Grilling Tips from LongHorn Steakhouse {+ Gift Card Giveaway} ENDS 7/14

This post is sponsored by LongHorn Steakhouse. All opinions expressed are my own.

You guys. When people email me about food, I listen intently. Mention pizza, steak or ribs, and you will really have my attention, which is why I am excited to share some fun tips from LongHorn Steakhouse and offer the chance for one of you to win some fun swag!

Grilling Tips from LongHorn Steakhouse

First the tips, a few of which are totally new to me. I can’t wait to put these to work this summer.

5 Summer Grilling Tips from LongHorn Steakhouse’s Executive Chefs 

  • Boldly season. Don’t be shy when seasoning your steak! Go bold, like we do at LongHorn. For an at-home rub, try “The Big 4” – salt, pepper, granulated onion powder and granulated garlic powder.
  • Sear-in diamond marks. Searing locks in flavor, as well as creates those great grill marks synonymous with summer. Grill your steak for 2-3 minutes on one side, then give it a quarter turn. Flip and repeat.
  • Test for doneness. You can test for doneness two ways. First, with a meat thermometer. Steaks should be at minimum 120-130 degrees if you like it rare, and up to 170 degrees, if you prefer your steak well-done. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can estimate doneness with your hand. Start with an open, relaxed palm. Using your other hand, touch the smooth area directly under your thumb. That’s how a rare steak should feel when you touch it with your tongs. Touch your thumb and forefinger; that’s medium. Thumb and middle finger is medium-well and thumb and pinky is well-done.
  • Handle with tongs. Only use tongs to touch your meat. Poking with a fork to rotate or pull it from the grill will let the juices and flavor out.
  • Give it a rest. Make sure you let your steaks and other proteins rest for 2-3 minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to settle back into the meat, resulting in optimal flavor.

[Read more…]

Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in July 2015 {Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing Areas}

My oh my it’s just about JULY! Summer is already flying, eh? There are tons of fab events happening this month, with of course — many surrounding the 4th of July holiday. Take a peek at what’s coming up for family fun in Southeast Michigan in July 2015 including fun in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Lansing and surrounding areas, and be sure to mention what you’re up to this month in the comments!

Family Fun in Southeast Michigan in July 2015

July 1-4 – Salute to America in Greenfield Village {Dearborn} – A classic Independence Day celebration with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra that features authentic cannon fire and a spectacular fireworks display accompanied by live patriotic music. Event held rain or shine, just make sure to get tickets in advance! Adults 13+: $25, Youth 5-12: $15.50, children under 5 are free.

July 3-12 – Oakland County Fair {Davisburg} – Grandstand events, contests, fair food, Big Rock Amusements Carnival, fireworks, free live concerts and MORE! Fair parking is $10/vehicle.

July 3, July 17, July 31 – Movies Under The Stars {Howell – City Park} –Watch your favorite big screen flicks under the stars at Howell City Park. Bring your sleeping bags, lawn chairs, favorite blanket, bug spray, picnic dinner, and family and enjoy the show. Movies start at dusk {typically between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.}. Concessions available, otherwise FREE. July 3 – Paddington, July 17 – Frozen Sing-a-long, July 31 – Planes: Fire and Rescue.

July 4 – Salvation Army’s 50% off Clothing Day {Metro Detroit} – This is my absolute favorite day to hit up SalArmy for awesome deals. All metro Detroit, Washtenaw and Livingston County stores will be participating. Get there right at 7 a.m. for the best items.

July 4 – Independence Day at Cobblestone Farm {Ann Arbor} – Celebrate the tradition of our country’s freedom with nineteenth century activities. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the shade. Admission: Adults – $2, seniors – $1.50, kids – $1, 3 and under free, or family for $5.

July 4 – Independence Celebration at Crossroads Village {Flint} – Three cheers for the red, white and blue!  Celebrate the holiday with all kinds of fun and games including an exciting carnival midway!  Then take a break and enjoy our annual old-fashioned ice cream social. Adults – $10, children – $8, children 2 and under free.

July 4 – Maybury State Park Fishing Derby {Northville} – Children 17 and younger are invited out with their tackle box and pole to this annual catch-and-release derby. Prizes awarded for largest fish and most caught. FREE, but a recreation passport is required for entry to the park.

