Seattle At Night

Seattle At Night

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Postpartum

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and is ready to begin 2012 with positive energy and good grace.  As you can tell by my lack of entries, the season has kept me very busy!  I am not back at work for a couple days between Christmas and New Year, which most people have off or they just don't want to do work, and therefore have some free time this week!
I thought I'd do a silly photo blog of some of my Christmas blessings! This includes activities and gifts!
Here we gooo!
My letter to Santa, written with my left hand for authenticity!  Also a plate of the homemade sour cream cut out cookies we made on Christmas Eve starting at 10:30 pm!  Delicious! We had lots of willing decorators to help our with the frosting and sprinkles!!!
Captain loved to pass out in front of the fire and dream, so we painted his nails!! poor poochie!
Me in my wonderful new ski coat!!! I couldn't be happier with it!

I bought the wonderful poopers real cow bones from Local's sustainable meats in New Buffalo, MI.  I also bought flank steak for our Christmas dinner and myself discovered that no, grass fed beef is not tougher than corn-fed, in fact everyone told me it was the best flank steak they have had and that it was super tender!
I made Caprese but also my sister for a fish eye lense for Christmas!!! This photo shows how great it is, along with the next photo of our whole living and dining room at the cottage packed with people!!!

 My parents found me this awesome retro popcorn kettle!  I can't wait to use it!!
 This summer granny and I went to the Saginaw Art museum and met this artist and loved his work and its ties with Saginaw even though he is from Japan!
 I love to knit so this yarn has me all excited to start several new projects!
 These light up needles might attract a new kind of knitter with that catch phrase!
All in all we had a lovely Christmas at the lake!  As you can see above, the weather was gorgeous, not the ideal snow storm, but at least there was some sunny beauty and not just the drabby overcast.
Hope you liked your peek into the Morley Christmas!!!!
Happy New Year!  I'll probably catch you then!
<3 Suz

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Time for the Holidays!

I can't believe it is already December!  I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, stuffing your face full of delicious home made goods!  I help out every year by making the green bean casserole! I've also recently started to help out with the pies as well!  But once the turkey is all gone, it is time to start thinking about Christmas!
  My family is pretty big in Christmas traditions. We have a lot of them and they are important to us.  Last weekend I brought a tree to my apartment along with my ornaments box which is an assortment of ornaments I made in the 90's, my baby ornaments, the ornaments my grandma gets us every year, and other random decorations and nativity sets.   My parents have saved this for me since I was an infant, and I'm pretty grateful for it.  I think my tree looks great with all these miscellaneous ornaments on it!  Some of my favorites were my beauty and the beast bulb, the big bird that you can see in the bottom of this picture next to a wonderful picture of Santa and I from 1996!  I'm working on getting a tree skirt to complete the look!

Our family is also good on making lots of delicious treats to give away to friends and family.  Normally I'm at home to do this, but this year I wasn't sure when I'd be home to do all of this, so I tried one of our favorites and specialties, peanut brittle, on my own!  Apparently it is kind of odd that we stretch our peanut brittle, but that is how I was always taught to do it, and I like it not being so thick that I bust my teeth.  Here is a close up of my final product of making peanut brittle for the first time without my dad!

and yes, it is as delicious as it looks!  That batch was PERFECT! I'll post more about my family Christmas Traditions!  There will be many more in the coming weeks. I'll be conquering them either alone or with my family due to the fact that I have no vacation days yet so I will not be spending the 2.5 weeks I'm used to spending at Higgins Lake with my family.  So to feel involved  and in the holiday spirit, I can take some of these on by myself!

Also wanted to show you my new ride!  My old ride was great! but it started costing too much to keep up with repairs, so we sold it in 3 days and I got this gorgeous Honda Civic on a lease.  It has a computer in it that took a half an hour tutorial to learn how to use!  Big thanks to my parents for helping me out on this wonderful ride.  I'm so thankful for it!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Take care!
Go Blue!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Snow!

I always look forward to the first snow of the year!  this year it was a little later than most, because we usually have at least one snow in October!  That was not the case this year!  This is from today, Nov. 10th and I would run outside practically every time snow started falling from the sky!  Each time, my co workers would moan about how its already snowing!  This picture, for instance was taken with me outside and my co-worker inside.
Some might call me cold, but I always have said if you don't like winter, then by all means leave Michigan and quit complaining!  The season's are one of the best attributes of the area, besides all the water!
I'm fighting off a cold I got at the beginning of last week...tonight might be the hardest to sleep because all the mucus is draining causing me to cough a lot... I've been living off dayquil, vitamin D3 and tea with some white licorice in it!
I had a lovely weekend last weekend with a lot of great people, as busy as I was!  Wish I could give more details, but not enough time and I'm trying to keep my uber personal life out of this.  
BUT I did cook an amazing meal and I would love to share it since it is also in season!
stuffed acorn squash!!!
cut an acorn squash in half, scoop seeds and guts out and make the holes nice and sizeable!   
In a mixing bowl mix up a stuffing of your choice, below is my stuffing but you have a lot of wiggle room to change vegetables or grains!
1 egg
minced garlic
dried cherries
salt, pepper, parsley sage

Once you have the perfect stuffing mixed, put it into each hole of the acorn squash!  Bake at 375 in a making pan with water in the bottom and/or brush butter on the exposed acorn squash.  Both these techniques prevent the squash from getting too dry.  It needs to bake for about an hour.  then, enjoy!  I put cheese on the top of mine after it baked for 30 minutes and it added a nice crunchy topping!!

