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Corktown, Detroit, Michigan

I don’t always follow Martha Stewart’s advice.  When I have, I usually get frustrated—the projects always take longer than billed, the food is not as yummy as predicted—I’m just “off” when it comes to Martha.

But this weekend, I found myself following almost every word of a travel article published in a recent Martha Stewart Living about the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit.  To be more specific, Meghan McEwen was the author and she was spot on with her advice.

“Our” block in Corktown. It didn’t take long to feel like a local.

Getting there was half the fun, as we stopped in Ann Arbor, Michigan at Zingerman’s Deli and Bake Shop.  The kale and prosciutto salad was inspired as was my BLT–made even more awesome with a slice of cheddar cheese.  Burnt sugar gelato for dessert was like eating the best part of a creme brulee.

On to Detroit and our stay in Corktown, a neighborhood established in the 1830s.  We spent the weekend in Meghan’s apartment known as Honor & Folly.  So fun to be part of the neighborhood–by the second morning the guys at Astro Coffee knew what kind of coffee my husband preferred and that I was a black tea kind of gal–but sometimes hot and sometimes iced.

The view from “my” spot on “my” couch at Honor & Folly

We shopped a bit–Hello Records where we scored some Motown and vintage rock vinyl and Rachel’s Place–a 3 story vintage clothing store.  The proprietors of both places were nice as could be.  While the men’s section of Rachel’s was small, it was mighty, so guys have something to do while we women folk scour the rest of the place.

Slows BBQ, owned by Meghan’s brother-in-law, was scrumptious.  Staying at Honor & Folly allowed us to get a reservation for our small party and we were very happy to waltz right in and start digging in to the gumbo, tempura catfish, brisket enchiladas, baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, mac & cheese, cornbread, mashed sweet potatoes, and black beans.  A great menu of micro brews topped it all off!  It was all we could do to walk back up the stairs to our weekend pied-a-terre.

I’m completely obsessed with this coffee shop. I will miss it tomorrow morning when I get up!

We left plenty to do for our next trip in.  Sugar House bar was next door and looked intriguing and I’d like to check out the used and rare book store recommended in the article, John K. King Used & Rare Books.  Detroit has other areas to explore as well–Greektown, a great art museum, and many other restaurants (we did hit Roast, a Michael Symon place, downtown–very yummy too!).  And from the looks of the posters and signs around Corktown, there is also a thriving art scene.

So true….

We’ll be back Detroit!  It’s been too long…..

Photography Apps

I’m kind of on a technology jag on my blog lately.  Really though, when technology makes our lives more fun or easier somehow, I am a huge fan!  I personally love hearing about what others are using and liking.  Some word of mouth editing of the choices is always a good thing.

In fact, the first thing I did when I got my very first iPhone was ask my daughter for her recommendations for good photography apps.  Right off the bat she suggested Hipstamatic.

One of my favorite Hipstamatic photos ever. On the way to Sundance UT.

Another Hipstamatic shot. Same location. I just shook my iPhone and it mixed everything up! I have no idea how I did this!

I still love Hipstamatic, but I’m not fully versed in all of the filters, films, etc.  I just like to shake my phone and take multiple pics of the same thing and see what I get.  Kind of an experiment.

Instagram has its uses, but I must admit that I don’t need one more social site to manage.  Maybe I should explore its uses and report back.

My favorite, favorite is ShakeItPhoto.  This app acts like a Poloroid camera.  You even shake your phone to watch your picture “develop.”  The light quality it gives is very nice.  Almost always makes a photo look better.  Also, it saves two pictures—the original that you can manipulate in your iPhoto and the Poloroid version.  I like cropping the Poloroid version and ending up with just an equal white border all around.

Exterior of Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow. The same church where the band was arrested for hooliganism earlier this year.

360 Panorama is also fun.  Especially for landscapes or amazing buildings or just plain old big things.

Last but not least is Camera!  Or Camera Awesome.  So much sharing.  So  many features.  So little time.  I must explore some more of the amazing features of this app.  Really, you could spend all day.  I like the little pixie dust feature that let’s you “awesome-ize” photos with a tap of a finger. The running commentary is too funny.   Also, I love the sharing features.  Easy peasey.

Hall of Portraits–awesomized by Camera Awesome! Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg, Russia

Fitbit–The Zip Wireless Activity Tracker

I bought a Fitbit awhile back and loved it!  It loved me back–said hello to me and offered encouragement–yes I know it is a little mechanical device, but every little bit counts, right?  I loved how it seamlessly integrated with the MyFitnessPal app and the Fitbit app.  A great tool for recognizing where you can improve with health and fitness and a great, entertaining way to stay on track.

