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Monday, February 28, 2011

Green Soup with Ginger and Exciting News!

Another day, another soup! Today, we are going to talk about this mess of leafy green deliciousness....

in just a minute after I talk about some other very important things. For example... Ben finished his thesis defense! And his committee told him it was one of the most polished defense presentations they'd ever seen...AND they said his paper was well-written and actually fun to read!

In order to illustrate the full depth of my fiancee's boundless intelligence, I present to you my business strategy book, borrowed from me to use as a prop for his theater class, which he then inexplicably covered with another different cover and wrote all over it like a 4th grader.

So really he could have used any book and pretended it was a business strategy book...but instead he went through the trouble of borrowing an actual business book and then covering it up... It also appears he learned everything I have learned in 4 semesters during the course of the 5 minutes it took to make this prop:

Ben MacKenzie, ladies and gentlemen.
Also, my friend Jordan's birthday party was this weekend! Jordan makes some great munchies and it was fun meeting new people at her party :)

OK so soup. I was inspired to make this a while back when I saw it on Heidi's blog, and with the abundance of leftover ginger and random lemon sitting in my fridge I figured now was the time. This soup is perfect for this time of year - the warmth and coziness of the fact that, well, it's soup, acknowledges that it's still cold outside, but the bright ginger and lemon flavors say "enough of this nonsense, we want spring." Or at least that's probably what they would say, if they could talk.
I used Rainbow chard and Spinach, but I'm sure you could use any combination of greens you felt like using... arugala would probably be nice, Kale could work too but it might be a little too meaty. Hard to say.
Also just be aware that if you're using red or rainbow chard, you may end up with a soup that is more brownish than green. The red from the chard stems seeps out everywhere and as it turns out, red + green = brown. Learned that in kindergarten.

Nevertheless, this soup is still quite yummy. You can either blend it or not, I imagine it would keep and re-heat better blended (which is why I blended mine). Enjoy!
Originally from "Love Soup" by Anna Thomas

1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
1 sweet potato
1 white and light green parts
1 bunch spinach (8 ounces)
1 large bunch green chard (12 ounces)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Chop the onion quite small and sautee it in a soup pot with the olive oil over low heat until onions are carmelized (at least 20 mins). Remove the onions from the pot and place in a separate plate or small bowl. Add the sweet potato, chard stems and ginger to the pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and continue simmering.

After 10 minutes or so, add the onions. After 20 minutes, coarsely chop the chard leaves and add them to the pot, let them cook down a bit. After 25 minutes add the spinach and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Open the pot, look at the pretty colors and contemplate how beautiful your soup is. Then take your immersion blender and go to town until pretty much blended (there will still probably be small chunks of ginger - not to worry). Add the lemon juice (I recommend at least one Tablespoon), season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Soprano Confessions 1

I totally meant to make a delicious healthy soup tonight and was going to blog the recipe like a good blogger...but when I got home from choir rehearsal I was tired and lazy, and had cereal for dinner instead.


I have conducted a small orchestra while under the influence of alcohol.


When I was seven I tied my two-year-old sister to an easel with a piece of string. We were playing Peter Pan. It was totally part of the plot.


Sometimes when I'm lying in Savasana and am supposed to be thinking of nothing, I am actually making my grocery list.


I really like Bon Jovi. A lot.


The other day while changing for yoga, I put my top on sideways. Twice. And there were four people w
aiting to use the bathroom.


For those of you wondering why you bothered to waste your time with this bit of nonsense, here's a something deep and profound for Sunday, the Lord's day:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday Five (on Saturday)

I know the last thing I wrote was a list of five...but maybe I just really like listing things. Maybe there just happen to be five great things I want to share with you all and this is the only way I can fit them into one post. Maybe calling this a "five things" list allows me to put totally unrelated things (food, wedding, ridiculous humor) in the same post. Regardless, here they are - the Friday Five (on Saturday):

1) MaraNatha's Dark Chocolate Almond Spread
Ever since hearing rumors of its existence, I searched high and low for Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and finally found it at Fresh and Natural Foods on Highway 96!

Ever since hearing rumors of its existence, I searched high and low for Dark Chocolate Almond Spread and finally found it at Fresh and Natural Foods on Highway 96! It's great on toast, crackers, cookies....

