Dating Jazz

Opposites

I married a man who is very different than me.  Although we both have shared affection for gourmet food, fine libations, and good music, there are many qualities that we don’t share.  For instance, I am very affectionate and can’t see why other people have a problem with most forms of PDA.  On the other hand, if Jazz is embracing me and someone comes even close to our vicinity,  he almost pushes me across the room.  I love a good party.  The more people, the better.  Jazz would rather hide alone in Plato’s cave with his fine library of books for all eternity.

Many of our differences we have been able to cope with just fine, but this weekend we face a big one: hot weather.  I love heat and Jazz despises it.  And we are traveling to Phoenix, where the highs right now are around 105°F.  While I am looking forward to a good dose of dry heat and sleeveless shirts, I am having a hard time convincing Jazz that this trip will be even a little fun in light of the temperature gage and the whole flying on an airplane with a 17-month-old thing.  The optimist and the pessimist, yet again, more opposites.  Although these preferences and passions may conflict with one another, I am becoming more and more convinced that these differences make us more whole and healthy people.  We give each other new perspective, break open each other’s boxes.  If only this concept worked for Congress.  

While Keeping Willow will be on vacation the next few days, I am sure that when we get back there will be many stories and perspectives to be told.  Hopefully no more children will end up in any other forms of water.

x0x0

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Culture

The Little Fleet | impressive all-ages bar in Traverse City

On our trip up to Traverse City last weekend, we stumbled upon a tiny bar that not only had an impeccable design, carefully curated beer and cocktail menu, a refreshing ambiance, and variety of delicious food just steps away, but was also incredibly friendly to families and non-alcohol drinkers alike. And we fell head over heals. Listen, I like Grand Rapids.  It is a quickly evolving city that has grown on me since my teenage years.  But the bar scene is one that thinks it’s to cool for school -or school aged children that is.

This isn’t my first rant about this issue.  If you’ve read my post, “The Death of Cool”, you’ll know how frustrated I am that my family can’t find a decent place to get a drink and a high chair in the same establishment without venturing onto the “Champs-Elyse” of Grand Rapids, with it’s never-ending array of chain restaurant establishments (I’m talking about 28th street, and I’m being sarcastic). But when we walked into Traverse City’s, The Little Fleet and saw sidewalk chalk all over the floor, table tennis and yes, a high chair, we were sold.  But listen, the family friendlyness of this establishment is just the tip of the iceberg.  All family friendlyness aside, this place is so awesome.  Bars everywhere, you have a lot to learn from The Little Fleet.

The Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping Willow The first thing you’ll notice when you walk onto the property of The Little Fleet is a caravan of food trucks.  When you read the menus, you will find these trucks are targeting foodies who care about food as much as we do.  The Little Fleet rents out, what would be a parking lot space, to various food trucks, from brunch, to ribs, to ice cream.  If you want something to eat, you grab some food from one of the various trucks, bring it into the bar, sit down with your beer in the lovely outdoor garden area or inside the gorgeous building, which used to be a beer and wine store we frequented.  We are breakfast people so we decided on the brunch truck, Toasted.  A yogurt and fruit cup for Willow, brunch bowl for me and a brunch burger (sub burger for extra cheesy potato patty) for Jazz.

The Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe second thing you’ll notice about The Little Fleet is the ambiance.  A light, wood paneled ceiling, minimalist and tasteful decor, open garage doors to let the beautiful TC air in, and a stellar bar.  When I talked to bar owner, Gary Jonas, he didn’t think that a bar needed to be dark and dingy.  When the Jonas family (yep, they have two kids) opened two bars in NYC, they played with this open, family friendly concept.  The result, they found, created a community of sorts that was refreshing.  While they have received some complaints about their openness to children, they have pressed on trusting that what they are doing best suits the majority of their clientele.  And I think they’re right.  The atmosphere Jonas created here makes it feel like you’re sitting on the porch with friends, enjoying a conversation and a drink (well, a really amazing porch and one of your friends just happens to be a mixologist).

The Little Fleet offers weekly events including Bluegrass Fridays, a Gypsy market on Sundays and a class for kids, ages 1-3, on Mondays with singing and dancing (seriously, how much cooler can this place get).  You can have a beer, a cup of Higher Grounds Coffee, an ice cream cone or a sippy cup.  The Little Fleet takes the scene out of the bar and makes it something normal and extraordinary.

The Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | family friendly bar in Traverse City | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | family friendly bar in Traverse City | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe third thing you’ll notice about The Little Fleet is the choice drink menu.  While they have a nice beer selection, I was most impressed by their selection of craft liquor and their signature cocktail menu. The liquor collection is stocked with hard-to-find craft and local liquor. The Little Fleet makes all of the mixers for their cocktails, from the simple syrup to the bitters, from scratch.  I could smell someone mulling mint while my friend Fernando mixed us up a couple cocktails.  The cocktail menu was simple, about 6 items, but every recipe was a tried and true, one-of-a-kind creation.  I had an American Rye Whiskey combination of secret ingredients (they wouldn’t tell me what) that blew my mind. Jazz had a ginger beer, vodka dream that was indescribably delicious.  I’m telling you, the caliber of these drinks far surpassed anything we’ve had in Grand Rapids, and they were cheap.  What would have cost us $9-10 in GR cost $6-7.  We will always make a stop at this quaint little bar every time we make a trip up north.

The Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping Willow

Fernando, getting it done.

The Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowThe Little Fleet | Traverse City family friendly bar | Keeping WillowWhether you’re a family of foodies, friends who want a laid back atmosphere (where you can actually hear each others conversations) or a cocktail aficionado, The Little Fleet is the place for you.  The staff was warm and welcoming.  Having a child running around was welcomed rather than a nuisance.  As millennials transition into parenthood, I believe this is the direction bars in the future will be going.  And it’s a really good direction.  Grand Rapids, you better change your ideas of what a good bar is -because the times they are a changing.

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Adventures, Parenthood

We Let Our Child Fall in the River

Yes.  You read it correctly.  We let Willow fall in a river.

Last weekend we made a trip up to Traverse City to visit with family.

We made all the usual stops.  We took a walk on the State Hospital grounds (aka Grand Traverse Commons), an old, run down mental hospital, which is equally as beautiful as it is creepy,  that is being transformed into cool shops and condos.

Keeping WillowKeeping Willow Keeping Willow Keeping Willow Keeping Willow

We stopped by Oryana (the most amazing food coop and sanctuary for foodies and health nuts alike).

Keeping Willow | Oryana Food Coop, Traverse City Keeping Willow | Oryana Food Coop, Traverse City

Played and ate some treats.

Keeping Willow Keeping Willow

But the main reason we went up that weekend was to take a family photo as a gift to Jazz’s parents.  We stopped by the old train station and took some cute shots and then headed over to a park along the Boardman River for some natural beauty.

Keeping Willow

When we first arrived, all of the children went running to the river to check out the family of baby geese.  The other parents firmly told their children to back away from the river, but not us.  Willow had never seen a river before and besides, we were both right there to supervise her.  I was taking lots of photos and Jazz was staying close by.  When it was time to continue our photo session, Jazz took Willow’s hand and headed back toward the rest of the family.  But Willow had other ideas and, as she most frequently does as a means to show her independence, pulled her hand from Jazz’s grip.  She pulled with such force that it caused her to fall.  She fell so hard in fact, that she rolled right into the Boardman River.  Listen folks, this was no stream.  It’s a deep and wide river and Willow had a full-submersion-baptism into its dark waters.  Luckily, Jazz was able to grab her foot and just after she completely submerged into the water, was able to fish her out with one mighty lift.

Keeping Willow

The moment just before the fall

Keeping Willow Keeping Willow Keeping Willow

I went right into mama bear mode and started stripping the girl ferociously of her wet clothes.  We wrapped her in coats and blankets and sweaters.  As a result, half of the photos display a wadded up ball of wet blankets in place of Willow.  We should have heeded the advice of the other, more experienced parents.  Because although in hind sight it was quite hilarious, it could have been much worse. I will never forget the look she gave just before her head went under the water. I guess this is one of the stories that every parent has of how they kind of botched things up a little.  Willow will never hear the end of it.

