31 July 2010

Notes on Vacation

I just got back from an extended family vacation in Marquette, Michigan. With family roots in Marquette, I've been making the trek north almost every summer since I was born. This year was the first time in about two years that both of my brothers and their families were able to make the trek from out east, plus we had many more family members in town than usual. It was so excellent to see everyone. Here's a little post about the fun I've been having...

Hello nature! Marquette has so many beautiful natural views and great nature escapes. We hiked up Sugarloaf Mountain, I ran several times along the Lake Superior shore, we swam and beached it at Lake Superior - the water was actually VERY warm. If you know anything about Lake Superior, you know this is not something that
happens frequently!

Overjoyed about the fact that I got to spend so much quality time with my baby niece who is only 7 months old. She's amazing! The entire family would sing her favorite song when she started to fuss a little. She'd perk right up and smile when we'd sing to her. So sweet! The family sing-a-long was caught on video at one point while I was holding her. I cannot wait to see that!

# # # # #

One of the best things about vacation is having unstructured/unscheduled days. There were plenty of opportunities to catch a little sun and cool breeze in the hammock or on the beach, sleep in and then stay in one's pajamas longer than you would or could on a normal day, play with my nieces and nephew. One day this week, literally, the most pressing chore of the day was getting ready to go out in public for dinner.

So many desserts, so little time. My mom makes a mean strawberry rhubarb pie. There were also a variety of brownies, including cream cheese brownies and regular. Macaroons! Other cookies. A spicy layered fruit dessert that involved pudding, whip cream and nilla wafers. A frozen pistacio dessert that my grandma used to make. And mini chocolate cupcakes. It was pretty ridiculous, definitely vacation-only type eating!

Lots of dogs. In all seven dogs. Newest dog memebers of the family include my cousin B's Vizsla and my cousin J's Jack Russell (pictured below). Makes me want a dog!

Whenever the family gathers together, Mehndi has been a family tradition ever since my sister (in-law) M joined the family. Such a great way to chill and have a bonding experience with the ladies in the family, plus you have a very cool reminder of the time together right on the palm of your hand!

I've seen Inception twice now and you should go see it if you haven't already. I loved how layered the movie is and how much discussion you can have about it afterward. Best movie I've seen in a while.

# # # # #

It's definitely better to do a longer vacation than a shorter one! Re-entry into real life is going to be a bit difficult though. I've only been home for a few hours now and I am already feeling a little bummed out about being home and knowing that it will be a while before I'll see that much of my family together again all in one place. Great times, great family! I'm so lucky!

26 July 2010


The middle school I went to sent all its 5th graders to overnight camp. It was a three day, two night (from what I remember) adventure in the wild. Well, "wild" might be a stretch, but it was an adventure!

We stayed in cabins that were rustic. We made food in tinfoil packs over a fire. We made walking salads. Want the recipe? Take one lettuce leaf, spread a smear of peanut butter, sprinkle with shredded carrots & raisins. Roll, eat and enjoy. We did some sort of course through the woods that encouraged us to use senses other than sight. I believe we did some canoeing and campfiring. I do remember that it rained and that there was a cabin called Stargazer. Other than that, the details are a little sketchy. It was a loong time ago, all right?!

My two favorite camp movies are The Parent Trap, (the Haley Mills version, of course!). I love all the scenes at the camp and the camper hijinks. And really, how can you not love the whole, "What do you mean I have a twin I never met? Our parents are both still single? We should trick them into getting back together."

and a little known movie called Indian Summer, where adults who went to camp together as kids get together for one last stay at their summer camp located near Canada's Algonquin Provincial Park. If you haven't seen this movie and you have a love for camp, you should check it out.

Did you go to camp as a kid or maybe you were even a camp counselor? Do you send your kids?

15 July 2010

Perfect Summer Afternoon

One of the fun, stylish blogs I follow, What I Wore is hosting a contest sponsored by Coach and Polyvore. Here's the gist, just create a look on Polyvore featuring Coach's new Poppy fragrance and post the link in the comments of the What I Wore contest entry. Up for grabs is the fragrance itself and a some Coach swag worth $498. It's been awhile since I've played in Polyvore, I was feeling inspired and who doesn't love a chance to win a fabulous prize. If you're feeling equally inspired, go make your own set. Contest runs through July 21, 2010. Here's my set:

10 July 2010

Sleepin' In Summer

I love my sleeping mask for weekends in the summer! If the cats were allowed in the bedroom and if I had perfect hair, this is how I'd look when I slept during the summer - minus so many blankies, unless the A/C is on. Is there anything Audrey did that wasn't glamourous?

The bedroom gets Eastern sunrise sun and lots of it, so if I ever want to sleep in past sunrise I have to don my trusty sleep mask. I was a bit dubious at first, because who actually uses those? For real? Yeah, for real, it works! I tried it out of desperation and lack of early morning sleep and have been quite happy with the sleepy results.

Sun got you rising before you want to? Try on a sleep mask and you too could be slumbering away long after day break! Just thought of you folks with kids or barky dogs, I don't think there's a mask that allows you to keep sleeping after they've been summoned from their slumber in the morning. Sorry!

07 July 2010

Today's Catch

I found a crumbled $5 spot on the floor while grabbing an iced coffee this afternoon at the company Starbucks. I gave it to the lovely barrista who knows all her regulars - figuring she'd know who had just been there before me. I'm hoping the $ gets back to its rightful owner.

# # # # #

I love the Pure Michigan ads on the radio (they're on tv and online too, but I usually only hear them) narrated by Tim Allen. They are really well written, captivating even. If you're from the mitten state you know how well they've captured the feeling of vacationing/visiting our special state. If you're not from here - check out the ads, then come visit and see what you think!

# # # # #

Procrastination. Why do you eff with me sometimes? I hate you.

# # # # #

Ever go to the car mechanic and think you're just in for something simple and then it becomes the car equivalent of The Money Pit? That didn't happen to me today, although the potential was there. Whenever the VW is close to needing an oil change, it basically yells at me until I get one. This scary oil pressure warning light comes on whenever I'm driving through loopy turns (think loopy highway exit ramps). It actually says STOP! Then the check engine light comes on. I don't stop because I know it's not the end of the world, but the first time it happened, I freaked out! I told the dude at the dealer that the light had been coming on again and he said they'd check it out. Turns out I was right, the VW is just really particular about getting its oil changed!

# # # # #

Guilty TV (hulu.com) pleasures lately - The Bachelorette and Losing it with Jillian Michaels.

# # # # #

Do you have a dermatologist? Do you visit often? I went this week for the first time in years just so she could have a look-see at my 30-something skin. What's up with a bit of what I don't want to call "age" spots? How about sun spots? Apparently, yes, my fair skin does have a bit of sun damage. Crikey! All the more reason to stick to my Arbonne lotions & potions and up the sun screen factor on my face!

# # # # #

Here's where I tell you something completely nerdy about me - I bought a new dehumidifier this weekend for the basement and it's amazing how much water it collects, seemingly out of thin (actually thick) air! Yep, I'm stoked about an appliance and it's not even one of the sexy kitchen appliances that people get excited about! The old dehumidifier had been running constantly for years and it finally lost its magical dehumidifying powers, leading to a clammy basement. This new one made the basement feel better in just a few hours. Dry basements are where its at, yo!

# # # # #

Is there anything better than going to bed early? I'm headed there now. I almost fell asleep before going to the gym tonight (way too hot to run outside tonight!) so I'm feeling the need for some extra zzzz's! I hope I get lucky and have some cool dreams. Good night!

05 July 2010

Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

I blogged a while back about wanting to try some new recipes this summer. A new, adventurous salad was on the list. I bought one of those cute mini seedless watermelons (so cute, right?) this week and decided to try making a salad with it. I had seen several different recipes involving watermelon, feta and mint. They were all slightly different, so when it came down to choosing I ended up using different elements of several recipes. I wanted to keep it simple and involve the fewest ingredients so the flavors would burst through.

Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad
1/2 mini watermelon, cubed
8 oz feta cheese
hearty bunch of fresh mint, cut into ribbons (chiffonade)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
olive oil
white pepper

Cube the water melon and place in a bowl, add the feta cheese. For the dressing, I combined probably a touch more than a 1/4 cup of balsamic, and just a bit (probably about an 1/8 of a cup) of olive oil in a bowl with several grinds of white pepper (black pepper would probably work just fine too). Once whisked together, pour the dressing over the watermelon feta mixture. Chiffonade the mint and add to bowl. Mix in most of the mint and gently combine everything and save a bit of the mint for a garnish so your dish looks pretty before serving.

Overall this is a really simple recipe to make. Chopping the watermelon was the most time consuming part of the process and it didn't really take that long. You could also use a melon baller, which may make the process of freeing the rind-locked melon go more quickly. Plus you get to call yourself a "baller" while doing it!

I took the salad to A's 4th of July gathering. (A- we had so much fun with y'all! Thanks!) I really liked how the flavors tasted altogether - absolutely love the mint- others may have not known what it was all about. It seems like it has the potential to be one of those salads you start seeing at every summer gathering since it's so easy, but I think the look and idea of the flavors has yet to catch on as a mainstream go-to pot luck staple. Give it a try if you're looking for something a little different and absolutely refreshing to do with watermelon. I just ate some as a snack and it's still delicious the day after. It does get a little juicy the day after. Just drain off some of the juice and use a slotted spoon to scoop it out of the dish. Enjoy!

04 July 2010

Happy 4th of July

Celebrate your freedom today by celebrating you - the choices you've made, the growth you've accomplished, the goals you've set and squashed and the adversity you've been strengthened by. Become truly liberated by feeling free in your own mind, free from our own negative self talk, free from past baggage, free to express yourself and be who you are meant to be. We are an integral part of this country and deserve to feel true Independence!

I'm celebrating with R and friends tonight with a barbeque and fireworks! Looking forward to it! How are you celebrating your freedom today?

01 July 2010

Food Mood

Summer is typically not the season for slaving away in the kitchen on elaborate meals. And in my case it seems that recently it's not about slaving away on any meals. I feel like I've been eating horribly and for every time I think, "I need to be eating better," there's no motivation to work up a healthy menu for the week and make the trip to the grocery store. Seriously, you'd think it involved walking across hot coals or scaling the Mackinaw Bridge the way I've been avoiding making healthy eating a priority.

They say you'll keep repeating the same crappy, self-defeating behaviors even though you try to talk yourself into better behavior, until the pain is too great not to change that crappy, self-defeating behavior.

It's time for a change, people. I'm sick of not having the energy I want. If I'm tired, I want it to be because I've just had a really good run or I've just had a heck of an active/productive day. (I could do a whole other post about how my running career is doing right now. I'll save the post and just say it's in serious need of a kick in the running shorts!) I'm sick of the hassle of getting dressed for work when there are a few items I'm avoiding because they feel pinchy and a liiittle too snug for the workplace. Ugh!

Remember that whole cleanse I did back in January/February? You'd think I did that eons ago and then suffered severe memory loss the way I've been eating. While I don't necessarily want to do another cleanse right now, I want to re-embrace some of the principals - more protein, more veggies (hello, Farmer's Market?!) fewer carbs, low to no-sugar (I don't want to stop baking, it just would mean more sharing of the baked goods!) and definitely no more sodas.

Good thing it's never too late to rededicate yourself to healthy!