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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Watching the Storm

Snowflakes are like cat toys from the sky.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spring Thinking

I'm incredibly antsy for spring this year, even though I know we have lots of time left to go and I'm only torturing myself. (As everyone in Boston loves to remind you, it can still snow here in May.) The trees around our house have fat buds on their branches all ready to go, but they are just teasing us. April may be the cruelest month, but there's nothing like drab, icy, depressing February in New England. I remember in college a couple of my roommates, Californians quickly fading in the New England winter, collaborated on a mix tape entitled "February," which consisted of all the saddest songs they could think of.

It's of course still way too cold for anything but winter wear, but I've been trying to sneak some spring color into my wardrobe as a little pick-me-up, shades like deep pink and that weird acid-yellow "citron" that J. Crew is peddling right now, that reminds me of the color of the earliest spring leaves.

The picture above is a watercolor my dad did after I gave him a set of paints for his birthday. Every year when the weather got nice in Chicago, he and my mom would go down to the local flower shop and buy potted primroses to put in this particular twig basket, which would then go on the dining room table. My dad, especially, took a lot of pleasure in this ritual, and for me it meant that spring had officially arrived. (That, and going to Michigan to celebrate an egg-dyeing, basket-hunting, chocolate-bunny-gnawing Easter extravaganza with my cousins.)

Beyond shopping for spring clothes (not the most meaningful of traditions), when the weather finally starts to brighten each year, I like to make spring soups, as inspired by this SF Gate article a friend sent me awhile back. The asparagus soup is especially savory and delicious.

What do you like to do to get ready for spring?


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kicking Ass and Taking Cakes

Ah, the cupcake trend has reached sleepy Somerville at last. I stopped in Kickass Cupcakes (open since September - I've been dragging) in Davis Square today and was charmed by the cheery staff and the scent of vanilla frosting permeating the air.

I've always liked cupcakes, but I have to admit I haven't quite gotten all the fuss over them in recent years. Sure, they are cute, and yes, I like cake, but aren't cupcakes just ... small cakes? When Katie Holmes declared that her only pregnancy craving was cupcakes, I thought, Oh please! How precious can you be? You just wanted cake, like any other ravenous, sweet-craving pregnant woman. Calling it "cupcakes" doesn't make you any daintier. (This is just one of many instances in which Katie bugs, of course.)

But stepping into Kickass Cupcakes opened my eyes to something beyond the celebrity cupcake hype. When a cake is shrunk down to munchkin size, it gives both the baker and the cupcake consumer the license to try something different, something that might be too much in a full-sized confection, but is a temptingly sweet diversion when limited to two bites. Kickass Cupcakes embraces this opportunity. Care to sample, for instance ... the Mojito Cupcake, perchance?

The Lucky Cupcake plays on the individual serving size of the cupcake, with a paper fortune strip curling out of each frosting top.

The Berry Crumbly isn't really a cupcake at all, but a shrunken-down version of the berry crumble.

And taking cupcake whimsy to new heights, they even offer "petcakes" (my name), with a biscuit-topped carob cupcake for dogs:

and catnip-and-cheese for kitty, topped with a goldfish cracker:

I walked into Kickass Cupcakes feeling cynical. (Yes, cynical about cupcakes. What's my problem?) But true to its sassy name (I was ready to be annoyed by that, too), this little bakery totally won me over with its creativity and sense of humor. I walked out with a sampler of four different cupcake flavors.

The Kickass block of Highland Ave. is turning into a mini baking district, too, with a storefront for the Maine-based sourdough bread bakery When Pigs Fly just two doors down.

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