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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Village of Franklin's Franklin Grill

The building's history goes back to 1840 in the Village of Franklin when it was used as a blacksmith's shop. We were so pleased to discover this little piece of heaven called the Franklin Grill and Tavern yesterday. Their wine list is delightful with many great selections. The atmosphere is fetching and beckons you to linger over appetizers and drinks. Service was attentive. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the gatherings around the firepit. We will return for some of Chef Tim Citka's specialties like Lake Superior whitefish and the dried cherry lamb chops. However you bring in the new year--may it be merry.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gail Hiller Michigan Potter

You'll find Gail Hiller's pieces of Michigan pottery in various art shows around the state.  She hails from Beverly Hills and has been producing her beautiful pieces for a couple of decades now.  If you are Smitten with the Mitten, they make wonderful accent pieces in your home and for those who live elsewhere and retain lovely memories of our state.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Polonia Restaurant in Hamtramck

If we are anywhere near Hamtramck, the potato latkes call to us.  You can get the authentic homemade kind at Polonia Restaurant where they are served with a squeeze bottle of sour cream! Of course all your other Polish favorites are available here also, like dill or blood soup, stuffed cabbage, pierogies and smalec ze skwareczkami. They know what they are doing and it's been oozing old world charm since the 1920's. Anothony Bourdain filmed a great segment of his No Reservations here. Viva Polonia!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Peterson Mill in Saugatuck

That's the end of our mild December temperatures! If you long for summertime and the cold has got you down, try an Internet jigidi jigsaw puzzle of the Peterson Mill in Saugatuck, one of the most photographed spots in that Lake Michigan town. Just use your cursor to move them around and when the piece fits, they lock together like a magnet. Pretty ingenious.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mt Clemens' Engine house

Located on Cass Avenue by the railroad tracks is The Engine House in Mt Clemens, a sports bar with great pizza owned by 3 former Detroit firemen and the chef, Dennis Capozzoli. This intersection has been the hub of activity for over 130 years and the building, across from the historic depot where Thomas Edison learned telegraphy, has had a colorful history. With a wide variety of food offerings from buffalo wings and calamari to ribs, sandwiches, salads, eggplant parmesan and pizza, you'll find something for everyone and it's open every day of the week.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Inkster's Santa

Inkster has a large display of a Santa with a darker skin color than that presented by Clement Moore in his famous poem "The Night before Christmas". If you dig back in history, you'll find that the origin of St Nicolas is Turkey, which would make sense that his skin pigment is not white. But in our imaginations, Santa can represent whatever ethnic background we want him to match. We love the one in Inkster. It catches our eye.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pilgrim Church in Detroit

If you've read Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith or seen the movie, then you know all about Pilgrim Church on Brainard in Detroit. Their ministry, "I Am My Brother's Keeper" was founded by Pastor Henry Covington, who passed away a year ago this month. Donations from around the world poured in to help fix their "Hole in the Roof".  They continue to shelter people in their gymnasium at night after they've been provided with a hot meal. The Venetian gothic edifice dates back to 1881 when it was the Trumbell Avenue Presbyterian Church. They still use the 1889 Granville wood tracker organ with its 29 pipes which was constructed in Northville, Michigan. It was very busy here last week as community members were lining up for bags of food. Pilgrim Church genuinely helps people, letting everyone know that we all have different backgrounds but that we all share in the same incredible truth that "God has shown His grace to us through the birth of His son, Jesus."  Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

St Mark's Chapel Harsens Island

On Harsens Island, St Mark's Chapel has been overlooking freighters and other ships gliding by in the channel for more than 100 years. They have a beautiful outdoor nativity display. They also observe the custom of Oplatek, those thin rectangular wafers that are shared amongst family members at Christmas time. It begins before the meal and as each piece is broken off and shared, we tell people how important they are to us and ask them to forgive and to forget any misunderstandings or blunders on our part. It's pretty humbling. God's blessings.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Campus Martius Christmas Tree

There's something magical about Detroit's Campus Martius and its beautiful Christmas tree. This huge 60 foot norway spruce is filled with gorgeous lights and jingle bells which epitomize the season.  Throw in the adjacent ice skating and you have the makings of a very fine date or family outing. The tree came from a 4H center near Cadillac.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries

DRMM or Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries is celebrating 102 years of helping people. They've been all over the paper lately, putting people in a new home for Christmas, providing emergency shelter, food and clothing for the less fortunate as well as creating and supporting a school in Haiti. Right now, they are in need of HUGS (Hygiene items, undergarments, gloves and socks). Donations can be dropped off from 8-5pm at their headquarters on Stimson, close to Wayne State's Campus, off Woodward, south of MLK Blvd. Their mission is to rebuild the inner city, one life at a time. Earlier this year, we featured their restaurant in Highland Park here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has some rabid fans when it comes to hockey.  With their lop-sided 8-2 victory over the LA Kings Saturday and squeaking out a victory over the Oilers on Monday, they are set to take on the Canucks tonight as they scrapple with the Blues and the Blackhawks for first place. If you're a Detroit hockey fan than you know all about Datsyuk, octopi, Franzen, the Joe, Howard and hat tricks. Amen. We featured this team and their arena a couple of years ago here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gingerbread Houses at MSU's Kellogg Center

Festive gingerbread houses were recently on competitive display at the Kellogg Center of Michigan State University in East Lansing. This gem of a hotel and conference center which currently is celebrating 60 years, is the pride and joy of the university's hotel and restaurant management department. Their State Room restaurant is featuring a wine dinner with Michigan's delicious Black Star wines on January 18th. With its phenomenal services, 160 hotel rooms and adjacent 1000 spot complimentary parking garage, it is extremely popular with the green and white crowd.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Octagon House in Shelby Township

Octagonal homes were quite popular back in the mid 1800's but very few have survived into present day. The Loren Andrus Octagon House in Shelby Township has a large group of supporters who have worked tirelessly to preserve and restore this beautiful home. This 1860 victorian structure has a spiral staircase that goes all the way up to the cupola. It is open at various times throughout the year for teas, open houses and holiday events. A quilters' guild meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 10 to 2 to sew and enjoy the ambiance. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Tribute Tree in Grosse Pointe Farms

The Tribute Tree is part of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms.  Anyone can purchase a light in someone's honor or memory for $10. The honoree is then sent notification and a photo of the tree. They say the gift of light is a gift of love. The War Memorial is a state and national historical site and serves as a center of enrichment to honor our veterans.  It used to be the home of the Alger family, built in 1910.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pride of Detroit at The Henry Ford

In 1927, just a few months after Lindbergh made his historic flight across the Atlantic, two men from Detroit, Ed Schlee and Billy Brock, tried to fly around the world. They had made it from Michigan hopscotching all the way to Tokyo, but a monsoon and pleas from their families and maybe an ounce of sanity made them abort and take a ship to Seattle from Japan, thus completing their journey around the world in 18 days. Their plane, the Pride of Detroit, is displayed at the Henry Ford with details of their heroic efforts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holcombe Beach in Sterling Heights

A beach in landlocked Sterling Heights, you say? This we had to see on Dodge Park Rd at Metro Parkway where Heritage Junior High is currently sitting. Turns out, it's a beach that used to be --in 9000 BC.  The University of Michigan spent five years conducting an archaelogical  dig near here some 50 years ago of an ancient Paleo Indian settlement.  Around 7,000 artifacts consisting mostly of arrowheads and flint chips were unearthed along with the caribou that they hunted.  Scientists in the know claim this site rivals the major finds in Mexico, Canada and New Mexico.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Legends of Time Milford in Rochester

There is a Native American art gallery in both Rochester and Milford. We were lucky enough to run into Eagle Flying High a.k.a. Dan DeClark, in his Legends of Time store in Rochester last weekend, as he was crafting his own unique dream catchers. Haunting strains of flutes follow you throughout store that is filled with beautiful pottery, jewelry, notecards, pipes, apparel, books and a huge amount of hand crafted objets d'art.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Foodies in Dowagiac

You can eat real food at Foodies --a delightful new café in Dowagiac serving homemade vittles for breakfast and lunch. A graduate of MSU Hotel/Restaurant, Chef David Heflin is dedicated to real quality food and craftsmanship. Have you ever had glumpy, prepackaged dark yellow hollandaise sauce? Not at Foodies.  They make each egg benedict with its hollandaise sauce to order. Free wifi for those of us who are hooked on the Internet. Thanks, Sara, for the tip and photo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery in Warren

African Americans were denied burial in many cemeteries in the Detroit area, or were charged more or were restricted to burials on certain days and at certain inconvenient hours. A group of business owners pooled their resources and bought a large tract of land in the northwest corner of Warren on 13 and Ryan and developed the 85 acre Detroit Memorial Park in the 1920's. Frances Ballard, a Supreme singer, is buried here as well as state senator Charles Diggs, Jr. The Real McCoy is interred here also, that is Elijah McCoy. This son of escaped slaves was a prolific inventor and is credited with developing the drip cup for the lubrication of machinery.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Upton House in Sterling Heights

