Heather's Hangout

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

When bowling and football collide April 16, 2017

SamM_HHfowling42017A friend recently invited me to join a group of people to play fowling. I had heard of this activity but never played or seen it in action. I was interested in checking it out.

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What’s fowling (pronounced FOE-ling)? It’s a football bowling pin game. Fowling was invented by some guys right here in metro Detroit. It involves the traditional set up of 10 bowling pins on a flat plywood board. Another set of pins is placed about 48 feet apart, then you take turns throwing a football from your board to your opponent’s board, trying to be the first to knock down all of your pins.

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It turns into chaotic fun. And it’s not as easy as you think (although I didn’t think it was going to be easy at all!). The ball, which is much lighter than the pins, may hit the board, floor or wall (or person!) at an odd angle, causing it to bounce around. Sometimes it hits the pins, sometimes it hits the person standing near the board (I have a bruise on my thigh as proof). If the ball bounces and then knocks the pins down, that counts. And if another team’s ball bounces (from another lane) and knocks the pins down, it counts. If you go to grab the ball and accidentally knock a pin down, it counts (I thankfully didn’t do this but saw it happen a few times). So it got pretty comical watching people grab at or try to deflect a bouncing football.

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We played at the HUB Stadium (which stands for House of Urban Bowling) in Auburnfowlingpins Hills. I noticed on their website that they call the activity bombowling (fowling by another name). There are 16 lanes, which were consistently busy. A full menu and two bars, plus space for private parties made for a very busy place.

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The guy that originally coined the fowling term and established the rules opened The Fowling Warehouse in Hamtramck. There is no food onsite but they allow outside food, and have a full bar. Several people mentioned they also have been to this location and enjoyed the large space to play.

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The game was a lot of fun and I definitely would play again. It would be a great tailgate, camping or outdoor game. Have you been fowling?

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A love for Detroit sports March 8, 2017

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Fun at the Detroit Pistons game!

If you’re a sports fan, living in metro Detroit is a good thing. You have your pick of professional sports teams and a host of collegiate teams. There’s no promise that any of these teams will be great all the time (or at all) but you at least get the enjoyment of having a home team to cheer on during games. I know there are many cities that have team spirit but there is nothing quite like being part of Detroit’s love of our teams.

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My dad was a big sports fan (although he often complained of the huge salaries that professional players receive). My sisters and I grew up to be fans of the Detroit Red Wings, Tigers, Lions and Pistons. And we were not raised to be ‘fair-weather fans.’ No, we stand beside our teams even through the most painful, defeating games and seasons (and we’ve faced many of those with certain teams!). My childhood memories are filled with mental images of listening to the Lions and Tigers’ games in the garage with my dad, driving home from the cider mill on a Sunday afternoon while the Lions’ game played on the radio, and staying up past bedtime to watch the Bad Boys win another basketball playoff game. My parents often hosted football watching parties. My grandmother was a diehard Red Wings fan and could spout statistics more accurately and faster than most sportscasters. When I finished chemo and during recovery of my second leg surgery, many of my dad’s colleagues and business partners had season tickets to the Red Wings and Pistons so my younger sister and I could often be found at these games.

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So it’s with a little nostalgia that I recognize that two of our sports stadiums are closing after their current seasons. The Detroit Red Wings will leave  Joe Louis Arena and the Detroit Pistons will end their season at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Both teams will be moving to the new Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.

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Awesome Red Wings game!

I was lucky to take in a final game at each location before the end. My friend and I attended a great Wings’ game a few weeks ago, with an exciting win during an overtime shootout. It was his first game at the Joe and my last. The Joe holds many memories for me. My sisters and I have attended many hockey games, concerts and other entertainment shows at this iconic stadium. I recall being on crutches and hiking up the outdoors stairs. I remember hugging strangers when the Wings made the playoffs one season.

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A few days ago, my niece and I attended a Pistons game at the Palace. It was her first time at a Pistons game and my last game at this stadium. And guess what? The Pistons won! It was actually a pretty exciting game. The Palace too holds lots of fun memories of sports games, concerts, Disney on Ice shows, and many other entertainment shows. I smile when I think of all the memories that I have from this place, many with my family.

