Monday, March 28, 2011

The Elimination Diet

We are on a diet. This diet.

I have been wanting to go on this diet for about a month now and convinced Aaron to do it with me by bribing him with cheese curds. It would be to difficult to do by myself, since peanut butter, bread, and eggs are very tempting to have sitting around the kitchen.

We have made it through the first week, which has been pretty great for me. Despite the difficulty of giving up coffee and the limited amount of foods I can eat, I have a ton more energy and haven't had a bad stomach ache/digestion problem all week. (Which is a big deal when you normally have a stomach ache at least once a day!)

Last weekend was the detox phase, which is 2 days of only green smoothies. It was pretty difficult, especially when we had to go grocery shopping and register for wedding gifts on Saturday. But we made it! Adding avocado to a few smoothies really helped bulk them up and fill me up. 1 Avocado + lots of mango + Spinach + water = really delicious smoothie.

After two days of smoothies, eating regular food was a relief. Since Phase 1 of the diet is pretty restrictive, we have been eating a lot of lentils, quinoa, and vegetables. It also has gotten me to try a few things I haven't made before, like adzuki beans and collard greens. Here is a list of foods you can eat during Phase 1: Elimination Diet Phase 1.

There is a lot you can't eat, but there is also plenty to eat. We added salmon too, which they recommended if you exercise regularly. Most of the week we have had quinoa bowls with maple syrup, pear, and cinnamon for breakfast. Today we needed to change it up. We made this: Sweet Potato and Adzuki Hash.

Yum, it was really good and with a fried egg on top, it would be even better!

This week we continue into Phase 2, which is the same foods, but adding lemon and lime.


Everyone goes through a phase where they think their life might be playing a joke on them, right?

Well, I'm going through one of those phases now. When we decided to move to Madison I was just finishing up an application to the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Although I detest U of M, it is a great program (ranked #7) and I didn't think I had much of a chance to get in. I submitted my application and felt like it was a waste of $$, 1) because we were probably moving to Wisconsin, and 2) because I just did not think I would get in. (I didn't think I was diverse enough).

Of course you can see where this is going. I did get in and I got a fellowship on top of that.

Even better, I won't qualify for in-state tuition at UW-Madison unless I defer for a year and I wouldn't qualify for in-state in Michigan since I already switched my driver's license. It's a lot of money were talking about. Like a whole year's salary worth.

Although I'm not 100%, we have pretty much decided that I will start grad school in the fall as planned and we will eat the cost.

PLUS I haven't posted in a few days because I started a job last week. It is full time for now, but to keep the job in September I need to be a student at UW. I had another job offer that seemed really great and I could have deferred for a year, but I decided to turn it down. It would have been much easier to only have 1 option.

So now I just need to accept the decisions and let go of the possibilities that could have been if i had chosen the other job or was able to go to U of M. Luckily I have a wonderful fiance who would rather have me working and in school than save $30,000.

And to get me flowers. Which he will have to water because they would die in my care.

Took this picture last night... the buds are now turning pink.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back with Dumplings

After a week in the Mitten State, I'm finally back in Madison with something to write about, with pictures. This is what we made for dinner tonight: Vegetable Dumplings. Yum.

It was supposed to be a "quick" dinner, but making the dough and assembling took a little while. Once the dumplings are together its really easy and fast to cook them. We did not do the thing where you add water to hot oil and steam them, but that's mostly because Aaron used a lot of oil to fry these suckers. They were less dumplings and more strangely shaped egg rolls.

He went to work at 6 this morning and is tired.

