Off on a wild bouquet ride!

Cheerful Nature Bouquets debuted at the Sjogren/Gofton grad parties on June 8 and 9. Mom turned 84 on June 8, so a special weekend all around! Bouquets centered the white-clothed tables surrounded by photographs of the graduates. The parties were held at the Chelsea Depot, a perfect launch pad for my bouquets! Since then, deliveries have been made to friends and a second grad party. Another grad party this week wraps up a fun first round of bouquet harvesting and creating.

This week, Cheerful Nature Bouquets also debuts at Agricole Farm Stop, a new grocery store venture in downtown Chelsea. Agricole will be the source for locally grown food, flowers and other artisan products with 75 percent of sales going back to the producers. Amazing! Agricole models itself after longtime Ann Arbor favorite, Argus Farm Stop.

Agricole — right on Main Street in a renovated historic livery — is hosting an Open House on June 20 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. during Chelsea’s Sounds & Sights on Thursday nights. My bouquets will make their debut during the Open House. I’m in good company with other artisan flower growers who will be selling market bouquets at Agricole as well. Join us for noshing and celebrating!

When Agricole officially opens this month, Cheerful Nature Bouquets will be delivered fresh on Tuesdays in recycled jars, ideal for spreading weekly cheer to friends, teachers, bosses, coworkers, parents and more.

How does your garden grow?

Each year, I find there is always a *star* in my garden. Last year was the year of the poblano pepper. Its bounty continued through late fall. My garden grows thanks to planning — and many whims. Hey, I think I’ll plant corn for popping. Why, yes, let’s grow Cinderella pumpkins and moon flowers. It is always a joy when the whims work and a tad sad when the purposeful sowing results in delicious meals for our ever-present chipmunks.

Truthfully, the critters and I have made peace since the early years when I’d chase bunnies out of my FENCED garden. Now, each spring, I poke around carefully for the anticipated nest of baby bunnies. I do not want to scare the furry babies. I decided to share what I grow and try to outsmart the chipmunks and birds with netting over my in-ground sown seeds.

My best advice? Get a garden journal, do a little planning and make room for impromptu seeds or Farmers Market seedlings. Whatever makes you happy, you should plant. My garden journal features rough sketchings of “planned” plantings and “actual” plantings. I like to reflect on gardening throughout the year and jot down notes about what is going on around the days of sowing and harvests (e.g., heading to Tigers game, trying new tea, just returned from vacation, etc.). Your journal should be a messy, creative outlet and your garden a sanctuary of food, flowers and cheer.

Cheesy Quest

When New Year’s resolutions are made, the resolutions do not usually involve giant bowls of gooey cheese and pasta. Of course, I am going to eat well in 2019; I love my morning oatmeal, daily greens, not-too-heavy dinners and weekly salmon dishes. Healthy eating comes easy to me. There is always dark chocolate involved and often a splash (okay, a glass or two) of wine and *healthy* chips that make me human. I have resolved to ensure I am doing strength training, yoga and cardio two days each, in addition to my nature hikes. My 50-year-old bones need the weight bearing exercise, stretching and movement.

lola rose - montreal - mac and cheese
Cheesy-spicy goodness at Lola Rosa in Montreal

Back in the day, my older daughter can attest to nights of Kraft mac and cheese and Tuna Helper with the “cheesy” (was it really cheese?) macaroni — quick dinners on a budget for this newly divorced mom, working long hours and juggling activities. (Julia was also tormented by too many nights of chicken tenderloins, so I’ve been told.) Those days are long gone. Heck, her younger sister by 8 years does not even like cheese — or meat.

My renewed interest in macaroni and cheese began during the week my dad died in September. My sister and I craved mac and cheese. I finally appeased that desire for warm, gooey mac and cheese (real cheese!) at Lola Rosa on Milton in Montréal. My friend Amanda invited me to piggyback on her work trip the weekend of my 50th birthday in October. My hubby Kris so nicely bought me a ticket with his frequent flier miles, so the few days away were a real affordable treat. I walked miles and miles in Montréal and stopped at Lola Rosa for a late lunch. Friends who frequent the historic city thanks to two children at McGill recommended it to me. When I saw a baked mac and cheese on the menu, I sat back and settled in. Twenty minutes later, the most heavenly dish was presented to me. Baked with aged cheddar, Havarti, Jalapeños, and spinach, the mac was complemented with a fresh side salad. This was my first-ever mac and cheese with Jalapeños and I’m never going back. To. Die. For. A slight crunch from the slow bake was followed by the perfect pairing of decadent sink-your-teeth-in cheesy pasta and minced spicy pepper.

With memories of Lola Rosa on the mind, when offered a Make Your Own mac and cheese at Bridge Street Tap Room in Charlevoix over the Christmas holidays, I was lured again into ordering the decadent dish. I had a support team this time with Kris and Michael, my brother-in-law. While Bridge Street’s mac and cheese is a regular on the menu, the Make Your Own is every Wednesday night. The options had me at Gouda and Jalapeños. Cooked to gooey perfection in a four-cheese sauce (Gouda… and, ah, three other cheeses), the mac I custom ordered featured slices of Jalapeños, slivers of red onions and mushrooms. Proteins and other veggies are options, too. The hefty bowl arrived, and I was happy to share the load. To. Die. For. Hooked.

So, along with my renewed health resolutions, I am going to indulge in every mac and cheese Jalapeño dish I find in 2019. Guilt free. Fabulously committed to my New Year’s resolutions.