Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cooking Light: Episode 7

This week's recipe was not exactly light. I blame our cut of meat...but the first bite I got was gristle and anyone who knows me KNOWS that once I get gristle it is all over for me. And lord knows I am not touching the leftovers that have a film of fat on the top of it.

So Nate is enjoying an abundance of leftovers this week of Classic Beef Pot Roast.

My Mom is probably doing a triple take looking at this picture because growing up Stew ranked right up there with Goulash and Mozzarella Meat Pie as a food I stored in my cheek rather than actually consume. Yeah..it was gross. I was a gross kid.

Moving on...Nate and I decided that there just wasn't anything super good about this that would get us to make this recipe rather than the tried and true pot roast recipe.

Anyway...we were luke warm on this one. Definitely not a repeater.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I have a problem. It comes in the combination of two of my favorite things: the internet and coupons.

Enter Groupon, Living Social, CrowdCut, and DealStork.

The basic premise of all of these sites is: we give you ridiculously good deals on restaurants, massages, etc but only offer it for purchase for a limited time (24 hours).

I have already bought into 3 deals. One for a new Indian place in town (I paid $25 for $50), an 80-minute facial (I paid $45 for a $97 value), and one for a restaurant in Uptown (again $25 for $50).

I don't know what it is about these deals that make me purchase impulsively. Perhaps it is the scarcity effect and that I only have 1 day to decide if I want the deal so I better act now. OR, it could be the deal itself. Who doesn't love 50% off. I still haven't actually REDEEMED any of these deals...clearly a very important part of actually realizing the cost savings, but I plan to very soon.

Also of recent obsession are similarly structured clothes and travel deals. My daily route includes Rue-La-La, Luxury Link, Jet Setter, The Fairest, and Steep and Cheap. From designer duds, to sports gear, these sites offer goods for a severely discounted price.

Last year, Nate and I bought our anniversary trip from Luxury link and it was a KILLER deal and great place. We actually just booked our next anniversary trip through Luxury Link as well, and are just getting the final details worked out.

The moral of this story, or I guess post is more appropriate, is that the internet rocks my world. I can't pass up a good deal. And, I hope sharing all of these links help you get a good deal too. Oh...and some of these sites require an 'invitation' so if you are interested, let me know and I'll hook it up.

Happy deal hunting!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Excited for Nothing

No literally...I am so excited for nothing. Nothing.

As in this weekend we have nothing planned. I have no school work (although Nate does). Work work is under control. I am even excited to not have plans that are actually fun.

There is going to be some workouts, some basketball, a regular good old-fashioned date day for Nate and I and general relaxation.

The only thing I have 'scheduled' is a massage tomorrow...I know...tough life right?

We are going to soak it up this weekend because the next 6 weekends are totally booked (with mostly fun stuff, but still booked)! So if you need us, we will be in an utter state of relaxation and bliss.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


You may remember last month that I had my first 'going out after school experience..".

Well...enter in last night where I had my first ever skip out of class early to go to the greatest concert on earth experience.

So one of the Director's I work with secured the executive suite for the Black Eyed Peas concert and I got a free ticket. Which was amazing in and of itself. (Side note: I originally turned this offer DOWN because I had class, and then Nate talked some serious sense into me and told me to skip my stupid class and go..).

But then I get to the concert and LUDACRIS is opening...and he played every single song from college that I love: Move Bitch, Area Codes, Money Maker, You's a Hoe...I know really classy stuff right? But don't knock it until you've heard it. And him...because he was amazing.

Then BEP came out and KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK. I thought for sure Fergie was lip synching because she was so good...but no girl can lip sync that dead on for 2.5 hours. Plus she can seriously rock a glittery, spandex jumpsuit.

I'm not going to lie...it was a little awkward sitting in a corporate suite with my co-workers getting down to some of Luda's music but mostly because every time I kept looking back they all looked like they had just heard their first swear word. And it only got worse when the cameraman panned in on this fly girls giant booty shaking dance on stage for like 3 minutes.

But that's why they call it team-building right?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jerry's Kids

Ahh...Jerry's Kids. A drinking game for this history books, and one that is sure to inspire a good time whenever it is played. It is always sure to inspire sassiness, headaches and the occasional hugging of the toilet.

Enter Friday night...where 6 girls with a whole lot to celebrate (3 engagements and 1 going away) and pre-set intentions to spend the night and get our drink on in elastic pants, and an email from Katie at 4:30 PM entitled: "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry...". You get the picture. 

