30 December 2018

2018 Winter in MICHIGAN - W. K. Kellogg Manor House

For years I have been yearning to see this big ol' Tudor-revival style mansion along Gull Lake in southwest Michigan. It is only 15 miles from our home in Kalamazoo. They often have "formal" tea events here on various holidays, but this time of year there is local artisan holiday craft sale. Here's the lowdown on the mansion's history.
This is the Kellogg family that invented Corn Flakes and other Kellogg brand cereals.
Construction was started in 1925 and the home occupied in 1926. The estate cost was $747,000 at the time (the home $400,000 out of that). The 15,000 square foot house still stands intact with furniture added to reflect the original furnishings. It sits on the highest point (110 feet) above Gull Lake and includes 1,600 feet of shoreline. Mr. Kellogg referred to it as his "cottage."
Here is the front entrance. Looks pretty austere compared with what is behind that door.
The living room (and many other rooms) has a lovely view of the lake and was decorated stunningly.
Wood beams, paneling, and staircase are in oak, cherry, and walnut. Today all the fireplaces were aglow.
The dining room may have been my favorite. There was also an elegant breakfast room with period boxes of Corn Flakes and other Kellogg cereal brands displayed. There tea and macaroons were offered as part of the $5 donation fee.
The kitchen seems quite ordinary, but I'm sure the family rarely visited this room.

Next I took the stunning wooden staircase up to the second floor. Italian woodworkers created the intricate carvings.
Upstairs was the mister and the misses suites. His had private bath, closet, bedroom, and separate office.
Her connecting space has a private bath, closet, bedroom, and two sitting rooms.
There were also four guest bedrooms.

And seven bathrooms, all styled in various colors of Rookwood tile.

Last was the billiard room and nook.
Here the fireplace is surrounded in more colorful Rookwood tile.

All-in-all there are 18 rooms (not all were open)--seven entry doors, a library, seven bedrooms (today filled with artisans' wares), seven bathrooms, a wing for household staff (now offices), two large sun porches, a full basement (including an organ with 1,000+ pipes, laundry, and two redwood Jacuzzis), and an attic (ballroom / storage). There are many leaded-glass window and wood panel decorations.

References to the Kellogg Scottish origins include a Lion Rampant stamped into the plaster of the library, the living room ceiling plastered with a rose and thistle design, and thistle in many light fixtures and sconces.

Outside in back are manicured grounds overlooking Gull Lake.
Pretty spectacular and worth a visit, although I'd do it in summer when the grounds are in all their glory.



2018 Winter Holidays in MICHIGAN

This year has gone by so fast and it was a good one for us. We have some trip blogging catch up to do, but decided we needed a little holiday message first.

Just before the holidays, my fellow authors of Library Ladies of Kalamazoo: Home and History had lunch at the Park Club. I always have a fabulous time with these precious friends.

We got together at my sister's for Thanksgiving. A smaller group, but mom was there and we all had a great visit. Dinner was a choice of ham and/or beef, augmented with lots of veggies. We tried cauliflower-three-ways, which was fun. I liked two out of the three! Mike and I brought homemade Banana Split Pie for dessert. It is layers of shortbread crust / chocolate pudding / sliced bananas / vanilla pudding / sliced strawberries / cool whip topping with scattered walnuts and maraschino cherry halves. It was pretty much gone in a flash.

In between holidays Aunt Terry and Uncle Bob from France and cousin Matt from Pennsylvania came for a visit. Our first meal was at Steak'n'Shake. When Bob & Terry met in their college days, S&S was the chain restaurant where they courted. So eating at this sister location is always a sentimental choice whenever they visit.

The next day we attended the live-in-cinema version of the opera LaTraviata performed by the NY Met. I watch these events at home on the small screen when public TV produces them, but it was truly spectacular on the big screen. Later that evening, the family took our visitors out to dinner at the Park Club in downtown Kalamazoo. It was fun being round a big "family" table.

