By her own admission Lehi’s Jen Jake is a seasoned fangirl.
What exactly is a fangirl? As Jen describes it: Someone “dedicated to things and people I admire." Jen takes her inner fangirl on the road seeking opportunities to meet the actors she admires.
The 27-year-old social worker has been “flying to New York to see Stephen Colbert at his show for years now,” Jen says. She’s traveled to see Norman Reedus, known for his role in the TV series “The Walking Dead,” and recently she visited actor Martin Freeman for the “The Hobbit” movie premiere.
“All were very, very gracious,” Jen says, “though none of my experiences with any of them could hold a light to what I was able to share with B.J. Novak.”
Jen idolizes Novak. Known for his role as the intern on the popular NBC sitcom "The Office," he was also one of the writers for the series. Jen flew to Dallas last month to see Novak speak about his newly released book, “One More Thing,” at the Dallas Museum of Art.
She baked specially crafted sugar cookies to present to Novak and was invited backstage to meet him before his museum presentation. (See recipe below.)
In honor of Novak's book -- a compilation of short stories -- Jen's sugar cookies were shaped and decorated around a theme of one of those stories, “From the story about a red shirt, a mirror the size of Earth, to a story about what happened when the tortoise rematched the hare,” says Jen. “I tried to get as creative as possible and to add a little bit more showmanship. They were delivered in a box decorated as the book jacket.”
Jen’s been a fan since the early years of “The Office” and has followed his projects during and after the show aired. “I’ve admired his work as a writer and absolutely loved his book,” she says. “When I found out he was doing a book tour, I knew I had to find some way of attending.”
From her blog she wrote about her cookie project. “I spent hours at kitchen stores gathering supplies and ingredients. Two days before I left, I started on the big project. With minutes to spare until I had to leave my home in Utah to catch my flight, I finished them. Wrapped securely in bubble wrap and placed in a box fashioned like the book jacket for ‘One More Thing,' I lugged them through the airport.”
Novak was “blown away” with the cookies and her efforts, and spent 20 minutes with Jen and a friend. She didn’t just fly home, she “floated” home, says Jen.
As a fangirl she likes to thank people for the impact they have on her life. “Most assume it is done out of the simple desire to be near fame, but for me it’s much more personal than that,” Jen explains. “Six months ago my dad was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then he has been either in hospital care or at home recuperating from treatments. As his primary caregiver ... it’s not hard to imagine the stress this entails.”
During hospital stays Jen and her dad watched seasons of “The Office.” When Novak’s book came out, Jen read stories from it to cheer up her father. “Cancer is a fickle adversary and with the constant ups and downs it has been nice to have something light-hearted like the show or even the movie, ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ which B.J. was also a part.” She feels Novak brings light to some of her family’s dark times.
Baking cookies comes naturally to Jen. As a youngster she remembers being fascinated with the pastry tips her mother used to decorate wedding cakes. “It’s my favorite hobby and sugar cookies have no creative barriers,” she says. “You can always make it into something new.” As for cooking actual food, “I am quite rubbish at it!”
She enjoys sewing and making jewelry, anything creative makes her happy. “I’ve been a geek over ‘Lord of the Rings’ and Marvel comics for decades now,” she adds. Jen likes the possibilities of blogs: “Bringing people together to share ideas, opinions on topics or experiences.”
Jen is one of seven children, born in New Mexico, but now loves Utah, especially Lehi where she’s lived for five years. She manages a group home for people with disabilities.
Jen shares her sugar cookie recipe, “one that can withstand the abuse of some heavy duty decorating which is usually my main agenda!” It will always remind her of her 20 minutes backstage with Novak, who she says, “has inspired me to work harder at the things worth working at.”
Was the actor all she had imagined? “Better than I ever even dreamed!”
Jen’s Sugar Cookies
Yields: 5 dozen
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 3 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (or more!)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4-5 cups all purpose flour
Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla. Stir in baking powder and salt, then add flour slowly one cup at a time. (Should be consistency of kneaded play dough).
Roll cookies out on surface sprinkled with a blend of flour and powdered sugar.
Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 6-8 minutes.
Cook’s notes: Because I seek a firmer cookie, the flour content has the possibility of being overpowering. To balance that I divide the dough into two parts.
Lightly coat them in powdered sugar, cover and chill in the fridge at least two hours. If dough isn’t chilled the results won’t be the same.