Cow Chips and Sweet Corn! Oh, my!

Ah the joys of summer.   There’s nothing quite like it.   When I think of summer, I think of Fla-vor-ice popsicles, trips to the pool, the sound of the ice cream man in the distance, and chasing fireflies (we call them ‘lightening bugs’ where I’m from).  Wow.  Apparently, I’m a 9 year-old girl.   So, maybe it’s high time I make room for some new, more grown-up summer memories.

For instance, I enjoy the carefree simplicity of grilling out with friends, sharing a nice bottle of white wine, going to Cubs games (sorry Brewers fans), drinking cold beer on the lake, and playing bean bags with pals in the yard.  However, if I’m going to make room for these new summer memories, then I should probably make room for…..cow chips.

Yep.  That’s right.  Cow chips.  Don’t be fooled by the impressively deceptive “chip” in this situation.  We’re talking POOP, people.  Plain and simple.   So, save the date for the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw.  My new and ingenious  state of Wisconsin has managed to celebrate the tossing of cow poop for nearly 36 years.  Not only do they celebrate – they’ve created an entire festival around this delightful sport of cow poop throwing, with a 5K Cow Chip Classic Run (I call it the Poop Run), a Tournament of Chips Parade (can’t even begin to imagine what the parade queen wears on her head), a craft fair, food court, and more.  Needless to say…I’m. In. Love.

Wisconsin – you had me at “Cow Poop”.

But wait…it gets better.

After a long day of cow poop throwing, there’s nothing I love more than a nice bucket of sweet corn to take the edge off.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A bucket of corn.  Like this!

Sweet Corn from the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival

Bucket of Corn!

Last year, Danimal and I went to the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival, and it was pretty much the coolest thing EVER!  I know what you’re thinking.  “Lindsay – how on Earth could a corn festival be the coolest thing ever?!  Like, seriously… how?!”  Excellent question.   THIS is how…

Salt Shaker Apparatus

Friends, allow me to introduce you to the world’s most incredible invention ever.  It’s a salt shaker apparatus.  You could also call it a salt shaker tree if you like.  No matter what you call it, it’s a laundry rack holding 50 salt shakers dangling from strings.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

This was the first thing I noticed as I stepped into the fair grounds and quickly realized…”oh man, this is going to rock!”

After we got our large bucket of corn, we had to shuck it ourselves.  This was the least fun part.  But then, you enter the butter line.  There’s a whole row of people dedicated to this one simple, yet very important, task – buttering.

Our butter kid was especially nice.  Apparently, he was enjoying a promotion of sorts, as he had climbed the corn-fest- worker ladder, moving from garbage hauler to corn butterer in a matter of two years.  We were impressed.  But I digress.  This is the cool part – Butter Boy took our bucket of corn, and one by one, rolled our delectable ears into a large pan of butter.  Don’t believe me?   See for yourself…

Buttering corn at the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival

Butter Boy butters our corn!

Yeah, it was pretty much awesome.   And for the finale, we moved on to the now infamous salt shaker apparatus.  Very strategically we salted our 9 ears of corn, lifting and rolling to ensure sufficient salt coverage.  A success!  Then, we joined the masses of people strewn about the grounds, awkwardly eating corn in silence, with no chance in hell of either looking attractive or having a conversation, because every single soul in the place had teeth full of corn.  Lovely.

Hands down, summer is the best season of all.  I’ll probably say the same about fall once October rolls around, and same for winter once I have a lap full of Christmas presents.   But nevertheless, summer permeates my soul with a bounty of sweet memories that simply puts a smile on my face.

What are your favorite summer memories?

I Remember…Part 2 (long version…sorry)

Exactly one month and twelve days ago we said “I do” in the mountains of Colorado. It’s funny how, out of no where, memories of our wedding day just pop into my brain.  

My beautiful mother, Lana, with my handsome brothers.

