December 10, 2009
Local slopes ready for Skiers
Snow is a welcome sight at area ski slopes. Last week Crystal Mountain had bare ground. But with over 12" of natural snow, plus 24-hour snowmaking, Crystal Mountain will open for skiers on Friday, December 11th.
Here’s the scoop:
Operating Hours & Rate Information
Here are the operating hours and lift ticket rates for this week:
Friday, December 11th: 12 to 8 pm
Saturday, December 12th: 9 am to 8 pm
Sunday, December 13th: 9 am to 6 pm
Monday-Thursday, December 14-17: 12 to 6 pm
Lift ticket rates are $25 (adults 16+) and $15 (juniors 9-15) through Thursday, December 17th. Children 8 & under FREE.
Friday, December 18th (5 for $50 Friday): 9 am to 9 pm
Friday, December 19th: Open for the season. Midweek rates apply. See lift ticket rates.
5 Lift Tickets for $50! Friday, December 18th
Bring a group of up to five skiers & riders to Crystal Mountain on Friday, December 18th and you all ski and ride for only $50!
Check out the snow report at crystalmountain.com/snow for the latest updates.
December 10, 2009
Celebrate the Holidays in Downtown Traverse City
Downtown has lots of fun in store for Holiday shoppers this Christmas season. The events begin tonight, with Ladies Night, followed by the Downtown Open House, the ever popular Men’s Shopping Night and a special Shop and Win special. Here’s all the details:
Thursday, December 10
Downtown Traverse City will be hosting Ladies Night, Thursday, December 10 from 5 to 9 pm. Visit participating stores for specials, refreshments, prize drawings, free gift wrapping and more! Caroling throughout the evening.
Downtown Open House
Friday, December 11
Share the spirit of the season with family and friends while merchants throughout the Downtown district host open houses and in-store specials Friday, December 11. Participating stores will be open until 10 pm offering store specials, free gift wrapping, food, refreshments and more! Bringing a little bit of the islands to winter in Downtown Traverse City, a student Steel Drum Band will be performing at the corner of Cass and E. Front from 6 – 8 pm. Horse & Carriage Rides from Abraham Carriage Service will be available at an affordable price from 6-9 pm. Caroling will take place throughout the evening with the Sweet Adelines and students from TC West High School while Santa will be in his house visiting with little ones.
Men’s Night Downtown
Thursday, December 17
Gentlemen, the evening is yours, finally! Celebrate and shop with friends during Men’s Night Downtown on Thursday, December 17. The gents can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and specials at many restaurants and merchants will be offering in-store specials, gift wrapping and drawings.
Shop Downtown and Win!
Spend $200 in Downtown Traverse City between December 1-10, 2009 and enter to win a $250 Downtown Shopping Spree. It’s easy to enter. Visit the Downtown Office no later than December 11, 2009, show your receipts totaling $200 in purchases between December 1-10, 2009 and enter to win. The drawing will take place on Monday, December 14, 2009. And don’t forget to keep your dollars local this holiday shopping season, Downtown Gift Certificates Make the Perfect Gift!
Santa will be visiting with little ones in his house at the corner of Cass and E. Front throughout the holiday season.
Santa’s Arrival: 11/27
6 – 8 pm
Saturdays: 11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19
11 am – 4 pm
Sundays: 11/29, 12/6, 12/13, 12/20
1 – 4 pm
Fridays: 12/4, 12/18
5 – 8 pm
Extended hours: December 21, 22 & 23
3 – 7 pm
Christmas Eve: 12/24
Noon – 3 pm
Parking - Free and Easy!
The price is right for downtown parking this holiday season. Two-hour free parking will be offered at the Larry C. Hardy Parking Deck. And, remember, parking at the two hour meters is always free for the first 30-minutes, so enjoy Downtown! Downtown parking in the Hardy Deck is also free after 5 pm and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Downtown Holidays are hosted by the over 150 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or visit their website at www.downtowntc.com
December 9, 2009
Grand Traverse Heritage Center welcomes railway fans to 2009 Festival of Trains
Monday, December 14th through Sunday, January 3rd at the Grand Traverse Heritage Center, 322 Sixth Street, in Traverse City.
A special holiday celebration takes place each year in the heart of Traverse City. Thousands of visitors arrive at the old Library to stare in awe at the amazing miniature landscape before them. Dozens of model trains, in all shapes and sizes, traverse elaborate landscapes throughout the Grand Traverse Heritage Center. The Festival of Trains is the largest fundraiser of the year for the G.T.H.C., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting, and presenting the history of Traverse City and the Grand Traverse region.
Volunteers from the Northern Michigan Railroad Club begin assembling the amazing display around Labor Day. When the holiday season arrives, and guests fill the rooms, they’re immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the railroad. Children gather close to the table-height displays and peer anxiously around corners waiting for the next train to zip past. Whie the engines and tracks are a ‘look but don’t touch’ exhibit, there are interactive areas where kids can control track direction, blow the whistle or raise a drawbridge.
