Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grilled Caesar Salad

It's been very hot here in Cleveland, but at least it cools down at night. It's been perfect grilling weather and since we've been so busy outside, we've been grilling most evenings. I love how a grill can turn a simple meal into something amazing! Last night we had steak and caesar salad - both prepared on the grill! I was inspired by my friend Taylor over at Greens and Chocolate to make this grilled caesar salad, and it was awesome! Bryan loves caesar salad, and we eat it often. I like it too, but I like to add variety to my weekday meals. This salad was the perfect way to make something classic and turn it into a completely new dish. We totally loved it and will be making it all summer! An added bonus is this salad (well the entire meal really) was super fast to prepare and cook on the grill! That may have been because I cheated Taylor's recipe and just used caesar dressing that we had on hand because I didn't have time to go buy more ingredients and didn't have time to spend preparing anything either. The end result was still delicious and I don't plan on changing a thing! It's the perfect summer side dish!

Grilled Caesar Salad
Adapted from Greens and Chocolate
You can see Taylor's version here

Here's what I did:


2 romaine hearts
caesar dressing
parmesan cheese


Cut the romaine hearts in half the long way, keeping the layers together. Leave the end intact for grilling and cut it off when you plate it.

Brush each inside half with a thin layer of caesar dressing and then place them on the grill with the inside half face down. Grill for 2 minutes on medium heat and remove from the grill.

Brush the inside half of the greens with another thin layer of caesar dressing. Top with tomatoes, croutons and parmesan cheese.

Patio Project Day 5

The past 2 days have been spent leveling and tamping the hole we've dug for the patio. Bryan has been so hard at work! It's ready for the pavers when we get back next week!

Dimitri, clearly, is loving life in the new house while we're out hard at work!

I tell ya, he's living the life :) (Oh, Judy - that toy you see in the corner is the one you gave him! He loves playing with it on the stairs!) He's currently running around to all the windows watching and chasing fireflies. I think this is the first night they're out and he's never seen them before! What a cutie!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Patio Project Day 3

Well, after a long day of shoveling and hauling, one hole is dug out and the other is filled! We are completely exhausted. We are ahead of schedule on this project, so we are very glad that tomorrow will be a lighter day. All we have to do is level the base and make sure the edges are straight and where we need them to be.

 That is one beautiful hole. 11x16 and 6 inches deep.

We are very lucky to have a great neighbor who has a friend with a rototiller that we could borrow for the day. All the dirt we transferred was rototilled (by our awesome neighbor!) as well as the hole we dug out. This made everything so much easier! It's so satisfying to see such progress in one day! Since this is a very short week for us here, we'll start laying the patio next week after Bryan's graduation!

Patio Project Day 2

After a day of hauling away rocks yesterday, the concrete slab is gone!! There is one last truckload left sitting in our garage because the landfill closed yesterday before we were done hauling loads there.

I'm a little sore today, but it's time to man up because today is full of more manual labor fun. We're digging the 6 inch deep base for the patio! We'll also be hauling the dirt across the yard to fill the hole that was left by the concrete slab. Let's go move some dirt!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Home Update, Niagara Falls

Bryan and I have lived in our new house for about three and a half weeks now, and we've been so busy getting things done! Our time to get things done is quickly running out. Bryan's graduation is in Chicago next weekend, and a few days after that we take off for an Alaskan cruise with Bryan's family for 11 days! The day after we get back, Bryan starts his residency! The heat is on!!

For a little while, the blog will turn into a home project blog while we get things done. We have been cooking most days, but it's all simple favorites and repeats of recipes you've already seen on the blog and there's no reason to take photos of those! Running hasn't been a part of my routine lately either. I've been doing the Insanity workouts every day, which are awesome! I don't feel the need to blog about my workouts right now since we're so busy. I barely have time to sit down at my computer!!

