The October List – 2017

Another frantically written list. Because life is nuts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I appreciate all you readers! Have a great November!

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The 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!

Kitchen Remodel – Week Three: Inspections, Insulation, Drywall

Week three of the kitchen remodel consisted of electrical and plumbing inspections, insulation, relocating the laundry chute and installing drywall.

IMG_8874 (600x800)IMG_8897 (588x800)IMG_8875 (593x800)The insulation was done by this guy (dang, I wish I could remember his name – Dale?), who also handled our demolition the first week. He’s a really nice guy and very fond of Sam the Labrador.

Sam, by the way, is so used to people coming in and out of the house, he barely gets up anymore to greet anyone. And he’s the only one who can sleep through the noise. His new hangout spot is none other than the floral couch (his old spot was the leather armchair in the family room, which is now in the basement and only accessible via the back of the house).

IMG_8912I covered the couch so he wouldn’t dirty it all up and am hoping that once the remodel is done, he’ll go back to his old spot (and if he doesn’t, he’ll be forced to. sorry, buddy). Yep, the zebra rug is still there (if you haven’t figured it out by now, remodel = expensive). But look – we got a coffee table! It belonged to my mother-in-law’s parents and  it was hanging out in her garage, waiting for a home. It’s a little wobbly, but usable and we love it.

The electricians were here early in the week, finishing up with socket placement and all the other wires for the fridge, and lighting. The outdoor sconce placement was discussed, decided on and marked.

IMG_8876 (600x800)The inspections went well (to my knowledge), but they did insist that we install new smoke detectors throughout the house. We had battery operated ones, so the guys took those out on Wednesday and put in new ones upstairs and downstairs that are hardwired throughout the house. We also had to purchase a carbon monoxide plug-in.

IMG_8895 (600x800)The laundry chute was relocated. Old location is the lower rectangle, new location is the higher rectangle. It will still be accessible, but via a cupboard instead of on the backsplash, where it was before.

(Note: see the hollow area to the left of the laundry chute? That’s unused space under the stairs. Wish we could’ve figured out a way to use but…alas.)

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Standing in the family room looking at the kitchen.

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There will be built-in shelving on either side of the fireplace.

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Standing in the kitchen, looking at the family room. Fireplace on right.

Finally, some light! With the drywall up, the room is instantly brighter (and what the heck color to paint the walls?!? STILL trying to figure that one out. Any ideas?).

IMG_8906 (2) (600x800)Why use a ladder when you have stilts? Drywall was prepped today (I think they’re done? I’m not 100% sure).

Next week is going to be an exciting one….cabinets arrive! Also, I think they’re going to put in a zippered wall (vs. a cardboard and Visqueen wall that obviously we can’t walk through), which will be possibly even more exciting than the cabinets at this point because I am freezing from having to walk all the way around the house to get to the basement (laundry, filing cabinets, printer, random boxes – all of which I use often). It was 34 degrees this morning when we took the girls to school. Yikes.

Which reminds me of another thing I’m looking forward to when this project is done – getting to use our heated garage. My car has been parked outside during the remodel and it is cooooold in the mornings. So much to look forward to (and so thankful that these are my hardships at the moment).

 

 

The October List

IMG_8605 IMG_8589 (800x800)1)  Guess what? I found some delicious Asian food! It’s a 30-minute drive to Johnny Noodle King on Detroit’s Fort Street and it was worth it. They mostly have ramen noodles (duh), but a few appetizers, too. I got my favorite – miso ramen with pork belly. YUM. And I will be back.

2)  The 9-minute mile is so last summer. The 12-minute mile (maybe sometimes 13. or 14. or just walking) is way cooler.

3)  Just when I thought I could not make another design decision (spent seriously 20+ hours researching and finally coming to an agreement with my husband about which chairs would work for our kitchen table), I get an email from Fred the appliance guy, asking what color knobs we want for our stove. Put me over the edge.

IMG_8460 (800x800)4)  Sometimes it’s good to look down. (Case in point: this adorable fairy garden I almost missed).

5)  Most squirrels seen in the neighbor’s yard at one time: eight. Yes, there was a huge oak tree out front. And yes, it was super creepy.

