A Gentoo Penguin at The Detroit Zoo. Get inspired, kids and create a penguin work of art for a chance to win a great prize.

Comerica Bank and The Detroit Zoo Seeking Artists for Penguin Contest {Through 2/28}

Comerica Bank

Thought this was a great contest for local students and wanted to share the information I received. I am SO excited for the new Penguin Conservation Center to open — it’s my favorite part of the Detroit Zoo.

Comerica Bank is launching an art contest to help welcome the gentoo penguins to the Detroit Zoo following their debut this month. The contest is open to metro Detroit K-5th graders and runs through Feb. 28.

The contest coincides with Comerica Bank’s $50,000 contribution to the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) for the new Polk Penguin Conservation Center, slated to open early next year.

A Gentoo Penguin at The Detroit Zoo. Get inspired and create a penguin work of art for a chance to win a great prizes!

A gentoo penguin at The Detroit Zoo. Get inspired and create a penguin work of art for a chance to win a great prizes!

The winner will receive entry to the Detroit Zoo for his/her entire elementary school class to see the new gentoo penguins and participate in a special presentation from a penguin keeper, as well as explore the rest of the Zoo. Comerica will also provide a $1,000 grant to the winner’s elementary school.

Art submissions may be done using pencil or colored pencils, pen, water color, paint, marker, crayon, etc., but must be drawn on an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper.  The use of glitter or 3D paint is not permitted. Students interested in entering can have their parents upload their penguin art through the Penguin Art Contest tab on the Comerica Cares Facebook page.

Entrants must be enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade at an elementary school in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw or Livingston counties.

A panel of judges from the Detroit Zoo and Comerica Bank will review all submissions and upload the finalists to Facebook. The public can vote for their favorite entry Tuesday, March 10 through Friday, March 27. The contest winner will be announced Monday, March 30.

For more information and to enter, visit www.facebook.com/ComericaCares.

Best of luck! I only wish my 4-year-old could enter. She’s super into art right now!

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Reading Month with Hudsonville Ice Cream

March Is Reading Month With Hudsonville Ice Cream

Reading Month with Hudsonville Ice Cream

I am the type of person that has tons of interests and passions…But there’s two that trump almost all of them: literacy and ice cream!

Therefore when I was contacted about March Is Reading Month With Hudsonville Ice Cream, I jumped at the chance to share this fun program with all of you.

Here’s the scoop:

Visit the Hudsonville website and download both the reading instructions and the reading calendar, which will be your way to enter for a chance to win great prizes at the end of the month. Copies of the instructions and calendar can be found here.

The grand prize is ice cream for a YEAR! Other awesome prizes outlined below.

{P.S. You guys. Hudsonville is by far the BEST ice cream ever. I’ve even gotten my hubby addicted!}

Reading Month With Hudsonville IC

Have questions? Contact socialmedia@hudsonvilleicecream.com.

Will you be doing anything fun to celebrate reading month? Please share!

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Free Books for Michigan Students from Michigan Friends of Education

I posted about this awesome program on my Facebook page awhile back, but am excited to share the details on how local families can receive FREE books thanks to Michigan Friends of Education. Such an amazing program 😀

mfesmall

Michigan Friends of Education (MFE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the community, especially for Michigan families who cannot afford to buy books for their children. The new book program makes it possible for families to get books for FREE. MFE believes that every child deserves an opportunity to learn, grow and fulfill their dreams. Therefore, this program is focused towards helping kids who struggle with reading or want to improve their reading skills.

“We worked closely with a variety of publishers and booksellers to make this program available to Michigan families,” said Menachem Kniespeck, president  & CEO of MFE. “The response from families has been overwhelmingly positive. Our volunteers are working extra shifts to quickly get books into the hands of thousands of kids.”

How To Get Books For FREE From MFEfamily.org

Families may select as many as 14 books per order for free. The only cost is shipping charges along with a handling fee of just $2. The shipping cost depends upon the total weight of books, packaging and package size.

Who Is Eligible For The Program?

All Michigan is eligible for this program. There are no income qualifications; however, families grappling with household finances, or those who have struggling school-aged readers, are encouraged to visit the site.

What Kinds Of Books Are Available?

