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Friday, December 31, 2010

Saltwater at the MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit

Saltwater within the MGM Grand Hotel, is an award-winning outstanding restaurant in Detroit. Egyptian-born Celebrity Chef Michael Mina, known by foodies in San Francisco and Las Vegas, developed this one and the Bourbon Steak House in the MGM Grand as well. On the New Year's Eve menu tonight is is his signature caviar appetizer or you might want to go for the five pound Maine lobster entrée!  The desserts are masterpieces. This coconut sorbet with lava cake was the finishing touch to a perfect dinner we had here. Wherever you dine tonight, we wish you all a Happy 2011. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Buick Gallery in Flint

The Buick Automotive Gallery is contained within the last remaining building of the entire Buick plant in Flint. Amidst antique pumps and a Vernors Wagon are dozens of classic Buicks and Chevrolets including many concept cars. On display is the Hellcat Tank Destroyer which was used in World War II and built by Buick. It is part of the Sloan Museum, but although the Sloan Museum is open on Sundays, this special Buick Gallery is open Monday through Saturday only. Did you know that the founder of Buick, David Buick, was born in Scotland in 1854? He moved to Detroit with his parents as an infant. He and Benjamin Briscoe formed the Buick Motor Company (the oldest American car manufacturer) in 1903 when David was 49 years old. Taking a stroll through the Buick Gallery is like walking back through history.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meyer May Home in Grand Rapids

The Meyer May Home in Grand Rapids is the most completely restored Frank Lloyd Wright house in America! Built in 1909 for a well-to-do Grand Rapids businessman, it was Wright's first important architectural project in Michigan. Vacant and having fallen into disrepair, the company Steelcase purchased the home and painstakingly restored it in 1987 after considerable research.  Tours of the home are free and they are well worth it.  Seeing the sunlight dancing through the stained glass windows or the hollyhocks on the dining room wall as well as his open spaces and minimalist style surely make you appreciate a man who was way ahead of his time. Frank's spirit oozes from its walls.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Honeyflow Farm in Dryden

Michigan may experience more than its share of dark and dreary days, but we have learned to make our own sunshine. The Honeyflow Farm in Dryden raises bees and sells their own honey and pure natural beeswax candles (with 100 styles to choose from). It is also the largest producer of grapes in Southeast Michigan. People buy them to make their own jelly, juice and wine. Some buy the honey to make mead! We purchased their candles on-line, but they gave us the option of saving shipping by picking it up at the farm. We couldn't resist taking a peek yesterday!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fox Theatre in Detroit

Did you catch the production of Dreamgirls last night at the Fox Theatre? How fitting that they performed on the same stage that saw The Supremes! A stone's throw from the Detroit Opera House, it was built in 1928 by the same architect, Charles Howard Crane. At the time, it was the second largest theatre in the world and it had a heck of a run.  Mike Ilitch, whose Little Caesar's Headquarters moved here, was its savior in 1987, manning a $12 million dollar renovation. Known as "the Temple of Amusement", it has an opulent 10 story lobby! Restored to its 1920's glory, you have to see it to believe it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Detroit Opera House

The Detroit Opera House is home to the Michigan Opera Theatre which puts on several operas per year like La Bohème last month and the Magic Flute and Rigoletto, playing this Spring.  The world premier of Cyrano De Bergerac, written by MOT's director David Dichiera, was held here in October 3 years ago. This venue also hosts some fabulous dance and ballet companies. The Nutcracker was just performed here and coming up is the Joffrey Ballet and Alvin Ailey. The musical Mary Poppins ("Magic on stage" according to the Free Press!) is currently performing through January 2, 2011. The building, which dates back to 1922, was extensively renovated by the MOT and reopened in 1996 and is a pretty glorious showplace.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Livonia

The Free Press declared this home in Livonia as one of the best Christmas displays of the year.  Synchronized to music, if you put your radio station on 88.5 you can listen to the carols and messages spoken which honor the birth of Christ while blinking lights dazzle and dance. Blessings to all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is about the birth of the Christ child for which there are thousands and thousands of churches across our state tonight holding services, lighting candles and praying for peace.  And we celebrate the birth of twins, Andrew and Mary, who through the miracle of modern medicine at St Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac and much prayer were able to survive birth two months prematurely. Last Christmas, we featured Edgar A Guest, who is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery on Woodward south of 8 Mile. On Christmas Eve, we feature another of his poems today in honor of those serving in our armed forces and the families who await their safe return.

A Christmas Greeting

Here's to you, little mother,
With your boy so far away;
May the joy of service smother
All your grief this Christmas day;
May the magic of his splendor
Thrill your spirit through and through
And may all that's fine and tender
Make a smiling day for you.

