About Tara

http://www.geekyhostess.com

Tara is the Geeky Hostess. Lover of entertaining, decorating, and gift-giving with a personal and geeky flair. Have a question on Geek entertaining or etiquette? Email her at tara@geekyhostess.com !

Posts by Tara :

Fireball Cupcakes

Fireball Cupcake

Like Fireball whiskey? Atomic Fireball candy? Dungeons and Dragons? Mario? An excuse to make cupcakes? Then these are for you.

Warning: They’re potent. They’re boozy and they’ve got a spicy cinnamon kick. You’re gonna love them.

Fireball Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • Ingredients needs for box spice cake mix, minus the water (mine needed 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 3 eggs)
  • 1 cup + 1 TBS Fireball (or another spicy cinnamon flavored whiskey)
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash salt
  • red and yellow food coloring (optional)
  • cinnamon candies (optional)

Directions:

Prepare the spice cake mix as is directed on the back of the box, but instead of water, use Fireball. (My cake mix called for 1 cup of water, so I put in 1 cup of Fireball instead.) Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 of the way with the batter, and bake as directed on the back of the box.

Remove cupcakes from the oven once a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to wire racks.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Mix the butter in a mixer until fully smooth, then slowly add the powdered sugar in, one cup at a time, until it is all mixed. Add a TBS of Fireball, and the vanilla and salt. Mix for about 5 minutes or until the frosting has a beautiful, whipped consistency.

Fireball Cupcake Frosting
Want to make the fire frosting you see above? Divide the frosting up in 3 bowls. Set aside one. In one bowl, place yellow food coloring, and in the other, red food coloring. (I use AmeriColor gel food coloring.) Mix the frostings with the food coloring until the color you’d like is reached. Place each color side by side in a pastry bag. (It’s ok if they end up getting a bit mixed up, it makes a more realistic fire color!) Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and top with a cinnamon candy. Enjoy!

 

Geeky Workouts For Every Fandom

mockingjay-workout

When you want to work out just like your favorite character, Neila Rey has your back. They’ve created hundreds of visual workouts based on kick-ass characters from movies, tv shows, and video games. You can punch like Starbuck, get abs like Batman, or even button-mash fight like someone from Street Fighter. The workouts all have great flavor text to get you motivated, as well as tips on how to perform the exercises, ways to level up the workout, and some even have suggested soundtracks. Love the images and want to frame them and do them often? The workouts also link you to a high resolution .pdf poster.

Neilarey.com also has workouts for every day life. I love this Movie Night workout, which gives you exercises to do while on the couch. Check out all of the workouts here. I guarantee you’ll find one you love! (And once you do, give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments!)

The Cones of Dunshire Is Going To Be An Actual Game You Can Play


If you’re a Parks and Rec fan and a lover of board games, your day has come. Ben Wyatt’s “gaming experience,” The Cones of Dunshire, is currently on Kickstarter to be made into a pricey Deluxe version. While the Kickstarter cheekily looks as if it’s from the accounting firm Ben worked at, it’s actually by Mayfair games, who created the game for Parks and Recreation.

The Kickstarter will stay up throughout the run of the last season of Parks and Rec, and hints at the fact that we’ll see The Cones of Dunshire on the show again. By pledging, you can get some Cones of Dunshire-branded swag, tickets to GenCon to see a jumbo-size charity game of The Cones of Dunshire played, or for $500+, you can get your own deluxe version to play whenever you’d like. Mayfair claims they have no plans to make an affordable commercial version: instead they want to appeal to super fans of the show and game that will be wiling to spend the money for an exclusive item. It will only be available through this Kickstarter. Which brings me to the question: Who do I know that will be purchasing a copy? I’d be happy to provide snacks if I can play. I call Ledgerman.

Check it out at Kickstarter.com.

Puzzled Pint (Or: Where You’ll Be Each Month)

Puzzled Pint

 

On Tuesday, Mr. Geek and I ventured out to our very first Puzzled Pint: a monthly activity held in multiple cities where you gather and solve puzzles at bars. Obviously, it was ridiculously fun.

The first Tuesday of each month, puzzle-lovers gather at a bar and are given puzzles to work on in their own groups. Everyone has the same set of puzzles, and your solving times are posted in the “standings” section of the site, but overall it’s a “work at your own pace and have fun” kind of experience. To find out where Puzzled Pint will be, you must solve a puzzle on PuzzledPint.com, which is placed up the Friday before each event. The puzzle sets you up for the theme of the night–this month’s was X-Men.

The puzzles were extremely well-crafted and difficult for the two of us to do ourselves. We completed the puzzles, but had to ask for a couple hints. Next month, we’re definitely bringing more people!

Puzzled Pint is currently in the following cities:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Bay Area, California
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • London, England (UK)
  • Montreal, Quebec (Canada)
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington (two locations: City and Eastside)
  • Washington, DC

If you enjoy solving puzzles, hanging out with friends, and exploring bars in your city, then you’ll LOVE Puzzled Pint. Check it out here and mark your calendar for next month! Will I see you there?

Harry Potter vs. Ghostbusters: Help Me Pick My New Decor

What should decorate this wall?

What should decorate this wall?

Happy January! I’ve been a bit MIA for two reasons: I wanted to spend as much time with family as I could over the holidays, and I moved! I’m still in the same city, but am now in a super cute townhouse close to a bunch of my friends. Moving has been quite the process over the last week or so, but now I’m in the unpacking, reorganizing, and decorating stage, which is the most fun ever. (Mr. Geek may disagree.) This brings me to today’s post: I need your help.

See, we have this cute little bathroom on our main floor. It’s right next to the living room and kitchen, which means it will see the most traffic from guests. The bathroom has a black marble countertop and yellow walls. I instantly had an idea of how I would decorate it: I would keep it simple with black accessories (hand towel, soap dispenser, trash can, etc.) and put up a nice print of a badger on the wall above the toilet. To non-geeks, the bathroom will just look “nice,” and the rest of us will instantly recognize it as a Hufflepuff room. (I mean, come on, it’s right next to the kitchen.) It’s non-threatening, could look grown-up when family or guests visit, and still shows off our geek pride for those in the know.

When I told my idea to Mr. Geek, he just looked at me and said “Vigo.” Yes, he was referring to Vigo the Carpathian, the villain from Ghostbusters 2. A quick Google Search showed us that the painting of Vigo would indeed look nice in a yellow room with black accents. I would say it could even seem unassuming to a non-geek if it wasn’t for the pile of skulls at his feet. And of course, if Mr. Geek doesn’t go through with his (already vetoed) idea of making the eyes follow people around and also light up.

Vigo

(sigh)

So: Do we go the subtle Hufflepuff route? Or go with a print of the Vigo the Carpathian painting? Let me know your pick (and why) in the comments below. Have a better idea? Leave a comment with that! Once the room is finished, I’ll post pics. Mr. Geek and I both anxiously await your votes. We’re leaving this room in your hands. Don’t mess this up.

The Ultimate Geeky Holiday Calendar

Need an excuse to party? This list will help you find a reason to celebrate every day of the year! This list will continue to be updated, so check back often! Know of a special geeky day we missed? Let us know in the comments!

January

Isaac Asimov’s Birthday

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Birthday

17 Ben Franklin’s Birthday

25 Macintosh Computer Day

February

2 Opposite Day

11 National Inventors’ Day

12 Darwin Day

March

4 National Grammar Day

8 Ralph Baer’s Birthday

11 Douglas Adam’s Birthday

14 Pi Day, Albert Einstein’s Birthday

25 Tolkien Reading Day

26 Leonard Nemoy’s Birthday

31 World Backup Day

April

11 International TableTop Day

12 Yuri’s Night

23 William Shakespeare’s Birthday

25 DNA Day

27 Morse Code Day

May

2 Free Comic Book Day

4 Star Wars Day

13 Stephen Colbert’s Birthday

14 George Lucas’s Birthday

23 Alan Turing’s Birthday

25 Geek Pride Day, Towel Day

June

10 Ballpoint Pen Day

16 Captain Picard Day

July

2 World UFO Day

5 Newton’s Principal Day

6 Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day

11 Laser Day

13 Embrace Your Geekness Day

20 Moon Day

22 Pi Approximation Day, Ray Bradbury’s Birthday

26 SysAdmin Day

27 Gary Gygax’s Birthday

29 Wil Wheaton’s Birthday

August

12 IBM PC Day

22 Ray Bradbury‘s Birthday

September

7 Google Commemoration Day

13 Programmer Day

17 Optimus Prime Day

19 Talk Like a Pirate Day

22 Hobbit Day

October

3 Techie Appreciation Day

14 Ada Lovelace Day

16 Steve Jobs Day

23 Mole Day

26 Back To The Future Day

November

7 Marie Curie‘s Birthday

24 Evolution Day

30 Computer Security Day

December

5 Day of the Ninja, Walt Disney’s Birthday

23 Festivus

28 Stan Lee’s Birthday

What To Eat With Miracle Berries

IMG_0621

Yesterday, 250,000 people received a gift of “miracle berries” from Cards Against Humanity during their 10 Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa. Being a miracle berry fan for a good amount of years (yes, I’m pulling the Hipster card on miracle berries), I’m thrilled that others are being introduced to this fun activity.

