Chocolate Coma
This year, I was peer-pressured into participating in the Secret Santa at work. The reason I wasn't keen on participating is because I didn't feel I know anyone at work well enough to get them a present that they'd actually like. When it came to deciding what to get for the girl whose name I drew, I eventually came to the conclusion that everyone likes chocolate. After seeing these little dishes in the Christmas baking section, I dreamed up a little chock-full of chocolate dish. It started with a layer of chocolate fudge on the bottom, a layer of chocolate (with chocolate chips, of course) cake, a layer of chocolate pudding, topped with a chocolate crinkle cookie. The cake and pudding, I've made many times before but the fudge and cookies would be new recipes for me.

Fudge layer // Extra fudge cut into shapes
Cut out cake using the dish to trace a circle
Plopped on some pudding // The cookies were smaller than I had envisioned, so I filled in the top with three whole cookies and three thirds
I put the dish for my Secret Santa into a nice gift box // With all the leftovers, I made up some cake & pudding sandwiches topped with fudge and some cake & fudge crumble in cupcake cups

P.S. I've named the dish "Chocolate Coma" because when I described the dish on Facebook and asked if they thought my Secret Santa recipient would like it, my friend Mandy said "After they come out of their coma, yes."
Gingerbread Village
The Saturday before Christmas, my friend Kelsey and I made a gingerbread village. I had bought a gingerbread house kit earlier, and then saw a kit with four small gingerbread houses, so I had to get that, too, so I could make a whole village. Yes, I bought pre-made kits rather than making everything from scratch. If you must know, I hate gingerbread. I had to make it at home once, and the smell will haunt me forever. I had actually been thinking of making a house out of sugar cookie rather than gingerbread this year, but, you know how Christmas sneaks up on you, so this was quicker. Anyway, we had a lot of fun designing each little house and then decided that the big house would have to be the village church, complete with stained glass windows. 

A few tips & tricks we learned: 
- The icing that comes with the kits is great for adding snow, and gluing on the candies, but it does not dry quickly enough to use as the glue to hold your buildings together. We had a little accident trying to move our decorated church onto the board because of it. I decided to use what I learned when making gingerbread houses in school and use melted chocolate (I actually used Wilton Candy Melts) for the structural glue. It sets quicker and more secure. But, it's probably best to just build and decorate your house in its place. Don't try to move it. 
- We used gum paste glue (gum paste & water) to glue some of the candies onto icing that was already drying, or any other tricky bits like our fondant door and sugar on our wreath. (This kit came with red and green fondant.) 
- We created the stained glass look by pressing colored sugar into icing (very messy process) and then used a black decorating gel for the outlines.
The Best Christmas Playlist Ever: Classics
 [Free desktop background from Hey, It's Christmas! Vol. 3. This post needed an image and it's just so pretty!]

I have quite a bit of Christmas music. I get more albums, more artists, more singles, every year. It ranges from classic carols by Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley, to originals from bands I've never heard of. This year, I will save you all the trouble I put myself through of searching through the hundreds of Christmas albums on iTunes, looking for just the right versions of just the right songs. I have compiled what I like to think of as the ultimate Christmas music list, divided into classics and originals.

My list of classics covers all the best Christmas songs that we've heard over our lives. I have chosen, in my humble opinion, the very best version of these songs. If, unlike me, you don't feel the need to have up to 10 different versions of a Christmas song on your Christmas playlist, then you're looking for that one perfect version to satisfy your holiday ears. And that's what I've got here for you. Get yourself a cup of hot apple cider, sit down, and have a listen.

(FYI: The song titles link to the song's Wikipedia page, so you can learn more about the original songs and all the covers. If you're interested in that kind of thing. I am.)

***Update: Grooveshark no longer exists, so there's no playlist to listen to here, but you can find all these songs on iTunes to listen to!

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone
If you've seen Elf, you've heard this song in the end credits. Other covers of this song are too fast or too silly or two voices that just don't go well together. Zooey's unique, deep (for a female) voice combined with the incredibly deep voice of Leon Redbone, make this a beautiful song that I am always happy to sing along to, year round.

Santa Baby - Kylie Minogue
Aside from, perhaps, the girls dancing to Jingle Bell Rock in Mean Girls, this is the only Christmas song that is also quite sexy. Maybe it's because Kylie Minogue performed the song like this, but this is another Christmas song that I don't hesitate to sing along to any time of year. (I also secretly dream of somehow being able to perform this song at some sort of Christmas karaoke party.)
I know a lot of people are quite attached to Mariah Carrey singing this, her original song, but I fell in love with the song after watching Love Actually, so I got this version of the lovely little girl from the movie singing it. And it's great. Sorry, Mariah.

Baby, Please Come Home - KT Tunstall
There are a few versions of this song that I enjoy, but I had to choose this as my favorite. It's a little bit rock n' roll, and definitely fun to sing and dance to.

Auld Lang Syne - Various Artists
I can't even list all the artists on this track, but they all come together to create a beautiful song. I chose this version because I find it the easiest to sing along to, which is essential for this song as you must sing it right after yelling "Happy New Year!"

Sleigh Ride - Karmin
Oh, boy, am I glad this song came out this year. Sorry, KT Tunstall, but it kicked your version out of first place. Karmin brings their fun pop/dance style to this upbeat Christmas song. Trombones, rapping, "giddy up"s. Click here to watch their music video and follow the links to download the song for free!

Silent Night - Taylor Swift
This is a tricky song to cover, I think. Some people try to change it up too much, making it too upbeat, to which I say "Calm down! It's Silent Night! Shhh!" or they just do yet another unoriginal Silent Night. Yawn. My girl Tay Tay, however, changes up the original melody, to make it interesting while still keeping it a beautiful, soulful song for the holidays.

Blue Christmas - Gift Horse
I'm not generally a big fan of Blue Christmas and similar "Boo hoo, I'm alone for Christmas" sad Christmas songs because Christmas is all about the holly jolly merriment for me. However, I love this cover as it's not too blue, and Katie's unique voice is a delight to the ears. You may know Katie from her blog Skunkboy Creatures. Click here to listen to the song and read her description of making it.

Feliz Navidad - Boney M
Possibly my favorite Christmas song ever. Yes, really. It's the most fun and festive of all! I love the whole album, actually. It's reggae meets 70's disco meets Christmas and I love it! Trust me, you will be dancing around your home singing along like I've been doing everyday.

