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.

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.

Farewell cupcakes

I worked in the university Admissions office during my undergrad, and my boss always complained about what she called “awkward cake parties.”  When an employee left, there was a get-together for the office where they served a sheet cake and everyone stood around and pretended like they liked each other and cared about what the person leaving was going on to do.  Turnover in Admissions is quite high; there were a lot of awkward cake parties.

Friday was the last day at work for a coworker of mine, a dear friend I have worked closely with for almost 5 years.  It was pretty bittersweet, because while I’m happy she’s moving on with her career, I will miss working with her.  Also, I don’t deal well with change.

Luckily, we did NOT have an awkward cake party.  But I did bring in cupcakes, made using a fun trick this coworker taught me.

Not everyone has as big a  sweet tooth as I do; sometimes it’s nice to add a little savory to balance out the sweet.  These are just a basic box mix French vanilla flavor, but I added a couple of tablespoons of powdered vanilla chai mix to give it a little kick.  Adding chai, or other spices, to chocolate mixes also works really well.

The cut strawberries on top are a quick way to give a little color and make it look more “finished.”


Star Wars Day

May the Fourth be with you!  Happy Star Wars Day!!

If you’re in the mood to celebrate, here’s some clever cupcakes to inspire you:

A friend of my husband’s brought these to a gaming session a year or so ago and I thought they were delightful…and tasty.  Unfortunately I can’t give credit where it’s due, because I don’t know if he made them or if a friend of his did and he just brought some to share.  Either way, props to the baker!

I will be celebrating by hanging out with my Jedi Master cat (his name is Jolee Bindo) and leveling up my Consular on this TOR Double XP weekend.