Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Jolly time visiting downtown Detroit February 24, 2017

Filed under: Life Lessons — Heather @ 4:35 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

detroitriverDetroit has been blessed with some beautiful warm, sunny weather days. Great reasons to head downtown to explore the city.

2

On a recent exploration, a friend and I first stopped at the river walk to wander along the Detroit River, wave to our Canadian neighbors in Windsor (okay, maybe I’m the only one who does this!) and learn a little history while we soaked up some much needed vitamin D. There were several others with the same idea – I love seeing people getting outdoors to enjoy the downtown area.

2

After a nice walk in the fresh air, we headed north on Woodward Avenue. We checked out the progress on the new Little Caesars Arena where the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons will soon play. As we neared Wayne State University, we stopped on Canfield Street to explore some more. And we did a little daydreaming as we wandered through the Shinola store. This Detroit-based company makes me pause beside soft leather handbags, awesome custom built bicycles, fun accessories and of course cool watches. I admit that I eyed a watch (or two) before willpower kicked in and made my wallet stay tucked inside of my purse (for now).

2

jollypumpkinWe next wandered into Third Man Records, offering great selections of music. Originally founded by Detroit-native Jack White (of The White Stripes), the store showcases an array of vinyl records from amazing artists, record players, accessories and more. A listening booth, record booth, stage, and lounge were highlights for me. I love the eclectic vibe of this store.

2

Next door to Third Man Records is Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. We of course needed refreshments after all the wandering! I love visiting Jolly Pumpkin on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, and have also dined at the Ann Arbor location. This was my first visit to the Detroit location. Jolly Pumpkin serves their own craft beer plus North Peak Brewing Company. They also have a variety of spirits. Oh and food. I enjoy both Michigan-based brands of craft beer, plus the relaxed atmosphere at all of their locations. I will definitely return.

2

It was fun to check out the Michigan companies and enjoy the great weather with great company. All in all it was another fun adventure in downtown Detroit. Get there when you have the chance to explore, eat, drink and have fun!

 

A few of my favorite Michigan products December 11, 2016

miwines

So many good Michigan wines to drink!

If you’re still looking for some holiday gift ideas for family, friends, or yourself (no judgement here!), consider shopping local. I love to support local and state-based companies as often as I can. Thankfully, Michigan is full of great companies providing food, beverages, clothing and more. And for my out of state readers, most of these companies ship their products!

2

This list only scratches the surface of the variety of food, drinks and other products made in Michigan. This is just enough to whet your palate!

2

Traverse City cherries. I LOVE summer time in Traverse City, one of my favorite cities in the northern Lower Peninsula. I also love eating fresh cherries from this beautiful area, and admit there have been many times I’ve earned a terrible stomachache after eating a bag of cherries on the way home. But it’s been so good!

2

Michigan wines: While Michigan may be considered ‘young’ when it comes to wine-making, our wineries have been holding their own at competitions as they create some great tasting beverages. Some of my latest favorites include Black Star Farm Riesling, Chateau Fontaine cherry wine, Peninsula Cellars Homework and Detention, and Verterra Winery’s Chaos Red Cuvee. I recently became a wine club member at the Michigan By The Bottle tasting room, which partners with Michigan wineries to serve and sell a variety of wines in metro Detroit (there are three locations). This has been a great way to try many new wines.

2

Better Made chocolate covered potato chips: ‘Tis the season for Better Made to release their tin of potato chips covered in milk or dark chocolate (both are good but I prefer and love dark chocolate). It’s a perfect balance of salty and sweet. And fairly addictive so beware. (Note: Sanders also makes chocolate covered potato chips, which are also delicious.)

2
bettermadetins

So delicious!

Michigan Awesome: If you’re looking for cool shirts, mugs, pint glasses, or fun gift ideas with a Michigan theme, check out this Holland-based company. Their products can be purchased online and at various stores throughout the state.

