Monday, August 29, 2011

Tips for combating the panic of packing for college

The idea of moving away from home to attend college or a university is both scary and exciting. Can you taste the freedom, be it pizza at all hours of the night or cookies for breakfast? That's exciting. The scary part is knowing there's a whole lot of work involved with flying the coop before these dreams become a reality.

To help combat that packing panic, Brandon Farestad-Rittel —a college-savings expert for Kinoli Inc., who went through the process himself — offers the following recommendations for students on the move:

Do you really need the Darth Vader helmet? Before you start loading things into boxes, go through your stuff and weed out items that you don't want/need.

"There's no point in adding clutter to your new place. Remember: Before dumping and donating unwanted items, give friends and neighbors a chance to dig through for hand-me-downs. They'll appreciate the thought and it's one less thing for you to move," Farestad-Rittel said.

Be friendly but wise. "College houses are not always in the greatest condition," said Farestad-Rittel. "Since you don't want to be on the hook for other tenants' wild times, get together with the landlord before you move in and do a walk-through." Take a notebook and jot down any damages you see along the way. Snap a few photos and get the landlord to sign off on a list of problem areas."

No hot water? If you're living on campus, the dorms will be ready for you to move in. If you're renting housing, however, be sure to call the electric, water and cable companies before moving day to make sure you have services when you arrive.

Use your time wisely. One of the great things about college life is flexibility. You can move into your space midweek or on the weekend. During the week, moving trucks are typically cheaper to rent than on weekends. If you're traveling a long distance and decide to enlist a professional mover, Fares

tad-Rittel suggests doing some research to find a reputable company. For information on knowing the difference, Farestad-Rittel recommends the Main St. posting, 8 Things your movers don't want you to know

Condense your items as best as you can. Why carry an empty cooler when you can use it as a box? Be creative and pack small stuff inside larger items like with Russian nesting dolls.

Do you really need those packing Cheeto-thingies? Look around the house for newspaper you can use for packing. Items you might be taking with you such as dish towels and T-shirts can be used for packing materials.

Resist the urge to buy in advance. It's tempting to purchase items before you move in, and there are plenty of stores that expect you to do that, but hold off on the dorm bundle until after you move in.

"Once you know what you need, go shopping with roommates and save on some shared items," Farestad-Rittel said. Try using coupons for discounts on back-to-college lines from stores such as Target or coupons sites like Coupon Sherpa
Don't sweat the small stuff. Spend moving day dealing with the big items such as the couch and bed. Once you're settled in, you can pull out the knickknacks and movie posters.

Map it all out. "It really helps to plan where furniture will fit before you move," Farestad-Rittel said. College dorms usually have a floor plan available online. If you're renting, spend the day playing traffic cop as in using tape to indicate where large furnishings will fit into the room or flat. If you don't have the luxury of visiting, Farestad-Rittel recommends taking advantage of online tools such as those featured by freebies.about.com/od/homegardenfreebies/tp/free-online-room-design.htm

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
~Dr. Seuss

Friday, August 26, 2011

Michigan Days offered at Cedar Point

When it comes to football Michigan and Ohio don’t see buck-eye to eye. However, everyone is a fan of Cedar Point, and to celebrate the last days of summer Sandusky’s amusement park and resort will be offering residents of Michigan a special rate on tickets.

Listen up thrill-seekers.

From now through Sept. 2, one-day tickets to Cedar Point will be $34.99 as oppose to $50.

One of the reasons for the deal is the fact that students in Ohio are called back a week earlier than those in Michigan, leaving the park pretty quiet for most of the week. That means guests from the Great Lake state will seemingly have the park to themselves. During Michigan Days, as the promotion has been dubbed, special end-of-summer tickets will be available online at Cedar Point Michigan Days only. Proof of Michigan residency is required.

Also tickets for little ones (3-up and under 48 inches tall) and seniors (age 62-plus) will be discounted to $24.99. Children 2 and under are free.

One of the new rides at the park this year, which I have yet to try, is the Wind Seeker as shown in the simulated picture above. The two-passenger swing will have you kicking your heels 30 stories up. Riders are treated to breathtaking views of the park, Lake Erie and the shoreline, not to mention friends below. 

If that’s too far of a drive, here are a few other events and destination ideas, to consider:


Laugh for a good cause
Mike Green.
The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan will present, “Comedy Night 2011,” from 6 to 9 p.m., Oct. 19 at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle. The event, showcasing Michigan comedian and 2007 New York Comedy Expo winner Mike Green, includes a reception, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, live auction and 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $40, with proceeds to benefit the Furniture Bank, a marvelous group that provides beds and essential home furnishings to children and families in need. Ridley’s is at 310 South Troy Street, Royal Oak. For more information, call (248) 332-1300 ext. 200 or e-mail info@furniture-bank.org

Benefit ride
Macomb Bike and Fitness of Warren hosts “Pedal for Paws” bicycle ride to benefit Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society, 10 a.m. Aug. 27, at 28411 Schoenherr, Warren. Entry fee: $20; 10-, 25- or 35-mile loops, ending at bike shop. To register visit Macomb Bike

Box Theater
What’s That Smell? Productions presents the pop opera “Bare” at 8 p.m.  Aug. 27, at The Box Theater, 51 N. Walnut St. in Mount Clemens. For tickets, $20 or $18 for students and seniors, call (586) 954-2311 or visit Box Theatre. “Bare” tells the story of high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school facing issues of sexuality and personal identity.