 

For example, earlier today I was washing some leeks from the farmers market and BLAMMO – a vision of my mother from that day popped into my head, and it warmed me all over. I have never seen my mother look more beautiful than she was that day. She was utterly stunning. Perfection. Her dazzling pewter-colored dress made her look regal, chic, and frankly, pretty hot for a woman in her sixties! She floated about the day, doing more for me than I could ever imagine possible, with an elegance and grace that had me watching her in sheer awe.  

That memory of her sparked a million others. Still washing the leeks, I remembered how the day began – and it wasn’t pretty. No, it wasn’t puppy dogs and rainbows like every bride wishes the morning of her wedding to be. In fact, it was the opposite.  

After our wonderful welcome party the night before, Dan and I stayed up way too late, cramming to write the last checks for our vendors, calculating tips, sorting through a million last-minute details, and most important, perfecting our first dance surprise (more on that later). Dreams of getting a full night’s sleep at my parents’ condo were quickly squashed.  

We hardly slept a wink due to nerves and over-tiredness, if there’s such a thing. We woke up to a monsoon the morning of our wedding. W….T….F…?!? After a perfect week of beautiful Colorado summer weather, I knew rain and a dramatic temperature fall were in store for us, but I sort of just thought it wouldn’t happen. Ha! It did. Bleary eyed, Dan drove me to my parents’ condo to get ready.  He walked me inside, pulling my Mini Cooper-sized suitcase behind him. When he hugged me I broke down…crying on his shoulder. I was exhausted, and my spirit crushed by the persistent rain. The thing we all feared for 9 months was becoming our reality.  Our outdoor wedding seemed more and more unlikely with every passing minute.  

Our Plan B was to have the ceremony indoors in a tiny room with a very low ceiling. I knew in my heart our 97 guests and wedding party simply would not fit. So did everyone else involved. Rain was not an option.  

We quickly went into crisis mode dreaming up master plans of moving the ceremony to my parents’ beautiful and spacious rental condo or to the lobby downstairs. My dear friend and her mom were plotting and scheming, trying to figure out just how we could pull this off. I called our amazing wedding planner. She calmly talked me down from the edge. We decided to forge on and hold the wedding where it was intended. Each of us secretly praying the rain would stop in time.  

From that moment on, the fog in my head and heart lifted and I was like…”Bring it on!” Our hair and make-up artists began to arrive and I’m pretty sure I was dancing around the room like Monica from ‘Friends’ on her wedding day. We poured mimosas and my lovely bridesmaids began to arrive. Our photographer, Courtney, was snapping away, capturing the awesomeness of the occasion.  

Sara's 2-minute chalkboard sign and tiny cake topper medallions on our pretty dessert table. Yes, those are whoopie pies!

 

Sara, my amazing and favorite sister, was a rock star. Like, big time. I’m sure this happens to all brides, but I really excelled at NOT finishing most of the DIY projects I set out to do, including: chalkboard sign, cake topper, table numbers, button pins for wedding party… and about 5,743 other things. Sara is a talented artist and with her paints and pens she got down to business.  In a matter of minutes she whipped up a darling chalkboard sign, cake topper medallions, table numbers, and custom buttons for each of our 17 wedding party members. ROCK STAR!  

Tissue Poms galore! I think I have a new chandelier idea...

 

While I was getting primped and primed, my amazingly helpful bridesmaids worked to fluff the tissue poms I dreamed about from the moment Danimal proposed. I just love me some tissue poms. However,  I simply ran out of time during the week and figured they would be yet another wedding project casualty. But NOPE!  Bridesmaids to the rescue!  

At some point, my little brother corralled all 8 bridesmaids into the master bathroom and taught them the Lady Gaga ‘Bad Romance’ flash mob dance for the reception. How they all managed to learn this dance in 5 seconds still blows my mind! During all this commotion, the rain stopped and the sun squeaked through the clouds. Once two o’ clock rolled around, with one hour to go, they made the decision to have the wedding outdoors. Yesssssss!  

