Around Town

Around Town: Holland Street Performers Series

Guest Author: Ariel Knapp

Hi everyone! It’s Ariel, Caitlyn’s sister-in-law. I’m super excited to start guest posting here on Little Snail! So let’s get started. Last Thursday my husband and I went to the Holland Street Performers Series.





The buildings and trees that line the sidewalks make downtown Holland a really pretty place

During the summer months downtown Holland allows performers of all types to use the sidewalks of 8th Street as their stage and entertain the public. 8th Street is closed down for a couple of hours on Thursday evenings and people watch the performers and walk through the stores that line the street. Last Thursday was the 10th anniversary of the event and there were some promotions going on in conjunction with some of the businesses downtown.

unfortunately I did not get a party hat
unfortunately I did not get a party hat

One of the first performers we saw was my cousin Corey. He’s been doing caricatures for years and is a regular at the Holland Street Performers Series.

Farther down the sidewalk we saw a young magician. He was pretty good at keeping up a running patter of talk while doing his tricks.


There were a lot of musicians. They were all playing really well and it was fun listening to the different kinds of music on offer. We heard everything from folk music to Let it Go from the movie Frozen.


We didn’t go into many of the shops since we were enjoying the performers but we couldn’t pass up Peach Wave frozen yogurt.

mmm I can't say to no to frozen yogurt!
mmm I can’t say to no to frozen yogurt!

The Kahlua flavor I got wasn’t as good as the cheesecake flavor my husband got but it was still delicious (especially with all the toppings I put on it!).

Another store we went into was The Peanut Store where there is definitely more than just peanuts on offer. There’s a large selection of candy that includes brands from Europe and Asia, handmade chocolates and old fashioned candy our parents and grandparents would be familiar with.

what you see when you walk in the front door of The Peanut Store
what you see when you walk in the front door of The Peanut Store
you can buy candy like jelly bellies by the pound and half pound
you can buy candy like jelly bellies by the pound and half pound
I'd definitely be a happy hippo if I ate too much of this candy :)
I’d definitely be a happy hippo if I ate too much of this candy 🙂

As we were getting ready to leave we saw this woman on stilts in a butterfly costume and a hot air balloon high above the festivities.


We had a great time and I would like to go back later in the summer to see if there’s any new performers. If you’re in the Holland area on Thursday evenings looking for something to do I suggest checking out the Holland Street Performers Series.

Around Town · Food & Cooking · Monday Matters · Tried

Crane’s in the City

On Friday, Chad and I went out for lunch and for a nice long ride in the sunshine. We decided to try a restaurant that was new to us: Crane’s in the City in Holland.


The cute little restaurant is right downtown in Holland, and happened have outdoor seating available that day because there was a huge sidewalk sale going on over the weekend. We walked inside to order, and then sat outside to enjoy our meal.20130812-172651.jpgCrane’s in the City has a lot to offer its hungry customers, with apples playing a role in everything from desserts and drinks, to salads and sandwiches. It didn’t take us long to order despite all the appealing choices; we decided to split a Peach Fuzz drink and an Apple Cider donut, and then to each try a City Cristo sandwich set.

20130812-172707.jpgWe got our Peach Fuzz (a mix of peach juice, chai and apple cider) and donut straight away to nibble on while we waited for our sandwiches. I loved the wire chairs with heart-shaped backs, the wooden tables, and the mason jar-esk mug for our beverage.

20130812-172723.jpgThe restaurant had quite a few patrons coming in and out, but in only minutes we were brought our delicious meal. I had never heard of a Cristo sandwich before, but cannot tell you how glad I am to know what one is now! As the menu on their website describes it, a City Cristo at Crane’s in the City consists of “Turkey, provolone cheese, apple slices, and honey mustard dressing, grilled on Crane’s famous apple butter bread, sprinkled with powdered sugar.” I thought we’d be taking a little bit of a chance Crane’s in the City, especially with a sandwich featuring apples as much as the Cristo, but the gamble was well worth it. The apple slices were tender without being soggy, and the honey mustard dressing was sweet without being overwhelming. Each ingredient on the sandwich plays off of the others, creating a lovely balance of flavors. I was so impressed!


Crane’s in the City also has a display full of all jams and apple butters to choose from, along with frozen baked goods available to purchase and bring home! Crane’s in the City is located on E 8th St  Holland, MI 49423. I highly recommend checking it out!

Food & Cooking · Learning · Projects · Tried

Updates and Foodspiration

Today was a beautiful, warm and sunny day, so I tried to spend as much of it as I could outdoors. However, now that the sun has set I thought I’d update you on some of the things I had said I was looking forward to in March. First of all, I wrote about a planned trip to Tokyo, which is definitely still going to happen before we leave Japan, but might not happen in March anymore. We’ve found catching up with dental care, work and other random errands has been taking up a lot of time, and we kind of just want to hang out and save money. But we’ll see if we go stir-crazy next week and change our minds.

Next, I mentioned a trip to Mie, which you might have seen a few pictures of here. You also might have read about the third thing on my list, a trip to the Glico factory to see how pocky is made, here. And then I wrote about anticipating cherry blossom season and picnicking. Cherry blossoms are already starting to bloom in some parts of Japan–a bit early in the season, actually. There aren’t too many blooming around here yet, but that didn’t stop us from taking advantage of the gorgeous day–we had a picnic this afternoon (followed by lazing around in the sun for about an hour).

And then there was this last cluster of things on my list:

Coursera Classes– Still enjoying the Know Thyself course, though the wording on the quizzes often makes them difficult to answer correctly.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain– I’ve been practicing the exercises and reading through on and off for the last two weeks. Today’s task was to do an upside down drawing, and I about lost my mind. It was so tough for me that I actually started growling out loud to myself! Luckily I was home alone so no one could judge me and my impatience and frustration. I guess such feelings are a normal part of shutting off the more verbal part of your brain and just seeing things, but it sure is a difficult process! I am determined not to give up, so I’m not going to push myself too much at a time.

Fitness & Relaxing– Last week I started doing the 30 Day Shred again. Since sickness and stress had led to nearly two months off, I decided to take it easy and start up again with Level 1, though I was pleased today to already be doing Level 2 without too much difficulty. (Okay, I’ll be honest. I about died doing the plank jacks!). I’ve also been walking 30 minutes to an hour every day, incorporating a little yoga into my days, and occasionally doing fitness online. I found this website today that has 100 Zumba workouts online for free! I think I’ll be trying that later. Having fitness as part of my daily routine has naturally led me to feeling more relaxed, but so has having more time for taking coursera classes, doing art journaling, trying to learn new skills (like drawing), reading, writing and just hanging out with my awesome husband.

When we were lying in the sun after our lunch this afternoon, I thought about how much I love eating outside, and how much I loved all the outdoor seating at restaurants in Europe. When we were in Amsterdam, we fell in love with a restaurant called Bagels and Beans, and ate there every day of our visit in their outdoor seating!


Chad at Bagels and Beans in Amsterdam last March


The view from the outdoor seating of Bagels and Beans


Mmm, cappuccinos!

I loved all of the bagel options so much that I actually took a picture of their menu while I was there so I could try and recreate them in the future. Imagine my disappointment when I looked for the pictures for this post, and they were missing! On the bright side, I do have pictures of some of the bagels we tried, and –luckily for both of us– they have an English menu online!


Warm: Toasted Ham, Mild Jersey Cheese and Tomatoes


Smoked Chicken, Avocado, Basil Dressing, Pine Nuts & Lettuce


Warm: Goat Cheese, Bacon and Pine Nuts


Warm: Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Honey and Thyme

Is your mouth watering yet? We’ve made the last two combinations pictured quite a few times over the last year, though unless you have a connection to someone with a Costco membership it’s often difficult to get bagels in Japan (two more months until I can buy all the bagels I desire! muah ha ha!). To make up for our occassional lack of bagels, we sometimes get creative (I’ve mentioned the need to adapt recipes before!).

Here I just used yummy looking bread from the bakery instead of a bagel, Camembert cheese instead of goat cheese, and sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. (I split the cheese between two sandwiches.) In case you are wondering, it was FANTASTIC. I’m drooling just looking at the picture and remembering.

Do you like eating outside, and if so, do you have a favorite restaurant with outdoor seating? Have you been inspired by any menus recently? I hope you’ve found a few things you’d like to try from this post 🙂

Friday Five · Seen/Heard/Tried

Ten New Foods I Tried this Year

We were fortunate enough to travel a lot within the last year: We went to France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Michigan, the Philippines, and Thailand. Whew! I know we will probably never be able to travel like that again, and I am so thankful we had that opportunity. Lately I’ve been dreaming about going back to Europe especially. I was making spaghetti the other day and dreaming about our picnic in Villa Borghese, Italy, and remembering going to the same amazing restaurant 3 nights in a row to try different pastas and pizzas… And this morning I was enchanted with this blog post showing a gorgeous apartment in France. I immediately wanted to return to Paris and enjoy croissants, crêpes and macaroons–and of course the amazing architecture and museums and history! (And can I please have that exact style in a house in Michigan!?) We learned so much through our travels, and tried many new things.

As you may have guessed, one of my favorite things about traveling is trying the food (I think I mentioned that before). Don’t get me wrong, the history and architecture are huge for me too, but food is so revealing of a culture. Here are ten (out of many more!) new foods I tried this year:

1. Pistachio Gelato (Rome)


2. Savory Empanadas (Barcelona)


3. Tortellini Stir Fry (Amsterdam)


This was an amazing Italian-Asian fusion, and I have yet to find a recipe like it. Please let me know if you have one!!

4. Dutch Apple Pie


Of course I had tried apple pie before, but not this apple pie. It was recommended to me by a Holland native, who just so happens to have a recipe on her lovely blog. The crust brings back a feeling of Windmill cookies from Michigan, paired with a thick apple-raisin filling. So. Good.

5. Halohalo (pronounced with a soft “a” sound, Manila)


Can you see the sweet red beans and the sweet potato ice cream?

6. Crickets (Koh Samui, Thailand)


Chad was more adventurous than me, and tried one of every kind of insect available.

7. Marshmellow “Tacos” with coconut shavings (Koh Samui)


We had the pleasure of trying many kinds of amazing street food in Thailand, and this was one of them!

8. Durian, the King of Fruit (Bangkok)


We didn’t have a chance to try Durian our first time in Thailand, so we had to try it the last time we went! The smell is so strong, and the texture feels like biting into the skin of an orange, but with the taste of old pineapple with a cheesy texture. It’s kind of hard to explain, but what I can say is I’m not missing it!

9. Fugu, or Blowfish (Ise, Japan)


We tried many different styles and were pleased to survive each bite! I thought it was pretty good, but Chad said it was his new favorite fish!

10. Blueberry Daifuku (Kobe, Japan)


I love the traditional ichigo daifuku, so I was excited to try this blueberry version. It is sweet blueberry-flavored mochi, or rice cake, with sweet bean paste flavored with blueberry and a strawberry in the middle. The juicy strawberry provides a bright contrast from the thicker mochi.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for my taste buds next! The biggest challenge will be recreating some of the foods I loved. Here is a recipe for some other street food we tried in Thailand called Pakora:

Crispy Vegetable Pakora

And here’s another recipe we tried and liked for Falafels (reminding us of Amsterdam):

Spicy Falafels

Also, here’s a link to a really interesting podcast episode of “The Splendid Table” in which British gastronaut Stephen Gates is interviewed about trying insects in Cambodia and Thailand, and about letting go of food preconceptions/the notion of disgust.

Will eating bugs solve the world’s food problems?

What have you tried recently, or what would you like to try?

This post was supposed to be a bonus edition of Friday Five, but I am posting it today because we went out for amazing ramen and then watched Elementary last night. These things happen.