TTT: 10 Slightly Creepy But Not Horrifying Halloween Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s prompt was a freebie related to Halloween. I love Halloween. The dress up and magic and witches and candy and caramel apples….so fantastic. One of my favorite things to do around this time of year is watch Halloween appropriate movies. But I’m not a fan of horror. I don’t particularly like to be scared. I do like things that are a little dark, unexplained, morbid, and/or creepy–just nothing with a ton of gore and violence and jump scares and menacing music so that I have to sleep with the lights on for a week.

So I went through my list on Kanopy. Kanopy is a streaming service that your library might subscribe to–every month you get a certain number of views of mostly indie, classic, international, and documentary films. I picked some films off of my watchlist that aren’t horror but are certainly appropriate for this time of year that always feels closer to pumpkins, warm drinks, and walks at twilight. Scroll down to find lots of Halloween appropriate documentaries, foreign films, and fairy tales.

If you don’t have Kanopy, you can rent these on your favorite rental streaming site or probably pick them up as DVDs from your library. If they’re streaming on a different site, I’ve noted that. These are in the order that I viewed them.

Stuffed (2019)

How do you feel about taxidermy? It’s a little creepy to me in that it brings up uncanny valley feelings–the best taxidermy is beautiful and still, it is pretty clearly not alive. I thought this documentary was great–they interview a ton of different taxidermy artists. Some have a very scientific approach because they work in museums, others use taxidermy to create stories. It’s a good amount of creepy, but what I appreciated was the care and respect for animals as well as for the artform and fellow practitioners. Also, if you’d asked me before how taxidermy was done I would have had no idea, so in that sense this documentary is fairly educational as well. It’s well shot and compelling.

Burke & Hare (2010)

If Sweeney Todd was not a musical and was laugh out loud funny (when it wasn’t gasp inducing), it would pretty much be this film. It is, in a word, ludicrous in all the best ways. It’s set in 1828, and the famous anatomists in Edinburgh need bodies to dissect so Burke & Hare bravely step up to fulfill this need. Every character is mocking each other, but rarely themselves, and the cast is fantastic. Everyone is talking in a Scottish accent. There’s murder and an all-female production of Macbeth. I mean–what more can you ask for?

also available on Roku, Sling TV, and Amazon prime with premium subscriptions.

Exhumed: A History of Zombies (2021)

So I am not a big fan of zombies. But I am a huge fan of pop culture histories. And this documentary traces the story of zombies in popular culture all the way to its roots. And by doing so reveals the real horror–racism and enslavement. I learned so much about a genre I typically avoid–if you’re even passingly interested in zombies or how horror elements proliferate in culture, I would highly recommend this short documentary.

Available online through PBS.

Therapy for a Vampire (2014)

Okay so this one is actually a monster movie. But it’s more of a comedy than anything. I mean the vampires sound like roaring lions. If anything, this German film is kind of campy. But I love the premise of a vampire seeking psychoanalysis from Sigmund Freud. It’s delightfully ridiculous and plays with vampire tropes in a really amusing way. It also has really interesting things to say about image and understanding of ourselves.

Also streaming on Tubi.

Mary Shelley (2017)

This biopic starring Elle Fanning wasn’t really horrifying (except for how much I disliked the costumes, maybe), but since Shelley is the author of Frankenstein, it seemed appropriate for this list. It kind of reminds me of Shakespeare in Love in that it traces an author’s work through a love story. This is much sadder though. But it ends fairly well, so you won’t necessarily be reaching for the tissue box.

Also streaming on Tubi.

La Belle et la Bete (1946)

Jean Cocteau’s classic take on Beauty and the Beast has been on my list for a while. And since I tend to watch a lot of fairy tale films this time of year, it seemed appropriate to include. Plus watch this film and tell me that the disembodied arms holding the candelabras and the fireplace heads aren’t all kinds of creepy! The film is really well done, and you can see a lot of inspiration between this film and the Disney version in the early 90s such as the talking objects, the character of Gaston, the way the Beast is drawn, and so on. I loved the costumes in this film. They are so over the top in the best possible way. Also–no I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t seen it. But it’s a great ending!

Also streaming on HBO max. It was also remade in 2014, and that version, titled Beauty and the Beast is streaming on Amazon Prime, Pluto, Tubi, Peacock.

