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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve

Wherever you are today, whatever your style of ringing out the old and bringing in the new year, we celebrate Michigan's tenacity and diversity. This mural on the northern wall of the restaurant Los Galanes (located on Bagley in Detroit's Mexican town) was the idea of Freedom House which provides shelter for political refugees. They provided the financing and in 1995 about 75 people of all ages and nationalities completed this colorful wall in five weeks. Coordinators for the project were Sharon O'Hara-Bruce with Anne Jantz and Elizabeth Medallín. The bottom strip up to five feet high was all done by children. The bridge is the Ambassador, from the US to Canada.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eagle River's Jampot

We only know of one place in the world that makes wild thimbleberry jam and that is in the Keweenaw peninsula way up in the ear of the UP. The monks from the Society of St John run this place called the Jampot and they sell other goodies as well --like chocolate chip cookies, bread and muffins. You don't have to trek all the way there to get their can mail order it off their website!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Underground Railroad

This montage stands at the foot of Hart Plaza downtown on the Detroit River, a creation of the artist Ed Dwight. It serves as a reminder that Michigan had an intricate underground or clandestine system for ferrying escaping slaves across to Canada. Dwight was also at one time, a US Air Force test pilot, computer systems engineer, real estate developer and building contractor--a pretty awesome resumé.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Leon & Lulu's

They bill themselves as an adventure in shopping and Doreen and I were like kids in a candy store wandering through the maze of artistic hand-crafted works of art. They promote our local Michigan artisans! Leon and Lulu's on 14 Mile in Clawson used to be a roller rink and you can see some of the younger staff whizzing around on roller skates. It adds an amazing ambiance. There is something in here for everyone, furniture, statuary, hand-knit gloves and scarves, etc. It's really a treat when they have one of their artist markets. Check 'em out here. We were marveling over Jane's knit creations under the welcome sign.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Messiah's Stained Glass

Messiah is a vibrant little church on Toledo St in Detroit with a beautiful stained glass window that radiates over those sitting in the pews. The flock, led by Pastor Bob Hoey, is big on helping people in their own community as well as a church in Nigeria. It's an older place of worship, dating back to 1902, but they are big on relevancy and friendliness.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

¡Viva México! at Azteca in Utica

Azteca is back! They had their grand reopening December 19th on Mound just north of Hall in Utica. A fire closed down their original restaurant in the same strip mall, but now they are bigger and better and still featuring authentic Mexican food prepared and served by Ray and Teresa and their family. You'll find delicious homemade guacamole, fantastic horchata, the best fajitas north of the border and three different salsas made on the please your palate. ¡Olé, baby!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Edgar A. Guest

Woodlawn Cemetery on 8 Mile and Woodward is a historical, pleasant place to stroll no matter what the season. James Foster, kindly cemeterian, led me on a tour Christmas Eve that included Detroiter Edgar A Guest's tomb as well as the Dodges, the Wilsons, the Whitneys and even Rosa Parks. We indeed wish you a Merry Christmas and close with Edgar's precious words

A Christmas Carol by Edgar A. Guest

God bless you all this Christmas Day
And drive the cares and griefs away.
Oh, may the shining Bethlehem star
Which led the wise men from afar
Upon your heads, good sirs, still glow
To light the path that ye should go.
As God once blessed the stable grim
And made it radiant for Him;
As it was fit to shield His Son,
May thy roof be a holy one;
May all who come this house to share
Rest sweetly in His gracious care.
Within thy walls may peace abide,
The peace for which the Savior died.
Though humble be the rafters here,
Above them may the stars shine clear,
And in this home thou lovest well
May excellence of spirit dwell.
God bless you all this Christmas Day;
May Bethlehem’s star still light thy way
And guide thee to the perfect peace
When every fear and doubt shall cease.
And may thy home such glory know
As did the stable long ago.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fra Angelico's The Annunciation

