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 28: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Photo Archive Edition

Where has November gone? We are rapidly approaching Holiday Defcon 1 here. My home is decorated, the trees are up but sadly not a lot of shopping has been completed. In my defense, my husband, my dad, my best friend, my daughter and my son-in-law all have birthdays in late November and early December, so birthday shopping has taken precedence. Sorry, not sorry. Nevertheless, the holiday spirit abounds! On to the bucket list. For those that are curious, here is the link to the original list.

Language learning continues. My 830 day streak in Duolingo is intact at a crown level of 982. I missed class last week because I had a situation with my tire on the way to class. I turned around and headed back home but I did get this week’s assignment and homework done which I emailed to the teacher. I have class tonight. Wish me luck!

I’ve completed 56 NordicTrack workouts, going to geographic extremes with a walk through Alaska and then Hawaii. I also did a NordicTrack core yoga class set on a Hawaiian beach. I believe this workout has been recently added as I’ve never noticed it before. I really like it and hope to repeat it soon. It’s great for a recovery day!

I am still using the Noom app and am just 1/2 pound away from my initial 10 pound weight-loss goal. This has been a slow go but I am still enjoying using the app. To be honest, I am a little surprised that I was down this morning as we attended a couple of birthday celebrations over the weekend. Maybe that was what I needed to do to break the plateau. If that’s the case I would have started celebrating a long time ago!

The biggest project I’ve undertaken this week has been addressing bucket-list item #26: Organize and catalog all of the photos sitting in a jumble in the storage room. This is a work in progress that is still underway. I will say the anticipation of the project is far worse than the actual doing. My first decision was to decide if I was going to digitize these photos. I decided against that because I already have the photos and I already have so many photos in my online photo album. It would be less complicated and far less time consuming just to physically organize what I already have.

This is a very big container and it was filled to the brim!
Here is a laundry basket full of photos.
I should have shot this from the side so you could see the depth of the basket to better tell how much there is here. Of course I have been finding little caches of photos in cupboards, closets and cabinets to add to the stack!

The next decision was how exactly to do it. Should I scrapbook them (oh hell no) or perhaps put them in photo albums? I thought about the cardboard shoe box type photo boxes but ultimately I did what any sane person would do. I googled it. After a quick search, I decided to go with plastic boxes that contain other smaller plastic boxes that you place your photos in by year. This is perfect for keeping photos safe from flooding or water damage. But where to find these boxes? I started with the “easy” answer and hopped on to amazon, where I found this beauty for $25.99.

However, I did not order it because I knew I would be out running errands that day and being the frugal person that I am, I thought I would take a look around first. The errands were local and I didn’t want to venture too far, so ended up at our local Walmart. I found an excellent option for just $10. It was a large plastic box with clip closure which contained 5 smaller boxes, perfect for 4X6 photos. Each smaller box holds about 250 photos, so the entire box holds approximately 1,250 photos. I bought 4 of them, thinking with 5,000 photos, that might enough – or at least I would be off to a good start.

I started by taking just one basket full of photos upstairs and began sorting through them. About a quarter of the photos had the date printed on the back or front. That made those easy to place. The rest became a guessing game. If my kids were in the photo, I could “guesstimate” how old they were pretty accurately and figure out the year based on their birthdays. I also know my niece Michelle was born 20 years after myself and I know how far apart she is from her two sisters. So I would determine Michelle’s age with the help of looking at her sisters for reference to date the photo.

Of course, physical clues helped as well. I would try to remember, what years we were in a certain house or office or what year we took a specific trip. It is a time consuming process and I felt like yelling “Jackpot!” every time there was an actual date on the photo. That being said, it hasn’t been as onerous as I anticipated. In fact, it’s been rather pleasant, giving me the opportunity to look at photos from when my girls were small, photos in some cases, I hadn’t revisited in years. I put on the Hallmark Channel and grabbed a cup of chocolate peppermint coffee and started sorting. It was easy to slip down the rabbit hole and linger a little too long over a photo or two. But it’s been quite a lovely way to spend a few afternoons.

As you probably guessed, I ran out of boxes. I needed to run errands in a neighboring community and decided to stop at their Walmart to pick up the same boxes. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same ones. They did have these, which were at a much better price point than amazon. They were just $14.99. I bought two.

While I was out, I checked Michael’s just for comparison sake, and came across something very similar here, the dimensions are the same, but a much different price point, $41.99. I think I got the better deal.

I will say hindsight is 20/20. If I were to do it again, I would insist on getting all the same type of boxes. As I’m filling up the small plastic cases, I am labeling them with the year. However, some years require more than one box. That’s something I found out late in the game. My recommendation is to get all the same type of boxes, label them with a sticky note with the date until you are entirely done with the process. At that point, permanently affix the year on the box. Having used both types of boxes, the colored ones are prettier, but as I have so many photos, I think the clear with blue interior boxes work better for my project. There are fewer boxes but each box holds more.

When I was looking online, another source indicated that it was smart to take your photos out of the magnetic type photo albums as your photos can degrade. (Protip: You can thread dental floss behind the photo to remove it if it is sticking to the page.) I haven’t decided yet if I will be doing this, as I have a ton of photo albums. On the plus side, they are all dated so it would be an easy process to store them in the correct box. I will however, be putting the girls’ larger dance and school photos into albums.

