Weekend update – Christmas kick-off…

November 30, 2013

Today is the Christmas Parade in Downtown Milford. The parade is organized by the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce (HVCC) and is one of the “Big 3” parades in Milford during the year. The other two are the Memorial Day Parade and the 4th Of July Parade.

I’ll be in the parade today as an honoree, having been named the HVCC Ambassador of the Year. That means riding in the back of a convertible, which will be a very chilly, albeit, at a parade-time temperature of about 30 degrees, still a heartwarming experience. The parade steps off at 10 am and winds through the downtown. Afterwards stick around in Milford and shop the local shops on Small Business Saturday. They have some great sales going on today.

santaSanta will arrive in Milford at the Christmas Parade to officially kick off the Christmas season (notwithstanding the fact that many stores had Christmas stuff on display before Halloween). Santa will be a busy guy with many personal appearances in the Milford area.

On Dec 5th the downtown merchants will host an open house with visits to Santa for the kids, strolling music and refreshments.  Santa will also be holding forth on Dec 7 and 15 at the Pettibone Creek Powerhouse on West Canal Street (north end of Central Park) for Pet Pictures with Santa. A donation of pet food to Community Sharing is all that’s required to get your pet’s picture taken with Santa either day. You’ll get the picture on thesanta-paws spot. Click here to view the poster for this event. Santa will also host Snacks with Santa out at Kensington Metropark at the Farm Center at 10 AM, noon and 2 PM on Dec 7 & 8. Tickets for that event are $10. Preregistration Required Call 810-227-8910 to order your tickets.

Speaking of pet pictures, the 2014 Pet Calendar, also sponsored by the Community Sharing Pet Pantry makes a great Christmas gift that will bring a smile to the face throughout the year. The calendar is only $10 and you can buy the calendar at several locations in Milford. Click here for the flyer with locations.

The gallery opening of the fourth annual Festival of Trees Holiday Artist Market, presented by HVCA’s The Art Shop, opens with a reception Friday, Dec. 7; it will start at 7 p.m. with the Kettle and Friends holiday concert running simultaneously at Huron Valley Council for the Arts, 205 W. Livingston Road in Highland. Tickets are $15; purchase them online at huronvalleyarts.org or in person at HVCA. Guests will have the chance to enjoy wine and appetizers as well as the concert’s holiday selections and get first crack at the holiday market’s wares. Click here for more information about the event and the market. The market will be open until 9 p.m. and during regular gallery hours through Saturday, Dec. 21. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the concert. Gallery hours for Festival of Trees Holiday Artist Market take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call HVCA at 248-889-8660.

HVCA Holiday Pops COncert posterOn December 13th the Michigan Philharmonic Orchestra comes to the area for a Holiday Pops concert at the Walled Lake Northern Center for Performing Arts. Click here for more on this event. General Admission tickets are $15 for this concert with starts at 7:30 PM.

As always, to stay up to date on all of the events in the area, check in often at www.movetomilford.com where the calendar of events is updated daily.

Small Business Saturday in Milford…

November 29, 2013

Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a relatively new named shopping day – Small Business Saturday. This Shop Small day was originally an American Express promotional idea that has taken on an identity of its own. The basic idea and thrust behind this can be summed up in another oft heard phrase – Shop local or there won’t be any local.

The danger to small local businesses has never been greater. The small retail shops that make up the Main Street stores of America are under tremendous pressure from both the big box stores and from the Internet. There is just no way for your local toy store or clothing store or shoe store to compete on price with the big box stores. Instead many emphasize that they have products that you just won’t find in the big box stores or they may have more selections of specific brands. They also provide much more personalized service and in most cases are closer and easier to get to than the big mall stores.

Milford has one of the few remaining small town downtown areas that is still full of useful stores – Main Street Signstores that sell things other than knick-knacks or antiques.  One can still shop in Milford for clothing and shoes, in addition to toys and jewelry and candy and furniture and more. Sure, we have some nice knick-knack stores, too; but the point is that the downtown still provides a good, diverse shopping experience. The same cannot be said of many of the small towns on this side of Michigan.

