The May List – 2021

We are still in the throws of puppy madness here, so May is mostly a blur of white fluff.

1) Obi is now 12 weeks and 25 pounds. He wakes up in the morning at 5:30 am, which is still WAY too early for me, but much better than last month, which had me waking up around 4:45 am on average.

2) He’s learning a few commands. Strangely he does “wait” better than “sit” on verbal command, though he knows sitting is polite behavior and does it often when he wants something.

3) The school’s annual auction was held in person this month. It was exhilarating and also terrifying to attend something so…normal. I was slightly un-nerved with Covid in the back of my mind, but ultimately had a good time and was happy the event raised a lot of money for the school.

4) The next day was Mother’s Day. We celebrated with a takeout brunch from Marrow, one of my favorite Detroit restaurants. There was cinnamon rolls and smoked salmon and quiche and a delicious burrata salad, which was beautiful with fresh flower petals and pea shoots and tangerine slices.

5) My 9-year-old gave me a Mother’s Day sheet she filled out at school. Best ever.

6) The day after Mother’s Day was our 13th wedding anniversary. I always dig up photos from the wedding around our anniversary date to reminisce. It was such a perfect day.

7) I found another engaging Podcast. CounterClock is a deep dive into cold cases. The journalist and podcast host does a great job explaining the background and exploring all avenues of the case. She pushes hard for authorities to take a new look at the cases, so she’s actually doing something beneficial vs simply telling a story.

8) I’ve stepped away a bit from photography for mental health reasons. It’s one of the things I love most, yet still when I get a paid gig, it stresses me out somewhat. When it’s my own work on my own time, it’s never a problem. Hopefully as the work load dies down this summer, I’ll have more time to be zen in my creative work.

I did squeeze in a First Communion shoot for a friend in early May :)

9) Two moms saved the day when it came to my daughter’s dance recital this month. Very detailed instructions called for a “low bun” which I have no idea how to make. Luckily, my friend Tone has lots of experience making hair buns, and agreed to come over to help. But I would need a hair net. Ummmm….right.

This was two days before the recital and in a panic, I posted to a local mom Facebook group and a wonderful gal who was in the same boat and had scrambled the day before to find her own hair net gave me one of hers. It all turned out great, but I forgot to take a photo of the awesome hairdo!

10) Our 12-year-old daughter was presented with the Language Arts / Literature award for the 6th grade and I could not be happier, given my own passion for writing and literature. SUPER proud mom moment.

11) An Instagram account I follow mentioned this book in tribute to Asian Pacific American Heritage month (May), so I decided to pick up a copy from the library myself. It isn’t something I’d normally gravitate towards, but it was nice to read something different. The main character was vulnerable in a likeable way and the writing was very good, it was just a bit of an odd story, with a fish-man drawing obsession of the main character being a central focal point.

12) Spring is definitely here. Flowers are beginning to bloom, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at my irises because THE DOG ATE THEM ALL.

We’ve given up on trying to garden this year. I sadly won’t be purchasing any new plants because they will likely get trampled or rolled around in, but I’m enjoying what I can. Which is none of my lilies, half of my bleeding heart, and it looks like my daisies, bee balm and hydrangea will make it!

Ironically it is in the 40s today and not very Spring-like at all. Which is to say it’s a very typical Michigan day. There is always, always, at least ONE more really cold day after I tell myself “this is the last cold day of the season!”

Cannot wait for June. It’s been a long school year. Here’s to sunshine and sleeping in (HA. not going to happen) and barbeques. Cheers, friends.

The April List – 2021

I’m sure lots happened in April, but I’ve lost most of my memories this month because the puppy came to join us a week ago and I’ve been transported back to when I had a newborn, which is to say I’m a functioning zombie.

1) The Detroit Abloom Spring flower share started this month. I love, love, love seeing all the buckets on my porch and choosing one for myself. Ranunculus (one of my favorite flowers) and tulips are in season right now and they are spectacular.

2) I made ramen noodles. I know I did because there’s a photo on my phone telling me so. I still can’t get the broth right. I need to buy some more miso and figure it out. Even when I do have miso, I think my main issue is that I don’t put enough in, therefore not enough salt and everything is bland and then I end up putting so much hot sauce in it that I can’t really taste anything else.