Until next time!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wrapped up in Fall!

   I've been so wrapped up in fall and integrating myself into my new community, I've hardly had time to talk about it!  I am in one of the best locations for fall, like I've been preaching all summer, due to my location.  I am in a great area to easily obtain local, fresh food!  Last week, to get my pumpkins, I drove about 10 minutes out of my way home from work and stopped at a patch.  I also grabbed some acorn squash, butternut squash for good seasonal cooking!
Tonight I finally carved those pumpkins as a self Halloween celebration, then roasted the seeds my favorite way and made a facial mask with the guts!  Talk about multiple usage of a product!  Also all the ingredients in my home made face mask were from within 100 miles!  I must say, my face does feel soft, but having a food processor would have made the mask more applicable and less messy. Here are the ingredients I used:
apple cider
an egg
using mainly pumpkin put all ingredients in a food processor and blend,  get it to a think enough texture to apply it to your face without it running.  Leave it on for about 20-25 minutes (or longer if you want) until it is dry, then just wash your face!

Try it, let me know what you think.

This weekend I'll be experimenting with the acorn squash and stuffing it.  Similar concept as stuffing a pepper, but a co worker was telling me about it and just cut it in half and mix up rice and whatever else you want in it then put some cheese on top and bake it!  Yumm! I'll let you know what I find!

On a not to local food note, I bought a harder goat's cheese at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor that I am ecstatic about to pair with a pinot noir that a colleagues son made.   The cheese is from Spain, but well worth the travel....
Last weekend I finally made it to Ann Arbor!!! I miss Ann Arbor desperately and the amazing friends and family who live there!  I will need to be going back more often!  My Halloween costume from Saturday is far superior to my Friday costume.  See picture below.  I hope you can see that I was some sort of abstract, exotic bird

 Below is my flapper costume with my good friends from my dorm hall freshman year!  Love them all!

 Billy and I went to the football game!!! Go Blue!
 If you are easily offended, do not look at this picture of my friends' costumes!  This is me with some of my amazing friends from Nicaragua trip!  Love you all! including those not pictured!
 Billy and John were Zombies for Halloween.  They look super creepy and amazing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Well tomorrow the new country girl heads off to a new city!  Yes I get on the train to go from New Buffalo, MI to Chicago, IL and finally ending up in Milwaukee, WI.  I've never been to Milwaukee, but I loved Madison!
Land Trust Alliance is a national organization for land trusts that offers many services to land trusts like accreditation, training, advocacy etc.  Every year they hold an event called Rally where all the land trusts gather to train, network and share ideas and experiences.  Tomorrow I venture to my first Rally to learn more about my job, and network with other professionals in my field.  I have two seminars and 4 workshops packed into my 3 days I will be at Rally.  Unfortunately I will not have time to see much of beautiful Milwaukee, but maybe it will entice me to return!  Can't wait to report back about this adventure!  I'm sure I will meet a lot of great people and learn about some of the other crucial land protection projects going on around the U.S.
  Last week I had a dinner party at my new apartment, Suzy's Kowa-Bungalow!   I made my grandma Sue's cabbage rolls with soy sausage in a home made tomato sauce with a side summer salad with a home made strawberry basil vinaigrette.  For desert I made my grandma LaCroix's pumpkin brownies (pumpies as Johanna and I call them) with a home made cream cheese frosting and apple butter to put on top.  It was a very lovely party.   I prepped all week for it...
I also  thought I should mention my dream property that I have been on twice int he last week.  A gorgeous parcel owned by a lovely couple.  It is up in the rolling hills of the Valpraiso Morraines, their house sitting on a hill with a lovely wrap around porch that over looks their alfalfa field, a small pond that geothermally heats their home, and a pasture with a beautiful pet dairy cow grazing.  The off to the right is a beautiful forest with trails through the woods and a hidden sedge prairie.  They also have a barn for the cow in the winter.  It truly is a beautiful parcel of land.  I was drooling during the whole property walk....
Well my computer keeps shutting down again, and I'm saving up for a new one but for now this is why my blogs are short and scarce.  I've had to restart it 4 times already due to freezing.  Not even going to try to upload pictures.
I'm glad the Tigers and Lions are doing well.
Also GO BLUE!  (we play State saturday....)
Have a great week, I hope you enjoyed the nice Michigan weather, because its over....
<3 Suzy

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

Holy cow!  literally... I know it has been soo long since I have blogged, but you might have known that I was moving!  And all of you know how time consuming moving is... especially when it is to your first unfurnished apartment!  and yes, it was a community effort to make my apartment comfortable for me!  for this I would like to personally and publicly thank Chris Thompson, Peg Kohring, George Lucas, Grandma Sue, and of course, my fabulous parents!  all of these people helped me to make this apartment a home, and I'm such a home body that it was crucial to me to make myself a home.  Pictures are not yet up... except of my Michigan bathroom, but once I am finished decorating and cleaning, I will show everyone my quaint yet guest ready apartment!
 Saturday was our benefit for work at Middlebrook farm, a local farm that raises grass fed beef!  This event also contributed to my delinquent blogging.... but boy was it great!  and this event is what I was holy cow-ing!  The cows were soo cute, see the picture below!

