The June List – 2016

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So wow. June is over. How in the world.

1)  Summer is upon us. The photo above says it all. Lord have mercy.

2)  Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE summer and in Michigan we actually HAVE a summer which is so awesome because, as I remind people often, San Francisco summers are fuh-reez-ing. I can do hot all day long.

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3)  Here’s a little corner in Grosse Pointe over the course of two months. In June, everything is in full bloom. Not as exciting as the first signs of spring, but in summer, you can sit back and settle in for a bit.

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4)  To celebrate summer’s arrival, I made strawberry shortcakes for dinner. This was something Grandma Lucy in upstate New York used to do once in a while on hot summer days (except with a side of corn on the cob, not green beans).  I only had wheat flour, which isn’t nearly as good (and even with white flour, never as good as Grandma’s), but it was still yummy. Will do it again soon.

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5)  I’ve been spending a lot of my free time (HA-ha, what even is that!?) at the Garden Detroit urban farm (which I started writing about and mean to post before this one, but alas) that my own yard/garden has been somewhat neglected. I did get around to taking care of some of our pest issues with this nifty chemical alternative – live nematodes.

Except that I made my husband spray them all over the yard because of the creepy factor. Seven million invisible alive organisms that bury into the soil and hunt down bad bugs? Yes but no.

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6)  Speaking of the urban farm, our CSA share/weekly box of produce started this month. We got the strawberries from another farm, but the rest came from our harvest. Lettuce and kale for days.

I hadn’t ever used garlic scapes before (the curly things). They are the flower bud of the garlic plant and taste just like garlic and slightly more mild, but only just. I found a fantastic pesto recipe online that pairs scapes and pistachios with the other usual ingredients – so good!

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7)  I’m still taking photos for the farm’s Instagram account, and if you haven’t followed me there already, you can find me at screen name @thegardendetroit or click here for the link.

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8)  The yearly influx of fish flies came upon us starting a couple weeks ago. I think they are nearly gone, but ick. Super nasty and stinky. The girls love playing with them, though, which includes putting them on different parts of their bodies. And mine. Sigh.

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9)  For Father’s Day we decided on a picnic at the park. A friend of mine told me you can “reserve” a spot early in the morning (and no one will take or move your stuff!) so I decided to try it. At 7:15 am, there were already several tables set up, but I was still able to grab a nice spot. Small town win.

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10)  Summer nights are the best and my husband and I were able to escape one evening (thank you, Leslie!) for a date at the Yacht Club. After dinner we sat outside at the gazebo, had drinks and watched the sky change as the sun went down. A perfect night.

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11)  I’ve totally slacked off in the exercise department. Yoga classes have stopped for the summer and it’s been too hot to run (unless I want to get up at 5 in the morning, which I do not). As of a week ago, I am back at it, riding the exercise bike and doing minimal stretching. I don’t want to let all my hard work over the last few months go to waste (or to my waist, hehe). Up and at ’em.

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12)  There’s a health food shop in Grosse Pointe called the Sprout House. It’s been over a year since I got food from there, so when Tom (Garden owner) offered to buy lunch from there one day if I picked it up on my way to the Garden, I obliged. Their avocado sandwich is packed with avocados and there are also sundried tomatoes, cilantro and vegan chili mayonnaise. I’d forgotten how good they are.

I love Michigan summers so much. It almost (almost) keeps my San Francisco longings at bay. I hope you are able to take full advantage of your summer days and nights. Happy July, everyone!

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The April List – 2016

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Ah, April. It’s such an exciting month here in the Midwest because it means winter is officially over. We didn’t get any snow in April that I can remember? Although the temps did drop down to the 30s many nights. Still, the days are sunnier and warmer, which means it’s time for gardening again, which I couldn’t be more happy about.

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1) Before the fun part of gardening can start, spring clean-up has to happen. Which is raking up all the dead leaves, sticks and other plant debris that remained on the ground after our fall clean up. Since our lawn guys made me cry last year with their disregard for our plants, we opted out of a professional clean up this year. Twenty yard waste bags later, I am nearly done.

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Last week, I worked in the front, where the beds are covered with pachysandra. Trying to get debris out from under those cluster-y little plants is nuts. I tried using a blower and that didn’t work, and you can’t rake through them so it’s all by hand. I think next year I will have the guys do the front only, but…I don’t know….maybe as long as I’m able, I will continue to do it all.

