Monthly Archives: May 2011

Travel Tuesday: Our Favorite Fortress

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As Valerie gets ready to kick some USMLE/COMLEX ass in the next few days, I wanted to re-live our most relaxing evenings of the trip, spent in Kassel:  the fortress, the River Fulda, and our favorite waiter. These were my favorite nights of the trip because allwe did was sample local beers brought to us by a very handsome waiter while curled up in blankets overlooking the river on top of a tree-covered fortress. It was pure bliss. I try to take myself back there, mentally, when I’m the most stressed out – the kind of place where life was perfect and everything else just kind of faded away into the background…

The view from our table.

I still get excited when I find Bitburger in bars/stores!

Good luck, Va!

Bacon Friday: Crif Dogs

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If you have never had a bacon wrapped hot dog, you are definitely missing out!

I had my first one in December in NYC at Crif Dogs.  I would highly recommend the Chihuahua which comes with avocado and sour cream, but they all looked good!  Definitely worth the trip if you are in New York!

Deliciousness in a bun!! Ignore the hat hair-it was freezing that weekend!

Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

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I have been craving guacamole something fierce lately, so I picked up an avocado on my last trip to the grocery store.  I’m too lazy to actually make real guac for one though (I know, I know…), so I just threw this together because it all sounded good.  And it was!  A good quick and easy meal with minimal prep time involved!

Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Salad:

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 avocado
  • Handful of grape/cherry tomatoes
  • 1 egg
  • S+P
Fry up your bacon.  While you’re doing that, chop the avocado into bite-sized pieces.  I sliced the tomatoes into halves/quarters as well, but you could leave them whole too.  Once the bacon is done, chop it and throw it into a bowl with the tomato and avocado, then season with salt and pepper.  Fry up the egg in the bacon grease and put on top of the mix.  Eat.  Love!

I actually didn’t take any pictures of this because I was too hungry to think about it, but I promise it’s pretty and colorful and delicious!

Travel Tuesday: Kassel’s Island of Flowers

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One of the things we loved about our trip to Germany so much was the fact that we went to lesser-known towns and cities without any real agenda.  We showed up at the train station and, in the case of Kassel, found a place to stay via the tourism office, and headed out.  There are so many things we loved about Kassel, but the flower island is definitely a favorite in my mind.

Located in Karlsaue Park, Siebenbergen Island is at the southernmost part of the park and accessible by a small bridge.  It was only 2 EU to get in, and totally worth it!

The Island from across the river

The gate and footbridge that takes you onto the island


What's this? A blocked-off path? We should investigate...

Where the path led us. Magnificent.

Like I said, this was just one of MANY things we adored about Kassel.  If you’re ever in the area and looking for something lesser-known to do, make sure you check out the flower island in Karlsaue Park!


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This has nothing to do with food or travel, our usual subjects around here.  But it is finals which means making myself eggs for dinner is a chore, so I haven’t done much cooking lately.  But yesterday I was bored after my 8am final and too burned out to study for my (last!) final on Monday, so decided to work on some of the DIY projects I have been saving for months.  Here is what I made:

From left to right:

Jersey Knit Bracelet with material cut up from an old t-shirt.

Leather Lanyard Bracelet made with white and brown leather cord.

DIY Rope Bracelet using a Stainless Steel S hook (which is why it looks different-steel doesn’t bend) and leather cord.

DIY Braided Hex Nut Bracelet.  I made this a few months ago and love it, but had to re-do it with an actual clasp, the ends were too frayed to keep tying it.

Washer Bracelet.  This is actually a necklace tutorial, but I just used 5 washers and made a bracelet.  Also used leather cord instead of ribbon.

I just kept putting them on my arm after making them so figured I may as well take a picture and share!

How I Kicked a Cold in 48 Hours

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As I mentioned before, I got sick last weekend and wasn’t very happy about it.  I know it is going around, but it was the end of April and I am too busy to be sick!  I decided that I was going to get rid of this cold as fast as I could and used several different methods-with success!!  I had a bit of a sore throat Thursday and by Thursday night did not feel well at all.  Friday was miserable, and so was most of Saturday, until about 9pm all of the sudden I felt better.  I had a small amount of lingering drainage for a few days(though that could have been allergies).  But I think that only 48hrs of feeling really sick is pretty good, especially considering the current bug seems to be pretty nasty.  Here is what I used, hope this helps someone else!


Zinc lozenges are usually my first line of defense when I am getting sick.  As soon as I feel like I am getting a sore throat I start taking them.  And they usually work, but this time I still got sick.  They have an antioxidant effects and help in tissue repair and virus resistance.  A pharmacist I used to work with recommended them a few years ago and I have sworn by them ever since.

Chicken Stock

Chicken soup as a cure for the cold may be seen as an old wive’s tale, but there is some truth to it!  Chicken stock is an easily absorbable source of nutrients-including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silicon, glucosamine, chondroitin, gelatin, collagen, and glycine.  It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.  If you have never made your own, you seriously have to!  It is sooo easy and very cheap.  I always make sure to keep my freezer well stocked, especially in the winter.  I made Spicy Sweet Potato Beef Soup, which was delicious!


My uncle told me that he takes elderberry when he feels like he is getting a stuffy nose and it works like a charm, so I decided to try it.  I couldn’t find the syrup, which is what he uses, but I got capsules because that was all I could find.  According to these studies elderberry can treat influenza A, B, and H1N1 (swine flu!).  It has been used as a folk remedy for hundreds of years, and has proven anti-viral properties.  It activates the immune system, so is perfect for cold and flu season!  I took 4 capsules a day until I felt better, then switched to 2 a day for a few more.

Licorice Root Tea

Not everyone will like this one, but I am obsessed with black licorice so I was more than happy to drink a few cups a day!  Tea always makes me feel better when I am sick, but I think this one helped even more than normal.  This was used in Chinese medicine to relieve cough and is supposed to be a decongestant and expectorant.  I was drinking 4 cups a day and I swear I noticed a difference.


Lack of sleep decreases the function of your immune system, which was probably part of the reason I got sick.  Luckily I was sick over the weekend so made sure to get PLENTY of sleep-about 10 hours a night.  I’m not usually a big sleeper, but I was tired all the time so listened to my body and slept.  I think this really helped my recovery.


I am normally pretty good about following The Primal Blueprint, but I have been slacking a little lately.  Especially being home for Easter weekend with tons of candy around, I had consumed a ton of sugar.  As soon as I started not feeling very well I got much stricter with my diet because sugar may have an immunosuppressant effect.  I focused on eating as healthy as I could to aid my immune system and help my body heal faster.

Nasal Rinse

Another item that was recommended by a pharmacist, I have been using this on and off for a few years when I get sick or have allergies.  At first it is a little gross to use and it feels really unpleasant, like when you get water up your nose while swimming, but you get used to it.  It promotes mucociliary clearance (which gets rid of all the bad stuff) and thins mucous.  I used this a couple of times a day, especially if I was really stuffed up.

Other than one cup of Theraflu while at a friend’s house and some Zyrtec (which I had been taking for allergies anyways) I didn’t take any meds.  I swear this is one of the shorter colds I have had, so hopefully some of these tips will help someone else out too!

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

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Soup round two for me this week!  Other than being sick, I love making soup because it is easy and makes enough to last a few days.  I’m super busy with school right now so this is definitely needed!  I somewhat based it this on this recipe from The Nourishing Cook.  It turned out really well!

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
1 can coconut milk
2 C chicken broth
3 C cooked chicken (I used most of a whole chicken I had cooked in the crockpot)
1 bag spinach
1 tsp red chili flakes
salt & pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T coconut oil

Saute the onions and garlic in the coconut oil until onions are slightly translucent and mostly cooked.  Toss into a large pot with all other ingredients and let simmer on low for about an hour.  Enjoy!