Like what you see?

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to follow me along as I stumble through traveling and baking adventures. Sign up to receive The Traveling Cupcake via email or RSS feed - the links are on the right! Also, make sure to check out the mini traveling cupcake for all of my baby updates. Hope to see you again soon!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Its official...

St Pancras International Train Station

London has Olympics fever!

Have you applied for your tickets yet?


But dont worry - only 2.5 million people signed up for ticket sales notification through the London 2012 Olympic website, so I'm sure we'll get tickets.

Or not.

We might get tickets to the BMX events Brian signed up for.



There are 6.6 million tickets for sale though - so if you haven't signed up yet, get on it! Anyone around the world can apply for tickets as long as you have a Visa card that expires after July 2011.

You never know - you might just lucky! And if we don't - you can rent our flat for the low, low price of 6x our monthly rent.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I got the camera stick

Hopefully you have a little 50 Cent stuck in your head now (what song? anyone? anyone?)

I would like to introduce you, to someone something very special to me.

It could be, my new favorite thing ever.

I think I'll call it Sprinkles.

Oh was my pet bunny rabbit when I was a wee one (true story, who names their pet after cupcake toppings??)

This my friends, is the Xshot (aka The Camera Stick)

I know, I know - I am a huge nerd. But hear me out.

Brian and I first spotted this little gem when we were traveling through Slovenia a year and a half ago. We saw a couple using the Xshot and snickered to each other -

"What a bunch of dorks, what are they using to take their picture? Har har har"

And then - these happened...

Whats missing from this picture, you might ask?

Oh nothing...just this...

And then this little gem

Missing from this photo? 

Gross, what a horrible view...

I could show you example after example of pretty horrible pictures of us that we have gotten when asking random strangers to help us out. But I'll spare you the gory details. You're welcome.

And then...slowly we remembered that strange couple, up on a hill top in Slovenia. Maybe they weren't so silly after all!

And so the search began...for the elusive camera stick.

We asked every single camera shop we went in, in every town and city we visited. No one had a clue what we were asking about. The closest thing we could find was a monopod. Camera stick fail.

Time was getting tight - we knew we had to get our hands on one of these puppies before our honeymoon in Vietnam. We would like to have some nice photos to remember the trip by, with both of us in them, and hopefully some amazing scenery in the background. My Vietnamese is a little rusty, so I dont think I'll be asking too many people on the street.

And now I would like to thank Google. Thank you Google. I type such random, weird phrases into your handy search bar and you deliver the most amazing results.

And now, thanks to this little addition to our family, we are sure to get many more wonderful pictures (with BOTH of us in them!) like these -

the ceiling at versailles

les invalides

the eiffel tower

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Project 52 - week 11...need your help!

Ok my friends, I need your help this week.

Now, I know that Project 52 isn't the most important/crucial/serious project in the world, but I like to make sure that each week I am submitting my absolute best photo.

My photo this week will be coming from my recent trip to Barcelona (see here and here if you missed it), since its the only chance I have had to take photos this week.

And I'm stuck.

I can't decide which photo to submit as my best representation of this weeks theme - Darks and Lights

(its not that I am sooo amazing at photography and have a hundred photos I'm trying to decide between, really it's only two - but you know how I am at making decisions...)


So here we go...don't be too harsh


So, lets hear it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Uno, dos, tres

Actually, just uno and dos - its Barcelona part 2!

On our third and last day of our trip we woke up to bright sunshine and blue skies - hooray!!

Thank goodness, because we were scheduled to go on a four hour bike tour and doing so in the pouring rain would be - how do you say - no bueno.

The bike tour started in Sant Juame Square. We broke in to smaller (and by smaller I mean 20 people) groups (apparently bike tours are popular on sunny days) and headed out.

We saw City Hall...

The Barcelona Cathedral...
notice the scaffolding that graces many of our photos
 and traditional Catalan Sunday dance, called Sardana...

the Arc de Triumf (Spanish style)...

and the Parc de la Ciutadella...

Brian got a little fancy with his camera...

and then I got a little fancy with mine...

We saw Sagrada Familia and learned more about Antoni Gaudi...

And then.

And then - we went to heaven

A little place I like to call, the beach.

*cue angels*

Man, I love the beach.

If you find yourself in Barcelona I highly recommend the Fat Tire Bike Tour that we took. The city is relatively easy to navigate on bikes, the city is extremely bike friendly (bike lanes on most roads and sidewalks) and the guides are witty and knowledgable about the city.

