Rainy days suck. Here in Singapore, over the past few days, it’s been pouring almost daily. According to local weather forecasts, the rain isn’t going to stop. It doesn’t rain constantly, mind you. It comes and goes in spurts. It could be perfectly sunny when you get out of bed, but by lunch time, it’s dark, hazy and wet.
During our visit to the USA earlier this year, S and I made a pilgrimage of sorts to Sprinkles, the super-cool cupcake shop that we first discovered via Matt Bites. We loved the pretty cakes, the sleek packaging, and the minimalist-chic interiors (I also liked the very cute sales staff, not that I was going to admit that to S). While there, we greedily devoured several of the cakes, washed down with tall glasses of organic milk. We also bought a couple of things to bring home, presents for friends and a very nicely-packaged tube of Red Velvet cupcake mix for ourselves.
For the past couple of months, the Red Velvet cake mix has sat on a counter in our main hallway. We’d walk past it daily, tempted each time to crack it open and whip up a delicious batch of cupcakes. But we had promised ourselves that this sweet treat would be saved for a “rainy day”, so to speak. Whether S had meant that to be a figurative rainy day or not, I’ll never know. This past week, I decided that the crappy weather was excuse enough to finally open the cupcake kit and bake a little Red Velvet sunshine.
Amusingly, when I opened the kit, I discovered that while the mix was correct, the instructions were mis-packaged. Instead of the Red Velvet cupcake instructions, we had been given notes for making Sprinkles’ dark chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting. Fortunately, the side of the tube the mix came in had a list of “What You’ll Need” for the Red Velvet cupcakes. Using that and intuiting how and when to mix ingredients, S and I forged ahead.
Red Velvet cake, for those who haven’t tried it, is a cocoa-based cake, spiked with a healthy dose of red food colouring and a little white vinegar. It is traditionally topped with a cream cheese frosting. The Sprinkles cupcakes came out really well. The cake itself had a nice, moist fluffiness. It was also surprisingly not that sweet, which given how sweet the frosting was, was a very good thing. These cupcakes were really good. Good enough to inspire me to start researching Red Velvet cake recipes (I’ve found two so far), which I plan on pairing with Martha Stewart’s orange-cream cheese frosting. In the meantime (and until I whip up a batch from scratch, at which point I’ll post a recipe), I’ve been happily enjoying the Sprinkles cupcakes, which are perfect with a well-brewed cup of tea. They’ve been the perfect antidote for a week of crappy weather.
Another little thing in Red
I travel a lot. And I try as much as possible to pack light. So when a friend of mine recently showed me the XMI X-Mini speaker, I was thrilled. Well, to be honest, first I was a tad skeptical. Then I tried it out. And then I was thrilled. This little tiny speaker, which you twist open and gently pull open when in use, is surprisingly clear and even more surprisingly, quite loud, loud enough at least to fill a hotel room. You can plug it into any MP3 player or other device with a single jack output. I use mine, of course, with my red iPod Nano, which I feel is a perfect match. You can recharge the X-Mini via USB, which means not having to carry extra power cords or adapters when you’re on the road (a major plus).
S was equally thrilled with the palm-sized speaker. While I like the red model, she prefers the black version (not surprising as her iPod Nano is also black). She’s been using hers in the kitchen a lot. She loves that she can just pop it open, plug in her iPod and she has her library of music at her finger tips. She’s off to Germany this weekend for a week and I know she plans to bring it along as well.
The coolest thing about the X-Mini is the fact that something so small is so powerful. The design is cute — arguably, it’s not the sexiest thing out there. But it is pretty cool. And for what it is, it’s pretty darned amazing.