27 June 2010

Where everyone knows your name.

We officially "live" in a small town. Within 15 hours or so (most of which were spent sleeping), Brad saw three people he works with. It's pretty funny to hear a chorus of "Hey, Brad!" on the street of this still pretty foreign little town. That never really even happens to either of us in Ann Arbor. I think I like it. Assuming at some point I meet people, too. Ha!

For more of the familiar, Friday we decided to grab dinner at Port 412 again (remember, the soapy tuna?). America's Funniest Home Videos was on the TV at the bar (awesome!), so we decided to sit there. At first I wasn't very excited. There are only two or three entrees (one of which is a sandwich) for me to choose from, so I was feeling kind of over it. But I made a last-minute change in my order, making selections off the small plates menu, and I'm so glad I did. I spared Brad the camera (since * gasp * he might see someone he knows and they might see him with me snapping photos of my food, ha!), but everything looked as beautiful as it did last time. I got a wedge salad, which was pretty good, although nothing spectacular -- but it really hit the spot (and apparently chefs take "minus bacon" as "triple the dressing!"). I also got the crab cakes small plate, which was a strange decision because I've never really liked crab cakes. But these were SO amazing. Less "cakes," they were more fresh crab balls. Tender, light, and very very lightly fried. And they came with two sauces, one a spicy white sauce, the other tangy red. I'll officially go back here again.

Now enough of the familiar! This was our first weekend in St. Joe, so we spent Saturday and Sunday being explorers. Saturday we woke up early and headed downtown for St. Joe's farmer's market. While I love love love the AA farmer's market and will miss it like crazy, there's something to be said for being able to park (fairly easily and for free), being able to walk through w/o getting crashed into by a stroller, and still finding goodies at 10 am. It's small, for sure, but there was good variety (and while not relevant to me, there were two local meat booths, one of which did have fish, too) -- baked goods, honeys, jams, flowers and plants, veggies, fruits. Most importantly... cherries!! My first local cherries of the season. SO exciting! MMMM. I bought a whole quart. Oh, and being held on the bluff overlooking the lake -- not so shabby, either.

After the market, we walked across the street to check on the status of the new local food store -- still not open. Two thumbs down to that! Oh well, a delicious vanilla latte made everything all better.

We took a moment to enjoy our breakfast, plan our afternoon, and scope out our goodies from the market.

Next up, the beach! I've spent some solo time at the beach here, and we've walked around together in the evenings, but we've not hung out at the beach together really, so there was no question that's what we'd be doing Saturday. But, we needed to figure out where to go, as we wanted to try something new. We decided to head about 15 minutes south to the Warren Dunes State Park. I packed us a lunch and we were off.

We were a little put off when we pulled up to the entrance, well, close to the entrance -- there was a police officer directing traffic, and the line was way down the road in both directions. We contemplated just leaving but stuck it out, and it didn't really take much more than 10 minutes to get in, season pass in hand. And I'm so glad we didn't give up, as the beach was, of course, amazing. You drive though the wooded area, then the street opens up and all of a sudden, bam! Sand dunes! And giant sand dunes at that. (With super fire hot sand, we will save the dunes for a cooler day!) With three miles of shoreline, all the beachgoers are spread out pretty well, so if you don't park by the pavilion, there's even plenty of space to stretch out. AND.... the furthest end of the beach allows dogs! Woohoo!!!

Can't wait to bring the pooches!

I make a mean beach sandwich.

Cherries on the beach.

Beach, Bradford, sandwiches, cherries, and Tony.
What else do you need?

It ended up being the perfect beach day. Sunny, hot (but not too too hot), and not-too-freezing water. I love swimming in the lake, and we got to spend lots o' time in it. Woo! Stay tuned for more "Churches explore the coast" weekend -- now I am tired and want to stare at mindless TV from the blowup chair (hilarious).

23 June 2010

"I hate Yogurt! Even with Strawberries."

