Hello from Milwaukee! Last Friday after my anatomy lab, Ryan and I went cross country skiing! According to the Milwaukee Parks website, any of the parks in the city are free game for skiing, there are just no maintained trails. So, we suited up and went for an adventure! Some parts were easier than others. It was exciting when going over fresh snow, because sometimes just one ski would sink about a foot into the snow. Needless to say, we both went down a few times, but we had a lot of fun!
Selfies after I calmed my grumpiness down a bit. I was initially uncomfortable with what felt like randomly skiing in the middle of the city.
Thanks to this boy for helping me try new things! We were able to rent our gear for free from Ryan's workplace.
Last week we decided to cook up some pizza. We made a large batch of dough awhile back and had two crusts remaining in the freezer. I love making pizza with Ryan because we always use whatever we have on hand at the time and end up with some fun combinations! This time we got pretty fancy. We covered the dough with basil infused olive oil, topped that with chili pesto, then added southwest style cheese, mild cheddar, aged Parmesan, green onion, and sliced turkey that we fried in a pan.
So yummy. Adding the olive oil to the crust was great while the pizza was fresh, but did make it a little chewy when I reheated it the next day (there was only one piece leftover because we ate so much the night before). What should we put on our next pizza?
I walked to the grocery store last Sunday. It was warm out (40 degrees felt like spring after the polar vortex of the week before!) so I wore my summery shoes, not thinking about the fact there were snow piles everywhere and melting puddles in the streets. Oops! School got super crazy last week. My picture taking went down and coffee consumption went up. One moment that brightened an evening was Ryan making me a snack consisting of the rest of a tub of ice cream filled with chocolate chips and a glass a wine. Very much appreciated that evening haha!
One of my favorite things is a big, leisurely breakfast. These were my favorites from last week. Ryan and I made scrambled eggs with ham and mushrooms, toast with raspberry jelly, coffee, and a side of fruit (left). Later in the week I had leftover vegetable curry, eggs with sriracha, blackberries and clementines, and lots of coffee.
Ryan ordered a 3D printer and has been assembling it over the last couple weeks. It's now in working order! He printed this toy boat last night as a test and it is so cute! I'm definitely want to put it in my next bubble bath!!
Yesterday was super crazy. I saved some school work to do for the weekend, realized I misread my course website and discovered I had even more work to do, and ended up working almost nonstop from when I work up at 8:00 am to about 7:30 pm! I was so over school last night!! Thankfully this morning I had a coffee date with one of my oldest friends. It was so good to see her again! We found a cute coffee shop in the Third Ward that was surprisingly quiet for a Sunday morning and talked for almost three hours. Then we rode the HOP (the new streetcar system) through downtown Milwaukee! I've been wanting to try this since it opened!
After coffee, my roommate and I went to Colectivo to study the remainder of the afternoon. It was a productive work session! We ended it by going to Belair for tacos. I were so ready to treat ourselves by the time we got there because we slipped so many times on the walk over! There was a snow shower this afternoon and the sidewalks weren't sure if they should be covered in ice or puddles, so they decided on both! I tried all new tacos tonight: housemade chorizo, fried avocado and bacon, and roasted root vegetable. They were all amazing! When I got home this evening, I realized my cactus is growing little babies! They're so cute but I have no idea what to do once they're big enough to not need the parent.
That's been the start to my February. Life is crazy, but the little moments make me smile. Have a good week, and thanks for reading!
I think I might do two recaps a month because the events from the start of January feel like ages ago! I had some good times during my last few days at home before returning to Milwaukee. My family had a game night where we played Exploding Kittens, Uno, and Yahtzee. We also had a fancy "clean out the fridge" night where we finished random bags of crackers, cheese, pepperonis, vegetables, and pickles. We nommed while watching NCIS: New Orleans.
My mom and I went to a local vegetarian restaurant called Black Walnut Kitchen. We had some great French pressed coffee. I have been here three times now and have enjoyed my meal each time. To keep the ingredients local and in-season, the menu has looked different on each visit!
I had their Indian Vegetable Biryani dish that had vegetables, rice, yogurt dressing, raisins, and lots of spices! It came with their house salad that has really good buttermilk dill ranch dressing.
Chilling out enjoying the last day at home. I hung out in my mom's new attic studio space (it's only partially finished in these photos) doing some computer work and cuddled a lot with my dog. He's such a sweetie!
Below we have the cat using Buzz as a pillow and him not having a care in the world about it.
