27 April 2011

Booky wooks.

The spring babies have made a first appearance. A huge congrats to Liz, Aaron, and Sam on the newest edition to their family. Welcome, William! Can't wait to meet you! Still to come, Tabi, Marla, Jess, and Tracy. So many little ones joining the world in the near future. You know what that means... Baby knits! :)

In other news... an ode to the public library. Obviously, the St. Joe library has been at the center of my social life here. Book club (and hence all my friends), trivia, Iron Chef. But I had yet to really do a good library browse. We had weird weather today. It rained the majority of the day, and when I left work, the ground was warmer than the air, so there was steam rising everywhere like crazy (it was very The Fog). I was almost home when I decided I wanted to see how the steam was affecting the lake, so I zipped right. Then saw the library and thought, hey, I should go in there. And zipped left. And in I went.

Right in the entrance, they had a Michigan books display set up. And they were all shiny new hardcover books, for which I am a total sucker. First I grabbed a fiction novel about a couple in the 1940s. Then a bright red cover caught my eye. I picked it up and... it's a book written by the niece of one of the assumed victims of John Norman Collins (The Michigan Murders). Turns out, she was killed by someone else, and the book is about all of it. Woot!

Then I wandered over to the regular fiction section to grab the book I technically came in to get. Knit Two, a slightly chick litty sequel (to The Friday Night Knitting Club). Not usually my thing, but I have to confess the series has me hooked. Then that reminded me... I need a knitting project! So I wandered off to the knitting section, where I found a knitting book co-written by... Tracy Ullman! Whaaa?? I don't know that it'll yield any me-friendly patterns, but I figure it's at least worth a look.

Needless to say, I heart the library.

(...and the librarians are pretty sweet, too. Shout out to Alicia and Andrea!)

George and Heidi, on the other hand, are always suspicious of library books.

 Ok, enough chitty chatty. Time to pour over my new books.

22 April 2011

Pretty in purple.

We've never been big on Easter. We typically forget about it until it's upon us, and we haven't done much of anything in years. But it's still fun to get in the spirit of spring and bunnies and chickies and pastels. And, of course, Cadbury eggs!!

Easter nearly slipped by me before I could purchase the requisite one egg for the year. I was in line buying hot dog buns yesterday when the woman behind me started clucking like the Cadbury bunny. I looked down and the highly desirable eggs were right there. I thanked her for reminding me and grabbed two.

Because of the holiday, Hillary was off work today, and somehow I convinced her to go see Scream 4 with me (thanks for being a trooper!). It was super fun, and since it was filmed in Ann Arbor, it felt like a little visit home. Afterward, we went for pre-Easter mani-pedis. $35. Seriously! Beautifying yourself in St. Joe is quite reasonable. Hillary went with powder blue, I went with a pastel purple.

I will be perfectly matchy with my new purple shawl. That I am wearing to Sunday brunch. With the in-laws, who arrive tomorrow.

For now, I am enjoying a delicious bottle of local wine. First Kiss, from Founder's. It is a sweet dessert wine, infused with raspberry and chocolate. And it is pure heaven. Swoon.

20 April 2011

Pooper scooper.

I'm finding that working makes me boring. I remember when I lost my job, I felt that the future of this blog was uncertain. Now that I have a "real" job again, I keep thinking to myself, wow, I'm really boring now. Hmm... But I have found that I'm enjoying having a routine, even if it does require me to wake up early. I haven't overslept yet, and I've even had time to make coffee and lunch in the morning, which is previously unheard of for me. Clearly, I am a much more mature businesswoman these days! ;) Anyway, I haven't found a rhythm yet for work + dinners... The first week I was super motivated in the kitchen, the second week not so much but then I hit my stride over the weekend. This week has been mixed. We had grocery store sushi for dinner tonight, for example. But last night, I went as far as de-veining shrimp.

For Christmas, my mom got me a subscription to Cooking Light. This month's issue was instantly inspiring. I mean, how good does this look?