There is something alluring about this Fra Angelico painting in our Detroit Institute of Arts. It was not taken with a flash. It's called the Annunciation, when the angel arrives to tell Mary the incredible news that she will bear the most Holy Child. Although it was painted by this gifted Italian monk over 500 years ago, it still retains its brilliant colors as it seems to radiate warmth on this Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dirty Dog Jazz Café

On the Kercheval strip in Gross Pointe Farms is a fine little restaurant that serves some tantalizing vittles and Wed-Saturday showcases live music. The name is deceiving, because it is not a laid back, beer-and-a-shot bar, but a classy dining facility that even serves up foie gras. Their prix fixe menu consists of a house salad and then choice of 7 entrées and a dessert for $35. They also have a wide assortment of those delicious little tapas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rosie's Diner in Rockford

With good food, unique old-time diner décor, country music, and friendly servers whose shirts say "Tip the servers, not the cows", this authentic eatery north of Grand Rapids puts Rockford on the map. You cannot miss the pink neon. Featured on the Food Network Show: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, it's a wonderful warm-fuzzy walk back through time. And, we took home a chocolate cream pie --to die for.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tissot at the GRAM

The GRAM is quite a gem of a public art museum in Grand Rapids. It's located in the downtown cluster with the ice rink right in front, the Grand River walk, the Van Andel Public Museum, the Gerald Ford Museum and of course, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. They've already begun celebrating their 100th birthday which really happens in 2010. A special exhibit going on right now is of the French painter Tissot whose favorite subject is women. Here's one of them playing croquet.....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pewabic Tile....Detroit

Pewabic tile is a crown jewel of Detroit. Many of its grand buildings and churches were built with it. The tile has been in production for over 100 years and the facility is still in use on East Jefferson and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. The unique hues of these tiles were created by Mary Chase Perry Stratton. This harp-playing angel is embedded in the floor of the Cathedral Church of St Paul's on Woodward and Warren. Hark! The herald angels sing....Glory to the newborn King.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gazing Grand Rapids

The Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids is a year-round facility with some awesome Christmas displays, sing-along-trolleys and horse and buggy rides available until January 10th. This 132 acre complex was named in 2009 as one of the the top 30 "Must-See Museums" in the world! The Meijer Corporation donated financial support, the land and their entire collection of sculptures for this magnificent park. There is a large conservatory and indoor as well as outdoor gardens. There are over 170 sculptures including works by Marshall Fredericks, Rodin, Chihuly, Calder, Henry Moore and so many more. But the 300,000 Christmas lights and the international theme and decoration of the trees make it a definite draw for a wintertime destination right now. Put it on your calendar! More info here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Detroit Public Library

The mother of all libraries in Michigan is in Detroit on Woodward across from the D.I.A. It is 88 years old, but with its Vermont marble construction, it stands the test of time. That well-known philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, donated the funds for the it. So the city of Detroit hired architect, Cass Gilbert, who also designed our Supreme Court in Washington DC. There's a lot to see and learn about in this grand three-story structure. It is well worth it to take one of the tours through the Detroit Historical Society.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Belle Isle in the Detroit River

Catch the view from Coach Insignia on top of the
Renaissance Towers. The bridge over the Detroit River
leads to the Belle Isle. The white awning in the foreground
depicts Chene Park where some great summer concerts
take place. Coach Insignia is a great bar/restaurant
experience when visiting Detroit. The views are gorgeous
and totally unique.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Old Main: Wayne State University

Old Main is the iconic architectural monolith that signifies Wayne State in Detroit. It was originally built as Detroit Central High School back in 1896, but was incorporated into WSU when the university was created in 1934. It houses the science department now and their cool planetarium in the basement.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Canterbury Village Lake Orion

Olde World Canterbury Village is filled with much Christmas eye candy. Its boasts being one of the largest Christmas stores in the world and it is right here in Lake Orion. You need hours here to see everything from the carousel to the Celtic, European and Fudge Shops. The Clansman Gaelic Pub's Tuesday and Thursday Pizza Special is one of the areas best kept secrets!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hartwick Pines in Grayling

