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So far Brandy Wheeler has created 308 blog entries.

Lakeland Boating Magazine Features A Taste of Traverse City

Lakeland Boating Traverse City article

Pick up the August Issue of Lakeland Boating Magazine, on newsstands now, and you’ll find a feature article on Traverse City, Michigan written by Brandy Wheeler, owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas and the Traverse Traveler app.

 

Traverse City is the featured Port of Call in this month’s issue of a popular Great Lakes boating magazine. Each month Lakeland Boating, sister publication to Great Lakes Angler, includes an article highlighting destinations that Great Lakes boaters are interested in discovering. 

 

The 7-page article introduces readers to many aspects of the Traverse City area, offering a glimpse into the history of the ciy between the bays, our agricultural heritage from orchards to vines, and the development of a vibrant downtown community. There are feature sidebars on wine tasting, The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, where to stay and information about the Traverse Traveler app. The article is sprinkled with dozens of specific recommendations for businesses in the area that visitors will enjoy.

 

"It was a fun challenge to write a feature-length article on the region I love so much," said Brandy Wheeler. Brandy’s photographs accompany the narritive, as well as images from the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mark Lindsey, Kathy Partin and local businesses and organizations represented in the story. "I hope the article will encourage Great Lakes boaters and their families to plan a trip to Traverse."

 

Lakeland Boating Magazine August coverThe August issue of Lakeland Boating is available on newsstands now. In Traverse City, look for a copy at Horizon Books. Visit the Lakeland Boating website to read full archived issues in PDF format online. The July issue includes a feature article on Manistee and information about the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The August issue will be available online on August 1st.

 

 

 

 

Brandy Wheeler profile pictureBrandy Wheeler is the owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas®, a 10-year old marketing service for Traverse City area visitors. She launched the Traverse Traveler app, a free handy mobile guide featuring information on restaurants, wineries, lodging, attractions, events and more. She lives in Lake Ann, Michigan with her husband and two children. Brandy’s writing has been featured in Grand Traverse Woman Magazine, as a guest blogger on Pure Michigan, and most recently as a contributing author to Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve. Email Brandy at info@mealtickets.com or follow her on Twitter @TraverseTravelr

Remembering Rufenach: Center I.C.E. to Honor Fallen Prospect

Bryan Rufenach’s tragic death hit the hockey world hard. When news surfaced about his accidental death while traveling Europe, his teammates, friends and fans throughout the Red Wings organization offered help and support to his grieving family. The 23 year-old was selected by Detroit in 2007 and signed a contract last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Rufenach spent most of the season with Toledo of the ECHL where he notched 13 goals and 33 points in 54 games.

Prior to turning pro, the offensive defenseman spent four seasons with Clarkson University where he piled up 21 goals and 55 points over four seasons. Rufenach also attended the 2011 Detroit development camp in Traverse City, MI and also participated in the 2011 NHL prospects tournament and Red Wings training camp.

To honor the Lindsay, Ontario native’s memory, organizers of the development camp in conjunction with the Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Toledo Walleye have designated July 10th as Bryan Rufenach day. The day’s events will kick off at 4 pm with food, beverages, and entertainment outside Centre I.C.E. Arena. The puck will drop on an intrasquad scrimmage at 7 pm at Centre I.C.E. A brief ceremony to honor Bryan’s memory will be held prior to the start of the scrimmage.

Tickets for the July 10th match-up will be available at the door for $5. A portion of all proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise and concessions will benefit the memorial fund set up to help fund the operation of the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Skills Camp. Additionally donation cans will be available throughout the arena for fans who would like to make direct contributions to the fund. For the complete schedule of development camp go to www.centreice.org, DRW Events in TC on Facebook and follow us on twitter @redwingscamps #drwdc
 

By |2012-07-10T13:39:23-04:00July 10th, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Sara Hardy Farm Market Continues During Cherry Festival

Sara Hardy Farmers Market imageSara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market Moves to Old Town Parking Deck July 7 & 14
 
The Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market is to take place at the Old Town Parking Deck on July 7 and 14. The market will be held on the ground floor from 8 am to Noon. Customers may enter convenient parking on the upper floors of Old Town Deck off of Eighth Street. The July 11 market has been canceled.  The DDA would also like to remind the public that the market will be held on the 4th of July. 
 
The DDA has been working with the USDA and the State of Michigan on programs to enhance opportunities for fresh food to be easily accessible and affordable for all. Bridge Cards are now accepted at the market through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Project Fresh, Senior Project Fresh and Double Up Food Bucks are also accepted at the market.
 
Following the National Cherry Festival, the market will continue on Wednesdays through September from 8 am to Noon and Saturdays through October from 7:30 am to Noon. The market takes place in Lot B, across from Clinch Park on the Grandview Parkway.
 
Over 100 vendors and tens of thousands of patrons each year make the market the largest in Northwest Michigan and the best place to find locally grown produce. Products available at the market include artisan bread, flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables, honey and eggs. The market also offers varieties of organic products.

For more information visit downtowntc.org

By |2012-06-29T08:39:07-04:00June 29th, 2012|Traverse City|0 Comments

Pirate's Cove Raises Money for Wounded Soldiers

“Putting for Patriots” Event at Pirates Cove Adventure Park in Traverse City

 

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, in Traverse City, Michigan will host the 6th Annual “Putting for Patriots” fundraiser from Saturday, May 26 through Monday, May 28.  This national event will occur simultaneously at 33 Pirate’s Cove, Pirate’s Island and Jungle Golf miniature golf courses throughout the United States. 

 

This May event will culminate on Memorial Day weekend and support three charities, which serve our wounded, their families and survivors of the fallen.  These organizations include: “Hope For The Warriors”, “Homes for Our Troops” and “TAPS—Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.”  Pirate’s Cove, Jungle Golf and Pirate’s Island will donate a percentage of their total sales on Saturday May 26th & Sunday, May 27th.  In addition, from May 11 through May 28, each golf course will accept donations to be turned over to the three charities.  Since its inception, this event has raised over $93,000.

“Memorial Day was specifically founded to remember those who died serving our nation,”
notes Brad Graft, Pirate’s Cove Partner and Regional Director.  “The Pirate’s Cove / Pirate’s Island family thought it appropriate to establish an annual event to serve charities that assist our living veterans and the survivors of fallen military members. These are men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

Pirate’s Cove and Pirate’s Island operate 36 miniature golf courses throughout the United States.  For more information, visit their Web sites at www.piratescove.com, www.piratesislandgolf.com, and www.junglegolfminigolf.com. Additional information on the above charities can be found by accessing their Web sites:  www.hopeforthewarriors.org, www.homesforourtroops.org and www.taps.org.

By |2012-05-25T11:08:37-04:00May 25th, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Downtown TC Farmers Market Opens Saturday

Celebrate Spring with a Trip to the Farmers Market

 

The 2012 Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market season begins on Saturday, May 12. The market will run on Saturdays through October 27. The Wednesday market will begin on June 6 and run through September, with a short break during the National Cherry Festival. The Saturday market will now start at 7:30am to Noon, and Wednesdays starting at 8am. The Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market is located in the parking Lot B, across from Clinch Park on the Grandview Parkway in Downtown Traverse City.

 

The Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market continues to emphasize home grown products from the local area. Over 100 vendors and tens of thousands of patrons each year make the market the largest in Northwest Michigan and the best place to find locally-grown produce. Products available at the market include artisan bread, flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables, honey and eggs including some organic products.

 

For more information on events in Downtown Traverse City visit their website at DowntownTC.com or call 231.922.2050. For a map of the Downtown area visit our Attractions page.
 

By |2012-05-11T07:09:46-04:00May 11th, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Why I Celebrate Autism Awareness Month

April 2nd is World Autism Awarenss Day. It’s a day to recognize, celebrate and show your support for the Autism community. I’ve been celebrating for the last 5 years by sharing information about autism on my personal blog, through social media, and by donating to Autism Speaks. This year I decided it was time to do something bigger. I have a mission to support the autism community in Traverse City, Michigan by putting iPads in the hands of every TCAPS student with Autism.

Today, I hope to Light it up Blue by sharing my story, and my goals.

— Brandy Wheeler

This article was first published by the wonderful ladies at Grand Traverse Woman. You can pick up their March/April 2012 print edition on newstands now.

 

Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism

Autism is a puzzle. We can’t figure out what causes it. There is no "cure" because it’s not a disease. And it’s affecting an alarming number of children and adults. New studies report 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. So what can we do about it?
 
I ask myself that question everyday. I am a mom. My 9-year-old son has Autism. That diagnosis filled me with heart-breaking fears of what his life, and ours, was going to be like now that the A-bomb had been dropped upon us.
 
He was three when we had him evaluated by the school district and the results were clear. Autism. He didn’t make a lot of eye contact, was nowhere near ready to potty train, and had never once said, "I love you, mom." But he was smart. So smart. He memorized jingles on TV and would sing them as we drove past the business. From the backseat I’d hear, "Ba-da, ba-ba-ba, I’m lovin’ it!" as we cruised by McDonalds, followed by, "Higher standards, lower prices," when Meijer came into view. He taught himself to read at the age of three, but still doesn’t know how to tie his shoes. In kindergarten he made a map of the United States out of Play-Doh from memory and could answer Presidential trivia faster than a Jeopardy champion. But if I buy the wrong kind of macaroni and cheese, he won’t eat it. The slightest changes in classroom routine could bring him to tears. Simply understanding that when a friend says, "hello" in the hallway you should look up and say hello in response, doesn’t even occur to him.
 
So how do we, as parents, and community members, reach out and try to connect with these children that are silently struggling to navigate in this world that is so foreign to them? We play to their strengths, and accept their weaknesses.
 
