Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are you ready for Christmas?

10 days ago I was decrying how few season's greetings had been sent. My Christmas card display looked like this:

As of yesterday's deluge of 8 cards, I can't even see my back door through all the beautiful photos and sentiments. Sending and receiving holiday cards might be one of my favorite traditions - I love to be thrifty but I will shell out obscene amounts of money in stamps to say: Merry Christmas, I'm thinking of you!

Last evening I went to a Christmas program for my niece and nephew and then raced home to commence making puppy chow. Although I have baked some for the holidays, I limited myself this year to gifts of gingerbread and puppy chow for snacking. I decided there won't be an absence of sweets anywhere, and they don't need to live at my house!

I still have some gifts to wrap, but they will get done (I HATE WRAPPING!). More importantly, I have watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Family Stone, and Love Actually. In fact, I have watched some corny Hallmark movies as well.

This evening I have 3 different holiday festivities and 2 different gatherings this weekend. Despite feeling overwhelmed I am reminding myself that soon if will be over, the decorations will come down and soon it will be bleak January and February. It's less about being ready (cooking, cleaning, wrapping) for Christmas and more about being ready to enjoy (even the wrapping) the experience of Christmas.

And with that corny realization, I wish you a Merry Christmas. Also, my post from around this time last year still holds true. It helps me enjoy every moment of this crazy, wonderful, snowy, joyful and stressful season.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This Carbonara Hit the Spot!

I know I owe my faithful reader (if there is more than one reader, let me know) a recap of vacation. I am still sorting through photos so a new favorite recipe will have to do.

Over Thanksgiving weekend we were gifted a flat of farm fresh eggs (my cousin has a chicken farm) and a slab of leftover to-die-for ham. After a nice scramble Sunday morning, I started thinking of what could be done to eat our 30+ eggs and not flirt with the cholesterol of someone twice 3x my age. Inspired by my ham, I found a healthy carbonara recipe online. How did people cook before Google?

I don't know about you, but I love carbonara but never get it in restuarants because of its gut-killing richness. Similarly, at home I often talk myself out of making recipes with both heavy cream and bacon. I'll include the link to the recipe, but I can almost re-type it by heart because it is SO SIMPLE.

Disclaimer: I do not really like peas outside of the pod but I decided to go with the recipe and give it a try. In my opinion, the other flavors drown out the peas and you get a bonus serving of vegetables.


  • Frozen peas
  • Bacon (I used ham)
  • Pasta
  • Parmesan
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic cloves
How simple?! I'll give credit to the recipe here. I would also like to add that I was short on grease because I was frying up ham but the amount of reserved pasta water was way too much and made the sauce soupy. In the end, the recipe satisfied my craving for carbonara and I didn't feel to unhealthy afterward.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The answer is...

...Inferno, by Dan Brown. Boticelli's work, which I referenced in my last post, figures heavily in the novel. I was so thankful for the internet and how easily I could pull up the work as I read along.

Actually, I have finished reading Inferno but I don't want to discuss it too much. My mom and I read it together and haven't yet met as a book club of 2, so I will keep my comments brief and under the category of "why I liked the book."

Reason 1: The chapters are very short! I love reading before I go to sleep at night but as someone who likes to read full chapters, I often skip reading because I know I can't make it through a chapter before I fall asleep. I never had a problem finishing a chapter.

Reason 2: Compared to Brown's other novels (Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code) this one felt much more focused. Of course, this could be my own perception but I felt I could follow the plot and research works of art and still keep the trajectory of the novel. Angels and Demons, to contrast, made me feel as if I was spiraling out of control.

Reason 3: It exposed me to Dante - I really wish it would have worked for me to take a class on The Divine Comedy in college.

Reason 4: It had quite the thought provoking ending. I still don't know what to think about it, and I like that.

Reason 5: The novel was a quick and easy read. Let's face it, after a long day, sometimes that is all the reading I can handle.

Speaking of thought provoking, I am currently reading Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. I am finding it as much of a page-turner as Brown's novel. Huh. I'll report back later.

And finally, I have entered the wonderful world of the very smart iphone 5s. I love it! I am hoping it will help me take more pictures and add them to the blog. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the this post but I will hopefully have some wonderful pictures from our vacation and Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guess what I am reading.

Got a guess?

How about if I tell you this is Boticelli's "Map of Hell" and that the work is central to the novel?

In the meantime, check out this interactive version of the artwork.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Great Gatsby

I love F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. Despite my primary grad school focus in African American literature, The Great Gatsby is a novel I return to time and again. My husband and I don't necessarily share the same love of literature, but he is equally transfixed by the novel and we both reread and discuss it frequently. One of the things I love about the novel is that it is so accessible but at the same time it is a work in which you can always discover something new and interesting.

Not too long ago we watched the two earlier interpretations done on film and last night we rented the most recent Baz Luhrmann interpretation. This adaptation has been quite disparaged -- one of the most oft cited criticisms is the anachronistic soundtrack. I beg to differ and I will begin my list there with the 5 things the film does well.