Michigan has a wonderful state park system. One of our favorites is Hartwick Pines up in Grayling with its majestic stand of awesome virgin pines that are way over a hundred years old. With almost 10,000 acres, it is the largest state park in the lower peninsula. Yes, they have camping even in the winter and you can cook over a campfire outside. Their cross country trails are marvelous.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peace on Earth

Every year we have to drive by this house in Sterling Heights to see their elaborate display. It's on Irval off Utica Rd, close to 18 Mile Rd.
It's opulent and mind-boggling...and well, kids just stand in awe..... 'tis something to contemplate when the weather outside is frightful!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Michigan has a Chocolate Garden

Even in the winter, the Chocolate Garden is open and they make their little treats right on the premises. It has some very attractive décor and some irresistible smells! Their truffles are handmade and everyone should try their Trufflelatté! Elle Magazine says they are the most tantalizing on-line chocolatier. It is located just outside of Coloma, west of the Benton Harbor/St Joseph area. They have received accolades from tv shows and magazines, but Suzie was enamoured with their shrink wrapped truck! Doreen recommends the hot chocolate drink made without milk...fantastic!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Detroit Historical Society

Everyone who lives in Michigan and who visits our state should walk through the old streets of Detroit within the basement of the Historical Museum across from the DIA on Woodward. People get awesome chills running up and down their spine strolling through a cool part of 19th and early 20th century history. It is a magnificent walk back through time. Did you know that some of our streets were made out of wood? Sit and reminisce in the one-room school house....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wayne County Holiday LightFest, Westland

Suzie and I recently visited the Wayne County Light Fest which means driving a 4 1/2 Mile stretch of Westland's Edward Hines Drive. It is open from 7-10pm each night until December 31, featuring nearly 1,000,000 lights in giant animated displays. There are many Michigan activity themed lights representing kayaking, downhill skiing, cycling, etc. There is a nominal $5 per car charge.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sur la Table at Partridge Creek

We love the outdoor, dog-friendly mall called Partridge Creek in Clinton Township on Hall Rd and Garfield. The roaring fire in the center gives it lots of ambience. And, there is our favorite cooking store, Sur la Table--the only one in Michigan. It means On the Table in French. Aren't their storefront snowflakes unique?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Le Petit Zinc

There's a new wonderful tiny eatery in Detroit's Corktown called Le Petit Zinc on the corner of Trumbull and Howard. Suzie took this photo last week and with the fountain still running. There's seating for 28 the real zinc counter top or at small tables on the tiled floor. Caribbean French music added to the atmosphere--the owner, Charles, is from Martinique....but the best part was the heavenly teas and delicious quiches. Try the dragon pear jasmine tea and the spinach quiche served over a bed of greens. Prices were super reasonable. Click on Petit Zinc for more info.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Noel Night in Detroit

Thousands and thousands of people turned out for Mid-town Detroit's 37th Noel Night on Saturday, December 5th. Several artists were carving blocks of ice into artistic forms in front of the DIA. There were choirs singing, tours meandering and an organ recital in the Cathedral of St Paul. The Motor City Micro Brewery was jam-packed as well as the Good Girls Go to Paris Creperie. Even the public library was wall-to-wall people. Every venue was open and free. They were giving away cookies and assorted beverages. It was interesting walking through the historic Inn on Ferry Street, a very elegant boutique hotel. And yes, the science museum was open and showing off their mummies from Guanajuato. The planetariums had shows, there were plays going on and singing everywhere. The only thing missing was the snow....... Not!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Historic Trinity Lutheran Church of Detroit

Historic Trinity on Gratiot in Detroit is a church we love to experience, especially this time of year. To celebrate the season, the congregation is displaying more than fifty decorated trees, 650 Angels, and 250 creches from around the world. This 1850 church near Eastern Market has maintained a vigil over
downtown Detroit through good
times and bad times. It is always an uplifting experience when we step through their doors!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Downtown Rochester Lights