And then, it was time for me to put on my wedding gown. We hauled it into the main room so I could have that dramatic dress-slipping-on and mom-zipping-me-up moment. My dad walked in and I screamed…’DAD!! DON’T LOOK!!” and he dashed away. Then I realized that it was okay for my dad to see me in the dress…just not Dan.  Doh!  

Flash Mob practice! I believe this move is called the 'light bulb'.

 

Once the dress was on, I took a moment for myself in the powder room. I inspected my hair and make-up and twirled in the mirror. Just as I felt about my mother, I too, never felt more beautiful than I did on that day.  

Suddenly, it was go time. I was swept away to go meet Dan outside to have our first look. The photographers followed me like paparazzi as I made my way down the path to Dan.  Even from behind, he looked more handsome than ever. Ugh, that suit just killed me! He looked incredible. (I have such a crush on my husband) With butterflies in my stomach, I tapped his shoulder and he turned around. We both just laughed and hugged and cried a little (me, not him…yet). We just reveled in the moment, knowing what was about to happen. We walked back towards the waiting cars and exchanged gifts. And then, just like that, we were off – Mom and my brothers in one car, the girls in a bus, Dan and the photographers in their car, and then just me and my darling father in the limo.  

I sighed and looked at my dad, nervous and excited. He was stoic – hardly saying a word during our 3 minute drive to the lodge.  Since no thoughts or jokes came to mind, we just looked out the window and breathed.  

To be continued…

Sweet Jesus, I love Wisconsin!

Okay, this post really has nothing to do with Wisconsin other than the fact that the video you’re about to see took place in the fair state of Wisconsin – the Land ‘O’ Cheese. Last night, a bunch of us gathered to say farewell to our good friends N & T who are moving far, far away. Don’t even get me started on that topic! They will be deeply missed by all of us.

We were at my most favorite place in Madison – the Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin. I LURV this place. It’s where Danimal and I had one of our first Madison-based dates, where I drank an entirely too large pitcher of beer, spilled a whole bag of popcorn on myself, and tripped up the stairs on my way to the bathroom when I was trying to walk sexy and cute knowing he was probably watching me. But that story is for another time. He still managed to marry me, so it couldn’t have been that bad.

Anyhoo, the Terrace rocks. It was even featured in a bad/sometimes good (depending on your mood) Zack Braff movie, “The Last Kiss”. It’s located on the picturesque Lake Mendota and is typically flooded with people of all sorts – students, families, professors, elderly couples, Dungeons & Dragons players, gorgeous thirty somethings, and…

THIS GUY

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In a word, AWESOME.

I Remember…Part 1

Everyone warned me and Dan-the-man (whom I’ve decided I will start calling “Danimal” from here on out. It’s just easier to type – and it was my first nickname for the kid)….

Let me start over. Everyone warned me and Danimal about our wedding day. “Pay attention to every detail” they’d say….”Soak it all in” … “It flies by!!”…”We don’t remember a thing about our wedding…!” Needless to say, we got the message. We took it all in. Every delicious little second. And you know what? I remember. I remember the whole, beautiful, amazing, emotional, and perfectly magical day.

I think my most favorite part of the day was when the two men I love most in this world, came to a crossroads at the altar, and my father, having just walked me down the aisle to “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys – played by our wonderful bluegrass band, placed my hand into my love’s hand. That moment. That sweet, divine moment. I will never forget.

I remember holding Danimal’s hands and noticing he had this huge smile on his face and his eyes were smiling too. It was so sweet to see him like that. He seemed happy…like I was. Vain as I am, I also thought to myself…”Flex your triceps.”

I remember my legs were shaking and I thought…”Oh God. Legs…not now!” My veil began to blow all over the place and I kept wanting to pull it off my head. I was shivering when the wind picked up. I remember looking into the eyes of our dear friend Granville, who so graciously and touchingly married us. He spoke directly to us, a small smile on his face. It felt so personal and I remember listening to every word he said, which was sort of amazing for me (I usually space out at weddings or speeches) and actually thinking to myself…”Wow, you’re actually listening to Granville!” It was easy to. His ceremony was perfect.

