visit with his doggy daycare friends for a few extra days.

So we all had a great time, but are happy happy happy to be home,

especially Cooper. He's been right next to one of us ever since we picked him up. And we're so glad to see Cooper, we didn't have the heart to make him get off the living room couch, a normal no no, but oh well.

We had perfect weather the whole trip. San Francisco was a wonderful break from the summer heat and humidity of Illinois. I think in addition to hitting Southern California in February for a winter break, I need to start hitting San Francisco in July for a summer break, the chill in the air felt great.

I added to my Lifetime State list. I would love to visit all 50 states, with Alaska and Hawaii being at the top of that list. I'm not sure how many I've visited, something for me write down sometime, but I know this was my first visit to the state of Washington, it's a wonderful destination, I should have visited sooner. Anyhoo, more about my vacation on another post, now on to my first order of post vacation business,

selecting the winner for the Fons & Porter Watermelon and Shoofly quilt kit and pattern.

I received 72 Happy Birthday wishes and enjoyed reading each one as I was traveling. My birthday sort of got lost in the vacation hoopla, I've yet to figure out if that was a good thing or not! But I do know that reading all the birthday wishes was like getting 72 presents, stretched out over a week. Thanks so much.

The winner is the 55th person to leave a comment, Debby from NY. Debby you won!!

Debby, I don't know how you found my blog, but I'm so pleased you stopped by. Debby's blog, Quilty Pleasures, was a new one to me, she's had a quilting blog for over 4 years and does amazing long arm quilting. Check out the quilting she did on a Fig Tree project, it will make you swoon!! click here

The cupcake tips were amazing, and the way some of you described the cupcakes made my mouth water! I've got some great cupcake destinations in my future, but I also enjoyed the stories that some of you shared, wonderful cupcake memories from your childhood or memories that you are currently making with your families.

Thanks also for the invites for cupcakes at your house, wouldn't that be fun!! Don't think I won't come!!

It appears in addition to hitting cupcake stores (Sprinkles got the most mentions), and visiting cupcake baking bloggers, I need to become a cupcake baker! Thanks so much for the links and tips to get me started. Apparently, Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, has an amazing coconut cupcake recipe, it was mentioned twice. Yum, I love coconut cake, so a good coconut cupcake should be wonderful.

I"ll be working on creating my Lifetime Cupcake list for my blog this week.

If I visit a store or bake a cupcake you suggested, I'll update my blog and send you a cupcake pin topper, like the ones above! So please continue to send cupcake stops and recipes my way.

I was able to hit two cupcake bakeries while on vacation, my first official cupcake review will be tomorrow for Kara's Cupcakes in San Francisco

In addition to unpacking, doing laundry, and going through the mail, I'll be getting caught up on my comments and your blogs this week.

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hexies a Go Go . . . .

When I can, I'm still squeezing in some time on my hexagon project.

I'm working to make some hexagon blocks to go with the ones my grandmother made.

I pretty much just threw everything in this bin

and grabbed what I needed, when I needed it.

But now I've figured out that these little hexagons are extremely portable and easy to do anywhere.

I organized the fabric and templates into groups and store them in a leftover Schnibbles pattern cover.

Everything I need to make one hexagon flower is in this bag.

I store everything I need to make the hexagons in this bag.

I could maybe get by without the Clover needle threader, but I just love how easy it threads my needles.

So the sewing accoutrements along with the fabric and template pieces all slide right into this pink bag
that I got for free from some cosmetic company. Then I just grab this pink bag and throw it in my purse. I can carry just one flower, or several, depending on how much time I anticipate having. The whole case takes up very little space in my purse.

I worked on this one on the plane on the way to California, when I was visiting my daughter.

I enjoyed having something sewing related to work on while I was away from home.

I'm not happy with how visible the stitches are that connect the hexagons. Do I need to use colored thread, thinner thread, take smaller and fewer stitches, work more from behind? I did buy a stronger pair of reading glasses, to maybe help me pick up fewer threads as I whip stitch them together. Any tips you may have would be appreciated.

If you've not left a cupcake comment on my birthday post, please do so, you still have a couple of days to provide me a yummy cupcake shop or bakery.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Poppie Update . . . .

Remember this fabric......

Awhile back I blogged about how I started making one of those quilt as you go style quilts

and how I determined that that particular technique was not for me.

Which left me with

these strips and

this fabric.

I asked for suggestions for turning this mess into a masterpiece. Overwhelmingly, the response was "Go with a pinwheel pattern!".

I loved the idea, love a good pinwheel block, and have yet to make an entire quilt from pinwheels.

