Sunday, July 4, 2010

Finding Historical Charm at the Eleanor & Edsel Ford House in Grosse Pointe

Last week I visited the Eleanor & Edsel Ford House in Grosse Pointe with the lady I can always count on doing historical/cultural things with me: my mother.

Let me just start off by saying this place is a mecca of cool I didn't even know existed until my company started doing work with them a few years back. After hearing my colleagues describe the place to media (this is not my client), I decided this should be on my "things to do in the Detroit area" list.

History? Check. Fab Detroitness? Check. Charming place to eat? Check. What more could a gal want?

Prior to the tour, we checked out Macy's adventure passes so we were able to tour FOR FREE. (If you're unfamiliar, see here: it's a fantastic program made possible with the help of local libraries). Had we not gotten in for free, it would have cost $10 for me and $9 for my mom (a senior) and it would have been worth every single penny.

We started our time on the grounds watching a short film about the lives and family of Eleanor and Edsel. This was a fantastic way to start, as it really laid the groundwork of what the family was about - each other, arts/culture/history and philanthrophy. Through the film, I really gained a respect for the family (Edsel is the only son of Henry, the entreprenuer behind Ford Motor Co.) and their passion for Detroit.

After the film, we were driven in a mini-bus to the home where we were greeted by a tour guide, who was an adorable and knowledgeable older lady. She walked us through a chunk of the home, stopping to tell stories about the family along the way. One of my favorite rooms showcased the wedding dresses of some of the Ford women. They were beautiful (and tiny!).

The house was truly a masterpiece. It was really interesting to hear about the history of each item that adorned the walls - from 16th century wood brought over from England to pieces of art by some of my fave French artists such as Degas, Cezanne and Van Gogh and even pieces from the Han Dynasty and Ming Dynasty (super-de-duperly old). The dining room was really neat and we learned the family dined there every night by candlelight (there were no lights in the room).

I felt like I was friends with Eleanor after the tour, as I and greatly admired her passion for the arts in Detroit. One neat thing I learned was that the family kept the Detroit Institute of the Arts open during the depression by paying for the salaries of the employees. For that, us Detroiters should be forever grateful.
After we walked through the house, we toured the grounds, including seeing the Ford's amazing pool, Josephine Ford's playhouse version of the house (pictured below) and a beautiful rose garden that made us feel like we were in Europe.

After the tour, we stopped for lunch at the newly opened Cotswold Cafe. At the cafe, we ordered quiche and a Maurice Salad (my favorite item from J.L. Hudson, Eleanor's uncle), which were pretty yummy, but the best part was the dessert - a pear and cranberry cobbler that was absolutely delish.

If you're fascinated by Detroit history, art and culture or even need an impressive place for a date, check this historical gem out. Plus, it's a great excuse to drive down Lake Shore Drive and admire the beautiful historical homes that have put Grosse Pointe on the map. Can't wait to go back for the additional tours available...and one day, take my little girl there to see our history trapped in time.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My 'I Heart Michigan' Mix

I love Michigan and I can't imagine living in any other state. Yes, it gets cold. But not extremely cold. Yes, it can be humid, but it doesn't generally get past 100 degrees.

We have very few killer tornadoes. We don't get hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis.

We have all four seasons. We have grass, trees, cultural institutions, award-winning restaurants and wine. We have National Coney Island, Faygo, Better Made, Garden Fresh, GM, Ford and my fave ice cream - Hudsonville. And the best part - we have lakes upon lakes covering our beautiful state.

Michigan has gotten a bad rap due to our reliance on the auto industry and high unemployment rates. But nowhere is perfect. Michigan is my perfect.

After being on the lake today, I've felt inspired to make a mix for Michigan. For a day on the lake, cruising the shore, tubing/skiing, watching a Michigan sunset - these are some of my fave jams to listen to that remind me of my fair state.

Especially in Michigan - Red Hot Chili Peppers
All Summer Long - Kid Rock
Free - Zac Brown Band
The Life - Kenny Chesney (just imagine Michigan, not Mexico!)
We're Going To Be Friends - The White Stripes
All This Beauty - The Weepies
The Lighthouse's Tale - Nickel Creek
Lucky Man - Montgomery Gentry
One Piece At A Time - Johnny Cash
Boat Drinks - Jimmy Buffet
Northern Michigan - Jill Jack
Half Acre - Hem
Lie In Our Graves - Dave Matthews Band

If this weekend is a barometer for the summer ahead, we're in for a wonderful one. Cheers to the only state where you can use your hand to show where you live!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Introducing #BabyWeber, Kinley Marie

Before you were conceived, I wanted you.
Before you were born, I loved you.
Before you were here an hour, I would die for you.
This is the miracle of life.
- Maureen Hawkins

Yes, it's been awhile since I last posted.

Let me just say my brain has been occupied with something new going on in my life: pregnancy! I am not in any way finished blogging just because I am anticipating MAJOR changes in my life, but obviously it's not going to be as consistent. Regardless, I will try my darnest.

I have never been so happy in my entire life. Sounds corny, but ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to be a mom. I'm a nurturer by nature and just have always known it's my lot in life to take care of a wee human being. Coupled with my amazing husband, I have no doubt that it's going to be the most exciting adventure of our lives.

My time lately has been spent sleeping (esp. at the beginning) and reading stacks of books on pregnancy, baby bargains, breastfeeding and infant care. I know nothing in the books can prepare me for what's ahead, but having a bit more working knowledge for what I'm in for has been a sigh of relief.

I'm 21 weeks along already - just over halfway there! And we know it's a girl - Kinley (prncd. kin-lee) Marie to be exact.

