Monday, January 4, 2016

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House wins prestigious Chairman's Award

The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House is known to be a historical gem. But now it is the landscape that surrounds the home which is being honored by the Michigan Green Industry Association as the 2015 winner of its esteemed Chairman's Award. 

The annual award is given to an organization that contributes to the quality of the environment and magnificence of the landscape.

A beautiful look at the landscape surrounding the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House which was recently honored by the Michigan Green Industry Association as the 2015 winner of its esteemed Chairman's Award. Photo courtesy of Edsel & Eleanor Ford House.

"We are extremely honored to be receiving the Chairman's Award," said Karl Koto, director of landscapes in a press release. "This award is a testament to the continued skill and passion of our landscape team. It was Eleanor Ford's wish to preserve the estate for the enrichment of the public and receiving the Chairman's award reflects the dedication of the entire organization to conserve this magnificent estate and its historically important landscape."

As Koto explained when planning their family home, Edsel and Eleanor Ford wanted a setting that provided both wide-open and intimate outdoor spaces that would accommodate everything from sports and relaxation to nature and family gatherings. This was achieved through the work of Jens Jensen, one of America's foremost landscape designers and conservationists. Between 1926 and 1932, Jensen, who is known as a master of the naturalistic approach created a design that combines woodlands, meadows and wetlands in such a natural way one would never know it was man made. His design also engages all five senses through the sight of many colors and shapes, the sound of water running, the smell of flowers in bloom, the taste of berries and the serene feeling that comes with being surrounded by nature. 

The beauty he created on the historic property that includes 43 acres of turf, 1.25 miles of roads, 1.5 miles of paths and 7,000 feet of shoreline is maintained by a team of six full-time, one part-time and two seasonal landscapers. Among the work they do to maintain its beauty is the annual spring planting of more than 5,000 new bulbs. In 2015, more than $2 million was spent on upgrades that included mending a bridge and storm-water management system.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to honor the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House with this award," said Diane Andrews, executive director of the Michigan Green Industry Association. "The grounds are the epitome of 'magnificence of the landscape!'"

Previous winners have included Domino Farms, Frederik Meijer Gardens and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fans geeked about second Big Fat Greek Wedding

News of the long-awaited follow-up to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” scheduled for release in March has fans shouting, “Oompa!”

Written by Academy Award nominee Nia Vardalos it is said to be the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time and the same formula that made it funny the first time will return in the second including most of the Portokalos family. 

Kirk Jones (“Nanny McPhee”) will direct the next chapter – which brings the Greeks back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding if there is such a thing. The next journey will once again be produced by Rita Wilson and Playtone Partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. 

Have a look at some of the photos from the newest adventures of the Portokalos family recently released.

 Actress Nia Vardalos as Toula and John Corbett as Ian from a scene in the next installment of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." 

The story picks up again when the family discovers that Toula's parents (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan) never officially got married due to a mistake with their marriage certificate the shenanigans begin anew for the famously dysfunctional Greek family.

Nia Vardalos as Toula

Elena Kampouris as Ian and Toula's daughter Paris Miller

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding," was a sleeper movie with a budget of $5 million that ended up grossing more than $368 million.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

No hay mattress for Pope Francis

Papal bedroom setting featuring a Loom & Leaf mattress courtesy of Saatva.

Luxury mattress brand celebrates the honor of providing Pope Francis with a good night’s sleep

 Pope Francis is coming to America. 

It's his first visit as pontiff and as the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina so you can bet - everything he does - from the second he steps off the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Sept. 22 will be cause for celebration or mention.

That includes where he lays his head down at the end of the day.

Pope Francis waves to faithful from his studio window overlooking
St. Peter's Square at the Vatican (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Bestowed with the honor of filling the order for a Loom & Leaf memory foam relaxed firm queen-size mattress - which has been ordered by St. Charles Seminary where Pope Francis will be staying while in Philadelphia -- is Saatva. Charged with the duty of providing the pontiff with a good night's sleep in America - it is no surprise that the online mattress company - featured in numerous financial magazines for its ability to tear down the barriers to successful e-commerce in the mattress industry and generate $29 million in revenue - would point out a few interesting facts and stats related to the pontiff's sleep habits.

Did you know - for instance?

Most nights Pope Francis goes to bed at 9 p.m. and unlike many Americans who absorb a little late night television before retiring - never watches TV. Sorry Jimmy. Instead he prefers to read for an hour before calling it a night. Then again he's coming to America and the land of 24/7 might prompt the pontiff to indulge in the last call for espressos!

The pope sleeps for six hours. He awakes at 4 p.m. without an alarm. He catches up on his sleep by taking a nap during the day -- for 40 minutes to an hour. Then again while in America he will be sleeping on a luxury mattress and who knows - might just decide to sleep in as long as the other clergy at St. Charles Seminary.

(AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
The city of Philadelphia is not only hosting the pope but his flock of more than one million people - who are traveling to see Pope Francis' public mass at Independence Hall on Sunday, Sept. 27. The influx of people has everyone asking - where will the faithful sleep? According to Saatva there's a group of children and their parents from a New Jersey church have made arrangements to camp out at the Philadelphia Zoo.

The battleship New Jersey is offering 400 bunks for $75 per person. That includes breakfast and dinner along with a tour of the museum ship and a ride in a flight simulator. What it does not include is a shower nor guarantees that you won't be asked to swap the deck or peel potatoes in the ship's galley.

Philadelphia is happy to be the host of the pope and 300 families in the area have signed up to host families traveling to attend the mass. The rate for guests - as suggested by organizers of the pontiff's visit was $30 to $50. Sadly, another 500 homeowners are reported to be asking anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 a week.

