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

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The January List – 2018

The first month of 2018 brought more freezing temps during its first half, which meant that when we got several days of 40+ degree weather recently, we were ecstatic.

1) The winter brings such beautiful sunrises and we had so many notable ones this month, though I only snapped a few.

2)  This old man turned 12 on January 6th! (He looks sad in this pic, but he is merely fixated on the treat I am holding up to my face.)

He has become a nuisance in the mornings in his old age, waking me up at ungodly hours, pretending he has to go out, only to fake pee and run back in for his breakfast. This faking and running back is nothing new, but the early morning wake-ups are. Nonetheless, I always cave, especially since we don’t know how much longer he’ll be around.

2)  I forgot to talk about cranberry salsa last month and I’m wondering if it’s a Midwest thing or an East Coast thing or maybe a small town thing? I’d never heard of it or had it before, but at our December book group TWO girls brought a batch, which was kind of fun because one was served over cream cheese and one had jalapenos in it.

I pretty much ate most of the one with jalapenos in it, and after I asked for the recipe and saw the ingredients, I knew why I liked it so much. SUGAR. Loads of it. Which should have been obvious given the fresh cranberries. Alas, I will not be making this dip save maybe once a year as a holiday treat.

3)  Our group skipped a book this month (I read “A Man Called Ove” last month, but that’s for our February discussion), as we decided to have a dinner with spouses instead. After a yummy beet salad and cassoulet dinner, we played several rounds of Cards of Humanity, which I’d never played before. It’s like an adult (and inappropriate) version of Apples to Apples. So bad but so good.

The hosts’ King Charles spaniel was soooooo super cute. I am not a small dog person, but I’ve always loved that breed along with little white Westies.

4)  I’ve been reading the above book by Fuchsia Dunlop. It’s about her wanderings throughout rural China as a study abroad student and how she came to study Chinese food at one of the culinary institutes there. There is something slightly amateur about her writing (maybe it’s because it’s a memoir?), which is not necessarily a bad thing in this instance, as she writes honestly and with passion.

The problem is that I love Chinese food and she talks about it a LOT. Chili oil, garlic, black bean paste. And I’m only ever reading the book in bed, so it makes me very hungry and also very sad, knowing that even if I did want Chinese food  the next day to satisfy my craving, that I wouldn’t be able to satiate my appetite without going into Detroit (which I would more than love to do, but time doesn’t usually permit).

5) Maybe because of these cravings, I bought yet another cookbook. This one is from one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Burma Superstar. I’ve made the very easy coconut rice twice (I’ve made my own version which does not include the sugar sigh that makes the Burma version so good), but need to get to a specialty store before I can attempt to make some of the other dishes.

6)  I am up to my eyeballs at work, as our deadlines for the year are looming. I’m not sure if I mentioned ever that the head of our department resigned over the summer, so it’s just me running my team (and reporting to the Head of School, which is not the same as having your very own director across the hall), crossing my fingers and forging through the chaos. Godspeed.

7)  I get the organizing bug often and the re-decorating bug sometimes, and it makes sense that it usually strikes when its too cold or hot or wet to go outside. Our living room was still feeling a little too formal and not….”together” to me. I’ve been wanting to get a mirror for over the fireplace for a long time, but hadn’t found the right one and also they are soooo expensive.

I finally found a suitable and affordable (only because Arhaus was having its winter sale and I got it for 60% off) mirror for the space and I think it looks worlds better. I’d been hoping for a gilded frame, but I actually think the subtlety of this muted gray works nicely.

8) I’m sure I told you about the lamp in the corner that I bought from an estate sale when we first moved to Grosse Pointe? I was texting about it with a friend the other day and realizing (again) how cool it is, with its real butterfly specimens pressed between parchment-ish paper.

I’ve never thought to look up what kind of butterflies they were until now, which I did just a second ago. Perhaps the bottom one is some kind of swallowtail? But I’m not sure about the other one. Maybe it’s even a moth?

9)  I bought a boatload of houseplants (eleven to be exact) to brighten and cozy up the space (and of course I had to buy pots for all of them). I am hoping for zero casualties, at least for several months, because no matter how much attention I seem to put into houseplants, they respond by dying.

