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 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!

The November List

IMG_8919 (1280x1280)1) This tree off of Lakeshore Drive is one of the last remaining (pear? cherry?) trees that were planted when the French first settled in Grosse Pointe. I know this because Alan Marschke, owner of the Oriental Rug Gallery told me so. I had to cut his story short to pick up the kids from school (he told me what kind of tree as I was dashing out, but I forgot), but trust me, I am going back to see him soon and will report back.

2) I called the Grosse Pointe Historical Society to see if they knew anything about the tree. They seemed genuinely thrilled to help me find out more about it and they will get back to me in a couple weeks. She may also be able to dig up some historical information/photos for me about the street we live on – sweet!

IMG_9085 (1280x1280)3) Squirrels = creepy. I’ve said it before and now it’s official. (And next year I will be throwing the pumpkins away much, much earlier.)

4) 14 degrees is cold. It is even colder when it happens in early November and you don’t have snow boots or a parka or even wool socks because you weren’t expecting it to be 14 freaking degrees. For a whole week.

IMG_9017 (1280x1280)5) Winter clothes are expensive. Dang.

6) Once you do have the right winter gear, it’s kind of fun to play outside in the snow. For about five minutes.

7) Bunny tracks in the snow are really, really cute.

IMG_8957 (1280x1280)8) It was not fun, not fun at all, having the stomach flu go through our household. The only good thing about that week was capturing this moment where the little one was so exhausted that she crawled into bed on her own one afternoon and promptly fell asleep.

9) A police car pulled into my driveway one morning. Concerned, I went outside to meet him. He was there to deliver my wallet, which I’d left at the Farms Market (aka Fresh Farms Market, a local grocery store). Now that, would never have happened in San Francisco. Score one for Grosse Pointe.

IMG_9099 (1280x1280)10) I went to my first professional hockey game at the Joe Lewis arena in Detroit. We scored, we fist-fought, we won. Gooooo Red Wings (I actually quite enjoy hockey and had a great time).

IMG_9140 (1280x1280) IMG_9139 (1280x1280)11) Small town Christmas parades are awesome (even when its 27 degrees out and your toes freeze because you still don’t have wool socks). It’s one of the reasons why we came here. Not for the parade, of course. But for the small town community thing. I love it.

12) The newness of everything is starting to wear off, which scares me. What happens now, after I’m done unpacking and remodeling and settling in? Luckily, Christmas is just around the corner, and with two little girls in the house and family coming to visit, there’s lots to do to prepare. Wishing everyone a very happy December!

 

 

The September List

photo 2 (800x800)1) I’d forgotten how magical Fall is. I haven’t experienced a true Fall since I lived in Reno and that was almost 20 years ago (!). I can’t stop ooh-ing and aah-ing and taking photos (and I’ll have a bunch more to share soon).

2) Bug of the month: the cicada. A large, invisible (I’ve never seen one, have you?) insect that makes a loud buzzing noise. All day long. Wikipedia says, “Many people around the world regularly eat cicadas.” I can see that.

3) The worst peril of potty training is not your kid rolling around on the floor screaming “I want a diaper!” for 20 minutes. It’s when they finally poop in the potty and you go to empty it and your face gets splashed with toilet water.

4) I didn’t cry on the first day of school as expected. What I did do was giggle as I ate my lunch on the couch and watched Season 2 of Mr. Selfridge.

IMG_8297 (707x800)5) I’ve been wanting to check out J House Juice on Fisher and finally went in. In addition to a full Starbucks menu, they offer smoothies, fresh juices (Lucy and I shared a pineapple, grapefruit and ginger blend) and delicious coconut desserts that are big enough to satisfy your treat craving, but no so big that you wish you hadn’t.

6) The city of Grosse Pointe Farms does not want your old recycle bins. We bought one of their larger bins, so I called to ask if we could give back our small bin (they are currently out of stock, I happen to know).
Me:  Wait, you don’t recycle recycle bins? That’s kind of ironic, don’t you think?
Woman on Phone:  Well, residents don’t want used bins, they want new bins.
Me:  Wow, okay.
Woman on Phone:  They just don’t want to have a used bin, do you know what I mean?
Me:  I would want a used bin, actually.
Woman on Phone:  You could label it “trash” and we’ll come pick it up (Ummm). Or you could use it for something else.
Me:  Uh, okay, we’ll use it, thank you.

IMG_8330 (742x800)7) And the best Asian restaurant in Grosse Pointe is….(drum roll)…Trader Joe’s. Sad, but true. (And yes I’ve been to Bluefin Sushi). Maybe I’ve been deprived for too long, but the other day I whipped up their frozen sukiyaki, added some green onions and rice and I have to say, pretty darn good. Their orange chicken and pot stickers are also not half bad (do I need an intervention?).

8) A couple months ago, I requested a book from the library that was not in the Grosse Pointe library system or the State of Michigan library system. A couple weeks ago, I got an email saying the book was waiting for me at the front desk. Sure, Amazon is faster, but the library is free. Love.

photo 1 (549x800)9) We’ve painted the rest of the house, but now need to settle on a paint color that will tie our future kitchen to the family room. My husband has likened my paint selection process to that of a serial killer (really?).

10) I thought I would have all this free time when school started. I was going to be Martha Stewart on steroids. Baking, cleaning, taking lessons, general do-gooding. In reality, by the time I blink and have my second cup of coffee, it’s time to pick them up. Argh.

11) The day I do not have to make a school lunch, I will have all of you over for a champagne toast and a dip in the hot tub.

photo (735x800)12) Reupholstering a couch is not $600 (which I budgeted for). Or even $800 (my budget cushion). Not even close. So until we can afford it, the bright yellow floral couch and zebra rug will have to find a way to get along (but does it look like they’re @^#%$*  getting along!? The answer is no).