Archive for October 2010

Succulent Terrarium

October 28th, 2010 — 12:57pm

phpwsczv8pmI love race season, but I love off-season equally as much. It’s so liberating to come home from work this time of year and not feel like I have to WORKOUT. I can do anything – read a book, make a nice dinner, or go to a movie with friends. I’ve certainly been doing a lot of that. But I’m also tackling a to-do list that grew to no end during my race season. There are many not-so-fun things on the list – switching my closet from summer to fall, organizing my kitchen cabinets, washing the floors, etc. But then there are other projects on the list I’m really looking forward to – learning how to knit, catching up on my blog, trying several new recipes, and making yo-yo pillows. php3z9xgdpm

One of the projects on my list I’ve already tackled is making a succulent terrarium. I made two, actually, using instructions I found at Cloverandbee. Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with succulents. I love their shapes, patters, and colors. They complement my modern decor well, and they are pretty much the easiest plants to take care of. Which is always good for me.

I found two glass fishbowls at Michaels, and everything else at local hardware and garden stores – decorative pebbles, horticultural charcoal, cactus and succulent mix, and succulents. Per the instructions on C&B, I poured careful layers of each in the fishbowls, and then gently planted my succulents. I placed one of the terrariums in a window sill and the other on my coffee table. They were fun to make and I think they look great in my apartment.

2 comments » | Crafts & Design

Kelly’s Wisconsin Weekend

October 27th, 2010 — 1:23pm

phpebpiucpmMy brother and I are separated in birth by 13 months. We’ve always been close. But we’ve lived relatively far apart for the past several years. He lives in San Francisco. I’m in Madison. Which means that our times together are few and far between. I’m still in denial that I only see my brother once or twice a year. I secretly hope (and genuinely believe) he’ll someday return to his Wisconsin roots. I keep my fingers crossed anyway. php7n0u2jpm

But until then, I make the most of the time we do have together. So it was a big deal when my brother, along with his best friend and girlfriend, booked flights to Wisconsin for a long weekend in late-October. After much anticipation, they arrived to Milwaukee early last Thursday after a red-eye flight from San Francisco. My mom’s eyes flooded with tears as my brother came walking through the terminal. Although I had been out to California to visit my brother in June, my parents hadn’t seen my brother in almost a year (my mom would want you to know that they certainly tried). Kelly looked the same as always with his goofy grin and trademark flip flops. It was great to see him. phpiz0nqhpm

My brother was excited to get back to Wisconsin during the fall, spend time with our family, and show his girlfriend what makes Wisconsin so special. Kelly’s best friend Ben was also excited to spend time in Madison with his sister, who is a senior at UW. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. I took Thursday, Friday, and Monday off work and spent every moment with my brother. I made sure we hit every hot spot in Madison, and a few in Milwaukee as well. We had burgers and custard at Kopp’s, beers on the Union terrace and in the Rathskeller, dinner at the Underground Kitchen, one too many boots and a round of polka dancing with a big group of friends at the Essen Haus, and capped off the evening at Natt Spil. And that was all on the first day…phpz95qp8pm

The rest of the weekend we hiked at Devil’s Lake, enjoyed apple cider and caramel apples at Ski-Hi, went to the Dane County Farmers’ Market, enjoyed drinks at the Great Dane and Brocach, devoured fried cheese curds and a fish fry at the Old Fashioned, toured the New Glarus Brewery and sampled beers in the outdoor biergarden, watched the Badger game at State Street Brats, had dinner at the Weary Traveler and breakfast at Lazy Jane’s, enjoyed a traditional Serbian dinner at Three Brothers in Milwaukee, and ran our family’s traditional 10-mile route from my parents’ house in Brookfield to the Milwaukee lakefront. We also visited my Grandma D.

I think we hit it all. Or as much as we possibly could in four days.

It was such a fun weekend. I loved spending time with my brother. Here are a few more of my favorite pictures from the weekend….








