Friday, April 23, 2010

An ode to Zingerman's

Last night, Cam and I had the pleasure of attending a gelato tasting at Zingerman's Deli here in Ann Arbor. Of all the wonderful restaurants in this town, Zingerman's is definitely right on top, and if you've never been, you NEED to go. Cam and I are seriously so in love with this place it's not even funny. The Zingerman's brand actually encompasses multiple businesses including a deli, a bakeshop, a creamery, a mail-order catalog, and a sit-down restaurant, Zingerman's Roadhouse, on the west side of Ann Arbor to name a few. They are a company that is really passionate about good food, and believe that eating should be an amazing enjoyable experience. I love their whimsical branding, and honestly, everything that they touch is delicious. They truly love food and it that passion is very evident in all they do. They have so many different things, but I'd say that some of my personal favorites are their mint chocolate chip gelato, their apricot hamentashens, and their Peace of Mind Sandwich (toasted Bakehouse white bread, thick cut peppered bacon, mixed greens, tomato, avocado spread, and blue cheese--AMAZING!). We've been trying to indulge in Zingerman's goodness as much as possible before our trip and our move later this summer, because something tells me that Greenville, SC isn't going to have anything like this because it is truly a one-of-a-kind place! (And we it will definitely be one of our first stops when we come back to visit Ann Arbor!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Being that my blog has the word green in the title, I feel a little bit obligated to make an Earth Day post. This year first year of marriage has been a learning journey for me when it comes to leading an eco-friendly lifestyle. Growing up, my parents taught me not to litter, and we recycled newspapers and pop cans, but that's about as far as things went. However, living green is something that is a huge priority for my husband, and when we moved in to our apartment this fall, this was an issue that definitely caused conflict at some points, as Cam wanted to make sure that every single thing we bought was recycled/reusable/organic/phosphate-free/eco-friendly. To him, this meant not using things like paper plates and napkins for a birthday party (that was quite the little spat haha) and not ever using plastic bags for anything in favor of reusable containers. At first, I thought that he was making WAYYY too big of a deal about this stuff, and it would definitely cause some friction when it came to simple shopping trips. But as the months have passed, I have begun to educate myself on WHY it's so important to Cameron that we make these choices, the more I've realized that...he's right. (I'm still not giving up my paper Happy Birthday plates and napkins though Cam haha) Making smarter choices in the products we buy is extremely important, and today there are more great choices then ever when it comes to buying things that are easier on the Earth. However, as more people begin to become more eco-conscious, marketers are cashing in by dubbing every new product they come out with "green." Today marks the 40th year of celebrating Earth Day, and it seems as if every retailer is jumping on the bandwagon. While this corporate acceptance of Earth Day may be good in the sense that it shows a cultural shift in more and more people desiring to lead more "green" lives, many of these companies only have one kind of green in mind-money. Not to be a negative Nancy, but it's clear that many of these companies are just making a big deal about Earth Day to in it to appear to consumers that they are a caring company. That's why consumers have to be discerning in which products they choose, rather than just buying up every new "green" product that hits the market. That idea of consumer over-consumption that many newly "eco-friendly" companies are pushing goes against the very ethos of what Earth Day is about. An article in today's NYTimes elaborated on this idea, and how Earth Day and the green movement has changed in the past 4 decades. It's definitely an interesting read! Happy Earth Day everyone!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Every dog has its day...

Over the past 5 months, I've had the pleasure of getting to volunteer at the Humane Society of Huron Valley here in Ann Arbor. I started out helping around the shelter doing administrative things like filing and stuffing adoption packets, as well as helping out with laundry (you'd be amazed how many towels and blankets they go through in a day!) A few months ago, I went through some additional trainings to become a dog walker, so I've been doing that once a week for the past few month and I LOVE it!! Whether you're having a good or a bad day, there's nothing like coming to the shelter and seeing all the dogs so happy and excited that you there to take them outside to play. HSHV has a really beautiful facility with a lots of walking trails and a big play yard for the dogs. They really strive to get each and every animal adopted, and did over 3,500 adoptions last year, and have a very low euthanasia rate in comparison to most shelters. They really encourage all the dog walkers to be working with the dogs on manners and commands during their walks using positive reinforcement, that way the dogs are more likely to get adopted and transition more easily into a family. The Humane Society has all types of dogs during a given week, and I've walked everything from a tiny Chihuahua to a giant American Bulldog. Each dog really has their own unique personality, and it's just a joy to get to spend time with them. Some dogs are extremely active and intelligent and just love to play fetch and run around in circles, while other dogs are much more relaxed and laid back and just want to sit with you and be petted.

