Sunday, January 24, 2010

I came, I saw, I cruised

Three nights, two work shifts, and an airplane ride from now I will be in Disney World. I know, right?! I get to spend three full days in Disney with ALL my meals taken care of, the freedom to go in every park, and I get to do it all with my best friend. How lucky is this chick?!

BUT WAIT. THERE'S MORE. Once I have finished hurling up my insides from riding the Tower of Terror for 72 straight hours, I get to board the Disney Magic for a 7-day Caribbean cruise. I am so excited for this that I am practically inside out. No, that's a lie...and actually kind of gross...but I am tremendously excited. While I am gone, I plan on experimenting with some iPhone blogging apps to keep family and friends posted on how much fun I'm having in the warm weather, being waited on hand and foot, and strolling the beautiful Caribbean beaches with my toes in the sand....Ah, it will be the life. My inner compulsive traveler will be briefly satisfied before I get hungry for yet another adventure. Anyways, there are quite a few apps that I think sound good, but I think I have to find the (free, obviously) one that works best for me.

Wordpress is clearly one of the first ones to come to most minds. It's a simple way to blog and it comes with geotagging (which I personally find hilarious because they claim to have it but state that it's not yet "human-readable"...what the hell else would I want to read about my location? A parakeet? No). The problem? Well.....if you haven't noticed...this is a Blogspot blog. A lot of people keeeeep trying to get me to make the switch but I just can't handle Wordpress, I'm sorry. I'm trying, though. I've even been working on a little side project to debut this fall if I don't get into a deathly fencing match with our dear pal Wordpress. Overall, I think the Wordpress app is convenient and manageable, but does not make me any more comfortable with the host itself.

TypePad and Tumblr also have blogging apps but we run into the very basic problem of "I don't want to use your blogging service, kind sirs/ma'ams." The only app I have been able to find to cater to Blogger bloggers such as myself is Shozu. It's this beautiful (so I've read), mythical creature that somehow allows you to take care of your Blogspot, Flickr, Youtube, Twitter, child's trust fund, cure for global warming, pocket get my drift. The catch? $4.99. Sorry, no go.

I think what I am going to end up doing is debuting the Wordpress blog a bit early. You see, it's going to be a blog dedicated just to my travels...I'm weird and I kind of want my travel life to be separate from my nerdy/foodie life which I like separate from by science/lab geek I created Veni, Vidi, Edi (I came, I saw, I ate) as a place to talk about where I am, where I am going, and the food and culture that surround those two previous stated locations. I suppose that a Caribbean adventure is as good a time as any to premier such a blog, so if you'd like to follow along on those journeys just check it out :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

My battle with fondant and gumpaste

For those wondering how the Fondant Cake came has been completed!

I have a feeling it's not going to taste too good...the cake pretty much refused to let me finish my crumb coat of icing and just kept crumbling so the inside didn't turn out exactly how I wanted...but at least the outside didn't turn out too shabby! I had to steer away from the polka dots on the bottom layer because I couldn't get the shades to match...the butterflies were already a super pain in the butt. All in all, I'm pretty happy with it :)

I had one hell of a time with the fondant, I won't lie. During my fake cake expedition, I didn't have a lot of trouble...but maaaaaan was this a journey. I foolishly tried to replace butter with canola oil when following a buttercream fondant recipe. The fondant was an oil slick and wouldn't even stick together. When I went back to the grocery store to pick up more supplies it was closed!! At 7:30PM!!! I had to get up early this morning in order to complete the project, and this time decided to go with a marshmallow fondant. MUCH better, might I add, than any other kind of fondant I have made. It was so much easier to make and easy to work with. This has definitely been a learning experience, but mostly I just hope that Izzy has a great 1st birthday, and that her party guests enjoy the cake :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Giveaway? Says who!?

I have had this blog for a year, and have yet to hold a giveaway. It could be because I'm self conscious that nobody with participate...or that I'll make it too difficult...or maybe even too easy. Maybe it is because I never feel like I have an adequate prize to offer. You see, I don't have one of those crazy-popular blogs where companies just send me Haagen-Dazs Five Ice Cream or a few cans of Progresso Soups to give away, so the prizes are all on me.

I'll tell you what I can give you though. Cupcakes. I don't know anyone who doesn't love cupcakes! Especially nerdy cupcakes! So for this contest I will be sending the winner 2 dozen homemade cupcakes- flavor and design of their choice. They can be basic frosted cupcakes, cupcakes with characters on them, cupcakes made to look like they're not cupcakes...really anything you want :) In addition the winner will receive a surprise gift from the Caribbean (the drawing will be held once I return from my vacation there!)


