Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Fawn in the Garden

We may live in a subdivision, but in Michigan, that is no guarantee of safety from deer. In fact, it seems as if suburbs attract deer -- so many delicious gardens to choose from! Nevertheless, I am enchanted with the fawn who has taken up residence next to our irises.
Fawn in the Garden
Fawn in the Garden
My father used my camera to take pictures of this little guy before he ran away; I came back from grocery shopping to some super cute photos! He's come back a couple times since then, so we know his mama must be around somewhere.

It's one of those moments that helps you remember how perfect (and downright cute) life can be, even when it seems like things are falling apart.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

El Azteco

The Most Interesting Men in the World
Mom+Beer
Mom+Me
Roof at El Azteco
A couple days before James went back to Salt Lake, we had another wonderful day. He'd been wanting to see the new Captain America, and although I'm more of an Iron Man fan myself (how are we together?) I was happy to tag along. I say tag along, because James hatched this plan with my oldest friend J at the bar the night before, while I was getting us a basket of popcorn.

Sidenote: J and James have really bonded, mostly over their mutual love for things I don't understand (science). James is such an important part of my life, so it puts a smile on my face when other people I love appreciate him, too.

Anyway, we went to Captain America. I liked it, although it's been out for a while now and you probably didn't need me to tell you it's good! Afterwards, my family had planned to go out for dinner in East Lansing, so J came with us.

El Azteco is the best Mexican joint in East Lansing. In the summer you can sit out on the roof, so we did! It was the perfect night -- clear skies, not too hot, plenty of cold drinks, friends, and family. Plus, they serve Huevos Rancheros for dinner! I'm a firm believer that eggs for lunch and dinner are just as good, if not better, than eggs for breakfast.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beach Day

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Beach at Grand Haven
Beach Selfie
We had planned to finish off our roadtrip through New York with two nights in Buffalo, but after a whole week of moving out and moving around, it suddenly seemed like a much better idea to just spend one. So we came back to Mittenland a day earlier than planned, and it was such a feeling of relief.

This was James's third visit to Michigan with me, but he had yet to see the west coast. So on Sunday we headed out for a day of fun around Grand Rapids. We spent the morning on the beach, which was beautiful -- sunny and warm, as long as you kept out of the water! I even managed to avoid a serious sun burn, which almost never happens.

After lounging around, talking and reading and walking on the shore a little bit, we grabbed some lunch and then took a nice long afternoon bike ride. I hadn't been on a bicycle since last summer, so it was a little rough for me, but I had to get back into the swing of things somehow, right? Then we met my cousin and her fiance for dinner at Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids, a restaurant and brewery we can highly recommend!

We were exhausted and a little pink by the time we got back home, but the day was well worth it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Library Inspiration

Vassar College Library
Vassar College Library
Vassar College Library
The library at Vassar College is a sight to be seen. It looks like a castle inside and out. I never studied much in the library at Smith -- there were a few lovely places, but I usually spent most of my time there tracking down political science books in the sub-basement, which isn't all that lovely.

It was interesting to mark the reaction from other students, including the one whose college recently chose to move all books out of the library and into a storage location. We all agreed we would have preferred what Vassar has done with the place.

Someday, I would like to have a library of my own, with lots of windows and shelves upon shelves of books. Until then, I'm going to look back at these pictures and dream about it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Carnival

Carnival Selfie
Carnival
Carnival
A few weeks ago James and I went to our first carnival. There was an abundance of beer and hard cider, several rides (which made the beer/cider seem like a questionable idea) and a really great DJ.

James and I don't often fight. When we do, it's almost always because we don't communicate very well over skype and text message, and it's usually pretty easy to resolve when we see each other in person again. But a couple hours before we took these pictures, we got into one of those rare arguments that started and ended in person.

I hate fighting with him, but we agreed as we went to bed that night that our argument had made the day better. We fought clean, started to understand what was bothering each other, and actually changed our behavior. So although it was the worst hour of the entire day, it made that day one of the best in a long time. James likes to experience the best and the worst in a day like that. I would usually rather not have the worst at all. But in this case, I'm really glad I did.

