30 August 2010

Hello goodbye.

It's been a great week. A sad week, but mostly great. I feel like this goodbye has been going on forever, so sorry if I've seemed hung up on it. It's just been such a slow progression... but I swear, I really am headed out of town in LESS THAN 24 HOURS. Unbelievable. Once I'm gone, can I still call myself an Ann Arbor townie? Please?

So again, my whirlwind of a week. Monday to Northville with Lisa S. and Digby. Harry Potter 6 at home with Lisa Z. on Tuesday. Royal Oak for dinner with Melissa on Wednesday. Then it was time for a dance party come Thursday night.

Ahh Necto, the dance club of my heart formerly known as Nectarine... * sigh * It's so silly to have such fuzzy feelings about a bar, especially one that has become a total booty bar, but, as I told the 14-year-old bartender (ok, he wasn't really 14), I've been going there for 13 years. 13 years! Lots and lots of memories, including mine and Brad's first kiss (sooo romantic, I know). The infamous spring/summer/fall of 2005, me, Brad, and Birgit went there nearly every Thursday night. I'm definitely too old to go now, but Birgit humored me and we headed there Thursday night. And, of course, it was perfect. Lots of interesting folks to chat with, new delicious drinks to try, cheesy music to sing along to (hello?! Ace of Base!), a bathroom re-do (no more "Diane eats poop. Seriously, she does!" graffiti), and a photo booth. It was just what I needed, and I'm so glad we got to spend this night together.

Thanks to Birgy for humoring me all kinds of ways all these years.

Friday, I headed to Detroit to meet Sara and Tabi for Sara's birthday dinner. Tabi just started working downtown, and businesses have given the employees tons of local coupons--so Tabi hooked us up with a super affordable meal at the new 24 Grille at the Book Cadillac hotel. First up, birthday drinks.

My drink come true: Coke, cherry vodka, and grenadine.
I had two.

We ordered a few dishes to share -- some super duper yummy calamari (I even helped eat the tentacles), tasty fries (in a cone!), and truffle mac and cheese, which we all agreed was super amazing. Sara and Tabi both got entrees, while I stuck with a beet and goat cheese salad.

Tasty, despite lacking in beets.

Disgusted w/ myself to admit that I was salivating over Tabi's veal meatloaf w/ gouda inside.

Bday gifts!

This was a special birthday. Sara was here. Sara lives here. Tabi and I got to help Sara celebrate her birthday, in person, in her home. I think it's safe to say that hasn't happened in 15 years. It still breaks my heart that as Sara makes her new home in Detroit, I'm leaving the area. But I'm so happy for her new adventure... and so happy for myself that she's still only two hours away. And I have to say, it is so special to still have these ladies in my life. I wonder what the 11-year-old us-es would think of the three of us dining at a swanky Detroit bar, a bunch of old married ladies??

Saturday night, Brad and I headed to Manchester for dinner with my mom, Larry, Jordan, and Zoey. My mom cooked us crab cakes and corn. And, of course, the home staple, Stoufer's mac and cheese. Yum yum! Larry and Jordan even made a cake. It was a lovely evening, and I refuse to view it as a goodbye. They're half an hour closer than everyone else, so I'm going to keep considering them neighbors. :)

That crazy kid.

Zoey time!

Worth noting that Brad was continuously scolded for not following Jordan's sandbox rules.

Rounding out the week, a goodbye party for Lisa and Brad Z. If anyone doesn't know, BZ accepted a job the week after my Brad took his. BZ moved to NYC a week after Brad moved to St. Joe. And now we are all leaving AA within a day of each other. While I'm so sad to see them go, it has been kinda special going through this whole transition business together. It's always nice to have someone that just knows. I'm currently in denial that we are moving in opposite directions of each other. In the meantime, a bunch of us gathered for a little sending off party... even though we're not admitting anyone is really going anywhere!

My favorite Zs.

Lemme in!