Michigan experienced another gorgeous weekend weatherwise, as it was sunny but chilly. The Upton house in Sterling Heights was bathed in sunshine and begging for a photo to be taken. Built in 1866 out of brick, it is a great monument to the past. The style, with that darling cupola on top, is Italianate. It stood on 138 acres of farm land owned by William Upton adjacent to the Clinton River. The restoration of this beautiful home took place in the 1980's and it is now used for city public offices as it is next to the police station and library on Utica Road at Dodge Park.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

South Pier Lighthouse in South Haven

The distinctive 36 foot tall red stack is a favorite on the west coast of Michigan since 1903 when it was commissioned. This South Pier Light is preserved today by the Historical Association of South Haven. In the wintertime the lighthouse, pier and its elevated walkway are often covered with snow and ice.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hamtramck's Whiskey in the Jar

Whiskey in a Jar is a dive bar in Hamtramck that has an Internet jukebox and a pool table. Only a couple of draft beers available--Guiness and PBR--but lots of variety in bottles--even the Polish Okocim. It's known for its music--loud, metal and loud. Bathrooms are clean. Drinks are cheap. Bartenders are friendly. Parking is free. And the ratalope is their logo.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mother Waddles Perpetual Mission in Detroit

Mother Waddles, whose first name was Charleszetta, passed away ten years ago, but her mission work is carried on by her children. She was an activist and a spiritual leader in Detroit who opened a soup kitchen and provided food, clothing, job training, shelter and hope to the disadvantaged. She continued to work 10 and 12 hour days even into her eighties. She was a colorful outspoken woman who said, "I read the Bible.  It does not just say go to church.  It says do something." She began this mission work at age 36 when she had 10 children of her own. She was an ordained Pentecostal minister. She accumulated countless awards in her lifetime. Today, you can donate your car to the Mother Waddles Charity. She is buried in Detroit's Elmwood Cemetery.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Anton Art Center in Mt Clemens

The Christmas Market at the Anton Art Center offers handmade artifacts by more than 100 artists of which most are from Michigan. This tradition in Mt Clemens is in its 30th year and will last through the 22nd of December. The Anton Art Center has been using this building since 1969 for special art exhibits and shows which dates back to 1904 when it was designated as a Carnegie Library.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park

Deep dish, succulent pizza and outstanding salads--that's what we always go for at Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park. We have been patrons since it opened in 1977 and agree with the Free Press and the Metro Times when they voted it #1 in Detroit. Various signed photos by celebrities in the lobby say it is the greatest, too. Their house Chianti comes in wicker bottles.  Bring your Sharpies and write your message or draw pictures on the wicker with the date.  There are thousands hanging on the walls, in the bar and from the ceiling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Planet Ant in Hamtramck

There's a small thriving theatre since 1996 in Hamtramck called Planet Ant with seating for about 50 patrons.  We were able to catch the world premiere of Sunday Punch this past weekend and it was absolutely lovely.  Their talented actors delivered a play that is relevant, funny and poignant. You can also buy one of their chic t-shirts with the Planet Ant logo. It's easy to get to by taking the Caniff exit off 75 and going east a couple of blocks.  It comes with free street parking.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crocker House of Mt Clemens

Mt Clemens Historical Society members spend three weeks decorating the old Crocker Home for the holidays and it is a special treat to do a walk through of this home built in 1869 for Katherine and George Crocker. Trees are decorated in 1800's style with stringed popcorn and cookies tied with bows.  Many helpful docents enjoy giving you key information about each room.  We delighted in hearing an old Chapel Organ donated by the children of Agnes Milton Stone. The rooms will be filled with the Ghosts of Christmas Past this Thursday, December 8 from 5-9pm and these friendly spirits have a lot of stories to tell!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

St Petka in Troy

St Petka is a gorgeous Serbian Orthodox Church adjacent to Troy Athens High School in the city of Troy. The building whose cornerstone was laid in 2003 immediately attracts attention with its multi-domed structure reaching the heigth of 70 feet. It is a gathering place for the people from the Serbian village of Vratranica, near the Bulgarian border. The founding father of St Petka, Stevan Petrovich, passed away earlier this year.  His grandson, Kristijan Petrovich, currently serves as the parish priest.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mannino's Bakery in Sterling Heights

When you are voted #1 Bakery in Michigan, we have to investigate.  John and Nancy Mannino have owned and operated Mannino's Bakery in Sterling Heights since 1983. Cassata cakes, elegant tortes, breads and those addicting terrali cookies are their specialities. Looking for tiramisu? angel wings? truffles? bûche de noël? They've got all your goodies for your Christmas parties.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Antler Bar in Pentwater

