Saturday, April 29, 2006

homemade wholegrain bread

I am a nerd and a freak, and sometimes I make my own bread. "Sweet Pea" over at Garden of Eatin' asked for a good wholegrain bread recipe. This is one I've used with great success in the past, and it's courtesy of Cooking Light magazine (October 2005). The recipe title is "Whoe Wheat Sunflower Oat Bread." It's somewhat complicated, because you have to make a sponge, but this helps lighten the texture of the bread -- this is the only homemade wholegrain bread I've found tender enough to use for things other than toast! (I have slightly altered the recipe to make it vegan.)

1 cup oat groats
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one package, NOT the rapid-rise stuff)
2 1/2 cups water at 110 to 115 degrees Farenheight (I measure with a digital thermometer)
2 tablespoons honey (you could use sugar or agave nectar, but I'd probably increase the amount to 3 tablespoons if you use sugar, since honey is twice as sweet as sugar)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
5 3/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour, divided (I prefer whole wheat bread flour)
1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels

1. Toast the groats in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes or in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. (I prefer the second option -- I think it's easier.) Cool.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium bowl and let it stand 5 minutes. Add the honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
3. Add 3 cups flour to the yeast mixture, and stir well. Stir in the groats. Cover and let this mixture stand 1 hour at warm room temperature. (My favorite place to do this is in my "cold" gas oven -- the pilot light keeps it slightly warmer than room temperature.) The mixture will poof up and get bubbly -- this is called a "sponge."
4. Stir in remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and sunflower seeds to sponge. Add 2 1/2 cups flour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until elastic, about 10 minutes. Add enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers -- it should feel smooth and slightly tacky, but not stick.
5. Place the dough in a large bowl that you've sprayed with cooking spray. Lightly spritz the top of the dough, and cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap, sticking it directly to the surface of the dough. Let the dough rise in a warm place again for an hour, or until it is double in size.
6. Punch the dough down and let it rest 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Press each dough ball out into a 14X7 inch rectangle. Roll up each rectangle snugly, starting with the short end, pressing to eliminate air pockets. Pinch the seams to seal them, and place the dough rolls seam-side down in two 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch loaf pans that you've sprayed with cooking spray. Cover them and let them rise in a warm place until they are double in size, for about 30 minutes.
7. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheight. Uncover and bake the loaves for 40 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned and sound hollow when you tap on them with your finger. Cool the bread on a wire rack.

going to the movies!

Tonight, Ann and I went to see the film Kinky Boots at the Lagoon in Uptown. It was about a guy who inherits his dad's shoe business, finds that it's going under, and discovers a "niche market" in making stiletto boots for drag queens. I laughed SO HARD during this movie -- comedy genius, I tell you. Go see this movie! (Bonus: it's based on a true story!)

Friday, April 28, 2006

new levels

I am supposed to be working on these developmental summaries for half of the kids in my classes (my coteacher will write the other half,) and I just have NO MOTIVATION. I've done a couple over the last few days . . . but have twelve left!

I've reached new levels of procrastination. I've become a manic blogger, and my apartment has never been so clean! I'm going to have to get out of the house for awhile tomorrow, go to a coffee shop or something, and really BUCKLE DOWN. Sheesh.

What a way to spend a Friday night . . . at least the one saving grace is, I'll never have to do this again! Hooray for new jobs!

yes, I still cook.

Enough about cats, shoes, Earth Day, and randomness!

Back to the food!

First, I made Kai's recipe for fried rice for dinner last night. It was fantastic! I used some leftover brown and wild rice, and used white onion, peeled & cubed sweet potato, green peas, and mushrooms for the veggies. Between the wild rice and sweet potato, it could be called a stab at fusion cooking. Regardless, it was great! What an easy recipe, and a simple way to use up leftover, cooked rice. Thanks, Kai!

Next, Lauren and I went out for brunch/lunch today to French Meadow. (Have I mentioned I'm off the latter part of this week to write developmental summaries on the kids?) I was impressed -- they had three completely vegan breakfast entrees on their menu, (pancakes, a tofu scramble, and loaded hashbrowns,) and I didn't even look at their soups, wraps, or other choices! Lauren and I split two brunch things: vegan cornmeal-blueberry pancakes, and their cajun hashbrowns with garlic, onion, peppers, and vegan sausage. (We did also get cheese on the hashbrowns -- Lauren really wanted it, and I wasn't opposed to it!) We also split a Naked juice -- the berry blast/burst one, I think. Everything was fantastic! Hooray for French Meadow!

Last, Lauren and I stopped at the co-op and I bought granola (bulk French Vanilla Almond) and toilet paper (Seventh Generation.) It was a random trip -- Lauren mostly wanted to just look around, and I did need the TP! I think that makes trip #4 for me this week! (Mostly accompanying others . . . goodness gracious!)

And now, back to the randomness:
1. If you visit my blog and comment and I don't have you linked over on the right, (sometimes, if I use pictures that are too big, my links get pushed way to the bottom -- scroll down,) let me know -- I think I got everyone, but I might have missed one or two of you!
2. Earth Day Resolution Update: I air-dried two loads of laundry yesterday (pants and shirts.) Three loads (towels, sheets, and undies/socks/PJs) hit the dryer.
3. I have put "digital camera" on my list of things to buy, so, hopefully I'll be able to add pictures here again soon!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

cat litter rave!

Yes, I'm posting about cat litter.


Because I love the brand of cat litter I use, and want to share the love with all you cat lovers out there in Blogger-land.
I love Feline Pine Cat Litter. You can see their website for the full story, but these are the reasons why I love it:
1. It's cheap. (Under ten bucks for the giant bag, usually. I've found it consistently at Target.)
2. It's all-natural, compostable/mulchable, and completely biodegradeable.
3. You use less each time you fill the litterbox, so you end up using less litter over time (less money, and less packaging ends up in a landfill!)
4. THE LITTERBOX NEVER SMELLS. Well, I should rephrase -- the litterbox never smells like cat pee. The only smell it gives off is a slight "lumberyard" fragrance -- fresh cut wood. (Since the litter is made from pine sawdust, this makes perfect sense.) If you grew up with a handy dad like I did, "lumberyard" smell is kind of good --reminiscent of trips to the hardware store/lumberyard as a small child.

Check out Feline Pine for your kitty, if you haven't already!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

shoes, shoes, shoes.

