Monday, April 28, 2008

Summer's Approaching... Gear Up for Free Concerts in the D!

I am sure I will be posting all kinds of information about the awesome events that will be taking place in/around the D this summer, but I wanted to let you all know first-hand that I am finally able to spill the beans on who will be performing at the 8-week Friday concert series, Rockin' on the Riverfront!

Here's the sweet lineup:

  • Pat Benatar – June 27 I can't wait to hear Love is a Battlefield live!
  • Mark Farner and Mitch Ryder – July 11
  • Starship – July 18 We built this city on rock and roll...
  • Rick Derringer and Classic Rock All Stars featuring original members of Sugarloaf, Rare Earth, Iron Butterfly, Blues Image and Cannibal & the Headhunters – July 25
  • The Guess Who – August 1 My personal fave band in the lineup!
  • Kansas – August 8
  • Blue Oyster Cult – August 15 More cowbell anyone?
  • Foreigner – August 22 HOT BLOODED, baby!

If you haven't checked out the revitalized Detroit riverfront, you are missing out -- it's beautiful and provides the perfect backdrop for summer concerts!

As some of you may know, I've been on the PR-side of this series for the past two years and have loved every second of it. What better thing to promote than music -- well, FREE classic rock -- in downtown? Life is good. If you can make one of these concerts, give me a shout -- I'll even buy you a drink! Or, if you know the bands, but can't remember which songs they sing, let me know and I'll make you a mix CD. Anything to bring you downtown to see them live!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Earth Day: Think Green Folks

If you know me well, you probably knew an earth-friendly post was in store when you clicked on my page due to today's celebration of Earth Day.

I just couldn't resist...after all, it's no lie that I spend nights awake, concerned my children aren't going to see the planet as I have been able to see it (nevermind all those global warming/end of the world shows I watch on Nat Geo and the History Channel before I fall asleep...).

Regardless of surprise, to honor the day and express my deep love for our earth, I've decided to make a list of some things I am going to try to make a habit of during the next year. Each Earth Day, I'll add on more things to the list and before I know it, I'll be as green as can be. Well, in theory at least.

My green inventory thus far...
Positive green points:
+ I use reusable shopping bags as much as possible
+ I use energy-efficient appliances (costly initially, but my bills are actually equal/less than they were living in a small apartment)
+ I recycle virtually everything at home at least (thank you, curbside!)

Negative green points:
- Gas emissions (a 40 mile+ commute, but I'm working on a carpool!)
- I'm a tree killer (there are hundreds of papers in my office)
- At home, I have a bad habit of leaving lights on when I leave rooms

With that guilt taking over, here's my list of 8 things I'm going to do to make my life greener this year (ideas compiled from various Internet sources):
  1. Buy larger items. Sounds counter-productive, but think about it: one big jar of salsa takes up a lot less packaging than several smaller jars.
  2. Unplug appliances when they're not in use. Does my phone charge magically while I am gone for the day? I thought not. Keeping the less-than-often used appliances unplugged when idle reduces your power usage significantly. Amen to lower bills, too!
  3. Use rechargable batteries for cameras, alarm clocks, etc. It's that simple... After all, household batteries present a major toxic disposal issue.
  4. Go double-sided. I've vowed to be more conscious that when I am done filling up that piece of paper with to do lists and life goals, I won’t throw it away immediately. Instead, I am going to try to flip it over and use the other side for more unproductive lists.
  5. Replace lights with compact fluorescent lightbulbs. CFLs cost three to five times as much as conventional incandescent bulbs yet use 75 percent less electricity and typically last 10 years longer. Just look for the Energy Star label.
  6. Hang clothes on a clothesline instead of using the dryer. According to a Time magazine article, a T-shirt can omit up to 9 lbs. of carbon dioxide into the air during its lifetime. Yikes! Although I am a sucker for soft, dryer-scented clothes, I am going to make a conscious effort to hang more and dry less this summer.
  7. Buy more at second-hand stores. Why? Buying a used shirt means you avoid consuming all the energy used in producing and shipping a new one and, therefore, the carbon emissions associated with it. Besides, vintage means uniqueness anyways, right? I think I'll just stick to getting cheap, kitschy tees at Plato's Closet.
  8. Pay bills online. Why? A.) It revives that feeling of excitement you got as a kid when you actually got something addressed to you in the mail. B.) It avoids wasting both paper and fuel for transporting your Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes entry form. It's a win-win for all.

