Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peony Garden in Ann Arbor

Have you noticed there's a boatload of youngsters today that can't tell the difference between petunias, pansies and peonies amongst others? Now's the time to take them on a stroll! The Peony Garden in Ann Arbor, part of the University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum, is the largest collection of these types of blooms in North America!  It is so worth a visit.  The tree peonies are in bloom right now, but the rest--which look like a massive army--are just ready to burst.  We took these photos during a gorgeous hike on Memorial Day.  Their 70 different varieties of peonies peak in mid June. They were a gift of William Upjohn and family.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Resurrection Cemetery - Clinton Township

"...that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God, ...and that government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth." --Abraham Lincoln
A special service will be held at 11:00 am to remember those that honored us at
Resurrection Cemetery. This cemetery has beautiful sculptures throughout which may be be reason we see so many walkers there. Have a peaceful Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Josef's Pastries in Grosse Pointe Woods

Enough already with this soggy weather! Forced to make our own sunshine, we overindulged on the pastries at Josef's in Grosse Pointe Woods. They are celebrating 40 years in business and AAA Michigan Living Magazine has even recognized them as the best bakery in Michigan. Owner/Chefs Anthony and Jimmy bring their master pastry making skills all the way from Montréal. Woot! Woot! Let's see...shall we take another fruit tart please or a lemon meringue or a creme brûlée?  OK.  We bought all three.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Governor's Residence on Mackinac Island

Here we have a little peak at the three-story summer residence of the governor which is located on Mackinac Island's Fort Hill, giving it some commanding views of all the activity in the straits. Known also as the Lawrence A Young cottage for the Chicago attorney who had it built in 1902,  it has 11 bedrooms and almost as many bathrooms! The Mackinac Island State Park Commission purchased it in 1944 and has since maintained it and its beautiful gardens. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops help with Wednesday tours of this National Historic Landmark when the house is not is use.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Zoo-de-Mackinac Bike Adventure

Magnificent views on the Zoo-de-Mackinac make this a popular bike ride in northern Michigan. Starting in Harbor Springs, participants made a whole weekend of it May 20th-22nd, biking 50 miles up to the bridge then ferrying over to Mackinac Island. There were parties, great bands and thousands of friendly pedal-pushing outdoorsy types. Begun in 1990, it's a keeper and something to put on your bucket list. Thanks, Patty Weidman, for the great photo.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clinton Township Historical Society

We were really intrigued by the garden fencing around the flower bed at the old log cabin on the Clinton Township municipal property. How did they make that? Is it a rabbit proof fence? Settlers is this area really had to have a lot of patience. The buildings are open on the weekends. The senior center really rocks on Thursdays in Clinton Township with afternoon live music!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

60th National Square Dancing Competition

The exciting 60th National Square Dance Convention takes place next month at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit from June 22-25 which features round, square, contra, clogging and country line dancing. There's a section for youth under 18 to compete as well. You would be surprised to find out how many square dancing clubs there are in Michigan! They offer a great work out and they are certainly fun to watch! The photo above was taken last year at the Michigan Square Dance Competition at the Troy Marriott.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Portage Lake District Library in Houghton

The quote on the green wall says it all, by Thomas Jefferson, "I cannot live without books." Whether you read hard copies or e-books, our libraries are a national treasure. This one in Houghton sports an awesome view sitting on Lake Portage with large picture windows that probably make patrons want to linger and bask in the tranquility. This new facility is only 5 years old. The original library over on Huron Street was built in 1909 and is now occupied by the Carnegie Museum. The Portage Lake District Library serves Chassel, Portage and Houghton. Their library also offers Mango to their patrons free of charge.  It's an online language system that teaches conversation skills in many different languages.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pere Marquette Railtrail starts in Midland

May is Bike Month in Michigan. The weather this past weekend was perfect.  This is a peek at the Père Marquette Rail Trail which runs 30 miles from Midland all the way to Clare. It is 12 feet wide and the asphalt surface makes it a pleasure for walking, hiking, roller blading, jogging, biking and pushing babies in strollers. Michigan is one of the leading states in converting abandoned railroad lines to these beautiful trails. Users are delighted with the views from the PMRT of bridges, parks, rivers, historical sites, bogs, picnic areas, farmland and a portion even goes through Northwood University. Restrooms are provided at approximately the 10 and 20 mile marks. Where it cuts through towns, ice cream shops welcome everyone.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

