Monday, November 28, 2011

New Car

To celebrate our four month anniversary, Aaron and I decided to get ourselves a present. But when I sat down to write about it I realized I never mentioned our 3 month anniversary present. I never mentioned it because taking its picture would mean I would have to clean our whole apartment from top to bottom, and thats Aaron's job. Just kidding! But when you live in a 3 room apartment and you get tons of awesome wedding gifts, things tend to clutter a little bit and look crappy in a picture.

Anyway, I know I wrote in some wedding thank you notes that we were saving our money for a couch, and we were lucky enough to have it delivered last month, about a month ahead of schedule (seriously, we ordered it in August and it wasn't scheduled for delivery until around Thanksgiving). We were so excited because 1) all we had to sit on was a futon; 2) neither of us had ever bought a real piece of furniture before. Also it is super comfortable and awesome and the L-shape means we can both lay down at the same time. We also saw it as our first big purchase together. But that didn't last very long.

First of all, we drove home to Michigan in our "lovely" Saturn and when we came back our muffler started making noise. Then winter started to threaten us with all of its wind and wetness and snow.

Most of you know that sometimes it seems like you need a sleigh just to get around in winter. You probably don't know that I really don't enjoy winter mostly because I hate driving in it. The only thing that kept me comfortable going to and from work last December was knowing my car had all-wheel drive. But then we sold my car when we moved here.

And also last December the Saturn got stuck in that little bit of snow that gets left next to the curb when they plow. Luckily Aaron was driving at the time and someone stopped and pushed him out, but basically when I thought of winter all I could think of was being stuck on the side of the road or in a ditch because the Saturn weighed as much as me. Even our combined weight would not keep us on the road.

ANYWAY long story short we decided to buy a new car. We picked our new Subaru Outback up last week and got to spend our 4 month anniversary driving it to Michigan for Thanksgiving. It was a much more enjoyable ride than normal, complete with new car smell and heated seats.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Carrot Ginger Soup

Since the weather has been below freezing every morning for a couple weeks now, I guess its time to admit that fall is ending and winter is coming. To me, that means it is appropriate to have hot soup multiple times a week.

We have made this soup twice and loved it both times. By "we" I mean I put the ingredients on the grocery list and then Aaron made the soup- team effort! Here is the link to the recipe: Carrot Ginger Soup. It says coconut milk optional, but I don't think its optional at all.

Besides being delicious, this is a way for me to consume an orange food without having the starch from pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or regular squash. However, after doing a smoothie fast and then spending a week strictly without starch I'm not sure this will be a sustainable diet for me. I was hungry the whole week and I felt like I was eating wayyy too much animal to make up for the starch and beans I wasn't eating.

While I don't mind having fish once in a while and usually like eggs and cheese a few times a week, more than that has not been sitting well with my conscious or taste buds. I also think not having healthy starches around (like sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables) leads me to eat less healthy starches and more bread (which I did immediately after my self-imposed strict week was over). It might just be a problem of adjusting to a new diet, but I think its time for a new approach.

I will probably try eating those vegetable based starches and not having wheat, corn, rice or beans. I think that will be easier for me and may still have some benefits. For now I'll go worry about my statistics mid-term and resume the quest for the perfect diet after Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


As I face my second round of midterms (starting tomorrow morning!), I'm reminded of the importance of confidence. For someone who found college to be somewhat easy and only sorta time consuming, this first semester of graduate school has been rough. I've never been the type of person who started their homework on the day it was assigned or spent days studying for one exam, but it seems necessary just to keep up. (Also the thought of having four classes next semester instead of three, while continuing to work, is slightly horrifying, but thats beside the point of this post.)

I'm sure I'm not the only person in my program who has wondered if I'm smart enough for grad school. At that point (like when they are handing back a test where the average score was close to 50%) our professors like to remind us that we would not have been admitted if the admissions committee wasn't confident in our ability to succeed. I try to keep this in mind and I find that the confidence boost does help me study a little bit longer, or just put down the computer and enjoy a few hours relaxing.

... and then I struggle to write a paper that is beyond what I would call high school level words because it seems my writing skills stuck around for me to get a Bachelors degree and then called it quits. Then I start to question the admissions committee decision. So then I have to rely on my backup confidence booster, which is to tell myself that also getting a fellowship means they thought I was more than just capable of passing, but also of doing really well.

(Which gets me through finishing a paper, but I'm wondering what will get me through finals? The promise of winter break?)

I always knew confidence was important but until now I thought of it more for little kids. That "you can do it, believe in yourself" encouragement that they have to learn to get through learning how to walk, running a mile in gym class, and standing up for themselves. I guess I had internalized it and forgot about it, but good to know that long ago learned confidence is still there and capable of propelling me a little bit further towards completing something.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I am a scone lover, but my standards for scones are set pretty high. First of all, I do not want it to be soft and pillowy at all. If I wanted a muffin or cake, I would eat a muffin or cake! The most disappointing thing to me is biting into a scone and realizing its just a blob shaped muffin.

I want a scone that has a thick, crunchy outside and the correct crumb to buttery ratio on the inside. I also don't want it to be super sweet. The icing on the top can be sweet-ish, but the actual scone should not be noticeably sweet at all.

As you can see, my feelings on scones are strong and I am often disappointed. Luckily, we seem to have hit the apartment jackpot, since we live less than a block away from some of the best scones I've ever had. Lazy Jane's Cafe and Bakery is a popular breakfast spot where people are always waiting outside for weekend brunch. Their breakfast is pretty good and cheap, and since we live so close we can usually get there before the rush, but we know the real treasure is the scones.

They probably know that too because they opened a little storefront bakery two houses down from the Cafe so you can buy baked goods without waiting in line. We stopped in on a recent Saturday morning and there were no scones left! Luckily a batch was coming out in ten minutes, so we waited, sampled some drinks, and then were rewarded with fresh from the oven raspberry scones. Worth the wait (and I also caught a glimpse of the large bowl full of butter chilling in the fridge... its what makes them delicious... its also why I don't make them at home).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Drink of the Week: Satisfaction Jackson, a double IPA from Ale Asylum

I haven't had a drink of the week post in a while. Luckily this one should more than make up for it.

Satisfaction Jackson comes from, Ale Asylum which is a Madison brewery that dominates the local IPA market with their Hopalicious. Neither of us are huge fans of Hopalicious, but really enjoy their other beer.

We first read about Satisfaction Jackson on our first trip to the Ale Asylum brewery. It wasn't available yet, but we made sure to come back when it was to have it on tap. Delicious. The waitress told us they release it and have it until its gone. We are still able to get six packs of it, but have only had it on tap at a few other places (served in a goblet, lame).

We also took a tour of their brewing facilities, which are packed to the brim with only one bottling line. They are planning a move to a bigger place soon.

Satisfaction Jackson is a double IPA, which means its strong, bitter, and pretty bold. It is also a little more pricey. Its definitely not for everyone, but thats okay because it means there's more for us!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last Outdoor Farmer's Market for 2011

Saturday was the last outdoor farmer's market for this year, marked by the crisp air and extremely low prices on squash. We marked it by stocking up on our favorite jam, finally buying some smoked trout, and getting a pound of cheese curds.

It was a perfectly sunny morning and less crowded than usual, which makes it easier to navigate. Still, after 3 sides we made a beeline for my favorite cheese stand, Hook's, and called it quits. Its sad to know we'll have to wait until April for the next outdoor market, which at that time will be almost all cheese and bread. I'm not ready for winter! Although hopefully we will have some exciting news this week that will make me more ready... stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Almond Butter Stir-Fry Sauce

While you wouldn't know it from my past few posts (pizza... mac and cheese...) I have been making a lot of progress on my no-starch diet. Unfortunately, I fell of the bandwagon a few times this weekend, but in general the only starch I have been eating is flour, usually in the form of one piece of spelt toast a day (its supposed to be easier to digest, but it doesn't taste great).

Its been hard to give up the bread, because it settles my stomach. I recently had a cold which gives me an upset stomach from all of the congestion going on. I'm finally feeling much better, so I'm optimistic about being able to thrive on fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish and nuts.

After trying to expel nightshade vegetables from my diet, I found that most bottled sauces and dressings are off limits because they contain the vague word "spices." Not knowing whether that meant paprika, or red pepper, etc, I avoided them like the plague (and well they probably aren't that great for you anyway). I now know I can tolerate small amounts of nightshade vegetables, probably because the chemicals aren't built up in my body, but I'm still pretty strict.
Luckily, we found some recipes for homemade sauces that are perfect for a stir fry, and this is one of them: Thai No Peanut Sauce. We've made it multiple times since first trying it, usually with veggies and shrimp.

The ingredients are pretty basic, especially if you are used to cooking Asian-ish dishes.

1/2 cup almond butter (really good with peanut butter too, if you can eat that)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup applesauce
Juice from half a lime
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1.5 tsp fresh ginger (you could probably substitute powdered)
1 clove garlic, crushed

Just mix it all together and put it on whatever you want! Its a thick sauce that is good for dipping as well. The website has other serving suggestions. If you're anything like Aaron and me, you'll be scraping down the bowl to get every drop.