The April List – 2017

So excited for lilacs!

Yay for Spring! Spring is my favorite season here in the Midwest. I so look forward to warmer weather and flowers and being outside.

1) There are a ton of flowering pear trees, I believe also called Bradford pear trees (?) in Grosse Pointe. They are really stinky – not sure what smells exactly, the blossoms? – but so pretty. They have a bad rap as being weak (we lost a huge portion of the one in front of our house in a storm right before we moved in), and possibly considered an invasive species? You’ll have to look this one up yourself. No time for research this week!

2) It’s so exciting watching plants come out of the barren ground. How they just rise from seemingly nothing and by summer are bursting with green, fluffy leaves and other colors. Amazing! And very uplifting. The photos above show the same plants three weeks apart, the earlier shots taken at the beginning of April.

3) I started tending the garden beds this month, weeding, sprinkling blood meal around the hostas (I still have to look up the spelling of this plant gah!) to deter bunnies from eating the young shoots, fertilizing (no pesticides!), planting vegetables (kale, peas, green onions, lettuce).

I thought of Shirley a lot as I was weeding around all the plants she’d gifted me and asked her what surprises she had in store for me this year. Not long afterwards, her daughter (professional gardener and horticultural writer/speaker), came over one evening during a visit to her Dad’s (she lives out of town).

She gave me loads of plant suggestions and tips specific to the different areas in our yard, one of them being to stop trimming my Japanese maple, which is supposed to be a weeping tree, but it hasn’t been weeping b/c I keep cutting it (but it is weeping on the inside). Oopsie.

Later that week, another of Shirley’s daughters brought over a box of hostas she’d pulled from her yard. And the following week, Shirley’s garden helper Trish (who continues to tend their garden) gave me three plants she’d divided and pulled up from Shirley’s plant beds.

If I think about it too much, I can make myself so sad when I’m out tending to my garden, as I’m used to seeing Shirley in her yard doing the same. I miss her sweet demeanor and positive attitude, and I miss learning from her. But it seems she intends to stick to her promise about continuing to live on through her loved ones and through her plants. I didn’t doubt her exactly, but it’s nice to be reminded.

Abandoned building

2014

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Today

3) Three years ago I lamented about Detroit’s Chinatown, or lack thereof in THIS entry. I’m happy to report that the vacant block pictured in my post (also shown above for those of you who aren’t click-through-ers) now has some new retail spaces, one of which is a Chinese restaurant called Peterboro.

Photo from ornamentmagazine.org

We went there with some friends after a workout session at Jabs Gym (more about that in a minute). It was after 10pm and there were 14 of us who walked in looking for a table and they were able to sit us at one of their high tables. The staff was friendly and patient and the food was yummy enough to satisfy my Chinese food cravings. Some dishes were really good while others were just okay. My husband and I went back for date night recently and tried a few new dishes, plus a couple of their craft cocktails. Two thumbs up!

4) Speaking of date night, the night we went back to Peterboro, I successfully put on some false eyelashes – woohoo! I’ve worn them before for the band, but they never felt right and I think it’s because I wasn’t cutting them to size or placing them about a 1/4 inch away from the inner eye.

I’d been complaining about my thinning eyelashes to a friend and she gifted me with a couple different pairs and some eyelash glue to boot. Also thanks to some very glamorous gal on a YouTube tutorial, I was able to nail the technique. They felt comfortable and looked awesome. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they looked natural, but that wasn’t exactly the look I was going for anyway, so I consider it a success. Once I get the technique down (I did a good job, but it took a while), you may not see me around town without them!

5) Speaking of going out, my workplace’s auction is coming up in May and I was going to recycle my New Year’s Eve dress, but decided to shop for something new.

After looking and looking, I found this fabulous number by Halston Heritage. It was sooooo awesome on but…I thought slightly inappropriate for a school function, so it got returned. Too bad, so sad.