Carol of the Bells - The Bird and the Bee
I have fond memories of playing this song in music class in high school. I played the flute and I remember quickly moving my fingers to their positions to hit the high, quick notes of this song. I love it. However, I've only ever enjoyed instrumental versions before. Adding the lyrics always sounded weird as words seemed squished into the fast-paced melody. However, The Bird and the Bee have done the impossible and created a version, with vocals, that I actually enjoy. It's not exactly traditional, but I get to enjoy one of my favorite melodies in a special way.
This version was my first time hearing this song, and I thought it was a Glee original! Turns out, it's not, but this is still my favorite version. It's fun, it's quick, and they don't change any lyrics to confuse me (Spice Girls, I'm looking at you!). Now, if only I could keep up when I try to sing/rap along with it.
I love, love, love The Nutcracker music. I have the entire suite in my Christmas playlist, but I think we all agree that Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is our favorite song from The Nutcracker. I really enjoy his badass take on this fairy melody. (P.S. Jack Conte is one half of Pomplamoose!)
Don't recognize the title as a Christmas classic? Well, Glee did what Glee does best; a mash-up. Deck the Halls meets Up on the Rooftop is this fun, danceable song. Seriously. You'll dance to it. You'll clap to it. You'll love it.
FInally, a modern version of this Christmas hymn that I can get into. This needs to be a powerful song, and these guys nail it. They also manage to slip a few lines of their own song "Calling All Angels" in there, but I'll forgive them because it actually works with this song.

Winter Wonderland - Jason Mraz
A cheery Christmas song that I've always enjoyed, but Jason Mraz takes the cheer up a notch and in a fun guitar pickin', scattin' kind of way. A change from the traditional without being annoying. A rare feat amongst Christmas music.
Although I enjoy all kinds of Christmas songs, sometimes it's the very religious ones that I can't get into. I know it's "the reason for the season" (Believe me, I know. Grew up in church.) But Christmas is just about the non-religious holiday cheer for me now. I make an exception for this song, really just this version, because I love the melody so much. I just wish I had any whistling talents so I could really sing along to the whole song. This song was released as part of Hey! It's Christmas! Vol. 2 last year. You can download all three volumes for free here.

Happy XMas - Vanessa Carlton
We've had many covers of this song over the years, to the point that I tend to skip over it when it comes up in my iTunes. (Especially the Sarah McLachlan version. Remember those sad World Vision commercials?) However, this version is substantially less annoying to me. I love Vanessa's voice and the overall softness she gives to the song.
Are you ready to rock? This is the only version of this song I actually enjoy. All the ra-pa-pum-pumming gets annoying really quickly. But not in this unique, groovy, hardcore cover. Okay, so it won't exactly get you in the Christmas spirit with jingle bells sounds, but it's a Christmas song and it's awesome. This song was released on the Christmas with The Salads & Friends album. You can listen to it here.

O Holy Night - Glee
What a beautiful song. Yes, it's very religious, but it's so amazing to listen to. If done right. I'm not 100% sure that this is really the ultimate version for this song, but it's the best I've heard so far. You can't do this song if you can't really belt it out and give me goosebumps when you hit that "fall on your knees". Lea Michelle does a pretty good job. This is one Christmas song that you can't mess with. It needs to remain classic.

White Christmas - Katy Perry
If you take away her crazy costumes and pop beats, this girl has such a beautiful, almost gritty voice. While this song can sometimes be upbeat, Katy slows it down. Without becoming boring.

I'll Tumblr for Ya
My first re-blogged animated gif. I only re-blog posts that really reflect me personally.

It's happened. I'm on Tumblr.

I like to keep my blog here somewhat “professional” (aka not my personal diary). I take the time to research & write articles. I write mostly about movies & TV, as that’s what I spend a lot of my life doing and therefor have thoughts on. I recently made a second blog/website for my business, The Bakestress, because my baking posts didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the blog and I needed a more professional landing point for the brand.

However, I’ve been thinking, and sometimes writing, some more personal stuff lately. Not as personal as “Dear Diary, This is what happened today.” but not quit objective enough to be on my blog. It’s more along the lines of “social observations”, quite often inspired by shows like Sex and the City or Girls. I realized I could be writing down and sharing my thoughts about being a single 23 yr old girl still trying to “grow up”. So, I decided to give Tumblr a try as a place to put some of my thoughts about life and the world we live in that are too long for Twitter, or even a Facebook status. It seemed like a more casual format than creating another Blogger because I can also “reblog” little things, or just post a quick picture or quote without the hassle of HTML formatting a real blog post.

Well, here I go. Tumblin’.
TishTish, personal
Christmas Cakes

I regret not taking more photos of this cake. I wasn't very happy with it in the end because it was a bit wonky and sad, so I just snapped a picture with my phone at the party. I really should have got a picture of it after it had been cut because it had red and green layers. I'm tempted to make another one (better planned), but I'm not sure for what occasion exactly...

I wanted to try to make a Christmas tree using the leaf tip. Yes, it took a long time. Yes, my hand started to hurt. But, I like how it looked with just the little silver balls. I like simple, minimalist when it comes to cakes.
What a Bloody Mess
Here are some photos I took while making my Anatomical Heart Cakes for Halloween. I didn't share them all on Instagram because I didn't want to give this one away, but I did take a few shots to show my friend as I was working. Here's a little peek into making these gory cakes. (And eating them!)

red food coloring in oil // carved & iced // fondant on

icing mess // adding some blood // bloody hearts

photo shoot props // after holding one for photos // digging in

birthday dinner (2 + 3 = 23) // birthday dessert
You can learn how to make them too, just in time for Valentine's Day. Watch out for a forthcoming video.
The Fairest of Them All...
For the first time in many years I planned, made, and wore a full costume on Halloween (aka my birthday). I had the idea for a while that I wanted to be Snow White now that I have my long, dark brown hair back. However, I wanted to do some sort of twist on the classic Disney Snow White outfit, so I chose to make a 50's pin-up Snow White.

My original idea involved a pencil skirt, which screams pin-up to me, but after not being able to find appropriate yellow fabric to make one, I remembered I had a yellow skirt (vintage square dancing skirt from Grandma) that would also work. 

