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 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 July List – 2018

I love July so much. Summer is going full force and there is still a lot of it left. Friends have you over for impromptu al fresco dinners (above), pool days turn into pool nights, kids stay up late and wake up late.

1) We celebrated the July 4th holiday with our annual barbecue at Uncle Jim’s house (I actually got in, or semi got into the pool, which happens maybe once a year, if that. Is it 90 degrees? Then no, I’m not in the pool) and by watching the Grosse Pointe Farms fireworks show with friends atop the Grosse Pointe Academy lawn.

2) I finally made it to the John K King used bookstore in downtown Detroit, a place I’d been wanting to go to since we first moved here. Plan to spend at least an hour browsing the shelves filled with over a million books, less time if you have kids in tow, which we did.

They have a huge collection of rare books, but they sadly did not have a copy of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, a sci-fi title that my husband and I both read as kids and have been curious to see if it’s really as good as we remember. Yes, the book is available online, but with a new, dumb cover illustration so I refuse to buy it.

3) I did pick up three books, one of which I’d been wanting – Kate Atkinson’s “When Will There Be Good News?” since I read her first two detective stories a couple years ago. She’s also the author of “Life After Life” which is a giant of a book, but goes quickly and is a must-read. I just finished “When Will There Be Good News?” last night and really enjoyed reading it. I’ve thought about it a lot since I put it down, which is always a sign of a good book. Or good anything.

4) We stopped at Lafayette Coney Island before the bookstore trip, as it was on our way and the Mister (who doesn’t like this photo because “no one puts ketchup on a coney dog” insert eye roll emoji) was hungry. He got coney dogs (obviously) and fries, and I shared an order of fries with the girls. The restaurant is right next door to American Coney Island, and Detroiters are very passionate about which restaurant they think is superior.

5)  My sister’s family of four came to visit us this month. We mostly wanted to just hang out since we usually only see each other once a year, but of course we had to do some touristy things, as they’d only been here one other time in the dead of winter.

We randomly stopped at Shake Shack for lunch and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Service was fast and friendly and food was yummy and fresh. Really great for a fast food joint and I’d definitely go there again.

6) The beach area at Campus Martius was fantastic. There was music playing (DJ), foosball, a huge Jenga set, and lots of people-watching.

7) We also went to the Riverwalk, which the kids love. As we were heading back to the parking lot, we watch a group of girls take photos for a quinceanera celebration.

8) On what was possibly the hottest day of the year, we went to Belle Isle and stopped at the aquarium and conservatory (extra hot and humid, we were all dying). We had plans to go to the beach, but when we drove by there were so many people and we didn’t want to deal with the crowds or the parking.

So we decided to try the slide, which turned out to be highly entertaining, especially for me, as I was not participating, and got to watch as my brother-in-law got going a little too fast and caught air on the bumps. Hehe.

9) Why did it hail in the middle of July!? All of a sudden the clear sky turned gray and a deluge of rain came down, followed by a minute of hail. No locusts, though.

10) Have you been to Otus Supply in Ferndale? My book group gals and I Ubered there in lieu of our usually meeting and tried just about everything on the menu. All of the food was quite good, right down to the sourdoughnuts, but my margarita was too sweet. From what our server told us, they also have a great live music scene on certain days of the month.

11) We were invited by friends to a rental cottage in Lexington, Michigan, for a weekend. The drive is about one and a half hours – quick compared to the majority of getaway spots, which are 3 to 5 hours away. It was a cute little town with a handful of restaurants and shops and lots of summer cottages.

On our first night, we walked through town to the park, where a bluegrass band was playing. We dipped our feet into Lake Huron and skipped stones.

The rest of the weekend was cold, humid and rainy – not ideal – but we made the most of all the breaks in the rain by going for walks (me), or to the beach (them) which you got to by going down a steep flight of stairs, or sitting by the fire (all of us). I walked by so many wild sweetpeas, which I’d only ever seen growing on a farm, so that was exciting for me.

12) A little baby bluejay hung out in our lilac tree for three days. He was the cutest, fluffiest thing and I worried that the blackbirds were going to scare him, or that he’d fall and some creature or cat would find him, but since I didn’t see him after the third day, I’m going to assume he flew away and is somewhere in the trees, happily enjoying summer.

We’re off for what is becoming an annual trip to upstate New York, one of my most favorite places on earth. San Francisco, yes. Florence, absolutely. There are many other beautiful and exotic places, but there is something about dairy country that I can’t shake. Follow along on Instagram, or get filled in on next month’s list. Happy August!