I remember the two beautiful readings by our two equally beautiful friends. I remember looking over my shoulder at all of my gorgeous bridesmaids – standing there smiling at me, with their pashminas strewn over their head to keep the rain away from their hair. I remember Danimal’s sister, Jennifer’s, lovely song – sung a cappella. When Jen was singing the rain started to fall. Everyone was secretly wondering…”what do we do if it really starts to rain?”

We laughed, nervous from the rain. We squeezed hands. And then we exchanged vows – Danimal’s voice cracking at the very start of his and the emotion in his voice rang throughout my entire body, and I fell in love with him a million times over. The rain fell hard when it was my turn. I rushed through my vows, practically screaming them with joy. I’m pretty sure I even called him his special nickname, instead of Dan. It was pure and beautiful, and I wouldn’t change one thing.

I remember so many things from that day. Stay tuned as I recount the details over the next several weeks.

Going Org

Unlike our little darling, Sarah Palin, I am not Going Rogue. Rather, I’m going org… as in organic. I’ve been mostly organic for a couple of years – simply doing the best I can with food and personal/ household products. But now, as baby-making (whoa) looms in the not-so-far-off future, and the fact that I love someone so much that I want him to live forever (like I intend to)…I want to make an even stronger commitment to going organic. I want the best for us.

Even if the experts have yet to prove that organic food and products are better for us in the long run, that’s okay! I’m happy knowing that I’m as chemical-free as I can be. Yes, I still imbibe on wines and beers that aren’t organic and eat plenty of foods and use some products that are not organic – especially when I’m not at home. No worries! In the end, I just want to lessen the blow and do my part to keep potentially toxic chemicals and nasty pesticides out of me and away from the land and water we all share. I do the best I can. Fortunately, I am in the position to do so. Not everyone is.

What really burns my biscuits is that in our country, finding and being able to afford fresh, organic food is not always easy. My local Copps grocery store has a very limited supply of organic food and products. This seems to be the trend. Most mainstream grocery stores only offer a small amount, if any, organic products. Don’t even get me started on the shamefully limited fresh produce or even GROCERY STORES in many urban centers in the U.S. How can we be healthy if we can’t even buy healthy food?

When I started eating mostly vegetarian and dramatically reducing my dairy intake my body just changed. I dropped 10-15 lbs. without even trying and my reflux and migraines faded. It’s great! It’s also a lot of work, too. It costs a lot to buy all of that organic (and not organic) produce AND you have to be creative in the kitchen. Sometimes just grilling a chicken breast is a hell of a lot more appealing and speedy.

So, for our household, here are some ways we’ve made the “commitment” to going green and organic:

1. Switched to organic household cleaners & detergent and stopped using fabric softener sheets. Instead, we use these!

2. …Organic / recycled household paper products (not fully, but we’re working on it)

3. …Organic toiletry products (as much as I can manage) — Today I took to work a large box of stuff to work I didn’t want to use anymore. I put a sign on it that said “Help Yourself”. (The box was empty by the end of the day!)

4. …Organic soil and grass fertilizer

5. I cook mostly vegetarian/vegan ~ I cook only vegetarian meals for us at home, but will occasionally enjoy some meat at restaurants, etc.

6. IF I buy meat to cook and I can control the selection, I go organic/grass-fed beef. This is definitely an indulgence and we appreciate the treat. Overall, we’re trying to reduce our meat consumption for our health and for the environment.

Organic To Do List

1. Join my local organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program for heaps of fresh organic produce EVERY week! I’m very excited about this!

2. Switch to organic/cruelty-free cosmetics. This will be difficult for two reasons: 1) I’m vain. 2) I love make-up!

3. Next year I will attempt to grow my own organic vegetables, like my friends at DesignFarm do.

4. A million other things?!?!

Have you gone organic at all? What made you decide to do so? What has been your experience.

Toodles!

Cilantro is the Devil

Most people who know me know I like to eat. I love food. A lot. I love to cook it, smell it, look at it, talk about it, and have people prepare it for me. If you are going to be my friend, however, you must know two very important things about me and food.

