26 September 2012

Q to the a.

I l-o-v-e a good theme. I love traditions. And I love working on projects with friends. So, in that vein, I am countering a recent blog post from my dear friend Melissa, who re-starting blogging this year (hooray!). To get her started, another dear friend, Meg, and I sent her some fun questions to answer - and she finally did a few posts ago. This week, Melissa sent me a few questions of my own. Since the bulk of what I do all day is ask other people questions, I thought it would be fun to turn the tables on myself. And hopefully it is the first of many cross-blog-themed posts!

1. All time favorite song? "Wave of Mutilation" by the Pixies. I've been listening to this song on repeat since I was in 8th grade. UK Surf version, that is, from the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack. The fast version is only ok.

2. If you could only eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Mac and f-ing cheese, baby. Homemade, of course. Preferably by me. Preferably spicy, with pimentos.

3. If you know me well, you know that I'm obsessed with horror movies.

4. Funniest movie of all time? SPACEBALLS! "Say goodbye to your two best friends. And I DON'T mean your pals in the Winnebago."

5. You'd be shocked to know that I have never seen Top Gun. Or Star Wars.

6. What is your dream job? Magazine columnist.

7. If your house was burning down and you could only grab three things (other than Brad and the dogs) what would you take? Our wedding album(s), Birdie (my childhood twin bear with Jess), and my laptop (easier to replace my iPod than all the music files!).

8. How can you possibly dislike pickles? :-) I actually really like pickles. BUT... I only like dill pickles, that I have personally removed from the jar (that I personally purchased and resides in MY fridge), and COMPLETELY SOLO. The idea of pickles, or pickle juice, anywhere near other food makes me want to hurl. As do restaurant pickles. Or pickles in slices. It gives me the shivers to just think about it.
9. What is your dream vacation? A tour of Greece. With a personal guide that speaks Greek. And knows where all the good food is.

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? LONDON! (Vacation home in New Orleans.)

11. If you could have one super-power what would it be? To cure head and stomachaches with one tap from my magic fairy wand.
12. I could easily spend all day watching cheesy horror movies.

13. What song do you hate to admit that you love? "She's All I Ever Had" (Spanglish version!) by Ricky Martin.
14. I secretly want to be a stay-at-home dog-mom. (Is this really a secret?)

15. What is your favorite book? I couldn't possibly ever come up with just one... But one that I've revisited many times since I was young is It - and I've also recommended it to many, many people. And it is STILL scary.
16. If you could meet any celebrity, who would you want to meet? Stephen King. (...Who would I like to stare at from across a small room? Christian Bale.)
17. Would you ever sky-dive? Hell to the no. I would consider bungee. Maybe.

18. Do you have any weird/irrational fears? See above re: pickles. Ghosts and/or ouija boards. Worms.
19. Have you ever been in a fist fight? I once got slapped by a girl at a 7th grade dance. Pretty hilarious to think about. Slapping is weird. Who slaps people?

20. Melissa Polivoi is awesome because she is smart, inspiring, and dead sexy. :-)

***The anal retentive side of me feels like I MUST point out that I spent 10 minutes trying to get the font in the copied in text (the questions) to match my default blog font and it just... won't... work. So let's just pretend I did it on purpose. For aesthetic reasons. 

24 September 2012

Poison ivy.

October is rapidly approaching, and, in honor of it almost being Halloween month, I present you with a scary story...

Seriously, if you have ever planted ivy in your yard, you are an a-hole. You're not going to live in that house forever, and you are leaving someone else a HUGE situation. Ivy grows, and grows, and grows. AND GROWS. Around your house, up your house, underneath your siding, INSIDE your house. Don't be surprised if, late at night, when all is quiet... you can actually hear the ivy growing and growing and slowly taking over your house. It wants you.

It starts with a basement window....

There is even a requisite red-herring creeper...

She starts off subtle, then makes herself known....

Seriously, though, this stuff is a nightmare. It creeps and creeps, and its roots wrap all the way around your house, under your porch, seriously UP the INSIDE of your siding... All the while growing into any nook or cranny it can find, holding on for dear life with little tentacle feet. Think I'm joking? Go ahead and plant some in your yard.

Brad and I spent three hours hacking, yanking, digging, and, ultimately, lawn mowing over our front "garden" to clear out the main section - and the root source for most of the vining that wraps around the house.



Sidenote to point out that these vines turned me into a crazy person for three hours. I was SO MAD at them, and at whoever planted them... I was grunting and groaning and yelling and swearing at them as I hacked away with my rake, shovel, and bare hands.


Happy Churches!
Standing in our front garden for the first time EVER.

Alas... this is just step one. The ivy is growing all along both sides of our house as well (although I did, in my rage, disconnect all the vines that were growing up and into our house), so that's work for another day. And, of course, we have more roots to dig up... Perhaps we'll just poison the heck out of it! It deserves it! Then dirt. Mulch. And maybe some trees or bushes. NO IVY.

22 September 2012


I love Pyrex. You know this. It's even getting to the point where I have to start being choosy about what I purchase because I'm running out of room - and I have a lot of the patterns (that I like) already. This makes Pyrex hunting even more exciting because I'm always on the lookout for that rare pattern or shape or combo with lid. Rachel and I often joke that we need to start playing Pyrex bingo because there are a handful of pretty rare patterns and finding them is super exciting. My holy grail would be the Bradford pattern, for obvious reasons.

You can find almost anything online, but that feels like cheating... and isn't nearly as satisfying as spying something in person. Like today...

I had a very lovely meet-me-halfway date with Birgit in Marshall. Despite the torrential rain, we enjoyed a delicious brunch (eggs with salmon and dill on English muffins for me, eggs with potatoes and chorizo for Birgit), cute shops, and, of course, fabulous company. And, and Birgit can attest to this, I did a little happy dance when I not only spotted the allusive dots pattern.... but discovered it at more than half its typical price. I re-created my joy for Brad when I got home -

Earlier this year, when I wasn't actively blogging, I finally found the perfect hutch for storing all my wares (not only is it perfect for me and the house, but Brad even likes it!).

I stumbled upon this beauty over Christmas break at the Great Lakes Antiques Mall in Coloma. Not only was it cheap, it was on sale (20% off). It's not a terribly solid piece (top and bottom aren't connected either), but the shelves aren't sunk in the middle, it doesn't wobble, and it looks pretty flipping sweet, if I do say so myself. And yes, it came that color. It was clearly meant to be part of the Church family.

Take a closer peek at my lovelies...

Dots, of course, need a very prominent position so I can enjoy them daily. Into the kitchen with you, dots.

The little guy is my $5 Treasure Mart special. (Birgit, you are good Pyrex luck!)

All of this Pyrex goodness inspired me to make dinner that would incorporate some of my other pieces - individual pot pies! I pulled out my Cooking Light recipe from probably 2002, but it is for chicken and frozen veggies, so I improvised most of it.

Four small red potatoes, onions, and one full-sized carrot - plus a little pumpkin beer for good measure (and salt, pepper, and sage, too). Saute for a bit, then pour in condensed low-fat cream of mushroom soup and a little less than a can of water, and frozen peas. I let that simmer for 10 minutes or so while I baked the crust - rounds cut from a premade pie crust - and cooked some zucchini (from a co-worker's garden) and tomatoes. Then it was assembly time.

A few crumbles on the bottom first. (The recipe makes three individual pot pies.) Notice, of course, the two bowls on the end are Pyrex sugar bowls. Trying not to make too much of a mess (I failed), you scoop the goo into the three small bowls, then top with your crust.

Fancying it up with cloth napkins!


This is the first time I've made this recipe since going veggie, and it translates perfectly. All the flavor that I remember! I love sage - it just IS fall to me - and I always dump a ton, even though the recipe calls for something ridiculous like a teaspoon. We both liked it so much we split the third pot pie, as well. Couldn't very well let it go to waste, right? 

This recipe gets TWO BRADS!

I already miss the beach, but I AM looking forward to lots more fall dishes, more Pyrex hunting, and hopefully many more half-way day trips with my girl!

20 September 2012

The great pumpkin.

I spy something orange. And round. And delicious. What's that, you ask? Why, it's......


Yesterday, I had forgotten to prep my morning coffee, so I decided to stop at Biggby on my way in for a special treat. To my surprise, they already had pumpkin coffee available! A little splash of skim milk, and my morning was m-a-d-e.

Also on our current radar is Battle Creek's Arcadia Ales' Jaw-Jacker beer. This beer makes me so glad I've started drinking and even liking beer (not all beer, but enough).

I'm bummed that this is just a seasonal beer, but our friends at the Buck (our local burgers and beer place - they have nearly 20 local beers on tap) assure me it'll be available through early winter. Makes it hard to try the 14 other Michigan beers I need to fill out my Beer Tour of Michigan card and win my tshirt!

