Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Make Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween presents a great opportunity to dress up food as well as people, and one of the easiest ways to do this is with cupcakes. Halloween cupcakes can range from simple desserts--topping a cupcake with a small candy pumpkin, to turning a cupcake into a cockroach. Mahalo did a video series on Halloween cupcakes this year, and while reviewing them, I was reminded of my favorite way to decorate pumpkin cupcakes. These pumpkin cupcakes take only minutes to frost and decorate- and you probably have everything you need in the kitchen already.

What you need:

*Cupcakes of your choice, cooled and ready to be frosted
*Container of vanilla frosting
*Orange food coloring
*Orange decorating sugar
*Pretzel rods, broken into short pieces about 1" long

Step 1: Scrape the container of frosting into a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Add several drops of food coloring, and combine with an electric mixer until blended. Repeat if the color isn't dark enough, continuing until you're happy with the hue.

Step 3: Mound frosting on the cupcake, smoothing the top as much as possible.

Step 4: Roll each cupcake in decorating sugar.

Step 5: Use a bamboo skewer to draw segments radiating out from a bit off center of the cupcake. (A toothpick will make too thin a line).

Step 6: Insert a piece of pretzel rod where the segments meet.

If you feel like trying out Mahalo's version, you can check out their video tutorial on How to Decorate Pumpkin Cupcakes here.

Would You Like to Dance Like the Stars?

Mondays evenings find me curled up on the couch watching Dancing With the Stars. (Well, most times I'm also working, but I can see the screen over my laptop) My dance experience is limited to the modern dance lessons with had in gym class back at Sacred Heart Academy, but I enjoy watching. It was tough to understand to understand the technical nuances, however, until Mahalo did a series of dance "how tos" that I was able to read while doing quality control. Here's a sample of the pages that will help you with the Foxtrot. Perhaps Kyle Massey should have taken a peek before last week's episode?

There are similar pages for all the major dances: the Jive, the Waltz, the Viennese Waltz, the Samba, the Salsa, the Tango, the Rumba, the Argentine Tango, and the Quickstep. There are also special pages such as How to Dance in a Night Club and How to Dance at the Prom.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Merging Work and Play

This week, I've been reviewing a number of movie pages in my job as Quality Control manager at Mahalo. Pages about movies, pages about movie trailers, pages about movie reviews. Movies that were released decades ago, current movies, movies that will be released in the future. I scrutinized facts, hunting down obscure facts that the writer hadn't been able to find, checking write-ups for accuracy, reading plot summaries, and locating additional reviews for pages. After having thought about movies all week, I began craving the real thing. I started feeling like a chocolate addict who could only view the Godiva truffles through the window. I needed an actual "movie fix."

It was 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon. As a freelancer, I have some flexibility to my day - and I'd been working since 7 a.m., so felt I was due a break. I checked movie times, and by 3:10 I was heading up route 495 on my way to go see Hereafter. I'd viewed the trailer, and read the reviews, but was still not prepared for the intensity of the tsunami at the beginning of the movie. Teh three separate stories worked well, and I felt the ending was perfect. There are no easy answers in the movie- just a well crafted look at the questions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Week on Mahalo

I've been managing Quality Control at Mahalo since July, which has enabled me to read lots of great information about different topics. Some of the pages I review I have only a professional interest in, some introduce me to to topics I would never learn about otherwise, but some tap into a true passion. When I started at Mahalo in July 2007, I did so with hopes of building out the History vertical. I was able to write many History pages, but soon was assigned other tasks, and history languished. So, I was overjoyed two weeks ago when a new guide began the task of filling gaps in the History pages, including this great page on Edward VI of England.

Freelance writers at Mahalo can create the topics for up to half of the pages they write themselves. This means that you are not restricted to a boring list of titles created for SEO purposes, the way you are on certain unnamed content sites. If you want to delve deeply into the Tudors- there's a place for you. If you are a sports fanatic- there's a place for you as well. You can write about what you love! If you're interested in becoming a freelance writer at Mahalo, and rediscovering your passion, you can apply here