Bakery visit–Holland Michigan

A few months ago, we visited the lovely town of Holland Michigan.  The city is truly inviting with a downtown filled with cute shops, boutiques, and amazing restaurants. And there is no excuse not to visit during the winter months, as the sidewalks and streets are heated to remove all snow and ice!  Amazing!

On our visit, we were especially impressed with the Alpen Rose Bakery. I love to visit local small town coffee shops and bakeries, where I often find some of the best cakes, cookies and pastries. Alpen Rose was not only a great place to eat, but had a great selection of European treats.  The decor is inspired by the Alpine culture and enviroment and was casual and very inviting.  We visited the bakery one afternoon, and then returned for breakfast the next morning.

Some of the treats featured at this cute bakery included muffins, scones, fruit turnovers, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, cookies, bars and brownies, and of course cakes and tortes. If you are near Grand Rapids, please don’t forget to drive a few more miles to Holland and stop by the Alpen Rose. I can’t wait to visit again.

  

Garden trip: Japanese garden

Last month we visited the Frederik Meijer gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan.  A new Japanese garden installation was completed last year and covers eight acres of the space, which also includes a variety of other gardens, a conservatory, greenhouse and other educational gardening spaces.

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We were most interested in seeing the Japanese garden this year, as it has been in the works for over four years.  The plantings, bridges, waterfalls, sculpture, and other water features were simply beautiful. Now, remember, these plants have only had one year to take hold, and as every gardener knows, it takes some time for the “look” of an established garden to be solidified.

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Nevertheless, the style, design, pathways, and overall idea and concept of this garden is very well planned and executed.  The bridges were lovely, with lily pad overlooks.  The tea house was intricately placed within the garden, and the overlook of the entire garden was also quite nicely thought through and built.

As just one feature of the Meijer gardens, this Japanese garden is something special to enjoy and appreciate.  From the rocks and boulders that line the water, to the Zen and bonsai gardens, there are so many unique features to this garden to enjoy and celebrate.

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If you visit, leave enough time to also enjoy the other areas of the Meijer gardens, including the carnivorous plant exhibit and the Gwen Frostic shade garden — Such a nice tribute to a lovely Michigan artist who loved and created her art based on plant and animals.

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Summertime gelato

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IMG_3905Today feels like fall to me in Michigan. I already have a sweatshirt on after the bursts of rain came down these past couple of days. So, I decided that I better catch up with my blog, and post some of my favorite summertime memories.

We tasted some amazing gelato this summer up North at American Spoon in Petoskey, MI. Wow, the flavors were spectacular and I think the presentation was even better. The cafe is very cute with high ceilings and an old-fashioned but upscale feel. The room is bright with large windows. They also have some outdoor seating. We were there in the mid-afternoon for our gelato treat, and it was not busy at all. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch with the gelato until 10 p.m. during the summer months.

Now for the flavors–toasted marshmallow, blood orange, maple pecan, milk caramel,coffee, banana creme caramel, Michigan blueberry and so many more. Each flavor shines in the glass counter and the decision is difficult. Each small cup provides space for tasting up to three flavors. I loved visiting Petoskey and this shop made the trip even more fun.

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A garden walk on Old Mission Penninsula

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week we had a wonderful day touring gardens along the Old Mission Peninsula in northern Michigan.  The annual garden walk was organized by the Friendly Garden Club of Traverse City, which is a member of Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc. The garden club has many community service projects which are funded by this activity, which has taken place for 33 years.  Some of their projects  include the Grand Traverse Children’s Garden, Open Space Logo planting, and Senior Center planting.

Six Old Mission Peninsula gardens were featured this year, which included informal semi-shaded gardens, terraced sunny gardens, woodland gardens, a three-story barn with a rock garden, vegetable gardens, cottage gardens, a raised potager bed, a fenced Williamsburg garden, a chicken coop, and formal gardens of roses and perennials.  Many of the homes had beautiful water views and stunning entertaining spaces.  The tour was spectacular.  The day was beautiful and sunny, with lovely breezes from the water. Many of these homeowners tend their own gardens, with some of them also belonging to the garden club.

Here are some photos from the day:

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a visit to cranbrook gardens

Summer is a time for spontaneous day trips.  Last week Monday we decided to take a drive to Cranbrook Gardens in Bloomfield Hills Michigan, for a tour of the property and gardens.  Cranbrook House and gardens was established in the 1900’s for the daughter of the founder of The Detroit News, Ellen Scripps. By the end of the 1920’s, the house was recognized nationally for its beauty.  The Cranbrook foundation uses the home and gardens today for tours, parties, receptions and other programs.

We walked the gardens surrounding the home which are maintained by their non-profit volunteer association. The house is surrounded by 40 acres of property and gardens, which includes an herbal garden and several fountains, pools and statuary.

This year more than 10,000 begonias were used to plant the sunken garden near the front of the home. The self-guided tour took us just over one hour, with the chance to talk with many of the volunteers tending to the beds.  The flowers are lovely.

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Kilwins chocolate kitchen tour

Kilwins Chocolate shops are located all over the country in many states from Florida to New York.   But, Michigan is home to 24 shops.  Just about every small town up North has a Kilwins, which is known for delicious  boxed chocolates, taffy, caramels, fudge, caramel apples,  handcrafted marshmallows and even ice cream.

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Walking into Kilwins is an experience, as the fragrance of chocolate fills the air.  The displays are beautiful, and the chocolate presentation is equal to any fine chocolate company in the world.  This past week, we visited the Petoskey shop (among others) to sample some nut clusters and tour the chocolate factory.  This location offers free tours, which last about one hour.

A history of the Kilwin family is shared, along with information about how the candy is decorated and produced.  Every one behind the glass walls making the candy has a smile on their face. The candy is handmade, and some of the equipment dates back to the 1940’s, 1950s and 1960s. Don Kilwin began his business in 1947.

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With 80 shops, it should be easy enough to find one that is near your home or a friend’s home for a visit.  Or, you could just check out their website for more information:  https://www.kilwins.com/stores/all

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Tom’s Mom’s cookies

Located in Harbor Springs Michigan, Tom’s Mom’s Cookies is a wonderful place to visit.  We heard about this cookie shop when watching a travel Michigan television program.  Having won several awards while being in business for more than 30 years, we decided to visit the shop last week.

The shop was busy when we visited, and the cookies were filling the glass case.  Cookie production seems to take place steps from the counter, with an easy sort of feel to the surroundings.  The atmosphere is very cozy, and the pace equally relaxed.

Just outside of the shop is an eating area, where space is provided for relaxation and enjoyment of a freshly baked cookie.  We bought a dozen to go and my husband has been enjoying each of the flavors over the past week.

Cookie selection ranges from chocolate chunk to oatmeal raisin with every old-fashioned cookie in-between. Be sure to stop in when traveling to Harbor Springs.  It was one of those fun experiences that make the day special. For more details, check out their website:  http://www.tomsmomscookies.com/

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