The February List – 2016

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Wow, clearly 2016 is kicking my booty. I feel like I just finished the January List. Which I guess is sort of true as that post was written in mid-February.

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1) We got more snow this month – yay! – but it’s still been a mild winter which means we can actually get out for a walk once in a while. We sometimes pass a tree on the Boulevard that has a container nailed to it. I wasn’t sure what it was until I saw someone pull a dog treat out of it. Now whenever we pass the tree, Sam looks forward to his treat.

2) Another way to score dog treats on walks is via the city garbage collector guys. The garbage is picked up by guys in golf cart-type vehicles, who zip up your driveway, empty garbage into the back of their bins and then drive to a larger truck posted up close by.

On more than one occasion, when I’ve been out with the dog, one of the guys will pull over, get out and give Sam a doggie bone and a pat.

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3) On our walks, I sometimes see lost items displayed on fire hydrants or lamp posts. The fact that people are taking the time to pick up these objects and place them in spots where owners are likely to find them is really touching to me somehow.

4)  The next time your doctor says, “it will only take a second,” beware. During a recent check-up, I asked my doctor about a mark on my shoulder that I thought might be a mole. She said it was a blackhead (eek) and that she would remove it for me. It will only take a second. Which it did. And then I got the $250 bill for “acne surgery.” Not cool.

5)  Farms Market has started selling the only ice cream in the area made with 100% organic, locally-sourced ingredients. Each flavor has about six to seven ingredients and it is to die for.

At $8.99 a pint, it also makes it one of the most expensive ice creams in town. There’s no nutritional information on the label, because why bother? We all know how many calories a scoop of ice cream has. A lot. There’s a sea salt caramel pint in our freezer right now and I cannot stop thinking about it.

6) Speaking of Farms Market, I keep meaning to tell you that I learned my lesson the hard way (like over a year ago) regarding not shopping at the very small and cramped store (they are remodeling, thank goodness) during the high-school lunch hour. Just don’t.

The other day I was driving by the store and was excited that I had escaped the frantic craze of the lunch crowd. No backpacks outside, no kids. All clear. I parked, went inside and one minute later, one of the staff yells, “Second LUUUUNCH!” And they all come rushing in as I try to flatten myself against the condiments.

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7)  Our oldest turned seven this month. I was too lazy to bake a cake this year, so we ordered one from Josefs. She requested a unicorn on her cake and we gave them free reign. So we got this unicorn, circa 1985. She insisted that she get the piece with the horn, since it has magical powers, as we all know. The chocolate frosting tasted somewhat chemically, note to self.

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SKATE (768x1024)8)  One of our friends who has a homemade ice rink in their backyard, invited us over one day to skate. The girls have never skated, nor do they have skates, but serendipity took over and someone happened to have two pairs of skates in exactly the right size.

My husband was out of town and part of me (most of me) didn’t want to go because I was afraid there would be crying and whining and general mayhem. But none of that happened. They were timid, but they both got out there and the older one started getting the hang of it without the net. Such a great first experience!

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8)  I chopped of the leaves of some bok choy and this was what was left of the stalk.

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9)  We finally had dinner in our dining room. I love baby’s breath when it’s solo. It’s so delicate and pretty. I made chicken mirabella and rigatoni with pork/beef ragu.

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10)  Remember the time I asked my dry cleaning lady where I could get good Korean food and she said, “my house”? The cooking classes finally happened! Details in a separate post.

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11)  I have been so bored with my hair lately, so I made an appointment with my stylist, who really is the best person I’ve ever had do my hair. Like ever and I’ve been to about ten fancy stylists in San Francisco.

To get ready for my appointment, I “pinned” all these awesome pictures of shorter hair and cuts with bangs and was almost ready to do the big chop, but when I told my husband my great idea, he said, “Please don’t do that. It’s going to make you be in a bad mood for two months.” Which I considered and realized was true. Soooo…I just had her add some new highlights. Problem averted.

