Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Domain!

We have moved our blog to an official domain to have more control over the post formatting, content and other aspects of our site. You can now find us at Please follow us to our new site and be patient as we make this huge switch!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Spring Weekend

This weekend was super exciting and I think me, my mom and Brad all had a great time. This past weekend had been planned for a long time. It started last year when the Balloon Glow was canceled due to wind. The Balloon Glow is an event put on by the Student Activities Board at the University of Kentucky. It is part of the Little Kentucky Derby week long series of events that are part of the celebration for the Kentucky Derby held the first weekend of May. The Balloon Glow is one evening where there are games, food, music, and a hot air balloon race, which happens right across from my apartment! Brad said he would come down the next year to go to it with me, however, it was canceled again! I have wanted to go to it for 7 years, but every year I've had to play in a concert, didn't have anyone to go with, and now the past two years, the weather. Hopefully someday...

But besides the balloon glow, there were a lot of others things that popped up that made the weekend still exciting and took my mind off missing the balloon glow. I am glad Brad could make it down during this busy time at the end of the school year and enjoy some warmer weather even though it has rained tons lately!

KYASLA (Kentucky Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects) Banquet in Louisville
St Vincent's Thrift Store
Masala Indian Fine Dining
Cosmic bowling with friends at Southland Bowling Lanes
Darts at Marikkas

Today began with a drive to Louisville to attend a banquet for the KYASLA. Several of us in my studio entered a design competition with projects we have done in our previous studios. The awards were also open to professional firms, so we got to meet some professionals. We also saw many people that had been our adjunct professors and employers. After the banquet, Brad, my mom, and me went by the St. Vincent thrift store. We love that place! I found some neat cowgirl shoes. The board I put together for the show is on the left. It will be touring to the Lexington, Louisville gallery hops this summer, and a convention in Covington, KY.

Once we made it back to Lexington, Brad and I went to a nice Indian restaurant and had some paneer. It was really good and we decided we want to try to cook some Indian cuisine. Afterwards, we meet his two friends Jenna and Stoss for bowling and then a game of darts. We all had a lot of fun and hadn't seen everyone in a long time!

UKLA (University of Kentucky Landscape Architecture) Banquet
Record Store Day at CD Central
Mandarin sushi

Saturday morning began with another banquet, except this time it was the end of the year banquet put on by my landscape architecture program. Afterward, my mom, Brad and I went to Record Store Day at CD Central. They have the event every year at this time around the nation. CD Central always has discounts and a grill out. This year was more exciting because they had bands play all day, they had many limited record store day releases, and My Morning Jacket was going to be there to sign our media! It was pretty incredible to have the opportunity and we were thrilled that we had the chance. My mom and I bought their record store day single of their new album, Circuital, which releases on May 31st. While we were waiting we had a chance to hear a local musician, Matt Duncan. Listen here as long as it's available on youtube. He's pretty good too! Afterwards, Brad and I headed to probably our favorite restaurant in Lexington, Mandarin, and got some sushi!

Keeneland Horse Race Track
El Toro for fish tacos
My Morning Jacket at Memorial Coliseum

Today seemed like it was going to be a bit more relaxed, but was still super busy! Brad and I headed out to Keeneland for the horse races, which last only a couple of weeks once in the spring and fall. It was a nice day, still a bit cold, but better than Friday, since it rained all day, and Saturday was still pretty chilly. Later on, his friends Jenna and Stoss met us for a couple of races. We didn't have very good luck today. I won one race and that was all of our winnings. After Keeneland Brad and I went to El Toro for some fish tacos. We then met my mom and headed down to Memorial Coliseum for the My Morning Jacket concert! This was another event hosted by the University of Kentucky Student Activities Board. This was a huge gig to bring to UK students, who were allowed to buy them before the public. I was able to snatch up general floor tickets. We were literally 5' from the stage! It was a really awesome time and it rocked out.

Ben Sollee opened for the show. He's worked a lot with Jim James on their I Love Mountains tour that showcased the Dear Companion CD. I went to high school with him!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Carrot Cake

I haven't been really cooking that much lately because of being busy. Wednesday was our last community meeting with Scott County. Our project is finally wrapping up and our final book and products are being put together. They will soon be on the web!