The Antler bar is a a long time anchor on the Main Street of Pentwater. It's a casual dining spot with a pool table, a jukebox and good food (portobello burger, portobello fries, perch dinners) at reasonable prices.  They bill themselves as a family tavern.  We enjoyed their renovated second floor.  In the summertime, the upstairs outdoor deck overlooking the harbor is a beauty place to linger over a lemonade.  Now, the whole town is celebrating Christmas in the Village through December 24th. Every shop and restaurant up and down the avenue is all decked out for the holidays.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Created in 1914, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's performances are now attended by almost a half million people a year. They give their outstanding shows at the acoustically gorgeous Orchestra Hall directed by Leonard Slatkin. Branford Marsalis is performing on his jazzy alto saxophone this weekend and the perennial Home for the Holidays is coming December 16-18. There is a free app for your smart phone which allows you to watch their live performances. How cool is that? It is called DSO to go.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jet's Pizza in Sterling Heights

It all started in Sterling Heights 33 years ago and now it is the 17th largest pizza franchise in the US. Yes, we are talking Jet's Pizza --deep dish delicious and crispy on the outside. With over 200 stores in 13 different states, we think they are worthy of this blog.  And we eat this yummy Michigan made 'za regularly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

If you tell someone you've been to Alpena, usually the first thing they ask you is, "Have you visited the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center"? This 20,000 square foot museum is the pride and joy of the city. When you walk in, it is eerily lit, like an underwater exploration. It is an awesome adventure of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and you don't even have to get wet in their high definition theater. You learn about hundreds of boats lying at the bottom Lake Huron in the area called "Shipwreck Alley" and see artifacts from many of the doomed sailing vessels. During winter hours, they are open every day except Sunday 10-5pm. And, the admission is free.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gim Ling in St Clair Shores

A laughing Buddha greets you as you walk into Gim Ling Modern Asian Restaurant in St Clair Shores. The dining room is tastefully decorated and the lovely artwork in the nooks and crannies enhances the whole experience.  But, on to the food which we found superb. We recommend the hot and sour soup and the shrimp egg foo young. Many plates are garnished with beautiful edible flowers. We will definitely return to this charming eatery on Harper.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The DIA's Inside/Out

Curiouser and curiouser we become when the art in our museum suddenly appears in our communities. We found this reproduction of François Millet's Reading the Story of Oenome on a shed at Eastern Market. This year the DTE Energy Foundation has helped fund the Inside/Outside project put on by the DIA. There are 80 pieces of art in Detroit and surrounding communities like Holly, Milford, Macomb, Warren, Franklin, Birmingham, Armada, Lake Orion, Oxford and Belleville. The DIA encourages viewers to post photos of the reproductions on their Flickr group and to geocache with the art. Each community that participates gets a free day at the museum. How many have you seen? You have until the end of November enjoy the current crop, but new ones will be installed in April.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Whitcomb Tower in St Joseph

The Whitcomb Tower building is a structure that Saint Joseph is very proud of. It used to be the Hotel Whitcomb, but has been refashioned as a retirement center.  Built in 1927, it is located on a high bluff overlooking the beaches of Lake Michigan. The unique distinctive square tower with its copper-covered dome is an icon of the city. It has been used as a retirement home now for 50 years.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday --shop from home at

Today is Black Friday and many stores have been open since 9pm last night.  An alternative to fighting the crowds is to do your shopping on the computer. is offering 20% off today only.  Congratulations to our just incredible player, Justin Verlander, who won not only the AL Cy Young but the MVP as well.  We could not be prouder. Who's your Tiger? 132 days until opening day, April 5 at Comerica Park. Woot! Woot!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lisa Jarrell's Expressions of Earth in Fowlerville

Love and gratitude is what Thanksgiving is all about and Lisa Jarrell's works embody that message. This artist from Fowlerville creates jewelry, notecards and art pieces that are filled with hearts and words of wisdom in mixed-media.  Her creations are available at State of Mind Gallery in Northville which features dozens of cool Michigan artists. You can see more at Lisa's website called Expressions of Earth. She will create original artwork from your ideas as well. May you be blessed this Thanksgiving......enjoy your family, friends, turkey and GO LIONS!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

St Clair Shores' Ardmore Café

The Ardmore Café recently began serving dinner in addition to lunch.   The food was great as was the service and ambiance.  The building was one of the early farm homes in St. Clair Shores.  During prohabition it served as a brothel and drink place.  Every room in the building is filled with charm including a great gift boutique, a clothing corner and a pastry shop!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Urban Attic in St Clair Shores

