Heather's Hangout

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

Jolly good time at new Jolly Pumpkin location August 6, 2017

CampCaseyHorse

Always stop to greet a horse

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a private sneak peek of the new Jolly Pumpkin location in Royal Oak. The event benefited Camp Casey, a local horseback riding program for children and teens with cancer. Horses, craft beer, good food and a good cause. It was a winning night all around!

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I’m excited to have a Jolly Pumpkin location in Royal Oak. I love the other locations (Traverse City, Detroit and Ann Arbor. There’s a tap room in Dexter, but I’ve yet to visit.). The location remains at the site of Bastone Brewery and Vinotecca, on the corner of Fifth and Main in downtown Royal Oak. The interior has been renovated – still the same open concept but more rustic and natural, similar to the other Jolly Pumpkin locations (particularly Traverse City, which is my favorite); the bar is now in the center of the area; and it’s a larger space since they took over Vinotecca’s space.

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Camp Casey had the brilliant idea to bring their well-branded truck and horse trailer, along with one of their Hero Herd horses, to the event. Parked in front of Jolly Pumpkin, a steady stream of people stopped to pet the pretty Queen B and learn about the organization. And, of course, I had to stop to greet my four-legged friend and the volunteers (I am a past board member of Camp Casey, and an equine therapist for the organization). My girlfriend sloooowly pulled me away from the horse so we could check out the restaurant.

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My friend and I snagged an open table shortly after arriving, a good spot near the front to check out the restaurant and of course people-watch. Our donation got us a beer and plenty of delicious food. There was a nice buffet available highlighting some of the menu choices. I loved the various flatbread pizzas, and while I’m not usually a mac-and-cheese fan, I really liked theirs! The steak bites and pasta were also good. I’m looking forward to trying more of their food menu.

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This Jolly Pumpkin serves craft beer from Jolly Pumpkin (do I need to write “of course?”),

JollyPumpkinmenu

Many craft beers to choose.

North Peak and Bastone’s. I heard that they will serve rotating beers from other breweries. They also have ciders, wines (I saw several Michigan wineries listed) and cocktails (many sounded delicious!). A nice variety of choices!

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Bastone Brewery moved into the Monk Beer Abbey space along Fifth Street. You can still access it from Jolly Pumpkin. I liked the interior update and the menu also looked good (they are focusing on Belgian food and brews).

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The location opens Monday, Aug. 7 to the public. With Jolly Pumpkin’s good reputation and the location, this will be a popular spot.

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The best date June 25, 2017

Filed under: Random Travels & Exploring — Heather @ 8:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
BT_plane62017

This pilot can’t quite see over the controls!

I admit it’s been a long time since I’ve gone on a date that truly excites me. It’s been some time since I’ve sat across from a guy who likes me as much as I like him, or vice versa. Dating isn’t easy, especially when you have a good idea of what you want, and, maybe more importantly don’t want, in a relationship.

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So it was a fun, refreshing outing today with…..my handsome, funny, goofy, smart, talkative nephew. 🙂 (sorry, family, for the tease.) I try to take my nieces and nephew on outings throughout the year, and also try to spend time on individual activities. It was my 8-year-old nephew’s turn so I picked him up for a special date. I love exploring the outdoors and being active with the kids. You may have read my other blog posts about our previous adventures in the woods, geocaching and more. I decided today we would explore the outdoors in the city…..we headed to downtown Detroit to wander through the Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center.

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I visited the Outdoor Adventure Center a few years ago when it first opened (read the

HH_Smokeybear62017

Learning how to keep forests safe.

blog), and it was BT’s first visit, so I looked forward to it. Plus, it was a gorgeous summer day, which added to my plan to walk Detroit’s riverfront after the center.

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The Outdoor Adventure Center basically brings all of Michigan’s awesome outdoor fun indoors to the city for residents and visitors to learn about and explore. There are hands-on activities, exhibits and simulators. There are also tons of interesting facts throughout the center to learn about Michigan’s outdoors, as well as protecting the environment in general. It’s fun for all ages!

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We checked out some live fish, relaxed in a yurt, “reeled in” a walleye and pike from a fishing boat (great simulator!), walked through a mine shaft, and wandered behind an indoor waterfall (Michigan has more than 150 waterfalls!). We laid down in a small tent to discuss the pros and cons of sleeping in a tent and what happens if it rains, then I watched BT climb a tree and slide down. We discussed the awesome ability of beavers to build such cool dams, and I delighted at his laugh upon seeing a hibernating bear inside of a den.

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HH_BTDetroit252017

Eek! Black bear behind us!

He loved the second floor of the center, where there are numerous hands-on activities and simulators. We discussed recycling and energy conversation inside a small mock kitchen and bathroom. Then we tested each other on the sounds of various frogs and birds. He refused to hold my hand across a suspension bridge (um, I wanted it for MY comfort) but did sweetly come back when I was mid-way to “help me.” He piloted a very small plane used by the DNR to monitor hunting and trapping, and I discovered I might stick with commercial airlines for a while!

