Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious … Whatever


Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious …

You don’t have to be able to spell it to sing it … and trust me when I say, you’ll be singing it into the next day when you see Mary Poppins fly over the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre stage in this wonderful new production for all ages. Song and dance, delight and drama— you’ll walk away asking yourself, what does this story mean to me? The sound of familiar melodies and tapping of feet will keep you on your toes, from the moment the world’s favorite nanny arrives with her carpetbag and umbrella.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve never been much into musicals but I took a chance on Mary Poppins as a way to spend a fun night out on the town with my two teenagers and tween. Each had only seen the movie, never read the book and didn’t really seem overly enthused about putting their iPhones down long enough to pay attention to a musical about a glorified, flying babysitter. But they were pleasantly surprised.

Act One opens with in the London home of the affluent Mr. and Mrs. Banks who are searching for a new nanny as their busy lives are consumed with work and social parties. Mr. Banks, played beautifully by Matt Ablan, is focused on precision and order, making lots of money and having nothing to do with any of the domestic responsibilities of family while Mrs. Banks, Chelsea Herrema, is a noticebly unhappy wife, under-valued by her husband and unable to pursue her own interests in acting.

The magical Mary Poppins, Alyssa Bauer, enters the Banks home unexpectedly and without invitation to take over the care of their young son and daughter, played perfectly by School of Theatre Arts students, Abbie Westers and Alex Sullivan.

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

As the story plays out, Mary Poppins introduces the Banks children to the beauty of experiencing simple things like walking in the park, fraternizing with chimney Sweeps, cleaning up messy kitchens and even showing appreciation to the bag lady who takes care of the birds. As the children become more engaged toward the end of the act, they enjoy a scene with crazy, dancing friends. In the meantime, Mr. Banks, a banker, loses an opportunity by choosing to loan money to a man of character rather than a man with a good idea who didn’t care about the people he would hire. He ends the Act uncertain about his job security.

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly
Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Favorite Scene. Act 1: Scene 9 Mrs. Corry’s features colorful costume, the popular song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, dancing and wildness. The entire audience got into it and there wasn’t one person that wasn’t smiling. 

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Other recognizable songs in Act 1 include: Practically Perfect, All My Own Walk (Chim Chim) Jolly Holiday, Let’s Hope She Will Stay, Being Mrs. Banks, Winds Do Change, A Spoonful of Sugar, Precision and Order, A Man Has Dreams, Feed the Birds, Supercalifragilisicexpialidocious, The Winds May Blow and Playing the Game.

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Act Two: The stress of the impending job loss has Mr. and Mrs. Banks holding on to each other for support while the children continue to experience simple pleasures like flying kites. Young Michael had always wanted to learn how to fly a kite but his father was always too busy to teach him. He learns how to fly one in scene 2, 3 and 4. This leads into the introduction of Miss Andrews, the nanny who had raised Mr. Banks. Miss Andrew is far more about Brimstone and Treacle than Poppins’ approach with Spoonful of Sugar. The entire family is turned upside down. This leads into The Rooftops of London scene where Poppins disappears.

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Photos by Bryan Esler for stellafly

Best scene: Scene 8 & 9 The Rooftops of London features the Chimney Sweeps singing and tapping to the song Step in Time. The Sweep, Bert, played by William Schutte, serves as the narrator through the play. The talent in this scene was outstanding.

Mary Poppins returns once again flying in with her magic umbrella. She has a run in with Miss Andrew, and finds herself back at the helm with the Banks family. At the same time, Mr. Banks meets with his boss, Admiral Bloom, played by Steve Place, to learn that he had invested in the right man and his choice had made them a ton of money!

As the old saying goes, all’s well that ends well. Mary Poppins recognizes that her work was complete and Mr. and Mrs. Banks reorganize their priorities to focus on family.

Final thoughts: This production was incredible. Standing ovation kind of incredible. It was abundantly clear that Director Penelope Notter had tons of fun putting it together with over two hours of action that entertained seniors, teenagers, all the way to babies. Everyone in the audience was engaged in this production. It made me realize how completely awesome it is to have this great venue in our little city. Grand Rapids Civic Theatre will have the stage set for this charming and exciting production through December 14. Tickets are already in limited supply so be run, don’t walk to to get yours now!


Spoonlickers Stands Apart from FroYo Crowd with its Unique Made-from-Scratch Toppings


GRAND RAPIDS – You walk into any frozen yogurt or ice cream shop anywhere and the toppings are all the same: prepackaged, processed, canned or bulk-purchased items full of additives and preservatives.

Spoonlickers Handcrafted Frozen Yogurt dares to be different.

At each of their three locations, co-owners and co-founders Dianna and David Darling insist upon fresh-baked, scratch-made and locally sourced toppings that customers won’t find anywhere else. It’s all part of the farm-to-table – or, perhaps, kitchen-to-spoon – concept the Darlings have brought to frozen desserts.

