Looking Ahead 2016

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First, Looking back

2015. Wow, what a year. It’s probably obvious what made my year. Becoming Ziva Pearl’s mother is the most amazing, fulfilling, joy inducing experience I could have ever imagined. Seriously. Don’t hate me for saying it, but I’m in love with this mommy gig. We have had our rough patches, but nothing a little mama-snuggling and troubleshooting couldn’t fix (thank you nipple shield). She brings me so much joy and is such a happy baby. I feel lucky I get to be her mom.

2016 is going to have to work extra hard to top this year! That’s okay though cause I have big plans. ūüėČ

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2015 was all about our journey as new parents, and my guess is every year of parenthood is a new learning process with curve balls and triumphs, so why should we expect anything less in 2016?!

Looking Inward

In the hustle and bustle of parenthood, I want to make 2016 a year for retrofitting and reinforcing the walls that make up my personal foundation. My goal is to rebuild my sense of self now that I’m a mom. It’s funny how much my perspective, style, and focus has shifted in such a short time! I don’t want to be that mom hiding from the camera and absent from the family album. I want to be a confident, healthy, and active role model for Ziva as she gets older and I’m willing to do the work to make that happen.

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Looking ahead together

As a family, 2016 is going to be another year of big change… Nope! We aren’t pregnant with #2. We are, however, preparing to make the big move to my home state of CALIFORNIA! The details are still in the works, but by summer of 2016 the little Lubetsky family of Ann Arbor will be heading west!

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Labor Day Weekend 2015

We were in need of some time at home to work on projects and spend quality time with each other. Thank goodness for the long weekend! On Saturday we did a ton of normal errands, living room workout, and brought in big haul of greens for the 5 day clean eating challenge we’re kicking off this Tuesday.

Grocery haul

There’s still time to sign up if you are interested, by the way.

On Sunday a few of my friends came over to practice for their budding personal organization business. I’m so grateful to them for offering to practice on my closet because it was in dire straits. I’ve been maintaining multiple size wardrobes for a while and it has resulted in an overflowing closet and dressers. I made them an egg bake for brunch and they spent like 4 hours helping me cut through the clutter and clean out the excess.

They pulled out every piece of clothes I owned. Only a portion was allowed back in the closet.

They pulled out every piece of clothes I owned. Only a portion was allowed back in the closet.

The results? 6 bags of clothing on its way out the door! They even took it with them so I wouldn’t have a chance to pick back through it later. I’m telling you, if you ever have a chance to work with professional organizers it is so worth it! If you’d like a recommendation, shoot me a message and I’ll put you in touch. I just hope they want more practice soon because the nursery needs their help!

Sunday night we headed out to the in-laws for a get together with out of town family. Our new little nephew and Ziva had a great time practicing tummy time together. Ziva is really getting to the age where she notices and wants to interact with other babies. It’s pretty cute! Cousins

Today we were ready to get some exercise to burn off some of the treats from the night before. There are so many adorable neighborhoods here in Ann Arbor and we love going for walks to oogle the cute little houses and quaint family neighborhoods. Today we drove over to the old west side and took Brinkley and Ziva for a nice long walk. It’s pretty hot out, but there was a nice breeze.

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Ziva slept through most of the walk, but Brinkley was loving it! She loves taking walks in new places and she stops to mark EVERYWHERE. You’d think she was a boy dog.

At the end of our walk we stopped in at Argus Farm Stop for some coffee and water. I love the farm stop for their delicious drinks and fresh local produce. It’s a bonus that it’s also completely adorable.

Argus Farm Stop

Argus Farm Stop

Brinks waiting for daddy to come back out.

Brinks waiting for daddy to come back out.

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We’ve been trying to get out and active each weekend since we know the nice days are numbered with the fall closing in on us. Our holiday weekends may not look quite like they used to, but they’re wonderful all the same. As for tonight? Meal prep and the 21 Day Fix Dirty 30 workout for me.

Hope you all enjoyed your labor day holiday!

6 years ago today

6 years ago today, after 3 days of driving and many goodbyes, my mom and I arrived in Ann Arbor, Mi.

All I had was an old (unsmart) phone for pictures.

All I had was an old (unsmart) phone for pictures.

Seems like both yesterday and a lifetime ago. These last 6 years it’s seemed like life sped up. Here’s just a sampling of what’s gone down:

Who knows what will be coming next, but if the last six years are any indication, we’re in for an adventure.

Happy Michi-versary to me!

Zac Brown Band New Year’s Eve 2014

Happy 2015!