1. Music. Before I saw the film, the soundtrack made me want to watch it. I was interested in how contemporary music would be used. I was sucked in immediately. In one of the opening scenes, Nick Carraway describes New York City as he recalls it upon his arrival. There is a montage of old images of the Wall Street and the economic boom times of the 1920s juxtaposed with Jay-Z's 100$ Bills. Brilliant. I could wax poetic about why it worked, but just watch it. Jay-Z is also a producer of the film. Mull that over!

2. Daisy. I am not overly familiar with Carey Mulligan as an actress but her portrayal of Daisy coupled with Luhrman's vision of her as a projection of male fantasy is brilliant. While I don't agree with David Denby's full review, the paragraph he writes on the character of Daisy is very succinct and worth a read.

3. Visual effects. My caveat here is that I absolutely hated the heavy handed use of Nick Carraway as author and narrator with the words floating across the screen. The vibrant colors, however, and the choreography in nearly every scene was breathtaking. My favorite use was early in the film when Nick first visits the Buchanans and he walks into the room with Daisy and Jordan and the room is overwhelmingly white and bright with the tulle curtains blowing all over. The wind created an optical illusion that was carefully choreographed with the open and shutting of the doors. The other, less metaphorical but still stark use of choreography, includes Gatsby's preparations for tea with Daisy. He arrives at Nick's with his entourage of servants and subsequently stuffs Nick's house full or orchids. Throughout the reuniting of Daisy and Gatsby, you can't help but focus on the exotic flowers. They are often in the foreground of the camera, with Daisy and Gatsby in the background. The opulence is reinforced for the viewer, as they are not a native West Egg flower, and very expensive. Physical, expensive objects play such a large role in Daisy and Gatsby's relationship, it is no coincidence they often are as much of a focus as is the relationship.

And of course, Gatsby's parties are so very over-the-top and perfect images.

4. Myth. Because the novel is so well read, it often is summarized and re-told as if it is a myth (similar to the City on a Hill) instead of a critique of American myths and archetypes. Luhrmann's use of vivid colors and film techniques make you feel as if you are in a myth or fantasy world. As a viewer, this allowed me to ask new questions - especially about the Buchanan household, Tom's American Dream and which couple was more caught up in a fantasy, Daisy and Gatsby, or Daisy and Tom. Which character lived out reality? Who was the most hopeful or cynical? Who in the film would see the world as fantastical, as Luhrmann portrayed it?

5. IT WASN'T BORING. As much as I love Robert Redford and Paul Rudd, the film's they starred in were boring. (Full disclosure: I don't really like Tobey Maguire or Leonardo Di Caprio). Forgive my stereotyping, but those screenplays must have been written by an old man in a tweed sport coat and a pipe imagining a careful Gatsby world. It could be opulent, but only as opulent as his imagination could allow. This recent movie is BIGGER and more INVENTIVE and INTERESTING. Why would anyone want to see another Gatsby movie that is just like the previous films?

Needless to say, this film didn't do everything well. I can't decide if I liked how the ash heaps were brought to life or if I liked Carraway viewed as a recovering alcoholic. Luhrmann and associates did entertain me and allow me to return to a narrative I love and see it with fresh eyes.

And now I am off to listen to the soundtrack, again. Please forgive my old habits of not explaining my thoughts fully and throwing them down - however, I am no longer graded on my thoughts and executing their logic.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Sunday, October 6th came and went and Stephen and I ran a marathon - all 26.2 miles of it. Three days later we feel pretty good and are anxious to start working out again this weekend. It still hasn't sunk in that we have actually run a marathon - something we have been working toward for such a long time. I am looking forward to the in-race pictures, but for now, enjoy my series of before and after.

Before photo - nervous and excited

After, with our medals. Exhausted and in pain.

After, clean and showered.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Running a marathon is hard!

Actually, I can only assume running a marathon is hard. I haven't done it yet. I will say with complete certainty, training for a marathon is hard. Here's a little pro and con list in case you are thinking of training for a marathon.

Let's start with the cons:

  1. I am tired, all the time.
  2. Weekend schedules revolve around long-runs and I haven't gone to a local farmer's market all summer.
  3. Chaffing. Enough said.
  4. I don't care what I eat and I have crazy running cravings like deep friend cheese curds (alright, maybe this is a pro?).
  5. When I am not running, I want to watch TV or sleep. Reading has gone by the wayside, as has blogging, or being creative in the kitchen.
  6. It is really hard. Every run I do is over 13 miles is just painful.
There are a few pros:
  1. I ran 8 miles this weekend. It felt like nothing. I know I have reached another level in my running.
  2. Running is guaranteed time spent one-on-one with my husband. We do nearly every run together, without our ipods.
  3. When people ask what's new, I actually have small talk to respond with. I tell them I am training for a marathon.
  4. All the hard work should culminate in running and finishing a marathon = bucket list check mark.
Perhaps the biggest positive factor in this training experience is the reflection and goal setting it provides me. When my life revolved around academics and a semester, goals and working toward something was a given. I was always striving for something big and small: to complete the semester, to get a degree, to get a job, to complete an assignment, to write a paper, etc. As an adult in the "real world" goals come in different, less clear terms. A goal to buy a house is great, but can be effected by so many other factors beyond your control. Training for a marathon, despite weather and injury, is pretty defined. You put in the miles, you get better and can hopefully run 26.2 miles without succumbing to death.
Stephen and I before our first half marathon in 2009!

Stephen and I after our half marathon in May 2013
 I looked for pictures from our first running event, a 5k in 2008 but I couldn't find it. We were so nervous for that church 5k. However, we conquered that 5k and many other runs since then, including our 13.1 miles in May. What do you think we'll look like after our 26.2 miles?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A little promotion...

In the past week, I have learned of a friend getting engaged and two friends having babies. I think the ratio of good news demonstrates I am getting old (I know, age is a number, but lifestyles are changing). The number of weddings this summer is being beaten out by babies and baby showers. Therefore, more of my readers and peers are going to be increasingly concerned about children's health. If so, I invite you to check this blog from Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, with the most recent post by my sister-in-law Jennifer.

PS I apologize for my measly two posts in August. Maybe September will be better...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Angels in the Outfield

Growing up, Angels in the Outfield  was one of my favorite movies. A few years ago my husband and I revisited the film and enjoyed all the old jokes--and some we didn't get as children.

On Friday night, we had our 8-year-old nephew sleepover and we introduced him to Angels in the Outfield. HE. LOVED. IT. He laughed harder at portions than I have even laughed in my life. So, let's say it was a good evening. No matter your age (or interest in baseball) check out Angels in the Outfield for a little laughter.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

2nd Anniversary Celebration

Stephen and I just celebrated our second anniversary. Where does the time go? Our actual anniversary, August 6th, was your average, busy workday so we hit up the Mason Street Grill happy hour. I hate to advertise too much for fear more people will catch on, but it is a great deal ($2 draft beers, $5 small plates), great food, and a great atmosphere.
Our favorite wedding picture

The weekend prior to our anniversary, we celebrated in a unique way. By doing nothing. Alright, not really nothing, but by having a relaxing day at home. We slept in. We made a fresh coffee cake for brunch. Then we headed to the beach to people watch. And finally we made dinner at home. It took some planning, but I finally settled on the perfect menu.


Cheesy Jalapenos Pull Bread
Broiled Lobster Tail
Fresh sweet corn on the cob with romano cheese
Fresh strawberries
Chocolate ganache torte

It seems just like yesterday, but a few years ago I was allowed into the realm of Pinterest, and one of my first pins was Cheesy Jalapeno Pull Bread. Well, I finally made it! I do recommend using fresh jalapenos instead of pickled. They compliment the green onions well, and we had plenty of jalapenos from a friend's garden.

We ate the bread while we had cocktails and we were able to save half of the loaf to be reheated for a later meal. I am looking forward to doing variations on this bread when I just want a warm, comforting meal--especially in the winter.

I also really enjoyed this meal because of the timing. In the afternoon I prepped everything; shucked the corn, cleaned the strawberries, cut the lobster shell, etc. I set the water for the corn to boil while we ate the bread. When we were stuffed with bread I melted butter over the lobster tails and added paprika and salt and pepper. When the lobster was nearly done I through in the corn on the cob and voila...dinner!

It was nice to celebrate with Stephen in our home, an environment I find myself yearning for when I get busy. We got dressed up and made sure it was a special occasion; we used our china for the first time. It was nice to be surrounded by our wedding pictures and the life we have built together as we reflected on two years of marriage.

Happy Anniversary, my love!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vacation has come and gone

Stephen and I were fortunate enough to be able to go on vacation to Cedar Rapids Lodge again this July. (You can read about last year here). As usual, I was able to read, tan, and swim. Here are some highlights from the week:

Playing checkers
Staring contests

Racing minnows

Dining out in Bemidji

Watching it rain

Jumping in the pool

Visiting friends in Minneapolis
Very few moments of the fun were caught on camera...that's how much fun we had! If you are still in need of a vacation, visit Cedar Rapids Lodge. I can't think of a better way to spend a week outside!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Sights of Summer

This isn't a picture of the sun, or the beach, or vacation. This is Strawberry Fest - and what is a better symbol of early summer than a strawberry? I enjoyed my time at Strawberry Fest, and especially this behind-the-scenes operation.

Strawberry Fest workers loading up fresh strawberries.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Creamy Avocado Pasta

Somehow it is already July and I feel like I have barely cooked in months. I blame it on on of the following three things: always wanting to grab dinner or brunch outside at a local establishment, grilling, and the desire to NOT.EVER turn on the oven and heat up the house.

Luckily, I have a small antidote to that. My every other week produce box. Occasionally produce piles up and you just need to eat it, somehow-someway. This tends to create a lot of salads at our house. However, as of Sunday evening I had 6 ripe avocados sitting on my counter and aside from sitting my husband down and telling him to eat 3 avocados for dinner, I needed to get creative.

I remedied the situation with Creamy Avocado Pasta, a recipe from The Flourishing Foodie with my own modifications.

2 pints of cherry tomatoes (yes, this is A LOT of tomatos, but it was a great ratio)
3 - 4 tbsp olive oil
4 servings of fettuccine noodles (I used a spinach/chive variety from Trader Joe's)
2 ripe avocados, seed and skin removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
grated fresh Parmesan cheese (this was in the original recipe, and as much as I love cheese, I don't think you need it for flavor or texture).
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 ºF.

Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and bake for 1 hour in the oven. You might even want to add some salt and pepper at this roasting stage. I suggest using foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup and a happy husband (who does the dishes at my house).

Meanwhile, boil pasta. While the pasta is boiling, add 2 tbsp olive oil, avocado, garlic, salt and lemon juice to a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are smooth and creamy.

Strain the pasta, and combine with the sauce in a large bowl, until all the pasta has been covered and then add the roasted tomatoes. You can then add some salt and black pepper to taste, as well as the Parmesan cheese.

At the same time I was roasting the tomatoes I threw in a rack of zucchini I needed to use up. I did add Parmesan to the zucchini, as well.

The only negative element to this recipe is that avocados don't stay fresh and lend themselves to leftovers. While the sauce didn't turn brown, my husband said the leftovers turned a little slimy. To put it a different way, this is the perfect recipe when you are starving and want to eat more than the recommended serving size.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vive La Revolution

For the past 9 months or so I have been part of a committee/group called SkylightENSEMBLE. You can read more about it here. Being involved has allowed me to network, meet other young professionals, learn more about Skylight and musical theater in Milwaukee, usher, and volunteer my time. Needless to say, I am so glad I got involved.


This Friday we are having a party! If you are looking for something to do Friday night, please come! (And if you are already busy, change your plans!) I will be there, my husband will be there, as will other friends and family. What is better than a night out with friends, some good drinks and food, and dancing? I don't know about you, but I could use a night like that once a week.

If you need more information - leave me a comment or see my crazy Facebook wall. Here is the link to the event page and all the information you need to purchase tickets. I will leave you with this video about this event and the upcoming Skylight season from TMJ4.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A weekend of celebrations!

Last weekend we celebrated Stephen's birthday, the wedding of two of our friends, and Father's Day. We were exhausted by the end of the weekend--but what else are you going to do when your husband turns 28 and you are in your college town for the weekend? It could be our last St. Norbert wedding, so we lived it up. Living it up included sleeping very little and frequenting as many of our favorite De Pere establishments, like Bilotti's. Who doesn't want pizza at 2:30 in the afternoon? Or Erbs and Gerbs at 2:30 am?

It was also a weekend of catching up with old friends and old talents. Check out my husband Irish dancing at the reception. Did you know he could do that? Can't wait for Irish Fest!

I hope you are having lots of summer fun. I am looking forward to another weekend with good weather and good food.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Milwaukee County Parks

Disclaimer: I wrote this post Monday during my lunch and I ran out of time to post it. Hopefully it inspires you to get outside this weekend!

My husband and I spent a wonderful weekend outside. Although the temperature could have been a bit warmer, it was wonderful to be outside both Saturday and Sunday. In fact, I just realized that we visited 3 different Milwaukee County parks this weekend.

Saturday morning we ran through Lake Park and past the North Point Lighthouse. Saturday evening we visited Estabrook Park and Beer Garden with our friends Aaron, Emily, and Ziggy. Then on Sunday we met up with even more friends Andy, Megan, Tom, and Maria for some relaxation and Kubb at Veterans Park along the lake. (The link for Kubb takes you to the Wiki page, which if it is to be believed, states there is a yearly Kubb tournament in Madison every year. Sweet!)

As a renter and someone with a teeny, tiny yard, I appreciate the public park system. Especially when I have 3+ parks within a few miles of my home. Now if it would just warm up enough so I could visit one of our fine beaches, as well.

My park to do list:

  • Custard at Northpoint
  • Bradford Beach
  • Golf at Lake Park
  • Tour the Northpoint lighthouse

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where do you get your produce?

One of my goals for the year has been to be better about how and where I procure my produce. I like to know my vegetables are organic, but I also know receiving the organic label can be a bit of a gimmick. Plus, I find it nearly impossible to buy the organic celery sitting next the regular celery at Pick n' Save. I tend to think about what else I could do with that dollar (like buy sushi for dinner instead of cooking).

The first thing my husband and I did to improve how we get our produce was to set a goal of going to more Farmers Markets. We failed to show up at the indoor Farmers Market held during the winter, but in our defense, we didn't learn about it until March. (So you have a fighting chance this winter, here's more information.) We still have time to fail at going regularly this summer.

Early this spring I started researching CSA's after getting inspired by a wonderful Wisconsin Foodie that featured Springdale Farms. The big hindrance for me? Having to pay out all that money up front. Intellectually, I know  I  am an essential investor and my returns are the fruits and vegetables. As my bank statements and net worth will tell you, I am no venture capitalist, even for fruits and vegetables.

So, next option? Growing Power. You can find out more at their website, but Will Allen is our celebrity urban farmer here in Milwaukee (or anywhere, for that matter) and they are a great organization. They were an excellent choice for produce, although not always organic. I only had to commit one week at a time to my order, and the price was reasonable. I did have to use my lunch hour to pick up the produce, but I was pretty content.

And then...the greatest employer's wellness program. Frankly, this whole wellness program has been a big pain in the you-know-what. I work out, as you know, a fair amount. I just ran a half marathon, people! The amount of work it takes to get credit for a daily workout is more time consuming than me workout some days. Anyway, my employer is partnering with Brewer's Organics. So far, they are wonderful! I get a box of produce delivered to my office on Friday (or, every other Friday, as I choose). I have until Wednesday at midnight to sub out fruits and vegetables that I may not like, and I can always add additional items for their market value. Everything is always certified organic (although not necessarily local, and I can't quite decide what is more important...).

The best part, however, is I don't get in a food rut. It forces me to be more creative with my vegetables, to really make sure we don't get lazy and eat frozen pizza three nights in a row for dinner (I have never actually done that, but it kind of sounds good). I have tried a few new vegetables, like ramps, and accidentally let some things go bad, like apricots after Memorial Day weekend.

Oh, and I planted some peppers and tomatoes! I am hoping to reap more than I did last year! Thank you, drought, for stunting my adorable eggplants and at the size that would only make Barbie full!
My promising eggplant blossom last year.

Just so you know, I am not advocating/or disparaging any kind of produce program. If I have any agenda, it is simply that eating fruits and vegetables is important. And secondly, that I think it is good to consider how those fruits and vegetables were obtained. I know I am very lucky to have the food choices I do! If anyone has any local produce tricks or thoughts, let me know.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We did it!

Sunday morning Stephen and I pealed ourselves out of bed at 5:20 am. At 7:05 am we took off running for two hours. And we ran 13.1 miles. We did it!

Next up, 26.2 miles in October! We got this...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Reading notes

Lately, I have been reading a lot and writing very little. Sometimes that happens. Here are some reading suggestions.

1. This article. I am not in my 30s, but it applies. Especially the last paragraph.

2. The novel entitled Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. This novel was an impulse grab at the library. I was returning a book, needed a new book, was late leaving work and I still had another errand. I was very skeptical but I learned more about traumatic brain injury than I ever thought. Seriously, google the term "left neglect"and try to think about how it works.

3. Since I started this post I am on to a new novel, Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni. The premise of the novel is extremely difficult to explain, and I'll point you to the New York Times Book Review, although I am not sure I agree with the reviewers' conclusion. I highly recommend the first novel (in what will be a series of three), Angelology. These novels manage to combine art history, Catholicism, the study of angelology, detective work and so many other threads. They are just amazing and really challenge the mind while reading. A month ago I was lucky enough to see Danielle Trussoni speak and read an excerpt of Boswell Books. Also, she is a Wisconsin native!

4. Real Simple, Cooking Light, and Bon Appetit. Every month I receive all three of these publications. I constantly try new recipes keep me fresh in the kitchen. I absolutely hate getting in a meal rut. The challenge, however, is not to let them take over my life. I quickly get behind in issues, stack them somewhere, and soon my tidy magazine baskets are overflowing. My goal for today: sort through them, make notes for dinner ideas, and file the ones I want to keep.

Of course, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I might just have to get outside and not attend to any of it!

Monday, April 29, 2013

New York City

This past weekend I traveled to New York City with one of my best friends. We had both been to the city before, so relaxing while taking in the city was a top priority. We also had beautiful was almost too we tried to spend as much time outside, taking in the city.

Although it wasn't my first time in the city, it was my first time taking in a Broadway show. We were lucky enough to see the 2012 Tony Best New Musical Once. I loved the movie the show was based on and I was more than impressed with the show. If are in NYC, I highly recommend it.

Some of our activities included walking the Brooklyn bridge (which was unfortunately under construction), taking in the Chelsea outdoor market, and walking the high line. We also spent a lot of time sampling cocktails at neat beer gardens and restaurants. And eating. Eating pizza, hot dogs, aged manchego, lobster ravioli, and pastrami sandwhiches.

Overall, it was a great weekend, even the trip to the airport! A weekend exploring a city with a best friend is a weekend well spent.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Life in Milwaukee Lately

I just realized that I have written any updates in over 3 weeks. My apologies. Here are the highlights from month of April.

1. The Rumpus Room - This gastro pub is in the bottom of the building I work in and I have had some wonderful lunches there. It's real niche, however, is late night dinning. My parents were in town and after a show we headed over to The Rumpus Room for some drinks and snacks--I loved the spicy popcorn. It was a great atmosphere and I recommend it after any event downtown.

2. The Mitchell Park Domes - We visited this horticultural conservancy on my birthday. If you have never been, the Mitchell Park Domes are part of the Milwaukee County Park System and a great way to spend a few hours when the weather outside is less than enjoyable.

3. The Odd Duck - Best. restaurant. ever. Stephen and I also wandered around Bayview on my birthday and had a fabulous small plates birthday dinner at this new restaurant. Every dish I had was delicious...I couldn't pick a favorite if I tried (maybe the stuffed bell peppers with herbs and feta). I recommend checking it out as soon as possible--but make a reservation. It is a popular place.

4. Clock Shadow Creamery and Purple Door Ice Cream - These two wonderful dairy entities share a shop space in Walkers Point. Certain days Clock Shadow makes cheese and on the other days Purple Door makes ice cream. The fresh cheese curds are delicious. But my favorite, the ice cream. It is delicious, creamy, and I haven't met a flavor that I don't like (from whiskey to chocolate). Proceeds from Purple Door (a non-profit) goes to providing milk to homeless shelters in the area. If you can't make to Walker's Point, head to your local Sendik's and pick up a pint.

5. Antiques on Second - Do you have an hour? Or a whole day? I am not a big antiquer, but Stephen and I have frequented this antique store twice in the past month. We have picked up a few old books and albums for our record player.

We have had a fun April in Milwaukee! What are your favorite things to do in Milwaukee in the springtime?

Monday, April 1, 2013

50 Miles

Visit to register if you are looking for a spring race
I think I have mentioned this before, but Stephen and I are going to be completing both a half marathon and full marathon this year. We have always run regularly but since our last half marathon (back in 2009, yikes!), we have struggled to do much more than the occasional 5 mile run. We have kind of plateaued at the average 3-4 mile run.

We are back on the running wagon. Our first event is the Madison half marathon Memorial Day weekend. As part of our training we have already completed a 9 mile run and we have an 11 mile run on the docket for Saturday. All this running has been completed in pretty crappy weather, as well.

At the recommendation of one of our friends, we are keeping track of our mileage this year. Every time we run, even it is 1/2 mile and we are just too cold and tired to do more, we log it. This has led to some interesting motivation. I don't want to write down a small mileage amount, and it pushes us to get out and run when we might be inclined to skip the shorter runs. January, for example, was a bad month and we only ran 4 times. And we documented this. And see it every time we write down our mileage.

Last night I totaled up our mileage for the month of March. My friends, we ran 50 miles! I am hoping to match that in April, and it can only get easier as it gets warmer, right?

Any runners out there have any tricks for holding themselves accountable to put in the miles?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Easter Flag

Early this week I finished my Easter flag. I fell in love with this flag, but I didn't want to hang it outside and spend $40.

First, I made the first flag for St. Patrick's day. I wrote about it here.

With the Easter flag, I had a hard time with proportions. Both the bunny and the letters were smaller than I originally envisioned, but I love the periwinkle paint on the burlap. It's not perfect, but I enjoyed the project. I feel a little more ready for Easter.
My stencil letters, smaller than I wanted.

The finished project hanging on my back door.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Recent Project - Homemade Goldfish

One night this week I decided I wanted to make homemade goldfish crackers. Stephen goes through about a bag a week--they are his office snack. I guess I thought if they were fun to make, delicious, and obviously less processed than the original (sorry, Pepperidge farms) then it would be a win all around.

I used this recipe and the dough was very easy to make. After I finished baking our dinner I left the oven on and rolled out the dough.

Yes, we do own a rolling pin. At this moment in time, I can't find it. I packed it away somewhere safe because we never used it. Well, I have needed a rolling pin twice this week and it can't be found. Luckily, we drink wine, so the bottle was a pretty smooth substitute.

After rolling out the dough we reached my least favorite part. Cutting out the crackers. I used a little metal circle the size of a bottle cap. THIS PART WAS TEDIOUS. And because the dough has a lot of cheese in it, I got a little greasy. This endeavor reminded me of why I hate cut-out cookies. Thank goodness I didn't have to frost these crackers after they came out of the ove.

I don't have any pictures of the finished product, but they were delicious and smelled wonderful baking. I don't think I will be baking these regularly to feed my husband's goldfish habit. I might, however, bake them when I have a craving for a cheesy snack. I have never been a fan of the "fake" cheese variety (Cheezits, Goldfish, etc.) but I know these snacks have 8 oz. of pure cheddar!

This recipe reinforced that just because you can make something from scratch doesn't mean you should. Yes, you have to eat dinner every night but you don't have to eat a baked cracker snack. I think my sweet spot for recipes is more in the lunch/dinner area, however, I just might make these again for the right occasion.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Garrett's Popcorn

A combination of oh-so-yummy cheese and caramel popcorn is making me happy this week.

The yummy goodness, courtesy of Garrett's own blog.
This past week my in-laws headed to Chicago for a weekend getaway. They asked if we "needed" anything from Chicago. Upon their asking, I remembered how many people I have heard raving about this slightly unusual combination of popcorn flavors. While I was skeptical, I said if they ended up making a stop at Garrett's (an institution in Chicago that I knew they had previously frequented), I would love to try this combination. Well, they sweetly obliged and Stephen and I spent last night on the couch eating ourselves silly. 

Seriously, I am surviving this Monday post-one-hour-less-sleep-time-change with the end-goal of sitting down on the couch with my popcorn and television shows. To those of you who have known of this deliciousness, I apologize for being late to the party but I am here now! It is SO YUMMY!

Friday, March 8, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Flag

I have had a few projects going lately. The first one to be finished, a St. Patrick's Day flag, is now proudly hanging on my back door. I set out to make an Easter flag, and I will, but with an extra piece of burlap and leftover green paint, I just had to make something for the Irish holiday!

When I started this flag project, I emailed my friend Cammie (her blog) about burlap. I knew she had done some crafting with it, and that she had sewing skills. My friends, I can barely sew a button on so my crafting endeavors oftentime stall out with the threat of sewing. She loved my idea and sent me two different textures of burlap flags. Thank you, Cammie.

My very patient husband and I headed to Michaels for the necessary supplies. Aside from the burlap for the flag, we needed some wood dowels, stencils, and paint (some of these supplies will be used for the other flag).

I have mentioned that we have been refinishing a shelf in a dark green paint (formally known as the color "Comfy Corduroy") so we used that paint for the dowels and shamrocks. I painted the dowels and the wood balls for the end. Then I found a shamrock stencil I liked online, printed it out and made multiple sizes out of cereal boxes. I traced the shamrocks onto the burlap--I had already tested the paint on a scrap of burlap, which I recommend--and filled them in with a combination of different brushes. I considered using the stencils like a stamp but I liked the worn look that came with the free-hand painting.

When I finish my Easter flag, I will share the inspiration behind the whole project. Until then, have a Guinness and enjoy the St. Patrick's Day festiveness. I sure am enjoying my flag!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is it spring yet?

Those tulips were the center-piece for my Oscar gathering on Sunday night. It wasn't anything too fancy, just laughing with a few friends, cringing at Seth MacFarlane, and eating lots of yummy food. The spread included chips and homemade salsa, chocolate covered strawberries, brie puff pastry with fruit, and a lovely warm shrimp dish on fresh bread. We decided that sometimes you just want to eat appetizers and snacks, not meals. And eat we did.

I had grand ideas for more themes related to the movies or the Oscars. I was even going to print out an  Oscar ballot, but we were out of printer ink. In the end, I landed on putting my tulips in a popcorn bowl. Festive, right? I guess I should have looked at Pinterest sooner than the day before! The tulips are still residing in the popcorn bowl four days later but I haven't the heart to move them into a different vase lest I disturb them and my touch of spring is gone. The husband and I are dreadfully tired of snow and can use any sign of spring we can get!

Aside from my tulips, I have a few springtime projects in the works for St. Patrick's Day and Easter that I will be sharing soon. How are you coping with the end of winter?

Saturday, February 23, 2013


I have not done my weekly post on what in pop culture is making me happy. So, today is the day. No contest, Ellen, is making me happy on a nearly daily basis.

Stephen and I have started DVRing Ellen's show during the day while we are at work. When we sit down to relax at night, we cruise through her show. I love her opening monologue. It always makes me laugh and puts a smile on my face. Overall, there is just so much joy on the show.

Recently, Ellen has been featuring two young British girls with so much talent, Sophia Grace and Rosie. Check out them out in the video below. And if you need to smile and laugh, check out Ellen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Soft Pretzel Bites

I haven't posted about any recipes in a while, so I will share my most recent food experiment. On Super Bowl Sunday I made soft pretzel bites, with the help of my mother-in-law. I had pinned the recipe on Pinterest and once I made a new year's resolution to bake more bread, I knew I had to try it.

I used this recipe. In its original incarnation, it is an Alton Brown recipe. It turned out deliciously! 

Keep in mind that adding baking soda to the water is necessary for boiling at not too high of a temperature, but it will make a mess of your stove top. Also, bake for a few extra minutes if you like the pretzels crispy. The cheese sauce, while a little intense to make, is made with all real ingredients and reheats like a dream if you want to make the sauce and reheat. Finally, it is a little tedious make all the "bites," but I don't know if a different size bite would work with the dough and/or recipe.

I apologize for not taking any pictures, but they were gone before the power went out in the Superdome!

For those of you keeping score at home, I have now baked 3 times with yeast! How are your 2013 resolutions going?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Edith Piaf

Last night my friend Maria and I went out. We grabbed a lobster dinner at the public market and headed to Skylight Music's performance of Edith Piaf. Since the show, I have been thinking about the Edith Piaf, "La Vie En Rose," and all of the other captivating songs I heard. Take a listen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mindy Kaling

Without a doubt, Mindy Kaling is making me happy this week. My husband and I have really enjoyed her show, The Mindy Project, on Tuesday nights. The show is smart and makes you laugh, what is better? Actually, there is something better. One of our good friends from college reminds us of the main character, Mindy (or does Mindy remind us of our friend?). Either way, this reinforces the depth of Mindy (the character, although I assume Mindy Kaling is very deep) and the great writing on the show! 

While my husband enjoys the more shocking moments of humor, mainly the eccentric nurse Morgan and his antics, I find enjoyment in pretty much everything Mindy says or does (or wears). At the risk of sounding like I am gushing, I will be more pointed in my analysis. Mindy often says out loud either (a) what I would be thinking in a situation or (b) what I have said in a similar situation. For example, in last night's episode Mindy over-explains why she will be attending a cocktail party by herself to her medical partners. The instance of justification is very comedic and also brings me to a place of catharsis because I have been in a similar situation.You can find out more about the show here.

At the recommendation of the aforementioned Mindy-like friend, I sought a copy of Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). On Monday I picked up a copy from the library and have stayed up past my bedtime every day this week reading the book. It is not simply an autobiography or tell-all. The book is organized with thematic essays and vignettes, which makes it much more interesting. I could be finished but I continually laugh out loud and then force my husband to listen to me read a few lines out loud. (And it is so delicious that I don't want to read it too fast).

Perhaps I should have waited until I finished the book to blather with excitement, but I can't wait that long! So, the votes are in and overall, Mindy Kaling is making me happy this week. More coming on my verdict of the book...

Photo Courtesy of Google Books

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To Wichita and Back

This weekend Stephen and I made the journey to Wichita, Kansas for a wedding. Stephen's cousin Alissa married Colin in a beautiful ceremony.

The happy couple!
The whole Jaeger family (Stephen's mom's family) was together.
The Jaeger family with the newlyweds.
We were short on sleep all weekend, but not on fun. We danced, and even learned some new Kansas traditions.
Luke and I going under the bridge.

Now as we recover from all the fun, Stephen and I wish Alissa and Colin a wonderful first week of marriage at home on the range. While you're at it, check out their blog!

Congratulations and best wishes, Alissa and Colin. Thank you for a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

1st Post of 2013

I started 2013 with a bang. I started a new job! As such, life went from holiday-crazy to a whole new kind of crazy. In other words, adjusting to a new schedule, place of employment, etc. In the midst of my transitiong, I also came down with a killer cold. Luckily, it wasn't the flu, but I am still using more than my fair share of kleenex.

Because of all that excitement I didn't tell you about our wonderful St. Norbert friend reunion we had here in Milwaukee before the New Year or our fabulous New Year's Eve celebration we had with homemade pizzas with a group of dear friends. And to top it off, I can't even show you pictures (I did take them!) because we don't currently have a home computer (I am also blaming my lack of blogging on that).

What I can update you on: my New Year's resolutions and my pop-culture happiness (a catch-up addition of my "What is making me happy this week!")

So, resolutions. I actually have completed one!

1. Start baking--and by baking I mean breads, pizza crusts, things with yeast, etc. (I made a wonderful whole wheat Italian herb bread not once but twice now!)

2. Get back into a better reading groove. This includes listening to my New York Times Book Review podcast, which I had gotten out of the habit of keeping up with and following my local bookstore, Boswell Books, blog.

3. Run a half marathon, and a full marathon with my husband.

Currently, the third resolution is in the saddest state. However, Stephen and I gave ourselves January to take a little break and run only when we really want to. We have completed a half marathon before, so we know we have that under control. The full marathon is the real challenge, but that won't be until October, so slow and steady...

In regards to what is making me happy? One word: TELEVISION. Stephen and I gave ourselves a few lazy days in the past few weeks, especially with our colds. Our cable provider allowed us one full weekend of free Showtime, where we frantically DVR'd any- and everything. During this weekend I discovered the television show Shameless. It is the most difficult show to head here! I have the first season speeding toward me in a red Netflix envelope.

So for your own edification, and because I am curious about the final tally, I will list out all the television shows I am watching right now that are currently on air and making me happy:

  • Downton Abbey 
  • Shameless
  • Go On
  • How I Met Your Mother (although I am losing patience with the show)
  • Bunheads
  • Parenthood
  • The Mindy Project (the funnist new show of the year)
  • New Girl
  • Glee
  • Mad Men
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Around the Corner with John McGivern (a local Milwaukee Public Television favorite)
  • Suits
  • Smash
  • American Horror Story
So, 14 shows might be a little much!  Currently, Madmen, Suits, and Smash are not back on air. Glee hasn't been new this January and Parenthood will be wrapping up for the season in the next 2 weeks. But let me just say that watching this much TV requires DVR capabilities and the patience to avoid spoilers online and catch up on them later.

Enjoy this list and understand I am very busy, what with all that TV to watch and resolutions to keep ;) ...Hope to be back on a weekly blogging schedule soon! Stay tuned.