One of my favorite moments so far during my time volunteering has been one gorgeous Sunday afternoon while I was walking dogs, I happened to walk a dog named Sandy (pictured, right). Sandy was a little bit of an older dog, about 7 years old, and she was a beagle mix that was fairly large and a little on the stout side. We went out for a walk and she just wanted to walk at her own pace, but she was extremely gentle and well-behaved and didn't pull on the leash at all. I got to play with her for awhile and saw what a mellow, sweet dog she was. While we were walking, I started to feel bad for her, thinking that since she is a little bit of an older, lower energy dog, she would probably not be adopted for awhile, as a lot of families tend to gravitate toward the puppies and younger dogs. Not even five minutes later, a family with a boy about 9 years old came up to me and told me how they've been coming to visit Sandy for the past few weeks, and they had been watching her walk so nicely with me, and decided that they want to adopt her! They said they really wanted a laid-back, gentle dog that they could go walking with, and took Sandy's leash from me, and adopted her that day! Seeing this family get the dog that they always wanted as well as seeing this sweet dog find a forever home was really touching, and moments like that are what I love about volunteering at HSHV.

I think that the coolest thing about my volunteer experience has been the way that I constantly get reminded just how much animals can teach us about love. I'll be the first to admit, I can be a critical person. I know it's terrible (and I know I'm definitely not alone in doing this), but many times during the day, I'll come in to contact with people and think "Oh that person is too fat/skinny/ugly/has an annoying voice/has an outfit that doesn't match..." Just random, Jerry Seinfeldish reactions that are extremely superficial and shallow, and although I know they're not right, I can't seem to keep them from popping into my mind. But what I love about animals is they don't have a judgemental bone in their cute little furry bodies, and they really just want to shower everyone with love. When I'm at the Humane Society, I see all types of people who obviously come from all different walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds, and I'll admit, sometimes it can be easy to make assumptions about people. Animals don't do that. They don't care about the clothes that people are wearing, how much money they have, the color of their skin, or whether they're having a good hair day or not. They're excited that someone is there to play with them and pet them, and they're just ready to pour all their love out on to whoever comes by their cage. The other day, I passed by one of the communal cat rooms (where a bunch of the cats get to be together, instead of being in cages), and there was a older woman there in a wheelchair petting a cat, and they both looked so peaceful. There are actually quite a few people with both physical and mental disabilities that come and volunteer at the shelter, and it's really touching, because I know these are people who have faced hardships and have probably been made fun of for being different. However, when they're spending time with the animals, it's safe for them just to be themselves, and feel totally accepted. I can't help but think every time I spend time with the animals that the way they see us is really how God sees us. He doesn't see any of these superficial details that we judge each other on, but rather he desires simply pour out his love on us, and desires for us to love him in return. It's funny, I wanted to volunteer because I felt sorry for all these dogs cooped up in their cages and thought that I would help them by coming and walking them. In reality, by volunteering at the Humane Society, I'm really the one who has received the benefits from getting to spend time with all these animals who have really taught me so much!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life Update!