Today I got a new computer at work!  I'm really excited because it is a large screen so that I can make better maps and see them a lot better!  My GIS seminar with DEQ was great and now I'm more of a map nerd!  
I love fall in Michigan!  It is definitely one of my favorite times of year!  caramel apples, regular apples, pumpkin, pumpkin flavored everything, sweaters, pumpkin seeds, cider, falling colored leaves!  Where else can you get all of these products locally?  Here!  There is no better place for fall than here!  
So this weekend I'm taking myself on a date to the pumpkin patch!  Then I will carve pumpkins with myself as another date later in the month!  Its nice dating yourself!  hardly any bad dates!
I also need to mention that during this 20 minute blogging process I have had to restart my computer twice, it is freezing up and i think it is the graphics processor or something malfunctioning... I will probably be buying a new laptop soon...along with a car... Feel free to support my not for profit lifestyle by checking out my Etsy! 

Also anything in my facebook knitting album can be recreated!  It is fall... Time to keep warm with cute hats and scarves!

Also saw the Foo Fighters live and they rock hard!  They played for 3 hours!  Then I met them, Taylor Hawkins, the amazing drummer called me sweety and I almost passed out!  Also shook Dave Grohl's hand!  What an honor!  (for those of you who are unfamiliar with them, Dave Grohl drummed for Nirvana, a 90's grunge band)  I highly recommend everyone to see this band if you enjoy their music because they sure know how to perform and entertain the crowd!  

Apartment pics soon!  Promise to blog more!

<3 Suz

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Last Sunset of Summer

Tonight I went to the beach to watch probably the last summer sunset.  snapped a few photos of the gorgeous sky and lake.  Since I have so much to do after work.... I played around with the colors on the first one.
A very edited, very dramatic photo! I like silhouettes!   

Beautiful sky with some beach debris

I didn't get very tan this summer :(

This is my tribute to goodbye of many things including summer, college, all my previous years of focusing on being educated, and dependent.  

Now I say hello to fall and winter ( <3)  working, a job, being independent, and very self disciplined.
Once I know what this looks like, I will send pictures.  Hopefully soon it will be of my new apartment that I am wishing to find on Wednesday when my lovely mom and and ravishing Granny come to help me look for a new residence for my new life.
Also, Wolverines have a lot of work to do if they are going to continue winning.... train hard boys, you need to!
Can't wait for hockey season!  I need to see my wolvies play a few times, even if I have to go to South Bend to annoy the Lame-o's.
Don't forget to support my organization!  You can purchase raffle tickets even if you can't make it to the benefit, you can also buy them online with the paypal account, just specify that is what the money is for.  Below is a link for more info.

Thanks everyone!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Location, location, location

Wow!  September is amazingly busy.  on top of the tons of fun Chikaming Open Lands (COL) events, I also am trying to find a new place to live for a year or more... not easy in a tourist area....
COL had a dedication ceremony on Monday to welcome 6 acres to preserved land.  This wonderful donation put us at over 1,000 acres protected!  We had GREAT turnout!  about 80 people gathered on the side of a street because of their interests in protecting land!  It was to refreshing to see that many people mobilized about this topic, especially because across the street there is 11 acres for sale that we would love to mobilize to protect, but can not commit any funding for it.  A few community figures have offered to actively work with us, but we need to fund raise for it more than anything.
  Made several jars of pickles today, since they are so delicious and the cool weather with decreases in local veggies is on the way.  yesterday I stopped by a farmers market where I was able to get local garlic, edamame, and onions so most of the object in my pickle jars are local ingredients!  I feel so much better about my food when I know it is supporting someone from this community and since I know where it came from.  Not a lot of gas mileage went into moving this food either, therefore it is more sustainable environmentally and economically.
I start my real job Oct. 1, which means no vacation for 6 months starting Oct. 1, but with all the weekends i'll probably have to work, I will hopefully get some comp. time to use around Christmas, since it is my favorite holiday as I am already thinking of it in September.... oops....
  I'm trying to decide what I am looking for in a place to live, and while I wish I was in the position to buy a few acres in the area with a cozy house, that might take a few years.  instead I think I need to find something reasonably priced and relatively close to the office so that I can save up to get a house in the future, pay off my student loans and buy a new car this spring.... YIKES!  all checks can be sent to my parents house.... haha kidding, unless you want a knit hat or a jar of dill pickles!
  at first I was leaning towards living in a youthly populated area, perhaps a more thriving area, but then I realized I can easily drive to Chicago, Kalamazoo, St. Joe, GR when I need some sort of interaction with people my age.  The thing I will be doing every day is working, so being close to that and saving money should be my priority.  I know, for a 22 year old single, I'm pretty much shooting myself in the foot, but I believe in karma and fate so who knows, maybe some sexy farmer will have a stand at a farmer's market, or I'll run into a sustainable forester in the woods? Its a possibility, right?   Guess I'll find out!  But my point is that my living quarters shouldn't be based on a location of being near activity that I would probably only use once a week if even.  I'm still going to frequent Greenbush Brewery with my co-workers and probably be too tired after work to socialize anyways.  I'd rather find somewhere comfortable and economical in a home to work sense.  Too bad stuff out here is priced like housing in Ann Arbor, who do these people think they are? The places here are certainly not 3 blocks from the Big House, or next door to the best pizza in town open until 3 am... in fact many places here close for 1-3 months a year...
Oh yeah, its a tourist area with a beautiful, grand lake, some of the best sunsets in the country and polluted air, big thanks to "The City".