Vintage Baseball
Rochester Grangers Vintage Base Ball Club plays at 1 p.m. Aug. 28, at Halbach Field in Rochester. Free admission, Click here or call (248) 656-4663.

Weekend Voyageurs Encampment
Lac Ste Claire Voyageurs Encampment program, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 27-28, at Metro Beach Metropark in Harrison Township. 

Learn about the history, lifestyles and skills of the people who lived during the Great Lakes fur trade era. Activities will include music, dance, stories and lectures. Metropark admission required.

Historic Village
Historic Village at Richmond Art Historical and Genealogical Society open 1-4 p.m. Aug. 28, in Bailey Memorial Park at Beebe and Park streets in Richmond. Visit log cabin, train depot, one-room schoolhouse and museum display “Richmond in the Late 1800s.” Call (586) 727-7773.

Coin show
Polish American Numismatic Society and Windsor Coin Club Show: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 28, at American Polish Cultural Center, Maple and Dequindre roads, Troy. Free; show includes 80 dealers, Polish cuisine available. The Society meets 1:30 p.m. first Saturday monthly at the American Polish Cultural Center. Call (248) 909-2670.

Palette Club
Lakeside Palette Club meets 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 1, in Gilstorf Room of St. Clair Shores Public Library, 22500 11 Mile Road at Jefferson. Program by Joel Wise on drip-and-press painting. Refreshments served. Set-up starts 5:30 p.m. Club also has studio space 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday in Room 111 of Adult Education Center on Masonic near Jefferson. Call (586) 350-4518 or visit Lakeside Palette Club

Square dancing
Patches Squares dance club hosts beginning square dance lessons, 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting Sept. 7, at First United Methodist Church of Warren, 5005 Chicago Road. First class (no matter when dancers start) is free, $3 for following sessions. Call (248) 613-3169.

Blind bowlers
Macomb Blind Bowlers for visually impaired and/or blind individuals 18 and older, league bowling 11:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting Sept. 7, at Fraser Star Lanes, northeast corner of 14 Mile and Garfield roads. Fee $10 per week. Call (586) 360-9543.

Free popcorn
MJR Digital Cinemas offer free popcorn and one refill Tuesdays through Sept. 6 at its theaters, including Chesterfield Crossing Digital Cinema 16, Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 and Partridge Creek Digital Cinema 14.

General Motors Employees Chorus first rehearsal for new season, 6:45 p.m. Sept. 12, at Lincoln High School, 22900 Federal, near Nine Mile Road and Van Dyke, Warren. Chorus open to those 18 and older, GM employment not required; new members accepted at first three rehearsals. For details, call (586) 412-3871 or information@gmchorus.com.
Warren Civic Theatre adult and youth auditions for “The Little Shop of Horrors,” 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 27, at Warren Community Center, 5460 Arden. Show dates Oct. 21-30. To schedule an audition, (586) 268-8400.
Oakland Youth Orchestras for students ages 8-18 years, 4-6 p.m. Aug. 30, at Varner Hall on the Oakland University campus in Rochester Hills. To register click here www.oyomi.org.
Cantata Academy Chorale singer auditions, Aug. 28, at First United Methodist Church, 5005 Chicago Road, Warren. Pianist provided. To schedule audition time, (313) 242-7282.
Madison Chorale auditions the evening of Sept. 6, at Wilkinson Middle School, 26524 John R, south of 11 Mile Road, Madison Heights, for the September-December season. To schedule an appointment, (248) 229-4055. Also, open rehearsal for all interested singers 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13, at the same location.

‘A Bug’s Life’
Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm hosts “A Bug’s Life” program, 1-2:30 p.m. Aug. 27, includes bug hunt, nets and jars provided. Fee $5 adults, $3 children and ages 60 and older. To register, (248) 656-4663 or rhmuseum@rochesterhills.org.

Discovery Cruises
Summer Discovery Cruises explore Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair Flats, departing from Metro Beach Metropark; 13 different educational cruises around such themes as fisheries, wildlife, wetlands, shipwrecks, lighthouses, weather and shipping. Selected times and dates through Sept. 10; fees for 2-1/2 cruises $20 adults, $10 ages 6-17, for longer cruises, $25 adults, $15 ages 6-17. Vehicle entry permit, daily or annual, required for Metropark entry. Visit www.metroparks.com or call (800) 47-PARKS.

Block Party
Grosse Pointe’s Greatest Block Party, presented by Henry Ford Medical Center Cottage, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sept. 10, noon-5 p.m. Sept. 11, on Kercheval Avenue between Neff and Cadieux roads in the Village area of downtown Grosse Pointe. Includes entertainment, car show, sidewalk sales, art fair and “Pooch Parade.” Call (313) 886-7474.

Fishing clubs
Vanguard Trout Unlimited for fishing enthusiasts meets 7:30 p.m. second Thursday monthly at Rochester’s Dinosaur Hill. Also, Fishing Buddies Fishing Club gathers 6:30 p.m. third Tuesdays at Rochester Hills OPC, 650 Leticia Drive. Call (248) 375-1931.

