Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scapes, and Kohlrabi, and Kale! Oh, my!

Pureeing frozen bananas one day, trying scapes and kohlrabi the next. Oh, and all of the jogging. Am I becoming a health freak?! Maybe, but it's kind of worth it. I'd like to keep my size 6's, unless I have to trade them in for 4's (or 2's!). You know what helps me with that? The Farmer's Market.

For those of you who don't know, Madison's Capitol Square hosts the Dane County Farmer's Market every Saturday from April through November. It's one of the largest (and best!) farmer's markets in the country, and I try to go every week. Now, I could say I go every week because I'm truly excited about the fresh produce, but that'd be a lie. I go because it's hard for me to go more than one week without a scone from Chris & Lori's Bakehouse. They have lots of kinds, and they're labeled in cases which range from "ultra-healthy" down to.... not so healthy. I usually go with the ultra-healthy, so I can remain guilt-free. It helps that their ultra-healthy scones are also ultra-delicious.

Mmmm... 
I always, always, get a blueberry oatmeal scone. Today I caught myself gazing lovingly at the carrot raisin as well, so I got two. Carrot raisin was breakfast today, which means I get to have the blueberry oatmeal tomorrow! It's a huge change from my normal breakfast of oatmeal... with blueberries. I'm pretty wild. Sometimes the blueberries are wild, too. Wild blueberries! Get it?

Do ya?

...

So today as I was wandering around the square (and cursing myself for wearing long sleeves- 67 is NOT cool enough for long sleeves), I thought I'd try some new things. Here's the whole Farmer's Market spread: 

Beautiful, right? I thought so. Here's what I've got... in the bowl on the far left, some fresh spinach (which probably won't survive the day). The darker green leaves just in front of the spinach belong to a bunch of kale (one of my favorite leafy greens). Then there are 3 giant cucumbers, which I'll probably plan to have with things, but then end up eating plain because I love cucumbers that much. Then there's a beautiful bowl of strawberries, and the aforementioned scones. Right behind the scones are the kohlrabi, which I'd never had until today. Between the cucumbers and the kohlrabi are scapes (those pretty green curly things), and then in the bag is a big bowl of mixed greens. I think that covers everything! Not bad for a day's work. 

Scapes are completely new to me, as is the kohlrabi. I chatted for a few minutes with the woman who sold me the scapes, just asking what they're like and what I should do with them. She asked if I like garlic, which... duh, I can eat it raw. She said I'd probably like scapes raw, then, but otherwise they can be used in place of garlic in any old recipe. As soon as I got home, I rinsed off a scape and tried it. Who dang! They're spicy. The good, garlic kind of spice, where it kind of burns your mouth but it really hurts-so-good. I'm guessing John Mellencamp's song was secretly written for scapes. If I cook some spinach later, perhaps I'll throw in a few scapes instead of garlic. Mmmm...

And then there's kohlrabi. It's really strange looking. Like the love child of an onion and broccoli. It does kind of taste like raw broccoli, but I hesitate in saying that because I really don't like raw broccoli. Cooked, I can eat it by the pound. But raw? Yuck. Naturally I poked around online using my gifts, and found that kohlrabi works raw or cooked. People recommended cutting it into matchsticks and then having it with dip. I have some Mediterranean Olive hummus on hand, so I thought I'd try that. Well, as I was peeling and chopping the kohlrabi (which was slightly harder than I anticipated), I just kept munching on it. By the time I finished chopping it, it was gone. No hummus for me, I suppose. I guess that means I liked it! It definitely does taste like raw broccoli, but without that weird dry texture. It's crispy and juicy, like a carrot, but with a broccoli-like flavor. It's very interesting. Apparently the leaves are good too, so perhaps I'll throw some of them in with my spinach later. Or with my kale. A party of greens! Again, I'm pretty wild.

In conclusion, scapes: delicious, kohlrabi: delicious. Scapes > kohlrabi. Scones > everything

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bahnanana do-doo-be-do-do

Here's the deal. I spend way too much time poking around online. Whether it's researching the best way to treat shin splints (and then going with my friends' advice anyway), looking up sauerkraut recipes to feed a recent craving, or finding the answer to age old questions (what is the difference between the UK,  GB, and England? cough), I can easily blow several hours without doing anything productive. It's a gift.

Today, when I was using my gift for 15 minutes or so leading up to my jog (you read correctly, I jog. I'm Sporty Spice), I stumbled across the following: Banana Soft Serve. If you're anything like me, you've tried and fallen in love with the Madison's the Chocolate Shoppe. If you're freakishly like me, your favorite flavor is an ambrosial blend called "Fat Elvis." It's banana ice cream with a peanut butter ripple and chocolate chunks.

