NYC, Detroit & weekend recap

Last week I was in New York City for work, and it was a busy/quick trip.  But, I did find the time to see Big Fish on Broadway with my boss. I love musicals, so I’m glad it worked out.  The usual star of Big Fish was off that night, so we saw Ben Crawford as Edward Bloom. The ending was very sweet and I cried, as usual.  I cry at commercials sometimes, so it only takes a bit to get me going! My hotel this visit was in SoHo. I took a walk around the block in the early evening on Thursday and found a bakery/coffee shop called The Frog’s Crown. The staff person working told me to try their coconut latte.  They make their own coconut milk blend in-house, that I might experiment with at home to recreate. Very yummy!

Frogs Crown Just around the corner was Anthropologie, my favorite “chain” store. Their sale section at this SoHo location was huge. I saw a couple of purple Rivulets Quilts on sale for half off. I wasn’t sure on the color and it would not be easy to bring it home with me since I flew Spirit Airlines.  They charge for every bag, it is insane. But it was a great price on one of their very popular items. Anthro I got home from NYC on Friday and spent the weekend enjoying this little guy. Lucas Tigers Hat

When I picked him up from “school” aka, daycare on Friday he said “my miss you mommy”. Aw, melt my heart.  I missed him too. Saturday mornings Lucas has a class that he takes which introduces the kids to all different types of sports.  This week it was parachutes and balance beams.  After sports class, we stopped at the local fire station because they were having an open house for fire prevention week.  It was like a convention for 2-5 year old boys.  There were so many kids!  Lucas has seen fire trucks up close a few times this year. But he has never held a fire hose, until NOW! With help from Daddy and the fireman, of course:

Fire Hose 1 Fire Hose 2 Just look at that little smile!  He is thrilled… Fire Hose 3 Fire Hose 4


The fire helmet Lucas is wearing was purchased at a Halloween store in the area. Lucas had worn a helmet he received at another fire house event earlier in the summer, but it was cracked and broken. We decided to get him something a little more sturdy. The cashier who checked us out at the Halloween store told me that he was also works as a firefighter with the Detroit Fire Department. He works two jobs because his salary as a firefighter is not enough. He said that the DFD would love to put on events for kids and give helmets, coloring books, etc. but they just don’t have the budget. That conversation has stuck with me over the past few weeks.  I thought of him when we were at this event at the Canton Fire Department over the weekend.

Detroit Police are actually telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“. The documentary Burn shows an up close look at what the Detroit Fire Department is dealing with in our declining city. There are so many stories to read about Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.  The question the day is Detroit eligible for bankruptcy?

Where I live in the suburbs of Detroit things feel different. We are isolated from the city and carry on with our own lives continuing to distance ourselves.  My family and friends are moving away to places like Washtenaw, Oakland and Livingston counties. I want my son to have a safe, warm and educational upbringing. Detroit is not a place where that can happen now. Did you know the murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City? The violent crime rate is 5 times higher than the national average.

I read statistics like this and feel saddened, but yet curious about a solution.  How can we help Detroit? What does it take?

Brick pile

I am in New York City this week for some meetings at work, but I am dying to know what is going on back in Michigan at the new house. Before I left for my trip, the house was looking like this


7 Oct

Do you see that pile of bricks in front?  Those will cover the foundation and porch. I’m excited to see how far along they are when I get home tomorrow.

Little fireman at the Henry Ford Museum

Lucas’ grandma watches him on Mondays and Tuesdays while I am at work.  He goes to daycare the rest of the week. Today Lucas and Grandma took a little field trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Lucas insisted on wearing his fireman coat, hat and boots to the museum:

fireman lucas

The Henry Ford Museum has a large area dedicated to automobiles, naturally! Grandma texted me a couple of photos throughout the visit.  The museum has an interactive exhibit that allows kids to practice taking care of the cars. Here’s Lucas under the hood, checking out the fluid levels:

Lucas Henry Ford Car 2

And it seems his fire hat needed to go back on for this part of the inspection:

Lucas Henry Ford

I’m sure we’ll be back again soon to visit the cars.  Next time, I hope I can come too!

PS- can anyone guess what Lucas will be for Halloween?