Here's to carnivals and communication! Hope you have a wonderful week with some of both.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Roadtrip Upstate

James graduated!
James' graduation
He had a lovely ceremony and we were able to spend a lot of time with his family, friends, and professors; it was everything a graduation day should be.

About mid afternoon, though, reality started to sink back in. We had no time to waste, finishing to pack up his apartment and move him out by the following morning. Stressful and emotional of course, but we got him out in the end. Then it was time to leave.
Skaneateles
Skaneateles
A little while ago James was accepted to a graduate program upstate, not too far from what you might call my ancestral homeland -- my mother grew up near Syracuse. I've been wanting to introduce James to my family there, so we decided to extend our trip back to Michigan, spending time with my family in New York and looking around the school he was considering. After leaving Poughkeepsie, we overnighted in Schenectady, Baldwinsville, and Buffalo before taking the plunge through Canada and back to the middle of the mitten.
Upstate landscape
Upstate landscape
Upstate landscape
We took the scenic route for some of this time, so I could show James the house my mother grew up in. When I was younger it was also the house that I wanted to inherit, finish, and turn into a kind of family estate and reunion point someday. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way, but I guess my hopes and dreams have changed since then.

What hasn't changed is my love for this area. The rolling hills, the greenery, the lakes, the tiny little towns that exemplify New England. I'm about ready to be done with Massachusetts (for a little while, anyway. As an alumna of Smith I'll never really be finished with Mass.) but I doubt I will ever get to that point with New York.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sunset in Poughkeepsie

Sunset in Poughkeepsie

Sunset in Poughkeepsie
So this probably isn't much of a post, honestly. A panorama of a sunset taken from a Stop n Shop parking lot in Poughkeepsie? I'm willing to admit that this is not ideal. In my defense, though, I had been exclaiming about this sunset from the moment we got into the car until the moment we got out of it. At which point the ever patient James just turned to me and said "Do you want to take a photo?"

Yes. Yes, I did.

Of course it doesn't quite do it justice, but that's okay. I can't remember the last time I saw every color of the rainbow in a sunset.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Swordfish Bruschetta

Swordfish
Swordfish bruschetta bread
Swordfish bruschetta

A few weeks ago, during the week of limbo when I had a bachelor's degree and James didn't, we went grocery shopping and noticed swordfish on sale for about half price. We don't typically cook much with fish, as it's so expensive, but we snapped up those steaks immediately and decided they would be the centerpiece of a celebratory grad dinner (never mind that he hadn't quite finished up all his work yet).

Of course, we hadn't planned on picking up swordfish, so we had some recipe searching to do. We were just about to settle on swordfish with mango salsa when James saw this video in the sidebar of allrecipes.com. The plan changed immediately.

This recipe is super easy and not difficult to tweak a little bit (as we did). It's also delicious and incorporates all the food groups, so there's no need for side dishes!

Ingredients:
Swordfish steaks (we had about 1/2 pound steak each, but that's probably overkill!)
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Crusty bread (multigrain is great for this)
Olive oil
Garlic

Cherry tomatoes (as many as you want)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Fresh basil

Notes:
Cut thick slices of bread and brush them with olive oil. If you're using a grill, go ahead and toss them on. If not, put them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.

While the bread is toasting, brush your swordfish all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put it into a frying pan on medium high heat. About 4 minutes a side should be enough. Afterwards, put it on a plate and let it rest under some aluminum foil until you need it.

While the swordfish cooks and the bread toasts, get your bruschetta ready. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and toss them with a generous amount of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and ribbons of basil leaves. Let it sit so the juices can mingle.

When the bread comes out of the oven/off the grill, rub it with garlic for a little extra flavor and divide it among your plates in as much of a swordfish steak shape as possible. Gently lay the swordfish on top, and then spoon over the tomato mixture, including plenty of juice to soften up the bread. Leave the plates for about half an hour so the flavors can mingle and the bread can absorb the juices and flavors. Then dig in!

