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Archive for the ‘By Mike’ Category

A night in Florence; or, all roads lead to Rome.

After a gigantic seafood lunch on the island of Burano, we departed for Florence, our shortest stop of the tour. We arrived at dinnertime, and ate another big meal at our hotel. After that lunch, I didn’t think I was in the mood for a big meal, but that’s what you do in Italy. We had more delicious crusty bread with olive oil. Our waiter, a prodigious sweater with a long, gray pony-tail (side note, the European service industry seems to be male-dominated — we had almost all male servers in the restaurants we ate at, which is not the case in the US) brought out all the penne with tomato sauce we could eat (literally, he brought seconds) as an appetizer.

Then we had another delicious roasted pork loin with vegetables (pork is huge in Italy).

Dessert was a nice fig tart with a latticed top-crust.

Although there’s no picture, after dessert we had a final cheese course. In the course of the meal, shared with our new tour friends, we noticed some platters of cheese at some of the other tables. We had not been presented with a cheese platter. So, in the spirit of experiencing everything Europe had to offer, we swiped a cheese plate from another table and tore that bad boy up. The best was the wedged Parmesan. With bellies full of stolen cheese, we went to bed.

The next morning we had a pretty typical hotel breakfast. One interesting thing. As we moved through Italy, every hotel breakfast featured nutella. You don’t see this chocolate-hazelnut spread in the US very often, but it’s delicious. It’s perfect spread on a croissant or piece of crusty bread. Then, in the streets of Florence, I had my first taste of gelato. It was lemon, and the most refreshing ice cream I’ve ever eaten. Shan had one that was flavored like tiramisu, which was rich and decadent. Then it was off to Rome.

On the way to Rome, we stopped for lunch at an Autogrill. Imagine a small American truck stop: gross facilities, McDonalds, other gross stuff. In Italy, they have Autogrill…surprisingly not gross. They have pizza, homemade salads and meat plates, grilled panini sandwiches with Italian meats and cheeses, even espresso bars. They are, however, intimidating. There is a very specific method for ordering, and you can only get certain items in certain lines. You can also only eat in certain areas, depending on which line you ordered from. And, naturally, all of this is accomplished in Italian. Very confusing, and made more so because our tour guide tried to explain it to us before our first stop, and confused us (mostly me) even more. At our first Autogrill stop, before Venice, I was so intimidated stepping in that I didn’t eat lunch. On this stop, I was determined to find success. We managed to order sandwiches and, much to our surprise and pleasure, they came out grilled and steaming. Amazing.

Then it was back on the road for our last stretch of driving on the tour.

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Venice, as you’ve seen, was amazing. And oh the food!

I’ve been excited about eating in Italy since I started learning about food. Italians love food, and eating is an event. This was evident shortly after we arrived in Venice.

After our gondola ride and water taxi ride, we checked into our hotel and headed right down for dinner. We sat with a couple new friends, and ordered up a bottle of red wine. It was a bit sweet for me, but we all liked it, and it paired pretty well with the event to come.

Of course there was bread on the table, and a little olive oil, salt and pepper were all that were needed to make it a course in itself. Soon, however, came the “appetizer.” I use quotes because I’m not sure what the actual course was called–there are so many different classical menus that call different courses by different names. I also use quotes because our “appetizer” was a significant portion of traditional lasagna. It was easily 3 inches squared, and a couple inches tall. It was wonderful. Shan doesn’t generally like lasagna and she ate hers right up. The marinara sauce was sweet, bold, just the slightest bit spicy. It was full of seasoned ground beef and enough cheese to top a pizza with. And this was the appetizer.

The next course was a fresh green salad with several toppings and olive oil and vinegar for dressing. Not much compared to the cinder block of lasagna, but it was a good buffer between the “appetizer” and the main course.

After salad, we were presented with slices of delicious roasted pork loin served with potatoes roasted with rosemary and oil.

