The February List – 2018

Oh my gosh. I can’t with The List right now. Every month I feel like I say oh this month went by so fast, but this is IT, people.

1) It’s cold. It was supposed to be done snowing and everyone thought it was done snowing, but as soon as my daughter brought her snowsuit home from school I knew it was going to snow again and it sure did.

2)  And then when it did snow, it was so random and weird weather-wise, that the snow stuck and it was beautiful for a hot second until the next day when chunks of ice started falling from the trees onto your car and your head if you happened to be out walking. We didn’t even let our kids go outside and play and almost didn’t want the dog to go out either but no alternative.

3) And guess what, the snowstorm I’m talking about actually happened on March 1st, so I’m not even technically allowed to put it in the February list, but I did, so there.

4) At the beginning of the month we had our biggest storm of the season come through, snowing all day long. I was hoping and praying we would not have a snow day, but our Head of School (I know, stop. Where am I, England? But that’s his title so.) had already called one the evening before. I shoveled at least three separate times and my husband maybe twice.

5) Had my office not looked like this, I would have relaxed and enjoyed aforementioned snow day, and eventually, I did because what can you do, really?

6)  The kids had an absolute ball and my sweet old Sammy boy was running and jumping along with them. As playful as I’ve seen him in a long time. Sometimes he is so gross and smells bad and chews on his foot and all kinds of really nasty dog things, but he is so dang cute and brings so much love into our home, we adore him.

7) Our oldest turned nine this month. We let her invite a couple friends to the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center (we would have invited all the girls in her class, but we only have one car and felt bad not being able to give all the girls rides back to our house).

(Just FYI if you are reading this and your kid didn’t go it’s because we are still so SF when it comes to emissions and vehicles and I’m sorry, we love your kid!) Although that one time I won my husband an Escalade rental at auction it was AH-MAZ-ing.

My point is we all went there for the first time and it was fun and cool and my favorite part was feeling all the animal pelts to see which one was the softest (there were also molds of poop samples, which of course the girls loved) and watching the girls ride the snowmobile simulator and fishing simulator.

And then they all wanted to play this shoot the squirrel game with laser guns that looked like real guns and I was like what in the holy hell is even happening right now.

8) We got home and it was nine-year-old girls gone wild all up in my house. They are kooks oh my word. But they had a great time and enjoyed my homemade vanilla cake from Marais.

9)  My mother-in-law took us to the Henry Ford Museum for our daughter’s birthday (ate lunch at Buddy’s pizza first – YUM. I just love pizza so much). I had never been there before and didn’t realize that Rosa Parks’s bus was in that museum along with a million other cool Americana items.

We sat in the bus and listened to the docent (although my girls were half listening, ah well) and I was so moved and touched and wanted to stay there all day and write poetry and think deep thoughts.

10)  Our big ski trip (our girls’ first times ever on skis) happened at the end of the month. We and another family rented a cottage at Crystal Mountain, about a five hour drive north. We’d never been and it was really picturesque and lovely.

Another event I should have been looking forward to but wasn’t because I was so stressed out, but as often happens on vacations, I was able to relax and enjoy myself, especially since the girls had phenominal attitudes about the whole ski gear, being cold, first time on skis thing. It was pretty cool watching them and it made me want to go on ski vacations multiple times a year, even though I hate being cold.

I also took a morning off and got a facial at the spa and sat in the steam room for a bit which made me want a new steam shower so badly or at least a sauna in the basement.

11) I hadn’t been to The Garden since before Christmas – what!? I’m not even exaggerating, so sad and completely my fault. I made a lunch date with the crew and they made me the most fantastic toasted sandwich using Trader Joe’s sauerkraut and swiss and homemade vegan Thousand Island dressing.

The photo looks not very appetizing because I’d already taken a bite and also didn’t have time to edit the photo but it was really so good. I want one RIGHT NOW. But even if I had all the stuff I couldn’t because I am cutting down on carbs big time because Hawaii in two weeks oh my gosh.

12) Wait, speaking of delicious, the Auction Chairs are always buying me the best treats, I am not sure why because I’m the only one on our hard-working team actually getting paid (chairs are volunteers as are well, the volunteers), but of course I’m not complaining because treats.

One of the things they’ve given me are these amazing chocolates from Hungary with caramelized lavender and star anise. It’s stupid good and I just had some with my wine. And yes I realize wine has carbs but wine.

To sum up the month: work work, snow snow, some good stuff, more work, more snow. It’s all good, people. Happy March!


The April List – 2016

IMG_5434 (966x1024)

Ah, April. It’s such an exciting month here in the Midwest because it means winter is officially over. We didn’t get any snow in April that I can remember? Although the temps did drop down to the 30s many nights. Still, the days are sunnier and warmer, which means it’s time for gardening again, which I couldn’t be more happy about.

IMG_5465 (768x1024)

1) Before the fun part of gardening can start, spring clean-up has to happen. Which is raking up all the dead leaves, sticks and other plant debris that remained on the ground after our fall clean up. Since our lawn guys made me cry last year with their disregard for our plants, we opted out of a professional clean up this year. Twenty yard waste bags later, I am nearly done.

IMG_5463 (768x1024)

Last week, I worked in the front, where the beds are covered with pachysandra. Trying to get debris out from under those cluster-y little plants is nuts. I tried using a blower and that didn’t work, and you can’t rake through them so it’s all by hand. I think next year I will have the guys do the front only, but…I don’t know….maybe as long as I’m able, I will continue to do it all.

2) Prince. I mean, I have to give a shoutout. “Delirious” is the first song I remember having a strong reaction to (I was 10. It came on the radio and I was blown away by it’s craziness as I danced around the room). Aside from his amazing music and talent, he made it okay to be different. To be yourself. And during my junior high and high school years, it was such an important message to receive. Peace and love.

IMG_5231 (958x1024)

3)  This is what happens when you take a break from playing Jr. Monopoly to have snack. I know he couldn’t have been comfortable with all the pieces poking on his belly, but he played it cool. Okay, buddy, it’s your spot. Got it.

IMG_5227 (768x1024)

4)  So this tree came down. As in we had it cut down. Will tell you all about it in the next post.

IMG_5441 (1024x1024)

5)  I tackled the take-down of the ferns on my own and it was quite the struggle. I went to pull up ONE fern that was bugging me and this happens. A full bucket of the subway system of roots that this one fern was connected to. Egads.

I love ferns probably more than most people, but now that I have a bunch of other lovely plants sharing the same space, some of the ferns needed to go. And they keep popping up. It’s an ongoing battle.

IMG_5448 (768x1024)

6)  We bought a raised cedar bed, which my husband put together for me. My youngest and I planted lettuce, green onions, and peas from seed, and starter plants of kale. Our dog Sam apparently loves the soil I used because he has been jamming his huge nose into the bed, sometimes coming up with a small mouthful of dirt. And probably our seeds. Waaaah.

I thought all hope was lost, but about three days ago, two tiny lettuce plants showed their faces. I will probably buy more starter plants for the other veggies, but I really hope one of the lettuces makes it. The girls have fun checking on it, as do I.

IMG_5466 (778x1024)

7)  Even though he’s eaten most of our seeds, Sam is the BEST gardening companion. Whenever he hears the sliding door open or sees me put on my gardening gloves, he is ready to follow me. Mostly he sniffs around and then plops down exactly where I was going to weed or rake or plant, but I love his quiet company.

IMG_5453 (1024x1024)

8) I finally found a home for this Moroccan lantern that has been in our basement since we moved. I tried to find a spot for it in the house, but nothing really worked. In SF it lived on top of our bookshelf in the living room, but the ceilings are lower here and it doesn’t look right. Clearly it belongs in the garden (you can also see it in the veggie garden pic).

9) My book club’s April book was Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, same author as “Room” (which I didn’t read. wasn’t sure I could handle it). The story is loosely based on newspaper articles surrounding an unsolved murder in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Her realistic portrayal of what life was like during that time (the small pox epidemic, the influx of Chinese immigrants, treatment of women, squalor, etc) was eye-opening and on occasion, riveting.

We meet tomorrow and I’m wondering if the non-San Francisco gals enjoyed it as much as I did.


10) I love that this is one of the classes offered at our community center. I’m not making fun of it – I think it’s awesome! I hope a lot of kids take it. And I will totally send my girls in a couple years if it’s still being offered.

IMG_5313 (1024x1024)

11) My husband and I finally made it back to Chartreuse, our hands down favorite restaurant in the area (the ambiance is fine, but I’m talking food). I say “the area,” but it could rival any spot in San Francisco. The pork belly with saffron polenta was just wow, and the vanilla pudding dessert thing we got (again) was divine. You can taste the freshness in every bite.

IMG_5315 (1024x1024)

12)  After dinner we went to see the art installation by Daily tous les jour in Cadillac Square. It’s an interactive piece, where each swing dings a musical note, which changes depending on whether people are in sync or not.

Bonus: The Hawaii List
Because I still have Hawaii on the brain, here’s a short bonus Hawaii list:

IMG_5175 (758x1024)

1)  You’re probably aware that Hawaii has some of the best sushi on the planet. I’m not a big raw fish eater, but when I do have raw sushi, it needs to be the very best. Also, the shrimp tempura. Light, fluffy and crunchy. Why do so many places have to batter it like it is a corn dog?

IMG_4960 (768x1024)

2) Growing up, we never had a dryer. My grandpa refused to buy one because the sun can dry your clothes for free. Plus, environmental reasons – wasting electricity, appliances, etc. Even after he died, my family won’t get one. I respect that, but I do not miss wringing out my clothes (especially jeans, those were the worst) and hanging them on the line.

IMG_4897 (891x1024)

3) We saw a couple of these little birds poking around the beach on the North side of the island. I pointed them out to my sister and she told me they are golden-plovers. These crazy birds nest in Alaska, but spend most of their time in Hawaii (three months vs. nine months). They can make the trip in about two days, without resting on the water. Impressive.

IMG_5184 (1024x968) IMG_5182 (913x1024) IMG_5179 (768x1024)

4) Something that grabbed me this trip was the mid-century architecture. I knew it was there, I knew it was 50s, but I really noticed it this time. I only thought to snap photos the day before we left, so I didn’t get great ones. The next time we visit, I’m going to spend a lot more time exploring the architecture.

That is IT, guys! I’m so looking forward to a wonderful May. Enjoy yours!

Hawaii Vacation – A Reflection

IMG_4914 (1024x1024)IMG_5170

There’s a lot I could say about our Hawaii vacation. That it was so many things to be home. Amazing, heartbreaking, nostalgic, relaxing, invigorating, disappointing, delicious, fun.

IMG_5141 (768x1024)IMG_5155

In Hawaii I settle into myself differently than here, or even compared to San Francisco, a place that I consider to be my heart’s home. There’s something about the islands that makes you take it down a notch – makes you not care about wearing the same outfit three days in a row, or not think twice about that second helping of dessert, or not worry about whether you should end an email with “Very Best” or simply, “Best,”.

IMG_4969 (1024x1024)

Mom’s neighbor’s house. She lives in Kalihi Valley with my aunt and grandma. It’s very lush, which means it’s also very buggy!

IMG_4967 (1024x768) IMG_4915 (768x1024) IMG_4883 (768x1024)

I think Hawaii does that for everyone, tourists and residents alike. But for me there is a “coming home” element to it that somehow takes it to a different level. And it’s not just because my family is here (which of course plays a big part though).

My whole perspective on who I am changes. For example, I can walk into a store and feel comfortable chatting it up with the sales reps (which I do NOT do). Or when I’m with people who’ve known me forever (I went to a high-school reunion while I was there) – it’s all so….easy. To just be. It’s hard to explain.


Class of ’90 (eek!)

They say Hawaii is full of ancient magic (it is no joke, you guys – the ghost stories I could tell you  – many from the mouths of people who don’t, or who used to not, believe in spirits).

But it’s magical in other ways, too. Its beauty, that I appreciate more and more each time I visit, its ability to make me slow down (even when I don’t want to) and its powerful reminder of where I came from, where my mother came from, where her mother came from and back and back and back.

IMG_5158 (856x1024)

Mom with our little girl, making leis from her stephanotis flowers.

IMG_5037 (1024x1024)

Easter, Hawaiian style.

IMG_4885 (882x1024)

My trip was hardly deep or spiritual. We did a lot of beach time, family time, eating, lazing around. The usual vacation stuff. But then, when trying to explain the trip and looking at all the photos and really thinking about what Hawaii means to me. There’s a lot there. And the beauty of it is that it will all still be there when I return. Until we meet again. A hui hou.

20160323_184350 (1024x576)