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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Polish Art Center

The Polish Art Center was originally founded in 1958 by a Polish immigrant who sold the business in 1974 to current owners Raymond and Joan Bittner. The Center celebrates Poland and the rich cultural traditions of Poland. Doreen attended a pisanki making (delicately decorated Easter Eggs) class with fellow DIA Volunteers. We were all very impressed with the crystal, amber, jewelry and extensive collection of Boleslawiec stoneware dishes and accessories.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wayne County Parks Annual Marshmallow Drop

When marshmallows fall from the sky, it's time for fun. The Annual Marshmallow Drop is this Good Friday, April 2, at two of Wayne County Park locations, 9 am at Elizabeth Park in Trenton and 11 am at Nankin Mills Park in Westland. Nankin Mills is located on Hines Drive just east of Ann Arbor Trail. Over 20,000 marshmallows will be dropped from a helicopter to the eager delight of hundreds of children divided by age groups. The kids turn the marshmallows in to the Easter Bunny for a prize.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lansing Skywalk


As soon as we saw it, we knew we had to do it. The Lansing skywalk connects the Convention center with the Radisson Hotel and goes right over the beautiful Grand River. Not having a fisheye lense, we have a composite of three photographs here which is why you see a little bend in that tube which really doesn't exist! Downtown Lansing is a gorgeous place to meander with lots of touristy things to do.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Turner-Dodge House & Heritage Center

James Turner and his school teacher wife, Marion, built this lovely home on the banks of the Grand River in 1858. James was an originator of many public improvements to the state of Michigan and its capital city, Lansing. Their daughter Abby and son-in-law Frank Dodge expanded the home in the early 1900's. It is now owned by the city of Lansing and you can learn a bit of the history of the area and enjoy rotating exhibits. The current exhibit is on Brides to be followed by Spring Cleaning. The Turner-Dodge home is available for special events.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Plug Ugly on Belle Isle

Plug Ugly is the name of the horse of Civil War Major General Alpheus Starkey Williams (1810-1878). They are prominently displayed on Belle Isle. This man was known to everyone in Detroit as lawyer and judge, congressman, bank president, even newspaper editor and a postmaster besides his heroic efforts in both the Civil War and the Mexican War. He died of a stroke in the US Capitol building at age 68 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Clara's Station in Lansing

Clara's is a delightful restaurant which operates in Lansing's historic Michigan Central Railroad Station. The depot on Michigan Avenue operated from 1903 through 1972. The ambiance of this eatery includes antiques, like the bronze chandelier hanging from the cathedral ceiling, statue lamps from the Ransom E. Olds mansion, dining in an actual vintage train car and, of course, the very friendly staff. All aboard!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Motor City Brewing Works

You will love the Motor City Brew Pub. They have the most wonderfully crafted beers (of which their ghettoblaster is very well-known) and honest-to-goodness homemade pizza which they crank out of the tiniest of kitchens! They are into promoting all good things from Detroit, including locally grown produce. Manager Scott is pictured here with a bottle of their hard cider. They plan to cultivate apples from their own orchards. When the weather turns nicer, they have open air roof top seating. It's across the street from Traffic Jam & Snug, which we mentioned before in our blog here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dusty's Wine Cellar of Okemos


Former Michigan State students pointed us towards Dusty's Cellar across from Meridian Mall just east of the MSU campus. A recent outstanding lunch there confirms this recommendation. We have never had a more delicious Monte Cristo sandwich and the homemade soups were also excellent. A browse through the attractive store wafting fresh bread smells from the bakery made our decision unanimous. The Spartans were right --we love this place! The red Karantes wine, with an 88 point rating, is a super winner. You can also buy a unique variety (Top Shelf--Top 100 Wine Club) in a 6 pack of wine in a handy canvas tote for $60.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Michigan Library and Historical Center

This fantastic museum on Kalamazoo St in Lansing surrounds you with Michigan history from the prehistoric times through 1975. You can walk through a copper mine, visit a S & H Green Stamp store, a lumber barron's mansion, a one room school house, a 1930's bungalow, a Motown sound machine and more. The three story relief map of Michigan is so cool! The Michigan Library was transferred last year to the MI Dept of Education. Now it is facing a severe budget cuts and may lose their vast collection of genealogy, the largest in the US.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ann Arbor's Exhibit Museum of Natural History

The University of Michigan's Museum of Natural History showcases the natural sciences and anthropology with a special focus on Michigan. The entire second floor is dedicated to Michigan Wildlife. The children attending a birthday party here Saturday really enjoyed the mastodon and the docent's lively presentation. Who knew learning could be so much fun?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kirk in the Hills

Melrose Abbey of Scotland (where Robert the Bruce's heart is buried!) was used as a pattern for Kirk in the Hills. We heard they even took a piece of the abbey ruins and incorporated it into this gorgeous place of worship. The carillon tower, with 77 bells, is the world's largest. The Melrose Chapel off the sanctuary has some beautiful stained glass windows in the style of France's Chartres Cathedral. We experienced this intimate chapel for Taizé worship, which is a more introspective meditative style of prayer and music with lots of candles. Taizé at Kirk in the Hills take place the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm. This gothic presbyterian church is located on Long Lake Rd just west of Telegraph in Bloomfield Hills. Notice the rooster on top of the spire....every church steeple in France uses this symbol also.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Calumet Theater's Centennial Celebration

