Flowers of Detroit Abloom – Part II

The busier I get, the more I want to get done, even if it has nothing to do with why I’m busy in the first place, if that makes any sense. Clearing my plate, clearing my mind, doing things that I’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t gotten around to yet, like this post.

Detroit Abloom has had such an exciting season this year, its second year. I’ve only been able to volunteer about once a week, compared to 2-3 times a week last year, but I am grateful for the time I do get to spend at the garden.

Some of the new varieties growing this year are lisianthus (upper pic), pink and yellow and straw flowers (just above), whose petals literally feel like straw.

And pink and white calla lilies. Beautiful pops of color in a bed of deep green leaves.

I think we may have had sweet pea flowers last year, but certainly not in the quantities we had this year. This bouquet was made from the last harvest. I was sad to see them go.

The sunflowers are exploding this year.

The prettiest, fluffiest gladiolas in town.

The lavender plants are just stunning in full bloom. And their scent is magnificent.

Butterflies love the liatris.

And the zinnias are always happy and bright.

The most spectacular bloom I’ve seen so far this year has to be this chocolate sunflower. Pretty in a picture, but in person it was just wow.

If I’m at the farm on harvest day, I waste so much time taking photos. It’s hard not to.

And the result of harvest day, beautiful bouquets.

I hope that wherever you are, you are enjoying the flowers around your city, town, neighborhood and your own backyard. If you’re curious about flower farming, there may be a farm nearby that you aren’t even aware of. Some online digging will help unearth these hidden gems, where you can volunteer your time, purchase local flowers (or produce) and get to know some wonderful people. Be well, friends!

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The July List – 2017

It’s August tomorrow – whaaaat!? First of all, I am writing this while on vacation in upstate New York, although you would hardly know it was a vacation because I have been working the entire time, but that’s neither here nor there. What I was starting to say is that I’m sitting here after having spent a restless nights’ sleep, a morning berry picking (how many squats did I do looking for those darn raspberries?), an afternoon in the sun and now I’m sipping Prosecco (recommended by the woman at the local liquor shop), which is surprisingly “not too sweet” as I had requested.

Current view.

SO. Please excuse any typos or ramblings or anything that plain just doesn’t make sense because I am running on empty and also relaxed, if one can be both at the same time.

1)  July went by crazy fast. I wouldn’t even know what happened if I didn’t have photos to look at. Fourth of July weekend was really exciting for us this year because it was the first year our littlest was able to stay awake long enough to see the fireworks show. We walked down Lake Shore Boulevard and found a nice spot. I sipped on my homemade craft cocktail, while the girls chased fireflies.

2)  We spent the 4th with family by the pool (not ours). The hammock is always a big hit, although not with me. I’m not a big hammock lover, although I do like the idea of it, but whenever I get in it, I find it uncomfortable and not soothing.

3)  My little vegetable garden that is somewhat neglected did well by way of lettuce, kale and sweet peas (although something ate the bottom of the plant in the second row so they all died. Weird).

My green onions were better than last year, but still very scraggly, and the carrots actually look decent, but we pulled one up and it was so small. Can still eat the greens, though.

4)  The onions at The Garden Detroit, however, are gorgeous. We planted several varieties and they are all delicious.

And I just cannot get enough of our curly kale. My favorite thing is to eat it raw with some cheese (any kind will do, but feta or goat cheese are my favorite kale combos) homemade super-tangy vinaigrette.

5)  The fam stopped at Mike’s on the Water one Saturday afternoon for lunch. I’d been there before, but it has been a couple years. It was packed, so the wait was long. Thankfully there was good people-watching, so I was able to amuse myself. It’s not a place I’d go for the food, but definitely a spot I’d go back to for a casual drink by the water.

6)  Speaking of water, I’ve spent a good chunk of time at the Yacht Club pool, due to swimming lessons (for the girls) and sometimes just to hang out and enjoy the weather.

One Sunday afternoon, I was able to get some significant reading done, while my husband was with the girls in the water. I haven’t been able to really read by the pool in years, so it was amazing. I’m still in a suspense phase, so I was reading “The Widow” by Fiona Barton. I enjoyed it. Good writing, interesting characters and not too creepy.

7)   My book group has taken somewhat of a summer hiatus from committed reading, but we are still getting together once a month, which has been nice. There is always food and wine. Because can you have a book group without food and wine? If you can, I want no part in it.

8) I started doing freelance writing for my first local client (woo-hoo!) Ahee Jewelers, a local shop that has been family run for 70 years. I’m always happy to stop by because it is a beautiful space, not to mention the refreshments table. And no I don’t always take a cookie, but sometimes I do.

