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Cakes and Ale Anniversary

Tuesday marked 2 years of marriage for Jeff and I. I’m gonna avoid all the mushy stuff and just tell you about the amazing dinner we had at Cakes and Ale, a local Decatur restaurant we’ve been meaning to try for a long time.

Cakes and Ale menu

Jeff at Cakes and Ale

They claimed to be pretty booked, so we had to come in early at 6:30 to grab seats before the rush. We figured we could just grab a few cocktails and take it slow.

I started with a truly delicious whiskey cocktail with flavors of orange and honey. Not too sweet and just boozy enough. Jeff went with a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, one of our favorites and one that we just tried to clone recently with our 4th ever home brew!

Orange and honey cocktail

Ok so, I have stated many times throughout my life that the only seafood I don’t like is the oyster. BUT, while we were in Seattle we were served a plate of Kumamoto oysters that we weren’t expecting during an omakase sushi dinner and loved them. Cakes and Ale had three types of oysters that you could order individually for a little snack, including the Kumamoto, so we asked for 2 to see if we still enjoyed them.

Kumamoto oyster with shallot mingonette

These teensy little beauties nestled in their curly-lipped shells were served with a lightly acidic shallot mignonette. They were just as tasty as I remembered. Apparently, I just like Washington oysters.

First appetizer was the arancini with citrus and fennel pollen. These little balls of creamy risotto were perfectly fried to a light golden crispness and were barely kissed with the aromatic fennel pollen that was more of an aroma than a flavor.

Arancini with citrus and fennel pollen

Next was the tatsoi (asian spinach) salad with shaved carrot and radish, citrus avocado puree, fresh cilantro, and peanuts. So refreshing! I think the farmer’s market has a type of asian spinach so I might try to recreate this one at home. The cilantro really made it.

Tatsoi salad with cilantro and peanuts

Then we moved on to the heavier stuff. First was the gnocchi verde with rabbit ragu. Wow guys…incredible. Perfectly pillowy gnocchi and the most intense and luscious ragu ever. Rabbit reminds me of the flavor of slow roasted pork, very soft and sweet.

Gnocchi verde with rabbit ragu

We decided to split the ribeye with crispy fennel and horseradish cream for our entree. It takes nearly an hour to prepare, so we ordered it pretty early in the evening and tried to take it slow so there wouldn’t be too much down time waiting for it.

Ribeye with crispy fennel and horseradish cream

This thing was huge! Very little fat and perfectly salted and crusty on the outside with a meltingly soft center. The crispy fennel reminded me of fried okra, and the horseradish cream wasn’t too spicy and complemented everything on the plate. Well worth the wait.

We both ordered another round of cocktails before getting down to dessert. This was the Spring Fever, with a bitter lemon soda that served as a nice palate cleanser.

Me at Cakes and Ale

I chose dessert. We had a meyer lemon tart with an almond crust and almond praline, topped with meringue and resting on a bit of raspberry puree.

Ya’ll know I love lemon desserts, right? This one was beyond tart to the point of being downright sour, but I loved it that way. Jeff kept making the sour lemon face with every bite though, and eventually relinquished the last few bites to me. Score.

Meyer lemon tart with meringue

Cakes and Ale was outstanding. We’ve been avoiding it because it’s, well…expensive. And every time I’ve checked their ever-changing menu online I haven’t been too excited about the offerings. I’m really glad we just went for it because everything was beyond my expectations and the staff was super-friendly and helpful. They also have a bakery and coffee shop next door that we’ll have to hit up for breakfast some time.

Well that was dinner. Now, presents! Well, one present. I assumed that we weren’t exchanging gifts this year because we’re going on vacation soon (more on that later,) so I didn’t get Jeff anything. He, however, schemed to get me a little something that I’m very excited about. Check it out!

stock lens taken with 50mm lens

That’s the stock lens that came with the Canon Rebel camera Jeff got me for Christmas. But I took the photo with my new “Nifty Fifty” 50mm/f 1.8 lens!

I tend to gravitate towards these super wide aperture shots (only a small part is in focus and the rest is fuzzy) and this lens is awesome at making those shots happen easily. It’s fixed focal though, meaning you can’t zoom but rather have to physically move yourself closer or farther from your subject. It’s taking some getting used to, but it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.

What is your significant other’s best quality?

What’s a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try for a long time?


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Life on B12

Remember just a few weeks ago I had a really bad 5k experience where I thought I was going to have an aneurism? Remember how I wondered if maybe not being able to run a mile without stopping after 3 years of training might be a red flag that something is wrong with my health? Remember how I started to wonder if my documented B12 deficiency might be responsible for my poor exercise endurance? And remember how I pledged to get my B12 levels back into normal range to see if that would make me feel stronger and healthier?

Short answer: I DID, AND I FEEL AMAZING.

