Archive for May 2008

My Square Foot Garden

May 30th, 2008 — 9:56am

My parents are coming to Madison tomorrow morning to help me build my very own square foot garden. A square foot garden is essentially a raised bed garden for fruits, vegetables, or flowers, in which seeds are plated in 1×1 square foot plots. Last week, my parents built two 4×8 gardens in their yard, and I remember growing up with similar gardens.

My parents recently became very interested in pursuing a plant-based diet after reading the book, the China Study, which examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products and illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis. For the last several months, my parents have stuck to a mostly vegetarian diet, and just the other week, my dad went to the doctor and found that his cholesterol has dropped so low, he needs to get it up a little higher. I think this just goes to show that incorporating more plants and less meat in your diet can truly offer dramatic results.

I became fascinated with the concept of my own square foot garden after my parents showed me pictures of their new garden and all of the great herb and vegetables they had planted. Suddenly it dawned on me that I wanted my very own square foot garden and a true chance to put my green thumb to the test! Not to mention all of the amazing vegetables and herbs for summer salads and grilled veggies.

So we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. I’ve selected what I think is a good, sunny plot in our backyard, and my dad has helped me to put together the excel sheet above with my garden layout. Dad is heading out today to pick up the lumber and seeds/plants so we can get right to work after a morning stroll around the downtown farmer’s market. Should be a great weekend and summer project.

And I’m obviously so thankful to my mom and dad for helping me to make this possible. When I asked if they would help, I thought they would be like, ewww, we just planted two of those, and are not so interested in spending our Saturday digging in the mud. But they sounded truly excited to help, and my dad was so generous to offer to get the supplies ready today. That’s just so cool. And by the end of the day tomorrow, I’ll have my very own square foot garden!

1 comment » | Family Fun

The Second Coming

May 30th, 2008 — 5:29am

Sex and the City. On the big screen. This weekend. My favorite TV show of all times, back for one last hurrah. Great review in the LA Times this morning. Here’s some quick inserts to wet your appetite. My review will come next week. Because I, unlike Carina Chocano, Times Movie critic, do not have a press pass to the pre-release screening.

“Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall), now in their 40s and 50s, continue to navigate the choppy waters of urban life, negotiating relationships, work, fertility and friendship, only now the stakes are higher, the risks are bigger and decisions feel more permanent.

For a film that delights in indulging in frivolity at every possible turn, it examines subjects that most movies don’t dare graze for their terrifying seriousness. And when it does, the movie handles them with surprising grace, wit and maturity.

One of the best things about the movie is how it manages to confound expectations while satisfying them, an achievement for a movie based on material that had already plumbed every aspect of its characters’ lives and tied up its narrative loose ends. But some, of course, remained, and that’s where the movie takes off — will Carrie and Big get married, will Charlotte have a baby, will Miranda and Steve live happily ever after, will Samantha be satisfied with just one man?

King answers all of these with unexpected twists, posing a good deal of bigger, more interesting questions along the way. How should women live their lives in a society that constantly limits them while pretending not to? What is the function of forgiveness, and why is it necessary for living?

The clothes, the restaurants, the apartments, the shoes — they’re also all there, of course, but then, even on the show, they were always the fantasy element, the sugar that helped the sometimes harsh emotional reality go down. The movie is no different, except that the personal upheavals are bigger, more life-altering and take on nearly tragic dimensions.”

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

Madison Mallard’s Season Opener

May 30th, 2008 — 4:49am
Kim and Kristin

Season Opener

Matt, Kim, and Kristin

Karen’s Aquathon #1

Last night was a very busy evening. After working late, Karen and I sped to Warner Park to catch the start of her aquathon race (1000 meter swim/5000 meter run). I usually partake in the monthly events, but opted out of this one, the series opener, because of unseasonably cold lake temperatures. I think I made the right decision since several swimmers swam back to shore just minutes after starting. They said it was too painful. Karen persevered and did very well. I was proud of her swimming skills out there, and it was fun to cheer her on as a spectator this time.