Swordfish bruschetta
Swordfish bruschetta
Swordfish bruschetta
Swordfish bruschetta

It's beautiful, and it tastes just as good as it looks!

Swordfish bruschetta

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Ivy Day Dress: DIY

I mentioned before how Smith's Ivy Day celebration is essentially a sea of white. What I didn't mention is how difficult it can be to find a white outfit for it. I had some friends who left it to the very last minute. Personally, I had my dress years ago, but it needed some modifications before I could wear it. It would be hard, if not impossible, to replicate as a DIY, but I think it definitely constitutes some inspiration. Here we go!
Ivy Day Dress Before
Ivy Day Dress Before
Ivy Day Dress Before
Here's the original dress. My mother wore it as a bridesmaid back in the mid 80s, so it had seen more fashionable days. Look at those ruffles! I was almost reluctant to take them off -- they had certain angles that really worked. I do like the end result better than the high fashion Elizabethan gown look, though.

First, I hemmed the skirt, basically taking the bottom and sewing it into the seam at the waist. This required some pleating, which can be difficult, but gave it a really voluminous look that I loved. It also limited the measuring required and totally eliminated the need to take scissors to the cloth, always a plus in my book.
Ivy Day Dress DIY
After that, it was a matter of removing the ruffles with a rip-n-picker. I was already pretty pleased with how the dress looked at that point, but I wasn't crazy about the idea of going strapless all day. Fortunately, I happened to have an old spool of ribbon that was the perfect color and texture to make new straps for it.
Ivy Day Dress DIY
Ivy Day Dress DIY
I did all the sewing by hand while watching adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Emma on my laptop. I spent about a day planning and executing the project -- it was a lot easier than I expected and it has given me the confidence to tackle some other items in my closet that need some attention!
Ivy Day Dress DIY
And here's the finished product accessorized with a rose and one of my favorite belts! It turned out exactly as I had envisioned. I can't wait to take on more experiments like this.
Ivy Day Dress DIYIvy Day Dress DIY

Friday, June 6, 2014

Commencement

Smith Commencement
Smith Commencement
Smith Commencement
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
Smith Commencement Photos
So. I graduated.

Smith's commencement was the subject of some scrutiny and controversy this year after our original speaker, Christine Lagarde, withdrew, and was replaced by Ruth Simmons, a former president of both Smith and Brown. I was sick of this issue as soon as it became one, so all I can say is I am happy to have had a commencement ceremony no one felt the need to protest and disappointed that I lost the chance to hear words of wisdom from one of the most powerful women in the world.

Moving on.

It was another emotional, exhausting day. Smith's commencement involves a lot more pomp and circumstance than any I've ever been to, and I mean that literally. The graduates march in two lines, create a path for the faculty to march through, and then march into their seats. This, as you may imagine, is somewhat time consuming, but I appreciated it much more than I anticipated, especially since it allows the faculty to line the path for the graduates as we leave the ceremony. All the people who have taught me the most and been so important to me over the last four years were there to hug me, shake my hand, or give me a high five.

Skimming over some of Smith's sillier traditions (I'm looking at you, diploma circle!), some of my friends and I headed over to the Grecourt Gates. It's common knowledge at Smith that walking through the gates before your commencement is bad luck. Depending on who you ask, it could result in a failure to graduate, a failure to marry, or both. I'm not terribly superstitious, but I will admit to giving the Grecourt Gates a wide berth until the day I graduated. Better safe than sorry, right?

Saying good bye was the most difficult, and unfortunately I didn't get the opportunity with a number of my friends. I'm confident I will see them again, but I also know that it will be a while. Soon we will be spread all over the country -- perhaps all over the world -- and that makes reunions more difficult. Still, I've been so lucky to call these women my friends for the past four years, and I look forward to many, many more years of that privilege.