B12 bottle

And now the longer story…

Shortly after that awful race, Jeff and I started doing some research on B12 and how much it might cost for me to start a round of injections with my doctor. That led us to finding some B12 injections you could order and administer yourself at home. I was definitely a little squicked out by the thought of giving myself a shot, but it’s nearly impossible to overdose on B12, so being able to skip the cost of the doctor’s visits and still get the benefits sounded like it was worth a try.

Just before we committed to that though, we found some B12 in pill form that came in an even higher dosage than the injections. It was very well reviewed with lots of people claiming to have corrected their deficiencies using it. I was a little skeptical that I could get results quickly with a pill, but we decided to give it a try first and then move onto injections if I had no luck with it.

B12 in bottle

Guys, I felt better during the first day of taking these pills! It seriously feels like a flip has been switched on in my body.

I now wake up every morning feeling completely alert and ready to hop out of bed, where previously I never felt well rested and could easily take an hour or more to ease into wakefulness. I have so much energy throughout the day and have gotten so much more done. Previously, I was extremely unmotivated and could easily waste a whole day just trying to make myself go do the things I needed to do, now I get bored and fidgety if I don’t find outlets for my energy. I’ve done a ton of cleaning and reorganizing in the last two weeks and have tackled projects I never could get around to. Jeff has also commented to me that I he thinks I look less tired and that my moods have greatly improved.

B12 pill on cap

I think the biggest change I’ve noticed though is that I get frustrated a lot less. One of the symptoms of B12 deficiency is memory impairment, and while I wouldn’t say that I experienced much forgetfulness, I have definitely had a problem over the last few years with not enjoying learning anymore or having to think about anything too hard. I would get frustrated very quickly with even minor problems and had a harder time expressing myself clearly. I hated having to think, and it was getting worse. But since taking B12, I have noticed a huge improvement in my ability and willingness to think through things, and I’ve become a bit of a chatterbox now that I can completely think through an idea and express it clearly.

With how well I was feeling at home, I was excited to see if my performance in the gym improved too. I guess I had the silly idea that I would suddenly be able to run a couple miles without walking right off the bat. Of course that’s ridiculous, but there has been a definite change. I was able to cover nearly 3 miles on the treadmill the other day breathing through my nose the entire time. I have never run a distance like that without panting through my mouth for most of it. I call that a win, and maybe now that I’m not so out of breath I can actually train to become a better runner in time.

B12 pill pinch

It is hard to believe that this teensy little pill has made such a huge difference for me, especially considering that I fully expected it to do nothing.

I’ll do a post soon on what I’ve learned about B12 and how our bodies use it. But for now, I just wanted to fill you guys in on what’s been going on with me and to show any of you out there who may have had persistent problems with extreme fatigue that a B12 deficiency could be what’s holding you back. It has proved to be at least one of the major pieces of the puzzle for me, and supplementation has made all the difference.

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Bar Exam: Good n’ natural lemon bar

I haven’t done a bar exam in a long time! Truthfully, I haven’t been sampling many new bars lately because I’ve been having a Clif Builder protein bar almost every day while I’ve been doing the LiveFit trainer. I haven’t exactly wanted a second bar on any given day so there’s rarely a time for me to try any.

I did give this Good n’ Natural lemon bar a shot though, because as you may know, I LOVE lemon flavored sweets.

Good n' natural lemon bar

This bar is packed with real whole foods and is both vegan and dairy-free.

Good n' natural lemon bar ingredients

At 230 calories, it’s the right size for a satisfying snack. 9 grams of sugar is not that bad, and as a bonus there’s 10 whole grams of protein too.

Good n' natural lemon bar stats

Appearance: Has the smooth pasty look of a larabar but is completely filled with obvious oats and nuts. I tend to love these bars that are essentially just fruit and nut paste, so I was already excited about this one as soon as I unwrapped it.

Good n' natural lemon bar unwrapped

Texture: Delightfully chewey. The oats provide a nice textural element without being too much to chomp through. I always hated the Quaker granola bars as a kid because my jaw would ache from chewing all those oats like a pony. Not a problem with this bar, the oats are softer and the fruit and nut paste that holds them together is smooth and homogenous.

Good n' natural lemon bar unwrapped 2

Taste: Sigh. This bar was so promising. Looks good, chews good, but it tastes like wood chips and cardboard held together by wax. There is a faint floral lemon zest aroma and flavor right as you swallow, but it’s very light and tastes more like the kind of lemon you’d expect to find in soap or perfume than in food. Sad, really.

Good n' natural lemon bar bite

It was so gross that I’m not sure I can trust any other flavor from this brand. If they use the same stale nuts, flavorless dried fruit, and fake-tasting “natural flavors” as this one, I’m sure to be disappointed as well.

That’s it. I have had so many negative Bar Exams that I’m gonna just review one that I know is excellent so I can have something nice to say again. Maybe a Kind bar or a Larabar in a fun flavor I haven’t tried.

Have you ever bought something that sounded like it was made for you only for it to end up tasting gross?