Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Old Faithful

After a few more 'episodes', Nate and I decided it was time to take Lucy to the vet and get a professional opinion on whether our cat is going crazy or not.

Lucy=not a fan of the car. Which of course means a very long car ride (especially because we randomly have a vet in EXCELSIOR...), and a very ornery cat when we get to the vet.
Well, last night we had a new vet (who was amazing...much better than our last one that wanted to put Lucy under so she could clean her teeth..) and HE didn't believe Lucy was that old. He kept making statements like "She is living on borrowed time," "MAN, she has had a good run" and so on. I left confused as to if he was saying those things because she is sick and going to die soon or he was just so impressed with what her condition is.

The vet did bloodwork and we could hear Lucy crying behind the door. He came back in, looking quite surprised, and informed us that Lucy has some 'fight left in her, as she tried to get away from the needle.'

So turns out Lucy has...ANEMIA (what?!?). I am not kidding you when I say the vet looked completely shocked that it wasn't kidney disease. I am pretty sure he was already working on his "Your cat has kidney disease, here is the timetable" speech. So apparently Lucy is switching to the good life with wet food, and we'll see what happens from there.

Lucy lives...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cooking Machine

A weekend of no plans brought Nate and I lots and lots of time to do some good old fashioned home-cooking.
Now, the benefits of having your own garden is that you can wake up on a Saturday morning, and think: "Wouldn't it be great to have a fresh green bean and tomato frittata for brunch this morning"....and actually make it happen without a trip to the grocery store.

We also broke out last year's cookbook of choice Great Food Fast and made some lemon-glazed cupcakes. Topped them off with some fresh berries and we were all set for a perfect summery dessert that required zero ingrediants that weren't hanging out in our fridge or cupboard.

Then we decided to top of our weekend of delicious summer-y food with a recipe from my favorite cooking blog Smitten Kitchen. I remembered this recipe from a few weeks back and made sure to grab some zucchini and summer squash at the farmers market so we could try it. Our pictures do this zero justice compared to the SK blog..but hey we tried.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Weekend For Us

After many weekends with plans, parties,travel and more, Nate and I were happy to have a weekend just for the two of us. It was perfectly timed as we both had stressful weeks at work, among other things.

But that is why Nate and I are such a great team. I feel that we are so attuned to what the other person is going through and needs and we can provide that for each other. Adversity should think twice before knocking on our door because we will pretty much kick it into the next county. Well that might be a little presumptious, but on the whole I would say whatever life throws at us generally makes Nate and I much stronger as a couple.

Anyway, I digress.

Friday night we walked to a new drive-in that just went up (ironic I know) and had a great time day-dreaming about the manager hiring us on as consultants as to how to service the massive crowd of people better. I'm not kidding you when I tell you we waited about 45 minutes for a corn dog and hamburger that was a tier below Culvers. I realize that you don't go to this place for gourmet food, but then they can't take 8 years to get it out to you. It's either fast and mediocre or long and gourmet.

Saturday brought re-entry to THE FIRM for Nate and I after a few months off due to my bum leg and Nate's training. Unfortunately, the high-impact of Doug has to wait until my leg is better but we did get our ASSES KICKED by Snype during Muscle Conditioning. It is pretty painful today. Nate and I have been paper, rock, scissoring for who has to drive. THAT is how bad both of our arms hurt.

We also downloaded old school Mario Brothers 3 and BUBBLE BOBBLE onto the Wii last night and went to town. I thought of Luke and Paul the entire time because we always played Bubble Bobble when we were at their house. Becca--you are going to freak when you see it. It is exactly the same.

And today has been a blend of errands, soaking in the sun at the pool, tuning up a bike that Nate is building for me (and/or any guests that may want to ride when they visit), laundry, cooking and hanging outside.

This was our kind of summer weekend.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nigella Express: Episode 17

Nate and I were flipping through Nigella last night and decided with all this talk of book club we should definitely give Nigella's Green Eggs and Ham recipe a whirl.

(As a side note, I must mention that Nate also had his FIRST book club meeting this week. It is a dude book club. I can't even imagine how different it probably is from ours. Oh to be a fly on the wall...)

Back to the food...I guess I never even took the time to think about what would make the eggs green. Turns out pesto is a great option.

To be fair this recipe should probably be names Green Crepe and Ham because as Nate pointed out there is more flour than egg but then it just wouldn't be that creative of a name now would it.
I thought they were delicious. Nate wasn't super keen on them UNTIL he tried one with warm ham. I tried to warn him that it seemed weird to eat it with cold ham...
And then he got snotty and one-upped me with an addition of swiss cheese, with the warm ham and green eggs. And I must admit it was pretty much incredible.
Another win for Nigella.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Club After-Glow

I had book club last night, and I am still feeling the after-glow of book club love today.