Next up, Project 52 week 11 and later next week - Paris!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hola Barcelona

This weekend we were visiting some friends who are living in Barcelona for a few months. First they moved from Boston to London, and then after a year or so they moved to Barcelona for six months. And then I hated them.

Just kidding - I still love you guys!

Especially since you let us stay with you for three days and took us to lots of yummy tapas bars and showed us around Barcelona.

Thanks guys!

Right - back to the trip.  We landed around lunch time on Friday and the sun was shining! Don't worry, it promptly hid behind clouds less than 60 minutes after touchdown, but we sure did enjoy those first 58 sunny minutes of being in Spain.

First order of business - TAPAS!

Ok, glad we got that out of our system.

(above tapas can be found at Tapas 24)

(I highly recommend them)

Next - we were off to Casa Batllo, the house without any straight lines by Antoni Gaudi.

this is actually a close up of the wall

I had never seen any of Gaudi's work before. Casa Batllo (pronounced 'by-yo') is very colorful and curvaceous, almost mystical (sometimes in a magic mushroom kind of way). There are many of Gaudi's famous works in Barcelona - Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Sagrada Familia, Park Guell - among many others. In additional to having a very fluid and magical element to most of his works, they typically are very colorful and have a lot of mosaics that add to the magical element.

We decided to keep with the Gaudi theme and walk over to probably Gaudi's most famous work of art - Sagrada Familia (sacred family)

As you can see, the cathedral isn't finished yet.  Construction with Gaudi started in 1883, and was only a quarter finished by the time he died in 1926. People predict it will take another 15 years to complete the cathedral, just in time for the 100 year anniversary of Gaudis death. Although some believe that the Sagrada Familia will never be finished, partly due to the fact that a high speed rail station is being built underneath the foundation of the church.  I guess only time will tell!

We walked all the way to the cathedral but only got to see the outside. By the time we arrived it was almost closing time...things we should have checked before trekking all the way there.

The second day of our trip was really something special.

So special I haven't even seen anything like it in London in a really long time.


Sure, it rains in London all the time. But usually its a slow, damp, cold drizzle that sort of hangs around like a creepy guy at the pub.

This, was something different.

This was pouring, pissing down, chucking, cats and dogs rain.

All. Day.

We tried going to Sagrada Familia again, suspecting no person in their right mind would stand in line in this terrible weather.

Oh Barcelona tourists - your commitment astounds me.

We rolled up to the cathedral to find a hundred people waiting in line.  We high-tailed it to the Picasso Museum (pretty original idea wasn't it, go to a museum on a rainy day??), and again - a big long line. At this point we figured we might as well stay and wait in line - it was clear this was becoming a pattern.

A couple of hours later (and a tiny bit drier) we headed back out in to the monsoon.

And then...a ray of sunshine... the form of chocolate.

These were literally the only photos I took all day with my camera.



Delightful for sure.

The rest of the day was spent tapas bar hopping (thanks to Cerveceria Catalana) and ended with a bottle of cava and dinner at Hotel Omm. Not too shabby for a rainy day.

Stay tuned for day three in Barcelona - the day the sun returned.

For now, here is the link to our photos!

Facebook album

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Project 52 - week 9 and 10

For once...I am submitting my Project 52 before the last day I can turn it in!  Procrastination - I'm done with you!

Lies. Thats a big fat lie.

I'm sorry for lying to you.

Before we get to week 10 I'll back track to week 9. Actually, you've already seen this photo. Hopefully it didn't make you drool too much...

The theme for week 9 was Express Yourself. I think the best way I express myself is through my baking!

The theme for week 10 is Childhood Toys.

This was a hard for me (I feel like I say this a lot!) - since we don't have any kids of our own, and don't really have any friends who have kids (in London at least), I didn't really know what to take a picture of. 

On Saturday I walked around Hampstead Heath with my friend Emily to take some photos. She wanted some practice using her dSLR and I'm always game for a photo session. We ended up in a semi wooded area just as the sun went behind the clouds. I shot a picture of this amazing tree - this area looked like we were in some kind of fairy book forrest.

I was uploading my photos on Sunday and was thinking about this weeks theme. When this photo popped up I immediately thought back to my parents front yard and how my sister and I used to climb the trees, in particular the one right in the middle of the front yard. I usually didn't make it past the first level of branches (guess this heights thing has been with me for a while) but I love those trees. We even take family photos in front of them (see below). 

I'm not sure if a tree counts as a "toy" but they sure are fun (and make good backgrounds)!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Lemon Curd Cake

This week, I made a cake.