After that disappointment, I decided again on the New Years Eve dress, but decided to give it one more shot at a local boutique called Dawood. The gal there was really nice and helpful, and I tried on a bunch of cute dresses, but decided on this little black one. I don’t normally go for the bell sleeve (in fact, I hate them), but they didn’t bother me on this outfit. Not as formal or fancy as I wanted, BUT it fits. And I can wear it again. And it didn’t break the bank.

photo from jabsgym.com

6) Back to Jabs Gym. A friend of ours hosted a group class at the Eastern Market location and it was so much fun you guys. We wrapped our hands, put on boxing gloves and and did a cardio workout with boxing moves. We each had our own bag which was nice.

I’m sure part of the fun was working out with my husband (which we never do. We are solo workout-ers.) and our friends. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop thinking about it and am dying to go back.

7) Our neighborhood pheasant is back, meaning he’s come out of whatever hiding place he uses over the winter. Many mornings over the last two weeks, he has woken me up around 6:30am with his peck-peck-pecking at our front door’s brass kick plate. I did finally get a good shot of him, though, strutting away from the door, after presumably being frightened away by my shadow.

8) Spring weather is grilling weather and I’ve been grilling as much as possible. Everything tastes better on the grill, am I right?

Sanuk Womens Yoga Sling 2 Black 7 B - Medium

9) I got an email from Zappos last week, telling me how sorry they were for not crediting my account for $148 like over 6 months ago. Which is surprising because I am usually so good at making sure my returns come through. In addition to crediting my account, they gave me $100 to spend – yippee! Best email ever.

Have you ever tried this brand of shoe? Sanuk? The footbed is made from yogamat material and yes it sounds gimmicky, but the first time I saw them was a year ago on the feet of a gal in the airport bathroom and I asked her about them and she raved about their comfort. So I ordered some to try.

10) I haven’t been over to the Garden nearly as much as I’d like this year, due to work, as I think I say every month. But I will be done with work soon and am looking forward to spending more time there.

I did go recently and got to pick tulips and plant carnations. Yes, carnations! I have an aversion to them, but the Detroit Abloom ladies are loving them right now. I’m interested to watch them come up and to see if I will change my mind about them.

The tulips we have this year as so beautiful. A variety called Angelique is fluffy and light and doesn’t look like a tulip at all. When open, it reminds me a little of a peony, one of my favorite flowers.

11)  I pretty much love chili pepper anything. The cocktail I had at Peterboro had chili oil in it, and my newest discovery – Trader Joe’s Chili Chocolate Collection.

These little discs are the perfect late-night snack, because they satisfy both the sweet and the savory. And they are only 50 calories each. They are supposed to range from mild to very spicy, but I have found that sometimes the ones labeled mild are spicier than the ones labeled spicy. So it just depends on the batch, I suppose.

12) Every year birds nest somewhere in the yard. We’ve already had several baby doves hatch. One momma made her nest in our little evergreen out back. The nest was at my eye level, so it was easy to peek in on her.

I hope you are enjoying your spring, wherever you are. Have a wonderful May!

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The March List – HAWAII – 2017

Woo-hoo, it’s a bonus list for the month of March! There are so many things to tell you about our Hawaii trip that I had to make a separate list for it. For this visit, we also brought my mother-in-law, a world-traveler who has never been to Hawaii. It was fun deciding what parts of the island to show her. If only we had more time…

1) Of course my all-time favorite thing about Hawaii is seeing family. My Grandma (above) is 94 and the oldest member of our Hawaii clan (can I just say how much I love that she is holding a corn dog in this photo!?).

My mom and Auntie organized a family gathering while we were there, which is not an easy feat given how many of us there are. So many reminders that day of how very blessed I am to call these good people family and friends.

2) Whenever there’s a gathering, there’s always dessert and Auntie is an expert. She made one of my all-time favorites – haupia sweet potato pie – which is a layering of macadamia nut shortbread, Japanese purple sweet potato and haupia (made with coconut milk, cornstarch and sugar). The best.

The kids helped her make brownies, which looked so pretty in the muffin wrappers. She also made halo-halo, a Filipino fruity concoction and baklava, which was so ono (delicious) per usual. As they say in Hawaii…”broke da mouth!”.

3) One of the stops we made was to Punchbowl National Cemetery, which I hadn’t been to since probably high-school, maybe college. It was beautiful, with huge Chinese banyon trees and flush gravestones. Loved seeing all the mid-century modern architectural details, which Hawaii has a lot of.

