7.27.2011

Eastern Market


A couple of weekends ago, I invited my sis and the girls along with me to Eastern Market.  See how excited everyone was?!


Alright, well Maya wasn't that excited, but at least Ava was!  

We walked from my apartment, which is right down the street and about a 5 minute stroll.  On the way, Ava picked up a stick that she grew fond of.  Before we got to the market I hid it behind a dumpster so that we could get it on our way back.  She was worried that it would be gone when we came back, but I assured her it wouldn't be.  Luckily, it was still there on our walk home, and I gave it to Ava and she said, "Auntie, you're so smart."  If you're ever in need of some positive feedback, just find a youngin' to hang out with--they'll make you feel cool for doing something so "awesome" as finding a good hiding spot for a stick.

Eastern Market was pretty busy, as it always is.  It's a place that requires some patience--especially if you're pushing a stroller or wheelchair.  But we had fun and found some good deals.  Noteworthy items I purchased were a spring salad mix from Brother Nature Produce, which came in a mild or spicy variety.  I got the mild.  And a 4 pound bag of fresh spinach for $6.  Can't beat that!  And a loaf of rustic Italian from Avalon, which produced these wonderful B-A-T's, which Al and I ate for dinner one night:

 
My sister got pretzel bread from Zingerman's (which her and Ava love, but I found a bit too salty) and a jar of McClure's Bloody Mary mix.  People, this is the best Bloody Mary mix ever!  And if you're not even that into Bloody Marys, as I am not, but you're interested in starting a new habit, try this mix!  I first heard about it from Ericia, Detroit's own Winegal, when she wrote about it in her blog.  As soon as I read about it I biked over to Eastern Market to buy a jar.  It was right before Father's Day and we thought it would be perfect for Alessandro's dad.  Turned out to be a hit!  He and everyone else who tried it loved it! 

Toasting McClure's Bloody Marys garnished with McClure's Spicy Pickles on Father's Day. 

After picking up all of our produce, baked goods and drink mix, and seeing a horse, we headed over to Bert's for some of the best fresh squeezed lemonade you'll ever have. 



A trip to Eastern Market is not complete unless you stop by Bert's for some lemonade, a quick bite of bbq and endless entertainment.  It is always so much fun! 

Fresh squeezed lemonade made right before your eyes.


I didn't snap any pics of the bbq station this time around, but here are a few from last year: 



They come out in droves.

The karaoke performances at Bert's are also unlike any you'll see anywhere else.  (Think mid-Saturday afternoon instead of 1am drunken bar performances).  I didn't record any videos this time around (it's hard doing things with kids!) but here are a few awesome videos from last year. 
 
Gotta love this dance session and how even the homeless get in on the action (at around 1:42):  


And this one just cracks me up:


And here's my favorite: 


Needless to say, I love the entertainment at Bert's.  

Maya, on the other hand was still not amused:



She's a hard one to please. 

Does anyone have any favorite vendors at Eastern Market?  Or any must-see or must-taste  or must-experience recommendations?

7.21.2011

Sunday: Spinach, Shopping, Siestas, Spaghetti!

Alessandro and I had a Sunday Funday this past Sunday.  (That means we left the house for something other than the usual--church and family dinner). 

What did we do on Sunday Funday you may ask? 

We started our day with breakfast.  We had spinach, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches on an English muffin.  (I always call them English McMuffins because apparently everything derives from Mickey D's, but I was able to edit while writing so it came out correctly.  


Then we went to Nordstrom.  Now I know this may not seem like fun for Alessandro, but after I convinced him that it would be worth it, he was on board.  They were having a big sale and Al was in need of some new quality kicks.  He doesn't have the skill and coordination needed to wear flip flops, and he's not too fond of these sandals we got him last year, so he needed something new.

So off to Nordstrom we went.  We were only there for half an hour tops and we both left with new shoes : ) and I think it's funny that they looked like this: 



Does that make us weird?  Do you all think our shoes are ugly?  Isn't it funny that they're kind of similar, and that they could be the masculine/feminine equivalent of each other? 

Aless loves his shoes.  They're these from Cushe.  They're extremely light weight, easy to slip on and very comfy.  The top is canvas and the sole is made from recycled material.  He really loves them!  I'm scared that I just linked to the website and now he's going to want more and more and more Cushe.  Actually, I kind of want a pair now. 

Anyway, after shopping we decided to hit up the Taco Truck!  (Read more on my first visit here).  I got two carne asada tacos and Aless got the pork torta.  His torta was so good!  That's what I'm getting next time!  We ate it in our car with the air blasting because it was unbearably hot out and finished it off with an ice cold Mexican pop. 

He is not always amused when I make him pose for pictures.

As we were finishing up our lunch, Alessandro said, "This was a good day."  And flashed those pearly whites of his.  (He had a bit of lettuce in his teeth but I didn't tell him).

After that, we went home and listened to the Tigs game on the radio and I took a siesta.  Then we woke up to go to family dinner at his parents house, which we do every Sunday.  On the menu was his mom's famous Spaghetti, so it became an even better day!  

When I recap it sounds like all we did was eat that day, but I swear that hours and hours passed between each meal. 

7.20.2011

New Detroit Happenings

It's such a fun time to be a Detroiter!  So many fun and new things are happening around town and I  feel the need to spread the word.  

  • Astro Coffee opened up in Corktown next to Slows.  Me and Al will be checking this place out asap.
  • El Guapo food truck had its opening week on the corner of Monroe and Randolph near Greektown!  Let me tell you it was delicious!  (See below for a quick recap I wrote on my first visit for my office's newsletter).   
  • Slices Pizza opened on Woodward near Campus Martius park.  They're serving up NY style pizza.  Haven't tried it, and don't know if any pizza other than Supino is worth getting in the D, but thought it was worth a mention.
  • Urban Ground, which is normally stationed at Eastern Market every Saturday morning, has recently set up its cart at Campus Martius Park during the week!  Tried the coffee this morning and it's a winner! 
  • The Somerset Collection coming to the D?  Check it out here.  Shopping within walking distance to my home = dangerous. 
  • 71 Pop:  think pop up shops for young entrepreneurs. Grand opening is Sat. July 30th from 2-5pm. 
  • Keep your eyes open for Hot Taco to open up soon behind the Fox!  Read more about it here.
  • And obviously, Whole Foods slated to open up in Midtown!  Woot woot!  Hopefully this will one day mean no more going to the 'burbs for groceries for me.  

Now for my experience at El Guapo: 

Jimmy Johns?  Boring.  Rio Wrap?  Boring.  Greenroom?  Boring.  El Guapo food truck?  Yes, please!  Aren’t we all sick of the same ol’ lunch spots day in and day out?  If so, shake things up a bit with El Guapo food truck.  It is the best thing that has happened to lunchtime in the D since…CK Mediterranean Grille (which opened up about a year ago and is actually quite delicious and maybe warrants its own review). 
I had El Guapo for lunch today and it was wonderful!  The first thing to strike me was how friendly the staff was.  Even though it was a bit crowded and there were a lot of guests waiting to be served, the person taking my order let me take my time in ordering and was patient with me when I had a couple of questions.  He even offered some suggestions of his own:  “If you have big dinner plans, don’t get the burrito ‘cause that can probably take you to 7 o’clock pm.  If you want a light lunch, try a couple of tacos.  If you’re looking for something in between, try the burrito bowl, which is like a burrito but without the 12 inch flour tortilla.”  I ended up going with a chicken taco, a chorizo taco and a side of rice.  My total was $6.10. 


The second thing to strike me once I got back to the office and was ready to dive into my meal was the unbelievably delicious smell that was coming from the eco-friendly to-go containers.  It smelled so good that before I knew it, my tacos were in my belly and I forgot to pay attention to what was actually on the tacos.  But don’t worry, I always take pictures of my food before I eat, so I was able to refer to the photos to refresh my recollection:  I saw cheese, which I think was probably queso fresco (which is Mexican crumbling cheese), chicken/chorizo, red onions and salsa.  For salsa choices, you can pick between hot, mild, and some other spice levels I didn’t catch.  He had me at mild. 

And the third thing to strike me, as I scarfed down my food faster than someone can enter into a plea bargain, was the deliciousness of the food.  The tacos were so good, fresh and full of flavor.  And it was just the perfect amount for a lunch that left me feeling full and satisfied, but not overly stuffed.  And the rice was really good too!  But I’m kind of addicted to rice—rarely do I meet a rice I don’t like, so you may not want to take my word for it.  In fact, don’t take my word for any of this.  Go out and try El Guapo yourself.  You will not be disappointed.  And if you are, then I am not responsible for the information contained herein.


I told Alessandro all about my food truck experience and he was very jealous as he was on his 3rd PB&J of the week.  Oops!  

If anyone tries any of the above mentioned places, please feel free to comment and let me know!  Or if you want to take me on a date to any of these places, also let me know.  And obviously please feel free to share other new and exciting things you know about that are happening in the D!  

7.19.2011

A Beautiful View


This pic does not even do justice to the beautiful sky scenes that we are privy to in our home.  Once I get my sweet new camera, I will be able to take much more quality pics I'm sure.  But for now, this will do.  So pretty it is.  (Yoda reference people).  

Yes, that's a bag of Crown Royal on our wine rack.  We keep it classy.  

7.13.2011

Black Beans and Rice


Had to share a good black beans and rice recipe Al and I really enjoyed.  The recipe is this one from good ol' Ingrid Hoffman.   We cut the recipe in half to make 8 servings and have been eating it for dinner and lunch for the past few days.  And it's good!

Try it out peeps.  Let me know if you likey.


UPDATE:  I have since found a much better black beans and rice recipe and would be happy to type it up and email it out, so make sure you ask me for it!  

7.11.2011

Wake up, it's Summer!

"Auntie, wake up, it's Summer!"  Said by my little buddy nephew, CJ, it was about as sweet an awakening as one could ask for.  His voice was so precious and hopeful that I couldn't help but smile.  I didn't even need time to rub the sleep out of my eyes, or stretch myself out of my slumber, or even take my sleep mask off before I sat right up and said, "It is?  Let's see!"  And we walked to the living room and opened the blinds.  He was right.  The sky was a beautiful blue and the sun was shining so brightly I almost needed my sleep mask back on.

We had been waiting all night for morning.  CJ was especially excited because I had promised him the night before that when it was daytime we could go bike riding. 

Bike riding is probably one of CJ's favorite things to do (besides swimming) and all he could do the night before was talk about bike ridding.  He wanted nothing to do with my plans to hit up Target after dinner and  instead wanted to get right to biking.  Not much can hold me back from Target, so we followed through with my shopping plans...but not without him trying to break me down:  

My mom said you were going to take me bike widing today.
Not today, buddy.  We'll go tomorrow morning.  
But it's nice out wight now. 
Yeah, but it's getting late, we have to wait until tomorrow morning. 
But we could just go wight now weal quick, Auntie.  
Sorry little buddy.  And if you ask again I'll pop your tire and throw your bike in the trash.  It'll be morning before you know it. 

And so, not even 15 minutes after we woke, did we find ourselves on our bikes.  

Of course we brushed our teeth first.


At the bike rack.  Note Auntie's very sleepy eyes and CJ's look of pure excitement.

We rode The Dequindre Cut, and I cannot imagine a safer or better environment to ride with kids.  And the fun graffiti and sense of community with the fellow bikers is just an added bonus.  (Read more about my love for The Cut here).

It was a really hot morning, and CJ kept wanting to stop for water.  He made us stop under every overpass that had shade, and said every time, "It's nice here.  We could sweep here."  After our water break, we would continue on.  We were going kind of slow, (and whenever I would say so he would remind me that he's much smaller than me, so he has to go slower) so I was able to snap quite a few pics: 


Walking his bike down to the Dequindre Cut.  (Before going down he asked if it was the freeway). 

Love that smirk of his.

Best Friends.

Freakazoid.

He's probably not going to be the next member of Bike Club until he gets his act together.
 
I love the Vlasic Pickle guy.

And I got this pic, one of my all-time favorites: 

So hardcore in his Elmo outfit!

We had a great time biking and ended the morning with a much needed dip in our pool.  Followed by an even much more needed call to his momma to come pick him up : )  Auntie needed a nap. 

CJ is such a precious boy.  He is the sweetest heart, and Alessandro and I have elected him as the sweetest out of "our children," as we like to call our nieces and nephews.  (We frequently do mock elections to categorize the children depending on their current phases, such as:  Sneakiest [Maya], Craziest [Victoria], Smartest/Weirdest [Ava], Funniest [Saverio], Cutest [Francesca].  Don't worry everyone, they change just about every day. 

Some of the supporting factors for CJ's "Sweetest" award: 
  • When you tell him you love him, he always responds, "I wove you more."  And when you say, "No, I love you more," he says, "I said it first." 
  • While swimming together in the pool, he said out of nowhere between splashes, "Auntie, I wove you."  That was his way of saying he was having a fun day. 
  • In the morning, he thanked me for making him such a comfortable bed and said that he slept really good.
  • He always cries for his mom and dad at night because he misses them so much.  (But when it's time to leave me the next day, he's over them).  
He's making a running for the Weirdest though, because he only likes to listen to one song on repeat on his ipod and insists he listen to it with headphones on.  And because he sings it like this:


video

 Anyone make out the song?  It's Get Down on It.  "Get your back up off the wall." 

We love our kids so much and look forward to more adventures with them all. 
 

P.S.  I am obsessed with my sleep mask, which is this one in purple.  It was a Christmas gift from Aless, and I would highly recommend it. 


7.09.2011

Bike Club: Week 4

We had the best bike outing to date this week!  

We cruised our go-to route of Dequindre Cut to the Riverfront, made a quick stop at Wheelhouse Detroit, then went on to Belle Isle, and this time we explored the Island!

What a beautiful site.  We saw children flying kites, families on bike rides, men racing remote control cars, father-son fishing, brave souls on the beach, people golfing, racquetball (or handball),  and "funny smelling cigarettes" (as my Aunt likes to call it). So many people were out, just enjoying the Island and our great City.  

We also found an awesome bike trail that no one really liked but me.  Sure, it was a bit bumpy, unsafe, a few tree branches were ready to closeline you if you weren't watching and there were a ton of bugs, but I liked it!  It reminded me of riding the bike trail in the woods behind our high school on hot summer days as a kid.  It smelled like trees.  I liked it! I want to find others. 

We really got in a workout this week.  I estimate we biked about 15 miles...maybe 20.  I think we all felt the burn!  Next time we do this same route,we decided we are going to stop on the way back and grab a drink at Andrew's on the Corner to reward ourselves for a job well done. 

Bike Club for life!

7.07.2011

You never know who's watching you

Alessandro had the nicest conversation today in the elevator with a lady who lives in our apartment building.  She told Alessandro that she has been watching him and I.  She told him that he had a beautiful wife and that he was beautiful too.  And she told him that she is learning how to be a  good wife from watching me.  She said to him, "You just never know who's watching you."  And she's right.

It really goes to show you that we can all have an impact on people when we least expect it.  I know that sometimes Alessandro and I stand out--because he's young and walks with a cane, or because I'm pushing  him around in a wheelchair sometimes, or because he's white and I'm brown, or because we're just so darn attractive.  But I don't always think about the fact that people are watching us and we don't even know it.  

Actually, this is not the first time that someone has said something like this to us.  A few months ago, another woman from our apartment building told me that I was a good wife.  That I'm always on the go and I'm always doing something and that she can tell I work hard.  That meant a lot to me because sometimes I do get drained.  And it's good that someone, even if it is a stranger, sees that I'm trying my best.  Not that I need any affirmations from anyone, but it can never hurt. 

And on our honeymoon, an older couple came up to us in the pool and said that they had been watching us for the past couple of days and that they thought we were a great couple.  We remember thinking, "Wow, you never know who's watching you." 

And last incident that I can recall--was actually the first incident that this ever happened to us.  It was on the night that we shared our first kiss.  We were at The Well, a local watering hole, chatting it up over Jack and Cokes and Killian's Red.  We were not dating at all, and this was the first time that we were out alone together.  A lady (probably drunk because it was St. Patty's day) came over to us and told us that we  made the cutest couple.  We said thanks and then laughed about it.  But both of us secretly were thinking that we could only wish.  Then we kissed later that night (after a lot more Jack and Cokes) and the rest was history.

Moral of the story:  Don't pick a wedgie without looking around first.  But if you do, make it classy.  You never know who's watching you.