The November List – 2018

I was sitting here feeling pretty good, drinking my espresso, ready to stay up late and knock out my Christmas letter. And then I remembered. THE LIST. Or in this case, THE @#*& LIST. It’s not like I have an actual deadline. And nothing bad will happen if I don’t finish on time or even finish at all, except high anxiety, which hey, whats another notch of anxiety at this point. But I made a commitment to myself and to my dedicated followers (all five of you! I love you!), so here we go.

1) The beginning of November was just as stunning as October in terms of Fall colors (I am well aware that seasons are not capitalized, but I like them that way). I am so glad I went for a neighborhood walk when I did to snap some pics because the very next day the weather turned and that was that.

Here’s one of the maples in our backyard. Glorious!!

Here’s another maple that I now call Old Man Maple ever since I snapped this photo. He’s ancient with a huge trunk and oh soooo tall. He will do some serious damage if he ever falls. He’s sitting somewhat in the middle of our yard and I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but my husband is in favor of cutting him down. Now what kind of juju do you think will befall us if we cut this thing down!? I’m not going to find out.

2)  The night of our first frost, my dahlias turned black, a sign that it was ready to pull them up out of the ground. Of course this happened on a day it was in the 20s and snowing, but last year I waited too late and some of my tubers had rotted by the time I dug them up.

It is such a slow process digging them up (if you want to keep them). You have to be so careful not to hit one of the tubers with your shovel. Obviously I got a little impatient. The above pic is my prized Cafe au Lait (I’ve had the exact same plant two years in a row now). I chopped off the mother. OOPSIES. Nancy says it should probably still be okay, we’ll have to wait and see.

3)  I mean, look at this beauty! It grew from the tubers above. This was the very last bloom of the season and it lasted through November 8, which is pretty good! Just a few miles down the road at Detroit Abloom, the dahlias had turned black weeks before. Something to do with the fact that our house is so close to the lake (a half block), blah, blah, science, blah.

4)  I went to Detroit Abloom for a couple hours to help sort tubers (I purposely waited until luckily the digging part was over!). You have to dig them, dry them, number them (numbers correspond to the variety, which they have on a chart because it’s easier to write a number on a tuber than a whole name), sort them, cover them with peat moss, label them, then store them.

5)  I also spent an afternoon at my friend Julia’s new flower farm. We planted tulips, narcissus, fritillaria and carmassia (and yes, I did just text her to ask what we planted. All I could remember was tulips). And walked through her new house, which is under construction. I am so excited to see all of these flowers in the spring and can’t wait to see how she uses them. Check out her beautiful work at @willarosefloral

6)  Possibly more exciting than planting flowers was the bagel she brought me from Detroit Institute of Bagels. I didn’t know a bagel could taste so good. I got jalapeno cheddar, I think? And the most delicious fresh herb cream cheese you will ever have. If you love me and live in the Detroit area, you will bring me one the next time you see me.

7)  We had a small family Thanksgiving celebration at my mother-in-law’s house. I made two desserts, an apple pie and a cheesecake with gingersnap cookie crust. I’m not sure what made our seven-year-old think of this, but she is thankful for our soldiers this year, which I thought was touching and very sweet.

I myself (I know this is bad grammar. I am in a mood.) am thankful for so many things, but I’m also feeling very snarky, so I won’t name any of those things or they will come out wrong. Okay, maybe one. I’m thankful that even though I can barely stay awake past 3:00pm because apparently I have a vitamin B12 deficiency (my doctor tells me so) and haven’t taken the supplements long enough for them to kick in and my hormones are all out of whack (see last month’s post on Tamoxifen), that I can at least drink enough coffee to keep me functioning until the kids go to bed at 8:00pm. See?

8)  My college roommate Lisa gave me her family’s secret recipe for pie cookies. Don’t they look amazing!?! Buttery, sugary rolls of cookie goodness. This is the photo she messaged me that went along with her recipe.

