Dear readers,

Picking up from the last International Women’s Day-inspired post, The Ladies of Austen, I’d like to bring your attention to witches.

Yes, witches.  You’ve probably heard of them before: devious tricksters, sometimes green and warty, may attempt to eat children, steal your slippers, turn you into a newt…you get the picture.  Is it possible they’ve just gotten a bad rap over the years?  Sure.  But historically speaking they were guilty of the worst sort of crime – having their own ideas.  Eugh, disgusting!

The Witches of Potter

Now J.K. Rowling, she might just be the queen of witchcraft.  In the span of the Harry Potter series she’s managed to charm a variety of wickedly strong witches into the mainstream consciousness of pop culture.  Witches who not only think for themselves, but have the wits, power, and willful natures to pursue their own paths and stand up for what they believe in.  Honestly, the nerve.

Female Characters of Harry Potter - How to accurately depict women in fiction

Let’s start with the worst of the lot: Hermione Granger. Only named one of the most powerful female characters in literature, Hermione Granger is made of sterner stuff.  Since first reading the books as a kid she’s become a favorite character of mine, easily relatable and only partly because of similar hair frustrations.  This heroine’s rationality and kindness are two traits which stand out the most to me, nor are they generally paired together so strongly in one character.

She’s the female of the trio and the most logical, right off the bat a role reversal of traditional group gender dynamics.  Hermione is extremely smart, talented, and arguably the most powerful of the three, but she never lords that over others.  Instead, she cares about their success and is honestly unable to comprehend her classmates’ lack of desire for studying and homework-chart-building.

And this is where her true strength lies, in her willingness to and quickness in helping others.  Whether it’s Neville in potions class, keeping Lupin’s secret, house elf equality, supporting Harry, being Hagrid’s lawyer, and so on and so forth, Hermione is never selfish in offering her time and her talents.

Oh, and if you think her character is a little bossy – fine.  However she’s probably going to save your life, so you may want to reconsider if that’s so bad.  Me?  I’ll take a little bossy.

Harry Potter fanart - Ceretified Badass: Hermione Granger by elfabella on DeviantART

(I assure you these certifications aren’t just handed out, or made in photoshop all willy-nilly.)

Next up?  Luna Lovegood – another equally amazing female character. Incredibly honest, Luna’s view of the world around her is refreshing and often thought-provoking (also used to wonderful comic effect in the books; see quidditch commentator stint).

I love how open minded, perceptive, and unabashedly true to herself she is. Her ability to make connections that other miss, seeing the possibilities in the world around her, is a trait which probably puts her up there as the most brilliant character in the book – along the same vein as Dumbledore.  In a way, Hermione and Luna explore opposing sides of the same coin (intelligence) with one representing logic and rules, the other, creative ingenuity.

Luna’s status as something of an outsider makes her capable of great empathy, despite the lack of which she often receives because of she’s perceived as ‘different’.  Anyone who’s felt on the outside looking in is able to identify with her, and Rowling gave us an unassumingly fearless character to look up to.  Of course, we see her through Harry’s eyes and their relationship mimics how we come to identify with this character; it takes you by surprise but upon reflection makes perfect sense.  And while not featured greatly, I find their dynamic to be one of the most interesting in the series because while she’s see by many as ‘Loony Lovegood‘, she always seemed to be a positive source of sanity and stability to Harry.

Harry Potter Luna Lovegood fanart - Friends by AdeL7e, Luna's room

Gentle and strong.  Don’t ever change Luna.  Truly.  (Also, this.)

Then there’s Ginny Weasley, who rounds out the trio of the younger female protagonists.  Regardless of how you feel about her in regards to her pairing with Harry, let’s all agree that she’s a great character on her own.  When we first meet her she’s shy, quiet, and awkward (three adjectives I have been all too familiar with), but she really comes into her own by the fifth book, becoming one of the bravest characters in the series.

Ginny fulfills the athlete, go-getter role, but combined with those initial traits we saw, she does so without being bland and stereotyped.  Plus, she’s got this distinct streak of impishness, spunk, and fun sense of humor – essentially, she’s cool.  In some ways she’s a regular Fred and George, similarly adept at lightening the mood of a situation, and like every Weasley, a loyal friend to those in need.

And to speculate a little, looking back, Ginny’s first year pretty much sucked.  Imagine how withdrawn she must have felt.  Being used by the darkest wizard of our time for nefarious purposes?  It takes a bit of a toll.  Yet the next time we really see more of her, she’s prancing around with Fred and George chanting ‘he got off’ to celebrate Harry’s not getting kicked out of Hogwarts (…again).

What changed during that time?  [Headcanon alert!]  Maybe Fred and George felt awful about not being there for their little sis that first year, maybe they do everything they can during that summer to get her back to being vibrant and lively.  Maybe the only two people beside Harry that she ever confesses everything to about that year are the twins, and maybe the three pretty much became inseparable at home after that.  Wherever Ginny’s strength and confidence came from, maybe no small amount of it was found in that familial bond, playing into her ‘just one of the guys’ type personality.  I’m just saying.  Maybe.

Harry Potter Fanart, Ginny Weasley & Harry - Quidditch Practice by taratjah on DeviantArt

“Yeah, size is no guarantee of power,” said George. “Look at Ginny.”
“What d’ you mean?” said Harry.
“You’ve never been on the receiving end of one of her Bat-Bogey Hexes, have you?”

Ok, how about the elder witches, because there are some pretty kickass adults in the series as well.  Case in point?  Minerva McGonagall.

This character is not only named after the Roman-based Greek mythological figure for wisdom and war, but she is undoubtedly one of the most respected figures in the book.  Despite a strict, no-nonsense demeanor, McGonagall’s got a competitive spirit and snarky sense of humor to match, which just add to her general awesomeness.  She’s one of the few known animagi in the books (a cat, no less), head of Gryffindor House, and Dumbledore’s right-hand woman to boot.  Of course, there was also that time she charged into battle against Death Eaters with a herd of galloping desks.

McGonagall, Snape, Dumbledore fanart - HP Hogwarts Headmasters by S-Sei on DeviantArt

Pure awesome.  And yet, I think my favorite McGonagall moment is when she comes to the defense and aid of Professor Trelawney (someone we know she has a little patience for) as the seer is being thrown out of the school by Umbridge.  That was a wonderful character defining moment.

Now Mrs. Weasley is primarily a traditional mother figure, but you can’t let that fool you.  One of her great ‘not-just-what-she-seems’ moments comes at the very end of the series when Mrs. Weasley duels Bellatrix.  After reading it for the first time, I had argued (complained) in discussion with my mom that perhaps Neville should have fought that battle, in doing so avenging his parents.  But then she had countered with a point that has since stuck, slowly but surely changing my opinion entirely:

In fighting that battle, Rowling lets us see Molly Weasley as the overly-doting mother hen/woman who reads the gossip columns as well as an extremely powerful witch in her own right.  And not that being motherly doesn’t come with it’s own set of strengths (the woman kept a family of seven children in line, after all), but we’re reminded that she is as much a member of the Order as Sirius or McGonagall.  So, to my own wise mom, I now gladly concede – it was absolutely a brilliant choice to make Mrs. Weasley defeater of Bellatrix.