How to qualify:
Leave a comment with link to your blog/facebook/email where I can contact you if you are the winner. This is worth 1 entry.

Additional Entries:
Make sure you comment here with links to your additional entries or I won't be able to count them :(
-Post about this contest on Twitter. 1 entry per tweet.
-Link to this contest on Facebook. 1 entry per link.
-Blog about this contest (with a link to this post). 3 entries
-Correctly identify the video game controllers on the cupcakes above. 1 entry per correct answer (comments will be screened so no one can cheat)

Who wins?
On February 7, 2010, all entries will be submitted to and a winner will be chosen.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Don't Let the Twinkie Outlive You

You remember Fruit Roll-ups, right? Those flat plastic-y snacks by Betty Crocker....made of "fruit" with either the swirly tie-die effect or...if you were super lucky...the punch out shapes that centered around whatever movie or cartoon was big at the time? Yeah! yeah! The ones you could taste for hours because it would somehow mold to the roof of your mouth and leave you tweaking out from sugar withdrawals by the end of recess?! Well, meet their overachiever cousin: the 365 Organic Fruit Strip.

I know as well as anyone that thinking back on childhood snacks is exciting. Dunk-a-Roos, Snack Pack puddings, Gushers, and the previously mentioned Fruit Roll-up. Have you revisited them lately? If so, am I the only one who was severely unimpressed by the quality of food I was consuming? How the hell was that the kind of crap I desired as a kid? I'm sure commercials had something to do with it, but I think it was mostly because the other kids ate them too. Thankfully, while most parents are pumping their kiddos full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings, some folks are getting it right by switching to the healthier versions of the same desired treat. Clearly, most children aren't going to be able to sensibly judge what food is higher in quality through a taste test....Back in elementary school I easily put money on Campbell's Broccoli and Cheese soup as being a healthy lunch. I mean...there's broccoli in it, so it must mean healthy right? Same goes with other key words like "fruit" and "low fat." You can't expect a child to know that a Fruit Roll-up isn't made from real whole fruits...that's why parents need to be the ones to take initiative over their kids' diets.

Anyways, that was a super off-topic segue. 365 Organic Fruit Strips. Lots of people care about organic produce, personally I'm on the fence about the whole topic, but the point is that these snacks are absolutely addicting. I mean really, at $0.50 each, I would almost be willing to drop $20 for a month's supply of them. They look and taste like a sweet, fruit jerky but they don't have that same rip-out-your-fillings texture that a lot different kinds of jerky have...they are actually quite soft! While lists of ingredients on a lot of snacks these days are leaning towards upwards of 20 (and practically incomprehensible) the brief and obvious ingredients of healthier alternatives are almost as satisfying as the snacks themselves.

Why weren't these kinds of snacks given to most children my age? Maybe they weren't available...maybe they weren't affordable...maybe they just weren't convenient. No matter the reason, healthier alternatives are now presenting themselves and taking on each of those challenges head on. It's just up to us to make the right choices for those who aren't yet capable of making them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Measuring Happiness

As with most internet memes, once I am hit by them I cannot help but follow their rules. Of course I don't actually believe that if I don't forward an email to 25 people a haunted widow will gauge out my eyes (nevermind the fact that I lack 25 individual email addresses to forward to...) or that if I spell my name backwards in Notepad my *crush* will notice me...but it's still fun, right?! Anyways, Tina tagged me at her blog...and now the rules state that I need to reciprocate and post the same thing. No ultimatums of midnight ghouls or soul-mate discovery in this one, though, just the self reflection of what makes you happy.


  1. List 10 things that make you happy
  2. Try to do at least one of them today
  3. Tag up to 10 bloggers that brighten your day.