I followed the recipe exactly. Nailed it!

(Also, knowing Facebook, when I post this blog entry it’s going to choose this pic as the cover pic.)

9)  Remember that one dahlia that never bloomed?! Seven months in the ground, never bloomed. Teasing me every day with the promise of a bloom. It was the tallest plant in my garden, over 6 feet tall. I was so sure it was finally going to open, and then, the frost came. This photo was taken about two days before the frost.

On the day the dahlias blackened, I plucked the bud. Here’s what it looked like. It would have been so beautiful! Also why did I focus on my glove and not the flower!? Probably because it was so stinking cold my hands were shaking.

10)  The mister turned 50 this month! GAH! We celebrated with a night at the Detroit Foundation Hotel, a trendy new (although now not so new) spot in downtown Detroit that used to be a fire station. The rooms are very hip, but also quite bare, which we liked, but it’s definitely not the place to send visiting grandparents. We ate brunch there the next day, which was really good. I had a French-style omelette with wild mushrooms that was cooked to perfection and skinny fries just the way I like them – hot, and crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.

Photo from Crains Detroit

11)  After check-in, we walked to Campus Martius, as it was the first weekend of the Detroit winter markets, little pop-up shops with locally-made goods and a big enclosed lounge at the end of the block that is decorated so cozy and Christmasy.

12)  For dinner we met up friends, had a drink at the hotel bar and then went to Prime and Proper, a new-ish steakhouse. I got the same drink I’d had the first time I went there (although we didn’t eat that time, only had drinks). Pretty certain the rim is coated with li-hing-mui powder. Ancient Chinese secret that everyone in Hawaii has known about since I was in high school. #soyesterday

They store their steaks in the basement and we went down to take a look. I wasn’t super hungry, so I opted for a burger instead of a steak because who doesn’t love a perfectly cooked high-quality burger? But that was a mistake. It was great, just not the amazing taste I had expected. Everyone else got some cut of steak and those were delicious.

I can’t end the blog with a picture of raw meat, so here is another Fall pic from my neighborhood walk. Those candy colors are just beyond.

And that, my five friends, is the end of the November List! Here’s to a warm and fuzzy December, filled with all the holiday feels.

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The April List – 2018

Spring finally came to Grosse Pointe at the end of April. The month brought several snow flurries and lots of cold. This morning isn’t a whole lot better at 35 degrees, but the sun is out and it’s supposed to get up to 54, so I’ll take it.

1)  One night we had a weird mix of snow and ice and I woke up to ice covering everything. It was a bit dangerous to be out, as pieces of ice were randomly falling. It was pretty though, which I would have been more appreciative of if it were oh, NOT SPRING!

2)  I started taking Wednesdays off at work again (I was supposed to be doing that all year but could not get the work done over just four work days a week). One Wednesday I went to the Garden, which was pretty depressing as we are a month behind now, but we did plant a bed of stock, and we are all looking forward to an abundant season.

3) The girls and I planted lettuce and kale in our vegetable bed. I can’t do much else in that spot, as our backyard isn’t sunny enough for most vegetables. Our carrots last year grew about an inch. We’ve been successful with beans, but each plant only gives us a handful so I’m trying to utilize the space in a more productive way, albeit must less exciting.

4)  If you read last month’s list, you know I was anticipating my haircut, which I love. It’s the shortest I’ve gone in about 20 years (I just spent 20 minutes trying to find evidence, but could not). I went to The Zealous Root here in town. The gals did an amazing job with what they had to work with.

Disclosure: My stylist also gave me a digital makeover, so I (sadly) look way sweeter in this photo than I do in real life. I mean, look at those eyelashes. They are epic.

5)  While I was waiting for my hair appointment, I read the cheekiest little book about Grosse Pointe, which I must get my hands on. I went to the store where it supposedly came from, but I think copies are long gone. I will keep searching.