Park*it for fun
Annual free Park*it family fun nights continues at tri-county locations through August, and also Oct. 22 at Warren City Square. Fun starts at 6 p.m. and includes outdoor concerts, kids’ activities, sponsor giveaways and a family movie. For complete schedule information, visit parkitforfun.com.

Family Fun Day
Angels’ Place Family Fun Day, noon-4 p.m. Aug. 27, at Detroit Country Day Lower School on Maple Road between Lahser and Cranbook roads. Tickets $20 per person ($85 family of 2 adults, 3 children), includes food and entertainment; proceeds benefit homes and services for those with developmental disabilities. Call (248) 350-2203.

Free concerts
Concerts by live band and dancing at Thomas S. Welsh Activity Center at Metro Beach Metropark, 6:30-10 p.m. Aug. 28, at the Harrison Township park. Music, dancing free, vehicle entry permit required. Information, (800) 477-3172 or www.metroparks.com.

Film series
Detroit Historical Society weekend film series Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 4, at 1 p.m. in Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave. at Kirby. Free with admission $6 adults, $4 ages 60 and older, college students and ages 5-18. Parking $4. Call (313) 833-1801 or visit Detroit Historical Society

‘We Remember’
Shelby Senior Choir presents “Salute to America: We Remember” program in recognition of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, 1 p.m. Sept. 9, at the Shelby Senior Center. Free. For information, (586) 739-7540.

Bach Festival
Lexington Arts Council hosts 12th Annual Bach Festival, starts Sept. 11, with patriotic classics at First Congregational Church of Port Huron, continues at noon Sept. 15, with free concert at St. Clair Community College, with programs concluding Sept. 18. For ticket and schedule information, www.lexarts.com or (810) 359-5120.

Dance gala
“Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of First” gala, 7 p.m. Sept. 9, at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit. For tickets, (313) 494-5800 or Charles Wright

Warren art
Warren Tri-County Fine Art Association works by member artist Victoria Repen featured 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday during August at Warren City Hall.

Farmers Market
Mount Clemens Farmers Market open 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 19, at 141 North River Road. Locally grown products, including flowers. Visit Mount Clemens Farmers Market

Unique exhibit 
Anton Art Center presents the “Magic & Mysticism” exhibit, through Sept. 9, at 125 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens. The Center open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday. For details, (586) 469-8666 or The Anton Art Center

Features editor Debbie Komar contributed to this list.

Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living -- Miriam Beard

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hallmark Channel’s 'Prince William' hails from Shelby Township

One grew up in Buckingham Palace, the other in Detroit. One stands to inherit the throne and the other inherited his mother's love for the arts.

Prince William and Dan Amboyer were born worlds apart but audiences will see them as one in the Hallmark Channel's film "William & Catherine: A Royal Romance" airing 9 p.m., Aug. 27.

"I'm really excited about it coming out," said Amboyer, 27, of New York and the youngest son of Don and Claudia Amboyer of Shelby Township. "We shot in May and June in Romania. I've seen bits and pieces in editing but I'm really excited to see it all come together."

Photos courtesy of Hallmark Channel

"William & Catherine" chronicles the love story between Prince William (Dan Amboyer) and his sweetheart of eight years Kate Middleton (Alice St. Clair) from the couple's first meeting as students to the moment of their highly publicized wedding. The stellar cast includes Hollywood veterans Victor Garber ("Alias," "Titanic") as William's father Prince Charles, and multi-Emmy and Tony Award-winner Jane Alexander as William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Victor Garber as Prince Charles

"It was great to be able to work with such seasoned actors. (Victor) got in touch with me before we went to Romania, so we could get to know each other," said Amboyer, the lone Yank who beat out a lengthy list of British actors for William's role. "He was so supportive. We still keep in touch."

Jane Alexander as Queen Elizabeth II
Also fantastic in her role as the steadfast leader of the royal family was Alexander. Amboyer said he wasn't quite sure what to expect considering her star status, but soon discovered that she loves what she does.

"She was excited to be there," Amboyer said. A newcomer to American audiences is St. Clair, whose father heads the security detail for Queen Elizabeth II and was likely a key figure in the security for the royal wedding.

"I had a really great feeling about her, that we were a good match," Amboyer said. "Hopefully that will translate to the screen."
He's not sure if it made the cuts, but if he were to choose a moment that best illustrated the chemistry they had on the set it would be "the laundry scene." It wasn't a major, even climatic scene, but to Amboyer, very memorable. "She was teaching me how to do laundry and for some reason, we just had the best time," Amboyer said. "It was fun. We did some impromptu."

Alice St. Clair and Dan Amboyer as Kate and Prince William.
 Also memorable was the shoot at the presidential palace in Bucharest, Romania. He and Garber were acting out a scene as Prince William and Prince Charles, only to discover that across the way in another wing, the real Prince Charles was visiting friends.

As to the reasoning behind filming in Romania, Amboyer said they had unlimited access to royal palaces similar to those in England. Also, the film's writer, producer and director Linda Yellen, who met Princess Diana several times, is keen on details. And while it's not likely that HRH would have invited filmmakers to inhabit Buckingham Palace, the president of Romania did, rolled out the red carpet and then left them to film.
"I was taken aback by how welcoming the Romanian people were," said Amboyer. "I would have liked to have seen more of the countryside, but I was working 12 hours a day, six days a week."

Lesley Harcourt with the young actor playing Will as lad.
While in Romania, Amboyer's parents were invited to visit the set, but declined. It wasn't that they wouldn't have enjoyed the trip or seeing their youngest son acting on the set, but because they've chosen to be non-typical theater parents.

"We're the strong silent type," said Don Amboyer. "As with all of our children, we're in the background supporting their pursuits in life."

Yet he could not help but be proud of Dan's success.

"He's wanted to be an actor since he was about 5 years old," said the senior Amboyer, who has earned his own list of accolades as a longtime Macomb County Jail administrator and educator. His wife and Dan's mother Claudia, who often rehearses lines with her son over the phone, is also a retired science teacher.

Mark Penfold, Dan Amboyer and Stanley Eldridge.
"He was so blessed in knowing what he wanted to do and everything in his life has been in pursuit of that dream," Don Amboyer said.

One of the people who saw and supported Dan's passion early on was Janice Haines, founder of the Macomb Children's Chorus was Amboyer's fifth-grade music teacher at Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills.

"She taught me how to be a good performer, artist and hopefully a good person," said Dan Amboyer, who earned several state awards under Hines' direction, and entry into Michigan's Interlochen Arts Academy, and Carnegie Mellon University's prestigious School of Drama.

Dan Amboyer
The young actor has worked in numerous productions, on and off Broadway, and appeared on such TV series as "Law & Order" and "Body of Proof," before landing the role of England's Prince William.

The role was made a little easier by the amount of royal wedding footage available to study. Amboyer observed that William proudly fulfills his duties as a prince, but downplays his status as a British royal. He also noted that William, like his mother Diana, gets a doe-eyed look when he's playing around, and he also bites his lip when he's nervous. 

"My goal wasn't just to imitate but to find a balance between him and me," Amboyer said, revealing just a twinge of the heavy English accent he learned for his role. "I allowed myself to be William and to take in what I know to be true of him."

I am and always will be an HRH. But out of personal choice I like to be called William because that is my name and I want people to call me William - for now -- Prince William.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dracula's Hollywood lair has new owners

"Twilight's" Bella has audiences believing cold-blooded vampires and warm-hearted werewolves can be loveable creatures, but there once was a Bela of different sorts.

He, Bela Lugosi -- as oppose to her, Kristen Stewart -- had people running for the exit doors, in his role as Count Dracula, a scary (but somewhat dapper) vampire.

Ironically, Lugosi was born in Hungary (now Romania), which, as the story of Dracula goes, was the country where the blood-suckers preyed upon their victims. During the era of Tod Browning's monster movies, Dracula and Lugosi were almost considered one in the same name. However, rather than a castle in Transylvania, Lugosi chose Hollywood's "Castle La Paloma" as his home. 

Sotheby's International Realty/Konstantine Valissarakos
Lugosi's lair was recently listed at $2.3 million, but, alas, vampire fans, it has been sold, according to Konstantine Valissarakos of Sotheby's International Realty of Los Feliz

The 1924 Norman Brick Tudor sits in the Beachwood Canyon area of Los Angeles, overlooking the Hollywood sign and the city below, a perfect perch for any vampire.

It has the classic detailing that one would expect of the period but it is
not the dark and creepy home that one might imagine Dracula to enjoy.

Instead, the 5,000-square-foot home has a vast amount of natural sunlight. The formal dining room even features a wall of iron bay windows with no shades. There are two master bedroom suites, a ballroom-sized living room, plus numerous details fit for any Count including a large-scale kitchen, butler's pantry, service wing (no doubt with secret passageways), interior archways, slate roof, mahogany doors and handmade iron work.

A photo of one room features a monster movie poster.

It's unknown if that's an original or if it was included in the sale of the house, one thing is for sure, the new owner, which Curbed Los Angeles reported to be San Diego billionaire David Copley, won't find any capes hanging around.

When the Broadway star died in 1956, at age 73, he chose to be buried in his Dracula garb. 

What's great about historical homes, besides being a showcase for architectural design and the work of master craftsman, are the stories about the people who have owned the home at one time or another. Be it the cabin of inventors such as Thomas Edison or a bungalow owned by Hollywood celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe.
One of the most recent postings featured on Top Ten Real Estate Deals is the Rochester Hills home where Madonna grew up.  

But if our hopes are betrayed, if we are forced to resist the invasion of our soil, and to defend our threatened homes, this duty, however hard it may be, will find us armed and resolved upon the greatest sacrifices -- King Albert II.   

Monday, August 22, 2011

Making the back to school transition better for everyone

Metro Newspaper Services
Today is the first day of school for many students returning to colleges and universities. Hard to believe how quickly summer passes. The transition for some is smooth while others experience a tidal wave of anxiety.
"We have four kids in three different schools entering eighth, seventh, fourth and third grade," said Eileen Wacker, a mom and author of a new children's book, "Pink Hamster and the Birthday Surprise," the fourth installment in the award-winning Fujimini Island Adventure series. "So we have great personal stress related to the kids returning to school."
However, at this stage in the game, Wacker has learned not to take the move lightly.
Wacker sees it as one of the biggest transitions her children will make at this age and compares it to what many adult go through in the work force: going to a new grade in the same building is like getting a new job in the same company; going to a new grade level in a different set of school buildings is like getting a new job with a new company.
It's a big deal for kids and they can experience anxiety, she said.
"When we talk to our kids they are not typically worried about the next batch of teachers but say they are reluctant to return to school because of all the homework and hard work. They are, in effect, worried about all of the expectations and measuring up," Wacker said. "Memories of late nights doing homework with a parent looking over their shoulder and getting up early can make even the most optimistic child shiver."

So, to ease the transition and make it more of a positive experience, Wacker is going to try the following tips on her family:
1. Meet the teacher via e-mail. Have the student write their own note to the teacher but keep it simple, no lobbying or opinions just a simple, hello, I am ready for the new year and looking forward to being in your class note. "This is especially helpful for a shy child as the teacher will normally respond with a quick e-mail back and the child will experience the first personal connection," Wacker said.

2. Get your child ready by reviewing the school's electronics policy. For example: Do you they allow laptop and cellphones? Are the cellphone ringers turned off but texting is allowed? Make sure all equipment has your child's name printed clearly on it.

3. Consider planning breakfasts for the entire week. At least for the first week give them exactly what they want (or a close facsimile). Be it macaroni and cheese or cold pizza.

4. If they're in elementary school you should have a class list or visit the school as many will post them on the window. Find a classmate that your child will be happy to see in the class and arrange a play date.

5. Make shopping for school supplies fun. "I have my kids go with the babysitter for school supply store and then get ice cream or lunch afterward," Wacker said. "They like to pick their own stuff and they especially like to pay."

6. Get them pumped up by looking at the brightest side or their best side. "Think through a few reasons why you are sure this is going to be a great year for him/her. For example, our oldest child struggles to get good test grades. So we emphasize she has amazing organization stills and always gets her homework done.

7. Make an agreement with each child as to how you plan to wake them up. Go over the routine so there are no surprises such as a cold shower or shades flying up.

8. Forgo the first day pomp and circumstances as it only adds to the stress. "We buy items based on when they are on sale not necessarily for back to school," Wacker said. "Label their treasured clothes (expensive hoodies) so they're less likely to end up in the lost and found and skip the first day ceremony." Instead of a pose, take a candid shot.

9. Celebrate when you reach the end of the first week. "We go out to dinner and take small video clips of a funny interview with each child," Wacker said. "We ask them what their favorite things were the first week and to do an imitation of their teacher."

10. Communicate and remind with sticky notes. Write things like "you are brave" or "have the best day ever." Ask them open questions every day and try not to correct when they answer. Who do you sit next to in class now? What was lunch like? How do you like your teacher?

These are things that you can do to make the transition from summer to school easier. However, it's all for nothing if parents become overwhelmed with the transition. Plan ahead. Get plenty of sleep and chill. "You would not want anyone to criticize what you are wearing on the first day of your new job. You would not want anyone to yell at you or demand you to eat what they cooked. You would not want to be late. You would not want to enter the new office crying," said Wacker. "The back to school drama is coming, but you can send an excited child to school with optimism for a new year."

Check out Wacker's new book and award-winning series at Once Kids

Back to school immunizations
The Macomb County Health Department will be offering expanded hours and additional weekend clinics to accommodate the rush of back-to-school immunizations for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Today's session runs to 3 p.m.
The Macomb County Health Department is at 43565 Elizabeth Road, Mount Clemens.
For more dates/information, visit Macomb County Health Department

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder ~ Ralph W. Sockman

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Working from home: Five ways to make ends meet

Family Features photo

Everyone in this economy, even people with a steady job, can use a little extra cash to help cover the rising costs of food, gas and just about everything else.

It might seem impossible to squeeze something else into the itinerary — what with work and raising a family — but these five ideas can help you earn extra money on your own time:

1. Consider selling products from home. It doesn’t have to be makeup or jewelry, although both have proved profitable choices for lots of people. These days, products range from health and beauty aids to clothing, sports equipment and even toys. Look for a company that is a member of the Direct Selling Association. Be sure to ask questions about compensation, shipping and damages to the product. One example is XANGO, a global company that specializes in wellness products such as mangosteen beverages and toxin-free personal care products. Yes, I am referring to the tall burgundy jar of juice with the orange cap. XANGO does business in more than 30 international markets, so you can build income in your own community or grow a global business through international contacts. For more tips on how to get started or products you might want to sell, visit Direct Selling 411. For more on XANGO Click here.

2. Freelance or e-lance, as it’s sometimes called, is another work-at-home job that can provide additional income. Be prepared, however, to provide a resume and samples of your work. To get you started, check out Guru Employer, O Desk and Elance.

3. Tutor the next generation of bagpipers or English majors. Tutoring is not just a job to help young students pass their midterms or on to the next grade; tutors can help people achieve their goals. Your skills in areas such as music, foreign languages, scrapbooking and even computers could be put to work to help others. Put together an ad and post it where potential clients are most likely to be: the library, craft store or senior citizen facility. Ask around. Maybe a local business could use your talents for a potential class on cooking, sewing or even writing.

