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What I Learned This Week – 8/25/13

On Sunday, my family and I went to the Day Out with Thomas event at the Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint, Michigan. This is our second year. It was kind of nice to know what to expect.

I wanted to look at all the Thomas stuff they had set up for the kids. My husband wanted to look at all the historical stuff at Crossroads Village that is always there, because he is into that sort of thing. My son just seemed pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. He mostly just wanted to play with the toys that were set up. So much so, that he threw a glorious fit when we removed him from the gift shop toy table. He was not the only child throwing a fit when they were forced to leave that area. But, as i don’t have good behavior to brag about, I will boast that his fit was the loudest and most impressive.

My husband spent a lot of time walking around hand in hand with my son. I spent a lot of time pushing the stroller and taking pictures with the camera. Not quite the cozy family outing I had hoped for (In my head, I am holding hands with my husband, as we both push the stroller with my quiet, well-behaved child in it *sigh*), but we all said we had fun at the end of the day. I think my husband wouldn’t have taken a stroller at all. But it was worth it, because the Thomas-themed bag I took weight a ton, mostly from the full water bottles in the bottom. (Why pay $1.50 at the Village, when you can buy them for $.89 at the Speedway gas station on the way!) I consider an outing a success if we make it home with all the stuff we left with.  And we did.

The BEST part of the day was when we rode on the double-decker paddle boat on the lake at the end of the day. We just caught the last boat as it was about to leave. I got to sit! There was shade! There was cool breeze! There was fresh sea lake air!



Of course, some of the children on the boat were melting down too. I fortified my son with some crackers and cookies and we were good til he got in his car seat and passed out as we got on the expressway to head home.

Because most of you probably don’t give a flying fig about Thomas, I will post here my arty-fartsy pics from that day.

If you want to see Thomas, pop over to my Facebook page and I will post a couple over there.

If any of you reading this happen to have a little engineer at home and want to make them a Thomas cake for their birthday, you can click here for my own experience. (Go on, check it out. It is lopsided, but still kinda cute!)

A building at Crossroads Village

A building at Crossroads Village

Cider press

Cider press

A quiet train ride moment, frozen in time

A quiet train ride moment, frozen in time

Barns from the boat

Barns from the boat

Dam from the boat, with birds

Dam from the boat, with birds

Boat from the boat

Boat from the boat

Love my new camera, but sometimes the pictures it takes are very devoid of color. Maybe that is a problem that happens with the zoom. Anyone with any photographic advice on how to get more colorful pictures, I would love to hear it. I just have a little Panasonic DMC-SZ3.

And if your advice is “Buy a better camera”, I will delete your comment. Oh yes, I have that power…

Wedding Jeans

The gazebo in the park we got married at

As a general rule, I do not wear dresses. Or skirts, for that matter. I don’t wear them on a normal day, to work, or to job interviews. The one exception I make is to wear them to weddings. Other people’s weddings. Not my own. Intrigued? Read on…(And no, I did not get married in the nude!)

My then-boyfriend and I had talked about marriage, but he wasn’t ready to propose to me yet. At twenty-four, he still felt he was too young to get married. But I was still thinking about my wedding, anyway. I was not one of those girls who day dreamed about her wedding for years and what white poofy dress she would wear. Nope. I think about high school age I decided my dream wedding would be to get married in Las Vegas by Elvis. I am still waiting for that wedding. *sigh*

So although my boyfriend hadn’t proposed to me, I was still wondering what I would wear to my own wedding. I knew a big white dress was out. I must have thought “If only I could just wear jeans”. And that is how the “wedding jeans” were born.


Do you remember how I like unusual sewing projects, such as the pharmacy giraffe, Christmas stockings, and the Werecart? Well, you can add wedding jeans to that list too. I bought all the white patches I could find. Most featured flowers or hearts. I put them on the legs and back pockets of the jeans. Then I bought thin white ribbon and iridescent seed beads. I sewed the ribbon along the tops of the pockets, and down the side seams of both legs. Then I sewed the seed beads on top of the ribbon. By hand. Sewing through a denim seam is no picnic. I bent several needles in the process.

Now, when I started this project, I kept saying I wasn’t really going to wear the jeans for my wedding. But once my future husband saw them being made and how cool they were, he told me I had to wear them. That he would make me. It is a good thing I started them like 6 months before he proposed, because I think I worked on them for a year. I had them ready a few months before we were married. My jeans were a little too big. Which was unfortunate, because I couldn’t try to wash and shrink them now, as it would have ruined the decorations. So I made a white and yellow ribbon braided belt for them. Sort of dorky, but it did the job.

Now, the hard part was finding a shirt to wear with it. I pictured something white and billowy, sort of like a pirate would wear. Not my usual style, but it was for my wedding day. I bought three different white shirts and I was unhappy with all of them. I ended up wearing just a plain white T-shirt. (I am still looking for the perfect shirt to this day. And if I found it I just might buy it.) On my feet I wore my favorite sandals–pretty basic, brown leather. In my hair, I had baby’s breath put into a half a French braid. The bottom of my hair was curled and hung free.

Ta-Da! The Wedding Jeans. (Front View)

On our invitations, we put “Casual Attire Suggested”. We had our wedding and reception outdoors in August, so it was a little warm. It was a sunny day, no rain. My husband wore a gray shirt and black pants. My bridesmaid wore a denim skirt. We got married in a city part that was just a block from our apartment. (We walked to our own wedding.) We had our reception in my mother-in-law’s backyard, with hamburgers and hot dogs. I didn’t have to worry about changing my clothes or “bustling” anything. I didn’t have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions (although I am sure that I probably worried anyway). In our wedding pictures, my husband and I have genuine toothy smiles, not the kind we usually give for pictures where we keep our mouths closed to hide our crooked teeth. All out smiles.