Back to Milwaukee! I had one sugary coffee drink on the way back because my new year's resolution to cut it out completely slipped my mind. Once of twice for the month of January. When I got back to Milwaukee, I continued with the minimalist game challenge where you get rid of the same number of items as the days of the month. This was a messy process so I only took pictures at random when I remembered. Needless to say, I completed the "game!" I didn't think I had that much stuff, but I did! My room feels so much tidier without all the extra stuff. I want to try the challenge again in May before I move, but only for 15 days.
My roomie and I went ice skating at Red Arrow Park. We tried to go on the last day of November but it was closed, so we got our redemption! We had a great time, and neither of us wiped out during the two hours we were there! Afterwards we headed to Belair for tacos. I was so hungry I didn't bother taking photos. I was surprised when one of the bills I received as change had the name "Ryan" with a heart next to it written on it. Ryan is my boyfriend's name, so this incident just seemed slightly unbelievable! How strange!
Back on campus! I returned to campus the week before classes resumed to do some training in the research lab I work in. We just started working on a new component of our study, so there was a lot of work to do! Basically I spent the whole last week of break working at my two jobs.
Ryan got a cool plant for his apartment from Fresh Thyme Market. I'll have to make a trip there to check out their selection, because he got a way better deal on this cute pot than I got on my plants in the Third Ward. I also discovered a weird latte flavor that's pretty good. I ordered two cases of Nut Pods coffee creamers last summer in a failed attempt to cut down my sugar consumption while drinking coffee. These looked good online, but I tried them in coffee and they were all terrible! The vanilla lemon flavors have been sitting in my cabinet for months. I finally found a use for them! When I steam soy milk for lattes, I add few tablespoons of the creamer and a packet of stevia and it turns out quite pleasant!
Meal prep for the first week of school. I made a pasta salad with Banza noodles, broccoli, tomatoes, olives, string cheese, and Italian dressing, along with a pot of spinach tortellini soup. The soup was good, but the tortellini sucked up all the broth after being put in the fridge so it turned out more like a regular pasta dish.
More cooking adventures! One of my upcoming posts features the recipe below. I tried a dish at Cafe Hollander called "Sweet Potato Noshers" and was inspired to create a version at home. Below is a simplified version Ryan and I made one morning that doesn't contain the full list of ingredients and also has scrambled eggs instead of sunny-side up. More on this to come!
The first snow of Milwaukee happened right before the start of classes! All hell broke loose weather-wise later, but on that night Ryan and I took a walk around town and made snow angels all over the place for people to find later.
Date nights: a huge bowl of ice cream, wine, and the movie "Clue." I found out that when the movie was first in theaters, each theater received just one of the three possible endings! That movie is always good for a laugh. And another when we convinced ourselves to go salsa dancing at the Milwaukee Art Museum, but due to the weather and not entirely feeling it we went out for drinks instead. The third picture from the left looks random at first, but if you look on the top left shelf there is a garden gnome encrusted with disco ball mirrors! So funny!
Ryan and I took a walk through Lake Park to enjoy the first, fresh snow. You can read more about it in a separate post here.
The first week of classes started with a bang. I did some cooking during the weekend to get ready for week 2. I made Moroccan Winter Detox Soup (my favorite lately), cream cheese stuffed bagel bites, and slow cooker Cajun soup.
Week 2 of school ended up being pretty crazy. Three of the five days were canceled, one due to a heavy snowstorm and the other two from the polar vortex. I was definitely feeling a little stir crazy by the end of the week! I did as much school work as I could and practiced making home lattes. The cold started seeping into our apartment, but we managed to stay fairly warm. Ryan and his roommates had a game night for some friends in our apartment complex. We played games and drank hot chocolate and it helped lift everyone's moods.
That wraps up my January! Now a little bit on my resolutions if you're curious:
Overall, my new year's resolutions are going pretty well. I met my blog goal of publishing one post a week and made vast improvements on my minimal spending challenge. I still made some unnecessary purchases, but fewer than usual and I was able to save an okay chunk of money even after all my school expenses. I'm also still deciding on a practical grocery budget. I have only had two sugary coffee drinks so far this month, so that is pretty much on track as well. I am still struggling with my meal prep and portion control. My goal was to make a set meal plan to follow, but recipes have been hit and miss so that is still in the works. I also made gains in following the physical activity guidelines, but I am still not quite there. I'll unabashedly blame part of it on the weather during which time we had to stay indoors for safety, but the other part was totally on me! Lastly, I met met my minimalism challenge goals and donated/trashed 495 items! Now I'm going to try to adopt the "one in, one out" rule going forward.
