My sweet tooth has turned into a tusk since June, when we began our final preparations for 12 Cities, 1 Year, and it shows no signs of shrinking. Nor does my waistline, which is currently at 32 inches when I measure above my navel, or about 39, when I measure where my jeans really sit.

I just can’t seem to leave the sweets alone these days. It’s not a new thing. It started about 3 years ago and is linked to hormonal changes, but I can’t blame “unopposed estrogen” for every craving I fail to resist. Even in college I had a reputation for finding the best desserts.

The one truly good result of my infatuation with sweets is that I’ve become knowledgeable about chocolate shops and cupcake joints in several cities.

Bernice’s Bakery has been selling cupcakes, wedding cakes, croissants and other breakfast fare, pies, breads, sandwiches, and drinks since 1978. It’s a comfortable place, though I never spent much time there working on the computer; I went to coffeehouses for that. But you could, if you went in mid-morning or mid-afternoon.Missoula bakeries, Missoula restaurants, Montana restaurantsBernice’s is a Missoula institution. The website claims their ovens never get turned off. When the picture below was taken, about 9 o’clock at night, the pastry bakers were there. One of them asked me if I wanted to come inside and take pictures. I was startled and said no, but also I felt I had the picture I wanted. If you want to see pictures of the bakers themselves, go to the website.Beth Partin's photos, Bernice's Bakery interiorAll I ever had there were cupcakes: chocolate mousse and red velvet on my first visit, when I walked there from the house we were renting—a little more than a mile. Todd was more adventurous and bought a croissant now and then.cupcakes in Missoula, Bernice's cupcakesAlthough the cake itself may not be quite as moist as Mermaids’ in Denver, the entire package is always attractive and tasty (before I start taking it apart, anyway). The mousse within the chocolate cupcake was thicker than the frosting, and the buttercream frosting on the red velvet was just sweet enough. Here is my favorite, the lavender mousse. If you’re nowhere near Bernice’s, you could buy a Dagoba lavender chocolate bar. That will give you an idea of the flavor, but the cupcake’s flavor is deeper and more complex than the bar’s.The first time I went up to the counter and listened to the counter-woman talk about which cupcakes they had made the night before, I kept thinking I heard the word “wine,” as in “wine batter” instead of “white batter.” I asked about it, and she said that, yes, they did put wine in their batter, but that the alcohol burned off. I don’t think the chocolate or red velvet cupcakes contain wine, but I’m not entirely certain.Bernice's Bakery, cupcakes in Missoula, Montana cupcakesLet me know which type of cupcake photograph works best for you. Do you like seeing cupcakes that feature my teeth marks? Should I be more genteel and cut them with a knife instead? Or should I stick to showing the whole cupcake with wrapper on, since that’s all customers have to go on?

One thing I noticed about bakeries in Missoula: they’re open all the time. Bernice’s is open 6 am to 8 pm, every day. Le Petit Outre, another bakery just a block away, has less extensive hours but is open 7 days a week. I can’t remember any cupcake shops or bakeries in the Denver area being open on Sunday. Missoula bakeriesOne of the last things I did in Missoula was go to Bernice’s for a cupcake. And one of the first things Todd did after we settled into our apartment in Ballard, a neighborhood north of downtown Seattle that used to be its own city, was to bring me a cupcake. Here we have the Royale with Cheese and a strawberry number from Cupcake Royale.Seattle cupcakes, Ballard cupcakes, Cupcake RoyaleThe other night I went to Cupcake Royale/Verite Coffee to do some work and was put off by their invasive terms of service for using the Internet. So I probably won’t spend any more time there working, though I predict I will have at least one more cupcake in the next two weeks. I’ve also had a caramel and sea salt cupcake there. They were both good, but I haven’t really decided how Cupcake Royale compares to Bernice’s.

The less good result of my infatuation with sweets is my inability to have the figure I want. To be honest, I haven’t had it since the late 1980s, the last time I weighed around 135 pounds. Right now, I’m pretty thick about the middle. I’d settle for weighing 145 or 150 pounds, but those numbers seem so impossibly far away these days. I haven’t weighed 145 pounds since 2007.