6)  I started this month’s book group pick last night and I think it’s going to be a fantastic read. I’m only a few chapters in, but already I am fully engaged in the plot and can’t wait to dive into it again tonight. It puts my other thriller “The Good Girl,” (that I put down in order to start this one) to shame. Not sure I’ll be able to finish it now.

7)  I did manage to drag my behind to the Detroit Body Garage one Wednesday morning, something I have been meaning to do for months. I took it easy-ish, not pushing myself too hard, so I wouldn’t hate the rest of the week. It felt great and I’m going to try to make it a regular thing.

8)  What else can we talk about?…….oh. So the school auction is coming up and I wasn’t going to buy a new dress for it and then I was. I mostly fit this one, except I may have to pin it or keep hiking it up by the armpit, which, whatever. I can’t decide if it looks cool/hip or obnoxious/slutty, but if the other dress that’s coming in the mail doesn’t fit, than this one it is, regardless of how I end up feeling about it.

9)  I went to the new downtown hotspot Prime + Proper, but only for drinks, as we couldn’t get a reservation on short notice. Craft cocktails were delicious and I hear the food is even more so.

10)  I got to hang out with not one, but TWO puppies this month. Soooooooo adorable. How can you stay mad at spring when you get to spend time with a puppy? Okay, I am still mad at spring for the record, but puppy time certainly helped.

11)  I went to karaoke not one, but TWO times this month with new friends of mine. It was so entertaining and fun. I mean, karaoke is pretty much a ridiculous activity, but I am all over it. The crowd is a mixed bag, which I love (and which also adds to the entertainment factor) and it was great to sing on stage again after so long, even if it was just karaoke, and even when the song was not in the right key for me. Ha.

12)  I fit into my snake pants last week, which I can only do about once or twice a year. Which means one of two things. I purposely have been losing weight. Wrong. I’m super stressed. Right?

I’m actually not sure. I don’t feel that stressed, but I suppose I might be. Either way, I was elated to fit into the pants. The kids have been asking me to make scones, which I will probably do today, which means I will have to wait another six months to a year to wear the pants again, but if you’ve tasted the scones, they are completely worth it.

I have high hopes for May. The weather forecast looks good and my work (is supposed to) slowly taper off, giving me more time at the Garden and my own garden, and also more time to be a mom, which has been rough this year with my increased work load, so bring it on, May, I am ready for you!

The June List – 2017

Beignets from the truck at Eastern Market. A summertime favorite.

It’s officially summer! I’m so happy for predictably hot weather and al fresca dining and lazy days.

1.  My baking instincts always kick in during the summer. Probably because of all the fresh fruit available, which makes me want to eat shortcakes and scones and pies. A quiche is always a great place to stash all the fresh produce I get from The Garden. Our chard was beautiful this year and I love Deborah Madison’s saffron quiche recipe.

My friend Julia went to the Ann Arbor farmer’s market and brought back a flat of strawberries for me. The girls helped me chop up the berries and I made our first strawberry shortcakes of the season. The Michigan strawberry season is pretty much over now, but that won’t stop me from making more shortcakes over the summer with store-bought organic berries.

And then at the bottom of the freezer I found the last of our New York-picked blueberries, so I made scones and tried a batch with strawberries, which came our really yummy.

2.  At the Garden this month, we had beautiful speckled and romaine lettuces, which have now all gone to seed, though I have a few leaves left in the fridge.

And also garlic scapes, the flower of a garlic plant that you cook and eat pretty much like you do garlic – stir fries, egg scrambles, pizza, whatever. I like them grilled.

3.  In our own little vegetable garden, we enjoyed a few peas and lots of mixed lettuce greens. The kale is still going strong and we’re hoping the carrots will be ready to pick in a couple of weeks. The green onions look very scraggly and sad, but they look a lot better than the ones I planted last year, which ultimately did not make it.

4.  The rhododendrons I cut back too far two years ago are finally coming back! They were beautiful this year and look healthy and happy. Our azaleas were also abundant this year.

