Category Archives: Things to do while being unemployed

spice cookies with icing

Home for the Holidays

Happy almost New Year! I can’t believe how quickly this year went by and everything that happened from getting married, moving, my sister’s wedding, major process improvement at work and more!

I hope you all are enjoying some time with loved ones, relaxing, eating lots of cookies and generally enjoying life.

I had a lovely week at home with my parents in Maryland. I caught up with old friends, baked cookies, colored in adult coloring books, found nail polish from high school that still was good (!) and listened to my mom practice her Beatles’ songs on guitar (she just started taking lessons again after 30+ years).

What did you do? Share pics!

See you in the new year!

Marshmallow Fluff: What Happened?

As children, we often made peanut butter/marshmallow fluff sandwiches for school lunches. They were super yummy – the fluff made the peanut butter less stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth sticky and added an extra hit of sugar. We would eat it on white bread which made for a very homogeneous texture. Or sometimes we would make the sandwiches with rye….yes, I know that sounds really weird, and it was, but rye bread was our growing up bread-staple, so we didn’t mind. This was less smooshy than white bread so actually added some diversity to an otherwise big blob of softness.

I hadn’t had marshmallow fluff in years. Sometimes I would see it in the store and think, hm maybe I should get some. But since I no longer regularly eat peanut butter sandwiches and I don’t have any other reason for buying the fluff, I always restrained myself. Until recently.

We hosted an ice cream social at work, and I was in charge of getting a bunch of toppings. I went with the usual sprinkles, Magic Shell (the chocolate sauce that hardens when it hits the ice cream creating a satisfyingly crunchy shell), chocolate chips, and caramel sauce. I also grabbed a jar of marshmallow fluff for good measure.

First off, I realized that the iconic Kraft jar is no longer glass, but a hard opaque white plastic, made to look full of fluff. Okay, that’s cool I guess. But then I tasted it.

Or rather, didn’t taste it. I put a little glob on my ice cream sundae and it just blended in, not lending any distinct taste to the dish. I guess my bowl was already overwhelmed from the forty-five other toppings swirling around in there.

So I took the fluff home and figured it would be a good treat for later. Side note: while I would never say marshmallow fluff is healthy it dooooes only have 45 calories for every two tablespoons, and only 8g of sugar which is less than a lot of cereal. There isn’t any high-fructose corn syrup or partially-hydrogenated stuff in there. Just regular corn syrup, which…ehhhh….is bound to happen.

I was excited to have a sweet treat for dessert one night, so I spread some fluff on a graham cracker. All I tasted was graham cracker. A few days later, I sandwiched some fluff between two gingersnaps. And it just tasted like gingersnap. Hmfph. Is it just me, or didn’t marshmallow fluff have a distinct taste to it? Like marshmallows? It seemed like no matter what I spread it on, it didn’t have any flavor besides whatever the vehicle was to bring the fluff to my mouth.

I resorted to eating straight spoonfuls of fluff right out of the jar. It has a flavor. It just isn’t very strong. I started to question my memory. Why did I think this was so good? I mean, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t what I remember. Did they change their formula? Or is this a case of thinking something is so much better than it actually is? Like the TV shows I watched growing up that are terrible if re-watched as an adult (sorry Step-by-Step).

As a last resort, I created a half peanut butter, half fluff spoon. (FYI in case you didn’t know, a slowly savored spoonful of peanut butter is an excellent dessert. Even better if you press raisins into it.) Surprisingly, this seemed to work. Maybe it jogged the taste memory center of my brain, but the combo of the peanut butter and the marshmallow seemed to actually bring out the flavor of the marshmallow more. Hm. Still not quite the punch I remember, but getting warmer.

Now that I think about it, the other use of marshmallow sauce (runnier than fluff) was in Friendly’s Reese’s Pieces Sundaes. if you haven’t ever had one of these, you must find a Friendly’s immediately and get one. They are the best. thing. ever. But again, this is a peanut butter – marshmallow pairing. Maybe this is the key.

