Sunday, May 15, 2011


Mr. Z and I took an impromptu trip to Dubuque this weekend and had a really great time! It was a weekend filled with two of my favorite things, good food and fun art. In fact we found art everywhere we looked!

Our first stop was in Dickeyville to see The Grotto, a beautiful shrine erected by a Catholic priest in the 1930s.

It's made up of colorful rocks, shells and glass and it's quite a site to see.

Next stop, Dubuque. A river town filled with tug boats, and barges and locks... oh my!

Dubuque also features an "elevator" or little street car that makes its way up a very steep hill in the middle of downtown. After a tasty lunch at The Bank (a restaurant that used to be a bank and still features old, original vaults) we took a spin up the elevator. It was a little scary, but lots of fun.

After our trip up and down the hill, we walked over to the river walk, which features some beautiful art.

These two horses are amazing.

The attention to detail is unreal.

Another stop along the river walk was this old phone booth converted into a prayer station. We weren't sure if this was another piece of art or not. Either way, it looks like it's being used (knee pad is worn) and it's pretty cool.

After our walk about town, we stopped back at the hotel for a cocktail and then decided on a place called Pepper Sprout for dinner.

I had the bison tenderloin with balsamic onion jam and horseradish cream sauce over garlic mashed potatoes. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds. I think (I've never tried) it's hard to get bison right, because it's so low in fat it dries out quickly. But this was seriously delicious stuff.

And we even found art at the restaurant.

Don't be fooled. I ate my entire meal, these are Mr. Z's leftovers.

Most of today was taken up at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

When Mr. Z and I go to museums, we have a plan. We pick a time and place to to meet up and then I cruise the museum stopping at all the audio/visual displays and anything else that's pretty or sparkles and he reads every single sign and description posted. So you see, every time I go to a museum with my mister, I can plan on substantial "me time" built in at the end and Mr. Z gets to take his time pouring over the artifacts.

Today, I spent some of my extra time snapping photos (do you see Mr. Z way back by the propellers?).

Of course we couldn't leave the museum without saying hello to our favorite river friend Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain.

All in all we had a wonderful weekend. If you haven't spent time in Dubuque I highly recommend it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The incredible, edible egg.

One of the things I like best about weekends is making breakfast. Especially when our neighbors are supplying us with fresh eggs from their backyard chickens.

This morning I whipped up two different egg dishes to suit our individual tastes...

Mr. Z enjoyed a two egg scramble with chorizo, red onion, bell pepper and cheese along with two pieces of peanut butter toast.

I fixed myself two open faced sandwiches on wholegrain toast with cream cheese, sauteed red pepper and spinach and an egg on top.

Both plates filled with protein and nutrients to start the weekend off on the right foot!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring (or summer?) is here!

Yesterday was so beautiful. Mr. Z and I took advantage of the weather by cleaning the house. I know... not exactly fun. But it's great when you can do spring cleaning with every single window in the house open!

We finished off the day with pineapple shakes.

Very simple recipe: fresh pineapple and vanilla frozen yogurt in a blender. Blend and serve.

Days like yesterday are so good for the soul. After a long, stressful Madison winter, it was heartwarming to see families on bike rides, kids playing in the yard and tulips poking their head out for sun. These are the ingredients of a good life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Whatever happens....


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dinner is served!

Mr. Z returned home last night after a week on the road. We had plans to drive to Milwaukee for a post-Christmas party, so I hadn't planned something for dinner. However eight hours on the road was enough for him in one day, so we decided to stay home.

Gasp! What's a wife to do when her husband is hungry, tired and been eating at restaurants all week? Tear apart the kitchen, that's what!

I had some kale sitting in the bottom of the fridge for almost a week. This was the perfect night to turn it into something delicious. I sauteed onions and garlic, threw in some balsamic vinegar and red wine and reduced it until it was a thick sauce. Then I threw in the chopped kale.

Then I used the spinach I had been saving for green monsters as the base for a salad. We had some sad carrots begging to be used, along with a stalk of celery. Presto! A healthy salad.

And for the main course, you ask? Stouffer's! This lasagna magically appeared a few weeks ago in our freezer. It didn't look like something Mr. Z would have purchased on his own, especially since I do most of the shopping. As you can see it is "large size," which means it's more than enough for two hungry nibblers. But still... where did it come from?

It turns out that this was a gift from Mr. Z's lovely mother. She a no-cottage-cheese-in-the-lasagna kind of girl. Which is perfect, because I LOVE cottage cheese in the lasagna! And this unexpected treat completed the dinner perfectly!