Spring is here! Well, actually it feels more like summer here in Ann Arbor today as it's a steamy 82 degrees! April seems to be flying by, and I just realized it's been almost a whole month since my last post! I'll admit, this is why I have always hesitated starting a blog in the past; I knew that I'd get busy and kind of let it fall by the wayside...but, I'm going to get back on track because there are so many exciting things happening over the next few months that and I really want to try my best to keep up to date with writing about them!! But to get you caught up, here's a little update on some of the things that have been happening since our trip to Toronto, as well as what we've got coming up:
  • At the end of March, we had the pleasure of attending the MODA show in Kalamazoo to see my sister Melissa make her fashion designing debut! The fashion show is put on by MODA, the student organization for fashion majors at Western Michigan University, and the show is put on entirely by the students, from the modeling to the advertising to the construction and design of the clothes. Melissa designed an gorgeous line of 5 dresses, as well as designing a very original avant garde piece which she modeled herself! I was so inspired by the creativity of all the students, and I'm continue to be blown away by what an amazingly talented sister I have!
  • Something else that has been taking up some of my time recently is volunteering at the Humane Society of Huron Valley here in Ann Arbor. I want to do a separate, more in-depth post about my experience because it's been so rewarding!
  • Earlier this month, I told my current job that I would be leaving at the end of the month, and they have been very understanding and supportive of my decision, which has been wonderful. But now that I have my official last day (Apr. 28th), time seems to be flying by so much faster! Finding this job was such a huge blessing, and I really have enjoyed working here, however, I'm really excited to move on to what's ahead! And while we've been so busy and so focused on our Europe trip, I'm already starting to think about what I'm going to do when we move...I've had all sorts of ideas from going back to school to starting my own business, and I'd really love to find something that I'm passionate about...I've also always had a pretty good knack for finding jobs, however, we could potentially be moving multiple times over the next few years, so right now my career path seems a little unclear...however, I'm just praying that the right opportunity will open itself up as we relocate to a new area of the country!
  • In the midst of all that's been going on, Cam and I have been trying to stay focused on health & fitness goals, even though, the busier things get, the more difficult it becomes. Since we're going to be leaving Ann Arbor, we want to eat at all our "favorite" places one last time, the problem is we have about 50 favorite restaurants! In addition, we've been really trying to get together with friends before we move, but that always seems to involve going out for a big restaurant meal. However, we've been trying our best to cook healthy meals when we can, as well as staying focused on exercise. This spring, we've been going to some new classes at the YMCA-Cardio Karate, Body Core (a crazy intense workout, like gym class on steroids), and Studio Cycling. I also found a new Bikram Yoga Studio in Plymouth, so I've been trying to mix those workouts in as well. I'm really hoping that we can keep up the momentum with our workouts until we get on the plane to Europe so we have the energy necessary to keep up with itinerary we planned!
  • Speaking of our trip, we've been really busy planning, packing, and shopping! This is probably the longest vacation will ever take, and since we're going to be going to so many cities, it's required quite a bit of planning as far as making our hotel/hostel reservations, as well as our train reservations. Luckily my husband is a great travel agent and has been working his butt off putting together the details of this trip, I am so grateful for how organized he is! We're just bringing our backpacks, so we've had to think very carefully about just what we need to bring on as far as clothes, and we're still in the process of figuring out exactly what we need to pack...I'll keep you posted!
  • With all the focus on getting ready for our trip, I can't forget about how excited we are for Cam's graduation from his Master's program on May 1st! His parents and brother and sister-in-law are going to be coming from Oregon for 5 days, and we're really looking forward to spending time with them. I'm so proud of my husband, finishing grad school is a huge accomplishment and he's worked really hard, so I'm really looking forward to seeing him graduate! (and to hear President Obama speak at the commencement ceremony!)
I'll admit, I haven't really shared this blog w/ many people and I think it's because I'm not really sure exactly what purpose I wanted it to serve? On the one hand, I do like to write about fun shopping finds, recipes, fitness, and environmentally-friendly products. However, with all the exciting changes and events going on in our lives this year, I also really want this blog to also be a much more personal undertaking and use it to help family and friends stay connected to us as we travel and move. I'm hoping to blog while we're in Europe so I can share my experiences while they are fresh in my mind and keep everyone up to date on how we're doing. Get excited for "In the Pink and Green" to go abroad!


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