Ten things that make me happy…:

  1. My puppy: There is not very much in this world better than waking up to floppy puppy ears and a cold, wet nose in your face. Watching as Zoey discovers new things, learns routines, and grows is the most rewarding feeling I've experienced. I cannot even imagine what it is going to feel like when I eventually become a mother...for all these things I'm experiencing with my puppy to be happening with a little human that I created. It's gonna be bizarre.
  2. Cooking:, baking, churning, decorating...maybe I should have labeled this as "manipulating food." I very seldom do just one. It all depends on my mood.
  3. Getting mail: These days this mostly involves bills...but when I get something interesting and unique, it makes me happy.
  4. Cleaning kitchen floors: There is something that is just incredibly zen about flooding, scrubbing, and squigy-ing a kitchen floor to me. I can't describe it.
  5. Ice cream: No matter the flavor, the form, the cream always makes it better.
  6. Travel: There are two things in this world that make me the and travel. They go hand in hand, and I cannot get enough of either of them. If I were independently wealthy, I would pay off every bill I have and spend the rest of my life traveling until I physically couldn't do it any longer. I don't want to settle down until I find my perfect place...and how will I know unless I look for it?
  7. My grandparents: I love these two people more than I could possibly love anything.
  8. Stimulating my mind: I love researching, learning, pondering and brainstorming. Something is always being worked out in my head...sometimes it is exhausting but most of the time I enjoy it.
  9. Living with my best friend: I have been living with my best friend(/boyfriend) for over a year and it is the most fun thing ever. Even though we both work a lot, I always know that I can talk to him about anything. My day, my thoughts, my feelings. Last summer I got to live with BOTH my best friends and it was one of the most rewarding experiences. Of course there were ups and downs, but I loved being able to go home and know that my two best friends were right under the same roof.
  10. Sunlight: As much as it sucks waking up early, working mornings is amazing. I get to see the sunrise every morning and feel Vitamin D do it's thing while I'm doing my job. I thrive on sunlight, and without it I am honestly, truly, miserable. You are my sunshine, sunshine.

And the 8 people I am tagging are (and I won't hold it against them if they don't participate...):

1. Terra Bites (even if she has already done it :P)
2. The Messy Baker
3. Crazy Dumbsaint of the Mind
4. Press Start to Begin
5. The DemonWeasel Speaks
6. Elle's New England Kitchen
7. Joy of Desserts
8. Hide the Bagels

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Peter Molyneux and the Fake Cake Caper

At last, a beautiful emulsion of nerd and food are here to tweak your imagination and whet your appetite! No, this is not the announcement of a fan fiction I am beginning or the new autobiography by the previously mentioned videogame creator...the title is merely a clever (there I go again with being clever...) attempt to combine the two topics at hand.

The first being that I have been recently propositioned ( keep reading!) to make a birthday cake for a friend's adorable baby! This cake is going to feature fondant and while I'm very excited this means that I need to practice some more before my big debut. My only other fondant experience occurred in the sweltering summer heat which resulted in runny fondant, smearing colors, and a mysterious bear hiding in the grass.

Therefore, I decided to spend a portion of my day off creating fondant and decorating a cake pan with it. Why a cake pan? Because I'm certainly not going to bake an entire cake and waste all those precious and valuable ingredients for some Play-Skool Fun n' Fondant adventure, that's why.

All in all, I think my fake-cakes turned out okay. I still am having some trouble keeping my polka-dots round and my fondant from tearing. I used homemade fondant which is slowly but surely making me contemplate purchasing ready-made fondant from the store. It would already be the desired consistency, and I would have more than enough to use for the entire cake...which BTW is supposed to look like this:
Now, I am MUCH better at drawing than I am at cake decorating which isn't saying much since I have no drawing talent whatsoever. In addition to this fondant practice, I have to attempt to make butterflies out of gumpaste. On top of THAT I have to make said butterfies sturdy enough to be able to stick up off the cake with fishing wire. Am I in over my head here? I don't freakin' know, I'm the one who put myself here in the first place! I am, however, incredibly excited. I also have been offered the opportunity to make a friend's wedding cake this summer (if they don't change their minds after seeing the baby-cake!) so I want to become really good at this by then. Therefore, if anybody at all needs a fondant cake done...just let me know. I don't charge obscenely...I literally only ask that you pay for the ingredients (and I cost out the recipes so that you are paying for the 4c. of flour used rather than the whole 5lb bag). I am up for any possible practice!

But what does this have to do with Sir Molyneux you ask? Well, as I'm sure you're already aware...I am quiiiite a fan of a little game called Fable 2. As I recall, that text I hyperlinked was actually the 2nd blog entry I had ever written in my entire life. Hmm. Anyways! Point being, Molyneux has officially announced Fable III. How excited am I?!?!?! Not very. Actually, I am less excited about this than I ever thought possible. Daddy Fable basically said that he reconstructed the entire CONCEPT of an RPG. Of course, he likes money just as much as the rest of us and did not state what he meant (why the hell would you buy the game if you knew all the answers, right?) however, he did reveal that the character you play as is the son/daughter of the Hero in Fable II. Also, that the game revolves around overthrowing and becoming King/Queen of Albion. What turns me off about that idea? A few key words that he included; "helping," "taxes," and "keeping promises." Huh? I play video games to get away from all that real-life bullshit!