Every day we try to use our time to get the most done around the house. It's been pretty busy! We've made major progress on our bedroom and living room! Since we got so much done inside, we decided to start a new project outside. We are attempting to put in a patio in the back! In order to build a patio, you have to dig the ground down about 6 inches and we had to figure out where the dirt was going to go. We also have an eyesore of a concrete slab in the middle of the back yard that we want to get rid of. So, we decided that if we remove the concrete slab, we can fill that hole with the dirt that we dig to build the patio. Bryan got to work and rented a jack hammer from Home Depot and got crackin' - literally!

We thought this would be a simple project. However, Bryan discovered that there was a wire grid layered into the concrete rock, and this really complicated things. The jack hammering should have taken a couple of hours and it took Bryan all day yesterday because he had to break the rock into small enough pieces to get the wire out. And it seems as though every piece of rock is connected to the wire. How annoying. Why would they put a wire grid down with the concrete?? An even better question is why would they ever put in a random concrete slab in the middle of the yard when there is a large paved driveway right next to it? Anyway, we're making progress and are about halfway done. Here's the state of things as of now:

Currently, loads are being taken to a landfill where the wire and rocks are disposed. This will take all day. So much for a quick project! Tomorrow, we'll start digging for the patio and filling this hole with the dirt. We're hoping to complete digging the hole by the time Wednesday rolls around because we're headed to Chicago for a graduation weekend!

Even though we've run into our fare share of obstacles, there are some really great things about our new home! It's large enough for us to host friends comfortably! Our friend Jen came to visit for a few days and had a great time. We took an impromptu day trip to Niagara Falls!! It's just a quick 3 hour drive away!

Well, that's about all I have time to catch up on right now - it's time for more work in on that rubble pile. But, let's not forget that blog title!! In between all the outdoor work and errand running yesterday, I decided I'd have time to whip up something sweet because we were having friends over for grilled burgers. I found these cookies to be a perfect pick since I had all the ingredients on hand. I just love any cookies with oats in them!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Brown Eyed Baker

Makes about 16 cookies


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.
4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hello Cleveland (Heights)

It's about time for that moving update!! So much has happened since we moved in!

We got the keys to our new home in the afternoon on Thursday, May 3rd. We moved all the boxes in that evening and got the basics set up so that we could sleep that night. It's been busy since then! We've got most of the main level of the house unpacked, organized and clean. We had to buy a new washer and dryer, which was a first for both of us! Yay laundry! We painted our bedroom and have moved our mattress back onto the floor in there, but the rest of it is pretty sparse. We are looking to buy a new bed and bedside stands as well as buy and install a closet system since our closet is bare. So all of our clothes are scattered between the guest bedroom and the office. We bought a garage door opener and Bryan is in the process of installing it. There were so many things we needed to get, we've been to Home Depot about 25 times in the last 10 days!! New home-owning projects are fun, but they always seem to take more time and money than you expect.

Living in the suburbs of Cleveland is a bit different than living in downtown Chicago. We live on a nice neighborhood street with lots of trees and nice people. I hear birds chirping all day long, and the church a few blocks away rings its chimes on the hour and half hour. We chose to live in the area we are in so that we can walk to fun neighborhood attractions like good restaurants, nice coffee shops, wine shops and other locally owned shops. That aspect is really nice. However, we are not used to driving practically everywhere else. Granted, there is never any traffic, so running errands that seem far away usually don't take us too long. Since we're spending a lot more time in the car, we've discovered that Cleveland has not just one, but two classical public radio stations, which we are both a fan of! We are starting to develop our mental maps of the area we live in, and in no time it will start to feel more like home.

We've also discovered that a family of birds are living in our attic, the part of the house that is not livable and contains the insulation. They were not there when we had our inspection, but one of the vents did not have a cover on it, apparently, and a mother bird laid her nest there. I didn't want Bryan to remove the next because then the mother would abandon the little ones. We called animal control, but they charge over $200 to take care of that, and they put the birds down too. But they said after 2 weeks, the baby birds are fully viable and will probably be able to leave the nest around then. So, we'll remove the nest one day when it is empty and put the cover back on the vent. The birds should all survive on their own at that point. What a weird situation to be encountered with!!

