Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Forecast and Bang Reveal

Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday...

We have once again made it to the weekend, but not just any weekend. A looooong weekend! Woot Woot!

As a labor day baby growing up with a lake house Up North, Labor Day weekend is one of those special weekends of the year. A last hurrah of summer which was made to be filled with campfires, bug spray, and s'mores. To celebrate, Mike and I are making our first camping trip to Stone Mountain.

The Campground: we'll be out on one of the brown sites on the point. Source

It's our first camping trip together and the first time camping in about 10 years for both of us. This week has been full of planning and packing. I made a grocery store run Wednesday while Mike's fantasy draft was going on. All of his dudes live in different cities, but thanks to technology and webcams they were able to get all their trash talking in live and face-to-face.

Luca seems to share my excitement about fantasy drafts.

Our original reservation was for 3 nights, but after factoring in Atlanta traffic and the earlier sunset we decided to hold off til tomorrow morning to head out. We thought it was best to not try to set up a new tent for the first time in the dark. The gear is ready to go but the front door. We have a few more last minute items to pick up at Target tonight, and then we will be ready to go!

The Gear

Bang Reveal

Last night was the big night. I started thinking about bangs last winter, but with the Ding coming up I thought it best not to do anything drastic. After 2 years of growing out the same boring cut, I was pumped to make a big change. Here's how they turned out:

I LOVE them! Styling today was pretty easy since my hair drys very straight naturally. I'm excited to see how they work swept to the side or with a high bun.

I hope your weekend is full of fun and adventure!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Night Owls and Early Birds: The Story of Homemade Almond Milk

I am and have always been a morning person. The latest I've ever slept in was 11 am, and that was after a full month of no school and no work. Mike is night owl, not the extreme, up til 3 am every night, sort, but a night owl nonetheless.

What's been the real surprise is how well this works for us. After 2+ years of 4 hour drives and nightly skype calls, we got comfortable with our time apart. Last August we moved not only to the same city but also to the same apartment. And to be 100% honest, I love my quiet weekend mornings alone.

Most mornings I hunker down in front of the TV and indulge in all sorts of guilty pleasures: Bridezillas marathons, food documentaries, Pretty Little Liars. Anything is fair game. Last Saturday was a different story though. Last Saturday I woke up empowered. I woke up on a mission, a mission to make...

Homemade Almond Milk

You'll notice that I'm one of the lucky people with the pleasure of owning a Vitamix. I loooooove it and totally recommend it if you are a big blender user. Ours gets used daily for a wide variety of things. 

I think this recipe will work with a less powerful blender. Worst case scenario would be that you wasted a cup of almonds, so it's probably worth trying. The one piece of "equipment" you MUST have however is a nut milk bag. My bag came with my blender. You can find cheaper ones online or in specialty cooking stores. You can also make your own using a porous fabric. This tutorial uses tea towels.

There are probably a million different variations to the standard nut milk recipe, but the method is always the same. 

1. Soak the Almonds In a bowl, cover 1 cup of almonds completely with water. The almonds will expand as they absorb the water so be sure you have some extra room at the top of the bowl. This step is really, really important. I soaked mine overnight. You should try to soak for at least 8 hours. I've heard that an hour with very hot water will do in a pinch. Once you're ready to start making the milk, drain and rinse the almonds.

Beautiful, plump, and ready to blend.

2. Add to the Blender with Water Add the almonds and 3-4 cups of water to your blender. I used 4 cups and thought it turned out great. Less water should result in a slightly thicker milk. I also added a drizzle of agave at this point, but you could wait til later in the process too.

3. Blend! This is probably a good time to mention that Mike was already starting to wake up. Though who could really be upset about waking up to freshly made almond milk. #FirstWorldProblems

4. Milk that Bag This was my favorite part. Growing up in Wisconsin but having never milked a real cow, I found this part oddly rustic and wholesome. Place your nut milk bag over a large bowl and pour the entire contents of the blender in the bag. Then gently squeeze out the liquid. The remaining almond pulp in your nut milk bag can be used for all sorts of things so don't toss it out! I'll make sure to post whatever I end up doing with mine.

No animals were harmed in the making of this almond milk.

5. Flavor If you want to make a flavored almond milk now is the time, if you want to rock the plain milk you can just skip this step. I made a batch of plain and a batch of chocolate. Pour your plain milk back into the blender and add whatever flavorings you choose: cocoa powder, vanilla, more sweeter, cinnamon...the sky is the limit. Do a quick google search and you'll find tons of great ideas. 

For my chocolate batch, I added 100% cocoa powder (try to use fair trade if you can), agave syrup, and the secret ingredient...a shake of sea salt. No idea how much I used of what. I'm very much a "guess and test" person in the kitchen.

It might seem weird to add salt, but let me tell you something magical happens. This simple chocolate milk takes on the delicious complexity of the store bought chocolate milk gallons of your youth. Trust me on this one. Add the salt.

6. Chill and Enjoy The beautiful nut milk you just made tastes great straight from the blender, but it gets even better after being chilled in the fridge. We used a couple of inexpensive bottles with stoppers from Ikea to store our milk. Anything with a lid will work fine. 


PS Tomorrow is Bang Day. After marathoning season 1 of New Girl, I'm only half terrified. But hey it's only hair right??

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Recap

Well the weekend went as awesomely as planned with a few fun bonuses.

Friday is quickly becoming salsa for dinner night. Our new place is walking distance to the neighborhood Trader Joe's so we made a quick run once we got home on Friday. We picked up stuff for the veggie burgers and my newest obsession Cowboy Caviar, which is basically a corn and black bean salsa. We make ours stretch a little further by mixing one jar of the caviar with a can of black beans (drained). It's a quick and cheap way to double the salsa :) We planned to make up the veggie burgers as our main course, but after demolishing the salsa we thought it would be best to hold off.

The weather was as beautiful as predicted. Saturday morning we walked up to Piedmont Park. We're beginning to establish a nice walking routine through the park: in through the 10th St entrance, back to the dog park, rest while Luca runs wild with his new buddies, walk out through the farmers market, then home past the Flying Biscuit.

Making friends at the water cooler.

This time there was a special treat after the dog park. A King of Pops stand just happened to show up right as we were leaving. Not wanting to mess with fate, we both indulged in a pop. Arnold Palmer for Mike and Raspberry Lime for me. Messy, but worth it.

Hooray for King of Pops!

Once home we got to work on the burgers. I made two types: basic black-bean and curried chickpea. Mike grilled them up, and we nom-ed them down to the Little League World Series which I got weirdly into.

Backyard BBQ: check!

Next on the agenda: WHIRLYBALL!! Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I got to meet the new first years  and hang out with some of my fave new second years. As a surprise bonus we ended up heading to the house of one of the old second years. It took a while for us to get back into our grove, but a few games in Mike and I were rocking at beer pong. TEAM SOCIE!

I hope your week is off to an awesome start!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Forecast

TGIF guys!!  We made it! 

The weather is finally picking up. Sunshine and happiness from here on out. I'm definitely looking forward to some time outside soaking up a few rays before fall. I foresee some serious park time in our future. A picnic lunch might be in order.

Oh yeah. That't what I like to see.

Here are some of the projects on our radar for the weekend:

Backyard BBQ: Mike and I moved into a new apartment after the Ding. It's a bit smaller but a lot nicer. One of the major selling points was the private patio space. On the menu are veggie burgers and hopefully some sweet corn.

Our lovely patio. Landscaping included.

WhirlyBall!: Mike's program organized a group outing to WhirlyBall Atlanta on Staurday. I have never tried this before so I have no idea what I'm getting myself into. All I've heard is that it's like lacrosse in bumper cars. How could that not be awesome?? 


Car Stuff: Last spring we acquired Mike's family's VW bug after realizing that having only one car wasn't going to cut it for Mike's summer rotation schedule. Well its registration is coming due for renewal, and the time for procrastination is coming to an end. On a positive note, the title is being moved to our names so it's going to be officially ours :) My inner 14 year-old could not be more pumped!

Bang Research: If you follow me on pinterest then you've already seen a storm of bang pins. I did a great job growing out my hair for the Ding. I love how long it is, but it's all one length and pretty boring. Since my go to look is the lazy but work appropriate bun, I'm thinking bangs would be a great way to jazz it up a bit. Here are my top inspiration pics so far. The appointment is on Thursday. Eeee!

Source, Source, Source

Hope your weekend is full of awesomeness!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Married Moe Monday!

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. The best way to beat the Monday blues is to have a special treat waiting for you at the end of the day. For us it's $5 burritos at Moe's. They are delicious and not too unhealthy (the chips though, that's another story), and we can each get exactly what we want.

Moe Monday's became a tradition for us last winter. It started when I heard about a job with Moe's corporate offices. I had never been there so we decided to give it a try and were immediately hooked. By March it became part of our weekly routine.

First ever Married Moe Monday!

We continued the Mexican food theme once we got home with TortillaFest 2013. Mike makes tortillas disappear like no one I've ever met before. This used to mean weekly stops at the store to buy tortillas. It wasn't until our honeymoon in Belize that, while eating delicious handmade tortillas daily, the idea to make our own dawned on me. Growing up my mom always made fresh flour tortillas for us. In recent years she's upgraded to making corn ones. Last week I pulled out the family recipe (included below) and whipped up and batch to surprise Mike when he got home from orientation. He loved them, and as a result we made batch number 2 on Monday night.
You know any recipe written on an index card will be legit.

The process is very simple especially if you have one person rolling and one person manning the stove. We actually ran out of all-purpose flour so these are half whole wheat (bonus points for health!). We made a double batch resulting in 21 tortillas, and we quickly knocked that down to 18 :)

The Process: roll 'em, fry 'em, eat 'em.

The trick to making these is to roll them out very, very thin. They will poof a bit in the pan so you really want to take the time to get them as thin and you can manage. I found rolling one out, then flipping it over and rolling out even more on the other side worked best. The handmade thickness plus the addition of the whole wheat flour made these very hearty and perfect for non-Mexican food too, like wraps or gyros. My favorite way to munch: spread with hummus and add sriracha to your liking. Then roll it up and cut into delicious little pinwheel snacks. Yummmm.

Mom's Tortilla Recipe:
Yields about 10 tortillas

5 cups flour (all-purpose, wheat, or a mix will work)
2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup warm water
3 Tbs shortening (softened)

Mix the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients, kneading to combine. Let dough rest. Heat skillet to medium heat and add a thin layer of oil. Roll out golf ball sized pieces of dough as thin as possible. Add to skillet one at a time. Cook 1-2 min. on each side. Be careful not to burn them! Add more oil as needed.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend Recap

Another weekend gone, and now it's Monday. Blerg. It's also a particularly painful Monday since it's my first one back at work in 3 weeks. What's the number one cure for the Monday blues?? MOE MONDAY! And today is extra special becuase it is our first ever Married Moe Monday! Woot woot! After work, I'll be picking Mike up from school and we'll be heading over to Moe's for our favorite weekly treat. Can't wait!

In other news, it was also our first weekend home as newlyweds. Our first order of married  business? Errands! We hit up the bank, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Whole Foods, and finally the brew store for supplies for our newest homebrew.

The hubster being ultra manly. I caught him off guard with the first pic, but got a smile on round two.

We had a lot of great food planned for the weekend: tacos, BLTs, and chick'n salad. I was really in the mood to get in some more summer favorites before I go full speed pumpkin and apple everything. Well the weather here has been anything but summery. It's been in the mid 70's and hasn't stopped raining since we've been back. YUCK.

Friday was supposed to be taco night, but then we over indulged on the salsa and guac and decided to hold of on the tacos. While our normal stomachs were full, we still had plenty of space in our dessert stomachs ..enter homemade brownies :) We also made attempt 1 at watching our way through our unseen dvd collection with Bad News Bears, and we got in some Mario Karting...I think this game might become an obsession for the next few weeks.

Homemade brownies, almond milk, and Mario is good.

They didn't turn out quite as I had hoped. They were very very ooey gooey (not the worst problem). By Saturday they firmed up quite a bit. Shockingly there are still a few squares on the counter.

Since we spent the first part of Saturday running errands and ended up skipping lunch, the tacos made it back on the menu as an early dinner. I la-la-loves these tacos by Fantastic World Foods. Huge shoutout to my mom for discovering them at her local natural food store.

And to wash it down, Wisconsin brews :)

We finished off the weekend with a wholesome Sunday. We got up nice and early and hit the gym after a far far too long hiatus. After that we were off to church where we were the number one joy of the week :)

My friend H was a real inspiration for me when Mike and I began  attending church together. H is also a big fan of hair bows. As a result my brain has connected church and hairbows resulting in me rocking the look below on most Sundays. I sent H a pic and she sent back a pic with her outfit that day. Great minds think a like am I right??

We even coordinated shirt color lol

After church we finished up a few final errands, munched on some BALTs for lunch (A is for avocado), and got to work on our new brew... SOCIE CIDER

Delicious food and new projects...the makings for a perfect weekend.

Hope you had and amazing weekend too! Now let's go rock this Monday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Everything Starts Somewhere

If you've ever planned a wedding, you know that it's a pretty big project. Some of it is fun, some of it makes you feel spoiled rotten, and some it is like pulling teeth with certain tasks never quite making it to the top of the to-do list until the very last possible minute (escort cards, I'm looking at you).

Almost two weeks ago I saw all my planning come to life. It was beautiful and perfect and everything we wanted. Once again I felt spoiled with love, which really is the best sort of spoiled to be.

The Ding, Overture Center for the Arts, Madison,WI - photographed by Studio Noveau

I'm not a terribly outgoing person. A proud introvert, I'm more than happy to sit back and let someone else take center stage. I barely ate on my wedding day. luckily had my wits about me enough to barely drink as well. Though I was racked with nerves the whole week leading up to and including the big day, nothing beats the feeling of an entire room of people happy to be witness to one of your life's big moments. The out pour of love continued for a few days after then slowed, facebook ceased to be the Mike & Allie page, and my inbox went back to sea of promotions.

Me and Bee in our getting ready robes. 
While planning I had heard stories of the bridal blues, bride's who put so much into all the planning and dreaming that after the wedding was done they spiraled into a post-nuptial depression. Every time I heard one of these stories a had exactly two thoughts: 1) I totally get it, and 2) Please, please don't let that be me.

I'm a firm believer in the power of intention and in every moment being what you make of it. That's were this blog comes in. A sort of gratitude journal, scrapbook combo to document our lives and fill the gap the wedding planning has left behind.
Hedgehog bride says, "Go home and make husband hearty meal!"