Found the Funnest Little Antique Store

Right downtown Maple City, in a little house next to the post office, is the cutest little store you could find. Unassuming from the front, it looked to me like someone had turned their side enclosed porch into a little store.

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When I stepped inside, I realized that the whole house was consumed. Everywhere you turn. You have to stand there a moment to take it all in.

The first thing I saw were some old 6-packs of Pepsi and Vernor’s bottles Continue reading

Spires in the Outfield- A trip to Grand Traverse Commons

It’s a Saturday morning in April, and while it’s a beautiful sunny day here in northern Michigan. It is still early spring so it’s still not quite beach weather yet. If it were, I might grab a coffee and a book and head down to the bay for a little while. Instead, there’s an indoor farmer’s market at the commons that I have decided to check out.

If you’re not familiar with the commons, it is the area of town that was historically the grounds of the Traverse City State Hospital. You may hear it referred to as The Mercado, The Old State Hospital, Building 50, or more formally as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. I’ve heard it referred to most (by locals) as The Commons.

When you’re driving north into Traverse City on US Route 31, (when you are near Meijers grocery store) if you look up you’ll see the red spires peeking out over the fields and above the treeline. Today,the tall pointed peaks stand out against the bright blue sky pointing the way. To get there, continue past the intersection at Fourteenth Street and turn left onto W. Eleventh street.

Red Spires at Grand Traverse Commons

Just past the State of Michigan Offices, go straight through the four way stop and up toward The Commons. You can go straight up to Building 50 and park around the circle drive, or you can turn left and go around back. I parked in the front and entered through this door to the center of the Mercado.

Front entrance to The Mercado at Grand Traverse Commons

Center Entrance off the Front Entrance

Back entrance to The Mercado

Back Entrance to the Left End of The Mercado Hallway

Around the back, you’ll find more parking as well as some other businesses that have established themselves in what appear to be the restored out-buildings from when the original hospital flourished. There are two entrances to the Mercado from here, one at each end, and these are more difficult to see especially if you don’t know where you’re going. The key is to look for the red signs. They are painted the same red color as the spires.

The Mercado is an indoor marketplace that now inhabits the restored lower level of the main building. Partly underground, with it’s pale yellow brick walls, it feels a little bit like a secret underground tunnel. But the sun shines in brightly through the windows and creates an ambiance that is warm and refreshing at the same time.

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Inside view of The Mercado at the Commons

As soon as my eyes adjusted to the lighting (after coming in from the bright sunshine), I was drawn to some fresh greens and couldn’t help but to stop for a photo.  Believe it or not, Continue reading

Chocolate Puddles in Leelanau County

Chocolate meditation? I think I could get into that. I have practiced meditation most of my life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve also been totally into chocolate; although I never thought to marry the two. It sounds like a brilliant idea.

“On any given day you’ll find chocolate-makers in deep chocolate meditation”, says the website of a local chocolate shop, Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate.

Here, in a little village in northern Michigan, apparently, “on any given day”, you can walk into Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate and witness this! So today I drove over there to see it for myself.

Google map to Grocer's Daughter

Google map to Grocer’s Daughter

By the time I got to the lakeshore, out of Traverse City, and into Empire, I was in a full blown snow storm. It’s almost April and there was blowing sleet and snow.  When I stepped inside the happy little green building on the side of the hill, I quickly forgot about the weather outside. Inside it was warm and welcoming. And it smelled amazing.

Grocer's Daughter Chocolate storefront

Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate is a local foodie favorite. And to some degree, it’s still a relatively un-discovered gem. While they haven’t (yet) won nationally acclaimed awards like Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream has, they have become a ‘must do’ on the annual bucket list for many summer visitors. For some, it’s right up there with climbing the dunes, tubing the Platte River and a day trip to Leland.

The bright green building sits on the edge of an empire, just around the corner from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitors Center in Empire, Michigan. When you pull up outside, you get a sense of its charm, but until you enter through the door, you couldn’t possibly imagine how special this place is.

Inside Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate shop, the warm, natural colors and it’s simple decor are comfortable but not pretentious.  Wooden crates and baskets filled with different chocolate creations line the walls. Continue reading