Small Town USA – Lowville, New York

IMG_2566 (1024x1024)The closest town to Chase Lake (see, I’m writing it like the locals now) is Lowville. Wikipedia says that it has about 5000 residents. It has the usual – a few restaurants, movie theater, some shops, post office and library within a couple blocks of each other.

IMG_1917 (1024x1024)IMG_1915 (1024x1024)IMG_2301The restaurants were what one might expect. For example, I ordered an “authentic Caesar salad” and got romaine lettuce, sliced onions and Wish-Bone Italian dressing on top (I used the stuff in college. I know the taste).

The girls and I did visit a nice cafe called Z Cafe, that was charming and welcoming. The coffee was surprisingly decent and the best thing I can say about the scones and muffin is that they were edible. BUT…we weren’t in town for the food.

IMG_2345 (768x1024) IMG_2388 (1024x1024) (1024x1024) IMG_2565 (1024x1024)I did love that the area is not a destination point. Which is to say that if you don’t have a reason to be there, you’d never go there. It’s not a tourist spot. The girls and I walked around town one day and we all enjoyed the quaint buildings and farmhouse-style homes. We took pictures in old doorways and played in gravel lots.

IMG_2643When heading back to my Dad’s place, I took a wrong turn and found this gem. A true treehouse. She’s a beauty.

I don’t think I can describe myself as a wanderer. I like home (whatever that is, nowadays) and all of its comforts. But I do enjoy exploring new places and being an observer. Figuring out what makes a place tick.

There’s something about a small town that’s so vulnerable. And I love that. I appreciate that. And there’s also an element of take it or leave it. No apologies. I wish I were more like that…. This is me. I’ve got nothing to prove. You want a Caesar? Here’s some Wish-Bone Italian. It’s so bad, but it’s also so awesome. Rock on, Lowville. See you next time.

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The July List – 2015

IMG_1491 (1024x1024)1)  July was a quintessential summer month. The 4th was spent at my husband’s Uncle’s house, with family, swimming and hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. If I had been more ambitious, I could have made the day even more ideal with a homemade apple pie. But I brought store-bought guacamole instead because sometimes momma just can’t.

IMG_1511 (1024x968)2)  Speaking of holidays, there’s one house along Lakeshore Drive that goes all out in the decorating department. Christmas, is of course the big one, but the 4th of July display was definitely impressive (for lack of a better word). The girls call it “the silly house” or sometimes “the crazy house. Indeed.

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Sweet pea ricotta and warm cabbage salad. Mmmmm!!

IMG_1430 (1024x1024)3)  I’ve been dying to go to Chartreuse,  a new restaurant near the Detroit Institute of Arts, since it opened in late spring. My husband and I made it down a few weeks ago and we were not disappointed. It was on par with our favorite San Francisco restaurants, which speaks volumes, if you know San Francisco. Or me.

From appetizers to desserts, everything was fresh and flavorful and the portion sizes were not too small or too big, something that a lot of places don’t get right. Can’t wait to go back.

IMG_1738 (768x1024)4)  Our Rose of Sharon is in bloom! It has beautiful lavender flowers (which was a fun surprise – we didn’t know what color they were since we moved in after they had bloomed last year) and is doing well considering its shady location.

However, since it is in a shady spot, it has grown SO tall in its attempts to get sun. So the only way to really see the flowers is from one of the bedrooms upstairs or by standing in the driveway. Might need to remedy that at some point. How, I’m not sure yet.

IMG_1394 (935x1024) IMG_1413 (768x1024)5)  Because I’m a gardener now (HA-ha) and because Shirley told me to, I went to the annual (24th) Grosse Pointe Garden Tour. There were six gardens on the tour and I made it to five. My Dad’s and his wife Lyn were visiting at the time, so she and the girls came along on Friday for three and I went solo the following morning in a nasty rainstorm to see two more (I’m so hardcore).

It was nice to see different aesthetics,which ranged from simple to eclectic, manicured to wild. Like going to a museum, it was inspiring to see these gardens and they gave me some ideas as to how I might want ours to look someday.

