Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Chip Pancakes with Cranberry Topping

Luckily the cold weather has inspired Jacob to become my personal husband-gone-cooking-machine. It's pretty awesome because 1. I have been eating absurdly well and 2. the cooking bug has slightly affected me as well. Mostly in the way where I am mad about making breakfast every morning despite the fail-proof event of my stomach wanting more food an hour later. However, I find it worth the hassle, especially since it is now pumpkin time. Jacob and I have horded an incredible amount of pumpkin puree. You see, we had the full intention of making pumpkin pie from scratch until we realized that I have far too many knitting orders to complete (if you're saying "whaaa?": click here) and not enough time to create 4 glorious, shimmering pumpkin pies and decided to, instead, ingest mass quantities of various other pumpkiny goods.

Know what else November means? Cranberry sauce. You see, I can make as much cranberry sauce as I please because it's literally a 5 minute process- water, sugar, crans, boilboilboil, fridge. It was only a matter of time before we discovered that pairing cranberry sauce with pumpkin pancakes was like almost the same amount of awesome as pairing a shirtless Ryan Gosling with any movie role ever. So we decided to get a little crazy.

I discovered dairy free eggnog at Whole Foods yesterday which went from being potentially the most amazing invention ever to being practically this holidays greatest disappointment. It's made with rice milk (which is great) it sort of tastes like eggnog (which is also great), however, it is the consistency of water and therefore YUCK. We decided to just go wild and make lattes from it to go with the incredible pancake madness that awaited us. This recipe is pretty much awesome- it's pretty thick so once you put the batter down, you have to carefully spread it out. Also, it refrigerates well and lasted us each 3 separate breakfasts. Note: it is dairy free but NOT vegan. It can easily be made vegan if you use egg substitute or some good old flax seeds.

Pumpkin Chip Pancakes with Cranberry Topping
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine. Add chocolate chips.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
  3. Cover with cranberry topping and top with whipped cream substitute of your choice.
Cranberry Topping
12 oz. cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in sauce pot and boil until cranberries are soft and mixture is thick.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter's Calling

For as long as I can remember I have loathed winter. Even in high school, after learning how to snowboard (and despite loving it), I still could not properly cope with the fact that it was going to be THAT freaking cold for THAT freaking long. When Jake and I planned our trip to Europe last year, many people asked why we were leaving in late September. My answer was always, "because I would like to avoid winter in Maine at all cost." "But you know there will still be winter in Europe, right?" they would retort, to which I would state, "Yes, but at least when I'm freezing in the snow I will be surrounded by something beautiful and new." And it was true.

Last winter, I spent a lot of my time coughing my lungs off with bronchitis, washing dishes, and hanging laundry. However, I also spent a lot of time learning to knit. Probably one of the main reasons I kept my sanity in those wacky, cozy sheds, was the fact that Seona had taught me something useful and creative. Since returning home, I hadn't really felt much urge to continue knitting. In the spring, I made some fingerless gloves for a few friends, knitted a few pairs of baby booties, but I never felt the need to knit like I did in England. Until this fall.

Roughly a week before the wedding it started getting absolutely frigid. I went to the yarn shop and stocked up on yarn, and started in on a couple of projects. This week, however, it has hit me full boar. Not only am I feeling the need to knit, I am feeling the need to knit CONSTANTLY. I daydream about Catherine Hill in Frome, the wool shop in Wells, and I just become so unbelievably depressed. Don't get me wrong, KnitWit is absolutely wonderful, but something about the yarn shops I went to in England - they are a comforting memory, and knitting at home is a way to deal with missing Frome and the Chapmans.

With this knitting compulsion also comes the comforting fact that I want to keep learning. Having had my grandfather's flax wheel in the apartment for 8 months, I am just itching to take spinning lessons. What an amazing coincidence that the lessons are only held on my days off! How odd, that this is the first year in which I am not dreading the Maine winter.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Free Music for Reception

As soon as we set the date, Jacob and I began going through our itunes library to construct our epic wedding playlist. We went through each artist and chose the songs that we felt 1. were lyrically appropriate 2. we absolutely adored 3. were dance-able and 4. were appropriate to the theme of getting married (which is why, sadly, no Adele made it to the playlist). We knew that our reception was only going to be 2 1/2 hours long, but we made sure to have over 3 hours of music to make way for any song skipping, non-groovy choices, or just an unexpected time shift.

Once we chose all the songs, we spent an evening sorting them by priority and which songs we thought transitioned best with one another. We went by the standard of 3 dance songs, 1 slow song alternating. In a separate playlist we placed the songs for our first dance, father/daughter dance, and mother/son dance to be queued after dinner. We chose not to play music during dinner because everyone seemed to be enjoying their conversation, and I didn't think it would be a good idea to drown it out with music. On the day itself, we had our playlists on an ipod, plugged into some speakers that a friend let us borrow. Once the ceremony was over, one of my bridesmaids began the playlist, and we just took it from there- walking out to I Would Do Anything For You by Foster the People. Music was obviously turned off for the speeches, and we had designated certain people to announce different parts of the reception (flower toss, first and last dance, etc).

