Saturday Small Talk

Saturday! This is the weekend in which spring arrives in Northern Michigan–it’s supposed to be in the mid-60s and sunny! I intend to soak up all the vitamin D. We have a pretty busy day today, but tomorrow is blissfully unscheduled. Bring on the hammock and a book and a nap. I live a wild life, friends.

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If you read nothing else this weekend: The #unfollow experiment. How intentional are you about the people you follow on the internet?

Scientists say it’s time to reinstate the brontosaurus. Thank goodness. That’s all I have to say about that.

Do you have a bunch of hard boiled eggs left in the fridge? Might I suggest this delish looking egg salad?

Now is a great time for Americans to travel to Europe. Thanks, exchange rate!

One woman wears the exact same thing to work every day. Would you dare?

I need to up my grilled cheese sandwich game. This made me laugh. And want grilled cheese.

If you were obsessed with the podcast Serial, rejoice! Coverage of Adnan Syed’s story will continue in a podcast produced by PBS.

Do you set yourself up for failure before you try something new?

I fell in love with Canva this week. If you have any graphic design needs, and don’t feel competent in your skillz, this is for you.

I love this clock.

What are you reading these days?

Florence, Italy (our pictures!)

After our few days in Rome, we hopped on a train (the trains are so fast!), and headed North to Florence. I had no expectations whatsoever for Florence, and ended up being blown away.

Florence is absolutely walkable, which I love about any city–we never needed a bus or taxi. There is something interesting to see wherever you go. The multitude of piazzas offer plenty of opportunity for sitting with some cappuccino or gelato and people watching. Speaking of the food! I can’t even explain. Food in Florence was to.die.for. There is great shopping in Florence, as well, if that’s your thing–lots of street markets, high end retail shops, and everything in between. If you want any kitchen gadgets or accessories, head to Bartolini’s. I bought my pasta maker there, and loved it.

We stayed at the Hotel Malaspina, which I recommend wholeheartedly. It’s in a great location, their breakfast is delicious, and the hotel staff is very helpful and accommodating. We even lucked out with a room that had a tiny balcony overlooking the park!

20150319_163945 A big site in Florence is the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The outside is massive and absolutely gorgeous. You can tour the inside, as well as climb the dome (Il Duomo) for some killer views.

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???????????????????????????????Florence is home to many wonderful and well-curated museums. We enjoyed wandering the Museum dell’Accademia, where we saw Michelangelo’s David. It’s amazing to see works of art like this in the flesh, after having studied them out of a textbook in art history class. You stare up at it, in all of its smoothly carved marble magnificence, and it becomes real. Michelangelo carved David over 500 years ago, and here it is. Kind of makes me small and insignificant, but also proud of being a part of this thing called the human existence.

???????????????????????????????We took a break from all of the art, and toured the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, which houses recreations of da Vinci’s original designs. You can even try some of them! The Galileo Museum, while not having much in the way of actual Galileo artifact, offered an interesting look at different aspects of science and math in antiquity. In some ways, things were very advanced, considering it was hundreds of years ago. In others, not so much.

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We relaxed a lot more in Florence than we did in Rome, which was nice. Three cheers for napping on vacation.

All in all, Florence is a great city to visit, explore, and experience. I’d absolutely go back, rent a flat, and have a great time pretending I was a local for a few days.

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After 3 days in Florence, we hopped on the train and headed farther North to Venice. I’ll be back next Thursday with some photos, if you’d like to see.

Swiss Steak

It was Bob’s birthday yesterday. (Happy birthday, love!) For dinner, he requested Swiss Steak. Never one to deny someone their birthday request, I called his mom to get the recipe. Before I met Bob, I had no idea what Swiss Steak was. None whatsoever. Turns out, it isn’t too difficult and is quite tasty. In short: take a roast, cut it into slices, tenderize it, cook it in a gravy, and slide it into the oven. The cooking takes awhile, but your hands-on time requirement isn’t bad. Give it a try!

20150406_200804Swiss Steak

Serves 4

You’ll need:

  • 2 lbs bottom round roast, fat trimmed off
  • Flour, for dredging
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 2- 6 oz. cans Dawn Fresh Mushroom Steak Sauce (I found it at my local grocery, kind of by the gravy)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Slice your meat into 1/2 inch slabs, cutting with the grain. Dredge in flour, then pound with a meat tenderizer until 1/4 inch thick (or so). Dredge in flour again, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and set aside.

20150406_1712263. In a frying pan, add 1 Tbs. of olive oil. Fry 4-5 pieces at a time, about 2 minutes on each side. After it’s browned, transfer to a 9×13 baking dish–glass or ceramic will work best. Repeat until all of the meat has been browned. If you have to double layer in your dish, go for it.

20150406_1722414. In the same frying pan, add diced onion, and saute until translucent. Add garlic and Worcestershire sauce. After a minute or two, add the mushroom steak sauce, cream of mushroom soup, and water. Stir until combined.

5. Pour sauce over meat and turn each piece so it is fully coated in sauce.

6. Cover baking dish with tinfoil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 275 degrees, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. It’s done when the meat is tender.

7. Serve with a side of mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice.

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Enjoy!