The August List – 2018

Detroit Sky

Whyyyyy!?!?! Why is summer over, why am I a week behind in writing this post, why am I so tired already after just one day back at work!

1)  That photo above was taken on my way to dinner at a friend’s house in Detroit. The sky was amazing and even though the neighborhood I was driving through was questionable, I had to stop. So I only got halfway out of the car, but still. There were so many other great shots I could have taken, each block seemed to get better and better.

Note: It is 9:50pm at night and I am hearing noises above me, which means that probably my littlest is having trouble sleeping (which makes her soooo upset), but I am choosing to ignore said noises. For now.

2)  August was a perfect summer month with lots of hot weather, swimming and flowers. Dahlias are in full force at Detroit Abloom, and though I do not get to work with them nearly as much as in past years, I at least get to see the flowers every week in my CSA bouquet.

Dahlia

3) My favorite variety is Cafe au Lait, which is so creamy and fluffy. Sometimes you get more buttery-colored blooms and other times they bloom with a hint of pink, you just never know. The tubers I planted this year are giving me both and it is so lovely. The top pic is one that was over-the-top exquisitely wonderful.

4) The Garden Detroit’s garden is very small this year, as we had to relocate from our large space. However, we still had lots of tomatoes, enough to sell several times at the Farmer’s Market. I roasted several trays, made gazpacho and ate them raw.

5) We also had some broccoli. I think this photo was actually taken in July (I try to only post photos that were taken in the month I’m writing about. OH WELL).

Photo By Metro Times

6)  I got to cross another noodle place off my list finally. Urban Ramen in downtown Detroit. I went with a couple new mom friends and one work friend, a shared interest being our love of Asian food. The place is small and it was already crowded, but we were seated quickly (at the high table) and our food came pretty quickly as well.

I was way too excited to eat the noodles, so I failed to get a photo of them, but they were delicious. This photo is of the tuna on a rice cake I believe and it looks somewhat unappetizing, but it was REALLY good. I am dying to go back. I think my kids would like it, too.

7)  We packed up the car and piled the whole family into my trusty CRV for another trip to upstate New York, where we stayed with my Dad and his wife in their cabin in the woods. Except for the mouse situation (OMG you guys) which we got under control the day we left (which translates to I had restless sleep the whole time), all went well.

It was a shorter than usual trip, as we had an event we had to get back home for, but we did get to spend some time with cousins and aunts, which fulfills me so much.

8)  One such family member was Aunt Betty, who is 94. She is amazing and I was lucky to snap this photo of her just before she got up from the couch. No matter how short my visit, I will always make time to see her. She spent many a summer housing me and my sister, cooking and cleaning for us and keeping us company.

9)  My friend Erin said the photo made her think of Gregory Crewdson (who I’d never heard of and had to look up) and that I should watch his documentary, which I borrowed from the library and loved.

The cover photo for the film isn’t my favorite and to me, doesn’t portray the body (hehe) of his work accurately. It seems morbid whereas I think his work definitely feels deeply melancholy, but not morbid. So I give you the cover photo of the film AND another shot that I like better.

10)  But back to New York. While we were there my Dad called up his half-brother (who he had never spoken to or met before!) and invited him and his wife to come over and they did. That same day. So that.

I’ll save the details for another post, but I WILL present to you my real grandfather (not one of my grandmother’s three husbands, all of whom she outlived by the way), Mark Sears, with a Guernsey cow. The plot thickens!

11)  I read two books this month. Bad Blood, a true story of the rise and fall of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup, and its creator. Fascinating. And also The Assistants, which is kind of an empty read, but it was entertaining and cute enough for summer evenings when I wasn’t up for using too much brainpower.

Photo By DIA Founders Junior Council

12)  Two nights after we got back from New York, we attended Fash Bash 2018, a fundraiser fashion show held by the DIA (museum) and Neiman Marcus. My girlfriend oversees the fashion show part and another girlfriend was co-chairing this year and my husband’s nephew was walking the show, so we so we made sure to purchase tickets this year.

As a teenager, I used to wake up early on Saturdays (or was it Sundays? Also I lived in Hawaii at the time, so I’m thinking the show was actually on much later on the mainland) to catch Elsa Kensch’s Style show on CNN. She would showcase fashion shows and designers and I found it all so fascinating. Perhaps I should have followed my passion and gone into some sort of design field, but honestly, I don’t think I quite had the eye for it. (Although, fashion is subjective, no?)

But I digress. Watching a live fashion show was inspiring. I mean, watching beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes in a stunning environment…what’s not to love? (well, my husband could tell you, but let’s not ask him). And the people-watching was also as entertaining as the show.

That’s a wrap. Happy September! See you at the end of the month with another List.

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The July List – 2018

I love July so much. Summer is going full force and there is still a lot of it left. Friends have you over for impromptu al fresco dinners (above), pool days turn into pool nights, kids stay up late and wake up late.

1) We celebrated the July 4th holiday with our annual barbecue at Uncle Jim’s house (I actually got in, or semi got into the pool, which happens maybe once a year, if that. Is it 90 degrees? Then no, I’m not in the pool) and by watching the Grosse Pointe Farms fireworks show with friends atop the Grosse Pointe Academy lawn.

2) I finally made it to the John K King used bookstore in downtown Detroit, a place I’d been wanting to go to since we first moved here. Plan to spend at least an hour browsing the shelves filled with over a million books, less time if you have kids in tow, which we did.

They have a huge collection of rare books, but they sadly did not have a copy of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, a sci-fi title that my husband and I both read as kids and have been curious to see if it’s really as good as we remember. Yes, the book is available online, but with a new, dumb cover illustration so I refuse to buy it.

3) I did pick up three books, one of which I’d been wanting – Kate Atkinson’s “When Will There Be Good News?” since I read her first two detective stories a couple years ago. She’s also the author of “Life After Life” which is a giant of a book, but goes quickly and is a must-read. I just finished “When Will There Be Good News?” last night and really enjoyed reading it. I’ve thought about it a lot since I put it down, which is always a sign of a good book. Or good anything.

4) We stopped at Lafayette Coney Island before the bookstore trip, as it was on our way and the Mister (who doesn’t like this photo because “no one puts ketchup on a coney dog” insert eye roll emoji) was hungry. He got coney dogs (obviously) and fries, and I shared an order of fries with the girls. The restaurant is right next door to American Coney Island, and Detroiters are very passionate about which restaurant they think is superior.

5)  My sister’s family of four came to visit us this month. We mostly wanted to just hang out since we usually only see each other once a year, but of course we had to do some touristy things, as they’d only been here one other time in the dead of winter.

We randomly stopped at Shake Shack for lunch and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Service was fast and friendly and food was yummy and fresh. Really great for a fast food joint and I’d definitely go there again.

6) The beach area at Campus Martius was fantastic. There was music playing (DJ), foosball, a huge Jenga set, and lots of people-watching.

7) We also went to the Riverwalk, which the kids love. As we were heading back to the parking lot, we watch a group of girls take photos for a quinceanera celebration.

8) On what was possibly the hottest day of the year, we went to Belle Isle and stopped at the aquarium and conservatory (extra hot and humid, we were all dying). We had plans to go to the beach, but when we drove by there were so many people and we didn’t want to deal with the crowds or the parking.

So we decided to try the slide, which turned out to be highly entertaining, especially for me, as I was not participating, and got to watch as my brother-in-law got going a little too fast and caught air on the bumps. Hehe.

9) Why did it hail in the middle of July!? All of a sudden the clear sky turned gray and a deluge of rain came down, followed by a minute of hail. No locusts, though.

10) Have you been to Otus Supply in Ferndale? My book group gals and I Ubered there in lieu of our usually meeting and tried just about everything on the menu. All of the food was quite good, right down to the sourdoughnuts, but my margarita was too sweet. From what our server told us, they also have a great live music scene on certain days of the month.

11) We were invited by friends to a rental cottage in Lexington, Michigan, for a weekend. The drive is about one and a half hours – quick compared to the majority of getaway spots, which are 3 to 5 hours away. It was a cute little town with a handful of restaurants and shops and lots of summer cottages.

On our first night, we walked through town to the park, where a bluegrass band was playing. We dipped our feet into Lake Huron and skipped stones.

The rest of the weekend was cold, humid and rainy – not ideal – but we made the most of all the breaks in the rain by going for walks (me), or to the beach (them) which you got to by going down a steep flight of stairs, or sitting by the fire (all of us). I walked by so many wild sweetpeas, which I’d only ever seen growing on a farm, so that was exciting for me.

12) A little baby bluejay hung out in our lilac tree for three days. He was the cutest, fluffiest thing and I worried that the blackbirds were going to scare him, or that he’d fall and some creature or cat would find him, but since I didn’t see him after the third day, I’m going to assume he flew away and is somewhere in the trees, happily enjoying summer.

We’re off for what is becoming an annual trip to upstate New York, one of my most favorite places on earth. San Francisco, yes. Florence, absolutely. There are many other beautiful and exotic places, but there is something about dairy country that I can’t shake. Follow along on Instagram, or get filled in on next month’s list. Happy August!

The June List – 2018

Photo by @willarosefloral

I don’t know if it’s the state of the nation or lack of sleep or being home with the kids 24/7 or all of the above, but I woke up in the middle of the night last night with what I think (hope) was a panic or anxiety attack.

Needless to say, after finally falling back asleep (after two hours of freaking out) and waking up early the next day, I told myself I was going to take deep(er) breaths and take more time for me. Which I did this morning at Detroit Abloom, helping them harvest flowers for the CSA bouquet program. It was crazy humid and already hot at 8:30am, but I didn’t mind so much and we finished quickly.

On with the list. June was summery hot, filled with quintessential summertime activities.

1) One of which is afternoons at the pool. We belong to the Yacht Club, so we tend to go there vs. the local/city pool. One day, I was enjoying semi-reading (littlest can’t 100% swim) a book in the shade, and a lady pulled up a chair literally inches in front of me (I moved out of my chair behind the gentleman to take the photo). Ridiculous.

Because I’m non-confrontational to a fault, I stayed where I was (even more ridiculous). Yes, I need to work on that. But I probably won’t.

2) My home garden is looking pretty good. Dahlias popped up this month (they take sooooo long to surface), which was exciting. The bunnies (I’m guessing) snacked on several of them, but even those are now coming back and looking pretty good. I made a rough map/key to show me which variety I planted where, but after a while I got lazy, so we’ll just have to see.

The David Austin roses Julia and I planted in May are finally starting to show life. One plant is completely dead (Squirrels! They dig up everything!), and one I thought was dead and was about to pull it up when I spotted some dark green leaves. I don’t know if I’ll get any flowers this year, I don’t know how roses work and I haven’t taken the time to look it up. My goal this season is simply to keep them alive.

4) A young robin followed me around the garden for several days. He would stay close when I was planting or weeding, hopping away if I moved significantly, but then coming right back. I am reading The Secret Garden with our oldest at night and this guy reminded me of the robin in that book. Maybe they are one of the more friendly wild birds? Or more unafraid perhaps. Or. This one is just a little special, per the husband, who said it also followed him around while he was using the hedge trimmer.

5) Three years after planting our serviceberry tree that my mom gifted to us for our anniversary, we had berries! It was such a nice surprise. They were oh so tiny, but packed a big punch and were very sweet.

6)  Speaking of berries, we had mulberries at the Garden. I was lucky to be there one day during their peak and Michael had already harvested a bunch. Wild berries are the absolute best.