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While our memories will soon end at these longtime stadiums, I also remember Tiger Stadium before Comerica Park and the Silverdome that came before Ford Field. So I know that all of us Detroit sports fans will get used to the new stadium, as we did the ones that we’re leaving when they were shiny new locations (my true hope is that the cities won’t let these huge buildings fall to disrepair and gloom as the other stadiums have sadly become). Unfortunately, neither of these Detroit teams are ending their current seasons very well. We can only hope that the new stadium will bring much good luck to them, and all of their fans. Because that, my friends, is the spirit of Detroit. I look forward to the fun memories to come.

 

Penguins, butterflies and giraffes, oh my! October 1, 2016

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Sorry, but I couldn’t help it. Every time I enter the gates of the Detroit Zoo, I think of that scene in Wizard of Oz. Although my recent visit to the zoo should have included a chant of ‘penguins, butterflies and giraffes, oh yes!’

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Inside the underwater tunnel.

It was a beautiful, sunny day during my recent visit to the 125-acre Detroit Zoo. Home to more than 2,400 animals, the zoo has a new penguin center and baby giraffe, which were my main interests of the day.

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There is much to see at the Detroit Zoo. You can meander through the paths to view animals in various habitats or pick and choose your path (maps and signage help direct you to specific points of interest). Since there were several in our group that day, we each voiced one attraction we hoped to see. Happily for me, everyone also wanted to view the penguins and baby giraffe.

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We were given a time slot to visit the penguin center when we purchased tickets so that was the first stop on our visit (I was told that timed-entry is only on weekends right now). This new center is 33,000 square feet, with a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area. Plenty of clear glass allows you to watch more than 80 penguins swim, eat, snooze and play. I find penguins cute, and interesting to watch them interact with each other, swim and waddle around. As you walk through the penguin center, a path takes you to the ‘deck’ of a ship where awesome 4-D video makes you feel as if you’re crossing Antarctic waters. Once you leave the ship area, you can enter an underwater gallery with two acrylic tunnels to watch the penguins swim above and around you. It’s very cool!

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So many pretty ones.

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Once we left the arctic, we entered the balmy Butterfly Garden. Home to thousands of butterflies, representing more than 25 species, the beautiful gardens are maintained at 75 degrees to ensure optimal flora growth and butterfly activity. And active these butterflies were that day! It was fun to watch them take flight throughout the gardens.It’s funny my human instinct to duck when something flies at your head, even a harmless, lightweight butterfly. To enter the Butterfly Garden, you walk through one door, wait for it to close, then go through another door. This ensures that any butterfly that happens to slip past the first door can be caught and returned to the garden area. Which was a good setup to have as a large pretty one landed on my leg as I was walking out. Thankfully someone spotted it before I went too far and, with the help of the docent, we returned it safely to the garden.

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An adorable ‘little’ girl.

I was so tickled to walk up to the giraffe habitat and immediately spot the ‘little’ female giraffe (born in August). She’s adorable! She walked around the enclosure several times, often stopping to check out all of us humans smiling and taking pictures of her. The zoo added an elevated viewing platform several years ago, making it easy to get almost eye level with the largest mammal in the world. Some interesting giraffe facts (courtesy of the Detroit Zoo): Giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in the neck as a human (there are only seven bones in its neck); a giraffe’s heart can weigh up to 25 pounds (an adult human heart weighs about 10 ounces), and giraffes sleep about 20 minutes each day.

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There were many other animals to watch, from gorillas to polar bears to red pandas to kangaroos to zebras. It’s a good time of year to visit these animals as the cooler weather often provides a more active viewing opportunity. It was a great day to be outdoors and learn about the conservation efforts of the zoo and the many animals living in metro Detroit.

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Fall hours begin today, 10am-4pm. Keep in mind that the zoo doesn’t sell bottled water (in a cool effort to reduce plastic waste) – you can bring your own or purchase a reusable bottle at the concession stands.

 

Exploring outdoor spots in metro Detroit September 5, 2016

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My ‘deer’ friend hiked with me!

It’s always a little amusing to me when so many people complain that Labor Day weekend is the ‘end of summer.’ The end of the summer season doesn’t actually occur until fall starts at the end of September (Sept. 22 this year). And while I understand that teachers and students must return to work and the classroom, those activities do not mean it’s the end of summer for everyone.

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Since the end of summer doesn’t happen for a few more weeks (and Mother Nature appears to agree since Michigan is expecting temps in the upper 80s this week), I have enjoyed being active in the outdoors as much as possible this long holiday weekend, and I plan to continue to be as long as I can through the upcoming weeks.

