Anniversary Traditions

Alessandro and I decided that we did not want to get in the habit of exchanging gifts on our wedding anniversary each year.  We already buy each other tons of gifts for Christmas and Birthdays, so there was no need for another reason to blow our budget.  Instead, we thought it would be nice if we would write each other an anniversary letter.

I woke up on our anniversary to see this on the kitchen table: 

Along with his letter to me, Alessandro got me a white orchid, which is what I bought him for his wedding gift last year, which made it extra special.  He hid it from me for a couple of days in our closet.  Last year, before our wedding, I hid his orchid kind of in plain sight in our bedroom because I knew he still wouldn't notice it : ) And he didn't.  Men. 

In addition to the letter I wrote him this year, I also surprised him with a binder I threw together of mementos from our first year of marriage. 

It was really easy to make.  (It's the lazy person's scrapbook).  I bought the binder and some clear cover pages from Target.  I gathered everything I could get my hands on from our first year, such as little love notes, emails, ticket stubs, cards and a few pics.  The gathering part was pretty easy considering that Alessandro and I both keep bags by the side of our bed where we stash mementos from things we do and notes we write to each other.  So I just raided those bags and found most of the things that eventually ended up in the binder.  I then organized the mementos in chronological order and started taping them to cardstock using roll-on tape.

Here's our first grocery bill...

Tickets from our last few Tiger games while living in sin...  


Our wedding invitation and a few pics...

A couple of notes and emails...

And my letter to him was in the back of the book...

Also in the book were:
  • Notes that Alessandro wrote after his wisdom teeth extraction when he couldn't talk.  Some of the noteworthy writings were:  "Don't get high on your own supply," "What if I can't open my mouth," "Please don't make me laugh," "I feel like Sherman Klump w/ my lip," and "Remember to not make me laugh."  
  • Passport photos gone wrong.  The pics of us are too shockingly ugly to go public. 
  • A card that I got for Alessandro on his birthday back in 2005 before we were dating, but after I was in love with him.  
  • And a piece of Sears receipt paper that he saved with my phone number on it from way back in the day.  

A while back we also thought it would be cool for our anniversary to go back to the spot where we took some of our wedding pictures and re-create the photo.  Here's what we got: 

Our Wedding Day:  June 27, 2010
Our One Year Anniversary:  June 27, 2011

Our Wedding Day:  June 27, 2010

Our One Year Anniversary:  June 27, 2011

We thought they turned out pretty cool!  To take these anniversary pictures, I propped my camera up on the hood of our car (very high tech I know) and set the self-timer.  We thought about doing some pics at the river where our wedding ceremony was held but didn't want to get too out of hand. 

Our anniversary ended with fireworks.  Literally.  We went to the VIP Rooftop Party for the Target Fireworks put on by my BFF and her crew at The Parade Company.

It was an amazing show, and a perfect way to cap off our anniversary night. 

Anyone have any special wedding anniversary traditions?  Or see the beautiful fireworks show last night? 


Water for Elephants

I recently read Water for Elephants.  People, it was really good!  I had no expectations before starting the book, and I was pleasantly surprised.

At first I couldn't get the image of the Pattinson fellow out of my head for a while, but eventually he disappeared from my mind and I could depict the main character as someone with an unfamiliar face.  I think the woman figure always remained Reese Witherspoon to me even though I really tried to stop picturing her.  That's the problem with books turned into movies!  I never saw the movie, but the previews were enough to taint my imagination.  (And although I had no idea who played August in the movie, I kept picturing Billy Zain.  Maybe it was because August's character reminded me of Zain's character in Titanic?) 

The book was different than any other book I've ever read.  It was about circus life essentially.  And it was really well researched.  I learned that a lot of the references to happenings in the book came from real life circus examples after Gruen did tons of research and talked to many higher ups in the circus world.  It was really cool to have read the book, been really encapsulated by the details and then find out they happened in real life.

I loved the book so much that when I was finished, I didn't want to be, so I kept reading the bonus material in the book, like the interview with the author, Sara Gruen, and the discussion questions.  It made me want to be in a Book Club.  Uh oh, Bike Club and Book Club.  I don't think I'm ready for that jelly.

I'd like to see the movie one of these days.  But for now, I will relish in the fantasy of the book.  I just read it last week and I kind of want to read it again.  Is that weird?

Anyone else have any good book recommendations? 

P.S.  Thanks to Keely for lending this book to me to read. Great recommendation.


Bike Club: Weeks 2 and 3

Week 2 of Bike Club was great.  Another ride to Belle Isle via the Dequindre Cut and the Riverfront.  We didn't go around the island because we were concerned there was too much traffic in the evening after work, so maybe that will be a weekend morning route. 

Bike Club's biggest outing was in Week 3.  We had 5 riders.  So we were a real Bike Club!  We first traveled to the New Center area.  Jazz in the park would have been going on, but it was canceled early in the day due to the weather, which turned out to be beautiful.  We really liked the area by Wayne on Second Street.  It was so quiet and clean and pretty.  A fun route to bike.  

We tried to cruise the Boston-Edison District, but could not find it.  None of us had ever been to that area before, and I only glanced at a map minutes before we left.  I kept saying it was "up and left" of New Center, but after going up and left and finding ourselves in potentially shady territories, we decided to head back.  Just yesterday, a veteran member of Bike Club told me that she ended up visiting the Boston-Edison District after our failed attempt, so next time, we'll at least have a better idea of where we're going.

On our way back, we stopped in front of the Motown Museum and got a pic.  Go Hitsville USA and Go Bike Club!

Pic courtesy of Monica

We also worked on our hand signals because safety's first folks!  We had signals for right, left, sort of to the right, veer left, stop, bump and CAR!  I may or may not have screamed these things a few times and shrieked out of pure panic, but other than that, I think we did great with our signals.  I found a YouTube video online about the proper use of hand signals and shared that with the members of BC.

Let's just say we were a little off.  But it's something we can work on.  I also found this diagram, which totally blows my mind.

Anyone have any idea what "Alternate Right Turn" means?  I just cannot wrap my head around it. 

Anyone else want to join Bike Club?  We may be accepting applications.

P.S.  Thanks to Patrick, Monica, Alesia, and Tia Lu-Lu for biking it up these past weeks.


"I remember the first letter. I remember the first date."

On June 27th, Alessandro and I will be celebrating our one year wedding anniversary. 

It's easy for one to forget all of the wonderful lyrics in this jam because the chorus is so commanding, but there really are some gems in there.  My all-time favorite lyric is:  "Victoria won't be no secret at the end of the day, it's our anniversary."  Classic romance. 

I was going to share a video of our wedding, but we started watching it to make sure it wasn't too embarrassing and discovered that it really was too embarrassing to share.  So I'm not going to post it.  I mean (a) our wedding officiant was slightly janky, (b) we both ended up crying during our vows and (c) what an overall uncomfortable event that was!

Now I know most people wouldn't describe their wedding ceremony as "uncomfortable," but I'm not scerred.  Neither one of us liked the idea of "all eyes on us" at our wedding, which is why we opted for a very low key and very short (the entire thing, including our vows was 10 minutes long) ceremony.  And we're both very private people.  (I'm completely stepping out of my comfort zone in publicizing anything about our life with this blog, but I think the memories will be worth it). 

We both wanted our wedding vows to be personal and special to us and to truly reflect our love for each other, so we always knew we would write our own.  We just didn't know if we would actually feel comfortable enough to read them aloud.  So it was with great trepidation that we spilled our guts and discussed one of the most sacred and personal things we have (our love) with our friends and family. 

Even though I couldn't share our wedding video, I will share our written vows: 

Alessandro's vows.  The last line read:  "I will love you always and forever."  This is a scan of the exact paper we used, and Alessandro said he didn't need me to fix the error because he could remember that last part : )

Embarrassing photo.

My vows.

Embarrassing photo.

I love that I was able to reference The Hills Have Eyes, Brandon Inge, Rick Flair, a vendor at Comerica Park and our fish (may he rest in peace) during one of the most significant times in our life. 

(Disclaimer:  We are not Inge fans; if you missed the reference in the vows it is because Inge cried like a baby when he was moved from 3rd base to catch because it apparently affected his at-bats.  What's your excuse now buddy?  You've been at 3rd this entire season, but only batted .211 before being conveniently struck with mono only to be sent down to triple A on a rehab assignment.  Psh)

Back to the subject at hand:  We were happy with our vows and with our wedding, even though we're glad that's over!  See how happy we were!

Now onto year two of marriage.  I'm sure it will be filled with many more adventures. 

Did anyone else out there write their own vows?  Does anyone want to bribe me with cash-money-records in order to see the wedding video? 

In case you're interested, more wedding pictures can be found on flickr


Breakfast in the D: La Dolce Vita

Our plan for this past weekend was to go out and have a nice romantic dinner since we haven't done that in a while.  But, our plans went askew when we accidentally had too much chicken shawarma from Country Chicken in Dearborn for lunch.  I ate basically an entire tub full of garlic sauce.  Is that bad?

We thought maybe we'd be ready for a late dinner at 8ish, but by that time our stomachs were still full.  So instead, we treated ourselves to Sunday brunch at La Dolce Vita.

It was our first time at LDV and certainly won't be the last.  It was such a wonderful experience.

A couple of tips/observations:  maybe use a GPS to get there--it's a bit hidden; and know that the parking in their back lot is mandatory valet for a reasonable $2 (so make sure you have cash or else you'll have to find parking on the street).

The service was great and the food was better.  (Actually, they were even).

Right off the bat I noticed that the coffee was cinnamon-y.  Alessandro didn't believe me, but then we heard someone ask for non-cinnamon-y coffee, so it was Me: 1, Al: 0.  


It was kind of breezy and cool the day we went, so we didn't sit outside, but the patio looked pretty cool.

Some of the staff was in PJ's because I think I overheard that they do that on the second Sunday of every month.  We loved the Tiger pants.  Takes a real man to wear those bad boys to work.

 Alessandro ordered the shrimp benedict...

and I had the quiche of the day, which was asparagus and parmesean.  

We ordered a side of black forest ham to share.  Had to have some breakfast meat.

We loved that the portions were manageable; we both cleared our plates and still felt good about life.  Not over-stuffed or anything. 

Alessandro even ate the orange.

And obligatory shot of us.

Overall, great experience.  We're looking forward to more brunches there, and also keeping it in mind for our next romantic dinner out.

Anyone else have any LDV stories?  Recommendations on dishes?  Brunch or dinner?  We'd love to hear.


Urban Roots: A movie, a concept, a way to revive the D

Image found here.
Alessandro and I saw Urban Roots the other day at Eastern Market (Shed 3 in case you wanted that information).

Urban Roots is a documentary about the latest and greatest idea of reviving the City of Detroit--urban farming.  As Mark MacInnis, the director of the film and also a Detroit native, put it: 
Wherever there is grass, there is a chance to put food on the table. And where there is a chance to put food on the table, there’s a chance for a new start. Now, all around the city of Detroit, a growing movement of urban farmers is changing the way people think about food—and life in the “D”. It took men like Henry Ford, William Durant, and Lee Iacocca to build this city, but it’s taken a bunch of strong willed self-taught urban farmers to save it.

The documentary introduced us to a few of the urban farms already thriving in Detroit:  Brother Nature, D-Town Farm, Earthworks Urban Farm, and Elmhurst.  It was a really inspiring film that really highlighted the dedication of people who love this City

Plus we had a few good appetizers and enjoyed each others company.

It also gave me an idea for a new volunteering gig!  I am going to look into volunteering at one of the Detroit farms.  If anyone's interested in joining, let me know.  I have never tried my green thumb hand at gardening, but our indoor Basil plant has doubled in size since we got it a few weeks ago, so that has to mean I'm probably capable.

Now off to make some delicious basil aoli...stay tuned for Al's recipe.


Focaccia anyone?

If the answer is yes, I'm your gal!  A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a focaccia bread making class at Angelina Italian Bistro, my favorite place on earth in the D, and now I just may be able to whip up a couple of loaves (or a pizza)!

After finding out that Alessandro works every Saturday in June (grr!) I had to find a fill-in for my pre-made reservation for 2 for the cooking class.  I asked my friend, Craig, who I have been buddies with since Kindergarten.  (I know, so romantic!)  Luckily, he was interested.  I could not have been in better company for this.  Turns out that Craig has a long history of bread making from his own bread baking adventures to memories of his Grandma making it rise (get it?) in the kitchen.  Who knew?  I had never tried making bread before (does banana nut count?) but Craig was really in his element.

First I should say that one of the best parts of Angelina cooking classes is that if you arrive a few minutes early, you can have a cup of coffee.  Doesn't sound that exciting, I know, but I really do love the coffee there!  It's so good.  I always try to chug a couple of cups before the class begins.  Craig and I both graciously accepted a couple of refills.  Can someone say, "Yes, please!"  The owner, Tom, told us it's a Great Lakes roast...now I just have to find out which one.  Hmmm.

Anyway, after we had too much coffee, we went into the kitchen to bake.  Angelina's pastry chef, Raed, (pronounced "ride" and mentioned here) was our host.  He's such a great teacher!  He gave us a great recipe and great tips. 

As I mentioned, Craig was in his element.  Asking questions about flour, "High protein or high gluten?", honey "Should we use beeswax or wildflower honey?", yeast, water temperature, etc.  He at one point said to me, "I have so many questions.  Can I ask them?"  I gave him permission (since the class only had 4 students total, I didn't see why not).  Craig really liked the small class size because it "gives me more speaking time." 

We each made 2 loaves, a mom and a baby...

and a pizza.  Craig said that his pizza dough looked like a teacher of ours from High School.  Melvindale peeps, any guesses?

Here's everything baking.

While they baked, Raed made us a breakfast foccacia, with two sunny side eggs cooked in olive oil.  Yum!

And finally, our baked goods were done and ready for consumption!  (Well, not until after they rested obviously because you wouldn't want to kill the dough.  Trust me, that's pure professional bakers talk right there).

Don't they look delicious?  And they were!  Alessandro and I ate the pizza for lunch that day, and we used the loaf at family dinner the next day.  Spaghetti was on the menu and it was a perfect fit. 

P.S.  This was the third cooking class I've attended at AIB.  The first was a Pasta class and the second was Baking with Chocolate.  

To see future cooking classes offered at AIB, check here.  Me and my BFF Dani will be at the Art of Sautee this Saturday!