I have to send my Earth shoes back. They ripped up the backs of my feet, and they pop off when I'm walking. Also, after more than a couple of hours of wearing them, my toes start to tingle (I guess they run a little small, at least for me.) I'm so sad! They are so cute and fabulous. Oh well. They are back to Zappos tomorrow.

However, I tried on more pairs of Earth shoes at Heavenly Soles today, and found a different style that I like MUCH better, that I will probably order soon. (This particular style has a padded area where the achillies-heel ripping occurred in the first pair, so I think that padding will prevent future owwies.) I also picked up a really cute pair of satiny mary-jane style shoes with a red flower print on them. Mighty cute. (And mighty cheap, too: $17!!!) If I had the camera, I'd show you! Michelle found shoes, too -- pink courduroy slip on sneaker type things.



A small trip this week -- no list! I needed just a little produce, and picked up a few odds and ends.

Peanut Butter Tofutti Cuties (believe it or not, I've NEVER had Tofutti Cuties! I'm excited!)

one organic cucumber
five organic bananas
one organic golden delicious apple
one organic Galia melon (my new produce purchase of the week -- I've never heard of this kind of melon before!)
one organic red grapefruit
eight organic cremini mushrooms
one organic yellow onion
one organic green bell pepper
one organic red bell pepper
two small organic yams

two WholeSoy yogurts (mixed berry, and apricot mango -- I think Silk soy yogurts are a little runny, so it's my hope these are a little creamier/firmer in texture!)
one four-pack of Holy Land Deli whole wheat pita bread (made with organic flour!)

AND, $1 off for saving twenty green patches! (You get a green patch for every bag you bring in/reuse, each time you visit.)

Visit Harmonia for more info on Midweek Munchies.


Rustad baby #2 is here! Her name is Norah Kathryn, (and I seriously think Chels and Jon have misspelled her middle name!) :) and everyone looks great! Check out their blog for pictures and more info!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

i wanna go home!

I'm stranded. (Fortunately, I'm stranded at a friend's house who has wi-fi, and I have the work computer with me.) Half of the streets in my neighborhood are closed right now, because of some pre-race for the Twin Cities Marathon, and the other half are full of cars. THERE IS NOWHERE TO PARK. Thankfully, Ann and Michelle were kind enough to let me crash here until the hubub dies down. Michelle is going to drive me home later, when she returns from her haircut, and I will pick up my car tomorrow afternoon after we go shoe shopping. (I'm off work the next three days to write developmental summaries, so my coteacher doesn't have to do ALL of them herself before the end of the school year. But there's still some time to "play!")


Michelle and I went to the Holy Land Deli for dinner and gorged ourselves on delish middle eastern food. I have raved about their spanakopita before, and I will rave about it again. And saffron-infused rice. And pita bread! And a yummy salad, to boot.

And I recalculated my ecological footprint without the car, and it's still pretty high -- I think because I live alone, even though I live in a tiny apartment. But I'm down to 3.4 Earths, with the changes I'll make this year!

Thanks to everyone for humoring me on this one! And thanks, Vicki, for making a resolution with me!

Monday, April 24, 2006

perfect timing!

I received my power bill in the mail today, and there was an insert about signing up for "Windsource," which is a program that offers Xcel Energy's customers the opportunity to spend about 2 cents more per kilowatt-hour to support wind turbine energy generation. I have been meaning to investigate this program for ages; getting the insert in with my bill couldn't have been better timing! I signed up for 100% Windsource energy -- add a third Earth Day Resolution for me!

A direct quote from the pamphlet: "Signing up for 100% of your electricity from Windsource for a year saves about seven tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere. (Based on using 700 kWh/month.) Carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas linked to global warming."

Now, I don't use nearly 700 kWh/month of electricity, since that is the average amount for a home, and I live in a small, 1-bedroom apartment. However, every little bit helps, right?

In unrelated news, my friend Chelsea is finally having her baby! (She is more than a week overdue.) Hooray for the Rustad family! I hope all goes well and I get a phone call soon, letting me know how it all turned out!! :)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Earth Day Resolution!!

So, there was a Minnesota Public Radio "Policy and a Pint" earlier this week about environmental awareness that I missed. I really wanted to calculate my environmental footprint, and see what kinds of changes I could make!

I did a quick web search, and found this ecological footprint quiz. It was pretty interesting! Although I learned I have a below-average ecological footprint, I also learned it would take 4 1/2 Earths worth of space if everyone lived the way I did! Interesting. The biggest factor, by far, was the poor gas mileage my vehicle gets, coupled with my lengthy commute each week. At the end of the quiz, there is a place that offers suggestions for ways you can make changes! Cool. Obviously, the best way for me would be to stop driving so far each week, which will be accomplished in a very short period of time. (A week and a half left!) Also, selling my air conditioner should happen, (I run it too often, and really, there are only a couple of really uncomfortable weeks each summer,) and air-drying some loads of laundry each week. There weren't questions, however, about the types of products you choose to purchase, (like recycled toilet paper, phosphate-free laundry detergent, etc.) recycling or composting habits, etc.

Overall, it was interesting to see how I compared! I encourage everyone to give it a go -- I know there are plenty of things I could change in my life to better care for the planet, and I bet everyone else could find one or two changes to make, too!

I propose to anyone who's interested, make an "Earth Day Resolution" with me -- take the quiz, pick one or two things you plan to change, and we'll check back with each other periodically to see if it's happening!

My resolutions:
1. Drive less, and possibly sell my car and relying solely on my feet, bike, and public transportation.
2. Air-dry at least half of all laundry loads (towels and sheets will still hit the dryer, since I have limited air-drying space in my weenie apartment, and sometimes cotton knit things just get way stretched out and need a trip in the dryer for reshaping.)

Let's do it!

A weekend of photos, part III . . .

BEWARE: This post contains a considerable number of G.C.P.s (Gratuitous Cat Photos)
(Hey . . . Leslie started it!)

I think my cat has really unusual markings. I joke that he's monogrammed, since he has a big swirl on both sides that looks like the letter "O," and where most tabbys have an "M" marking over their eyes, Oliver has a "W!"

"Leave me alone. I'm sleeping."

"What part of 'sleeping' was unclear to you? Hmm?"