The next day we gathered at Laur's for a day for football and snacking. It was the Pittsburg Steelers (their team) over the Patriots. Lots of encouragement and merriment over that. Food included quiches-two-ways. How French of us! We ate breakfast together the next morning and sent them on their way.

A couple of days before Christmas I went to the W. K. Kellogg Manor House. See next blog page for the lowdown.

Christmas was at our lil brother's. They always decorate so nicely at their classic old farm house. There we had prime rib and/or ham and veggies. I brought a mac'n'cheese with bacon bits mixed in. Lots of presents to open all around. Fleece blankets, airplane socks, toe rings, car vac, and much more for us. We give little ditties and some "everything" seasoning mix that I concocted. All the kids got wood models of dinosaurs to build.

Here's Kev in the kitchen and a few of the crew.

Everything about the holidays was wonderful. We didn't stress, got great gifts, fabulous food, but best was seeing all the family. The only issue was I gained 5 pounds between October and the first of the year. Back on the old weight watchers band wagon.

13 November 2018

11/13/2018 - History of a Rock

In early October this year, we took a driving trip around several Midwest states. One of our stops was Marquette, Michigan. At the Landmark Hotel, we found this green painted rock (maybe 4" x 2") leaning on the wall outside the lobby door.

So a few days later we went to https://www.facebook.com/groups/PHMRocks/ and reported where we found "our" rock and mentioned that we re-hid it in Wisconsin. It was in full view, but amongst a huge pile of other rocks. We were hoping the bright green color would catch someone's attention.

So today I was checking back and, low and behold, someone found our rock in Eagle River, Wisconsin and reported the find.

We wondered who found our rock. An employee of the Wild Eagle Lodge? A guest? So we sent this message. No answer yet.

What fun. Hope we can follow our rock further.

As of December 30, no more action on the rock.

06 November 2018

11/6/2018 - We Love our Stylist

...our hair stylist, that is. She is Amanda of Captain Amanda's Radiance Salon in Otsego, Michigan. The Captain part might sound a bit odd, but I'll tell you about that later.
We started with Amanda because of a GroupOn coupon. That was about five years ago and she was so fantastic that we became loyal clients. Her salon used to be in Richland, Michigan, about 15 miles from our home. Recently she moved to Otsego, a tad bit further for us to drive, but easier because it is mostly freeway.

She owns the building now (actually a converted "antique" home) in this quaint little town. Decor is fabulous with crystal chandeliers and colors done in silver and shades of purple. Lots of good light and plenty of room to spread out.

Amanda cuts both Mike and my hair and does a fabulous job on both. Here is a photo of her at work on Mike's head. She also trims his ears and brows. Yah!!
She has worked with me through ½-inch pixie short to almost collar length. She's always flexible with good ideas because I like to mix it up. She does a great cut, but color is her favorite, although I'm not ready to delve back into that yet.

We've recommended several friends, but one of her biggest fans is 92-year old Inda (mother of our neighbor). She has very fine hair, but with a wave (not shown well in the photo). She swears no one could cut it right to get the nice wave how she likes it until she found Amanda. 
OK, so now about the "Captain" part. Amanda is an avid fisher woman. She has been a lot of places including Alaska to enjoy that fun hobby. So she got inspired to earn a merchant marine license which allows her to captain a ship up to 50,000 tons.

At this time she mostly assists other captains because she doesn't own her own boat yet. She is also a rep for a line of fishing tackle. This poster hangs on one wall in her hallway and she can tell you a lot about fishing...smiling all the while.
She also does driftwood art and rock painting. She surprises me on just about every visit with some new story about her adventures.
So an all around great hair stylist in a wonderful location and fabulous atmosphere. We always share inspiring and educational conversations, chatting about everything under the sun. And did I mention the price is right.

23 September 2018

June 2018 WISCONSIN to Home 8 - Cheese Please

We cabbed back to the hotel. Another dicey but safe trip from our cab driver.

