Archive for January 2011

Northwoods Winter Adventure

January 21st, 2011 — 2:06pm

dscn0820While many people in northern climates are busy plotting their mid-winter escape to warmer locales, I’ve been more interested in heading north.  This past weekend I fled to the great northwoods for a snowy weekend at my family’s cabin near Minocqua. A friend and I navigated through a particularly brutal snow storm to arrive late on Friday night. By that time, my parents had long since arrived to de-winterize the cabin. I was extremely grateful for running water and heat upon our arrival. dscn0818

Our cabin usually sits largely untouched during the colder months. Amazingly, it was my first time there during the winter. It was exciting to see everything from a completely new perspective—frozen and snow covered. It’s incredible to contemplate how the entire landscape and ecosystem is totally altered in the span of just a few months. Instead of gazing down from our deck over a glassy lake, I was staring out on frozen tundra. dscn08231

Our weekend largely revolved around outdoor activities and warming up inside over board games, chili, books, and chats. One of my favorite excursions was to Winter Park in Minocqua, a x-country skiing mecca with 45 miles of groomed trails. We had a great time exploring the trails and huddling over the warm fire in the chalet. My friend and I also enjoyed a few late night runs on the 600 ft. tubing slope! Other weekend highlights included snowshoeing across the lake with my mom and a nice morning run with my dad (after which we enjoyed a great breakfast of hot blueberry pancakes). All in all it was everything I had hoped for in a mid-winter escape—perhaps “celebration” is more fitting. As I always say, bring on the snow.

1 comment » | Family Fun

Hood to Coast Film

January 11th, 2011 — 3:11pm

Excited to see the Hood to Coast film tonight with Krista, Brodie, Lauren, and thousands of other running enthusiasts across the nation! Should be a great event.

Comment » | Racing and Training

Candlelight Snowshoeing

January 10th, 2011 — 7:57pm

dscn08111One of my favorite winter activities are the candlelight ski and snowshoe events hosted throughout the months of January and February by Wisconsin state parks, forests, and trails. There’s no better way to spend a Saturday night than trudging with snowshoes through a forested winter wonderland aglow with burning torches and huddling afterward with friends over a roaring fire. The whole experience sums up my growing love of winter, especially the romanticized notion of bundling up and enjoying the great outdoors. dscn0813

My friends and I had a great time at the event hosted at Mirror Lake State Park near Baraboo this past weekend. Luckily there was more snow there than in Madison. Armed with our trusty snowshoes and head lamps, we did two loops of the 0.8 mile snowshoe course before retiring to the roaring fire to warm our butts and enjoy cups of hot chocolate. dscn0814

If you haven’t already checked out these events, I hope you’ll consider joining in on one sometime this winter. The events are free with a Wisconsin state park pass and held across the state. Even if you don’t ski or snowshoe, there are always many hikers out enjoying the trails. And if you’re wanting to give showshoeing a try, you can rent a pair for the day from REI (or the like). Give it a try—you might actually end up enjoying winter more than you thought possible.

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

New Year’s Fondue Feast

January 10th, 2011 — 7:08pm

dscn0691Through plenty of trial and error I’ve learned a lot about how I most like to spend my New Year’s Eve. And paying a big cover charge to stand in an overcrowded bar isn’t it. My favorite New Year’s have been spent with close friends and family consuming copious amounts of gourmet food. And falling asleep before midnight strikes.

This year I headed to Green Lake with my best friend and her family for a long weekend of winter activities and board games. For New Year’s Eve, we planned the ultimate fondue feast. It all started with Swiss & Gruyere cheese fondue served with crusty french bread and roasted carrots, fingerling potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower. Next up was a trio of shrimp, chicken, and beef cooked in a hot bath of vegetable broth. And for dessert, we toasted with tall glasses of champagne with pomegranate seeds before diving into Guittard bittersweet chocolate fondue with marshmallows, oreos, chocolate chip cookies, pound cake, and reeses peanut butter cups. It was extraordinary.