Tale of Tales (2015)

This is the closest film to actual horror on this list. There are a few pretty horrifying scenes, but I didn’t find it particularly scary. It’s not really dark–all the horror is in the light–and nothing jumps out at you or anything. But the whole thing is masterful. The film explores three adjacent kingdoms and the magical craziness that happens in each one. Each kingdom has a different path, and the tales are interwoven. They seem to draw from a lot of different fairy tales and tropes, so if you’ve got a lot of knowledge of folklore, you’ll definitely recognize certain elements and tales. But the cinematography, the mise en scene, the talented character actors they chose–it’s just captivating. It’s been a long time since I watched a film that was this magical–in the dark, Angela Carter sense.

The Frankenstein Complex (2015)

This documentary introduces you to the people behind the monsters from horror, science fiction, and action films. The documentary moves chronologically from the use of special effects makeup through puppetry, stop motion, animatronics, and finally to CGI effects. Although the people interviewed were really fascinating, I wasn’t a huge fan of how the film was cut together (a lot of scenes from films are referenced but not shown) and the editing was a little off pace. But I loved seeing how some of these props were made and seeing the people who brought some amazing creatures and characters to life.

Blancanieves (2012)

If you watch one movie from this list, I hope it’s this one. This Spanish adaptation of Snow White, told as a silent film about bullfighting was so gorgeous. It’s in black and white, so there’s this amazing attention to texture and detail. And it’s just really beautiful and heartbreaking. I feel like over the years a lot of the feeling has been stripped from this story, but this film really puts heart back into it.

Also streaming on Tubi.

The Witches of Hollywood (2020)

This documentary looks at how witches have been portrayed in films in the United States. This is a pretty narrow focus, but there’s plenty to look at and talk about. I wasn’t a huge fan of the voiceover, but the people they interviewed were interesting, and they showed a lot of film clips. I found a couple films to add to my watchlist. The documentary didn’t go too deeply into film analysis (although there is some of that), instead it focuses on how the witch evolves alongside the progression of culture in United States and responds to the current preoccupations about womanhood. Pretty fascinating, all told.

Any of these films catch your eye? Do you have a favorite movie to watch around this time of year? Let me know in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Freebie


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Happy Halloween!

It’s so strange–as a kid you’re excited about Halloween no matter what day of the week it falls on, but as an adult I feel like I’m usually more excited about the weekend closest to it. This year, our friends threw a party and everyone dressed up as their childhood dream job. I dressed up as an archaeologist a la Indiana Jones, and Paul dressed up like a fighter pilot.

The atmosphere of disguise and pretending to be someone else is my favorite part of Halloween, so in honor of that, here are 10 memorable costumes from my childhood and 10 books to go with them.

Archaeologist—Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones

This book is probably the best (as well as only) book that I’ve read recently that features archaeology as its subject. The protagonist acts as a translator for the dig, helping them secure permission from the government. Also a great love story


Esmerelda—Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies

Oh I loved this costume. My mom didn’t make it, but it was homemade by someone. The cotton fabric had this rich, watery quality to it.

Anyway, I think of Esmerelda as a character who stands up for those in need, even at great personal cost. I can’t think of anyone who exemplifies that more than Miep Gies, who helped hide the Franks with her partner at great personal risk.


Belly Dancer—Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

My family did make this costume. It felt like everyone had a hand in it. Unfortunately we lived in Oregon, which meant I had to basically ruin the costume with layers or I’d get wet from the rain.

This YA book was one of my favorites around this time in my life (5th grade or so). I loved the emphasis it placed on storytelling and the intrigue. The life it depicted was as enchanting as it was disturbing.


Cleopatra—Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff or watch the movie with Elizabeth Taylor

This was probably one of my more memorable costumes. My hair was the right length and the right color to fit all the images you probably have in your mind of the Queen. My makeup was a bit sloppy, but that didn’t matter because I felt incredibly regal.

I like this biography of Cleopatra because it tries to rescue the woman from behind the legend created for her. I also love the movie with Liz Taylor because it does exactly the opposite.


Delores Umbridge—Matilda by Roald Dahl

It would be too easy to choose a Harry Potter book for this character. Instead I chose one with another despicable school administrator.


Bumblebee—Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I don’t really have any memories of this costume, but it’s featured in lots of toddler pictures, so it definitely existed. I chose a book that’s sweet but also stings.


