Monday, September 29, 2008

A Beautiful Saturday in Detroit

My mom and I spent Saturday doing all things Detroit. I was finally able to hit up some of the cultural hot spots I can never find time for and it was amazing.

We started off the day with omelettes from Toast, a Ferndale diner (OK, everything else in the post is Detroit), as recommended many times by my dear friend Nikki. It was delish! We had a "20 minute" wait, which really turned out to be 5 minutes and were greeted by friendly and fast-working staff. I'll definitely go back!

From there, we went to explore artist Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project, a housing project on the eastside of the city that has had many question what art really means. While driving through the dilapidated neighborhood surrounding the project, my only thought was "how sad." Once we entered Heidelberg street and saw the randomness that makes up the art-filled streets and homes, my only thought was, "Man this is weird. But at least it's not sad anymore, it's just...interesting." I mean, who literally staples hundreds of stuffed animals to a house? Art is in the eye of the beerholder I suppose! Nonetheless, it was fascinating and beautiful in its own way.

After taking some photos of the houses, we headed over to Eastern Market -- a place I've been dying to go to since I moved closer to the area a few years ago. It was AWESOME! I could have walked up and down the rows of produce for hours -- it was like a candy store to me. There was just something so great feeling about buying items from local farmers and entrepreneurs. And the prices! I don't know a single store that can beat 'em! I walked out with grapes, tomatoes, raspberries and strawberries all for just $4.50. And with fall in full bloom, you couldn't beat the prices for mums and the other flowers that decorated the rows either.

From Eastern Market, we went to Pewabic Pottery, the famed Detroit historical landmark on Jefferson. This was another spot I could have stayed for hours. I have always loved ceramics and find such beauty in their uniqueness. It took me nearly an hour to pick out the perfect, reasonably priced piece -- a simple, circular, "Pewabic green" flower that was fired in the Detroit studio. My mom and I also wandered around the current exhibit - "Texting: Print and Clay" and admired the intricate and modern pieces and learned a little about Pewabic's 105-year history.
On the way back toward home, we drove around Belle Isle Park, which was huge and very beautiful (I've never seen so much grass in Detroit!) then we hit up the Good Girls Go to Paris Creperie, a new stand hidden on John R, a block off of Woodward. I had the Mollika (cherries, chocolate and whipped cream), while my mom had the Cora (strawberries, blueberries and whip). Very cool concept and I'm happy the adorable owner decided to set-up shop in downtown.
Overall, it was a perfect day and I have the city of Detroit (and my mom) to thank.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Song(s): Tunes that Tell a Story

Many of my favorite songs are ones that tell stories -- whether of happiness or grief. While driving around Detroit yesterday, my mom and I brainstormed some of our favorite songs that tell stories. Here's my top ten, in no particular order:

This song tells a moving tale of a young man's quest for revenge on an absent father whose only contribution to his entire life was naming him Sue. Fun fact: The lyrics were actually written by children's author, Shel Silverstein.

This easily may take the cake as one of my fave songs EVER (esp. for driving), but for the purpose of the list, it tells a great, creepy story...Is it about hell? Drugs? Death? I guess it's all in the ears of the listener...

Ok, Ok, this one is damn sappy. But the lyrics, oh the sweet, so real, so country. Beware: Kleenex is absolutely necessary.

Listen to the lyrics carefully. If this song doesn't give you the chills, I don't know what will!

Ain't nothing like the real thing baby...this tune recounts the story of the great ship sinking in Lake Superior in 1975.

Just a simple country tune that proves what's meant to be will always find a way.

This song tells the story of a man who doesn't have time for his kid, the kid grows up and then he doesn't have time for his old man. It serves as a reminder to us all about the importance of making time for loved ones.

Hurricane is a 1976 protest song co-written by Bob Dylan about the imprisonment of famed boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. It describes alleged acts of racism and profiling against Carter, which Dylan describes in the song as leading to a false trial and conviction. Very controversial song for its time.

One of Reba's finest, although it wasn't orginally performed/written by her. The song tells the sad tale of an impoverished mother whose husband has recently abandoned the family. She buys her daughter a red dress and encourages her to "be nice to the gentleman" (implying prostitution) as a way to make money.

Classic song. Who knows what the real meaning is, but that's half the fun! Many say it's dedicated to Buddy Holly...but there are many other singer/band references (Beatles, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, etc.).

Anyone out there have ideas for songs that tell great stories?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Buy One, Get One Free Kittens from Michigan Humane Society

I've always been a cat lover as long as I can remember. Don't get me wrong, I love ALL animals, but there's just something mysterious and sassy about furry felines...

Unfortunately, my husband doesn't have the same love for them (or any indoor pet for that matter)...So, until we have children and they're pulling on his pant leg begging to get a precious pup or kitty, I will live vicariously through my friends and their furry "children."

An uber-cool program that was recently launched by the Michigan Humane Society provides the purrrfect solution for those looking to add a furball to their homes: buy one / get one free kitty's. I heard about it as a public service announcement on WWJ-AM and just thought it was (pardon the pun) the cat's pajamas (yes, click on the link for the definition).
Here's the scoop from the MHS Web site:

With “cat” season in full swing and cat and kitten intakes at peak summer levels, the Michigan Humane Society announces an exciting program that seeks more cats and kittens going home in twos! The “Purrfect in Pairs” program looks to double the number of cats being adopted by carefully matching pairs and charging only one adoption fee.

In addition to placing more cats and kittens in loving homes, the added benefit of the program is that many cats do better in pairs by providing exercise, social interaction and mental stimulation for each other. Adopters will see that two really is twice as nice - and results in twice the love without twice the work.

MHS will adopt together cats who are well-matched and have been selected for their suitability to the program. Placing two cats together will also help maximize the available cage space - which is critically needed this time of year.

MHS maintains a thorough adoption process to ensure each kitten or cat is placed in a loving, responsible home. As with all MHS adoptions, the “pair” will have the added value of the MHS adoption package, which includes: sterilization surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, a medical check-up, 10-day health plan and more.

MHS encourages you to visit its three metro Detroit adoption centers, or visit to “meet” your potential new furry family members online. MHS adoption centers are located in Detroit; Rochester Hills; and Westland. Adoption hours are Saturday/Sunday/Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Talk about smart marketing! All I know is that whenever that fateful day comes when I am finally able to pick out a cat of my own, the hubby's not only going to be stuck with one, but two!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Official: Fall's Here!

Fall is BY FAR Michigan's most spectac season. It makes me so happy that it is finally only if it could last a tad longer than normal...

"Autumn: The year's last, loveliest smile."
-- William Cullen Bryant

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Song: "Say" By John Mayer

I've been a moderate John Mayer fan since a friend made a copy of Room For Squares for me back in high school. That CD inspired me to go see John in concert at Meadowbrook. He was amazing to hear live. What's even more amazing than his talent are the lyrics to his songs, which are always sang with incredible passion.

"Say" was written by John for the movie "The Bucket List," starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman (BEST actor ever!). The flick showcases the importance of living life to its fullest. This song, played at the very end of the movie seems to further reiterate the notion of living life to its fullest by making sure if you have something to say about life -- be sure to SAY IT!

Although the song is a bit repetitive, there are some wonderful lyrics. Here's my favorite part:

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open...
Say what you need to say

Check out the song and video here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Song: "Johnny And June" by Heidi Newfield

I wanna love like Johnny and June // Rings of fire burnin' with you // I wanna walk the line, walk the line // 'Till the end of time // I wanna love, love ya that much // Cash it all in // Give it all up // When you're gone, I wanna go too // Like Johnny and June

I am so in love with this new song by Heidi Newfield! Not only because the lyrics capture how I feel about my husband, but also because it is a tribute to one of the greatest Hollywood romances of all time: Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Johnny died just four months after June -- a loss that no doubt had Johnny’s world falling apart and taking away his will to remain earthbound. Sure, John and June they had their tough times, as documented in the flick Walk The Line, but in the end -- and as always, love conquered all.

"What June did for me was post signs along the way, lift me when I was weak, encourage me when I was discouraged, and love me when I was alone and felt unlovable. She is the greatest woman I have ever known. Nobody else, except my mother, comes close. "
- Johnny Cash

Well said, Johnny! I feel blessed and honored to have a soul mate and best friend who is committed to me the way John was to June and I can only hope for a forever kinda love like theirs.

Check out the song and video here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Volunteering Time = Unbelievably Rewarding

It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life...that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This past weekend, I volunteered with Panera Bread (my client) and United Way for Southeastern Michigan's joint partnership program -- Impact Your Neighborhood. It was a wonderful experience for me and the quote above truly embodies what I felt like upon leaving the volunteer site.

Although it was only a few hours of time, it was so rewarding. A group of 20 of us (pictured) worked at Vista Maria, a nonprofit child welfare agency for girls and their families, based in Dearborn. The organization works with young women, approx. ages 11-18, to help them overcome past hardships and recover from histories of abuse, neglect and other traumas. These girls have been through so much that I cannot even begin to imagine...the least I could do was pull some weeds on their lawn and play games with them!
(Fun historical fact: The organization started to take shape in the 1930s when a group of Detroit nuns bought the land belonging to the Ford family for just $1!)

Volunteering always brings clarity to my life, hence why I jump at any opportunity I can make time for. I was reminded of why I do this while working with all of the amazing people that showed up...One guy explained to me that he was an exchange student from Taiwan and volunteering helped him practice his English with patient people...I laughed and then he continued to explain how so many Americans have taken the time to help him -- volunteering just a few hours of his time was the least he could do to give back to America. Hearing him saying that almost brought me to a world that feels so corrupt and jaded at times, it was refreshing to be surrounded by so many genuinely civil-minded individuals. It also was pretty cool to realize these folks were definitely not just there for the free food...volunteering was just simply something each of the people found necessary to do.

My experience just proved to me once again that sometimes it really is the small things we do -- or the few hours of time we dedicate to others that can make us feel like a million bucks.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Song: Bob Marley Essentials

"One good thing about music: when it hits, you feel no pain." - Bob Marley

Aside from the original "I Shot the Sheriff" and T-shirts with pot leaves on them, I knew nothing of Bob Marley until I went on a family cruise to the Caribbean and talked to the locals a few years ago. They all worshipped Marley and all he stood for. Ever since then, I've had a fascination with him and have been hooked to his music. Sounds cheesy, but I get what the locals were hearing...There's just something about his music that just speaks to people...

So, instead of choosing just one Sunday Song, I am choosing songs that I call the essential Marley 5: Three Little Birds, No Woman No Cry, One Love, Buffalo Soldier and Trenchtown Rock.

Instead of giving a mini biography of this amazing man, I will simply leave you with a wonderful quote from the ever-popular Wyclef Jean:

"What separates Bob Marley from so many other great songwriters? They don't know what it's like for rain to seep into their house. They wouldn't know what to do without their microwaves and stoves -- to make a fire with wood and cook their fish next to the ocean. Marley came from the poverty and injustice in Jamaica, and that manifested itself in his rebel sound. The people were his inspiration. Straight up. Like John Lennon, he brought the idea that through music, empowerment and words, you can really come up with world peace. But it's hard to compare him to other musicians because music was just one part of what he was. He was also a humanitarian and a revolutionary. His impact on Jamaican politics was so strong, there were assassination attempts on his life. Marley was like Moses. When Moses spoke, people moved. When Marley spoke, they moved as well."