Bits and Pieces

What have you guys been up to this week?

I have been reading a lot lately. In the last couple months, I’ve zipped through Shantaram, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Husband’s Secret, and I’ve just started The Thirteenth Tale. Cryptonomicon and Allegiant are on the docket (because somehow I missed the fact that the third in the series Divergent came out last week–did you know that, Ty?!)

In other news, I finally watched Young Frankenstein with Dave the other night. No one could have played the title character but Gene Wilder. I really liked the movie, but I missed hearing some of the songs I saw in the musical just last week.

Besides reading and TV-watching, I’m still trying to get into the groove at work. When I arrived yesterday morning to start my day, I was greeted by a deer.

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She was so close to me!

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Instead of running away after she saw me, she started coming closer.

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I think maybe I really am the incarnation of Snow White.

Unfortunately, I had to get to work, so I waved farewell, and she trotted off into the forest after one last look goodbye.

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It was a magical moment.

Since we did so much cooking last weekend, I haven’t really felt like cooking this week. (Frankly, because I don’t want to do dishes). We ate leftovers a couple days, but I decided I had to make BLT’s with the last heirloom tomato from the farmer’s market.

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I’m not a big mayo fan, so I started my sandwich with toasted wheat bread and spicy guacamole.

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Spinach.

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Tomato.

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And bacon.

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The only thing that made my BLT more perfect was the addition of pickles.

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I finished my meal with a few pieces of leftover Halloween candy. I’m glad I got to dress up and go trick-or-treating with Aurelia and Emily last weekend, because otherwise Halloween would have gone by unnoticed.

At least I have some awesome memories.

PicMonkey Collage

Eat, drink, and be scary, everyone!

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Weekending

I really would like to weekend more often, wouldn’t you?

Saturday started quietly, but wonderfully. Dave and I ran a few errands around town, including scoping out washers and dryers, picking up curtain rods, and going grocery shopping.

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I also picked up an awesome dress that I had on hold from the weekend prior. I can’t wait to wear it!

036Dave spent a chunk of the afternoon installing a lovely counter top work space, and I assisted him with the drilling. Because we all know that playing with power tools is the best part.

We had originally planned to go out to dinner with our friends Dan and Emily (whom you will probably see me reference at least once a week now), but we decided to cook dinner for them instead.

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Dave did his weird pelican thing with the salmon…err pellicle, and I prepped for a mushroom, spinach, and garlic risotto.

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I believe I shall write an ode to risotto one day.

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We indulged in a few beverages while dinner was cooking.

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Dinner was awesome. Dave brushed the salmon with a mixture of cumin, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika and broiled it until it was nice and crispy. The warm and creamy risotto was the perfect accompaniment.

We ate rather quickly as we had a show to attend….

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Young Frankenstein!

I haven’t seen a play in ages and  forgot how much fun it was.

PicMonkey Collage

 

I have actually never seen the movie (a travesty as far as Emily and Dave were concerned), but the musical was hilarious. I especially loved the homage to Dr. Horrible when Dr. Frankenstein came out wearing the exact outfit.

The next day, there was even more fun in store…my sister Emily and niece Aurelia came to visit! Em brought us a very creative housewarming gift, a “new house survival kit” complete with salt (so our life always has flavor); bread (so we never go hungry); and coffee (to keep us awake).

The last time I saw Aurelia, she was pretty much only mumbling (and to be fair, she did a lot of mumbling this time as well), but when I opened the car door and asked her if she wanted to come out, she looked at me and said “Yes” so decisively that I almost fell over.

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Look how big she’s getting! I can definitely see my sister in her face. Em, Aurelia, and I did a little shopping and made a stop at Petco where Aurelia had fun seeing the dogs, cats, and birds.

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I made her a grilled cheese for lunch and made a spinach salad for Emily with the leftover salmon.

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Aurelia was very interested in helping me clean the kitchen, so I put her to work.

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After a short trip to Goodwill, I told my sister that Stevens Point was doing trick-or-treating yesterday and we decided to take Aurelia.

075Like a good baker always has ingredients for bread, a Leahy always has ingredients for a costume. Em and I went as pirates, and Aurelia went as the cutest dalmation you ever did see.

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It was so much fun taking her trick-or treating for the first time.

