Cupcakes and Comedy

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Yesterday I headed out to NYC to spend an afternoon gallivanting around the city with my friend Alison before we headed to a comedy show on Broadway in the evening. One of our stops, at my insistence, was Sprinkles Cupcakes on Lexington and 60th- and, specifically- their cupcake ATM, which is exactly what it sounds like. You simply select one or more of the available flavors (which change daily,) of cupcake you want, slide your debit/credit card, and in less than sixty seconds and at $4.25 per cupcake- you have a rich, decadent dessert in a convenient little box in your hands. This is the future, everyone.

Alison indulged in a s’mores cupcake, and I carefully selected a chocolate-peanut-butter one- and while it was a little messy- it might also have been one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. It was delicious (and filling!) and it took a lot of willpower not to hurry back and try some of the other flavors. I’ll definitely be making another stop at the ATM the next time I’m in New York- and I highly recommend it for any dessert aficionado in the area, or visiting, who is looking for a quick, convenient, and most importantly- tasty– sugar fix.



The comedy show Alison and I went to was headlined by Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick at Carolines on Broadway. We had seen Chris perform there a little more than a year ago, and he had been fantastic. Last night, he did it again. Chris slayed with his new material and was kind enough to pose for a silly photo between his sets in Carolines’ “Avatar” style lighting that turned everyone and everything in the vicinity a bright shade of blue.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I will say it again without hesitation- Chris is one of the nicest and hardest working guys around, and if you haven’t checked out any of his MULTIPLE endeavors with Nerdist or his television shows (@Midnight is entirely too fun to watch,) then you’re really missing out.

Overall, it was a wonderful day, made even more so because I got to catch up with Alison for the first time in months. I’ll be back in the city within the next couple of weeks for some other day-trips/weekend stuff I’ve been planning since the Winter- and to get another cupcake from Sprinkles, of course!

Top 10 Photographs of 2013.

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In between visiting with family and friends during the holidays, working, and preparing for New Years- I’ve been drafting my “2013: In a Nutshell” post in my free time. For those who may not know, at the end of every month, I like to summarize said month, talk about any major events/turning points that took place, post any pictures that may not have initially made the cut when I blogged, write about the days to come, etc. My 2013 summary is a lot like that- but for the entire year, of course- including an assortment of news, pop culture, random tidbits and nonsense, etc.

I digress, to prepare- I’ve re-visited some of the photographs I snapped during 2013 (and there were a lot!) and wanted to create a post highlighting my Top 10 of the year and the stories behind them.

So without further ado,


# 10: Dropkick Murphys, TD Garden (March 15th)

I took a shot of the heavily illuminated stage- and an enthusiastic fan- during the band’s annual series of Saint Patrick’s Day shows in March. The timing of this shot couldn’t have been any better, thanks in part to the guy in front of me who threw his arms up as I was snapping away while the band prepared to launch into a cover of AC/DC’s “TNT.”

This wasn’t my first Dropkick Murphys show of 2013, and it also wouldn’t be my last. I’d go on to see them perform a couple more times over the next few months- one concert in particular being especially poignant as it was a benefit for “The One Fund” to help those directly affected in the Boston Marathon Bombing.


# 9: Ocean Beach, San Diego (September 27th)

This may not be the most complex photograph I’ve ever taken (I took it sitting down in the sand, after all,) but it’s one of my favorites from the year because it was taken during one of the most relaxing afternoons during one of my most relaxing vacations in recent memory. I was sitting in a small sliver of shade underneath the pier at Ocean Beach waiting for my friend Duncan to arrive while I listened to music and watched the surfers paddle out as the waves crashed in.

I could have stayed like that for hours. It was truly a little piece of paradise.


# 8: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting (January 22nd)

If there was ever a photograph I wanted to eat, the above shot of surprise cupcakes, a combination of two of my favorite flavors, that my family concocted and made for my birthday would be it. This picture apparently received a lot of attention on Pinterest among foodies and dessert-enthusiasts, which is pretty cool- but I especially liked it because it was a (delicious) reminder of how wonderful my relatives are and the effort they put into giving me a fun (and again, delicious,) surprise.