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It never ceases to amaze me how being outdoors can change one’s mental and physical outlook. I can feel the tension and other stress fall from my shoulders when I step into the woods or pedal on my bike. I soak in the breeze on my skin and listen to the voices of nature. For example, I felt a bit sluggish yesterday when my alarm sounded and I considered enjoying another hour of sleep. But that would mean skipping a hike with a new group of friends. So I kicked the covers off and headed to the trail. And I felt a sudden burst of energy and positive attitude as I stood ready at the trailhead. I was so happy to be outdoors.

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I found all of this fun at local parks and trails. We’re so fortunate to have some great locations throughout metro Detroit. I thought I’d share these recent spots in case you’re looking for a push to get outdoors too.

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Macomb Orchard Trail, Shelby Township: This is one of my favorite biking trails. The 24-mile paved trail has less intersections to stop your pace or distract you with vehicles. It is popular for biking, walking, running and even rollerblading so I like to be on the trail early. I usually pick up the trail at 24 Mile/Dequindre (park at the ice arena), then head east. I love that the further you ride, the more countryside you ride through with trees, orchards, dairy farms and crop fields.

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Maybury State Park, Northville: This almost 1,000-acre state park has some great wooded and gently rolling hiking trails. Some of the bike and horse trails intersect with the hiking trails so do pay attention to trail signs. There also is a paved bike path, fishing pond, and horse stable (you can rent trail horses). Be thoughtful if you encounter horses – no yelling or fast movements to spook these awesome animals. You do need a recreation passport or to purchase a day pass.

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Stage Nature Center, Troy: This 100-acre park is located close to my home so these trails have become my go-to whenever I need a quick ‘nature pick me up’ (read my previous blog post about this location). The trails are relatively short so I usually loop several times to hit any significant distance. But I like this location as it’s rarely busy when I’m there, I often encounter deer and other wildlife, and I feel comfortable hiking alone.

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In my encounters with other people this past weekend, I learned of some new outdoor spots for me to check out so stay tuned! Did you get outdoors this holiday weekend? If so, where did you go?

 

Making my own MOD Pizza September 2, 2016

ModpizzaA friend recently asked me if I had tried MOD pizza. I wondered if this was a new style of pizza that I was not hip to. I’m not really into fancy or weird pizza. I just like good ‘ol fashion simple pizza.

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He soon clarified that MOD Pizza is a new restaurant near us. He described it as “Subway style ordering” for pizza. Once he mentioned it, I suddenly was craving pizza (don’t you hate when that happens?!) so decided to check it out.

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MOD (meaning “made on demand”) is a restaurant that started in Seattle and has spread across the country via franchises. It was fairly busy when I first arrived at the new location, which was a good sign to me that people like the food.

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There are three different sizes of pizza – Mady, MOD and mega (prices range from $4.47-10.47). I like that the crust is thin (gluten-free crust is also available) and the pizza is wood-fired. Once you choose your size, you can choose your choices of sauce, cheese and toppings. There are lots of choices! The crazy thing is that you can choose as few or as many ingredients and the price doesn’t change. So many other pizza restaurants charge extra for multiple toppings and consider some, like chicken, as premium.

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If you don’t want to think about the many ingredients you might want on your pizza, there are specialty options, such as the Jasper, Caspian and Mad Dog. You can add or subtract ingredients from these pizzas, at no extra charge. MOD also serves salads (again that you can choose from specialty or create your own) and breadsticks.

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There is room to dine in or you can get your food to go. If you dine in, you can order from a small menu of beer and wine, plus a variety of non-alcoholic drinks and milkshakes. I ordered my pizza to go and was a bit concerned it would take a while to cook since there were so many others waiting in front of me. However, my pizza was ready after a few minutes of waiting (as a bonus, I met a really nice woman who chatted with me during our wait!).

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Most importantly, my pizza was delicious. I liked my choice of toppings and look forward to trying a different mix next time I’m hungry for pizza. Have you checked out MOD Pizza? If so, what did you think?

 

Yoga, good food and great conversations August 27, 2016

My friend recently invited a few women to enjoy a relaxing day of yoga, food and friendship. I’m always up for that type of adventure so looked forward to the outing.