It's the first Saturday in December and shopping for holiday gifts is in full swing. We love strolling the shops on Main St in Rochester, but this city gets our vote for the best Christmas lights display. Every store front is hugely decorated with strings of LED lights and the effect is dazzling! This is their 4th year straight. The half million lights in their "Big, Bright Light Show" are a must see!!! The Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade is tomorrow at 1:45.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sweetwater Tavern in Detroit

Skinny skinny restaurant on the corner of Congress and Brush famous for its ribs and marinated chicken wings (on the spicy side!) at reasonable prices. Lots of people eat here before the concerts at St Andrew's Hall down the street or use their shuttle for the Red Wings and Lions games. The building dates back to the 1800's. Lots of character. They have a jolly life sized Santa in the back room with a twinkle in his eye...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wolcott Mill in Ray

An historic gristmill dating back to 1847, Wolcott is open Wed thru Sunday for tours. They also have great trails for hiking and equestrian trails as well. There's also a barn museum that provides the history of barns and some antique farming equipment. Ray Township is in northern Macomb County and worth checking out! In the summertime, there is also golf and camping.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm in Oxford

The Candy Cane Farm in Oxford has been voted as Michigan's #1 Christmas tree farm. After having visited it yesterday, we can surely attest to that. Mr Frank, Chief Elf pictured here, has a passion for his work and he can give you gobs of information about his bug-free, pesticide-free gorgeous trees. The one he is standing next to has an addicting hint of oranges in its needles. His wife, Kathy makes awesome wreaths. Yes, we could not resist buying the one made of Korean Pine. It's located off Seymour Lake Rd not too far from Great Lakes Crossing. They give you the saw to cut the tree, the cart to haul it out, twine to secure it to your vehicle, music to hum by and hot chocolate or cider as well! It's definitely a wonderful family experience! Info

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bagley St Pedestrian Walkway

It should have been done a long time ago when the expressway was first built and divided Mexicantown in two. This gorgeous footpath over I-75 now reconnects both halves of Bagley St. In the background you can see St Anne's, the oldest church in Detroit and the Ambassador Bridge which takes us to Canada.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Grand Trunk Pub

This building, dating back to the 1800's, used to be the ticket office for the Grand Trunk Railroad in Detroit. For years it was called Foran's Irish Pub. Now it has reverted back to the GT: Grand Trunk Pub with the original hardwood floors and 25 foot vaulted ceilings. Very cool place with locally brewed beers on tap and yes, they serve Vernor's (Michigan accounts for 80% of its sales) and Faygo pop (HQ still in Detroit)! We thought their pear cider was wonderful, too. It's located on Woodward, near Campus Martius.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary in Detroit

When driving on I-94 in Detroit everyone notices this brightly shining statue on top of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish on Woodward. She's a welcome sign to our city. The sandstone edifice dates back to 1893.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Milano Bakery on Russell

If you're looking for breakfast in Detroit, we love Milano's Bakery and Café on the corner of Mack and Russell. It's got a warm comfy feel--very bright and airy--and the food is outstanding. Perfect place to plop down before you head into Eastern Market to do your Saturday morning shopping.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday!!

Today is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Don't forget the red kettle people. Evidently there were complaints from customers of a Macomb County store about the bell ringing. That didn't stop this Salvation Army volunteer from doing her job! Try to share your blessing with others.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Trotting in Detroit

Happy Turkey Day! Will you be downtown Detroit this morning participating or watching all the crazy people in the Fifth Third Turkey Trot? It's a 5k run/walk and they give out prizes for the best costumes. Or perhaps you'll be watching America's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Many people line Woodward Avenue for this annual event (our 83rd!)....or do you watch it via TV in the comfort of your home? Count your blessings on Thanksgiving Day everyone! The sun is shining!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dearborn's Shatila Bakery

Shatila Bakery is located in Dearborn on Warren Avenue, just west of Schaefer and their pastries are divine. We have tried almost everything in this counter. Our favorites are the baba au rhum, the creme caramel, the fruit tarts, the opera cake, the mousse-filled chocolate tea cups and the eclairs. They are open until 11pm!! We walked in here one night at 9:30pm and it was packed wall-to-wall. They are obviously doing something right.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fisher Mansion in Detroit