The "make" part of the costume was mostly the shirt. I bought a blue collared shirt from Value Village, glued white t-shirt fabric inside the collar, glued red t-shirt pieces on the sleeves and sewed (because the glue soaked through) yellow ribbon on the shortened sleeves. I also safety pinned tulle to a strip of fabric to make a sort of tutu, to give the skirt some "poof". From there, the details were all pin-up classics. Bandana, short bangs, big hair, red lips, cat eyes, mary jane pumps. The little heart on my cheek is Marina and the Diamonds inspired, just because.

I combined my Halloween cake, an anatomical heart, with my Halloween costume to make a Snow White Facebook cover picture, using quotes from the story/movies. 
What was your Halloween costume?
November // Home & Away

I was having trouble thinking of a theme for November. I was thinking of how it's not quite full-on Christmas mode yet, or even full-on winter yet, but things are starting to get cold and cozy, which made me think of home. But, then thinking of home also made me think of "home is where your heart is" and sometimes traveling is home. While this time of year is starting to make me feel "homey" with all the warm and fuzzy Christmas traditions, it's also giving me cabin fever. I suddenly have the urge to move (across town or across the country), get out of the city, travel somewhere new. I guess I'll just have to get my fix of "anywhere but here" in my usual place: movies.

Watch: Human Planet
While you're looking around your warm and cozy home, possibly starting to fill up with Christmas decor, do you ever stop to think what other people all over the world are doing right this moment? What do their homes and lives look like? How do they spend their days? Well, lucky for you this show answers those questions. The series takes a look at the lives of varying groups of people all over the world and how they live, build their homes, feed their families, and have fun.

Read: In Spite of Killer Bees
Okay, okay. I know you're sick of me just recommending teenage girl novels every month. Frankly, that's 90% of my fiction. I think it's time for me to acquire some "grown-up" novels, not only for my self but for the sake of my blog. I promise this will be my last teen novel, if you promise to read it. It's a story of three sisters, all very different, coming together to live in a dead relatives home in a new town. The youngest sister is trying to make friends despite wearing the strangest outfits possible, the middle sister is the typical wild child, and the oldest sister is the mother figure. The dynamic sounds pretty formulaic, but the story is really interesting and takes a lot of crazy turns.

Listen: Ellie Goulding
Particularly, her new album Halcyon, but if you haven't already had the pleasure of diving into her music before, then you better get her first album Lights, too. Ellie's second album keeps her dreamy, synthy, beautiful style and adds some sweet beats. Her music is the kind that you can listen to lying in bed and just be consumed by it, but also don't be afraid to get up and do some twirly dance moves when you feel moved.

I'm Looking Forward to...
Getting into the Christmas Spirit!
I love Christmastime! I am always so ready to leap right in to full-on Christmas mode immediately after my birthday, but I try to restrain myself for a few weeks. Yes, I want as much Christmastime as possible, but I also worry that if I start in on the Christmas music too early, I'll get sick of it before Christmastime is over. I may even be considering making a loose Christmas movie schedule, something like 1 per day because I have so many to get through! Yup, November is time to start thinking about Christmas presents, Christmas plans, even New Year's Eve plans!

Christmas Baking
I already have some ideas, but this will be the month I have to get started planning and making Christmas goodies, especially if they're going to be videos or blogged, they need to be up earlier than Christmas. And speaking of videos...

The Bakestress Promo Shoot
I've had the idea for quite a while, waiting until I could get myself a new camera, and now the time has come. I'm going with the retro 50's housewife/pin-up theme again. But this time I'm going all out. I'm going to do a full video and photo shoot of me and my fancy-looking baked goods. The video will just be a fun "promo" for my YouTube, and also clips will be used for a short intro for future The Bakestress instructional videos. And the photos will be used for my website, Facebook, etc.
Today is my twenty-third birthday. Every year, I pick a song to be my birthday theme. Generally, something that makes me feel sexy and bad ass, something with lyrics about being sexy and bad ass. Here are my previous birthday theme songs. And here are a few songs I'm listening to today...

"Rule number one that you gotta have fun. But, baby, when you're done you better be the first to run."

"All my life I've been good but now I'm thinking- What the hell?!"

"Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake."
TishTish, video
23 Years, 23 Movies: Part Two

Let's continue, shall we? This half of the list is filled with movies that are really some of my all-time favorites. I think that's because, at these older ages, I had more immediate access to movies, so the movies of these years I was actually watching in these years. As influential as some of the 90's movies were on my childhood,  these movies were influential in a different way, as I was more aware of their influence. With the Internet and what-not, I was able to really embrace my movie obsessions with DVD extras, downloadable wallpapers, website extras, fun facts, movie posters, and other media. And then there's just the scientific fact that I can remember my teenage & recent years much more clearly than my childhood years, so I still have strong memories attached to each of these movies.



A Walk to Remember

Before there were all those Nicholas Sparks movies to choose from, there was this, the ultimate teenage, ultimate romantic, ultimate chick-flick. I remember this being the best example of the perfect love story, the perfect romantic nice boy. So, when I found a boy that said he actually loved this movie, he seemed perfect, too. Of course, he wasn't. But when you're this young, it's nice to have too good to be true love stories to help your daydreams of a perfect boy out there somewhere....




This movie was a big part of my life story because it was one of the first movies I ever downloaded when I was 14. Which means that I watched it many, many, times because when I felt like watching a movie, I had a very small selection to choose from. Although I was a little older than 13 when I watched this, I related to it so much. Stuff I was going through currently, or had when I was much younger. The dynamic between the two girls was so familiar to me. I was also fascinated with the movie because it was "Indie", something I was just starting to learn about. Independent film. And this indie movie in particular was more interesting because I learned that one of the stars of the movie, Nikki Reed, had in fact co-written the script based on her own life. It doesn't get any more real than that.



Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This movie blew my mind. (Just like another 2004 movie,

The Butterfly Effect

, but I had to pick just one.) I'm sure it wasn't until after seeing it five times that I could make sense of it all. But I love movies that challenge my brain like that. Sure, it's nice to just sit back and enjoy a story going on in front of your face. But once in a while a movie comes along that really makes me think. That makes me watch it again and again. That makes me shell out the cash to actually buy the DVD so that I can see all the behind-the-scenes extras. Michel Gondry is a genius. You have to see the behind the scenes stuff of how he made so many of the movies effects live, right there, in front of the camera, not digitally in post. Amazing stuff.