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“Chick cheat!” she said when her mouth wasn’t filled with a mini candy bar.

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Oh, that face. I can’t even.

The crispy fall air made us feel like cooking comfort food, so we invited Emily and Dan over again for a ham dinner, complete with roasted cabbage…

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roasted broccoli…

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mashed potatoes…

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and my brother’s homemade apple pie.

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It was a perfect fall dinner, especially with the addition of Dan’s homemade cheese rolls.

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This fall has been filled with so much delicious food and company, I’m getting spoiled.

 

Sushi Night

Last night after work, I took a shower and got all dressed up with no place to go. It was the first weekend that we haven’t had visitors (although my sister Emily is coming tomorrow!) and we weren’t sure what to do. I almost forgot that we don’t need a whole host of people around us to have fun–Dave and I are fun!

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So I suggested a sushi date night.

We’re still figuring out the nooks and crannies of Stevens Point so we googled two sushi restaurants: Matsu Ya and The Bamboo House and decided to try the former for dinner.

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We took a seat at the bar and waited almost ten minutes before anyone came to ask us if we wanted a drink. We ordered a bottle of warm sake to share, which was delicious, then each ordered a beer.

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There’s definitely a lot of Point beer available in this town.

The restaurant wasn’t more than half full, so it was crazy how slow the service was. Everyone working there looked very sad and tired, including the sushi chefs.

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Dave and I have both worked food service before, so we know it isn’t all fun and games, but the staff was barely speaking to each other, much less joking around.

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We noticed a pattern while perusing the menu: “broiled eel,” “fried shrimp,” “smoked salmon” —-almost the entire menu was cooked fish! We weren’t sure if that was so they didn’t have to order sushi-grade fish, but the prices definitely reflected it as it was pretty affordable.

We ordered three rolls to start: a spicy tuna roll, a mackerel roll, and a seaweed salad roll. I was really interested in the seaweed salad roll even though it was vegetarian, because I love the salty, slippery taste of seaweed salad.

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I usually love spicy tuna rolls, but this one was just….weird. I wasn’t entirely convinced the tuna was even raw, because it was chopped up so finely and mixed with a bunch of stuff that I couldn’t really pick out. Dave thought they just did that to stretch the raw tuna, so who knows.

The mackerel roll was average, but by far my favorite was the seaweed salad roll, which I was surprised by, since it didn’t even have any fish in it. As we were eating our sushi, I noticed one of the chefs pour himself a huge tumbler full of wine and start drinking it right behind the bar.

When our glum waitress came back to ask us if we wanted to order more, I said, “No, I’m fine.” Dave later asked, “Do you not want to order more for the same reason I do?” and we shared a knowing look. We’re foodie soulmates. We usually spend almost a hundred dollars when we go out for sushi, so it was shocking when our bill arrived for $26 something, which included our sake and beers.

Since we’re 0 for 2 on sushi restaurants, we decided to stop at the Copps in town to see if they sell grocery store sushi. They do! What a relief.

We were both still hungry when we got home, so I filled myself a wine glass full of Cheez-Its and hunkered down for an episode of Modern Family before turning in early with my book.

The sushi wasn’t great, but at least I had some one-on-one time with my Davy! He turned 27 last Monday and we celebrated the weekend before with a pajama party, cards, The Birdcage, and baklava. I’m still waiting for his birthday present to arrive: a Ghostbusters iPhone case. I guess we should just keep celebrating his birthday until it gets here.

 

Where Do I Begin…

To tell the story of a life that doesn’t end? (I bet my mom is singing this right now).

Are you ready to catch up with a month of life and food in pictures? Here goes nothing. The last month we’ve been…

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Enjoying fall. And it’s been a lovely one.

Going to Mustard Seed Cafe in Green Bay one last time before we moved.

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And going to Taste of India one more time.

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There’s no Indian restaurant in Stevens Point. How will I survive?!

Playing cards.

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Visiting our alma mater, St. Norbert College.061

 

The dorm Dave and I both lived our junior year of college.

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And the steps where we first met.

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And I simply HAD to go to Phil’s one last time for a Chicken Fajita Pita. I didn’t feel so great afterwards, but it was delicious at the time.

And…moving.067

 

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It was not fun.