Wedding Jeans (Rear View)…Hey, quit staring at my ass!

My advice to anyone is to have your wedding your way. And ask for lots of help. I tried to do too much on my own. No one ever said a word about my wedding jeans. Which means either everyone liked them or knew how to be polite. What happened to Vegas, you ask? Well, we didn’t have our wedding there because my husband wanted his family to be able to come and they could not have all made it to Vegas. So my plan was that we would go to Vegas to get our vows renewed for our 5 year anniversary. Didn’t happen. But we should definitely go do it for our ten year anniversary–8/23/2013.


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McDonald’s New Exterior, Interior Design

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Old South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, MI

Have you seen the new McDonald’s interior and exterior design? You must have. (By the time things come to Lenawee County, they have already been through all the major cities and most medium and small ones.) I hate it.

Old South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, MI, shortly before destruction

I like the old exterior design, with the slanted roof and parallel lights. It sort of looked like an overgrown shack. You saw the building, and you instantly knew what restaurant it was and what kind of processed, sodium-infused goodness lay inside waiting for you. It seemed like they usually featured the colors red and yellow. Signature colors. Ketchup and mustard.

New South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, front (or back)

The new design sucks balls. (Is that a valid argument?) It is just like a beige box, with some yellow accents on it. My husband said, “You know what they are trying to do, don’t you? They are trying to make-it look like a sit-down restaurant.” And I believe he is absolutely correct. (More on my thoughts on the interior in a minute.) Except for one small detail:

There are now two drive-thrus.

But wait, you might be picturing the Rally’s double drive-thru in your head. Where there is an ordering speaker, menu board, and payment/pick-up window on both sides of the building. OH NO. McDonald’s had to half-ass it. There are two ordering speakers and two menu boards side by side. THAT MERGE INTO ONE LANE for the payment/pick-up windows!

Problem #1: In at least one location that I know of, the outer menu board blocks your view of the inner lane. You can’t tell there is a car in the inner lane until you move forward and hit it.

Problem #2: In at least one location that I know of, the outer menu board is set up so that you cannot see it from the speaker while ordering (a different location than Problem #1, but same city and franchise owner).

Problem #3: Where the two lanes merge it is like a construction zone traffic jam on the freeway. Except everyone is hungry. It has the potential to be road rage. Or hunger rage. Or drive-thru rage.

New McDonald’s lighting, North Main McDonald’s in Adrian

Enough about the drive-thru. Let’s move inside, shall we? The previous design was functional for families with litters of kids, old people drinking coffee while reading the paper, and for high schoolers to lazily half-ass clean. It was colorful and bright.

New seating in North Main McDonald’s in Adrian–both the booths in the back and bar to the right are pub-style high seating

The new interior is heinous. It is what I picture Starbucks to look like, although I have never actually been in one (I don’t drink coffee, remember?). One version I have seen had fancy light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Another had partitions between the seats with wheat inside the glass–>wheat! The new thing seems to be darker wood and dimmer lighting. And having some tables pub-style, meaning higher than a typical table. Not safe for short young children or unsteady old people with hot liquid.

New partition between booths at North Main McDonald’s in Adrian (I guess it isn’t really wheat, but I still don’t like it!)

If I concentrate on one location, I can give more specific details. We will use the South Main McDonald’s in Adrian, Michigan. This location was probably a little unique because not only did the building get the new design, the old building was torn down completely and it moved down the street, past Bob Evans and the vacant Long John Silver’s. The new South Main location sits right on the corner of US223 and M52. Prime real estate. I believe the franchise owner wanted to make this move for years. Too bad the building looks like it was build the wrong way around.

Double drive-thru view of South Main McDonald’s in Adrian from corner of US223 and M52

I believe the South Main McDonald’s was built backwards. Sitting at the corner, waiting for the unbearably long traffic light, you should be looking at the front of the restaurant and thinking, “How fast and filling the food would be. Immediate gratification.” You shouldn’t be sitting at the traffic light thinking, “That food would be fast and filling, but the drive-thru is way too busy.” Which is what anyone who has driven past it has said. Oh! And having the drive-thru speakers aimed at one of the busiest intersections in the county makes it hard to hear and hard to be heard.

The old South Main had oodles of seating. So much so, that they blocked off part of it and made a separate room for kids’ birthday parties. The new location has less seating, even though it is now in a more prominent location (and I believe is busier). Much of the possible seating space is gobbled up by the children’s Play Place. Isn’t buying your kid a Happy Meal and then sitting in the play area just throwing your money away? Either your kid will play and not eat or whine that you won’t let them play and not eat.

Since I am on the topic of McDonald’s and I hold grudges, I will take this opportunity to express my dissatisfaction that they no longer carry the flaky, crispy apple pies I used to love. I think they have been gone about 20 years now. Replace by those “baked” jokes for a pie they have now. (If you want a reasonable facsimile of the old pies, go to Taco Bell and order a caramel apple empanada. Yum.) I also greatly miss McDonaldland Cookies (shaped like McDonaldland characters) and Chocolatey-Chip Cookies (mini and crispy). And I miss that the Dundee, Michigan McDonald’s used to have an outdoor McDonaldland playground. Each piece of equipment was a McDonald’s character. I remember a Grimace shaped metal bouncy thing and Mayor McCheese monkey bars. There were more I can’t remember. I am sure that wasn’t the only one in the world. It has been replaced by an indoor playland:(

Dear McDonald’s,

You can make the inside of your restaurant look all hoity-toity if you want to, but you are still going to have a grandma in there begging her granddaughter to eat a French fry. It is the natural order of things. It is the American way.

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