Or just spread on a banana for the perfect post-yoga snack. Or, you know, if you're feeling totally shameless (which I usually am), just eat it straight from the jar with a spoon :) It's similar to Nutella but with a slight almond hint instead of the strong hazelnut flavor, and the chocolate is darker and richer. Different but still great. I loves it.

2) This post from Hyperbole and a Half
... mostly because it kind of perfectly describes my life. Especially the following chart:

...I'm 28 by the way. Fun times.

3) My wedding flowers!
Speaking of real adult planning responsibilities and such things, this is the first mock-up from my florist:

Aren't they gorgeous?? I really wanted to try using both the peach and blue flowers, but the combination just didn't look right when we got it into the reception space and saw them both next to the linens. For a garden or farm wedding it would be perfect, but the library is a little more formal, so we're cutting the blue and going with peach and white/cream flowers. I think it's going to be awesome :) PLUS he let me keep the mock-up so now I have lovely flowers on my kitchen table.

4) New Mug!

My friend Tessa bought this for me from the art gallery where she works - it's made by Jason Bohnert, who also made my two favorite bowls (you can view Jason's Etsy store here). Totally gorgeous and also the perfect vehicle for my (extra strong!) morning coffee.

5) Cadbury Mini Eggs

Overall I'm not always a fan of easter candy, but I can't get enough of these.... they sell out surprisingly fast, though. After I bought this bag, I went back to the store to stock up on more and they were GONE!! (Except for the dark chocolate version which, IMO are not nearly as good... this is one of the few times where I actually prefer milk chocolate to dark).

This week just flew by and suddenly I have a presentation and two papers all due in the next week... I refer you to list item 2 for my current motivation level. Time to go read some academic papers y'all. Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reflections on Immersion 1

Better late than never, right??

Here are five things I took away from Minneapolis Anusara Immersion, Part I. I hesitate to call them the "top five" even, because knowing me I'm forgetting something, will remember it 5 seconds after I post this and immediately go 'OH CRAP THOSE AREN'T REALLY THE TOP 5 I JUST LIED TO EVERYONE.' So to avoid such situations, we will just say... these are 5 takeaways, in no particular order and of no particular importance.

1) You can't control what happens to you in life - but you can control how you react to it.
One of my favorite quotes in the world comes from Albus Dumbledore: "It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities." We are all given the freedom of choice - we can choose the right or the wrong path, and because we are given that freedom, we have the opportunity to be amazing, but also the opportunity to get all misaligned and screwy. The Immersion Manual says that "Whatever we encounter, whether it is auspicious or malicious, good or bad, uplifting or disheartening, we respond in ways that are more life-affirming." In other words, if some a-hole yells at you on the street for no reason, or if someone is cruel to you, you can choose not to respond with cruelty - your reaction says more about you than it does about them. You can decide to be whoever you want - be someone who puts more love and strength into the world.

2) Honor your teachers - and they might not be who you think they are.
The first line of the Anusara Invocation is "Om Namah Shivaya Gurave"...there are oodles of ways to translate this but my personal favorite (courtesy of yogash) is: "I deeply honor the presence of my true teacher...the one who resides within me and within all things."
....ALL things? Really?? Surely not ALL things.
Oh yes. All things for sure. A couple of years ago, I went through a really disturbing situation ... took me a long time to get past how upset I felt by everything that had happened, and even though I acknowledged that I had learned a lot from going through it, I still felt really icky inside every time I thought about it. Without going into too much detail, it was a really bad relationship that I ended, which then took a turn for the even-worse after I ended it. Last Saturday night after the immersion, I was standing in front of my bathroom sink and I started thinking about the invocation and about that period in my life, and I suddenly realized that all my negative feelings were gone. I felt nothing but gratefulness for all of the positive things that would never have happened without that person being in my life - I grew closer to both of my parents in ways I never expected; I have a much deeper appreciation for the wonderful relationship I share with Ben; and I learned to be a stronger person, to stand up for who I was and to take the high road in the midst of someone trying really hard to tear me down. I genuinely hope that he finds happiness, and figures out his path in life - and, as horrible as some of the things that were that he said and did to me, I am grateful for everything he taught me. Everything and everyone can enrich your life in some way, even thought it definitely might not seem like it at the time ...and sometimes, the recognition arrives out of nowhere when you're brushing your teeth. True story.