“It goes right from here to there – kitchen to spoon,” baker Alecia Fanning said of the Spoonlickers’ uncompromising approach to scratch-made toppings using the freshest ingredients. “A lot of people are a lot more conscious of it. I think people are more willing to pay a little extra for that if it’s homemade stuff, rather than if it was made in a factory or mass produced or came from a machine.

“I think the love goes into it,” she added. “They can tell it’s a much better product.”




It’s all about quality at Spoonlickers, with its signature chocolate ganache, butterscotch, homemade granola, scratch-made brownies, cookies, pumpkin pie, whoopie pies, cinnamon streusel crumble and marshmallow squares. It grinds the peanuts for its peanut-butter sauce. It toasts its own coconut.

No one in the industry comes close to that sort of freshness.

“A lot of people don’t do it, so, for us, it’s especially unique, just knowing a lot of what us bakers make is from scratch,” said Grace Tuttle, a junior supervisor at Spoonlickers who preceded Fanning as baker. “I think it is important to a lot of people. There is a difference in quality a lot of the time.

“It’s just about knowing that you’re eating something homemade or local products, it’s just different than getting it from wherever,” she said. “I’ve been to several of the frozen yogurt stores. I think when you go around and sample them, you can really tell the difference. I can immediately tell when I try other places that it’s a dry powder mixed with water.

“It’s a lot better here.”


The proof is in the pantry and refrigerator at Spoonlickers’ flagship Eastown store at 1551 Wealthy St. in Grand Rapids. Top-shelf ingredients, such as couverture chocolate and Nielsen Massey vanilla, go into making ganache and buttercream, respectively. Farm-fresh eggs, King flour milled in Lowell and Meijer brown sugar are examples of locally sourced items Spoonlickers’ baking staff uses.

All of the milk and cream used in production of its soft-serve frozen yogurt and baked goods comes from southwestern Michigan dairy farms, which results in a freshness its customers truly can taste.

No compromises. No cutting corners. Period.

“Everything we can buy locally, we do,” David Darling said. “All of the milk, all of the dairy for our yogurts and gelatos, it comes from southwest Michigan. People love the fact that we toast our own coconut.

“We have never wavered. The reason we do this is, because if we don’t, nobody else will,” he said. “It makes us different. It’s so much better because we control what’s going in (these toppings).”

For example, Spoonlickers uses only couverture chocolate for its ganache.

It has a higher percentage of cocoa butter than regular chocolate. Sure, it costs more, but the difference is quality is worth it.

“It’s the reason our ganache is as good as it is. We don’t cut any costs when it comes to the quality of ingredients,” David Darling insisted.

The objective is using the fewest ingredients of the highest quality to achieve unprecedented results.

It requires keeping a close watch on inventory, since many of the ingredients have a shorter shelf life than other packaged and processed FroYo and ice cream toppings at national chain stores.

The staff gets its fresh fruits, whenever possible, from Grand Rapids Downtown Market or Fulton Street Farmers Market.

“Sixty-five percent of what’s kept on the shelf is raw ingredient,” David Darling estimated.

The commitment to using the freshest and highest-quality ingredients is a reflection of what’s happening in the farm-to-table dining movement, as well as the craft beer and independently distilled spirits industries.

Earlier this year, the Darlings posted an item on the company website at that challenged the status quo when it comes to sacrificing freshness and quality for inferior mass-produced toppings. It sparked a profound dialogue and more than a thousand responses.

“I’m not sure all of our customers understand what we do and why we do it, but a lot of them do,” David Darling said. “It’s why they tell us, ‘You have to do our wedding, our children’s birthday parties and other events.’

“It really matters to people.”

It is a constant source of pride for the Spoonlickers’ kitchen staff.

Fanning, 27, a recent graduate of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College, uses her own hands to make and bake everything from puppy chow to pie crusts.

“It definitely adds a lot more enjoyment to what you do, especially because they don’t cut any corners here. They’re using real ingredients, like real butter, not shortening. That makes it a lot more enjoyable,” she said.

“You just make sure it’s made right.”

Tuttle, 21, of Kentwood, said the same commitment goes into making larger cakes, which can be ordered for special occasions or purchased from the freezers located in all three Spoonlickers’ stores.




“I don’t know of any other frozen yogurt places that make homemade cakes. We make the batter, we freeze the yogurt, mold it all together, make our own frosting, make our own chocolate ganache for it, and decorate it all by hand,” said Tuttle, who’s pursuing a degree in food and beverage management at Grand Valley State University. ‘That takes a lot of time. There are a lot of local homemade products going into that cake.

“I think that’s pretty unique. I don’t know of other ice cream places that bake their own homemade cookies or homemade brownies,” she added. “I don’t know of anyone else that quite does that.”

David Darling refers to Fanning and Tuttle as the “rock stars” of the operation.

Both says they’re delighted to be part of a local business that does things the right way for the right reasons.

“I think it’s something we should talk about a lot more,” Tuttle said. “People hear ‘homemade’ and think that’s cool, but a lot of them don’t realize that what we’re actually making … they’re eating. That’s something really unique. I don’t know of any other frozen yogurt places or ice cream places that do that.”

