The December List – 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing everyone a Very Happy New Year!

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The August List – 2018

Detroit Sky

Whyyyyy!?!?! Why is summer over, why am I a week behind in writing this post, why am I so tired already after just one day back at work!

1)  That photo above was taken on my way to dinner at a friend’s house in Detroit. The sky was amazing and even though the neighborhood I was driving through was questionable, I had to stop. So I only got halfway out of the car, but still. There were so many other great shots I could have taken, each block seemed to get better and better.

Note: It is 9:50pm at night and I am hearing noises above me, which means that probably my littlest is having trouble sleeping (which makes her soooo upset), but I am choosing to ignore said noises. For now.

2)  August was a perfect summer month with lots of hot weather, swimming and flowers. Dahlias are in full force at Detroit Abloom, and though I do not get to work with them nearly as much as in past years, I at least get to see the flowers every week in my CSA bouquet.

Dahlia

3) My favorite variety is Cafe au Lait, which is so creamy and fluffy. Sometimes you get more buttery-colored blooms and other times they bloom with a hint of pink, you just never know. The tubers I planted this year are giving me both and it is so lovely. The top pic is one that was over-the-top exquisitely wonderful.

4) The Garden Detroit’s garden is very small this year, as we had to relocate from our large space. However, we still had lots of tomatoes, enough to sell several times at the Farmer’s Market. I roasted several trays, made gazpacho and ate them raw.

5) We also had some broccoli. I think this photo was actually taken in July (I try to only post photos that were taken in the month I’m writing about. OH WELL).

Photo By Metro Times

6)  I got to cross another noodle place off my list finally. Urban Ramen in downtown Detroit. I went with a couple new mom friends and one work friend, a shared interest being our love of Asian food. The place is small and it was already crowded, but we were seated quickly (at the high table) and our food came pretty quickly as well.

I was way too excited to eat the noodles, so I failed to get a photo of them, but they were delicious. This photo is of the tuna on a rice cake I believe and it looks somewhat unappetizing, but it was REALLY good. I am dying to go back. I think my kids would like it, too.

7)  We packed up the car and piled the whole family into my trusty CRV for another trip to upstate New York, where we stayed with my Dad and his wife in their cabin in the woods. Except for the mouse situation (OMG you guys) which we got under control the day we left (which translates to I had restless sleep the whole time), all went well.

It was a shorter than usual trip, as we had an event we had to get back home for, but we did get to spend some time with cousins and aunts, which fulfills me so much.

8)  One such family member was Aunt Betty, who is 94. She is amazing and I was lucky to snap this photo of her just before she got up from the couch. No matter how short my visit, I will always make time to see her. She spent many a summer housing me and my sister, cooking and cleaning for us and keeping us company.

9)  My friend Erin said the photo made her think of Gregory Crewdson (who I’d never heard of and had to look up) and that I should watch his documentary, which I borrowed from the library and loved.

The cover photo for the film isn’t my favorite and to me, doesn’t portray the body (hehe) of his work accurately. It seems morbid whereas I think his work definitely feels deeply melancholy, but not morbid. So I give you the cover photo of the film AND another shot that I like better.

10)  But back to New York. While we were there my Dad called up his half-brother (who he had never spoken to or met before!) and invited him and his wife to come over and they did. That same day. So that.

I’ll save the details for another post, but I WILL present to you my real grandfather (not one of my grandmother’s three husbands, all of whom she outlived by the way), Mark Sears, with a Guernsey cow. The plot thickens!

11)  I read two books this month. Bad Blood, a true story of the rise and fall of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup, and its creator. Fascinating. And also The Assistants, which is kind of an empty read, but it was entertaining and cute enough for summer evenings when I wasn’t up for using too much brainpower.

Photo By DIA Founders Junior Council

12)  Two nights after we got back from New York, we attended Fash Bash 2018, a fundraiser fashion show held by the DIA (museum) and Neiman Marcus. My girlfriend oversees the fashion show part and another girlfriend was co-chairing this year and my husband’s nephew was walking the show, so we so we made sure to purchase tickets this year.

As a teenager, I used to wake up early on Saturdays (or was it Sundays? Also I lived in Hawaii at the time, so I’m thinking the show was actually on much later on the mainland) to catch Elsa Kensch’s Style show on CNN. She would showcase fashion shows and designers and I found it all so fascinating. Perhaps I should have followed my passion and gone into some sort of design field, but honestly, I don’t think I quite had the eye for it. (Although, fashion is subjective, no?)

But I digress. Watching a live fashion show was inspiring. I mean, watching beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes in a stunning environment…what’s not to love? (well, my husband could tell you, but let’s not ask him). And the people-watching was also as entertaining as the show.

That’s a wrap. Happy September! See you at the end of the month with another List.

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!