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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jaqueline Gilmore Michigan Artist

Michigan has quite a fascinating artist in Jacqueline Gilmore who studied in London, NYC and Italy and then received her degree from the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids.  We were intrigued with her See the Forest Through the Trees oil painting when it was exhibited at Grand Rapids Art Prize. It is 18 feet long and 9 fight high! It feels as if we could just stroll right into those trees. Gilmore resides in Rockford, just north of Grand Rapids.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sanders Chocolate Stout

People do a double take when they meander past the Sanders Chocolate Stout in the store.  "A beer made with chocolate? Can this be true?" Yes, and it is proudly made by the Detroit Beer Company downtown. It's a slightly sweet stout with a hint of chocolate, but distinctly Detroit!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Don's of Traverse City

We recently had the pleasure of dining at Don's of Traverse City in Novi.  The original in Traverse City--Don's Drive-In-- dates back to 1958. This one is very similar with very delicious handspun shakes made with real fruit and wonderful juicy hamburgers with homecut fries. Children are served their meals in a darling 1950's style cardboard box car. The décor is totally unique with large booths or stools at the old-fashioned counter. It's location is n Grand River near Wixom Rd--just 2 minutes from I-96.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen

It looks like a church, but it is not.  It is the Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen down the street from the Clarkston Woodshop, Michigan's 2011 restaurant of the year. They are affiliated--as they have the same owners--but with different chefs.  It's noisy inside due to its high ceiling, but in the summertime, you can grab a quiet table outside. It is quite interesting that this building, which dates back to the 1840's and began as the First Baptist Church, was preserved and refitted for a new use. The food is excellent.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Proud Lake State Recreation Area

Twenty miles of trails make Commerce Township's Proud Lake State Recreation Area a hiker/skier paradise with views of the Huron River, majestic white pines, picnic tables, bathrooms, campfire rings and plentiful wildlife. It sure sounded like we heard cranes frolicking in the trees.  Can Spring be that close? Our 5-mile hike today was with the very friendly Metro Detroit Outdoor and Hiking. Next Saturday they are exploring Maybury State Park in the moonlight!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fricano's Pizza in Grand Haven

We will chime in with others who have said Fricano's Pizza in Grand Haven is the best we've ever had. Founded in 1949 by Gus Fricano, it is a charming throwback to the 50's and the prices are unbelievably inexpensive. Their thin crust pizza is simply outstanding. I think our group of seven was fed and wined for under $30--total! The service was superb. The restaurant in Grand Haven is the original.  There are now Fricano's pizzerias in Comstock Park, Kalamazoo, Holland and Muskegon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fortino's in Grand Haven

Grand Haven is a beautiful town on Lake Michigan with 10,000 residents. When we spend time here, we are in and out of Fortino's at least once a day.  They are a 100+ year old grocery store that has always been owned and operated by the Fortino family. They have a little bit of everything and lots of unique items in cheeses, wine, gourmet meats, condiments, yummy chocolates and they roast their own peanuts in the shell.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby

Truly, one of our best recent finds has been the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center with its boardwalk of trails leading through some pristine marshes in Shelby Township. If you want to learn about animal footprints, they have the molds and the sandbox in which you can stamp them out! Then you can hunt those tracks on the trails behind the nature center. It's about a 2 mile hike out to the river and back. The staff is very eager to help.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

River Bends Park in Shelby

River Bends Park in Shelby was just glorious in yesterday's sunshine. These lovely paved trails make walking easy. Although it was President's Day, we saw very few users--mostly friendly dog owners with their pooches on leash in the 800+ acre park.  This particular loop is 2 and a quarter miles long.  According to the map, it connects to another section of River Bends on Ryan road which gives you another 1.4 mile loop. Then, behind their nature center (see tomorrow's blog), they have a gorgeous boardwalk trail that winds through the marshes (2 miles if you go out and back).  All this makes for some pretty awesome scenery for Macomb County!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Presidents' Day

In honor or Abraham Lincoln's 202nd birthday this month and President's Day today, we've chosen this singular statue of him called "On the Circuit" at Northwood University by sculptor Anna H. Huntington. Midland has been home to Northwood since 1961, but they have campuses in Texas and Florida as well as a joint partnership with Hotel Institute Montreux in Switzerland. It is Michigan's well-known business school.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Holland Ponds Park in Shelby