July 4 – Independence Fest {Clarkston} – This event features fun activities and a parade for the whole family. Parking and shuttle fees.

July 4 – Slide the City {Ann Arbor} – Embrace your inner child and get ready for the slide of your life! Slide the City is bringing the biggest water party of the summer to Ann Arbor. Grab your swimsuit and speed down to this one of a kind 600′ slip and slide. There will be music, dancing, food, drinks, and swag for sale. $40-$45 for late registration.Slide the City

July 4 – Ann Arbor Jaycees 4th of July Parade and Bike Decorating Contest for Children {Ann Arbor} – This annual parade starts at 10 a.m. FREE.

July 4 and July 9-12 – Concert of Colors {Detroit} – This popular Detroit event features ethnic tunes, food, arts, crafts and family fun at multiple Midtown Detroit venues. FREE.

July 4 – Home Depot Kid’s Workshop {Nationwide} – Learn how to build a Minions scooter at this hands-on workshops; designed for children ages 5 – 12. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin while supplies last. Register online in advance. FREE. [Read more…]

Quick Family Trip Idea: Holland, Michigan

Lake Michigan in Holland

We had a blast the other day checking out Holland, Michigan. It had been years since I had been and I couldn’t wait to go back.

Because Lake Michigan. Because great shopping and restaurants. Because TONS to do for families.

Unfortunately, shaky weather forced us to change some plans last-minute, but as we told the kids, “As long as we’re together, we’ll have fun,” and we were so right!

I won’t sugar coat it — going anywhere for a night with three little ones is a LOT of work. I felt like I packed for a week, knowing darn well we’d go through snacks and extra clothes like water. And we sure did.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which was a great hotel with an indoor pool and game room. It was a bit of a drive into town, but worked out great. The 15 minute drive to the beach worked great for power naps for my little guy.

The first tourist destination we checked out {super close to our hotel} was Nelis’ Dutch Village, which is definitely a must for anyone with little kids. Our littles enjoyed the petting farm, carousel, pedal cars, dutch dancing and more – all included in the admission price {$9 for kids 3 and under and $11 for adults}.

Dutch Village Play Area

How fun is this play structure for kiddos? [Read more…]

Inside Out Movie Review

I attended a media sneak peek of Inside Out. All opinions expressed below belong to me.

Inside Out

Do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head?

Disney•Pixar’s latest movie, Inside Out, explores that question with the help of some adorable characters – Joy {Amy Poehler}, Fear {Bill Hader}, Anger {Lewis Black}, Disgust {Mindy Kaling} and Sadness {Phyllis Smith}.

When lead character 11-year-old Riley is uprooted from Minnesota to San Francisco, her emotions are running high. These ’emotions’ live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life, trouble ensues. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate the new city, house and school.

Inside Out 2

TAKEAWAYS

The core lesson in this movie, from a kid’s perspective: It’s OK to feel more than one emotion.

The core lesson from an adult’s perspective: Joy cannot exist without sadness, and our emotions make us who we are.

Simply put, this movie goes deep. From short-term and long-term memory to Imagination Land, Abstract Thinking, and even a “Dream Productions Studio,” the concepts in the movie are beyond what a young kid can comprehend, but offer wonderful visuals of the inner workings of our brain. I could see the science highlighted throughout, and really appreciated it. [Read more…]

Oakland County Fair 2015 Information + Giveaway {5 Winners!}

Oakland County Fair 2015

I will be receiving passes for entry into the Oakland County Fair in exchange for promoting. All opinions expressed are my own.

Nothing says summer quite like a fair! I’ve loved hitting up the county fair circuit since I was a little girl. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the 4-H animals, sipping on a fresh squeezed lemonade, riding the ferris wheel and checking out the special event happenings. There is SO much to see! I’m so happy to be able to continue the tradition with my little people because they already have a love for it, too.

I’ve been to many fairs, and I have to say – the Oakland County Fair is simply the BEST. The country setting, the charming old barns, the people watching…this fair has it all!

Oakland County Fair4

Pig races at the Oakland County Fair

The Oakland County Fair is happening July 3 – 12, 2015 at Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg and is an amazing time for families, or even as an excuse for a date night out. Check out the information below and make sure to enter to win one of five passes for FREE parking and entry. That saves a family $10, which means more moula for rides and food fun. This is definitely a can’t-miss event!

