The Best Christmas Playlist Ever: Originals
Last year, my Christmas blogging plans were interrupted by the trauma induced by the sudden death of my beloved iMac of 6 years. It derailed a lot of my Christmas plans. Even though I was only without a computer for three days (I got a MacBook Pro as a replacement), it was such a weird adjustment period (I couldn't watch all my Christmas movies on my TV because my MacBook was too new to hook up with my old TV!) that I scrapped a lot of plans. Those plans included a lot more Christmas blogging and even some decorations DIYs. This year my Christmas blogging as been interrupted by working long hours, laziness, and just generally not blogging much all year.

Lucky for you, though, I'm finally here to post the second half of my Best Christmas Playlist Ever! This list is the best original songs I have. And maybe it's a good thing this list waited a year because I've added a few new songs to the list this year.

***Update: Grooveshark doesn't exist anymore, so there's no playlist here to listen to, but you can look up the songs on iTunes easily!


All I Want for Christmas - Joss Stone
"All I want for Christmas is you. Nothing old, nothing new, borrowed, or blue."

Shake Up Christmas - Train
"Shake it up! Shake up the happiness! Wake it up! Wake up the happiness! Come on, y'all, it's Christmastime."

All My Bells are Ringing - Lenka
"Take my heart this Christmas. I'll wrap in a ribbon and a bow. Take my heart this Christmas. Take it wherever you go."

More Than I Wished For - Schuyler Fisk
"You're the sugar and my spice. The naughty to my nice. You are the one. You're more than I wished for."

Christmas in the Sand - Colbie Caillat
 "I saw Santa in his bathing suit. Trying to catch a wave but he tried too soon. He laughed so hard that he could barely breathe. And washed up next to me."

The Christmas Song - The Raveonettes
 "All the lights are coming on now. How I wish that it would snow now. I don't feel like going home now. I wish that I could stay."

Christmas Tree - Lady Gaga
"Oh, oh, Christmas. My Christmas tree's delicious."

The Greatest Time of Year - Aly & AJ
 "It's the greatest time of year and it's here! Help me celebrate it!"

December - Norah Jones
 "December won't you come. Back with snow and sun. Don't say that it's done."

Best Christmas Ever - Wonder Girls
"I hope my Christmas wish comes true. Hey, Santa do you hear me? Then underneath the mistletoe I found you. It's a miracle! A Christmas miracle!"

December 25 - Francesca Battistelli
"It's like coming home knowing everything's right. Oh, December 25."

Always in Season - Pomplamoose
"Cause I thought Christmas was supposed to be more than lighting up the Christmas tree. More than filling up our socks with toys. More than all of this tremendous noise."

Calling to Say - Serena Ryder
"I just thought I'd call and ask Are you having fun? Are you seeing anyone? Ya, I've been busy, too. Hope I'm not keeping you."

Christmas - Leona Naess
"Cause I'm full of love. Ya, I'm full of the above."

Extraordinary Merry Christmas - Glee
"It's a very, very, merry, merry Christmas. Gonna party on 'til Santa grants my wishes."

Fairy Tale of New York - The Pogues
"You're a bum, you're a punk, you're an old slut on junk! You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot! Happy Christmas, your arse, I pray to God it's our last."

Where are You Christmas? - Faith Hill
"Where are you, Christmas? Why can't I find you? Why have you gone away?"

4 Carats - Kelly Clarkson
 "Like a diamond ring. Just a little something from Tiffany. Or a big ruby. You know red has always looked good on me."

Tish
Procrastination, Integrity, and Unicorns: Making My First Web Series

Last year I had an idea. An awesome idea. 

My idea was about unicorns. After seeing Unicorn Poop Cookies all over the Internet, a short scene popped into my head. And then another. And another. And then I realized that this was not just a short and silly video idea, this would have to be a series of videos. It was the first time I had an idea for a web series. I’ve had lots of video ideas, blog post ideas, article ideas, photo shoot ideas, but never a web series idea. I was excited and inspired. I even went so far as to tell my friends about my idea because, unlike most of my creative projects, I couldn’t do this one alone. But, like most of my ideas, it stayed in an Evernote note, occasionally being added to, but never acted upon. 

My loyal friend Procrastination stayed by my side telling me things like “Well, Summer is almost over. You can’t start shooting now.” and “Take the Winter to work on it, and you’ll be ready to start shooting when the snow is gone.” And then I got a new job with early mornings and long hours and Procrastination’s friend, Laziness, insisted I spend my post-work hours enjoying the Summer weather reading in the park.

“Great people do things before they’re ready.” - Amy Poehler 

And then, for whatever reason, (maybe I had finally settled into my new work hours and was less exhausted, maybe something in particular inspired me) I finally said to my friend Kelsey, “The Unicorn Hunt. We’re doing this.” 

I wasn’t ready. I just had a bunch of vague video ideas and a very rough logo sketch. But, once I got going, there was no stopping me. We had design meetings to draw our logo and graphics. I refined video ideas into scripts. I made an episode schedule. I planned DIYs, a Tumblr, and bonus material. I shopped for royalty-free music online. I was determined to make this happen.

In a way, I was, and still am, dragging Kelsey along for the ride, but having someone expecting a script, a design direction, or a day of shooting has kept me accountable and on track. When attempting a project all on my own, I can tell myself of sorts of excuses and I’ll except them because, well, they’re my excuses. But having someone who will know if I flake out, procrastinate, or try to blow the whole thing off keeps just enough guilt over my shoulder to keep me going.

“Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” - Tina Fey

We started shooting outdoor episodes in September (“We gotta get the outdoor episodes done before the dreaded cold and snow!”) and soon after I set a premiere date: October 16th. Eight weeks and five videos later, I am still loving every minute of it! Even though my old friend Procrastination is still around persuading me to wait until the night before a promised video date to finish editing a video, I am proud to say I haven’t missed a video date yet. I learned from

Michelle Akin

that integrity is keeping your word, doing what you said you’d do. I’ve had a lot of projects started that I let fall away, but sticking with one feels amazing! The best part is that it is an ongoing project, so I get the high of putting out a video every other week, as well as the discipline of sticking to schedule. It’s a good balance of work & reward. I’ve still got lots of ideas for The Unicorn Hunt (more than just videos!), so I hope I can keep riding this high for a long time. This integrity thing feels pretty awesome.

“You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going.” - Marie Forleo

Even without many views, subscribers, or followers, I'm having a blast making stuff that I love with my best friend. And, we’re pretty confident that it’ll catch on since unicorns are totally

in

 right now. So, we’re going to keep making plans and dreaming big. Sure, it would be fun to be a big YouTube hit but, it’s still pretty fun making unicorn jokes with my best friend, writing unicorn adventures, and making unicorn art all the time. Even if it’s just for our own amusement.

(But, seriously, please watch our videos!)

Halloween Cakes: Dia De La Meurtos Sugar Skulls
For my birthday/Halloween (it's the same day!), I decided to make several small cakes, rather than one big cake. I had a lot of fun making and taking photos of my birthday/Halloween cakes last year. I thought this year my friends and I could have fun painting these sugar skull cakes.

To go along with my sugar skulls, I created a candy table. Lots of candy, lots of glass containers, plates, and stands with a few Halloween decorations thrown in.



I couldn't have a candy table without a plate of my famous candy sushi.

You can tell which two of the six my friend Kim painted because she is a perfectionist and I was just having fun.





TishTish
The Unicorn Hunt // DIY: Unicorn Poop Cookies



Aren't they adorable?! Here's how you can make your own!



Here are some tips we left out of the video:

Chill your dough as often as possible. After you make the recipe, after you color it, and after you create your cookies. Cold dough is easier to work with and putting cold cookies into the oven stops them from spreading even more.

You may be tempted to flour your work surface when working with cookie dough, but in this case it will not help. Although the stickiness of the dough can seem to make rolling out thin logs tricky, using flour means that your strips of dough won't stick to each other when you try to roll them together into one cookie.

The long, thin strips of dough will break often. It's no big deal, just stick it back together and be careful as you roll.

You will find as you roll from one end there will be a point at which it seems like you're rolling the wrong way. You should start rolling from the other end, in the opposite direction. Your twisting will come together in the middle and your dough will be fully twisted.

You can try spraying water from a spray bottle onto your cookies to help small sprinkles stick. Larger sprinkles are easy enough to press into the cookie by hand.

The vegan sugar cookie recipe I used was from BettyCrocker.com.







Have fun and watch out for the next episode of The Unicorn Hunt on November 27th!
TishThe Unicorn Hunt, video
Do I Have Room in My Life (and Heart) for a Third Sherlock?

This is the question I asked myself recently when deciding if I wanted to watch the most recent Sherlock Holmes interpretation, the television series,

Elementary

. Being a big fan of BBC's

Sherlock

first, I felt like many

Sherlock

fans felt, that we didn't need another modern day Sherlock Holmes, we already have Steven Moffat's brilliant mind and Benedict Cumberbatch's brilliant depiction. I was on the hunt for new (to me) TV shows to get into, when the regular TV season had ended and I was down to only two airing shows for the Summer, so I decided to give

Elementary

a shot. Long story short; the answer is yes. And here's why. 

The reasons I've come to love the character of Sherlock (namely, as depicted in BBC's

Sherlock

, but to a lesser extent, the movies starring Robert Downey Jr.) are present in

Elementary

, as well. He is brilliant; I love to watch how his clever, clever mind makes his observations and connections. He's anti-social;

Sherlock

's viewers have gone so far as to suggest Sherlock has Aspergers. I wouldn't go that far. Like nerds who are happier to spend their days consumed by World of Warcraft than go out and meet girls, Sherlock has found something that challenges his mind and evokes his passions. I find him akin to Sookie of

True Blood

. She can read minds. Without choice. It's hard for her to get to know people because she learns too much about them just by being near them. Sherlock can just look at a person and know things about them that they might not want to share. Sherlock chooses the people to share his life with very carefully. As it is pointed out in

Elementary

, it is as if he has extremely heightened senses. He needs to choose what he is exposed to, lest he be overwhelmed with details that he deems useless. 

We love him, in all his forms, because he is very smart with an odd personality and lifestyle. He's fascinating to us mere mortals who could never come close to solving the mysteries he solves in minutes, and live ordinary lives surrounded by ordinary people. That's what TV, movies, and books are for- to escape our reality, into one much more interesting. 

The clues and cases of

Elementary

did not impress my feeble brain as much as

Sherlock

's. Although, to

Elementary

's credit, they are working with weekly 40-minute episodes. Their cases have to be wrapped up more quickly than Sherlock's 2-hour long episodes (three in a season). Some of the cases' conclusions in

Elementary

seemed a bit too obvious, even I made that connection. Whereas

Sherlock

kept me confused, but intrigued the entire time. (I once figured out a clue moments before Sherlock did. I've never felt smarter.) 

