Thursday, May 26, 2011

Challenge Phase 2

This week marks the start of Challenge Phase 2 on the elimination diet, which is when you add all of the food that a lot of people have issues with: gluten, dairy, yeast, eggs and corn. You are supposed to space it out for as long as possible, adding one item and then waiting 14 days before adding another. But I'm a little impatient to get some eggs and bread, so I'm going to do 1 week increments.

Yay, I get to add wheat! But without egg, dairy, or yeast. So what to add? My answer was tortillas, bulgur, and barley.

Bulgur and barley are two things I have never cooked and rarely eaten, so I searched out some recipes to try.
From Cates World Kitchen. Very tasty, although we definitely had to cook our bulgur on the stove.

From Cooking Lessons. A great way to use in season asparagus and try something healthier than arborio rice. I thought it was chewy and gross, Aaron liked it.

Unfortunately, while the food has been delicious, the results have been mixed. I've felt more tired and had a headache every day this week. It could be weather related, but my digestion also hasn't been top notch. I don't plan on cutting gluten from my diet at this point, but I do plan on limiting it a little bit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The FMIL comes to Madison

FMIL stands for future mother in law. Over this past weekend, Aaron's mom came to visit and help us address our wedding invitations. Unfortunately, we didn't take a camera anywhere with us, but we did do a lot of stuff. We mostly took her to places we had been before, but the few others I'll talk about here.

Friday night the weather was beautiful, so we made our first real visit to the Memorial Union. The patio overlooks Lake Mendota and its a great place to hang out and drink beer. It was packed, but we snagged a table and got some Spotted Cow. We were having a really good time, the music was just starting, and we could have stayed forever, but the food leaves something to be desired on a limited diet, so we had to leave for dinner.

On Saturday, I took Aaron's mom to the farmer's market while Aaron went to work. After missing a week or two of the market due to traveling, I was impressed by how much it has grown. There were a lot more vendors and vegetables available. We got some great stuff, like honeycomb, morel mushrooms, and baby beets. We also got the beautiful flowers in these pictures.

We finished addressing our invitations on Saturday and they were in the mail for Monday pickup. If you don't get one in a few days, you're probably not invited!

On Sunday, we went out for breakfast at the Sunroom Cafe, a new place for me. Aaron and his dad ate there when they came to Madison to find us an apartment. We went mostly because they offer tofu as a breakfast option. It was a really cute place with great service and we got a seat by the window overlooking State Street. Unfortunately for me, what I thought was just a tofu and bean breakfast burrito turned out to have a lot of peppers, tomatoes, and spices in it. I picked the vegetables out, but I still spent Sunday evening feeling pretty crappy.

The weather was great all weekend and we even had a resident dishwasher for a few days. Aaron is not happy to get his job back!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Congratulations Megan and James!

My friend Megan married her long-time boyfriend James on Saturday and Aaron and I were lucky enough to go to Michigan for it. Megan and I have been friends since middle school and she is one of my bridesmaids. When we lived in Farmington Hills, we were able to hang out with both her and James quite a bit, so we have missed them since moving.

Megan and James wrote their own vows, which made everyone cry. They were so wonderful it is making me reconsider doing so for our wedding.

They had to pose a while for the camera to actually take a picture.

This picture is kind of a mess, but its the only one we have so deal!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strawberry Edamame Salad

While I would love to write a long post about the past few days and what a great weekend Aaron and I had, our trip ended with a flat tire and a little stress, so you'll have to settle with this sort post about a salad I made to test out strawberries.

This past week I added strawberries to my diet. Luckily, they were on sale at Whole Foods and they are super sweet and delicious ones. To use those in a meal and also to use up some of our growing basil plant, I made the awesome Strawberry and Edamame Salad.

This may seem like a strange combo, but it was great. I had to make some changes (no jalepeno!) to make it elimination diet approved. I had it over quinoa for dinner and it was a great dinner, because when I made this it was close to 90 degrees in Madison and super humid!

Here's how you make my version:

1.5 heaping cups of shelled edamame
1.5 heaping cups of sliced strawberries
about half of a red onion, diced
as much basil as you can tear off your little plant (should be 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
juice from 1 lime
dash of salt and pepper

Mix it all together and eat!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Planting Herbs

How to plant your herbs:

Get them out of your trunk! Notice the nice mud pit next to Aaron that we often had to park in. You may be surprised to know that we paid $120 per month for each of the two "parking" spots. You may not be surprised to know that we have found better parking for less money and no longer park here.

Fill the pots you got at Target 3/4 of the way up with organic soil.

Break up the root ball of the plant and shove it into your pot!

Smile about it.

Fill up the rest of the pots and put your plants on your handy, dandy window shelf/radiator.

P.S. I took these pictures like 3 weeks ago and the mint is already out of control. It doesn't need miracle grow.

P.S.S. We also bought an "earth option" bug killer to avoid some gross situations.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Wisconsin Dells

Last Friday Aaron started texting me in the afternoon. They went something like this:

Aaron: Do you want to go to a water park with my coworker tonight and tomorrow?
Me: uhhh how much does it cost?
Aaron: $$$ much
Me: What am I going to eat for dinner?

You can see where my priorities lie.

Anyway, we did decide to go and it was a great little last minute getaway. Of course, we were talking about an indoor water park in none other than the famous Wisconsin Dells. If you have never heard of the Dells, click that link please. It is a strange place filled with indoor water parks and touristy traps (can you say outlet malls and chain restaurants galore?). And trust me, it did not disappoint with strangeness. There were a lot of people from Illinois and a lot of children.

After a scenic hour long drive through farmland that smelled like cow shit, we arrived at The Wilderness Resort. They have three indoor water parks! Apparently Friday nights aren't popular and we got a great room for the same price of every other normal room. Here are some crappy pictures I took of our huge hotel room complete with fireplace, kitchen, dining area, and jacuzzi tub.

For being a tourist trap, the water parks were really fun. They have multiple slides that are exciting to people above the age of 10.

The best ride for sure was The Hurricane. Riding in a four person tube, you slide down a dark tunnel with lightening, etc and you can't see anything until you go down a steep steep drop into a half-pipe. Here it is from the outside, taken from our hotel room:

I screamed, a lot.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wedding Planning: Hair

A time is coming up... very quickly... where I need to decide on some sort of wedding hair style so I can can have my hair/makeup trials before my final dress fitting. This is sort-of kind-of exactly similar to the shoe situation. Something I put very little thought or care into and then am forced to form an opinion and make a decision quickly!

Yay for the internet for providing an unlimited supply of wedding hair pictures for me to look at.

Although I love low ponytails and curls, the reality of the end of July is that it will probably be hot and most likely humid. To avoid sweaty hair, a total up-do is probably my best option.

What I would really prefer is a stylist who could look at me, consider the weather, and then decide on something that would make me look great. Unfortunately, this probably won't happen when I walk into the Idun Salon, so I need to come prepared.

Here are some examples that I like a little bit. I am leaning toward something like the first and last one, I have a headband, so I think that would work with the first style. Also I have only spent approximately a half hour looking at pictures, so any suggestions are helpful. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mifflin St. Block Party

This past Saturday was the infamous Mifflin St. Block Party here in Madison. The weather forecasted rain and thunderstorms, but it turned out to be a warm sunny-ish day, which encouraged more people to come out and go crazy.

Aaron and one of his co-workers.

Aaron and I had to check it out because we live a couple blocks away. We heard the party was sponsored this year, so beer would be available to purchase. Most people definitely brought their own beverages, but since I have been conditioned by Chicago street fairs, we were ok paying $3 for PBR.
Not my beer of choice... but I'm just happy its sunny out.

But this was not, by any means, a street fair. It was just a ton of supremely drunk people have a good time. There was a band playing in the middle of the street and we danced a little bit, but mostly we engaged in high-quality people watching.

Here is a video so you can get a feel for the atmosphere. WARNING: Not safe for work and not safe for kids (no nudity, just swear words).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Restaurant: Ocean Grill

Friday was a day to celebrate. William and Kate finally tied the knot after 8 some years of dating. It also just happened to be Aaron's birthday. He is not happy about sharing his birthday with them for the rest of his life. I told him to stop crying, I have had to share my birthday with Ruth since I was born.

Anyway, for dinner Aaron chose to go to Ocean Grill, which as you can guess is a seafood restaurant. It is also part of the Food Fight Restaurant group that Fresco, the place we went to for our anniversary, also belongs to.

Aaron and his dad went to Ocean Grill when they came to Madison to find an apartment. It was during restaurant week and they had lunch, so Aaron wanted to check it out for dinner.

Overall, the ambience and decorations were really nice, although a little tight. For an appetizer, we shared the calamari with peanut sauce. This was super delicious, but I couldn't eat much of the sauce because there was definitely some spice to it. It is the first time either of us have seen calamari paired with peanut sauce and we liked it.

The wine list wasn't too impressive, so we decided to try some of their specialty cocktails. Aaron had an ocean margarita, which they normally make with well tequila. Major faux pas. I'm not really interested in an 8 dollar margarita where they didn't choose a tequila to compliment the drink. Anyway, Aaron ordered it with Patron. I had their mango tango martini with mango vodka, limoncello, and pineapple juice. Both drinks were good, but very strong. One is definitely enough.

For entrees, they had some tempting specials, but we both opted for choices from the regular menu. Aaron had a bacon wrapped filet with gorgonzola sauce and I had a pepper-encrusted tuna steak. I wasn't expecting much from my meal and mostly chose it because it fit into my diet requirements, but it was outstanding. The tuna was extremely fresh, perfectly seared and flavorful. Aaron's meal was excellent as well.

For dessert, Aaron had vanilla creme brulee and I had lychee sorbet. Yum! Unfortunately, the service at Ocean Grill is kind-of lacking and does not match the quality of the food. We may come here sometime for a couple small plates at the bar, but I don't think we will be back for dinner.

After dessert, we enjoyed the nice weather by going to a bonfire and drinking our required Oberon for the year. Overall, a great night and happy 25th birthday for Aaron!