Don’t over water (I KNOW). People seem to want to tell me this whenever I tell them I have issues with houseplants. I actually think my main problem is that I’m so scared of over watering that I under water. Anyway, this batch of plants is doing well. Which has made me want to buy even more (my husband loves me so much).

I also am trying a yucca plant in our family room. It’s starting to tip a little because it’s so heavy, but otherwise seems happy.

Photo by Susan Martin, of shade plants at her home in Holland, MI.

10)  Speaking of plants, my neighbor’s daughter Susan Martin (her mother Shirley was my sweet neighbor who passed away a year and a half ago), a garden writer and speaker, invited me to a talk she was giving about shade plants at the War Memorial at the Grosse Pointe Garden Center’s annual meeting. I’m not normally one to attend a lecture, but because it was Susan and because my backyard/garden is 90% shady, it piqued my interest.

Himalayan Maidenhair Fern and Toad Lily, two of the plants I wrote down on my list.

I arrived just on time and grabbed one of the last remaining seats. It was such a great talk – Susan was so knowledgeable and personable and engaging – and she gave me so many great ideas for my shade garden and more importantly, hope for it. When I wasn’t crying (which I did intermittently throughout, thinking about and missing Shirley), I was scribbling notes on the handout she gave us. I want to try a million things! Spring cannot get here fast enough.

After the talk, I was approached by a woman who I’d never met, but who knew me through my affiliation with Shirley and also Detroit Abloom (and as it turns out, I’d heard of her, too). Once in a blue moon I will meet someone who already knows me because of my friendship with Shirley. It’s incredibly touching and shows that even a short-lived friendship can be deeply meaningful.

You can follow Susan’s gardening tips and articles on Facebook by clicking here: Gardener Sue’s News. You’ll be so glad you did!

11)  Just as I was about to get back on the healthy/workout bandwagon, I sprained my ankle. Doing a freaking puzzle. How does one sprain an ankle while doing a puzzle, you ask? I’m not sure, but after going to the doctor, we concluded that I was probably standing on it weird (for like two hours straight) or sitting on it at a funny angle.

Regardless of how, I would get shooting pains that would last for 10 to 20 minutes at a time and could not bear weight on it. And then it would go away for 24 hours and then it would come back in full force. It’s been two days without major pain, so hopefully I’m in the clear.

12)  I leave you with this amazing list I found while cleaning up, that our 8-year-old wrote. I dare you to guess what it means (I haven’t a clue). But I can tell you that it pretty much sums up my state of mind lately.

I realize we have several days left in January, but it has exhausted me and I’m on to the next. February is going to be even more nuts work-wise than January was. That and the 8-year-old turns nine. And I think I signed up for my first grader’s Valentine’s Day party. And a ski trip that’s smack in the middle of my deadline. I’ll write about it all next month. Until then.

 

The December List – 2017

Back to work tomorrow after a two-week break, although much of that break was spent like this….

1) … because I came down with the flu or whatever nasty business was going around.

2) And then the week before that, the kids and husband had it, so I was dealing with that. I feel like December was a blur of snow and cold and sickness, (but we did enjoy our holidays).

Temperatures dropped into the negatives for several days and aside from not being able to really go outside (which I didn’t feel like doing anyway), I am very concerned about my plants and how they will fare come Spring.

3) It snowed quite a bit this December and the first few snowfalls I was happy to shovel because it’s so peaceful, especially at night when no one else is around except for maybe the professional snow blowers who get their jobs done so fast but never do as good of a job as a good old-fashioned shovel. Although I do envy then, don’t get me wrong. And it’s a great workout also.

Luckily or unluckily the next several times it snowed, I was too unwell to shovel, so my husband did all the hard work.

4)  We went to Mr. Paul’s Chophouse for the first time. It’s an old school dimly lit place in Roseville that doesnt’ take reservations and makes Caesar salad tableside and offers huge steaks (which we shared). Sorry the photo is so creepy, but I had to blur the subject. The steaks were really, really good, as was the Caesar. Fish, okay.

5)  We had ugly sweater day at work, so I bought this cheap number on Amazon so I could participate. Of course the girls looooved it and kept wanting to pet the cat and I’ve never gotten so many compliments from the kids at school. Hahahaha so great.

6)  We were so, so happy to have a White Christmas this year. It snowed a bunch on Christmas Eve as we were driving to my husband’s sister’s place for dinner. We drove about 40 mph on the freeway, so it took forever to get there and back, but it was so pretty! And I wasn’t driving!

7)  And I loved sitting around the tree on Christmas morning while it snowed outside while I pretended I wasn’t coming down with the flu.

8) Santa was more generous than previous years, bringing three gifts per child instead of two (I’m not big on giving Santa the spotlight). We hit a snafu when a couple days before Christmas, the little one brought home a letter from Santa saying that he was “working hard to get her the American Girl doll” she asked for. UMMM, heads up, people, please!

The sweet eighth grade buddies who crafted the letter were obviously not thinking about the poor moms and dads while writing the letter. I did request that next year they keep the letter general, as not to cause panic attacks or crying on Christmas morning for next year’s first grade class.

I actually thought about getting said doll, but I don’t usually spend that much, plus….to get it to the house on time I’d have to pay a lot more than regular price, which I wasn’t willing to do on principle. ANYway, my girlfriend helped me out big time by crawling around her attic to find me not one, but two (for both girls) American Girl dolls, complete with accessories, that her now college-age girls had played with.

Such a great save and the girls were thrilled! Sam, not so much.

9) The girls also got a handful of board games, which they asked for. Dominoes, which they have never played before and is such a great game. And of course fun to play with outside of an actual game. They did a lot of stacking and knocking down.

I wasn’t sure if they were ready for Monopoly, but so far so good. The last couple of days, they have played it for HOURS (without fighting!), which not only makes me so happy because it gives me time to do absolutely nothing  chores and cleaning and organizing, but because it was my favorite game as a kid. Although backgammon was a close second (and sometimes first) for a while.

10) I feel like I am one of the last people to read “A Man Called Ove,” which I started reading this month. I didn’t realize there was also a movie until I Googled it to get the book cover. The actor in the movie looks closer to 69 than the character’s 59, but he has that perfect curmudgeon look.

I’m enjoying the book – it is well-written and funny at times and sad at times and all the things that the back cover promises it will be. However, I find it just a tad too realistically depressing. As soon as I’m done with it, I plan to plunge back into the fantasy world with the second book of the “Darker Shade of Magic” series.

11)  Although both of us were still run down from being sick, my husband and I were able to buck up and ring in the New Year with friends at The Dearborn Inn. I even bought a fancy new dress for the occasion to reward myself for all my freelance work I’ve done over the last few months AND even despite not working out for weeks, it still fit perfectly, so hallelujah!

12) Speaking of not working out, I’m really not looking forward to getting back on that bandwagon again. My body is still tired and congested and once you’ve stopped it’s so dang hard to get back on that horse. BUT. I made a pie for Christmas and a cheesecake last week and plan to make scones this afternoon so…..Here. We. Go.

I always make New Year’s Resolutions, but haven’t gotten around to any for 2018 yet. Make more pie, exercise more, buy more plants, eat more plants, work at Detroit Abloom more, something along those lines.

It is full speed ahead tomorrow at work as I gear up for our May auction. Gotta hit that ground running. Waaaaaaah!!!

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!!

 

 

The November List – 2017

Another month gone and I’m struggling to keep up with pretty much everything.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all over town. It used to bother me when people decorated for the holidays before Thanksgiving, but here in the Midwest, where trees and plants are bare and the landscape is dreary, I appreciate some sparkle and color.

1) I decorated my office with a string of lights (nearly killing myself by balancing with one foot on my tall stool and maneuvering the lights with a meter stick), and we picked out a tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Really need something larger / more stately over the fireplace. One of those things you keep meaning to deal with that isn’t really all that important, so you never do.

2) My friend in Portland posted some of her amazing vintage Christmas wreaths on Facebook and I knew I had to have one. They are fun and festive and glamorous and kitchy and the girls were making squealing noises as I opened up the box and unwrapped it.

