08 March 2014

Not if I see you first.

So about 13 years ago, this happened...

Zima for the win.

Then in 2005, this happened...

Maid-of-honor extraordinaire.

A few weeks ago, we were so very lucky to witness this happening...

We are very serious about love.

The words almost elude me on how bursty my heart feels to see Rachel so happy. I wish nothing but the best for her and her prince charming, who've both come so far to get here. Here's to a lifetime of love, laughter, wine, ink, and a few frogs thrown in for good measure. Love you both and so proud of you for finding the joy in the calm and quietness in life as well as the perks of free crap in fancy hotels!

Along the way, we got to see many familiar faces, some that go back almost 15 years. When I left my first real job, I probably wouldn't have guessed that a decade later I'd be sitting at a wedding table with the boss I was leaving behind. I suppose it proves that the good people in your life remain a happy memory when you call fall right back into your old shoes. So fun to catch up with the old AMG posse and hoping it's not another decade before we get to share stories again.

And, of course, some of those familiar faces are those I hold dearest in my life still, and it was extra special to spend the weekend with our dear Meg, mine and Brad's date for the weekend festivities. Or should I say Brad's date, as the two of them are peas in a (whiskey-soaked) pod.

Last but certainly not least, not one but two all-too-brief meetups with our Birgy Birg, set at two of our favorite old haunts. One was filled with the sounds of DJ-Thinks-It's-1991-and-we-love-it (me love you long time!) and the other, the sounds of us stuffing our faces full of Zingerman's food. Miss you already, Birg.

Cherry popper.

I must confess, this was the hardest trip back to St. Joe I've made. I miss all my loves, all the time, but being back with you all, with such a special wedding at the center of it all, with Bradford and the pooches in tow... made me a little homesick. I suppose it's good thing we learned by unfortunate-house-of-skankness that the dogs love them a swanky Holiday Inn! See you all again soon??

Georgie says, congrats, Mrs. Stroud! My mom loves you!

26 January 2014

Fun guy.

Three days of singlehood down, one more night left to go. And night two of delicious non-Brad food was a grand success - and I think Brad will even like tonight's dinner when I make him eat it for dinner tomorrow. ;)

I worked up an appetite this afternoon on my first outside run in nearly two weeks. It was somewhat of a heat wave (25 degrees!) and not too windy, so I knew it was today or not for another week (looking forward to -8 tomorrow....). Besides, Brad took the iPad to Florida, so I didn't have anything worth watching - I knew I'd spend my whole run staring at the clock and cursing the basement, so I went for it - and stayed warm! Running in smooshy, packed snow is like running through the sand, though. I was pooped. And ready for some hot soup.

But first, because I failed to show her in all her beauty last night.... I give you kale and smoked trout.

So glad I gave kale another try. 
And yes, that's Zingerman's sourdough. Jealous?

Worth noting, also, that smoked trout is an instant favorite. It's like the classy tuna. It's still in a can, but it comes in a fillet, and, you know, it's more expensive - so it just screams class. I also recently discovered canned tiny shrimp - Hillary gets the props for that one! Again, it's shrimp in a can (kind of weird, right?).... but they are the perfect addition to homemade fried rice. Yum. And don't require me to pooper scooper them - always appreciated.

Also prior to dinner-making.... Cute poochness ensued.

"George, I am NOT that kind of lady."

"Oh yes, yes you are, Heidi."

Okay. Soup! Soup! Soup!

White bean and roasted mushroom soup!

Of course, I read the recipe wrong and didn't buy enough beans, so I made do with two cans of beans and just 32 oz of broth - which I ended up cutting with a splash of milk and a dab of butter.... I don't love veggie broth - I'm sure it's the salt but it something about it just tastes... tin can-ny.... Anyway, it did the trick, so high five to me.

Getting roasty...

I channeled Hillary's minestrone and also added spinach.
Gotta stay strong!