The next morning, after a hotel buffet breakfast, we headed back to Palatine. On the way we stopped at the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It was a quick off-and-on from the freeway.

We browsed the huge facility. So many varieties of domestic and international cheeses. They have many samples to taste. Wisconsin's famous cheese curds below.
They also have a large selection of beer and wine for sale.

A nice room for cheese and beverage tastings. Also, cheese head hats for sale. Not my style.

We chose Uniekaas reserve gouda, Henning's fenugreek cheddar, vampire garlic slayer, and some jerkies for Mike. The best was a maple infused white cheddar. Doesn't sound like a good combo, but it was delish.
It took an hour longer to get home than to get there. Traffic was pretty much at a standstill for much of I-80 and I-94 in Illinois and Indiana. It is always a pleasure to cross the the Indiana-Michigan state line. This "lighthouse" is at the state line Welcome Center, an icon depicting the many Michigan lighthouses. Back to home sweet home.

15 September 2018

June 2018 WISCONSIN Milwaukee 7 - James and Bonnie Concert

It was just over a mile from our hotel to the Lake Michigan Summerfest site. It was still dripping hot, so this time we took a cab. Our driver was pretty gutsy, but also pretty safe. Drop-off was a block from the entrance. What excitement--James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt on the same bill.

Thankfully we had our tickets in hand as there was a line at the will-call window. We waltzed right in. Summerfest is advertised as the world's largest music festival and is set up in a fair-style atmosphere. On the 75-acre site are carnival rides, typical fair food stands (hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob dipped in vats of butter, funnel cake, etc.), and several stages for simultaneous music events.

We had about an hour before the concert started, so we slowly sauntered over to our music venue. On the way we grabbed a bite and a beverage and perused the t-shirt stand. Mike and Nancy made a purchase there.
The major venue was huge with seating for 23,000 peeps. Most of it was stadium chairs, but some lawn seating rimmed the top. That is the biggest outdoor venue we've ever seen. Not many there when we arrived, but it was cool and comfortable with the large canopy and light breeze.

We sat about in the middle of the red "3" on the right side. Darn good seats!
We people watched and chatted while we waited.

It didn't take too long for the place to fill up.
Bonnie Raitt's sock monkey sat on an amp. I tried to find out the meaning behind that little monkey, but it has alluded me. I guess it is an inside joke.

Bonnie and James came out together to start the show. She in her flaming red hair. He is his newsboy hat. They played maybe two songs and then Bonnie took over.

She had been out of the loop for a while with medical issues, but she was back tonight with a vengeance. A gorgeous, strong voice. Among other faves she sang "I Can't Make You Love Me," "Thing Called Love," "Since I Fell for You." and, of course, "Something to Talk About."
 Backgrounds changed across a big screen. This first was Bonnie's.

These showed behind James. He talked about this house as though it was his own and maybe it was at some point. He talked about his family and his dog. So personal and personable.
 This was my fave though. Gritty New York.
James Taylor played so many faves--"Fire and Rain," Carolina on my Mind," "How Sweet It Is," "Sweet Baby James," "You've Got a Friend," and more. With most songs he told a little story on the background of it. Made them even more special.

At one point he pointed out that the moon was rising behind us over Lake Michigan (to the left). It was beautiful with silhouettes in front of it.
It was a long and wonderful concert. The back-up players were fabulous, too. Luis Conte on percussion and what a set-up. He was born in Cuba, so you know he's got the beat. Steve Gadd on drums, of Modern Drummer Hall of Fame fame. Michito Sanchez on percussion who previously played with Elton John and Cosby, Stills, and Nash. Walter Fowler on keyboard and horns. Vocals  were Arnold McCullar (back-up for many famous singers) and Kate Markowitz. And on fiddle was Andrea Zonn. There were a few more, but these stood out.

Here's the fair as we departed.