Finally, we were served cake and strong coffee for a sweet finish.

The next morning, after sightseeing and a boat ride to Burano, we sat down for a lunch that our tour guide had been praising for days. The local seafood was incredible. If you don’t like seafood, you need to eat fresher seafood, because this stuff was outstanding. We started with crusty bread smeared with a local delicacy of flaked fish and fresh lemon juice. It was like the best tuna salad sandwich ever.

This was followed in quick succession by a risotto with fish and shellfish in a white sauce, another green salad as well as a delicious caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, more pasta, more lasagna, broiled fresh fillets of fish, and endless platters of fried calamari and prawns.

The fish was mild, flaky, tender, and delicately sweet. I regret not asking what kind it was, but I doubt it would be the same in the States even if I could find it. I’ve no doubt it was caught and brought directly to the restaurant…maybe even alive. Everything was succulent, salty, and tasted like the ocean.

After all of this, we were presented with a variety of pastries and cookies for dessert, many of which featured almonds, along with more strong coffee (and tea for Shan). This time, our coffee even came with little bottles of amaretto to settle us after lunch.

It was almost laughable to think of walking around Burano after this lunch, but, surprisingly, we were able to walk easily. The breeze and the smell of the ocean finished our lunch perfectly. And don’t forget our cannoli by the water.

After a meal like that, a little dodo (our tour guide’s term for a nap – also French slang) on the way to Florence was just the thing.

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Lucerne (I prefer the American spelling, because I feel like it might annoy Shan), Switzerland was our first 1-night stay featuring an included dinner. I must confess, I don’t know much about Swiss cuisine beyond chocolate and cheese.

After consulting some culinary resources (not Wikipedia…I swear) I’m actually a little disappointed in our Swiss dinner. Switzerland is actually known for a few dishes.

One, rosti, is a potato favorite that Shan and I have prepared at home several times, without knowing the origin. It’s like a big hash brown potato casserole with cheese and goodness in it. We got mashed potatoes. Another, Zurcher Geschnetzeltes–it’s from the German region of Switzerland…can you tell?–is a thin-sliced tender veal dish with mushrooms and cream sauce. We got beef stroganoff.

I’m not complaining. Our meal was delicious. I just loved trying the traditional regional foods in England and France so much. I guess I was happier not knowing about the Swiss favorites that I missed out on. Damn you Wikipedia…I mean trusted culinary reference materials that are not a website.

Anyway, we had a delicious vegetable soup to start our meal, served with the biggest silver spoon I’ve ever seen. It was rich, well seasoned, and got our appetites in gear quite nicely. Then we were presented with the stroganoff. It was not, as many Americans think of it, ground beef in a cream gravy. It was, in fact, a more traditional stroganoff of sliced, stewed beef in a rich, dark brown demi-glace that was earthy and quite tasty. The stroganoff was served with piped mashed potatoes and a nice vegetable blend. It hit the spot, but was not quite enough food.

Luckily, we had dessert coming. It turned out to be a cute little ice cream dish, apparently hand-crafted for artful presentation to the tourists. It was refreshing, but only made us long for the Italian gelato that was to come.

All in all it was a nice meal, presented in a friendly, comfortable hall. I imagine the weary travelers of days gone by would have appreciated the comfort of a hot, hearty meal at the foot of the alps.

The next morning, we had a pretty simple buffet breakfast at the hotel, and then struck out on our own. After walking a bit, and heading back to the bus, we decided a little caffeine was in order. We stopped into Starbucks (I know…lame, but we didn’t have time to figure anything out) and ordered up some drinks. Just so you all know, Starbucks is expensive in Europe. A small Chai Latte and a small brewed coffee ran us about 8 Swiss Francs, which is like 10 bucks. Ridiculous. But man, did we need that jolt. Next stop…Venice!

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From merry old England we moved on to the country that gave the world a food service industry…France!

