Monday, 31 March 2014

Happy Birthday to Josh!

Today is my boyfriend Josh's 24th birthday! So everyone wish him a happy birthday! Haha.

I'm not going to write a disgustingly mushy post about him because he would probably hate it. So instead I'm going to tell you about his birthday cake. Each year since we've been dating (just over 3 years, 4 birthdays) I've made him what I consider to be a "special" cake. It's special because it's not just a plain cake with "Happy Birthday" written on it.

For his 21st birthday, he got a black forest cheesecake. He told me his favourite kinds of cakes were black forest and cheesecake. So in the process of looking for a cheesecake recipe, I found black forest cheesecake and that seemed like the obvious answer. Never again am I making a cheesecake. Cream cheese grosses me out.

For his 22nd birthday, I just made an ordinary cake, I believe it was confetti mix, but I decorated it like Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas. He really likes Jack and the movie. I was quite proud of that cake.

 23rd birthday was banana cream pie. He likes them and I thought I'd try something different. I'm not big on pie but it wasn't bad. He also got half a cake. Since Easter was on his birthday, for his family's Easter dinner I made a cake that was half "Happy Easter" and half "Happy Birthday Josh". Icing both halves of the cake different colours was kind of difficult but didn't turn out too badly.

This year I found (on Pinterest, obviously - I'm also cheating and this is also my Pinterest experiment post for March) a Supernatural cake. He likes the show, I recently got into the show, and I thought the cake was kind of cool. Mine wasn't quite as detailed as the original but whatever.
I tried 2 new icing recipes for this cake, a fudgy chocolate one for the outside and peanut butter for the inside. I decided on peanut butter since Josh is always bugging me for peanut butter cookies, and he loves Reese's.

You can find the fudge recipe here and the peanut butter recipe here. The original post for the fudge one has the icing on cupcakes, which is probably a much better idea than trying to put it on a cake. It's really thick and starts to kind of harden and it's hard to make it look nice and flat.

Then I made my regular buttercream recipe (so yummy) and drew the devil's trap on the top. Fun fact: I was drawing a devil's trap on a devil's food cake. I cracked up when I realized that. You want a fairly large icing tip, I used Wilton round #10, for the star and border (I actually had to go out and buy one since I didn't have the right size) and a slightly smaller one for the symbols, for that I used round #4. I wanted to write different lines from the show all around the outside of the cake, but since I was running out of time I only managed to put a few on. "Bitch" "Idjit" "Jerk" "Love my pie" and of course, "HEY, ASSBUTT!" You need to watch the show to understand why I wrote those.
It's not perfect, but it's edible

The cake went over fairly well. He liked the design and I think really liked the peanut butter filling. I found it a little too sweet (which is saying something), I couldn't even finish my piece.

So, happy 24th birthday babe, hope it was a good one :)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Harry Potter Reread: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Third month, third book, so that brings us to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In case you're new to the reread there's a post that explains it with a list of blogs participating.
I don't know why it keeps taking me the entire month to actually finish the book and write a post about it. I used to be able to finish these books in a matter of hours. Possibly because I'm not just sitting down with a chunk of time and reading. I mostly read on my breaks at work.
Anywho, here's the synopsis for Harry's third year at Hogwarts

Harry Potter, along with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, is about to start his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry can't wait to get back to school after the summer holidays. (Who wouldn't if they lived with the horrible Dursleys?) But when Harry gets to Hogwarts, the atmosphere is tense. There's an escaped mass murderer on the loose, and the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been called in to guard the school...

I've been finding throughout this reread that I keep thinking "ok let's get to the good stuff" when the book starts because honestly they do start off slow. Harry's at the Dursley's, he can't do magic, let's tell you everything that happened last year, blah blah blah. Then finally he blows up Aunt Marge, runs away and almost gets run over by the Knight Bus. I would very much like to travel by Knight Bus. At least once.
You just can't help but be happy for Harry once he gets to the Leaky Cauldron. I mean, sure he's confused why he's not getting expelled from Hogwarts, but then he gets to spend the rest of his summer holiday in the Dursley free environment that is Diagon Alley. I love getting to explore and learn more about Diagon Alley along with Harry. It's such an interesting place.
One of my favourite scenes out of the entire book is when Harry sees the Weasley's in the Leaky Cauldron.

