Leek, Chard & Corn Flatbread

I’m gearing up to head out of town for 6 weeks for my new job. I get to come home briefly on the weekends, but my poor fiance is going to have to fend for himself at dinner time during the week. He is very capable of feeding himself. He’s a wonderful cook and he’s even the master behind the homemade pasta that I posted yesterday. But when it comes to being alone and feeding himself he tends to forget about eating until he’s starving and then he downs a frozen pizza.
I guess I’m just worried about him (mostly because I’m going to just miss the heck out of him) and my hope is that if he is going to eat pizza every day that he at least makes a healthy version like this 
Leek, Chard & Corn Flatbread from Smitten Kitchen. 
It’s delicious and easy to make. It is definitely way better than the food I’ll be cooking up in my hotel microwave! 
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Manie

~ A view of Milwaukee from Lakeshore Park ~

I love that I am constantly discovering new beauty in my city. The weather this weekend was gorgeous and I took every opportunity to be outside in it. I had a Girl’s Night Out, a nature walk with my mom, and a Sunday afternoon spent enjoying the sunshine and delicious food.

 ~ Checking out Lucille’s Piano Bar in preparation for my Bachelorette Party ~
Margo is too pretty!
 ~ Lakeshore Park ~
~ Homemade Pasta ~

The 1-3-5 List

I am a list maker. I am an obsessive list maker. I make lists of lists.

Despite the environmentalist in me I use a forest’s worth of paper in post-it notes on a daily basis.

I’ve heard about the 1-3-5 list before, but I’ve only recently started using it and so far I’m in love. It reigns me in from making my list excessive, but it also lays things out so that I actually accomplish them.

Check out 1-3-5.com for a virtual version of the list and get ready to spring clean your cluttered mind!

My 20’s Bucket List

I didn’t realize how many cool things I’ve done already by the age of 23 until I started writing my 20’s Bucket List. I was looking for ideas to inspire me, but I’ve done so much of what is on other similar age appropriate bucket lists (or it’s things I just don’t care about like partying in Vegas). Mostly because those lists were a bit lame and included things like “move out of your parents house”. Which I respect, because I didn’t go away to school so I definitely felt like I lived at home longer than everyone else. But I digress! I’ve seen some natural wonders of the world, I’m SCUBA certified, I can cook, I’m about to get married, I did cancer research, I live in a city where I have amazing food and fun, I just got a “grown-up” job.

It’s funny how I compare myself to other people and think that I just live the most boring life ever. I’m a list person so I guess I needed to sit down and make one to figure out that my life is actually pretty amazing.

I’m so thankful for everything that I have experienced, everyone in my life, and everything that I have, but I always need to strive for more.

1. Learn a language…fluently!

I took 4 years of Spanish and hell if I can even speak one sentence of it now. For some reason I just really want to learn French so I can go to France and order some wine without looking like a tool.

Update May 2015: Thanks to duolingo I’m working to get back in the Spanish habit and start on my French.

Update September 2016: This is not really happening. I don’t know.

2. Re-learn ballet.

I took ballet for about 10 years as a kid. I really loved it, but was heart broken when my instructor decided to leave her studio to dance in Chicago and I gave it up. Ballet is the OCD girl’s dance.

Update March 2014: Worked on it, not nearly as fun as I remember.

3. Visit New Orleans.

I don’t know why I want to spend time there so badly, but I want to soak up some voodoo and eat a bunch of beignets.

4 – 6. See the Northern Lights, learn astronomy, get a telescope.

I feel like these three are related. I had a telescope as a kid and I’m pretty sure I saw a UFO. Don’t laugh! My dad is in the aircraft field and I called him while he was at work one night to tell him about what I saw. He told me that only 1 plane could do what I described and there were only a couple of them left in the world. Therefore, I decided it had to be a UFO. SHUT UP.

Update December 2013: Merry Christmas to me!

7. Become a Wine Connoisseur.

Update October 2013: I have yet to find a wine I don’t enjoy. Grenache is the new fav!

Update March 2014: Unless I become a sommelier (not in the plans) this item will just be ever evolving for me. I’m at a point where I think I can cross this off of the list, but I’ll never stop trying new wines!

8. Meditate daily and practice yoga on a regular basis.

Update March 2014: This is another item that will ever be complete, but I will say I’ve had a solid three months of regular meditation & yoga practice. It feels wonderful.

9. Donate Blood.

I have the universal donor blood type and I am a universal chicken that needs to suck it up and give someone my blood.

10. Invest My Moolah in the Market.

Done September 2013!

11 – 12. Visit Pike Place and Go Whale Watching.

Done September 2013!

13. Attend some TED Talks.

Update May 2015: Honestly, I can’t find any talks to actually attend!

14. Learn more about US & World history.

I feel like everyone knows more than I do.

Update September 2016: New party trick alert! I have the US Presidents memorized in order. Test me!

15. Become passionate about a cause or charity and get actively involved.

Update March 2014: Looked into several organizations and donated to many, but haven’t found one I’m excited about quite yet.

Update May 2015: This is the first year that Bryce and I are starting to feel like real Milwaukee residents to the point where we’ve become sustaining members of local radio stations and started to meet and network with more people in the city. I still don’t have a particular charity that I’m involved with, but I don’t want to jump into something and feel like I need to be fully committed to it quite yet.

16. Visit the Smithsonian.

17. Travel, travel, travel.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Update March 2014: Another item that will never be done. Seattle & Portland have been checked off the list!

Update May 2015: The travel was minimal this past year as we’ve been working to save money and pay down debts. It will be a lot easier to travel when we don’t have that monkey on our backs anymore!

Update September 2016: This year I was able to do some major travel. I’ve been to Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, and the Philippines!

