Monday, September 09, 2013

Watermelon Juice - Easy and Delicious

I visit Austin a lot for work, in fact I've been to Austin five times since last October, and have another trip planned this October. I could go on and on about my love for Austin (I call it my third home, after Detroit and Seattle, of course) but let's just focus on one amazing Austin bar delicacy - watermelon juice.

During my June trip to Austin, I was accompanied by my friends Chris and Mick, and we stayed through the weekend to truly enjoy the city. During this trip, we had many vodka watermelon shots (vodka shot with a watermelon back) on Rainey Street. One bartender told us that watermelon juice will cure hangovers, prevent muscle cramps and cool down your body temp. I'm not sure if any of these claims are true, but I do know it's pretty tasty. 

Since I have a whole ten days off before my next business trip, I decided to do an actual grocery trip and purchase a watermelon to make my own juice. It's really easy to do and totally worth the 10 minutes it will take to make this amazing juice. 

Here's what you need (so simple):
  • watermelon (I prefer seedless)
  • knife
  • blender 
  • mint leaves (optional)
Cut your watermelon into off the rind (leave a little pink on the rind for another recipe coming soon) and then into cubes of similar size. Fill your blender or mason jar (you may recall I prefer to use mason jars on my blender) with the watermelon, but leave a little room for blending.

Use the food chop setting to break up the watermelon. Once you do that, your jar will have room to add more watermelon. 

Add more watermelon. This is where I add mint, too. Then repeat blending on the food chop setting. 

Blend a little more on food chop, then switch to pulverize or frozen drinks (depending on your blender). You'll end up with pure juice if you blend it long enough. Some recipes call for straining the pulp, but I actually prefer it. 

Watermelon juice is mostly water (duh) and has about 70 calories and 16 net grams of carbs per cup. Because I am doing a low-carb diet, I generally mix the juice with soda water from my soda stream. It gives me a quick pick me up and cures sugar cravings.

I did find an article that watermelon juice might help sore muscles,  As for curing hangovers, I'll have to wait until I have a non-work travel weekend to test that theory. 

And as for keeping the rinds, stay tuned as I'll post my watermelon rind pickle recipe later this week.

OR if you want to be super awesome, and have a drill, you can just skip everything above and do this.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What to Do in Detroit (A Guide for My Co-workers)

I'm in the Detroit burbs right now, for work. It's been so fun opening a store in The Somerset Collection and I cannot wait for our newest store to actually open.

Instead of doing work stuff (like I probably should have been doing), I decided to put together a quick guide to things I like to do in Detroit. It's super high level, made for Seattleites that are just visiting for the first time, but thought I'd share (and have a landing place for when friends ask me what to do in the D). Safety was a concern (as it is in every city we visit), so I focused on pretty mainstream places to visit.

Also, I left off Midtown. I was tired and there is so much going on there, it was hard to decide what to choose. But Midtown is awesome and I recommend it, too. 

And of course, go to a Lions/Tigers/Wings game if you have the chance! 

Let me know what cool things that need to be added in the comments.


Michigan Central Train Station
Welcome to Detroit (well, the north burbs). I love my city so much that I wanted to share a few things about it with you. While most of us are probably in and out of this great city, if you have some time… I’d highly recommend you visit “The D.”
I’ve made some recommendations of very safe places to visit in Detroit that are awesome.

Corktown area (oldest neighborhood in Detroit): 
Map:  (park in the pay lot, across street from Slow’s, behind Mercury, cash only) 
Michigan Central Train Station (it’s abandoned) 
Mecury Burger
BarSlow’s BBQ (make a reservation)
Sugar House (amazing cocktails)
Woodbridge/West Canfield/Wayne State Area:
Woodbridge Pub (amazing reclaimed wood, most ingredients from nearby, great owner - Jim) 
City Bird (really cool store, local gifts) 
Seva (awesome vegetarian food) 
Traffic Jam & Snug (Around since ’65, make their own bread, cheese, tea and beer) 
Cass Café (art gallery/restaurant)
Greektown (a little more touristy): 
Map: (park in Greektown casino, then go inside and get it validated) 
Detroit Beer Company (You can keep your branded pint glass as a souvenir) 
Plaka Cafe (my FAV coney dog ever is here, 24 hours) 
Greektown Casino 
The Old Shillelagh
Most bars in Greektown are pretty lively, so pick one and enjoy.
Coney Dogs (Detroit is famous for Michigan Coney Dogs. Bun, all beef dog, bean-less chili, fresh white onions and mustard): 
Lafayette (Downtown)
American (Downtown)
National (Many locations)
Skip Kirby’s. It’s not awesome.
Other safe Detroit randomness:
Motown Museum (see where Motown got its start - $10)
Heidelberg Project (check out the pics, this is an art installation and random and awesome)
Detroit People Mover  
If you want to find decay and decrepit Detroit (because that seems to be the trendy thing for our of towners), I’d suggest skipping it and instead going to see the Heidelberg Project area or Brush Park. Both are fairly safe to drive/walk around. You will see amazing houses. Maybe some are falling apart, but some are being restored. And of course, there is always 8 Mile Road (mostly pawn shops/strip clubs, fairly safe). 
If you want to go out to bars/restaurants near the hotel. Visit Royal Oak or Birmingham. Both close cab/car ride and a mix of upscale shops and restaurants. 
Also, here’s all about the Michigan left you’ve made a few times on Big Beaver Road. And, um, Big Beaver Road is Exit 69. It’s earned itself #7 spot on most stolen street signs in the U.S.  
And finally, I leave you with… Kid Rock’s, “Detroit, Michigan.” Enjoy.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

It's Been Five Years, Today.

I think this post is for me. You just get to read it.

Five years ago, I packed my bags and headed west with a boy I barely liked. I said goodbye to my family calmly and quickly, and silently shed tears in the car as I left my beloved Detroit, and more importantly my family, for different grounds and a new opportunity. I can't tell you the actual deciding factor, the one that got me into the car and made me drive the 2300 mile drive. But I always knew I was going to do it. In fact, I had made the decision based on no actual facts, just a feeling, when I was 9 years old. It'd take me 16 years to finalize my plan.

(Normally, I'd insert a random trip picture from perhaps Yellowstone, or Wall Drug, but I've managed to lose these pictures, somehow.)

It was September 6, 2007 when I arrived in Belltown. I received the keys to my apartment (rented sight unseen) and had only what was in my vehicle. I spent the first few nights on my floor, sans internet or furniture. It was just me and the Arrested Development Season 1 and 2 DVDs (Arrested Development is still my favorite show to this day). I didn't know a soul (though, in a few months, through Facebook, I'd find out I actually did know a few people out here).

I am not sure why or how I picked Belltown. I think when I came here to visit, it just felt like home. The streets were filled with people, apartments were stacked on top of restaurants and I loved the mix of wealthy condo dwellers, artists, even the street characters. Belltown felt alive, I felt its spirit.

The more I learned about Belltown, the more familiar it felt. It is an underdog neighborhood. Folks from suburbia or those that live in other hoods often ask, "Why would you live in Belltown?" To many, Belltown was associated with crackheads, street dwellers, douche-bag club kids, shootings and crime. Being from Detroit and going to school and playing in the actual city, I received those same questions, "Why would you go to school in Detroit?" "Aren't you afraid you're going to get shot?" But those folks do not see past the douchie guys with popped collars and the woo-girls with high heels, wearing tight t-shirts that are pretending to be dresses - is the Belltown community. (By the way, they are often reffered to as #BFFK - bridge/ferry/freeway kids.)

I am so lucky to live here. For the last five years, I've been able to interact daily with the most interesting people. Passionate restaurant and bar owners, musicians, artists, poets, even those that live on the street and seem neglected by society. Each person has a path, a story, a lesson to teach. These people care about our neighborhood, our community, our neighbors. We exchange ideas, help one another out and want the best. Because of the diversity, I've heard unimaginable stories, learned life lessons and I've become a better person for it.

Moving 2300 miles away hasn't always been easy. At first it was some type of escape, but as I've grown up I've realized the importance of my family and the importance of where I've come from. As the years pass I realize it's difficult to be away from them. My parents are getting older and I am only reminded of that more and more ever time I return to visit. And, I often feel as if my sister might need me closer to her - as I need her closer to me. If nothing more than to just sometimes hold her hand, and remind her how much I love her, as she carries on through her own journey.

See, we've been through so much as a family since I've left. Actually, to be honest I felt like I left almost everything in check and the things that are not in check partially unraveled since I've been gone. Of course, this is due to timing and life, but not being able to always be a part of it is harder than one could imagine. We've had death upon death. We've had illness upon illness. And while it's normal, everyday issues that many deal with - these are now our family's issues. And helping your family when you're 2300 miles, and three time zones away, is more than difficult.

While moving away was difficult (well, is difficult), there are great perks of being on your own. But moving away, from everything you know, from everything you are - it changes you. I've built a life here. I am myself here. I've reinvented myself. I've been through boyfriends, heartbreaks, friends, best friends, jobs, clients... they've all added to who I am, built my character.

Detroit will always remain in my heart, it's part of who I am (and if you know me on a day-to-day basis, you know how much I LOVE Detroit) and I am so thankful to have grown up in a city of heart, of pride and having that pride and ownership instilled in my heart. I honestly believe my work ethic and my attitude to was shaped by my parent's, and my city's, need to always work hard and play hard. There's a popular slogan back home - "Detroit Hustles Harder." It's true. It really is true.

Have you ever met friends that are so close, so important, they are part of your soul? If you have just one person in your life, that you can share your desires and failures with - then that is a gem. But what about more than one? What about a group? I am lucky, and I realized every single day that I am lucky because I am rich with a wealth of friendship and love that I could have never imagined. I have friends here - who are a family. I mean that - they are my family. These people are the people I come to when I'm happy, sad, bored, angry, sick, ecstatic, proud. They support me, love me, and allow me to grow as a person. They take care of me, I take care of them. And I love and support them unconditionally.

When my mom came to visit - she said it's like I lived in a play. Every character had their role, their home, their lines. I never thought of my life that way. It was just Belltown. It was what I knew. But sometimes, it can feel surreal, and I often stop, look around and think, "Wow, I really get to live here."

And in those moments where I don't know who I am, or what the hell I am doing here... I just step outside and cannot walk half a block without running into a familiar face, and I am instantly reminded why I am here.

Belltown, I think Detroit made some room for you, and now you'll forever hold a place in my heart, too.

(Insert pictures here, you know, when I have the chance to go through five years and pull out the highlights... in due time, in due time...)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Practicing What You Preach

One time I drove from the metro-Detroit area, on a Tuesday afternoon whim, with a friend to Toledo - which also happened to be where the nearest Chick-Fil-A was located. Apparently we were feeling spontaneous and felt the need for carrot raisin salad? We even bought the "Eat Mor Chikin" stuffed cows as a souvenir. Ten years later, and six moves later, I actually still own that cow.

I am very much pro-gay marriage, gay rights, and equal marriage rights for all. From a human rights stand point, it makes sense. From a financial stand point, it makes sense. It is absolutely unbelievable to me that gay marriage is not 100 percent legal in every state of our fine Union.

Having said that…

Chick-Fil-A (unlike our country) was founded on Christian values. In fact, they are even closed on Sundays. We know the company principals, where donations go and what it stands for. It’s not a secret.

So what happened?

Dan Cathy, COO of Chick-Fil-A released a statement as to why he was against gay marriage. Dan Cathy is son of S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A and 91 year old billionaire. Fine, Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion. Now I am guessing, with his father being a billionaire and all, Dan Cathy is not strapped for cash either. The latest figure I can find is S. Truett Cathy is worth $1.3 Billion, and I am sure much of that is trickling down to his COO son.

So, the Cathy's like religion, hate gay marriage - cool. It's a free country, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right? Well, maybe. We'll get into that.