At his most recent Portland, ME concert, MC Chris said that he hated playing Left 4 Dead with people who just hide in the closet and wait for the Tank to die. "You're already hiding from real life," he said, "You can't DOUBLE HIDE!" That quote is what I think of this setting for Fable III and what my problem is with so many Wii video games...if you can get off your ass and do it in real life...why waste hours in front of the TV doing the same thing? I'm hoping that this game surprises me, but if not? At least I didn't have high hopes from the beginning.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The whole "New Year's" thing

I've never really been one for "New Year's Resolutions." I think that I should constantly be reflecting, assessing, and creating goals throughout my life and not just once a year. While I already have some goals that I have set in motion for this coming year, I am going to follow Tina's example and write them down...that way I not only have people around to keep me to them, but I also can mark things off as I accomplish them!

Oddly, she had a lot of the same goals I don't think I'm a copy cat! We're just both nerdy chicks who like food and want to explore the world, okay? Okay. I encourage you to create your own goals...not in honor of this brand new year (which we are going to have in another 365 days anyways, so I don't really get what makes it so special...) but in order to challenge yourself. Is a year not enough time? Make a bucket list or something...those are fun you your whole life as a time frame, but try not to make that an excuse to procrastinate ;)

With that! This year I plan to:

In regards to Travel:
Cruise the Eastern Caribbean
Hike the E1 Long Distance Trail
Begin WWOOFing
Host & be the guest of at least 1 couchsurfing experience

In regards to Blogging:
Develop more unique ice creams for Ice Cream Alchemy over the summer
Create Veni, Vidi, Edi; a travel blog for whenever I'm away
Share my cooking and eating experiences more here at Byte Size
Experience more video games and contribute more video blogs about them

In regards to Health:
Visit a doctor
Begin doing yoga and meditation
Eat more macrobiotic food

In regards to Finances:
Complete my current lease
Pay off my credit cards
Maintain a long term savings plan

Now we just see how much of that I will actually achieve :-P


My puppy is one year old today :)

April 2009 (Zoey...then called "Madison" 3 months)

January 5, 2010 (Zoey at 1 year)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

[ch]Eating with Macrobiotics

So I have been recently looking into the macrobiotic diet. I hate the word "diet" because anytime I have ever said it people jump all over me, call me names like "skinny" or tell me not to be ridiculous. No, no, no...everyone has a "diet." It's a word with about five definitions, including:

1 a : food and drink regularly provided or consumed b : habitual nourishment c : the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason d : a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight diet>
2 : something provided or experienced repeatedly

People just always tend to assume that when I speak of a diet, I'm trying to lose weight rather than adjust definitions a., b., or c. To me, macrobiotics seems to be less of a "eat this, not this" and more of an overall realization and acceptance of the food one ingests and how it effects your body/soul/mind. Throughout this whole research mode I have been consulting Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics which basically puts this entire, ancient practice into layman's terms for me. It's a grand, magnificent balance of yin and yang...connecting yourself to the earth by consuming foods that comes directly from it. What I like most about this is that it directly ties into the eating experiment I tried in 2009...eating locally.

While I'm not morally a vegetarian or vegan (I'm sorry, but I get too much joy out of portioning a salmon filet or grinding up meat for sausage or breaking down poultry...) there are things I have started to cut out for my own health. Of course, they happen to be two of my greatest weaknesses: dairy and red meat. As far as dairy is concerned, I have started small. There's is no way this ice cream addict can fully cut out frozen dairy goodness so I have begun with cheese and milk. Impossible? Almost. Cheese is everywhere. It's delicious and creamy and meltable and spreadable and there is really no way to avoid it altogether but I try. Red meat has been a little easier because in the meantime I have replaced it with pork. Luckily I will probably get tired of my little piggy friends and be strictly poultry soon enough, but it's all a process.

As far as the mind/body aspect of the macrobiotic lifestyle, that part is needing some adjusting as well. I hope to begin yoga and meditation at some point, and have already started walking more. We will see where this takes me, but in the meantime I'm still in the education part of it all. I may have cut out beef tenderloin, but there's no way I'm rubbing any fat man's belly for enlightenment...just sayin'.