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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Because Justin told me to.

Justin likes to mention it when I (“we” he says) haven’t blogged in awhile, so I thought I would beat him to the punch and throw up a post.

So here you go, dear husband.  Enjoy.

 

Justin, obviously really excited about his Packer Melon.

Justin, with a kind-of smile, in the Fenlon Place Elevator in Dubuque, IA.

Justin's foot, which he made me take a picture of after he spilt yogurt on it.

Justin's dream when we went to Animal Kingdom at Disney World was to go to the petting zoo. Here, he attains that dream.

Justin, with the Panama Canal behind him. It was insanely hot at 8 am.

Justin, holding a smoldering stick. It apparently contained unlimited joy.

What the What?! Just found this one in the photo library!

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Julie, Justin

 

Brain wash

We haven’t been doing too much as of late.  Julie has been busy with a number of orders and planning for both Valentine’s Day and a bridal expo this weekend.  I’ve been finishing up a couple of projects, so we both have been kind of bums lately.  We wake up in the morning, work all day and veg in front of the TV at night.  We have really gotten into 30 Rock on Netflix.  We had watched the pilot awhile ago and weren’t impressed, but I was channel flipping a couple weeks ago and watched two reruns that were much, much funnier than I remembered, so we have been progressing through the first 4 seasons on Netflix streaming.

For Christmas, I got a selection of soda from my parents and our friends the Kings.  Julie also picked me up some stuff at World Market, and we stopped in a Mexican grocery in Galena when we were there a couple weeks ago.  Below is a selection of what I’ve had since Christmas.

As always, Fentiman’s is a can’t-go-wrong choice.  They make sodas that don’t taste like anything else you can buy, which is sometimes good, sometimes not, but always interesting.  I really like the Curiosity Cola, and the Mandarin Orange Jigger was a very intense orange soda.  Calling it a soda is a stretch – it’s more like carbonated, intense orange juice.

 

One of the best colas you can buy - not cheap

Brain Wash was close to the worst thing I have ever tasted – probably a close second to the brussel sprouts flavored Jones soda we had at Thanksgiving once.  This thing was just an intensely bad flavor that felt like it was going to melt your tongue.  Kind of a cross between Robitussin and rotting death.  This would be good for a joke drink – just swap the label for cherry Crush or something.

Horrific

Cel-Ray is exactly what it advertises, celery flavored soda.  It tastes exactly like celery, which isn’t exactly good, but after the Brain Wash isn’t bad either.

Yes, celery flavored soda. Anything's better than Brain Wash

The Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger is an intense orange soda.  It’s opaque, with lots of bits of orange floating around, so you know you are in for a treat.  Definitely something to try, if you can get your hands on it.

As with all Fentiman's, it's a unique, strong taste, unlike anything else

Jamaica flavored soda.  I had no idea what I was getting into – what flavor exactly is “Jamaica”?  Turns out it’s sweet with a strong pomegranate taste.  Definitely not bad.

 

I like the sugar Pepsis quite a bit.  I had a Mexican one in Galena and have been enjoying the resurgence of Pepsi Throwback in our town.  Not overly unique, but definitely sweet and good for a caffeine boost.

 

Mexican Pepsi and Pepsi Throwback - I like both

To continue with the theme of ambiguously flavored soda, this “Tropical” flavored soda from Ecuador was pretty good.  More sweet than anything else, it had some citrus flavors to it.

Not sure how "Tropical" is a flavor, but it tasted nice

I’m not sure why there aren’t more pineapple flavored sodas – this one was good, with a unique pineapple flavor.  It just seems like a soda flavor that should be more popular.

Unique pineapple flavor - nice

I’m not a huge ginger ale fan, probably because I associate it and Sprite with being sick as a kid.  This one wasn’t bad and you could definitely tell it was high quality, I’m just not a fan.

Americana Ginger Ale - not my favorite, but not terrible

Selection of Jarritos. I had apple, strawberry, grapefruit, guava, and Jamaica flavor

We had some Mexican Squirt in Galena.  Definitely don’t tell a random person you’re drinking “Mexican Squirt”.  Awkwardness will ensue.

Mexican variety we had in Galena. Definitely decent.

Kiss is a grapefruit flavored soda, like Toronja or Squirt.  This is definitely the best of the bunch, with a nice sweet flavor and the sourness you would normally associate with grapefruit.  If you’re looking for the best grapefruit soda, this is it.

Best grapefruit soda I've had - kind of hard to find

Decent grapefruit soda - not as good as KISS, but close

In continuing the “best of” theme, Julie picked me up some NuGrape as well as the Kiss and Bubble Up at World Market.  NuGrape is easily the best grape soda around.  It’s an intense, syrupy sweet grape flavor that is just awesome.

Best grape soda you can buy

If you’re looking for something citrusy but better than 7Up or Sprite, Bubble Up is where it’s at.  In a glass bottle, made with real sugar, you can’t go wrong.

Better than 7Up

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in Food, Justin, Taste Test

 

January’s Mini-Getaway

Justin and I are hoping to do monthly “mini-getaways” in the year ahead.  Just a few days away during the week, that won’t affect the bakeshop too much.  This month Justin had to do a Wisconsin Payments install in Benton, Wisconsin, just north of Galena, Illinois.  As the install only takes about 30 minutes, we decided to take some extra time and drive down the day before, stay a couple of nights in Galena, and also visit with our good friend Angie and her girls (poor Kurt got stuck at work).