Pink Power Ranger—Bossypants by Tina Fey

Not that Tina Fey would have ever dressed up as a Power Ranger, but the message behind the costume is I will clearly kick your butt while defying all of your expectations–hence Tina Fey’s book.

Did the Power Ranger costume not say that to you? Maybe it’s just me.

Alice—Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This book seems like the perfect counterpart to Alice in Wonderland. Not only does it have a quintessentially English feel (complete with footnotes), there’s also some traveling via mirrors going on. I will rave about this book more later. But it and the show are perfect Halloween reading.


50s housewife—Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

This book is a really interesting look into the mind of a woman who seems to be a perfect 50’s housewife, but is really a person with her own complications, flaws, and concerns.


Snow White—The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

I didn’t actually consider this costume to be a costume for Snow White. My mom and I found a bunch of these pretty German-style costumes at the thrift store, and the three of us (Mom, me and my best friend) went around dressed up as Bavarian beauties or something–we never quite settled on that. But I went dressed up that way to the preschool where my aunt worked, and all the kids called me Snow White, which was flattering.

Anyway, Angela Carter’s not-so-fairy tales are perfect for Halloween or really any time of year.


What was your most memorable costume? Let me know in the comments.

Fairy Tale Adaptations Perfect for Halloween Viewing


As a companion to the post I did yesterday, I thought I’d share some Halloween appropriate movies for the less horror-inclined. There are many to choose from, but to narrow it down, I choose only fairy-tale adaptations. However, I have lots of suggestions, so I’ll have to do another one (maybe a musical post?) next year too.

Here they are, in no particular order (synopses from IMDB)

  • Mirror, Mirror (2012): This is one of my favorite Snow White adaptations because it’s colorful, lighter-hearted, and witty. I yearn for the nectar of your skin… Anyway, I think this version is underrated.

Synopsis: An evil queen steals control of a kingdom and an exiled princess enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright.

  • The Thief and the Cobbler (1993): One of my favorite animated films growing up, this film has plenty of wit and some really great artwork. A spin on the Arabian Nights, this movie is, as Paul says, “weird,” but it’s also so, so great.

Synopsis (there were two, but I liked this one best): Designed in the ’60s, this Arabian Nights fantasy uses expressive animation to detail the story of a shy, near-silent cobbler who tries to win the affections of a distant princess. Meanwhile, the entertainingly evil, rhyme-speaking Grand Vizier Zig-zag tries to win the Princess’s hand, and wages war on the peaceful Golden City. It’s up to a rather odd, unspeaking local thief to set things right by accident.

  • The Red Shoes (1948): A classic! If you haven’t seen this movie, you really should. It’s a great movie at any time, but it’s just the right amount of creepy for Halloween.

Synopsis: A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.

  • Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998): Probably the best film adaptation of Cinderella–at least in my opinion. I mean that adorable Leonardo da Vinci, Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston and those gorgeous costumes…what more could you ask for?

Synopsis: not even worth pasting here. Just think Cinderella, but better, and you’ve got it.

  • Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre (1982): Another holdover from my childhood, these are great if you’re having company, because there are enough bad effects to laugh at, with enough good actors and humor to keep it interesting. They’re also short, so there’s plenty of time to eat and talk in between. Some of my favorites are “The Princess and the Pea,” with Liza Minelli and “Sleeping Beauty,” starring Bernadette Peters. I think you can check these out from libraries, and apparently you can watch them on Hulu.

Synopsis: At a time when most other shows for children were either low-budget productions or product-inspired cartoons that were little more than half-hour commercials, this program set out to produce high-quality classic entertainment that children would enjoy. Much inspired by an earlier children’s program, Shirley Temple’s Storybook (1958) (also known as “Shirley Temple Theatre”), Shelley Duvall hosts this program featuring some of the best-known in Hollywood performing adaptations of traditional stories.

  • Willow (1988): Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a fairy-tale adaptation, but it’s got all the good fairy-tale ingredients and it’s one of my mom’s favorites.

Synopsis: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.

  • Stardust (2007): Again, not an adaptation of a specific fairy-tale, but just think of it as a fairy-tale for grown ups based on Neil Gaiman’s enchanting book.

My synopsis: A young man will gain more than a present for his beloved when he ventures over the Wall to retrieve a fallen star.

