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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

St Joseph's Planes and Trains

Adults and children alike are enjoying the painted planes and trains in downtown St Joseph this summer.  27 of these uniquely decorated machines are on display all over town. Clockwise from the upper left: Puffy Stuffy is the work of Midnite Remisoski, resident of Benton Harbor. She also did the second one, Train the Dogs. Kiddie Hawk was done by Margaret Hogeboom, Toni Smith and Heather Seawright who work together at Chartreuse, a local arts co-op in St Joe's. Flying Straight to College was created by Nicholas Jones who got his Master of Fine Arts from Wayne State. Lastly, the Polar Express train was done by John Foster from Baroda.  St Joseph loves to create a theme and give local artists the chance to create public art.  Through the years they've done bears, dogs, cars and merry-go-round horses.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy 150th birthday, Henry Ford!

Happy 150th birthday to Henry Ford today, founder of the Ford Motor Company. This photo was taken in his office at the Piquette Plant in Detroit which rolled out Model T's to the public beginning in 1908. Owners of the museum are in the process of restoring Henry's office to look like it did back in the early 1900's. As president of the Ford Motor Company, he offered workers the famous wage of $5 a day for 8 hours of work beginning in 1914. By 1915, they had produced a million cars. Tours of the Piquette Plant (also known as T-Plex) are Wednesday through Sunday.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kowalski Sausage in Hamtramck

Since 1920, Kowalski has been pumping out well known quality sausages in Hamtramck. Founded by Agnes and Zygmund who both immigrated from Poland, the factory is still in the family and run by their great grandchildren. Who hasn't tasted their Polish kielbasa or their all beef franks or hot dogs with natural casings. They employ more than 100 people to produce more than 50 different products.  Look for the brand name of Kowalski in Michigan stores and beyond.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor

The First Congregational Church on William Street at State Street in Ann Arbor is a beautiful stone structure with a classic Wilhelm organ. The cornerstone was laid in 1872. The Douglas Memorial Chapel was named after Dr Lloyd C Douglas who was the minister here from 1916-1921. This great orator was the author of two famous novels, The Robe and The Magnificent Obsession, which were both made into movies.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Josephine Ford Sculpture Garden in Detroit

Tucked away behind Detroit's DIA is the Josephine F. Ford Sculpture Garden on the campus of the College for Creative Studies. This garden of art was installed in 2011.  Josephine, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 82, was the daughter of Edsel and Eleanor Ford and she was the only granddaughter of Henry and Clara Ford. The College of Creative Studies has benefited greatly from her estate.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yakz Kayak Store in Benton Harbor

Josh and Vern opened a kayak store called Yakz in Benton Harbor this year, following their passion. They are advertising Michigan's great Southwest region as the world's largest Outdoor Waterpark.  Cute. They are certainly experts in their field and sell all manner of colorful kayaks as well as bug sprays that are friendly to the environment and headlamps and fishing gear. They claim that nature is cheaper than therapy. They quote Clarence Budington Kelland, a writer who said, "My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Baraga's Keweenaw Kitchen

There is an abundance of wonderful jams made in Michigan. Our latest find is Keweenaw Kitchen in the Upper Peninsula city of Baraga.  This family owned operation has been making their spreadable fruit with no preservatives, no food coloring and no artificial flavoring for 17 years now. And they ship all over the country. They have some that are sugar free, some that are seedless and also an apple butter spread.  Please pass the toast!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stray Dog Bar and Grill in New Buffalo

We are so happy to hear that the roof top opened at the Stray Dog Bar and Grill in New Buffalo this past week. It totally rocks with a view over the downtown area and Lake Michigan. It was just a year ago that the Stray Dog was destroyed by fire. It's rebirth is very cool with a bar downstairs and one on the deck. Their patio out back also offers al fresco dining with intimate tree lighting.  It is definitely a favorite watering hole in this beach town serving veggie tacos, turkey burgers and blue cheese bacon burgers, blackened chicken pitas and lots of Michigan craft beers from a very friendly staff.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Harbor House in Detroit

