Week 31: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

It’s been a fun and productive week! The holidays always seem to add a layer of extra busyness. My shopping is only halfway done, which is very unlike me. I am normally 99% finished by this time. On the plus side, I know what I am buying, I just need to get out there and do it. I’ve already ordered everything I intended to order from online, so all should arrive in time. It’s just the real life shopping that I’ll need to complete.

So let’s dig in. In regard to item # 7 – Lose 10 pounds, I have plateaued with about a pound to go. I have decided my best option is to try to hold steady through the holidays and resume reduction efforts after we return from Florida soon after the first of the year. I believe that will be difficult enough. I am still using the Noom app and have found it helpful. On a related note, I am slacking a little on the NordicTrack workouts. I did two this week, bringing me up to 62 workouts of the 50 work out goal. One was a stroll through Dubrovnik, Croatia and the other a stroll along the Champs Elysees in Paris. We have visited both of these cities IRL (in case you aren’t familiar, you may see this abbreviation in your kids’ texts, it means “In Real Life”). I’m probably too old to be using these abbreviations but IDC. I’m pretty sure that means “I don’t care.” And if it doesn’t, it should! The Dubrovnik one was interesting as despite having visited this city, there were still new things to learn. I didn’t know that at one point in their history a kilo of salt was as valuable as a kilo of gold. They would harvest it from the sea and use it to “pay off” their aggressors to retain their autonomy. I learn something new almost every time I hop on the treadmill!

Item #10- Keep attending classes through Alliance de Francais. This Monday’s class is the last for this year. I will be setting up private FaceTime or Skype classes after the start of the year when classes resume. I hope this will allow me to keep up while traveling and pick right up where I left off in class upon my return. My Duolingo streak is intact and I am so excited that they’ve recently added additional content which gives me some new things to learn! I am also revisiting Pimsleur French IV and V, which is an audio language learning course.

Item # 11 – Try one new to us restaurant each month. This time we were out on the western side of the state meeting friends from that area. My husband is a private pilot, so we flew and shortened what would have been at least a two hour car trip to a short 45 minute flight. We were even able to fly over the Big House in Ann Arbor. Our friends picked us up at the airport and we went to a nearby restaurant called The Four Roses Cafe, in Plainwell. It is rather unassuming from the outside. In fact, it looks a lot like someone’s home who suddenly decided to open a restaurant, but oh my goodness! What a treat. Everything is made with the freshest ingredients and menus are changed daily based on the best locally available produce. I had a grilled romaine salad for my entree which was wonderful but the best was saved for last. They make some really scrumptious home made desserts on site from scratch. Between the four of us, three deserts were ordered and they were all amazing. My husband had the Coconut Cream Pie, our friends ordered a brownie sundae type desert and another chocolate desert whose name I can’t remember but it was reportedly delicious. I just had a bite of Mike’s pie and it was worth whatever calories were in it! If you are ever in the area, I would recommend seeking this place out. We arrived at 11:40 am on a Friday and had a half hour wait, so be prepared. They will, however, take reservations for parties of six or more.

Flying over the Big House!

Our Florida house is coming along. The couch, desk and end tables for the den should be delivered on December 31st. As far as furniture goes, we will just be missing our barstools. Curtains for the dining room and den are hopefully to be hung sometime this week. I still have a lot of accessorizing to do, along with fabric selections for bedroom curtains, and bathroom valances. The bedrooms do have blinds in place for privacy. They have dug the pool and poured the walls. They back filled and leveled the yard. Next comes pavers, and tiling/gunnite as well as a lanai surround. I can’t wait to watch it all come together!

Walls are poured and ground is back-filled and leveled. Making headway!

I am currently reading “This Is How It Always Is” book #70 of my 50 book goal by Laurie Frankel. It is a Reese Witherspoon book club pick. It’s a little early to decide if it’s one I’ll recommend but I’ll let you know.

This book is a selection from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. I’ve just started it, so I’ll keep you posted.

In item #26 – Organize and catalog all of the photos sitting in a jumble in the storage room, I have made great headway. There were way more photos than I originally anticipated and I keep finding more caches of them all over the house. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though and hope to complete this project before year’s end.

The large plastic container and the smaller boxes are still being sorted and filed. The smaller plastic boxes are almost all filled. Thankfully the end is in sight!

I haven’t been as good with item #13 – Daily meditation. It’s been a rather hit or miss proposition lately, primarily due to the busyness of the holidays, the extra get-togethers, cooking, shopping, baking, birthdays and events. I know they say that is when you need it the most, to calm a busy mind, so I am going to have to double down on my efforts to fit it into an already jam packed day. I think perhaps starting the day with a short bit of meditation ideally followed by a brief bit of yoga should help bring clarity that will let me tackle whatever lies ahead. Well, at least I hope so.

I have been working on my family tree a little through Ancestry.com. Recently a second cousin reached out to me via messaging and we have been exchanging helpful information for our family trees. It’s an interesting thing to have someone who’s shared a common history yet we don’t know each other and I doubt either of us had heard of the other before genetically matching on the DNA testing and determining that we shared a few relatives. I look forward to doing a deeper dive soon, perhaps after the rush of the holidays.

In item # 30 – Finish a Masterclass, I’ve finished the Anna Wintour Masterclass and have recently started one with make-up expert Bobbi Brown. I’m really enjoying it so far. She is kind of the antithesis of the Kardashians, very understated and natural. So far, I’m liking what I see. This will be the third Masterclass for this year. Before Anna Wintour, I took the Margaret Atwood Writing class. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of these courses.

Well, I believe I have a few presents to wrap and there is a glass of Moscato calling my name. I am taking the next two weeks off from the blog to revel in the holidays and enjoy spending time with my family. I will rejoin you on January 6th. Until then, I’ll leave you with my favorite holiday quote from Burton Hillis , “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” I hope the same will be true for you this season. Cheers!

Merry Christmas!!

Week 29: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Detroit Edition

The Christmas season is upon us with it all of the busyness and social commitments that come along with it! Unfortunately for me, it means I don’t have a lot of time to concentrate on tackling my list so this week’s post will be short and sweet! For those who might want a refresher, here is my original bucket-list.

This week, I’ve maintained my Duolingo streak of 837 days. I’m still attending French classes at Alliance de Francais of Detroit. Because I am planning to spend a lot of February and part of March in Florida, my instructor suggested I take a private class with him remotely so I can advance more quickly. I think that will be an excellent idea and may even afford me a bit more flexibility. I will miss the classroom setting and my classmates though.

I just finished Isaac Mizrahi’s book “I.M. A memoir.” He is just one year younger than I am and hearing about his ascension through the 70’s and 80’s was a stroll down memory lane. He mentions Studio 54 and celebrities from that era. As a Jewish gay man, he had a lot to share about the difficulties he faced when there was far less tolerance of those with a different sexual orientation and his fear through the height of the AIDS epidemic. It was an interesting read and I topped it off with listening to his interview on one of my favorite author’s podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Ruben.” If you are interested, here is his interview. Now I want to watch the documentary on him, “Unzipped” filmed as he put together his 1994 runway collection. I have unwittingly been doing a deep dive into the business of fashion lately and the book was a nice complement to the Masterclass with Ann Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Conde Naste. I am still really enjoying the Masterclass series. I finished Anna Wintour’s class and have now started watching Bobbi Brown’s masterclass on make-up.

In regard to reading, I’ve finished I.M. and am currently reading “The Oysterville Sewing Circle” book #68 of of my new goal of reading 75 books before the year ends, which may be overly ambitious. I am using the app Overdrive for this one and will need to complete it in a timely manner to prevent it from disappearing before I’m finished with it.

We didn’t visit any new restaurants this week but I have to give a shout out to The Shinola Hotel. We stayed there the evening before Thanksgiving and it really was wonderful. The evening didn’t start out awesome as the roads were mostly closed in anticipation of the Turkey Trot the next morning and the Thanksgiving Day parade. The evening rapidly got better when our room was upgraded to a suite. It had a distinct mid century vibe and even had a beautiful Shinola turntable in the room with several albums, including The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and John Coltrane. I loved the robes that were hanging in the closet. They looked like a boxing robe with Detroit written on the back! After dropping off our luggage, we had dinner at Parc. It was a short walk from our hotel and it’s my favorite restaurant in Detroit which is even more magical this time of year. It sits in the shadow of the beautiful Christmas tree which glimmers through the restaurant windows. You can also see the skating rink and the trees all aglow in white lights. The food is amazing and they also carry my original favorite wine, Grand Traverse Riesling. The evening was perfect! In the morning, we ordered room service and sat and watched the runners go by dressed as everything from Santa Claus to the Grinch and everything in between. Once the race was over, the parade began. It was cozy sitting at the window with a wool blanket on my lap and a hot cup of coffee in my hand. This just might be the start of a lovely tradition. The best part is it was just a short walk to Ford Field to watch my girls cheer on the sidelines at the Lions football game and perform in the half time show. Then on to my parents where we all enjoyed a yummy Thanksgiving meal lovingly prepared by my mom, just as she has every year for as long as I can remember. One difference is that now my young nieces are grown with children of their own. It’s a tradition I wouldn’t change for the world!