I sense some pumpkin whoopie pies in my near future......

10 September 2012

What's she gonna look like with a chimney on her.

I took a quick trip to Ann Arbor last week to share a little excitement with someone special... How excited were we?

I'd say pretty excited. 

Congrats to Birgit, who bought her first house last month. So happy for her! How happy?* Happy as a clam!

Clam pie, that is! 

*Birgit has found a house that is so perfectly her, it is truly kismet. I know she'll love being a homeowner and will fit right in in her super adorable neighborhood in Ann Arbor.

Birgit wanted me to try one of Ann Arbor's newest restaurants, Mani Osteria (which, amusingly enough, is in the old consignment shop where Brad's mom sold all of her old furniture when she moved to Florida - I can still picture the glass coffee table in the window!). We are ladies who dine, but not ladies who wait, so we pulled an early bird special, slipping in without a problem at 5:45. And yes, I did order pizza with clams! But first.... A burrata salad with sliced heirloom tomatoes and basil oil. Equally tasty and beautiful. Then onto the pizzas. Aforementioned clam pie for me, which was pretty darn tasty - crunchy (those are fried little niblets of... something... that you see - if you look closely you can see the diced clams among the sprinkles), tangy, and, yes, a little bit fishy. All in one bite, it tasted very similar to fried clams, which, of course, I love.


Birgit got a pizza... with an egg on it! Genius. (I must admit I liked mine a little better, but this was pretty tasty, too. Lots of mushrooms, too. Yum!) All in all, a lovely experience - the restaurant looks lovely, service was lovely, drinks were interesting and fabulous, and the food is surprisingly well-priced. And the company was to die for.

04 September 2012

For the love of corn.

There's a new love in my life. Nachos, watch yer back.

Friends, I introduce you to baked creamed corn with red bell peppers and jalapenos.

Corn was something I didn't really like as a kid. I had jaw issues, so I couldn't (shouldn't) eat corn on the cob. And, let's be honest, any corn we were eating came from a can. The only time I ever had creamed corn was at my grandma's house, and even that is a very faint memory. I'm pretty sure corn was on the "ew, never again list" when I moved away from home (also on this list was chicken and hot dogs). But over the past few years, corn fell back into favor. And I had some REALLY good creamed corn at some really good restaurants (the Chop House in Ann Arbor comes to mind). Color me officially obsessed.

Sometime earlier this summer, I pulled this baked cream corn recipe out of the Food Network magazine. I kept buying the corn to make it, then would be short on time one night and just bake up the cob to have as a side dish with something else. Well, Saturday night, I finally got it together and made this to have alongside crab cakes.

I like this recipe because it's almost all crab, just a little crumb, etc.

There were just two of us (and I didn't feel like de-corning EIGHT cobs), so I halved the corn recipe. I also wanted to eat a lot (somewhat) guilt free, so I used skim milk in place of heavy cream, mixing in about two tablespoons of cornstarch as a thickener. And while I only used one Aleppo, it was a JUMBO jalapeno from Saturday's farmer's market. Let's just say... we both had the spicy corn sweats during dinner.

Always love an opportunity to pull out the retro bakeware.

Everything was delicious on its own, but I quickly made an extra delicious discovery -

A forkfull of corn + crabcake? EVEN BETTER. This mix and match thing is also somewhat new to me. It wasn't that long ago that I didn't even want my food touching on the plate. I'm so glad I outgrew most (most!) of my weird food quirks... But back to the corn, it was just incredibly luscious. Can you describe creamed corn that way? I'm going with it. Sweet and still just a tad crisp, spicy and salty all at the same time. We totally killed it.

I wish fresh corn season would never end. Sniff.

01 September 2012

Summer lovin happened so fast.

This could well be the last weekend of "summer." We were invited on a wine tour yesterday, but seeing as how it was supposed to rain the rest of the weekend, Brad and I instead took advantage of our four-day-Whirlpool-holiday Friday off and went to the beach instead. The weather was warm but not outrageous, the water was refreshingly cool, and the waves were large and fun but not scary rip-currenty (re: I totally lost my pants but I didn't get pulled out to sea). Our heavy winds have also created a totally new waterfront, with crazy sandbars beyond deep tide pools. I love our ever-changing landscape here at the beach. I love our beach in general. What did we do in the summer before we lived at the beach? So thankful for our new surroundings - I know I've said it a million times, but we basically live on vacation. How lucky are we? Even when seagulls poo on our umbrella!

Just a couple of beach bums! Until next summer....