2

Craft beer. We’re fortunate to have some fabulous breweries right here in Michigan. Enough that I can’t list just one. Some of my favorite beers brewed in my home state include (keep in mind my favorites lean toward wheats and Belgian Ales): Kuhnhenn’s White Devil, Black Lotus Apricot Wheat, Short’s Brewery Anniversary Ale and Power of Love, Griffin Claw Brewing Screamin’ Pumpkin Ale, Founders Rubeaus, and North Peak’s Archangel.

2

McClure’s bloody mary mix: McClure’s uses their pickle brine, dill, garlic, black pepper and a bit more to make a bold bloody mary mix with a kick. Their popular pickles and kettle chips are great snacks.

2

Cherry Republic Hiker’s Mix and dark chocolate covered cherries. If you’ve visited one of these stores, you know to come a little hungry as the array of samples is…..well, delicious. I like to make my own trail mix for hiking, biking and simple snacking, but this trail mix pulls me in with the mix of dried cherries, cranberries, roasted peanuts, raw pumpkin seeds and more! And mixing dried cherries and dark chocolate? Yes, please.

 

10 fun things about Mackinaw City, Michigan July 25, 2016

MackBridge

The “Mighty Mac” bridge connects Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas

Every summer, my family and I plan a getaway to a location in our great state of Michigan. Family vacation is something that we all look forward to very much as we love family time and vacations! We’ve been north, south, east and west throughout our state. We chose to head north for this summer’s adventure – to Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island.

2

Located approximately four hours north of metro Detroit, Mackinaw City is at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula on the Straits of Mackinac. During the summer, the town is packed with tourists staying or stopping through on the way to the Upper Peninsula or Mackinac Island (it’s often listed by AAA as the most popular tourist city in Michigan!).

2

Some years we have relaxing vacations where we simply hang out, unwind and make no plans. We were more on the go this year as we explored the area and enjoyed various activities. It was a fun time filled with laughs and, like every year, we wished for ‘one more day.’ We had a great time exploring the city and the island (more on the island in my next blog post). Here are some items that stuck out in my mind:

2
  1. Mackinac Old Time Trolley tour: After a snafu with our suite, the manager offered to comp our entire group on the evening trolley tour so we said yes! The 1.5 hours trip took us along the water to learn about Colonial Michilimackinac, the city, bridge and more. Then we crossed the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace on the Upper Peninsula during sunset (gorgeous!). The tour driver was very informational and the views were beautiful.
  2. Last stop before the Mackinac Bridge: Known as the “Mighty Mac,” this five-mile suspension bridge is the only connection between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. It’s the longest bridge in the western hemisphere, and was built to withstand 400 mph winds!
  3. Pier at Straits State Harbor: At 1,200 feet long, this pier is one of the longest
    MackCity

    Pier in the morning.

    barrier-free piers in the state. It has a 500-foot long fishing pier with benches, railings and lights. I took some walks in the morning and evening to the end of the pier, which offers beautiful views of Mackinac Bridge and Island.

  4. Mackinac Island Brewhouse: Tucked inside of the Mackinac Bay Trading Co. building on Huron Street is this beverage house. There are at least 10 micro beers on tap or you can purchase bottles from more than 350 craft breweries. Beer tastings are available.
  5. Mackinac Island Winery tasting room: If you’re checking out the beer options inside the Mackinac Bay Trading Co., you might as well taste some wine too. You get a souvenir wine glass with five samples. Lots of wine bottles from Michigan and beyond are also available for purchase. My choices were the Mackinac Red and Sweet White wines.
  6. Fudge options: There are so many fudge shops within walking distance of the hotels. It’s easy to eat your dessert simply from the free samples offered. I highly recommend Joann’s chocolate cherry fudge (made with cherries from Traverse City). Yum!
  7. Fort Michilimackinac: This historic fort was built by the French in 1714, where it became a colonial community until the British took it over. The fort was located to Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island in 1780 and the remaining structures burnt to the ground. When Mackinaw City was formed in the 1860s, the area became a park until a replica was built in the 1930s. Reconstruction continues every summer, making this the longest running archeological dig in North America. Live demonstrations, programs and tours are available.
  8. U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw: This ship was once known as the largest icebreaker on the Great Lakes. Decommissioned in 2006, she now is docked as a museum that the public can tour. You can see this impressive ship as you walk along Huron on the water. Very cool.
  9. Lodging options: Multiple hotels and motels line the main strip along the water. Most are easy walking distance to the shops, restaurants and activities. Parking gets crazy busy during peak summer season so it was great to be able to walk everywhere.
  10. Shopping options: From tourist t-shirt shops to Michigan-made products to collectibles, the shops offer something for most people. Mackinaw Crossings is a cute, well-maintained shopping area complete with evening entertainment, fountains and kids’ play activities.
2