And, I have no pictures of my afternoon with the neighbors who I used to babysit for. I didn't even bring the camera with me, because I knew I probably wouldn't take any pictures. Why? When hanging out/travelling/having fun with people, I'm usually so busy having fun, I forget to take pictures. BUT, the whole Behlmer family met me after church, and had glowing compliments about the choir. Wee! (We are pretty good, if I do say so myself.) Then, we actually split up -- the boys and Rob wanted to head back to the Mall of America, (ugh!) and Lisa wasn't interested, so she and I hung out. We walked around downtown, walked along the river for a while, (yes, the Mississippi River,) and had lunch outside at Brit's. I had the "Portobello Road" sandwich, which is a big hunk o' mushroom, marinaded and grilled, on focaccia with roasted red pepper aoli, spinach, and sharp cheddar cheese. (Yes, today, I was a L/O veg. Usually only when I dine out!) Killer fries on the side. (Crispy on the outside, superfluffy on the inside.) I also had a half-pint of hard cider. Yum! (A half-pint is just the right size for me. I'm a lightweight.) Then, we wandered around the sculpture gardens before it was time to meet back up with the guys, and for them all to head home. It was a great afternoon! The weather was sunny and gorgeous the whole time, and it's a good thing I remembered to put on sunblock this morning!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A weekend of photos, part II . . .

(Vegan) Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

And a (slightly blurry) close-up . . .

And this is one more thing that I have been meaning to post about, but haven't gotten around to until today. A while ago, Shawn asked a bunch of us Midweek Munchies folks for tips on meal planning. While I don't strictly meal plan, I usually have at least one or two new recipes I want to try each week, plus a ton of staples on hand for making all sorts of my favorite things. I keep track of what I need with an easy, foolproof grocery list idea that I stole from a former babysitting client, have tweaked the system to fit my needs, and it has cut tons of time off of my grocery shopping and list making each week. Here's how I do it:
I have a document on my computer called "wedge grocery list" that is a three-column list of pretty much everything I might buy from the co-op, organized by area/aisle of the store.
(I'm sorry this is sideways . . . I rotated it before I uploaded it . . . who knows??)
I print out a copy of this list after each time I go to the store, and stick it up on the fridge. As I run out of things over the course of the week, or if I think of something in particular I'd really like to have on hand, I circle the item on the list. (I have write-in sections in most of the columns for items that aren't frequently purchased, but still need to go on the list.) Then, when I'm ready to head to the store, I grab the list, look it over and glance through my cupboards to see if I've missed anything, circle/add any remaining ingredients I might need for special recipes, and I'm ready to shop! Having the list organized by aisle means I never have to backtrack because I've forgotten something, and really streamlines my shopping.

Hope this idea helps, Shawn, and anyone else who cares to pirate it!

A weekend of photos, part I . . .

I've had a busy, productive, food-related day! Here goes:

I started my day with a strawberry-coconut-tofu smoothie, and two pieces of toast. Ingredients for the smoothie: half a package of Mori-Nu, about a third of a can of light coconut milk, a cup of frozen strawberries, about a quarter cup of soy milk, and a small squirt of honey. (I forgot the flax!!!! Shoot.) Mighty, mighty tasty. Thick, rich, and almost to big to finish. And increasing the amount of tofu kept me going until lunchtime!
Isn't it a gorgeous pink color? A very happy breakfast. :)

Next, I ran a bunch of errands. Returned library books, FedExed my forms for my new job, got cash and quarters so I can do laundry, and had my knives sharpened at Kitchen Window. (See the link over on the right, in "shop 'til you drop.") I also picked up a small birthday gift for Tony -- a neat Japanese fish-shaped sushi dipping dish, that I figured he could use for whatever he felt like! He liked it a lot! The knife sharpening lady also sold me a $20 Wusthoff idiot-proof honer, which will help my knives hold their edge a lot longer, between sharpening trips. Here are my freshly sharpened knives, and new honer!
Oliver seems to want to get in on the knife-honing action. Or he just likes to smell new things. Who knows. :)

Then, I headed over to Tony's house to take him out for birthday lunch. He picked a new place -- Peninsula on Eat Street. Authentic Malasian cuisine, neat warehouse-type ambiance, friendly and speedy service, and a five-minute walk from Tony's place. What's not to like? I had Mango Tofu, and I have to tell you, it was TO DIE FOR! Loads of strips of fried tofu and sauteed mango in a ginger-infused sweet and sour sauce, beautifully presented in two hollowed-out mango peels, on a bed of shredded lettuce and fried rice threads. Perfectly gooey steamed white rice on the side. I left the camera at home, so here's a shot of my slightly dilapidated leftovers:

I stopped at the Wedge on my way home and picked up a few things for the week -- I have a photo post for Midweek Munchies this week! It was a fun trip -- everyone was dressed up for Earth Day, and it was busy as all getout!


Friday, April 21, 2006

tofu smoothie!

I made a tofu smoothie for breakfast today, and it was pretty darn tasty! I did miss the yogurty-ness a little bit -- this smoothie just tasted sweet and fruity, and was missing that slightly sour note. Oh well! Ingredients:
1/4 a package of Mori-Nu
1/2 a cup of organic apple juice
about a cup of frozen organic peach slices
a couple shakes of ground cinnamon
a squirt of honey (which I found to be unnecessary -- the smoothie ended up a bit on the sweet side)
a big spoonful of ground flax

I also brought some Kashi Autumn Wheat squares with me for a few healthy carbs. It was a tasty breakfast, but not nearly filling enough! I'll probably double the amount of tofu next time, to give the smoothie a little more staying power. The above recipe, however, would be a nice accompaniment to pancakes or waffles as a weekend breakfast!

Lunch was Chipotle (two soft tacos with cilantro-lime rice, black beans, peppers & onions, tomato salsa, corn salsa, and guacamole,) and dinner was peanut butter toast and grapefruit (sometimes toast just sounds like the best option!), so no exciting pictures today. I did bring the camera home, however, so hopefully I'll have something else to share with you before the end of the weekend!

Have wonderful weekends, everybody!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

dinner and shoes!

I knew I was going to be cooking up a storm tonight, so I brought the camera home, just for you all! I made a peanut-coconut tofu stir-fry type thing. It's pretty stinkin' tasty. I pressed and cubed half a block of tofu, and then marinaded it in a sauce I made from red curry paste, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, crunchy peanut butter, lower-sodium tamari, minced cilantro, minced ginger, minced garlic, the juice of 1 small lime, and coconut milk. I then started a pot of soba noodles, and prepped my veggies.

