The December List – 2017

Back to work tomorrow after a two-week break, although much of that break was spent like this….

1) … because I came down with the flu or whatever nasty business was going around.

2) And then the week before that, the kids and husband had it, so I was dealing with that. I feel like December was a blur of snow and cold and sickness, (but we did enjoy our holidays).

Temperatures dropped into the negatives for several days and aside from not being able to really go outside (which I didn’t feel like doing anyway), I am very concerned about my plants and how they will fare come Spring.

3) It snowed quite a bit this December and the first few snowfalls I was happy to shovel because it’s so peaceful, especially at night when no one else is around except for maybe the professional snow blowers who get their jobs done so fast but never do as good of a job as a good old-fashioned shovel. Although I do envy then, don’t get me wrong. And it’s a great workout also.

Luckily or unluckily the next several times it snowed, I was too unwell to shovel, so my husband did all the hard work.

4)  We went to Mr. Paul’s Chophouse for the first time. It’s an old school dimly lit place in Roseville that doesnt’ take reservations and makes Caesar salad tableside and offers huge steaks (which we shared). Sorry the photo is so creepy, but I had to blur the subject. The steaks were really, really good, as was the Caesar. Fish, okay.

5)  We had ugly sweater day at work, so I bought this cheap number on Amazon so I could participate. Of course the girls looooved it and kept wanting to pet the cat and I’ve never gotten so many compliments from the kids at school. Hahahaha so great.

6)  We were so, so happy to have a White Christmas this year. It snowed a bunch on Christmas Eve as we were driving to my husband’s sister’s place for dinner. We drove about 40 mph on the freeway, so it took forever to get there and back, but it was so pretty! And I wasn’t driving!

7)  And I loved sitting around the tree on Christmas morning while it snowed outside while I pretended I wasn’t coming down with the flu.

8) Santa was more generous than previous years, bringing three gifts per child instead of two (I’m not big on giving Santa the spotlight). We hit a snafu when a couple days before Christmas, the little one brought home a letter from Santa saying that he was “working hard to get her the American Girl doll” she asked for. UMMM, heads up, people, please!

The sweet eighth grade buddies who crafted the letter were obviously not thinking about the poor moms and dads while writing the letter. I did request that next year they keep the letter general, as not to cause panic attacks or crying on Christmas morning for next year’s first grade class.

I actually thought about getting said doll, but I don’t usually spend that much, plus….to get it to the house on time I’d have to pay a lot more than regular price, which I wasn’t willing to do on principle. ANYway, my girlfriend helped me out big time by crawling around her attic to find me not one, but two (for both girls) American Girl dolls, complete with accessories, that her now college-age girls had played with.

Such a great save and the girls were thrilled! Sam, not so much.

9) The girls also got a handful of board games, which they asked for. Dominoes, which they have never played before and is such a great game. And of course fun to play with outside of an actual game. They did a lot of stacking and knocking down.

I wasn’t sure if they were ready for Monopoly, but so far so good. The last couple of days, they have played it for HOURS (without fighting!), which not only makes me so happy because it gives me time to do absolutely nothing  chores and cleaning and organizing, but because it was my favorite game as a kid. Although backgammon was a close second (and sometimes first) for a while.

10) I feel like I am one of the last people to read “A Man Called Ove,” which I started reading this month. I didn’t realize there was also a movie until I Googled it to get the book cover. The actor in the movie looks closer to 69 than the character’s 59, but he has that perfect curmudgeon look.

I’m enjoying the book – it is well-written and funny at times and sad at times and all the things that the back cover promises it will be. However, I find it just a tad too realistically depressing. As soon as I’m done with it, I plan to plunge back into the fantasy world with the second book of the “Darker Shade of Magic” series.

11)  Although both of us were still run down from being sick, my husband and I were able to buck up and ring in the New Year with friends at The Dearborn Inn. I even bought a fancy new dress for the occasion to reward myself for all my freelance work I’ve done over the last few months AND even despite not working out for weeks, it still fit perfectly, so hallelujah!