# 7: Photobombing Norman Reedus in NYC (June 29th)

I can’t take credit for this photo, since I simply posed and a woman at Wizard World NYC caught the moment with her camera- but it’s still one of the best pictures I have from the event, and the year- although definitely not the most flattering. Norman Reedus, of “The Walking Dead” and “Boondock Saints” fame, is also a notorious photobomber. Having seen countless photos of fans simply standing beside him and looking timid or giddy, I decided to liven things up.

I gave Norman a heads up when we got ready to pose in front of the hilariously awkward K-Mart style backdrop, and he was an incredibly good sport and enthusiastic participant to the shenanigans. He’s a genuinely cool guy.


# 6: Mick Jagger, TD Garden (June 14th)

Winning Rolling Stones tickets was a dream come true that I’m still pinching myself about since I can’t believe it actually happened. To be able to see the man, the myth, the legend- Mick Jagger- sashay, dance, and kick his way around the stage- performing all the songs I grew up with and love so, so much- was beyond surreal. I took this shot in between cheering myself hoarse and singing along at the top of my lungs- and it’s an incredible memento to have in my collection of concert pictures from throughout the years.


# 5: Autumn Shade, Winsor Dam (October 5th)

During one of my countless weekend drives, I had stopped in Western Massachusetts to take in the fresh air and beautiful fall foliage. It was during a long walk over the Winsor Dam in Ware/Belchertown when I saw the sun shining through this tree, in the midst of the transition from Summer to Fall- hanging over and shedding it’s leaves onto an unoccupied picnic table. I grabbed my camera, and the result is something I am really quite pleased with.


# 4: Great Gatsby Lawn Party at the Crane Estate (July 21st)

This is another photo I didn’t take myself (Sean helped!) but I loved it, even if it’s considered a “selfie.” We had considered taking this picture in black & white or sepia, to give it a more authentic “old time” feel, but in the end I’m glad we decided to keep the photo in it’s full color. The bright red of my hair and lipstick pales in comparison to the Crane Estate, surrounded by other attendees and the greenest grass I’d ever seen, looming in the background.

It was a beautiful party, and I’m glad I have this photo to remember it by.


# 3: Cliff Walk, Newport (December 22nd)

This is one of the most recent photographs I’ve taken (from a day trip this past Sunday,) but it’s one of the most beautiful, in my opinion. The ocean has always been a place of refuge for me. It can be calming or exciting, perfect to sit and watch in any mood or mind set. On this particular day, it was wild- with waves crashing against the rocks while I strolled Cliff Walk. I took this photo of the water breaking against and inside a small cave within the cliff while some of the Newport Mansions are peeking through the fog in the background.


# 2: The Day After, Boston (April 20th)

At a glance, this photo isn’t anything extraordinary- there’s probably hundreds out there just like this- but to me- the date it was taken and the frame of mind myself and many others were in is what makes this photo so important to me. Shot hours after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon Bombers, was taken into custody- I snapped this photo by the reflecting pool while heading out to brunch with a friend. The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and everyone I saw or spoke to that day seemed to be in good spirits.

The city of Boston has never looked more beautiful to me than it did that day, and in this photograph.


# 1: Medfield State Hospital (January 26th)

And finally, my favorite photograph. Something I captured that I am still, and will remain, very fond of. Taken on one of the coldest days of the year at the abandoned Medfield State Hospital, I was rounding one of the wards when I spotted this dilapidated bench with a tree growing through it. Although I am very pleased with every shot I took that day- this one is my favorite. I know there’s a metaphor in it somewhere, like “life continues through destruction and decay,” or something poetic like that- but I just thought this picture was neat. The snow, the boarded up building in the background, the fence. Every part of it.

I hope to go back someday in warmer weather and see the tree in bloom- still growing through the bench.

And there they are, my top 10 photographs from 2013. It was a hard decision to make, limiting all of my pictures I took down to just ten- but I think it’s a good compilation. All of the photos posted have fun or meaningfulness to them.

I hope to be even more of a shutterbug in 2014 (and who knows- maybe double my list to a “top 20” this time next year?)

Dessert Cart.

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I swear to God I’m not THAT person who has to take pictures of every single meal or snack before they actually enjoy the taste of it, and I also want to stress that despite the fact that most of my food photos consist of cupcakes and sugary confections, I’m very much a healthy eater and I do actually consume nutritious meals outside of the dessert menu.

The photos above were some of the dessert selections from my cousin Paige’s graduation party/cookout last weekend. All of the cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and tarts just looked too pretty to eat on their serving trays that I couldn’t help but snap a couple of photos before I dug in.