Molly Weasley is not to be crossed.  Don’t even contemplate it.  In fact, don’t even contemplate crossing her children.

I could go on, because clearly I have too many Harry Potter feels, but I’ll just say that the women with smaller roles in the story seem just as awesome and interesting as the leading ladies from the glimpses we get of them.  Tonks, Fleur, Lily Potter, Madame Pomfrey, Angelina Johnson…hell, even Neville’s grandmother jumps into the fray in the final battle! And the villainesses!  If we’re talking baddie equality, Bellatrix and Umbridge are as unsettling and unpleasant as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself (to put it mildly).

Over the course of a seven book series with a male lead, JKR gave us some admirable additions for the incredible-female-characters list.  And you know what the best part is?  The fact that it’s not even a big deal in the world she’s created.

Nobody bats an eyelash at Hermione’s capabilities because she’s a girl.  Harry himself basically shrugs and states, ‘Oh yeah, we would’ve screwed up loads more if Hermione hadn’t been there.’  Order members, Ministry workers, professors, Death Eaters, quidditch teams – these groups could each care less whether you were a male or female.  Yes, there is injustice and inequality in Harry’s world, to be sure, but prejudice based solely on gender isn’t among them.

All right, where can I sign up to pledge my allegiance to Ms. Rowling?  Anyone want to join me?  Thanks for reading, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

Posted by: brookenado | March 30, 2015

Celebrating Female Characters: The Ladies of Austen

Dear readers,

Because no celebratory female character list would be complete without Elizabeth Bennet, we’re diving into the world of Jane Austen for this post.  Let me say straight off the bat that I haven’t read all of her works yet (yet), but I have enjoyed the three I’ve had the pleasure to read so far: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.  If you missed out on the first post of this series inspired by International Women’s Day, check out The Women of Avatar!  Otherwise, without further ado…

The Ladies of Austen

Yes, like many Austenites Elizabeth Bennet would have to be my favorite of the Austen heroines I’m familiar with so far.  She’s smart and witty to boot, honest, fiercely loyal to those she loves, and speaks her mind.  But seriously, that girl does not mince her words.  (See any proposal rejection for strongly worded evidence.)

Of course, she also managed to snag Mr. Darcy’s heart without even trying…so there’s also that.

I happened to stumble upon a BBC World Book Club podcast recording about Pride and Prejudice a couple of weeks ago (which, if you’re a fan, you will definitely find interesting and entertaining), and one thing that stood out to me was a brilliant clip from an interview with Irish author Colm Tóibín on how the book works and depends upon the heroine’s intelligence.  To paraphrase:

‘It’s when she’s alone that the real work is done in the book…It’s her solitude, and the quality of her solitude, that matter most in the book and gives her a sort of moral seriousness in the book.’

Austen often details Elizabeth’s thoughts for the reader, which gives us superb insight into her intelligence and true self.  And from that, we fall in love with her character much the same way Mr. Darcy comes to fall in love with her.

So, yeah, points for Ms. Austen for blessing us with female characters with strength of mind. Another thing I admire about her novels and ability to tell a story is that there are so many quirks to each character, and even if they’re not constantly in the action we get a good sense of who they are.  Take Jane Bennet, for example!  She’s described as the prettiest of the daughters straight away, but we also come to learn that although she may not have Elizabeth’s quick wit, she is the kinder and probably wiser of the two.

BBC Pride and Prejudice Bennet sisters gif

Or look at Charlotte, Lizzie’s best friend who holds totally different views on marriage, love, and the practicalities of life, but who we know wouldn’t be Elizabeth’s friend if she weren’t strong and intelligent in her own way.  We come to see that she’s calculating and clever enough to manipulate a less than ideal situation (yes we’re looking at you, Mr. Collins) to suit her as much as possible.  Boom, more points to Austen for giving us female characters who find strength in differences between them and form powerful relationships because of that.

That’s certainly a driving point of Sense and Sensibility with sisters Elinor and Marianne.  Who doesn’t appreciate understanding the values and downsides of two different personalities and approaches to life?  No one who has ever shared a living space with another person who wasn’t a clone of themselves, surely.

When reading Sense and Sensibility, it’s likely that you come to identify more with one sister over the other, as in, ‘Why yes, Elinor is one tough lady for keeping her and everyone else’s lives together.  Her sense is admirable because who in their right mind wears their heart on their sleeve?’  Not you.

You know exactly how to protect yourself – kill them with kindness, or at least polite indifference, and if or when some people (Lucy Steele) happen to end up with an idiot for a husband in the end?  Well, who looks the more foolish?  No, Elinor knows a thing or two about dignity and holding her own.

Side bar: Can we just admire this quote for a moment?  “Elinor agreed with it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.”  I can just imagine the inner dialogue…

Mary Poppins sarcastic clap gif

‘Well done. If your intention here was to secure your place on the ‘vain, ignorant fool’ list, you succeeded marvelously.’

**Austenian burn may leave lingering stinging and unpleasant sensations. Apply knowledge, learning, and humility in generous amounts for best relief. (End sidebar)

Or perhaps you’d argue, ‘Quite the contrary, Marianne’s abandon for society’s ill-conceived constructs is both brave and charming.  She doesn’t give the time of day to people who don’t deserve it – who the flim flam jam has time for that?’  But honestly, who has the time or patience to put up with useless pretense when you could be out there being yourself and loving everything about life?  You know for a fact that’s just crazy.

Hipster Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility

Don’t argue with hipster Marianne.

But as you read you recognize that, sure, Marianne’s enthusiasm while passionate and endearing at times can also be unwise, overly dramatic, and immature (not everyone has your passion for dead leaves, Marianne), and maybe Elinor’s constant composure isn’t always appreciated or easy for the people who truly care about her to navigate (you couldn’t drop in one tiny mention about the whole Edward situation, Elinor?).

However both characters prove that sense and sensibility co-exist, that one is not better than the other because everybody is a mixture of both.  Elinor feels just as deeply as Marianne (sorry, hipster Marianne), and Marianne learns how to exercise more judgement.  Despite any greater affinity toward sense or sensibility, we can relate to both of these great characters.

Then there’s Emma.  Witty, presumptuous, and independent, in some ways Emma is a bit of an alternate version of Elizabeth, a sort of ‘Lizzie Bennet had Lizzie Bennet been wealthy, a different, much smaller family, and been really rather bored’.  Such a distinction in wealth actually does set Emma’s character farther apart than any of the other three, in the sense that she doesn’t have to worry about the same things – namely, securing a beneficial marriage.