4. Be happy at what you do. If you love to cook, instead of offering to help another business, start a cooking class or catering service at home. If you have a knack for painting, woodworking, pottery or a cool product you invented, consider selling your items online. Visit www.etsy.com, www.amazon.com or www.google.com/checkout and www.buymichiganproducts.com to learn more about community marketplace opportunities.

5. Be adventurous. Remember when you were a kid and needed money for the show or a cool bicycle so you offered to mow your neighbor’s lawn or set up a lemonade stand at the end of your driveway? Consider starting a side business doing service jobs such as housekeeping, personal shopping or running errands for seniors. Print announcement cards and hand them out to friends and family and see what happens. If you get a good response, you’re in business. Then again, even if you only get one, it could lead to another, and another.
Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you -- Thomas Jefferson. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mom sows tribute to son and other soldiers

Every spring, Gail Charlie creates a floral display so big that many of her neighbors consider it a local attraction.

"I've been doing it forever," Charlie said of the large mound of flowers that she plants at the back of her property in Clinton Township. "The mound faces the street and sidewalk so people passing by can see it. I always plant our last name in flowers."

This year, however, instead of the surname tribute, Gail has planted the display in honor of her son, Stephen Charlie, 22, and all of the other men and women serving in various branches of the U.S. military.

Pfc. Stephen Charlie
"He's a fire support specialist with the 25th infantry division, HAC brigade," Gail said. "He's stationed in Hawaii — so that's good — but he has been away from home since he enlisted last August."

"He's my only son. I miss him," she added.

As every gardener knows, working in the yard can do wonders for mind, body and spirit. So she toiled and, in the end, created a floral billboard that spells out the words, "Bless our troops."

"It has more than 400 begonias — all white — about 200 petunias and 500 alyssums. Then I added figurines — one each for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force — holding the American flag."

Neighbors praise it.

Motorists stop their cars, get out and photograph it.

Others honor it with personal tributes.

"One woman told me, 'Every time I drive by it, I am reminded of the troops that are over there. So I stop and say a prayer,' " Gail said.

A deep love for her son is what drove her to create the display, but it is her great appreciation for all of the men and women serving in the various branches of the U. S. military that inspired its patriotic design.

"Have you ever watched 'Coming Home?' " asked Gail. "You'll cry your eyes out when you do. It's a reality show about soldiers coming home to surprise their families. I thought I had it bad with my son being gone until I saw that show."

Then she saw young women trying to cope without husbands or anxiously waiting to show them the baby born while they were overseas and children crying for their moms

and dads. The show airs on the Lifetime cable network on Sundays at 10 p.m. The New York Times called it, "A sort of U.S.O. mash-up of 'Punk'd' and 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.' Instead of surprising a needy person with a new home, the show goes to some lengths to trick unsuspecting relatives and to build up the suspense and drama of a veteran's return from war. It's respectful and often quite moving. At other times, it veers into the kind of overly cute, made-for-reality television feints and flourishes that diminish the intrinsic joy of the moment."

Since it blossomed, Gail has sent Stephen photographs of the display, which he thought were great. "He even showed his army buddies," Gail said.

She's happy he liked what he saw, but even happier that in a few weeks he'll be able to smell the flowers himself.

"He's coming home," she said.

I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them -- Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.

Friday, August 5, 2011

'Girls Taking Over the World' tour lands at Barnes & Noble in Northville

It's a grand day for Michigan authors, particularly Lara Zielin. Her new novel for teens, "The Implosion of Aggie Winchester" (Putnam Juvenile, $12.60), hit bookstores yesterday, and her book tour, "Girls Taking Over the World," starts today.

Michigan author Lara Zielin
"I feel like it's a literature fest, an embarrassment of riches," said Zielin, who resides in Ypsilanti with her husband and has been writing since the age of 7.

"I'm still growing and evolving, but happily I have some novels under my belt (including 'Donut Days' and 'Make Things Happen: The Key to Networking for Teens')."

One of the first stops along the GTOTW tour is a panel discussion and author signing at Barnes & Noble of Northville, 2 p.m. Aug. 7.

The event is for everyone, but it is the girls of the world who are most likely to be geeked about it. They not only get to meet one of their favorite authors (Lara Zielin), but three others who are part of the mega-woman tour. They include: Rhonda Stapleton ("Stupid Cupid, Flirting with Disaster, Pucker Up"); Christine Johnson (“Claire de Lune" and "Nocturne"); and Saundra Mitchell ("Shadowed Summer" and "The Verspertine").

Author Rhonda Stapleton
The authors organized the summer tour of bookstores and libraries in the Great Lakes area not just as a means of promoting their novels, but also to reach out to young women about important issues such as making good choices.

Author Christine Johnson
"Most of the young women in popular culture today, both real and fictionalized, seem to be popularizing really dangerous choices, from drug use to promiscuous sex to dropping out of high school and Botoxing their face into a plastic mask," said Zielin. "Now ... I'm no nun, so I get that girls do stuff and it's totally possible to recover after engaging in many of those activities. But I think the average girl out there might hear all these messages and think that risky behavior is what all girls do."

Author Saundra Mitchell

Zielin said she hopes to encourage girls to be more thoughtful when they come to forks in the road, to disregard what society says or what's portrayed as cool in magazines, and listen to the small voice inside telling you who you really are, instead.

