Michigan BLUE Fall 2023

Page 1

The Sky’s the Limit

Exploring Pretty Peninsulas

Balloons over Bay Harbor | Dune rides in the west Monarch lowdown | Surprises in Saginaw

Dining on a Detroit canal | Discovering Manistee Stargazing at Wilderness State Park


Tour a trio of well-designed Lake Michigan homes & Check out a new Mackinac book

When you’re true to who you are, you’re true to where you are. Come join us. TraverseCity.com Exactly where you should be.





50 Forever Home

A well-appointed Lake Leelanau new-build goes from getaway to mainstay.

58 Saginaw Surprises

When planning a visit to this midMichigan community, be prepared to discover several fun elements.

64 Let Them Eat … Quiche!

A warm pastry crust brimming with savory deliciousness is perfect for coolweather entertaining.

68 Serenity Awaits

Modern beach house on Lake Michigan becomes year-round retreat.

76 Upper Peninsula Escapes

Two secluded getaways offer luxurious rooms with cozy amenities to help guests explore Lake Superior country.

Features 68

“Our goal in building the home was to have the ability to create memories and legacies with our children.”
A spectacular Pentwater
by Grand Rapids-based Mathison | Mathison Architects. Photos courtesy of Mathison | Mathison Architects/Geoff Shirley Photography.
home, designed


16 Sky, Sand & Surf

Little Traverse Bay comes alive with color during the annual Balloons Over Bay Harbor celebration, and northern Michigan communities attract monarchs to their rural surroundings.

23 Get Outdoors

Wilderness State Park shines as a sprawling Lake Michigan nature haven, and donut boats cruise the Kalamazoo River.

28 The Pike: Cruising U.S. 31

Fall sand dune rides along Michigan’s west coast provide an energizing way to say goodbye to summer.

Michigan’s remaining dune rides are historic, dating all the way back to 1930 for Mac Wood’s and 1954 for Saugatuck Dune Rides, and so far, the vehicles are allowed to keep rolling along.

30 Page-Turner

A new book from a Mackinac-loving artist and author hits the shelves.

32 Headwaters

Whether on Elk Lake near Traverse City or cruising the waters of the Caribbean, a couple lives an intriguing life, mostly in their boat.


36 Studio Visit

A Petoskey-based artist’s curious nature results in gorgeous works.

40 Design Stars

Chatham House Interiors and Sharer Design Group create a beautiful lower level for a Bay Harbor family.

42 The Elements

Bonfire must-haves, accents made of wood, and popular gifts for party hostesses or new cottage owners.


86 Tasting Room

Hands-down, Thumb Brewery in Caseville is one of the best pubs in the region.

88 Dining Out

Detroit’s Coriander Kitchen & Farm emphasizes locally grown, natural goodness — and much of the produce comes from the owners’ garden.

90 Book It

Port Huron’s new boutique hotel, CityFlats, graces the riverfront with charm and modern comforts.

92 Discoveries

A 154-year-old Victorianinfluenced port city undergoes a 21stcentury renaissance.


12 Reflections

Peninsula Ponderings

96 Postcard

A photographer is treated to some rare and spectacular sky events on the Empire Bluff Trail.


Peninsula Ponderings

Peninsula. What a cool word. In Michigan, we’re people of peninsulas — and each one is jammed with diversions, beauty, and awe-inspiring natural wonders.

As my husband and I were planning a family biking trip not long ago, it gave me a sense of pleasure to be able to say, “We’re biking parts of the upper and lower peninsulas on a week-long adventure.” And whenever I’d say it, Seney National Wildlife Refuge meandered into my thoughts.

I was longing to get back to Seney, an Upper Peninsula slice of stillness that had captured my heart, and the hearts of my family, some 18 years ago.

This particular trip started in St. Ignace and ended in Petoskey. While my husband was busy figuring out the best ways to get to our destinations, including the Iron Ore Heritage Trail (near Marquette), my mind kept returning to Seney.

“We’re going to Seney somehow, right?” I’d say as he looked over maps and penciled in routes. “I think we can do that after the Heritage route ride, on the way back to the Mackinac Bridge,” he replied.

I would be hauling supplies in our truck, and setting up lunches at various stops. My husband and sons wheeled out of St. Ignace first, taking the Mackinac Trail to Sault Ste. Marie. Twenty miles later, we picnicked, and 40 miles after, we watched massive freighters line up for the Soo Locks.

Then it was off (in the truck) to Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Newberry and nearby Muskallonge Lake State Park, where we indulged in some Keweenaw Kitchen blueberry jam-and-peanut-butter sandwiches. We continued on to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and stopped to see a few of its many waterfalls.

The next day, I dropped the excited cyclists off at the Iron Ore Heritage Trail’s trailhead in Republic and set out to explore some local mining history and

Swedish heritage. In Negaunee, I read about Michigan’s Iron Man, William Austin Burt, a land surveyor who, in 1840, was mapping the “howling wilderness” of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The magnetic needles on his crew’s compasses began to act strangely just south of Teal Lake, and chunks of iron ore were discovered. Soon after, a steam railroad was built that would carry ore to Marquette’s harbor. And that’s the rail-trail route my husband and sons were riding on that day.

Then it was on to the Seney refuge! We enjoyed a couple hours slowly unwinding along its seven-mile Marshland Wildlife Drive and 8.5-mile Fishing Loop, which showcase forest, wetlands, waters, and more. It’s a birder’s paradise, and it’s where my 20something sons saw, but barely remember, their first loons long ago. Joining those white-speckled beauties are osprey, bald eagles, and some 200 other bird species.

On this trip, with cameras and phones in hand, we gazed at a sunset sky of puffy violet-gray clouds joining streaks of lilac-purples, coral-pinks, and yellow-golds that were hovering above a dark, back-lit tree line. The still water picked up the sky’s sorbet colors as they merged into a verdant green frame of pine trees.

Snap, snap, snap. And wow, wow, wow. Each of us was in our own world, viewing this spectacular show, but still taking it in as one. How will this memory appear to us in 20 years? Detailed? Foggy?

Maybe it’s time for you to revisit favorite peninsula places from your childhood, when you traveled with your parents. Your recollections may be misty, but you’ll likely feel the same stirring sensation you did the first time. That’s the magic of our two amazing peninsulas.

Volume 18 | Issue 4 mibluemag.com

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A charming book from a Mackinacloving artist and author hits the shelves.


Whether on Elk Lake City or cruising the Caribbean, a couple lives an intriguing life, mostly in their boat.

23 Get Outdoors Wilderness State Park shines as a must-visit destination, and donut boats cruise the Kalamazoo River. 16 Sky, Sand & Surf Balloons Over Bay Harbor fills the skies, and monarch hangouts for you to visit. 28 The Pike Fall sand dune rides along Michigan’s west coast provide an energizing way to say goodbye to summer. 30 Page-Turner Headwaters
Wilderness State Park, five miles southwest of Mackinaw City, offers mesmerizing scenery.


Exploring Michigan: Tips, trends, and tidbits

Beautiful Walks: An updated 40-page “Mainland Trails of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore” guide covers 15 beautiful treks in Leelanau and Benzie counties. The revised $6.95 booklet, coordinated by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes (friendsofsleepingbear.org), in partnership with michigantrailmaps.com, includes mileby-mile trail descriptions, difficulty ratings, and color photos with detailed maps showing contour lines, elevation figures, mileage flags, and location icons for scenic views, ghost forests, shipwrecks, and more. It’s available at the Lakeshore’s Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, the Dune Climb, the DH Day Campground, Glen Haven historical village, and area shops, or at michigantrailmaps.com/books-and-guides.

Another Accolade: The 158-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids earned honors this summer as the country’s top sculpture park in USA Today ’s Readers’ Choice 10Best awards competition. It was one of 20 sculpture parks in the U.S. nominated by USA Today readers. The top 10 were then selected by 10Best editors. The No. 1 ranking is another prized award for Meijer Gardens, and recognizes its natural setting, world-class sculptures, children’s gardens, and visitors’ experiences. The outdoor campus, tropical conservatory, and permanent artists collections are delights to explore. meijergardens.org

Bad Bugs: With destructive infections of the spotted lanternfly, Asian long-horned beetle, and hemlock wooly adelgid festering around the state, the Michigan DNR encourages residents to look for and report these and other invasive species that can destroy the state’s trees, hops, and grape vines. View the invasive species watch list and learn about the bad ones at michigan.gov/invasives.

Have news that pertains to Michigan travel and exploration?

Send a note to MSwoyer@Hour-Media.com.

Autumn Air

Little Traverse Bay comes alive with color during the annual Balloons

Over Bay Harbor celebration

For Derrick Jones, the sky’s the limit when it comes to pursuing his hobby. He was just 8 years old when he began crewing on the ground for local balloon pilots in Battle Creek and, four years later, he took his first balloon flight — setting the course up, up, and away for a lifelong passion.


Since he became a licensed aeronaut (pilot) at the age of 21, Jones has clocked in more than 950 flight hours and has founded several ballooning events in Michigan, including Balloons Over Bay Harbor, near Petoskey, first held in 2019.

Michigan’s only shoreline balloon festival is scheduled for Sept. 22-24 (weather-dependent). It’s expected to attract thousands to the Lake Michigan shore near the Village at Bay Harbor for a series of family-friendly, high-flying events, all free to the public “The balloons inflate and lift off from our marina lawns by the water,” says Michelle Denise, marketing manager for Bay Harbor Co. “It’s a very exhilarating feeling being so close to them. The night glows, which is when the balloons are illuminated while being grounded on the marina lawns, are beautiful.”

The act of inflating one of these massive balloons is a sight to see. Measuring about 50 feet wide and as much as 80 feet tall,

including the wicker gondola (basket), each nylon or polyester balloon is laid out flat on the ground while the crew opens its skirt (mouth) and uses high-powered fans to fill the envelope (balloon) with air.

During this process, the balloon becomes vertical and is tied in place until the crew boards and departs on their aerial journey. The public is invited to bring blankets or chairs to sit on and observe the inflations, which take 20 to 40 minutes per balloon. Snapping photos and capturing videos is encouraged.

A common balloon size is the AX-7, weighing about 550 pounds and holding about 77,000 cubic feet of air. They’re operated by a crew of three or four people on the ground. During flight, a balloon will ascend to about 3,000 feet and travel at a speed of three to eight miles per hour, depending on wind speeds. The balloons use a gas burner to increase and decrease elevation. Typical launch events last 45 to 60 minutes.

As breathtaking as the balloon launches are from the ground, balloonists say the view from the sky is mesmerizing. On a clear day, they can see for miles, soaking up views of Lake Michigan’s deep

Below: Spectators are encouraged to take photos and videos of the weekend activities that are open to the public. Above: Bay Harbor Village’s Sept. 22-24 festival includes two night glow tethered events that may include up to 14 hot-air balloons.

Below: The Friday and Saturday night glows feature illuminated hot-air balloons, some that are 80 feet tall, while being grounded to the marina lawns. Viewers often call this sight “simply beautiful.”


The Sept. 22-24 launches for the fourth annual Balloons Over Bay Harbor are planned for Friday and Saturday afternoons at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m., just 10 minutes after sunrise. Two Illume Night Glow tethered events will take place Friday and Saturday from 8-8:30 p.m., not long after sunset. All of the family-friendly events are weather-dependent and open to the public. info@bayharbor.com

blue waters and sandy shoreline between Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs, and over sprawling waterfront golf courses surrounded by a wide expanse of northern Michigan trees ablaze in autumn color.

“Bay Harbor is a hidden gem, a crown jewel of our beautiful state of Michigan,” says Jones, one of 14 pilots participating in this year’s festival. “Balloons Over Bay Harbor is a unique event held in an exclusive area where the flying is like no other in our state.”

Throughout the weekend, pilots and their crews will be on hand to answer questions and take photos with spectators and Balloonatics (fanatic balloon enthusiasts) of all ages.

“I loved that there were all different colors of hot air balloons soaring into the sky and lighting up the night,” says 10-year-old Natalie Babcock, who has been to every Bay Harbor balloon festival with her mom, Becky. “The balloons were very majestic and I love that I was able to get up close to them.”

Other Balloons Over Bay Harbor activities include artist-led, step-by-step instructions for creating a painting of hot air balloons, an evening sip-and-paint for adults, face painting, balloon twister, lawn games, an artisan market, live music, and the Autumn Glory 3K Color Fun Run fundraiser on Saturday morning. Food trucks will be on hand Friday afternoon and most of the day Saturday.

Above: The balloons inflate and lift off from the Bay Harbor Village marina lawns near the water.
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Monarch Mission

Northern Michigan communities collaborate on strategies to attract more than just tourists to their rural surroundings

There’s been a flutter of activity lately around the plight of pollinators such as bees and butterflies, specifically the monarch, and how creating or maintaining habitats can help ensure the future of these vital winged insects. In the past year, several northwest Michigan communities — Elk Rapids, Kalkaska, Boyne City, Beaver Island, and

Melrose Township/Walloon Lake — have become members of a national initiative called Monarch City USA, pledging to protect and provide for these butterflies. Monarchs are migratory butterflies and travel back and forth between Mexico (where they winter) and the northern United States or Canada. April through September are active viewing times, as the lepidopterans begin their long journey

south. While several locales in northern Michigan serve as pit stops for the colorful orange-and-black creatures, their numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes that between 1990 and 2015, nearly 1 billion monarchs (85 percent of the insects’ onetime population) have vanished due to loss of habitat, which is caused by urban sprawl and pesticide usage. The monarch population has dropped to less than half of what it should be to avoid extinction, prompting conservationists to band together to generate awareness and develop a preservation plan.

Lauri Juday, who grew up in the Walloon Lake area and is responsible for its recent designation, has always been fascinated by monarchs. When she was a child, her mother taught her how to raise them from eggs to caterpillar to chrysalis and, ultimately, a butterfly. She still owns the original glass jar that served as the incubation center for this process, and she used it to educate her own children and grandchildren about monarchs.

Juday also grows milkweed and nectar plants from seeds that she collects and plants in her yard, her neighbors’ yards, and around the community. Her small pollinator garden, known as Springbrook Wings of Beauty, was added to the Monarch Watch (monarchwatch.org) in 2020 and is now among more than 42,000 registered waystations around the country. Throughout Michigan’s two peninsulas there are over 3,100 such waystations, including more than 40 in a four-county area of northern Michigan (Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Kalkaska).

