Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Europe Trip-- The beginning

I didnt feel like scribbling away in my journal today about this trip so I thought I'd do a little typing. But I suppose I should start at the beginning. On June 8th my brother and I piled our belongings into the back of our friend's car and rode to the bus station. There we bid farewell to our friend and our Mom and said 'see ya soon,' (soon meaning 63 days)before boarding the bus that would take us to Chicago, to board a plane that would take us to Zurich, Switzerland. I calmed my nerves with two giant glasses of red wine and then boarded the plane for our 8 hour flight over the ocean. This was my 5th transatlantic flight and my brother's first. Of course now they have seats equipped with flat screens so between meals, a few movies and perhaps a little nap, you're there. Well, mine didnt work half the time and the guy behind me was so tall that every time he blinked my seat lurched forward.. but all in all it was not so bad.

Upon our arrival in Zurich, our Aunt Kathy picked us up and we made the 2 hour drive back to their house in Gundelfingen (just outside Freiburg) where we would call home for the next two months. Ahh the vacation high. You think jet-lag is a myth still at this point and have so much energy regardless of how long you have been traveling. But I knew better so I took Kathy's advice, took a 2 hour nap and then we went for a lovely hike with the dog, Goldie, and our cousin Nick. Great remedy for minimizing jet-lag.
Beer garden in Freiburg

View of the Munsterplatz from dinner.

The next day we went into town on the train (7 mins..trains are awesome) and just sort of got our wigs on straight. Saturday, we went to Alsace in France. Isn't that great you can just hop on over to France like hopping down to Chicago. Well not everyone can, but they live so near to the border that it's possible. We went to this place called the Eco Musee, think Old World Wisconsin, but French. At the Eco Musee we stopped to have a coffee and fresh croissant that they make in this little rustic bakery right on the premises. I could really eat fresh croissants for the rest of my life and be happy. Crunchy outside and warm flaky buttery inside. Yum! Then.. my favorite part of the day.. we took the Route Du Vin back and stopped off to sample some wine. Of course in this region we're still so close to Germany that it's a lot of German type wines and mostly white. Which are still good,but not necessarily what the many consider to be "French" wine.

The following Thursday we were leaving for Spain with the family, and that was to be our first trip, but Kathy and Martin urged us to take a daytrip somewhere to get our feet wet. Early the next week and very early in the morning we hopped a train.. using the first day on our rail pass and headed to Kandersteg in the Swiss Alps where we would hike up to this beautiful mountain lake, Oeschinensee. It didnt take long once we were on the train for the scenery to change from the rolling mounds of the Black Forest to the amazing view of the Alps. In some places they were green, some snow capped, waterfalls here and there, and all along if you looked down to the towns below you could see this crystal clear rushing river. Well, I am sure it was several rivers, but you get the idea. Stepping of the train we looked all around us and we're surrounded by beautiful mountains and off a little ways you could see the quaint little resort town of Kandersteg. As my brother said.."cue the Paramount logo." I've seen mountains before, even the Alps (in Chamonix) but these were amazing. Perhaps I was still on that vacation high. Before we started along the path that would take us up (ok part way on a cable car, but really its the only way in this area) we set out to find some lunch. We browsed a few outdoor menus but decided on one that looked a little more cozy. I asked if we could sit outside and the owner opened his arms, smiled, and said, "Please please sit anywhere you like, relax, enjoy!" He was like that the whole meal. I had a quiche and it was delicious and good fuel for our hike. We spent the afternoon hiking up towards the where the lake, then down to the lake and then wandering as far as we could around it before a cave and a waterfall cut off our path and we had to return. It was a weekday so it was quiet. Almost eerily so. You could hear the waterfalls and the streams they produced gurgling their way into the lake. It really amazing and the photos below really do not do it justice. It was such a lovely day. The train ride home however..well, that's another story. The trains in Europe are an entry all their own so I will leave you here with this lovely picturesque view of our first excursion. Pretty soon it was off to Spain for week!!

All the cows had bells on so when walking through
it sounded like windchimes!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Countdown to Europe Summer 2011!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Tides Are Changing

Wow.. ok. Things are starting to change around here and not just in terms of snow melting, birds chirping stuff, as in my life.