St Anne's Church on Mackinac Island

The little white church just past the bustling downtown area on Mackinac Island is called St Anne's.  With a history going back to the 1600's and Père Marquette, it definitely stays open year round.  Attendance does swell in the summertime and it becomes a haven of respite for various international groups and even teens have their own night. But, everyone comes to worship when their work schedule permits as they have a service every day. An interesting fact about St Anne's is that that the church was located on the lower peninsula at Fort Michimilimackinac, but British soldiers who had relocated to Mackinac Island, pushed the church across the ice to the island in the winter of 1781!  Rebuilt in the 1800's, it is very well maintained.  We were blessed to hear the Barrington Children's Choir give a concert.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cup Dot Cake in Royal Oak's confession time. One of us has a severe weakness for those little French pastel macarons.  We stumbled upon a bakery on Crooks Rd south of 13 Mile in Royal Oak that specializes in them as well as cupcakes and with their unique name of Cup.Cake--you just can't forget them! And don't we enjoy introducing people to new things? Can you see the joy in these young girls' faces? The flavors Thursday were oreo, vanilla, strawberry lemonade and lime, but, wait--they change and make fresh ones daily! Perhaps you prefer bailey's cream or orange blossom? You really must try the ginger or the coffee or the blueberry! These would be a super hit at your next party.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington

There's a peaceful little oasis north of Stony Creek in Washington called the Capuchin Retreat Center. Set on 95 idyllic acres of gently rolling hills with a labyrinth for meditative walks, the staff welcomes people of all faiths to come renew their spirits. Stay for a few hours or several days.  Their accommodations include 47 rooms with private baths and their kitchen provides healthy meals. Thanks for the photo, Nancy Evans.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Beatrice Buck's Paradise Valley Park - Detroit

Paradise Valley Park is located where many of us remember Harmonie Park. It has been redone and dedicated on June of 2009 celebrating Detroit's individuals, families, businesses, the arts, entertainment and culture that thrived from the 1920's through the 1960's. It is a wonderful place (especially now with the tulips in bloom) to stop, sit and reflect all the things going on around the park! To learn more about Paradise Valley and Beatrice Buck click here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sterling Heights Public Library's Bears

The mother bear's feet are well worn as is her cub's nose because normally children are climbing all over this statue sitting so serenely in front of the Sterling Heights Library on Dodge Park. This beloved creation by Michigan artist Marshall Fredericks celebrates its 30th birthday this year. He must be our favorite artist, because we have featured him here, here, here and here before.  Did you know that Michigan was the first state to provide in its constitution for the establishment of public libraires? We love the one in Sterling Heights which is located not far from Dodge Park. It is a constantly busy place and residents enjoy making use of their collection of almost a quarter of a million books. With their electronic system, patrons queue up books on line from all over the county, and the library emails their patrons when those books arrive. Tonight's special guest at 7pm is Michigan author D.E. Johnson who wrote The Detroit Electric Scheme, a murder-mystery set in Detroit a hundred years or so ago.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center - Detroit

We discovered another jewel in Downtown Detroit's Paradise Valley - The Art's League of Michigan's Virgil H Carr Cultural Arts Center. If you enjoy architecture (just a walk through the 19th century Beaux Art style building is a treat), art (several different galleries and studios), artists and their studios, stop in anytime. While we were there a poetry reading was going on. This is an extremely beautiful venue to consider if you are hosting an event downtown. Our thanks to Mary Hollens, Development Director who engaged us and invited us in when we were visiting Beatrice Buck Park in Paradise Valley! Thanks, Mary!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Detroit Opera House

Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto runs through May 22 at the Detroit Opera House. The opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles and is about 2 1/2 hours long. It is filled with great talent, costumes and music. The Opera House itself was originally opened in 1922 in the Italian Renaissance style with a lot of crystal, gold leaf, frescoes and marble. Get there early to check out the beauty of the building, before enjoying a great performance.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hoedown at Hart Plaza - Detroit

