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!

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The October List – 2016

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October was a typical autumn month, although sometimes the weather felt more like winter. The leaves are spectacular this year. Definitely showier than last year’s foliage. Wish I had more than just two photos to show you.

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1) Marais is an upscale French restaurant here in town. It’s been applauded in the culinary world, but I find the menu lackluster. Plus, I’m still bitter that the first time we went there, we were not told about the cheese plate! People! They do have a great bar menu (burgers are super), so we continue to pop in for that.

They recently started what they call Marais Cafe, which simply means their bar/lounge area is turned into a breakfast spot. It is divine. The pastries are superb and I am a croissant snob (hands down the best croissants I’ve ever had were in Germany, not France, surprising, no?).

It will cost you a pretty penny. Is $3.00 for a plain croissant worth the money? Absolutely, especially when it’s served on fine china. And anything that can transport me back to Europe I will pay top dollar for.

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2) The first time I shot a gun was on Thanksgiving break in Victoria, Texas, where I spent the holiday with my friend John and his family (I was going to college in Oklahoma at the time). I don’t remember it much, except that I only fired the gun a couple times for practice and didn’t fire at all on the duck hunt (but someone did, because I remember them cleaning and eating a duck later that evening).

Mid month I was invited to a charity clay shoot held in Metamora, about an hour drive from Grosse Pointe. The guns were intimidating – it took a long time for me to settle in to any sort of comfort – weapons put me on edge. I did hit a few targets (yay!) and since I wore the dorky shoulder pad every time, did not get bruised or sore like some of the gals.

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Even though my skills were less than amateur, somehow our team managed to pull off a second place win! It was a really fun time for a very great cause (Cure Epilepsy).

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3) I received my last flower share from our flower farm, Detroit Abloom. What a great program and if you live in the area, you will want to get in on it next year. October was the month that our dahlias decided to burst into full bloom.

I helped Nancy and Julia harvest a couple of times. One week we had so many flowers, we were selling them by the bucket and donating others. Colors range from purple to orange to yellow to pink to white and many flowers showcase several different shades/colors. My favorites are the pale pink and white ones.

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4)  I’ve been wanting to take a photo of this mural/art installation on Jefferson Avenue for the longest time and I finally did.

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5.  One of the moms from school works for the company that sells Brillo Sweep & Mop and gave one to me to try out. I am OCD when it comes to cleaning and I was skeptical, as I’ve had many battles with the Swifter which I vowed never to use again.

There was slight confusion when putting the mop together, but I eventually I figured it out and clicked it into place. I can be very aggressive with cleaning tools and I was impressed that the little pad that attaches to the mop did not fly off, nor did the mop buckle under all my vigor.

The only thing I don’t like is the smell of the pads (similar to Swifter’s – chemically smelling), but I may use them occasionally and you don’t have to use their pads – you can use a cloth or whatever. Bottom line: I’ll still need to get down on my knees for tough spots, but it’s a great product for a quick floor refresher and I will continue to use. Thanks, Kristine!

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6.  Ever since “Downton Abbey” went off the air, I’ve been looking for a replacement show (haven’t we all?). I discovered “Gran Hotel,” which I’ve been binge-watching on Netflix because it’s only available through November 15th – nooooo! I’m not going to get through them all and may have to start subscribing to Hulu, just to watch the end.

The show is hardly deep or fleshed out and the budget clearly does not rival that of “Downton Abbey,” but the Castilian Spanish (gracias = grrrrathiath) is charming and romantic, and the characters are likeable, even the villains. Someone gets slapped in every episode and it seems like someone dies or gets close to death in every episode. Such a great bad show!

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7.  I turned 44 this month (waaaaaaah!). A small group of friends celebrated with me (and another gal who shared a bday close to mine) at the Country Club of Detroit in a private room upstairs. The food was delicious (the cheese platter with honeycomb fresh from their hives omg), the champagne glasses were overflowing and the cake was GORgeous.

My friendships here are still in the baby stages and I miss my San Francisco friends beyond anything I can describe, but the people here appear to have an abundance of generosity that is genuine and natural (all the gals – not just the birthday dinner ones!). The GP crowd is a tough one to break into and as much as I love to play the outsider and make fun of their idiosyncrasies, I am so grateful for and often humbled by them.

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8)  On my birthday, Tom and I visited one of the local schools to talk about The Garden Detroit. I was soooo nervous! But the kids were sweet and receptive and funny, and I ended up having a great time. Pistachio the possum (who Tom rescued and has since been returned to the wild) was a big hit. And the kids sang Happy Birthday to me before I left. Awww.

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9.  When my husband got back from his guy weekend in Kentucky, we celebrated my bday at Republic Tavern, a newish spot in downtown Detroit. I decided to try an actual cocktail vs my usual champagne appertif, and it was soooo good. I almost stuck with it through the rest of the meal, but did switch to red wine, thankfully (cocktail went down way too fast).

The food was just okay. Actually the appetizers were really good, but the entrees were okay/as expected. We would go back.

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10.  Couples bowling started up again at the Yacht Club. For some reason I think it is hyseterical that we drink Moet while we bowl. Only in Grosse Pointe…

img_1558-786x102411. Halloween was fun this year because the little one is a year older and can stay up just a bit later, which makes all the difference. Also, it wasn’t freezing cold or raining, which helped a ton. As is the annual tradition, we wet to a friends’ house for a potluck and then headed out on the streets around 6pm.

One of our friends is really into Halloween decorations. He makes them as in creates from scratch with plastic molds and fabric and paint, etc. Impressive.

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12.  Sam at our 5-year-old’s tea party. Because he’s such a good boy.

And that’s a wrap! I have been so sick with a nasty cold for over a week and I am ready to feel normal again. I hope all of you are in better shape! Have a great November!

PS – my numbers aren’t consistent (some have dots, some have the half circle parenthesis thingy) which is a huge pet peeve, but it’s a long story and a WordPress logistics issue (I continue to use the old editing system, though they try to get me to switch all the timme), and I at least got the text to where it is justified vs indented, so I am leaving it at that.

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Reflections of Fall

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News of our first snow storm coming tomorrow gave me the push I needed to get my Fall photos up! We had a beautiful Fall (it’s not quite over, I realize that, but many trees are bare now). Not quite as amazing as last year and not because it’s no longer new. The colors just weren’t as lush, probably because the leaves were drier, is my guess?

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Fall always brings a great moodiness to it that makes for much more interesting photos. Summer is beautiful in its bright, fresh way, but Fall and Winter make my camera happy.

As we head into Thanksgiving, I am feeling extra grateful for the ease of my life and the beauty that I get to see every day in the Lake, the trees, the sky. I will never take for granted these simple joys of life. Wishing you all a very lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Apples

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

Fall: A Gallery

What Grosse Pointe lacks in the food department, it makes up for in beauty (and that’s saying a lot, friends). Fall has been an amazing display of color. The landscape changes a little bit each day, and I can’t stop staring.

The pinks are my favorite. Normally they’re paired with yellow hues, so you have this beautiful combination of the brightest yellow close to the trunk, and then a slow fade to pink. The perfect ombre. Nature gest it right every time.

But the oranges are also striking. So bright, so bold. And the plums! The reds! It’s enough to make you fall on your knees and weep.

There’s something foreboding about Fall that makes it seem more intense than Spring. Winter is coming. There are already whispers of another bad year (Farmer’s Almanac and such). Right now, though, the trees are trying hard to tell us to pay attention. Look around. Enjoy. And I, for one, am doing just that.