3) Sitting on the floor for a long time is really damn hard.
There, I said it. I expected the philosophy to challenge me a little (especially because the words "tantra" and "universal love" are used far more frequently than my MBA brain is accustomed to); I definitely expected the asana practice to challenge me a lot. What I did not expect was that the hardest part of the immersion by far would be SITTING DOWN. Seriously... I started every lecture sitting diligently in Suhkasana, my tailbone tucked and my legs inner-spiraled, shoulder-loop and kidney-loop all working together towards the perfect alignment. Then kidney loop would abandon me. Then I would start scratching my shoulder just as an excuse to move. Then I'd shift over slightly on to one hipbone. Then my other leg would start to hurt and I would try kneeling. Then my knees would hurt and I'd try sitting normally on my bum with my knees up to my chest but then it was impossible to take notes and I'd try some other strange position only to end up back in Suhkasana thinking "OMG when can I stand up!!!" Then I'd go to the bathroom just so I could stand up....etc.... All the while thinking "Dude, this is NOT good yogi behavior." It did get much easier between the first weekend and the second. Someday I will sit for hours with perfect inner-spiral like Shiva on the mountain. But today is not that day. It's just where I am in the practice of sitting on my ass.

4) Sometimes, to say yes, you have to say no.
In any pose in Anusara, you have to set the foundation with muscle energy before you can expand outward - creating the boundary allows for freedom. One of my fellow yogis was reading a book about games, and threw out the idea that the rules of the game are what make it fun - you have to be creative to be successful within those boundaries. There's something to be said for that in life too, I think - knowing your personal boundaries and when to say "no" gives you the freedom to say yes to those things that are really fulfilling. Say "no" to your leg when it tries to splay out all crazy-like in nataranjasana... so that you can say yes to the freedom of the backbend. Say no to diving into gossip so you can say yes to being kinder and more mindful. We are always making little refinements to our lives, so we can flourish within the rules the world has created for us (gravity, traffic on 35, the stiffest hips ever on the planet, etc). But always say yes to chocolate. Always.

5) Chit happens.
...Shit also happens. Life doesn't always go the way you planned - but, as one of my teachers said on Saturday, sometimes the barriers are the path. "Cit" means pure consciousness, or self-knowledge: also defined as "awakening, recognition, remembrance, self-realization, enlightenment, and discovering the bliss of being." We practice yoga to remember who we really are... it isn't about having toned abs at all. I find that the more I practice, the more settled I feel in myself and in my life, and the Immersion drove that home in a big way.... not only that I'm making progress, but that I still have a ways to go.

We're all beginners.

"In your vulnerable moments you are held by the current, floating. In your empowered moments you swim with the current. In your ultimate moments you and the current are one. You don’t feel the difference between you and the current. That's Anusara." ~ Douglas Brooks

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Early Bird

I think I've already mentioned my slightly irrational love for early mornings... you know, morning. That time when it's still dark outside and most people are still sleeping? Love it. When I go to bed at night I actually look forward to my morning routine - it's nothing special, but it's one of my favorite parts of the day, partly because I haven't had time yet to think about all the crap I have to get done later on. This is what my typical morning looks like:

6am: Alarm goes off.
6:00 and 5 seconds: Snooze alarm (I leave enough time for this on purpose)
6:05: Alarm goes off again. Get up for real.
6:05 - 6:30: Turn on MPR and listen to the news while I putz around the kitchen, do some dishes from the day before and make my coffee. Lately I've been using these beans:

Dogwood just opened up near my apartment and wow do they sell some delicious beans. They aren't cheap (these were $15 a pound) but still way less expensive than going to Starbucks every day like I used to.

French Press ... the only way to go. And a giant St. Olaf mug. Um Ya Ya :)
6:30 - 7ish: Get dressed, pack my bag for school, drink coffee, continue listening to news/music.
7:10: Catch the bus, enjoy the warm cozy bus ride (I will REALLY miss taking the bus, especially in the winter)
7:30: Arrive at school, hole up in a small study room with all of my stuff and get to work!

From 7:30 to 8 or so (when I usually have a meeting or class), I'll usually work on blogging, Immersion homework or school projects, and enjoy my breakfast (overnight oats) and some tea (provided by CVE!). Always nice to find some good music to accompany solitary work:

... new Radiohead album helps with that...awesomeness. Track 6 (Codex) is my favorite and I also like Lotus Flower (track 5) partially because of the name. I'm mildly obsessed with lotus flowers and am also wearing a lotus flower necklace today... yay :)

So that is my uber exciting morning! You're welcome for all of that useless information, but I leave yo with this tip - If you really want to enjoy your mornings I would highly recommend getting up early enough that you aren't rushed, and give yourself at least a few minutes to just sit with coffee, tea or another warm comforting beverage of your choice and think about how great life is. Then go attack your day with a renewed sense of calm and confidence that you can respond to the 50,000 e-mails in your inbox, make all of your meetings, get your immersion homework done and still make it to choir on time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The weather outside is STILL frightful....

It has been snowing nonstop 27 hours, white stuff is still coming down, and for some reason they STILL did not close the University. I drove up to my parents house again last night to avoid snow emergency parking rules... I really do love coming up here, it feels so cozy and it's nice sometimes to not just be alone in my apartment.

My mom and I made some Trader Joe's multigrain cereal for breakfast, I did work for a few hours and then for lunch I had some roasted squash and onion salad from the Missisippi Market co-op that was leftover from my potluck birthday party. One great thing about hosting parties is the leftover food and beverages that come along with it - I have two delicious salads, curried hummus, a little bit each of Humboldt Fog and Mango Stilton cheese, and five bottles of wine. Both cakes (my chocolate cake and Amanda's delicious almond pear upside-down contribution) were devoured quite early on.

Please ignore the decorative shoe-pile... and I just noticed that the blinds on my living-room window are TOTALLY CROOKED. Fail.

I will write more in-depth about the immersion and some more recipes, but I'm just too wiped out from everything this weekend and I have a midterm tonight so I'll get back on that tomorrow (and Linz I will post a picture of the cake :) ). Hope you all had wonderful weekends :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Two Birthday Recipes: The greatest chocolate cake ever, and finding balance in all things

Since I spent most of my actual birthday doing homework and getting my car fixed, I was glad I decided to wait until the weekend to celebrate - I'm having some friends over tonight for food, drinks and general good times. Although, not too crazy because this is the second immersion weekend and tomorrow I have to be up bright and early and ready to yoga.

At the last immersion we talked a lot about Spanda, or the vibration of the universe. According to Anusara's Universal Principles of Alignment, all life pulsated=s between two grand extremes of contrary compliments. This is illustrated in light/dark, innhale/exhale etc. In terms of the physical yoga practice we talk about mucle energy and organic energy, both of which are needed to achieve balanced action.

In this spirit, I'm blogging two recipes to day - one that's quite healthy (for your body and your pocketbook), and one that is totally indulgent in every possible way. Either would be a huge hit at a party and both are personal favorites.

First - the healthy: I actually don't know where this recipe originated but I got it from Lynn at One Yoga during a session on Ayurveda. All I know is it's totally delicious, full of asian flavors and just has that different special something that makes it stand out from other hummus-type dips. Personally I think it's the almond butter that really puts it over the top.

I really am a firm believer that the ingredients make the recipe. You could be the greatest cook on earth but without good ingredients, you won't get good results. The nice thing about this recipe is that you don't need to spend a lot, even on excellent ingredients - even organic chickpeas don't cost that much more than regular, and if you buy dried and cook them yourself it's even cheaper. This whole recipe cost me less than $4, not counting the staples like oils and almond butter that I already had on hand.

Then put it in a pretty bowl and chill until you're ready to serve.

- 1 c. cooked chickpeas
- 1.5 T rice vinegar
- .5 T sesame oil
- 2 T tamari or soy sauce
- 1/3 c almond butter
- 1/2t garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic minced
- 1 t. minced ginger root
- 1.5 T minced cilantro
- 1 T walnut, sesame or canola oil
(add a little water to thin as necessary)

First grind the chickpeas in a food processor, then add the oils, vinegar, tamari and almond butter and process until very smooth. Add the garlic, ginger and cilantro and blend again. Boom. Done.

