The Old Christmas Station

Love to eat out? In the mood for authentic German/European style foods? You’ll want to make a note of this restaurant. It’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan but, this place isn’t about the chicken dinners. It’s about so much more. Can you say, Schnitzel?


At The Old Christmas Station everything is made fresh to order from scratch with no processed ingredients and can be served with a wide variety of German beers and or perfectly matched European wines.

If your palette tingles for full-bodied authentic flavors, a nice cocktail, and good service after a long day of shopping and sight-seeing, Chef Barbara truly puts her heart and pride into the preparation and presentation of her authentic dishes.

We had an excellent, knowledgeable waiter Ryan, who answered all our questions with ease and offered me a fabulous suggestion for a medium dry red wine. It was delightful, smooth, and a suitable match with my meal. It is now one of my new favorites, the wine and The Old Christmas Station!



With its inviting train station historic ambiance and extensive menu, it has something for everyone. Last weeks meal began with fresh, crisp, perfectly sized salads with a homemade taste-bud popping house dressing, and an appetizer of the most flavor-filled fabulous bruschetta any of us had ever tasted.

The Wiener Schnitzel I had was created with breaded veal and my cousin who was here from New Jersey had one with breaded pork, both served with generous portions of spaetzle topped with a rich fresh cream mushroom sauce. We all sampled another entree of extraordinary beef goulash with spaetzle. All of the flavors in every dish were rich, amazing, and unique.

Then, when we thought the food experience couldn’t get any better, this beautiful amazing dessert with edible flowers and a cherry on top was delivered to our table!


Homemade Tiramisu

The Old Christmas Station is located at, 100 S. Main Street. It’s at the opposite end of town as Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I discovered this food-lovers treasure near the end of July and have been twice since, with seven different people. Everyone has been blown away with flavors, textures, the service, and the over-the-top attention to detail to everything edible.


Happy Full Tummy’s and memories to go!

After our meal was complete, the sweet congenial chef/owner Barbara from Switzerland and sou chef, Anthony took the time to visit our table. They introduced themselves and asked for our opinions, complaints, or even suggestions on the recipes that were served.

Our party of four agreed that perfection is difficult to improve upon.



I have a funny feeling it won’t be long before I crave the best schnitzel or beef goulash in Frankenmuth.

Thank you to all that served us at The Old Christmas Station and added to a delightful memorable meal experience with my out of town guests on two occassions-so far.

(My apologies Ryan for not snapping your picture too.)

Yelp and Tripadvisor reviews








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Filed under Frankenmuth Michigan, The Old Christmas Station

Shipshewana Silliness

My July 4th began in the car, listening to a half of a very good book while I drove to Shipshewana, Indiana for our annual ladies retreat with some family and friends.

I thought it was crazy that I bought cinnamon bread in Indiana and when I sliced it, it was shaped like Michigan.Lotta love in that loaf.


The flea market celebrated the holiday opening on Monday, along with their usual Tuesday and Wednesday. Who doesn’t love an extra day to shop?

Besides the famous flea market with bargains beyond ones imagination, there are many store-front shops that line the main street and side streets.

We stayed at the Farmstead Inn, ate fresh locally farmed Amish food, found wonderful bargains every day, had our very own auction one night, (everyone contributes a donation or more) and played card B I N G O the next. The auction purchases and bingo prizes were fun, some practical, others, well, maybe not so much.



The musical, The Home Game, playing at the Blue Gate Theater and Restaurant,  was raved about by those who attended.

But as always – –  the very best part for me was all the laughter, and just being together with family and friends and I can’t forget my mother’s wonderful silly sisters.



At one point I truly thought someone in the hotel may complain. We all laughed so loud and hard, it hurt. Truly the best kind of pain! That’s me below with the happy tears at the bottom right.

Jersey Cookie Girl

Our Shipshee Faces! Photo- Jersey Cookie Girl

Here are some of our best finds this trip!

If you love – better than Grandma’s comfort food, shopping, and great flea market bargains, you will adore Shipshewana. I highly recommend a visit.

Until next time, wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Love Mel


Filed under Shipshewana, Uncategorized

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Not only is Grand Rapids the second largest city in Michigan, but it has numerous extraordinary entertaining things to do, and amazing places to visit. My husband and I found two of them last Monday.

A peek at our day trip to Meijer Gardens.