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She invited us to first meet at Namaste Yoga in Royal Oak. Some of the women had not previously practiced yoga so we opted for an essential hatha yoga class, which is gentle and relaxing. I enjoy taking yoga classes and probably should go more often. It’s a nice compliment to the strength training, hiking, biking, Zumba and other cardio that I participate in on a regular basis. Yoga helps me stretch tight muscles, strengthen my core, and relax my mind (or try to relax my mind as I can never quite shut the thoughts off! Can you?).

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yogamatblocksThis was my first visit to Namaste Yoga. It’s a small studio located on Troy Street, a block from the public parking lot adjacent to the farmer’s market building. That day, the meters and pay station were covered in the lot so I took it as a sign I was meant to be there and appreciated the free parking! Linda, the owner, was very welcoming when we arrived. I instantly felt like the entire ambiance of the studio is relaxed and friendly.

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Just past the lobby area is a large studio, with a smaller room attached to that. One of the walls is full of windows so lots of natural light flowed into the room. Some people prefer to practice yoga in a dimly lit setting but I actually liked the natural light. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny summer morning, which makes me appreciate nature even more. So a great setting for grounding myself in yoga! Namaste has yoga mats, blocks, bands, blankets and other accessories if needed. The instructor encouraged all of us to move at our own pace and modify when necessary. The class was a great way to start our morning.

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After yoga we were all hungry! My friend suggested a favorite place of hers – GreenSpace Cafe in Ferndale. I love trying new places so was game. GreenSpace is a plant-based restaurant and bar. Their food contains no GMOs, preser­v­a­tives, processed foods or animal products, and they don’t use microwaves or fry­ers. They even serve “conscious cocktails” made with fruits and greens. The restaurant was founded by a local cardiologist and his family. I was pretty intrigued by this point.

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GreenSpace’s ambiance is natural, chic and relaxed. I’m a sucker for the natural wood/outdoorsy decor so I felt comfortable right away (don’t judge, I like the outdoors!). The cocktail menu was interesting – elderflower, carrot juice, watermelon juice, lemongrass-infused vodka, and lavender syrup are some of the ingredients that make up a fun list of tasty drinks.

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We started with the cheese board and farmer’s board. The ‘cheeses’ are made with cashews prepared several different ways (smoked, etc.). I definitely was curious as to what cashew cheese tasted like and will share that it was all very tasty. I ordered the quinoa lentil burger, which was delicious and filled me up! My friends ordered a variety of dishes – tomatillo gazpacho soup, caesar salad, sandwiches and bowls. We all declared our food choices as successes and decided we would return to try more of the menu!

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I’ve had so much happening in my life the past few months, a divorce, house hunting, work, health appointments and more, that I didn’t realize how much I needed some fun, relaxing girl time until I spread my yoga mat, sat down and looked at the girlfriends surrounding me. As we whispered and giggled before the start of class, I could feel the stress seep out of me. It made me remember that part of life is recognizing and embracing the wonderful, kind, loving people who show up exactly when you need them. I am blessed to have such people in my life and grateful for the opportunities to make memories with them.

 

Made in Michigan event showcases local products and businesses May 7, 2016

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Homemade soap and scrub

There are so many reasons to love Michigan! Good food, wine, beer, home goods, people, parks and more! Yes, I’m probably partial since I’m a proud Michigander, but I’m sure you’ll agree once you try all that the state has to offer to residents and visitors.

The annual Made in Michigan show, running through today in downtown Mount Clemens (in Macomb County), is a great opportunity to check out some of the Michigan-based companies that produce Michigan-made items. All products featured are grown, manufactured, assembled or made in the mitten state.

I’m a big proponent of supporting Michigan businesses so was happy when my mom invited me to attend with her yesterday. We checked out the many vendors selling a variety of products, ranging from food, beauty care, clothing, yard items, art, jewelry and more. Some of my favorite vendors include Grandma Luckey’s delicious garden herb dressing, Enchanted Oak Alpaca Farm’s handmade natural body items, and VP’s Yard Art.

There are several small businesses throughout downtown Mount Clemens that offer some nice shopping experiences. We decided to stop at Bath City Bistro for dinner. The local restaurant has a diverse array of food items on the menu, including many salads, sandwiches, calzones and appetizers.

The Made in Michigan event continues through today, Saturday, May 7, from 10am-6pm. A band, Music Messengers, perform 1-6pm. There is no charge for the event.

What are some of your favorite Michigan-made products?

 

 
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