31 Jul

Next – Sicily

On Saturday night I had the best dining experience of my life at Grant Achatz’s Next Restaurant in Chicago.

If you don’t know anything about Next, it is a restaurant in Chicago’s meatpacking district owned by the famous chef Grant Achatz (of the high-end molecular gastronomy restaurant Alinea). Next opened last year and won the James Beard for Best New Restaurant in the US. The restaurant has a prix fixe menu centred on a certain theme that changes every few months and you don’t make reservations to Next, you buy the nearly impossible-to-score tickets.

So let me back-track to May 31 when I noticed a facebook post from Next Restaurant:

Next FB Update

It’s GO TIME.

In a flurry on excitement, I logged onto the Next website within seconds of this post and whipped out my credit card (highly unlike me if you know anything about my spending habits—or lack thereof). Even 2 minutes after the tickets went on sale, most of the tables at reasonable dining times were booked. After taking far too much time trying to decide which weekend my sister would most likely be in Illinois (so I could crash at her place) I settled on my birthday weekend (happy birthday to me!)at the only seating left: 10:30pm.

I’ve been spending the last 2 months explaining to everyone I know why they should be ridiculously excited for slash jealous of me for having these tickets.

So on Saturday night after an early pre-dinner in Geneva with Vicki, Matt and I got all dressed up and headed downtown Chicago for our late, late dinner.

Next Dinner

Our table ended up being about half an hour late which was a blessing in disguise because the host ended up giving us wine pairings for free! (I was far too cheap to pay the $65pp for those) and the hostess used our waiting time to give us a tour of the kitchens of both Next and The Aviary—the bar next door whose huge kitchen was exclusively for making ridiculously awesome cocktails—where we caught glimpses of Grant Achatz and Dave Beren.

Aviary KitchenAviary Kitchen

DSCF0478

Next Kitchen

Next KitchenNext Kitchen

Next’s kitchen was SO clean and organized. It was pretty impressive too how calm it seemed to be in contrast to the more frantic pace of The Aviary kitchen next door. The hostess showed us the information that they track on each table’s ticket which was extensive given the fact that everyone is eating the same thing. In addition to the obvious, like food allergies, they also kept track of where the woman was seated, when someone left the table to use the washroom, every time a dish was served or cleared from the table, and even whether someone in the party was left-handed! The attention to detail the staff paid to the diners made for some of the best service I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant (granted, I’ve never eaten at such a renowned restaurant before).

Aside from the fact that the food was amazing and the service was impeccable I liked that the staff gave us information about everything that we were eating and all the wines that we were drinking. Most of all though, the whole staff and even the restaurant itself felt very unpretentious a fact that I found surprising given that the restaurant itself has an air of exclusivity.

Next RestaurantPlace Setting

The menu was 13 courses of deliciousness with 1 apertivo and 4 wines.

(For pictures of the dishes that are actually good, check out this flickr stream. Whose it is, I have no clue.) 

Panelle: Fried chickpea flour crackers. These were tasty.

Panelle

Arancine: Stuffed with deliciously tender lamb. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sauce though.

Arancine

Caponata: Made with eggplant and celery and probably $30 worth of pine nuts. I <3 pine nuts.

Caponata

Charred Artichoke – You just eat the soft and deliciously charred tasting insides. SO good.

Charred Artichoke

Bucatini with Bottarga – I learned that night that I do not like bottarga.

bucatini con bottarga

Gemelli with Sardines – I do, however, love sardines. Matt doesn’t. He still thought this was the most delicious pasta ever. I could have stopped here, satisfied with probably one of the best pastas I’ve ever had (not counting my Nonna’s of course!). I was full…but there was so much more to come.

Sardine Gemelli

Swordfish with Roasted Garlic and Mint – I found the swordfish just slightly overcooked, but I loved the minty flavour.

Swordfish

A mix of boiled and fried chickpeas with a lemon dressing – probably my favourite dish of the night and the best chick peas I’ve ever had.

Chickpeas

Roasted Pork Shoulder – I was stuffed at this point but had to eat a generous portion of the shining star of the evening– pork shoulder. This bad boy was the most tender piece of meat I’ve ever sunken my teeth into.

Pork Shoulder

Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers in a Tomato Vinaigrette – Really flavourful. The fried zucchini flower was awesome.

Zucchini

Blood Orange Granita – this must have been made from really, really good blood oranges. A nice segue into desserts.

Blood Orange Granita

Cassata – it’s the official dessert of Sicily so it had to be featured on the menu. I loved this light and not too sweet cake (my birthday cake) a lot that I had no trouble clearing my dessert plate. The server brought it out to me with a little candle . . . a trick candle!

Cassata

Cannoli, Ravioli Fritti, and Sesame Honey Cookies – the cherries in the cannoli really made them good, otherwise I have to say that I’ve had better. The other cookies weren’t bad but I was too caught up with my cassata to really pay much attention.

Cookie Tray

I’m so stoked that I got a chance to eat and drink at Next, and to tour their kitchens. It was a pretty memorable experience and an awesome birthday present. I’m contemplating attempting to snag tickets for the next theme, Kyoto, but maybe I should pace myself and save it for another special occasion.

27 Jul

27

I’m 27 on the 27th.

DSCF8701Cheers! Drinks on me . . .

I feel like age 27 is going to be a good year. It’s just one of those feelings.

I want to make a list of all the things that I want to accomplish at 27, but I don’t even know where to start it or, for that matter, finish it.

So instead I’m keeping my options (and my mind) open for whatever happens to come my way this year.

…okay maybe I’ll put one thing on the list: a 225lb squat.

24 Jul

Top Things to do in Loutro Crete

Click the images for larger pictures or check out my entire Greece Album on Facebook.

Loutro Crete
Loutro, Crete

Visiting Loutro, a small town on the southern coast of Crete accessed only by boat or foot, was the part of our Greek vacation that I would most want to do again . . . preferably, when the temperatures are less than 40*C.

Loutro Crete Ferry
The ferry that takes passengers from Chora Sfakia to Loutro.

Loutro Crete Hotel Sifis
Sifis Hotel, our home for 3 nights

I’m a huge fan of hiking and, luckily for me, Matt is too so we try to incorporate hiking into our vacations whenever we can (like we did in New Hampshire and Tobermory) and Loutro is the perfect place to stay for easy access to lots of gorgeous hiking trails unlike any I’d ever seen before.

Because of the heat and the complete lack of any shade anywhere, Matt and I didn’t hike quite as much as I would have liked (only about 2-4 hours a day) we actually spent most of our time on the beach. Now, I’m not much of a beach person but relaxing on the stone beaches on the Libyan Sea felt much more rewarding after a hot and sweaty hike so I thoroughly enjoyed the hours I spent reading and swimming.


Top Things to Do in Loutro Crete

Rent a Boat

Libyan Sea
We didn’t rent this boat. But we could have!

Since Loutro can only be accessed by boat or foot, to get to the small towns or beaches in the area you have to hike or take a ferry. Renting a boat is a good alternative option for flexibility in visiting beaches in the area or just for seeing the beautiful Southern coast of Crete.

Tips:

A boat rental for the day should cost under 100Euros (more info)

Hike the Aradena Gorge

Aradena Gorge

I wanted to hike a gorge in Crete but I didn’t want to fight the crowds at Samaria. There were definitely no crowds here, we only encountered one goat farmer in the entire 2.5 hours. We had the entire hike to ourselves.

The Aradena Gorge is within hiking distance of Loutro and is worth the strenuous climb up to walk back down to sea level between towering walls of red stone. It is one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done and nothing like I’ve ever seen. The hike ends at Marmara Beach, the most beautiful in the area (in my opinion). You can take the coastal trail back to Loutro from here.

Aradena Gorge

How to Get There:

From Loutro find the trailhead just to the left of Sofia’s Mini Market. You will hike up past the Venetian Castle, as you approach the town of Phoenix don’t go into the town but stay right on the path toward Livaniana instead. When you reach Livaniana you will follow the blue spray-painted rocks pointing toward Marmara. This will take you down the lower half of the Aradena Gorge to Marmara Beach.

Alternately you can hike up to the village of Anapoli and then over to the village of Aradena and descend the entire gorge.

Goats
Goats on the hike to Aradena

Tips:

There is very little shade on this trail until you reach the Aradena Gorge.

The hike is very rocky and requires at least a pair of running shoes if not hiking shoes. I imagine it would be extremely slippery when wet.

We encountered a LOT of bees on this trail collecting pollen from the wildflowers.

Bring water. The only stop along the way is a small taverna in Livaniana.

Watch out for goats, especially if they’re kicking rocks down on you from the cliffsides.

 

Visit Marmara Beach

Marmara Beach
Marmara Beach

You can access Marmara Beach by boat but the hike between Loutro and Marmara Beach was one of my favourites. It seemed a little dangerous at times and I spent more time watching my footing than anything else. The path is narrow and is right on a cliffside that descends hundreds of metres down to the jagged rocks on the Libyan Sea. It was scary, but very, very cool!

Marmara Beach itself was awesome. It is a stone beach lined with lounge chairs and umbrellas that you can rent for 6 Euro on the crystal clear Libyan Sea. You can’t really tell from the land, but if you swim out you’ll find numerous marble caves on the left side of the beach cut out by the sea. You can swim in the caves and even find little passages between them! It was by far the best swimming experience in Crete.

The little taverna at Marmara shouldn’t be overlooked. The food is cooked fresh and is very tasty and is actually quite inexpensive considering they have a monopoly on food service at the beach. I wish we had eaten dinner there!

How to Get There:

Walking: You can do the Aradena Gorge hike which ends at Marmara beach or you can just take the coastal trail there and back. This route starts at the same trailhead to the left of Sofia’s Mini Market. Follow the yellow and black markers past Phoenix. The trail will take you right through tavernas in the small town of Likkos, and then continue along the footpath on the cliffside, ending at Marmara. ~1 hour.

By boat: A small boat leaves Loutro from the ferry dock to take visitors to Marmara beach at 11:00am. The boat picks up visitors at 5:00pm.

Tips:

Don’t do the hike if it is raining or has recently rained.

Good shoes are a must.

Explore the Venetian Castle

Loutro Crete castle
Venetian Castle in Loutro

I love how you can just climb the ruins of this old Venetian Castle like a goat. It’s just another of the many remnants of Crete’s Venetian past. It’s a quick hike to get up here so if you don’t have the endurance for one of the more challenging hikes in the area, then this one is a good one. Plus, it’s fun to hang out in an old castle!

The castle offers great views of Loutro, the sea, and the neighbouring towns.

How to Get There:

From Loutro take the trailhead just to the left of Sofia’s Mini Market. Hike up, east toward the Venetian castle.~10 minutes.

Visit Sweetwater Beach

Sweetwater Beach
View of Sweetwater Beach from the Trail

I’ll be honest that this wasn’t my favourite beach, or hike for that matter. The hike felt safer and didn’t have the same excitment of the trail between Loutro and Marmara. The beach is similar to Marmara (stone beach, clear & refreshing water) but larger and slightly busier (so there must be something to it!). I included Sweetwater Beach here because of it’s popularity but I wish we would have gone back to Marmara!

Loutro Crete
Gorgeous Views of the Hike to Sweetwater

How to Get There:

Walking: Catch the trailhead near Kostas Cafe taking the trail east along the cliffside, ending at Sweetwater. ~45 min.

By boat: A small boat leaves Loutro from the ferry dock to take visitors to Sweetwater beach at 11:00am. The boat picks up visitors at 4:30pm. Ask at the taverna to ensure the correct departure time.

Eat Fresh Seafood

Loutro Crete Swordfish
Swordfish Souvlaki with Green Beans

I had the most delicious swordfish souvlaki at Pavlo’s. The fresh raw souvlakis were on display so you know you’re eating fish straight out of the sea. But if seafood isn’t your thing, you can find whole lambs roasting all day on a spit.

Tips:

Try out one of the restaurants that displays the fresh fish so you know what you’re getting.

Hike UP the Samaria Gorge

I mentioned the Samaria Gorge in my last post about Chania. Click over for more details. Like I said, Matt and I skipped this hike because of the heat but it is really popular with tourists.

Most tourists hike down from Omalos but since, from Loutro, you’re closer to the sea level endpoint of Agia Roumeli you can spend the day hiking upward instead, getting a better workout, and avoiding some of the crowds.

How to Get There:

The logistics of this are a bit more difficult. You can take the 10:30AM ferry from Loutro to Agia Roumeli
but buses from Omalos, the end point of the hike, only run in the morning so you’d have to catch a cab back to Chora Sfakia and then the ferry to Loutro.

23 Jul

Greek Frappe Coffee at Home


Last frappe I had in Greece @ Athens airport before our flight home.

While Matt and I were in Greece I noticed that everyone was drinking some iced coffee beverage with a thick layer of what, from far away, looked like whipped cream on top. In spite of the fact that I hate whipped cream, I had to try one of these immediately because: 1) I like iced coffee. 2) I like to try new things. 3) I’m a lemming and do whatever everyone else is doing.

While practicing my Greek literacy on a menu at a beachside taverna, I deduced that the mystery drink was called a frappe since that was the only coffee beverage offered.

A Greek frappe is iced coffee with a layer of foam on top. It is made with instant coffee (a fact I learned later) and is usually served sweetened and sometimes with milk.

My mind was boggled, wondering aloud How do they DO this? to Matt every time I drank one which was, admittedly, pretty often.


One of the many frappes I had in Greece.

Of course I had to replicate this beverage as soon as I got home. Turns out it’s extremely easy to make- just takes a little shaking. It’s made with instant coffee which turns into a foam when mixed with a bit of water and agitated.

Greek Frappe Coffee

How to make a Greek Frappe

1) Put 2 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee and 2 teaspoons of sugar (or to taste) in a 500mL jar.

Greek Frappe Coffee

2) Add 30mL (~1 oz) of cold water.

Greek Frappe Coffee

3) Cover the jar with a lid and shake vigorously until the water started to foam up.

Greek Frappe Coffee

It will look something like this.

Greek Frappe CoffeeGreek Frappe Coffee

4) Add ice and top the jar up with cold water. A splash of milk is optional. Drink with a straw on a Cretan beach.

Greek Frappe Coffee


Greek Frappe

2 tsp instant coffee
2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
500mL cold water
ice and a splash of milk for serving.

Put the coffee and sugar in a 500mL jar.
Add 30mL of the cold water.
Put a lid on the jar and shake vigorously until the water starts to creat a foam.
Add ice and top the jar up with the remaining cold water. A splash of milk is optional for serving.

21 Jul

Top 5 Things To Do in Chania Crete

Click the images for larger pictures or check out my entire Greece Album on Facebook.

We started our Grecian vacation in Crete, an island so large that it feels like a country all its own. With so much to discover on Crete I allotted half of our 2 weeks vacation to this island. The itinerary for Crete was 2 nights in Chania, 3 nights in Loutro, and 2 nights just outside Heraklion.

Loutro Crete (85)

Crete has a beautiful rocky landscape with massive red stone gorges and mountains covered in thyme bushes and wildflowers where their amazing honey (seriously, the best I’ve ever had) comes from. It the foothills, huge olive groves grow and the island is surrounded by the turquoise blue Cretan and Libyan seas. It’s really like no place I had ever seen before.

We arrived in Chania by plane from Athens. The city can also be accessed by ferry via the port town of Souda or by bus from most towns in Crete.

On Renting A Car in Crete:

Many people will suggest you rent a car to explore Crete. This will help get you to where you want to go on a flexible schedule. If you’re not comfortable sharing winding roads with maniacal drivers the KTEL Buses are reliable and cheap and will take you all over the island. If you choose the public transit route then it might be a good idea to stay closer to town/city centres, since taxi drivers seem to determine their fares based on how well you can pronounce efcharisto (ie. thank you in Greek). We took the same cab ride to Heraklion three different times for three significantly different rates.

My thoughts on Chania:

Chania is a beautiful city. It’s old town area has really quaint winding alleys that are great for tourists to explore. Truthfully there isn’t a whole lot to do here. Even at a slow pace you can cover most of the attractions in city in a day. That said, it’s much much more charming than Heraklion and is worth staying here at least a night if you’re visiting Crete.

Chania Crete (11)Chania Old Harbour at Sunset

Chania Crete (25)Chania Old Harbour

Top 5 Things To Do in Chania Crete

1) Get Lost in Old Town

Chania Crete (49)Chania Crete (41)

Chania Crete (50)

Even with a map it is easy to become completely lost in the small, winding pedestrian streets of Old Town Chania. Squeeze your way through the narrow “streets” that are more like alleys and discover shops, restaurants, and churches that date back hundreds of years.

The old town has the feel of being in Venice, which is no surprise since it was established by the Venetians.

How to Get There:

Take a cab or the bus from Souda (the port for large ferry vessels) or the Chania airport. Buses run regularly.

Tips:

If you can find it the Etz Hayyim Synagogue is worth a visit. Look for a small alley halfway up Kondylaki. The small Jewish community in this section of Chania were rounded up in 1944 and deported to concentration camps but the entire community perished when the ship taking them to mainland Europe was mistakenly sunken by an Allied torpedo. The Etz Hayyim synagogue was rebuilt in the 1990s after being placed on the 100 Most Endangered Monuments List due to the ransacking of the Ghetto after the deportation of the Jews.

2) The Lighthouse

Chania Crete (37)

Chania Crete (38)

The oldest lighthouse in Greece is located in Chania’s old harbour. Originally constructed by the Venetians in the sixteenth century, part of it collapsed and was rebuilt in the 1800s in an Islamic style by the Egyptians to whom the Turks ceded rule over Crete at the time.

How to Get There:

Walk east along the old harbour toward the breakwater. Climb the wall all the way out to the lighthouse for some great photos of the sea and the harbour.

3) Minoan Ship Replica

Chania Crete (40)

Located in one of the old arsenals that is part of the Nautical Museum of Crete, there is an exact replica of a Minoan ship (built with replica Minoan tools) that was actually rowed all the way to Athens for the 2004 Olympics.

How to Get There:

Walk to the the far end of the harbour, on the way to the breakwall and the lighthouse. Peek your head into the open arsenals – you’ll see the ship right away- or look for a small sign beside the entrance indicating “Nautical Museum”.

4) Eat at To Karnagio

Chania Crete (4)Chania Crete (5)

One of our favourite meals in Greece was from this restaurant located in a “square” (actually it’s a parking lot). You can get a better view at many restaurants on the Old Harbour, but the traditional Cretan food here is fantastic. We had tender oven-roasted lamb, delicious octopus, and stuffed zucchini flowers which were the best thing I ate the whole trip!

The complimentary 4oz bottle of ice cold raki (Cretan moonshine) is a great way to finish off this delicious meal.

How to Get There:

There are multiple restaurants lining the old harbour walk past them all in the direction of the new harbour. To Karnagio is nestled in a square that serves as a parking lot, just past the old harbour.

Tips:

Order the oven roasted lamb. It is tender and delicious. If stuffed zucchini flowers are available then get those too!

5) Hike the Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge(source)

Matt and I skipped this one in favour of hiking some loops near Loutro, but the Samaria Gorge is extremely popular with tourists.

The 16km, 6-hour descent from Omalos at 1250 meters to Agia Roumeli at sea level takes visitors through a narrow and steep-sided gorge that provides spectacular natural scenery. The hike can also be done in the reverse direction (ie. uphill) but the last 3km to Omalos are very strenuous.

How to Get There:

Buses run daily from Chania to Omalos (about 1h trip)

Hike down to Agia Roumeli and take the ferry from here to Chora Sfakion. A bus will take you back to Chania from Chora Sfakion.

Tips:

Good running shoes or hiking boots are required.

If you’re going the more common all-downhill route from Omalos, it may be prudent to bring hiking poles if you have bad knees.

The entrance fee to Samaria Gorge National Park is €5.

The gorge is extremely popular with tourists in the summer. If you go, you may be fighting crowds.

18 Jul

I’ve Been M.I.A.

Chania Crete (34)

You probably haven’t even noticed, but I’ve been MIA for, oh, about 2 weeks or so now.

Matt and I have been gallivanting from Crete to Santorini to Athens. It was a pretty stellar vacation. I can’t wait to tell you more about it. . . once this jetlag subsides.

Kerameikos

15 Jul

Kamut Brioche

Kamut Brioche

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel

This month we look at K or L. My ingredient of choice: Kamut.

WTF is Kamut?

What is Kamut? Khorasan Wheat is more commonly referred to as Kamut which is actually it’s trademark name. It’s a bit odd that a strain of wheat has been trademarked, but according to Kamut International, this is to ensure that customers are always getting 100% organic khorasan wheat that has not been combined with standard wheat or genetically modified. So if you’re buying Kamut and not plain old Khorasan wheat, you can rest easy my friends.

Kamut is a hardy strain of wheat that originated in Egypt. It grows relatively easily with less water than standard wheat requires to produce the same yield. It can often be grown without pesticides since the low moisture requirement naturally deters insects.

Kamut is high in protein (12-18%) making it a good substitute for bread flour in bread making. (Learn more about protein content of flours here). It can also be used in cereals, other baked goods, and pastas.

A serving of Kamut contains more than your daily required intake of selenium, the antioxidant that boosts immunity and prevents cancer.

Kamut tastes much nuttier than plain ol’ white flour or even whole wheat flour. I found it’s depth of flavour to be really very enjoyable.

(Sources: 1, 2)

How the hell do I use Kamut?

You can use Kamut either as a whole grain, cooking it like you would rice, or as a flour, baking with it in place of regular wheat flours.

– eat whole grain kamut it instead of oatmeal for breakfast
– use kamut flour for making pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, or bread
– use kamut pastas in place of regular pasta (or make fresh pasta with kamut flour)
– eat whole grain kamut instead of rice as a side dish at dinner

I decided to use Kamut flour in bread for its high protein content. I thought that its nutty flavour would be really good in a rich bread, so I baked the richest bread I could think of: brioche! But I kept the butter content on the lower end so that the flavour of the Kamut wouldn’t be overpowered bythe butter flavour of a richer brioche.

I think the nuttiness of Kamut would be phenomenal in a panettone, stollen, colomba di pasqua, raisin bread, or any other sweet or rich bread. I’m going to try that next time for sure!

Kamut Brioche

Kamut Brioche

makes 12 brioche a tete

Ingredients

Sponge
1/2 c. kamut flour
2 t. instant yeast
1/2 c. warm milk

Dough
4 large eggs (or 3 XL), lightly beaten
3 1/4 c. kamut flour
2 T. granulated sugar
1-1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. butter at room temperature

1 egg whisked for an egg wash.

Directions

Combine the sponge ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until it bubbles and rises.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt to the sponge until smooth. Add in the flour and stir by hand with a wooden spoon. Add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time while stirring.

Once the butter is incorporated transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until smooth and supple but not sticky, adding in more flour if needed.

Place the dough in a large clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature for 90 minutes or doubled in size.

To shape the brioche, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a large log and cut into 12 equal pieces with a pastry cutter. Shape each piece into a ball, flouring your hands and the dough as needed. Then shape each ball into a tapered oblong shape, sort of like a snowman, with a head and body. Use your finger to poke a hole through the centre of the larger “body” of the brioche and poke the smaller ball through it. Place the brioches in an oiled muffin tin. Cover with a towel and let rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the tops of the brioche with the egg wash; place the tins on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, until an even rich brown colour. Cool the brioche for 5 minutes, then turn the brioche out of the tins to cool completely.


12 Jul

4th Anniversary

CollingwoodMackinac IslandMatt & IBostonMatt & INorway FjordsMelting Pot (14)3rd AnniversaryChristmas 2011Matt & IWeddingWedding

Four years ago my favourite person in the whole wide world and I got decked out in some fancy clothes and made a promise to each other to share our values of family, friends, and fun for the rest of our lives.

We’re 4 years into ‘the rest of our lives’ and it has been amazing.

We got married pretty young but that allowed us to establish ourselves as individuals, and do it together.

In the 4 years that we have been married we’ve gotten jobs, moved cities, bought a house, added a furry little bundle of joy to our family, and travelled the world. It’s all stuff that I could have, and would have, done alone but having my husband with me made it all that much easier. He’s a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and a support beam to hold me up when I’m under stress.

The life I have with my husband makes me happy and I couldn’t imagine what I would do or who I would be without him.

Happy 4th Anniversary.

10 Jul

Guitar Progress

(source)

So I’m still keeping myself occupied by learning to play the guitar that I first picked up in February. I really like practicing, probably because I’m teaching myself songs that I enjoy and actually want to play. But also because I just really like learning new and relatively difficult things. I like feeling like I accomplished something.

So far I can play a few songs semi-decently:

Wonderwall – Oasis
Turn the Page – Bob Seger
Hurt – Johnny Cash (though this one kinda sounds like crap)
If I Die Young – The Band Perry
Weak in the Knees – Serena Ryder
Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream – Pete Seeger

And currently-in-progress are:

Maps (Acoustic Version) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Head Over Feet – Alanis Morissette <– ridiculously hard, fyi

I use YouTube videos and chords & tabs from ultimate-guitar to teach myself and it’s been working out alright so far.

One of these days when I grow courage and a set of balls I’ll have to make a video and post it. Until then you can just imagine me being an awesome guitarist.

Essentially though my guitar playing is just an excuse for me to sing. Singing while strumming a guitar seems a lot more purposeful than just belting out tunes while sitting in the living room.

05 Jul

Date of the Month: Picnic

Picnic Date

It was almost impossible to squeeze in a Date of the Month for June. With me being out of town one weekend and him being out of town another weekend, then with Father’s Day and Canada Day we just had too much going on to be able to spend an entire day together on our original date that was planned. So we did a little switcheroo with our date for July a much more manageable, weeknight date – a picnic.

Picnic Date

We packed up our picnic basket with pulled chicken sandwiches that Matt made earlier that day from this recipe, some apple & pear cake that I made from this recipe, and a bottle of my favourite beer– Iron Spike Copper Ale– that Matt picked up from the brewery in St. Thomas last weekend.

Norwegian Apple Cake

We had plans for later in the night to go see Brave with Tina so we had our picnic close to home at a highly under-utilized park.

After reading one of Chuck Klosterman’s pop culture essays on time travel (well worth the read if you have the time) from the book Eating the Dinosaur we spent most of our dinner discussed the theories and purposes of travelling through time. It was a discussion which I’m pretty sure Matt didn’t appreciate since he claimed he would want to go back in time solely to stop the whole conversation from ever happening to begin with.

So that’s the last time we discuss anything remotely philosophical. Well, at least the food and the beer were good.


Date of the Month Club

Check out other posts in the Date of the Month club, where Matt and I go on one special date every month of 2012:

January – Bookstore Scavanger Hunt
February – Board Game Night
March – Bowling
April – Detroit Walking Tour
May – Colasanti’s
June – Picnic
July – Next Restaurant
August – Detroit Tigers Baseball Game
September – Detroit Institute of Arts
October – Wine Tasting