First of all: What are miracle berries? Miracle berries (Synsepalum dulcificum) are a berry native to Africa. The berries coat your taste buds, blocking certain taste receptors (like sour and bitter), making anything you consume taste sweeter than it would without the berry. The effect lasts up to an hour. (I find it lasts around 30 minutes on average.) What you received in the mail is not the berry itself–it’s the berry plus cornstarch, made into a tablet.

While the people who manufacture/sell the berry tablets may tell you this can serve as a daily supplement and a way to live a healthier lifestyle (your vegetables taste sweet and you don’t want to eat as much candy!), I think these are best used for tasting parties. Invite your friends over and have everyone bring a sour or bitter item that they’d like to try on the berries. Then, pop the pill (this sounds way worse than it is), and get tasting! We’ve found that as soon as people try one thing, they start to ravage the spread, wanting to know what everything tastes like. Once the spread is gone, they’ll move onto your pantry and fridge. You’ve been warned.

Below are some of my favorite items to try with miracle berries. These have been tested and approved–they’re musts at your party! But a word of warning: A lot of these foods are acidic or harsh on the stomach, but they won’t taste that way. Although it will be tasty, you’ll still be consuming larger amounts of lemons, limes, vinegar, and other sour/bitter items than you’re used to. Use moderation and keep some Tums/Alka Seltzer nearby!

  • Limes and Lemons (These are just amazing, Particularly limes. It’s my go-to favorite with miracle berries.)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (It’s sweet and not harsh at all. But that doesn’t mean you should chug large amounts! Read the disclaimer in the paragraph above!)
  • Guinness (Tastes like a chocolate shake. Any Porter/Stout will be ridiculously good.)
  • Cream Cheese (Tastes like cheesecake.)
  • Strawberries (It’s like you dipped them in sugar, but you DIDN’T! Magic.)

The following is a list of other suggested foods to try from various sources, including Cards Against Humanity, Amazon, and blogs/forum posts. I can’t vouch for the deliciousness of all of these, but it’s at least a starting off point for your tasting party!

  • BBQ sauce
  • Bitter chocolate
  • Blackberries
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cranberries
  • Granny Smith apples
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Ketchup
  • Kiwi
  • Mustard
  • Oranges
  • Pickles (or anything pickled)
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Salt and Vinegar chips
  • Sour Candies (warheads, sour patch kids)
  • Sour Cream
  • Stinky cheese (bleu cheese and goat cheese, specifically)
  • Tabasco (or other hot sauces)
  • Tea
  • Tequila
  • Tomatoes
  • Tonic water
  • Vinegar
  • Watermelon

What are your fave foods to have with miracle berries? Let me know in the comments! Didn’t receive the berries from Cards Against Humanity, but still want to try it? You can find them on Amazon!

What Type of Cupcake Pan Should You Use?

 

KitchenAid Muffin Pans

I have a growing collection of cupcakes pans, and while I often will grab the first one I see, sometimes I want to be more specific with the pans I use. If I’m baking cupcakes for others (and especially if it’s for a special event), I want to make sure the cupcakes are all evenly baked and the best they can possibly be. I’ve wanted to test the differences in my pans for a while, and I was recently given the opportunity to test the KitchenAid Professional grade muffin pans. It was the perfect chance! I could finally tell what was best: dark non-stick pans, shiny pans, or a more designer brand, like the KitchenAid Pro.

Now, I tried to be as scientific as possible, but there are a LOT of variables when cooking cupcakes. I used a basic vanilla cupcake mix I’ve made before, I used white cupcake liners so I could see the results more easily, and I tried to fill all of the cups as evenly as I could. However, one of the cake pans got a bit warmer than the others based on where they were sitting on the stove, and their location in the oven could have also affected the results (although my oven heats pretty evenly). I would have to repeat this test a couple more times to make sure things were truly accurate. Now that that’s all out of the way: on to the results!

Cupcake Comparison

Straight out of the oven and onto the cooling rack. I placed a few cupcakes from each pan here. On the left, we have the KitchenAid Pro. In the middle, we have the light colored shiny pan. And on the right is the darker nonstick pan. (The KitchenAid Pro is also a dark nonstick model.) You can see that overall, they look very similar. The cupcakes all turned out the same color, and all rose relatively the same. But when you look closer, you can see some minor differences. The shiny pan cupcakes (in the middle) did not rise as evenly as the nonstick pans on either side of them. They also have more browning/discoloration around the sides and bottoms. The nonstick pan cupcakes (particularly the KitchenAid Pro ones on the left) are more even. The cupcakes are all around the same size and same color.

