What’s Happening on Mackinac? Snow! 12/14/17

I’ve been having a blast this week looking at all the winter photos folks are sharing from Mackinac Island.  So – instead of Throw Back Thursday – I wanted to share some of those photos with you tonight!

If these don’t put you into the Christmas spirit, well – I just don’t know what will!

A dray and a taxi do business as usual – even in a snowstorm. (Photo: Tom Chambers)
Snow from a porch in the interior of the island. (Photo: Pam Day)
Busy Original Murdick’s Fudge elves make a run for the ferry with a cart filled with Christmas fudge orders. (Photo: Rose Witt)
The Grandview Condos (where we’ve stayed the last two summers) all dressed up for Christmas! (Photo: Pam Day)
Early morning on Cadotte Avenue. (Photo: Jason St. Onge)
Round Island Lighthouse, surrounded by snow and ice. (Photo: Grand Hotel)
A taxi swings by the Christmas tree which stands in the middle of Main Street. (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

 

A snow-covered Grand Hotel. (Photo: Grand Hotel)
One more shot from the island’s interior. (Photo: Annie Lockwood)
Main Street during a blizzard yesterday. Temp was one degree. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

I confess.  I want to be there. 

But – the last two weeks we’ve had some pretty darn chilly days here in Beverly Beach, and I’ve gotten more in the Christmas spirit because of it.  Haven’t gotten out my snow pants yet, but I have put on a vest AND a jacket to walk Bodie the last few days!

Hope you have your shopping done!  I finished mine yesterday! 

God bless.

Saying Bye 10/14/16

It’s that time again.  The day before we leave Mackinac, and my emotions are all over the place.  I’m sad to be leaving.  I’m excited to be picking up Bodie.  I’m anxious to get home and see what our precious little neighborhood will be like post-Hurricane Matthew.   I’ve been tottering on the verge of tears all day, but I know I don’t have time for a melt down. So – I’m going to quickly toss up some of the photos I’ve taken over the last few days and ask that you be ok with that for now. 

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The steady stream of horses leaving Mackinac is down to a tiny trickle.  The big barn is nearly empty now, and the majority of these gentle giants are happily munching pasture-land grass and hay on big farms in the U.P.  No more work for them until the spring.  Their only job is to get fat and sassy over the winter.

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When I walked by Grand Hotel earlier today the front flower bed was already empty, and folks were busily pulling up the flowers in the bed in front of Sadie’s.  In the next few days the soil will be prepared and thousands of tulip bulbs will be planted for a spring blooming.

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It seems as though Fall just can’t totally break through this year.  There are patches of beautiful foliage here and there, but only very few places where the color is rampant.  I think anyone coming up for the next two weeks will be the lucky winners of the “perfect time to see the best leaf show” award!

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The hillside leading up to Fort Mackinac will be solid red in a few more days.

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Downtown work is being done on the Stuart House . . . .

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. . . and on Trinity Church.

 

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Jill and I had what we thought would be our last lunch together on Thursday at Mary’s Bistro Draught House . . . but we managed to sneak another one in today with Ted at the Chuckwagon.  We have not been able to get together NEARLY enough this summer!

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The case of the mysterious cameraman.  What a bunch of equipment these guys had!  We  THINK they were doing some filming for Original Murdick’s Fudge.

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I’ll just call this one “Shady Fall Street”.

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It’s always a sad day when they take down all the beautiful hanging baskets from the city lamp posts.

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Workers are busy cutting back greenery on the hill leading up to the fort. 

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I’ve discovered that Fort Hill is by far the easiest way to get home now.  One steep incline to the top, then cut across behind the Governor’s Residence and the Jewel Golf Course.  Now that I can finally do it without stopping and without huffing and puffing, it’s time to leave.  Oh well – I’ll work on it again next summer.

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View from the top of Fort Hill right next to the Governor’s Summer Residence.

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Signs of Fall in the woods.

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One of the best places to see lots of fall color right now is Point Lookout.  Thank you, Orietta Barquero, for this up-to-date look from the top of the stairs leading down to Sugar Loaf . . .

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. . . and this one from the cemeteries.

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From Point Lookout today – thanks, Jill Sawatzki!

 

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Doud’s is all decked out for Fall and Halloween.

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A gorgeous shot from Orietta Barquero of Fall reflected in a clear lake up toward the middle of the island.

 

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A beautiful sunrise shot from Patrick Conlon on his commute to the island this week.

Ted was able to meet another cousin today when she arrived this afternoon for a church conference at Grand Hotel . . .

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Meet Marilyn McNitt from downstate Michigan. 

Lunch on our last day on the island at the Chuckwagon! Have a great winter, Donnie and Sharon!

Lunch on our last day on the island at the Chuckwagon! Have a great winter, Donnie and Sharon!

My head is just filled with things I want to say, but if I get started I might still be here at midnight writing, and Ted will not be happy with me.  We’re meeting friends for dinner later on, but we’ll make it an early evening and be on the taxi when it arrives at 7:15 Saturday morning.  And so begins the trip home.

What a crazy, amazing, emotional, happy, sometimes-frustrating, topsy-turvy summer we’ve had.  We’ve been so blessed to have met several of Ted’s biological cousins on his mom’s side of the family.  It’s so strange to think about this journey and realize that Ted began this year as an only child and will end the year with siblings, uncles and an aunt, and dozens of cousins.  Some of these folks will be in Florida over the winter, and we’re hoping to reconnect with them there.

Besides new cousins, it’s been a summer filled with visits with other family and friends.  From grandkids Matthew and Jordan right after we arrived, Jason, Jen and Alex just before we’re leaving, and friends from Georgia – R.D. and Kim and Glen and Debra – in between, we’ve been happily sharing Mackinac all summer.  And I’m pretty sure we have several among all those folks who will be returning to this magical spot!

