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I Had a “Mara”velous Time!

Posted Apr 11 2009 11:40pm

Happy Saturday! I am currently awaiting the arrival of a certain Bobby so that we can watch some Lost :) But I couldn’t wait a moment longer to tell you about the amazing time I had with Mara yesterday! You can check out her recap of events here: 867-5309 (haha, love the post title).

We started our day around noon. Check out the super sweet Easter basket Mara brought me! It was filled with Peeps (!!), Cadbury mini eggs and Reese’s PB eggs. Holy yum!

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Mara was nice enough to drive us around. Our first stop: The Fresh Market. This was my first time visiting and I have to say, it really rivals my beloved Whole Foods! We had an awesome time browsing the store and picking out a few goodies along the way to take home! The best part was the freshly ground nut butters - peanut butter was on sale 20% off $2.99/lb. - sweet!

Here’s the damage:

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In the back row we have the famous Spring Blend coffee, which is just as amazing as Kath says it is - seriously. I couldn’t stop drinking it today!

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Also in the back row, there is coconut oil (for my next nut butter experiment!), unsweetened coconut (which I had yet to find anywhere), a garnet yam (which Mara swears by!), whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi (!!), maple sugar (more on that later), a creamy soda (also recommended by Mara), and freshly ground peanut butter. In the front row, there are freeze-dried fruit packets surrounded by a Japanese rice cake and dried strawberries (more on those later, too!) :) It was quite the trip!

After we left the wonderful market, we headed over to a favorite sushi restaurant of Mara’s called Akai Hana. It was truly fantastic. I started out with some miso soup.

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And then had 3 different kinds of California rolls: one normal, one inside out, and one spicy! Yum!

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We had some great conversation, and then headed over to the Asian market next door, where I picked up the Japanese rice cake and dried strawberries pictured at the beginning of the post. We also picked up a snack to share called Pocky, which I had never heard of but it’s wonderful! It’s basically a stick cookie dipped in chocolate - what could be wrong about that?

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Once we were back in the car, Mara turned into the ULTIMATE tour guide and showed me a part of the North Shore of Chicago that I don’t often see - GIGANTIC houses :) They were absolutely beautiful, and we also made a couple of stops at some of the beaches Mara frequented when she was growing up. We took some scenic pictures, as well as some goofy ones - it was SO windy!

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The wind whipped our hair everywhere, hence the closed eyes. Should have worn the shades:cool:

Once the tour was over, Mara drove us back to an awesome street closer to campus that I had never truly explored. We visited another small unique grocery store, a bakery, and Great Harvest (I didn’t even realize this was near my campus - I am totally going back). I sampled some delicious cheesy bread (for the “cheesiest” of pictures, however, you’ll have to look at Mara’s post ).

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We also wandered into an awesome coffee shop called Linz and Vail. It was there that we saw this:

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Helloooo, gelato! We ended up getting some samples - I tried the strawberry and the cupcake. Both were outstanding, as is to be expected! But instead of going the cool route, we both got ourselves a steaming hot mocha. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it is in the top three best mochas I’ve ever had. Superb.

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Our final leg of the foodie journey was a small flower shop and, most “scent”sational of all, a spice store called The Spice House. Upon walking into this store, my nose was on sensory overload. I could not get over how many spices there were!

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Um, yeah, that’s probably 1/2 of one wall of the four wall store! After spending quite some time wandering and testing out a few spices (I now know the differences among cinnamon!), I decided to take home a jar of Maple Sugar.

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You know that I included it in my morning bowl of whipped banana oatmeal!

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I sprinkled the sugar over the top of the oats, and also added a spoonful of fresh peanut butter.

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As hokey as my humor is, I truly did have a MARVELOUS time with you, Mara! I feel lucky to live near such a big city because it’s given me the chance to connect with such awesome bloggers! I can’t wait to see what the next foodie adventure brings ;) Now we just need a foodie conference, right??

Whew! This post was jam-packed …just like our day! I hope you all are enjoying your weekends! And for those celebrating Easter or Passover or the fact that it’s Saturday …have fun!

Night,

bendersignature1

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