This movie sparked my need to travel. A road trip around America is now in my life plans. This movie just makes me want to hit the road! And also be super confident and quirky like Kirsten Dunst. As usual. I think there's a pattern in my favorite movies from high school in that they all feature a female character that I wanted to be more like. I also loved their relationship in that they're getting to know each other, becoming close, and, sure there's some sexual tension, but really they're becoming friends. This movie is nostalgic, hilarious, romantic, strange, thoughtful... Just everything I was looking for.



Factory Girl

For my 17th birthday, it was a choice between

Marie Antoinette


Factory Girl

to see in theatres. I think

Marie Antoinette

won and I was delighted with the overall prettiness of the movie while all my friends were bored by the slow plot. But that didn't mean that I didn't see

Factory Girl

as soon as I could get my hands on it, and immediately become obsessed with it, the fashion, Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol, the 60's, New York, everything about it. To this day, I still love Edie and everything 60's.




This movie is important to this time in my life partly just for the pop culture of it. So many jokes quoted amongst people, references and parodies in other media. I think this movie at this time is remembered by most people. I also have a very specific memory of the night I saw this movie in theatres. I was in college, just starting to make friends. A group of film students were all going to see it, so I went with my new BFF Jason as my "date". I remember we had really bad seats because the place was packed and that Jason kept joking that we should have a baby and rubbing my stomach to which I would swat him away and say "Ew!"




I'm not a Twi-hard, or anything close, but I have read the books and seen the movies and for a while I was a bit caught up in the hype. I saw the first


with my friend for her birthday, without knowing anything about it, and we both came out swooning over Robert Pattinson for the rest of the night. I went on the read the books, which I enjoyed, and have kept up with the movies, but not rushing to see them in theatres. But this Twilight makes the list because, yes, for a while this was my go-to romance movie, my Hollywood crush, and I still have fond memories of that fun birthday night with Kim.



S. Darko

This is one of those movies, like

Marie Antoinette

, that I like to watch just to be immersed in the visuals of the world, the vibe, the fashion, the characters, just the overall feeling it gives me. Yes, it gets dark with all the weird time travel stuff, and I do like that, but it's also the dreamy lightness of other parts of the movie. The girls driving across the dessert, best friends, their aloofness with strangers, the long flowing hair, the pretty dresses, the freedom of it all... And then there's the fun of trying to wrap my head around all the tiny details, and trying to fit the multiple time traveling story together. It's another movie that makes me want to jump in the car and just drive.



Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I immediately loved the style of this movie. They managed to combine a movie, a comic and a video game into one delightful masterpiece. It's hilarious, it's


al, it's bad ass. The characters are all so distinct in their personality and their appearance. You can really tell that it was adapted from a comic book if you notice how every character has a very specific style, shape, silhouette. It was also really fun to watch because it is set & filmed in Toronto, where some of my friends live. Scott is so adorkably loveable, Romana is so badass, and the rest, I just want to be friends with. After seeing the movie, I wanted to read the comics and I love them even more. The story actually extends over a couple years and includes the mundane life stuff juxtaposed with the video game style battles every so often. It's such a fun world to dive into.



Sucker Punch

I was looking forward to this movie for at least a year before it came out. The actresses, the concept, the imagery, I was addicted from the beginning. And it did not disappoint. I also got to see it in one of the new fancy theatres with comfy seats and amazing surround sound. (That was actually a bit too much sometimes. I didn't really need to feel the vibrations of the giant warriors stomping.) This movie is just exactly my definition of bad ass. The girls are sexy, but standing up for themselves, there's action and adventure and some kick ass tunes. I love escaping in this world(s). I heard a lot of people thought it was silly and stupid, but I think it's brilliant.


We'll have to wait and see...

Writing about all of these movies has brought back so many memories of my life attached to these movies. I can really look back on my life match movies to times in my life. I can remember watching certain movies with certain people at certain times. Things like who introduced me to that movie, the songs that I got from that movie, the boy I was hanging out with while I watched that movie, what movies I watched at my birthday parties, at friend's houses, which ones I saw in theatres, rented, borrowed, downloaded, bought, how many times I've watched them, things I noticed upon second and third viewings, things I learned from the IMDb trivia or DVD extras. Basically, movies have defined my life, at least since I was about 13 and really started acquiring movies, learning more about them, and getting attached to visual themes, characters, stories, directors, genres. My life is defined by the movies I watch. Maybe in another 23 years, I'll look back and see what movies defined those years of my life...

Rated FTishTish, Writing
23 Years, 23 Movies: Part One
The past couple of years, I've marked my birthday by making lists like "21 Things to Do Before 22". But since I never managed to accomplish any of those lists (my priorities change a lot, okay?), I decided instead of looking forward for this birthday, I would look back on my life.

Remember that time on Gilmore Girls, when Lane made a playlist for Lorelei's birthday party featuring a song for every year she was alive? Of course you do. I thought I would attempt something like that, but since I'm not much of a music fanatic, I'm going to do My Life in Movies!

I chose movies that are some of my favorites, of course, and if there was more than one good movie for a year (1995, 1999, 2005 & 2006 were particularly full of options!) I chose the movie that was the biggest part of my life at the time, since this is the movies of my life!

1989: The Little MermaidI obviously didn't see this particular movie when it was released in 1989, since I was only out-of-womb for the last 2 months of 1989. I probably didn't even see it when I was a youngin' as we never owned any Disney movies in our home (I lived such a deprived childhood!) Does anyone ever remember the first time they saw a Disney movie, anyway? Those are all the movies that we seem to just have known our entire life, like we're all just born with the vague memory of them until we watch them when we're older and delight in the childhood memories and sing along with them. Hmm... tangent, much, Tish?
Well, despite when it was released, The Little Mermaid (and Ariel's red hair) has been one of my favorites throughout the years. After analyzing my favorite Disney princess movies later in life, I came to the conclusion that the reason my favorites (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) were my favorites were because they had more of a story between our heroine and her true love. The early movies (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty) only had a brief meeting of the two at the beginning and then he just shows up at the end to kiss her and live happily ever after. I mean, really? Is that what little girls were taught to think true love means? Disney finally got its act together and started giving their lovers more time to get to know each other before "true love's first kiss", which gives the movies a much more entertaining story than a girl living alone in the woods.