Ann Arbor Cooks

For our third anniversary, we celebrated by taking a cooking class on Friday night at Ann Arbor Cooks. I love cooking, but am pretty much self-taught and watch way too much Food Network. I’ve wanted to take a real live cooking class for a while and I’m so glad that we did!


There were about 16 people in our class, which started with a demo from one of the chefs on staff.  After the demo, we cooked our three course meals in pairs.  All in all, we were there for about 3.5 hours.

I’m a new blogger and need to get the balance of being in the moment versus snapping as many photos as I can. So my apologies for not taking more detailed photos.  We sure had a good time if that counts for anything!

Here’s what we cooked for dinner:

Simple Fall Greens Salad with Dijon & Red Wine Vinaigrette and Garlic-Toasted Baguette Croutons


The greens were baby kale and we made our own salad dressing.  I learned that traditional vinaigrettes are usually one part vinegar to three parts oil.  However, our instructor prefers hers to be more half and half, so that is how we made ours too. Baking our own croutons in the oven was super easy and worth the effort (croutons are missing from this photo, oops!)

For the main course we had Boeuf Bourguignon with Pearl Onions and Mushrooms with Herb-Roasted Root Vegetables


The stew was fun to make because we got to light some cognac on fire during the process! Still considering whether we can try that at home? Sort of scary.  Also, I officially love brussels sprouts now but only if they are roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper.

And for desert we made Apple Tarte Tatin and our instructor made vanilla bean ice cream for us to enjoy with our tartes.


The puff pastry was pre-made, but I learned how to make caramel which is incredibly easy.

We are going to try to re-create this meal at home in the next few weeks, so I’ll post full recipes with more detailed pictures then.

Blue & Orange Toddler Boy Room

Big Boy Room Collage

(start upper left, clockwise)

Starburst Wood Mirror– is also from Target. It originally retailed for $49, but I got it on sale over the summer for just $15. Source.

Light– looks industrial and will swap out easily for the builder grade ceiling fixture. Source.

Airplane Propeller– such cute décor item for a boy. This one pictured is from Restoration Hardware and way out of my budget. I found something similar at Homegoods, but unfortunately don’t have a photo to link to just yet. Source.

Inspiration room photo– I saw this on Pinterest many moons ago and just loved it so much it was my inspiration for pulling together Lucas’ big boy room. Source unknown.

Mid-Century Bed- we bought this for Lucas at the Pottery Barn outlet over the summer. It is a West Elm bed and normally retails for $699. I paid just $150 because it was a floor sample and was missing a few pieces of hardware. Source.

Rugby Striped Quilt– I ordered this from Creative Seams on Etsy. The quilter, Jill, is from Ann Arbor and makes just about any color combination you can dream up. Source.

Orange Link Ottoman/Pouf– I found this at Wal-Mart actually and was surprised to see an ottoman like this for under $30. Perfect for a kids room! Source.

National Parks Map- is adorable and has stickers to mark off the places you’ve been. Lots of fun for a little boy. ElloThere on Etsy has a great version.  Source.

Airplane Pillow– very boyish and affordable on Etsy. Source.

Modern bed sheets– are from Target and are currently on sale! I am thinking about picking up an extra set before they sell out. Source.




We have a roof on our house! I drove by this morning and they had the packages of shingles sitting on top. When I came back again this evening, they had made it this far:


3 Oct back

I am very excited about the color. The shingles are Mystique by Building Products of Canada in the color Rustic Cedar. The sample looked more red-brown and I was actually having some anxiety about if it would be too red. In person, the color looks more gray-brown so it is perfect. Our builder recommended rustic cedar to pair with our siding choice and I’m really glad we listened to him now.

3rd wedding anniversary

It is my anniversary today, so I wanted to share a photo from our little Michigan wedding…

We were married on October 2, 2010 at a wine bar/restaurant called Vinology in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our ceremony and reception took place in their “Bubble Room”. It is named for the 400 beautiful hand-blown glass orbs hanging from the ceiling . We had a small, low-key  wedding with about 75 guests, most of whom are family and a few close friends.

To celebrate our third anniversary, we are taking a cooking class together on Friday night.  I hope to have some photos to share next week!

Kitchen Board

Kitchen Board

Kitchen island (upper left) is something we already own and are bringing with us from our previous house. Source.