First of all, if you don’t know, France is the country that developed what we know of as a restaurant today. Before the French started eating out in the 1700’s, the only way you ever ate without cooking your own food was if somebody you knew cooked for you, or if you paid someone to cook for you. This might happen at an inn or tavern while you were traveling, but if you were local you stayed at home or dined with a friend. But you didn’t go into a restaurant and eat off a menu. Not until France. The French chefs of the late 1700’s, most notably King Louis 18’s pastry chef Antoine Beauvilliers who opened one of the first restaurants in Paris. I also must mention the chef that developed the modern restaurant kitchen set-up and staffing structure, Georges Auguste Escoffier.

Ok, now that your history lesson is complete, on to our culinary experience!

We arrived in Paris on a Sunday evening. Good for traffic, bad for food. We had a little over an hour to find dinner near our hotel before our optional excursion. The only two promising places we saw were a small brasserie, which was closed, and a pizzeria, which, hello, we were going to Italy later on the trip. And so, we walked. We passed a McDonald’s–side note, according to our tour director, in France McDonald’s is called “Mc Doe’s” because the French insist on being different–which we refused to step into, hungry as we were. Then we passed a suspicious looking middle-eastern restaurant with a menu we couldn’t read. Finally, we saw a less suspicious looking middle-eastern place with a friendlier menu and a friendly looking staff. We also ran into a couple from Arizona that were on our tour, so we figured we’d give it a shot and at least we’d discover the food together. It turned out that they had a combo meal of sorts, so we both got a pita sandwich, frites (French french fries), and a can of Coke. Shan got chicken, and I got the traditional gyro meat. Both were delicious with a little tzatziki (cucumber sauce) and hot chili sauce on them. And, most importantly, we successfully ordered and ate in a country that doesn’t speak English (a first for me).


The next morning, after breakfast at our hotel, we were off to experience Paris. One quick story about breakfast first. Shannon took a hard boiled egg, but decided she didn’t want it. As is our custom, I agreed to eat it. Upon gently cracking it, I realized it was, in fact, a raw egg. We did not see any source of heat for cooking a raw egg at our continental breakfast buffet. What the hell? Anyway, due to poor planing, we skipped lunch at the Louve, and were starving by the time we were left on our own. We stopped at a little cafe on the way to Notre Dame and had a late lunch. We got a huge bottle of water, and then ordered Croques. Shan had a Croque Poulet (chicken) and I had a Croque Monsieur (ham). Both were made with a hearty, rustic bread called Pan de Campagne, then layered with tomatoes, meat, and a rich white cheese, then heated and melted under a broiler. Ours came served with a small fresh salad and baguette on the side. They were fantastic. The ingredients are so fresh and simple that you can’t help but enjoy them. It was a truly restorative meal.

After some additional walking around and a realization that we did not fully appreciate how hot 28 degrees celsius was, we made it back to our hotel and prepared to go out for dinner. For dinner, we went back to the brasserie that was closed the night before, and found a nice table for two along the street. Our waiter, who thankfully spoke pretty good English, helped us select a half-bottle of red wine and an appetizer of prawns and avocado. The prawns were fresh and well-cooked and the avocado was creamy and delicious with some crusty bread.


After the appetizer, Shannon got a grilled steak with bearnaise sauce and frites on the side. She was a little disappointed with the steak, at which point I joked that maybe it was a horse steak. This is actually a thing in Europe. In France especially, the sale of horse meat is up 7% from last year. We’re pretty sure it was beef though, since most menus specify cheval in they are serving horse. So, it was just a so-so beef steak. The frites were delicious though. I had confit de canard (duck cooked in duck fat). It was delicious. Terrible for my cholesterol, but delicious. It came with some roasted potatoes that were crispy and well seasoned. A wonderful meal. For dessert, we ordered creme brulee. What else can you have to end your last meal in Paris? It was decadently sweet and smooth. The perfect end to a meal.

