Friday, June 26, 2009

What do you study exactly???

So many people ask me what kind of research I do. To help answer this question, I've created a short presentation to provide a brief overview of my last 4 years in a research lab at the University of Florida. I'm wrapping up my research now and hoping to defend my dissertation at the end of the Fall semester!

For more information on the topic, check out The Stuffed Nation.

This blog is a proud member of the Foodie BlogRoll!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Marley & Me

This weekend, Adam & I rented the movie Marley & Me. I recently finished the book so I was excited to see how they made it into a motion picture! For the record, the book was WAY better...but doesn't it always work out like that?

Anyway, we knew Nani would be somewhat of a bother during the movie because she always reacts to animals on TV - especially dogs and horses. For the most part, though, she was pretty well-behaved! Shorty into the movie, Adam & I realized she was sitting as close to the television as she possibly could while still being able to see the screen. She looked like a little kid who sits right in front of the TV. She sat there for the longest time and just watched Marley!

Uh oh, Nani, don't get any ideas! Like all dogs, she loves to hang her head out the window...but once, the squirrel running down the side of the road looked like so much fun so she jumped! I caught her tail as she slipped through the window, and pulled her into the car. Phew!

Oh, boy. Nani definitely doesn't need any encouragement for this! Maybe they should consider putting something on the label like "not suitable for young dog audiences."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Social Network for Sugar Artists

Whether you are a professional, an amateur, or simply a home baker, you are welcome at Icing on the Cake!

I created this social network on Ning as a place for sugar artists & cake decorators to interact. My hope is that we can all learn from each other, teach each other, vent about customers, and laugh together.

If you are familiar with Cake Central, think of this as a much smaller, more personal version! You can post blog messages, reply to forum threads, upload photos, make friends, upload videos, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Serendipitous Discovery!

We've discovered what kind of dog Nani is!

Since we adopted Nani from the Gainesville Pet Rescue, we have no information about her history or even her breed. In fact, the vet expected her to be at least 20 pounds at maturity. Needless to say, that's not happening since she's turning 2 this month and has been a stable 11 pounds for some time now!

Anyway, last Saturday, Adam and I were browsing books at Barnes & Noble when we came across a Dog Encyclopedia. We looked up the dogs people have suggested she might be...Pekingese, Australian Shephard,, no, no...those don't seem right...I flipped a couple of pages back, and there she was! Nani was practically staring back at me from the page! This is the image straight out of the encyclopedia:

And here's a photo of Nani taken in January 2008:

Are you convinced?! This photo of Nani was taken just after a bath so her hair is a little bit spikier than normal...and the random dog above doesn't look like he's had a haircut in a long time! I give Nani a trim at least every month. But let's compare. Both dogs have:
  • fluffy, soft fur
  • the exact same tail shape!
  • extremely similar stance and foot position
  • similarly shaped snouts
  • tricolor
  • a princess attitude (ok, that was a silly one, but they both look like they have an attitude, don't they???)
Now are you convinced?! I am!

What is this amazing breed? Damchi! According to Wikipedia and the dog encyclopedia, these dogs originated in Bhutan and are 13-17 inches tall. While both sites claim these dogs might also be found in Germany, they are unsure if the breed exists elsewhere. Now we have proof! The Damchi has somehow crossed the ocean and entered our lives!

Is she really a Damchi? Who knows...we may never know...but I like it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Birthday & Graduation Celebration!

This week, I made a cake for a family friend who was graduating from high school. The graduation happens to coincide with her own birthday as well as the birthdays of 4 other family members. Rather than combine the birthdays and graduation into one giant cake, I made two cakes to sit side-by-side. Besides, Jordyn deserved the spotlight for graduating from high school so she shouldn't have to share her cake, right?!

Here is a close-up of Jordyn's graduation cap cake, which is very similar to the cake I made for Jiejin when she got her Ph.D. last March. I was pretty much given free reign regarding how to decorate these cakes. I really liked how Jiejin's graduation cap came out so I decided to do it again! Jordyn graduated from Chamberlain High School, whose mascot is the Chiefs, so I made a pennant to represent her love of sports and school activities (she was the Senior Class Vice President and President of the Latin Club).

And here is the birthday cake! I wanted this cake to look like a very simple, classic birthday cake. The cake is covered in buttercream icing and decorated with a shell border. Fondant circle cut-outs were used to make the geometric design on the side of the cake. To give the cake a little umph, I piped each person's name on a gum paste pennant, and stuck them in the cake. I wasn't at the party this weekend, but apparently they all took their little pennants home. I'm glad they all liked the cake! Congratulations, Jordyn, and Happy Birthday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nani's Exhausting Weekend

This weekend, Nani had a blast! It started with an exciting road trip on Friday night to Adam's parents' house in Tampa - she loves riding in the car and insists on sitting on the arm rest between the two front seats so she can see all the action! The only problem with that is the armrest is smooth plastic so she tends to slide all over the place during car rides.

