Friday, October 17, 2014

Walt Disney World

My first trip to Walt Disney World was three  years ago on my honeymoon. Last week, Stephen and I ventured back with his family and it was so much fun to watch our niece and nephews. If you follow me on any of my social media outlets, you might have seen these pictures.

I didn't manage to snag a picture at Epcot, but I was too busy eating. We were there during their Food and Wine show. I LOVE Epcot!

It was a great vacation. Each day included lots of hot sun, rides, a little pool time, and some good eats. And lots of smiles and laughter.

Who doesn't laugh when you take a selfie this poorly while on a faux African Safari?

Although it was still 90 degrees and sunny everyday, I didn't mind. Wisconsin didn't have a summer this year. Looking at all of the fall decorations made me eager for fall back home. Most of all, it was a true vacation. Although we were walking a lot (an average of 10 miles a day) and trying to cram every last ounce of fun in the day, it meant I had no time to think of work, real life, or anything but how to get to my next ride before the Fast Pass expired. It was kind of like being a kid again!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Habenero Relish and a Garden Update

This is my third year experimenting with gardening, and it is by far my best year--especially if you are in the market for Habenero peppers. My brandywine tomatoes are impressing me slowly, but surely, and my Roma tomatoes are doing ok. My beefeaters? Not the best. My tomato plants loved the weather this summer and destroyed the trellises that were supposed to help them stand up and keep the tomatoes off the ground. Before I could make adjustments, it was past the point of no return and the beefeaters took the biggest hit. Although I wanted to be drowning in tomatoes, I am sure I have made back the $$ in homegrown produce vs. the price of the plant, and again, I have learned a lot. Harvest season is not over yet, and I still have a lot of green tomatoes I am waiting on.

My Habenero plant is in a large pot (to control the size of the plant) and I still have more peppers than I know what to do with. Apparently, it is common knowledge that Habenero's are warmer than jalapeno peppers, but I didn't learn that until Stephen and I managed to choke down a pretty disastrous quiche. I can't add them to things the way I do jalapenos. 

I needed to do something with my prize Habenero pepper crop, so to Pinterest I went. I found a Habenero Relish here. I think the vinegar is what distinguishes it from a salsa, but I am not 100% well-versed in salsa vs. relish issues. 

I generally followed the recipe, although I used a red onion I had on hand and added a few stalks of celery that were looking a bit sad in the crisper drawer in the name of thriftiness. After softening all the veggies and adding the vinegar, I poured the mixture into a mason jar to chill and later that day, spread it on some grilled hot dogs in honor of Labor Day. Excellent flavor, with a kick that doesn't overwhelm.

P.S. Stephen has also been eating it on tortilla chips and crackers. So, if you want, call it a salsa.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Happy 3 Years, Stephen

Yesterday, Stephen and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. For our first anniversary we did a mini-getaway in the Green Bay area, where we were married, and I reflected on one year of marriage here. Last year we celebrated by spending some time cooking at home (last year's blog post). This year we chose to dine at Sanford, a unique staple in the Milwaukee restaurant scene. The chef and owner just won a James Beard award this year. We opted for the 7 course Chef''s surprise and thoroughly enjoyed our 3 hour dining experience and each other's company.

I love you, Stephen. I am excited for another year!

This is what 3 years of marriage looks like

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer foods

You may not have heard from me a lot this summer but I have found my way around the kitchen a few times. In fact, the cooler temps have led to more baking than usual.  Below are some favorites from my kitchen this summer.

  • Grilled peaches - The produce co-op I use often gives me peaches. They are not my favorite fruit, but when you slice them in half, fill the pit hole with brown sugar and throw them on the grill as you bring the meet inside, DELICIOUS.
  • Homemade pizza - This has been a nearly weekly occasion. I was able to make my own batch of pizza dough once, but I have not mastered it at all. However, the local Italian grocery store, Glorioso's is homemade (just not in my home) and there is always Trader Joe's for a decent crust. We generally make two types, with one always the margarita with tomato, mozzarella and basil. While our tomatoes are slowly readying themselves for harvest in our garden, the basil has been keeping us happy all summer.

    The first tomato
  • Strawberry muffins - During one glorious lunch hour, I was able to meet Stephen and attend the West town Farmer's Market here in Milwaukee. It was right at the end of peak strawberry season and I stocked up. And then I made some yummy strawberry muffins. I used whole wheat flour and added a few chocolate chips to make them a bit sweeter. They are dense and they kept me full for a few hours.

Strawberry muffin
  • Chocolate swirl buns - I love Annie's Eats for inspiration. She makes amazing food but also has 2 kids and a career, so I don't get intimidated when I read more complex recipes. If she has time to cook, then I can take the time. The dough for these buns did not go well and I almost threw them out. And they definitely didn't look as pretty as they did here but they were yummy!
Tonight I am anticipating baking some zucchini bread and cookies and as I plan for the weeks ahead, I am hoping for oodles of salsa, BLT's, caprese salads and even a little homemade tomato sauce canned for the first time ever!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Milwaukee Brewing Company

Back in mid June we celebrated Stephen's 29th birthday and had some wonderful friends, Kelly and Mike, visit us from Chicago. We had lots of fun that weekend...lots of eating, drinking, and laughing. One of our fun activities was a tour at the Milwaukee Brewing Company facilities. If you are ever in the area, I'll gladly take the tour with you again. Great beer and casual, informative setting. It doesn't hurt that the brewery is in one of my favorite Milwaukee neighborhoods, Walkers Point.

The 4 of us during a drinking break

Friends for 20+ years

Thursday, June 19, 2014

May Highlights

Now that we are midway through June, it's about time for an update on the May happenings. May included our nephew's First Communion, a good friend's graduation from Marquette with an MA in political science, and finally being able to celebrate Mother's Day and my mom's birthday with an outing to Skylight's production of Hair. It was fabulous!

Stephen and I had some fun ourselves and checked a few items off the "nice weather" bucket list. We had our first mint julep's on Derby day, and I discovered I enjoy bourbon. One Saturday we ventured to the Schlitz Audobon Nature Center for some hiking and tower climbing. Later in the month we also explored Kenosha, which included the The Civil War Museum and riding a street car.

Top left: Stephen waiting for streetcar; Top right: Top of watch tower at the nature preserve;
Bottom: the streetcar
We were also able to imbibe at two different beer gardens and see our nephew play little league. All in all, a good month. May went by in a blur and June is going even faster.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Revised Resolutuions

Back in January, I wrote about my resolutions for 2014 here. They aren't going very well at first glance.

1. Buy a house. We have not bought a house. We did make an offer on one, but it didn't work out. We are ok with that. In fact, some days we are ok with not buying a house at all for now. Stay tuned.

2. Teach myself to play guitar. Have not touched this one since approximately January 2. I move the guitar every now and then, but for some reason I am not feeling inspired.

So. These aren't going well. My vague eat healthy, cook, and workout is going well. I enrolled in an 8 week yoga class that I just finished and now we are gearing up to begin training for a new half marathon. [We are determined to have our best time: under 2 hours.] I have also downloaded a food tracking app to help me pay attention to what I am actually putting in my body and in recipes.

Now for the biggest qualifier of all: sometimes resolutions change and evolve. For example, the more we look at houses, the more we weigh what being a homeowner means. Does it mean not having as much money for fun vacations? Does it mean our lifestyle changes?  I am not sure, but through the process Stephen and I have started prioritizing being spontaneous and keeping a list of restaurants and places we want to go. This weekend we are going to hike at the Schlitz Audubon Center and next weekend we are going to explore Kenosha for the day because we want to. Our biggest resolution and priority right now is to spend time together and have fun.

Of course, a lot of that time together is spent on the couch watching TV. In honor of my always-present resolution to blog more, I'll entice you to return to my blog with the promise of a post about The Mindy Project and other television explorations.

In the meantime, a few thoughts on Friends, which is now over 10 years old and a television show I still enjoy, almost daily.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Leopard Print

While I read quite a few fashion blogs, I have not put my fashion thoughts into this blog. Generally I have stuck to food, books, TV, travel and the occasional holiday. I see my blog as an attempt to scrapbook my life. I know what I like in style (and I know I like to find it cheaply) but I am not sure I want to get into recommending clothing. BUT... when you find a great recipe and tweak it or add something new to it, you want to share it. So I think I can recommend a pair of shoes. Or at least a certain pattern.

I have slowly collected a few pieces of animal print over the years: a shirt, a scarf, a dress, etc. Almost every article I acquire quickly becomes a favorite. I used to scoff when "the experts" would suggest that you wear animal print, especially leopard, as a neutral. Well, my friends, I have seen the light. I now own leopard flats (which I have been rocking for over a year) and I have recently acquired a pair peep-toe leopard heels.

These leopard pumps cost me $15, were an impulse buy (I wanted free shipping), and they are actually comfortable. Thank you, Target. (They might still be available here.) They have pulled me out of my boring black skirt = black shoes rut. They have allowed me to mix patterns. For example, today I am wearing a navy polka dot skirt with my leopard pumps.

You know that one person in your office--or anywhere in life--who ALWAYS looks put together, cutting-edge, sleek, AND you don't think she wears make up or styles her hair? Well, these shoes make me feel like that...professional and put-together for $15.

Maybe leopard print shoes won't do it for you, but I recommend giving them a try. Or do you have another recommendation for that article of clothing that makes you feeling like a million bucks? I'd love to hear it.

PS I apologize for assuming a certain high-heeled wearing demographic in my readers. Posts like this will not be the norm but I love these shoes and I am so jazzed to be blogging - maybe I will post 3x this month.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Food lately

Slowly, spring is coming and the desire to make big vats of comfort food--mac and cheese, chili, anything the requires the oven--is lessening. Valentine's Day 2014, however, was all about comfort food: cheese and champagne.

Valentine's Day was a Friday night and Stephen and I knew we wanted to be as far away from a restaurant as possible. We like to dine on random weeknights when there are happy hours and unique specials, not on days where reservations reign. And we had a house to see right after work (FYI: no luck on the house search).

When we got back after the long day we popped open the champagne* and I started melting things for fondue. I used a basic recipe of garlic (rub it on the inside of the pan), dry white wine, and a combination of cheeses. I used three cheese: Swiss, Emmental, and Gruyere. 

Melting, melting, melting

When the cheese fondue was ready, we sat down with soft pretzel, green pepper, broccoli, green apple and pear. Delicious, and very filling!

What a pretty table
I don't think I have cooked (if melting is cooking) anything quite so exciting since. Currently, I am trying to add routine into our meals without getting boring. This week I instituted a new policy: a pizza night, a sandwich night, and a salad night. All of these options have to be made at home but toppings etc. can be different. This week I made both a Margherita and a tuna pizza with Trader Joe's crusts (I am hoping to make my own dough and freeze it soon). Later we had smoked salmon sandwiches with cream cheese, capers, and cucumber. Finally, we had our standard salad with greens, feta, and this time with added crab. How do you keep things fresh in the kitchen without being mundane?

* Full disclosure: France, it was actually a Spanish Cava. I apologize. I accept your punishment but please do me a favor and don't work with Italy and Switzerland to change the name of cheeses. I'd be so confused.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I must admit to getting upset when I sit down to eat my lunch at work and catch up on others' blogs...and they haven't posted in a while. Unfortunately, this has not made me a more regular blogger--sorry readers about the month-long hiatus.

I just sat down and went through my phone for some recent pictures as a way to remind myself that I have been doing something other than complaining about the cold weather.

So, the first weekend of February we took the train down to Chicago to visit our good friends Mike and Kelly! It was a wonderful, snowy, laughter-filled weekend. I can't believe it was 4 weeks ago already!

We were able to visit our favorite Garrett's for some popcorn (oh, that cheesy and carmely goodness), shop a bit on Michigan Avenue, stuff ourselves at Grand Lux, and even try a few new eating establishments. Most of all, we were able to visit with good friends and enjoy a beautiful view of Navy Pier at night.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014 Resolutions

I use New Year's resolutions as a way to stay on top of things I enjoy or want to learn how to do. I also use them as a way to set goals. Resolutions are a good reality check, as well. When I was in graduate school, I didn't come up with a list of resolutions that included cooking or hobbies. Instead they were goals, or hard and fast milestones. My resolutions for the year 2011 we as follows: write thesis, defend thesis, obtain MA, get married.

In 2012, I know I had some resolutions, but I didn't blog about them. Bummer.

You can see my 2013 resolutions here. How did I do?

  1. Baking - I tried a bread recipe. I made it one or two times. I haven't baked bread since March. I collected a naan recipe, one for pizza dough, and multiple for various types of bread. None have been baked = not successful.
  2. Get into a better reading groove - I definitely did do this. My mom and I started reading books at the same time, like a mini book club. Stephen and I have picked out a few books that we waant to read together, like Catcher in the Rye
  3. Run a half marathon and marathon - Check and check. We ran a lot!
Here we are in 2013 and what are my new resolutions?
  1. Buy a house - This is clearly a joint goal with my husband and one that I probably won't blog about much until it is successful.
  2. Teach myself to play guitar - In high school a lot of my friends were musical (as was I) and I asked for a guitar for Christmas. I taught myself "Smoke on the Water" and plodded through a few songs in a beginners book. Then college happened. Then graduate school  happened. Right now my goal is to set aside an hour a week and start working my way through a book about guitar playing for dummies. I'll keep you posted.
I also want to keep plugging away in the kitchen, cooking healthy food and using new recipes. I also want to keep up the running and stay fit. Both of those resolutions are generally a part of my daily living and not something I necessarily need to resolve to do--although some days are better than others. 

At the end of the day (or year), I like being able to sit down and think about where I was as 2013 began and then imagine what I'll be doing and planning for as 2015 begins. Not knowing what 2014 will bring, I leave you with a poem by Seamus Heaney, a great Irish poet who died in 2013.

"Anything Can Happen"

Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter 
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,
The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.
Anything can happen, the tallest towers

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune
Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,
Setting it down bleeding on the next.

Ground gives. The heaven’s weight
Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.
Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

- See more at:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Instead of the obligatory 2014 resolutions, I am going to dive in and try to catch everyone up on the end of 2013.

Before Thanksgiving Stephen and I boarded an airplane to Boston. Once in Boston we rented a car and drove straight to New Haven, Connecticut and Louis Lunch for a burger. Aside from fits of hysterical laughter at the thick Boston accents of the toll both workers, our travel was smooth and uneventful. Our reward was the tasty burger pictured. The burgers are steamed, no ketchup or mustard to be found, served on toasted white bread with grilled onions and/or tomato. So good and almost worth the 40 minute wait because they only make 4 burgers at a time.

Despite being so full we could barely walk, we explored Yale's campus. We were able to take advantage of one of the art museums. The main event, however, was the next day. The Harvard v. Yale football game. Stephen and I have always wanted to go to this game, a bucket-list sporting event. Coming from the Big-10, this football game had a different feel. The tailgating was a bit higher class, but the corporate sponsorship was non-existent and refreshing. Yale lost but we saw the game in style.

After experiencing New Haven for a few days we drove around Western Connecticut hitting Milford, Danford and Washington Depot. We spent a night in Hartford and visited the historical Mark Twain home. We ended our trip in Mystic, Connecticut.

I absolutely loved Mystic. For Wisconsinites, Mystic is all of Door County in one walk-able, more historic strip on the ocean. We stayed in an old whalers inn (actually called The Whalers Inn) which might explain my yen to try reading Moby Dick again. We visited a cider mill, an aquarium with beluga whales, several fun dining establishments-including Mystic Pizza-and relaxed.
Top left: Lobster dinner; Top right: The Whaler's Inn; Bottom: Mystic

It was a wonderful, moderately paced vacation. We saw nearly all of Connecticut, a state with so much to offer despite getting swallowed up between New York and Boston. It was a wonderful vacation - our first post-honeymoon!