Thanks for reading! :)
One of my resolutions for the new year is to follow the recommended physical activity guidelines established by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. My undergraduate degree is in kinesiology, the study of physical activity. Despite my knowledge of the health benefits of physical activity, however, I do not regularly meet them! I want to be a better practitioner of what I preach. The main guidelines are as follows:
If you would like to learn more about the physical activity guidelines, check out this wonderful pdf guide created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
I decided to do some research on what exercises work each of the major muscle groups. I divided the categories into arms, abs, and legs. I picked 10 exercises for each major group. I made this workout with the intention it can be completed in 30 minutes. I usually use an interval timer and do each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 second break between moves, but feel free to modify it to work for you, such as 30 seconds for work and rest! My main goal in sharing this is to help other people incorporate more strength training into their weeks because this was the area of the guidelines I struggled with the most.
Mini disclaimer: I am not a certified personal trainer. I study physical activity and how the body works, but that does not mean I know the proper form for all exercises and whether this workout is right for you. Sources for more information these exercises: source, source, source.
The muscle groups I targeted for the arms and upper body include the chest (bench press, cactus arms), back (rows, deadlifts in the legs category), shoulders (shoulder press, shoulder shrug), triceps (triceps overhead press, triceps extension), biceps (bicep curls, hammer curls), and forearms (wrist curls).
The muscle groups I targeted for legs include the glutes (squats), quadriceps (squats, plie squats, squat kicks, lunge kicks), hamstrings (stiff-legged deadlift, one-legged deadlift), abductors and adductors (side leg lifts), and calves (calf raises).
The muscle groups I targeted for abs include the upper abs, lower abs, and transverse abdominals. Each move targets a little bit of all of them in different proportions.
I hope you all can take away something from this post. I have been interested in creating a workout guide for a long time but wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about it. I ended up making gifs of all the moves rather than using photos or sharing video footage. A special thanks to my boyfriend Ryan for helping me film the snippets and remaining helpful even when I got frustrated and self-conscious. I wasn’t really sure what to do with my face during the recordings. I was tempted to leave my face blank, but Ryan thought expression would be better and kept trying to get me to smile and laugh. I was much more comfortable at the end of the workout film sessions. I tried to model the proper postures, but some of these moves still challenge me. We had to film the single-leg deadlifts for a long time because I tipped over quite a few times! And I had a small slip during one of my side planks… 😉
Thanks for reading!
Hello from Milwaukee! We've had a shock of snow and freezing temperatures during the past week. On my social media, people always joke about how terrible winters in Wisconsin are. However, the last few years have been surprisingly mild. Now, though, we are having a true winter! We've had two large snowstorms and another is supposedly on its way this weekend. Windchill warnings are in place for this weekend and the coming week. Yesterday before I left for class, my local weather app said temp of negative 6 but feels like negative 24! Yikes! Here are some photos of last Monday of a trek Ryan and I made to Lake Park after the first major snow and before the temps got too cold.
The snow appeared to have blown the snow up and then frozen it in midair all along the park fence railings. I haven't been to Lake Park in quite awhile, and going after the first snow while everything is still white and undisturbed was beautiful.
Winter parkour! Just kidding lol. Maybe by my definitions. I enjoy the last photo where all my hair is flying and my winter gear is hitting me in the face!
I don't have any remarks about the next few photos other than, "aren't they pretty?" so I'll share a couple life updates. My goals for the new year are off to a moderate start. Some have been easier than others and in my monthly recap post next week I will go into more specifics on successes and how to work harder on others to make them happen. I have been back at school for one week and the semester has started with a bang. I have two part-time jobs and seven classes, so I'm still adjusting to the onslaught of due dates and work scheduling. I am adjusting my meal prep goals so that I can cook a greater number of new recipes. Ryan and I made Thai food the night after this trip to the park and it was delicious and I cannot wait to share. This weekend I hope to try some recipes for Cajun soup and bagels (totally unrelated to each other).
The North Lighouthouse Ravine Trail is a cute little trail to take to get from the park to the lakefront. It has some wooden stairs and bridges along with a small waterfall that made some cool shapes as it froze over.
I took a panorama shot of the waterfall and surrounding area in addition to the photo below, but it was too large to upload (with my free service). This photo gets the point across though.
Park meets lakefront.
Milwaukee has many parks within the city and I would like to explore more of them! I have been growing more comfortable with exploring the city the longer I've been here. When I first moved for college, I was scared to step more than a couple blocks off campus! But, the longer I've stayed the better the map of the city I have in my head and the smaller it actually seems!