This was the summer of a lot of moves.  We won’t be doing that again next year as we’ve already committed to being right here at Cedar Hill Condos for at least three months.  And by the way, if you’d be interested in renting the condo we’ve been in at any time (except when we’re here, of course), email me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com and I’ll get you the contact information.  It’s only available on a monthly basis – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths.  We love it!

One of the best parts of the summer was our Bree’s Blog get-together in September at the Chippewa.  So much fun!!  Hoping we can do it again next summer – only with even more people!  Heck, maybe we’ll have to rent out a whole dining room!

Bodie.  Oh my gosh – I’m so excited.  I’m also scared and anxious.  I have to keep preparing myself that he won’t be “just like Bear”.  He will be a 6 1/2 month old teenager.  Oh my gosh . . . . what a ride this is going to be (and I don’t mean the ride home, although that might get interesting also)!  We’ll pick him up south of Atlanta on Monday morning and drive straight to Beverly Beach – truck full of luggage, Maddie in the front seat, and Bodie in the back seat.  Geez, I hope the big fuzzy guy has a sense of humor!

As always, I’ve had so much fun sharing this beautiful island with all of you this summer.  I’ll be back on line once we get home, but I’m sure I’ll have something up on Facebook on Monday about Bodie – even if it’s just a pic or two! 

Till then . . . . . .

I love you all . . . . God bless.

Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 11

It’s said all good things must come to an end, but when you’re talking about fudge, the end of the cooking/packaging/shipping phase means the BEGINNING of the eating, enjoying, “oh my gosh can you believe how good this is” phase!
 
Monday was another beautiful Mackinac morning as we packed our bags and left the cottage where we’d been staying.  We had several hours before the departure of the ferry (12:30 p.m.), and our first stop (as it was every morning) was the Original Murdick’s Fudge shop.
 
It was a “shipping-out morning”, and we were able to watch the final process of getting all that delicious fudge – homemade with loving hands in those copper kettles and cooled on those marble-topped tables – into the homes of people all over the United States.
 
Right next door to Original Murdick's Fudge is Island Slice Pizzeria. Now closed for the winter, the store serves as the hub for shipping fudge.

Right next door to Original Murdick’s Fudge is Island Slice Pizzeria. Now closed for the winter, the store serves as the hub for shipping fudge and other Murdick’s confections.

It is there boxes are assembled . . .

It is there that boxes are assembled . . .

. . . and stuffed with filler.

. . . and stuffed with filler.

Assembled boxes are brought to the fudge shop, where they are packed with the customer's order . . .

Assembled boxes are then brought to the fudge shop, where they are packed with the customer’s order . . .

 

. . . and loaded on wheeled carts.

. . . and loaded on carts.

The carts are wheeled down to the ferry dock . . .

The carts are wheeled down to the ferry dock . . .

. . . shrink-wrapped in case there's a bumpy ride . . .

. . . shrink-wrapped in case there’s a bumpy ride . . .

. . . . and loaded on.

. . . . and loaded on.

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Fudge, luggage and people – all crossing on the same ferry to St. Ignace.

Once in St. Ignace, the fudge is loaded onto trucks and begins the second part of its journey – into homes across the nation!

Betty Hester, a good friend of mine in Albany GA, contacted me while I was on the island and said she was ordering the Murdick’s Sampler.  The Sampler contains 4 slices of fudge (your choice from 12 flavors), a bag of Caramel Corn, a box of brittle (your choice of 4 flavors), and a bag of toffee.  Betty told me her plan was to give the fudge as gifts and munch on the rest herself..

Well, after I got home I got the following emails from Betty:

“I love the Toffee and the Brittle, and I tried the Turtle Fudge this afternoon. I am not sharing any of it with anyone. I am so selfish.”

That email was followed – a day later – by this one:

“I started on the Michigan Maple Walnut Fudge. It’s so yummy that I can’t stop….
I knew this would happen if I opened it. I couldn’t tell what was in each of the boxes so I just opened one. It’s almost gone. Best fudge I’ve ever had. I will not give any of this fudge away ….  it’s mine now.
Merry Merry Christmas to ME!!!
 
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you decide to give Murdick’s Original Fudge as a gift!  ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS order one for your friends AND ONE FOR YOURSELF!
 
The 15% discount is available through December 17 if you type “Breesblog” into the coupon box at the end of the payment section!  Order by clicking here: http://originalmurdicksfudge.com!
 
A HUGE thank you to the entire Original Murdick’s Fudge family for making my first – and hopefully not my last – Christmas Bazaar another fantastic Mackinac Island memory!

Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 8

What a whirlwind of a day this has been so far!  Even though that last post (#7) was from the Christmas Bazaar, I need to backtrack and talk about our stop at Original Murdick’s Fudge this morning.

We arrived just as Amy Sherman and John “Gonzo” Gonzalez with Behind the Mitten were about to start taping a segment celebrating Original Murdick’s Fudge and their Christmas fudge making on the island.

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Behind the Mitten is a radio show and podcast about food, festivals, beer and more!  Gonzo and Amy  interviewed several familiar faces this morning: Susan Wilcox-Olsen (Media and Marketing Manager for the Traverse City Cherry Festival – and summer resident on Mackinac Island), Bob Benser (whose family owns Original Murdick’s Fudge), and Andrew Doud (owner of Doud’s Market and year-round island resident).  Everyone talked about fudge, but there were also some great stories told by these three about the experiences they’ve had on the island – both during the summer season and during the winter months!  You can check all that out at BehindtheMitten.com.  And for a great behind-the-scenes video about the whole fudge-making experience – from kettle to packaging – check out their Facebook page “Behind the Mitten with Amy Sherman and John Gonzalez”, which is open to the public.

