As I said in my last post, one of my resolutions this year is to learn how to properly decorate cakes. So I thought I’d do a bit of research on the hot trends in cake and cupcake decorating. Here are some of the hottest decorating trends for 2017, in no particular order:
This style of cake has been around for a couple years, and it’s still gathering steam. Bakers are learning that no one really likes tons of fondant, and that a cake can look elegant and beautiful on its own. This cake is more difficult than it looks to make, because your cake and icing layers must look good. (Although you can play around a little bit with decor like flowers and berries to disguise anything imperfect.) I can just imagine a cake like this for a Hobbit-themed party! (Cake by Miss Ingredient.)
This is one of the coolest cakes I saw in 2016. Originally created by Rachael Teufel of Intricate Icings, this entirely edible cake is a classy way to show off your love of science. The geode is made of rock candy and accented with gold flecks. The idea looks extravagant but is fairly easy to do, which is why you’ll see a lot of copycats in this next year.
Speaking of gold flecks… Many wedding trend experts are claiming that metallic cakes are still a hot thing this year. And it’s no surprise. With a variety of tools (edible spray paint, edible paint, and edible gold flecks) available, you can get a wide range of lux looks easily. (Learn how to make this gold sequin cake at TheCakeBlog.com.)
Over the Top
Yeah, sprinkles do make it better. And so does candy and cereal and additional baked goods and… Yeah. People get a bit carried away with their cake decorations. AND I LOVE IT. I’m obsessed with this over-the-top decadent trend. Just looking at this cake feels like the most fun party you’ve ever been to. I can imagine one with tons of candy being perfect for a Wreck It Ralph themed party, and one with tons of rainbow/technicolor making the perfect “Lisa Frank”-style throwback birthday cake. (This “Hero Cake” can be ordered from Unbirthday Bakery.)
If you check out my Pinterest board, you’ll see a lot of this style there. Why? Because it’s relatively simple and makes every cake automatically look drool-worthy. Plus, it can work with almost every trend mentioned above. Drizzle over a naked or metallic cake for an added oomph, or add sprinkles and candies on top to make it absolutely ridiculous in the best way. This is first on my list of cake decorating skills to master. (Learn how to make this cake at TheFirstYearBlog.com.)
Want more decorating inspiration? Check out my new Cake Decorating Pinterest board. And let me know in the comments what trends you’re most excited about!
2016 has been a busy year over here. I launched a line of natural sprinkles and sugars, had recipes show up in Board Game Bento’s subscription box, did double duty as a sexy goldfish AND sexy Alexander Hamilton, and could even be found hosting Dungeons and Dragons’ and Desert Bus for Hope’s charity livestreams.
2017 will already be off to a great start with a redesign of the natural sprinkles and sugars and a NEW product line coming out in February. Stay tuned for more info on both of those! (And with those will come a site redesign. Exciting stuff!) But new products aren’t the only thing to come from a new year. I’m taking time this week to think about the things I want to do to make my life even better and more fulfilling in 2017, and I’ve come up with a few resolutions:
Learn to make beautiful cakes
I’ve focused on cupcakes and gotten pretty darn good at them. I can whip up some professional looking cupcakes in no time, and they’re a go-to when I need something to bring to a party. But I attempted to make a normal layer cake this year, thinking it would be easy. It was, to put it lightly, a disaster. I’ve ordered some basic cake decorating supplies from Amazon and started an inspirational Pinterest board. This year, I’m determined to master a few basic recipes and decorating techniques for cakes. I’ll make sure to post any successes to the blog so you can learn too!
Read at least a book a month
Ok, ok. I know that this seems so easy if you’re a reader. But unfortunately, I spend so much time on the computer, that I don’t give myself the time to sit down with a book. So this year, I’m going to actively try to unplug and get away from screens more and sit and read physical books. I’m hoping to read more than 12 books, but didn’t want to scare myself with too ambitious of a goal. I’m currently reading The Girl on the Train and Ship of Magic, and have Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Drunk Tank Pink, You May Also Like, and The Name of the Wind on deck. Know of a book I should add to my “To Be Read” pile? Let me know in the comments.
Visit a new Seattle restaurant each month
I love exploring new restaurants and places in Seattle, but have gotten so comfortable with cooking at home and visiting old favorites, that I’m starting to lose touch on the restaurant scene. So I’m going to keep an eye on Eater’s Heat Map for Seattle, and pick a new restaurant to try each month!
Finish my “100 Good Deeds” Bracelet
I have this awesome bracelet that has 100 beads on it, each one representing a good deed. You move a little rubber stopper past the beads each time you do a good deed, and I’m hoping to complete the bracelet in a year. This is extremely ambitious, and means I need to be doing a new good deed once every three and a half days. I’m not counting things like “letting another car in during traffic” or “tipping a waiter well when they don’t deserve it” or other things that would qualify as just being a decent human. If you have any suggestions of creative good deeds or random acts of kindness I could do, let me know in the comments! (You can get a bracelet yourself at 100gooddeeds.org.)
What are your resolutions for 2017?
With the release of Rogue One today, I’ve been seeing some great new Star Wars products pop up. No longer are the days where you can find a poster and a couple men’s shirts. Now you can’t go more than a few feet without seeing something else with the Star Wars brand. And I’m not upset about it. Case in point: These kitchen products. They’re useful and attractive, and shows off your fandom in a way never before possible. Treat yourself to one, or grab one for your friend who likes to cook, or maybe runs a geeky food blog (hint, hint).
You know those objects that you can’t live without once you find out they exist? Yeah. My immersion blender will never be as cool as this. $29.99
Death Star Popcorn Maker and Bowl
Movie nights just got WAY more awesome. Plus, this hot air popcorn maker looks attractive on your counter when not in use! $49.99
Everyone could use a nice, new spatula. And why get a boring one when you could get a LIGHTSABER ONE? I rest my case. $19.99
Lightsaber Pizza Cutter
You may be saying, “Tara, there are too many lightsaber utensils.” To which I would say, “I don’t understand. That’s not a thing. Did you know this one makes lightsaber sounds when you cut pizza with it?” $14.62
Lightsaber BBQ Tongs
Oh! You thought we were done with the lightsaber kitchen tools. That’s cute. Anyway, this lightsaber is also BBQ tongs and also makes noises, and look at that, it has a red storage case so you can play with it when you’re not BBQing. You clearly need this. $29.99
So there you have it.
My Christmas wish list I mean, last minute holiday gift ideas for anyone who loves Star Wars, which is basically anyone you know.
Do you have any fun Star Wars kitchen items? Are any of the ones above on your holiday wish list? Let me know in the comments!
If you and your friends are anything like mine, you’ve done all of the Escape Rooms currently in your city, and can’t wait for a new one to open. Well, luckily, we don’t have to wait anymore: you can now host an Escape Room in your own home! There’s no advanced prep needed and you can even participate.
I have to admit, I was skeptical. Would the Escape Room in the box give the same experience as the actual rooms? Would it be challenging enough for me and my friends? Would it be fun? So when I was given the chance to try out the new game, I jumped at the chance. And spoilers: It was even better than we were all expecting. It was fun and challenging, and I truly think Escape Room noobs and veterans alike will have a good time.
For those who haven’t done an Escape Room before, the basic gist is this: You must solve various puzzles as a group to get information that will let you through a (figuratively) locked door. There is a time limit, and it’s a fast-paced, kinda-stressful-but-actually-fun group activity. It’s exhilarating and gets your mind working. I’d highly recommend them.
This game comes with four different escape “rooms”, and each one is a separate 60 minute adventure. The skill levels vary, and if you go in this order, you can work your way up:
- Prison Break (2/5)
- Virus (2/5)
- Nuclear Countdown (3/5)
- Temple of the Aztec (4/5)
I decided to have us start with Virus, since my friends have done escape rooms before. And plus, it was the easiest to plan a party around. (Come on, it’s me.)
I made some laboratory-inspired dishes, like cakes in beakers (don’t use cotton candy thinking it’ll look like smoke. It’ll end up hardening and just looking weird. Lessons learned.) and an awesome “virus punch”.
Put some green sherbet in the container of your choice, and slowly fill with lemon-lime soda. It’ll get all foamy and awesome looking! Easy and delicious.
Anyway, back to the game. We beat the “Virus” Escape Room in about 40 minutes, and we were all so jazzed by it, we wanted to do another right away. So we did Nuclear Countdown. (Luckily, if you end up going through a couple in a night, expansion packs will be coming out starting in 2017. And if you want to share the joy of the room with someone else, you can download anything you may have written on/folded/destroyed during the game from the Escape Room website.)
I unfortunately can’t tell you too much about the adventures themselves without spoiling them, but I can give you some peeks at what comes in the box and some tips for when you play:
The box comes with separate envelopes for each adventure, and a “Chrono Decoder” with a set of plastic keys. The Chrono Decoder acts as your timer, counting down the 60 minutes and letting you know when you can take a “hint” card. (Even if you think you don’t need it, it’s helpful to look at the hint. No one will judge you.) It’s also how you prove that you’ve solved the puzzle! You place plastic keys into the Chrono Decoder in a specific way based on the puzzles you’ve solved, and it will let you know if you can move onto the next level or if you were wrong.
The decoder also has actual decoders on the side if itself, which will come in handy throughout the adventure.
I would suggest having a couple of things on hand before you begin:
- A table or clear space to spread everything out and work.
- Blank paper and a pencil. You’ll need scratch paper and a way to take notes.
- A working phone. You may need to use it in various ways. Plus, you can use the Escape Room app on it, which has themed music for each adventure and a place to take and upload a picture once you’ve solved the adventure!
Basically, the Escape Room game is amazing, and should be on your holiday list. I’ll be bringing my copy to my family’s place and we’ll be trying the other two adventures down there! Pick up your copy from the Spin Master store. Have you done an Escape Room before? And which adventure in the Escape Room box are you most excited to try?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Get out your favorite cookie cutters and recipes, and stock up on fun sprinkles and natural sugars: Cookie Decorating Season is here!
Are you outside of the US? Visit the Geeky Hostess Etsy shop for international shipping! (The same code works there.)
My lovely friend Kiri Callaghan recently re-released Alys, the first book in the Steampunk Fantasy series the Terra Mirum Chronicles, under a new publisher, Doce Blant. And I wanted to celebrate the best way I know how: by making food.
First of all, a description of Alys from the publisher:
Following her best friend’s suicide, Alyson Carroll descends into the realm of Dreams and Nightmares. In her quest to find home, she discovers that Charlie might not truly be gone after all, but when she meets Oswin, the prince of Terra Mirum, she must face her own fears and raise an army against The Nightmare Queen, or surrender as the world of dreams is consumed by terror and darkness forever
It’s a take on Alice in Wonderland with a hint of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sounds fantastic, right?
I chatted with Kiri about the perfect meal to eat while reading Alys, and we decided on making a hearty diner meal: something that Susie’s Diner, the place Alys works, would serve up with a big pot of coffee. So I created “the usual” that Sheriff Moss orders on a daily basis (unless he works a double the night before). He has a big appetite, so it’s a LOT of food. (I’d recommend sharing it with a friend.) But on a gray, rainy, Washington day, this breakfast and a copy of Alys is all you need.
The breakfast is not fancy or fussy. You make enough food to fill a plate (or two, or three…) and you serve it with coffee. I tried to include all of the diner staples. While this is Sheriff Morris’s usual, it may not be yours. Feel free to change the recipe up.
His order is the Two Egg Meal (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, hashbrowns, bacon, and toast) and an additional side of sausage. I started cooking the hashbrowns (from a frozen package) while cooking the sausage in a different pan and cooking the pancakes (made easily from a mix) on an electric griddle. Once those are complete, plate what you’ve got, pop the toast in a toaster or on the griddle, and cook the bacon and eggs in separate pans. (I chose to fry the eggs in the pan I made sausage in to add a bit of flavor.) Top the toast and pancakes with butter, and serve with jam, syrup, and tons of black coffee. Sit down and enjoy a good book.
You can get a copy of Alys now here. Let me know what you think of it, and tell me in the comments: what’s your “usual” at your local diner?
I’m such a sucker for geeky wine collaborations, so naturally I love this. Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with Portland, OR’s Stoller Family Estate Winery to create the 2011 Hellboy Reserve Pinot Noir.
If you’ve never tried wine from Oregon, you’re missing out. I can guarantee this wine will be fantastic, and the label will make you want to save the bottle after it’s empty. The Hellboy Reserve is the perfect bottle to bring over to a dinner party, or to cozy up with while reading your new pulls.
According to the press release, “The wine label for the 2011 Hellboy Reserve Pinot Noir features an illustration by legendary HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola and Eisner Award-winning colorist Dave Stewart which originally appeared as the cover for the classic comic book HELLBOY: THE SLEEPING AND THE DEAD #2.”
The wine is currently available for pre-order and will be released on October 31st. This is the first in the Hellboy series. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
Purchase your bottle at stollerfamilyestate.com.
The goldfish may have officially won the “Ridiculous Sexy Halloween Costume” contest for the year, but so many of you commented about how much you loved the Alexander Hamilton costume, that I just needed to do a shoot with that as well. (Special thanks to Yandy for sending me the costume! It’s not too late: you too can be a sexy Alexander Hamilton this Halloween!)
The lovely and talented Liz Leo shot these pics of me at King’s Hardware, where we stumbled upon the perfect American Flag table in their back patio. It was meant to be. And for those asking, this costume is very comfortable and well made. It’s the highest quality pre-made costume I’ve seen! So turn on the Hamilton soundtrack and guess which song lyrics served as inspiration for each pic:
Sheesh. Over 41 of you voted for me to become a “Sexy Goldfish” this year, and because I love you, I did it. This costume is a beast. Every single part of it sparkles, even the eyes. It’s a leotard-meets-hoody so it’ll show off a lot of leg, and keep you warm with the foam insulated hood. And it’s not meant for anyone over 5’5″. Seriously. I needed help getting it on and off because the torso was about half the length of mine. If you’re petite, though, this costume will probably look freakin’ adorable. Want to give it a try? You can find the goldfish costume and more Halloween costumes at Yandy.com!
A huge thanks to Liz Leo, who takes these photos of me every year. She’s got a great eye, and can always make me look pretty and serious, even in the silliest costumes! Without further ado, your winner of “Weirdest Sexy Halloween Costumes 2016”:
Psst. I’ve got a secret for you. Another costume got a lot of positive attention, even though it wasn’t the winner, and I did a shoot for that one as well. You’ll see those pics tomorrow morning. Wanna know what it is? You’ll have to wait for it…
You asked for it. Seriously. I’ve been getting messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, asking when this was coming, and suggestions for costumes for this year. And all of those costumes were from Yandy.com. So I reached out to Yandy, and asked if they’d be down for sponsoring this year’s post. They said yes! So get ready for even weirder, even SEXIER costumes than ever before.
For those of you who are new, here’s the deal: I’m showcasing some of the craziest “sexy” costumes I’ve seen this year. YOU get to vote for the one you want me to do a photo shoot in. And then I have to do it. Because I love you. (You can see the previous years’ collections and shoots here.)
Now, full disclosure. There are some legitimately awesome sexy Halloween costumes on Yandy. (And many other sexy costumes that I may not be able to leave the house in. But hey, you do Halloween however you want.) But picking those for this aren’t as fun. So take a look for yourself, but then come back here and pick something ridiculous for me to wear. You have until the end of Sunday, October 9th. (I’ll pick a winner on Monday.) Without further ado…
You’ll trend on twitter faster than Kim K.
The most terrifying costume of the year. Only complete if I can get some friends to dress up as tacos to represent the taco stands that will be on every corner if he loses.
How do you make Hillary Clinton sexy? You take the “pant” out of “pantsuit.”
Contest over. This is legitimately the sexiest. It wins. History has its eyes on me wearing this costume.
You’ll be labeled “Fast Food” in these costumes.
You want a pizza me?
You want fries with that shake? (Add a beret to make these French.)
It puts the “spice” in Pumpkin Spice.
Sexy Saturday Mornings
All your nostalgic favorites, not at all how you remembered them.
Let’s be honest. This is on the list because Yandy calls it the “Sexy Trash Monster Costume.” And who DOESN’T want to be a sexy trash monster?
Go business casual with this work-appropriate ensemble. Patrick Star more your speed? They’ve got that too.
Oops! All Sexy. This captain wants to know what you’d like for breakfast.
Brings another meaning to the term “Petting Zoo.”
This wins for most absolutely random.
I just…I can’t.
When someone says they’re dressing up like a sexy bunny, “Bugs” isn’t usually the one I have in mind.
Recreate your favorite fanfic in these costumes.
A sneek peek at Elon Musk’s space suits for Mars travel.
Yeah, ok. I’d kiss someone upside down in this.
A drink buy me you will.
Oh? You want to be punished?
I don’t think this is what Walt had in mind…
All your fantasias will come true.
BAMBI OH DEAR GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU
You’ll confuse a lot of children.
“Hey, my smile’s up here.”
So…what’s it going to be? Vote for the costume you want me to wear in a photo shoot in the comment below. I’ll order the one with the most votes on Monday, October 10th!