May you never know the sadness
That from day to day you dread;
May you never find but gladness
In the Flag that's overhead;
May the good God watch above him
As he stands to duty stern,
And at last to all who love him
May he have a safe return.

Little mother, take the blessing
Of a grateful nation's heart;
May the news that is distressing
Never cause your tears to start;
May there be no fears to haunt you,
And no lonely hours and sad;
May your trials never daunt you,
But may every day be glad.

Little Mother, could I do it,
This my Christmas gift would be:
That he'd safely battle through it,
This to you I'd guarantee.
And I'd pledge to you this morning
Joys to banish all your cares,
Gifts of gold and silver scorning,
I would answer all your prayers.

Edgar Albert Guest 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mount Holly Ski and Snowboard Resort

In southeast Michigan we enjoy the winter resort of Mount Holly in the city of Holly, off I-75. They call it "Where the north begins". With 13 lifts, 17 ski trails and 100 acres of ski terrain, it's an affordable and fun place for the city dwellers who don't have the time to trek 4 hours north.  It's a warm-up, practice area for the big slopes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint

Crossroads Village in Flint with its Huckleberry Train are well worth a visit in the summertime, but it is quite special at Christmas.  Last night the weather was just perfect, holding at 30 degrees and the snow, of course, put everyone in a great mood as Christmas carols were blaring over the speakers.  The train with its lights, wreaths, steam engine and whistle toots totally delighted the crowds. Many passenger cars are able to handle the crowds that want to take a ride on these vintage trains. The Village is part of the Genesee County Parks which has been carefully and strategically adding historical buildings to the site since it opened in 1976.  Today there are 30 of them like the toy barn, a cider mill, grist mill, doctor's office, and a 1912 carousel. Costumed carolers add a great deal of fun and there is live entertainment at the Colwell Opera House. You can even mail postcards from the Crossroads Village US Post Office. It is open through December 30th.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Schuler Bookstore in Okemos

Schuler Books and Music, indigenous to our state, are the largest independent bookstores in the nation.  We are blessed to have not one, but 5 of them in Michigan. There are three in the Grand Rapids area where it started and one in Lansing and the one pictured above is in Okemos. They are also known for their music. Two weeks ago the Okemos store had a harpist in for everyone's enjoyment. Tonight it is the Lazet Percussion Ensemble at 6:30. It has been owned and operated since 1982 by the book/music loving couple of Cecile and Bill Fehsenfeld. For your reading/listening pleasure, they also offer a gourmet café.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids

Founders' Brewery right in downtown Grand Rapids really surprised us. We arrived at 5pm on a Saturday and it was wall-to-wall packed.  Even the long bar did not have a seat available. ranked them as the 4th best brewery in the world. They've won many medals in recent beer competitions and has several of their beers listed among their top 100 beers of the world.  Obviously they are doing something right! The atmosphere is unpretentious with a huge glass wall separating the restaurant area from the brewing process which encourages public observations and exudes pride of operation. We not only enjoyed their brews, we thought their food was outstanding.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meadowbrook Hall in Rochester

Meadowbrook Hall in Rochester Hills, part of Oakland University, is a lovely home to tour anytime of the year, but it is especially beautiful during the Christmas holidays. The home of Mathilda Dodge Wilson (widow of John Dodge) was completed in the 1920's and is considered one of the outstanding auto baron dwellings in Michigan. There are over 100 rooms in this spectacular edifice, making it the fourth largest historic house museum in the US. In 1957, the home, 1500 acres of land and 2 million dollars were donated by Mathilda and her second husband Arthur Wilson, with the stipulation that a university be built upon it. She gave a diamond ring to every student in the first graduating class in 1963. For the first time this year, you can climb the narrow stairway leading to the children's playrooms above the library.  A collection of 500 bears is on loan from a lady in Port Huron that are used for decoration! Docents enjoy telling all the little details.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tanger Outlet Mall in Howell

The Tanger Outlet Mall in Howell attracts a whopping 3 million visitors a year. We have a German friend, Rolf, who comes frequently for business to the Detroit area. He's a devotee of US shopping and told us this Tanger Mall on Burkhart Road is his favorite. The day we visited, there was even a large local chorus providing entertainment. These 75 or more stores receive goods direct from the factories and prices reflect up to a 70% discount. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Voigt House in Grand Rapids

A fine example of victorian architecture can be seen in the historical district of Grand Rapids at the Voigt house. A team of volunteers arrives in November to painstakingly decorate for Christmas according to the late 1800's time period.  The results are stunning.  Hostesses dressed in bygone attire guide visitors through each lovely furnished room breathing life and history into this exquisite home.  What a treat. The last tours are this weekend. Dec 20-30 they hold kids camp where the young ones can learn about 100 year old holiday traditions and get into some hands-on baking and craft-making.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bethlehem Alive! in Coopersville

A unique tradition called an indoor living nativity has been the focal point of Little Farms Chapel on December weekends for more than 20 years.  People come from miles around Grand Rapids to experience it.  They leave the larger animals outdoors like the donkeys and the horses. Wandering around the village, you can see people set up in their markets, selling different foods like the fishmonger above. Children work right alongside adults weaving rugs, making baskets, baking bread and selling pottery. A number of beggars in the streets lend authenticity to the Bethlehem village.  The local inn had no rooms available. Eventually you follow the light to a chorus of angels and the manger scene we are all familiar with.  Kudos to this small Coopersville church who has obviously put in a lot of time and research on this living tableau.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gerald R Ford Museum in Grand Rapids

The Gerald R Ford Museum in Grand Rapids is a place all Michiganders should visit at some point in their lives. There is lots of history here displayed very attractively. Upon entering, you cannot help but notice the golden colored presidential seal doorknob. Christmas on the Grand is their special exhibit of handmade quilts made by local ladies and uniquely decorated trees sponsored by various local service organizations. The upper floor is devoted to the 38th president of the United States, Gerald Ford, who grew up and married in Grand Rapids. Everyone can learn something from these exhibits. That Huey helicopter sure brought back memories.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coopersville Santa Train

Coopersville is about 15 minutes west of Grand Rapids and it offers families a phenomenal train ride on old-time passenger cars with Santa....and his cute little elves. A story-telling princess reads the classic "Polar Express".  Did you know its author, Chris Van Allsburg, is a Grand Rapids native? There are several scheduled Santa rides Dec 18th and 19th.  A 1950's locomotive pulls the 4 passenger cars and the caboose all the way to Marne and back.  Don't miss out!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa visits the Howell Nature Center

Knocked our boots off the Howell Nature Center surely did this past weekend. It was quite astounding to see close to 300 acres of such pristine beauty so near to the metropolitan area. Their mission is education and rehabilitation of wildlife. Those they cannot re-release into the wild, they keep for visitors to enjoy, which is why we saw this bird up close taking a bath in sub-freezing temperatures.  Other visible critters include a great horned owl, coyotes, possums, a flying squirrel, an eagle and Santa! Yes, in one of their beautiful lodge buildings overlooking Pleasant Lake, they hold breakfasts with Santa on the weekends. Kids were squealing with delight as they could see the Jolly Old Elf peeking in the windows out on the deck before he made his grand entrance. If that is not enough, they have hayrides with Santa in the evening. Plenty of groups and organizations use this idyllic setting for retreats year-round, as they have enough lodges and housing for over 200. They are selling beautiful Christmas trees daily until they run out.  They put them in a machine to shake any snow and loose needles off of them. The gift shop is super cute, too.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Troy Museum and Historical Village

On the corner of Wattles Rd (17 Mile) and Livernois, stands the recreated Troy Historical Village.  Volunteers have cleverly worked over the years to gather all these wonderful buildings in one area.   It's like a walk back in time.  Pictured here is an 1837 church with stained glass windows over 100 years old. It's a wonderful intimate place for wedding services today!  Visitors are encouraged to sit at desks in the Poppleton one-room school house built in 1877. The general store is a recreation of the one that was built in 1832, but demolished almost 50 years ago.  Also in the village is a beautiful Greek revival home dating back to 1832, a log cabin from the 1840's and a very cool blacksmith shop filled with memorabilia from a bygone era and much more. Some very knowledgeable docents with a passion for history love to show you around.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cheeky Monkeys Foods from Goodrich

We found some delightful tidbits at the Royal Oak Farmers' Market--organic pumpkin scones made by Cheeky Monkeys, out of Goodrich southeast of Flint. A certain someone ate the entire bag and can attest to their addictabillity--which is not a word in our language but should be!! So, we succumbed again when we found those Cheeky Monkeys at the Birmingham Winter Market and bought their mint chocolate chip scones, their cranberry apricot scones, their cranberry almond scones and their ginger scones....they were out of pumpkin. They make great holiday gifts!  Warning though--if you open the bag and eat won't be able to resist returning for more.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills

If you are interested in cars and you're a history buff, then the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills will be a treat for you. Through December 30th, they are featuring Cars, Trees and Tradition. Vehicles are grouped according to time periods and the Christmas tree decorations also reflect that era.  We were very surprised to see this mid-50's pink and white La Femme. Do these names mean anything to you? --a Hudson Roadster, a Plymouth Prowler, a Nash Sedan?  Come relive the past or learn about it viewing all three floors in this beautifully maintained museum.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

35th Annual Potter's Market in Madison Heights

The 35th annual Potter's Market in Madison Heights took place Dec 3-4-5th. Put on by Oakland Community College, more than 100 artists sell all kinds of beautiful hand-crafted clay work from jewelry to hanging pieces, plates, bowls, mugs, decorative pieces, serving dishes and more. It was held in a huge warehouse and very well organized.  Is it any wonder they sell 30,000+ pieces of art in a weekend? They call it the largest pottery sale of its kind in the country. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cranbrook House in Bloomfield Hills

Cranbrook's 319 acres are filled with beauty and charm in Bloomfield Hills.  The greenhouse, part of the Cranbrook home, has been offering special holiday plant sales on Saturdays. The beautiful residence is open for Cocoa and Cookies with Santa this coming Saturday and the Holiday Tea takes place Wednesday and Thursday Dec 9 and 10th at both 1:15 and 4:15pm.  It is a great opportunity to tour this historic home, designed in 1908 by Albert Kahn, and decorated for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Royal Oak Museum--Pearl Harbor Remembered

It opens today--the Pearl Harbor exhibit in the Royal Oak Historical Museum.  The fire station, dating back to 1928, was restored and opened as a museum housing the Royal Oak Historical artifacts about eight months ago. The exhibit opens tonight from 4-8pm, featuring memorabilia from Pearl Harbor Day and World War II.  We haven't seen what it entails yet, but we are looking forward to the event. This special show will run until March 19th. Come learn about "the day that will live in infamy".

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Market in Birmingham's Shain Park

It was a very festive atmosphere at Birmingham's first Winter Market in Shain Park this past weekend. This three-day event was a German-style outdoor market, and fortunately, the weather was a warmish 32 degrees and the winds were not howling! Lovely ice sculptures were everywhere and lots of people were enjoying the carriage rides. There were dozens of little white tents decked out with greenery and red bows offering all kinds of goodies and holiday gift ideas amidst Marshall Fredericks' soaring sculpture.  An outdoor food area was set up at the Community House with a few brave folk eating around the tables. Everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills

What a treat it was to be at Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills yesterday. The church itself is an astounding piece of architecture, but the crowd was delighted with Ian McEwan's reading of The Night Before Christmas, the medley of seasonal songs by the St Dunstan's Ensemble and the sheer joy and energy from the Mosaic Youth Theatre group. Add the flute soloist and the resounding organ playing, and well, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chi-Town, Union Station in Commerce

The town of Commerce, west of Pontiac, is home to a museum that houses one of our nation's largest displays of Model "O" trains. Chi-Town Union Station holds the record for the world's longest model train. We saw an engine pulling over 200 cars. Paul Gribbell, the creator of this marvelous display, has them up and running in a mock-up of Chicago from the days when railroads where the kings of transportation. Docents are on-hand to explain the history and the makings of the museum. Doesn't this make for great inspiration about what to put under your Christmas tree. The museum is open daily except Sunday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Atwater Brewery in Detroit

On Joseph Campau St in Detroit's rivertown district, you'll find a brewery hidden away....near the water's edge in an historic 90 year old factory. It's the Atwater Brewery which doesn't look like much from the outside, but you'll be pleasantly surprised upon entering.  The beers, made in the German lager style, are known way beyond our Michigan borders.  Our state's Montmorency cherry concentrate goes into the cherry stout.  Why the hands on the draft pulls, you ask?  If represents how we pinpoint where we are from in our state. Atwater is clearly marked in the flesh of the palm.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Detroit Repertory Theatre

The Detroit Repertory Theatre, offering four fine productions a year, located on Woodrow Wilson near the Lodge (M-10) Freeway/Davison intersection. It is currently in its 54th season and is known as Michigan's oldest alternative professional theatre. They offer food and beverages during intermission as well as before and after theatre. It's a small intimate place where every seat has a great view. The world premier of Elena Hartwell's A Strange Disappearance of Bees is currently playing through December 26th.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Detroit Princess Riverboat Cruise

Traveling on the Detroit River on the Detroit Princess Riverboat can be a lot of fun no matter what the time of year.  Holiday cruises are running on the weekends in December with a large bash on New Year's Eve. Originally from Louisiana, the Detroit Princess has been plying our Detroit River offering wonderful cruises, food and entertainment for five years now.  The boat can carry over 1500 people and travels at 10 miles per hour.