12) Speaking of not working out, I’m really not looking forward to getting back on that bandwagon again. My body is still tired and congested and once you’ve stopped it’s so dang hard to get back on that horse. BUT. I made a pie for Christmas and a cheesecake last week and plan to make scones this afternoon so…..Here. We. Go.

I always make New Year’s Resolutions, but haven’t gotten around to any for 2018 yet. Make more pie, exercise more, buy more plants, eat more plants, work at Detroit Abloom more, something along those lines.

It is full speed ahead tomorrow at work as I gear up for our May auction. Gotta hit that ground running. Waaaaaaah!!!

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!!

 

 

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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 September List – 2017

Fall weather has finally kicked in, after a four-day heatwave with temps in the high 80s. I loved it. What I usually do to get these lists started is look at the photos I’ve taken for the month. Basically this month I’ve taken photos of flowers, which I’ve already shared with you. Soooo….I’m fresh out of ideas. This should be interesting.

1)  I told you about my new camera, but let’s go into detail. It’s a Sony a6000 with an E 50mm/1.8 oss lens, whatever that means. I trusted my friend’s photographer friend’s recommendation and just went with it. At first, it was very frustrating, not knowing all of the hundreds of different options. And I still don’t know them, but I’ve figured out how to at least take a decent photo with some tweaking of shutter speeds and aperture and all of that.

2)  I also bought the Adobe Elements photo editing program that I’ve been playing around with. It’s definitely more intuitive than Photoshop, but is going to take some figuring out, but I am hopeful.

3)  My dahlia garden is in full bloom, having loved the burst of sunshine we got last week. The best light is early evening, which is when this photo was taken.

4)  One of my last great summer homemade meals was this fettucine dish with peas, spinach, parmesan cheese and cream. The only thing that would have made it better is more cream and bacon.

5)  So now I am in charge of my work’s Instagram account. So I feel like I’m constantly taking and editing photos, which is great but also not great, because it leaves me with less time to take the photos I want to take. Thankfully, the other staff and teachers take loads of photos, so I need to rely on them more for images and just edit them.

6)  Over the summer I made some tweaks to my office, since I was going to be spending a lot more time there due to my increased hours. I took out two of the three desks and replaced one with a standing table. I keep forgetting to take an “After” photo, but here’s the before.

I did a LOT of spraying and wiping and vacuuming, you’d think there was a homeless person was living behind that desk. I managed to get some of the dust out, but since it’s an old building, some of it just will not budge.

7)  I still have a few vegetables in my little raised bed in our backyard. The chard is still looking good and there’s a little bit of kale. And a few carrots are hanging around, but no one cares to pick them because we all know they are super small and somewhat bitter, although very carrot-y tasting.

8)  I planted some of the nasturtium seeds from Shirley’s visitation. One in my stone bunny planter and the others near my vegetables. I’ve never planted them before and they grew easily, even with my neglected care.

9)  I replanted the hydrangea Shirley gifted me and I was SO nervous that it wouldn’t take well to its new and shadier surroundings. But I remember her telling me that one of the ways to learn about plants is to just try it. And if they die, then you try again, so I knew it wouldn’t upset her if moving it turned out to be a mistake.

It dropped a lot of leaves in the first month and for a while I thought I was going go lose the plant, and then in the last month or so, it decided to live, and even blossom. It still looks sparse, and this photo was taken when it was really cold outside, so the leaves are tight and look shriveled, but I’m hoping next year it will come back strong.

10)  My girlfriend hosted her annual mom’s back to school night, complete with champagne, donuts, craft cocktails and other fancy treats. I loved summer so much, but there is a giddy feeling that comes over me when the kids go back to school. Not as giddy as in past years, because this year it also means me heading into work vs. staying in my pjs and working from home, but exciting nonetheless.

11)  Our youngest turned six this month. It was the first birthday where I didn’t make the cake or cupcakes. I didn’t feel in the least bit bad about buying a store-bought cake, but I did sort of like the bragging rights of always making my kids’ cakes. Ah well. Local restaurant Marais did a really nice job on the two cakes (couldn’t decide between coconut and chocolate, so of course had to get both). They were a pretty penny, but so much tastier than another bakery would have done.