One of my goals, from the time my son was diagnosed, has been to increase autism awareness. It’s challenging, because Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means there are extreme variations in behaviors and capabilities of children with this diagnosis. Some are unable to communicate verbally, some have sensitivities to light and sound and touch. Some children have learning disabilities and may be prone to violence, while others appear typical and perform off-the-charts on achievement. But there are similarities as well. The characteristic that draws my attention is their fascination with technology.
 
Autistic Student with iPadChildren with Autism are drawn to technology like flies to a picnic. Television, video games, computers, smartphones and now the iPad offer endless fascination and attraction. While we’ve all heard the warnings about the dangers of too much screen time, I don’t think we’ve given enough credit to the benefits for children with certain disabilities. Here technology can be a conduit through which we can communicate like never before. And it’s working.
 
Autism app on iPadSchools across the Country are beginning to use iPads as a tool for communication and learning for their students with Autism. Each iPad is assigned to a specific student, and loaded with apps that cater to their individual needs. There are communication apps like Proloque2go which help non-verbal students form sentences on the screen with a drag-and-drop motion then turn text-to-speech. There are visual schedules which allow teachers to replace bulky velcro picture boards that took up the full backside of a classroom door and give the independence and privacy back to the students. There are apps for building social skills by practicing conversations, offer iRewards, help students make decisions, and even handle frustration. My new favorite, Sosh, lets you type negative thoughts on the screen then throw them in the shredder and watch as they’re chopped to bits. Technology isn’t just cool for these kids, it’s life-changing. But it does come with a price tag.
 
In 2011 Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) decided to create a pilot program to test the use of iPads for students with Autism. They purchased 9 iPads, loaded with autism apps and distributed them throughout the district to those with the greatest needs. The trouble is, there are approximately 120 students in TCAPS with Autism. So how do we meet that need when budgets are shrinking and the want list is a mile long? That’s the call I hope to answer.
 
I launched a new development of my own last year, the Traverse Traveler iPhone app. It’s a handy mobile guide to the Traverse Area featuring restaurants, wineries, lodging, shopping, events and more. As with most new technology it takes some time and some tinkering to realize all that it can do. When I heard about the TCAPS iPads for Autism program I realized we had an opportunity to create a unique fundraising event: social media for social good. It’s technology supporting technology, for a cause that’s close to my heart.

Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism
 
The Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism will take place from 1pm -3pm on Saturday April 14, 2012 in downtown Traverse City, Michigan. In this one-day event participants will use the Traverse Traveler smartphone app (FREE to download) to conduct a scavenger hunt throughout downtown Traverse City. Teams of up to 5 people will navigate from place to place, use the app to check-in at each location, complete tasks and collect raffle tickets along the way. Instructions for each activity and clues to the next location are supplied by the app.
 
Lucky Jack's logoI wanted to create a unique fundraising event that’s fun for families and raises money based on participation. Our presenting sponsor, Lucky Jack’s bought into our fundraising concept to Pay-Per-Check-in, whereby increasing the monies raised with every person, and every stop. All proceeds from the event will be donated to TCAPS to purchase iPads and apps for students with Autism.
 
Here’s how you can help:

Register your team for only $20 and participate in the event

Donate a used iPad2 to TCAPS. Drop off your used iPads at CityMac and TCAPS will mail you a receipt for your tax deductible donation.

Make a cash Donation to the iPads for Autism program. $500 will purchase an iPad. $150 will purchase a suite of apps. Every dollar helps!

By |2012-04-01T21:21:19-04:00April 1st, 2012|Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

7 Ways to Enjoy a Spring Break Staycation in Traverse City

Spring Break Staycation in Traverse City

No travel plans for Spring Break this year? Chin up. Northern Michigan has plenty of family fun to keep everyone entertained on Spring Break. In fact, we’ve compiled 7 ways for 7 days of fun in Traverse City.

 

Elberta park image1. Take it Outside

In a typical winter I’d suggest a day of spring skiing. But this is no typical winter. With summer-like temps there’s no reason the kids can’t get outside and burn off some steam. The TART trails cover miles of terrain perfect for walking, biking, and inline skating. If you want a short trip stop at the Civic Center. Their paved track is great for runners and the children will be begging to play on the enormous structures at Kids Kove. If your backseat is full of little ones try taking them park hopping. Traverse City is has dozens of parks with play structures. Ask the kids to pick their favorite features of each one and draw an ideal playscape when they get home.

 

Dennos Museum image2. Explore an Exhibit

When is the last time you took a trip to a local musuem? This is the last week to enjoy the Regional Artists exhibit at the Dennos Museum Center. Museums are a great place to introduce your children to other cultures, so don’t be afraid to take them along. But if they really need to burn off some steam, The Great Lakes Children’s Museum is a perfect option. Or check out the Lego display at The History Center (formerly Grand Traverse Heritage Center) in Traverse City.

 

Cherry Stop image3. Take a Foodie Tour

Wander the streets of Downtown Traverse City and create your own Tasting Tour. Plan your route to include shops that offer flavorful but healthy treats. You’ll find great snacks and all things cherry at The Cherry Stop. Pop into Popkies and try ketchup flavored popcorn, or peanut butter and jelly! One of my favorite stops is Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars where you an create your own flavor combinations from their huge selection of balsamic vinegars and flavor infused olive oils. Challenge the kids to create an unusual combination. Their involvement in making decisions for your dinner table may intice them to try new foods. Our area is rich with locally made products. Find a new favorite and spread the word.

 

Lucky Jacks image4. Play Away a Rainy Day

On every vacation a little rain must fall. But don’t let that discourage you from having a fun with the family. One of the best places I know to keep kids happy is Lucky Jacks. They have bowling, lasertag, arcade games, and Northern Michigan’s only spy-like laser maze. I’ve been to several birthday parties at Lucky Jacks and can attest to the fact that their pizza is fabulous. And while the kids are busy challenging their friends at air hockey, mom and dad can relax in the billiards lounge.

 

Brengman Brothers image5. Wine Not Try Something New

Spring break isn’t just for the kids. Parents and teachers should get a chance to enjoy this time too. You don’t need to travel to California or Italy for a fabulous vacation in wine country. Our own backyard is bursting with wineries producing award winning products. Relatively new on the scene is Brengman Brothers on the Leelanau peninsula, but just a few miles north of Traverse City. This time of year is a great time to catch the winemaker’s on site. They’re in between the harvest season, and the growing season, so they’re often available to chat or provide a tour. Might I recommend using our Traverse Traveler app to take a wine tour with your iphone as the guide. It’s free!

 

TC State Theatre image6. Entertain Me

Goin’ to the movies is a classic staycation activity. And no one does movies in Traverse City better than The State Theatre. In fact, they’re geared up for Spring Break with a Free Movie Marathon everyday. Check out the full schedule here. If live entertainment is more your style, the Old Town Playhouse has weekend showings of Dr. Doolittle. Or head on over to the Dennos Museum where they’ll light up the stage with a fun performance from Honky Tonk Angels.

 

 Power Hour image7. Start a Spring Project

We’ve got a week home with the kids, why not start early on some of those spring projects. Here’s a few starters from my to-do list:

  • Clear out the clutter in the basement and donate items to Goodwill or the Women’s Resource Center. Or, consider donating to one of TC newest endeavors: TC Scraps. They’re a non-profit determined to repurpose, reuse and upcycle what would have ended up in landfills but could now be turned into art. Check out their brand new location in the Garfield Plaza (near Agave Mexican Grill).
  • Take my advice and discover your Power Hour. Use one hour every day to accomplish tasks that are otherwise left undone. Clean out the junk drawer, back-up your hard-drive, vaccuum the curtains. You’d be amazing what you can accomplish with a week of power hours.
  • Put away the last of the winter decorations (yes, I’m talking about the Christmas lights that still hang on your porch or the snowman next to the front door) and haul out the spring branches and Easter decorations.
  • Start sowing seeds for a summer herb garden. Get inspiration and shop early with a trip to Garden Goods or Northwoods Hardware in Glen Arbor. You’ll love their personalize service.

 

Well there you have it. My 7 Ways for 7 Days. Now get out there and enjoy the beauty in our own backyard on your spring break staycation. And if you’ve got some great staycation ideas to share, let us know.

 

Post your suggestions on our Facebook page. Or send us a tweet at @TraverseTravelr.

 

By |2012-03-22T10:02:21-04:00March 22nd, 2012|Traverse City|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism Announced

Traverse Traveler to Host Scavenger Hunt to Benefit TCAPS Students with Autism

Scavenger Hunt for Autism Logo

The first annual Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism will take place in Traverse City, Michigan on Saturday, April 14, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. In this one-day event participants will use the Traverse Traveler smartphone app to conduct a scavenger hunt throughout downtown Traverse City. Utilizing an innovative approach to fundraising, the event will raise money to purchase iPads for Traverse City Area Public Schools students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

Traverse Traveler appHere’s How The Scavenger Hunt Works:

 

  • Participants register as teams for one of two event tracks: the Family Track featuring kid-friendly activities and less walking, and the Challenge Track geared toward adults and teens. All courses are family-friendly, walkable and fun.
     
  • Teams of up to 5 people will navigate from business to business, use the Traverse Traveler smartphone app (available for FREE in the iPhone App Store) to ‘check in’ at each location, complete tasks and collect prize tickets along the way.
     
  • Instructions for each activity and clues to the next location are supplied by the app.
     
  • At the end of the scavenger hunt, all teams will cross the finish line at the City Opera House to celebrate their accomplishments, enjoy refreshments and win prizes.
     
  • Corporate and individual donors commit to ‘Pledge Per Check-in,’ whereby increasing the fundraising efforts with every person, and every stop.

