Thursday, February 28, 2013

Primary Colors and Plastic Towers

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Brad and I had been wanting to visit the LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition exhibit at The Henry Ford ever since it opened in November, but leave it to us to wait until February to go (on the last afternoon the exhibit was open, mind you). The upside of visiting the exhibit so late in the game, however, meant small crowds on a quiet afternoon. That, to me, has the makings of a relaxing trip.

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Towering Ambition boasted a display of intricate LEGO buildings, all replicas of structures from across the United States (and a few from overseas). I can't imagine the amount of time that it would take to build a similar structure of my own, even if I was a LEGO mastermind, but surprisingly, most of the toy towers were architecturally adapted and created within a matter of days.

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A LEGO replica of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building (you can watch the assembly here).

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Ford Field (one of my favorites).

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Tributes to NYC (Left: The Empire State Building; Right: 2 World Trade Center)

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The Chicago Skyline

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Just outside the exhibit was a play area for kids to build their own LEGO creations. I kind of wanted to get in on the fun, but decided to leave the germs to the kids and just take pictures. Plus, I didn't want to make anyone feel bad--nobody can construct a multi-color box quite like me. Except for maybe every other kid in this room.

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Craftsmanship. Sometimes, I wish the whole world was made up of these colors.
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This one was probably my favorite.

Do you guys miss LEGOs? Were you a technical builder, down to the last plastic wheel or propeller, or more of a master color-brick-maker, like me?

Or maybe you never actually gave up the hobby . . . that's okay, too. Brad still has all of his LEGOs in a plastic tub in our basement, but shhh--you didn't hear it from me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Novice Branches Out

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It's okay--nothing's wrong with the screen on your computer/phone/tablet/whatever you use to surf the Internet. That really is a picture of Brad and me on snowboards. And we really used them. Yep, me included.

I can hear my sister laughing all the way from Virginia.

I don't exactly know what got into me, but a few weeks ago, I kept getting invitations to all these cool places to do cool things that I had never tried before. One of them, obviously, was snowboarding, and instead of shying away with my normal, "Yeah, I think anything requiring athletic ability might kill me" tendencies, I said yes. Totally optimistic. Sounds like me.

I would like to preface this story by saying that overall, I had a good experience. I had fun hanging out with friends, and I was proud of myself for trying something so foreign to me.

But . . . I think it's safe to say that I won't be turning pro any time soon. 

Have any of you ever been snowboarding? It's difficult. Well, some parts are. The whole flying-down-the-larger-than-life-bunny-hill-faster-than-I-want-to thing is pretty easy, granted you can make yourself slide down the hill in the first place. It's the steering part that's hard. And the stopping part.

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Brad, adjusting his board/boots.
That's me in the background, pretending that standing up while having no control over your ankles is empowering.

Also, for those of you who are snow sport novices like me, let me explain the way a "bunny hill" works. See, in my mind, I imagine . . . well, basically, a bunny hill. Something about two feet off the ground with nothing but flat all around. In reality, a bunny hill is a really tall hill (not too steep, I suppose, but it looks like it from the top) with nowhere to stop or level off until you get allllll the way to the bottom. By the time you level off, though, you're out of room and there's nothing but icy ditches that will knock you down and tear up your backside when you purposely fall over to stop the uncontrollable speed. I like to think of it as a scary, upright sledding experience.

When you want to go back to the top of the bunny hill, you don't take off your board and walk back up. No, that would be crazy (and tiring). Instead, there's a constantly-moving, pulley/rope contraption that you hold onto while still standing on your snowboard. Just hop over from wherever you last fell, say a quick prayer, and grab on.

Kids, the rope was my least favorite part.

The first few times I tried to hold onto the rope, I fell over. Okay, no big. Stand up and try it again. Eventually, I made it about halfway up. Then, I fell and couldn't figure out how to stand up. Fortunately, a slightly grumpy lady (understandably so, since I was in her way) with her kid in tow shouted out how to push myself up. I succeeded, then tried some more. More falling than progress, of course. Lots of lying in the snow and pitifully accepting assistance from our friend, Lynn, who somehow pulled me to my feet (I thanked him by landing my board right on his feet).