3. I live for my after-lunch espressos. Especially when I throw in a teaspoon of Milk Street’s Mexican Mocha coffee sugar, which is essentially just sugar and chocolate and prob cayenne pepper and whatever else. So can’t I just make this myself for cheaper? YES. Will I do so? NO.

My second favorite coffee accoutrement is the coconut whipped cream I found at Trader Joes. I have been limiting sweets, but at 10 calories per tablespoon, that’s pretty much zero calories, right?

If I really want to treat myself, I break off a piece of Mama Honey Mama’s cocoa/coconut bar, which my friend Anna introduced to me last year during lockdown. The stuff is cuckoo expensive, but worth it. I definitely ration mine.

4) Huddle soft serve ice cream is a new-ish fixture in Detroit. I’ve been meaning to go downtown to check them out for some time, but like many other places I want to try, I just haven’t made it there yet. For a limited time, they offered ube (purple sweet potato) ice cream and my co-worker whose daughter works there hooked me up with a few half pints! Yummeeeeee!!!

5) It snowed on April 21. WHAT IN THE WORLD.

6) I got my hair cut at the lovely Village Parlor for the second time and was just as pleased with the service/cut as the first time. My 12-year-old had a cut right before me (her second ever salon cut. The first one was when she was two and it did not go well), so I brought a book to read while I waited.

This one was really good. Part sci-fi, part thriller, and a teeny, teeny part chic lit, but just barely. It was an intelligent page-turner. Fun read. I believe I saw the cover either on Instagram somewhere or a Facebook reading group and was intrigued. Knew nothing about the plot but ordered it from the library and after reading, discovered that the author won a Hugo award, which makes sense.

7) I forgot to mention this book that I read I think in February? I loved it. I almost didn’t pick it up because of the obnoxious cover. I mean it looks like the worst kind of Lifetime movie, does it not? I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t pinpoint why I liked it so much, but I can say that it took me back to my childhood of getting sucked into a story. It was enchanting, I supposed.

I picked up another of her books from the library last week and am curious to see if it is similar. It does have a similarly terrible book cover.

8) And one final book recommendation, which I just finished last night, “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.” It was witty in a dry, sarcastic way, which appeals to me. The characters were quirky and odd and flawed. I found the writing style refreshing.

9) My newest podcast. Anatomy of a Murder. Which is in a format I don’t usually like, which is one story within each episode, but I don’t mind this one. They analyze homicide cases. Yes, morbid, but interesting. I learned just today on my morning walk that the number one cause of death in pregnant women is homicide.

10) And now for the puppy! We agreed on a name, finally. Basically, Lucy and I relented our number one pick, Watson, for Obi, a name that all of us liked.

This is what he was used to before coming home with us.
Obi, 9 weeks old

11) We brought Obi home on Friday, April 23 and our lives have been chaos ever since. Actually, during the day he is pretty good. He is very eager to learn and train during mealtimes and luckily I remember a lot of our training from when Sam was little.

He hates his crate with a passion and therefore putting him to bed at night is a challenge. One night I (husband was out during that time) he barked for 40 minutes straight. That was the worst. Usually he gets up twice a night to pee, and I’m on night duty, so I pick him up and run him down the stairs (if he gets much heavier, this is going to be a problem) and out the door, and then quickly back in the crate, at which time he whines for a couple minutes, which I will take over barking for 40 minutes any day.

Knowing that puppyhood was going to be hard doesn’t make it less hard.

12) One funny thing about Obi is where he chooses to sleep. He prefers hard surfaces to soft, for one thing. Mostly he sleeps by his water and food dishes (although he rarely gets food in his food dish since we’re usually training during meals). But sometimes he plops down on the mat outside or up against a cabinet.

That’s a wrap. Nothing profound to share this month. Looking forward to nicer weather and more sleep. Happy May!

The March List – 2021

Brain officially fried. No good reason. I’m writing this on Spring Break, so you’d think the opposite would be true – that I’d be recharged and energized, but alas. Also WordPress did another update so now a really weird font is showing up as my default and I don’t know how to change it so excuse that.

1) Let’s start with the best news, which is that we are adding a puppy to our family! I mean I can pretty much just end the list here.

It’s been two years since Sam left us. The girls have been ready for another dog for almost as long, I’ve been ready for over a year and the husband finally caved, which means he’s reluctantly ready. Yay! When he initially gave the ‘okay,’ I started seeing (visualizing, especially at night when I was tired) Sam and grieving him again, but that didn’t last long.

2) We surprised the girls by planning a road trip to Cincinnati. The puppy and littermates live about halfway between Grosse Pointe and Cincinnati, and the girls and I have never been there so we thought it would be a nice Spring Break activity. Normally we go to Hawaii to visit my family, but dumb Covid hacked our plans yet again this year.

We told the girls the night before that we were actually taking the trip because we wanted to visit our new puppy. They weren’t jump-in-the-air excited, I think because they weren’t sure if it was real and needed to process the news as truth. We’d been saying no for so long! After it sunk in, they were thrilled of course and we looked at all the pictures I’d been getting of the pups since they were born in late February.

3) Answers to your burning questions:

a. Boy

b. No. When we visited the puppies they were too little. Meaning their personalities hadn’t started to show and it would have been impossible to choose which one would fit best with our family. We have first pick of the boys (there are six!) and we will do that when the pups are around 6.5 weeks or so.

c. English Golden Retriever. Which basically is a Golden Retriever with a heftier build and blockier head.

d. Found the breeder online. They are a family of five who have experience raising and socializing puppies. Their momma dog Hope has the sweetest disposition.

e. Of course we haven’t picked a name. We have two kids with strong opinions and we are two adults with equally strong opinions, although the husband seems to be less and less inclined to need to weigh in. Which means we might end up with my top pick after all.

f. We bring him home at the end of April.

4) Cincinnati was great. I didn’t realize it was such a hip city (sorry, Ohio!). Great neighborhoods and a lively downtown. We actually stayed across the river in Covington, Kentucky (another fact I didn’t know – that Cincinnati was literally across the river from Kentucky, which in itself was a cool, pictureque, town.

The day we checked in to our hotel it was sunny and warm. Rained all night and we woke up to a cold morning. There is a Jimmy John’s across the street as you can see in the pic, but we really didn’t come across many chains at all.

5) We loved all the murals, too. So many good ones that I wasn’t able to catch on camera.

6) Finished two books this month. “Lions of Fifth Avenue” was…fine. I enjoyed, just not sure I’d recommend, as it didn’t grip me in any sort of memorable way.

It’s about a family (weaves between two generations) who lives in the New York Library, which apparently did happen historically at one point. It was a reference library – can’t check out books. Anyway, the family’s last name was Lyons. And there were lion statues flanking the library, who weren’t mentioned but in one or two sentences, so I’m super annoyed that the title was spelled Lions and not Lyons. The book had nothing to do with lions. Absurd.

7) “Confessions of a Bookseller” is the sequel to the book I read a few months ago, “Diary of a Bookseller.” As expected, it was not as good as the first, but if you read and found the first one entertaining, you will like this one. Reading it made me want to travel and meet interesting people. It also makes me want to make more friends with quirky characters, which believe it or not, are a bit difficult to find here in Grosse Pointe.

8) The husband brought in an Amazon package a couple weeks ago with my name on it and I said “I didn’t order anything.” Then I thought I must have ordered something, and that the something was either super dumb or not actually needed since I didn’t remember ordering it.

But it was not dumb, nor was it not needed. My girlfriend Erin had sent me this beautiful book as a random I love you gift. The sweetest. I have been following this account on Instagram for years. Her arrangements are swoon-worthy and her flower farm is my dream office environment.

9) Podcast choices are still on the darker side. “Taking Alex” was an intriguing true crime story about a man and woman who went missing, then were found naked, one of them dead. The person in jail is adamant they did not commit the crime and there are many strange incidents surrounding the case.

I love the true crime, but hate when cases aren’t clearly solved. I’ve started listening to Case Closed, a true crime podcast where cases are, in fact, closed. Although still not always as tidy as one would like.

10) It’s spring. Yay! Which means a-hole grackles and redwinged blackbirds. They are everywhere. I promise you the other day on my walk they were taunting me and planning an attack as I walked (then ran) down my block.

My girlfriend Lisa swears by this electo sonic something or other device that scares off these types of birds and I looked it up and yes, it’s a thing. But it’s a thing that costs a few hundred dollars, which I’m not willing to gamble on. So I went with the $13-dollar solution from Amazon.

If it is not immediately obvious, it is a blow-up balloon with large, shiny eyes that scares away blackbirds and grackes. So….yeah. I’m sure they are totally working and that next month there will be zero grackles and redwinged blackbirds in our yard.

PS – Yes, that is snow on the arbivitaes and yes, that is a recent photo. Eye roll.

11) Puzzles, blah, blah, blah nerd, blah, blah, introvert, blah blah, pandemic stress reliever.

But I did find some coworkers to exchange puzzles with! Shauna in maintenance and Henry in the cafeteria both do puzzles – who knew!? The two puzzles we’ve (90% me, 10% kids) done so far are courtesty of Shauna. I was also more than happy to unload some of my boxes to Henry before break.

Aunt Irene and mom at our wedding. 2008

12) My beloved – as in deeply, intimately loved – Aunt Irene passed away this week. She was 85. There are so many words I can use to describe her. She was strong, passionate, effervescent, confident, opinionated but empathetic. Creative, talented, fun, musical. Sharing what she loved with others – her pond, her music, her family, her friends, stories of her travels – brought her so much joy. And I will never forget her roaring laugh. She was not afraid to show emotion and she showed it big. She truly lived life to the fullest and for that I am grateful and happy.

Although we aren’t related by blood (she was married to my Dad’s brother) she’s never been anything but 100% family. I am grieving slowly, which I’m thinking is out of pure necessity (kids have been around – spring break – I’m tired, stressful work stuff, brain spent, puppy prep anxiety, I have this weird jaw clenching thing going on, etc.) and one more thing will just end me. I know I will think about her daily for a long, long time.

I’m thrilled we have a new puppy to look forward to. It’s a bright spot in our otherwise hectic lives…. even in this second year of the pandemic we’ve managed to make our lives hectic again. *sigh* Spring is my favorite season, and I’m sure as the garden gets greener with each day that our spirits will lift a little bit each day as well.

Happy Easter and Happy April!

The February List – 2021

1.Aside from work, which was crazy busy, February was mellow. Snow, snow and more snow. A little at a time, for the most part, which was nice. As I think I’ve mentioned, I have lunch and recess duty this year at the preschool. The kids go outside unless it’s 10 degrees or lower, so yeah, I’ve been COLD.

2. The one time we did get enough snow for a snow day, we had the day off anyway as part of our winter break / Presidents’ Day long weekend. The 9-year-old was excited to help her dad shovel. You can see the result of her hard work, above. :)

3. I received my first Covid-19 vaccine shot! As a child care/school worker I am eligible in the state of Michigan. Our county was one of the last ones to get organized, but we finally got the call, so on a snowy Saturday morning, I waited in line (I roughly counted and there were about 80 people in front of me. Luckily, we were all in decent spirits and the line moved pretty quickly.

Nervous to get my second shot, as I’ve heard mixed reviews and it seems like a crapshoot on who is going to react and who isn’t, much like the virus itself. Fingers crossed. And I am sorry for all of you who are qualified (including my Dad) who haven’t been able to secure a spot yet. It’s frustrating. Fingers crosse for you, too.

4. Our oldest turned 12 this month! Goodness. I made coconut cupcakes and banana bread and we ordered pepperoni pizza and she finally got the Nintendo Switch that she’s been asking for because Covid and because we are suckers and because we just CANNOT someimes so please occupy yourselves in whatever way possible.

5. Book group read “We Were Liars” this month. It reads like a typical Young Adult book, edgy, artsy, raw, almost to the point of trying too hard…but I gave it a chance and ended up really liking it. Parts felt like poetry (not mindblowing poetry, just poetry), which I appreciated, and it was a really great depiction of what it feels like to be a teenager/young adult. There’s a lot to discuss, which is more than I can say for some of the other books we’ve read.

6. More puzzles because pandemic.

7. We did a couple non-pandemic-y things that made me feel almost normal again. Bowling alleys reopened at the beginning of the month. We bowled at the Yacht Club once with two families and had the place to ourselves (I felt completely safe and relaxed, SO nice), and secondly with our couples bowling “league” (I use that term lightly), which….felt meh on the safe scale and I was therefore not super relaxed. BUT….I’m glad we went. It was amazing to be out.

8. For couples bowling they gave us complimentary truffles and chocolate strawberries as welcome back gifts and those truffles were divine. Like I could have eaten a ton of them divine and wanted to throw some in my purse to take home divine, but sadly I did not. I’m trying to be healthy these days, WAH-wah. Truffles and bowling. Only in Grosse Pointe.

9. Another normal thing we did was go to a restaurant. Restaurants opened back up this month at 25% capacity and a 10 pm close time. The husband and I sat in this corner at San Morello at the Shinola Hotel downtown and it was lovely. Many of the tables you see here weren’t there. There was definitely ample space between each table, more than I’ve seen at other places. I miss having someone else do the cooking and also serve it to me. And not having to clean up afterwards! I mean wow. A luxury. I loved it.

10. Funny story. On Thursday mornings at 7:15 am, I have a standing work meeting. Thankfully, it’s via Zoom and I can have my camera off and get ready for work while I’m on the call. Last week I was standing in my closet doorway, deciding what to wear, then grabbed my coffee from the shelf and proceeded to drink it as I finished the meeting.

When I came downstairs, coffee cup in hand, I noticed that my coffee from that morning was sitting on the counter. OOPS. How old was that other coffee? I have zero idea. I don’t think it was the day before. Why didn’t I notice the milk was bad? No clue. Wasn’t it cold? Yes, but our thermostat goes up to a blazing 64 in the mornings, so my coffee is usually cooled down by the time I get ready anyway. Do I always put my coffee in the closet? Not always, but often. Did I get sick? No. Did I feel like getting sick because the thought of drinking potentially days old coffee grossed me out? Yes. Moral of the story? Don’t be dumb.

11. I just want to say that if you ever see a mouse in your house and your daughter asks, will mice go into my bedroom, just laugh like you mean it and say of course not! DO NOT Google will mice go into my bedroom. Also do not Google can you only have one mouse in your house. The husband took care of that issue because he is a rockstar in the area of all-things-homeowners-should-know and everything is fine. But am I fine? Are my nerves fine? QUESTIONABLE.

12. After a work meeting, I looked down at my notepad. I went into a daydream about note-taking and handwriting anayzation and right brain, left brain. It just got me thinking about how we take notes. The messy note-takers vs. those of you who write in nice, neat lines with bullet points and different colored pens (I believe my sister does this). Is there a deep thought here somewhere? Not really. Maybe that there is comfort to understanding one’s own chaos.

Life is still pretty crazy right now for most of us. Here’s hoping that you’re able to make sense of your chaos and navigate it somehow. Spring is coming. I’ve started hearing birds again and seeing the sun from time to time, and I am certain good things are just around the bend.

The January List – 2021

Not to be outdone by 2020, 2021 came in hard and gave us all kinds of crazy in its first month. As the dust settles, here’s my personal recap.

1. Netflix’s Bridgerton gave us over-the-top camp in every way and I am here for it. I binge-watched the entire first season in about a week and loved the unconventionally bright colors, unhistorical diverse cast, caricatures of characters and dramatic storylines.

2. Amanda Gorman

3. If you think I purposely didn’t expand on #2 because it needs no further explanation, then you are correct. Noteworthy note, however – the day (or so) after the election, I read an article that Amanda is actually not THEE Poet Laureate of the United States, as she was introduced, but the Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. The first honor is held by Joy Harjo, pictured above, who the article said is not the type of person to be bothered by the mix-up. She sounds cool.

4. We took a mini-vaca to Crystal Mountain resort, a 4-hour drive from Grosse Pointe. For the drive, I downloaded “Downton Abbey,” the movie, which I have not yet seen, a few “Schitt’s Creek” episodes, which I have seen many of (I’m on Season 4 – no spoilers!) and packed two books. I didn’t end up watching or reading anything. I clearly needed a brain break, which I took by watching the snow-covered scenery go by. Shoutout to the husband who is ALWAYS up for solo driving a road trip.

5. Our 11-year-old has been skiing once a week at Pine Nob, thanks to a family friend who drives her there because Lord knows I cannot stand outside in the dark cold night waiting for kids to be done skiing. She’s confident and enjoys it, so we knew she’d have a great time skiing at Crystal Mountain.

Our 9-year-old hadn’t been skiing since last year and she had already predicted her dislike for lessons and skiing in general, so we were hoping (aka begging and pleading with the powers that be) she would change her mind once she got out there and hallelujah, our prayers were answered. Apparently, she lives for speed and was able to keep up. Biggest thrill for both of them (and their parents!) was going down Loki, arguably Crystal Mountain’s biggest black diamond run.

6. I did a photoshoot for Cruz Burgers, a new local veggie burger brand created by a couple whose photos I took a few years ago. They are the sweetest family and the burgers are delicious! It was supposed to be a pro bono shoot, but they gave me a really nice surprise tip. You can read about their story and get burger updates (they are still in the rollout stages) via their Instagram @eatcruzburgers account.

7. I also did another shoot for the wonderful folks at Corner Studio. I always end up trying on clothes when I’m there and I almost bought a really cute puffy jacket – whew! They are running a great promotion now through February 12 – spend $75 (on classes, sauna, retail, anything) and you are entered to win one of three giveaways – Tom Ford sunglasses, Tom Ford tote, blowout and hair products from Girlie Girl or rose gold earrings from Ahee.

8. I finished “Diary of a Bookseller” by Shaun Bythell. It is exactly what it sounds like – a literal day-to-day rundown of the happenings of a Scotland second-hand bookstore. It took me a few entries (maybe 10-20) to get into it, but I ended up really liking it. The author’s (bookseller’s) sense of humor was right up my alley and I definitely cracked a smile more than once, which is my version of laughing out loud, which I never do while reading. I recently heard they were making the book into a TV series. I’d watch.

9. Speaking of books-turned-screen, I recently read somewhere that Kenneth Branagh will produce and star in a TV adaptation of “A Gentleman in Moscow,” one of my favorite books from the last decade. Can’t wait.

10. I also read “Act Now,” co-written by my high school friend Natalie. If you’ve always wanted to do something but haven’t yet or are stuck in a rut of some kind – personal or career or whatever – it’s a great motivational, down-to-earth read that, true to it’s title, holds you accountable to take the steps necessary to reach your goal (or get out of said rut).

11. Completely forgot to mention the new car we got last Fall. For the last five years we have been a one-car family and our 12-year-old Honda CRV was just starting to feel old, so it was time. We now have a non-drivable Honda CRV (it “broke down” recently and is getting a look-over this week) and a brand new Honda Passport. I was skeptical at first, with the larger size and more sporty driving feel, but I’m almost used and for sure love it. Maybe sometimes I still need to take wider right turns (OOPS), but at least I finally have parking down.

12. January brought some lovely snowstorms (using the term lightly) to Grosse Pointe. Just the kind I like. Enough snow to cover the earth, but not enough to make life difficult. This is one of the views from my office building when you look out at the lake. If I lean out one of my office doors (yes, my small office has not one, but three, doors), this is what I see. Gorgeous. And the super cute bunny footprints! (I’m saying bunny, because I want them to be a bunny not a squirrel, which they most certainly are.)

The month flew by, not what I expected. Maybe 2021 will be just that – unexpected. And after last year, sure, I’ll take unexpected, I mean whatever, world. I always end the blog hopeful for the next month and truly I am. May your February be filled with so many good things.

The December List – 2020

It’s New Year’s Eve. I ate too much Indian food from Noor Jahan that was crazy spicy and delicious, followed by a scoop of ice cream, which completely put me over the limit. My oldest is at our pod family’s house for a sleepover and the rest of us are watching “The Witches” (2020 version), which obviously I’m now only half watching. Oh and yes, more champagne, because why not. I’ve already over indulged at this point.

1) Like everyone else, I’m saying a big buh-bye to 2020. I’m ready for a clean slate and a brand new year with less horribleness. But dare I say that 2020 wasn’t all bad for me. As a not-so-subtle introvert, the isolation of the pandemic didn’t crush me and even invigorated me at times. I relished in the intimacy of my immediate family, I evaluated and re-evaluated, cleaned and threw out, spent less and saved more, and spent time that I wouldn’t have otherwise carved out- talking on the phone with faraway friends.

2) I did a lot of podcast listening this year. My favorite podcast line from this year is from the first season of Breakdown. I don’t remember the quote in it’s exact form, but it’s something along the lines of, “you can probably imagine that confrontations that start with the words ‘red-headed crack whore’ usually don’t end well.”

I’m now on Season 2 and at least so far, the podcast is a great investigative journalism series with a narrator who seems down to earth and has a somewhat nerdy and non-pretentious voice.

3) I did an embarrassing amount of puzzling this year. My favorite pieces (in terms of texture, feel, weight, because now I am a connoisseur and can evaluate such things) were the Piecework brand puzzles, a fancy-ish boutique line of puzzles that have chic images. These puzzles are on the difficult side, but not enough to take the enjoyment out of putting them together.

I think my favorite one to work on was this Edward Gorey image, because of the pieces (Pomegranate puzzles have a nice feel, too) but because the image is so quirky. The kids and I had fun imagining the different back stories of the random people.

4) And a lot of TV watching. My favorite show, which I stopped watching in early 2020 because… too close for comfort… but started up again recently is The Handmaid’s Tale. Riveting! Intelligent! Weirdly visually beautiful! Storytelling at it’s best.

A second favorite was His Dark Materials, because I am a sucker for fantasy and anything that involves children on a quest and animals and magic and perfectly evil characters who you love to hate is right up my alley. Oh and The Queen’s Gambit, oh my gosh. An absolute must.

5) My favorite book of the year is hands down “Where the Crawdads Sing,” a book I talked about in the October List, but the one above, “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” is the one I read this month and it was the perfect holiday break read – a “light” murder mystery based in Denver. The central character works at a used bookstore. The ending was a bit tidy, but forgivable.

6) I haven’t made homemade mac n’ cheese for years because the kids don’t like it. The little one decided she wanted to give it another shot, so I took out my tried and true Martha Stewart recipe and whipped it up. Holy cow, it is SO good. The big kid still doesn’t like it, but the 9-year-old loved it, so majority rules and I will be adding it to our rotation.

7) I ventured out of Grosse Pointe (ha) to Detroit’s West Village to get my hair cut and colored. The folks at Village Parlor did such a great job, I am SO happy. He took the stupid triangle weight off my hair (finally! thank you!) which means that I can air dry it again with no issues and the color gal spent an extra hour fixing my color because she wanted to get it right.

8) The girls woke us up at 6:40 am on Christmas morning. They actually woke up much earlier, but gave us some extra time to sleep (although I did hear banging of doors at about 5:45 am and never fully went back to sleep after that). It was a low-key, lazy day, which is normal for us and just how we like it.

9) Christmas bonus: waking up to snow! The forecast called for a chance of rain and a smaller chance of snow, and then on Christmas Eve my phone app showed no sign of either, so I assumed we’d get nothing. But around 10:00 pm it started to lightly snow and our white Christmas wish came true (score another point for 2020).

10) On Christmas night we went to our pod family’s house for dinner. (Side note: I think everyone knows what a pod family is by now, but basically the family we have been allowing ourselves to see and be close to since Covid. It’s worked out well.)

We provided dinner this year, due to an incident during my husband’s college years. The story goes that one day my husband brought home a Honey-Baked ham, announcing to his roommates that it was hands off, then put it in the freezer. Long story short, his roommate chipped away at it little by little, day after day, until it was completely gone.

Out of the blue, a week before Christmas my husband received a text that we would be getting a full holiday meal – ham, sides and a pie – delivered to our door on Christmas Eve, to make up for his roommate’s eating of the ham many years ago. A great story and the meal was great and fed all of us!

11) One of my Christmas gifts was the cookbook “Flavor.” I’d seen a recent post on a friend’s Instagram about eggplant dumplings she and her boyfriend made and had been dying to try them since then. Serendipitously, the exact recipe they made can be found in my new cookbook, so I took it as a sign and promptly shopped for the ingredients and made the dish.

The process was more involved than I usually like, but the result was really, really yummy AND the husband who has professed his dislike of eggplant many times, loved it. Winning.

12) I’m trying to think of another favorite to share or a song that sums up my year or some funny quip about what I won’t miss about 2020, but I can’t. One thing that 2020 has done is zapped my brain. And I’m okay with it. When my mind says “I’m done,” I let it be done. Sometimes stopping when you need to stop is just as valuable as forcing yourself to persevere. A lesson learned in 2020 that I’d like to carry into the next decade.

So my number 12 on the December List is I’m done for the year. Later, 2020. I remain hopeful for the future in spite of foreseeable hardships. I truly wish that 2021 brings you happiness, peace and so much comfort, which we all so desperately need – Happiest New Year wishes to all.