Dimitri is adapting very well! There were a few days where he was mad at us and pretty jumpy since the wood floors are a little creaky (hey, the house was built in 1922!). He has come around though and is loving it here. He watches the wildlife all day (and all night!). He's caught multiple flies that happened to get in when we are hauling things into the house and leave the door open for a period of time. He loves watching the birds all around the house. He's also pretty interested in watching the squirrels and bunny rabbits. He loves the stairs (we didn't have any in our Chicago condo)! He makes up games with his toys and chases them up and down the stairs. It's so funny! On our second night here, there was a thunderstorm, and while you would think he'd experienced thunderstorms before, he hadn't had a real experience. In our Chicago condo, we usually couldn't tell what the weather was doing outside at night when it was dark out and we usually couldn't hear the thunder in our large building. He was pretty scared since the lightening and thunder seemed to come from everywhere, he couldn't find a calm and quiet place to hide out. But he managed with us in the kitchen and dining room and I think he'll be okay the next time one rolls around.

We both really do like living here so far. It doesn't quite seem real yet though. We're homeowners? In Cleveland? Weird. I'm sure once Bryan starts residency in July and I start in the fall, life will catch up with us!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Goodbye Chicago

View of downtown from near our condo

I don't think there is a post that could to demonstrate how we feel about moving away from Chicago. It has been our home for the past four years, and we have gone through so much while living there! When we moved there, we were only still dating, and now we've been married for 2.5 years!! Chicago was such a great city for us to start our lives in.

We are still processing this change in our lives, and any words that I will write will not do our feelings justice. We knew that our time there was temporary, and we embraced the experience. We had no idea we would love it so much and we will miss it dearly. We have such great friends there, including people we met along the way and even people we knew prior to moving there from Minnesota. We found a wonderful church full of great people, and we know we'll never find a church like that again. We will carry all our memories with us, as we make this transition. Let's do a little recap!

Year 1
I lived with my best friend from home, Lucy. We serendipitously were able to live together because at the same time that I was moving to Chicago to be with Bryan as he started medical school, Lucy was transferring to Northwestern University to continue her violin studies. Awesome situation! That first year in Chicago was full of transitions, but we thrived together and loved it. Meanwhile, Bryan lived with his college buddy, Dave, in Wrigleyville for his first year of med school. We saw each other often, and it was good for our relationship to continue to grow as we both began living in Chicago.

That January, Bryan proposed to me!

With my lease ending that summer, we decided that we would move in together at the end of the summer to make our lives easier with all the wedding planning, my crazy work schedule, and Bryan's busy time in medical school. We found a condo downtown, and totally loved it! I could walk to work and Bryan could hop onto the Metra across the street to get up to school!! Things were moving right along!

Year 2
Life continued to be crazy busy, as per usual with the life of a med student. Bryan studied all hours of the day and I worked like crazy. We used our spare time to plan our wedding together.

We got married on 01.02.2010 (a numerical palindrome!) in Minneapolis, MN. That day, the low was -15 degrees, and the high was -5 degrees, and it was a beautiful sunny day after a freshly fallen snow! We were on cloud nine!!! Some of our favorite memories include the performance of an Eric Whittacre piece sang by a mass choir made up and conducted entirely by our close friends, and a great friend who was our cellist played the Sarabande of the Sixth Bach Suite. Our first dance was to James Taylor "Something In The Way She Moves" and we loved having a live band for the reception! It was a great party!!

Here are just a few favorites :)

We spent a week in Jamaica for our honeymoon (Bryan actually skipped a week of med school for this)! Then, when we came home, it was back to the grind.

Bryan studied hard for Step 1 of his medical school boards and did really well!

Once we were married, I made it my mission to get a cat. I've always LOVED cats and grew up with them, but I had resigned to never have one again, since I learned when we were dating that Bryan is allergic to cats. However, to my delight, I discovered that hypoallergenic cats exist! And they're not hairless!! Siberian cats are hypoallergenic because they do not produce the protein in their skin and saliva that people generally react to. I found a breeder in Minnesota, and Bryan passed the allergy test. We bit the bullet and paid the big bucks to get our fancy brand kitten when he was 8 weeks old, in June of 2010.