1990: Edward Scissorhands
I wasn't introduced to Edward Scissorhands, and Tim Burton in general, until friends exposed me to it in high school. I particularly loved this Tim Burton movie for the contrast of dark, creepy Edward in the pastel, sunny, suburban neighborhood and people. It's one thing to make an overall creepy movie, but I think sticking a horror movie creature in this happy, well-lit, perfectly groomed world is what makes Edward Scissorhands stand out.

1991: The Addams Family
Wednesday Addams, you're my soul sister. I feel you, girl. Wednesday's deadpan attitude and little goth girl wardrobe made her a bit of a role model. I can remember absolutely delighting in the Addams family's weirdness. They liked things that everyone else thought were scary, disgusting, or just plain wrong. Since I was a kid, I've reveled in liking things that no one else liked. (I still love to stroll through cemeteries.) I loved catching an Addams Family movie on TV and watching The New Addams Family TV show all day. Weird is just right up my ally.

1992: Sister Act
I haven't seen this movie in a really long time, guys. But I remember that I loved it. Whoopi Goldberg gettin' all spirited and jammin' with the nuns. It's musical, it's funny. Good times. (I really need to watch it again soon.)

1993: Hocus Pocus
I just watched this movie, of course, as it is that magical time of year! Everyone has seen this movie, right? I assume that all these old movies that I remember from my childhood must have been played on TV a lot otherwise I wouldn't have seen them. I guessing some channel would play this every year around Halloween. I watch it every year and I never get sick of it. I love their witch outfits, the cute story, the fun adventure. It's just not Halloween without a little Hocus Pocus, right?

1994: Only You
A friend put on this movie once at her house and I went "Oh my god, I know this movie!". I guess I must have seen it on TV once upon a time. Since then, I've enjoyed this movie for it's beautiful Italian views, a young Robert Downey Jr., and the classic they-hate-each-other-until-they-realize-they-love-each-other love story. Oh, and to cringe at the horrible 90's fashions. Eek.

1995: Clueless
I think Clueless was an important movie for every girl in the 90's. Whether you were a kid, like I was, looking up to teenagers because they were just so cool and you couldn't wait to be one or you were a teenager idolizing the Beverly Hills lifestyle, Cher and Dion became our new role models. Clueless was pretty influential on my young mind, mostly just the fashion. But I think it's important that I point out that I wanted to coordinate dresses with my BFF only for about a month, and then I was over it- back to being weird Tish.

1996: The Craft
Another 90's teen movie that I remember influencing me as a kid. But this one stuck with me more as I became more obsessed with it when I was in grade 9 and wanted to wear all black and white and be a badass bitch like Nancy walking down the school halls. It's aesthetically the opposite of Clueless, and yet the same in many ways. The group of girls accepting the new girl and giving her a "makeover", the girl power, the mistakes and lessons....

1997: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
I came across several other movies I could have chosen for this year, but I stuck with Austin Powers because as far as "movies of my life", this one was the most significant (of this year). I can forever blame Mike Meyers for giving me the sense of humor of an immature boy laughing at poop and penis jokes because of this movie. This is really the only big comedy movie I remember seeing at quite a young age, and I think it truly formed my sense of what to find funny. Because I still think Mike Meyers' stupid gags are funny. Even though I know they're stupid...

1998: Practical Magic
Another witchy movie that I clinged to growing up, and on into teenagerdom. I was so jealous of these girls who got to grow up with magic, cast spells, and have powers. As with a lot of movies with two opposite main characters, I identified more with one, but wished I was more like the other. Of course, I'm more like boring Sally with her brown hair and her "normal" life, but I wanted to be adventurous and wild like Jilly. She traveled, met interesting people, shacked up with hot men, partied all day- what a life! I also envied their deep sister bond. I think growing up, I was always looking for that one true BFF-soul-sister that I could always count on like this.

1999: Girl, Interrupted
If you ask me to name just one favorite movie, this title comes to mind first. For my formative years, this movie was my ultimate guide to life, inspiration, every thing I wanted to be. Ya, basically for a long time I thought a mental institution was the way to go. You get to just hang out and be as weird as you want and not have a job or any responsibilities. Seemed like a sweet deal. I also really identified with the main character, Susanna, who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. And, at the same time, I wished I was more like sociopath Lisa. This movie started my interest in psychology, mental disorders, and convincing myself I had some sort of personality disorder. I also got the book that this movie was based on, and delved even further into the real life story of Susanna's time in the loony bin. While the movie tells a good story, and gives us a look into each character's mind, the book gives a good explanation of what it was really like inside her head while she was dealing with her "craziness". I've watched this movie so many times that I have it completely memorized and can't watch it anymore. :(

2000: Dude, Where's My Car?
This is an example of my low standard of comedy in my younger days. I can remember watching a lot of "guy-funny" movies when I was younger that I now despise. (ie. American Pie, Road Trip, etc.) But this one I still find pretty funny. "Zoltan!"

2001: Moulin Rouge!
Oh, my goodness. One of my favorite movies ever. One of the best movies ever. Epic. Beautiful. Magical. Sigh... I want to watch it right now just thinking about it! I can remember "discovering" this movie in high school and making everyone watch it when they would come over because I thought it was just the most amazing thing ever. The closing credits song "Bolero" is 8 minutes of glorious musical magic, that I've listened to countless times. One of my favorite songs ever. An epic masterpiece. The movie. The music. Sigh...

This seems like a good place to stop. Half way through life so far and also the year that my family moved across the province and I had to make new friends to watch movies with.

Click here for Part 2 of my life in movies in which I really begin my movie obsession, learn how to download movies, and discover some of my favorite filmmakers.

Movie Marathon: Halloween

There are a lot of movies that people will associate with Halloween. Anything vaguely magical, witchy, spooky, or horror/thriller gets played on TV this time of year. However, there is a very slim selection of movies that are actually about Halloween. Fortunately for you, I have compiled a list. Happy Halloween!

Before I watched this movie for Halloween last year, my only memories of it were vague visions of lumpy trolls and slimy troll eggs hanging from a tree. I was happy to see Ernest as I remembered him. While this is an Ernest movie, so of course it's a kid's comedy, it is also legitimately creepy. At least I still think so. But maybe I just have a particular fear of slimy trolls hatching out of the ground...