As with snowstorms city healthcare professionals will be able to sleep at their work facilities.

Due to the need for manpower during peak times the Philadelphia Police Department reported that officers may have to spend the night in Philly for the first time in more than 20 years.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Promoters toss fans another bite of 'Jurrassic World'

Someone at Universal Pictures opened the cage today releasing new photos and footage of the newest long-awaited installment in the "Jurassic Park" series, "Jurassic World," including this juicy poster featuring Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing face-to-face with the Indominus Rex.

Universal Pictures

Actor Chris Pratt in a scene from Universal Pictures' 'Jurassic World.'

Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt in 'Jurassic World.'

A scene from Universal Pictures' "Jurassic Park."

Park visitors get a close look at the dinosaurs in Universal Pictures' 'Jurassic World.'

A scene from Universal Pictures 'Jurassic World.'
Actor Chris Pratt in a scene from Universal Pictures' soon-to-be-released 'Jurassic World.'

The newest film based on characters by writer Michael Crichton is once again being produced by Steven Spielberg. Colin Trevorrow directs the epic action-adventure from a screenplay he wrote along with Derek Connolly. 

Joining Spielberg in producing the action-adventure film are Frank Marshall and Patrick
The film stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong and Judy Greer.

It's scheduled to open Friday, June 12.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tips for women traveling alone abroad or at home

Flickr Photo/Susana Fernandez

I have traveled alone a number of times over the years -- from school in Saskatchewan to home in Ontario or as far away as Mexico. I can remember a few worrisome hours when a blizzard threatened to ground all flights leaving me stuck in the Winnipeg Airport on Christmas Eve. Another time a flight to Acapulco was greeted by soldiers carrying machine guns lining the airport runway. I thought we landed in a war zone but apparently it was all standard security procedures for the big convention of diplomats that happened to be going on at the time. Other than that I never had a problem but then I was coached by my mother. She was a frequent flyer and passed along a few tips before I made my first trip. Things that she learned while traveling alone like: where to stash your cash in case you lose your purse or luggage – which was always likely; how to be cheerful when engaged in conversation without revealing any personal information; and a list of emergency phone numbers in case there’s a problem such as the Canadian embassy or consul in Mexico.

Nowadays more than ever – women are willing to travel alone to see the world.
In fact a recent survey by Small Luxury Hotels of the World found that between 2011 and 2012 there was a 53 percent increase in demand for rooms by women traveling alone. The London Mail also reported that some hotels have taken steps to make their accommodations more appealing to women traveling on their own, for business, school or pleasure, with features such as women-only floors.

Despite the trend many women still worry that such solitary excursions carry too many risks, making them a target for thieves, kidnappers and other criminals. However, Barbara Foster, a veteran globetrotter and author of a new book, “The Confessions of a Librarian: A Memoir of Loves” said there is no reason to let your fears keep you from the adventures you can experience. “Sure, there are risky places and bad types out there,” said Foster, in statement released to the press. “But with the right precautions, women can travel solo with confidence, visiting the places and meeting the people they always dreamed of and returning home with wonderful stories and memories.”
Her tips come from years of traveling across the country and around the world with stops in Istanbul, Bombay, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem and other locales.
“As an adventurer, Foster is something of a contradiction,” says her publicist. “She describes herself as a librarian who has difficulty reading flight schedules and suspects a haggling merchant in an Arab bazaar would view her as easy pickings. He would be mistaken.”
Yes, she’s spent a professional lifetime in academia and co-authored books on such esoteric subjects as Tibetan Buddhism but she’s also worldly and offers the following tips for traveling boldly while staying safe:

Do not stray from too far from the main drag or tourist area. “Simply put, some places just aren’t worth the risk. So avoid ‘no go’ neighborhoods, cities and countries,” Foster said. If you feel compelled to go to the Middle East choose a place known to be safer than others such as Israel. India can be dangerous and Foster said she was nearly kidnapped there, saved only by the intervention of a librarian friend. Still she said, “the country offers a once in a lifetime experience.”


Try to learn the language or at the very least know a few important phrases. Where is the bus stop? Where is the hospital? How much does it cost? Understanding what people are saying is also important in case there’s a problem and what people are saying has to do with potential dangers.

Have those local phone numbers handy as I said and make a connection with friendly contacts. “Make yourself known not only to the U.S. embassy or consul but also to people in your field,” Foster said. When she was traveling Foster said she wrote articles about the libraries that she visited – giving everyone a heads up as to her whereabouts both at home and abroad. She said her fellow librarians were a protective group.
Flickr/Adam Kerfoot-Roberts
Foster also recommends dressing wisely, paying attention to manners and watching what you spend. Basically you do not want to draw attention to yourself. Wearing wild clothes in a country where women dress conservatively shows a sign of disrespect. In her book, Foster recounts a visit to Istanbul where she watched horror-struck as two Turkish men slapped a young British woman for wearing a miniskirt on the street. You might also remember the freedoms enjoyed by Americans are not enjoyed everywhere so use caution when wearing T-shirts that might be cool at home but offensive in another country.

As my mother told me and as Foster also recommends, carry money and identification in a safe place on you rather than in a purse or suitcase. Foster recommends a pouch under your shirt. One of my favorite spring jackets had a zipper pocket on the inside – which served me well as did my tall soccer socks.

Lastly if you’re going to travel alone stick close to home said Foster. “You will miss many of the world’s must-see places but if the thought of traveling abroad holds too much stress for you it might be better to travel only in the U.S.”

A man walking his dog in New Orleans/Flickr/Jeff Turner

Two of Fosters favorite must-see places at home are New York and New Orleans. “Both are great places to explore,” Foster said.