The February List – 2017

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Hello, friends! I’ve not wanted to make a monthly list as much as I don’t want to make one now. Super busy at work, doggie troubles and so much to do before going on vacation in just shy of three weeks. But the list must go on.

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1) Food is always a good place to start and I am sooooo happy to report that I’ve mastered the recipe for Thai curry. Taking a virtual bow. I followed a recipe from my cookbook Simple Thai Food and tweaked it a few times (less fish sauce, less chicken stock, more curry paste, even more curry paste) to get it the way I like it.

It’s not San Francisco Thai restaurant quality, but it does beat out the local options we have here so I’ll take it. But it is a pain to make so there’s that.

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2)  I keep finding Ken’s head in strange places. Here he is, under the kitchen table. I’ve found his body behind the dollhouse in my littlest’s room and his head was behind the dresser in her room the other day. You tell me.

paczki3)  Why is it that only this year I am hearing about paczki? Does everyone but me know what that is? It’s not something I ever had in Hawaii or California, but apparently you eat it around Mardi Gras and it has some kind of jelly-filled center, which sounds very unappealing to me, but I still feel like I need to try one just because.

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In Hawaii we have malasadas, which I believe to be the most superior version of fried dough. I will confirm, once I’ve tried a paczki.

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4)  In December I met up with Kacy Johnson who is doing a fantastic portrait project, written up in Vanity Fair Italia and Huffington Post, called FEMALE, where she takes shots of women’s backs. I was her first Detroit photoshoot and she published the photo this month.

She had just moved from San Francisco to her home studio in Detroit, so we had that in common and she really was just a lovely person and as sweet as can be. Her dog Caju (cashew in Portuguese) kept us entertained. The shoot took all of two minutes. I thought it was a great experience. If you are in the Detroit area, she is still looking for subjects, no prerequisites, and I urge you to give her a call to participate.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset5)  Our big girl turned eight this month. We celebrated over the weekend on the most beautiful February day ever, thanks to global warming. It was nice to be outside for most of the day. I raked a bunch of leaves and dug up some plants and the girls played with the the new archery birthday gift from Grandma.

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She chose to go to the Red Crown for dinner because she loves getting their milkshakes and burgers. I’m surprised more places around here don’t serve milkshakes.

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6)  As an early birthday present, my mother-in-law and I took the girls to see The Lion King at the Detroit Opera House. I’d never been inside the building and of course it was so beautiful and the play was so fun.

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7)  We met up with our bowling group one evening at Marais. The idea was to eat in the bar area, but it was packed on this particular Friday night and there wasn’t room for all eight of us. I could go on and on about the horrible service, but I will just say that it took forever and a day to get us seated (there were about three other tables?) and we waited over an hour for food.

My small side order of french fries came out first and everyone was SO hungry by this point (10 o’clock?) that I passed it around we each had a few. However, the seafood platter was worth the wait. So fresh, so good. And by the time I had several bites of crab, shrimp and lobster in my belly, they were forgiven. But only just, so I hope they figure things out soon.

recipe-simple-syrup8) Speaking of margaritas (my friend across the table at Marais was drinking them that night), I finally made my own simple syrup! The thought of doing it was way more annoying than actually doing it, which was of course one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. It’s basically boiling water. I added ginger to the mix, to give it some zing, but I should have grated it more or left it in longer, because I can’t quite taste it.

I’ve had about five homemade vodka gimlets since then, some good some bad, and last night I made a margarita-ish version with tequila and Contreau. Perfection.

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9)  Speaking of vodka gimlets, I had one on my Valentine’s Day date at Chartreuse, still one of our favorites. The appetizers were delectable, the entree was…as expected and the desserts, exquisite. They added basil syrup to their vanilla pudding, an addition we didn’t love, but it was still so good. I’d go back just for the pudding.

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10)  I barely had time for the Garden this month, but I did manage to go down there for a couple hours one afternoon to help plant onion seeds. I enjoyed the short time I spent planting and hope that after things calm down at work, I can make it out there more often. #therapy

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11)  Our work team went on a field trip to scout potential event spaces for our live auction. One spot was a renovated (still in process) old factory building in Corktown and another was a design space called dPOP! in the historic Chrysler House downtown (Quicken Loans building now). One of the rooms is an actual bank vault, where we’re thinking about doing a wine tasting/happy hour event. Pretty cool.