Overall, I give our Paris culinary experience a big thumbs-up. Also…gotta love modern art!

Next stop…Switzerland. We may or may not have eaten chocolate.

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Merry old England.

I’ve heard people say that English food is pretty terrible. Weird meats, flavorless meals, lots of potatoes, etc. Allow me to defend the Mother Country. England  is, quite honestly, where the Midwestern US has to thank for our family favorites. The British Isles gave us some of our staples, including beer battered fish, fried potatoes, pot pies, even international cuisine. England was the first place to import the greatest culinary creations of other countries; something Americans take for granted. And on our tour, our experiences with food in England were pretty good.

On our first day, we found lunch/breakfast at a small cafe between our hotel and the bus stop. We were tired and hungry, and didn’t feel like searching out a great English meal. We did pretty well though. Shannon had a tuna salad sandwich, which came on a homemade flat bread. I had an English Breakfast (intentional capitalization).

An English Breakfast, if you don’t know, features fried eggs, rashers, which are slices of fried bacon and are generally wider and fattier(in the best possible way) than American bacon, baked beans, and tomatoes. Mine also came with grilled mushrooms, toast, and coffee with hot milk. Everything was delicious, and gave us much-needed energy after a long flight and a 5-hour time change.

That evening, after a long day (over 24 hours), we decided to play it simple and have dinner in the hotel lobby. After waiting for dinner service to start, we sat in the bar and ordered up a couple pub specials. Shannon ordered salmon with stir-fried vegetables (remember that international food thing?) and I ordered a stout-braised beef pie.

Shan enjoyed her salmon, and the beef pie was quite tasty, and traditional. It had a flaky puff pastry top covering a rich stew of stout-braised beef and root vegetables. I got English peas on the side, and, unexpectedly, a side of chips.

 

 

This is an opportune time to go into chips in a little more detail. American fries are chips in England, meaning  fried potatoes cut into long strips that could be dipped in ketchup. However, you don’t dip them in ketchup in England (traditionally speaking), but use malt vinegar instead. Chips are called crisps, as in very thinly sliced fried potatoes, usually packaged in a bag and served alongside a sandwich. Think Lays, and no, you can’t eat just one.

Day two in London, my goal was nothing short of authentic pub-style fish and chips. Lunchtime hunger caught us in a touristy area around the tower of London, and the only thing to have was concession stand food, so we decided to dig into our snacks that we had smartly packed for the day. We had a little picnic of beef jerky, pretzels, trail mix, and granola bars. This left us with the task of finding our fish for dinner. After getting a recomendation for an Italian place from the hotel desk (which we declined since, hello, we were traveling to Italy), we asked if there was a good pub near by.

The Nag’s Head Pub did not disappoint. After seating ourselves, I ordered a locally brewed cask ale (I knew I should have written down the name) and chanced ordering a Strongbow Cider for Shannon. My brew was delicious, although much warmer than I was used to (the norm for European beverage consumption), and Shannon happily sipped her cider while we waited for our meal.

When our orders of fish and chips arrived, we both dug in. The only thing missing was the newspaper wrapping, but we didn’t mind. The fish was mild and flaky, and perfectly fried in a beer batter that puffed up around the fish to nearly triple the size of the fillet. The accompanying chips were crispy and delicious, and only needed a little spritz of malt vinegar to finish them off. The English peas were, again, delicious. We made short work of the large plates while we finished our pints.

The only other meals we ate in London were our hotel breakfasts, which were nothing special. The first morning I ate alone while Shan caught up on much-needed sleep. I had my choice of all the standard English Breakfast items, as well as some tasty but generic pastries. But the coffee was good and it was on the house as part of our tour, so no complaints. The second morning we had a continental breakfast since our tour left before breakfast was served, so we ate pastries and cheese before setting out on the first leg of our tour.

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Shannon and I did not marry for money. This is indisputable. Fortunately, we love each other. I saw this fact clearly yesterday in a conversation about moving.

