Home | Blog | Professional Portfolio | About | Links

Nicole's Blog

"Loser" by Chasing Mice

Mar 10, 2024

As I explained in today's link dump, my fiance, Alex, is a musician. He recently came out with a super catchy new song called Loser, and it's up on Youtube now! Here it is, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Banana Bread

Mar 9, 2024

Here's my recipe for the best banana bread you'll ever eat. Story below.


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter (I used plant-based butter because I'm lactose intolerant, and it works great!)
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 240 grams all-purpose flour (this is roughly 2 cups, but I really recommend weighing your flour instead)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (granulated stuff is fine to measure by volume in my experience)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, used to create a chocolate swirl)


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Use butter or crisco to grease a loaf pan, then line the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper. This helps the parchment paper stick to the loaf pan and makes your bread just slide right out at the end for easy cleaning.

2. Microwave your butter until it's melted, about 1 minute. Add it to a large bowl, then add your bananas to the same bowl and mash them up. I usually break the bananas into small pieces with my hands and then use a heavy french whisk to beat and mash it all together, but you could also use a fork or potato masher.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, then beat until well mixed.

4. In a separate bowl, mix all your dry ingredients together (not the chocolate chips). You want to do this in a separate bowl so that you can get your dry ingredients completely combined before folding them into the wet ingredients. This will help prevent over-mixing!

5. Fold your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients. If you haven't learned the technique of folding, I recommend watching this video where the late, great, Julia Child provides a demonstration. It's super easy, and a very effective way to completely combine ingredients without overmixing your batter.

6. If you want to create a chocolate swirl (and trust me you very much do), microwave your chocolate chips until completely melted, 30-60 seconds. Measure about a cup of your banana bread batter into a separate bowl, then fold in the melted chocolate.

7. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan. If you're doing a chocolate swirl, alternate scoops of plain batter and chocolate batter, then swirl a knife through to create a marbling effect. This might take a few tries to get exactly right, but it really doesn't matter as long as there's plenty of chocolate distributed through the pan!

8. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. It usually takes about 50 minutes in my old, beat-up gas oven. When you're checking for doneness, you should poke it in a few different spots, because you may hit some chunks of banana that look like unbaked batter.

So, why am I suddenly sharing my secret banana bread recipe? Unfortunately, Alex and I both have pretty severe heartburn, and this banana bread triggers it every single time we eat it. I just made a loaf on Thursday afternoon when I should have been writing, and we were in pain all night. So, it'll be a while before I make it again, and I want to share its deliciousness with others.

And look, I know everyone got super into making banana bread during the pandemic, and there are a million websites out there claiming to have the best recipe. But this is my recipe that I've made over and over again, altering it and customizing it over time to get it exactly right, so I think you should try it. I also want to provide an alternative to those infurating recipe sites with professional SEO and corporate sponsors blasting you with pop-up ads as you furiously scroll through thousands of words of irrelevant content just to get to the ingredients and method.

Bon appétit!

Fool's Spring

Mar 7, 2024

For the last couple of weeks, we in Maryland have been experiencing what we call "fool's spring," when the weather suddenly gets warm and tricks everyone into thinking winter is finally over. As a result, my little buddies the juncos have already fled for cooler pastures up north. The cardinal couple who live in the empty lot next to my house have returned, though, as have the robins. I think cardinals and robins stick around all winter, but they're far less active than in the spring and summer, when they never shut up and constantly ruin my attempts to record other birdsongs.

Another consequence of fool's spring is that my home office is invaded by all sorts of insects, predominantly wasps. It's remarkably hard to concentrate when you're constantly under attack by highly agressive paper wasps. Lucky for me, Alex has become an accomplished wasp-slayer and always comes to my defense with minimal whining.

I think there's a crack between the window and the frame that's juuuust big enough to let in every bug in Baltimore. I used to try to rescue all the ladybugs and other non-threatening characters and take them outside before the cats could get them, but I quickly became overwhelmed by their sheer numbers.

Simon and River, my first line of defense against bugs and birds.

First Post!

Feb 25, 2024

This first post is mostly so I can test the HTML and CSS of this site, since I haven't hand-coded anything this complicated in years! I've been relying on shitty free website builders for my portfolio so I didn't have to put much effort into maintaining it, but I'm fed up with the limitations of the GUIs and having my data sold, so I'm building this site myself. More to come in the future!

About Nicole

Nicole Rennolds is a technical writer and ecology student based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her work discusses cybersecurity, digital privacy, artificial intelligence, and technology's environmental impact. This blog is devoted to personal writing that hasn't been commissioned by or sold to a third party.

Follow Me