The August List – 2016

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August brought more summer heat, but also much-needed rain. It was another busy month, but we got to slow way down for a couple weeks when we took a road trip to upstate New York, where my Dad has a cabin at the tip of the Adirondacks and where many of his/my relatives still live.

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1)  We started a new rewards system for the girls this summer (got idea from a husband’s cousin). Each stick represents a number of plus or minus points, which translates to the same number of minutes, which they can use at the end of the week for app time (kid apps installed on my iphone). The system sort of tapered off during our trip, but we will amp it up again when school starts. It seems to work well.

Note: the fact that we are so strict with our girls regarding screen time is ironic, as my husband and I are tv and phone addicts. But if I recall, Steve Jobs was the same with his kids, so there.

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2)  This is my Instagram suggested viewing. Chickens eating. Lordie.

When I’m on as The Garden Detroit, I try to engage with other users, mainly farmers, who are often animal-lovers and I cannot stop “liking” videos of baby animals (mainly bunnies. or goats.) eating! They pop up with tags like “carrot” or “lettuce” or “eatyourgreens.” So silly.

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3)  Two days before our NY road trip, we went as a family to a Tigers game, our first of the season. It was a picture-perfect day with a beautiful view from our seats.

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4)  My husband and I were able to sneak away one evening for some adult time while we were in New York. We drove to nearby Lowville, to a craft brewery and taproom called BarkEater. Very cozy spot with a great staff (you know you’re in a small town when the server asks what brings you to the area and then “yes of course I know your dad”).

We started out with their tasting flight. I found most of them to be quite good, but ordered a glass of wine, as is my preference (they offer wines from local winery Tug Hill Vineyards), but I should have stuck to the beer. Wine varieties they carried were too sweet.

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5)  It was hot in New York, as it has been in Michigan all summer. On one particularly hot and muggy day, I drove the girls to Mercer’s Dairy for ice cream cones. I hadn’t been there before, but it was a very stressful drive through winding country backroads for 20 minutes until we finally reached the highway an easy 30-minute drive to Boonville.

On the way there, the skies turned heavy and dark, so I quickly ushered the girls inside once we pulled up to the shop. Mercer’s is famous for its wine ice cream, which I totally poo-pooed until I tried it. Surprisingly refreshing and yummy, though I can only speak for the strawberry champagne.

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As soon as we got our scoops, it started pouring rain. But I had to get a photo of a cone with the sign, so I grabbed my daughter’s mint chocolate chip (my scoop was in a cup) and ran outside. I got drenched (and left my daughter a little perplexed “Hey! Mom!”) but I got the shot.

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6) While visiting cousins on Lake Ontario, we (me, cousin Melanie, her daughter, and her new baby girl) took a walk as part of the baby’s naptime routine. It was nice to see all the pretty lake homes and we passed an old barn along the way and one quirky, multi-colored home pictured above (it’s vacant – surprise).

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7)  We also passed this tree, which I was curious about, as I didn’t recognize the fruit/seeds. My cousins told me it was a chestnut tree – who knew!? I’d never seen one before that I can recall. I didn’t realize they had spiky outer shells. Pretty cool.

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8)  While visiting Aunt Betty at Murrock Farms, I asked her about a photo in her living room. It was my grandmother Lucy (and Aunt Betty’s mom). She also showed me two photos of my grandfather Harrison Stackel, who died before I was born. She said they were chauffeur’s license photos (which back then I believe were like driver’s licenses). Such a contrast. As were their personalities, so I hear (I can only vouch for my grandmother, who I dearly loved).

Aunt Betty, by the way, is as amazing as ever at 92. She just finished reading Hillary’s America (no judgement!) and made biscuits that morning, which we ate for snack after a tour of the farm, which she accompanied us on.

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9)  This teepee has been in our seven-year-old’s room, but I set it up outside one day in hopes of giving the girls a new interest in it. When I was a kid, my sister and I looooved small, private spaces and would have been beside ourselves to play in a tee-pee, so I’m disappointed they don’t use it all that much.

I’m thinking it may get more use once both girls can read (and both write complete sentences without help). Not giving up quite yet.

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10)  I took the girls to Detroit’s Avalon Bakery earlier this month. We got sandwiches and sat outside for lunch. The sandwiches were so-so (I am also not a big sandwich person) but the bread there is really delicious and the treats were also very good.

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11)  While on vacation, I missed the Garden’s huge tomato boom. I was lucky to get some before and after my trip, although not in the quantities I would have gotten had I been here. Still, I was able to roast enough for a large jar, have made marinara sauce twice, bruschetta countless times, BLTs and chili. It’s been so awesome to have farm-fresh produce all summer! Sign up with your local CSA program next year, so worth it.

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12) I pass this mural when I come home from working at the Garden. It’s really sweet, I think and I finally stopped to take a closer look and to snap a photo.

