missing

I apologize for the recent lack of posts …

I have come to realize recently (especially in the past 72 hours) just how precious life is. I have been blessed and broken almost in the same breath. I have lived the highest of the highs and plummeted to the lowest of the lows.

Without much detail at the moment I simply ask that you keep my family in your prayers and thoughts as we grieve together.

Also, I hope that you can keep Matt in your prayers and thoughts as he begins his life’s journey.

I promise that I will updated more soon … I have pictures and stories from the Nike race as well as a beautiful baking creation and recipe to share with you all.

Thanks for the support and love and keep on keepin’ on!

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Borscht and Haggis and Spaetzle oh my!

Fellow blogger Andrew over at Very Good Taste came up with a fun little meme which I couldn’t resist. Want to play along? It’s simple:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare … this is an almost cross out
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari

12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

my grand total??? – a measly 37.
Check back tomorrow for a detailed explanation! :)

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the ‘bux doesn’t like to pay it forward

I will always look back fondly on my high school days.

For some, it was a torturous experience full of bully’s, bad grades and seriously awkward pubescent yearbook photos. Me?, I was lucky enough to detour most of the socially awkward experiences and really enjoy all that growing up in suburban middle america has to offer.

The majority of my time centered around boys. DUH. Looking at them, talking about them, doodling their names on my paper bag book covers and passing notes about them. Come to think of it, my best girlfriend and I (Gina) finally got the clue and skipped the whole tearing notes out, folding them, etc. and just kept a notebook which was decorated with clippings from the newest issues of YM and TEEN which we would write to one another in each hour. I still have one of those notebooks and when I find my self reminiscing once in a blue moon and pull it out, it appears to be more of a catalog of crushes then anything else.

You would have thought that notebook was worth its weight in platinum the way we kept it under lock and key. I knew which class I could slither down in the back row and get away with reading/writing in and which class it’d be safer zipped up tightly in my Jansport.

My Senior year I decided to take AP (Advanced Placement) English as an elective, and while most of my friends spent their 3rd hour playing badminton in Net and Racket Sports, or decorating banners for the pep assembly in Leadership I spent mine analyzing the dialect of Beowulf and cramming for the AP English Language and Composition Exam. So when my teacher had to take a week off for a personal issue and we were left with a substitute more suited to babysit toddlers I knew we were in like Flynt for an easy movie week. With the lights turned off and sleeping heads resting peacefully on desktops I knew I would have plenty of time to update Gina on my newest crush and the latest gossip in our notebook.

The first half of the week we watched Wit staring Emma Thompson. I still remember being put to sleep mid note

“…she is just a stupid ho anyways G and OMG did you hear who he is taking to Prom …”

but Ms. Thompsons monotone voice and the dreary plot of the film. (*Note: I have since watched Wit again and loved it – go rent it today!!)

The second half of the week when my notebooking should have been skyrocketing thanks to perfect note writing conditions – read: substitute, dark room, back row – my social and personal life imploded. I am pretty sure within the span of three 3rd hours I spent with my eyes fixed to the tv in my classroom, my boyfriend dumped me, my best friend went on a date with the most eligible boy in school and no one was friends with miss popular anymore!

That film which still to this day stands as one of my favorite forgotten about movies of all time was Pay It Forward. I couldn’t divert my eyes away from the chaotic life of Helen Hunt’s stripper/mommy madness or the adorable and hopeful Haley Joel Osment. The premise of the movie is to do just as the title states – when someone does you a big favor don’t pay it back, pay it forward.

Thorsen: I thanked him and there were some very specific orifices in which I was told to shove my thanks. He told me, “Just pay it forward.” Three big favors for three other people. That’s it.
Chris: So it’s like a pass-it-on thing, then. Wait a minute. You and this lowlife are in this chain of do-gooders, some kind of Mother Theresa conga line? That’s a little New-Agey for you, isn’t it? Sort of Tibetan? What, are you in a cult?

I always loved the idea of paying it forward. It made sense in a Golden Rule, Catechism class, do unto others kind of way … but sadly at the time my priorities weren’t in check and I worried more about making sure I had everything/one I wanted and someone paying it forward to me first, then taking the initial leap to start the chain.

Then yesterday, 6 years after I first saw the movie, on one of the health and fitness blogs I read (please stay tuned for training/running updates!) a woman mentioned paying it forward and it began a dialog of thoughtful ways to pass along favors. Someone in my office mentioned a time when they were at a gas station and went in to pay for their fill up when they were told that the gentleman who had last been in paid for their gas, another mentioned a time when their boss ordered their favorite take out meal for them without their knowing after some financial hardships had risen and he was forced to brown bag it for 6 months.

… and it got me to thinkin …

and I sometimes always hate when that happens …

so … this morning when I stopped by Starbucks for my venti black coffee and found myself to be the only patron in the store, I handed the barista a $5 bill and told him with a smile and a generous heart to

“please put that towards the next persons drink who comes in”

and get this folks – he replied with

“sorry, no can do, corporate rules or somethin”

I was appalled! And my little do-gooder self was mad.

Seriously? No can do? What is this a communist country? You would have thought I was asking him to lace the next persons coffee with Anthrax or something. I just couldn’t believe it.

& the more I think about it, the more it really irks me that we live in a place, and time where someone can’t even buy someone else their morning coffee, just to be nice. Grrr.

I love Starbucks. I love their morning brew. Their recycled insulating sleeves. Their wi-fi. Their adorable mugs and tasty pastries …

… but with their ever growing fiscal problems and poor pay it forward ‘tude they are on my naughty list.

So Starbucks – lets for a moment presume this blog to be my high school notebook, and this entry a note to Gina. If I were you I’d be worried. Because Gina knows how to keep a good juicy, gossipy secret, but when that note falls in to the wrong hands on accident, you better believe everyone in school is going to know how much of a bi-otch you are!!

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life is made up of moments

I may not be the oldest or wisest person in town … I am blessed to have not felt the heartbreak of losing a parent, or the disappointment in missing the final shot to win a game for my team.

… but I have been blessed to experience some amazing moments in my 24 years on this little planet.
Moments which inevitably made me the impatient, emotional and demanding woman I am today!!

I kid. I kid.

But really there are a few moments I can recall which I believe had a direct affect on some major life choices I have made in recent months. Most notably (and relative :)) is the day I packed my life in to ONE suitcase, boarded a train and moved from everyothersmalltowninthemidwest to New York, New York.

For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I always said I would live in New York.
For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I was always a chronic procrastinator.
For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I was always a home-body.

So needless to say when I bought my one way Amtrak ticket from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Penn Station in New York City everyone was shocked.

I didn’t have an apartment, a job that provided me with a paycheck (I was there for a royalty free internship), or a clue.

(But in my 22 year old mind, those were just details … silly details which I couldn’t be inconvenienced with.)

Even now, when I close my eyes I can still smell the street meat cart on the corner of 33rd and 7th, see the flashing lights of Madison Square Garden and feel the cool breeze that funneled down the street on that crisp fall night when I emerged from the underground hub. I was instantly overwhelmed. It became flight or fight, and kids – I was ready to rumble!

The following morning I rose with the sun … or was it the dump truck, taxi horn, or general noise which was reverberating from outside the window … either way, when I woke up, it was early. I grabbed a cup of coffee, and the Post (which became my morning routine) and headed from the couch I was sleeping on in the East Village up towards Central Park. I quickly realized thanks to the wonderfully undependable MTA that it was the morning of the New York City Marathon! I was a wee bit skeptical of the whole thing, thinking to myself

“How much fun can it really be to watch a bunch of people running down  the street??”,

… but I managed to finagle my way right up against the barrier on the north side of Central Park South near Columbus Circle. There were thousands, probably tens of thousands of people lined up on the curbs as far as the eye could see. Some groups wore t-shirts emblazoned with photographs of loved ones, others were wearing colors which depicted charities/causes they supported. There were thundersticks, air horns and cow bells (I felt right at home!).

For the first hour or so we waited. Straining our necks, glaring east along CPS waiting to get our first glimpse of someone, anyone. I had had about enough waiting, figuring there were other things to be doing on my first day in the city then standing there twiddling my thumbs, when I heard the clapping begin. It resonated, getting closer and closer until I was finally able to see the first runner. And then I was shocked because … well …

… he wasn’t a runner! It was a paraplegic man in a wheelchair and I can still see the look on his face as he came in to my view. It appeared first as a painful grimace but quickly morphed into the most glorious smile I had ever seen in my life. That man had pushed himself 25.5 miles and now he was surrounded by strangers who wanted nothing more in that moment then to see him finish. He was alive, and not just in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense as well.

For the next 2+ hours I stood in awe, pressed anxiously against the metal barrier, clapping and cheering. I watched children, adults, people in groups and others who were alone. Some ran – faster then I can when I am sprinting and some walked. There were a number of people who fell, whose bodies had given up on them … and then crawled along the pavement when their heart refused to do so. It was their moment. And they made mine.

That morning in a city of millions, there was a common tie, a respect for one another that meant more then any religious or political difference. All day long I spotted people everywhere who were draped in the foil blanket they were provided at the finish line, proudly sporting their medals around their necks. I even witnessed a woman stop the closing doors of a subway car to send her congratulations to a participant. There was unlimited appreciation and support and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to experience the grimace and simultaneous overwhelming joy that man felt that morning. I wanted to push myself further then I thought I could. I wanted to test my determination and dedication. I wanted to run a race.

Which brings me to now.

When I signed up for the Nike+ race in Chicago I figured -

10K, can’t be too hard right??

WRONG. I have dedicated all of my free time to training. I am in the gym 6 nights a week, running 4 nights a week and watching everything I eat. Some days I feel great!! My workouts go well, I increase my weights, or I am able to rack up the miles by foot without any trouble. Other days … well other days aren’t quite so easy and I get frustrated, discouraged and crabby. – EEK!!

And that is when I take myself back to that morning in New York … and that moment …

Yesterday night Matt and I ran the longest distance either of us ever have. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t necessarily fun, but dammit – when we were done I was so proud. I was proud of myself, and I was proud of Matt.

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home is where the humidity is

I love Michigan.

I swear.
Cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye.

I do.

You see … growing up my parents did something for my sister and I which few other parents (with the exception of the Griswold’s) ever venture to try doing. For a few weeks each summer we’d pack in to our conversion van, a la the Partridge Family, and drive cross country.

One year it was Michigan to Florida, up the coast and back home. We covered Disney, the Fountain of Youth, Charlotte, a trip to the ER in Roanoke for my sister, Washington D.C., a tour inside the White House and 5374534 museums

Another it was Michigan to Colorado, MEXICO (& yes. My family really did drive to Mexico, and no I will never do it again) and back. Included was a drive through the smelliest town in America – Ogalala, Nebraska, Rocky Mountain National Park, Pikes Peak, Albuquerque, the “Very Large Array” (aka. a very large waste of time”), Mexico border crossing, family in Tucson, Meteor Crater, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Vail.

Then there was Michigan to New York City (when the love affair began) up to Canada, back down to the States and home. Also included were stops at Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont, Montreal, Quebec City, and Bar Harbor Maine.

In addition to those long trips we have been down and back to Florida countless times, New York again, as well as the Carolina’s. I have traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Dallas, Texas on my own, and LIVED New York City – which I will discuss at a later time when I have a box of tissues handy and have prepared my love-lorn heart.

… and you see … my travels around these wonderful United States of America, as well as our lovely neighbors to the north and south, have instilled in me an appreciation for HOME more then any cruise or day at the beach could. I have been lucky enough to see more of this land then most people 3 times my age. And if I had to choose one place to live for the rest of my life – you’d bet your bottom dollar it’d be right here:

NOW …

Yes we have winter, and I hate it. Have I mentioned I loathe the snow?? Especially when it is falling in April, or worse yet May … BUT I also love waking up to a fresh blanket of fluffy snow on Christmas morning – even as an adult it is magical.

And the rain in the spring … eeeek – it can be horrific … BUT seeing the trees come back to life

and the transformation of my backyard from sleepy hallows into dense arbors is sensational.

And fall – ahhh yes fall. It is always sad seeing the landscape slowly slip into a deep sleep for the coming months … BUT It makes my heart flutter. The crispness of the air. Hearing the echos of the high school band drumline playing on a Friday night from my patio. Pulling out my favorite warm hoodie from deep within my closet and standing in a parking lot tailgating for 8 hours while drinking and eating in excess. Oh yes …

and the incredible crimson and burnt orange hues of the leaves. It is spectacular.

And finally I find myself, circa now, trapped in the dog days of a Michigan summer. Where the humidity pushes 100% by noon on most days, and you feel like you are stuck in an excruciating sauna from the moment you rise until … well until the next morning you rise, because even in slumber it doesn’t cease.

And for those of you runners who do not live in a sauna …

... running, in Michigan, in July/August is TORTURE. If I could do it naked, without getting arrested, gawked at, or harrassed, I probably would.

**Disclaimer: the following information is an honest, and gross account of my workouts!**

The sweat my body produces is ridiculous. I am dead serious. I could easily soak through 2 shirts. And my hair – ICK ICK ICK. After a run it looks like I submerged my head in water. And it doesn’t stop there! My feet (poor pedicure), behind my knees, between my boobs, EVEN MY PALMS FOLKS, are drenched! And although running on the treadmill is probably my least favorite form of exercise, in these tough times, I am often tempted to hoove it on rotating rubber in my air conditioned gym, because I JUST CAN’T TAKE THE HEAT ANYMORE. I am ready to get out of the kitchen!

And so you see … I love Michigan.

I swear.
Cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye. I do.

Great Lakes, Great Times

but on nights like the ones we’ve had lately, I wish I lived in Alaska. :)

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Vices

“My name is Brianne …”

(all together now!)
“Hi Brianne!”

“… and I am a food blog addict.”

We all have vices. You know, those practices or habits that are considered immoral, depraved or degrading in the associated society (so says wikipedia) … more commonly referred to as a bad habit (so says Brianne). For some it is over eating, shopping at the mall, cursing … drinking, smoking, gambling – yah know – sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll!!

For me, it’s food porn.

Def: Food porn is a sarcastic term variously applied to a spectacular visual presentation of cooking or eating in advertisements, infomercials, cooking shows or other visual media.

Ahhhh I said it. I’ve come clean. I can’t help it though. It is an addiction. And honestly I blame google and their nifty little tool known as google reader. At any moment I can be updated about the latest and greatest cooking creations being cooked/baked in kitchens worldwide. What began in my google reader as a few websites I liked to check on occasionally, has now spawned 106 websites which are updated in real time for me. In fact just this morning there were 263 updated food blog posts in my reader.

Some are strictly baking sights:

Others prepare only “meals”:

And then of course there are those which have giveaways on a regular basis!! In fact Pioneer Woman is well known in the blogosphere for shelling out Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers, Canon cameras, $500 Target and Home Depot gift cards and new wardrobes from Lucky Brand Jeans! (and who doesn’t LOVE free stuff):

… and this month I was lucky enough to be selected to receive a box – yes an entire box, not just one! – YouBars from Blake Makes (what a generous guy he is!) YouBars are just like what you’d think they are. Bars designed for you.

You literally choose all the ingredients that will make up your very own nutrition bar. Sweeteners, fruits, nuts, grains, protein, seasonings, chocolate … you pick! And you even get to decide how much or how little of each ingredient you want included. Best part??? … it keeps a handy dandy tool on the side of your screen with a running tally of your ingredients which calculate all the nutritional information for you as you go along!!!