Recap of Michigan visit:
  • Sold my Subaru (sad).
  • Spent time with some good friends and family.
  • Ate out a lot.
  • Ordered wedding flowers.
  • Had a wedding dress fitting (sans the previously purchased shoes, oops).
  • Realized I'm allergic to cats.
  • Celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Jackson
  • Felt cold the whole time because I'm used to this 80 degree apartment!
We also had a great Saturday night in Madison enjoying the good weather and beer. All of the eating out and drinking have made me feel more ready than ever to start an elimination diet this coming weekend. More about that later! And more coming up about school, work and pizza.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

3 year olds are funny

Since I'm home in Michigan for a week and left my camera in Wisconsin, I thought I would share some great quotations I saved from working with pre-schoolers during my last job. Enjoy the wise, random, and often hilarious words of 2-4 year olds:

Me: What is your favorite place to go outside of school and your house? It could be a park, or a babysitter's house, or your grandparents.....
Kid: My favorite place is Wal-Mart.

Kid: My stomach hurts a lot. When it hurts it means I have to poop.

Kid 1: We don't have cable!
Me: Thats ok, I don't have cable either.
Kid 1: We're waiting for my mom to get money.
Kid 2: My dad doesn't got any money.

Kid 1: Ms. Miriam, I feel sad.
Me: Why?
Kid 1: Because I have sleepy eyes.
Kid 2: I close my eyes, and then I wake up.

Me: Does anyone know what a neighbor is?
Kid: Its a stranger who will come take you away.

Kid: I can't go to Halloween because I'm a Jehova.

And my ultimate favorite...
Kid: If I don't pee my momma is gonna whoop me!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Today I washed my hair in a tub, brushed my teeth from a cup and used a port-a-potty.

No, I'm not camping. This is just what happens when your septic tank collapses!

When buying houses, I will look back on this day and hopefully convince Aaron that he really does want to live in a city.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Photos from yesterday

Not much time to write today since are going to Kalamazoo for the weekend and wedding stuff. I have a lot left to get ready!

Below are some pictures I took yesterday while I was at the capitol protesting for most of the day. One door was open, so I waited in line for a long time to get in and you will notice how empty the building looks compared to the pictures from Wednesday night. We had to go through metal detectors to get in, which was ridiculous. No one has brought a weapon the whole time this has been going on. On the news, they were talking about how police were worried it would be too loud for the assembly to meet and I believe that is the real reason they bolted all the windows and doors, except for one entrance.

more pictures: My flickr account

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Being a citizen of Wisconsin

These photos and video are all from Aaron's phone, taken last night.

Throughout all of the protesting in Madison the past few weeks, I have felt like I'm not sure where I really belong in it. Just moving here and having everything erupt, I wanted to support the protesters, but I sorta felt like a visitor among people who really live here.

For sure, my annoyance at the way the situation is being handled has been growing, but even when Assembly Republicans rammed a vote through in 13 seconds, I didn't feel compelled to head to the capitol. (Actually, after watching the recordings of the vote, I just felt embarrassed for them and their behavior.)

But last night after dinner, when Aaron and I realized that a vote had gone through the Senate without the missing democrats, we dropped what we were going to do for the evening and walked to the capitol. Why? Not because the actions of taking "fiscal" items out of the bill was so ridiculous, but more because we finally got our Wisconsin driver's licenses. Since for all of my adult life I have been represented by a piece of plastic from Michigan, its weird to have the look and feel of my i.d. card totally change. It seems like proof that I am actually going to live here (not like in college when I lived in Illinois but hung onto my MI i.d. for four years).

I am somewhat disgusted and embarrassed to become a member of a state with such a government, but I finally feel like taking responsibility for it. After all, I will be voting in the next elections.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Snowy Day/ Rant about "Man" Food

On Monday, I watched the local weather guy spew about how it was going to be 40 degrees all week and it would probably rain but would totally be too warm for snow.

Uh-huh. This is why I try not to watch the weather or look up the weather beyond predictions for same day temperatures. They are so wrong most of the time. So wrong weather guy, it has snowed twice already this week and its only Wednesday.
Yup, thats about four inches of "solid rain"
Well, waking up to this scene makes me want to stay inside my 80 degree apartment all day wearing a tank top and shorts, while cooking. Then I can pretend its summer or I live in a tropical climate.

I'm going to make this beer bread again. Yes, it was that good, good enough to make again in a couple weeks. That is a huge deal for me. I actually found the recipe for this bread because it was described on Food Gawker as making the perfect "man" sandwich. Any food described as a "man" anything grabs my attention, because I think it's bullshit. Yeah, adding bacon or beer to anything makes it perfect for men because that's all they eat and all women eat are salads! (unless the salad is doused in bacon and beer dressing, then its for men, get it?)

Seriously. I hate bacon so whatever with that, but the whole "Women Don't Like Beer" thing annoys me. I actually don't purchase a lot of beer because their advertising is so insulting to women. I guess they don't care that women are half of the population and they could possibly tap into that. Luckily, most microbrews don't advertise yet, so I can still boycott the sexist ones while enjoying all the good beer.

Here's an interesting commentary on how beer commercials make women look like objects and men look like sex-obsessed idiots.

Anyway, the bread is so good I am willing to look past the major labeling error.

I am happy to have my interviews over for the week so I can relax. But I can't really relax because I should be applying for more jobs. I did learn that having four interviews in two weeks means I don't really get nervous about interviews anymore! It's too much work to be nervous for so many days. Fingers crossed, I get one of the jobs.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Weekend Destinations

This weekend Aaron and I visited quite a few new places, which I summarized below.

Woodmans: A grocery store that is reminiscent of a huge Aldi. We went here to buy beer because we heard they had a good selection. The problem was, we couldn't find the beer! The store was kinda scary because the ceilings were low and the carts were very high. I didn't like it at all. Plus, it took ten minutes to walk through the refrigerated sausage section.

We walked around the whole thing looking for alcohol, before giving up. Apparently, the alcohol is in a separate area which we found by driving around the parking lot. They do have a good selection, but the whole place smelled like a bottle return. GAG. I hate the smell of bottle returns sooo much, they make me feel gross.

Despite the lure to look at all the varieties of beer and liquor, I wanted to get out of their as fast as possible. We did pick up a bottle of Layer Cake Malbec for $12, so I guess it was worth it, but I told Aaron he would have to go by himself next time.

Pros: Maybe you can get a good deal on something!
Cons: Smells like shit.

Paul's Club: We went here after dinner on Friday to get a beer. I heard it was cool because there is a tree in the middle of the bar. A real huge tree! The seating was mostly lounge chairs/couches or bar seating, which made for a really relaxed experience. They also had a good beer selection, but it smelled like an old wet shoe inside. Obviously the thaw on Friday made for interesting smells.

Pros: Good beer, comfy seats, nice people watching.
Cons: Well, hopefully it won't smell like a shoe every time we go.

Barrique's on Monroe: I went here Saturday afternoon for a book-club meet up by A Practical Wedding (a great wedding/marriage website that isn't all about the homemade mint jelly the bride and groom made for favors). I didn't read the book, but I did have a great time talking to some intelligent and interesting women!

Barrique's is a cafe/wine cellar, which is a cool combination I haven't seen yet. Most importantly, the soy cappuccino I got was super frothy and probably the best one I have had.

Cooper's Tavern: I have been wanting to check out Cooper's Tavern since we moved here. I walk by it everyday and the lunch specials always look good. We didn't feel like making dinner, so we went for a walk around the Capitol and decided to stop here to get an appetizer. We grabbed seats at the bar and chose from the huge variety of draft beer.

Instead of getting one of their appetizers (bone marrow?), we decided to share an entree because they had mussels which we are incapable of turning down. Yum over all, and the atmosphere was pretty great, loved the fans turning on a pulley system.

Pros: Lots of beer, nice bartenders, interesting food.
Cons: They call themselves "The" Cooper's Tavern... and that is weird.