Happy 100th birthday to the gorgeous Calumet Theatre in Houghton County way up in the UP! This National Historic Landmark opened on Mar 20, 1900 and here is their newly hung curtain. So many famous people have graced their stage.....Sarah Bernhardt, Lon Chaney, John Phillip Sousa, and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr, just to name a few. The people of Calumet and surrounding communities have lovingly restored this beauty. Thank you to Laura Miller, Executive Director, for your insights and the use of your photo.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Achatz Pies Voted #1 in America


There's been so much buzz about these Achatz pies that we had to drive up Gratiot Avenue to check out the source. Said like "jackets" but without the J, they've been on Rachel Ray's, the Food Network and Good Morning America. Started by Wendy Achatz and family up in Armada, they have expanded to five other northern metro Detroit stores with another one opening soon in Beverly Hills. We purchased our pies still warm from the oven! The four berry is outstanding. Then we had to eat the rhubarb and then the dutch apple. We also went home with a quiche, homemade jam and a loaf of sourdough bread. Now we have to go back to try the lemon meringue, the French silk, the raspberry cream, the banana split pie.....oh my!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bistro 222

The latest buzz word is Bistro 222 of Dearborn where Chef Michael Chamas' sauteed lake perch is served with a lemon caper sauce on a bed of crispy garlicky and mashed potatoes. Open for lunch and dinner on Michigan Avenue, the food is delicious and the atmosphere is cozy. The American dishes are made with fresh local produce when available and have a definite European influence. We like their three word motto displayed on their window: Live, Love, Eat!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nemo's goes green!

Green building, green clothes, green beer and plenty of cheer at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Detroit's Corktown last weekend. The celebration continues! The parade's a wonderful place to run into old friends and family. Near the remnants of old Tiger Stadium is Nemo's on Michigan Avenue --a beloved bar downtown . In Play sports magazine named it one of the top 10 U.S. sports bars. Besides burgers and brews they shuttle to sports events.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lansing State Capitol

On March 16, 1847 Lansing, a swampy area in the middle of the lower peninsula, became our state capitol. The domed building was designed by Elijah E. Myers who patterned it after the US Capitol in Washington DC. His design, "Tuebor" meaning "I will defend", was so popular that he was hired to build several more state capitol buildings. The public tours are very informative, taking you right into the House of Representatives and Senate. Standing under the cast iron dome you get a pretty majestic view looking up. This National Historic Landmark is now 161 years old.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scott Fountain on Belle Isle

This beautifully carved marble fountain on the western end of Belle Isle is well-known and has been featured in movies throughout the years. It was donated by millionaire James Scott with the stipulation that a life size bronze statue of himself would also be present in this square. This decree caused much controversy as he wasn't much more than a lazy gambler with a foul mouth to boot. But, it's been a jewel of the island since 1925 and is gorgeous in the summertime. The architect, Cass Gilbert, also did the Detroit Public Library. Mar 15-21 is National Wildlife Week. We urge you to get your families outdoors and enjoy the bounty Michigan has to offer!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

St Patrick's Day Parade

Céad míle fáilte romhat - A hundred thousand welcomes is the greeting for the St Patrick's Day Parade in Detroit today which has been held since 1959. Sponsored by the UIS, the United Irish Societies, the parade can be viewed in Corktown on Michigan Avenue from 6th to 14th Streets beginning at 2pm. Corktown is an historic neighborhood, dating back to 1834, that was largely inhabited by the Irish. May your Irish eyes be smiling this week and may your feet be dancing to that sweet bagpipe music. Thanks, Drum Major Kenric Knecht, for your great photo of Detroit's Shrine Highlanders.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Players Guild of Dearborn

The talented Players Guild has been preforming in Dearborn for over 70 years! Everyone loves a "Who done it" by Agatha Christie. The Hollow is currently showing --a wonderfully acted play with three possible suspects, Edward (Mark Ripper), Girda (Cindy Contko) and Doris (Claudia Walrad). Some pretty famous actors have made appearances in their stage like George Peppard, Chad Everett and Tom Skerrit.

Friday, March 12, 2010

McClure's Pickles

Two Detroit boys named Bob and Joe McClure learned from their mom, Jennifer, how to pickle cucumbers in a divine manner. They started bottling them commercially in 2006 and as evidenced by their appearance on the Food Network, they are growing rapidly, expanding all the way to Brooklyn, NY. We bought these crisp and delicious spears in large 2 lb jars....one's garlic, the other spicy hot. You can find them at Eastern Market, the Royal Oak Market, Whole Foods and even the Black Lotus Brew Pub. McClure's Pickles are a great garnish for a bloody mary!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Fly Trap

Who in their right mind would name a restaurant the Fly Trap? Look no further than Fabulous Ferndale. It's a kitschy kind of place on Woodward just north of 9 Mile, a throw back to the 50's and the food is great! They sell bottled Swat Sauce made with habanero peppers. They serve some tasty huevos rancheros with black beans and pico de gallo. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MacArthur Bridge on the Detroit RIver