Page 51
 The twins just crack me up. Which I suppose is king of their purpose, but still. They're two of my favourite characters.
I don't like how no one tells Harry what's going on with Sirius Black. I know he's still young, but I felt like they could have at least told him what happened.
It makes me sad how much the trio fights in this book. Over the Firebolt and Crookshanks eating Scabbers, which, after the fact probably seem really stupid to them.
I love the Marauder's Map, learning a little more about Harry's parents and their time at Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, the time turner (I have my own and I wish it really worked!), and Gryffindor finally winning the Quidditch Cup!
I'm looking forward to starting next month's read, and I'll have to start it very early because the books start getting bigger. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is sort of the turning point to the books getting sadder, slightly scarier and heavier.
Hope you're enjoying the reread and stay tuned for next month.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Mini Movie Review: Need for Speed

I have come to the conclusion that I should not watch car movies in 3D. Never before has a 3D movie hurt my head so much. Other than that, I did enjoy the movie.

DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” marks an exciting return to the great car culture films of the 1960s and ’70s, when the authenticity of the world brought a new level of intensity to the action on-screen. Tapping into what makes the American myth of the open road so appealing, the story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country journey for our heroes — one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption. Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, "Need for Speed" captures the freedom and excitement of the game in a real-world setting, while bringing to life the passion for the road that has made our love of cars so timeless. The film centers around Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a blue-collar mechanic who races muscle cars on the side in an unsanctioned street-racing circuit. Struggling to keep his family-owned garage afloat, he reluctantly partners with the wealthy and arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). But just as a major sale to car broker Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save Tobey's shop, a disastrous race allows Dino to frame Tobey for a crime he didn’t commit, and sending Tobey to prison while Dino expands his business out West. Two years later, Tobey is released and set on revenge — but he knows his only chance to take down his rival Dino is to defeat him in the high-stakes race known as De Leon — the Super Bowl of underground racing. However to get there in time, Tobey will have to run a high-octane, action-packed gauntlet that includes dodging pursuing cops coast-to-coast as well as contending with a dangerous bounty Dino has put out on his car. With the help of his loyal crew and the surprisingly resourceful Julia, Tobey defies odds at every turn and proves that even in the flashy world of exotic supercars, the underdog can still finish first.

I found that the movie was rather predictable, and mildly ridiculous at some points, but what can be expected from a movie based on video games? It definitely had some funny moments, I greatly enjoyed Julia's character.
There are 3 main races in the movie, along with the "race" across the country. They have a friend flying above them, letting them know if there's traffic or cops. They need to attract enough attention on their trip to California from New York so that the Monarch will give Tobey a spot in the De Leon.
Other than that, there's not a whole lot else to say about the movie. There's fast cars and a race against time for revenge.
This is sad, my review's going to be shorter than the synopsis.
Anyways, decent movie, I would not recommend watching it in 3D but if you like fast cars and action movies give it a watch.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Brief Book Review: How to Eat a Cupcake

Cupcakes are probably one of my favourite things. It's sad, but true. I love baking them and eating them and giving them to people. If I had the means I would actually want to own my own little cupcakery. Which is probably why I was drawn to How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donahue.

Funny, free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated, ambitious Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls who know nothing of class differences and scholarships could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.  
A decade later, Annie is now a talented, if underpaid, pastry chef who bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death. Julia, a successful businesswoman, is tormented by a painful secret that could jeopardize her engagement to the man she loves. When a chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, they must overcome past hurts and a mysterious saboteur or risk losing their fledgling business and any chance of healing their fractured friendship.

Since the story starts off from Annie’s point of view, you pretty much automatically hate Julia. You know she hurt Annie and she seems like a spoiled rich kid. Once it switches to Julia’s perspective you realize that she was just a stupid teenager and didn’t even realize what she did to Annie in high school. She’s going through a tough time and you start to warm to her a little bit. The chapters switch back and forth between Annie and Julia’s point of views. I think there was just enough time spent on each chapter before switching back to the next girl.
You go through most of the story, not knowing quite why Julia’s home, why she’s depressed and why she spent some time in the hospital. I felt that this was revealed at the perfect time, and Julia got to spend the rest of the novel happy.
There was also the matter of the saboteur, trying to put them out of business. It seemed mildly ridiculous, but at the same time I was absolutely terrified for the girls. People spray painting not nice things on the building, throwing bricks at windows and creepy men in hooded sweatshirts would not have been fun to deal with. It all gets resolved in the end though, which is good.
It takes the girls a while to come to terms with the past and accept that, no matter what, they’re still practically family.
I really enjoyed How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donahue. It was cute, funny and enjoyable all without being too fluffy, and had some more serious moments that actually fit well and didn't totally bring the book down.
I wish I had Annie’s baking talents. Everyone says how fabulous her cupcakes are and how amazing she is at coming up with different recipes, almost makes me jealous. Her cupcakes sound delicious and I would love to be able to visit their shop Treat.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Upcoming March Movie Releases

March is a bit of a disappointing month for movie releases. There are no movies coming to theatres that I am excited about seeing, and there are 4 DVD releases, only one of which I've actually seen and plan on purchasing.