Dimitri is the coolest cat ever. He is very much like a dog in that he is very social, plays fetch, knows the word "treat" and loves to wrestle. Obviously, he is also very cat-like and loves to cuddle, play, and watch over us from the many high places in our Chicago condo. Many of you know of our slight obsession with our cat, but for those of you who don't, here are a few favorite pictures that display his personality well :)

Year 3
Bryan started his 3rd year of medical school in July with rotations.

Our first nephew, Jonah, was born in July! We are lucky enough to be his godparents too :)

We continued to be very busy into the fall and celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary!

The Chicago blizzard was quite fun to experience! The entire city shut down completely for 2 days. Of course, being from MN, we put on our warm coats, pants and Sorels, and went out to tromp around in the eerily quiet city!

We walked to Girl and the Goat! They fought the storm, stayed open, and were taking walk-ins!

 This was around 8am - A Starbucks that is normally packed at that time!

 Wells and Wacker around noon - zero cars on the road!

 Wacker around noon - nobody was out on the road!

The beloved bean. And for once, we were the only people (black spots) in the camera shot!

Time seemed to fly into Bryan's 4th year of medical school, where a LOT happened!

Year 4
Bryan's fourth year of medical school was very exciting. The fourth year is dedicated to interviewing and matching at residency programs. It typically starts out with "away rotations" where the student can visit institutions that they'd be interested in attending residency at in their specialty interest. Bryan did 3 away rotations in Minneapolis, Cleveland and Chicago. After the rotations in urology, the specialty he wanted to pursue, we decided that Cleveland would be a top city to consider in the rank list for matching at a residency. They had a great program for Bryan at Cleveland Clinic, and a great masters program in nutrition for me at Case Western. Other cities were definitely at the top of our list too, so we didn't decide at that time, but we had a lot to consider.

Bryan interviewed at many programs, and I applied to masters programs all over the country to match up with the cities he got interviews in. Then, we made the rank list. I made sure to apply to programs at his top 8 programs, just to be safe, since you never really know which program you'll match at! At this point, I had already found out that I was accepted into 3 programs, the top 3 in our list!

Match day finally came on 1.23.12 and we were greeted with an email that Bryan had matched at Cleveland Clinic! We were totally stoked!!

We let the news soak in for a bit, and then we started the house hunt! Boy, that was eventful! Round one, two and three!!

Life has been SO CRAZY since then. We had our trip to California. We had to work on our Chicago bucket list (good thing we actually embraced the city from the start or else we wouldn't gotten very far!). We had to hurry and enjoy our last weeks there before we would leave our beloved home.

Finally the time had come - our time in Chicago had come to an end.

Last week was our last week in Chicago, and it was pretty busy! I had to travel for work for a few days and Bryan spent much of that time packing up our condo. The weekend was spent packing and hanging out with great friends that we will not see often anymore now that everyone has been matched in residency and will be relocating all over the country.

Sunday, the day before moving day, we had the incredible opportunity to see my best friend Lucy play in her final masters violin recital! She had a rigorous program to play, and it was absolutely fantastic! She played the best we've ever heard her play, and we were so happy that we could be there for her at her recital. I am SO proud of her!

Monday was moving day. We had our place packed full of boxes and had some friends help us move everything out to our moving truck. Then we drove to Cleveland in the afternoon - me and Dimitri following Bryan in the moving truck! We made it safely with no major hurdles! Dimitri has been pretty nervous the past week with all of the moving boxes in our house getting packed up. He was pretty nervous in the car too. I think he knew something major was happening. I kept him calm, and eventually, he was able to relax and nap. What a good little car mate!!

Now, we are just waiting for the paperwork to be completed and the loan to go through for the mortgage, and then we'll get the key and can move in! We are patiently waiting (while also letting our muscles and bruises heal from moving out!) and we'll move in when we can. We are so excited to start this new chapter in our lives!! 

Moving in updates will come when they are available!