There's logic behind the name:
- Kinley is the road Jason grew up on and where his family's homestead is. With his grandpa passing away last fall, it seemed fitting to have the name be a part of him in some way.
- Upon researching the name, we discovered it's Irish (brings my heritage in a bit!) and means "Fair Warrior." With a meaning like that, she's bound to be a bad a$$.
- It starts with the letter K. Since we're Jason & Lauren, it seems only fitting that we utilize the letter that is in between us.

Marie, yes, the cliche middle name for a girl. Well, not to us.
- Marie is my middle name, my mom's middle name, my grandma's middle name and my great-grandma's middle name.
- Marie is Jason's mom's middle name as well. And it's his amazing grandma's first name.

Winner winner chicken dinner! Glad it's a girl just for the sheer fact we knew her name even before she was conceived and we were lost when it came to boy names.

I have gobs of posts stored in my mind ranging from education to art and the top things I want to show Kinley about Detroit that will take time to write. Be patient and know I will be back again soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Word-Up Ya'll: Talk Trash for a Rockin' Cause

Just sharing the latest and greatest on our female blogger collaboration with Operation: Kid Equip - Word-Up - a trash talkin' tennis tourney for a cause!

On Saturday, Feb. 27th, from 9-11 p.m. at the Birmingham Racquet Club, area bloggers and social media enthusiasts will step out from behind the safety of their monitors and iPhones to face off. For a group of Detroiters accustomed to scrapping out turf in the cyber world by skillfully lobbing poignant barbs, placing the perfect spin on headlines and relying on the fastest servers, the opportunity to see who rises to the top in a face-to-face battle of good ole' fashion trash talk was too much to resist.

All proceeds from the event will go to Operation: Kid Equip to help complete their mission of arming area third graders with dictionaries. We're currently raising funds for Hazel Park and need your help!

Sign up here to play, attend, support or sponsor Word-Up. You may as well, cuz if you don't, we'll just talk trash about you anyway!

If you're curious as to how this will work, just check out the event's Facebook page.

*Warning: Trash talk will be flying at this event and is more than likely to land out of bounds at times. All attendees, playing or not, should arrive with well-padded egos.*

Pre-event registration prices range from $10-$30, but feel free to make a donation if you aren't able to attend. Door prices are $10 more per ticket (depending on availability).

Now, I don't play tennis, but this will definitely be something worth seeing, or shall I say hearing? Crazy 70's gear is encouraged, so bring out the tube socks and shorty shorts!


Angry (or happy?) Andy Roddick photo cred.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Prayers for Haiti

Photo cred: from the Christian Science Monitor.
Read the story behind the photo here.
It's beautiful.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dictionary Project Update: Some Delivered, but Still a Great Need

There we were. Standing in the library of John F. Kennedy elementary school in Ferndale when all of the sudden...massive amounts of 3rd graders come at us.

This only means one thing: we reached our goal of being able to provide dictionaries to every third grader in the Ferndale school district!

Last Wednesday, the gals from the Operation: Kid Equip (OKE) female blogger collaboration and Menachem, the co-founder and brains behind OKE came together to deliver dictionaries to our first school.

The experience was nothing short of amazing. The principal announced us and explained to the children that we were sharing our passion for writing with them by giving them a great tool - a dictionary.

The children crowded around us, each getting up to receive a dictionary of their very own. We received many thanks, but the cutest of all were all the HUGS we received. Once seated again, the students thumbed through the book, which was easy to navigate for a 3rd grader and they all quickly found other nuggets of wisdom in the book such as sign language and the longest word known to man. I showed a little girl how I sign my name and encouraged her to learn how to sign her own name and then look up words in the dictionary and figure out how to sign those. Here she is signing away:

Following the distribution, the principal asked the students how receiving a dictionary made them feel inside and the students were quick to raise their hands to share: excited, happy and LOVED. To think a simple act of giving away a dictionary could make a child feel loved was the best feeling ever. We all departed feeling pretty darn good about ourselves.

The need train doesn't stop here though. We still need to distribute many more dictionaries to area children. And our next stop is Hazel Park, an Oakland County city that has been hit very hard by the economy.

To those asking "Why Oakland County and not Detroit proper?" listen up:
Oakland County is often noted as one of the "richest" counties in the state. However, that really isn't true these days -- not in Michigan's economy especially. However, because of this notion, many times children in Oakland County are overlooked. As OKE's research has shown, many school districts have gone up dramatically in the past few years with the school's free and reduced lunch program, which generally is an indicator of the need. One district in dire need is Hazel Park, which has recently surpassed Pontiac's need.

Helping out is simple. For a $20 donation, you can supply eight third graders with dictionaries.

1. Click here to make a PayPal donation.

2. Mail a check to:
Operation: Kid Equip
P.O. Box 364
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0364
*Write Dictionary Project in the memo line*

3. Contact menachem[at] to make a credit card or other form of payment.

So on this Martin Luther King Day as we reflect on how our country has progressed through the years, let us also reflect on something very important he said many years ago:

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

Special props to the other Detroit-area bloggers making this possible: Erin Rose of Positive Detroit, Becks Davis of Detroit Moxie, Nikki Stephan of Creativity, Love, Happiness & All That Falls Between and Jennifer Wright of Looking Glass Lane. If you'd like to join the collaboration, contact Erin at positivedetroit[at]

Thanks to Becks Davis of Detroit Moxie for the adorable photo in the middle of the girl with the dictionary.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Song(s): Songs About Detroit

Check out this sweet Wikipedia entry of songs that were written about Detroit. I had no idea our fair city was so popular!

**Wiki entry on songs about Detroit**

There's your standard Detroiters on the list - Eminem, Kid Rock and a pleuthora of Detroit-area bands, but there's also a whole slew of other random artists as well.

Glad the city provides inspiration to some rockin' musicians! I feel a new playlist coming on...