This year Thomas the Tank engine fans are in for a special treat. An interactive cab station will allow them to step up and control the trains!
The Festival of Trains offers a train-related raffle and conductor’s gift shop with holiday and railroad themed gifts for the entire family.
Hours for the popular festival are 2pm-7pm December 14th-18th. Then, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m December 19th – Jan. 3rd. On Sundays & New Year’s Day, the trains will run from noon to 4 pm. Closed Christmas Day.
Admission is $5 per adult, $3 per senior (age 65 plus), $2 per youth (ages 4 through 17), and children 3 and under are free. A family pass is available at $20 for unlimited visits to the festival by parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren.
December 7, 2009
"A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL"
December 11-13, Corson Auditorium
Friday & Saturday, 7:30pm; Saturday & Sunday, 2pm
Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of redemption and kindness comes alive in a spectacular musical production. Called by The New York Times "a tonic for adults, and for children a transfixing journey," this enchanting holiday classic features a beautiful score by composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) and lyricist Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Seussical: The Musical). Order tickets online at tickets.interlochen.org
December 4, 2009
Hometown Guide for Holiday Gifts
When the holidays roll around it’s no surprise that I like to spend time searching for unique regional gifts to share with friends and relatives who appreciate the Traverse City area from afar. This year I’ve canvased the area, looking for fun and interesting items that won’t break the bank. From food & beverages, to art and fashion, there’s plenty of ways to suprise your loved ones with a gift from Northern Michigan.
Northern Michigan is home to dozens of fabulous food companies, too many to mention here. Instead I’ve picked a few of my personal favorites, and asked my customers and friends what they would recommend.
Cherry Gifts and Goodies
Looking for a quick and easy gift thats ready to ship? The Cherry Stop is one of my favorite shops because they have such a wide selection of cherry products and other northern Michigan favorites. Pick up a pre-packaged gift set, labeled with images of the bays, for as little as $12. Dried fruits, salsas, BBQ sauce, candies, you name it. Great for summer "lakies" who are missing their cabin this time of year.
Naturally Nutty Nut Butters
I was lucky enough to tour Naturally Nutty’s production facility in Acme last fall and see how hand-crafted these nut butters really are. Since then my husband and I are hooked. My personal favorite is the Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower butter. I can’t believe there’s no sugar added. They’re full of Omega-3 with flaxseed and hempseed, so there’s simply no guilt. A little pricy, but I think some things are worth it. Available at The Cherry Stop, and Olesons food stores, as well as online.
Fustini’s Oil & Vinegar Holiday Packs
Jim and Lane are always coming up with amazing infusions for their balsamics and extra virgin olive oils. This holiday season create a custom holiday 4-pack or pick up one of their recommended combinations. My current favorites are the Sage & Mushroom EVOO and the Cinnamon Pear Balsamic vinegar.
Check out our recent post on Holiday Recipes for a suggestion on using the Cinnamon Pear.
For the Home
Michigan Cutting Boards
Here’s a great idea for the Michigan foodie, a hardwood cutting board in the shape of our great state. Made in Petoskey from Michigan maple it’s a beautiful addition to gift baskets. Recommended by Peppercorn owner, Judy Izard. Available at Peppercorn in Downtown Traverse City.
Looking for a great hostess gift? How about a cutting board with some raclette by Leelanau Cheese Company. Pick up a wedge at local grocery stores or stop in at the winery at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, home to Leelanau Cheese makers John and Anne Hoyt.
Ceramic Home Decor
One of my new favorite shops is At Home in downtown Suttons Bay. I always find unique and beautiful home decor in their store. Top on my list are the whimsical ceramic creations by artist Geri Mateus, of Aida, MI. This summer I fell in love with her creative marshmellow skewers, long enough for the most inexperienced roaster to stay safe. The decorative handles are ceramic, colorful and include clever phrases like "Roast ‘em and Toast ‘em". For the holidays she’s made santa and snowmen decorative stakes for brightening up that poinsettia plant. Or pick out a plaque or large ceramic star. So next time you’re in Suttons Bay, look north for the lime green awning and you’ll find yourself At Home.
You probably have a few children on your shopping list so I had to share a perennial favorite gift for the wee ones. Michigan Artists Gallery, also in downtown Suttons Bay, has a selection of clever Peek-A-Boo Pillows that make excellent baby and toddler gifts. Each design is handmade by a mother/daughter team. Patterns vary from ballerina princess, to the ever popular northwoods moose. Each pillow has a center flap with velcro enclosure that hides the stuffed animal inside. Large, medium and wee sizes available.
OK, these may not be exclusively local, but they are still HOT! Last spring I treated myself to a Miche Bag and have had a steady stream of compliments ever since. If you haven’t seen these purses there’s some explanation required. Start with one basic purse, black or brown, and then customize your look in seconds with different colorful wraps. The trick is…the covers are magnetic. And while they may not be made locally, you can still support a local business with a purchase. I picked mine up at Interquilten, a cute fabric store on M-137 in Interlochen. They have dozens of designs to choose from. And just like other collectables the cover designs are eventually "retired" so your purse is more unique.