Take my steps and apply them to your own life. Or not. The choice is yours. But look at how happy this penguin is below. You don't want to be the one responsible for melting his home away, now do you? Then make an effort toward slowing global warming and have a wonderful Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Win A "Detroit Date Adventure" From Metromix

Want a romantic night out around the D but don't have the cash? Check out this great opportunity from the recently-launched Metromix Detroit Web site:

If you're an adventurous dater and always looking for cool and unique things to do, then you're an ideal candidate for Metromix's Detroit Date Night Adventure. Go out, have fun, eat well and we'll compensate you and your date up to $100. Interested? Well, we do need a little something from you:

- You must have a digital camera (5 megapixel or higher required). You'll be taking tons of shots.
- You need to hit at least three places during the date. One must be a restaurant. Your other choices should encourage your sense of adventure and be different from our previous date nights (which we're just starting out so the sky is the limit).
- You need to be willing to write about your night. You don't have to be Shakespeare. Basically you just have to describe what you did during the night by writing a short caption for each photo you submit.

Still interested?
Then send MMX an email at with what you have planned for your night out, and we'll contact you if we think people will wanna learn more about your experiences.

WHAT?!? Detroit//my honey//food//fun//writing and possible cash? Sounds like a dream come true. Count me in. I'll keep ya'll posted with how the night goes...

Tuesday Find: Detroit's City Bird

I came across this cool story in Model D about a cute pair of siblings that started their own Detroit-based company called City Bird to sell handmade things inspired by life in the city.

Check out their site:

Thanks for keeping the spirit of Detroit alive, Andy and Emily!

P.S. I'm in love with that clock made out of a vinyl record.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What Will Your "Dash" Be Like?

Jason's uncle Bob recently died after 18 months of battling the horrible disease of ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease). While we were reflecting on Bob's life after his funeral, Jason's aunt began talking about this "dash poem" below and what that dash between your birth and death really symbolizes on a tombstone.

We all cheered to bob's "dash" -- he had always been one to help others and live life to its fullest. But you could tell it got all of us thinking -- what will our own dashes symbolize? It reminds me of the famous quote, "It's not the years in your life, but the life in your years." I wanted to put this poem in here so I always remember to be living my life to its fullest.

The Dash
By Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the second with tears, but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth,
and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own; the cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard, are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
(You could be at "dash mid-range.")
If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand the way other people feel. less quick to anger, and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be pleased with the things they have to say about how you spent your dash?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Free Ice Cream via Ben & Jerry's

Mark your calendar! The 30th annual FREE scoop day at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream will be taking place Tuesday, April 29.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a fan of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. To me, Dairy Queen isn't even on the same playing field -- there's nothing quite like rich, delicious homemade ice cream. B & J's perfect pint size creations are amazing and the company itself is great, too -- boasting Fair Trade Certified products and having a strong community presence in the places where "Scoop Shops" reside.

I've been a fan for such a long time that I even wrote an article for my high school newspaper reviewing Ben & Jerry's various flavors. All were great in some way, but time hasn't changed me -- my top two faves are still Phish Food (chocolate ice cream with marshmallow, caramel swirls and fudge fish -- inspired by the jam band, Phish) and Chunky Monkey (banana ice cream with fudge chunks and walnuts).

My dream is to take a road trip one day to tour the factory, located in Waterbury, Vermont. Until then, I definitely hope to stop by a Scoop Shop for some free ice cream come April 29.

To find a location nearest you, click here. Metro Detroit locations include Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills, Detroit and Royal Oak.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday Song - "40 Hour Week" by Alabama

I heard this classic 80's country song the other day on 106.7 FM (The Fox) and it struck a chord with me. Our country is definitely not thankful enough for all the people out there working hard to make sure our country runs in a seamless manner. This is my thanks to all you folks out there working those tough jobs -- the waiters/waitresses, policemen, firemen, prison workers, truckers, steel workers, DETROIT autoworkers, etc. I salute you for all the great work you do -- it truly is the outcome of your labor that makes me proud to say I'm an American.