This is the bridge that leads to what once was Detroit's premier park: 900+ acres on Belle Isle. These 19 graceful arches span a half mile length over the Detroit River between Jefferson Avenue and the island. Opened in 1923 at the cost of 2 1/2 million dollars, it took more than 11 million to restore it in 1986. They renamed what was the Belle Isle Bridge in the 1940's in honor of the World War II general, Douglas MacArthur. But the island is slowly crumbling. The beautiful 1904 aquarium closed in 2005. The once cool elevated boardwalk zoo is closed. And the Grand Prix that was cancelled for 2009 has once again been cancelled for 2010. What can be done?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

A 2,000 year old sarcophagus!Ann Arbor is home to the outstanding Kelsey Museum of Archaeology with its collection of over 100,000 artifacts from the ancient and early medieval cultures of Egypt, the Middle East, Greece and Italy. This fascinating sarcophagus from the second century is so intricately carved. Do you see Bacchus and his bride in the chariot on the far left? The museum was first established by Francis W. Kelsey, a latin professor who spent every free minute buying up artifacts and going on digs. Housed in a cool 1891 building and formerly called Newberry Hall, is also a study center and research facility for scholars from around the world.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Detroit Kennel Club Dog Show

videoThousands of dog lovers from every corner of Michigan gathered this past weekend at Cobo Arena for the 90th Annual Detroit Kennel Club Dog Show. Visitors of all ages enjoyed a myriad of activities with over 150 purebred dogs registered with the American Kennel Club. In this video, crowds gathered to watch the adorable fox terriers chase the fake fowl to the finish line. This is a great event for a family looking for a day of fun or if you are a dog lover of any age. You can search for reputable a breeder or simply research what kind off dog is best for you. The terriers racing were having as much fun as the people watching!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

St Hugo

Charming Saint Hugo in Bloomfield Hills was built in two parts. The old stone chapel dates back to the 1930's, when the property for the church was donated by the MacManus family who lived there. The carillon tower with its 48 bells was dedicated in 2005 and is part of the newer, larger sanctuary built in the late 1980's. Many weddings, however, take place in the intimate stone chapel. There's a crypt below the vestibule containing the MacManus family remains.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ann Arbor's Arbor Brewery

A Europe experience often does this to people....resulting in a radical idea. That's what happened to Matt Greff back in the 80's when he tasted an honest to goodness fabulous beer in Germany. And you ask yourself, why can't we have this back in the states? Hence, the pretty awesome Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor. We so enjoyed the atmosphere in an 1800's transformed building with lovely wooden floors, the great food like fish tacos and black bean burgers and, yes, the beers, are indeed a delight. They feature many Michigan products. Their unique field trips are tempting, too. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Michigan Theatre

This awesome theatre in Ann Arbor was built in the art deco style in 1928. It's restoration is truly beautiful. We watched all the shorts here in February-- the ones nominated for awards. The Oscar broadcast for the best movies, directors, actors, film editing etc is Sunday night. Are you rooting for a favorite one? The 48th Ann Arbor film festival is coming March 23-28th.

To see this location on a map, click here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Indian Village

This area of 350 homes in Detroit bounded by Jefferson and Mack including Fisher, Burns, and Seminole streets is collectively known as Indian Village and is a national historic site. When taking people on tours of the Detroit area, they love seeing these gorgeous mansions many of which are over 100 years old. A few have large carriage houses. The early residents of these unique homes included the Fords, Dodges, Buhls and Strohs. June 5th is their 38th annual home and garden tour. It comes highly recommended!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

1800's Firehouse converts to Hands on Museum


Yes, these two buildings are part of the same Hands On Museum in Ann Arbor where you are encouraged to explore the world of science through the 250 exhibits that you can touch and experiment with. What first drew us here many years ago was having such a museum housed in a unique and historic 4 floor firehouse that was built in the 1800's --fun for adults and children. Having run out of space, they've expanded a few times incorporating adjacent buildings. Children love the colorful new and ultra modern entrance behind the firehouse.

To see this location on a map, click here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Breath of Fresh Air

Surely you were out and enjoying that sunshine yesterday on March first. Spring is definitely in the air! If Old Man Winter has gotten you down, then take a welcome break from the bleak cold inside the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle, designed by Albert Kahn. On our visit yesterday we found it peaceful, immaculate and filled with colorful blooms. A popular place for weddings, you can't appreciate the 13 acres of gardens that surround it yet, but it won't be long! It's open every day until 5 and it's free.

Monday, March 1, 2010

KIA'S Dale Chihuly: Glass Master

There's a 1998 Chihuly chandelier hanging in the entryway of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts that you cannot miss. It's a massive snakelike tangle of 400 orange and fiery red glass arms. The sculptor, Dale Chihuly, is known throughout the world for his massive glass-blown creations that evoke the sea and nature. The KIA has been in existence since 1924, but it's current facility will be 50 years old next year. You would never know it. Their '97 expansion and renovation make it one of Michigan's foremost museums.