9)  On a particularly stressful day, I was at The Garden Detroit headquarters (our Directors’ home) and the flower farm gals let me partake in their succulent jewelry-making. Oh my gosh. You guys, it is just so unique and pretty and so wow. This is the one I made using both dried flowers and tiny succulents. How can your stress level not go down after making something like this, right?

10)  I made my first official Detroit Abloom bouquet this month. The process was at first intimidating, but ultimately fun, as I slowly got the hang of it. Working with flowers is so balancing, I feel.

11)  I won’t even go into my three haircuts I had this month. One of which I did myself because I wanted edgy and got soccer mom and I really, really didn’t want soccer mom, so I had to do edgy myself. I have to say that on my way to get my DIY haircut evened out, I got a compliment from a clerk at Trader Joes (good ole TJs). She loooved my hair. So there.

And no, that’s not me in the photo clearly, but I figured you’d much rather see a picture of my daughter dancing as the sun goes down.

12)  I went to the Detroit City Distillery for the first time as part of a girls’ night out. It had a good vibe and the drinks were delicious. Our bartender was great and made me a drink based on what I told her I liked. It was perfect.

That’s a wrap. Enjoy your August!

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The June List – 2017

Beignets from the truck at Eastern Market. A summertime favorite.

It’s officially summer! I’m so happy for predictably hot weather and al fresca dining and lazy days.

1.  My baking instincts always kick in during the summer. Probably because of all the fresh fruit available, which makes me want to eat shortcakes and scones and pies. A quiche is always a great place to stash all the fresh produce I get from The Garden. Our chard was beautiful this year and I love Deborah Madison’s saffron quiche recipe.

My friend Julia went to the Ann Arbor farmer’s market and brought back a flat of strawberries for me. The girls helped me chop up the berries and I made our first strawberry shortcakes of the season. The Michigan strawberry season is pretty much over now, but that won’t stop me from making more shortcakes over the summer with store-bought organic berries.

And then at the bottom of the freezer I found the last of our New York-picked blueberries, so I made scones and tried a batch with strawberries, which came our really yummy.

2.  At the Garden this month, we had beautiful speckled and romaine lettuces, which have now all gone to seed, though I have a few leaves left in the fridge.

And also garlic scapes, the flower of a garlic plant that you cook and eat pretty much like you do garlic – stir fries, egg scrambles, pizza, whatever. I like them grilled.

3.  In our own little vegetable garden, we enjoyed a few peas and lots of mixed lettuce greens. The kale is still going strong and we’re hoping the carrots will be ready to pick in a couple of weeks. The green onions look very scraggly and sad, but they look a lot better than the ones I planted last year, which ultimately did not make it.

4.  The rhododendrons I cut back too far two years ago are finally coming back! They were beautiful this year and look healthy and happy. Our azaleas were also abundant this year.

5.  I still want to try growing peonies, but there are only a few spots in our yard that are sunny enough and those spots are full now with dahlias from Detroit Abloom.

They are doing well, but the bunnies keep eating the leaves and I’ve run out of netting and truthfully too lazy to go out and get more, so I’m just hoping for the best on the unprotected ones.

Back to peonies. I found some on my walk one morning growing along the side of someone’s house, which I thought was such a waste of beauty because they were tucked in a pedestrian alley that not many people walk along. Maybe the owners come out and pick them to enjoy inside. I hope so because they were gorgeous.

6.  It’s also spider season and we have a contract with a spider spray company, but they haven’t come by this year, so I don’t know what’s up with that. My Dad and his wife were here for a visit this month and we got to talking about brown recluse spiders, so whenever I see one in the house, I’m convinced it’s a brown recluse that is just waiting for an opportunity to bite me.

For sure there is a huge one in our basement, that lives at the bottom of the stairs. I would vacuum it up, but I’m afraid it will A) make a home in the vacuum dust bin and bite me when I go to empty it or B) I won’t be able to catch it and then it will be angry that I tried to catch it, making it vengeful and therefore out to get me.

7.  I’ve been going to weekly classes at Jabs Gym, which I’ve mentioned here before. I’m not a big sweat-er, but I always leave that class a hot sweaty mess.

What I haven’t mentioned is that I recently discovered that I pretty much can’t do jumping jacks anymore without peeing myself. Or jump squats. Or high knees. Getting older is so amazing! Reading glasses, peeing myself in cardio boxing, and finding several white hairs on my head (which I’ve never had except one strange time in my 20s) – all in a matter of weeks!

There’s a motto written on the wall, which I reworded to make my own.

If I take an earlier class, I always stop downstairs at Beyond Juice and treat myself to a Mango Tango smoothie and sometimes their cashew ball cookies.

8.  Anyhoo. Have you seen the curtains in our master bathroom!? If not, here they are in all their handbag glory. Before you start thinking I’ve lost my mind, they were left behind by the previous owners of the house. I used to hate them, but am now quite attached to them.

9.  My friend Kacy invited me to her husband Arlin’s (www.arlingraff.com) mural reveal party in West Village. He’s painted murals around the world, but this is his first Detroit mural.

The painting is really cool and is a lively addition to the small strip of businesses on the street (including the well-known Sister Pie). It sits on the wall of Detroit Body Garage, where I just took a class yesterday. If you are in the area, check it out!

A home in West Village.

10.  The following week I met up with Terra, owner of Detroit Body Garage, to talk about bringing a group of volunteers to the Garden. I walked her back to her apartment and then just took an hour to myself to have coffee and sit, an experience I rarely allow myself anymore.

Red Hook coffee is a cute little shop with great baked goods (I’m picky and most things elsewhere are too sweet) and their coffee is good. I got a lavender syrup shot, which they make in-house, in my macchiato, which was interesting, but I’m a traditionalist when it comes to coffee, so I probably wouldn’t get it again.

Across the street is beautiful mural by Detroit artis Ouizi. It’s a lovely thing to look at when you’re taking a minute for yourself.

11.  Coincidentally, the next day a group of us went to dinner at Craft Work, which is right next door to Red Hook. My husband and I had never been and we enjoyed the ambiance. Food was good, but you had to know what to get, which we didn’t. My appetizers were delicious, but I should have gotten the burger, which I’ve heard is fantastic, instead of the polenta, which was a little tasteless and dry.

12.  In mid June, my husband and I went to a white party fundraiser for an organization that throws celebration-of-life parties for kids who are terminally ill. There were many touching presentations and our table bid on a bunch of things and we came home with this painting, which is a little crazy, but I love it.

Tonight is the local fireworks display. Not sure if the little one will be able to stay up late enough, but we’re going to try. Hope all you good people have a great July 4th holiday and continue to enjoy your summer!

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The Flowers of Detroit Abloom

If you’re new to the blog, I work with a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization called The Garden Detroit. Last year we had a beautiful garden on several vacant lots, and a seasonal CSA vegetable program. This year we have less manpower and our wooden arbor fell during a winter storm, which really set us back in terms of being able to grow vegetables for a bunch of people.

Harvesting Stock

Because our flower farm project, Detroit Abloom gained a lot of popularity in its first year, coupled with the fact that the lots that project is housed in are actually owned by our organization (no fear of the city taking the land away), we decided to concentrate on that project this season.

One of the CSA bouquets.

Detroit Abloom has CSA bouquet shares, special events, farmers markets and also sells their bouquets at The Farmer’s Hand in Corktown. I believe we still have a couple slots left on our second CSA season, so go to www.detroitabloom.com for more information and to sign up if you live in the area!

Julia watering Larkspur and other flowers in the hoop house.

We held a fundraiser last winter and made just enough to install our new hoop house, which the plants are thriving  in.

Cut flowers for CSA bouquets

It’s been amazing to work more with flowers this year. I’m learning so much about cultivation and the different names and features of the flowers from Nancy and Julia, who run the program. It’s difficult to work without stopping to take photos. I have taken hundreds already this season and here are some of my favorites.

Purple stocks – doubles and singles

Doubles, with some singles hiding in back.

Doubles.

Before this year, I didn’t even realize Stock was the name of a flower. If you told me to guess what a Stock flower looked like, I would have zero idea. The gals planted doubles and singles in the same bed (the seeds came all mixed together, if I’m remembering correctly) and it’s interesting to see the differences between the two.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the iris, but our varieties are unusual and stunning. Still not in my top ten, but I have much respect for these elegant flowers.

Sunflowers are just so….sunny and fun and happy.

While sweet peas are wispy and wild and delicate.

Nutmeg the cat roams the hoop house during the day, often taking a rest in the Larkspur.

Chantilly snaps are also lovely, and abundant at our Manistique property.

We’re only a few weeks into our first season and I’ve already seen so much beauty. Can’t wait to see what unfolds over the course of the summer into early fall!

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The Naples Florida List – 2017

Adult vacation – woohoo! The first real one since our honeymoon. When I found out we were able to go, I was beyond excited. An entire weekend of sun and relaxation and friends. I mean, I was giddy.

Plus, I’ve never been to Florida! Which is a big deal because everyone here has been at least once, and many people have homes/condos there, where they escape to during colder months. I remember all my New York relatives driving down to Florida each each, wondering what it was like.

1)  We took a really early flight (woke up at 5:30am), which was harsh, but once we got going, not too bad. Plus, thanks to Delta miles, we flew first class. As soon as we got on the plane, my husband ordered a vodka soda because 1. adult weekend 2. rockstar. That’s my plain hot water next to his big boy drink.

2)  Even though I need to be medicated to fly, I love looking down at the landscape on takeoff and landing. It was neat seeing the little channels/outlets (don’t even school me on the terms, I will not remember) and it reminded me of all the books and movies set in the Florida everglades (which I’d love to explore on another trip).

3)  My girlfriend invited eight of us (including her and husband) to stay at her parents’ condo in Naples. Long story short – water damage, mold – we ended up staying in another condo in that same building, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that we stayed in Naples, in a condo along the beach. The weather was hot hot hot and I welcomed it with arms wide open.

4)  First stop: a leisurely lunch across the street. I can’t remember what I had but I was hungry and finished it and also finished off my friend’s pizza (“are you going to eat that?” classy.), so it must have been delicious.

5)  After that, we hung out on the beach for several hours. The Gulf was probably the warmest water I have been in. I hate being cold and I hate being in cold water, but I love being in warm water, so it was a nice surprise for me because I could get in and enjoy it right away!

6)  I spent some time alone, walking along the shore, looking at and collecting shells for the girls. The sand was powdery white.

Image result for italian restaurant naples florida campiello

Not my photo – grabbed off Pinterest.

7)  We went to the best Italian restaurant for dinner – Campiello – in the very quaint downtown area. They had homemade pasta, which I of course ordered and loved. I think I was one of the youngest people there which was awesome.

Apparently Naples is pretty fancy and also (and probably also because it’s fancy) there’s a large population of retired folks who have homes there. Also, it was the off-season which meant that many people were not in town. Whatever the reason, I actually felt young, which has not happened in a while.

8)  Naples sunsets are gorgeous.

9)  The next day was my friend’s birthday. The night before, we (by we I mean everyone but me because I was asleep) decorated the condo to surprise her in the morning. It was really cute.

 

9)  The guys went golfing (it was in the 90s – eek! Not sure how they survived, but they did) while the girls went to yoga, then brunch downtown and window shopped and grabbed coffee. It was so nice to be leisurely and not have any plans.

10)  Before pre-dinner cocktails, I popped in to the condo’s free library/book exchange and spent way more time there than I’d planned. I found three books that I had to have. One that I’ve been wanting to read – Dead Wake by Erik Larson about the Lusitania. Love, love, loved his book Devil in the White City. Read it if you haven’t.

Speaking of cocktails, because 1. adult weekend and 2. rockstar, my girlfriend packed a whole suitcase filled with drink supplies. I thought she was joking when she posted something on Instagram, but as it turns out, she bubble wrapped simple syrup, fresh lime juice from Farms Market, and a plethora of other things. Hysterical. But also amazing.

11) On our last full day, we rented a boat and took it I don’t even know where…to a little spot that is usually not as busy as it was (Memorial Day weekend), but we found a spot and docked.

I loved seeing the birds’ nests on the signs as we drove along. Oh and we saw dolphins!! Oh my gosh, it was…so fun to see the pair of them playing. One of the highlights for sure.

I also liked seeing a lot of plant life that was new and different to me. Some of them reminded me of Hawaii plants.

We saw a bunch of pelicans on our boat trip. I so love pelicans. They’re so prehistoric-looking. Kind of goofy up close, but when they are in flight, they look really cool

12)  Seven hours later, we pull up for dinner at a Mexian place called Mr. Tequila. A bunch of people ordered their signature drink, which is a margarita with an upside-down Corona in it. Ay carumba. I did not partake, thankfully.

13)  I was so relaxed and happy that I didn’t even take my mediation on the flight home. Big mistake. The screen showed two minutes to landing and 3000 feet (or something like that), then all of a sudden, lots of turbulence and a quick ascent into the sky and a big turn and more turbulence and I was freaking. OUT.

I know stuff like this happens all the time and of course it was the pilot being safe and not landing in a storm, but still. The only saving grace (besides the fact that we landed with our lives intact) was the phenomenal view of the storm over downtown Detroit. Photos do not capture the powerful beauty of that view. I had to muster all my inner strength to bend down and fish around for my camera and snap a pic. All the while, digging my nails into my husband’s arm.

