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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Harry Potter Cupcakes

I’m a total Fangirl and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

Well ok, maybe I keep some of my fandoms well hidden.  But overall I would say I’m still a perfectly normal adult woman who just happens to have a slight obsessive nature when it comes to popular culture.

Let me explain further.

According to Urban Dictionary, there are two definitions for Fangirl:

  1. (derogatory) a female fan, obsessed with something (or someone) to a frightening or sickening degree.
  2. (playful, good-natured) less extreme, a female fan who can laugh at their own passion for their particular interest (or even obsession).

I am most assuredly the second definition.

I mainly place myself into four fandoms:

  1. Whedonites: Fans of all the work of Joss Whedon – although my personal favorites are Firefly and Buffy.
  2. Whovians: Fans of the greatest show ever to be on television in the history of the world, Doctor Who.  I think I would even leave my husband for David Tennant if he ever showed up in a blue police box.  For our anniversary, my husband even got me a plush Dalek who says “EXTERMINATE” and “you would make a good Dalek”.
  3. Bronies: I know I should call myself a “pegasister”, but I thing Brony sounds a bazillion times cooler.  You have all seen my Brony Birthday Cake, so you know me and my husband are both huge fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
  4. Potterheads: Harry Potter…I don’t think further explanation is necessary.

Since I’m a very nostalgic person I often find myself drifting back to previously read books despite stacks of unread books lining my bookshelves.  Which is how I ended up re-reading the entire Harry Potter series for the eleventy millionth time.  I also forced my husband to re-watch all of the movies.

Harry Potter was my first fandom and it will always be special to me.  I’m part of the generation that grew up alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione and waited anxiously for the books to be released.  I went to midnight book releases and movie premiers (yeah, I even dressed up a few times because I am THAT committed).

Which brings me to these:

I made these cupcakes to bring to the midnight viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.   Since moving to California in 2004, I’ve attended every midnight release with Alex Roque and an assortment of friends we picked up along the way.  We were the crazy people sitting on blankets along the sidewalk for hours and hours drinking coffee and playing Apples to Apples.  And this was the last movie, so I thought it needed something special.  And nothing says special like cupcakes.

The recipe was nothing special (chocolate cupcakes spiked with a copious amount of espresso and vanilla frosting).  The decorations were all made with fondant I tinted with gel food coloring.  Piping was done with chocolate melting candy.  On the scarves I used edible writing pens.  For the shield I made edible paint my mixing gel food coloring with corn syrup.

 

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A small note on the Ravenclaw scarf: I chose to stick with the movie colors of grey and blue even though the book shows their colors as bronze and blue.

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Whimsical Birthday Cupcakes

Fact: Being an adult can really suck!

There are definite perks of course (yes, I can eat ice cream and pizza WHENEVER I WANT); but overall you have all kinds of responsibilities like bills, laundry and grocery shopping.

Adult activities are TERRIBLE!  Like buying a house!  What should be an exciting endeavor is in fact a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

I might have enjoyed my childhood a bit more had I realized how precious those carefree years really were.  Peter Pan really had the right idea…why grow up?  Of course, until we discover the location of Neverland, I will continue to age and spend money on things like mortgage payments and health insurance.

My good friend Alex Roque recently celebrated her birthday and I am convinced that deep down inside, she will never grow up (one of the many things I love about her).  She did, after all, celebrate her birthday chasing Peter Pan around Disneyland.

For her birthday party, she had a very adult sit down dinner at an Italian restaurant but with a touch of whimsy!  Centerpieces included tiny lace crowns, favors were little jars of fairy dust (sugar), and I made her some shimmery flower cupcakes.

What would have been a fancy and sophisticated dinner with a normal group of adults turned into something much more exciting for us.  It included a dirty mad-libs card and an exciting rendition of “Happy Birthday” where I somehow flung the birthday girl’s glass of red wine across the table.

It’s ok though, because the birthday girl’s sister also knocked over a glass of wine that night so I wasn’t the only clumsy one the wait staff wanted to toss out.

But I made cupcakes, so that totally makes up for any party foul, right?

Fact: Mismatched blue cake stands make cupcakes automatically more interesting.

The flowers were made out of gum paste and decorated with petal dust, luster dust, and black pearl sprinkles.  I used white melting candy to attach the pearl sprinkles and flowers

The cupcakes themselves are two different recipes, which I did not change much.

I made White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes from Love & Olive Oil.  The only change I made was to replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour (since the birthday girl is gluten-intolerant).  I have to admit being a little worried and confused when I read the recipe and it didn’t include eggs…but these cupcakes turned out amazing and super moist!  I have some leftover frosting so I will probably be making them again very soon.