During my college years at UW-Milwaukee I had a lot of fun, pulled off decent grades, changed my major 1/2 way through, took 18 credits most semesters, paid my own way, and somehow managed to graduate in four years without killing anyone or myself. I was so relieved when it was all over. My fellow classmates were all terrified. How would they make ends meet if they didn't find a job?! I was elated to know that now all I had to do was work. After working basically full time and going to school full time, it could only get easier. And it did. But then it got boring. Was this what I had looked forward to? Being behind a desk for the next 40 odd years of my life.. I started to feel trapped, but what else was I going to do? Go back and finish my psych degree and get my PhD, be in school and in debt forever? Nope. Find another job in my field that wasn't as boring to me? I thought about it, but all those other jobs are my clients and I see them all the time and they don't look any happier. We all have this 'live to work' mentality. I wanted to work to live (i think i caught that bug on my recent Europe trip). I at least wanted to do something that felt less like work. I figured if I'm going to work for beans, I may as well seek out something that makes me happy enough not to care.

But how.. I have the balls to take a risk and start over? I wasn't really so sure. All this 'soul - searching' started when my Dad was sick and dying. I was so pissed off being at work, doing a job I hated that made no difference to anyone while I could have been spending precious time with my Dad. That's when I made a deal with myself. Right before he passed away in late August of 2009, I gave myself two years. I told myself that I had two years to really figure out what I wanted to do and start the steps to make that change.

Now, after 4 years of nearly drowning in undergrad in Journalism and then 5 years of working a job that I enjoyed and now loathe I am starting all over. As of Fall 2011 semester (just as my 2 year deadline is up) I will be back in full student mode. This time as a Baking & Pastry Arts student. I found out yesterday that my number was up and I was no longer wait-listed. I went through several emotions in 5 seconds... starting with happy moving on to sad, then terrified and wrapping up somewhere between excited and hopeful.

I'll spare you the details as to how I landed in Baking & Pastry arts, but that's where I've landed. Soon I will have to break the news to the powers that be here at my family-sized office. I'll be happy to leave the job, but sad to leave the people.

But before I begin my journey into chocolates, pastries, and more flour than you can possibly imagine.. I am taking a break. I have been going to school, working or some combination of the two since I was 14. This summer I will be doing neither. June 8th my brother and I are packing up and heading to Europe and won't return until August 11th. Just enough time to unpack, unwind, find part time jobs and start school.

I think my life is about to get more interesting. I hope that I'm able to articulate that here. I hope that someone out there not happy with their current situation stumbles here and maybe thinks they can start over too. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and I just hope that my Dad would be proud of me taking a chance to do what makes me happy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

22 Days til Christmas

Shame on me I know. Well I can't help it. They've been shoving it down my throat around here since the middle of October. Just a few steps from my office there's a park that puts up lots of adorable decor and christmas trees decorated by kids and one giant one made of lights. Well its been up for weeks and I CANT STAND IT. Every year it just shows up earlier and earlier. Next thing you know it will be up after Labor Day and then 4th of July. Might as well just leave the damn thing up all year! I love Christmas, but this makes me dread it. Please, just let me enjoy my Thanksgiving feast and subsequent food coma before you start bombarding me with tinsel and jingle bells!

However, I suppose it is really not too early to be thinking about Christmas lists. Unfortunately, the list of people I shop for has shrunk considerably the last year and a 1/2 (fortunate for my wallet I suppose). So, taking a wise bit of advice from my friend Gabby, and fellow blogger, I suggested to my family that we pick charities and donate in each others' names this year. A mutual friend just took a trip with her husband to Haiti, and while I may donate to that cause, I thought it best to let everyone pick their own. But with so many people out there in need.. how do you choose? Who's most deserving? What charity is best? Well after lots of Google searches trying to weed out the legitimate sites from the not so much ones, I came across Charity Navigator. This site has tips on how to pick, how to contact local charities in your area, and shows stats on how efficient the charity is. Because no one wants to donate their money to a charity that spends more in overhead than they do on the cause in which you are trying to support.

Still with so many needy people and worthy causes, it is so hard to pick. After looking through and through this site, I thought perhaps it would be best to donate locally. I haven't fully made up my mind yet, but I'm leaning towards the Wisconsin Humane Society. Nothing pulls at my heart strings more than sad and unloved furry animals. And obviously, Haiti and Chile and all those other places in the World. I guess just take pause this year when making that list of yours and think to yourself, do I really need the newest ipod or whatever? Sure there are things we all want, but there are so many out there that don't have the things they need(and that we all take for granted). And if you really can't imagine not unwrapping things on the 25th of December, then how about donating your time to a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter Or donating old coats and mittens.

Ok, there's my pitch! And thanks again to Gabby for planting the idea in my head in the first place.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tomato Romp 2010

The only sounds to be heard were fits of laughter, cheers from the bystanders... and the squishy sound of tomatoes being thrown into the faces, bodies, arms, legs of your peers. It was the EastSides 4th Annual Tomato Romp.