The free book program has a mix of chapter books, leveled-readers, study aids, and activity books at all grade levels. The inventory changes frequently as new books arrive on a regular basis.

Donations

Those wishing to make a contribution towards the Michigan community and make the future better for the kids can visit the website.

For more information about Michigan Friends of Education, visit www.mfefamily.org.

How cool is this program? Hope some of you are able to take advantage!

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Free Admission to Michigan Science Center on 12/26 Courtesy of Comerica Bank

If you’re off this week and looking for something fun to do the day after Christmas, I have some great information to share for families in the metro Detroit area — there will be free admission to Michigan Science Center thanks to Comerica Bank!

If you’re not familiar with how AWESOME the Michigan Science Center is for all ages, you can check out this post about my visit back in March. Check out the release below for the FREE fun and see more December events here.

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MICHIGAN SCIENCE CENTER PARTNERS WITH COMERICA BANK TO PROVIDE FREE ADMISSION ON MUSEUM’S FIRST BIRTHDAY 

First birthdays are always special and thanks to Comerica Bank, the public is receiving a special gift – free admission to the Michigan Science Center (Mi•Sci) on Dec. 26, 2013, the museum’s first birthday. To celebrate the Science Center’s first year of success, fun birthday events, including a community cake, games and a gigantic card signing, will be part of Mi•Sci’s extended holiday hours of 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The first 200 guests also will receive a free piggy bank, compliments of Comerica Bank.

Along with the many interactive activities the museum regularly offers, visitors can enjoy engaging Comerica-sponsored math games and experiments throughout the day, including pattern block and Unix cube art projects in Kids Town (for ages 5 and under), traveling magic numbers with graphing and measurement experiments in the museum’s Centennial Laboratory.

In 2013, Mi•Sci achieved many successes including serving more than 150,000 visitors and families, operating debt-free, re-energizing science education in metro Detroit and expanding science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach throughout Michigan and beyond. The museum has made great strides in upholding its mission to inspire children and their families to discover, explore and appreciate STEM in a creative, dynamic learning environment and plans to make an even greater impact in 2014 and years to come.

Holiday Hours

Mi•Sci will be open with extended hours during the holidays.

  • Dec. 23, 26, 27 and 30: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Jan. 1: Closed
  • Jan. 2-3: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Michigan Science Center is a hands-on museum that inspires children and their families to discover, explore and appreciate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Science Center features five theaters, including Michigan’s largest screen at the Chrysler IMAX® Dome Theatre; the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium; the Toyota Engineering Theater; the DTE Energy Sparks Theater; the Chrysler Science Stage; a 9,800 square-foot Science Hall for traveling exhibits; hands-on exhibit galleries focusing on space, life and physical science; Kids Town just for pint-size scientists; and education and outreach programs.

For more information, please call 313.577.8400 or visit the website, http://www.michigansciencecenter.org.

Learn more about Comerica by visiting www.facebook.com/ComericaCares, or follow on Twitter at @ComericaCares.

Comerica Bank

What family fun things to you have planned for the week? I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

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Bat Festival in Southfield

#Detroit Fun: FREE Annual Bat Festival In Southfield 9/28/13

I have a fascination with bats. As much as they look creepy, I also think they are one of the coolest animals out there. We have woods in our backyard, so I love watching the bats come and go in the evenings. I love them also because they help keep mosquitos away!

Bat Festival in SouthfieldPhotos provided by the Organization for Bat Conservation

I thought the upcoming FREE bat festival in Southfield outlined below sounded like such a cool event for families. My nearly 3 year old is currently obsessed with all things science and nature. Unfortunately, we won’t be in town, but this event sounds like such a cool way to spend a Saturday.

Here’s the scoop from press materials:

The 12th Annual Great Lakes Bat Festival will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. This free event will be held at the Southfield Pavilion in Southfield, Michigan from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The festival drew 2,000 attendees in 2012 and is expected to attract 3,000 attendees this year.

The festival celebrates the unique role of bats in the Great Lakes ecosystem while dispelling myths and misinformation that generate needless fears and threaten bats and their habitats around the world. The goal of the festival is to help people discover the importance and uniqueness of bats in a fun and interactive environment.

Attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • Build bat houses for our national forests as part of National Public Lands Day
  • Meet a life-size Stellaluna
  • See live bats from around the world including giant flying fox and vampires
  • Watch birds of prey programs
  • Be a Bat Scientist with bat expert Tim Carter (Ball State University)
  • Explore the “Bat Cave”
  • Participate in nature-themed educational exhibits and bat-themed activities
  • Purchase signed copies of new children’s book, Bats A to Z

The event is for all ages and is free thanks in part to sponsorships from Spirit of Alexandria, Critter Catchers and DTE Energy Foundation.

For more information about the festival, visit the Organization for Bat Conservation’s website at www.batconservation.org or Facebook page or call (248) 645-3232.

Bat Festival in Southfield2

Seriously…how cool does that sound?! And it’s FREE!

Here are some other factoids I learned about bats from the Organization for Bat Conservation folks:

  • Bats are NOT blind
  • Bats are NOT aggressive
  • There are more than 1,100 species of bats worldwide, living everywhere except Antarctica
  • A single bat can eat 2,000 to 6,000 insects at night {YAY!}
  • Many species have ultrasonic sonar capabilities, which they use to navigate and catch insects in total darkness.

There you have it, friends…MANY reasons to love bats 😀 Hope you all can check out the event!

What cool family-friendly events have you discovered lately? Keep me in the loop!

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Run or Dye in Hazel Park This Saturday

Run or Dye Detroit

Disclosure: I was provided with free entry in exchange for promoting this race.

Who is excited about the Run or Dye race happening in Hazel Park on this Saturday?! It is going to be a grand ole time!

There are still some spots left, but they are filling up FAST. If you are interested, I highly recommend registering HERE quickly.

I am very excited to see many familiar faces and run my 4th race {wow, that sounds crazy!}. No worries if you’re not a hardcore runner, this is just for FUN.

DISCOUNT CODE

From what I am seeing, the $10 off coupon code is still working! Just enter RACEORDYE at checkout. Additionally, feel free to join our “Michigan Bloggers United” team to save even more. Please note prices have gone up since my original post, which is why it’s important to register in advance when possible.

Lace up those sneakers and see you on Saturday 😀 Looks like it’s going to be some perfect weather for a fun run, too!

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Lemonade Day Detroit

Calling All Young Entrepreneurs: Lemonade Day Detroit is Looking for You!

Lemonade Day Detroit

When I am garage saling, which is almost every week these days, there is almost always at least one lemonade stand. I am always sure to stop and give a little more than the kids are asking. I’ve had to suck down some pretty sugary-sweet lemonade, but seeing the look on the kid’s faces when I say I want to buy is absolutely priceless. They work so hard to earn that money and please their customers. I only wish every time I bought something from someone I was greeted with that enthusiasm!

One event I have supported virtually the past few years is Lemonade Day {Detroit/Michigan}. This awesome, FREE event aims to teach youth entrepreneurial skills while having fun, too. Youth participating in Michigan will be selling lemonade on June 8, 2013, so be sure to stop by and support them while out.

What exactly is Lemonade Day?

Each child that registers here receives a FREE backpack with an Entrepreneur Workbook that teaches them the 14 lessons of Lemonade Day like creating budgets, setting profit-making goals, serving customers, repaying investors and giving back to the community. Along the way, they acquire skills in goal-setting, problem solving, and gain self-esteem critical for future success. They keep all the money they make and are encouraged to spend some, save some and share some.

Art Van locations across metro Detroit, Ann Arbor and Flint will be backpack pickup locations. Find the location nearest you here.

What do kids learn by participating?

 Financial Literacy & Economics

  • capital equipment & consumables
  • supply & demand
  • credit, debt, gross & net income
  • marginal utility
  • return on investment
  • compound interest

College Readiness & Career

  • critical thinking & collaboration
  • interest in attending college
  • civic responsibility
  • customer service
  • teamwork & problem solving
  • presentation skills & design
Life Skills/Personal Development

  • leadership
  • belief that attaining goals is within reach
  • personal productivity
  • self-direction & time management
  • social responsibility & charity
  • high order thinking
  • social skills & self confidence

Academics

  • math calculations
  • reading & interpreting data
  • oral & written communication

How fabulous is that?

