Double Chocolate Triforce Cake

Thing 1’s birthday was over the weekend, which of course meant that we had to bake a cake. Since, in my experience, kids love baking cakes, Thing 1 and Thing 2 helped. I also believe that even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, kids really do benefit from cooking with their parents.

Thing 1 requested a “chocolate Zelda cake with chocolate icing”. Since I am not known for my beautiful cakes (my 16th birthday cake being a great example of my skills), I decided to keep it as simple as possible. We used the tried-and-true Amelia Bedelia’s Sheet Cake recipe, which is found at the back of the story book Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off (Herman Parish, 2010). (You can also find the recipe via Desktop Cookbook.) This makes a very rich, moist, dark chocolate cake — which, as a bonus, is tree-nut and peanut free, and can be made vegan (which is great when you have to make cupcakes for school, FYI).


It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.

The kids had gone to bed by the time the cake was cool enough to ice, so it was my turn. I used the Chocolate Satin Frosting recipe from page 796 of the Joy of Cooking (Rombauer & Becker, 2006 edition). This recipe is ridiculously easy — since it’s mostly made in a blender or food processor, it’s only slightly more difficult than cracking open a can of pre-made frosting from the grocery store. It’s also a very dark chocolate icing, almost bitter, which is perfect for my little chocolate lover.

I made the Triforce design using a stencil. I went low-tech and drew the pattern with a pencil and ruler on a piece of card stock, then cut it out with scissors. Then I simply held the stencil very closely over the icing and sprinkled on the sugar. The result wasn’t completely perfect, but Thing 1 knew what it was supposed to be. As an added bonus, the coloured sugar added a lovely crunchy topping.

So happy birthday to my fabulous firstborn! I love you so much.

Ottawa Comicon 2018 Friday Pics

I kind of want to show the pictures of the costumes that I made after the pro photos come in, so that it’s possible to see what they’re supposed to look like before I get into the pictures where my kids aren’t goofing off. (Not that I mind the goofing off, but it does make it difficult to see what’s going on with the costumes.) But there were some other great costumes that we saw on Friday that my kids didn’t pose with.

My kids have no idea who this comic book version of The Wasp is, although I’m guessing many people these days at least have an inkling since the Ant Man and The Wasp trailers have hit. I was very impressed by the fact that although there had to be a lot of structure under the suit to secure the wings, her outfit was smooth and nearly seamless. This is a trick that’s difficult to pull off in real life.

This Gordon Freeman with a headcrab asking about the release of Half Life 3 made me laugh — especially since the headcrab has its own tiny coffee mug.

This tiny little Mega Man couldn’t have been more than four years old, and even so he had full-on armour and a blaster that lit up.

I believe that this was an original steampunk character. I was most impressed with her insanely complicated wig, and her gun that she’d made from scratch out of paper/cardboard!

This daring outfit is Ryuko Matoi’s battle costume from the anime Kill la Kill. Given how much skin is showing, it presents a lot of logistical challenges (and probably uses a lot of body glue).

This Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s novel series The Dresden Files was obviously based on the cover art, since he’s wearing a fedora (it’s an in-joke with fans that Harry never wears hats and actually rather dislikes them, but the publishers chose to add a fedora to the character on the covers as a kind of shorthand for a detective). I liked that his wizard’s staff and that Bob the Skull‘s eyes lit up.

And of course where would we be without a great Joker?

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

I’m still suffering from con plague, which in my case seems to mostly be a heavy-duty cold with severe sinus and ear pressure. I spent a good portion of yesterday and today huddled in bed, doped up on Tylenol Cold & Sinus, with the bedroom curtains closed because light hurt my eyes. It’s been miserable. Not surprisingly, sitting in front of the computer with its bright screens was definitely not happening. Hence the late posts.

So, on Sunday a group of us went as Men in Tights from the 1993 parody Robin Hood: Men in Tights. We originally thought we’d only get five or six people to go along with the idea, but in the end there ended up being twelve of us! It was so much fun. We were stopped every couple of minutes at the con so people could take group photos, and we were told that we made many peoples’ day.

Our group was missing some of the main characters, but we did have Blinkin (left), Robin (center), and Will Scarlet (right). And yes, if it’s not already completely obvious, many of our “men” in tights were actually women.

We took a lot of our photos poses from the Men in Tights dance number, such as “dance pose”, “manly men”, and “can-can”.

Oh, and “tight tights”.

The costumes were extremely comfortable, with the only real inconvenience being the pheasant plumes that would regularly poke into peoples’ faces. Exactly where you were poked depended on height difference.

Sunday was also Mother’s Day, so I think it was great that my mother and I were part of the same cosplay group that day.

Of course, we had to have a lunch break.

And then we had to pose as if waiting for the bus.

All of us spent a while in line to attend the Masquerade awards ceremony, where one of the Men in Tights won a Best Mask ribbon in her very first masquerade for her Luna Lovegood Lion Head (which she’d worn the day prior). We are all so proud of her!

Notes on costume construction:

– Tights: Any style from WeLoveColors in hunter green.
– Vest and Hat: Butterick 4574 pattern, using Galaxy Twill in Forest for the hat and Galaxy Twill in Chocolate for the vest (both available at Fabricland). We also added a collar to the vest.
– Shirts: Some people made their shirts from white broadcloth and the shirt pattern in Butterick 4574; others (like myself) ordered the White Jacobite Ghillie Shirt Long Sleeve from UT Kilts.
– Shoes: Since we went from a 5-6 men’s to a 13-14 men’s in size variance, we just went with whatever each individual could find that was close enough in looks (and comfy enough to wear all day on concrete floors).

I have to say, this cosplay was the best time that I’ve had at a con in a long time. It was a lot of fun having people over to work on their costumes, and it was even more fun to invade the con as a group.

And did I mention that I had a photo op with Matt Smith earlier that day? I was still in my costume at the time. When you’re getting your photo taken with a celebrity, you’re in there for like 15 seconds max, but in that time he did smile and say “Robin Hood!” approvingly, then pat me on the back. That was just the icing on the cake.

Star Wars Day

Still plugging away at those costumes… I think I’ll have the kids’ done in time, but I haven’t even started on my Friday costume. Eek! And yet, I remain super proud of myself because I successfully both sewed and appliquéd Thing 1’s spandex bodysuit.

I mean, I know it’s not perfect, and there’s a lot of detail work yet to be done, but the bones are there. It was the bones I was most worried about, actually.

And I think I’ve finally found something to weather my Saturday costume that actually stays… I jumped all over this costume in the black soil of the garden twice, but the stains wouldn’t stick. Go figure. I mean, if you look at my actual gardening clothes, you’d think that staining my clothes with it would be a given. In the end, I’ve found what works best is plain old dollar store acrylic paint.

Costume prep is on hold for a bit today while I prep for the Blackburn Hamlet garage sale, because I have so much stuff to get rid of. This is what happens when you buy things in lots. Hopefully sewing/crafting will resume later tonight or tomorrow night.


Photo by Karen Turnbull of last year’s Ottawa ComicCon.

For now, May the 4th be with you!

Crunch Time Chicken

Heading into Ottawa ComicCon cosplay crunch time, I’ve been resorting to some of my tried-and-true dinner dishes to feed my family. Last night I made up baked chicken thighs with my favourite spring chicken spice mixture, served with mashed potatoes and a Caesar salad.

I’m looking for new quick and easy meals for the next month or so (it’s one month away! Eek!), but I don’t have time to do my usual leafing through my cookbooks and browsing the Internet for ideas. I do have a few Crock Pot recipes I’ve been wanting to try that might be perfect. At the very least, I’ll try not to resort to Kraft Dinner and instant ramen…

Na na na na na na na na Bat Pie!

Tonight I’m off to another friend’s birthday celebration, and I think it’s safe for me to write about his gift since so far as I can tell he doesn’t read my blog. At least, he seemed genuinely surprised when I asked him if he’d like a pie for his birthday and, if so, what kind is his favourite. He did say that fruit pies, especially strawberry-raspberry-blueberry or strawberry-rhubarb were his top-ranked. However, rhubarb is almost impossible to get this time of year (although knowing this now, I’ll freeze some in advance next year when it comes in season). And red fruits just didn’t seem dark enough for what I had in mind.

You see, my friend is a huge Batman fan, and I wanted to make him something appropriate to his fandom. After all, as LEGO Batman says, Batman “only works in black, and sometimes very, very dark grey” — although I’d go so far as to say that Adam West’s cowl was a deep purple or blue, depending on the lighting. Since I didn’t want to add food colouring to the filling, so I went with blackberry-blueberry. As usual, I used the Purity Pastry recipe from page 73 of The All-New Purity Cook Book (Elizabeth Driver, 2001). As my father and his mother before him taught me, I made the crust using lard instead of vegetable shortening, which I’ve always been told makes the crust flakier. The filling was 3 1/2 cups of blackberries, 2 1/2 cups of blueberries, 1 cup of sugar, 3 Tbsp corn starch, and 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice.

At first I thought I might make the top crust with a large cutout so that it looked like the Bat Signal, but a friend had linked to a recipe for Rustic Cast Iron Skillet Peach Pie on social media, and I really liked how they’d made their top crust. I thought that cookie-cutter cutouts would look a bit like a cloud of bats against a night sky, which is an image used repeatedly in Batman media. Of course, the fruit filling isn’t totally flat and the bats warped a bit during baking, so they look their most bat-like from directly above. It’s a really simple technique and can be achieved using any shape of cookie cutter, although I have a feeling that the simpler the shape, the more recognizable it will be when cooked. I do have a feeling that I’ll be using this technique in the future to customize my pies. If you don’t like making crust from scratch, I see no reason why it wouldn’t work equally well with store-bought dough.