I hope you enjoyed ringing in the new year with people you love (or at least enjoy)! At 8 months pregnant, we decided on a low-key, low pressure evening this year. I could have gone for good movies on the couch, but we’ve been doing a lot of that lately, so I thought the man could use a night out. Not looking for a fancy deal, we had dinner at Oak City Grille in Royal Oak before heading over to our¬†friends house to party in the new year. We had a reservation for 8pm and about half way through dinner the live music started on the stage over the bar. All-in-all it was a fun, festive environment. The food was decent, and it was nice to get out of the house. Once at the party I found a nice comfy post in the corner, put my feet up, cup of water in hand, and eased my way into 2015 in style.

Feet up, kicked back. Happy 2015!

Feet up, kicked back. Happy 2015!

Last Year

But last year, last year we celebrated just a little bigger. We had been TTC for a few months already, and were really hopeful that New Year 2014 would be our last as a family of 3 (including Brinkley dog of course). I figured that once we have kids it will be harder to justify expensive concert tickets, so I went all-in and bought 2 general admission floor tickets to the Zac Brown Band at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

It was a frigid night, and we nearly froze our buns waiting in line to enter the arena with our light coats. I was worried we wouldn’t have a good view if we got there too late (since it was general admission), so once inside we had to wait some more for things to get going. Man was it worth it.

Close-up view from the general admission pit. Not too bad!

Close-up view from the general admission pit. Not too bad! Image by Ready Set Sarah

We ended up just left of the peninsula sticking out of the stage. Brian was concerned it would be too loud if we got too close, so we found a good view a little ways out. Man, did it turn out to be perfect. The band made it out to the end of the stage many times throughout the show, and it was a great view of the main part of the stage.

Up close and personal with Zac Brown.

Up close and personal with Zac Brown. Image by Ready Set Sarah

Surprisingly, the Canadians in the crowd were the really rowdy ones! We had some trouble with pushy drunkards, but not nearly as much as would have suspected for a new year’s eve show. It was a great atmosphere, and a really great show. There are just some bands that are even better live, and this is one of them. These guys are true musicians. There are so many different instruments on the stage, the sound is incredible (Brian hardly needed his protective ear plugs, they kept the sound level at a good point), and the play list is really well put together. They didn’t play my favorite song, Free, but they played a number from what was their newer albums, and we found a few new favorites to love.

Best New Year ever!

Best New Year ever!

When it got to just before midnight, they projected the New York City ball-drop countdown on the big screen, and the whole arena counted in the New Year together. This was followed by a flurry of red, white and blue confetti from the rafters. Seriously,¬†one of my favorite New Year’s Eve countdown moments ever.

Black light skeleton encore.

Black light skeleton encore. Image by Ready Set Sarah

For the encore, the guys came out in mechanic’s suites painted as skeletons. It looked pretty awesome in the black lights. I wish I could recall more about the line-up, but the songs they chose for the encore went perfectly with the scene.

Ringing in the New Year with the Zac Brown Band at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Ringing in the New Year with the Zac Brown Band at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Image by Ready Set Sarah

If you ever have the chance to see the Zac Brown Band, I would definitely recommend you do. Brian isn’t a country music fan and was really skeptical about how much he would enjoy the evening. A few songs in and he was sold. We had an amazing New Year’s Eve, and made memories that helped get us through the year to come.

Ann Arbor Move Countdown: 27 Days!

27 days!!!

Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor Michigan (Photo by Ready Set Sarah)

Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor Michigan (Photo by Ready Set Sarah)

It’s finally here! The long awaited arrival of June. Not only is it feeling a lot like summer, but this is also the month we make the long awaited move back to Ann Arbor. Royal Oak has been a blast, but I’m ready to return to my people.

I’ve already started compiling an Ann Arbor Bucket List of sorts, full of all of the fun Ann Arborish activities I want to do during this round of residency in A2. I moved away 3 years ago and there were a ton of things I still wanted to do. This will be¬†Brian’s first time living in A2, so I definitely plan on showing him all the city has to offer.

Sure, there are times I wish we were moving home to California, but Ann Arbor is the most like a home away from home that I’ve found here in Michigan and I’m ready¬†to get back.

I can’t wait to share our adventures with you! Now, time to pack.

Oh! And, Go Blue!

University Of Michigan Stadium "The Big House" (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

University Of Michigan Stadium “The Big House” (Image by Ready Set Sarah)

Northern Michigan Day 2 in Petoskey

To capitalize on my recent urge to write, I figured I’d go back and complete the series of posts about our little family trip up north this¬†February. We spent 3 cold but fabulous days in Traverse City exploring the region with my mom. Read about day 1 here.