It was the perfect weather, overcast and not to crowded. There were fields of wild flowers, woodlands and wetlands along with perfectly manicured grounds through our entire journey on the walking paths. We spent about four hours and I wished we had at least that many more. It was so tranquil to take in the kaleidoscope of color, shapes, scents and spectacular sculpture exhibits by some extremely impressive artists.

We didn’t make it to the children’s gardens. Although we saw a few children in swim suits and joyous sounds emanating from the area as we passed by.

There was some amazing music that could be heard throughout the grounds from a band that was rehearsing for a later concert at the amphitheater.

The pillars, flowers, and vines were breathtaking.


The Japanese Gardens  opened in 2015. As we enjoyed the journey through the curved paths, it felt as though you were being bathed in a blanket of calm. There were several waterfalls ranging from a trickle to a cascading rush. The blossoms blew their fragrance as if sending gentle kisses through the air. I never wanted to leave, but they closed at five.


In one of the indoor exhibits I recognized a saguaro cactus, but this one was under fifty years old…no arms yet. Earlier blog post about these unique cacti.



The sculpture gardens are filled with unique and famous pieces by many artists.

I enjoyed this equine masterpiece that measures 288 x 91 x 339 inches. The American Horse, was created by Nina Akamu in 1999.

He’s Majestic… I’m about 5 1/2 feet tall and to him I must feel like a horse fly on his front leg.


The Long Island Buddha-made from steel and copper by artist Zhang Huan.


I bet you can guess why I could hardly take my eyes from this stainless steel and stone sculpture. I, you, she or he . . .by Jaume Plensa, known for using ideas about language and communication in his sculptures.  It was so wonderful to walk among these figures and imagine their silent conversations. I have no doubt their conversation included the words, “This artist is brilliant!”

Here’s the link for Frederik Meijer Gardens. We would highly recommend this park be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting the area.

Afterwards to end our adventure, we discovered a well-known brewery in Grand Rapids. Founders Brewing. 

Just a small appetizer. (enough to feed four, I think) Absolutely the most umami (my new favorite word) hummus and olive tapenade spread I’ve had anywhere. The beer wasn’t bad either. (tee-hee) Five star brewery for sure.


If you’ve been on any day trips that were fun, please share in comment section!

As always, thanks for reading and sharing my blog.

Enjoy your summer.





Filed under Day Trips, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculptures, Uncategorized

Clowns! Virtuous or Iniquitous?

My husband and I have had an ongoing discussion for years about clowns. He shares the opinion of many others that believe they are all evil. There has never been a doubt in his mind of their wickedness since he was a young boy.

evil clown





I, on the other hand have always used Bozo the Clown as my argument. He would never cause anyone any harm. Bozo told me once when I was on his show that he liked my drawing of fireworks the best, even though the audience voted another the winner.







What about the clowns in parades? They’re dressed in those vivid colors, bright smiles, full of laughter, funny horns, and they give-away candy. They were not ever scary to me. (Hmm, until now!)

parade clowns





My clown belief changed for me the other night. I think I’m a convert!

I had my first evil clown experience. I rarely dream or at least I don’t remember if I do, and have had only a few nightmares over the years.

My husband is up before daybreak, work day or not. He heard my very clear panicked scream, Help me, a long moan and another loud help me . . .  pleeeeze! The poor guy’s heart stopped for a beat or two, he dropped his coffee, and rushed to the bedroom, his thoughts consumed with fear  of something being radically wrong with me.

Oh no!

Oh no!







As he entered the room, he knew at once I was having a nightmare and calmly talked me awake telling me it was okay, and that I was safe.

I shared the nightmare of the horrific painted white-faced, fuzzy-green haired clown that had a hold of my leg.  I kicked and tried to get away before he murdered me with a Tootsie Roll machine gun. It was so real. My husband never laughed and never once said, “See, I told you so, they are all evil, even the ones with candy.”

I have a terrific husband. He’s my hero!

How do you feel about clowns? Good, Evil, or Indifferent? Leave a comment!

I hope to never see these under a bathroom stall. UGH!

Seriously . . . RUN!

clown shoes


Filed under Clowns

The Sonoran Desert, Part 2

Mission San Xavier Del Bac – Tucson, Arizona

This national historical landmark is the only remaining mission in Arizona, that’s intact. Native Americans sell their bread and wares beneath shelters outside the church.425 (640x346)

The mission is a working parish for the Tohono O’odham people, that still live nearby. There are several masses a week.

This structure was begun in 1783. Construction of the mission continued for fourteen years before the money ran out. This caused the dismissal of artists and master artisans.The east tower was left bare with no dome or lantern. Inside, the baptistry and choir loft along with paintings were left unfinished.