  • Princess Bride (1987): I don’t even know how to describe how much I love this film. It’s inconceivable. Side note: the book is great and worth reading too.

Synopsis: While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.

  • Labyrinth (1986): Three words. David. Bowie’s. Pants.

Synopsis: A selfish 16-year old girl is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King.

  • Penelope (2006): Okay, so it’s more of a modern-day take on a fairy-tale concept. There’s still a curse. And self-discovery. And a masquerade.

Synopsis: A modern romantic tale about a young aristocratic heiress born under a curse that can only be broken when she finds true love with “one who will love her faithfully.”

  • Finding Neverland (2004): There are a lot of Peter Pan adaptations that would be great Halloween viewing. But if you’re all alone with a cup of tea and a warm blanket, this might be more your Halloween weekend speed, moving and mellow.

Synopsis: The story of J.M. Barrie’s friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

  • Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013): I think this film mixes its suspense and story elements pretty well for a bounty hunter film. Just good fun.

Synopsis: Hansel & Gretel are bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939): I mean when there’s a movie like this, what else do you need? You owe a lot to Margaret Hamilton if you’ve ever dressed up as a green witch for Halloween.

Synopsis: Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.

Did I leave out your favorite fairy-tale adaptation? What will you be watching on Halloween?

Top Ten Tuesday: Fairy Tale Adaptations Perfect for Not-So-Scary Halloween Reading


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish.

So this week’s topic was a Halloween-inspired freebie, and since I’m not a horror aficionado and have not read nearly enough vampire/werewolf books to come up with ten possibilities, I decided to stick with something I would actually read for Halloween, namely fairy tale adaptations. Fairy tales, with their gruesome, creepy, and eerie atmospheres (not to mention more than occasional witches, ghouls, and other creatures) make perfect reading for this particular holiday, but if you’ve already heavily perused your copy of the Grimm tales, here are some adaptations that might satisfy your fairy tale leanings.

After Hamelin by Bill Richardson–I remember reading this book as a kid and being fascinated by its point of view. It was one of the first books that made me want to write fairy tale adaptations. (Pied Piper)

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth–I just checked this book out from the library, and am excited to read it. I can’t vouch for it yet, but I thought I’d share anyway. (Rapunzel)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik–This book…well it’s hard to describe just how good this one is. I’ll be writing a post on this one soon, but in the meantime, just know you should read it. (Beauty and the Beast)

Once Upon A Time Series by various authors–These YA books are short and sweet, with creative takes on beloved fairy tales. There are a whole bunch of them and you can easily read them in a single sitting. (various)

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C Wrede–An interesting adaptation of an unusual fairy tale.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi– It’s completely different from the original story, yet manages to be just as chilling. (Snow White)

after bitter uprooted once snow boy ella ugly bloody enchant

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (or really anything by her)– Though terrible things happen to her, no one could call Ella a victim. Feisty and intelligent, this heroine will save herself, with or without a prince. (Cinderella)

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (or anything else by him)– Maguire’s unique perspectives on fairy tales show that villains, too, are misunderstood. (Cinderella)

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter– This collection of short stories is true to the nature, the gruesome heart and soul of fairy tales. They’re also exceptionally well-written and awesome. (various)

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card– A rich, vibrant retelling that expands the boundaries of the story. (Sleeping Beauty)

Still looking for something to read for Halloween and not into fairy tales? These are my other Halloween picks:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Suitably depraved.

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Nice and gloomy.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. He turns into a bug. Enough said.

If you liked this post, I’ll have another one up tomorrow that has my movie picks for Halloween–all fairy tale adaptations. What do you like to read for Halloween?

Last Minute Costumes

My Alice costume using the blue full skirted dress below.
My Alice costume using the blue full skirted dress below.

A great costume is the work of planning, effort, and craft skills. But sometimes time has run out, a last minute invitation has popped up, and you need a costume now. Make that yesterday. Luckily, most have something in our closets that can be transformed into a great costume pretty easily with the addition of just one or two pieces and a trip to the thrift store.

So I have for you my top five easy peasy costume ideas. These ideas stand up to Paul’s test, which says that a costume should imitate a specific person, idea, or fictional character, and should not be a generic category like someone from the 60s–it’s better to dress up as Joan Holloway from Mad Men, or Mick Jagger, or one of the Beatles, or Brigitte Bardot.