Community leader Don Tack to receive Guiding Light Mission’s inaugural Good Samaritan Award

BY: Sparkly Stellafly
PHOTOS: Dianne Carroll Burdick

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.  ~ Proverbs 19:17

It is often said that actions speak louder than words.

In 1991, a Pastor and college professor by the name of Don Tack became frustrated by the lack of emphasis on relationships with poor people in Grand Rapids.

He didn’t just talk about it, though. He took action.

And while Don Tack has never done anything for accolades, he will be recognized for his tremendous community efforts when he receives Guiding Light Mission’s inaugural Good Samaritan Award at their Annual Banquet on October 9, 2014 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

One of his first actions was developing a training course for lay people, a combination of both classroom and field work that would teach them Biblical foundations for helping the poor. Tack offered the course for $45, and after a couple weeks of promoting it, registration was only at four people. With the help of Grand Rapids Press religion writer Ed Golder who wrote a compelling story about what Tack was attempting to do, registration quickly rose to 43 people for the first class in May of 1991.

At the end of the semester, Tack challenged members of the class to complete a weekend “field assignment” and spend a weekend on the street, living as if they were homeless. They could bear no evidence that they were not homeless, and would sleep in shelters, eat food at the missions and fully experience what the poor community was living on a daily basis. Tack’s class project turned into a front page story in the Grand Rapids Press and greatly helped elevate his cause in the community. This effort was the beginning of what is now known as Servants Center, an organization started by Tack as a result of his concern about the drift of churches away from having direct relationships with the poor.




Servants Center Opens its Doors
During the time that Tack and his class spent in their field work, the class was split into two groups. One stayed at Mel Trotter and the other at Guiding Light Mission. Tack had heard talk of disparaging conditions at Guiding Light Mission and elected to stay there to see it firsthand. Sadly, the talk was true—from urine on the floor to violence between those staying there, to abusive treatment by the staff.

Witnessing this made him even more determined to help this population to be treated as humanely as possible. He wanted to make sure they had appropriate housing and people around them who made them feel loved. Don Tack officially opened Servants Center in 1993 for the purpose of enhancing the reputation of Christ among the poor and homeless by providing a high quality relationship-based street outreach to mentally ill poor and homeless in Grand Rapids.

With the help of a husband and wife who knew of Tack’s work, he was able to purchase the first rooming house for clients of Servants Center. The house, located on Coit NE, served as a model for churches to use in aiding the homeless. As Tack continued to expand his ministry, the media paid attention, with his work being included in papers from Detroit to Rotterdam, Holland.

In 1996 the Servant’s Center became a 501(c)3, and eventually partnered with Dwelling Place to handle the housing. The staff of Servants Center began to focus on taking people into Social Security to apply for benefits. Then, they took it one step further and began taking guardianship of these individuals, which gave them the ability to fill out their paperwork and help with applications for government benefits. Word spread of their work, and they began to receive more requests for guardians.

As Servants Center matured, the organization began to focus on one exclusive population, poor and homeless individuals suffering from neurological diseases such as schizophrenia. Some of these individuals had been living on the streets for 20 or more years without their medication. The work with this population was much more labor intensive and often resulted in less success, but Tack felt it was the most necessary for this vulnerable population.


Servants Center Continues On
In 2000, Servants Center received a tremendous boost to their efforts when they were awarded a grant for $100,000. This allowed them to care for 75 people and hire staff including an account manager and a social worker. Clients were staying in adult foster care homes, some in their own apartments, and there was a small percentage that could not be placed because of their backgrounds. These individuals stayed at places including the YMCA, Heartside Manor, and the Morton House—all of which have ceased to exist. But this ministry continues their work and is continuing to find housing solutions in addition to finding employment, helping to manage bills and finances, and working with churches to guide them on helping this population. They host events including Sunday messages, training seminars, and consulting services.

Don Tack retired three years ago and Servants Center continues the work he began. The organization now has a staff of four who manage between 40-50 clients each, continuing their street patrols and receiving an average of one request per day for their services. Tack has continued his ministry through Poverty Ministry Consulting, which serves to help “teach and equip churches to develop Biblical outreach to poor people in any setting—urban, suburban and rural.”

We can all honor Don Tack’s efforts by taking a moment to reflect on the gifts we have been given and look at how we can reach out to help those who need it most. Let’s all follow his example by taking action when we see needs that are unmet.

The Boatwright – a play by Bo Wilson


The Boatwright. Only two actors and the entire story takes place in the garage around a boat. A really good story.” Robert Wilcox, while photographing dress rehearsal.

With over 38 plays under his belt, professional award winning playwright, Bo Wilson, is no novice to the stage. His current play, The Boatwright, is making its premier debut for the first time on any stage in Grand Rapids at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Starting this evening, Sept. 12, 2014, this new play arrives in our community just in time for the ArtPrize kick off. Although this play is not considered an ArtPrize entry, it’s another wonderful new addition to the art world and will be showcased on the Civic Theatre’s stage.