 

Brandy Wheeler, creator of the Traverse Traveler app, a handy mobile guide to the Traverse City region, designed this unique event to increase community awareness about Autism, a disorder that affects 1 in 110 children — including her 9-year-old son.

There are approximately 120 students in TCAPS with Autism. It’s a neurological disorder that can impair an individual’s ability to communicate and develop social skills. The severity of the disorder and the symptoms vary dramatically. Some children are unable to develop speech, some experience sensory issues, and others, diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, are highly intelligent but lack basic social skills most people take for granted.
 
In early 2011 Wheeler discovered a pilot program launched by TCAPS to place iPads with 9 students within the district who receive special education services for autism. Each device was loaded with a set of apps chosen to meet the specific needs of that child. Autism apps range from touch-screen visual schedules, to social skills practice, to full-scale communication aids.
 
iPads for Autism - Digi-MotoJame McCall, Executive Director of Special Education & Early Childhood Programs for TCAPS explains, "Our goal with using the iPads— or any other assistive technology— is to remove the barriers to education. To be able to put a device in the hands of a child that’s socially acceptable, and is something they are able to use and maneuver easily, that aids in communication, will help them in their learning."
 
Traverse Traveler approached TCAPS last fall about designing a fundraiser to help grow the iPads for Autism program at TCAPS. "I was thrilled that Brandy contacted me and told me about her plans to do a scavenger hunt and her thoughts about raising money for TCAPS students to put more iPads in the hands of our children that needed them. TCAPS is proud to be a partner with the Traverse Traveler."
 
iPads for Autism Digi-MotoBrandy Wheeler reached out to business owners, community members, educators and parents to bring this event to life. "Children with autism are magnetically drawn to technology," she said, " With this event we can combine the power of mobile and social media to create positive social change. It’s technology for technology."
 
All proceeds from the event will be donated to purchase iPads and apps for TCAPS students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Aspergers Syndrome. In addition to monies raised by the event, Traverse Traveler will donate $10 for every new business listing on the app between now and April 30, 2012.
 

Here’s how you can help!

The Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism is currently seeking event sponsors and Downtown Traverse City businesses who would like to participate in this event. For more information and to register a team, visit the Traverse Traveler website at: http://TraverseTraveler.com/Autism. TCAPS is also accepting tax-deductible cash donations for the iPads for Autism program at http://www.tcaps.net/autism.

 

Become a fan of the event on Facebook, and follow @TraverseTravelr on Twitter to keep up with event news as it happens.

By |2012-02-15T09:02:53-04:00February 15th, 2012|Events, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Traverse City Restaurant Week 2/26 – 3/3

Second Annual Restaurant Week Highlights Traverse City Dining
 
The Downtown Traverse City Association will host the second Traverse City Restaurant Week in response to the many accolades regarding great restaurants and food offerings in the Grand Traverse Region. TCRW promises to be the most delicious week of the winter where patrons may perfect the art of wining and dining by discovering the talents of local chefs, with many offerings focused on the farm to table movement and local agriculture.
 
Restaurant Weeks are quickly popping up in communities all over the country and have proved to be a success. The Traverse City region is a natural fit for our finest restaurants to offer multi-course meals that have been especially prepared for this gourmet event. Traverse City’s finest restaurants will offer multi-course meals that have been especially prepared for this gourmet event with three courses for $25 per person.
 

“Traverse City Restaurant Week offers seven days of dining in one of Michigan’s great food regions. Exploring news eateries and dining at your favorite are truly the highlights of this culinary event,” says Colleen Paveglio, DDA/DTCA Marketing Director.

 

Enter to Win!

During Traverse City Restaurant Week, diners may enter to win a prize package that includes $50 gift cards to each participating restaurant.
Visit the downtowntc.com website for further information on participating restaurants and menus.  

Reservations are recommended as this event proved quite popular last year. Check out the Events category on our smartphone app, Traverse Traveler,  where we’ve listed each restaurant along with a phone number for one-touch dialing. Following is a peek at who will be participating:

Traverse Traveler app events7 Monks Taproom

Amical

Apache Trout Grill

The Bay Leaf

Blue Tractor Cook Shop

The Boathouse

Chez Peres/Patisserie Amie

CW’s Blue Water Bistro: Holiday Inn West Bay

Firefly Café & Lounge

Hanna Bistro

Harrington’s By the Bay

Mackinaw Brewing Co.

Minervas: Park Place Hotel

Modes Bum Steer

North Peak Brewing Co.

Phil’s on Front

Poppycocks

Red Ginger

Relfect: Cambria Suites

The Soul Hole

Trattoria Stella

Travino, Traverse Wine & Grille

Union Cantina

 

Traverse City Restaurant Week is hosted by the over 200 merchants, restaurants and businesses who are members of the Downtown Traverse City Association.  For more information or to volunteer, call the DTCA office at (231) 922-2050 or email colleen@downtowntc.com  

By |2012-02-03T14:30:48-04:00February 3rd, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Winners Announced in Downtown TC Chili Cook-off

Mt. Holiday White Chili Takes the People’s Choice Award in today’s Downtown Traverse City Chili Cook-off.

 
The snow finally arrived in Northern Michigan and the temperature was perfect for a day spent noshing on chili at the 18th annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off presented by Pepsi Cola, C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., WTCM and ABC 29&8, held today at the Park Place Dome in Downtown Traverse City.

Thirteen area restaurants entered 17 different chilies in the annual Chili Cook-Off.  The eateries competed in seven different categories as well as the overall favorite, the “People’s Choice” award.  Categories included:  1-Alarm, 2-Alarm, 3-Alarm, Seafood, Vegetarian, Ethnic, No Bean and White.

 

Over 1,800 people attended the cook-off with each casting a vote for their favorites in each category at this favorite culinary event.  The DTCA managed to raise approximately $13,000 in 2011 to help fund Downtown community events such as Friday Night Live. Revenue totals will be calculated this week.  Winners included:
1-Alarm – Red Mesa Grill
2-Alarm –  Lil Bo Pub & Grille
3-Alarm – The Omelette Shoppe
Seafood – Scalawags Whitefish & Chips
Vegetarian – Oryana: Lake St. Cafe
White – Mt. Holiday
No Bean – Chateau Chantal Winery and B&B
Ethnic – Red Mesa Grill
People’s Choice – Mt. Holiday, White

 

Competing restaurants included:

  • 7 Monks Taproom
  • Chateau Chantal Winery and B&B
  • Lil Bo Pub & Grille
  • Minervas: Park Place Hotel
  • Morsel (providing cornbread morsels)
  • Mt. Holiday
  • Omelette Shoppe
  • Oryana: Lake St. Cafe
  • The Red Mesa Grill
  • Reflect: Cambria Suites
  • Scalawags Whitefish & Chips
  • Union Cantina
  • Wingers Sports Bar: Holiday Inn West Bay
  • Zakey Middle Eastern Cuisine
  •  

 
All proceeds from the event help support such Downtown community activities as Friday Night Live, the Halloween walk, holiday activities and many other free downtown events throughout the year.

By |2012-01-14T15:48:39-04:00January 14th, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Mealtickets Top 10 Moments from 2011

As a local travel expert I spend most of my time promoting other Traverse Area businesses. With the close of 2011 I thought I’d recap what a busy year it’s been for my business. So I thought a year-end review in classic Top 10 fashion would be fun. Here goes:

Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas Top 10 Moments of 2011

 

Traverse Traveler iPhone app10. Traverse Traveler hits 1000 downloads. We kick-started the New Year by reaching a goal we hadn’t imagined. After launching the Traverse Traveler iPhone App at the end of 2010 the local community and area visitors showed overwhelming support. Our app downloads hit 1000 in the first 25 days.

 

9. Mealtickets Family Grows. I refer to our advertisers as the Mealtickets Family. This year our family grew to welcome the Cherryland Antique Mall, Dennos Museum Center, Elk Rapids Chamber, Becky Thatcher Designs, Great Lakes Children’s Museum and Mana to our little card gang. We’re proud to offer information on such great businesses in Traverse City and the surrounding area. It makes my job easy when I represent great clients! So thanks everyone.

 

8. All a Twitter. It’s hard to believe I have been on Twitter for less than a year. But it took me a while to make the commitment to another social media platform. And yet, I think it’s one of the best decisions I made all year. The people I’ve met on Twitter have been fantastic. It has broadened my knowledge base, and sparked networking opportunities I never imagined. If you have a small business I highly recommend joining Twitter. In fact, I wrote a blog post here about just that. If you’re in Northern Michigan might I suggest you follow the hashtags #nwmi #TCMI and #mittenlove to find some likeminded friends. And by all means, follow me @TraverseTravelr!

 

10 Places I've Never Been7. 10 Places I’ve Never Been. It all started with an article in Grand Traverse Woman Magazine. Looking to encourage locals to get out in their own backyard and open doors they’ve never opened, I wrote a list of 10 Places I’ve Never Been and set out to visit each one. My list took me across Benzie, Leelanau and Traverse City, into restaurants, wineries, jewelry, furniture and retails stores.

I met great people, and I spent my dollars with local businesses. It was a great experience. In fact, don’t be surprised if my explorations return in 2012. When I stop and think about it there are so many more than 10 places that I have yet to visit. I reported on my travels once a week throughout the summer, here on the Mealtickets blog. If you haven’t read them, I hope you will. You’ll discover some of the magic that makes Northern Michigan so unique.

 

Traverse City Lip Dub6. Rockin’ with the Traverse City Lip Dub. When I heard about plans to make a Traverse City Lip Dub I thought it would be fun to work behind-the-scenes to make it happen. But when I appeared at the first meeting I threw my hat in the ring and auditioned to be one of the "singers". Who knew I’d make the cut! So after one month of planning, rehearsing, and one beastly hot day in downtown Traverse City, our community came together to pull off a creative rendition of "You Can Call Me Al," and "Jump" lip-synced throughout town.

