michigan

Cottage Week 2014

I once again must ask your forgiveness for my absence. Life has been busy! We have finally relocated to the Windy City, and I couldn’t be happier. I have been waiting do to an update until I got my new computer (after 8 years), so here we are, finally! But alas, you will have to wait just a bit longer for the Chicago adventure update.

I am spending my annual week at my cottage and have finally gotten around to doing something that has been 16 years on the “to-do” list. I just purchased a gravestone for my mother’s plot up here. She is “buried” (and I mean her ashes) at a plot in the Presque Isle Township Cemetery, but she has never had a gravestone. Each year I go to visit, I sit by a tree that is near to her plot (not remembering which location exactly is hers). Last year I discovered that her tree had been removed. As if I hadn’t felt ridiculous enough talking to a tree, now I get to just sit there and talk to grass; a generalized guess of where I think is the right spot.

Today, I finally walked into the local memorial store (I wanted to call it something fun like the Engraved Granite Boutique) and picked out a stone for her. It was a little daunting trying to pick something like that out, but I went with simple, basic info, and paid the nice man. In 30 days, Mom will finally have a stone and I (and my brother) will have a place to visit.

It is strange, but it feels like another piece of the puzzle to becoming “me” and taking charge of my life. Sort of “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself”. It just all fits back into my theory of it being your life and you can’t be afraid to take the reins and make things happen.

It is a little victory, but big or small, they all count.

If I am not back before, have a happy 4th of July! Sending you all love and well wishes of independence!

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Adventures in Detroit!

Detroit gets a pretty bad rap from most of the nation, and most of Michigan; me included sometimes. 

Having grown up in a suburb of Detroit, I was fortunate enough to go to the Detroit Symphony, Tiger’s games, hockey games to cheer on the Red Wings, the Fox Theater and other little Detroit treasures.  As an adult, though, short of the occasional Tiger’s game, I never go to Detroit, and I never really want to… Until I met my new co-worker Dana who lives in, and LOVES, Detroit.

She planned a Detroit day for Paul and me so that we could see Detroit through the eyes of a natives.

We started with coffee at her amazing loft which is right across the express way from Comerica Park and Ford Field and then made our way over to Eastern Market.

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Detroit skyline

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They had the most amazing flowers!

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I thought this couple selling bread was just too cute to not take a picture of.

We then headed across the street to grab brunch at this great little place: 

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They had so many great options and most everything is made from local goods, plus it is cafeteria style seating, so you can make some new friends. How many people would have guessed that there were places in Detroit to get a vegan waffle? 

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So good!

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Then we headed to Dana’s boyfriend’s building.  It is a former Model-T dealership in Cork Town that he is renovating.  The place just reeks of history and has the most amazing details! A tin ceiling, tiled floor, and two roof spaces for amazing views of Detroit.

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Ambassador Bridge from the roof top

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Michigan Central Station. It is abandoned now, but is still a gorgeous piece of architecture.

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The site of the old Tiger’s Stadium, now used as a park.

The second floor of his building is his living space, and is the coolest loft style space I have ever seen. So much potential!

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This doesn’t do it justice

We met a woman who rents a small retail space in the building and grew up in Cork Town.  It was amazing to sit and listen to them talk about the history of Cork Town like when the Tigers won the World Series in ’84 and when people were bused into downtown Detroit when mental hospitals were closed around the state.  You get a whole new appreciation for a city when you get to spend time with people who love it and are investing in it.  

Our last stop in Detroit was Slow’s BBQ (for a vegetarian, I end up at a lot of BBQ places).  It has a great reputation, and speaking only on behalf of the beer, service and mac n’ cheese, it was amazing.

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And one last look at Michigan Central Station:

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Detroit may get a bad rap, but there is tons to do in this city and lots of life thriving in it.  It’s not out of the woods yet, but Detroit will have better days again.

(sorry for the terrible photos, I forgot my good camera at home)

And the Winter Fun Continues

I was woken up from a deep sleep in the early hours of the morning by a massive snapping and crashing noise.  

I shot straight up out of bed, smacking Paul in the chest yelling, “what was that?!”.

I scramble out of bed and go flying down the stairs like a bat out of hell, as fast as I can without falling in the dark, and dart from window to window to see what the culprit of this noise was. 

When I get to the fourth window, and still see nothing, I am starting to question whether or not I was dreaming.  I don’t hear Paul getting out of bed yet either, so I start to think, “oh God, it must have been part of my dream.  I look like a complete fucking lunatic right now!”. 