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In life we are on many different teams, not necessarily sports teams, or other competitive teams, but groups of people who work together with goals and achievements in mind.  I have been very fortunate to be on many great teams, and will soon be joining another awesome team.
    Today I was offered a formal job offer from Chikaming Open Lands.  While I pretty much verbally accepted this position on Monday, today I was given a formal proposal/job description on my new position as Assistant Land Protection Specialist!  I could not be more happy to have a salaried job in my field of study with benefits only 4 months after graduating.  I am also thrilled to become part of an amazing team, one that I will work with every day and push forward a mission we all are passionate about.   My co-workers, board members, and committee members have all proven to be a varied yet knowledgeable and kind team. They see the major benefits from investing in a young college graduate like me to make me a valuable asset to this team.  I truly believe that I can help this organization forward the mission and get through the transition period while achieving our over arching environmental goal of preserving and protecting open spaces.
      However, I could never have made it to this team without the help, love and support of the teams I have been apart of in the past, friends, class mates, colleagues, club members, other co-workers and especially my family.  These other numerous teams have helped push me to join this team, so I am appreciative of the other teams whom I may not be as close to but who definitely influenced me and worked with each other to achieve our goals.  I hope other members of current and past teams feel like our teamwork has accomplished as much as I do right now!
   Even the bad teams, what hasn't worked, or when you had a sour team mate or ten, teaches you something. and even though bad teams may be miserable, there is still the will to push past them and keep the end goals in mind.  
  So this day, I celebrate successful teams, because without all the people we have worked with in our lives, no one would be where they are now.
  I know i still have many teams to join, but this is a landmark in any person's life: their first salaried with benefits job!
and now that I'm all optimistic and happy.... its time to start looking for a place to live in a VERY rural area....

A much needed long weekend at HIGGINS LAKE this weekend, I'm sooo excited to be with family and friends to celebrate this.

Here is the sock I just finished! now I need to make one to match it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cheese with my Whine

Wow!  I don't even remember my last post... talk about busy! So much going on, half of it I can't post on here but definitely some of life's curve balls.   Work has been crazy, lots of meetings and trying to get on track after the transition to the new Executive Director.  Sometimes I feel like my head is spinning and my brain is going to explode, for example, we had a meeting with our lawyer last Friday.  The discussions about the legal documents needed to make an easement happen are fascinating, but man was that a DENSE hour and a half!  Talking about clauses for the different easements and the purchase agreements and the difference between a Right of First Offer and a Right of First Refusal.  After this meeting, I thought my head was going to fall off from obtaining so much information.
Sometimes we have so many meetings I feel like I'm not getting much accomplished, but I know the importance of meeting with the people I'm working with via e-mail.  Its just hard to complete long documents when you are constantly in meetings obtaining new information, so I'll save those documents for quieter days.
On top of all the work with the 4 current easements and one preserve, we have had 3 people call in who saw the article in the newspaper about the new Executive Director and are interested in preserving there land!  This is great news, but things are getting a little crazy, which is also a good thing!
    My back is getting better, after several chiro appointments, and desiring a massage just about every day, I'm down to the bruise only being present when i sit with poor posture and some upper back tension that causes occasional headaches.  I'm trying to get back into Yoga to help strengthen my back into a less tense and maybe a little toned area.  I'm scared I'm not doing my positions right though... Need to save up for a class.
Speaking of saving up, my car, well my parents car that I am using for the time being, is seriously about to crap on me.  I shelled out over $300 for ONE ball bearing, I still have to save up $400 for the rear left one and however much it costs to get my brake AND rotors changed out....I'm trying to take each one a month at a time but that makes it impossible for me to save up for the Ford Fiesta I think I will buy in the spring.
  Yes this blog wasn't very mentally enthralling but like I said, work has been draining me.  Many important meetings and our benefit is coming up soon!  If anyone is interested, I would love to have some of my people supporting our efforts to protect land in this area.  Our benefit is in a barn with locally made hors d'eouvres, beer and wine.  yes local beer and wine!  Here is more information and the means to RSVP!!
 We also have some very cool raffle prizes!
So that's all my selling points for this week.  When I'm feeling more inspired I'll try and get something more engaging up and a little less whinny.  I know we are all suffering in this bad economy, and the last thing people need to hear is about another struggling, poor college grad, but just know that I am being optimistic as much as I can and am also going to work on my good karma in hopes that it circles around.  Keep your chins up, something good has got to happen to soon!  Its all about the attitude!
Oh! I forgot to shout out about my Chicago trip to visit my great friend Drew!  Here is a picture of us at dinner at aja, a great restaurant!  we also went to a John Legend after party for Lolla at the Underground night club! I will be back soon for another great weekend!
Take care and look forward, not backward!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Well, these last few weeks, as many people would put it, have made me stronger.  Not only personally, but even work which is usually going great has been testing me.
Last week I was out testing the little streams that flow into Lake Michigan in Lakeside when I slipped down the Smith's wooden stairs and landed right on my butt three times... I also slammed my shoulder blade area of my back into the edge of the theirs three times, knocking the wind out of me and pretty severely bruising my tailbone and screwing up my back.  This was last Thursday.  Today is Wednesday and it is still bugging me after 2 trips to my amazing and generous chiropractor.  It was hard to walk for the first few days, sitting still was not possible and I could barely dress myself for bending over caused the worst pain.  Luckily now I can move around almost like I used to but in the morning and at night my booty still hurts and when I move my arms my upper back is even tighter than it was before...
  Tuesday Emily, from The Nature Conservancy came to conduct site visits of the property's that TNC transferred to us.  Out on the beautiful Grand Beach Marsh, I stepped on a bee hive underground and was swarmed by bees and luckily only stung by two, which today are itching and swollen.
 Luckily stings do not bug me that much, but i really feel like my threshold is being tested by something.  I normally am a fairly careful and cautious person, but I must have bad karma or something (yes I believe in karma... what goes around comes around...) so I guess some things I've done int he recent past might be catching up to me, but hopefully it doesn't result in my fabulous job thinking I'm too much of a liability...
  Last weekend at Higgins was fabulous!  It was sad that i was there for Mark Morley's service, but I'm glad i got to honor his life in a way he would appreciate, by sailing on Higgins Lake.  Going up there is so refreshing for me, I am truly grateful to have that place that has been the only consistent place in my life and added stability to my world.  No wonder I don't want to leave Michigan,  I have my own vacation resort with all the friends and family I could ever want here, why would I move away from that?  I feel like being even 4 hours away from it is too far... who wants to hire me in Petoskey or Traverse City?
New director started this week so I'm getting to know him and seeing our work dynamic.  Also made a friend who I'm getting beer with at the local brewery tomorrow!  I'm excited!!! It will be nice to have someone here and he has already proven to be a good guy (even though he graduated from MSU...) and hopefully a good friend while I am in the area.
This is a panorama I took of an easement we are working on!  I'm excited to be the official great panorama taker!  I'm working hard on this property too!
I'll keep up the writing if you keep up the reading!
take care!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Country life