Eight of us had a great experience at Harbor House near Ford Field in Detroit last week. Situated in an early 1900's building, they are known for their seafood and steaks. We tried a bunch of different entrées and loved it all.  The lobster mac and cheese is to die for.  What a great idea to offer a choice of mixing two or three dinners with smaller portions. It's hard to please a whole group of people but we were all pleasantly surprised with the great atmosphere and the delicious food and super location.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Birmingham's Frank Street Bakery

Don't expect racks of bread upon entering Frank Street Bakery in Birmingham. They do make everything from scratch and offer a variety of homemade soups and sandwiches and several vegetarian/vegan options and locally made Ray's Ice Cream. We enjoyed the al fresco dining and our gazpacho and spinach quiche. A local favorite, too, is their hot pressed cuban sandwich. This café is a perfect lunch time spot.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

First Presbyterian Church in Flint

Lots of activities make First Presbyterian Church of Flint a very vibrant house of worship. Their current edifice dates back to the 1920's with its gorgeous Tiffany stained glass windows.  Their history goes back to the early 1800's and their current building has undergone many expansions and renovations which make the end results pretty dramatic.  We were overjoyed to hear 50 children, ages 11-17 from Foix, France sing for us in their sanctuary this past week. It was a special treat. Services on Sunday morning get to sing with a pipe organ and also hear their choir. Flint provides second Friday art walks in the city when the gothic First Presbyterian is open for tours.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Detroit's Great Lakes Coffee

We were served a perfect cup of cafe latte at Detroit's Great Lakes Coffee in Midtown this week on Woodward at Alexandrine. The beans are roasted to perfection and served with pride. It is very spacious with high ceilings, attractive décor and wifi and lots of outlets to plug in laptops and charge cell phones. Many people frequent this place! Beer wine and cocktails also served in the Woodward location. They also have java shops in Bloomfield Hills and Lake Orion. El Guapo serves tacos on Tuesdays.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bon Jovi at Ford Field

As far as concert venues go, Ford Field and Bon Jovi put on quite an excellent show last night.  The set was unbelievable--an old Chevy with screens above, below and on both sides and mini screens within the grill. It was a nostalgic trip back to the 80's and then to present day.  Tremendous entertainment.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jim Ardis, Midland artist

Copper and clay are the mediums that artist Jim Ardis likes the best. You will see, all about Michigan, lots of his suns and his fish as well as other unique creations. We first noticed one of his pieces of art in St Ignace, when we saw this beautiful fish down by the waterfront. Then we observed his artwork in Midland, where Jim resides, at the Dow Gardens and in the Chippewa Nature Center. When in Frankenmuth, check out the beautiful fountain Jim created in the Gunzenhausen Platz.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

M is for Mitten and Michael G Monroe

We love Michael G Monroe and the book he illustrated M is for Mitten: A Michigan Alphabet. We have our visitors from out-of-state read the book to familiarize themselves with the beauty and bounty around us. We often make them memorize it! It is a tome that belongs in every Michigan family's home.  You can guess what a lot of the letters are already. Michael has been chosen as Michigan's Wildlife Artist of the Year. His Monroe Art Studio is located in Brighton

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flint Crêpe Company

We literally gorged ourselves at the Flint Crêpe Company last night. It was our first time here, and Chris treated us royally.  We enjoyed the savory crepes so much (the reuben, the caprese, the monte cristo) that we went back for the sweet with two à la modes and one strawberry chocolate fudge made in heaven! It is a very cute, clean place done up in a bicycle theme.  We cannot rave enough about it. All of their food is locally sourced. Bravo. It's closed on Sundays, but open from 7am to 10pm all the other days! Oui! Oui!  P.S. Today marks our 4 year anniversary doing this Michigan blog ;}