Being released on March 7 is Catching Fire
Or if you're the movie company The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I'm not sure why that bothers me so much. Either way, Catching Fire is the second movie in the Hunger Games series.

Katniss Everdeen has returned home safely after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way, Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

You can read my review of Catching Fire here. Overall I thought it was a good movie, and will be buying it some point after its release. Not sure if it will be right away or in a little while, mostly because I shouldn't spend that much money on a movie.

The next three releases that I'm (potentially) excited for, are all being released on March 18.

Starting off with Frozen, this one is the one I do plan on watching hopefully sooner rather than later because I *still* have not seen it. Not going to theatres to see it was caused by a combination of it being in 3D (ugh), weird schedule, and not really having anyone to go with (Josh apparently doesn't like musicals...). However, unfortunately because it's a Disney movie it will not be cheap to buy so I'm just going to cross my fingers that Netflix gets it and I can watch it on that.

When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna (voice of Kristen Bell), a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.

The main reason I want to watch this movie is that Sven and Olaf crack me up (I apparently love the non-human Disney characters...). Plus it's a Disney movie and I am clearly still 5 years old.

Next is Saving Mr Banks. Another Disney movie, but not the adorable cartoon type.

When Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) tries to buy the rights to her novel, "Mary Poppins," author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) is reluctant at first, because Disney is known for animated films and she doesn't want her beloved character Mary Poppins to become a cartoon. However, she finally gives in to Mr. Disney's charms and travels from London to Hollywood to discuss the possibility.

I like the idea of learning the history behind the creation of Mary Poppins, and seeing what Disney was like back then. I also think Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are fabulous so I'd like to see how they do. This movie I probably won't be watching for a while, I might look for it in a little while but I know I won't be buying it.

Last up is American Hustle. To be totally honest I don't know a whole lot about this movie. It was nominated for a bunch of Oscars and has a lot of talented people in it. That's about all I know.

Brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are forced to work for wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that's as dangerous as it is enchanting.
 Hmm. Reading a couple reviews while grabbing that synopsis did not sound too promising. Oh well. This is not a movie I will be actively seeking out, but if I come across it I'll give it a shot. I love Jennifer Lawrence and would love to see her in a different type of role.

So, there's my recap of what's being released this month. Sorry for the delay. I blame February for being so short haha. Stay tuned for next month's movie releases.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Harry Potter Reread: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

As February is the second month (I know, I'm slow and it's March now), it makes sense that this month's Harry Potter reread would be the second book. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is book number 2 in the series. In case you're curious, the post explaining the reread can be found here, it also lists the other blogs participating in the reread if you'd like to read more posts. You can also check out my review for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
I have to say Chamber of Secrets is probably my least favourite of all the books. Not for any specific reason, but this reread didn't make me like it any better.
I hate what happens and that everyone thinks it's Harry, and Lockhart is just a giant ass. I kept internally yelling at them to not do stupid things. It's not that it's a bad book, I'm just not as fond of it. 
And again, if you've never read the books (why are you here?) I shall provide the synopsis.
HARRY POTTER is a wizard. He is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last...

Wow, the synopses for these books so far suck. Well, I suppose they don't give anything away which is a good thing, but then people might not pick the book up because they have no idea what it might be about.
I had another "hmmm..." moment while reading this one, when the trio is discussing Tom Riddle and Harry says he really wishes he knew why Riddle got the award for special services to Hogwarts and Ron says "Could've been anything...Maybe he murdered Myrtle, that would've done everyone a favour..." I definitely never caught that before (call me stupid if you will) but, in reality, he did.
I'm having a particularly hard time writing this post and I'm not entirely sure why.
There are quite a few things in this book that are important later on in the series. Sometimes it's nice reading the series and the books for the first time, not knowing that a character is going to die or that an object mentioned will be important later on. But on the flip side of that, it's amazing to see all the details that JK put into these novels.
One thing I did love about Chamber of Secrets was getting to see a little bit more of the wizarding world. With getting to visit The Burrow, travelling by floo powder and the trip to Diagon (and Knockturn) Alley.
I apologize for how not exciting this review is. This book just doesn't excite me as much as the others, and it's already March so I think I may just end it here.
So next...I suppose this...month's reread with be book 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This book I like a little bit better so hopefully the reread and posting will be done earlier.