Yes I know I keep apologizing for not blogging often but this time really has been a stretch!  You know why?  I've been kept very busy with work, which is also a great thing.  I like knowing that I'm working hard, accomplishing tasks, learning more and more, and getting tired.  Last week we had the board meeting and an event and other meetings, so we were very busy on top of personal life complications, which there were many of those as well. The main one was my cousin losing his life in the Chicago to Mackinaw race.  He did a lot of great things for Saginaw, loved sailing and was a great dad to his daughter Sage.  He will be missed at the lake every summer and I am truly sorry about the situation but know that he passed doing what he loved.  This week is a little more laid back, even though my schedule has already filled up!
 I had a nice weekend where I got to bond with myself Friday and Saturday, meaning I spent time with myself, got to know myself and did a little self pampering. I drove up to a local bakery in Stevensville, which i must say, if you are ever in the area, go to Bit Of Swiss, they truly know how to work their flower and what to put in their ovens.  I bought too many carbs and some great groceries from a lovely store and am happy!
Then my friend Hannah from Madison visited me Sunday since she is moving to Savannah in 2 weeks.  we met on the Costa Rica study abroad trip so it is always nice to see her!  We did some winery tours which are amazing and then sat at the beach ( it finally cleared up!!)  It was so lovely spending time with her

Tonight Peg had a dinner for me to meet some people and have some social life.  We made pizzas on the grill with lovely ingredients from her and her neighbor's garden. I've met a few people that I can make plans with, which is great, I need some personal interaction down here.  Peg and some of these other people are so crafty when it comes to canning and pickling etc and I'm an open and blank book ready to learn everything I can about being self sufficient and making all these home made goodies.  Tonight Peg set me up to start making pickles, I got some Cucumbers and she gave me jars and a recipe so I will begin teaching myself how to pickle!  I will let you know how they turn out!  She also gave me fresh dill and eggs!!  Love this! Can't wait to learn how to do more things like this so I can live in the country myself and have some chickens and a garden! The people here are all interesting and nice and I'm having a great time getting to know a new group of people that were raised completely different than me.  Peg, Johanna and everyone else here has been so great in acclimating me to the area not only as it is a different lifestyle but I also do not have many friends in the area.  I am thankful for their help with food, entertainment and their patience with me at work.  Everyone else I met has been great as well, very welcoming and understanding that I am new to the area and am wiggling my way into the community.  Can't wait to learn more!
I hope we have a dinner similar to this soon, it was a nice relaxing evening with some great people from a wide range of backgrounds.
I'll let you know how the pickles go!
<3 Suz