The big box stores most often came in and positioned themselves just outside of the towns and villages, most of the time between two or three. Once they took hold, local downtown areas withered and many gave way to the trend to turn the quaint old downtown buildings into antique stores or knick-knack boutiques. Milford was far enough away from the I-96 highway that the big box stores chose to congregate around to avoid some of that impact, but they still had and have an impact.

I think that the attractiveness of many of our restaurants also helps. When you have 2-3 destination restaurants (restaurants that people will drive for more than 5 miles to get to, because they are so good) it helps draw people to the downtown. They walk up and down the street, sometimes visiting the shops and sometimes just making note of shops that they want to come back and visit. It helps.

So this Saturday, Nov 30, after the Christmas parade at 10 AM, plan on staying in Milford for some santashopping. Many of the merchants will have special sales going for Small Business Saturday. Plan on coming back on December 5th when the local merchants will host a Christmas Open House, with strolling entertainment and refreshments provides by the stores. Bring the kids, because Santa will be here too. Get in the spirit of Christmas in small town America – It’s a wonderful life!

Thanks to you, my readers….

November 28, 2013

I was looking at quotes earlier this morning about giving thanks and having gratitude. A couple stood out

Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.  – G.B. Stern

There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed.  If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.  – Robert Brault

I suspect that too many, like me, forget to express the thanks that we might feel towards the people who deserve to be thanked for something that they have done to make our lives better.  It could be a little thing like holding a door open for someone or stepping aside to let them pass, because they are in a hurry. It could be much bigger things, like visiting a sick friend in the hospital or taking a meal to a shut in. There are so many opportunities in life to say “Thanks” to someone.

I wanted to take the opportunity today, on our national holiday of thanks giving to say thanks to my readers, the people who follow this blog and who occasionally send me comments or tell me that they like it when I see them.  People who write blog posts usually enjoy the act of writing, but they also hope that someone else enjoys reading it, too. So, thank you for taking the time to read what I’ve had to say over the past year. I hope that you’ll continue to follow my blog and let me know what you think when I see you or via messages.

I also wanted to encourage you to give voice to your gratitude on this day and every day. It doesn’t  take a lot of time or effort to say “thank you” to someone for whatever kindness they have extended to you. You’ll feel better about it and they will, too.

Finally, I stumbled across a little saying that sums up best why expressing gratitude can make one feel so good. It comes from the best place –

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. – Anonymous

Have a great Thanksgiving and make the giving of thanks to others a part of your day every day.

The ACA – Beware of false knowledge…

November 26, 2013

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. – George Bernard Shaw.

This Shaw quote is certainly one that can easily be applied to the raging babble that is all around us about the Affordable Care Act (aka. Obamacare). There is much false knowledge about the ACA and lots of misleading statements being thrown out by politicians as sound bites for the evening news. It can seem at times that everyone has an opinion about it, but very few have any real knowledge of the act or how to implementation the requirements. What’s an individual or small business person to do?

Debbie Head ShotThat’s where companies like HD4 Revenue, Inc. come into play. HD4 has people like Debbie Stroup whom they have trained, licensed and certified as experts on the new health care law so that they can help individuals and small business owners navigate through the process of finding the best available health care insurance option to meet their needs and the requirements of the ACA. I’ve posted a flyer that Debbie uses to help explain what she does on my Move to Milford web site. To view the flyer click here. Debbie is quick to explain that she’s not there to debate the law, just to help you implement the requirements of the law. That is your first indication that you are dealing with a professional who is focused upon the task at hand and not about arguing the merits of the law.

So, how are you reacting to the requirements of the new law? If all that you’re listening to are the rants on some radio shows or just listening to the sound bites that various politicos put out on the nightly news to try to gain attention; then, you’re mainly hearing false knowledge – opinions masquerading as knowledge or worse. Most of the people making all of that noise have political agendas that are arrayed against the ACA ever being successful. They have become obsessed with stopping it; and, so another saying comes to mind –

Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer. – Norman Mailer

I note almost every time that I hear one of the negative sound bites that there is seldom a viable alternative put forth, just vitriol about the law that many of the same politicians voted for when it passed. So, there it is. It’s not going to go away. It’s the law and you must do something about it by the end of the first quarter of next year.

If you have exhausted your negative energy or just want to clear away the veil of ignorance about this law and you would like to move forward with implementing the inevitable for yourself or your business; give Debbie a call at 248-227-0347 or email her at Debbie@hd4revenue.com. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll finally be talking to someone who has real knowledge about the requirements and the options that you have. No sound bites there, just knowledgeable and calm advice that you can use to move on with your life. Call Debbie today – you’ll sleep better tonight.

By the way; if you are a health care provider and need help understanding the requirements of theDonna Craig head shot new law in your practice, there’s help for you with that, too. Many health care professionals, especially those in small private or partnership practices may not yet understand what the requirements of this law are for their practice.

Donna Craig of the Health Law Center, PLC. Donna is a Registered Nurse and a Lawyer and focuses exclusively on helping healthcare professionals understand their responsibilities under the ACA and other health care laws. You can email Donna at donna@healthlawcenterplc.com or call one the offices in Oakland County at 248-858-9955 or in Livingston County at 517-552-8850. You won’t find a better source of advice and counsel about the new law and your responsibilities under it. See Donna’s profile on Linked In.

So now you know at least two people who can give you good, professional advice about the ACA and how it effects you. If you want to debate the law, go to the barber shop or coffe house; however, if you’ve finally realized that you need to implement the law for yourself or your business, call one of these ladies. You’ll be glad that you did.

Community Sharing Pet Calendar

November 23, 2013

My dogs Sadie and Skippy are in the Community Sharing Pet Calendar again this year – they are the October pets, with the picture you see below. Obviously I enjoy “voicing” them, too.

Skippy and Sadie for calendar

The idea of a pet calendar is cute and I’m happy to help out by putting my dogs into it. The really great thing about this is that all of the funds raised by selling the calendar go to support the Community Sharing Pet Pantry.  This Pet Pantry is the only one of its kind in Michigan and provides pet food for over 400 pets in the area that would otherwise have little to eat. There are lots of very good programs for providing food for needy families, but only this program (at least locally) for also providing food for the pets of those families.

The recent economic downturn was particularly hard on family pets. There were quite a few reported incidents of family moving out of foreclosed homes and leaving pets behind. As is should have been, most of the focus of news stories was about the hardships on the families and children when parents lost jobs and were forced to seek help. Very little was reported about the pets that those families had when hardship struck.

Many family pets ended up in shelters, abandoned by their owners. Both of my dogs were rescues during the Great Recession. You never get the background stories on them, so it’s hard to tell why they were given up, but both are such good dogs that it had to be painful for the families to part with them.  At least it worked out well for the dogs and we got two great furry companions out of it all.

Community Sharing logoCommunity Sharing is a local non-profit charitable organization with the mission – To provide food, clothing, educational and emergency financial assistance to those in need while respecting their dignity and fostering their independence. Community sharing has a number of programs to make sure that energy is not shut off during the winter months, that people and their pets have food, that people have clothes to wear and that they get the traiign and advice that they need to become self-sufficient. To learn more about Community Sharing and how you can help with the program overall or the Pet Pantry in particular go to http://www.community-sharing.org/1/203/index.asp

Community Sharing is a 100% volunteer organization, so all of your donations go right into the deliverables for the program and not into administration or to pay fund-raisers. The calendars can be purchased at these Milford businesses: Veterinary Care Specialists, the Digital Document Store, Main Street Art, Huron Valley State Bank, Huron Valley Furniture, and Fitz Squared. Calendars are $10 apiece and make great Christmas stocking stuffers.

The sun is still shining…

November 22, 2013

“The day is cold and dark and dreary…Be still, sad heart!…Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.” – From Longfellow’s “Rainy Day” poem.