IMG_1560 (1024x1024)6)  At the Garden Tour shop, Lyn bought us this cool strawberry plant (potted by Shirley – she’d put together dozens of potted plants for the Tour, including a couple Crocs as planters, which were very cute).

We’ve gotten a few strawberries, but I have to fight the squirrels and birds for them. I ran out of the house one day, shaking my finger and yelling at a little black squirrel who had just scampered up the maple tree with a strawberry. He tsk-tsked back at me with his beady eyes. The struggle is real.

IMG_1627 (1022x1024)7)  I wrote a letter to the Board at the Yacht Club, asking (begging?) them to please plan for a recycling program. The containers you see above (and no, I do not always eat like this. Usually I also get a side of onion rings and finish the little ones chicken tenders.)… that’s what food is served in when you eat outside (not just take-out. And the Styrofoam! I can barely stand to look at it).

Hundreds of these containers get thrown in the trash daily during warm-weather months. The way I see it (thank you, San Francisco) not recycling is pretty much littering. I have yet to hear back.

IMG_1691 (1024x1024) IMG_1708 (1024x1024)8)  My girlfriend Sara from SF (now living in Ireland) came for a quick visit! I took her to Sister Pie, a favorite spot. Although not a favorite because of the pie.

I know, I know! You love the pie. I don’t love the pie. I’ve tried to love the pie. What can I say. Either I’m wrong (which doesn’t seem possible because I feel like I know pie?) or my pie taste buds are out of whack. Either way, I do love the cookies and this time I tried a coconut lemon, thyme mint, ginger and shortbread. All yum.

IMG_1727 (1024x1024)9)  There are tiny little weeds like this one all over our yard (not bigger than an inch or two). I usually give a pull and that’s the end of it. Sometimes I need the help of a shovel. One day, I decided to figure out where this weed was coming from exactly – how far its roots went and all that. After 30 minutes of ripping up a big section of the garden, I had a bucket full of roots and still did not get it all. Maddening.

10)  Most valuable gardening lesson I have learned thus far: when pulling a particularly stubborn weed, keep your eyes and mouth closed. Number of times I have regretted not following my own advice: too many to count.

IMG_1431 (1024x1024)11)  In the middle of a blah part of Detroit (gas stations, fast food restaurants, freeway on-ramps) near the Grosse Pointe City border, lies this pretty little farmhouse. I posted the pic to my Instagram account and people recognized it immediately. It definitely grabs your attention when you pass by. I’ve always wanted to snap a picture of it and got a chance one evening during a break in the rain. I wonder what its story is.

IMG_1655 (1024x1024)12)  I got out on the water for the first time last week on a friend’s boat. It was divine. Lake St. Clair is a beauty. I’ve said this before, but one of our criteria for moving was that we needed to be close to the ocean or other large body of water. In Hawaii, I was 20 minutes away from the beach. In California, five. Here, half a block. If we follow the natural progression of things, we will need to retire on a lake house. Not a bad prospect.

We have another month of summer, but I’m already seeing oak leaves on our lawn from our neighbor’s tree (nooooo!). We leave for a road trip to upstate New York next week, so the blog may be a little quiet in early August. I’m sure I will have a lot to share about our adventures.

The June List – 2015

IMG_1365How is it already July? Summer is flying by, as it should. We’ve had many nice days and many rainy days, including a wild lightning storm that went on for hours (the lightning woke me, not the thunder).

maplebranch (769x954)1) One recent wind storm blew several branches onto our backyard, including this huge section of a maple tree (resting at the base of our birch tree).

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IMG_1073IMG_1071 (768x1024)2)  We’d been wanting to try Rose’s Fine Foods, a quirky diner in Detroit featuring locally sourced food, for quite some time and finally went for breakfast. I had pancakes, which were too heavy, and the Crybaby donut (a house specialty) of the day (blueberry), which was fantastic.