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12) Woo-hoo! Made it to the end of the list in record time! I leave you with this photo of my mom’s rose plant. I think it was taken last month or even earlier, but I’ve been thinking about Hawaii a lot because we are going for spring break – yippee!

Happy March, everyone!

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Women’s March – Detroit

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Borrowed sign from a fellow marcher. Wish I’d thought of it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was reluctant at first to attend the March. I didn’t know what to expect/I don’t like the unknown, I don’t like crowds and I don’t like negative/angry energy.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to go. For my girls, for my conscience. On top of that, I knew a handful of friends traveling to DC. The least I could do is drive 30 minutes to my local March. I reached out to my sister-in-law and asked if she was going and we made plans to meet up for coffee beforehand.

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I left the house around 8:30am. It was a beautiful foggy morning.

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I really hate driving on the freeway, so if I can ever avoid it, I do. I took Jefferson into Detroit and then some weird backroad route via my GPS. There weren’t a lot of cars on the road yet. I wish I’d stopped to take more photos of the city that morning.

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After coffee at Shinola, we walked to Wayne State, where the march was set to begin. A bunch of people on the street were headed the same way.

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Not too long after we arrived, a full crowd had assembled in the square. A young gal heard us lamenting that we regretted not making signs, and she handed my sister-in-law an extra one she’d made that said, “keep your tiny hands off my rights.”  Soon one of the organizers made an announcement over the loud speaker and we began to march per her instructions.

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I was impressed with the overall vibe of the March. People were laughing, enjoying others’ signage, smiling at each other, being courteous. Not once did it get ugly or violent in any way. There were mostly women, but there were also men, kids, babies, dogs.

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People honked and waved as they drove past. People in shops came out to watch and some cheered us on through their windows. You can barely see, but this is a shot of two folks in a window clanking cowbells.

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We marched for about an hour, following a U-shaped route around the campus.

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We passed the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Public Library.

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And ended up back in the courtyard, where upbeat girl-power music was playing and people were dancing.

An estimated 4000 people showed up to the Detroit March. I wonder what that number would have been if all the people who were hesitant to show up didn’t show up. I wonder what it would have been like if all the people who wanted to show up did show up.

I marched in remembrance of the women who marched before me. I marched for little girls who will soon become women. I marched for my gay, lesbian and transgender friends. I marched for immigrants. I marched for the environment. I marched for science.

The challenge for a lot of us is going to be continuing to fight for our freedoms – calling senators/representatives (which I hate, hate doing), attending more marches and protests, donating to equal rights organizations, etc. If we believe that change needs to happen, we need to be part of the change.

Dan Rather, who has surprisingly emerged as one of the leaders of democracy on social media, says it perfectly: “Democracy is much more than just the right to vote. It is the duty to participate….you can’t forsake your voice and then complain about not being heard.”

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The January List – 2017

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Happy 2017! Although if you’ve been keeping up with the national news, not so happy for a lot of us. Anyhoo… we’ve had a warm-ish January with almost no snow.

It finally snowed again last night and has been lightly snowing on and off all day. Like I always say, if it’s going to be cold, let’s get some snow up in here. It makes the cold bearable.

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1)  I was so happy to attend the Women’s March Detroit on the 21st. I was considering not going, but ultimately needed to do it for my kids.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t know anyone in town who was going, so I checked in with my sister-in-law, who wanted to go. It was such a positive and invigorating experience and I felt very proud to be there. I took a bunch of pictures and will share them all in the next post.

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2)  After the March, we went to The Farmer’s Hand in Corktown for lunch. I have been dying to go – Detroit Abloom sells our flowers there and I’d just heard it was a cool spot. It’s smaller than I pictured, but it was packed with plenty of goods, all made in Michigan. I had a salad and a yogurt cup with chia, and also picked up a jar of marinara. Love Ouizi’s murals. If you don’t know her work, give her a Google.

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3)  Our sweet boy turned 11 on the 6th. The girls made cards for him and we sang Happy Birthday and gave him a Kong toy filled with peanut butter, carrots and celery.