So many great photos from our road trip, which I will share soon. The girls start school next week (Michigan is so late! I’ve been seeing back-to-school pics from friends for weeks now) and I am looking forward to that, but not to the end of summer. As the girls get older, summers seem to get more fun because we can do more, whine less and stay out longer. Michigan summer weather certainly helps (I’m often reminded of San Francisco summer weather with photos of friends wearing jackets and scarves, so I am grateful, even with our drought).

Wishes for a lovely September!

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Freighter on Lake St. Clair

IMG_2639 (1024x1024) IMG_2641 (1024x1024)IMG_2618 (768x1024) IMG_2629 (768x1024)A few weeks ago we went out on Lake St. Clair and went by a freighter named American Integrity. It was neat to see a freighter up close. They already look huge from far away. The enormity of them (and the fact that they can stay afloat!) is incredible.

Murrock Farms – The Old Barn

IMG_2570 (1024x1024)A small section of the original barn (or at least it’s been there as long as Aunt Betty has been on the farm) still stands at Murrock Farms. Most of the barn was burned in a fire in 1984/1985 (I think I was there that summer? I seem to remember it, not just from stories).

IMG_2583 (1024x1024)IMG_2483 (768x1024)My cousin Darryl wants it to come down, but Aunt Betty likes it because it protects her raspberry bushes and peonies from the elements.

IMG_2489 (768x1024) IMG_2544 (1024x1024)For sure it is run down (the beadboard, though!) and doesn’t serve any other purpose but to store equipment and random odds and ends.

It also houses a chicken coop, which I forgot to take a photo of (urrrr!!). Aunt Betty told us there used to be more, but she suspects the weasels got the rest of them. The remaining chicken is a fiesty girl – she pecked the dog when it got too close.

IMG_2488 (925x1024)I love that it’s original to the property and of course it reminds me of my childhood and of my aunt and uncle, so I’m with Aunt Betty on this one. Plus, the raspberry bushes have been there as long as I can remember, so if anything were to happen to them, it would be super sad.

IMG_2529 (1024x1024) IMG_2490 (768x1024)I was drawn to the old bottles in the barn. Darryl let me take home several, but Aunt Betty made me put one back that she said she didn’t yet have in her collection.

IMG_2549Later she showed me the collection, which she keeps in the kitchen on display. It includes one milk bottle with the farm’s old logo on it. It’s quintessential dairy farm, I think. So retro, so perfect. She said someone saw the bottle at a sale (garage sale, estate sale) and brought it to her. Wish they were still using the same today.

On The Road

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Ohio / I-80

We just got back from our vacation in upstate New York. The road trip was a long 11 hours (I did zero driving, thanks to my husband), but the scenery was really pretty most of the time, which helped a lot.

We went through Ohio, passing Toledo and Cleveland, and a touch of Pennsylvania before hitting New York.

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IMG_1853We hit a patch of heavy rain on I-90.

IMG_1847Once we passed Syracuse, it was picture perfect. Blue skies, fluffy clouds, farmhouses, barns. I hadn’t been here for eight years and it felt good to be back.

The Thaw – In Photos

IMG_0160And just like that, the snow is gone. It’s still freezing (literally. It’s 21 degrees right now), but there are signs that spring is on the way – birds chirping (a sound I didn’t realize was missing until I started hearing it a couple weeks ago), squirrels digging up the millions of acorns they hid in our yard last fall (annoying!) and even buds on the trees. Nature is ready for sunshine and although I did love the snow, so am I.

More photos of the thaw….

Sam and I walked along the lake last week to look at the icy landscape for the last time…

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Another beautiful sunrise…

IMG_0088 (1001x1024)I was finally able to go for a run without worrying about slipping on a patch of black ice!

IMG_0083 IMG_0084Lake St. Clair, just a few days after my walk with Sam…

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My Winter in Pictures

IMG_9641I’m loving winter. It’s been a mild one so far, with some very cold days and a few inches of snow, but no extremes. My husband and I were just saying yesterday how we wished the Northeast blizzard were here instead of there.

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sunriseThe winter sunrise is gorgeous. The last few weeks the sun has been coming up around 8 o’clock and we can see it from our street. It’s so beautiful reflecting on the snow and the wet concrete. Golden, pink, orange. Soooo pretty and of course photos aren’t nearly as good as the real thing.

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IMG_9582I love watching the snow fall. And the way everything looks before snowplows or footprints ruin its newness.

IMG_9694 IMG_9685 IMG_9466 IMG_9670 (1024x768)Snow and wintry skies add mystery and intrigue to buildings.

IMG_9619 (1024x768) IMG_9417 (1024x1024) yachtclubAnd the lake is constantly changing.

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Ask me again in March, whether I’m sick of the cold yet. I do hate that I can’t run as often (sure, there are folks who do, but I don’t gear up unless it’s warmer than 29 degrees). But I’m trying hard to enjoy what’s in front of me at this moment. Right now. So often I’ve not lived in the moment with heavy regrets later on. So I embrace you, winter. All of your harshness and vulnerability. I see you. And you are beautiful.