One of the members is pregnant (and quite possible the most ridiculously adorable pregnant person ever) and we had a little baby-shower for her complete with Thai food, key-lime pie and a favorite children's book from each of the other members.

I have been meeting with these women every month, for the last four and a half years to discuss books, and life. The longer we are tied together through books, our own stories seem to be woven together.

I looked around the table last night and felt so blessed to have found an amazing group of women and friends. We are a unique group of women who all share different experiences. But when we come together there is an ease and comfort about our gathering. Over the years we have celebrated together, and have helped each other through difficult times. We are not a group of girls that were all best friends from high school that started to read the same book. We are a group of women that have been brought together by books. But it isn't just books that connect us anymore.

I always leave book club with a huge smile on my face, and a smile in my heart. I imagine us growing old (it's true ladies..we will live past 2012, and eventually be old one day) still reading books, talking about our lives and kids, still gathering monthly and still enjoying each other's company in a way that a group of women connected through a book club only can.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To all my iphone lovers

The longer I have my iPhone the more I love it.

Over the last year and a half I have accumulated a good amount of applications (apps..for those who aren't up on the lingo). But it has only been of recent that I am finding my way through the app store and uncovering hidden treasures.

I just downloaded Lyrics+. This app takes any song that is currently playing on your phone/i-pod portion of your phone and overlays the lyrics on your screen so you can sing along, prove you know the lyrics, etc. I am actually losing sleep at night because I am so obsessed with listening to all of my songs with the lyrics.

Barnes and Noble has a new app, and I'm not sure if I am actually impressed with the app itself or that there was a free coupon for a starbucks coffee, and you just had to go into a store and show the starbucks employee your screen and poof! free coffee. Brilliant.

Tic Tac Toe--a childhood favorite game of many people. Quite possible the most simplistic app and yet I am fixated on if I apply the same strategy of playing can I beat the computer every time. So far the answer is no...but I'm pretty sure I will crack the code.

I am thinking Costco needs an app, and maybe I should be the person to develop it for them. It would be all about the true cost savings, and you could compare their prices vs. your local grocer, Wal-mart, etc so you can see if you really are saving. Plus they could feature a ridiculous deal of the week or something. You heard it here first people.

Monday, July 20, 2009

An Introduction to Minneapolis

Nate and I were SO excited to host Meghan in Minneapolis this weekend. It was so much fun to have a familiar face in town as I have recently been so homesick for my family lately. This was exactly what the doctor ordered!

Friday night, I had all of my Big G work friends over for a BBQ and game night. ALL of my friends from work said they thought Meghan was super cool and loved how she just folded into the group like she had always been friends with them. I love when my friends and family combine. It is one of my favorite things in the whole world.

Know what else is one of my favorite things? Hamburger cake.

Oh yeah--four layers of Vanilla and chocolate cake goodness with buttercream frosting ketchup, lettuce and cheese. It really doesn't get much better than this. Bet you all wish you were at my house last Friday...

PLUS, I tried my hand at some homemade Sangria..and I'm not going to lie. The homemade sangria literally took a little of my hand from all of the chopping of fruit. I thought the cutting would never end. But it did, and it was worth it. The red sangria packed a secret punch (i.e. Vodka) and the white was a plum nectarine sangria that pretty much tasted like heaven in a cup.

Once the wine was free flowing, we got the grill heated up and games going. It was a night full of fun, friends, family and some serious laughing.
We even broke out the record player and got MJ rocking...we also gave MJ a beer.

Saturday Meghan took me on an uber shopping spree to Anthropolgie and I got hooked up with a pretty sweet new wardrobe for fall (although Meg gave me great pointers on how to extend it into summer and even savvy that girl is).
We took her to our standby favorite place to eat, Solera. And then she made me realize how old I am by continuing to go out after for some drinks. It's true...I am old. I cannot go out 2 nights on the weekend, or else I turn into a pumpkin.
We showed her our favorite way to see Minneapolis---via bike. Nate was pretty stoked to get the third bike "Frankenbike" geared up for Meghan to ride. They had a bonding period but Meghan was an expert biker by the end of our tour de ridiculous homes on Lake of the Isles.

And, probably the person most happy to see Meghan was Lucy. There was an immediate bond, and Meghan learned the paws on the couch trick. Have you ever seen a person look so excited to have a cat in her lap? Seriously, this is why we heart Meghan.
It was a great weekend, and I am hoping Meghan gets a job offer up here so that we have a little bit of the Ekern clan up in Minneapolis. So...if anyone knows an agency that needs a great copywriter...let me know and maybe I can get you an interview with Meghan.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nigella Express: Episode 16

Sweet sweet heavenly dessert. Why did we wait so long to make you? Maybe it was your weird name, or the blobular picture that I continued to pass by.

Either way, Eton Mess is my new favorite go-to summer dessert. How could it not be it is made up of my all-time favorite things:

Strawberries, Meringue's, and whipping cream. Seriously...that's it.
It is quite possibly the easiest dessert to make too.
Step 1: Cut up strawberries, steep them in a splash of POM juice and sugar.
Step 2: Make your home-made whip cream
Step 3: Crush up store-bought meringues.
Step 3 would clearly be optional for my mother who makes the most ridiculous meringes, but for the rest of bought does the trick.
Nate and I are pulling this dessert out again for a BBQ we are hosting tomorrow night...that is how good it is. Twice in one week.
Nigella for the win.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some Kind of Tough and Some Kind of Nasty

Saturday night took us back to our small-town roots when we attended the local Hamel rodeo. It's pretty shocking how different things can be just 12 short miles outside of our cozy little suburb. Good-bye J. Crew, hello bedazzler.

We pulled up to a lot filled with American made cars, horses, cowboys with big old buckles, and an announcer who had enough one-liners to keep my blog fresh for another year (see blog title). All of the girls got into it with an assortment of plaids, and one cowboy hat. Katie gets extra bonus points for parking her Lexus at home and driving up in Ryan's Dodge pick-up.

Now, never mind that the old man who sang the National anthem with a brilliant country twang forgot the lyrics half-way through, or the fact that there was actually no cotton candy even though Marie promised it...this was the event for the ages. In fact, it was THE biggest rodeo in MN. It took my right back to my childhood cheering for Uncle Arthur doing his calf-penning.

The biggest event of the night, as billed by the announcer, was the Kiesner Family Rodeo. In fact, the crowd was pre-warned by about 5 minutes to get our cameras ready. This is what shows up:

Now I don't want to dog on the Kiesners because they are out there making a good honest living, but we are talking about a kid twirling a little gun shooting at balloons, and some tricky lasso moves that I am pretty sure Ryan could master if he tried for like 2 days.

The REAL event of the night was when a bucking bronco of a horse had a little to much giddyap in its step and got its hooves stuck in the fence, and bent the fence in HALF right into the crowd. I was too busy screaming for the horse (or maybe somethign along the lines of "Don't break your leg...") to realize it had busted right through into the crowd. The announcer recovered brilliantly by saying "And the two ladies in the front row didn't even spill their beer..Let's give it up!"

They tried to diversify the music for the city folk. We went from "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" straight into "Yeah by Usher." It really couldn't have gotten any better. It was the best of both worlds.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Husband the Triathlete

Nate completed his first triathlon yesterday and words cannot describe how proud I am of him.

He KILLED it. He crossed the finish line after a .9 mile swim, 24 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run in under 3 hours.

The day could not have been more beautiful, which was a good thing because we left the house at 5:15AM and didn't get back until noon. Nate seemed more excited/anxious than nervous as we were driving, which amazes me in and of itself given how nervous I get. Here is the triathlete pre race:
A few short hours later, Nate was running through this shoot, having completed his run and making his way to the transition area to get his bike. Coming off the beach, he looked so strong. His swim went amazing, almost 8 minutes better than what he was thinking.

Next up: Bike. Nate was most confident about this leg of the race given all of his bike commuting and training rides. And he zipped right through his 24 miles. We caught him at the VERY end of the bike right where they were dismounting the bikes.
And then there was the run. 6.2 miles. TWICE around Lake Nokomis. Talk about a mental feat. Knowing you have to do the whole thing again after finishing it the first time...ugh. Not my idea of fun at all, but when I saw Nate on Lap 1 he looked like he had his 'cruise control' on and still had a big smile for me!

I had some help cheering from the Schuster fam! I loved watching everyone else cheer too. The kids cheering for their parents get me every time..

Post-race: Nate is completely pumped, as he should have been. He got hooked up with a post-race massage, some good treats, a beer and he was all set. I predict many more triathlons in Nate's future, maybe (dare I say) even an Iron Man someday. And I know he could do it. After watching him do his marathon last year, and then his first triathlon this year, I know he can do anything he wants to. Can't wait to see what's next...I'll be there cheering with all my heart!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tag: Crazy Eights

Emily has posted another great game of blog tag: Crazy 8's.

And so I present to you my list of 8's.

Things I'm looking forward to:
The rodeo with friends tonight.
An epiphany on which car to buy.
Seeing Finn, Becca and Nick after over two long months apart,
and giving Finn loads of hugs and kisses (and one annoying toy).
Getting the full greenlight from my doctor to hit the pavement again,
and walking through the doors of the FIRM.
Our anniversary trip to California, and
numerous more years of a blissful marriage.

Things I did yesterday:

Went for my sanctioned 2.5 mile walk.
Swore at work.
Tested my willpower at happy hour, and passed.
Looked through old pictures.
Made Grilled Tomato Linguine with Nate.
Pulled our first vegetables out of the garden.
Cleaned up a(nother) water spill at 10PM from our water heater.
Turned it in bright and early to rest up for Nate's Triathlon (more later).

Things I wish I could do:
Travel the world and still have a job and home to come back to.
Invent a form of travel that gets me to Chicago or Viroqua in less than 10 minutes.
Stop worrying over things that won't change.
Put time in slow motion during those moments when you think: this is what it is all about.
Have one more day with my grandparents.
Feel carefree.
Have a redo of one year of college.
Make homemade meringues the way my Mom does.

Things I will never do:
Drink goat's blood.
Quit loving my family or friends.
Get a pet spider, or snake.
Get a tattoo.
Buy Kelloggs :) ....(Rachel and Amy.....)
Stop worrying. I'm pretty sure I'm just hardwired this way.
Stop believing in myself.

Now, YOU are it! Leave your 8s in my comment section OR let me know there that you are going to post them on your blog!

Friday, July 10, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

We have life in the garden. We also have some sort of bug that is eating all of the Kohlrabi, and has already decimated the lettuce.

Otherwise, we are in full garden force. We pulled our first radish tonight. I washed this ONE radish, cut this ONE radish in half, and then Nate and I both shared ONE radish. We were so excited. It was pretty ridiculous since it was barely a taste.

I am hoping that we can at least make one meal out of something in the garden. Cucumbers, Squash, and Beets are still to come...Mmmm.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009


We are on the hunt for a new car.

It is a really frustrating process because we aren't "car" people where we are super concerned with performance, etc.

BUT, we do have a fairly long list, that is semi-contradictory, that we DO want.

We want to get a good deal since let's face it the car dealers are looking to make a sale.

We want it to be safe and reliable so any little ones in the future can be toted around without worry.

We need it to haul a bike.

We want it to be small so as to not be an 'old-person's' sudan.

We want it to have good gas mileage.

And we want leather and heated seats. Is that so much to ask?

We have lucked out with some great salespeople (thank you Toyota) and some real douche-bags (ahem..Saturn and Hyundai). Yeah..I just said that.

Does anyone LOVE their car out there andt hink we should go out and test drive it? Let us know..the sky is the limit right now.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Whole Lot of Nothing

For many people the 4th of July weekend means BBQ's, cabins, and sparklers. Not for Nate and I.

This year we stayed put, and kept a very low profile. The only picture I even have to post of this weekend is Nate and I with disposable Christmas coffee cups on the way to watch fireworks. And I'm not even going to post it.

There were visits to the pool, a bike ride, a 10-second Film Fest, housework, garage cleaning,car test driving, gardening, laundry, reading, essay writing, killer bunnies played and LOTS of cooking.

A ton of cooking. New recipes every night...and only one was Nigella (stay was a winner).

Do I wish we would have packed up shop and road tripped to Kansas City for BBQ like Nate wanted to? Maybe.

But I don't think I would have this ultimate relaxed feeling, with everything in order and done ready to start the week. And we have some big weekends coming up, so one long weekend of anything we want, just Nate and I, was just want we needed!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Nigella Express: Episode 15

Who needs meat? Not us.
Nate and I decided to have a dinner made solely of delicious Nigella side dishes this week. To be fair, I am pretty sure Nate was still starving after this meal since it truly was two side dishes, one of which was entirely made out of a aqueous vegetable.

Yes, this week comprised of Warm Potato Salad....and Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad.

Both were good, and would definitely make good side dishes at a family BBQ. I don't even like Potato Salad, so that is actually a rave review from me. This dish isn't like your typical mayo-ridden salad. You boil the potatoes, and then apply a mustard/vinegar mixture on top, stir in some fresh fried bacon and serve warm. The dressing is super light.

As for the S&S you like pickles? Then you will love this salad. Vinegar, dill, salt, and cucumbers...yum. It is basically a quick pickle dish. And it is making my mouth water thinking about it right now.
I am sure you can all tell Nate was CLEARLY not around for the photography portion of this meal. I got impatient...and it shows. It was much better than it looks...