Monday, March 7, 2011

French Toast for Sunday

This is not my favorite breakfast. My favorite breakfast would involve eggs, salt, potatoes, salt, and probably some sort-of vegetable. I do love blueberry pancakes, but at breakfast or brunch I will always always choose the salty and fatty option over sweet and cakey.

However, I'm coming to realize I don't run the world and some people like sugar and fruit for breakfast. Some people like the one I live with (I know its just a ploy to get maple syrup into our apartment).

I also hate exerting myself in the morning, which is why Aaron normally makes breakfast. But yesterday he was too busy dealing with the mound of dishes in our sink and I became the designated French Toast Chef.

I found this recipe at this website, which has a million pop-ups and actually isn't a great recipe, so I am recording my version here so I never have to visit that website again.

Baked Strawberry-Stuffed French Toast

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2 tbsp sugar
4 oz softened cream cheese
4 thick slices of italian bread (probably 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick)
2 eggs
3/4 cup almond milk (or use cow milk, whateverrrr)
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
lots of cinnamon
1 tsp or so vanilla extract
dash of salt if you didn't use salted butter

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a baking dish and spray it with non-stick spray.
2. Place the strawberries in a bowl with the sugar and let it hang out.
3. Cut a pocket into each slice of bread, but be careful not to cut through to the other side.
4. Whisk eggs and milk in a pie pan.
5. Add the butter, flour, cinnamon, vanilla and salt to the milk/egg mix and combine.
6. Back to the strawberries: stir in the cream cheese.
7. Spoon/smash some of the strawberry mixture into each slice of bread.
8. Place each slice into the pie pan to absorb some of the egg mix. Make sure you get all surfaces covered!
9. Place coated slices into baking dish and bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.

Put some more strawberries on top and syrup, if you are into that. This definitely makes four servings but we ate all of it and then camped out on the couch for 2 hours digesting.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Gym

One of the first things I did when we moved to Madison was scope out the gyms. At $50 and up per month, they all seemed a little too pricey for a one paycheck budget. But after a week of being cooped up in the apartment, I realized that a gym membership was necessary for my mental well being and I joined one the very next day.

I looked at both gyms near the capitol building and chose Pinnacle over the more popular and decidedly larger Capitol Fitness. The people at Pinnacle were wayyyy nicer to me, made me feel welcome, and did not try to impress me with their classes or bribe me with a restaurant gift card. Since I don't take fitness classes much, I don't care if yoga is free or not. I was lost at Capitol Fitness and felt like they don't care if you join or not because they have enough members anyway. So if anyone from there reads this (ha): be nicer to people who come for a tour. Also, don't assume that I don't know how to use a bosu properly. Rude!

Anyway, I love the gym and it is totally worth paying for. I have been working out for an hour everyday and feeling pretty great.

Most of you know I worked at the student gym at Roosevelt throughout college, which meant I spent a lot of time there working out and working for money. It was very convenient.

I also worked with a personal trainer who liked to torture me by giving me really hard workouts and then laughing when I came in to work sore the next day. One of his favorite torture moves was the walking lunge. 3 sets of 3 laps around the fitness area and you can be sure you won't be walking normally the next day. I hated them with a passion.

Given those horrible memories, I'm not sure why I decided doing lunges would be a good leg workout for Wednesday. I guess pain fades with time. After I had surgery on my right foot, it was hard to do lunges because of the feet bending, so maybe I was testing my foot. Whatever the case, I convinced myself it wouldn't be so bad.

OH MY GOD, I was so wrong. So so wrong. I only did 100 walking lunges or so in total and yesterday I could hardly move. Don't get me started on going down stairs or the worst of them all, trying to sit down on the toilet. It's enough to make you hold it.

By last night, I was basically waddling. Of course, today would be the day I have a two mile walk to a job interview because I hate driving/street parking. Maybe Aaron will pick me up.

P.S. No pictures because taking pictures inside a gym is sorta weird.
P.P.S. I'm totally going to do lunges again to prove to myself how strong and wonderful I am. It hurts worse the first time right?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wedding Gift Idea 1

After I wrote that post yesterday about job searching I got a call for another interview! I guess talking about it helps.

This time is for a server position at a seemingly cool restaurant that has a lot of Belgian Beer on tap. This is the first response I've gotten from a restaurant; apparently my high-school retirement-home waitressing experience doesn't impress. It should though. What do retired people have to complain about since they can no longer complain about work? Food. Especially the jello flavor.

Anyway, I was really good at waiting on them and I think I could do the whole thing ten times better knowing I was working for tips.

So I wanted to let everyone in on a little secret and give you a great gift idea for our upcoming wedding.

All that bread Aaron and I have been making? And those delicious cinnamon rolls some of you tasted before we moved? You need to take its temperature before you add the yeast, or you kill it! Some people rely on feel, which I aspire to someday, but for now I only trust the thermometer.

Except we don't have a kitchen thermometer!

Instead, we have this................

Much more expensive ($100 more) than a kitchen thermometer.

And its actually made to measure air temperature... I think.

This is the point that reads temperature. I stick it in water, milk, butter, etc. to get that 106-110 degrees yeast needs to survive. Then Aaron takes it to work and uses it because he likes it better than his work issued thermometer. Yuck. I just realized none of this is sanitary.

Oh and it has this clipper on the end that Aaron pinches me with. Help!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Jobs and apartments. I have to look for both!

Unfortunately, when we moved into our apartment it had already been leased for August, so we didn't have the option of staying or going. Although the management company said they would ask if the people who want this apartment may be willing to take another in the building, they have yet to make good on that offer and haven't really responded to any of our messages (we also asked where we could move in the building and how much rent will increase for next year). They also haven't responded to our request that the horrible clog in the bathtub be fixed and luckily we have found a way around it (don't turn the water on very much). BUT anyway, unresponsive landlords are my least favorite thing and the parking situation here is not ideal.

Also, there is no air conditioning and Aaron hates washing dishes by hand, so it looks like we will be moving. A week after our wedding. Can you sense my excitement?

The real problem is Madison is full of a lot of college students and cheaper places get rented super early. We are finding nice places that we can still reserve for August, but its not top choice right now. The apartments we have seen so far are a bit too expensive. They fit the budget, but they aren't conducive to saving money to buy a house/condo in the near future. Especially if one of us is unemployed. Which brings me to the job search!

I have been applying to an average of one job per day, but haven't gotten many responses. So far, I had one interview on Monday and will have another next week. I am hoping to find a job that I actually enjoy, or at least with a company I can feel proud to work for, or somewhere I can walk to (meaning I am not applying to mall jobs... even if Potbelly's is hiring). Wish me luck on my search!

Another search is for perfect hamburger buns. Maybe you don't notice because you are too busy enjoy that juicy cow burger, but store bought buns really suck. They are either too soft, too processed, too expensive, flavorless etc. Lucky for me, my friend Jacqi sent me this recipe for great hamburger buns. Its not a ton of work once you get the hang of it and they are sooo good.

But I have to warn you, the buns get huge and you should definitely make more than 8. Probably 10-12 is more realistic. Obviously I didn't learn my lesson last time and ended up with huge buns, but don't do that.

Hi, I'm the dough that has come to take over your kitchen. In only one hour I have tripled in size and I'm going to keep growing!

And don't even get me started on these guys.... in 15 minutes I looked at them and they had basically doubled. By 45 minutes they had grown into each other and I had to separate the naughty buns.

(Notice the sad state of my cookie sheet. It was actually clean when this picture was taken. If you are trying to figure out what to get me for a birthday/bridal shower/wedding gift....)

Eat me. These were perfect for dinner with veggie burgers (made with baked beans... Aaron was really upset when he realized the baked beans were going into the burgers and not onto his plate). Also, fry an egg and make a breakfast sandwich with some spinach. Or if you are me you could eat this sandwich any time of day YUM.