1) I HATE cilantro. Cilantro is the Devil. In fact, to say I hate it is a gross understatement. I abhor, detest, LOATHE cilantro. The taste of cilantro makes me want to punch someone in the face. If even a fleck of it crosses my tastebuds, LOOKOUT! I know I’m not alone – there’s a whole world of cilantro haters out there. There’s even an explanation as to why we hate the stuff.

Sadly, I really want to love cilantro. I hate not being able to eat a dish because of it. Stupid cilantro – you’re such a jerk! My poor husband loves the stuff. On our second date, in order to woo him, I brought him a bunch of cilantro wrapped with a ribbon. I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t be around the evil stuff (I can’t. A part of me dies every second I’m near it). He is certain he will be able to change my fate and make me a cilantro lover one day. Uh huh. That’ll happen.

2) I get the most RANDOM and frequently changing food cravings. Not like “Ooh, I’d love something salty right about now”. Or “Wowee, a piece of chocolate would be delightful.” Nope. We’re talking seriously detailed and precise cravings. For example, last night I craved the truffle french fries from our favorite Breckenridge, Colorado restaurant, Modis. I’m in love with these fries. They’re the best fries on the planet (on my planet, anyway). Problem is – they’re 1,151 miles away. My only way out of this pickle was drive to the store to buy a bag of my favorite potato chips. I ate most of the bag while standing in my kitchen, my purse still on my shoulder, and the craving slowly disappeared. But they couldn’t hold a match to those beautiful french fried lovelies (call me!).

This adorable little quirk of mine is a total drag. You see, these cravings are impressively persistent. They don’t go away until they are satisfied, or, until I have moved on to the next craving, which is probably more likely. Remember when I mentioned “frequent”? Yeah – they don’t stop. NON-STOP! It’s a miracle I don’t weigh 250 pounds.

You’re probably wondering…”Why are you telling us this, Lindsay?” I feel you should know these two very important food-related details about me because if we become friends, you will 100%, without a doubt, be subjected to one or both of these shenangigans from time to time.

But other than that, there’s absolutely nothing else wrong with me, so we should be all squared away now.

Are there any foods that make you want to punch someone in the face?

Le Tour de France (aka My Christmas)

Happy Tour de France Day, people! Whoopee! Hooray!

Yes, it’s true. I am one of those people. I watch the Tour de France. Me and the 42 other fans of the Tour are sitting in our respective living rooms, completely gripped and excited, watching the first day of the Tour on our TVs.

I live for this day…for this month! I am infatuated with the Tour….with Lance Armstrong…with the color yellow. Love it. Love it. Love it.

This is my Christmas.

I’m serious. I write it on my calendar (all of them). Heck, I make countdown calendars with tear-off sheets, literally counting down to the first Saturday of July in sheer anticipation of this day. I prepare special foods to celebrate this great day (croissants today, croque monsieurs for the first mountain stage). I invite unwitting people over to watch exciting stages and wine and dine them only as the French would.

I even get dressed-up for the occasion…like right now (this is me wearing my Tour de France yellow cycling jersey that I can’t wear in public for fear of getting shot or hit by a cynical driver). It’s a disease. I can’t help it.

I wonder if this has anything to do with me being a little bit of a loner. Hmmm…

The Tour de France is one of my most favorite things in life. In fact, in my “Favorite Things” list, it ranks second. Here’s the list…

My Top 5 Most Favorite Things

1. Dan-the-man
2. Tour de France
3. Airplanes
4. Pizza (thin crust)
5. French Fries

I’m really quite simple. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. But right now…my head is about to explode! I’m practically tripping all over myself, running around in circles and clapping my hands. I think I even shot up in bed this morning as soon as I realized it was…morning, and yelled “The Tour begins today!!!” I might have even peed in my pants a little. It happens.

Do you watch the Tour? If not the Tour, what’s the kind of event or holiday that makes you run around in circles and clap your hands?

Time to watch the Tour. Au revoir, mon cheri!