Thursday, July 29, 2010

Christmas In July: A visit to Southport.

THE HEARTS: The Christmas House, Port City Java employees, beautiful views, great shops
THE FARTS: Stores open at 10AM

Young At Heart

Twas the night before August, when all through our house
We tore up the place, looking for a cool blouse.
Early am we drove to locate St. Nick,
And landed in Southport in a lick.

There were lots of places for Santa to hide,
Including in the water that spread so wide.
YOF in her t-shirt, and I in my cap,
Bound for the downtown to see what was on tap.

Inside Port City Java we stopped for awhile,
And choose a goodie from their pile.
I questioned Santa's Elfin girl,
Who exclaimed he just left in a whirl.

The sun on the streets of the main thorough fair,
Led us from shop to shop without a care.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a magnificent house, with tons of reindeer.

Up to the entrance we flew so quick,
Just knowing we had found St. Nick.
More rapid than ever, we entered his summer home,
And were greeted by a multi-colored gnome.

Santa loved gardening and one could rightly tell,
There were tons of goodies that were oh so swell!
Each room was decorated with exquisite care,
With everything imaginable in Christmas ware.

Downstairs was an ice cream shop filled with flavors to taste,
And lots of visitors obliged without haste.
One of my favs is a room full of candy,
I bought licorice...just oh so dandy.

Around the corner, an animal filled room awaited,
And we entered, yes we were baited.
Lions, tigers, and bears called out my name,
Take me home, take me home, I will be tame!

Ornaments galore hung from ceiling to floor,
And garland wrapped every single door.
Red, green and white was the primary theme,
But we were intrigued by a beautiful glowing beam.

Up, up the stairs we rose,
Only to encounter Halloween foes.
Nearby lurked a fall festive place,
But we came for a purpose and entered his space.

Indeed we had found him, relaxing a bit,
He welcomed us and didn't have a fit.
He told us in his jolly old way,
Come any day and do plan to stay!

Visit my shops, you'll find them plenty galore,
Lining every nook and cranny in Southport for sure.
There is lots to eat, lots to do and see,
And all this you can do at a reasonable fee.

I'll be here for awhile he assured us that day,
So please come and visit and do plan to play.
All through the summer and even into the Fall,
I'll be waiting for you, no need to call.

Ho! Ho! KISS,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dowtown Wilmington In A Flash

Young At Heart says...

Downtown Wilmington is truly a fantastic place! There is so much to do, see, eat, and just enjoy. Rather than having me babble about it all, I figured a picture is a thousand words. So here goes...

I really do love living here!

Flashy KISS,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We Are The World: Where to Volunteer

Young Old Fart says...

You're sittin' in your car, listening to the radio. You're thinking, "Aw damn, Justin Bieber is on again...if only I was 15 and able to pull off a bowl haircut, maybe I would be famous too." You change the station because, really, no one likes pretentious pre-pubescent boys. Alright, this station is a bit, sweet, MJ back in the day. "We Are The World" blasts through your speakers. Yes, it's ridiculously cheesy. But, it sends a pretty powerful message. Great, now you're feeling guilty. 1) You haven't donated money to a charity since Christmas, 2) You haven't called Grammy back, and 3) You JUST finished swiggin' water out of a PLASTIC water bottle. Okay, it's official, you're the spawn of Satan.

Now don't overreact. You can fix this. First, make sure you recycle. Second, stop at the local Target or Walmart and get yourself a stainless steel water bottle. Third, call Grammy (you DO want to keep your title as "her favorite," don't you?). Finally, instead of just giving money to a worthy cause, maybe you should donate some time. But where oh where to go? Don't worry Antichrist, I have you covered:

  • If you like fishes and other slimy things, try Ft Fisher Aquarium (sharks need love too).
  • Are you good with kids? Check out The Children's Museum.
  • Artsy-fartsy type of person? Then, Cameron Art Museum is probably for you.
  • The place I spend my time at is The Cape Fear Red Cross. They need a wide range of good-doers, from office workers to disaster relief helpers.
  • Enjoy local history? The Cape Fear Museum needs your help (besides volunteers get benefits!).
  • How about supporting the performing arts and checking out Thalian Hall?
  • Maybe you're a people person. In that case, Good Shepherd Center is definitely worthy of your time.
  • Liberty Hospice offers a tough but heartfelt opportunity.
  • I could go on all day. If you don't see something that suits your fancy then you're a) extremely picky and b) in need of Volunteer Match (it lists a bunch of opportunities around your area).
Okay buddy, I think you're set to go. So, what have we learned today? 1) Volunteering one's time is a great way to help make the world a better place and 2) Grammy doesn't appreciate when her little Pooh Bear waits three days to call her back. Well, look at that...Pooh Bear is already sprouting wings.

Kittens and fudge,

Friday, July 23, 2010

When The Cupcake Crumbles: Review of Coastal Cupcakes

THE HEARTS: location, packaging, close to free parking, cream cheese frosting, decent chocolate cake

THE FARTS: dry cake, bad chocolate frosting, few options, frosting too dense, no seating inside, too small

Young Old Fart says...

Friends, family, and people I don't even know, often ask me why I am single. Why don't I put myself out there? Why don't I pick up guys while I'm downtown? Heck, in their opinion, if I threw on some lipstick and spritzed some perfume, I could probably get some schmuck at the grocery store. Every time I am reprimanded with suggestions, such as these, I retort with my Buddhist/inner-soul-searchy/really deep answer: Why do I need a man when there are cats, Grey's Anatomy, and most of all... fattening foods? I know ladies, I know...I just blew your minds and potentially changed your lives forever.

