31 August 2010

The Wilderness Downtown

I love me some Arcade Fire. I don't know if you've noticed, but beginning a few days ago they've kind of taken over the interwebs. I seen many people tweet about how cool this new video of theirs is. Of all places, it showed up as an ad in my google reader today (see, taking over!) and I finally had a few minutes to take it in.

Now that I did, I'm here to tell you how cool it is. Interactive video like I couldn't have imagined, but I wish I had! So clever and arty and that's precisely why I love Arcade Fire. So, if you have a few minutes and want to be wowed by an interactive visual/musical work of art, go here to dig in!

30 August 2010

Pistachio Dessert Delicious-ness

My Grandma G used to make this super yummy frozen pistachio dessert when I was younger. The cool and creamy frozen-ness was an awesome summer dessert. Guess what? It still is! My mom resurrected the recipe earlier this summer when the family gathered and I decided to give it a whirl for a gathering with my oldest girlfriends in life this weekend. I needed a dessert that could serve a big group and would appeal to adults and some wee ones. Would have loved to get a better image of one slice, but I wasn't able to snap any before everyone dug in! The pic below is of the last piece left!

Be prepared...
Grandma G's Pistachio Dessert

Ritz Cracker Crust:
2 sleeves Ritz crackers crushed (I used the food processor)
1 1/4 stick of butter (melted)

Pistachio Layer:
2 boxes instant pistachio pudding
1 1/2 cup milk (I used Silk and it worked great!)
1 quart vanilla ice cream

Large container Cool Whip
1-2 Butterfingers (crushed)

Mix together the crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter. Pour into a 9"x13" pan, pat down to form an even layer. Bake at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Mix pudding mix and milt together until thick. Add softened ice cream, gently mix together. Spread over cooled cracker crust. Cover and put in the freezer, at least 3-4 hours until solid. Spread Cool Whip over entire mixture. Sprinkle with crushed Butterfinger. Freeze again for at least an hour. Thaw a bit before cutting and serving.

...this is what it will look like at the end of the night! It goes fast!

26 August 2010

Prayer Flags

These Tibetan Prayer Flags make me happy!! Thanks, R.

"Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to 'gods,' a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all." --Wikipedia

25 August 2010

Random. Style. Bits.

Today is Shiny Pants Day - shiny pink pants, to be exact. That just made me think of the band named Shiny Toy Guns. These pants are a little killer. *raises finger guns* Pew. Pew. Pew.

Gap pink shiny cropped pants, back of my closet. Gap black scoop neck top, courtesy Loveball. Black patent stretch belt, TJ Maxx years ago.

I managed to take a few outfit pics - I love all the bloggers who do this on the regular. Taking outfit shots is harder than I imagined (The shoulders down shot was intentional though. As Pee Wee Herman would say, I meant to do that!), so props to all the outfit bloggers! I don't wear these pants nearly enough (I also have the same pair in gray, which I tend to wear more often). I've been trying to shop my closet lately. My friend Loveball has made that concept even more fun this week. She gave me a handful of tops she no longer wore after I helped her pull together a few interview outfits earlier this week. Thanks, Loveball!! I love playing stylist and wish I had more opportunities to put my style skills to use for the betterment of other's wardrobes. Holla at me if you want some more mileage from your own closet!

A.Giannetti black and white pony hair mules in giraffe print with pink suede trim.
(I've had these forever, so long I don't think this brand even exists anymore. Made in Italy though!)

A close up on a few accessories from today. Diesel sunnies. Swatch watch, from my l'il bro and S.I.L. a while back. Necklace, from my mom forever ago.

15 August 2010

Weekend Bits

Another summer weekend has come and gone. They go by way too quickly. I had a pretty quiet weekend, but here are a few quick stories:

Saturday, my girl A and I ran the Fallasburg Park Half Marathon for the second year in a row. It's a super small race and we love it. I almost hate to write about how cool it is for fear that more people will enter next year (not like I've got a huge readership!), I'd hate for it to lose its quaint nature. This year definitely had more runners than last year and we were partially responsible. A few of the guys we've been doing long runs with here and there decided to run it.

They say not to expect to set a personal record on the course and after running it once you know why. This year the race was probably 70% trail and 30% road, compared to about 40% trail last year. It was unbelievably hard, but so much fun. Did you ever play in the woods when you were little? Trail running feels like being a kid again. There were a ton of hills, even in the woods. We were all over the place from an elevation stand point. Up and down and then back up again. There were a few points in the trail that had "Geronimo" signs warning you to slow down because the drop was so steep.

I ran with my little Amphipod water carrier and was really happy about that in the end as the aid stations were sparse. I'd just fill up and go. I was also so glad that I carried Gu with me. I used all three. My final was near the 12 mile mark, when it basically felt like I had no more gas left to propel me forward and my legs felt super heavy. Gu did help, but I still walked the final steep hill just before the finish. Everybody that was coming in near me did! It felt great to finish! I was covered with dirt and sweaty salt. I so earned my shower and the celebratory pancakes that followed.


I went to see "Eat. Pray. Love." this afternoon. Just so y'all know, I read the book sometime last year and loved it. As someone who can feel a bit adrift at times, it spoke to me. Now that we have that out of the way, as with most book to movie adaptations, the book was way better, but I enjoyed getting out of the house and out of my own head for a bit to see the movie version. Julia Roberts was a bit distracting at times, but overall, I enjoyed the movie. It made me want to re-read the book. And to travel. What a surprise!


Unless it's pancakes, chocolate or iced coffee I'm so not into food right now. Does this ever happen to you? I'm eating, so it's not an appetite thing. It's more of a "I don't want to cook anything, or be creative about food at all, nor do I want to be eating out every meal" thing. I've been snacking though on graham crackers smeared with peanut butter and then covered in melted chocolate. I pop the whole thing in the freezer until the chocolate and peanut butter hardens a bit. A delish and simple treat when you're craving a sweet.


If you live in Grand Rapids, you know we just got new recycling bins. If you don't, they're on wheels and have a lid, much like a conventional trash container you'd put on the curb. The new recycling containers are so much bigger than what we've been using, that I was reluctant to even use this new one, thinking I'd have to remodel the house to actually fit it into the garage. I kind of threw a minor fit when it became apparent that, indeed, none of the other neighbors were going to take the container left on the curb in front of the house and I had to claim it. I cleaned out the garage a bit today and figured out a way it can fit, making it accessible without having to go outside. It may sound a bit ridiculous, but this was a big deal! Single-stream recycling should be easier, not more difficult! It all worked out. Everything is going to be just fine. Seriously, I just devoted a paragraph to a recycling container? Wow!

14 August 2010


One of the kitties, Junior, has Feline Asthma. The coughing and wheezing is sporadic, but it has been enough recently to warrant two trips to the vet. The first was several months ago and it involved a two week course of meds. Then no wheezing for a few months. The wheezing returned like a bad penny this week. The vet trip this week involved a chest x-ray to find out exactly what's going on in his kitty lungs.


(R was brilliant for thinking to take a pic of the x-ray!)

Turns he has congestion within his bronchi - on the x-ray it looks like tiny doughnuts - the vet even called them doughnuts when she was pointing them out on the x-ray. The vet prescribed prednisone. Sounds like one of the side effects is wild hunger and thirst. He's got doughnut lungs and is going to want to eat mass quantities of doughnuts! D'oh! I'm just glad we finally know what's going on with him and it's something that can be treated.

Feel better Junior! And keep being a champ about taking your medicine.

13 August 2010

Line Jumper

I don't normally get creased over people's rude and/or oblivious line etiquette, but this week a trip to my local ice cream shop to meet up with some friends could have turned ugly. Understand the line at this place is usually out the door and it was a hot night, so a good place in line is coveted. I got there a few minutes after my friends and got in the shorter-than-usual line by myself. All of a sudden a lady and a couple kids under seven or so just make themselves comfortable in front of me. Yeah. Don't mind me, I'm not even standing here. I was in a mood to begin with and didn't want to be a jerk, so I didn't say anything, thinking she'd realize she and the kids had hopped the line and make things right by getting behind me.

Not. A. Chance.

And to make matters worse she was all space cadet about moving up in the line. For real? As a human in the United States you've probably been standing in one line or another since you could stand and you're basically acting like this is your very first time in a line or are so filled with entitlement that you have no concept of what lines are even for. Come on! Her only saving grace is that the line was shorter than normal and there was ice cream involved.

Otherwise...yeah, I wasn't going to go all Christian Bale berserk on her, but wanted to. What I would have done was to politely say, "excuse me, but I believe I was here first." She would have looked at me like I was the crazy, insane person for committing the unheard of act of speaking up kindly for what's right and what rightly yours. Whatever.

The Deer Traxx in a sugar cone helped smooth things over.

Do you speak up when someone line jumps? What have you said? Do people usually yield?

09 August 2010

Where I'm From

One of my favorite blogs, Yes and Yes, recently posted an ode to the Twin Cities, her hometown, and asked the question, "What do you love about your hometown?" I've done stints in Ann Arbor and New York City, but I've lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan longer than anywhere else in my adult life. You know what, it's pretty cool and getting cooler every day. Here are some reasons why I love Grand Rapids, it's Where I'm From:

Wednesday Evening Bike Rides. Riders of fixies, mountain bikes, regular road bikes or cruisers are all welcome to join up with fellow bikers on most Wednesday evenings for a ride around our fair city. It's an awesome feeling to ride on a warm summer evening with 100 or so other bikers. It's also a great way to meet new friends, see some sights and get some exercise.

Wednesday Evening Bikers Gather

ArtPrize. I wasn't sure what to expect last year when the world's large$t (the top prize in 2009 was $250,000 and it went to Brooklyn painter Ran Ortner for Open Water no.24) art competition determined by public vote was announced. What ensued though, was an amazing event that literally had art blooming all over Grand Rapids, discussions about art amongst friends and strangers, and this truly infectious, captivatingly cool vibe swirling about. I can't wait for ArtPrize 2010, which begins September 22, 2010 and runs through October 10, 2010.

New Century Dance Company, ArtPrize Award Ceremony Performers

"Nessie on the Grand", Top 10 Finisher

"Salt & Earth" Installation by Young Kim, winner of UICA Curator's Choice Award

Ample opportunities to get physical. Biking? Check. Hiking? Check. Running? Check. Grand Rapids is home to the country's largest 25k road race and a host of other races throughout the year. Sailing? Check. Whether you want to sail a small boat on a lake in the city or go big, Lake Michigan is just over 30 miles away. Rowing? Check. Rugby? Check. Roller Derby? Check. Dancing en masse outside to Electronic Music? Check. The Y? Check. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Hiking at Townsend Park (one of my favorites!)

Dancing Crowd at 2009 Grand Rapids Electronic Music Night (I was out of town for 2010 GREMN!)

Farmers Market. Saturday mornings in Grand Rapids mean a trip to Fulton Street Farmers Market. Grab a cup of coffee, some cash and your market bag or basket to scoop up all the locally grown fruit, veggies and other assorted goods you can handle in a market where you're just as likely to run into an old friend, (if you're from here) as you are to make a new one.

Affordable Housing. According to a May 2010 study by the National Association of Home Builders, Grand Rapids ranks near the top of the list of the most affordable major metro housing markets. I'm well into my mortgage and am paying less per month than I would if I tried to rent a home of similar size near my neighborhood.

Balance. This town has more churches than the average town, yet we are also the proud home to a troupe of performers called Super Happy Fun Time Burlesque. How's that for balance? Kent County traditionally votes red, but Grand Rapids itself tends to elect Democrats. Everyone can do their own thing and some how for the most part it all works out for good.

If you're also proud to call Grand Rapids your home, what do you love about it? If you're living somewhere else, tell me about how cool your city is!

03 August 2010

Lovin' the Quinoa

I recently spent some quality time with my family on vacation. Besides catching up with everyone, one of my favorite things is getting food inspiration. Everyone in my family loves to eat, cook and share recipes. I was born into the right family! My brother D and his wife U are into quinoa. U made a yummy quinoa salad while we were all together (must get that recipe!). It inspired me to find a recipe so I could try it out on my own.

I dug into my cookbooks and found a Black Bean Quinoa Salad in My Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites cookbook that combined many of the ingredients I already love with tasty and nutritious quinoa. Done deal. I changed the recipe a bit based on what I had in the kitchen, to simplify the preparation and to suit my taste, so here's my version:

Black Bean Quinoa Salad
1/3 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 tsp. veg or olive oil
juice from one fresh lime
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
handful finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tblsp. finely chopped onion
1 -15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10 oz. can diced tomato with jalapeno (drained)
3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced (in total you want about 2 cups of tomato whether you use one can and fresh. If you use all fresh tomatoes, add some hot pepper of your choice for a little heat.)
1 diced red pepper
salt & pepper to taste

lime wedges

Rinse the quinoa well under cool running water - I had to use a bowl and just drain the water out several times since the dry quinoa would have gone right through my sieve! In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa, cover and simmer on low heat until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Combine black beans, tomatoes, peppers, onion and cooled quinoa in a medium to large bowl. Combine the oil, lime juice, cumin and cilantro in a smaller bowl, whisk together and pour over salad mixture. Combine thoroughly, add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with lime wedges. Serves 4. Enjoy!

If you have a favorite quinoa recipe, please tell me about it. I'd love to try it out!