Light fixture (upper center left) is something we plan to install when we move in because the builder grade options is not really my style. Source.

Subway sign (upper center right) is a fun piece of art that my sister bought me for my birthday at Haven in downtown Plymouth.

Refrigerator (upper right) has already been purchased and we are so excited to start using it. Source.

Dining Chair (lower left) are a hand-me-down from my parents that were purchased at Pottery Barn many years ago. They are downsizing  and moving to their lake house, so they are mine now. Source.

Hardwood floors (lower left) are oak with a light to medium stain called Chestnut by DuraSeal. These will be installed in our kitchen, dining nook and foyer.

Tablecloth (lower center left) is linen with a small detailed stripe and fringe at the bottom from Anthropologie. I have not purchased this yet, but it is on my wish list (hint, hint).

Granite (lower center) for our kitchen and bathroom countertops will be black pearl.

Cabinets (lower center) for our kitchen and bathrooms will be the basic builder grade option.  Our choices were limited, so we selected clove as our color since we felt it would look best with the black granite.

Range (middle right) has not yet been purchased, but I am dreaming of one similar to what is pictured. I have been stalking the appliance outlets and floor samples for a while now.  We’ll see what we end up with for a range.

Curtain panels (lower right) were purchased at Homegoods. They are linen and have a lotus pattern in graphite and white.

Exterior Board

Exterior Board

Our elevation for our floor plan is exactly like this house pictured in the center. However ours is reversed so our front door will be to the right instead of the left.

For siding, we have chosen Mountain Sage as our color and white trim comes standard. The roof will be rustic cedar. Both are pictured on the right side of the board.

The front door will be the 15 lite version shown on the left. I am hoping to paint it a fun color like aqua to pair with the green. The houses in our neighborhood are all very colorful, so it should fit in nicely. You’ll see the house pictured here has a yellow door paired with iron gray siding. If we hate the aqua, we’ll just paint it black or white again, no big deal.

Materials selection

We are not custom building a home, just working with a local builder in a neighborhood that we love.  New construction was not really on our radar when we first started house shopping.  We made offers on several older homes in March & April 2013 that were unsuccessful.  The market was really competitive in the spring, so we decided to look at new construction because we were running out of options.

To my surprise, there were not as many selections to make with the builder in terms of finishes and materials.  Many items come standard and others have upgrade charges we did not see the value in paying. The decision-making process was much easier than I expected.

Selections to make:

  • Kitchen- countertop & cabinets
  • Flooring- carpet, tile and hardwood
  • Exterior- elevation, siding color and roof color

Countertops (kitchen & full baths)– granite comes standard (no upgrade charge) with our builder. We had a selection of eight granite options.  I have to admit that granite would not have been my first choice of countertop material. I just don’t like how busy the patterns can get. If I were custom building a home, I would pick something more uniform like soapstone or quartz or even butcher block.  But, I am thankful our builder uses granite and not laminate.  Here were the options, I zoned in on the middle two in the bottom row pretty quickly, as you might be able to tell by the way this photo is centered. The stones are Nara Brown and Black Pearl. Can you guess which one we went with?


Cabinets (kitchen & full baths)– we had a choice of three solid wood cabinet doors.  The powder rooms comes standard with a pedestal sink. I really wanted white cabinets, but those were an upgrade of $3,500 and their white option was more of a linen color (not a pure white) so we decided to pass. Here is a photo of our three cabinet options:


Hardwood floor (kitchen, dining & foyer)- our builder prefers to install unfinished hardwood floors and then stains and finishes them on-site. We could pick from any of the Duraseal hardwood floor colors and he put out some samples to show what it looks like on the floors. The lighter color stains were standard, while darker color stains had an upgrade charge.


Tile (bathroom floors)– There are only two color options for tile and I really hate them both. Below is a photo of our hardwood color up against the two tiles.   But it was such a small area of the house, that I am going to deal with it until we can upgrade our bathrooms the way that we would like down the road. We went with the darker tile called walnut.


Carpet (second floor & great room)– Our builder was kind enough to upgrade our carpet for free so we could have something a little more plush for the little one.


Siding– our entire neighborhood uses wood or James Hardie fiber cement siding. Here is the color options we had to choose from:

Siding Colors

Roof– and here are the coordinating roof options


I’ll be back later today to show you what we picked!