Oodles and bundles of well wishes to these two as they embark on their big city adventure. I know they'll be so super happy, and I mostly forgive them for moving so far away. Mostly. :)

I may or may not have Internet connection when I wake up in the am, and may or may not have it again until Tuesday or Wednesday. Wish me luck as I officially embark on my small town adventure. And here's hoping I can keep it together tomorrow. Which is unlikely. Rachel and I have a romantic Stachel dinner date planned, and there just aren't enough hugs in the world... I may have to sneak her to St. Joe with me in my pocket.

24 August 2010

Four on the floor.

My baby pooch turned FOUR today. So, of course, puppy field trip was in order (although I have to say it broke my heart to leave George behind... he was SO sad). First stop, Pet Supplies Plus because they are silly enough to have bulk treats at pup snout level. Then off to the Zingerman's road show because they always give treats to the pooches, conditioning Heidi to expect treats at ALL drive thrus (which is actually pretty funny).

"Stop telling people! Ladies never divulge their true age!"

Actual purchased treat.

"I'm waiting!!!!"

Then back home to share the wealth with Georgie. :D


23 August 2010

Puppy party.

We close on our new house a week from tomorrow. While I'll be back for "pack and load" in a few weeks, I'm basically leaving AA on the 31st. It's getting harder and harder to not think about the whole leaving home thing. I'm excited for the move, excited to live at the beach. Excited for the new house, and, most of all, excited to be one big happy family again. But it's hard to face leaving my hometown. I've officially started the goodbyes, and while I keep reminding everyone (and myself) that we'll only be two hours away, it's still hard. And weird to think that everyone won't be just around the corner. I'll admit I'm spoiled. I've been blessed with many amazing friends, and most of them have been in my day-to-day life for a long time. So anyway, pardon me for the next few weeks while I am a little over-emotional... Anyway...

I'm not the only one with big changes this summer. Lisa S. just bought her first house and also adopted an adorable 5-year-old hound/boxer mix. Tonight we had a perfect poochy/new house date, and we all loved every second of it.

Meet Digby.

(I must say, on Lisa's behalf, that couch is NOT hers. The previous owner [technically a dead woman, so you can't really blame her....] left it behind.)

Digby greets George.

Digby smooches Heidi.

Two peas in a pod.

We ordered some pizza....

The beggar twins.

King of the picnic.

Back inside for some puppy chaos.

...and the ensuing puppy crash.

I'm so happy for Lisa. Her house is adorable. Her pup is adorable. And she's the awesomest ever, so she deserves it all. I can't wait to come back and visit lots and share in all the goodness with her.

19 August 2010

You say tomato.

Have I mentioned how much I love sandwiches? Luckily I think Brad likes them almost as much as me, and this is one of our favorites -- pesto and Gouda. We had these simple sandwiches in Aruba and fell in love. Now that tomatoes are in season and totally yummy, I add a few slices to mine (Brad still goes without). Sunday I picked up some Gouda and some sub rolls made in Clinton Township and have been eating these sandwiches on and off all week.

Just a minute or two under the low broiler.

Melty pesto-ey yum.

Speaking of tomatoes, this week I went over to Lisa Z's for our last (sniff) weekly (sniff sniff) Harry Potter party (sniff sniff sniff), and she showered me with tomatoes of all sizes from her garden.

What to do, what to do.... For lunch, I decided to bust out some veggie meatballs I picked up and make a big pot o' pasta. Rigatoni, to be exact.


First up, a ball report. These are ok. They're not fooling any meat eaters, that's for sure. They basically taste just like the meat crumbles I often buy. The texture is right, though, so you get the basic idea. But they definitely need a good amount of sauce to really taste right.

Balls in the window.

I mixed the meatballs with the rigatoni and the tomatoes (which I dropped in the pasta for a little less than a minute) and a dash of olive oil and a dollop of pasta sauce and some fresh basil and pepper (not too much basil as my little plant looks very sad). There is nothing quite like the pop and squirt of a very lightly cooked cherry tomato... I'm SO glad I am a tomato convert (how did I live so many years tomato-less?). Anyway, everything mixed up well together and I had quite a nice little lunch. Lots of leftovers, too.

On the house front, we had our inspection today. I was here, so I missed it, but it went pretty well. Lots of weird little things that the owners had to know about and should have fixed before putting the house on the market. But whatcha gonnna do, right? Our close date also got pushed up, so now we close on August 31! That's so soon! The reality of it all comes in short bursts but I immediately push it away. I'm doing a pretty good job of convincing my brain that I'm excited to leave Ann Arbor. But... You know. Who would be excited to leave Ann Arbor? Who am I trying to kid? Instead, I focus on new house stuff. I like new stuff. And new places. So I will think about paint.

Looks like I'll get my yellow kitchen after all! Woo! Thinking maybe an orange spare bedroom... probably another in brown. Picking up gray and blue is totally out of character for me, but something about these few shades... We shall see. I'm so overwhelmed by everything... But it'll be good. And fun. And I mostly can't wait!

PS. Meet the newest member of the family! My mom's new pooch, Zoey.

George and Heidi's lovechild?

18 August 2010

The f word.

"You're the only person I know that would make a reservation in another country two months ahead of time." -- Sara

* sigh * Guilty as charged... Ha ha ha! :D

Because we don't have enough going on right now, it's time to start planning the details of our big five-year anniversary trip to England. I don't know that I've mentioned it specifically, but we're headed to London for eight days come late October (with a two-day trip up to Manchester to visit with Marla, Andrew, and Ella). Confirming flights and seats and veggie meals, booking our anniversary dinner, ordering train tickets... Trust me, I've got lists started many many months ago (seeing The Young Victoria sparked an obsession for all things Queen Victoria -- here I come, Kensington Park). But I promise I'm not crazy every-moment-planned detail girl. We just like to know our options because big cities can be overwhelming, and you don't want to get caught unawares.

But, as with all our trips, the food... oh, the food. This is what really gets our planning blood boiling (in a good way, of course). We've been planning a Gordon Ramsay food tour, of sorts. And by "of sorts" I mean mostly seeing his restaurants and maybe eating at one or at the very most two. Michelin-starred food don't come cheap! After lots of research, we've decided on Maze for our actual anniversary dinner on the 29th. Any fans of Hells Kitchen will have a little giggle over seeing John Dory on the menu. I would like to try the gazpacho with squid ink, and I plan on convincing Brad to try the Irish ox "tongue n cheek." Perhaps, then, the peanut butter and cherry jam sandwich dessert?

This trip we fly into Heathrow... home of Plane Food. Our flight gets in super early in the morning (well, not SUPER early, but anything following an overnight flight is early), so I will be insisting on popping in here to grab SOMETHING, just to say I did. Perhaps a summer picnic (you know he had me at "smoked salmon")? I'd even be happy with "porridge." Yes, I am a sucker for all things Gordon. What can I say? He's a total stud.


15 August 2010

Antiques roadshow.

I'm not one to waste any time when it comes to planning. A party, a project... decorating a new house. So it's no surprise I started an "inspiration" file weeks ago before I even personally saw the new house. There's really very little to do once we move in, and we don't have an unlimited budget or anything crazy. But I can still daydream, right? Today it was straight to Nicola's for some magazine inspiration.

And here are some goodies dancing visions in my head...

I love this. And its handy level is twofold: tall cupboards, no seating in the kitchen. I need somewhere to sit while I wait for water to boil, right? From Target.

I also recently discovered the "vintage" section on Etsy. This plays right into my Pyrex collection fantasy.

I've decided I will become a coffee drinker in the new house.

Kitchen table centerpiece. Filled with fruit.

The piece I've been searching for for years. For making delicious lemon bars, of course.

Side note Brad quote: "Just because it's an old house doesn't mean we have to buy a bunch of old stuff that looks like crap." Ha ha, oh silly husband.

Now I just need this super awesome freelance project I've got my heart set on to come through so I can actually buy myself some old stuff that looks like crap! :D

14 August 2010

Celebrate good times come on.

Brad is home this weekend. Hooray! And tonight we sat down for a home-cooked dinner -- it's been a few weeks since we've been able to do this. Double hooray! We also had some reason to celebrate, so I even grabbed a bottle of wine for us to pop open.

