Sunday, October 7, 2012

Change Happens!

It would be an understatement if I were to begin this sentence with "we have been busy here at The Cupcake Cottage", so I will just jump right in with, "I have some very exciting news to share with you, so here goes..."

About 18 months ago Juaquin and I were inching closer to the end of our five year lease for our little bakery.  We took a few moments and marveled at how quickly time had passed since opening the doors of our cupcake bakery in September 2006.  We also forced ourselves to visit memories of nervousness and hard work that went into creating this business.  Creating, and literally, building this bakery (with an approved commercial kitchen) was no easy feat, but with the help of our three amazing children, Joshua, Jana and Seth and the ever trust and faith in God, we turned a vision into a reality!  We set out to earn a living through baking and selling cupcakes and we have done it. 

 So here we were, at a cross-roads, considering the direction of The Cupcake Cottage, and two things really stood out: 1) the demand for our cupcakes was strong and continuing to grow even with NO effort to advertise and 2) as long as we continue to bake from scratch, each day were were open, and NEVER compromise that baking practice this bakery could continue and, more importantly, grow.  The real question we face was, "are we the ones to continue and grow this business to the potential we knew it possessed? " 

We began doing our homework by considering growing it ourselves.  We visited other locations for lease, considered additional employees, considered new flavors of cupcakes, considered growing 'the brand' and on and on with considerations.  We knew the business could grow, but we also considered where we were in our personal lives.  

Our three children (who were instrumental initially in helping us create this sweet spot) were growing up.  Joshua had graduated from UT, married his darling Sarah, and they were making their way in Austin.  Jana was nearing the completion of her education at the Air Force Academy and engaged to be married to her sweetheart, Stephen.  Seth was working and plugging along with his college education.  And,...that nagging desire to move out of the city and into the country was growing for me and Juaquin.  So much so we had increased  our 'Sunday drives' to other days of the week.  

By August 2011 a decision was made.  We would sell The Cupcake Cottage business!  We visited an attorney and began hashing out details of this sell.   I created a blog post that 'advertised' the selling of the business and we began to quietly get the word out that the bakery was for sell.  Over the years there have been plenty of people that had inquired about our business so there were enough 'leads' to get the word out about this sell.  

The following nine months we encountered a number of wonderful people interested in purchasing the business.  Various reasons kept any of these folks from committing completely and we knew it was just a matter of time before the next person that was meant to own this shop would come along, so we waited.  Baking continued as usual at the shop and we were very grateful that we were not desperate or in any hurry to sell.  

Finally, in May, my brother Joe emailed me asking about the status of the sell and asked if it would be alright if he gave our contact information to someone he knew that might be interested in the business.  I said "sure".  The rest, as they say, is history.  Over the next few months we worked toward getting the business and the many aspects involved in such a sell, sorted out, and as of Monday 1 October 2012, we are no longer the owners of The Cupcake Cottage. 

It goes without saying that this has been an emotional process.  We have no doubt that selling the business is the right direction, and we have no doubt that The Cupcake Cottage can carry on, but when I found myself crying without reason a couple of weeks ago while cleaning and clearing the shop I asked Juaquin "why am I so upset when I KNOW this is the right thing to do?"  As always, my dear husband set me right with his words and replied, "because, Sandra, you took a vision of nothing and made it real...much like when we had a baby and nurtured and directed that baby into an is a good, but sometimes tough emotional journey."  He was stating what I already knew, but boy-oh-boy am I glad I have him to state the obvious for me time and time again.

What I am also realizing is that I have completely underestimated the emotional reaction I am having to you, our amazing and deeply appreciated customer.  So many of you have become more than a customer to us.  So many of you have become our friends, our confidants, our concern and we will miss seeing and catching up with you over the counter.  That doesn't mean we will forget you.  In fact, I look forward to keeping up with loads of you because you and yours are in our thoughts and prayers and will remain there for a good while.

Finally, on to the joyful and most important part of this lengthy post:  The Cupcake Cottage (of Fort Worth, Texas) will carry on!  We are so incredibly grateful that someone has stepped up and recognized the value in this sweet spot.  So much so that they are determined to carry on and invest their time and energy into sustaining this cupcake bakery for YOU and the community of cupcake fans.  We hope you will embrace and encourage them as they learn the ways of the bakery, and do their best to keep the tradition of baking from scratch alive and well in west Fort Worth.  I will not include their names here as that will be a chapter they can create with you!

