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 Michigan (24)


Three Teams in Nine Days

Frank has been an avid sports fan ever since he was a young little guy. His very first love was Detroit Tigers baseball with University of Michigan football and basketball being added to his list of favorites shortly thereafter. By middle school he was avidly following the teams and has ever since. This year through a freak alignment of schedules we got to see all three of Frank's favorite teams in a nine day span at the end of March and beginning of April.

The streak began with a trip down to Indianapolis to the Midwest Regional of the NCAA Basketball Tournament to see Michigan play Tennessee. We took Friday afternoon off work and drove to Indianapolis getting there a few hours before the game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

We had nosebleed seats for the game but couldn't care less as long as we were there. Michigan was soundly beating Tennessee in the first half but in the second half Tennessee mounted quite an amazing comeback that had us on the edge of our seats. Thankfully, in the end Michigan held them off to win the game 73-71 and advance to the next round of the tournament.

Two days later we were walking to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch the Michigan-Kentucky game when we were stopped by a fellow Michigan fan. He had a pair of extra tickets that he got from work so he didn't feel right selling them but wanted to give them to another Michigan fan. The tickets were in the sixteenth row in the corner and we were excited to have such luck.

The game was really amazing with every possession quite exciting as the teams battled it out. The game was tied 72-72 near the end of regulation but Kentucky made a three with only 2.6 seconds left on the clock. Michigan made a heroic effort at a final play but when the clock ran out Kentucky won 75-72.

Although we were sad about the Michigan not making the Final Four we didn't mourn the loss too long. We drove back to Ann Arbor from Indianapolis on Sunday night after game and took the day off from work on Monday to see the Tigers play the Royals on opening day at Comerica Park with our friends, Tarek and Haneen.

We headed downtown early to hang out and get chicken shawarmas at Budapest Grill before the game. It was a beautiful day after the long winter and the game was great. Victor Martinez hit a home run in his very first at bat of the season. At the bottom of the ninth the game was tied 3-3 when Alex Gonzalez hit a walk off single for the Tigers to win the game 4-3. It was a fun way to kick off the baseball season. 

On Saturday it was time for the Michigan football spring game where fans can go to Michigan Stadium to watch the team practice and scrimmage. For Frank this means an excuse to have a spring tailgate and we had a small tailgate before the game. Frank also decided that this meant he needed another grill (a small traveling grill) which now brings our grill count up to five. Doesn't every family need a 2.5 grill per capita ratio?

The game itself wasn't terribly exciting but it was fun to catch up with the other tailgaters and hang out in the sun in the stands of Michigan Stadium. Spring has barely begun but Frank is ready for the fall and football season already.

All in all Frank was like a kid in a candy store seeing all of his team play this spring. He is all set for the Tigers to have a great summer and win the World Series followed by having Michigan football win the Big Ten this fall. I hope he is right!


Michigan Tailgate Cake: Beat Ohio

Saturday was the last Michigan football game of the regular season playing against arch rivals, OSU. For the tailgate cake I baked a chocolate cake and iced it with buttercream icing that I tinted maize. I kept things simple and decided to decorate the top with the phase "Beat Ohio".

To make the words I rolled out some blue marshmallow fondant and traced around a bowl to make a circle just smaller than the cake. I then cut away a line across the middle to make the top and bottom lines for the words. I then trimmed away three vertical lines leaving me with eight blocks for my letters. I then cut each block into a letter to spell out "Beat Ohio". I finished up the cake by transferring the fondant letters onto the cake and piping a border of blue stars along the base of the cake.

Kickoff for the game was a noon so we had a short but fun tailgate. As is tradition for the last home tailgate of the year we ate filet mignon provided by Gus and grilled by Frank. Frank also made an awesome crab bearnaise to accompany the steaks.

For the week prior to the game everyone had Michigan pegged as a huge underdog. Ohio was undefeated and ranked #3 in the country while Michigan's season had been lackluster. The game, however, ended up being very exciting as opposed to the blowout that had been predicted. Michigan scored first and at the half it was tied 21-21. Things looked a bit bleak in the second half when Michigan was down by 14 but they rallied and with less than a minute left they scored a touchdown to bring the score to 41-42. Michigan went for a two point conversion but it was intercepted basically ending the game. It was a great game, but I wish that things had worked out a little better for Michigan.

My Duke Blue Devils had an exciting day on Saturday, beating rivals UNC. The Duke-UNC game was at the same time as Michigan-OSU so the whole game I was continuously checking my phone for Duke updates. With the win Duke ended the regular season with their best record, 10-2, and will head to the ACC Championship game this Saturday against Florida State. Go Blue Devils!


Michigan Tailgate Cake: Winged Helmet Cake

On Saturday Michigan played Nebraska and Frank's tailgate theme for the week was Soups and Stews since the weather here has gotten a little chilly. I couldn't figure out a way to easily translate that into a cake so I decided to make a cake inspired by Michigan's iconic winged helmet for the tailgate.

I used a two layer chocolate cake recipe with the Wilton Helmet Pan to make the cake. I used some thinned white buttercream icing for a crumb layer and then used white icing to create a background behind the facemask and ear hole. I sketched out the lines for the wings with some icing and once I was happy with the shape I filled it in with maize and blue icing with a #16 star tip. I finished the helmet off by piping the facemask with some extra whipped chocolate ganache from the chocolate chili cupcakes I had made the day before. The facemask of the Wolverines' helmet is actually blue but I didn't think it would show up very well on the cake if I made it blue plus I think it is a crime to waste leftover chocolate ganache.

The tailgate was a lot of fun. It was a bit chilly but the sun was out most of the day and there was no miserable rain like two weeks prior at the Indiana game. Frank made his cheddar sausage soup which was perfect to keep everyone warm.

The game, however, was not so much fun to watch. Michigan played pretty poorly and for the second week in a row had negative rushing yards. They pulled ahead in the fourth quarter but Nebraska had a touchdown late in the game to seal their 17-13 win over Michigan. Hopefully the Wolverines fare better next week at Northwestern. Go Blue!

On a positive side note, my beloved Duke Blue Devils had a pretty good weekend with the football team beating NC State and the basketball team trouncing Davidson. The football team is now 7-2 which guarantees them a winning record which will be a first since 1994. I watched the basketball game on TV and all I can say is that Jabari Parker is awesome and I am looking forward to a great season. Go Duke! 


Michigan Tailgate Cake: Under the Lights II

This past Saturday Michigan played Notre Dame in Under the Lights II. Two years ago, Michigan Football had their first ever night game where they played Notre Dame in a game called Under the Lights. For that game I recreated the logo for the tailgate so I thought that I would do the same thing with the new logo for this game's tailgate cake.

I made a two layer chocolate buttermilk cake and iced it with buttercream icing. To recreate the logo I printed a copy of it scaled to fit the top of the cake. I then cut out the elements and traced around them on rolled out marshmallow fondant.

The letters were too small and difficult to do like that so I cut a rectangle shape that was the size of each of the letters and then free hand cut each letter from the rectangle. This made sure that they were all the correct height and width. I am not going to lie, this was pretty time consuming but in the end I think it turned out really cool and was worth the effort.

Frank made food poking fun at Notre Dame including chicken hash (since Michigan's head coach Brady Hoke said that Notre Dame was chicken for backing out of the annual match up after next year) and fried catfish sandwiches (in reference to former Notre Dame star Manti Te'o getting catfished last year).

Frank started tailgating by 8 am which meant that he was out there for twelve hours before the game. I felt that showing up in the afternoon for five hours of tailgating was more than sufficient. As always we had a lot of fun, hanging out and of course eating.

The game had an 8 pm kickoff but before the game Michigan Football legend, Tom Harmon, was honored. After a video highlight film his son, Mark Harmon (of NCIS fame), spoke as they added a legends patch to the 98 jersey that Tom Harmon wore.