While I love exploring new cities, states and even countries around the world, I do love my home state. We’re lucky to have such beauty, history and natural wonders within hours of home. And, of course, sharing these adventures with family makes it that much more fun and memorable!

2

Do you have a favorite destination in Michigan? Share with us!

 

5 Michigan craft beers for summer tasting July 18, 2016

Ah, summer in Michigan. It’s a good time to relax and unwind with a refreshing, cold beer (er, every season is possibly a good time to do this!). My home state is home to many great craft breweries, with many of these receiving national recognition for their beers. I know several people who share beers across the country and Michigan beers are often in demand.

2

I like many of the summer seasonal beers that Michigan’s craft breweries offer since I like to drink a lighter beer. Wheat beer still reigns as my favorite craft beer choice, and in the summer I usually expand to fruit-forward beers (similar to my summer choices for wine).

2

If you consider yourself a ‘craft beer snob’ and really into craft beer, you may not agree or like my choices (a lot of craft beer drinkers prefer stouts, etc – too heavy for me!). If you like a lighter choice of drink, you may enjoy trying some of my favorites.

2
foundersbeer

Founders brews some delicious fruit beers.

Archangel, North Peak Brewing Company, Traverse City – This limited edition beer is only brewed during summer, which makes me a little crazy searching for it down state as it seems to disappear off of shelves much too quickly. It’s a great light wheat made with Traverse City cherries, giving it just a hint of fruity tartness. (Available in bottles)

2

Rubaeus, Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids – Brewed year round, the raspberry-laced Rubaeus now comes in cans, making it even more perfect for summer outings! (Available in bottles and cans)

2

White Devil, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Warren – I have enjoyed this beer for many years and it continues to be one of my local ‘go-to’ beers for a refreshing, light yet tasty liquid indulgence. This Imperial White Ale has a hint of coriander and hop (but it’s not ‘hoppy’ tasting). It’s available year-round in their taproom (on draft) and I heard rumors that bottles are coming soon. (Available on draft; maybe in bottles)

2

Power of Love, Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire – This newly released beer combines a raspberry and rosemary-brewed wheat with lemonade to create a sweet, yet tart taste. (Available in bottles)

2

Sun-Ra American Wheat, Black Lotus Brewery, Clawson – This fun, refreshing wheat beer tastes awesome on the outdoor patio at Black Lotus while indulging in BBQ chicken nachos. Bonus: If you like fruit beers, as obviously I do, Black Lotus also offers a Cherry Poppin’ Wheat that goes down nicely. (Available only on draft)

2

BONUS: Blushing Monk, Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids – Another shout out to Founders for a delicious, refreshing fruit beer. This raspberry-filled beer is part of Founders “Backstage Series” and was last brewed in 2015. (Available in bottles, where you can find it).

2
2

What beers do you enjoy drinking during warm months?

 

Gratitude Project – week 2 February 14, 2016

Week 2  of my Gratitude Project ended yesterday. I’ve discovered a fun part of doing this project is that I have a lot to be grateful for – from my health to my family, friends, coworkers and kind strangers to my education and so much more. I already knew I was fortunate for so much in my life, but this has been a good reminder to enjoy each day and not become a bystander in your own life.

