I celebrated my birthday yesterday, and while it was a cloudy, rainy day here in A2 I didn’t mind – April showers, bring May flowers, after all. I had been eyeing these lovely, Alex Monroe chrysanthemum flower earrings (pictured above) for some time and, to my delight, Ryan gifted them to me for my birthday! We also enjoyed a delicious lunch out at Real Seafood Company and dinner at Aventura. It was so nice to receive happy birthday wishes, cards, and gifts from so many family and friends too – thank you all for making me feel so loved!
Last week we celebrated Pączki Day, enjoyed tasting our homemade bitters (which we bottled) in some delicious cocktails, played a new (to us) board game with friends – Acquire, I met a sweet dog at a local flower shop, made it to a movie at the theater, and we had breakfast at one of our favorite spots in town on Sunday. What’s up with this weird weather though?
We’ve had such odd winter weather this year in Michigan (record highs) and I think this cartoon sums it up pretty well; it was 57 with thunderstorms last Tuesday and 28 and snowing last Friday, for example. I don’t want to complain about the mild weather we’ve had, but it has definitely been abnormal. And here we are in March already with daylight saving time beginning this coming Sunday. I’m hoping it doesn’t get too cold again as the plants are confused; the trees are budding and the spring bulbs have already started to sprout up from ground. The late winter/early spring flowers are beautiful (crocus, snowdrops, etc.), they’re so dainty and delicate – a welcome sign of spring, and I’ve already seen robins darting around the yard; it’s always exciting to see the seasons begin to change!
Fog, rain, more fog, dog naps (in our house, they will always be dog – rather than cat – naps), and homemade bitters (more on that below) – this was what our weekend was made of; that and a nice dinner out with friends one evening, at which point I saw one those signs posted at the bar that says you have to have been born in a specific year (currently 1996) in order to legally drink which caused me to settle into a momentary state of depression… 1996? I’m not even going to say why that year is of significance to me, but I didn’t like how it made me very aware of my age.
About those homemade bitters, we’re very excited to try our hand at making our own for use in some delicious cocktails at home, and we used this very nice Christmas gift our dear friend gave us to make our first attempt at doing that over the weekend! We used their recipes and ingredients provided with the kit, and added a few of our own ingredients to the mixes; we’re also attempting to make our own lavender tincture (inspired by a former Ann Arbor Distilling Company cocktail called a Rise & Shine). We’ll see how they turn out in about a month, when they will supposedly be ready, I’m crossing my fingers.
Today is #GivingTuesday and we made a donation to our local Humane Society, which is something I always enjoy supporting. When we adopted our sweet dog, Melody, 15 years ago from a shelter in Austin, TX, they said she was a stray and she was so frightened and timid that she wouldn’t even walk on a leash…how far we’ve come! Melody continues to bring us joy and love every day and we are so lucky to have her in our lives. I hope that you will give in some way (your time, your talents, your donations, etc.) to a cause that is meaningful to you in honor of this day of giving!
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the past, and Hanukkah and Christmas fast-approaching, it’s got me thinking about all things gifting – on that note, here are a few items I recommend for holiday gifts, if you’re looking for ideas or a little inspiration:
- Make a donation to the preferred charity of your family or friends’ choice!
- Etsy’s gift guide
- Our friend, Tanya, does beautiful, custom watercolor portraits (more on that here) – you’ll find her on Etsy here.
- Our friend, Abigail, makes beautiful, handcrafted porcelain – check out her online shop here.
- We’ve been loving using Framebridge for our framing needs lately; they’re fast, affordable, shipping is free, and they handwrite gift notes with your order!
- Consumable gifts are always nice! Here are a few, Michigan-based ones to consider…
- King Orchards: Ever eaten a Michigan-grown, Honeycrisp apple? If yes, then you understand; if no, you should try one!
- Zingerman’s Mail Order: Ridiculously delicious, high-quality, mouth-watering ingredients and all things food – they’ve got mail-order gelato, breads, meats, cheeses, pantry items, sweets, etc. You can even order sandwich kits with everything you need to put one of their famous Reubens together, right in your own kitchen!
- Mawby: Pop the cork on some bubbly to celebrate the holidays – Michigan’s Mawby can help you with that! My personal favorite is the Blanc de Blancs, but they’ve got something for everyone from sweet to dry.
We enjoyed a visit with friends from out of town and the most perfect fall weather this past weekend; I’m enjoying every last drop of this beautiful fall we’re having here in Michigan, when the light is warm and golden, and there’s a cool breeze in the air – this is my happy place! We took a stroll around downtown A2 and it was so beautiful, I felt like I should be writing a poem or a song or something to commemorate how unbelievably picturesque it was. Our Halloween candy jar is already almost empty (oops!) and I can’t stop taking photos of gorgeous fall leaves and seeing adorable posts of friends and friends’ children jumping into big piles of leaves and thinking I need to sit down and watch this some time soon (it’s tradition!). It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just two weeks from this Thursday and it will soon be Christmas before we know it…and then 2017!
We traveled to Las Vegas last week to celebrate the wedding of our dear friends Monica and Adrian with them in Vegas (where they live). It was a beautiful wedding and so much fun to reconnect with so many old friends of Ryan’s from his hometown and high school, as well as to make some new friends in the process. We are so happy for you, Mo and Adrian, and are honored to have been included in your special day; hope to see you all again soon! While we were there, we made a point to tour the Neon museum and we had too much fun at the photo booth during the reception. You can view more photos from our trip here.
We managed to refinish all of our outdoor furniture (two Adirondack chairs, one side table) and we rebuilt our outdoor table with built in cooler trays over the weekend too; it was so nice to sit outside and enjoy our backyard with friends on Memorial Day! Our garden is all planted and I’m loving all the flowers in pots – I mean…just look at these sunny yellow zinnias and roses. And we really enjoyed dinner and drinks at Salt Springs Brewery in Saline on Friday; the building is over 100 years old and was a former church – the stained glass windows are beautiful and the food and drinks were delicious.
Some of the highlights of last week for me were enjoying gelato/sorbet with friends, more (dairy-free for me) frozen yogurt with Ryan (they don’t know our names yet at Orange Leaf, so I can rest easy for now I think), meeting this adorable Australian Shepherd puppy, all the great things Ryan and I accomplished after two days of yard work at our house (#yardworkishardwork), and flowers…always flowers – this week it was peonies, lilacs, and lily of the valley; we planted zinnias, yellow roses (my Granddaddy would have loved them), peonies, alstroemeria, dahlias, and marigolds in our yard/garden for the summer.
Our weekend projects included: painting and cleaning our AC unit in the backyard – no more rust and now it almost looks like new, filling our garden boxes and pots with flowers and vegetables, planting two peonies in our side yard and finishing bed with stone border and mulch, raising and replacing two more stone borders in our yard, more mulch, weeding, mowing, cutting down a tree, organizing and cleaning our garage… Whew, I’m ready for a nap! I’ll leave you with this – just a little Paul Simon and my Melody to make you smile.
Last weekend was commencement weekend at UM and the photo above was my view on Friday at the Ross School Commencement ceremonies at Hill Auditorium. As a “townie” (or local Ann Arborite), this means that as students leave for the summer everything is a little less crowded, parking is easier to find, and – hopefully – we’re able to slow down just a little and enjoy the more relaxed pace of the summer months. I love my job, I love my (work) team, and I’m happy to call Ann Arbor home!