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Posted on Apr 17, 2012 in Dear Diary | 17 comments

Harry Potter and the Epic Party (Part 2)

Awwwwwww yeah. Here we go. The final chapter, as it were. I promise after today we shall return to our regularly scheduled, wizard-free (well, probably) programming. I edited the photos that Ben took at the party, and I think it can now be confirmed that a good time was had by all. I love having a professional photographer for a brother!

Naturally, I couldn’t have kicked off my epic Harry Potter birthday party without forcing said brother to take some studio shots of me. After all, it’s not every day that I’m dressed up in my finest Harr(iet) Potter attire! (If only, though. If only…)


I want YOU to love Harry Potter as much as me.

I would like to point out that this costume is marketed as a dress. A DRESS! Maybe wizards have a hefty dose of exhibitionism, but I cannot imagine a girl who would be willing to wear this “dress” without something to provide some serious opaqueness underneath. Or without something to cover up top, for that matter!

God, I’m such a dork. I love it.

Okay, enough narcissism (for now). Onto the party! BRACE YOURSELVES FOR PHOTO OVERLOAD.



Quidditch Pong!


Oh hai, Hermione!



Dobby & Kreacher


Snitches and House Elves and Muggles, oh my!


No squibs in this family!


Hey Cho. You lookin’ fine, girl.


Dumbledax with his adoring fans.


Theresa came as a talking painting – brilliant, no?


Snape, Hermione, and your average wrong-place-wrong-time Muggle.


I think the party got to be a little much for Harry the Lion and Padfoot. They ended up hiding upstairs!


Most magical photobomb ever, Rik.





And finally: Felix Felicis. You burn so good.

And there you have it. A glimpse into the secret world of wizard parties. Of course, I can’t let you Muggles actually LEAVE here with this knowledge, oh no sirree. Such information is far too valuable, after all. Sorry folks. Imagine I’m putting on my sunglasses right now, MIB-style.


Obliviate!

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Posted on Apr 16, 2012 in Dear Diary | 24 comments

Harry Potter and the Epic Party (Part 1)

Ahoy-hoy, friends! I hope you all had a MAGICAL weekend, because I know I sure did! My 24th birthday party took place on Saturday and as you are all more than aware, it was Harry Potter-themed! Since I’d been touting my excitement for this party for far too long, there was always a chance that the build-up would outdo the actual party itself. Luckily, I’m glad to report that I had a smashing time! And hopefully my party guests — Muggles and Wizards and House Elves alike — did as well.


An amazing shot that Ben got of Dobby/Taylor and Harry/me before the party.

My wonderful brother graciously played the role of photographer for most of the night, so you’ll have to wait just a little longer for photos from the party itself (the costumes that some people came up with were amazing!). Before things got kicking, however, I did make sure to capture detail shots of the decorations, food, drinks, and whatnot. Prepare yourselves for a photo schmorgasbord of Potteriffic proportions! (Consider this your official nerd alert!)

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The foyer, all done up.

IMG_6477 Dumbledax!
Dumbledax!

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Order of Merlin: First Class & Chief Wizard of the Wizengamot

Gryffindor
Harry the Gryffindor Lion!

Common Room IMG_6488
Stanley the Pygmy Puff kept watch over the Common Room.

Dungeons
The basement became the Dungeons, naturally!

Astronomy Tower
While Hedwig guarded the entrance to the Astronomy Tower upstairs.

Chamber of Secrets Basilisk
Guests who dared enter the Chamber of Secrets had to avoid the stare of our baby basilisk…

Potions Lab
… if they hoped to make it to the Potions Lab, where the real fun began!

Potions Lab
Cauldrons Brewing
There was a Butterbeer station as well as a batch of Polyjuice Potion (Vodka Lemonade + Blue Curacao) all brewed up!

Veritaserum
Felix Felicis
The Felix Felicis (Goldschlager) and Veritaserum (Pinnacle Whipped) shots ended up being quite popular!

Liquid Luck

Butterbeer Bites Butterbeer Jelly Shot
As were these DELICIOUS Butterbeer Jelly Shots (thanks for the tip, Dani!!)

The Lost Diadem
Can you spot the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw?

Georgetown Cupcakes! Bernie Bott's Every Flavour Beans
And of course, we can’t forget about the food…!

Chocolate Frogs
Chocolate Frogs I made using this mold, some stuffed with Maple Almond Butter, some with cookie dough!

Golden Snitches
Golden Snitch cakepops

Snitch Cake Pops

Muggle Munchies
Mandrake Roots
Muggle Munchies, Mandrake Roots, and the piece de resistance…

Hogwarts Cupcakes
Georgetown, I mean, Hogwarts Cupcakes!!

