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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Michigan Toy Soldier in Royal Oak

You've probably heard about this place but it's a "you won't believe it until you see it" kind of thing. The Michigan Toy Soldier on 11 Mile in Royal is one of a kind.  They even bill themselves as the world's largest complete source for plastic or medal soldiers and figures, historical military miniatures, figure and model kits, die cast armor, and on and on. It's an incredible walk through history. Talk to anybody employed there and you will find that they are a collector and a history buff.  They have these awesome scenes set up to represent the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution, the Civil War, medieval times, the far west back in the day, the Roman Empire, World War I, WWII, etc.  Need to brush up on your history? They have books and dvd's that cover everything. We only asked, "Where is Napoleon in this group"?  And we were shown the Emperor and Marshall Ney and Wellington and before you know it, we we get into battle details. Amazing!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Detroit's Parade Company

Part of the Michigan Thanksgiving festivities is the parade down Woodward Avenue where participants brave whatever weather Mother Nature hands out to hold places at the curb from early dawn on. The floats are magnificent and everyone had the opportunity to view them up close this past Saturday at the Parade Company storage facility on Mt Elliott. The event was called Day in Paradeland and featured entertainment, food, photos with Santa, games and much more. Tours are available all year round by appointment for groups of 10 or more.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Silent Night Chapel in Frankenmuth

Most people who come to Frankenmuth also visit the Silent Night Memorial Chapel which sits on the corner of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. It is a copy of the one in Oberndorf Austria that the Bronner family so adored when they visited there in the 1970's. Built in 1992, the former mayor of Oberndorf --whom they met in the 70's --came for its dedication. There are plaques with "Silent Night" in hundreds of different languages posted throughout the grounds. It was written by pastor Joseph Mohr and the music was composed by a teacher, Franz Xaver Gruber. It was first sung in Oberndorf in the St Nicholas Church in 1818. We think that's a pretty cool story.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Farmer's Market in Royal Oak

It's jam-packed on Saturdays--the Royal Oak Farmer's Market. The Great Lakes pies just inside the door grabbed our attention immediately--we had to have one. Then it was the McClure pickles and the homemade Cheesy Monkey pumpkin scones, the wreaths and table decorations, the homemade soaps, the alpaca hats and socks, made in Michigan. And with all the fresh veggies and herbs, it was a veritable feast. You can easily see why this place is so popular.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sherwood Forest in Rochester

On Black Friday the world goes shopping and one of our favorite places at this time of year is the Sherwood Forest Garden Center in Rochester on the corner of Adams and Silverbell. They have live animals to the great delight of children and lots of decorations for inside and outside the home. Their village displays are stunning.  Their trains and villages fascinate kids and adults alike.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sojourner Truth in Battle Creek

One bigger than life statue of Sojourner Truth stands in Battle Creek just a couple of miles from where she is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. Part of Highway 66 in Michigan was renamed after her. Born into slavery in New York, she escaped and assumed her calling as a prophet and a preacher, dropping her given name of Isabella. She dictated her memoirs which were published in 1847: The Narrative of Sojourner Truth which spoke of her life as a slave, having her own son sold illegally, her escape and her religious experiences. She travelled all the way to Washington to meet with and encourage Abraham Lincoln in his fight against slavery. She died on November 26, 1883, but a few days prior she was quoted as saying, "I'm not going to die, honey. I'm going home like a shooting star." We are grateful for our freedom! Wishing everyone a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cloverleaf Wines in Royal Oak

Housed in a 100 year old renovated power plant adjacent to the railroad track in Royal Oak is a wonderful wineshop called Cloverleaf. We have four reasons for your to stop in and browse: 1) They carry two different beaujolais nouveau and 2) the Detroit Brewing Co's Sanders Chocolate Stout. 3) Fritz knows swill from the good stuff and 4) they provide delicious homemade breads to go with your wines.  When asked why their business cards were half size (1" by 1"), they said they were going green.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lockhart's in Royal Oak

We haven't had ribs this lip-smackin' good in a long time.  Please check out Lockhart's BBQ in Royal Oak, just behind the Royal Oak Brewery.  In fact, the two are affiliated.  Funny thing is though, Lockhart's is featuring a brand new Sanders Chocolate Stout starting today-- which is a collaboration of efforts between the Detroit Beer Company  and Sanders Candy. Don't you love a local craft beer? Lockhart's has a variety of hearty Michigan brews on tap.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Royal Oak Holiday Magic Parade 2010

It was a fabulous day for the 9th annual Royal Oak Holiday Magic Parade down Washington this past Saturday. And the crowds were well pleased with bunches of bands, dancers, horses, Shriners in their little cars, clowns, stilt jumpers, and of course Santa himself and Mrs. Claus. With the sunshine out, most people did not mind the mid-forties temperatures. It was a blast. Parking was free. The candy canes were flying all over the place.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Memory of John F Kennedy