Thank you for taking time to read this post and thank you for supporting our mission these past six year!  For now... 

Peace, Love & Cupcakes,

Sandra (and Juaquin) Bradshaw
We would love to hear from you and hope you will email us with your contact information at:  

Friday, June 22, 2012


Fresh lemons after they have been zest (ed) and squeezed

If you are a frequent visitor of The Cupcake Cottage then you will know that we, almost always, offer a fruit flavor cupcake each day we bake.  This past week I had someone ask about our strawberry and the 'tiny bits' that are in the cake.  I gave an explanation and did not think much more about the question until a day or two later someone else asked the same thing.  Interesting....  Before I knew it, I kicked into 'teacher mode' and started doing some research.  I trust that my precious mom and dad rest with added peace knowing that my TCU degree from the College of Education has not one to waste even though I left the teaching profession to operate my own baking business.

Firstly, each of our fruit recipe is slightly different from flavor to flavor.  With our LEMON we zest fresh lemons, then squeeze the juice from the lemons and add a hint of pure lemon oil to the batter.  Same goes for our KEY LIME.  For BANANA we take our fresh bananas and store them in the freezer (a little trick I learned years ago) so that when it is time to bake we take the frozen bananas, let them thaw and voila!  They are a perfect consistency for mushing them up in the batter.

We use an unsweetened APPLESAUCE for our applesauce cupcake, pink lemonade concentrate for our PINK LEMONADE, and for BLUEBERRY we pop fresh blueberries in the batter and let them bake whole.  Wen we have PEACH on the menu you know that those peaches have come from a Texas harvest, preferably Parker County.  We peel each fresh peach and slice it up into little chunks and gently fold them into the batter, unlike our strawberry.  
Fresh strawberries ready to be rinsed, dried and blended
Pureed strawberry ready to be poured into the batter
 Which leads to that question I was asked earlier in the week about our STRAWBERRY cupcake.  Our strawberry flavor is achieved from fresh strawberries and nothing more.  We take our strawberries, cut them up, place them in a blender and puree  them.  We then pour this scrumptious puree into our batter.  The batter, along with the baked cupcake, will have little tiny flecks which are nothing more than proof of freshness.   You see, those little bits are teeny-tiny seeds!  Did you know that one strawberry can have as many as 200 of these bitty seeds?  The seeds of a strawberry actually grow on the outside of the fruit.  Yes, I became so curious I read about all sorts of little strawberry facts.  Every so often this freshly pureed fruit will take on a blueish/purple color for reasons unknown to us.  Added proof that we allow nature to take it's course in our kitchen. Here are two great links with additional details in case you are interested:
Strawberry Festival held in London (Ohio)
Strawberry Facts from 'Pick Your Own'

So there you have it, a little bit of information about some of our much loved Fruity Flavored Cupcakes!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy 96th Birthday!

It is always exciting to bake for special occasions!  Weeks ago we received a phone call from a woman inquiring about ordering cupcakes for her mother's birthday.  We discussed options, color of frosting and cost.
Birthday girl, Margaret, celebrating her 96th!

The following week the same sweet lady, Charlotte, along with her husband and mother, Margaret, entered our shop.  Immediately, she began to chat with her mother about the cupcakes in the case, and other things that caught their eye.  Her mother then announced to me, "I am visiting from Mississippi..." As I began to ask about her visit so far, her daughter gently led her mother to a table and chair and sweetly said, "you sit here while we order some cupcakes".  Turns out, her mom has been living with them for the past 4 years and her short term memory is not what it used to be.
Margaret shared those birthday cupcakes with Salon friends. 

The attentive daughter, walked back to the counter and explained that she wanted to order cupcakes for her mother's 96th birthday the following week.  We then went over details about the order, and I learned that, with the exception of the memory trouble, her mother was in very good health.  She looked it!!  

When Charlotte and her mother returned to pick up the cupcake order the following week, a few photos were snapped and I made sure to ask this birthday girl, "so Margaret, what is the secret to living to 96?"  Her clear, bright, blue eyes eagerly gazed past me as if searching for the perfect answer, and then she looked me squarely in my eyes and said, "Eat and Exercise!"  
Good answer!  =)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cowboy Up!

