Archive for December 2007


Boston Bound

December 27th, 2007 — 11:50am

This afternoon, I finally registered for the 2008 Boston Marathon, the 112th running of the legendary event (making it the world’s oldest annually contested marathon). This year’s race is on Monday, April 21, which conincides with Patriots’ Day, as has been the case since the race’s inception. The course follows a point-to-point route from rural Hopkinton to Boston, and includes the infamous “heartbreak hill,” which is a steep ascent over one-half mile between the 20 and 21 mile marks, in the vicinity of Boston College. The race is capped at 25,000 participants, all of whom must meet tough designated qualifiying time standards, based on sex and age group.

In order to qualify for the race, I needed to hit at or below a 3:45 marathon. I qualified out of the Detroit Marathon, both in 2005 and 2006. My 2006 time of 3:30 made the mark by more than 15 minutes. Each qualifying time is then good for two years. Karen and I decided that 2008 would be our year to finally run the Boston Marathon. We have reservations at a quaint bed and breakfast in Cambridge, very close to Harvard. I’ve never been to Boston before, so I am very excited to explore the city and be apart of this very pretigious race.

It’s a joke in our family that when I was much younger (maybe 10), my dad once told me when I was running with him on the YMCA track that I was so slow it was “painful” to run with me (I know it sounds bad, but he didnt’ really mean it like that.) And now I’m Boston bound. And that’s very meaningful to me since I’ve worked hard for many, many years to become a runner. I’ve persevered through doubts and countless injuries, to follow one of my greatest loves, the simple act of running.

Comment » | Racing and Training

Nanaimo Bars

December 23rd, 2007 — 11:24am

On Saturday afternoon, I made the much-awaited trip home to Brookfield, to spend Christmas with my family. Although I’ve only been here 24-hours, I already feel relaxed and rejuvenated, especially after a full eight-hours of sleep last night, which was heaven. My mom and I have been driving around town finishing our last-minute shopping, and this morning we made a trip to the grocery store for necessary ingredients and have spent the last several hours baking and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

I just completed a batch of Nanaimo Bars, a family recipe that Karen recently shared with me. I had the bars for the first time when I spent Thanksigiving with her family, and they were one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever tasted. Karen’s mother was a very proud Canadian who often served these bars with tea. The recipe is a popular Candadian dessert that originated in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, in the 1950’s. It’s a three-layer no-bake recipe, that consists of a crumb-based layer, a custard layer, and a top layer of chocolate. Mmm…delicious.

Ingredients:
Bottom layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa (not Dutch processed)
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup chopped almonds or walnuts
1 cup coconut

Filling:
1/2 cup soft butter
2 tbsp. vanilla custard poweder
2 cups powedered sugar
2 tbsp. cream or milk

Top layer:
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate

Directions:
Butter (or use a cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.

Bottom layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Filling: Cream the butter with an electric beater. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Spread over the filling and refrigerate.

To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting. Makes about 25 square.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Last Minute Shopping?

December 21st, 2007 — 12:33pm

Still looking for a nice gift for that special someone? Look no further. It’s all about the hot chocolate kit. And so, it’s time to break out your culinary skills and whip up a batch of homemade melt-in-your-mouth peppermint marshmallows. The recipe for these delicious morsels was featured in the Holidaze issue of ReadyMade. And Santa, if you’re still listening, I’d really like to ammend my Christmas list to include a subscription to ReadyMade. That is, if it’s not too late. And for your shopping ease, I’ve even included a direct link to the subcription page. I’m generally thoughtful like that.

The last post is a play-by-play video of making the marshmallows. The video was created by the folks at San Fransico based Curiosity Shoppe, which I have recently become obsessed with. The online store is billed as the “Crafts, Kits, & Curios for the Creatively Inclined.” I’m especially interested in the “Great Outdoors Notecard Set,” which is sadly, but only temporarily, out of stock. Thankfully, there’s still hope.

Comment » | Uncategorized

Homemade Marshmallows

December 21st, 2007 — 12:21pm

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Swirled Peppermint Bark

December 21st, 2007 — 7:06am

Here is another one of my favorite holiday recipes. I love peppermint bark, and the bark from Williams Sonoma is devine. However, the $24.50 price tag is outrageous! Who wants to pay that kind of money for bark? A few years ago, I searched for a recipe for a homemade version, and below is what I came up with. It’s very simple, and the swirled, tasty treat will be a hit at any holiday party!

Ingredients:
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or as chips
10 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped or as chips
4 oz. candy canes, crushed
Directions:
Line a cookie sheet with two lengths of aluminum foil; there should be enough foil so that the entire inside of the pan is lined. Place the semisweet chocolate in one medium microwaveable bowl and the white chocolate in another.
Heat the semisweet chocolate in the microwave at medium (50%) power for one minute. Remove from microwave; stir thoroughly (about one minute). Microwave at 50% (medium) power for additional shorter intervals, stirring thoroughly after each, just until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside at room temperature. Repeat melting instructions with white chocolate.
Pour the melted semisweet chocolate in a thin stream onto the bottom of the lined pan, moving the bowl around as you do so. Try to keep the chocolate about one-half inch away from all of the edges. Repeat the pouring with the melted white chocolate, again covering as large an area as possible and trying to stay about a half-inch away from all edges.
Using a toothpick or flat knife, marble the chocolates together, trying to fill in any gaps so that you have one layer of two types of chocolate that covers the bottom of the lined pan. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes all over the layer of melted chocolate, as evenly as possible.
Tear off a single sheet of foil about the length of the pan. Place it directly on top of the candy canes you’ve sprinkled on the chocolate. Gently press down on the foil sheet to firmly embed the crushed candy canes in the chocolate layer. Leave the foil sheet on top of the bark, and refrigerate the whole thing for about 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the top sheet of foil should easily peel off the bark.
Once the top sheet of foil is peeled off, quickly break the bark into small pieces. Place the bark pieces in an airtight storage container, and refrigerate until about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Grrr…

December 20th, 2007 — 1:43pm
To the snow plow driver who kept me up all night, you are an evil man and have now earned yourself years and years of bad karma by taking away my precious sleep. And you know that “beeb, beeb” sound that your truck makes when you are backing up? Well, I can’t get that sound out of my mind. It’s just reverberating through my sleep deprived, aching head. For that, at least, I hope you are sorry.