Jane Austen Emma Print - Best Treatment - Jane Austen Quote - Literary Art - Teachers Gift - Bookish - Literature - Book Lovers - Quote

Partly because of this, we’re presented with a character less immediately relatable and likable, perhaps, but not dislikable either.  With Emma we have a perfect opportunity to analyze a character and see the good and not so good tendencies in ourselves and otheres.  Why?  Simple – she’s real.

Haven’t we all secretly played matchmaker before, even if only in our own minds (and sometimes with fictional characters)?  Haven’t we all assumed one thing only to learn it was an embarrassing misinterpretation?  Have you never thought yourself cleverer than somebody else?  Nobody’s perfect, we all have flaws that in some ways define us but don’t overshadow our best qualities.  But Emma grows as a character from her misgivings and drama so that by the end of the novel, Emma, like Elizabeth, gives us a character we can relate with on a journey of self-discovery (with quite a few laughs along the way).  She’s a brilliant character.

Really, what it all boils down to is that Jane Austen was a master at writing realistic characters that appeal to our desire for self-actualization, and continue to be real no matter the time period.  She gives us characters that defy tradition and find their own ways to succeed in a world where they have very little power and influence over their situations.  They’re smart, funny, compassionate individuals, and each heroine has a definite sense of self.  So truly, thank you for the strong female characters we can easily relate to, Ms. Austen, I have little doubt that they will continue to be loved for years to come!

Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy Colin Firth, be cool

You also gave us Mr. Darcy and for that we are eternally gratefully.

More awesome female character appreciation is on the way, but in the meantime I’d love to hear who your favorite Austen heroines are!  Feel free to jump in with the comments below.  And as always, thanks for reading, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

Posted by: brookenado | March 13, 2015

Celebrating Female Characters: The Women of Avatar

Dear readers,

You may have heard that International Women’s Day was last week, and that got me thinking about the awesome female characters I’ve admired over the years.  In turn, this got me thinking about entire series that feature many awesome women.  Obviously, the natural next step was to be inspired to do a blog post!  I jotted down some ideas here and there during breaks at work, then sat down at home to write a bit more, then went back and wrote some more…

It quickly become apparent that there doing this in a single post was simply not an option.  Instead, I bring you the first installment in a celebratory mini-series of ‘series with exceptional ladies':

The Women of Avatar

**Caution: May contain spoilers

All of the ladies in Avatar are pretty stinking awesome. Seriously, all of them. Heroes and villains alike are fully fleshed out, complex women. The shows creator’s Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and their team have done such a wonderful job with this series, not only tackling mature, and sometimes delicate issues, but also bringing very dynamic relationships to life with very believable and diverse characters. One thing I feel is often misrepresented in shows today are the relationships between female characters, but here, too, they got so much right.

Women of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra

Let’s start with Avatar: The Last Airbender, where it all began (when everything changed, after the Fire Nation attacked)…

In the original series, Toph and Katara are the female leads and they can bring out the extremes of each other’s personalities due to their differences. Yet despite that those differences, the focus was more often on how they respected each other because of them – Toph with her disregard for the rules and strong sense of independence, and Katara with her compassion and sense of responsibility.

Toph and Katara - Tales of Ba Sing Se gif

How Beifongs show affection

They did an amazing job with the more minor female characters and the villainesses as well. Mai and Ty Lee may seem one dimensional at first, but with small bits of dialogue and back story are given such great personalities and roles as non-gimmicky, by no means flat comic relief. And Azula is…terrifying. And that’s hard to do while making a character believable, but they did it. Ruthless and strategically-minded to the extreme (and she knows it), we also see glimpses into the cracks beneath the surface and, incredibly, have moments when we can actually feel very sorry for her.

Then there’s the follow-up series, The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra, which recently ended and was just as brilliant as the original. Korra is the lead as the new Avatar, and in word (or three), she kicks ass. What made her an even better character, however, were the moments when she seemed lost. The fact that she could be a strong character while also at risk of succumbing to a break down every now and then made her a very real and relatable character. Hey, maintaining the balance of a chaotic and always changing world is a tough job!

Korra Fanart -- Legend of Korra

And actually, admittedly, as someone who struggles on and off with depression I really appreciated seeing a female character deal with similar issues.  Despite the moments of frustration and seeming hopelessness, she was always able to overcome her fears and find her own way to resolve things; a hopeful motif around a topic that isn’t easily discussed.  Just another reason why storytelling and having characters like Korra is so important.

I love how they dealt with Korra’s relationship with the other female that rounds out the new ‘Team Avatar’ as well – another badass but somewhat more feminine character, Asami. Again, they could have taken the easy route and created a negative, rivalry-type relationship with a love triangle, but almost right from the start they refused to let that be the case.

They took it in a much more positive direction, with Asami becoming Korra’s best friend (and even potential love interest as the series progressed) instead, using them to explore the strong bonds that exist between women. The ending truly cements that theme, and whether you read their relationship as romantic or not, the final scene was beautiful, ending the series on another bold and brave note.

Korra & Asami - Avatar Legend of Korra finale

And I’d be terribly remiss not to at least mention both Toph and Katara’s descendants. The Beifong women still completely rock (pun both intended and true), and Katara’s daughter and two granddaughters are just as awesome. They are their own characters with distinctive quirks and aspirations, not defined just by their tie to the original women of Avatar.

Then there are characters like Zhu Li (do the thing!), who’s great because at first glance, we don’t give her too much thought. But as her character is revealed more and expanded beyond the view of just ‘assistant’, we learn that she’s brilliant, loyal, believes in progress, and yes, she’s in love, but she can clearly take care of her self. And there’s Eska, of course, who stands up her power hungry (crazy) father in order to protect her brother, and later, Team Avatar.  I sorely wish we could have seen more of her in later seasons!

Like the original, the female antagonists in The Legend of Korra are wonderfully nuanced characters who bring about discussions of complicated themes. While you may not always like them or their methods, the series certainly plays around with larger questions and moral grey areas.

Kuvira - The Legend of Korra Book 4 antagonist

Kuvira, the ‘Great Uniter’

At times you have to admit a grudging respect for their abilities and determination in their visions knowing that at some earlier point, those beliefs weren’t inherently bad, but had become twisted and extreme. Kuvira acts as the dominant female antagonist, and she doesn’t play second fiddle to the male antagonists.  Her role adds just as much to the overarching themes of the show and Korra’s development.

The verdict? I haven’t been able to mention all of the fabulous characters across both shows, but rest assured that they do, in fact, all kick ass – all for different reasons.

All I can say is that if you’re looking for a series with a strong cast of female characters and diverse role models, look no further than Avatar: The Last Airbender and the The Legend of Korra. Ladies, men, kids, adults…the overall series has something for everyone, and in my opinion, it’s some of the best t.v. to have been created in past decade (and features some beautiful animation to boot!).

Thanks for reading, cheers!  Another installment celebrating amazing fictional females should be headed your way soon, and if you’ve got some favorite characters or series featuring interesting women, by all means please share – the more the merrier!  Until then…

Mischief managed

 Bonus:Legend of Korra, 'Did they send me daughters?'

