Showing Love

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As an avid blog reader and lack blogger, I easily get caught up in the illusion of perfection put out there. The blogs I follow often post disclaimers that they share only pieces of their lives and not the whole picture but still I can’t help but want to emulate what I see. One of my favorite bloggers, Jessica Garvin, always does cute holiday themes for her kids and it’s something I always wanted to copy when I became mom.

In practice, I’ve found that almost anything I do to commemorate a holiday is more for me than Lucas because he won’t remember it. But now that we’re approaching his one year, I thought I’d start establishing our own traditions. To start us off I made heart shaped Belgian waffles this weekend. It was delicious, easy (especially because I used pie filling we already had) and fun. Even better, I remembered that we used to cook a lot and I miss it.

I was also reminded that we already have family traditions. Each year Danny’s mom made his dad a heart shaped cake with pink frosting. Since she passed away , I’ve started making him a cake and adding my own heart design as a personal touch.

It is often the only cake I make in a year and I’m happy to say it’s getting to both look and taste better. This year I found a buttercream frosting recipe that was perfect. I often feel the need to try new things for the sake of trying new things but now that time is a precious commodity when I find something that works I’m going to stick to it. So this is the buttercream frosting recipe I’ll use for cakes going forward. The cake itself is still in the testing phase because this recipe was denser than Mr. B prefers but progress.

I’m sure our Valentine’s activities will change in the years to come but I hope we will always keep these traditions.

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Reading Round-Up

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Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney: It’s New Years Eve 1984 in New York City and 85 year old Lillian Boxfish takes a walk around her neighborhood and down memory lane. Inspired by the life of real-life Margaret Fishback – the world’s highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the 1930s, Lillian is likable and worth listening to. The novel reads like a conversation with an older woman you meet at a park and can’t resist getting to know.

If this book had been published in 1984, Katharine Hepburn would surely have played Lillian Boxfish in a movie adaptation. I didn’t start out imagining Kate in the role but by the end I could hear her voice and picture her every gesture. Kate’s memoir Me is another trip down memory lane with a female trailblazer. In  The Lion In Winter, Eleanor of Aquitaine (played by Katharine) shares Lillian’s history of success, sharp wit and charming personality.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin: Queen Victoria is iconic. Most imagine an elder woman, dressed in black with a dour expression but she was a girl queen once and this novel tells the story of her first years on the throne. A (embellished?) romance with palace intrigue, it’s hard to put down and you help but feel that the novel ends far too early in her reign.

I’m always drawn to historical novels about prominent figures and Victoria stands head and shoulders (figuratively speaking) above most. I read this book completely oblivious to the Masterpiece series and was delighted to learn about it. I caught episode 5 and it’s breathtakingly gorgeous to watch and follows the book in great detail. I hope it reruns or plays on Netflix/Amazon so I can watch it in full, fortunately there are still two more episodes to air. As for a complimentary book recommendation, Victoria’s Daughters is a fascinating look at the impact the Queen had on Europe’s monarchies.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines: Joanna and Chip Gaines are charming on Fixer Upper and they are charming in this book. It’s literally a conversation in which they share their journey as business (and life) partners. They have been blessed and their story is one for a television movie one day but more than that it’s inspirational. I finished the book in a day and stayed up during the night evaluating where my life is and where I want it to go.

You’ll finish The Magnolia Story feeling inspired and if you need more inspiration look to Dave Ramsey and Sarah Richardson. Debt is a big part of the Gaines’ story and The Total Money Makeover is a must-read for anyone not independently wealthy. If you prefer to stick with the ‘pretty’ inspirations, I continue to be a big fan of Sarah Richardson. Her style is a bit more colorful than Joanna’s but they are both classic. Read one her home decor books or catch one of her shows on HGTV.

 

Art + Chocolate = Love

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Metro Detroit isn’t the most progressive area but one thing I’m very proud of is the millage that grants tri-county residents ‘free’ admission to the Detroit Institute of Art. It’s such a treat to have no barrier for a trip to the museum and as an added bonus they offer fun community activities. One recent event brought together two of my favorite Detroit things: the DIA and Bon Bon Bon.