OK now time for the fun. I apologize in advance for the utter insanity that is to follow. This cake is unapologetically indulgent... I actually hesitate to even call it a cake because in principle I feel like the flour content for a cake should be more than one tablespoon. Yes, you read that correctly. One tablespoon. And five eggs. And 200g each of butter and chocolate. Sometimes, blind trust is necessary in baking - this would be one of those times.

Earlier I mentioned the importance of key ingredients - with this recipe it's ALL about the butter and chocolate. In every recipe, there are a couple/few ingredients that really make or break the end result. Figure out what these are, and make them your "splurges". High-quality butter and chocolate are not cheap, but trust me, in this case it's worth it, especially for the chocolate - the cheap stuff will not get you the same result. This is how I think of it: splurge on the stuff that's important, save on the stuff that isn't.

Hello gorgeous. I can't wait to chop you up in to little bits and melt you in the microwave.

As long as we're just being ridiculous, you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine while the chocolate and butter are getting to know each other in the microwave. And light some candles. And watch Gossip Girl. And try not to eat all of the batter directly from the bowl.

From Orangette via The Corner Kitchen
7 oz (200g) high-quality dark chocolate
7 oz (200g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1-1/3 c granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 T unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 and butter an 8 inch round cake pan. I highly recommend using a springform pan as the cake will be MUCH easier to transfer even if it sticks a little... if you're using a regular pan you might want to line the bottom with parchment.

Chop the chocolate into chunks and combine with the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat the butter and chocolate and stir together as they melt (or if you're feeling fancy you can use a double-boiler, but I liked the idea of only using one cooking vessel for the entire recipe). Add the sugar and stir to combine, then add the eggs one at a time, using a whisk to incorporate completely before adding the next egg.

Stir in the flour using a wooden spoon or spatula. Contemplate the ridiculousness of a cake with five eggs and only one tablespoon of flour. Then go about your life as if everything were perfectly normal.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 23-25 minutes - while this is baking, finish your wine and snack on some of the leftover chocolate.

When it's finished, the cake should still be a little jiggly (but not TOO jiggly). Keep an eye on it because a lot of this depends on your oven - mine actually took more like 27 minutes. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools - when it is completely cool, transfer it onto a plate, keeping the crackly-side up. I slid one of those very thin plasting cutting boards under the whole cake, picked it up and slid it onto the plate...but if you're using a non-springform pan you can't really do this, so then I would suggest...just flipping it and re-flipping it very, very carefully.

I will post a pic of the finished cake once I have it nicely plated on cute dishes :)

Now that you're finished, I guess you could do some dishes. Or you could watch another episode of Gossip Girl, pour another glass of wine and curl up on your couch with a blanket. And then maybe eat some of that hummus dip for balance :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to meeee

It's my birthday! I am 28... officially way closer to 30 than 25, but I firmly believe that age is just a number.

Here's what I've done so far on this day, 28 years after the day I was born:
- Forgot it was my birthday
- Left the house super early to take my car in to the repair shop so they can determine why it sounds like it is dying.
- Remembered it was my birthday when I got a text from Ben at 6:22am that said "Happy Birthday!"
- got to school in time for my 8am meeting
- Finished my entire thermos of coffee before arriving at said meeting, so went to Starbucks to get another coffee. Hey, it's my birthday I can be overcaffeinated if I want to!

Have you, like me, noticed that you are increasingly likely to forget your birthday as you get older? Does that imply senility or just that adult responsibilities are taking up all available brain space?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Managing Expectations: overnight oats and my living room chair saga

One valuable thing I have learned in my MBA program is how to manage expectations - this basically means slowly changing someone's mind so that they realize what they're getting is not what they originally throught, but also making sure that they do not have kittens over it. For example, if you're working with a client who says "I want you to save the world!" and you know you can't realistically do that, you slowly brainwash them with pictures of adorable puppies while trying to tell them no without ACTUALLY telling them no, and hoping they will end up thinking that what you give them in the end was actually what they really wanted in the first place.

I digress.