Posted by: brookenado | February 18, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Much Ado About Shipping

Dear readers,

Another delayed Fandom Friday post, I’m afraid (someday I’ll actually post one on a Friday)!  I had no intention to write anything relating to Valentine’s Day for my next post, but then I couldn’t pass up on such a perfect prompt thought up by The Nerdy Girlie & Super Space Chick.

5 Fandom Friday

First things first.  What is ‘shipping’, you may ask?  Class is in session, attend…

Fandom 101: Lesson 1, Shipping

Fandom Sanity vs. Shipping

Ship(n): Slang term stemming from the word ‘relationship’.  In fandom, the term most often refers to a romantic relationship (or, pairing), between characters, but not always.  Ex: This ship is my current otp (one true pairing).

Can also be used as a verb as in, ‘I will always ship Sherlock & Molly.’  A ship is often denoted by placing a “/” or “x” between two character’s names, or by use of a portmanteau.  A shipper, then, is a supporter of a particular ship.

Now some of you may be thinking, ‘Hang on, people actually devote time and energy into the relationships of imaginary characters?‘  Well, YES.  Here’s the thing, you can’t just turn ‘shipping’ on and off; it simply happens, and then it inspires, entertains, or overwhelms you with feels.

Now, how’s your ship doing?

or

Are there rules to shipping?

There is really only one rule to shipping in fandom: respect. A respectful fandom is a happy fandom, people, and although what one fan ships may not (wait for it) float your boat, everyone has as much right as anyone else to ship their ship.  So long as no one’s hating on ships, instigating ship wars, ruining others enjoyment of the show/book/movie/game/fandom, then (one more time) welcome aboard!

Any questions?

Then let’s get right down to it; my five favorite fandom ships (or more like five of my favorite ships).  I’ve discovered that I’m either drawn to a more sorrowful type of pairing – the unrequited/sacrifice myself for you kind of tragic -, or the ‘either I’m gonna kill her or I’m beginning to like her’ stubborn bickering ship.  But, you know, both is good.

1. Han/Leia

“You could use a good kiss!”

Kisses: Han and Leia Star Wars fanart by ArtemisiaSynchroma on DeviantArt

This is where it all began for me, my very first fandom ship.  I was about 13, sitting in the dark in my parents room as I watched Empire for the first time, and probably literally holding my breath as Han and Leia kissed on the Millennium Falcon when I first fell down the rabbit hole that is your first invested ship.  I plunged fully into the universe of Star Wars after that ESB viewing.  One thing led to another and here I am today, a full-fledged geekling – and just look at all the ships I’ve collected now!

They also kind of set up a comparison for romances in my mind as well, like ‘on a scale of 1 to Han & Leia, how playful is their banter?’

2. Molly/Sherlock 

“You do count, you’ve always counted and I’ve always trusted you.”

Sherlock fanart - Thank you Molly Hooper by FloLu on DeviantArt

All of the feels.  (Also see artbylexie for Sherlolly goodness.)  My current otp, I feel I have to preface with a kind of a weird, convoluted explanation, so apologies in advance.  I love both characters on their own, and I love the possibilities and potential of them together with their complementarily contrasting characteristics.  And yet, I wouldn’t want them to become an official item on the show unless it was at the very end.  As in, ‘Molly, I propose we move to Sussex and keep bees together.’

*Quick Aside: This is actually how I feel about most of my ships, canon or otherwise.  I much prefer dwelling in the land of pre-establishment (i.e. Han & Leia pre-ROTJ) as I think you get much more interesting interaction at that stage in character dynamics.  After all, an official romantic relationship is the end game – a ship’s cathartic moment – so the lead up is where it’s at!

For the Sherlolly ship in particular, it would be very difficult to maintain within the confines of the show itself and be satisfying.  If it were an AU rom-com, then totally, but since Sherlock Holmes is an adventure/mystery genre, the focus has to be elsewhere or the show wouldn’t be Sherlock.

…Which brings us to why fanfic/vids/art, etc. can be brilliant as it lets us happily imagine what can’t be included in the script due to the nature of the narrative.  And, when nothing is official, everything is open for us to interpret how and what we do (and don’t) see onscreen!  So I’m perfectly happy with them continuing to weave in the small moments between Sherlock & Molly, adding depth to their relationship and allow my brain to speculate to my heart’s content.

3. Naruto/Hinata + Ichigo/Rukia

“I nearly went the wrong way…but you, you showed me the right way.  You changed me!  Your smile saved me!”

Hinata/Naruto fanart - Nindo by Bakaiiko on DeviantArt

Ichiruki Wallpaper fanart by crasyaboutpink on DeviantArt

Yup, I’m going to cheat again.  I wanted to include a manga/anime ship and couldn’t pick between my two current favorites in this genre.  See?  Torn between the more sorrowful & the more stubborn.  I love the way Hinata’s confession was dealt with, it spot on in terms of her character, in my opinion (and may or may not have inspired a bit of dialogue in a Sherlolly piece I may or may not have written…yeah, nerd alert).  Then what’s not to love about Ichigo and Rukia as the pair that childishly tease each other, but when it gets right down to it, see each other more completely than anyone else?  Absolutely nothing.

4. Kirk/Spock

“Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.”

Chibi Kirk + Spock Star Trek fanart by sweetvillain on DeviantArt

Is this not the most adorable thing ever? The reboot introduced me to this ship and I do need to sit down and watch more of TOS, but I already know one thing: Friendship?  Bromance?  Romance?  Doesn’t matter.  What’s so appealing about these two is that however you ship Kirk and Spock, a deep love will always exist between them and that is a beautiful thing.  One without the other is incomplete, and having a companion like that is enviable indeed.  Come on, just look at how happy that Kirk is!

Are there are shades of the Holmes & Watson dynamic reflected in Kirk & Spock?  Definitely.  How many shades?  I couldn’t say.

5. Revan/Carth

“Yes, what’s on your mind?”

KOTOR-Hairless Wookiee by aimo

And just to switch it up (sort of), Revan/Carth is hands down my favorite video game ship I’ve come across.  Romances on this medium don’t always come across as well, but I have fond memories of the exchanges between these two when playing/replaying Knights of the Old Republic – they’re so dang snarky and hilarious!  Their relationship is engaging without feeling forced, and perfectly emulates the elements that make the Han/Leia dynamic work so well without being a boring carbon(ite) copy.  (Canonical Revan should have been female, but that’s a rant for another time.)

Whew, how’d I do?  I tried my best not to go overboard, but that was surprisingly hard to narrow down.  Elizabeth/Darcy, for instance?  Right up there.  I mean, they kind of wrote the book…

Despite not intentionally searching for one, I almost always end up finding a ship in whatever I’m watching or reading to root for or at least contemplate on the side.  It’s like having a radar that just keeps scanning until ping!, it finds the pairing that makes your feels hone in on.  So what ships are on your radar?