The performers were dedicated. The social media engine buzzed about the big debut at the Traverse City Film Festival. And thousands of people gathered at the Open Space to watch the premiere before an outdoor showing of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Finally the TC Lip Dub went on YouTube for all the masses. And then they pulled the plug. At the end of the day, it was still a highlight of my year, and I’m proud to say, "You Can Call Me Al."

 

5. Sleeping Bear Dunes Named America’s Most Beautiful Place. You couldn’t have missed this story unless you were out of State — perhaps out of the Country. That just goes to show how proud we Michiganders are of our beautiful location. This summer, a small community in the heart of Leelanau County created a nation-wide buzz about the Sleeping Bear Dunes by voting on Good Morning America’s contest.

Some were shocked that we beat out places like Hawaii and California, but not us locals. This win showcased not only the power of social media, but the strength we have when we, as a community, come together to show our support for this region. If you voted for this win, you helped make it happen. And this win has already brought thousands of New visitors to Northern Michigan. And that’s something I’m passionate about indeed.

 

Visual Marketing Book4. Visual Marketing Book Includes Traverse Traveler. My first publication! Traverse Traveler app was selected from a pool of over 500 applicants to be included in a new book by David Langdon and Anita Campbell. Visual Marketing: 99 Proven Ways for Small Businesses to Market with Images & Design debuted in September with a spread on the Traverse Traveler app.

I was thrilled to be selected for this book which recognized our success in taking a print-based business (Mealtickets) and expanding into a mobile version that works (Traverse Traveler). The book includes 99 great stories of marketing strategies that have been successful, along with a Takeaway Tip for each one so you can apply it to your own business.

 

3. A Mention on Forbes.com! This one was exciting enough to warrant some local news coverage, so I think it deserves its own listing in our Top 10. The author of the Visual Marketing book was interviewed on Forbes.com about the new release. In her interview, she sited three examples from the book, including Traverse Traveler. Read the article here. It’s a great overview of the Visual Marketing book, and it gave me a reason to smile when I discovered the interview on Twitter.

 

2. Traverse Traveler Hits 5000 Downloads. I had high hopes for how the Traverse City community and local visitors would respond to our app, but I couldn’t imagine 5000 downloads in less than a year. I’m thrilled to say we will finish 2011 with over 6100 downloads and counting. I have big goals for 2012 including the much awaited launch of an Android version of the app, a BIG fundraising event from Traverse Traveler, and hopefully lots of new businesses adding their listings to our categories. Is your business on the app? If not, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, Sign Up Here!

 

Mealtickets Celebrates 10 Years1. Mealtickets Celebrates 10 Years in Business. Saving the best for last, I’m proud to say I’ve been an momtrepreneur for 10 years! I started Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas on November 1, 2001 after losing my graphic design job in the wake of 9/11. It’s been a challenge to learn new skills — like sales — and a pleasure to work with this regions wonderful hospitality industry and small business owners. In 10 years Mealtickets has distributed millions of little cards to help area visitors discover unique, off-the-beaten-path restaurants, attractions and wineries. And for that I couldn’t be more proud. It is my Top moment in 2011.

 

If you made it through that list of horn tooting, I thank you! It’s amazing to me that all fit in one calendar year. But if you’re wondering what I could possibly have left to do in 2012, have no fear. I’m a busy body, who is always looking for the next challenge. And I’ve got some great ideas for 2012. So I hope you’ll stay with us.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your 2012 is a great success. And if there’s any way Mealtickets or Traverse Traveler can help make that happen, please let me know.

By |2011-12-30T12:11:29-04:00December 30th, 2011|Benzie, Leelanau, Mealtickets News, Traverse City|0 Comments

Downtown Traverse City Holiday Events

Downtown Traverse City Christmas imageCelebrate the Spirit of the Season in Downtown Traverse City

There’s nothing like strolling the streets of Downtown, popping in and out of shops while snowflakes drift to the ground. With Thanksgiving behind us you know that Christmas shopping is next. Downtown Traverse City wants to make sure you enjoy the holidays, so they’re getting ready to kick-off the season with the Arrival of Santa on December 2nd, followed by special shopping nights for the Ladies and the ever popular Men’s Night.

A recent study conducted by Think Local First of Grand Rapids showed that $73 out of $100 spent locally stayed in the community, compared to $43 out of $100 spent in a business that was not locally owned.

Here’s all the details you’ll need to throughly enjoy a local shopping experience in Downtown Traverse City.

 

Santa’s Arrival, Tree Lighting & Holiday Open House
Friday, December 2nd
Downtown’s seasonal magic lights up on the first Friday in December with the excitement of Santa’s Arrival.  Spend the evening with Santa and shopping throughout the unique shops in Downtown Traverse City. At 5 pm, shoppers will be serenaded with holiday music and can gather at the community trees at the corner of Cass and E. Front St. Attendees can join in a community sing-a-long of their favorite holiday carols accompanied by the Interlochen Arts Academy Chamber Choir.  The excitement continues with Santa’s arrival in bright red antique fire engine!  Santa will join the carols, receive the Key to the City from the Traverse City Mayor, Chris Bzdok and then light the tree at 6 pm, before spending the rest of the evening (6-8 p.m.) visiting with little ones at his holiday house at Cass and E. Front Street.  While Santa is in his house, Horse & Carriage Rides from Abraham Carriage Service will be available at an affordable price until 8 pm.
 
Bringing a little bit of the islands to the blustery winter in Downtown Traverse City, the Steel Drum Band "Uprizin" will be performing at the corner of Cass and E. Front from 6:15 – 9 pm. You won’t want to miss the amazing sounds that this troupe will bring to the north.

Ice on Display! Eight ice sculptures created by former World Champion and Traverse City resident Steven Berkshire will be on display throughout Front St. Park Place Hotel Chef, Marc Pritchard, will perform a live ice carving demonstration at the Jay Smith Walkway from 6 to 8 pm.

Live Reindeer will be located for little ones to enjoy in front of Red Ginger, while next door, the State Theatre will be offering FREE Holiday cartoons at 6:45 pm.
 
Share the spirit of the season with family and friends while merchants throughout the Downtown district host open houses and in-store specials.  Participating stores will have extended evening hours and offer store specials, free gift wrapping, food, refreshments and more!

 
Ladies’ Night
Thursday, December 8th
Downtown Traverse City will be hosting Ladies Night, Thursday, December 8th from 5 to 9 pm.   Visit participating stores for specials, refreshments, prize drawings, free gift wrapping and more! Caroling throughout the evening with the Sweet Adelines.

 
Men’s Night Downtown
Thursday, December 15th
Gentlemen, the evening is yours, finally!  Celebrate and shop with friends during Men’s Night Downtown on Thursday, December 15th.  The gents can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and specials at many restaurants and merchants will be offering in-store specials, gift wrapping and drawings. Caroling throughout the evening with the Sweet Adelines.
 

Downtown Holiday Lights
Downtown Traverse City shines during the holiday season due to Traverse City Light & Power.  A special thank you goes out to Traverse City Light & Power for making possible the purchase of over 133,000 new LED lights in 2008. Traverse City Light & Power begins installation of the lights in early November. The process of installing lights on over 300 trees in Downtown Traverse City takes about three weeks.

 
Shop Downtown and Win!
Spend $200 in Downtown Traverse City between December 1-10, 2011 and enter to win a $250 Downtown Shopping Spree. It’s easy to enter. Visit the Downtown Office no later than December 12, 2011, show your receipts totaling $200 in purchases between December 1-10, 2010 and enter to win. The drawing will take place on Tuesday, December 13, 2011.  And don’t forget to keep your dollars local this holiday shopping season, Downtown Gift Certificates Make the Perfect Gift!
 

 
Santa’s Hours
Santa will be visiting with little ones in his house at the corner of Cass and E. Front throughout the holiday season.
 
Friday: 12/2  6 – 8 pm
Fridays: 12/9, 12/16  5 – 8 pm
Saturdays: 12/3, 12/10, 12/17   11 am – 4 pm
Sundays: 12/4, 12/11, 12/18   1 – 4 pm
Extended hours:
            12/21 & 12/22: 3 – 7 pm
            12/23 & 12/24: Noon – 3 pm
          
 
Parking  – Free and Easy!
The price is right for downtown parking this holiday season. Parking is free at the Larry C. Hardy and Old Town Parking Decks after 5 pm, Monday through Friday and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Downtown Holidays are hosted by the over 200 merchants, restaurants and businesses who are members of the Downtown Traverse City Association.  Please contact the Downtown Traverse City Association at 922-2050 or e-mail colleen@downtowntc.com for further information.
                      
www.downtowntc.com

By |2011-11-29T10:01:00-04:00November 29th, 2011|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Shop Local Michigan Holiday Gift Guide

Every year I scour the region for new ideas for the holiday gift giving season. This year’s theme is: Shop Local. We’re lucky to be surrounded by local retailers who work hard to fill their stores, galleries and pantries with unique finds from Michigan and across the nation. Let’s keep our neighbors in business and see what they have to offer before we fill our online carts and pull out the VISA.

 

Now I’ll hop off my soapbox and share this year’s categories:

Smitten with the Mitten

From Barrel to Glass

Handmade & Heartfelt

Foodie Finds

Host with the Most

Fun & Festive

 

Holiday Gift Guide 11 Mitten image

Smitten with the Mitten

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this year seems to be the year of the Mitten. Michigan themed companies, gifts and accessories are everywhere! And for us proud Michiganders that’s a great thing. Here are a few suggestions for the Michigan loyalist in your family.

Michigan Mittens | Benjamin Twiggs

Everyone in Michigan knows we show our hometown by holding up our trusty hand map. When the weather turns cold you can hold your hand high and as their slogan says, "Always wear a map on your hands." Available locally at Benjamin Twiggs. Michigan mittens are made in Clarkston, Michigan.

