Monthly Archives: March 2011

Summer where are you?

Anyone who lives in the Midwest knows that spring is one big tease. March and April are really just a milder extension of winter. Yet every year I fail to learn my lesson. By the end of March I can’t help but develop a small obsession with summer.

When you wake up to sunshine and blue skies, only to discover that the average high temperature for the day is 35°, you question why your parents decided to settle here in the first place. So if you’re like me and are simply biding your time until warmer days arrive, know that you’re not alone.

What are you most looking forward to about summer?

If only Frasier could be this excited for summer. Winter dog. Sigh.

I don't even like boats, but it looks so warm.

Dairy Queen. I miss you.

Very coastie-esque, but I would like to be this girl right now.

If only.

Images via We heart it

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A natural craving

Usually pasta is one of my all-time favorite foods. I can eat it hot, I can eat it cold. I can eat noodles with just butter, noodles with spinach, garlic and shrimp, and spaghetti and meatballs. I could eat at the fanciest Italian restaurant or be happy with Noodles & Company or Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I really don’t discriminate.

Recently, I turned to the Buitoni brand (thanks to my mom) and I made their spinach cheese tortellini with vodka sauce. Not only was the tortellini done in minutes, but for a store-bought brand they were absolutely delicious. Now I’m dying to try their tomato herb Parmesan sauce, all natural pesto with basil and chicken and prosciutto tortelloni.

Cook.

Mix.

Serve.

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Pet Nutrition 101

On Saturday, I attended a pet nutrition talk sponsored by the Dane County Humane Society and presented by Michelle Longeran, pet nutrition specialist and owner of Tabby & Jack’s Pet Supplies and Grooming (locations in both Madison and Fitchburg).

While I do not consider myself a pet nutrition expert by any means, I was fairly surprised (and maybe a little skeptical) when Lonergan told the crowd that the majority of all dog foods sold at your standard grocery store are considered unhealthy.

The pet food manufacturing industry is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center of Veterinary Medicine, but according to Longeran, regulations are often poorly monitored and very lax. Instead, Longeran offered her own tips for giving your pet the best diet possible. Here are a few:

-To easily analyze the main ingredients of your pet’s food, first identify the fat and all other ingredients listed prior.
-Once you’ve looked at the main ingredients, determine which one is the most prevalent. If a fresh meat is given as a main ingredient, be sure that the following ingredient is a specific meat meal and not a grain. If a grain is listed after the fresh meat, the grain likely weighs more than the meat.
-Avoid corn, wheat and soy because these are considered the top three allergens for dogs and cats. With many dog foods, these ingredients are often listed first, which means they could be the most prevalent ingredient in the food.
-Do not look for supplements in your pet’s food to treat one specific issue. Instead, consider adding the supplement directly to the food yourself.

Popular Supplements
Kelp: natural anti-inflammatory
Salmon Oil: omega 3 & 6 for keeping the skin and coat healthy
Probiotic/Enzymes: helps break down the food, improves the immune system

For Longeran, the best diet to feed to your pet is a fresh diet made up of raw meat, bones and vegetables because it closely mimics what a dog or cat’s ancestors would have eaten in the wild.

If you do opt to feed your pet a raw diet, it’s important that the diet is balanced with other vitamins, minerals, calcium and amino acids. One way to do this could be a diet consisting of 1/2 raw ingredients and 1/2 kibble. Two kibbles that pass Longeran’s test are American Natural Premium and Canidae.

If you’re not completely sold on a raw diet or are thoroughly confused on the proper diet for your pet (like me), consult your veterinarian.

Keeping your pet happy and healthy is a full-time job.

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It’s not all about the popcorn

The Chicago Tribune recently published this article about how the FDA could soon require cinema operators to disclose the amount of calories in their concessions. Needless to say, theater owners are not so happy about it. And who can blame them? The buttery, salty goodness of movie popcorn, combined with overpriced soft drinks, Sour Patch Kids and Twizzlers are movie staples. But if I had to look at the calorie counts for my favorite treats, I’d probably opt out more often than not.

Regardless, Josh and I made it out to the theater on Friday afternoon to see The Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew McConaughey. Despite a pretty good cast (McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas and John Leguizamo) the movie was just okay. It kept us entertained for sure, but it’s definitely not a movie I’ll need to see again in the future.