So, this past week, I was in need of some lovin', and what better way to fill both my heart and tummy than to shove several cupcakes down my throat? I had been hearing about this joint Coastal Cupcakes for quite some time. While some of my friends recommended it, I also heard some not so great reviews. Either way, I really wanted to give it a go (if not for my own curiosity than for the support of a local business).

The outside looked really promising, it exuded "cute, local eatery." However, when we stepped inside, I was underwhelmed by the choices and size of the cupcakes. IMHO, bigger is ALWAYS better...but, I figured the petiteness simply translated to OUTSTANDING flavor. Boy, was I wrong.

I love coconut, so I chose the coconut cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Since my mom picked one with chocolate frosting, I figured I would test out their vanilla. To my utter shock, there wasn't one cupcake with regular vanilla frosting (weird). Alas, I threw in the towel, and picked chocolate with cream cheese frosting.

First off, the box they came in was adorable. Unfortunately, don't
judge this book (I mean cupcake) by its cover (I mean box). My mom and I wanted to give a complete and fair review of all the cupcakes so we split the four. Before I begin with mine, I'll say right now that my mom's chocolate peanut butter one was my absolute least favorite. The cupcake literally crumbled when I cut it in half. The cake was very dry, the frosting was way too dense and fell off the cake, and it just lacked flavor. As far as the red velvet goes, the cake was dry (yet again), tasted like cornbread, and while the frosting was the best part it was still too dense.

The chocolate with cream cheese frosting had the best cake. It was the only somewhat moist one out of the four. While I thoroughly enjoyed the tangy, not overly-sweet cream cheese frosting, it absolutely did not belong with the chocolate cake. Again, where was their vanilla icing? It was a worse pairing than Drew Barrymore and Tom Green.

The coconut with *SURPRISE* cream cheese frosting was the best overall. The cake was still dry and definitely was NOT coconut flavored (YAH thinks it had a lemony undertone). However, while the cake wasn't terrible, it certainly wasn't good. Luckily, the cream cheese frosting with the coconut shavings overpowered the "eh" base.

All in all, I really hate to say this because I SO wanted to love this place, but I won't be purchasing Coastal Cupcakes again. I suggest they increase their size, offer more options (maybe some with vanilla frosting?), add some pizazz to their offerings (sprinkles, anyone?), completely redo their cake recipes (dry cake is NOT acceptable), spread their frosting over THE WHOLE cupcake (share the love people), and lighten up the density of their icing. Basically, unless CC changes nearly everything, I cannot give them a thumbs up. The worst part are starting to look good to me now.

Kittens and fudge,

P.S. Do any of you know where I can get a good cupcake?

Young At Heart says...

Right out of the gate, I have to admit that I am not the cupcake fanatic in our family. That crown belongs to YOF. I will eat cupcakes (any cake for that matter) as a second choice when it comes to desserts. My heart belongs to say…chocolate mousse, creme brulee, fried ice cream and other goodies such as these. But, I am definitely very familiar with cake offerings from top notch bakeries. I have been fortunate enough to experience well known NY bakeries as well as a few in California. OK, if you haven't guessed it by now, I am trying to figure out a way to deliver my critique of our newest adventure without sounding overly harsh.
I want every single business to survive, and even more so, prosper and thrive. However, in this case, it baffles me as to how CC is making enough money to stay in business, let alone, warrant opening a second location. Perhaps there is a strategy or audience in their business plan that is not apparent?

On the positive, the location downtown is definitely a winner. Even though parking can be a challenge at times, they were smart enough to select a location that does have a parking garage around the corner ( it offers 1 hour of free parking!). Great start!

Upon entering the business, one is greeted by a glassed display case with their offerings. Meager is the word that came to my mind. I mean really, their only product is cupcakes and yet on this given day, I only saw a small portion of each flavor that they were selling. And the size of the cupcake is also another element that baffles me. I would like to think that perhaps their business plan was written for a gourmet bake shop, but unfortunately, I did not find the flavors or the presentation as an indicator of gourmet. And if they are not trying to be gourmet, but rather an old hometown cupcake shop, then by all means….kick it up a notch! Offer larger-sized cupcakes, fully iced, with garnishments that entice the eyes, and put out a few tables with pretty tablecloths to inspire eating on the premises.

Okay, onto the critique. I purchased the peanut butter cupcake (one of their specials for that day) and their standard red velvet cupcake iced with cream cheese frosting. Neither one impressed me. I will say, the cream cheese frosting was well done. It was flavorful and the consistency was right. The red velvet cake itself was dry, and although I am not a professional baker (and never attested to being one), I would think that icing the entire surface of any cupcake would allow the eater to taste both the icing and the cake in one bite and help to keep the cupcake from drying out (which was a problem with all the cupcakes we purchased). Also, the peanut butter cupcake center, in my opinion, should have been more like a peanut butter mousse rather then a small peanut butter cup. When I bit into the cupcake, it fell out. Put the peanut butter cup on top for both presentation and flavor.

I can only hope that as this business continues to try and grow, it looks outside of Wilmington for ideas to inspire its growth. Sometimes it is best to step outside the box for a different view.

Crumb KISS,