6)  Just because it’s your birthday, doesn’t mean your kids are going to be angels all day because please dear God, give me a break already. On my birthday. For the love.

IMG_8619 (640x800)7)  Where can you munch on blackened filet mignon tips with Bearnaise sauce and get your bowling game on? The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, that’s where (okay so we joined a couple’s bowling league, no judgement).

8)  Speaking of the Yacht Club, we totally made fun of the Yacht Club and then about four months later we joined the Yacht Club.

IMG_8654 (721x800)9)  Insect of the month: this moth. I think he was in the process of dying (he was moving slowly and I tried to help him get back up in the air, but no go), but still so beautiful. I spent about one minute online trying to find out what kind of moth, but no luck (it is a moth, right? not a butterfly?).

10)  The previous owner of our house called my husband a couple weeks ago, asking him how we were liking the house and to remind him to change the filter in the hot tub. Nicest. Person. Ever.

11)  I called aforementioned previous owner regarding another matter and I told him we took the wallpaper down (he asked me what we’d done to the house – what could I do?). He said that wallpaper cost something like $100 a roll (according to one online source, for a 16 x 20 room, you need 16-20 rolls. And if you remember, the entire stairway, entryway and hallways were covered). Nervous laughter.

IMG_8446 (729x800)12)  There are drive-through everythings here. Post office boxes, pharmacies, kid drop-offs for school even. At first I was like…”okay, these people are LAY-zee!” And then I started using them and I LOVE them (I’m sure I will love them even more in Winter). Speaking of Winter, is it already here? Brrrrrrr….

 

Kitchen Remodel – Week Two: Brickwork, Fireplace, Electrical, Plumbing, Central Vacuum

The demolition crew finished up last Saturday (the 25th).  Week two consisted of electrical work, plumbing, building the fireplace wall and installing the fireplace, installing the vent in the kitchen (above the stovetop/range), relocating the central vacuum vent/pipe and moving the kitchen window.

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New vent (for range) installed and new window placement built out.

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Sawing bricks lengthwise to reuse for window.

IMG_8793 (600x800)IMG_8798 (600x800)The kitchen window was moved eight inches in order to be centered on the inside wall, and to allow for a corner cabinet. A few old vents were removed and a new one was installed. The masons were no-nonsense workers and they got the job done quickly. According to our project manager, the brick used for our house was no longer in production, so they had to mix some newer (longer by an inch, I believe) brick with some of the old brick they were able to reuse.

IMG_8754 (600x800)Sheetrock was delivered at the beginning of the week, but not yet installed.

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Fireplace vent.

IMG_8767 (600x800)And the fireplace and flue were installed. Couldn’t get a photo or peek at the fireplace because of the sheetrock.

IMG_8768 (600x800)Recessed can lights were installed in the family room and kitchen. Four in the family room and seven for the kitchen.

IMG_8762 (600x800)The waterlines in the wall we knocked down were relocated (blue and red) and the central vacuum vent (that gray pipe sticking up) was moved (below pic) to the far wall that adjoins the family room and kitchen.

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New vac vent outlet on kitchen wall (old location was sticking out of the floor near red toolbox).

Speaking of central vacuums, (and after having typed vacuum so many times, I think I may actually remember how to spell it from here on out), have I told you how much I love ours? It’s super powerful, doesn’t spew dust around (there’s a vent running to the backyard where any excess dust goes) and clean-up is easy (I’ve only emptied it twice since we moved in six weeks ago).

The only thing is that the hose is really long, which means it’s kind of a pain to take in and out of the closet (and takes up half the closet). The vacuum guy told me which attachments to use on which surfaces (I’ve been using the wrong one for the hardwood floors – oopsie. I’ll blame the scratches on the dog) and like any good vacuum salesman, talked up the newest central vac system.

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The Turbocat.

There’s “nothing wrong with” our current vacuum, but it’s over 15 years old. And of course their best unit is on sale right now. For just $1200, we can upgrade to a system that is lighter, more powerful and has a head that you don’t have to switch out for different surfaces (I want!). I asked how much it costs to install a central vac system, and I was surprised by the answer: on the low end, roughly $800-$1000 for a house our size. That doesn’t include the actual vacuum or accessories, but still. A lot less expensive than I thought.