Thanks for bearing this shipper’s long-winded love fest, I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

Posted by: brookenado | February 1, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Favorite Fandom Accessories

Dear readers,

It’s time for another (belated5 Fandom Friday post courtesy of the brilliant The Nerdy Girlie & Super Space Chick, and this week we’re diving into the wonderful world of fandom accessories!

5 Fandom Friday

Some people get excited about shoes and designer handbags, for others it’s jewelry and the newest iPhone.  And then there are fans.  Like anyone we enjoy accessorizing to look our best.  We just love it more when these things happen to coincide with our geekier passions!  Fortunately, being the enthusiastic and resourceful people we are, we often finds ways of sneaking those interests so near and dear to our hearts into our everyday (and at times not so everyday) style.

And when it comes to stumbling across an amazing piece of nerdy embellishment, well…

'I need it' Tony Stark RDJ Iron Man gif

Preaching to the choir, Tony.

Now because I’m generally horrible at picking favorites, here’s a look at my own nerdy accessories in no particular order:

1. Graphic Tees

Disney Lion King shirt Simba and Mufasa

Does a shirt technically count as an accessory?  Probably not, but as most of my fandom stuff currently exists in that form we’re going to pretend it does!  Plus, there’s also the fact that fandom graphic tees are awesome.  221B tee, Tardis t-shirt, Iron Man, the Flash, Disney?  All snug in their drawer, folded with care.  The Lion King shirt was a gift from my dad this past Christmas, making it the most recent addition to my well-worn collection.  Thanks dad!

2. Fandom Earrings

Fandom earrings - Sherlock 221B earrings by @librianisti & @heruniverse Star Trek earrings

A more traditional accessory, I won my two pairs of fandom earrings at the first SherlockeDCC party during Comic-Con a couple of years ago.  I always wear them when I need a little boost, and when I catch a glimpse of them in the bathroom mirror at work, or in the reflection of the glass around my desk I can’t help but smile.

When I was younger my mom used to give me one of her necklaces to wear on days I having a tough time, saying I would have her with me even though we were apart.  To this day it’s that sense of holding a special meaning and strength that makes me excited about jewelry, so when I can associate certain pieces with people or characters I’m attached to I suddenly start wearing those ones all the time!  And sure, it doesn’t exactly hurt that there was this one time a cute guy at the grocery store complemented the Star Trek earrings…

3. Sonic Screwdriver

Whovian Rule No. 1: Always be prepared for a blue police box to arrive at your door and whisk you off on a grand adventure through time and space at any moment.  Thus, the sonic screwdriver.  (Also great for cosplay, confusing/fascinating your coworkers on Halloween, waving around while giving orders – you get the picture.  Not so great with wood, though…)

*Bonus: I’ve got a Tardis flashlight (torch) keychain that was a birthday gift from my brother, easily making my set of car keys the coolest of the bunch in the family key dish!  And that I totally meant to take a picture of.

4. Harry Potter Beanie & Gloves

When I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London while studying abroad, I told myself that I could get one thing from the gift shop.  One.  (Yes, it was as unbelievably hard as you’re imagining.  Look at the gift shop pics in the post, you’ll understand.)  After much debate, I went for the Gyffindor beanie as it was in my price range, awesome, and I kind of love beanies.  Unfortunately, being back in San Diego I don’t find too much opportunity to wear it at the moment, but the gloves are another story!

I got the gloves more recently after happening to see them online and promptly checking Hot Topic the next time I was at the mall (spoiler: they were there).  As someone who suffers from chronic cold hands, I keep them in my purse and wear them at work (being fingerless, they’re perfect for typing), while driving, and just generally around.  Plus, mischief managed – I had to get them!

5. Sherlock Plushie Keychain (+ buttons)

Sherlock crochet plushie by the Consulting Crafter

My Sherlock keychain plushie also came from the first SherlockeDCC party a couple years ago, made by the amazing Consulting Crafter.  She has some seriously adorable crochet plushies that she creates for multiple fandoms (see baby Groot plushie on her site as a prime example)!  I generally attach this little guy to my purse or bag so I’m always carrying a little bit of fandom around with me and because, honestly, who doesn’t want a mini consulting detective to keep them company?  With the buttons, there’s the added bonus of possibly meeting fellow fans when I’m out and about!

I suppose this is also as good a time as any to mention that I’m slowly learning how to sew and have started on one of a few ideas buzzing around my brain for fandom scarves.  You’ll have to stay tuned for more to come – if all goes well the hope is to open an Etsy shop of my own!  (Also hoping writing it here will help hold me to seeing it through…)

And that rounds up my geek accessories collection at the moment, now what fandom-inspired accessories are adding flair to your style?  Feel free to share your favorites with the rest of us – you simply can’t have too many fandom accessories, after all!

Thanks for reading, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

Posted by: brookenado | January 18, 2015

10 Quotes for 2015

Dear readers,

Happy New Year!  I’ve been meaning to get this post out for a couple weeks now and just haven’t for very reasons and non-reasons (family time while the sis was in town, getting over a cold, general procrastination…), but here it is at last!

Now I’ve never been a huge New Year’s resolution person, it just wasn’t something my family did at the end of the year.  We took things more one day at a time – resolutions sans planning.  Plus, New Year’s?  It always felt like just another day to me, except that you got to have sparkling apple cider, open poppers, and maybe catch a good Star Wars marathon or something on TV.

Boom, another year down.

But this year more than ever before, I get how January 1st can be a cathartic day and a day for, well, a resolution.  The past year is over and you get a brand new slate to start with – 365 days of opportunities and all that.  And maybe it’s just been on my mind more since we’ve been slating articles and posts with the New Year’s spin at work, or perhaps it has something to do with 2015 being my year in the Chinese Zodiac (what up, goats/sheep/rams?)…though more probably, it’s where I am in my life.

Up to this point there was always some larger direction: school, find a job, pay off the car.  Now I’ve been at my first full-time-out-of-college job for a little over a year, and I’m about to finish paying off my first car, so for the past month or so I’ve been reevaluating.  My job is ok, and I work with some good people, but I’m not happy.  So what’s holding me back?

When I get right down to it, I know what direction I’d rather take my life in and I’ve been stalling.  But hey, it’s a new year and as it turns out, it really is the perfect opportunity to make some changes.  Instead of a resolution I’ve decided to gather some quotes for 2015; words of wisdom to live by this year in the hopes that, come January 1, 2016, I’ll have had the inspiration and the courage to make a change!

10 Quotes for 2015

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

“Get it down.  Take chances.  It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” – William Faulkner

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

“This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done.  It’s that easy, and that hard.” – Neil Gaiman

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life.  Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” – Mae Jemison

Or, essentially:

‘I know it sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.’

I’m a dreamer, and I’d like to tell stories, help people, and find a way to be geeky for a living.  At the moment writing seems like the best way for me to do all three.  But whether my initial change this year is writing a script or a book, or going back to school, or traveling the world for a little while, or something I can’t foresee yet (geek bakery?), these are words that make me feel as if I can do it – whatever it will end up being.