Pomp and Circumstance (and Cupcakes!)

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It’s weird to think that it’s been nearly a decade since I graduated high school. I was only recently reminded of this fact when one of my old friends invited me to join an online group consisting of the majority of my graduating glass so that we could better plan our impending 10-year reunion. Of course, my first reaction was to curl up into the fetal position  and sob nostalgic tears over how quickly time flies and how much older I’ve gotten, but it’s actually kind of cool to see how the people I used to spend almost every single day with for years have changed, what they’re up to, where they are, etc. High school wasn’t exactly a walk in the park all the time (I don’t think it really is for anyone- and whoever tells you that high school is the greatest years of your life are full of shit), but I did have some good times and made some good memories.

It was my cousin Paige’s turn to begin her post-high school journey this past Sunday when she graduated with high honors and a few scholarships under her belt for when she attends a prestigious university this Fall. Paige is like a sister to me. My parents had helped take care of her since she was a baby (and while I was still pretty young myself) while her own parents worked tirelessly, and there wasn’t a weekend getaway or vacation she didn’t come on with us. Homework assignments, sleepovers, family triumphs and tragedies, boy problems (mine a little more complex since I’m older)- Paige and I have stayed close through it all- and I am so, so unbelievably proud of her for all she’s accomplished so far and all the good she will further bring to the world as she continues her education and moves forward with her goals and aspirations.

I was honored to attend her ceremony and see her get her diploma after four years of very, very hard work.

On Saturday, pre-graduation, her and I ran a few errands for her “HIGH SCHOOL IS FINALLY OVER!” party in a couple of weeks, including a stop, per her request, to order a few dozen cupcakes at Aunty Ellen’s Creative Confections in Leominster, which was a bit of a drive for me, but totally worth it once we arrived. Not only was the bakery very cute, but the staff were so friendly- and the cupcakes were delicious (we sampled the Boston cream and cannoli ones and OH MY GOD)- and carefully decorated.

I snapped those photos above of the half-dozen we ended up picking up for the ride home, which, as you can probably imagine, are now long gone.

Baking Post: Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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Yesterday was my birthday, and was celebrated in a quiet, low-key fashion. I worked most of the day, and spent most of the evening with my mom and some of my relatives at her house. It was nice.

Knowing my love of all things red velvet, which is only matched by my love of all things salted caramel, my mom, aunt, uncle, and cousin all teamed up to create the above-pictured “Red Velvet & Salted Caramel Cupcakes” in lieu of a traditional birthday cake for me. They were DELICIOUS, and I borrowed the recipe from my aunt to share with any foodies who may read this blog, or for anyone who is just interested in attempting to bake something new:


* One box cake mix, and the ingredients to bake it (eggs, flour, milk, etc.) It can be any kind of cake mix, depending on your preference.

* Sea salt.

* 4-5 Heath Bars (Butterfinger bars are also a good substitute)

* Caramel ice cream topping

* Buttercream icing

* Squeeze bottle


1. Bake your cupcakes according to the package directions.

2. When the cupcakes are nearly done baking, pour the caramel ice cream topping into a measuring cup.

3. Add 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt per 8 ox. of caramel. You may have to add a little more, depending on how salty you want them to taste.

4. Warm the mixture in the microwave for one minute, and then stir well. From there, pour the mixture into the squeeze bottle.

5. When the cupcakes are done baking, use the squeeze bottle to inject the mixture into the center of the cupcakes. Be sure to save some of the mixture for later! When all of the cupcakes have been filled, move them to a cooling area.

6. Keeping the Heath (or Butterfinger) bars in their packaging, HULK SMASH ‘EM INTO BITS. When you’re done, unwrap them and pour the pieces into a bowl.

7. When the cupcakes are cooled, frost them with the buttercream icing, sprinkle them (or dunk them) into the broken up Heath/Butterfinger bits, and drizzle more of the salted caramel mixture over them.


The sweetness of the red velvet cake, the salted caramel filling, and the broken up bits of Butterfinger made for an unexpected and pretty awesome flavor combination. Definitely one I never would have thought of before.

Before I wrap this entry up: many, many thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes and kind words yesterday! It really meant a lot. I love you all and I had a great day!


And can we all just stop for a moment and appreciate this birthday card my mom gave me? Holy shit.