She can custom make one with whatever color palette you want. And no one else in town will have a wreath like yours, guaranteed.

3) I was so furiously writing last month’s list that I forgot to tell you about a wine and live auction I went to with my friend Renee. She wore these amazing shoes and I am always so impressed with her and anyone who can walk around in, let alone stand in, heels that high all night. And yes, I would if I could.

4) And oh my gosh the most exciting (exciting meaning !!!!!) part of the night happened on the way home when our Uber driver possibly/most likely saved our lives by slamming on the breaks in an intersection where we had a green light. He stopped just in time as we watched a car fly across the intersection.

We were so grateful that we didn’t even get mad when he:
A) Got pulled over by the cops for a busted headlight (Me upon seeing him pull up in his old minivan, “Ummm he has a headlight out, do you think that’s okay?”)
B) Missed the turn to my house at which point he put the car in reverse on Lakeshore Drive. (Renee upon realizing what was happening. “Ummm sir? Sir? Um, people don’t normally reverse on this street.”)

5) The freelance project I’ve been working on for months is finally done and it is beautiful! I’m not a big jewelry person (although I will take a blinged out cocktail ring if you want to give one to me), but after working with all this high-end luxurious jewelry, I’ve kind of changed my tune. Not that I can do anything about my newfound love of expensive jewelry, but hey.

6) Speaking of bling, my school auction is full speed ahead. Every so often we receive a donation from people who are moving or clearing out space in their home, etc. This interchangeable watch donation was particularly WOW, so I put it on and wore it for a couple hours at work.

I have to say that initially I tee-hee-ed about, but it did grow on me after a while because it is so beyond ridiculously quirky. And rarely does anything ever fit my skinny wrists!

7) Speaking of work, I recently read that the plastic in Keurig cups can leech into your coffee, and when ingested can act like estrogen in your body. Which means I shouldn’t be using them (I take medication that basically zaps estrogen from my body). And we only have a Keurig at work.

SO. I was all, I’m going to be so cool and European with my French press and that lasted about two days because it took so dang long and was messy to clean up.

So now it’s Trader Joe’s instant coffee for me every day after lunch. It’s quick, easy and reminds me of college. And no that is not my purse in case you were wondering, it is an auction donation if you would like to bid on it in the spring.

8) When I was at couples bowling (because we’re cool like that), I got a text from my Auntie that my mom had fallen and possibly broken her shoulder. It turns out that it was her collarbone that broke, not her shoulder, but it’s still going to be a very long and painful recovery. Send good thoughts and prayers over to her, please!

9) As I was out shopping at Barnes & Noble for my husband’s birthday present, one of the staff pointed out a book she felt he might like based on my description of what I was looking for. I knew immediately it was too magic-y for him, but it was right up my alley, so I bought it.

I am loving it so far (and i really love the cover also!) and I am about a third of the way in. If you like adventure and old London and magic, you will not be disappointed.

10) I always make an apple pie for my husband’s birthday and here it is and it was so delicious. I think I purposely block out of my mind how much I like pie so that I don’t eat it every single day of my life.

11) I dug up my dahlia tubers this month, and brought them to Detroit Abloom’s new root cellar (if you donated to the cause – THANK YOU!) to store for the winter. I am hopeful that most will make it and am already plotting out where to put what next spring.

The labeling part is tricky because if you don’t do it while the blooms are still on the plant, you risk not remembering which plant was where (oopsies).

12) This is what it looks like when you finish bowling and the dining room at the Yacht Club is closed so you end up at Irish Coffee and you are STARVING.

Thus concludes another month of Grosse Pointe life. Enjoy your December and have a wonderful holiday season!

The October List – 2017

Another frantically written list. Because life is nuts.

October wasn’t particularly quick or hectic, it’s just that I put off writing the list and then I kind of forgot about it so of course I am writing it now, when I have a freelance project due (but thank you Jesus, for the work, I am serious!) and feel an almost migrane coming on.

1) The last of the Detroit Abloom flower share bouquets were delivered the second week of October. What a season! I loved seeing the buckets of flowers on my porch every week. Already looking forward to next season, which promises to be even more exciting.

2) My own dahlias were ah-maz-ing to watch and they were in bloom all month long. There are several blooms still holding on, but the buds will not be opening, so sad.

3) I am slowly figuring out my camera. I try to take a few photos every day to practice and learn something new. I’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos, to refresh the one class I took back in high school.

I took these photos of Sam, as I was testing out different apertures. He’s an old man, but is doing very well, considering his age of almost 12. He still gets ridiculously excited about food and loves playing with his stuffies. He brings me joy and I love him sooooo much!

4) So I turned 45 this month. Waaaaah! It was a hard one for me. I’ve already gone on and on social media, so you will get spared from my lament here on the blog.

5) I escaped the woe is me stuff one evening when my friends took me to dinner at the new Corktown restaurant, Lady of the House. The ambiance is really sweet, the bar looked cozy and the Irish-inspired menu was interesting and yummy.

Definitely I would go again for the parmesan cauliflower, salad (I usually do not like getting salad at a restaurant, but this one sounded and also tasted delicious) and fried donut things.

6) Warning! If you are not yet in your 40s, take note. When you purchase the ultra magnifying light-up face mirror at Costco because your eyes are getting to where they can’t see detail very well, the first time you plug it in and look into it you are in for a surprise. You might even scream.

7) My friend Julia at Detroit Abloom made me the most beautiful flower collar for a work event I attended. It was delicate and wild and colorful and super unique.

8) This guy came to visit one weekend afternoon. Our 6-year-old spotted him. Hawk or falcon?
I just love the large birds, they are so majestic.

9) We had several wind storms come through. One nearly ruined all my dahlia blossoms, so I ran out that day and clipped them all to bring them inside. They were not going to last much longer anyway (and notice my brand new birthday-present snips in the background! Yippee!)

In another storm, the flowering pear that dropped a huge branch on our front yard a couple months before we moved in to the house, dropped another large branch. The city does not mess around and within hours, a truck was out chopping it up and a day or so later, someone else came to chop it down and a couple days after that the stump was ground up and that was that.

10) So my houseplants are doing awesome. Okay, no. These are them, waiting for the compost bag, which they miraculously found their way into after a couple of days (if you want anything put away, just put it on the back patio because that is one spot my husband does not like to see things out of place)!

Headache update: It did NOT turn into a migrane, thank goodness. Thanks to Advil, which I finally had the sense to take. Also, I prematurely published this post by clicking the Publish button instead of the Save button (which I have done SO many times before, I wish a pop-up would ask are you sure you want to publish this post, you idiot!), so to all my subscribers who got a half-written post, I am sorry! And you’ll never know because this was written after the fact!

11)  It was a relatively warm October, but the week before Halloween we got a dose of cold and of course on Halloween day and night, it was very crisp and chilly out! At least it wasn’t raining, definitely tolerable. The girls had a great time trick-or-treating and even got to keep five pieces of candy. Ahahahaha. #theyloveus

12)  Okay, so my Dad’s birthday is the same day as my birthday (actually vice versa since he was born first). And our SF sitter Alyssa also has an October birthday and for some reason when the girls made cards this year, they said Happy Birthday AND Happy Halloween and they were much more excited about the Happy Halloween portion of their cards.

Also, I’m not sure what a vampire taco is, but I never want to see one in real life.

13) An extra number because I’m so happy with my “new” office. I spent a couple days over the summer sprucing it up.

I rummaged around the building’s many storage rooms and found an old draft table that a former art teacher used to use and got rid of my old desk, swapped out my boring black chair for a cool orange one that was hiding across the hall, brought a bookcase down from the third floor, vacuumed up the homeless person who was living under my desk, bought a metal stool, threw on an IKEA sheepskin and voila!

I guess October WAS pretty jam packed, because I didn’t even get to tell you about The Garden Detroit fundraiser or the Bees in the D honey that is quintessential honey tasting, I mean just divine.

Maybe I’ll put those in another post, but chances are, I’ll turn around and it will be November and time for another list already. The leaves are finally giving us a display of beautiful Fall color. They took their time this year changing, but they are out in full force now.

I appreciate all you readers! Have a great November!

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