July Foods and the Room Switch

July of 2011 was the only part of the summer that we spent in Ontario. I thought it would be fun to do an end-of-the sitcom, "what have we learned?" kind of post.
1. July is the only "hot" month in Ontario. So eat something cold.
By that I mean we had a week of temps in the high-80s to mid-90s and a fair bit of humidity. Our central air fought bravely, but it was stuffy in our apartment for a while. Our solution to this was to keep the oven and stove off as much as possible and expand "Salad Night" into "Dinner."

A caprese-style salad with mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and arugula.

We also made potato salad for lunches with this recipe and an amazing strawberry pesto pasta salad that I didn't photograph, despite its beauty.

Other salad favorites this month: Greek barley salad and this delicious, extremely simple chickpea salad. Those chickpeas are going to be on the menu again soon, and would be perfect to take to school or on a car trip.

When my parents were here, we decided to show off the fabulous Asian grocery store we've recently fallen in love with, United Market. We bought these red bean ice cream bars as a sort of experiment, and John and I LOVE them! They're so creamy (and full of sugar). It's a totally different context for beans and it's delicious.

The same company makes a lot of other flavors and now I want to try all of them.

2. When it's hot, get out of the apartment and go to the beach.
This one shouldn't take a lot of 'splainin. The beach is awesome and breezy. It's currently John's favorite place to take a nap.

Even though this July had the hottest day on record in London, ON, I managed to give myself frost bite by leaving an icepack on my hamstring and then falling asleep while watching "Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Isrealites." Please enjoy this picture of the back of my thigh, just above the knee. It stung for a day or two, and then went away, kind of like a sunburn. Giving myself frostbite on what was literally the Hottest Day Ever was one of those moments when I felt grateful for my now 8 years of higher education.

That red shape is from the ice pack wrinkles.

3. Say yes to rearranging your furniture.

The above photo was our bedroom, and now it's The Den. The ceiling fan in that room was a plus, but it also has eastern facing windows that allowed Mother Nature to wake us up really early every morning. The sun is so strong that I felt like I was getting a tan line from my pjs. It's also a small room, so we bumped into each other as we got dressed, and I whacked my leg on the bed pretty much all the time (because I'm obviously coordinated; see above).

And now our big, former living room is our big, current bedroom. No apologies for the unmade bed.

From the perspective of the bed. The curtains are temporary and make it look like a harem.

We are in love with the new arrangement, as all of the air conditioning/heat vents are now free and the air circulates better. We also have tons of room to get dressed and exercise in the space near our dressers. It makes sense to keep our living room in the smallest space, since we use it the least of any room, and we rarely have more than 2 people over at once. It actually makes the apartment feel bigger than before.
That pretty much wraps up July.
During August, John and I are spending several weeks in Chicago so that he can do research. I'll be doing school work, too, but from my aunt's couch, thus allowing me plenty of time for general fun in the city. If you have a recommendation for a Chicago activity/place to eat, please let me know! I hope to have some fun pictures and things to post here from that trip.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Sweet Beach - Port Stanley, ON

As I mentioned here, I went with John and Lauren to our friend's new cafe in Port Stanley, Ontario: Sweet Beach.

Our friend Meg opened Sweet Beach earlier this summer. It's a really cute little place on William Street in Port Stanley. If you've ever been to Port Stanley, you've probably been on William St. - it's the one that leads straight to the main beach in town. Meg's location is fabulous, and the cafe appeals to people like me who would like a food option other than fries when they visit Lake Erie. The other big restaurant on the same street is Mackie's, which is kind of a Port Stanley tradition for a lot of people. They sell fries, fast food stuff, and ice cream. It's not there's anything wrong with that, but it's nice to have the choice of something else.

Here's Meg with their display case of delicious baked goods.

Meg has a nice variety of baked goods: muffins, cookies, ham & cheese croissant, etc. Lots of yummy stuff, and she bakes it fresh every day.

Chocolate silk cake.

Sweet date squares.

Sweet Beach has the only soft serve ice cream in Port Stanley and it is seriously some good soft serve. She also has a ton of mix-ins so you can order a Sweet Storm - their version of a flurry/blizzard kind of thing.

One of the perks of having a year-round place like this is the coffee - Meg has several kinds of organic, fair-trade coffee brewing daily, plus this row of pretty teas. You can also buy the coffee by the pound to take home.

John and I had such a good time visiting Sweet Beach and we will definitely be back!

Note: just a reminder, this ain't no fancy blog. I wasn't paid or given any sort of compensation for this post, I just like Meg and Sweet Beach a lot.

Lauren in Ontario

In the second half of July, my good friend Lauren came to visit us in London.

Lauren and I have been friends since about fifth grade, and I'm sad to say that I don't have a scanner to show you some awesomely bad pictures from back then, because there are TONS: show choir, jazz band, our 8th grade trip to Gettysburg when I got the stomach flu and threw up all over the hotel bed we were sharing. Lauren and all the other girls in our room eventually got sick, too. Those were good times.

We stayed friends during college, even though she went to Pur-don't. Now she lives in Chicago and works for a health science company that does research on things like whether or not formaldehyde in wrinkle-free shirts can hurt you. Or how bad hair products are for your body. That kind of thing. Lauren is one of about 2 friends I have who "do science" instead of music, and I like to ask her sciency questions. For some reason I think it's like having the Discovery Channel on hand, though Lauren constantly reminded me that she doesn't automatically know everything about science just because she majored in it.

Home of the "chipnut": a peanut coated in potato, then fried and seasoned. Not as amazing as I hoped, but I'm glad I sampled them.

During her visit we did all the typical London things. You know - playing with sparklers on our porch. Then we headed down to Port Stanley, ON and stopped at Picard's Peanuts along the way. Picard's has most kinds of nuts you can think of, plus their chocolate-coated varieties, candy, jams, etc. It's a place that "has Abby's dad written all over it," as John said.

Then we drove into Port Stanley itself. We stopped at Sweet Beach, a new cafe run by two of our good Canadian friends, but it deserves its own post here. Next we walked around Port Stanley, something I've never actually done. Lauren and I stood next to this monument to take a picture, and then proved that we cannot stand still and take a normal picture without me laughing hysterically first.

John has the opposite problem. He can sit still for about 1 picture, and then he has to let off some steam being funny.

It was SO FUN to have Lauren come visit us. Plus we got to learn where the Amtrak station is in Detroit! She's the kind of friend who I can go a long time without speaking to, but then we talk again and no time has gone by. Plus, Lauren is easy to entertain. We are both excited to see her in Chicago in August!


Happy Dance

Around mid-July I found out that I passed my comps! From what I can tell, the handful of people who read this probably knew a long time ago that I passed, but I wanted to post here about it anyways because HOT DAMN I PASSED THE COMPS!!!

John found out that he passed in the morning, and I didn't find out for about 5 more hours. I was a complete, nervous wreck after that. The thing is, we have different committees, so the fact that he heard didn't mean anything about when I might hear or whether I passed. I thought it might take another couple of months for my results to come in, and I tried to make peace with the idea of not knowing until September.

We ran a few errands (I finally got a new hamper! It completes the big furniture-rearrangment we did in the middle of July - more on that later), and then decided to go to Springbank Park for a long walk. Before we left the house, I obsessively checked my email one last time, and there it was!
"I've just sent a message to the Associate Dean informing her that your Advisory Committee has read and passed all three parts of your comprehensive exam. Congratulations!"

So we went to the park and John practiced using fast shutter speed while I jumped up and down.
Then we went out for ice cream that night to celebrate.

John's kindly holding my cup while I take a photo.

It's so hard to get John to take a normal picture.

OhthankGod. Wepassedthecomps. Whew! On to the directed studies and the proposal.


Beach Day - Bayfield, ON

My parents came to Ontario to visit in July and we took them to Bayfield, ON, a beachy town we'd never visited before.

Bayfield is on Lake Huron, just north of Grand Bend and the Pinery. The town itself was cute (though I didn't take pictures), and it seemed more parent-friendly at least for my parents than Grand Bend.

We tried out our new beach umbrella.

On the other side of this pier is a marina where people park their boats.

Bayfield's sand on the beach was really nice, but the shore was really rocky. Everyone but me kept their sandals on to go out into the water because it was painful to walk on all the rocks. Someone recently told me that the rockiness comes and goes (weird!) so it might not be that way next summer. One we were out about 30 feet or so from the beach, the sand was really soft, and still very shallow. At that distance, the water only came up to my waist. The other big thing in Bayfield's favor is that the parking was free and it has public washrooms, though they were locked for the evening before we were ready to go home, so that was kind of a bummer. I think we'll definitely go back and maybe see some more of the town next time.

Fourth of July

Today I realized that July is almost over and I still have an old post from the Fourth. So here we go!
Three years ago (!!!) on the Fourth of July, I went with John, Mark, and Sarah up to Fort Wayne.

We went to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

Here we are in the Australian part.

My parents took us to an IPFW donor cookout to watch the fireworks.

This year John and I went with my parents to the same cook out (and I missed Mark and Sarah a lot!).
They had some lovely desserts:

S'more-filled cupcake. A+.

Strawberry shortcake. A. Not bad, but not as outstanding as the s'more cupcake.

Dad decided he should try on John's new hat.

I think Dad briefly considered permanently taking the new hat from John.

Sort of distinguished, right?

Then he did his Australian accent for us, and I laughed 'till I cried. That's definitely my dad's hidden talent. It involved a lot of sounds like "Oooooi!"


Gratuitous Dogs Photos

And now, some photos of my parents' dogs that John and I took in Fort Wayne. I won't even bother trying to string this into a narrative. We went to Fort Wayne. We took the dogs for a walk or two. I took a bunch of photos of them.

If you think I'm one of those people who's weird for how much they love dogs, you're probably right.

Really loving the shutter speed on the fancy new camera.