2

What are you grateful for today?

2
 

Go back in time at the Michigan Renaissance Festival September 25, 2015

festivalKids may be back in school and Fall officially started, but there is still plenty to do outside in Michigan’s beautiful weather! And we’re still in the midst of Michigan’s busy festival season. In my quest to be outdoors as much as Mother Nature shares this nice weather, my husband and I decided to check out the Michigan Renaissance Festival this past weekend.

2

The Michigan Renaissance Festival started in 1979 in Clarkston, Mich., but has been hosted in Holly for the past 37 years. Each year the festival welcomes attendees to travel back in time to the 16th century to experience life during this time. A 17-acre village showcases reproductions of Renaissance shops, taverns and a castle. More than 300 artisans display their work. Ongoing entertainment, including full-contact armored jousting, comedy, music, games and more, occur throughout the event days.

2

I haven’t been to the festival years so when I received some free admission tickets, I thought it would be a fun outing. So my husband and I headed north to Holly. The weekend’s theme was Harvest Huzzah, which was perfect for the kickoff of the fall season. Parking is free, which is nice since it’s a bit costly to get into the festival. We were stunned at the size of the crowd! It was much more crowded than either of us remember from the past so it’s obviously gained in popularity. Some people get really into the Renaissance theme – dressing in full costumes from the time period. There are some beautiful, detailed costumes worn by some. We also saw some zombies and a few random people who used the opportunity to dress in outrageous costumes not at all related to the time period. It was entertaining!

2

festivaljoustThere is so much happening throughout the day! With 17 stages, there is ongoing music and entertainment. There are also entertainers wandering through the ‘village,’ including jugglers and people playing period games. A full-armor jousting contest drew a large crowd. There are games, such as archery, toss tomatoes at the insulting jesters, and knife throwing. There is a children’s area filled with age-appropriate games and activities. The marketplace was bustling with activity too. There are many clothing and costume vendors, as well as pretty jewelry, musical instruments, and fun toys for sale. You won’t go hungry, as there are tons of food and drink vendors (including the famous big turkey drumsticks!). You may go broke though, as there are many items to purchase. Plus, we noticed that many (maybe all?) performers pass baskets around to collect ‘donations’ from the crowd.

2

Overall, it was an interesting afternoon. Frankly, it was a bit too crowded for us to really enjoy as we couldn’t wander through the village without being bumped. I’m not sure I’d recommend for small children. I’m glad we experienced it after many years away and it was nice to see so many people having a festive time. It was a beautiful day to spend outdoors with my husband. We ended the adventure with a delicious meal at the Union Woodshop in Clarkston, which serves great barbecue food! We waited about an hour for a table, but the restaurant opened an upstairs bar for waiting patrons. I love their wood smoked pizza.

2

The Michigan Renaissance Festival ends Oct. 4, 2015. That weekend’s theme is Sweet Endings, featuring free samples at the Chocolate Festival, cupcake baking contest, craft beer tasting, many activities for kids and adults, and more.

 

Summertime in Northern Michigan August 7, 2015

MI roadtrip_Summer

We’re so fortunate to have friends in Traverse City. They’re long-time friends of mine who are also fabulous people living in one of my favorite northern Michigan towns. So I was excited to recently make the trek north for a weekend getaway. Besides summertime in northern Michigan is one of the best seasons. Everything seems prettier, more relaxed and fun when you head north for a break from the craziness of working in metro Detroit.

2

LakeMI_HHGJGWe decided to head west toward Grand Rapids on the way so Justin could attend a beer release at Perrin Brewing Company. It was a beautiful Michigan summer day so I was up for the drive and checking out a new brewery. Perrin is located in Comstock Park, just north of downtown Grand Rapids. It seems a little off the beaten path but easy to find. There is a nice selection of beer. I enjoyed Ain’t No Sunshine, a flavorful Belgian ale and their Razzberry Blonde. Justin tried the new release of No Rules, a Vietnamese Porter. I’m not typically a fan of dark beers, but found this to be a smooth, easy drink too. Perrin’s food menu isn’t large but offered enough options, and our choices good.

2

After a relaxing lunch, we headed north to Traverse City. Our friends provided a delicious Mexican themed dinner, then we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and warm weather to visit Empire to swim and watch the sun set over Lake Michigan. On our way, we stopped at Tiffany’s Ice Cream for yummy ice cream! The park was fairly busy when we arrived but we played in a small inland lake across from the Lake Michigan beach, which was very quiet. The water was warm and calm. Justin tried teaching me to skip stones across the water (he’s a pro!). I need some work on this. As the sun started to set, we walked across the parking lot to the beach, set up our chairs and settled in for the show. A group of paddle boarders headed out to enjoy the sunset from the water (Note: we were surprised, and disappointed, to see the lack of safety measures taken by this group. Only one of 12 paddle boarders carried any type of light source. It seemed so unsafe to me. How would someone be found in the dark waters if they needed help?). The sun was beautiful and peaceful on the lake. We happen to be outdoors for the Blue Moon. The moon appeared so large and clear above us. It was fun to watch it on our way home (a little tricky explaining to a four-year-old why it wasn’t blue!).

2

chalkartTC2015The Traverse City Film Festival was occurring this weekend so downtown Traverse City was busier than usual (which is typically pretty busy during summer!). Our first stop was to check out the Chalk Art & Chocolate event happening near the beach. Several artists were set up to draw chalk art along the sidewalks. As a bonus, a few local stores were selling samples of homemade chocolates. Yum! After we walked around the chalk art event, we wandered to the downtown area. Lunch was at 7 Monks Taproom, which serves good food and craft beer. It was a beautiful day to walk off our calories so we wandered through many of the stores along Front Street. My favorite was the Cherry Republic! The new, larger building houses all of their delicious products (chocolate covered cherries, trail mix, salsa, jam and more!), plus a new cafe, tasting bar (wine and soda pop) and ice cream bar. Is it any wonder that it’s one of my favorite stores?

2

Our friends live in a beautiful, quiet area outside of downtown Traverse City, which is perfect to relax in between our activities. You know you’re true friends when you all agree it’s nap time! After a short rest and walk through the neighborhood, we picked up sandwiches and headed to Frankfurt to watch another pretty sunset over Lake Michigan. The wind was a bit brisk this night so I didn’t go in the water. It was another awesome sunset to witness. So thankful for another day on this planet.

2

LakeMI_sunsetThe next morning we decided to squeeze in another quick adventure before we departed. The skies were cloudy but we piled in the car and headed to Cedar for a quick stop (and tasting of course!) at Longview Winery to pick up some of our favorite wines. The clouds sprinkled rain on our way to Leland but we continued on. We realized when we arrived in Leland that we had just missed a big storm. Branches littered the ground and a big tree had toppled onto two cars! Thankfully no one was hurt. The power unfortunately went out shortly after we arrived, however, many stores remained open to visitors. We wandered around the small stores near the harbor. Lunch was at The Cove, where it seemed many people were taking refuge from another incoming storm. From our table on the second floor, we watched the clouds gather over Lake Michigan and the waves increase in size. I was happy to be inside a dry building and not on that lake! I adore Leland. It’s a quaint little town with small stores and friendly people. The charter boats to reach North and South Manitou Islands are found here, as well as plenty of fishing opportunities. Leland, known as Fishtown, still operates as one of the only working commercial fishing villages in Michigan.

2

It was another great weekend in Traverse City and northern Michigan. I’m always so grateful to spend time with our friends and their amusing, sweet little girl. It’s a wonderful reminder of the great state I live in and the special people who fill my life.

2
 

 
%d bloggers like this: