Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Life, new blog

Hi everyone,

Due to the fact that I've moved back to Michigan, it didn't make sense to continue with this blog. This particular blog was very Connecticut/New London-centric - I didn't think I could smoothly transition from East Coast to Midwest on the same page. I have started a new blog - same name (for now - it may change), different look and different platform. I will leave this blog accessible for the time being, but please update your links and follow my new posts at


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Indiana bargains

One would not necessarily think of Indiana as a shopping mecca. However, whenever I visit Noblesville/Indianapolis, I leave with WAY more stuff than I came with. Sometimes it's clothes; sometimes it's housewares; more often than not, it comes from the antique mall.

This year's trip was no exception. When I wasn't busy running 13.1 miles - and injuring myself - I managed to pick up some adorable clothes and accessories. 

The yellow polka dot top and the vintage pearl drop earrings in this pic are both courtesy of Retro 101, a vendor in the Logan Village Mall in Noblesville.  The blouse was $5.00 and the earrings were $4.00. (The pencil skirt was actually a $12.95 buy from Forever 21 a couple seasons ago.)

This great red and cream striped cotton top (it has adorable ruched sleeves) came courtesy of Francesca's Collections in Clay Terrace. The silver "ball and chain" earrings were also a vintage score from Retro 101.

The killer score didn't end there - I also got a beautiful vintage clutch and some great costume jewelry. I spent way less than I would have spent in antique or vintage stores out here. Indiana may not be the hippest place in the world, but for what it's worth, I always come back a little more hip.

Friday, May 7, 2010

New posts are on the way

There are new posts coming - check back on Monday! There will be a new post every day next week. Sorry for the delay!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

BAR none

The other night, we decided to do something a little different for happy hour. As much as we love our usual haunts - Hanafin's, Dev's, Hot Rod's, our houses - sometimes you need to change things up a little. Since Dr. Scott had rounds in New Haven, Rob, Caitlin, Noe and I decided to meet him at BAR, a bewpub/restaurant/nightclub on Crown Street.

 Outside BAR

Scott and Caitlin had been trying to sell us on BAR for several months, but it never seemed to work out for everyone to get to New Haven (about 45-50 minutes from New London) at the time Scott was finishing up rounds. They were very persistent, however, telling us the microbrewed beers and pizzas - in particular the mashed potato pizza - were well worth the drive.

We hitched a ride to Hew Haven with Rob. After a rather adventurous stop at IKEA (it involved setting off an alarm and impulse-buying a wok), taking the "scenic route" past several very interesting barber shops ("E&J's Barber Shop & Sporting Goods"; "My Favorite Barber Shop - specialized in fadez"); and an extremely frustrating parking experience (downtown Ann Arbor parking - New Haven parking makes you look GOOD), we finally arrived at BAR.

 Excited to stop at IKEA

We were seated in the Bru Room, which had sort of an upscale pub-type feel. After perusing the microbrew selection, Scott ordered the "Damn  Good Stout" while Noe, Caitlin, and I all went with the "AmBAR Ale." (I was hoping to order the Blonde, but alas, they were out.) Both beers were decent, with the AmBAR having a malty but refreshing flavor and the stout tasting, well, like a stout (milk-shakey).

 AmBAR Ale and Damn Good Stout

The true standouts at BAR were the brick oven pizzas. BAR's menu starts with red (tomato sauce) or white (parmesan and garlic) pies; you build your toppings from that point. We decided to one of each. For our white, we chose the famous mashed potatoes, accompanied with onions and bacon; for the red we went veggie with mushrooms, green pepper, and black olives.

I was skeptical of mashed potato pizza. It sounded weird. But on BAR's brick oven-fired thin crust, accented with garlic and just the right amount of parmesan, it was delicious. The salty, crispy bacon and the slightly carmelized onions called to mind a baked potato - but BETTER. It had just the right potato-to-crust ratio - too much potato and it would have been heavy and goopy and bland. This had just enough to still taste the crisp crust through the mash.

 SO much more glorious than this picture makes it look

We had devoured half the mashed potato pizza before guiltily remembering our neglected red pie. I think we were all expecting to be disappointed by what seemed to be a very average veggie pizza. However, the same crust that held up so well to creamy mashed potato turned out to be the perfect vehicle for delivering veggies - crisp enough to provide some crunch, doughy enough to hold its shape without being chewy. The red sauce tasted very tomato-ey - not sugary like some sauces - and was spread thin enough (without being stingy) that it didn't overpower the salty olives, crisp green pepper, and mild, earthy mushrooms.