18. Revamp my wardrobe and own everything that J. Crew makes.

Okay, that part may be a bit unrealistic.

Update October 2013: I’m no longer allowed to buy shoes from Target because they fall apart after a week and they make my feet hurt. Husband says I’m only allowed to buy good shoes from now on so that he doesn’t have to hear me complain. You don’t have to twist my arm!

Update March 2014: Definitely getting there! Moving motivated me to clean out my closet. Got rid of the junk and I have purchased several higher quality clothing items in recent months (many from J. Crew).

Update May 2015: I’ve really focused on clearing out my wardrobe the past few months and replacing pieces with higher quality items. I have a much more minimal wardrobe now and I actually love the clothes that I have. I’m no longer keeping anything for sentimental value or with the idea that I’ll need it for something someday. We all know that day was never going to come!

19. Trade in our falling apart cheap furniture.

Get a new mattress, couch, and some real bookshelves.

Update October 2013: We have a new TV stand and dining room chairs. It’s a start!

Update May 2015: We’ve updated quite a bit. Most importantly, we have a new mattress from Tuft & Needle that I absolutely love. I’d still love a new couch at some point, but I think ours has a couple years left in her.

Update September 2016: Real bookshelves are a go! Just deciding on when to get that couch. I have one picked out, I’m just not sure we should get it while we are still living in our current place. I think maybe I’ll go for it once we have a house.

20. Get married to my best friend.

Done September 2013!

What’s on your bucket list?

Wedding Cake – Help Me Decide!

As many of you know, Bryce and I have been engaged for a long time. That means I’ve had far too much time to change my mind about what I want for our wedding.

For most of that time we didn’t want a wedding cake. We were going to do some kind of dessert buffet and cut into a fruit tart for the symbolism. My parents didn’t have a wedding so definitely no wedding cake. On their 25th anniversary last year I threw them a surprise party and made a cake so they could finally cut into it together.

That made me realize I wanted us to have a wedding cake (that and my mom pestering me – love you mom!). But now the decision has to be made…what do I want my wedding cake to look like?!

Help me out! Let me know which of these cakes is your favorite.

Spring Green Pasta

Bryce and I went to the Cubs vs Brewers game on Sunday and we ate so much junk food. It’s a ball game. Junk food is a requirement. Nachos Grande, Loaded Potato, Soft Serve…

Okay, we didn’t eat nearly as much junk food as the people around us, but I definitely felt like major crap later that night and the next day so I decided to made the healthiest darn pasta you ever did see!

It’s a typical Ashley recipe where the measurements are made up and the points don’t matter!

Spring Green Pasta

1 Head of Broccoli, chopped
1 Bunch of Asparagus, broken up
2 Large Kale Leaves, ripped up
A Handful of Snap Peas
1 Avocado, diced
8 oz Fresh Pasta (seriously, use fresh pasta)
Salt & Pepper
Shredded cheese like Parmesan to top

Prep all of your veggies (not the avocado) and cook down in a large sauce pan with a lid over medium heat until everything is tender. Add water throughout to keep it steaming.

Boil water and cook pasta according to directions.

Salt and pepper the veggies.

Mix the veggies, pasta, and diced avocado together. Serve topped with cheese.

My body is thanking me for this meal!

Lovin’ on the Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

It seems like everyone has really great blog posts for Earth day with tips on how to live a sustainable lifestyle by recycling, shopping locally and even by using natural beauty products. Those are all wonderful and important, but it kind of feels like …alright already! Tell me something I don’t know!

I mean, that could be because I study Environmental & Conservation Science and living an environmentally sustainable lifestyle is a huge priority for me. But that is also why I think it’s important to share with you some information for why you should even give a crap about buying one lotion over another. It’s really easy to disconnect our actions from what is happening to the Earth overall especially when we ignore the damaging evidence for more “important” news like which celebrity got arrested (looking at you Reese Witherspoon!) and which team won the game (never the Cubs 😦 ).

Somehow, at the same time, it feels like everyone just wants you to be a B.O. and patchouli scented hippy that lives in a commune, but that really isn’t necessary. I live an environmentally-conscious lifestyle everyday and I think I smell pretty good. I’m no where near perfect, but it’s not about that. It’s about slowing down, preventing, and reversing the damage to our planet that little by little we each contribute to every day.

My favorite climate cartoon!

When I started writing this I wanted to share specifics of the damage being done to our planet, but honestly, where could I even begin?

Should I tell you about our endangered US rivers that are disappearing because we are overdrawing the water with outdated management techniques?

What about the lasting effects of the BP oil spill? Nope, that’s not over yet. How about daily oil dumps from cruise ships?

You probably know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But did you know we have our own growing garbage patch here in the Great Lakes?

I could never begin to tell you about everything that is happening to our planet (I only know a fraction), but I can tell you how to become informed yourself.

1. Subscribe to Above the Fold, a daily newsletter from Environmental Health News. Above the Fold aggregates environmental headlines from across the world so that you don’t need to dig to have the facts at your fingertips.

2. Check out Mother Nature Network. It’s like CNN for the Earth.

3. There are bajillions of documentaries to watch. My favorite series is called Oceans. It is beautiful and I learned so much from it.

3. Make a sustainable lifestyle a priority! It’s nearly impossible to read the news and not learn anything about the environment. It’s like when you buy a new car and suddenly you see your car everywhere you look. Once you start looking for information, you won’t stop finding it.

We will deal with the consequences of a damaged planet in our lifetime – it’s not just about future generations anymore. In 35 years, 1/3 of land mammals may be extinct and the Arctic summer ice will be completely melted. I might not even have grand kids by then!

The Earth needs you to give a crap!