While it's been just over a year since I launched the Shelby-Utica Patch, Dec. 23 to be exact, I have met so many wonderful people, covered great triumphs for our little Macomb County jewels and had a blast doing it.
I have tackled so many issues in the past year from the rollercoaster ride of Shelby Township politics to literally a rollercoaster ride down one of the world's largest inflatable slides at Stony Creek.
As a journalist and editor, there are just some stories that I have to run to get information out to the public because that's my job. But then, there are those stories that get me so excited I can't stop talking about it to my friends and family and for whatever reason—be it fun, or the experience of meeting an incredible person I didn't know before—some stories just seem to have a lasting effect on me.
So here's my top 10 favorite Shelby-Utica Patch stories of 2011 because they were the most memorable and fun to make.
1. This story was a blast to shoot (no pun intended). Who wouldn't love to hold a live gun in their hand and be empowered with the knowledge of how to use it properly?
2. I'll never forget the day I met Shelby Township resident Anna Warner for coffee at Biggby on Van Dyke for an interview about her new book My Lipstick Journey Through Cancer. Anna was strikingly beautiful and strong. Her strength of character beamed through her perfectly pouted lips and her positive attitude was inspiring. What was supposed to be a half hour interview turned into a two hour coffee date with a new friend. To follow Anna's latest adventures, find her on Twitter: Annaslipstick.
3.: I guess I just like food. This story was fun to make because I was invited to attend monthly taste-testing party as Executive Chef Isiah Sonjeow carefully explained the delicate balance in ingredients and family secrets as each dish was served to the packed restaurant located on 22 Mile and Hayes Road.
4. VIDEO: Ever Wondered What It's Like Taking the Bus through Shelby, Utica? Creating this video was definitely interesting. I decided to ride the Smart bus through Shelby and Utica to see what it was like using public transportation in the cities that are known for the M-59 expressway, and Shelby, which doesn’t have a downtown area. Needless to say, it took me more than two hours, many detours and an encounter with several characters to travel from the Wal-Mart at 23 Mile Road to Lakeside Mall on Hall Road and back again.
5.: In an effort to test out the New You's Body wraps and give an honest opinion about the spa's famous detoxifying and cleansing treatments, contributor Kristen Skladd and I got wrapped. I opted for the , which is essentially a heat blanket that forces you to sweat out the toxins in your body. It was really very challenging for my mild case of claustrophobia to stay swaddled in a heat trap for nearly an hour. Not to mention I allowed Patch viewers to see me after an hour of profuse sweating. In the end, it was worth it and it proved to be a great story to tell. Kristen opted for the . She was wrapped up like a mummy and covered from head to toe in elastic bandages that had been soaked in alkaline water and mineral solutions as she exercised on a gazelle. Now that takes guts to do that on camera.
6. Now this was a fun assignment! Macomb Editor Jenny Whalen and I picked the hottest day of the summer, and for just a few hours we became kids again as we rode down the world's largest inflatable water slide at Stony Creek. Even after Jenny assured me she had enough video footage of us sliding down the 3-story water slide, I insisted on taking a few more spins (Jenny doesn't know yet, but that's because I didn't want the day in the sun and fun to end).
7.: This story was born in response to the communities fears after hearing a man tried to in Shelby Township between March and April. Denny Strecker, owner of Denny Strecker's Karate in Warren, reached out to Patch after reading about the recent and offered to demonstrate some basic moves that may save a child if he or she is ever approached by a stranger.
8.: I love this story because it's always great to hear about Shelby Township residents doing great and creative things in the world. Also, the creator of the web series said his dream was to meet the real Henrik Zetterberg, co-captain of the Red Wings. I would like to think he may be one step closer because the article was picked up by HuffPost Detroit the first day the site was launched.
9. It was a nice fall Sunday afternoon when I packed up my 6-year-old and 4-year-old nieces to go see dock diving dogs jump into a shallow pool. My nieces loved watching the jumping wet and silly dogs and their aunt hard at work. Plus, I got to interview my first dog!
10.: These are by far my most memorable moments with Patch. Working from home has it's challenges, but it also allows you to spend your work day in a non-traditional way. Several times this fall, I took a few hours out of my day to spend quality time with my 84-year-old Sicilian grandmother (Nonna in Italian) to learn her famous recipes. The video series started off as an experiment but gained popularity with Shelby-Utica Patch followers. I think it touched a nerve because Shelby and Utica are very culturally diverse communities, and most everyone has or had a sweet and nurturing immigrant grandmother that taught them life's little lessons through the their love of cooking.
It's been a great year for Patch.com and me, and I look forward to delivering you fresh and relevant news about Shelby and Utica for another year to come.
Most of all, I want to thank the community for embracing Patch.com and supporting me in my new endeavor.