We were sitting in a movie theater lobby waiting for a movie to start, and began discussing what we might do in the next year about our living situation. We have both been sort of anti-house-purchase in the past. Too much work and too much risk. Too hard to move away if you need/have to. But lately, now that we are pretty sure we want to settle in a particular area, we’ve started to consider it. We can get a pretty good deal right now, and probably buy a house that we can grow into and possibly make money off of some day.

We started talking about when we might want to start looking last night, but that discussion quickly turned to the dreaded down payment. It turns out that, when you pay for a trip to Europe and a mini-van in the same month, it doesn’t leave much money for a home down payment. Where would that money come from?

Shannon offered that she had savings bonds given to her by her grandparents. All totaled, they would help us toward a down payment, but not give us one. Then she turned to me and jokingly asked “what do you bring to the marriage?” I replied, not jokingly but in a joking tone, “a van payment and some student loans…oh, you probably meant assets…yeah, nothing.” Sad day for me. Fortunately, Shannon didn’t care (or already knew that fact and had come to terms with it).

The bottom line of our discussion: we have no house down payment. We may have to move into yet another tiny apartment and save for another year to collect a down payment. Any suggestions?

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Circumnavigation

“Would you want to have our son(s) circumcised?”

When Shannon asked me this recently, I froze. I had no idea. My instinct was to say ‘yes,’ but I think it was only because it’s what I know. I’d always heard that uncircumcised penises are unsanitary, they look weird, etc. But I’d never really thought about it, and had certainly not researched it.

After some brief research on a reasonably trusted website, I’ve discovered some information.

First, the sanitation argument. It is harder to keep the head of the penis clean in an uncircumcised boy. This is true, but ultimately not a factor. It comes down to simply teaching the boy how to keep it clean. We are a civilization with easy access to soap, water, and personal hygiene products. So, not that big of a deal.

However, it also seems that circumcision leads to a decreased risk of urinary tract infections, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer, cervical cancer in female sexual partners, and some inflammatory diseases. Although, risk of a lot of these issues can also be reduced by hygiene and medical knowledge, so it’s kind of a wash.

There are medical institutions studying the myth that circumcision leads to increased sexual sensitivity. According to the department of urology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, it’s about even. There are apparently lots of factors that affect sensitivity (and circumcision may be one of them), but most of the factors are negligible. So, that’s not much of a factor…but it is weird to think about the sexual satisfaction of our unborn, hypothetical son.

So then there’s the risks of circumcision. It supposedly can be complicated. According to the CDC, two thirds of males in the US are circumcised at birth. So, after actual birth, it sounds like the most common pediatric procedure in medicine. The biggest risk is infection, which is usually non-existent and sometimes minor and local. About 1 in 200 circumcisions result in minor infection, inflammation, etc. However, the risks become greater as the child gets older. So, not too risky, unless we wait.

Finally, the pain. This one is pretty one-sided. It definitely hurts. A lot. So, the biggest decision is whether or not we want to subject our 1-day-old infant son to excruciating pain and a wound that takes up to a week to heal. It’s kind of funny, because that argument seems to make the decision, and yet 2/3 of parents get past it, so it must not be that bad, right?

Besides physical pain, there’s the emotional aspects. A friend, upon discussion of uncircumcised men, admitted that her reaction might be “what the hell is that?” She told us that friends of hers kept their son’s foreskin, and our friend’s husband referred to it as “the ant-eater.” A commenter on a website I read admitted that, as an uncircumcised high-school student, his locker-room nickname was “flappy.” So, there’s definitely a social side to the issue that we have to consider. I might hate my parents if they did not circumcise me and it lead to a nickname like that.

Of course, this whole discussion may end up being moot, since an adopted son might already be circumcised. So, we may have the decision taken from us. Although, since circumcision is much less common in other parts of the world, it we adopt internationally, it might become a bigger decision, since he might (probably will)  be older than 1 day old.