I’ve been trying, and I have lost 5 pounds here and there, but then my willpower evaporates and I find myself eating sweets every day. Often I will eat something and then think, “Why did I eat that? I didn’t really want it!”

Perhaps the problem is that I keep trying to reduce my consumption of sweets, instead of cutting myself off. Perhaps for me, sweets create an addiction as complete as my addiction to cigarettes. I kicked that habit, but I know I can’t ever dabble. I’d hate to give up sweets altogether, especially since it’s still socially acceptable to indulge in sweets.

Which method do you think works best?

I have done one positive thing for my health lately: I’ve learned some exercises I can do anywhere, on the road. I had a training session at Ballard Health Club with a man who specializes in body weight exercise. Many of the exercises he gave me require equipment from a gym, but one could be done hanging from a sturdy tree branch or a kid’s jungle gym, and burpees (including the “special” ones he taught me, which are “especially” painful) can be done anywhere with a little room.

I’ve done one set so far, and it was a good workout, so good, in fact, that I couldn’t finish it. I’m still a little sore from that workout, but I’m going to the health club again today. My goal is to do these new exercises every other day. If I can’t yet be slim, at least I can be stronger.

I realize this “review” is pretty strange, but I wanted to give you an idea of my mindset when I eat sweets these days. I’m spending a lot of time analyzing my eating habits instead of just enjoying them. Bernice's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Leave A Comment

  1. Susan August 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    What a confession. Very interesting. I think that going to a “place” to hang out or work seems to invite the purchase of food that should only be eaten as a treat. You feel obligated to buy something if you plan to use their space, and anything you buy is going to add calories – delicious as they may be. When I was going to trivia at Boulder Beer, I would get food there about every other week. And anything I would get would be more fattening than anything I would prepare at home – much easier to control ingredients when you make it yourself. Now that I am a member of two CSA’s, I have a lot of quality fresh produce that I need to eat to keep up with what I have to pick up each week, so I cook a lot more.

    I would say that if you could stop hanging out inside locales – maybe just go outside somewhere or stay and work in your temp home, you would probably eat fewer calories overall. Then if you want a treat now and then, it is ONLY now and then. And don’t eat out a lot overall since those meals are almost always higher in calories (which could be hard since you guys are foodies and traveling). I also think walking can do a lot. I started walking an easy 20 min mile almost every day from last November on my treadmill until it got too hot this summer. Not only did it help keep off some bulk, I feel that I digest better when I have walked. Just some thoughts.

  2. Beth Partin August 31, 2011 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Good thoughts, Susan. One thing I’ve been thinking about is ordering tea when I go to coffeeshops. That doesn’t make me want sweets the way coffee does. It’s hard for me to work outside on my computer because of the glare.

  3. todd August 31, 2011 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    I liked this article. I think I like all the types of cupcake shots equally, whether they have teeth marks, no wrapper, or wrapper.

  4. Stephanie September 1, 2011 at 9:29 am - Reply

    I love both Bernice’s and Le Petit Outre, but i will always prefer Le Petit Outre as i would go every time we’d visit family in Missoula when i was younger (plus the owner was a good friend of the families)

  5. Beth Partin September 1, 2011 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Stephanie, thanks for commenting. I visited Le Petit Outre only once, but I had a really good vanilla cream scone from that bakery. The building I shot is a little like the Tardis; it’s bigger on the inside.

  6. Connie September 14, 2011 at 11:16 am - Reply

    This reminds me of how much I have missed smoking recently, even after 14 years of not doing it. Isn’t that weird? I don’t think I could give up sweets altogether, but I tend to go way overboard with them too. I was working with a nutritionist last spring who recommended tea (preferably without caffeine) to help cope with cravings that weren’t necessarily hunger-related; she said any warm drink can have a kind of soothing effect, even if it’s not the same kind we get from food. So your tea-drinking idea is worth a shot.

  7. Beth Partin September 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Connie, before we sold our house I had a bunch of tea, and then we ended up throwing most of it away because we couldn’t think of who would want it/accept it as a donation. Also, we were running out of time. One I really like is Celestial Seasoning’s Country Peach Passion. Maybe I should go buy some at the store soon.