During one of the taped segments the duo talked about the 12 fudge flavors (one for each of the 12 days of Christmas) being offered for shipment this season. You can choose from Butter Pecan, Choc Mint, Cranberry (a new Christmas flavor), Double Choc, MapleWalnut, Peanutt Butter,Chocolate, Choc Peanut Better, Choc Walnut, Double Chocolate Caramel Seat Salt,Pumpkin Spice,and Turtle. They also are offereing three different flavors of Brittle - Peanut, Pecan,Cashew, and Pumpkin Seed.

During one of the taped segments the duo talked about the 12 fudge flavors (one for each of the 12 Days of Christmas) being offered for shipment this season. You can choose from Butter Pecan, Chocolate Mint, Cranberry (a new Christmas flavor), Double Chocolate, Maple Walnut, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Better, Chocolate Walnut, Double Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt, Pumpkin Spice, and Turtle. Original Murdick’s Fudge is also offering three different flavors of Brittle – Peanut, Pecan, Cashew, and Pumpkin Seed.

While the show was being taped I walked around and watched a batch of fudge being made . . . from scratch. Lots of sugar and chocolate . . .

In between taping segments I walked around and watched a batch of fudge being made from scratch. Lots of sugar and chocolate (the ingredients change depending on the flavor of fudge) . . .

. . . butter - the real stuff. . .

. . . butter – the real stuff. . .

. . . mix in a cooper kettle with milk . . .

. . . all mixed in a cooper kettle with milk and a few other ingredients and cooked with constant stirring.

. . . and when it gets to exactly the right temperature, pour it out onto marble-top table (also kept at just the right temperature by placing electric blankets over them at night when it's cold).

When the fudge gets to exactly the right temperature, it is poured out onto marble-top tables (also kept at just the right temperature by placing electric blankets over them at night when it’s cold).

That's when a master fudgemaker takes over, stirring and shaping, stirring and shaping as the fudge cools.

That’s when a master fudgemaker takes over – stirring and shaping, stirring and shaping as the fudge cools.  This process is so precise I couldn’t lure this fudgemaker (Ricardo) away for even a minute to take a group photograph.

When everything is done perfectly, the finished product . . .

When everything is done perfectly, the finished product . . .

. . . is perfectly delicious!

. . . is perfectly delicious!

This talented group of fudge-makers will be cooking and shipping fudge through December 17 for your Christmas orders!

This talented group of fudge-makers will be cooking and shipping fudge through December 17 for your Christmas orders!

And don't forget - your fudge or brittle orders will come beautifully packaged in one of several holiday boxes.

And don’t forget – your fudge or brittle orders will come beautifully packaged in one of several holiday boxes.

To order, simply click on originalmurdicksfudge.com and start making your selections!  And . . . through December 17, Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog readers will receive a 15% discount by entering “Breesblog” in the discount coupon box at the end of the order process.

And yes, I sampled . . . let’s just say “quite a few” of those 12 flavors!  Yummy, Yummy, Yummy!

Back soon with more news!

 

Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 5

We’ve spent the majority of the day just walking around town and then hiking up to the Grand Hotel.  The weather is perfect – 43 degrees, but with very little wind to really make it cold.  I’ve been comfortable in a sweater, a vest, a snow jacket, gloves, and boots!  Ok – it’s a “little” cold!

Chambers Corner and the first part of the hill up to the Grand has been decorated beautifully for the Christmas season. I can't wait to come back at night to capture everything when the lights are on!

Chambers Corner and the first part of the hill up to the Grand have been decorated beautifully for the Christmas season. I can’t wait to come back at night to capture everything when the lights are on!

Sue's son Patrick works at the Grand, and he was able to get us in for a "after the season" tour. I took tons of photos, but I'll only share a couple here due to time. More on that after I get home. Here we're in Grand Hotel's main dining room, which looks a lot different in the winter than during the summer season!

Sue’s son Patrick works at the Grand, and he was able to get us in for an “after the season” tour. I took tons of photos, but I’ll only share a few here due to time – more on that after I get home. Here we’re in Grand Hotel’s main dining room, which looks a lot different in the winter than during the summer season!

The majority of the furniture is covered in white cloths . . .

The majority of the furniture is covered in white cloths . . .

. . . and remember the movie "the Shining"? Chill bumps!

. . . and remember the movie “the Shining”? Chill bumps!

And just in case you're wondering - no, Grand Hotel is not heated in the winter. This was a wall thermometer in a suite upstairs.

And just in case you’re wondering – no, Grand Hotel is not heated in the winter. This was a wall thermometer in a suite upstairs.

I’ll share a lot more of these photos from inside an empty Grand Hotel when I get home.

On the way back to town, we spotted this group of snowmobiles parked together on an open expanse of grass. Once the snow falls, their owners will stop by to crank them up and drive them home.

On the way back to town, we spotted this group of snowmobiles parked together on an open expanse of grass. Once the snow falls, their owners will stop by to crank them up and drive them home.

At Chambers Corner there were only a few Christmas trees left to pick from. Residents pick out the trees using the honor system because there is no one manning the site. They take the tree home and at some point they will see someone downtown connected to the island 4-H Club and pay for the tree.

At Chambers Corner there were only a few Christmas trees left to pick from. Residents pick out the trees using the honor system because there is no one manning the site. They take the tree home and at some point they will see someone downtown connected to the island 4-H Club and pay for the tree.

We got lucky and caught this freighter passing at the end of Market Street.

We got lucky and caught this freighter passing at the end of Market Street.

We had a late lunch at the Village Inn, where they were putting the finishing touches on the Christmas lights.

Late lunch at the Village Inn, where they were putting the finishing touches on the Christmas lights.