Thank heavens for microwavable main courses, mothers in law and safe returns home!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

For my birthday, Mr Z got me a new camera. I love it! Although my iPhone takes great pictures, my new camera is fantastic. Note the difference below in a series I call "Two P's in a Pod."

Mirror, mirror on the wall...


Who is the fairest of them all?

Canon PowerShot
The pretty princess in the stall?


The one against the bathroom wall?

Canon PowerShot

I guess the stud will have to say.


But wait. Which one? For beer or hay?

Canon PowerShot prince charming!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1. Last night I made some new friends. It was Red's birthday and we went out for drinks and pizza after work. She has some really neat new friends from work and it was nice chatting with and getting to know them!

2. Today I learned that something really can be to sweet for my palate. I made Bob's Red Mill 8 grain hot cereal for breakfast and added two dried dates and 1/2 T Skippy peanut butter. WAY too sweet! We have Skippy left over from Christmas baking and since I'm used to spreading the all natural (only peanuts) peanut butter on my bread, eating Skippy straight up was kind of a shock.

3. And even though it's 6:30 in the morning and I'd much rather be in my cozy bed, I'm grateful for today. A good job waiting for me, Bikram yoga after work and a dinner with family to top it off. I'm a lucky lady!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1. Today I made a friend laugh so hard that his drink went down the wrong pipe. I can't even remember exactly what I said (or I can, and it's not fit for grandma's eyes) but to me laughter is such an important part of life and it's nice to know that I share it with others.

2. Tonight I learned a new yoga practice: Yin Yoga. I'm going to start taking yoga again and I thought I'd pair a weekly Bikram class with a new class at the studio called Yin Yoga. Tonight was the first Yin class and I really liked it. It was a lot of long, deep stretches. Very soothing.

3. And I'm thankful that my brother-in-law is flying in tonight to celebrate Christmas with us this weekend. He and his lovely wife weren't able to spend any time with us in December, but he's flying in as I type and will be spending a week with us! As I mentioned yesterday, I love family time. And I love it when Mr. Z and I get to spend time with his family making memories that will be shared for years to come!

Monday, January 3, 2011

1. Today I made a delicious dinner of whole wheat pasta, chicken sausage, red peppers, onions and red sauce. Yummmm!

2. I learned that the iPhone carries an awesome Weight Watchers app that even includes the particulars for the new Points Plus program. And I used this new tool to learn that you can enjoy (or waste) two points on 18 milk chocolate M&Ms.

3. And not just today, but everyday I am so thankful for my family. Around this time of year I get to see them A LOT! We've spent almost every weekend together since Thanksgiving, which is such a blessing. I'm grateful to have parents that set an example with 34 years of marriage, brothers who are as smart and funny as they are kind, a sister (in-law) who is as close and wonderful as any sister I could have imagined and a husband who I love beyond words.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Today was a pretty lazy day for me. In the past ten days, I've worked one. Between the holidays and furloughs, I've been spoiled (well, except for that whole leave without pay thing....).

I spent the day lazing about and watching movies. I also cleaned the kitchen, which was a chore. Anyway, here are my daily three:

1. Today, I made a family budget and debt payment schedule. I recently took a new position that came with a raise (yay!) so we're sorting out how we are going to pay off certain debt quicker.

2. I learned about autism, squeeze machines and slaughter houses. I watched Temple Grandin, the HBO feature film and it was really good. My favorite part of the whole movie is when she is describing why it's important to implement systems that will keep the cattle calm up until the very last second before slaughter. She says (referring to the animals), "Nature is cruel but we don't have to be. We owe them some respect." As an omnivore, I completely agree.

If you haven't already seen the movie you should check it out: Temple Grandin (the movie)

Plus, I just learned that Temple was inducted to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame! Lucky lady! Temple Grandin's Official Autism Website

3. And I give thanks to credit. Although it can be a nasty curse, I've used credit to finance my college education, purchase a safe vehicle and put a roof over my head. I am thankful that I have the resources and education to use the financial opportunities presented to me in a responsible way.

I hope you all have a restful Sunday!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Three Things a Day

I've been inspired by a new blog: Eleven in 2011

For me, eleven things a day is a lot, but I LOVE the idea. So I'm going to scale it back to three things. Every day I'd like to:
  1. Make something
  2. Learn something
  3. Give thanks
And I'll keep track on the Bean Blog!

Today I made two more re-usable Christmas bags out of festive fabric that can be used instead of wrapping paper (see above photo).

I learned that Rose Bowl Parade floats must be made of all organic material (flowers, plants, food, etc.) and that Al Roker loves him some Bucky Badger!

And I am so thankful for our warm, cozy house that keeps us comfortable in this frigid weather.

Feel free to play along in the comments!