Afterwards, we headed to the Madison Mallard’s (a summer collegiate baseball team) season opener to meet up with our friends Kim and Matt. We were an hour late to the game by the time the aquathon finished. It was pretty much pouring the whole time, although we were safe and dry under cover. I honestly can’t tell you the name of the opposing team, nor who won the game. But baseball games are rarely about that for me. And I did have a wonderful time hanging out with Kim, Matt, and Karen, and of course enjoyed my concession treats (a “Chicago” hot dog and popcorn). It was a good night, but I sure am hoping for better weather this weekend.

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

High School Rivalries Revisited

May 29th, 2008 — 2:28pm

I ran the Madison half-marathon over the weekend, and it was certainly no walk in the park. Apparently I was feeling over confident coming out of last month’s Boston Marathon, and made a whole slue of mistakes both before and during the race, which made for a pretty miserable half-marathon, and immediately dashed my hopes and dreams of becoming a professional runner (totally just kidding).

I made two obvious mistakes. First, I ate breakfast too close to race time (bagel with peanut butter and coffee less than an hour beforehand), which caused much gastronomic discomfort from mile 4 until the finish. I’ll save you the details. And second, I took off from the starting line like an Olympic sprinter. I was running close to 7 minute miles until mile 4 or 5, when my stomach discomfort truly set in. From that point on, I was beyond repair and struggling to continue forward momentum.

Approximately two miles before the finish, Karen ran up behind me and shouted encouragingly, “Come on BFF, let’s go” (we often joke and call each other BFF=best friend forever). Definitely brought a smile to me face but still, I couldn’t hang with her quick pace. I watched Karen fade into the distance. Then, only one mile from the finish, I was suddenly so motivated by a familiar face passing me, that I immediately started an all out sprint to the finish. There was no way in hell this particular cheerleader from high school was going to beat me in a half-marathon. No way. I know how completely pathetic that sounds, but apparently high school rivalries never fade. But at that point, it was just what I needed, someone to rise my competitive spirit and get me to the finish line! And that it did. I finished, beat the cheerleader, and managed to catch up with Karen. Kar still beat me, but I’m nothing but proud when that happens. She, of course, was never a high school cheerleader.

6 comments » | Racing and Training

Stockpiling for the Summer

May 29th, 2008 — 10:27am

2 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

UW-Madison Selects New Chancellor

May 29th, 2008 — 5:07am

Biddy Martin, who has served as the provost at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. since 2000, has been selected by a special Board of Regents committee to become UW–Madison’s next chancellor. If confirmed by the full Board of Regents in early June, Martin will succeed Chancellor Wiley, who will be stepping down in September. Martin has explained that her focus as the leader of UW–Madison will be on access and affordability, the quality and retention of the faculty, and the contribution of our research to the state and nation’s greatest challenges.

Governor Jim Doyle, and several members of the search committee have expressed their great enthusiasm for Martin. William Cronon, a UW-Madison professor of history, geography and environmental studies, and member of the 23-person hiring committee, stated that, “All the evidence from Cornell University indicates that Dr. Martin has been a very wise and visionary leader of that institution. She brings a breadth of understanding that ranges from the natural sciences to the arts and humanities, and is someone I hope will lead this institution into the next decade and what we need to accomplish in the 21st century.”

Before serving as Cornell’s provost, Martin spent four years as senior associate dean in Cornell’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences. She was also a professor of German studies and women’s studies, and served as the chair of German studies from 1994-97. Also a plus is that Martin has ties to UW–Madison, having earned her doctorate in German literature here in 1985.

Martin seems to me like an excellent choice for our next campus leader. She obviously has a very clear understanding of the challenges and issues that face UW–Madison and higher education in general. Her experience and leadership thus far (at an Ivy league institution no less) have prepared to do great work on our campus. I look forward to meeting her and seeing what she can do for the future of our university and state.