A rookery is a colony of birds.  The Great Blue Heron Rookery in Shelby is located in Holland Ponds off Ryan Road. It is a great place to hike with a covered pavilion area in the back that includes picnic tables. You can see a large swath of the Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal heading on its fateful journey west.  We anxiously await the herons to migrate back north.  Their nests are 3 feet wide and can be seen up high in the trees away from raccoons and snakes.  The wing span of the heron is seven feet and you can often hear them bark like a dog!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shelby's Woodall Skate Park

The Woodall Neighborhood Park off of Ryan Road has a lot to offer. Not only is there a great skate park for kids and adults to try out their skills on rollerblades, skateboards and bikes, but there is a beautiful paved 1.5 mile path that you can use to jog around the scenic area. When the colder temps hit and the snow arrives, there is a sledding hill and an ice hockey rink. Kudos to Shelby Township for developing this recreation spot with a picnic pavilion, soccer fields, basketball court, baseball fields and a playscape for children.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Clinton Kalamazoo Canal

The success of the Eire Canal in the early 1800's pushed Michigan to connect Lake St Clair to Lake Michigan with the Clinton Kalamazoo Canal.  It began in Mt Clemens under our first governor, Stevens T Mason, in 1838, but was abandoned in Rochester due to financial woes and the boom of railroad transportation.  Vestiges of what became known as Mason's Folly can be seen at Yates Park where the fishermen this morning were braving the cold waters and 36 degree temperatures. Check out Yates' beautiful trails to hike in today's glorious sunshine!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Boyne City: Jerry Douglas Morel Mural

Boyne City is home to a beautiful giant seveteen foot morel mushroom mural created by local artist Jerry Douglas. He specializes in up north Michigan scenes some of which include Lake Charlevoix, wildflowers, birch trees, poppies, deer, etc.  Jerry's studio and gallery are in Bay Harbor. Boyne hosts the National Morel Fest each Spring.  The 52nd annual hunt will be held from May 17-20th.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Death by Chocolate in South Haven

Sometimes there are images and tastes and smells and textures of a certain decadent food group that linger forever in your memory.  Such is the case for the Death by Chocolate cake in South Haven which is offered in gigantic servings by the Chocolate Café.  Their overstuffed sofas and chairs invite one to spend some time to savor the flavors. Ice cream, coffee, baked goods and candies are also available for discriminating palates.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Leelanau Wine Cellars in Omena

Twenty miles north of Traverse City is one of Michigan's most lovely wineries called Leelanau. The Jacobsons began planting these 90 acres of grapevines back in 1974. We have enjoyed watching them grow and mature. Their tasting room offers more than three dozen kinds of wine like this Winter White.  It is similar to Piesporter from Germany. Their Tall Ship Chardonnay is excellent as well as their port and ice wines. General Manager, Tony Lentych says his favorite is the Baco Noir.  They can ship it to your house! Don't forget to hike the trails within the vineyard that lead to marvelous views.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Utica Public Library and Pedestrian Tunnel

A tunnel under the M-59 expressway allows easy pedestrian access to one of the oldest libraries in Macomb County: the Utica Public Library. Although Utica was founded in 1817, its library dates back to 1933 and moved from house to house, until they built this permanent location 40 years ago. The tunnel is what we consider unique!  Have you ever seen another under an expressway in our state?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Utica Ice Carving

The City of Utica picked the perfect weekend to hold their ice festival when for weeks now, area communities have had to cancel theirs due to warm temps. Blue skies and frigid temperatures greeted festival goers at Utica's newly opened Memorial Park adjacent to the river, the focal point for the ice carving competition. In addition, music, food and horse carriage rides and a used book sale at the public library insure fun for everyone.  Today is the last day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Holiday Market in Royal Oak

Foodies flock to Holiday Market in Royal Oak on Main Street. They come in droves to get their cheese fixes for raclette or Petit Basque or St André. You will salivate in the pastry department which spoils us with Belgian Callebaut chocolates pictured here and sold as buy-one-get-one-free. How could we resist? Since 1954, Holiday continues to set the bar high and lead the way. We were much impressed with their meats, seafoods, fresh produce, deli offerings, wines and yes, even their yogurts. We intend to explore their much talked about cooking school, Mirepoix (located upstairs) very soon.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Suzy's Bar in Hamtramck

There's a friendly neighborhood bar in Hamtramck called Suzy's where it seems you've walked into a 1950's time warp. They say it holds 40 people, but we're talking SRO and elbow to elbow. The more the merrier, we reckon. Blue Moon is their only beer on tap, but the bottled and canned varieties abound. This gathering hole has been around for at least 70 years, but present owner, Suzy, has been running it as her place since 1992. If you get hungry, walk across the street to Polonia's or the Polish Café.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Miner's Den in Royal Oak

If you are interested in rocks and geodes, meteorites and agates and a unique and affordable array of jewelry, then head on over to Miner's Den in Royal Oak. Voted a top jewelry store by Hour Detroit, here you can get those bead bracelets with the enameled college logos--and the beads are made locally in Michigan. It's a great and charming family run place to pick up that perfect something for your valentine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Detroit's Scarab Club

Sitting on John R and Farnsworth right behind the DIA is the art organization called the Scarab Club which dates back to 1907. The scarab insignia embedded in the brick over the door represents the Egyptian symbol for rebirth and it was made from Detroit's pewabic tile. Inside are various exhibitions and classrooms and lots of artsy stuff that includes literature and music as well.  The ceiling beams sport some pretty significant signatures like Norman Rockwell and Diego Rivera amongst others! Open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5pm, their mission is to educate and enlighten. The third Thursday of every month celebrates emerging artists.  February 16th highlights Brett Sullivan's photography.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Black River Books in South Haven

We love a cozy book store where the owners are passionate about their reading.  Black River Books in South Haven fits the bill. They are open year round and encourage relaxation in their comfy chairs with coffee, hot chocolate and tea. The guardians of the premises are two adorable labradoodles, Booker and Dewey. Owners Dick and Pam Haferman will be celebrating their fifth anniversary at Black River on Memorial Weekend. There are many of us who resist those electronic readers...preferring instead to see, smell and touch our books--especially when we are greeted with such warm and friendly service. Black River has a whole section just on Michigan books and they recently featured Kalamazoo author, Jane Knuth, who wrote one of our favorite books, Thrift Store Saints.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Harperlawn Pet Cemetery

If you are looking for a peaceful place to bury your beloved pet, Harperlawn Pet Memorial Gardens in Clinton Township has been providing these services since 1928. They are open year round and offer caskets as well as cremation.  It was interesting to walk around and see the various types of markers and headstones.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Viviano Flower Shop in St Clair Shores

Viviano's Florist in St Clair Shores has been consistently voted in as the best flower shop in Metro Detroit. Today their whole green house is filled with clearance arrangements from the Auto Show that ended last weekend in Cobo Hall. Birthed in 1937, the florist is still run by the Viviano family and they now have two additional shops, in Chesterfield and Shelby Townships. Their Bridal Extravaganza is taking place on March 4th at the Best Western Sterling Inn in Sterling Heights.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Rosa Parks Bus at The Henry Ford

Today, Rosa Parks, the mother of the freedom movement, would have been 99 years old.  At The Henry Ford in Dearborn, you can see and get on and sit in her seat on the bus where she refused to obey the driver's order that she give up her seat to a white person. A recording of her voice plays above your head. This 1955 act of civil disobedience in Montgomery, Alabama helped spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa was awarded numerous medals and awards including the Congressional Gold Medal.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Detroit's Grand Prix 2012

The Grand Prix, which has been on hiatus in Detroit for four years, is coming back June 1, 2 and 3rd!  The race takes place on the island called Belle Isle which contains over 900 acres. We are very exited!  And you?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Uncle Ray's chips made in Detroit

The potato chips made right here in Detroit are called Uncle Ray's. Having learned how to cook in the US Navy, Ray Jenkins applied this knowledge to start his own food business in 1965. These delicious chips come in at least a dozen flavors and each one has a different intriguing snippet on the back of the package about Ray's life story and words of encouragement. The factory on Birwood has 75,000 square feet and employs almost 200 people. Uncle Ray's chips are sold in 48 states and Canada. Three cheers for Detroit!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Café Zola in Ann Arbor

Crêpes! Delicious savory and dessert crêpes! You can enjoy them and the delightful ambiance at Café Zola in Ann Arbor which opens at 7am. But wait!  There is also these little pots of French press coffee to die for and blood orange mimosas? No wonder there was a line! We love discovering something new, yet this great restaurant has been here 16 years.