Here are the veggies and sauce, ready and waiting:

Here's the tofu, which I fished out of the sauce with my hands, hangin' out with some sliced onion (and the soba noodles, cooked and waiting on the back burner):

The rest of the veggies join the party (red pepper, broccoli, and a few mushrooms):

After stirring in the sauce and soba noodles, I plated, adding sesame seeds and a few raw peanuts as garnish:

AND, I wanted to model my new Earth Shoes for you all. Aren't they just darling? (My Chuck Taylors finally died. Even though I plan on wearing them to work every now and then, they are not fit to be worn out in public on a regular basis. I also lost my comfortable but not cute New Balances to the kitty potty disaster earlier this week. The Earth Shoes will hopefully serve a dual purpose -- hip, comfy walking/standing shoe. When you stand around a club for four plus hours listening to bands, you have to have comfy shoes, but I also want my shoes to look cute.)
I was a little worried about the "negative heel," which I read and heard takes a little getting used to. However, once you are used to it, it is supposed to significantly reduce strain on your lower back, by forcing you to use your core muscles while walking! Isn't that cool? I sometimes have lower back soreness, (especially after long walks or long periods on my feet,) so I'm very excited about this feature.

Tomorrow is Friday, the weather is gorgeous, (although we got hailed on this afternoon while hiking over to the farm to see the newborn lambs!), and I have a full belly. Off to fill out paperwork for my new job!


Lunch today: Edamame (which the kids at work call "mommies" -- we have them for snack sometimes) with a little EB and a pinch of salt, homemade yam fries (with a teeny container of Vegenaise for dipping,) brown and wild rice with garlic, and fresh pineapple.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

When bad things happen to good muffins.

My vegan lemon poppyseed muffins molded! I lost three of them! No fair!

New Policy: In the future, all muffins will be stored in the fridge.

Midweek Munchies

Even though I stocked up and spent a fortune last week, I still managed to need quite a few things this week! I guess that's what happens when you have a small kitchen, and cook and eat a lot. ;-) Last weekend's purchases:

1 loaf Great Harvest Bread Co. Country Wheat

3/4 pound semisweet chocolate chips

Woodstock organic peaches

Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal
Spectrum organic canola oil
Spectrum organic sunflower oil spray (I hate paying for spray oil, but I can't cook without it sometimes! Phooey.)
Yogi Tea raspberry-ginger
2 boxes soft Mori-Nu
Thai Kitchen organic light coconut milk
one roll Seventh Generation brown paper towels

two boxes NatraCare tampons

four organic bananas
one organic red grapefruit
one organic lemon
one organic lime
two organic valencia oranges
half a pound of organic button mushrooms
one organic green bell pepper
one organic red bell pepper
one white onion

one box organic firm tofu

I've decided to try soft tofu in smoothies, instead of soy yogurt. (Less processed, methinks.) I made a huge smoothie discovery last week, too -- I love, love, love a good amount of chai concentrate in my smoothies. Mmmm . . . slightly spicy, slightly sweet, and a bit of caffeine, too. I might brew and chill some vanilla almond black tea this weekend, and see if this works just as well.

My plan for the peppers, onion, mushrooms, tofu, and coconut milk was a Thai peanut stir-fry, but since I ordered that last weekend, those veggies were used up in the creation of a no-cheese veggie pizza, instead. Mmmmm . . . veggies!

Visit Harmonia for more info on Midweek Munchies.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


It's official! I have a new job! I collected my contract and other paperwork this evening, and will start nannying on May 4th.


I give notice at work tomorrow, and then the ball starts rolling in a new direction. I need to go shopping for heath insurance, and investigate whether I can (afford to?) continue to purchase my dental plan. I also need to start bringing things home from work in small trips -- gear, books, supplies, etc.

I'm very excited. :)

although it's not "chili" outside . . .

Chili, fresh pineapple, a lemon-poppyseed muffin, and some trail mix (walnuts, chocolate chips, and dried apricots) for after school.

Monday, April 17, 2006

poopy Monday

I had a real Monday today:

1. As I was getting ready to leave for work this morning, I watched (from afar) my cat pee on my backpack. (Yes, my brand-new backpack.) I didn't have time to deal with it before work, although I soaked it down with enzymatic cleaner, and left it to air-dry. When I got home from work, it still smelled like cat pee. It is now soaking in the bathtub, in warm water and a LOT of laundry detergent. Cross your fingers for me, please!

2. Not only was my assistant out today (his band is touring this week,) my coteacher called me early this morning to let me know she was sick. Sheesh. And we really couldn't find subs at all. This morning, it was me, a sub, and our intern, and this afternoon, it was me, our intern, and two parent volunteers.

3. I sat in traffic for an hour and a half tonight, trying to get to my second interview for this nannying position. The traffic totally burned me out, and I fear I wasn't at my best for the interview. (They did offer me the job, though, and we're meeting tomorrow to go over the contract and fill out paperwork!)

Anyhow, now I'm beat. I just finished eating dinner, and am off to prep the coffee for tomorrow, pack a lunch, hopefully scrub my backpack clean, and then get ready for bed. I would really like to get to bed on time tonight! We'll see.

I hope everyone else avoided the "poopy Monday" blues today!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

interview update, dinner, and more

I had an incredibly productive, incredibly busy day today! My feet are tired!

2:00 - I had an interview with a family for a nannying position. It went VERY well. I met with one of the moms, and she told me near the end of the interview that she'd like me to meet her partner and the kids, and then they were going to make me an offer. It sounds like a really excellent fit for all parties involved, and they are talking more money than I was asking for. Awesome! I'll keep you posted.

4:00 - I met Christine at her house and we walked to the Wedge to pick up a few things. Midweek Munchies to be posted this coming Wednesday!

5:00 - Christine and I headed over to Sawatdee for some incredible Thai food. I had a coconut peanut tofu curry (surrounded by steamed spinach,) over jasmine rice. It was heavenly -- rich, slightly sweet, with the slight bitterness of the spinach acting as a nice "foil." (Man, I hope I'm using that word properly.) Anyhow, the flavors complimented each other brilliantly. I have a full meal's worth of leftovers, and only spent $13.50.