The second cupcakes were Tiramisu from Brown Eyed Baker.  I added a simple filling to these ones – I made chocolate pudding using about half as much milk as called for and adding a few tablespoons of strong brewed coffee and then folded it into some whipped cream.   I also used the gluten-free flour for this one.  Now, I know I am my own worst critic, but I didn’t think these turned out quite as well.  The cake portion of the recipe requires whipping the eggs and then folding in the flour mixture.  I have had this problem before when I made a gluten-free angel food cake – the gluten free flour just doesn’t incorporate into the eggs the way it should.  I may need to look into different gluten free flour mixtures in the future to fix this one that is a bit lighter.

How can you not feel young when nibbling on these sugary toppings and yummy cupcakes?

The Smythe-Smith Musicale Care Package

I have confession to make…I hope it doesn’t make all of you think less of me…

I read romance novels.  Regularly.  It’s a serious addiction.

But, as a housewife, I would argue that reading of any kind is far superior to falling into the stereotype of bonbon eating, soap opera watching, and nosy neighboring housewife.

I also fall into that stereotype…but my husband loves me anyways.  And who in their right mind doesn’t love a bonbon?

Let me be clear, however, as to which romance novels I read.  You will not, for example, find me reading Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, or anything else which is likely to be adapted into a Lifetime Movie.

Not that I don’t occasionally indulge in a little Lifetime Movie Network from time to time.  Or frequently.  Don’t judge me!  Can I help it if they suck me into their tales of love, betrayal, and mystery?

But when it comes to novels, I have standards!

  • Historical romance only (generally Regency, but I also enjoy Edwardian or Georgian)
  • Intelligent heroines
  • Dialogue needs to be amusing and witty
  • Absolutely NO melodramatic bodice rippers
  • Minimal use of outlandish euphemisms (I can handle the occasional “throbbing member” but keep your “glistening swords” and “silky folds” out of my books)

As with all rules, there are exceptions.  I have one: standards may be broken only upon strong recommendation from my friend, Katie, whose judgment on romance novels I trust above all others.

It was her, after all, who found the Bridgertons…

If you are an avid reader of historical romance, then I sincerely hope you know the Bridgertons.  This book series, written by Julia Quinn, are among my absolute favorite!  So if you don’t know the eight Bridgerton siblings (famously names in alphabetical order) I suggest you find out.

Seriously, your life will be better for it.

I recently had the incredible opportunity to meet Julia at a book signing where (even though the rules clearly stated no outside books were allowed) she signed my tattered old copy of The Viscount Who Loved Me (book 2 of the series), which remains my favorite romance novel ever.

Have to admit…I was a little starstruck!

Katie discovered the Bridgertons on a lazy summer afternoon when we were in high school.  A trip to the bookstore led her to randomly pick up a romance novel, whereas I chose an anthology of re-written fairy tales.  Because all young teens spend their summers reading…right?  My book was terrible, whereas Katie would not stop bursting into a fit of giggles at regular intervals.  As she snickered about over-ripe citrus fruits and unfortunate bee stings leading to marriage proposals, I was immediately intrigued.  Luckily for me, Katie is a fast reader and I was able to steal the book soon after.  I re-read it about once a year and it is the very same book I had signed by Julia.

Since Katie had yet to read the two latest novels from Julia Quinn (a quartet about the Smythe-Smiths and their terrible musicales) I got book one, Just Like Heaven, signed by Julia Quinn to send to her.

Since I couldn’t possibly send just a book, I decided to put together a care package.  I recently posted about how I create gift baskets and care packages are much the same.  Using Just Like Heaven as inspiration, I put together my Smythe-Smith Musicale care package.

Package included: signed copy of Just Like Heaven, music note coffee cozies, Lady Grey tea, and decorated tea cookies.

The tea cookies (which is really just what I chose to call them, they are really just frosted sugar cookies) were made using recipes from The Decorated Cookie.  I used the color flow technique to cover each cookie with the grey frosting, and then before they had set I piped on top with the light blue frosting.  In the future, I will likely thin out the piping frosting quite a bit so that it blends into the frosting a bit more, creating an even surface on the cookie.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite romance novels

It should be noted that Kresley Cole falls under my “exceptions” for romance novels.  The Immortals After Dark series is a modern-day paranormal romance series and is absolutely hysterical!   No sparkling vampires here…but you do get a bat-shit crazy soothsayer Valkyrie with an obsessive crush on Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and witches as competitive with their Xbox as they are with their spells.