Monday, June 30, 2008

the last weekend in June

I got a bug-bite the size of a golf ball on my forearm this weekend. This happened while we were visiting yet another new baby, this time at our friends Jill and Jeremy’s house, on Friday after work. But I don’t blame them. I blame the rotten bug that bit me while I was standing in their Strawberry patch. I was helping Ryan and Jeremy pick strawberries for about three minutes. I felt an awful bite, looked over and saw the nasty bug sitting on my arm and promptly shooed it away. I didn’t get a good enough look at it for a proper identification. It wasn’t a very big bite on Friday evening. But it got bigger and bigger over the weekend, and when I woke up Sunday morning, several tiny bubbles had formed on the surface of the bite. Yuck. Anyway, it looks much better today, and the nasty-looking bubbles have subsided.
On a different note, we went on another enjoyable long bike ride on Saturday. We seem to have perfected the art of getting in our bike rides (mid-mornings), that is, well before the weather turns bad (afternoons, as has been the case). We rode to Ridgeway and back, with no dark clouds in sight for miles around. A pleasant 32 kms, or 20 miles, in 2 hours and 3 minutes. Not bad at all. It was a gorgeous day and I didn’t even complain once. We didn’t see any deer or snapping turtles on / around the trail like we did last weekend…but we did see pretty birds, and cows and horses, and interesting weeds, and some wild grapes growing along the trail by Ridgeway. We passed this old (very old) couple riding their bikes along the highway section of the trail. We were already sitting down in the park at Ridgeway when they arrived. They parked their bikes, took out their picnic lunch and made themselves comfortable on the park bench to enjoy it. I wonder if Ryan and I will be like that when we are in our sixties…or seventies….
And so, the first six months of the year are gone. Just like that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

what's the rush? and a certain 80s movie

Ever notice when people are in a hurry but they don’t want to be?
The urgency to achieve is at times like a gravitational pull, strong and unavoidable. Sometimes I get that way and then I miss lunch. Or, breakfast, as has been the case for the last several months. And then it’s really bad, because we all know how much I love food. (Breakfast is the favorite meal of the household). So, how do we stop to breathe? Or, in some cases, eat?
I have two fairly embarrassing claims – last night, I watched ‘Back to the Future’ for the first time in my life. And I liked it. (Not entirely sure if I should be more embarrassed of the former or the latter). Of course, I laughed my way through most of the movie…much to the delight of Ben and Amanda, whose house we watched the movie at (thanks guys). But as I said to them last night, I’m sure, had I been ten years younger, I would have been in absolute awe of things like make-believe flux capacitors and cars that run on plutonium. Alas, now, I know too much. So I just laughed, especially every time someone commented on Michael J. Fox’s “life preserver”, and enjoyed the movie and the predominantly Huey Lewis & the News soundtrack (two songs played at different intervals over and over again….you gotta love the 80s), and am definitely looking forward to parts two and three.
The good news is that the Flame Orange down vest is back in vogue, and I need to get one this Fall.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

postponing things like dishes and laundry

The thing is, sometimes I get so busy that the laundry doesn't get done for two weeks. I just got this distinct memory of my sophomore year of college, talking on the phone to my aunt Minu who kept asking me "you don't do laundry for three weeks?!? are you telling me that you have twenty-one pairs of underwear?" Yikes. And I thought I had grown since college. The laundry is one thing. Dishes are another. In the effort to not only be green-conscious, but also be frugal, we got into this habit of using only tupperware containers and not using any ziploc bags to take lunch to work, etc. The downside is...nobody has time to do dishes during the week, and it's kind of become a routine to just do all the dishes at once on Saturday or Sunday. (Let's face it, that's more efficient anyway). But...during the week, the dishes from our sink spill over onto the kitchen counter and the whole thing becomes this eyesore of fifteen to twenty used tupperware containers sitting there, all needing to be washed. Yuck. I can't believe it myself sometimes. But the dishes are getting done today! As will the laundry. I can do it, I know I can.
So anyway, yesterday, we went into Madison to run some errands and stock up on some pantry necessities like a ten-lb bag of Basmati rice, tamarind paste, and fresh mangoes from the Asian store. Our first stop was REI, to get a new bicycle seat for Ryan and possibly investigate a pair of nylon hiking pants for me. We love REI. The smell of brand new bikes, and the tempting display of brightly colored kayaks in the windows are enough to get anyone's adrenaline pumping. But bearing in mind that everything in that store is outrageously overpriced, and being responsible, we came away with nothing. So, we ventured the half-mile east to Dick's Sporting Goods instead. We didn't find a bicycle seat, since the selection was miserable. But we both got nylon hiking pants, and I even scored a pair of black Reebok running shorts on clearance. No sticker shock here. Beautiful!

Friday, June 20, 2008

my first pesto!!!

I had fun yesterday evening. I picked about 3 cups of fresh basil (from my garden!) and made pesto. It turned out really well too! After all the effort, I only got about one and a half cups worth. But who cares! I made pesto and that's all that matters. I set aside about half for our friends Eric and Becky, and another half for a girl I work with who likes pesto, and then Ryan and I sopped up the pesto from the bottom and sides of the mixie (food processor) with bread.