1 comment » | Uncategorized

Goblets for the High Life

May 28th, 2008 — 7:59am

These classy “Beer Bottle Goblets” are also very cool. They’re uniquely crafted from reclaimed Sol and Grolsch bottles. Essentially, glass artisans cut off the bottom of the bottles, polish the edges, and bond it to the bottle neck to form a base. “The result is a gloriously green or crystal clear, satisfyingly sturdy goblet that makes regular beer glasses look about as appealing as an ashtray filled with flat ale and soggy cigarette butts.” Perfect for alcohol aficionados, art enthusiasts, and “green” people alike. $25 for a set of two.

Comment » | Uncategorized

Rugged Yet Refined

May 28th, 2008 — 4:41am

I found the perfect summer shoes while I was in Boston last month. At a large shoe store in Cambridge, I fell in love with the hot, strappy numbers pictured left. I chose the “Aquarius” in brown/pistachio. I had seen them pictured in a Garnet Hill catalog earlier in the spring, but when I actually had the chance to try them on and confirm that they are, indeed perfect, the opportunity was just too good to pass up.

And so I must admit that I’ve rarely taken them off the past two months. They’re sporty and feminine, strappy and practical, colorful and simple, rugged yet refined. And SO comfortable. I would recommend them to anyone.

The shoe brand is called J-41 Footwear. More product information is available here. The Web site offers the following product description: “Combining a highly-functional design with exceptional style, J-41™ Footwear sets a pace well above the crowd. From leisurely outings to more intensive activities, J-41™ is a high performance “go anywhere” shoe that looks and feels great. A roadmap — gently embedded in our soles — symbolizes the unique and very special adventure that each of us embarks upon.”

So please, go get your own strappy number. You won’t be disappointed. You also won’t be able to take them off. I’ve seen the shoes being sold at Zappo’s, REI, etc. Should you chose to accept your mission, good luck.

2 comments » | Uncategorized

Brats Per Minute (BPM)

May 27th, 2008 — 6:13am

Madison again served host to the World’s Largest Brat Fest over the Memorial Day weekend (Friday through Monday). The past world record, set in Madison on May 28-31, 2004, at 189,432 Johnsonville Brats consumed in 4 days, equated to 98.7 BPM (Brats per minute). This year, organizers again hoped to break the record and reach a goal of 200,000 brats.

After Day 2 of the festival, Madison had already consumed 107,672 brats, putting us on pace for a record breaking year. Organizers were feeling confident, but a little nervous that the supply of buns and brats might not last through the remaining two days. But Sunday’s overcast weather put a damper on brat spirits everywhere, dramatically slowing consumption and promising suspense for the coming day.

Thankfully (or not so thankfully), Madison came through with hordes of last minute brat eaters on Sunday evening to set a new world record of 191,712 brats. Last night, Karen and I placed a little wager on whether we would break the record. Unfortunately, and obviously not thinking clearly, I bet against the big eaters of Madison. Feeling confident, I went high stakes and put dinner at Jade Garden on the line. Obviously, I lost the bet. And Karen is now happily gloating, dreaming of Jade Garden’s Chicken and Broccoli, compliments of Kristin. Karen might as well enjoy it while it lasts, because she never wins!

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

May 23rd, 2008 — 8:30am

I don’t think most people realize how easy it is to make a pie. Many varieties don’t require fruit-slicing, baking, nor much time spent slaving away in the kitchen.

My favorite pie cookbook is Betty’s Pies Favorite Recipes, which I purchased in Duluth, Minnesota, when I ran the Grandma’s Marathon there last Spring. Betty’s Pies is a Duluth landmark, and I’ve been fascinated with making pies ever since vising and reading Betty’s cookbook, which contains many of her little stories and tips from a lifetime of pie-making.

I made the following pie from Betty’s cookbook this past weekend, and it’s one of my new favorites. It’s very quick and simple, not to mention fanstasically delicious, and the nice thing is that you can keep it in the freezer until you find yourself needing to pop out a treat for unexpected visitors or attend a potluck. This one’s definitely a keeper and will certainly be a summertime favorite. Enjoy!

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie
1 chocolate pie crust (purchased)
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Blend sugar, peanut butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream to form soft peaks. Fold half the peanut butter mixture into the cream–then fold in the other half. Pour into pie shell and freeze 3 hours or more. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

3 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

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