Hocus Pocus (1993)
Everyone's favorite Halloween movie, right?! I don't know anyone who doesn't love this movie and has since childhood. When you've got Kathy Najimy, Better Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker, you've got movie gold. You've got ancient witch legend meeting modern (ah hem- 90's) technology that results in hilarious scenes like a 300-year old ditzy blond witch flirting with the bus driver, who runs over the talking black cat. (Because every Halloween movie needs a talking black cat.)

Ginger Snaps (2000)
High-five to Canada for this one, right? It's called a horror movie, but I don't like horror movies, so really it's more of a werewolf movie because (spoiler alert) she turns into a werewolf. My favorite part of this movie is obviously their school project shown during the opening credits. A photo story featuring the sisters playing dead in all sorts of creative ways to die. Delightfully creepy and morbid. Just like I like it. Also, don't watch this if you're a prepubescent girl because it will make you even more terrified of getting "the curse"...

Where has this movie been all my life?! I mean, clearly this is exactly the type of thing I was talking about in my MM // Magic post last week. Turning 13 and finding out you're a witch! Even better- there's a HalloweenTOWN?! I should be living there! I only just learned about these movies a couple weeks ago, so I've only had time to watch this first one, but I am really excited to spend this Halloweek (omg, see what I did there?) watching the other three Halloweentown movies! Disney Channel Original Movies really are the goldmine of holiday movies...

Mary-Kate and Ashley! Twins! Witches! Eric McCormack! Cloris Leachman! That Canadian guy I've seen in things! The guy that played Sabrina's "cousin" Roland! A crazy homeless guy obsessed with money! What an adventure, guys. What an adventure...

Now, this movie is arguably more about Christmas (I almost didn't include it) since it's really about Jack wanting to basically steal Christmas. However, it does take place in Halloweentown where everyone's life revolves around planning for the best Halloween ever. So, ya, it's really about Halloween. It's the perfect movie to really celebrate and revel in all that is Halloween- the creepy, gory, scary, fun Halloween- before we switch over to Christmastime, which is basically the opposite holiday.
TishMovie Marathon
Anatomical Heart Cake

The Experiment

Dinner Time

All That's Left of Him


Want to learn how to make them for yourself? You'll have to wait a few months, but I'm planning a how-to video in time for Valentine's Day.
Movie Marathon: Magic

It's that very special time of year, folks. But, before we get to the straight-up Halloween movies, let's ease into the theme of the holiday with some magical movies. 

Now, I've had a thing for movies and TV shows to do with magic and witches since I was a wee youngin'. I suppose it was just one type of the wider fantasy genre that I latched onto. I was always dreaming about finding an ancient spellbook or amulet in the attic that would give me my magical powers. I think most of that comes from wanting to be special. (Woah, Tish. Calm down, this isn't therapy.) My friends and I even pretended to be witches for while and when I was older, my love of


led me to discovering


, and I was actually really into that for a while. 

My witchy childhood aside, magic in movies is usually reserved for us girls. Once upon a time, we were just the evil witches ruining the Disney princesses' lives, but over the years, and particularly during the girl power revolution of the 90's, we started to see more female-starring movies, including magical movies. Witches no longer had to be old hags. They were beautiful young women- teenagers, even. And magic didn't have to be evil, it was used for good- even fun! Unfortunately, I'm long past those formative teenage years when girls get the "You're a witch!" notice. But, it's fun to watch some witchy movies and daydream that it's still not too late for me to discover some ancient token that will finally give me my powers...

Practical Magic


What movie could have been better for my young, impressionable mind but a witch-romance combo? Well, probably a lot of things, but I fell in love with Nicole Kidman's flowing orange hair and goth-boho style, Sandra Bullock's hair, too, actually, the sister-sister bond, the occult style, the beautiful Victorian house in the idyllic coastal town, and "midnight margaritas!" Although, I kind of hate Sally for rejecting her inner witch and going on and on about wanting to be "normal". Why would you want to be normal when you can be magical?! I think she just has really low self-esteem and the childhood taunts of "Witch! Witch! You're a bitch!" really broke her spirits. While some magical movies are focused on the magic, this movie really just uses it as a tool to tell a story of sisters, family, and tolerance.

The Craft


Now this one is definitely, maybe a movie that was not so good for my impressionable young mind. I became just slightly obsessed with it in grade 9. I started dressing in all black and white, pleated skirts, collared shirts like they do. (Ya, my somewhat-goth phase.) Nancy (Fairuza Balk) was of course my favorite. I mean, yes, she goes crazy and evil, but I identified with her so much. Not the evil crazy thing, but because she was way more into this stuff than the rest of them. She wanted to complete the circle, she taught them everything, she was the leader. And she looked so badass while doing it, amiright?

Sabrina the Teenage Witch


Ah, 90's high school movies. There's nothing like 'em, right? I feel like this story is almost the opposite of another 90's high school movie,


. Here, we are with the losers of the school, instead of the popular kids.  Sabrina just wants to fit in at her school, and then suddenly she finds out she's even more of an outsider than she thought. (Who else was hoping for that news on your 16th birthday? Anyone?) Poor, naive teenagers always wanting to fit in. Again- Why be normal when you can be magical?! Fortunately, for all of us, Sabrina learns to appreciate and love being a witch. So much that she continues to use (or misuse) her magic for 7 seasons of the following TV series!



Yes, I'm going to talk about the recent movie, not the original series. This is Movie Marathon, okay? Also, I haven't seen the series. I'm sure I caught bits of episodes here and there, but I'm no expert. Each witch movie has its own witch rules. In


they fight demons, Sabrina points her finger, some witches are old school with spells and potions, but in


world, it's a nose twitch (or an ear tug). It also appears that witches live in their own world where they use their magic freely and only a crazy witch would want to live in the mortal world where she has to hide her magic and do crazy stuff like get a job. (Does she really, though? I mean, she just magicked up herself a house, a car, home furnishings, and anything else she needed first.) This is definitely a magic-lite movie. None of the negative aspects of a magical life. It's all sunshine and lollipops and Will Ferrell.

The Worst Witch


This is one of the rare times that I will include a movie in a Movie Marathon that is actually just bad.

