Summer amusements for the urbanite

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Growing up in Southeast Michigan, I am accustomed to going Up North during the summer months. Landlocked seas of pavement give way to green fields, tall pines and beautiful bodies of water. I drop my bags off in the cabin and head out to the beach with a book and a raft, and I’m set for the week.

As I grow older and my immediate family grows, it has become harder to vacation as a family. The last time I went fishing with my dad and sisters was probably 10 years ago. But I don’t have to wait for the next chaotic vacation or drive hundreds of miles to spend some quality time fishing with family. Fish Headz Sport Fishing Charters and Mr. Muskie Charters of St. Clair Shores offer fishing charters on Lake St. Clair where bass, muskie, perch, sturgeon and walleye are abundant.

paddleThere are other watersport opportunities nearby, like taking standup paddleboard lessons with St. Clair Shores-based Great Lakes Surf Shop. Lessons are on Thursday evenings at Lake St. Clair Metropark. They make it easy for you, providing the board, equipment and experienced instructors.

You can also rent paddleboards, Jet Skis and kayaks at Simple Adventures. They have a location on 9 Mile Road but will deliver anywhere in Macomb County. Rentals include delivery and pickup, life jacket, paddle and safety kit. You can even book a kayak and be on the Clinton River in downtown Mount Clemens for the fireworks tomorrow night!

Detroit River Sports is another kayaking or paddleboard option. In addition to rentals, they offer kayak tours on the Eastside Canal, Detroit River and to Belle Isle. Being in the water with the Detroit skyline as a backdrop can be just as peaceful and inspiring as a view of the pines.

With so many options, and babysitters, close to home, there’s no reason not to get out on the water and enjoy nature in an urban setting.

DRS+kayaker+downtown

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Dig into music this summer

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Take a break from spring cleaning and yard work to indulge in your musical side. Explore your local music store, splurge on an instrument upgrade or invest in yourself by developing new talents through music lessons. To give you an idea of what’s out there, here is a brief look at three independently-owned music stores.

ArdisOwned by Mark Kunnert, Ardis Music in Mount Clemens has been open since 1972. Located in the county seat, a notable portion of their customers include judges, attorneys and sheriff officers. Kunnert says when kids take music lessons at his shop, often parents do too as a way to become involved. When asked what instrument Kunnert recommends for a beginner, he said to go with the child’s choice, or you’ll never win.

“Make them stick to it,” said Kunnert. “Practice is the key.”

A full-line music store, some of the most popular items at Ardis Music are guitars, books and reeds, but they also carry unique items such as bagpipes and gongs. They also pride themselves on providing personalized service.

Huber BreeseLast month, Huber Breese Music on Groesbeck in Fraser celebrated 44 years in business. Some of their most popular products include guitars, drums, keyboards and amplifiers. Their guitars start at $99 and top out at $50,000 – a limited edition Epiphone Texan signed by Paul McCartney. In addition to unique and collectible guitars, Huber Breese Music also carries all the major brands such as Fender, Gibson, Martin and Taylor. When asked what makes his store unique, owner Paul Huber says longevity.

“We offer sales, service and lessons. Many employees have been here for 40 years and are extremely knowledgeable.”

And Huber’s favorite part of owning a music store? Teaching people to play. Originally started as a teaching studio, Huber Breese Music has helped thousands of students learn to play over the years.

Joe's Music BJoe Pistorio owns Joe’s Music which has been on Gratiot in Eastpointe since 1980. While they sell everything from keyboards to drums and horns, their specialty lies in carrying guitar brands you can’t find everywhere else, such as Reverend, Heritage and CMG. Joe’s Music also offers a variety of music lessons and has a large repair shop.

“We can fix pretty much anything and can answer any question as well,” said Pistorio, crediting his experienced staff who have been with him for many years. “I’m fortunate to get to do this every day and make a living talking to people who play instruments and showing them how to be better players. It’s very rewarding.”

There are many great music stores located throughout metro Detroit, packed with shiny new instruments, durable gear for rent and passionate staff who want to guide you to achieve your musical ambitions. And each store owner I talked with said the same thing – they offer music lessons to a wide spectrum of students. It’s never too early or too late to learn!

