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.
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.
We got ~10 inches of snow here in Ann Arbor yesterday, when winter storm Caly blew through, and it looks like we have more snow in the forecast later this week and next week too, along with temps dropping to highs in the teens later this week; winter seemed to take it’s time getting here this year, but it is without a doubt here now!
It really is beautiful, the fresh-fallen snow, and it was lovely to watch it fall all day long outside my window. When I looked out my window Sunday morning and saw a family, pulling a sled with their children inside it and a happy, black dog bouncing through the snow alongside them, it was almost like a scene from a movie – pure, winter wonderland perfection. We enjoyed a cozy Sunday at home, sitting by the fire and the glow of our Christmas tree lights, watching Christmas movies all day, made our first batch of chili for the winter, and even managed to take a nice long nap.
Today is #GivingTuesday and we made a donation to our local Humane Society, which is something I always enjoy supporting. When we adopted our sweet dog, Melody, 15 years ago from a shelter in Austin, TX, they said she was a stray and she was so frightened and timid that she wouldn’t even walk on a leash…how far we’ve come! Melody continues to bring us joy and love every day and we are so lucky to have her in our lives. I hope that you will give in some way (your time, your talents, your donations, etc.) to a cause that is meaningful to you in honor of this day of giving!
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the past, and Hanukkah and Christmas fast-approaching, it’s got me thinking about all things gifting – on that note, here are a few items I recommend for holiday gifts, if you’re looking for ideas or a little inspiration:
- Make a donation to the preferred charity of your family or friends’ choice!
- Etsy’s gift guide
- Our friend, Tanya, does beautiful, custom watercolor portraits (more on that here) – you’ll find her on Etsy here.
- Our friend, Abigail, makes beautiful, handcrafted porcelain – check out her online shop here.
- We’ve been loving using Framebridge for our framing needs lately; they’re fast, affordable, shipping is free, and they handwrite gift notes with your order!
- Consumable gifts are always nice! Here are a few, Michigan-based ones to consider…
- King Orchards: Ever eaten a Michigan-grown, Honeycrisp apple? If yes, then you understand; if no, you should try one!
- Zingerman’s Mail Order: Ridiculously delicious, high-quality, mouth-watering ingredients and all things food – they’ve got mail-order gelato, breads, meats, cheeses, pantry items, sweets, etc. You can even order sandwich kits with everything you need to put one of their famous Reubens together, right in your own kitchen!
- Mawby: Pop the cork on some bubbly to celebrate the holidays – Michigan’s Mawby can help you with that! My personal favorite is the Blanc de Blancs, but they’ve got something for everyone from sweet to dry.
My parents’ dog, Cheney, recently passed away and we asked our friend Tanya to do a portrait of him for them; I knew she was talented…but wow…it turned out even more beautiful than I could have imagined (it was hard for me not to burst into tears when she gave it to me)! After we saw what she’d done with the portrait of Cheney, we had to ask her to do one of Melody too. They are both so amazingly beautiful and really capture both Cheney’s and Melody’s spirits I think. If you noticed, Melody’s tag here reads “Meldoy” which was intentional and is a funny story; Ryan and I once misspelled her name, “Meldoy”, on her dog tag and she wore it on her collar like that for years – it wasn’t until we moved and re-made her a tag with our new address that we realized what we’d done and we will never stop laughing about that!
These will be treasured always by our family – thank you, Tanya! You should check out her shop on Etsy here; she really is a wizard with watercolor.
Now that we moved into our new (old) office, I’ve really enjoyed unpacking my things and sprucing up my work space; it’s nice to fill it with things I love, that make me smile, like photos, plants, and flowers. It is, after all, the place I spend most of my time at away from my actual home – so it’s important that I make it feel homey to me. I ordered this great print of Melody peeking out our front door from Framebridge, picked up a happy yellow lamp, and a few plants…and just look at this dahlia pictured below – wow! Speaking of work, the campus squirrels seem extra-squirrely this time of year too.
We are still cooking our Blue Apron meals and are getting better about skipping the weeks we’re not crazy about the menus for or that we know we’ll be too busy to cook much; you can view more photos of our meals here. Melody enjoys observing us cook and eat, as always, and it’s fun to have such a cute audience! Our local distillery, Ann Arbor Distilling Co., is now serving bourbon and rye and we enjoyed stopping by to sample the goods last week. The dahlias are just stunning this time of year and I love walking by our neighbor’s dahlia garden and seeing them all in full bloom! There’s something magical about a foggy morning that I can’t get enough of…
Hope you all enjoyed a fun and exciting, as well as restful and relaxing, Labor Day Weekend! Ours consisted of college football (Melody is pictured above supporting our team…although we weren’t happy to find that the channel they were airing the Texas Tech game on here was showing a Tigers game instead and we couldn’t see the game live on TV until almost the end of the 3rd quarter; my brother says we can fix that by moving to Lubbock!), yard work, movies at home, and some delicious cooking. We used our garden peppers to make hot sauce and pickled jalapenos and Ryan made some delicious guacamole with one of our garden habanero peppers and this Blue Apron meal (pictured below) for dinner last night – yum! It’s official, summer is over and there are signs of fall everywhere – football, mums, Oktoberfest beer, etc. – although you wouldn’t think it given the summer-like weather we’re experiencing today in Ann Arbor. Here’s to changing seasons and guacamole…always guacamole!
Our sweet dog, Melody, is 15 – going on 16 – years old (in human years) and we thought that elevating her food and water bowls might be helpful and more comfortable for her; so Ryan managed to put together a quick, simple but stylish solution with some wood we had sitting around in our garage. I think Melody approves!