There are people in this country who work hard every day
Not for fame or fortune do they strive
But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay
And it's time a few of them were recognized

Hello Detroit auto workers, let me thank you for your time
You work a forty hour week for a livin', just to send it on down the line
Hello Pittsburgh steel mill workers, let me thank you for your time
You work a forty hour week for a livin', just to send it on down the line

This is for the one who swings the hammer, driving home the nail
Or the one behind the counter, ringing up the sale
Or the one who fights the fires, the one who brings the mail
For everyone who works behind the scenes

You can see them every morning in the factories and the fields
In the city streets and the quiet country towns
Working together like spokes inside a wheel
They keep this country turning around

Hello Kansas wheat field farmer, let me thank you for your time
You work a forty hour week for a livin', just to send it on down the line
Hello West Virginia coal miner, let me thank you for your time
You work a forty hour week for a livin', just to send it on down the line

This is for the one who drives the big rig, up and down the road
Or the one out in the warehouse, bringing in the load
Or the waitress, the mechanic, the policeman on patrol
For everyone who works behind the scenes
With a spirit you can't replace with no machine

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Things I've Learned: Life Lessons at 23

I got inspired last week after reading a list of "Lessons of a Lifetime" in Strut magazine, so I decided to create my own list of life lessons. I wrote one for each year of my life [thus far]. I figured I may as well share it...

1. I've learned that boys and girls break hearts. But, no matter what, there is always something better waiting in the wings.

2. I've learned that your parents really do know "what's up," even if you think you're getting away with something.

3. I've learned that no matter how many new friends I make, I keep coming back to the ones who knew me while I was growing up.

4. I've learned that the idea "fake it till you make it" can work. If you're not happy with something, try to alter the way you're thinking about it.

5. I've learned that being older doesn't necessarily make you wiser and age really isn't anything but a number.

6. I've learned that if I feel like saying something, I'm going to say it. If you think I'm crazy or obnoxious, we weren't meant to be.

7. I've learned that when it comes to finding a mate, pick someone who makes you laugh.

8. I've learned that good grades only get you so far in life.

9. I've learned that it has taken me a long time to become the person I want to be and I still have a lot of work to do.

10. I've learned that perfect strangers can give great advice.

11. I've learned that just because you can be "connected" to work 24/7 doesn't mean you should be. If it's that important, they'll call.

12. I've learned that having a commute into work isn't always an awful thing -- sometimes during my day, that's the only time I am alone with my thoughts.

13. I've learned that the best way to mend a broken heart is through time and girlfriends (and maybe Ben & Jerry's, too).

14. I've learned that it's important to reflect on all the beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis. Like me, chances are you're pretty lucky.

15. I've learned that mixing any combination of wine, beer and liquor in the same night is never a good idea.

16. I've learned that I need to be thankful for the clothes I own. Even though I complain a lot that I'm not as fashionable as others, some people only have rags to wear.

17. I've learned that having a strong spiritual life is crucial when it comes to answering life's uncertainties.

18. I've learned that judging someone is cruel and unfair. You can't begin to really know someone with assumptions about their character.

19. I've learned that kids can teach us lessons everyday -- how to share, how to play and how to create something without rhyme or reason.

20. I've learned that saving for your future needs to begin with your very first paycheck.

21. I've learned that I'm not waiting until I'm old to "wear purple." There's no time like the present!

22. I've learned that saying "I love you" to family and friends is important. You never know what may happen tomorrow.

23. I've learned that I'm never going to stop learning life lessons.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wally Bronner, Just a Great Michigander

It's a sad day. The founder of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, located in the magical town of Frankenmuth, Mich. has died of cancer at the age of 81.

So many Michiganders (and others) have had wonderful experiences at that store.

I remember shopping there when I was seven years old. My mom told me I could pick out one ornament for our eyes lit up. Do you have any idea how HUGE that store is? Especially when you're seven?!?

I had a ball walking up and down each aisle before settling on a white and mint green ornament with Bambi on it. Man, that thing was my pride and joy. And it still dons my tree to this day, bringing back memories of walking those aisles and see that huge store through the eyes of a child.

I didn't know too much about Wally Bronner himself until I read about him today. I think I have a new hero! I only took some snippets from a story posted on Crain's Detroit Business' Web site.

Bronner, founder of Christmas-themed empire in Mich., dies at 81
By James Prichard -- Associated Press Writer

Wally Bronner, whose Christmas retail empire made Frankenmuth one of Michigan's most popular tourist destinations but who strove to keep the focus on the Nativity and Christian tradition, has died. He was 81.

Bronner died Tuesday at his home. His relatives notified employees of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland last week that he had inoperable cancer.

Shoppers from all over the country have come for years to Bronner's to take in what is touted as the world's largest Christmas store. The store, about 20 miles north of Flint, is open seven days a week except New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"You want to know the truth?" he asked a Detroit Free Press reporter in 2004. "The truth is no decorations are needed at all at Christmas. What's really needed at Christmas is that we decorate our hearts. We get so busy with all of our preparations that we forget that this is such an important time of year to stop and take time to reflect on our lives, our faith, our world. What matters most to me? Helping people to decorate their hearts with peace and love."

Son Wayne was named president and chief executive of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in 1998, and daughters Carla Spletzer and Maria Sutorik were named vice presidents. Bronner stayed on as an ambassador, devoting his time to meeting customers, responding to media requests and answering phone calls, e-mails or letters. At the top of an organization chart kept in Bronner's office simply was a Christian cross.

"Our rule is that everything we do will focus on — or at least not detract from — the Christ whose birth we are celebrating," Bronner told the Free Press. "My hobby of signs, displays and decorations developed into a full-time business, and I never went to work," Bronner was quoted as saying in his official biography.

"Since I never went to work, I don't have to think of retirement, and I'll continue the hobby, God-willing, but only on days that end in 'y'."

Wallace "Wally" Bronner was born in Frankenmuth on March 9, 1927, the youngest of Herman and Ella Bronner's three children. He started a sign-painting business in his parents' basement in 1943 and expanded it to include decorating parade floats and fair booths and designing window displays.In 1951, Bronner met several merchants from Clare who were looking for Christmas decorations for lampposts in their city. Aided by his first full-time employee, Eddie Beyerlein, Bronner designed and produced Christmas panels for them. He married Irene Pretzer of Hemlock the same year.Bronner learned that other cities in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario also were interested in commercial decorations. He held his first decorations exhibit in the spring of 1952 in Frankenmuth's Township Hall.

Two years later, he and his wife constructed their first permanent building in the middle of Frankenmuth — half of it dedicated to the sign painting business, the other half accommodating the Christmas decorations.The store offered decorations for cities and shopping centers as well as gifts and trims for the home in religious, traditional and toyland themes. Another building was acquired in 1966 and a third in 1971.

According to the company history on the Bronner's Web site, the three stores became so congested by the early 1970s that Bronner had to hire doormen on fall weekends to control the lines of people waiting to enter. In 1977, the business was consolidated into one location on 45 acres of land on Frankenmuth's south side. A 1991 building addition nearly doubled the size of the store, and the shipping department was expanded in 2000. Another major expansion completed in May 2002 brought the building's size to the equivalent of more than five football fields.

Bronner's employed hundreds of people and supplied Christmas decorations for movies. Bronner founded the Walter and Irene Bronner and Family Foundation, which in 2000 donated $1 million for a 500-seat auditorium at Frankenmuth High School. When he received a philanthropic award from the Saginaw Community Foundation in 1996, he returned the $5,000 prize and had the foundation start a fund to buy equipment for volunteers to use to clean up Saginaw.

What a guy. You'll be missed, Mr. Christmas. I mean, Mr. Bronner.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Whateverlife, I'm just going to be a millionaire at 17

I'm totally inspired by Michigan resident Ashley Qualls, the creator of

Her site, full of design templates and accesories for teen girls' MySpace pages raked in approx $800K last year. The girl writes HTML code from memory. She lives in Southgate, Mich. and she was just honored with Crain's Detroit Business' 20 in their 20s award. Except she's not in her 20's... She's only 17!!!

She can't vote, she can't smoke. Heck, she can't even rent porn (legally). Yet, she created the Web-based company on her family computer with no money. And she's not planning on stopping there. The rising star is also going to be using her eye for design to brand clothes and hopes to open a retail store in the Southland Mall in Southgate.

As rockin' mag Fast Company put it in their great feature on her...she's LOL all the way to the bank.

And all I have to say is YOU GO GIRL!