However, the difficulty of the cases is not the only point to judge our Sherlocks by. I quickly found myself falling for Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock, just as I have fallen for Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. British, eccentric, with rare moments of affection. I didn't find that

Elementary

borrowed too much from

Sherlock

. All three of our Sherlocks share the same personality traits that I mentioned, of course, but Jonny Lee Miller takes Sherlock in a different direction. (He also has the most adorable/hilarious Grumpy Cat Resting Face.) 

I now find myself just as excited for a second season of

Elementary

as I am for the third season of

Sherlock

. More eccentricities, more mysteries. And don't feel left out, RDJ. Your time as Sherlock may have passed, but you'll still get the occasional re-watches out of me.

TishIn the Movies, Writing
I'm Not Shy; I'm an Introvert.
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People using the word “shy" is a sore spot for me. A four year old girl hiding behind her mother’s leg when a stranger approaches is shy. A 23 year old woman who doesn’t talk much is not. Once upon a time, I was absolutely that shy four year old hiding behind my mother. You could say I spent most of my childhood and adolescence being shy, sure. But somewhere in my post-secondary years, I did indeed start to “come out of my shell".

It took a few more years still for me to not just overcome my “shyness", but to accept it as who I am. I am an introvert. Through and through. I am proud to say so, and will happily explain what that means to people who think I’m shy, timid, socially anxious, or just plain weird.

People who met me when I was 20 years old starting my first job as a cashier, not knowing me before, would use words like “shy" to describe me, which felt like a punch in the gut. I knew I had come so far from my timid, socially anxious teenage self, but apparently that still wasn’t good enough for people.

The catalyst of my journey from social anxiety to social acceptance began with my first year of college. I was fresh out of high school. At just 17 years old I was dropped off by my parents in a new city, far from home, left to fend for myself. My first challenge came just hours after my parents and I had exchanged a tearful goodbye; I had to walk to my new school by myself, ask for help to find the classroom by myself, and sit in a room of peers while completing an entrance assessment by myself. I did it. All by myself.

Over the next few months, I did all sorts of new things all by myself. I went to school. I spoke to classmates. I went grocery shopping. I even acted in classmates’ (new friends) student films and developed a crush on a boy who, by some miracle, actually liked me back! The rest of the school year had its highs (my first boyfriend and my first kiss) and its lows (depression, failing classes), but by the time I came back home for the summer, my friends were commenting how outgoing I was being around people that I wouldn’t have said much to before. I felt like I had grown so much. And I had.

Skip forward four years and I’ve been to college again, worked a cashier job for almost three years, been a cake decorating class instructor for one year, and just started a job in a bakery. I’ve come a long way with the socializing thing. I can small-talk now, if I have to. I can exchange pleasantries with strangers. I can even make new friends. Yet, this word “shy" still haunts me. Some people just don’t seem to understand that there could be any reason for not speaking other than out of fear. Is it really so strange for me to not chat while I’m concentrating on decorating a cake? I like my work, I like the people I work with, but being an introvert means that I don’t always remember social interactions that come naturally to people. Things like replying “And, how are you?" after responding to their same question with an perfunctory “Good." don’t come naturally to me. I’m not rude, inconsiderate, or self-centered. It’s just not wired into my brain to be curious about other people, I guess.

After a good day at work, feeling confident that I got everything done properly that was assigned to me, it’s a real kick in the pants to hear my boss tell me I need to stop being “shy". Augh! That word! I’m trying my best, but sometimes it feels like my own personality, my true self, is just sabotaging me in my professional life. Can we get Introvertism declared some sort of official medical condition, so that employers cannot discriminate against it? I don’t think it’s fair to point out my personality as something I need to work on in an employee assessment. Next thing, they’ll be telling me I need to change my face. (I’ve suffered from chronic Bitchface my whole life. I actually had a customer say to me “No, I think I’ll find someone who actually wants to help me." after just looking at my face.) Why can’t people just understand that there are different types of personalities, that people have different ways of socially interacting? I might have to start listing “Introvert" under Skills on my resumé to warn people. Or hand out a pamphlet to everyone I meet; “Introverts: Care Instructions".

Over the past few years, I’ve gone from wishing I was different, that I could make friends and go out and party to being very comfortable in my introvert skin. I spend the majority of my time alone, as I live alone, and only have a few friends to hang out with occasionally. But thanks to the Internet, I can keep in touch with old and new friends, and be a part of online communities that make me feel less isolated. I’m quiet around people because I don’t have anything to say, not because I’m scared to say anything. I don’t go out of my way to make friends because I’m happy with my handful of real-BFF-since-high school friends, and frankly, I haven’t run into anyone that I’ve felt a kinship towards in a long time.

So, you can say I’m quiet. It’s true, even when I do speak it’s not very loudly. You can say I’m a hermit. It’s true, I don’t venture outside unless I have plans with a friend, I need groceries, or perhaps I want a picnic in the park on a sunny afternoon. You can even point out my bitchface because I’ve seen it for myself. But, please, please, don’t dare call me shy, timid, scared, anxious, or weak. I am confident in my introvertness. I am strong. I am proud. I am capable of great things. You just won’t hear me say those things out loud, because, frankly, I don’t talk much. And that’s okay.

