about town

quick trip to the tropics

March 31, 2014
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Since the forecast called for yet another cold Saturday in March, we decided to head west to a warmer climate.  There’s no need to fly down to Costa Rica to get your tropical fix… you can just mingle with a few hundred of butterflies for an hour or two at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids instead.

frederik meijer gardensIn addition to the greenhouses, there are loads of sculptures all around the park.  Iitu and I did not venture off to see many of them since it was a bit chilly but you can’t miss this marvelous marching band parallel to the parking lots.

arid gardenBefore you make your way to the tropics, you travel though a desert area filled with cool catci that look like they belong on a different planet.

meijer gardensThere are many great places to take photos.  We both took our fancy cameras and brushed up on our photo skills.  There were lots of those big beautiful blue butterflies pictured on the sign in the gardens but boy-oh-boy they are hard to capture with a camera so this is the only photo you will see of them.

butterfly exhibit

It’s fascinating to see all stages of these stunning creatures.  The annual Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. For the months of March and April you can experience tropical butterflies from around the world flying freely in these gardens.

butterfly exhibit meijer gardens

There’s beauty packed from head to toe in this place… the flowers, trees, plants and of course the star of the show ~ the beautiful butterflies.  Plus did I mention that it’s a balmy 85 degrees in this sweet smelling conservatory?

meijer gardens

If you’re going on the weekends, I would recommend getting there earlier in the day.  The gardens open at 9am.  We arrived around 10am and by 11am it was already getting pretty crowded.  There are lots of spots you can just stand or sit to soak everything in.

butterflies are blooming meijer gardensAnd I do recommend just hanging around… you never know when a butterfly wants to stop by and say hello ~ like it did on this gentleman’s hat.

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season of change

October 27, 2013
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While looking over the last year of photos on my Instagram feed, you can tell my most favorite seasons are fall and spring.  Of course I also love summer and some parts of winter too, however my photos don’t seem to show it as much.

It’s the gorgeous changes of the trees during these seasons that make my neighborhood walks so full of beauty.

That and the stunning sunlight warming up brisk mornings and cool evenings.

I’m not one to ponder deep thoughts often, but I do find it interesting that the most beautiful seasons in Michigan are the ones that go through the most change.

And ironically most people including me tend to resist change.  It’s uncomfortable and unknown.  It’s hard and scary.  You have to take risks and are not always guaranteed rewards.

It’s often far easier to stay in our comfortable cocoon of perceived safety.

october love

But I think we can cheat of ourselves of unknown beauty that will enrich our lives beyond measure if we resist opportunities that require change.

I love that every six months our wonderful world reminds me that change is beautiful.

art for everyone

October 6, 2013
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One amazing event that I’m proud takes place in our state is ArtPrize.  It’s now in its fifth year and all began with a “social experiment” idea from Rick DeVos.  He was going to give away the world’s largest art prize based solely on a public vote. DeVos said the event would take over downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, that fall. As it turned out, that was just the beginning.

Steve & I have attended this awesome event 4 out of the last 5 years.  Here are some bits and pieces of what we enjoyed this time around…

Sleeping Dune National Lakeshore created from fabric took first prize.  Silkwaves added fantastic color to the Grand River.  This heart has the right message… Actions Speak Louder.

The wood carved Dancing With Mother Nature sculpture was stunning in person.  And this Earth Giant looked like he has been kicking back fishing in the Grand River for years.

Glass orchid garden  & photo-like painted polar bears.

Plus I love the magical peep holes in All Things Possible.

The origami swans jumped off the painting and filled the ceiling in Wing and a PrayerTaking Flight was amazing in person too.

Back to Eden was a lovely living wall of prettiness and old tires never looked so cute on Tired Pandas.

That may look like a quilt… but is actually carved from wood!

Thanks for another inspiring experience ArtPrize.  We’ll keep our head in the clouds dreaming of artful ways to look at the world until next year!