Then one more stop in at Original Murdick's Fudge, where busy hands were still packaging fudge, even after beginning the day at 5:00 a.m. this morning.

Then one more stop in at Original Murdick’s Fudge, where busy hands were still packaging fudge, even after beginning the day at 5:00 a.m. this morning.

What fun to receive one of these in the mail just before Christmas!

What fun to receive one of these in the mail just before Christmas!

Ok – rushing out right now for Christmas tree lighting . . . more later!!

Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 3

It’s been a long day friends – but it’s all been worth it cause I’m sitting at my laptop on Mackinac Island tonight!

I arrived at the Pellston Airport 15 minutes EARLY and was met by Jill, Sue and this fellow (one of the permanent displays at the airport).

I arrived at the Pellston Airport 15 minutes EARLY and was met by Jill, Sue and this fellow (one of the permanent displays at the airport).

We collected my luggage, jumped in Sue's car, and we were off. We made it to Mackinaw City, crossed the bridge and pulled up with minutes to spare at the Arnold Dock to board the mighty Huron.

We collected my luggage, jumped in Sue’s car, and we were off. We made it to Mackinaw City, crossed the bridge and pulled up with minutes to spare to board the mighty Huron.

Friend Joan Barch met our boat, and she snapped this pic of me when I first realized how COLD it was - full shudder mode!

Friend Joan Barch met our boat, and snapped this pic of me when I first realized how COLD it was – full shudder mode!  39 degrees with a nice wind blowing.  A big change from sunny Florida!

Our first stop was the Original Murdick's Fudge Shop where Murdick elves have been busy for days creating fudge and other yummy treats to send out across the nation. Jill took this photo of Leanne, Sue, me, Bobby Benser, whose family owns Original Murdick's Fudge, and Joan.

Our first stop was the Original Murdick’s Fudge Shop where Murdick elves have been busy for days creating fudge and other yummy treats to send out across the nation. Jill took this photo of Leanne, Sue, me, Bobby Benser, whose family owns Original Murdick’s Fudge, and Joan.

We got settled in and went to meet Sue’s son Patrick and Joan at The Village Inn for dinner.  There are only two restaurants open in the winter – The Village Inn and The Mustang.  Had a great meal and then headed back to the friend’s house where we are staying.

I love that even though the majority of the businesses are closed downtown, they've still decorated for the Christmas season - like Horn's Bar . . .

I love that even though the majority of the businesses are closed downtown, they’ve still decorated for the Christmas season – like Horn’s Bar . . .

. . . Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island. . .

. . . Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island. . .

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel.

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel (Photo by Jill).

I’m sure there are others, but we didn’t venture off Main Street tonight.

Tomorrow will be a full day, and I’ll continue to post little snippets from my iPhone.  I’ll be covering all the activity at Original Murdick’s Fudge and everything going on for the Christmas Bazaar.  Tomorrow night is the Christmas Tree lighting on Main Street.  If you go to the Horn’s Bar website and click on their webcam a little before 5:00 p.m., you should be able to watch the lighting from there.

It’s going to be a great weekend, and I’m so glad all of you are along for the ride!

Now this old girl is going to bed.  It’s been a long time since 4:00 this morning!

See you tomorrow!

 

 

Mackinac Week! 11/29/15

Oh. My. Goodness!  Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving week?!  We sure did!

Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer spent the whole week with us, which couldn't have made this mom more happy!

Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer spent the whole week with us, which couldn’t have made this mom more happy!  We laughed a lot, ate a lot, chatted a lot . . . and just in general had a great week together!

On Thanksgiving, we had 13 gathered around our table. Matt (our son-in-law), Matthew (grandson), Matt's parent Carolyn and Jack, and Matt's brother (John) and his family joined us for turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings!

On Thanksgiving we had 13 gathered around our table. Matt (our son-in-law), Matthew (grandson), Matt’s parents Carolyn and Jack, and Matt’s brother (John), his wife Debra, and their three daughters joined us for turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings!

Missing were Julie and Jordan, who flew out Thanksgiving morning for New York City to celebrate Jordan's 16th birthday in December. Their Thanksgiving dinner was something Turkish from a street vendor.

Missing were Julie and Jordan, who flew out Thanksgiving morning for New York City to celebrate Jordan’s 16th birthday coming up in December. Their Thanksgiving dinner was something Turkish from a street vendor.

Bright and early Friday morning Ted and I spotted both Julie and Jordan on the plaza at the Today Show, and Jordan had her photo made with Dylan Dreyer.

Bright and early Friday morning Ted and I spotted both Julie and Jordan on the plaza at the Today Show, and Jordan had her photo made with Today Show weather girl Dylan Dreyer.

Also missing was Blake, who spent Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins. Blake is back there working as a recruiter with ELIC. He'll be home for Christmas!

Also missing was Blake (that’s him on the left in white shirt), who spent Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins. Blake is back there working as a recruiter with ELIC. He’ll be home for Christmas!

All in all, just a wonderful day!  Of course, we all ate too much, but hey – it was Thanksgiving!

Jason and Jennifer flew home on Friday, and Ted and I have spent the rest of the weekend decorating for Christmas.

I've never had a staircase to "deck" before, and this year I was ready to give it a try. I used a pre-lit garland from Target and added my own accents from Michael's.

I’ve never had a staircase to “deck” before, and this year I was ready to give it a try. I used a pre-lit garland from Target and added my own accents from Michael’s (red birds, red pears, pinecones, etc.).

I added the same accents to our pre-lit wreath on the front door . . .

I added the same accents to our pre-lit wreath on the front door . . .

. . . and for the first time ever, we used net lights over the shrubbery and accented our magnolia tree with white lights.