The Boatwright is a 2 person, 3 character play about a widowed retired police officer, Ben, his neighbor’s son, Jaime, and a boat that they set out to build together. All three characters create an unexpected bond all while discovering the trials and tribulations of building a boat fit to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.




“At some point in everyone’s life we all want a boat, we all are looking for a way to get away,” according to Wilson. “At the middle point of many people’s lives they feel compelled to push themselves, some run and some take up boating.” says Bo.

Although I don’t consider myself quite middle aged yet, I can certainly relate to reaching a point in my life and asking, is this all that I am ever going to do?  Is this the life I want to be leading? About two years ago I took up running. Like the main character, Ben, in the play, I felt the need to push myself, look at the world from another vantage point.

Wilson purposefully made his characters generationally different instead of portraying them as peers because he felt they’d be more interesting to the audience. He wanted to create the dynamic between an older, middle class personality and a younger, technology driven young man for an interesting contrast. Wilson says,“ The play is funny but not a comedy.” The audience is sure to see many humorous nods at technology and how its effect shows up in these two characters from different generations.


The third character of the play is a boat. Five different boats were designed and created for Civics’ production of The Boatwright. Nancy Brozek, Civic Theatre’s Director of Development and Community Relations said’ “The boat is an interesting anchoring point between the two men.”

While Wilson’s own experiences with boating does not go much beyond tooling around once on a 10ft sea snark of his own and reading Treasure Island. He too can relate well to the character relationship dynamic because his own son Zack James, was 15 when Wilson wrote the play.

Civic Theater is known for amazing 60 plus person casts staring in larger than life exuberant musicals and Bruce Tinker, the executive and artistic director, hopes to bring another flavor to the stage with this two person cast play. The same amount of researching went into their decision to bring Mary Poppins and South Pacific to the stage.  This year’s dedication to a terrific season,

Grand Rapids has been wowed with many well-known musicals and plays and the Civic Theatre hopes that its community continues to trust us to bring less known, but just as talented art to the stage that will entertain them.”, says TinkerWilson’s goal is to have his audience enjoy the characters, Ben and Jamie, because he wrote them to characters that might be a guy you know.

For upcoming performances: The Boatwright runs now through September 25th.
For tickets:

Hungerford Nichols Announces Two New Shareholders


Photos Bryan Esler

Last week, we joined our friends, Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors, at the Blue Water Grill to celebrate the election of Adriane Schrauben and Doug Schmitt to the position of Shareholder.


Both Adriane Schrauben and Doug Schmitt began their accounting careers with Hungerford Nichols and have advanced within the firm. “The addition of Adriane and Doug aligns well with our mission, vision and values and we are excited to have them as part of the leadership team.” says Rick Chrisman, CPA, MST, Managing Shareholder of the firm. “Our firm continues to grow as a result of our constant focus on preparing our next generation of leaders for the future. We believe that growth creates opportunities for all and this is reflected within our succession plan.”






Adriane specializes in the area of School District Auditing as well as heading up the Estate and Trust group within the firm. With over fourteen years in public accounting, she provides her clients with services including audit of financial statements, preparation of individual and trust tax returns and tax planning. Adriane is the third female Shareholder in the firm.


Shareholder Jerry Nichols shares, “Although her technical expertise is one of her strong suits, Adriane is successful in her ability to build long-term relationships with the people she serves. She is able to develop these relationships by focusing on solutions to the problems clients have.”

Adriane earned both her Bachelor and Master of Business Administration degrees at Grand Valley State University and is a national presenter of technical topics for the Association of School Business Officials International conference. She has also authored articles on estate planning.


Doug specializes in servicing closely-held businesses in the manufacturing, petroleum and retail industries.  He has twenty four years of experience in business accounting and tax services, including audit, review and compilation of financial statements, tax return preparation and tax planning strategies. Doug works out of both the Grand Rapids and Greenville offices and manages the Greenville office operations.

Doug has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to quality. His leadership, hard work and attention to detail have contributed significantly to our continued growth and success. We look forward to his continued success in his new role.” says Tom Prince, CPA, MBA, Shareholder.

Doug earned his Bachelor of Business Administration at Grand Valley State University.


Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors is a full-service CPA firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Greenville, MI. The firm provides accounting, business advisory, tax return preparation, tax planning, auditing, financial planning and IT advisory services with an emphasis on closely-held and family-owned businesses. The firm also services Governmental entities, Not-for-Profit Organizations and Employee Benefit Plans.  Hungerford Nichols has grown to become one of the largest locally-owned, independent CPA firms in West Michigan.  Visit their website at and join them on Facebook


Stellafly Recap of Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2014

Restaurant Week
 came to Grand Rapids mid-August, and wrapped up last Sunday, August 24. Every year, Restaurant Week Grand Rapids encourages local restaurants to participate and celebrate the “Art of Dining Out” by offering earth-to-table menu creations from scores of restaurants.