IMG_4507 (809x1024)12)  I’m still on the health train, and with that comes riding the stationary bike in the basement and doing my floor work afterwards like a good girl. This is usually where the dog posts up as he watches me with non-amusement. He’s over it.

We are going to Hawaii for Spring Break this month and I cannot wait. I will take a million photos and post the best ones on the blog. Enjoy the rest of March, everyone!

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The January List – 2016

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Oh my gosh. It’s mid-February and I am just starting the January list. Here it is…

1) Snow. Eh. It only snowed once, maybe twice last month. It was pretty, it was white, there were some cute bunny tracks and there was a little shoveling involved. Not much to report.

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2)  My Dad and his wife gave us a spiralizer for Christmas. I’m not very big on kitchen contraptions – I use a toaster, blender, mixer and rice cooker – so I wasn’t too sure about using it, but gave it a try with some zucchini, if only to say that I used it.

It was a lot more user-friendly than I expected and quite easy to clean (huge). The “noodles” were fun, but I was not fooled into thinking they were actual pasta noodles. It’s nice because the girls are able to use it and it’s always great when they can help in the kitchen. Although they will still not eat the finished product.

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3) This handsome guy turned 10. Whenever I try any to do any kind of floor workout, he gets all up in my business. Sometimes he brings me toys or licks my feet. Not super productive, but it does make me laugh and I usually do end up taking him for a walk afterwards.

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4) I went to Arizona! My girlfriend and former San Francisco book grouper Kimberly got married – hurray! I was so pleased that I managed to pack lightly and not check any luggage, so when I got to the gate and they told me I had to check my carry-on, I was bummed.

I begged and pleaded and said that I had to go to a wedding right when I landed (which was mostly true), but they stared at me with no pity whatsoever and handed me my luggage tag. Which ended up in my purse. Oopsie.

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5) The wedding was a beautiful traditional church wedding…

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…and the reception was held at the luxury Royal Palms hotel in Scottsdale. SO pretty. Wish I could have stayed there instead of the Marriott!

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It was fun to dress up and I bought a new Halston Heritage dress for the occasion. I’ve been all about 70s glam recently. Love it. Which is very strange because I’ve never cared for it before. Now I lose my mind over it.

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6) I love this rug that I wove on a loom in college (my favorite class!) and I keep trying to find a place for it in the house.

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I tried our entryway (we are still using the old owner’s maroon rug which I am so over), which didn’t look quite right, plus I don’t really want people wiping their shoes on it.

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I tried our downstairs powder room, where it looked pretty good, but it is too slippy for the girls (who use that bathroom a lot), even if we put a rug pad under it. It’s back in the closet for now. :(

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7)  I forgot to ever talk about our buffet we bought for the dining room. My husband and I have significantly different home decor tastes, so it took a while for us to settle on this piece of furniture. I found it online through Cottage Home Furniture in Maine.

They were great to work with. This particular sideboard did not come with glass door, but I special requested and they were happy to oblige. It arrived a couple weeks later than promised, but they were good about keeping me in the loop.

8)  Our book group book this month was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s an end-of-days (of sorts) type setting, but not as dire or creepy as The Road (if you haven’t read it, oh my. Excellent writing but so depressing) and most of the book focuses on the characters.  The writing was great and engaging. I really enjoyed it.

After I posted this, a friend told me that the author wrote the book while in Leelanau, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A big chunk of the book takes place in that area, so I see now where she got her inspiration for that setting.

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9)  I was at Barnes & Nobles looking for a birthday gift and decided to pick up an adult puzzle (vs a kid puzzle, which we have a ton of). I hadn’t done a puzzle in so long and it was fun. The girls tried to get into it, but of course it was hard for them, but they did manage to put some pieces in, which was exciting for them.

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10) Soooo…..I’ve been on a diet. Of sorts. Just trying to get healthy and strong. I am the laziest exerciser you could ever know, so I never have really pushed myself during workouts. But I’m trying now and it’s really hard, but satisfying. I also kind of hate salad, so when I tell you that I’m eating lots of salad, that is huge.