Driving around the countryside, Juday points out dozens of places where waystation plantings could serve not only as feeding and nesting grounds for monarchs and other pollinators, but would also provide community beautification, enhance nature preserves and parks, reduce the need for mowing, and help combat erosion. She has guided the Walloon Lake Association and Conservancy (WLAC) in its efforts to add milkweed and other plants to various preserves through its recently

WATERWAYS Sky, Sand & Surf
An orange beauty enjoys its perch atop a pretty hydrangea bloom.


launched Pollinator Protector Program. This summer, WLAC members and volunteers prepared and planted more than three collective acres at area preserves.

In nearby Boyne City, lifelong resident Skylar MacNaughton leads the monarch mission. With a desire to spend more quality time with his family and a need to refocus his life after battling a long opioid addiction (followed by the pandemic), MacNaughton formed the nonprofit Michigan Butterfly Habitats in 2022 (michiganbutterflyhabitats.org).

“The idea isn’t to just create pollinator habitats in northern Michigan but to get everyone locally involved, as well — getting the residents at retirement homes back in the dirt by helping us seed trays for our habitats, or helping them redo their own overgrown garden beds. It’s getting conservancies and conservationists alike all working together because we’re working for the same cause.”

MacNaughton and his family — his wife, Jessica, and children Bella and Jaxtyn — started with their own home butterfly garden in 2017, and have since spread out to the community with wild native propagation in Boyne City parks, including along the Boyne River on Spring Street. A long-term project involves covering the hillside with milkweed and native wildflowers at the 300-acre Avalanche Preserve Recreation Area, an effort that’s

likely to take up to 10 years to complete.

Both Juday and MacNaughton, who’s also a Boyne City planning commissioner and a board member of the Charlevoix Conservation District, express the need to connect with key governmental agencies at the local and state level — from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Transportation — about the value of their initiatives.

“We hope to one day change the way Michigan road crews plant after new roads are built,” MacNaughton says. “Instead of just planting grasses, plant milkweed and wildflowers. If we can get all of Michigan on board for creating these native habitats, we can strengthen the monarch population and our own Michigan habitats.”

Not only do these projects benefit the winged pollinators, but they’re also therapeutic for those involved. “Being out in nature or helping Mother Nature in any way is therapy,” MacNaughton says.

“And after the COVID years, we could all use some mental therapy.”


When Michigan communities joined Monarch City USA:

• Highland (July 2018)

• Elk Rapids (August 2022)

• Kalkaska (March 2023)

• Boyne City (May 2023)

• Melrose Township/ Walloon Lake (May 2023)

• Beaver Island (July 2023)

• A handful of other northern Michigan communities are hoping to join the list in the coming months.

Did you know? There have been ongoing campaigns at the State Capitol to name the monarch butterfly Michigan’s official insect. Some have suggested mayflies or other butterflies. Michigan is one of only two states without an official insect. At least seven others have crowned the monarch butterfly as their state icon. — DS

WATERWAYS Sky, Sand & Surf
Monarch City USA monarchcityusa.com
Above: The monarch has four stages, including the caterpillar phase. Inset: Planting native wildflowers like milkweed is one of the easiest ways that each of us can make a difference for monarchs.

A Camper’s Paradise R

From 26 miles of sandy shoreline to dark-sky viewing, Wilderness State Park shines as a sprawling haven

oughly 11 miles west and seemingly a world away from bustling, tourist-filled Mackinaw City is Wilderness State Park — a sprawling, unspoiled escape featuring 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.

No other Michigan state park situated on any of the Great Lakes offers more, and nearly 70 percent of its 10,500 acres (16.4 square miles) are designated as wilderness or natural areas, making it the Lower Peninsula’s largest slice of contiguous, undeveloped land.

Burr Mitchell, the park’s supervisor since 2010, loves his front row seat to watching people — some whose families

have been regular visitors for decades — become immersed in all the outdoor paradise offers.

“I really enjoy the variety of people we get,” Mitchell says. “I hear all the time from Michigan families about how their parents took them here 30 years ago and now they’re taking their kids. The park just gets into their hearts and keeps them coming back.”

Trails Galore

Nearly 25 miles of trails, including a 10mile stretch of the North Country Trail, traverse the park’s variety of landscapes, from along the shoreline into the remote interior. The paths wind through open and forested dunes; coniferous, boreal, and hardwood forests; meadows; ponds; and cedar swamps and other wetlands. A 6.2-mile loop that begins where the

Miles of glorious Lake Michigan terrain lure campers, hikers, beachcombers, and wildlife enthusiasts to Wilderness State Park.

NCT crosses into the southwest corner of the park offers the best way to experience the dunes, and includes a section of a miles-long stretch of sandy beach on Sturgeon Bay.

“One outstanding feature of the park is the sand dune areas,” says Dennis Fay, of the North Country Trail’s Harbor Springs chapter. “For the most part, they’re forested, contain many small ponds, and stretch about a half-mile inland from the lake. The trails over them contain plenty of ridges and valleys.”

An overnight backpacking option combines the O’Neal Lake Trail with portions of the Nebo, Sturgeon Bay, and Swamp Line trails for a 13-mile loop. Backpackers spend the night at the scenic and secluded O’Neal Lake Campground.

A 4-mile loop begins near the two main campgrounds and combines portions of various trails. Hikers can see a stream full of beaver activity, the top of Mount Nebo and its Lake Michigan view, and small ponds laden with marine life.

The endangered piping plover, which nests in the park, is one of more than 100 bird species that migrate or nest there. Black bear, beaver, bobcat, deer, fox, and mink often can be seen while exploring trails, along with endangered plants like Pitcher’s thistle and Houghton goldenrod.

“We have 17 animals considered species of concern or endangered, and nine kinds of plants of concern,” Mitchell says. “The park is one of the last bastions for the

piping plover and is its primary nesting location in the Great Lakes Basin.”

The 11 miles of trails open to mountain biking feature mostly flat terrain. The trails can be combined with park roads to form longer loops.

Camping Options

Significant renovations since 2016 have left the park with 278 campsites, ranging from full-hookup to walk-in, tent-only rustic sites, all within a quarter mile of the swimming area on Big Stone Bay. The 179 sites on the north side of Wilderness Park Drive are closer to the lake.

“The variety of camping right on Lake Michigan, from rustic to modern, is really attractive to people, and the renovations have modernized the campgrounds (originally designed in the 1950s) for how camping is done now,” Mitchell says. “We put in more tent-only sites after finding out that 32 percent of all our campers are tenters, to accommodate them.”

The 25 tent-only sites are spacious, have fire rings, and are well within view


Most camp sites are booked six months in advance.

of Lake Michigan. Reaching them requires no more than a 150-yard stroll from parking areas. There are also two rustic backcountry campsites, both near picturesque inland lakes.

Another option is renting one of six rustic cabins, four of which are near Lake Michigan. All have bunk beds, a table, chairs or benches, a wood stove, a vault toilet, a hand-operated water pump, a fire pit, picnic table, and a charcoal grill.

Stargazing is a must, because Wilderness is designated as a Dark Sky Area, with arguably even better visibility than the nearby Headlands Dark Sky Park.

Beach Life

The Mackinac Bridge can be seen from two areas near the main campgrounds on Big Stone Bay that are sandy and ideal for swimming: one near a picnic area east of the park’s headquarters and another near the

Wilderness State Park dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails
“I hear all the time from Michigan families about how their parents took them here 30 years ago and now they’re taking their kids.”
— Burr Mitchell
Stargazing is an absolute must — the park is designated as a Dark Sky Area, with excellent visibility.

Lakeshore Campground’s west loop. Crystal-clear water and a sandy lake bottom extend for about 100 yards from shore. There’s also a designated beach area for dogs.

On the park’s west side, Sturgeon Bay boasts 7 miles of pristine, sandy shore with dunes rising up at the back of the beach and stones littering the sand, making it an ideal place for rockhounds.

Nearly every inch of the park’s shoreline is ideal for taking in stunning sunsets or viewing passing freighters.

Kayaking Tips

Sturgeon Bay, south of Waugoshance Point, offers calmer kayaking in shallower conditions than the open Lake Michigan waters north of the point, but there are days when both sides are suitable for paddling. Kayakers can check out Temperance Island and Waugoshance Island.

“Obviously, both sides can be a joy to paddle on calm days over crystal-clear water,” says Anthony Arabie, of Mackinac Island-based Great Turtle Kayak Tours. “Sneaking around Waugoshance Point to paddle around the few small islands there is always cool.”

Fishing Waters

Fly-fishing for smallmouth bass near the shore of Waugoshance Point is the main angling attraction, but the park is also good for pike, carp, and lake perch.

A boat launch is located about 400 yards west of West Lakeshore Campground for those who wish to cast while on the water. There’s also a fishing pond near Pines Campground, and O’Neal Lake contains bluegill, as well as smallmouth and largemouth bass.

“Our guided fishing trips on foot in the park are pretty popular,” says Drew Oliver, head guide at Boyne Outfitters in Boyne Falls. “The shoreline of Waugoshance Point has several little coves and inlets, which make it an outstanding fly-fishing area. Earlier in the season, cooler water provides a good habitat for pike, and the time after smallmouth season is ideal for carp. They put up more of a fight on the fly rod, but I like the challenge.”

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wound grown-ups sleep like babies. Each cottage has it’s own unique look and location, but all have every amenity needed for a comfortable retreat.

The moss-covered paths beckon you to take a walk in the woods. The tree house, horseshoe pit and the volleyball court beg you to come and play. The screened porches, sunny decks and private hot tubs offer serene spots to just sit and rest.

All year long Sweethaven is where beach excursions begin, snowball fights breakout, and campfires happen.

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time to make up for lost time.

Whimsical Adventures

On the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck, Donut Boats come in Jelly, Glazed, Sprinklers, and Twist options


Doing donuts takes on a whole new meaning on the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck.

Members of the Sometimes Wine Book Club are still talking about the fun they enjoyed at their end-of-season get-together aboard an electric-powered Donut Boat from Retro Boat Rentals in Saugatuck. The business, operating out of a riverfront patio-bar called The Old Boathouse, is in its seventh season renting novelty boats in the west Michigan beach town.

You can practically feel heads turning on shore when any of their four round Donut vessels — whimsically named Jelly, Glazed, Sprinkles, and Twist — cruise past.

“We had a great time,” enthuses Sarah Goy, who took a turn piloting one of the Donut boats during a two-hour evening cruise that ranks among her book club’s most unusual season-ending adventures. She and her nine literary pals — 10 is the maximum number of passengers allowed — sat in a conversation-friendly circle around the vessel’s central wooden table, shaded by an umbrella.

“The staff put a nice cooler together for us with all the nibbles and beverages we needed (including Michigan beer and hard cider), and we just tooled up and down the river enjoying each other’s company,” she says. “No one had to sit on a cooler facing backward, as people do on some boats — it was relaxing and comfortable. And it was definitely memorable.”

Not to mention easy to navigate. “You don’t have to be good at driving a boat. It’s just a slow electric motor (with a 4 mph cruising speed),” Goy says of the round vessels, which are retrofitted with a steering wheel. “They told us how to

Donut Boat rentals start at $269 for two hours. Drivers of the boats must be 21. retroboatrentals.com Up to 10 passengers sit around a central wooden table with an umbrella to shade the sun as they cruise the Kalamazoo River.

work it: ‘this is how you steer,’ ‘this is how you reverse,’ ‘this is how you come in.’ They explained it well, so we didn’t have to worry.”

Indeed, operating a Donut Boat was a piece of cake for Rainey Stoll of Kansas City, Mo., the driver on a group outing last fall for her job as a public relations representative for Experience Grand Rapids. “Not having much boat experience, I would say it was pretty easy to navigate, not too challenging,” she says. “If you know how to drive a golf cart, you can drive a Donut Boat.”

As first-time visitors to Michigan, both Stoll and her co-worker, Haley Mueller, of New York City, say they were “blown away” when they saw Lake Michigan, their first Great Lake, with its big waves and surf. “I’ve never seen a lake that looks like an ocean!” Mueller exclaims.

While Lake Michigan is visible from the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, Donut Boat drivers are advised to stick to the Kalamazoo River and Kalamazoo Lake, and avoid venturing into the big lake. A swimming cove, within view of Lake Michigan, is a popular river stop. Donut-Boaters can watch the sunset from the cove and look down the pier toward Lake Michigan. Along the riverway, the women kept their eyes peeled for wildlife including turtles, cranes, heron, and deer, and were impressed by the array of waterfront homes in what Mueller describes as Architectural Digest-worthy styles. “Oh my gosh, they’re stunning, beautiful homes,” she says. “I remember a boat ride around Fort Lauderdale — it’s reminiscent of that, though in a much different climate, of course.”

The foliage during their early October cruise was just beginning to change color. “The leaves change a little later here than most places, but the colors are usually popping by mid-October, depending on the year,” says Lauren Stanton, who owns Retro Boat Rentals with her husband, John Sharar. “We stay open through the end of October and bring out plaid blankets. People wear sweatshirts and jackets in the fall, and often take coffee and hot

toddies out with them. They still have a really great time.”

Post-Labor Day, when summer crowds are gone and the waterways are quieter, is a great time for a Donut Boat excursion, according to Stanton, who also notes that dogs are always welcome. “September is sneaky. People don’t realize it, but it can offer beautiful, warm days — some of the best weather we have in Michigan. We love September boat rides.”

A former TV morning news anchor in

Grand Rapids, Stanton and her husband, a national sales manager, traded in their high-powered jobs six years ago to run the boat rental business full-time after a one-season trial. In addition to the Donut Boats, their quiet, all-electric fleet includes five classic, four-passenger fiberglass Retro Boats from 1958-1963, some with fanciful fins and chrome detailing; seven pontoon boats with seating for 8-16 passengers; and two 12-passenger, gondola-style Duffy Boats with canopies.

The four Donut Boats, originally orange but now painted a vintage-inspired turquoise, are especially popular with women for events ranging from book clubs and reunions to bachelorette parties and girlfriend getaways, Stanton says. “Couples like to take them out, too. Everyone thinks they’re a hoot. It’s a very unique experience.”

Above: Retro Boat Rentals in Saugatuck operates out of a riverfront patio-bar called The Old Boathouse. Left: Four electric, round Donut boats are available for rent.

Great Lake Backdrop

Fall sand dune rides along Michigan’s west coast provide an energizing way to say goodbye to summer

Over hills, dales, and sand, funky vehicles with oversized tires take tourists bouncing through west Michigan’s soft, silky dunes. It may seem like a summer thing, but autumn is a vivid time to take a ride in an iconic sand dune buggy.

“Oh, yes, it’s cooler. We’re less busy. It’s a much calmer environment,” says Shelby Olsen, third-generation owner of Mac Wood’s Dune Rides in Mears, near Pentwater. “It’s beautiful. The colors are starting to change, and it’s a more relaxed vibe in the fall.”

