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!

 

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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.

The February List – 2018

Oh my gosh. I can’t with The List right now. Every month I feel like I say oh this month went by so fast, but this is IT, people.

1) It’s cold. It was supposed to be done snowing and everyone thought it was done snowing, but as soon as my daughter brought her snowsuit home from school I knew it was going to snow again and it sure did.

2)  And then when it did snow, it was so random and weird weather-wise, that the snow stuck and it was beautiful for a hot second until the next day when chunks of ice started falling from the trees onto your car and your head if you happened to be out walking. We didn’t even let our kids go outside and play and almost didn’t want the dog to go out either but no alternative.

3) And guess what, the snowstorm I’m talking about actually happened on March 1st, so I’m not even technically allowed to put it in the February list, but I did, so there.

4) At the beginning of the month we had our biggest storm of the season come through, snowing all day long. I was hoping and praying we would not have a snow day, but our Head of School (I know, stop. Where am I, England? But that’s his title so.) had already called one the evening before. I shoveled at least three separate times and my husband maybe twice.

5) Had my office not looked like this, I would have relaxed and enjoyed aforementioned snow day, and eventually, I did because what can you do, really?

6)  The kids had an absolute ball and my sweet old Sammy boy was running and jumping along with them. As playful as I’ve seen him in a long time. Sometimes he is so gross and smells bad and chews on his foot and all kinds of really nasty dog things, but he is so dang cute and brings so much love into our home, we adore him.

7) Our oldest turned nine this month. We let her invite a couple friends to the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center (we would have invited all the girls in her class, but we only have one car and felt bad not being able to give all the girls rides back to our house).

(Just FYI if you are reading this and your kid didn’t go it’s because we are still so SF when it comes to emissions and vehicles and I’m sorry, we love your kid!) Although that one time I won my husband an Escalade rental at auction it was AH-MAZ-ing.

My point is we all went there for the first time and it was fun and cool and my favorite part was feeling all the animal pelts to see which one was the softest (there were also molds of poop samples, which of course the girls loved) and watching the girls ride the snowmobile simulator and fishing simulator.

And then they all wanted to play this shoot the squirrel game with laser guns that looked like real guns and I was like what in the holy hell is even happening right now.

8) We got home and it was nine-year-old girls gone wild all up in my house. They are kooks oh my word. But they had a great time and enjoyed my homemade vanilla cake from Marais.

9)  My mother-in-law took us to the Henry Ford Museum for our daughter’s birthday (ate lunch at Buddy’s pizza first – YUM. I just love pizza so much). I had never been there before and didn’t realize that Rosa Parks’s bus was in that museum along with a million other cool Americana items.

We sat in the bus and listened to the docent (although my girls were half listening, ah well) and I was so moved and touched and wanted to stay there all day and write poetry and think deep thoughts.

10)  Our big ski trip (our girls’ first times ever on skis) happened at the end of the month. We and another family rented a cottage at Crystal Mountain, about a five hour drive north. We’d never been and it was really picturesque and lovely.

Another event I should have been looking forward to but wasn’t because I was so stressed out, but as often happens on vacations, I was able to relax and enjoy myself, especially since the girls had phenominal attitudes about the whole ski gear, being cold, first time on skis thing. It was pretty cool watching them and it made me want to go on ski vacations multiple times a year, even though I hate being cold.

I also took a morning off and got a facial at the spa and sat in the steam room for a bit which made me want a new steam shower so badly or at least a sauna in the basement.

11) I hadn’t been to The Garden since before Christmas – what!? I’m not even exaggerating, so sad and completely my fault. I made a lunch date with the crew and they made me the most fantastic toasted sandwich using Trader Joe’s sauerkraut and swiss and homemade vegan Thousand Island dressing.

The photo looks not very appetizing because I’d already taken a bite and also didn’t have time to edit the photo but it was really so good. I want one RIGHT NOW. But even if I had all the stuff I couldn’t because I am cutting down on carbs big time because Hawaii in two weeks oh my gosh.

12) Wait, speaking of delicious, the Auction Chairs are always buying me the best treats, I am not sure why because I’m the only one on our hard-working team actually getting paid (chairs are volunteers as are well, the volunteers), but of course I’m not complaining because treats.

One of the things they’ve given me are these amazing chocolates from Hungary with caramelized lavender and star anise. It’s stupid good and I just had some with my wine. And yes I realize wine has carbs but wine.

To sum up the month: work work, snow snow, some good stuff, more work, more snow. It’s all good, people. Happy March!

Please Vote for The Garden Detroit! (5 seconds!)

Dear Friends,

The nonprofit that is so close to my heart, The Garden Detroit, has been selected as a finalist (25 nationwide) for The Atlantic’s contest which recognizes nonprofits for making positive changes in their communities. The winner will receive a $20,000 gift, and The Garden Detroit will use these funds to finish our Detroit Abloom pavilion and purchase a much-needed walk-in cooler for our flowers. There will also be a handful of $10,000 runners up.

Just click the link and vote for us! It’s that easy, no contact info required! You do have to vote for a second company, so go ahead and read through and pick the one you like.

https://www.theatlantic.com/renewal-awards/

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Love,
Lani