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We kicked butt as a team in a hunting game, and I almost bounced out of a dune buggy that he drove (seriously, wear a seat belt!)! His huge smile while driving a snow mobile warmed my heart, and he actually congratulated me when I barely won a mountain bike race (he can be a little competitive). On the third floor, we talked about bald eagles, climbing trees and protecting nature.

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Back on the first floor, we sat around the campfire again while we discussed our next

HH_BTDetroit62017

Love our time together!

plan. With a decision made, we grabbed some sunscreen, snacks and water from my car and headed to the river. I love walking Detroit’s riverfront! Much work and improvements have been done over the past few years. Many people were using the ride share bikes, as well as sitting on benches and standing along the railing. We wandered a bit, then found a shady spot along the river to eat our snacks, watch the many boats coast by and talk. We discussed summer vacation plans, third grade, his book recommendations for me, when I might get married, Canada, birds, the Coast Guard’s duties, sailboats, Corvettes, his dog, my favorite candy, why I don’t like sour Skittles and much, much more. I truly have an adorable, charming, silly, sweet, intelligent, fun nephew (I’m not being partial, it’s the truth!).

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I knew the day was a success when, as we walked along the river front, BT took my hand and shared how much fun he had with me. And then added with his charming smirk, “My sisters are going to be pretty jealous.” Ah, yes, a successful day.

 

A few miles at a time reaches a goal April 9, 2017

bikeshoesGarminbottleSometimes our good intentions go….a little unplanned. For instance, I had plans to get up with the sun today, after a rainy, dreary week, to be on the bike trails so I could ride some good miles. However, those good intentions didn’t go as planned because I wrenched my back yesterday and could hardly move by the time I went to bed.

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So I woke up, iced my still hurting back, drank a cup of coffee and watched the beautiful sun rise in the clear, blue sky. And took some Motrin, rub a cream on my lower back and put on my biking clothes. I thought I could ‘just try it.’ If my back hurt too much on the bike, I promised myself I would stop. And instead of the planned 20-30 miles, I set a goal of five. Instead of the bike trail, I stayed closer to home in case it got too uncomfortable.

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You know what? My back felt great! I cruised through a new neighborhood I recently discovered, enjoying the early morning hour that kept the streets fairly quiet. My body felt so good that my Garmin registered 10 miles before I knew it. I decided not to push my luck and headed home. Off the bike, I was pretty sore so I showered, iced my back again, stretched, ran errands, ate lunch….and decided to head back out on the bike because my back was feeling a little better and had felt fine on the bike.

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So I rode another 10 miles. This time was a bit more difficult as the wind had kicked up Rubybikeso it took more energy and effort to get the miles done. But I did it. I got home, stretched my legs and back, iced my back. I relaxed, read some of my current book, talked with friends….and got back on my bike. This time I did stick with five miles! And admittedly, the five miles might have pushed my back a little too much. I’m pretty tight and sore tonight.

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But I’m proud that I was still able to hit my mileage goal. It was a good lesson of breaking down a larger goal into smaller, manageable goals. It was also a good reminder that we need to listen to our body as to what we’re able to do, be happy with what we can accomplish, and not beat ourselves up if we don’t quite hit the original goal.

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I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and accomplished whatever goal you set!

 

Riding into spring April 2, 2017

HHBike32017It was a long, physically tiring week. I pushed my leg (with a titanium rod) too much and the days of rain didn’t help. I felt exhausted enough that I assured my body a weekend of rest if I could get through it. And I had very good intentions to honor that assurance. Except then I didn’t. Because it was SO beautiful this weekend! Sunshine, warm temps, no rain, soft breezes. How can a nature lover be expected to stay indoors and not be active?? I needed some fresh air to clear my mind anyway.

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And Ruby needed some loving. Um, yes, Ruby my bike. It’s been a few weeks since we shared a ride so today seemed like a wonderful day to get fresh air, test Ruby’s gears, and stretch my legs. The great news is that despite my leg aching all week (I mostly blame this on the ongoing rain and chilly temps, not the heavy lifting), it felt fine while riding. No pain, no ache. And I didn’t completely beat myself up….I stuck with a shorter ride of 10 miles. I didn’t even wear my cycling shoes so there wouldn’t be any pressure on my leg when I unclipped from the pedal (although my brain must be wired to clip now when I ride Ruby because I caught myself doing the motions every time I came to a stop! I’m sure I looked funny to passing cars).

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I recently discovered a nearby neighborhood and school are great for biking. The school is empty on the weekend and has a large parking lot and straightaway so I like to do some loops as I practice higher speeds, turning quickly and clipping/unclippping (not today). The neighborhood is usually fairly low on traffic, which makes it safer for biking. It was wonderful to see so many people outside enjoying Michigan’s spring weather. Neighbors were doing yard work, children were playing basketball and riding bikes, dogs were lounging on the lawn. I love this time of year when people start venturing outdoors and become a community again.