Michigan Ice Cube Trays | High Five Threads

I discovered these on Facebook, and was glad to see a local company carrying them. What a simple and clever way to share your love of the state. Two trays per package. And the yoopers in your family will be glad to see the design includes the upper and lower peninsula. Jell-O shots anyone? Available at High Five Threads in the Village mercato.

baabaazuzu Mittens

When a Michigan-based company makes mittens from recycled wool we can’t help but be smitten. Baabaazuzu, a Lake Leelanau company designs and creates unique wearables and ships them all around the world. Lucky for us they are available locally as well. Find their mittens in Traverse City at Cali’s and Golden Shoes and in Suttons Bay at The Painted Bird. You can also order online at baabaazuzu.com.

Michigan Soap | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Handmade by The Sudsy Mitten Soap Co. in scents like Maple Syrup, Lake Effect and Michigan Honey, these little gems are the perfect stocking stuffer for the mitten lover in your house. Available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen.

Keep it Fresh Tee | High Five Threads

It wouldn’t be a Michigan themed gift list without one of the creative designs from High Five Threads in the Village in Traverse City. They pride themselves on Made in MI merchandise, designing several of their own T-shirt lines including the Keep it Fresh Tee. A portion of the proceeds go toward protecting the great lakes.

 

 Holiday Gift Guide 11 Spirits

From Barrel to Glass

Spirit of Pear | Black Star Farms

Looking for an impressive gift for the wine lover in your family? How about the Spirit of Pear from Black Star Farms featuring a real pear in the bottle. Everyone will ask, how’d they do that! You can tell them while wine starts in the vineyard, the bottle starts in the orchard. Available at all three Black Star Farms tasting room locations.

Redneck Wine Glass | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Not every wine drinker boasts the sophistication of an oenophile. If your friend’s taste runs toward the box rather than the bottle — or if they just appreciate a clever gift — how about the redneck wine glass. It’s hard to get snooty when you’re drinking from a Ball jar. Especially when it’s sporting a hot pink boa. Available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen.

Corn Whiskey | Grand Traverse Distillery

The latest creation from our favorite local distiller, Grand Traverse Distillery, is their corn whiskey. Made from Northern Michigan corn, locally grown, and distilled into a fine spirit in Traverse City, this clear whiskey is unlike anything you’ve tasted. And it’s only available from the Distillery, so stop by and pick up a bottle.

Leelanau Brillante | Bel Lago Vineyard & Winery

Every holiday wine list needs a bubbly. So here’s my pick for the year, Leelanau Brillante from Bel Lago. Bursting with flavors of tropical fruit and peach, and made from Cayuga, Seyval and Vignoles — one of my favorite varietals— this is a great wine to give, or to save. Drink it while trimming the tree, wrapping presents, making cookies…

 

 Holiday Gift Guide 11 Handmade

Handmade & Heartfelt

Letter Necklaces | Gallery Fifty

Gallery Fifty customers love these sterling silver pendants and charms. Available in upper or lower-case letters and sold with or without the ball-chain necklace, these simple stamped pieces make great gifts. Perfect for teens, a neighbor, and your BFF. Created by Pellston artist Hanni Yothers and available at Gallery Fifty in the Village mercato.

Unity Collection | Korner Gem

I just love these. Shaped from Michigan beach stones like Leland Blue, Petoskey, granite and chain corral, these necklaces are one of a kind. The beads are sold separately or in pairs, and available in large and small sizes, they can be combined to create beautiful necklaces. Very affordable on their own, or add gemstones and accessory pieces for a truly magnificent gift. Designed and crafted on site at Korner Gem in Traverse City.

Glass Fortune Cookies | Gallery Fifty

Hand-blown boroscilicate glass (known for it’s durability, like Pyrex) each fortune cookie reveals a special message for your friend or loved one. Sold in a tiny take-out container they’re an adorable way to share the love this holiday season. Buy them for girlfriends, teachers, or anyone who needs some good fortune. Designed by Nancy Nagel of Colorado, and sold locally at Gallery Fifty.

Stone Cairn Earrings | Becky Thatcher Designs

This summer I noticed an increasing number of balanced stone sculptures on the beaches of Northern Michigan. These stone "cairns" inspired the work of Becky Thatcher who creates earrings from Lake Michigan beach stones gathered near her gallery in Glen Arbor. What a nice idea for the beach comber in your circle of friends. Available from Becky Thacher Designs in Traverse City, Glen Arbor, Leland and Harbor Springs.

Pretty Stinkin’ Cute Skirts | Pretty Stinkin’ Green

Without exaggeration, I cannot wear one of my Pretty Stinkin’ Green skirts without being stopped on the street by strangers admiring it and asking where it came from. So I would be remiss not to include my friends Deb & Hannah who design these amazing skirts. They are available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures and on Etsy, or you can visit their Facebook page to see how to get a custom made skirt from our own T-shirts.

 

Holiday Gift Guide 11 Foodie

Foodie Finds

Flavor Trio Oil & Vinegar with Cookbook | Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars

This year I’m excited to share new products from Fustinis: flavor trio bottle and their brand new cookbook. Available in three flavor combos (bread & vegetable, salad dressing, desserts) this stacked bottle design is a great way to present these unique products. And the cookbook will make sure your gift comes with plenty of instructions for use. Available at Fustini’s in Traverse City, Petoskey, Ann Arbor or Holland and online.

Coco Mojo | Sweet Asylum

If you like to pack gift baskets with Michigan treats you’ll want to make a stop at Sweet Asylum in the Village Mercato and pick up some Coco Mojos. These crunchy almonds are coated with a unique blend of cacao (not cocoa), spices and a little sugar for sweetness. The cacao is organic so you know you are enjoying a healthy snack. Sold with or without dried cherries.

Specialty Salts | Suttons Bay Trading Co.

If you have a chef on your shopping list you know it can be challenging to come up with a kitchen accessory they don’t already have. So why not add something unusual to their arsenal of flavors. Suttons Bay Trading Co., a new spice shop in Suttons Bay, has many options. But I found myself drawn to the colorful salts from around the world. Himalayan Pink, Black Hawaiian, Red Hawaiian and Smoked Course Sea Salt were just a few of the options available in store and online.

Slabtown Coffee Caramel Corn

Beware, this stuff is addictive. I ran into the owner, a friend from years back, in Oleson’s grocery store this summer and was introduced to her new product. Who knew that coffee and caramel corn would be such a perfect combination. And it’s made right here in Traverse City, which I love. You can find it in local grocery stores like Oleson’s or specialty shops like Suttons Bay Trading Co.

 

 Holiday Gift Guide 11 Hostess

Host with the Most

Jeri Mateus Mitten Plate | At Home

I love the creative painted designs of local ceramic artist Jeri Mateus of Lime Lake. This little mitten dish is only about 4" square, but imagine it piled with a stack of homemade cookies and wrapped in celephane. Just a little something for your boss, a teacher or the holiday party host. Available at the little store with the lime green awning: At Home in Suttons Bay.

Magnetic Note Holder | Gallery Fifty

No more searching through drawers for a pen and notebook. This simple gift idea puts a standard 3×5" notebook right where you need it: on the fridge, in a locker, file cabinet or other metallic surface. Embellished with colorful glass beads and created by artist Cherie Haney of Ann Arbor, these magnetic holders include a notebook and are also sold as a set including a magnetic pen holder. Available at Gallery Fifty in the Village mercato.

Handmade Mug | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Whether they prefer coffee or tea your gift recipient is sure to love a handmade ceramic mug from artist Anne Marie. Designed especially for Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen these mugs are handpainted and stamped with the word Michigan or Interlochen. Package that with some coffee from Bud’s or a gift card and you’re good to go.

Glass Business Card Holder | Gallery Fifty

Need a gift that’s professional? Maybe something for your boss or a colleague? How about a handblown glass business card holder from Gallery Fifty. They have a large stock of colors to suit any style. And they’re affordable too. Classy, elegant and functional. What more do you need?

 

Holiday Gift Guide 11 Festive

Festive, Fun & Fantastic

Santa Gourd | Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures

Designed by artist Deb Mazur these santa sculptures are painted, antiqued and embellished. Made from dried gourds and hand-painted clay. Each design is original and unique. Available at Michigan’s Gifts & Treasures in Interlochen.

Winter Sports Ornaments | Woodland Creek Furniture

On my adventures this summer I discovered Woodland Creek Furniture is a treasure trove of holiday ornaments for the up-north outdoor enthusiast. They have hunting, fishing, hiking, snow sports, bears and a bevy of woodland creatures all waiting to hang on your tree. Stop by their showroom on US 31 North in Traverse City.

Mulling Spices | Suttons Bay Trading Co.

There’s no better smell at Christmas than cinnamon and cloves simmering away blending a cherry wine into a warm holiday treat. I discovered Suttons Bay Trading Co. makes their mulling spices available in single servings or a 3 oz. package. It’s great with Michigan wine, or apple cider for the non-alcoholic version. Yum!

Keith Smith Handpainted Ornaments | Country Christmas

I couldn’t possibly have a holiday gift guide without mentioning Country Christmas now that I know what their store is like after my visit this summer. There are too many things to mention, so I picked one that really caught my eye — the hand-painted wood ornaments from Traverse City artist Keith Smith. There are many designs available, but when they’re handpainted you know they’re all unique. Just promise me you’ll stop by Country Christmas on M-72 for a visit this season.

Leland & Fishtown Ornaments | Two Fish Gallery

If you have friends and family who summer in this area I’m sure they’d love a momento from one of everyone’s favorite local destinations: Fishtown in Leland. The Two Fish Gallery sells many different ornaments by artist Nancy Deyoung representing Leland, Fishtown and Leelanau County. Stop by and tell Jennifer I said Hi.

