Ella loves donuts. She could eat them for breakfast daily.  I don't dislike them, but I don't live for them.  But....I think I'm in donut love for the first time.

I've had Marge's donuts before.  People bring them in to work and they are wonderful.  One a recent errand trip up to Grand Rapids, we decided to stop in.

It's sort of hidden on 28th Street...
We walked in and the first thing that hits you is....the smell. Freshly made donuts.  You want to inhale it and remember it...

Then, your eyes see the counter and they grow wide.
You want them ALL.  Even if you aren't a donut lover, you still want them ALL.  But, you know you can't...and you have to settle for one or two. 

These were our selections:
Never before have I had donuts this fresh.  They were wonderful.

And, Marge's was a friendly place full of smiles and conversation. Marge was even there herself making sure everything was ok with everyone.

Some calories are 100% worth it.  If you're ever in Grand Rapids and need a donut fix, stop by Marge's. You won't regret it.
Mojo is a great little puppy, but his fear of 'everything outside' is a little concerning.  He NEVER enjoys going outside.  Well, not until we discovered the dog park!
When Mojo enters the park, he's a different dog.  The rules state that only dogs 4 months and older can go to the dog park, so he's only been a couple of times (he just turned 4 months old).   He's always been the smallest dog there and therefore....the very center of attention by both the dogs and their owners. 

It's hard to take pictures, because they all move so fast.  As soon as we get past the staging area, Mojo is joyful and playful and so very happy.  Can you see his smile?
All the big dogs want to know who this little guy is.  They follow him and smell him and tackle him. 
They all gather together to check out each dog's owner.  Mojo fits right in.  And his fear?  He's not afraid of ANYTHING at the dog park.

Can you find him in this picture?
When it's time to go, it's obvious.  All of the sudden, our little pup is hanging out by our sides, not trying to keep up with everyone else.  We start walking toward the gate and he follows (with only a few digressions to say goodbye).

We put him in the backseat and he even almost falls asleep.  His fear has even left him for the ride home.

We all love the dog park! What a great idea. 
Is it possible?

Is it really possible?

I've heard two claims that brownies can be made both deliciously and healthy.  My new hero, Dr. Oz, posted a recipe on his web site and I also heard about a weight watchers recipe for them.

I buy it that they can be healthy, but delicious too?

There was only one way to find out.

I bought the stuff.
Dr. Oz's recipe was definitely better for you from a simple food perspective - no white sugar (agave nectar instead), no butter, etc.   The weight watchers recipe had white flour, butter and sugar.  Also, The weight watchers recipe only had 1/2 c. of black beans in a 9x13 pan while Dr. Oz's recipe had a whole can of beans in a small 8x8 pan. I couldn't really believe the weight watchers recipe would be that great for you with those ingredients (or lack thereof), but my prediction was that they would taste better.

I made both recipes in one day so we could have a taste test.  In my opinion, no taste test required!

Which one looks better to you?
Not sure if the camera captures it, but Option 1 was an odd brownish color and Option 2 was a dark, rich chocolate color.  The same went for taste in my opinion. Option 1 was spongy and lacked depth. Option 2 was thick and dense and chocolatey.

Can you tell my preference?

Obviously, it was Option 2 - which was....(drum roll please)...Dr. Oz's recipe.

So, I was really happy that the healthier recipe prevailed, and they really were good, but I have to admit something...this recipe does not replace homemade (or even box) brownies exactly.  It is really good, but to me, it tasted more like a dark chocolate dense cake.

I will definitely make these again.

Oh, and one more interesting fact....Ella actually liked the weight watchers recipe better. Well, she's still establishing her palate you know...
Artisan Bread - check
Thai Food - check
Chicago Style Stuffed Pizza - new mission

My visit to Greektown Detroit has sparked a new culinary mission. I had the best pizza I've ever had there, and I'm determined to do it at home.

We have a deep dish pizza pan (that we received for our wedding 15 1/2 years ago!) so I'm off to a good start.  We've also been experimenting a little over the past 15 1/2 years, so I'm not a complete rookie like I was with Thai food.

I can't explain how good that pizza in Greektown was. I've decided to let my camera explain it to you.
Let the experimentation begin...
This is Mojo. He is going to take a bath.  Mojo isn't crazy about baths.  "Come on, Mojo, it's BATHTIME!!!"
But I have everything ready.....doggy shampoo and lots of big fluffy towels.
"Do I have to? I promise I won't chew on Dad's shoes, Ella's barbies or your scarves anymore!"
OK, Step 1 complete.  Mojo is in the bathroom and his collar is removed.  "No....I haven't changed my mind. You're still taking a bath."
"OK, this isn't so bad....and I'm sure there's a treat coming..."
"There is a treat coming.....right??"
"Of course there is Mojo."
Awe...what a handsome and clean puppy.