A few photos from the meeting in Scott County:

Paul developed a comprehensive greenway

James studied the Horsey Hundred bicycle trail

Mike looked at a county wide land-use vision

This weekend is going to be pretty eventful. It looks like the weather isn't going to cooperate though, so some of the things we planned may not happen. Brad is coming down for the weekend because of all the things that are going on. I'm sure we'll have a blog post about the weekend! For the occasion, I'm fixing a two layer round cake, which I haven't done before. Since Easter is coming up soon, I decided that it should be a carrot cake. Here is my adapted recipe from Alton Brown's.

If you didn't want to use the round cake pans, I think a 9X13 pan would work well. If you do, you may want to cut the frosting recipe in a third since you will only be frosting the top! It was a little too much frosting as it was!

Mixing the white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt

Buttering the pans

Let's hope everyone likes it! 

Final cake!

I have a sugar rush just by making it!

  • Unsalted butter for greasing the pan
  •  2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots, medium grate, 4-6 medium carrots
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 ounces honey Greek yogurt
  • 6 ounces Canola oil
  • Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows


8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together until smooth.  
Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Makes about 2 cups


Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Grate the carrots and set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl. 
Add the grated carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.
In another bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.
While mixing, drizzle in the oil. 
Add a third of the flour mix at a time to the wet mixture and fold in until just combined. 
Pour half into each of the cake pans and bake for 16-20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. 
After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. 
To Frost:
Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.
Frost only the top of one cake layer
Top with finely crushed toasted walnuts
Add second layer, then continue top and sides

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reflooring my Apartment

Old Floor

The floor in my apartment was starting to show lots of wear. It had lots of scratches and holes in it that showed through to the older 1960s linoleum. After much complaining, the landlord finally decided to give in and replace the floor. I wish he would have done it much sooner because the new floor looks amazing. It is a bit unfortunate that I will probably only spend another four or five months here.

Out with the Old

Here we remove the old vinyl flooring. It was a breeze really. It just took a bit of a tug here and there and it came up mostly in one piece. Although, we had to tear it up to get it out the door.

Some Underlying Retro Linoleum

Here you can see the old 1960s style linoleum with a retro pattern. I must say that I am huge fan of linoleum flooring especially the retro type. I was amazed to find out that linoleum is much more sustainable than the vinyl stuff and even compostable to a certain degree! If I was reflooring my own house, I would have chosen that instead... maybe someday.

Putting Down the First of the New Vinyl Flooring

Here we place the first few runs of the new flooring. It is a modular tile type that is easily replaceable in sections. It goes down quickly and required little effort until we had to move the stove and refrigerator to do those sections. What took the most time was trimming individual pieces to fit along the edges.

Working Outward

Here I try my hand at laying down the new floor. It was really easy and sort of fun... I only wish we would have had some music, but my landlord and I discussed politics instead.

Almost Done!

Here you can see that we saved the rough part for last... cutting the individual panels to fill in the awkward gaps at the perimeter. It took some time to cut these custom pieces because each tile had to be a different size. Since this is an older house everything wasn't very even which added to the complications.

Just Finishing Up the Floor

We just finished up everything aside from moving all of the furniture back into place and putting the baseboards down. I think the landlord will be doing that next weekend.

After Moving in the Furniture

This morning I moved all of the furniture back in the room and took the extra time to declutter my apartment. (I like using tips from a certain blog, to help get ideas on how to simplify and declutter my life. I must say it is always going to be a work in progress.) I carefully selected some things to put in a summer yard sale later this year and started organizing some of the kitchen differently. The new tile makes the room brighter and am enjoying it thus far.

Tuna, Asparagus, and Waffle Fries

Tuna with Asparagus and French Fries

Tonight's cuisine was a specialty of the the Library Bar & Grill, a local restaurant here in Madison. I frequent this bar a few times a semester to grab some happy hour drinks and food. Since my transition to pescitarian in the middle of last year, I have been a sucker for this Tuna Sandwich which is covered with a spicy sauce and fresh veggies the dish can also be served with a variety of side dishes and I almost always choose the cajun fries, french fries dusted with a spicier seasoning salt mixture. It is fairly simple to cook and only takes about 45 minutes total which includes marinating the tuna. I like to combine this with some seasoned fries and baked garlic asparagus.

