The November List – 2017

Another month gone and I’m struggling to keep up with pretty much everything.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all over town. It used to bother me when people decorated for the holidays before Thanksgiving, but here in the Midwest, where trees and plants are bare and the landscape is dreary, I appreciate some sparkle and color.

1) I decorated my office with a string of lights (nearly killing myself by balancing with one foot on my tall stool and maneuvering the lights with a meter stick), and we picked out a tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Really need something larger / more stately over the fireplace. One of those things you keep meaning to deal with that isn’t really all that important, so you never do.

2) My friend in Portland posted some of her amazing vintage Christmas wreaths on Facebook and I knew I had to have one. They are fun and festive and glamorous and kitchy and the girls were making squealing noises as I opened up the box and unwrapped it.

She can custom make one with whatever color palette you want. And no one else in town will have a wreath like yours, guaranteed.

3) I was so furiously writing last month’s list that I forgot to tell you about a wine and live auction I went to with my friend Renee. She wore these amazing shoes and I am always so impressed with her and anyone who can walk around in, let alone stand in, heels that high all night. And yes, I would if I could.

4) And oh my gosh the most exciting (exciting meaning !!!!!) part of the night happened on the way home when our Uber driver possibly/most likely saved our lives by slamming on the breaks in an intersection where we had a green light. He stopped just in time as we watched a car fly across the intersection.

We were so grateful that we didn’t even get mad when he:
A) Got pulled over by the cops for a busted headlight (Me upon seeing him pull up in his old minivan, “Ummm he has a headlight out, do you think that’s okay?”)
B) Missed the turn to my house at which point he put the car in reverse on Lakeshore Drive. (Renee upon realizing what was happening. “Ummm sir? Sir? Um, people don’t normally reverse on this street.”)

5) The freelance project I’ve been working on for months is finally done and it is beautiful! I’m not a big jewelry person (although I will take a blinged out cocktail ring if you want to give one to me), but after working with all this high-end luxurious jewelry, I’ve kind of changed my tune. Not that I can do anything about my newfound love of expensive jewelry, but hey.

6) Speaking of bling, my school auction is full speed ahead. Every so often we receive a donation from people who are moving or clearing out space in their home, etc. This interchangeable watch donation was particularly WOW, so I put it on and wore it for a couple hours at work.

I have to say that initially I tee-hee-ed about, but it did grow on me after a while because it is so beyond ridiculously quirky. And rarely does anything ever fit my skinny wrists!

7) Speaking of work, I recently read that the plastic in Keurig cups can leech into your coffee, and when ingested can act like estrogen in your body. Which means I shouldn’t be using them (I take medication that basically zaps estrogen from my body). And we only have a Keurig at work.

SO. I was all, I’m going to be so cool and European with my French press and that lasted about two days because it took so dang long and was messy to clean up.

So now it’s Trader Joe’s instant coffee for me every day after lunch. It’s quick, easy and reminds me of college. And no that is not my purse in case you were wondering, it is an auction donation if you would like to bid on it in the spring.

8) When I was at couples bowling (because we’re cool like that), I got a text from my Auntie that my mom had fallen and possibly broken her shoulder. It turns out that it was her collarbone that broke, not her shoulder, but it’s still going to be a very long and painful recovery. Send good thoughts and prayers over to her, please!

9) As I was out shopping at Barnes & Noble for my husband’s birthday present, one of the staff pointed out a book she felt he might like based on my description of what I was looking for. I knew immediately it was too magic-y for him, but it was right up my alley, so I bought it.

I am loving it so far (and i really love the cover also!) and I am about a third of the way in. If you like adventure and old London and magic, you will not be disappointed.

10) I always make an apple pie for my husband’s birthday and here it is and it was so delicious. I think I purposely block out of my mind how much I like pie so that I don’t eat it every single day of my life.

11) I dug up my dahlia tubers this month, and brought them to Detroit Abloom’s new root cellar (if you donated to the cause – THANK YOU!) to store for the winter. I am hopeful that most will make it and am already plotting out where to put what next spring.

The labeling part is tricky because if you don’t do it while the blooms are still on the plant, you risk not remembering which plant was where (oopsies).

12) This is what it looks like when you finish bowling and the dining room at the Yacht Club is closed so you end up at Irish Coffee and you are STARVING.

Thus concludes another month of Grosse Pointe life. Enjoy your December and have a wonderful holiday season!

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The October List – 2017

Another frantically written list. Because life is nuts.

October wasn’t particularly quick or hectic, it’s just that I put off writing the list and then I kind of forgot about it so of course I am writing it now, when I have a freelance project due (but thank you Jesus, for the work, I am serious!) and feel an almost migrane coming on.

1) The last of the Detroit Abloom flower share bouquets were delivered the second week of October. What a season! I loved seeing the buckets of flowers on my porch every week. Already looking forward to next season, which promises to be even more exciting.

2) My own dahlias were ah-maz-ing to watch and they were in bloom all month long. There are several blooms still holding on, but the buds will not be opening, so sad.

3) I am slowly figuring out my camera. I try to take a few photos every day to practice and learn something new. I’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos, to refresh the one class I took back in high school.

I took these photos of Sam, as I was testing out different apertures. He’s an old man, but is doing very well, considering his age of almost 12. He still gets ridiculously excited about food and loves playing with his stuffies. He brings me joy and I love him sooooo much!

4) So I turned 45 this month. Waaaaah! It was a hard one for me. I’ve already gone on and on social media, so you will get spared from my lament here on the blog.

5) I escaped the woe is me stuff one evening when my friends took me to dinner at the new Corktown restaurant, Lady of the House. The ambiance is really sweet, the bar looked cozy and the Irish-inspired menu was interesting and yummy.

Definitely I would go again for the parmesan cauliflower, salad (I usually do not like getting salad at a restaurant, but this one sounded and also tasted delicious) and fried donut things.

6) Warning! If you are not yet in your 40s, take note. When you purchase the ultra magnifying light-up face mirror at Costco because your eyes are getting to where they can’t see detail very well, the first time you plug it in and look into it you are in for a surprise. You might even scream.

7) My friend Julia at Detroit Abloom made me the most beautiful flower collar for a work event I attended. It was delicate and wild and colorful and super unique.

8) This guy came to visit one weekend afternoon. Our 6-year-old spotted him. Hawk or falcon?
I just love the large birds, they are so majestic.

9) We had several wind storms come through. One nearly ruined all my dahlia blossoms, so I ran out that day and clipped them all to bring them inside. They were not going to last much longer anyway (and notice my brand new birthday-present snips in the background! Yippee!)

In another storm, the flowering pear that dropped a huge branch on our front yard a couple months before we moved in to the house, dropped another large branch. The city does not mess around and within hours, a truck was out chopping it up and a day or so later, someone else came to chop it down and a couple days after that the stump was ground up and that was that.

10) So my houseplants are doing awesome. Okay, no. These are them, waiting for the compost bag, which they miraculously found their way into after a couple of days (if you want anything put away, just put it on the back patio because that is one spot my husband does not like to see things out of place)!

Headache update: It did NOT turn into a migrane, thank goodness. Thanks to Advil, which I finally had the sense to take. Also, I prematurely published this post by clicking the Publish button instead of the Save button (which I have done SO many times before, I wish a pop-up would ask are you sure you want to publish this post, you idiot!), so to all my subscribers who got a half-written post, I am sorry! And you’ll never know because this was written after the fact!

11)  It was a relatively warm October, but the week before Halloween we got a dose of cold and of course on Halloween day and night, it was very crisp and chilly out! At least it wasn’t raining, definitely tolerable. The girls had a great time trick-or-treating and even got to keep five pieces of candy. Ahahahaha. #theyloveus

12)  Okay, so my Dad’s birthday is the same day as my birthday (actually vice versa since he was born first). And our SF sitter Alyssa also has an October birthday and for some reason when the girls made cards this year, they said Happy Birthday AND Happy Halloween and they were much more excited about the Happy Halloween portion of their cards.

Also, I’m not sure what a vampire taco is, but I never want to see one in real life.

13) An extra number because I’m so happy with my “new” office. I spent a couple days over the summer sprucing it up.

I rummaged around the building’s many storage rooms and found an old draft table that a former art teacher used to use and got rid of my old desk, swapped out my boring black chair for a cool orange one that was hiding across the hall, brought a bookcase down from the third floor, vacuumed up the homeless person who was living under my desk, bought a metal stool, threw on an IKEA sheepskin and voila!

I guess October WAS pretty jam packed, because I didn’t even get to tell you about The Garden Detroit fundraiser or the Bees in the D honey that is quintessential honey tasting, I mean just divine.

Maybe I’ll put those in another post, but chances are, I’ll turn around and it will be November and time for another list already. The leaves are finally giving us a display of beautiful Fall color. They took their time this year changing, but they are out in full force now.

I appreciate all you readers! Have a great November!

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The September List – 2017

Fall weather has finally kicked in, after a four-day heatwave with temps in the high 80s. I loved it. What I usually do to get these lists started is look at the photos I’ve taken for the month. Basically this month I’ve taken photos of flowers, which I’ve already shared with you. Soooo….I’m fresh out of ideas. This should be interesting.

1)  I told you about my new camera, but let’s go into detail. It’s a Sony a6000 with an E 50mm/1.8 oss lens, whatever that means. I trusted my friend’s photographer friend’s recommendation and just went with it. At first, it was very frustrating, not knowing all of the hundreds of different options. And I still don’t know them, but I’ve figured out how to at least take a decent photo with some tweaking of shutter speeds and aperture and all of that.

2)  I also bought the Adobe Elements photo editing program that I’ve been playing around with. It’s definitely more intuitive than Photoshop, but is going to take some figuring out, but I am hopeful.

3)  My dahlia garden is in full bloom, having loved the burst of sunshine we got last week. The best light is early evening, which is when this photo was taken.

4)  One of my last great summer homemade meals was this fettucine dish with peas, spinach, parmesan cheese and cream. The only thing that would have made it better is more cream and bacon.

5)  So now I am in charge of my work’s Instagram account. So I feel like I’m constantly taking and editing photos, which is great but also not great, because it leaves me with less time to take the photos I want to take. Thankfully, the other staff and teachers take loads of photos, so I need to rely on them more for images and just edit them.

6)  Over the summer I made some tweaks to my office, since I was going to be spending a lot more time there due to my increased hours. I took out two of the three desks and replaced one with a standing table. I keep forgetting to take an “After” photo, but here’s the before.

I did a LOT of spraying and wiping and vacuuming, you’d think there was a homeless person was living behind that desk. I managed to get some of the dust out, but since it’s an old building, some of it just will not budge.

7)  I still have a few vegetables in my little raised bed in our backyard. The chard is still looking good and there’s a little bit of kale. And a few carrots are hanging around, but no one cares to pick them because we all know they are super small and somewhat bitter, although very carrot-y tasting.

8)  I planted some of the nasturtium seeds from Shirley’s visitation. One in my stone bunny planter and the others near my vegetables. I’ve never planted them before and they grew easily, even with my neglected care.

9)  I replanted the hydrangea Shirley gifted me and I was SO nervous that it wouldn’t take well to its new and shadier surroundings. But I remember her telling me that one of the ways to learn about plants is to just try it. And if they die, then you try again, so I knew it wouldn’t upset her if moving it turned out to be a mistake.

It dropped a lot of leaves in the first month and for a while I thought I was going go lose the plant, and then in the last month or so, it decided to live, and even blossom. It still looks sparse, and this photo was taken when it was really cold outside, so the leaves are tight and look shriveled, but I’m hoping next year it will come back strong.

10)  My girlfriend hosted her annual mom’s back to school night, complete with champagne, donuts, craft cocktails and other fancy treats. I loved summer so much, but there is a giddy feeling that comes over me when the kids go back to school. Not as giddy as in past years, because this year it also means me heading into work vs. staying in my pjs and working from home, but exciting nonetheless.

11)  Our youngest turned six this month. It was the first birthday where I didn’t make the cake or cupcakes. I didn’t feel in the least bit bad about buying a store-bought cake, but I did sort of like the bragging rights of always making my kids’ cakes. Ah well. Local restaurant Marais did a really nice job on the two cakes (couldn’t decide between coconut and chocolate, so of course had to get both). They were a pretty penny, but so much tastier than another bakery would have done.

12) I can’t believe I made it to number 12! Just finished my third Tana French book, Broken Harbor. It was sooooo good. The ending got a little drawn out, but since the rest of the book was so great, I’m only taking off a half star for that. If you love crime fiction, you must give her a try.

I will close by saying that being a working mom with three jobs (I’m not even kidding, I am still doing payroll for my husband, freelance writing on my day off and on the weekends, and working for the school) is completely nuts. Nevermind that we don’t have a cleaning lady like everyone else in town so add that to the list of thing to do on my “off” hours, which is so dumb b/c I’m never off the clock, really.

However, I remain insanely grateful, even guilty, for being able to do all these great things like buy cakes and drink champagne and work in an office with million-dollar views and complain about cleaning my five bathrooms in my beautiful house that is still standing. Have been thinking a lot about all the tragedy around the world, and it’s even making its way into my dreams. Sending good wishes to all of you this crisp fall day. Happy October!

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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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The June List – 2017

Beignets from the truck at Eastern Market. A summertime favorite.

It’s officially summer! I’m so happy for predictably hot weather and al fresca dining and lazy days.

1.  My baking instincts always kick in during the summer. Probably because of all the fresh fruit available, which makes me want to eat shortcakes and scones and pies. A quiche is always a great place to stash all the fresh produce I get from The Garden. Our chard was beautiful this year and I love Deborah Madison’s saffron quiche recipe.

My friend Julia went to the Ann Arbor farmer’s market and brought back a flat of strawberries for me. The girls helped me chop up the berries and I made our first strawberry shortcakes of the season. The Michigan strawberry season is pretty much over now, but that won’t stop me from making more shortcakes over the summer with store-bought organic berries.

