The first official weekend of summer

Summer is officially here. We’re doing our best to get outside, but also to get things done. Sometimes it’s hard to do both. But I managed it this weekend when I finally painted our coffee tables. I set them up in the garage and did cleaning between coats of paint. I felt very productive, I must say!

And then my husband had the brilliant idea for a family walk to dinner. We hadn’t been to Bombay Cuisine in a long time. So we got in tasty Indian food and four miles of walking. Now that’s some good family time!

And now for some random weekend photos…

This? Is a dog eating a pizza. A tiny pizza. I can’t resist giving our “old lady” treats.DSC_6572

I love my gnome.

And then there’s my adorable kid. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to get away with calling him adorable. But he doesn’t read my blog so I’m safe for a bit.


Spontaneity. It’s not my strong suit.

It’s not like I plan and organize my days to the minute. Or even the hour. But I like to have an idea about what’s going to happen next. And make sure it’s feasible.

The plan for Friday was to take the train into Chicago to visit some old friends. We’d spend a few hours hanging out with them, and then head home.

The first part of that plan worked out well. The train from Michigan City dropped us off at Millennium Station at 10:28. We grabbed some raspberry sorbetto from Eataly. (Again…my kid is hooked!) Then, after insisting he was still VERY hungry, we had lunch at Dao, a restaurant Scott and I used to frequent when we worked around the corner. So. Good.

Our friends were staying in a comfy Embassy Suites where we parked ourselves to do some catching up. It was so good to chat. It’s been probably ten years since we’d since each other so we had plenty to talk about.

But when it was time to head out for the planned excursion to the zoo, the kids put up major resistance. What? I love the zoo! Apparently they preferred to sit in a hotel room and watch The Lego Movie. Rather than spend a beautiful afternoon strolling among the lions and tigers and bears. I jokingly said, “Well, if that’s the case, then we’ll go grab a drink somewhere while you watch the movie.”

And you know what? We did! First spontaneous thing.  (The kids were supervised by the 15-year-old so it’s not like we were irresponsible or anything!)

Cathy, Derek and I hit the hotel restaurant/bar and had a lovely afternoon of wine, food and conversation. It wasn’t the zoo, no. It was probably better since we were able to just relax and talk.

Afterward, a slightly spontaneous trip to Navy Pier was proposed. Although Dev and I were getting close to our time of departure at this point. We had to catch the 6:00 train if we wanted to get home before midnight. And that’s when Cathy suggested that we spend the night.

What? Really? How can we? (These are the panicked thoughts that went through my non-spontaneous mind.)

Pull-out bed in the “living room,” Walgreen’s around the corner for a toothbrush and contact lens cleaner, check the schedule for the train in the AM. We would be late for our volunteer gig at Crash’s, but it was doable.

So we stayed!

And we all enjoyed a nice evening at Navy Pier, complete with a ride on the Ferris wheel that made my kiddo pretty darn happy. So spontaneity isn’t all bad. Just don’t count on me to take that stance on a regular basis.

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Mmmm…caramel macchiato

I have Festival photos to post, but I wanted to get these up first. Because my new favorite thing, I’ve decided just now, is making angel food cake. I’m guessing that’s because it tastes so darn good when it’s done. But I’m a bit enamored of the egg-white-whipping process as well. Geeky.


This one I’d found on Pinterest a few weeks ago and it immediately called my name, “Lori? Lori! You need to make this recipe. You won’t regret it!”

Today turned out to be one where I actually had the time. After three straight days in downtown Grand Rapids, I had one free day to myself. (Well, I was supposed to be on a field trip with my son, but I had an asthma attack last week. Ah, that’s another story.) And today just happens to be my 13-year wedding anniversary – and the day after Scott’s birthday, which he spent crewing stages at the before-mentioned Festival. So I went all cake-baked-bean-lemon-chicken happy and made dinner.

Starting with dessert, of course.

What’s that interesting looking concoction above? Well, this angel food cake is titled Caramel Macchiato Angel Food Cake, so that would be the macchiato ingredient, I believe. It called for espresso power, which I’m clueless about, but Starbucks Via Italian Roast worked great in its place. Just in case you were wondering.


One dozen eggs. I had to crack 14, though. A couple outwitted me.


The first time I tried this, I was soooo nervous about whether it would turn out. Soft peaks. Stiff peaks. How was one to tell the difference? But you know what? It’s easy. The egg-crackin’ part is the most challenging part.

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For some reason I really like folding in the flour and such afterward. First, I folded in the espresso-y stuff, which was kind of a new element. Although I felt I had sufficiently folded it, later I found that there were still smatterings at the bottom of the bowl. They ended up kind of “ribboning” through the batter and it made a cool effect. So all was well.


And ta-dah! Well, it’s not my most smashing photo of an angel food cake. Rushing does that. But you get the idea of the scrumptiousness.


Especially after Dev blobs on some whipped cream and raspberries. The original recipe calls for caramel sauce, but we didn’t have any and this combo seemed to work out just as nicely.


Words by me, photos by my sidekick

It’s the time of year when I begin assaulting my viewers with photos of my garden. It’s all the pent-up eagerness that I can’t contain after months without blooms in my yard.


But…I don’t have everything planted yet so I’ve been restricted to the tulips and emerging perennial leaves. So where did all of this glorious color come from?

My kid.

The other day I asked him to join me in a quick jaunt to the garden center. He’s always been my partner in crime during these excursions. I remember when he was about two and I stuck him in a cart as I strolled through the annuals at Romence Gardens. I assumed he’d be happy enough just looking around at everything. Little did I know he’d want to plan the garden for me.

Much to my mom’s horror, I actually let him. He was very insistent about several of the plants. Varieties I may never have chosen if solo. But I thought, why not? And his choices turned out to be great additions to my flower beds and containers. So it’s become a bit of a ritual for us.


This time around the first plant that caught his eye was the stevia. So I added that to our mint, basil, lemon balm and rosemary. Then we started randomly adding things to the cart. At one point he asked if he could get in my bag and use my camera to take some photos. Of course, I said, and the two of us walked along, me examining tags and roots, him stooping and stretching to find just the right angle for the shot.


When I downloaded them, I have to say I was impressed. I use aperture-priority as my main setting most of the time rather than manual, which does slightly “automate” the photo-taking process as far as the shutter speed. But even if you have your camera on the auto setting, you will only take good photos if you have a good eye. I’ve known people who’ve spent hundreds on fancy cameras and their photos are just not good.


So I was certainly pleased to see how deliberate and careful he was with his shots. So here I regale you with some lovely selections from our garden-shopping adventure. The one below reminds me of this photo I took a few years back.

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Just call him “Speedy”

I started running about seven years ago. Mostly on the track at my gym and, even then, not for miles and miles. When I started at my current company, I discovered they had a runners’ club and I took the plunge and joined up. The allure was the opportunity to run four local 5K races at a steep discount. I’d never considered running a 5K until that point.

Now I’m a big fan. I still don’t run miles and miles, but I will run 3.2 in a row. With thousands of other people. It gives me energy and keeps me focused. And it’s just plain fun.

My son has been asking me for several years if he can run a 5K with me. My answer has always been, only if you commit to training with me. That would quickly turn him off to the idea. Dev likes to do something very well without having to prep. But he ran track last spring, had a blast in cross country this past fall, and has been running a mile straight in gym class over the course of several months. So he and I both considered that training. And I signed us up for the Fifth Third Riverbank Run.

Before selfie

We had a blast. He’s faster than me. (Not a surprise!) And he was able to maintain his pace for the entire three+ miles, which he’s never done before. He would speed up ahead of me, look back and see I was lagging, and then wait for me. It was sweet. Yet I could tell that his competitive nature was being reined in. We crossed the finish line at 28:03 and 28:04, respectively, but I know he could have gotten a better time if he hadn’t been so nice as to wait for me. This was my second-best finish and I really do have him to thank for it. I know I ran harder trying to keep up with his fleet feet!

Maybe next race we can figure out a plan for him running his little heart out and me being able to find him at the finish line later.

After selfie (he was geeked about all the snacks at the finish line)

Local goodness

The kiddo had this Friday off from school, so I took a day off from work as well. I love when we have opportunity to just hang out together. The thought was that we’d go to a movie and just enjoy the day. Which we did. But it ended up being jam-packed with more stuff (good stuff!) than either of us had imagined. Spontaneity!

Since we rarely get a chance to go out for breakfast, we made a plan to start things off with an outing. That meal can be the worst for me with my gluten-free issues. Pancakes, french toast and waffles are my traditional breakfast faves. And there aren’t a whole lot of places that serve up GF versions of those just yet.

We usually go to Marie Catrib’s where I nosh on their awesome sweet potato pancakes. But in my past searches, a highly recommended, but not really close by, restaurant kept popping up. Anna’s House offers quite a few GF menu items. It’s way up north, though, so we hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Yesterday was the day. I’m glad we did. I really liked the red velvet pancakes. Better yet, they’re soon to open a second location just five minutes away. Booyah!

After breakfast we shopped a bit (at Meijer…locally founded national grocery store chain!) and then headed over to the 11 a.m. showing of Spider-Man 2 (at Celebration Cinema…local theater chain!)

Then we went downtown to collect our race packets for the Riverbank Run (which, by the way, Dev and I ran this morning – more on that later). By then it was 2:30 and the popcorn high had worn off. So we decided to scope out a downtown eatery for a late lunch. He loves the mac ‘n cheese at Rockwell-Republic, so we grabbed a seat by the window and relaxed for a bit.

We then visited a local pharmacy (excitement!) to get a new prescription for our adorable diabetic-arthritic cat, Finn. And on our way home, we enjoyed one of the ultimate local GR experiences: the Downtown Market. We left with our usual Dorothy & Tony’s cheese popcorn (Dev is smitten), but also had the chance – finally! – to try Love’s Ice Cream. I like most ice cream, to be honest. But this really was an awesome dish of creamy goodness. Flavored with Madcap coffee. Oh, my, my!

My son has far more restraint than me. He always goes for the healthier gelatos and sorbetos when possible. In this case the triple berry sorberto. (He went with lemon gelato when we visited Eataly in Chicago last month.)


What was going to be a simple movie-then-hang-out-at-home day turned into a bit of an adventure. A delicious one!

The weekend: it came and went

Weekends are too short, don’t you agree?

Looks like Nick could use another few hours in his weekend too. Lazy cats! I can’t resist taking photos of his big ol’ paws. Especially when he stretches out so adorably. The only bad thing about the photo is that the flannel sheets are still on the bed. They’re usually gone by mid-April. But I see hints of hope this week. Some high 60s and low 70s. I might be able to fold them up and stuff them in the linen closet soon.


The garden is certainly giving me some hope as well. I haven’t planted bulbs in several years but was determined to have some nice spring flowers to greet me after winter said goodbye, so I planted a few dozen in the fall. I think I’ll do that again this year. The garden just looks so much more lush, even though the perennials are just getting started.




My cooking mojo seems very scarce during the week. A by-product of getting up so dang early and then feeling so rushed around that time of day. I don’t really have the gumption to put too much energy into the whole event. So weekend dinners are the ones that I tend to be proud of. I scroll through my Pinterest faves and find something new to try. This time around it was a Quinoa Taco Bake, which I actually made without any quinoa. I subbed in ground turkey since that’s what I had (and I knew the 10-year-old would more likely eat it).

The original looks splendid, I admit. But I was pretty happy with my results. A little basmati rice on the side and we were good to go. With plenty of leftovers, well, uh, left over.

Today was Museums Free 4 All, which I made sure to put on our calendar. We hadn’t been to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in quite a while. It seemed like a great opportunity to get in a visit. The kiddo wasn’t as into some of the historical aspects of it. It is politics, after all. But he was smitten with the aircraft carrier. He read the entire story that was displayed around the base of the carrier. And then he asked for my phone to take photos. 



Afterward we walked around by the river. It was sunny and beautiful. The only downside was the wind. But it didn’t seem to have an impact on their hair in these photos. That’s a plus!


Apple? Cheddar? Bacon? Together? Yes!

Yes, I was excited when I read the title of the recipe too. Those three yummy tastes in one loaf of bread? It’s too good to be true.

I had no intention of making this today. I had two other things lined up for the oven in preparation for tomorrow. But I made the mistake of browsing Pinterest this morning and I just couldn’t resist adding this to the menu too. The popover recipe (which I’ll show ya below) only makes six. So this will augment that so everyone gets their fill of carbs.




So here are those popovers I mentioned above. I love popovers. I don’t know why it took me so long to bake my own, but I’ve been hooked ever since. So easy! And delicious. And addictive. These were supposed to feature four different herbs, but fresh chive and dill were the only ones I had. I haven’t tried them yet since we’re saving them for tomorrow, but they smell divine. So they can’t taste bad, right?




In the spirit of working backward here, which seemed necessary so that I could feature the bacon-oriented food at the beginning of the post, this was where I started this afternoon. Dev asked for apple pie for dessert. Poking around on Pinterest (yes, again), I discovered this clever take that seemed a bit more fun. And possibly less bothersome when it comes to crusts and such. Also, Grandpa is diabetic and I wanted an option with less sugar, and this seemed like it would work nicely.

So I give you…the making of gluten-free apple pie crostatas.




And now that the baking is finally done, I’m going to relax and enjoy this spring weather. Wishing you and your family a happy Easter!