Stellafly sent out a team of willing writers and photographers to check out three different restaurants in the Grand Rapids area that were participating in Restaurant Week: Tre CuiginiRezervoir Lounge and Cork Wine & Grille


Tre Cugini
Sparkly Stellafly / photos Jason Hite

I had the pleasure of visiting Tre Cugini along with Jason Hite and Leah Bekins to try out their offerings. We were all first-timers at this great spot in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

In one word: AMAZING.


If you’ve never been to Tre Cugini, it is located on Monroe Center, across from the Grand Rapids Art Museum. This four-time winner of Grand Rapids Magazine’s Award of Excellence provides a very authentic Italian cuisine experience with Executive Chef Daniel R. Chudik at the helm in the kitchen. This small, intimate space also includes a large space for events such as wedding receptions and the wine dinners that are offered by the restaurant throughout the year.

After being seated we were quickly greeted by our server for the evening, Sara, who provided excellent recommendations, service, and was a true delight the entire time we were there. Tre Cugini offered a 3-course meal for the extraordinary price of $28 during Restaurant Week, and our group tried several of the dishes listed.

Antipasto (Appetizer) Course

Thanks to the recommendation of Sara, all three of us at the table selected the Bruschetta for our appetizer course and agreed it was hands down the best we had ever had. Toasted crostini is topped with house-made ricotta cheese, fresh tomato, arugula, and balsamic vinegar—it was truly extraordinary.


Secondo (Main) Course

Like the first course, the second course provided equally difficult decisions. The menu was full of wonderful options, from Eggplant Terrine to the Four Cheese Ravioli. Leah chose the ravioli and Jason and I both selected the Cavatelli Pasta with Sausage and Spinach. All the pasta is made in house as was the sausage. It was evident by the quiet moment at the table that everyone enjoyed their dishes a great deal. Each one was bursting with flavor and it felt as if we were actually in Italy.




Dolce (Dessert)

It was hard to believe we actually had room to eat dessert after the first two wonderful courses, but we could not resist the house made Lemon Pudding Cake (me), house made chocolate Gelato (Jason), and Sicilian Cannoli with sweet ricotta cheese and chocolate chips (Leah). Each of these was the perfect way to end our delicious meal.

On behalf of all of us, I would like to say Bravissimo! to Chef Dan, Sara, and the entire staff of Tre Cugini for the amazing dining experience. We will most certainly be back.




Be sure to visit Tre Cuigini on their website:


Rezevoir Lounge
Eve Gardner / photos Bryan Esler

The community of Grand Rapids continues to come together to put on events that are enticing to every demographic in this growing city. Most recently, I had the opportunity to experience Grand Rapids’ third annual Restaurant Week. And, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect – two days before the Michigan Titanium Triathlon.

As an endurance athlete, I sometimes feel as if there is not enough food that can fit on one plate – or three – to replace the number of calories I intentionally burn each day. While dining with a friend at the Rezevoir Lounge, one of the local businesses participating in Restaurant Week this year, my expectations were exceeded. The three courses I chose were all delicious and seemed strategically designed to pack a flavorful punch to my appetite – something not easily done!

The over-simplified menu, designed specifically for Restaurant Week, made making the decision of what to order much, much easier. In my opinion, there is nothing more damning than attempting to choose just one plate to enjoy when the menu is chocked full of mouth-watering entrée options. With only three plate options for each of the three courses included, I felt confident in each of my choices while simultaneously never feeling as if I was sacrificing the other options on the menu. Furthermore, having specific options for Vegetarians, Vegans and even those with gluten allergies was reassuring; as a Vegetarian myself, I didn’t feel excluded from this community-wide event.

My dinner included a Kale salad with a toasted fennel seed and agave vinaigrette,  a Spicy Vegetable Alfredo and Brown Rice Penne and concluded with the French 75. The Kale salad was nothing short of delicious or interesting – the agave vinaigrette dressing balanced each bite, not-too-sweet and not-too-tart.  The Spicy Vegetable Alfredo was a step above any other pasta I have tasted, especially for an Alfredo-type pasta. The jalapenos add the perfect kick to the dish while the noodle-to-sauce ratio was spot on – I didn’t feel as if I was eating a bowl of Alfredo soup and noodles, like normal. And, the French 75 for desert was … well, my taste buds freaked out in excitement in a way that I would never be able to put to words. The tartness of the sparkling wine gin sorbet and the sweetness of the Michigan cherry syrup made the perfect pairing – I almost licked the martini glass when I was finished.








It’s not often I finish a meal at a restaurant perfectly satisfied, both in taste and in volume of food. Thankfully, the Rezevoir Lounge met and exceeded every expectation I had. And, while the food was appetizing, the atmosphere was equally enjoyable. From the lighting to the hand-crafted beer selection list and the exposed brick wall, the establishment gave off a vibe that emanated a laid back comfort. Although a bar setting, families were warmly welcomed.

Rezevoir Lounge on the web:


Cork Wine and Grille
Nancy Agrillo and Michael Meilock / photos Michael Meilock

2014-08-23 07.01.40


Every plate was wiped clean- and not just because we are 2 soon-to-be Ironman triathletes fueling up for a race. The food was delicious.