I hope you all enjoy your weekends. For the remainder of the weekend I have quite a bit of work to get done for school, but I plan on finishing the images for my 30-minute Strength Workout post, along with cooking the recipes I mentioned above. I was going to see some family today, but one member ended up ill, so my plans were cleared. There is a high of 9 later today so I might venture out to the grocery store, but otherwise I'll probably stay in and work from home!
This is my first Harry Potter post of the year. I have been a Harry Potter fan ever since I could read and I am currently on the seventh book of my fourteenth reread of the series! I kinda like it a lot!! I find it entertaining to dream about what I would be like as a wizard attending Hogwarts and have decided to share those magical thoughts here.
Favorite Shops in Diagon Alley
Wizarding World Pet
Favorite Hogwarts Classes
Favorite Shops in Hogsmeade
fifth book, the shop also sells coffee. I am a coffee lover, and the beverage is mentioned little in the Harry Potter world besides this shop, so I would make a beeline for it whenever Hogsmeade visits took place. I would love to try a butterbeer latte (recipe in progress).
Favorite Wizarding Treats
This concludes my Harry Potter Wizard Profile. I had a lot of fun researching the world of Harry Potter to narrow down my selections and drawing the pictures used throughout this post! I plan on creating three more Harry Potter themed posts this year during which I answer some "tag" questions and try out some Harry Potter recipes I've found online. Until then, thanks for reading!
Resolutions. Goals for the New Year. Wishes for a better future. Whatever you call them, these are my goals for 2019. Warning: text-heavy post ahead!!
Publish one post per week. While reviewing what I posted last year, I noticed how irregular and unplanned my posts seemed to be and how the overall blog seemed to lack focal points. During this past week of my long winter break I have been creating an outline for the coming year. I've decided to focus on my lifestyle, restaurants and places to visit in Milwaukee, a little bit of travel, and a few nerdy Harry Potter posts. Lifestyle posts will encompass more information on my life as a college student, healthy eating on a budget (~$30 a week), and quick, efficient workouts (some of which can be done at home while watching Netflix). Right now I share a little about the city I live in, but I want to make enough individual posts to have a dedicated Milwaukee tab in my navigation bar full of my favorite places that others can use as a guide if they ever plan on visiting the city. As for travel, I do have a couple trips planned for this year that will get their own separate posts. However, they will not be a huge focus due to college, two jobs, and no car. And, lastly, some Harry Potter fun posts. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan (I'm currently on the fifth book of my fourteenth read through the series) and I found a bunch of themed recipes and blog tags I thought I would share on the blog since it is a big part of my life.
Minimal Spending Challenge. My goal for this semester is to save as much of my income as possible. To kick start this goal, I'm limiting what I spend money on. There are some unavoidable expenses that I will make exceptions for this month, including rent, utility bills, my minimum credit card payment, course materials for school, and groceries (max of $30 a week). I also have two pre-planned purchases I will make using money I had already saved for a trip with my sister that has since been canceled: an anniversary present for Ryan and a plane ticket for spring break my roommate and I have been anticipating for months but for which we were waiting for a good deal on. Things I will not be spending money on this month and semester include: drinks from coffee shops (I will use my at-home latte maker more instead), "treat yo-self" purchases at the drugstore (last semester I would go to the store and spend $30+ on unneeded face masks, chocolate, etc.), random groceries (I will now make lists and set budgets instead of shopping on a whim), and online shopping. My goal is to plan spending out ahead of time at the start of each month for things such as date nights, outings with friends, and thrift store shopping to build up my professional wardrobe. I also have a $100 cash "fun/coffee" budget from a side hustle over winter break to spend throughout the semester as I please.
Decrease Sugar Consumption. Something that has been weighing on my mind is that my favorite coffee creamers have 5 grams of added sugar per tablespoon. I use 1 tablespoon per cup...and drink anywhere between 2 and 6 cups of coffee per day. Not to mention the amount of sugar in coffee syrups when I buy drinks from cafes! To help remedy this, I am making the switch to half n' half and plain lattes. This has been an adjustment, but I'm getting there. 1 tablespoon of half n' half is enough to cut the bitterness to drinkable and only has 0.5 grams of sugar. This is a huge improvement over my coffee creamers! Now I just need to keep an eye on the nutrition label for sugar when buying non-dairy milks to use for at-home coffee drinks.
Meal Prep and Portion Control. I made myself a meal plan to follow while I am in Milwaukee. My plan is vegetable heavy and has rotating dinner plans and flexible weekend allowances to keep it interesting. I don't mind eating the same plan for days in a row, which is good since I typically cook for just myself! I also ordered a kitchen scale in December to use so I can measure my portions accurately and get a better visual idea of serving sizes for when I don't use the scale. I'll be sharing my meal plan once I've cycled through the four dinners so I have photos of each recipe.
Follow the Physical Activity Guidelines. As a kinesiology major, I am very familiar with the physical activity recommendations. However, this does not mean I follow them. I should practice what I'm be preaching, so it is my goal to reach the recommendations this year. This means at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, along with working all the major muscle groups 2 times each week. While visiting my parents I am using my mom's elliptical and walking, but once back in Milwaukee I will hit the gym to execute some of the workouts I have been planning. For strength, I have designed a 30-minute body weight and dumbbell routine that hits all of the major muscle groups. I'm planning a separate post dedicated to this workout that includes images of each move.
Complete the 30-Day Minimalism Game: Each day, get rid of one more item than the day before. On January 1st, 1 item. The 2nd, 2 items. On the 30th day, 30 items. In total, this challenge would have me eliminate 495 items! I want to say I don't even own that many items, but that's probably a false statement. I will complete the challenge to the best of my ability and have started counting while sorting through my childhood bedroom. The challenge will wrap up in Milwaukee, and should assist me for my upcoming apartment move at the end of the semester!
Adopt a "one in, one out" rule when purchasing new items: Every time buy something that’s not a consumable (food, shampoo, etc.), I donate or get rid of one I do not need or use. For example, if I buy a new sweater, when I get home I look through my existing sweaters and donate one I no longer wear. As a new one comes in, an old one goes out. I will start enforcing this rule after completing the 30-Day Minimalism Game.
This concludes my main resolutions! So far, so good, other than one sugary coffee drink slip-up my family got for me on our drive back to Milwaukee this week. I hope I'm not getting too far ahead of myself, but since all I am doing next week is training for one of my jobs and working remotely for the other, I am putting together materials for three more blog posts by the end of January. One is my first Harry Potter post, the second my strength workout guide, and the last is my first Milwaukee restaurant spotlight post. I really think having my whole outline for the year will help me stay on track. Thanks for reading!
How was the start to your new year? The first week of the year has already gone by, so I hope if you made resolutions they are going well! Time to rewind. Last Sunday (still December), Ryan and I went to New Glarus before heading to Madison to go shopping at thrift stores. Outside a coffee shop, we saw some salty footprints of a person who has a pair of those funky toe shoes. I found the prints very fascinating so I thought I would share the photo. We went into Fat Cat Coffee for some savory crescent rolls and a butter toffee latte to share. I found two sweaters and a sweater shirt (which I'm wearing in the coffee photo at the bottom of this post) at Goodwill and scored a great deal on all of them. I often forget about buying clothes used and want to do it more. It's a form of recycling and you can get some really good prices!
I celebrated New Year's Eve with two of my closest high school friends drinking champagne, snacking on fondue, and lots of laughing.
On New Year's Day, my family celebrated a late Christmas with my dad's side of the family. We saw some family that we haven't seen in over four years, so that was interesting! A late Christmas gift from Ryan arrived in the mail and it tickled me pink! He got me a Harry Potter wine glass that says "It's MimOsa, not MimosA!" While at Aldis with my mom, I found a llama head on a stick. Do you remember the old horse heads on a stick that you used to pretend to ride around on? Llamas gained popularity this year for whatever reason (though I swear I liked them before they were cool!) and this llama head brought back lots of memories. Also, in one of my last recap posts I shared that an ornament on a tree in Milwaukee looked like a roll of toilet paper and reminded me of an art project I made in high school. Well, while reorganizing my mom's home studio after moving her out of her old one, we found it!
How to make awesome guacamole: 3 ripe avocados, 4 shoots of green onion, 1 roma tomato, and salt, pepper, garlic power, onion powder, and Cajun seasoning to taste.
We picked up some cat toys at the store because our cat Smoky has been extremely playful lately. We discovered, however, that the cat does not like catnip and apparently our dog Buzz does! Buzz has never played with any kind of toy since the day we got him, but would not leave the catnip toys alone! He chased the toys when we threw them (though he does not know how to fetch and bring them back), pranced around the living room, hopped up and down, and chewed the toys until there were holes in them! It was the strangest thing!
The cat, on the other hand, ignored the new toys. As soon as he saw them, he crawled under the TV stand and dug out a really old toy he apparently hid under there ages ago (we don't clean under there very often lol). That was the only toy he was interested in!
On Thursday, Ryan and I had breakfast at a coffee shop called Perks. We each ordered a croissant sandwich and Ryan had cinnamon toast (super yummy: toast with butter, sugar, and brown sugar) and I ordered a praline latte with soy milk.