Determined to prove my sanity, I race to the back door. Imagine my relief to find this waiting for me: *pictures were taken in the light of day*

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the poor patio chair never had a chance…

Paul finally lumbered down, took a look, and said, “huh…thankfully it didn’t hit a car or come through the roof.  I’m going back to bed,” and with his signature kiss to the top of my head, made his way back up stairs. 

This morning, I was able to investigate more.  We had been his by a huge ice storm, coating our whole world in ice. While walking around the house taking pictures, I could hear limbs and trees crashing all over our neighborhood. For as awful as the fallen trees and damage is, there is a beauty to everything being covered in ice.

Hope everyone getting strange weather is safe!

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Back/side of our house

 

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P.S. Our snowman was murdered 😦 He lived a mere 24 hours. 

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

It has been a snowy few weeks here in Mid-Michigan, and the temps have been sub-zero for a number of days. So imagine the joy and surprise of the people when it hit a balmy 40 degrees yesterday.

Annually, whenever the temperature dips below 50 degrees for the first time in “winter”, I sternly declare, “Michigan is too cold! I will never survive another winter!”… yet any Michigander will tell you that in the depths of winter, if the temp rises anywhere near 35 degrees or higher, you mine as well declare it a heat wave.

Enter this gentleman:

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I get it, it’s 37 degrees out and feels like spring break, but sir, this is just inappropriate.

Luckily for my Christmas loving significant other, the balmy weather did not melt all of our snow.  There was still plenty left over for us to make a snow man, an activity I have not partaken in for years!

Making a snow man is harder than it looks!  Snow is heavy, and molding a perfect or even presentable “ball” of snow is damn near impossible.  Alas, after a few failed lifts to give him a mid-section, a number of facial reconstructive surgeries to take him from looking like a bunny to the predator then ET, we finally sort of made a lawn ornament we can be proud of:

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Spartan pride and Detroit represented

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It is kind of hard to tell, but he is smiling

And the puppy helped of course:

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He’s so handsome!

Then, we retreated to our living room to sit by the Christmas tree and drink home-made Baileys, compliments of our dear friends. (We didn’t actually just sit by the tree, mind you. You just burned through our DVR then ended up watching Wheel of Fortune.  I know what you are thinking; we are one hot couple).

At this point in the story I need to tell you about what has been haunting me this Christmas.  A little, professionally wrapped box that was placed in my stocking.  Any girl will probably know what I am referring to when I say “a little box”. Oh yeah, that kind of box:

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Paul put this in my stocking about 2 weeks ago, and I am convinced it has been just to mess with my head.  He is NOT a Christmas engagement person; it is just not his style, but a girl (especially me) just has to wonder.

I have been bugging him since the first present went under our tree to start opening them.  I am a child, I just don’t wait well.  Finally, last night, whilst watching Wheel of Fortune, Paul says that I can open one gift.  I completely froze.  He had this ethereal, loving, can’t-live-without-you, could-never-love-anyone-more, how-are-you-mine? look on his face.  

Was this it? Was he thinking that it had been such a great night that it would be the perfect moment to propose? 

My heart started racing. Beads of sweat started to form on my nose. It was as if my parents had just caught me drinking and I was trying to hide the fact that I was drunk… Play it cool, just play it cool.

“Which one?” I ask… totally normal and level-toned I’m sure.

“The little one in your stocking.”

I sort of turned down the TV thinking, “I don’t want to be a brat about it, but are Pat Sajak and Vanna White going to be the witnesses to my engagement?”  Don’t get me wrong, I would say yes to him any where, but part of me just felt like the situation was off… or maybe it was just the heaviness of the situation.  I have never dealt with this kind of thing before.  Was this the moment that I was going to be telling people about for the rest of my life? The moment I would call all of my friends about and have to repeat over and over in the coming months? Was I about to throw up? Did I look at all calm and unsuspecting?

“Steph, it is not an engagement ring, this is not Paul’s style”… I kept reassuring myself as I took the 6 foot walk from the couch to my stocking where the little box was resting.

“I’m in pajamas… I really wanted to be in a cute outfit…. Christ that could not matter less” I can argue a lot in my head in 6 feet.

I finally pull it out and make my way back to the couch when Paul says, “I really wanted to get this for you last year, so I am so happy I can give it to you this year.”

Female over-analyze activated: What the f**k does that mean?… Just open the present you weirdo. But my hands are sort of trembling (sort of = a lot), and I still can’t really breath.  Would it be wrong to hit my inhaler real quick? As if that wouldn’t be a give away that I wasn’t completely emotionally collected.

Slowly tearing through the gold paper, I unveil a beautiful little white box with a very reassuring and fabulous little word embossed in the top of it: Pandora. All levels returned to normal, breathing again was possible. 

All was clear, all was safe; it was a beautiful Michigan State Pandora bead for me to put on my ever naked yet daily worn Pandora bracelet.

I couldn’t love it more.  Sorry, Pat and Vanna, you will not be witness to my engagement 🙂

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It’s so perfect!!!!! He wanted me to have extra Spartan pride before the Rose Bowl game.

 

P.S Congrats, Paul, you officially made me squirm and I know you loved it.

Adventures at Art Prize

Paul and I had the pleasure of heading to the west side of Michigan yesterday for a friend’s birthday party, allowing us to sneak into Grand Rapids on the way home to check out Art Prize.

I have referenced my love for Grand Rapids in previous posts, but I love the city more and more with each visit, and this time was no exception.

Art Prize is an art contest in which artists from around the world create, install, build, etc. art throughout the entire city; in restaurants, businesses, hotels, on the street, in the river, and the public vote on the winner.

This was my first Art Prize experience, and it did not disappoint. Image

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bridge color

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This guy, who was in Founder Brewing Co., was a little bit scary. Very cool at the same time because it was made entirely of natural materials like moss, sticks, etc. (except for the light up eyes).

My angle could have been better on this photo, but he is actually fishing...

My angle could have been better on this photo, but he is actually fishing…

There was an amazing Buddah fixture that looked to be made of hanging tiles

There was an amazing Buddah fixture that looked to be made of hanging tiles

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Buffalo sculpted out of wood

Buffalo sculpted out of wood

My favorite of the day

My favorite of the day

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There was also a baby panda :)

There was also a baby panda 🙂

The pandas were made out of bike tires

The pandas were made out of bike tires

I am not even sure what this was made out of. Some sort of media art, but it was beautiful.

I am not even sure what this was made out of. Some sort of media art, but it was beautiful.

The art was amazing, but it was invigorating to see the city so alive with energy.  There were people every where! Grand Rapids always has a great vibe, but adding in street vendors and performers gave it a whole new atmosphere.

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And then there is the architecture in Grand Rapids.  There are streets that, to me, feel like Chicago collided with Europe.  It really is a beautiful downtown.

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lantern and molding

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Beautiful Grand Rapids

Beautiful Grand Rapids

A Few of My Recent Adventures

Some times you are just too busy living life to document it.  A double edged sword for someone like me, but here is a quick recap of what I have been up to:

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Some beer garden action in Ann Arbor for a dear friend/aunt’s birthday. What an amazing night. The weather was beautiful, the food was amazing, and the company was second to none.

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Date night with Paul for Lansing Restaurant Week… the day after restaurant week ended…

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This is his best pose…

We were all excited to go to the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso for restaurant week, only to realize that restaurant week had ended the night before.  AMAZING food was still consumed, and I would highly recommend this charming spot if you are ever in Owosso, MI.  Although, I am not sure why most people would be.

This dinner alone should have its own post, because it really was like a  bad (or good) Seinfeld episode.  

Let me just start with, our waiter was super cool, after we broke him in, and the food was really really delicious, but the service was terrible!  We opted to sit outside on the patio, but regretted that decision because our waiter was a little too lax.  We didn’t even get greeted or get water for 15 minutes (first world problems, I realize, but this is all going to show a point).  

Our waiter offered us “coke products”, to drink and we had to snag a beer list from him (that never happens… turns out he didn’t think we were 21… thank you?). When Paul asked what was on tap, the waiter said, “it’s all crafty stuff” as if we would not recognize anything they had.  If you know anything about Paul, you probably know that he is obsessed with craft beer.  It is his hobby, his passion.  We asked for the beer list, and got it 10 minutes later.  The first world problems continued when we ordered our beers (a snifter, not a pint, the waiter asked) and it was given to us in bottles…. typing this all sounds so ridiculous, but again, I am just making a point.  Beer like the one we were drinking tastes different in a snifter (all 12% of it), and really needs to breath.  But, 10 minutes later we got our snifters.  This was all happening, mind you, while the waiter was fawning all over his buddies at the next table.

Me, being the nice person I am and not wanting to offend the waiter, told Paul that we should move inside.  We had already been there about 35 minutes and hadn’t even ordered yet (not due to us not knowing what we wanted, I assure you).

