Hot Polka Dot

Life is Just A…

...Bowl full of cherries. That's right, I said it. You know why that's such a great metaphor? Because there's nothing better than a bowl full of fresh, bright, juicy deep red cherries. Can you tell I really like cherries? Yes, they are one of my favourite fruits.

I imagine the pit has something to do with the cherry/life metaphor too. Maybe something like, you take the bad with the good. With life though, unlike cherries, you can't just spit out the pit. It doesn't work like that. What you can do is try to move on after life's little pits and make the most of the delicious cherry flesh because sooner or later you finish that bowl of cherries and you want to have something to show for it.

You get what I'm driving at here right? Life is short. Life is sweet. Life is cherries.

So in celebration of life and my favourite spring fruit here are some cupcakes I made for you. No pits though. Promise.


Cookie + Cake = Lee’s Carrot Cake

Don't you just love birthdays? Even someone else's birthday. Actually especially someone else's birthday. I know everyone says this and doesn't really mean it, but truly I love giving presents way more than receiving them. More than that, I love to make someone feel special. I love the thrill of planning little surprises to catch them off guard or keep them guessing. I love to make people smile.

That must be why I love to bake so much. It's got to be one of the best ways to make people instantly happy. How can you not smile when you bite into a freshly baked Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffin, a chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie or a Hazelnut Brown Butter Cupcake? Ok well maybe you wouldn't smile as you bite into it. That would be messy. But after there would be a definite smile cracking those crumbly lips.

I also love that mumbling cacophony of off beat voices when you get to that certain part the birthday song where everyone says something a little different. Happy birthday dear... It gets me giggling every time.

But I digress.

It was Lee's birthday last Monday and I wanted to make him something he would love. Carrot Cake is his favourite so that was a clear winner, but I was itching to do something a little different, something more. He was telling me recently about birthdays from his childhood and these Jeanne's Bakery cakes from Winnipeg. Apparently they have a Shortbread cookie layer on the bottom so that got me thinking. Carrot Cake with a Snickerdoodle Cookie Crust and Cream Cheese Icing. Yes. That's the ticket. Because my favourite person deserves only the best.


Delicious on a Dime.

I love slapping people in the face with my mad design on a dime skills.

They admire my kitchen utensils and I'll be so proud to announce, "Aren't they nice? I got them from this little store called Dollarama. Maybe you've heard of it."

Or someone will compliment my skirt and I'll be all too pleased to play the guess-how-much-it-cost game. I always win at that game.

Or I'll get asked where I bought my necklace or the framed print on the wall and I'll answer proudly, "I made it myself."

I'm not cheap. I'm thrifty. There's a huge difference. When I go shopping and I see something that I like but it's a little pricey I'll more often than not think, “That's nice but I could totally make that myself for half the cost.” So I do and I love it. I love seeing a beautifully decorated vignette in a magazine then pull it off in my own living room with Ikea furniture and thrift store accessories. I love seeing a trendy new style from a fashion show then whipping it up myself with clothes and accessories diligently sought out and bought at a fraction of the designer cost.

The same goes with food. No where does it say that to make delicious and equally fabulous gourmet food you have to shop at ridiculously overpriced grocery stores or markets. I shop at Superstore and I often buy discounted No Name, no frills brands. I am no food snob, that's for sure. I also find it strangely exciting to plan recipes as inexpensively as possible without sacrificing quality.

This Caramel Corn is perfect for that. It's made with ingredients that most people already have stocked in their cupboards. It's pretty surprising what you can make with a little sugar, corn syrup, butter and water. Then you add some popcorn, nature's Ramen noodles, and that's an amazing snack.


Good Pie to Say Goodbye.

I have fond memories of my Grandparent's house. It was always so immaculately clean, decorated with sophistication and smelled of leather, perfume and Old Spice. Dinners at my Grandparent's were always something to look forward to. They would serve jello and whipping cream with dinner then afterward we'd play pool downstairs in my Grandpa's workshop and studio. I used to drink Pepsi out of green Coke glasses at their tiny marble bar in the corner of the basement and feel so fancy swinging my legs on a stool that was too high for me. The comedy and tragedy theatrical masks at the bottom of the stairs would always have to be taken down prior to my visits because they'd frighten me to tears. I used eat oatmeal and tomato soup then proceed to crawl under the table of the booth style kitchen nook so no one would have to slide down the seat and get up to let me out.

A few years ago my Grandma died and quite recently my Grandpa followed her. I never got to say goodbye to either of them so I thought I'd make them a sweet little tribute. One of my Grandma's most famous desserts was Grasshopper Pie and I remember as a child knowing for certain it was made with real grasshoppers encouraged by the unwaveringly serious insistence of my Dad and Grandpa. Once I tried it of course I knew different. It's still a family favourite dessert and now a favourite with Lee and Sable, the newest additions to my family.

This is for you Grandma and Grandpa. I miss you. I hope wherever you are, you'll be going dancing tonight.


Jonesing for Jones.

Have you ever had a craving for something you just couldn't ignore? A nagging, overwhelming insurmountable need for a specific thing that couldn't be sated any other way than to ravenously devour the thing in question.

For me, recently at least, that thing was Jones Soda. If you've never had this particular brand of soda pop I suggest that you do so. Now. For reals. They have countless flavours made of pure cane sugar to indulge your taste buds and yet, frustratingly enough, they can't be found at most stores. No, the kind folks at Jones Soda Co. make it tricky. Occasionally you can find a flavour or two at your local 7 Eleven or corner store, but usually you have to go to those speciality gourmet candy shops to get the better selection.

I'm not a real soda pop connoisseur, not even a real fan. The fizz gives me hiccups. Rather annoying inconvenient hiccups. But for Jones Soda and their large repertoire of flavours I'll brave the involuntary spasms. My current favourite is good old fashioned Cream Soda. It tastes like cotton candy and that's just fine. The close second is Berry Lemonade.

So why not make a cake out of my favourite soda pop? And not just any soda pop cake, a marbled cake with two of my favourite flavours rolled into one. Just a word of caution. If you don't like cakes that are pretty high up on the sweet spectrum then I would not recommend this. But if on occasion, like me, you have the need to eat sugar by the spoonfuls then, by all means, please make this cake.


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