Mac Wood’s is open through Sept. 30. Farther south, the Saugatuck Dune Rides

are open through Oct. 15, while thrilling self-drive dune adventures at Silver Lake State Park run through the end of October.

Few places in the United States still allow vehicles to operate on sand dunes. Most areas, like Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Empire, ceased the practice years ago to protect the mighty dunes. But Michigan’s remaining dune rides are historic, dating all the way back to 1930 for Mac Wood’s and 1954 for Saugatuck, and so far, the vehicles are allowed to keep rolling along.

The busiest time for dune rides is July. Mac Wood’s doesn’t take reservations, so visitors just show up and wait their turn. A fall visit speeds that process up, Olsen says. Saugatuck accepts online reservations up to


Mac Wood’s Dune Rides, Mears


Rides through Sept. 30 last 40 minutes and cover seven miles, with views of both Lake Michigan and Silver Lake. No reservations taken except for schools or tour groups.

Saugatuck Dune Rides


Rides through Oct. 15 last 40 minutes and include a place to stop and walk on the dunes. Reservations are accepted for groups of 18 or more. Individual online booking is allowed up to two weeks in advance.


two weeks in advance, and will continue to do so through the end of the season.

As northern Michigan’s forests put on a joyful display of color in September and October, along the sand dunes, Lake Michigan is the central backdrop. “You can see a little fall color on the dunes, although it’s mainly pine trees,” Olsen says. She’s seen the dunes change seasons her whole life, because Mac Wood was her grandfather. Now her son, representing the business’s fourth generation, works there and “he’ll take over when I leave,” she says. “Even my granddaughter wants to work here, but she’s only 13.”

Mac Wood was a real person. He owned a summer vacation spot on Silver Lake, Flora-Dale Resort, back in the 1930s. Seeking activities for his guests, he came up with the idea of modifying a Ford Model A into a Dune Scooter that held four passengers. These days, the “scooters” are big, red four-wheel-drive vehicles with aircraft tires that can accommodate 20 people — yet it’s the same old-fashioned ride.

The route winds for seven miles through what is now Silver Lake State Park, a massive 2,000-acre park that surrounds Silver Lake and stretches to

Lake Michigan. The dunes are separated into sections for different uses: There’s an off-road vehicle area, pedestrian area, a section leased by Mac Wood’s, and at the far south, Little Sable Point Lighthouse. In addition to three miles of Lake Michigan frontage, the state park has camping, fishing, and hiking.

In Saugatuck, Ron Jousma started his own dune ride company in 1954 after he experienced Mac Wood’s operation. His first vehicle was a 1942 Ford convertible that he fashioned into a dune buggy. Today, modified Dodge vehicles are used by current owners Janice and Linus Starring.

Beyond the family-friendly gentle bouncing dune tours, there’s an edgier option for thrill-seekers. Silver Lake State Park still allows people to bring their own vehicles or rent motorcycles, ORVs, and ATVs, and zoom up and down the dunes at their pleasure, all the way until the end of October. Waivers are required because riding the dunes can be risky. Some spots let 16-year-olds ride by themselves if a parent or guardian signs off on it.

As summer fades away and winter is in our sights, take this opportunity to ride out on the dunes for one last sandy thrill.


Silver Lake State Park in Mears has 450 acres of dunes for riding your own ORV or a rental, and it’s open through Oct. 31. michigan. gov/dnr/things-to-do/orv-riding/ silver-lake

These companies rent motorcycles, ATVs, and other ORVs for driving on the sand dunes at Silver Lake State Park: SILVER LAKE




Open through Sept. 30; ORV rentals, guided sunset tours.




Open through Oct. 31; ORV rentals.





Open through Oct. 31; ORV and ATV rentals, escorted dune rides.

Above: Passengers celebrate their adventures at Saugatuck Dunes Rides. Top right: Mac Wood’s Dune Rides’ 40-minute outings cover seven milesof terrain. Opposite page: ORV enthusiasts enjoy a Lake Michigan sunset at Silver Lake Dunes State Park.

Mackinac Musings

New alphabet book from an island-loving artist and author duo hits the shelves

Mackinac Island is an increasingly inspiring spot for both artists and writers.

Michigan BLUE sat down to chat with the dynamic duo of artist Kate Dupre, watercolorist and owner of the island’s Watercolor Café, and Katy Klimczuk, a Grosse Pointe Farmsbased writer, who recently published their first book (hardcover) together, “M is for Mackinac: A Nature Alphabet.”

BLUE: How did the idea for “M is for Mackinac” come about? Did your children (ages 7 and 9) influence you at all?

Klimczuk: I knew I wanted to write something about Mackinac, with the setting being the island. Over time I started to think about highlighting the nature of Mackinac, because there was a hole in the market for this type of book. I started writing it in the summer of 2021, and I think during the pandemic I was influenced by the fact that we were spending more time outside. That’s the year I started to home-school my kids, too. We became more nature-focused. So, every few days or weeks I’d write (the copy for) a couple of letters (the pages feature each of the letters of the alphabet).

BLUE: How did you find an illustrator?

Klimczuk: I had seen Kate’s work online and I had reached out to her about another book idea, and then when this one came about, I knew I wanted watercolor. I wanted to work with someone who has a presence on the island — a unique point of view.

BLUE: How was the publishing process?

Klimczuk: We worked with Mission Point Press, based in Traverse City. They guide you on a self-publishing journey.

Dupre: I’m really picky about how things look printed, and I was racking my brain on how to do this economically. I used a printer/scanner by Canon and it captured everything so well. I tweaked the scanned paintings digitally, and then laid the book out with the text.

Above: Author Katy Klimczuk knew she wanted watercolor images in her “M is for Mackinac” book, so she called on Kate Dupre, one of her favorite artists, to illustrate it. Top inset: Katy Klimczuk Lower inset: Kate Dupre

BLUE: How did you work as a team on this?

Klimczuk: We hadn’t even met each other in person! It was all a collaborative effort through emails and such. We tried to represent the whole island.

Dupre: For the most part, Katy gave me artistic freedom.

BLUE: What’s your favorite page?

Klimczuk: I love the night scenes — the N page, Northern Lights; and the U page, Under the Stars. Being quiet on the island and seeing the sky at night is so nice. I also love H is for Horses. There’s a tandem bike on that page, and it’s kind of like my mom and me on a bike.

Dupre: T is for Trillium. I’ve always loved painting wood scenes, and I love wildflowers and trillium. They signal that the busy season is about to begin.

BLUE: What’s it like to see your idea come to fruition?

Klimczuk: The first time I received some of the images from Kate was when I was on a family trip. I was so excited, I had everyone look at them. When it came out, my son kept telling me this is the best book. My kids saw the whole publishing process. My daughter loves to write, too, and writes her own plots all the time.

BLUE: Kate, is this the first book you’ve illustrated?

Dupre: Actually, my first one came out in 2018 and it was called “Goodnight Mackinac Bridge,” written by Emily Havlena and published by Mackinac Jane’s Publishing Co.

BLUE: Kate, what do you do besides paint?

Dupre: I’m focused on running my Watercolor Café during our busy season here on the island. It’s a café by day and an art studio open to students at night. We have a lot of different classes taught by me and other instructors in everything from making jewelry to painting. Offseason, I live in Florida and focus on commission work and other projects, both in watercolors and acrylics.

BLUE: What does the future hold?

Dupre: Katy is going to write more books. She’s one of the most self-starting, organized people I’ve ever met. As for me, I just wait and listen for what’s next, and water any seeds that come my way.”

“M is for Mackinac: A Nature Alphabet” is available at the Island Bookstore, Mission Point resort’s gift shop, and the Watercolor Café on Mackinac Island. Order it online at katyklimczuk. com, or you can check it out at the Mackinac Island Public Library.

Both photos: Kate Dupre’s painting style is loose and charming, with several painterly effects. Katy Klimczuk’s words and messages captivate all ages.

water — waterskiing, sailing, tubing, swimming. We had a small sailboat as a kid. When I was in college in 1982, my parents figured out a way to buy the cabin next door to the one we rented. Fast-forward to 2003, and another cottage with about 900 square feet, north of that one, was for sale. Linda and I bought it. My sister is down the road. The lake has always been a magnet that brings the family together. We spend our summers at the cottage now.

Savvy Sailors

Imet a fascinating couple at Alaska’s Denali National Park in the Teklanika River Campground last summer when one of my sons and I went over to their nearby camper to warn them of a huge grizzly bear we had just spotted munching on soap berries near our camper.

When we found out they were from the Traverse City area, I couldn’t help but get their card so I could contact them and find out how they enjoyed the rest of their Alaskan journey. Several weeks later, they shared some great highlights from their trip — and the couple, Bob and Linda Boynton, told me they actually live most of the year on the water, on their sailboat.

Michiganders and Michigan BLUE readers are fascinated with all things water, so I asked the Boyntons if they’d share a few insights into their unique lifestyle.

Linda and Bob, both retired from supply chain careers — Linda from Abbott Laboratories and Bob from Gatorade — were happy to provide a glimpse of the ins and outs of waking up daily on the water.

Megan Swoyer: You mentioned Elk Lake near Traverse City. Is that where you first fell in love with Michigan?

Bob Boynton: Yes, Elk Lake is heaven. My family would rent a log cabin for a couple weeks every year. We’d go crazy on the

MS: And, of course, when not at the cottage, you’re somewhere in the world on water. When did you know that you could maybe spend a lot of time aboard a sailboat?

BB: I remember in high school I sailed up the Soo Locks near Sault Ste. Marie on a friend’s parents’ boat and I fell in love with the concept of being on the sailboat for a long period of time. Ever since college, I had the dream of having a boat and traveling the world on it. Over time, the dream became part of our family’s grand master financial plan. After lots of research, we purchased a boat in 2016. When we retired in 2018 and 2019, we were ready to go.

MS: What kind of skills do you need to live several months a year aboard a sailboat?

BB: Everything is a bit more challenging aboard a boat. The highs are higher, of course, but the lows are lower. You have to fix or maintain things every day or you get behind.

Linda Boynton: We’re both engineers, but Bob is very handy and can fix most things on his own. I do the food provisioning. Other prepping required for a journey is seasick medication as, believe it or not, I’m prone to seasickness.

MS: I’m speaking with you in as you ride out the weather in Hampton, Va., before taking off for the Caribbean, correct?

BB: Yes, we’re joining the Salty Dawg rally of 120 boats, sort of a flotilla. And we’re

Whether on Elk Lake near Traverse City or cruising the waters of the Caribbean, this couple lives an intriguing life, mostly in their boat
Bob and Linda Boynton explore the waters in their 46-foot Hallberg-Rassy.

all heading to Antigua. But we have to cross the Gulf Stream and because there’s wind across the current, we’re waiting for a window of opportunity to take off.

LB: It will take 14 days because we’re stopping off in Bermuda. So four to six straight days of sailing to Bermuda, and then six to eight days to Antigua. We have an extra crew member for the passage, so we’ll each do a shift and get some sleep in between.

MS: How do you become a decent sailor?

BB: We both grew up sailing small sailboats in Ohio and Michigan. We also did bare boating in the Virgin Islands, which means you rent a sailboat and it doesn’t come with a captain or cook. We did that several times with family.

LB: A fun way to figure out if this is something to be serious about is to plan a 10day sailing trip. It’s like camping on water. We also spent five months in our camper, a Geo Pro that’s about 19 feet long. That was good practice for sailing, as it’s smaller than our boat and we had to learn what

meals to plan and cook and what clothes to bring. When you first start out sailing, you don’t need to be an expert. You can learn the minimum through American Sailing Association courses, and keep learning as you go. You have to be sensible and start out slowly — we started off by sailing Lake Huron, the East Coast, et cetera.

MS: Before sailing to Antigua, what kinds of trips did you take to prepare for such an epic, long-distance one?

BB: We took our boat from Chicago and sailed Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and Ontario’s Georgian Bay and North Channel. By the way, I’m not sure people know how beautiful the Georgian Bay is. Just gorgeous! That was our first experience with just us two living on the boat for a longer period of time. Then we took it through the Erie Canal and down the Hudson River. Incidentally, to go through the Erie Canal, there are 33 locks and you’re going under bridges — which means you have to take the mast down for the canal.

Another great way we built our confidence was by taking a three-week training sailing trip. It was excellent; we had eight people including a captain, first mate, and six students. We went from New Zealand to Tahiti. There was some rough weather and we had to experience that. The destinations are great, but to sail the ocean between the two points can be really challenging. We saw 40knot winds and 20-foot seas — it was challenging, but very good learning.

MS: What type of boats do you own?

BB: We’ve owned two sailboats — a small Catalina that was 28 feet long we used in Lake Michigan, and then in 2016 we purchased a 46-foot Hallberg-Rassy, which is considered a bluewater boat, meaning you can feel comfortable sailing the ocean on it. It’s sturdy. Its name is Tiger Lily.

MS: You plan to spend your summers on Elk Lake and winters somewhere else in the world on the Tiger Lily. What have you discovered about this new life on water?

BB: We lived in a four-bedroom home in the Chicago suburbs, sold that, and moved, downsizing in phases to an apartment, the cottage, and then the camper — and then actually upsized to the boat from there. We’re still trying to get rid of all our stuff! We’ve discovered we like living in small spaces and being mobile.

LB: You look at your stuff and ask yourself, does it bring me joy? It’s a good feeling to be light and nimble. Some of the pluses are that we get to anchor in lots of places for free and we don’t need a reservation. You do need to be flexible, because you’re dependent on the weather. We’re always watching the weather!

MS: Do you ever get lonely?

BB: Oh, no. We meet lots of interesting people. Instead of exchanging business cards, you have boat cards with your contact and boat information on it. It’s a community of nomads, really. And everyone’s super down-to-earth and willing to help each other.

The Boyntons’ Tiger Lily is considered a bluewater sailboat, which means you can feel comfortable sailing the ocean on it. “It’s sturdy,” Bob Boynton says.