I would definitely go back for breakfast (but not for the pancakes), although the lunch menu looked more exciting, with items like rainbow trout and ground lamb tacos.

IMG_1194 (1024x1024)3) Our oldest graduated from Kindergarten with a formal ceremony and punch on the lawn and everything. She wore Lilly Pulitzer, which is pretty much a requirement here in Grosse Pointe.

4)  Speaking of formal, everything in Grosse Pointe (dinners, gatherings) is soooooo formal. In San Francisco, if I asked myself, “am I under-dressed?” the answer would always be No. Here, the question is, “am I over-dressed?” and the answer is always No.

On one hand, I find this amusing (hilarious, even). On the other hand, I kind of love it. I’m a girlie girl. I like dressing up. And it’s nice when other people make the effort, too (can I get an amen?). Sure, I wear cutoffs and tank tops (which I bet I do more than anyone else here) but I also like that at any given time, if I want to dress up, I can. Without anyone asking me if I just came from a baby shower.

IMG_1082 (931x1024)IMG_1084 (768x1024)IMG_1091 (1024x889)5)  Went to the first Tuesday Market of the year at Eastern Market with my mother-in-law and our littlest. I picked up the yummiest cheeses – aged gruyere, white cheddar and imported parmesan (which was the most expensive at $12.90 a pound and of course the only cheese the girls will eat now).

We had lunch at Supino Pizzeria. The thin-crust pizza was delicious and my favorite part was the shaved sausage. Genius. I usually don’t like sausage on my pizza because I hate the chunks. Problem solved with the shaved technique. Why didn’t I think  of that?!?

IMG_1249 (1024x1012) I also bought small cilantro and parsley plants at Eastern Market for I think one or two dollars each? And re-potted them in larger pots (vs the ground, thinking I might want to bring them inside at some point for decoration. The mint I bought at a local nursery. All the herbs seem to be doing well with very little care. Such a change from San Francisco, where I tried so hard to keep herbs alive with never any luck.

IMG_1119 (768x1024)IMG_1124 (768x1024)IMG_11336)  The local shoe shop wasn’t able to fix a broken zipper on my beloved Frye boots (the guy said he couldn’t fix it and if I found a place that did fix it, it would cost more than the boots were worth). The guy at Tip Top Shoe Repair in downtown Detroit didn’t blink at the broken zipper and fixed it for under $20.00.

When I went back to pick up my boots, I noticed an urban garden (I later looked up the name – Lafayette Greens) was right next door to the shop. I took a little detour and walked through it.  The veggies looked amazing – so healthy! – and the quirky sculptures were fun.

beds7)  I gave our four-year-old’s room a summer makeover by exchanging the fluffy pink comforters with Hawaiian quilts made by a) my grandma (the one on the left. I used it as a kid) and b) the little old lady who lives next door to my Hawaii family (she made one for both me and my sister, just because).

fairygarden8) Speaking of next door neighbors, on Father’s Day the girls went next door to help our neighbor set up her fairy garden. They were beyond excited. Super duper cute.

fishfly IMG_1256 (1024x1010)9) The fishflies are here. Every summer they come for a couple weeks. It’s a lake thing. I just read that a female fishfly lays up to 4000 eggs. They stick to everything (as you can see) and smell like fish (surprise).

They live for only about a day, so, for instance, if a few hundred of them happen to land on one of the trees in your backyard and then die, the next day you may be walking under the tree and a slight wind will blow, causing all those fishfly carcasses to rain down on you. Pretty darn gross.

IMG_1106 (1024x768)10)  We amped up the backyard with a new teak dining set from Thos Baker (our summer budget has been blown. ouch). The table arrived split, so we had to wait another three weeks for a new one, and then the umbrella arrived cracked, so we had to wait another several weeks for that. But now it’s all here and we’re enjoying it.

We wavered between a dining set (husband’s idea) and lounge chairs (my idea), but ultimately went with the dining set and it has worked out great. Sometimes he’s right, what can I say.

Weber's Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling

11)  We also bought a new fancy Weber grill, another of the husband’s wants that I didn’t see the need for (at least not for this year). But guess who has been grilling several times a week and who just bought a new grilling cookbook? Yep. I think I was anti-grill because I didn’t understand it, but now that I’m figuring it out, I am loving it. Go me.

IMG_1255 (1024x1024)12)  When people find out I’m from California, the first thing they ask is how I like Michigan. They want to hear that I love it and there are many reasons why I do. I always say that I love the weather (with a reminder that Northern California weather is nothing like the rest of the state). Summers here are picture perfect, with boats on the lake and lush greenery and sounds of kids playing outside ’til the sun goes down.

So even though I still feel very much in limbo and even though I feel like living here has brought some disappointing realizations (friends stuff, music stuff, other things that are seemingly trivial but such a big deal, especially when I am tired and cranky, which I pretty much am all the time), I have never regretted the move.

So…I’m on the right path. I just need to keep walking it. Sometimes in cutoffs and flipflops, and sometimes in Lilly Pulitzer and heels.

The May List – 2015

IMG_0758 (994x1024)1)  May is unmistakably a celebratory month here in Grosse Pointe. The sound of lawnmowers is in the air once again and people rush out to buy colorful flowers to fill their many pots that were covered with snow for so many months. Tulips, pansies, daffodils and petunias were plentiful and trees were in full bloom.

After being here a full year, I still can’t decide whether Spring or Fall is my favorite season. They both have so much to teach us about life and living.

IMG_0712 IMG_0775 (935x1024)2)  We moved into our new house in the Fall, so we didn’t realize how many flowering trees and plants we had on the property ’til now. It was so fun to walk in the backyard and see a burst of color (we have a magnolia tree!) or new plant (so many ferns!) rising up from the ground.

Besides the magnolia, one of my favorite discoveries was the old lilac tree. I knew the tree was there, of course, but none of us knew what kind of tree it was until it started flowering. For a couple weeks we were treated to its delicate purple blooms. Swoon.

IMG_0459 (982x1024) 3) We attended our kids’ school auction this month. These earrings were the raffle prize (did you see the small print? – $11,000). To put things in perspective, at our last school the raffle prize was tickets to a Giants game. Live auction items at this event included a boat cruise down the Amazon and Thanksgiving in Paris. Toto, we are not in Kansas (aka our little preschool co-op) anymore.

5)  Speaking of getting dressed up, remember all the chili and Bailey’s I consumed over the winter? Enter my first compression garment experience. Did it work? I’m not really sure, but it worked for my self esteem, so it was worth the $30.00, I’d say.

6) Speaking of spending an hour Googling “smokey eye” and trying to glue fake eyelashes on for above auction (which I ended up pulling off at the last minute)… is there something wrong with me that I want Kim Kardashian’s new selfie book?

IMG_0952 (1024x1017)7)  Number of dead baby birds seen on sidewalks: six. Number of dead baby birds in our backyard that our dog rolled around in until he, too, smelled like a dead baby bird: one.

P.S. – I actually took several photos of dead baby birds, but just couldn’t bring myself post them (or look at them). Neither can I bring myself to tell you the story of the slow death of one baby squirrel in our backyard. You’re welcome.

IMG_0684 (1024x943)8)  You know it’s spider season when you start seeing trucks like this. Being from Northern California, pesticide is a four letter word, but we’re also anti-spiders and ants. We called the guy that the former home owners used and asked him to spray for just spiders and ants. He promised us the stuff he uses is anti-pesticide and non-toxic. I was skeptical…

Me: So it kills spiders, but it’s okay for kids? and dogs?
Pest Man: Oh sure, sure, once it’s dry in about 30 minutes you can touch it, no problem.
Me:  So….what about birds and squirrels? It won’t hurt them?
Pest Man: No, no, it’s totally fine! (pause). Except if I hit one directly. (crazy laughter).

He told me to “have a good summer, honey” on his way out (this is the same guy who told my husband to “make sure the wife doesn’t wash the windows” the day he sprayed). Oh my gosh.