Well anyway, suffice it to say, I won’t be purchasing anymore marshmallow fluff for a long time. Sad, and yet it always feels good to realize that you aren’t missing out on something you thought you wanted.

photo (5)

Addendum: Oh my goodness I just realized this is called Marshmallow Creme!! Is this different?!?!? Did they change the name? What is going on!?!?! Look at this article about how Fluff was created in Boston:

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/blog/2013/09/26/where-was-fluff-invented-festival-somerville-2013/

Did we call this Kraft Marshmallow Creme “fluff” because our mom grew up with the original Fluff in Boston? Questions…..Needing answers.

I Have A Problem.

I’m turning into my mother. THAT is not the problem. The problem is that I’ve inherited her book addiction. I truly think book-addiction is a genetic condition. And it affects millions. And no one talks about it.

As kids, my sister and I would just be waaaalking down the street with our mom…and we would come across a bookstore…and we knew we wouldn’t be going home (or to the Gap) for a loooooong time. Time to settle in on the floor, or if we were lucky, in a chair (once Border’s started making it okay to stay in a bookstore for more than 10 minutes).

We got wise and would scout out bookstores along our chosen path. As we approached the store, we would start talking and walking faster, gently pushing our mother along the sidewalk, hoping she wouldn’t see the books in the window. That worked, sometimes.

Our mom even got a job at a bookstore one time – at Brentano’s – which is always funny to think about the “this book has been flagged” episode of Seinfeld….but it didn’t last too long. She was more interested in reading the books than stocking the shelves, and I’m pretty sure all of her paycheck and more went back into keeping Brentano’s afloat a few months longer than it otherwise would have.

I used to be the kind of person that would read one book through at a time. I HAD to finish one book before starting another, and only once did I ever give up in the middle of a book and not finish (Wuthering Heights: wanted to like it, but so boring; maybe I should try it again).

Somehow over time I started adding an extra book here and there – one on my Kindle, one on the bedside table (fyi the same one’s been there for like 4 years….I WILL finish it: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCollough), one next to a recliner in the living room.

Now I have at least 4 books going on the Kindle alone, not to mention all the physical books in the shelves that I haven’t yet read. My 12 year old self would have felt very overwhelmed by all this. And yet…I keep buying more books. Memoirs, essays, novels, histories, cookbooks. I’ve even somehow agreed to borrow two books from a complete stranger I met at a bar…I mean, we did talk for hours…but still.

Anyway, it makes me happy, so what. Different days call for different types of books. Sometimes within the span of the hour before bed, I’ve read one chapter in each of three different books. Sometimes I open The Greater Journey when I need to fall asleep quickly (jk it’s not that boring. but it does make me fall asleep).

Okay, here’s an abbreviated rundown.

The Valley of Amazement – Amy Tan

Bad Feminist: Essays – Roxanne Gay

Get in Trouble: Stories – Kelly Link

Think Like a Chef – Tom Colicchio

My Drunk Kitchen – Hannah Hart

Hidden History of Detroit – Amy Elliott Bragg

Also my Kindle Wish List is super full and I watch it almost everyday. If a book price drops, well then I just have to buy it, right?

Suggestions welcome.

Wine Wednesday and Halloween Crafts

I’m getting ready to embark on some Crest White Strips.  I’m prepping to forgo coffee and red wine for the foreseeable future 😦

So I figured this week I need to drink some red wine and tons of coffee to hold me over. I opened this 2009 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville CA that Mark had received as a present at some point along the way.  I used an aerator since I was only having one glass and didn’t want to pour the whole bottle into the decanter (and have learned my lesson about not doing either).

grothAt first I tasted blackberries, and then it turned to leather and tobacco.  The first glass was delicious.  I decanted the rest of the bottle the next night and had a second glass that didn’t seem as subtly wonderful as the first.  The tannins were kind of overwhelming and it had a super dry finish.  Letting it decant for another night, on the third try I found it a bit more relaxed – definitely more fruity and less leathery.  Too bad; I kinda like that smoked vibe.  It’s somehow thinner, but still dry.  I think it has a pretty hefty 14+% alcohol content.

As you know, I like to check my flavor profiles against what the producer/others have said.  While I didn’t really see any mentions of leather or tobacco, many people did note the dryness and tannins, as well as the blackberry fruit.  Maybe I’m equating the tannins with tobacco and the way a cigarette smells – dry and bitter.  A lot of people noted that this wine could use more aging and I’d agree with that assessment.