The sun had just set when the team entered the field. During the first half Michigan was pretty dominant not allowing Notre Dame to get a first down on their first two possessions and ending the half up by two touchdowns.

Throughout the game during timeouts different Michigan sporting figures were recognized including the 2012-13 basketball team that made it to the National Championship game in April and 1960s basketball star, Cazzie Russell.

At halftime the Michigan Marching band performed a medley of Beyonce's songs with a video message from her prior to them taking the field. Before the game blue LED wrist bands had been passed out to fans so when they dimmed the lights for the halftime show it was cool to see the pinpoints of blue light throughout the stadium.

The second half was a little tough to watch as Michigan made some errors that looked like they were trying to give the game back to Notre Dame. In the end, however, the team pulled out a 41-30 win over Notre Dame.

It was a very long but fun day. Luckily next week the kickoff against Akron is at noon!


Michigan Tailgate Cake: Luau Theme

Saturday was the Michigan Football season opener so of course we were tailgating bright and early. Frank has not missed a Michigan Football game (home or away) since 1999 so if I want to see him it the fall I am out tailgating and cheering with him.

Frank's tailgates are pretty involved with a large number of people and ridiculous amounts of food and a theme, of course. This week was a luau theme so I made a pineapple cake with coconut cream cheese icing. To decorate the cake I used marshmallow fondant to make a Block M and then made a little hibiscus flower to go with the luau theme.

Frank featured foods with lots of pork for the luau tailgate starting with a pork hash with bacon in the morning and a suckling pig and ribs in the afternoon.

With a 3:30 kickoff against Central Michigan, we had a nice long tailgate. Several people wore blue and yellow Hawaiian shirts for the theme and there were a lot of leis as well. It was really great to see a bunch of the other tailgaters that we don't get to often see in the off season.

The game itself was pretty relaxing because Michigan pretty handily dealt with Central winning the game 59-9. Although watching exciting, nail biting games is fun, sometimes it is great to just sit back and watch your team dominate. It was a nice way to kick off the 2013 football season.

Next week Notre Dame!


Picture of the Day: View Out to Lake Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan


We're Married!

Frank and I got married on Saturday! We had a tiny wedding (only 16 people including ourselves) and everything turned out wonderfully. The wedding was at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay and it was the perfect venue for us. We not only had the wedding and reception there but we and all of our guests also stayed at the Inn. It was really great because we all got to spend a lot of time together and have a relaxing, fun weekend.

Everyone arrived at different times on Friday and several of us walked up to the tasting room for wine tasting, which is complimentary for guests at the Inn. Frank and I ended up later buying a bottle of the pear and the apple brandy as mementos of our wedding.

From 5:30 to 6:30 we enjoyed a wine and cheese reception at the Inn and then we all headed to Traverse City for an 8:00 dinner at the Towne Plaza. The food was fantastic and everyone had a great time chatting and getting to know other guests that they hadn't met before. After dinner we ended up hanging outside on the verandah behind the Inn chatting until late before calling it a night. 

On Saturday we had a wonderful breakfast at the Inn and then while the guys went off on a fishing charter for the day the ladies headed for a little sightseeing at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore followed by lunch in Glen Arbor.

At 4:30 my girlfriends and sister did my hair and makeup and we had fun getting ready together. At 6:00 we had our ceremony in a pretty grassy little area behind the inn. It was short, but meaningful to us and it couldn't have been more perfect. We took pictures while we had cocktails and appetizers and then had dinner at 7:30. We all sat at one long table and it was so much fun to be able to have conversations going that involved all of our guests. We had to leave the reception room at 10:00 but then we all changed and headed to the lounge/bar area of the Inn and hung out for a few more hours.

On Sunday morning we had breakfast at the Inn and then said our goodbyes as everyone left for the airport or packed up into cars to drive home. It was really a fantastic weekend for us and just what Frank and I had envisioned for our wedding celebration. I'm not one to be very lovey-dovey in public but I will say that Frank is pretty much the most super awesome person on the planet and I feel like the luckiest lady alive to get to spend my life with him. Now I'm ready for our honeymoon!


March Madness

March has not been the best month for me. Halfway through our vacation in Cartagena at the beginning of the month I got really sick. I was laid out for a day and then could only go out for a few hours at a time before I needed a rest. It was really frustrating but on the positive side it did force me to have a relaxing vacation, which is not something that I am exactly known for.

It took about two weeks for me to start feeling better and then I got hit with a terrible cold that I am just now starting to get over. Feeling under the weather for the past three weeks has been really frustrating because going to work has taken everything out of me so all of my energy is gone by the time I get home. As a result I have done very little outside of work with one notable exception; Frank and I went to the first two Michigan games in the NCAA Tournament last weekend.

Let me back up a bit and say that I love the NCAA Tournament. I went to Duke for undergrad and it is just about impossible to graduate without becoming a fan of college basketball. To me college basketball is so much more fun to watch than professional and nothing is better than the NCAA Tournament. Every year there is so much excitement: great match-ups, Cinderella stories, upsets and players leaving everything they have on the court.

After the bracket comes out on selection Sunday I always fill out my bracket in the same method every year. First, I fill in Duke to win all of their match-ups culminating in the National Championship. I have never filled out a bracket without having Duke win it all, no matter how their season is going. It just seems like it would be traitorous so I go with my heart.

Once I put Duke all the way through I go back and fill in the rest of my bracket, making sure to pick at least one 5-12 upset. This year I picked two, Oregon (because I think they were totally underrated as a 12 seed) and UC Berkeley (because I went there for grad school so I am a little biased). Overall, my bracket so far is not doing so hot as I overestimated Indiana and New Mexico. The best I can do in the pool I am in at this point is fourth if Duke wins it all, Michigan makes it to the Final Four and Ohio State loses tonight. Here's where my bracket stands after the Elite Eight.

This year Duke was playing their first two games in Philadelphia, but Michigan was playing only an hour away from Ann Arbor. Frank has loved Michigan basketball since he was a little kid and I've adopted them as my second favorite team (after Duke!) so it was a no brainer for us to go to the games.

The first game on Thursday night was against South Dakota State and although Michigan won, they weren't playing their best basketball so we were a little worried about the next game on Saturday against VCU. Michigan played one of their best games of the year on Saturday and ended up blowing out VCU to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. It was really fun to be at the game, especially since this was Michigan's first Sweet Sixteen berth since 1994.

Meanwhile, Duke played on Friday and Sunday, handily beating Albany and Creighton to also advance to the Sweet Sixteen. We have casual Friday at work so I dug up one of my old Duke basketball shirts from my undergrad days to wear for good luck and it seemed to have worked.

In the next round, Michigan was in Arlington but Duke was only a five hour drive away in Indianapolis. We had Friday off from work so we debated going to see Duke play, but still feeling ill I wasn't up to the drive so we just stayed home this weekend and watched the games on TV.

On Friday night Michigan played Kansas first and it was quite a game. Kansas was pretty dominant for most of the game. With 2:19 left in the game Michigan was down by 10 points and a loss looked certain. Michigan went on a tear at this point and Trey Burke hit a three pointer to tie up the game with only a few seconds left on the clock which drove the game into overtime. Michigan dominated overtime and pulled out a win to make it to the Elite Eight. It was a heart pounding game and so much fun to watch.

Duke then played Michigan State with the game being pretty even throughout the first half. At the beginning of the second half Duke pulled away and never let up, winning the game by ten. It was not the most exciting game, but after nearly having a heart attack watching the Michigan game I was glad to just sit back and enjoy my Blue Devils win.


I'm so happy that both my teams made it to the Elite Eight. Here's hoping that they both move on to the Final Four with wins tomorrow (and that I am feeling better soon)!


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?