When the waiter came back, who really was a very nice guy, I told him that we wanted to move inside because I was getting cold.   He said, “oh, no problem, I can just turn on one of these heaters”, pointing to the massive propane heaters they have on the patio.  I looked to Paul for support, and he just laughed at me and kept on drinking his beer, (he loves to see me in awkward situations).  So the waiter drags this massive heater over to our table, and it won’t start.  The tank is empty.  All I could think was, “God is going to make that thing blow up to punish me”.  With no luck, the waiter picks up ANOTHER heater and drags it over to our table, which still wont light.   This goes on for a good, awkward, 5 minutes or so.  I finally just told him not to worry about it, feel free to spit in my food and thank you so so much.  (Yeah, I totally looked like that high maintenance bitch).

This finally cracked the guy and he decided he liked us.  It was almost like we had to prove ourselves as cool for him to want to serve us.  After that he was great.

And then, toward dessert, Paul decides to have a serious talk… about our aging dog.

I am not a crier, but he just said the words, “so, while things are good and he is healthy, I think we should talk about what the plan should be for when Max dies.”

I immediately bust out into sobs, tears running down my face, and I can’t even form sentences.  The poor waiter came back, who we had just gotten to like us, and looked at us like Paul had hit me or something.  It was a smart move on Paul’s part, really, because I told him what medications to feed me and what to do with Max once that does happen, because I will be incapable of taking control of the situation.

I continued to cry the whole way home… the ENTIRE 40 MINUTE DRIVE…poor Paul looked like he had just set off a bomb on a school bus full of kids or something.  My crying only stopped once we got home and I got to snuggle my puppy (my aging, 10 year-old puppy, who is in perfect health, btw).

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Puppy and me the next day, living the life 🙂

Ok, so that was that adventure…. moving on…

The next day, Paul and I headed to the Tiger’s game with my BFF, Liz, and her husband.  I am not going to lie, I don’t remember much after the ball park margaritas started flowing, but I do know that it was a very fun time, and my sweet sweet man bought me everything that was requested from my drunk mouth (a soft pretzel, nachos…) I mean, why else go to a ball park?

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This weekend, I have a half marathon coming up, a family function (pseudo family, but I have adopted them), and more adventures to follow.

I always aim for my summers to be full of adventures, but this one really has been.  I have spent time with so many great friends, made new friends, and done a lot of cool stuff.  And August is only going to be busier!

I hope everyone is well 🙂 Happy last day of July!

Vacation Recap: 2 weeks late

Hi Strangers!

It has been a busy few weeks for me, meeting new people, traveling, vacation, working out, all the good stuff 🙂  I hope everyone has been well and enjoying their summer!  Michigan sue got hot quick…. I am sweating in a few inexplicable places…

Anywho, every year, I spend a week at my favorite place in the world, the place I consider home; my cottage.  It is not actually “my” cottage, but it is where I spent nearly every summertime moment of my childhood, it was my mom’s favorite place on the planet, and is mine as well.  

So, on June 29th, I headed to the great north, which for me, looks like this: 

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Who wouldn’t go on vacation with their dog AND your cat?

Then, my trusty co-pilot stepped up to monitor the 4.5 hour drive:

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You can almost hear him saying, “hands on 10 and 2″… thanks, dad.

Once we arrived, it was pure bliss.  I burned through 4 books in about 2 days, enjoyed indescribable sunsets, ran, swam, put my brother’s girlfriend through a few nasty workouts, hiked, hung out with the puppy, watched the cat turn from a timid, scared thing into a pseudo jungle cat, met a few great people, caught up with old friends, and just enjoyed life.

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Sunset on the first night. Simply amazing!

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The New Presque Isle lighthouse

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Sunset on night #4 before we started a bonfire.

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At puppy’s favorite beach

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Where we found this in the water!!! How cool is that? Love truly is all around us 🙂

ImageOne of my mom’s best friends lives up in Presque Isle, so we try to have dinner with her once whenever we are up there.  This year, she pulled out her wedding album.  My whole family was in the wedding party, and this is probably one of my favorite family photos ever!

 

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Last sunset of the week 😦

It was just a really great time.  And the good news is; I get to go back at the end of August and finally take Paul too my favorite place ever!  I can promise more photos then 🙂

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Creeper, on the way home, just sticking her face out to meow at me.

 

I hope everyone had a very happy 4th of July!