Oakland County Fair1

My girls adored seeing all the animals, and even feeding them! What a cool way to learn about animals.

Oakland County Fair 2015 Happenings:

  • Grandstand events, contests, fair food, Big Rock Amusements Carnival, fireworks, free live concerts and the famous 50¢ bottomless glass of chocolate milk are fair favorites.

Oakland County Fair7

My favorite part…Bottomless chocolate milk for 50¢!

  • Daily activities include project displays in the historic Ellis Barn by the 4-H Club, open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily; animal exhibits; Circus Pages; a Safari Petting Zoo; horse shows; an antique tractor display and commercial exhibits.
  • The Miracle of Birth Barn gives fair goers the opportunity to witness the live births of pigs, calves and lambs.
  • So much more! Check out the website calendar for all the details!

[Read more…]

Snap a Selfie for Huggies, Help An Organization in Need #UltraHug

As a social cause and social media enthusiast, there is nothing I love more than giving back in a simple {and social} way! I’m honored to help spread the word about a fabulous campaign Huggies is currently running to provide local community projects with $2,000 grants.

Through, June 25, Huggies is looking for selfies of you and your baby with the hashtag #UltraHug. Then, on July 6th, voting will begin to narrow down the 20 finalists to 10 winners who will win a $2,000 grant from Huggies for their nominated community initiative.

All this to celebrate Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers, which offer long-lasting leakage protection and are available at Walmart stores.

[Read more…]

Summer Must: Visiting The Howell Nature Center

Howell Nature Center

We recently nixed cable for one solid reason: To have the perfect excuse to get outside more. I can’t even tell you how much I have loved not having it, but that’s for another post!

I’m a huge proponent of getting lots of outdoor time with kids. While I’m no scientist, I will tell you that my mom experience has taught me that kids just sleep better, behave better and eat better after getting in outdoor time.

One of our favorite places near us is the Howell Nature Center. You guys – this place is pure magic and definitely Livingston County’s best secret for kids. How about some visuals to get you excited?!

To give you the full mental picture, let’s start at the beginning. The Howell Nature Center is off a dirt road – Triangle Lake Rd. for those of you in the area. When traveling into Howell from I-96, you’ll want to take the D-19 exit and head south.

Plug this into your GPS: 1005 Triangle Lake Road, Howell, MI 48843.

Howell Nature Center - Welcome Center

When you arrive, you’ll want to check-in. There is no admission fee, but consider making a donation {suggested price is $5/adult, $3/child, 3 and under are free}. Alternatively, buy an annual family pass for $45 and get a tax deduction. The nature center is a non-profit, but not funded by any government agency, so donations are crucial to keep it going.

After we check-in, we always have to pause for a photo-op with the tree man statue {what my kids call him}.

Howell Nature Center Tree

[Read more…]

My Summer Essentials {+ How to Save with Meijer mPerks}

Meijer-Logo-300x120

I have an ongoing partnership with Meijer and am compensated for posts. All opinions and content belong to me.

Summer is the best time of year, amiright? As a parent, I feel a wave of relief come over me each day that is beautiful outside. I love sending my kids out to play and knowing they are making memories, which sometimes *feels* like mischief to me {don’t get me started with all the dirt currently on my deck…}.

Despite the dirt, I’ve been getting a little emotional lately watching my kids grow-up before my eyes. On the tough days, I remind myself that these early years are fleeting and to enjoy every moment. I mean, look at these smiles. Oh the simple joys of being a kid!

Kid Collage

I’m trying to do everything in my power to ensure my kids have the magical summers I had growing up. To do so, I’ve started thinking about what was essential

Summer is….

  • Freshly painted toes
  • Sunscreen scented skin {especially baby heads! Mmmm…best.smell.ever!}
  • Watermelon mustaches
  • Sparklers on a cool evening
  • S’mores over a bonfire {With a peanut butter cup! So good!}
  • Fresh squeezed lemonade
  • Popsicles with neighbor friends
  • Dipping your toes into the hot sand
  • Seeking out joy in unexpected places

    Meijer Lawn Gnome

    Love my little lawn gnome found in the Meijer garden department!

