Monthly Archives: July 2011

Gathering the odd thought

1. The dress was fabulous.  It should, however, be noted that since it has some type of tulip layering on the front, leg crossing can lead to crotch-flashing.

Live dangerously.

2. My new planner officially begins this week.  Praise God.  After a few days of reflecting on its size (Bri thought I brought a Bible into work…not kidding), I’ve come to see it as a testament to my Instinct To Plan.

3.  As a forewarning, this week is a hot mess, scheduling-wise.  Marcus and I are booked every day and night until the 8th with the exception of tomorrow night.  We didn’t even buy proper food to cook for dinner.

Yes, seriously.

I’m as perplexed as you are.

Though, I am of a mind to action a pasta dish tomorrow night using some vegetables that we sourced from the farm.  I don’t remember the last time that noodles graced our table.  Can you?

4. I need to renew my Vogue subscription or else we are going to be living in a world of hurt when The September Issue goes out.

It might be hearsay, but I think they’ve been losing a bit of their edge lately.

Regardless of what layouts and spreads they are or are not doing, it’s like eating your vegetables.  It simply must be done.

While you’re at it, take note that blue is joining orange and Pendleton-style prints as The Thing To Wear this season.

5. While we were out last night, instead of taking pictures of meaningful things, like friends, I focused my efforts on beer boards and taps.

I’m confused by it too.

But since I committed, we may as well do a viewing.  It’s called, Tap Study.

Don’t lie, you’re loving the Lomo here as much as I am.

6. I just renewed my domain for another five years.  When I was talking about it with Marcus tonight, it was absolutely mind-boggling to think that two years ago I was desperately trying to migrate my blog from Blogger to WordPress, buy a domain and map it all out.

Do we still have a long way to go?  Absolutely.  I would be lying if I said that I knew what was next.  Because there are a lot of things that could be next.

But that’s not the moral of this story.  The moral is that time flies.  Modern day Aesop, right here.

What was the most spontaneous thing you did this weekend?

Bloggers, do you self-host or not?  Why?  How did you decide if you were meant to spring for a custom layout or tweak an existing-one?

Advertisements

On State Street

image

I know,  I KNOW. 

In case you couldn’t tell by my Tweets, I’m in Madison right now.  The land where New Glarus Brewing company beers flow from the tap like water and you can’t walk more than five feet without hitting a cheese curd.

Yes, seriously.  It might be love.

We’re in-town for Galina’s bachelorette party and it has already been a whirlwind weekend.  Between listening to a band play late-night on The Terrace, a beast of a long run this morning and a trip to the Farmers’ Market (I bought an entire loaf of spicy cheese bread and just started eating), I feel like we have managed to do absolutely everything and nothing at the same time.

And did I mention that I’m amongst kindred spirits who appreciate the fine art of the FroYo bar?  Because there’s that too.  After a roll in the hay with a sample-sized cake batter-oreo-pretzels-heath-sprinkles arrangement, I crossed the street to get some of the old school probiotic tart-stuff loaded up with fruit.

To quote Mikey Cyrus, “It’s the best of both worlds.”

My dignity is gone.

Tonight’s goal?  To figure out whether or not I really can rock an orange dress with an exposed zipper.  For $17, I figured it was worth a shot.

What’s your favorite FroYo topping?

Have you ever been to a destination bachelorette party?  Where?

Friday Food Round-Up!

Despite the fact that a few snafus nailed us with the most ridiculous grocery bill in recent memory (everyone has to have one, right?), my actual vision for our meals went off without a hitch.

Last week while I was on the treadmill, I watched an episode of Ten Dollar Dinners that involved Melissa D’Arabian making falafel and an interpretation of tabouli.  I was rather taken, but I didn’t want to buy a bag of pitas that would languish in the freezer for months, or create stray leftovers that didn’t quite “fit” with anything else.

So we committed to a pair of Mediterranean-themed nights, using the same sides, but featuring a different entree each night.

To channel Ina, How Easy Is That?

Monday – Chicken Gyros via Annie’s Eats, Israeli Couscous Tabouli and Greek Herb Sauce from Nigella Kitchen

Annie  gets major points for pushing us out of our comfort zone.  Not only did we buy our first bottle of red wine vinegar, but I’ll also admit that even though we love gyros 11/10, we never even thought to try making them.

The reality: The chicken tastes delicious.  But I would never, ever confuse it with a gyro.  Doner kebap?  Possibly.  But gyro?  Would be a bit of a stretch.

We didn’t make her tzatziki because we’re rather in love with the arrangement that we pawed out of Nigella Kitchen.  It’s fast, and fairly easy to make, especially if you’re already committed to mincing all manner of greenery.  But you know, if it’s calling to you, then you can always go that route.

The Israeli Couscous Tabouli was spectacularly easy because once again, we were already planning on being mincing-fiends.  Even though I was fairly certain that Marcus had never eaten tabouli before, I knew that he liked Israeli Couscous and that we eat prolific amounts of minced parsley and cilantro at most meals.  I was kind of banking on the fact that if the dish was a hit this go-round, then I’d probably be able to attempt it with a more appropriate grain next time.  Or we could just put it in the keeper file.  Because that’s always a choice too.

Just make sure that if you decide to action this plate, that you do it for loved ones that you would eat buffet food or ribs in-front of, because it is SO not an attractive meal to watch someone else eat 😉

Tuesday – Falafel, Israeli Couscous Tabouli and Greek Herb Sauce from Nigella Kitchen

Yes, I realize that there’s corn in the picture and NO tabouli OR tzatziki.  And I didn’t even list it in the menu.  Let’s put it this way: From July – September, I will be eating corn at a rate that is astonishing in the best case scenario and absolutely horrific in the worst.  Along with all manner of roasted potatoes, caprese salads and other grilled vegetables from the farm.  If I do something exceptionally clever with them, I’ll share.  But otherwise, just assume that we’re…eating a whole hell of a lot of unpictured vegetables that don’t require narration.

It took me until today to realize that I completely neglected to add any dill to our yogurt/tzatziki arrangement on the first go-round.  For all of that, I will say that it’s fairly versatile in the sense that it tastes SO green that you could really toss anything in and be safe.  Just make sure to season it with enough salt and pepper.

All of that aside, let’s talk about this Falafel thing.  I’ve been craving them in the most intense way since we ate The Best Falafel Ever from a food truck at 2 AM near the apartment we were renting in NYC last August.  So when Melissa D’Arabian got to making them, I decided that it looked like a reasonable proposition.

Because Melissa D’Arabian is the kind of person that seems…reasonable.  And realistic.

As I added 3/4 t Cayenne to the mix, I raised an eyebrow, because that’s not an insignificant amount of the red stuff.  But Melissa?  Knew what she was doing.  When we bit into them, they were…falafel.  Not just falafel, but actually falafel.  And the experience was one part astonishment, one part bliss and one part ISTHISREALLYHAPPENING?

Our modifications: We didn’t have any green onions left, so those got omitted.  Since we didn’t have any cilantro left (we did have a full bunch of parsley), we just went all-in with the parsley instead of half-half.  After frying them (it’s more like 2-3 min/side, not 3-4) we put them on a roasting rack and baked them in the oven for another ~5 minutes to let them dry out and crisp up a bit more.

I know I say this about a lot of things, but I’m really serious about it this time…HOME RUN.

Have you ever made a meal/dinner based off of a cooking show?  What menu?  Which show?

Semi-Homemade What?!

Kittens, my Emergency Back-Up List of Blogworthy Topics isn’t particularly long.  For the most part, I figure that on any given day, there’s something that I’ve seen or heard that bears discussing.

Or you know, some mortifying photo or story that’s long been buried in the back of my subconscious.  Or my hard drive.

Today?  Is not an emergency in any sense of the word.

But there’s been something that has been sitting on my “list” since December.  And I knew that when the time was right, it would be time to share.

In the spirit of Christmas In July, I bring you, Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa Cake.

For the record, unless it looks deadly captivating, I’m the reader who usually skims over the video embedded in your blog post.

It’s just the way I am.

Anyway, even if you’re like me, you really need to watch this one.

I know.  I KNOW.  I don’t want to say it, but I have to.  I TOLD YOU SO.

Because there is a whole lot goin’ on there.

Having pushed my way through the pain of more Semi-Homemade episodes than I’d care to admit (The tablescapes are so elaborate!  Cocktails flow freely!), I’m no stranger to the “innovative” way that Sandra has managed to revolutionize our relationship with the kitchen

But this?  Where do you even start, honestly?  The apple pie filling?  The corn nuts?  The vanilla-turned cinnamon-hot cocoa-flavored frosting?

I like to think that when I get down to work in the kitchen, I’m a master at mixing and matching flavors and textures.  But in what world do you roll out of bed hell-bent on butchering a perfectly good angel food cake and decide to 1. Re-name Corn Nuts “acorns” and 2. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on the outside of ANY cake?

Martha and her co-worker Joe were so moved by this culinary masterpiece, that they actioned one of their own for a friend’s birthday last weekend.

Understanding and accepting the realities of the beast they were about to create, they opted to cut the cake’s size in half.  I call this managing expectations.

But we could also just call it good old-fashioned boundary-setting.

I think it’s apparent to everyone that while “edible,” you’re probably about as likely to try a slice of this as you are to try a slice of Nutraloaf.

Since Mads  and I were struck with the urge to do an impromptu blog-series today (there was so much semi-homemade glory to go around), hop on over to her site to check out the sheer wonder that is Hanukkah Cake.

What’s the most ridiculous holiday-themed treat you’ve ever encountered?

What’s the most bizarre flavor combination you’ve tasted in a dessert?

The Honeymoon: Genoa and Olympia

A month later, we’ve finally retrieved all of our honeymoon photos from the camera (and our phones) and gotten them on to the computer.  And from Marcus’ computer to mine, where I can finally start to sort and edit them.  There’s probably some dark humor in the fact that showing them to the internet is a powerful motivator for all of this, but I’m of the school that at this point, whatever gets it done wins.

When we booked the trip, one thing that was really important to me (beyond the size of our ship) was having a window.  Or, in our case, two portholes.  While I’m well-aware that thousands of people traverse the Mediterranean every year sans-natural light, I knew that part of my Perfect Vision for our honeymoon involved us being able to see the ocean and the shore from our room.

And as we rolled out of bed and peered out the windows to see the city of Genoa in front of us, I was glad that we did.

Cue: OHMYGODWE’REREALLYINITALYNOW.

For whatever un-planned reason, we didn’t book an excursion in Genoa.  So there we were, standing at the front of the ship and surveying the city wondering, What Next?  As we walked out of the port building, I snagged a freebie map of the city featuring a walking tour of sights unbeknownst to us prior to that very moment and we set-out.

What you should know: Marcus is the relaxed traveller.  I’m the paranoid traveller.  Where he sees passers-by and the common man, I see pickpockets and people whose sole intention in life is to strip us of our Passports.

GOD, I am so my father’s daughter.

Did I mention that neither of us spoke or knew ANY Italian?

Because there was that, too.

Okay, I take it back.  I could think of musical terms like: Bravo, Andante, Allegro and Forte.

I know they say music breaks down all barriers, but I would say that’s not exactly the case when you’re trying to source a prosciutto-stuffed focaccia.

Obviously that didn’t impede us as we continued on our merry way.

Regardless, by the end of our three-hour, carbohydrate-laden adventure (sometimes with street signs and sometimes not), I was the one begging to go down the scary alleys while he was begging for the beaten path.

After a wonderfully exhausting morning in Genoa, we hopped back on the boat to focus on the finer things in life (like our tans and sparkling wine) as we set sail for Olympia.

After spending some time in such a bustling city, what we didn’t expect was to be greeted by a scene like this.

Sailing into the port of Katakalon was breathtaking.  And even though I know that this is totally wrong, as I looked at the rocky cliffs and the trees sprouting from them, I couldn’t help but to think, Gladiator.

I know.  I KNOW.

It was at this point in the trip that Marcus and I learned just how hypnotic the combination of a guide speaking in Italian and a rocking tour bus can be.

In case you were wondering, the answer is Extremely.

While Marcus gave his best effort at fending off a case of The Naps, I put all of my energies into admiring every single olive tree, orange tree and grape vine we drove past.  I could barely stand it.  And the good times rolled all the way to Ancient Olympia.

The truth about Ancient Olympia: It’s HOT.  To the point where in ancient times, because of an absolute lack of water in the area, athletes and spectators would just drop dead all over the place because of dehydration and heat exhaustion.

How dark.

The other thing we didn’t know about Ancient Olympia is that it’s an extremely geologically active area.  So…nothing from those times is still really…standing.

The ruins of the treasuries.

The place where the torch is lit via sunlight. This is where they continue to light it for the modern games as well.

After picking around the ruins of various temples and gymnasiums (there were many, the Greeks were an industrious bunch), our guide escorted us to The Stadium.

Once we walked under the arch, things started to get…heavy.  I don’t know about y’all, but I am a MAJOR sucker for Olympics so I was starting to feel…all emotional and stuff.

Ancient history is just so…intense like that.

So there we stood, in the Ancient Olympic Stadium, with our feet perfectly placed on the starting line.

I felt an uncontrollable urge to run.

And then I stopped myself.  Looked around at the tourists surrounding me.  Acknowledged the fact that the only other person running in the entire stadium, with far less purpose, was a seven year-old.

Self-doubt crept in.  What if I looked ridiculous?  What if they thought I was slow?  What if they laughed at me?

But I remembered.  Running is a gift.  Running is joy.

So I started off, trotting down the length of the stadium in those metallic silver Revas-turned-wedding shoes of mine, letting my hair fan out in the wind, and listening to my feet pat-a-pat their way over ancient gravel.

I don’t know that I’ll ever visit Ancient Olympia again, and if I do, who is to say I’ll be physically able to run?

The time for living is now.

What’s the dorkiest thing you’ve done at a historical site/monument?

Have you held yourself back from doing something important (to you) that seems trivial at first glance?

Safari

Since Marcus was out-of-town this weekend (he was Up North on a family fishing trip with The Men), I ended up sneaking off to Mom and Dad’s on Sunday night for a family dinner.

Sunday was pretty much a perfect Minnesota day, weather-wise.  It was warm (but not too warm), sunny and the humidity that’s been plaguing us for the last few weeks was conspicuously absent.  So while Dad was busy grilling, I actioned a bit of a photo safari.

I know that y’all know about my family’s penchant for turtle rescue.

But we also kind of have a thing for fuzzy bumble bees.  You know, the kind that you can hear rustling around the flowers?  With the yellow fur on their backs?

Yes, those.

We love them.

Once upon a time, they had a happy hive beneath the front stair, but at some point in the past 10 years an unknown act of God took it out.

Anyway, these days they’re alive and well in the gardens.  So I promenaded along the Bee Balm that has now managed to grow as tall as I am and took a moment to admire them as they went about gathering their daily bread pollen.

There were so many things I could say about their Industrious Ways, but then I realized we would be treading a fine line between descriptive and terrifically pun-y.  So just consider this to be me, sitting on my hands.  And not making any mention of buzzing, hives, colonies or anything else like that.

The Birdhouses also captured my attention for a moment.  I don’t know if they’re just not in-vogue anymore or have merely been relegated to the category of Northwoods Chic.  When they’re well-placed, they lend a lovely, structured touch to the scene.

Sometimes you might opt-into the non-functional route.

And other times you might go for the rustic, yet habitable.

It’s actually the tiny country cottage-home to a family of finches.  Fitting, no?

I didn’t realize they were still in-residence until after I had snapped a few frames and saw one vigilant eye peer out from their entrance hole.

We should probably get them a No Trespassing sign.

Do you prefer wild gardens or more formally structured gardens?

Do you have a favorite bug?

If you had asked me that question when I was in kindergarten, I probably would have given you the stink eye.  But these days, I can very confidently tell you that I adore fuzzy bees and dragonflies.

A Production of Sorts

Backstory: Once upon a time, in another running life, there was a girl who would run seven miles on the weekend.  She didn’t worry about how many drinks she had the night before.  Or what she had eaten.  How much sleep she was going to get.  When she rolled out of bed she might drink a glass of water.  Eat a fruit leather.  Or do neither of those things.  She hopped on the treadmill, she hopped off the treadmill and that was that.

Kittens, I have to say that for all that I love running, with the mileage that I’m doing now?  Long Run days have turned into a totally different kind of commitment.

I never thought I would say this, but 10 miles?  Is starting to seem like a pretty reasonable proposition.

The whole act of running on the weekends has turned into a real production of sorts.  Between behaving myself the afternoon/night before a long run, waking up at 5 AM to start eating and digesting, actually doing the run, showering, eating again and collapsing into bed, it’s very nearly a 24-hour proposition from start to finish.

On the bright side, I finally nailed down a breakfast that doesn’t raise absolute hell in my stomach.

In the mix: Oatmeal with a sliced banana, a drizzle of honey, a drizzle of almond butter and 2 T granola.  2 cups of coffee.  Scene.

This was a major battle for me pre-wedding, so I’m glad that we may have found a True Resolution to the situation.

I was starting to worry that I was doomed to Long Run GI issues forever.

While I was out for a late brunch with the ladies on Sunday, I realized that I was a half-mile away from the running store that I had a Groupon for.  So I read the tea leaves and made a much-needed trip over there.

Even though it was an impromptu trip, I actually did have a mission.

Confession: I’ve made it this far in my training without carrying a water bottle or any sort of “fuel.”

Obviously, as much as I like to consider myself a minimalist as far as putting one foot in front of the other is concerned, it really is getting to the point where it’s outright dangerous if I’m not snacking and sipping.

My haul?  Or as the sales guy phrased it, “It’s kind of like trick or treating.  For runners!”

Yes, there are Two Of Every Kind.  Consider it the Noah’s Ark of Fuel.  Or something like that.

I basically bought anything that I’ve found the internet to be fond of, what runner friends have recommended to me or have mentioned using in conversation.

I also grabbed a Spibelt and a water bottle, because it seems only logical that the three things go together.

I ran with the belt and bottle today as a test and I have to say, it was far less disconcerting than I had anticipated.  I was expecting to absolutely loathe it and accept it as a necessary evil.  But these designers?  Might have actually known what they were doing when they were trying to figure out what people could want to attach to their body while they sweat.

Runners: What type of “fuel” do you like to use on long runs?

What do you eat before a workout?  After?