But finally…we were in Stevens Point.

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First pumpkin beer of the season.

I do not like pumpkin (yes, I know), but I do like pumpkin beer. As long as it doesn’t taste like pumpkin pie.

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We also discovered an amazing restaurant with the help of our friends Em & Dan.

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Habibi’s! (Which locals call ‘Gyro Kabob.’ I think Habibi’s is more fun to say).

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Awesome food, but the atmosphere is what really sells it.

Visiting our friends Luke & Kirsten’s beautiful house in the country. Dave fell in love with their pet snake Marley.

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He was really excited. “Chel, take my picture with the snake!”

Settling into our new home.

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Slowly, but surely.

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My parents came to visit one weekend, and we showed them the town (a bar, a wine bar, and Habibi’s!)

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My sister Moriah came with them and kept us company for a whole week.

Breakfast at Al’s (still didn’t have any groceries).

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And went on a lovely chair lift ride in Wausau at Rib Mountain.

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And a beer festival in Amherst at Central Waters, which we took a shuttle bus to and from.

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I finally bought a dresser at St. Vinnie’s, because my tiny closet won’t hold all my clothes.

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And…I still don’t have enough room for all of my clothes.

Drinking spicy chai and matcha lattes at Emy J’s. Yum.

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My brother and Shelby came another weekend to visit, which involved cards, gin, and arguing about horcruxes.160 166

 

 

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The kitties are settling in nicely, though.

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That was one jam-packed month. Here’s to an exciting weekend!

Hello Out There!

I miss you guys! And somebody must miss me, too–I’m still getting almost 50 hits every day, so some of you must be waiting with bated breath for another picture of my dinner.

I’m waiting for payday to upgrade my space (this Friday can’t come soon enough!), but I thought I’d give you an overview until I’m able to post pictures.

The move: I’m sure you’ve all moved before. It sucks. A lot. Luckily, we had a few friends to help us clean and move, and I don’t know what we would have done without them.

The house: Pretty cozy. It’s not perfect by any means, but we’re working on turning it into a Leahy-Dowe fortress, and it’s coming along slowly but surely. Everything is more or less put away (although I’d still like our guest bedroom to actually be a bedroom and not a storage space), the art work is up, and Dave is working on making our kitchen more functional for me to cook in. Unfortunately, the oven broke two days ago, and we still have no washer and dryer. So…yeah.

The job: I’m really enjoying it so far! It’s been strange to go from a place with 1,800 employees to a place with fewer than 50, but I kind of like it. I can name almost everyone that works there, and they’ve all been so nice. Plus, I already got a 45 cent raise with a promise of another one in the next few months. Sweeet! Mama needs a new pair of shoes.

The trains: Stevens Point has trains. Not like Green Bay, where they go by once every other day, but about 15 times a day. My friend Emily says “Avoid Water St. and Hoover if you want to avoid the trains.” I live on Water and I work on Hoover. I think it’s some kind of conspiracy, but I’m not sure who planned it.

The visitors: We’ve had a lot of visitors so far–I think people like us! Already, my brother, sister, parents, and friend Shelby have been to visit. My other sister is coming next Sunday, my mom the weekend after, and Dave’s parents the weekend after that. Hooray!

The Stevens Pointers: Our friends Em and Dan have been amazing. Everything from helping us move, cooking us dinner, letting us use their washer and dryer, and planning fun things for us to do on the weekends. They’re my soul mates.

Reading: Since we last talked, I finished Shantaram, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Art of Racing in the Rain. I love books. I highly recommend all three of these.

I have hundreds of pictures stored on my iPhone, and I hope to be able to share some of them with you soon! Hope you have a good week.

The Importance of Mental Health

Another non-food related post, until I get my storage space up and running on my end. I’ve got so many pictures to share and so much to tell! But right now I’d like to talk about today, October 10th, National Depression Screening Day.

Depression is not like a cold that goes away after a few days. It is a serious problem that affects millions of people. These people have good lives, loving families, and often don’t understand why they are so depressed. The worst thing you can do is ignore it. There is always help.

So today, I’d like to share a poem I love that fits the occasion.

“to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.”

~Ellen Bass

We’re all in this life together.