  • A cold sip from the hose
  • Impromptu picnics
  • Tank tops and sun-kissed, freckled shoulders
  • The feel of soil while digging for worms
  • Collecting bugs
  • Dirty feet after a long day of outdoor play
  • Swinging in sunshine

The sights, sounds and feelings of summer bring me back to childhood and make me SO happy. It’s my hope I can replicate those feelings for my kiddos in the years ahead. [Read more…]

30+ Summer Events in Southeast Michigan {Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing Areas}

We’re all excited for the kids to be done with school for the year, right? OK, maybe you’re dreading it just a bit…I mean, summer does mean a lot of time to keep little hands occupied and avoiding the boredom blahs.

To plan ahead, I’ve put together a little list of the can’t-miss fairs, festivals and summer events in Southeast Michigan! Take a peek and get to creating your family’s bucket list of fun.

SEE ALSO: 90+ Places For Outdoor Activities in Southeast Michigan

Summer Events in Southeast Michigan

JUNE

June 6  Kaleidoscope FREE Family Fun Day at Huckleberry Railroad {Flint}

June 12-July 5 — Ann Arbor Summer Festival {Ann Arbor}

June 17-20  Hamburg Family Fun Fest {Hamburg}

June 18-21  Northville Summer Carnival {Northville}

Pick strawberries! A few spots: Spicer Orchards {Fenton}, Diederich’s Strawberry Farm {Webberville}, DeGroots Strawberry Farm {Gregory}, Blake Farms {Armada}, Westview Orchards {Washington Township}

Spicer Orchards

Spicer Orchards and Farm Market

June 19-21  The Belleville National Strawberry Festival {Belleville}

June 19-21  Detroit River Days {Detroit}

June 20-21  Flint Art Fair {Flint}

June 22  Ford Fireworks {Detroit} [Read more…]

SEA LIFE Michigan Welcomes Rescued Sea Turtle, Benson

Something random about me? I LOVE sea turtles. Seriously. Back in college, I was active with Alternative Breaks, a sweet volunteer program. I traveled to Romania with Habitat for Humanity, to New Orleans to help with clean-up post Hurricane Katrina, and even rescued sea turtles with the Sea Turtle Conservation League of Singer Island, Florida.

Awesome, right? You see, sea turtles are endangered, and often don’t make it to the ocean alive thanks to us humans, pollution {especially from lights along the beach}, commercial fishing, and of course their natural predators. My job while volunteering was to travel the beach at 4 a.m. looking for eggs hatching and help the little ones make their way into the ocean.

Sea Turtles

Holding a baby! How cute, right?!

I fell in love with these amazing creatures, so I got a tad bit excited when I learned Benson, a rescued green sea turtle was coming to live at SEA LIFE Michigan, the aquarium at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills.

We had fun re-visiting SEA LIFE to see him and I enjoyed telling my girls all about my passion for sea turtles!

ABOUT BENSON

Benson was stranded in 2014 at Anastasia State Park in St. Johns County, Fla., after being hit by a boat, which caused a shell fracture and induced a hypothermic reaction called cold-stunning. Benson was rescued by the doctors at the Georgia Sea Turtle Hospital in Jekyll Island, Ga., who have spent the last year nursing him back to health. While Benson is much healthier and stronger now, due to his injuries he will never be able to survive in the wild.

Benson the Sea Turtle from SEA LIFE Michigan

Benson will continue to receive monitoring as he adjusts to his new environment, and his food, consisting of cucumbers, green peppers and brussels sprouts, will be donated by The Kroger Co. of Michigan.

To learn more, visit this link. [Read more…]

FREE Summer Concerts in Southeast Michigan in 2015 {Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint & Lansing Areas}

I LOVE live music. Unfortunately my budget combined with having young kids makes it near impossible to attend concerts. Instead of shelling out $100 for nosebleed seats, I love supporting our local music scene, and summer is the perfect time to do so. Additionally, outdoor concerts are kid-friendly, after all, what kid doesn’t like to boogie?

I found some great FREE 2015 summer concerts around Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Lansing and the surrounding suburbs. Be sure to head out and support local music, and of course, support the local shops and restaurants while you’re there, too!

NOTE: Cities are in alphabetical order. I couldn’t include all, so I picked the communities of where the majority of my readers are from.