Some other fall treats? Pumpkins of course! Trying to be slightly different than my go-to jack-o-lantern carvings, I decided to play around with some old lace off of some of The Brides Project’s “fabric dresses” – dresses that are either outdated or in poor condition that we sell super cheaply to people who just want the fabric, trimmings or perhaps a Halloween costume?!?!

First I tried to tape some of the lace down in a pattern over one pumpkin and use acrylic paint over top so that when I pulled the lace away, there would be a pretty pattern.  Well that didn’t work.  The paint just got all smooshed around under the lace.  So I decided to paint the whole pumpkin white instead.  It’s a ghost pumpkin okay?!?!

ghost pumpkin 2 ghost pumpkin

For the second pumpkin, I stole an idea from a fellow Brides Project volunteer and wrapped the lace round and around the pumpkin for a “mummy” effect. She had creepy googly eyes that she pasted on peeping out from the “bandages” that looked cool. I did not have googly eyes, so I made a cute little bow on top instead.

mummy pumpkin

Finally, I’ve been trying to hold off on fall baking so as not to go cookie crazy before the wedding, but I had some extra bananas laying around, so I made these oatmeal, banana, chocolate chip cookies.

cookiesWell they’re more like dense oatmeal bars.  Literally the only ingredients are equal parts mashed banana and pulverized oatmeal, 1/2 cup of chocolate chip cookies and a dash of vanilla extract (that could definitely be skipped).  Since there’s not really added sugar besides the chocolate, I feel completely comfortable eating these for breakfast with my coffee.  I mean, no more coffee…darn it!!  Maybe I’ll start the White Strips in a few weeks instead….

Wine Tasting Wednesday and Tasty Treats

I’m totally late to the party on this one: Espiral Vinho Verde.  It’s been written about on so many blogs and my friend, The WineGetter, has been talking it up ever since the thermometer got above 60.  So finally, I purchased a bottle to try.  It’s $4.49 at Trader Joe’s. Well that’s why I haven’t ever tried it!  I still have a hard time believing you can buy alcohol at Trader Joe’s and supermarkets and that you don’t have to go to the wine store.  Also, I never go to Trader Joe’s because I feel like I just end up buying sugary snacks masquerading as health food.

So anyway, onto the wine.
vinho verdeIt was delicious!  It’s hard to go wrong with vinho verde I think in general.  It’s so light and refreshing, and sometimes, like this one, has a hint of effervescence such that it’s sort of like a wine spritzer.  At 9% ABV it’s not super strongly alcoholic, and it drinks crisply without an aftertaste.  Vinho verde, from Portugal, literally means green wine, and I think that’s an appropriate name for this bottle since it reminded me of tart green apples.  Vinho verde can be made from a blend of up to six grapes, but I couldn’t find out if Espiral was made from all six or just certain ones.  Does anyone know?

I highly recommend picking up a bottle if the Trader Joe’s near you sells alcohol.

Okay, on to some other treats.  It’s been a while since I’ve done any baking or dessert making, so I decided to do some of each this past week.  I made chicken ‘n’ biscuits and strawberry shortcake ice cream bars a la summertime ice cream truck (Good Humor?)…

The biscuits are super easy; my go-to recipe is here.  It doesn’t specify, so I use salted butter because I think it adds more flavor than unsalted butter which can be a bit bland…and I would end up slathering salted butter on them anyway once they’re ready.
chicken&biscuit2I did Shake ‘n’ Bake chicken breasts (Mark likes the SnB…I think it’s okay…I’d never had it until he persuaded me to buy a box a few months ago).  We did different toppings like ketchup, pickles, hot sauce, pickled jalapenos and banana peppers.  chicken&biscuit3
chicken&biscuit 1(These biscuits are also great for breakfast with butter…and maybe some honey? or maple syrup?)

The strawberry bar recipe was from The Chew on ABC here.  I skipped the corn starch because I didn’t feel like buying corn starch just for the two teaspoons it called for.
shortcake
In tasting just the crumbly topping mix I wasn’t sure I was sold on the flavor matching that of those ice cream truck bars.  But once layered on the vanilla ice cream and strawberry sorbet, it really came together flavor-wise!

Everything was so delicious  – especially the biscuits right out of the oven.  It’s great what you can do with some flour and butter and not much else.

Next up: I’m going to try to recreate those crunchy chocolate bits in Carvel ice cream cake. If anyone else has other fun foods they want me to try to make, just comment here!

How I Became A Meathead For A Hot Sec

Hm, where to begin? Maybe with joining the gym in January (how cliché). Or before that, going through fits and spurts of gym-going/at home workouts/regular yoga class attendance. Or taking it back even further, to five days a week of tennis, soccer or badminton depending on the season. All of which is to say that I’ve always been kind of athletic but never really hardcore physically fit.

I wanted to die when we’d roll up to elementary school gym class and the “sMILE” sign was on the door, indicating that it was time for our twice yearly timed mile run around the field. I was definitely never even close to the fastest, but I was never the slowest either (maybe like, the third slowest). It’s weird to think that somehow I’m more physically fit now than I was in elementary school, when the majority of the day is spent running around…I can pretty much run three miles without clutching my sides (although still not quickly)…and through yoga I can actually easily touch my toes. I remember when the pediatrician would scold me for not stretching daily, because I apparently had super tight hamstrings as a child and could not touch my toes or even come close.

But at the same time, it’s sad to think that I’ve probably reached my physically-fit pinnacle in life and now it’s just a matter of not spiraling quickly into destitution. I yearn for the days of daily two hour tennis practice, followed by weekends filled with pints of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream and popcorn. Those were the days…sigh…before eating delicious delicious junk food didn’t make an impact on my weight or mood; before the freshman twelve (in my case) and before it was even a thought to weigh myself. I’m not sure if it was great kid metabolism or the daily exercise (although, if I’m being really honest, much of those two hour tennis practices was spent chatting over the net or working on our “waffle tan” – aka when you put your racquet over your leg to see if you can get a nifty criss-cross patterned tan), but I can’t recall that trying to be “in shape” was ever a serious concern. Plus, I had for some reason bought REALLY large uniform skirts in 6th grade and continued to roll the the waist all the way through 12th grade. You’re welcome, parents, for not having to buy me new uniforms for six years! And thank you, single-sex education involving lots of “body image” convocations (that’s what we called assemblies), for, I think, making me fairly immune to any pressures to be extra thin. I still vividly remember watching a slide show of magazine ads, as the teacher pointed out where the model had been airbrushed, where her thigh had been sliced in half to look skinny, how that was really not her arm but someone else’s arm coming into the shot from a flattering angle, and how that shampoo bottle was strategically placed to come just below her chin so that it subconsciously reminded you of something more phallic – so sneaky these advertisers – I’m looking at you Herbal Essences!

But, getting back to the point, just because you are thin, does NOT mean you are in shape. Oh goodness, no.

So when I started working out at the gym more regularly, it was definitely slow going at first – 20 minutes of cardio here, a yoga class there. In the fall, back in Baltimore, I had worked out with my dad and his trainer. It was an incredibly hard hour, and the next day every muscle in my entire body hurt and I could barely move. However, one of the lovely benefits of not having a full time job, is that there is ample time to hit the gym. Before long, I had worked up to an hour of cardio, some weight-lifting, and even teaching two weekly yoga classes. When I went back home in the spring and worked out again with my dad and his trainer the hour was still ridiculously hard, but the next day only my quads were stiff.

I’ve never ever EVER been able to do a pull-up, but now that I’ve discovered the assisted pull-up machine, it feels amazing to know that I was adding 70 pounds back in December (in other words I was only pulling up my weight minus 70 pounds), and now I’m only adding 55 (or only 40 for a few reps on a good day). I’m happy with small improvements, and I know that if I can’t do as much one day as the last, that’s okay because everyday is different.

But then somewhere along the line, it all started going downhill. I had reached some sort of physical maximum, and then, as predicted by older friends, things started falling apart. First I tweaked a groin muscle; then I stretched in what I thought was a normal manner but ended up freezing my neck for a week; then in the biggest catastrophe to date, I was teaching yoga a few weeks ago when a searing pain pierced the bottom of my foot between my toes in some muscle I wasn’t aware of…or maybe a tendon…or maybe some sort of nerve thing. Anyway, it only really hurts when I push the toes back and put weight on it – like in lunge – which is kind of an essential pose when teaching yoga. Hmph. Stupid aging process.

It’s crazy how quickly you lose things if you don’t use them. For instance, if I don’t lift weights for a week, I’m surely not able to do the same weight when I go back to it. In yoga, if you don’t do it regularly, you’re probably not going to be able to balance on one foot, touch your toes or backbend as deeply. It pains me when I see people go farther than they should because they think they can. I just want to scream: stop that – ease up – work up to it! Remember how easy it was as a kid to do a handstand or a cartwheel? Now I can barely do a handstand at the wall because it’s scary to be upside down! And actually, come to think of it, I may have pulled that groin muscle “doing” a cartwheel. This is me: not taking my own advice.

And so that’s the story of my rise and fall from very brief meat-head-dom. One day you haven’t set foot in a gym in God-knows-how-long, the next, you’re there hours on end every. single. day. And then just as quickly, you randomly hurt your foot doing some unidentified mundane activity, and then you’re relegated to the stationary bike (where you can really just use the other foot) and some upper body strengthening exercises.

C’est la vie. Like I said, I was never that hardcore to begin with.

Happy Belated Flag Day!

June 14th, 2013.  I can’t believe it.  It’s already been a complete year, 365 days, since I quit my job and wrote my first blog post!  Time has seriously flown by.  I still feel like a newbie to this unemployment (or part-time employment) game.

Okay, so just to recap:

I quit my banking job and started a blog.

I got engaged and moved halfway across the country.

I went to Northern and Western Michigan, Texas (twice), Chicago (twice), Baltimore (numerous times), New York (at least twice), San Francisco & Napa Valley, Paris, Mexico and Jamaica.

I got two very involved volunteer jobs as a sorority advisor and Cancer Support Community fundraiser.

I got two less involved real (aka paying…although very little) jobs as a yoga teacher and writer for Detroit.Eater.com.

I baked, read and generally hibernated away the coldest, snowiest winter.

And I planned (and am still planning) this wedding.

Somehow that seems like a lot but not really anything either.

Time is flying by at a scarily fast pace but I’m also anxious for certain things to hurry up and get here.

I feel incredibly busy everyday but I also feel like the things that are keeping me busy are things that I would’ve done in my old life squeezed around time at a 9-5+ job.  So what am I doing with myself?  And why am I still thinking about myself in relation to a job when intellectually I know that we are not (or should not be) defined by our professions.  I wrote “writer” on my immigration form entering Jamaica.  It was weird not to write “banker” and I had a moment of hesitation like someone would call me out on not really being a writer.  Like, who defines these jobs: writer, artist, singer…is it just what you think you are?  Or should you be getting paid?  Not that it matters on an immigration form.  Those people don’t care.  So long as you don’t write “terrorist” I guess.

Well thank you WordPress for that Happy Anniversary note.

I Swear I’m Not a Blog Slacker! (Read about this wine tasting instead…)

I’m really not trying to be MIA on the blog, but I was in PARIS last week – yippeeeee!!!  It was so much fun, it will definitely have to take up one or more posts in the coming weeks.  The more pertinent problem is that when I updated my iPhone operating system to 7, it was no longer compatible with this old MacBook I’m rocking.  Which meant that I am either emailing myself photos off the phone, or downloading them to our PC, putting them on a zip drive and then downloading them onto the Mac.  Which makes me feel overwhelmed, and then I procrastinate.  Ugh.

But not to fear, I have an appointment with the Geek Squad at Best Buy tomorrow to update this Mac’s operating system, mainly so I can easily download my phone pics once again.  So today will be spent backing up…fun times 🙂

To entertain you until I can find time to download the mass quantities of photos from the trip (and some other local outings), please go over to my friend TheWineGetter’s blog to read about a wine tasting he held that I attended a few weeks ago.  We sipped Chardonnays, Gewuerztraminers and Rieslings from the Finger Lakes region of NY.  TheWineGetter is often invited to participate in these Twitter wine tastings, and so in doing, various wineries or marketing regions (as in the case of the Finger Lakes) ask him to taste a bunch of wines so that he can comment during the live online chat.

wine

Some friends gathered at his apartment with cheese, meats and breads to sit around and discuss wine prior to 9, when he had to jump onto Twitter to chat.  He hasn’t (yet?) posted his thoughts on the wines, but he did post some pre-tasting interesting info on the Finger Lakes region, etc.

The wines were all quite unique, and I had a blast sharing ideas with people who have a keen appreciation for wine and its subtleties – I really learned a lot – which you know I always appreciate!

Okay, so apologies for not a lot a personal content….but off to TheWineGetter!

Wine Tasting Wednesday: California Bottles

Mark and I brought home about 12 bottles of wine from our Napa Valley trip in October.  Since we don’t drink wine on a daily basis or a lot at one time, we do a lot of skipping around and trying new things rather than sticking to one excellent grape/vineyard/region (although see my post on pinot noir which also factors in my love of pinot grigio).  So we ended up with a 12 bottle hodge podge of things we tried an liked on the vacation.

Some of these bottles will need some aging, but there were a few that I felt comfortable opening sooner rather than later, knowing I might be foregoing better tastes ahead.  Two of these were Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc (2009) and Sofia Rose by Francis Ford Coppola (2012):  (Side note: I don’t know how to do accents on this Mac, so forgive my spelling of Rose, which is actually pronounced rose-ay.)

IMG_2211

sofia 1

sofia 2

1. Chimney Rock – Elevage Blanc, Napa Valley, 2009 (Estate Grown): This white blend is 59% Sauvignon Blanc and 41% Sauvignon Gris and is quite smooth.  My initial smells were of honeysuckle and grapefruit and the taste was of vanilla and pear with a citrusy kick at the end.  Chimney Rock is a Terlato Wine and this is where I first saw Anthony Terlato’s book Taste that I subsequently read on the Kindle (where it was much cheaper).

2. Francis Ford Coppola – Sofia Rose, Monterey County, 2012:  This rose is 55% Syrah, 35% Pinot Noir and 10% Grenache (one of my favorite grapes that goes into Cotes de Provence Rose).  I smelled bright crisp florals that reminded me of Napa mornings’ aroma. I got some tangerine notes that turned to strawberry.  The taste was crisp, not sweet, like juicy green apples with honey, giving a little acidity in the back of the mouth.

I wrote down my impressions upon tasting, and then, per usual, fact checked myself against internet descriptions.  I’m pretty proud of what I tasted and smelled in the Rose as compared to the Winemaker’s Notes on wine.com:  “Our 2012 Sofia Rose bestows a beautiful nose of strawberries, cherries, and orange blossom. Perfectly balanced with a zesty acidity and just the right amount of body, this year’s rose highlights bright, juicy fruit impressions of pomegranate, strawberries, kumquats, tea leaves and spice.” [Check on the strawberries, floral, tangerine/citrus]

As for the Elevage Blanc, I was in the ballpark.  According to community reviews on cellartracker.com:  “Pears on the nose, spicy and acidic on the palate with grapefruit/citrus notes. Long finish.”  And: “white wine for red wine lovers” which is the perfect description because I chose to drink this white in the winter because I thought it could taste a little heavy – a great white wine for cooler temps!  [Check on the pear, grapefruit]

I would definitely drink the Elevage Blanc again because it’s interesting and quite a different type of white wine.  It would go nicely with winter comfort food like light stews or tomato-y pasta dishes (I wouldn’t do it with creamy dishes).

And while I wouldn’t turn down a bottle of the Sofia Rose, it was a standardly delicious rose – nothing earth shattering.  I can’t wait for a little more springtime to spring so we can get into the real heart of rose season – the best time of year!!

Ann Arbor Bucket List

Since I’m trying to get out and take better advantage of all that Ann Arbor and Michigan have to offer, I figured the best way to organize my adventures was to make a list.  Looooove lists.  And schedules.  And maps.  Okay, digressing.

In this post, I’m going to offer up the Michigan bucket list.  Restaurants, museums, cultural activities, outdoor adventures, etc.  I’m going to link back to any posts I may have written about these items, and check off anything that’s already been accomplished with an asterisk (*).  Please note that sometimes more than one of these items are discussed in the same post.  Going forward, as I write posts, I will reference back to the list and hopefully link accordingly and appropriately.  I see lots of linking and circular references in my future.

PLEASE OFFER SUGGESTIONS of things to do/see/eat that I can add!