1 comment » | Family Fun, Madtown Lovin'

Lentil Vegetable Soup

October 27th, 2010 — 11:26am

phpgzdooipmMy friend Kate asked me and another friend over for dinner a few weeks ago. Kate said she was serving soup. It was a cool fall day, so soup sounded perfect. But I didn’t think soup for dinner would be enough to fill me up. In all honesty, I think of soup in the same way I do salads – rabbit food. So in my mind, I was already plotting my next meal before having even arrived at Kate’s.

Kate served a Lentil Vegetable Soup. She said the recipe was from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. To say it blew me away would be an understatement. It was the best and most filling soup I’ve ever tasted. After a big bowl of soup and a few slices of crusty bread, I was full and content. And so I stand corrected – soup can be a filling and delicious meal.

In the days following dinner at Kate’s, I couldn’t stop thinking about that life-changing bowl of soup. And so I decided to re-create the recipe at home. I found the recipe online, bought the ingredients, dragged a stock pot out of the inner-most recesses of my kitchen, and set to work. After some prep-work and an hour of simmering on the stove, my cozy apartment was filled with the aroma of hot vegetable soup. I poured myself a tall glass of red wine and a big bowl of soup – and savored every spoonful. It was even better than I remembered. After a great dinner, I poured the remaining soup into separate Tupperware containers to freeze and use for future meals. This is definitely my new go-to recipe for the long winter ahead.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Fall Weekend in Door County

October 18th, 2010 — 11:58am

phpiqnps9amWhile I finish up the final installments of my Ironman race report, I thought I’d share some other updates. First and most importantly, I bought a new camera. Hooray. You may remember that I lost my camera in June when I was in San Francisco visiting my brother. After making myself suffer all summer without a camera, I finally decided I had learned my lesson. I’ve promised myself I will not lose another camera. So I’m back at it and very excited to begin documenting my life again.phputeqk9pm

Speaking of pictures, last weekend (Oct. 8-11) I headed to Door County for a fall weekend with my best friend. It was my third time in Door County this year. Late-September/early-October is always my favorite time of the year to visit. I love the cooler temperatures, crisp leaves, fresh apples and cider, and weekly fall festivals. We lucked out with incredible weather – it was warm and sunny the entire weekend – and hit what was likely the peak of the fall colors. The only challenge was the crowds – I didn’t know it beforehand, but apparently the second weekend in October is traditionally the busiest weekend of the year in Door County. There were people everywhere – especially in Egg Harbor, which hosted a weekend-long Pumpkin Patch fall festival.phpuco99hpm

We attempted to escape the crowds on Saturday by heading to Washington Island. I had never been to the island before, so I was excited to explore someplace new. We took a ferry with our bikes from Northport Pier (the tip of the peninsula) to the island. Our round-trip tickets were $15 each (which included our bikes) and the trip took about 30 minutes. Upon arrival, we biked across the island to a cider pressing party and fall festival at the farm museum. I was particularly enamored by the make-your-own caramel apples. I meticulously coated my apple in abundant layers of caramel and chopped nuts. Then I sat down and devoured my warm gooey creation. Meanwhile, we watched several people press their own gallons of cider from a contraption that looked as if it were from the late 1800’s. It all seemed a little unsanitary. And the resulting green liquid was rather unappealing. So we passed on that adventure. phphqas3rpm

After we’d had our fill of the cider festival, we made our way around the island exploring the various cafes, restaurants, and stores along the way. It was cool to see the field where the organic wheat for Capital Brewery Island Wheat Ale is harvested. But I was disappointed to find the famous Washington Hotel closed – like boarded-up closed. I can’t seem to find definitive answers on why and when it closed,  but it sounds like it happened sometime in 2009. The web site is still up, but the phones are disconnected. It’s all very sketchy. I had always heard rave reviews about the hotel and restaurant, and had been very much looking forward to a nice lunch there. Oh well. After that, we made our way back to the ferry for our return trip. It was great to check out Washington Island. I would definitely go back, but probably just for another half-day or so.  phpkeiqaypm