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Aaahhhh.....City life. I love it.  Sure, there are things I don't miss about living in the city.  But there are things I long for.  The best part of being in the city is the culture.

Cities, by their nature are diverse - in color, heritage, religion...

We have so much to learn from each other, if we'd only listen.

I was in Detroit recently for work and took the People Mover to Greektown from Cobo Hall.
We don't have enough people for a people mover where I live.

We also don't have Greek food.  Can you believe it?  In Greektown we ate at Pegasus. Opa!!!
We walked around...
and just enjoyed the different-ness (I know, not a word).
Breaking out of the day-to-day routine is essential for my soul.  I felt refreshed, renewed and appreciative.  It's reassuring to know that unique and diverse places still exist out there.

We just need to find them.
We are actually have a bit of a thaw! That means temperatures in the mid 30's here in West Michigan.  I'm sure Winter will be back any day now, but I'm enjoying it.

It reminded me of a gift we received a few weeks before Christmas, when it was cold and just starting to snow. That time of year is bittersweet.  On one hand, we're excited to get the snow, because Christmas is coming.  On the other hand, we know we're in for a long Michigan winter (which, by the way, is nothing compared to the Upper Peninsula winters I lived through in high school).

But, back to the gift.  One day, this arrived:
There it was....in the teens outside and all grey and windy. But inside, it was bright and sunny.

Greg's mom and stepdad just moved to Florida and sent this to us. What a surprise!  We ate them for weeks and enjoyed every ounce of the sun's vitamin C infusion.

It's just not the same going to the grocery store for citrus after receiving a box of it from loved ones in Florida! I guess that's the key to surviving cold Michigan winters, surround yourself with things that make you warm on the inside.

Worked for us!
As most of you know, animals outnumber humans in our house at this point.  We have a puppy (Mojo), 2 cats (Stout & Belle) and a guinea pig (Her Royal Highness Princess Cinnamon).

So, in order to keep a somewhat clean and functioning house, we need some rules.  One rule we strongly try to enforce is:


Seriously. It really grosses me out to have cats on the counter. 

But, there has been a breach of the system, and I didn't even see it happening.  You see, Stout has to be with me all the time (at least he did, before Mojo came along).  One time of day that Stout can count on to spend time with me is dinner time.  He has always sat on the stool at our island while I prepare dinner. 

Then, slowly....very slowly... I realized that he was bending the rules.  He knows he's not completely allowed to be on the counter, so ......this is what he does now:
He doesn't jump up.  He just stands there visiting with me.

It's automatic now.  As soon as I start pulling ingredients out of the fridge, my cooking buddy is there in that position. 

Who says cats aren't loyal...and smart??
You've heard my goal to run a half marathon.....Greg and I were both surprised by Ella's goal.  She wants to learn how to cook!

She likes helping out in the kitchen now and then, but if her favorite TV show is on, forget it!  Now, she's an excellent sous chef!  As part of her New Year's Eve Party, we all got a new cookbook (it was the prize for the scavenger hunt).   She picked out a kids cookbook and on New Year's Day, Ella made us breakfast. 

It was her first time cooking a whole meal (she's wearing the T-shirt I made for her the night before at the party). Now, she wants it added to her chores that once a week, she'll cook dinner for the family.
Pancakes ala Ella.  And, I didn't even have to help with the hot stuff.
Look who is the sous chef now!  Not Stout - he's just in it for the scraps.
So, we're still trying to understand this puppy Mojo and what drives him.  One day, his training goes very smoothly and it's obvious he's learned everything.  The next day...it's gone! And the next? Miraculously re-learned.

Mojo loves his bed. When we went to the pet store, we put at least 5 beds on the floor.  He immediately went for one.  He got up, tried all of the other ones and came back to the first choice.  I also thought it was the least attractive one, but....it was his bed, so we got it for him.  We put it in the cart, and him in it.  WIthin 1 minute, he was sound asleep...in the bed...in the cart.  Like I said, he loves his bed. 

After Christmas, we moved our furniture around. During dinner, we like him to lay in his bed, so he doesn't learn to beg.  Well, all of the sudden, he wouldn't lay in his bed! We kept bringing his toys to his bed and telling him to lay down. He would, but would immediately get up and come to the table.  We tried treats, chewies, you name it....

Then, the thought occurred to me.  With the new layout, he couldn't see us while he was in his bed.  So I moved it to where he could see us and...
Good Boy!  What a treasure of a puppy we have!

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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my blog...my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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