Kiss me, I’m 9% Irish

St. Patrick's Day

I’ve always been fascinated with ancestry and I was thrilled to take the AncestryDNA test this last year and learn that I am officially 9% Irish myself. My third great grandmother, Jane Catherwood, was born in Derry, Cavan, Ireland and her family was from Northern Ireland. So, on this St. Patrick’s Day, I am of course wearing green and I will raise a glass and say “Sláinte” for my family and friends. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

have a Guinness

by Valerie | 03.17.17 | For Funsies, Holidaze | No Comments »

sunshine and bubbles

Untitled

We enjoyed a cold, but sunny afternoon in downtown A2 on Saturday – before heading home, we stopped by the heated tent on the patio of The Beer Grotto; watching the bubbles rise in our sunshine-lit glasses underneath the outdoor heater was a most relaxing way to spend a cold Saturday. Look at the bubbles…you’re getting very sleepy… Speaking of getting sleepy, my body still thinks it’s an hour earlier after the time change which made our lack of blue skies here today (we’re expecting several inches of snow and it’s been snowing all morning) even tougher to brave. I’m looking forward to more sunshine and bubbles in my future; that and if only I could always enter a room like this!

#annarbor

by Valerie | 03.13.17 | Around town, For Funsies | No Comments »

pączki and weird weather

Happy Pączki Day

Last week we celebrated Pączki Day, enjoyed tasting our homemade bitters (which we bottled) in some delicious cocktails, played a new (to us) board game with friends – Acquire, I met a sweet dog at a local flower shop, made it to a movie at the theater, and we had breakfast at one of our favorite spots in town on Sunday. What’s up with this weird weather though?

We’ve had such odd winter weather this year in Michigan (record highs) and I think this cartoon sums it up pretty well; it was 57 with thunderstorms last Tuesday and 28 and snowing last Friday, for example. I don’t want to complain about the mild weather we’ve had, but it has definitely been abnormal. And here we are in March already with daylight saving time beginning this coming Sunday. I’m hoping it doesn’t get too cold again as the plants are confused; the trees are budding and the spring bulbs have already started to sprout up from ground. The late winter/early spring flowers are beautiful (crocus, snowdrops, etc.), they’re so dainty and delicate – a welcome sign of spring, and I’ve already seen robins darting around the yard; it’s always exciting to see the seasons begin to change!

maple walnut rye fashioned (with homemade walnut bitters) #cocktail

met this sweetheart @universityflowershop - Leo

Nick's Original House of Pancakes

by Valerie | 03.06.17 | Around town, For Funsies | No Comments »

Virgin Wood Type, Rochester, & Niagara Falls

Flower City Arts Center #woodtype

We had a fun, long weekend in Rochester and Niagara Falls, NY! We made the trip as Ryan had scheduled a meeting with the wonderful folks at Virgin Wood Type in Rochester; they were all so kind, amazingly talented people, and they took the time to show us around their home/studio, the Flower City Arts Center (where you will find a very impressive collection of wood type!), as well as a visit to the man who manufactures their wood blocks too. I have such respect for the work they all do, the amount of time, effort, and care that goes into every single piece of finished product from them is amazing; just take a look at this, for example…wow!

While we were in Rochester, we also visited the George Eastman Museum, Ontario Beach Park/Lake Ontario, and enjoyed dining and drinks at La Casa, Genesee, Glen Edith, Open Face, Hedonist Chocolates, Iron Tug Brewing, Rohrbach Brewing, Good Luck Restaurant, and James Brown’s Place.

George Eastman Museum

George Eastman Museum

George Eastman Museum

Ontario Beach Park

We spent our Saturday afternoon and evening in Niagara Falls; it was incredibly windy, cold, and it snowed there that evening into Sunday morning when we left – despite the weather (at one point, I described it as “hell snow” – it was so windy at times, I felt I had to hold on to something so that I wouldn’t blow away and the snow was coming down heavy and in pellets), we really enjoyed ourselves and the falls are quite the site to see! We took a hike around the falls area that afternoon, headed to Old Fort Niagara, then dinner, and then back to the falls at night to see them lit up. I enjoyed the fact that nothing was overly crowded and it almost felt as if we had the Old Fort to ourselves at times, given it was in the off-season.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Fort Niagara

If you’d like to see more photos from our trip, you can view them here.

by Valerie | 02.27.17 | For Funsies, Travel | No Comments »

Putting the Val in Valentine’s Day

Sunday at home

For all you lovers out there and lovers of love, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! I treated myself to two new, gorgeous orchid plants (English Gardens has them on sale through tomorrow – buy one, get one 50% off) and we visited the VLNTNSDY MRKT 5 in Detroit on Saturday, where I picked up some Sfumato Fragrances, a JKM Soy Candle, and some Warda Pâtisserie treats. We also had the pleasure of visiting friends, where we got to sample Wolf Moon Mixers…just look at this beautiful bowl of punch in the photo below! With Valentine’s Day in mind, here a few fun things for you to check out:

punch

by Valerie | 02.13.17 | Around our home, For Funsies, Holidaze | No Comments »

beantown & puppy bowl XIII

Boston

I traveled to Boston, MA for work last week; a visit to “Beantown” was a first for me and it did not disappoint! I had a little time to see some of the city and treated myself to a stroll through Boston Common, Public Garden, Faneuil Hall, and Paul Revere’s home. The Liberty Hotel is an amazing space for drinks, and it has such an interesting history. I saw lots of Patriots merchandise all over Boston while I was there, of course, because we can’t ignore the fact that yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday…or, more importantly to me, Puppy Bowl XIII; Melody took a nap through the Kitty Halftime Show and I particularly liked the fact that they featured three special needs puppies this year.

Melody is napping during the #PuppyBowl Kitty Halftime Show

by Valerie | 02.06.17 | For Funsies, Princess Puppy Pants, Travel | No Comments »

you oughta know bitter

fog

Fog, rain, more fog, dog naps (in our house, they will always be dog – rather than cat – naps), and homemade bitters (more on that below) – this was what our weekend was made of; that and a nice dinner out with friends one evening, at which point I saw one those signs posted at the bar that says you have to have been born in a specific year (currently 1996) in order to legally drink which caused me to settle into a momentary state of depression… 1996? I’m not even going to say why that year is of significance to me, but I didn’t like how it made me very aware of my age.

About those homemade bitters, we’re very excited to try our hand at making our own for use in some delicious cocktails at home, and we used this very nice Christmas gift our dear friend gave us to make our first attempt at doing that over the weekend! We used their recipes and ingredients provided with the kit, and added a few of our own ingredients to the mixes; we’re also attempting to make our own lavender tincture (inspired by a former Ann Arbor Distilling Company cocktail called a Rise & Shine). We’ll see how they turn out in about a month, when they will supposedly be ready, I’m crossing my fingers.

homemade bitters

homemade bitters

my little love bug

by Valerie | 01.23.17 | For Funsies, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

MLK Luncheon

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”” – “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.

You can view the University of Michigan’s MLK Symposium Keynote here, with Amy Goodman and Issa Rae (pictured above), which closed with a performance from the Syncopated Ladies (pictured above).

by Valerie | 01.17.17 | Holidaze | No Comments »

anniversary weekend

celebrating our 16th anniversary today

We celebrated our 16th anniversary over the weekend and enjoyed a delicious dinner out at Mikette, yummy “bananniversary” cake, lovely flowers, and this amazing latte made especially for me by my sweetie!

anniversary weekend latte love

happy bananniversary

anniversary flowers

by Valerie | 01.16.17 | For Funsies | No Comments »

smoky, black-eyed pea veggie soup

smoky black eyed pea veggie soup with rice

We were a little late in eating our New Year’s Day black-eyed peas this year, but we remedied that for dinner last night; adding them to our soup made for a delicious and warming meal on a cold January night. Below are the ingredients and the recipe and you can watch us make it in this quick, time-lapse video here.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (we used chipotle infused)
  • 2-3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 carrot small diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 3 medium/smallish sweet potatoes large diced
  • 4 oz (2/3 a 6 oz can) tomato paste
  • 1/2 jar of red salsa
  • 1 12 oz can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups of veggie stock (depending on how much broth you like)
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

In a large pot heat up the oilve oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic; cook until onion is slightly transparent. Add the bell peppers. Once everything starts to sweat a bit (or the peppers have started to become tender) add the smoked paprika. Cook for about another minute or so. Add the sweet potatoes and salt and pepper to your taste. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato past salsa and fire roasted tomatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the veggie stock, bring to boil. Once boiling reduce heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Add the black eyed peas and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve by itself or over some rice for a delicious, hearty meal.

by Valerie | 01.09.17 | Recipes | No Comments »

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