Find your ESCAPE



A Bay Harbor home’s lower level gets a stunning overhaul, maximizing the space and making the most of every nook and cranny. 40 Design Stars Chatham House Interiors partners with Sharer Design Group to create a gorgeous wine room in a Bay Harbor home. 36 Studio Visit Meet artist Mary Bea McWatters. The Petoskey-based creative turns out stunning works focused on nature.
Around the house: Bonfire must-haves, wood accents, and gift ideas for the hostess or new cottage owner.
The Elements
Notebook A
must-have apron, handmade paints, Kentwood’s new flooring
and High


We’re Floored: Floor & Decor, a leading specialty retailer of hard-surface flooring, tile, and home improvement goods, opened its first store in the Grand Rapids area and its fourth in the state this past summer. It’s located at 4110 28th St. SE, Kentwood. flooranddecor.com

Fall Color Tour: Create some watercolor paintings for your home décor using Michigan native Kelly Hollstrom’s eco-friendly paints! Holstrom runs Letter Sparrow, and manufactures and sells sumptuous colors that are perfect for fall, including Marigold Orange, Antique Yelllow, and Dark Ombre. lettersparrow.com

Sip In Style: Deidre Remtema, of Grand Rapids-based Deidre Interiors, was the interior designer of choice for the new Furnace Street Distillery in Elberta, near Frankfort. Overlooking Betsie Lake, this popular spot is a beauty! deidreinteriors.com, furnacestreetdistillery.com

Gotta Have Pockets: Whether you’re pruning your chrysanthemums or harvesting late summer/early fall tomatoes, the Cribsi PAC Gathering Apron — with huge pockets — is just what you need. Fabrics are always made from natural fibers and eco-friendly textiles. The aprons are also designed, sewn, and packaged in the USA. cribsi.com

Season’s High Point: The biannual High Point Market in North Carolina runs Oct. 14-18. It’s the world’s largest furnishings trade show and is open to U.S. and international buyers including retailers, designers, and other industry professionals. highpointmarket.org

— Compiled by Megan Swoyer

Have news about waterfront living?

Email MSwoyer@Hour-Media.com

BEA-utiful Creations

A Petoskey-based artist’s curious nature results in gorgeous works

Artist Mary Bea McWatters’ freshwater scenes and vibrant colors can transport you to some of the most beautiful places in the Mitten State, in a variety of seasons. “I love the long shadows of winter as much as the rippling summer shoreline,” she says.

McWatters’ talent and curious nature are reflected in the success she’s found as an artist in Petoskey. “Nature is the best teacher,” McWatters explains. “I’m interested in the way light (and, therefore, color) changes throughout the seasons.”

36 MICHIGAN BLUE | FALL 2023 ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARY BEA ART Home-related tips, trends, and tidbits

The artist depends on the power of observation in her process. Whether she’s biking, kayaking, snowboarding, or gardening, McWatters immerses herself in the beauty of Michigan’s seasons — and then translates the beautiful, fleeting moments she experiences into highly luminescent and expressive works of art.

The artist says the roots of her creative and curious spirit go all the way back to her childhood. “My parents encouraged my siblings and me to create. We were always making tree forts, planting gardens, painting, sculpting, and making up games. I had a very free and creative childhood, and I’ve continued that path throughout my life,” she says.

Her painting style reflects a sense of openness and freedom. “I don’t sketch; I typically take a painting (using acrylics) all the way from broad strokes down to the fine details,” McWatters explains. That boldness and sense of confidence have led to the creation of masterpieces such as “Pine Prism,” which the artist says she

painted “For those who seek light in shadowy times, for the adventurers and the observers, for those who inspire, and for those who seek inspiration.”

McWatters notes that she keeps her tools simple and her colors few. “My favorite ‘big’ brush is the Wooster shortcut; it’s perfect for blocking in the basic shapes of the painting,” she says. When it comes to colors, she typically uses a limited palette of three colors, plus white. Her technique of building layers and mixing paint results in an incomprehensible array of colors, each one seamlessly fading into the next. Color gradients and subtle shifts flawlessly mimic the way sunlight dances across the land, water, and sky.

The artist’s studio is nestled along the banks of the Bear River in Petoskey, where she finds constant inspiration in the flowing waters outside her window. “Water as a metaphor is great at teaching us about ourselves; it reflects back who we are. It’s continually changing, and continually reflecting the world around it, just like we are,” muses McWatters, who also resides in Petoskey.

McWatters’ pleasant studio is large enough that she’s been able to use the space for more than just creating her own artwork.

Above: “Pine Prism” was created for “those who seek light in shadowy times,” says artist Mary Bea McWatters. Above: Note the many layers, from soothing greens to soft peaches, in “Breaker.” Right: Artist Mary Bea McWatters.

She’s used the space to host performance parties, teach children’s art classes, and collaborate with other makers.

In addition to connecting to nature, McWatters says it’s key that she’s able to connect with other people. She wants her artwork to be accessible, restorative, and sometimes even wearable. That’s why, in addition to items ranging from greeting cards to large wall art, McWatters also fashions hand-painted accessories including baseball caps and geometric drop earrings.

“I wanted to create art with a function, and I noticed that wearable art allows people to connect. I’ve (received) a lot of feedback about the compliments people get and the joy it brings when wearing a hand-painted hat or pair of earrings.”

McWatters continues to dream big. Her future goals include creating public artwork, board games, and books. The sky’s the limit for this painter, who is always evolving because of her curiosity and love of the natural world.


To see Mary Bea McWatters’ artwork or to commission a work, visit marybea-art.com.

Right: “Shared Light” splendidly captures water, waves, shoreline, and light.
“My parents encouraged my siblings and me to create. ... and I’ve continued that path throughout my life.”
— Mary Bea McWatters
Above: The artist at her studio in Petoskey. Right: The lit sky and stalwart sails reflected in the water in “Mackinac Marina” are captivating.
• Luxury residential windows & doors, glass showers, mirrors, and handrails • Custom architectural metal, copper, cedar, and slate roof assemblies • Locations in Rochester Hills and Harbor Springs • Family-owned for 45 years Butcher & Butcher Construction Company Inc. 248-852-2323 | bbconstruction.com COMMITTED TO THE FINEST WORKMANSHIP IN THE INDUSTRY

In the Spirit of Chillin’

Renovated Bay Harbor lower-level space features bespoke wine room and bar

It was too good to pass up. That was the opinion of the Chicago-based homeowners of this Bay Harbor property, who already had another home in the area when their dream house went up for sale. They decided they couldn’t resist, explains Kali Weber, lead designer and co-owner of Chatham House Interiors, based in Bay Harbor and Troy, who worked with the couple on the whole house. “It had everything they needed for their growing family,” she says.

After living in it for a summer, however, the owners realized they could make it even better. “The lower level was all open space,” Weber says. “They entertain a lot and have family who come up, so we decided to maximize the space and make the most of every nook and cranny.”

There was an existing bar that was too small to meet their needs, but otherwise it was a blank slate, she explains. Working with frequent partner Justin Sharer, owner of Plymouth and Bay Harbor-based Sharer Design Group, Weber designed a surprisingly light-filled, multipurpose lower level perfect for entertaining.

The glass-fronted wine room that was the result of the Weber-Sharer collaboration is clearly one of the stars of the renovated space, and took first place for Best Wine Room in the recently announced Detroit Design Awards. “The main priority for the client was a climate-controlled wine room to hold more than 300 bottles of wine,” says Sharer. “We designed the bespoke wine cabinet using our Bakes & Kropp cabinetry. To add details to the cabinet, we added some bespoke metalwork to accent the doors and drawer caps.”

Weber says the metalwork references similar designs found throughout the house, giving the home a cohesive continuity. “The homeowners like a comfortable, classic elegance,” she says, describing

The glass-fronted, climatecontrolled wine room features lovely details.

it as a “Ralph Lauren vibe.”

Sharer says his team approached the project as a piece of art. “We want to make sure the bottles are displayed to showcase, but also, the cabinetry we design for the wine should be a beautiful piece of furniture. We make sure the right woods, metals, and materials are used to tie in with the style our client is looking to achieve. We also make sure we have LED lighting to showcase the wine and cabinetry in the evening.”

The nearby bar, also featuring Bakes & Kropp cabinetry, includes everything needed for the wine room: a sink, dishwasher, ice maker, and additional storage.

Weber counts the family among her friends, which made the process even more of a pleasure. “When they’re up

here, they entertain all the time. I’ve enjoyed being part of the group they host,” she says proudly, adding that the project’s end result is a pleasure to experience firsthand. “It turned out to be a beautiful space.”


chathamhouseinteriors.com, sharerdesigngroup.com

Above: Designer Kali Weber says the lower level is comfortable and classic. Top right: Justin Sharer of Sharer Design Group. Bottom right: Chatham House Interiors’ Shelley Knudson and Kali Weber. Below: Kali Weber and Justin Sharer designed a surprisingly light-filled, multipurpose lower level perfect for entertaining.

Bonfire Bests

Haul out these camp throws, classic chairs, cooler bags, and other fun essentials for your fall fires

1. Cozy up ’round the fire and wrap yourself in PENDLETON ’s Yakima Camp Throw. $149, Charming North, Cadillac, charmingnorth.com, pendleton-usa.com. 2. Transport drinks for your crew with this Cooler Bag by MARIMEKKO for WEST ELM . $90, West Elm, Birmingham and Grand Rapids, westelm.com. 3. The Teak Adirondack Chair by TEAK WAREHOUSE is a classic and comfortable outdoor seating option. $349, teakwarehouse.com. 4. Create campfire memories yearround with this S’mores Kit by TERAFLAME . $99.95, Williams-Sonoma, williams-sonoma.com. 5. Sturdy and lowkey, VITRA’s Metal Side Table is the perfect resting spot for snacks, drinks, and more. $895, Design Within Reach, Grand Rapids, dwr.com. 6. Lighting up smokeless fires is a breeze with the Bonfire 2.0 by SOLO STOVE $399.99, solostove. com. 1. 5. 3. 6. Styled by Jamie Fabbri 2. 4.
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Into the Woods

These warm and shapely accents will add touches of cozy to your cottage

Styled by Jamie Fabbri

4. Make a statement with the Brera Cabinet from the THOMAS PHEASANT collection for BAKER . Price upon request, Baker | McGuire, Michigan Design Center, Troy, bakerfurniture.com, michigandesign.com.

5. Designed by STUDIO ANANSI for CB2 , the Marisa Burl Wood Desk gives off vintage vibes in a high-end way. $899, CB2,

1. TEMPAPER ’s Reeded Wood Peeland-Stick Wallpaper adds warmth to any interior space. $44.99/roll, Stonesthrow, Grand Rapids, stonesthrowliving. com, tempaper.com. 2. Marcel Teak Wall Art from CRATE & BARREL is composed of rectangles of solid teak, each displaying its own unique grain and color. $299, Crate & Barrel, Novi, crateandbarrel.com. 3. Made of sturdy handwoven rattan, SERENA & LILY ’s Tulum Ice Bucket and Tongs delivers a bit of texture to the bar. $228, Serena & Lily, Birmingham, serenaandlily.com. Birmingham, cb2.com. 6. This locally-made wooden bowl by JEFF CASE adds a natural touch to any room. $75, Charming North, Cadillac, charmingnorth.com. 2. 1. 6. 3. 5. 4.
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Wrap Up a Treat

5. You can’t go wrong with a luxe, classic candle, and this Fig Tree scent by DIPTYQUE is a perfect choice. $110, Neiman Marcus, Troy, diptyqueparis.com, neimanmarcus.com.

6. A well-stocked game shelf is a necessity for any cottage owner. A perfect addition is this chic Connect the Dots game from SERENA & LILY. $398, Serena & Lily, Birmingham, serenaandlily.com.

1. BIG CHILL’s Retro Blender adds a splash of color, nostalgia, and function to the retro-lover’s counter. $275, bigchill.com. 2. This classic Marble Cheese Board Set from CHARMING NORTH would delight any hostess. $31, Charming North, Cadillac, charming north.com. 3. The Made in Michigan Gift Box by SISTER BEES includes raw honey, a candle, and an array of other locally-handcrafted products. $46, Sister Bees, Ludington, sisterbees.com. 4. SERENA & LILY ’s Portland Bone Inlay Tray is subtle yet striking. $698, Serena & Lily, Birmingham, serenaandlily.com.
Whether you need a hostess surprise or a housewarming present, these finds have you covered
Styled by Jamie Fabbri
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The great room’s custom touches include four chandeliers designed around and for the second-story windows.

Opposite page: The dining area’s comfortable Theodore Alexander chairs pair well with an antique hutch from France.


Forever Home

A well-appointed Lake Leelanau new-build goes from getaway to mainstay


Future plans for a custom retreat located at the tip of Lake Leelanau prompted Rita O’Brien and her daughter, Colleen O’Brien-Seitz, lead design associate with Rita O’Brien Interiors, to create a special dwelling for a couple with a blended family that includes six grown kids. Since the Birmingham-based clients eventually plan to live up north, the end goal for the lakefront home is to be their main residence. “It has a view of the water from every nook and cranny in the entire house,” O’Brien says.

The views go both ways. “We were looking at the water, and how everything would look from the outside in, like the lighting and everything else on the main floor. You can go back and forth and have the serene feel of water when entertaining overnight guests,” O’Brien says. Overnight accommodations include an existing cottage on the property, as well as a boat house with an upstairs loft and an entertaining area on the main floor.

There’s plenty for everyone to do inside and out, including water activities like boating and jetskiing. “The couple works a lot, and when they go up north, it’s a retreat where they have a relaxed

Above: The kitchen’s warm walnut cabinets and wood floors enhance the custom island, built by a local carpenter. It features both porcelain and black granite.

lifestyle. They can also work up there,” O’Brien adds. “It’s clean and transitional, and natural-looking. Everything is serene; it’s not busy.”

The main home meets the family’s current and future needs thanks to high-quality selections such as cozy wool carpets, thick natural fabrics, and durable floor coverings that will stand the test of time. From a functional standpoint, the home has a spacious great room with two fireplaces, along with a three-season room with a pizza oven and another fireplace — perfect for the couple and their frequent guests for years to come.

Each room combines luxury with livability. “It has a very warm and inviting feeling, with softer fabrics and furniture styles,” O’Brien says. Custom touches include the four chandeliers in the great room, designed around and for the second-story windows. “They wanted stunning lights,” she explains. “When you’re on the lake and you look at the house, the lighting is beautiful.”

Comfortable places to gather support the couple’s casual lifestyle. “They use the great room to the fullest capacity,” O’Brien says, noting a seating area that features a fireplace and TV at each end

Above: Note the beautiful mantel in the dining area. It’s made from reclaimed wood. All of the artwork in the home is by Michign artists. Below: A guest bedroom looks out to a splendid lake vista.

of the room. A neutral sectional with contrasting trim joins a custom mohair ottoman and custom leather stools, while a custom-built bar-height table with swivel stools is another popular spot to relax.

“There’s plenty of flexible seating,” O’Brien adds.

“You can have 25 people in the room, or just a couple, or four.”

