Birthday Shannagins

I just finished a book called Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell. It is about this girl named Cath, who coincidentally is a lot like me. She is entering her first year in college, along with her twin sister, Wren. Both girls are completely obsessed with a series of books that revolve around this fictional character, Simon Snow. {ie. Harry Potter in my case.}  She is so enthralled with the books, that she writes fan-fiction to keep the characters alive in their magical world of Mage and has thousands of followers waiting with baited breath for the next chapter to be released . She is otherwise known as, a complete genius and obvious introvert. {See? Just like me.} She stays up all night reading and writing in her baggy sweatpants and hair in a bun, while her twin, the more confident one, goes out to frat parties and lives the typical college life.

After I finished the book, it got me thinking. Could I write Harry Potter fan-fiction? I know it exists. I know of several forums that authors use just for the sake of Potter fan-fiction. And I have read the books so many times, that I feel like I was a part of their life, just as much as they were a part of mine. And for that matter, could I create a world like J.K. Rowling did? On paper napkins? Or even Post-its? My mom definitely thinks I can.


For now, I am satisfied with writing about my Potter themed birthday.

Potter birthday

I just so happened to design and construct my own cake this year. My usual request is a double stuff, extra-large cookie cake from the American Cookie Co. I know. I get it. I’ve heard it a million times. There are a ton of bakeries and patisseries around my area and I choose a lame, commercially manufactured cookie cake. But moooooomm, it tastes like my childhood. Anyway, with the Potterhead theme underway, I thought it only fitting that I make my own cake.

Potter birthdayI’ll admit, I got a little carried away. The more I thought about it, the more extravagant things got. I wanted to do my first ever 3-layer cake. Then I wanted to construct my first ever fondant owl. Then the fondant had to have a cobblestone affect. Finally, I had to have a banner. Because duh. Who doesn’t love a banner on their cake? So I made my favorite vanilla spice cake with whipped Nutella frosting and then wrapped my layers in homemade marshmallow fondant. I dyed it grey and made a cobblestone imprint with a fondant stamp I had. Then I brushed the cobblestone with confectioner sugar so that they would stand out a bit. {However, I soon discovered that the sugar melts into the fondant a whole lot faster than I expected.} Finally, I piped the extra Nutella frosting I had around my layers. I constructed my fondant owl using a bunch of videos I found on YouTube, along with my collection of fondant tools and cut outs. :)

Potter birthday

Each layer was a different house color for Gryffindor. The bottom layer was yellow and the top layers were red. Unfortunately, these were the only photos I had of the cake because we devoured it not long after they were taken.

In addition to the cake, all of us went out to do a little Potter painting.

Potter birthday

The amazing staff at Painting With a Twist happily created this one-of-a-king, never before introduced, Harry Potter inspired painting just for me. If you look carefully, you will notice Hogwarts at the top of the mountain, the Whomping Willow to the left, and a few of us even put in a Hedwig. Because Hedwig never really goes away, does he?

I call it…99 Problems but a Snitch Ain’t One.

Potter birthdayThe boys got a little carried away with the paint…

No one told them it had to stay on the canvas.

Potter birthdayI think pink works for him…

Potter birthdayI adore my friends and family. They made my birthday oh, so, special…here are just a few.

Potter birthdayFellow girly geek and con participant.

Potter birthdayMy pretty Momma…

Potter birthdayA big thank you to everyone who made it out. It was one of my best 29th birthdays so far!

Butter Beer Pound Cake

Living in a small town has its ups and downs.

For example, I can go anywhere in town and it is almost certain that I will run into someone I know. We might grab a coffee or just catch up for a few minutes, but it’s nice to see a familiar face when I am out and about. That’s also a bad example because if you are au natural and in your sweats, then you are almost guaranteeing that you are going to run into someone you know. It has totally happened. On several occasions.

Another example is the festivals. We almost always have some sorta block party or festival going on. I love all the one-of-a-kind crafts, food vendors, and the classic rock bands you find at a small town festival. And they come up with all sortsa reasons to get together. It could be an art walk or a fall festival or even a party to celebrate the woolly worm. That’s happened too.

One of the worst things about living in a small town is that when you are a baker/girly geek/collector of all things nerdy, it is hard to find what you are looking for. A few weeks ago, I thought I would get a heads start on my Halloween baking. I wanted to buy a 4-pack of Butter Beer at my local grocery store. Before I even step foot in the store, I looked it up to make sure they would/could carry it. It is a bit of a hike to get to a good grocery store, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t go for nothing. I did. Go for nothing. They didn’t have it nor could they order it.

So I went home, did a bit more research, thought about ordering it online for a gazillion dollars, and then headed to my small town specialty grocer. As it turns out, they didn’t have it either, but they could order it. So I ordered two 4-packs…or so I thought. When they called me a few weeks later, they said my two cases were ready. Cases. As in six 4-packs in each case. A total of 48 bottles of Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. As in more Butter Beer than the Hubs and I put together could drink in a month.

With all that Butter Beer, I thought about throwing a HP party. And I still just may, but for now I made you pound cake…with Butter Beer.

