Bouquets to go

What a busy month it has been! * Planting seeds (yes — sowing through June), digging up new beds for many cuttings/divides from friends and families, including perennial Forget-Me-Nots, Irises, anemones, Feverfew, peonies, mystery flowers (hmmm?), phlox and more. * Launching a new business with deliveries for grad parties and weekly to Agricole Farm Stop on Tuesdays. * Organizing my work station for creating bouquets and settling into a routine for weeding, planning and marketing. This week, I’ll finally design and order business cards, so I can start handing them out when people ask for them. Simple, yet essential!

There is so much joy in the act of digging in the dirt, sowing seeds and watching the efforts bloom. I have a vision for more raised beds and a beautiful hillside garden for more flowers in 2020. Meanwhile, I am savoring harvests to create wild beauty bouquets with my garden flowers and flora foraged from my meadow.

Garden bouquets for sale

Busy, busy! Springtime is filled with labor-intensive days prepping garden beds for annuals, new perennials and veggies — and launching my new seasonal flower bouquet business, Cheerful Nature Bouquets.

I am thrilled with the prospect of a flourishing late summer-fall garden of zinnias, cosmos, calendulas, amaranth, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, basil and carrots. Meanwhile, the early risers of chamomile, alliums, peonies, salvia, poppies, irises, lily of the valley and more brighten up the vibrant greenscape. (Thank you, rain!) Garlic, thyme, chives, sage and lavender are also thriving this May.

I have dreamt of a flower stand for a long time while growing flowers for more than 15 years on my little piece of land in Chelsea, Michigan. With very little traffic on my road, this vision has evolved into Cheerful Nature Bouquets. I am offering in-season bouquets of garden flowers and meadow flora in recycled jars. My 4.75 acres are lush with interesting native plants and trees with branches and berries to supplement my garden-grown flowers. In a snap shot, Cheerful Nature Bouquets offers:

  • Ready-to-go bouquets in recycled jars for sale for birthdays, to cheer up a friend, for grad parties, baby showers and other small-scale special events
  • Free bouquets for any Chelsea School District student to cheer up a friend, late May through October
  • Order a bouquet today at (734) 546-2588.

Sayonara!

Yesterday, we said goodbye to our third exchange student. Nana was visiting us from Shimizu, Japan, over our spring break, along with two other students and a chaperone. Her visit was in conjunction with a program in our community called the Chelsea-Shimizu Sister Cities exchange program. Last June, my daughter traveled to Shimizu and visited Hiroshima and Sapporo to experience world history, and Japanese culture and community.



Our week was filled with local adventure, including the tradition of painting our town rock, disc golf at Hudson Mills metro park in Dexter and touring the Big House at the University of Michigan. Hosting an exchange student for a week was easy-breezy and so much fun! We hosted a student from the Netherlands for a full school year and a student from Peru for five months.

What I’ve learned from these cultural connections is how brave the teenagers are to travel to a foreign country and immerse in a culture that is completely unknown to them. Nana was eager to try everything — food and experiences. Though we had very little knowledge of her language and she had only slightly more of our language, we communicated. Google Translate was our friend this week, no doubt. Even so, being open, flexible and, most importantly, joyful during the week sharing experiences resulted in a lifetime connection.

Reflecting on our other experiences, I am grateful our family is still connected to our Dutch “daughter.” We are not connected to our Peruvian student, which I regret. I think of her and hope she is living a full, happy life. Each experience was truly unique. I am grateful to the students for being so brave and giving my family the opportunity to grow and learn from them.

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.

Hello, 50

Ten years ago, I trained for the Iceman, a 28-mile mountain bike race in November in Traverse City, Michigan. My bestie, Todd, and bro-in-law, Michael, and I were set to meet up with our families in northern Michigan to celebrate my big 4-0 by conquering this rough-and-tumble ride renowned for some oft-times wicked weather.

Mountain biking was pure joy for me. Not the speediest or the most technical, I simply found joy in the maneuvering of rocky, rugged trails through forested nature preserves and mountainous canyons. Over years of riding, I earned several nicknames thanks to Todd, whose daughter with lovely Alisa now calls me Auntie PigPen. This affectionate name was well-earned as I was often the last in a pack of friends riding in the mountains of California back in the late 1990s. (Picture a swirling kick-back of trail dirt.)

Training for the Iceman in my home state of Michigan, I spent hours on the trails in Pinckney State Park with many trips through Hell. (Yup, there’s a Hell, Michigan.) As the big day neared, I felt mentally and physically ready — well, for at least a portion of the 28-mile ride. Race day arrived, and my joints and I decided that my body was not ready for that massive feat after all, so instead I entered the 8-mile Slush Cup. While that sounds super wimpy compared to the Iceman, I felt spectacular in that race. The highlight was coming around the final corner and seeing my family crazily cheering me on and *quite distinctly* hearing my eldest daughter shout, “Go, Mommy, Go.” I felt like a champion. I loved that day. Shout-out to Todd and Michael who completed the Iceman, the later of whom has accomplished it many times and is tackling it again this year.

The Slush Cup was my last time on the trails on my bike — until this year. I had stopped riding because of chronic pain (as a result of cumulative injuries). Yet, recalling the pure joy of trail riding, when a friend suggested we try to “get back on the saddle,” I ventured out this year to nearby DTE Trail in Chelsea. Taking my time, I rediscovered how much I love riding while immersed in nature. As I turn 50 this month, I plan to keep finding happiness on my two wheels in the woods.