The Fisher Mansion on Lenox in Detroit was built in the Spanish Mission style in the 1920's. It was a famous auto baron home built for Lawrence "King" Fisher and they spared no expense constructing it. They give tours Friday through Sunday. Today it is the center for the Bhaktivedanta a.k.a. Hare Krishna. Doreen and I were able to sit down with them in their café called Govinda's and have a wonderful vegetarian lunch and delightful conversation.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving in Sterling Heights

The Thanksgiving Buffet at the Best Western Sterling Inn is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummies. They have been perfecting this for more than 20 years on the SW corner of Van Dyke and 15 Mile Rd. Seatings begin at noon and run through 5pm. It's a great alternative for those who neither want to cook nor do the dishes! More info here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St Nativity of the Virgin Mary

You can't help but notice this Macedonian Orthodox church on 19 Mile and Ryan especially if the sun is shining! The domes and the crosses light up like they are wired for electricity. St Nativity of the Virgin Mary opened its doors in November of 2000. Architectually, it is pretty awesome. It serves one of the the largest Macedonian populations in the US.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ice Skating at Campus Martius downtown Detroit

The tree lighting ceremony to kick off the holiday season was well attended last night in almost balmy weather! They placed the huge evergreen on top of the water fountain which is still spewing water. Pretty awesome. There were tons of ice skaters on hand for the seasonal opening of the outdoor rink and marching bands and choral groups to get everybody on their feet. Now, all we need is some snow.......NOT!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Somerset Mall in Troy

Somerset Mall on Big Beaver Road is all decked out for the holidays. You have to love the sheer phenomenal scale of two malls on the north and south side of a 10 lane divided highway that is connected by an overhead glassed in passage with moving walkways! We love to go here just to stroll and admire the displays. Can't resist a tour through Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma and the Tea Shop and oh yes, the Apple store!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beaujolais Nouveau

Always the third Thursday in November, Michigan gets in on the act of celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine of the 2009 season, too! This photo was taken at Pic-a-Nut in Warren on Chicago Road which is part of the Champane Wine Cellars. Cass Gorkiewicz is providing the mood with Edith Piaf songs on his accordion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Great American Smoke Out Day

Tomorrow is the Great American Smoke Out Day. We took this butt graveyard picture back in July at a rest stop on I-75. Just do it! For the Michigan guide to all its smoke-free restaurants, click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

DTE Energy Fountain Detroit

The headquarters for DTE Energy and their 10,000+ employees is in Detroit. Their fountains are beautifully illuminated at night. They transformed the asphalt lots in their surrounding area into parks and fountains and created a wonderful green space!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Traffic Jam and Snug

Most Detroiters know they can get good comfort food at Traffic Jam and Snug, which has been honing its reputation since 1965 near the Wayne State Campus. Top's on our list is Carlotta Chocolatta Ice Cream Cheesecake and their homemade bread. TJS was also Michigan's first brew pub! They are a smoke-free restaurant....and they have a balcony from which you can peer into the kitchen and watch the action. Cool!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sweetest Heart of Mary

Wasn't yesterday the most beautiful mid-November day in Michigan? 66 degrees and gorgeous blue skies. It was a blessing for Brian and Shelayne who were married at the historical church of Sweetest Heart of Mary in Detroit. Built for the Polish immigrants back in 1893, it stands rather majestically on Canfield and Russell. David Carle cranked out some beautiful music on the the Austin pipe organ. We could not help but admire the unique altar of hand-carved white wood. Then after the ceremony the three bells in the north tower (St Mary, St Joseph and St Barbara) rang out jubilantly. Bóg Zapłać That's Polish for God bless you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Hurlbut Memorial Gate in Detroit

This unusual, elegant gate is located in front of the Waterworks Park on Jefferson in Detroit. It's named after Chauncy Hurlburt who served as city water commissioner and donated the funds to build this Beaux-Arts classical gateway in 1894. Structures like this are one great reason to take a ride up Jefferson Avenue and back again.