The natural color palette centers on creams and chocolate browns, with touches of black and green. A custom catwalk and staircase designed in collaboration with Rita O’Brien Interiors and the home’s builder add a powerful architectural presence. Other details include a Venetian plaster treatment that

mimics stone and lends texture to the fireplaces. All of the home’s mantels are made from reclaimed wood, while all of the artwork in the residence was made by Michigan artists. Durable indoor/outdoor rugs make the spaces pet-friendly for the couple’s dog.

In the kitchen, warm walnut cabinets and wood floors surround a custom island built by a local carpenter with parts featuring porcelain and black granite. Swivel stools with shapely bases to accommodate the island’s curvature and non-standard counter height also enhance the space, along with an antique hutch from France that has anchor-themed latches that suit the lakefront setting. Upholstered chairs support a traditional dining table that can seat 12.

“They said they were going to use the heck out of this home, so they wanted to make sure it was durable and beautiful,” O’Brien-Seitz says.

“Any time they’re there, there are 20 people, so there’s nothing that’s breakable,” O’Brien adds. “The pieces they have look great and still have a purpose.”

All of the lighting for the unique fixtures — including a semi-flush burlap and bronze metal pendant with custom coordinating sconces in a guest room — is on dimmers. Another bedroom has a pale palette that combines shades of blue with a variety of earth tones and is accentuated by

The Victoria + Albert bathtub from Herald Wholesale in Troy, modern artwork, and a Hubbardton Forge chandelier work together to create a chic bathroom vignette in the primary suite.
“The couple works a lot, and when they go up north, it’s a retreat where they have a relaxed lifestyle. They can also work up there.
It’s clean and transitional, and natural-looking. Everything is serene; it’s not busy.”
2023 55
The primary bedroom’s stone wall, cement pendants, and striking bed frame exude comfort and style.

In the powder room, Hubbardton Forge lighting, a custom mirror, and a Laurel Pitynski Designs painting complement one another, while the palette flows well with the rest of the home.


a wood and metal chandelier. On the main floor, a stone wall behind a four-poster bed in the primary bedroom is flanked by cement pendants. Personal spaces for the couple include a private exercise room, bathroom, walk-in closet, sitting room, and covered patio.

Before embarking on this project, their design team did some work in the family’s Birmingham home. “It was such a great opportunity to work with them. They were very engaged in the process, but we had input on everything,” O’Brien says. Her daughter agrees: “They gave us a lot of creative freedom,” she says.

For anyone planning to build a second home that eventually will become a permanent dwelling, O’Brien has some suggestions. “(There needs) to be a more conscientious idea of what you put into the home and how you build it, because it’s going to be forever,” she says. “To make it your house, you have to be very selective with every piece you bring in, keeping in mind during the whole process that this will be your forever home.”



Rita O’Brien Design Group, Troy, ritaobrien.com


Bathtub – Victoria + Albert, Herald Wholesale, Troy

Chandelier – Hubbardton Forge

Flooring – Stratus Marble & Granite, Traverse City

Plumbing – Ann Sacks, Michigan Design Center, Troy


Armchair – Verellen, Chatham House Lifestyle Gallery: A Verellen Boutique, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Bed Frame – Custom, Eastern


Bedspread – Custom, Eastern Accents

Bench – Currey & Company, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Chandelier – Lowcountry


Pillows, Throw – Custom, Eastern Accents

Rug – The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Sconces – Lowcountry Originals

Stool – Verellen, Chatham House Lifestyle Gallery: A Verellen Boutique, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Table, Bedside – Crestview Collection


Bed Frame – Universal Furniture Bedspread – Hickory Chair

Chandelier – Palecek, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Lamps, Bedside – Palecek, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Paintings – Susan Morosky, TRA Art Group, Clawson

Rug – The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Tables, Bedside – Arteriors, CAI Designs OR Lighting Resource Studio, Michigan Design Center, Troy


Bed Frame – Hickory Chair, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Bedspread – Custom, Tennant

& Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Blanket, Throw – Tennant & Associates, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Lighting – Currey & Company, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Pillows, Throw – Pindler, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Rug – The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Table, Bedside – Hickory Chair, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Wall Paint – Custom, Maple Hill Builders, Suttons Bay


Chairs, Dining – Theodore Alexander, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Chandelier – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Painting – Custom, Laurel

Pitynski Designs

Vase – Allstate Floral

Wall Paint – Venetian Plaster Co., Bloomfield Hills


Chandelier – Custom, Hubbardton Forge

Ottoman, Brown – Custom, Rita O’Brien Interiors, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Ottoman, Leather – Custom, Rita O’Brien Interiors, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Rug – The Ghiordes Knot, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Sofa – Hickory Chair

Table, Display – Custom, Chatham House Lifestyle

Gallery: A Verellen Boutique, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove


Cabinetry – Benjamin Moore, Alaskan Skies

Faucet – Brizo, Herald Wholesale, Troy

Lighting – Visual Comfort, City Lights Detroit, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Pot Filler – Brizo, Herald Wholesale, Troy

Stools, Bar – Custom, Verellen, Chatham House Lifestyle

Gallery: A Verellen Boutique, Michigan Design Center, Troy

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, White Dove


Countertop – Custom, Stratus

Marble & Granite, Traverse City

Lighting – Hubbardton Forge

Mirror – Custom, PF Galleries, Troy, MI

Painting – Laurel Pitynski Designs

Sink – Stone Forest, Herald Wholesale, Troy

Vase – Currey & Company, CAI Designs, Michigan Design Center, Troy


Architect – Sarah Bourgeois

Architects, Traverse City Builder – Maple Hill Builders, Suttons Bay

This guest room features a head-turning Palecek chandelier and serene artwork.

Saginaw Surprises

When planning a visit to this mid-Michigan community, be prepared to discover numerous fun elements

on the campus
free at
M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum
of Saginaw

ant to experience entertainment ranging from plays to national theater acts, concerts, sports, world-class museums, or exceptional restaurants serving everything from BBQ to fine dining on your next getaway? Then check out Saginaw and the surrounding Saginaw County for a surprising weekend escape destination that will leave you wondering why you haven’t been there before.

“It’s an amazing place to wind down and relax. Walk through the Castle Museum, see a show at the Temple Theater, and more,” says Michael Hensley, marketing director for the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is based in town.

“It’s also a great place to up the throttle,” Hensley adds. Indoor and outdoor fun awaits, including adventures you’d never expect this close to a city.


Your best major hotel chains close to town are near the I-675 exit to Tittabawassee Road. For a special experience in the city, check out the Montague Inn B&B. This former mansion is located near the Saginaw River, south of downtown. Or you can make camp in nearby Frankenmuth, with all the draws that Michigan’s Bavarian-themed town offers. If you’re in an RV, there’s also a campground.



Saginaw has some great dining choices. For casual fare, head to Baldwin’s Smokehouse BBQ, owned by Pastor Roy Baldwin and his wife, Evelyn. “My wife and I have been cooking for a long time. I come from a family of 14 (and was raised) near Altheimer, Ark., and cooking was always something we did on weekends,” Baldwin says. The couple married after both moved to work in Saginaw’s auto plants, and when they founded the Bethlehem Temple Church, they always held open houses after services. Everyone was welcome, including people who just dropped in unannounced.

“We were always cooking for different functions. People were always saying, well, if you opened a restaurant, we wouldn’t always be at your house,” he laughs. So, they opened a restaurant in 2019, four months before COVID hit. They managed to hang on through all the ups and downs and, in Baldwin’s words, “We’re still rolling.”

Baldwin’s specializes in St. Louis-style ribs, rib tips — those small rib end pieces with crunchy cartilage, smoked brisket, and chicken, and “a ton of pulled pork.”

Want to go large? Head to the city’s Old Town and Jake’s Old City Grill, at the corner of South Hamilton and Court. Since 2006, Jake’s has been serving steaks and seafood.

In the morning, treat the kids to a visit to the Saginaw Children’s Zoo. It’s a surprising find that features more than 150 different animals kids of any age can check out, from the penguin enclosure to peacocks that roam the grounds.


Here’s another surprising way to experience the wild side of Saginaw. Tag along with Wil Hufton, a.k.a. Johnny Panther — he’ll tell you how he got that nickname — as he takes groups from one to 10 into what he calls the “Everglades of Michigan.” Be prepared to be wowed.

“I’ll get you lost for three hours in part of the largest watershed in the state. It’s my passion. Most of those who get off my boat are pleasantly surprised. I’m just blessed,” Hufton says. He’s taken guests on journeys up the Saginaw River and into parts of the 10,000-acre Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and its connected neighbor, the Shiawassee River State Game Area, for the last 29 years.

“People thought I was out of my mind to do this. Thankfully, I didn’t listen.

Left: The Saginaw Children’s Zoo features more than 150 different animals, including these penguins. Below: The Saginaw Art Museum is housed in a former lumber baron’s mansion. Above: A paddler takes in the awesome autumn color along one of the local rivers.

People pay me to do what I love. This is 18,090 acres of river, marshes, and bays, 32 square miles,” Hufton explains.

“We see lots of eagles. We usually stop counting at 30. If we don’t see that many, I’ll blame it on you not living right,” he laughs. “I get people who are super birders, and a few years ago we found a wood stork out there. There are more than 180 species of birds including herons, great egrets, and, once in a while, an American white pelican.”

On a recent trip, my companions and I saw beaver and deer only a few miles from downtown. In the afterglow of a spectacular early fall sunset, we headed back to the dock as thousands of migrating waterfowl noisily settling in for the night filled the air with a cacophony of natural music. It was a truly amazing experience.

“The worst part, for me, is having to come back to the dock,” Hufton quips. “Bring a cooler full of whatever you want.

The most dangerous part of the trip is getting in or out of the boat.”

Hopefully you brought your bike to explore the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, which runs 11 miles between the city and St. Charles to the south. The 12-foot-wide paved and well-maintained converted rail trail runs through lots of natural areas and features seven restored railroad bridges over creeks, rivers, and wetlands.

Guests on a Johnny Panther tour get to explore the Saginaw River and parts of the 10,000-acre Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.
The historic city makes for a unique backdrop for boaters along the Saginaw River, which provides access to Saginaw Bay.


You’ll be wowed here, too. The restored historic 1927 Temple Theatre was saved from the wrecking ball, and now hosts national headline acts from comedians to concerts.

Drive 11 minutes north of downtown to see the next “wow,” at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University. Admission is free. Geoffe Haney is the recently retired collection manager of the facility that pays tribute to the sculptor who worked and taught at southeast Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Fredericks, considered one of the most prolific sculptors of the 20th century, was the genius behind Indian River’s Cross in the Woods, the Spirit of Detroit in downtown Detroit, and exhibits in Grand Rapids’ Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

“The main gallery contains more than

200 of the artist’s plaster models that went to the foundry to create the brass castings,” Haney says. “There are more than 20 bronzes casts of his works in a sculpture garden adjacent to the museum. The museum is one of only eight single-artist-designated museums in the country.

“We always have three to five temporary exhibitions in two galleries. People can immerse themselves with sculptures of various sizes, some reaching heights of around 28 feet. There are Marshall Fredericks sculptures in 23 states, and in Asia and Europe, so wherever people are headed there’s probably a work close by,” he adds.

Back downtown, The Castle Museum of Saginaw County History explores the area’s First Peoples, the city’s wealth created by lumber when the region was a vast white pine forest, and its auto industry, past and present.


Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau gogreat.com

Saginaw History sgsmi.org


How about some pre-holiday shopping at Birch Run’s Premium Outlets? Board the Bavarian Belle Riverboat for a mini-cruise on the Cass River at Frankenmuth, then enjoy a traditional family-style chicken dinner at Zehnder’s, or go German at the Bavarian Inn restaurant. Enjoy a taste of Saginaw’s Mexican heritage at any of several restaurants like El Rancho Grande, a local favorite for more than 23 years.

Future Planning: Return next spring (2024) for the Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup tournament at the home of the Saginaw Spirit hockey team, which plays at the Dow Event Center downtown. One weekend simply isn’t enough to pack it all in, but you can get a great start.

Created by renowned sculptor Marshall M. Fredericks, this charming Boy and Bear piece graces the grounds of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.

Let Them Eat … Quiche!

A warm pastry crust brimming with savory deliciousness is perfect for cool-weather entertaining

The day’s light is soft and golden, and beachside breezes can bite, with none of the summer’s sun-warmed caresses. Wool cardigans and fleece pullovers hang on mudroom hooks, replacing damp bathing suits and towels. Lawn mowers have been put away, and rakes and leaf blowers are now in easy reach.

Fall is here. We crunch the leaves under our feet as we hike along the lakeshore, play a backyard game of touch football, or go on a hayride and apple-picking, all the while breathing in the crisp, dusky air that only this season offers.

And when it’s time to share a meal with our family and guests, we want to serve something that’s richly flavorful, wholesome, and deliciously satisfying. For an autumn breakfast, lunch, or dinner, quiche is the perfect entrée.

Quiche — a dish that typically consists of eggs, cream, and cheese (often with pieces of vegetables and/or meat, usually ham or bacon) baked in a pastry crust — isn’t difficult to make, and it’s even easier to purchase.

A truly classic French quiche can be had from Claude Bouly-Pellerin’s Birmingham restaurant, The French Lady (zefrenchlady.com). At The French Lady, which opened in September of


2020, Bouly-Pellerin also creates and serves authentic French cuisine such as beef Bourguignon, cassoulet (white bean stew), coq au vin, salads, soups, lunch croissants and sandwiches, and an array of homemade desserts (chocolate mousse, meringues, madeleines, fruitfilled tarts) — all made only with local, fresh, in-season ingredients.

“I grew up on a farm in France,” Bouly-Pellerin explains, “and my grandmother taught me to cook. Everything was fresh, and mostly what we grew and raised ourselves. Now I’m lucky to be able to get all of our ingredients from farmers markets and local, small farms.” Some of her favorite local sources include Order Up Organic in Metamora, Stoney Creek Mushroom in Southfield,Wolgast Mushrooms in Berkley, and Fusilier’s Farm Market in Manchester. Rochester’s The Cheese Lady (thecheeselady.net) supplies her with farm-fresh cheeses.

In her restaurant, quiche is the best-seller, and many people order the pies whole, to take and serve at home. “Our quiches have two main ingredients: whole, large farm eggs and cream with salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg,” she says. “We have a ham and sweet Gruyere quiche and one with goat cheese and mushrooms. If you use only a few good ingredients, you can enjoy tasting everything, and you’re fully satisfied.”

When asked how she feels about a lower-fat-and-calorie version, she’s aghast.“No!” she exclaims, and then laughs, saying, “Just have a smaller slice and more salad!”

Offered here are three of my favorite quiche recipes (with cooking hints from Bouly-Pellerin), including ideas to make it gluten-free. Bon Appetit!