The three day Downtown Hoedown at Hart Plaza ends night at 11 pm. It is said to be the World's largest free County Music Festival. The three day event brings over a million country music fans and people watchers to downtown Detroit. There are three stages of music where we heard Longneck Strangler (a local band) and Josh Gracin from Nashville.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bar Divani in Grand Rapids

The wine list at Bar Divani in Grand Rapids has been voted the best.  We enjoyed the intimate seating, the small plates concept, the delightful, cozy, comfy-stuffed chair atmosphere and of course, the food ;}. They not only have flights of cheese, but flights of wine, too. Grand Rapidians call it one of their top upscale dining establishments. We concur. Try the spicy tuna sushi rolls or the calamari with jalapeno aioli.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Parrot Cove in Troy

In search of the Detroit area's greatest margarita?  You'll have to put the Parrot Cove in Troy on your list. They are so potent, they limit customers to two each of these tasty libations. This quirky anomaly has been on Dequindre just north of 14 Mile since the 1990's and is sort of a step back in time.  Their Piedmontese burger is commendable as well as their prime rib and baby back ribs. Jimmy Buffet hats welcome.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Asia City Restaurant in Ypsilanti

Asia City Restaurant has a really cool facade on the outside and interesting decor on the inside. There are many large Asian Symbols on the the wall, we sat near the one which a bride and groom would traditionally sit in front of. There are wall size water fountains, tanks with fish, frogs, and food. One entire room (the size of many restaurants) is dedicated to the buffet! Fill your plate with Chinese Cuisine, Cantonese seafood, dim sum, and/or Japanese sushi and sashimi. Everything we tasted was yummy and the buffet is very reasonably priced.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Southfield Public Library

What an experience sitting down with Mark Twain to read a book at the Southfield Public Library. The library has the vision" We Help People Succeed". And with all the resources they make available to the public in their 127,000 square foot building we are sure they repeatedly reach that goal. Besides the books, media, story times, meeting rooms, 1000 voice, data and video connections they have a great coffee shop and used book store! The sculpture of Mark Twain was done by Gary Price Studios in Utah.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ypsilanti Historic Water Tower

This historic water tower in Ypsilanti holds a quarter of a million gallons of water and stands in front of Eastern Michigan University. There are many jokes and urban legends regarding the shape of the tower. It was designed by William Coats as part of a water works project that began in 1889. It is 147 feet tall. When the builders were constructing the tower they hoped to protect themselves from injury by placing four crosses in the stone. Try to find all four!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Olives Mediterranean in Roseville

Celebrating a special occasion was truly enhanced by our experience at Olives Mediterranean Restaurant . Not only was the food delicious, the atmosphere was wonderful. We sat in the lounge in a cozy booth, had great hummus and falafel appetizers at happy hours special prices , enjoyed great entertainment, topped off by fabulous service. We suggest trying the salmon stuffed with artichoke and lobster with a delicate dill sauce. William Debro provided the live keys and vocals.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Peace, Love and Mom in Clarkston

Happy Mother's Day to all! Today we would like moms and their entourages to know that there was a special bike ride up in Clarkston called the Back 40 Challenge. The Flying Rhino Cycling Club organized this event in some beautiful scenic areas encompassing Oakland County.  There was even a gently sloping 8 mile ride for families and beginners.  The more challenging routes consisted of 14, 24 and 48 miles for those super fit mamacitas. The sponsors offered a sag wagon if you broke down or got tired, snacks and a commemorative t-shirt called Peace, Love and Mom! Don't you love it? Riders left at any time after 7:30 and the sag wagons were out until 3pm.  Get out and enjoy our beautiful state. Organized rides by various clubs occur every weekend.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Westborn Market in Berkley

The specialty gourmet food store called Westborn Market in Berkley on Woodward is family owned along with their store in Livonia and Dearborn.  In business for almost 50 years, they offer way more than fruits and vegetables.  With a full service florist they are even known for their beautiful wedding flowers. Their hanging petunia baskets were irresistible and herbs for planting were 2 for $5.  We saw another lady with her basket full of orchids.  They offer a huge selection of cheeses and wine.  What we enjoyed the most, was their large sanctuary dome which features only locally produced goods from Michigan, like salsas, chips, honey, pickles, beets, candy, etc. Three cheers for their Go Local promotions!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mackinac's Island House Hotel

The Mackinac Island House Hotel opens today for the season ;} This beautiful historic inn first opened in 1852 and is a Michigan Historical Landmark. Nothing beats the view from their wide, spacious veranda.  All rooms have been renovated and offer air conditioning and down quilts. Recent updates to the hotel include an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, and free wifi. We have enjoyed sitting in the Ice House Bar & Grill, so named because of the icehouse that used to be on the property. All the hoity toity from Chicago used to trek up here back in the day when Mackinac was billed as America's most popular summer destination. How awesome is that?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo at Taquería Lupita

Cinco de Mayo is a time for celebration, marking the Mexican defeat of the French in the city of Puebla, México way back in 1862 on May 5th, of course. We like reasons to party and there is a big one down in Mexicantown close to the Ambassador Bridge where we find a proliferation of wonderful Mexican eateries.  One of our favorites has always been Taquería Lupita which makes some of the best carne asada taquitos this side of the Rio Grande. Their jukebox upstairs plays only Spanish music. ¡Viva México!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Toast in Ferndale

The restaurant called Toast in Ferndale has been voted the best breakfast spot nine years in a row.  They must be doing something right. Decor is simple--a bunch of antique toasters on the wall and lots of interesting chalk art.  In addition, the food is extraordinarily outstanding.  Pictured above is the spinach eggs benedict that was very scrumptious especially with the red skin potatoes. Many tantalizing offerings make us want to return, like a giant smothered burrito, strawberry-rhubarb french toast and huevos rancheros! They offer a huge selection of gourmet sandwiches for lunch.  Service was blissfully sweet.  Atmosphere convivial (and that's a good thing!), but not a lot of seats though so be prepared to wait in line. It's worth it. There's another Toast in Birmingham, but we haven't tried that one yet.  We hear that Wednesdays there are wine down nights with half off on their glasses of vino.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Polar Bears in White Chapel Cemetery

We were quite shocked by the story we discovered at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy this week. Apparently there were some 5500 US troops that were sent to Archangel, Russia in 1918 to fight the Red Army or Bolsheviks to persuade them to rejoin the fight against Germany.  But then Germany surrendered in 1918, so why did the fighting continue into 1919? 75% of the 5500 troops were from Michigan! They called themselves the Polar Bears. A group of these veterans went back to Russia 10 years after the conflict to find the remains of their friends who had perished there.  So, we have this polar bear monument that stands in the middle of 56 graves of these Michigan veterans whose remains were brought back from Russia and reburied on May 30, 1930. The sculpture is by Michigan artist Leon Hermant.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop

Voted the Detroit area's best cycling store, we had to investigate Downtown Ferndale's Bike Shop for ourselves.  It's a friendly place with a very knowledgeable staff. The owner, Jon Huhges, is the grandson of Mike Walden (poster above!), the biking coach for whom the vélodrome in Rochester Hills is named. It's all in the family, as Jon's father, Dale Hughes, built the vélodrome and several others throughout the world. Jon helped on all of them. An MSU grad with a political science degree, Jon's heart lies in biking and the cycling fever is contagious in his shop which specializes in fixed gear bikes. Come on in and get fitted cause it's springtime and perfect for the bazillion or so organized rides coming down the pike in glorious Michigan.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Velodrome at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills

Did you know that Detroit is a popular city for cycling? According to New Yorker, David Byrnes (musician and avid cyclist), the Detroit area is one of the top 8 biking areas of the world. This includes the Bloomer Park Velodrome in Rochester Hills at the end of John R Road. It was funded privately and built and maintained by volunteers. Designer Dale Hughes, who built the olympic bike tracks for Atlanta and Seoul, is Bloomer's architect as well. Yesterday, we were lucky to catch these guys biking, because you can really see how angled the marine plywood track is in the corners --44 degrees is a lot!  On Saturday mornings, they offer to give you a lesson and even provide the bike and the helmet.  This is the  only velodrome (vélo is French for bike) in Michigan and it is dedicated to the memory of Detroit biker and coach Mike Walden. Get out and enjoy our Spring! Bloomer Park has extensive hiking trails, lots of playground equipment and many picnic tables. Thanks to veteran cyclist, Gene Diggs, for giving us all the lowdown.