Ardis Music
49 North Walnut St., Mount Clemens, MI 48043
(586) 468-0282
Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Closed Sunday

Huber Breese Music
33540 Groesbeck Hwy., Fraser, MI 48026
(586) 294-3950
Monday – Friday noon to 8 p.m.
Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Sunday

Joe’s Music
24525 Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe, MI 48021
(586) 777-2333
Monday – Tuesday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Sunday

A version of this article was posted on The Make Macomb Your Home Blog.

New coffee haus in the Clem

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Downtown Mount Clemens is a cross section of Macomb County life. People from all over the county come to the city every day to work, conduct government business and go to school. It is a place where politicians, reporters, county employees, construction workers, judges and students all come together.

And something all of these diverse people have in common? Coffee. Yes, that comforting liquid that is part of our morning ritual, that caffeine boost that gets us through the day, that delicious beverage that makes all of us a little kinder to our fellow human beings. For too long, downtown Mount Clemens was missing an independent coffee purveyor. I am happy to report that this is no longer the case.

019.JPGMinha’s Coffee Haus, located at 58 Cherry St. (next to the exceptional Thai Orchid), is open for business. Just in the beginning phase, this business is starting small, taking its time and carefully planning for future growth. Deliberate thought has gone into every decision – everything from the compostable cups, to the Coca Cola products in glass bottles, to the inviting yellow paint on the walls. Extensive research went into picking the right coffee bean supplier. They decided to go with Dean’s Beans because they are fair trade, organic and kosher.

This is a family business run by Sora Childress, who grew up living in Korea, China, Germany and France. Childress worked as a sports journalist, but the nature of her work started colliding with her growing family, so she began looking into entrepreneurship.

023.JPG“I wanted to own a business to have more control over my life,” said Childress. It gives her the flexibility she needs to spend time with her family, in particular with her son Ilan who works behind the counter. “We’re a close-knit family.”

Minha’s Coffee Haus has clearly taken on the personality of its owners. It is relaxed and friendly with an international flair. While I was there, the baristas were talking in French to one another and Childress and a customer broke out in German. There are plans to offer international baked goods in the future.

“We wanted to do something true to us, something multicultural,” said Childress, whose mother is Korean and father is German.

She created a space that is open to everyone. That’s why a large coffee is only $1.70, because she wanted anyone to be able to afford a cup – whether it is the high-powered attorney or the high school kid on probation. Childress is also hoping to provide the community a place to connect with one another, a place where the attorney and the high school kid can have a conversation. That’s why there are no TVs, just comfortable seating and light music.

Minha’s Coffee Haus’ inclusive and creative attitude is certain to foster growth and evolution in unexpected and exciting ways. The next time you find yourself in downtown Mount Clemens for a festival, work, school, jury duty or because you live here, grab an espresso or Mexican hot chocolate and give this new local business a try – and be sure to say bonjour to the friendly staff!

58 Cherry Street, Mount Clemens, MI 48043
(586) 292-7007

Hours
MondayFriday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Sunday

To learn how the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is assisting this small business, read more at the Macomb Business blog.

How to keep metro Detroit kids happy at the tail end of winter

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With the weather hovering between icy wind and mild temperatures, kids are getting antsy for spring. Until you can simply send your little one outside for hours of amusement, here are some ideas to keep them happy and occupied.

Make a special occasion out of going to the theater. The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township is showing the children’s classic “Charolotte’s Web” March 23 and 24. Your adolescent might enjoy “Rock of Ages” put on by the Clintondale Community Theatre the first two weekends in May.

The Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens offers youth art classes. March’s classes are 3-D Map, Illuminated Monogram and Impressions. April’s classes follow an upcycling theme. No appointment is needed to create your own art at Plaster Playhouse in Shelby Township. Simply choose your piece of plaster or pottery and start painting!

Boost your baby’s brain power through programs offered at your local library. Throughout the year, the Clinton-Macomb Public Library offers storytime sessions including Baby Time, Tot Time, Little Listeners, Preschool, Music & Movement and Pajamarama. My daughter loves Pajama Storytime at the Eastpointe Memorial Library, where kids dress in their pajamas, bring their favorite stuffed animal to hold and listen to the youth librarian read stories.

Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department to see what seasonal offerings are scheduled. The Warren Community Center boasts an indoor waterpark comprised of a lap pool, pool basketball, waterslide, lazy river and play structure complete with a water cannon and waterfall. Other nice amenities for adults include a sauna, steam room and fitness room.

Get hands-on and join your kid for a skate around the rink. The St. Clair Shores Ice Arena has public skating from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It is $3 per person, and children under 6 are free when accompanied by an adult. Admission to the Mount Clemens Ice Arena is $5 for adults and $4.50 for students, seniors and youth. Skate rental is $3.

Pack on the layers and head out to one of Macomb County’s Metroparks. Weather permitting, Lake St. Clair Metropark offers ice fishing, cross-country skiing and outdoor ice skating. Snowshoe or cross-country ski across marked trails at Stony Creek Metropark, or head over to the winter sports area with hills to snowboard, sled or toboggan. Eastpointe’s Spindler Park recently revamped its new sledding hill. Open dawn to dusk, it includes a hay bale safety barrier and seating area. The Macomb Orchard Trail isn’t just for running or biking; it’s also open to cross-country skiers.

Just Delicious SconesJust Delicious Scones on Utica in Roseville is a quaint tea room, bakery and coffee shop with … well, delicious scones. Get big-girl dressed up for this fancy excursion. Sip tea or cider from beautiful china and delicately nibble on scones – a memory your child will remember. If your little one isn’t likely to sit still for long, try Chuck E. Cheese in Roseville or Sterling Heights. Jungle Java in Clinton Township is an indoor play center with a sports court and laser maze. It includes a separate toddler play area and a full menu.

Let the kids burn off energy at the Bounce House in New Baltimore, St. Clair Shores or Sterling Heights. It consists of giant inflatable slides, moon walks and an obstacle course along with arcade games that might even entertain mom and dad. Try Airtime in Sterling Heights or Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Shelby Township for open jumping on wall-to-wall trampolines, foam pits, dodgeball and basketball. Jumpers are sorted by age to make sure the intensity level is a good match, though there are waivers that must be signed before participating in the fun. Play miniature golf any day of the week at Jawor’s on Gratiot in Roseville. It has an 18-hole course for kids of all ages and is open year-round.

It doesn’t matter what you decide to do as long as you make the time you spend together count. Unplug and give your kids your full attention – that’s all they want!

Champagne Chocolates: A decadent delight

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Before you find yourself in the drug store on your lunch break on Feb. 14 frantically searching for your Valentine’s Day gifts (we’ve all been there), do yourself and your loved ones a favor and make a stop at Champagne Chocolates in Mount Clemens.

Champagne Chocolates has everything you need for Valentine’s Day: boxed chocolates, toffees, barks and turtles – and they are all hand-crafted on-site daily.

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These candies are made with the freshest ingredients – and I’m not just saying that. While most chain stores started stocking Valentine’s Day candy right after Christmas, Champagne Chocolates has just begun to make theirs. The candy is preservative-free, ensuring freshness and optimal quality.

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Thursdays are Raspberry Delight Day, which means Owner Debbie Heuchert goes out in the morning to buy fresh raspberries that will sit atop chocolate cups filled with dark chocolate ganache. Debbie also regularly heads to the Peanut Peddler to handpick hazelnuts for the candies.

“We take pride in our ingredients,” said Debbie. “When you start with good ingredients, you end up with good products.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA lot has changed since Debbie started making candies in her basement 25 years ago, but she still uses her own original recipes. Her husband John also plays a valuable part in the business, building machinery to improve consistency, accommodate larger molds and increase productivity.

Ten years ago, she opened up shop in downtown Mount Clemens. This past July, she moved to a new location at 65 Macomb Place, suite E (around the corner from Max & Ollie’s Vintage Boutique and across from Bath City Bistro). Still in Mount Clemens, the new building is larger, allowing for more efficient manufacturing. The more prominent location has also lead to increased sales.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We love being in the heart of Macomb County,” explained Debbie. “The downtown area has a big town feel, but you know everybody. The businesses here support each other.” She also appreciates all of the hard work done by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The recent Mount Clemens Ice Carving Show the DDA hosted brought a lot of fun – and new customers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADebbie loves to indulge in the creative side of the business, especially when it comes to developing chocolate recipes. Champagne Chocolates carries a few items you might not expect, like chocolate-dipped bacon and Rustic Bars made partially with organic ingredients.