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4)  And then….this weekend we found out he has a tumor in his mouth, which had to be operated on right away, which happened to be yesterday. We are still awaiting biopsy results, but it doesn’t look good.

He is never allowed on the couch, but after some begging from me (and the dog), my husband agreed to let him rest off his surgery on the couch, where he is now with our little one, who is also resting after 24 hours of the stomach flu, oh my gosh.

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5)  My husband went to a sausage-making party (indeed) at the beginning of the month and came home with a ton of deliciousness, some of which I sauteed with marinara sauce and a heavy dose of cream because cream. I did pour the concoction over zucchini noodles, so there.

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6)  Winter sunrises are always the prettiest. Or maybe it’s because I’m up too late in the summers to see them? I can never capture their magnificence on film, but here they are, anyway, to give you an idea.

7)  I started yoga again. Ouchy.

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8)  For Martin Luther King Jr day, the girls and I talked about acceptance, appearances and kindness. We did an art project together inspired by quotes from Dr. King. I haven’t been very good at things like this (projects in general) lately, but it was really fun and they really got the point of it.

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9)  The Garden Detroit held a board meeting this month at Tom and Nancy’s house. We’re never all in the same space that often, so it’s always nice when we are. At the end of the meeting, we started talking about moringa trees, which got us talking about moringa seeds and then Nancy brought some out for all of us to try.

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I do not recommend eating moringa seeds. The taste is a heavy sweetness paired with a very tannic bitterness. Kind of like eating mud mixed with corn syrup mixed with gasoline mixed with dog food? And the aftertaste stays with you for a loooong time. They are supposed to be incredibly healthy for you, loaded with vitamins A and C, iron, protein, calcium and potassium. Pretty impressive, but still.

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10)  I have been wanting to check out Wright and Co, a now not-so-new spot in downtown Detroit. We stopped in after dinner with friends one night for drinks and dessert. It was packed. Fun atmosphere, somewhat noisy and the couple plates we tried were yummy.

Detroit’s culinary scene continues to boom. It’s a great time to be here. Oh and haven’t you heard? Detroit was recently named as the number 9th best place to go in 2017 by the New York Times. So come visit! img_3062-768x1024 11)  Work at the school is picking up, as we are gearing up for the annual auction. I went with our team to edmond t. Ahee Jewelers (everyone here just says Ahee) to pick out pieces for the live auction. Besides the beautiful jewelry, there was a treat and coffee station at the back of the store, which apparently is always stocked. Super cute. And tasty.

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12)  I’ve been on a murder mystery kick, as I think I mentioned last month. I asked for recommendations and my friend Deanna said author Tana French, which coincidentally I had written down as a maybe on my book list, so I borrowed “The Likeness” from the library.

It’s the second in her Dublin Murder Squad series, but I was reluctant to read the first, as the subject matter is very dark – dead children, the deep dark woods, etc. I’m halfway through and the writing is really good, especially for a plot-driven genre, and the characters are interesting and complex.

I leave you with a joke that our 5-year-old came up with one morning…
Q: What is a ghost’s favorite body part?
A: Boooobs!

Have a great February, all!

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Lost and Found – Schoolhouse Chair

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A couple months ago while surveying Detroit Abloom (a nonprofit project where I volunteer in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood), I spotted a curious sight.

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Upon closer inspection, a schoolhouse chair had become woven into a tree trunk, becoming one with it. So many metaphors and juxtapositions I could go into but I am lazy, so you can come up with your own.

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I did think it was interesting that I’d been next to that tree so many times before, but never noticed the chair. Maybe because it was the beginning of winter and things were so bare that without all the greenery it was easier to spot. Nature is pretty crazy cool.

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The December List – 2016

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Looking out at the Detroit River (beyond the tree line)

Happy New Year, all! December had the typical hustle and bustle of the holidays and then some. Here are the highlights…

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1)  Early December brought our first snowstorm of the season. The girls were so excited and played outside all day, and that night we got the call that school was cancelled the next day – yipee!

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2)  Everything looks more beautiful in the snow. When driving through Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmer’s neighborhood, I had to stop and snap a photo of this burned home. It looked so calm and peaceful surrounded by all that clean, white snow.

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3)  I’m a little less thrilled about the shoveling this time around. It wasn’t so bad once I got into it, but it does kind of suck being out there at night, huffing and puffing while you watch your neighbor fire up his blower and finish the job in a third of the time and minutes later, having to move aside as the city plows come through and throw wet, dirty snow on the driveway where you just shoveled.

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2)  I chopped my hair off! Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but was nervous about since I’ve had long hair for the last 15 years.

I scoured online for the perfect cut and made an appointment with my hair stylist. I knew the experience was going to be traumatic, but it was even more so when I realized that I’d been given a mom bob vs the chic cut I had requested! Oh. My. Word.

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What I imagined I’d look like vs. what I actually looked like. Nailed it!

My stylist was really nice to accommodate me the next day and put more layers put in, but there wasn’t a lot she could do because too much length had already been cut to achieve the look I wanted.

I made an appointment at another salon a couple weeks later, and the gal there fixed it up a bit so now at least I look more hip and less like a suburban mom. At least that’s what I tell myself.

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4)  For some reason (well, I suspect the reason, which was also probably the catalyst for my haircut – the cuckoo election! Gah!)  I have been really into murder mysteries lately. I hate gore and anything too psychotic, but I have been devouring the genre (escapism!?). I just finished the Robert Galbraith series (JK Rowling) which fit my mystery bill perfectly (not too icky, not too scary, great characters, good plot) and I just picked up these three titles from the library. Have read about 10 pages of “The Passenger” and am already sucked in.

My book journal (book title, author, number of pages, and a short review) says that I read 15 books in 2016. Not bad, but I hope to have a longer list this year. Some of my favorites this year were “Beer Money” by Francis Stroh, “Before the Fall” by Noah Fawley (so good. Don’t let the premise deter you) and the Robert Galbraith books. Comment with your recommendations!

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5)  Another hot-off-the-presses article from the local paper.

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6)  So I went to an event at the Yacht Club where a male model was walking around with Chanel shoes on a platter.

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7)  After eight years of a silvery Christmas tree, I switched it up and went gold this year. New glittery balls and a new star. Before I moved to Grosse Pointe, I pretty much hated gold anything and now I kind of love it.

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8)  Sometime around Thanksgiving, I brought up a couple boxes of Christmas stuff to sort through. I put a small box of gifted ornaments (ones people have given us over the years) in the dining room cabinet, so the girls wouldn’t go rifling through it after school.

I completely forgot about that box and when it was time to trim the tree, I started panicking that I’d mistakenly donated that box along with some other holiday items at the end of last year.

When I say we turned over the entire house, I mean I spent over a couple frantic hours going through all cabinets, closets, rooms, the space above the garage (okay, my husband did that one), the furnace room, everything. Except the back of the dining room buffet, obviously. After accepting that they were in fact gone, I found the box several days later while looking for a platter. Oopsies.

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9)  We made sugar cookies for Santa, as we always do, but this year I tried a new recipe that included vanilla and almond extracts, and cream of tartar, which I’ve never used before.

The first batch came out very poofy, but they were super delicious, so I will probably go with the same recipe next year and tweak it. The girls didn’t put up a fuss about it (it could have completely given them a meltdown, you just never know with these things), so it was all good.

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9)  I went to our youngest’s class Christmas party, which was also a pajama party. Holy cow, all those kids in their pjs = so much cuteness.

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10)  I made a sweet potato pie for my December book group. I usually don’t add the bourbon, but this time I did and whoa. The girls were so nice and pretended it tasted good but it pretty much tasted like alcohol! Hahahaha. Note to self. But it looked pretty. And the toasted maple pecans were yum.

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11)  The Garden Detroit’s new hoop house is almost complete! We are so excited. Thank you to all of you who have contributed towards the project. We still need about $5k more, so if you are feeling extra giving this season, you can donate through our website!

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12)  We rang in the new year at a friend’s celebration at the Dearborn Inn. A couple hours before we were supposed to head out, I tried my dress on (I haven’t worn it for about a year) and I don’t know if it got stretched out or if a year of yoga shaved some volume off my booty or what, but it was about an inch too long! Luckily the sweet ladies at our dry cleaners were able to fix it in a jiffy.

