Mr. and Mrs. Foley

As a lobbyist, the election cycle runs my life. Starting from about Labor Day in even numbered years, it’s election crunch time and my schedule is incredibly busy. But when your best friend from law school gets married, you make time at the end of September, even in an election year. We actually took an extra day, even, because my brother-in-law’s family was in from England and Friday was their last day in Michigan, so we came in on Thursday night around 9. After a full day of traveling (and no flight delays this time!), we were wiped, so we just went back to my mom’s house and went to bed pretty much right away.


Friday dawned clear and warm. We were smiled upon by the capricious Michigan weather gods during this trip: we had perfect Indian summer weather the whole time we were there, 70s and sunny. The first thing we did on Friday was head out to the Dexter Cider Mill, because that was one thing I’d really wanted to do while we were there. Since this ain’t my first Cider Mill rodeo, I thought it would be best to go on Friday morning to avoid crowds. And I was right! We got our cider and donuts and then headed back into Lakeland to spend a few hours going down the Huron River Chain of Lakes on the boat. It was a perfect boat ride: minimal traffic, amazing weather, lots of cool wildlife (turtles sunning themselves, cranes, eagles, etc). We ate snacks and drank booze and hung out on the water and it was great. I really liked being able to do the kind of things with Drew that were regular, enjoyable parts of my life before I moved to Nevada…I don’t know that he always really understands my bouts of homesickness and showing him what exactly I miss makes me feel like he can get a better perspective on things.


After lake time, we went into Ann Arbor for dinner at Palio with Tom’s family. All but one member of his family had been there for a two week trip: his mom, dad, and sister came, but his younger brother couldn’t. We didn’t get to spend a ton of time with them, but it was a lovely dinner and it was obvious that his family are good people. Not the stereotypical British reserve one might have expected, they were warm and friendly, and I’m happy for my sister that she has such great in-laws.


Saturday we’d planned to go into Hell, since I’d not taken Drew outside of Lakeland/Hamburg last time he was there, but he needed to get a new shirt for the wedding later that night and we needed to go to Howell for that and we didn’t have enough time to do that whole trip. So, instead, I took him to one of my favorite local spots that I’m always afraid I’m going to read one day is closing: Cap’n Frosty. It’s a truly small-town local place, and I’ve been getting ice cream there for decades. It feels like it’s inevitable that, like so many things about Pinckney since we first moved there when I was 5, it will fall by the wayside and just become a memory. But it was still standing, and now Drew’s gotten to have a cup of ice cream there with me.


After our jaunt to Howell, we got our stuff together and headed out to Plymouth for the wedding. We got a room at the Hilton Garden Inn because it was only 3 miles from the venue and we didn’t want to have to deal with driving back to Pinckney after having fun, so we checked in, changed, and drove the three miles to the Our Lady of Good Counsel church for Patrick and Kelcie’s wedding. It’s so cheeseball to say, but being there to be a part of those two starting the rest of their lives together was so meaningful to me. And, of course, the party was a blast. There were several of us law school kids there, and getting to see and catch up with Leland and Daniel, who I haven’t seen since I graduated, and Steve, who I haven’t seen since his own wedding about two years ago, made my heart happy. And the booze made my body happy…for the night anyways.


Which is why I felt awesome about my clutch planning the next day…we were planning on meeting my dad in Ann Arbor for lunch on our way back to Pinckney and I’d suggested the Fleetwood Diner. It’s a total greasy spoon, and the famous Hippie Hash took the edge off my slightly icky feeling from the partying. Afterwards, we stopped in my old favorite Rock Paper Scissors and I bought a new Michigan mug because I’m obsessed with Michigan. And then I dragged Drew all the way up to campus so we could get some Iorio’s gelato. It’s the only gelato I’ve had outside Italy that tastes like actual Italian gelato to me, so I was desperate to get some while I had the chance. Between the lunch and the treat, it was a good thing that it was a long walk back to the car to burn some of that off.