Read this story of one local boy from last year and his lemonade stand creation – the AwesomeAde Depot. {Check out the $ he raked in…Super impressive!}

Find out more and register your child by visiting the Lemonade Day Detroit website. If you are not local to Detroit, there are links to the national site as well.

Follow Lemonade Day Detroit on Facebook | Twitter

Be sure to make a child’s day by supporting their lemonade stand on June 8th. See you around the neighborhood! 😀

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Win with Ellen on Local4

Detroit: Win Justin Timberlake + Jay-Z Tix From Ellen on Local 4 #Ellen4Justin

Disclosure: I was selected for this sponsored post by the company I work for, Hay There Social Media. All opinions expressed are my own.

I’ve talked about Ellen before here…and as I’ve said, I LOVE her. She does such great things for this world and is so kind-hearted — qualities that seem to be missing from a lot of celebs.

Plus, she invented koala-ing. Not sure what that means? See here. I seriously may need to try this tactic on someone very soon…

…someone like…Justin Timberlake! I’ll be the first to admit, I was never a fan of N*Sync, or any boy bands for that matter. Heck, I wasn’t even a JT fan until he went solo. It took me a long time to admit it, but ladies? He’s hot and the boy can sing to boot. Plus, after seeing him in The Social Network, I have to say his acting skills {and social media skills!} are decent, too.

Anyways, the reason I am posting today is because I am excited to say The Ellen Show is working with Local 4 News to give away a pair of tickets to the SOLD OUT Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z show, coming to Ford Field on Aug. 6. How fun would that be? If you won, you could even say “I got 99 problems, but tickets ain’t one” – Jay-Z style. 😉

Win with Ellen on Local4

All you have to do is visit HERE for the full details. To find out who won the tickets, you will want to tune into The Ellen Show the week of May 6th because that’s when the winner will be announced. In fact, you’ll want to continue to watch her for the entire month of May because some great guests are lined up. I know in our house, we’re always ready to laugh and dance with her, too. Don’t forget — she comes on Local 4 at 3 p.m. Monday – Friday in the Detroit market, so be sure to tune in.

TWITTER PARTY THIS WEDNESDAY!

In addition to trying to win tickets to the show, join me {@laurenweber84} and @emilyahay this Wednesday, May 1, 2013 from 8-9 p.m. for a Twitter party using the hashtag #Ellen4Justin. No need to RSVP; all are welcome. We’ll be giving away LOTS of swag and prizes from The Ellen Show and hope you’ll join us!

Tweet ya later :)

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Visit Detroit Blog Gues Post

Guest Postin’ at Visit Detroit

Visit Detroit

Come on over and check out my guest post all about the Detroit Zoo in springtime over at the Visit Detroit blog today! After, be sure to poke around to learn about all kinds of other fun ideas on things to do and see in the Detroit region 😀

Here’s the link to the post: http://blog.visitdetroit.com/blog/entry/wild-is-normal-at-the-detroit-zoo.html

Visit Detroit Blog Gues Post

Where are your favorite springtime destinations?

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Meijer Cereal

Fun In My Hood: Meijer Cereal Party This Saturday, April 20

I was provided with Meijer cereal for the purpose of writing this post.

Meijer Cereal

Photo provided by Meijer

I don’t know about you all, but I love cereal. I lost interest in it for a while, but now that I have kids and it’s always in my house, it is well-loved again {though I eat a bit with unsweetened almond milk these days to save on calories}!

I was excited to be contacted by Meijer to try some of their new cereals. Anyone who tweets with me knows I tweet about Meijer at least once a week because — you guys? It’s my second home. I live less than a mile from one, so it’s my go-to store. The whole family loves shopping there. {TIP! Did you know kids under 12 can get a FREE cookie in the bakery? I know, crazy, right?! Dangerous, but so great when you need some shopping bribery.}

Anyways, if you shop the Meijer cereal aisle, you may have noticed some changes recently. First, Meijer brand cereal has a fresh new look. Second, the Meijer brand cereal line has grown, the number of varieties will nearly double in the coming months including several new non-GMO options.

Through this Saturday, Meijer will be running a 50 percent off sale on Meijer brand cereal. Additionally, Meijer stores will also be hosting in-store cereal parties this Saturday, April 20 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Shoppers will be able to sample the new flavors, make cereal crafts and pose for fun photos. Sounds like a fun perk to shopping on a Saturday, right?

