30 July 2013

Alive and kicking.

I'm not going to lie. I wasn't looking forward to 35. It's an age I've dreaded since I turned (and dreaded) 25. And 30. Both those ages turned out to be pretty great, actually, so I shouldn't be surprised the 35 is already shaping up pretty nicely.

Of course, the drinks helped.

My very first ever bloody mary.

Killed it.

My final beer of the Buck beer challenge.

 10 months, 16 Michigan beers later.

Tasty country club margarita.

And the cupcake.

I've very rarely been seduced by the baked good tables at the Farmer's Market, but this cupcake was in my possession before I even thought about it. I saw it, then I had it. And it was delicious. Fresh raspberry frosting = birthdaytastic.

And last but so very not least, all the awesome people in my life that wouldn't dare let me sulk and ignore a birthday made this one of the best birthday weekends yet. That helped, too.

Hugs and kisses to our St. Joe contingent.

Oh yeah, and this crazy dancing lady flower. She helped, too.

You can't beat me, 35!

35 and still smiling.
For the most part.

22 July 2013

The heat is on.

Last week was hot. Not just hot. H-O-T hot. But lots of awesome stuff happened during the heat, including seeing The Heat, which, gotta admit, I flippin loved. It definitely did NOT have me balls deep in boredom.*

*especially not when Joey McIntyre randomly showed up on screen. Yes, I yelped like a 13-year-old.

Brad was up north for his big golf trip (sleeping in a tent, in the heat), so my Melissa came for our third annual ding-dong-the-hubby's gone beach weekend -- our first in three years where we had TWO full days of beautiful weather. (Yes, I consider 102 degree heat a successful beach day - that's what the water is for!) As per usual, Melissa came well prepared - new beach chairs with backback straps and built in cooler and cutie towel clips.

Flamingo baby.

We also tried out a new place, Jimmy's in New Buffalo -

Fun but just so-so, but the beer was delicious.

And a new-to-Melissa (and pretty new to town) bread+bar -

The pink lemonade cake with lemonade buttercream frosting was WHITE HOT.

And after our hottest week of the summer (and perhaps last summer, too), our painters extraordinaire, Daniel and Frankie, FINISHED THE HOUSE. A quick look back, if you will.



Three weeks in... the "pick the color process" begins. This process was not fun. In fact, it was incredibly stressful. I had the picture in my head but didn't know how to translate that to paper swatches. Very very lucky for us, we had good guys working with us, and even though Daniel knew how to make what I wanted happen, he humored me and at one point we had 10 different samples on our house, including custom mixes.

And when we still didn't know, they painted our two favorites basically across the whole front of our house. They made it clear that this is not normal (in fact, they pointed out they've never gotten that many samples nor have they painted such large swatches [below]). But it pays to not be assholes (us) because people are more willing to do the crazy things you request they do.

Eventually we went with Antique Silver, the sample on the far left. Did you know that true gray, I mean, what you picture in your head when you think "gray" is actually mostly brown? Any other gray turns your house purple. Who knew? Other than the painters, who tried to tell me.... ;)

Before they could start painting, they had to cover the neighbors' house. Thank god we have such awesome neighbors.

And then, it was finally time for the grand reveal. It started as just a quick peek....

But once they started, they got too excited and just revealed all.... and what a beauty they revealed.


Hot stuff. 

We are so thrilled. Thrilled with the outcome, thrilled with the guys we worked with. It would be impossible to list everything they did for us. They caulked every seam between every shingle on our siding. They replaced a random broken window square in our garage. They killed some bees for me. They respected me and the bird babies and didn't think of touching my ferns until the finches had flown the coop. They loved our dogs and took care to keep the gates closed. They wore space suits for a week straight and scraped lead off our house. They replaced rotten windowsills. And all their hard work shows. I wish my new job could be "stare at my looks-like-a-new-house house all day" for money. I absolutely adore our house. And I love her even more now.

And, of course, a peek at my beloved front porch, which I am SO happy to have back.

Now, if I could just find the perfect replacement furniture.
Stay tuned........

14 July 2013

Endless summer nights.

How do you execute an awesome retro beach shrimp boil?

First, come up with a plan of attack. Ceile, Hillary, and I have been talking about doing this for years, and Ceile finally said, "LET'S JUST DO IT!" We picked a date (July 13), picked a recipe, and divvied up responsibilities. Ceile was in charge of all the boil accouterments (veggies, sausages, etc). I was in charge of seafood, liquor, and tunes. Hillary took on beer and dessert as well as hosting (and fire manning duties via Troy) duties.

Then, send out a sweet invite, insisting attendees dress appropriately. We're talking hair bows and short shorts.

Next, create a swinging playlist, with a mix of retro and beach-themed tunes, like "Ukulele Lady" by Arlo Guthrie, anything from the Stand Be Me or Dirty Dancing Soundtracks, the Jaws theme, Jack Johnson, and a personal favorite of mine - the Cigar Store Indians, who I've seen live many times at Ann Arbor's Top of the Park. Oh, and, of course, a little "Summer Girls," just cause.

Once the party rolls around, you have to have a solid fire pit plan. Lucky for us, we have an engineer in the mix (go Troy!), so we knew the fire had to burn for an hour, then the water would take just around 15 minutes to boil. Then we just followed the recipe (which we have some tweaks to make to the next time around).

While the potatoes and corn simmered, we enjoyed some delicious punch (Cape Cod Punch, from the book Porch Parties [thanks, Lisa S.!]) and Nude Beach beer.

Then you take a few moments to take in how adorable everyone looks...

Even the kiddoss were in the spirit!

Finally, it is time to throw in the shrimp........

And very quickly pull the pots from the fire and plate up the goodies!

And then, FINALLY, it is time to dig in, daddios.

Gotta say, we killed it. Sure, there are some tweaks for next time (a little more spice, a little less time for the sausage, and, oh yeah, pots with rubber handles? That's gonna melt!), but man, what an awesome night. Seriously. And, obviously, the key ingredient? Some super duper awesome friends. Who wouldn't want to to tackle this adventure with these groovy cats?

08 July 2013

Stephanie scissorhands.

We had a nice long break for the holiday, filled with lots of old friends, beach fun, and summer drinks. And lots of general lazing around.

After days and days of somewhat gluttonous behavior, I decided to hit the kitchen and try out some new kitchen gadgets and some newly pinned recipes, prepping a few meals, and sides, to force us to stay put and eat healthy for the week (or, at least for a few days!). Out came my newly awarded mandoline (thanks, Whirlpool!) and my new and improved immersion blender, and soon the kitchen was an enormous mess.

I was very excited to finally use my new immersion blender, and have it work!! (previous failed attempts = user error)

And even more excited to try out my new mandoline, which I received as a spot award at work for being generally awesome (ha! well, someone thought so enough to at least formally thank me). I sliced a ton of carrots, then some radishes...

The little holder works great with the radishes. Less so with the carrots. So..... I decided to forgo the holder. Went "ok" for a while - note the bandaid, from a mini slip (not pictured, where I sliced the tip of my fingernail off as well). But after slicing the radishes, I felt more confident, so I went back to free-form slicing for more carrots so I could finish up the taco pickles.




I slipped and sliced about half an inch deep into my right index finger, as well as just into my fingernail base (luckily I hit nail, which slowed me down). There is a wound crevasse. Ugh. Just thinking about it again makes my stomach turn. Puppies and kitties, puppies and kitties. Anyway, I was bleedy bleedy for a good hour and am I terrified to remove my band aids today and take a peek today (I've been showering with my bandaged finger wrapped in saran wrap!). Maybe tomorrow. Maybe. I've smacked it a few times today against stuff and it made me very ouch-facey.

Needless to say, I was in no position to make bean patties, so Brad came and helped me finish up that night's dinner. Love that guy.

I'm also pleased to report that I neither barfed nor passed out and was able to fully enjoy my dinner, however tricky it was to maneuver one-handed.

Party with havarti. On my burger.

FYI, the coleslaw was delicious. I've never ever liked coleslaw. Hated it, actually. But lately, I can't get enough. Weird.

On to today, it was finally time to bust out the carrot soup with spicy coconut milk....

This was actually just ok - I blame my decision to use light coconut milk (I know, I know). And it actually tasted better last night warm. It was super filling but light, though, and a perfect dinner with salad (could have used a good roll, too, though). Makes me want to try making gazpacho soon, though! Come on, tomato season! For now, rest.... hunt and peck style typing is zzzzz!