Tomorrow marks the 47th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. We found this brass plaque of the St Francis Prayer on the wall of our state capitol, dedicated to the memory of our former president.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bay City Players in Fantasticks

Michigan's oldest continuously operating theatre is in Bay City and doing quite well thanks to its large and supportive donor base. Finishing up this weekend is The Fantasticks--a cute little play whose original showing in New York was the longest running musical in the world (over 60 years)! The Bay City Players provide theatre shows from September through May. In the summertime, there is Youththeatre which offers  over a dozen one act plays to young kids.  What's cool is that they are all directed by high school students.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Michigan artist: Marilynn Thomas

Can't you just feel this little critter's pain? What a darling little watercolor, created by Detroit-area artist, Marilynn Thomas.  Having enjoyed her work at other venues like the City Gallery in Mt Clemens, it was easy to spot this one recently in the Warren Community Center among several pieces of work that are for sale.  She loves birds and outdoor settings.  Marilynn also teaches watercolors at Macomb College in Warren. It's not too late to sign up for this winter's classes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Craft Shows in Michigan

'Tis the season for craft shows and Michigan has a super abundance of them in every nook and cranny of our winter wonderland. This past weekend we were at Clawson Schools and the Warren Community Center gathering all the goodies above. What a haul! Warm doggie coats seem to be very popular, as well as collar scarves and animal hats. This coming weekend you'll enjoy the homemade creations at Warren Woods Tower and Mott, two high schools in Warren. But the mother of all craft shows is the 31st annual St Nick's Warehouse at Henry Ford II High School in Sterling Heights Saturday/Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wolfgang Puck Grille in Detroit

Doesn't this coconut sorbet and lava cake look absolutely scrumptious?  It comes from the Wolfgang Puck Grille, a gem of a restaurant in Detroit's MGM Grand Hotel.  Its unique decor gives us a feeling of a woodsy cabin with over 350 Canadian elk antlers dangling overhead.  Dress is smart casual. Food is outstanding.  Thursdays are special nights where they offer 50% off bottled wine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Beast Disc Golf Course in Ludington

The Beast is a challenging and scenic disc golf course in Ludington with some wonderful views of Lake Michigan.  Part of Mason County Park, it's almost a mile and a half to walk the course with varied elevations for some great hiking.  The other disc courses within the park are Beauty and Goliath, but most people love the challenge of the Beast.  It's an intense hike up to the first hole.  Polish up your frisbees.  Yes, there are even winter leagues in many of the 100+ courses around Michigan.  Why they give double points when playing below 15 degrees. Ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Historic White Pine Village - Ludington

The historic White Pine Village is crammed full of some incredible artifacts.  There are a total of 29 buildings that awesomely recreate Ludington's past. Pictured here are the Cole's General Store and the one room school house, but you can also take self-guided tours through the old Mason County Courthouse, the Pentwater Post Office, a lumber camp, an 1880's farmhouse, sugar house and a hardware store to name a few.  This historic village that opened in 1976 is well worth a visit.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ludington Reservoir Overlook

The Ludington Power Plant, a 37 year old hydroelectric plant and reservoir in Ludington, is owned by Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison.   Built between 1969-73, it consists of a reservoir 110 ft deep, 2.5 miles long and one mile wide, holding 27 billion US gallons of water.  Water is pumped up to the reservoir from Lake Michigan at night and during the day the turbines run in the opposite direction to create electricity. It can produce 1872 megawatts of electricity and provide enough power for 1.4 million people.  There's an observation overlook and trail where we viewed the engineering marvel and the huge reservoir that is considered one of the world's biggest electric batteries. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Re:View Contemporary Gallery in Detroit

Welcome to Re:View, a Contemporary Gallery in Midtown Detroit. Owner and Director Simone DeSousa has created this art gallery with two distinct components: an Exhibition Gallery focusing on one or two-person exhibits by accomplished local and national artists and a Commercial Gallery and Design Store. The current exhibit showcases the work of Simone and Coley McLean (co-founders of the Salt-Mine Studio in Detroit) and runs until the 27th of November.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Peace on the Grand River- Grand Rapids

This is one of the sculptures that remains from Grand Rapids' 2009 Art Prize with a great message.  Peace!  It is visible when you cross one of the pedestrian bridges of the Grand River in this vibrant downtown   area.  Now there is talk of a kayak park being built to create new recreational opportunities that would improve the fish habitat in the area as well.  There is always something fun to do in Grand Rapids.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Algonac's Veterans War Memorial