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Working extra hours this week to make up for the early month holiday, especially with the student loan and Ann Arbor rent to pay!  Last night's extra hours were pretty awesome though!
  We had our moonlight voyager canoe trip, I worked the later one, at 11 pm 10 of us got into a 36 foot long wood canoe modeled after the ones the French Canadians used to use when bringing furs from Canada to the US.  I felt in touch with my ancestors!  Not to mention it was the perfect night for a canoe trip, clear skies, bright moon, still and quiet.  The moon really was our guide last night though Sima J. Marsh.  It was a peaceful canoe trip, with lots of stars in the sky, Saturn in the southern sky as well.  Fireflies were sprinkled throughout the marsh, adding a sparkle to the peaceful boat ride.  Pat and Kip from Berrien County Parks were our tour guides.  They are naturalists which pretty much means their job is to share their love and astonishment of nature with others, a.k.a. AWESOME job!  We didn't see much wildlife, but we sure did see the marsh in a whole different light and mood.  If you ever have the opportunity to get into a watershed at night, I highly recommend it!
Check out pictures here :
  Tomorrow I'm going to Grand Beach Marsh to check out invasive work that was done on it and a possible encroachment by adjoining property owners.  Got to put that to a stop if it s true!  I'm excited to see another one of our preserves though.  Marshes are great pieces of property, they do so much for the Great Lakes watershed including house a diverse number of organisms, filter out the dirty water from the streams before it goes into the lake (in this case, Lake Michigan), and help prevent floods by soaking up extra water in the area.  The beaches here on Lake Michigan were already shut down 3 times this year for high E. coli levels from houses in the area not even having septic tanks or their tanks are outdated, and agricultural run off.  Preserving the wetlands helps prevent this E. Coli from reaching the Lake and infecting the hundreds of people who use the lake in the area.  Please, everyone, be respectful of your wetlands and remember how much they do for you.

Going to Ann Arbor this weekend to move out, this will be sad, I have so many good memories in Ann Arbor.  I hope to make more this weekend and see a lot of people whom I miss!  Enjoy Harry Potter everyone!  I'm seeing it Saturday with my favorite Spaniard!
Cuidate my readers!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Sorry I've been slacking everyone!  So busy, trying to just enjoy life for what it is and not take it too seriously.  Also working very hard to turn my job into a permanent position.
The day with the DEQ lady was great!  I love spending days with Peg, my mentor.  She is soo knowledgeable and personable.  I finally got to see most of the properties we are working on to get as easements as well.  It really helps to talk about a property once you have seen it.
This week is rather quiet, the president and my mentor are out of town so I'm working on one management plan for a preserve and some baseline documents for a possible easement that we want to finish before summer is over.
I went home last weekend to go on a fabulous date!  It was epic, starting at 4 pm with a movie, then a lovely dinner then a nice night at the Bells beer gardens, which by the way, is totally my new hang out spot.  They remodeled it and it looks great and they sell beer there that is not available in stores or other bars. I'm turning into quite the local brewery brat.  Anyways, I had a nice time with this individual and I can't wait for a second one!
Also spent some nice quality time with my dad and the ghetto pool.  I don't know when I'll be in Kalamazoo next, probably August or September, so I'm glad I enjoyed my time there.
Still enjoying the benefits of country life.  Had fresh cherries last week and tonight I made fresh sweet corn. Those cherries were amazing, I'll have to go pick up some more.  I absolutely love all this fresh food and peaceful hors d'oeuvres on my back porch over looking the ravine with deer usually grazing through.  I'm definitely getting used to my own life out here in this quaint corner of Michigan!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not so relaxing bike ride/ holiday at Higgins

Last week I had a few field days where I went out to properties with Peg, Friday was supposed to be one of them, but it rained all day... anyway, she taught me most of the local common invasive species.  To practice I've been pointing them out to myself and recalling their distinct features.
     So today after work I tried to go on a nice relaxing bike ride looking at all the beautiful cottages and getting a little fresh air after spending all day on my bum.  Instead of relaxing, I spend the whole bike ride noticing all the invasive species along Lakeshore drive and desiring to pull them out... how relaxing huh?
As for a permanent position, it sounds like after the new director gets settled in here a little, he is going to interview me and see how he likes me and how I fit with him and his work style.  Not only that but I have a one month review in a week... I'm a bit nervous I must confess because I always want to push myself to work harder and better at things.  At least I have a week to prepare myself for that and another month for my interview with the director!  I know I've been working my butt off and taking in a lot so it shouldn't be a problem.  wish me luck! I think I'd really be happy here for a little bit with this small non-profit.  I really like the work I'm doing too and I think it is important to the future of not only Michigan but of the world.  I also connect well with the landowners and board members so there is a plus!
  My 4th was great, I was at Higgins with a lot of great people who I've missed for a year or more and my family who I don't get to see as much.  Makes me miss living with my sister :(  We went out on the boat a lot, swam, and sunned, which is exactly what my mind and body needed to jump back into my hectic and busy work life.  I love Higgins, I could be there alone and have just as much fun as I do with my friends and family, but I like being around people after being alone so much.  I do go up there mainly for the Lake and for being in such a sacred place to me.  Higgins has truly been my only steady home and place that I can rely on every summer, and I hope that never changes, even if it is only twice a summer (Memorial and the 4th).
Hope everyone else had a great holiday as well!  I'll have a great story from tomorrow, Julia from the DEQ will be here and we are showing her a lot of our properties that qualify for the DEQ grant.  Then we are going to an Indian's elder village to learn about the land and their practices!  How cool huh?  Report back soon!
<3 Suz