 Caitlin actually didn't want olives on her half - 
what's wrong with her?

Both pizzas were so good that the five of us managed to completely devour two larges before we realized how much we'd eaten. We were uncomfortably full on the drive home, but otherwise completely satisfied.

If you're in New Haven and you want to try some really fantastic brick oven pizza, I would highly suggest BAR. I can't speak for the nightclub atmosphere or anything else on the menu, but the beer is decent and the pizzas are amazing - what more do you really need?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chickety China, the Chinese Chicken...

I forgot my lunch last Thursday. I also walked to work that day, meaning that my usual options (Thames River Greenery, Muddy Waters, a sushi roll from Singapore Grill) were out of the question (even though I could technically walk to several of these places, I could not walk there, order lunch, and walk back in the time allotted to my lunch period). This left me with one option: the Chinese restaurant across from the Shell Station.

I ordered wanton soup. That's all. But as I sat at my desk eating it, I kind of started craving the sticky, fried, MSG-laden gloriousness of the typical Chinese restaurant lunch special. However, I didn't want to go out for dinner or get take-out that night. I had plenty of food at home. So instead, I did some googling and by the end of the day had decided to make sesame chicken for dinner.

Noe was skeptical, to say the least. He was pretty sure the dish would have good flavor, but was not convinced it would have the right texture or stickiness quotient.

Our worries were completely misplaced. The dish tasted EXACTLY like sesame chicken from a take-out Chinese restaurant - so much so, in fact, that I was almost disappointed (shouldn't there be some kind of discernible difference?) The texture - achieved by battering and deep-frying the cubed pieces of chicken and draining them before tossing them in a thick, sticky sauce - was spot-on as well.

 The finished product, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds
and served with white rice (courtesy of Noe)

Seeing how much sugar/cornstarch/etc went into the homemade version of this dish kind of made me cringe - and made me keenly aware of how much must be in the real take-out version. The unexpected bonus of this awareness is that I ate a much smaller portion than I probably would have out of a take-out container because I DID see exactly how much crap was in it.

One minor caveat - although the flavor was still fantastic the next day, the homemade version of sesame chicken was a little soggy after spending the night in the fridge. Not terribly so, but more so than typical take-out.

You can find the basic recipe I used at (as usual, I made some minor tweaks). If I make this again, I will add extra vinegar and chili paste (I had added extra chili paste and garlic but it still came out just a touch too sweet, in my book - Noe thought it was fine) and  cut a little's a work in progress.

One other note - I do not have a deep fryer. I fried this in a deep saucepan and it worked fine. Just make sure you test the oil with one piece of chicken to make sure it as at a good temperature, don't crowd the chicken in the pan, and watch it carefully to see when it turns the appropriate golden color. I would test a few pieces and cut into them so you get an idea of how long, time-wise, you want to leave them in the pan.

Do you ever make your own take-out?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Premium vintage

I've written about my love of vintage dresses, vintage salt and pepper shakers, and even mentioned my new-ish obsession with vintage aprons. A recent search through my closet brought back an older interest: vintage pocketbooks.

When I still lived in Michigan, I discovered a great block of antique stores that were then all located in Depot Town. This was when I was just starting to collect salt and pepper shakers. Every once in awhile, I would go in to Salt City, Silver Spoon, or occasionally Apple Annie's and look for new additions for my collections. Eventually I noticed that all three stores had a vast array of other items besides salt and pepper shakers, including some vintage clothing. With vintage clothing came vintage accessories - hats, jewelry, and pocketbooks. Thus a new collection was born.

 First vintage pocketbook - 
my crappy photos don't show the beautiful, shiny bronze-y color

I call them pocketbooks rather than purses because a "purse" to me is a different kind of bag entirely - one of the larger, slouchy shoulder bags I tend to carry on a regular basis (although I tend to just call those "bags," quite honestly). These structured little handbags (none have shoulder straps) look like they came straight out of the Mad Men costuming department.

My second - and favorite - pocketbook
I only purchased three of these gems before moving to Connecticut, and somehow they were relegated to the back of my closet. However, when I was looking for the perfect accessory for my Shabby Apple dresses last weekend, I unearthed this:

 So sixties! So patriotic! So perfect!

It was the perfect whimsical touch to my vintage-inspired weekend looks (I didn't take any pictures, but I'll post some if anyone gives me any). I may have to start scouring the CT-area stores for more pocketbooks to add to my collection (Noe will LOVE that).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Opening Day (of grill season)

Today the temperature hit the high 70s. Not only did this mean an extremely pleasant walk to work (yes, I am back on that kick again) but also meant that Noe was just itching to get the grill going. While I was at work, he went out and bought some country-style pork ribs. By the time I got home, the grill was going and the ribs were sizzling.

Noe gets the grill going

Meaty goodness

We could have been stuck for side dishes, however, the night before I had attempted to make bean soup in the crock pot (trying to find a use for the ham bone from Easter, despite the fact that bean soup is horrendously unseasonal at this point). Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - I either didn't add enough water or let the soup simmer too long (or both). By the time I got home, the soup had thickened into the most glorious baked beans imaginable. I stirred in about two tablespoons of barbecue sauce for some sweetness and it was all mmm, mmm, good.


We hung out outside while Noe cooked the ribs, he minding the grill and me sitting on my ass in a lawn chair, dragging it around trying to maximize the last of the sun's rays, drinking rose and reading Vanity Fair. It was AMAZING.

  Being lazy while Noe does the work

 Country-style ribs, baked beans, 
and some leftover Zinfandel from work

 How do you enjoy the warm weather?

Monday, April 5, 2010


I love dying Easter eggs. I'm not sure why. It doesn't rank anywhere near carving pumpkins on the scale of using a childish activity to release some stress. Anyway, it's hard to get Noe psyched up for an afternoon of egg dying, so I have taken to foisting my enthusiasm for this Easter tradition onto my friends' children. Dr. Scott's children Fia and Colm (our companions on recent journeys to Fred's Shanty and the Mystic Seaport) were more than game to indulge my egg dying impulses.

 My egg coloring companions

Although I admire crafty things and people, I did not go to the Martha Stewart school of egg decorating. I - and Noe and Scott - am a staunch egg coloring traditionalist, insisting on the PAAS egg coloring kit. (As we dissolved our color tablets in vinegar, we surmised that the colors are much more vibrant than they were when we were younger - advancements in color tablet technology?)

 Noe experiments with the crayon -
and the vibrant yellow dye

Fia made me a monogrammed egg

Experiments involving dunking the egg in every single cup of dye were conducted in the name of creativity. (This ALWAYS results in gray.) By the end of the experience, we had two cartons of rainbow-hued eggs ready to be consumed.

 Colm's experimental color

Colm wanted to dip pretty much everything in blue

Carton number two
We celebrated our egg coloring accomplishments with a trip to the best ice cream shop in Southeaster Connecticut, Michael's Dairy, and then returned home for some Guitar Hero and a traditional (for all of us midwesterners) Easter dinner of ham, green beans, and rolls - and Kraft macaroni and cheese for Colm (you can't win them all). We termed our new holiday tradition "FEASTer."

 Scott and Fia learning Guitar hero

 Our Easter feast!

How did you spend Easter?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Basket Case

Every once in awhile, I get a mysterious package from "Kevin" at Southwest Brake & Parts.

These boxes are actually shipped by my dad, Jack, from southwest, where he works (Kevin must be a coworker). Usually I know they are coming and therefore know what to expect - for example, we received several boxes right after Christmas with gifts that we couldn't bring on the plane. Dad surprises me every once in awhile, though - like when he shipped me three bags of my very favorite coffee that he bought while on vacation in the upper peninsula.

When a box arrived today, I honestly had NO idea what was in it. I wasn't expecting anything, hadn't left anything behind on my last trip...I was mystified. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened it and found that it contained... Easter basket, chock full of candy, some cute dish towels, a pair of sunglasses, a hat for the Buns, and even a couple McDonald's gift cards for Noe. How great is that?!

Bonus: the cats got a gift, too - they adore boxes.

Thanks, mom and dad!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wine down

Some of the wines I have sampled over the past few weeks. Have you tried any of these and, if so, what are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Famous since 1972

My friend Liz once said to me, "Amy, are you sure you aren't a New Englander? You like antique stores, and pubs, and seafood shacks...are you sure you're from the Midwest?"

I could argue that a lot of people like antique stores - and my favorite one is Indiana - and I have not met a person yet who dislikes pubs. But if there is one thing that everyone on the planet SHOULD like, it is seafood shacks. 

Fred's Shanty
(photo courtesy of

 Noe, Scott, and Colm at Fred's (which is also kid-friendly)

I've blogged about the gloriousness that is Captain Scott's Lobster Dock before. The problem with Captain Scott's is that it opens later in the year. Also, it is NOT down the street from our house. Therefore, we sometimes turn to Fred's Shanty

Fred's - famous since 1972 (according to the sign) - is within walking distance of the Wiseman/Erasga residence, making it a convenient option on warm, sunny days. It's a little more fast food-y than Captain Scott's. However, if what you are craving are friend clam strips and salty, skinny fries, Fred's is the place for you.

 Fried clams, fried fries, fried chicken strips

If seafood is not your bag, fear not: Fred's has an excellent long dog, served on the ubiquitous hot dog roll (see the Captain Scott's post for the difference between the hot dog roll and the hot dog bun).

 Noe with the long dog

Fred's location on Pequot Avenue (along the river, overlooking Pfizer) does not quite have the charm of Captain Scott's boatyard/downtown locale. However, the views are good and the service is actually faster and friendlier, even when packed (which it often is).

 Scott and calamari 

Me with my glorious clams

All in all, Fred's is a good value and a good experience - and a fairly dangerous place to have within walking distance. If you're over by Mitchell College or on your way to Ocean Beach and a fried clam craving hits, I would highly recommend it. It may not be gourmet, but it sure does hit the spot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Irish eyes are smiling

I grew up in an area rich in St. Patrick's Day tradition. That tradition was going to one of the crappiest of local bars, the Wooden Nickel, at approximately 6:00 AM to get in line for green beer that would go up in price every hour starting at 7:00 AM.

Sad - or glad? - to say, I never actually participated in the Nickel tradition (I am probably the ONE EMU student that didn't), although I did spend many a St. Patty's day drinking beer on the balcony of someone's crappy apartment (sometimes my own crappy apartment).

Since moving to Connecticut, we have usually celebrated St. Patrick's Day at Hanafin's, our local Irish pub. However, Noe and I usually opt for a fairly early celebration, ending up home by 8:00 or so. This year, Noe stayed home - he didn't feel like dealing with the crowd - and I met up with Scott and Caitlin for my yearly Guinness followed up by a Jameson at Dev's. Then I went home for our own Irish feast.

Outside Hanafin's with Kristina, Max, Caitlin, Scott, and Kevin Lester

Me, Miss Murphy, and the Guinness

For the first time ever, I attempted corned beef and cabbage. I did it in the crockpot, knowing that I wouldn't be able to totally resist the pull of Hanafin's after work on St. Patrick's Day. I chopped all the veggies on Tuesday night and baked a loaf of soda bread in anticipation of sopping up all those delicious meat juices.

 Soda bread - yummm

The meal itself was not fancy: I threw the corned beef brisket and some potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions in the crockpot, sprinkled with the pickling spice that came with the meat, put in enough water to just cover everything, and let it cook for nine hours.

 Chopped celery and carrots


When I got home, I removed the meat and veggies and cooked some cabbage wedges in the cooking liquid for about 25 minutes. I also boiled down about 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid until it was reduced by half and mixed with equal amounts sour cream and prepared horseradish to make a sauce.

 Meat and veggies resting while I finish the cabbage and sauce

Dinner was simple, hearty, and good. Corned beef isn't my favorite thing in the world, but once a year it tastes pretty awesome. The leftover meat and the soda bread (delicious - dense and chewy with a nice hard crust) will make amazing sandwiches (topped off with a smidgen of horseradish sauce). I'll probably just eat a bowl of veggies for lunch tomorrow.

 The feast...mmmmmmm!

How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stuff I Like Sunday

My object of the week: monogrammed tea cup from Anthropologie. If I have to drink tea instead of coffee (Lent, *sigh*) at least I get to drink it out of this ladylike vessel.

Shabby Chic

When one of our editors at work received a press release from a company touting "modest" clothing, I was not inclined to browse the company's website. It sounded lame (and quite frankly, we get a lot of lame press releases around my office).

However, I for whatever reason opened the forwarded email and clicked on the link...and immediately fell in love with Shabby Apple's vintage-inspired dresses.

I ordered my first one last summer and found it to be very well-made. The second one I ordered had an imperfection; I emailed the company and received a response within two hours offering me an exchange, with my shipping costs to send the dress back reimbursed.

My first Shabby Apple purchase -
the "Bon Voyage"

I haven't ordered anything in awhile (due to finances) but when I saw the new Baja line, I couldn't resist. I immediately ordered two dresses. Imagine my disappointment the next morning (not even ten hours later) when I received an email promotion for free shipping. Once again, I emailed the company, and once again, had a great experience - the shipping on my previous night's order was refunded.

New spring dresses!

My new dresses arrived today and I can not WAIT to wear them! They immediately put me in a "spring" frame of mind.I highly recommend checking out Shabby Apple - beautiful clothes, good quality, and a great customer experience.