6) I did my summer Costco run, so I’m all set. For a hot minute. #smoothieseveryday

7) My husband and I were invited to a tennis tournament (aka party where you play tennis). I have never played and he was rusty, but we showed up as requested in our tennis whites and ended up having a blast. I actually hit the ball a couple times. Woo-hoo!

There was food from the Imperial Taco Truck and drinks (I brought strawberry-jalapeno margaritas) and an ice luge (of which I did not partake) and a DJ. The party was still going strong when we left around 10:00pm.

8) We were also invited to a Sam Smith concert at the new Little Caesar’s arena, which neither of us had been to. I have avoided concert invitations lately (crowds = anxiety, also see beginning of post), but the tickets were for our friends’ private suite. THAT I can do. And I actually loved the concert. He had a fantastic voice and equally fantastic back-up singers, so I was happy.

9) I went to Gray Ghost Detroit restaurant for the first time, to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. Food wasn’t overly delicious, but I enjoyed it. Drinks were great and the ambiance was nice. For a Monday night it was very lively.

10) I cooked lobster tails for the first time. I know, they are so easy, but I’ve always been intimidated by them for some reason. Threw them on the grill, made some herb butter and enjoyed.

11) A lot of firsts this month….. another was pasta from a friend of a friend’s company, Detroit Pasta Co. He makes and delivers homemade pasta and sauce. I tried the pasta only – he brought fettucine and pappardelle (my favorite. well, clarification, my favorite fresh pasta. My favorite shelf and restaurant pasta is hands down spaghetti).

I tossed the pappardelle with shitake mushrooms, onions (I would have done shallots, but didn’t have any), parsley and heavy cream. And a touch of red pepper flakes (necessary on every type of pasta). And made garlic scape pesto for the fettuchine. Divine.

12) Grosse Pointe is not known as a place to showcase your individuality, so I was pleased to see this sight one evening in the Village. Reminded me of San Francisco. You be you, girl.

Please tell someone you love them, spend time in a garden and be good to yourselves this month! Happy July, all!

 

The May List – 2018

Spring was alive and well in Grosse Pointe this month, bringing warmer temps, tree blossoms and flowers.

However.

1) Just when all the blossoms had formed on the dogwood and magnolia (two of my favorite early spring plants), a crazy strong wind storm blew through town, resulting in downed trees, limbs and of course, blossoms.

I was at work during the storm and we all heard a loud crash. The storm shattered windows, too. SIGH

2) My old lilac tree weathered the storm quite nicely and its many blooms survived, giving us a beautiful display of light and dark purples. I keep thinking it’s going to break or topple over after a big snow or wind storm, but it stays strong.

3) The difference in the garden from the beginning of May to the end.

My vegetable garden is not doing well at all this year, due to the horrible squirrels, who dig up every seed and seedling they can find. Last year they didn’t touch my kale, lettuce or string beans, but this year they dig as soon as I’m done planting. I’m wondering if it’s because they are starving because of the long winter we had, or if they’ve just become more aggressive and annoying.

This is such a huge disappointment for me because there’s nothing better than fresh greens on the table minutes after they’ve been picked. Okay, there are a million better things, but you know what I mean. Freshness just cannot be duplicated.

4) Luckily, we are still growing greens at The Garden Detroit, in spite of our move from our large garden to the smaller plot next to our flower farm, and Tom and Nancy are always so nice to let me have some whenever I stop by. I enjoyed bok choy, sauteed with chili oil and garlic, and today for lunch I’m making a speckled lettuce salad.

5)  Detroit Abloom, the flower farm project, had to scramble this season, again because of the tough winter and spring or non-spring that we had. Our flower bouquet share starts today and we were all foraging for fillers yesterday like grasses and clover, to flesh out the bouquets.

It has been slow-going, but I am super excited for another beautiful season! If you are in the area, please come volunteer any time!

6)  Early this month I joined friends for the Susan G. Komen cancer walk in Detroit. We met at the DAC for a light breakfast, then headed out into the crisp morning in our matching leggings and team shirts.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that came up during the walk. I had flashbacks to my diagnosis and treatment, and thought about all the women out there who have been lost, and those who are just getting diagnosed. How their lives are going to change forever, how their families will be changed.

I’m just finishing up year five, which means I can stop taking my medication soon, which is both exciting and scary. I want to put it behind me and taking daily medication is an in-your-face reminder, and my doctor says that most people who stop taking the medication see a significant change (more energy, body feels better), but the medication was also my mental crutch, allowing me to believe that if I took it, the cancer wouldn’t come back. Which isn’t entirely true.

7)  On to more happy news. I finished work until the next school year – yippeee!!!! We had a fun and successful auction and I couldn’t be more pleased about the money and enthusiasm we raised for the school.

I ended up wearing a sparkly Rachel Zoe backless dress. I love it and wish I could wear it everywhere. The night ended with lots of tequila drinks and two of the above three girls on stage singing and playing bongos. Oopsie.

8)  If you’ve read enough of my blogs, you know that once the warm weather hits, I get the baking itch. I made a delicious batch of scones this month with plans to make many more throughout the summer.

9)  My husband and I joined another couple for a Memorial Day weekend in Florida. Which was fantastic, but would have been even more fantastic, were it not in the middle of tropical storm Alberto (eye roll). So pretty much we ate and drank our way through Naples, and had to find other non outdoor things to do like go to the movies, shop….

….and play drag bingo aka “Bitchy Bingo.”

10)  My girlfriend and I did manage to take a nice walk along the beach during a break in the rain. We ended up on a nature pathway back to town through mangroves and air plants and other cool vegetation.

There were little informational plaques along the way, which were helpful and fun. As we came to the end of the walk, we got drenched in a downpour, and found shelter in the Naples Grand hotel, wiping ourselves off in the bathroom with towels, but ultimately this was a good move, as we wandered into the spa area and made massage appointments for the next day (another great indoor activity).

11)  I wish I’d had a day to just walk around and photograph the architecture. So many retro-ish apartment buildings. Reminded me a bit of LA.

12)  I picked up several books at the library, two of which are sequels to books I’ve already read. I chose the translated (from Dutch) Adler-Olsen thriller to start with and so far it is just what I’d hoped for. Quirky characters and fast-paced suspense.

The girls are in school through Friday, so I have a few more days to catch up on things before the wonderful madness of summer break begins. Happy June, everyone!!

The April List – 2018

Spring finally came to Grosse Pointe at the end of April. The month brought several snow flurries and lots of cold. This morning isn’t a whole lot better at 35 degrees, but the sun is out and it’s supposed to get up to 54, so I’ll take it.

1)  One night we had a weird mix of snow and ice and I woke up to ice covering everything. It was a bit dangerous to be out, as pieces of ice were randomly falling. It was pretty though, which I would have been more appreciative of if it were oh, NOT SPRING!

2)  I started taking Wednesdays off at work again (I was supposed to be doing that all year but could not get the work done over just four work days a week). One Wednesday I went to the Garden, which was pretty depressing as we are a month behind now, but we did plant a bed of stock, and we are all looking forward to an abundant season.

3) The girls and I planted lettuce and kale in our vegetable bed. I can’t do much else in that spot, as our backyard isn’t sunny enough for most vegetables. Our carrots last year grew about an inch. We’ve been successful with beans, but each plant only gives us a handful so I’m trying to utilize the space in a more productive way, albeit must less exciting.

4)  If you read last month’s list, you know I was anticipating my haircut, which I love. It’s the shortest I’ve gone in about 20 years (I just spent 20 minutes trying to find evidence, but could not). I went to The Zealous Root here in town. The gals did an amazing job with what they had to work with.

Disclosure: My stylist also gave me a digital makeover, so I (sadly) look way sweeter in this photo than I do in real life. I mean, look at those eyelashes. They are epic.

5)  While I was waiting for my hair appointment, I read the cheekiest little book about Grosse Pointe, which I must get my hands on. I went to the store where it supposedly came from, but I think copies are long gone. I will keep searching.

6)  I started this month’s book group pick last night and I think it’s going to be a fantastic read. I’m only a few chapters in, but already I am fully engaged in the plot and can’t wait to dive into it again tonight. It puts my other thriller “The Good Girl,” (that I put down in order to start this one) to shame. Not sure I’ll be able to finish it now.

7)  I did manage to drag my behind to the Detroit Body Garage one Wednesday morning, something I have been meaning to do for months. I took it easy-ish, not pushing myself too hard, so I wouldn’t hate the rest of the week. It felt great and I’m going to try to make it a regular thing.

8)  What else can we talk about?…….oh. So the school auction is coming up and I wasn’t going to buy a new dress for it and then I was. I mostly fit this one, except I may have to pin it or keep hiking it up by the armpit, which, whatever. I can’t decide if it looks cool/hip or obnoxious/slutty, but if the other dress that’s coming in the mail doesn’t fit, than this one it is, regardless of how I end up feeling about it.

9)  I went to the new downtown hotspot Prime + Proper, but only for drinks, as we couldn’t get a reservation on short notice. Craft cocktails were delicious and I hear the food is even more so.

10)  I got to hang out with not one, but TWO puppies this month. Soooooooo adorable. How can you stay mad at spring when you get to spend time with a puppy? Okay, I am still mad at spring for the record, but puppy time certainly helped.

11)  I went to karaoke not one, but TWO times this month with new friends of mine. It was so entertaining and fun. I mean, karaoke is pretty much a ridiculous activity, but I am all over it. The crowd is a mixed bag, which I love (and which also adds to the entertainment factor) and it was great to sing on stage again after so long, even if it was just karaoke, and even when the song was not in the right key for me. Ha.

12)  I fit into my snake pants last week, which I can only do about once or twice a year. Which means one of two things. I purposely have been losing weight. Wrong. I’m super stressed. Right?

I’m actually not sure. I don’t feel that stressed, but I suppose I might be. Either way, I was elated to fit into the pants. The kids have been asking me to make scones, which I will probably do today, which means I will have to wait another six months to a year to wear the pants again, but if you’ve tasted the scones, they are completely worth it.

I have high hopes for May. The weather forecast looks good and my work (is supposed to) slowly taper off, giving me more time at the Garden and my own garden, and also more time to be a mom, which has been rough this year with my increased work load, so bring it on, May, I am ready for you!

The (Mostly Hawaii) March List – 2018

I would wish you all Happy Spring, but it’s not really spring here, which I am also not happy about. The first half of March was a blur, but the second half slowed down quite a bit as we were in Hawaii for break.

1) The neighborhood pheasant thinks it’s spring, however, and he’s been ’round the house many times already. Every year we wonder if he will be back and every year he comes back, pecking at the mirrored kick plate on our front door, thinking he’s found a friend (or rival, perhaps). He’s a beauty.

Save for the Hawaii trip, March must not have been very exciting because I have close to zero photos on my phone taken in March, unless you are interested in screenshots of hairstyles that I like. Those I have about a million of and of course now you want to see one of them, so here you go.

2) I’m getting my hair cut next week, which is counter intuitive because I’m actually trying to grow it out, but it’s super jacked up for so many reasons, but I think the best thing to do is get a really nice trim and then let it grow out (wow, I am so interesting right now, I can hardly take it).

Also ignore the URL, oh my gosh. I got this photo off Pinterest, I promise (why so pensive, Sienna? Are you trying to read my mind?).

3) I was going to write a separate post about just Hawaii flowers, and another one about Hawaii food, and maybe another one about family and culture, but we all know that is not happening with my current state of affairs (#hotmess), so let’s go ahead and talk about Hawaii right now.

First of all, I love the shock of coming home and realizing that I grew up on a tropical island. I mean, obviously my whole life I knew I was living on an island, but the realization of how different it is than say growing up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, is always kind of a fun awakening, if even for a split second. Like, holy crap! I grew up on a straight up tropical island!! That’s amazing!

Besides the humidity, the plants are a big clue that you’re not in Kansas anymore. Hawaii plants don’t care about boundaries; they will grow and grow wherever they please. And often times the property owners of said plants will just let them. I mean, why fight it, I guess.

4)  Secondly, food. And lots of it. Like endless supplies of it. I imagine the Asian Mom, Auntie, Grandma, is very similar to the Italian Mom, Auntie, Grandma and therefore every day there is something new to eat and not only that but you HAVE to eat it because they made it. Just. For. You. Image result for gritting teeth emoji Oh I do appreciate it, especially the endless supply of fresh coconut that was prepared a week before our arrival and frozen for us in little ziplock bags so I could take one out to thaw every couple of days, but it’s a lot of pressure!

The desserts alone will stress you out. Actual conversation with self after dinner: “Hmmm…I’m not hungry. But maybe I can eat something small for dessert. Should I have the brownies? Or maybe the mochi squares? Or wait, Auntie just made halo-halo and baklava and what about the chiffon cake?” I mean.

The above spread was for a party we had at my Grandma’s home (rehab center). Those noodles bottom right were made by my Auntie. Pancit, a traditional Filipino dish. She makes hers with fishcake and lots of scallions and shitake mushrooms. So good.

5) Speaking of noodles, you can’t really visit Hawaii and not eat noodles. We had spicy miso ramen bowls like we always do, but this trip I went to a new spot called Piggie Smalls and got their garlic noodles with shrimp and it was ah-maz-ing.

I planned on saving half of it to take home with me, but I ate the entire thing.  They look kind of blah in this photo, but they were divine and I should have gone back another time for more.

6) So back to the party for my Grandma. She will be 95 in June (I think?) and just a few months ago she got sick and had to be moved to a home (she’d been living with my mom and Auntie, her daughters). She is well taken care of and mom and Auntie visit her pretty much daily. She mostly remembers people, with a little reminding, but is not nearly as talkative as she was even a year ago.

She is the matriarch right now in our family circle and it is very sweet to see everyone gather around her and treat her with dignity and respect. It’s inspiring and humbling.

7) Hawaii fashion is very casual and pretty much anything goes. For example, here you see an older lady doing some bold pattern mixing. And guess what, she does not give two hoots about your opinion on the matter (which I love).

8) The weather wasn’t great, but we did get to the beach a few times. Our first stop was Sandy Beach, or Sandy’s, as the locals call it. It’s not a swimming spot for the average swimmer – the waves are unpredictable and really strong. A lot of surf/bodysurf competitions are held at this spot.

I took a lot of pictures with my new camera, determined to use it on the manual setting. I never go the light quite right, but it was a huge learning experience and now I know how (after some Googling) how to shoot in bright light with reflections off water and sand.

9) On the way home from Sandy’s, we stopped at the Leonard’s malasada truck (I can’t seem to get off the food topic), which you must do, for the proper live-like-a-local tourist experience (not so much the truck but Leonard’s malasadas in general).

10) I could show you hundreds of flower photos that I took, but here are a few of my favorites. Hibiscus, ginger, bird of paradise.

11)  One afternoon I took the short walk from my mom’s house to The Lady of the Mount monument, where I spent and hour and a half taking photos of all the plants and flowers. No one else was around and it was such a nice “me time” moment.

So many cool plants to photograph, but this one cactus in particular caught my eye. It was subtle, yet flashy, understated, yet vibrant.

12) Another thing I learned during this trip about photography (which I suppose you could turn into some kind of metaphor about life if you were that kind of person and had the time to word it correctly) is that sometimes finding the light means stepping out of it. Capturing shadows, capturing darkness.

Plus, I love a good moody photo. I mean, this double hibiscus is giving it to you right here.

And that’s a wrap. I hope that wherever you are, if spring has not yet arrived at your home, that it will come soon. Wishing you the loveliest April.