Archive for January 2008


Hut, Hut!

January 25th, 2008 — 11:30am

Tonight, I’m heading on vacation. And no, I’m not going to the super bowl. I’m flying to Colorado for an 8-day vacation in the mountains! Karen and I are flying into Colorado Springs late tonight, where we will meet up with Karen’s younger sister, Kate, who lives and works in the Springs. (Kate is actually the Director of Doping Control for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), where she’s worked for the past seven years. She’s traveled the world, and was actually the representative from USADA who met Marion Jones’ lawyers for a secretive meeting to take possession of Marion’s Olympic medals after she admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs. A sweet job indeed, but massively stressful and time-consuming, and thus, Kate has decided to make a big life change. She resigned two weeks ago and is moving to Madison this spring!)

During our time in Colorado, tomorrow morning, we’ll be running in a 10-mile race, which is part of the Pike’s Peak Road Running Club’s Winter Series. We’ll spend a couple days in Colorado Springs hanging out and touring the Olympic training facilities and USADA, before heading to the mountains. Kate rents a condo near Breckenridge with a bunch of her friends, so we’ll stay there and ski a couple days. Then, we’re really heading into the mountains, for a three-day hut trip, which should certainly be an adventure. Needless to say, I won’t have access to Internet from the hut, or probably much of next week. Many stories and pics when I return.

2 comments » | Vacation and Travel

Boot Drinkin’ at the Essen Haus

January 25th, 2008 — 6:33am

Last Saturday night, I went out to celebrate my friend Lauren’s birthday. Lauren, and her husband Brodie, are great friends of mine from college (I was the maid of honor in their wedding last year), and also currently reside in Madison. Lauren and Brodie had people over at their house for drinks and appetizers (my spinach artichoke dip was a hit!), and then we headed to the Essen Haus for some boot drinkin‘.

The Essen Haus is a Madison landmark and UW alumni gathering spot complete with authentic German food and biers, live oompah music, and polka dancing. The big thing to do when you’re at the Essen Haus is to play the “boot game,” in which everyone passes around a boot and takes a drink. There are some rules, however, which always make for a rowdy time. You can never let the boot touch the table, you must flick the glass when you are done taking a sip, and if the person after you finishes the boot, well then you need to buy the next boot of beer. Which is going to cost you, upwards of $30-50. So if you’re getting down towards the end, you better finish that beer in the boot! Luckily, I was able to get away with little sips, and didn’t ever get stuck with the bill!

2 comments » | Madtown Lovin'

Water for Elephants

January 24th, 2008 — 2:09pm

I recently finished reading Water for Elephants, a novel by Sara Gruen, which I eagerly tore through in a few short days. While it’s definitely a quick read—the perfect summer beach fling—the plot and storyline are expertly researched and crafted. The novel weaves back and forth between the present and past—Jacob now, a 93-year old nursing home dweller with undying determination and spunk. And Jacob then, an Ivy League-educated, soon-to-be graduate, who is forced into an unexpected, and ultimately lifelong journey, of life on the road as a circus veterinarian for a shady circus outfit during the 1930’s depression era.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book was reading the “Author’s Notes,” which comprised the last few pages. In these, Gruen details how she initially came to be fascinated with the concept of old-time circus life, her research for the book, and some of the “real life” circus stories that she expertly incorporated into the novel. Fittingly, each of the book’s 24 chapters begins with a vintage circus photograph, which together provide a colorful tapestry of the emotions, fashions, settings, personalities, and day-to-day activities of a circus troupe in the early 1900’s.

And per usual, I will end with my favorite line from the book. It is as follows: Lucinda’s death leaves us with a serious deficiency in the freak lineup. And it must be filled—all the big shows have fat ladies, and therefore so must we” (pg. 205).

3 comments » | Books, Film, and Music

They’re Carmel Delights, Damn It.

January 23rd, 2008 — 8:45am

Have you received a visit from your local girl scout? In case you didn’t realize, we’re in the middle of full fledge Girl Scout cookie season, and you better believe I’ve already ordered upteen boxes of sinfully delicous Samoas Cookies (aka Carmel Delights, for those of us old school girl scouts).

I was also pleasantly surprised to find Edy’s Samoas Cookie Ice Cream back in the freezer at my local grocer last week. The creamy treat is packed with Samoas Cookies in caramel ice cream with fudge. You better believe I picked up a few gallons. To go with my cookies, of course.

Ahhh…Girl Scout Cookies. Now there’s something to look forward to in this seemingly never-ending winter freeze.

1 comment » | Uncategorized

2008 Race Calendar

January 22nd, 2008 — 10:13am

March 1: Point Bock Run (5 miles)
March 16: Madison Shamrock Shuffle (10K)
April 5: IU-Bloomington Mini Marathon
April 21: Boston Marathon
May 18: Memphis in May Triathlon
May 25: Madison Half-Marathon
June 14: Horribly Hilly Hundred (200K)
July 5: Green Lake 10K
July 12: Muncie Endurathon (half-ironman)
August 3: Ripon Medical Center Triathlon
September 7: Ironman Wisconsin
October 5: Twin Cities Marathon

2 comments » | Racing and Training

The New Job

January 22nd, 2008 — 9:52am

On Friday afternoon, I was offered the job of Manager of Recruitment Outreach for the UW-Madison Office of Admissions. While it hasn’t officially been announced yet–I’m still working out some of the details with our office’s director–I am very proud to have been offered the position, and glad to know the process is finally over. In this new role, I’ll be managing our office’s many recruitment programs, and moving from a behind-the-scenes role to one of increased responsibility and visibility. Thanks for all of your support over the last several months. Your words of encouragement have certainly helped to keep me sane through this seemigly never-ending process.

