The July List – 2017

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

Current view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a wrap. Enjoy your August!

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Women’s March – Detroit

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Borrowed sign from a fellow marcher. Wish I’d thought of it.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was reluctant at first to attend the March. I didn’t know what to expect/I don’t like the unknown, I don’t like crowds and I don’t like negative/angry energy.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to go. For my girls, for my conscience. On top of that, I knew a handful of friends traveling to DC. The least I could do is drive 30 minutes to my local March. I reached out to my sister-in-law and asked if she was going and we made plans to meet up for coffee beforehand.

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I left the house around 8:30am. It was a beautiful foggy morning.

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I really hate driving on the freeway, so if I can ever avoid it, I do. I took Jefferson into Detroit and then some weird backroad route via my GPS. There weren’t a lot of cars on the road yet. I wish I’d stopped to take more photos of the city that morning.

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After coffee at Shinola, we walked to Wayne State, where the march was set to begin. A bunch of people on the street were headed the same way.

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Not too long after we arrived, a full crowd had assembled in the square. A young gal heard us lamenting that we regretted not making signs, and she handed my sister-in-law an extra one she’d made that said, “keep your tiny hands off my rights.”  Soon one of the organizers made an announcement over the loud speaker and we began to march per her instructions.

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I was impressed with the overall vibe of the March. People were laughing, enjoying others’ signage, smiling at each other, being courteous. Not once did it get ugly or violent in any way. There were mostly women, but there were also men, kids, babies, dogs.

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People honked and waved as they drove past. People in shops came out to watch and some cheered us on through their windows. You can barely see, but this is a shot of two folks in a window clanking cowbells.

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We marched for about an hour, following a U-shaped route around the campus.

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We passed the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Public Library.

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And ended up back in the courtyard, where upbeat girl-power music was playing and people were dancing.

An estimated 4000 people showed up to the Detroit March. I wonder what that number would have been if all the people who were hesitant to show up didn’t show up. I wonder what it would have been like if all the people who wanted to show up did show up.

I marched in remembrance of the women who marched before me. I marched for little girls who will soon become women. I marched for my gay, lesbian and transgender friends. I marched for immigrants. I marched for the environment. I marched for science.

The challenge for a lot of us is going to be continuing to fight for our freedoms – calling senators/representatives (which I hate, hate doing), attending more marches and protests, donating to equal rights organizations, etc. If we believe that change needs to happen, we need to be part of the change.

Dan Rather, who has surprisingly emerged as one of the leaders of democracy on social media, says it perfectly: “Democracy is much more than just the right to vote. It is the duty to participate….you can’t forsake your voice and then complain about not being heard.”

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Ailanthus Tree – The Take-Down

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Last summer we had weeds. Not just any weeds but weeds that I eventually learned were coming from our super tall ailanthus tree. I did some research and sure enough, this tree is considered an invasive species in many states, including Michigan. One neglected weed grew to over six feet tall within a matter of weeks! Our neighbor pointed it out to me and it was promptly (although not without some difficulty) pulled up by me.

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The tree originates from China and was introduced to the U.S. in the late 1700s. It is called the “Tree of Heaven,” probably for the tall heights it can reach, but when you google it, other common names are “Tree from Hell” and “wonder-weed.”

Small ailanthus trees in Detroit

One interesting tidbit that I got from the Detroit Tree of Heaven Woodshop (where I also got the above image), an organization that makes creates art/items out of ailanthus wood, is that these trees started popping up in post-industrial Detroit when home became abandoned. They say “the quantity and height of Tree of Heaven specimen functions as a signifier for how long a place might have been abandoned.”

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I would have loved to chop it down last year, but after receiving quotes from several companies, realized it was something we were going to have to save up for. It was first on my gardening to-do list this year.

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Our backyard doesn’t allow for larger equipment to come in, so the company we used had one guy climb and cut the tree, and then a bunch of other guys on the ground helped guide him and move out the debris. Large pieces came down with a series of ropes (vs. throwing them down on the ground, which did happen with smaller branches).

Considering what a huge tree it was, they were quite fast and efficient.

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The stump was ground with a machine, leaving us with a huge pile of wood chips, which I’ve been dispersing around the garden

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I was thrilled to say goodbye to the tree. We now have a bit more light and hopefully, a lot less weeds this summer.

Alas, our next door neighbor has an ailanthus tree in their yard and you can be sure that I will be keeping my eye out on that side of the yard to make sure it doesn’t start invading our property as well! Happy gardening.

 

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 October List

IMG_8605 IMG_8589 (800x800)1)  Guess what? I found some delicious Asian food! It’s a 30-minute drive to Johnny Noodle King on Detroit’s Fort Street and it was worth it. They mostly have ramen noodles (duh), but a few appetizers, too. I got my favorite – miso ramen with pork belly. YUM. And I will be back.

2)  The 9-minute mile is so last summer. The 12-minute mile (maybe sometimes 13. or 14. or just walking) is way cooler.

3)  Just when I thought I could not make another design decision (spent seriously 20+ hours researching and finally coming to an agreement with my husband about which chairs would work for our kitchen table), I get an email from Fred the appliance guy, asking what color knobs we want for our stove. Put me over the edge.

IMG_8460 (800x800)4)  Sometimes it’s good to look down. (Case in point: this adorable fairy garden I almost missed).

5)  Most squirrels seen in the neighbor’s yard at one time: eight. Yes, there was a huge oak tree out front. And yes, it was super creepy.

6)  Just because it’s your birthday, doesn’t mean your kids are going to be angels all day because please dear God, give me a break already. On my birthday. For the love.

IMG_8619 (640x800)7)  Where can you munch on blackened filet mignon tips with Bearnaise sauce and get your bowling game on? The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, that’s where (okay so we joined a couple’s bowling league, no judgement).

8)  Speaking of the Yacht Club, we totally made fun of the Yacht Club and then about four months later we joined the Yacht Club.

IMG_8654 (721x800)9)  Insect of the month: this moth. I think he was in the process of dying (he was moving slowly and I tried to help him get back up in the air, but no go), but still so beautiful. I spent about one minute online trying to find out what kind of moth, but no luck (it is a moth, right? not a butterfly?).

10)  The previous owner of our house called my husband a couple weeks ago, asking him how we were liking the house and to remind him to change the filter in the hot tub. Nicest. Person. Ever.

11)  I called aforementioned previous owner regarding another matter and I told him we took the wallpaper down (he asked me what we’d done to the house – what could I do?). He said that wallpaper cost something like $100 a roll (according to one online source, for a 16 x 20 room, you need 16-20 rolls. And if you remember, the entire stairway, entryway and hallways were covered). Nervous laughter.

IMG_8446 (729x800)12)  There are drive-through everythings here. Post office boxes, pharmacies, kid drop-offs for school even. At first I was like…”okay, these people are LAY-zee!” And then I started using them and I LOVE them (I’m sure I will love them even more in Winter). Speaking of Winter, is it already here? Brrrrrrr….

 

Apples

IMG_8513 (800x800) IMG_8514 (800x800) IMG_8516 (800x800)IMG_8496 (600x800)A couple weeks ago we drove North to go apple picking (my first time!). It was great to be traipsing through the trees and the apples were gorgeous and delicious. My favorites were the Empires. We brought home a couple small bags, which the girls went through in two seconds. Next year we’re loading up.