For those of us who "live" online...

Friends, I will tell you that life lived when not a single person is looking is quite different than this online world. Things move a lot slower, quieter, and more simply. Days are longer, we speak softer, and somehow all those lost minutes of the day come together to form an extra hour or two to focus on the things that really matter.  - Aurajoon
The full post by my favorite blogger, Aurajoon, where this quote is put into context, is a must read for all of us.

I constantly struggle with my online presence.  Why do I have a blog?  Why do I have a Facebook?  Why am I sharing my life, my pictures, my thoughts with people I do not even know?  Or people I don't know well enough?  Are my pissed off clients going to Google me?  Why does Pinterest make me happy and frustrated at the same time?  Why do I read 10+ blogs daily?  Ten.  What is the point?  What else could I be doing with my time? 

I know that I am not alone in my thoughts.  Any given day there are people who ask these same questions online, and I've read many thoughts on the topic.  But the person who has said it the best is Aurajoon.  She has the most beautiful blog I've ever seen.  She has a passion for life, her family, her heritage and it shows.  She stopped blogging in September when she wrote her last post, which is a must read for everyone.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  So please click here and read her words. 

* * * 

Doesn't that make sense?  

Is there something else more productive I could be doing with my time?  I've already cut cable and don't watch TV and don't have internet on my cell phone.  And I feel good about those things.  It allows me to be in the moment when I'm home with my husband and I don't have the temptation to check if anyone has said "hi" to me online while I'm out having drinks with my friends.  I'm not saying that anyone who watches TV and always has the internet at their fingertips is not living in the moment.  I'm speaking only for myself.  I just plain lack self-discipline.  I mean, I refresh my email about 500 times per day.  I have my own issues that other people don't have.  So cutting things out of my life is just what works for me.  It might not be what other people need. 

But have you ever thought about it?  Even if you don't completely stop watching TV, maybe it would help to have "non-TV hours" at home.  Maybe you set limits and are only allowed to check your email three times a day.  (I have had to do this before--just to prove to myself that I am not completely without discipline).  Maybe you cut your Facebook friends down to people you actually talk to or care about.  Maybe it's the little changes that can make a big difference.  You'll never know until you try. 

I'm not trying to lecture, or change anyone.  I'm just sharing my current thoughts.  (Maybe over-sharing?)  

There are obviously positive things about the internet and being so connected to people all the time.  For example, I consistently read this DIY blog, and I swear if you ask me how to install a new sink, paint anything or build a console table, I feel like I could do it.  (I can't, but I still feel like I could).  So I do feel empowered by some things that I read, and I know that is a big part of making the most of the web.  

But, it doesn't change the fact that I'm still wondering if I want to "live" so much online.  Or if I want to live like no one else is watching. 


Pâté in Traverse Citay

Traverse City is one of the best parts about living in Michigan.  I love everything about the town.  Alessandro and I frequently dream of living there when we visit.  We once saw a beautiful house on the lake that had a sign on its mailbox that read, "Mission Accomplished."  Wouldn't that be nice? 

This time around, we did the usual:  went to wineries, breweries, ate at our favorite restaurant, hung out with friends and enjoyed the view.  Oh yeah...and we tried pickled eggs.

Beautiful crisp November morning.

Hand painted mugs on the wall at Right Brain Brewery
Still a few Fall leaves hanging on.

At Ciccone Vineyards
Pâté, cheese, crackers and champagne at L. Mawby
Whitefish pâté that made Alessandro act a fool.

With our friends, Craig and Dani.

Toasting at one of our favs - Black Star Farms

Loving our big, tall, red bearded pourer.

Smackintosh and pickled eggs at Tandem Ciders

Up above at 45 North

45 North was a beautiful place, but we didn't like the wines very much.  This was the only winery where we didn't leave with any bottles.

Al at his favorite winery, Leelanau Cellars

We really liked the dessert wines at Leelanau Cellars and got a couple bottles of the Rasberry Wine.  It paired perfectly with chocolate.  Dani and Craig picked up a few bottles of the Pommegranate Wine.  Somehow we forgot to get a tasting of that, but I'm sure they'll ask us over to enjoy it at some point.  (Hint, hint). 

I made them trek through the mud for a pic, but well worth it : )

Enjoying the view @ the Cellars

Me and my boo.
 And dinner at our favorite restaurant, Trattoria Stella. I can't remember the specific sauces we had with our dinners, and I can't look it up because they change their menus daily.  Dang.  But what I do know is that it was delicious...as always.

Wagyu rib-eye with risotto.

Veal with crispy gnocchetti

They always have panna cotta.  And it is my favorite here.  Dressed with berries and orange sauce.

For breakfast the next day, we hit up Patisserie Amie per recommendation from our friend, Keylee.  Sure, we had to wait for about an hour for a seat but it was SO WORTH IT.  We will definitely be going back there.  Once again, I can't remember the specifics of our meal--that's why this whole blog thing started--as a way for me to REMEMBER, but I guess that doesn't work if I don't journal right away.  Oh well.  At least I remembered that we went to Traverse City.  (Actually I didn't until I was sorting through my pictures just now).  Anyway...back to the food.

I had the special of the day, which was some type of chorizo and collard green quiche.  Absolutely delicious.  Al had some type of creole dirty rice dish.  He loved it.  And to drink he had a sweetened espresso that he still talks about to this day.  

Dani and Craig had waffles.  And a Gruyere and ham omelet with potatoes.  Both loved their meals and said they'd go back. 

Craig and I were loving the coffee served all over Traverse City.  It's Great Northern Roasting Company and I'll be on the hunt for it in a market near me.

Alessandro and I ended our stay in Traverse City with a trip to Chateau Chantal to pick up a bottle of his dad's favorite port--Cerise Cherry Port Dessert Wine.  (Which is actually not really a true port).  We also discovered a new dessert wine that is such a treat.  It is Chateau's Entice, which is an ice wine that is fortified with brandy.  It is so different and so tasty. 

Chateau Chantal is our favorite place just for the view.  You can see for miles.  It's quite beautiful.

13 bottles of wine richer, we headed back home. Our 5 hour trip home went by really quickly.  Only because we listened to R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Twista and Michael the entire ride home.  I have a video of Alessandro singing, but obviously I can't post that or else he'd punish me and never do it again.


Winter Bucket List

I helped my sweet niece, Ava make a Winter Bucket List the other day.  Here's the translation:
  1. Ice skate
  2. Make a snowman
  3. Snowball fight
  4. Walk in the snow
  5. Sledding
  6. Drink hot chocolate
  7. Movie night
  8. Pic with Santa
Ava actually did a lot of the spelling on her own!  And she just turned 5 in August.  I was super impressed.  (Although her mom tells me that Ava said the other day, "I'm so sick of being 5 years old.  I've been 5 for way too long."  Geez.  Kids sure are in a hurry!)

 And to make a space after each word, she would sometimes use the finger trick where you put your finger after the word to ensure a proper space.  Her finger looked so small when she did that.  But I think her spacing turned out pretty good.  

My Winter Bucket List is very similar to hers:
  1. Ice Skate with Ava
  2. Make a snowman w/ the nieces and nephews
  3. Go sledding with the nieces and nephews
  4. Have a sleepover with the nieces and nephews
  5. Have a movie night and spiked hot chocolate night with the hubby
  6. Take the kids to see Santa
  7. Make Gingerbread for my favorite doorman


Four Years of C.J.

Today is our nephew CJ's 4th Birthday!  Cannot believe he's so old!  

Have you ever seen a cuter mug?  I think not.

And he is the most athletic, coordinated, energetic toddler I've ever met.  As is illustrated in this video.

He called me the other day and disguised his voice saying, "Hi little girl, what do you want for Christmas this year?"  I replied, "I want to hang out with my cute nephew, CJ, and have a sleepover."  Then he broke character and excitedly said, "Okay!  Tomorrow?!"  Such a cutie. 

In line with our birthday traditions, we're taking the 4 year old to Build-A-Bear on Friday for him to make a special friend.  Updates to follow.

P.S. Enjoy other CJ related news (and videos) here


One Year of Francesca

Happy 1st Birthday to our sweet niece, Francesca!

P.S.  Today is also my Dad's birthday and my Grandpa's alternative birthday (long story).  Both of them have been gone for several years, but I think about them everyday.  Today is a special day.


Are you or are you not in the Christmas spirit this year?

I am.

This is partly why.

But I know that others are not.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Just wondering what the consensus is this year.  

I've been secretly listening to 100.3 while Alessandro isn't looking--all Christmas music, all the time.  My current favorite song is You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.  "I wouldn't touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot-pole."  Such a cute song. 

Alessandro and I haven't had television for seven months now, and I have not missed it at all.  Until now.  Knowing that I'm missing out on all those Christmas movies is killing me.  And for some reason we do not have Home Alone on DVD, which is like a crime.  

Yes, we have Netflix.  And we are two episodes away from finishing with the series of Oz, so after all those characters get shanked, we're queing up some Xmas favs.  Besides Home Alone and A Christmas Story, what are your favorite Christmas movies?