While there aren’t many other movies I’m especially looking forward to, there are a few already out that I’m still dying to see. What movies are you aching to watch?

How to Train Your Dragon (nominated for two Oscars this year)
The Illusionist (also nominated for an Oscar this year)
Biutiful (another Oscar nominee, plus Javier Bardem is awesome)
The Romantics (I’ve been dying to see this for months, as I’m obsessed with Katie Holmes; Josh Duhamel isn’t too bad either)
Unstoppable (I love Denzel)
Gladiator (corny, I know, but I’ve wanted to see it ever since returning from Rome)

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Loving the little things

After returning from a much anticipated vacation, it can be easy to feel a little bummed. Oftentimes, half the fun of taking a vacation is the happy anticipation you feel in the weeks leading up to it. Fortunately, today is Friday (which is reason enough to be happy) and I’ve got five things I’m looking forward to this weekend.

1. Finally trying McDonald’s new fruit and maple oatmeal
I’m dying to know if this oatmeal tastes as good as all of McDonald’s commercials make them look. Plus, I have a coupon for a free one.

2. The Pet Nutrition Talk, sponsored by the Dane County Humane Society
I’m a sucker for most events offered by the DCHS, but this one especially appealed to me. The talk will be given by Michelle Longergan, owner of a Madison-based pet supply store. She’ll be sharing her thoughts on proper diets for cats and dogs. Frasier, watch out.

3. Seeing the Madison Symphony Orchestra
With a student ID (I’m still considering myself a student for the next two weeks) you’re eligible for up to two $10 tickets to see Beethoven’s Third Symphony. I don’t think I ever been to the symphony, but I’m definitely excited to see what it’s like.

4. Campus Candy
This candy store, which opened last fall on State Street, is a dream come true for anyone who has a sweet tooth. With over 400 varieties of candy, as well as frozen yogurt, there is sure to be something for everyone. I’m normally not into sweets, but as of late, I’ve been craving them (as seen here). So when Josh purchased a Groupon for Campus Candy, I was more than a little excited.

Kristian Knutsen/Isthmus

5. Bringing awareness to the many animals displaced by the disaster in Japan
When the disaster in Japan struck two weeks ago, not just millions of residents were displaced. Just as with Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., there are many, many animals that have been affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Just check out this heart-wrenching video of one dog protecting another to see for yourself. Click here to see how you can help the animals in need.

Photos courtesy of Jasmyne Cannick, Dog Treat Kitchen, Flickr, Yahoo News

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A little something sweet

Usually when I’m craving a snack or a treat, I almost always opt for something salty. Nachos, like the kind you can only get at some mundane sporting event, are my ultimate guilty pleasure. Yet, on Tuesday when I discovered that a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop opened up in the Madison area, I instantly began craving one of their warm, sugary melt-in-your mouth heavenly creations.

And so yesterday, I decided to satisfy my craving. Josh and I braved the end of rush hour traffic for the 20 minute drive to Wisconsin’s newest distraction; we were not disappointed. We were able to pass up the offer to purchase a dozen and instead each indulged in a single doughnut. Chocolate frosting and sprinkles have never tasted so good.

Despite satisfying my doughnut craving, however, that single Krispy Kreme has me wanting a whole lot more. After eating my last store-bought miniature brownie (as seen here) today, I giddily discovered that I had a single package of Girl Scout cookies hidden inside my cupboard.

Unfortunately, when I purchased these cookies from a friend who was selling them for her little sister, I decided to get the crunchy fudge-coated kind that is so affectionately known as the Thanks-A-Lot cookie. Why I opted out of purchasing the classic (and personal favorite) Samoa, or even the Thin Mint, is beyond me.

Fortunately, thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Cupcakes and Cashmere, I discovered recipes for making homemade Thin Mints and Samoas that I’m now dying to try.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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Being old is cool

One of the best parts about traveling in a foreign city, especially one as old as Rome or Florence (or really, most cities in Europe) is simply walking around and admiring the architecture. The buildings are nothing like what can be seen in America; even the oldest monument here in the States–the Tripoli monument at the U.S. Naval Academy–can’t truly compare to what Europe has to offer.

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