So as the TARDIS is blue, I’ll find the courage to take the first step this year because am I Gryffindor or not?  Now those are my quotes for a new year, what are your resolutions and words/quotes that inspire you to reach them?

Thanks for reading and best of luck to everyone’s goals for the year, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

Ok, just one more:

Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve - J.K. Rowling

Though if someone has a bit of Felix Felicis, I’m thinking a bit of “liquid luck” couldn’t hurt… ;)

Posted by: brookenado | December 16, 2014

Wicked, The Untold Story of One Girl’s Theatre Ticket

Dear readers,

It may not always be as apparent, but theater geek is a part of my geek makeup (see Figure 1) and lately I’ve found myself on a Wicked kick, which seems to have been quite fatefully timed.  Almost like a prophecy, one might even venture.  Before we jump right into that, though, a quick background…

My obsession with Wicked began back in 2004, on plane to London where I happened to hear four songs from the show while tuning in to the in-flight Broadway channel: Popular, I’m Not That Girl, One Short Day, and Defying Gravity.  I proceeded to listen in to that set at least three more times before we landed, and hum the tunes around Heathrow after – already I was hooked!  (And Heathrow, my apologies.)

brookenado's fandom brain pie chart

A general idea of what’s going on in there, at least

Luckily, my best friend at the time happened to be into Wicked as well, and soon my interest in the show was being enabled with a full copy of the CD.  Since then I’ve read the book, got my own copy of The Grimmerie, seen the play, and done a fair amount of shower-singing.  What can I say?  I got carried away…and not just by balloon!

Winston Bishop singing Popular gif, New Girl

Thanks, Winston Bishop gif, for perfectly describing my recent commutes from work

So why the sudden Wicked kick now?  First, as any geek knows, you never stop being a fan of something – things just get placed to simmer on the back burner as you make room for new interests.  As it so happens, the holidays instigated the sudden ‘fandom of the month‘ rotation to Wicked.  Initial thoughts on what to get who for Christmas triggered a nostalgic brainstorming session of some of the favorite gifts I’ve received over the years.

So that night, I opened the book cupboard and grabbed The Grimmerie where a photo with an IOU promise fell out…

Five months after opening that Christmas gift I was seated in the Pantages Theatre in LA, seeing the show live for the first time with my parents.  It was an experience I’ll always cherish, one I’m glad I got to share, and was certainly a gift I will never forget.

Ok, ok, so what about the whole ‘prophetic fateful timing‘ thing?  Well, readers, it just so happened that as Wicked’s overdue takeover of my brain began, the show’s national tour was making it’s way to San Diego!  I tried not to get my hopes up for seeing it – when would I have time?  How could I splurge when I’d just paid for some plane tickets and still had holiday shopping to do?  Listen to Elphaba, Brooke, wishing only wounds the heart.

Still, I looked into student tickets in my, ‘not-going-to-get-my-hopes-up-but-sort-of-going-to-get-my-hopes-up-anyway‘ way, only to discover that a lottery system was in place for Wicked as it was such a popular show.  Now there was the added obstacle of timing.  Lottery hopefuls had to be at the theatre 2 hours before the show to put their name in the lottery, and that wasn’t exactly going to fly with work and my commute.  Sure there was the weekend, but not knowing how this worked and how many seats were typically available, I worried these would be the worse days to try.

Wicked gif - Popular, Elphaba & Galinda

This is never going to work! / You mustn’t think that way anymore!

Then last Friday brought a blessing in disguise.  I had to go in to work extremely early, so I figured this was it – the perfect chance to try and put my name in for a ticket that night!  And although I had almost given up on seeing the show this time around as it was the final weekend for the San Diego leg of the tour, once the idea popped into my head on Thursday I just couldn’t seem to get rid of it.  All day Friday I once more kept trying not to get my hopes up of seeing it that night (I know I’m not always the best at getting over disappointment right away) but I also couldn’t picture my evening being spent any differently.

…So maybe there was a bit of magic involved when my name was the first one pulled out of the cauldron. Who knows?

I couldn’t believe it.  I was half stunned, half elated as I self-consciously walked to the table past my fellow lottery hopefuls with fingers crossed.  They probably drew close to 10 names total (somewhere around 35 other people where there, so that’s better than I had figured!), and all of us got an orchestra section seat for the price of $25.  I was unexpectedly going to see Wicked that night after all – and in a front row seat!

As I paid for my ticket and later went in, the staff who was around during the lottery was so happy for everyone who got a ticket, and the excitement was contagious.  It felt like being welcomed into a big group hug of people just as in love with Wicked as I was.

‘When was the last time you saw her fly?’ one attendant asked as I paid for my ticket.  It gave me pause, 6 or 7 years?  Too long, we agreed.  He then mentioned that this actress brought some a different approach in some ways to Elphaba’s character than he’d previously seen, which I think is one of the best parts of live theater – every performance is a new experience, but still the story you love.

The anticipation for 7:30 to just roll around already mounted.

Finally the doors for seating were opened and I found myself sitting right behind the orchestra on the right side of the stage, chatting with a couple other lottery winners who where just as excited. The lights dimmed, the orchestra did there thang, the Clock of the Time Dragon reared its head, and I proceeded to be totally enthralled for the next two and half hours.

And oh, it was thrillifying.  The cast were superb!  I loved Chandra Lee Schwartz’s Glinda, you could tell she was very comfortable in the role and knew her character.  Emma Hunton was a fantastic Elphaba.  Her delivery, especially with the humorous lines, had such snark – she owned it.  They both owned it!

I only wish I could share clips of this performance  with you.  Even so, I’m still in total geek out mode so you’ll have to bear with me through some of my favorite moments from the show (without giving away anything too specific from the story, of course)…

**Even so, spoilers (ish?) afoot – proceed with caution.

You know, if I had access to a time machine I think one of the small, non-potentially universe threatening things on my to-do list would be to go back and see the original cast perform as they went through the initial evolution of defining these characters.

I mean, look at this scene.  Ok, first off, the choreography is so subtly brilliant, yes.  Then Norbert Leo Butz is basically amazing. has the presence that makes the character’s command and influence in the scene work. The way his movements captivate the other students as they begin to mimic him almost unintentionally, mesmerized by this new guy’s charm, yet still gives us that sense of Fiyero just going through the motions.  Of course, that means the entire ensemble is perfectly in sync as well and together make this so perfect.

And while we’re Dancing Through Life (if you’re in a hurry, the 4:30 mark should about do it), I might as well mention that one of my absolute favorite moments of the show is towards the end of this scene when Galinda and Elphaba understand each other for the first time.  The music, timed just so with the choreography; slow melody coming in and mixing with a bit of Elphaba’s theme and as if to say, ‘whoa, hang on, something magical is happening here’ (Stephen Schwartz, you are a genius).

Coupled with the actresses’ movements, gestures, and expressions, they perfectly convey Galinda accepting Elphaba followed by Elphaba tentatively accepting Galinda, as she looks around at the other students and realizes she’s no longer a total outcast.  It’s a beautiful moment, portrayed in so few words.