My original Fitbit.

I was having such good luck with my original model and then, one day, I lost it!  I was traveling when it happened and I really wanted to see how many miles we were hoofing it every day.

Today, I decided to replace it–I figured I’d done enough penance and I’d saved my pennies to get a new one–they aren’t the cheapest pedometers on the planet.  Lo and behold there is a new model and a much more reasonable price!  The Zip!!!!  It seems that the only feature it doesn’t have is the sleep monitor.  I’m OK with that as I sleep like a baby.

The Zip!  Available in many colors!

If you already use Fitbit and any apps, let me know which ones you like.  I’d love to hear from you!

Official Fitbit Store – Welcome.

Recent Faves: iPhone Apps for Dining

What iPhone apps do you reach for over and over again?  What ones really do help and make your life better or easier or more entertaining?

Here are some of my faves in the dining department.  I used these all regularly:

1.  OpenTable:  Makes life so easy.  Really.  If you have ever needed to make reservations for a trip and the time zones are different.  If you want to see all of your choices for a particular date and time all at once and not have to call multiple restaurants, Open Table does the trick.  One of my #1 most used apps.  It would be a crying shame if you have a smart phone and don’t have this app.

2.  LocalEats:  If you don’t know much about the restaurants in a locale and want to make some decisions based on category, Local Eats is a great tool.  I love knowing what the top breakfast place might be in a given city. I’m going to Detroit soon and know nothing about the food scene there.  Local Eats is helping me narrow it down.

An example of the types of categorization happening on Local Eats

3.  Map Muse–D, D, & D.  This app is a special interest map locater that finds all of the restaurants viewed on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”  A friend recommended it and said they did some good eating on a family vacation driving down to Florida.  I plan on giving it a work out over the next 18 months as we hit the road visiting colleges with our son.

Image via

4 & 5. Speciality apps–Starbucks and In n Out.  Both these apps help me when I need it–Starbucks locates stores for me, allows me to pay on my phone and re-load my card while I wait in line, keep track of the complex drink favorites of various friends.  It’s all good.  In N Out is also a locater and it’s free and you never know where you might be and need to know the closest route to a classic burger!  Plus check out the “not so secret” menu.  An urban legend debunked.

6.  Yelp.  Last but not least.  Yelp does help to narrow it all down!  Some great restaurants don’t have web sites, but Yelp can let you know what diners think.  Restaurants are just a small part of its knowledge base.

Download these now if you are human and you enjoy eating.  They will only add to your enjoyment!

GLOOMY Weather Has Us Looking for Beauty Indoors!–Introducing Guest Blogger Laurie Melstrom

My dear friend and neighbor, Laurie Melstrom, has agreed to contribute a guest blog or two (or hopefully 10 or more!) to the efforts here on this site. Laurie is multi talented:  a writer, gardener, equestrienne, mother, grandmother, loving wife, and trusted friend.    I know she will fly away from me and develop her own following, but until she does, here is her first awesomely written post.  It makes me want to cruise some art galleries…

Even the pup is gloomy….

Trouble is brewing over Lake Michigan . It is coming in the form of a pile of darkening thunder clouds on the horizon. Boats of all sizes are leaving white trails behind them in the churning water as they race to port before the storm collides with their day.

A good day to be indoors or exploring a gallery!

This means the shops on the Leelanau peninsula will be packed with vacationers determined to head for home with something more than a tan and campfire memories…  One of the more out of the way spots that I love to shop is an art gallery in the tiny village of Omena. Tamarack Gallery houses  a riot of creative treasures that excites the artistic heart. I always feel guilty about wanting almost everything I see when I go there. But this note is not about my personal avarice (well, maybe just a little.).

Tamarack Gallery, Omena, MI

My last trip in, I was intrigued with the jewelry designs of sculptor,  Cathryn Conn.

Love the strength exemplified by this bracelet

The first to catch my eye is the “stake” bracelet–very whimsical , but strong architecturally . I like its character and can imagine wearing it with my more feminine shirts and dresses…it would balance the feel. “Hey, I’m confident enough to wear ruffles, but there’s a stake and chain girl in here too! ” Ha!

The “stake” bracelet

Still, as much as I like that work, I am really attracted to this simple bracelet . It is a forged iron and 18 k gold bangle that’s sum is much more than its parts.

Laurie and her favorite pick!

Iron is a traditional symbol for strength and since I’ve raised four children and have been married for 28 years, it speaks to me.  By the way, did you know that iron’s elemental symbol and the symbol for men is the same?  Hmmm. I digress.  The bangle has weight and character . It might not capture the attention of others like the stake bracelet , but it can be worn with everything from jeans to jodhpurs . It has style and strength in a pure form.

2 choices–great for layering or wearing alone

Why didn’t I buy it?  Because my husband was standing next to me , that’s why. So on that note, dear Melani , I must sign off. I have a short drive to make and a bracelet to buy.
All my best to Pete and the children ; big bear hugs are for you!

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is a DIYers dream!  My cousin was raving about it and was kind enough to buy some for me this summer as she made her way up to Leland for a visit.

In progress. Super easy.

A huge selling point is the lack of pre-work one needs to do to a piece.  No sanding!  Just merely wiping your soon-to-be-beautiful piece of furniture down with a damp cloth.  Did I mention no sanding?!  I just don’t have the patience for projects that involve 3-4 days of work.  The paint also covers well–the Paris Gray I used probably could have been done with one coat–over a very dark stained finish.

We took all hardware off and buffed it with the clear wax. Really added to the look.

A darling bookshelf that was part of the day’s projects

Bookshelf all dolled up. Great job, Darci!

If you like what you see, check out my cousin’s facebook page—she is a DIY hero—taking a hobby and making money from it!  Almost time to give up your day job, Penny!

Beautiful Veggies–plus bonus recipe!

Nothing beats the bounty of summer’s harvest.  And if you are lucky enough to live near an organic farm or have a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) co-op in your neighborhood, the ease of delivery and choices has never been better.

Luscious Eggplant–I wish they stayed this incredible color when they cook

My home garden is now overflowing with peppers–habanero, serrano, jalapeno.  I planted one, single itty bitty tomatillo (a member of the gooseberry family for you trivia lovers) and it is going wild!  I guess the heat agrees with it.  My tomatoes seem to be waning, so my dreams of a salsa garden aren’t going to come to full reality (oh yeah, and the cilantro is going to seed…oops!).  Never fear, my mom gave me a great tip for all those pesky peppers–wash off and freeze in plastic bags.  Then get them out and plop them in whole into anything that you want to impart some heat—soups, chili, BBQ.  Be sure to pluck out before serving!

My daughter’s home made gnocchi. OMG.

I was so lucky this summer to enjoy the harvest from Meadowlark Farms.  I loved how the veggies arrived complete with a delicious recipe or two.  Here is my go-to multi-vegetable recipe:

Roasted Veggie Quinoa

Assorted veggies–mix of whatever you have–red pepper, onion, garlic, zucchini, eggplant, squash, asparagus.  Washed and chopped.

Olive oil–enough to coat veggies.  I like garlic olive oil. Plus 3 T for dressing.

Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste.

Quinoa–prepared as per directions on package.  Can be prepared in advance.

Juice of one or two lemons.

Roast veggies either on the grill or in the oven–400 degrees for around 15-20 minutes.

Chop after roasting, if you didn’t get around to that before!  Add to pre-prepared quinoa.  Add 2-3T additional olive oil and the lemon juice.  Mix gently.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Tastes great warm, room temp, or cold.

Scavenging in Your Own Backyard

I had a free day last week.  Nothing doing at all.  Totally cleared calendar.  Talk about a luxury.

So, I headed out with two buddies to hit some local antique and near antique stores.  What a fun way to spend a pretty day!  We laughed; we helped each other find just the right thing we never knew we needed; we learned a little bit about housewares history—did we expect to find an escargot pan in a small town in Indiana? No sir-ee.

So much fun to meander in and out of little shops in a small town…

Some amazing finds from our day:

I would be remiss not to show a picture of the escargot pan.

The infamous escargot pan all cleaned up!

Antique Crystal Chandelier for $600.  These are the kinds of items that add so much character to a room.

The picture does not do this beauty justice

Some great baskets, suitcases, and blanket chests at super reasonable prices at Roberta’s in Pierceton, Indiana.

I love the look of stacked baskets or vintage suitcases for a bedside table

Christopher Guy End Table at Blue Pearl Antiques–$350–alas it is sold!  I should have leaped on it.  That’s the danger of not buying the piece when you see it.

Picture REALLY does not do this justice. My photo skills must have been sub par that day

Rusty Gate at US 30 Countryside Antiques–use for cottage headboard?

Love the patina

Indiana Antique Company in downtown Warsaw–cameras on tripods, above mentioned escargot pan, and the most awesome 1970s all in one stereo system–my son is all over it!  Break out the albums from the basement!

Basement steps at Indiana Antique Company

One tip I want to pass on that I learned on that day is the need in every broom closet for a little miracle in a bottle called “Restor-a-finish.”  I guess this stuff lifts/covers every water mark ever put onto a wood table.  It’s on my list!

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