So after work I popped into the store to get some shrimp. Honestly, I've only made shrimp at home a handful of times, and always pre-cooked, w/o shell. Well, my grocery store fish counter sucks. And the only shrimp not from Bangladesh or Vietnam were jumbo Gulf shrimp... fully intact (no heads). So I sucked it up. Anything for the good ole USA.

I wasn't really sure where to begin, but I didn't figure it could be that hard. I did a quick Google search, grabbed my knife, and started, well, ripping out the poo! Let me tell you... that was way grosser than expected. I'm mostly able to not think about fish as meat, but it was really hard manhandling the little buggers, ripping off their legs, their big squishy bodies... Plus, the poo. Yuck. And it's confusing! Some have giant intestines, some don't appear to have any at all. What gives? Either way, eventually I was done and into the pot they went. I sprinkled them with some paprika and pepper and cooked them two minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, I'd been hard boiling two eggs. I'm no expert at peeling eggs, so they don't look too pretty, but they were perfect to me.

Hello, pretty ladies.

I'd also whipped up the dressing, based on the CL recipe. I just squirted some mustard in a bowl, squeezed in a lemon, cranked in some pepper, and whisky whisk. To prepare the salad for our shrimp, I made a little bed of romaine, chopped up some cucumber and tomato, added an egg (no egg for Brad; wuss), and tossed it all around with the dressing. Two plops of guacamole. Then it was time for the shrimp.

Nothing too earth shattering, but it was a super yummy meal, and pretty healthy, I think (I didn't even use any oil in the dressing). Brad rightly pointed out that the whole thing would be pretty tasty in a wrap, as a sandwich. That's my guy!

Speaking of magazine recipes, I pulled out my binders this weekend (that I put together in 2008 and haven't updated since) and was reminded of lots of good recipes I've tried and not yet tried. Need to get cooking! I also pulled all the meat recipes and dropped in some that have been floating around for a while. My next big project will be to go through the past year's worth of food mags and get those earmarked recipes into the binders.

This weekend I was also reminded of how much I love to host dinner. Sunday afternoon, Ceile invited us to join her and her bf for dinner, and I in turn invited them to join us. Nothing crazy, just our favorite pumpkin mushroom Gorgonzola pasta. Which, I realized, was one of the first dishes I ever made (I was a late bloomer). Brad and I were hosting Jason and Krissy for dinner, and the recipe had just been in the most recent issue of Cooking Light. Anyway, Chris and Ceile joined us for dinner, and it was lovely.

George, ever the security guard.

I love having awesome neighbors.

On a totally unrelated note, I'm re-finding the ability to and the joy of working to music. For as much as I was home alone before, I spent most of my days in silence (other than the songs I sang about and to the dogs). In the past few weeks, however, I've been listening to music at work, and I like it. Minus the earbuds. Ow. So to celebrate (may the celebrating never end, right?), I just downloaded myself some new tunes. The Frames. The new Ray LaMontagne. And the new Adele song because I am obsessed with it. Something to look forward to tomorrow morning... Oh, and free lunch from the bossman. Score.

13 April 2011

Spring released.

First things first, a belated (bloggy) happy 30th birthday wish to Hillary. I hope she is enjoying her life as a 30something, and I'm happy to have her as a fellow member of the club.

Just 'cause you turn 30 doesn't mean weird old men are 
going to stop buying you shots!

In addition to Hillary's birthday celebration Saturday night, much awesomeness ensued this past weekend. We had a brief glimpse at what the summer has in store for us, enjoying a 60-degree Saturday and an 80-degree Sunday. To celebrate, first, we did some yard work (and I also did some yard sitting - I even got a sunburn!). Brad planted some grass seed...

While I planted some herbs (and lavender).

I am thrilled to report that my basil babies are already sprouting!! No sign yet of any mint babies.

Second, we had a bbq, of course.

 The first bbq of the year always reminds me of me, Brad, and 
Birgit, shivering, but enjoying dogs and mac salad for our first bbq
at the Ann Arbor house...

This was our first bbq in possibly two years, as Brad was spending most of his time in St. Joe (without me!) this time last year (crazy!! time flies). The boss-field-trip-fancy-brats for Brad, veggie dogs for me.