Just a Post to Say…

That I’m going to keep writing. Apparently quite a few people can’t live without my daily posts, most particularly my husband Dave. 😀

I’m going to take a break while we move and get unsettled, but I’ll be back in a week or less.

I have so many food pictures to share with you! I just couldn’t stop taking them.

Our anniversary dinner last night was Subway. As we stood in line, Dave said “Can we pretend this didn’t happen?”

We plan to celebrate next month sometime, and I can’t wait! But first: packing, moving, unsettling, and making Stevens Point our town.

Third Anniversary

I started college with an undecided major. My freshmen roommate Chrissie and I used to joke that we were “majoring in EVERYTHING!” when people asked us. I don’t think it was a surprise to any of my family members when I quickly declared a double major of English and Fine Arts, which even more quickly turned into a major of Creative Writing and a minor in Fine Arts. I was in the honors program, and it was nearly impossible to double major at St. Norbert with the special classes I was taking.

It was fine with me; I never really intended to be a practicing artist, I just loved the history of art and loved to see the world through paintings, drawings, and photographs. But English was my true love. I grew up obsessed with reading. I read before class, I read during lunch, I read while grocery shopping, I read while walking our dog, I read before bed, and my dad had to turn off the light when I fell asleep with it on. And like most readers, I liked to write.

When I started my junior year of college, I was finally able to take the classes I loved for my major, starting with Creative Fiction. I wasn’t in a great place in the fall of 2007. I had broken up with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years that summer and subsquently had my heart broken by someone else. I wasn’t really sure who I was or what I was doing.

Unfortunately, my ex-boyfriend was also my best friend, and because we kept hanging out, we sort of started dating again. We still loved each other and had both good days and bad days, but I knew that we got back together for all the wrong reasons. Especially when I saw one of those reasons sitting across the table from me in my Creative Fiction class: Dave.

We figured out we lived in the same dorm, in the same hallway no less, and he invited me to stop by some night when I was bored. I did, but it turned out I knew his roommate from one of my art classes, and he hijacked the conversation. A month later, we talked before class, and we hung out for about three hours after talking about everything. He invited me to Denny’s that night. I went. I broke up with my boyfriend. And then I fell in love with Dave.

My writing professor encouraged all of us Creative Writing majors to keep a LiveJournal account to keep us writing every day, no matter what it was about. Looking back through it, I found this gem that I wrote when I was twenty (Twenty?! Was it really that long ago?), and decided it would be perfect to share for our anniversary post. After all, this is the reason we danced to “First Day of My Life” at our wedding.

The music faded away and we sat at the edge of the bed, staring at the computer screen. Silence.

“I have a confession,” he began, lifting my chin up with his hand.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I played that song for you,” he said. I couldn’t stop smiling as we put on our coats and walked down the stairs.  We sat on the bench outside, our denim-covered legs grazing slightly. The wind whipped ferociously every few seconds, twirling my scarf in its slippery hands and putting his hat askew. He looked at me.

“I was thinking about writing about ‘the moment’ for our next short story,” he said.

“Go for it.” I smiled and squeezed his hand with my slightly purple one.

“I’m going to get so much shit for it, though.” He stared off at the cars whipping through the parking lot.

“But you don’t care what other people think.” I visualized his abrasive exterior falling away in a public place, instead of with friends.

“Yeah, I do. Especially people in that class.” He turned to look at me, his eyes dark behind his thick black rimmed glasses.

“Okay, people may or may not laugh at you. But if they do, it’s not because they think you’re a sappy idiot, it’s because they’re seeing a new side of Dave….the softer side of Dave!” We both laughed.

“My life has never been so wonderful and weird before. I now find myself being the optimist in situations, rather than the cynical bastard. It’s so …” He trailed off.

“Crazy,” I filled in. “Give it a few months. You’ll get sick of me and then you can go back to being Cynical Dave,” I smiled.

“Never.” He looked into my eyes. “That moment? No matter what happens to us, I will never, ever forget it. In my 21 years, I’ve never felt like that before and it will always be perfect in my mind.” We sat like that for a few minutes, hand in hand and eyes glued to each other as if seeing into the future.

Suddenly I burst out laughing. “Man, we are being so gushy right now!”

He joined in. I laid my head on his shoulder and felt his rest on mine. And nothing mattered then, except for us, sitting there.