A Michigan Weekend Getaway

 

Michigan entrance sign

Image via Wikipedia

Just like there are a large number of things to do with your family in Michigan there are also just as many things that you can do with your significant other. Whether it’s a day trip or weekend getaway… there is always something to do. There are a couple of places and things to do that I want to share with you today and as usual there are a couple that I’ve actually been to and something that are on my to do list.

The first place that I am going to share with you is a place that isn’t all that well known and is tucked away over on the west side of the state in a very tiny town called Jugville.

The Shack

The Shack is small bed & breakfast/hotel nestled among the trees on Robinson Lake in Jugville, which is just outside of White Cloud, Michigan. I’ve stayed here a couple of times and have loved it every time. They have a buffet dinner that they serve every evening full of homemade food such as fried chicken, fresh veggies, and mashed potatoes and as you dine you can enjoy looking out over the lake.

In the evening after you’ve eaten and taken some time to explore the 100 acres that they sit on, checked out the little museum they have, and sat by the lake as the sun sets you can head on im for their famous banana splits served with hand dipped ice cream. It’s a great way to end the day!

Wine Country – Leelanau

This is on my to do list! Once upon a time I lived in Traverse City and as close as I was the the Leelanau area I never went and checked out all the great wineries that are in the area.

The Leelanau peninsula is a beautiful area with rolling hills, forests, and of course the wineries that is surrounded by the Lake Michigan shoreline. With close to 20 wineries and tasting rooms in the area figuring out which ones to go to and planning my trip could be a challenge! I think that my recommendation for planning a trip would be to do some research and look into what they different wineries have to offer.

The last time that I was in the area was this past fall and we stayed at the Crystal Mountain Restort. The place is beautiful and has year round activities from the indoor pool, spa (loved the spa!), skiing, golf, and the outdoor pool and it’s a short drive to the wineries.

Detroit Jazz Festival

Every year over Labor Day weekend the streets in downtown Detroit are filled with the sweet sounds of jazz music. I love music… all kinds of it too and I would love to spend a Saturday checking out all the great musicians, food, and sights that this event has to offer. And to make it even better… it’s free! Yes, free! They have food, wine, and other beverages available right there at the festival but I think that I’d be saving my appetite for a nice dinner over in Greektown!

Michigan is host to several museums and along with the music I love to spend a rainy day wandering around a museum checking everything out. Now, this isn’t something that I do very often… as a matter of fact I’m lucky if I can make it to one of the museums once a year. The main reason for this is kids. I don’t think that large art museums are a good place for a family trip so unless the stars are aligned I don’t go.

There are a few museums that I am going to focus on. Detroit Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Arts, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Now these are just a couple of the great museums to check out around Michigan and there are so many more that deserve attention as well but in the spirit of saving time I’m sticking to these three.

Interior main hall Detroit Institute of Arts.

Interior main hall Detroit Institute of Arts.

 

I’ve only been to the Flint Institute of Arts and DIA is on my list of places to visit this summer and hopefully I can hit up the museums in GR this fall. I may change around the plans depending on what exhibits they have.

All of them have permanent collections as well as exhibits that change. I’m not going to go into all the details of the exhibits that they are currently having but instead I encourage you to check them all out online and if you don’t live in Michigan take a look around your area for a museum. You never know what amazing things you may find!

So start packing a bag and come visit us in Michigan! There are so many fun things to do, see, and explore!

Great Places to Visit in Michigan

A few weeks ago I was talking with a co-worker, who just moved to Michigan, about all the things that you can do with your family and it got me to thinking. I figured that I would share with you some of the places I love to visit and hopefully it will inspire you to come check them out too.

With as much negative that you hear about Michigan, it’s economy and crime in the news, there is little that is said about all the great things that there are to do with your family. You can drive almost anywhere in the state and find something fun for the entire family.

Michigan is a great state to come and explore!

I’ve always lived in Michigan… from Taylor, Lapeer, Flint, Traverse City, and my current home in the Owosso area (there are a few towns I left out to make this post short). And everywhere you go there are tons of things to do but I’m going to share with you some of my favorites.

Now these things are the must do’s in Michigan as far as I’m concerned especially if you live here.

Now on to the list in no particular order either.

Mackinac Island

Two of the modes of transport on Mackinac Isla...

Downtown Mackinac Island

 

I’ve been to the island and Mackinac City more times that I can count. I absolutely love going to the island and spending the day wandering around the small shops, tasting the amazing fudge, and enjoying the beautiful views of the Grand Hotel and the crystal clear lakes that surround the island. There are no motorized vehicles on the island and everyone walks, uses bikes or horses to get around and this helps to maintain the Victorian charm that the residents have worked so hard at. The only thing that I haven’t done yet is stay over night on the island, but it is definitely on my list of things to do.

Michigan’s Adventure

What better way to spend a sunny summer day than riding the great rides and splashing around the water park! That’s what’s so great about Michigan’s Adventure … you get two parks for the price of one! I was there a few years ago with my two older girls and we had a great time but the only thing that I would suggest it staying the night in the area because after a long day riding the rides, swimming, and playing in the sun a long car ride home isn’t fun.

Sunrise on Lake Huron and Sunset on Lake Michigan

Where else can you go and watch the sunrise over beautiful lake and then drive to the other side of the state and watch the sun set over another lake? I’ve done both of these.. not on the same day… and again the views are gorgeous and something that you can’t miss. Several years ago my daughter wanted to see the sunset so we took a trip over to Holland and spent the weekend there. In the evening we packed up and went to the beach and watched the sun change from yellow, orange, red, and shades of pink as it set over Lake Michigan.

Detroit Zoo

I love going to the zoo and wandering around and checking out all the animals. I know that it doesn’t change all that much but it’s still a lot of fun for kids of any age. From the petting zoo, feeding the giraffes, and watching the penguins dive and swim you won’t be disappointed. This year they have a dinosaur exhibit where they have over 30 animatronic dinosaurs that roar and snarl just like the real ones. We were going to go to the zoo on Mother’s Day weekend but wanted to wait till the new dinosaur exhibit opened this summer.

Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park is a bit different from your regular zoo in that it’s more like an African Safari type zoo. You can walk up and feed the giraffes, see various species of birds fly right in front of you, and watch animals in a  environment that is similar to their natural habitat. Last summer we took a trip down to Binder Park and we really enjoyed it especially feeding the giraffes and being so close that you can touch them.

National Cherry Festival

Like I said before I lived in Traverse City for a while and when I was there I went to the Cherry Festival the first couple of years, but after that the tourists started to get on my nerves. Lots of people driving around lost or just not sure where they want to go. Honestly, I could dedicate this entire post or two to the Cherry Festival to explain all the great things there are to do there. A couple of my favorite things though were the fireworks over the bay and the Blue Angels flying over the bay during the air show. If you ever get the chance go check it out… just know what you want to do & see before you get there!

Children’s Museums (Flint, Lansing, and Grand Rapids)

These places are a great rainy day activity with the kids. I will say that my oldest (a teenager) didn’t enjoy them as much as the younger kids did, regardless there is a lot of hands on activities and fun things to do.

Greenfield Village

The Wright Brother's house. It originally stoo...

The Wright Brother's House

Living history and seeing first hand how things were done so many years ago can be interesting and educational at the same time. I’ve been to Greenfield Village a countless number of times and will always revisit it. Some of the highlights are Noah Websters home, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park labs, and the courthouse where Abe Lincoln practiced law. You can also take a ride through the village in a model T or take a ride on the old fashion carousel.

Henry Ford Museum

If you plan on going to Henry Form Museum make sure you plan on spending the day there! From planes suspended from the ceiling, to giant locomotives, and the car the JFK was in when he was assassinated I’m sure that you’ll find something that will peak your interest. We took the girls there a few years ago and all 3 of them really  liked it and there was something for each of the despite their age differences. I think that they all walked away having learnt something new.

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

These dunes run almost the entire length of the west side of the state along the coast of Lake Michigan. In Frankfort you can do the dune climb and then walk (hike) all the way to the lake. I did this one year and the view was very deceiving … I thought that the lake was much closer than it really was… I think that the walk is close to 2 miles. There are areas along the shoreline where you can walk, hike, or take a ride in a dune buggy. I’ve done it all too! There is legend to the name too.

“Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tried and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear”.

Have you been to any of these places? Are you planning on going? Share your experiences with the rest of us!

Yahtzee!!

This week, we want you to recall the games you played when you were young.
Did you love Monopoly, Yahtzee, or Uno? Or did you prefer backgammon, Trouble, or Scrabble?
Write a piece that explores one of your memories.

I’ve been missing for a while from TRDC prompts and really have no reason why, but I’m jumping back in today.

Many years ago when I was just a little girl my family and I used to take long weekends and go up north to St. Helen, Michigan to visit my grandparents on my moms side. I loved going up there for so many reasons, but most of all I got to spend some time with my grandparents and usually got away with a lot more than if I were at home.

Every evening after dinner (often polenta, sausage, and a marinara sauce) I would take a bath and use the Irish Spring soap, the traditional green and white marbled bar. Even today the smell brings back all sorts of fond memories of my grandparents house and the times that I spent with them. After my bath my grandma would french braid my hair into two long and really tight braids on either side of my head. I’m amazed at how tight she was able to get them! Seriously… sometimes it hurt. But I endured it because I loved the way they looked so much and my mom couldn’t braid.

Yahtzee

Image via Wikipedia

Once all of us kids were in bed the adults would all gather in the kitchen with their snacks and wine to play Yahtzee.

They would all take their seats at the table, passing out the score sheets, pencils, and gathering the cup and dice at first. And this is when the fun started. They’d shake the cup letting the dice rattle around a few times before letting them roll out of the cup and on to the table all in hopes of getting that elusive Yahtzee. Again and again the dice would be tossed into the cup, rattle around, and then fall onto the table.

So many times I would get up and tell them that I couldn’t sleep because of the dice, but really I just wanted to watch or even to play with them. Of course I was always sent back to bed where I would lay and listen to the fun.

As the night progressed they would laugh, talk, and carry on. Always having a great time and yelling out “Yahtzee!!” in a gleeful manner when someone managed to get the five dice to all have the same number showing. They would play well into the night it seemed or probably something closer to 10 or 11pm.

During the day my grandma would pull out that old Yahtzee box and play with us kids. I remember the box, it was worn very much use throughout the years and held shut by a single rubber band. We would have so much fun playing with my grandma.

As I think back of all the times that they played I can still hear the sound of the dice rattling and my mom laughing. Looking back things were much simpler then.

I remember this so well and it’s such a fond memory that even today my sister and I love to play it when we get together.

They are the Fab Five!

Thanks to Trop50 for sponsoring my writing about fabulous bloggers. This year Trop50 is granting 50 Fabulous Wishes. Click here to enter for a chance to win $1,000 to celebrate a friend with a refreshing attitude about looking and feeling fabulous!

There are so many amazing bloggers out there that I admire and love to read and to narrow it down to just five of them is no simple task. How do I pick one over another? What if I leave someone important out… what if this…. what if that… Do you see my dilemma?

Well, I’m going to try and narrow this down for you and share with you some new, some of, but in the end they’re all friends and great bloggers.

1. Single Mom on a Budget

SingleMomonaBudget

I’ve known Jill for almost a year now and she is a terrific friend and has some of the best deals around for the Denver area, coupons, giveaways, and great ways to save. We met last fall during the Back to School, Back to Blogging even that Gigi over at Kludgy Mom was running. We both were looking for someone to be a faerie blogmother and decided that we’d do it for one another and since then we’ve been supporting each others posts, guest posting, and just helping out in general when one of us needed.

We quickly found out how much that we have in common and that we got along well! She’s been a great friend and is always there when I need her.

So take a few minutes and check out her blog and some of the incredible deals she has to offer.

2. Ciao Mom

Elena and I met when we were paired as writing partners for The Red Dress Club. She is an amazing writer and I love reading what she writes whether I see if before it’s posted or if I just happen to be wandering by her blog. She recently vlogged and I was finally able to “meet” her! She’s a wife, a mom, and most importantly a survivor. Go over and read what she has to say… you won’t be sorry. I promise.

3. Mommies in Timeout

For some reason Elena (yes, there are two of them on my list!) doesn’t have a button, but I’m fully confident that when she has her blog redone that she’ll have one then!

I met Elena a few months ago through The Red Dress Club as well. I started reading through her posts based on the prompts and was pulled into her blog and have been reading it ever since. She too, is a great writer and knows how to tell a story! I should also mention that she is one of the reasons that I actually stepped outside of my comfort zone and started doing vlogs. So a huge thanks should go to her for that because I vowed that I would never do it!

I recently had the opportunity to actually met her in real life and she is one of the nicest people that I’ve met and I was so glad that I had that opportunity. What’s even better is that we live less than 2 hours apart and can get together again.

4. Kludgy Mom

Kludgy Mom

Okay, first of all if you haven’t heard of Gigi’s blog yet then you must living under a rock or something! She’s is so talented and always has something really cool going on at her blog like the Facebook 500, App Girl Friday, Back to School, Back to Blogging or her newest event, The Summer of Love.

I have learned a great deal from all the great info that she has shared with everyone and really appreciate it. It’s people like her that help us who are new to the blogging world and encourage us to stick to it.

5. Dysfunctional Supermom

Dysfunctional Supermom

Brandi is just awesome. She is funny, open, honest, foul mouthed, and all around a great friend. We met a while back on Twitter when she asked about blog buttons or something and I offered to make her one. Since then we’ve been friends and I’ve been reading her blog daily (or when she posts).

She tells it like it is and doesn’t hold back, and best of all she doesn’t apologize for anything. She is who she is and is confident in that. I admire that because I’m the quiet chicken in the back of the room where as she’s the one being loud and having a great time talking to everyone. I know that if I needed something and asked her she’d come through for me even though we are several states apart.

There you have it friends, the Fab Five! If I didn’t mention you that doesn’t mean that you aren’t totally awesome too… it just means that I was limited to five and these ladies were the first to come to mind.

Share with me a great blog that you read!

Don’t forget to enter the 50 Fabulous Wishes contest for a chance to win $1,000 to celebrate a friend with a refreshing attitude about looking and feeling fabulous. I was selected for this Tropicana Trop50 sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do. I received compensation to use and facilitate my post.

Another Proud Moment ~ Spirit Cup Winners

Today I was up at the ungodly hour of 4:30am to take my oldest two girls to school so that they could take part in the school assembly that started at 4:45am.

What!?!? You ask… well my kids along with all the other kids in our school district have raised 177, 402 pounds of food for the eastern Michigan Food Bank. This is simply amazing and shows how much the kids care about their community and helping out those in need. I am really proud of all the work that my kids along with all the others have done over the past school year.

The local TV station picked up on their efforts a few years ago when it was just the Owosso & Corunna schools (cross town rivals) going against one another to see who could raise the most food. And now the program has grown to include schools from Lapeer, Clio, Flint, Saginaw, and all over mid-Michigan. All of these kids are doing a great thing to help out.

Each Friday a school is featured live on WJRT channel 12 and they compete against one another for the Spirit Cup and the school that raises the most food is the winner. This year Owosso is the winner!

The video is pretty long… like almost 30 minutes long. But it highlights the efforts that the kids in Owosso & mid-Michigan have made throughout the school year as well as footage from this morning’s live coverage.

Do you have a similar program in your community to help out others?

Kitchen Dance Party

I was going to grace you all with the traditional Wordless Wednesday post full of pictures but I decided to do something different instead and all of my pictures are still on my camera (I keep meaning to transfer them). Besides Natalie was “looking at pictures” on my laptop last night so I’m sure that there are a ton of new pictures in Photo Booth for me to browse through and share with you all another time.

It’s a rare occurrence when all four of my kids are getting along and having fun together. Well one of those rare moments happened the other day after dinner in the kitchen (they were supposed to be doing the dishes). I had to come out and see what was going on… it was a kitchen dance party! I sat down and pretended to be doing something on my phone and managed to get a video of this rare moment.

I think that they had fun… What do you think?

Gleek Retreat ~ Counting the Days!

I have to tell you that I am sooo.. excited! Why you ask, well because this weekend, 5 days away, I’ll be joining a bunch of great people in Holland for Gleek Retreat!

Gleek Retreat is a blogging conference that is held right here in Michigan every year and was created by bloggers for bloggers. The conference is held over the weekend and that is one of the best parts about it… I’m able to go and not miss work or to much at home.

This will be my first ever conference and as I talked about before there’s a lot that goes into deciding whether or not to go to a conference. This one is a mere 2 hours from my home and looks like it’s going to be filled with a ton of useful information and even more fun.

Maybe your thinking to yourself… that’s not all that exciting… but I’m here to tell you that it really is and I’ll share the reasons why.

  • I haven’t been away without my kids or husband EVER
  • I haven’t done anything with friends in so long I may have forgotten how to act (I apologize for this in advance ladies)
  • I can use all the help I can get when it comes to writing and blogging
  • I get to go on a dinner cruise
  • I get to eat my dinner uninterrupted (YAY!!)
  • I get to use the bathroom alone
  • Holland is a great city with a lot to see and do. (Shopping anyone?)
  • I need a “girls” night out (I apologize to any men who may attend)

It goes without being said that I will miss my family and that they’ll probably miss me even more. I say that because they’ve never had a weekend where dad is the one doing everything so it may (or may not) be a challenge for them all. It will most definitely be a learning experience for them though….hey… I just had a thought…. maybe they’ll see how much I do for them and totally appreciate everything and be gushing over me when I get home (I can dream can’t I?).

Anyway be prepared for a few posts reviewing the conference, what I’ve learned, and of course a ton of pictures!

 

Gleek Retreat

Hey!! Let’s Meetup!!

Alright everyone! Let’s get together!

I’ve been tweeting it for a while, chatted about it with Amy (@amyplus1x3 & @justthe10) and then again today with a few others (@fourplusanangel @NaynaDub) and we all decided that we need to meet up!

