Parental Trolling, lvl 50

This is a story of how my parents trolled me…on my birthday, no less!

You may remember that one of my pet peeves is cute holiday imagery of penguins and polar bears living together in harmony, because as a biologist I know that penguins and polar bears do not overlap in the wild.  Penguins live in the south pole (only Galápagos penguins live near the equator), and polar bears live in the Arctic.  Never the twain shall meet.

My mom also makes me a creative birthday cake every year.  She’s done Jane Austen books, a Skellig Michael landscape, and even jungle animals. After I analyzed the species of the jungle animals, I think she assumed I’ll always be blogging about her cakes.

So here’s what I got this year:


Yes, she spent hours making these intricate cupcakes, just for the sake of irritating me by putting polar bears and penguins together.  She has whole books full of cupcake designs, so I imagine that once she saw these two animals she couldn’t resist.

To be fair, they were really cute, and also tasty.

Skellig Michael Birthday Cake

Are you sick of hearing about Skellig Michael on my blog yet?  Yes?  Well, too bad!

My mom made another of her amazing cakes for my birthday.  It was a “traditional” Funfetti cake that she decorated to look like Skellig Michael, where the ending scene of The Force Awakens was filmed and which I visited last summer in a very memorable experience.  

She used some small Bundt molds to make the mounds for Skellig Michael (on the right with the puffins and steps) and Little Skellig (on the left with the seals).

Can’t you just see Rey walking up those steps?


She knew I was going to blog about this, so she made sure to put only ecologically accurate animals on (though the proportions are still a bit off…)

We have:

The puffins were hand-made out of marzipan, so they were tasty as well as adorable.  The cake itself was delicious, though the icing made our mouths turn blue.  

I ate some of Skellig Michael with a puffin.


The lettering says “Breithlá Sona” which is apparently an Irish translation of “Happy Birthday” (at least according to Google 😉 ).  



My mom made another awesome cake, this time for my sister’s birthday.

A chocolate cake with Minions on top!  The Minions are made from iced Twinkies, with licorice, Smarties and Mentos as decoration.  Also banana Runts.


The cake was delicious and the blue icing turned my mouth blue.  Good times all around.

Birthday Jungle

WP_20150118_18_56_47_ProMy mom loves making fun cakes for my birthday (last year she did Jane Austen novels).  This year, she went with an animal theme—always a hit with me, the zoologist.  These cupcakes are from the cute book What’s New Cupcake? and this bunch of flamingos, hippos, and crocodiles look straight out of the African jungle.

Or do they?

Because I love to over-analyze things, let’s take a look at how the cupcakes are made and also what species they might represent.


The flamingos are made from mini-cupcakes.  The wings are candy melts shaped free-hand on wax paper.  The neck is a pretzel stick dipped in candy melts, which helps attach the head, made of a jelly bean, and the beak, made of half a banana Runt.  Black decorator gel makes the eyes and beak tip.

There are six species of flamingos, with habitats ranging all over the world, including Africa.  However, only 2 species have yellow beaks, the closely-related Andean Flamingo and James’s Flamingo, both only found high in the Andes of South America.

Personally, I think these guys look like James’s Flamingos, which have a brighter yellow beak with less black on the tip; if they had legs we could more clearly determine their species based on the color.

These guys are both made on regular cupcakes with Nutter Butters and Froot Loops, plus frosting for decoration.  The hippopotamus (H. amphibius) is a semi-aquatic animal found only in Africa.  This guy looks about as accurate as a cupcake can be, although perhaps a little too brown/orange.  The crocodile on the other hand…

…might not be a crocodile at all.

Take a look at its snout; that’s one of best ways to distinguish crocodilian species.  Crocodile snouts tend to be longer and thinner, and teeth from both upper and lower jaws are visible when the mouth is closed.  Here’s a lovely comparison from Encyclopædia Britannica:

Looking at these images, I think our tasty green friend is actually an alligator, a genus with only two species, neither of which are native to Africa (one U.S., one China).

So in fact, none of these cupcakes live on the same continent.  They did live on my dining room table, but not for long.  They were as delicious as they were pretty.

Spring Centerpieces

My grandmother recently celebrated her 85th birthday!  Family and friends gathered for lunch, looked at old photos, and played Telestrations with secret words relating to my grandma.

It was a pretty low-key affair, but I helped spruce it up by making some table centerpieces.


The components, from the bottom up:

    • Books form the bases
      • Children’s Fables she gave to me and my sister as children
      • A dictionary–she’s a writer
      • River of Grass–she loves nature and has visited most of our National Parks
      • A copy of Heidi Grows Up that was hers as a child
    • Doilies on top of the books
    • Stemless wineglasses, which I already owned, for vases
    • Blue and white decorative rocks for inside the vases
    • Assorted small bunches of spring-like flowers, bought from Jo-Ann Fabric
    • Tags from Creative Memories’ Simply Beautiful collection
    • “Happy Birthday” with Scrabble tile letters, made digitally using CM’s Vintage Chic alpha set in Storybook Creator 4

I was going for form AND function, something that would look pretty but simple, and would also have meaning.  I wanted them to be cheerful and springlike, since we are still having snow here in Ohio.  I wanted them to not be obstructing any views around the table.  And most importantly, I wanted them to have special meaning for my grandmother, which is why I tied in all the books and the Scrabble tiles (she loves word games).

I used a lot of supplies I already had, and the things I did buy at JoAnn were 1) under $20 total and 2) able to be re-purposed for my own crafts or decorating.

The party was great fun and it was nice to be able to put my crafting skills to good use!