Top Rated Eats

We all know I love to cook, eat, bake, eat while baking, talk about food, and obsess over Pinterest, but I’ve never discussed my top restaurant picks! Why not? Let’s change that.

I don’t eat out very often- mostly due to having a college budget and all my friends having a college budget! Instead we do a lot of “family dinners”. It might be potluck style, everyone bring their own thing, or (more often) two people cooking up a storm and all of us piling into one apartment for the evening. Everyone throws in a couple dollars and we can be way louder than we could in a restaurant.

Ah well! Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite places, from both homes.

Iowa (USA)

Stella (Iowa City)

Mmmm you really can’t go wrong with a place that serves nearly exclusively burgers. Their menu is compromised of 90% beef burgers, chicken burgers, and black bean burgers, all named after different Iowa counties. Toppings range from all kinds of cheeses to mushrooms to fried eggs and bacon, and I’ve had yet to meet a burger I haven’t liked! The place can get packed over Iowa basketball games, but I’d recommend a visit outside of winter anyways when you can sit out on the patio!

Smuggler’s Wharf (Cedar Rapids)

Remember my rant about fish tacos in this post? This is the place to be if you’re craving seafood (except sushi). Their mahi-mahi sliders are the perfect starter, and don’t be afraid to order more than one entrée if you’re starving. Definitely worth the half hour drive for me, and it’s on the cutest street in Cedar Rapids!

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Blue Bird Diner (Iowa City)

Absolutely packed on weekend mornings, you really can’t go wrong with the food at a place that sometimes is a 40 minute wait (the only downside). I absolutely love going out for breakfast, and will take a cute, cozy breakfast experience over a packed IHop any day. While they’re open for lunch and dinner as well, I can only vouch for their breakfast and brunch- but with how good it’s been every time I should definitely get in there for lunch sometime! (I’ll report back, no worries)

And An Extra…Calgary (Canada)

Fergus and Bix

Easily my favorite restaurant in Calgary, the original location on the West side of Calgary (think Bow Trail and 85th Street) is worth the trip every time. Their impressive beer menu should be incentive enough but then you add in sweet potato fries? Sirloin Salad? I visit (at least once) every time I’m home without fail!

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This post idea was brought to me by TheBetsy.com. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

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Happy 150, And My Favorite Blogs!

To celebrate my 150th post on lauren elyse CAN, I’m trying something new! Following the advice of my favorite bloggers, Peanut Butter Fingers, I downloaded the Windows Live Writer software and am testing it out for easier posting abilities! Half the time when I sit down to write I end up rambling into a Word Document anyways, so that fact that this is set up eerily similar and allows me to preview and post? I’m in love already.

LET’S CELEBRATE!

Let’s a little rowdy up in here and celebrate the fact that you read my blog- so here are the blogs I love reading nearly everyday!

1. Simply Taralynn

Yes, the same Taralynn from the former Tumblr blog Undressed Skeleton, rebranded this year- and I’m in love with her blogs new look. She recently moved to North Carolina and travelled to France, and continues to post amazing recipes and fitness escapades! Not only does she have a kick ass blog and an unreal following (43.6K on Twitter? 57K on Instagram??) the girl is a Hawkeye. Gotta love her.

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2. Fit Personality

“Katy Grace” might be new to this whole blog famous thing but I. Am. Obsessed. She’s another healthy living blogger from Arizona, goes to school in Hawaii, and currently is living in London. Her blog is full of sass and wit, as well as amazing media (the girl is a graphic designer…you can tell!). Some of my favorite posts from her are running playlists, grocery lists, and any photos involving a beach!

3. Freedom of Excess

Darcy is my ultimate Woman Crush Wednesday- and she actually found my blog first! We bonded immediately over a shared love of Castle and the Olympic Games. Her blog is dedicated to all things Olympics. This journalism major (from New York but graduated from Miami!) now lives in Colorado Springs where she worked for USA Volleyball and the USOC during the Sochi Olympic Games. Her posts include travel highlights (like when she volunteered for the London 2012 Opening Ceremonies while studying abroad) and her  “Miracle Monday” series, featuring hockey profiles from one of the most famous teams in US history. Her posts are always so well done: informative, great content, and leaves me itching for the next Games.

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Can’t wait for the next 150 weeeee happy weekend!!

Fifth Year vs. Freshman Year

So a LOT has changed since 2010…and I’m not going to bother listing all the highs and lows! (Unless you guys want a novel) (No) (Maybe). But I’m still in the same college town, going to classes and practices and loving every second of it.

This 23 year old has a whole different perspective however than what my 19 year old self thought college was all about. I’ve been around the block so to say; I know my spots on campus, my bars, my coffee shops, and bike paths. Besides the general familiarity with everything, has my opinion of the world actually changed? What’s different about the thoughts that run endlessly through my brain?

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On that boy who rejected me

Freshman: Retreat from party, curl up in fetal position in dorm bed, cry. Act wounded for days

Fifth Year: LOL alright dude you do you *walks back to girlfriends, while they laugh hysterically at you*

On that five-seven page research paper

Freshman: “How many pages? That’s insane I can’t write that much!”

Fifth Year: “How many pages? How am I supposed to fit everything in?!”

On group projects

Freshman: This totally sucks I hate everyone

Fifth Year: This totally sucks I hate everyone

On hangovers

Freshman: “That was the best night ever!!”

Fifth Year: “I am never drinking again I want to die”

On class readings

Freshman: Up till 1am every second night copying down every definition

Fifth Year: Highlight maybe four things every twenty pages that you can skim in five minutes

On nutrition

Freshman: This burger is enough protein right and where has dessert pizza been all my life?

Fifth Year: Ohh a vegan soup! Let’s blog about it! And make brownies out of vegetables!

On the future

Freshman: Wow I wonder where I’ll work and I can’t wait to get a great job and buy a house and isn’t it fun to think about it

Fifth Year: HIRE ME

I Skipped the PSL and Went Straight to Caramel Brulée

Autumn’s been great and all, and always will be, but I avoided all things pumpkin this year. Why? While various reasons- I was holding onto summer like it was the last time it would come around (only 7 more months till June folks), refusing to dress appropriately and then complained how cold I was constantly, pretending my Midterms didn’t mean the that it was the middle of the semester…

So why with the launch of those iconic Starbucks cups did I jump on the bandwagon and immediately order a tall non-fat half sweet caramel brulée latte (besides the obvious truth as I type this out that I am extremely high maintenance when it comes to the few instances a month I allow myself to spend more than $3 on a cup of coffee?)

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Winter is coming (what is that a mainstream pop-culture reference or something) and unlike my utter avoidance of the last change of the seasons, I actually get little flutters in my chest about the upcoming months. Yeah it’s cold and yeah that sucks and I’m sure I’ll regret this post a couple times over the next six months but I’m a true Canadian, and sometimes winter just calls my name louder than autumn does; maybe it comes from growing up in a city with a two week autumn and a seven month winter.

I never wrote about my favorite things about fall even in my blog-all-the-time-October stint, mostly because it would have come out like “NOPE FALL ISN’T A THING WHERE IS MY BIKINI?” But winter? It holds a soft spot in my heart.

  1. Winter means Christmas and Christmas means home. I made the choice five years ago to move to a city that was not a direct flight to my hometown- it’s a country away and several hundred dollars and grumpy customs agents. I do not get to go home on weekends; I get to go home two or three times a year, and I’ll meet my family at competitions across the continent or they visit me at college otherwise. Unlike autumn, where college kids happily skip home for fall break or Thanksgiving I put on my “Foreign” hat and tag along with a friend to celebrate with their families for Homecoming, long weekends, and the rest. But December? Uh-huh nope that’s my time. I get to go home. It might only be for eight or ten days, but it’s home for Christmas with my family and every year it means so much more to me to able to spend that time with my family and friends.
  2. The Holiday Food. Peppermint? Chocolate? Combined? Into baking?? Well, okay let me buy bigger jeans. I love everything about this season’s eats. I love turkey and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, more than I love burgers on the Forth of July. I’ll take a glass of wine for New Years over a cold beer for Labor Day weekend, and I’ll take a weekend of creating family recipes over indulging on Half-Off Halloween candy (I mean, I’ll still do beer and candy, but one can still have standards preferences).
  3. Head Space. Unlike all the fall breaks that still involve assignments, papers, readings, and general other things we procrastinate on, the break we get over the holidays is ACTUALLY a break. The between-the-semesters mental rest is so unbelievably needed- we come out of finals week every December foggy eyed and with a waning headache and get to spend the next several weeks forgetting everything we learned filling our minds with positive memories, good books, and happy vibes overall.
  4. Snow. Obviously I have appreciated the glory that is the leaves changing this year, like every year. I believe the Midwest does autumn best. But snow? There isn’t a “first leaf that changed” like there is a “first snowfall”. Snow means skiing and snowball fights and snow angels and snow men. Snow looks like Christmas lights- twinkling, and calm and peaceful. There’s always that awkward transition between autumn and winter when they leaves have fallen and the trees look bare and brown- they needs a little “frosting” (yeah that’s a quote from How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days judge me).
  5. Maybe just maybe I’ll stop pretending it isn’t getting cold outside and will actually bust out my sweaters and jackets and cute scarves (yes I own cute winter things my trusty spandex has their limitations).

Until the first snow actually falls and until I start my Christmas shopping and until I even register for next semesters classes, I will do my best to appreciate all that is autumn. I doubt I’ll get my pumpkin baking on- I think that ship has sailed for the season, along with dressing up for Halloween and haunted houses. Before I get too cold however to remember that winter sucks, I’ll appreciate this season in transition more than I did the last