The rest of the weekend was filled with camping at Peninsula State Park, trail runs, a trip to the Pumpkin Patch fall festival in Egg Harbor, nice dinners out, a visit to the apple orchard, and more caramel apples…

Yes, that’s right. Make-your-own caramel apples, eat your heart out. I hit the jackpot of caramel apples at the most unexpected of places – a BP gas station along Highway 57. They’re called PJ’s famous caramel apples.  Advertised on a sign out front, the apples can be found in an unassuming plastic case next to the cash register. Sweet and thick caramel. Salty peanuts. And a big, shiny apple that packs the ultimate crunch. Simply the best caramel apple I’ve ever tasted. As you can see from the picture, I purchased a few for the road. All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend. And I certainly had my share of caramel apples.

3 comments » | Vacation and Travel

Ironman Race Report – Part 2

October 4th, 2010 — 12:10pm

dsc_0826It wasn’t easy getting down to the swim start. As always, no one wanted to get in the water until the very last moment. At quarter to seven, I joined the sea of triathletes clad in neoprene and rubber slowly inching toward the water’s edge. With only minutes until start time, I impatiently made my way around other athletes and finally hit the swim entrance. As I waded in, the National Anthem was playing. I felt bad swimming to position then, but kept my head up and paddled softly. I situated myself close to (but not next to) the inner-most buoys, and toward the front of the pack. It seemed like a good strategic position. I’d still need to cut left a bit, but would hopefully avoid some of the traffic closest to the buoys.2323232327ffp-84nu3239-58885wsnrcg332889333-nu0mrj

I’d barely gotten into position when the start cannon blew. It took me by surprise, but I got my act together quickly. I hit the start button on my watch, put my head down and began swimming hard. Surprisingly, the swim was relatively uneventful. And that’s definitely a good thing. For the first time during an Ironman, I didn’t find myself on the receiving end of frequent elbows to the head, kicks to the face, and full body grabs. In fact, I had very little contact with other athletes for the duration of the swim. I was able to get into a rhythm and occasionally find a nice draft. The swim definitely felt long, though. With every passing buoy, I hoped for the final turn toward shore. After what seemed like an eternity, it finally came. I could see the shore and sense the excitement.60073-972-022f

I swam until my hand hit the sandy ground and then jumped to my feet. I finished the swim in 58:46, just one-tenth of a second off my best Ironman swim from 2004 (I had been swimming with a master’s team that year all summer). I began running as I pulled my goggles and cap from my head and unzipped my wetsuit. Almost as if on autopilot, I ran to the volunteer wetsuit peelers and dropped to the ground as they yanked my wetsuit off my body by the legs. I grabbed the suit and took off up the steep helix into transition. There were hundreds of spectators lining the way and lots of cheering and cow bells ringing. I ran around and around the helix. I felt dazed and out of it but tried to smile and take it all in. It’s amazingly difficult to run up a steep incline after such an intense swim. Luckily I knew I’d have plenty of time to catch my breath while out on the bike.59973_618559471898_219704134_35281603_4293481_n

The volunteers directed me into a ballroom of the Monona Terrace to grab my transition bag. All of the bags were lined up by race number, but there was some notable confusion and delay as the volunteers tried to find mine. After several moments, I received my bag and ran through the ballroom and into the women’s changing station. At that point, a volunteer matches up with each athlete to help them through transition. I couldn’t believe my luck when my good friend Jen paired up with me (she’s my friend who I did Kona with last year!). I sat in a white folding chair as we went through my bag and grabbed everything I’d need for the bike – race number, helmet, bike shoes, sunglasses, and extra gels and salt tablets. I hurriedly put on my race number, helmet, and sunglasses. I thanked Jen for her help and took off running with my bike shoes in hand. Total time in transition was 6:48. It sounds like a long time, but I had a lot of distance to cover – up the helix, through the Monona Terrace, and then through the bike corral.

Comment » | Racing and Training

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