After that we hit the road to deliver some late Christmas gifts to Ryan's sisters. We ended up only visiting one, but it was great to see her again. Our schedules do not line up very well during the holidays and it has been almost two years since I last saw either of them!
On Friday I started coming down with a cold, so Ryan and I stayed in for the morning and watched The Greatest Showman. I love that movie and cried most of the way through. Afterwards, we walked around the neighborhood and pointed out architectural elements we liked on the houses we saw. In the evening, my parents, sister, and I went to a pizza restaurant for dinner and then to Menards. My parents took us along, but usually that is how they spend their date nights! They have been completing lots of home renovations lately and they usually go out for a nice meal after shopping at the hardware stores! This Saturday morning my sister and I went out for coffee, in part for the yummy drinks, but also to have a conversation just the two of us. We talked about creative writing ideas and how life is going.
Now I'm going to share some general New Year's Resolutions I made. I will go into more detail with them in my next post, which I'm aiming to have done by next Saturday. One goal of mine this year is to write four blog posts each month. Most will be about my life, as this blog is kind of like a personal journal for me since I do not like writing in a physical book, but some will also be content I have been developing while on my winter break.
Biggest New Year's Resolutions
This post is going to be an overview of some of the gifts I gave away during the holiday season. By sharing this, I hope to give you some ideas for the future because I know it can be hard to shop for people. The first gift I made is a BMO (from Adventure Time) tree ornament. I ordered supplies from etsy.com and made this ornament using a ton of reference pictures online. I have leftover supplies and hope to make even more ornaments for people next year. It's nice because they can be customized to the person you are giving them to.
I also got Ryan a "Grow a Beard" kit containing a wooden comb, hard bristle brush, beard oil, and beard balm. He's been interested in maintaining his facial hair, so I got him some items to help. I also got him a crazy long holiday hat! He has been acquiring a collection of interesting hats to wear on game nights or whenever the mood strikes, and this hat fits the bill.
For my sister, I got a pack of essential oils and a set of lava stones + lava stone necklace holder. She is moving to a four-year college next fall and is not permitted to have oil diffusers, candles, and whatnot in her dorm. She loves essential oils though, so this set will help her to still be able to use them. I also found her a school planner at Barnes and Noble. She needed a planner and the "Sarah's Scribbles" comics are right up her alley, so this was a fun find! Lastly, I got her a set of fun smelling facial wipes and face masks from CVS. Self-care materials are almost always an appreciated gift, and you can change the scents/styles to match the recipient.
I got my mom a sample coffee pack of blends from Stone Creek Coffee. She has been looking to expand what coffees she drinks, so this is a good way for her to try out new flavors and roasts! I also added some new oven mits and hot pads to her box because she has been wanting to replace her current ones and I like to give practical gifts. I got my dad a funny t-shirt related to our Colorado trip we took last May. He was tickled by all the BigFoot-sighting warning signs on the roadways, so I got him a BigFoot holiday shirt. I also got him some socks to match his work pants, again as a practical gift. For my parents combined, I got a card game related to the funny YouTube Simon's Cat videos along with a homemade tree ornament of our dog Buzz wearing a mini version of his "ugly" holiday sweater.
I made a a sort of "template" for gifts for my female friends consisting of fuzzy socks + chap stick + a yummy treat. I did my best to match the colors and flavors to the personalities of the people receiving them. Additionally, I also added an edible treat to each bag that the person would appreciate. Some items I knew, while others I guessed. This year I am going to expand my knowledge of what treats people enjoy. Some of the consumables I got were alcoholic gummy bears in the flavor of the girls' favorite drinks, chocolates, and popcorn flavorings.
I already have some gift giving ideas for next year! Some stores surprised me this season such as Menards (where I found Ryan's crazy hat) and Aldis (for gourmet chocolates and other consumables) and I will definitely shop there next holiday season. I also have a note in my phone containing ideas for gifts. Any time someone says they want or like something, I add it to the note. That way, when I'm picking out a gift for them in the future, I have something to go off of. I hope you can take away a couple ideas from what I have shared here. My next post will be about my New Years goals and resolutions. If you have set goals this year, I hope you are already off to a good start! Happy New Year!
Hello! I'm squishing two December posts into one because I got carried away with the end of the semester and want to share all my Christmas adventures before we get too far away from the holidays and everyone is ready to put it away until next year. Let's step back a couple weeks to when I visited the Milwaukee Public Market to view their gingerbread house display. There was an interesting assortment this year. The one below of a cabin in the woods was probably my second favorite. I wasn't a huge fan of the displays modeling buildings from movies and TV shows. I'm planning on making my own gingerbread house next holiday season!