What, that doesn't sound like real life to you? Oh, let-me-tell-you. Every time I taste this ice cream it leads to some sort of out of body experience. Ridiculous. It should've been on my "What I'll miss most about Madison" post. It probably deserves its own post. Maybe I'll make a separate blog about this ice cream.

Aaaaaaaaanyway. When I stumbled upon the blog linked above, I just had to try the recipe. Supposedly it tastes like ice cream- banana ice cream, of course- but still! Ice cream! For the calories of a banana! So I violently ripped up two bananas and threw them in the freezer so that they'd have the 3 (okay, maybe I was impatient and it was more like 2 1/2...) hours to get nice 'n' icey.

When the moment of truth arrived, I realized I couldn't fit two bananas in my (joke? too easy) tiny little food blender, so I did two batches. I added vanilla to the first batch, like the pregnant video woman (uhh...Roni?) suggests. DELICIOUS. I was feeling adventurous with the second, so I added a tablespoon of Jiff super chunky peanut butter. Well, that was maybe the best decision I've ever made. Actually, deciding to try this method was perhaps the best decision ever. Bananas? Good. Ice cream? Good. Peanut butter? Good. Vanilla? Good. Next time, maybe I'll do peanut butter AND chocolate syrup! Or chocolate chips, or blueberries, or cherries, or strawberries, or cookie dough...

I will say, I wouldn't call the resulting concoction just like ice cream. I like to be able to taste the fat in my ice cream, and this certainly didn't taste fattening. It tasted like frozen banana. BUT! As those chocolate covered bananas one sees down the shore (even easier...) have shown us, frozen bananas are delicious. I'm definitely making this again. If I had another frozen banana in the freezer, I'd make another right now! But that'd be my 4th banana today and really, that's probably excessive. When I froze two bananas earlier, it was entirely with the intention of re-freezing one "batch" for another night. The fact that this was basically impossible speaks to the deliciousness of this frozen treat. Make it. Now.

Life is a Verb.



My Kindle and I finished reading Patti Digh's Life is a Verb a few nights ago. It started off strangely for me, to be honest. I wasn't crazy about her tone, and when she mentioned things like "fair trade coffee" and "organic grapes," her snobbery seemed to overshadow the purpose of her book. What is the purpose of her book? Well, her stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer, and 37 days later he died. She was struck with the thought: what if we lived each day as if we only had 37 days to live? Comprised of three parts, "Life as a Verb" starts with an introductory section which basically explains her reasoning behind writing. For her, writing things down creates a sort of memory box, preserving her stories and experiences for her children and their children. "We are all only one step away from losing the stories of our lives. I write to remember." I think that pretty well sums up part one.

Part two holds the bulk of the writing. It is a series of short stories that expand upon Digh's "Six Practices for Intentional Living." Each one of the six practices is a chapter, and each chapter consists of six stories which approach that chapter's practice from a different angle. Here are her six practices:
1. Intensity: Say Yes
2. Inclusion: Be Generous
3. Integrity: Speak Up
4. Intimacy: Love more
5. Intuition: Trust Yourself
6. Intention: Slow Down.
Now, through this entire part, my Kindle's "highlight" feature got pretty tired. See below... I've listed maybe 1/4 of what I highlighted. Good stuff.


What I really loved about this book is that it pulls in quotes from all different sources. From Hermann von Helmholtz to Franz Kafka to people you've probably never heard of. Here are several of my favorite quotes from the book:
   -"Engage with intensity. Say yes. And dance more."
   -"Stop yourself from judging others in order not to be judged yourself. Then you'll be free to dance wildly in your car. . . Practice being curious, not judgmental." 
   -"When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life." (Albert Geoffrey)
  -"The trick is not how much pain you feel but how much joy you feel. Any idiot can feel pain. Life is full of excuses to feel pain, excuses not to live, excuses, excuses, excuses." (Erica Jong)
  -"Sometimes taking flight takes letting go. Letting go takes faith. Faith takes letting go. It all requires wings. And so it goes."
  -"How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we humans know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown." (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)
  -"Sometimes. . . life just comes down to showing up, or sitting upright, or at the very least flinging one leg at a time off the bed."