IMG_0761 (640x960)9)  Are you freaking kidding me, Pandora?! I’m running along Lakeshore Drive when this comes on my workout playlist. Just wow.

IMG_0995 (1024x1024)IMG_0994 (1024x1024)10)  I checked out the brand new Detroit spots Sister Pie and Parker St. Market, which are across the street from one other in Indian Village. The pie was a hair sweet for me (I don’t like too sweet), but it was good, but the shortbread cookies were delicious. The market carries local and artisan finds, mostly food products. They both reminded me of places one would see in San Francisco. I’ll definitely be back.
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11)  There’s a woman’s group called the Grosse Pointe Friends and Neighbors Club. It was founded years ago as an organization to welcome new residents to the area. Perfect. I went to a couple “luncheons” where I met mostly women in the 60+ age range (but some were closer to my age).

I’m sitting at a round table with eight women. They got to talking about the different neighborhoods in the area, saying one was edgier, one attracted young families, one was more laid back, one was stuffier and so on. Then someone says, “Lani, what street do YOU live on?” I swear, in slow motion, all heads turn towards me. Even the two ladies who were talking amongst themselves look up.

Me (smiling): No! I can’t tell you where I live or you’ll judge me!
Blink. Blink. Blink. Blinking and blank stares. A couple confused looks.
Me (said 10 times faster than normal): OkayokayIliveon123xyzStreetinGrossePointeFarms!
As you were, ladies.
#newgirlfail #Iwastryingtobefunny #storyofmylife

IMG_0596 (1024x768) (2)12) Summer break is pretty much here, which means I can look forward to answering questions like, “what shape is a monkey’s poop?” and “why does God exist?” all. day. long. (yes, actual asked questions, in case you were wondering). Wish me luck.

 

The March List – 2015

lucy.lakestclair1)  I loved winter, I really did. But it’s spring now and I’m officially over the cold (right after I posted the lovely photos of the lake thawing, it froze again, wah-wah).

2)  It has come to this: vacuuming in my underwear. Getting electrically shocked is pretty much number one on the things-I-hate list and I will do anything not to get zapped.

Case in point, my new vacuum routine:  hair in a bun, rubber flip flops (no socks), short sleeves and… no pants. I apologize to Marty the mail carrier and any of the neighbors who can see into our house (our first floor is 80% windows) and yes, even my children (“Mom. I can see your bottom.”). I see no other alternative.

Image via wikipedia.org

3)  So there’s this neighborhood pheasant. Very handsome, kinda like the guy above (I couldn’t get a photo of ours – he’s too quick). One day, our six-year-old yells to me (I was upstairs putting clothes away), “Mom! The pheasant’s outside!” Really? Cool. Then a minute later, “Mom? Why is the pheasant knocking on our door?”. What? No, sweetie, he’s not knocking on our door. “He is! Why is he doing that?!” Sweetie, he’s not…I don’t know, maybe he wants to come in. Eventually she stopped asking.

Fast forward two nights later. I hear a knock (three hard knocks) at our door. I get up, thinking it’s the UPS guy, who leaves packages on the porch and knocks before going back to his truck. I looked through the window, no package. Sit back down on the couch. Knock-knock-knock! Hmmm. I peek through the window again and still don’t see anything. Then I open the door just in time to see the pheasant running down our walkway.

Turns out, our front door has a gold metallic strip on the bottom about five inches high. Very shiny and reflective, like a mirror. Seems our little pheasant thinks one of his friends lives here!

strawberries4)  Organic strawberries are back! I’m pretty strict about not buying foods on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list (highest in pesticides) unless they are organic, so we haven’t had strawberries all winter. Seeing them in the store made me sooo happy. I knew they weren’t going to taste all that great (and I was right), but I bought three containers anyway and made strawberry shortcakes for breakfast one morning. Can’t wait to berry pick this summer.

IMG_9926 (768x1024)5) I took Sam on a very slippery walk (so icy!) to deposit a check, but the ATM machine was broken (it had been broken since the week prior). We walked behind the building to the drive-through window and I asked if I could make a deposit there, commenting on the broken ATM. “Well, it won’t be fixed until someone comes out here to fix it.” (Ummm, okay, thank you?).

When the tube came back through the chute with my receipt, there was also a dog biscuit inside. Sam was very appreciative.

Image from spotebi.com

6)  I am now proudly doing 25 push-ups a day (vs 20 last year). Clarification: 25 girl push-ups. The kind where your knees are on the floor (or in my case, where your knees are on the dog bed because ouch). I was feeling pretty good about this until I decided to research it…

One website describes the girl push-up as “a variation on the classic push-up that is often used by those who are not yet strong enough to do proper push-ups.” Oh snap! Moving on…

Bloody Mary Mix

7) I believe I’ve mentioned the delicious (and apparently, addictive) Bloody Mary mix by American Spoon. So maybe I went a little crazy and ordered 12 bottles (but I had to! for the free shipping!).

Many here swear by McClure’s, whose second ingredient is vinegar (pucker up) and if I remember correctly, whose first ingredient is water. On its own, it tastes like straight up pickle juice. Add a little vodka and the taste improves slightly, but it’s still not drinkable (the remainder of my jar went down the sink).

American Spoon’s first and second ingredients are tomatoes and tomato juice. It’s pricey (but I’m worth it, right?), so this summer I plan to try and replicate the taste in my kitchen. I’ve already bought the fresh ground horseradish. Keep ya posted.

IMG_9252 (1024x976)8) I was standing in the kitchen a few weeks ago and realized that the under-counter molding strip near the fridge was a different color white than the others. It was off-white vs. nordic white, such a slight color difference that you can’t see in the “before” photo. But of course after noticing it, I could see nothing  else. The great folks at Mutschler ordered a replacement straight away and the new piece has been put in. Easy peasy.

9) I lost my favorite glove. And then I lost the other one. :(

10) I can’t find C&H (California & Hawaii) sugar anywhere. I’ve never used anything but and I was hesitant to buy the bright yellow Domino brand (Michigan’s brand of choice, it seems) even though there was no other option. It tastes fine, but it feels so wrong. Plus, dumb slogan.

11)  Speaking of Hawaii, I used the last of my grandma’s ginger this week (my mom brought a batch over at Christmas). It was eons better than the stuff I can get here. Can one grow ginger in Michigan? I’ll have to look that up.

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12) Remember the time I bought a coconut drink from Drought? No, because I’ve been too embarrassed to speak about it until now. The story goes like this…. I was in Detroit and popped in to Willys (Shinola’s sister store, featuring American-made clothing and products). They also sell juice from Drought, a local raw juice company I’d heard so much about. The packaging was pretty and I was thirsty.

Me: I’ll take the coconut shake, please. (The ingredients, which I looked at later, were coconut water + coconut meat, so basically, a coconut).
Them: That’s one of our best sellers. People love it!
Me: Great! I love coconut.
Them: That will be FIFTEEN DOLLARS.
Me: Oh. Wow. That’s very…. okay, here you go.

Was it good? Sure. It tasted like coconut. But so does my breakfast smoothie that is made with a 1/3 of a can of $2 coconut milk. For $15, it had better taste like it was picked from the organic jungles of Thailand this morning. I get paying top dollar for a jar of freshly-pressed juice., whatever. But coconut water? I cannot deny the success of the James sisters. But I can’t help picturing them snickering with glee whenever someone purchases a bottle of their beloved coconut “shake.” High five, ladies.

scrimps!

Image via yelp.com

Bonus #13)  I might be allergic to shellfish, you guys!! Worst. Scenario. I mean EV-er. I have an allergy test next month and I’ll fill you in on all the drama in the April list.

Happy Spring!

The January List

IMG_96801)  The week my husband went out of town, it snowed. And snowed. I shoveled three times and I have to admit, I kind of enjoyed it. Don’t even try to “just you wait” me. I get that six weeks from now when it’s below 10 out and there’s a driveway piled two feet deep of dirty, heavy snow, I will hate it. Might hate it. But I don’t hate it yet. Nah-na-na-boo-boo.

2)  You know you’re getting old when your three-year-old beats you at a matching game (aka memory game) and you were actually trying to win (we’re competitive up in this house).

IMG_9368 (993x1024)3)  Is it just me, or do the freaking Christmas lights never fit back in the box? Mine always end up looking like this (and that’s one of the better ones). Why don’t I just do away with the boxes all together, you ask? Couldn’t tell you.

Speaking of Christmas lights… it’s the beginning of February, people. The baby Jesus wants to go home. Shut ‘er down.

IMG_9705 (1024x1024)4) Checked out the Detroit Auto Show with some friends. I haven’t been to a car show since junior high, when my Uncle used to take me. I love anything shiny and sparkly, so I enjoyed the whole showy-ness of the whole thing.

The driverless Mercedes car was very cool and they’re supposed to be ultra-safe (I heard an NPR segment), but….not sure I’d be able to fully relax. The concept does seem rather nice, though, no?

IMG_96845)  Our sweet, sweet boy Sammy turned nine this month. How can you not love this face?

6)  When ordering pizza in Grosse Pointe, make sure to ask if they use fresh mushrooms or canned ones. Who even uses those? I don’t think I saw a canned mushroom my entire time in San Francisco. I’d actually forgotten about their existence until I lifted the lid on my pizza box. I’m not sure which word best describes my reaction. Disgust. Horror. Shame. Ick.

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corwall7)  I took a knife skills class at Cornwall Bakery, a new spot in Grosse Pointe Park. I was the only person who came solo, so I felt out of place at the get-go.

It was their first-ever class, so they still have kinks to work out (like timing. I had to leave before the fajitas were done), but the instructor was super nice and I did learn how to hold a knife properly (although my wrist! And my long, creepy fingers. Gah). I wish I’d learned more about knives and the actual act of cutting vs. how to julienne a carrot properly, for example, but I’m glad I went.

8)  AND! Oh my gosh I am just remembering because of this photo. One of the girls brought a bottle of wine and only shared it among her little group (there were eight of us in the class, five in her group). When that went down I was tsk-ing inside my head. San Franciscans do not roll like that. You bring wine, you bring wine for everybody, capiche?

IMG_96229) I love how the lake changes every day in winter. I’ll see beautiful shards of ice sticking out of the lake one day, and the next day they’re gone. Such a contradiction to the other parts of nature. While everything else is quiet and bare, the lake is very much alive. Pretty cool.

IMG_9446 (1024x1024)10)  I love a fireplace. In San Francisco we had a faux fireplace (it had been covered up, but the facade was still there). We kept talking about opening it up and bringing it to life again, but it never happened.

I love coming downstairs in the morning (okay, not really, because my brain is in a fog of sleepiness and one or both of the kids are trying to tell me something and the dog wants to eat and I have to figure out what to pack for lunch…but I digress)…and turning on the fireplace and keeping the kitchen lights dim while I make my espresso. It’s all very picturesque. Until the girls start fighting over who gets the turtle plate. Wah-wah.

IMG_9583 (944x1024)11)  Since I haven’t been able to find a restaurant here to satisfy my Thai cravings, I have decided to take matters into my own hands. Literally. My sorority sis recommended this book, which I bought a couple weeks ago. I’ve always been intimidated by Thai cooking (the ingredients!), but desperate times call for desperate measures. Now where in the world am I going to find birds eye chilies?

12)  I popped into Josef’s bakery the other day for a dry cappuchino and almond croissant (which they were out of. Had a chocolate-almond croissant instead. Not a good substitute). I started chatting it up with two older ladies (long story. someone dropped a spoon). They both thought I was 20-ish. Twen. Tee. I suppose that’s one good thing about being the only Asian in town?