The June List – 2018

Photo by @willarosefloral

I don’t know if it’s the state of the nation or lack of sleep or being home with the kids 24/7 or all of the above, but I woke up in the middle of the night last night with what I think (hope) was a panic or anxiety attack.

Needless to say, after finally falling back asleep (after two hours of freaking out) and waking up early the next day, I told myself I was going to take deep(er) breaths and take more time for me. Which I did this morning at Detroit Abloom, helping them harvest flowers for the CSA bouquet program. It was crazy humid and already hot at 8:30am, but I didn’t mind so much and we finished quickly.

On with the list. June was summery hot, filled with quintessential summertime activities.

1) One of which is afternoons at the pool. We belong to the Yacht Club, so we tend to go there vs. the local/city pool. One day, I was enjoying semi-reading (littlest can’t 100% swim) a book in the shade, and a lady pulled up a chair literally inches in front of me (I moved out of my chair behind the gentleman to take the photo). Ridiculous.

Because I’m non-confrontational to a fault, I stayed where I was (even more ridiculous). Yes, I need to work on that. But I probably won’t.

2) My home garden is looking pretty good. Dahlias popped up this month (they take sooooo long to surface), which was exciting. The bunnies (I’m guessing) snacked on several of them, but even those are now coming back and looking pretty good. I made a rough map/key to show me which variety I planted where, but after a while I got lazy, so we’ll just have to see.

The David Austin roses Julia and I planted in May are finally starting to show life. One plant is completely dead (Squirrels! They dig up everything!), and one I thought was dead and was about to pull it up when I spotted some dark green leaves. I don’t know if I’ll get any flowers this year, I don’t know how roses work and I haven’t taken the time to look it up. My goal this season is simply to keep them alive.

4) A young robin followed me around the garden for several days. He would stay close when I was planting or weeding, hopping away if I moved significantly, but then coming right back. I am reading The Secret Garden with our oldest at night and this guy reminded me of the robin in that book. Maybe they are one of the more friendly wild birds? Or more unafraid perhaps. Or. This one is just a little special, per the husband, who said it also followed him around while he was using the hedge trimmer.

5) Three years after planting our serviceberry tree that my mom gifted to us for our anniversary, we had berries! It was such a nice surprise. They were oh so tiny, but packed a big punch and were very sweet.

6)  Speaking of berries, we had mulberries at the Garden. I was lucky to be there one day during their peak and Michael had already harvested a bunch. Wild berries are the absolute best.

6) I did my summer Costco run, so I’m all set. For a hot minute. #smoothieseveryday

7) My husband and I were invited to a tennis tournament (aka party where you play tennis). I have never played and he was rusty, but we showed up as requested in our tennis whites and ended up having a blast. I actually hit the ball a couple times. Woo-hoo!

There was food from the Imperial Taco Truck and drinks (I brought strawberry-jalapeno margaritas) and an ice luge (of which I did not partake) and a DJ. The party was still going strong when we left around 10:00pm.

8) We were also invited to a Sam Smith concert at the new Little Caesar’s arena, which neither of us had been to. I have avoided concert invitations lately (crowds = anxiety, also see beginning of post), but the tickets were for our friends’ private suite. THAT I can do. And I actually loved the concert. He had a fantastic voice and equally fantastic back-up singers, so I was happy.

9) I went to Gray Ghost Detroit restaurant for the first time, to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. Food wasn’t overly delicious, but I enjoyed it. Drinks were great and the ambiance was nice. For a Monday night it was very lively.

10) I cooked lobster tails for the first time. I know, they are so easy, but I’ve always been intimidated by them for some reason. Threw them on the grill, made some herb butter and enjoyed.

11) A lot of firsts this month….. another was pasta from a friend of a friend’s company, Detroit Pasta Co. He makes and delivers homemade pasta and sauce. I tried the pasta only – he brought fettucine and pappardelle (my favorite. well, clarification, my favorite fresh pasta. My favorite shelf and restaurant pasta is hands down spaghetti).

I tossed the pappardelle with shitake mushrooms, onions (I would have done shallots, but didn’t have any), parsley and heavy cream. And a touch of red pepper flakes (necessary on every type of pasta). And made garlic scape pesto for the fettuchine. Divine.

12) Grosse Pointe is not known as a place to showcase your individuality, so I was pleased to see this sight one evening in the Village. Reminded me of San Francisco. You be you, girl.