Basic Homemade Crust for Quiche

Note: When there isn’t time to make this crust, or if you need one that’s gluten-free, these pre-made crusts are highly recommended: Wholly Wholesome gluten-free 9-inch pie shell, Marie Callender’s Pastry Pie Shell, or classic Pillsbury Pie Crust. All are available at major grocery chains.


“When preparing any crust, make sure the water is truly ice cold,” recommends Claude Bouly-Pellerin, who teaches cooking classes in homes and in her restaurant. “And stop working the dough as soon as it forms a ball.”


1 ¼ cups unsifted, all-purpose flour (Note: Bouly-Pellerin uses French flour, which is available for sale in her restaurant. It’s not enriched and has less gluten.)

7 tablespoons salted butter, which has been frozen for 10 minutes

¼ teaspoon salt

8-10 tablespoons ice water


Make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour and salt. Using the large side of a grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture and toss with a fork. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork, until the dough just sticks together. Use as little water as possible to form the dough. With your hands, form the dough into a ball and then flatten into a disc.

Roll out the dough: Flour a clean work surface and dust a rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Then use the rolling pin to transfer the dough to a standard (not deepdish), 9-inch pie pan. Fold the overhanging dough backward and seal it to form a rim. Use your fingers to crimp the edges.

Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place the dough in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the freezer and place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the crust (crumbling the paper first will make it more flexible). Then, on top of the paper,


fill the dough with dry beans or dry rice or, if you have them, pie weights, to keep the crust from forming “bubbles.”

Bake: For 12 minutes, bake the crust at 400 degrees. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. At this time, remove the crust from the oven and carefully remove the beans, rice, or pie weights. Return the crust to the oven. During this baking time, you can make your quiche filling. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, until the bottom is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and add your quiche filling. Bake until the top is golden brown and the quiche is set, about 40 minutes. At 30 minutes, check the crust rim. If it’s browning too much, cover it (but not the filling) with a crust guard you can form from aluminum foil.

Classic Quiche

Lorraine Filling


¾ cup cooked, chopped bacon

1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

3 eggs

1 cup cream

Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste


If available, use thick-slab bacon. For a truer country-French taste, use fresh farm eggs.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cheese on the bottom of the crust, and then add the bacon pieces. To prepare the filling, beat the eggs in a medium bowl and then add the cream and the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour this mixture into the crust and then top with a little more grated cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes, until the filling feels firm to the touch, but not hard. Allow quiche to cool for 15 minutes before serving.


For any meal of the day or night, this quiche pairs perfectly with a lightly dressed mixed-greens salad and a side of fresh berries or melon.



Although most frozen hash browns are glutenfree, check the ingredients before purchasing. When forming the crust, try to make the thickness on the sides and the bottom consistent.

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with Hash Brown (Gluten-Free) Crust


4 cups shredded, thawed hash brown potatoes

2 tablespoons melted butter, divided Butter (not melted) for basting the pan

1 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Baste a 9-inch pie dish with butter.

In a medium bowl, toss together the thawed hash browns, the salt, and one tablespoon of the melted butter. Press this mixture into the sides and bottom of the pie dish. Baste with the remaining melted butter.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust bottom is lightly browned and the top edges are a little crisp. Set aside to cool. Reset oven temperature to 350 degrees for the filling.



Sautée the broccoli until just tender, to avoid sogginess after baking. This filling can be used with any type of homemade or purchased pie or quiche crust.

Vegetarian Filling


2 cups small broccoli florets

1 ½ teaspoons oil for sautéing (I use light olive oil)

1 cup diced onion (sweet onion, if available)

3 large eggs

1 cup of cream or half-and-half

¾ cup grated cheddar cheese

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


In a medium skillet, heat the oil until just before smoking. Add the chopped onion. Sauté for one minute. Add the broccoli and sauté until just tender. Set aside. In a medium bowl, with a whisk, whip the eggs, cream or half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Fold in the cheese and the sautéed vegetables. Spoon the mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is set and golden. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.


This — or any — quiche makes wonderful leftovers. Reheat in a toaster oven (no microwave!) for 15 minutes. While it’s heating, make yourself some coffee or juice (if breakfast), or pour a glass of wine to go with a slice for lunch or dinner.


Using wellsqueezed frozen (instead of fresh) spinach that is then sautéed ensures that the spinach won’t become soggy. Feel free to use ½ cup of crumbled bacon or vegetarian bacon product instead of the sun-dried tomatoes if you prefer, or use a variety among the little crusts. Using a dark-colored mini-muffin tin will help the quiches to brown a little better. Don’t overfill, as these little quiches will rise.

3Easy Appetizer Mini-Quiches


1 box of pre-made pie dough for two crusts

8 ounces of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, with excess water squeezed out

2 cloves of minced garlic

3 large eggs

¼ cup cream or half-and-half ½ cup shredded cheese of your choice ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped and drained Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 24-muffin mini-muffin pan with cooking oil.

On medium heat, sauté the squeezed spinach and garlic for 2-3 minutes, and then chop the spinach smaller. Set aside. Roll out the pie crust and cut 24 rounds, 2 ½ inches each, using a glass or cookie cutter. Lightly press each round into the muffin pan.

Into each crust, put divided spinach, shredded cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.

In a large measuring cup or medium bowl with a spout, whisk the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture into each of the crusts. Bake for 23-25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes. The tops will deflate a bit during cooling time.


The beauty of these (in addition to eating them) is that they can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for two days or in the freezer for two months. To reheat from the refrigerator, warm them at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes; from the freezer, heat them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Those who taste them are sure to say, “Merci beaucoup!”


Serenity Awaits

Modern beach house on Lake Michigan becomes year-round retreat

The homeowners love to bask in a Lake Michigan sunset from a variety of exterior perches.

Both pages: The custom new-build can accommodate 12 to 14 guests, but the creative footprint that features three stacked volumes of different functions on a tight lot works equally well for the family of five.


For their second home in Pentwater, these homeowners were seeking a retreat from their busy lives at their main base in the Cleveland suburbs. Mathison | Mathison Architects in Grand Rapids created the perfect escape for the couple, who have three young children and wanted a modern beach house that would highlight the views and enable indoor/outdoor living in the scenic location.

“I didn’t realize until after this project that West Michigan is a unique place within the Midwest that people flock to from a lot of other Midwest states,” architect principal Ben Franceschi says. “The homeowners were pretty committed to Pentwater, and they prove that by how often they use the house.”

This particular setting felt like a great fit. “It was the closest white sand beach to Cleveland, and Pentwater has that small-town feel,” the wife says. “It’s very family-oriented and unpretentious. We get ice cream in town. It’s really sweet.

“Our goal in building the home was to have the ability to create memories and legacies with our children,” she continues. “The repetition of memories is something we cherish with the traditions that we build. We also love to travel, but this is a little spot of heaven that we’ll hopefully (be able to) pass down.”

The custom new-build can accommodate 12 to 14 guests, but the creative footprint that features three stacked volumes of different functions on a tight lot works equally well for the family of five. “They’re a remarkable couple who really have their act together, with three kids under the age of 5 (at the time),” Franceschi says. “Both work full-time and the wife had a baby during construction, but she was extremely involved with the project.

“She was responsible for some really great design decisions. In the end, it blossomed into something remarkable. They came to us really loving our work, and they wanted to maximize the lot. They

were very motivated and organized.” Franceschi also credits the builder, Shawn Frisbie of Denali Custom Homes, for the successful outcome.

“Each level of the home has a very focused primary function,” architect Emily Scrimger-McNamara explains. The lower level includes an outdoor shower, a mudroom with storage, and a bunk room, while the main level features a kitchen, living and dining areas, and has an open floor plan and sliding glass doors that lead to an expansive deck with direct beach access. “The upper floor maximizes space with pretty compact bedrooms. Each has its own en suite bath, and the primary bedroom has its own upper deck. The views are spectacular and there’s a purity to that,” she adds.

Lead interior designer Lauren Normandin also worked closely with the homeowner. “She wanted to be really involved with the design. She has an appreciation for design and, collaboratively, a lot of the interior furniture decisions she did herself,” Normandin says. “She has super good taste and it


was really fun to work with her. (Although there’s) a big focus on the beach, she wanted the essence to be a little more refined with a casual, relaxed feel, but (it’s) still modern and clean.”

The homeowners were deeply invested at every stage of the design process, like the concrete base that supports the building. On the exterior, robust materials, such as composite wood, were strategically placed to balance light and privacy.

Inside, the neutral palette suits the serene setting. “We kept it pretty minimal with built-in moments that keep it intuitive, not fussy,” Normandin says. Scrimger-McNamara adds: “It was very intentional where to put all the details.” Flexibility for guests was important, like the twin beds in a guest room that can be pushed together, and the bunk room for little ones.

Fluid living doubles the fun for everyone. “The deck that spans the entire width of the house takes the program inside, and repeats it with dining and living even closer to the lake,” Franceschi says.

Top: The homeowners wanted the design essence to be refined with a casual, relaxed feel, but still modern and clean — as evident in the living room. Above: Minimal and intuitive were some of the overall goals for the home, including in this bathroom.

Even the kitchen has a pareddown feel with a no-fuss appeal.


This page: Beautiful built-ins, a convenient wine cooler, and a cozy chair create a perfect spot for reading or planning the day ahead.

Opposite page, both photos: Everything is ship-shape in both the primary bedroom and bunk room/sink area.


“You want to maximize your time on the water, and hang out and recreate.” He explains that the unique structure has a distinct style and attitude that sets it apart. For a pared-down description, he says, “It’s a very exquisite box.”

The timing of the project turned out well, too. “The wife had her third baby when the home was under construction, and it was very important for her to spend her maternity leave at this house. It was a nice gift to get the project wrapped up and add an extra layer of memories for them,” Normandin says.

At the family’s retreat, beauty and ease enjoy an effortless connection inside and out. “We wanted to make it easy to go in and out. We have the sound of waves and the breezes, with a huge deck,” the wife says. “In the summer, there are no screens and no TVs. We try to have our kids enjoy their childhood. They play outside on the beach for hours, or in their snowsuits in the winter. It’s a year-round escape for us. We just can’t get enough of the lake.”



Mathison | Mathison Architects, Grand Rapids, mathisonarchitects.com


Countertop – ENVI Surfaces, Farmington Hills

Faucets – Delta

Flooring – Mirage

Hardware, Vanity – Top Knobs

Mirror – Shades of Light

Shower – Delta

Sink – Kohler

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace


Bedding – Beddy’s

Bunk Beds – RH

Cabinetry – Talsma Wood Products, Grandville

Faucet – Delta

Flooring – Shaw Contract

Hardware, Vanity – Top Knobs

Lighting – Lighting Reimagined

Mirror – Pottery Barn

Sink – Kohler

Towel Holder – Delta

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace


Bedding – West Elm

Duvet – Casaluna

Flooring – Bamboo, Cali Floors

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace


Flooring – Aztec

Lighting – Lightology

Paint Color – Ceraclad, Cappuccino (Urban Line pattern) and Silk (Zen

Garden Line pattern)

Pillows, Throw – Pottery Barn

Railing – Cable Rail System, Feeney

Sofa – Outer

Trellis – Aztec


Backsplash – Imola Ceramica

Cabinetry – Talsma Wood

Products, Grandville

Countertop – ENVI Surfaces, Farmington Hills

Flooring – Bamboo, Cali Floors

Fridge – Café, Gerrit’s Appliance, Wyoming

Hardware – Top Knobs

Lighting – Cedar & Moss

Stove – Café, Gerrit’s Appliance, Wyoming

Vent Hood Finish – Portola

Paints & Glazes

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace


Artwork – Soicher Marin

Blanket, Throw – Threshold, Studio McGee, Target

Chair, Hanging – Serena & Lily

Fireplace – Napoleon

Flooring – Bamboo, Cali Floors

Plant, Potted – Studio McGee

Sofa – Four Seasons

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace


Armchair – Four Seasons

Cabinetry – Talsma Wood

Products, Grandville

Flooring – Bamboo, Cali Floors

Hardware – Top Knobs

Lamp, Top – McGee & Co.

Plant Pot – Threshold, Studio McGee, Target

Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace

Wine Cooler – Café, Gerrit’s Appliance, Wyoming


Architect (Former Architectural Designer/Intern) – Matt

McDonald, Mathison | Mathison Architects, Grand Rapids

Architect (Former Architectural Designer/Coordinator/CA

Assist) – Dan Smuk, Mathison | Mathison Architects, Grand Rapids

Engineer, Structural – Roger Kelly, Engineered Structures, LLC, Grandville


eweenaw Castle Resort and Fitzgerald’s Hotel and Restaurant offer ideal settings for those seeking cozy, comfortable, and secluded Upper Peninsula accommodations mere feet from Lake Superior.

Guests arriving at Keweenaw Castle, in Allouez Township, nestled in a remote section of the Keweenaw Peninsula’s western shore, are greeted by a simple wooden sign hanging from a post made of tree branches that depicts pines on either side of a couple holding hands.

The relatively new 5,000-square-foot structure is, indeed, castle-like, with a turret protruding from the top.

The exterior is a mix of distinctively designed woodwork and red-hued stonework.

Inside are four luxurious and spacious two-person suites, three featuring breathtaking views of the lake. A loaded common area, shared by all guests, includes a fireplace, kitchen, large satellite television, cedar-lined sauna, game room, treadmills, hot tub, and walk-out beach access.

“I think what makes our place unique is the fact that there are only four suites and we live on-site,” says Nancy DeForge, who co-owns the property with her husband, Keith. “It’s like having a concierge and knowl-

The M-26 south shore drive along Lake Superior in the Keweenaw Peninsula offers stunning fall color views.

edgeable local on-call. Additionally, we’re tucked in the woods on the Lake Superior shore, yet just minutes from (good) dining. It’s the perfect blend of seclusion and peace, with close proximity to popular amenities.”

Roughly six miles north, in the hamlet of Eagle River, guests checking into one of six newly renovated, boutique rooms at Fitzgerald’s open their doors to 500 square feet of radiance, with up-close views of Lake Superior’s waves. All but one guest room includes a private balcony or walk-out patio just steps from the rocky beach.

Those staying here are soon drawn to the enticing aromas that emanate from the adjoining restaurant (reservations required), a popular dining spot and the closest eatery to Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.

“We’re offering a rare combination of comfortable, modern lodging and dining with some food people wouldn’t otherwise find in the area,” says owner Mike LaMotte, who took over the business from his parents in 2007. “We’ve put plenty of effort into making our rooms a place to stay rather than just a place to sleep. We’ve also built an expansive drink menu with many whiskeys, craft beers, and house cocktails.”