I am thankful for my husbands Spiderman-like reflexes and for the second chance to learn from our mistakes.

xoxo

 

 

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Adventures

Farmer’s Market Saturday

Farmer's Market Sunday | Keeping WillowFarmer's Market Saturday | Keeping WillowFarmer's Market Saturday | Keeping WillowFarmer's Market Saturday | Keeping Willowimage imageFarmer's Market Saturday | Keeping Willowimageimageimagephoto 3-3photo 4-3photo 1-3photo 5-2photo 4-2photo-8photo 2-4Last weekend we went to the Downtown Market to buy a Mother’s Day gift for my mom and grab some veggies at the farmers market. Here is the recipe I made with the veggies I bought. We bought some chocolate, baked goods and French Brie (all my mom’s favorites), ate tacos and grabbed some sunshine on the upstairs balcony.

Farmer's Market Saturday | Keeping WillowFarmer's Market Saturday | Keeping WillowOn our way out, Willow crawled into this small space behind the Aperitivo wine display. I couldn’t reach her. Wine bottle down. Heated discussion about parenting on the trip home as a result.

photo 2-3Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day.

xoxo

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Lunch

A Spring Salad | spinach, golden beets, smokey poached egg, asparagus and sliced avocado

This weekend we went to the Downtown Market to get some Mother’s Day goodies for my mom and picked up some veggies at the outdoor farmer’s market along the way. Some of my favorite “best of Michigan” veggies are already available: Spinach, asparagus and beets. I made this delicious salad for lunch the other day with the ingredients from the market, a fresh egg from some guy with chickens in his backyard near our house, some creamy avocado slices and a super light lemon honey vinaigrette.

Spring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, golden roasted beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping Willow

The golden beets were sweet and earthy and the asparagus crisp and fresh. The vinaigrette I made is very mild, meant to enhance the flavors of the vegetables and not overpower them.

Spring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping WillowSpring spinach salad | smokey poached egg, roasted golden beets, asparagus, avocado slices and honey lemon vinaigrette | Keeping Willow

This salad is perfect for a light lunch or as a beautiful dinner salad. Enjoy!

xoxo

Spinach Salad with Roasted Golden Beets, Smokey Poached Egg, Asparagus and Sliced Avocado tossed with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette.
Makes 2 lunch portioned salads or 1 large dinner salad to share

Salad Ingredients//
3 cups fresh spinach, cleaned and washed
6 asparagus, blanched (separate directions at bottom)
2 golden beets, washed, roasted and diced (separate directions at bottom)
2 eggs poached in 1 Tbsp smoked salt and 2 tsp vinegar (separate direction at bottom)
1 avocado, sliced
1 Recipe of Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (below)

Salad Method//
Toss your spinach, asparagus, and beets together with the Honey Lemon Vinaigrette. Place on a plate or in a large salad bowl.  Top with avocado slices and poached eggs.

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients//
1 tbsp shallot, minced
1 tsp honey
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Vinaigrette Method//
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the shallot, honey, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Using a spouted measuring cup, slowly drizzle in olive oil while strongly whisking the mixture together.  Once all the oil is incorporated, taste the vinaigrette and adjust seasoning to taste.

Further instructions for preparing vegetables:

BEETS | Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Cut both ends off the beets so they are flat on the top and the bottom.  Take two small (about 6″x6″) pieces of tin foil and place one beet in the center of each.  Drizzle olive oil -about 1 tsp a piece- over beets and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap the beets up and place on a baking sheet.  Allow to bake for 45 minutes.  Take out of the oven and allow to rest in the foil packets for 15 minutes. Using a paper towel, rub the skin off the beets.  It will easily pull off.  Dice into small pieces.

ASPARAGUS | Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus.  Get a large pot of salty water boiling and place a bowl with an ice bath near the stove.  Trim the ends of your asparagus by bending each stalk until it snaps.  Where the asparagus snaps is where the dried, tough portion ends.  Drop your asparagus into the boiling water and let boil for 1 minute.  With tongs, grab the hot asparagus and drop them into the ice bath to cool. Once cool, chop into a size you please of leave whole.

EGG | Once, your beets are done poach your eggs.  I have some beautiful Alderwood smoked sea salt that I used to make my creamy egg have a rich, smokey flavor.  In a small pot, on med low heat, bring water, 1 Tbsp smoked salt and vinegar  to a temperature between 165°F and 180°F (a little before a simmer). Crack your eggs into a small bowl.  Make a whirlpool in the water by stirring around the outside edges of the pot. Drop the egg into the center of the pot.  Turn off the heat, cover and let cook for 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, take out your egg and let rest for one minute on a towel.

 

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