My big indulgence is balsamic reduction. So bad but so good. (In case you weren’t aware, most store-bought balsamic glazes have caramel coloring, which is a possible carcinogen. Normally, I would not allow myself to come close to the stuff, but it makes me eat salad, so I weighed my options. When I run out, I’ll attempt to make my own).

11)  The girls got a bunch of games for Christmas and one of them is Jr. Monopoly. It’s a great game because both the four-year-old and almost seven-year-old can play and I can actually tolerate it, unlike some of the other games they have. Even though I’m always stuck with the car.

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12) One (very, very, very cold!) Saturday, we drove into Detroit and walked along the Riverfront and Hart Plaza and peeked into the Renaissance Center. After our little adventure, we went to Mercury Bar in Corktown for an early dinner.

On our walk back to the car, we saw a huge flock of birds flying across the sky. Most of them landed on one large tree, so I made my husband drive near it so I could take a picture. From far away, the birds looked like leaves.

It was kind of a magical moment. Watching them swoop in front of us out of nowhere and then spotting them on the tree. I hope 2016 brings more bursts of zen like these for all of us (me, you, humanity), which are much needed in the midst or our crazy lives. Enjoy the rest of your February!

The November List – 2015

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I am scrambling to put things together for the list this month. November came and went in a flash. Here goes….

1)  It seems like as soon as the cold weather came through, we got the decorating bug again. We got dining room furniture (finally!) which took forever to pick out.

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Our table had to be  just the right size and it  had to extend to just the right size for larger gatherings. And it had to not be too formal (my request) or too rustic (husband’s request), but in the end we did go with a distressed one because it fit (lucky me).

My husband got the final say in the chairs (although I picked the color) because we went with my choice for the kitchen/family room (see below) last year.

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They are a bit formal for me BUT I have to say I really, really like them. I almost went with a light plum with the color instead of mustard, but that was more of a risk and I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to decor.

2) We also bought a bar…

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…which we’ve been wanting for a long time. My husband has taken a liking to scotch (which is very Grosse Pointe of him). I love the concept of drinking scotch or whiskey –  the different bottles and the square ice cubes and the cool glassware. But unfortunately I don’t love the taste.

And yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. A lot of these photos were taken just today because like I mentioned, I am behind on everything.

3)  Which brings me to my next decorating obsession: trays (see the round one on the bar?).

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I bought a tray for the living room, for the powder room, for the master bathroom. How have I gone my whole life without trays?!

4)  We replaced house number plaque that the former owners put up, with Heath Ceramics house numbers. It was quite the project. The old plaque was stuck there with tons of epoxy, which my husband spent all day taking off with various tools, electric and non. They are gorgeous.

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5)  Now our maroon front door looks extra out of place. Our painter was here yesterday (I know, I know. Separate post) and I asked him what he thought. He said he would definitely paint the sidelights (new vocab word for me) the trim color and not make it the same color as the door. I’d never thought of that and it seems like a great idea to me.

Here’s an example of painted and unpainted (not my house, obviously). What do you think?

Here’s our actual door (I can’t even talk about the doormat/rug right now so don’t ask).

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6)  I’m hosted book group last night and I loved the book, but I can’t tell you what it was because I’m giving it as a Christmas gift. So I give you this book instead.

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it’s the first in a trilogy. I’m on the third one. It’s a great read if you like light fantasy (elements of magic, but not too crazy). I guess you could say it is Harry Potter-esque, but it is also very different. More grown up (which doesn’t necessarily mean better. I did love Harry Potter). The second was just okay, but I am getting into the third book. Hopefully the ending will not disappoint.

7)  We got our first snow of the season on the 21st.

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Our littlest ran outside as soon as it started to fall (if you look closely you can see snowflakes in her hair). It didn’t start sticking until evening and we didn’t get a whole lot, but there was enough to play in for a day or two and make a small snowman.

8)  I finally saw a show at the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.

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Photo via OlympiaEntertainment.com

The girls and I were invited to go see “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with another mom and two other girls. The girls were just adorable and the theatre is beautiful. We had a suite, which was extra awesome.

9)  Earlier this year, I won a blow out party at the salon I go to, Chez Lou Lou (which hands down has given me the best haircuts ever, even compared to the six different hair stylists I had in San Francisco).

IMG_3555 (768x1024)I redeemed the prize this month. A handful of gals and I were treated to champagne, tea/scones and had our hair done. Then we went to the Yacht Club for dinner and walked around their Holiday Mart.

10) Speaking of Holiday Mart, it seems like every time I turn around I see a sign for a different Holiday Mart. The War Memorial, churches, libraries, clubs, you name it. I don’t think I went to (or heard of) one Holiday Mart in San Francisco. You either shop in your neighborhood or online.

11)  We raked leaves for the last time this past weekend (the last week for leaf collection by the city was this week).

IMG_3438 (1024x768)Our birch tree is still dropping leaves (you can see it in the pic), but all our other trees (except the evergreens, of course) are bare.

12)  We had a great thanksgiving with my husband’s side of the family.

FamilyThanksgivingWe started with appetizers and a champagne toast (for my husband’s birthday) at Uncle Jim’s and then went to the Yacht Club for our meal. There were 19 of us! One baby, five kids and 13 adults. It was my first time having Thanksgiving at a restaurant, but it was pretty nice and of course there is no prep or clean up, which is fantastic.

This post had a lot of “stuff” in it. Furniture, accessories, theatre tickets, holiday marts. I am grateful for all of it but I thank my lucky stars even more for the non-material things – a roof over my head, a safe neighborhood, healthy kids, a family who loves me. The list goes on and on.

Enjoy your December and I will see you back here soon with another post about paint!

Reflections of Fall

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News of our first snow storm coming tomorrow gave me the push I needed to get my Fall photos up! We had a beautiful Fall (it’s not quite over, I realize that, but many trees are bare now). Not quite as amazing as last year and not because it’s no longer new. The colors just weren’t as lush, probably because the leaves were drier, is my guess?

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Fall always brings a great moodiness to it that makes for much more interesting photos. Summer is beautiful in its bright, fresh way, but Fall and Winter make my camera happy.

As we head into Thanksgiving, I am feeling extra grateful for the ease of my life and the beauty that I get to see every day in the Lake, the trees, the sky. I will never take for granted these simple joys of life. Wishing you all a very lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

The October List – 2015

IMG_32901)  The fall foliage this year is beautiful per usual (my per usual is one year’s worth), but the leaves haven’t been great for collecting. Most of the ones that have fallen are already wrinkling or crispy or have black spots on them. Although in the last few days I’ve seen fresher ones. I remain hopeful.

IMG_2996 (1024x896) IMG_2997 (1024x940) IMG_2999 (1024x878)IMG_3022 (1024x1014)2) Mums the word. In a big way. How should we decorate for Fall? I’ve got it – mums! In planters! Flanking the front door!
(To prove my point, the first three photos were taken on the same block!)

I’ve always been annoyed by mums. I have no idea why. They annoy me like carnations annoy me. I get that they are one of the only flowering plants around this time of year and seeing their pops of color around town is kind of nice, but it’s a trend I just can’t get behind. (I will probably be eating my words next Fall as I decide what color mums to buy for our porch).

3)  I turned 43. So that.

For my birthday, my husband bought me a new iPhone. I’m not a big tech person, so I don’t know about all the other upgraded features, but I was excited to try out the new camera. At first, I didn’t notice the difference, but after a couple days, I picked up my old phone and flipped through the photos and wow, huge difference.
IMG_3211 (1024x1024)4)  I bought these fabulous shoes as a present to myself. I was so thrilled to have them (I’d been on the waiting list for weeks) that I wore them to go run errands one afternoon. It felt very Real Housewives.