The drink menu features more than 200 offerings, the result of LaMotte forging relationships with many breweries and distilleries.“Our drink menu has been a big point of pride and we have pretty high standards for what we choose to serve,” LaMotte says. “Our Old Fashioned is probably our most popular. It’s made with really good, traditional ingredients (including bourbon and syrup), and served with 2-inch, hand-cut ice cubes.”

Southern-style barbecue — brisket, ribs, and pork — that’s prepared daily in Fitzgerald’s wood-fired smoker anchors the menu. Other customer favorites include poutine, a Nashville hot chicken sandwich, pan-seared salmon, and grilled whitefish. LaMotte’s girlfriend is of Vietnamese descent, which inspired the addition of dishes like the Banh Mi sandwich and stir-fried Udon noodles. Guests are welcome to drink, dine, and mingle on an outdoor deck.

“I’ve never thought of us as a fine dining (establishment), but as a good place with fine food in a comfortable setting with an incredible view,” LaMotte says. “The barbecue has been very successful for us, and the blending of Vietnamese dishes into the menu has led to a pretty unique combination of offerings.”

In 2020, the hotel’s 12 rooms were condensed into six and completely upgraded. They now include a king bed, lounging furniture such as sofas with Pendleton blankets, high-speed Wi-Fi, a large television, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a French press coffee setup with freshly ground beans from The Jampot, a nearby iconic bakery and specialty food store run by monks.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF KEWEENAW CASTLE RESORT (ABOVE); FITZGERALD’S HOTEL (BELOW) Above: Keweenaw Castle Resort features four suites. The owners live on-site and can offer ideas on what to do and where to explore. Below: All but one guest room at Fitzgerald’s include a private balcony or walk-out patio, just steps from the Lake Superior beach.
“We’re (Fitzgerald’s) offering a rare combination of comfortable, modern lodging and dining with some food people wouldn’t otherewise find in the area.”


“The biggest feedback we’ve received since renovating the rooms is how they’re very peaceful, laid-back places to stay compared to other hotels,” LaMotte says. “Guests like that, with one king bed in six rooms, there aren’t a lot of people staying. They love listening to the waves with a drink.”

Earlier this year, afar.com called Fitzgerald’s one of the seven best hotels from which to view the Northern Lights in the lower 48 states.


Back at the Keweenaw Castle, south of Eagle River, all suites include quality linens and robes along with high-speed Wi-Fi. Guests enjoy unlimited coffee, tea, and snacks; a self-serve breakfast; and the use of an outdoor grill.

The Turret Suite, with its distinctive custom woodwork, encompasses the entire third floor. It has an indoor seating area and outdoor seating on a private balcony, as well as a queen-sized electric-frame bed, a wet bar, beverage station, mini-fridge, wine ensemble, and microwave. There’s also a telescope for stargazing and freighter sightings.

The main floor Grand Suite features 10-foot ceilings, heated tile flooring, a split king electric-frame bed, a copper-topped fireplace, and a master bath with a corner jetted tub and shower with full-body massage spray. The suite has access to a semiprivate beachfront patio, as well.

The second-floor Balcony Suite boasts a king-sized, electric-framed bed, a walk-in shower, a wet bar, and a private balcony with seating.

The Cubby Suite faces away from Lake Superior, but has a queen bed, private bathroom, Smart TV, coffee/tea maker, mini-fridge, microwave, remote-controlled fan, and wine ensemble.

Guests also have access to movies, books, board games, four kayaks, and a canoe (with life jackets and whistles), snorkeling gear, a fire pit, and 400 feet of rocky beach perfect for finding agates and Yooperlights, a rock-hunter’s treasure that glows under a UV light.

The castle’s newest addition is a hot tub facing the lake in a Four Seasons room that has an operable glass panel wall. “It’s the perfect place to be used as a screen room when needed,” Nancy says. “It’s open-air all summer and

buttoned up with in-floor heat during the winter.”

As someone who’s explored this northernmost tip of Michigan many times, here’s a look at some of my fall favorites to enjoy while staying at these two delightful properties.


While there are several ways to experience the area’s blazing fall color show, Brockway Mountain Drive tops the list. Beginning just north of Eagle Harbor off M-26, this 8.8-mile stretch of beauty tops out high above Copper Harbor, with astounding views in all directions.

“Brockway offers one of the best, most breathtaking views in the UP, and with the fall colors, it’s in a league of its own with lots of spots to take in the sights along the roadway to the top,” says Steve Jurmu, who conducts tours of the area’s natural beauty and historic sites.

“You can see Lake Superior, Lake Fanny Hooe, and the Copper Harbor Lighthouse in one direction, and

in the
Keweenaw Castle | keweenawcastle.com Fitzgerald’s Hotel and Restaurant | fitzgeralds-mi.com Visit Keweenaw | visitkeweenaw.com Fun
UP Tours |
The scenic Brockway Mountain Drive between Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor takes visitors on an elevated 8.8-mile adventure that’s more than 720 feet above Lake Superior at its highest vantage point.

then Lake Medora to the south, and Eagle Harbor, Lake Bailey, and Agate Harbor to the west. Even Isle Royale comes into view on a clear day,” he adds.

Another legendary drive is the 10-mile stretch between Delaware and Copper Harbor on U.S. 41, where the trees — some as close as 3 feet from the pavement — form a complete canopy.

Hiking to the top of Mt. Baldy near Eagle Harbor rates among the best options for seeing fall colors on foot. The nearly 7-mile, out-and-back route involves a steady climb but is well worth the effort.

“The top is totally open, with no trees, and you’ll see the conglomerate rockface with views for miles,” Jurmu says.

Other options include taking chairlift rides at Mount Bohemia in Lac La Belle or Mont Ripley in Hancock, booking a flight on the Isle Royale Seaplane, or venturing onto Lake Superior for a 2.5-hour cruise offered by Keweenaw Boat Tours.

“The fall color ride at Mount Bohemia is comfortable and rewarding,” says Jesse Wiederhold, Visit Keweenaw’s public relations coordinator, “and the Isle Royale Sea Plane offers a very unique experience to see fall color in the area.”


A little farther drive across the peninsula takes you to Mount Arvon, the state’s highest point at 1,979 feet. It’s located south of Skanee in the Huron Mountain Range. Getting there involves a trek that eventually follows blue diagonal signs (not your GPS) and requires a little caution navigating the winding, sometimes bumpy and rocky, route.

“There’s a spot where some trees were cleared out that provides a nice view looking out to Lake Superior, and on a clear day you can see Huron Bay, Point Abbaye, Keweenaw Bay, and the Keweenaw Peninsula,” Jurmu says.


The area is home to many waterfalls. Some of the best and most convenient to reach are Hungarian Falls, a series of breathtaking drops on Dover Creek as it plunges into Torch Lake south of Lake Linden; Jacob’s Falls; Haven Falls (Lac La Belle); Eagle River Falls; and Manganese Falls, which flows through a deep gorge outside Copper Harbor.

Wiederhold always recommend Jacob’s, Haven, and Eagle River falls because they’re easily accessible and don’t require much of a walk. And don’t miss Canyon Falls, south of L’Anse on the Sturgeon River, which roars through a 30-foot slate canyon. There’s a new boardwalk that makes the trail easier to walk on.

There are numerous waterfalls to explore in this region of the Upper Peninsula, including Jacob’s Falls, which is about 3 miles northeast of Fitzgerald’s Hotel.


86 Tasting Room

Thumb Brewery welcomes locals and cottagers to its happy vibe with a collection of the best craft brews around.

88 Dining Out Detroit’s Coriander Kitchen & Farm offers locally grown natural goodness, much of it from their own gardens.

90 Book It

Port Huron’s boutique CityFlatsHotel graces the riverfront with historic charm and eco-consciousness.

92 Discoveries

Manistee, a 154-yearold Victorianinfluenced Lake Michigan port city, undergoes a 21stcentury renaissance.

The CityFlatsHotel is located in a 1900s former bank building. It’s now a member of the Ascend Hotel Collection’s independent hotels. Read about it inside this section.

Caseville Cheers

Thumb Brewery welcomes locals and cottagers to its happy vibe with a collection of the best craft brews around

When Fred and Jenn Meier stay at their cottage between Caseville and Port Austin, near Oak Beach, they always stop at Thumb Brewery at some point during their visit. It offers everything they love, including craft beers that rank high on their list of favorites.

As members of the Michigan Brewers Guild, they’re quick to share that “we’re IPA heads,” Fred says. “We like a lot of hops,” Jenn adds. The couple has the current owners, who envisioned that the old place could be overhauled to become a wonderful spot for locals and cottagers alike, to thank for that.

In July of 2020, Lauren Formicola and her brother, Mark Formicola, purchased what was an old 1900 farmhouse that had been turned into Thumb Brewery. Lauren Formicola, who lives in a little cottage behind the brewery, located in Caseville, says she had been looking for a new project.

“Mark found Thumb Brewery while he was out looking at fall colors,” Lauren says. “After a few Kona Coffee Stouts, he noticed a sign that said the brewery was for sale, and he asked about it.”

Mark texted Lauren a picture of the forsale sign, which had been up since 2015. “At that time, I was thinking of buying a bar in Key West,” says Lauren, who was living in the Pacific Northwest.

“We decided to put together a low-ball offer,” she continues. The owners came very close to their offer, and the rest is brewery history. The siblings financed the purchase, as well as a new production facility they refer to as the “Brewery Barn.”

Lauren moved back to Michigan and they broke ground on the beer-lover’s jewel, located in the center of town, in May of 2022.

Today, the “Barn” stands right next to the restaurant, where an old garage once was. “We can now produce more beer and more styles of beer,” Lauren explains. “We now have the capability to do small batches of unique beers in the basement and

“We can seat about 125 outside and 48 inside,” says Lauren Formicola, right, owner of Thumb Brewery in Caseville.

our signature beers in the larger facility.”

Signature beers include West Coast IPA, Pilsner, and Hefeweizen. Smaller batches might include Oatmeal Stout, Kona Coffee Stout, and Pumpkin Spice. “The basement brewery is still there, and we do specialty brews there like Coconut Porter and Lady Lavender,” Lauren says.

Mark, who lives in Shelby, visits the brewery regularly. “Mark is good at helping to keep the place maintained. I have a crew, but I often cook and bar-tend,” Lauren says. The siblings also work the room.

As for food, Lauren says the facility serves friendly, gastro pub-style food such as charbroiled burgers, flatbreads, sandwiches, and salads. “We’re known for our Brussels sprouts and fried pretzels,” she shares, adding that the secret to the sprouts is to flash-cook them and then add a balsamic glaze with fresh shredded parmesan seasoning.

“We put in a charbroiler, a hood, a range, and a fryer. That’s a significant investment. We wanted to get a full kitchen going and we wanted to offer charbroiled burgers,” Lauren explains.

The beer mecca has quite a following these days, and at peak season, some 30 people make up the friendly staff. Not only is there plenty of room indoors, but the brewery also welcomes guests out-


Thumb Brewery presents live music on the patio most weekends. A stand-up comedy show with Hard G is set for Sept. 30. Patio Pour Brewfest is Oct. 7. A Dog O Weenie Costume Contest with Pups is Oct. 22. The Witches Walk in Caseville takes place Oct. 28 (a Witches Ball will be held at the brewery from 6:30-10 p.m.). The brewery is open six days a week and closes in early November, after Holly Berry Weekend (Nov. 4-5), a town holiday shopping event. It reopens for Shanty Days Feb. 17-18. thumbbrewery.com

doors during spring, summer, and fall. “We can seat about 125 outside and 48 inside,” Lauren says.

Along the way, the Formicolas discovered that the old 1900 farmhouse has a bit of Thumb-area history. It was once known as the Quinn house and, in that family’s honor (there are a lot of Quinns in the area still), the siblings — thanks to the astute skills of brewer Nick Bowlby — offer a signature red ale known as Quinn’s Irish Red. It was the first batch made in the new brewing facility. With 28 taps and 12 styles of their craft beer, great musical entertainment (everything from classic rock to Indie folk), and beefy chargrilled burgers, it’s no wonder the place has a

regular following.

For those looking for gluten-free options, there’s always a cider on tap from Blake’s or Vander Mill, as well as wine and other offerings.

The Formicola siblings aim to keep using a lot of Michigan-based ingredients if they can. “We buy Michigan hops from North Kinde Hops nearby, and we make Kinde Hop IPA. We have the best margarita in the Thumb, and our Anteel tequila is produced in the Detroit area.”

A large patio (the largest in the Thumb, Lauren says), brightly colored blue and yellow umbrellas, round tables where large parties can sit, a mural, and other charming elements add to the brewery’s cheery ambience.

Lauren says she’s starting to see a lot of repeat customers. That includes Fred and Jenn Meier.

“My favorite food is the walleye sandwich,” Jenn says. “It’s outstanding, with a blackened taste and with a crispy kind of kale. And we always have the pretzel bites,” Jenn says. “Those are addicting!”

“We want people to know about what some call ‘The Forgotten Coast,’ ” Lauren says. With the fresh brews and great gastro offerings — including those easyto-get-hooked-on pretzels — it’s a sure bet that this place won’t soon be forgotten.

Left: The historic farmhouse-turnedbrewery has a welcoming look. Above: A range of beer varieties (and charbroiled fare) awaits Thumb-area residents and visitors alike.

Simply Delicious

Detroit’s Coriander Kitchen & Farm emphasizes locally grown, natural goodness — and much of the produce comes from the owners’ garden

The menu theme at Coriander Kitchen & Farm in Detroit is this: Keep it simple, keep it healthy, and keep it good. While running both a restaurant and a farm certainly isn’t simple, co-owners Gwen Meyer and Alison Heeres are accomplishing it all at this neighborhood eatery.

Located on a canal just a stroll from the start of the Detroit River in the city’s Jefferson Chalmers Historic Business District nestled between Mariner’s Park and Riverfront-Lakewood East Park, this eclectic spot should be on your discovery

list if you’re looking for a loving human touch in a quiet neighborhood setting. What’s more, meals feature food grown on the restaurant’s own farm, located nearby at Chene and Gratiot streets.

Meyer and Heeres began their remediated soil farm, all 12 city blocks of it, in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood in 2015. It now boasts two passive solar greenhouses that help supply the eatery.

Meyer looks after the farm’s more than 100 different types of herbs, vegetables, and flowers, while Heeres is the chef. Coriander, as the restaurant’s name suggests, is among the stars on the menu.

They wanted to create a restaurant to grow and share beautiful and vegetable-forward food with the community. The building they chose was virtually a shell, but they’ve succeeded nicely. More and more people, both nearby residents and suburbanites, have been taking notice. In fact, of you want to get in, you’d better have reservations on special days and weekends.

Restaurant work is tough, and long hours are the rule. As Meyer says, “I feel like we’re working when we’re not sleeping.”

During a recent visit, Meyer cut trimmed flowers grown at the restaurant’s farm while servers scurried to satisfy the lunch crowd at this former marina — a sign still pays it homage — which was totally rehabbed when Meyer’s husband, Alex Howbert, purchased it in 2016 to run the next-door Detroit River Sports kayak and paddleboard tours.

Coriander’s seating ranges from indoor options to funky, reclaimed garden furniture. A small restored travel trailer even is part of the eclectic mix.

From the lunch menu, my party and I sampled the veggie mezza, a combination of Calabrian chilis and citrus-marinated white beans, plus the vegetarian grape leaves as appetizers, topping out with the all-veggie falafel wrap packed with herbs, feta, romaine, and other garden goodies, and Fattoush dressing.

Meyer and Heeres came to Detroit to do nonprofit work in 2008. Meyer worked at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Earthworks

Top: Coriander’s seating options include funky, reclaimed garden furniture. Patrons can take in an intriguing canal view. Above: The owners grow about 100 different herbs and vegetables, flowers, and even edible flowers they use for their drink and food menu items.

Urban Farm, the first certified organic farm in the city, while Heeres did nutrition education through the University of Michigan.

After a few years, Meyer says, “We were both kind of done, (but) we believed that food would be something we should do (and) we decided to work together to start this. I was an English major and an AmeriCorps volunteer. Both Ali and I are self-taught.”

The area literally drips with Detroit and American history. Coriander Kitchen & Farm is on a canal flowing into the Detroit River and next to Fox Creek, named for the First Americans who lived here. In the 1700s, the French developed their famous ribbon farms in the same area. And when the neighborhood was developed again in the 1920s, those numerous canals crossed by arching bridges gave the area the nickname “Detroit’s Venice.”

“We want it to feel cozy and comfortable. We’re more funky. We wanted to be inspired by color and pattern, and what we’re growing. And, with it, the menu is vegetable-forward. The food is directed by what’s coming fresh out of the farm, be it herbs or vegetables. What we’re really focused on is great flavor and local produce, and the proteins come after that,” Meyer explains.


She says the most popular item is the marrow beef burger, a 5.5-ounce dry-aged treat with cheddar and anchovy-accented sauce that’s served to medium doneness. The menu clarifies that because, since it’s dry-aged, the burger may appear red.

The expanded dinner menu includes another popular item right out of a London fish-chippery: a 7-ounce beer-battered haddock fillet served with fries, lemon tartar sauce, and a lemon slice.

Another favorite is a curried red lentil crepe stuffed with farm spinach, mushrooms, maple-mustard roasted carrots, avocado crème, and shallots.

“The fish and chips and the new red lentil crepe are very popular. We have so much demand with walk-ins that it’s

untenable, so (we recommend you make) reservations,” says Meyer, who adds that the upstairs patio is for private events and weddings. Libations include a twist on a margarita, with farm jalapenos and cilantro, as well as a traditional margarita.

“What’s very interesting is we weren’t surprised by business in the summer, because who doesn’t want to be on the water? We’re working to come up with creative strategies for fall, winter, and early spring, with things like live music,” Meyer says. “Our permanent space is heated and we have fire pits throughout. We generally close in January.

“What we’re trying to do is be more of a neighborhood spot. We thought about making it more of a high-end space, but that’s not where our hearts are at,” she says. “There’re so many people who have been fishing the river here for years. The neighborhood is amazing to be a part of.”

Reservations are recommended for weekends and special days. While the permanent indoor space is heated, the restaurant closes in January and reopens in the spring. The 5.5 -ounce, dry-aged marrow beef burger ranks as the eatery’s most popular item.

Waterfront Wonder

Port Huron’s new boutique hotel, CityFlats, graces the riverfront with historic charm, modern comfort, and eco-consciousness

Nearly a century ago, the Federal Commercial and Savings Bank opened at the corner of Military and Water streets along the Black River in downtown Port Huron. Its stately facade would later house the Michigan National Bank (a name that remains boldly emblazoned on the side of the building) before recently being transformed into the latest CityFlatsHotel.

The CityFlatsHotel brand was launched in 2008 by Charles “Chuck” Reid of Zeeland-based Charter House Innovations to showcase his company’s sustainable designs. The inaugural Holland location (rebranded this past spring as Tulyp Hotel — Tapestry Collection by Hilton) was the first hotel in the Midwest and only the second in the world to achieve LEED Gold certification. A sec-

ond CityFlatsHotel opened in downtown Grand Rapids in 2011 in the former Fox Jewelers building (also LEED Gold), followed by the Port Huron location in June 2022 — the first boutique hotel in the city of nearly 29,000 residents.

“We’re proud to be an independently owned, eco-chic, boutique hotel where historic charm meets modern comfort,” says Sara Bower, director of sales and marketing for Charter House Innovations, which also owns Sperry’s Moviehouse locations in Port Huron and Holland.

Each of the property’s 18 rooms is individually curated, and no two are identical. The elegant master suite, which affords views of both downtown Port Huron and the Black River, features a rounded living room and large bathroom with a walk-in shower and soaking tub.

“Our eco-consciousness can be found in the details of our building’s renovation — sustainable cork flooring, energy-effi-

Photos by Ashley Wierenga PLAN IT! CityFlatsHotel Port Huron cityflatshotel.com Each of the 18 CityFlatsHotel guest rooms features a different design. Inset: The downtown riverfront boutique hotel occupies a former 1900s bank building.

cient lighting and plumbing, and naturally hypoallergenic bamboo linens,” Bower notes. “Many guests are especially smitten with our beds and pillows, which is fabulous because our mattresses (CityDrem) are custom designed for our hotel and our pillows are high-end luxury, to ensure guests can truly relax. We strive for the perfect balance of comfort and sustainability (across our entire property).”

In addition to the comfortably stylish guest rooms, CityFlatsHotel Port Huron boasts an opulent 300-person ballroom within the grand banking hall from the early 1900s, complete with 30-foot-tall windows, towering ceilings, marble columns, gold leafing details, and the original bank vault, which is a popular spot for taking photographs.

“The ballroom also offers a new sound system and customizable spectrum lighting options throughout the space, to give an upscale ambience to the events we host — whether it’s a corporate celebration, anniversary or birthday party, or something else entirely,” Bower says. “One of our wedding coordinators recently said we’ve become a popular venue for Canadian-American couples because Sarnia, Canada, is literally right across the St. Clair River from us.”

Visitors will find plenty to whet their appetites at CitySide restaurant, a recreated blend of former on-site eateries that reopened this summer. During the boating season, the CityFloats bar-barge is a hotspot along the hotel’s riverside terrace, serving classic cocktails and a variety of appetizers and entrées. It’s also a prime location for viewing the annual Bayview to Mackinac Yacht Race, held each July and recognized as one of the longest and most challenging freshwater boat races in the world (it was first held in 1925).

“This boutique hotel is one of the newer additions to the Thumbcoast, and it’s a well-done collaboration of modern-styled rooms housed in a historic building,” says Katie Stepp, marketing manager at the Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Best of all, it’s centrally located on the maritime waterfront in

downtown Port Huron with entertainment, eateries, and shopping.”

In June 2023, the Port Huron hotel (as well as the Grand Rapids location) announced a partnership with Choice Hotels — Ascend Hotel Collection, a collective of independent, upscale boutique hotels.

“What makes Ascend particularly special is that we can remain an autonomous and

local brand while continuing to offer a personalized experience for our guests,” Bower says. “The rewards program through Choice allows guests to trust that they’ll find that personal, boutique experience wherever they wish to go, and they can easily find properties in cities throughout the U.S. and worldwide. We also love that they’re committed to eco-friendliness.”

Top: An eco-friendly lobby welcomes guests with locally crafted furniture and cork flooring. Above: Sleek bathrooms are stocked with high-end products. Right: Desk areas include reclaimed wood and glass building materials.

Marvelous Manistee

A 154-year-old Victorian-influenced port city undergoes a 21st-century renaissance

Manistee is a gem along Michigan’s west coast, and its many riches make for a cozy and captivating fall foray: Miles of trees for leaf-peeping, two Lake Michigan beaches, two lighthouses, a vibrant downtown, great lodging, and outdoor activities galore.

Dubbed the Victorian Port City, Manistee is listed on both the national and state Register of Historic Places. The 154-year-old town’s enticing architecture

is well preserved, and many of the gracious Victorian mansions built downtown by the lumber barons are still standing. During that era, at the end of the 1800s, Manistee was home to the most millionaires per capita in the nation.

It’s also noteworthy that the ornate and lavishly restored Ramsdell Theatre, circa 1903, is where actor James Earl Jones began his career. The facility also houses the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, offering the Met Opera Live in HD series, live music, and many other events.

Another arts revival — the $2.6-million restoration of downtown’s Art Deco-styled Vogue Theatre, built in 1938 and now featuring first-run flicks along with 25-cent family matinees, $2 classics, and Port City documentaries, plus “Dinner and a Movie” packages and other enticements — was spearheaded by actor/director Michael Moore and an army of volunteers.

Speaking of dinner, there’s much to be savored here, and Kim Skeltis, who lives in nearby Ludington, says she spends loads of time checking out the new and venerable spots in Manistee. Some of her picks: For great barbecue, the North Channel Brewing Co.; for craft beer, the Third Life Brewing Co. in the circa-1871 Iron Works Building; for dinner on the water, Taco ’Bout It Mexican Fusion or the New American eatery, The

The Manistee River flows through the national and state historic districts along the downtown riverwalk.

Bluefish Kitchen + Bar, both on River Street.

If you dine at the right time and are seated at a big window or on an outdoor deck, you can watch huge freighters squeeze through the Manistee River channel into Manistee Lake — a sight and sound that never ceases to amaze.

Beyond restaurants, Manistee’s revitalization includes new shops and young entrepreneurs who are adding pizzazz to an already fascinating town. Take Anita Shaffer, who says Manistee’s architecture is part of what lured her and her husband, Patrick, to move from Ann Arbor, where both had businesses.

“It was during COVID, when all the businesses were closed,” Anita says. “We had never been to Manistee, so we walked around the town and fell in love with it — and also saw that it was still affordable.”

The couple bought a home downtown and in 2020 opened their Port City Emporium, which showcases more than 50 Michigan artisans, small-business products from around the U.S., fair-trade products from around the world, and Patrick’s Mid-century Modern furnishings.

“Nothing is mass-produced,” says Anita, who adds that they’re expanding the interior with a new tea nook.

Several other fun shops include The Daily BakeHouse on Division Street, whose cinnamon-swirl bread has a cult following; Northern Spice Co., which features housemade blends; and Wellnested, with beautiful home décor and interior design services.

Recreation Aplenty

Some of the best swimming in Lake Michigan actually happens in the early fall, and Manistee boasts two pristine beaches, a modern marina with open space for weddings and other events, and lots of charter fishing.

A handicap-accessible, 1.5-mile Riverwalk follows the Manistee River from the end of Jones Street to the First Street Beach + Douglas Park, with access along the way to the downtown shops and restaurants, as well as a place for picnicking on Spruce Street. A feature that debuted a year ago, the Origins Walk, tells the story of Manistee’s history, from its Anishnaabek Native American roots through today.

Hundreds of miles of marked trails can be enjoyed in the Manistee-Huron National Forest, which offers excellent hiking, biking, and camping for all levels of outdoors lovers. For birdwatchers, the 75acre Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, high above Lake Michigan, is worthy of a visit. If you bring binoculars, you’re sure to spot many birds you’ll never see in your backyard. The former arboretum boasts some interesting trees, too: a California redwood, a ginkgo, two Michigan Champions, a giant sequoia, and a sycamore maple.

New and Vintage Lodgings

The 102-room, five-story Hampton Inn & Suites Manistee Waterfront opened in July. “We’re really excited about it, since most of us who work here are locals,”

says General Manager Eliza Carlson. She adds that there’s an indoor and outdoor pool with a hot tub, a patio with a fire pit, and a bar with a limited menu. On the top floor there’s meeting room space and a restaurant with a spectacular view of the channel, Lake Michigan, and the North Pierhead Lighthouse.

Food and beverage director Natasha Partridge says the hotel’s nautical-themed eatery, the Windward, “is family-friendly, casual dining,” with Chef Dustin Lear at the helm. Douglas Park, with all kinds of outdoor facilities and boat-launch ramps, is next door.

For a more intimate stay, downtown’s 10-room, 1891-vintage Ramsdell Inn, with the popular TJ’s Pub below, is another good bet.

Above: Visitors will discover exciting fall adventures throughout this charming Lake Michigan community. Left: Dozens of preserved historic mansions can be seen on city tours. Check out the excellent Historic Guide online at visitmanistee county.com.


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Sleeping Bear Magic

Late one night, a photographer witnessed the awakening of one of Mother Nature’s most rare and spectacular treasures

Text and photo by Tyler Liepprandt

On Sunday night, Sept. 4, 2022, I was planning on leaving home late to head up to St. Ignace for the Labor Day Bridge Walk. My goal was to take a time-lapse photograph of the entire walk from the lookout at Straits State Park. Before I left, I noticed that the Aurora Borealis had a good chance of making an appearance that night, so I decided to head to my favorite spot on the Empire Bluff Trail, even though it was going to take me an additional two hours of driving to get to my end destination.

After walking the mile-long Empire Bluff Trail in the dark, I got to my spot and began setting up. With the naked eye, I could see a faint glow above the dunes. I

began taking a time-lapse image with one camera and taking photos with another.

At around 11 p.m., the sky above the Sleeping Bear Dunes woke up and put on an incredible show that lasted almost an hour. I sounded like a broken record player as I kept saying, “Oh my gosh!” every few seconds. The Aurora was so vivid, the pillars were so tall, and the sky was literally dancing like I’ve never seen before.

By 11:30 p.m., the top of the sky was filled with what scientists call a STEVE,

for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. It’s different than the basic Northern Lights, and a lot rarer. A STEVE will appear as a picket fence featuring tall columns of green light reaching high into the sky; an Aurora consists of shimmering ribbons of light. Many people chase the Aurora over their lifetime, but it’s really rare to see a STEVE.

Tyler Leipprandt is based in Traverse City and owns Michigan Sky Media, michiganskymedia.com.

P.S. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, based in Empire in the Lower Peninsula, hugs the northeast shore of Lake Michigan and includes South and North Manitou islands. The park is known for the huge scalable dunes of the Dune Climb. Look for bluffs that tower 450 feet above Lake Michigan! For more information, call 231-326-4700.

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