I’ve selected a single piece from my wardrobe that I think most people also have in their closets, and I’ll give suggestions on what to add to make it a perfect costume.

The Mini Dress


Add white tights and matching heels and all of a sudden you can be Megan from Mad Men or Mary Quant. Add a crazy helmet and a improvised laser gun and be an alien (though this stands up less well to Paul’s test, but you can be a specific space invader). If you love the 60s and have a mini dress you can be pretty much anyone. Find your favorite actress, imitate their hairstyle and don’t forget an outrageous cat-eye and a pale pink lip.

The A-line Dress


I used this blue dress for Alice in Wonderland (just add apron, white tights, and black heels). But this shape is great. You can be anyone from Beaver’s mom vacuuming in pearls to Sophia Loren. If the skirt on your dress isn’t quite so full, but is still sophisticated, try adding a clipboard, glasses, and a cardigan to become the PTA mom, or a party planner. Add dark glasses and a copy of Vogue and you could be Anna Wintour. Add a sketchbook, round glasses, and blunt bangs and go as Edith Head. The A-Line dress is sophisticated and timeless and since so many people wore it, with the right accessories you could be pretty much anyone.

The Little Black Dress


Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly might be one of the easiest and most recognizable costumes to put together. Pile your hair on your head, add a lorgnette and pearls and you’ve transformed. Looking for something a little less done? Try Chanel. Same dress (though longer sleeves work better) with longer pearls, a hat, and a plain cigarette (try candy ones). Add a choker and blue eyeshadow with a more 80s/90s inspired silhouette and become Princess Diana. Add a black pillbox with a veil and become Jackie in mourning. More of a Marilyn? she wore black too.

Your Favorite Slip


My favorite slip costume has to be the Freudian slip. You add a fake mustache and a pipe and you’re good to go. You might be saying “get it?” all night, but I think clever costumes are worth it. If you’re not that into psychology, try Jennifer Garner’s character in 13 going on 30 slip dress outfit–just add a coat and your most “grown up” bag. Your slip might not be designer, but you can dress up like Cher from Clueless anyway. Add a sheer top over a white slip (or slim fitting white dress) and a giant old cell phone–if you really want to get into character.

A Plain Tee


A tee shirt might be the most versatile costume piece there is. You can glue things onto it to create a clever costume, you can cut two holes in the bust and go as Regina George from Mean Girls (don’t forget a colorful bra and mini skirt), you can add a pack of cigarette, blue jeans and a comb and go as James Dean. Check out the list below of iconic t-shirts in film and go crazy.

The most important thing about pulling off a good costume is attitude. You probably don’t look like (you may not even be the same gender) as who you’re impersonating. That doesn’t really matter. A lot of people think they have to have at least the same skin or hair color as the person and that’s not true either (though please be sensitive with your costume choices, just because it’s Halloween does not make it okay to be racist/insensitive/stupid!). More important than hair color is hair style, and more important than color is makeup. It’s the last minute so don’t get too outrageous. Just find something fun and simple to do with things that are already in your closet.

Check out these other last minute costume links below and tell me in the comments what your favorite last minute costume is.

30 T-Shirts on Film lots of easy costume ideas–maybe even group costumes.

Cheap and easy costumes from BuzzFeed

From Studio DIY costumes with balloons (there’s actually lots of good ideas on that site–check their pinterest board)

Pop culture inspiration from PopSugar (450 ideas)

Pinterest has tons and tons of ideas depending on what you’re looking for. Go and waste 15 minutes.

Baking for Bookworms: the Death Day cake from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


They say that even the best laid plans fail. But since my plan wasn’t even closet to being that good, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this cake was basically a complete failure. I’m sorry that this wasn’t posted on time, but I had to come to terms with this cake before I could really write about it.

I mean, it tasted good, but like most of my food it couldn’t be called pretty. Or structurally sound. So this post is less of a how-to-do-it post than a how-not-to-make-your-cake-slowly-droop-and-fall post. The frosting though was lovely, and I’ll include the recipe at the bottom.


The cake in question was inspired by the one that’s served at Nearly Headless Nick’s 500th death day party:

“Look, food!” said Ron.