Cork Wine and Grille’s menu for restaurant week combined some standard favorites with surprising creations. The Watermark Salad blends mixed greens with a flavorful medley of dried cranberries, strawberries and candied pecans. The Stone Fruit pizza, however, took the first course to a whole new stratosphere. Who would have thought a combination of apricot, peaches, plums and olive oil on a crust would result in such delishousness? And then there’s the impressive wine selection.



Servers Aaron and Dani recommended the perfect wine choices, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Malbec. The main course of Southwest Chicken with fingerling potatoes pleasantly surprised with the touch of black bean puree. The Peach Bourbon Glazed Trout, slathered in a sweet glaze, paired nicely with the bacon and spinach accompaniments.



The Cane Berry Cheesecake would impress even a cheesecake snob (which I am). Server Dani recommended the Peanut butter Pie. Its luscious peanut butter filling topped with chocolate ganache was reminiscent of a top shelf Reese’s peanut butter cup.


Cork Wine and Grille on the web:

The Inside Dish on Civic Theatre’s Nine to Five: The Musical


When 9 to 5 hit the movie theaters in 1980, I hadn’t seen anything like it. I was a teenager, and I went to see it in a West Michigan suburban movie theater with my middle-aged Canadian mother.

We both laughed ourselves silly throughout the entire film — and we weren’t alone. Everyone else in the movie roared at this now classic movie about three working women (played by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda) who take their revenge on their “…sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss (played by Dabney Coleman).

If you haven’t seen 9 to 5, go see it for the laughs. Nine to Five: The Musical will be playing at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre from May 30 to June 15. Even if you’ve seen it at the movies or on TV, go anyway; because this very funny story is now a full-blown live musical with new lyrics and music by the phenomenal Dolly Parton.

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre production will be directed by Penelope Notter, with Musical Director Charles Hutchins, and Choreographers William Schutte and Torry Thomas. Actors Emily Diener, Jenny Fischer, and Samantha Gauthier will play the three female leads. Actor David Duiven will perform the role of the villainous Mr. Frank Hart, Jr.




Like all groundbreaking stories, 9 to 5: The Musical is more than just good, plain fun. The play helps facilitate extremely helpful discussions about sexism and harassment in the workplace.

After seeing the movie back in 1980, my mother told me she had worked with villains just like Mr. Frank Hart in Canada, and later in the States. Everyone had. And because I was just about to enter college and the workforce, I asked my mom if guys like this cartoonish villain still existed.

Without 9 to 5, a mother-daughter conversation about real world workplace dangers might have have been prickly, tense, or preachy — but with the movie? The comedy bridges generational and cultural gaps in a way that a conversation alone cannot.

“The Civics’ role in the community is to entertain and to create community discussion.” show director Penelope Notter said. “This play is hilarious: it will entertain but it also shows a slice of history.”

Most people who see the play will cringe and laugh at the over-the-top, in-your-face sexism and harassment performed by actor David Duiven, who plays the evil Mr. Frank Hart, Jr.

Is there anything redeemable about this character at all? Is there anything good about him?

“Nope, not anything,” said Duiven, made up to look eerily like Dabney Coleman, down to his fake but completely realistic 1970’s porn star mustache. “He’s just a bad guy.”

Duiven continued:

“My character in 2014? This is sexual harassment. I am a bad, bad man. I need to be fired. I need to be told ‘it’s not appropriate’. I need to be told how to respect women. So I think it really makes a really strong statement in 2014.”




Today, many people in the workplace have learned to not say and do things that are as overtly sexist as the egregiously awful Mr. Frank Hart, Jr. They’ve gotten the message and received the “sensitivity” training. Instead of nearly bludgeoning women to death with overtly sexist remarks and actions, today is the era of ‘death by a million paper cuts’. Microaggressions and an oppressively systemic patriarchy are today’s insidious and frustrating forms of workplace evil.

At work, women might not get as many overt death or rape threats as we might have in 1980, but Bonnie Nawara, CEO of GROW (Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women) notes that equality in the workplace is still elusive.

“In the 1980’s, there were new guidelines for equal employment opportunities for women,” said Nawara. “The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was put forward in the 1970’s, but it needed 38 states to be ratified. And it never was ratified.”

Nawara shared a few poignant statistics. Currently, women are the majority owners of nearly 1 in every 3 U.S. firms. Women employ 7.8 million people, providing 1 in 7 privately held jobs, and over 1 in 16 in jobs nationwide.

GROW exists as a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids that helps women start and grow businesses. The organization does this largely through education, networking, and counseling. And yet, GROW felt the need to open a micro-loan program in 2012.

“A lot of banks don’t like financing small (women-owned) businesses, just because they don’t like taking a chance,” said Nawara.




In 2014, that old line about ‘women coming a long way’ seems quaint. Rather, covert sexism and systems that support a patriarchal workplace and deny women equal opportunity continue to make giant leaps forward.