I forgot to mention the best part about yesterday's wheat bread experiment. I was full. And I was even full, really, about halfway through the sandwich. Perhaps there really is something to be said for that silly grain/fiber/full business. ;)

Speaking of full, I've always tended toward the eat-till-you're-way-full habit. I also tend to not eat snacks, so by the time meals roll around, the two combine to create a mega pigout fest. Now that I'm pushing 25 (wink wink), mega pigout fests aren't so kind to me, and I really need to make a conscious effort to retrain my brain about food. This means finding snacks that I actually want to eat (that aren't cookies), are somewhat satisfying, and somewhat healthy. Today's snack of the day is... da da da... Greek yogurt.
My ability to handle yogurt comes in waves, but for the moment, things are a-ok. I kept seeing stuff about Greek yogurt on the healthy schmealthy blogs, so I figured I'd give it a try. (And look at this! Some even say Greek yogurt is a healthiest food in the world! Enhances immunity? Score one for my rotten immune system!) This Fage brand was on sale, so I picked up a few.

I decided to start with peach. I was put off by the first bite. It's seriously thick. But by the second bite, I was sold. It's a little sour, but it works. And I actually really love the consistency. For me, it's all about convincing myself something is more than it is so I feel satisfied. And a spoonful of this feels like a real bite of food. Tasty, healthy, and substantial. Woohoo!

Now for a healthy snack that I do NOT give two thumbs up to: coconut water. Also something I've been spotting around on the blogggs. I picked two up because they were also on sale, and today I tried the plain coconut flavor. Horrible. Seriously horrible. And not at all refreshing, as I'd heard. It tasted like water out of a dirty plastic cup. Blech. Since I bought it, I will still try the pink guava one I also have, but I don't expect it to be much different. I'll keep ya posted!

22 June 2010

Mature smashure.

Mega props to all the real housewives out there because really keeping a house is consistent and constant work. While I haven't worked full time in a year and a half now (* holy crap *), I made a full-time job of job searching and admittedly didn't really take to housewifery. But now that we're trying to sell the house and are luckily blessed with constant traffic, the house must be kept in near-show condition at all times; don't even get me started on the immediate pre-showing ritual. And for the most part, Brad is gone, so it's all me (read: cleaning up dog poo! ew!). Which is fine. But I could feed a small family with the money I've spent on candles and cleaning products and air freshener and electricity for vacuuming. Anyway, so the housewife thing was never meant to be a permanent thing, and as we get closer (hopefully) to the big move, I need to start working toward my big return to the outside world (* holy crap *). I've been glued to the laptop for the past two days, and while the outlook is mostly pretty grim, I've stumbled upon a few possibilities and potentially some career-changing opportunities. But having been at it for two days straight, now I am procrastinating writing those last few cover letters (and cleaning for our showing tomorrow) by talkin to you.

"Work? Who approved that? Your job is tending to ME!"

I just got a very intriguing IM from Brad, alerting me to a something very interesting. Apparently, a new food shop just opened up in downtown St. Joe -- Sweet Seasons Orchard. The store site doesn't say much, but they had me at "cherries." According to St. Joe Today, they will also have nut butters, baked goods, pasta, cheese, cider in season (hooray!), snacks, and ice cream. Good thing I'm headed that way Friday so I can check this out, as well as the St. Joe farmer's market Saturday morning. Hooray for our first weekend in town!

Speaking of shops, I finally HAD to go to the store today. It's mostly just me here, so I haven't gone in weeks. I finally ran out of bread, so I ran out this afternoon, deciding on Kroger, which is random because I never go to Kroger. But I really didn't want to go to Meijer. I popped in a few weeks ago to see that they'd redone the inside, but I didn't really pay attention. Today I spent a ton of time perusing the new giant organic foods section, and I was totally impressed. When I get around to trying some of the new items I decided to check out, I shall share. In not-organic-food-news, I bought wheat bread.

I hate wheat bread. And if I'm having any gut issues, I really am supposed to stay away anyway (fine by me!). But I almost always buy Aunt Millie's breads for my regular sandwich bread, and none were on sale EXCEPT this wheat bread. I don't know what my deal was, but I threw it in the card. Weird. So tonight for dinner, I decided to test it out and toasted some up. Add some reduced fat feta (not nearly as good as full fat; I figured I'd test it out, lesson learned), half an avocado, two slices of tomato, and a thin spread of roasted red pepper hummus.

I very carefully put the two sides together (bad sandwich-building planning on my part)...

Guess what? I didn't hate the wheat. In fact, I maybe even liked it. It's super commercial bread, so I'm sure there's tons of sugar and all sorts of other evils in it, but it's a start. I can at least aim to eat it when my guts are in a good place. I feel so mature.

20 June 2010

Tentacles and all.

In theory, I love the idea of a restaurant week. (I'm sure I offered up this same rant last summer.) I love a good "event," and I love to go out to eat. And I love trying new places, or trying the best of what an old place has to offer. But in Ann Arbor, there just aren't that many meals that are worth $25. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of great food here. But it's all pretty reasonably priced. So why would I go to the same places and pay more than I normally would? Forget it! (Even if the price included a beverage [even a coke!], or was just $5 less....) That being said, there are always a few gems on the participating restaurants list (and admittedly lunch is typically a pretty good deal), and I do believe Lisa and I discovered one tonight, the first night of this summer's restaurant week. And for me it really was a total surprise... Pacific Rim... Asian food! Ew! Ha ha!

I've been there two other times, years ago. I remembered liking it, but as my Asian food thing has gotten stronger, I was less and less compelled to ever go back. But when Lisa and I couldn't secure a Sunday-night reservation at our other top choices, I threw it out there. Turns out, she'd never been. Whatever my opinions are, people love it there, so I thought it was important she go before she leaves AA, too. And the choices seemed pretty neutral, so I felt safe enough. And I actually was daydreaming about the calamari for days prior, so I was even excited (for the food! Of course I was more than excited for the company regardless).

Kind of random for me, but I started with the lemonade (not included). It was house made and boasted of hints of lime and orange, too, so I ordered it on a whim. It was beautiful, so summery. And the perfect amount of not too bitter and not too sweet (although I am nursing a tiny tummy ache, which I believe the lemonade is to blame for). It went perfectly with the much-anticipated calamari, which was as delicious as I hoped it would be. I even ate every last bit of the spicy peanut dipping sauce (including dumping the last drops onto the plate so I could scoop them up. Who am I?!). Not too overly fried, not chewy at all, and I think they even snuck a few tentacles in there.

Lisa went with the wine flight (a pretty good deal actually) and the Saigon spring rolls. They looked tasty and Lisa confirmed they were as good as they looked.

The restaurant week menus typically include an appetizer, main course, and dessert. I like dessert, so I was initially a little ticked off that there was no dessert; rather, a second appetizer-type course. Of course, it all worked out in the end (we got the molten cake anyway; at $8, more than worth it, especially if you split it), as the cold avocado soup was amazing. A risky decision for me, but I had three Greek salads this week -- I couldn't handle any more lettuce. But it was sooo yummy. (And smelled good, too.) Lisa was initially a little unsure, but it seemed to win her over a few bites in as well. It really did taste like guacamole, with a hint of spice... but I promise it was yummy. And there were crunchy thingies, and I do always appreciate something crunchy in, well, everything I eat.

For the main course, I went in planning for the scallops. I love them but very rarely order them because they often come in such small servings I feel meal-cheated. But these scallops came with noodles, too. I was momentarily swayed by the discovery of risotto, but I mentally smacked myself and stuck to my guns. Scallops it was. And the scallops was delish! Noodles, veggies, scallops -- lots of different textures to keep my mouth happy (although my first bite pulled in a giant hunk of fresh cilantro, which is my new nemesis. I promptly picked the rest out and made a little pile on the side of my bowl) and my belly full. And peanuts! Yum.

Lisa decided on the salmon. I don't typically order salmon either, but I have to admit her salmon looked amazing. It was (in appearance, at least) perfectly cooked (pink and fluffy), and she said she was very happy with her selection. Her rice had a surprising hint of wasabi in it, too, which also seemed to please her. :)

After dinner, we walked around downtown for a while. It was the perfect night (and the weather's perfect, too). I'm definitely rooted very firmly in limbo right now. No where really feels like "home" -- I just kind of feel like a visitor wherever I am. But today I felt like Ann Arbor was MY town again. It was a nice feeling. I may have strutted a little, just maybe. It was exactly what I needed. Thanks, Pacific Rim, and thanks, Lisa!

19 June 2010

Going to the chapel.

Happy nuptials to our dear friend Ryan and his lovely new bride, Barbara.

Brad, not Barbara.

12 June 2010

In the round.

Happy one-year knit-aversary to me! I can't believe I've been knitting a whole year now, but I also can't believe it's only been a year since I've been knitting. I feel like I've come so far, but I know I still have so much to learn. This time last year I was arriving in Colorado, about to begin knitting boot camp with my Jess.

"Get to work, soldier!"

My guru.

By the end of the long weekend, I had a finished project, a baby hat for little Owen Collin.

Since then, I've finished 35 projects and am currently on my 36th, a beautiful Noro "market shawl." Knitting takes a slight back burner to sunny-time reading in the summer, but I'm still making progress.

It means so much to me to have this special skill to share with my Jess, and it's been a life saver this past year, which at times has been quite hard (and boring). I've always got something to work on, something to calm my mind, and there's nothing like the pride and joy of finishing a project. Except, of course, passing on the love to one you love.

The knitting circle continues...

11 June 2010

Pretty as a picture.

Thanks to Up North Lindsay for sharing this fun project -- a personal mosaic, made via this website. Generate the mosaic by answering a series of questions and plopping the answer into google images. Pick a shot from the first three pages and add the photo link to the mosaic (Why can I not spell mosaic? Thank goodness for spell check.) generator. Voila!

1. What is your name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What is your hometown?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. What is your favorite movie?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What is one word to describe yourself?
10. How are you feeling right now?
11. What do you love most in the world?
12. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Make one too and share the results with me. I know you're all looking for excuses to slack at work! :)

PS Just so we're clear here, I know the font is messed up on the bottom of this post and it is DRIVING ME CRAZY that I can't fix it! :P

09 June 2010

Rainy day woman.

It's always a bummer to be at the beach and/or on a pseudo vacation on a rainy day. But yesterday, I didn't mind so much because, honestly, all I wanted to do was read my Tony. So I did.

Of course, you need a snack for rainy day reading.

My new favorites.

And, as is to be expected, as I prepare to head back to Ann Arbor (house showing tonight!), it's sunny and 74 today. Hopefully Brad will go for a run on the beach tonight and enjoy the nice day for the both of us.

08 June 2010


Yes yes, you are mine. All mine.

Signed first edition.*

*Between you and me, it came that way. I was like "I'd be really TO'd if he was HERE and I missed it." Anyone else asks, he personally signed it for me. ;)

07 June 2010

Home sweet home(ish).

This apartment is officially a home... I cooked my first meal here! After a weekend back "home" (no where really feels like home at this point), we headed back to St. Joe Sunday afternoon with a truck full o' stuff for the apartment. And by stuff, I mean hardly any stuff, as the disco apartment is still pretty bare. But at least now we have a lamp, a footstool, a footstool/table, and some blankets for the bed (aka air mattress).

Anyway, back to this dinner -- Saturday morning I grabbed m-i-l Lynn and we hit the AA farmer's market for probably the first time since last June. I made myself stick to a budget and a plan, but when I saw the squash blossoms, I had to have them (and a $10 bucket of new guinea impatiens, which Lynn claims are next to unkillable). With two house showings on the horizon, I didn't want to cook anything that night, so I saved them for St. Joe. I don't have anything to batter them in here, so I decided to bake them instead of fry them. I just heated the oven to 350, stuffed the blossoms with goat cheese, laid them on a cookie sheet and salt and peppered them, then threw them in the oven for about 13 minutes. Then I made some simple pasta with just noodles, red sauce, and Italian seasoning. Then plopped the blossoms on top.

Hooray for first apartment dinner.

Today I was quite pleased with my navigating skills as I found a new way to get to the closest grocery store (a feat, as I am terrible with directions). Upon arrival, I went right to the customer service desk and got my store saving's card -- I guess I am officially a sort-of local now, ha! I was only there to pick up a few things, but I was pleased to find more veggie-friendly items: fake meat crumbles, some organic options (not a ton, but some), Boca burgers, and a ton of Amy's frozen meals (not that I really buy those but I was still glad to see them). I picked up some roasted red pepper hummus and I am embarrassed to admit how excited I am for Brad to come home for lunch tomorrow: ciabatta, pepper hummus, lettuce, tomato, and goat cheese. MMM.