Miraculously, I made it about five feet from the top of the hill a couple of times--but at that point, the hill had leveled off and no matter how tightly I gripped, the rope just swished through my hands and I stood there, immobile and useless. The solution? let go of the rope, turn around, and just snow board down from there. And from that point on, I took the cheater's way out and carried my un-attached snowboard up the hill. Of course, this just winded me even more and made everything take three or four times as long. But I didn't have to use the rope.

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Yeah, guys . . . I'll meet you at the top . . . eventually . . . 

And, side note: snowboarding will make you ache for days. As lame as it sounds, I honestly yelped a little for the rest of the weekend any time I had to extend my arm more than a few inches. Pain can make you feel like a champ, though, even if 98% of it is just caused by being a fraidy-cat who carries her board up tall hills.


So, yeah. On to less-dangerous new experiences.

That same weekend, Brad and I went out to dinner with some friends for Ann Arbor's Restaurant Week. Basically, Restaurant Week is an event where local, upscale restaurants offer special, multi-course dinner menus at a flat rate of $28 per person. We chose The Earle, a classy, downtown restaurant that was packed to the brim with the weekend dining crowd. Being the newly-adventurous person that I am, I decided to go for something that I had never eaten before: duck.

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Quack, quack.

Duck is interesting . . . it almost has the consistency of beef, yet tastes like dark meat chicken. Brad liked it more than I did, but I was glad to try it nonetheless. Next time, I might go for a chicken dish or the amazing salmon puff that my friend, Laura, ordered.

I think there's one thing that's difficult to argue, though, and that's the fact that chocolate is always good. Here's a little shot of the mousse I ordered for dessert:

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Yeah, man. I probably could have just eaten a huge bowl of this and walked away satisfied.

I'm grateful for random bursts of courageous energy, but sometimes, you just need an old favorite at the end of the day. And that, my friends, is why God made chocolate.

How adventurous have you been lately? Are you fearless by nature, or do you have to give yourself a little kick to try things that are out of your comfort zone? I'd love to hear what crazy/amazing things you've been up to!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Day

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Living in Michigan in the winter is like living inside of a snow globe. On days like today, the whole world looks like it has been given a little shake, and we look out our windows and watch fluffy, white flakes swirl in circles around us. When it's over, the trees look like they're covered in powdered sugar and everything else is glazed in ice. It's not much for picnic weather, but it's something special to gaze at, that's for sure.

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The past week or two have been one snow day after the next, and while it's somewhat of a hindrance to get anywhere (the roads are all a big Slip 'n Slide), I can't help but feel like I'm eight years old again and wishing for more.

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If you're lucky enough to have the perfect amount of snow where you are, go outside and play. You can always fix some soup when it's time to go back inside.


P.S. If you have a couple extra minutes, I'd love for you to check out Pure Michigan's latest blog post--I'm the author! It's all about Michigan's amazing capital city, and can be found right here
Then, share it with all of your friends, co-workers, neighbors, your hairdresser, the guy down the street . . .

Monday, February 4, 2013

Being a Girl in the Age of Professional Football

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Now, I know I'm more than a stereotype, and I have nothing against members of the female species who enjoy a riveting sporting event, but when I gear up for something like the Super Bowl, I have different priorities in mind. Instead of crossing my fingers for red or purple teams, I'm making cupcakes (apparently, this is becoming a tradition). Instead of watching ESPN for pre-game predictions, I'm reading online stories about what Beyonce and the other two members of Destiny's Child might be singing during the halftime show. And . . . I think it goes without saying that I'm mostly excited about which commercial is going to make me LOL for the longest amount of time (but this last one might be everyone else in America, too).

For Football Extravaganza: XLVII Edition, Brad and I went to a Super Bowl party hosted by our friends, Ben and Katie. It didn't take long for the genders to separate--boys stayed downstairs to watch touchdowns, and girls went upstairs to . . . play Monopoly. Our game lasted about as long as the Super Bowl did, but we did take TV breaks for commercials and halftime entertainment. In the end, I missed a few ads, but nothing the Internet couldn't catch me up on this morning.

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Laura, Renee, and Katie during our Super Board Game (ha--see what I did there?).
Renee beat us mercilessly at the game, but we still like her.

How did you all enjoy the big game--did you eat any good variations on chicken wings or decorate in your favorite team's colors? I'd also love to hear what your favorite part of the show was: the Ravens' close win, the huge "lights out" moment (click here to see how Oreo and other brands rocked the power outage), Beyonce singing like a single lady, or the ads? Let me know!

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