When the June Schnibbles from Sinta and Sherri was announced I thought I was good to go....

I thought my poppy fabric would be a good match for State Fair.

But between A la Mode taking longer, and the month of June just racing by, I did not get the chance to start on State Fair.

I now think that was a good thing....because I found this...


I think this is a better fit for my long abandoned poppy fabric. There's a little more going on with the pinwheel, plus I love the border!

The Dulcinea pinwheel block finishes at 6 inches, I'm thinking I may make mine a little larger...shocking I know!

But I can easily make a 9 inch finished block from the pieces I've already cut.

I'm not sure when this project will make it's way to the top of my To Do list, but it feels great to finally have a plan!

So thanks for your help!

If you've not done so, don't forget to leave a cupcake comment on my Sunday post, the deadline for entering to win the Fons & Porter Watermelon and Shoofly kit is Saturday.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Birthday . . . . .

To Me!!

Yessery Bob, today's my birthday!

I learned ages ago, if you want to have a nice birthday, do something about it.

I figure once you're old enough to leave home and Mom and Dad, if you're not able to plan your own birthday celebration, then you deserve what you get!

A girlfriend gave me this beautiful cake for my birthday......better yet, it tastes even more wonderful than it looks!!

I won't tell you my age, because it quit changing at 50, but I will tell you this, the year I was born, a gallon of gas was 24 cents and a gallon of milk (delivered to your door in a glass bottle) was $1.00!

Since I'm feeling particularly happy today, I figured I would celebrate my birthday with you!

I completely fell in love with this watermelon quilt on the cover of the Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine. The May/June 2010 issue.

It's called Watermelon and Shoofly and finishes at 42" X 56".

A perfect quilt for July.

So for my birthday, I'm giving away the Fons and Porter kit for this quilt.

Doesn't this just scream summer!! Isn't watermelon the official fruit for summer?? In the summertime, when I'm not eating corn, I'm eating watermelon.

I just got the kit in the mail, its never been opened, and here's what's included:
8 assorted red fat quarters
4 assorted green fat eighths
3/4 yard cream background fabric
7/8 yard black plaid for sashing and inner border
black wool for watermelon seeds
5 yards wide cream rickrack
1/2 yard red print for binding

Plus I'll throw in the magazine if you don't have it.

So how do you get in the running for this kit....

I would love to know where to go to get a good cupcake. So to be eligible to win, just leave a comment with the details of the best cupcake you've ever eaten, and where you got it! (and by details, I mean details, no comment describing the look, texture and flavor of a cupcake can be too long!!)

I'm going to add a Lifetime Cupcake List to my blog, listing cupcakes I've tried and cupcakes I need to try. You'll be giving me a jump start on my list by providing the where, all I need to do is get there and eat one. I figure it's my duty, having this Cupcakes 'n' Daisies blog name. Once I've tried all the cupcakes, and gained maybe 100 pounds, I'll start worrying about the daisies.

If you don't have a cupcake comment, then you can still be eligible by just wishing me a Happy Birthday.

The winner will be randomly selected and announced on a later blog. Please make sure I'm able to contact you.

You have through midnight Pacific Time, Saturday, July 24th, 2010 to leave a comment.

If you have more than one good cupcake location, you may leave multiple comments and be entered multiple times. I'm giving you a week, just in case you want to get out and try some new cupcake places.

So that's all there is to it!

Thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm Hot, for Dots . . . .


It just kind of snuck up on me, I didn't wake up one day and say, "I need some dots in my life", it was more like, I woke up the other day and noticed, "I've GOT some dots in my life"!!

I think it started with this......

I've been working with Fig Tree fabrics and Joanna has some lovely polka-dot fabrics in several of her families. And her latest family, Breakfast at Tiffany's...has a few fabrics with some cute BIG dots!

I picked up these socks.....

and this bathing suit.

Which looks nothing like this on me, by the way!!

I needed some new reading glasses,

and this is what caught my eye.

I also couldn't resist this

tea set and dessert pedestal.

I now drink my morning coffee from a polka-dot cup instead of my Christmas mugs.

Even my breakfast,

bagel with cream cheese and strawberries has a polka-dot feel to it!

Where's it going to end...I'm not sure, but I think a polka-dot quilt is in my future.

Robyn Pandolph has a lovely line of Christmas fabric called Fancy Hill Farm that has some wonderful red polka-dot fabric.

Deb Strain also has some great fall polka-dot fabric in her Saltbox Harvest line of fabrics.

I also noticed Rita had a cute polka-dot State Fair Schnibble in the Year of Schnibbles of Parade.

I'm trying to decide if dots are hot, or am I hot for dots?
I don't really know....