So, no decisions yet.  Obviously we don’t need a decision yet, so that’s ok.

Thoughts?

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This isn’t necessarily a “relationship” post, but I’m framing it around the idea of raising children, so it works. Plus, I just have to rant.

Today the Supreme Court ruled, 8 to 1, that the Westboro Baptist Church was/is exercising free speech picketing military funerals. If you don’t know, this “church” pickets military funerals and other events in an attempt to denounce America’s acceptance of homosexuality. WBC hates gay people, and has decided that an appropriate way to express their hatred is at the funerals of young men and women who have been killed serving our country. Apparently because they are soldiers, they are part of the vast homo-loving conspiracy in the American government.

F*** them.

It’s disappointing that the Supreme Court ruled the way it did, but I get it. John Roberts explained that even the most hurtful of speech should be protected, because it contributes to the public discourse. I get it. I think WBC is exercising free speech too. What I don’t get is why they believe what they believe. Also, why they feel they have to be such dicks about it.

How does protesting at the funeral of a young American soldier (gay or straight) prove anything about your cause other than the fact that you can be an insensitive asshole about it? These people are grieving the loss of a loved one who was killed in the defense of our country (you know…the country that guarantees you the right to free speech?). Their funerals and the grief of their loved ones have nothing to do with the government’s supposed gay rights agenda. You’re just being an insensitive f***-wad.

Further more, why does the “church,” or anyone for that matter, have a problem with gay people? They are the way they are. The way god made them, one might argue. I’m pretty sure they’re not choosing to be gay. I know if I were gay, I would probably try to choose NOT to be, considering how many people would hate me for it. But it doesn’t work that way. So why the hostility? Because it’s wrong in the Bible? Because it’s different than how you were raised? Because you think it’s yucky? Get over it you narrow-minded jerks. You are the same bastards that hated black people 50 years ago, just because they were black.

As Shan and I entertain the idea of raising children (see…I’m getting to it), I hope that, if nothing else, we can teach them compassion and open-mindedness. If we fail at everything else as parents, I hope that we can raise people who treat everyone equally and view all people, gay or straight, black or white, beautiful or plain, merely as people. And if they ever do hate anyone in their lives, I hope it’s because those people are narrow-minded a**holes who act like jerks at other peoples’ funerals. Those people are officially on the hate list.

Ok, I feel a little better.

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Answers, part VIII

Daytime Night Owl asks:

Are you an introvert or extrovert and how does that affect your relationship?

Shan says:
I’m an introvert unless I’m with my family, then I’m a social butterfly. I’ve dated some extroverts, and while I admire and was sometimes motivated by their ability to be that way, it usually meant we had different ideas of fun. I’ll let Mike decide if he’s an introvert or extrovert, but I know we both like to stay home and hang out together more than we like to go out and be around lots of people. And that helps our relationship immensely.

Mike says:
I’m an introvert by nature, but when put in a social situation that I’m comfortable, I can be extrovertive without too much trouble. Usually when I have an opportunity to share knowledge on topics I know a lot about.

What do you value most about each other?

Shan says:
His cooking. I value many many things about Mike, but without his cooking I may have died of malnutrition by now.

Mike says:
Her eating. Without her eating, I’d throw too much food away. Seriously though, her organization. She keeps us afloat (and our blog up-to-date).

If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass on to your children, what would it be?

Shan says:
I’d like to pass on my nonjudgmentalness. Is that a word? Basically, I consider myself to be a pretty nonjudgmental person, and I hope my kids are, too. What I don’t want to pass on is my anxiety! Dear Lord spare my children the anxiety!

Mike says:
My helpfulness. I’m the guy that walks into a social situation and says ‘what needs to be done?’ I hope my children are helpers. I get easily annoyed by the people who just stand around and watch when there’s work being done.

What was the best piece of advice you received from your wedding/reception?

Shans says:
Someone told me, or maybe I read it somewhere, to pause a few times and intentionally take it all in. I did this a few times: stopped, looked around and very purposefully thought, “This is my wedding. This is what is happening right now. Remember this.” And the images from those moments are the ones that stick out most in my memory of that day. I pass this advice along whenever I can.

Mike says:
We advised each other to be careful about letting things get to us. If something about our wedding was stressing us out, we just forgot about it. We figured, as long as people get there, watch the wedding, eat and leave, then we’re good. And that saved us a lot of stress and potential fighting.

Are you usually late, early or right on time?

Shan says:
Early. I hate being late, hate it with a passion, so I usually overcompensate and get places early. It’s happened many times that Mike and I will get somewhere early, and then wait in our car or drive around for a bit so we don’t look like overly-eager beavers.

Mike says:
Early. And I don’t mind being the overly-eager beaver. I mostly drive around to humor Shan. 🙂

Are either of you a romantic?  (I know you are both creative and come up with the best gifting ideas.)

Shan says:
You give me way too much credit. I’m actually kind of an awful gift giver. And I don’t think I’m very romantic. We’re more silly than romantic. We’ll throw a little romance in now and then, but mostly we like to tease each other, give silly gifts, and make each other laugh.

Mike says:
I think I’m “a romantic,” but I’m not very romantic. I have the belief that we’ll always be in love, and always show it. That’s probably naive. Not that we will stop loving each other, but that the way we show it will change. But I’m not a flowers/candy for every occasion kind of guy. I’m a goofy romantic.

What are your worst habits?

Mike says:
I’m a terrible night eater, and over eater. My metabolism has gotten me through so far, but it’s failing me now. Plus there’s the whores…I mean, uh…I love my wife too much. 🙂

Shan say:
Whores? You’re so weird. And I think there’s a more politically correct term you might have chosen, dear. Anyway, my worst habit is wanting to control things. If an idea is suggested by someone, I compulsively grab on and try to make it happen. Others actually seem to like this habit because it means crap gets done that otherwise might not. But it drives me crazy and I need to learn to just let go. If I always “make it happen,” nobody else will ever even bother. Let them do some of the work once in awhile!

What traits do you possess that compliment those of your partner?

Mike says:
I’m patient to Shannon’s…um…lack there of. I’m hesitant when Shan is overly-excited about something (and vice versa actually). I’m willing to eat anything while Shannon is very selective about food, so I eat whatever she leaves behind.

Shan says:
That last one was exactly what I was going to say. The eating thing. He’s right about the other ones, too. Also, I’m short(ish) and Mike is tall, and I think those traits compliment each other well. We’re adorable right?

(And I’m even in heels.)

Mike – would you be willing to share some recipes with all of us?  We hear/read about the deliciousness of your creations, so I’m curious to try something.

Mike says:
I’ll see what I can put together. I’m kind of a bad person to ask about recipes. I see stuff in the cupboards/fridge and I throw it in a pot. There is no rhyme or reason to my culinary madness. But I have some staples that I could write recipes for. What are you looking for that you’ve read about in the blog?

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Answers, part VII

Angela asks:

If you would star in a movie what one would it be?

Mike says:
I don’t even get this question. A real movie, or the movie of my life?

Shan says:
Not sure what that means either. Like, is there a movie that resembles my life? Or what would a movie about my life be? Sorry Ang, I should have clarified with you!

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?

Mike says:
Put my money to work for me to try and live off it.

Shan says:
Pretty much the same thing I said about winning the lottery — travel, invest, etc.

After you are gone what do you most want to be remembered for?

Mike says:
The things I did for my family and friends. Also, my beard.

Shan says:
I want people to say that I really lived and enjoyed life. When I think, “Hey I want to do ____.” I usually find a way to do it. Not everything, but most things. I also hope I’m remembered as a good daughter, sister, aunt, mother, wife and friend.

Do you believe in destiny?

Mike says:
No way. There’s to much randomness in the world.

Shan says:
Sure. Sort of. I’m not sure what I’m thinking of is called destiny, but I believe that certain people are meant to do or be certain things. Does that make sense? I just spent five minutes trying to figure out how to say what I’m thinking, but I guess I haven’t quite worked it out in my head yet.

What was the first thing that attracted you to each other?

Mike says:
Her intellect and sense of humor.

Shan says:
His match.com profile. Specifically his proper use of grammar!

If your friend’s partner was cheating on their spouse or significant other, would you tell them?

Mike says:
I’d encourage them to tell their partner and deal with it. Otherwise probably not. I might not stay friends with them though.

Shan says:
Mike totally stole my answer. We talked about what we’d do in this type of situation the other day, and he wasn’t sure exactly how he’d handle it, and then I said that I’d tell them to tell their partner or I would do it. So basically Mike is a stealer.

Who do you admire the most? Why?

Mike says:
My Grandpa. When he was alive, he was more alive than any of us. He loved absolutely everything about life. He was the most endearing sort of mischievous.

Shan says:
I have two. My dad because he taught me to love, be kind to and engage with everyone, no matter who or where they are. My mom because she has more will and courage and positive attitude in the face of unavoidable pain and challenge than anyone I know.

What do you think happens to you when you die?

Mike says:
I really don’t know. I’m not a faithful or religious person, so I don’t necessarily believe in heaven or hell. If I were pushed, the only thing I’d really be able to say I believe is that you stop living.

Shan says:
I don’t know either. I hope there’s some version of heaven, but I have no idea what that might look or feel like. I honestly think no matter what you believe, you really don’t know until you die. And then you can’t tell anyone.

What is your favorite book?

Mike says:
Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. It’s actually 7 books, and they’re awesome.

Shan says:
I think I know why Mike likes Stephen King. Because despite his brevity in these answers, he’s really quite long-winded. As for my favorite book? Why oh WHY do you ask such an impossible question? I’ve read hundreds of books in my life, I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite. To give you a little something though, one that always pops in my head when thinking of great books is Steinbeck’s East of Eden.

What do you think is the biggest difference between men and women?

Mike says:
Besides the obvious? I know it’s cliche, but women are nurturers. Shan is so much more concerned with how I feel when I’m upset. I just want to fix the problem.

Shan says:
Men are so dramatic! I know women get slapped with that stereotype most of the time, but I swear that men, at least in my experience, make such a bigger deal about things. Also, men smell more.

What does your “dream house” look like?

Mike says:
It has a huge chef’s kitchen with extra-tall countertops and over-sized appliances. After that, I don’t really care, as long as it has tons of space. A fireman’s pole might be cool.

Shan says:
Not too big because I don’t want to clean and maintain a lot of space. But open and spacious enough to not be tripping over people or pets. From the outside I like the look of darker colored houses, but from the inside I like it to feel light and bright. Oh and a big kitchen for my man. I haven’t spent much time dreaming up my dream house, so that’s all I’ve got.

What is the very first memory that you have?

Mike says:
I might have been in Kindergarten or 1st grade, and Ronald McDonald visited our school. Back in the 80s Ronnie Mac was the shit. It was pretty awesome. I believe we had orange drink, too.

Shan says:
This is random, but I remember walking down the driveway at the first house I lived in to get the mail. I think my aunt was with me (obviously I wasn’t walking near the street when I was barely old enough to have memories). I have no idea why this stuck in my head, but it’s there, very vividly. And of all the memories I have, I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest in that one.

What do you consider to be the most important thing in your life?

Mike says:
Happiness. Everything else is easier when you’re happy. There’s no way to make it through life without it.

Shan says:
My shoes. Definitely my collection of fun sale-rack shoes. After that, I guess all that crap Mike said. Happiness and whatnot.

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