Visitors were invited to participate in a make your own chocolate ‘workshop’ for the Bitter|Sweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate Exhibition, it was fun, easy and delicious. It was also short and free; therefore, perfect for a Valentine’s date that included Lucas – can’t beat that!

An added bonus, I asked Alexandra Clark (Bon Bon Bon’s owner) if they were selling Packzi bon bons there and she offered me a free one on the spot! I was beyond thrilled at the lucky offer, I hadn’t had one in a year and it was better than I remembered!

We’re trying to stick to a budget so there are no special Valentine plans for us but a small chocolate treat would be sweet *hint hint husband*

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s treat for yourself or someone special, check out Bon Bon Bon in Hamtramck or downtown Detroit – definitely get the Packzi!

Note: The $3 scarf from Target’s Dollar Section is on my favorite things list

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Lucas 11 Months!

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Panic is setting in at the realization that my baby is going to be 1 year old in mere weeks! Where does the time go?

Danny and Lucas have SO MUCH fun together. He taught him how to stick out his tongue. It required a lot of brain power from Lucas and it was adorable to watch his face as he worked to get the mechanics right. Danny also taught Lucas how to raise his hands and say touchdown and it is the cutest thing. They also rough house, Lucas will knock Danny’s head with a Kleenex box and Danny will dramatically fall over to Lucas’ peels of laughter.

He’s getting to be a big boy but he still has his baby habits. He’ll still hold out his finger when he’s nursing and I love it. A small reminder that he’ll always be my little baby.

Every night he crawls into his sled and waits to get pulled around the basement at least 10x.

He can stand for a few seconds and loves to experiment and to show off.

He LOVES to show off. He knows he’s the center of the universe and relishes the role. He will play independently but almost only if you’re watching him adoringly.

I started a bedtime routine and it’s harder for me than him I think. I’ve never been more than a foot away from him at night and now he’s sleeping in his crib. I miss my baby cuddles but he is doing okay. The other day he spent most of his night in the crib and when he woke up in the morning (alone in the room no less!) he played with his musical whale. I was shocked when I realized he was awake and not screaming. When I went to get him, he didn’t start crying and I even managed a picture.

I used to feel we were doing well with food but we’re totally off the rails. His favorites are goldfish, chicken nuggets and mandarin oranges…

For some reason when you ask him where a person is, he’ll point to their picture.

He continues to love to read and is constantly bringing books and wants them read over and over. He’s memorized them so he knows the words. When we read I Love My Dinosaur he roars and sings when I do. He loves these Ninja Turtle books we have. He always asks Danny to read him Brown Bear, Brown Bear and his favorite page is the teacher – we think it’s because she looks like Jane at daycare.

He does great at daycare now, I’m not looking forward to the inevitable room change.

Lucas had (and spread) a stomach bug but was such a trooper – he’d puke on me and then be all smiles. He lost a few ounces and is just under 20lbs.

He’s a shorty (15%) but getting taller. He can reach the top of the trash can now and is so proud of himself, he’s constantly playing with it.

He doesn’t play the piano much but he loves his music shakers and he loves to dance.

Lucas has a mouthful of teeth and uses them. He’ll bite when he’s angry (and will get reprimanded for) but more often than not his teeth just hurt – he bite into wood furniture!

Changing his diaper is a pain because he runs away – unless I’m singing Jingle Bell Rock.

My baby is getting so big!

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Currently

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Resisting the normalization of indecent behavior, the rejection of fact, and degradation of our democratic values.

Renovating our kitchen! If the world is ending I want my kitchen. It’ll be a long process but we’ve started. And like all kitchen renos in this decade it will include a farmhouse sink!

Watching all the MARVEL movies in order with Gina and Garrett. I hadn’t seen Iron Man in years and completely forgot Terrance Howard played Rhody. This weekend it’s Iron Man 2 and Thor – we’ll see if I can FINALLY stay awake through it.

Reading LOTS of books and magazines and newspapers. So much to read, so little time! And while I was reading Martha Stewart’s magazine I found more books to add to my list (specifically, Trevor Noah’s suggestions). I also found even more mad love for Martha, she tipped her hat to HRC and Steinem. #womenunite

Eating pretty well. This Persian lamb crockpot recipe was delicious. I’m planning to make Valentine cookies with Cindel this weekend – this recipe looks promising.

Planning Lucas’ 1st birthday party! It’s a month away and I’m SO not prepared. It’s 1940s Captain America theme so I need to start practicing hair styles.

Resolving to no longer eat after 8:30 p.m. as part of my year of resolve. I’ve never not eaten after 8:30 in my life, so this will be a challenge…

Stache International

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Eastern Market is my go-to place to introduce people to the city. It’s fun and filled with people and it’s impossible for anyone to go there and not have a great time (believe me I’ve taken a lot of Detroit skeptics). Saturday Market Days are always fun but after the tour I’ve always ended up heading to Corktown, Midtown or Downtown for lunch. There are places to eat at the Market but none that I feel wouldn’t have drawbacks. Not anymore!

Stache International is just what I’ve been waiting for. A delicious sandwich shop with plenty of seating (including a high chair for Lucas) and parking! Eastern Market has a lot of parking options and Stache is conveniently located across the pedestrian bridge next to Gratiot Central Market.

There are so many new places in Detroit these days it’s hard to keep up. Consequently, I was surprised to see a 1 year anniversary sign outside the door when we arrived – but better late than never!

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We normally avoid appetizers but the Curry-ous Cauli Bites called my name. These delectable fried cauliflower pieces now rank as one of my favorite food items and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.

Danny ordered the Stache Favorite and loved it. I asked our waitress for her favorite sandwich and, after Danny’s order, it was the Turkey ‘Mondulo’- I was relieved because it was the item I was leaning towards and also delicious.

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Our waitress, Alex, had a British accent so I couldn’t resist asking for a brief interview.

Are you from Detroit?
I’m originally from England. I live in Ferndale but I’ve been in the area for 18 years.

What do you like about the city?
My mom grew up in southwest Detroit. I love the vibe and everything they’re doing to build it up – especially Eastern Market.

What Detroit project are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to the Red Wings and Pistons arena for sure.

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As luck would have it one of Stache’s owners was working too and came over to chat. Ray is a veteran of the Detroit bar scene but new to the restaurant business. We discussed the growth of Midtown and life/business at the Market. The work on the restaurant was more than planned for and there are some projects that are still being worked but on the upside there’s a built-in audience and suppliers. Ray told us that on more than one occasion he’s had to run out to get fresh ingredients from one of the local shops – a nice perk that builds relationships and creates a fun neighborhood.

My favorite story was how Stache got it’s name.

“The name of this place comes from my grandmother. Growing up I would cook in the kitchen with her on Sundays. She would always show me photo albums and being that we are an Italian Lebanese family, all the guys in the pictures had mustaches. Since I wanted to do internationally themed sandwiches it just popped – Stache International.”

So there you have it. Next time you’re in the city and looking for a bite to eat go to Stache because it’s fantastic.

Women’s March Detroit

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We joined the Sister March in Detroit for the Women’s March on Washington Saturday and it was an incredible experience. After a dreary Friday, the sun was out and it felt like a message from above. It was a peaceful gathering of thousands who care about their community and country.

It is our right and responsibility as citizens of a democracy to voice our opinion and to advocate for the policy and principles we believe in. We have not done enough of that in America and I hope that this weekend’s march is simply the tip of the iceberg – a turning point in a progressive and peaceful revolution that re-establishes our American values.

I hope there are more marches in the coming months and years for equality, truth, and justice. We’ll have our signs and walking shoes ready.

Tonight I’m off to a Democratic Club meeting to get to work. There are so many challenges facing this country and the world, I’m going to zero in on my own community and will work to elect representatives at the state and federal legislative level who believe that housing and education are rights – not luxuries, that stealing while wearing a white collar is just as much of a crime – if not worse – than stealing while wearing a blue one, that climate change is real and we must protect our planet, that immigrants are not our enemy but are the people who have helped built this country, that if we want to claim to be a Christian nation than we must follow the message of Christ – love our neighbors, help the poor, and not pass judgement. There are more issues of course but those are a few pressing priorities.

Let’s get to work.

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