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.

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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!

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.