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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Lost and Found – Schoolhouse Chair

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A couple months ago while surveying Detroit Abloom (a nonprofit project where I volunteer in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood), I spotted a curious sight.

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Upon closer inspection, a schoolhouse chair had become woven into a tree trunk, becoming one with it. So many metaphors and juxtapositions I could go into but I am lazy, so you can come up with your own.

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I did think it was interesting that I’d been next to that tree so many times before, but never noticed the chair. Maybe because it was the beginning of winter and things were so bare that without all the greenery it was easier to spot. Nature is pretty crazy cool.

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Views From the Kayak – Upstate New York

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Last month, our family of four, plus the dog, drove 600 miles from Grosse Pointe to Glenfield, New York. My Dad has a spot on a small no-motors-allowed lake at the tip of the Adirondack Park, where we spent most of our time.

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Some of my favorite times were spent out on the lake on the kayak. In the mornings, the lake is like glass. I got up close to waterlilies and purple pickerel…

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picked wild berries….

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and just enjoyed being alone.

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I almost got caught in a storm once, which was scary, but I made it back to shore in time (and I did get a very good workout that day).

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My sweet buddy Sam got very upset whenever I went out on the kayak. If he wasn’t held back, he would try to swim out to me, which is concerning since he is not as great of a swimmer as he used to be.

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His eyes (or perhaps his smell) are still excellent, though, as he could spot me from far away, and would run to the edge of the dock to await my return.

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Photos from The Garden

Julia, with colorful carrots.

Hello! Oh my gosh, I can barely keep up with the blog these days. Between kids and trips and gardening and social media…..my poor blog is getting left behind. But I guess it’s a good sign that I’m keeping busy and enjoying summer.

If you’re already following The Garden Detroit’s instagram (user name @thegardendetroit), these photos will look familiar to you. They are some of my favorites taken (mostly) at our farm over the last couple months. Purposely left off are photos of tomatoes, which will need their own post. So many!

Wish you were here to help us at the Garden! Of course if you are ever in the area, stop by and see us.

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Amy, one of our board members, with collard greens.

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Chard

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Tom, director of the Garden. He is usually this happy!

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Conjoined patty pan squash.

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Baby cucumber.

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Reflections of Fall

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News of our first snow storm coming tomorrow gave me the push I needed to get my Fall photos up! We had a beautiful Fall (it’s not quite over, I realize that, but many trees are bare now). Not quite as amazing as last year and not because it’s no longer new. The colors just weren’t as lush, probably because the leaves were drier, is my guess?

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Fall always brings a great moodiness to it that makes for much more interesting photos. Summer is beautiful in its bright, fresh way, but Fall and Winter make my camera happy.

As we head into Thanksgiving, I am feeling extra grateful for the ease of my life and the beauty that I get to see every day in the Lake, the trees, the sky. I will never take for granted these simple joys of life. Wishing you all a very lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Chases Lake

IMG_1848 (1024x1024)Chases Lake (although everyone pronounces it Chase, without the s, and writes it that way, too) is located at the tip of the Adirondacks in New York state, where my Dad is from. As kids, every other summer my sister and I would fly to New York solo to meet my Dad (who would fly in from Germany).

He and his siblings owned a cottage at Chases Lake, which they inherited from their folks and we would spend a chunk of time there in addition to my Grandma’s house and Aunt Betty’s.

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Photo from Chase Lake Facebook page.

When I was in college (I think. my timeline could be way off here), my Dad bought his own place, not far from his family cottage. I love the familiarity of the lake and that there are still no motors allowed (it’s such a small lake that anything with a motor wouldn’t make sense anyway). We took the girls for a canoe ride…

IMG_1889 (1024x1024) IMG_1890 (1024x1024)And one afternoon Sammy, the girls and I went for a walk in the woods and got caught in a rainstorm…

IMG_2377 (1024x1024)IMG_2381 (1024x1024) IMG_2383 (1024x1024) IMG_2362 (768x1024)My Dad and his wife planned a get-together with cousins and Aunts (no Uncles left).

IMG_2159 (1024x1024)It was a cold day, but that didn’t stop the kids from enjoying the water.

IMG_2525 (1024x1024)IMG_2526 (1024x1024)It was great to finally share this part of my life with the girls. It’s been eight years since I’ve been back. Definitely won’t be another eight before we visit again.