The really messy looking image in the second photo looked cooler in person. It focused on a scene inside a gingerbread house rather than the house itself. I wouldn't necessarily call it a gingerbread house per-say, but the creator did a great job making little people out of fondant!
This artist made a whole street of gingerbread buildings. There is a roadway full of penguins between the buildings. I really like this artist's icing style for the doors and windows.
My favorite gingerbread house is the one in the bottom right of the series below. It was so loaded with candy that you hardly saw any gingerbread! I thought this house was well executed and thought out because the candies fit together so seamlessly.
Before heading home to study for finals, I stopped at Anodyne Coffee at the Public Market for a honey and vanilla latte. I found their shark coffee mugs very amusing.
Over the next week I went into the "barely leave the house" mode of finals. I started making honey and almond milk lattes at home instead of going out. It worked out well with my new espresso gear and I am going to challenge myself this coming semester to make coffee drinks at home over buying them so frequently on and around campus.
Ryan and I celebrated our six year anniversary on December 18th!! We've had so many adventures since we started dating and I can't wait to see what comes next! Ryan went all out cooking dinner for us. He made homemade guacamole, tomatillo salsa, sangria, and bean burritos. The food was great and my photos did not do it justice, so I added a photo collage of us over the years instead.
Before leaving for winter break, I repotted all my succulent plants. I moved my successful propagations into bigger pots from their makeshift tupperware nursery. I am interested to see what shape they will be in when I get back to Milwaukee!
I hope you like pictures of dogs, because I have soooooo many photos with our dog Buzz.
My mom and headed to the stores to pick up some goods for the holidays. We went to the Mennonite store to pick up some bulk goods including cheddar cheese powder for popcorn and supplies for chex mix. At the regular grocers we got ingredients for meatballs, cinnamon rolls, sushi, and, of course, lots of wine!
My parents picked up this "Fa-La-La-Llama" at Menards that sings and dances. It's pretty funny! I also had Buzz try out his new coat and hat that I got him for Christmas. I'll have to make a couple adjustments on both. The jacket fits at his midsection but not around his chest. As for the hat...
Buzz has a little peanut-sized head so the hat was a pretty big. There was also nothing to secure it to his head, so he was able to dislodge it pretty quick! His face was like, "what are you doing to me??" Then my dad asked to try and put it on him, and since he is the "alpha" of our household, Buzz sat very still and tolerated the hat long enough for me to take a photo!!
The making of cinnamon rolls. This is one of my favorite family recipes. Every year we bake a ton and then deliver them to our family and friends around town.
We had a mini family Christmas celebration before heading up north to see my grandparents on the actual Christmas Eve and Day. Ryan came over and we made sushi and lo mein noodles, watched SNL Christmas videos, and unwrapped family presents. It was a good time!
Are you ready for more dog pictures? I took so many and couldn't choose which to share, so I'm just sharing all of them! We hit the road on Christmas Eve day. Once we arrived, we ate a TON of food and spent the whole evening talking.
We did some dog wrangling and took my grandparents two dogs plus Buzz out for a Christmas morning walk. One of their dogs is pretty wild and hard for them to walk on their own, so we took her out to try and get out some of her pent up energy. We also found a dog park not too far away that they can take her to so she can run and get out some of her zoomies.
My grandpa tied a present ribbon around his dog Willow. Inspired by his actions, my sister and I tied one to the collar of Buzz and my grandma's dog Regis. Buzz was so not impressed. Then we tried to take a cute photo with him, but he kept making disinterested faces.
Christmas pups: Regis hiding under a blanket wearing his red bow, Willow wearing her red ribbon and green tinsel, and Buzz chilling on the couch with his blue ribbon (mostly obscured by his ear). We balled up all our wrapping paper and had a snowball fight in my grandparent's living room after unwrapping presents. I'm not a very good shot, so my paper ball ended up in my sister's coffee instead of her actually hitting her.
Christmas spirit cheer. Floating coffee pics of this cute mug of my grandma's alongside her classic Christmas tree. And then a grandkid and dog photo. Regis was still hiding so he didn't get in the photo. We took a lot of shots, and this was the only one where all four heads were kind of looking at the camera. It was a quiet Christmas but a cheerful one.