So the night started innocently with our celebrations:

And then progressed to this....

The quick 411 on Jerry's Kids is that it is a fast paced drinking game, typically played with beer that involves 2 dice, 3 shot glasses, pairs and a whole lot of drinking. Now being the high maintenance girls we are, some of us drank beer, others of us drank a disgusting lemonade vodka, and the true champ of us downed champagne.

Champagne. 3 shots at a time. Until the whole bottle was gone. In about 20 minutes. Yikes. And to the victor go the spoils:

What sometimes gets confusing when you play Jerry's Kids is who the winner and the loser is. Is the winner the person that drink the most or drinks the least? Well you tell me...does this look like the face of  a winner?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Listmania: Corporate Jargon

As I sat in a meeting at work today, I realized how how ridiculous some of the conversations we have on a daily basis are. They are just littered with jargon that basically means anything BUT what it says. And so I present my Top 5 words that if eliminated from conversation at my workplace would render most people speechless (**including myself....I am not safe from a jargon free vocabulary.)

1) Leverage: We leverage everything at work. Partnerships, phone calls, contracts, email, voice mail, coupons, bosses, snacks, etc. You get the point. I deem this word the absolutely most over-used word. Isn't this just a fancy way of saying "use?" Or a nicer way of saying "Take advantage of"?

2) Circle-Back: This phrase is usually stated when you ask someone a question and that person has absolutely no clue how to answer. Which of course lends itself to,  "I'm going to check on a 'few things' (i.e. ask someone who actually knows) and circle-back with you on this question."

3) "Wanted to Check-in": this is the classic opener to any email where you have clearly NOT received a response on something, but instead of saying just that, us MN nice people soften it with "I just wanted to check-in..." when in reality you want to say "Why the hell has it taken so long for you to get to this.." or "You better make sure you get this on time and here is my gentler-than-necessary nudge"

4) Take This Offline: This a multi-faceted phrase that can be used by an employee who needs to contradict their boss and doesn't want to do it in front of everyone in the meeting, or by a boss who doesn't want to make their employee look stupid in front of everyone. How versatile! Also commonly used because there are people in that meeting that (Gasp!) other people don't want to hear the conversation. Are you following all of this? But the best use in my opinion is when someone actually throws the hammer down and takes something offline because it truly isn't relevant to the conversation (a rare occurrence!).

5) Reiterate: This word is not so much corporate jargon as it is used with a 'secret' meaning. Usually, I have seen this used when a person can clearly tell that who ever they are talking to is not listening to them, and are dangerously close to deciding in favor of exactly the opposite. Commonly paired with "I just" or "I want" reiterate is a word that ensures everyone knows where you stand on something even if you have been beating that dead horse for the last 5 months.

So if these are new to you, feel free to try them out and see what happens...better yet see if you can put them all together in once sentance. That would most likely render any single person powerless from your jargon geniusness.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Splish Splash

It was the 2nd Annual Ekern Get-Away to the Dells, and this year we tested out The Wilderness (which was leaps and bounds better than the Great Wolf).

We had a villa complete with a kitchen and 2 bathrooms, and some seriously loud neighbors the first night. But thanks to the wonderful world of Google, and the power of the Justice police that transcends father and daughters alike...Dad marched up to the front desk to return with a triumphant $40 credit. WTG Dad!

Finn was obviously the highlight of the entire weekend and the cutest stuff continues to come out of this kids mouth. I think we were all quite shocked that Finn remembered the giant bucket that splashed water last year and was pretty much terrified of it again this year. So we set up shot at the quieter pool where Finn proceeded to go down the same slide about 50,000 times.

And Nate being the super sensitive Uncle that he is, just happened to point out EVERY bucket possible in this water park...

And Dad was ever the good sport, since I couldn't even hear in this giant building filled with screaming kids so lord knows he couldn't...(**Debra and Alex--you will be happy to know that we introduced the fam to Trans Europa, and they were a fan...especially my dad!)

We went to a super nice place for steaks on Saturday and they had a piano player that Finn was obsessed with. Here he is mimicking her. He was very serious about getting it just right...so cute. He asked the piano play "Are you going to play piano all night?" And she said "Yes, sometimes my fingers start to hurt I play so long." To which Finn replied, " You should play the French Horn." Priceless.

It was a great weekend. Fun to all be together and smothering FInn with a 6:1 adult to kid ration. Next year the ratio will be 6:2 as Becca is expecting her second!!! It's always a fun weekend away with the fam, and one I know we will look forward to more and more as the years go by.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cooking LIght: Birthday Edition

It was Nate's birthday last week and he told me that ALL he wanted for his birthday was for me to make him meatloaf.

Seems like a pretty easy request right? Well let me know tell you two very important things:

1) I despise meatloaf.
2) I don't like touching meat.

For those of you who have made meatloaf, you know that to truly get the mix just right and the loaf built just so...you HAVE to touch the meat.

So I pulled out our Cooking Light book and sure enough they had a recipe to try out. I was a little nervous right out of the gate as this particular recipe called for ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal. As I plopped everything into the bowl and started mashing everything together with my hands I turned and looked at Nate and said: "This is love right here...."

I was pleasantly surprised meatloaf is actually quite easy to make, although it photographs terribly--probably because it is terrible.
In all fairness, this meatloaf was edible. Okay okay...it actually wasn't bad at all. And maybe semi-tasty. Perhaps my tastes are becomign more refined as I age.....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Justice Police: Back in Action

For 8:45AM in the morning, I am REALLY fired up. Ask Nate...I just stuffed about 20 minutes worth of onversation into 3 minutes.

So, my Professor just posted grades for our reflection papers that were due last week. Of partial importance is the fact that the prior paper I turned in was returned with a 100% and a note that said it was the best paper in the class.

So imagine my surprise, when I get a 1 out of 3 on this paper, even though I pretty much did the exact same thing. Her note this time told me how exceptionally excellent my writing and reflections were but that I didn't have any implications for marketers which was a 'big' part of the assignment.

Now I should note that in said grading scale a 3 is 100% and a 1 is 86.5% so it's not the end of the world. But the Justice Police Chief in me cannot let this go.

In the syllabus shes states that that 75% our papers content is supposed to be about our reflection and 25% is Marketing implications. Don't call it a REFLECTION paper if two-thirdds of your grade is made up of 25% of the paper. I call bullshit.

P.S. Because I actually have real-world experience in the EXACT topic of buyer behavior my reflections ARE implications for marketers. Eat it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Our Little Thai Boxer

Nate and I got Finn these awesome Thai Boxing shorts when we were overseas, and when we were home last weekened Finn put on quite the show...

Here he is flexing his muscles:

Could this kid get any cuter? I wish I could search for this phrase throughout my entire blog and see how many times we hae made this statement. Anyway, the point is he is really freakin cute.

We are very much looking forward to our 2nd Annual Ekern Family Trip to the Dells next weekend to 'splish splash' with Finn!

Also of very random note, you may notice this new fancy widget on our sidebar. It's called formspring.me, and I'm trying it out. Essentially, all you have to do is post ANY question you may possibly want Nate and I to answer and we will answer it. You can post with you name, anonymously..whatever! You ask, we tell. Fun, huh? We hope so.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Light is Getting Brighter

Check out what came in the mail yesterday:

That's what I am talking about. Graduation information being sent. To my house. For me.

Do you know what this means? FREEDOM is coming....

The cold reality of the contents of this envelope was just a bunch of crap Josten's-like (you remember that company that takes all High-School parents for what their worth..) sales materials to get a bunch of University emblemmed junk to set on the new desk they assume you are going to have with your shiny new education.

BUT..even though I threw everything little thing in this envelope away, the point is graduation is within my site. And the day dreams of how I will spend my free time begin.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cooking Light: Episode 5

I feel like life and therefore this blog are blah-blah-boring right now.To be honest, between work, school and some intermittent work-outs, I feel like I have no time to squeeze in anything fun. Unless of course you count sleeping as fun...then yes, I get about 5-6 hours of fun each day.

BUT, Nate and I do continue to try to cook at least one new recipe a week from our awesome Way to Cook cookbook. This week was Black Bean Quesadillas with Corn Salsa.

Ok, Quesadillas are not rocket science people. Nate actually makes them quite often when I am not eating with him, but there is just something about a new recipe that suddenly fancies it all up. The reality was not that fancy. Tomatoes, Black Beans, cilantro, garlic, cheese.

What was novel, was that our book had this under the "Way to Broil" section, and we typically just do our 'dillas stove-top. But we broiled...it was nice to have them all done at the same time...but other than that nothing newsworthy.

All in all...a good 'plus-up' of a standard dinner option!

AND for all of you who requested the Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce recipe, check back in the comments for the full recipe! Happy cooking!