It has been a little while since we’ve spent time in Galena, and it is very different in the middle of winter, versus Crafter’s Weekend in October.  Namely, there aren’t a gazillion women wearing appliqued pumpkin sweatshirts or husbands carrying around bags and garden birdhouses on sticks.  It is quiet and very easy to find a parking space.  We were able to walk in and out of the shops we wanted to, grabbed a bite to eat for lunch, and headed on our way.

Monday afternoon and evening was spent in Kieler, with the Snyder gals.  Julia, for whatever reason, felt she needed to stick her tongue out whenever Justin came close.  Not sure if she was hungry, of if that is just the effect Justin has on girls under the age of 1.  Absolutely hilarious.

Justin also figured out a game that had Katie entertained for quite some time.  Katie would lean over onto the exercise ball, and Justin would then bounce it again and again very quickly.  This elicited tons of giggles, and Justin definitely got a work out.

Even Julia couldn’t keep the smiles and giggles at bay with everyone else having such a silly time!

As is typical, this visit was too short, but still very sweet.  It was fun to get out of dodge for a couple of days, relax, and catch up with such a great friend.

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Friends, Julie, Mini Getaways

 

What a Jolly, Happy Soul!

As Jenn and I were out and about today, she casually mentioned “the snowman.”  “You haven’t seen The Snowman?!”  Inconceivable.  She immediately steered the car in the direction of Brawley Street, but didn’t really give any details.

This is the best snowman I’ve ever seen in my life.  Apparently the residents of the house set up scaffolding to build it.

Justin got home from a meeting this afternoon, and the first thing I said was, “You have to see The Snowman.” He was impressed too.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in Julie, Random Life

 

For Jessie.

Our friend Jessie is in some warm, sunny location at the moment, and posted a lovely picture of beach and palm trees on Facebook today.  And as I look out our windows, this is what I see:

Pretty, yes.  But Jessie wins, hands down!

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Julie, Random Life

 

Favorite Things of 2010

Don’t worry, I’m not so delusional to believe you actually care about what kind of toilet paper we use or what brand of socks we wear.  But there have been a number of purchases we’ve made over the year, or products we’ve started using that we REALLY like, and would like to recommend others try.

 

If you think you'd like to take up making ice cream, and come across the Gaggia Gelateria on Craig's List or at a Rummage Sale - don't hesitate. I seriously doubted this purchase by Justin, but after the first batch of ice cream, am a convert.

In the market for a new kitchen, or a remodel? I love our IKEA kitchen drawers, especially fitted with the closing dampers. Soooooo nice.

I happened to find Naiad Soap Arts on Etsy.com, and Justin LOVES her Absinthe Soap. More expensive than Dial, but it lasts longer, and has a pretty cool scent. I'm also a fan of her Cardamom Vanilla Sugar Whipped Soap, when it's available.

We also love this solid Shave Soap bar by DressGreen, also on Etsy.com. Shave soap lasts oodles longer than traditional shaving cream, has a fantastic lather, and feels super soft. DressGreen also has some great Shampoo Bars that we think are phenomenal. Plus, they're very easy to travel with - no liquids!

One more soap recommendation. This is J.R.Watkins Aloe & Green Tea Natural Liquid Hand Soap. The scent is unique, subtle, and so very good.

One thing we've tried to do is cut back on the disposable products we use, dryer sheets being one of them. These Reusable Lavender Dryer Sachets by ManInTheMoonHerbs on Etsy.com make our sheets and towels smell great (though not overpowering) and can be used again and again without losing their scent.

I love these UnPaper Towels made by MadeInTheRedBarn on Etsy.com. They are easy to clean and great to use around the house - to clean up spills, to use as napkins, as dust rags, etc. And we're not going through rolls of paper towels or packages of napkins like we used to.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2011 in Julie, Miscellaneous

 

Favorite Food of 2010

Four restaurants really stand out for our Best Meals of 2010.  We would highly recommend each of these without any hesitation.

Barbette, in Minneapolis.  French bistro cuisine at its finest, yet still affordable and very comfortable.

Bouchon, in The Venetian on Las Vegas Boulevard.  We know there are a lot of amazing restaurants in Las Vegas to choose from.  This is one we refuse to miss.

Wild Truffle, in Appleton, came recommended to us by my cousin Laura.  Both times we’ve gone we’ve left very happy.  So many choices that sound and look amazing.  Risotto that is crazy delicious.  And the pizza is crazy delicious.  Braised Short Ribs are crazy delicious.  And the appetizers are crazy delicious.  Mmm… I want to go now.

Christian’s Bistro, in Plover, is our favorite place within 15 minutes.  We think Christian and Leah are just fantastic and have built a pretty remarkable restaurant in Central Wisconsin, where Applebee’s and Pizza Hut reign supreme.  Their seasonal menus, incredible soups, fantastic accompaniments, and a special gift with cooking fish have solidified their place in our hearts.  Our dinner last night on New Year’s Eve included foie gras, smoked rabbit crepes, lobster bisque, bone marrow, seared ahi tuna, polenta cakes, truffle mashed potatoes, and one of the best steaks we have ever eaten. We hope they will be here for a long time to come.

This is the BEST donut I've ever eaten. It is the Cinnamon Caramel donut and can be found at the Rise and Roll Bakery in Middlebury, Indiana (and according to their website, in Chicago now too!).

Another favorite food for me from 2010 was Justin's apple pie and homemade ice cream. He has crazy pie and ice cream-making skillz.

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention Jim's Meat Baby in a post on our favorite foods. Seriously funny. And Seriously tasty.

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2011 in Food, Julie