They also offer chocolate parties where you and a group of friends can make your own truffles and learn some interesting facts about chocolate – did you know all of their chocolate nibs come from the same farm in Ecuador? If you bring along a bottle of wine, staff will also help you pair it with the perfect chocolate.

Be kind to your valentine, and treat them to a box of chocolates or toffees from a great local business. You won’t regret it!

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65 Macomb Place, suite E, Mount Clemens, MI 48043 (586) 468-1170

Truffles with a Twist and Chocolate Party information

Hours
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Sunday

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Feb. 6, 2015.

Get weird in Mount Clemens this weekend

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We have a lot to look forward to over the next few days: spending time with the family on Thanksgiving, getting the latest special releases on Record Store Day Black Friday and buying gifts with local flair on Small Business Saturday.

It’s an especially big weekend for record store and small business Weirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books in Mount Clemens as they promise to offer great deals and exciting new releases ranging from classics like the Doors and Miles Davis to heavy metal and punk rock like Metallica and the Dead Milkmen and even, oddly enough, “Guardians of the Galaxy” cassettes – which have been making a comeback in the last couple of years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWeirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books opened in May 2011. They are two stores under one roof run by husband and wife Dave and Lisa Taylor. Customers can find new and used records, record players, action figures, “oddball” items, used books and new books by local authors.

With giant bookstore chains going out of business and record stores shuttering their doors, what made Dave and Lisa think opening their own shop would be a good idea? There are a slew of reasons ranging from the idealist –they both love music and have been collecting records all their lives, to the sentimental – Dave and Lisa’s first date was at a record store, to the logical – Lisa knows books.

After losing her job of 17 years at Borders, Lisa and Dave thought it was the perfect time to branch out on their own. “We said we would try and see what happens,” Lisa said. They originally carried books and oddities and eventually expanded into records, where they have certainly found their niche, winning Best Independent Record Store in Macomb County from Metro Times in 2013 and 2014.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAcknowledging it might be naïveté, Dave said, “I’d like to think that other record shops didn’t close because they weren’t doing well, but because the owners had been doing it for a long time and were ready to move on to do different things.” No matter the reason, as record stores were closing, the market continued to grow as the next generation discovered vinyl records. Most Weirdsville customers are between 14 and 30 years old.

Founded on New Street, the store recently moved a block over to a new spot on Macomb Place. The move doubled their size, and they enjoy being on a more prominent street. The couple lives in Mount Clemens and values its historical legacy, so they jumped at the chance to remain in their community and obtain a larger space.

Weirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books offer several community events including B movies (not all bad, but definitely all B) and book signings. They recently had Tom Daldin from Under the Radar Michigan, which featured their shop on the show and mentions them in his book “Under the Radar Michigan: The First 50.” On Friday, Dec. 12, singer, song writer and poet Emily Rose will perform and sign her poetry book “Cemetery Tea Party.”

A member of the local music scene in his own right as a member of the band The Amino Acids, Dave is looking forward to once again offering local band listening parties. Recently on hiatus, look for those to start up again on the last Tuesday of every month. It’s a great opportunity to introduce new fans to local music. Next spring, they also intend to offer board games and magnetic poetry nights.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADon’t miss out on the great deals that are waiting for you all weekend long. The shop will be offering 20 percent off used items storewide. They have lengthened their hours, opening from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and will offer hot coffee to customers to combat the chilly weather. The first five customers through the door on Friday will receive $5 in Weir-dough to be used on anything in the store after next weekend – great to use for Christmas gifts or to treat yourself!

Whether you are looking for the perfect quirky gift, a good read or something you never knew you couldn’t live without, Weirdsville Records and Paperback Writer Books are definitely worth stopping by.

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61 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens, MI 48043 (586) 468-2665

http://www.weirdsvilledetroit.com/
http://www.usedonnewbooks.com/

Hours
Monday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday – Wednesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday – Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday Noon to 4 p.m.

This article was also posted at MakeMacombYourHome.com on Nov. 26, 2014.