Check out that awesome turntable!
Love the robes!
Dining and “bar area”
I somehow didn’t grab a photo with the running Santas or the dinosaur or any of the other crazy costumes that were out there! It made the race very entertaining!
Room service!

I also have to give a shout out to The Caucus Club, where I brought my husband and family to celebrate an early birthday for my husband Mike this past weekend. The Caucus Club is really a throw back to the rat pack era, complete with a piano player and fun fact, which I may have mentioned before, it’s reportedly where Barbra Streisand got her start! It was so nice to have our Samantha, Jenna and Kristianth all together to celebrate Mike’s 60th birthday. He is an amazing husband, father and human being and I am lucky that I’m the one he’s sharing his life with. It’s been an eventful week and my heart is full to bursting.

Birthday Celebration at the Caucus Club
The crew at dinner
Our girls at Campus Martius
Love Detroit’s holiday vibe!

But my heart isn’t the only thing that’s bursting. As I’m sure you can surmise, with all these eating opportunities I’ve not managed to make it to my goal. However, I am happy to report that I am holding my own. I still use Noom daily, though I may have missed logging a meal or two here and there. I am back on track and determined not to gain any weight over the holidays. Wish me luck! I have done a few more workouts on the NordicTrack. I am at workout #59 of my 50 work out goal. I did the core yoga workout and a walk through the Balkans as well as an interval incline walk through Lake Tahoe.

I am still neck deep in organizing our photos but the end is at least in sight. I am strongly leaning towards removing photos from their photo albums and filing them all away using this storage system. I think I’ll need to run out and get a few more storage containers though.

Mike and I are heading to Florida sometime this week and I will update you then on our Florida house. On the plus side our pool is finally underway! However there is still no couch and one does not appear to be on the horizon. Surprisingly, they didn’t have enough fabric and had to order more. In fact, none of the remaining furniture is in yet. This is a lesson in patience. At least this time we will have dining room chairs and a couch in the den. I ordered a few lamps on Black Friday from Wayfair as they were very much on sale. They should be arriving while we are there. Our new backsplash is in and our wine refrigerator has been ordered. I will be so happy when it is all complete. We still need curtains for a few of the bedrooms, and we need to select art work and accessories which Mike and I hope to shop for while we are down there (fun!) I was hopeful it would be completely decorated and furnished before the end December, but sadly, it’s not looking like that will be the case.

That’s where I will leave you for now. I hope to have a little more to share about our Florida place next week. Until then, may you enjoy every minute of this busy, messy beautiful season!

Week 16: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Happy Labor Day! Hope everyone is out enjoying the day with friends and family. I will be heading out to do a high ropes course at Treerunners in West Bloomfield (Bucket list item # 47) with my family later on this afternoon. Looking forward to telling you all about it next week!

This week, has been a bit low key. I am keeping up with most of my ongoing goals, which I’ll tell you more about in a bit. First I wanted to share a new-to-me recipe using herbs from my garden (items# 23 and 40). This one comes from Healthy Cooking magazine June/July 2008. It is simple, quick and delicious, three of my favorite things in a recipe, emphasis on simple because, hey, I’m no Julia Childs.

Chicken Provolone

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

8 fresh basil leaves

4 thin slices of prosciutto or deli ham

4 slices of provolone cheese

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the chicken with pepper. In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken over medium heat until a thermometer reads 165 degrees, 4-5 minutes on each side.
  2. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet; top with the basil, prosciutto and cheese. Broil 6-8 inches from the heat until the cheese is melter, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Garnish plate with parsley if you want to be fancy (and who doesn’t?).

I ended up using ham instead of prosciutto which I am sure would have been delicious, because that is what I happened to have on hand. I also did not use a meat thermometer, I gave it the old eyeball test and cut into it a bit to check for doneness. I served it with a baked potato with sour cream and chives from my container garden.

Nutrition: 1 serving equals 236 calories, 11 g of fat (6 saturated,) 89 mg of cholesterol, 435 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 33 G protein.

It was deceptively simple, but tasted amazing!

Help!! I am on the lookout for ways to use my herbs before the season ends. As they will not over-winter, I would love to find a good pesto recipe for the basil or any other suggestions to make the best use of my remaining herbs. I did manage to use some basil when I had my wonderful Book Club ladies over for a floating meeting on the pontoon. I put together a caprese salad as well as used a little rosemary for garnish on the charcuterie board. It’s awesome spending time with these articulate intelligent women. Most of the time we converse about books in our private facebook group, but once a summer we head out on the pontoon. We also try to meet up at a restaurant at least one other time in the year. We seem to have a lot more to say in person than we do in writing! These ladies are partially why I’ve been able to read some extraordinary books in my 50 book quest. They come up with some awesome suggestions and I much prefer curated books, when someone has read it and recommends it. I used to commit to finishing a book once I’d started it no matter what. Now my motto is “Life is too short to keep reading a bad book.” I’m not afraid to abandon mid-read if it’s just not holding my attention (of course, then it doesn’t count on my list either!) We came up with a few more suggestions for this year, and selected “The Silent Patient,” which I had just finished, (highly recommend) as our next read. I am on book #50 of my 50 book goal. Huzzah! My current read is “Pieces of Her,” so far, so good. I anticipate finishing it up today or tomorrow. Now I’m curious to see how many books I can read in a year.

We started at the house, then packed it up for the boat!

In other updates, French class at Alliance de Francais continues. No class this week due to Labor Day, but we are planning to meet for dinner Tuesday night. I am anticipating that we will be speaking French to one another but I am not counting this as my “meet-up” (item #24). Our instructor David has started conducting class entirely in French. I’ve perfected my “I understand what you’re saying” look while I frantically search my brain for the right translation. Did he just say, “The city hall is very ugly,” or did he just insult my mother? Two very different responses are required! And so we learn. Mistakes are made but I learn best by my mistakes. I just wish I wasn’t given so many learning opportunities! By the way, my Duolingo streak remains intact at 747 days. I am determined to keep it going as long as possible.

I have been working to continue yoga at least once a week. And since I can’t convince my awesome sister-in-law Sharona and niece, Ashley, to move to Belleville to teach (I mean really, is that too much to ask?) I am on the look-out for a nearby studio with a restorative yoga class at a convenient time. I have found that quick 10-20 minute classes on YOUTUBE have been fabulous. I like morning and evening routines with yogis Adrienne or Sarah Beth. I’m still meditating with the Headspace App. I remain in Costa Rica on my NordicTrack, half way through the walking series there and still enjoying it. They get more difficult within each series as it progresses. I have completed work out #34 of my 50 work out goal. It still holds my interest and keeps me working out on my days off of boot-camp.

Forest trails, beaches, mountains. Ecological diversity is amazing!

New things I am working on include taking an online Masterclass in creative writing with Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale (item #30). I have really enjoyed Masterclass. We have an all access pass and in the past, I’ve taken cooking with Alice Waters and writing with Judy Blume. They have things like stand-up with Steve Martin, magic with Penn and Teller, or how about Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard or Jody Foster on film-making (what?!!). There are classes on just about every interest. The reason it’s on my bucket list is that something that can be done at any time often gets done at no time. You know, there’s no time like the present, Carpe Diem, strike while the iron’s hot, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, insert your favorite clich√© here, (too much?)

We are headed to Florida in a couple weeks to make a few selections for our pool and to check out the local furniture stores. I did a little preparatory work, both in person and online, checking availability, turn around and selection at various furniture stores in anticipation of diving into item #16, decorating our Florida vacation home. Can’t wait to share the results and perhaps even solicit opinions on a few things along the way. I am hopeful the hurricane will not do major damage wherever it strikes. This will be a whole new area of expertise to master, putting on hurricane shutters, lowering pool levels, and apparently many of our soon to be neighbors in Florida are filling sand bags. I am not sure what for or where they will put them. So many questions I need answered! As of this writing it has veered away from our location. In any event, prayers for the safety of those living wherever Dorian makes landfall.

Next week in addition to the high rope course I hope to share with you a little of the adventure I will be having with my Mom. We are heading to Williamsburg this week, a city neither one of us has been to. We are both history buffs so we plan on checking out Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. I am looking forward to spending some long overdue quality girl time with my mom. Here’s hoping the hurricane stays the heck away from Virginia! That might be more adventure than even we can handle. Make it a great week everyone and wherever you are, stay safe!

Week 9: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Monday already? This week has just flown by! The highlight of our week was a long weekend in Mackinac Island. If you are not from Michigan and are unfamiliar with the island, you are missing out! This is a tiny island, with a coast of 8.2 miles, perfect for biking around the perimeter. It covers 3.8 square miles and much of it is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park. No cars are allowed and travel is done exclusively by bicycle or horse and carriage. It is an area rich in history and serves as a popular tourist draw, attracting both day trippers and those visiting for a few days. My extended family has been coming here for years. My parents stay in their boat at the marina and family members either stay with them or at nearby resorts. Once we arrived, I was excitedly looking forward to checking off a long-awaited item on my bucket. As many years as we’ve been coming here, we’ve never eaten at The Woods, which is a lovely restaurant associated with the Grand Hotel (another popular tourist destination). This Bavarian influenced restaurant is tucked away in the woods (hence the name) and requires a 30-45 minute carriage ride to get to it. My husband, myself and our daughters had six o’clock reservations on a Friday evening. After a leisurely carriage ride, we arrived right on time. Our waiter, Michael, was amazing. He has been working there for over 20 years and his experience and warmth made our evening even better. I ordered a grilled New York strip steak, done perfectly. My daughter Sam enjoyed her spinach Florentine ravioli and my older daughter, Jenna had roasted free range half chicken. My husband ordered the crispy maple duck breast. All of our entrees were delicious and even the sides were yummy. I especially liked the red cabbage. We ordered 3 desserts to taste, a mango cheesecake, chocolate hazelnut tart with dark cherry jubilee sauce and vanilla cake donut topped with Mackinac Fudge Ice cream. All were wonderful. It was a bit of a splurge, but the experience was memorable and worth it!

Cheers to another item checked off!

We were on the island from Thursday to Sunday morning, arriving by ferry and staying at The Harbour View Inn. It is possible to fly in, and we’ve done so if we are just staying the day. My husband pilots an older Mooney but the airstrip is even large enough to accommodate a small jet. We’ve stayed at various hotels over the years, but Harbour View Inn seems to be the one we come back to the most. It’s a short walk to the marina and depending on your room, you may get a little view of the harbor. We requested a suite which has 2 beds along with a siting area with a pull out bed, giving us plenty of space if we have an extra guest or two. Breakfast is included. I did manage to bike the island 4 times, in preparation for that ride to Lake Eerie. My husband Mike and daughter Sam actually ran the island, all 8.2 miles, while my daughter Jenna and I biked it as their support team. I was so proud of them both as this is not a typical run for either of them. This trip is always a memorable one and I am so grateful to be able to continue to make these memories with my family. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Mackinac Island, I highly recommend it. Hiking, kayaking, bicycling, shopping and dining, there’s something for everyone!

Mike and Sam on their run.
My family, (minus my sister and her husband). They only visited for one of the days this year.
Just a little bit of the Grand Hotel. Sadie’s is a family favorite for ice cream.
Another flower garden on the grounds of The Grand Hotel.

As for ongoing items, yes, I am still working out on my Nordic Track. I am at work out 22 with a goal of completing 50. I have maintained my 698 day streak on Duolingo. I always manage to get a lesson in, even on vacation. Our Florida home has broken ground and walls are up, so one step closer to decorating. (hurray!) I finished “Summer of 69” by Elin Hildebrand. It was a great light read. I always enjoy reading her books in the summer and this one did not disappoint. I think I particularly enjoyed the setting of 1969 as it was very reminiscent of my childhood. I am now reading “The Education of Dixie Dupree.” This is our book club meet-up book and I am looking forward to sharing insights. That puts me at book #40 out of my goal of 50 by December 31. I am 74% of the way there, 13 books ahead of schedule. I try to have a safety cushion in the summer when there is a little more time to read. Meditating via the Headspace App continues and weekly yoga is a thing, though just via Youtube this week.

Our bathroom is essentially complete, we are just waiting on some paint touch-ups, and some artwork that I’m having re-matted as well as the glass shower door that is currently being made. I will be excited to share the before/after when the project is complete!

And you guys…guess what? It’s happening and I am so excited! I’ve made my skydiving reservation for August 17th. I am doubly excited because my daughter Jenna wants to jump with me! If anyone else is game to give it a try, feel free to join us on the 17th. Absolutely looking forward to it!¬†

That’s it for this week. We head to Boston next weekend so I hope to have some cool things to share. If you’re curious and you want to check out my original bucket list, the link is below. Make it an awesome week! Geronimoooooo!

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