FREE SUMMER CONCERTS IN SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN – 2015

FREE Summer Concerts in Southeast Michigan in 2015

ANN ARBOR

Sonic Lunch Series | Thursdays at Noon in Liberty Park Plaza. Partner restaurants will be on-site selling food

  • June 4 – Martha Reeves
  • June 11 – Joshua Davis
  • June 18 – Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
  • June 25 – Michelle Chamuel wsg/ Absofacto
  • July 9 – Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers
  • July 23 – Laith Al-Saadi
  • July 30 – Bennett
  • August 6 – Luke Winslow-King
  • August 13 – BØRNS wsg/ Chris Bathgate
  • August 20 – Theo Katzman wsg/ Joey Dosik
  • August 27 – Vulfpeck

Concerts in the Park at Burns Park | Concerts in the Park are free on Sundays in Burns Park at 1:30 p.m.

  • June 28 – Gemini Brothers
  • July 12 – Mister Laurence and his Play Money Band
  • July 19 – Nessa
  • July 26 – Sensorium Saxophone Quarter
  • August 4 – Neil Woodward (Note: This is a Tuesday not Sunday like the others)
  • August 9 – Big Blue Tide
  • August 16 – Cedric

Free concerts with the Ann Arbor Civic Band | Concerts are Wednesdays from 8-9 p.m. They are held in the West Park Band Shell on Seventh Street between Miller and Huron

  • June 17 – On the March
  • June 24 – Swingin’ to the Big Bands
  • July 1 – Fourth of July Celebration
  • July 8 – Children’s Concert
  • July 15 – Great Composers of Broadway: Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin
  • July 22 – At the Movies

[Read more…]

Family Fun in June 2015 in Southeast Michigan {Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and Lansing Areas}

I may be a little bias since it’s the month of my birthday, but June is the best month. Not too hot, not too cold; not too rainy. Everything is in bloom and beautiful. Also? There is TONS to do. Who else is excited for carnival season? Lots of great things coming up in this month’s round-up of Family Fun in June 2015 in Southeast Michigan!

Be sure to check out this list on ways to save at local attractions this summer! I also have a giveaway for The Henry Ford/Greenfield Village, a coupon for $3 off Michigan Science Center admission and a list of can’t miss summer events!

Family Fun in June 2015 in Southeast Michigan

June 2 — LEGO® Mini Model Build: LEGO Parrot {LEGO Store in Somerset Collection in Troy} — Visit your local LEGO Store on the first Tuesday of every month after 5 p.m. and you can learn how to build a cool mini model, and take it home – for free! Quantities are limited and offer is good while supplies last only. One per child. Event is open to children ages 6-14 only. FREE.

June 5 – Free Admission to Cranbrook Institute of Science {Bloomfield Hills} — Visit after 5 p.m. the first Friday of every month, courtesy of the MASCO Corporation, for FREE.

June 5-6 – Hudson Mills Old Power Club Antique Gas Engine & Tractor Show {Dexter} – Kid’s pedal pull, kiddie train, flea market, mini-horses, tractor pulls and more. FREE to attend.

June 6 — Home Depot Kids Workshop — Load n’ Go Truck {Nationwide} — Come learn how to build a picket fence photo frame. FREE hands-on workshops; designed for children ages 5 – 12, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. All kid get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin while supplies last. Register online in advance.

June 6  — Michaels Kid Club {Nationwide} — Drop into a Michael’s Craft Store and take home a completed project! Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun, including supplies. 10 a.m. – noon. Ages 3 and up. This day’s project is a Father’s Day craft stick card.

June 6 – Family Fun at the Farm {Ionia} – This event is northwest of Lansing, but worth a mention! This is a one-day event designed to highlight agriculture. Produced from a partnership with Clinton County and Ionia County Farm Bureaus and many generous vendors. {We attended last year…Tons of free food and fun, and tractors of course!} Cow Milking at Breakfast on the Farm

June 6 – Family Fun Day at Longway Planetarium {Flint} – Join Longway Planetarium, Genesee Conservation District and Goodwill for a day of free and fun hands-on science activities. Explore  plants, animals, trees, water, soil, and people in our watershed. Lots of natural resources science stuff. FREE.

June 6 – Touch-A-Truck and Small Fry Fishing Derby {Fenton} – Explore fire trucks, police cars and other vehicles. Additionally, the Fenton Area Optimist Club will be sponsoring their 2nd annual Small Fry Kid’s Fishing Derby {gear available for use}. 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. FREE. [Read more…]

Blog Design By: Creative Kristi Designs