. . . and for the first time ever, we used net lights over the shrubbery and accented our magnolia tree with white lights.

Another first! We rimmed the second floor deck with lights . . .

Another first! We rimmed the second floor deck with lights . . .

. . . and used icicle lights on the skywalk railings.

. . . and used icicle lights on the skywalk railings.

We thought it all turned out pretty good!

We thought it all turned out pretty good!

Tomorrow we’ll (hopefully) get our Christmas tree(s) up, and we’ll have the whole month of December to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

Now here it is Sunday evening, and my thoughts are turning toward Mackinac.

Even though Mackinac has received a few very brief snowfalls (this is the school yard in a photo by Reaiah Ervin), the long-range forecast is calling for nothing but moderate temps and clear skies. I guess my prayers for a snowy Christmas Bazaar will be answered with a "no" this time, but that's ok. Just getting to go to Mackinac during December is a blessing, and - snow or not - I'm going to have a great time meeting friends, doing some writing and photography for Original Murdick's Fudge, and sharing it all with each of you!

Even though Mackinac has received a few very brief snowfalls (this is the school yard in a photo by Reaiah Ervin), the long-range forecast is calling for nothing but moderate temps and clear skies. I guess my prayers for a snowy Christmas Bazaar will be answered with a “no” this time, but that’s ok. Just getting to go to Mackinac during December is a blessing, and – snow or not – I’m going to have a great time doing some writing and photography for Original Murdick’s Fudge, visiting with friends, and sharing it all with each of you!

My flight leaves Daytona Beach at 7:20 Thursday morning, and I’m due to arrive in Pellston, MI at 3:05 that afternoon.  The last ferry to the island leaves St. Ignace at 4:00 p.m.  If I make that ferry, it’s going to be a miracle.  No worries though.  I’ll either fly over or spend the night with Sue in Harbor Springs (thank you, Sue, for the invite)!

Here’s the plan.  I’ll be blogging from my iPhone for much of this trip, so I plan to be chatting with all of you 3-4 times a day.  I won’t be able to change the header photo from my phone, so please just go by your alerts that a new post is up – NOT by a new header photo!

I’m excited to try blogging in a different way for this trip, and I hope you’re all going to get a kick out of it also.  So . . . . meet me at the airport on Thursday morning at 7:20, and let’s all go to Mackinac!

God bless.

For Gracie 9/21/15

I’m reposting the blog “For Gracie” today because this is the week (Sept. 21-27) that Original Murdick’s Fudge will be matching dollar for dollar your donation to Gracie’s Fund for Pediatric Leukemia Research.  I’m also asking that you SHARE this post on your Facebook Page (and ask your friends to share it) so as many people as possible will see the message and respond with a donation.  Please take a moment this week – or right now! – to add your donation to this important research. 

Very few of you who will read this know Gracie Irish, and I have to admit I don’t know her either – at least I’ve never met her face to face.  But, as a mother, I know Gracie as if she was my own child.

Shimmering on the surface of every parent’s heart is a fear so terrible we can scarcely speak of it.  It can come at us like some horrible monster at any moment of the day, but usually raises its ugly head as we prepare for sleep.  We close our eyes and think back over the wonderful day we’ve just spent with our family and then, unbidden, we think about the family next door, or across town, or on Facebook, who we’ve learned has a child diagnosed with that worst or the worst monsters – cancer.  And then we think . . .  what if it was my child?

Is there anything as a parent we can imagine worse than a monster that wants to take our child from us? Is there anything else that can strip us of all our insulation and take us down to raw emotion more than a monster that doesn’t take into account age, sex, race, income, or religious beliefs?  Cancer doesn’t care.  It’s an equal opportunity monster.  It. Just. Doesn’t. Care.

Ted and I have known the Benser family on Mackinac Island for years.  You’ve heard of them through this blog.  They own several businesses on Mackinac, including Original Murdick’s Fudge.  Mr. B (as we lovingly call him) is the family patriarch.  Bobby, Leslie, Heidi, and Amy are his children.  Gracie is Amy’s daughter.

Today Gracie is a beautiful, healthy and active 14-year-old.  She’s a Freshman in high school and plays on the Junior Varsity Golf Team at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester, MI.  She is taking classes in Theatre and loves to cook.  When she comes to Mackinac to visit family in the summer she rides horses (another love) and swims off the dock at the marina.  You would never know – looking at her now – that as a 4-year-old Gracie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Gracie today.

Gracie today.

When Gracie’s parents got the devastating news they were urged to take her immediately to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, and she was airlifted there later that same day.  One of Amy’s most vivid memories of that day is being told she couldn’t accompany her daughter on the helicopter.  She was crying and remembers one of the flight crew coming to sit beside her and saying, “You’re taking Gracie to a great place.  My son was treated at Mott’s, and today he’s a successful college student.”  That was the glimmer of hope Amy held on to through the months ahead.

Gracie’s leukemia was intensely treated for 2 1/2 years at C.S. Mott, and the summer of 2008 was a good one, including being back on Mackinac, having fun with her whole family.  Then, during that winter break, she began to complain of leg pain.  Her parents immediately returned her to C.S. Mott where tests revealed Gracie had a benign tumor that was a rare complication of her leukemia.  Several attempts were made to surgically remove the mass, but the painful tumor always returned.

Dr. Valerie Castle, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at C.S. Mott, was determined to aggressively fight Gracie’s tumor.  Dr. Castle invited her colleagues to weigh in on a solution, and Gracie was given an experimental drug as part of a clinical trial.  C.S. Mott is one of only a few leading children’s hospitals to have access to clinical trials. At the very first follow-up after the drug was given, they learned the tumor was shrinking – and it did not come back.

The Benser family now has a passion to support further research into treatments for patients who relapse or experience complications from leukemia.  They established Gracie’s Fund for Pediatric Leukemia Research at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital several years ago.  Since then, they have hosted fund-raisers and donated proceeds of fudge sales at various times of the year.  The Mackinac Island community has supported their efforts from the very beginning.

There are remarkable treatment options available now for children who are diagnosed with leukemia, but for children who relapse or suffer complications – like Gracie – resources are very limited.  We need to help fund more research.

During the week of Sept. 21-27 Original Murdick’s Fudge will match dollar for dollar all donations to Gracie’s Fund.  You don’t have to know Gracie to give, and you don’t have to buy fudge – but Original Murdick’s Fudge does want you to join their team – Team Gracie!  You can click on the link below to give $1, $10, or whatever your heart whispers for you to do.  Every dollar will make a difference, and Original Murdick’s Fudge will match it.  No limits. To donate, click the link highlighted below and then click on the gray box entitled “Support Original Murdick’s Fudge – Team Gracie”:  http://umhealth.me/teamgracie-omf

Employees at Original Murdick's Fudge on Mackinac Island wear Block Out Cancer t-shirts.

Employees at Original Murdick’s Fudge on Mackinac Island wear Block Out Cancer t-shirts.

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If this blog has popped up on your Facebook newsfeed page, I’m asking you to share it, and ask your friends to share it also.  This is a fantastic way to do a good deed and help give scientists the funds they need for this research.  And yes, your donation is tax-deductible.

Gracie says, “Thank you!”

For more information on the “Block Out Cancer” campaign, click here:  http://www.originalmurdicksfudge.com/block-out-cancer-awareness

ONCE AGAIN, TO DONATE, CLICK HEREhttp://umhealth.me/teamgracie-omf

For Gracie 9/19/15

Very few of you who will read this know Gracie Irish, and I have to admit I don’t know her either – at least I’ve never met her face to face.  But, as a mother, I know Gracie as if she was my own child.

Shimmering on the surface of every parent’s heart is a fear so terrible we can scarcely speak of it.  It can come at us like some horrible monster at any moment of the day, but usually raises its ugly head as we prepare for sleep.  We close our eyes and think back over the wonderful day we’ve just spent with our family and then, unbidden, we think about the family next door, or across town, or on Facebook, who we’ve learned has a child diagnosed with that worst or the worst monsters – cancer.  And then we think . . .  what if it was my child?

Is there anything as a parent we can imagine worse than a monster that wants to take our child from us? Is there anything else that can strip us of all our insulation and take us down to raw emotion more than a monster that doesn’t take into account age, sex, race, income, or religious beliefs?  Cancer doesn’t care.  It’s an equal opportunity monster.  It. Just. Doesn’t. Care.

Ted and I have known the Benser family on Mackinac Island for years.  You’ve heard of them through this blog.  They own several businesses on Mackinac, including Original Murdick’s Fudge.  Mr. B (as we lovingly call him) is the family patriarch.  Bobby, Leslie, Heidi, and Amy are his children.  Gracie is Amy’s daughter.

Today Gracie is a beautiful, healthy and active 14-year-old.  She’s a Freshman in high school and plays on the Junior Varsity Golf Team at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester, MI.  She is taking classes in Theatre and loves to cook.  When she comes to Mackinac to visit family in the summer she rides horses (another love) and swims off the dock at the marina.  You would never know – looking at her now – that as a 4-year-old Gracie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Gracie today.

Gracie today.

When Gracie’s parents got the devastating news they were urged to take her immediately to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, and she was airlifted there later that same day.  One of Amy’s most vivid memories of that day is being told she couldn’t accompany her daughter on the helicopter.  She was crying and remembers one of the flight crew coming to sit beside her and saying, “You’re taking Gracie to a great place.  My son was treated at Mott’s, and today he’s a successful college student.”  That was the glimmer of hope Amy held on to through the months ahead.

Gracie’s leukemia was intensely treated for 2 1/2 years at C.S. Mott, and the summer of 2008 was a good one, including being back on Mackinac, having fun with her whole family.  Then, during that winter break, she began to complain of leg pain.  Her parents immediately returned her to C.S. Mott where tests revealed Gracie had a benign tumor that was a rare complication of her leukemia.  Several attempts were made to surgically remove the mass, but it always returned.

Dr. Valerie Castle, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at C.S. Mott, was determined to aggressively fight Gracie’s tumor.  Dr. Castle invited her colleagues to weigh in on a solution, and Gracie was given an experimental drug as part of a clinical trial.  C.S. Mott is one of only a few leading children’s hospitals to have access to clinical trials. At the very first follow-up after the drug was given, they learned the tumor was shrinking – and it did not come back.

The Benser family now has a passion to support further research into treatments for patients who relapse or experience complications from leukemia.  They established Gracie’s Fund for Pediatric Leukemia Research at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital several years ago.  Since then, they have hosted fund-raisers and donated proceeds of fudge sales at various times of the year.  The Mackinac Island community has supported their efforts from the very beginning.

There are remarkable treatment options available now for children who are diagnosed with leukemia, but for children who relapse or suffer complications – like Gracie – resources are very limited.  We need to help fund more research.

During the week of Sept. 21-27 Original Murdick’s Fudge will match dollar for dollar all donations to Gracie’s Fund.  You don’t have to know Gracie to give, and you don’t have to buy fudge – but Original Murdick’s Fudge does want you to join their team – Team Gracie!  You can click on the link below to give $1, $10, or whatever your heart whispers for you to do.  Every dollar will make a difference, and Original Murdick’s Fudge will match it.  No limits. To donate, click the link highlighted below and then click on the gray box entitled “Support Original Murdick’s Fudge – Team Gracie”:  http://umhealth.me/teamgracie-omf

Employees at Original Murdick's Fudge on Mackinac Island wear Block Out Cancer t-shirts.

