Saturday, July 30, 2011
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.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
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!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
A little of this...
Friday, July 22, 2011
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).
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
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
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.
^^ 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.
Friday, July 15, 2011
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?
RECIPE: CHAMPAGNE CUPCAKES WITH CHAMPAGNE-VANILLA PASTRY CREAM AND ROSEWATER ICING
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 amount...it 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!