Okay, here it goes, in hopefully some particular order:

Places to Visit in the State of Michigan:

1. Upper Peninsula

*2. Sleeping Bear Dunes

3. Mackinac Island

4. Frankenmuth

*5. Grand Haven

Cultural Activities in and around Ann Arbor/Detroit:

6. Belle Isle Conservancy and Aquarium

*7. North American International Auto Show – Detroit

*8. Dexter Cider Mill

*9. University of Michigan Museum of Art

*10. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

11. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

*12. Concert at The Ark

*13. Movie at State Theatre

14. Movie at Michigan Theater

15. Concert at Hill Auditorium

16. Broad Art Museum (at Michigan State)

17. The Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art

*18. Ford Presidential Library

*19. The Henry Ford (Museum)

20. Greenfield Village

Sporting Events:

*21. Detroit Lions Football

22. Detroit Tigers Baseball

23. Detroit Red Wings Hockey

*24. UMich Football

*25. UMich Wrestling

26. UMich Hockey

*27. UMich Basketball

*28. UMich Gymnastics

Outdoor Activities:

*29. Kayaking

30. Botanical Gardens

*31. Kerrytown Farmers’ Market/Artisan Market

*32. Nature Walks

Food & Drink Related:

*33. Zingerman’s (deli)

34. Zingerman’s Roadhouse (bbq)

*35. Lab (coffee and pastries)

*36. (Espresso) Bar

*37. Sweetwater’s (coffee)

*38. Sava’s

*39. Isalita

*40. Aventura

*41. Bigalora

*42. Logan

*43. Lena

*44. Vinology

45. Cafe Felix

46. Gratzi

*47. Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery

*48. Slows Bar-B-Q (Detroit)

49. Traffic Jam & Snug (Detroit)

50. Mexicantown (area of Detroit)

*51. Liberty Street Brewing (Plymouth)

*52. Cliff Bell’s (Detroit)

53. Guns and Butter (Detroit)

54. Two James Distillery (Detroit) – Can someone please weigh in on this?  This is the first Detroit distillery since prohibition (and I think currently the only) and they have a club called the Corktown 500 for which you apply (capped at 50 people), get exclusive tours and discounts, and if you are a member you can go to a weekend WHISKEY MAKING CAMP!!!!  This sounds totally up my alley of learning new skills and interesting experiences.  Problem: to join the club it is $2,000!!! Ahhhh so expensive!  Worth it?!?!?!  Anyone think yes?  Anyone want to subsidize me?  🙂

55. Eastern Market (Detroit)

*56. The Lunch Room

*57. Vellum

*58. Pacific Rim

59. Try “Detroit-style” pizza – I had no idea Detroit had its own pizza style, which is square, and according to Wikipedia: “The square shaped pizza is the result of being baked in a square pan, which is often not a pizza pan.  Rather, industrial parts trays are often used, which were originally made to hold small parts in factories.”  Crazy!  It sounds like the anti-health food, as Wiki goes on to say: “The crust of a Detroit-style pizza is noteworthy because in addition to occasionally being twice-baked, it is usually baked in a well-oiled pan to a chewy medium-well-done state that gives the bottom and edges of the crust a fried/crunchy texture.”

60. Try a Coney Island hot dog (aka Coney Dog)

Other Areas of Southeastern Michigan:

61. Corktown (Detroit)

62. Heidelberg Project (Detroit)

*63. Royal Oak – Got a “butterbeer latte” at a local coffee shop that I found on Yelp called Bean and Leaf.  It was super sweet and delicious with some toffee/butterscotch flavor, however I was confused and dismayed by the coffee sleeve that read Zingerman’s Coffee…it’s everywhere…I don’t actually feel like I’m trying something new when they have such a monopoly on the coffee/bread/sweet treat market all across Southeastern MI.

*64. Troy – To be honest, when I wrote Troy, I meant the mall.  LOL.  The Somerset Collection mall in Troy is akin to Tysons Corner in VA.  There are actually 2 malls connected by a sky bridge: one with Saks, Neiman, Burberry and other posh stores (only one salesperson even approached me in Saks because I clearly was looking more bum-like than the regular ladies who lunch set and I was even wearing jeans and not yoga pants – in other words, stepping it up!); the other mall has Nordstrom (yay for a Nordy fix) and all the other regular stores you would expect in a mall.

Misc:

65. Take a ride on the Detroit People Mover

*66. Literati Book Store

Okay, I think that’s a pretty exhaustive list at this point.  Ann Arbor friends: what am I missing?!??!