Then came the thrill of a backyard! She doesn't have this luxury at home so she sits by the back door constantly, until someone will let her out. This excitement is enhanced by the fact that (a) there are lots of fun sounds (kids playing, dogs barking, etc) and (b) the Judges have a compost pile in the backyard which she loves to raid for a special snack!

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Upper Tampa Bay Park for a picnic lunch and a hike on a nature trail. Like just about any other dog, Nani loves nature trails. There are so many smells and sticks!

Oh look, here comes the gang now - with Nani leading the way!

When we got back to the car, we were all more than ready to head home. The hike was only a 1/2 mile, but it was very hot and the mosquitoes were insanely aggressive! We tried to give Nani some water before we got in the car, but she would have none of that. She immediately sprawled out in the backseat and was panting harder than I've ever seen her pant before. But, she still looked happy!

Then, things started to turn sour. All of a sudden she looked miserably hot....

Poor thing, we had the A/C on as high as it would go, but she just couldn't seem to cool off.

Shortly after that picture was taken, she abruptly stood up and started making gurgling sounds. I quickly grabbed the plastic bag we'd carried to pick up any of her "little presents" during the walk (and fortunately had not used) and held it under her head while she threw up. Since we were still 20 minutes away from home, I was lucky enough to have to carefully hold the bag until we got home. Yummy!

Don't worry though, by the time we arrived home, she was her chipper self again! We gave her a piece of ice to help her cool down even more. She has always loved ice! She noses at it, examines it from all angles, rolls on it, eats some of it, and then gets distracted and walks away so the rest melts on the floor. Can you see the ice cube in this picture? (Hint: it's near her tail.) Look at those crazy Rabies eyes!!!

On Friday night, we went fishing with Adam's cousins at a lake in the neighborhood and then the family all came over to the Judges' for dinner. Nani just loves those kids. She and Noah chase each other around the house, and Taylor gives her rubs while she relaxes and catches her breath. She loves Cody too, but she barks playfully at him all the time so we try to keep the two separated!

On Saturday, we drove up to Nobleton, FL (Ever heard of it??? Look here.) for lunch at a place called the Paddler's Cafe/Pub. For more pictures of the lunch and location, go to my other blog. I'll be posting the stuff there for a class assignment this week. Anyway, Nani had lots of fun running around the grounds and even took a turn on the bench swing!

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, she lay in her bed and slept. I guess all the excitement of the weekend had finally caught up to her. Just look at those sleepy eyes....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Exciting News - Seminoles, Gators, & ICES!

I have exciting news for all of you today! Brace yourselves - sit down! These are gonna be doosies!

1. The Seminole baseball team is in the Super Regionals, which start this week! In fact, they're hosting some of the games. Tune in to ESPN starting on June 5th for coverage and views of my beautiful Alma Mater!

2. The Gator softball team is currently in the College World Series Championships! They lost 8-0 against Washington last night in Game 1, but I predict that Game 2 (tonight at 8pm on ESPN) will be a completely different story. The Gators had a REALLY off game last night so they need to focus and think clearly tonight! If the Gators win tonight, they'll play a 3rd game against Washington on Wednesday night to determine the 2009 champions!

3. My Romantic Escape cake was featured in the June 2009 International Cake Exploration Soceite (ICES) newsletter! This is a newsletter that's read by thousands of professional and amateur cake decorators around the world so I'm VERY excited about it! The cake was pictured on the back of the newsletter and a tutorial I wrote took up 4 pages inside the newsletter!

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Black Thumb

For years, I have tried to plant flowers, herbs, peppers, tomatoes, etc. in hopes of cultivating a garden. Alas, every attempt has been a complete failure. The only thing I seem to be able to keep alive is a cactus (and those sometimes die too)!

I love flowers, and I love visiting Adam's parents in Tampa because they always have such beautiful flowers in the yard! (Of course, that's not the ONLY reason I love to visit!) Here are a few photos I took around the yard this weekend:

In case you're wondering why so many of these photos have the flower in the bottom right corner, it's because I love setting these photos as my desktop background. If the flower is on the bottom right, then the desktop icons won't cover it up. If you'd like the original photo for your own desktop, email me or go to my flickr account and download the full version.

Anyway, here are the flowers currently in our front yard. I love flowers so much -why can't I have a green thumb???