The Worst Witch

is one of the worst movies. But in a delightful, 80's, bad special effects, Tim Curry kind of way. Which means it's actually worth a watch. See, bad movies can be bad in a boring, forgetful way or a "This is so bad! Look at that! That's so awful! And now they're doing what?! Oh my god, I can't believe someone was allowed to make this movie!" way. At the very least you have to check out the best worst part of the movie. Tim Curry aka The Grand Wizard is introduced to the students in this horrifying, trippy

musical sequence

. It's also clearly where J.K. Rowling got her idea of a school of witchcraft and wizardry. While I didn't discover the movie until much later, I watched the TV show growing up. And consequently dreamed of a witchcraft boarding school with cute uniforms, broomstick riding lessons, and mandatory pet cats.

Kiki's Delivery Service


I only discovered Hayao Miyazaki's movies a few years ago, so I'm always jealous when someone says they grew up watching his movies, including this magical delight. I can only imagine how seeing this movie as a child would have led to even more daydreams about being sent off at age thirteen to begin my witch training. I mean, I was already in love with the idea of black cats, spellbooks, and secret worlds. This story of a young witch somehow manages to be magical and yet mundane in that she uses her magical powers, not for fun as any 13 girl would be expected to, but to start her own business. I mean, when I was thirteen I wanted to start my own occult shop online, but it never happened. Maybe if I had a talking cat and a broomstick, my entrepreneurial dreams would have come true a lot sooner.

Guest Posts on Chocolate & Cream Cake
This week was my third time guest posting on Chocolate & Cream Cake. I'm so grateful to Mandy for giving me the opportunity to write for her blog. Mandy's blog is fairly popular and has a loyal following, so to be trusted to write a post that fits her blog's style is an honor.

I can't quite remember how I came across Mandy's blog, or how we became Internet friends, but it happened some time ago. Now we keep in touch through Facebook, and I still enjoy all of Mandy's posts. While her main focus on the blog is all things geek, she shares all of her interests from fashion to her own home decor.

I haven't mentioned my guest posts here on my blog, other than linking them on my About page, so I thought it was time I brought it to your attention.

My first post was as a Geek of the Week. Mandy asked her readers to answer her questionnaire and be featured as a Geek of the Week. I loved when she introduced this feature as it was a way of celebrating all sorts of "geeks", not just the sci-fi-loving variety. I wrote about my own brand of geek, what are my passions and what I think it means to be a "geek".

My second post was for another great feature that Mandy called Fictional Fancies. She encouraged her readers to send in their own posts about a fictional character that they fancy. The first character that came to mind for me was Ned of Pushing Daisies. I wrote about why he is so fanciable and how much I love him and the show.

My post this week was all about Skull Appeal. While Mandy is on vacation, she is having all sorts of other bloggers fill in the gaps with guest posts. I decided to do something fun, not so wordy, and wrote about my new found love of all things skulls. 

If you know what's good for you, you'll check out my posts on Chocolate & Cream Cake and then keep on reading because Mandy is a consistent, caring blogger. Every article is well thought-out and true to her personal voice. And if you have even the slightest  bit of nerd in you, you'll definitely want to keep up with her Nerd News weekly posts. She always finds great stuff!
October // The Outsiders

I was born on Halloween and I've always thought that says a lot about me. Growing up, and all through my teens, I was always trying new styles, fashion or otherwise, and even trying to be someone different. I always enjoyed being seen as the weird one, liking the things that I wasn't supposed to like, from socially unacceptable things to just silly superstitious things (my favorite number has always been 13). In that way, I always loved and related to The Addams Family because they reveled in the odd things that everyone else shied way from.
October, to me, is always the excitement of my impending birthday, seeing fun Halloween decorations, costumes and items in stores, watching the leaves change colors, that distinct smell of a chilly Autumn night, pumpkins, scarecrows and other Autumn decorations. Halloween is the one day of the year that everyone tries to be an outsider, but I'm a Halloween baby, and I was born this way. ;)

Watch: Ruby Gloom 
I came across Ruby Gloom a few years ago when it was still fairly new. I instantly fell in love with it. Just the animation style, the character's style. It's so adorable! This show is like The Addams Family but a group of kids (teens?) living in a big house together in Gloomsville, where the sun never shines. But they're all the most happy characters! (Except for Misery. Misery is her thing.) They're always having so much fun and crazy adventures! The characters are all so different and odd! Iris is the out-of-control crazy one, Frank and Len are the stupid rocker dudes, Poe is the uptight serious one, Misery is a walking disaster, and Ruby is the cheerful glue that holds them all together. I just love it so much, guys! If there's one family of outsiders I'd want to be a part of, it would be this one. (If you're not convinced you'll love it, just take a look at the show's intro.)

Listen: Marina and the Diamonds
I got both of Marina's albums a couple months ago, and I am still listening to them. That's quite a long time for me to be consistently listening to one artist/album/playlist and not get sick of it. Her music may be a good dose of pop, but Marina's on the outside of the other pop stars. She makes fun of those fame-seeking girls in 'Hollywood'. Her lyrics are so much more than "pop". Her first album stays away from love songs and instead focuses on Marina's social observations. "Girls are not meant to fight dirty / Never look a day past thirty" Her second album focuses on archetypes ('Homewrecker', 'Teen Idle', 'Primadonna') with more personal lyrics. I love Marina's music for its dance-pop catchy-ness and its thought-provoking lyrics. I love when an artist can combine intelligent lyrics that I can relate to and also enjoy singing and dancing along to the fun beat.

Read: Alice, I Think
When I had to choose a book on my theme "Outsiders", odd Alice first came to mind. Alice is the stereotypical awkward social outsider. Joining public school after growing up home schooled by slightly hippie parents, Alice finds herself in all sorts of awkward teen social situations made even more awkward by Alice's lack of social interaction with peers. (Think Cady in Mean Girls but even weirder.) The descriptions of her thrift-store outfits alone make it clear what a freak this girl would look like walking down the street of her small Canadian town. Throughout the three books in the series, Alice finds herself faltering through many typical teen situations including boys, a local beauty pageant, friends, family, school, and her on-going quest for the strangest outfits she can find. (If you're not much of a reader, Alice, I Think was also briefly a Canadian TV show.)

