Feeling the Love

Alessandro and I cannot explain how lucky we feel to have so many friends and family members support us every year during Walk MS. 

I am lately feeling especially grateful as we are at a point where we are struggling a bit with the ineffectiveness of his past treatments and the frustrations that come along with that.  We are hoping now more than ever for a new treatment that will work for him.  The importance of our fundraising efforts during Walk MS each year was seriously reinforced for me the other day. 

We attended a small "Thank You" reception put on by the Michigan Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for top fundraisers and supporters.  Leading neurologist Paula Dore-Duffy was on hand to tell the group exactly what happens to the funds we all raise.  Dr. Dore-Duffy received a grant through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) to conduct a study on a strand of stem cells that she has identified and isolated in her laboratory.  The stem cells she identified are called human fat pluripotent pericytes. She proposes that human fat pericytes have clinical potential for use in cell replacement therapies to treat people with MS. These pericytes could help regenerate some of the damaged myelin, potentially reducing symptoms.  The cool thing about pericytes is that they can be produced quickly and ethically (for example, from fat cells left over from liposuction) unlike other stem cells you may have heard about. 

She is able to conduct further studies on this unique stem cell only because of the grant she received from the NMSS. She informed us that federal government grant funding for drug treatment studies is very limited right now, and that without funding through the NMSS and other organizations like it, so many research projects would go unfunded.  The money we all raise each year during Walk MS directly supports Dr. Dore-Duffy's research and other research projects like hers.  And you never know which research project will be the key.  

Alessandro asked her how soon she thought this therapy could be put into the works if it turned out it had potential to be successful and she said quite soon.  Here's to hoping. 

But more importantly, here's to action.  Team Alessandro has raised $12,427 dollars this year!  In the past 4 years, we have raised nearly $45,000.  The fundraising numbers always meant new hope and new treatment to me, but they took on a new meaning this year.  Alessandro has been having so much difficulty this summer, and he is switching to yet another new treatment.  Don't even get me started on how the insurance won't cover one of the treatments his doctor wanted to try.  I think this is as good of a place as any to be honest about what it means to live with a serious disease, so I may be posting something soon about the difficulties we've been having lately.  (Sorry, it can't always be food and games around here).  

Anyway, I came here to write about Team Alessandro's efforts this year, to thank each and every one of you who has helped throughout the years, and to ask you to help Team Alessandro reach its goal of raising $13,000 this year. We are so close.  Fundraising for this year's Walk MS ends on September 30th, and you can make a donation online by clicking on my personal fundraising page here.  $5, $20, $50...anything you can give would be much appreciated.  If you have already donated this year or in years past, we thank you so much and feel so lucky to have your support.  

This year's Walk MS took place on May 5, 2013 in Detroit.  I hope you enjoy these special pictures of our friends and families, and especially of our precious nieces and nephews.  

And finally, this year's team pic!


Contemplating Meatballs

Alessandro and I were sitting eating leftover spaghetti for lunch today.  It's his mom's famous recipe.  I served him 4 meatballs knowing how much he loves them. 

At one point during lunch, he started talking about how Dexter has "just gotten so stupid."  He thinks it's the acting.  He's just not impressed.  

I sort of snapped at him.  "Why do you care so much about Dexter?  Why are you letting it bother you so much?" [This was about the fifth time he has complained about the quality of Dexter in the last month, and I just couldn't understand why a television show should get under his skin enough to warrant so much of his attention].

Changing the subject, he said, "I'm glad I went for that 4th meatball."

"Huh?" I said. 

"I've been debating whether or not to eat that 4th meatball and I finally decided to do it and I'm glad I did."

"How exactly did that debate go for you in your head?"   

"Well, I was thinking:  Wow, I really enjoyed those 3 meatballs.  They were really good.  I bet that 4th meatball is just as good.  But, I don't know if I want to have 4 meatballs sitting in my stomach.  I'm not sure if I'm gonna suffer any type of blow-back from eating that 4th meatball or not.  I'm not sure if it's gonna be worth it."  