After dinner, Christine and I walked back to her house to stash our leftovers in her fridge, then headed over to Calhoun Square to go to Kitchen Window. I learned they sharpen kitchen knives in store for $3.50 a blade while you wait, and it takes about 15 minutes. Project for next weekend! (My knives need help. I am currently able to bruise herbs, but not mince them.) We then went to Urban Traveller, where Christine found a new travel purse, and stopped at Cheapo, where Christine bought a bunch of smashin' 80s pop on vinyl. We stopped at French Meadow for dessert to go. I got a pink vegan cupcake. The frosting was colored with beet extract, of course. :) The cupcake was awesome -- huge and sticky, not-too-sweet frosting, nice and moist. (I could only eat half -- I'll enjoy the other half tomorrow!) Then Christine brought me and my groceries home. Whew!

I have to be at church at 8:15 tomorrow morning and sing two Easter Sunday services, so I better get to bed. Nighty-night!


This is, unfortunately, going to be the last photo this weekend . . . the camera battery died on me, and I didn't bring the charger home from work! Alas. Anyhow, breakfast this morning is cardamom-spiked coffee (thanks for the idea, Dori!), and cinnamon-raisin 7-grain hot cereal with flax, honey, and a few walnuts.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend -- the weather's beautiful, I have very little to do, and I'm in a great mood! (I had a wonderful conversation with my last parent-teacher conference yesterday that made me feel tons better about my whole work situation, and I'm beyond caring about the politics now. I'm just ready to MOVE ON!!)

AND, I just got an email from the family that lives across the street from my parents whose sons I used to babysit for, (the oldest one is in high school, now -- that makes me feel old!), and they are going to be in town next weekend! They asked me if I would play tour guide with them for a little while -- wee! I think we are going to go to the Diner for brunch, and then maybe to the Sculpture Garden. I haven't seen them in ages -- I'm excited!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday night baking project

Made from a homemade muffin mix (which includes flax,) some soy milk, canola oil, plain soy yogurt, the zest and juice of one lemon, and a teaspoon of poppyseeds. My apartment smells all lemony and fabulous right now! Mmmmm . . . !

Happy Weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

lazy lunch

I have to say, having an hour break for lunch is mighty nice. We are in the middle of parent-teacher conferences, and scheduled ourselves hour-long lunch breaks yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I enjoy not having to wolf my food down and try to get the room prepped for the afternoon at the same time!

There are a lot of stressful things about this job that I will not miss when I move on to whatever comes next. (I have another interview this weekend, by the way -- we'll see how it goes!) I'm looking forward to something different -- lower stress, more pay, more respect.

I'm off to make a cup of tea with my remaining ten minutes before our next conference! Woo-eee!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mega Midweek Munchies

Harmonias Midweek Munchies Meme

I really wish that I had the camera this past weekend. Why? So I could take "before" and "after" photos of my fridge and cupboards! It was time for a stock-up trip, and to gather ingredients for several cooking projects, too. Here's what I bought:

four wholegrain bakery buns (for homemade black bean burgers)
one loaf of Great Harvest Bread Co. Sprouted Wheat bread

a little over a pound of organic cannellini beans
a little under half a pound of organic raw walnuts
a little under half a pound of organic, roasted & salted soy nuts
a little under half a pound of unsweetened flaked coconut
about a pound of Equal Exchange whole bean organic breakfast blend coffee
a little over a pound of organic brown Basmati rice

Cascadian Farms organic in-pod edamame
Cascadian Farms organic apple juice concentrate
SnoPac organic whole strawberries
one Amy's no-dairy black bean enchilada meal

Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina
14 ounces organic artichoke hearts (packed in water)
12 ounces Fantastic Foods whole wheat couscous
Arrowhead Mills 7-grain hot cereal
Maple Pecan Peace Cereal
12 ounces Mori-Nu soft (I couldn't find organic soft silken tofu! Bah!)
plastic wrap
Oregon Chai "not-so-sweet"
Muir Glen organic mild salsa
Seventh Generation toilet paper
Seventh Generation lavender dish soap
Seventh Generation drawstring kitchen bags
Quilts low-sodium crackers
Bionaturae whole wheat fusilli
Pet Promise kitty food

Tom's of Maine wintermint toothpaste
Tom's of Maine lavender moisturizing soap
Tom's of Maine peppermint shave cream (again, I had a buy-3 Tom's coupon)
Burt's Bees lip balm

one bunch organic green leaf lettuce
four organic Braeburn apples
one organic Fuerte avocado
one organic, fair-trade mango
one organic pineapple
two organic lemons
two limes (conventional . . . the only limes in the store.)
organic ginger root
organic fennel (my new veggie of the week!)
organic garlic
two bunches organic kale
one bunch organic cilantro
two organic red onions
one organic red bell pepper
three organic Yukon Gold potatoes
one jalapeno
one medium-sized yam

Tofutti Sour Supreme
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
14 oz firm water-packed organic tofu
two Organic Valley half-gallons of plain soy milk

AND, just so you know, I ended up using approximately fifteen dollars worth of coupons, thanks to my Blue Sky Guide and the Seventh Generation website, so the trip wasn't quite the wallet-shocker I was expecting.


Click here for the Midweek Munchies code
Click here for Harmonia's blog

another lunch!

Lunch today: brown and wild rice pilaf with garlic, two potato and tofu latkes, sauteed kale with onion and garlic, a small container of Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, and a couple of dried apricots.

Oh -- and a soy chai latte. It's coference week, and I needed a little caffeine . . . !!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

i lied.

So, I'm at work eating lunch and I thought, "why don't I take a photo of my lunch today, upload it, and blog about it?" So, here you go. Here's my own version of laptop vegan lunchbox for today!

I have a killer veggie sandwich on the left -- wholegrain bread from Great Harvest, with guacamole and hummus, shredded carrot, red and green bell pepper slices, and fresh spinach. On the right, some organic black grapes (with seeds,) and some roasted, salted soy nuts. Yum!

Monday, April 10, 2006


So, I got the latest edition of "Rolling Stone" in the mail today. Guess who was on the cover? Kiefer Sutherland. That's not the big deal. The big deal is . . .


Yes, the cover. Smoking.

Now, I am pretty open minded. And I am aware that magazines are the only place (pretty much) cigarette companies are still allowed to advertise. But this isn't advertizing -- Rolling Stone CHOSE to show a famous actor SMOKING on the COVER.

It's just icky.

I might have to write a letter of complaint. I have been thinking about cancelling my subscription for a while now, even though I do enjoy some of the political/news related articles that they write, as well as the music news, of course.

