My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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Entries in Ann Arbor (11)


Jefferson Market and Our Wedding Cake

One of the things that I love about my neighborhood is Jefferson Market. It is a little bakery around the corner from my house, a throwback to the days when the neighborhood was peppered with small businesses among the homes. 

On Saturdays and Sundays Jefferson Market is open for brunch from ten until one. People from all over the neighborhood pour into the small bakery and seating both inside and outside quickly fills up. Frank always gets the same thing when we go, a Mount Rushmore Plate (a fantastic hash brown and egg scramble) with a side of bacon.

I, however, usually opt for one of the specials. Every month there are two new specials, one savory and one sweet. I've enjoyed everything from brie stuffed French toast to strawberry rhubarb pancakes to root vegetable hash.

When Frank and I got married last year we decided that of course we should order a cake from Jefferson Market. They offer a fantastic selection of cake flavors and fillings.

We tried a bunch of samples and really enjoyed them all, finally settling on black magic cake with salted caramel filling and buttercream icing. 

I ordered the cake and dropped off a few succulents and some navy ribbon for them to decorate the cake. When I picked up the cake I quickly snapped the picture of it below and they helped me pack up the cake for the drive up north.

Unfortunately, this is the best picture that I have of the cake at our reception, which is a shame, but it was really delicious and everyone loved it.

Since we had a tiny wedding of only fourteen guests, we served the bottom tier at the wedding and took the top tier home to freeze for our anniversary.

This past Sunday marked a year since our wedding so of course we started the day by heading over to Jefferson Market for brunch. I got one of the specials, banana walnut pancakes, while Frank ordered his standby Mount Rushmore plate with a side of bacon.

We didn't do much the rest of the day due to the fact that on my flight home from Japan on Friday I had managed to contract a nasty cold, but we did thaw out our wedding cake and enjoy a slice of it together in the evening. Honestly, I was pretty surprised that it tasted so good after a year in the freezer. 

I can't believe that a year has past since Frank and I got married. Among other things it has been a busy year for us traveling: Domincan Republic for our honeymoon, New York in the fall, Arizona and Atlanta over the winter break, Las Vegas in January, Florida to see my grandparents and go to Tigers Spring Training in February, Indianapolis for the NCAA Regional Final, our extended trip to see Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland with a stop in Amsterdam this spring plus several business trip for us both including Japan, Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle for him and twice to Japan plus Charleston, LA, Arizona, Kentucky and Northern Michigan for me. While we've had a ton of fun traveling together we've also enjoyed our time at home going to our favorite places and working on our home renovations. We both love living in Ann Arbor and taking full advantage of all the amazing things our little town has to offer together. The year has flown by quickly for us and I hope that we have many more like this one ahead...


Picture of the Day: Icicles on a Branch

Ann Arbor, Michigan


I ♥ A2: Midnight Madness

On Friday night Frank and I walked downtown after dinner for Midnight Madness where everything in Ann Arbor was open late for holiday shopping and winter festivities.

We decided to start our evening at Bill's Beer Garden, which recently opened up in October of this year and is located at the Downtown Home and Garden store. They have a small kiosk that they serve a variety of drinks from with picnic tables and chairs set out for patrons to relax with their beverages.

This weekend was the last weekend that the beer garden was open for the season and it was jam packed with people. There were a few fire pits set out to keep people warm and in addition to the normal beer and wine they had hot cider and mulled wine on the menu.

Frank had a beer and I of course had mulled wine since I was so chilly. It was a really fun and festive atmosphere and I am looking forward to going there next summer when it is warm out.

After finishing our drinks we ventured out to Main Street. Everything looked so pretty with the trees along the street festooned with white twinkle lights and all of the shops decorated for the holidays. 

The streets and shops were bustling and it was so crowded that we decided not to venture into any stores and check things out another day. The atmosphere was great and we did a walk up and back on both sides of Main Street peeking in the glass display windows. All in all it was a fun winter evening and got me into the holiday mood.

Is your town decorated for the holidays yet? Do you have any holiday fairs or events that you have been to or are coming up? Have you started your holiday shopping or are you slow like me?


Picture of the Day: Winter Berries in the Snow

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Week in Pictures: 8.27.2012

I'm two days late in posting my pictures from last week, but better late than never, right? The week was spent at home and was all about eating good food whether it was at a fancy place or from a food cart. Actually, a good portion of my life in general is devoted to eating tasty things.

Collage One, First Row
- On Tuesday night Frank and I grabbed a quick dinner at Seoul Street, which is a tiny laid back Korean restaurant in town. I am addicted to their kimchi fries. This time we got them topped with bacon.
- During lunch on Wednesday I stopped by Lowe's for a little blinds shopping for my dining room. I always laugh when people stare at me dressed up in my office clothes while I am at a home improvement store.
- Thursday night Frank and I headed to Logan for one of their wine dinners. They are an amazing local restaurant and about every two months they pick a wine region and prepare a set five course menu around wines from the region. The dinners are a huge splurge (like my whole grocery budget for a month back when I was in grad school huge) but so worth it to go a few times a year. Thursday night's theme was California wines and the first course was calamari stuffed with shrimp mousseline in a Szechuan sauce. Amazing!

Collage One, Second Row
- Possibly my favorite course of the wine dinner at Logan was the lamb kefta over a fennel pollen scented funnel cake with pickled blueberries. It was so inventive and delicious.
- Friday evening we went in the opposite direction and headed to Mark's Carts (our local food truck area) to grab dinner with some friends. I tried the banh mi sandwich from San Street and while it wasn't as tasty as the banh mi I got from street vendors in Vietnam last summer (what? no liver pâté?!?) it was still pretty good. I really liked the crisp that the daikon leant the sandwich.
- The big surprise on Friday night was that while we were hanging out at the picnic tables eating at Mark's Carts a woman sat down at the table next to me with a huge stack of hand drawn maps of Michigan. She caught me looking at them and gave me and the other girl at my table one for free. Awesome, don't you think? She said that she adapted the map from a children's book from the 1930s, updating some of the items associated with each part of the state. I can't wait to figure out a way to incorporate it into my house.

Collage Two, First Row
- Saturday night was the last Saturday in August which means only one thing in Ann Arbor: it's the last German Park of the summer. German Park is located on the outskirts of Ann Arbor and is a rec area out in the woods with a large pavilion, a bunch of picnic tables and some other small buildings. Three times a year (the last Saturday of June, July and August) they host a public picnic. Attendance is usually about 2500 people and there is always a long line to get in.
- The best thing about German Park is the food and beer. I got a bratwurst, German potato salad, spätzle and of course a pretzel. Several German beers are also on tap and sold in buckets to share with your table.
- People usually stake out their spot among the picnic tables by laying out a tablecloth. Since German Park starts at 4 pm it isn't uncommon for people to bring cards or games while hanging out. 

Collage Two, Second Row
- Another fun aspect of German Park is the dancing. There is a polka band that plays the whole time. Some choreographed dances are also performed by dancers is lederhosen and dirndl which is fun to watch, too. 
- On Sunday night Frank and I went to dinner at Frita Batidos for an eve Commemorative Dinner. Frita Batidos is a Cuban inspired restaurant run by Eve Aronoff. She also used to run a lovely restaurant in town called eve which closed a little while back. For the evening the regular fare at Frita Batidos was replaced with a seven course meal inspired by the menu from eve. I loved eating at eve so it was really fun and tasty. The first course was a duo of delicious cold soups. I especially liked the ceviche topping the avocado soup.
- My favorite course from the dinner was a seafood lasagna. It was amazing and a nice cap to a wonderful week of awesome food.  

What were you up to this past week? Do you have any fun summer festivals in your home town?


Picture of the Day: Fall Berries in the Rain




















Ann Arbor, Michigan


Reason I ♥ A2 # 48: Taste of Ann Arbor

Summertime is closing in which means it is the start of the festival season in Ann Arbor. This past Sunday was the annual Taste of Ann Arbor event which I love. Main Street is closed to traffic and restaurants from around town set up stands with two or three small samplings of dishes to showcase. You purchase blocks of tickets for $0.50 each and then items are usually between three to eight tickets.

The event is fun because you can sample a lot of different food for a great price. There is also a stage in the middle with local acts performing music for entertainment. It is a great time and the street is always packed every year.

Since I live just a few minute walk from Main Street Frank and I walked over and had fun trying a bunch of things. I enjoyed fried polenta with mushrooms from Silvio's Organic Pizza, a raspberry macaroon from Cafe Japon, an asparagus and parmesan crostini from Arbor Brewing Company and a shrimp skewer from Real Seafood. All of those were delicious but my very favorite was the fish taco I got from Black Pearl. The tortilla was perfect, the fish was wonderful and I loved the sauce. Delicious! I always head home wishing that I had more room in my stomach to try more things.

Do you have any favorite local festivals or fairs that you go to in the summer? What are your summertime favorites?


Coming Home to the U.S.

Today marks three years since I moved back to the U.S. from Japan. That spring and summer of 2009 was a really difficult adjustment for me. Moving over to Japan was hard but moving back home was even harder.

When I first went to Japan I was nervous and lonely. Everything was new and foreign, but I had expected to have culture shock so I was mentally prepared. Mixed in with my frustrations was the excitement of exploring new places and meeting amazing people from around the world which helped balance things out. The wonderful expats I met were going through the same experiences and emotions as I was and they enriched my time in Japan while making me feel I wasn't alone.

Repatriation was a completely different story and the reverse culture shock hit me hard. After living in Japan for over a year I was used to my life over there. Upon returning to the U.S. I was quite disoriented and everything that was supposed to seem familiar seemed odd. On empty roads without the cues from other cars driving I would find myself on the left side of the road. I was used to everything and everyone being tightly packed together in Japan and back in Ann Arbor the open spaces seemed strange and the relative scarcity of people made me feel like I was moving through a ghost town. In Japan when people were talking in Japanese I could only understand them if I was concentrating on listening. In the U.S. with everyone speaking English I could understand passing conversations again and it felt surreal, like I was reading people's minds. I felt like a foreigner in my home culture which was really unnerving and I was completely unprepared for it.