And then we packed up, drove to the airport, and made the long journey back to Reno. It was a short weekend, but honestly, it’s hard to imagine it going more perfectly than it did. We had a bunch of fun, the weather was almost criminally gorgeous, and I got to spend lots of time with people I care about. In some ways, going back to Michigan is hard, because I feel so anchored there. Everything feels so right, so natural. There are still moments in Reno where I find the mountains all around me to be slightly unreal, but the lush green of the Ann Arbor area feels like home. I wonder if it will ever stop feeling that way.


I Cooked: Caprese Quinoa

I love a good Caprese salad. What’s not to like? Basil, tomato, and mozzarella are three great things even better together. So when I found this recipe, which combines them with quinoa and throws the whole affair in a casserole dish, how could I say no? Soup and Such has lots of straightforward vegetarian recipes, so definitely a good resource to check out.


1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1.5 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup grated parmesan
Big handful of basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
1 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. First, prepare the quinoa. Combine the rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with the water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until almost all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit (covered) for about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and set aside.

2. Combine cooked quinoa, marinara sauce, half of the mozzarella, and almost all of the sliced tomatoes in a medium bowl. Stir in the red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Then, fold in half of the basil. Transfer the quinoa mixture to a 2-quart baking dish that has been coated lightly with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella and all of the parmesan cheese on top. Place the remainder of the sliced tomatoes on top.

3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until hot and bubbly. The cheese should be a little brown and everything should be heated through. Serve and enjoy!


This was one of my favorite kind of dinners: pretty short ingredient list, just a couple steps, and not time consuming…and delicious! Pretty healthy to boot…there are several versions of this out there that call for heavy cream that I’m sure taste magical, but there was enough cheese in this dish as is and I wasn’t looking to rack up the extra calories. It took about 45 minutes from beginning to end, but that includes 20 minutes for the quinoa cooking and sitting before getting mixed up, and then another 15 minutes of baking. Prepping the tomatoes and basil can be done while the quinoa is cooking, and then most of the cleanup can happen while it’s baking, so all that was left at the end to do was take care of the casserole dish and the bowls. If I were to make this again (and I will), I’ll leave out the step at the end that I followed originally, which was to add more shredded basil on top of the dish when it comes out of the oven. Since that basil hadn’t had time to bake, it was kind of chewy and I didn’t care for the texture. So I peeled the rest of it off and liked it better. This was so good reheated that I fought with Drew a little over the leftovers (when you do the buying and the baking and the cleaning up, though, you also win the leftover war). I gave him a bite, though. I’m not heartless! Anyways, this is good and easy and you should make it. Deal? Deal.

I Went: Downtown Container Park

Since I have friends that live in Las Vegas, I’d been hearing about the Downtown Container Park for a while, and how cool it was and how much people liked it. When we were making plans for what to do in Las Vegas, I insisted that we get off of the Strip for a little while and go out there so Amelia and Tom could see at least a little of what the entire rest of Las Vegas that isn’t the Strip is about.


Like its name might suggest, Container Park is made up of little shops (food, booze, and retail) in shipping containers. There are a lot of different options to choose from: lots of clothing/jewelry type stores (including a place that sold leggings in like every imaginable variety), a few gift shops, some artist boutiques. And then there are few restaurants and even a bar, which is where we deposited Tom and Drew while Amelia and I went shopping. We wandered in and out of various stores…Amelia bought an adorable new dress, the pink flowered headband below for a music festival she went to this summer, and Darth Vader cufflinks for Tom. I bought myself two new pairs of earrings, which are my favorite accessory. This is a great concept for people who are just getting started in their business: it lets them get a small space and there is a steady flow of customers, so they don’t have a ton of start-up costs. In pretty much all of the more “artisan” type places we stopped (like a place that did watches), it was the actual designer of the merchandise that was there manning the store. All said and done, we spent about 2 hours there and it was a really fun way to spend an afternoon outside of the carnival that is the Strip.


Downtown Container Park is located at 707 Fremont Street, in downtown Las Vegas, NV. There’s a wide variety of shopping options, they’re all independently owned and the stores are pretty small. Prices vary depending on the store you’re visiting. Recommended for a lazy afternoon of shopping.




Last Thursday, I turned 29. I think I’ve officially entered the stage of my life where any birthday not ending in 0 or 5 is just a stopgap, a marker along the way. 27 was the last exciting birthday, for me. 27 was where I entered my late twenties, and the way things have settled down in just those two short years is remarkable. Between 25 and 27, so many things happened; I was doing and exploring and figuring out so many things about myself, who I was, and what I wanted from my life. Since 27, things have gotten more and more stable, and I’ve grown up so much.

That’s not to say that I didn’t do anything this past year. Oh no. On the contrary, this past year I:

  • Took Drew back to Michigan to meet my family, only the second time I’ve done a “meet the family” roll-out.
  • Watched my little sister get married to a wonderful man that treats her like she’s his everything.
  • Spent a long weekend in Las Vegas with my sister and brother-in-law.
  • Had emergency gallbladder removal surgery.
  • Saw two of my college roommates get married in New York City.
  • Had my best friends since elementary school come visit me in Reno.
  • Watched my dear friend Patrick marry the love of his life.

It’s been a wonderful, full year. Next year I’ll be 30. I’m already thinking about maybe planning a big party, something like a weekend in Napa with my friends. 29 was a low-key kind of thing. It was a weekday, so I went to work and had meetings and the whole bit, and afterwards Drew took me out for dinner at La Famiglia, which is my favorite Italian place in town. He got me a dress that I really like, and then we went home and drank some beer. Boom. Birthday. Veni, vidi, vici. See you in a year, 30.


I Cooked: Moroccan Tofu with Israeli Couscous

So a while back, I bought a big thing of Israeli couscous for a recipe I was making and it’s been hanging out in my cupboards ever since. Which is what made finding this recipe even more awesome…not only does it feature lots of my usual favorite ingredients, it’s a way to use up some of my Israeli couscous! Victory! And if you’d like some more recipes for straightforward and delicious vegetarian food, you should head over to The Seated Cook and check out everything she has to offer!


1 cup Israaeli (pearl) couscous
1 1/4 cup water

1 package super firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 large squash, diced
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Heat the tofu with the olive oil in a large pan and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until tofu slightly browns, then add in the squash, and cook until that lightly browns. Add in diced tomatoes, chickpeas, paprika, cumin and cinnamon. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes.

While tofu is simmering, prepare couscous by boiling water, adding couscous, and then turning down to a simmer for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once couscous is cooked & fluffed, serve the tofu on top of the couscous and enjoy!


So I totally loved this. It’s super easy to make, very little prep work needed (just dicing the tofu and squash, really). With both tofu and chickpeas in the mix, it’s really filling. The spice profile is mellow, but gives it flavor. I’d say it took about 40 minutes to come together, start to finish. There were plenty of leftover (that whole “filling” thing), and they tasted just as good reheated for dinner like 3 times this week. This recipe is definitely going to get used again!

I Ate: Park on Fremont

Amelia and I actually have a family friend who lives in Las Vegas: one of my best childhood friends Mary’s older sister Lindsay. She’s been out in Las Vegas for about 4-5 years now, so Amelia got in touch when our plans were made and we all agreed to meet up for lunch on Saturday. Since no sensible Las Vegan goes to the Strip unless they absolutely have to, we met downtown and she suggested Park on Fremont as a good lunch spot.


This is a really neat, funky little place. It’s overdosed on the quirk factor a little, but not to the point where you wanted to roll your eyes (the sign in the bathroom said that “Employees must say Bloody Mary in the mirror three times before returning to work” rather than the usual admonition about hand-washing because seriously, everyone knows to do that). The food offerings are pretty underwhelming: a handful of appetizers, some burgers, and some salads. My Caesar salad was pretty standard issue: it’s hard to screw up lettuce, croutons, and cheese, but besides a veggie burger, that was my only option on the menu. The drink menu, on the other hand, was fabulous. They had a ton of interesting cocktails and interesting beers. Even my sister and I, neither of whom are especially enthusiastic beer drinkers, both found beers we liked. It was a good place to grab a bite and a drink and catch up with an old friend.