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brooklyn bound

September 14, 2013
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I promise this is the last entry about my August adventures (since I’m only posting this about a month late).   I’ve been to New York many times for gift trade shows but never made the time to explore across the bridge in Brooklyn.  Since Steve and I had a free Saturday on this trip we took the gray line to Bedford Ave for the afternoon.  Williamsburg is a hub for hipster’s so it’s no surprise that vintage & diy market, Artists and Fleas is located there.

artists and fleas brooklyn

I remember hearing that Ferndale’s own, Rust Belt Market was inspired by these guys and it definitely had that feel… but I have to give props to Rust Belt owners, Chris & Tiffany for taking this concept to another level.  Ferndale has a true authentic gem because of their passion, dedication, creativity, collabration and lots of hard work.

smorgasburg

Just a block down from Artists & Fleas is Smorgasburg.  This foodie’s paradise happens every Saturday from 11am – 6pm.  The creativity, variety of foods & view of the Manhattan skyline makes this a must-top  on my list.

smorgasburg brooklynIf anyone is looking to transition into being an entrepreneur and can make a good pie… I think this idea is brilliant.  I saw a similar concept when visiting a street fair in Seattle a few years ago and am surprised that it hasn’t made its way to Michigan yet.   Pizza Moto is basically a mobile wood fired brick oven.  In this age of food trucks, festivals & universal love of pizza… I hope to see one of these joining a food truck rally near Detroit soon!

smorgasburg brooklyn

Lots of great logos, clever company names and food combinationscraft cocktails and dessert bar anyone?

smorgasburg brooklyn

This Arnold Palmer slush was oh-so-tasty.  I knew there was a long line at Kelvin for a reason!

brooklynWe toured through the boutique district and ended up dining at the the festive Rosarito Fish Shack before heading back to Manhattan.

rea awards

The main reason we visited New York was to attend the Retail Excellence Award Gala at the Chelsea Piers.  We were one of three finalists for store design of our newest Ann Arbor location.  Here’s our pretty feature in Gifts and Dec magazine.

rea awards

We didn’t win, however I really want to visit the store that did!  Talk about having vision… they transformed a 12,000 sq ft Firestone garage into a lifestyle store where I would like to go live.  If you’re ever near Sioux Falls, you might want to swing by the wonderful world of Zing.

We ended the evening with a lovely late night walk on the highline and enjoyed all the sights and sounds of the city on a sleepy Sunday.

Like to see where I spend my time away from catching fireflies?  Then sign up to receive blog posts like these in your email inbox HERE

5 fabulous stops up north

September 7, 2013
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I was having too much fun living my life this past August to find time blog to about it so bear with me as I share a few more summer themed posts.  After all, it is going to be 90 degrees this week so just pretend this happened last weekend :-)   I’ve chatted up many lovely things I like about up north over the past years here and here and here … but I couldn’t resist sharing some more shots from my girls weekend away this year.
sugarkissed traverse city

This new sweet stop in downtown Traverse City lured us in with its sherbert colored Dr. Seuss vibe.  We treated ourselves to some tart key lime frozen yogurt that was capital D-elicious!

leland

Off to M22 and the lovely town of Leland.  I suggest wandering a block or two from the fishtown area to this delightful park.  In the center stands a handsome old tree surrounded by handmade tiles.  This definitely is one of the more artful ways to fund raise for a most beautiful public place everyone can enjoy.  And on a side note…  swing by Two Fish Gallery for a sweet shopping experience.

glen arbor

I never tire of Glen Arbor and all its charm.  Cherry Republic never disappoints and I always walk out with a bag of clothes from Cottonseed.  This year I discovered Malia style Jag Jeans there.  They are my new go-to jeans because they make me look & feel so slim PLUS being stretch denim they are so comfortable and never get saggy!

lelanau sunset

Of course no shop or town can compete with the stunning sunsets and gigantic dunes that grace this one of a kind place.

monumental finds

On the way home we detoured to Frankfort to see if Monumental Finds was still creating giant playhouses from discarded doors, windows and other finds.  These Alice-in-Wonderland flavored structures always make me smile.  Another thing that brings me a grin is finding an ice cream stand that serves Dole-Whip!  I haven’t been to Disney World since I was in 4th grade, but one thing I do remember is LOVING pineapple Dole Whip.  I’m still on the hunt to find that flavor in Michigan, but until I do… tangerine will have to do.