We woke up to a partly sunny second day in Traverse City, the wind was heavy but the sun was shining so we decided it was safe to make the trek up to Petoskey. First things first, we needed coffee.

Our original plan had been to go snow shoeing in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They offer guided snow shoeing tours in the winter that sound pretty awesome. We called too late to book the tour for Saturday (they were already full), and we decided we that was probably for the better since we lacked adequate snow gear. ¬†If you haven’t been to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, I highly recommend a trip. The views are incredible and there are plenty of great hikes in the warmer months. I can only imagine the snowshoeing is awesome too.

Crow about it
According to Yelp, the only coffee joint near the Traverse Bay Inn is a local shop called Crow About It Coffee and Cakes. From the outside (strip mall) we weren’t sure what to expect, but we were impressed by the quality and thoughtfulness they put into their their coffees and treats. While ordering we got into conversation with the barista about their sugar-free flavor syrups. They have a TON of sugar free flavor options. Turns out all of the syrups they use have¬†no dye in them, and the sugar free is sweetened with Stevia! They get their syrup from a local source who worked with them to remove all the dye and artificial sweeteners from the syrup they buy. The sugar flavors are made with organic sugar, too! You can taste the difference in the drinks, in a very good way. If you stay at any of the resorts along hwy 31 just east of Traverse City, this is a great little coffee shop for breakfast pastries and tasty drinks.

The drive up 31 took about an hour (it’s around 60 miles northeast around Lake Michigan). We drove through Charlevoix and planned to go back on the way home. Next time I would love to show my mom some of our favorite little shops there.

Roast & Toast
We rolled into Petoskey just in time for lunch. We spent New Year ¬†last year in Petoskey and had some of the best gluten-free sandwiches at a place called Roast & Toast. My mom is GF too and I couldn’t wait for her to try it. Their menu is HUGE. So many sandwiches!!!

Roast and Toast in Petoskey

Roast and Toast in Petoskey

Gluten-free Sandwich at Roast & Toast

Gluten-free Sandwich at Roast & Toast

I had the¬†Peppered turkey with Swiss on Udi’s gluten-free bread. Mom had the ¬†grilled barbecue chicken sandwich on Udi’s, and Brian got a chicken ranch wrap and creamy chicken noodle soup (not GF). We loved our lunch, and it’s been packed with people both times I’ve been here, I’m guessing others love it too.

It started snowing while we were eating lunch, but that didn’t stop us from poking around all the little shops in Petoskey. I had to restrain myself from buying my niece “Bean” (due in June) every little adorable baby item I saw. At Grandpa Shorter’s I fell in love with an adorable pair of Minnetonka Mocassins, but I couldn’t convince my mom to buy’em.

Minnetonka Kids in Hot Pink (Image from Zappos)

Minnetonka Kids in Hot Pink (Image from Zappos)

American Spoon is a northern Michigan staple like Cherry Republic. So, of course, we had to take mom there to taste all of the delicious preserves and jams! While there we took advantage of the many samples. SO GOOD.

American Spoon samples

American Spoon samples

We brought home some Blueberry Cherry preserve, and my mom bought a cherry salsa to give to my aunt and uncle in New York. The shopkeeper gave her a recipe to make a chicken dish with the Cherry Peach Salsa, which I since have heard was DELICIOUS! The recipe was from their website here.

We stopped in a few more shops, including the adorable general store (pics below), before heading to Kilwin’s for some Michigan fudge.

Quaint shopping streets and small town charm in Petoskey

Quaint shopping streets and small town charm in Petoskey

Petoskey General Store

Petoskey General Store

Petoskey General Store

Petoskey General Store

Scariest Drive Ever
It was pretty clear out, but the icy roads and high winds gave us cause for worry so we headed home while it was still light. Highway 31 on the way into Petoskey was pretty icy and treacherous, so we opted for the inland route back to Traverse City. Though it was plenty sunny, the high winds and tall snow drifts on the roadside made it the most terrifying drive EVER. There were moments when it looked like we were driving through an ocean of snow. By the time we made it back to Traverse City I was a bit rattled and felt lucky we had made it back safely. The sunset at the other end of the drive made it well worth it!

Traverse City sunset outside our friends home

Traverse City sunset outside our friends home

Om Cafe dinner
Tired from the long day of exploring and driving, we opted for a low-key dinner. Om Cafe was the perfect, cozy, low-key choice. There is an Om Cafe in Ferndale just a few miles from where we live, but we haven’t made it there yet. After our yummy dinner in Traverse City I will definitely be trying the Ferndale location. My mom and I split the mushroom burger and stir fry noodles. We absolutely loved the mushroom burger. My mom swapped the cheese for goat cheese and it was sooooo good. Would absolutely get ¬†it again. We all shared the Cherry “cobbler” for dessert. The tart cherries and the nutty crumble topping were a great pair. It would have been incredible with a small scoop of vanilla rice dream ice cream!

Dinner at Om Cafe

Dinner at Om Cafe

Northern Michigan Adventure Day 1

My mother came to town last weekend and we took a little get away to Traverse City and Petoskey!

We drove from here to here!

We drove from here to here!

The Ride Up
On the way up north there were occasional snow flurries at first, but once we got past the cement and clutter of suburbia it was an enjoyable pastoral scene. We made a few rest stops, and as we got further north the blustering winds really started to pick up.

My patient husband, holding on tight to the wheel, navigated us through as the snow got heavier and the wind stronger. At points where there were open fields along the roadside, the wind, uninterrupted by barns or tree banks, whipped up over the road blinding and tossing us about.
Snowy ride. (image by readysetsarah)

Snowy ride. (image by readysetsarah)

Lunch in Traverse City
After hours of white knuckle driving, we arrived in Traverse City safe and sound. Brian has a good friend who lives in town with his wife and toddler and he recommended we dine at Amical on Front Street.
Front Street Traverse City (image by ReadySetSarah)

Front Street, Traverse City (image by ReadySetSarah)

Like most adorable vacation towns, Traverse City has a great walkable downtown district, with the main drag along Front Street, just off of the lake. In the summer all of the Northern Michigan vacation towns are crawling with people, but this time of year it’s easy to get a table pretty much anywhere. Yelp rated Amical as $$$, but had we not gotten drinks with our lunches it would have been reasonably priced. It was certainly delicious. Brian ranked the Amical Reuben among his favorites he’s had, and thought the pasta salad it came with was a great match. I had the chicken Caesar. As far as Caesar salads go, it was good. The dressing ¬†was tasty and had a bit more mustard flavor than usual (I use mustard powder in my Caesar dressing, but this had a strong mustard flavor). My mom got the special pumpkin seed encrusted whitefish on a bed of wild rice with arugula salad. We all cleared our plates and seemed to really enjoy it. Amical had a sweet atmosphere, good food, and a nice location. I would definitely¬†recommend it!
After lunch we went for a brief, blustery stroll on front street. Even covered in snow and whipped by wind this place has the charm. We popped into Cherry Republic (for those who don’t know, cherry republic is a staple of northern Michigan offering a bevy of tart cherry products ranging from chocolate covered cherries, to cherry salsa and barbecue sauce). We chatted a bit with the shopkeeper, I was so pleased by his good nature and welcoming attitude. He explained to us about how Northern Michigan produces about a 3rd of the tart cherries either nationally or globally (check that), and about how 2 crops ago the early thaw and re-freeze led to loss of crops. Polish cherries came to the rescue, which is why a sign of gratitude to Poland hangs in the shop. We left with a bag of dark chocolate cherries and a jar of original cherry salsa (two of my favorites).
Next we stopped into a clothing shop, Glicks, which I had been in when we visited Frankfurt, Michigan a few years ago (link to post). Glicks is a trendy but sort of funky-cool boutique with reasonable prices and some great finds. The young woman tending shop was also a great personality and fun to talk to. My mom and I both picked up some fleece lined leggings, and I got some uber cool patterned leggings.
Crazy pants. Literally, the softest leggings ever.

Crazy pants. Literally, the softest leggings ever.

Overall, the shop keepers were all super nice, friendly, and funny (unlike the snobbish treatment I’ve received in some California vacation towns). Even the barista at a local coffee shop we ducked into to use the restroom was all smiles and conversation. This has been my experience in most of the shops we’ve gone to in Northern Michigan towns over the last few years. I love it up here! It’s beautiful, and the people are awesome.
Filling Station
We checked into the townhouse at the Traverse Bay Inn in the late afternoon ready for a nap. For the price, you can’t go wrong with this place. Our room had a small entry/lounging area with a studio style kitchen. The upstairs bedroom was cozy with two full size beds. And the downstairs bedroom had a queen and quaint view of snow-covered trees.
We met up with Brian’s buddy Dave, and is family for dinner at the ¬†at the Filling Station Microbrewery. The restaurant is cozy, and in what looks like an old train station. My mom and I were delighted¬†to find that they had great gluten-free pizza. We shared on with basil oil, and an out of control sweet s’mores desert pizza ¬†(minus the graham cracker crumble. It’s not ¬†a gf kitchen, but we did ok (no cross contamination sickness). The pizza was really good, Brian enjoyed his regular (non-gf) pizza too. Good prices, “very good” beer (according to Brian), delicious food and a creative menu. Again, the staff was friendly. For how cold it is up here, Up North is warming on me.
Old Friends