Ravenclaw - Coconut Gryffindor - Red Velvet
Hufflepuff - Vanilla and Chocolate Slytherin - Key Lime
Ravenclaw: Coconut; Gryffindor: Red Velvet; Slytherin: Key Lime; Hufflepuff: Vanilla with Chocolate Frosting

So yes, maybe to some this seems like a dork gone overboard. But to me, it was the makings of an awesome party atmosphere! And judging by the way I felt Sunday morning, it was a rockin’ party, too. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Happy Monday!

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Posted on Apr 13, 2012 in Dear Diary | 13 comments

Pre-Party Friday

Happy Friday, friends! The best weekend EVER is almost here, so rejoice! Before the debauchery that will (hopefully) be taking place this weekend, last night Ben, Taylor, and I gussied ourselves up and headed to the Kennedy Center for some real, honest-to-goodness culture.

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Ben’s friend Kristen works for the company that was putting on a concert series in honor of the 100th Cherry Blossom Festival, so it included many famous Japanese musicians. Last night was the last performance in the series, an impressive young pianist by the name of Yu Kosuge. Now, Ben was a piano major in college and is the true musician from the family, so I’m sure he got a little more out of the evening than I did. Still, it was pretty obvious even to me just how GOOD this pianist was, considering the tremendous difficulty of the pieces she was playing (and making it look easy when it was anything but!).

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I won’t try to pretend that classical music is really my thing, but I enjoyed the evening a lot… save for the one contemporary piece she played. I just don’t think I “get” contemporary piano pieces. I can understand how technically impressive it may be, but dissonance for dissonance’ sake doesn’t make any sense to me! Still, it was a really enjoyable evening… and made me feel rather grown up. Maybe 24 is the turning point year after all! Bahaha.

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Of course, that being said, let’s not forget what kind of party is happening in these here parts tomorrow night. Wheeeeeee!! My totally age appropriate Harry Potter birthday party is tomorrow! Wheeeeee!!

We so excited

Hehe, as you can tell, I’m just a wee bit excited for this thing finally coming to fruition. I’ve been mulling this one over pretty much since returning from my epic Harry Potter World trip back in February, so it’s been a long time in the works! My only regret now is that this totally awesome and not incredibly dorky party theme is being wasted on my 24th birthday. 24 is a filler year! 25 is the quarter of the century mark, so wouldn’t you think that deserves the bigger blowout? Oh well, guess that just means I’ll have to come up with something even MORE spectacular for next year… (like holding my very own Quarter Quell, perhaps? Bahaha.)

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Granted, I may have gone slightly overboard in the preparations of this one already. (What, me? Get overly enthusiastic about something? Never!) I’ve been a busy bee over this entire week so that I can concentrate on drawing on the perfect liquid liner forehead scar rather than fretting over party stuff, hehe. The Butterbeer recipe is set, as we already know, but there are still potions to brew, chocolate frogs to make, and Butterbeer Jelly Shots (yes, you read that right!) to mix up. Kekeke.

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He simply cannot contain his excitement.

Oh, it also bears noting that with some help from my lovely roommate, I’ve finally figured out who Daxter is going to be attending the party as!

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Why, with that fluffy white beard and wisdom from beyond the ages, it could only be… Dumbledore! Erin’s making our little Headmaster an occasion-appropriate cape and everything. I love it love it LOVE IT.

I hope you all have an amazing weekend! See you on the flipside, Muggles!

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Posted on Apr 10, 2012 in Food, Recipes | 14 comments

Butterbeer

Butterbeer

Ahh, butterbeer. You glorious, glorious little imaginary drink. I had my first taste of you on this past February’s trip to Hogsmeade, straight from the taps at the Three Broomsticks, and since then I haven’t been able to get you off my mind.

Frozen Butterbeer Icey

Good thing I have my upcoming Harry Potter-themed birthday party as an excuse to reintroduce you into my life, eh?

Butter me up! Take a sip... Butterbeer!

Of course, the Butterbeers that I had at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter were frozen (which would be hard to replicate at the party) and amazing but distinctly non-alcoholic. And this ain’t a party for house elves, you know. I fully expect my guests to get their buzz on. So naturally, in order to get an alcoholic, non-frozen version right, some experimentation was in order.

Most of the recipes that I found online called for cream soda and butterscotch schnapps, that’s it. And while I’m sure that combination works for some people, the unadulterated amount of sweetness from that concoction was ridiculous. Pretty much undrinkable. Luckily, my lovely friend Lara already had a solution.