This is just plain icky. I can't even articulate how frustrated I am by this.

ask, and ye shall receive

So I borrowed the digital from work. First, a tour of my kitchen:

This is a shot of my kitchen through the "window" leading to the living room. There is a barstool-height counter/passthru type area, which I am very glad they put in because, otherwise, the kitchen would be too small to be usable. However, the counter isn't good for much, besides collecting dirty dishes. :) It's also a nice place to set canisters while cooking. Notice how high the cupboards are? Keep in mind I am taller than my fridge, and I'm 5 feet 2 inches tall. I think my whole apartment was designed for basketball players.

So, we're starting in the kitchen now, on the left side, (if you have your back to the counter.) This is my wall o' spices. I have discovered the importance of using all available space in a kitchen this size, including vertical space. Below the three spice racks, I have a magnetic knife bar. To the left of the spice racks is the phone and four-cup programmable coffee pot. (I also have a French Press for special occasions.) I store my cookbooks on the window sill: one of Jamie Oliver's, all three of Alton Brown's, Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Joy of Cooking All About Vegetarian, a couple miscellaneous books that were given to me as gifts, and Herbst and Herbst's Ultimate A-Z Bar Guide. I don't drink much, but when I do, it's nice to know what's in your cocktail! (Also, notice the "naughty kitty squirter" ready and waiting . . . ! For some reason, he especially enjoys attacking me while I'm cooking.)

Continuing around counter-clockwise, you see my stove, ONE usable countertop, and part of my sink. I store my cast-iron frying pan directly on my stovetop at all times, (covered with the splatter screen to keep out dust,) because I have nowhere else to put it. Also, the teakettle I "inherited" from my great-grandma. (It's nothing special, but it's tiny, which is nice in this space.) The oven is so small, nothing larger than a 9X13 pan fits in it. I had to buy new cookie sheets when I moved in. Again, notice the use of vertical space -- anything that can be hung on a nail in my kitchen is hung on a nail. I'll have a lot of holes to fill when I move out! Anyhow, on the countertop, (which is 16.25 inches wide by 24.25 inches deep,) I have a flatware caddy, because the drawers are just too small for flatware, (the caddy also holds my vitamins and the pepper grinder,) a drinking straw dispenser, (smoothies!), my mini Le Creuset casserole, which serves as my salt cellar, and a glass "butter" dish with an Earth Balance buttery stick in it. Below the counter are four, 8-inch wide drawers that hold junk, cooking utensils, and plastic wrap, foil, and parchment. I store my dishes and glasses in the cabinet above the oven.

Here's the sink. The single sink. The single, 5 1/2 inch-deep sink. I wear an apron when I wash dishes, because I slosh a lot of water out of the sink. I also have to drain and re-fill the sink several times while washing dishes, or fill the sink with water and dishes, and stack the dishes on a towel on the counter to my left, then drain the sink in order to rinse them. It's a bit tricky. HOWEVER, I love my dishrack, which must have been designed to fit spaces such as the one to the right of my sink. (Thank you, IKEA.) It's only 10 inches wide, but holds a TON of clean dishes! Below the sink are two large, open cabinets which house the garbage and compost, cleaning supplies, and all of my plastic containers, which I store with their lids on inside a cardboard box with the top flaps cut off. Very high tech. :) Above the sink are two (very tall) cabinets where I store oils/vinegars/other cooking stuff, cereal, crackers, and bulk dry stuff (beans, grains, and pasta.) Above the dish drainer, there is a super-skinny cabinet that houses teas and canned goods. I use my stepstool A LOT. OH! Also notice the microwave. I hardly use it, but it came with the apartment, and I like how it's hanging above everything. Neat, eh?

Here's my fridge. Again, nothing special. I am taller than my fridge, which is kind of cool -- I didn't know they made fridges that small! When the fridge door is open, it completely blocks the entrance to the kitchen. In the cabinet above the fridge, I store metal baking pans, mixing bowls, my colander, and extra travel coffee mugs. There are also a couple bottles of liquor up there, but they are pretty dusty! On top of the fridge is my cooling grate, coffee grinder, filters, whole bean coffee, and bowl of bags of different kinds of dried fruit and coconut. Notice my laptop lunchbox??? ;-) Oh, on the fridge, I have my grocery list, and I have THE COOLEST system for this, but I'll post about it another time.

This is overflow kitchen storage (also known as the closet in my living room.) Pots, pans, more cansters (hot cereal, flours that don't need to be refrigerated, sugars, etc.), both Crock Pots, my French silicone pastry mat, rolling pin, glass baking pans, blender, hand mixer, Cuisinart mini-prep, cookie cuttters, serving bowls and platters, miscellaneous baking pans, and anything else that isn't in "regular rotation," like my ice cream maker.


This is the last, lonely cupcake from a week or so ago. (Well, four are in the freezer.) It looked so lonely, I put a class of soy milk in the picture to keep it company. And I forgot I wanted to take a picture of it until AFTER I took a bite out of it. Oh well. You get the idea. :)

This is the chocolate pudding/mousse I made on Friday. Mmm . . . if I wasn't already so full, I might have dessert again!

This was dinner tonight -- "chips and dips." Sprouted wheat baked tortilla chips (I made the chips, but not the tortillas,) with leftover mango salsa from Friday, (this salsa does not store well -- the ginger flavor overpowers everything. I like ginger, but I don't want mango to taste like ginger!), leftover homemade refried black beans with a dollop of Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, and a big blob of leftover homemade guacamole. (I think Fuerte avocados are just about the best things ever. When they feel soft, they are perfectly ripe inside. None of this "rock solid outside, black inside" Haas avocado nonsense!)

Kitties like to eat, too. :) (Also notice my beautiful hardwood floors -- even in my kitchen!)

That's all the photos for now, and probably for a while. Hope that tides you over!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

all right, fine then!

I'll borrow the camera from work tomorrow . . . I'll plate some food and take pictures! I'll take pictures of my kitchen, too -- you can start laughing now, though . . . wait 'til you see it . . . !

In the meantime, this photo is especially for Michelle . . .

Saturday, April 08, 2006

attempt at photos?!?

meet my tubby kitty . . .