[FYI: This article was originally posted on my

Tumblr

and later submitted to

Hello Giggles

.]

Tishpersonal, Writing
The Luxury to Design My Own Life

“We’re adults without children. We have the luxury to design our own life.” 

Sex and the City 2

I must remember to paraphrase this quote the next time someone questions my decision to not have children. Ever.

"

I want the luxury to design my own life.”

One of my best friends is married with two children and is the happiest she’s ever been. And I’m happy for her. I’m happy to spend time with her and her husband and her little cuties when they come home for a visit. Do I want to cuddle with her baby and play with her toddler? Yes. Do I want to change diapers, be up all night breast feeding, and have my entire life revolve around keeping another human being alive and happy? No.

Nothing I have ever wanted in my life has included having children. Nothing I want to do in my life, my future, would work if I had children. I know there are people out there who seem to balance a great career, a relationship, travel, fun times and their children. But I don’t want it all. I just want the fun stuff. I want to design my own life. My own schedule. My own home. My own plans. I never want to have to consider another person’s needs and wants before my own. If I decide I want to go rent a villa in Tuscany for a month, then I can save up my money and go. I don’t have to bring kids, or arrange to have them taken care of. I don’t have to give up the idea all together because I can’t afford a fabulous holiday and college tuition. The only other person I want to have to consider in that situation is whomever I want to bring with me to make the trip more fun.

Is it selfish? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s ever selfish to put yourself first. You have to in order to survive. Would it be a little selfish to leave your kids at home so you can go lie on a beach for a month? Maybe. It seems to me that no kids means no guilt. If I only have myself to worry about, I’m never disappointing or neglecting anyone.

What bothers me most about the formerly mentioned situation is when someone says “You’re still young. You’ll change your mind.” I find this infuriating and insulting for someone to tell me that I don’t know what I want. I’m not so young. I’m old enough to be planning the rest of my life. A lot of girls my age have already made the decision to have kids. Why am I too young to have made the decision not to?

I know that I still have a lot of growing up to do in a lot of ways. I’m always growing, maturing, changing. While the specific details of what I want to be “when I grow up” are always changing, the main idea has been pretty constant since I was about 12. I never considered kids in my grown-up dreams. I dreamed about my career, my lifestyle, my friends and lovers. I thought about being a filmmaker, being an entrepreneur, being a writer, being a creative businesswoman, being a traveler. Sometimes I think all that would be nice with that one special person by my side, but sometimes I think how boring to be stuck with just one person, I want some freedom and some fun.

Married or single. In Ontario, Vancouver, LA, or Europe. Filmmaker, writer, or business owner. One thing I will never be is a mother.

[FYI: This article was originally posted on my

Tumblr

and later submitted to

Hello Giggles

.]

Tishpersonal, Writing
We Don't Want the Same Things in Life. Can We Still Be Friends?

A while ago, I took the risk of browsing the ‘Everything’ page of Pinterest. I say it’s a risk because it is filled with a lot of things that I love and a lot of things that make me want to throw up a little bit in my mouth. Which is what I said on Facebook, citing wedding photos, bridal shower ideas, proposal photos, weight loss claims, anything featuring a Bible verse, and baby announcements as examples of things I hated to see. My best friend, a Catholic, married, mother of two adorable little munchkins, took great offense to this, feeling that I had essentially said her life makes me sick.

I didn’t want to have a Facebook status comment fight, so instead of typing what I really wanted to say, “Not everything is about you!”, I respectfully explained that, while I am happy that she is happy in her life and I love her husband and babies, that life is not for me and as my best friend of eight years, she knows that.

Now, this has me thinking about adult lifestyle choices. (I’m an adult now- eek!) Now that I (and my friends) are young adults, we have moved on from the ease of high school friendship and are dealing with maintaining (or starting) friendships with people as our personal lives change greatly. High school friendship is easy. You’re all in the same place everyday, you do a lot of the same stuff (because you live in a small town, where this isn’t much to do), and you’re just content to “hang” with your friends. Trying to maintain a friendship when you have different work and school schedules, or you’re doing it long distance is a different story.

So far, I haven’t had too many single and immature vs married and babies conflicts with aforementioned best friend because she lives across the country. I see a lot of baby-centered conversations happening on her Facebook statuses, but I just skim over them as I have no interest in the topic. When she comes to visit I’m happy to spend our few days together just hanging with her, while also watching her son running around being adorable and trying to not-too-obviously avoid looking at any exposed nipples during the breastfeeding process. But I wonder what our friendship would be like if we lived in the same city. Sure, we’d be able to get together more, but would we, really? Would she be able to fit solo-friend (solo- as in no significant other, no offspring) time into a busy mother’s schedule? Would I be able to stand regular visits with screaming toddlers & babies interrupting our conversations? Would she be too busy with her other mom-friends to even remember me? When my friend was pregnant for the first time, I asked her if we would end up like Suze and Becky of the Shopaholic books (Suze has a baby, makes mom friends, and Becky gets left aside. In a nutshell.) and she assured me, no. I fear it has happened, though.

