Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's Been Too Long....

It's been forever since I last updated my blog; my life has been an absolute whirlwind...a nutty, crazy whirlwind. Rotations started in August and near killing hard and so time consuming! However, that's not what today's post is about....I have some good news: BRANDON AND I ARE ENGAGED!!!!!!

We had been planning to attend a Red Wing's game for a while and it worked out that we could go yesterday. We planned to meet our friends, Chris and Kristin in Detroit for the game and grab some dinner after the game. Brandon threw me for a bit of a loop during the day and mentioned that I should dress up because dinner would be fancy; I'll be honest, I freaked out a bit because I had NOTHING to wear...such a snot, I know. Anyway, I figured out an outfit and we were off.

We met Chris and Kristin at the arena and Kristin mentioned that she forgot about work the next morning, and they couldn't join us for dinner. Brandon said we would go anyway, and that his friend, Tim (who works in downtown Detroit), had made a reservation for us at 10:30. The game was great and the final score was 8-2, in favor of the Wings.

We drove to the Renaissance Center and headed in for dinner at a restaurant called the Coach Insignia. It was stunning! It was on the 72nd floor and the whole restaurant is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows that looks over the river. We could see all the lights of Canada while big, fat snowflakes floated past the windows. The food was phenomenal and the ambiance was perfect: low lights, decorated for Christmas and quiet Christmas music playing in the background.

After dinner, Brandon suggested we see Tim's office on the 55th floor before we left the building. We got off the elevator and all we could see were hotel rooms. I mentioned that he might have the wrong floor, but he kept going, saying that it was up ahead. A few doors down, we came to a room with the door ajar; he started to go in and I had a fit thinking he was going into someone else's room. He opened the door and I walked into a room filled with roses, candles and a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of all the lights of Canada.
He pulled out a ring from his pocket, told me he has known for a very long time that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was so surprised; I had no idea it was coming! I of course said YES!

We stayed in Detroit last night, and today he had part 2 of my engagement surprise; we drove to Midland and stopped at the Tridge. We walked over the first arm of the bridge and he stopped, pulled out a lock and handed it to me. Engraved on the lock was our names, the date of our engagement and the word "forever." He had talked with my Mom about doing something special to make the day that much more memorable and she mentioned a river in Paris where lovers place a lock on the bridge on the river and throw the key into water for good luck. Well, his idea was to hide our lock on the Tridge and throw the keys into the water below. 

I feel so lucky to have found such a thoughtful, sweet, caring man and can't wait to marry my best friend. Let the planning begin!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Niagara Vacation Day 3: Niagara Falls, Canada

We got up the next morning, packed up, checked out and headed back across the bridge to Canada. We parked the car and headed out to Clifton Street, the main strip in the area. We went to a wax museum of movie stars, and then walked down to the walkway along the falls. The view was spectacular! From there, we headed up toward the hotels and casino in the area to find a place for lunch. Along the way, we noticed the casino was offering a show that evening: Le Grand Cirque. It looked like it would be similar to Cirque de Soleil and we both have always wanted to see that, so we bought tickets. We grabbed lunch, headed back to the car and then made our way to the hotel. We got a free upgrade to a top floor room with a falls view....gorgeous! We checked into the room and took a quick nap. That evening, we had dinner and went to our show; it was very similar to Cirque de Soleil like we thought: acrobatics, feats of strength and types of dance. It was incredible! After the show, we got chocolate shakes at the Hershey store and headed back to the room. The view of the falls was so beautiful; they light up the falls at night so they were a mix of blues, greens, purples and reds. Perfect end to a busy, busy day.

 The view of the Falls from the Canadian side

 The Casino where we saw the show
 The views from our hotel room

The next morning, yesterday, we packed up and started our long drive back to Michigan. We stopped back in Hamilton to go to the beach again for a bit and round of putt-putt golf. We finally got back over the border around 6pm last night. We were pooped; we crammed a lot of stuff in those four days. We had so much fun: beautiful weather, gorgeous sites, lots of entertainment....all in all, a great trip!

Niagara Vacation Day 2: Niagra Falls, NY

The next morning, we drove back into the States over the Rainbow Bridge. We bought an "adventure pass" that allowed us to do five attractions in the state park: Maid of the Mist tour, Cave of the Winds walk into the falls, Imax movie about the falls, Niagara Aquarium, and the Niagara Gorge Museum. We also purchased trolley tickets that provided a scenic ride all over the park. That evening, we checked into our hotel, showered and cleaned up and headed over to the Canada side of the falls for dinner, some adventure golf and a ferris wheel ride. We then headed back to the NY side and to our hotel for the night.

 On the observation deck above the falls

 On the Maid of the Mist boat

 Heading back from the falls
 In front of American Falls
 In our ponchos for the Cave of the Winds walk into the falls
 Walking up into the powerful!
 Modeling our free sandals from the Cave of the Winds
 Comfy sandals!

 Lunch at the top of the falls
 In the aquarium
 The best Adventure golf ever!