Employees at Original Murdick’s Fudge on Mackinac Island wear Block Out Cancer t-shirts.

24

33

If this blog has popped up on your Facebook newsfeed page, I’m asking you to share it, and ask your friends to share it also.  This is a fantastic way to do a good deed and help give scientists the funds they need for this research.  And yes, your donation is tax-deductible.

Gracie says, “Thank you!”

For more information on the “Block Out Cancer” campaign, click here:  http://www.originalmurdicksfudge.com/block-out-cancer-awareness

Returning to Mackinac 6/19/2014

Through the water-splashed ferry windows, a glimpse of the Grand Hotel, the Iroquois, and the Chippewa.  Cyclists following the never-ending roadway circling the island.  Horse-drawn carriages standing on Main – suspended in time.  My heart beats more rapidly, and my feet do a happy dance against the ferry floorboards.  I am returning to Mackinac. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

I woke yesterday morning at 4:30 to an empty bed. I laid there a few minutes, waiting for Ted to return, but when he didn’t, I rose and found him sitting in the dark sunroom with a cup of coffee.

“What are you doing?” I asked sleepily.

“Just woke up and decided to sit out here a while,” he said.

Instead of stumbling back to bed, as I’d usually do in such circumstances, I made myself a cup of coffee and joined him in the peaceful darkness.  Bear and Maddie were like “what’s happening – are we leaving again?”  But they soon settled with us on the porch and went back to what everyone is usually doing at that time of day – sleeping.

With back-to-back Michigan and Florida trips, we’ve added almost 2900 miles to the odometer in the last 2 1/2-3 weeks.  Add to that the trip Ted left on yesterday around 8 a.m. (a “guy” trip to an Atlanta Braves game – and probably the reason he couldn’t go back to sleep), and it all adds up to a hectic, exhausting, but ultimately very fun way to start the summer season!  Our everyday routine is a little out of whack, but once Ted gets home from Atlanta (today), I think we’ll get back to normal quickly . . . until we leave again.

I don’t even know where to start, so for this post I’m just going to hit the high points on the Mackinac trip.  On Sunday, I’ll catch you up on the beach house and what’s happening at the ri’vah!

MACKINAC ISLAND – MICHIGAN

Returning to the island as a visitor instead of a resident is a little disconcerting.  The “perks” of owning on Mackinac are plentiful, and having been privy to that, it’s a little hard to adjust to going back as a vacationer.  The biggest single adjustment was going from having a resident’s pass for the ferry to buying tickets – or books of tickets.   I confess I was very happy just flashing my pass to board a boat (or not flashing it because everyone at Shepler’s knew us.  Of course they still know us, and we now have much longer to chat as we tear those little stubs out of the book).  Buying tickets is fine . . . just different.  The second biggest adjustment was rephrasing our standard “we have a condo on the island” answer to the question, “Where are you staying?” to “We’re renting a condo here”.  Ok, ok, ok – I know I sound like a spoiled brat.  I know it. I accept it.  I will adjust.  Sigh.

What we didn’t have to adjust to was our welcome being any different.  Everywhere we went we saw friends, and we gave and received so many hugs during our stay that our mouths stayed permanently stretched into grins of greeting.  We loved, loved, loved seeing everyone, and as I mentioned a few blogs ago, it was as if we’d never left – or sold.  Friends are friends are friends, and we thank the good Lord everyday for those we hold in our hearts across this beautiful country of ours!

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These kids in town for a school trip posed endlessly for me, with not a single gripe. Of course, we continued to feed them free fudge during their photo session, so they were VERY cooperative!  🙂

Another adjustment was “working” on the island.  Although Ted and I volunteered during our summers there, having a “real” job was a little different.  I stayed downtown a lot more than usual this trip – dashing in and out of the two Original Murdick’s Fudge shops on Main Street a few times a day, then combing the streets and boat docks for folks with Murdick’s bags.  I had no qualms at all about approaching total strangers and saying, “I’m doing some photography for Original Murdick’s Fudge.  Would it be ok to snap a few pics of you holding up your bag/fudge?”  I was never turned down.  Jill was amazed, and asked, “How do you get people to do that?”  I think it’s the Southern drawl, which I admit to pushing a little bit more into the syrupy range when begging for something!  I had a blast, and if you go to the Original Murdick’s Fudge Facebook page, you’ll see quite a few of my photos, with more to come.

You know one of the first places we visited was The Island Bookstore, which just keeps getting better and better each year.  How do they do that?

You know one of the first places we visited was The Island Bookstore, which just keeps getting better and better each year. How do they do that?  (Notice Ted is in jacket, and even though you can’t see it, Jill has on a few layers.)

 

The first day or so were pretty cold and rainy, so rainy we had to run onto a B & B's porch for shelter on one trip to town!

The first day or so were pretty cold and rainy, so rainy we had to run onto a B & B’s porch for shelter on one trip to town!

 

Have I mentioned how much we loved being in the Mission District?  We were out on the street more at dusk than we ever were living up the here.  You get some really amazing photos at that time of the evening.

Have I mentioned how much we loved being in the Mission District? We were out on the street more at dusk than we ever were living up the hill. You get some really amazing photos at that time of the evening.

 

Another "first stop was the new shop opened by friend Joan Barch's son, Jay.  His original pottery designs are flying off the shelves.  Ted ordered a coffee mug for me, and Jay and I talked about him designing a special set of "beach" plates for our Florida house.  He is quite the talented young man!

Another “first stop”
was Mackinac Mud Pottery, the new shop opened by friend Joan Barch’s son, Jay. His original pottery designs are flying off the shelves. Ted ordered a coffee mug for me, and Jay and I talked about him designing a special set of “beach” plates for our Florida house. He is quite the talented young man!