I love that he looks so irritated in this picture.

vegetarian times cookbook and chocolate pudding

I checked out the "Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook" (1995) from the library several weeks ago, and have just recently began reading through it. Two recipes caught my eye: Barbados Black Bean Cakes with Mango Salsa, and Apple-Fennel Salad with Fusilli. Both were simple to prepare and UNBELIEVABLY TASTY!!!! (I served the black bean cakes like burgers, on wholegrain rolls from my co-op's deli with a bit of Vegenaise and the salsa, with sides of the pasta salad and some sauteed kale.) Here are the recipes:

Apple-Fennel Salad with Fusilli:
Whisk together:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Toss with the dressing:
8 ounces whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to the package directions and cooled slightly
3 medium apples, cored and diced
1/2 pound fennel, trimmed and sliced thinly
(The recipe then instructs you to serve it on a bed of greens, which would be delicious, but it also works as a side-dish type pasta salad. I love the fennel!)

Barbados Black Bean Cakes with Mango Salsa:
Salsa (stir together):
2 cups peeled, diced mango
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced (I used a jalapeno)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Cakes (stir together, coat in breadcrumbs, and pan-fry):
2 15-ounce cans black beans: drained, rinsed, and mashed coarsely
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 egg white, lightly beaten (I used flax and water)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

I have no words to describe the fabulousness of this meal.

I also made the chocolate pudding recipe that someone posted in a comment on harmonia's blog a little while ago (1 box soft Mori-Nu, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1 tbsp vanilla, and 1 cup melted chocolate chips, pureed in a blender, then chilled.) WOW. Super-tasty, super-rich, super-perfect! (I would describe it as more of a "mousse" than a "pudding," however! Way too fluffy and delicious to be called simply "pudding.")

It's been an exciting food weekend at my house.

My kitchen is an absolute pit, however. I should go clean it . . . !

i heart dickies!

I never thought I'd be brand-obsessed. However, I have fallen in love with Dickies bags. After stumbling across the perfect purse (color: chive) back in December, I have now found the perfect backpack (color: olive.) (It was originally priced $32 instead of the higher web price, AND I had a $4 off coupon!)

Strangely enough, I have been looking for a new backpack for quite a while now -- the zipper broke on my old one, and I had been searching for something a little less "campus-y," and a little more hip.

Dickies to the rescue! I love that their bags are hip, industrial-strength, and reasonably priced. What's not to love???

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

free Chipotle!

The fates collided after work tonight and resulted in me having FREE Chipotle for dinner tonight! (Veggie fajita burrito with rice, beans, peppers & onions, corn salsa, mild tomato salsa, guacamole, and shredded romaine. Yum!) (My friend Ann's sister manages a Chipotle.) Conveniently, the Chipotle she manages shares a parking lot with the Whole Foods, so we popped in and I got myself a package of soy sausage! Strange that I was just writing about that yesterday, eh? I also bought 1 1/4 pounds of organic black grapes (with seeds,) a small amount of bulk vegan raspberry gummies, two organic Atulfo mangoes, and four organic bananas.

It's so nice to have fruit in the house again. (I ran out Monday night.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Midweek Munchies

Harmonias Midweek Munchies Meme

Midweek Munchies: What I am contributing for the week

No list this week, but two questions:
ONE: What brand/type of soy sausage do you prefer? (That is, if you eat soy sausage.) I've tried Boca (not my favorite) and the Whole Foods store brand (pretty good, but Whole Foods is a bit of a trek from my house,) but would appreciate other options. :) (I think sausage might be the only meat product I "miss." I do enjoy soy sausage, however!)
TWO: I'm thinking about buying beets as my "veggie of the week" this week. Anyone have any great beet recipes? I think I'd like to try roasting them.

Links to other Midweek Munchies

Click here for the Midweek Munchies code
Click here for Harmonia's blog

Technorati Tag:

A special thanks to Running2Ks and Rift for all of their help with coding, graphics, and encouragement for this project.

PURPOSE of Midweek Munchies: Put together by a small group of Veg Women, we hope to spread the word about healthy vegetarianism while obtaining idea starters for meals, recipes, learn about new products, and meet other female veg*n bloggers. Visiting and commenting on other participants lists are encouraged but not required. Have fun and Go Veg!

Monday, April 03, 2006

too many plates

Right now is one of those times in my life when I feel like I have too many plates spinning up in the air. I'm job searching, one of my friends is feeling icky and the doctors can't figure out what's going on, another of my friends is experiencing major stress, Daylight Savings always takes me a month to recover from, recent (albeit repaired, but expensive) car problems . . . the list goes on, and on, and on . . . .

I'm the stress queen! Perhaps I should wear my tiara tomorrow.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

cupcake heaven.

I have died and gone to cupcake heaven. I have been craving (i.e., dreaming about) really great dessert for weeks now, and have not satisfied my craving. Until today. I veganized and wholegrained a Betty Crocker yellow cake recipe, with some other changes, too.

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Beat 1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery sticks on low for 30 seconds, or until fluffy. Beat in 10 tablespoons of natural granulated sugar. Slowly beat in 10 tablespoons of soy milk, 6 tablespoons of plain soy yogurt, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.
3. Slowly beat in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat pastry flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then on high speed for 3 minutes. Fold in 1/2 cup flaked coconut.
4. Lightly grease 10 muffin pan wells and divide the batter evenly among them. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then on wire rack until completely cooled.
5. Warm 1/3 cup plain soy milk over low heat until it is steaming. Whisk in 3/4 cup dark/semisweet chocolate chips, until the ganache is smooth. Top each cupcake with about a tablespoon (or a little more) of the ganache, and an extra sprinkle of coconut.

I highly recommend waiting until the ganache is set (very tought to do) before you sample one . . . otherwise, you might drip ganache all over the kitchen floor, like I did!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

molasses "treats"

I have been after a not-too-sweet sweet this past week, and also ran out of the homemade lara-type bars I made a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to design my own pan of "treats," thanks to inspiration from Leslie.

1. Melt together 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance, 1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (I used cashew so I can take them to work,) 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses, a pinch of salt, a few dashes of cinnamon, a few dashes of nutmeg, and a splash of vanilla extract.
2. Stir in 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1/4 cup flaked coconut, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup flaxmeal, 1/4 cup almonds, and 1/4 cup sesame seeds. Pat this mixture into a greased or parchment-lined 8-inch pan. Chill.
3. Pry the mixture out of the pan and cut it into 16 squares using a pizza cutter. Wrap each treat individually, and store in the fridge.