2) Prince. I mean, I have to give a shoutout. “Delirious” is the first song I remember having a strong reaction to (I was 10. It came on the radio and I was blown away by it’s craziness as I danced around the room). Aside from his amazing music and talent, he made it okay to be different. To be yourself. And during my junior high and high school years, it was such an important message to receive. Peace and love.

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3)  This is what happens when you take a break from playing Jr. Monopoly to have snack. I know he couldn’t have been comfortable with all the pieces poking on his belly, but he played it cool. Okay, buddy, it’s your spot. Got it.

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4)  So this tree came down. As in we had it cut down. Will tell you all about it in the next post.

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5)  I tackled the take-down of the ferns on my own and it was quite the struggle. I went to pull up ONE fern that was bugging me and this happens. A full bucket of the subway system of roots that this one fern was connected to. Egads.

I love ferns probably more than most people, but now that I have a bunch of other lovely plants sharing the same space, some of the ferns needed to go. And they keep popping up. It’s an ongoing battle.

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6)  We bought a raised cedar bed, which my husband put together for me. My youngest and I planted lettuce, green onions, and peas from seed, and starter plants of kale. Our dog Sam apparently loves the soil I used because he has been jamming his huge nose into the bed, sometimes coming up with a small mouthful of dirt. And probably our seeds. Waaaah.

I thought all hope was lost, but about three days ago, two tiny lettuce plants showed their faces. I will probably buy more starter plants for the other veggies, but I really hope one of the lettuces makes it. The girls have fun checking on it, as do I.

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7)  Even though he’s eaten most of our seeds, Sam is the BEST gardening companion. Whenever he hears the sliding door open or sees me put on my gardening gloves, he is ready to follow me. Mostly he sniffs around and then plops down exactly where I was going to weed or rake or plant, but I love his quiet company.

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8) I finally found a home for this Moroccan lantern that has been in our basement since we moved. I tried to find a spot for it in the house, but nothing really worked. In SF it lived on top of our bookshelf in the living room, but the ceilings are lower here and it doesn’t look right. Clearly it belongs in the garden (you can also see it in the veggie garden pic).

9) My book club’s April book was Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, same author as “Room” (which I didn’t read. wasn’t sure I could handle it). The story is loosely based on newspaper articles surrounding an unsolved murder in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Her realistic portrayal of what life was like during that time (the small pox epidemic, the influx of Chinese immigrants, treatment of women, squalor, etc) was eye-opening and on occasion, riveting.

We meet tomorrow and I’m wondering if the non-San Francisco gals enjoyed it as much as I did.

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10) I love that this is one of the classes offered at our community center. I’m not making fun of it – I think it’s awesome! I hope a lot of kids take it. And I will totally send my girls in a couple years if it’s still being offered.

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11) My husband and I finally made it back to Chartreuse, our hands down favorite restaurant in the area (the ambiance is fine, but I’m talking food). I say “the area,” but it could rival any spot in San Francisco. The pork belly with saffron polenta was just wow, and the vanilla pudding dessert thing we got (again) was divine. You can taste the freshness in every bite.

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12)  After dinner we went to see the art installation by Daily tous les jour in Cadillac Square. It’s an interactive piece, where each swing dings a musical note, which changes depending on whether people are in sync or not.

Bonus: The Hawaii List
Because I still have Hawaii on the brain, here’s a short bonus Hawaii list:

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1)  You’re probably aware that Hawaii has some of the best sushi on the planet. I’m not a big raw fish eater, but when I do have raw sushi, it needs to be the very best. Also, the shrimp tempura. Light, fluffy and crunchy. Why do so many places have to batter it like it is a corn dog?

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2) Growing up, we never had a dryer. My grandpa refused to buy one because the sun can dry your clothes for free. Plus, environmental reasons – wasting electricity, appliances, etc. Even after he died, my family won’t get one. I respect that, but I do not miss wringing out my clothes (especially jeans, those were the worst) and hanging them on the line.

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3) We saw a couple of these little birds poking around the beach on the North side of the island. I pointed them out to my sister and she told me they are golden-plovers. These crazy birds nest in Alaska, but spend most of their time in Hawaii (three months vs. nine months). They can make the trip in about two days, without resting on the water. Impressive.

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4) Something that grabbed me this trip was the mid-century architecture. I knew it was there, I knew it was 50s, but I really noticed it this time. I only thought to snap photos the day before we left, so I didn’t get great ones. The next time we visit, I’m going to spend a lot more time exploring the architecture.