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It’s supposed to rain again this week so I’ll be sure to give my body some rest time. As long as Mother Nature doesn’t change her mind……

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What fun activity did you enjoy this weekend?

 

Kicking off my best year ever January 2, 2017

hh_2017Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful start to this new year. I celebrated with some great friends and also reconnected with old friends.

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I’m excited and ready for 2017! As I wrote in my previous blog post, I’m keeping my goals simple yet personal. I already feel like I’m on the right path, especially in finding happiness and health. It was a beautiful sunny, not quite balmy but not quite bitter cold day yesterday, on January 1, the first day of the new year (my best year ever keep in mind!). So what did I do? Went on a bike ride of course! It seemed like the perfect start to this year that will be filled with fun and sunshine.

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It was a pretty easy decision to go on a ride. My road bike has been sitting sadly in the corner while it snowed, rained or was just blah winter weather outside. The snow melted enough that the roads were clear. The sun shone. The air was a crispy 37 degrees. But the outdoors and my bike beckoned. So I simply bundled up, pumped up my tires, charged the Garmin and headed out. Glorious decision. I caught myself smiling ear to ear by the end of the drive. Me, biking outside in Michigan on Jan. 1. So grateful. My plan had been a quick ride, maybe five miles, just to enjoy the fresh air and the feel of my muscles riding. Five miles turned to seven, then 10, then a little more.

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And the first day of my best year ever ended with my Detroit Lions making the playoffs. Okay, I know we didn’t win last night’s game, but let’s be thankful for what we have. And the Super Bowl hasn’t been decided yet!

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I welcomed 2017 with open arms and an open heart. I have big plans for this year. So far, it’s been a great start. How did you start the new year?

 

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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

A few lessons from the bike November 27, 2016

handlebars

Let’s get this ride started!

I can’t believe I’m writing this but…..I went biking today. Outdoors. It’s the end of November in Michigan and I’m biking outdoors. I love it! The reason I’m so surprised is because usually by this time of year I’ve retired my bike for the season, exercising indoors until the snow and ice melt. But Mother Nature has been nice to us this year. The sun is shining and it’s a nippy 45 degrees.

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I physically pushed myself today so am feeling doubly happy for the bike ride. I first attended a cycling class this morning at the local Cyclebar (more on this experience at a later date). These classes are intense, sweaty and fun! An hour of this fast-paced spin class burns my legs, and usually causes my knee to be a bit tender. But I walked in with the mindset that I would be going on a bike ride later in the day. So when I got home from Cyclebar, I changed, made a quick protein-packed lunch, rested my knee for about 30 minutes, then headed out.

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On a previous walk, I discovered a neighborhood close to me that is fairly quiet with not much traffic. I headed here and was again pleased with the very few cars that I encountered. Once I clocked a few miles, my legs loosened up and my body felt good (I may have been numb from the cold? Ha). For as tired as my legs had felt starting out, I oddly clocked some of my fastest miles. Maybe the cold motivated me. Or the simple pleasure of being on my bike.

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Some friends ask why I bike so much alone since I purchased my new road bike. For one thing, there has been great mental freedom and relaxation for me to bike alone. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air, the strength of my cancer-surviving body, and clear my mind. It’s been a year filled with new challenges for me as I transition into a new chapter of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happier in this new life, but I’ve still needed to let go of sadness and hurt, build my confidence, and think about the new paths I’ll be taking. Being outdoors helps me so much. However, I enjoy biking with others and also know I need to get used to biking in a group on longer and harder rides. I’ll get there. But since I bought my bike so late in the year/season, I feel it’s a great opportunity to get comfortable with my road bike and new pedals. I know I need to build confidence in myself and my ability to ride the bike – yes, it’s a physical comfort but ultimately for me, it’s a mental comfort.

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In biking alone the past few weeks, I’ve been able to pay close attention to my body and the bike. It’s been helpful to have this time to make adjustments and learn. For instance, here are a few lessons that I’ve recently learned:

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I am finally feeling comfortable with the new clip pedals, which is a great accomplishment as I didn’t think it would happen! I sometimes am startled to realize that I unclipped from the pedals without thinking as I come to a stop. And then I smile.

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I’ve discovered that I am much more comfortable turning right and taking tight right turns. I’m sure this is from being less confident in my left leg with the titanium rod and knee. So I found an empty parking lot and a cul-de-sac where I circled left again and again and again and….well, you get it. First, I circled with my left foot unclipped from the pedal in case I wobbled, then after about 20 circles, I clipped in and kept practicing. I feel pretty good about left turns now!

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I notice that I use my brakes too much on turns and downhill. I’m not talking about when I’m going really fast and need to slow down (because I’ve also learned that I need to have more confidence in my ability to be safe and fast), but kind of all the time. So today I made myself ignore the brakes a few times and, guess what? I survived the turns and the downhill ride on the way home.

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All of these lessons will add up to more confidence in myself, which will lead to more exciting times on my bike. And who knows? Maybe today wasn’t the last bike ride of the year for me. That thought excites me!

 

 
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