Please tell someone you love them, spend time in a garden and be good to yourselves this month! Happy July, all!

 

The May List – 2018

Spring was alive and well in Grosse Pointe this month, bringing warmer temps, tree blossoms and flowers.

However.

1) Just when all the blossoms had formed on the dogwood and magnolia (two of my favorite early spring plants), a crazy strong wind storm blew through town, resulting in downed trees, limbs and of course, blossoms.

I was at work during the storm and we all heard a loud crash. The storm shattered windows, too. SIGH

2) My old lilac tree weathered the storm quite nicely and its many blooms survived, giving us a beautiful display of light and dark purples. I keep thinking it’s going to break or topple over after a big snow or wind storm, but it stays strong.

3) The difference in the garden from the beginning of May to the end.

My vegetable garden is not doing well at all this year, due to the horrible squirrels, who dig up every seed and seedling they can find. Last year they didn’t touch my kale, lettuce or string beans, but this year they dig as soon as I’m done planting. I’m wondering if it’s because they are starving because of the long winter we had, or if they’ve just become more aggressive and annoying.

This is such a huge disappointment for me because there’s nothing better than fresh greens on the table minutes after they’ve been picked. Okay, there are a million better things, but you know what I mean. Freshness just cannot be duplicated.

4) Luckily, we are still growing greens at The Garden Detroit, in spite of our move from our large garden to the smaller plot next to our flower farm, and Tom and Nancy are always so nice to let me have some whenever I stop by. I enjoyed bok choy, sauteed with chili oil and garlic, and today for lunch I’m making a speckled lettuce salad.

5)  Detroit Abloom, the flower farm project, had to scramble this season, again because of the tough winter and spring or non-spring that we had. Our flower bouquet share starts today and we were all foraging for fillers yesterday like grasses and clover, to flesh out the bouquets.

It has been slow-going, but I am super excited for another beautiful season! If you are in the area, please come volunteer any time!

6)  Early this month I joined friends for the Susan G. Komen cancer walk in Detroit. We met at the DAC for a light breakfast, then headed out into the crisp morning in our matching leggings and team shirts.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that came up during the walk. I had flashbacks to my diagnosis and treatment, and thought about all the women out there who have been lost, and those who are just getting diagnosed. How their lives are going to change forever, how their families will be changed.

I’m just finishing up year five, which means I can stop taking my medication soon, which is both exciting and scary. I want to put it behind me and taking daily medication is an in-your-face reminder, and my doctor says that most people who stop taking the medication see a significant change (more energy, body feels better), but the medication was also my mental crutch, allowing me to believe that if I took it, the cancer wouldn’t come back. Which isn’t entirely true.

7)  On to more happy news. I finished work until the next school year – yippeee!!!! We had a fun and successful auction and I couldn’t be more pleased about the money and enthusiasm we raised for the school.

I ended up wearing a sparkly Rachel Zoe backless dress. I love it and wish I could wear it everywhere. The night ended with lots of tequila drinks and two of the above three girls on stage singing and playing bongos. Oopsie.

8)  If you’ve read enough of my blogs, you know that once the warm weather hits, I get the baking itch. I made a delicious batch of scones this month with plans to make many more throughout the summer.

9)  My husband and I joined another couple for a Memorial Day weekend in Florida. Which was fantastic, but would have been even more fantastic, were it not in the middle of tropical storm Alberto (eye roll). So pretty much we ate and drank our way through Naples, and had to find other non outdoor things to do like go to the movies, shop….

….and play drag bingo aka “Bitchy Bingo.”

10)  My girlfriend and I did manage to take a nice walk along the beach during a break in the rain. We ended up on a nature pathway back to town through mangroves and air plants and other cool vegetation.

There were little informational plaques along the way, which were helpful and fun. As we came to the end of the walk, we got drenched in a downpour, and found shelter in the Naples Grand hotel, wiping ourselves off in the bathroom with towels, but ultimately this was a good move, as we wandered into the spa area and made massage appointments for the next day (another great indoor activity).

11)  I wish I’d had a day to just walk around and photograph the architecture. So many retro-ish apartment buildings. Reminded me a bit of LA.

12)  I picked up several books at the library, two of which are sequels to books I’ve already read. I chose the translated (from Dutch) Adler-Olsen thriller to start with and so far it is just what I’d hoped for. Quirky characters and fast-paced suspense.

The girls are in school through Friday, so I have a few more days to catch up on things before the wonderful madness of summer break begins. Happy June, everyone!!