2014 in review

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Halfway Intelligence was viewed about 590 times in 2014 by people from 49 different countries — not too shabby for my first year as a blogger. Thanks for reading!

Click here to see the complete report.

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Stuff your stocking with specialty coffee

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Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer this holiday season? Coffee Break in Eastpointe sells one-pound packages of small-batch roasted coffee beans from countries around the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhole bean selections come from Brazil, Costa Rica, Columbia, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Congo, Indonesia, Sumatra, Ethiopia and Kenya – and the list continues to grow. Priced at just $11.99 a bag, compared to $14.95 at Starbucks, not only are you acquiring a unique gift, but a great deal too.

Coffee Break is a cozy and chic coffee house that offers big-chain quality with small business appeal. Dim pendant lights, custom-laid floor tiles, charming bistro tables and free Wi-Fi create a comfortable environment for any coffee lover. The rear alcove also features a sleek leather couch facing a flat screen TV mounted above a blazing fireplace.

While you’re there, take a break from your Christmas shopping and relax with a hot cup of coffee, latte, cappuccino or espresso – my favorite is the marshmallow latte. They also serve a wide variety of bag and loose-leaf tea with festive flavors including hot cinnamon spice, ginger and licorice, cranberry autumn, spiced plum, chocolate mint and organic peppermint. Coffee Break also has a limited menu consisting of sandwiches, baklava, handmade shortbread, pastries and more.

Conveniently located on 10 Mile between Kelly Road and I-94 (just a mile from where I-696 meets I-94), Coffee Break has been operating in Eastpointe for four years. Just a stone’s throw away from Sugarbush Tavern, a prominent sidewalk promotes walkability among other neighboring businesses including Mario’s Meats, Little Italy Pizzeria and Fairway Drugs.

Vastly versatile, Coffee Break can accommodate any coffee enthusiast’s whim, whether you are looking for a meeting spot to catch up with old friends, to explore a new taste from across the world or to simply obtain your caffeine fix. Coffee Break coffee is sure to delight whoever receives it this holiday season!

Coffee Break photo

19156 E. 10 Mile Road, Eastpointe 48021 (586) 362-8683

 Hours
Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Dec. 22, 2014.

Find made-in-Michigan and vintage gifts at Iron Ivy

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen looking for holiday gifts this year, Iron Ivy is the perfect place to shop. This local business is full of antique and vintage items ranging from feathered hats and sequined purses, dinnerware and china, toolboxes and crates with classic logos to furniture and lamps. They also carry a great selection of made-in-Michigan products handcrafted by 20 metro Detroit artists.

The owners of Iron Ivy are Jim and Donna Jalosky. Married for 39 years, they have always collected antiques. Jim knew how to weld from working in a collision shop, and when he taught Donna, these skills soon translated into art.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom bugs a few inches tall to giant 6-foot birds, Jim and Donna produce sculptures made from upcycled metal. This means that they turn anything and everything into art. Shovel heads are crafted into faces, dogs are constructed from tool boxes and watering cans and ostrich-type birds have buckets for bodies. Each is a one-of-a-kind, whimsical piece.

As a hobby, Jim and Donna started welding out of their garage in 1998. When they outgrew their space, they moved into a workshop on 9 Mile. In 2011, they landed in their present location on Gratiot near 10 Mile in Eastpointe. They live in Warren and really enjoy working close to home. They would like to see the area grow into a strip of specialty shops, making it an artistic destination on the eastside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey worked for three years to renovate the current facility, adding artistic touches wherever possible. A tile mosaic stream cuts a serpentine path along a portion of the floor. It incorporates tumbling stones found in a decaying rural building and features fish comprised of broken pottery from a vendor at Eastern Market. They also added large windows facing Gratiot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIron Ivy artwork is sprinkled throughout Eastpointe. The public art can be found in the median in front of the store (Gratiot and 10 Mile), in the garden in front of Andary’s Family Grill and adorning the walls inside (Gratiot and Semrau Avenue), at the entrance of the Urban Seed Community Garden (9 Mile and Pleasant Avenue) and in the city manager’s office in city hall (Gratiot and Aurora Avenue).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to Jim and Donna’s metal creations, also interspersed throughout the store are handmade items by other local artists including jewelry, fused-glass pieces, photography and pottery from two local potters with 30 years of experience. There are items made out of license plates, framed word art made from photographs and collages.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne artist recovers discarded bricks from Detroit onto which he transposes photographs. Another artist sews pieces of fabric from old jackets into purses and transforms the comfort and warmth of sweaters into stylish gloves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIron Ivy offers a wide array of trinkets, accessories, home goods and art. Just in time for the holiday, they are also stocking their shelves with vintage Christmas items, including ornaments. Shop local this year and walk away with some truly special gifts.