I had to sample one (okay, two -- I was hungry!) of these as they went into the fridge. They are yummy. The molasses flavor is very strong, but not quite overpowering. I may play around with this a bit next time, just to see if I can make them more palatable for the "general population."

Oh, and I already screwed up my dairy-free month idea, but it was an accident. Tonight, I had some Annie's Whole Wheat Bunnies at a friend's house. After a handfull went into my soup (Amy's No Chicken Noodle -- I didn't really care for it,) and the soup went into my belly, I discovered cheese is one of the ingredients in the crackers. I guess I should learn to read my labels better! Oh well. I suppose this means dairy-free month OFFICIALLY begins tomorrow. (An April Fool's joke played on me by the universe? Dunno.)

bye-bye dairy???

I'm starting a dairy-free month today. (This is going to be a MAJOR challenge for me -- I love, love, love cheese, and although my home is dairy-free, I really enjoy having a little cheese now and then, when I dine out.) Wish me luck! If I start moo-ning (har, har) about cheese on here, I apologize. I'll need all the words of encouragement I can get!

What prompted the dairy-free month? Well, a couple of things: I have been eating out WAY too much lately (and thus consuming WAY too much cheese,) my skin is really starting to clear up but it's not where I'd like it to be, and I have mysteriously gained five pounds. So, goodbye out-food (for the most part -- I also need to cut back on spending,) and good-bye to my beloved cheese.

I was, after all, born and raised in Wisconsin. A daughter of America's Dairyland does not part easily with her beloved fromage.

Man, I'm punchy right now.

keeping busy

So, yesterday I had the day off from work. Wee! Michelle and I had plans to have lunch at my house and hang out for a bit . . . that "bit" turned into the rest of the day! Michelle had had a crappy morning, and needed to keep her mind off of things. So, after we devoured scrambled tofu, French Toast (it turned out really well, even though I think I cut the bread too thickly,) grapefruit, and coffee, we headed to the mall. (No, not The Mall. I try to avoid the "black hole of death" at all costs, as does Michelle, even though she works there.) We tried to find a pair of red, low-top Chuck Taylor's for me. After several hours, and an Odwalla Strawberry C-Monster Smoothie each, I had no shoes. Other that the smoothies, we hadn't spent a penny. (Hey, the smoothies were good, by the way. No corn syrup . . . although each bottle still had 58 grams of sugar! Ingredients: orange juice, strawberry puree, apple juice, honey, concord grape juice, vitamin C, lemon bioflavinoids, and rose hips.) So, we drove over to Uptown to Urban Outfitters. Still no red Chucks. I did, however, buy a t-shirt with a print of several illustrations from Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax," and the quote, "I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees." ("The Lorax" is my favorite Dr. Seuss book, hands down.) I also bought a pair of China flats, although now we are being P.C. and marketing them as "canvas Mary Janes." I don't think it's wrong to call them China flats when "Made in China" is stamped on the bottom!!

We then stopped off at my apartment for a few minutes, so I could change clothes and drop off my shopping. We went over to Michelle and Ann's and I hung out with Ann for a little bit while Michelle changed clothes. Then, Michelle and I, (Ann wasn't feeling well,) drove downtown and had dinner at Gluek's. I had the mac and cheese, (German Spaetzle pasta in the best cheese sauce I've ever tasted -- it probably contained more saturated fat than I've had in the last month . . . oh well!), with a side of fresh fruit. We used my Minnesota Public Radio member card and received one of our entrees for free! The ambiance there is very cool, although it was a little strange to see a bunch of little kids running around a bar in downtown Minneapolis at 8:00 on a Friday night. (Michelle and I spent a long time trying to figure out where all the kids came from -- our best guess was there was maybe something like Disney on Ice going on at the Target Center? Who knows. It was a little odd.) Something else odd -- our server was wearing tall winter boots with cropped pants. It was, like, 40 degrees out last night. A fashion no-no? Oui.

After dinner, we walked over to the Fineline and saw White Light Riot, Omaur Bliss, Jessy Greene, and Vicious Vicious. The two bands we really went to see were White Light Riot and Vicious Vicious, so it was a loooooong night. (We didn't make it. We left partway through Vicious Vicious's set. I'll have to see them again sometime soon, preferably when they go on before midnight!) Here's my mini-review of the show:

White Light Riot: these guys never disappoint. They are musically tight, a lot of fun to watch, and babies (3/4 of the band are still under 21 years of age. It's kind of goofy to watch them jamming out with big, black "X"es drawn on the backs of both hands in Sharpie marker.) Their poor lead guitarist had trouble with his guitar, had to borrow a guitar halfway through the show, and ended up sitting down for a couple of songs because he couldn't figure out how to hook up his strap right away. The lead singer also accidentally threw the tambourine at the drummer. However, given they were playing another show later that evening at the Kitty Cat Klub, I think they breezed through all of those incidents just fine.

Omaur Bliss: these guys rocked! Well, that's if hip-hop artists can rock. I've never really cared for hip-hop and rap, although there's a huge underground rap and hip-hop scene in the Twin Cities. I guess I'll have to give hip-hop a chance -- I still don't like "booty" hip-hop, but I'm starting to warm to the intelligent, clever stuff.

Jessy Greene: these guys did NOT rock. Musically, I enjoyed them. However, the lyrics to her songs are mega-repetitive, (i.e., the choruses are typically the same phrase sung over and over again,) and I didn't care for either her or her backup singer's voices. And, as Michelle commented at one point, their hoochy thrift store dresses were really starting to get to her.

Vicious Vicious: I was too tired at this point to listen properly. I'll have to make a point of seeing these guys another time, and giving you the full lowdown. (Erik Appelwick, the frontman of Vicious Vicious, is also one of the geniuses behind The Hopefuls, who I love. Vicous Vicious definitely has a different sound than The Hopefuls, but I like it, so far.)

I have a serious case of "cotton in my ears" today, although I popped in the earplugs halfway thru the evening.

Today, Christine and I may be going shopping (for her -- although she has a sinus infection, so we'll have to see how she's feeling,) and later this evening, Tony, maybe Ann, and I are going to the Turf Club for Chris Koza's CD release party. I'm so glad Saint Paul went smoke-free as of this week, because the last time we went to the Turf Club, I had to do laundry right away.

Wish me luck -- it's "spring ahead" tonight, and I'm going to be out LATE! (And I have Church in the morning!)