Except for those last few minutes of the plane ride back, our trip went by in a flash. If your friend ever invites you to Florida, please say yes!

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The May List – 2017

May was a whirlwind.  Here’s the list.

1) We have bees at our Garden / Detroit Abloom lots courtesy of our friend Brian over at Bees in the D, and we are super geeked out about them. I have yet to learn how to care for them, but Brian is planning on hosting a workshop soon.

2) This month at Detroit Abloom, our anemones bloomed. I have soooo many favorite flowers, but they are one of my surprise favorites. Surprise because I usually go for pale colors and fluffy things like peonies. Anemones are mysterious and moody, but also bright and happy, depending on the light.

3) In my own garden, the lilac bloomed and they did not disappoint. I got a little carried away (per usual) with the loppers and trimming of the lilac tree as evidenced by the photo above, but there is still plenty of lilac tree left and it was fun to have some inside, even though they only lasted a few days.

4) I often stop to look over the fence into Shirley’s garden. I remember her taking me on a tour of it, telling me the names of all the different plants and pointing out her favorites. It makes me smile to see that her garden still looks so much nicer than mine, even in her absence. Sign of a great gardener. Her plants feel at home. Her garden helper does still comes over on occasion to fertilize or weed (and throw plants over the fence for me) which is nice to see.

5) Can we talk about potato chips for a second? I seriously am obsessed with them. In fact, right now I’m eating some Kettle brand (my favorite) pepperoncini chips (taste is okay, but I prefer plain. Or cheddar) with my sour cream-based ranch dip and I’m scared to look in the bag to see how much is left (not much). I can’t buy them or I’ll eat them but obviously I did both today. Whenever I go to a party and I spy chips (especially with french onion dip), I pretty much stay within a three feet of them at all times. What’s your party food weakness?

6) My husband and I celebrated our 9th anniversary this month. Our five year old presented me with this sweet card the morning of.

7) To celebrate, we went to dinner at a new restaurant (which there are so many of in Detroit nowadays) downtown called Parc Detroit. I’d been wanting to go for some time. It was lively and somewhat loud, but the service was good. The food wasn’t over-the-top delicious, but it was yummy enough. I got some kind of lobster pasta (if there is pasta on the menu, it’s mine. Always.) tossed in cream sauce, and the portion was large enough to allow me to enjoy some the next day for lunch.

8) The school where I work held its auction this month and whew! Glad it is over, but it was fun working on it and seeing it all come together.

I got to wear the 7.5 carat diamond earrings we were auctioning off in the live portion for a hot second. Photos do not do them justice, but trust me, they were fabulous. I mean, here I am at a reception where I know less than half the people there, listening to someone give a speech, and I am beaming. It has to be the earrings. And maybe the champagne.

9) Speaking of alcohol, my girlfriend brought her ….I don’t even know what to call it, cooler purse?…with her to the auction. Because why not. It was filled with simple syrup and juice and mini cans of Sofia by Coppola champagne and after I tried the house white, I stopped making fun of her and asked her to please make me a cocktail.

10) I read The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware this month. It’s a fun thriller, I suppose you could call it. Fun because it wasn’t gruesome or morbid or too dark and most of it took place on a luxury yacht. Not very literary, so if you’re looking for a GOOD book, this is not it, but it is a page-turner and something to zone out on. Beach read.

This photo was taken one day when my husband saw that I was frazzled with the girls and took them to his mom’s house for a couple hours. I’d been with them all morning and they were so whiny that day and uncooperative and I was so giddy to have some time alone that I made coffee and one of my favorite snacks and sat on the couch with my book.

11)  Speaking of books, after my yoga class one Friday morning (held at a church) I walk by and see that the gym is filled with tables of books. I cannot walk by a book sale without stopping and I ended up staying there for a whole hour (carrying my yoga mat the entire time. why?) and left with a set of children’s encyclopedias from the 80s ($5.00!) and about eight great (I think. I hope) paperbacks, each for a dollar or less.

12) I almost forgot about one of the best things I did this month, which was to teach my daughter’s class a Hawaiian song (Pearly Shells) and hula moves to go along with it. I was so nervous about learning the song on the ukulele and of course singing and teaching it. Which was just silly because the kids were super attentive and funny and so excited to learn something new and I left with my heart feeling so full.

I hope your May was filled with many memorable moments as well. I leave you with this gem from the Public Safety section of our newspaper. Can’t we all just get along?

Also, I went to Florida for the first time, which I will recap that in another post! Happy Happy June, y’all!

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