Monday, July 15, 2013

Plymouth's Art in the Park

July 12, 13 and 14th were perfect days for Plymouth's Art in the Park. Their 34 years of doing this make it a smooth operation with an unbelievable 400 artists from what seemed like every corner of the US. We saw chalk artists and kids painting, crepe makers and honey producers, lots of dip concoctions and the most incredible pottery, oils, photographs, jewelry, painted windows and it was a lot of fun for a whole lot of people.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cannelle Pâtisserie in Birmingham

Happy Bastille Day from Cannelle Pâtisserie in Birmingham! Matt Knio, whom we met down at Eastern Market, has finally opened up his French pastry bakery shop in the suburbs and it is a gem. Located on N Eton street, it's about 300 feet from Maple Road in a little strip mall. Off the beaten path, but so worth seeking out. Let's see, we bought a baguette, some chocolate macarons, and a coffee eclair. Délicieux! But we have to go back for that fig tart and a whole lot more. They keep bringing out new stuff.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Penn Movie Theatre in Plymouth

It first opened in 1941, making the Penn Theatre in Plymouth 72 years old. recent extensive renovations have brought back its grandeur and the volunteer friends of the Penn have donated thousands of hours of work to keep this historical building from extinction. This weekend, they are showing The Great Gatsby for $3.00 a seat.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ovation Yacht Motown Dinner Cruise

Start with the Detroit River.  Add a beautiful summer evening and throw in the luxurious Ovation yacht with entertainment and lovely food stations with a sold out eclectic mix of dancing aficionados and you've got one phenomenal evening floating around Belle Isle and under the Ambassador Bridge. We were part of the dynamic Motown Dinner Cruise this week that featured all those old familiar tunes on each deck with either a DJ or a live band. This 3-decker paradise leaves from the Port Authority, just a short stroll from the RenCen Towers. They have other themed cruises scheduled throughout the year as well as bookings for weddings, birthdays and all the other special events in our lives. We made great new friendships mingling with other guests.  Yes, it's a venue to show off your wabo and bikers shuffle dance steps, too!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Zuckey Lake Tavern in Pinckney

Zuckey Lake is part of a chain of lakes that lies between Ann Arbor and Brighton. Serving the cottages and homes surrounding the area is Zuckey Lake Tavern in Hamburg Township --close to Pinckney. It rises like a mirage at the end of a dirt road called Girard. Their history goes back all the way to prohibition, but their more recent upper open deck is a dream come true overlooking the water skiers and boaters. They offered an all you can eat Mexican buffet Tuesday night al fresco for a reasonable $7.95, a homemade gazpacho, and excellent thin crust pizzas, too. The rail trail adjacent to the property is pretty awesome, also, and the bike parking provided by the restaurant is a nice touch.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Troy Public Library

One of the premier libraries in the state is the Troy Public Library whose modern and inviting facility was built in 1971.  It ranks 10th in the nation among those serving populations of 50,000 or more. People check out more than a million items a year. So it's hard to believe that it almost closed two years ago. The city of Troy figured they could lop 1.7 million dollars from their budget by closing the facility.  An anti-tax group even promoted a book-burning party. Fortunately, a proposal to fund the library passed and it's still humming along, serving a large segment of the population.  They have a great poster with quotes from various people supporting libraries, like John Grisham saying: "I worry about how many children read. Libraries are more important today than when I was a kid."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Birmingham Palladium 12 Movie and Dinner

We recently went out to the Birmingham Palladium 12 for their movie and dinner night and were very very impressed with the quality and presentation of the food. From a wide assortment, we chose pasta picante, yummy okra bites, caesar salad and there was a huge fresh cut up fruit bowl, great desserts and of course unlimited popcorn and soda pop. We had to take the elevator up to the third floor for the premier theatre and our reserved seats. It was truly enjoyable! It stands on the corner of Hamilton and Old Woodward, the same place the old theatre from 1913 stood. Occasionally they do breakfast and a movie on the weekends and lunch and a movie during the week.  Go for it!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bay Harbor Golf Club

You have a choice of three courses called the Links, the Quarry or the Preserve at the Bay Harbor Golf Club. This is the stunning view from the 18th hole. Designed by Arthur Hill, you'd think you were overlooking the California coastline. Open just 15 years ago, the developers knew what they were doing. The shoreline bluffs and dunes of Michigan are spectacular. Thanks for the photo, Patty Weidman.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

St Paul's Episcopal Church in Elk Rapids

Since 1884, this church of St Paul's Episcopal has been standing in Elk Rapids. It's distinctive look is American Gothic. The village is small (1600) but swells to over 3000 in the summer with members who hail from near and far.  They offer Saturday services at 5pm in the summer as well as Sunday morning services at 10am with communion. They donate school supplies to students in Colombia and fill backpacks for kids. They also have an active quilting group. They have a sister relationship with Calvary Lutheran in town and do ecumenical services with Sacred Heart Catholic.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Knot Just a Bar in Bay Harbor

Talk about inviting, Knot Just a Bar which overlooks the Marina at Bay Harbor, begs for you to step through their doors. Any place that offers outdoor seating with a view in the summertime already earns beaucoup points.  There are many tempting options on their menu like fish tacos, smoked whitefish pâté, rosemary hummus, veggie burgers served with aioli and cucumber mojitos. If that isn't enough, they have live entertainment Thursday and Saturday evenings, too. You can catch the Tigers battling Cleveland at 4pm for first place on their TVs, also. Anibal is pitching.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Elk Rapids' Twisted Fish

Elk Rapids is a busy little tourist town from May through October.  It is filled with antique shops and boutiques and has a very welcoming small town feel.  We could not help but notice the Twisted Fish coming into the village.  We had a wonderful stroll in their sculpture garden. Inside is filled with treasures of Michigan artists from water colors and pottery to glass pieces and oil paintings. It is probably one of the nicest galleries we have seen.  It has been very well run by owners Charlotte and Bob for ten or more years now.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

General Thaddeus Kosciuszko in Detroit

Today's the 237th birthday of the United States and we're posting the statue in Detroit of General Thaddeus Kosciuszko on Michigan Ave. This brilliant architect, engineer and artist came from Europe and was inspired by our leaders passionate appeals for human rights. He was credited with thwarting many British advances during the American Revolution. This sculpture, a gift from Poland where he was born, was given in celebration of our nation's bicentennial. An identical one, caste in the 1880's, stands in Krakow.  Happy 4th!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Music House Museum in Acme

If you are passionate about music and antique instruments like pipe organs then you would love the Music House Museum in Acme. You can hear them play these beautiful devices on their guided tours. It's a treat to see and hear the unbelievable piece called Amarylis--their Mortier Mechanical Dance Organ, made in Belgium in 1922.  You can listen to it on their website. Fenton resident Father Andrew Rogers will be giving a concert in July on their mighty Wurlitzer pictured above. This wonderful place is open seven days a week through October 31. Located on US 31 just 8 miles north of Traverse City, come soon for a tour!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kayaking Torch Lake

One of the most beautiful inland lakes in Michigan is Torch Lake. Nineteen miles long and just two miles wide, it's waters are crystal clear. There is a small public park on the northwest side in Torch Lake Township where you can put your kayaks in the water and just float around in bliss. The name comes from the Indians who used to hunt fish at night here using torches.There will be massive boaters out on the sandbar on the 4th of July as Kid Rock (who also has a home on this lake) made mention of it in his song "All Summer Long".

Monday, July 1, 2013

Auburn Hills Public Library

We love it when architects blend the old with the new as in the Auburn Hills Public Library. They took a 19th century home and renovated into a great library and added newer sections to accommodate their materials and patrons and in so doing they won an A/A award.  They have about 100,000 visitors a year --not bad for a community of only 20,000. They offer "Book Bingo" at the library and guess what the prizes are? Books!