Friday, October 19, 2012

Michigan-The Shopping

     When I think of fun vacations, I think of scenery, food and shopping! If you missed some of my scenic pictures of our trip to Michigan, you can see them here. Today, I thought I would share a few of my favorite shopping spots when we head up north.

     Do you ever walk into a store and think to yourself "this is a blogger's paradise"? That is exactly how I felt when I discovered Sensible Pearl's in Suttons Bay, MI. We love Suttons is small, beautiful and has darling little shops.

I was so excited to finally find Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
I do have a project in mind, but you all know how
I am with "arts and crafts". It is a large piece of
 furniture, so any advice is welcome.
I also couldn't leave these precious velvet pumpkins behind.

     We usually try to plan a visit to Leland, MI for lunch. Leland is home to historic Fishtown, which has small shops and eateries.

This trip, look what I found! Two of them came home
with us...I really wanted them all.

     Much of what we do in Michigan is outdoors, including the shopping. There are so many orchards, fruit stands and farmer's markets. What I love is that many of them are on the honor system. We bought wonderful Honeycrisp apples and just put our money in the box and took what we wanted. The above pictures are of one of our favorite places...Pond Hill Farm, located just outside of Harbor Springs, MI. When we first started coming here, it was simply a working farm that sold flowers and vegetables with a few animals for kids to play with. Now, it has a winery and restaurant. We still love all the hand-canned items that are just like grandma used to make.

There are also bakeries on every street corner...
so, we just had to have some cinnamon breads.

In Holland, MI on the way home...we
stocked up at the farmer's market on
local vegetables including fresh chestnuts.
     Of course it wouldn't be a trip if I didn't come home with at least one pair of new shoes. I bought these crazy boots and I just love them. They have birdhouses, cats and top hats mixed with florals on them. They are my "girly" work boots!
     We  stocked up on all our favorite jams, sauces and salsas...some wine and beer from local wineries and breweries and even did a little Christmas shopping. As you can see, you never get bored along Lake Michigan! Next up...the food!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What's So Great About Michigan?

     We just got back from spending a week at our "peaceful place" in Michigan. Nothing surprises me (or my husband) more than how much I love it there. I was always a person who needed to see palm trees to feel as if I was on vacation. My husband said last week that he never dreamed we would be taking trips that included cold temperatures, hiking and a wardrobe of only jeans and boots or tennis shoes. Don't get me wrong...I'm still blissfully happy on a sunny beach in Florida with my feet in the sand, but I'm equally as happy wandering the shores of Lake Michigan (as long as it isn't winter). I thought I'd share some of my favorite spots with you in the next few blog posts. We have learned over the years to pack for all sorts of weather conditions when we make the 8 hour drive north to Traverse City. This time was no different. We saw sleet, rain, wind and sunshine...and it was snowing all around us. I think I'll just stop writing and let the pictures speak for themselves. You will be traveling on the Leelanau Peninsula, where the leaves have turned lovely shades of gold and red. The day was sunny and windy, the beach isolated and for the first time we visited Sleeping Bear Dunes in the midst of a sand storm. It was beautiful, but the sand was very painful on our faces and got into our eyes, teeth, shoes and even our pockets. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Seeking Fall

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
Autumn Fires
by Robert Louis Stevenson
I'll be looking for fall this weekend...what will you be doing?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Prayers for Luke

     This will be a different blog post than usual. You see, there is something more important going on than anything I could write about food, flowers or decor. That sweet little boy in the picture above, he is very sick and because I believe in the power of prayer...I want to share a little of his story with you.
     Luke is the son of close friends of ours. His dad works with my husband. He started kindergarten this year and he loves baseball, Hot Wheel cars and his brother and sister. Around two years ago, his parents were blindsided when what they thought was a playground injury turned out to be leukemia. I can't begin to tell you what they went through for those first months. Weeks in the hospital in St. Louis (about 100 miles from us) followed by daily trips back and forth after he was released. Many trips to the ER, horrible sickness from the chemo and the tests all while his mom was nursing their youngest child and his older brother was in the first grade. It was worth it all, the leukemia went into remission and for the last year he has taken maintenance chemo by mouth and had monthly trips to St. Louis. While there were still a few bumps along the way from reactions to testing or his weakened immune system, he has been a healthy, happy little boy for a year.
     Last week, this young family was stunned once again. Luke's routine monthly checkup showed the leukemia was back. His spinal fluid is 95 percent leukemia cells and it is also in his bone marrow. The picture above was taken this past would never guess he is a sick child by looking at him. His older brother's coach arranged for him to get to play on the team for a game, which was a dream come true for him. His two-year-old sister and his brother (a third grader) have both been tested for a bone marrow transplant. The results will take two weeks to get back. Yesterday, he started agressive chemo and his family is facing driving to St. Louis every other day until December, with a few days spent in the hospital there. If all goes as planned and one of the children is a match, the transplant process will begin in December with Luke and his mom staying in the hospital for 100 days and then in St. Louis for another 100 days. Christmas will be spent in the hospital, mom will be away from her other children for 7 months, dad will be working full time and taking care of two small children and the things that Luke will have to endure are just too painful to write about.
     They are an amazing family. They have a strong faith and support from family and friends. They have used the past "healthy" year to raise awareness and funds for research for childhood cancers. They give of themselves to others and they have been through more than any family that I have ever known. As I discovered "the plan" for their next year...I was simply overwhelmed by what they have to face and yet when we visited with Luke's dad on Sunday, he was ready to do whatever he had to do to save his child and he was already talking about how they planned to give back once Luke is well. I am old enough to be their parent, but they seem so much wiser and stronger than I will ever be.
     There is so little that we can do as their friends. A plan for taking meals is in place. (Have you seen for things like this). They have volunteers for babysitting and Luke's dad has been told he can work some days from home. Mostly, what they ask for is prayer. Right now, the prayer is that one of the siblings is a match. This is the best possible thing that could happen for Luke.
     Because blogging is my way of reaching many people, I ask for your help. I ask that you pray for our friends and for Luke if that is what you believe in. If not, I ask that you just send good thoughts and positive energy their way. I ask that you consider signing up to be on the bone marrow donor list, because I know this would be something our friends would want others to consider. If this touches you in a way that you would like to do more for this family, send me a message and I will tell you how you can do that.
     Last week was one of those that was extremely painful for all of us who love this family. It was so unexpected and it made us all feel so helpless. It also made me very aware that anything in my life that I've been complaining nothing. So, if you are so inclined...please take just a moment to add this sweet child and his family to your prayers today. Thank you.