Old Friends

The Filling Station

The Filling Station

Filling Station2

Polar Vortex Days

Happy Polar Vortex days! Otherwise known as snow days around here. Nothing like being a shut-in for days and days with my Beau and pup!

After a low-key couple weeks full of days off, work from home and general laziness, I was more than ready to brave the record low temps and ice coated roads to get a little time in at the office. Most of the Metro Detroit region seemed to take the snow day yesterday, but today it was back to the grind for many of us, despite the dangerously low temps.

My eyes are cold. Image by Ready Set Sarah

My eyes are cold. It’s warmed up to -2! Image by Ready Set Sarah

I was born in northern New Hampshire, but never in my adult memory do I recall feeling this level of cold. It’s cold enough to make your eyes sting like pin pricks just walking to the car. This photo round-up pretty much describes what we are going through-¬†http://mashable.com/2014/01/07/polar-vortex-photos/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

I’ve read that at temperatures this cold (below – 10 degrees at times and wind chills of as low as -40), the salt we usually use to melt the ice on the roads isn’t as effective. That helps explain the slow motion sliding-to-a-stop I experienced all the way to work.

Even though it’s annoying to have to take 10 minutes bundling and layering just to go outside, even though I miss walking around outside, even though I MISS MEXICO….there are a few things I love about a real, snowy, frigid winter:

1) Dressing up our fur baby and watching her frolic in the deep snow

2) Seeing the way the landscape changes after the snow fall and wind.

snowdrift_readysetsarah

Snow drift. Image by Ready Set Sarah

3) The stillness and quiet in the middle of the storm. Snowstorms are a silent, beautiful thing.

4) Basking in the warmth of home, safe and cozy, watching the snow float outside.

5) Binge watching TV series, reading and playing online without feeling guilty!

6) Getting to say “Polar Vortex” in everyday conversation like we’re in a sci-fi action flick (This whole list was just so I could say it again).

Mutt March with Nelson & Co.

Nelson, a beauty named Sam, and little Ella Deville at the Michigan Humane Society Mutt March – Image by Ready.Set.Sarah!

PUPPIES! I just got home from a sun and slobber filled morning at the Michigan Humane Society’s Mutt March. The Mutt March is an annual event held on the sprawling green grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House estate in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI¬†on Lake St. Clair. This was our second year walking with Nelson, and this year he brought his little buddy Ella Deville along for the fun.

Here are some glamour shots of Nelson, the brindle French Bulldog that stole my heart-

Nelson the Frenchie – Image by Ready.Set.Sarah!

Now, it’s hard to admit, but the landscape sort of stole the show from our four-legged friends. The Edsel and Eleanor Ford house sits on a large piece of land dotted with weeping willows and tall old trees. Designed by Albert Kahn, the houses on the grounds are all done in the style of Cotswold village cottages (according to their website). The whole place gives me a sense of having stepped back in time.

Houses on the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House estate – the pictures hardly even capture how lovely it really is. Images by Ready.Set.Sarah!

Last year during the walk they were taking down what remained of a wedding reception and even half disassembled the scene was impressive – chandeliers hanging from trees, crisp white lounge areas tucked into bright green trees. This would be an AMAZING place for engagement or wedding photos if you are looking for something in the Detroit area ūüėČ

The details in the¬†architecture are hard not to drool over, the stone facades caped in ivy, the rounded doors and tiled roofs. One of my favorite structures is the gate house –

The beautifully design gate house. Image by Ready.Set.Sarah!

The grounds were designed by landscape architect Jens Jensen. After finishing a lap with the Mutt March we decided to spend a bit more time exploring the paths along the lake. I would love to come back and spend a day picnicking along the water, there were perfect spots to set up a blanket all over the place!

The trees and views, this place is lush and serene. Images by Ready.Set.Sarah!

I can’t wait until next years Mutt March… and maybe by then we will have our very own little furry friend to take along! Fingers crossed.