It’s one of those dreary and rainy days today in Michigan. Probably the worst aspect of the winters in Michigan is the cloud cover that seems to block out the sun for so long during the dead of winter. Every year we see stories in the paper and on the news about ways to get more sunlight, albeit artificial sunlight, during the winter in order to fight the winter blues.

I suspect that the real secret is to find a mental way to break through the clouds, like an airplanesun behind cloud does, even in winter, and see the sun on the other side. That can be true year around for people who let life’s little travails hang a cloud over their days. Sometimes it can be harder than others to fight through the clouds and get to the sun on the other side; but, as long as you have faith that it is still there, shining away, and keep trying to find that bright spot in your life, you’ll get through the darkness and see the sun on the other side.

For some the description of the darkness is not clouds but more like a dark tunnel. Pessimists will try to convince you that the light you see at the end of the tunnel is just a train headed your way and ready to smash you down again. Optimists may see the train too; but they will say, “Great now we don’t have to walk out of the tunnel. We can ride.”

So, whether you see the darkness that can descend from time to time as clouds or as a tunnel; just never forget that on the other side of the clouds and at the end of the tunnel , the sun is till shining. You just need to make it your goal to get above the clouds or to the end of the tunnel as fast as you can; so that you can see the sun. You’ll be surprised how fast things lighten up, once you fix your mind on the right goal. The sun (or Son if that fits better for you) never abandoned you; you just need to find your way back to it (or Him).  Have a blessed and sunny day!

Things to do, things to do…

November 20, 2013

There are lots of things to do in the Milford-Highland areas over the next few weeks as we move into the Christmas Holiday season. Here’s a sample of the upcoming events –

Nov 21 –    Milford Historical Society General Membership Meeting – At the Milford United Methodist Church starting at 6:30 pm. Speaker. This is our favorite Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner. The MHS Board will be supplying the turkeys. Members are asked to bring a side dish , a salad or a dessert to share. Guests are welcome and should bring your own place settings, utensils and drinks. Our guest speaker will be retired Post Master Michael Schragg speaking on antique postal memorabilia. Mike brings a trailer full of antique postal items for us to learn about and I think you will truly enjoy this talk.

Nov 21 – The Big Reveal in Downtown Milford – 6 pm – Kids are welcome to help tear down the wrapping paper on the store windows of Milford’s downtown stores to reveal the festive holiday window decorations put up by the local merchants.

Nov 30 – Gobbler Gallop – 1 mile fun run at 8:00 am and 4 mile run at 8:30 am. The courses will wind around the streets and trails of the Milford area, starting and ending on Main St. All proceeds go directly to the athletic programs for Huron Valley Schools. Register online at www.gobblergallop.com.

Nov 30 – The Christmas Parade in downtown Milford – 10 AM – Bands, floats and dignitaries ride in this annual parade to kick off the Christmas season. Santa will be in the parade, too.

Dec 5 –  Milford Business Association Christmas Open House – Get in the spirit of the eventsseason. Enjoy the hospitality of the downtown merchants, the strolling entertainment and the special promotions and refreshments. Santa arrives at 6:00 PM.

Dec 7- Holiday Concert with Kettle & Friends – doors open at 6:30 pm – part of the Kettle Concert series presented by the Huron Valley Council for the Arts. Performance at the HVCA building at  205 West Livingston Road,  Highland, MI. 48357 – Tickets $15 at the door. Advanced tickets available at Milford Music, Milford Feed, Hartland Flowers and at the HVCA Gallery.

Dec 13 – Holiday Pops Concert at 7:30 pm – The Huron Valley Council for the Arts presents the Michigan Philharmonic with Music Director and Conductor Nan Washburn at Walled Lake Northern High School’s Center for the Performing Arts 6700 Bogie Lake Rd, Commerce, MI. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $30 for Conductors Circle seating and $10 for youth. Tickets available at the HVCA.

For all of the events and activities that I could find to do locally, go to my Web site – www.movetomilford.com. I may not find everything that’s going on locally, but I try to.