That’s one reason why the appeal of 9 to 5 remains timeless. Even though it’s technically a period piece set in the 1970’s, you can look beyond the big hair and shoulder pads to see that many of the painfully sexist attitudes and behaviors are still with us today.

In the play, the three lead actresses fantasize about killing their obnoxious boss in ways that are every bit as spectacular and over-the-top as the sexual harassment they endure on the job. Today, as in 1980, these revenge fantasies are worth having — and well-worth watching. They’re comical, but they are also cathartic.

By all means, see 9 to 5: The Musical for the laughs — but don’t be surprised when it stirs up vivid, real-world, discussions both before and after the show.

For tickets:

Seva Yoga – Something for Everyone



One of the many reasons we love Seva Yoga, in East Grand Rapids, is that their studio offers a little something for everybody. Students come to Seva to meet, learn, and practice the many disciplines of Yoga. The owners, Tobi and Melissa Tungl, believe that Yoga is simply too vast to narrow offerings down to a single discipline and it is here that students can explore and discover the practice that works for each individual.





On Saturday May 31st, we joined Seva’s Saturday morning Vinyasa class. However, this wasn’t a typical Vinyasa class. Jeremy Arndt, musician, played live music that complemented the class’ atmosphere taking its students deeper within while his melodies fit with the teachings of the class and the poses.

Jeremy has traveled the world studying different musical traditions and sharing his own music. He crafts his gentle blend of world-music, inspired by his journeys, with the the handpan and other world instruments. Jeremy played  music from his new album, Journeys: Handpan Solo, and other compositions. You can check him out here.


Seva offers a wide variety of classes, including:

Vinyasa: This energizing and empowering class combines pranyama with a continuous flow of asana. Build strength, increase endurance, release tension and find flexibility in this vigorous practice.

Sweet Vinyasa: Everything that you LOVE about Vinyasa, just a little sweeter. These classes focus on the alignment of asana as well as cultivating balance within your life.

Gentle Yoga: A restorative and relaxing practice ideal for new students or anyone wishing to find their center. Perfect for students with chronic symptoms such as muscle joint pain, stiffness, stress and fatigue. A good choice during pregnancy as well.

Hot Vinyasa: For those who like it HOT! This energizing and empowering class combines pranyama with a continuous flow of asana. Build strength, increase endurance, release tension and find flexibility in this vigorous practice. *not recommended during pregnancy

Slow Flow: A slow flow of postures set to music. Strengthen and lengthen in a relaxed way. All levels welcome.

Yin Yoga: A contemplative practice in which participants hold floor postures for longer periods of time while softening the muscles and focusing on the breath. Poses are chosen to stimulate the connective tissues and direct energy, bringing vitality to the entire body while promoting stress relief, meditation and relaxation.

Happy Hour Vinyasa: A fun, fast hour of vinyasa flow set to energizing and uplifting music. Start your weekend off with this exciting, dynamic practice featuring live music monthly to bring great energy into the studio and your life.




Are you a promising Yoga Instructor?

Seva Yoga’s 200-hour Level Foundation Yoga Teacher Training focuses on Ashtanga, moving through Vinyasa and finally flowing into the Seva Yoga practice, our foundational class that makes yoga accessible to all levels.

The next Seva Yoga Teacher Training Shala, with Melissa Tungl begins September 2014!

This program is designed for success as a Yoga teacher and student in mind. Program hours exceed the curriculum hours required by Yoga Alliance and will include workshop topics such as:

The Ethics of Teaching Yoga

Optimal Alignment & Accessible Modifications

a study of the Chakras

an Introduction to Ayurveda

a deep study of Anatomy

For more information or to request the application and catalog please contact


To learn more about Seva Yoga, visit their website: www.

Be sure to like them on Facebook


Everybody, meet Noah: Roberta King’s new memoir, “He Plays a Harp,” is a family love story



Beans for tacos are simmering in a crock pot on the counter as Roberta King and her husband Mike Miesch sit at the kitchen table talking about Noah.

They do this a lot.

Their son Noah died eight years ago at the age of 17 from pneumonia, a complication of a life with cerebral palsy.

But the essence of Noah is all over the place in their pink and white beach house in Muskegon.

His photo is on the refrigerator. His shoes are lined up in his bedroom closet. A couple of his favorite books are still on his bed.

Noah comes to life, in a way, every time his parents talk and laugh about him.

Now, everybody can get to know this kid who had curly blonde hair, a love of Jimmy Buffet and a mischievous streak that once compelled him to pull the school fire alarm.

Consider King’s new memoir, He Plays a Harp,” your introduction.

Everybody, meet Noah.


He once splashed in the Gulf of Mexico with dolphins. He owned one of Jimmy Buffet’s guitar picks. He loved SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons. He appreciated a good hunt for the perfect Halloween pumpkin.

King’s book, published by Principia Media, is mostly a story about how Noah lived.

But it starts out with how he died.