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We haven’t gone out on New Year’s Eve since before the kids were born, so it was quite a treat. And I haven’t stayed up til 2am since I don’t know how long. It was a fabulous event. Beautiful decor, dinner, dancing, cocktails, friends and lots of laughter. A perfect way to ring in the new year!

I am nervous but also hopeful for what 2017 has in store for us. Ready or not, it’s here and it’s already moving along quickly! Blessings to all of you for a wonderful year!!

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The November List – 2016

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Welp, another month has passed and I never did get to my dahlia post. Perhaps soon. Perhaps never. But now it’s time for the List…

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1) The autumn spectacle of changing leaves continued throughout the entire month of November. Swoon.

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2) The amount of leaves on our lawn was a different kind of spectacle and very daunting. So daunting that I let my husband and kids do most of the clean-up this year.

My excuse (besides too cold and too many leaves) was that I injured my rib cage (or something) from coughing so hard during my most recent cold. And raking made it worse (it did!). And it’s only now starting to feel better after several weeks.

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3)  This is my most used emoji. What does that say about me? Should I be concerned?

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4) I voted! Although, Michigan?!?! I can’t.

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5) Shortly after the election, my sister-in-law told me about a women’s (although I think there was a guy there? whatevs) meeting of the minds at The Red Hook cafe in Detroit’s West Village. Cute place.

And the room was filled with such intelligent and thoughtful women who are trying to change the world for the good of humanity and yes, there is hope. Albeit a small sliver of. See #3.

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6)  Thanksgiving dinner was held at our house this year. My husband’s family (his sister’s family and his mom) joined us for the holiday and luckily for me it was a potluck, so I didn’t have to do much except clean and make mashed potatoes, an apple pie and cranberry sauce.

Aaaaand I bought the turkey from the Yacht Club. I know, so lame, but I was nervous about messing it up. I’ve cooked probably five (?) turkeys in my lifetime and they were all okay, nothing bad happened, but better safe than sorry.

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7) Speaking of pie, it’s officially pie season (although summertime has it’s own pie season I suppose?). So it’s official the second pie season of the year and surprisingly I haven’t had too much of it yet, mainly because it is such a pain to make. Peeling and cutting all those freaking apples! Rolling out the dough that doesn’t want to roll out! But it tastes so good.

I haven’t had sweet potato pie yet – my holiday favorite – but I am planning on making one for next week’s book group. The recipe I use includes bourbon and coconut milk, and is finished with a maple pecan crumble on top. I die.

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8) The day after Thanksgiving, Grosse Pointe puts on a small Santa parade. We walked down to Kercheval and sat on the bleachers placed along the Hill. I loved the marching bands. And the fact that we saw a bunch of people we knew.

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9) Soooo….I started a new part time job (gah!) at one of the schools here. I’ve been so spoiled accustomed to working whenever I want (an hour here an hour there, or late at night when the kids are asleep) that having an actual schedule threw me off my game a little.

I will miss Googling “Victoria Beckham hair” grocery shopping without kids and watching Project Runway having everything in its place (counters and floors clear, laundry done, etc), but I enjoy the job and I’m slowly figuring out some rhythm to my work week. It’s a historical campus – the office is really beautiful AND I have a view of Lake St. Clair. Pretty sweet.

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10) I just this week pulled the last of my kale, one of the first plants I planted in the spring. Certainly was a great year for flowers and vegetables. And I covered my raised bed with straw, because Tom from The Garden told me to. Something to do with keeping the nutrients in the soil or some such.

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11)  Speaking of The Garden, we are full speed ahead with our root cellar construction. Thank you to all who have helped by donating to the cause! A hoop house is going on top, hopefully soon before the nasty weather kicks in.

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12)  The Garden itself is looking rather dormant, but is still beautiful in its own way. A few plants are hung on until just recently – scallions, parsley and kale. There’s still a lot to do in terms of getting all the beds ready for winter. If  you are in the area and want to help, come on down! Bring gloves and a parka. Brrrrr!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around town and in our house, too. We haven’t gotten our tree yet, but we (me and the girls) are super excited to do that in the next couple of days. Wishing everyone a Very Happy Holiday Season!!

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