#GivingTuesday and gifting goodness

Present

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.

Melody

by Valerie | 11.29.16 | For Funsies, Holidaze, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

falling slowly

raking leaves on a sunny fall afternoon

We filled up 16 bags of leaves on Sunday and cleaned out the gutters on our house, in preparation for winter – which will eventually come here in Michigan; despite the fact that we have a high of 70 here on Friday, just two days later on Sunday our high is 38 with a chance of snow possible over the weekend, so we’ll see… It’s been a beautiful, mild fall with warmer temps and sunshine, which I’m not complaining about! And I’m excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday next week!

fall afternoon

by Valerie | 11.16.16 | Around our home, For Funsies | No Comments »

fall, friends, and fun

fall afternoon in A2

We enjoyed a visit with friends from out of town and the most perfect fall weather this past weekend; I’m enjoying every last drop of this beautiful fall we’re having here in Michigan, when the light is warm and golden, and there’s a cool breeze in the air – this is my happy place! We took a stroll around downtown A2 and it was so beautiful, I felt like I should be writing a poem or a song or something to commemorate how unbelievably picturesque it was. Our Halloween candy jar is already almost empty (oops!) and I can’t stop taking photos of gorgeous fall leaves and seeing adorable posts of friends and friends’ children jumping into big piles of leaves and thinking I need to sit down and watch this some time soon (it’s tradition!). It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just two weeks from this Thursday and it will soon be Christmas before we know it…and then 2017!

💗

💗

by Valerie | 11.07.16 | Around town, For Funsies | No Comments »

staycation

Kuhnhenn

After having both been traveling separately for work, it was nice for Ryan and I to be home together last week and enjoy a much-needed, relaxing staycation. We filled our week with a nice visit with family in Frankenmuth, a visit to Cranbrook to see the Hippie Modernism show (which we loved!), several movies at the theater, and I was able to add several more Michigan brewery visits to my ever-growing list – which currently includes the following, in alphabetical order:

  • Ann Arbor Brewing Co/Corner Brewing
  • Arcadia Ales
  • Bells
  • Blue Tractor
  • Brewery Vivant
  • Dark Horse
  • Dragonmead
  • Founders
  • Frankenmuth Brewery
  • Glasshouse Brewing
  • Gonzo’s Big Dog
  • Grizzly Peak
  • Jolly Pumpkin
  • Kuhnhenn Brewing Co
  • Latitude 42
  • Mitten Brewing Co
  • North Peak
  • Oddside Ales
  • Perrin Brewing Co
  • Right Brain
  • Salt Springs Brewery
  • Tandem Cider
  • Wolverine Brewing Co

You can view photos from our staycation here.

Dragonmead

Cranbrook Hippie Modernism

by Valerie | 08.19.16 | Around our home, For Funsies | No Comments »

summer fun & on the road again

NY state of mind

It’s been a whirlwind of a week for me – at the office, we packed up everything to move into our new space while at the same time packing for Ross on the Road events we’re traveling for in seven cities from Tuesday, July 19th (in Boston) through Thursday, July 28th (in Chicago); in the process, I’ve been lucky enough to see some really beautiful event spaces, like the Ascent Lounge in New York and the First Amendment Lounge at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. In NY, I made a point to stop by Junior’s and pick up some black and white cookies to take home (I can’t resist, they’re so good!) and in DC I was sure to take a stroll by The White House of course. Next week, I’m headed to Los Angeles and Chicago and looking forward to it.

In Ann Arbor, we had Art Fair this week…which always brings our hottest summer temperatures and thunderstorms; Ryan and I enjoyed strolling around downtown and seeing the sights yesterday. It’s always so good to come home! Speaking of home, I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is an amazing cook – I’ve been craving some delicious pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil so Ryan was kind enough to cook that up for me when I returned home from DC on Friday, yum! Our garden is doing great; we pulled a whole bowl full of fresh tomatoes from our garden box just yesterday and our peppers, onions, and herbs seem to be enjoying the summer weather too.

pasta with garden tomatoes, garden basil, & farmers market pesto

garden tomatoes & sun tea #grewitmyself

by Valerie | 07.24.16 | Around town, For Funsies, Garden, Travel, Work | No Comments »

family fun

4th

We enjoyed a fun 4th of July week with my parents who drove up to visit us from Texas this year; we visited the American Museum of Magic and Dark Horse Brewing Co in Marshall, MI, had dinner at Arcadia Ales in Kalamazoo (my mouth is still watering over their fried green tomatoes…not to mention the delicious beer), saw the Beatles exhibit at Henry Ford Museum, and Ryan cooked up some delicious eats like waffles with homemade Michigan blueberry compote for breakfast and fajitas for dinner. We’re having fun with this new-to-us photo app, Prisma, which Ryan used to edit some of our photos from the 4th; you can view more photos from our time with my family here.

4th

Henry Ford Museum - Beatles Exhibit

if it fits it sits

I have been enjoying listening to these song remakes lately, like 99 problems and No Diggity and Jolene (there are some fun ones listed here too); Johnny Cash can do no wrong. We’ve been taking lots of long walks all around town and throughout the local parks – the summer is flying by, but is definitely lovely here in Michigan!

Summertime in A2

by Valerie | 07.17.16 | Around town, For Funsies, Holidaze | No Comments »

birthdays and blooms

make a wish

Yesterday we celebrated Ryan’s birthday with a delicious dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse on the patio, and this sweet little cupcake (from Cupcake Station) pictured above.

And right now we are enjoying the most glorious season that is peony season in Michigan – loads of beautiful blooms everywhere; I missed the peony plant sale last Saturday, but I am still hoping to get myself to the Nichols Arboretum Peony Gardens soon before they are past their peak blooming period. I was thrilled to see that one of the peony plants in our yard was blooming as of yesterday too and cut this dark pink peony to enjoy on our kitchen table! Also, from our yard, are these yellow roses and blooming thyme and chives.

peony, roses, thyme, & chives from my garden 😊

peony

by Valerie | 06.07.16 | Around our home, Around town, For Funsies, Garden | No Comments »

commencement

#commencement

Last weekend was commencement weekend at UM and the photo above was my view on Friday at the Ross School Commencement ceremonies at Hill Auditorium. As a “townie” (or local Ann Arborite), this means that as students leave for the summer everything is a little less crowded, parking is easier to find, and – hopefully – we’re able to slow down just a little and enjoy the more relaxed pace of the summer months. I love my job, I love my (work) team, and I’m happy to call Ann Arbor home!

Dream team! #commencement

by Valerie | 05.02.16 | Around town, For Funsies, Work | No Comments »

outside/inside

snow day

Outside: Winter Storm Petros is blowing through the area and has been doing so since yesterday morning. The world is a lovely blanket of white and the snow is still falling…

Inside: We stopped at the grocery store on the way home yesterday to pick up fresh bread, soup, beer, chocolate cake, and some lovely mini daffodils. It may be winter outside, but I’ve got a little spring inside where it’s warm and cozy. Speaking of cozy, look at this little little sweetie all curled up by my feet. Also, I can’t get enough of this blanket!

my buddy & me

a little spring for this winter day #apartmenttherapy

by Valerie | 02.25.16 | Around our home, For Funsies, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

Putting the Val in Valentine’s Day

getting ready for our movie night in with the drive in by Compartes (milk chocolate + popcorn) #comparteschocolatier #compartes #abigailmurraystudio

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day and, as always, I am looking forward to this wonderful holiday that celebrates love and all things love! I’m a holiday person in general; I love them all – Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc. But a holiday that celebrates love and often involves flowers and chocolate and declarations of love in many forms…now that is something special! Of course, you don’t need a holiday to celebrate love or to buy yourself or a loved one chocolate or flowers, but it certainly can’t hurt. And, speaking of chocolate…we recently discovered our love for Compartés – it is REALLY good chocolate, it comes in lots of really interesting flavor combinations, and…bonus…the packaging is beautiful; if you believe that you eat with your eyes first, this certainly fits the bill. We’ve found it locally at Plum Market, but you can also buy it online. Here are some other fun Valentine’s Day treats:

by Valerie | 02.08.16 | For Funsies, Holidaze | No Comments »

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