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

settling inn

well i have just about used up all of my internet from my hotspot for the month so this blog post will be brief since it is a phone entry.
despite being exhausted from driving all the way to detroit last night, i was very productive after work today.   i first made strawberry muffins using the strawberries i picked in berrien springs friday. then i walked a plate over to my landlords and some of the founders of chikaming open lands.  i sat and talked with them for at least a half an hour to learn how pleasant and hospitable they are. we talked about a wide variety of topics from france to political science degrees to wine.  i really enjoyed better getting to know the kind people who let me use their darling cottage.
it goes without saying that my muffins are terrific and that they liked them.  i also learned that while i love the quiet solitude of my casita, i also really enjoy human interaction outside of work. i also apparently need to be pleasant to others around me. i wouldnt get even close to say that i am ass kissing to get a permanent job, but i merely wanted to exhibit good manners and thank them for their kindness.
in the end i know im a pleasant person to be around, if i want to be around you. i obviously want to be here and working in their organization so why not build a great relationship with these passionate people from different backgrounds who have congregated for the same cause, the environment. like i said this is a phone entry so sorry about misspelling, punctuation and even my capitalization button isnt working...
until next time,

Monday, June 27, 2011


I love weekends here!
Friday I went kayaking in Sima Marsh!   It was amazing!  I can't wait to get a kayak sometime and do it more often!  We saw a great blue heron and a lot of small birds.  It was so quiet back in that preserve!  I also couldn't believe some of the houses that looked over the marsh.  I feel like I'd rather have property on the marsh than on the lake because of the scenery and the peace and quiet.  I also hope to take at least one guest kayaking on the Galien, it was a great way for me to get to know my client better.
  I also went with an amazing group of women, they all go mountain climbing together.  They have done Kilimanjaro and are going to the Himalayas this fall!  They were all happy to have me with them too, which I was grateful for.
Then Johanna and I went strawberry picking!  Best strawberries ever! I'm planning on making muffins with the strawberries this week!   I had some great friends come visit me this weekend also.  It was great having guests here for me to show around and actually get out into the community with!  we also had a very relaxing weekend of hanging out on the porch, the beach and even going to the Round Barn winery to do some tasting!  That was a lot of fun and I will definitely do that with other guests as well!  That's all for now! This week should keep me busy, and I'm heading to the Tiger's game tomorrow, weather permitting....

<3 Suzy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I am here

Tonight I was introduced and reminded to why I am here, in Berrien county, Harbor country, saving the Galien watershed, or, as they refer to it here, the center of the world.  July 2nd is one of our workdays, meaning volunteers go out into the field and work on one of our properties, usually one we've just acquired.  Work means pulling and cutting invasives and cleaning up garbage or waste on the property.  Tonight me and three members of the stewardship committee ventured out into Robinson Woods, a property we acquired from The Nature Conservancy in order to find the invasive species and mark them so the volunteers can more easily locate them rather than wandering around the large property looking for them. We were on the beautiful wooded property for about two hours, only a quarter of which were we finding Barberry, privet, and multi flora rose.  (the invasives)  The rest of the time, we walked the trail through this gorgeous forest with some wetland areas until we hit the ravine with the tiny little creek at the bottom of the steep 40 foot drop.  This ravine was divine to look at, great forest area with lots of trees and shrubs.  Not many birds chirping back in the property or other wildlife for that matter.  I was excited to find out that the trail was one they are going to keep and also put in a parking lot near the border of the property so others could enjoy this gorgeous, peaceful plot of land.
Seeing that gorgeous property and knowing that Chikaming Open Lands, the Nature Conservancy and the previous owners all cherished its unique, rich landscape really reminded me of why I loved protecting the environment so much.  Without this land being preserved, the young oak trees may have been logged in the future, or cut down to cramp 6 cottages on the lot.  Instead we see that this property has more than a commercial value, but rather an aesthetic and I would even go as far to say a spiritual and universal value that can not be calculated at a market price.I was proud and honored to have this land, forest, creek, river etc. as my client for work, this is something I can go home every night  proud of myself for doing.
I realized how important that is for people, after talking to a friend who was not proud of the work he was doing.  His work wasn't immoral, but it is a ridiculous concept that they do not feel satisfied enough with what they have done all day.  I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be working for something that I am passionate about, that I do enjoy doing and learning about, and feel good doing it.  I realize that I am blessed to have this job opportunity, even if it is temporary, not only because the job market is kinda not good still but also because this unique corner of the state has a lot of charm.
Tomorrow I am Kayaking down my client (the Galien River) with a board member and a few other ladies that vacation in the area.  I'm sure I will have another spiritual and rejuvenating experience to write about after that.
Please "like" Chikaming Open Lands on facebook to learn more about the great things being done in the area!