1 comment » | Uncategorized

Tis’ the Season

December 20th, 2007 — 11:48am

‘Tis the season to watch my all-time favorite movie, Serendipity. A true classic starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. Below is a plot synopsis:

In a bustling department store just days before Christmas, Jonathan meets Sara when both try to buy the same pair of gloves. Two strangers amid the masses in New York City, their paths collide in the mad holiday rush as they feel a mutual attraction. Despite the fact that each is involved in another relationship, Jonathan and Sara spend the evening travelling Manhattan. But when the night reaches its inevitable end, the two are forced into determining some kind of next step. When the smitten Jonathan suggests an exchange of phone numbers, Sara balks and proposes an idea that will allow fate to take control of their future. If they are meant to be together, she tells him, they will find their way back into one another’s life.

The majority of the film takes place seven years later, and consists largely of repeated “almost coincidences” where the two romantic leads almost, but not quite, meet.

Love this movie. No complicated plot, nor deep rooted symbolism. Just a charming love story that always leaves me wishing for a real life version for myself. It will happen. Come hither, Jonathan Trager. I’m yours! I also love the movie’s soundtrack. Especially Northern Sky by Nick Drake. Serendipity is the only movie that I can recite nearly ever line to (and obviously, in doing so, annoy the hell out of anyone watching it with me.) But, I can’t help myself. This is the perfect holiday movie!

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

Sedaris’ Santaland

December 18th, 2007 — 5:01pm

“I wear green velvet knickers, a forest green velvet smock, and a perky little hat decorated with spangles. This is my work uniform…”

One of my favorite parts of my recent rendezvous in Chicago was seeing the stage adaptation of David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries at The Theatre Building Chicago. As many of you know, David Sedaris is is an award-winning comedic author and radio contributor. Many of his books are essay collections, and two of his most popular are Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004) and Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), both of which became New York Times Best Sellers. I kid you not when I tell you that they are roll-on-the-ground hilarious.

Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries is the essay that, in 1992, launched his career when it broadcast on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. In fact, the New York Times described how the broadcast made Sedaris “a minor phenomenon.” In the essay, Sedaris recounts his days as a Christmas elf at Macy’s department store in New York City. You must listen to the NPR broadcast here. I promise that it will be the most hilarious thing you’ll hear all day.

When we saw the stage adaptation in Chicago, it was equally hilarious. Mitchell J. Fain played the perfect David Sedaris (a.k.a. Crumpet, the elf). It was just a one-man show, in a very tiny theater, but so much personality and humor was packed into the performance. Amazingly, the show wasn’t even sold out, and tickets were a steal. At least check out the NPR broadcast and let me know what you think! I hope it will make you laugh out loud, too.

1 comment » | Vacation and Travel

The Weekend’s Top Ten

December 17th, 2007 — 7:31am
Snowshoeing on the shores of Green Lake
At the Finish of the Finnish Five

Mad Rollin’ Dolls Roller Derby

Over the weekend, I…

1. Enjoyed my favorite Friday night fish fry at the Mecan River Lodge in Princeton, Wisconsin.
2. Snowshoed along the shores of Green Lake.
3. Raced in Madison’s Hash House Harrier’s Finnish Five (in celebration of Finnish independence).
4. Watched the Ice Queens battle against the Candy Canes at the Mad Rollin’ Dolls Roller Derby Holiday Expo.
6. Ran around Madison’s Lake Monona (~10 miles).
7. Attended my first UW–Madison commencement ceremony.
8. Observed ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt address the class of 2007.
9. Attended a wedding reception at the Eldorado Grill.
10.Reviewed enough admission applications to make my head hurt.

2 comments » | Uncategorized

Banana Split

December 16th, 2007 — 4:40pm

Shortly after receiving my celebratory “one year” pin from Gap Inc., I have resigned from Banana Republic, perhaps retiring from the retail industry for good. My last official day is Wednesday. Which coincidentally saves me from the very worst of the holiday traffic. But I promise that I didn’t plan that. So after Wednesday, my days of inredible clothing discounts come to a crashing end. So for those of you who have been using me for my discount over the last year (Seif), you don’t have to pretend to be my friend anymore (j/k).

The reason for my resignation is threefold: I now have more clothes than I could ever need (umm…just kidding, I don’t think there is ever such a point), I am too overwhelmed at my full-time job to handle a second job, and 90% of my Banana colleagues left when our general manager switched over to Anthropology earlier this fall, which has resulted in a working environment that, quite frankly, sucks. I can’t tell you how much I despise condescending signs plastered all over the store that are signed “the management.” Like, “Do not throw away liquids in the trash can. This is disgusting. The Management.” I cannot handle that. Thus, the Banana Era hath come to an end.

1 comment » | Uncategorized

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