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The Baptismal font, all original and still standing. The church is being restored by The Patronato San Xavier group. More than ten million dollars has been raised and spent to repair and stabilize the original adobe brick.

Desert Animal’s and some Fire ants. No Rattlers this trip, thank goodness.

I never thought I would think a desert would have such beauty. It’s gorgeous surrounded by the ever-changing mountains. As the sun rises and sets, it touches each peak with its brilliance, not missing any of the ranges. As the day progresses it creates shadows and color changes. It’s absolutely magnificent to observe. Most of the cacti were beginning to bud, and there was much more green than I expected to ever see in a desert. I’m so grateful to have had this spring experience.

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Did you know this? I didn’t.

The tree above appears to have maybe large nests in it. When I asked about the bird or animal that made their homes in these trees, I was astonished to find out, these weren’t nests at all. The large clumps are mistletoe plants, and if they aren’t harvested they can cause damage to the trees and possibly kill them.

Mistletoe grows in the desert, who would have thought?

New Mexico-I couldn’t leave without having at least one famed Margarita. Check-out the pink Chihuahua on the side of the glass. You can’t get much more authentic than that! Our meal was fantastic too.

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As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. See you again next month.


Filed under Sonoran Desert, AZ

The Sonoran Desert, AZ (part 1)


Last year in February I traveled to Albuquerque, and Las Cruces New Mexico. In my previous blogs, you heard about, The Sandia Tram, White Sands, the hot springs, Route 66, the largest pistachio in the world, and the quaint, tiny, ancient, lovely, Alamogordo Zoo. I was introduced to huevos rancheros and many other tasty fine foods. Almost everything comes with green sauce or red sauce or both, that’s called Christmas. I tried them all. My favorite, is the green.


My life-long dear friend moved in November to NM and I was missing her something awful, along with those green chili’s she had introduced me to last year. There was only one thing to do, and that was to return to New Mexico for a visit.

End of February 2016

From Las Cruces, we took a wonderful all girl short road trip to Tucson Arizona.

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Here we are!

During this visit, I learned even more about the desert and its inhabitants. I had no idea how colorful a desert could be in the spring. I took it all in and enjoyed every moment.

We stopped in Dragoon, AZ on our way to Saguaro National Park and enjoyed, The Amerind Museum and Art Gallery. This museum was gorgeous and I would highly recommend a stop, if you’re ever in the area. The world-class private collection was immense and impressive. It holds Native American art and artifacts from the entire western hemisphere. We only spent a couple of hours but could have spent a whole day. Fascinating and fabulous!

I would have to say, my favorite experience had to be hanging out with the ginormous Saguaro Cactus.

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Whew! Didn’t see any.

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Our Ladies Trip

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Saguaro Cactus



I’m awed by the breath-taking views. The history of the mountains, the wars fought, and the Native American people with all their wisdom and appreciation of our planet. I was surprised by the many blossoming plants, and all the animals large and small who have not only adapted, survived, but still thrive in the deserts.

I felt honored being able to stand among these multi-aged cacti and walk among the desert grounds where so many have stood before me. As I closed my eyes and breathed in the deep dry desert air, I wished these two-century old cacti could share their life stories.

This type of cactus only survives in Southern Arizona, South of the border in Old Mexico. and a scattering spill across the Colorado River into California.

Saguaro cacti can live to be 200 years old and are one of the largest anywhere.

With an amazing root/rod system it can store enough water during one rainy season to last four years without another drink.

They don’t grow any arms until they are at least 75 years old.

At 10 years old, they are about the size of an ostrich egg

21 years, can be as high as a draft tree

75 years, possibly twelve feet

200 years, fifty feet tall and can salute you with three or four dozen arms

White waxy flowers appear about a day and a half. The green fruits ripen and burst open to reveal a bright red edible juicy pulp/fruit.It has been eaten throughout history and made into many delicious dishes.

Some brave animals actually live within the walls of these cacti.

Woodpeckers create caves within the wall of the cactus. Once they vacate, smaller birds move in.

The Elf owl, no larger than a sparrow also makes its home in the Saguaro.

Thank you for visiting my blog today.


Next blog: Part 2

San Xavier Mission

Desert Animals-insects

More Cacti and Plants






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Filed under New Mexico, Tucson Arizona

Our Dundee Date

We decided to go for a ride this afternoon and ended up in Dundee to buy some candles. The Swan Creek Company outlet store is located four blocks from Cabala’s. We passed the Beef Jerky Outlet Store too, but it appeared closed.

We sniffed the aromatic scents one by one as we cruised through three different areas in the the store. We smelled fruity, spiced, sweet, floral, outdoors, herbs, coffee, even a leather one, until our noses had had enough. We then headed into their basement to check out the many resale treasures and antique booths. They also have an upstairs, which we didn’t get to today.

After all that sniffing, we finally decided on the Black Spiced Rum candle along with an Orange Blossom & Vanilla one, they were on the BOGO rack. We also picked up a lovely bird candle, touched with the fragrance of Petals of Paradise, to lift the spirits of someone special who is feeling sad due to a death in the family.

All this shopping had worked up an appetite and we headed next door to a small pub called, “River’s Edge. Pizza, Pub & Grille” I can’t say all their food is good, (because every time I’ve been, I order the same thing) but, I can testify to the fabulousness (yes I’m allowed to make up words on my blog) of their Chicago style pizza, filled with green pepper, onion, black olives and pepperoni. It is truly the best I’ve had, and that includes the pizza’s I’ve eaten while in Chicago. The sauce is spicy and sweet and is to die for. River’s Edge is also known for their pulled pork, baby back ribs, and brisket. Next time, I swear I’m going to starve myself for a week and sample them all.

After our filling meal, we decided to walk a bit before heading back home. Directly behind the River’s Edge and Swan Creek is the River Raisin Dam, which includes a lovely path.


They built a wonderful gazebo in front of the water and placed a picnic table beneath. One might assume they did this so people could take a rest from their day and enjoy the beauty of the River Raisin, right? But then they ruined it by hanging up this sign- NO Loitering.

My husband and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the contradiction of the sign.


The path led us to the Old Mill Museum which is the white building you see in the photo above. Unfortunately, they were about to close as we approached. Maybe next time.


Ahhh, I can stand here without fear. It’s so refreshing. No loitering sign anywhere in this area by the Old Mill, the crisp clear beauty and sounds of the water are so dam amazing. Ah! (pun intended)

We’ll be back Dundee, Michigan. Love these day trip dates.

Think Spring!



Filed under Dundee, Michigan, Uncategorized

Jill Jack’s Birthday Bash

If you have ever seen Jill Jack perform, you are calling me a . . .

Lucky Duck

Lucky Duck







Sold Out

Sold Out







Jill Jack B-day Bash

Jill Jack’s B-day Bash






Jill Jack’s birthday bash last night at the Ark in Ann Arbor was absolutely the epitome of entertainment. The star-studded show included many of her gifted friends and her daughters. A young teen power house (Allison Albrecht-15) opened the show with three songs. She is amazing!

Bobby Streng a friend, sax player/composer joined Jill Jack on stage. His music, playing, is divine . . . I believe Jill’s exact words, after a quick apology to her husband in the front row, were, “It’s like having sex on stage.” Bobby is undeniably phenomenal.

She shared the spotlight with her awesome band, which includes a drummer, electric guitar, an accordion, tambourine, keyboards, and a bass player. Jill strummed her acoustic guitar for several songs, many written by her own hand.  Her band members are far from stagnate on stage. They sang, danced, swayed, and their facial expressions at moments were priceless. The entire evening was a pure merry-making good time for all, and at the unbelievable price of twenty bucks.

The Ark  that presents over 300 shows a year was filled to capacity with an all aged diverse crowd of around 400.  Everyone enjoyed  free birthday cake. The concert began at 8 p.m. We left after 11:30 when she was about to do her first encore. Jill Jack never disappoints, always leaving everything she has on that stage.

We’ve been to many shows at this venue, but we both agree this was one of the best.

Jill’s sense of humor, open honesty, caring, contributions to community that go beyond, and stage presence takes a person on a turbulent ride of emotions. She has you laughing, smiling, teary eyed, and it always ends with her taking you on this journey deep into her heart, soul and her music. I’m not sure how one can give so much of their self and not keel over on stage. Amazing!


Deciding where to eat before a show in Ann Arbor is always a challenge. There are numerous “good eats” restaurants and pubs covering many ethnic types of cuisine.

This night, our evening began with a taste of Ireland at the pub below, great Irish beers, tasty food, and ended with a fabulous concert.

And to the couple making out in the parking garage elevator-please at least wait until you get to your car. REALLY!


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Our first date night of 2016. Definitely the beginning of a very good year. Thank you Jill Jack and company.