IMG_30675)  Sort of also for my birthday (I like to celebrate all month), I took a solo weekend trip to San Francisco. I am usually really freaked out about flying, but this time I was giddy when I got on the plane. Five hours all to myself. What a treat.

It was so nice to be surrounded by familiarity. The sights and sounds of the city, and the people who know me to my core. It felt like home.

6)  My friend Erin and I stopped by Baker Beach one day to kill time and she made me get out of the car (I didn’t want to). I surveyed the trail I used to run every weekend, the cold Pacific Ocean, the glorious Golden Gate Bridge and the homes of Seacliff perched above the water.

It was too much to take in and I quickly jumped back in the car. Next time I think I can handle it. And I’ll be sure to pack my running shoes (which I purposely left home this trip).

IMG_3098 (898x1024)7)  Artisanal toast has not yet made its way to Grosse Pointe. A woman whose kids went to preschool with my oldest was on the cusp of this trend eight years ago (NPR even wrote about it here). But, San Francisco being San Francisco, the $4.00 toast is so yesterday (and when I say toast, I mean a piece of toast with butter. For reals).

Enter the $7.00 avocado toast. Some come with an egg or soft cheese or other garnish. Mostly all of them have olive oil or citrus oil or insert fancy oil name drizzled on top. I split one with Erin. Ours came with poppy seeds (and ricotta). It was delicious. Was it $7.00 delicious? Of course not. I figured out the profit on this meal and it’s pretty darn high. I’m envisioning a food truck parked on Mack Avenue, selling dry cappuccinos done right and avocado toast. I’d keep it in business.

IMG_3131 IMG_31328)  I haven’t spent much time in Sausalito, so it was fun to spend a morning there with a friend who recently moved in to the cutest apartment that almost (I said almost!) makes me wish I were single again. On top of the quaint architecture, the apartment offers sweeping views of San Francisco, Alcatraz and Angel Island that are to die for. We walked down the hill to town and along the docks. I felt like a tourist (I was a tourist) – it was awesome.

IMG_3255 (1024x768)9)  When I told people I was co-chairing the Book Fair this year, they would look at me like I told them I was a heroin addict (I’d have said cocaine, but heroin is the new drug of choice, at least at the local high school. But I digress).

It really wasn’t that bad, especially since the other chair had done it before and knew exactly what we were supposed to do and when, etc.

Side note: our school’s Book Fair is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) in the region. Pretty impressive.

IMG_3184 (1024x782)10)  I finally went to Seldon Standard, one of the most talked about restaurants that has opened in Detroit within the last year (and there are a lot).

There were lots of scotch choices (and my husband enjoyed the $25 a pop one. hope it was delicious), the service was great and the food was delicious. Even though the experience was superb, we still think Chartreuse’s food is the best we’ve had here so far.

11)  I’m in a book group – wahoo! I started it with a friend of mine who I don’t know very well, which was part of the point. To get a group of women together who might not otherwise hang out. We are 10 strong (which is kind of a lot for discussions, but we will make it work?) and picked a spooky first book for Halloween.

It was….entertaining and amusing. A light read in terms of character depth (not much) and plot (meh). But it was a page turner, so I’ll give her that. I may start a monthly “what I’m reading now” blog post or I may just include it in my monthly lists, but expect to see more book “reviews” in the future.

IMG_3303 (1024x1024) IMG_3286 (1024x753)12) The Grosse Pointes are all decked out for Halloween. Even this fairy garden has a ghoulish visitor.

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Halloween!

The August List 2015

August got away from me. I was on vacation in upstate New York for half the month, so I’m excused. But now I have a post to write and all I have is spiders. So I’ll start off with that and see where it takes me…

IMG_17961) We’ve had a terrible amount of spiders this summer. All the landscape and plant shop people have confirmed this. We’ve already sprayed twice (and yes SF, it’s safe for kids and animals), but every morning we walk into new webs. This guy posted up on our back gate. As I opened the latch, I disturbed it and actually said, “oh sorry” out loud. I get that they control the bug population (although not doing that great of a job in our garden!), but they give me the creeps.

IMG_2587 (768x1024)2)  This flower popped open, giving us a beautiful surprise. I didn’t know what the blossoms would look like when I planted it. It’s a monarda and one of the plants I got from my next door neighbor, Shirley (don’t ask me about the spots on the leaves. I can’t go there).

3) Speaking of Shirley, I was in her garden at the beginning of the month and spied an eggplant growing. I commented on how nice it looked.

IMG_1799 (1024x946)IMG_1800 (768x1024)You want it? Here. Is what she said and so I had an eggplant. I made eggplant parmesan and it was delicious. Even my husband liked it and he doesn’t like eggplant. I really hope to grow a vegetable garden next year (those darn bugs, though).

I mentioned to someone the other day how it has been hard for me to read people here because everyone is nice. As in cordial, super polite, well-mannered, etc. And so I can’t tell who is actually nice and who is just acting nice. Plucking your only eggplant and handing it to your neighbor without a second thought. That is genuine niceness, people. Take note.

IMG_1744 (932x1024)4)  This is someone’s actual vehicle. As in, not a working truck, but the car that you would drive to the Yacht Club for a day at the pool. God Bless America.

IMG_20315)  Shoutout to our dog, Sam who is the best traveler. Eleven hours in the car and he did not make one peep. Or say that he had to go to the bathroom 20 minutes after we left a rest stop.

IMG_2385 (1024x1024)IMG_2386 (1024x1024)6)  I love barns. I’m obsessed with barns. My dream house is a renovated barn. So of course I loved being back in dairy country for vacation. We drove past this barn whenever we went into town and one day I finally stopped to take a couple photos. I would have taken more, but I was technically trespassing and I’m not a risk-taker. In that sense, anyway.

IMG_2203 (1024x1024)7) While on vacation,we drove to my cousin’s spot on Lake Ontario one afternoon. I do love the quietness of my Dad’s place on Chase Lake, but being on a boat (and jet ski) was so fun, especially for the girls.

Hedge8) Remember how I complained about my yard guys last month? I met with our landscape company and went over what I’m going to start taking care of vs. what they will handle. Hedge trimming now falls under me. I’d never used a hedge trimmer before, but it wasn’t difficult to get the hang of.

However, after about 15 minutes, I felt like my arms were going to fall off! Haha. Good workout. (Also, I realize this photo is hideous. I don’t have a better one, sadly. I’d just gotten back from a run and am wearing a stained maternity shirt (why!?! I kept it because it was “cozy.” I threw it away within minutes of seeing this photo).

IMG_2563 (1024x464)9) I never heard anything back from the Yacht Club about the letter I wrote urging them to implement a recycling program, but I did see this blurb in the latest newsletter. It’s a start.

IMG_1783 (1024x851)10)  We got a new orb. Excuse me, magical orb. The old one we inherited from the previous homeowners was silver and in perfectly good condition, but we (my husband and the kids) decided that we needed a new one because something about old magic vs. new magic so… now we have a blue one.

image via missouribotanicalgarden.org

11) I had our magnolia tree treated for scale. Which are tiny little white bugs that don’t look like bugs but that are definitely bugs. Yucky bugs that wreak havoc on the tree. It was $120. It helped. I think. Yesterday I noticed that one of my lilac bushes was covered (I mean covered) with scale. I’m done spending money on the yard this year (budget is spent and cold weather is coming   soon), so I’m hoping and praying it doesn’t die. It’s my favorite. Please, please, please.

Acorns12) Acorns are already falling. Noooooo! Our neighbors have an oak tree that mostly hangs over our yard, driveway and garage. So plunk, plunk, plunk they go, all day long. When I was out planting the other day, I put a bowl on my head like a hard hat. I wasn’t taking any chances.

Here’s where I say I can’t believe it’s already September, but the truth is that I have been waiting for September for the last couple of weeks. I had the best summer, but I am so ready for school to start and excited for a new season to roll in. Have a great month!