Johnson wants girls to know they can do anything.

"I grew up hearing that," she said. "Now I'm doing what I want, writing. One of the best things about my job is that I get to create worlds and strong girls who live in them, too. There's no role a girl can't fill. Heroine, villain, love interest, they aren't nice or mean or strong or romantic or hateful, they're everything. All of it, in bits and pieces."
Stapleton said the GTOTW book tour is exciting.

"How often do we celebrate the strength and resilience that comes from being a girl? And where else is that strength and resilience tested more than in publishing?" Stapleton said. "I love supporting female writers. I love reading (about) female protagonists. Girls are hungry for stories featuring heroines who are flawed, realistic but grow into a sense of empowerment and inner beauty."

"If nothing else, I really hope that just one teen walks away from this tour believing that she can actually reach for her dreams," said Mitchell. "It may seem like you have to live in New York and wear black turtlenecks to be an author, but it's just not true."

Even the tour itself is an example of girl-power.

"No matter what movies and TV tell you, most authors don't get a book tour," said Mitchell, who is working on the final installment in her paranormal trilogy with Harcourt, "Aetherborne." "So we decided to put one together ourselves."

During the tour, special guests will be invited to stop by, including Aimee Carter, author of "The Goddess Test," who will attend the event in Northville, New York Times best-selling author of "The Iron Fey Series," Julie Kagawa and singer Sara Bennett Wealer.

Books by the authors will be available for purchase and signing at each stop.

"It's going to be a great," said Betsy Storrs, community relations manager for Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
Barnes & Noble is at 17111 Haggerty Road in Northville.

"Girls Taking Over The World" books

The Implosion of Aggie Winchester 
(Putnam Juvenile, $16.99)
At the outset of the novel Aggie is angry and frustrated. She's dressing and acting in a way that makes her appear tough, but it's also self-protecting. She's got a boyfriend situation that's complicated and she’s not getting along with her parents. Just when Aggie is ready to implode, a sudden situation serves as a catalyst for change. Click here for more on Lara Zielin

Stupid Cupid (Simon Pulse, $9.99 paperback)
Felicity Walker, who believes in true love, applies for a gig at Cupid's Hollow, a matchmaking company. She gets the job and, to her surprise, not just the title of matchmaker, but a real cupid. Armed with all of today's techie tools, including a pink tricked-out PDA, she works to meet her quota of successful matches. However, when she bends the rules of cupidity by matching her best friend with three boys at once, disaster strikes. Can Felicity come up with a plan to fix things or will she lose her cupid title and best friend?

Claire de Lune (Simon Pulse, $9.99 paperback)
Claire is turning sweet 16 but everything in her life is going sour. The town is in a panic over its sudden werewolf problem, and just when her high school's soccer god and son of world-renowned lycanthropy expert takes notice of her existence, she learns that all werewolves are female. Worse yet, she's the latest in the long line of wolfies that have inhabited her town for centuries, but have, until recently, been tame. Now Claire has to figure out a way to keep her lupine identity a secret from best-friend, love interest and his father, who is leading the hunt for the rogue werewolf.

The Vespertine (Harcourt Children's Books, $16.99)
It's the summer of 1889 and Amelia van den Broek is on the verge of womanhood when she is sent to live in Baltimore with a stylish cousin, Zora, who has been asked to show her the pleasures of city life and help her seek a suitable husband. She's having a great time when the gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions that turn out to be glimpses of the future. When people learn of her gift, she becomes the sought-after prophet of the community. Then, just when she's getting used to her new life as "Maine's Own Mystic" she becomes intrigued by a young artist with his own powers. While she has no trouble seeing the future of others, she cannot predict whether there's a future for the two of them. Just when things could not be at their worse, one of Amelia's darkest visions comes to pass and those around her start to question whether she's the seer of dark portents or the source of them.

Looking for other family-friendly events going on in the Detroit area? Check out our listing here:

Mount Clemens car cruise still hoppin’ after 20 years
It’s the 20th anniversary of the Annual Bud Light Classic Car Cruise in downtown Mount Clemens. Hosted by The Friends of Mount Clemens, it is considered by some to be the granddaddy of all municipal cruises – even predating the founding of the Woodward Dream Cruise by three years. It runs from 2 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6.

Shown here is an updated map of the participants and where to find them along the route.


The children’s area was organized by ABC Magic Shop of Mount Clemens and can be found on Macomb Place between Main and Walnut Street. It will be a fun zone featuring everything from inflatables to a motorized ride. Be sure your child enters ABC Magic store’s Car Cruise Coloring Contest.

This event attracts cars of every make, model and year. “Starting at 2 p.m. North Main Street will be open to northbound traffic only, but it is narrowed to one lane of traffic. Car owners are encouraged to take their rolling steel babies out for an actual cruise… so the cars on display are always changing,” according to organizers of the cruise.

Michigan movie classic
The Redford Theatre's presentation of "Somewhere In Time," starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, will feature a guest appearance by Jo Addie. Addie had a role in the film and is the president of the International Somewhere In Time Fan Club. Tonight's showing begins at 8 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Saturday shows are a 2 and 8 p.m. General admission tickets: $5
The Redford Theatre is at 17360 Lahser Road (just north of Grand River), Detroit. For more information visit  Redford Theatre

Discovery Cruises
Summer Discovery Cruises explore Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair Flats, departing from Metro Beach Metropark; 13 different educational cruises around such themes as fisheries, wildlife, wetlands, shipwrecks, lighthouses, weather and shipping. Selected times and dates through Sept. 10; fees for 2-1/2 cruises $20 adults, $10 ages 6-17, for longer cruises, $25 adults, $15 ages 6-17. Vehicle entry permit, daily or annual, required for Metropark entry. Click here for Metropark news or call (800) 47-PARKS.

Village art
Fine art and crafts show with works by 100 artists from around the country, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 6, noon-6 p.m. Aug. 7, at The Village of Rochester Hills shopping center, 104 N. Adams Road at Walton. Free parking, admission, entertainment, children's activities. Outdoor food court available.

Frog Masquerade
New Orleans-inspired Frog Masquerade benefit for Detroit's Matrix Theatre Company, 9 p.m. Aug. 5, at The Magic Stick Lounge, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Party features music, street performances including tarot readings, fortune telling and circus acts; cover $5. Proceeds benefit theater's environment youth festival. Call (313) 967-0999.

Fishing clubs
Vanguard Trout Unlimited for fishing enthusiasts meets 7:30 p.m. second Thursday monthly at Rochester's Dinosaur Hill. Also, Fishing Buddies Fishing Club gathers 6:30 p.m. third Tuesdays at Rochester Hills OPC, 650 Leticia Drive. Call (248) 375-1931.

Free concerts
Lake St. Clair Symphony Orchestra string player Lindsey Reich performs 7 p.m. today at Wahby Park at Blossom Heath Inn on Jefferson south of 10 Mile Road, St. Clair Shores. Free; guests should bring own chairs and/or blankets.
Warren Cultural Commission presents Thomas H. Carey "Concerts at the Square," 7 p.m. Sundays, at Warren City Square, east of Van Dyke and north of 12 Mile Road. Schedule includes: Aug. 7, Motor City Brass Band; Aug. 14, The Under Pressure Band; Aug. 21, Warren Concert Band. Bring lawn chair or blanket. Call (586) 264-0959.
St. John Hospital and Medical Center's The Plaza Jazz Concert Series, continues 7 p.m. today at The Village Festival Plaza, Kercheval and St. Clair, Grosse Pointe. Free. Call (313) 886-7474 or visit www.thevillagegp.com.
Uptown Friday Night Concert Series at The Fountain Stage, on Macomb Place between N. Walnut and Pine streets, in downtown Mount Clemens, 9:30-11 p.m., Aug. 5, The Allies. For details, www.DowntownMountClemens.com or (586) 469-4168.
Concerts by live bands and dancing at Thomas S. Welsh Activity Center at Metro Beach Metropark, 6:30-10 p.m. Sundays through August at the Harrison Township park. Music, dancing free, vehicle entry permit required. Information, (800) 477-3172 or www.metroparks.com.
Rockin' on Riverfront
Free Chevy Rockin' on the Riverfront concert series continues 8-10 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 12 at Riverfront Plaza in downtown Detroit. Schedule: Aug. 5, Leon Russell and Mitch Ryder; and Aug. 12, Bachman Turner. Parking available $5 at GM surface lot at St. Antoine and Atwater adjacent to GM Renaissance Center. Viewing space on first-come, first-serve basis, with own lawn chairs or blankets. Food concessions available; coolers not permitted. 

Bluegrass Festival
Annual Harsens Island Bluegrass Festival, noon-9 p.m., Aug. 13, at Harsens Island Schoolhouse Grille, 2669 Columbine Road. Tickets $20, roundtrip ferry ride $7. Festival benefits local charities. Visit www.2011harsensislandbluegrassfestival.eventbrite.com.

Go Comedy's PJ Jacokes and Tommy LeRoy
Go Comedy!
"ROGOCOP! The Musical," a parody of the movie "Robocop," presented 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays through Aug. 26, at Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 Nine Mile Road, Ferndale. Tickets, $5-$15, available at Go Comedy! or by calling (248) 327-0575 after 6 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays.

Vintage Baseball
Regular Base Ball Club of Mount Clemens plays 2 p.m. at field on east side of Romeo Plank Road north of Clinton River Road: Aug. 21 vs. Midland Mighty River Hogs. Visit Mount Clemens Regular Base Ball Club
Rochester Grangers Vintage Base Ball Club plays at 1 p.m. Aug. 28, at Halbach Field in Rochester. Free admission. Visit www.rochesterhills.org or call (248) 656-4663.

Zoo music
Wild Summer Nights concert series at Detroit Zoo, 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays, through Aug. 31, free with zoo admission or $5 after 5 p.m.; animal habitats and Dinosauria open until 8 p.m. For schedule, visit or (248) 541-5717. 

When it comes to advice on raising girls: I don't have advice so much as I have reassurance. The news is full of stories about how mothers are ruining their children by doing X or not doing Y. I feel confident in saying that if your kids are clothed, fed, surrounded by books and people who love them, you're doing it exactly right -- Saundra Mitchell, author and mom.