About a year ago I started coming across this mythical food-miracle in the blogosphere known as "overnight oats." Everyone was talking about how amazing and they were, so I figured that they were probably totally delicious, and also contained the cure for cancer or at the very least would endow the eater with magical wizarding abilities like Harry Potter. So I made some.
And I thought they were totally gross.
I actually didn't finish them and went to buy a pastry from Starbucks instead...true story.

But I am being unfair to overnight oats - because now I really like them. See, I'm just trying to set the bar low and then impress you with a realistic endorsement of something I used to think was nasty. The following are some facts about overnight oats:
1) Overnight oats do not cure cancer, nor do they give you magical powers. Fact.
2) Overnight oats are NOT OATMEAL. I think this was my first problem - I expected them to taste like oatmeal, and prepared them as I would normally prepare oatmeal... of course they turned out watery and tasteless. It was like biting into an olive thinking it was a grape. Overnight oats are really more like soggy cereal, and need to be thickened up a bit. For this I would recommend yogurt, coconut milk, or both. It sounds weird, but trust me, it makes them way more yummy.
3) Overnight oats are extremely convenient. When I have an 8am meeting and have to catch the bus at 7, I really do not want to have to make breakfast for myself because it inevetably makes me almost miss the bus. Thus it is quite nice to have something homemade-ish already sitting in the fridge and ready to be tossed in my bag.
4) Overnight oats should be kept in a container with a very secure top. The downside of just tossing them in your bag is that this sometimes has adverse consequences for your textbooks and notebooks. I highly recommend something with a screw-on lid, such as a small mason jar. Highly recommend. Highly.
5) As long as you expect them to taste like soggy cereal, they are actually quite tasty. Also fact.

Remember last week I promised (or rather, threatened) a post about moving furniture around in my apartment? This is that post. It is the totally boring story of my failed attempt to move my giant pink chair from my living room into my bedroom. See now it's not even suspenseful because you know how it ends.

Anyways, I have this pink chair in my living room. I found it outside of my building shortly after I moved in - once I deduced that a) no one wanted it, b) it was free and c) it had only been outside for a few hours, I decided to claim it. Ben and I carried it upstairs, plonked it in my living room, and there it has stayed. It's nice to have for extra seating, but it doesn't quite fit with the color schema....

... but for a while I've thought it would work perfectly in this sad, lonely and empty spot in my bedroom next to the radiator....

...and so began my endeavor to move my chair about 30 feet from one end of my apartment to the other. The chair is really damn heavy, so in order to move it anywhere I had to slide it, which is not so awesome for the wood floors. Luckily I have a couple of towels that have been relegated to "sweaty yoga towel" status:

Getting it through the first door was a little tight, but it worked out OK. The second door was another story altogether - people in the early 20th century must have had really, really tiny furniture... either that or whoever designed this biulding had some crazy sadistic streak. Either way, despite my best efforts and use of yoga-muscles, that door was not having it.

Just for contrast, here's the chair in the first door:

...and the second door:

...and so the chair is still in my living room. But I have other plans for the empty bedroom space...stay tuned.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Weekend Recap, part 2!

Happy Monday! After a 6am Vinyasa class this morning, I drove up to my parents house to pick up some materials I needed for my Healthcare class, and lo and behold I am still here :) I helped my mom dismantle the tree (I mean LITERALLY dismantle... we chopped it into pieces and dragged it outside. My dad always picks out the tree and each year it gets progressively more gargantuan... yet somehow he always gets out helping take it down... but with his new hip he has no excuse right??)

I also almost hit a deer on the way up...this is not an unusual occurance, as deer tend to frolick about quite frequently in these parts. I stopped to avoid it and then waited for about 20 seconds as the deer ran around in circles trying to decide how, exactly, to get off the road. Going back the way he had come did not seem to occur to him. Deer are not the smartest... I digress.

So the second day of our valentines weekend started out with whole-wheat muffins and chocolate hazelnut strudel! The chocolate hazelnut strudel is probably my favorite of Teri's pastries (that and the little orange-flavored rolls...mmm...). I don't even want to know how many sticks of butter are in them, but in this case ignorance is definitely bliss. Besides, everyone knows that the whole wheat in the muffins cancels out the butter and chocolate.

The red plates and glasses were gorgeous, and the mango mimosas were...mmm yummy. Never to early in the day for Prosecco.

The main course was... I'm not even sure what to call it but wow it was good. Also no dearth of butter in this guy... some sort of bread-pudding benedict type concoction. Delish.

Before we hit the road we picked up some sandwiches from Water House for the road. I picked the Desdemona (ham, cheese and rosemary mayo on sourdough...real ham too, no fake deli-sliced ham here), which is probably my new favorite sandwich. I will have to figure out how to re-create it at home :).

The last stop was at our favorite wine shop - turns out when you've bought 12 bottles you get one free! So I left Lake Mills with 3 wine bottles and a six pack of beer....the only way to go out.
I figured the same concept that applies to pastries also applies to beverages, so I got some tea to balance out all the wine. Totally logical.

Now back to reality... I have three assignments due this week and I need to figure out what to cook for myself so that I actually have lunches to bring to school with me, AND I need to figure out what to make for my birthday party on Friday... chances are good that my B-day present from my parents will be involved :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentines Weekend Recap, Part 1!

When Ben and I realized we were most likely going to end up going to graduate school in different states (long story...), we immediately decided to decide on a mid-way meet up spot. I'm not entirely sure how we found Lake Mills, Wisconsin but I think it basically started with us browsing through B&Bs in southern Wisconsin (about halfway between Minneapolis and Bowling Green OH), and going "hey this one looks good". So now, every couple-few months we drive to Lake Mills to spend the weekend at the Sweet Autumn Inn. Since September of 2009 we've gotten to know Teri the innkeeper, who is an AMAZING cook...and she now forces us to tell other guests the story of how we got engaged in India... and we're recognized at most local haunts.

We got in on Friday in time to make it to the Blue Moon for dinner... I die for their pulled pork sandwich...and then watched a movie at the inn. Saturday's breakfast started out with coffee (obviously), and valentine-decorated apple strudel:

Follwed by CHOCOLATE FRENCH TOAST..... this is something I need to learn how to make ASAP!

The rest of the day was basically homework. I had a lot of reading to get done, and Ben had some revisions to do on his thesis (he defends in two weeks!) so we holed up in the room with tea and our various study materials.

See how happy Ben is writing his thesis?....yes..............
Eventually we got bored of being in the room and decided to take a walk downtown... we saw several neat ice sculptures on the way (Including a GB Packers sculpture...booo... we won't be posting that one on the blog...)

As per usual, we ended up at our favorite coffee shop and sandwich place, Water House Foods. Water House is a great little place, and a nice organic/whole foods foodie haven in the middle of a town full of fried fish (not that fried fish doesn't have its time and place, but it's nice to have something different too). They make their own house-made granola, baked goods (lemon bars are to die for), and artisan breads....AND all their sandwiches are named after characters from Shakespeare!
We sipped on tea and finished up our work....

...and as we were getting ready to leave the owner of Water House mentioned that they were having wine and dinner specials with live acoustic guitar that night. Sold! So a couple hours later, after showering and relaxing, we ended up back at Water House for dinner and some Malbec.
We met a really sweet couple who classified themselves as Water House "groupies" (I think Ben and I might fall in that camp, too!) and gave us some other restaurant recommendations in the area. After hanging out at Water House for a while we headed to the local microbrewery, Tyranena, for more live music and some beer.

The band was called Brown Derby (I think...). They're from Madison and they were really good! We had fun dancing with the people we met there, and Ben and I split a pint of "Shaggin in the Wood", a bourbon barrel aged scotch ale. Yum! I also met a new friend... I have no idea what her name is but she was EXTREMELY drunk and insisted on smooching me (luckily we captured this moment on camera), giving me life-advice for about 20 minutes, and telling me and Ben she would totally trust us to sublet her place if we ever wanted to. We had known her for all of 5 minutes at this point. Here's a pic of me with my new bestie:

I look truly overjoyed. She was totally squishing my face.

After fun times at Tyranena, we drove back to the hotel blasting Bollywood music and had some wine by the fireplace. A great pre-Valentines date evening :)

Back tomorrow with part 2! Hope you all had a lovely weekend :)

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