I am deep into the process, but still have a long way to go. On the plus side, once I am done, I will never need to do this again, as nowadays all of our photos are digital! IN fact, archiving physical photos probably isn’t something anyone under 30 will every need to worry about. Not sure how much time this week I’ll have to tackle this as we have Thanksgiving, a Lions football game and I have jury duty on Wednesday (dang-right before Thanksgiving) of this week. Right now, I am going to grab that cup of coffee and sift through a few more photos. I will leave you with a couple of my sweet memories from when my girls were small and the hope that this Thanksgiving you make a few photo-worthy memories of your own. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Week 24: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Monday again? Guess what? We closed on our Florida house! It’s been a busy week getting everything scheduled for when we head down sometime this week. We are meeting with various trades to further customize our home. Furniture delivery happens the day before we arrive, though not all furniture is in yet. They are so used to snowbirds down there, they even have a service that actually accepts delivery and sets up your furniture for you so when you arrive, your home is furnished and ready to go! So excited to see the what everything looks like all pulled together. My husband Mike and I will need to divide and conquer with him doing most of the tradespeople meetings while I am out shopping for towels, linens, dishes, kitchenware, and other essentials. I will be relying on my friend Kim’s help and expertise as she has already been through this process and has done a stellar job with her own home. I promise to post a few pics of our house in progress. Wish us luck on getting everything we’d like to accomplish done in the few days we’re there.

Progress reports on one of our last house modernization projects; the back entryway. The wallpaper is stripped and the trim is painted. As far as wallpapering, I have the wallpaper and supplies but will need some uninterrupted time to start on the task. Besides stripping the walls and painting the trim, I am working to clear out the closet of old coats, scarves, etc which I will donate. I also cleaned the grout with a product called Magic grout cleaner. It worked pretty well, though it didn’t completely lift all the staining. I would say it is 95% improved. We had ordered a bench for the back entryway from Grandin Road which arrived broken. I am happy to report customer service for Grandin Road was amazing. They sent someone to pick up the broken bench the next day and two days later the replacement was on my front porch. I will post pictures of the whole project when it is complete.

This product worked pretty well. I would recommend it. It does require letting it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a nylon brush.

Duolingo continues with an 801 day streak. I was delighted to hit the 800 day mark! French class is underway and I’ve purchased the second book Alter Ego A2. We have almost finished our first book and the semester ends in a few weeks. I am really enjoying the challenge of orally conversing in French. I am still working on overcoming my “stage fright” when asked a question. It’s definitely a process.

I am at 49 work outs on my Nordictrack, almost up to my 50 workout goal. A migraine slowed down this week’s progress. This week I did a studio interval workout and a walk through the Scottish Highlands with Scottish actor Graham Mctavish (The Hobbit). This was the first time that a walk was conducted by a celebrity rather than an actual trainer. I am still concentrating on walking programs rather than running. However the studio interval incorporated a slow but tolerable intermittent jog that was manageable. Noom continues, 7 pounds down 6weeks in. My clothes are more comfortable and I am trying to be patient through this process. Only 3 more pounds to goal!

A nice stroll through the Scottish highlands to see a waterfall.

Meditation, affirmation, visualization and short yoga stretches continue. I am still using the app Headspace for Meditation. I look forward to talking more about working on our family lineage through Ancestry.com. I will go more in depth with that on another post.

The new to us restaurant we went to this month is Griffin Claw Brewery in Birmingham. We were looking for a place to eat after attending the Lions game with friends. It was a special game because it was a “Crucial Catch” game, honoring cancer patients, survivors, those who have passed and caregivers. As I’ve mentioned before, my daughters are both Lions Cheerleaders and they were dancing in honor of their Grandfather Les. It was very moving for us. I know their Grandpa Les would have been so proud of them both. So, we were looking for somewhere to relax and share a meal with our daughter Jenna, her husband Kristianth, our daughter Samantha and her boyfriend Andrew, his lovely parents and his good friend Jacob. We considered a few places before settling on Griffin Claw Brewery in Birmingham. They were busy but able to accommodate our party of 9. They offer outdoor seating with heaters and a fire pit along with indoor high tops, tables for 4, and long picnic tables pushed together. We were lucky to snag a picnic table for our group. They specialize in their own beers, offering seasonal brews as well as specialty releases. I passed on the beer and ordered the Apple Harvest Salad which featured apple slices, turnips, greens, goat cheese, sugared walnuts with Balsamic dressing on the side. Our group had a variety of orders ranging from shrimp tacos, burger and fries, jambalaya, macaroni and cheese, grilled chicken sandwich, with appetizers of fried pickles and pretzels with mustard dipping sauce. I may have missed a couple in there but everyone enjoyed their meals. They all came out at roughly the same time and everything was hot on arrival. This is a very noisy, lively place and great for after a sporting event. If you are looking for a quiet place for a private conversation, this is not it. I would definitely recommend it for a fun evening and will return if the opportunity presents itself.

The girls with the sign they held up during their dedication dance in honor of their grandpa.
Sammi acting as my model in front of Griffin Claw Brewery. You can see the outdoor seating directly behind her to the right.

Item #18: Finish 50 books in 2019. I finished the book “After the Flood.” I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it. I am currently reading book # 63 “An Anonymous Girl” by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. So far, I am really enjoying it. Here is something not on my bucket list but I feel like I need to give it a shout out. If you haven’t seen the Netflix Series The Blacklist, do yourself a favor and check it out! It has seven seasons and we are only part way through season 1 and we are riveted! If you do check it out (or are already a fan) I’d love to know what you think!

Bonjour, mes amis! That’s all for this week. I look forward to sharing more about our Florida house next week. Make it a great week and see you all next month. (YIKES! It’s almost November!)

Week 22: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties-Capsule Wardrobe Edition

Fall from my backyard.

Is it even fall if I haven’t pulled out the sweaters and hit up the local cider mill for warm donuts and fresh apple cider? Well, yep, I guess it is. Mother nature is in complete disregard of my personal time table as the temperature has indeed cooled and the leaves are all glorious. I’ll have to check going to the cider mill off of my fall list soon before the temperature tumbles too much for it to be enjoyable.

But in the vein of fall, I have come up with a favorite fall cocktail (#14), which I made for my husband. It’s apple cider (sadly purchased from the grocery store) mixed with two shots of Disaronno. I rimmed the glass with caramel and crystalized sugar. He gives it two thumbs up! Perfect for watching football or those cool fall evenings.

Apple Cider and Disaronnno – a perfect fall combo!

I am going to be updating a few items. You may have noticed I haven’t been reporting much on item #3, “Do fifty random acts of kindness throughout the year.” I have been doing a few things that I haven’t reported on because sometimes it’s not necessarily my business to share. Besides, it’s nice to fly under the radar and to do things without “getting credit” for them. But, as the holidays approach, I’ll ramp it up a little and do a few things that I feel comfortable sharing, just in case it might inspire someone else to do a similar act of kindness.

I am not sure when I will be able to do a 5k. Right now I am struggling with hip flexor issues. I do exercises to strengthen that area (when I remember). I still hope to accomplish it, even if I end up walking most of it. It hasn’t stopped me from working out on the NordicTrack and I have completed 44 workouts of my 50 workout goal. This week was a zebra safari in South Africa, a walk through Hawaii past the Kona Ironman starting line for the run/swim and a walk through a petrified forest in Argentina. I still really enjoy doing this in addition to my 3 day a week bootcamp.

I made a couple new dishes this week but neither was share-worthy. They both came from Noom, Old World Goulash, which tasted a bit bland and apple cider glazed pork loin which sounded awesome, but disappointed in flavor. I will only share successes for recipes that Mike and I both enjoyed.

Speaking of Noom, I am still using it and though progress seems slow, I am indeed progressing. I completed 4 weeks this past Friday and am down 5 pounds. I am half way to my goal so I’m not complaining! It’s been fun reading encouraging and enlightening articles and trying new recipes and Mike’s been very supportive throughout the process. If you want to check Noom out for yourself, here is the link.

Now that we are turning to more indoor activities, I have started on item # 21, “Complete the complicated puzzle that my husband Mike bought me.” This is a wooden puzzle he purchased at a specialty shop in Denver. After working on it for 15 minutes I was left trying to decide if it was supposed to be a present or penance. The pieces are all laser cut, and made of wood. There are only a few obvious edges; points and pieces come together to make a lot of the edge instead of pieces that are flat on one side. I started it Friday. Mike has also been known to fit more than a few pieces. In fact, we’ve even made a fair amount of progress since this photo was snapped. It’s actually a fun challenge and I ultimately decided it is really an awesome present. I will report progress in the future, but this may take a while!

Challenging but fun!
Many of the pieces are shaped unusually, or like birds, people or flowers. You’d think that would make it easier. Not so much.
I love this puzzle board I bought from Amazon. As much as I love doing puzzles, it bothers me to leave it out on the table when I am no longer working on it, like when we’re expecting company. This allows me to store it and pull it back out when I am ready to work on it without losing my progress!

I’m continuing with my French class and Duolingo. I still listen to Pimsleur French V to supplement my learning and also do Duolingo flashcards and Duolingo Stories. I try to do at least a half an hour a day, usually more. I finished the Masterclass by Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale. It was awesome. I really felt that she was enjoying imparting wisdom in whatever time remains to her. In fact, she as much as said so. I also started another course by Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief at Vogue. Her course is on creativity and leadership. So much to learn, so little time!

I am still trying to do daily meditation with the Headspace App and visualization, mostly successfully. I don’t get to the meditation every day and even when I do I sometimes suffer from a wandering mind. I shall nevertheless persevere!

The last thing I want to share is I’ve started on my Florida capsule wardrobe. I purchased a few things, but mostly shopped my closet. I still will add some dresses, shoes and accessories later. My primary neutrals will be black, navy and white.

Black cropped slacks with two short sleeve options and a dressier off the shoulder long sleeve option.
Jeans with a white tea or a floral cami. The black sweater can go with most of the clothing clusters.
White cropped dress slacks with red print cami, or navy or black sleeveless tops.
Black and white checked ankle pants with white sleeveless button front top or black sleeveless dressier top.
White jeans with blush sleeveless shirt or black and white striped cami with a navy light weight open front cardigan.
Navy capris with navy/white striped sleeveless shirt, or navy cranberry patterned shirt or white sleeveless shirt.
Optional tops for the navy, white or jean bottoms.

This wardrobe of 6 bottoms, 17 tops and 2 sweaters will provide me with 81 different outfits, not including the variations the sweaters could provide. Between the two sweaters there is a sweater option for every outfit, especially important in those air conditioned Florida restaurants and malls. Almost everything goes with everything else, with the exception of the gingham pants, and even they have several options outside of their cluster. Once I’ve added shoes and accessories and throw in a few dresses, I’ll have even more options. I’m pretty pleased with the way this all came together.

Speaking of Florida, we should be closing on our house in a few weeks. We were pleasantly surprised that we are able to do this remotely. We are having our realtors do our walk through for us to add to anything the inspector may find. Looking forward to spending a little time in the sunshine, but right now I’m off to enjoy Michigan’s beautiful fall weather. Happy Fall, y’all!

Week 20: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties: The High Ropes Edition

Week twenty already? Time has been flying! It’s been a busy and productive week. So I’m going to dig right in. Let’s start with bucket-list item #4- modernizing our house. This week we had our contractor extraordinaire, Tony, back to work some magic in our laundry room. I apologize that I neglected to get a before picture. I am literally kicking myself (OUCH*&%!) It is still a work in progress but I’ll just have to describe what we’ve changed so far. We had navy blue countertops which were scratched and also had needless holes drilled from ancient appliances no longer in use. We had matching navy porcelain knobs on the cabinets and a black and cream patterned rug on the floor. The laundry tub was cream-colored plastic with a few stains and the faucet that went to it was leaking. The lazy Susan in the corner was broken and that is what kicked off the whole project because the counter top needed to come off to do the repair. So, for you moms and dads out there, it was a “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” situation. I still need to strip the wallpaper border at the top and I’m changing the paint color to Platinum by Behr (Marquee One-Coat) and ridding the top of the cabinet from all of the knick-knacks and dust-catchers. We need to repair the dryer vent anyway, so we’ll have to pull out the washer and dryer and when we do, I will start painting. I also changed out the artwork and added a drying bar across the top of the sink area. I kept the longer drying bar that hangs over the floor drain. Since pictures speak louder than words, I will post a photo showing where we are in the project. I promise to post a photo of the completed project later, though it probably won’t look too different.

This is a work in progress. The cabinet top is by Wilsonart Hi-Def in Trinidad Lapidus with a Mirage finish. Notice the knobs are still the navy. On the plus side, they match the washer and dryer, but on the minus side, several were chipped.
Waiting for paint and to remove the knick-knacks from on top of the cabinets. The knobs have been changed out and the sink and faucet replaced.
You can see the old wallpaper border which I will be removing and we will most likely be removing the devices with wires hanging down as well.
I am keeping my hide-away ironing board on the wall. I like being able to do a quick pressing out of the dryer if it is needed. We have one in our master closet as well, highly recommend.

On to this month’s recipe. It comes from Noom, the app I’ve been using to deal with item # 7, lose ten pounds. I’m four pounds down so far. It’s been a slow go but a pleasant one. I will write more on the App at a later date, once I’m further along in the process. Anyway, we’ve tried three different recipes from the App and they’ve all been delicious. Here is the recipe for Lemon Oregano Chicken. Easy and delicious, my two favorite things in a recipe.

Lemon Oregano Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 TBSP lemon juice

1 TBSP butter or trans-free margarine, melted

.75 tsp dried oregano

.5 tsp lemon pepper seasonng

.125 tsp salt

2 tsp finely chopped parsley or chives

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken in a single layering the dish. Pour the lemon juice and butter or margarine over the chicken. Sprinkle with the oregano, lemon pepper and salt.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 160 degrees F and the juices run clear.

Served drizzled with the pan juices. Sprinkle with the parsley or chives.

202 calories per serving/serves 2

Easy peasy and super delicious. My husband Mike loved it too!

That checked off #23 trying a new recipe at least 1-2x a month and # 40 use my herb garden in cooking. I used chives over the chicken and used parsley to fancy up our plates. This may be the last hurrah for that.

Served with broccoli and a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup. YUM!
Treerunner Adventure Park – high ropes course

On Saturday we set out to tackle the high ropes course again at Treerunners in West Bloomfield. Though rain appeared to threaten again, it held off and we were able to complete our adventure. The assembled team included myself, my husband Mike, daughters Jenna and Samantha as well as Jenna’s husband Kristianth. The last time we were there, as you may or may not remember, we were interrupted by a thunderstorm and were issued a raincheck. So after undergoing the mandatory refresher, we headed out to exactly where we had been when they closed down last time, the second hardest course, the black diamond. We were lucky that there was no one ahead of us so we didn’t have to wait. The black diamond WAS difficult. It required not only balance but really great upper arm strength. At this point, I should tell you that my daughters are in great shape, they are both professional NFL cheerleaders who work out daily and have awesome upper body strength. My husband works out regularly and Kristianth is no slouch either. I, on the other hand, have a bad left shoulder that gives me trouble every once in a while. I’m sure you see where this is going. At any rate, the black diamond and double black diamonds are also the highest. I have to give my husband and daughter, Sammi brownie points because they both are afraid of heights so this added a layer of difficulty for them. About 1/2 way through the course, after balancing on swinging logs which also turn on the wire (what sadist designed this course?) and making my way across using basically your upper body and a great deal of balance, I gave myself a big pat on the back only to come upon what would become my nemesis, some wooden triangles about 2 feet apart or so, suspended from a wire, or as I’ve come to refer to them, the triangles of death. I immediately became entangled and trapped with my own carabiner, enough so that a staff member hollered up, “Hey, you up there. Just go back. You are doing it wrong.” Ok, thanks for that park-wide announcement. Let me just slink back to the platform. I thought, “Nope, I’m going to do this.” So…back at the platform…, after a discussion with my daughter, I decided to tackle it a little differently. I used my trolley to zipline through the wooden triangles. Well, it was a good plan except for one thing. It really wasn’t designed for a zipline so there are no pads around the wooden post awaiting you at the other end. This would have been a good time for someone to tell me about using your glove on the wire to slow yourself down. Alas, no one had. So after being shot into the wooden post like a pile driver, I decided that there’s not much worse that could happen to me. I was wrong.

Unsuccessfully navigating the triangles of death.
Kristianth doing a stellar job of not falling.
My daughter Jenna, part monkey, part feminist, part dare-devil. That’s a lot of parts.
Samantha manages to make it look easy. It wasn’t. The logs swing while you are moving on them.
My husband. You basically monkey bar across. This one is all upper body. There is no rope to balance on. Kudos to Mike. This was one of the most challenging ones.
You had to go around the wooden posts on the wire, which made it a bit challenging. There was another one where you had to unclip and re-clip your carabiner several times to advance, while balancing on a single wire. It required even more concentration.

Once we completed the black diamond course, my high achieving family said, “Come on, let’s do the double black diamond. It’ll be fun,” they said. “You’ll like it, Mom.” Well they were half right. I liked the first half, which relied mostly on balance. When we got to the second half, which required what I consider to be an abnormal amount of upper body strength I called bull**** and tapped out. They told us in orientation, if you get stuck or want down just call “STAFF” and someone will be right over. It took all 3 of us calling for a good hour (ok, it was 5 minutes, but it SEEMED like an hour) to get the attention of a staff member who zipped on over and let Sammi, Kristianth and myself down. Mike and Jenna continued on, lunatics that they are. Even though I may be making this sound like NOT A LOT OF FUN, it actually was. From having my son-in-law ask me if I’d seen the movie “Tangled” and making me laugh while I was suspended among the tangle of triangles 50 feet about the ground (hereto referred to as “The Triangle Incident”) to cheering each other on and giving each other tips, it really WAS A LOT OF FUN! I am proud of myself and would definitely do it again, but maybe I’d start by going down a level to the blue level and just do the single black diamond next time.

Kristianth was behind me most of the way, which added a level of difficulty for me because he was constantly cracking jokes while my life is literally hanging from a wire. Funny guy, timing could be better.

After we finished the course, we headed out to grab dinner. I had done a little reconnaissance as I am watching my diet right now, determined to lose those 10 pounds menopause has so heartlessly deposited. I pre-selected Stage Deli in West Bloomfield on Orchard Lake Road for dinner. We all were all delighted with our meals. The atmosphere is upscale for a deli and the food didn’t disappoint. I was delighted to find they offered a Diet Cabbage Soup, so I ordered that to start, followed by a Monterey Salad, which had chicken, lettuce, bleu cheese, avocado, corn, crumbled tortilla chips and green onion, tomato and honey lime vinaigrette. Jenna ordered an omelette, Sammi asked for plain grilled chicken and asparagus, which wasn’t on the menu, but they happily made it for her and Mike and Kristianth had Reubens. The service was great and we all agreed we would come back if the opportunity presents. So that is my #11, try a new to us restaurant each month.

Since I had so much to share this week, I’ll keep the remaining wrap up short. I have completed the Costa Rica series on the Nordictrack and have done 40 workouts of my 50 workout goal so far. I finished reading The Testaments and am deciding on my next book. I enjoyed this sequel to The Handsmaids Tale and would recommend it for any readers out there. Duolingo and French class continue. I’ve selected a few more things for the Florida house and am essentially done with interior furniture. We still have outdoor furniture to select.

My husband is speaking in Toronto, so I’ll be tagging along. I hope to have a few pictures to share with you from that lovely city next week. Until then, may all your adventures require both feet on the ground!

Week 18: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Progress Report Edition

I can’t believe I’m a little more than one third of the way done with this journey! With summer almost in the rear-view mirror, I thought this might be a good time to take stock of where I am on the bucket-list and dive in to what remains to be accomplished! Everything that’s been highlighted has been completed. If it has an asterisk by it, it has been started but is something that is ongoing.

So I’ve completed twenty-two items on the list so far, and an additional fourteen items are ongoing. Many of the remaining items left to be done were intentionally saved as an indoor activity for cooler weather, such as organizing photos, cleaning the utility room, or baking bread for instance. I am very happy with my progress, though sad to report that #42, use the jet ski more, has probably reached it’s expiration date. The best I can hope for there is a fun day on the jet ski during summer’s last gasp or maybe early May if we get lucky with the weather and we are organized enough to have the jet ski back in the water. We’ve been traveling a lot this summer so we’ve actually not had as much time on the lake in general. There’s always next summer!

Tropical Bae : Molokai Coconut Bai with Pineapple Vodka

New items for the week included creating a cocktail for myself. I actually didn’t use Disaronno, as I had mentioned earlier. I’m tempted to create a new cocktail for each season though, so perhaps fall will bring something based with Disaronno. I am calling this cocktail Tropical Bae. It is super simple and very tasty. I simply combined Bai Molokai Coconut Antioxidant drink with New Amsterdam Pineapple Vodka. It was the perfect summer drink! Bai only has 5 calories a serving, so it’s a little easier on your waistline than some of the sweet and fruity cocktails and oh so very yummy! What the heck, I may even drink this in winter when I am yearning for summer weather, cue up the Jimmy Buffet.

I am continuing with Nordictrack, French Class, Duolingo, meditation, visualization and weekly yoga, though the search for a class continues. I have started working on # 7, lose ten pounds. I am using the Noom App and so far so good. It’s only day #4, so I will keep you all posted and give you more information on it if I continue with it after my two week trial. I hesitated to start because we still have a few trips ahead of us, but there is never a perfect time to start so why not start now! I also want to mention a fun read I just finished by Sophie Kinsella, “My Not So Perfect Life.” It was a funny and engaging read, just as we’ve come to expect from this author. I am currently reading “We Were The Lucky Ones,” a novel relating the experiences of a a Jewish family separated at the beginning of WWII, based on a true story. A much different book, but historical fiction is my jam so, despite the tough subject matter, I am enjoying it.

I am also excited that my husband and I will be heading down to Florida to check on the status of the house we are building. I hope to start working on #16, decorate our Florida house, while we are down there. Well, at least I’ll be taking measurements and doing some furniture shopping. We should be able to get a handle on closing dates soon. We are so thankful to our dear friends, Dave and Kim, who have helped us every step of the way. We are beyond grateful and are looking forward to being Florida neighbors!

In other items, I’ve started cleaning out our storage areas. I’ve taken photos of some furniture that we’ve been holding on to, and put it up on Facebook Marketplace. I have used this before with great success, though so far, it’s been two days and no bites. I am also going through my daughter’s closets to see what they’ve left behind and what they still want to hang on to so I can clear out some space. There’s still quite a bit to do. So far, two big bags are headed for the Salvation Army. The storage room will be next up.

I have to thank my friend Kelley for reaching out with suggestions on ways to use my herbs. She suggested making herb butter by mixing softened butter with chopped herbs ( any combination) then place either in ice cube trays or make into small balls and freeze. Once frozen transfer to a ziplock or freezer safe container. You can use it to added richness to sauces or place on top of cooked steak/ fish/ potatoes/ pasta. It makes a great finish. She also suggested making an herb vinegar. Start by getting a pretty bottle with a stopper, one that can fit in your fridge. Fill the bottle with herbs. Keep them whole and on stem as they are easier to remove and look beautiful. Then fill the bottle with white vinegar. Let it sit in your refrigerator for at least week. Use on salads or warm greens. You can keep topping off the bottle with additional vinegar to keep this going for months. Note: herbs must be fully covered by vinegar or they will start to mold. As long as you are using smaller amounts it is easy to top off and still keep the great herb infusion. These are awesome ideas. I will try to post photos if I am able to make either of these. As you can see from my photos below, one pot is thriving but the second pot with the basil plant appears to be on it’s last legs. The stems have become woody which can make the leaves bitter. They aren’t yet, but I fear they soon will be. I will need to get to harvesting right away. Thanks to Kelley for these awesome ideas!

Mint, Cilantro and chives still looking good.
The basil stalks have gotten a bit woody as the plant bloomed during out last trip. I need to harvest the basil before it’s too bitter.

I am so grateful to everyone that has followed along for any or all of this journey, and especially to those that have reached out to me with ideas or simply words of encouragement. This blog started as a means of accountability for myself and I have to say it has added so much fun and adventure to the inevitability of becoming sixty. As John Barrymore said, “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” I intend to keep on dreaming and I hope you do too. Until next week.

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 clichĂ© 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 14: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Bonjour mes amis (my friends) and welcome to week 14 of my quest to check off fifty items before I turn 60 next year. (Have I said YIKES! already?) I really am curious as to whether I will be able to complete them all. The clock is ticking towards summer’s final days and I still have a few warm weather items left to complete, all for the sweet reward of a simple check mark.

Well let’s see how I did this week. I would say, all in all, I am well satisfied! In continuing items, Mike and I made it to a new restaurant for the month of August. For my Belleville friends, we tried out Shakers Bar and Grill on Canton Center road, very near Antonio’s Cuccina Italiana. I was surprised at the extensive and creative cocktail menu and draft selections. They offered various labels of rum, tequilas, cognacs or vodkas. I opted for a glass of a German Urban Reisling. The menu was varied and Mike and I both enjoyed our selections, his being a pepperoni flatbread and mine, California grilled chicken breast, with bacon, Swiss , avocado, poppyseed honey mustard over greens with savory coconut ginger rice and roasted vegetables. They offered quite a few gluten free options, such as lemon butter grilled North Atlantic salmon or sweet chili chicken breast and a nice selection of steaks. They also have pizza! Portion size was good and service was very good as well. You can dine inside or outside on the patio. Cheers to finding another nearby restaurant to add to our list of favorites.

Outdoor seating area with space heaters for those cooler evenings.
Cheers to new places!

Moving on to French. French class for the summer semester continues but is ending at the end of August. I have already enrolled for the Fall semester. Summer classes start and end later and have been 2 hours long (7:30-9:30). I much prefer the earlier start of Fall classes and the shorter duration (7:00-8:30pm). I am also very grateful to our teacher David, who is from France and helps us in a friendly way that keeps us laughing together at mistakes and helps us to not take everything so seriously. As we progress, he moves along with the class as our teacher. I will say classes make all the difference because there is a certain immediacy to having to formulate a verbal response to a question that just doesn’t happen while listening to Pimsleur language learning CDs or using Duolingo. Speaking of Duolingo, I achieved my 2 year streak! For anyone unfamiliar with Duolingo, it is a free language learning app. They offer several languages. I have it set to a medium setting, primarily because I intended to go for a long streak. The medium setting allows for a moderately short time commitment which allows me to complete it even when traveling. Otherwise, on an average day, I usually exceed it by a little or a lot. For those familiar with Duolingo, I am at a crown level of 947. I have completed the entire tree as well as all of the stories and listened to all of their podcasts. I still review several categories each day using their Practice option to stay sharp. I’ve also continued to supplement my learning by re-listening to Pimsleur French V CDs in my car. To cap off achieving my two year streak, I watched a movie in French (item #45) and now that I’ve discovered Netflix offers a menu of French speaking films, I believe I will be taking advantage of this much more often. Merci to Amber, a friend of my daughter Samantha, for that little nugget! Much appreciated! The movie I watched was Cèzanne et Moi (Cezanne and Me). I enjoyed it though I certainly didn’t pick up on all of the dialogue, catching a few words and phrases at best without looking at the closed captions. It was great to hear the language spoken with passion and the appropriate inflections that language learners sometimes lack. The film was an historical drama released in 2017, which at times resembled the beautiful paintings of the Provence countryside the artist was so well-known for. I would recommend this film even if you aren’t studying French. It was a visual treat!

I enjoyed this historical drama. If you are an art lover or love foreign films, this one is for you!

In other good news, our house Florida is well underway! The windows are in and the drywall has been delivered. We are a few steps closer to furnishing it and have scheduled a Florida visit in September with great thanks to our dear friends Dave and Kim. They are our neighbors both here in Michigan and soon in Florida. We fell in love with this area when they invited us down for a visit. With their help and encouragement our vacation home will soon be a short walk away from theirs!

Who is this male model demonstrating that our new window is in?
View from the back.

And the big thing we accomplished this week was bucket list item #32, riding our bikes from Lower Huron Metro Park all the way to Lake Erie Metropark and back, a 40 mile round trip. We left at 8:30, later than we’d hoped but early enough to beat most of the crowd. We saw lots of wildlife along the way. The trip involves primarily bike trails spanning three metro parks, but there is a stretch, and really, a rather dangerous one along surface streets, which sometimes lacked shoulders or had very poorly maintained shoulders requiring a quick dart out into the well-traveled road (after looking carefully of course) due to a pothole, loose gravel, or enormous puddles.

Ready to head out!

Along the park trails, we saw plenty of wildlife: bunnies, birds, herons and assorted water fowl. Here’s a link to some awesome footage of what I believe to be a heron sitting along the shoreline of Lake Erie. We suspect there was a nest nearby because she was reluctant to leave at first, allowing Mike to creep pretty close to her before she headed out in flight only to alight a few feet further down the shoreline. https://youtu.be/HvqfK85lQ7c And despite earlier forecasts, the weather was perfect! With a mile to go before completing the trip, we made a pit stop for lunch by taking the trail that leads in to Flat Rock. We went for a late breakfast at Tony’s Coney. The ride itself took just short of 4 hours. I thought I would have back issues because I injured myself doing an Ab challenge earlier in the week (don’t ask). But no, my back is fine. What I did do was injure my hip flexor. As a matter of fact, I am writing this with an ice pack in place. Maybe these injuries are my body’s way of saying, “Sit the f*** down. You’re old now.” Nevertheless, however stupidly, I persist. One thing for sure, getting older is not for sissies. I have to give credit to my husband for being such a good sport. He’s not only been an enthusiastic supporter of mine, but a willing participant and even more remarkably, he never seems to get injured while participating in these bucket list tasks. As an extra perk for me, he is an excellent photographer and allows me to use a few of his photos or videos if I ask very nicely. He’s also a proof-reader extraordinaire! I’m a pretty lucky girl. He’s also handsome. hehe (hmmm…looks like someone’s been busy “proofreading” here.)

View from a small park we drove through in Flat Rock.
Mike at the bridge, about 1/3 of the way in on our journey.
We made it all the way to Lake Erie!
Tony’s a great little breakfast spot for a biking break.

In a further update, all of the ongoing things I said I would do, I’ve done: meditation, affirmation, yoga, reading a book, among other things. I am currently reading The Devil in the White City, by Eric Lawson, book # 47 for me. I am about 1/2 way through and really enjoying it. By the way, I have been loving Overdrive, the library app that lets you borrow books. I am saving a bundle and it’s enabled me to already be rounding home on my 50 book goal goal! I’m 31 work outs in on my 50 work out goal on the Nordic Track. My new favorite is Walk The World, taking on the beaches and forests of Costa Rica, a lovely country with the “Pura Vida” philosophy. I’d love to get back there one day, but for now, virtually will have to do!

Enjoying this excellent read so far!

This post has gotten rather long so I’ll end here. I am very excited for my next post because by then my daughter and I will have jumped out of a perfectly good plane. I look forward to telling you all about what I hope will be a thrilling experience! Ah, the things I’ll do for a checkmark. Until next week, friends!

Week 12: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Good morning from Michigan’s upper peninsula, where the drinks are cold and the internet is spotty. We are up in Cedarville for the week, renting cabins with extended family and friends. I hope to have more to share about it and a few more bucket list items to check off next week. Since I am on vacation, this will be short and sweet.

Prior to heading out, I did manage to check off item # 44 on my bucket list. I took Kobe to North Bay Park near our home for a nature walk. This is a lovely little gem on Ford Lake with a wooden boardwalk that goes through the lake and wetlands, perfect for viewing water fowl and wildlife. Kobe loved it and I hope to get back there with him at least one more time this year.

Kobe ready to tackle the trail!
Scenes from the boardwalk.
Loosestrife growing amongst cattails.
Ducks on a log
The boardwalk in the water. You can see a viewing platform in the distance which we didn’t climb as Kobe has difficulty with steps.

We also had our contractor Tony back out to replace some cracked thresholds and tiles in our foyer (Bucket list item #4). We were lucky to still have some tile stored from when we built the house 20 years ago. I was a little worried the new grout lines would be obvious but we thought we’d go this route first, and if we didn’t like the results we’d rip it out and select new tile. But we were fortunate and Tony did a masterful job. It’s hard to distinguish between new and old grout. Can you tell?

Can you tell where the replacement tiles are?

Despite our spotty internet connection, my Duolingo streak remains intact at 719 days. French classes restarted last week. Since I’m up North, this week, I’ll be following along remotely. I’ve finished John Grisham’s new book, The Reckoning. It was pretty good. Now I am on to the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I am on book #44 of my 50 book challenge, which puts me 14 books ahead of schedule, a comfortable enough lead to let me tackle the last book in the Poldark series after this. Update on skydiving, it’s been rescheduled for August 25th due to my daughter’s work conflict. We are looking forward to tackling this together.

If you’ve lived in Michigan for any time, you know “going up North” is what one does for vacation, or at the very least for a long weekend. We are at Spring Lodge, in some cute little cabins along the lake in the Les Cheneaux area. Les Cheneaux means “the channels” in French. There are a series of islands which form long channels, thus despite being one of the Great Lakes, these smaller channels are calmer, making them perfect for boating and water sports. Our family has been coming up since my girls, now in their twenties, were little. My daughter has even named her dogs Mackinac and Cheneaux. As we’ve been coming up to this area for so long, it can be difficult to find something new to do. Castle rock? Check. Mackinac Island? Check. Mystery spot? Check. Soo Locks? Check. The list goes on. But after widening the circle a bit, I believe we will be heading out sometime this week where I will tackle bucket list item # 25 -take a day trip to somewhere we’ve not been before while in Les Cheneaux. I hope to share some awesome photos with you.

Well that’s it for this week. I know I put down my cold drink down somewhere. I’m off to find it. Either that or a nice nap. Cheers!

View from our front porch. Notice the water level is so high, many of the docks are under water. Ours is o.k. because they built a second level above the waterline.
Lakeside view
Another beautiful sunset.

Week 11: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – The Bathroom Edition

Hello on this beautiful Monday. I am not sure what the weather is doing but it is a beautiful Monday to me because my bathroom is done! There are no painters, plumbers, contractors or workers of any kind. As nice as they all are, it’s great to have our home all to ourselves again! In fact I think I’ll do a celebratory lap in my jammies!

So this edition, week 11, will primarily focus on our bathroom reveal. Our home is 21 years old and the bathroom is original to the house. The before photos don’t show it well, but the tile was cracked in spots and the space was in need of a general update. Our contractor Tony did a great job from start to finish and I would happily recommend him without reservation. He was honest, hardworking and always showed up on time. He was also priced fairly. We really felt lucky! We are delighted with the way it turned out. This bathroom is used as our back-up bathroom when time is tight and we both need to shower and it also serves as a guest bathroom. We had a new steam sauna installed. Our old one had been broken for quite a while, so we are really looking forward to putting that sauna to good use. So here are a few before and after photos.

Surprisingly, we found this vanity at Lowes and it was exactly what we had in mind. It came with the sink and marble vanity top. We decided to eliminate the wall mirrors and just place one individual mirror above the vanity.
I stripped off the wallpaper (not fun) and we opted for wainscoting along the walls with a tile border running around the room. It also serves as a backsplash to the vanity.
We opted for a rain shower and a hand held shower. We had a niche built in for bath products.
Side view entering from the guest room.
Hand-held shower in addition to rain shower and bench for using the steam sauna.

I scoured Instagram for quite a while to collect all the bathroom images I liked and looked for commonalities between the photos to help make decisions. We opted to go from a beige palate to a gray and green palate to coordinate with our recent basement remodel. The green in the photo actually doesn’t translate well. Our paint color was Seasalt from Sherwin Williams with Extra-white for trim and wainscoting. Our tile is a linen-look from Virginia tile with coordinating Agate Bari Pearl with variations for trim and shower floor. Our plumbing fixtures were from Builders Plumbing and Heating Supply and Ferguson Plumbing, both in Ann Arbor. Now that it is complete, I am so happy we undertook the project. It took 3 1/2 weeks from start to finish but that includes a week where nothing was done, the contractor was finished but we were waiting for the painter and shower door. The shower door had to be custom made due to sizing, and was done by Mirror Image. The artwork on the wall adjacent to the vanity was a watercolor we purchased years ago in Saugatuck, which I had re-matted in gray. I found the Bless Our Nest mixed media piece at Bed Bath and Beyond. If you want any names of people or products, don’t hesitate to reach out.

So, that’s a wrap for our bathroom redo! But because owning a house provides a revolving carousel of never-ending projects, our next few undertakings will be having our wood floors refinished and replacing the laundry room countertop. Onward and upward.

In other news, I have found THE wine! Many thanks to Amanda, a member of my husband’s office team, for sending it my way! I have been trying wines from Italy, France, California and Washington, but I should have known that deep down I am a Michigan girl at heart. This 2016 Muscat is from Shady Lane Cellars located in Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. It’s described as elegant and fresh with aromas and flavors of orange and apple blossoms, tangerine and a clean vibrant finish. It is not too sweet and strikes just the right crisp note for my palate. I still love me some Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling but this will provide a nice alternative when I’m not in the mood for sweet. I enjoyed it with barbecue chicken, fresh corn and a salad made with produce from our local farm-stand (shout out to Budd’s Produce). And as a further bonus, I know I will always remember the name of this wine because my family nickname is Lane. I find it pretty humorous or perhaps poetic justice that its name is Shady Lane. I believe I can confidently check off item # 46 on my list (find a new favorite wine) I also believe I see a road trip up to Shady Lane Cellars in my future!

Shady Lane Muscat
Chicken was still on the grill while we enjoyed yummy salad and corn from Budd’s Produce in Belleville. Shady Lane Muscat was the perfect accompaniment to this summer meal.

Moving on, my Duolingo streak remains intact at 712 days. French class resumes after summer hiatus on Monday. I’m still meditating using the Headspace app. I’ve even tried a walking meditation which I liked. I’ve done yoga using my Nordic Track and I’ve managed to squeeze in a total of 30 workouts on my way to 50, including a walk along a Hawaiian beach, and a stroll through both Antarctica and Vienna. I am way ahead of schedule. I’ve read a few more books (Unsheltered, Year One, The Education of Dixie Dupree). Very different reads but all were enjoyable. I am currently reading John Grisham’s new book, The Reckoning, which will be book #43. I am 84% of the way to my goal of 50 for the calendar year, and 14 books ahead of schedule. This will give me a cushion when I dive back into the last book in the Poldark Series, which is entails reading 688 pages of very small print and always seems to slow me down!

We are getting close to the debut of our dog Kobe’s new tricks. (yes, I said tricks with an s!) Turns out you CAN teach an old dog a new trick …or two! In looking over my list, there are still quite a few things that can ONLY be done in warmer weather, so I need to keep plugging away at them. We head up north next week where I hope to check a few more items off of my bucket list and take a few photos of the lovely upper peninsula to share with all of you. Make it a great and productive week and like Kobe, why not challenge yourself to try something new this week too? As always, if you want to check out the original bucket list here is a link to the blog post. Make it a great week. Now where’d I leave that wine glass?

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