Today, I lived my nightmare.

When I moved to Minnesota and began to obsess over the weather, I had one situation in mind. This potential situation, or day rather, caused nightmares and hours of preparation. One day, so cold, even the natives would be scared. Windchills would be in the negative double digits. It would be touted as the coldest day Minnesota had experienced in 20 years.

That day was today.

Yep. When I woke up, it was -23 degrees out. Windchill was -48 degrees. There was ice on the INSIDE of my window in my apartment. Needless to say, I took a cab to work. The bus, more specifically walking to the bus stop, was not happening this morning.

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This is NOT okay.

Here is a list of everything I wore when I walked outside to meet the cab today: Underwear/bra, long underwear, jeans, two pairs of wool socks, sweater, sweatshirt, scarf (wrapped around my face), gloves, mittens, moon boots (yep. moon boots.), a stocking hat and my parka. Believe you me, I looked GREAT. And the long underwear stayed on ALL DAY. I switched from moon boots to Uggs when I got the office.

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Say what you will about the style, but my feet were toasty today.

Weird thing? It looked beautiful and completely non-threatening outside, when I was safely tucked inside. That kids, it what we call a false observation.

Tomorrow and the next should be pretty frigid as well. But Thursday? It’s going to be in the 20s. This weekend? In the 30s. When did my brain become so warped that I rejoice at the thought of a warmup when I saw temperatures in the 30s?

But you know what? I survived today. Take that, Polar Vortex! A California girl can survive you. Neener neener neener.

Pinterest Test: Breakfast Quinoa

When I woke up this morning, the windchill was -36 degrees F (tomorrow’s forecast calls for the  coldest day in Minnesota in 20 years. I’ll be hitching a ride to work – no bus). Weather like that, even if you don’t plan on going outside, calls for a hearty breakfast. Most people would think biscuits and gravy or vats of oatmeal, but I wanted to go a little more creative of a route. A few days ago I pinned a recipe for breakfast quinoa (see the original post and recipe here) and, along with a couple of tweaks, decided to give it a try this morning.

My love of quinoa is pretty obvious. I love using the complete protein grain as a pasta replacement to ease the guilt, like I did with my quinoa spaghetti. In the past, I have used quinoa as the base for my weekly lunches, adding sautéed vegetables and spaghetti sauce or italian dressing to it and storing it in the fridge throughout the week. But, I’ve never used it as a breakfast ingredient before, so I was intrigued at how this would turn out.

Usually, I cook quinoa just like rice – water, medium-high heat. This recipe had me cooking in milk, with low heat and longer times. For one cup of quinoa, bring two cups of milk to a boil. Add one cup quinoa, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes, it should look a little bit like cream of wheat, but with about 1/4 of the milk still visible.

After 15 minutes, about 3/4 of the milk should be absorbed. Add in cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, stir in and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Biggest difference between cooking quinoa low and slow instead of high and fast is the consistency. Usually when I cook quinoa, it’s almost like couscous in that it is individual grains. This morning, the quinoa had a more oatmeal or cream of wheat consistency, which was different, but still yummy. Once the quinoa was done cooking, I topped it with a little more brown sugar and cinnamon, as well as some walnuts. Hearty indeed.

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Yummy yummy.

The original recipe called for one cup of dry quinoa – this made a TON. I had leftovers, and as with oatmeal, it doesn’t look so appetizing anymore. If you’re only making breakfast for one person, definitely play with cutting the recipe in half, though there are bound to be some intricacies associated with that. Full recipe below:

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups milk
3 tbsp brown sugar, plus extra for topping
1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for topping
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Chopped walnuts

Bring two cups milk to a boil. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until 3/4 of the milk has been absorbed. Add in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Recover, and cook for another 5-8 minutes, until consistency is similar to oatmeal or cream of wheat. Serve in a bowl and top with brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Enjoy!

Getting Carried Away

So, you may or may not have noticed that my blog name has changed (you probably didn’t. It’s ok.). It’s actually the third time my blog has changed names. I was thinking about it, and the blog name changes have reflected the stage of life I was in:

  • Carrie’s [agri]CULTURE. I started this blog on Blogger as part of a requirement for one of my agcomm classes, and then just held on to it. This blog saw me as an enthusiastic college student, passionate about agriculture and ready to take the world by storm. At some point, I migrated it to WordPress. This name’s most memorable moment was the week I went vegan with my friend David, and we documented the experience through a series of blogs and web videos, and somehow got picked up by a couple of major agricultural news outlets [We did it before Beyonce and Jay Z made it cool).
  • Carrie Isaacson. Yep, just my name. Pretty boring, huh? As I approached the end of my college career, I shifted my blog to be more of an online portfolio to list on my resume while job hunting. When I changed templates, the title went away and just my name showed up, and I decided that was a pretty professional coincidence. This version of my blog followed me through job hunting, accepting my first job and moving to Minnesota, and the hijinx that ensued. 
  • Getting Carried Away. I used to (and still sort of do in most circumstances) hate when people used my name as a verb. Just imagine how fun that was in elementary school (almost as much fun as when in 7th grade a bunch of boys watched Stephen King’s Carrie).  Some time over the last year, people started doing it again, but it seemed more fun (personal favorite: The Conceal and Carrie cocktail). One of my friends sent me a link to a Kate Spade cell phone case with “Getting Carried Away” on the back, and I fell in love. Sadly, the didn’t stock the case in my phone size (really, people. You need to continue to make cases for the iPhone 4s for another couple of years. Seriously.), but it did seem like a pretty darn good name for a blog. So here we are.

Besides the name, I have refocused my blog by removing the single focus it was touted as before – a young woman’s view on agriculture. Now, there will still be plenty of agriculture on this blog, that will never change. But I have a lot more to write about. Some of it relates back to agriculture, like my joy of eating out and getting wonderful food. Someone of it just has to do with where I am in life – a 23 year old living half way across the country from her family. Sometimes I’ll post recipes and workouts, sometimes I’ll share my opinion on the farm bill or write about a great restaurant I went to with my friends. It’s a snapshot of a 23-year-old country girl living in the city who loves agriculture and food. So, pretty specific, but also pretty open. 

My New Year’s Resolution that I’m starting in the middle of December is to make time for more blogging and remember how much I truly enjoy writing for fun. So getting ready to Get Carried Away.

A Tale of Two Falls

Unrealized benefit of living in one state with my immediate family in another: I get to experience Fall TWICE.

Other than personal growth, getting to know myself, becoming more independent and working at a great place, I’d say the Minnesotan Fall is one of the best perks of me living in the North Star State. In fact, I never really appreciated Fall before I moved further East. Most likely because Fall in California is about one week before Thanksgiving to maybe the week before Christmas. Not a wide window. Definitely not enough time the leaves to get all beautiful-like. In the two Falls I have had in Minnesota, I’ve learned how beautiful the season can be. Crunching leaves, crisp air, hot cider, apple orchards, pumpkin spice everything, leather boots, light jackets and the list goes on. I’m basically a walking Starbucks ad come September.

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Beautiful Fall colors along the Mississippi River, mere blocks from my apartment.

So that’s my Minnesota fall. What happens when I go home to California for Thanksgiving, right around the time winter starts to gain it’s grip on Minnesota? Crunching leaves, crisp air, hot cider, apple orchards, pumpkin spice everything, leather boots, light jackets and the list goes on.  Sure, the colors aren’t as vibrant and I have to drive significantly further to get to an apple orchard, but it’s still Fall. If I’m lucky, this is still going on when I go home for Christmas, making getting the Christmas tree a very pleasurable experience.

So yes, probably the most unexpected benefit of living in the middle of the state with family on the West side is two Falls and, I must say, it’s pretty phenomenal.

Waterlogged – And Loving It

Everyone is always telling you – drink more water. It’s good for you. Blah blah blah. It’s basically a broken record. You drink two, maybe three glasses in a day, and you think you’re doing pretty good. And you are. But, what if you drank a lot more?

I got it in my head about a month ago to start drinking “more water,” whatever that means. I started keeping track of how many glasses I drank at work, trying to get to that magical 8 glasses a day. Never did. I didn’t really notice a difference either, so in typical Millennial fashion, I blew it off with a, “Whatever, I’m don’t need as much as other people.” Silly, silly me.

Two weeks ago, the trainer I do group training with told everyone that we needed to pick a new healthy habit, and stick with it for two weeks. I decided to once again try the “more water” thing, thinking that at least if I was concentrating on more water, I would be thinking less about Diet Coke. Also in typical Millennial fashion, I searched for an App that would help me out. That’s when I found Waterlogged.

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Find Waterlogged in the App Store!

Free app, let’s you customize your water goals and input the bottles and glasses you drink out of most often for easy tracking. It also helps you figure out how much water to drink. Me, I’m supposed to be drinking 120 oz of water a day. Yep. A gallon. Definitely nowhere near what I was drinking.

So I’m going to be honest – I have yet to hit my 120 ounce goal. The closest I’ve been is 110 ounces – those last 10 ounces were just not happening. But I have noticed some good things. My skin LOVES it – in fact, in the two weeks I’ve been pushing the water thing, I think my skin has gotten healthier than I ever seen it. I snack less – I’m too busy drinking water to find an afternoon treat. And that’s just what I noticed in the first two weeks. Basically, I’m sold on the drink my water gospel.

Zippin’ Around Town

If you had a car to drive for the first time in over a year, and access to free gas, what would you do?

Me, I went to Costco.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for ZipCar. I’ve known about the program since college, and I don’t know why I didn’t sign up for it sooner, but I guess I finally decided I was allowed to. Yesterday, I checked out a car for the first time, and promptly headed to the suburbs for some warehouse bulk grocery shopping.

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This is where my ZipCar lives.

I picked up my ZipCar, a Ford Escape, at a parking garage across the street from me (seriously, how convenient is that?), and started getting set up. With ZipCar, you have a ZipCard, which you use to unlock the car, since the keys are attached to the car and can’t leave the vehicle. Once in, I got the mirrors adjusted and tuned in the radio, and hit the road.

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90s on 9 for the road.

My trip to Costco was actually a bit anticlimactic, since I forgot I’m only one person and don’t need to buy food in bulk, but I was able to get my new winter boots which was exciting.

The best part of the Costco trip? When I was sitting in the parking lot and discovered this:

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Sun roof for the win. Party on.

I did make it to a regular grocery store and stock up on food of reasonably packaged proportions, which was phenomenal.

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And I shall cook for days!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was living an urban lifestyle here in Minneapolis. Well, in my opinion, the biggest drawback of this urban lifestyle is the lack of vehicle and being able to drive wherever I would like. I could buy a car, but at this point, it seems like it would be a real bummer to have to pay for gas and insurance, since I’ve gotten used to not having to pay for that.

Luckily, ZipCar takes care of all that. Yep. A car when you want it AND they pay for gas. It sounds too good to be true, right? For $9.50 an hour (and $50 a year, plus a $25 application fee), you have wheels when you want them. And they have locations literally all over the world.  I’m not saying I won’t ever be a car-owner again, because I will be, but ZipCar is pretty neat.

My city.

Last Friday night, I said something aloud that caught both me and two of my friends off guard. We were innocently watching What Not to Wear on TLC, and this particular episode happened to feature a Minneapolis woman. During some b-roll, they showed some video of the Minneapolis skyline and, without thinking, I exclaimed: “Awe, my city!”

Yep. “My city.”

I immediately slapped my hand over my mouth and looked at my friends in horror. One friend, a Minnesota transplant as well, returned my horrified look. The other, born and raised in the Twin Cities metro, started laughing. I mean, I proudly share my NorCal roots. I’m tried and true Californian. I sheepishly asked no one to tell my parents or post anything to Social Media, and tried to pretend the situation never happened.

The following morning, my Minnesotan friend/roommate and I walked to breakfast downtown, and I started to recall my frightening declaration from the night before. As we navigated the streets and skyways of downtown Minneapolis, I started to become less and less bothered by the fact that I had called Minneapolis “my city.”

Minneapolis is the first true city I’ve lived in. I suppose I could claim Sacramento as “my city,” but I’ve never gone farther than telling people I grew up near Sacramento (in fact, I say, ‘near Sacramento, but not in Sacramento’). I shared these thoughts with my roommate, and she reinforced my feelings. I moved to Minneapolis and got an apartment in the city, not in one of the suburbs. I work downtown. I shop downtown. I take the bus pretty much anywhere I go solo, and cabs at least once a weekend. I’m growing up and striking out on my own here. I’m living a pretty urban lifestyle, in Minneapolis. So yes, I think it is safe to say Minneapolis is “my city.”

I’d still like to note that I didn’t call Minnesota “my state,” or Minneapolis “my home.” Those honors go to Woodland, California. But, Minneapolis will always be my first city.Image