Wicked fanart - Elphaba I'm Not That Girl scene by squeegool

I happen to be deeply shallow and genuinely self-absorbed. / No, you’re not.

Now the main focus of the story is not the romance, but I still enjoy the relationship dynamic between Elphaba and Fiyero – especially the beginnings of it, sparked during the lion cub scene.  The writing done by Winnie Holzman is so spot on here (and everywhere) with a great balance of humor, empathy for both characters, and a sense of loneliness.  There’s little time to get into too much detail with them, but again in what could have been an insignificant scene we get a character defining moment for both.

And just…gah!  The ending is so cleverly staged and tied in with the movie we all know and love, and the final meeting between Elphaba and Glinda is so touching and authentic, truly.  It’s bittersweet but satisfying, and as any good story does, Wicked leaves you with ambiguous motifs to ponder, but also a warmth stemming from the strength of friendship.  In their own way, Glinda and Elphaba fulfill a Holmes/Watson, Kirk/Spock-esque, two sides of the same coin, incomplete without the other dynamic, yet they still retain a strong sense of self as individuals and it’s wonderful adding an iconic female duo to that list.

Wicked gif - Glinda & Elphaba For Good hug

Warm and fuzzy feels? Check.  Break my heart into tiny, little pieces feels? You bet.

You walk away feeling as if you’ve known these characters and their story your whole life (and with more than one catchy tune stuck in your head!).  The team that made the musical possible and the people who continue to give the show it’s power have created a timeless story with universal appeal.  Wicked is a production that I will always want to see again and again, and can’t imagine growing tired of.  And after seeing it a second time, I might even venture to officially declare it my favorite musical (though that seems to be the case whenever I see one of my top three…)!

On another note, I think I may have been ruined for theatre.  The last three plays I’ve seen I was lucky enough to end up seated within the first 10 rows, and that is seriously the way to see a show.  Ah well, I guess I can live with that.

What are your favorite theatre memories or shows?  Feel free to share below!  I know this was a long one, so thanks for reading, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

Dear readers,

I’m a little late to the party, but here’s my first Fandom 5 Friday post!  A brilliant idea started by fellow bloggers The Nerdy Girlie & Super Space Chick, 5 Fandom Friday is a weekly post in the form of a top 5 list based on predetermined topics to get the creative juices going and keep the blog flowing (plus the chance to write more about our favorite things!).

5 Fandom Friday

Up this week, it’s  ‘Fictional characters you would invite to your Thanksgiving feast’!

While pondering this, all of these main characters kept popping into my mind but then I thought, that’s a bit too obvious, isn’t it?  So I decided, who needs ’em?  Too much drama anyway – invite all those protagonists over and you might as well paint a big red “x” on the house.  They’re probably too busy saving the world, and inadvertently but expertly finding trouble, to accept the invitation anyway.  So instead I bring you…

5 Fandom Friday: Thanksgiving with the equally as interesting, important, and awesome side characters of fandom

1. Fred & George Weasley – Lively guests with a great sense of humor are always welcome at my table, and I imagine with them there will never be a dull moment throughout the evening.  Ok, yes, Brooke that’s two people.  But they’re a packaged deal (oh dear, go away feels) and they can share a seat, all right?

Harry Potter - Fred & George Weasley (art by Viria)

2. Molly Hooper – Because you never know when you’re going to need a trusty forensic pathologist at a holiday meal, am I right?  Kidding and her skills/intelligence aside, who wouldn’t want the kindhearted, quirky, quiet strength sort of awesomeness that is Molly Hooper at your Thanksgiving meal?  She’s relatable, observant, and would make an effort to get along with all.

BBC Sherlock - Molly Hooper gif

3. Iroh – Bring that tsungi horn, some jasmine tea, and a pai sho board and we’ve got ourselves a party!  Not to mention a great sense of humor wrapped around words of wisdom, Iroh would not only make everyone feel welcome, but probably have us all experience some sort of major life epiphany before the night ends.  I enjoy a healthy dose catharsis with my holidays, don’t you?

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Uncle Iroh

4. Arthur Shappey (I’d say the whole Cabin crew, but I feel like I used my loophole card already so…) – Charades, a super helper with serving (though perhaps not preparing) the food,  someone to call your meal brilliant even if it was only moderately delicious?  A quite often genuinely happy guy, Arthur Shappey would be welcome to my Thanksgiving feast any time!

Cabin Pressure Arthur Shappey art by TheMightyNarwhal

5. April Ludgate – Because this dinner party could probably use a little more deadpanned one-liners thrown into the mix.  April would either make sure no one gets out of line, or perpetrate an all-out, free-for-all, model UN-style food fight.  Either is fine with me, so long as the pies remain off the civilian casualties list.

Parks and Recreation April Ludgate, Aubrey Plaza

A tough narrowing down of so many agreeable characters (I mean, geez, all five could easily have been Harry Potter characters), but for today at least, my Thanksgiving guest list is all set.  Food coma countdown: 6 days.

So what characters would be dining at your table next week if they could?  Leave a comment below or link to your own 5 Fandom Friday post!  Thanks for reading, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

*Bonus round (because necessary subcategory  If I were to join the Thanksgiving meal onboard any ‘traditional space crew’ type ship, at the moment it would stand as follows: The Ebon Hawk (original KotOR crew), Serenity, the Bebop, the Millennium Falcon, and the USS Enterprise!  Turns out I’m basically a sucker for the unlikely rag-tag crew on a mission trope.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic character art by aimo

If you’ve never played Knights of the Old Republic, it is by far one of the best video games around with brilliant, fleshed out characters and storyline!

 

Posted by: brookenado | November 9, 2014

Rosemary Lemon Sherlock Silhouette Squares

Dear readers,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, or a Sherlock Holmes related post now that I think about it, so why not a little of both?  Back in August the San Diego Sherlockians had their second annual beach day meetup, so of course I wanted to bring a contribution to the food supply!

For the previous beach shindig I tweaked a cookie recipe to create 221B Butterscotch Cookies, and I remember thinking how fun it was to do some geek-themed baking and that I should do it more often.  So, naturally it took a year to actually make good on that thought, and this time around I decided to bake something different to share.  I was low on time (what’s new?), so while browsing Pinterest for inspiration I decided on a twist to one of my favorite summer treats – with an idea for some added Sherlock flair!

Rosemary Lemon Sherlock Silhouette Squares

Idea from Gimme Some Oven

Rosemary lemon bar with bbc sherlock powder sugar silhouette

Rosemary Lemon Sherlock Silhouette Squares!

Ingredients (enough for a 7 x 11 pan)

Crust:
–  3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 8  tbsp butter, softened
– 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– Sprig or two of fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped

Topping:
– 6 large eggs
– 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 4 tsp grated lemon rind
– 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
– 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– powdered sugar
– silhouette cutouts

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. To prepare crust, beat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the butter together at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add flour beating at low until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Mix in rosemary.  Spray 7 x 11 in (or close to) pan and gently press mixture into the bottom.  Bake for 15 minutes and let cool.