That is IT, guys! I’m so looking forward to a wonderful May. Enjoy yours!

The March List

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March, at least the end of it, was a whirlwind of Spring Break fun. In fact, I’m still living vicariously through myself on vacation. The Grosse Pointe weather report on my phone is showing three snowflake symbols this week.

1)  Dear Michigan: So you probably heard me telling all my friends in California and Hawaii that Michigan winters “really aren’t that bad.” You’ve made your point. Please, please, please move along so Spring can arrive.

2) Our neighborhood pheasant has been very noisy lately. I think he is also annoyed that Old Man Winter has been lingering. We hear him (and sometimes see him) every day now. Mostly I see him in Shirley’s yard (they haven’t come back from Florida yet. Can’t blame them). In fact, I can see him there now, pecking at the ground.

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3) Our living room curtains finally arrived. For the second time. Oh my word. The whole curtain thing has been such a ridiculous fiasco from the beginning. I won’t tell you how much we spent on them because I’ll start feeling nauseous and I just ate. I’ll detail the whole story in another post.

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4)  My four-year-old’s drawing of an elephant. Hearts.

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5)  One day in early March we got some unusual morning fog. After dropping the kids off at school, I headed to the Pier Park to pick up my park passes (city parks here are private and open only to residents). I walked around the docks for a bit because it was so beautiful and made me think of home, I was the only one there. Serene and magical.

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6)  There’s a strip of silver maples down Kenwood Road that were planted when the Convent of the Sacred Heart on Lake Shore was still in operation. It’s called the nun’s walk, as they are said to have been planted as a pathway for the nuns who lived there. Many of the trees have fallen, but this section of Kenwood is still intact.

I snapped this photo on one of my walks with Sam. It is lovely, but not nearly as lovely as it is in the spring and summer, so I will have to remember to take another shot in a couple months to show you.

7)  Our book this month was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. It was a perfect beach read (and although I did finish it on vacation, I never actually read it at the beach. We have two non-swimmers). Not deep, but the plot held enough interest and the characters were fun and the mystery aspect was mostly exciting.

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8)  We stopped in San Francisco for two days on our way to Hawaii. It was nice to take the girls to some of our old spots – Golden Gate Park, Baker Beach, Ocean Beach (although the trash. nasty), eateries on Fillmore Street, the playground at Alta Plaza.

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9)  I got to see a handful of girlfriends, which always lifts my spirit and fills my heart. There’s nothing like spending time with old friends.

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10) A new Fillmore spot (although I’d been to their Hayes Valley location before) was Smitten ice cream. I initially resisted having some since we’d just got done eating next door at Pizzeria Delfina, but after ordering for the girls, I got back in line to order some for myself. They had sea salt caramel. Ice cream always wins.

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11)  I’m already on number ten and I haven’t even touched on Hawaii ! Let me just say it was just what the doctor ordered – a fantastic trip! So wonderful to see family (and the sun!) and have the girls bond with their Hawaii family.

Aside from the two flying cockroaches (pronounced cock-a-roach by the locals) that got into our bedroom two days before we left. One on the wall above our bed, so I slept the rest of the night with the covers over my head, which was very stifling because no air conditioning (this was after my husband smashed it and pronounced it dead).  The other was in the bathtub – GAH! So I of course showered in the other bathroom, even after my husband killed it. I mean, you guys. Deathly afraid. Obviously.

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12) Easter in Hawaii was really fun. The girls colored eggs and went on an Easter egg hunt in my mom’s front garden.  On Easter morning, my littlest woke up at 4am, her usual wake-up time on our trip (I know!) and I was able to spend the morning at the beach, reflecting on the day. Later we all went to my former church (still my mom’s) and it was great to worship with some of my old church family.

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter. I know some of you are already enjoying Spring. I know it’s on its way to Grosse Pointe. It’s just so hard be patient, especially after a warm-weather trip. Wishing you a very happy April!

The February List – 2016

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Wow, clearly 2016 is kicking my booty. I feel like I just finished the January List. Which I guess is sort of true as that post was written in mid-February.

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1) We got more snow this month – yay! – but it’s still been a mild winter which means we can actually get out for a walk once in a while. We sometimes pass a tree on the Boulevard that has a container nailed to it. I wasn’t sure what it was until I saw someone pull a dog treat out of it. Now whenever we pass the tree, Sam looks forward to his treat.

