Sunday, April 20, 2014

Toasts | four years

© Photograph by Alice Gao Photography

I can hardly believe that I've been with this crazy awesome guy for four years.

Time -- it's quite a remarkable thing; it can fly by so quickly before your eyes, yet it can feel static at times, permitting us as human beings to live entirely in any and all given moments. I always experience that surreal feeling whenever I think about our relationship and how long it has been. There are times when I feel as if the day we'd met had only just happened the day prior (and that same spark is still ever-present) while similarly feeling as if we've known each other way longer than four years, possibly forever. To share that level of comfort with someone is so special, and I am thankful for it every day. 

As a young girl, I had always dreamt of what it would be like to have someone as your other (read: better) half. I wondered how it would happen; when it would happen; and more importantly, who this mysterious someone would be. Would he be cute (read: would he think I was cute)? Would he choose me in the same way I would choose him? Would he love me for all of my quirks (read: would have have similar ones)? Would we inspire each other to be the best version of ourselves? Would he know exactly how to hold my heart?

Fast-forward through the days of being unlucky in and wronged by love; of lost confidence and bruised self-esteem; and of endless longing to feel a little less impatient and alone. The singular word that brought us together -- crepuscular (i.e., of, relating to, or resembling twilight) -- is a constant reminder that having faith in where this life will take you can be tough at first but can be so rewarding down the road. The stars aligned for me on that fateful day four Aprils ago, when I received my first e-dating match (you know, for this guy named Marcus, hehe). Funny enough, it happened seemingly like twilight -- that destined meeting -- and suddenly, it was hook, line, and sinker. He was indeed cute then as he is now; loves me for all (errr, maybe most, haha) of my quirks; inspires me to be a better person each and every day; and holds my heart exactly how it should be held -- with warmth, care, and purpose.

Of the albums I've had on repeat lately, Sara Bareilles (who is no stranger to be mentioned here at Four Tines) and her most recent album The Blessed Unrest is one that truly resonates with me. There was one song in particular that got me right in the heartstrings, entitled "I Choose You". I'd recently discovered that she as a songwriter wanted to explore the idea of "creating space for love" -- an idea sparked incidentally by a fan who came up to her after a show and shared, "My wife and I love your music, but your music is always so sad, and we had nothing to play at our wedding..." So she didn't want write a song "simply to fill that niche" but to think about what a song like that would sound like and how she could manifest that feeling and sentiment inside herself. To her, that meant "a love note to the other half of your heart":

There was a time when I would have believed them--
If they told me you could not come true,
Just love's illusion;
But then you found me and everything changed,
And I believe in something again--

My whole heart
Will be yours forever;
This is a beautiful start
To a lifelong love letter--

Tell the world that we finally got it all right--
I choose you;
I will become yours and you will become mine--
I choose you, I choose you;


We are not perfect,
We'll learn from our mistakes--
And as long as it takes,
I will prove my love to you;
I am not scared of the elements,
I am under-prepared, but I am willing--
And even better,
I get to be the other half of you--

While I love the playfulness of the song and how her message and lyrics are strung together so seamlessly, that last line really is the real tearjerker for me because it rings so true. I get to be the other half of someone else, and if I get to spend the rest of my life being this someone's lobster, rock, soup snake, and heart-holder -- then I will know that I've lived my life wholeheartedly.

Happy Anniversary to Marcus, the guy I will always choose indefinitely -- I love you more than words can say, and I look forward to celebrating another wonderful year with you!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dessert | Sprinkles Cupcake ATM (NYC)

On Saturday, Jess and I found our way to the latest queuein' craze in New York City: the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. Currently residing right next to the NYC flagship location, the Cupcake ATM opened two weeks ago, and we both definitely were fascinated not only by its novelty, but also about how it worked. I mean, c'mon! How can you not be curious about it?

By the time we got there on Saturday afternoon around 4 PM, there was already a line past the entrance of Sprinkles Cupcakes, but in the grand scheme of things (for a NYC line, that is), it wasn't bad at all.

Lo' and behold -- the Cupcake ATM in the flesh:

We made sure not to read too much about it so that when it came to be our turn, we'd be magically surprised. For all we knew, there was someone behind the contraption, manning the ATM orders. Boy did we underestimate the Cupcake ATM! You can see lit-up shelves lined with individually boxed cupcakes behind the translucent storefront, which incidentally holds up to 760 treats (cupcakes, cookies, etc.). The machine is continuously restocked throughout the day and evening with baked goods no more than several hours old and close to 20 flavors at a time. The best part? Just like a financial institution's ATM, the Cupcake ATM is open 24 hours, seven days a week!

After waiting about 20-25 minutes (and contemplating this month's flavors), it was finally our turn! The screen asks you to press it to begin, and it prompts you to select a cupcake flavor. I believe you can select up to four cupcakes per transaction (as the first iteration of the machine in Beverly Hills was upgraded from one to four at a time). After you select your desired flavor(s), credit card payment is requested, and then the magic begins.

The Cupcake ATM screen shows an internal camera of the ATM at work -- essentially the robotic requisition of your desired cupcake(s). So cool, right?! Wait, there's more!

Once the Cupcake ATM has done its handy work (a minute or so), the dispenser door opens up, and voilà -- a literal cupcake withdrawal!

Me with the ridiculously cute Cupcake ATM!

Jess withdrew the last dark chocolate (Belgian dark chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate frosting), which is always a go-to for us. She also got a second flavor -- coconut (Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with coconut cream cheese frosting).

As for me, I withdrew two flavors of the month -- Cuban coffee (pictured above: Belgian light chocolate cake with powerful coffee frosting and notes of cinnamon and cocoa) and lemon meringue (graham cracker-lined fragrant lemon cake filled with lemon curd topped with toasted meringue) as well as triple cinnamon (lightly spiced buttermilk cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting dusted with cinnamon sugar), which is now my new favorite.

Until next time...

Findings: While many people may remain skeptical about the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, I think the idea is ingenious, and the execution embodies this ingenuity in its streamlined and awe-striking design. Talk about satisfying the late-night munchies with a moist and perfectly sweet treat from Sprinkles at any hour of the night! And like you may pay a convenience fee at a monetary ATM, there is a 75-cent premium added to the bakery's per-cupcake price for all cupcakes withdrawn from the Cupcake ATM -- which makes total sense given the extra packaging and added convenience. The novelty of the Cupcake ATM reignites a familiar excitement to a city where the cupcake has come and gone in the last decade. Highly recommended to impress out-of-towners (or even for someone who needs to renew his or her faith in the gratification received from enjoying a dessert as simple as a cupcake, especially one dispensed from an ATM for cupcakes)! I would say it's definitely something to try once yourself -- you'll be glad you did. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with the flagship bakery (see reviews here and here) right next door.

Price point: $4.25 for each ATM-withdrawn cupcake (originally $3.50 from bakery)

--April 5, 2014

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM
780 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10065


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