But before we can get to lunch tomorrow, we had to have dinner tonight. We decided on Port 412, which Brad has eaten at before but I had not. The inside is nice, very modern and cozy, and the downstairs level even becomes a nightclub (hilarious!). We opted for the roof patio, even though it was kind of on the chilly side. Lots of good stuff on the menu, but for some reason I got it in my head that I wanted the tuna, even though it screamed of crazy Asian sauces. I asked for it on the rare side -- mmm.

It looked beautiful!!!! And the main sauce was some sort of peanut-y thing, and I like peanuts. So I was hopeful. But there was something on the plate, something citrus-y perhaps, that tasted like window cleaner smells. It was on the tuna, on the veggies... It was definitely too much for me, and scraping everything off the tuna didn't help at all. Which is too bad, because the tuna would have been amazing -- what I could taste of it was super yummy. I know this is of no fault of the restaurant, so I still look forward to returning (next time I will stick to my guns and get the caprese salad and the calamari and/or the Mediterranean veggie wrap). Especially since Brad has loved every meal he's had here. Especially tonight.

Some sort of chicken scallopini dish, topped with stewed tomatoes, prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, and capers. Apparently it tasted as amazing as it looked. I was jealous. Although I have to admit I am totally asparagus-d out for the season. Dang, I wish I had some mozzarella right now... Must watch scary movie to distract myself!

*Update: I have not yet convinced Brad to rethink the bed position/mirror situation. Luckily I have not yet broken my leg stumbling around the room with my eyes closed to avoid making eye contact with the mirror.

04 June 2010

Studio 54.

I can't decide if Brad's new apartment should be the "disco apartment" or the "Poltergeist apartment." Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:

Stay out of the mirror, evil Carol Anne!*

What I do know for sure, though, is that I am so glad that Brad is out of the ghetto-tel. Mostly for him, because that's no way to live five days of the week. But also for me because, well, it was totally skanky!

The new place is actually pretty great, and it serves double duty. It's a two-bedroom apartment, so Brad's splitting it with his parents, and it'll be their weekend getaway from us (ha!). It doesn't allow dogs (although we're going to try some sweet-talking) so I can't really "move in" so most of our stuff will stay at home base in Ann Arbor. But it's got a kitchen so Brad can eat a little better, non-nasty-hotel bathrooms (two of them actually), a giant workout room, a pool, and, the best part, private beach access. It's also a corner unit, surrounded by trees, so it's super private. And the balcony, which is huge, is also surrounded by trees, so you kind of feel like you're in your own home.

Welcome home, Brad.

Again with the mirrors.

FYI, that is black and gold metal stripes.

I have big footstool plans for the living room.

I did 40 laps. I was pleased with myself.

The backyard.

Speaking of our backyard....

It's not as huge as the public beaches, and I'm certain there are hundreds of snakes hiding in the trees and underneath the boulders, and the water has a rocky bottom so it's not as crystal clear... BUT it's private, there are no screaming teenagers, and it's beyond beautiful. I'll take it.

*Let's just be honest here and point out that I have always had and still have an overwhelming fear of dark mirrors. Blame "bloody mary" at childhood slumber parties, or Candyman, but I stumble to the bathroom with my eyes closed at night in fear of making eye contact w/ whatever may lurk in the dark mirrors. If I'm going to be spending much time here, we're going to have to at least rethink the bed position!

I felt super housewifey yesterday afternoon when Brad came home for lunch. He's NEVER been able to do that before. And here I was, the dutiful wife, waiting at home for him... and I made him lunch! We are so 1950s. Hey, maybe it's fitting then that this apartment was clearly decorated decades ago.

Mom! Meatloaf!

On a quick subject change, right now in downtown St. Joe, it is "hot diggity dog" time, and lining the streets are 20+ individually created dog statues. I wanted to smoosh them all. They'll be here all summer, so I'll have plenty of opportunities to do so.