At work I was off balance readjusting to American business culture. In Japan I was used to music playing at exactly noon and again at exactly one o'clock to signal the start and end of lunch. No one gets up from their desk before the music and everyone is sure to be back in their seat before it plays again. The music was so ingrained in me that back in the U.S. I would not realize it was lunchtime and look up from my work at 12:15 to see an empty office. To add to my confusion I came back to a new group with a new boss and my company had built and moved to a new location while I was gone. I didn't know where anything was and didn't know my way around anymore. Nothing was familiar.

In my personal life not only had I changed as a person since I went away, but the world I left behind had also changed in my absence. My best friend had moved back to California and the guy I was dating before I left and I had broken up while I was in Japan. Several other of my Ann Arbor friends had also moved away or had started families and didn't have much free time available anymore. The guy that I started dating at the end of my time in Japan came to visit me, but the literal ocean between us made things really hard and we broke up not too long after. My ex-husband married a former friend of mine that summer and although the divorce had been two years prior and I had healed and moved on, hearing the news reopened some old wounds. I felt completely lost and alone.

I was in a bad place and craved the company of my good friends so I spent many of my weekends visiting my friends around the country. I hadn't seen any of them since I had come back on my home leave the previous October and it was great to spend time with them and be around people who knew me well and loved me. As wonderful as it was seeing all these special people in my life, it meant that by not being around Ann Arbor I wasn't doing anything to rebuild my life here and I needed to do something about it. 

Even though I just wanted to lay in bed and read (my typical escape when I can't deal with the world) I started making myself get out of the house and do things that I enjoyed, even though it was by myself. I wandered around the Art Fairs and the other festivals that close down Main Street in the summer. I walked up to Washtenaw Dairy for ice cream cones that I would eat while sitting on the rocker of my front porch. I renewed my membership to the Michigan Theater and went to the movies, eating big vats of popcorn and listening to the Wurlitzer organ before the show. I brought my books to Sweetwater's Coffee & Tea and hung out there to read. My friendship with Trisha (who I met in Japan and also moved back to Southeast Michigan) evolved to fit U.S. life after we repatriated and was something I relied on to help me cope since she knew first hand the difficulties of moving home. Slowly, I got to know some new people at work and I made some new local friends. In time, I fell in love with my life in Ann Arbor again, just as I had fallen in love with my life in Japan.

Living in Japan taught me a lot about myself, but in some ways moving home taught me even more. I was lucky to be able to live overseas and am even luckier to have such a wonderful place to call home in the U.S. Change is always hard and on more than one occasion I have lamented the fact that several times in my life due to moving and other personal circumstances I've had to start over. Looking back, however, these "restarts," including moving back to the U.S., have given me the gift of forcing me to reevaluate who and what I want to be. From each of these transition periods in my life I decided which things from my experiences I wanted to keep and what I should let go. It has made me a better person and for that I am grateful. 


Reason I ♥ A2 # 18: The Ravens Club Brunch

Frank and I love to go out for brunch on the weekend and Ann Arbor is not lacking in wonderful options. One of the places that I really love is The Ravens Club. They have a fabulous brunch menu that never disappoints. They have awesome omelettes and if you are in the mood, the best Bloody Mary in town.

The Ravens Club also has a wonderful beef hash with heirloom potatoes topped with a poached duck egg. My very favorite brunch option there has to be the lamb and pork belly cabbage rolls with basmati rice. It is a wonderful combination of comfort food with a fun twist. Yum!

If you ever find yourself in good old Ann Arbor town on a Sunday morning, try visiting The Ravens Club. You won't be disappointed!

If you are interested, check out the other reasons I love Ann Arbor here: I ♥ A2 Blog Posts


Reason I ♥ A2 # 24: Ron's Roadside Barbecue

Having gone to undergrad in North Carolina I really love good pulled pork. After moving upon graduation it's something that I definitely crave partly because it is delicious and partly because it reminds me of my college years. Sadly, outside of the South I haven't had much luck in finding good pulled pork.

Yesterday that all changed when Frank and I decided to try Ron's Roadside Barbecue. It's in Ann Arbor Township outside of town in the middle of nowhere. A small place, mainly geared toward catering and take-out, Ron's did have a single table inside so we thought we would eat in.

Of course I chose to get a pulled pork sandwich. It was amazing with tender pork and delicious sauce on a brioche bun. I can honestly say it was the best I have had outside of the South. Frank decided to get the Memphis Throwdown, a combo with pulled pork, smoked brisket, ribs and chicken. It was absolutely huge and I think he only ate half of it. All of the meat was tender and juicy he thoroughly enjoyed it. For sides we got the amazingly creamy mac and cheese and delicious German potato salad.

In addition to the fabulous food, everyone who worked there was wonderfully friendly. The owner even popped out from the back to see if we were enjoying the food and stopped to chat with us for a while. Needless to say we will be back and I happy to have found some place local to satisfy my pulled pork cravings. 

If you are intereseted, check out the other reasons that I love where I live: I ♥ A2 Blog Posts