For the names of every fabulous person that performed January 9th at the Ark and more about Jill Jack and her band – click here

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Wishing you all a fun-filled 2016



Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts, Jill Jack

A Christmas Gift Comes to Life from 2013

Boat Building Excellence with a Quick Photo Review and Update 

Several people have inquired about the impending birth of the Little Rascal, (the name Dave has given his latest watercraft project). If you are new to my blog, Little Rascal is a gorgeous full size boat that my brother-in-law is in the process of hand crafting piece by piece in his garage.

Dave has kept busy for the past two winters on building the Little Rascal. I’m excited to share with you his progress.

How it Began:  I’ve included these links to other articles I’ve written about Dave, the School, Canoe and a Dream Come True  is about how this unusual hobby started back in Dave’s childhood. Another post is My Boat building brother-in-law .


Boat plans in a tube

wooden boat plans

Our Families Wood Genius






Time Advances:

The Plans

The Runabout Rascal Plans

It Has Begun

It Has Begun

From This To...

From This To…












By the end of Winter last year 2014:


To This So Far







Present-winter 2015

Some fresh air

One of my siblings

Before the flip

Before the flip













After the flip

Celebrating the Flip








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The Inside


Excellence! No splinters here


The inside has been sanded to perfection even though no one will ever see these boards below the flooring . . . except Dave and now you. Truly masterful work.





The end product will be similar to this photo, only better because . . . Dave, you are amazing!

Rascal Boat

Runabout Rascal Boat Sample






I’m proud to show you Dave’s other watercraft masterpiece creations.


San jaun dory

Daves two Kayaks


Wabanaki Cedar Strip Canoe

Wabanaki Cedar Strip Canoe







Thanks for sharing your photos with us Dave.

Wishing Everyone a Fulfilling Christmas and a Healthy Joyous 2016

See ya next year!


P. S. I recently heard Dave is working on his own website. I’ll post the link when it goes live so can check in on his progress.




Filed under Wood Boat Building

Angels In The Snow!

Woman’s World Magazine, December 14, 2015

I am honored and humbled to have my article appear in this wonderful weekly magazine.


Whoo Hoo! Over 1.6 million readers…







Check out page 38 in this weeks edition of Woman’s World,  My Guardian Angel section. On the cover is an all time favorite, the famous Valerie Bertinelli and on the back is an advertisement featuring the sizzling hot Minions. Gotta love those guys!

Ho ho ho!

Ho ho ho!







Within these sixty pages is a whole bunch of great stuff. There is absolutely something for everyone; a weekly mystery, a romance,  a ton of healthy life changing tips, recipes, fun crafts, puzzles, a few jokes, and my favorite part is the price, $1.89 at most grocery store check outs.

Woman's World 2015

Woman’s World Article Dec 14 2015





In June 2015

I submitted the “Angels in the Snow” article to Woman’s World Magazine. To be honest, I’ve been so busy with the book that I had forgotten about sending it in.

I have always enjoyed reading the weekly feature My Guardian Angel, in Woman’s World and thought my snow angel experience might be a good fit. An email informed me that they had received my submission the next day. I hadn’t heard anything else until a few weeks ago. I came home to find a message on my answering machine stating that they were using  my story in their #50 December issue. Wow! This year! Most of the time the publication dates are in the far distant future.

When a writer mails their submissions, they never know when or even if they’ll hear back from the editors. If there is no word within six months, its assumed they couldn’t use your article, for whatever reason.

I had considered the inclusion of “Angels in the Snow” as a chapter in the book, This Sign Was Mine, under my pen name of Patti Rae Fletcher, but there wasn’t quite enough content.

Not everyone sees what I see, but more than the visual it’s the sensation(s) that consume me when or while I see things. The signs always come while I’m contemplating  or confused with certain life questions. The messages I receive never fail to bring me a consuming warmth, a feeling of love, and usually joyful tears. (And no it’s not hormonal…I promise!)

The magazine couldn’t use my photographs, probably due to space or quality of my photos, so you can be the first to see the originals here.

I’m so grateful for all of you who read my blog(s) regularly and have kept me writing. I truly feel blessed.

All the shares and your comments are encouraging, and appreciated more than you know. Thank You!

My snow angel

My angel






Choir of Angels

Choir of Angels






If you’re interested in learning more about my book, please sign up on the links above…one is for the Patti Rae Website and the other is for the books Facebook page.

Wishing all of you the very brightest of seasons!

Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy 2016.







Filed under Woman's World Magazine