Tea-riffic Cup and Great Lakes Teas
Teas are becoming ever more popular. Here’s my favorite combo for the tea-lover in your family. The Tea-riffic thermal tea cup is perfect for those who love loose tea and only brew a cup or two at a time. It includes a removable mesh canister for holding loose tea. And the thermal sides and tight sealing lid keep tea hot. Available in pink or clear, at Peppercorn in downtown Traverse City.
I also love the unique flavors of Great Lakes Tea and Spice teas. Their tiny shop is located in Glen Arbor, where you can smell and sample some of their teas. You can also pick them up in many local stores as well as by mail order or on their website.
Bea’s Dog Walking Mittens
These mittens are not just beautiful and warm, but they’re recycled and just plain clever. Take an 80 year old woman in Frankfort, give her some old sweaters, scarves and such and she’ll turn them into one-of-a-kind mittens. Each pair is colorful and unique. And some of them have the added benefit of a pocket on top of the hand; perfect for hiding a few dog-bones and a baggie for those cold morning walks. So creative. Available at Gallery 50 in the mercado inside The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
Guys, Gals or Geeks
Massage is a great gift for anyone, but those of us Moms could especially use the treat. I discovered Susan Campeau massage and have found great relief for my recurring headaches. If you, or someone you know is suffering from chronic pain, or just needs to relieve tension from everyday life, I’d highly recommend a massage from Susan. Her combination of simple aromatherapy, a soothing location and theraputic massage is the perfect way to relax this holiday season. And a gift certificate is good all year long. Call Susan at 231.714.2879
You may not get a chance to meet Mario Batali, but you could still have his autograph. Brilliant Books in Suttons Bay carries several of his cookbooks, many of which include the John Hancock of this local celebrity. Not into autographed cookbooks? Well as long as you’re there, check out the amazing selection of other local authors and Best Sellers as well. What I love about Brilliant Books is that if Peter can’t find what you need in the store, he’ll order it and ship it at no extra cost. You’ve got to love local ownership.
If you’re looking for something "out of this world" how about an autographed copy of Off the Planet, by US astronaut, and Suttons Bay resident, Jerry Linenger. Order a copy from Murdicks Fudge Shoppe and they’ll get it personalized for you. Now that’s a unique gift.
Pirates Cove Gift Certificates
Have kids that are hard to buy for? Teens and tweens that want nothing more than video games or clothes? Why not surprise them with gift certificates to Pirates Cove. From mini-golf, to waterslides and now the amazing zipline and ropes course there’s a reason for all the kids to get outside for some hands-on fun. Don’t get me wrong, Pirates Cove isn’t just for the kids. In fact, it could be a great place for a company retreat. Of course, you’ll have to wait ’till spring, but pick up your gift certificates for the holidays. Call 231.883.7374 for all the details.
‘Just Between Frank & Betsie’ Screensaver
If you know someone who loves the Frankfort area, or is a fan of Lighthouses, then this is the perfect gift. Jay Burt, a Benzie amateur photographer, has created a fantastic screensaver entitled "Just Between Frank & Betsie". It includes over 135 photos taken throughout the year that showcase the beauty of the lakeshore from Frankfort to Point Betsie Lighthouse. You can pick up the CD at The Book Store in downtown Frankfort, or on Jay’s website, walksoftlyphotos.com.
For the Wine Lover
Ladies, let’s face it, we love purses. And many of us love wine. So why not a purse for the wine lover. These handmade cork purses are available in several sizes at Gallery 50 in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. You’ll recognize corks from local wineries like Left Foot Charley, Willow, Black Star Farms and Boskydel, and other well known vintners as well. I’ve made wine cork wreaths, corkboards and I’ve even seen a bathroom wall covered in corks (check out Chateau Fontaine if you don’t believe me), but I’ve never seen a cork purse, before now.
Sparkling Wines for the Holidays
Drive, sprint or race to your nearest Black Star Farms tasting room and pick up the last of the 2009 Bubbly Nouveau before it’s gone. It reminds me of green apple with just the right sweetness and spritz to liven up the party.
If you arrive too late, fear not. There are other local sparklers that will leave your guests wanting more. Also check out 2 Lads Winery for their Sparkling Pinot Grigio. This will also sell out, so don’t wait for the ball to drop on this one either.
Cherry Wine from the Cherry Stop
I asked Jamie, owner of The Cherry Stop, for her top picks for Cherry Wines. It was a tough call, and they all have their own merits, but Jamie’s top three include Chateau Fontaine, Bel Lago, and the Cherry Stop cherry wine produced by Peninsula Cellars. If you’ve never had cherry wine, you can give them all a try at the new wine bar in the back of the Cherry Stop called Uncorked. Compare several and decide for yourself. The Cherry Stop offers selections from all the local wineries so it’s a great one-stop local wine shop.
That wraps it up for my 2009 Holiday Gift Guide. I hope you find what you’re looking for this holiday season. Happy shopping, and Happy Holidays!