2) Another way to score dog treats on walks is via the city garbage collector guys. The garbage is picked up by guys in golf cart-type vehicles, who zip up your driveway, empty garbage into the back of their bins and then drive to a larger truck posted up close by.

On more than one occasion, when I’ve been out with the dog, one of the guys will pull over, get out and give Sam a doggie bone and a pat.

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3) On our walks, I sometimes see lost items displayed on fire hydrants or lamp posts. The fact that people are taking the time to pick up these objects and place them in spots where owners are likely to find them is really touching to me somehow.

4)  The next time your doctor says, “it will only take a second,” beware. During a recent check-up, I asked my doctor about a mark on my shoulder that I thought might be a mole. She said it was a blackhead (eek) and that she would remove it for me. It will only take a second. Which it did. And then I got the $250 bill for “acne surgery.” Not cool.

5)  Farms Market has started selling the only ice cream in the area made with 100% organic, locally-sourced ingredients. Each flavor has about six to seven ingredients and it is to die for.

At $8.99 a pint, it also makes it one of the most expensive ice creams in town. There’s no nutritional information on the label, because why bother? We all know how many calories a scoop of ice cream has. A lot. There’s a sea salt caramel pint in our freezer right now and I cannot stop thinking about it.

6) Speaking of Farms Market, I keep meaning to tell you that I learned my lesson the hard way (like over a year ago) regarding not shopping at the very small and cramped store (they are remodeling, thank goodness) during the high-school lunch hour. Just don’t.

The other day I was driving by the store and was excited that I had escaped the frantic craze of the lunch crowd. No backpacks outside, no kids. All clear. I parked, went inside and one minute later, one of the staff yells, “Second LUUUUNCH!” And they all come rushing in as I try to flatten myself against the condiments.

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7)  Our oldest turned seven this month. I was too lazy to bake a cake this year, so we ordered one from Josefs. She requested a unicorn on her cake and we gave them free reign. So we got this unicorn, circa 1985. She insisted that she get the piece with the horn, since it has magical powers, as we all know. The chocolate frosting tasted somewhat chemically, note to self.

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SKATE (768x1024)8)  One of our friends who has a homemade ice rink in their backyard, invited us over one day to skate. The girls have never skated, nor do they have skates, but serendipity took over and someone happened to have two pairs of skates in exactly the right size.

My husband was out of town and part of me (most of me) didn’t want to go because I was afraid there would be crying and whining and general mayhem. But none of that happened. They were timid, but they both got out there and the older one started getting the hang of it without the net. Such a great first experience!

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8)  I chopped of the leaves of some bok choy and this was what was left of the stalk.

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9)  We finally had dinner in our dining room. I love baby’s breath when it’s solo. It’s so delicate and pretty. I made chicken mirabella and rigatoni with pork/beef ragu.

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10)  Remember the time I asked my dry cleaning lady where I could get good Korean food and she said, “my house”? The cooking classes finally happened! Details in a separate post.

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11)  I have been so bored with my hair lately, so I made an appointment with my stylist, who really is the best person I’ve ever had do my hair. Like ever and I’ve been to about ten fancy stylists in San Francisco.

To get ready for my appointment, I “pinned” all these awesome pictures of shorter hair and cuts with bangs and was almost ready to do the big chop, but when I told my husband my great idea, he said, “Please don’t do that. It’s going to make you be in a bad mood for two months.” Which I considered and realized was true. Soooo…I just had her add some new highlights. Problem averted.

IMG_4507 (809x1024)12)  I’m still on the health train, and with that comes riding the stationary bike in the basement and doing my floor work afterwards like a good girl. This is usually where the dog posts up as he watches me with non-amusement. He’s over it.

We are going to Hawaii for Spring Break this month and I cannot wait. I will take a million photos and post the best ones on the blog. Enjoy the rest of March, everyone!

The January List – 2016

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Oh my gosh. It’s mid-February and I am just starting the January list. Here it is…

1) Snow. Eh. It only snowed once, maybe twice last month. It was pretty, it was white, there were some cute bunny tracks and there was a little shoveling involved. Not much to report.

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2)  My Dad and his wife gave us a spiralizer for Christmas. I’m not very big on kitchen contraptions – I use a toaster, blender, mixer and rice cooker – so I wasn’t too sure about using it, but gave it a try with some zucchini, if only to say that I used it.