YEEE-HAW, Y'all,
It's Stock Show and Rodeo time here in Fort Worth, Texas!!

Like many of you, I have fond memories of gearing up for a trip to this January-February tradition that dates back to 1896. When I was a kid this event was still called The Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo.

I grew up on the far southwest side of Fort Worth. So far south that we were part of the tiny public school district of Crowley. There was one elementary school and one high school. Prayer and a 'thought for the day' was part of the morning announcement, Jackie Carden was our principal, not the name of a school (yet), and come January you were handed an admission ticket with an image of a giant PIG and the words Fat Stock Show stamped across it. This was your day pass to visit the fair grounds at Will Rogers Coliseum, usually for the first Monday the event was open.
Learning to "Cowboy Up" is part of being a Little Britches

Somewhere along the way it seems the pig image and the word 'fat' was dropped from the title leaving us with today's Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. It's been LOTS of years since I took time to visit the grounds and rodeo, but that does not lessen the fond memories of it all.

The good, and not so good, hightlights of those memories include: wearing bluejeans, a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, holding my nose and 'watching where I step' while walking through the barns (sheep being my favorite), cotton candy being whirled around a paper cone and handed directly to me by sticky bare-hands, Whiplash the cowboy monkey, rain, cold temps, the heavy haze and smell of cigarette and cigar smoke that hung in the air during the rodeo, my dad's love of taking my brother and I to gather a peek into the cowboy way of life, and eventually growing into high school, marching in the band and being part of opening day parade.

There is something comforting knowing that men, women and children continue the Cowboy way of life. Attention to detail matters, and for some reason, I think care and consideration for the many skills and responsibilities that goes into showing an animal, roping and riding is pretty darn cool!
The value of such skills matter, and such matters are worthy of support. Oh, I didn't have such an appreciation back then. I was a bit of a goofy kid that spent an excessive amount of time LOL, but time passes and we grow up. Fortunately, the memories from a lot of decades-ago now whirl together with gratitude.

Here's hoping you will consider making your own memories this year!
PS: Be sure to click on the cotton candy and Whiplash, the cowboy monkey links above.
The child in your life, or in you, might get a kick out of these! =)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Welcome 2012!

As much as I want to shout-out, "I can't believe it's 2012", I'll refrain. =) The Cupcake Cottage completed it's 6th Holiday season of baking on Christmas Eve, and we enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing time away from baking.

Maybe one day I'll catch you up on our family of 5 + 1 fabulous border collie, and 1 amazing daughter in-law!
For now, I'll catch you up on a couple of things regarding our business and the new year.

~ This weekend is the Boar's Head & Yule Log Festival at UCC on University Drive in Fort Worth. This event is such a wonderful way to kick off a new year and is free to the public. All are welcome and you can learn more about it here: Boar's Head & Yule Log Festival.

~ We continue to stay busy meeting the cupcake needs of you, our amazing and appreciated customer! Thanks for such support, and thanks for telling others about our shop. Word of mouth is, by far, the greatest form of advertisement.

~ Many of you continue to ask, and encourage us to go on Cupcake Wars. If you didn't read about our initial invitation to be a part of this Food Network madness, you can read about it here: Cupcake Wars 2010. Once the show learned that it was being picked up for a second season, we got a second call asking us to consider trying out for a spot, but by then we had watched enough episodes to know that we would much rather enjoy the experience from the comfort of our living room couch. Cupcake Wars is crazy fun to watch, but that's it! We appreciate your cheers and encouragement, though. =)

~ Cupcake Competition is all around!! Yes, there are more and more cupcake places opening in the greater Fort Worth area, and we are thrilled for that! Almost always, it is a customer that tells us about a new cupcake bakery. Sure, there have been initial feelings of uncertainty considering the state of the economy, and the ever growing cost of living, but somehow we continue to remain busy in business. We are extremely grateful for that, and we will continue to strive to do our best, each and every day we are baking. Competition is a good thing for two reasons: 1) it keeps us mindful and motivated to keep our standards high and 2) it offers consumers additional places to get their sweet-on. Free Market societies rock!!

So that's it for now. Here's wishing you and yours a safe and wonderful New Year!