"Yeah.  I did a cost-benefit analysis and decided to go for it.  I'm glad I did.  It was good."  

"I think you may need to stop analyzing things so much. You want to eat a 4th meatball, eat a 4th meatball. You watch a television show you don't like, stop watching the show.  Don't let it bother you."  

"Yeah, maybe," he said.  "I'll think about it."  

Looks like I've got a contemplative one on my hands. 


Our Saturday Mornings: Eastern Market

For us, Saturday mornings mean Eastern Market.  It's where we spend a couple of hours each Saturday morning, Spring through Fall, and some Saturdays in the Winter when we're feeling brave. 

I've talked to many people lately who say they want to come down to Eastern Market on a Saturday, but for whatever reason they just don't ever make it.  They have to work, or they have errands, or life gets in the way.  The market draws nearly 40,000 people each week.  If you've been wanting to get to the market lately, get here to see what all the fuss is about!  

For now, I'd like to share with you what our Saturday trips look like if you're interested.  

* * * 

I like to start any trip to Eastern Market with a coffee from Germack followed by an almond croissant from Patissiere by Matt Knio


One day, my sweet little niece Ava was even waiting at Germack for me!

She likes the coffee too!  

While we snack on our croissants, we usually wander over to Eastern Market Antiques and think about all of the stuff we're going to buy for our future home. 

And the things we aren't going to buy.

Then we go wandering in the Sheds, usually with a handful of items in mind that we want for the week. 

Sometimes, we treat ourselves to the best smoked salmon in town made by MaCohen's

These fine folks are so nice!  And the prices are right.  You can get a filet that will provide 3 meals for only around $10.  Smoked salmon makes for a very easy, fast, weeknight dinner.  Just shred the salmon, toss it into pasta, add thawed frozen peas and a bit of heavy cream if you're into that sort of thing, and bam. Tasty, fulfilling dinner.  We also like to add this smoked salmon to scrambled eggs in the morning. Yum. 

Some of our other favorite vendors and treats come from Slow Jams (fresh, all natural jam made in small homemade batches), Perkins Pickles (delicious pickles and Chow Chow, which is pickled red cabbage, garlic, carrots, green tomatoes and spices), Corridor Sausage (all-natural sausage made in exciting flavor combinations, such as garlic and juniper, apple and sage, and lamb and fig), and Love's Custard Pies (get the chess pie.  Just do it.)  

There's also a vendor that sells all houseplants for $1.50!  And they're so beautiful. 

I bought a tiny little plant from here a year or so ago (check it out here on our kitchen table last year) and it has grown into this beast, which is about 3 feet tall. 

Every plant we have in our house is from that same vendor.  Some of them are featured here in last year's apartment tour and here in my terrarium project

Aside from food, plants and antiques, we also often enjoy the best fresh lemonade you'll ever have, along with karaoke

There's no shortage of things to do at Eastern Market and Al and I never get sick of going.  In fact, on our way home today I said, "I always have so much fun with you at the market!"  And I bet you and your family would too!

Just in case you plan to come soon, here are a few tips:

  • In order to beat the rush, get their either before 9:30 a.m. or after 1 p.m.  
  • Bring a backpack and handled bags.  The pack makes it easier to carry all of your goods and the handled bags can be used for fragile stuff, such as plants and peaches. 
  • If you get an iced coffee from Germack, try one of their many flavored simple syrups.  Today I had ginger honey and, according to Alessandro, it made my coffee "interesting." 
  • Bring cash! There's an ATM in the Welcome Center, but it doesn't always work. 
  • There's more to Eastern Market than the sheds.  Make a day out of your trip and visit surrounding stores, such as Detroit Mercantile, Signal Return PressRocky's, Milano Bakery and DeVries.
  • And lastly, always take the time to take a selfie with your boo.