And possibly what may be the prettiest bathroom building I ever did see.

4) Speaking of, I did make a conscious effort this time to take photos of more interesting buildings. Ala Moana shopping center, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (a Waikiki icon), and downtown Honolulu.

5) The most beautiful building we saw was the interior of the Bishop Museum, another place I haven’t been to since probably middle school or high school. Walking into the building is definitely a “wow” moment. I tried to take photos of it, but could not do it justice, so here’s a pic from their official website.

It was built with lava rock and koa wood, and my husband read somewhere that the building itself is worth more than the historical artifacts the building houses. Not surprised.

6) We went to several beaches. Family-friendly ones (not too many rocks, no big waves) mostly, since the girls are still small and learning how to swim. I hadn’t been to Lanikai Beach since…..you guessed it, high school or college, but I’d recently seen a photo my girlfriend took of her son there and it looked sooo pretty.

There are no bathrooms or parking lots (street parking only, which is difficult), but we made a pit stop beforehand and got there early enough to snag an awesome parking spot. After a short walk down an alleyway, the beach appeared and it was so much prettier than the picture.

White, sandy beaches as far as the eye can see and a couple small islands a kayak ride away (we didn’t go out to them, but many people did). The water was turquoise in the sun and the weather was perfect that day – hot with just enough trade winds to cool you down but not make you cold.

7) We went to Chinatown on Sunday, our first full day in Hawaii. So great to have my Mom come along as well (she hasn’t been out of the house lately, as she helps take care of Grandma).

I love all the shops with interesting medicinal herbs and candies and roots and vegetables. My mom almost bought some sugar cane for the girls to try, but decided not to. I remember tasting sugar cane a few times when I was little. It’s sweet, but such a concentrated sweet and also slightly bitter, if I remember correctly. The more you chew it, though, the better it tastes.

We had lunch at Long Life Noodle. Pepper steak, walnut shrimp (one of my favorites that is so bad for you! Battered deep friend shrimp tossed with mayonnaise and condensed milk. I mean, super gross. And fried, candied walnuts. The combo of flavors is to die for), noodles, beef broccoli and orange chicken. I love good Chinese food so much!

8) Even if you’ve only been reading bits and pieces of my blog, you probably already know I’m a huge fan of the pot sticker, gyoza, mandu, etc. You say dumpling, I say yes. My husband and I escaped for dinner one night to a new (new to us) restaurant, again in Chinatown called Lucky Belly.

They had a tasting dumpling special, so obviously I got that. One was lobster, one was ox tail and the other was….I don’t know, probably traditional pork. Since Grosse Pointe has turned me into a cocktail drinker, I ordered a vodka gimlet, heavy on the lime. Perfect with the flavorful dumplings.

9) My eight-year-old brought her piano books with her and actually did practice a few times. It was very touching to see her play on the now very, very old and wonky sounding antique German piano that I learned how to play on.

I found a place here in Detroit that restores old pianos and I looked into the cost off bringing it over, but it would be upwards of $20,000 to repair, so sadly that will not be happening. Glad my mom still has it, though, and that it’s still somewhat usable.

10) I love going through the photo albums at my mom’s house. I came across these gems. We don’t have very many photos of all four of us together. Now that I’m thinking about it, probably less than 10, maybe less than five? I especially love the vintage Hawaiian one. My Dad’s mixed patterns. Wonder what Tim Gunn would say about that.

11) Almost forgot to mention the miso butterfish. Another one of my faves and one fish dish besides fish and chips that the girls will eat! It’s really simple to make, though I’ve never made it myself. You can’t get butterfish in Grosse Pointe that I’m aware of, but I think it should work with cod. If I ever make  it and it turns out, I’ll share the recipe!

12) On the morning of our flight home, my mom showed the girls how to pick stephanotis blossoms and leaves and red ginger flowers for lei-making. My mom helped our little one string a lei while Auntie braided the other one’s hair. It was a sweet moment that I’m glad they had before they were whisked off for a long day of travel and our busy lives back home.

Such a great trip. Can’t wait for the next one.

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The March List – 2017

April is here and has brought with it some beautiful Spring weather! I put away all our snow gear, so if we get another snowstorm before the start of summer, you know who to blame. Half of March was spent with family in Hawaii, and the other half was filled with these things…


1) Our dog Sam had surgery to get rid of cancer in his jaw bone. Half of his lower jaw is now completely gone, and as a result of surgery (Can’t remember specifics. Fatty tissue something or other), his left eye has rolled back into his head. So although he now looks super crazy, he’s still our good, sweet boy and we love him.

Recovery was hard, as he had to learn how to eat and drink with half a jaw and we are still changing towels under his water dish once a day (I’m guessing this will go on for the rest of his life). But at least he’s back to dry food in a bowl, because the hand-feeding took half and hour and the wet food would fly everywhere and fall out of his mouth and then he’d step in it and oh my goodness.

2) The girls made Get Well Soon cards for Sam and we taped them to his little display board by his food and water dishes. Translation: I want you to stay alive when you’re 100.

3) Last month I told you I made simple syrup for the first time. One of my favorite drinks to make with it is tequila, simple syrup, juice of one lime and a splash of Contreau. At the end of March, I made a batch of jalapeno syrup, which is delicious in a vodka gimlet.

4) When we were eating dinner one day, my husband spotted a large bird in the backyard. It stayed mostly motionless on the same branch for many minutes. We couldn’t figure out if it was a hawk or an owl or possibly an eagle (which we’ve seen in our backyard before just once) and we couldn’t get a closer look without scaring it, but the consensus after looking in the girls’ bird book is that it was a red-tailed hawk.

5) My mom bought us a new hallway light fixture from West Elm for Christmas, and we finally put it up this month.

6) Since I started the new job in November, I haven’t been at The Garden much, so it was really nice to see everyone and help out for a couple of hours at Detroit Abloom on volunteer day. Some friends from Wayne State came out to help do a big clean-up and we also weeded and lavender beds. Good for the soul on all accounts.

7) Speaking of the job, it is winding down, which is only to say that I have about two months left. The school auction is quickly approaching and one of the things our department had to do this month was narrow down the night’s menu. We went to a restaurant in St. Clair Shores called The Waves, that apparently used to have Hawaiian Don Ho-like music every weekend. I would have loved that.

8) Our book group book for the month was The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny. It was such a great read. I loved that although it was lined with humor and mainly a light read, there were also heartfelt moments and most importantly, the prose was so well-written, so it felt like a good literary read. I highly recommend!

9) I’m now reading Tana French’s third novel in her Dublin Murder Squad series, Faithful Place, which also had really good prose, especially given the genre. Although the subject matter is dark and it is suspenseful, it’s not super creepy or too heavy/hard to handle. I also highly recommend!

10) Two days before we left for Spring Break, I went to the DAC (Detroit Athletic Club) with a couple gals in celebration of one of their birthdays. We got pedicures and massages and drank champagne. It was divine. Afterwards we met up with the guys for dinner. Their coffee service was so nice and came with a monogrammed teapot and fresh whipped cream. Yum.

Burma Superstar’s Sesame Chicken via Foodspotting

11) I have been jonesing for Asian food ever since we left Hawaii. It’s like I got my fix and now I need more. I want Eliza’s pot stickers! I want Burma Superstar’s sesame chicken! Usually when I get like this, a helping of Trader Joe’s pot stickers with some extremely spicy chili oil/vinegar/soy sauce/onion dipping sauce will do the trick, but I can’t seem to shake the craving this time.

12) When we drove to the airport on our way to Hawaii, it was snowing. So wonderful to go from that to seeing sun every day, not to mention family and friends.

So excited for this new month of Spring and all the beauty it will bring. Happy April!

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How to Open a Coconut (Hawaiian Style)

If you’ve ever tried to open a coconut, you know it’s not an easy task. I remember when I first moved to San Francisco, I found a coconut in one of the small markets and was so excited that I bought it and took it home to eat.

After a couple tries with my chef knife and several more tries with a hammer, it did crack open, but when I finally managed to pick out all the shell from the meat, it was old, and kind of stale. Operation Open Coconut = Fail. Had this story taken place in Hawaii, the end result would have been completely different.

As it happens, our family spent the last 10 days visiting my family in Hawaii. We just got back yesterday and I am running on four hours of sleep (maybe) and the girls, who were miraculously able to sleep 10 hours straight last night, are going completely insanely bananas today of all days, please God make it stop. But I digress.

Growing up on Oahu, I had the luxury of eating fresh coconut all the time. Not only that, but I also had a Grandpa, Grandma, mom and auntie who would do all the work for me. #notspoiled

I’ve watched it go down millions of times, but it’s always good to get a refresher and during our recent trip, Auntie gathered us around and demonstrated the fine art of coconut cracking.

Before she got started, she recalled that Grandpa used to hold the coconut in one hand and whack it with a machete with the other hand, the way you take a nut out of an avocado. Oh my word. I remember his efficiency, but I don’t remember that specifically. Recommended for experienced coconut crackers only!

First, pick your coconuts. This is a key step. The best ones are somewhere between young and mature. How to know which is which? Zero idea. But who cares when you can just ask the man at Tamashiro Market to pick some out for you. Next, go outside. Could you do this in your kitchen? Sure, but why create extra work. Place the coconut on a newspaper for quick clean-up.

Grab your machete that’s been in your family for over 40 years and cut off any husk that’s sticking off the end of the coconut, allowing you to peel away the rest of the husk (which takes some effort).

After most of the husk is peeled, it’s easy to spot the line that runs around the coconut, separating it into almost even halves. This line usually intersects with the three eyes of the coconut. Interestingly, you want to cut the coconut across the main line or width-wise, rather than along the line or lengh-wise. I wasn’t paying attention at this point, because I was more interested in taking photos, so I have no idea why you do this.

If you’re like Grandpa or Grandma, you can tell which of the eyes is the weakest, in which case, you get a screwdriver and poke it and drain the coconut with very little spillage. If you’re like the rest of us, you skip that part and go straight to the whacking. Let out an “ahhh!” while you do it for effect. Plus, it just feels like the right thing to do.

As soon as the coconut splits (it should be a clean split, although not completely cut through, if you’ve done it correctly), hold it over a bowl to catch the water, which you will later freeze into ice cubes and use to add a touch of the tropics to your nightly vodka gimlet. After the water is drained, give it another good whack and voila. Two perfect halves.

Ask your mom with arthritic hands to cut the coconut up into small pieces. #sorry!! #harderthanitlooks Eat immediately. Or use in one of your favorite desserts. May I suggest a contemporary version of the traditional Filipino halo halo (which Auntie made) or haupia sweet potato pie (which Auntie also made), or use as a topping for yogurt (which I did do every day).

Finally, take a bunch of pictures of your freshly opened coconut because have you ever seen anything so magnificently white?

I love anything and everything coconut-related. Except maybe shaved ice, which tastes more like suntan lotion than coconut. But my favorite is a young-almost-mature coconut, freshly cut, preferably by a loved one, making it all the more delicious.

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The February List – 2017

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Hello, friends! I’ve not wanted to make a monthly list as much as I don’t want to make one now. Super busy at work, doggie troubles and so much to do before going on vacation in just shy of three weeks. But the list must go on.

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1) Food is always a good place to start and I am sooooo happy to report that I’ve mastered the recipe for Thai curry. Taking a virtual bow. I followed a recipe from my cookbook Simple Thai Food and tweaked it a few times (less fish sauce, less chicken stock, more curry paste, even more curry paste) to get it the way I like it.

It’s not San Francisco Thai restaurant quality, but it does beat out the local options we have here so I’ll take it. But it is a pain to make so there’s that.

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2)  I keep finding Ken’s head in strange places. Here he is, under the kitchen table. I’ve found his body behind the dollhouse in my littlest’s room and his head was behind the dresser in her room the other day. You tell me.

paczki3)  Why is it that only this year I am hearing about paczki? Does everyone but me know what that is? It’s not something I ever had in Hawaii or California, but apparently you eat it around Mardi Gras and it has some kind of jelly-filled center, which sounds very unappealing to me, but I still feel like I need to try one just because.

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In Hawaii we have malasadas, which I believe to be the most superior version of fried dough. I will confirm, once I’ve tried a paczki.