Go Vampire Hunting in Your Home…

November 18, 2013

Vampires and vampire shows on TV and in the movies are still very popular; however, you should be aware that there are vampires in your home that you need to locate and kill. In the movies and on TV the vampires suck the blood of their victims by biting into the veins in their necks. In your home the vampires suck the power out of the circuits in your home. The power vampires in your home are the result of devices that never fully turn off. They are in stand-by mode, ready to come back completely on at the click of the remote. In fact it was the advent of the remote control that necessitated that the device always be partially on and ready to respond to the remote.

vampireBoth kinds of vampires are most often seen at night. The easiest way to go vampire hunting in your home, wait until dark and then turn out the lights and walk around. I think you’ll be surprised at the eerie little glows that you see in the night – those are your vampires. Those are the little standby lights on your TV or your printers or your computers or any number of other items in your house. As you walk from room to room in the dark, count the number of little glowing lights that you see. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at all of the vampire activity that is going on. You can also just go around picking up all of those little power bricks that come with almost every new device and which you leave plugged in. If they are warm that is heat from the power that they are drawing, even if the device isn’t turned on.

Now some of you may be saying that the use of the term vampire is too dramatic for such a small amount of power waste by each device. So, maybe you’d prefer the term “ticks”. Each little tick draws just a little blood. But imagine instead of one little tick there are tens of them, all sucking at once. According to one study – The average US household has a total of 50 watts of standby power going all the time. That’s 440kWh per annum per house hold or about 5% of the total consumption for that household. Across the 100+ Million homes in the US that represents 5 GW of wasted power.

If you’ve never thought about all of the things in your home that might be sucking down power when you thought they were turned off, read this government report –  http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-table.html.  I’ll bet there are some surprises on this rather extensive list of home items that draw standby power.

It turns out that it is probably impossible to get rid of all of the standby vampires, since some of that energy is going to maintain internal clocks that need to be kept current or they would have to be reset every time that you wanted to use the appliance or gadget. Many of the little energy suckers can be completely turned off only by unplugging them or putting them on a power strip that can be turned off. Ironically, many of those same power strips have a glowing (energy consuming) little light in the on-off switch, so that you can see them in the dark. There are many things that you can do to rid your home of most of your vampires. Here is a good video by Kansas City Power and Light on some suggestions to reduce your power losses – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJCSjsrE8ZM

So, unless you are comfortable sharing your home with vampires (or ticks) wander through tonight and see how many of the little power-suckers you have in your house. Happy vampire hunting!

Bits and pieces from the weekend…

November 17, 2013

My wife and I tried the new Smoke Street restaurant in Friday night. It seems to be off to a great start, as it was packed by 6:30 that night. The food was great and the atmosphere better that many places locally and quieter, too. You could actually carry on a conversation without having to shout at the other person to be heard. We certainly appreciate that. Obviously one visit isn’t enough to form a real strong opinion, but that one visit convinced us that we’ll need to go back and try more of the menu. We met manager/owner Greg Mitchell while we were there and he indicted that he is very happy with how things have gone during opening week and the reception that the local restaurant crowd has given this new place. Milford needed a good BBQ place and now it has one. This is sure to become another destination restaurant for Milford. Click here to view their menu.

We went out to the Livingston County Animal Shelter on Saturday to take one of the new Pet Calendars to them. We adopted our little dog Skippy from there and wanted to share his appearance in the Calendar (he and our other dog, Sadie, are the October dogs in the calendar. We are fortunate in this area to have Michigan’s only Pet Food Pantry for people who just can’t afford pet food anymore. The Pet Pantry is part of the Community Sharing food pantry service for needy families in this area. If you haven’t purchased your Pet Calendar yet, you need to go find one. They are only $10 and all of the proceeds go to support the Pet Pantry. Calendars are on sale a various retail stores around the area and at the Digital Document Store. They make great Christmas gifts that will bring joy the whole year. Community Sharing is much more than just a food service for people and pets. To read about the full spectrum of services that they offer, click here.