You’ll likely be crying by page 22, when King tenderly, but matter-of-factly, writes how she and Mike gently told their boy goodbye as he died:

“Don’t be afraid, Noah. It’ll be good in heaven, love. You’ll be able to breathe again,” I told him. I thought he might like to know that because his labored breathing and coughing bothered him.

“We’re here with you right now, and we’ll be with you always. Don’t be scared.”

… As Noah journeyed forward to his death, Mike and I held tightly onto each other and to him. Finally, as he drew his last troubled breath, we let the most amazing kid we’d ever known go where he wanted to go. Home.



It’s the most private of moments. Sad, but somehow beautiful. But King would rather laugh with you than cry with you, and much of the book captures the funny family moments that she and Miesch hold dear.

As King and Miesch savor wine and tacos, a bouquet of cheerful daffodils on the kitchen table, there’s lots of laughter.

Remember how Noah would ask what’s for dinner? He’d keep asking, repeatedly, ignoring his mom’s answers until she finally named his favorite — spaghetti.

Remember that time Noah took a huge dump in the airplane bathroom? Miesch carried him from their seats in coach to the bathroom in first class, because it was closer. The stink, his parents tell between fits of laughter, would make your eyes water.

“It was a first-class poop,” Miesch quips with a grin.

“I like talking about Noah,” says King, vice president of public relations and marketing at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. “It keeps my memories fresh. It keeps him alive.”

“We bring him back,” Miesch says, “with our memories.”

While King’s account of Noah’s final moments brings her readers to tears, the stories of Noah’s life were hardest for her to write.

“His life stories made me cry more than anything else,” she says. “Those were the tender times I spent with him.”

She knows some people might shy away from a book they know deals with the death of a child.

“We have a societal discomfort with death,” King says. “People don’t want to read about it.

“But death is pretty short,” she says. “Life — even if it was short, like Noah’s — is filled with experiences. For it to be a complete book, death has to be part of it. But not all of it.

“I told the things I thought would help people get to know him. To understand why he’s so beloved.”

She pauses, and smiles.

“He was so cute,” she says.




He was also severely disabled. Noah was never able to stand, walk or run. He used a wheelchair since kindergarten. His clenched and shaky hands made it difficult and awkward for him to feed himself.

“Not only does death make people uncomfortable, but disabilities freak people out, too,” King says. In her first draft of the book, she “sugarcoated” Noah’s severe disability, she says.

“Then one of my test readers said, ‘You wouldn’t know that Noah was disabled,’” she says.

So she included more stories about the struggle to get Noah ready to leave the house. The complications of family vacations. The challenge Noah had making good friends.

As she wrote, she felt closer to her son.

“One thing the writing did was help me remember things I had long ago tucked away,” King says. “Then, suddenly, all this good stuff came out. I’m grateful for that gift of greater memory.

“I feel like we were really close all of our lives,” she says, “but I feel even more connected to Noah now than any time since his death.”

Miesch, maintenance manager at Pioneer Resources in Muskegon, says the book is a gift to him, too, preserving his son’s story.

Noah’s bedroom is a place of comfort for Miesch. It remains just the way it was when Noah went to bed there each night.



Miesch walks down the hallway and shows how Noah’s sailboat comforter is still on the bed, and his SpongeBob pillows. Noah’s copies of “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Jungle Book” rest on the bed. His shoes are neatly lined up in the closet.

“His shoes never wore out, because he never walked in them,” Miesch says. “I haven’t wanted to change his room. Once something is gone, it’s gone forever.”

He’s quiet for a minute.

“It’s a way I try to hold on,” he says. “When I go in there, I think about Noah.”

Miesch created the cover art for “He Plays a Harp” years ago, when he and King were dating.

“It represents something like a bigger universe,” he says, walking into the living room to get the original oil pastel art, in a carved black frame.

“When we die, we go somewhere,” he says. “It speaks of that bigger picture.”

The book’s title came from King’s struggle to answer the question she often gets asked: Do you have any children?

Sometimes, to avoid the discomfort that can follow “My son died,” she fibs, and pretends Noah is still alive.

When a woman once started asking about Noah and his interests, King blurted out, “He plays a harp.” No idea where that came from, she says.

She wonders why there isn’t a special word for parents who have lost a child.

King keeps a plastic bag of Noah’s clothes in her dresser drawer.

“Every so often, I’ll open up the bag, just to smell it,” she says. Then she closes it fast, so the air can’t dilute the scent.

Noah had a good smell,” she says.

One more thing to know about Noah.

“Through the book, people are getting to know Noah, who he was,” King says. “Maybe people will read it and be less fearful of people with disabilities, when they realize they live a normal family life.

“It’s kind of a love story,” King muses. “A good family story, about how families cope, that situations like ours are real.

“But mostly,” she says, “I wrote it for myself. I wanted a record of his life. I didn’t want him to pass from this world forgotten.”

For more information and a schedule of book signings and events, visit

King’s debut reading will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at the Scolnik Center for Healing, part of Muskegon’s Art of Loss and Hope event.

She’ll also read from and sign copies of her book at a launch party at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at the Richard App Gallery, 910 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids.