The (Mostly Hawaii) March List – 2018

I would wish you all Happy Spring, but it’s not really spring here, which I am also not happy about. The first half of March was a blur, but the second half slowed down quite a bit as we were in Hawaii for break.

1) The neighborhood pheasant thinks it’s spring, however, and he’s been ’round the house many times already. Every year we wonder if he will be back and every year he comes back, pecking at the mirrored kick plate on our front door, thinking he’s found a friend (or rival, perhaps). He’s a beauty.

Save for the Hawaii trip, March must not have been very exciting because I have close to zero photos on my phone taken in March, unless you are interested in screenshots of hairstyles that I like. Those I have about a million of and of course now you want to see one of them, so here you go.

2) I’m getting my hair cut next week, which is counter intuitive because I’m actually trying to grow it out, but it’s super jacked up for so many reasons, but I think the best thing to do is get a really nice trim and then let it grow out (wow, I am so interesting right now, I can hardly take it).

Also ignore the URL, oh my gosh. I got this photo off Pinterest, I promise (why so pensive, Sienna? Are you trying to read my mind?).

3) I was going to write a separate post about just Hawaii flowers, and another one about Hawaii food, and maybe another one about family and culture, but we all know that is not happening with my current state of affairs (#hotmess), so let’s go ahead and talk about Hawaii right now.

First of all, I love the shock of coming home and realizing that I grew up on a tropical island. I mean, obviously my whole life I knew I was living on an island, but the realization of how different it is than say growing up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, is always kind of a fun awakening, if even for a split second. Like, holy crap! I grew up on a straight up tropical island!! That’s amazing!

Besides the humidity, the plants are a big clue that you’re not in Kansas anymore. Hawaii plants don’t care about boundaries; they will grow and grow wherever they please. And often times the property owners of said plants will just let them. I mean, why fight it, I guess.

4)  Secondly, food. And lots of it. Like endless supplies of it. I imagine the Asian Mom, Auntie, Grandma, is very similar to the Italian Mom, Auntie, Grandma and therefore every day there is something new to eat and not only that but you HAVE to eat it because they made it. Just. For. You. Image result for gritting teeth emoji Oh I do appreciate it, especially the endless supply of fresh coconut that was prepared a week before our arrival and frozen for us in little ziplock bags so I could take one out to thaw every couple of days, but it’s a lot of pressure!

The desserts alone will stress you out. Actual conversation with self after dinner: “Hmmm…I’m not hungry. But maybe I can eat something small for dessert. Should I have the brownies? Or maybe the mochi squares? Or wait, Auntie just made halo-halo and baklava and what about the chiffon cake?” I mean.

The above spread was for a party we had at my Grandma’s home (rehab center). Those noodles bottom right were made by my Auntie. Pancit, a traditional Filipino dish. She makes hers with fishcake and lots of scallions and shitake mushrooms. So good.

5) Speaking of noodles, you can’t really visit Hawaii and not eat noodles. We had spicy miso ramen bowls like we always do, but this trip I went to a new spot called Piggie Smalls and got their garlic noodles with shrimp and it was ah-maz-ing.

I planned on saving half of it to take home with me, but I ate the entire thing.  They look kind of blah in this photo, but they were divine and I should have gone back another time for more.

6) So back to the party for my Grandma. She will be 95 in June (I think?) and just a few months ago she got sick and had to be moved to a home (she’d been living with my mom and Auntie, her daughters). She is well taken care of and mom and Auntie visit her pretty much daily. She mostly remembers people, with a little reminding, but is not nearly as talkative as she was even a year ago.

She is the matriarch right now in our family circle and it is very sweet to see everyone gather around her and treat her with dignity and respect. It’s inspiring and humbling.

7) Hawaii fashion is very casual and pretty much anything goes. For example, here you see an older lady doing some bold pattern mixing. And guess what, she does not give two hoots about your opinion on the matter (which I love).

8) The weather wasn’t great, but we did get to the beach a few times. Our first stop was Sandy Beach, or Sandy’s, as the locals call it. It’s not a swimming spot for the average swimmer – the waves are unpredictable and really strong. A lot of surf/bodysurf competitions are held at this spot.

I took a lot of pictures with my new camera, determined to use it on the manual setting. I never go the light quite right, but it was a huge learning experience and now I know how (after some Googling) how to shoot in bright light with reflections off water and sand.

9) On the way home from Sandy’s, we stopped at the Leonard’s malasada truck (I can’t seem to get off the food topic), which you must do, for the proper live-like-a-local tourist experience (not so much the truck but Leonard’s malasadas in general).

10) I could show you hundreds of flower photos that I took, but here are a few of my favorites. Hibiscus, ginger, bird of paradise.

11)  One afternoon I took the short walk from my mom’s house to The Lady of the Mount monument, where I spent and hour and a half taking photos of all the plants and flowers. No one else was around and it was such a nice “me time” moment.

So many cool plants to photograph, but this one cactus in particular caught my eye. It was subtle, yet flashy, understated, yet vibrant.

12) Another thing I learned during this trip about photography (which I suppose you could turn into some kind of metaphor about life if you were that kind of person and had the time to word it correctly) is that sometimes finding the light means stepping out of it. Capturing shadows, capturing darkness.

Plus, I love a good moody photo. I mean, this double hibiscus is giving it to you right here.

And that’s a wrap. I hope that wherever you are, if spring has not yet arrived at your home, that it will come soon. Wishing you the loveliest April.

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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 August List – 2017

I feel like I say this every month, but this has been the busiest month of the year by far.

Not counting the awesome vacation we took to upstate New York, which I failed to post about save for one photo last month. sigh I do hope to post a New York list, but in case I don’t get around to it, know that it was amazing. We swam, we read, we played, we gathered, we had pie on my grandmother’s plates. What could be better.

But I press on. I must not fail “The List,” even if it is fast and furiously put together.

1)  This photo pretty much sums up my August. It’s blurry because top secret holiday catalog information, but welcome to my world. Coffee. Eating meals as I stand and type. And papers everywhere. Apropo because that’s how my brain feels.

After landing a couple of freelance writing gigs, I was asked to take on more responsibility and hours at my job at the school. GAH. I am not complaining. I am grateful. So grateful. BUT. Momma needs a cocktail.

2)  Speaking of cocktails, my friend Renee, cocktail maker extraordinaire, whipped up a version of the to die for concoction we enjoyed at Detroit City Distillery. It consisted of a mixture of mango habanero and lavender simple syrups and couple other secret ingredients and it was soooooo good.

And aren’t we so healthy with our sliced veggies, but this is before I asked her to please go get the Chex Mix already.

3)  We had peaches at The Garden! Last year we were only able to enjoy a handful, as many succumbed to disease or an animal of some sort. This season we had a whole bunch and I made peach cobbler with blueberries. Happy happy.

4)  There was a meet and greet on Belle Isle for the Detroit women who participated in the FEMALE photo project. I’m so very glad I went, as I get so nervous about these things. But it was just lovely.

I think I was the oldest one there which…not that it matters really, but I’m usually NOT the oldest person there, so I took note, but anyway I loved being surrounded by all the positive energy. We’re going to try and make it a monthly or bi-monthly thing. I’m in.

FEMALE photographer and meeting organizer Kacy brought a bunch of rose (too lazy to make accent over the E) single serves she found at Trader Joe’s and guess what? They were pretty stinking great! And I love the can’s shape.

5)  We viewed the eclipse the old fashioned way (thanks to my husband, otherwise we would’ve had nothing) and it was actually pretty cool and very fun.

Noticed all the trippy shadows, but it didn’t cross my mind  to take a photo. I’m so bummed about that, but those make the best memories, right?, where you are just in the moment.

6)  I love all the murals at Eastern Market, especially in early evening when the shops have closed and the sun is going down. I keep meaning go down there one day for the sole purpose of taking photos, but it hasn’t happened.

I did made a quick pit stop at Detroit City Distillery after boxing one night (because now that I am a cocktail snob, I need to only drink very expensive vodka) and got a couple pics.

7)  Our Rose of Sharon plant exploded with blossoms this month, as it always does in late summer. The only way to enjoy it is out my daughter’s bedroom window or by walking to the side of the garage. I could cut off some branches to bring them inside, but they don’t last long in a vase. Beauties.

8)  My dahlias from Detroit Abloom have begun to open and they are gorgeous. I wasn’t sure how they would fare in the backyard because we don’t get much sun, (and admittedly some plants will not produce flowers), but I am pleasantly surprised at how well they are doing.

Also admittedly, I don’t love orange flowers (I’m sorry, nature! I’m working on it!), and a few of the dahlias I have are orange (many of the tubers I planted were marked “unknown” variety, long story).

And yes, they are pretty, too, in their own right, and to spite me they look extra pretty in this photo, but the Cafe au Laits are just magnificent. Wait until you see the latest one (which I picked yesterday, which was technically September, so it doesn’t belong here).

9)  The beekeeper who takes care of the hives at The Garden Detroit and Detroit Abloom held a fundraiser this month. It was at the Detroit City Distillery warehouse (can’t seem to get away from that place), which is housed in the old Stroh Ice Cream building. Which by the way if you haven’t read “Beer Money” it’s a really interesting read.

It was very loud, so it was hard to hear Brian’s speech, but the parts I did hear were fascinating. Bees are amazing. Please support them in any way you can!

10) I forgot to bring my book one day to the Yacht Club. Luckily, my 3rd grader brought hers and it was not a Rainbow Fairy or Geronimo Stilton, but this one about a boy who rents a room at a house where miniature dragons come to life. I only got a few chapters in (girls still not great swimmers, so I have to keep an eye out) and now the book has been returned to the library, but I do hope to finish it some day, it had potential.

11)  I finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” this week and I highly recommend. Take a little while to get into if you don’t know your Russian political history, but it was intelligent and wonderfully written and the characters are deep and fleshed out. Story line is interesting as well. I wondered how such a long book could be based in one very centralized location, but the author tackles that issue with ease. Bravo.

12)  Woo-hoo! I did it! Number 12. On a more somber note, my heart is with Houston and the surrounding areas and states affected by Harvey. Our girls have been so fortunate, so it is difficult to explain certain things, but we talked about it quite a bit and at my suggestion they made cards for some of the families.

If you have not yet donated, please consider it. There are many local organizations who will make sure your money 100% goes to helping Harvey victims specifically. One being www.legacycollective.org (a sorority sister’s organization).

Over and out, August! Sorry you got the shaft. It’s not you, it’s me. Happy September! Back to school yeesssssss!

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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.

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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 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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The August List – 2016

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August brought more summer heat, but also much-needed rain. It was another busy month, but we got to slow way down for a couple weeks when we took a road trip to upstate New York, where my Dad has a cabin at the tip of the Adirondacks and where many of his/my relatives still live.

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1)  We started a new rewards system for the girls this summer (got idea from a husband’s cousin). Each stick represents a number of plus or minus points, which translates to the same number of minutes, which they can use at the end of the week for app time (kid apps installed on my iphone). The system sort of tapered off during our trip, but we will amp it up again when school starts. It seems to work well.

Note: the fact that we are so strict with our girls regarding screen time is ironic, as my husband and I are tv and phone addicts. But if I recall, Steve Jobs was the same with his kids, so there.

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2)  This is my Instagram suggested viewing. Chickens eating. Lordie.

When I’m on as The Garden Detroit, I try to engage with other users, mainly farmers, who are often animal-lovers and I cannot stop “liking” videos of baby animals (mainly bunnies. or goats.) eating! They pop up with tags like “carrot” or “lettuce” or “eatyourgreens.” So silly.

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3)  Two days before our NY road trip, we went as a family to a Tigers game, our first of the season. It was a picture-perfect day with a beautiful view from our seats.

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4)  My husband and I were able to sneak away one evening for some adult time while we were in New York. We drove to nearby Lowville, to a craft brewery and taproom called BarkEater. Very cozy spot with a great staff (you know you’re in a small town when the server asks what brings you to the area and then “yes of course I know your dad”).

We started out with their tasting flight. I found most of them to be quite good, but ordered a glass of wine, as is my preference (they offer wines from local winery Tug Hill Vineyards), but I should have stuck to the beer. Wine varieties they carried were too sweet.

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5)  It was hot in New York, as it has been in Michigan all summer. On one particularly hot and muggy day, I drove the girls to Mercer’s Dairy for ice cream cones. I hadn’t been there before, but it was a very stressful drive through winding country backroads for 20 minutes until we finally reached the highway an easy 30-minute drive to Boonville.

On the way there, the skies turned heavy and dark, so I quickly ushered the girls inside once we pulled up to the shop. Mercer’s is famous for its wine ice cream, which I totally poo-pooed until I tried it. Surprisingly refreshing and yummy, though I can only speak for the strawberry champagne.

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As soon as we got our scoops, it started pouring rain. But I had to get a photo of a cone with the sign, so I grabbed my daughter’s mint chocolate chip (my scoop was in a cup) and ran outside. I got drenched (and left my daughter a little perplexed “Hey! Mom!”) but I got the shot.

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6) While visiting cousins on Lake Ontario, we (me, cousin Melanie, her daughter, and her new baby girl) took a walk as part of the baby’s naptime routine. It was nice to see all the pretty lake homes and we passed an old barn along the way and one quirky, multi-colored home pictured above (it’s vacant – surprise).

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7)  We also passed this tree, which I was curious about, as I didn’t recognize the fruit/seeds. My cousins told me it was a chestnut tree – who knew!? I’d never seen one before that I can recall. I didn’t realize they had spiky outer shells. Pretty cool.

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8)  While visiting Aunt Betty at Murrock Farms, I asked her about a photo in her living room. It was my grandmother Lucy (and Aunt Betty’s mom). She also showed me two photos of my grandfather Harrison Stackel, who died before I was born. She said they were chauffeur’s license photos (which back then I believe were like driver’s licenses). Such a contrast. As were their personalities, so I hear (I can only vouch for my grandmother, who I dearly loved).

Aunt Betty, by the way, is as amazing as ever at 92. She just finished reading Hillary’s America (no judgement!) and made biscuits that morning, which we ate for snack after a tour of the farm, which she accompanied us on.

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9)  This teepee has been in our seven-year-old’s room, but I set it up outside one day in hopes of giving the girls a new interest in it. When I was a kid, my sister and I looooved small, private spaces and would have been beside ourselves to play in a tee-pee, so I’m disappointed they don’t use it all that much.

I’m thinking it may get more use once both girls can read (and both write complete sentences without help). Not giving up quite yet.

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10)  I took the girls to Detroit’s Avalon Bakery earlier this month. We got sandwiches and sat outside for lunch. The sandwiches were so-so (I am also not a big sandwich person) but the bread there is really delicious and the treats were also very good.

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11)  While on vacation, I missed the Garden’s huge tomato boom. I was lucky to get some before and after my trip, although not in the quantities I would have gotten had I been here. Still, I was able to roast enough for a large jar, have made marinara sauce twice, bruschetta countless times, BLTs and chili. It’s been so awesome to have farm-fresh produce all summer! Sign up with your local CSA program next year, so worth it.

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12) I pass this mural when I come home from working at the Garden. It’s really sweet, I think and I finally stopped to take a closer look and to snap a photo.

So many great photos from our road trip, which I will share soon. The girls start school next week (Michigan is so late! I’ve been seeing back-to-school pics from friends for weeks now) and I am looking forward to that, but not to the end of summer. As the girls get older, summers seem to get more fun because we can do more, whine less and stay out longer. Michigan summer weather certainly helps (I’m often reminded of San Francisco summer weather with photos of friends wearing jackets and scarves, so I am grateful, even with our drought).

Wishes for a lovely September!

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