12) I can’t believe I made it to number 12! Just finished my third Tana French book, Broken Harbor. It was sooooo good. The ending got a little drawn out, but since the rest of the book was so great, I’m only taking off a half star for that. If you love crime fiction, you must give her a try.

I will close by saying that being a working mom with three jobs (I’m not even kidding, I am still doing payroll for my husband, freelance writing on my day off and on the weekends, and working for the school) is completely nuts. Nevermind that we don’t have a cleaning lady like everyone else in town so add that to the list of thing to do on my “off” hours, which is so dumb b/c I’m never off the clock, really.

However, I remain insanely grateful, even guilty, for being able to do all these great things like buy cakes and drink champagne and work in an office with million-dollar views and complain about cleaning my five bathrooms in my beautiful house that is still standing. Have been thinking a lot about all the tragedy around the world, and it’s even making its way into my dreams. Sending good wishes to all of you this crisp fall day. Happy October!

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The August List – 2017

I feel like I say this every month, but this has been the busiest month of the year by far.

Not counting the awesome vacation we took to upstate New York, which I failed to post about save for one photo last month. sigh I do hope to post a New York list, but in case I don’t get around to it, know that it was amazing. We swam, we read, we played, we gathered, we had pie on my grandmother’s plates. What could be better.

But I press on. I must not fail “The List,” even if it is fast and furiously put together.

1)  This photo pretty much sums up my August. It’s blurry because top secret holiday catalog information, but welcome to my world. Coffee. Eating meals as I stand and type. And papers everywhere. Apropo because that’s how my brain feels.

After landing a couple of freelance writing gigs, I was asked to take on more responsibility and hours at my job at the school. GAH. I am not complaining. I am grateful. So grateful. BUT. Momma needs a cocktail.

2)  Speaking of cocktails, my friend Renee, cocktail maker extraordinaire, whipped up a version of the to die for concoction we enjoyed at Detroit City Distillery. It consisted of a mixture of mango habanero and lavender simple syrups and couple other secret ingredients and it was soooooo good.

And aren’t we so healthy with our sliced veggies, but this is before I asked her to please go get the Chex Mix already.

3)  We had peaches at The Garden! Last year we were only able to enjoy a handful, as many succumbed to disease or an animal of some sort. This season we had a whole bunch and I made peach cobbler with blueberries. Happy happy.

4)  There was a meet and greet on Belle Isle for the Detroit women who participated in the FEMALE photo project. I’m so very glad I went, as I get so nervous about these things. But it was just lovely.

I think I was the oldest one there which…not that it matters really, but I’m usually NOT the oldest person there, so I took note, but anyway I loved being surrounded by all the positive energy. We’re going to try and make it a monthly or bi-monthly thing. I’m in.

FEMALE photographer and meeting organizer Kacy brought a bunch of rose (too lazy to make accent over the E) single serves she found at Trader Joe’s and guess what? They were pretty stinking great! And I love the can’s shape.

5)  We viewed the eclipse the old fashioned way (thanks to my husband, otherwise we would’ve had nothing) and it was actually pretty cool and very fun.

Noticed all the trippy shadows, but it didn’t cross my mind  to take a photo. I’m so bummed about that, but those make the best memories, right?, where you are just in the moment.

6)  I love all the murals at Eastern Market, especially in early evening when the shops have closed and the sun is going down. I keep meaning go down there one day for the sole purpose of taking photos, but it hasn’t happened.

I did made a quick pit stop at Detroit City Distillery after boxing one night (because now that I am a cocktail snob, I need to only drink very expensive vodka) and got a couple pics.

7)  Our Rose of Sharon plant exploded with blossoms this month, as it always does in late summer. The only way to enjoy it is out my daughter’s bedroom window or by walking to the side of the garage. I could cut off some branches to bring them inside, but they don’t last long in a vase. Beauties.

8)  My dahlias from Detroit Abloom have begun to open and they are gorgeous. I wasn’t sure how they would fare in the backyard because we don’t get much sun, (and admittedly some plants will not produce flowers), but I am pleasantly surprised at how well they are doing.

Also admittedly, I don’t love orange flowers (I’m sorry, nature! I’m working on it!), and a few of the dahlias I have are orange (many of the tubers I planted were marked “unknown” variety, long story).