And they are good people. I’m talkin’ REAL good. So take your little wandering fingers over to their website and check ‘em out … and be sure to stop by BlakeMakes too – you never know what you might me winning!

ps. Tastespotting was gone for a short time, and has since been remastered and is up and running again (although not to the same level as before). You may also want to check out foodgawker for your daily food porn needs!

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manic monday

Hello and happy Monday all! I hope you all had as enjoyable of a weekend as I did.

In the event that you have spent every moment since you awoke this morning concerning yourself with my whereabouts and the goings-ons of my life from the past 3 days – fret no more! – here are the highlights :)

Friday night was one for the record books – literally. I had my best bowling game ever (besides the 265 I had on Wii bowling – I’m still working towards that perfect game!). You heard that right, and please, please, hold your applause until you hear my score. I started off slow … *cough* 6 gutter balls in a row *cough* but by game number 3 I was on fiiiiiirrrreee.

700 Bowl for those of you who are not familiar is the locally alley in South Lyon and on Friday nights they have $15 all you can bowl from 9-midnight, shoes included. Matt and I invited Dear along to join in the festivities – plus I wasn’t up for drinking and Matt wanted a partner in crime. As the two of them quickly discovered the pseudo bartender/cashier/owner/manager/shoe polisher/mechanic has a heavy hand when it comes to pouring drinks … and as their score got progressively worse … mine got that much better and by the end of the 3rd game I had posted a 109!! Oh yes – I broke 100 for the first time in my life – Papa would be so proud! :)

By that time Casey had made his way out and they were ready to head up to the Hotel as per usual for shots, laughing and dancing. The rest of the night played out in usual hotel fashion and around 1 am I packed the boys in the car and drove them to Matt’s.

Saturday morning I rose with the sun and by 6:45 I was hitting the pavement. I had a really enjoyable run – I just love running in the morning when it is still quiet and a bit cool. I ran about 3 miles and then headed in so I could make it to my pedicure on time – priorities here people!

Now, as I mentioned previously I had never had a pedicure before in my life so this review may be skewed on account of having no prior comparison, but my pedicure??? – HEAVEN ON EARTH. Oh man. Nothing better. Visions spa is pure luxury. From the moment you arrive you are pampered. Warm shoulder wraps, comfy socks and robes, tea, snacks, etc. I am pretty sure I dozed off a handful of time just from total body relaxation. If you have the chance to have a treatment done at Visions – GO!

I spent the remainder of my morning/early afternoon relishing in the relaxation I was feeling and then it was time for the wedding. The ceremony was at the All Saints Chapel in downtown Howell. It is a wee little chapel and totally adorable. Emily looked beautiful and the ceremony was perfect. The reception was a lot of fun as well – the Naudi family never ceases to make a party! I volunteered to DD Matt, his sister and her hubby back to their house in Howell after the wedding. I really do love hanging out with the Firby’s and feel very lucky to have them in my life. We always have so much fun together (stay tuned for updates in regards to our upcoming rafting the Rifle River trip stories!) I didn’t take many pictures but here are a few!

The new Mr. & Mrs. Naudi!

… le sigh … I wish I knew how to properly work my wonderful Nikon

With the Naudi’s

The grooms Aunt and cousin who had had about enough :)

Yesterday was very low key. I went with madre to Costco for a few things and then to Randazzos … I love Randazzos, it reminds me of the Union Square Green Market in New York. The food is so fresh and cheap. I will be returning very soon! Then later in the day Matt and I went for a walk in Kensington, got some ice cream  at DQ and then wandered around the Bakers car show – as per many Sunday evenings.  We did make it to the gym for a quick workout of chest/biceps. Thankfully, Sunday is a rest day for running training – after an eventful weekend I needed last night off!

As for the rest of the today … after work I am going to look at a house which is for rent in “downtown” South Lyon – woo hoo!! I doubt anything will come of it, but I figure, why not just take a little look. After that Matt and I have a 3 mile run tonight for the training plan which we will most likely do on  the same route we used last week.

I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend as well!!

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