It was a lot more user-friendly than I expected and quite easy to clean (huge). The “noodles” were fun, but I was not fooled into thinking they were actual pasta noodles. It’s nice because the girls are able to use it and it’s always great when they can help in the kitchen. Although they will still not eat the finished product.

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3) This handsome guy turned 10. Whenever I try any to do any kind of floor workout, he gets all up in my business. Sometimes he brings me toys or licks my feet. Not super productive, but it does make me laugh and I usually do end up taking him for a walk afterwards.

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4) I went to Arizona! My girlfriend and former San Francisco book grouper Kimberly got married – hurray! I was so pleased that I managed to pack lightly and not check any luggage, so when I got to the gate and they told me I had to check my carry-on, I was bummed.

I begged and pleaded and said that I had to go to a wedding right when I landed (which was mostly true), but they stared at me with no pity whatsoever and handed me my luggage tag. Which ended up in my purse. Oopsie.

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5) The wedding was a beautiful traditional church wedding…

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…and the reception was held at the luxury Royal Palms hotel in Scottsdale. SO pretty. Wish I could have stayed there instead of the Marriott!

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It was fun to dress up and I bought a new Halston Heritage dress for the occasion. I’ve been all about 70s glam recently. Love it. Which is very strange because I’ve never cared for it before. Now I lose my mind over it.

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6) I love this rug that I wove on a loom in college (my favorite class!) and I keep trying to find a place for it in the house.

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I tried our entryway (we are still using the old owner’s maroon rug which I am so over), which didn’t look quite right, plus I don’t really want people wiping their shoes on it.

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I tried our downstairs powder room, where it looked pretty good, but it is too slippy for the girls (who use that bathroom a lot), even if we put a rug pad under it. It’s back in the closet for now. :(

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7)  I forgot to ever talk about our buffet we bought for the dining room. My husband and I have significantly different home decor tastes, so it took a while for us to settle on this piece of furniture. I found it online through Cottage Home Furniture in Maine.

They were great to work with. This particular sideboard did not come with glass door, but I special requested and they were happy to oblige. It arrived a couple weeks later than promised, but they were good about keeping me in the loop.

8)  Our book group book this month was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s an end-of-days (of sorts) type setting, but not as dire or creepy as The Road (if you haven’t read it, oh my. Excellent writing but so depressing) and most of the book focuses on the characters.  The writing was great and engaging. I really enjoyed it.

After I posted this, a friend told me that the author wrote the book while in Leelanau, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A big chunk of the book takes place in that area, so I see now where she got her inspiration for that setting.

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9)  I was at Barnes & Nobles looking for a birthday gift and decided to pick up an adult puzzle (vs a kid puzzle, which we have a ton of). I hadn’t done a puzzle in so long and it was fun. The girls tried to get into it, but of course it was hard for them, but they did manage to put some pieces in, which was exciting for them.

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10) Soooo…..I’ve been on a diet. Of sorts. Just trying to get healthy and strong. I am the laziest exerciser you could ever know, so I never have really pushed myself during workouts. But I’m trying now and it’s really hard, but satisfying. I also kind of hate salad, so when I tell you that I’m eating lots of salad, that is huge.

My big indulgence is balsamic reduction. So bad but so good. (In case you weren’t aware, most store-bought balsamic glazes have caramel coloring, which is a possible carcinogen. Normally, I would not allow myself to come close to the stuff, but it makes me eat salad, so I weighed my options. When I run out, I’ll attempt to make my own).

11)  The girls got a bunch of games for Christmas and one of them is Jr. Monopoly. It’s a great game because both the four-year-old and almost seven-year-old can play and I can actually tolerate it, unlike some of the other games they have. Even though I’m always stuck with the car.

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12) One (very, very, very cold!) Saturday, we drove into Detroit and walked along the Riverfront and Hart Plaza and peeked into the Renaissance Center. After our little adventure, we went to Mercury Bar in Corktown for an early dinner.

On our walk back to the car, we saw a huge flock of birds flying across the sky. Most of them landed on one large tree, so I made my husband drive near it so I could take a picture. From far away, the birds looked like leaves.

It was kind of a magical moment. Watching them swoop in front of us out of nowhere and then spotting them on the tree. I hope 2016 brings more bursts of zen like these for all of us (me, you, humanity), which are much needed in the midst or our crazy lives. Enjoy the rest of your February!