Meet Jennifer Flynn--the owner and curator for the Urban Attic in St Clair Shores. This delightful store offers a second life for unique treasures and vintage finds as well as many beautiful creations by Michigan artists. Be sure to check out the handbags made from old novels and the button bracelets. Jennifer's shop is in Suite One of Ardmore Park Place on Little Mack.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Deer Hunting in Raber

Raber is a tiny little town in the UP with a population of 670 people on the St Mary's River. It is known for its great fishing hole on Raber Bay where anglers seek out herring, smelt and walleye. They also have a penchant for Detroit Lions football! In November it is home to the deer hunters. Thanks for the photos, Monty.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shrine Chapel: Our Lady of Orchard Lake

A unique chapel lies at the heart of Orchard Lake Schools. Referred to as Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake, it will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. The main doors are rectangles of thick stained glass which, on a sunny day, form beautiful reflections on the floor.  The life sized carved statues behind the altar represent Christ and the apostles. The seating capacity is 750 people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Grayling's Buck Pole at Skip's Sports Shop

This may seem kind of geeky, queasy or gruesome to some people, but it is the heart of Michigan. Hunters proudly display their catch on the buck pole at Skip's Sports Shop in Grayling in mid November, the beginning of deer hunting season. Skip's has been doing this for over 50 years and Camp Grayling Conservation Club offers prizes for the youngest hunter, the first buck of the day, the largest, etc. Hats off to the hunters and here's to some good venison eating. Thanks for the photo, Linda Black, Grayling resident.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Hideout Bar in Clawson

Clawson's little dive sports bar is the Hideout on 14 Mile Road where you can get a burger, fries and a beer for $6. The brick pizza oven they are installing will make it even more alluring.  The glowing green neon makes it easy to spot. We hear tell it's a hangout, too, for former Red Wing, Darren McCarty.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trattoria Stella in Traverse City's Village

Up on the hill in Traverse City is a large complex that used to be the psychiatric hospital. Run by the state, it first opened in 1885. The mental ward closed in 1989, but the buildings were saved from being razed and have been beautifully renovated. It is now known as "The Village". There are condos, an art center, grocery stores and the lovely Trattoria Stella, an Italian bistro run by Chef Myles. This wonderful basement eatery serves heavenly food in an historic cozy atmosphere.  We loved it. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rouge Rouge Watershed

The River Rouge Watershed (over 450 square miles) is an extensive network of rivers and tributaries that runs through southeastern Michigan. It used to be massively polluted, but huge clean-up efforts in the 1990's have worked miraculous wonders.  It covers a huge urban area and very little of the pollution is industrial. For 25 years the Friends of the River Rouge (or FOTR) have been promoting its restoration and educating the public to step up and protect.  The fifth annual kayak tour was in September when 45 watercraft were plying the Rouge and promoting a healthy river system.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ray's Ice Cream in Royal Oak

Ray's Ice Cream in Royal Oak has been dishing out their homemade frozen scoops since 1958. The family run business on Coolidge just north of Normandy is a beacon for ice cream lovers. With 50 different flavors to choose from, you're sure to be able to indulge in a favorite or two. You have to love their 50's décor as well with their curvy formica counters and red bar stools. They've even preserved the music from that era. We give it 5 stars because they even stay open seven days a week until 9pm all year long!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Clinton River Trail in Oakland County

Graced with another sunshiny, gorgeous Saturday in November, we hit the Clinton River Trail in Oakland County. This 16 mile beautifully maintained path is for joggers, bikers, hikers and anybody who wants to use their own human power to propel themselves out in nature. We picked up the trail in downtown Rochester, but it also runs through Sylvan Lake, Pontiac and Auburn Hills.  It connects to the Paint Creek Trail and the Macomb Orchard Trail which together provide one of the most well connected networks in the country.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Marian Grotto in Orchard Lake Village

We never cease to be amazed at the variety and beauty of what can be found in Michigan. Overlooking beautiful Orchard Lake is a unique structure called the Marian Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes which is visited by an estimated 25,000 people a year. It is on the campus of St Mary's Preparatory School and the Orchard Lake Campus of Madonna University. In 1941 Josephine Rzeppa, a Detroit business woman, donated $5000 which was used to build the shrine in just 31 days using tufa rock from Blue Hole, Ohio.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ciccone Vineyard in Suttons Bay

Many wineries are thriving in the Leelanau Peninsula with the waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay tempering the climate.  They prevent early blossoming and hold off the first frost and then the heavy snows protect the vines all winter long.  The Ciccone Vineyard in Suttons Bay is a fun place to tour.  Even in November, they are open Thursday through Sunday for tastings and tours. Tony Ciccone, the owner, is the father of the singer, Madonna, hence some of their wines have been so labeled. They have several gold and silver medal winners.