Thursday, July 24, 2014

Detroit 2014: Day 5

The last day of our Detroit vacation arrived all too quickly! We were in no hurry to head back to sweltering Austin when Michigan was getting some lovely temperatures in the 70s. We took full advantage of the nice weather on our last day, heading down to the riverfront.

Jackson and Olivia's reaction whenever they encounter a splash pad is to run at top speed toward it.

I am really impressed by Detroit's riverwalk. The fountain makes it so inviting for kids, and the walking/biking path and lawn chairs make it a great place to spend the morning just hanging out and looking out across the water.

There's also a carousel!

Fittingly, all the animals are water creatures.

As we strolled along the path, I came across this tiny lending library. Love this idea!

After soaking in the perfect weather, we had lunch at Pegasus Taverna in Greektown. Real Greek food is hard to come by in Austin, so Tony wanted to experience it before we left. We started with saganaki, the flaming halloumi cheese dish. Jackson and Olivia are big fans of food that comes to your table on fire.

We also had skordalia, a potato and garlic dip that I will have to try to reproduce at home.

We also shared some roasted peppers before our entrees came.

I had the vegetable platter with green beans in tomato sauce, lemon potatoes, roast cauliflower, spanakopita, spinach rice pilaf, and peas. It was all so good. 

Finally, one last evening spent with Isabella. Jackson and Olivia were such good helpers. They constantly asked to hold and feed her.

We had a great visit, and I hope we will get to come back soon! I miss my sweet niece (and Sean and Melissa too, of course) already!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Detroit 2014: Day 4

Today we day-tripped up to Frankenmuth, "Michigan's Little Bavaria." Pretty much everything in town is German-themed, down to the lederhosen worn by servers in all the restaurants. My parents loved bringing Sean and me up here as kids, to spend the day shopping and eating. So we had to recreate the tradition with our own kids.

Frankenmuth is known for its fudge. There are at least three different shops where fudge is made. You can watch them rolling and cutting it on cool marble slabs, and it smells amazing.

We couldn't decide between salted caramel and pistachio, so we brought home both.

Speaking of sweets, here's my little cupcake.

Here she is later in the day. Her little legs were getting tired, and she was not a happy camper.

We took a break for food at Bavarian Inn.

A nice cold mug of Hoffbrau beer hit the spot.

For a German restaurant, Bavarian Inn surprised me with their tasty vegan and vegetarian menu. I had the breaded portabello burger on a pretzel bun, with fries. Whatever kind of breading they used was really well-seasoned, and the burger had a ton of flavor!

Izzy loves Frankenmuth.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Detroit 2014: Day 3

Today we woke up fairly early to visit the Heidelberg Project while Melissa worked a half-day.

This art project has been around for a long time, but this was my first time visiting. Sadly, I almost waited too long. In the past year, there has been a string of arson incidents. You can still see the charred outlines of the homes that burned, and the shrines erected in their memory.

The whole block is decorated, including the pavement.

Jackson and Olivia put on a little television show. 

Some more photos, just so you get an idea of what Heidelberg is.

I love that artists have made something unique and optimistic here, and I hope it can remain.

On our way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Sprout House for fresh veggie juices. You need veggies when traveling! Tony and I asked for the same thing -- kale, spinach, beets, carrots, and extra ginger to make it spicy!

I also bought a giant, vegan oatmeal raisin cookie.

Once we got back to our hotel, we had some time to chill in the swimming pool.

Then we spent the rest of the day with Sean, Melissa, and Miss Izzy. Look at that face! My sweet niece is full of attitude. We had Buddy's pizza for dinner and I think she was annoyed that she couldn't partake, due to not having teeth yet!

Tomorrow: all the German kitsch you can handle.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Detroit 2014: Day 2

We spent the second day of our vacation at the Detroit Zoo. Jackson and Olivia were ready to tour the zoo with their baby cousin Isabella and discuss the various animals with her.

We started out in the butterfly garden, both the flowers and butterflies were so gorgeous!

Next, the aviary...well, hello there, bright little guy!

Jackson and Olivia were able to communicate up close and personal with the prairie dogs.

On our way into the polar bear exhibit, this chipper dancing walrus sculpture made me smile.

We thought the underwater tunnel was a nice place to take a family photo.

Then a polar bear walked over our heads.

Afterwards we stopped for dinner at the Leo's Coney Island near our hotel. I had a Greek salad.

Tomorrow: art on the streets of Detroit.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Detroit 2014: Day 1

My younger brother Sean and his wife Melissa became first-time parents in January. My first niece! Well, Tony's nieces are my nieces, of course. But having a niece on your side of the family, who you've known since she was a baby, is a special thing. I've been soooo excited to meet her, and last week it was finally time to fly up to Detroit and visit.

This was Olivia's first time on an airplane. As you can see, she was super excited. She kept exclaiming, "I can't believe I am flying!" and trying to peek out the window. 

We arrived in Detroit in the afternoon and headed over to Sean and Melissa's. Isabella was wide awake and ready to meet everyone!

We also met Sammy, Sean and Melissa's year-old puppy. Thanks to her underbite, Sammy looks like she is pouting all the time. I think she needs to become internet-famous like Grumpy Cat.

For dinner, Sean and Melissa suggested Crispellis, a bakery/pizza/sandwich cafe. I had the veggie panini with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, arugula, cucumber and feta, with a side of fries. Because Crispellis bakes their own bread, the bread was the best part of the sandwich -- light yet chewy.

For dessert, Tony and I shared a slice of tiramisu with the kids. The espresso flavor turned off the littles. More for us, hehehe.

Afterwards, it was back to the house to chill with Izzy some more. Tomorrow, the zoo.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cooking from The Oh She Glows Cookbook

One more day of catch-up posting before I get to recapping our Detroit trip! Today was "take your kid to work day" at Tony's office. The minimum age was five, so Olivia will be able to go next year. Today, though, it was just the boys, heading out bright and early (note the sleepy expressions!)

While Jackson learned what Daddy does all day, Olivia and I headed to the Blanton museum for their "Cats and Dogs" exhibit.

Human-sized cat toys, ha!

Monster's tongue is always out, so apparently he is friendly. Or, his tongue is just too big for his mouth.

Olivia got to make her own art, as well.

Here are some recent eats, on the light side since we really indulged on our vacation. Breakfast smoothie with cherries, banana, kale, coconut milk, raw chocolate protein powder, maca, chlorella, almond extract and stevia. Topped with hemp granola.

I'd never tried snow pea shoots, so they were an impulse purchase.

I threw them on a salad for extra vitamins. The pasta is Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta from The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I looooove this cookbook, and I've been getting a lot of use out of it, as you'll see.

The first recipe I made from Angela's book was Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas. The chickpeas really do absorb the salt and vinegar flavor. Olivia loved them and begged me to make another batch.

The Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich was another winner. A nice quick lunch on whole wheat bread with snow pea shoots.

Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons was amazing. The tomato soup tasted just like Campbell's only creamier, and without that metallic "soup from a can" taste. The savory, crunchy chickpeas melted into the soup and added extra flavor. Who needs crackers?

I'll probably have more photos of stuff I made from this cookbook next week, because I can't put it down. 

Finally, I want to say thanks to Gail of Hungry Vegan! I was the winner of her Vegan Chocolate giveaway. Me and my sweet tooth are so excited to use this gorgeous hardcover cookbook by Fran Costigan. It's pristine and beautiful now, but I predict it will soon be covered in flour and chocolate fingerprints!