The December List – 2016

IMG_3666 (768x1024)Yikes! So late with the list. Here’s what happened in December…

1)  I’ve always been a stickler for waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to put Christmas decorations up. I stuck by the rule this year, but barely (I started pulling out boxes before Thanksgiving was over). I’m beginning to understand the strong desire to decorate early. It’s dreary. The flowers are gone, the sun is gone. Let’s get some holiday up in here.

2)  I did break my “no artificial greenery” rule this year and bought three faux garlands. Two for the stairs and one for the living room mantle. Just didn’t want to deal with all the needles and clean-up.

After lots of online research (reviews) and one bad purchase (Home Depot), I settled on garlands from Ballard Designs. magnolia for the stairs (top photo) and angel pine for the mantle (bottom pic). They were pricey, but worth it in the long run. I went back to their website after Christmas to buy another one because I was so impressed with how great they looked, but alas they are sold out of both.

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3)  This photo doesn’t do it justice, but the “crazy house” (girls’ term, not mine) on Lakeshore was ultra decked out for Christmas this year. Whoa.

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4)  I am single-handedly keeping Trader Joe’s pot sticker business alive. Here’s my stash. The TJ’s brand pork ones are the best, followed by the chicken soup dumplings in close second (the Filipino guy who works there – and the only other Filipino I’ve met here – told me to use them in their ginger-miso soup. SO good).

The butternut squash dumplings sound good in theory but they are a disaster. Skip them. You’re welcome.

5)  Speaking of Asian food, I asked my dry cleaning lady if there was anywhere I could get good Korean food. Turns out there is. Her house. Whaaaat? Yes, you guys. She offered to teach me how to cook all my favorite dishes. Date to be decided, and you know I’ll be posting about it.

6)  On the same day Japan’s supreme court ruled to uphold the law that married women must take their husband’s surname, our six-year-old asked me, “why are girls Miss if they aren’t married and Mrs. if they are and boys only have Mister.” Good. Question. And a reminder that we have a long way to go.

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7)  Have you seen Pantone’s color of the year!? My favorite shade of pink!!! (They actually chose two colors this year. The other one is Serenity, a soft blue.)

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8)  My husband and I attended a Krug champagne tasting dinner at the Yacht Club with two other couples. We found out at the last minute that it was a black tie affair, so I scrambled to buy a dress (and discovered Halston Heritage in the process. Oh my gosh).

The champagne was of course divine, but the food was….just okay. Well, the lobster was amazing, but I ate it in one bite. Same with the trout (although…three bites for that one). There  were healthy portions of duck and venison, but they were too gamey for some of us, and after dinner we drove to a local spot and shared a pizza.

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9)  Made blueberry scones (with the last of our summer blueberries from New York) for Christmas Day and two sweet potato pies for Christmas Eve. I had a mishap with the grater while making scones (P fetched a bandaid for me).

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10)  We only ate one of the pies on Christmas Eve, so I was able to take the other one to Shirley’s (our neighbor and my gardening friend) house the next day. When we got there, she presented the girls with their very own mini fairy garden. Sweetest. Thing. Ever.

In the spring we’ll put it outside, but right now it’s on our kitchen table. Our littlest plays with it every day.

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Just outside Will’s. Pantone color of the year?

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10)  My husband’s nephew works downtown at the new Will Leather Goods store and we finally made it down there to check it out. It’s a beautiful retail space, with most of the products on the main floor and a second floor loft houses their hats. There’s also a cafe inside the shop, which I didn’t try, but the treats looked yummy.

11)  Our book this month for book group was The Turner House, which I was interested to read because the story follows a family from Detroit throughout history. I couldn’t get more than halfway through. It was kind of blah.

Instead, I re-read the first Harry Potter book, which was just as fun the second time around. I spotted the new illustrated version later, and wished I’d read that version instead.

12)  This cheese. Whenever I see the Cypress Grove label, I get excited. One, because not many places carry it and two, their cheeses are fabulous. The company is located several hours north of San Francisco. I always wanted to visit, but never had the chance.

The Farms Market in town carries Purple Haze, which is a goat cheese (they’re all goat) with fennel pollen and lavender. I tried it for the first time this month (I usually get Humbolt Fog, which is divine with figs and pistachios) and it was equally great. So smooth. Just the right amount of lavender. (Also, can you tell I’m starving right now!?! )

December was a great month, but I did get pretty homesick this month for San Francisco, for friends, for family. Tis the season. I’m so looking forward to this New Year and all its possibilities. Wishing you a wonderful January and 2016!