The idea is to meet up with a bunch of great ladies outside of a conference! We have a lot in common too… moms, bloggers, friends… oh and the most important part… we’re all from Michigan! And no matter what I think that we’d have a ton to talk about!!

So let’s set this idea into motion! Here’s my idea…

  • Find a somewhat central location where we can all meet up
  • Pick out an awesome restaurant
  • Set a date & time

Another thought is that we could make a day of it and go shopping and out to dinner!

What are your thoughts?

Here are a few others that I know are from Michigan and should join the party!

@BuriedWithKids @ksluiter @dutchbeingme @bargainshopmom @MommieDaze

Scrabble Flash Giveaway!

Are you ready for a great family fun night game? Hasbro has a new game out called Scrabble Flash and it’s a ton of fun! It’s a fast paced game where you have to line up the five tiles to form as many words as possible in 75 seconds! I’m here to tell you that it’s not as easy as you may think!

You don’t need the traditional board or any of the little letter tiles (that always seem to get lost) to play either. All you need is paper and something to write with if you want to keep score and of course the game.

My daughter and I have played many times (it’s really addictive) and have found that we’ll only get about 1/4 of the words that are possible!

The game can be played in three different ways.

  • Flash: Find as many three, four and five-letter words before time runs out.
  • Five-Letter Flash: Find the five-letter word for each letter mix until time runs out. Each tile will display one letter, and as the countdown begins, players will quickly form the one five-letter word that uses those letters. If you find the right word in time, the game will continue. When the game ends, the tiles will display the five-letter words that you missed.
  • Pass Flash: Players take turns forming five-letter words with the letters on the tiles. If a player is successful in forming the word, the tiles will display “N-E-X-T”, and the player to their left quickly tries to form a new five-letter word. Players drop out one by one as the timer seeds up – the last player left playing is the winner.

This is a game that the entire family can get in on since it’s for ages 8 and up! I will say that my daughter who is 9 (as of yesterday) had a difficult time especially with the time limit, but she still had fun with it.

Scrabble Flash

Scrabble Flash

Are you interested yet?

Well, I have one game that is up for grabs!

And I’m going to make it really easy for you to win! All you have to do to enter is follow me via Google Friend Connect and leave a comment that you do AND tell me why you want to win this game!

A winner will be chosen using random.org first thing in the morning on April 1 and their information will be passed on that same day so their game can be sent out to them! So make sure that your email is visible in your profile or leave in your comment!

Calling All Gypsies

I’m looking for gypsies.

I’ve been told time and again that you can sell you children to the gypsies and that this is legal and an acceptable practice (It’s true… my mom threatened all the time to sell my sister, brother, and I. I’m sure that she have taken out an ad if the Internet was around back then).

So, gypsies. I know you’re out there. Please contact me immediately as I have a few children that you would be very interested in.

Now, let me give you a bit of information about these amazing children.

There are three of them! Three!! And I’ll sell them to you for the price of one! That is a deal that you simply can’t pass up!

They’re all girls so you can marry them off when you’re ready to recoup your initial investment and they range in age from 8 to 15.

Now, they’re smart. Smarter than you may originally think and even though they’re sisters and appear to fight CONSTANTLY they will band together when it suits them. This could be dangerous. BUT I think that in your line of work it’s something that you could use to your advantage.

They’re all pretty cute, dark hair and blue eyed! Well, except for one and she’s a blondie.

Oh… and that youngest one… she talks a lot. I mean non-stop, never ending story, all day, all night, barely takes a breath, never lets you get a word in talking. The oldest, well she’s 15 and that should say it all.

Now, I should mention that they don’t like housework, yard work, laundry, or anything like that. They do enjoy friends, Facebook, You Tube, and social activities. Is this okay?

I’m sure with a bit of work they could be taught to maybe like work things and probably do them really well. You gypsies are a sly bunch and can teach them. I’m sure of it.

Them being kids they can get under someones skin in a matter of seconds. They can say the most simple thing, but with the right tone and look it changes the entire meaning. Know what I mean? This is a useful trait for gypsies, right?

Now this offer won’t last for long! I know what a hot commodity they are! I mean I’ve barely finished this advertisement and I’ve already gotten several emails inquiring about them.

E-mail me today! You won’t be disappointed.

selling.kids.to.gypsies@mail.com

P.S.  — I may have a boy for you in a few years. Right now he’s still cute, young, and cuddly. Oh, and he doesn’t talk yet. I’ll get with you in about 5 years or so about him.

Today’s post was written as part of the Red Writing Hood. The assignment is to write a humorous listing for eBay or Craig’s List. Talk about the history of the items, why they must go all with a 600 word limit.