And that is how we spent $0 on our wedding reception music.

For the precession, our friend Andi Fawcett played a cover of City & Colour's As Much As I Ever Could acoustically. Not only did the timing of our walk to the pavilion from the main building worked perfectly with the verses of the song, it is also one of our favorite songs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Decorations and Floral

Pretty much all of our ideas for decorations came from a variety of DIY blogs. Young House Love, 100 Layer Cake, and primarily My DIY Wedding Day were my main resources. The first thing I knew I wanted was to have crudite/cheese plates on every table. One pet peeve I had always experienced with weddings were that people expected you to sit still during the speeches while you're starving your ass off with nothing to munch. I wanted to cure that immediately by providing people with food at their tables and no effort on their part. Next, I knew I wanted mason jars with buttons to be involved with the centerpieces. The night Jake proposed, he brought me an orange and blue bouquet of daisies and hydrangeas and I immediately decided that those would be our colors and flowers.

(gerbera daisies for the larger arrangements)

Sarah, the creative soul that she is, volunteered to make paper hydrangeas for the centerpieces. She somehow read my mind because I had been wanting to have paper flowers but had no idea how I would make them. Life saver that she is, she took to the task and executed it flawlessly. We got our jars between visiting flea markets and Goodwills, and bought big tubs of buttons from Michael's for $6 per tub. 4 tubs were enough to get me through. My bouquet was a combination of paper and cloth flowers wrapped in ribbon and adorned with a sparrow charm. The same sparrow was used in Jake's boutonneire inspired by this design. The sparrows were used to reflect our use of Dallas Green's "As Much As I Ever Could" for the precession.

Knowing that I would not want to be throwing my paper bouquet (as it was also full of pins!) and that I could hardly expect Sarah to create 7 dozen paper hydrangeas, I also decided to get my hands on some gerbera daisies. 1/2 dozen of these would be used in my throwing bouquet, while the others would be used in the larger flower arrangements throughout the reception. The most difficult part of the decorations was that we were not allowed to see the reception hall until Jake and I were let in. I could tell Sarah every detail I wanted (I even created blueprints for how the tables needed to be arranged), but Jake and I were not allowed to see any of the decorating. As for the bouquets that Sarah and I walked down the aisle with, we had a girls night dedicated to a cloth flower frenzy at AC Moore where we gathered a ton of gorgeous orange, purple, and blue faux flowers to go around the paper hydrangeas. I am so happy with how they turned out, and better yet, that I get to keep my bouquet forever.

(memory table)

For our guestbook, I desperately wanted to do something untraditional. Because travel is something that has brought Jake and I through so much as a couple, we went on a mad hunt for vintage postcards. We then provided the guests with these postcards to write their well wishes on and place in an old suitcase. I don't know what we will do with them, but they look so much cooler than just a book. The best part is that most of the postcards are from places we have been together. We placed this setup on our memory table next to some wedding photos of our parents and grandparents.

Wedding Cake

Originally we had very much wanted to do a Build Your Own Cupcake bar inspired by this blog. After realizing that is would not be at all feasible to have 50 people gathering around one table, we decided to bring the decorating to them. Since we were already going to have the crudite centerpieces, we decided to create a second group of trays for our food runner to change out before the cake was cut. These trays would have various toppings- sprinkles of varying colors and shapes, m&ms, reese's pieces, etc. for everyone to use as they wished on their cupcakes.

We had also originally planned on having a giant cupcake at the top for Jacob and I, but after a brutal first-run, we decided that it would be better to go with a different plan. Luckily enough, as we were leaving the town hall freshly applied to marry and absolutely giggly, some cream horns caught my eye through the window of Foley's Bakery in Monument Square. We went in for some celebratory pastries, and while inside we fell in absolute love with the tiny chocolate mousse cake in the display case. We promptly placed our order, and that Saturday picked up our little cake for $16. It was seriously the most delicious cake I have ever eaten. Though I was a bit busy smashing it in my husband's face to taste it the first time, we ate the rest at our hotel later that night and I was reassured that we had made the right decision.

As for the cupcakes, they turned out beautifully. Jacob's aunt is an amazing baker, and whipped up 75 blue, orange, and purple frosted cupcakes that looked absolutely stunning. Perched on top of the cake were two bird salt and pepper shakers that we had bought through a shop on Etsy. Unfortunately the shop no longer exists, but we managed to grab a couple of the last birds they sold before leaving Etsy. We got the bare birds and Sarah decorated them for us with our colors. As thank yous to our parents and friends, we got more bare birds and painted them ourselves for them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


We debated for a long time on whether or not we would have our reception catered. In the beginning, it was really not a priority- Jake and I are both experienced in cooking, and we figured we would just save the hassle and do it ourselves. After realizing how much we already had on our plate (haha), we decided to look at some affordable options for catering. We looked at deli's around town, but it wasn't really the vibe we were going for. There was no way we were going to have someplace like Amato's or Subway cater our wedding, again, as food service folk we had our dignity to uphold! That is not to say that deli's or chain businesses are not suitable for catering- in fact they might be the perfect fit for your wedding and your budget, however, it was not the perfect fit for us.