Still a little broth-y, but I loved it - and it was actually really filling, far more so than the beercheesepotato soup I make all the time. The pureed beans, I suppose. Anyway, I suspect this is one that will age nicely and I look forward to forcing it on Brad tomorrow (not a true force - he seemed agreeable to trying it. Amazing.).

I just may make a mushroom man outta Brad after all.......

25 January 2014

Schmolar schmortex.

You can't scare us, polar vortex. Lots of fun was to be had in the snow, wind, and subzero temperatures today - and we weren't about to miss Molly's baby shower!

Here we come, Molly!

Unfortunately, the weather did prevent several people from attending, but that just meant more delicious Hillary-made food for us to enjoy - and more Molly time to monopolize. Congrats to Molly and Jimmy!

Afterward, I took the dogs (separately!) for snowy, blowy walks - they've got a severe case of cabin fever, and they needed to get the heck. out. before the temps dipped even lower. Plus, they always love a chance to model their snazzy jackets.

"Thanks for the walk, mom!"

And then, because Brad is gone, I made random Brad-wouldn't-have-any-of-it dinner.... :) Sauteed kale (ok, he'd happily eat kale) with caramelized onions (he hates onions!) and holiday fig balsamic (leftover from Christmas, I want to drink a glass of it!), with smoked trout (with a dash of horseradish) on sourdough. On tap for tomorrow, something with oodles and oodles of mushrooms (Hillary's mushroom and spinach quesadillas? Rachel's mushroom tacos?) - Rachel insists!

Oh yeah, and then I made cookies. Delicious, delicious cookies. Finally, a chance to use my new KitchenAid hand mixer - which, I have to say, is legit better than the crap one we had before. It is lovely. So gentle.

I may have finally made a batch of cookies that I didn't overcook.
They're still ugly, though.
But taste beautiful.

Time to go.... avoid eating any more cookies....

22 January 2014

A winter's tale.

Yeah, yeah... I know.

So, Christmas happened.




Okay, and drink. Definitely drink....

Yes, for breakfast. Don't judge.

And 1980s NYE...

Sex on the beach. Minus the beach. Or the sex? Either way, very '80s.

There was a snowpocalypse in there, too...

What snowpocalypse doesn't call for a hot toddy?

All of this occurred during a very much needed and appreciated two-week vacation. The way the holidays fell, and where I was in the work year and plans and projects, it just worked out that I could be off for SIXTEEN DAY IN A ROW! And 18 away from the office (the snowpocalypse kept us snowed in for the first two days back but we were at least trying to work from home). How often does that work out? Two full weeks.... Almost unheard of. And it was amazing. I'm not totally over the fact that I'm back to real life now. Sigh.

I've kept up my running - lots of snowy runs over break (including my PR for 5k, woo!) - offset, of course, by all the food and drink.... but I'm slowly detoxing myself and at least getting stronger, if not all that much skinnier. Starting using Instagram, which is probably why I haven't been here much (yo, check me out: stephjchurch). And, I never thought I'd say this, but I've transitioned to nearly full-time iPhone photo taking. I will NOT however, give my camera up for actual vacation photos, but for everyday life, it seems to be the way to go.

I also got to spend some very special time with some very special people this past weekend. What's turning into an annual SHS '96 Girls Reunion came together nicely with some quick drive-by hug and kisses visits with girlfriends and meet and greet with my littlest family member. What a whirlwind.

Hello, baby!

I prefer to think of myself as a grand cousin.... Lovely to meet you, Everett!

Hello, oysters!

Hello, my lovely ladies!

Via Marquette, Chicago, St. Joe, Canton, and the D!

So much to be thankful for. So much.

02 December 2013

Running full.

I am the worst blogger ever! Rest assured, I've been staying true to my life's work (eating and drinking) in the interim. Luckily, I've also been doing a lot of running.

Hillary and I scored these sweet twin shirts at the outlet mall a few weeks ago for THREE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY ONE CENTS.

I've finally begun to find my groove with this running thing and it's more of a pleasure and less of a struggle - at least most days. I have decided winter running is the key. You can always warm up, but in the dead of summer.... it's just.... not easy. I even braved the snow and ice Thanksgiving morning for my first true winter run and I have to admit - it was kind of amazing.

Let's do this!

Town was completely deserted, everything was silent except for the lake. (I went headphone-less in my nervousness - I thought it'd keep me better tuned into my feet and less likely to wind up on my butt.) I felt like I could have run forever. With scenery like this, what's not to love?

I am pleased to also report that all my work has paid off - I ran with Hillary tonight for the first time in months, a smidge over 3 miles, and, while I have a slower pace, it was almost easy.... and I was even able to talk, and made it up the death hill. I felt like a freakin' champ. Sending lots of love Hillary's way for being a constant source of motivation and support. Smooch.

But the food.... always the food... especially for a holiday like Thanksgiving. Stuffing and tofurkey and mashed potatoes, oh my! (I made this stuffing this year and it. was. amazing.)

And the drink..... I don't drink a lot, don't get me wrong, but I like to drink a little, a lot... especially with so much good stuff surrounding us here in sw Michigan.... What started as a lunch date Friday afternoon turned into a booze tour of sorts, and it was awesome.

Cable cars and old fashioneds at Journeyman.

Beer flight at Tapistry.

AND NOW..... it's almost Christmas! HOOOORAY!

Coming soon.... Christmas Vacation movie party. Third annual cookie party. Somerville Christmas. Holiday Inn and It's a Wonderful Life. I can barely contain myself.

03 November 2013

Put an egg on it.

Thanks to Hillary's farm-fresh connections, I have a beautiful dozen happiest of happy eggs right now.

My inspiration tonight was a recent Pinterest find, sweet potato salad with soft-boiled eggs. For the Churches, the salad was modified - fancy lettuces, red pepper, sunflower seeds, oil/vinegar dressing (as described), minus cheese (only because of course two), and minus quinoa (perhaps it is shopper error, but I cannot find plain quinoa in my store). The focus, of course, being my beautiful farm eggs and my first attempt at a soft-boiled egg. Not too shabby, if I don't say so myself.

Ohhh. Ahhhh.

Are eggs not the most photogenic of foods? Beautiful.

And delicious. This salad was SUPER delicious, and Brad, who always orders scrambled or fully fried eggs, was mopping up every last drop of eggy goo on his plate. Sized properly, this could easily make a meal. But I paired it with my new favoritest soup of all time - the apple cheese soup I made a few weeks ago. This time I used a whole bottle of Jaw Jacker (swapped w/ some of the veggie broth).

Giggle-worthy JJ promo.

What else have we been eating lately?

Vegetable "meat" loaf -

It didn't stay "loafed" - but it was AMAZINGLY delicious, and - believe it or not - tasted very much like meatloaf. At least my memory of it.

Even Brad liked it!! Proof that he ate it....
Brad doesn't even like mushrooms!

We ate the leftovers as a deconstructed shepard's pie, with a bed of spinach, topped with leftover potatoes, topped with loaf crumble. Yum.

British pies at Pleasant House -

Mushroom and kale pie for veggies like me.

Unbelievably good.

...and they brew their own beer, that pairs perfectly with the food.

Of course, the company is what really makes the meal.

Oh, and yeah, we ate a TON of good food in VAIL!

"Colorado style" pizza. I'm a fan.

The 2nd best Bloody Mary yet and oysters at Mountain Standard.

The 2nd best margarita I've ever had and make-your-face-hurt spicy seafood-stuffed 
chile rellenos at Tomayo Denver.

Vail, by the way, is insanely, breathtakingly beautiful. You should go there. (Preferably in October, when the trees are all bright yellow and the snow has started to fall.)