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4)  In December I met up with Kacy Johnson who is doing a fantastic portrait project, written up in Vanity Fair Italia and Huffington Post, called FEMALE, where she takes shots of women’s backs. I was her first Detroit photoshoot and she published the photo this month.

She had just moved from San Francisco to her home studio in Detroit, so we had that in common and she really was just a lovely person and as sweet as can be. Her dog Caju (cashew in Portuguese) kept us entertained. The shoot took all of two minutes. I thought it was a great experience. If you are in the Detroit area, she is still looking for subjects, no prerequisites, and I urge you to give her a call to participate.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset5)  Our big girl turned eight this month. We celebrated over the weekend on the most beautiful February day ever, thanks to global warming. It was nice to be outside for most of the day. I raked a bunch of leaves and dug up some plants and the girls played with the the new archery birthday gift from Grandma.

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She chose to go to the Red Crown for dinner because she loves getting their milkshakes and burgers. I’m surprised more places around here don’t serve milkshakes.

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6)  As an early birthday present, my mother-in-law and I took the girls to see The Lion King at the Detroit Opera House. I’d never been inside the building and of course it was so beautiful and the play was so fun.

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7)  We met up with our bowling group one evening at Marais. The idea was to eat in the bar area, but it was packed on this particular Friday night and there wasn’t room for all eight of us. I could go on and on about the horrible service, but I will just say that it took forever and a day to get us seated (there were about three other tables?) and we waited over an hour for food.

My small side order of french fries came out first and everyone was SO hungry by this point (10 o’clock?) that I passed it around we each had a few. However, the seafood platter was worth the wait. So fresh, so good. And by the time I had several bites of crab, shrimp and lobster in my belly, they were forgiven. But only just, so I hope they figure things out soon.

recipe-simple-syrup8) Speaking of margaritas (my friend across the table at Marais was drinking them that night), I finally made my own simple syrup! The thought of doing it was way more annoying than actually doing it, which was of course one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. It’s basically boiling water. I added ginger to the mix, to give it some zing, but I should have grated it more or left it in longer, because I can’t quite taste it.

I’ve had about five homemade vodka gimlets since then, some good some bad, and last night I made a margarita-ish version with tequila and Contreau. Perfection.

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9)  Speaking of vodka gimlets, I had one on my Valentine’s Day date at Chartreuse, still one of our favorites. The appetizers were delectable, the entree was…as expected and the desserts, exquisite. They added basil syrup to their vanilla pudding, an addition we didn’t love, but it was still so good. I’d go back just for the pudding.

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10)  I barely had time for the Garden this month, but I did manage to go down there for a couple hours one afternoon to help plant onion seeds. I enjoyed the short time I spent planting and hope that after things calm down at work, I can make it out there more often. #therapy

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11)  Our work team went on a field trip to scout potential event spaces for our live auction. One spot was a renovated (still in process) old factory building in Corktown and another was a design space called dPOP! in the historic Chrysler House downtown (Quicken Loans building now). One of the rooms is an actual bank vault, where we’re thinking about doing a wine tasting/happy hour event. Pretty cool.

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12) Woo-hoo! Made it to the end of the list in record time! I leave you with this photo of my mom’s rose plant. I think it was taken last month or even earlier, but I’ve been thinking about Hawaii a lot because we are going for spring break – yippee!

Happy March, everyone!

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The December List – 2016

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Looking out at the Detroit River (beyond the tree line)

Happy New Year, all! December had the typical hustle and bustle of the holidays and then some. Here are the highlights…

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1)  Early December brought our first snowstorm of the season. The girls were so excited and played outside all day, and that night we got the call that school was cancelled the next day – yipee!

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2)  Everything looks more beautiful in the snow. When driving through Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmer’s neighborhood, I had to stop and snap a photo of this burned home. It looked so calm and peaceful surrounded by all that clean, white snow.

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3)  I’m a little less thrilled about the shoveling this time around. It wasn’t so bad once I got into it, but it does kind of suck being out there at night, huffing and puffing while you watch your neighbor fire up his blower and finish the job in a third of the time and minutes later, having to move aside as the city plows come through and throw wet, dirty snow on the driveway where you just shoveled.

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2)  I chopped my hair off! Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but was nervous about since I’ve had long hair for the last 15 years.

I scoured online for the perfect cut and made an appointment with my hair stylist. I knew the experience was going to be traumatic, but it was even more so when I realized that I’d been given a mom bob vs the chic cut I had requested! Oh. My. Word.

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What I imagined I’d look like vs. what I actually looked like. Nailed it!

My stylist was really nice to accommodate me the next day and put more layers put in, but there wasn’t a lot she could do because too much length had already been cut to achieve the look I wanted.

I made an appointment at another salon a couple weeks later, and the gal there fixed it up a bit so now at least I look more hip and less like a suburban mom. At least that’s what I tell myself.

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4)  For some reason (well, I suspect the reason, which was also probably the catalyst for my haircut – the cuckoo election! Gah!)  I have been really into murder mysteries lately. I hate gore and anything too psychotic, but I have been devouring the genre (escapism!?). I just finished the Robert Galbraith series (JK Rowling) which fit my mystery bill perfectly (not too icky, not too scary, great characters, good plot) and I just picked up these three titles from the library. Have read about 10 pages of “The Passenger” and am already sucked in.

My book journal (book title, author, number of pages, and a short review) says that I read 15 books in 2016. Not bad, but I hope to have a longer list this year. Some of my favorites this year were “Beer Money” by Francis Stroh, “Before the Fall” by Noah Fawley (so good. Don’t let the premise deter you) and the Robert Galbraith books. Comment with your recommendations!

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5)  Another hot-off-the-presses article from the local paper.

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6)  So I went to an event at the Yacht Club where a male model was walking around with Chanel shoes on a platter.

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7)  After eight years of a silvery Christmas tree, I switched it up and went gold this year. New glittery balls and a new star. Before I moved to Grosse Pointe, I pretty much hated gold anything and now I kind of love it.

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8)  Sometime around Thanksgiving, I brought up a couple boxes of Christmas stuff to sort through. I put a small box of gifted ornaments (ones people have given us over the years) in the dining room cabinet, so the girls wouldn’t go rifling through it after school.

I completely forgot about that box and when it was time to trim the tree, I started panicking that I’d mistakenly donated that box along with some other holiday items at the end of last year.

When I say we turned over the entire house, I mean I spent over a couple frantic hours going through all cabinets, closets, rooms, the space above the garage (okay, my husband did that one), the furnace room, everything. Except the back of the dining room buffet, obviously. After accepting that they were in fact gone, I found the box several days later while looking for a platter. Oopsies.

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9)  We made sugar cookies for Santa, as we always do, but this year I tried a new recipe that included vanilla and almond extracts, and cream of tartar, which I’ve never used before.

The first batch came out very poofy, but they were super delicious, so I will probably go with the same recipe next year and tweak it. The girls didn’t put up a fuss about it (it could have completely given them a meltdown, you just never know with these things), so it was all good.

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9)  I went to our youngest’s class Christmas party, which was also a pajama party. Holy cow, all those kids in their pjs = so much cuteness.

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10)  I made a sweet potato pie for my December book group. I usually don’t add the bourbon, but this time I did and whoa. The girls were so nice and pretended it tasted good but it pretty much tasted like alcohol! Hahahaha. Note to self. But it looked pretty. And the toasted maple pecans were yum.

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11)  The Garden Detroit’s new hoop house is almost complete! We are so excited. Thank you to all of you who have contributed towards the project. We still need about $5k more, so if you are feeling extra giving this season, you can donate through our website!

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12)  We rang in the new year at a friend’s celebration at the Dearborn Inn. A couple hours before we were supposed to head out, I tried my dress on (I haven’t worn it for about a year) and I don’t know if it got stretched out or if a year of yoga shaved some volume off my booty or what, but it was about an inch too long! Luckily the sweet ladies at our dry cleaners were able to fix it in a jiffy.

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We haven’t gone out on New Year’s Eve since before the kids were born, so it was quite a treat. And I haven’t stayed up til 2am since I don’t know how long. It was a fabulous event. Beautiful decor, dinner, dancing, cocktails, friends and lots of laughter. A perfect way to ring in the new year!

I am nervous but also hopeful for what 2017 has in store for us. Ready or not, it’s here and it’s already moving along quickly! Blessings to all of you for a wonderful year!!

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