The thing is, Chick-Fil-A does not own all of the quick services restaurants operated under their name. Chick-Fil-A has a franchise program. Franchises can be small with one store, or large with multiple stores in a region. Now one could argue that franchise owners know Chick-Fil-A’s core values, in fact even their franchise info page specifially states, "With its emphasis on family, and its early reputation for outspoken Christian values, Chick-fil-A has attracted broad American appeal."

So, yes, the franchise owners know what they are getting into and that Chick-Fil-A likes to spout opinions. But does that mean they should be punished, bullied - mob style?? And what about the workers that keep that franchise running day in and day out. I am talking about cashiers, maintenance crews, administrative and clerical workers, not to mention marketing, HR, devs – the list could go on and on. These everyday people, some making minimum wage, are counting on their parent brand, Chick-Fil-A, to support their small business venture.

They can get a new job, you say? They can find work at a company with a culture that is more open, and fits their needs? Um, have YOU tried to look for a new job lately? Especially in small towns, or rural areas?

Should a COO publicly share an opinion that is considered so hateful by many - when he has so many people counting on him for their livelihood? 

I think Dan Cathy is 100 percent entitled to his own opinion - as Dan Cathy. Not as COO of a major corporation.

So, the COO spouts hate, and what happens?

The Jim Henson/Muppets brand does not want to associate and align themselves with a brand that does not consider all humans equally. And, hey, Chick-Fil-A, that is ok. Not everyone needs to agree on every subject all the time. But, Chick-Fil-A – why this sign stating Chick-Fil-A voluntary recalled the product? Instead of releasing a statement that the toys had a defect and were recalled – why not issue a statement with the truth, or even a version of the truth?

The other issue is the uproar has caused the Mayors of cities like Boston and Chicago to swear they will block Chick-Fil-A from coming to their towns. Really? Is that the best policy? Is a bully mentality where you’re expecting a brand that has a very long history of thinking one way to suddenly change their mind a good idea? You would not want anyone to treat you that way, I am sure. Oh, wait, that is what you are fighting against, aren't you?

But, wait, the Mayors are politicians. Politicans help make laws. Do we really want lawmakers deciding what small business (yes, franchises are small) can open and what small business is banned? Should it not be up to the individual person to decide if they would like to patronize the business - and let individuals speak for themselves, with their own wallets?

The truth is - Chick-Fil-A gives a LOT of money to causes that support anti-gay measures. If you do not like where your chicken dollars go - go elsewhere. Do not spend your money at Chick-Fil-A. But, do not tell a small business where they can and cannot do business, simply because they do not share the same belief system as yourself. Just like you should not tell able-minded adult who they can and cannot marry, simply because they do not share the same belief system as yourself.

And, in closing, if you actually want to help and make a difference - write your representatives, donate and please, go out and VOTE. And, this especially means you, Seattle.

And I leave you with Same Love, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring my good friend Mary Lambert on the hook.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bite of Seattle & Belltown Randomness

This is probably the best way to share all of the pictures of my day.

Today was Bite of Seattle, then Waterfront, the police Pipes and Drum band, then random Belltown, Rob Roy, Belltown Pub and, finally, Tacos Noches.

The funny part - it's a pretty typical day.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Seattle Lightning Storm

I love thunder and lightning storms. I remember, even as a kid, finding tranquility in the storms. In fact, some of my favorite childhood memories involve hanging with my family in our basement, candles lit, waiting for the storms to pass.

In the Midwest, summer storms are quite common and, while some can get quite nasty, for the most part they come and go quickly. Many times a quick afternoon storm can provide a cool respite from the heat and humidity - and if you're lucky, a rainbow.

I can only recall maybe 4 or 5 thunderstorms here in Seattle - with all except one proving to be a pitiful excuse for a thunderstorm. For a true thunderstorm fan, tonight's show was dismal, but I still decided to jump up to my rooftop (um, in my robe) and shoot a few photos of the lightning show (followed by a very quiet thunder).

Oh - and due to our lack of thunderstorms... does anyone else find it odd that Seattle's WNBA team is named "Storm"..?