Sunday, October 23, 2011

Native American Art Wedding Cake

When my dad and his sweetheart announced they were getting married, I was thrilled! They both love Native American art, specifically Haida and Tlingit or Northwest coastal art. Instead of having them order any gluten-free cake for my sister and me, I offered to bring a gluten-free cake.

I printed a picture from The Path Gallery's website. The print was called Eagle's Heart' by Wayne Edenshaw.

Backside of the chocolate transfer
Using melting chocolate in plastic baggies, I piped the dark chocolate lines first, then the white chocolate ones and then the red ones. The original artwork was much more complex than I could attempt using chocolate, so I had to simplify the design considerably. 

The finished product looked better than I hoped. You can see the eagles with their heads together at the top of the heart, and you can make out the chick in between them as well.

Since I wasn't sure what size I wanted to make the chocolate art or what size I wanted the cake to be, I made a small and a medium chocolate replica of the design as well.

I liked all three of the chocolate transfer designs, but I decided to use the largest one on a mini cake, which I baked in a casserole dish, since it was my only appropriately sized container.

I used plain white icing, most of which was covered by the chocolate anyway. I'm still not very talented at making the buttercream smooth, so it's probably for the best that my design didn't allow for much of the icing to show!

For the accompanying cupcakes, I free-handed some hearts and use a mold to create a few instruments (the wedding couple's other shared passion is music). The silicone baking cups worked beautifully! They made the cupcakes into cute flower shapes, but the colors were so autumnal and festive that I served the cupcakes still in the cups.

I liked the smaller chocolate plates so much that I made a cake boards for them and set them out with the mini cake and cupcakes as well. If there's a market for Native American Art replicated in chocolate, I think I've found my niche!

Monday, October 17, 2011

You Heart These Vendors

The vendor hall at GeekGirl Con was brimming with talented artists, crafters and skilled nerds of all kinds, so I wanted to highlight a few of the standout booths I encountered.

First there is Ra Design and Illustration, run by Rachelle Abellar. Check out her Facebook page to see more photos of indulgently nerdy merchandise like this:

WHO could resist falling in love after receiving one of these? 
If the Prime Directive says so, then: Yes we can!
You would come to this party.
Keep an eye on Ra Design and Illustration's Etsy site for updates and ordering.

Next, you won't want to miss EMK Photography's journals, made from up-cycled game boards and hardback book covers. The journals, all filled with recycled paper, ranged from old Scrabble and Risk board games to Care Bears and Dr. Seuss book covers. A wonderful gift for any geek!

I chatted with the proprietor, who said he makes sure that the board games and books are in poor condition and ready to be thrown out, so as not to waste good books and games. How thoughtful! EMK Photography also creates greeting cards with a wickedly nerdy sense of humor:

Oh, and EMK Photography also

Lastly, if you are looking for steampunk headgear (and who isn't?) or just something fancy to adorn your coiffure at an upcoming event, Small Rini Lady has what you need:

And if you need more steampunk apparel, go to Team Time Inc. for amazing clothing, hats and pendants:

There are so many great vendors, it was tough to decide which places to focus on, so here are some bonus links for more geekiness.

The Petite Cafe: Adorable clay jewelry made in the shape of tiny food like cupcakes, pie and sushi!

Optimystical Studios: Steampunk, vintage style and unique jewelry

Ada's Technical Books: Rare books about geeky things, plus funky gadgets and toys

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Geek Girl Con Seattle

Geeky is the new cool.

Last weekend Seattle kicked off its first Geek Girl Con, much to the delight of nerdy girls and guys across the Northwest. I arrived early and stood in line peering at the other attendees, some of whom were dressed as Wonder Woman, Mario and Bowser, Vulcans. Everyone else sported their dorkiest daily attire.

My first stop was a presentation given by Emily Huh, editor-in-chief of I Can Has Ceezburger, a silly website featuring cats with bad grammar, that has exploded into an international sensation. As a Lolcat and general Cheezburger Network fan, I listened intently to her discussion of how a ridiculous captioned photo sparked a huge cyber movement. 

If you aren't big on Lolcats, don't worry; there is an abundance of humor at Cheezburger Network! Try visiting Failblog, Failbook, or one of my favorites: Wedinator.

Next on my agenda was to attend a panel called "Geeks with Hearts of Gold," which focused on ways geeky people can use their eclectic interests to help others. I discovered there are organizations such as the 501st and Mandalorian Mercs, clubs that dressed in full Star Wars character costumes to perform charitable acts such as visiting pediatric wards. Apparently there are also chapters of an organization called the Harry Potter Alliance, which run events such as book-drives for underprivileged schools in order to promote "literacy, equality and human rights." It was a heart-warming discussion. What is still lacking though, is a central loaction on the web where organizations like these can network, advertise events and search for volunteers. We need a geek charity forum so I know when the next steampunk charity ball is being held!

Speaking of steampunk, I sat in on a panel discussing the influence and development of the steampunk movement just before I stopped in at the vendor hall to be amazed. There are some incredibly crafty, talented geeks out there. They may even deserve their own separate blog post.

Would you like to buy a Tardis?
After a day of dorky adventures I attempted to take the bus home from downtown Seattle and stepped right into the middle of this:

It hadn't occurred to me that the Occupy Seattle protest would be underway directly in front of the bus I needed to take. Fortunately, despite the throngs of people, the cops, the chanting and the sign waving, the buses were running close to on time. Ah, the miracle of public transit.

On the second day of the conference I made sure to arrive in time to stand at the front of the line for a panel hosted by one of my favorite website networks, Offbeat Empire, a place where you can find everything from DIY Lego boutonnieres to posts about how to cleverly utilize that weird space under your staircase.

My favorite photo of the Offbeat Empire ladies is this one:

I love it because the Offbeat Empress, Ariel, with a sweeping gesture, encompasses the energy and style that these women put into their websites. The girl across the aisle from her is named Cat Rocketship. No joke. That's her actual name; she moderates Offbeat Home. Then there is the random attendee walking toward the camera in her loud, vintage dress, fluffy pink hat and enormous grin. Lastly, I enjoy that in the background, we've been photo-bombed by a someone most definitely dressed as Amy Pond from Dr. Who season six carrying Starbucks coffee.

Next I attended a panel led by a group of women who run their own geeky businesses. Kudos to these women who are turning their geeky passions into careers, even if their passion is creating video-game-controller-shaped soaps or producing burlesque shows based on nerdy TV series.

I'm thrilled that our local Northwest gamers, comic book readers and sci-fi aficionados took matters into their own hands and brought us GeekGirl Con in 2011. I'm even more excited to see what they bring us in 2012!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bellingham Flat Bread and Bakery: Gluten-free Goods with a Smile!

During my recent trip to visit my fabulous aunt in Bellingham, I had the opportunity to visit Bellingham Flat Bread and Bakery, which was one of the (many) highlights of my weekend.

This corner bakery had the most gluten-free options I've seen in any bakery, excluding the entirely gluten-free shop (Haley's) in Kent. One wall's shelves were stacked with gluten-free breads ranging from simple white bread to rosemary garden bread to pumpkin double chocolate mini loaves. The cookie bins held gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, macaroons and more. My sister bought a couple of loaves to take home and the generous proprietor gave us each a gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip cookie to sample.

If the cookies, scones, muffins, cupcakes, breads and cinnamon rolls aren't enough to get you into the bakery immediately, the proprietor also informed us that Bellingham Flat Bread and Bakery is hoping to open an entirely gluten-free venue in the future! So support local business, gluten-free business, and treat yourself to something indulgent!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Percy Jackson and the Longest Possible Title for a Book, Movie or Blog

I'm not normally a reader who is entertained by young adult fiction, but, as many adults were, I succumbed to the power of the Harry Potter series and consumed them all quickly. I wasn't even considering cracking open any other YA books, but my coworkers, who are avid readers, seemed to be pulling YA fantasy, magic, and sci-fi novels and series out of their ears.

I was content to read my non-fiction: Wave, by Susan Casey and The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene. But when a dear friend shoved four of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series at me and insisted I begin reading post haste...I considered it. She didn't give me the first book of the series, which was going to be my excuse for not reading a YA series, but that week at the zoo our intern coincidentally finished book one and loaned it to me. So I started reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief. No more excuses.

First of all, you will notice that the name is too darn long. For anything. You can't even abbreviate it appropriately: PJATO: TLT doesn't have a ring to it.

The series relates the adventures of a teenager who discovers he is the son of a Greek god, entwining tid-bits of mythology that have been updated to more modern settings. I found the plot quite predictable and the characters one-dimensional, and yet, as soon as I closed book one, I opened book two (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Sea of Monsters). And when I finished book two, I started book three. Despite my desire to find the novels trite and ridiculous, I kind of liked them. Granted, I am speeding through them, not analyzing or savoring the literary genius, but reading them nonetheless.

Mostly I like correlating the situations in the book with real Greek mythology (is that an oxymoron?) and trying to guess who the bad guys and monsters are before Percy does (I always beat him).


 I want to stress is that young adult books like Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and the Harry Potter series serve an extremely important function, even if they aren't Shakespeare--these books inspire children to READ!