 

Guys night at the Pink Pony.  These friends got together practically once a day!

Guys night at the Pink Pony. These friends got together practically every day.  I’ve never heard so many reasons to “go to town.”

 

I discovered Chief "Duck" Andress sitting at the corner of Fort and Main Streets and plopped down beside him to catch up on what was happening in the village.

I discovered Chief “Duck” Andress sitting at the corner of Fort and Main Streets and plopped down beside him to catch up on what was happening in the village.

 

The really awesome thing about Mackinac is that no one really thinks about actually setting dates or appointments to see anyone.  You just know if you step outside, you will eventually see everyone you know . . . like Molly and her new team of greys, Dawn and Chico!

The really awesome thing about Mackinac is that no one really thinks about actually setting dates or appointments to see anyone. You just know if you step outside, you will eventually see everyone you know . . . like Molly and her new team of greys, Dawn and Chico!

 

This was taken just after they'd hung the flower baskets and a few days before the lilacs began blooming.

This was taken just after they’d hung the flower baskets and a few days before the lilacs began blooming.

 

Walking home to the Mission each evening gave me lots of opportunities to photograph St. Anne's at twilight.

Walking home to the Mission each evening gave me lots of opportunities to photograph St. Anne’s at twilight.  On this evening a Jamaican service was going on, and I wish we’d gone in.  It’s held around 9:00 p.m. one night a week – late like that because the Jamaicans are working all day.

 

Do you remember when the Indian Drum was on the Arnold Dock?  It's now in the Horse Corral, and doing a great business.  Love, love, love this place (tons of cute clothes), and Trillium Heights friend Rogene was working the day we went in!

Do you remember when the Indian Drum was on the Arnold Dock? It’s now in the Horse Corral, and doing a great business. Love, love, love this place (tons of cute clothes), and Trillium Heights friend Rogene was working the day we went in!

 

Imagine dray after dray of annuals arriving on the island at the docks . . .

Imagine dray after dray of annuals, which have just arrived on the island at the docks, . . .

 

Imagine watching dray after dray of annuals pass on the street and stop at cottages to drop off their summer gardens.  Here, Brigadoon and St. Anne's Cottage lawns are filled with flowers to be planted later in the day.

. . . being dropped off at summer cottages all over the island.  Here, Brigadoon and Anne’s Cottage lawns are filled with flowers to be planted in their gardens later in the day.

 

This is where we'll be staying for six weeks in August/September.  Excited!

This is where we’ll be staying for six weeks in August/September. Excited!

 

The white sails of a boat from Robinson's Folly.

The white sails of a boat from Robinson’s Folly.

 

A glimpse into a hidden backyard garden.

A glimpse into a hidden backyard garden “somewhere” on the island.

 

Bear's favorite grass to roll in?  Horse poop fertilized Mackinac grass, of course!

Bear’s favorite grass to roll in? Horse poop fertilized Mackinac grass, of course!

 

There was a 7-hour power outage one of the days we were there, and downtown just practically shut down.  The shops closed, and so did some of the restaurants, although a few offered cold plates and sandwiches!

There was a 7-hour power outage one of the days we were there, and downtown just practically shut down. The shops closed, and so did some of the restaurants, although a few offered cold plates and sandwiches!

 

White bleeding hearts.  Don't think I've seen these before - only the red.

White bleeding hearts. Don’t think I’ve seen these before – only the red.

 

There were no tulips at the Grand Hotel this spring, but Mission Point more than made up for it.  I fell in love with their endless gardens of tulips - all pink!

There were no tulips at the Grand Hotel this spring, but Mission Point more than made up for it. I fell in love with their endless gardens of tulips – all pink!

 

I happened by Original Murdick's fudge shop one evening just after they'd tucked the electric blankets over the marble table tops.  This ensures the marble isn't too cold the next morning for the first batch of fudge.

I happened by Original Murdick’s fudge shop one evening just after they’d tucked the electric blankets over the marble table tops. This ensures the marble isn’t too cold the next morning for the first batch of fudge.

 

Lilacs . . .

Crabapple blossoms . . . 

 

Lilacs . . .

Lilacs . . .

 

Lilacs . . . (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Lilacs . . . (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

 

Lilacs! (Photo: Katy Rise)

Lilacs! (Photo: Katy Rise)

Being back on the island was awesome.  The mixture of scents, noises, sights, and tastes can be conjured up only one place on earth – and that’s Mackinac!  Best of all though was . . .

Talking over the fence in the Mission - being neighborly in the good, old-fashioned way!

. . . talking over fences – being neighborly in the good, old-fashioned way . . .

 

. . . walking home from church down lilac-framed paths . . .

. . . walking home from church down lilac-framed paths . . .

. . . sitting on the front porch with the pooches . . .

. . . sitting on the front porch with the pooches . . .

 

. . . and hanging out with good friends - old and new (Sue, Molly, and Jill).

. . . and hanging out with good friends – old and new (Sue, Molly, and Jill).

It was an awesome trip, and we can’t wait to get back up there in August!  In the meantime, there will probably be another couple of trips south, and on Sunday I’ll catch you all up on the beach house progress.  Here’s a peek . . .

Our little neighborhood at dusk.

Our little neighborhood at dusk.

 

Our house, with the beginning of the second floor balcony and the sky balcony above that.

Our house, with the beginning of the second floor balcony and the sky balcony above that.  We were hoping the siding would be on, but we missed that by a few days, and the day we left the windows and doors were going in.

 

 

Bear - hanging out in the kitchen.

Bear – hanging out in the kitchen.

 See you back here on Sunday!  God bless.