5.  I still want to try growing peonies, but there are only a few spots in our yard that are sunny enough and those spots are full now with dahlias from Detroit Abloom.

They are doing well, but the bunnies keep eating the leaves and I’ve run out of netting and truthfully too lazy to go out and get more, so I’m just hoping for the best on the unprotected ones.

Back to peonies. I found some on my walk one morning growing along the side of someone’s house, which I thought was such a waste of beauty because they were tucked in a pedestrian alley that not many people walk along. Maybe the owners come out and pick them to enjoy inside. I hope so because they were gorgeous.

6.  It’s also spider season and we have a contract with a spider spray company, but they haven’t come by this year, so I don’t know what’s up with that. My Dad and his wife were here for a visit this month and we got to talking about brown recluse spiders, so whenever I see one in the house, I’m convinced it’s a brown recluse that is just waiting for an opportunity to bite me.

For sure there is a huge one in our basement, that lives at the bottom of the stairs. I would vacuum it up, but I’m afraid it will A) make a home in the vacuum dust bin and bite me when I go to empty it or B) I won’t be able to catch it and then it will be angry that I tried to catch it, making it vengeful and therefore out to get me.

7.  I’ve been going to weekly classes at Jabs Gym, which I’ve mentioned here before. I’m not a big sweat-er, but I always leave that class a hot sweaty mess.

What I haven’t mentioned is that I recently discovered that I pretty much can’t do jumping jacks anymore without peeing myself. Or jump squats. Or high knees. Getting older is so amazing! Reading glasses, peeing myself in cardio boxing, and finding several white hairs on my head (which I’ve never had except one strange time in my 20s) – all in a matter of weeks!

There’s a motto written on the wall, which I reworded to make my own.

If I take an earlier class, I always stop downstairs at Beyond Juice and treat myself to a Mango Tango smoothie and sometimes their cashew ball cookies.

8.  Anyhoo. Have you seen the curtains in our master bathroom!? If not, here they are in all their handbag glory. Before you start thinking I’ve lost my mind, they were left behind by the previous owners of the house. I used to hate them, but am now quite attached to them.

9.  My friend Kacy invited me to her husband Arlin’s (www.arlingraff.com) mural reveal party in West Village. He’s painted murals around the world, but this is his first Detroit mural.

The painting is really cool and is a lively addition to the small strip of businesses on the street (including the well-known Sister Pie). It sits on the wall of Detroit Body Garage, where I just took a class yesterday. If you are in the area, check it out!

A home in West Village.

10.  The following week I met up with Terra, owner of Detroit Body Garage, to talk about bringing a group of volunteers to the Garden. I walked her back to her apartment and then just took an hour to myself to have coffee and sit, an experience I rarely allow myself anymore.

Red Hook coffee is a cute little shop with great baked goods (I’m picky and most things elsewhere are too sweet) and their coffee is good. I got a lavender syrup shot, which they make in-house, in my macchiato, which was interesting, but I’m a traditionalist when it comes to coffee, so I probably wouldn’t get it again.

Across the street is beautiful mural by Detroit artis Ouizi. It’s a lovely thing to look at when you’re taking a minute for yourself.

11.  Coincidentally, the next day a group of us went to dinner at Craft Work, which is right next door to Red Hook. My husband and I had never been and we enjoyed the ambiance. Food was good, but you had to know what to get, which we didn’t. My appetizers were delicious, but I should have gotten the burger, which I’ve heard is fantastic, instead of the polenta, which was a little tasteless and dry.

12.  In mid June, my husband and I went to a white party fundraiser for an organization that throws celebration-of-life parties for kids who are terminally ill. There were many touching presentations and our table bid on a bunch of things and we came home with this painting, which is a little crazy, but I love it.

Tonight is the local fireworks display. Not sure if the little one will be able to stay up late enough, but we’re going to try. Hope all you good people have a great July 4th holiday and continue to enjoy your summer!

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