 Last Fall // I've started collecting skulls // Halloween props // A wig just for fun

Looking Forward to...
My Birthday (and a whole week off!)
It's only a month away! I still don't have definite plans, but I have lots of ideas that just need to be confirmed. No matter what I plan, I know I have the entire week free! I felt so grown-up booking "vacation time". Am I grown-up? Is 23 grown-up? Do grown-ups say "grown-up"? I'll be using the week for fun birthday and Halloween plans, of course, and I'll also try to fit in as much baking, photo shoots, video shoots, and blogging as I can while I have the time! I have a very busy month ahead of me and it's not going to get any less busy as we head into the Christmas season!

I've got everything I need to make my costume, so that's my project this month! I'll leave the costume a surprise, but I will say that I didn't want a pre-made costume because I'm doing my own interpretation of this... character. It's been a long time since I put effort into making a costume, so I'm excited to actually have a proper costume and celebrate Halloween this year, not just my birthday. (Which is on Halloween. In case you didn't know that. I'm sure I've mentioned it before.) My friend and I are also working on Halloween party ideas. Like I said, I've never really had a Halloween party, as I always try to make the day more about my birthday, but this year I'm trying to embrace Halloween. (Not that I don't like Halloween, I'm just very self-centered.)

Autumn Weather
The weather changed very quickly this year! It seems that September began and- BAM! It was colder, the leaves were falling, and it got darker an hour earlier. I'm enjoying workin' it in my new leather jacket on my walks to work and the smell of chilly Autumn evenings on my walks home. I'm all for Autumn- but Winter better hold off as long as possible! It better not snow on my birthday like two years ago! Last year I was still riding my bike at the beginning of December- let's do that again. Yay, for global warming, right?!

New Camera and iPhone 5!
This week I am buying myself a (well deserved, I think) early birthday present- a new camera! I've been putting off all of my video ideas for months (years!) because I didn't want to waste good ideas on my crappy, old camcorder. Soon I'll have lots of HD videos for you! I have a few photo shoots & videos planned for this month already, so watch out!
It's also time for me to upgrade my phone to the new iPhone 5! I've had the iPhone 3GS for three years, so I'm due for an upgrade. I am very excited about having not one, but two HD cameras on my phone! (Second camera for videos & no need to carry around a separate camera in order to capture spontaneous moments in good quality photos!)
Aside from the excitement of these new gadgets, just the fact that I'm earning enough money to buy these for myself is pretty exciting to me!
The Bakestress in September
After a few months of brainstorming, drawing, web design, graphic design, and uncertainty in my goal, I have finally unveiled an official The Bakestress website. I originally wanted just an information website, but any design felt incomplete without the blog aspect. I decided to go back to my old standard that I know and love (and know how to design), Blogger. It allowed me to combine every aspect of The Bakestress: professional (as possible) photos of cake projects, making-of photos, how-tos & DIYs, information on how to order from me, and information about the Wilton classes that I teach. I think I was able to combine my online Bakestress with my offline Bakestress with a relatable, yet professional website.

While previous baking posts will remain in this blog archive, any future baking posts will be only on The Bakestress blog. My baking posts always felt disconnected from this blog, anyway. Not because it's not possible to incorporate all of my interests into one blog, but because sometimes my baking posts are just- Here are photos of a cake I made. And that's okay on a blog that's made just for that, but felt unfinished sandwiched between fully formed articles about movies. So, if you are interested in my baking life, hop over to The Bakestress blog and follow it in whichever manner  you do.

I don't want to completely disconnect the two blogs, though, so I'm going to do a monthly round-up of Bakestress goings on here on the blog. So, if you're not ready to fully commit to following a baking blog, you can just catch up with these posts and see if anything peaks your interest.

Polka Dot Cake

Wilton Display Board Cakes


Keep up with me on Instagram @tishchambers or search #TheBakestress.

How to make a cupcake bouquet! I love this one that looks like hydrangeas.

I love these display ideas! I've started collecting pretty dishes to create displays and stands.
Wilton Display Board Cakes

A couple months ago, the frame on our Wilton display board in the classroom broke and the display fell down, crushing the display cakes. Tragic. Except that it meant I was able to make a new, even prettier, display board!
After weeks of planning and being too much of a perfectionist for my own good, I finally got to work and put together my display cakes. I used styrofoam circles as the base, covered them in fondant, and attached my flowers with either royal icing and/or wires (for the gum paste flowers). 
I also spent many hours in the classroom measuring, re-measuring, double-checking and finally cutting out all the titles and information on paper. (I think I'm just as, if not more, proud of my precise layout & design of the board as I am of my cakes.)
When my manager asked me to do the new display board, she said she had a beautiful red mat for the frame, so that started my brainstorming of a color scheme. It wasn't until I saw a black, white and pink cake that I was inspired. Black and white look so bold together. It would be a dramatic change from the dull and predictable purple, pink and white of the old board. Of course, I would use red on the cakes because of the red background, but I found as I was trying to design flower arrangements that I would need another color. I cruised Pinterest for inspiration and saw a picture using the colors black, white, red and golden yellow. It was beautiful. So, I incorporated golden yellow into my designs.
For the rest of the display board(s), I stuck with the red, black, and white. I was very picky about fonts and text layouts. I was so glad to find a rounded-corner paper punch in the stash of supplies in the classroom because that is exactly the look I wanted. I also had the scrap booking instructor help me use the Cricut machine to cut out the big title letters (in a font as similar to the Creampuff I used on the board as we could find).

I designed the cakes with a central arrangement so that they would all look similar and keep the design of the whole board very symmetrical. My friend, Kim, pointed out that each cake was like the same design at a different level. I guess without really thinking about it, that's what I was doing. I had the same colors, the same centered design, and the same flowers (at the different skill levels).
The first two cakes' flowers are made with royal icing and the second two are gum paste. They are each using only flowers that you learn in each course. I tried to use as many different flowers on each one as possible, while still maintaining a clean design. Each cake only has two or three different flowers. If I had tried to put every flower and technique on each cake, they would have looked crowded and tacky. I wanted a clean, minimalist design. Less is more when it comes to cakes, I think.

Course 1: Decorating Basics
Ribbon rose, swirled drop flower and leaves.

Course 2: Flowers & Cake Design
Wilton rose, primrose, apple blossom and leaves.

Course 3: Gum Paste & Fondant
Rose, calla lily.

Course 4: Advanced Gum Paste Flowers
Lily, sweet pea, and stephanotis.

You can see my display board in the classroom at Michaels Pinecrest (2685 Iris St. Ottawa) when you come in to sign up for classes with me! Right? ;)