I wondered which “regular” vacuum he considered the best, since people seem to love Miele or Dyson (or sometimes another brand).  He said a few things about both (and I get the impression he’s anti-bagless, which would put him in the Miele camp) and said something to the effect of, “I mean, how often do we talk to people about vacuums.” Ummm…obviously he’s unaware of the Facebook post on my page that went on for miles and miles.

We won’t be upgrading our system in the near future (hello, kitchen remodel!). We’re good with our “perfectly fine” (per vacuum guy) Turbocat, thank you.

The July List

My previous list entries were well-received by y’all, so I’ve decided to make it a regular thing. Surely I can learn 12 new things about this town, myself and life every month? I wasn’t sure what to call them. I tried Musings, Discoveries and Observations, What I’ve Learned So Far, etc. They seemed too grandiose. So I’m simply calling it The List. Here we go.

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1) I still heart Detroit.

2) Here, I am Mrs. Martin. I will never get used to the formality. Especially with friend’s kids. My first instinct is to correct them, but instead I giggle nervously (which I’m sure makes a great first impression).

3) I finally found the 2% minority residents. They are getting their smarts on at the Grosse Pointe Park Library. Heck yes.

IMG_6700 (800x549)4) Do not get the onion rings at the Village Grille. Unless you like semi-raw onions covered in corn dog-type batter. Better yet, don’t get anything at the Village Grille.

5) I’ve discovered a way to frequent Morning Glory without having to lower my coffee standards: iced tea. I don’t think I’ve had iced tea since Oklahoma. I’ve forgotten how refreshing it is to sip iced tea on a hot day.

6) Speaking of hot weather, people here don’t realize that San Francisco is not California weather. Stop apologizing for the”mild, wet, etc” Michigan summer. It’s July and I’m not wearing a parka. I’m good.

7) Word gets around. One of my mother-in-law’s friends knew we had put an offer on our house before we even told anyone. Umm….wow. That’s pretty impressive, even for a small town. (Did I say impressive? I meant annoying).

IMG_7611 (800x800)8) Delight Bakery & Cafe has delicious scones. Really, really good. Josef’s was closed a couple weeks ago, which prompted a visit across the street to this small shop. The “cafe” part of the title is a bit misleading, as they don’t serve coffee. If I could grab a cappuccino with my buttery scone, I’d be more inclined to make it a regular stop.

9) Toilet seat covers are non-existent. Even at fancier places. I feel like I’ve been to one nondescript place that did have them (Starbucks?), but that would be the only one I’ve seen. In San Francisco, even the hole in the wall places provided you with bum protection. Glad I’ve been doing my squats.

baseball (800x800)10) My first trip to Tigers Stadium was also the girls’ first baseball game. They may have enjoyed the carousel and peanuts more than the actual game, but watching the little one cheering with the crowd? Presh.

11) Apparently, it’s okay for complete strangers to ask me where I live. As in my address. And if you don’t readily give it up, they will kindly offer their address, as if to say, now it’s your turn. Cases in point:

EXAMPLE ONE:
Trader Joe’s guy (seeing my license): So what made you move out here?
Me: My husband’s from here. Kids.
Trader Joe’s guy: Where are you guys living, here in Grosse Pointe?
Me: Yes.
TJ Guy: Whereabouts?
Me: What?
TJ Guy: What street are you on? We’re over on Charlevoix near Merriweather.

EXAMPLE TWO (Me, on my morning run)
Lady in Car: Hey!
Me: Hi
Lady in Car: Oh, you can keep running. Do you know where Carver street is?
Me: Sorry, I just moved here.
Lady in Car: Oh! Welcome to the neighborhood. What street are you on?
Me: Uhh….
Lady in Car: I’m on Ridgemont. What street are you on?

12) Speaking of street names, how do you pronounce Cadieux? Wrong! It’s CAD-joo. What about Gratiot? Wrong again. GRA-chit. One more try with Vernier? And… wrong. VUR-nur. So much for the French influence.