Then we went to visit Eric and Becky and their two day old baby boy. He is the cutest, pinkest, wrinkliest, most adorable little 5lb baby boy that I have ever seen. What a sweet little fellow.

I woke up bright and early this morning, slightly determined to end the work-week on a very good note, still energized from the successful pesto endeavor. I washed my face, turned the oven on to preheat, and Lola and I took off on our morning walk. Then I stepped into the garden to check up on it (partly out of worry that the two-thirds of the pesto plant I picked off last night would not grow back). I showered and changed for work, put on coffee, and made cinnamon rolls.....much to Ryan's surprise and delight (since we really haven't had a good breakfast on a workday in a while).

Today is going to be a fantastic day. I just know it. And I made pesto.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Sometimes, don’t you just feel like screaming at people?

“Africa is not a country, you moron!”

“Use your blinker, you blockhead!”

“What were you thinking wearing that hideous outfit??”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

it's a miracle!

OK. So I have had this extreme craving for fruits (particularly strawberries) for the last two days. This afternoon, the craving was at its crest of strength. The banana and quarter cantaloupe from this morning just wasn’t doing it for me. And, I hadn’t brought anything else with me from home, and there were mostly non-fruit items in my desk drawer. So I did the unthinkable.

In my desk drawer, I found a mandarin orange fruit cup that had to be at least a year old. And I ate it!!!

I know, I know. I shouldn’t have. It was highly revolting, mostly sugar, and didn’t even satisfy the craving. By the time I ate the fifth orange segment (there weren’t many more) I threw the whole thing in the garbage. Aaargh. By the way, where did all the fiber disappear? I looked on the nutrition label and there were 0 grams of fiber. I thought oranges were fiber-rich!?! Leave it to the food processing industry to take fiber naturally found in food out of it, my eyes were opened to this notion in the highly entertaining and informative ‘In Defense of Food’.

So, I got home from work and Ryan was already back. I dumped my bag and keys on the counter when I saw.....a Wal-mart bag full of fresh strawberries!!! I asked Ryan about it and he said it was hanging on the front doorknob when he got home. It turned out to be from the garden of our good friends Jill and Jeremy (thanks guys!!!) How had they known that I was craving strawberries? Ok, so they hadn't. But I guess small miracles do happen.


I learned a new word this weekend. D.I.N.K.s. So, it’s not actually a word, it’s an acronym. D.I.N.K.s = Double Income No Kids. Apparently, that’s what Ryan and I are. And, apparently, it’s supposed to be this awesome thing – doing crazy adventurous things throwing caution to the wind, no worries about hiring babysitters, taking off on a weekend trip for two at the last minute….etc. etc.

And it rocks!

We wouldn’t have even known this if it weren’t for our good friend Ben, who labeled us this way. Ben happens to be a S.I.N.K. I’ll give you a dollar if can guess what that is.

The weekend was great. I went to my first ever (and first of many more) Wisconsin Dairy breakfast!! I learned all about the benefits of milk and dairy products, enjoyed a hearty breakfast, and supported my local farming community. Well, I didn’t really learn anything, but they had pretty posters on the walls of the breakfast seating area (barn) that explained it all. We went with our good friend Ben, his wife, two adorable little girls, and assorted family members (theirs)…..which was great, because I had an excuse to visit the petting zoo (also at the dairy breakfast – don’t you just love Wisconsin?). I touched a baby Shetland pony, calves, baby goats, and baby pigs, which was wonderful. I also let a cow lick my hand.

The weather was nice, so we decided to work off the breakfast with a bike ride. Our friend Ben, who had not ridden in a while, had just gotten a brand new bike and was anxious to break it in. Unfortunately, we hadn’t even made it to the trail yet when Ben took a nasty fall. His wife had to come pick him up. Poor Ben. I don’t know if Ryan and I were upset over the experience or if we were just lazy, because we didn’t get very far on the ride...we turned around at the 45 minute mark.

Rain wasn’t very far away so we decided on indoor fun for the rest of the day by running errands in Madison and watching the Sex and the City movie!!! I love that my husband goes to watch these types of movies with me. And, it was great!!! We laughed, we cried, and laughed some more. We even snuck in Pringles and Lindt milk chocolate. What a fantastic viewing experience. Then we proceeded onto a lovely dinner at a Steakhouse we hadn’t been to yet (don’t you just love new places?) We ordered a heavenly bottle of Pinot Noir, and had a leisurely dinner. After I had giggled my way through my third and a half glass of wine we decided it was time to head home. It worked out well that I drank most of the bottle, because my wonderful husband drove me home :-)

Sunday was probably even more relaxing. I weeded and mulched the garden, we watched two and a half movies, spent some quality time with Lola, and ate all kinds of fun leftovers from the Bermuda triangle that is our fridge. What a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


If there were one thing that I could eat over and over again, every day, for the rest of my life, it would be bacon. Extra crispy. No questions asked. Now, they make a low-sodium kind, so there you have it, it is healthy too.