Park on Fremont is located at 506 Fremont St in downtown Las Vegas, NV. Service was good. Prices are maybe a little higher than they should have been ($10-12 burgers and salads), but not exorbitant or anything. Not highly recommended for vegetarians, because there isn’t much for us there, and would probably be best as a lunch or happy hour spot unless you’re looking for a fairly insubstantial dinner.

Birchbox: September 2014


Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy Gold Couture: I’ve gotten at least a half dozen Juicy Couture perfume samples over the past few years, and they have uniformly made me smell, to quote Mean Girls, like a baby prostitute. Not this one though! This is the first one I’ve actually been able to stand, and even kind of liked. I don’t like it so much I’ll go out and buy it, but I’ll probably bring it along when I’m traveling as a perfume to wear, which is A LOT more than I can say for any of the other samples.

Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate: This was my chosen sample this month, so I was excited for it. But the first day I used it, I had a spot flare up on one of my cheeks. I don’t know if I reacted to something in the cream or if it was a coincidence, but it’s made me wary of trying it again. Bummer.

TEMPTU S/B Highlighter: I don’t really feel qualified to opine on the quality of a highlighter, since it’s something I never use in real life. That being said, this was easy to apply and had a nice shimmer. I’ll never use it again, though.

Dear Clark, Resurrecting Wash: I think the conceit of calling your shampoo and conditioner a wash and a rinse is too cute by half. But about the actual product, I really did not care for the smell. It’s a very herbal, almost medicinal kind of scent…it smells like the remedy section of a health food store. If that’s what you’re looking for in a shampoo, awesome. Also, this is another low-lather shampoo so I had to use it twice to get my hair feeling clean. I appreciate that it’s very natural and all that, but it’s not for me.

Dear Clark, Resurrecting Rinse: See above. I used these in tandem. For the conditioner, an extra complaint arises about the packaging. The bottles are a hard plastic, so they aren’t squeezeable. While you can shake the shampoo out because it’s more liquid-y, the conditioner I had to dig out using my fingernails as scoops. Poor thinking there.

All in all, this wasn’t an awesome Birchbox for me in terms of results, but at least the things in there were almost all things I would actually use.

Five for Friday: Maroon 5

Ok, I know Adam Levine is a douchebag. He’s got one of those faces that makes you want to punch him a little, even though he’s pretty attractive. And I know it’s not “good” music by any reasonable definition of such. But it’s the kind of stuff that’s usually fun to sing along to, and I’ve never pretended to have good taste in music anyways. So here are five of my favorite jams by Maroon 5 (as always, no more than one off each album):

  • Animals: I’ve only listened to the new album through just the once so far, but this was the early standout for me. I know I’m doing a list of my favorite Maroon 5 songs and so I shouldn’t rip on them too hard, but after the first two albums, I feel like listening to each new one is like trying to find the few salvageable songs amidst a lot of dreck. Which probably means I should stop buying them. Hmm. Anyways, this song is kind of terrible, but I really like it.
  • One More Night: So catchy. Having been in those relationships where it’s pretty much you’re either fighting or doing it, this was a fun little song to sing and dance it out to. From the safety of my nice, normal, stable relationship, because that stuff can suck when you’re in the middle of it
  • If I Never See Your Face Again: I prefer the version with Rihanna guesting, but it’s fine either way. It’s song about those “relationships” you have (maybe not you? maybe just me and most of my friends?) when you’re in college…you’re hooking up and kind of want it to be more, maybe, maybe not really, I don’t know. This song makes me remember those day with a mixture of wistfulness for a time when the world seemed so full of romantic possibility and the regret for what I thought qualified as a romantic possibility at the time.
  • Secret: Songs About Jane is a great CD for the car (is this still a thing?)…there’s a good mix of uptempo songs with slower ballads, it sounds cohesive without every song sounding exactly the same, you can sing along pretty easily, etc. So it’s hard to pick a favorite, because the whole disc feels like summer driving during college to me. But Secret is the one that I find myself replaying the most often, so there it is. I’ve never been really sure that it’s about a one-night stand, even though I think that it is, but it’s definitely about sex and it’s moody-sounding, which is what I usually go for,
  • Stutter: I am somehow just figuring out now that pretty much all of their songs are about girls. And by girls, I mean sex.


I Saw: September 2014

Again, busy scheduling (work! friends in town! wedding!) kept me from making serious progress towards my movie watching. But I did get through six this month at least!


Philomena: 7/10

Waaaay back when, I saw a movie called The Magdalene Sisters, about the abuse perpetrated by Irish convent laundries. I’ve long since forgotten the actual plot, but I remember the general idea about young women, deemed “fallen” for one reason or another, being sent to the nuns and subjected to a punishing work schedule and very hard life. This movie, based on a true story, focuses on what happened to those women after their time at the laundries: an elderly woman, Philomena, who had gotten pregnant as a young woman and was dropped off at the convent, pairs up with a journalist to find out what happened to the son that she bore while she was with the nuns that was adopted out from under her. Judi Dench plays Philomea wonderfully, shy but with a sparkle: she’s still a devout Catholic, determined to find out what happened to her Anthony but needing the needling of Steve Coogan’s journalist to really push her far enough outside of her comfort zone to actually get some answers.


Hoop Dreams: 8/10

This was a movie I actually watched with Drew…sports (and history) documentaries are a place where our movie interests actually intersect. He’d seen parts of this before, but I’d never seen any of it, and it seems as sadly relevant now as it was then. It focuses on two 14 year olds in inner-city Chicago neighborhoods who draw the attention of a talent scout for St. Joe’s, a fancy suburban prep school that recruits them to come play basketball. Both of them dream of one day playing in the NBA, not in the least to draw themselves and their families out of their rough economic conditions. One of the young men lives up to his freshman promise and gets to stay, the other one doesn’t and suddenly finds his funding evaporating. Their paths diverge from there, and it’s fascinating to watch how their high school careers and college recruiting play out. The movie isn’t confined to just them playing basketball though…we see their families and their home lives as well. It’s easy to see how basketball (and sports, more generally) becomes the default road out of poverty for the athletes in these areas.


The Official Story: 5/10

I wonder, to a certain extent, how much my failure to connect with this movie had to do with the fact that I did not at all understand the context behind it. I knew nothing of the Argentine “Dirty War” and had to pause and read up on Wikipedia before I had any handle of what was going on. The movie is set at the tail end of the repressive government period and deals with a couple who have a little girl that they adopted at birth. The mother , Alicia, is a teacher and the father, Roberto, is a government official. Alicia is infertile, and was so happy when she got her daughter that she didn’t stop to ask questions. But once she hears that people who had been “disappeared” had their children taken away, she becomes obsessed with the idea that this is how she got her own child and embarks on a hunt for the truth. I didn’t feel like there was much character-building of Alicia and her family before the movie was pitched into high drama, so I found it difficult to really get invested in Alicia’s emotional struggle, which was pretty much the point of the movie, and therefore, it didn’t really do much for me.


Veronica Mars: 6/10

Along with BtVS, Veronica Mars was one of my favorite TV shows. Well, the first two season anyways. The third season was pretty meh. But anyways, I love Veronica Mars, and I was super stoked when the Kickstarter to make the movie was funded. And I’m a terrible fan, but I just finally got around to seeing it. And honestly? It wasn’t great, y’all. It was very uneven. Some things were really good: Kristen Bell still has great chemistry with Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen is a criminally underrated comic talent, and seeing all the old favorites back on screen was great. The writing was a little hit or miss…I feel like the pressure to cover the basics/keep things pretty straightforward for people who hadn’t seen the series kept it from being as good as it could have been. The script and plot just felt like they weren’t very tight. Basically, it felt like a two-hour episode of the show that would have been great if it had been edited down to an hour but ended up being less awesome than I was really hoping for. Also, I was distracted by Bell’s obvious early pregnancy the entire time, but that wasn’t something anyone could have done anything about.


Ryan’s Daughter: 4/10

This movie felt interminable. It’s legitimately long at 3 hours and 15 minutes, and it’s hard for movies that long to not, well, feel long. Even long movies that I enjoy (“The Lord of the Rings”, for example, or “Gone With The Wind”), I’m always aware that I’m watching a long movie, and I’ll take breaks for food, the bathroom, whatever, as needed. When I say this movie felt like it would never end, it’s not a commentary just on its length. It’s also a comment on its quality, which was not good. It’s not that the story is a total loser: the love triangle is a long-standing plot device for a reason, and a love triangle set against the backdrop of armed conflict is almost as timeless. But the lack of chemistry between the leads takes all the wind out of its sails…Sarah Miles has chemistry with neither Robert Mitchum (who plays his role very well) nor Christopher Jones (who plays his role with all the emotional range of a plank of wood). Miles herself is lovely, but completely mediocre in her part. It needed a much firmer hand in the editing room…it felt like it was going for epic scale, but just came up as bloated.


Changeling: 7/10

I went in expecting a decent-to-good movie mostly featuring Angelina Jolie in 20s costumes as a primary attraction. What I got was an unexpectedly strong feminist story about men in positions of power abusing their authority, punishing women who had the nerve to stand up to them. The script could have been tighter…the story needed to wind down more efficiently after the plot climax, which meant that the ending felt kind of tacked on. The last ten minutes or so felt superfluous. This is the kind of performance from Jolie that reminds you why she won an Oscar and isn’t just the kick-ass hot action girl from Tomb Raider: she takes a role that could have gotten one dimensional and fleshes her out to be a real person. Liked it better than I was expecting to, definitely.

You Don’t Own Me

It’s hard, sometimes, when you’re in love, to remember that the person you love is a completely separate human. That they don’t necessarily actually think about and react to every situation exactly the way you might think they do. What’s more, they don’t actually think about and react to every situation the way you’d like them too. The impulse to control the ones we love isn’t usually borne of malice, I don’t think, but more of an interaction of wanting to see our loved ones as their best selves…and (selfishly) thinking that they way we want them to act would be best.

We all have that friend who begs off coming to hang out at the bar because their significant other doesn’t want them to. And sometimes that’s probably an excuse because they’re actually just too tired and don’t feel like getting in a five minute argument about how lame they’re being if they actually said that. And sometimes there is a good reason why they’re being held back: they have a date that night, or plans for the next day that require an early wakeup call or just a non-hungover companion. But sometimes it’s because the other person is controlling, and even when it doesn’t rise to a level where there are concerns about the relationship being dangerous, I’m still not sure it’s healthy.

I’ve struggled with this myself, honestly. When I dated Sean, I would get really upset about him going and doing anything Greek system-related without me. I wanted him to stop being friends with girls I found threatening (usually simply because they were attractive), and did not respond well when that didn’t happen. I wasn’t trying to be an asshole, I just young and in love and scared. Scared that if he was doing what he really wanted, he’d spend less time with me, like me less. Having never dated anyone before him, much less actually been in a relationship, I was painfully insecure about my own romantic worth. This pattern continued, to a lesser extent, with Jay. I’d figured out at that point that other people generally don’t like it when you try to control them, so it wasn’t as direct. I would call him several times in a row if he didn’t pick up, trying to force him to answer just to keep the phone from ringing again. I’d be cold and distant if he did something I didn’t like even if I hadn’t asked him not to do it. I’d “suggest” things I’d like for him to do and if he objected, shrug it off but freeze him out. I knew that these relationships weren’t in good places, and that my own behavior didn’t help that, but I couldn’t seem to help myself.

I make a conscious effort to not be controlling with Drew. And he’s not controlling with me either. And it’s kind of great, actually. Sure, we have spats here and there about things that the other one has done, but for the most part we’re just open with each other about what we want and talk it out when we disagree. We’re both in a place where we’re dedicated enough to our relationship to make an effort to work things out instead of eyeballing the exit when there are bumps. It’s hard sometimes, because my habits from the past are ingrained and I’m used to asking for what I want not being an option. But every time I manage to override that inclination to try to control him and just ask for what I want like a normal person, I’m reminded that I’m in it with someone who’s just as dedicated to our relationship as I am and that’s an awesome feeling.