On the other side of the dungeon was a long table, also covered in black velvet. They approached it eager but the next moment had stopped in their tracks, horrified. The smell was quite disgusting. Large rotten fish were laid on handsome silver platters; cakes, burned charcoal-black, were heaped upon salvers; there was a great maggoty haggis, a slab of cheese covered in furry green mold and, in pride of place, an enormous gray cake in the shape of a tombstone, with tar-like icing forming the words,




Food is such an integral part of life, that it maintains its importance even in death. As Nick tells Harry, he chose to be a ghost rather than move into the afterlife. He calls being a ghost a “feeble imitation” of life. So while he can talk and move about, he is neither here nor there. The lack of eating just reinforces this choice and provides contrast to the students, especially to Ron, who is eating or talking about eating nearly every time he encounters the ghost.

A delicious sheet cake. Who would have known while the peaceful cake was cooling that disaster would soon come?
A delicious sheet cake. Who would have known while the peaceful cake was cooling that disaster would soon come?

There are many ways to recreate this cake for your Halloween party that won’t lead to the same kind of issues that I had. The easiest way would be to bake a sheet cake, cut it in the shape of a tombstone, frost it and call it a day.

But that would have been too easy. And one doesn’t marathon watch Cake Boss (because it’s leaving Netflix) without developing some unrealistic ideas of what can be done with cake. So I wanted a tombstone cake that stood up, and I decided to cover it in fondant and all the rest.

What I only slightly anticipated was how unstable the structure would be, how hard it would be to control the different elements, and ultimately it came tumbling down. I could tell you it was meant to and it added to the decay element present in the source material, but it wasn’t. I figured the skewers I added would provide enough support, but…not so much.

At this point, I should have known that this wasn't going to work.
At this point, I should have known that this wasn’t going to work.

For starters, I should have chosen a different cake. A brownie or a denser cake would have created a better base. Before I’d even layered the cake it was breaking and having huge issues. Because I had to cut it so much, that made it far more difficult to frost.

When they say "dirty ice," I really take it to heart.
When they say “dirty ice,” I really take it to heart.

The thing I liked most about the cake was the fondant I’d made. I bought a white fondant and put a little black food coloring in it, marbling it so that it looked like white marble. But you couldn’t even tell on the final cake, because I put the wrong side down and it didn’t really marble all the way through. I’d also never really worked with fondant before, so I had no idea what I was doing. The fondant was a total fiasco. You can’t see the sides, but I basically had to fold the fondant like gift wrap.

My cake in all its lumpy glory.
My cake in all its lumpy glory.

My piping skills also leave a lot to be desired. To be fair, my piping work as far as writing and doing small design work is limited to maybe two cakes, so I shouldn’t have expected the designs at the top to work out. And while I have more experience painting, the brush was a little too long, the food coloring was a little runny for this application, and I’ve never painted a straight up and down surface (besides a wall, which really isn’t the same thing). I tried to pipe grass on the bottom, but my makeshift pastry bags (out of sandwich bags) broke twice and I just gave up.


I did pipe a few little worms. You can see one in the picture above, along with a close up of the one marble vein that showed through the fondant.


In the end, I basically had a huge meltdown. But I realized that at the end of the day it’s just cake (and even tasted good), and that I can’t expect myself to be an expert cake maker when I haven’t really made that many layer cakes (maybe half a dozen). There are lots of ways you could make a tombstone with cake, this is just not one of them. In the end, it was something I laughed about as we shared the cake with family and my little brother’s friends (who aren’t picky about cake at all). This was a great learning experience for me, and an opportunity to realize that cake, and life, doesn’t need to be taken quite so seriously. It’s no use crying over spilled frosting.

This is my favorite buttercream recipe. It’s super simple, tastes great, is stable, and provides a great base for other flavors. Two batches of this would frost and fill a two layer cake. I had to use four for my monstrosity, including the “grass” at the bottom.

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 7oz. container marshmallow fluff
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) beat butter until fluffy. Add fluff and beat for two minutes on medium. Add the sugar one cup or less at a time, and beat for another two minutes. Add vanilla, and taste the deliciousness.

Because this is such a simple recipe, it’s crucial to use good quality butter and vanilla. You will taste the difference if you don’t use pure vanilla extract.

And here’s a link to the original recipe from Mrs Happy Homemaker.

What was your most epic kitchen disaster? I don’t think this qualifies as mine, as there was a time I blew up a pyrex dish while a making a lasagna for Paul’s birthday, and that was pretty bad…