Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cupcakes 24/7

Every so often, I get a craving for a cupcake.

I blame this on Buttercup Bakery.  Ever since I tried their version of the red velvet cupcake, I was hooked!  There’s something about rich red chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting that makes my taste buds sing!  Their classic vanilla cupcake is to die for as well.  Happiness on a plate, indeed! :)  And for a dessert lover like me, it certainly hits the (sweet) spot.

Now can you imagine being able to satisfy your cupcake cravings 24/7?  Can you imagine not having to wait for the corner bakeshop to open before indulging yourself in your favorite cupcakes?

This is the idea behind Sprinkles Cupcakes’ 24-hour cupcake automat.  It is the first-ever machine of its kind, dispensing cupcakes just like an ATM so customers can have access to freshly baked cupcake goodies any time of the day, even during the wee hours of the morning!  Genius, right?

The first cupcake ATM was launched by Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson and is located right outside their original Beverly Hills bakeshop.  Customers simply need to insert their credit card and pay the $4 cost to be able to choose their cupcake via touchscreen.  Among the available flavors are the hugely popular red velvet, chocolate, vanilla, chocolate marshmallow and Irish chocolate.

According to Nelson, the idea for the cupcake ATM came to her when she was pregnant with her second child.  “I thought to myself, I’m the owner of a cupcake bakery and even I can’t get a cupcake in the middle of the night. So I had to come up with something.”

And we are sooooo glad you did, Candace!

Even if I have to content myself with a virtual sugar high for now, it’s nice to know that there is something to look forward to when I visit LA.  Or hopefully, the Sprinkles cupcake ATM will make its way over to the East Coast—that would be even better!

Click here to see how the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM works!

Images via blogs.laweekly.com, abcnews.go.com, sprinkles.com

iPhoneography

I was a very happy and satisfied Nokia user up until I encountered Hipstamatic for iPhone.

Being the photography junkie that I am, I immediately fell in love with the “lomo-fied” pictures and their vintage feel.  At that time, my daughter had also just been born so I thoroughly enjoyed documenting her first few months with my husband’s iPhone.  So unfortunately for my Nokia, while I loved its user-friendliness and familiarity, I knew that it was just a matter of time before I’d switch to the “other side”.

Fast forward to a year and a half later (yes, I actually held out for quite a long time!), I am now a happy and (pretty) satisfied iPhone user.  While I am honestly not a tech-savvy person and have yet to fully utilize all the features of my smart phone except to make calls,  I must say I am really loving the iPhone camera, and am thoroughly enjoying the photography apps I’ve downloaded.  It’s pretty handy especially when I want to capture images for my blog.  Now I no longer have to lug my Canon G10 around (which is quite hefty!), and just use my iPhone to take pictures, especially during those quick and impromptu moments.

Of all the photography apps I have, my favorites would have to be LemeCam, Instagram and Hipstamatic because they all allow me to experiment with various lenses and flash types.  They not only satisfy my need to be creative, but they also provide an element of surprise as I’m not quite sure how my picture will turn out until it pops up on my phone’s screen.

However, these apps also have their down side or limits.  First of all, I find it a bit of a hassle that there are too many buttons to press before getting to the app, then to the lens or flash of my choice.  Sometimes, by the time I’ve programmed the app, the “kodak moment” has already passed undocumented.  Speed and convenience are definitely key in capturing those precious and often “one-of” instances.

Secondly, while many of the photography apps are able to closely duplicate the functionality of DSLR camera lenses, they cannot quite match the caliber of images that use the actual hardware component.  The fisheye lens in my LemeCam, for example, can mirror the effect of an actual fisheye camera, but the image it produces is not exactly the same.

Also, if you are like me and really want to achieve the “0ld-school”/”low tech”/almost crude effect of lomo cameras, then you know that the iPhone photography apps fall short in this department as well.

Luckily, I recently came across some pretty cool iPhone accessories that not only address the shortcomings of these photography apps, but allow for endless hours of fun and creativity too!  Just because you have a modern phone, does not mean you’ll have to forgo the excitement and pleasure of taking pictures that have that quirky, retro feel.

I am ecstatic that the makers of the lomo camera Holga, have come out with a lens and filter kit that lets one transform their iPhone 4/4S into a Holga camera!

Isn’t the dial a pretty nifty touch?  It kind of takes me back to the time when black rotary telephones were still in use.  It’s so old school, I love it!

This kit actually just slips easily over the iPhone and acts as a protector as well. To use the filters, one just has to turn the dial and snap away!  It’s that simple and convenient!

Another plus is that this one kit gives you 9 effects to choose from (10, if you include normal, no-effect mode :)).  There are lenses that produce double, triple or quadruple identical images, filters that give your photographs a pink or green hue, there is also a macro lens for close-ups, as well as blue, yellow and red frames with cut out shapes.

With so many choices to play around with, and a price tag of about $25, this Holga lens kit is a steal!  The casing also comes in red, blue, black, silver and white :).

For those of you who are more serious iPhoneographers, I recommend Photojojo’s iPhone lens dial.  It is like the Holga lens kit such that the casing slips easily over the iPhone, and the lenses also resemble a rotary dial.  But that, pretty much, is where the similarity ends.

The iPhone lens dial has three optical-quality coated glass lenses: wide angle, fish eye and telephoto.  The wide angle lens is for capturing landscapes, the fish eye is perfect for those slightly distorted, bubble-type looking photos, and to capture a much closer shot of your subject, then the telephoto lens would come in really handy.

Speaking of handy, since the lenses are attached to your iPhone, there is no need to press a gajillion buttons before taking your photo.  Just rotate the dial, and click click click!

What’s also really cool about the lens dial from Photojojo is that the casing is not only slim and made from aircraft-grade aluminum, but it also comes with two tripod mounts for landscape or portrait shots.  Versus the Holga which is plastic and a bit flimsy, you can be sure the casing is extremely heavy duty and durable (it weighs heavier too :().

The only downside to this cool accessory is the price.  At $249, it’s a bit heavy on the pocket–which is why I recommend it for serious iPhoneographers only.  But if you really want to stretch the capability of your iPhone’s camera, you can’t go wrong with the Photojojo iPhone lens dial :).

Another quick-connect lens solution for the iPhone 4/4S that’s a bit easier on the budget is the olloclip(TM).

At only $70, it is a bargain compared to the iPhone lens dial, especially because its lenses perform the same function!  I also like that this lens is less bulky, detachable, and small enough to fit in your bag or pocket!

To use any of the lenses, all you have to do is slide the clip over your iPhone’s built in lens.  The olloclip(TM) is actually dual sided, with the macro lens cleverly hidden beneath the wide angle lens.  Just unscrew it, and you can take beautiful close up shots of your subject right away!  All this in as little as 4 seconds!  Is that speedy or what?!?  And no need to worry about the lens falling off as it fits quite securely and snugly over your iPhone.

Among these three choices, I think I’ve made up my mind to get the Holga and the olloclip(TM).  The first one is definitely for fun, the second to take serious, better quality pictures without having to take my serious, heavy camera with me :).

I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get my hands on these iPhone accessories!  I never thought I’d say it, but I’m really glad I switched to an iPhone :).

Photos via hardwarespere.com, freestylephoto.biz, olloclip.com, endgadget.com, geekalerts.com