 

 

That’s a wrap for my holiday gift guide this season. But let me leave you with one final wish.

Shop at Small Businesses,

Shop Local,

and if you can’t make it into a Northern Michigan storefront, Shop Local Online!

By |2011-11-22T11:59:50-04:00November 22nd, 2011|Benzie, Hometown Highlights, Leelanau, Traverse City|0 Comments

From Unemployed to Entrepreneur — Mealtickets Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Mealtickets Celebrates 10 Years

10 Miles Down the Road Less Traveled

11-1-11 is the anniversary of the day I let go of the the 8-5, steady paycheck life and slapped on a new name tag:  Entrepreneur.
 

I had just lost my graphic design job, after 9/11 collapsed the travel industry, taking with it our ad agency’s biggest client. So there I stood in my Robert Frost moment, facing two roads diverged. I took the road less traveled by. It lead to the start of a little card company called Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas.
 

Now here we are, 10 years later. Still alive, still creating, and still working to promote the Traverse Area to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who travel to northern Michigan each year.
 

In honor of this milestone I decided to throw a party to thank my clients and friends in the hospitality industry, without whom my little business wouldn’t have grown.
 

On November 1, 2011 we’ll mark that moment in time when faced with two roads I took the one less traveled by…and that has made all the difference.

Mealtickets 10 Year Anniversary Celebration
Date:  11-1-11  from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Food & Wine Pairings | Giveaways | Door-prizes | Drink Specials

We’re hosting a Happy Hour reception for our clients and guests to celebrate, with fabulous door prizes, Traverse Traveler swag and a throw-back to old fashioned social networking: face to face!
 

Want to join us?
Rate our app on iTunes and you’ll be entered to win a special Traverse Traveler prize pack including a guest invitation to our party!

Here’s how to enter:
1. Rate the app on iTunes
2. Email Brandy at info@mealtickets.com with a copy of your review!

 

We will draw names from the emails we receive and announce the winners on Friday, October 29th!

 

This event is by invitation only, so rate the app Today!

By |2011-10-25T10:57:53-04:00October 25th, 2011|Check This Out, Mealtickets News, Traverse City|0 Comments

Shop Your Community Day | Downtown TC Gives Back 15%

Shop Your Community Day is November 12, 2011
 
Downtown Traverse City will continue to give back to the community on Saturday, November 12, 2011 during Shop Your Community Day.  For every purchase made at the following stores, 15% of the sale will be donated to the participating organization of the customer’s choice!  It’s that easy to support your favorite non-profit, and get a jump start on holiday shopping.  In 2011, with the support of our community, Downtown Traverse City gave back a record setting $23,000 during this one-day promotion. The goal is to exceed the $25,000 mark this year.
 

Downtown Traverse City has always put charitable donations high on the priority list. Donations including goods, services and sponsorship of events benefit the local community all year long. When making local purchases, the business keeps three times more dollars in our community, supports and strengthens local jobs and preserves and enhances our unique neighborhoods, parks and public services here in Traverse City. Shopping local keep’s our community alive and has a profound economic impact on the Traverse City.

“We are blessed with a healthy Downtown here in Traverse City, but continued support of our local businesses is critical. A commitment to do so during this one-day event will also result in greatly benefiting the nonprofit organizations in our community. This truly is a win-win,” says Colleen Paveglio, DDA/DTCA Marketing Director.
 

Support your favorite organization and your local economy on Saturday, November 12, 2011 just by shopping Downtown.  Look for the shopping bags with balloons to signify participating stores. Following is a list of participating Downtown merchants and non-profit organizations.
 

 

Shop Your Community Day is sponsored by the over 200 merchants, restaurants and businesses who are members of the Downtown Traverse City Association.  Please contact the Downtown Traverse City Association at 922-2050 or e-mail colleen@downtowntc.com for further information.

By |2011-10-14T10:42:13-04:00October 14th, 2011|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Video | Fall Canoeing on the Platte River

Looking for a way to enjoy this beautiful fall weather? I highly recommend a canoe trip on the lower Platte River.

 Riverside Canoes on the Platte

Canoeing the Platte is one of my 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip, and a must-do for our family each fall. This past weekend we teamed up with the staff and friends of Riverside Canoes for an end-of-season paddle down the lower Platte River to enjoy the fall colors, watch the salmon swim upstream and pick up any trash we could find along the way.

Here’s a quick video of from our trip. Check out the amazing scene at the Platte River weir where salmon are counted, passed for spawning or harvested by the DNR.

 

 

A canoe trip on the lower Platte River begins at Riverside Canoes on M-22 and ends at the mouth where the Platte River empties into Lake Michigan. This is the southern end of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, recently voted America’s Most Beautiful Place. It is indeed one of our favorite spots.

 

If you’re thinking about checking out the scenery this year you have one more week to rent a canoe or kayak from Riverside Canoes before they close for the season. Riverside is located on M-22 south of Empire and north of Crystal Lake. Call 231.325.5622 or visit their website at www.canoemichigan.com for more details.

 

By |2011-10-10T06:49:49-04:00October 10th, 2011|Benzie, Day Trips|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler App Featured in New Visual Marketing Book

Visual Marketing by Anita Campbell & David LangtonI’m thrilled to announce the Traverse Traveler app will be included in a new creative idea book featuring 99 examples of successful marketing strategies.

 

Visual Marketing: 99 Proven Ways for Small Businesses to Marketing with Images and Design, by Anita Campbell & David Langton — To be released on September 29th

 

 

Here’s an excerpt from their publisher, Wiley:

 “This book is an idea starter. Expect this book to stimulate the senses, inspire and spark ideas,” says Langton. “The 99 handpicked examples in this book are from organizations that have successfully used visual elements in their marketing—with solid results.”

Visual Marketing displays creative marketing campaigns that brought attention to small businesses in unique, compelling, and unexpected ways.

“We explored every aspect of marketing – from traditional to high tech, “adds Campbell. “We show examples of how print ads and marketing materials are evolving, how social networking sites and the world of mobile apps have redefined how people communicate and how quickly new marketing technology, such as QR codes, come along as technology progresses.”

 

I’m anxiously awaiting a copy to see the creative ideas from other designers, artists, entrepreneurs and small businesses featured in this collection. I hope you’ll pay a visit to your local bookstore and pick up a copy. It is also available on Amazon and in eBook format for those who love their tablets!

By |2011-09-20T11:10:28-04:00September 20th, 2011|Mealtickets News, Traverse City|0 Comments

10 Places I've Never Been: Nonna's

10 Places I've Never Been

I’ve spent 10 weeks of my summer exploring 10 Places I’ve Never Been. And now it’s time for the Mystery location. A location, recommended by our readers and chosen by our Facebook fans. This mystery stop is Nonna’s Restaurant at The Homestead Resort.

Nonna's restaurant at Homestead Resort image

It’s been a few years since I have spent any time at The Homestead Resort. So when my husband and I arrived for dinner we weren’t quite sure where we were headed. I remember the Inn lies at the back of the property with beautiful views of the water, so we drove in that direction. The roads meander through tall pine woods with beautiful condos tucked into the hills. We found the Inn and the Beach Club at the end of the road, but no Nonna’s. So we retraced our path toward the entrance. A few wrong turns provided a reminder of how large The Homestead property is, and how much they have to offer. We passed Stony Brook Lodge with it’s breathtaking views and Camp Firefly where they teach the Orvis Fly Fishing. Finally we turned past the Reception Center and found The Village, and Nonna’s.

 

Nonna's at The Homestead imageWe planned to arrive when they opened the doors for dinner at 6pm so I would have a chance to talk with Jamie Jewel, Vice President of Sales & Marketing to learn a bit about The Homestead Resort and the history of Nonna’s. The staff greeted us at the door and welcomed us in for a quick tour.

 

Nonna’s is located in a section called the Village, which you may recognize as the entrance to the Mountain Flowers Par-3 golf course, and in the winter, their ski resort. The Village is home to several shops, lodging and other dining options for The Homestead guests including Beppi’s and Cavanaugh’s. There’s a play area for the kids and decks overlooking Fiddler’s Pond in the back.

 

Nonna's porch room imageNonna's porch view

Inside Nonna’s the atmosphere is warm and inviting. Since The Homestead caters to guests traveling as couples as well as families, they’ve gone out of their way to make both groups comfortable. The Porch dining room offers larger tables, banquettes and dining overlooking the pond. The Tavern room includes a bar in back, smaller tables and fireside dining. This room is for adults only. There are a few tables on the deck accessed by the bartender so guests can enjoy a drink outside.

 

Our tour included a visit to the Loft, a special room above Nonna’s that’s available when large groups would like to dine together, such as a family reunion or corporate meeting. There’s even a kitchenette in the back for future cooking classes. But the loft isn’t open for regular dining hours.

 

Nonna's tavern imageThe reason I chose to write about 10 Places I’ve Never Been is to showcase some of the amazing shops, restaurants and businesses that we ‘locals’ forget about, or drive right by. When we returned to the Tavern room I spoke with Jamie about what makes The Homestead Resort a place locals should consider visiting.

 

The Homestead Resort has begun to recognize the importance of welcoming the locals onto the property to see what’s available. In an effort to reach out to the surrounding communities on Labor Day The Homestead held a community block party for 300 people, inviting residents of Glen Lake, Empire, Lime Lake as well as resort guests. Despite the cold they enjoyed hot dogs and popcorn, sales in the shops, facepainting for the kids and trips via golf cart to the top of the mountain.