Like to see where I spend my time away from catching fireflies?  Then sign up to receive blog posts like these in your email inbox HERE

fantastic scupltures in sebastopol

September 1, 2013
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With every new area I explore, I always hope to stumble on a surprise that makes me smile.  These incredibly clever sculptures created from junk that was destined for the scrap yard make a stop in Sebastopol, California worth it.

patrick amiot

The talented duo behind these wild and whimsical creations are  Patrick Amiot and Brigette Laurent.  A snippet from his website reads, “The whole purpose of my work is to glorify these objects, because they have their own spirit,” Amiot enthuses. “When a hubcap has traveled on a truck for millions of miles, and has seen the prairies in the winter and the hot summer asphalt, when it’s done traveling with that truck and finds itself in the scrap yard and I find it, I kind of like to use that. This hubcap, or whatever piece of metal, from the day it was manufactured until now, has an important history. And I like to think the spirit of all these things lived incredible lives. If they could talk to you, they could tell amazing stories. That’s something I don’t want to hide.”

renga arts

The first place we saw his work was at the lovely shop, Renga Arts.  They have a fabulous sculpture garden that highlights some of their work.

renga arts sebastopol

After we soaked in all that Renga Arts had to offer, we headed off to Florence Street which is just a few blocks from downtown Sebastopol.  I have to say that I’ve never walked through such an artful and happy neighborhood.  My guess is Patrick & Brigette created many of these front yard sculptures in themes the home owners requested… from sports teams to professions to pastimes ~ you see it all!

florence street sebastopolpatrick amiot

It’s hard to see all the details in these smaller photos, but rest assured… they did not miss a beat.  I love batman’s tool belt ~ complete with a toaster!

florence street sebastopol

I took photos of almost all the sculptures we saw but if you’re hungry for more, see additional pictures of their work HERE.  Or better yet ~ if you ever find yourself in Northern California, make sure to spend an afternoon in Sebastopol.

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marmalade and curly girl tour

August 26, 2013
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Since I snapped well over 100 photos of my 3 day girl getaway in Boston, I had to dedicate an entire post just to the work spaces of Leigh Standley.  We sell a number of Leigh’s lovely goodies at catching fireflies so it was fun to see the behind scenes of her warehouse/office space.

curly girl warehouseLet me just say this place is cute enough to be a tv set!  I’ll let the photos do all the talking…

curly girl offices

Here is where all her retail web orders get fulfilled & shipped.

Curly Girl Design OfficeAnd her office…  no words ~ just drool.

curly girl office

Thank you Mati Rose for capturing all us gals in this happy place!

marmalade belmont ma

Next, off to her retail shop in downtown Belmont.  Once again, I’ll let the photos be your tour guide…

marmalade belmont mamarmalade belmont mamarmalade belmont ma

marmalade belmont mamarmalade belmont ma

Thank you Leigh for sharing a slice of your life with us.  This little trip filled my tank with inspiration for a long while.

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a whirlwind of wonderful

August 26, 2013
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I have been a very lucky girl this summer.  You know that saying, Work Hard, Play Hard?  That has defined my August.  One of my long weekend escapes earlier in the month was to Boston for a girl’s weekend hosted by the lovely Leigh Standley of Curly Girl Design. Our three delightful days consisted of a sunset cruise, flea marketing, shop perusing and celebrating Leigh’s soon-to-arrive twins…

tatte bakery bostonand eating… lots of eating :-)  Our first stop for lunch was Tatte Bakery & Cafe.  This is one of Leigh’s favorite spots and after eating a most amazing tasting sandwich, I can see why.  But the real star of the show here are the gorgeous pastries, cookies and other scrumptious baked goods.

After lunch we shopped at Marmalade, Leigh’s retail shop in downtown Belmont.  I took plenty of pictures of this happy shopping space … so many that they will be in their very own blog post.

picnic fixingsAfterwards we headed back to Leigh’s pad to make picnic fixins for our sunset cruise around Boston Harbor.  This is where I began to feel like I was living in a magazine shoot.  I also believe that all sandwiches taste even better when wrapped in parchment paper and bakers twine.

Leigh Standley's Home

 In between getting helping with kitchen prep, I explored her gorgeous home…. like I said ~ magazine shoot :-)

Leigh Standley's Home

Next…we were off to the harbor!

sailing bostonIt was a most perfect evening for this memorable event.  All the gals were instagraming many of the moments, so I used a few of their pics for this collage.  Thank you Close2MyArtLizzyFlanagan and LacyLike.

breakfast buffet

After a late night of sharing stories, we awoke to this gorgeous scene for breakfast… complete with a vintage handkerchief runner.  Ahhh ~ the subtle and sweet details.