6 comments » | Uncategorized

Frozen Solid (with no sign of hope)

January 18th, 2008 — 3:24pm

As I’ve mentioned before, I co-manage the university’s campus visit program, and work very closely with our forty student campus tour guides. We recently hired eleven new guides, to replace those who have graduated, and this week they endured a very rigorous training week of listening to overwhelming amounts of campus information, and traipsing all over campus practicing their presentation skills and content mastery during “mock tours”. They’re a great group of new guides, with loads of energy and talent. And most of them are freshmen! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of them better. They do make me feel very old, though. Since I was once a tour guide myself, I feel all hip and close to the experience, but then they remind me that I’ve almost been out of college for a decade. Which is unreal.

Anyhow, I observed many of their “mock tours” over the past two days, and I must say that I am still de-frosting. Today, I spent over four hours walking the tour route observing, and my hands are still blue (despite hand warmers strategically placed in my mittens, which Karen generously picked up for me at Walgreens this morning). I do not believe I will ever be warm again. Tomorrow is predicted to be much worse, however. And of course, I’m scheduled to do a 13-mile run around the lake with two of my friends. Tomorrow’s forcast calls for a high (a HIGH) of minus one degree. By the end of the weekend, I will surely be a block of ice.

1 comment » | Uncategorized

Potluck!

January 17th, 2008 — 11:08am

Tonight at 7pm, I’m attending a Border’s author event with some friends (if I’m not snowed in at work, that is). The book is actually a cookbook, “Potluck! Home Cooking from Wisconsin’s Community Cookbooks.” The more than 200 recipes featured in the book were collected by author Toni Brandeis from 14 community cookbooks produced by groups that include the Monroe Singers and the Madison Curling Club.

I’ve never attended a cookbook author event, so I’m not sure what to expect. Probably good stories and maybe a few demos? Who knows. I’m game for anything that involves a potluck.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Countdown to Sundance

January 17th, 2008 — 7:42am

I would do almost anything to have a flight to Park City, UT this evening for the start of the Sundance Film Festival. And tickets to a few of the films I’m currently salivating over would be good, too.

Last year at this time, this dream was my reality, as I found myself hopping on a plane headed to Utah, where I spent the entire duration of the world renowned 10-day film festival. My brother was living in Salt Lake City at the time, which made the opportunity all together possible. For ten days, I had the opportunity to see some of the world’s most anticipated and celebrated independent films—one from the comfort of Robert Redford’s screening room at Sundance Resort, and others followed by intimate Q&A sessions with the directors themselves. The films were heartbreaking, mind-blowing, and utterly mesmerizing. Taking in these great films made me appreciate film on a whole new level. I couldn’t believe my great luck to have scored such coveted tickets to this premiere event.

This year’s festival promises another ten days of great film. There are four competition categories with sixteen films in each. The categories are: Documentary Competition, Dramatic Competition, World Cinema Documentary Competition, and World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Out-of-competition film categories include: Premieres, Spectrum, Park City at Midnight, New Frontier, and Shorts. The films I am most excited for, and anxiously awaiting feedback on, are: Choke, The Last Word, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, The Wackiness, King of Ping Pong, The Wave, Assassination of a High School President, Death in Love, Incendiary, and Savage Grace.

It’s easy to get involved with the festival from the comfort of your own home, beyond reading the celebrity gossip in US magazine (Park City is jam packed with LA—last year I brushed shoulders with John Cusack, Tara Reid, Puff Daddy, and Nicole Richie). All of this year’s films, and brief descriptions of each, are online. You can download the film guide here. Although not all of the films will be picked up and widely released, some will, and then you’ll know which ones you’re looking for in the coming year or so. In 2007, between the festival and other venues in Madison (once the films were picked up), I was able to see ten films that premiered at the 2007 Film Festival. By downloading the film guide, you can study up and know what you’re looking for.

2 comments » | Books, Film, and Music

Italian Pasta Bake

January 17th, 2008 — 5:55am

Here is the Italian dish I mixed up this past Saturday night. I found the recipe in the latest Rachel Ray magazine. It was good stuff, and relatively easy to whip up.

Ingredients:
2 loaves day-old Italian country bread, crusts discarded, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound rigatoni or ziti pasta
4 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup grated parmesean cheese, plus more for serving
Salt

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan or 4-quart ovenproof bowl. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with bread slices, fitting them tightly; reserve several bread slices for the top.
2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir the peas and cook for 1 minute. Stir the tomatoes and heavy cream, mixing until combined, and bring to a simmer. Set aside 1 cup of the sauce.
4. Drain the pasta, add the sauce in teh skillet and toss to coat. Stir in the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Season with salt. Pour the pasta into the bread-lined pan, pressing down with a wooden spoon. Cover with the remaining bread slices. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top and dot with the remaining 2 tbsp. butter.
5. Bake the pasta until golden and crusty, about 40 minutes (loosely cover with foil if necessary to prevent browning). Let cool for about 30 minutes, then unmold and slice. Serve with the reserved tomato sauce and extra parmesan.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

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