 In the Sky Wheel overlooking the falls

Niagara Vacation Day 1: Hamilton, Ontario

Brandon and I went on vacation for four days earlier this week. We spent a night in Hamilton, Ontario, then a night on the New York side of Niagra Falls and finally, a night on the Canada side of Niagara Falls. On the first day, we headed out in the morning and drove over the bridge into Canada near Sarnia. We got into Hamilton around 2:30, unpacked a bit and freshened up. That evening, we headed out for dinner and then down to the beach. We were going to play some putt-putt, but it had started raining, so we headed back to the room, watched some TV, went back out for ice cream at a local shop and then headed in for the night.

At the beach

 Overcast and Chilly
 Like a GQ handsome

Bowl of Binder

 Showing his teeth...
 Taking a bath...
Taking a nap....

No matter what he is doing, he just doesn't quite fit in there like he used to.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


It's been just over a week since I officially moved in with Brandon. Things are going well and it already feels like "home" here. Our apartment is actually a townhouse style, so we have a full upstairs, full mid-level and full basement. Our townhouse is connected to 3 others in one long building and we have an end unit.  I noticed early on, before I actually moved in, that the front and back of the building were looking a worse for wear. When I say, "worse for wear," I am actually being looked pretty run down; we had grass and weeds growing under all of our bushes, the bushes were overgrown and the paint was peeling off in large sheets from the wood trim around the doors. I mentioned it to Brandon and he said he forgot about it as soon as he was inside.....Not me.

Because we were having a big BBQ "come see the place" party with our friends this last weekend, and more importantly, because I couldn't sleep at night, I made it my mission to clean up the place a bit. I first asked the office manager here if we could add some patio stones to enlarge our patio a little bit; our grill was taking up a lot of space and was way too close to the privacy hedges we have around our patio. She basically told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as it was an improvement (HA....wasn't gonna be able to do much worse) and I took her words to heart.

Mom came over last week to help me get started and so we made a little trip to Lowe's. We bought paint, patio stones, and mulch and headed home to get started. We started in the front, cutting the sod away from the bushes flanking our entrance. She shoveled out the sod while I took hot bleach water and a scrub brush and attacked the mold and lichen growing on our front steps. We then filled in under the bushes with dark brown mulch. I added some potted mums in bright red and gold that I had planted a couple days before, along with a new welcome mat. The front was looking infinitely better, but still needed to be painted, which I saved for the following day.

We then headed to the back to work on the patio. As we were getting started, Brandon got home from work and came out to help us. We began pulling the mountain of weeds and morning glory vines that were suffocating our bushes and air conditioning unit. In the process, I managed to locate a rather large, in-ground, yellow-jackets' nest which derailed the work for a bit. Brandon and I had to go buy a couple cans of Raid because we were out and we wanted to let the swarm die down a bit. After we returned, we doused the nest and rested for a little while. It was getting late into the evening, so Mom headed home and Brandon and I got back to work. We cut out the sod from in front of our patio and laid down 3 rows of 1 foot square patio stones, 6 stones wide. This gave us plenty of space to move the grill out from the main patio and rearrange our table and chairs. We then put edging out in front of our bushes and filled the area with more brown mulch. To finish the space, I added two more large, orange potted mums to either side of the patio and solar lights along the edge to light the space at night.

The next day I put down sheets and painted all of the wood trim around our doors and the kick plates...what a difference it made! I was worried that the staff here might say something to me, but then what could they say... "Quit making our stuff look better!"? I didn't think so.

Unfortunately it rained on the day of our BBQ, so the festivities were held inside and we didn't really get to show it off. I guess that just means we'll have to invite everyone over again when the weather will cooperate.

 Looking out from our screen door at left side of the patio with our table and grill
The view of the patio and back of the apartment from the back lawn

I cannot even explain how much I love this space! I am currently blogging about it while I sit out here enjoying the breeze and the sounds of the birds. I love to sit out here with a cup of coffee in the morning, when Brandon grills dinner, or with a glass of wine in the evening while enjoying the glow of the candles on our table. People keep asking why I put so much effort and money into an apartment, but for the time being, this is our home and I want it to be a space we can be proud of and, more importantly, enjoy using. So far, so good!

Monday, August 08, 2011


Michael came over tonight to see the new place and have some chow. I made naked enchiladas and they were beyond tasty!

Naked Enchiladas
4 chicken breasts, cubed
1tbs EVOO
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 small zucchini, quarter chopped
1 cup frozen corn
Mrs. Dash table blend
Green enchilada sauce, small can
Colby jack or cheddar shredded cheese
Sour cream
Chopped tomato
Tortilla chips/Doritos

Saute the onion in the EVOO for 2 minutes.

 Add the chicken and Mrs. Dash seasoning and cook covered until chicken is no longer raw.
 Add corn and zucchini with 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until zucchini is soft.
  Add green sauce. Allow to cook for 10 minutes on low. Dish up.
 Top with cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes and crushed chips. Viola! YUM.
 And just as a side note, I saw this a while back and it has come in quite handy. To quickly and easily dice up a tomato, cut from the bottom and cut across both directions, but don't cut all the way through. Then turn the tomato sideways and cut slices....easy peasy dicing!

Your Highness.