Cupcake Comparison 2

Again, we’ve got KitchenAid on the left, shiny in the middle, and nonstick on the right. You can see that the cupcakes from the shiny pan were a tiny bit lighter on the top/sides…

Cupcake Comparison 3

…Yet, the bottom was not the lightest. The KitchenAid cupcakes had the most even coloring, with only a bit of browning on the bottom. The other two pans were significantly darker.

Overall, there wasn’t a huge difference. Once these are frosted and put into a box, no one’s going to be able to tell which ones were from which pans. They all tasted the same. (I tasted all three for you, dear readers. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.) The real difference is in the subtleties. If you’re a professional baker or making cupcakes for someone with a refined cupcake palette, you may want to get the KitchenAid Pro pans. (Plus, overall, they feel and perform very well. They’re easy to clean, and they look and feel very nice. And I feel fancy using something from their professional-grade line!) If you don’t bake cupcakes often and would rather get something a bit cheaper, I’d still make sure you get a dark, nonstick pan. The cupcakes looked a bit better than the shiny pans, and the pans overall hold up better and look nicer than the shiny ones.

Do you have a cupcake pan preference? Have you tried the KitchenAid professional-grade pans? Any great cupcake baking tips? Let me know in the comments!

An Interview with Cary Elwes

Cary Elwes

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Cary Elwes while he was in town promoting his new book, “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.” In between observing the Princess Bride costumes at the EMP and picking up Westley’s sword for the first time in 27 years(!), he answered a few questions for us.

If your character was a cocktail, what would that cocktail recipe be?

Well, there is a wine out there that has been licensed through Act 3 Communications, which is Norman Lear’s company, and so you can actually purchase wine that has Westley and Buttercup on one of them, and Vizzini on the other one, so there are wines available–without Iocane powder in them. You’ll have to go to the Princess Bride website, and you can find them there! (It looks like the wine may no longer be available, but you can see the bottles here.)

You mentioned earlier that you hear a lot about Princess Bride weddings. Can you share some of the stories and tips you’ve heard about the Ultimate Princess Bride Wedding?

Sure, well, I’ve seen a number of photographs over the years, and people have these menus that they make and very stylized things that they’ve decided to serve their guests, and obviously, folks mimicking these dresses (pointing to Buttercup’s wedding dress in the EMP), and clergymen, and offering peanuts to folks, it’s great fun. It’s a celebration. Of Twue Wuv. (Check out my Princess Bride Wedding Pinterest Board for some great pics and ideas!)

I hear you mention some fun times out partying and drinking with everyone off set and after hours in your book. I was wondering if you had a specific story in mind you’d like to share? 

Yeah, sure. Well Andre, poor guy, was in a lot of pain, he had terrible back problems, not only from carrying all the weight around, but from wrestling over the years, and the only way he could deal with the pain that he had was to drink, so, when we wrapped the movie, after the New York premiere, he took me out drinking. And that was quite an event–but you have to read the book to check it out. It’s quite funny.

You heard the man, read the book! (And lucky for you, Amazon can get you a copy before Christmas!) I can’t wait to read it–after hearing him chat just shortly about some of the behind the scenes stories, I need to know more!

Are you a Princess Bride fan? Will you be picking up the book?

Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

Bookworms and writers can be intimidating to shop for: their impeccable taste usually makes them your go-to for book recommendations. I’d suggest staying away from specific books (unless you get your hands on a first edition of their favorite title), and instead focus on gifts that celebrate their love of the written word. Here are some gift ideas they’re sure to love!

Paddywax Candles

Paddywax

 

Paddywax creates beautiful (and great smelling) candles inspired by classic authors. This Charles Dickens candle (with tangerine, juniper, and clove) is perfect for Christmas! $23.

Gourmet Grammarian Plate Set

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.27.22 PM

 

Correct your grammar while you dine with this fun plate set! Perfect for teachers, writers, editors, and anyone who wants people to write good. $49.99.

Library Card Tote

Library Card Tote

 

Carry your books with this cute tote, created to look like a library card. When you purchase this tote bag, a book will be donated to a community in need! $20.

Book Scarf

Secret Garden scarf

 

Storiarts creates a variety of gorgeous infinity scarves featuring text of classic books. I particularly love the Secret Garden scarf–the color and the classic illustrations amongst the text is just beautiful! $42.

Banned Books Pouch

Banned Books Pouch

Show off your rebellious side with this pouch. It lists famous banned books, and it’s a great spot to store pencils, pens, or reading glasses! When you purchase this pouch, a book will be donated to a community in need! $12.

Literary Tea Blends

Harry Potter CollectionPurchase some loose leaf tea blends inspired by literary characters–perfect to cozy up with while reading! From $13. You can also enter to WIN the collection shown above: Four tea blends inspired by the houses of Hogwarts, along with a tea cup and tea filters! ($60 value.) Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway