The February List – 2019

I am beyond. Just beyond. I have no brain capacity during a week when I need it most. Deadline week. Always a killer. So I do what one can only do in these situations. Procrastinate. Which, I have to say, is not one of my weaknesses. I would rather get stuff done. And right now, I’m knocking The List off my list.

1) It’s the beginning of March in Michigan. Which means it’s 10 degrees. I also am beyond done with winter. We had another ice storm in early February and everything shut down. Again. Then temperatures dropped slightly and wind came and then you had chunks of ice falling from trees and rooftops. Gah.

 

 

2) I can pretty much gauge my life by emoji usage and this month, my most used emoji was the horror/terror emoji. So that. When I went to Google it, it’s officially called “face screaming in fear.” Pretty much.

3)  Did I ever tell you about the time my friends from Ohm Coffee Roasters sent me a Christmas gift out of the blue? We love each other, but we don’t normally exchange Christmas gifts, hence the surprise. These types of gifts given in love with no strings attached are always the best kind, no matter what they are, although in this case it was a delicious assortment of small batch roasted coffee beans. I haven’t surprised gifted very often, but when I have, it’s made me feel so happy. I would like to do more of that. Maybe you can, too.

4)  I have always loved Valentine’s Day, even when I didn’t have a Valentine. I am a sucker for true love and celebrating love in general (although make me sit through a romance movie and I am in agony), plus PINK. This Valentine’s Day was uneventful, aside from my sweet bouquet from Willa Rose Floral (thank you! And thank you, Valentine, for getting them for me!), because life and stress and whatnot, but my littlest gave me this Valentine, I mean, who needs date night when my seven-year-old lupine loves me? I’m all set.

5) Can we talk about typos for a minute? Because I always seem to have them in this blog. People actually pay me to write nice things and not make mistakes like typos. Am I apologizing? Not really. Defending myself? Not that, either. I’m simply saying I think it is ironic that as a professional writer, I can’t get it right on my own work. And also I know that you know. And now you know that I know, too.

6)  We worked on a lot of puzzles this month because winter, ice storms, etc. This one I haven’t done since my husband and I rented a place in Anderson Valley, California one weekend when I was pregnant with our first. It’s a Swiss Chateau.

This photo was taken a couple weeks ago and now it’s a lot further along, but not finished, and it will never get finished because I’m having The Garden Detroit board members over for a meeting and I need the table. I suppose I could put some people’s dinner plates on top of the puzzle but…I don’t know, that’s not super classy, no?

7)  Speaking of our first born, she turned 10 this month. She requested my coconut cupcakes (aka Ina Garten’s coconut cupcakes) with cream cheese frosting, which I gladly made. They never disappoint.

She begged for a sleepover birthday party, which I was hesitant about, then had the brilliant idea of holding it on Presidents Day weekend, seeing as everyone would be out of town. Aaaaaaand everyone was in town. We had seven girls over, plus our two. Aside from the screaming (happy girl screaming, but screaming nonetheless), all went surprisingly well.

8)  I did a craft (which may surprise some of you, but I was actually quite crafty back in the day) for the party. This project I found online where you break crayons, put them into silicone molds, bake them and voila. I read a tip about soaking the crayons in warm water to get the wrappers off and that saved me.

The girls had fun doing all the steps, and when I took the molds out of the oven, I goofed and spilled some of the hot wax (face screaming in fear emoji), but contrary to my initial reaction, the crayon hearts still came out great.

9)  Okay, let’s talk about my new La Creuset dutch oven. First of all, it’s blue. Secondly, I made beef burgundy (yes I do know it is capitalized, but I don’t want to so #notatypo) in it the other week.

Pretty much the exact same recipe I always use for the crock pot, but this time threw it in the dutch oven and oh my goodness. Picture is kinda gross, but it tasted amazing. Huge difference. All the flavors came together in a way that they just don’t in a crock pot. I still love the crock pot for the ease of  it, but whenever I make stew of any kind, I’m going to have to defer to my trusty dutch oven.

10)  We can also talk about chocolate. My new after-lunch snack at work is a Trader Joe’s chocolate peanut butter cup. It’s such a treat and I look forward to it every day.

Next, is another new-ish favorite that my friend introduced me to, are Hu bars, my favorite being cashew butter and raspberry jelly, which does not sound very good, but it is. The price of a bar has gone way up since the one store in town started carrying them, though, so they are a rare treat. I haven’t tried the cashew butter and vanilla bean and I bet I’d like that even more.

11)  I didn’t read the book group book for this month because I am just too dang busy, and also because I am enjoying my current book, “Stiletto,” the sequel to “Rook,” a light fantasy/adventure book by Daniel O’Malley. The writing is smart and fast-paced and fun, and the characters steer the book as much as the plot. You really should read the first book first.

Mom’s hibiscus

12)  I have run out of things to talk about. Not much happened this month because work kind of took over. I try to maintain gratefulness, although if you’ve run into me lately you may not have figured that. But I do give a quiet nod to all that I have. Health, family, choices. And a prayer of thanks for it all. I think you can be stressed and tired and cranky, and thankful at the same time.

March is going to be another doozy of a month, but here’s to warmer days (maybe) and fewer hours at work (possibly) and more pressing on (surely). Happy almost spring!!

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The January List – 2019

Not really starting off 2019 the way I wanted to. This is one of the latest Lists ever. I blame it on the Polar Vortex, knowing that really it’s because January is one of my busier months at work, and I flew to Hawaii for a week for my grandma’s funeral.

And now that I’ve remembered the List, I can’t concentrate on any of my other projects until I’m done writing it, and I have a freelance project due at the very least by tomorrow morning, so I need to crank this out.

1) We rang in the New Year with friends at the Dearborn Inn, as we have for the last three years. Shoutout to Emerald City Designs, who is also does the auction for the school where I work. They always do an amazing job. This year they featured centerpieces with flocked foliage, which is “in” right now, but not overly trendy.

2)  December was mostly void of snow. January it snowed and iced and everything in between. We had a total of six snow/ice/broken boiler days (school/work) this month, half of them during our Hawaii trip. The day of the ice storm, I moved two morning meetings to the afternoon because I am such a wimp driver in bad weather. But I wasn’t the only one, I mean school was cancelled.

3)  I can always tell how cold it is outside by looking at my rhododendrons. When it’s below freezing, their leaves are tiny little things, shriveled up and sickly looking. Between 30 and 40 degrees, they are slightly more open and above 50 they look healthy and happy. When it was below zero, they crumbled up into themselves to where each bunch looked like a single stick clump.

I’m very impressed with their survival skills and am hoping my other plants will hang on as well. Above pic, about 29 degrees.

break – Littlest keeps asking me when dinner is. I’m going to pause and attempt to make creamy Tuscan chicken, because I can’t stop thinking about it since we had some at a friend’s house last weekend.

back – Chicken came out good enough. Next time I need to double the sauce. I meant to take a photo, but forgot until we were cleaning up.

4)  I am so ridiculously tired. Exhausted. From the weather, work and kids. I had a coffee an hour ago and feel nothing. How am I going to make it to number 12 ?!?!? Also I have no photo to put with this number. I could take a selfie and post that, but I’m not willing to self deprecate on that level.

Instead I searched the interwebs for “tired busy mom” and give you this. Although I’m not sure why one of her hands is holding a martini, although I suppose one must make time for cocktails?

5)  My best buddy turned thirteen this month! Here he is with his new Christmas toy from Santa.

6)  Went to the new Grosse Pointe Park spot, The Charlevoix for the first time this month. They have a small menu, but everything is so good. What’s not to love about tacos and po’ boys when done right. And the drinks! They nailed the spicy margarita. Exactly how I like it. In this pic are the salt and pepper shrimp, which were super spicy and really good, and up top, the collard greens and coconut salad, which I loved.

7)  We voted in several new Board members this month at The Garden Detroit and I’m super excited about the new team. We’ve been taking turns hosting meetings and cooking for each other, which is nice. A lot of exciting things happening this year, stay tuned!

8)  Had game night with dominoes, champagne, Hummers and Georgie the French bulldog. My one girlfriend is really good about inviting people over just to hang out, something I need to get better at – the impromptu gatherings. It’s a little harder having to take the little kids into account, but still very doable. Perhaps a New Years resolution for 2019. I haven’t quite finished the mental list.

9)  So Hawaii. Once I open that whole can of worms (which, as cans of worms go, would be a very lovely can), I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop because I have SO many thoughts about it and SO many photos, I mean where do I begin?

I will say that the girls and I left on a Saturday, just as the first big snowstorm began (my husband, who drove us to the airport, had to pull over and stop on the way home to wipe the windshield because the car ran out of wiper fluid). My husband joined us the following Thursday, and we all returned on a Monday, which happened to be a snow day.

On the day of our flight home, my sister and cousins began piecing together our very large family tree.

10)  This trip was mainly about my Grandma, celebrating her life, coming together with family. But it was also about me in that I felt a shift. In a good way, I think. A shift in attitude, a shift in perspective. Something that maybe I’ll get into at some point here if I get my act together.

11)  And food. Hawaii is always about food. Have you tried opihi?

I haven’t, but I’ve had the opportunity to several times. It’s a Hawaiian delicacy that’s extremely dangerous to harvest. The opihi stick to the sides of very sharp rocks in the ocean. Apparently the guy main guy people used to buy opihi from died from harvesting opihi.

This particular batch was brought over from Hilo by one of our relatives. I just read an article that the “teeth” of the opihi may be “the strongest biological material known” to man, stronger than spider silk.

12) Number 12! I have nothing else for you. Except this photo taken the day we returned to school/work after all those snow days. OH. I do have something. My friend recently posted an article ranking all the states in terms of weather. Hawaii was number 1 and Michigan? Number 49. I don’t disagree.

Here’s the link if you want a haha. Based on the several places I have lived, it’s actually pretty spot on. THE ARTICLE

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! And have a great rest of February.

The December List – 2018

I started this post by writing 2019 in the title, then deleting it, only to write 2019 once again, before correcting it to 2018. I started writing 2019 about two months ago, actually. On checks, work documents, etc. Maybe that means my mind has been ready for 2019 or maybe it just means I’m tired. Whatever the case may be, here we are in 2019! But first, December 2018.

1)  We did not have a white Christmas, nor did we get much snow at all this month. The most snow we got this month (and it was just a dusting) was on December 30th. The girls played outside for about an hour before it all melted away.

2)  I do love the spirit of Christmastime and I love picking out our tree and decorating. We always hang up our German ornaments and my mom’s crocheted snowflakes that I hope last forever.

3)  Our family Christmas traditions are few. We always do a chocolate advent calendar, and then several years ago my Dad and his wife gifted us with a Scandinavian-looking wooden advent calendar. The intent is to put little trinkets in each drawer, but the cavity is so small and even the tiniest trinkets don’t fit (so one year I did chocolate-covered almonds, which is not exciting at all).

Last year my husband and I began the tradition of writing short notes to the girls, one girl/one note per day. Little compliments or notes of encouragement. The girls love them and it’s a good practice for us, too.

4)  I read two books this month. One was our book group pick, “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn. I wasn’t in the mood for a historical fiction, nor was I thrilled about wanting to read another WWII book (although this one weaves back and forth between WWI and WWII), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was well written, interesting and intriguing. Some of the characters were loosely based on historical figures, and I didn’t know anything about the network of female spies (I do love espionage) and am curious to know more.

5)  Before I get to the other book, let’s talk about book group and the yummy new drink I learned about, the Hugo. One of our members had just gotten back from a trip to Germany and said it was served everywhere there and made it for us. It involves prosecco, sparkling water, elderflower syrup and mint. And possibly lime. It was crisp and refreshing and I like pretty much anything with prosecco in it.

Writing about prosecco made me want prosecco, so now I am sipping on champagne. Kind of puts a damper on my plans to ride the exercise bike and lift weights after the girls go to bed (which is soon).

6)  The other book I read is “Do Not Become Alarmed” by Maile Melody. It’s a suspense novel with the focus on novel. The characters are believable and her prose is simple but great – not super literary or intellectual, but it is good, thoughtful writing. I’m definitely going to borrow another one of her books really soon. Also do not read this book after watching back-to-back episodes of The Innocent Man on Netflix.

7)  I went to my first cookie exchange party. Guess which ones are mine? Hint: Not being a true Grosse Pointer, I was not aware you had to make the cookies presentable, only that you had to bring them. WAH-wah. But mine were delicious, I have to say and I ended up taking two of them back home with me because I loved them so much.

There was a killer fudge and peanut-butter cookie concoction (the ones that look like brownies) which I put in a separate container with a sticky note saying “Mom only.” I rationed it over a few days. Another bar had coconut and lots of butter and I’m sure condensed milk, and that also went into the “Mom only” container.

8)  I gifted myself two plants this month. I’d read about the online shop Bloomscape. I liked the fact that they grew their plants to maturity, have great reviews, are a small company and they fully explain how to care for your plans and encourage you to contact them with any questions (which I have, twice). I got a dracaena and a fern. Yes, you can get ferns at Home Depot, but I wanted to get one from them!

My dracaena arrived tipped and with soil everywhere (inside the crevices of the leaves), huge clues that the shippers paid little to no attention to the “this side up” sign on the box. I was worried about it and called Bloomscape and they were super apologetic and promptly offered to replace my plant if needed. So far so good, although the outer leaves are getting brown. I have such a hard time with houseplants for some reason!

9)  My friend Julia also gave me two of the sweetest plants. One is a pilea peperromiodes (at least that’s what my new plant book says, I don’t remember the name Julia said), otherwise known as the pass-it-on plant, which seems fitting.

The other is a stone succulent, again don’t know official name. It is the strangest thing. It really does look and feel like a stone. I can’t wait for it to start sprouting or blooming or whatever it is that it does.

However. My 9-year-old “accidentally” knocked it off the plant table the other day. I say accidentally because that’s what she said, although at the time she was in the middle of practicing piano and something about a shadow in the window she had to investigate and by doing so knocked over the plant, which was nowhere near the edge of the table. It looks okay. Ish. Hoping it didn’t get damaged, which I won’t know for weeks and weeks, because I’m guessing the stone plant will look like a stone even when not alive!?

10)  My sweet grandma (mom’s mom) passed at the beginning of this month. I had been going through photos of our last Hawaii trip (March) and was organizing the ones I took of her with her four great-grandkids (my kids and my sister’s kids) when I got the call.

At 95, she had lived a long, full life and was probably ready to go, and she left the world surrounded by people who loved her, so really it’s the best possible scenario, but of course any passing is a very sad occasion, and it’s difficult being away from family during this time. I am going back in mid-January for services and am looking forward to reminiscing and celebrating her life.

11)  Even though I’ve had my photography/creative website up and running for almost a year, I’ve only just officially announced it, which is scary because doing so makes it real. You can now find me at www.lanimartincreative.com and follow me on www.facebook.com/lanimartincreative (please and thank you!).

I’ve gotten a lot of bookings for family photos, so that’s the direction I’m going in terms of professional photography, but I also want to hone in on the creative side of it. Making art for art’s sake, doing what I want to do vs. what the client wants. I don’t want to lose sight of the projects that fulfill me and why I bought a fancy camera in the first place.

It’s quite exciting, though, to be getting paid for something you create. Which I have been doing already with writing, but photography is more fun and I feel like I have more of a creative license with photography.

12)  I’ve tried and tried, copied magazine cut-outs, watched YouTube videos and almost sort of got it at times, but on the last day of the month/year, I nailed the smokey eye. I’m so proud, I don’t even care that I’m posting bathroom hair turban selfie pics. I may have taken the look from glam to tranny real fast when I added false eyelashes, but hey, New Year’s Eve begs for a little over-the-top-ness, does it not?

That’s a wrap on 2018. I haven’t made any resolutions yet, but I’m going to. They are going to have to include some self care, or this mom is not going to make it through 2019. Always a balance. Between kids, family, self, work, the world. When to say yes, when to say no, when to give in, when to push back. I plan to figure some of it out!

Wishing everyone a Very Happy New Year!

The November List – 2018

I was sitting here feeling pretty good, drinking my espresso, ready to stay up late and knock out my Christmas letter. And then I remembered. THE LIST. Or in this case, THE @#*& LIST. It’s not like I have an actual deadline. And nothing bad will happen if I don’t finish on time or even finish at all, except high anxiety, which hey, whats another notch of anxiety at this point. But I made a commitment to myself and to my dedicated followers (all five of you! I love you!), so here we go.

1) The beginning of November was just as stunning as October in terms of Fall colors (I am well aware that seasons are not capitalized, but I like them that way). I am so glad I went for a neighborhood walk when I did to snap some pics because the very next day the weather turned and that was that.

Here’s one of the maples in our backyard. Glorious!!

Here’s another maple that I now call Old Man Maple ever since I snapped this photo. He’s ancient with a huge trunk and oh soooo tall. He will do some serious damage if he ever falls. He’s sitting somewhat in the middle of our yard and I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but my husband is in favor of cutting him down. Now what kind of juju do you think will befall us if we cut this thing down!? I’m not going to find out.

2)  The night of our first frost, my dahlias turned black, a sign that it was ready to pull them up out of the ground. Of course this happened on a day it was in the 20s and snowing, but last year I waited too late and some of my tubers had rotted by the time I dug them up.

It is such a slow process digging them up (if you want to keep them). You have to be so careful not to hit one of the tubers with your shovel. Obviously I got a little impatient. The above pic is my prized Cafe au Lait (I’ve had the exact same plant two years in a row now). I chopped off the mother. OOPSIES. Nancy says it should probably still be okay, we’ll have to wait and see.

3)  I mean, look at this beauty! It grew from the tubers above. This was the very last bloom of the season and it lasted through November 8, which is pretty good! Just a few miles down the road at Detroit Abloom, the dahlias had turned black weeks before. Something to do with the fact that our house is so close to the lake (a half block), blah, blah, science, blah.

4)  I went to Detroit Abloom for a couple hours to help sort tubers (I purposely waited until luckily the digging part was over!). You have to dig them, dry them, number them (numbers correspond to the variety, which they have on a chart because it’s easier to write a number on a tuber than a whole name), sort them, cover them with peat moss, label them, then store them.

5)  I also spent an afternoon at my friend Julia’s new flower farm. We planted tulips, narcissus, fritillaria and carmassia (and yes, I did just text her to ask what we planted. All I could remember was tulips). And walked through her new house, which is under construction. I am so excited to see all of these flowers in the spring and can’t wait to see how she uses them. Check out her beautiful work at @willarosefloral

6)  Possibly more exciting than planting flowers was the bagel she brought me from Detroit Institute of Bagels. I didn’t know a bagel could taste so good. I got jalapeno cheddar, I think? And the most delicious fresh herb cream cheese you will ever have. If you love me and live in the Detroit area, you will bring me one the next time you see me.

7)  We had a small family Thanksgiving celebration at my mother-in-law’s house. I made two desserts, an apple pie and a cheesecake with gingersnap cookie crust. I’m not sure what made our seven-year-old think of this, but she is thankful for our soldiers this year, which I thought was touching and very sweet.

I myself (I know this is bad grammar. I am in a mood.) am thankful for so many things, but I’m also feeling very snarky, so I won’t name any of those things or they will come out wrong. Okay, maybe one. I’m thankful that even though I can barely stay awake past 3:00pm because apparently I have a vitamin B12 deficiency (my doctor tells me so) and haven’t taken the supplements long enough for them to kick in and my hormones are all out of whack (see last month’s post on Tamoxifen), that I can at least drink enough coffee to keep me functioning until the kids go to bed at 8:00pm. See?

8)  My college roommate Lisa gave me her family’s secret recipe for pie cookies. Don’t they look amazing!?! Buttery, sugary rolls of cookie goodness. This is the photo she messaged me that went along with her recipe.

I followed the recipe exactly. Nailed it!

(Also, knowing Facebook, when I post this blog entry it’s going to choose this pic as the cover pic.)

9)  Remember that one dahlia that never bloomed?! Seven months in the ground, never bloomed. Teasing me every day with the promise of a bloom. It was the tallest plant in my garden, over 6 feet tall. I was so sure it was finally going to open, and then, the frost came. This photo was taken about two days before the frost.

On the day the dahlias blackened, I plucked the bud. Here’s what it looked like. It would have been so beautiful! Also why did I focus on my glove and not the flower!? Probably because it was so stinking cold my hands were shaking.

10)  The mister turned 50 this month! GAH! We celebrated with a night at the Detroit Foundation Hotel, a trendy new (although now not so new) spot in downtown Detroit that used to be a fire station. The rooms are very hip, but also quite bare, which we liked, but it’s definitely not the place to send visiting grandparents. We ate brunch there the next day, which was really good. I had a French-style omelette with wild mushrooms that was cooked to perfection and skinny fries just the way I like them – hot, and crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.

Photo from Crains Detroit

11)  After check-in, we walked to Campus Martius, as it was the first weekend of the Detroit winter markets, little pop-up shops with locally-made goods and a big enclosed lounge at the end of the block that is decorated so cozy and Christmasy.

12)  For dinner we met up friends, had a drink at the hotel bar and then went to Prime and Proper, a new-ish steakhouse. I got the same drink I’d had the first time I went there (although we didn’t eat that time, only had drinks). Pretty certain the rim is coated with li-hing-mui powder. Ancient Chinese secret that everyone in Hawaii has known about since I was in high school. #soyesterday

They store their steaks in the basement and we went down to take a look. I wasn’t super hungry, so I opted for a burger instead of a steak because who doesn’t love a perfectly cooked high-quality burger? But that was a mistake. It was great, just not the amazing taste I had expected. Everyone else got some cut of steak and those were delicious.

I can’t end the blog with a picture of raw meat, so here is another Fall pic from my neighborhood walk. Those candy colors are just beyond.

And that, my five friends, is the end of the November List! Here’s to a warm and fuzzy December, filled with all the holiday feels.

The October List – 2018

1) Fall colors are KILLING it this year. I haven’t had the chance to capture the colors on camera (and would pictures really do the colors justice?), but the ombres are beyond and the spectrum of bolds and brights this year are fantastic. I’m sure the weather patterns have something to do with it and if I weren’t so lazy I would Google it, which I will at some point.

2) Halloween night weather was the best it’s been since we moved. No rain, snow or sleet! Temperatures were in the low 50s, high 40s.

A friend of ours puts up elaborate Halloween decorations every year and kids from the neighborhood and beyond come to check them out. A lot of the creatures have movable parts – a spider that jumps and a giant pumpkin monster that lunges towards you as you pass by. He makes all these creatures himself, which is very impressive!

3) It was our first time invited to an annual Grosse Pointe Halloween party (woo-hoo, thank you PC!) hosted by two couples who live across the street from each other. I am terrible at estimating numbers, but have been told it is attended by 100-200 people.

This year’s theme was Studio 54 and at first I was not keen at dressing up at all (Keen? I don’t even like that word. It just came out), but after looking up some 70s inspiration outfits, I realized I had some good options already in my closet.

My husband looked Ah-MAZE-ing in his sparkly silver shirt and matching platform shoes. I’m surprised he didn’t completely fall on his face, which he almost did about five times, once in the porta-potty (no, I wasn’t there!). The party was so much fun, loved seeing all the costumes and hanging out with friends and dancing.

(On a side note, you know you are at a great party when the 20-year-olds start throwing rib bones back on the buffet table? WTF)

4)  I turned 46 this month. Which was actually easier than turning 45. I could write ten pages as to why, but I’ll spare you. The mister and I celebrated with dinner downtown at the Caucus Club. Atmosphere was okay, but food was really, really good!

5)  I stopped taking Tamoxifen on my birthday. The drug that supposedly has been keeping cancer at bay for the last five years. It is both a relief and terrifying. I definitely was feeling the effects of the drug in terms of body aches and dry skin and other random things.

Ever since I’ve been off of it, though, I have been extremely tired, like second trimester slap-in-the-face tired, which I am hoping has something to do with the fact that I’ve had a cold for the last three weeks vs. a drug withdrawal syndrome because it really sucks.

6)  Went to my first Michigan football game! Thanks to an invite from my husband’s Uncle, who has great season tickets. All morning there were thunderstorms and even when we got to the parking lot it was raining and the game got delayed a bit because of lightning, but the clouds parted just in time for us to some tailgating and the game weather was absolutely beautiful. It was a homecoming game, so fans were extra festive and thus the atmosphere was too.

7)  We went to a friends’ house for dinner. She is Lebanese (or part Lebanese? Sorry, I don’t remember!) and made a bunch of ethnic dishes like dolmas, lamb and kibbeh, which OMG if you don’t know (which I did not), is Raw. Lamb. Insert bulging eye emoji.

I’ve had beef carpaccio many times and have watched my Filipino relatives eat chunks of marinated raw beef (I mean), but did not realize people ate raw lamb (although what’s the difference, I don’t know).

Anyhoo…..in the spirit of Julia Child, who taught me a bit about what it means to be a good host and a good guest…I tried it. The ground lamb is mixed with a bunch of spices, and you eat it with raw white onion, olive oil and pita bread. When I went to my happy place in my head and blocked out that it was raw lamb, it was REALLY DANG GOOD. It still kind of grosses me out to think about, but I would eat it again. But only if she makes it.

8)  I had another meal cooked for me by the dad (who was visiting from China) of one of the exchange students at our school. He made two of my favorites – ma po tofu and sautéed shrimp that you shell and dip in super spicy sauce.

He also boiled a WHOLE CHICKEN (which somehow was so much gaggier than the raw lamb), which was then shredded to be eaten with super spicy sauce. And a version of kung pao chicken. And baked chicken wings with MSG. Dipped in (surprise) super spicy sauce. It was such a treat for me, as we don’t have great Asian food around here!

9)  One of the super spicy sauces we dipped our food in was black bean chili sauce my mom sent me for my birthday from my favorite Chinese restaurant in Hawaii called Little Village Noodle House. I’d gifted one of my precious jars (she sent several because she loves me) to said exchange student because I’d heard he couldn’t find a suitable spicy sauce. Mission accomplished.

10) Oh, I forgot to tell you about our Dahlia Festival that took place at the end of September. I say “our” but I have been so far removed from The Garden this year, but I still think of it as possessive, because I do hope and plan to be more involved as soon as I am able (which means actively carving out time and committing to it).

Tom made this very cool contraption called a….flower loom? I have no idea, but you take flowers and weave them in and out of the loom as you feel so moved. It felt very poetic. I’m going to ask Tom to make one for me (I will pay you, obvs!), I think the kids would enjoy working on it next season.

11) Speaking of dahlias, my plants are still hanging on in spite of the near frost we had last week! It’s a miracle! Dahlias die after the first hard frost, but I guess that didn’t happen (one night it was supposed to get down to 32) because my plants show no signs of turning black yet, while just a few miles away at Detroit Abloom, the leaves are blackened and tubers are ready to be dug up for storage.

This particular flower wasn’t from my garden, but gifted to me by Nancy in my birthday bouquet. The petals are insane, SO beautiful in person, as you can imagine. Julia thinks it is a Peaches N Cream, which was a new variety for them this year.

12)  We weren’t the only ones to lose a tree in the neighborhood in the last few weeks (i.e. our lilac tree as referenced in last month’s list). As we were driving to school one morning, my daughter spotted this downed tree. I had to get out a snap a pic. Whoa. Luckily, the pictured house didn’t get hit by it.

That’s October! We are zooming on in to the holidays, I can’t even think about it or I will pass out. Wishes for a happy November!

The September List – 2018

I was not ready to let summer go, so although September is a lovely enough month, I did not welcome it with arms wide open. Yes, it WAS nice in some ways to get back into a routine and to be making a bit more money (back to school means back to work for me), but I’d rather be poolside in the sun.

1)  Our littlest turned seven this month (insert a million sobbing emojis). She wanted a few friends and their families to come over for a barbecue, so we borrowed a cornhole game and I bought a ladderball game and we grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and ate so much artichoke dip and chatted and the weather was perfect and it was just such a great day.

2)  She asked for a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. It came out….okay…somewhat dry (this did not stop me from eating cake for the next four days, however). I have to say that when it comes to yellow cake (which I know is not vanilla cake but it’s the same in that it’s basic), I do love a good boxed Betty Crocker cake! But I haven’t made one in years and couldn’t bring myself to make one this time.

3)  I finally made it to the Asian market (although after the fact, realized it was not THEE Asian market, but I’ll get there) after four years of living here and saying I need to get to the Asian market. I bought every brand of pot sticker, a handful of random spicy sauces (black bean, garlic, etc.) and several frozen shredded coconut packages, but was somewhat frightened by the tightly-wrapped plastic vegetables, so I didn’t get any of those.

I also got a stack of pot sticker wrappers, but I haven’t used them yet, because they intimidate me, even though all I need to do is throw some pork and onions in there and fry them up. Now I fear they’ve expired, but I can’t bring myself to check.

4)  This gorgeous thing bloomed in my front yard. It was the one and only dahlia bloom so far on that particular plant, and I’m not sure I’ll get another. I texted Nancy and Julia for the name and Nancy said it’s called “Punkin Spice,” but our seven-year-old calls it Dragon’s Fire. Either way, it’s a perfect Fall flower, yes?

5)  I read two books this month. I can’t remember the first one and I’m too lazy to walk up one flight of stairs to my bedroom to look in my book journal (You don’t have a book journal!?).

The other was our October book group book, “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones. It was refreshing in that it’s not something I would have picked up on my own – the journey of a black couple in Georgia after a turn of events in the justice system forces their separation. Yet it was surprisingly up my alley – a little dark, good character development, really great writing and not predictable. Highly recommend.

6)  My office is in this massive historic building along the lake. The third and forth floors are in a bit of disrepair, but we do store things up there and every once in a while I stop and peek around corners. You never know what you’ll find, like this gem. Wow.

7)  My mom texted me this picture of her night-blooming Cereus, a plant that blossoms only at night and lasts only one day. I remember a movie (back in the 80s?) about such a plant, where this man invited everyone to a garden party at night to see such a bloom (wait, was it Dennis the Menace? That would be 90s?).

Anyway, there was a commotion and everyone turned toward it and missed the bloom. It was supposed to be a funny scene, but I was horrified (hahahaha, I’m such a loser, I never think anything like that is funny because I always feel bad for the person).

8)  My girlfriend Renee couldn’t be in two places at once so she entrusted me with taking photos of her son at the country club for his first homecoming. Watching all those kids filing into the club….they were so sweet and awkward and raw. Our oldest daughter isn’t that far off from that stage, I teared up thinking about it.

She ordered the boutonniere and wrist corsage at Detroit Abloom and they were soooo pretty.

9) Speaking of Detroit Abloom, I was invited to a pop-up dinner in the hoop house. One of the organizers found the flower farm through my Instagram account, thus I was invited to attend and did so happily. It was their first one – a first for the hoop house and also for Commonflower Gatherings, the pop-up organization, and it turned out beautifully.

The gals who came were mostly bloggers and entrepreneurs and also a bit younger than I, so I felt slightly out of place (yes I blog, but I wouldn’t say I’m a bloggER), but I loved their energy and positivity. If you live in the area, they are planning many more pop-ups, look them up and go to one!

10)  Let me just take a moment here to say I’ve been missing San Francisco a lot lately. I miss my runs in the Presidio, I miss perfectly spiced Asian noodles, I miss the band, I miss my book group (no offense to my current book group, which I LOVE), I miss people who know the very core of me. Also, I miss composting!

I’m not sure what is bringing about all this nostalgia. Maybe the change of weather. Maybe it’s this rare double rainbow over Lake St. Clair that showed up at the beginning of the month (okay, no. But it felt like a good spot for it). I could go on and on and wax poetic about the meaning of the word home until your eyes hurt from rolling them, but I’ll just say I’ve been missing my San Francisco.

11)  OR. Maybe it’s because our lilac tree died last week in a storm and I am beyond! Insert another million sobbing emojis (also, do your kids eliminate the E on emoji and just say moji? Mine do).

Not the best pic of it, but here she is last Spring.

I knew that tree was not long for this world, but I assumed another two years at least. I keep an eye on it when it snows to make sure it doesn’t get too weighted down, but never did I think a heavy rainstorm would knock it down. Its old trunk was twisty and interesting and in the Spring, it was one of the first things to bloom. So sad.

12) I saw a falcon or a hawk in my neighbor’s yard the other day eating a squirrel. So that. I was in my car and stopped to take a photo and scared it (I’m sorry!). I want to say it was a falcon because it was speckled (as you can clearly see in the photo I took of it – ha!) and looks more like a Googled falcon than a Googled hawk, but I know nothing. It flew a couple feet with the squirrel, then dropped it and perched on a tree and watched me with annoyance (I’m sorry! Go get another squirrel, there are plenty!).

Also. I cut enough apples for two pies yesterday, so it’s definitely Fall and no, you’re not invited over when they’re done because I’m eating them both myself because OUCH, my wrist still hurts so much. Okay, maybe one slice.

Happy October!