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So we've been a bit remiss in posting lately. We have countless things we've been meaning to post about, but life has been rather crazy lately (and on top of that, the Olympics has kept us fairly sleep deprived)! At any rate, I wanted to write a long overdue post about some great food we've had lately.

It bears mention that I've been getting more and more obsessed with cooking and good food -- I'm becoming a wannabe "foodie" of sorts. The past couple weeks we've been eating lots of vegetables and a fair quantity of meatless meals, which is better for the environment, and also a fun change! We love going to "Ron's", a produce market set up in an old gas station two blocks from our house (actually called Locally Grown Gardens, but the owner's name is Ron). He sells local in-season produce year round - read about him here. We stop by almost every weeknight to get our veggies for the night. Our new plan is to try to avoid taking big trips to the grocery store and just get the food we need for one or two meals each night. Seeing that we have Ron's two blocks away and the new Fresh Market two blocks away, it makes it quite easy to literally run (or walk) to the store to get food for the night!

The other day Alex found a recipe on a food blog that seemed enticing and perfect for the ingredients we normally pick up at Ron's - zucchini trifolati with cherry tomatoes and basil. The blog is great - the guy who writes it always makes amazing food and has beautiful pictures to accompany it. He provides inspiration for aspiring foodies like myself! (He made an amazing looking paella recently, which I have been itching to make but feel might be a bit over my head at this point. I think I need a beginner's paella recipe.)

Anyway, as was mentioned on his blog, the zucchini trioflati is more of an idea than a recipe - throw zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil in a pan and cook to perfection. I was suprised at how wonderful the combination of flavors were, though there was really nothing special about the recipe itself. It really brought out the natural flavor of each ingredient.
 
We recommended the recipe to my friend Erin, who tried it out with veggies from her CSA - see her review here. She has a great blog about all her culinary adventures, among other things. I highly recommend it! (She also reviews Minneapolis restaurants with her husband Ben in this blog.)

I also wanted to mention the most recent amazing meal made for us by Lynne and Kirk, our friends with whom we have a recently formed tradition of cooking delicious food for each other every couple weeks. They outdid themselves and made a splendid Cajun feast, which Kirk blogged about (including recipes) here. I'll mention the menu because I love reading menus (I live vicariously through them - it's almost as good as eating the food myself):
Popcorn shrimp with basil mayonnaise
Blackened chicken breasts
Maque choux
Green beans with bacon and almonds
Bananas foster
It was incredibly delicious, and so much fun to eat and enjoy the company. I was most blown away by the maque choux and the bananas foster, so much so that I was compelled to make them again as soon as possible! We made both the next weekend with Alex's family since we were going to visit, and it seemed that everyone enjoyed them a lot! I highly recommend both recipes, and the bananas foster is a great easy dessert (though we found it difficult to get any sort of flame both times - any recommendations on how to do it?).

See below for pictures of our meal:
 
 
 

More food posts to come :)
~Sonja

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When I have my camera in hand, flowers seem to always have a way of catching my eye. From walks through the streets of our neighborhood, to my inlaws' gorgeous tiered garden, I have been clicking away all summer. It's fun to use the flower-iconed macro setting on the camera for actually taking floral pics. These shots also served as an impetus to get out my camera's user manual and figure out the manual focus (see the sweat bee below). Today I realized that I have 126 of our best flower pictures sitting on Flickr, just waiting to be viewed. Click here to see.
A few of my favorites:
A yellow begonia


A beautiful orange lily

A sweat bee on spiderwort.


A weed outside Positano, last summer

~Alex

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h50
All my life I have been told that money can't buy me happiness. And, fool that I am, I bought into this belief for 26 years*. Money may not buy happiness, but (thanks to several birthday contributions) it did buy me a shiny new Sony-H50 super-zoom camera this past May.
I have always enjoyed photography. I think it started with classes that my mom sent me to at the FWMofA when I was but a wee middle schooler. I fell in love with the darkroom, and experimenting with the cheap plastic 35mm that I had. Those several weeks of classes led to a more in depth experience in high school. Along with pottery and painting, I burnt through all of the photography classes and independent studies that my high school could provide. Unlimited film, darkroom time, and a Canon AE-1 gave me a free reign to grow a love for photography.
canon
As I grew into adulthood, however, film just became an expensive nuisance. In 2001, I justified buying my first digital camera by financing it with the money my aunt gave me to paint a mural on my cousin's bedroom wall. Art buying art. It was, of course, a 2 megapixel point and shoot that was outdated by the time the automatic doors shut behind me at Best Buy.
I had fun with this camera, but I found that my artistic side was repressed by its lacking features and low picture quality. I replaced my passion for taking pictures with a passion for manipulating them in Photoshop. This lasted until our honeymoon in Italy. We were armed with Sonja's very nice FujiFilm F460, a surprisingly quality little camera. Rome was the destination of my photographic dreams,pantheon and I became obsessed with milking the best pictures I could out of every moment (that is, every moment that I could pry the camera from Sonja's artful grasp). Between our time in Rome and the Amalfi coast we took (or rather brought back) over 2000 pictures. And every one was cherished by us. In the year since our trip, I have been reinvigorated with a passion for taking photography.
Ever a geek for gadgets (I've been known to lurk at dpreview.com, now and then), I took keen notice when a few of our friends got nice digital SLRs. I even had the chance to shoot with them a couple of times. The memories of my old Canon SLR came rushing back to me. I remembered my times back in high school, taking dozens of shots, trying to capture the perfect lighting and focus. I remembered the adrenaline rush of waiting for the photos to nerdsdevelop in the darkroom. I wanted an SLR.
However, they are hefty - in price tag and in weight. And I loved our skinny little FujiFilm camera. I wanted the quality and options of a SLR, but the convenience and price of our point and shoot. On Feb 25, my wish was granted in a press release from Sony - the H50. Sure, it may not be as skinny as our old camera, and it may not be quite as crisp as a D60, but its fun. And it has a 15x zoom. Cool!
Since I bought the camera in May, I have been going nuts with picture taking. We bought a Pro account on Flickr and I'm quickly getting addicted to the digital photo world. I've enjoyed relearning photography throughout the summer. The camera has great automatic features (even a smile detector), but what's more fun is regaining the knowledge of manual photography. The best part is that it's free to practice. A few hundred pictures of a garden here, 370 pictures of one dinner there and its starts to come back to me. I absolutely love taking pictures.
If you've made it this far it the post you must really have a boring life. I can never read a blog that has more text than pictures, but apparently you are able. I hope you enjoyed listening to my story, and hopefully many more posts will come with details on my photo experiences!
~Alex
*That's sarcasm, money can't buy you happiness. Nothing in this material world will bring you happiness... but that's another rant for another day.

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Our beloved family dog, Gio, passed away this weekend after having a stroke. He was 16 years old but was very lively up until the end. We were lucky enough to see him twice last month on our two trips to Minnesota, and, aside from being slower after waking up from naps and losing most of his hearing, he acted much like he did when he was a puppy.
My sister and I have adored Gio since we got him as 10 and 6 year olds, respectively. We dressed him in our doll clothes, taught him tricks, took zillions of pictures of him, and had countless Gio-worshipping sessions (in which we told him repeatedly how cute he was). I think you probably would have had to see us around Gio to fully understand the intensity of our love for him (obsession is probably a better term!).
He was a wonderful dog who was loved just about as much as a dog could be. We are all very sad to not have him in our lives anymore, but we are so glad to have been able to spend the last 16 years with such a happy, healthy and loveable dog!
~Sonja