This Veterans Memorial in St. Clair County was just completed last year at this time, honoring Algonac's war dead from each branch of military service since the Civil War. As we attend parades, listen to speeches and place flowers and flags on military graves and memorials on this national holiday, let us remember each and every veteran with gratitude.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DIA Drop-in Workshops

The Detroit Institute of Arts holds drop-in workshops on a regular basis.  Resident artists work with groups of all ages in various classes like printmaking, mask making and watercolor painting, just to name a few.   We really enjoyed the instruction and our little masterpieces at the printmaking session. For the next two Fridays from 6-9pm there is a workshop on Wearable Pins. The next two Saturdays from noon-4pm you can make Snow Snakes and the next two Sundays, from noon to 4pm you can Get Framed. And if you are not into shopping on Black Friday, from 6-9pm is a Thanksgiving Weekend Puppet Workshop.  We love our DIA.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jamesport Brewing Company in Ludington

We hit the delightful Jamesport Brew Pub in Ludington on two different occasions this year and both times we gave it two thumbs up for their great beers and upscale food.  The tower of onions drizzled with bleu cheese is especially good.  In the summertime, their outer deck situated on the second floor gives you a bird's eye view of the SS Badger coming in and out of port.  It's on James Street in a historical building, close to the dock for the big ships. Jamesport brewed their 1000th batch of beer last month and they are pretty proud of their work.  We are too!  They claim to be saving Michigan one beer at a time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

St Joseph Sculpture: "And You Seas"

“And You, Seas…”  is a 40 foot sculpture of welded stainless steel created by leading African-American sculptor Richard Hunt.  The magnificent piece of art is located at Silver Beach Park in St Joseph, welcoming and guiding boaters.  In Michigan, you can find other works by this artist in Grand RapidsKalamazooJackson, Dowagiac, Muskegon and East Lansing. Other pieces are all over the country.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blue Water Bridge--Port Huron

The Blue Water Bridge is a major international crossing over the St. Clair River and the southern end of Lake Huron.  The bridge connects our Port Huron with Sarnia on the Canadian side.  The westbound cantilever truss bridge opened in 1938 and the east bound arch bridge just opened in 1997. In 1938 almost 61,000 vehicles crossed the bridge --which equals about 5 days worth of traffic today!  Remember your passport.  To check border crossing wait times click here. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

St. Bonaventure - Detroit

St Bonaventure was established in Detroit in 1882.  100 years later this gothic influenced building on Mt Elliot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Francis of Assisi founded this Franciscan Order in the 12th century in Italy.  For nearly 700 years Franciscans  have been advocating and supporting programs that address family issues.  They work to affirm and enhance the quality of relationships through outreach to those burdened by loneliness and isolation.   We spoke about Detroit's Father Solanus Casey here some time ago. He was one very cool monk from this monastery.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Western Michigan's Old Engine Club

The Western Michigan Old Engine Club is located in Scottville at the Riverside Park just east of Ludington. They feature 22 acres of antique engines and machinery. They also proudly put on demonstrations to educate the public and school kids about farming and such. If you've got even a little bit of country in you, you will enjoy this place. This is where you come to see tractor pulls!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Port Huron Museum

We appreciate museums housed in historic buildings. The Port Huron Museum of Arts and History is located in the beautiful Carnegie Library which dates back to 1904--a lovely piece of architecture. The result of a huge community effort, this museum itself dates back to 1967. It showcases the arts, natural history and Great Lakes memorabilia. They also offer exhibitions and programs about local history.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Arts & Scraps in Detroit

Arts and Scraps on Harper and I-94 is a heavenly place for all those creative people out there. It's a green and friendly non-profit that recycles literally tons of industrial materials and offers projects for everyone. They have fabrics galore, inexpensive kits, grab bags for unbelievably low prices, lots and lots of yarn and parents and teachers alike are raving about it. They also travel to schools and offer field trips in their cute bus called the ScrapMobile. We think it's totally worth a visit. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mario's Restaurant in Detroit

For 62 years, Mario's has been serving up some very fine vittles in its little corner on Second near Detroit's Eastern Market. It's like an enjoyable and nostalgic walk back through time. The waiters still wear tuxedos and treat you like you are a special guest. They offer complimentary shuttles to just about any downtown venue like the opera, Red Wings, Lions or Fisher Theatre. Before partaking of a fine italian meal, you are always offered that lovely veggie and relish tray as soon as you are seated. The food and service are always memorable.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dell Pryer Gallery in Detroit

Dell Pryor Gallery is located in the Spiral Collective on Cass near Woodward Avenue. This area is really developing as far as artsy fartsy stuff goes as you are within walking distance of at least six galleries. Dell Pryor had its beginnings in Harmonie Park and five years ago moved to this new location. They host exhibits, gallery talks, lectures, performance art and poetry readings.