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She recommended combining the cream soda with light beer as well. That way, she said, you get twice the fizzy carbonation, half the sweetness, and the sugar masks the beer-y flavor. So I took her advice and tried it out: a shot of schnapps, half beer, half soda. Turns out, she was totally on point! The beer flavor is just barely there (it would probably be more noticeable if you used a non-light/stronger tasting beer), and the butterscotch and vanilla flavors still come through!

Butterbeer

Even by halving the cream soda, however, I did still find the concoction crazy sweet. The schnapps itself is really sweet and sugary too, after all! So my next experiment was with a ratio of almost 2/3 beer to 1/3 cream soda, and I thought it was great. If you absolutely can’t stand the very thought of tasting any beeriness, you might want to stray towards the first combination, but I found it very refreshing and still totally Butterbeer-y.

Butterbeer
I added some coconut whipped cream to replicate the head, purely for photo effect since it added even more (read: too much) sweetness.

So there you go! My only other tip would be to make sure that both the beer and the cream soda are cold. I made my first batch with cold beer but room temperature soda and it was just slightly more cloying than I think it would have been had the entire thing been nice and cold. Not that there’s any actual kind of “recipe” involved in this, but in case you were looking for something a little more neat and tidy, here you are:

Butterbeer

Ingredients:

Buttershots butterscotch schnapps
Light beer of choice
Cream soda

Instructions:

Pour one shot of schnapps into a glass (or, probably more accurately, a solo cup). Fill it one-third of the way with cream soda, then top off the last two-thirds of the cup with beer. Enjoy, Muggles and wizards alike!

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Posted on Feb 23, 2012 in Dear Diary | 42 comments

The Wand Chooses the Wizard, Mr. Potter.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you think that the totally age-inappropriate obsession that I have with Harry Potter was over and done with? Ha! Part 1 and Part 2 of my Harry Potter World recap may have come and gone, but we’ve still got Sunday to cover. In fact, Saturday’s recap wasn’t even 100% complete — I left out one extremely important piece! Well, fear not, friends. I’m about to rectify that. In fact, I should tell you right now that it’s about to get EVEN nerdier in here (you didn’t think that was possible, did you?). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

O

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Ollivander’s wand shop isn’t really a shop at all. In fact, it’s more like a show. You stand in a line (where the attendant is repeatedly telling people that this is not a line for a ride, so please don’t get in thinking you’re about to get on Dragon Challenge, haha), and eventually you’ll be ushered in with a group of 15 – 20 other people into the shop.

The Wand Chooses the Wizard

It’s cool and quiet inside, and just there, behind the counter, is the actor playing Mr. Ollivander himself. Thus, the show begins:

Mr. Ollivander

He motions to a girl dressed in school robes, standing in the front. She’s probably about 13-years-old. “You there, Gryffindor! Step forward,” he calls. She tentatively goes up to the counter, where he proceeds to inspect, measure, and generally observe her. He then offers her a wand to test out. He instructs her to use the Wingardium Leviosa spell on a box of wands resting on a shelf to the side. The shelves break and fall down. Not the wand for her! He casts a quick Reparo, then pulls a different wand for her to try.

Ollivander himself

The second wand causes a thunderstorm in the shop. Strike 2. As you might predict, it’s the third and final wand that’s juuuuust right: the music swells, the room glows, and finally a wand has chosen her. We are then dismissed into Dervish & Banges next door to purchase wands of our own (and I imagine that her parents now have to foot the bill for her wand as well, haha). Now, I knew going into things that I had about a 0.01% chance of being chosen by Ollivander for the show, especially if there were kids in my group. But somehow he must have sensed that I was a true fan (perhaps the squealing and clapping I did when we first walked in? Or maybe the incessant click-click-click of my camera throughout the entire presentation?) because before my parents and I had a chance to exit, he came up to me.

“You there,” he said. I responded with a look of shock and what must have been a truly dumbfounded grin plastered on my face. “What house are you?” he asked.

I struggled to use my words like an actual human being for a second, before stammering out, “I… haven’t been sorted yet.”

“Hmm,” he said, looking at me quizzically. “I sense a great wisdom in you. Surely one as wise as you must be Ravenclaw!”

“I certainly wouldn’t mind that!” I said, even though I’m about 90% sure that if I were to actually be sorted, I would be a Hufflepuff. Womp womp.

“I just the wand for someone with your great mind. Ask my assistant inside the shop for the hazel wand. Yes… Hazel, 11 1/2 inches, with a core of dragon heartstring. Surprisingly powerful for its size, and well-suited for wisdom such as yours.” He gives me one last appraising look before walking away, and I stumble out of the shop in a stupor.

Ollivanders

After a few minutes of TOTALLY geeking out because holy crap, that was completely awesome, and was the next best thing to being chosen for the show itself, I go right up to one of the shop assistants and ask for the hazel wand.