Since getting home, my family has been working on a hefty project. My mom and her business partner have decided to say goodbye to their downtown art studio in favor of building their own home studios. My mom works at home just as often as her studio and it was getting to be a bother moving giant art pieces back and forth. So, my parents have been working hard to finish the attic of our house so my mom will have a multilevel art studio including one room from our second floor plus the whole attic. Moving everything between the two has been tiring but accomplish-able due to a family crew of eight, and today my parents are picking up the last item downtown, her giant easel, and returning the keys to the building owner. This has been quite a process, but I'm excited to see the finished home studio! These Charlie Brown stickers are the only thing left behind because they won't come off the mirror on the wall.
That wraps up December. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and are looking forward to a new year. Lots of changes are coming in 2019, and I can't wait! :)
I hope the start to your holiday season is going well! I have been finding moments to get in the spirit amidst the end-of-semester madness. I took my first final today. One down, four to go! In the meantime, I've been enjoying the holiday decorations and have started my Christmas shopping. After all gifts have been given, I plan on doing a gift review of some of the items I found for others that might give you some ideas on future holidays. The exception to this waiting is the redonkulously cute llama and flannel jacket and coat I picked out for our dog, Buzz. He can't use the internet, so the secret is safe on here!
Ryan and I took some time last week to go see the Christmas lights downtown. One interesting element was a "Singing Tree" whose lights would change depending on what sounds you made while near it. The technology wasn't perfect, but it was fun to play around with!
Yay lights! Big setups like this feel so magical!
While walking through the trees, I couldn't help but notice that one of the trees was decorated with what looked like miniature toilet paper rolls. I'm not sure if that's what they were going for or not! It reminded me of a project I made in high school art class. We were given wooden boxes and told to construct a scene on the inside, also all made out of wood. When we finished we painted them all one color (I chose white). I chose to make an the inside of an outhouse (I don't remember why) complete with a mini wooden toilet and toilet paper roll. Seeing this Christmas ornament reminded me of the art project, which I don't think my mom kept, haha!
Milwaukee also strings LED chandeliers at the intersections downtown each December.
Ryan and I wanted to make some Christmas-themed recipes. This week we tried out some non-traditional beef wellington recipes and a friend's pretzel dip. We sauteed mushrooms and onions and put them away to cool. We based it on this recipe here. For the dip, we mixed together what I thought an uncomplimentary combo that actually turned out quite addicting: 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, two blocks of cream cheese, two packets of onion soup mix, and milk as needed to get a "dip" consistency. Not healthy by any means, but yummy!
For our first wellington, we used the sauteed onions, portabella mushroom caps, spinach, mustard, and thyme. We decided if we make it again to add a lot more seasoning and maybe some loud cheese like pepper jack! I enjoyed it best with a healthy dose of salt and pepper along with some melted shredded cheddar cheese. It baked beautifully!
Check out that closeup. Scoring the pastry made it look super fancy.
We were creative with our second pastry. We used leftover sauteed onion, spinach, and mustard from the first wellington, but then added sliced ham and cheddar cheese. It turned out super good! We thought this one was a lot better than the original.
One week into December I finally put up the tree in my apartment! Last year I made 30 pinata ornaments. 10 each of donkeys, unicorns, and cacti. That's what fills up most of the tree. I also have some round colorful bulbs, a hippie van ornament, and a merman. I hope to collect at least one unique ornament per Christmas season and grow my collection from there!
Lastly, in the spirit of the holidays, I made some simple peppermint pancakes. I used the Kodiak Cakes dark chocolate protein cake mix and combined it with chocolate protein soy milk and crushed peppermin candies. I thought I would be able to smash the candies with a potato masher, but ended up having to grab the hammer from my toolkit and make quite a bit of noise for an otherwise quiet Sunday morning! I liked using the soy milk as the liquid component of the cakes. I find this flapjack mix to otherwise be a bit bland. Between the mix and the protein milk, one serving of these pancakes contained 19 grams of protein! Good deal!
Sticking with a peppermint theme, I used peppermint mocha flavoring in my coffee.
Peppermint is one of my favorite holiday latte flavors and in turn I enjoy this coffee creamer as well. I have been trying to cut down on sugar (which flavored coffee creamer is full of) so I used half a tablespoon of creamer with half a tablespoon of half and half. It took awhile to get used to but now tastes normal. In the new year I hope to adjust to just half and half so I can develop my coffee taste buds and actually be able to pick up on the differences in coffee roasts and flavor elements. That's enough about coffee and future goals for now, though. I hope you all have a great weekend! For those of you also in the midst of finals, happy studying!
Hi my name is Emilee and these are my adventures as a young adult living in Milwaukee. Here I will share my experiences as I navigate through college. Thanks for stopping by!