The day after our engagement, we stopped by a new place in town called Exchange Street Cafe. They have typical American Italian food for pretty reasonable prices, but what came as the shock to us was that it was all handmade. We had anticipated precooked or frozen food, not real homemade stuff. As we ordered, one guy in the back was rolling meatballs while the other was dredging eggplant for Parmesan. The food was amazing- it definitely made an impression, so we took a shot in the dark. "Do you do catering?"

Turns out, they had just started pulling together a catering menu and were looking for some business to get it rolling. Catering in Portland is just as competitive as in-restaurant dining I'd say, and I'm pretty sure Black Tie has the market right now. Heck, before I asked these guys, I was positive I would have to spend $5000 to go with Black Tie or have no caterer at all! Paul and Ricky were great, though. From the very beginning, we were exchanging phone calls. I'd tell them what I wanted, and they would one-up my expectations. They designed a menu that not only fit my budget, but also my estimated number of guests, timeline, and the diet of my guests.

As you may have read in my previous entry, we redid the labels on two cases of our favorite wine for the our alcohol. We also had our favorite tea shop Homegrown Herb and Tea create a special blend of tea for us to have brewed at the reception, as well as to use in our guest favors. For those who wouldn't care to have wine, there was also soda available in large a large blue tub of ice. Including the champagne for the toast our beverage expenses totaled $150. And that's including the sweet vessel we bought to put the iced tea in! Unfortunately, after we brewed all the tea, we realized the nozzle hadn't been screwed on properly so we had to chug the tea and use the vessel for ice water (which was actually pretty great).

I knew from the beginning that instead of passed h'ordeurves I wanted to have vegetable and cheese platters as a part of the centerpieces. My #1 gripe whenever I have catered weddings has been watching guests mumble hungrily through the speeches, waiting for the food line to begin. I wanted our guests to be able to sit, munch, chat, and enjoy themselves before we were announced, and to be able to eat during the speeches without feeling rude. For $50 we made it happen- plastic serving trays from iParty, and a variety of cheeses, veggies, and grapes from Whole Foods (with lots of extra food left over btw!). This is also how we were able to incorporate our cupcake decorating station that you can read about later.

My recommendation is that if your venue will let you choose your own caterer, go to your favorite restaurants and ask them if they cater. Ask around town for recommendations, and scope out new and growing restaurants who might be interested in developing a catering menu. You really never know until you ask.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Invitations, Announcements & Posters

We were fortunate enough to have an expert card maker as my Maid of Honor, so the main costs of our invitations were the postage and raw materials. We designed our invitation suite in Photoshop along with the rest of our paper materials. For the invitations we ended up getting them printed at Kinkos for pretty cheap. We fit 6 invitations to a page, and printed 8 pages for a total of $11 on cardstock.

As we began creating more paper items, I invested in a paper slicer for $12 at Staples, 100 sheets of cardstock for $9, and began printing things myself. Looking back, maybe we should have made this investment sooner, but at the time it was just was just easier to go with Kinkos. We made postcards as our RSVPs so our return postage was much less than if we had sent cards with envelopes. I think that in total we spent $80 in postage between announcements, invitations, and RSVP postcards. In total , our invitation/announcement/paper product spending was around $150.

Beverages were a tough decision, but in the end we thought it would be best to stick to wine only for alcohol. We got a few cases of our go-to wine company, and made our own labels in Photoshop to reflect our sense of humor and wedding design.

Programs were irrelevant for our wedding because we chose to do a short ceremony with no readings. Our credit for the musician who performed during the ceremony went into the favors that everyone received at the reception (a slip with a shout out and thank you). As for placecards, you can read about them here.

Our thank you cards turned out to be easy and fun as well. We used one of the photos from our engagement shoot and ordered 100 custom postcards through VistaPrint. Not only were the postcards very affordable, but they also reflected the well-wishes table postcards that our guests wrote on for us at the reception.

Dressing the Groom

I was more stressed out in figuring out Jacob's attire than my own, to be honest. Neither of us liked the idea of buying a tuxedo, let alone renting one. Since our wedding wasn't "black tie" we chose a more affordable route. Jake really liked the idea of buying a suit so that he could always have it, and I really liked the idea of having a lighter color to match the theme of the wedding. Therefore, we came up with the following perfect puzzle-pieced suit.