 

The Homestead Resort is a vacation destination with amenities any visitor or local would enjoy — some of which you may not even know about. For instance, did you know The Homestead purchased the King’s Challenge course and gave it a complete make-over? So much so, that under their new name, Manitou Passage, this Arnold Palmer course won Best New Course in 2010 from Golfweek magazine. In the winter the ski hills are open to the public. And they just opened a day-spa on property. Of course, the reason I’m here is Nonna’s. A fine italian restaurant hidden in the pines of northern Michigan.

 

 

As we were chatting the server arrived and introduced the menu and wine list. The wine list is quite large, with many options available by the glass. And they had some cocktails that sounded fantastic including a pomegranite martini. I like to support the local Michigan wineries and chose one of few on their list, a Black Star Farms semi-dry riesling. My husband opted for an Italian beer, Moretti.

Nonna's steak pizzaiolla

 

Our drinks arrived, along with fresh bread, olives and roasted garlic in a basket. Moments later, the chef sent out a special appetizer to whet the appetite: Steak Pizzaiolla. It’s a classic homestyle Italian dish that you just don’t see often on menus. Small bites of beef tenderloin in a savory tomato demi glaze served with thin brushetta. A nice warm treat. Along with the dish came a promise that the chef would come out and chat with us.

 

Nonna's chef John Piombo

Our Facebook fans warned us we would love Chef John. Jamie said, "wait until you met Chef John," so as you can imagine I was anxious to finally talk with Chef John. And moments later, out he came.

 

Chef John Piombo is not a Michigan native, but his new midwestern digs seem to suit him. With two Italian parents John is fluent in both languages and spent some time in Italy which explains his passion for food and flavor. But I think it’s his personality that attracts new fans to the restaurant, and keeps the staff happy and entertained.

Nonna's menu image

 

Each night the staff gathers for family dinner, a chef’s choice meal that could be off the menu or off-the-wall depending on what he feels like cooking. The 4:30pm meal offers a time for the staff to taste new dishes, sit down together and prepare for the evening’s service. "We don’t open the doors until 6pm. Not 5:50pm, not 5:59pm. That give us time together and time to prepare."

 

While many chefs in the area focus on "local" Chef John says, "I’m all about relationships." He works with independent farmers who will come to his doorstep and is building relationships with some of the smaller boutique wineries in the area, like Circa, one of his favorites. It seems he’s full of funny stories about trips to meet with the local merchants.

 

"Ok, just one more story and I’ll let you go," he teased, as he shared a humorous tale of showing up unannounced at the rabbit ranch and getting a glimpse of something we probably don’t want to think about before we eat. And another story about an order of beef from a Kaleva farmer who arrived with one filet, one strip steak, one rack of ribs — not exactly what chef expected when he placed an order for "one beef."

 

Shortly after Chef returned to the kitchen the appetizers arrived. Since we weren’t expecting the chef’s selection we ordered a couple dishes to share: crabcakes and a mozzarella & heirloom tomato insulate.

 

Nonna's crabcakes image

Nonna's tomato salad

 

The crabcakes were packed with crabmeat, not fillers, seared in a pan and served on a creamy cucumber puree with a couple dashes of hot chili sauce. Very good. I can never pass up a mozzarella and tomato salad this time of year, so I was glad to see this one was made to perfection. Slices of homemade buffalo mozzarella a top four heirloom tomatoes dredged, but not drowned, in balsamic, olive oil and fresh basil. Both were easy to share and we each enjoyed them.

Nonna's frosty beer glass

 

I’m always impressed when a restaurant pays attention to the details. I loved that my husband’s beer came out with a frosty pilsner glass. The plate for the crabcakes was warm as they were, and the salad plate was chilled. Nothing is worse that getting a cold salad served on a fresh-from-the-scalding-dishwasher plate. So kudos on service.

 Nonna's rabbit entree image

 

Speaking of service, our server was incredibly knowledgeable about the dishes, often answering questions about ingredients in the sauces, or making recommendations on the entrees. My husband ended up ordering the Rabbit, and I the Veal Scallopini. They arrived with a side of polenta from the chef.

Nonna's veal scallopini image

 

I tasted the rabbit, as I’m not sure that I’ve ever had rabbit before. Sorry to sound cliche but it reminded me of chicken. It was cooked in a flavorful stewed tomato sauce with fresh herbs. The veal I ordered was full of mushrooms and a rich demi-glaze, but what I really noticed were the fresh herbs. I finally asked the server what they were. "Take a look in the garden on your way out. That is fresh mint sage which we grow out front."

Nonna's blackberry dessert

 

As we cleaned our plates, and finished our drinks, chef John sent out a simple but scrumptious dessert. He flambed huge fresh blackberries with Cake Vodka, and served them over vanilla ice cream. The warm berries exploded with sweetness and you couldn’t mistake the flavor of cupcakes that comes from this unusual vodka. A perfect ending to the meal.

Nonna's image

 

We wrapped up the evening agreeing Nonna’s is a restaurant we’d not only recommend, but plan to return to. The atmosphere in the Tavern was comfortable and welcoming, perfect for couples looking for a quiet night out. The menu offered mulitple selections we were anxious to try —some we admired as they passed by our table in route for another.

Nonna's chef tableNonna's sign

 

Before we left I stopped to photograph the Chef’s Table. This special seating for six just off the entrance offers a unique glimpse into Chef John’s creativity. Guests enjoy 8 or 14 course meals paired with wine. The small-plate courses are completely up to the chef. So if you’re looking for adventure, and you brought your appetite, the Chef’s Table at Nonna’s would be a fabulous treat.

 

Nonna’s is open for dinner year-round from 6-10pm except Tuesdays. Off-season hours are Thursday – Saturday. Chef John likes to change things up during the year so expect menu changes every 3-4 days. On Thursdays you may find a verbal trattoria-style menu or prix fixe meal option.

Nonna's dining room

 

Reservations are recommended since Nonna’s is a small restaurant, about 13 tables (not including the loft). There’s outdoor seating for the bar, and some limited patio dining available, "on the three days that it’s warm," Chef John jokes. I can see his south Florida roots haven’t completely adjusted to Michigan’s climate.

 

You can find Nonna’s inside The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Visit their website at www.thehomesteadresort.com and find them on Facebook & Twitter. They’re still working on the wayfinding signage inside the resort, so to locate Nonna’s turn right on Wood Ridge Road, pass the Reception Center and you’ll come to the Village. Parking is on the right. For reservations call 231.334.5150. And, as with all my 10 Places I’ve Never Been locations, you can find them on the Traverse Traveler App. To download the free app click here.

Glen Arbor Sunset

 

It seems appropriate that the 10 Places I’ve Never Been series ended with a beautiful sunset over Glen Lake as witnessed from our drive home across the Narrows bridge in Glen Arbor. Every time I watch the sun sink into the lake, or behind a dune, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place—America’s Most Beautiful Place, in fact. But… that’s another story.

 

 

 

 

 

By |2011-09-12T11:56:34-04:00September 12th, 2011|Leelanau, Place's I've Never Been, Restaurants|1 Comment

10 Places I've Never Been: The Cherry Hut

10 Places I've Never Been

This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.

 

The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been. Next on my list: The Cherry Hut

Cherry Hut entrance image

 

 

The Cherry Hut is somewhat of a local legend, especially in Benzie County. And the truth is, when I was a child I came to The Cherry Hut with my grandmother who grew up in Thompsonville and summered on Crystal Lake. So technically, it’s not a place I’ve never been. The reason it makes my list of 10 Places I’ve Never Been is because my husband — a Benzie Central graduate — has never been. That seems like an injustice that calls for correction. And this is the perfect opportunity.

Cherry Hut interior image

 

I stopped in early in the afternoon to chat with the owner, Andrew Case, and get a bit of The Cherry Hut history. It has been many years since I visited with my grandmother so I was surprised at how different it looked from what I rememebered. There’s a small souvenir shop offering jams, jellies, and cherry themed merchandise up front where diners search for something to take home to share. Behind the counter the owner was busy helping guests interested in purchasing a pie to go.

Cherry Hut chalkboard

 

After introducing myself and explaining the story behind my 10 Places I’ve Never Been series Andy offered to show me around and share his family’s recipe for restaurant success.

Cherry Hut painting image 

 

The Cherry Hut opened in 1922 as a roadside pie stand at the base of Warren road on the shores of Crystal Lake. There’s a large painting on the wall above the windows in the front room that illustrates their humble beginnings. In 1937 the Kraker family moved their pie stand into the town of Beulah on US-31, where it remains. At that time The Cherry Hut offered only outdoor dining at umbrella-topped tables where guests could enjoy picnic-style fare with their cherry pie.

 

Over the years the size of the patio has become smaller and smaller as requests for indoor dining and air conditioning have become more prevalent. Now a few umbrella tables remain behind the white picket fence, but the majority of guests choose their 150-seat indoor restaurant.

Cherry Hut owners image

 

Leonard Case began working for the Krakers in 1946. His role as "Jam Boy" left him in charge of their growing product line, a role he fulfills to this day. Leonard bought The Cherry Hut in 1959 and it’s been a family business ever since. His son Andy now handles day-to-day operations, but Leonard is on-site everyday and still a vital part of the The Cherry Hut restaurant.

 

Cherry Hut tables imageThere were a few things that I noticed the moment I walked into the restaurant, and the one that really caught my eye was how clean, neat and organized it looked. Every empty table was perfectly set with Cherry Hut placemats, silverware and napkins. The floors were immaculate, chairs pushed in, neat as a pin. So it came as no surprise that attention to detail is something The Cherry Hut strives for in every way.

 

The Cherry Hut places guest service at the top of their priorities. Their staff is trained in the proper and traditional forms of service. Women are served first, the silverware is replaced with each dish, and the tables are properly set. "It’s the little things that add up to make the difference," Andy said. The customers appreciate the details too. Including the fresh flowers and cherry handsoap in the the bathrooms.