The lifestyle and mindset of a parent is such a huge change. I can’t even fathom the idea of how creating a human being would change your life. It really makes me wonder if it’s even possible for parents to be friends with non-parents. Even if you’re still a “cool”, working parent, your life has this huge part that a non-parent doesn’t have. I just imagine, someday in the future sitting down to a lunch with a small group of friends (Sex and the City style) who are all mothers, except me. What would we talk about? Would I try my best to smile-and-nod my way through parenting stories, or would I create a mom-talk ban on our lunch dates? I’ve heard of mom-shaming (moms judging other moms’ parenting choices), but would there be single-shaming? If Sex and the City has taught me anything (and it’s taught me a lot), it’s that, yes, there would be a lot of judgement of me. It’s all marrieds vs. singles and parents vs. non-parents. I mean, is it possible to say to a mother that I don’t want kids without her taking that as a personal attack on her life choices?

I just wonder if it’s ever possible to say to someone “I don’t want your life.” without them hearing “I don’t like your life.”?

[FYI: This article was originally posted on my Tumblr and later submitted to Hello Giggles.]

Tishpersonal, Writing
The Twelfth Doctor, My First Reveal

Don't let the title fool you; I am not a total NeWhovian

*

. I have seen the entire "new"

Doctor Who

series (more than once). However, I only gave into peer/geek/British pressure to give the show a chance (I thought I didn't like sci-fi! How naive I was!) in 2011, after Matt Smith had finished his first season (aka the Eleventh Doctor aka Season 5). Which means, I knew there were three Doctors to go through when I started. I had the same "I hate this new guy/I love the old guy" feelings at the beginning of each new Doctor, like everyone else does.

*Stole that from

Mandy

. ;)

But this time... This time is different. I've been watching-in-real-time the past two seasons of

Doctor Who

, like the rest of the world. My first new companion reveal happened last year, when the Internet showed me photos of Jenna Louise-Coleman, long before she was to appear in season 7. I found the "cold reveal" was the wrong way to see a new character of a show you love. I had plenty of time to find out about this girl and decide what kind of companion I think she would be just based on her look. But I don't care about Jenna Louise-Coleman. I care about Clara. I care about The Doctor. Imagine if I had known that John Hurt was going to show up at the end of the season 7 finale. Ruined. My

Doctor Who

niverse, ruined. I want to see new characters in the show, where they belong. Let's just all take a moment to imagine how magical it would be to watch Eleven start to regenerate, having

no idea

who he's going to be next! Magical! But instead- They just spoilered the biggest spoiler of all spoilers right in the spoiler.

And now we all know that Matt Smith's Eleven will be turning into Peter Capaldi's Twelve. When I first saw his picture along with the headline, more than just the magic of an unknowing regeneration was ruined for me, because as soon as I saw his face, I saw John Frobisher, and yelled "WHAT?!"

If you know who I'm talking about, then you are a

Torchwood

fan as well. And you know that Peter Capaldi played a major role in season 3 of

Torchwood

. And you also know that

Torchwood

exists in the same world as

Doctor Who

. I mean, how is Captain Jack going to feel when he runs into The Doctor again and sees the face of a man who did horrible things in the face of an international crisis (ending with killing his family and himself)?! (Shh... I know Captain Jack hasn't been on

Doctor Who

since Moffat took over, but we can still dream...) And if that wasn't bad enough (for those of us who watch

Torchwood

), I was reminded that Peter Capaldi was also already on

Doctor Who

! Now, that is just nonsense. Has The Doctor run out of face ideas and is now taking ones from his memory? 

Now this is where the hardcore Whovians point out that companions have had small roles on

Doctor Who

before becoming companions. And I respond; Those were small, negligible roles that were explained. And then they say that Colin Baker was also on

Doctor Who

(and shot The Doctor- how rude!) before becoming the next Doctor. To which I respond; I don't care, I wasn't even alive then. This is the new, better, infinitely more complex and beautiful and intelligent show that shouldn't mess with it's own canon. (Is that the right use of "canon"? I'm not that hardcore.)

Alas, there is nothing to be done about my concerns. He is, whether I like it or not, The Twelfth Doctor. And, frankly, if I wasn't hung up on his previous Whoniverse roles, I would be pretty excited about a new Doctor. And Peter Capaldi. I only know him in serious roles, though. I can picture him as The Doctor in the TARDIS, but I can't picture him being the upbeat, silly, hilarious Doctor that we've come to love through Chris, David, and Matt. But, the bottom line, as is ever with Doctor Who, is that I trust Steven Moffat with the show. He may not have created it, but he created our favorite episodes, villains, and characters before taking over with Matt Smith and Season 5. If Moffat says he's the man for the job, then I will just have to sit back and wait to be amazed...

Baked: Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes


For Mother's Day, I decided to try a new recipe; Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes. A lemon cupcake with some raspberries gently mixed in, topped with a lemon glaze and a fresh raspberry. The lemon taste was very light, so it was just a perfect compliment to the raspberries, my favorite. More importantly, my mom liked them. :)



Tish
Baked: Chocolate Ganache Birthday Cake
As you would expect, I always promise my friends a great birthday cake for their birthday. This year, Kelsey didn't have a specific theme request (last year it was Dexter), so I said I would make something fancy. She chose vanilla chocolate chip for her flavor, so I went with vanilla and chocolate for the decoration as well.

I wanted to try something different with the icing, other than just super smooth, so I tried a subtle stripe technique. I really wanted to try making my own chocolate ganache, and have it dripping down the sides in a very decadent way. Turns out chocolate ganache is as easy as melting some chocolate chips with some soy milk.









I also quickly whipped up some of our favorite Chocolate Crumblies for a last minute birthday dinner & bowling night, adding some sprinkles and a candle to make them birthday cookies.
Tish
Baked: Bake Sale Cupcakes
My friends and I had been planning all Winter to have a yard sale to get rid of all of our junk once Spring arrived. Kelsey had the brilliant idea that I should bake some cupcakes to sell at the yard sale. Well, my friends were a little eager and decided to have to have it at their house the first weekend of April, which happened to be two days after Ottawa got hit by a freak snowstorm. Needless to say, we didn't get much street traffic for our little yard sale. I didn't sell any of my junk, but I did sell one bag of cookies and two cupcakes.

I decided to try something new for the cupcakes. Or at least new variations on tried & true recipes. 

I made Oreo/Cookies & Cream cupcakes by adding Oreo chunks to the chocolate cupcake batter, Oreo crumbs to the vanilla buttercream, and plopping a whole Oreo on top. (Fun fact: Oreos (and Fudgeeos, which I prefer) are vegan!)





I added chocolate chips to vanilla cupcakes for one of my favorite flavors, added some chopped up chocolate chips to the vanilla buttercream (if I had had tiny chocolate chips, I would have used those), and placed a chocolate chip Teddy Graham cookie on top. (Fun Fact: Teddy Grahams are not strictly vegan, as they contain honey, but I happen to be a vegan who is okay with eating honey. Thanks, bees!)




My final cupcake flavor is one of my favorites, that I've only made a handful of times, Margarita. I skip the tequila in the recipe, as I'm not a fan, but I love the colored sugar rim. (Fun Fact: This is the same lime cupcake recipe I used in the Easter Cupcakes video. But not the same icing.)






Tish
Quickie: Swirl Rose



Here's my first "Quickie" video! There are so many icing techniques floating around out there on Pinterest and cake blogs, but not many videos that quickly and easily explain and show how to do them. So, here you go! This is a really easy icing technique, but seeing it done really helps you master it quickly.

To help demonstrate the technique, I put swirl roses covering a whole cake and topping cupcakes, so you can see how you can use this technique yourself. Remember, when you're covering a cake with these roses, you still need to ice your cake first, just enough so that any gaps between roses won't show cake. (Looking at these photos, though, it looks like I forgot to do that!) Someday I may have to create a DIY blog post how to make the adorable bunting for cakes.




Tishvideo
Easter Cupcakes


I'm very excited to have my first Bakestress tutorial video complete! It was quite a learning process making this video. Even after a week of planning the cupcakes step-by-step and how I was going to shoot it, when it came to 'practice day' I found that some of the techniques I was going to try just did not work. I was a little disappointed, but in the end it was for the best as it meant less steps and an easier tutorial, which meant easier to film.

After my 'practice day' of trying out the techniques and making a bunch of cupcakes for the display, it was easier to plan the video shot-by-shot, step-by-step. Shooting in my tiny apartment is always tricky, but I tried my best to make a nice set-up. I included some gum paste flowers that I've made during my time teaching Wilton classes, and some display cake pops that I saved from last Easter, to create a nice Easter/Spring display on the table.

I've already filmed another video (a "Quickie"), that will be out next month and I'm already thinking of plans for the video after that, something a little more advanced. I hope you'll subscribe to my channel to see new videos as soon as they're posted, and follow this blog to see all my baking creations!

The recipes for the delicious lime cupcakes and icing are below the photos. If you have any questions about this project, leave a comment below, on the video, or message me on my Facebook page! Happy Easter!








Margaritaville Cupcakes (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

Ingredients
1/4 cup lime juice
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest
1 cup soy milk
1/4 canola oil
2 tbsp tequila (or more lime juice)
1/2 vanilla extract (clear, if possible)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350*F and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a bowl, mix together lime juice, zest, soy milk, canola oil, tequila, vanilla, and sugar.
3. In another bowl, sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix together.
4. Mix dry ingredients into wet. Mix until batter is smooth.
5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 20-22 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.


Lime Buttercream (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

Ingredients
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup margarine
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (clear, if possible)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp lime zest

Directions
1. Beat shortening and margarine together.
2. Beat in icing sugar in 2 or 3 parts, alternating with the liquids, to avoid a mixer mess.
For stiff icing good for piping with small tips: Mix with beater attachment until smooth.
For fluffy icing good for spreading on a cake: Mix with whisk attachment for 5-7 minutes.
* Omit the lime zest if you are piping with the Wilton #233 (grass tip), because the zest will clog the tiny holes.
*Use gel icing colors (not liquid food coloring!) to color most of your icing green, and a smaller amount brown. You may have to add cocoa powder to the brown icing to get it dark enough.




Tishvideo
The Bakestress' First Video



I'm very excited to finally be making Bakestress videos! This first one is just a fun little teaser trailer. But, just today I filmed my second instructional video! Although filming step-by-step instructions is tricky, I love coming up with new project ideas and techniques I want to teach you! Below are the photos of the cake and cupcakes I made for this first video. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to see when I post new videos!







Tishvideo
Camel Toe Cake
 
Let me just tell you- trying to find reference photos of a camel's foot is not easy because you know what comes up when you search "camel toe" into Google Images...

This cake was ordered from my friend's dad for his girlfriend. Her daughter had the idea for a camel toe cake. An inside joke, I guess. I didn't ask for details. Obviously, the cake doesn't look exactly like a camel's foot, but I had to make it a little taller in order to have enough cake servings.

I think it's safe to say that this is the oddest cake order I've had to make, but it was a fun challenge.
Tish
Movie & TV Inventions I Wish Were Real

The TARDIS from

Doctor Who

Not a

Doctor Who

fan? (How dare you?!) The TARDIS is The Doctor's, for lack of a sufficient term, space ship/time machine. Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. Basically, you can go anywhere, anywhen. And if that wasn't amazing enough, the TARDIS comes with The Doctor. Trust me, there's no one you would rather travel all of space and time with. Also- it's bigger on the inside...

Tru Blood from

True Blood

Tru Blood is the reasons vampires "come out of the coffin". It's a synthetic blood which means vampires no longer have to feed on humans to survive. But, within the show, they never discuss the other uses of the Japanese-invented synthetic blood. Vampires aside, imagine what synthetic blood would mean for the world! That would be the biggest medical discovery in history! No one would ever have to die from blood loss (in a fully stocked hospital, at least). I'm not a medical professional (unless watching seven seasons of

Grey's Anatomy

at least five times is the equivalent to the MCATs or something), but there must be some blood diseases and problems that would be made more manageable, if not curable, with readily available, clean, perfectly suited to you synthetic blood! Come on, Japanese scientists- get on that!

The Wizard (and more) from

Phil of the Future

This Disney show about a 22nd century family stuck in 2003 features all sorts of fun future gadgets that would make our lives easier. The main gadget is their Wizard. A portable gadget they keep with them that can change your appearance, change your voice, create things, disappear things, communicate via 3D hologram, and a million other things. I'm pretty sure it does something new in every episode.

Virtu-Goggles take you on a fully interactive visual, audio, full body experience. Phil and Keely just go to a circa 22nd century mall and then to a tiki bar, but imagine the possibilities!

The Giggle contains every piece of information about every single thing in the whole history of time. It replaced the thing that replaced the thing that replaced the Internet. If you think it's easy wasting a day on the Internet, imagine the time you would spend with this voice activated little screen 5 inches from your face.

Also, Pim has a stick that she just waves over her hair and it goes perfectly straight, food sprayed from a can, a Skyak, hologram alarm clock, a hoop you drop over yourself to instantly change clothes, and, of course, their time machine (if they ever fix it). 

Jumanji Board Game from

Jumanji

If this was a real board game, either no one would know about it because the first people to play it got killed or disappeared, or it would become a reality show. Sure, it's potentially dangerous- but fun!

Tony Stark's Computer from

Iron Man

We can't be too far from this being a reality, right? I mean, imagine trying to explain a touch-screen to someone 50 years ago. Sometimes I look at my iPhone and it still blows my mind because I have no idea how it works. (Especially why some gloves won't work, but some do.) And with technology increasing at an exponential rate, this kind of thing must be only a few years away, right? I think my favorite is when he puts his arm in the computer hologram (is that the correct term? I mean, that applies to Princess Leia's message in Star Wars, so it seems a little out of date.) and, like,

wears

a hologram. Or, when he's looking at an engine hologram (3D screen? Is that what we can call it?) and can just move his arms and it explodes, but in a controlled manner where every little piece is there. 

Also- Jarvis. I want a house/computer/butler/answering service/life coach/calender/assistant/robot to talk to and run my life for me.

TishDoctor Who, In the Movies
Movie Marathon: Wintertime Fun

I think I make this resolution before every Winter here in Ottawa; I will make the most of Winter by doing fun Winter activities like skating, building snowmen, sledding or whatever. It never happens. I was a figure skater when I was younger, but I don't even own skates now. I never seem to want to play in the snow on days that the snow is the right consistency for building. And I have yet to even inquire about such festivities as

Winterlude

. Watching movies about other people having fun in the Winter is much more my style. I think we all know by now that I live vicariously through movies and have no life of my own to speak of.

Snow Day

Every kid's dream, right? No school today, go play in the snow instead. I mean, even as an adult, every day there's a big snow fall, I hope I'll get a call that my shift is cancelled. It happened once. I wish I could say I really made the most of it by getting outside in my snow pants and built an epic snow fort and army of snow zombies, but I probably spent it in my cozy bed. I do, every so often, get the urge to go play in the snow, but being a semi-grown-up living on her own at the opposite end of the city from her friends, I can't just forge a path through the snow drifts to my BFF's house down the street and ask her to come outside and play. This movie also reinforces my fear of snow plows. I mean, really, what if they didn't see you and just buried you in snow? I'm terrified.

Love Story

Okay, I know this movie is sad. I know it doesn't take place entirely in the Winter. But, what I remember most of this movie is the two of them having fun in the snow. Playing football, rolling around kissing, being a cute couple walking together, watching him play hockey, and figuring skating outdoors. I even wrote a

blog post

just about all the fun things Love Story showed me to do in the Winter when you're in love. I truly believe it's actually a love story devoted to Winter. It is because of this movie that I am convinced that some year, I may actually not completely despise a cold & snowy Ottawa Winter, if only I had a special someone to be totally adorable with in the snow. I mean, maybe if it warms my heart, it will warm the rest of me? A Canadian girl can only dream...

New Year's Resolution

My New Year’s Bakestress Resolution is less fondant, more fancy.

I’ve found myself less and less interested in the shaped, colorful, fondant cakes that I used to idolize and more interested in baking that isn’t about looking like something else. Subtle details and dainty decorations. Raw ingredients as decoration and exposed insides.

I think this change comes partly from my own personal style preference changing and also from my experiences making fondant cakes. I can understand better now that I’m not a sculptor. I’m not a cartoonist. I’m not always the best at making cake, icing, and fondant look like a cartoon character or a real life thing. But, I know I’m not completely lacking in skill. I can follow instructions and make a beautiful gum paste flower. I can apply techniques that I’ve learned to make something original. I can see a picture of a cake and recreate it. I can imagine icing techniques, recipes, and decorations in my head and try to make them work in my kitchen.

I’ve made enough plain old cakes for a lifetime. Now, I’m looking forward to trying different cake recipes, new decorating techniques, icing recipes, pies, pastries, cookies, anything new! I want to try new ingredients, altering recipes, concocting original recipes. I want to step up my game and expand my horizons. My sweet, delicious horizons.

2013, I’m going to bake you so good!

[Cake inspiration photos found on my Pinterest]
TishTish
January // A New Frontier
 
January is the beginning, right? Technically, it's the beginning of our calender year, which means people think of it as a good time for beginning new things. Well, I never stick to an resolutions or goals I make for New Year's, but there are a few things I know I can stick with; like watching a good TV show, reading a good book, and always wanting to learn, learn, learn. Why stay the same, when you can change? Why stick with what you know, when you can learn more? One of my favorite topics to learn about is space. And that's a pretty wide topic. I mean, we're talking about the whole universe, here. From the tiniest proton, to a galaxy billions of light years away, there's always something new to discover. As fun as science fiction can be, I've always found science fact much more interesting. This is the month to have fun learning about astronomy, physics, space, technology, the universe, and discovering new territory.



Watch: Defying Gravity
When this show premiered in 2009, it was described as "Grey's Anatomy in space". If you want a good mix of an ensemble cast drama mixed with science fiction, this is for you. Forty years in the future, eight astronauts are embarking on a six-year mission to visit 5 planets around the solar system. The show goes back and forth between current time and 5 years ago, as the candidates were training to be chosen for the mission. Aside from the usual people-living-in-close-quarters-in-space issues, there is a big mystery behind the mission which will keep you hypothesizing and begging for the next episode. The tragic part is- there's only 13 episodes. Like so many good shows, it was cancelled too soon. There are still so many questions unanswered, so much I was looking forward to seeing on the show. If only television shows could be judged on something other than ratings...

Watch: Stargazing Live
This month with be the third year of this three-night, live-broadcast BBC show hosted by everyone's favorite physicist, Brian Cox, and everyone's favorite Irish comedian/TV presenter, Dara O'Briain. I've learned so much from this show the past two years. Even though I can't actually watch it live, it's still just as exciting. Last year they focused on our Sun as the main topic. They had a corespondent live from an observatory in Hawaii with amateur astronomers taking photos of the sun. They also showed footage of Professor Cox in India during a solar eclipse. They cover everything from the "big" questions, discoveries, & science to the fun stuff that you can do at home with your telescope and camera. I can't wait to see what topic they focus on this year and what interesting stuff I'll learn about our solar system, galaxy, and universe.

Watch: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Even if you're not much of a space geek, you may have heard of a little thing called the Hayden Planetarium. It's kind of a big deal. So, who better to learn about space, the universe, and astronomy, than the Director of it? If you've been drawn into all this space stuff by the pretty pictures and fun facts, and you're ready to learn more, then do a YouTube search for Neil deGrasse Tyson, get comfy, and get ready to learn. Specifically, there are some great videos on the Big Think channel, from other great minds as well, talking about the big stuff in a way we common folk can understand. Don't forget to check out some other astro-hotties like Brian Cox, and Carl Sagan in your YouTubing, for even more astro-fun.



Do: Some stargazing, telescoping, & astrophotography
Depending where you live, January may not be the best month to be spending your nights outdoors with a telescope. I know I won't be. So, even if you can't get out there this month, start doing some research, learning techniques and tips for the Summer, when you'll get out there. Watching Stargazing Live will definitely give you some tips for home astronomy and astrophotography, and give you a lot of inspiration and motivation to want to get out there and try! Even without any equipment, you can still have fun just stargazing, learning the constellations (there's an app for that!), you can even try your hand at some photography without a telescope. Maybe just get inspired and next time you're outside at night and the sky is clear, you'll remember to look up and just enjoy the view for a few minutes. Even in the cold.

Read: Deception Point by Dan Brown
Yes, finally, I am recommending a book that cannot be found in the Young Adult section of the book store. And, yes, this is the same Dan Brown that wrote The DaVinci Code. Yes, he wrote some less controversial books. And, yes, they are most definitely good reads. Like his most famous novel, this, too, is an unraveling mystery of a story. It's not exactly science fiction. It does not take place in space and there aren't any aliens- well, maybe. It's a story of finding evidence of life on other planets and the story of trying to prove or disprove it. I can't give it away, it's a mystery! Just get into it and you won't want to get out because there's a twist at every step. 

Check out: NASA Hubble Space Telescope Photos
Alright, now, this is what it's all about. You want to explore space? Well, short of becoming an astronaut (I think it's a little late for me), you can journey through space via images, thanks to NASA and Hubble. My favorites are the nebulae, but you may be captured by the galaxies, stars, black holes, or even our own solar system. Take some time to look through the photos and just enjoy the beauty of the universe.

Tish