3. To prepare topping, beat eggs at medium speed until foamy.  Add next six ingredients (through salt) and beat until well-blended.  Pour mixture over crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until set.  Let cool.

4. Cut into individual squares or bars and create your silhouettes to fit the size you need.  I used regular printer paper and traced on top of an iPad image for speed & precision, though something like parchment paper would probably work even better.  Place either piece on top of an individual bar and sift powdered sugar over top and gently press sugar into the bar to stick.

I started out using the actual cutout so that everything around the lemon square was covered in sugar and the yellow from the bar created the image in the negative space.  However, I found that this time around (with the white/yellow colors and using paper silhouettes) it was easier to see the image by cutting out a square around where I cut out the silhouette (see image below) big enough to cover an individual lemon square, then filling in the middle with powdered sugar to create the silhouetted image.

*Be generous with the powdered sugar – the more you use and press into the surface of the bar, the better the image looks!

These surprised me and lasted well enough in the cooler at the beach all day, you could still see the silhouettes (the good ones as least, there was some trial and error involved), and I’m happy to say they went over well with everyone.  Leftovers came home with me and the family loved the addition of rosemary to the lemon squares.  In fact, I think I’m going to add the rosemary in every time I make these from here on out!

While Summer has come and gone (though you wouldn’t know it down here in San Diego) these are still a great dessert, and if you decide to try them now in the prime of pumpkin season…well, I won’t tell!

Bonus:  Remember back in August when anytime you did anything online you kept seeing people dumping freezing water on their heads for charity?  Well the San Diego Sherlockians were challenged by the London Sherlockians, and not being fans to flinch from a challenge (especially one so awesome and well-intentioned as the ALS fundraising campaign) we bravely stepped up to be dunked and sent the challenge on to fellow Sherlockian groups and yes, actress Amanda Abbington, because why not?  Call us dreamers.

Thanks for reading, cheers!  Hopefully it won’t take a year for me to get up to some more fun, geek-themed baking this time around.  Until then…

Mischief managed

Dear readers,

Let’s forget that it’s been two and half years now since I studied abroad, and pretend we’re back in the summer of 2012 and that this post is just the most timely thing ever.  Alright, everyone there?  No?

…Well it was worth a shot.  Part two of this Irish-Scottish adventure began a little bumpy, but what’s an adventure without a few bumps along the way?

friends-in-scotland-stirling-castle-edinburgh

I don’t think we’re in Brighton anymore…

Part I left off heading to the Cork airport in Ireland, but because of the storm we were experiencing only got worse, our flight from the tiny airport was cancelled.  (Waiting through the delays to this point, Amanda and I spent our time attempting to dry our completely soaked layers with the hand dryer in the restroom.)  Admittedly I grew somewhat nervous having not been in this situation before, so I was glad not to be traveling on my own!

As luck would have it, we had nothing to worry about.  The airline was extremely helpful in getting everyone on the flight a ride to Dublin, plus a free night at a hotel near the airport, and an early morning flight to Edinburgh in the morning.  I don’t think I’ll forgot listening to an Irish EuroCup match on our shared cab ride with two (quite nice) strangers – it was one of those unexpected experiences that gives a trip character!

When we arrived in Edinburgh early the next morning it was still drizzly, so after checking in at our hostel we decided to grab some breakfast next door.  It was quite easy to get around the city.  There’s a bus that runs from the airport to the train station right near the center of Edinburgh and our hostel was only two blocks away from the station, which was great for our time there.

edinburgh-scotland-cockburn-street

The Edinburgh Backpackers Hostel was the perfect home base

After much needed food and a warm drink, we decided to brave the lingering dampness and head to the Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden – which was beautiful!  Entrance is free and anyone with an inkling of a green thumb will enjoy strolling through and admiring the colorful variety of plants.  It turned out that walking over there (while lovely) was a bit longer than anticipated (whoops) and it had started to drizzle again, so we bused it back to the hostel and we tried to figure out what to do for the evening.

With the rain and being exhausted from our early start that morning, we ended up doing something ‘normal’ – well, normal for being in a state of travel – and saw a movie at the nearby theater after making some dinner.

*Note to American theaters: If you served kettle corn like this theater did, I would splurge way more often on popcorn at the movies

Our second day in Edinburgh we woke up early and made our way to the meeting spot for a Hairy Coo Tour.  A hairy what?  Well it’s this awesome all-day tour of the highlands in a small, bright orange bus made to look like a hairy coo (Scottish hairy cow).  The tour is intimate and independently run, and our guides were fantastic.

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The hairy coo bus is a native of Scotland, often found roaming the highlands

 

We made various stops throughout the day, breaking up the driving nicely and giving us many opportunities to take in the stunning views of the mountains and lakes (or lochs, I should say!).  The tour runs on a ‘pay what you can/think you should’ method (so they understand if you’re a broke student and can’t give as much), and the fact they’ve been running for years now says a lot about its quality.  If you’re visiting Edinburgh, I’d highly recommend looking into a Hairy Coo Tour!

Bonus: Our final stop before returning from the tour was to the castle used in the French kniggit scene of Monty Python and our bus was equipped with coconut halves to run up the path clacking together with.  Yes, it was brilliant.

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Ride up to a castle with low-budget horses and demand to know details of a holy grail? Check.

Day three saw us taking the train to St. Andrews where a friend from home happened to go to school and was about to graduate.  He showed us around the small town, which is a unique place.  It seemed like something straight out of a book with the architecture and history, its location right by the ocean, plus its claim to fame as the birthplace of golf.

After strolling through most of the town (like I said, it’s small), we stopped in a pub for a drink and bite to eat before heading back to Edinburgh.  There’s always something a bit surreal about seeing a familiar face while traveling, but also reassuring and a treat!

The fourth and final day of our trip was spent simply exploring the city, so it was especially lovely that the sun finally decided to make an appearance.  It also happened to be my 21st birthday – but that’s beside the point.  We checked out the Monday markets as well as some local shops here and there in search of souvenirs and gifts, and just generally wandered, which Edinburgh is a perfect city for!  We walked the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace and explored around the Old Town area before it was time to head back to the hostel to collect our things and take the bus back to the airport.

Despite a delay we were able to catch the last train back to Brighton upon our return before we would be stuck in the airport until morning (never a dull moment, eh?).  I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my 21st than traveling and making memories on another adventure, and I would return to Edinburgh in a heartbeat.  It’s a beautiful city which feels more like a large, friendly town.  Besides, I recently learned there’s a Harry Potter themed exploration of Edinburgh (J.K. Rowling wrote the books there, duh – should’ve known!) AND Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born here, so I’ll have to go back.  No two ways around it.

A long post, but at long last I give you the final trip while studying abroad.  I have every intention of getting back to regularly updating, so thanks for sticking around as I work through this wonky schedule of late.  As always thanks for reading, cheers!  Until then…

Mischief managed

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