 

After chatting with Andy in the afternoon, I returned later that evening with my family for dinner. I was anxious to try some of the dishes that had been suggested by our Traverse Traveler fans on Facebook and Twitter including the Cherry-Chicken Salad and the Cherry-ade.

Cherry Hut image

 

 

 

My five-year-old loved the giant smily-faced logo that greets each guest on their placesetting. In fact, his name is Cherry Jerry the Smiling Faced Pie Boy. And he’s just as old as the restaurant.

Cherry Hut cherry chicken salad

 

Cherry-Chicken Salad is what I ordered. According to Andy Case, he can’t say for certain, but he believes The Cherry Hut to be the originator of Cherry-Chicken Salad as it’s been on the menu here longer than anywhere else. As an entree it arrived with two huge slices of cantaloupe a pineapple garnish and a moist homemade cherry muffin on the side.

Cherry Hut burger image

 

My husband ordered the Plevalean burger and side of fries. Plevalean is also a cherry-product, made by the Pleva family in Cedar. The Cherry Hut is one of few restaurants that serve Plevalean burgers as they have to make the trip up to Cedar in person to buy it. When topped with cheese, bacon and all the fixins you’re missing some of the healthy benefits of Plevalean. Still, my husband said it one of the best burgers he’s had.

 

The kids and I had to have their famous Cherry-ade. The secret to this popular drink is that it’s made from the juice of pie cherries. Mixed with water and lemon juice this pink drink tastes like cherry pie in a glass. Very sweet, but delicious.

Cherry Hut cherry-ade imageCherry Hut pie image

 

A trip to The Cherry Hut wouldn’t be complete without purchasing a cherry pie to-go. You might be surprised to know on an average summer Saturday they will sell 500 pies a day! During the week that drops to around 300 pies. Not too shabby. They’re small pies, maybe 8", but they sell for only $8.25. And you better come in person, because they do not ship their pies. But you can pick-up a frozen one if you’re headed on the road.

Cherry Hut pie slice image

 

We brought our pie home to enjoy. I remember only a few trips to The Cherry Hut with my grandmother. She always ordered the Chicken Pot Pie for dinner, and we took our pie to-go. A trip to The Cherry Hut has become a tradition for many families who visit Benzie County. In fact, that’s their slogan, "A Northern Michigan Tradition Since 1922."

 

Cherry Hut sign imageIf you haven’t been to The Cherry Hut I’d say it’s about time to check it out. Their prices are fair, portions are generous and the staff has been trained in excellence. We had fantastic service there. It’s non-smoking (as is every restaurant in Michigan) and alcohol free. The Cherry Hut is open seasonally from Mother’s Day through the third weekend in October.

 

Visit The Cherry Hut at 211 N Michigan Avenue in Beulah, Michigan (that’s on US-31 in case you were searching for street signs). You won’t need reservations, but if you need to call dial 231.882.4431. While they don’t sell pies online or ship them they do have a large mail order business for their jams and preserves, so visit their website at www.cherryhut.com. Stop by and say hi on Facebook too. As with all my 10 Places locations, The Cherry Hut will be listed on the Traverse Traveler iPhone app — our free mobile guide to the Traverse Area. Download on iTunes here.

 

That makes 9 Places I’ve Never Been. If you’ve been following along this summer my 10th place is a Mystery. On September 6th I’ll announce that location, so stay tuned…

By |2011-09-05T11:13:01-04:00September 5th, 2011|Benzie, Place's I've Never Been|0 Comments

10 Places I've Never Been: Two Fish Gallery

10 Places I've Never Been

 

This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.

 

The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been. Next on my list: Two Fish Gallery

Two Fish Gallery LelandTwo Fish Gallery entrance

 

One thing I’ve discovered while writing about 10 Places I’ve Never Been it’s that there are a lot more than ten! And coincidentally, many of them are places I have walked past dozens of times. Two Fish Gallery is one of those places.

 

I visit Leland quite often, walk along the wooden boardwalk, under the shade of that enormous tree, and explore Fishtown. But I hadn’t ventured into the store that lies in the shadow of that tree —until this summer.

Two Fish Gallery inside view

 

Two Fish Gallery is the type of shop visitors are searching for when they want to bring home a momento from their trip Up North. My first impression was that the buyers for this store go out of their way to find items that represent northern Michigan, and are a bit unique. It’s a challenge to choose artwork, gifts, cards and collectables that shoppers won’t see in the store around the corner. Owner Jennifer Collins has done a great job bringing something new into the retail mix.

 

To write a blog about a retail store means talking about the products they sell. So I’ve taking a ton of photos and thought I’d share some of the items that captured my attention. Let me be your guide on a virtual shopping tour through Two Fish Gallery.

Two Fish Gallery Bill Campbell potteryTwo Fish Gallery Bill Campbell pottery

 

When you walk in the door you can’t miss the large display of ceramics from artist Bill Campbell. He’s a Pennsylvania potter known for a very unique glazing technique. Two Fish Gallery has a great selection of his collectable yet functional art pottery in shades of blue, aqua, purple and brown.

Two Fish Gallery Solmate Socks

 

Another customer favorite are the Solmate Socks. AKA "The Sock Lady," this Vermont artist creates beautiful mismatched socks, which may be quite familiar as they’ve become collectable in their own right. The bright knits hang on the wall attached to a clothes line. Each pair of socks has a name which corresponds to the color-scheme. I love that she sells the kids socks in sets of 3, "A pair and a spare," and the Baby Sockinis are sold in sets of 5.

Two Fish Gallery wooden signs

 

All around the store, hanging near the ceiling, are these fabulous wooden signs painted with clever and humorous phrases. While this is certainly not the only store I’ve seen with wooden signs, I do love the choice of phrases Two Fish Gallery has selected. Some are clever, some tug at the heartstrings, and some just make you laugh out loud. The company Sawdust City offers thousands of options, so it’s up to the gallery owner to choose what she should sell. This gives you a glimpse into her personality and that of Two Fish Gallery’s customers.

Two Fish Gallery signsTwo Fish Gallery signs

The signs can also be customized. In store they carry several that talk about Leland, Fishing, Michigan and up north. But you can even have a one-of-a-kind sign made for your family, cottage or as a gift. My personal favorite: "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will buy more fishing equipment than he can use in a lifetime." Sad, but true.

Two Fish Gallery jewelry

 Two Fish Gallery chart jewelry

Eventually my browsing lead me to the jewelry, as it often does. And there’s a lot of variety in the store to choose from. There are handmade crystal necklaces, bracelets and earrings made by a local artist, and friend of the Collins family, Suzanne Meyer. Her self-proclaimed "bead addiction" is a blessing for the rest of us who can appreciate the cherry-inspired necklaces, and simple braclets. I also liked the custom Chart Map jewelry which reveals a tiny section of a map under glass bubbles, strategically featuring the Leelanau Peninsula.

Two Fish Gallery Staxx rings

 

But, the artsy designer in me was drawn to the case of Staxx jewelry, a company I wasn’t familiar with until Jennifer explained. Staxx is a collectable line of customizable rings which are built by you. Two Fish Gallery has a big selection to choose from, so Jennifer hauled it all out for me.

Two Fish Gallery Staxx ringsTwo Fish Gallery Staxx rings

 

You start with a stainless steel ring with a post on top, choose your layers from colorful disks of glass, metal and molded shapes, then cap it with a topper. Each ring is as unique as the designer. The combinations are endless. So, as you can imagine, I stood there playing for quite a while before deciding on the ring I wanted. The price is determined by what you’ve selected, with layers ranging from $2-$10. Rings usually end up in the $30-$50 range.

 

While we played with the rings I had a chance to ask Jennifer how she ended up with a retail business in Leland. As it turns out she’s an Engineer by trade, who grew up in Iowa where the closest thing to a lake was man-made. But when her husband retired and moved here from Chicago in 1997 they decide to buy an existing business, Americana Collection. The only problem was, they didn’t know much about antiques. So in 2009 they decided to change the name of the store to Two Fish Gallery, and the inventory began to reflect a style which suited them and the town of Leland.

Two Fish Gallery signsTwo Fish Gallery halloweenTwo Fish Gallery Curly Girl


"We really try hard to find unique things. And we love to make people laugh." So Jennifer has filled the store with collections like Curly Girl, seasonal gifts from Woof & Poof and greeting card lines that will have customers standing there reading out loud to their friends, and laughing all the way to the register. Even the garden art is whimsical and unexpected.

Two Fish Gallery my purchase

 

As for me, I knew once I saw the rings that I had my purchase. It probably took 30-minutes of playing to make it. But that’s another nice thing about Jennifer and the staff at Two Fish Gallery…she didn’t mind playing right along with me!

Two Fish Gallery LelandLeland cottonwood tree

 

You can find Two Fish Gallery under the shade of a champion cottonwood tree, overlooking beautiful Fishtown. For those with a GPS, that’s 104 West River Street, Leland, Michigan 49654. They are open year-round, and feature seasonal gifts especially for Christmas. Call 231.256.9350 for more details or to place a special order. You can find them online at www.twofishleland.com and Find them on Facebook here. As with all my 10 Places locations, they are also listed under Shop in the Traverse Traveler iPhone app — our free mobile guide to the Traverse Area. Download on iTunes here.

 

 

Today is the last day to nominate a business for my 10th stop on the 10 Places I’ve Never Been series. So visit us on the  Traverse Traveler Facebook page. I’ll be choosing my last place from your suggestions!

 

And stay tuned next week, as I plan to explore the next stop on my 10 Places I’ve Never Been tour:  The Cherry Hut.

By |2011-08-26T11:13:50-04:00August 26th, 2011|Leelanau, Place's I've Never Been|0 Comments