Leigh Standley's Baby ShowerThen the beautiful baby shower organized by the oh-so-thoughtful & crafty Alyssa.  After the festivities, we had a relaxing afternoon.  I forget how good it is for the soul to spend time with inspiring women… hearing their stories, learning about their passions and visions for what’s next.  Thank you (from left to right) Mati Rose, Lacy Young, Leigh, Margo Tantau, Michelle Allen and Alyssa Barr Klatte for an unforgettable weekend.

grapefruit sangriaLater that evening we feasted on fish tacos, grilled Mexican corn, homemade guacamole, salsa and grapefruit sangria… all under the starlit sky on the back patio.  So stunning and yummy!

flea market

The next morning we grabbed a most delicious donut for some flea market fuel.  Leigh’s dog, Lucy led the way and sniffed out some spectacular finds for us.

flea market finds

Here’s a bit of my bounty.  Muffin tins and glass jars are great for jewelry displays. I plan on using these critters & toy figurines in some 3 tiered displays  inspired by the ones I saw at the store, I Like You a couple years ago.

bostonNext we headed to a very hip area of Boston and scouted out some more second hand finds, food trucks and also hit a fantastic art market where I scored some hip handmade clothes from cinderloop and mountain ash design.

sowa boston

It was definitely a whirlwind of wonderful.  A big thank you to Leigh who organized this great gathering.  I think we might all have to return to celebrate your babes’ first birthdays next year!

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our favorite vacation spots

August 19, 2013
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As another summer comes to an end so does skipping out of town for a week of sunny fun.  We hope you discovered new and interesting places or had a chance to visit your go-to town this vacation season.  If you’re seeking new spots to see next year, check out some of our firefly team’s favorite destinations…

mackinac island

My family always went north for summer vacations when I was growing up. My mother and I have taken trips to Mackinac Island a few times since I moved out of the house, and some friends and I did a Girls Weekend on the Island a few years back. It was a blast! Every summer, I think about going back. Or maybe for Halloween!

gladwin, mi

I use to travel to Gladwin as a young child almost every weekend in the summer to visit my aunt.  After she passed away, she left her cabin to my dad and uncle and is now considered our family’s cabin.  I have fond memories of traveling “Up North” to fish on the Tittabawassee River, head over to Sugar Springs for some swimming, and visiting West Branch for some shopping.  I now can share these memories with my family and create new ones. Recently, I have found out that two friends of ours also have cabins on the river and we can see some familiar faces as we travel down the river on the pontoon.  It is a beautiful place in the summer and the colors in the fall are spectacular.  My most favorite place to travel.

naples florida

Naples favorite relaxation spot for vacation. I love coming here and reading a book while soaking up the sun. This is total paradise for me!

toronto

This cosmopolitan city is a special place to me as it is where I got married.  My husband and I are considered opposites – described as cashmere vs flannel, yet the city appeals to both of us and our individual interests. From the diverse culture, incredible variety of street vendors, restaurants, and shopping; to theater, museums, and parks, the city has it all. It is clean, safe,and friendly. See a sporting event at the dome, have dinner at the top of the CN Tower, shop on Queen Street, take in a theater production, visit China Town,,,You get the idea.  Too many great things to do, to list.

north carolina

My grandparents retired when I was born and moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northwest North Carolina. I spent many Summer days on their 40-acre property as a child, and I’ve gone back at least once a year ever since. The mountains get their name from the many blue-hued fur trees in the area, as well as the mist that usually covers the rolling hills. It’s all so beautiful!
Last Summer, my finance Nick and I went for a visit. We hiked Grandfather Mountain (called that because it resembles an old man lying on his back – the peak you climb up is his nose!), climbed Mt. Jefferson, floated down the Big Horse river in inner tubes, and visited the Mile High swinging bridge.
My picture shows Nick standing about 3/4 up Mt. Jefferson looking down on the town of West Jefferson, where my grandmother now lives. We had a picnic not far from where he’s standing, but not quite so close to the edge!
canada

I’ve been vacationing at a friends’ cottage at Basswood Lake in Thessalon Ontario for over 25 years. It offers beauty, water sports, relaxation and no technology. A place to unwind and simply appreciate nature and friendships.

gettysburg

I have been going to Gettysburg for a few years now and it didn’t take long for it to become my favorite vacation spot. Being a bit of a history buff, I love learning more about everything that occurred there and being able to experience a little bit of history for myself. It is a really pretty place and with so much to do, it’s very easy to relax and just get lost walking around

marquette

My grandparent’s grew up in a small town outside of Marquette and my family and I love going to the U.P. to visit our family and friends that still live up there. It is absolutely gorgeous and relaxing to spend time up there.

punta canta

Punta Cana is my favorite vacation spot because it’s like being in paradise. Relaxation, drinks and the ocean is the perfect combination.

sauble beach

While it is rather difficult to choose just one favorite vacation spot, I would say that Ontario’s Sauble Beach ranks among the highest on my list. My family took several trips to this picturesque Lake Huron beach when I was growing up. We would rent out a few cottages right on the lake, located in a remote, non-touristy area. One of the best parts was just how rustic the cottages were. It was truly an experience to stay in these tiny and charming houses. Some of the bedrooms were so small that the mattress would be bowed in the middle, because it was pressing into the walls on each side!

lincoln nebraska

One of my most memorable vacations included a stop in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Talking with the very friendly, sociable locals it was interesting to take in a different slice of life.  The best thing by far was seeing the night sky with more stars than you ever new existed.

south haven

I’m a gal who always likes to discover and explore new places so there is something to be said that I’ve spent a portion of my summer vacation in South Haven the past two summers.  It’s just 3 hours west of Detroit and is the perfect down-to-earth beach town.  The town has a great mix of shops, restaurants, bakeries, coffee & ice cream shops, plus an old school movie theater.  There are two great beaches and one is a short walk from downtown.  There are always plenty places to rent in the cute neighborhood just blocks from all the action.  And did I mention they have the most marvelous farmers market on Saturdays all summer long?  A great place to live the relaxing lake life for a week.

Like to see where our firefly team likes to spend their time away from catching fireflies?  Then sign up to receive blog posts like these in your email inbox HERE

soaking in south of san francisco

August 16, 2013
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So I really didn’t intend for our California trip to take up 3 whole blog posts… but I guess I took more photos than I realized.  There are just so many cool places to see!  I guess it’s no surprise that we managed to put on a mere 1,100 miles on the rental car during our stay.

So now we head south of San Fran…

So before you think all I do is peruse cool shops & restaurants (which is mostly true), I laced up my tennies for some light hiking action in Big Sur.

The scenery along the Pacific Coast Highway is absolutely STUNNING!  The top photo is from a easy-peasy hike right off the road on the McWay Waterfall Trail just south of the official Big Sur State Park.

For some serious Redwood action, we headed to the state park and hiked the slightly more challenging Pfeiffer Falls Trail.

And how about this spectacular view for a lovely lunch?!  Nepenthe is another spot in Big Sur that I need to thank my friend, Leigh for recommending.  There really is no place like it.  Plus did I mention they have an amazing shop there too?  I know… I know ~ back to food and shopping.  I can’t help it :-)

Next we headed to the cute town of Carmel.  I can’t say I found any shops I loved here, but the city scape is quite enchanting.  Lots of gingerbread-esque shops with gorgeous gardens and courtyards everywhere… and art galleries TONS of art galleries.

I am so happy that gluten and carbohydrates are still my friends because this European styled restaurant/bakery was oh such a wonderful dining experience.  La Bicyclette  of Carmel was oozing with charm and not a detail was missed.

On another day we headed to Santa Cruz… a hip city with a lotta soul.  The shop Stripe definitely stood out for super stylish goods and oh-so-slick presentation.  I also enjoyed the throwback displays scattered through out Old School Shoes.  Just a couple more stores to add to my dream main street.

One of the shop owners suggested we get a cool treat at The Penny Ice Creamery and it did not disappoint.  Love how they write the day’s flavors on an old window.  I should have taken a photo of our ice cream but we enjoyed it too quickly.

After the city tour, we checked out the beach scene.  The boardwalk was definitely a festive environment, but I’m still partial to the ones on Jersey Shore we visited last year.

It was a sunny day in Santa Cruz but still a little cool for bathing suit weather.  One fun surprise we found while walking on the pier were boisterous sea lions catching some rays.  They actually have cut outs of the middle of the pier where you can watch them do what they do.

All of our mini adventures could have been full vacations, but we had fun discovering someplace new everyday.  It would be hard to choose just one place to stay.  I guess that’s one of the reasons why a trip to the bay area is so great.  I’d definitely recommend putting it on your vacation list.

Like to see where I spend my time away from catching fireflies?  Then sign up to receive blog posts like these in your email inbox HERE

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April McCrumb

I'm April McCrumb ~ a creative gal from Michigan that loves to share clever gift ideas, simple recipes, my favorite tunes & all things crafty.  Thanks for stopping by my whimsical world. I hope you enjoy your visit.

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