Butter beer pound cakeThis pound cake reminds me of all the Sprite and 7-Up pound cake recipes that are out there. I have never made one with soda before, so I just took my ole trusty pound cake recipe and altered it a bit. You know. With Butter Beer. Because I have so many.

Butter Beer Pound Cake

I even put some in my icing. Although it could totally stand alone.

Butter Beer Pound Cake

Butter Beer Pound Cake


    Butter Beer Pound Cake:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon imitation butter flavoring
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • Butter Beer Icing:
  • 2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 2-2 1/2 tablespoonsFlying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer
  • 4 teaspoons heavy cream


    Butter Beer Pound Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray desired pan with flour baking spray.
  2. In your stand mixer bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add sugar and mix well; scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing again.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time until combined.
  5. Add milk, vanilla, imitation butter flavoring, and butter beer.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Slowly add your flour mixture to your wet ingredients until blended.
  8. Spoon into greased pan; level with a spatula to smooth out the top.
  9. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.
  10. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing your pan.
  11. Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  12. Butter Beer Icing:
  13. Combine confectioner sugar, butter beer, and heavy cream in your stand mixer bowl until desired consistency.
  14. Spoon over pound cake and smooth over top.
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Butter Beer Pound Cake

Disney, Hogwarts, and Butterscotch Pie

If you have been following me on Facebook or reading my latest posts or haven’t been living under a rock, you already know that the Hubster and I took our vacation to Florida last week.  This was in part to celebrate my birthday, but it was also to visit family and Orlando.

The Hubs and I are total Potterhead-Dizgeeks, so we spent part of our week at Disney’s Epcot and Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the other part hanging with the fam.

We decided to hit up Epcot first…


In all my years growing up in the bay area, I had never been to Epcot. I know. Total blasphemy.

Family fun

 My brother was able to take off work and join us, so yeah. awesome.

wine tasting

We spent the day going from country to country sampling all the food fare and drinks the world had to offer.

Wine tasting

 Here we were in Germany at a wine tasting. The Hubster is not a big wine drinker, so he got himself a German lager.

Romeo and EdnaWhile walking through Great Britain, we stopped to take in a sidewalk show…the infamous, Romeo and Edna.

It was cheesy and corny and I loved every minute of it. This guy was especially funny.


I totally took advantage of this photo-op in Morocco. I channeled my inner Captain Jack Sparrow for the shot.

The next day we visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter…

I have read the books a zillion times. Watched the movies a kagillion times. And I have A TON of Harry Potter paraphernalia…über Potterhead right here, ladies and gentleman.

I had already been to the WWOHP once before, but this was the Hubs first time.


We literally spent most of the day inside Hogsmeade drinking Butterbeer, eating lunch at the Three Broomsticks, and riding with Harry, Ron, and Hermione inside Hogwarts.

ButterbeerI love a good Butterbeer mustache…

clock tower

 I was able to get some really great shots like this one. Every hour, this owl would come out of his tower.


As we were leaving, I was able to get my picture taken with the conductor of the Hogwarts Express.


As we walked through, I made sure to take certain shots of the rooftops. This was one of my favorites.


I loved the golden snitch above this shop.

And it just so happened that we were in town for Father’s Day last week.

So my Mom and I decided to make my Father’s favorite pie. Butterscotch pie.

This pie is not for the faint of heart…In fact, it is a two person job. It was my great-grandmother’s recipe and my grandmother used to make it for my father when he was little.

So yeah. It is around 200 years old.

Daddy's Butterscotch Pie

This pie will make you work for it, but it is ohhhh so worth it.

Butterscotch Pie

You want your brown sugar mix to boil, but make sure you are stirring constantly to prevent burning.

Butterscotch Pie

Before you put your milk on the double boiler, combine your sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a small bowl.

That way it is ready for when you need it.

Butterscotch Pie

After you have combined the milk mixture with your butterscotch, pour into your baked pie shell and top with meringue.

Butterscotch Pie


  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 baked pie shell (9 ")
  • meringue


  1. Bake your pie shell accordingly. It can be store bought or homemade. I prefer homemade and used my Mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook to make mine.
  2. In a nonstick medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, water, and corn syrup. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly for about 10-12 minutes or until a small amount forms a hard ball in cold water. *Tip provided by Mom.
  3. At the same time, scald your milk in the top of a double boiler. I let my water boil first and then added my milk. When it started to steam (about 10 minutes) I added my white sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. I made sure I had my dry ingredients premixed before I started my cooking my milk. That way it was easily accessible to pour into the milk.
  4. After you add your dry ingredients to your milk, you want to use a hand mixer to beat your ingredients, making sure to scrape the sides of your double boiler. It should be thick and smooth.
  5. Add the butterscotch mixture and stir until smooth.
  6. Temper your egg yolks with a small amount of your butterscotch mixture.
  7. Add the tempered eggs to your butterscotch and beat with a mixer to combine.
  8. Cool and pour into baked pie shell and add meringue.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until your meringue is set.
  10. Let cool to room temperature and then place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours to set.
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