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24935 Gratiot Avenue, Eastpointe, MI 48021 (586) 381-2119

Hours
Tuesday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Monday and Friday

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Dec. 12, 2014.

A cut above the rest

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Mr. Paul’s Chophouse is a place you want to know. It oozes old-school charm. Tucked away in a primarily industrial area in Roseville, it might be easy to miss. However, when you walk through the door, the dim lighting draws you into the elegant, intimate world that is Mr. Paul’s Chophouse, set apart from the rush hour traffic whizzing down Groesbeck.

With a rich background in the food industry, brothers Paul and Peter Gogo founded Mr. Paul’s Chophouse in 1968. It is now run by three of Paul’s sons, Paul Jr., Chris and Peter. I had the opportunity to go on a tour (where I even ended up in the walk-in refrigerator!) and speak with Paul Jr. about the family business.

Paul Jr. has been with the restaurant from the very beginning, learning every aspect of the business.  He always knew he would follow in his father’s footsteps, and the part he enjoys most about his job is his guests, many of whom he knows by name.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you first enter the restaurant, you pass through a small waiting room where the ambiance is set by a trickling fountain.  There are two dining areas, one with an inviting bar with mirrored panels and glistening bottles and glasses lining the shelves, the other with an elegant baby grand piano. There are cozy booths, chic tables layered in linens and exposed brick walls adorned by paintings.

In the kitchen, I saw carts stocked with all the ingredients needed to make fresh Caesar salads (even the dressing is made from scratch) ready to be rolled out to the awaiting diners and prepared on the spot. A chief was chopping romaine lettuce and lemons and another was preparing the famous Chateaubriand. This romantic meal for two is served on one platter within a flaming ring.

Don’t get me wrong, the food is excellent, but the special touches and unique presentation make dining in an experience to remember. “It really is a lost art, the tableside cooking,” co-owner Peter Gogo told the Macomb Daily in 2002. “It allows us to be acquainted with the customer on a more personal level.”

I celebrated my five-year anniversary here. My husband and I got dolled up for the evening and were seated at a cozy booth near the piano where the player took requests. I enjoyed a glass of merlot; steamed mussels with white wine, garlic and lemon; the classic Caesar salad made tableside; and charbroiled filet mignon – and savored every bite.

Mr. Paul’s Chophouse is the definition of fine dining in Macomb County and has played an integral part in the community for years as a destination for family celebrations, business meetings and special occasions. Many engagements have occurred here throughout the years, cementing it as a memorable place in many couples’ hearts.

But it is also a place full of “the regulars.” You don’t need to be celebrating a birthday or on your first date in order to enjoy a nice pork chop or their popular sautéed lake perch. Whether you want to get on a first name basis with the bartender or treat yourself to an item on the surprisingly affordable lunch menu, there’s a spot waiting for you.

While many things have changed since 1968, Mr. Paul’s Chophouse continues to offer the staples that it was founded upon, fresh food and excellent service. By staying true to its form throughout the years, Mr. Paul’s Chophouse has somehow managed to stay as relevant and innovative as ever – a true original.

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29850 Groesbeck Highway, Roseville 48066 (586) 777-7770

 Mr. Paul’s Chophouse Dinner Menu

Hours
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Dec. 10, 2014.