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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hi from Bangkok!

We're here! We're alive! I'm writing from the comptuer lounge at Suk 11 hostel - not sure if we have wireless, or if I can upload pictures so I might have to wait until we're at the second hotel (which does have wireless) to blog for real... unless I can figure out how to hook my camera up to this computer.

Short summary:
1) It's amazing how as soon as I get to whatever international travel destination we're aiming for I get totally swept up in the "OMG we're here!!" excitement and completely forget that 2 hours ago I was practically falling asleep on the plane.
2) the computer is about to run out of internet time.

Back Later!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sayonara!! Healthy traveling tips from me to you

Good morning! Ben and I are sitting at MSP waiting to board our flight to Chicago...after which we have a 14 hour flight to Seoul, a 3-ish hour layover and then another 5.5 hour flight to Bangkok. I am pretty pumped about being in Thailand, but not as pumped about 24+ hours of plane travel. I really have difficulty sleeping on planes so I am stocked up with melatonin, in hopes that will help. We'll be staying in Bangkok for 3 full days, then heading to Koh Pha Ngan (a southern island) for a week, then back to Bangkok for one more day before returning to Minneapolis. I am super excited! AND super-proud of our packing skills. After making it through 2 weeks in Turkey this winter with only a duffel bag and a backpack, I was convinced I could do it again - especially since Turkey involved suits and sweaters, whereas Thailand involves mostly sundresses and bathing suits. So, we are taking a 2 week international trip with only carry on baggage! A roller bag, a giant purse, a duffel and a backpack. And we packed an extra nylon duffel inside the backpack for all our purchases :)

Ben and I are not exactly strangers to international travel - between us we have India, Singapore, Japan, Ghana, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Costa Rica, Turkey, Norway, Greece, Canada (eh!), Cuba, Thailand, Holland and Switzerland under our belts. One thing that always gets me on these journeys is food and snacks - yes, they feed you on the plane and while the meals themselves are usually fine, sometimes you need a wholesome and filling snack to tide you over. So, last night when I was procrastinating packing, I made this video about healthy travel tips, and how I plan to snack healthy and keep up my yoga while we're traveling. Like my other videos it is totally awkward. Enjoy!

There are also a couple of things I forgot to mention in the video:
1) Stay hydrated! Bring a giant bottle of water (after you've made sure you won't have to go through security again) - sometimes they do NOT give you enough water on the plane so it's good to have your own supply.
2) Eating at the airport is expensive but it doesn't have to be unhealthy. Starbucks is my favorite place to grab a travel meal... I love their oatmeal, and they have a number of sandwiches under 500 calories (look at the nutrition info) and sometimes snack plates with cheese and fruit.

As I said in the video, I'm really going to try to keep up with blogging while we're traveling but I can't really say how great our internet connection will be. I'll aslo be (hopefully!) updating my flickr account (I'll post the link later). See you on the flippity-flip!

OK Fine....

Here they are. I tried to wait and resist posting pictures from the wedding until I had the CD with all of them on it... and I had some actual posts I wanted to write... but then I got overwhelmed with packing, work (it's amazing how when people find out you are leaving for 2 weeks they suddenly think of a billion things they need from you), and last-minute plans for Ben's Grandfather's birthday party. Last night I went up to my parents to say goodbye, since they will be out of town when we get back from Thailand and I won't see them for almost a month, and we ended up chatting until almost 11pm. Thus, no time for writing.

Plus I'm basically obsessed with these photos and pretty much whenver I am not eating, sleeping, working, or packing I'm flipping through the gallery. I can't actually post most of them until I have the CD and proof book, but I managed to co-opt a few from Kelly's Blog. Enjoy :)



In front of Holland Hall, my favorite building on campus (and where we had our first class together :) )





With my girls... Tessa, Alex, Julianna, Rachel and Alisha


Ceremony in Boe Chapel


Reception at Hogwarts - I mean the James J Hill Reference library....


Cupcakes, bookmark guest favors (that we slaved away on for days...) beautiful flowers by Floral Logic and place settings




Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday > Monday

Well folks, it looks like Monday caught me looking again this week. Seriously - I have a greater-than-normal inability to function on that day of days, the most feared and hated 24 hours of the week. Everything was great - went for a nice walk to Butter bakery for some delicious coffee - until about 7:30 when I proceeded to spazz out because I couldn't find my checkbook and was overcome by the irrational fear that I would be unable to pay our August rent before we left for Thailand on Friday. Oh and also there is, suddenly and inexplicably, a giant s-shaped curve in my car's windshield. Awesome.


Obviously, as always happens, everything turned out just fine... but I think I know what the problem was: too much pitta!! I had hot coffee, and then hot oatmeal - and even though the temperatures have cooled down I think there's enough residual hot-weather-blues that the combination was just too much. But who can resist oatmeal? Especially chocolate otameal?? I can't believe I had never though of mixing cocoa powder into my oats before, but there it is... delicious oats (in an almost-finished jar of almond butter) with cocoa and brown sugar...mmmm.


Tuesday, on the other hand, was a WINNER. I got a last-minute appointment for a much needed haircut, had a productive day at work, and got a very sweet e-mail from one of my Immersion teachers who I hadn't seen or talked to since the last immersion... and in a crazy coincidence, I'd already planned on going to her class tonight! Karma I tell you.


So Ben and I went to class, had a great time, and came home prepared to put in a good 2 hours slogging away on Thank You notes...but then I checked my e-mail... and immediately turned to Ben and said "Hold it, pour the wine we are SO NOT writing thank-you notes tonight!!"

"Why?" He said
"Because... our WEDDING PHOTOS are online!!!"


like our lovely decorative gift-pile?

So we have been staring at our photos for the last two hours, smiling and laughing at all the sweet memories, and the beautiful moments our photographer captured between friends and family members.

I know it is such a tease to tell you we have wedding photos and then not post any of them...but it's already past my bedtime and I have early meetings tomorrow, so you'll just have to wait :) Possibly until after the honeymoon, when I'll actually have the chance to sit down and write some wedding recap posts.

Cheers to Tuesday, and looking forward to Wednesday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Picture Perfect

Well, here's a bit of what I've been up to this weekend:

A little of this...

A LOT of this...

A lovely date with my husband (!!) at our favorite spot, Lucia's...

...and since we couldn't decide which dessert we wanted, we got two to go :)

After choir this morning we met my sister for brunch at the Happy Gnome, and then spent some time goofing around on a rather terrifying piece of playground equipment. Apparently playgrounds are designed to frighten children these days...

And then we made a little trip to Target :)

I've been wanting a DSLR for at least a year, so I put one on our Target registry knowing full well that no one would buy it for us, but hoping that a few guests would chip in to help us out... and so, using a combination of gift cards and cash, we are now the proud owners of a Canon EOS Rebel T3! We're looking forward to taking lots of amazing photos on our honeymoon and beyond :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Five - Wedding Edition! (Part I)

We received so many AMAZING gifts at our wedding - the most amazing of which, obviously, was being able to celebrate with our friends and family. In addition, we've been having a LOT of fun with our new wedding gifts and I'd love to share a few of my favorites with you guys every week. I already mentioned the yogurt maker from Ben's mom, which we use all the time, but here are a few others that we've been enjoying lately:

Awesome Adam Turman print of Target Field
Our friends know us too well... this gorgeous framed print by local artist Adam Turman is now hanging in the living room next to Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb, so that particular corner has quickily become the Baseball Shrine.

"From the Deep" Stoneware

These were actually on our registry... we skipped china and silver and went for regular old dishes instead...but these are quirky dishes and I love them. They remind me all at once of Treasure Island, Pirates of the Carribbean and maybe Moby Dick.

Please not that the teacup handle is a tentacle. Love. It.

Back of the dinner plate

One version of the salad plate - Puffer Fish (we also have some with a striped fish)

Back of the salad plate (the back of the Striped Fish plate has the fish's tail continuing around the side and onto the back of the plate - also awesome).

French Tablecloth
Ooh la la! Hehe. This tablecloth from my friend Tessa and her parents is a bit long for our dining room table, but that isn't stopping us from using it! The matching napkins (which I don't have in the picture unfortunately) are really beautiful, too. And check out those flower centerpieces... a little dried out but still hanging in there!

First Year of Marriage Memories Book
This has to be the most creative gift we received. Ben's lifelong friend Krista, who was a groomswoman in the wedding, and her boyfriend Paul gave us what at first appears to be just an ordinary antique book - which is great, because we love books...

...but when we opened it, we realized it was much, much more than just a book.

She even scattered pictures of the two of us (copied and printed off of Facebook I'm guessing) throughout the pages - this first one is when Ben proposed to me in India. He was very sneaky in having our tour guide take this photo, but I'm so glad we have it because I know we will cherish it forever.

We filled the first pocket already - with my plane ticket from my business trip and momentos from the Harry Potter Party on Saturday.

Sara Teasdale Poems

...and it's a first edition advanced copy. NO idea where my friend Rachel found this, but apparently she saw it just a few weeks after finding out Ben and I were engaged, and it practically fell of the shelf and into her hand (metaphorically speaking). The poems are beautiful - I only wish we'd had it earlier so we could have used one for a reading!

The Tree of Song
I sang my songs for the rest,
For you I am still;
The tree of my song is bare
On its shining hill.

For you came like a lordly wind,
And the leaves were whirled
Far as forgotten things
Past the rim of the world.

The tree of my song stands bare
Against the blue --
I gave my songs to the rest,
Myself to you.

In other news, the temperature has finally calmed down to a much more reasonable 85 degrees (as opposed to 105 for the last week or so). The dew point is still a little out of control, but at least now it doesn't feel like a tropical jungle. Thankfully there are still hilarious signs like this one at the Uptown Theater to make me laugh:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yoga for Cooling

Well this is just ridiculous.

Heat index in the 100's and humid through the rest of the week, with random power outages attacking various sections of Minneapolis and highways closed due to "buckling pavement". How awesome.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to deal with the heat. AC, fans and iced coffee are one way, but last night's Anusara class, which focused on cooling postures to counterbalance the broiling temperatures outside, inspired me to look into more holistic ways of cooling the body.


Summer is the season of Pitta - Pitta is made of fire and water elements, and is associated with confidence, passion and desire ("Icca"). When out of balance, however, Pitta can become irritated, angry or aggressive, or just plain too much. Pitta is definitely in full swing right now in the midwest, but you can balance that firey little dude by making some changes in your diet:

  • Eat plenty of cooling fruits and vegetables: Avocado, coconut, figs, mango, melons, grapes and plums are great, as are asparagus, cooked beets, kale, mushrooms, artichokes, cucumber and summer squash. Fruits and veggies to avoid include: Bananas, anything sour (except lime in moderation), rhubarb, and tamarind.

  • Avoid coffee and alcohol: I had (cold press) coffee this morning... oops...but in general, avoid coffee or anything overly caffeinated, and avoid alcohol, especially red wine and hard liquor. Beer and white wine are OK in moderation. If you really need a caffeine kick, chai is OK for pitta, as is black tea in small amounts.

  • Watch the spice: In general, spicy food does not help to balance Pitta. Spices to avoid include allspice, garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, mustard and nutmeg. Fresh, cooling herbs like basil, dill and mint (fresh, not dried) are great, and cinnamon, cardamom, tumeric and coriander are OK as well. Flavors like cilantro and coconut can also help balance the heat of spicy foods.

There are tons more guidelines on Auyrvedic eating, a detailed list of which can be found here.


It is important to vary your yoga practice seasonally as well as your diet - for example, I haven't been doing hot yoga at all since the weather went bananas, but there are also certain asanas that have cooling properties. Forward bends in general are great cooling poses, whereas headstand, handstand and backbends (ustrasana, urdhva danurasana) are heating and energizing. Here are some of the poses we did in class last night:

  • Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

  • Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)

  • Janu Sirsasana

  • Fire Log Pose

  • TMP (It has a sanskrit name, but it's ridiculously long so we just call it TMP...): Sit with your left leg folded in Virasana and your right leg straight out in front of you as in Paschimottanasana. Inner spiral both legs and with your left hand, reach forward and grasp the right foot. Start with a straight spine and bend forward, being careful not to shorten the side-body. Hold for a couple of minutes, and repeat on the other side. If Virasana is uncomfortable or causes knee strain, place a cushion or blanket under your sitbones. If you can't reach your foot with your hand, place a strap around the ball of your foot and grasp the strap as close to your foot as possible.

  • Happy Baby/Laughing Baby

Another great tip from Ayurvedic expert Cate Stillman: go outside in the morning and stand barefoot in the grass for a few minutes. The dewy grass on your feet will lower your entire body temperature, plus it's just fun! Who needs shoes anyways? :) And obviously... STAY HYDRATED!

Hope you all find ways to stay cool on this Tropical Tuesday :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Potter Party!

The weather here has been just bizzare... right now it is 97 degrees and the humidity level is literally worse than the Amazon (my dad saw it on the news). Just so you know I'm not kidding... yesterday I noticed that the roads were wet, not because it had rained, but because the moisture in the air was condensing onto the ground. I whipped out my camera to get a picture...and the lens promptly fogged up before I could even get a shot:

It is gross. And we lost power last night around 8:30 while I was at yoga - our neighbor called Centerpoint, and was informed that it probably wouldn't be on again until midnight, so instead of spending the night sweating buckets in our place with no fan or AC, we drove 10 minutes to Ben's parents' house and slept in their air-conditioned guest room.

But that isn't really what we're here to talk about - let's chat about Harry Potter! As I've already mentioned, Ben and I are pretty obsessed with Harry Potter. Back in early May I had the genius idea that when the 8th and final movie came out, we should have an all-day marathon of the first seven films and then go see a late showing of Deathly Hallows Part II. "Great idea," said Ben. "How long would that take exactly?" I did the math and realized that in order to make a 10:30 show, we would have to start the first movie at around 5am. So instead, we decided to limit viewing to our favorite scenes, and start the first movie around 11am. Much more realistic.

Our friend Jay came over around 9am to help Ben make batches of Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice. They both have bartending degrees so they had a great time "brewing potions" in the kitchen... meanwhile I was making a mess whipping icing for the Cauldron Cakes.

Having no clue what a Cauldron Cake looked like, I ended up basically making cupcakes, hollowing out part of the middle and filling them with icing. To make the handles, I unrolled some Haribo Licorice Pinwheels, cut them into strips, and stuck them into the edges of the icing.

Signage made from our leftover wedding invitation envelopes - so resourceful!

The rose icing was the same recipe as I used for Cake in a Jar only I doubled the recipe - I don't know what I did differently this time (probably added more milke) but this batch turned out even better! Fluffy and almost meringue-like. The "polyjuice potion" icing was Deb's PB-Cream Cheese icing which is one of my favorite things on the planet

^^ Picture of the finished Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice
- I did not take this photo and cannot be held responsible for its blurriness.

I also made savory Pumpkin Pasties - empenada dough filled with butternut squash, goat cheese, rosemary and caramelized onions. For the dough I threw 3 cups of flour, a pinch of salt, 1 egg, 3T water and 1T apple cider vinegar in the food processor, chilled the dough in plastic wrap for about 45 minutes before rolling it out and filling the pasties.

They were yum.

And we had tons of fun watching the movies! At first we were reluctant to skip scenes, but by the end we were being pretty ruthless so that we could get to the end of the 7th film and still make our showtime.

And yes, I am wearing a Gryffindor scarf. In July. Don't judge.

Yay Potter Party!

It was a blast, and we really enjoyed having everyone over. Luckily most of our friends are just as nerdy as we are :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Vanilla Pastry Cream and Rosewater Icing

.... in a JAR!

Something you should probably know about me, is that when I am already ridiculously busy I have an insane tendency to take on wild, creative projects that have little to no chance of succsessful completion - or if I do complete them, it will be with less than 3 hours of sleep. I have to get up at 6 and I've already stayed up writing a paper until 12? What an excellent time to make lemon curd! Or, I have three presentations due tomorrow? I should definitely scrub the shower and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I'm getting married in 48 hours and have a zillion things to do before then? Why not make a cake recipe I've never tried before that involves several components including pastry cream, bake it using a method that may or may not make my oven explode and then give it to all my friends as a gift? BRILLIANT.

One thing that made wedding planning a joy rather than something resembling a horror film was having awesome bridesmaids: my sister, my cousin, and three of my closest friends make the Dream Team Bridal Party. I know it's tradition to give gifts to all of your bridesmaids - but with Ben and I just getting out of two income-free years (aka grad school), we're feeling a bit of financial strain. I don't want to give my friends something totally lame, nor am I able to spend a lot of money, so I decided to do what any logical, time-constrained person would do: I decided to make things.

There are a number of homemade-gift pitfalls I was keen to avoid (see: dried-flower-wreaths, really-terrible-art etc.) so, I decided to focus on my strengths - what am I good at? Like, what can I actually make? I am terrible at drawing, even worse at sculpting, can't sew anything that isn't composed entirely of straight lines (i.e. curtains and pillowcases, and even these things are hit-and-miss) ... BUT - I am good at baking! And I love music! That should be enough to work with right?

And indeed it was. I am inordinately proud of these cupcakes - they are like a magical taste explosion of deliciousness. Trust me. And the cake-in-a-jar method worked brilliantly - portable cake, who could ask for anything more?

whoo...that is a mouthful (literally!)

For the Cupcakes:
- 1/2 c butter, softened
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 t vanilla
- 1-3/4 c flour
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/4 t baking powder
- 1/2 c sour cream
- 1/2 c champagne, prosecco or other sparking white wine (I recommend going with something on the sweeter side)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In another separate bowl, mix sour cream and champagne together (1/2 cup each). Add the flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Batter will be thick.

Pour by 1/3 cups into small mason jars - bake for about 20 minutes at 350 but be careful not to overbake! As soon as the top springs back when you touch it - then you'll know they're done :)

For the Pastry Cream:
- 1/2 c heavy cream, divided
- 1/2 c champagne or prosecco
- 2 T cornstarch
- 5 T granulated sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 t vanilla (or slightly more, if you like vanilla as much as I do... :) )

In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstartch and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar and 1/2 cup champagne in a saucepan and bring to a boil - then remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg and egg yolks into the cornstarch/heavy cream mixture. Pour 1/3 of the boiling champagne mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs do not cook. Return the remaining champagne/heavy cream mixture to a boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and beat in butter and vanilla.

Cut a well into the top of each cake (go about 2/3-3/4 of the way into the cake, and leave at least 1cm on each side on the top) and fill the well with pastry cream. Slice off the very top of the cut-out-piece and place it back over the top of the pastry cream.

For the Icing
- approx. 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 c unsalted butter
- pinch salt
- 1.5 - 2 tsp rose water
- 2-4 T milk or heavy cream
- very small ammt of red food coloring

cream butter, sugar, a tiny bit of milk and salt together using a stand mixer or hand mixer. Use just enough milk until it comes together. Add 1 t of rosewater and mix together. Taste it, and add more rosewater as desired to reach the flavor and consistency you're looking for. If it's still too think and you don't want any more rose flavor, add milk instead until it thins out a bit.

I got 8 cake-in-a-jars out of this recipe, and the frosting was the perfect frosted all of them and I barely had any left over.

The champagne cupcakes and pastry cream are from Sprinkle Bakes - the frosting is my own creation - enjoy!
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