Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Happy 9th Birthday, Thomas!

Having a birthday in a pandemic-induced quarantine is probably not anyone’s first choice for a 9th birthday. But that is the situation that we find ourselves in, so for my nephew’s 9th birthday today, we decided to have a group video chat to share birthday cake. My niece baked a tie-dye birthday cake at my sister’s house, my mom baked a cupcake at her house, and I baked a cake at my house, and then we all got on video call, along with my nephew’s other grandparents, aunt, and cousins, to sing “Happy Birthday” and wash our hands eat birthday cake.

In order to build some extra excitement, I made a movie trailer for the event. This may be because I had to fire up the old iMovie to add some intros and outros to some videos I’d made for an online course I’ve been working on and I noticed that iMovie has templates to make movie trailers. Clearly, an online birthday cake eating party warrants an action-movie trailer, right?

I had to improvise a bit with the clip of the cats, as that part of the trailer required a video clip for slow motion, but I don’t have any video clips of my nephew. I also have almost no photos of my and Thomas together, so that’s something that I need to rectify the next time I see him!

Also, here’s the cake I made:

Pokéball birthday cake for my nephew’s 9th birthday

Thomas and I like to play Pokemon Go together, so I though the design was appropriate.

For the record, this cake adds three new things I’ve never made before for this year’s goal of making 20 foods or beverages I’ve never made before1:

  • vanilla buttermilk cake – I usually make cakes from a mix because it’s easy and I’m lazy, but I wanted to make a small cake since it’s only Scott and I here to eat it, so I decided to try a new recipe from scratch rather than using just part of a cake mix.
  • caramel sauce – surprisingly easy to make. Surprisingly easy to ruin as well, but my second batch was perfect. And I needed caramel sauce to make:
  • caramel buttercream icing – this was tasty, but sooooo sweet. I mean, caramel is mostly just melted granulated sugar with a splash of butter and cream, and then buttercream icing just butter and a tonne of icing sugar, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this.

So the cake was a vanilla buttermilk cake with caramel buttercream filling. It was decorated with regular buttercream icing because I didn’t want the caramel to mess with my colours. Also, I used a bucketload of gel food colouring to get that vibrant red and black. Totally worth it.

While we were on our video chat, Thomas told us about how his best friend, Jack, and Jack’s little sister and brother drew a birthday cake and wrote Happy Birthday Thomas in sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk outside of my sister’s house. I thought that was really sweet.

Thomas also reminded us that in just 10 years it will be his champagne birthday and we will all be drinking champagne. Here’s hoping we can do it in person!

  1. Which I’ve already surpassed, because what else are you going to do in quarantine? But that is for another blog posting. []

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Halloween 2019

I was having trouble deciding what to be for Halloween this year and then my office announced that they’d picked a theme for the annual costume contest: horror movies. I figured that would help me as it would narrow down my options. But as I thought about it, most of the iconic horror movie characters are male: Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Chucky, Dracula, Frankenstein, Jack Nicholson in the Shining. The first two female characters that popped to mind were sidekicks to males: Bride of Chucky and Bride of Frankenstein, and I wanted to be something that was more her own character. I did consider Carrie and one of the twin girls from The Shining, but felt the latter was really a costume that required a partner. I started Googling for ideas and saw a movie that came out quite a while ago that I really liked: Corpse Bride. Yes, I realize that she’s also a bride, but at least she wasn’t labeled as the bride of someone – she just happened to have been murdered on her wedding day.

So I set off to the thrift shops to find either a pink prom dress to be Carrie or a wedding-like dress to be Corpse Bride. After going to FOUR different Value Villages, I finally found what I was after. Well, I did find some actual wedding dresses at the first few Value Villages I went to, but they were a bit more expensive than I wanted to spent on a Halloween costume. And also I was creeped out at the thought of buying someone’s actual wedding dress at a Value Village1. As an aside, if anyone is looking for a super cheap wedding dress, you can find them at Value Village in the range of $50-$200, which is pretty cheap for a wedding dress!

I ended up settling on two dresses in fact – there was one dress that had a good top but was too short to be convincing as a wedding dress and another that was long enough (but not too bulky), but the top of it was too small for me – I couldn’t zip it up due to the size of my back and shoulders from my weightlifting. So I just zipped that dress up to the waist and put the other dress on top. As a bonus, the short dress is totally wearable as a summer dress for me – and together they cost me less than $20.

The hard part of the costume was the makeup. I decided to go full on with body paint and do the blue skin and huge cartoon character eyes and paint a skeleton arm because the Corpse Bride has a skeleton arm. She also has a skeleton leg but I didn’t bother to paint that because my long dress would cover it and also just doing the face and arms took long enough.

My sister told me about the unknown-to-me world of makeup tutorials on YouTube (my niece is a teenager, so my sister knows about such things) and I found this video that I followed to do my makeup. And then I found this other video that I used to paint my skeleton arm.

I had to get up at 5:30 am to put on all this makeup – you have to do a few coats and you have to let stuff dry before you can paint other stuff. And there was a whole production about getting my dress on with the minimal amount of damage to my paint. In the end, I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Corpse Bride at the office
Here I am at my desk at work
Corpse Bride at the office
The skeleton arm was my favourite part.

The worst part was that the makeup crumbled throughout the day, so I had to do some touch ups and I left a trail of makeup crumbs wherever I went. I’m sure the cleaning people weren’t too pleased that evening.

In addition to wearing this to work, I also wore it to the gym, as my gym does a costume contest too. Here I am doing a chinup:

Corpse Bride chinups
Corpse Bride chinups

All in all, I was pretty happy with the costume and I got lots of compliments on both the look and the dedication that it took to wear body paint all day. But I’m pretty sure that I won’t be doing another costume involving body paint for a very long time! I’m trying to convince my team at work that we should do a team costume next year. They seemed pretty enthused by the idea when they saw the costume that one of the other teams at work put together: they dressed up at Costco! The same team the previous year dressed up as the Price is Right. So we are going to come up with some kick ass idea of a team costume for Halloween 2020. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears!