Monthly Archives: March 2015

What I’ve Been Reading

Despite my fears about running out of books to read while we were in Italy, I only ended up reading three, though I think we can all agree that three books in 17 days is not really “only” anything, that’s actually a decent clip.

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Silver Bay

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

It was me all along

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life after life

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History

A boring post about eating healthy food after vacation.

Let’s call a spade a spade.  Half of you are probably secretly wondering if I gained like 15 pounds while we were in Italy and the other half of you are like, Kat is talking about healthy living and watching paint dry is more exciting so we’re going to skip this post.  Live and let live!

If I had to guess, I probably gained somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 pounds or so while we were in Italy.  Whatever.  I didn’t weigh myself before the trip, so this is art, not science.  But it was vacation, we only ate carbs, When In Rome, and all of that.

The food in Italy was really wonderful.  Pizza!  Pasta!  Focaccia!  Tiramisu!  Cannoli!  Sfogliatelle!  Arancini!  Gelato!  Panini!

The portions the restaurants served were very reasonable.  The ingredients were fresh.  We walked a great deal each day.

Eating those things (some or all of them) for a night out is one thing.  But eating those things on a consistent basis for 17 days wreaked absolute havoc on my digestive system.  Would I do it again in a heartbeat?  Yes.  Like I said, the food was wonderful.  But (there is always a but), eating that way for that amount of time really crystalized for me why we eat the way that we do (high protein/vegetables/fruits, low processed carbs).

This is the first time I have come back from vacation and I really haven’t been worried about how many pounds I gained.  Mostly, I just want to feel physically good again, which is crazy I am telling you!  I remember when we got back from our honeymoon and the idea of having to lose vacation weight overwhelmed me.  How far we have come!

I can already tell you that I’ve been off the Italian food bandwagon for 48 hours now and the difference is like night and day.  I knew that when I started eating normal-to-me-food, I would start to feel more like myself (aka like my digestive system was functioning normally), but I had no idea that it would happen SO quickly.  Truly, I just feel better.  Now, I’m just looking forward to a season of springtime that is full of running and enjoying the gorgeous weather and getting the grill uncovered and cleaned up so that we can start doing dinners on the deck again!

Back at Home

We landed in Minneapolis yesterday at 5:30 PM.  We were home by 7:00 PM.  I had started my laundry by 7:15 PM.  We were eating dinner by 8:00 PM.  By 8:30 PM we were going on nearly 24 hours of being awake and I collapsed into bed.  What actually happened: I was standing in the kitchen at 8:15 PM, and suddenly, everything felt very heavy, and I knew that if I did not tuck myself in, I was going to fall asleep standing up!

I did wake up a few times during the night, but 10.5 hours later, I finally woke up properly to greet the day.  Sleep.  How magical.

Sunrises: Also so magical.

Sunrise

In the past, we have returned home from vacation one day and have headed straight back to work the next day.  This time…we didn’t do that.  It has honestly been so nice to have a day just to ourselves to relax and get our lives in order for the week ahead!  Also, after spending so much time together (and without anyone else) it gave us the chance to spend the day apart!  Marcus commandeered the basement, and I engaged in my favorite pastime of watching terrible reality TV on Marcus’ side of the bed.

I feel like now is also the time to give the full disclosure that I am just inordinately happy to be home.  Italy was just an incredible trip that we were so lucky to be able to take.  But it has also been pretty splendid to be home, sleeping in our own beds, enjoying our routine, and having a day without a schedule (or plans!).

We are having just a banner day in Minnesota.  68 degrees, sun and a scattering of clouds.  Spring pretty much started last week and the snow has completely melted.  It was actually warmer here than it was in Italy.  I went for a run outside (first one in 17 days!) and that was a really splendid way to kick off spring for us at home.

I did some online shoe shopping – I sourced two pairs of running shoes (on sale!) and a pair of nude pumps because winter wrecked my old pair.  I ate sushi for lunch.  I folded a monstrous pile of laundry.  I drank LaCroix!

Does this feel like a Dear Diary, entry yet?  Because it sort of is.  Anyway.  We are home.  It is good.

Dispatch from Italy: Naples

Today, we are heading home. At last. If we may be so honest, I am a good traveler/vacationer for about 10 days.  And after that, it just starts to get…long. But there is no time for whining because we had more things to see than 10 days could possibly hold!

We spent our last three days in Italy in Naples.  Most guidebooks recommend a day trip from Rome (certainly feasible) or getting lodging in Sorrento. We did neither and stayed in the city to See Antiquities and Eat A Lot Of Neapolitan Pizza. 

We were successful in both.  Our guidebook for this last leg of the trip was a 2011 copy of Rick Steves on Naples and the Amalfi Coast. I picked it up for $2 at a library book sale probably two or three months ago?  Anyway, again for our mild lack of planning, it was super helpful.  We visited the archaeological museum, which is where all of the sculptures and frescoes from Pompeii are now housed. 

We went up to the crater of Mount Vesuvius. 





I wish I could make it sound sort of poetically pretty but it was barren and brutal and it was snowing and there were 40 MPH wind gusts coming off of the rim of the crater.  So maybe that is how it was really supposed to be. 

We visited Pompeii. 





Which was really quite incredible. It is always surreal to see things you have been reading about for years and years. 

And we ate a lot of Neapolitan style pizza.







It was delicious, of course.  After three lunches and theee dinners of the stuff it is safe to say that we have had quite the experience. 

With that, it is time for us to begin the long journey home. We will be awake/traveling for nearly 24 hours straight, so the thought of being reunited with our bed tonight sounds quite excellent. 

Arrivederci Italia!

Friday Food Round-Up!

I’ll be honest. I didn’t have any material for this week’s Friday Food Round-Up before we left for Italy. But on our first night in Florence, we were so wiped out that the idea of sitting through an entire dinner sounded unbearable.  Heck, the idea of being awake sounded unbearable. 

So we headed to the corner grocery store and I assembled this. 



Not so bad, right? Lest you think I am that put-together traveler who breezes into the deli section of a foreign grocery store and orders things straight from the case, everything except for the bread came straight out of the refrigerated section. No shame in my game. 

Tomorrow, we get home and right now I am giving massive amounts of thanks to Past Kat. There is some Chicken Tikka Masala and some Channa Masala in the freezer waiting to be pressed into action for a Welcome Home dinner. There is a meal plan (and grocery list!) for next week hanging on the fridge so we can simply slip back into the routine that is Home. 

America, The Roadtrip: Odessa

The drive from Marfa to Lubbock is about five or so hours.  There’s really only one route back and that drives you straight through Midland and Odessa.  There are miles of hill country (we drove on a ranch road for the first hour of the drive) and that gives way to miles of oil wells.

If you want to see something bizarre, drive through an oil town during a boom (and on the edge of a crash) on a weekend.  It looks no different than an ordinary weekday.

Friday Night Lights was released as a movie in the fall of 2004.  I know everyone has watched the TV show, but once upon a time it was a real story in an actual book about real things that happened in Odessa, Texas.  That is the Friday Night Lights I know.  In that fall of 2004, my senior year of high school, I was captain of the cheerleading squad and Billy played on the football team.  Our football team took second place in the AAAAA state championship.  I graduated, Billy kept playing.  The next year they would win their first state championship.

I wanted to stop in Odessa because I wanted to see Ratliff Stadium.

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I wanted to stop in Odessa because the best stories in life are true.

America, The Roadtrip: Marfa, TX

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You guys, Marfa is really hard to explain.   But if you really want to understand this love child of Brooklyn and Minneapolis, planted 30-ish miles away from the Mexico border, I would say that this Wikipedia page is your best bet.  And if you don’t read it, just know that I want you to imagine the hippest place you have ever been and then imagine a place that is a hundred times more hip.  This is Marfa.

We drove straight to Marfa from Carlsbad and it was quite the sunset haul through the Guadalupe mountain range and the West Texas sunset.

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As we drove into Marfa, we listed to Marfa Public Radio as they talked about Guantanamo, and did the evening’s Astrology forecast.  For those who were wondering, the Eye of Taurus was especially present and rising directly beneath the moon.

Yes, seriously.

The big sight to see in the area is actually Prada Marfa.  We caught it once at night and then drove back the next morning to see it by daylight.

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We stayed at the same hotel that Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean stayed at during the filming of Giant.  I think had we been in Marfa for more than 12 hours, this would have been more interesting, but we simply didn’t have the time to think about it.  What we did have the time to do was go out for dinner at Cochineal.

It was a pretty phenomenal meal.

First course: House Baked Bread With Marfa Yeasts

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Second course: Black Caesar Salad

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It was Billy’s first grilled caesar salad and we were both extremely glad that we ordered our own instead of trying to share.

Main course: Ribeye (for him) and White Bean Soup and Three Cheese and Bread Souffle (for her)

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The souffle was eat ’til it hurts incredible.

After dinner we set out to check out the night scene around town.  Wearing our flannels and surrounded by hipsters wearing mom jeans and using coin purses to carry money, we really felt like we were in our element.

But the icing on the cake was the Museum of Electronic Wonders.  We found them on Yelp because of their late night grilled cheese kitchen (seriously, the place is open 7-8 hours per week).

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Billy and I walked in astonished to find two of the employees/residents trying to troubleshoot a malfunctioning eight track player that would only play The Rolling Stones.  One girl’s solution was to bring her own eight track player in since it played everything.

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In case you are wondering where all of the remaining eight track players are, they are in Marfa.

As fascinating as that discussion was to witness, we did actually intend to order food AKA grilled cheeses while were there.  I’m still not entirely sure if the act of ordering and receiving them was performance art or if the place had any sort of certified kitchen, but we were really there for the experience more than anything else.  After receiving change for our order in dollar coins, which was simultaneously shocking and not shocking at all, we took our sandwiches and were on our way.

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