Entries from May 28th, 2011

May 28, 2011

cupcake taste test | bliss cupcake cafe | fayetteville, arkansas

I travel back to Arkansas on a fairly regular basis, but haven’t had much luck in extending my cupcake taste tests to my home state. Simple Google searches for cupcakeries in Northwest Arkansas yield very few results — saddening for the cupcake addict who lives within walking distance of three bakeries in the Kansas City metro area. Most of the Northwest Arkansas “cupcake bakeries” that showed up in my results were large cafe-bakery chains, grocery stores or now-defunct local cupcakeries that couldn’t stay afloat in a tough economy.

When I discovered Bliss Cupcake Cafe in Fayetteville, I Facebook-stalked it for months before finally getting a chance to drive down and conduct my first-ever natural state cupcake taste test. My oldest brother and sister-in-law joined me for early afternoon cupcakes and coffee near downtown Fayetteville. When we got to the shop, we were greeted by a friendly face and a modest display case of small, lightly frosted cupcakes. Because Bliss Cupcake Cafe is a locally owned cupcake shop, the bakers produce small batches of only a handful of flavors each day (the menu changes every day) — be sure to check the menu before you go to see what flavors and specials you can expect!

I opted for the Lady Marmalade cupcake, an orange-cranberry cake topped with orange marmalade and orange cream cheese frosting. While I’m typically a chocoholic, I strategically chose this particular cupcake because it had the most frosting compared to the others.

bliss cupcake cafe fayettville arkansas lady marmalade lemon pie and peanut butter cup cupcakes

{I sampled my brother's Peanut Butter Cup (back left) and my sister-in-law's Lemon (back right) cupcakes, too.}

I enjoyed my Lady Marmalade cupcake, as well as bites of my brother’s Peanut Butter Cup cupcake and my sister-in-law’s Lemon cupcake, but I felt like something was missing from these modest little cakes. I’m a huge frosting person, and while I did get my fix from Lady Marmalade, it just didn’t have the perfect combination of uber-moist cake and rich frosting that usually tickles my tongue. Ranging from $2.75 to $3.25 a pop, I just expect to have a little more oomph in either plating and presentation, size or frosting design.

But that’s not to say I won’t be going back to Bliss Cupcake Cafe when I get another chance; there’s just too many other fun flavors to try, such as Loca Coca (cola cake with cola buttercream frosting), Spritetastic (lime cake with lemon buttercream), Mango Ginger (white cake with baked-in mango bits and ginger cream cheese frosting) and The Elvis (banana cake with chocolate pudding middle and peanut butter frosting).

It’s important to support small, independent cupcakeries with innovative flavors and skilled bakers that decide to set up shop in the heart of downtown — and it’s just as important to offer them feedback on their goods so they can continue to improve and thrive in a slowly regrowing economy. Even though other local cupcake competition may be lagging, competition with large chains and grocery stores is fierce, especially when those are the brands that populate the search results.

I’m looking forward to my next Arkansas cupcake taste test this summer — are there some hidden gems in Northwest Arkansas that I should add to my to-taste list? Let me know about them in the comments section.

May 4, 2011

signature scents | a plate of perfume

My signature scents have evolved over the years. In junior high, body sprays from Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret lined my bedroom vanity (hello, Love Spell). While I haven’t purchased a body spray in quite a long time, I have managed to create a budding collection of fragrances that could rival a mom-and-pop aroma shop. Here’s a few of my favorites:

plate of perfume

{I adore the funky shapes and pretty designs on these glass perfume bottles, solid perfume tins and roller balls — not to mention the good smells that come from inside them!}

1. Marc Jacobs Daisy. This is my new signature scent. It’s a musky floral with a hint of vanilla — the sweet yet understated big sister of those body sprays I used to love so much. I’ve been wearing Daisy for a couple of years now (and just recently finished a bottle — I got the cute rollerball fragrance as a birthday present last year) and find it to be an easy, everyday staple scent.

2. Burberry London. Throughout most of college and up until I met Daisy, Burberry London was my scent of choice. I just got a new bottle of it last month to rekindle the romance with this iconic brand’s classy, feminine scent that blends jasmine, peony and patchouli together for an alluring smell. I like the new packaging — seeing that Burberry plaid on my plate of perfume adds a little touch of elegance.

3. Marc Jacobs Lola. I go for Lola when I’m feeling extra creative or sassy (c’mon, look at that Lola bottle — it screams sass!). This scent is so floral and flirty — but with a little edge. The combination of rose, peony and geranium offset the bold peppercorn and citrusy grapefruit. A layer of musk and vanilla bring all the delicious scents together. I’ll splash on Lola toward the end of the week, when happy hours and day drinking are more prominent (wait, who am I kidding, happy hours happen almost every day in my world!).

4. Chanel Chance. For a special occasion (date-night, going-out-on-the-town) who wouldn’t reach for Chanel? Chanel Chance is a little stronger than my daily three perfumes picks, but never overpowering. I love the beautiful blend of floras, citrus, patchouli, jasmine and amber (are you seeing a scent pattern here or what?!). A couple spritzes (I go for the neck, right below the ear, and a wrist) and you’re good to go!

I obviously have more than four scents on my plate of perfume (my friend Caro likes to exclaim in delight/shock “You have a plate of perfume!” every time she visits).

Other bottles, tins and rollerballs that greet me everyday include:

Clinique Happy Heart (haven’t worn this in years, but have a few spritzes left for when I want to smell super-sweet);

Crabtree & Evelyn Iris (a little too flowery for me, but I give it a try from time to time — it was a freebie)

Golden Earth Chakra Oil 4 (I like the fresh green grass and honeysuckle scent of this rollerball — a good pick-me-up scent in the dead of winter)

Ralph Lauren Turquoise (another bold date-night or ladies’-night scent — use sparingly!)

Prairie Essence Gardenia (I have to admit, I’m not a gardenia fan, but this solid perfume version of real gardenia essential oils doesn’t bother my nose the way most gardenia scents do)

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange (so summery, so citrusy — love it for a daytime BBQ)

Pacifica Sandalwood (solid perfumes are fun to keep in your purse or at your desk for a light scent on the go — I also like to layer a base of a single-scent solid perfume under my spray perfume that has the same note in it).

So…who else has a plate of perfume? What scents do you rock for day and night? Leave me a comment and tell me what I should consider adding to my plate!

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