I've found I actually quite like this brand of fake wieners.

I also whipped up a giant batch of macaroni salad, which we're still working our way through. Nothing great, but it did the trick. Just some noodles, some mayo, some mustard, some celery, some carrots, paprika, salt, and pepper.

By the time the food was done, it started to rain (of course). So we had an indoor picnic.

In other news, I just finished my latest knitting project - a triangle shawl, just for me. I used bulky cotton yarn and size 13 needles, so it knit up nice and quick (well, 2 or 3 weeks). The pattern was suuuuper boraphil, but I'm so in love with the end result that it was definitely worth it. I am wearing it right now. And I can't wait to wear it all summer. In fact, I kind of want another.

Officially an old lady.

06 April 2011

She works hard for the money.

I have officially reentered the workforce. Well, the outside-the-home workforce. All in all, it isn't so bad. And while at home I search antique stores for the perfect retro-modern objects, at work I'm now surrounded by authentic 1950s design. Literally. I'm sure that's when the office was decorated. It's not at all trendy or ironic. It's just old. I hope to sneak some more pics in the near future, but for now, trust me, it's like stepping back in time.

My particular cube is very modern in comparison, pieces of leftover office furniture from when Zenith (how '80s!) closed an office in the area.

Please pardon the crappy cell phone picture.

I started my work week Tuesday, in my new work pants (LOVE THEM) with my bag lunch.

Fiber One bar, pb&j (with Michigan cherry preserves), apple, carrots, mini brownies.

As I said, so far, so good. Everyone is SUPER nice. It's a small manufacturing company, so there is a shop on site, which, as best I can guess, employs anywhere from between 10 and 20 men (and 1 woman). There are also 3 or 4 men that work desk jobs in the shop area. Up front in the office area are the other 2 women, my boss (the president), my boss' son, and the engineer (a young guy from Poland; other than me, the only person there under 50). See a theme? Lots of men (mostly old). The three women lunch together every day at Judy's house, my over-the-cube neighbor who lives across the street. A standing invitation to join was offered. I thought that was pretty nice.

There's also an alligator.

You thought I was kidding!

(He's just a temporary visitor, as are the two geckos.)

My boss is quite the character. He's got lots of stories. Most pretty amusing. I'm sure I'll have great tales to tell over time. And I even have business cards and an email address. This job is officially official! And my first official order of business is to market random office space the company owns on the other side of town. I fully intend to target Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. I may even beg.

Due to some now-postponed-for-potential-root-canal dental work this afternoon, I had a few free hours. What better to do than hit Target? Remember how I said my office is very OLD? Well, I'm not going anywhere near the water there (or the ancient coffee maker that doesn't get used), so I needed some provisions. First up, a coffee thermos and a water bottle. "I'm picking out a thermos for you..."

Why yes, that does say "Caution: Extreme Awesomeness."

And notebooks! I heart office supplies.

And, of course, a new lamp.

Tomorrow is technically my "office" Friday, and I'm headed to Chicago with my boss for a trade show. Then it's time for my "home job" Monday on Friday. Keeping busy! I think it's good for my brain.

04 April 2011


Once upon a time, we had two big trees in our front yard. Turns out, those trees were dead. So one day last fall, the city showed up and chopped them down. They left the stumps.

Last week, they finally started attending to the scraps they left behind.

Hillary asked me if an asteroid had landed in my front yard. That made me laugh a lot.

Later in the week, the city came back.

Now it looks like we have two bodies buried in our front yard. Sheesh. Here's hoping the city gets our new trees in before next spring.

Meanwhile, I was very excited to finally get to use my whole-nut spice store nutmeg last night. Get in my belly, nut!

A quick grate...

...and time to eat pimento mac and cheese.

It was the cheater version. I felt lazy. To make the cheater version, just boil your noodles and drain. Noodles back in the pot, then dump in your pimentos. I poured in a little milk and a tablespoon of flour, then mixed that up before slowly adding in two cups of sharp cheddar. Mix and heat, sprinkle with paprika (and nutmeg!), and you're done. Yum.

Tomorrow I go to work. Hmm.