I know I went to Blackstar Farms. I know I loved it. And I'm pretty sure I tried this wine there. But it was the last stop on a day-long tour. I don't really remember! :) Regardless, it's a little bitter, but it does the trick.

What's a celebration without some raw Michigan cauliflower?

We decided on fish before I headed out, and turbot was on sale. I was pretty sure I'd never had it before, but it looked nice and the fish guy said it was very similar to cod, so I went for it. I baked it for 15 minutes in just a little bit of fresh lemon juice, seasoned with some pepper and fresh basil. And what a success! This fish is beautiful! White and glistening. And it really does taste like a less meaty cod.

Shiny happy fish.

Because you can't go to Whole Foods and not get some sort of pre-made salad (at least I am a sucker for its charms every time), I grabbed a little orzo salad with spinach, olives, celery, and feta. And bread. Always bread. (Although Brad thought the mini baguette was kind of on the sucky side [I figured it's just because it was toward the end of the day].)

Brad takes celebration dinners very seriously.

Oh wait, did I forget to mention why we're celebrating...?? Silly me! :) We got a house!

Thanks, Google maps!

Now, the whole process has been a pain in the butt. But if everything we've been through with it means anything, we were definitely meant to live in this house. The inspection is later this week, and we're set to close September 15. Keep all your fingers and toes crossed that everything goes well and we can move in shortly after closing! (By the way, house here is still for sale, so please continue to pimp it out to all your house-hunting friends.)

The house was built in 1936 and is in a super cute neighborhood in downtown St. Joe. We finally get our dream downtown house! It's less than a mile walk to all the restaurants... AND the beach! Two stories, four bedrooms, two full baths, a new kitchen, a big dining room, full basement, bonus space upstairs, two-car garage, cute little yard, and a 3-season sun porch. I've already had many o' vision of myself working away on my laptop on the porch. It really is the best of everything we've always wanted.

Now it's time for dessert... Chocolate cream pie. Mmmmmm.

10 August 2010

Beach blanket poochy.

What a perfect pooch vacation this weekend turned out to be. While certainly not the ideal situation, the dogs did way better than we ever expected at the apartment. They barked less, whined less, and overall acted less like maniacs than they typically do. I count that a success.

Less of a success was our Grand Mere State Park attempt. I didn't realize it at first, but this park has bested me twice. Once on a girl's trip for my 25th birthday (remember that nonsense?) and now again. There's no mention of it on the website. They don't warn you when you enter. But to reach the beach, you first hike through the woods for about 3/4 of a mile. It's paved, so typically easy enough. But this year, the mosquitoes are at some sort of hyper crazy level, and it was seriously unbearable. So you reach the end of the path, think, "thank goodness," and realize you are now on a sand dune. You are at near death by the time you reach the top of the dune... the first dune. Turns out, there is about another 1/2-mile hike through the heat and sand, and hills, before you reach the water. Lugging all your crap. Being dragged by two giant dogs. As we did those years ago, we promptly turned back and went back to the car. A little worse for wear.

A small squito sampling.

Heidi is already pooped.

We decided to brave the crowds and headed to Warren Dunes, which is our favorite beach anyway. It was way more crowded than we've ever seen it, but we walked to the far end of the dog beach (which is to the far end of the main beach), and we had quite a bit of space to ourselves. And again, the pooches did GREAT. At one point, a dog walked by and barked at them and they just stared at it like "Don't you know we're in public? Hush!"

And... of course... Heidi took her FIRST swim! Even though the waves were huge, our brave lab hopped in and did a few laps in and out. It was so cute to see her little webbed feet in action, her arms splashing in the waves. I don't think I've ever been so proud. George, on the other hand, couldn't have been less interested in the water. BUT he didn't freak out, didn't pull, didn't bark. He's clearly just more of the sunbathing type. We anticipated a quick in and out trip to the beach, but we ended up staying over two hours!

Scopin' it out.


Just two ladies at the beach.

Georgie is a grandpa's boy.

Pooches <3 the beach.

Needless to say, once we got home, they were out for the night.