Though Malika and Adeyinka Awobajo's baked goods are decorative and tasty, they are made with more than dessert in mind. The pair, who founded Mika?s Cupcakes in May of 2011, began constructing confections years prior in order to help feed and care for homeless families in the area. Today, they apply a portion of proceeds toward helping the homeless population in the Bay area, as well as set some money aside for a future youth transitional shelter.
Mika's ovens breathe life into a multitude of signature cupcakes, which come in both classic and inventive flavors. Nearly hedonic ingredients such as amaretto and mocha infuse Indulgent Treats cupcakes, whereas sundae cupcakes come with a cherry on top to render them as sweet as a kindergartner's plea to go see CSPAN on Ice. Fondant-coated gourmet cakes serve as personal-sized desserts for giants, and cake pops offer convenient sugar consumption during games of double dutch. Strawberries and pretzel rods doused in chocolate take a dip into chopped almonds or chocolate chips, whereas granny-smith apples submerged in caramel break the surface smothered in chocolate or nuts.
Cameron is a guy who was pretty clueless in the kitchen, and though having been a meat-eater his whole life, is becoming more sensitive to animal cruelty issues. Kathy is a woman who, because of religious practices, has to abstain from eating meat and dairy for nearly half the year. Though their impetuses for changing their diets were quite different, the solution to their problems was the same: The Vegan Garden—a meal delivery system that specializes in plant-based cuisine.
The Vegan Garden designs meal plans for a variety of clients, whether they're longtime vegans or people curious about transitioning to an animal-free diet. The Pioneer Meal deal, for instance, lets newbies sample staple vegan dishes by signing up for one week's worth of meals, desserts, and dinner bibs. Committed vegans can opt for more long-term plans, which include two months' worth of custom or preset menus. There are also specialty packages for weight loss and gluten-free diets.
The meals themselves are made using mostly organic ingredients local to The Vegan Garden's home base in San Francisco. For the sake of variety, menu options are inspired by many international and regional cuisines, such as Middle Eastern, Thai, Mexican, French, Caribbean, and Southern. Soy- and tofu-based dishes include everything from huevos con chorizo and veggie chow mein to jambalaya and verde pesto pasta. Meals come fully prepared and only need to be warmed to the diner's desired temperature before they're ready to eat.
Inside the Douglaston School of Music and Art, certified yoga instructor, Daniela Crocchiola, uses her years of experience and extensive training to guide students through hot vinyasa yoga and ballet bar classes. Brought to her mother's yoga classes as a young cobra, Crocchiola learned the benefits of regular stretch sessions at an early age and credits the practice for helping her grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. While working in Manhattan in fashion and cosmetic marketing, Crocchiola studied a variety of yoga styles, such as Bikram, ashtanga, and kundalini, and obtained 200 hour yoga teaching certifications recognized by the Yoga Alliance and by loyal downward facing dogs everywhere. In addition to being a certified yoga instructor, Crocchiola's skills equip her to lead Pilates and ballet bar workouts.
The Alameda outpost of Martinizing Dry Cleaning has a clear strength: getting clothes back to customers quickly. The franchise earned the Martinizing company’s 100% quality and service rating five separate times in recognition of its ability to return clothes promptly. Credit the outfit’s same-day service guarantee, which holds that clothes brought in by noon can be returned by 5 p.m. Other policies are equally convenient for customers; the store is open late on weeknights and doesn’t vandalize local street signs to make it harder to find your way there.
The staffers at Hard Candy Cases amass protective gear for iPhones, cell phones, iPods, tablets, and MacBooks, ensuring that each item meets high standards for engineering and style. MacWorld and the New York Times have both acknowledged the company’s sleek, functional iPad cases, with the latter recommending Hard Candy Cases’ bubble-sleeve products for their chic minimalism. Form-fitting iPad 2 street skins protect vulnerable screens with a magnetic, integrated enclosure, whereas chic, enameled styluses—compatible with pads, phones, and pods—flip to reveal a secondary ink pen for signing business documents or U.N. peace treaties. The original designs, constructed by top-notch engineers, spring from analytical research, and laser model scanners ensure the quality of all the fashion-savvy accessories.
The staff members at Classique Dry Cleaners maintain their customers' clothing with water-free, eco-friendly solutions. Although dry cleaning is their signature service—including care for larger items such as comforters and bed spreads—the technicians also alter, repair, and restore garments such as wedding gowns, shoes, leather, and purple pants that have been recently exposed to gamma-ray-induced rage.