(Jacob walking the mothers down the aisle)

First we purchased his jacket at Goodwill for $4.00. We chose this stop first because the jacket is easily the most expensive aspect of the suit, and it would be much easier to match pants to jacket than vice versa. Jake chose a jacket that had barely been worn, and fit perfectly. Next we picked up his matching dress pants at Macy's for $49- we brought the jacket in and matched it to every pair until we found the right color. We picked up some cologne on the way out ($60) because when would there be a more appropriate time to indulge? For his dress shirt, JC Penney was having a sale and he managed to grab it for $20, which was a deal considering the whopping $40 is spent on his tie at Express (but so worth it!). Shoes were proving to be a pain so we bought a pair off Zappos! for $40. In total (including cologne and shoes) Jake's look cost $213, and is a suit he will have for a long, long, time.

For the boutonniere, my maid of honor (who is also his sister), Sarah, pulled together an adorable paper arrangement inspired by this article my My DIY Wedding Day. It incorporated everything we needed- buttons, sparrows, our colors, and Paris (we honeymooned in France). I'm not at all surprised at how perfect the boutonniere turned out, afterall Sarah was also the one who created our invitations and my amazing paper bouquet and arrangements.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wedding Bands

This was by far the most discouraging part of planning the wedding. Everyone kept telling me that they were able to find their bands for less than $100 each, yet everywhere I went couldn't quote me a price less than $300 a pop. I searched on Etsy and found a couple of options. There were some gold-filled rings that would be around $100 each with engraving, but there was no telling how they would react with my skin/if they would turn green. Finally, I gave up and went to the mall. I tried GM Pollack & Sons first, having heard great things (plus the 70% off posters sounded good at the time), just to find out that I would still be looking at a $500 total.

My friend had told me that she and her husband had gone to Kay, so I dragged Heather with me and sat down in their very short chairs. I was immediately relieved to see a catalog- at last someplace that would actually show me their prices without leading me on first. I saw that they had women's rings for as low as $109 and men's for as low as $79. I pointed these out to the woman, and she brought them out for me to take a look at. They were perfect. Exactly what we were looking for. They needed to be resized, so she sent them out, cashed me out for a total of $200 (including a lifelong guarantee on both rings), and sent me on my way. A week later they were done! Even better- I had brought my engagement ring in a few days later to be resized and they had that back the same day as my bands.

While my service the second time was a little bit pushier, my first experience is the reason I will keep going back there. They were very affordable, and the woman who had helped me was so willing to help in any way she could. I highly recommend Kay!

Mason Jar Placecards

Since our centerpieces are going to be ball jars filled with buttons and paper hydrangeas (and because I saw them on Etsy) we decided to go ahead and make some of our own. I feel like I could get yelled at for this, so here are a few disclaimers:

1. This is not an original idea by me. I found these at a great shop called ohmelisa. If you do not want to spend the 8 hours handmaking your placecards, she has amazing custom ones available for a spectacular price. Ordering from her will get you the same look for a lot less stress on you!
2. PLEASE do not copy this and sell them yourself, it's just plain rude. I will not be selling any of the ones I make- I just want to share this crafting recipe with other low-budget brides.

Anyways, on with the show. I scoured the internet for that mason jar stamp and found out that it was for sale at Michael's. I managed to snag the VERY LAST ONE for $11, and after debating with myself for a good 10 minutes (meanwhile pee-dancing like crazy) I decided it would be worth it in the long haul. I dug into my huge jar of buttons, gathered up my modge-podge, and unrolled my kraft paper- and we were open for business (the figurative kind of business where you don't actually sell anything.) As previously mentioned here are the tools you will need for this project:

a roll of kraft paper
mason jar stamp (found at Michael's)
needle & thread (I only had sewing thread, but I recommend embroidery thread!)
newspapers to lay down

Lay your newspapers down. I had very thin kraft paper so I had to cut strips long enough to fold over. If you have thick strips, however, you can just cut them to the desired size. Anyways, cut out your kraft rectangles and stamp them with the mason jar.If thin paper, sew your buttons onto the top side of the kraft paper (where you can see the stamp) and glue the two sides together (thread should be inside this little glued mess). If you have thick paper, skip the glue part. Cut your placecards down to size, and add names & table numbers above the buttons.

NOTE: Do not store these in stacks with elastics around them, or you might have a last minute panic because they will look slightly wrinkled and you may or may not decide to scrap the idea and come up with a brand new one two days before the wedding.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Affordable Dresses & Accessories

I knew right off the bat that I did not want the traditional flowing gown for my wedding. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am clumsy, and I do not need an extra 20lb of fabric around my buttocks to prove that point. I wanted to get a dress that was longer than knee-length, but not all the way down to the ground. The first places I checked were local- Spoil Me! in Falmouth (way out of my budget), Material Objects (not the style I was looking for), and every Goodwill in a 20mile radius. After that I took a peak at some of the dresses on Ebay- I found several that I loved but was very concerned about shipping times since my wedding would only be 2 months away.

Then my mom sent me to where I fell in love with how easy it was to browse through dresses. I found 3 options that I really liked, and one that I knew was THE dress. I ordered it immediately, opted for the $35 express shipping, and played the waiting game. Now, I didn't realize until AFTER that they include a 15 day "processing" before shipment because they are physically creating the dress as soon as you order it. My dress only took 7 days to process, and another 2 days before it was on my parents' doorstep. As I'm sure every bride fears- it didn't fit. Luckily for me it was too big, so it would be an easy fix.

I called Old Port Tailoring and Alterations and was able to bring it there that afternoon. She stuck some pins in, and told me to come back in a week with $24. Sure enough, a week later my dress was done. It was perfect- didn't look like it had even been touched and yet fit like a glove. So far my bill for attire had come to $200.97 and the dress was complete. I wanted to have bright shoes that *popped* so I ordered a pair online from Aldo. They have a shop with limited selection at the Mall, but online they have shoes in every color with *freeeee shipping!* - $43.21

I got my garters (decorative garter + toss garter together were $18.95) online through Etsy at
hellodesigncrew and my birdcage veil from beautilulartist for $22.79.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Things in 2011 that I have loved

Let me start by saying that I am not hugely a fan of the "new blogger interface" that I just clicked on. When did Blogger come Wordpress? Seriously? I have missed talking about pointless things that I do and do not care about, so as I am sitting here on one of the few non-married evenings left I have decided to do just that. Well, mostly just going over what I DO care about. Who needs all that negativity anyways.

Things in 2011 that I have loved

This restaurant- Paciarino (pah-chi-ah-reeno) 

Are you kidding me? THIS is Italian food, folks. Not that Olive Garden shit. This is true Italian food, simple, amazing, affordable. The last time I ate pasta like this was literally IN Italy. Their limoncello dessert was absolutely to die for. If you don't eat here at SOME point in your life, I don't care to know you. 

Ok, maybe that was a little harsh. 

This coffee shop- Mornings in Paris

It could just be my obsession with everything involving France, but Mornings in Paris is my go to if you want a place that's good for anything. Coffee, tea, pastries, they're good at it all. Sure there are places in town that have just great coffee, and I'm first to say that Homegrown is best in Portland for tea, but MIP takes the cake for consistent quality regardless of the product. Their collaboration with local bakers only makes them MORE droolworthy!

This hobby- Knitting
If you don't knit, you should. It's amazing- challenging, productive, even sorta peaceful. Ravelry is a great resource with patterns for every level. The only thing that I can imagine will keep me sane this winter is sitting in my rocking chair, knitting.

This band/album- Foster the People/Torches

This band and album have ruined my life in the best possible way. They are all I listen to. It has been a long time since I have found what I consider to be a perfect album- a CD that I can listen to fully without any identifiable flaw or need to cease or skip any particular song. I think the last album that I could say that about was Crisis by Alexisonfire. 

This single- Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye & Kimbra

There is not really anything more to be said. Kimbra's album Vows just came out and is incredible, and although I do love Gotye in this so so so so much, I'm not the biggest fan of his solo work. However, putting these two together is the best decision anyone could have ever made.

Other things include:
Everything about the conclusion of Harry Potter
The band Thomas Wesley Stern
Discovering that pedicures are awesome
This season of True Blood (I have hated every other season until now)
Finally doing yoga

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I'm getting married in 40 days. I have had numerous people tell me that I should create a "How I Gone Done It" series here about how we made it happen (we got engaged last Saturday, so it will end up being roughly a 50 day engagement). I'm thinking I might. Especially since we will be honeymooning in France, and you all know how I get in France! I'll probably come back with 5 books written and 12,000 new ideas. If I do it, I want it to be littered with pictures of everything we've done, costed out, yada yada yada, so the series won't begin until AFTER the wedding.

Unfortunately, I don't really have anything interesting to share with you, gentle viewers. But my dog has to poop, so things are about to get super exciting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vegan Rotini Salad and Peach Pineapple "Sangria"

Jacob and I have been doing a lot of cooking out of this book my mom got me from Goodwill called "Vegan on the Cheap." It not only has some really great recipes, but it also is legitimately affordable. The past two times we have gone grocery shopping, we have been able to feed ourselves for 2 weeks based on the recipes from this book, and both times we spent under $50 on ingredients.

A lot of the ingredients needed are pantry items (oil, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, basic herbs) that are just supplemented with bulk items (beans, grains) and fresh produce. It is really unbelievable how well we've been eating by sticking to these recipes, and that we have been able to budget it all so well. This is a testament to all of the people out there who say, "Whole Foods is too expensive!!" That is where we buy everything. Two weeks of food for two people for under $50 at Whole Foods is pretty damn good, I'd say.

Anyways, for the sake of my laziness, I have scanned the recipe to the left. Click on it to make it bigger, of course. I did make a few alterations- the first being that I forgot to buy tahini and parsley (though I did throw in some leftover lettuce we had kicking around), and the second being that we don't own a blender so I had to use a mortar and pestle and my grandmother's old handmixer. No sweat, though! It all turned out beautiful, delicious, and filling.

To accompany our dinner I made a faux Sangria by macerating some peaches, adding some pineapple juice, and adding it to a bottle of $2.50 Three Wishes white wine. All in all, I'd call it a delightful evening.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let's Get Creative!

As you may or may not know, I have begun re-branding my craft products. Byte Size Creations no longer exists, and has been replaced by PULP which can be found at IWANTPULP.COM. I wanted to distance my product from the Byte Size name, since I am trying to keep this more limited to Food & Travel rather than my assorted ramblings and craft goodies. However, a little self promotion IS in order, so go check out PULP! I am currently running a kickoff giveaway- every fan of my Facebook page is automatically entered, and you can earn extra entries by tagging the page on FB, tweeting, or blogging about it. Read more about it here.

With PULP, I am participating in the WholePort Creativity Expo, and am very excited about it. Essentially, it is an invitation to crafters to go wild with the inspiration of WholePort products. WholePort will provide you with FREE supplies (plus free shopping!) to create your masterpiece with for the chance to win a $50 coupon to WholePort. You are allowed to choose one of the nine package options below:

Of course, you must either "LIKE" WholePort on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter to be eligible, and you only have until July 9 to request your free package! For official instructions, visit the WholePort blog. I am eagerly awaiting my white cloisoinne beads, and can't wait to get started on my piece!

If you are unfamiliar with the variety of products available at, you are absolutely missing out. They not only have products for sewing, knitting, and jewelry making, but for baking as well! WholePort has a wide variety of cake molds and kitchen tools too! I am pretty excited about the Madeleine mold, I have been looking for one for ages!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting Artsy Up Here

Jacob and I have a plethora of used film canisters occupying our closet. Like, at least 10 ranging from several years ago to our most recent European exploration. When a local photography store went out of business, we took advantage of the "free" table and bulked up on developing materials. Jacob had learned from our host in England that he could just process the film and then do whatever he wanted from there- from which point Jacob realized that he could always just scan the images to see what he wanted to be developed, or in some cases just keep as is.

We each own lomography cameras- I have the old Holga which was handed down to me when Jacob purchased his Diana. Since we are too poor for 120mm film, we learned how to rig them to take 35mm by way of hair elastics and cut up pieces of kitchen sponges. Since this film isn't really meant to be used in these cameras, we had to wind the cameras according to a series of clicks to make sure it aligned properly. Because we knew these rolls of film were likely to be a bit...well...different, we thought it would be better if one of them were to be our experimental processed rolls.

After a few hours locked up in our bathroom, strips of film hanging from our shower rod, and many hours in Photoshop, the result was the following set of images. There were a few things that went wrong in the process (which is why only 3 of them turned out very well)- Jacob thinks he didn't let them sit in the chemicals long enough for one, the second problem being that our scanner isn't a proper negative scanner.

He also developed a roll of film taken on his Nikon that turned out amazingly well, however, I am not sharing any of those photos on the blog. He will be exhibiting the non-posted photos at Bard Coffee starting at July 17 so you will have to stop by to see those!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Maine Restaurant Week - Signature Event

The Maine Restaurant Week's Signature Event is an absolute foodgasm of epic proportions. The Event combines bite-sized desserts from well known pastry chefs with the signature cocktails from the state's leading mixologists. The competition was fierce as each representing team brought their A-game.

Jacob and I started in the first room; him with camera in hand, and I with Academe's "Sage Against the Machine," a deliciously infused cocktail that cleverly combined Absolut Raspberry, Triple Sec, Sour Mix, Muddled Sage, Lime, and St. Germain's Elderflower Liquor. The freshness of this cocktail won my heart, and came away with first place for the evening.

As I meandered around the Masonic Temple, munching on a delicious selection of cheeses, risotto balls, and various other h'ordeurves provided by Camden Harbour Inn, I came across a new name. Kristin F. Simmons had a table that instantly caught my attention. Whether is was the Parisian inspired cake, the tiny lemon meringue samples, or a combination of the two, I could not get these desserts out of my mind. Without further ado I cast my vote. I caught up with Kristin, herself, and we chatted about her cakes. Right then and there I decided, this woman will someday be making my wedding cake, whether she knows it yet or not!

Other highlights of the evening included a brand-spanking new cocktail from my favorite Portland restaurant and bar, Sonny's. The boys informed me that the drink had not even been added to the menu, but assured me that I could expect it by the weekend. It was called "Kali Ma " and it was absolutely amazing. A combination of Pimm's Cup #1, Strongbow Hard Cider, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites, this cocktail definitely stood out among the rest. It was smooth, easy to drink, and absolutely dangerous. While I am disappointed that they did not win, I have faith that they will have several new fans due to this winning combination.

My second dessert ticket of the evening went to Portland's Havana South and their spicy chocolate truffle. It gave me a tasty kick in the mouth without overdoing it, and was a tiny treat that definitely left me wanting more.

Other key players in tonight's event were Walter's, People's Choice Dessert Champions, with their "Kitt Katt Bar with Sea Salted Caramel," Katie Made's "Dark and White Chocolate Raspberry Cake," Brian Boru's twist on a Hot Toddy, and the "Double Pear Martini" from The Salt Exchange.

All in all it was a fabulous night. As I wandered down the street with my full belly and slight buzz, I thought to myself, "I wish every week was restaurant week."

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Bit of Followthrough

As promised on my *woah 200th entry* some changes have been happening. While many have been behind the scenes e.g. working on my books, writing up recipes, and attending more "foodie" centered events, there have also been some other changes that you may notice. The first being the new makeover. It is much different than the other layout, I know, but I wanted to simplify. Still not sure if this is the final layout or not, but it will certainly be a visually exciting next couple of weeks. You will also see that the collaborative Etsy shop is up! I am working with an amazingly talented card maker as well as my wonderful photographer boyfriend (who must take credit for the images in the header btw) to make that shop full of a variety of beautiful items.

Stick around. I promise it will get better.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two Hundreth Post!

Coming up on the second anniversary of Byte Size and here I am at my 200th post! Our trip is drawing to a close which is both very exciting, and also quite depressing. I have been learned so much, and met so many amazing people the last four months that I just want to keep going forever. However, with travel also comes quite a lot of unpredictability which means that during this period of time several plans have fallen through, and lots of money has been spent trying to get back on track. We never made it back to Italy as we had originally intended, and I won't be getting the Belgium birthday I had hoped for, but I would not say that this trip has been anything less than incredible. I have picked hundreds of pounds of chestnuts in the mountains of Italy, waded in the Mediterranean Sea, chased wild boar through an open field, learned and spoken two new languages, seen one of the world's largest fireworks displays, and just today I babysat a sick sheep. While it is sad to leave behind all of the opportunities that I could encounter while still in Europe, I know that there are plenty of things waiting for me back home.

So here is what you can expect from me this summer. I am currently working on five or six different books, and my goal is to have at least one of them completed by the end of this summer. In addition, I will be working on creating a large stock of items to sell on Etsy in the fall. Ice Cream Alchemy is going to be on hold for a few more months because I am working on some more recipes and testing them all out to hopefully have a cookbook done by New Year 2012. AND I plan on bringing more food related posts to the table (hahahahahaha) as well. Seems like a lot now that I have written it down, but c'mon, I'm traveling the world here! I'll need lots of exciting things to occupy my time!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I'll Never Call This Place My Home, I'm Just Passing Through

You could say that London and I don't exactly mesh well. That was my first impression in 2006. An impression that most told me was probably based off of my previous experience with the school group I traveled with. "Your itinerary was too structured," they would tell me, "It's totally different if you see the REAL London." Fortunately enough, I took their advice and decided to give it another go. Jake and I wanted to do something big for New Years- something a bit different than our usual working-and-curling-up-on-the-couch-with-leftover-Christmas-food tradition, and London seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

I was pretty excited about this plan. We collaborated and created a list of everything the two of us wanted to see during our two day adventure, obviously ending with midnight at the Thames watching the fireworks. Our journey began at 6:00am when Chris kindly drove us (poor guy had band practice till midnight the night before, and karma would soon inflict the sleepless travel upon us later in our weekend) to the train station. I slept for most of the journey until we arrived at Waterloo station at about 9:00am. Our itinerary was pretty solid, and we were convinced that we would have plenty to do for the day. Jacob and I happen to be bizarre. We never particularly enjoy public transportation, and when given the option we usually opt for walking. I am not sure if this is because we are cheap, active, or just very visual- perhaps all of the above. We began in China Town because I really enjoyed the one that I frequented in Washington, DC, and hoped that the one in London would be even more extravagant. Unfortunately, nothing was open due to the hour, but I could tell that it wouldn't compete anyways. Aside from the "male treatment masseuse" centers I didn't see any other souvenir shops (my favorite part of China Town), so we continued on through Soho and ended up at a nifty restaurant called The Breakfast Club.

It is quite odd how we tend to gravitate toward the same kinds of restaurants everywhere we go. If you have ever been to Silly's or The Good Egg in Portland, those are typically the kind of establishments we choose to inhabit. The Breakfast Club was no different. It had a funky, retro feel with cleverly titled dishes and eccentric decorations (though they might be considered mild by Silly's standards!). We each had a "Sausage Butty" (essentially two pieces of white bread with a sausage in the middle…hardly worth the 5 quid each we spent on them) and continued on to the National Gallery.

I was very much looking forward to the National Gallery for many reasons. 1. You are allowed to sit and sketch as you look 2. They have comfy couches 3. Monet 4. Van Gogh 5. Renoir 6. Da Vinci 7. Michelangelo. The only problem with number one is that I didn't really want to draw the paintings themselves as much as the architecture of the inside of the building, however, there was no where I could sit to sketch my desired locations which inevitably just made me depressed. It was a really cool thing knowing that I was standing in front of actual original pieces by some of the world's greatest and most influential artists. Really, it was a great experience, but it didn't particularly MOVE me the way that I had hoped.

Not to fret, though! We left the National Gallery and headed towards Buckingham Palace which included a beautiful walk through the park where a man with a ferret in his hood handed me some bread to feed the assortment of fowl that inhabits the area. I don't know if you know this but I LOATHE feeding birds. It is terrifyingly competitive and aggressive and I am always afraid that I will be pecked to death as the birds desperately try to get at the bread. I did survive, and we did in fact make it to the Palace. It was quiet and nice in comparison to my first experience. Back then we had gone during the changing of the guard so the roads were littered with tourists and cameras and it was quite overwhelming. Jacob was lucky enough to catch sight of a few Beefeaters all dressed up in the beautiful blue coats! Quite nice, though we weren't close enough to sneak a picture.

By the time we were finished at the Palace in was about 2:30pm so we decided to head in the general direction of our hotel. We stopped quickly at Sainsbury's to pick up some pasties, salad, and clementine "champagne" for dinner and proceeded to spend the next combined 3 hours riding the tube and walking in circles in Leyton. We weren't aware that our hotel had two different names and that the one WE knew it by was not going to be presented ANYWHERE on the building, so we walked by it about seven times before stopping into the pub (which we should have done first, really) to ask for some help. Of course we also had a mix up with the reservation, but the folks at the front desk were surprisingly helpful and all was sorted out in the end.

We began the next morning at around 10:30AM destination unknown. We decided to take the bus because it was cheaper, however with that comes the price of having NO IDEA WHERE YOU ARE GOING. You see, tube maps are readily available but BUS maps are virtually nonexistent. Therefore it is your duty as a patron of the bus to either a. know where you are going b. piece together your journey by walking to every stop in your area or c. GTFO. We chose B with a mixture of the newly added d. ride until you see something cool. Jake had remembered that I had told him where to find some of the only remaining Banksy work in London and when he saw the name of the stop we leapt off the bus and began walking. We searched all over Old Street knowing only that it was near a bridge and by a business called Cargo. However, we did pass an old car park that has a famous piece by the street artist, but has been covered up with boards. We finally just accepted that the pieces had probably been removed, and turned down a road in the opposite direction. By some miracle, I glanced down an alley to my left and low and behold I saw it! In bright flashing letters the word "Cargo" lit up my heart and I grabbed onto Jacob's arm, gesturing emphatically to the road only managing to express myself in a series of squeaks. We were so happy to find the pieces (which are located in the entrance of Cargo and covered in glass to protect them from being covered up!!) and it pretty much made our day. We continued back on the main road to find several other works of street art by various artists, a few murals, and a lot of creativity. It is definitely a side of London that I had not been able to see the first time around, and am very glad that we had found on this trip.

It was then that we chose to make our way toward the river to see the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Big Ben, and begin scouting out viewing points for the fireworks show. We accomplished all of these tasks and by 4:30PM we had purchased our sandwiches for dinner later that night and were plopped down in our spot with nothing to do but wait. People were already gathering, and by 8:00PM the streets were closed to traffic and people were beginning to sit on the medians and gather on the sidewalks. By 10:00PM London was a madhouse. People just arriving were arguing with those who had been there for 5 hours, trying to bully their way into a good view. Folks were hanging from the trees, and others were adorning colorful bunny ears that lit up (what those had to do with New Year's is beyond me). The show itself was amazing. It was the largest display of fireworks I had ever seen in my life, and I actually had a small freak out during the finale where I convinced myself that the lights were actually coming at me and wondered what I would do if the bridge exploded (answer: be dead). Once the show had ended we danced our way through the crowd with the others in search for the Victoria tube station. I kept getting this vibe that it would be very unwise to ACTUALLY ride the tube, so Jake and I decided that we would try the bus. After an hour's walk we arrived at the bus stops to find that the N38 line had closed roads so we would have to take 73 and transfer at Angel Station. This meant that those who needed N38 AND those who would ordinarily ride the 73 would ALL have to squeeze onto the same bus. The first bus arrived and I greeted the group of screaming, pushing humans with a "fuck this!" and sat down to wait for a following bus. Unfortunately, the second bus was almost as bad, and as Jake and I were sucked into the bus by the amorphous blob of human flesh that carried us aboard hand-in-hand, we shimmied to the corner in hopes that we wouldn't get trampled. After some scary incidents, we finally made it back to our hotel room at 3:30AM.

Our ride back to Witham was definitely welcomed. While London was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, I would definitely love to keep it that way. There are many places I have been that I would love to see several times more, and London is not on that list. I think that it is definitely the right vibe for some, but I think I will stick to Paris, thanks.