Tuna Sandwich:
2 - 6oz Tuna Steaks
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Cloves Garlic (pressed)
Slice of Tomato, cucumber and lettuce or spinach

1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder

Mix the Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Garlic, Salt and Pepper together. Pour over Tuna Steaks in a shallow dish, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Combine Mayonnaise and Chili Powder and refrigerate. Grill Tuna for about 4 - 5 minutes on medium high heat, turning once. The inside should be a pale pink, fading to white toward the surface. Place on your favorite hamburger bun and top with sauce and vegetables.

Baked Asparagus with Garlic:
1 lb of fresh Asparagus
1 -2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
3 -4 Cloves of Garlic Coarsely Chopped

Wash Asparagus. Cut off rough ends. Place in 9" x 13" baking dish. Cover in Olive Oil and Salt. Toss to coat evenly. Mix in chopped Garlic. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly tender. I prefer my asparagus with a bit of crunch left in it. You may cook longer if you prefer it that way more tender. However, I would probably cover it if leaving in the oven for more than 15 minutes to prevent burning.

French Fries:
The french fries were my favorite frozen type and prepared per the package instructions then dusted with seasoning salt. I hope to try some homemade french fries or sweet potato fries with this dish the next time I prepare it.

EH Garden: Lettuce & Carrots

A New Section of Lettuce and Carrots

Another day in the garden planting lettuce (romaine and green salad varieties) and carrots. I tilled up another area like last week. I threw down some compost, turned over the soil with a shovel to mix, took a hoe to the larger clumps, raked the soil to make it even more fine and, finally, planted a row of carrots and a square area of lettuce. We have been planting the seeds closer than usual to maximize production and leave little room for weeds. Hopefully that plan will work out.

Some Volunteer Plants from Last Year

A bit of a surprise lingered this morning when I showed up. A few stalks of rhubarb were greeting me. It appears that last year's owners of this plot had quite the selection of plants. We have some raspberries, strawberries, volunteer onions, and now, rhubarb all coming in on their own. Albeit, these plants aren't in the right spot, but we'll just have to plant around them.

The Plot Continues to Grow

Tomorrow, some more of the LA grads will continue our plantings by placing some potatoes in our little structure to the rear of our plot. It seems that this box has some sand in it and would make for some good soil to grow potatoes in. I am also considering attaching a wire trellis to it so that I can grow some pickling cucumbers on. We'll just have to see how everything continues to fall together over the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cleaning up the Garden and Planting the First Seeds

Our Plot Now

If you remember last week's post, this plot looked nothing like this. Old plant stalks were littered all over the garden and there was black plastic everywhere. Our plot now looks much better now. On Saturday morning, we had our first work day of the season to clean up our garden plot and plant some early season crops. A few of the LA grad students, Mike and Sara, met me at the plot to do some of the work. It took about 3 hours to pull some left over stalks, pick up the trash and plastic left by the last tenant and prepare the bed to plant some radishes, spinach, and onions.

Radishes and Spinach

Because of the unseasonably warm weather, we decided to try out a few early season crops very early. We piled on a nice layer of compost and incorporated into the soil where we were going to plant the seeds. We then followed the instructions on the packet and then marked our plantings with some Popsicle sticks. The hardest part was working the ground, but it was actually enjoyable considering the lethargic attitude that winter has placed on me! The weather seems to have me itching to work outside and ride bikes all over town.

Anyway, back to the gardening... We planted a row of radishes and a plot of spinach to see how it does. We still have about half of those seeds left to do stagger plantings so all of our plants don't ripen at once. I don't think everyone would be able to eat all of the radishes or spinach if it all ripened at once! We also planted the onions which could take upwards of 150 days to reach maturity, so obviously we needed to get them in as soon as we could work the ground.

The Onions and Raspberries

We decided to leave a few straggling plants left over from the people who farmed our plot previously. We have a few unidentified plants coming along, but we think the stalks are raspberries that we are going to have to trim back. We also found some volunteer strawberries and what looks to be like some type of bulb flower. We aren't really sure what all could come up, and we aren't going to say no to any nice plants that come our way. Over the next few weeks we will keep on tidying up in the garden and planting other early season crops. With any luck our plants will be up in a few days and the weather will stay nice and warmer. It's very exciting to see all of this stuff starting and being able to track all of the progress!