And yes, they are pretty, too, in their own right, and to spite me they look extra pretty in this photo, but the Cafe au Laits are just magnificent. Wait until you see the latest one (which I picked yesterday, which was technically September, so it doesn’t belong here).

9)  The beekeeper who takes care of the hives at The Garden Detroit and Detroit Abloom held a fundraiser this month. It was at the Detroit City Distillery warehouse (can’t seem to get away from that place), which is housed in the old Stroh Ice Cream building. Which by the way if you haven’t read “Beer Money” it’s a really interesting read.

It was very loud, so it was hard to hear Brian’s speech, but the parts I did hear were fascinating. Bees are amazing. Please support them in any way you can!

10) I forgot to bring my book one day to the Yacht Club. Luckily, my 3rd grader brought hers and it was not a Rainbow Fairy or Geronimo Stilton, but this one about a boy who rents a room at a house where miniature dragons come to life. I only got a few chapters in (girls still not great swimmers, so I have to keep an eye out) and now the book has been returned to the library, but I do hope to finish it some day, it had potential.

11)  I finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” this week and I highly recommend. Take a little while to get into if you don’t know your Russian political history, but it was intelligent and wonderfully written and the characters are deep and fleshed out. Story line is interesting as well. I wondered how such a long book could be based in one very centralized location, but the author tackles that issue with ease. Bravo.

12)  Woo-hoo! I did it! Number 12. On a more somber note, my heart is with Houston and the surrounding areas and states affected by Harvey. Our girls have been so fortunate, so it is difficult to explain certain things, but we talked about it quite a bit and at my suggestion they made cards for some of the families.

If you have not yet donated, please consider it. There are many local organizations who will make sure your money 100% goes to helping Harvey victims specifically. One being www.legacycollective.org (a sorority sister’s organization).

Over and out, August! Sorry you got the shaft. It’s not you, it’s me. Happy September! Back to school yeesssssss!

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The July List – 2017

It’s August tomorrow – whaaaat!? First of all, I am writing this while on vacation in upstate New York, although you would hardly know it was a vacation because I have been working the entire time, but that’s neither here nor there. What I was starting to say is that I’m sitting here after having spent a restless nights’ sleep, a morning berry picking (how many squats did I do looking for those darn raspberries?), an afternoon in the sun and now I’m sipping Prosecco (recommended by the woman at the local liquor shop), which is surprisingly “not too sweet” as I had requested.

Current view.

SO. Please excuse any typos or ramblings or anything that plain just doesn’t make sense because I am running on empty and also relaxed, if one can be both at the same time.

1)  July went by crazy fast. I wouldn’t even know what happened if I didn’t have photos to look at. Fourth of July weekend was really exciting for us this year because it was the first year our littlest was able to stay awake long enough to see the fireworks show. We walked down Lake Shore Boulevard and found a nice spot. I sipped on my homemade craft cocktail, while the girls chased fireflies.

2)  We spent the 4th with family by the pool (not ours). The hammock is always a big hit, although not with me. I’m not a big hammock lover, although I do like the idea of it, but whenever I get in it, I find it uncomfortable and not soothing.

3)  My little vegetable garden that is somewhat neglected did well by way of lettuce, kale and sweet peas (although something ate the bottom of the plant in the second row so they all died. Weird).

My green onions were better than last year, but still very scraggly, and the carrots actually look decent, but we pulled one up and it was so small. Can still eat the greens, though.

4)  The onions at The Garden Detroit, however, are gorgeous. We planted several varieties and they are all delicious.

And I just cannot get enough of our curly kale. My favorite thing is to eat it raw with some cheese (any kind will do, but feta or goat cheese are my favorite kale combos) homemade super-tangy vinaigrette.

5)  The fam stopped at Mike’s on the Water one Saturday afternoon for lunch. I’d been there before, but it has been a couple years. It was packed, so the wait was long. Thankfully there was good people-watching, so I was able to amuse myself. It’s not a place I’d go for the food, but definitely a spot I’d go back to for a casual drink by the water.

6)  Speaking of water, I’ve spent a good chunk of time at the Yacht Club pool, due to swimming lessons (for the girls) and sometimes just to hang out and enjoy the weather.

One Sunday afternoon, I was able to get some significant reading done, while my husband was with the girls in the water. I haven’t been able to really read by the pool in years, so it was amazing. I’m still in a suspense phase, so I was reading “The Widow” by Fiona Barton. I enjoyed it. Good writing, interesting characters and not too creepy.

7)   My book group has taken somewhat of a summer hiatus from committed reading, but we are still getting together once a month, which has been nice. There is always food and wine. Because can you have a book group without food and wine? If you can, I want no part in it.

8) I started doing freelance writing for my first local client (woo-hoo!) Ahee Jewelers, a local shop that has been family run for 70 years. I’m always happy to stop by because it is a beautiful space, not to mention the refreshments table. And no I don’t always take a cookie, but sometimes I do.

9)  On a particularly stressful day, I was at The Garden Detroit headquarters (our Directors’ home) and the flower farm gals let me partake in their succulent jewelry-making. Oh my gosh. You guys, it is just so unique and pretty and so wow. This is the one I made using both dried flowers and tiny succulents. How can your stress level not go down after making something like this, right?

10)  I made my first official Detroit Abloom bouquet this month. The process was at first intimidating, but ultimately fun, as I slowly got the hang of it. Working with flowers is so balancing, I feel.

11)  I won’t even go into my three haircuts I had this month. One of which I did myself because I wanted edgy and got soccer mom and I really, really didn’t want soccer mom, so I had to do edgy myself. I have to say that on my way to get my DIY haircut evened out, I got a compliment from a clerk at Trader Joes (good ole TJs). She loooved my hair. So there.

And no, that’s not me in the photo clearly, but I figured you’d much rather see a picture of my daughter dancing as the sun goes down.

12)  I went to the Detroit City Distillery for the first time as part of a girls’ night out. It had a good vibe and the drinks were delicious. Our bartender was great and made me a drink based on what I told her I liked. It was perfect.

That’s a wrap. Enjoy your August!

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The Flowers of Detroit Abloom

If you’re new to the blog, I work with a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization called The Garden Detroit. Last year we had a beautiful garden on several vacant lots, and a seasonal CSA vegetable program. This year we have less manpower and our wooden arbor fell during a winter storm, which really set us back in terms of being able to grow vegetables for a bunch of people.

Harvesting Stock

Because our flower farm project, Detroit Abloom gained a lot of popularity in its first year, coupled with the fact that the lots that project is housed in are actually owned by our organization (no fear of the city taking the land away), we decided to concentrate on that project this season.

One of the CSA bouquets.

Detroit Abloom has CSA bouquet shares, special events, farmers markets and also sells their bouquets at The Farmer’s Hand in Corktown. I believe we still have a couple slots left on our second CSA season, so go to www.detroitabloom.com for more information and to sign up if you live in the area!

Julia watering Larkspur and other flowers in the hoop house.

We held a fundraiser last winter and made just enough to install our new hoop house, which the plants are thriving  in.

Cut flowers for CSA bouquets

It’s been amazing to work more with flowers this year. I’m learning so much about cultivation and the different names and features of the flowers from Nancy and Julia, who run the program. It’s difficult to work without stopping to take photos. I have taken hundreds already this season and here are some of my favorites.

Purple stocks – doubles and singles

Doubles, with some singles hiding in back.

Doubles.

Before this year, I didn’t even realize Stock was the name of a flower. If you told me to guess what a Stock flower looked like, I would have zero idea. The gals planted doubles and singles in the same bed (the seeds came all mixed together, if I’m remembering correctly) and it’s interesting to see the differences between the two.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the iris, but our varieties are unusual and stunning. Still not in my top ten, but I have much respect for these elegant flowers.

Sunflowers are just so….sunny and fun and happy.

While sweet peas are wispy and wild and delicate.

Nutmeg the cat roams the hoop house during the day, often taking a rest in the Larkspur.

Chantilly snaps are also lovely, and abundant at our Manistique property.

We’re only a few weeks into our first season and I’ve already seen so much beauty. Can’t wait to see what unfolds over the course of the summer into early fall!

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