I really couldn’t imagine a better way to ring in the the new year—huddled over a hot fondue pot with people I love enjoying great food and good laughs. Cheers to 2011 and many, many more good times ahead.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen, Uncategorized

Iron Chef January: Coffee

January 9th, 2011 — 6:37pm

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Knitting With My Mom

January 5th, 2011 — 8:17pm

december-2010-1251I’ve wanted to learn how to knit for years. It all started when a friend of mine knitted me a hat for Christmas a few years back. It was one of the most touching gifts I’d ever received. The hat was so colorful and warm. I was amazed by the time my friend must have spent on it, and also that it was possible to make something so beautiful with your hands. I treasured that hat and wore it down to to its last threads.

But wanting to learn how to knit and actually doing it are two very different things. And for so long, I just wasn’t able to bridge that gap. Even when my parents gave me needles, yarn, and a “how to knit” DVD for my birthday a few years ago, I wasn’t able to muster the time or patience to learn. And so my needles and yarn sat in the lonely darkness of my closet quietly gathering dust.

Last year I vowed to myself that I would finally learn how to knit. But still, a part of me doubted my resolve. What saved me is that my mom finally decided that she, too, wanted to learn how to knit. She ended up teaching herself this past fall through a variety of books and YouTube videos. This, of course, was a beautiful thing. She was now one step ahead of me, meaning that I’d finally have someone who could sit down and walk me through the steps—which was so much more appealing to me than trying to learn by starting and stopping a “how to knit” video hosted by perky Nici McNally.

So over Thanksgiving weekend I dusted off my knitting needles and yard and dragged it all back home for a lesson with mom. She patiently sat down with me and taught me how to cast on and how to do both the knit and purl stitches. I picked up the knit stitch relatively easily; but like most people, the purl stitch gave me more trouble. It was comforting, however, to know that they were the only two stitches I’d ever need to know. And so I practiced and practiced. Over the weekend, I even became a bit obsessed—taking my knitting with me wherever I’d go.dscn07111

But then I got back from Thanksgiving break and the demands of the daily grind resumed. I’d pick up my knitting every now and then, but it largely sat untouched. Meanwhile, my mom was completing all kinds of new projects—hats, scarves, neck gators—you name it. We hoped to spend some time together over Christmas knitting together; but unfortunately, the time never materialized.

So that’s how our latest “girls day” came about. My mom made the trip to Madison last week and our focus was to spend time together knitting. She taught me how to knit “on the round” and excitingly, I began my first real project—a hat. So we sat next to each other on the couch, our conversation moving over the rhythmical “click, click” of our knitting needles.

I continued to work on that hat all weekend. I was determined. I wanted to finish my first project and to also make my mom proud. I’m happy to report that I’m just about finished with my first hat. It’s a red fuzzy number—with some dropped stitches and other mistakes scattered throughout—but something I’m pretty damn proud of nonetheless. I think my mom is, too.

1 comment » | Crafts & Design, Family Fun

Mom’s Visit to Madison

January 3rd, 2011 — 7:53pm

Every once in a while my mom and I get together in Madison for some “girl time.” No dad, no brother—just us. Although I had just spent a few days at home with my parents for Christmas, the time had felt short and rushed. And my mom and I hadn’t been able to spend time together knitting—a hobby we’d both recently picked up. So last week I suggested to my mom that she come to Madison—I’d take the day off work and we’d hang out. Luckily, she was game.

As always, we had a great time together—dinner and beers at Capital Tap Haus, a chilly stroll around the capitol, salted caramel hot chocolates from Starbucks, late night knitting and sleeping in, a breakfast of crepes and French press coffee from Bradbury’s, hunting for treasures at St. Vinny’s, admirning beautiful yarn at the Knitting Tree, a lunch of big slices from Pizza Brutta, and more knitting. It was mother-daughter bonding at it’s finest…memories I’ll treasure forever.

2 comments » | Family Fun

Bottle Cap Wreath

January 3rd, 2011 — 7:30pm

december-2010-150Before we move on from the holidays, I wanted to share a picture of a homemade Christmas ornament I received as a gift from my friend Julie. The ornament is made up of twelve bottle caps arranged in the formation of a wreath, with a little bell hanging down in the middle. From what I can tell, it looks like Julie primarily used a glue gun to put it all together. I especially like the festive red from the New Belgium Fat Tire beer caps. It’s a very creative and unique gift idea. So start saving those bottle caps now…by the time the holidays roll around again, you should have quite the collection saved up for crafting.

Thanks again, Julie. It’s the perfect addition to my big girl tree!

4 comments » | Crafts & Design

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