On our way back from the Livingston County Shelter we noticed that  new store has opened in Highland Station – Odds and Ins. This is a resale and consignment shop and has some really interesting stuff. They are having a Ladies Night Out on Wednesday, Nov 20, from 5 – 9 PM. If you bring a can of food to donate you will receive 10% off any purchase. Kathy Mika is the owner. The shop is located right on Milford Rd at 144 S. Milford Rd. There is parking in the rear and to the side. They have some real quality stuff on consignment there and you’re sure to want to come back often to see what’s there. Kathy told me that they turn over the merchandise quite rapidly, so there is always something new.

Yesterday was the Fall Tea at the Mary Jackson house, sponsored and put on by the Milford Historical Society. The Tea was a great success and sold out two weeks ago. The Milford Historical Society inherited the house when Mary Jackson, an actress in movies and TV and a lifelong Milfordite passed away. Mary played one of the Baldwin sisters in the TV series Walton’s Mountain and was in many movies, including Airport. Mary was born and raised in the Milford area and went to school in the Milford schools. She bought her early childhood home on Canal Street  in Milford and used to come back every summer to renew old acquaintances. The home is kept pretty much as Mary left it and is used by the Historical Society for meetings and special events.

Today is the Hunter’s Ball at Colasanti’s in Highland. This is an annual charity fund raising event that is held to give the ladies a shopping event to go to while the men are away at deer camp. Funds raised go to help women who can’t afford mammograms pay for that service. The program is administered through The Botsford Foundation. Click here to view the event poster.

As usual, there are lots of things to do in the Milford area this month and next. To keep up with all the events that are going on in the area be sure to check in regularly at www.movetomilford.com . There is a poster window there with as many of the event posters as I can find. It is available also formatted as a mobile site for smartphone users.


Buyers, don’t leave home without one…

November 16, 2013

Realtors® would always prefer that you let them do the searching for you and then have them show you each house that you like. That really doesn’t happen in real life. Buyers today are more independent and many seem to enjoy driving around to see what they can find in areas that they may like. They are also much more into technology, especially mobile apps on their smartphones.

I understand that and so I always advise buyers that I work with to download one of the great smartphone apps that exist for buyers. You can find these at the Apple App Store or at your Android App Store. The two that I recommend are from Real Estate One and from Realtor.com (search on Real Estate One or Realtor at either store). If you live in Michigan, especially in the Detroit Metro area you really can’t beat the Real Estate One mobile app. If you live anywhere in the United States (including Michigan) the Realtor.com app will work for you and is just as good. The Real Estate One app only works for Michigan-based properties.

smartphonesThe great thing about both of these apps is that they are location sensitive. They are GPS enabled, so they know where you are when you turn them on. They both have very good, very up-to-date data bases of the homes that are for sale anywhere in the country. Unlike some apps from national real estate oriented sites, both of these apps are kept up-to-date. The databases for both are updated multiple times during the day. That means that you won’t waste your time calling on a house that was sold last week or last month, like you can with those big national sites.

As you drive around both apps will interactively show you on a map display what homes are for sale all around you. You can set the range of the display, so that you only see homes within a mile or within 5 miles (or more). Both give you a very cursory display initially – you know the format from other location-based apps- a little pin with a street address and the price. Touch on the pin and the information expands to show you more, including a picture of the property. Touch again and you can see the entire listing. It’s sweet. All the stuff you need to know to decide whether or not to head over to that address to take a look at the house from the street.

Both apps will also let you do searches that are criteria based rather than location based – things like price, number of bedrooms and more.  The Realtor app has a nice, unique feature that lets you search within a school district, if you have your heart set on a particular district. You’ll have to play around with both apps to see all of the search options, but both are extensive and both put you in charge of the data.

Once you have enough information available from either app and maybe have done a drive-by, you can call and set up an appointment to go see the  listing. And, if you’re in the Southeast Michigan area, you can set the Real Estate One app up with me as your preferred agent and then it will make it easy for you to call me when you want to see a house. I like that part. These are apps that any serious house hunter should have on their phone. Don’t leave home without one.

Here’s a link to a video about the Real Estate One app.