And then at the bottom of the freezer I found the last of our New York-picked blueberries, so I made scones and tried a batch with strawberries, which came our really yummy.

2.  At the Garden this month, we had beautiful speckled and romaine lettuces, which have now all gone to seed, though I have a few leaves left in the fridge.

And also garlic scapes, the flower of a garlic plant that you cook and eat pretty much like you do garlic – stir fries, egg scrambles, pizza, whatever. I like them grilled.

3.  In our own little vegetable garden, we enjoyed a few peas and lots of mixed lettuce greens. The kale is still going strong and we’re hoping the carrots will be ready to pick in a couple of weeks. The green onions look very scraggly and sad, but they look a lot better than the ones I planted last year, which ultimately did not make it.

4.  The rhododendrons I cut back too far two years ago are finally coming back! They were beautiful this year and look healthy and happy. Our azaleas were also abundant this year.

5.  I still want to try growing peonies, but there are only a few spots in our yard that are sunny enough and those spots are full now with dahlias from Detroit Abloom.

They are doing well, but the bunnies keep eating the leaves and I’ve run out of netting and truthfully too lazy to go out and get more, so I’m just hoping for the best on the unprotected ones.

Back to peonies. I found some on my walk one morning growing along the side of someone’s house, which I thought was such a waste of beauty because they were tucked in a pedestrian alley that not many people walk along. Maybe the owners come out and pick them to enjoy inside. I hope so because they were gorgeous.

6.  It’s also spider season and we have a contract with a spider spray company, but they haven’t come by this year, so I don’t know what’s up with that. My Dad and his wife were here for a visit this month and we got to talking about brown recluse spiders, so whenever I see one in the house, I’m convinced it’s a brown recluse that is just waiting for an opportunity to bite me.

For sure there is a huge one in our basement, that lives at the bottom of the stairs. I would vacuum it up, but I’m afraid it will A) make a home in the vacuum dust bin and bite me when I go to empty it or B) I won’t be able to catch it and then it will be angry that I tried to catch it, making it vengeful and therefore out to get me.

7.  I’ve been going to weekly classes at Jabs Gym, which I’ve mentioned here before. I’m not a big sweat-er, but I always leave that class a hot sweaty mess.

What I haven’t mentioned is that I recently discovered that I pretty much can’t do jumping jacks anymore without peeing myself. Or jump squats. Or high knees. Getting older is so amazing! Reading glasses, peeing myself in cardio boxing, and finding several white hairs on my head (which I’ve never had except one strange time in my 20s) – all in a matter of weeks!

There’s a motto written on the wall, which I reworded to make my own.

If I take an earlier class, I always stop downstairs at Beyond Juice and treat myself to a Mango Tango smoothie and sometimes their cashew ball cookies.

8.  Anyhoo. Have you seen the curtains in our master bathroom!? If not, here they are in all their handbag glory. Before you start thinking I’ve lost my mind, they were left behind by the previous owners of the house. I used to hate them, but am now quite attached to them.

9.  My friend Kacy invited me to her husband Arlin’s (www.arlingraff.com) mural reveal party in West Village. He’s painted murals around the world, but this is his first Detroit mural.

The painting is really cool and is a lively addition to the small strip of businesses on the street (including the well-known Sister Pie). It sits on the wall of Detroit Body Garage, where I just took a class yesterday. If you are in the area, check it out!

A home in West Village.

10.  The following week I met up with Terra, owner of Detroit Body Garage, to talk about bringing a group of volunteers to the Garden. I walked her back to her apartment and then just took an hour to myself to have coffee and sit, an experience I rarely allow myself anymore.

Red Hook coffee is a cute little shop with great baked goods (I’m picky and most things elsewhere are too sweet) and their coffee is good. I got a lavender syrup shot, which they make in-house, in my macchiato, which was interesting, but I’m a traditionalist when it comes to coffee, so I probably wouldn’t get it again.

Across the street is beautiful mural by Detroit artis Ouizi. It’s a lovely thing to look at when you’re taking a minute for yourself.

11.  Coincidentally, the next day a group of us went to dinner at Craft Work, which is right next door to Red Hook. My husband and I had never been and we enjoyed the ambiance. Food was good, but you had to know what to get, which we didn’t. My appetizers were delicious, but I should have gotten the burger, which I’ve heard is fantastic, instead of the polenta, which was a little tasteless and dry.

12.  In mid June, my husband and I went to a white party fundraiser for an organization that throws celebration-of-life parties for kids who are terminally ill. There were many touching presentations and our table bid on a bunch of things and we came home with this painting, which is a little crazy, but I love it.

Tonight is the local fireworks display. Not sure if the little one will be able to stay up late enough, but we’re going to try. Hope all you good people have a great July 4th holiday and continue to enjoy your summer!

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