The fun began at 1130 a.m. For my friend, Alyssa and myself. Once our places in the Tomato fight at 4pm were secured we hopped in a 2 block long line on North Ave. to get our slips for the Bloody Mary tasting. Our mission: Sample bloody marys (with chasers) from 11 bars in a 3 block radius by 3pm. Sounds easy right? Especially since they were little bloodies and chasers. I thought to myself, 'there is no WAY I will get drunk from these.' I was wrong. We made the mistake of taking our good sweet time at the 1st three bars. Then I checked my phone and it said 1:30. I turned to Alyssa and told her we had 1.5 hours to hit 8 more bars and turn in our sheets. (not that I cared about the contest..i just wanted the bloody marys). So then we were on a mission. We slammed both bloody and chaser at the next 6 bars, and then saved the best 2 for last (Von Trier & Hooligans).

I hour to go til the fight begins and North Ave was swarming with bloody mary-filled people at 3 in the afternoon. So what to do? Have a beer of course! A giant one. Now we were sufficiently buzzed, changed into our tomato clothes (big thanks to my wonderful Mom for holding our stuff) and ready to get in the cage.

3.....2.....1....... TOMATO FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Alyssa: red on left. Me: In dark blue on right (arms up)

see the pink umbrella?? that's my Mom.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Line Is That Way Boys

Ok ok ok.. I have a confession. I am now among the online dating community. Yes, that is correct, I, Kaylie, joined I swore up down sideways and back that I would never in a million over  my dead body try dating online. I'm a romantic. I love the thought of locking eyes with someone across the room and from there a fabulous love affair ensues. Well... those moments are usually a result of too much vodka and all that ensues is a whole lotta regret.

So it all started with a slow day at work and a personality test from I love these things because its funny to see what the results are. Anyway, chemistry is a new offshoot of match (stay away from chemistry.. its dumb) and so my curiosity took me further. "I'll just look," I told myself. Don't have to subscribe to look. Well, then the next morning I had TEN emails and in order to read those e-mails I had to subscribe (pay $$). And so then it was official. I was online dating. And you know.. its not so bad. The boys have been lining up and I'm just your average girl. Or maybe because I'm not 300 lbs and I have all my teeth or something. Some of the emails I get are really crazy though....

"Hi. I see you like to cook. I have to say you look just like my exgirlfriend... she liked to cook to, but she also had no soul. Want to get to  know eachother...."
"I'm currently separated, I have 5 kids, but they don't live it a home....." 

There have been others, but those two are my favorite. On the other side of things, there are some really great, seemingly normal, good looking gentlemen. I've been on 5 dates so far. 2 of which will not be repeated, one that seemed like he'd make a really awesome friend, and the other two have some potential. There are others, but seriously this whole answering emails, scheduling dates, etc, is time consuming. Not to mention going on dates with strangers is nerve-racking. Everytime I do I want to call and cancel because its stresses me out. By the way, a martini is a good cure for that. Just one though. It's poor form to get wasted on the first date.

Well.. there now I feel better having got that off my shoulders. I'm sure there will be more to tell soon.

Happy Friday the 13th!!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In a Cake Jam? Bake a Jam Cake!

Last night I made a Lemon Semolina Jam Cake (well minus the semolina flour because I could NOT find it). I stumbled upon this recipe through reading blogs that other blogs I read follow. You follow me? Good. And I came upon the Pastry Studio . Everything this woman has on here looks just delicious! It is summer and I though something light a refreshing would be good and this cake appeared to fit the bill.

For the jam, I made a raspberry and fig jam. Super duper easy. First: make a simple syrup and then add the fruit. Recipe below.

Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water

Bring the water and syrup to a boil in a saucepan. Then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes - or until all the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Raspberry Fig Jam
- 1/2 cup simple syrup
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
- handful (6 or so) dried black mission figs halved
- 2 T Brandy (optional)

Bring all ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan. Allow to cool slightly and transfer to a food processor & blend!

I let my jam set in the fridge first before I put it on the cake. I suppose it depends on the thickness of your  jam. I really know nothing of making jam.. this was just an adaptation of a similar recipe I have.

As usual when I bake a cake, I don't want it lying around the house so I bring it to work. I judge the worth of a recipe by how much is left by lunchtime. It is currently 10:09 and there is 1/2 left so I guess it is pretty tasty.

Thanks Pastry Studio!