Hazel. 11 1/2 inches. Dragon heartstring.

I purchase it (all wands are $29.95, for your reference) and proceed to make a fool of myself for the next twenty minutes, swishing and flicking it around like the fool I am while we had our butterbeers in the Three Broomsticks.

Swish and flick!

Well, I did give it over to my mom so that she could have a little mischief too.

I solemnly swear I am up to no good
I solemnly swear I am up to no good.

And that, my friends, is hands-down the most amazing part of my Saturday.

Mischief Managed.

Now, if you’re still able to hang on with me, we can flash forward to Sunday and get the rest of this beast done. Sunday, my mom stayed back at the hotel and my dad and I made good on our intention to actually see the non-Harry Potter parts of the park, haha. We started off in Marvel world, where I was exceedingly grateful that I hopped on the Hulk coaster right before leaving the night before, while the wait time was low. Still one of the best roller coasters I have EVER been on! We then worked our way through the Toon Lagoon (stopping to get thoroughly soaked on the Popeye water ride, hehe), although we didn’t go on any other water rides since there was a little bit of on-and-off rain and potential thunderstorms that threatened to shut them down. We did stop for a little while in the Jurassic Park Discovery Center (always so much fun for me, despite the PTSD that movie gave me, haha) and eventually made our way back around to Hogsmeade.

Hogsmeade

Here, we got in line for the Flight of the Hippogriff ride (the wait was about 45 minutes – I definitely noticed a significant drop in sheer volume of people at the park from Saturday to Sunday, even though it was a holiday weekend!) and is themed like a Care of Magical Creatures class taught by Hagrid.

Hagrid's Hut

Since this is more of a kid’s roller coaster (no loop-de-loops or anything fancy), my dad was happy to accompany me on this one (Hulk coaster — not so much, haha). The ride itself is only, what, 45-seconds long? But it was fun, of course, and you get to bow to a mechanical Buckbeak as it starts, which I loved.

Buckbeak

After the ride, we revisited the Three Broomsticks to fuel up with another butterbeer (this time in souvenir mugs, OF COURSE) before braving the various shops. They were just as delicious the second time around, and doubly as fun in plastic flagons, haha.

Butter me up! Take a sip... Butterbeer!

Riding on my frozen butterbeer-induced sugar rush, I then proceeded to spend all my money on ridiculous memorabilia. So. Frackin’. Worth it.

Cauldron Cake 2 Cauldron Cake

The most immediate thing I walked away with was a cauldron cake from Honeydukes that didn’t even make it out of the park. My dad and I devoured this little mousse-filled chocolate cupcake with relish — I can’t wait to try to recreate them! I also forced him to take pictures of me with my new pet Pygmy Puff.

Pygmy Puff

His name is Stanley.

Hey, Arnold!

And that pretty much marked the end of our theme park adventures! We made it back to the hotel in time to grab a late dinner with my mom (SUSHI!) and prepared ourselves for the trip back. I had to get a little bit creative with the packing since, in addition to my own souvenirs, I was also transporting wands back to Ben & Taylor. Aside from the wand, butterbeer mug, and Stanley, the rest of my own spoils included…

Spoils of Harry Potter World

Candy from Honeydukes, a Gryffindor t-shirt, a chocolate wand for Sean, U-No-Poo candies (bahahahaha), postcards…

Stationary

… a leather case containing cards and envelopes…

Honeyduke's Swag

… a chocolate frog, a package of Fizzing Whizbees (which I got to eat half of before Daxter dug them out of my suitcase and ate them… which led to an entirely new level of freakout given his health history… but I digress!), and a box of Bernie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. And then there’s the piece de resistance of my new Harry Potter-inspired collection:

Timeturner

A Timeturner of my very own. Suck on that, Hermione. Yes, I know it’s a lot. I deposited quite a few Galleons into Universal’s pockets this weekend. I would like to point out, however, that when I made a joke about how much money I was spending on what is essentially just CANDY to the guy at the register in Honeydukes, he said that I shouldn’t feel bad because he has literally rung up thousands of dollars worth of merchandise for just one person before. So, really, I think you should all be impressed with my restraint. 😉

So. There you have it. How do I even sum up what really was the trip of a lifetime for me? Aw, to hell with it. I am just going to embrace the cheesy sap that I am, and say that it really was magical. I don’t expect all (heck, any!) of you to understand it, but it was just amazing for me. It was the culmination of my childhood (I was more or less the same age as the characters in the books as each one came out, so I literally grew up with Harry Potter) come to life. I loved every minute of it, and I simply cannot WAIT to go back.

Mischief managed.

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