That is what we had for breakfast this morning, with a bleu-cheese fritatta, cinnamon rolls (no icing), and fresh brewed coffee....which gave us much-needed energy for our hour and a half-long bike ride into Governor Dodge State Park and back.

We were supposed to go to a party this afternoon/evening, in a town about thirty minutes north of here, but there is a tornado warning issued for our county and thunderstorms are still brewing south and south-west of us, so we decided to stay put at home.

I put the afternoon to good use and cut up vegetables for dinner - Som Tam (spelling?) with sticky rice.

Am I food-obsessed?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

escaping the ceremony

Recently, a lot of people have been talking about graduation – their grandchildren, children, nieces and nephews are all graduating – high-school, middle school, college, and even kindergarten. I heard about ceremonies at school, parties and open-houses being planned, gifts being given, and various other surprises for the graduates in their lives...and most of all, the stress that was being caused by all the activities related to these events.

All this talk of graduation made me think back to my own graduations. In India, since graduation is not something as widely celebrated, my own High School graduation was a very low-key affair. My grandparents, mom and I went out to a nice Chinese dinner. At school, a simple prayer was said for the entire 12th class, and we had the relief of knowing that we were done with those horrible government exams, and that was the extent of all celebration.

My College graduation, although still low-key on my part, was very different. There was a lot of excitement and activities put forth by the University; my peers were all very excited to walk across the stage in cap and gown and receive their diplomas from the Chancellor. I, however, was not too keen at the prospect of sweating in a polyester gown and awful scratchy cap for six hours. So, I skipped the ceremony entirely and spent the week in San Francisco with my boyfriend...which was a very smart move. I got more value out of the experiences and memories of that trip than I would have ever received from attending and participating in the graduation ceremony. I was not particularly interested in the ceremony itself, my family members weren’t here to enjoy why should I have bothered?

My point is that graduating is an honor, and it should be a moment of pride, primarily for the stress needed. It is a time to celebrate. Maybe the celebration involves walking across a stage to receive your cap and gown and having a party so your family and friends can honor you. Or maybe it comes with your own quiet recognition of knowing what you achieved, from the comfort of a cushy vacation spot far, far away.

I am glad I chose the latter.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

when it really counts

It is Wednesday afternoon and you're at work. Your morning dose of caffeine has worn off and it is all you can do to stay focused. It is a sunny day, seventy-two degrees outside, and you feel like the birds are chirping your name. You are counting down the minutes to five o'clock. The week moves on at a snail's pace and Friday finally rolls around. You cannot be more thrilled as you exit the building and head

You've been there. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Friday afternoon. No work looming ahead of you. A welcome Sabbath. You enjoy the rush of joy floating to your head.

We started our weekend on Friday afternoon by walking the dog, enjoying some time in
the garden, relaxing on the couch and watching funny things on television or just lounging and reading. For dinner, we made linguine with white clam sauce accompanied by a perfectly chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Then, we took the dog on a pre-bedtime walk, and played with the Border collie puppies one street over (they have gotten so big!) What a wonderful Friday.

Saturday was even better. I woke up, after a refreshing night's sleep to beautiful morning sunrays streaming in through our bedroom window. I put coffee on and then Lola and I took off on our morning walk. Upon returning, she collapsed in the middle of the kitchen floor while I made Cinnamon rolls. Then Lola and I spent a few minutes in the backyard. I pulled weeds out of my beautiful vegetable garden, lifting my head on and off to watch Lola eat grass and dandelions and subsequently throw up
(of course). I'll never cease to wonder why she doesn't learn :-) Ryan and I then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of coffee, cinnamon rolls, and scrumptious egg-white quesadillas while watching an episode of The Alaska Experiment (that is such an addictive show). And then...the highlight of the day - we geared up for an amazing two and a half-hour bike ride. We biked all the way to Ridgeway and back, stopping a few times to smell the wildflowers and admire the breathtaking scenery. We got home and topped off our sandwich lunch with Root-beer floats! Then, in the afternoon, we went bowling with the Flessners and smiled as two-year old Hannah rolled the eight-pound ball down the alley. For dinner, Ryan and I were both craving steak so we grilled sirloin and had baked potatoes and some wine with it. After dinner we went over to the Flessners to watch Spaceballs (I watched it for the first time, and man, was it funny!!), and play with the kids. I got to hold Samantha for the longest time and it was so much fun.

Sunday - another joy-filled day. Lola turned one year old! We got up at our own pace.... walked Lola, and then got ready for church. We waited until we got home from church to give Lola her present - a huge meaty knuckle bone - which she spent most of her day chewing down to barely anything! Ryan then ran errands, while I enjoyed some time alone at home doing laundry and picking up a few things around the house. Then I
headed over to the first of this summer's hvcc women's activities. I got to relax by the pool, met a few new people, and the lady did such great job organizing it, with fruits and cold drinks on hand. Then, more relaxation at home...a delicious dinner, lounging on the couch and reading, and the season premiere of The Food Network Star!!!

I could not have come up with a better way to end a tiresome work-week.
I knew that we had to have a special weekend. It had to count.

And ours certainly did.