This cake to be exact...

curtesy of Martha

Actually, the picture that I have in my Baking Handbook has THREE layers of lemon curd. Ohhh yeahhh. Three.Layers.

Whats the occasion? A coworker of mine is leaving and its her last week - I thought we should have a little cake to wish her luck in the future.

And I had a jar of lemon curd in the fridge that I was dying to use on something other than toast.

So, I made the cake.

Don't mind the dirty dishes in the back...

Bake two 9" cakes made with lemon zest and sour cream to give it some *zing!*

Each cake is cut in half and then filled with three luscious layers of lemon curd.

And then, I made a really whacky whipped frosting - it involves eggs whites, white sugar and butter.  I dont think I have ever made frosting without powdered sugar! And right before I added the butter to the whipped sugar and eggs whites, I nearly thought I invented Fluff.

But then I remembered that Fluff was already invented, which is why I knew the name.

Invention fail.


Lemon Curd Cake success!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Photography 101

When I was in high school I was what you might call a bookworm/creative type.  Sports? I left that to my sister.  Academics? My grades were decent but certainly not at the top of my class.  But give me a stack of books or a drawing pad and I could keep myself occupied for the rest of the day.  I took a lot of art classes and for the most part I enjoyed all of them (though working with clay was never my strong suit).  Perhaps the class that I loved the most though, was Photography.

I took a few photography classes in high school with my dads old Pentax SLR camera.  Pretty much from the first click I was in love. The sound of the shutter is music to my ears. I especially loved the developing part of photography class (yes - this was back in the day when we used film cameras, not digital!). I loved being in the dark room - so dark, quiet and peaceful. Developing the film and seeing your images on that first contact sheet. And the best part - watching your photos come to life in the developing chemicals. The image literally appears before your eyes.

Central Park 2004 - taken with my SLR
In college I had to get serious though - time to focus on classes for my future career! I had a limited number of elective classes that I could take, and I saved those for when I studied abroad in Italy.  I knew that being in Italy would be one of the best places to take a photography course. And man, was it ever.  My skills had waned a bit by that time - it has been over 3 years since I had been in the darkroom. But I still have many of those images hung up around my apartment today.

Marist College - Florence 2003! 
Right, back to the present. As you might notice from my blog - I still like to take pictures. Though I can't take credit for all of the photos on this site - my husband has a very keen eye for photography as well - hopefully it is very clear that I really enjoy it.  After receiving a dSLR camera from my brothers in-law for our wedding, I was thrilled to get back in to the mechanics of taking pictures.

Did I mention that the last photography course I took was in the spring of 2003? That would be SEVEN years before I got my hands on another SLR camera (which makes me sick to think that it was seven - oh wait now EIGHT years since I was studying in Florence). To say I had forgotten how to use an SLR would be an understatement. Sure, I knew what the aperture and the shutter speed did on a camera - but did I remember how to set them properly to take a good picture? Not even a chance.

After a few months of playing around with the manual settings on my own and getting fairly frustrated, I knew I needed some help. So, I decided to take a photography course. I didn't want to take a semester long course at college, really all I needed was a refresher. And thats when I found LSP. London School of Photography. They offer short courses (either one weekend or four nights after work) for beginners, intermediates and in special topics.

Finally, my week had come - I was going back to school! It was a little hard sitting in a class room for 3 hours after a long day of work, but once we really got in to the material the time literally flew by.

What did we learn about?

Besides all of the obvious stuff - the bones of a dSLR, what photography is (playing with light) - we learned about...

Capturing light in dark rooms...

Painting with light...

I managed to get this image by myself by setting the camera on the kitchen table, pushing the button and then running in to position to make the heart shape with the candle I was holding...all in the dark

Ok - this picture didn't have anything to do with lessons learned in class, but I was dog sitting that week and he's just too cute not to take pictures of!

Back to the lessons...
We learned about capturing moving objects and objects in motion...

Is it just me or does the guy on the bike look like a ghost?
Panning to capture moving objects...

Depth of field...

And all of these lessons rolled in to one!

On the last day of class we were each given individual assignments and then we went down to Chinatown to shoot images for this assignment.

My assignment was "details". 

Go figure. 

I think my teacher caught on to my macro setting obsession.

Here are my final photos from my final project - 

Overall I was very happy with this class. It wasn't too intense and didn't move too fast. I got a really good refresher on all of the parts of the camera - and most importantly - I felt in control of the camera again. 

Most times...