<3 Suzy

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


As I am sure all of you have noticed, it has been a very buggy summer! Happy solstice, actually.  The bugs are darn awful this year!  I went to the beach today to enjoy the beautiful hot day after work, and the mosquitos were eating me alive!  Then I moved my towel from the deck to the beach sand and the flies and mosquitos ate me!!  How am I supposed to enjoy the beach when I'm being eaten alive??  I took a quick refreshing dip in Lake Michigan and walked back to my cabin, just before the rain started!  As I was on the phone with a friend, I FREAKED out at this HUGE spider on my porch.  I'm not talking Daddy long legs huge, i'm talking like tropical rainforest as big as my palm huge!  ICK!  I hate spiders but I can normally remove one from my space.  This one was bigger than any of the ones I saw down in Nicaragua and probably Costa Rica too!  I'm still breathing heavily with my bedroom door shut so I can't see it smugly sitting on front of my door on the porch, like it knows it gives me the chills when I see it.
As is always said though, this is part of living with nature.  I am, infact, intruding on their space.  Spiders were here long before I was, mosquitos like human blood and flies, well are just annoying.  As much as I wish I didn't have to do it, I know I'm going to be wearing DEET all summer every time I go to the beach and using more of it than I did in central america.  I wish there was a more healthy bug repellent though that didn't cause fertility problems.  The banana story is totally a myth... I tried it last week...
This leaves me to sitting in my bug filled and lined cottage for the rest of the evening, which is fine with me since it started raining and I enjoy the peace.
Other than the bugs, its great here!  Today I worked on drafting a management plan for our preserves based off of one from The Nature Conservancy!  pretty legit things I'm learning!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week two

I had a great weekend in Kalamazoo, got to spend some time with some good friends of mine and relax the work week off.  Now I'm thrown back into Monday, the real world and the other problems that come with it.  This week at work will be slow because Peg, my mentor, is giving lectures in Kansas City.  Today Johanna showed me what she could access on my facebook even though we are not friends.  This was good for me to see because my controls work, she couldn't see all my photos or my comments, only my profile pictures, my education and friends.
Anyway, the rainy forecast looks like it will delay my strawberry picking :(  But I have visitors this weekend so there is something to look forward to.
I'm soo close to finishing my knit wrap! I'm going to go do that now!  Hopefully someone's reading this, even one person! Sorry if it was more of a rant than a life update.  My goal is to be the tiniest bit insightful but its hard after working all day... as you probably know.
Also you should go listen to the Foo Fighters. Right now!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My desk is piling up...

Now that I've had a few days to learn about all the processes that need to happen before an easement takes place, I'm beginning to wonder if I can get my whole intern task list finished... especially with a capped 40 hours a week... but I'm confident that I can get some of these people to place an easement on their property to protect it from logging, mining and development!
 Other than that, with the rainy weather I haven't been very active, I couldnt' bike to work, or after work... or walk on the I've been sitting, knitting (I'm really trying to finish my shawl, I'm on the home stretch!) and eating!!
speaking of eating! Both the ladies I work with, who are both very nice, have chickens that they raise for eggs.  Today Peg brought me in a dozen of her organic free range eggs and didn't make me pay for them!! I'm so excited to eat them even though I just paid $4 for organic free range eggs at Barney's grocery store in New Buffalo.
Wish I had something more exciting to report on, but like i said before...there is no one here my age and I'm working a crap ton... the most exciting thing today was the 2 interviews for a new executive director, but I don't know anything about it because Johanna and I were kicked out of the office for 3 hours while they was kind of annoying... oh well, maybe we will finally have some full time leadership in office!
Plus this weekend I might have some more juicy 20 something news! I hope ;)


Monday, June 13, 2011

First Day on and off the job in Lakeside, MI!

Wow, today was crazy awesome!  I started my internship with Chikaming Open Lands today as their land protection intern to protect the Galien River watershed.  I luckily scored a very nice little cottage close to lake Michigan, on a lot where I have permission to access the lake.  This blog is about my adventures working for the land preservation non-profit and living in a several million dollars a house neighborhood on beautiful lake Michigan.
  Work was good, I was kind of thrown into my desk and told to read e-mails to kind of catch up on the active properties we are looking at for easements or are currently making into an easement.  For those of you who don't exactly know what an easement is, here is the definition according to the Headwaters Land Conservancy in north-west Michigan.
Conservation Easement:  a voluntary legal agreement that allows a landowner to permanently protect land and limit future development in order to protect the conservation values of the land, while retaining ownership and the ability to sell.
This is what I will be doing a lot of the summer, working with people and properties to get more easements intact in this corner of Michigan.
Anyways today I was outside half of the day and met a lot of the board.  We were looking at possible easement properties or preservation properties.  One lot we went to today, near the Three Oaks Republic landfill was very pretty but there was  a lot of garbage dumped there not from the landfill.  There was a full fiberglass motorboat there that looked like ti had been there for at least 10 years.  We also helped a painted turtle cross the road.
After work I went on a beautiful bike ride on Lakeshore Drive.  I know why all the Chicago people come here, on lake Michigan, the main drag is Lakeshore Drive, and a lot of the restaurants are just as expensive.  That bike ride was beautiful, cottage after cottage or beautifully constructed and designed summer houses with tennis courts or a gorgeous garden or a wrap around porch.  The cotton trees or whatever are seeding like mad so a few yards of gorgeous homes were covered in the cotton like a morning frost in the spring.
Then I went down to the Lake to watch the sunset....great choice by me!  Sunset was stunning with its reflection on the lake.  The water was warm so I could beach walk with my feet in the water, no better way to unwind after a 10 hour day!  I am so thankful for the big hearted VanNice's who are permitting me to use their cottage and their beachfront.
This summer is going to be great, I can tell, especially if all days are half as amazing as today.  Yes i found a spider in my pajama pants and was at a desk all morning, but the people here are passionate about the beauty of the land and water.  This passion makes working with them much more enjoyable.
As I have been saying, feel free to call me and book a weekend to come stay with me!  I'd love company on the beach or on a bike ride or to go to the local independent theatre!!
<3 Suz