Part three is titled "Life is a Verb," just like the book itself, and it contains a short section on becoming who you're truly meant to be. More than becoming, being. It's one thing to be aware of who you are, and another to completely embrace that person; to become the best version of yourself, rather than the best imitation of who you think you should be. "Live an Irresistible Obituary. . . Live an extraordinary and irresistible life to ensure that when you die, the people who are left have the feeling that with your passing the world has become a duller place."

This book really turned around for me. At the beginning I was very unsure- is it a self-help book? If so, that's relatively new territory for me. I'm more of a novel or textbook kind of girl. Now that I've finished it, I'm not sure what to categorize it as. Maybe self-help, but it's so full of stories I have trouble assigning that label (not to mention the stigma it carries). Overall, I'd really recommend the book. I think it's incredibly inspirational, and it definitely made me stop and think about how I approach things. A lot of things. And after all, that's why we're here, right? To learn, to think, and to expand and grow. This book made me do all of those, and I'm still feeling the aftershocks several days later. I'd say that's a sign of a worthwhile read.

Monday, June 20, 2011

BABIES EVERYWHERE!

Phew. This has been one exciting evening!

Well, first let's go over what's been going on lately. Amanda (my dog walking boss) is going away later this week, so I'm covering tons of dogs for her. Today I met Barkley, Tempie, and Henry. Tomorrow I'll meet some more. I'm doing somewhere around 8 walks each on Wednesday and Thursday, and expect to be walking from 11am to 6:15pm each day. It's going to be a busy week! Also, I didn't go to German this morning (gasp!), and instead stayed home to work on German by myself. And you know what? I really learn a lot more on my own than I do in class. I covered the materials for tomorrow and half of Wednesday in one morning! So we'll see. If I slack off in the slightest bit, it's back to class I go. Until then, I'm going to see how I do just spending each morning with German.

As for my life since last Wednesday... hm. On Friday afternoon I had a lovely time hiking and chatting with Amanda (my non-dog walking boss). We went up to Devil's Lake, which is a little over an hour away from Madison, and we did one trail up the side of the "mountain" on the East side of the lake:


and then walked down another trail which was a little flatter:







We really had a great time, despite the heat. After that we just lounged on some towels by the water, and both dozed off a bit.




Then, Friday night I met Jamie at the terrace for some beer. I had a fantastic time getting to know her better, though I perhaps had one too many beers :)


Saturday morning, Amanda (non-dog) and I took a delightful stroll around the Farmer's market, and then we had breakfast on the Monona terrace. It was surprisingly empty, and it was super nice outside. The perfect temperature to sit in the Sun and enjoy the lake breeze. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than with a delicious scone, a dear friend, and a beautiful view.




Saturday night was Garreth's birthday party, and that was really fun as well. It was out on the East side of town, and there were classy snacks and lots of new people to meet. Garreth sang and played guitar a bit:



and then he, Richard, and Rachel performed some Elvis Costello covers. (Am I the only one who doesn't really know who Elvis Costello is??) It went pretty late into the evening, but I didn't mind at all since I was really having a great time! Garreth and Lauren also mentioned making a sort of "Austin scavenger hunt" for me to complete once I move, since they used to live there. It should help me get to know the town a bit. Even though they won't be there, it's definitely comforting to know people who at least are familiar with the area.

Sunday I wasn't feeling too hot- probably from eating so much food that I wasn't used to eating. I suppose it was worth it, but it made me pretty mellow. I got a lot of German done! And I went for a jog with Caitlin later in the evening, so the day wasn't a total waste. Oh, and of course I skyped with the fam for Father's Day.

So that brings us to today. A very important day, indeed! It's Gavin Schultz's birthday!!!

Here's the story: At around 6:45, my friend Jam called me to ask if he and Kim (his wife) could stop by to "ask me a question." Obviously I found it a bit odd that they couldn't ask me over the phone, but I went with it and said "of course." Around 20 minutes later they arrived, and told me some big news. No, no, not the Gavin news. They're having a baby, too! Geez louise! Babies everywhere. I was VERY excited to hear this (I feel like I've been waiting for them to have a baby for ages) and may've let out several celebratory squeals. After we calmed down and I got a few question out of my system (she's 13 weeks, they're going to choose not to find out the sex before the birth, they don't know if there's more than one baby yet, most of the morning sickness has passed, etc.), they mentioned that they called Duncan to tell him and that Duncan sounded a little off. Turns out, Duncan was at the hospital because Allison had given birth earlier! Seriously? Seriously. Babies everywhere. Jam was calling Duncan to ask if they could stop by to tell them their news, and ends up finding out that Duncan and Allison literally had a baby today. On this day! Gavin's birthday. Jam and Kim were headed to the hospital to see them, and I decided to tag along. Allison and Duncan were tired, but pretty normal given the situation! I would have been a mess. We got to see little Gavin in the NICU (he arrived around 3 weeks early) and he's ADORABLE. He made these cute squeaky purr sounds in his sleep, and he seems to be working on mastering the art of thumb sucking. We spent some time watching him, then went out to get Duncan and Allison some dinner.

While babies are the farthest thing from my mind lately, it's incredibly exciting to have friends who're at that point in their lives. I couldn't be happier for Duncan and Allison or for Jam and Kim. Whether planned or not, their entire world is about to change, and I can't wait to have that experience someday. I hope to have friends like them around to help me celebrate.

And to bring me a McFlurry.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This is going in the blog.

Flashback time. Ready?

Picture it: Fall of 2007. I'm flitting about in Europe, enjoying that college experience known as "study abroad." Whenever anything interesting happens, such as: a pigeon dying in the window of our apartment, the woman upstairs yelling at us for cooking too many onions, or the natives singing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," either my roommates or myself would exclaim "This is going in the journal!"

Well friends, I think it's time to bring back that phrase.

I used it most recently when on a jog with my friend Caitlin. What's that, you say? You didn't know I could jog? I can't, really. It's very new. I'm somewhat of a jogging special ed case, but Caitlin found a "couch potato to 5K" program and I'm tagging along with her. Monday was my first time trying it (she's already on week 3), but I kept up okay, and plan on continuing. We'll see! Someone made podcasts which correspond to the program, so she listens to it and it tells us when to run and when to walk. There's a lot of timing involved. We're clearly incredibly sporty, and when we were doing so well "this is going in the blog!" just came out. And here it is, in the blog.

I've been super busy lately. German is owning my life, but that's okay. I'm still not a huge fan of the class, but if it means I pass out of a requirement, I can deal. On Tuesday, one of my classmates pointed out that we're already 1/3 of the way through the course. Imagine that! One-third. 33.33%.

I watched Garreth and Lauren's dog Dodger last weekend. We were pretty much obsessed with each other and we snuggled every night. After they returned, I had to go back to sleeping alone. I missed having a little fluff ball squished up against my side! She'd go to sleep at the foot of the bed, and then she'd wake up face to face with me. She's a mobile sleeper. One morning she really had to go out, and she sat next to my face and pawed at my shoulder. It was basically the cutest thing that's ever happened in my life.



In other news, the sunset over lake Mendota was RIDICULOUS last Saturday night. I drove around a little bit so that I could park and take these pictures. I looked like a crazy person, dashing to and fro in James Madison Park, but whatever. It was totally worth it.

 

I have Jingle Bells stuck in my head now. Dashing to and fro, dashing through the snow... 
Similar.

I could really go for one of these.

The End.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Das ist nicht gut.

Why did I think I could learn to read German in 6 weeks? Oh, no problem, I'm getting a PhD. Clearly all other academic endeavors are a piece of cake.

Idiot.

Anyway. German is Mon/Tues/Wed, so I'm very excited to have this morning off from meine Deutsche Gedanken. I will say, I'm pretty impressed with how much material I've absorbed thus far, though I feel a bit behind the other students when it comes to the cases. Dative, nominative, accusative... I should really figure out what those are. But not today. No German today. (kein Deutscher heute?!)

Actually, the teacher told us to take some time away from the language, just because the last few days have been so intense. She mentioned all of the physical side effects one can experience from such aggressive learning, such as: pulled muscles, strained ligaments, and lower back pain. She then exclaimed "WHAT! This is not a baseball game!" and she was right. German is not a baseball game. Deutsch ist nicht ein Baseball-spiel.

Perhaps I should have spent more time learning German when I was actually IN Germany. Instead, I did this:


I'm looking forward to a moderately relaxing day today. I only have two walks, starting at 11, and then I'm free for the rest of the day. I'm hoping to go to a coffee shop to get some reading done in CHoWMT (AKA the Cambridge History of Western Music Theory), but we'll see how that goes. Depends on my motivation.

In other news, I've officially found an apartment in Austin! Now I'm just trying to juggle the moving companies to see who can get me my stuff in the timeliest fashion. We'll see! I really want the stuff to arrive while Mom is still visiting Austin, just so she can help me get settled. She's better at that stuff than I am. Settling, I mean.

I have a new goal! I want to watch all 7 Harry Potter films before the new one comes out on July 15th. I started the first one last night, and hopefully (if I'm productive...) I'll finish it this evening.

Look at my dream breakfast! I even blurred the edges, so it'd be extra dreamy. If I could figure out how to make a whole tone scale sound at just this moment wherever you are, I'd do it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feelin' hot-hot-hot

It's very warm out right now. I can tell because I have all of my windows open and it's FINALLY hot in my apartment. We've had several days in the 80's and 90's, but somehow my apartment has defied these temperatures and remained a comfortable 72 or so. That is, until this morning. The heat caught up to me, and it's forcing me to turn on the air conditioning. I'm okay with that. I wonder if I could just carry the A/C unit with me on today's walks! Perhaps not. 96 is going to feel very warm. Zama will probably do this:



Anywho. I've had an excellent couple of days! Friday afternoon I had tea with April and Amanda at Macha on Monroe St., and they gave us free (amazing) mango cupcakes (delicious). Then after dinner we went to the terrace for Jazz fest, where we also saw Adam and Sonya. During the day on Friday it was in the 90's-very uncomfortable-but that made for a wonderful evening temperature. I've never seen so many people on the terrace! It was a jam-packed jamfest:


Vs. a packed festive jam: 

*Ahem.*
The sunset was beautiful over the lake:


Saturday was also very hot. I spent several hours at the farmer's market with my dog walking boss Amanda (different than the aforementioned Amanda) handing out postcards to drum up some new business. There may have been ice cream cones and kettle corn involved. The heat affected my judgement!

Sunday I went to church and then we had a picnic on the capital lawn. It was right around 85 outside, but the humidity was low, and it was really perfect for a picnic. I stayed late in order to get some reading done in CHoWMT (AKA The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory), since I'm approx 2 weeks behind in my 12 week reading plan. GAH! Stupid car accident.



Yesterday was also very hot. I think we got up to around 95. Naturally, I spent the majority of the day outside. I didn't have any dogs yesterday, so I thought I'd walk to my German class to get some exercise. It's only a little over a mile! Pshaw. What I neglected to factor into my walk decision was the extreme humidity AND the climb up Bascom hill. WOAH. I was very hot. I broke up the walk home with a stop off at the Humanities building to get April. Then we had lunch outside with Jam before walking back to my house. April and I then spent a lovely couple of hours at Olbrich Gardens. I can't believe I went this long without going there! Next tolerable day (I'm thinking low 80's. Noble mission.) I'm going there to read. It's so gorgeous!



In other news, I'm stressing a bit about moving to Austin. Yesterday I was juggling phone calls from movers and emails from my realtor, but it looks like I've finally found a place! I'm just waiting for an email from some woman. I'm actually a little irritated that I haven't heard from her yet. Woman! Email me! Sheesh.

Okay, time to get ready for my day. My very, very warm day. I think I'll walk to class again, even though today's supposed to be warmer than yesterday. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I have a lot to say,

...just ask anyone who's ever received one of my 3,000+ word emails. Whenever I try to update people on my life, I inevitably end up including small side stories and comments on anything from something that happened to me in the 2nd grade, through what I'm planning to have for dinner. I love to tell stories.

I'm no chef, nor do I have any desire to blog about my culinary adventures, however I've recently gotten into reading food blogs. Every time I read one, it makes me think about how I should keep a journal. Well, saying and doing are two entirely different things, so I thought perhaps I could use this as a sort of journal space; a place for me to store my favorite memories and stories.

I'm at an interesting point in my life: I'm through the awkward post-undergraduate transition period, but I'm still in school. I've successfully moved halfway across the country. *Alone.* I'm planning another move in August to start working on my PhD. Alone, again. I'm a Jersey native, and that seems to bleed into many aspects of my personality. I can be rather straightforward and blunt, despite my shy nature. I am rather preoccupied with my hair, and it can, occasionally, be considered "big." I also yell a lot when I'm driving, and I'm completely convinced that East Coaster's are the only people who know how to drive.

I really love dogs, though my current living situation (and perhaps my budget as well) doesn't allow for me to have one of my own. So! Instead, I have a part time job as a dog walker. I usually walk four or so dogs a day, give or take. I almost always love it- even in the rain, snow, or sweltering heat. I'm like the postal worker of dog walking.

I'm primarily a student, so my educational adventures will probably be the main focus of my musings, but I'll inevitably end up including lots of other things. After all, school isn't my entire life. Or at least that's what I like to tell myself.

Before I sign off, here's a list of just a few things I'm going to miss most about Madison:

1. The terrace
2. Spring!

3. Friends
4. Fall

5. And of course, snow.