Sample flavors:

  • Fiber Complete with Probiotics – A fiber-rich wheat and bran cereal with nine grams of dietary fiber. It includes probiotics to help maintain overall digestive health and pieces of real strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
  • Multigrain Toasted Oats – This nutritious O-shaped cereal is made with five whole grains and lightly sweetened. It’s perfect for the entire family. {The toddler’s favorite!}
  • Blueberry Muffin Squares – Enjoy the delicious flavor of blueberry muffins that’s sure to please the whole family along with whole grains and 12 vitamins and minerals. {OMG – totally my favorite!}

Thanks to Meijer for sending your delicious cereal my way 😀

Hope you all check out the cereal party Saturday if you happen to be out running errands! Are you a Meijer shopper?

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Kinley on bike

Fun At The Michigan Science Center in Detroit

This past weekend, we packed up and drove to Detroit for a visit to the Michigan Science Center.

After being closed for a year, I was thrilled when I heard they were re-opening last December. This place is SUCH an asset to the region for families looking for fun things to do! I had been once before with Jason to see the Bodies Human exhibit {so cool}, but hadn’t visited yet with the kids.

 Michigan Science Center

As a fan of all things science, I knew I would totally be in heaven, but I wasn’t too sure about my kids — after all, Kinley is just 2 years old and Karina 8 months. Boy, I was wrong to assume they wouldn’t be into it. They both LOVED it. We literally walked in, Kinley saw a truck exhibit, and went nuts. What’s so great about a science center is that it’s encouraged for kids to touch everything. So nice to not have to say “Don’t touch that” for once!

Kinley with hard hat

The gal who checked us in at the front desk told us all about the best spots to take kids that are 2 and under, starting with Kids Town, an area designated for the 5 and under crowd. It was set-up like a little town and was so cute {mini mailboxes, anyone? Adorbs.}. Kinley had a ball trying on all the dress-up clothes, playing on a kid-sized computer, and playing in the pint-sized diner.

Kinley on bike

Even Karina was able to get in on the fun and enjoyed an area specifically designated for her age.

Karina with mirror

After scoping out Kids Town, we walked around to all the neat exhibits, taking everything in. Kinley loved seeing the space shuttles, plasma globe, hot air balloon and more. She ran around until she was exhausted, which always leads to a great nap — and happy parents!

Kinley in Car

Of course, with me trying to get healthy, I was partial to checking out the health and nutrition area, which focused on foods and even had some couch potatoes — perfect for photo ops! {Why I look like I am trying to be nice to these guys is beyond me…I should’ve been giving them an angry fist shake instead ;)}

Couch Potatoes

After we got done walking around to the exhibits, we ended our adventure in the awesome IMAX to see Animalopolis, a cool Dr. Suess-esque movie about animals, geared toward younger children. Kinley was in awe of how big the screen was and both girls behaved like angels the entire time. After, it was fun chatting with Kinley on all the cool animals we saw in the flick. {Let’s just say I had no idea crabs produced so much offspring! That part was creeeeeepy.}

A few alternative things I loved//tips about The Michigan Science Center:

  • Parking. We got there right when they opened, so were able to find a spot right in front of the building. For no cost. So nice!
  • Family bathrooms. These are SO nice when you have multiple diapers to change.
  • Prices at the Cosmic Cafe. Normally when you go to any cool tourist destination, you pay out the eyeballs for food. Everything on the menu was under $4, making it totally affordable for families.
  • Bonus for nursing mamas: Plenty of spots to sit down and feed baby! I had no issue finding seats to feed my littlest gal. I even found an amazingly comfortable chair in Kids Town, and Karina enjoyed her lunch as we watched our IMAX movie.
  • Get there early. We got there right when they opened and loved roaming around without fighting the crowds. By the time we left at 1 p.m., it was starting to fill up.

See my entire album of photos on my Facebook page here or check out #VisitMiScience on Twitter to see what others saw.

More information about pricing, special exhibits, and hours here.

I was part of a paid TweetTeam™  that tweeted about our adventure and was given complimentary entry passes, however, this post was written just because we had such a great time and was not part of my compensation. All opinions expressed belong to me.

Have you been to the Michigan Science Center since it reopened? What are you waiting for? Plan a trip today and let’s keep this amazing spot in business!

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MStafford and Hailey Samples

“Make the Play” for a Healthier Michigan Video Contest

How fitting that I was just announced as a Shaklee 180™ blogger yesterday on my Facebook page {more to come about this in the weeks ahead!} when I was planning to post this information.

Obviously, health is something that matters to me. But ya’ll? This is a recent realization for me. I am trying to change the way I perceive food and fitness — not for me, but for the sake of my kids. They deserve me healthy.

I’m excited this contest from Blue Cross Blue Shield has come back around for the second year because it’s so fab! I love that it empowers kids to talk about health, and in return, rewards them for their efforts.

Check out the information that follows, and I hope if you have a child in grades 4-8, you encourage them to enter!

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“Make the Play” for a Healthier Michigan Video Contest

From the press release:

Michigan has an estimated 400,000 obese or overweight children, which is why Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is kicking off the second year of “Make the Play for Healthy Habits,” a video contest that challenges kids in grades 4-8 to answer the following question “What would you do to make Michigan healthier for yourself, your family or your classmates?”

Video submissions are being accepted Jan. 30 – March 29. In April, 10 semi-finalists will be selected and notified and their video submissions will be posted on aHealthierMichigan.org for a two-week public voting period. The winner will be announced in early May.

The winner of the contest gets a special school assembly with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford this spring and will get to star as a host of his/her own healthy lifestyle video blog series on aHealthierMichigan.org.

 Make the Play for a Healthier Michigan Video Contest

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford with last year’s winner, Hailey Samples

Video submissions should be no more than two minutes long.  They should creatively answer the question “What would you do to make Michigan healthier?” and include the student’s perspective on how themselves, their family, teachers and classmates can live a healthier life.  Students should explain how they would communicate healthy lifestyle choices with their families and fellow students.

Students can submit a video using any digital recording device using an MP3 format, such as a smartphone, iPad, Flip video or webcam or they can upload a video via YouTube. For more information, please visit aHealthierMichigan.org/kidcontest.

Students, grades four through eight, must be enrolled in an accredited public or private learning institution within Michigan to participate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.  The CDC also reports that 14.2 percent of Michigan adolescents in grades nine through 12 are overweight, while 11.9 percent are obese. In children ages two to five years, 16.3 percent are overweight and 13.3 percent are obese.

How do you encourage your kids to be healthy?

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Food from the Heart in Milford, Michigan {Valentine’s Date Idea!}

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Image from stock.xchg

I don’t know about you all, but I actually love Valentine’s Day. It’s so cheesy, but the older I get, the more I enjoy seeing all the pinks, reds and hearts everywhere. I think it’s sweet to have a special day to celebrate love between us — whether it’s with friends, family, or significant others.

When it comes to an official Valentine’s Day date, the hubby and I don’t do them typically for the simple fact it’s chaotic everywhere you go. We had a bad experience once when we went to a romantic restaurant…We were packed in like sardines next to other couples and paid top dollar for our meal. Since then, we try to do something for V-Day, even if it’s just cooking a meal together or just celebrating out a few days after the holiday.

When I received the info below, a bell went off. This is exactly the type of fun I would be down for!

So if you’re looking for something unique to do on Valentine’s Day, look no further than the streets of downtown Milford.

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{Information from press release}

Expect crowds of visitors and residents alike to fill downtown Milford on Valentine’s Day for a night of music to benefit neighbors in need. The village streets will echo with music and goodwill from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for Milford’s first-ever Food From The Heart.

In exchange for non-perishable food or monetary donations, participants will stroll the streets of downtown Milford, and visit participating locations while enjoying the sounds of the Michigan Musicians Collective. Collection boxes will be placed at each venue. Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Milford will pick up donations throughout the evening.

Musical acts include Mike Ewing at Your Nesting Place, banjo player Doug Sciberras at Nana’s Niche and Corner and many more.

All proceeds benefit Community Sharing Outreach Center, which provides food, clothing, emergency shut-off services, referrals and advocacy for residents of the Milford, Highland and Wixom.

IMPORTANT INFO FOR PARENTS :) –> The Carls Family YMCA in Milford is providing a “Parent Night Out” service for children to make it easier for parents to attend. The child care service costs $13 per hour for “Y” members and $17 per hour for non-members and requires pre-registration. Parents can register by calling (248) 253-0311.

Participating locations include:

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Doesn’t that sound like fun?! I love walking around and visiting the little shops in Milford, and this would be the perfect excuse to do so while enjoying some eats and live music.

For other Valentine’s Day inspiration, be sure to check out my list of 50+ date ideas around southeastern Michigan.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Do you go out?

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Ellen_NewTime_Local4

Hey Detroit! #EllenMovesto3PM

Ellen_NewTime_Local4
I am so not hip when it comes to TV. To be honest, I find most TV to be completely boring or just unrealistic. If I can’t relate to it, it can’t hold my attention.

One show I find SUPER entertaining and fun is Ellen. Seriously…Ellen Degeneres is one of the funniest people ever! I’ve been a big fan of hers since her sitcom in the 90’s. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that her show is the #1 talk show in Detroit.

I have to admit, I don’t catch Ellen as often as I would like, but that’s because of its timing — it’s in the morning, which is our no TV time generally.

I was super excited to hear her show on Local 4 is moving to 3 p.m. in the Detroit market because that means I now can catch her during Kinley’s nap time! Plus, it’s perfect timing for teens coming home from school. She’s such a positive role model :)

I personally love watching her because she is just one of those people I can connect with. Her goofy sense of humor always reminds me that life is about having FUN…and we could all use a good pick me up at 3 p.m., right? I’m glad I can turn her on to get in the loop with what’s going on in pop culture in a fun way, that sometimes even includes dancing!

Be sure to tune in next Monday, Feb. 4th when The Ellen Show makes its 3 p.m. debut and tweet with us with #EllenMovesTo3pm!

Additional links:
I was selected for this sponsored post by my company, Hay There Social Media. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Macy's logo

Macy’s Culinary Council Chef at Somerset for a Cooking Demo TOMORROW

Macy's logo

I get to do something super fun tomorrow evening…Attend a live cooking demo at one of my favorite {random} places for food: Macy’s! First of all, if you all have never eaten at the Bistro at Macy’s in the Somerset Collection, you need to now. From their Canadian cheese soup and Maurice salad to their hot fudge creme puffs, it’s seriously the ONLY reason I go to the mall these days.

Second, if you’ve never witnessed the magic of a cooking demo, you must go. I hodge podge in the kitchen, but have a LONG way to go when it comes to making edible things. Watching someone who knows what they are doing is amazing. I am so excited to head to this event to live tweet, get excited for cooking, and watch a world-renowned chef make foodie magic happen before my eyes :)

I would love it if any of you can attend! Here are the details:

When: 
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 at 6 p.m.

Where:
Macy’s Somerset Home
2750 West Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48084

Join Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Takashi Yagihashi as he shares his favorite recipes for starting your new year off right! And with any $35 Home purchase on the day of the event,** receive a $10 Macy’s gift card and copy of the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook, signed by Chef Yagihashi.*

Takashi Yahihashi

Chef Takashi Yagihashi

Reservations are required, as space is limited {AND ALMOST FULL. CALL NOW!} RSVP to: 1-800-329-8667

For more information on the Macy’s Culinary Council and upcoming events, visit macys.com/culinarycouncil or follow on Twitter @macysevents.

*While supplies last, and while time permits. Signed copies available during event only. **Purchases must be made at Macy’s on 1/17/13. Limited seating available.

**Event subject to change or cancellation.

About Chef Takashi Yagihashi:
Takashi Yagihashi is the owner of renowned Chicago eateries Takashi Restaurant, Noodles by Takashi Yagihashi, and most recently the Japanese tapas and noodle bar Slurping Turtle. He has been named Best Chef in the Midwest and listed as one of America’s Ten Best New Chefs.

About Macy’s Culinary Council:
Macy’s Culinary Council is a national culinary authority comprising some of the nation’s leading culinary masters, including Rick Bayless, Michelle Bernstein, Cat Cora, Tom Douglas, Todd English, Marc Forgione, Johnny Iuzzini, Emeril Lagasse, Marcus Samuelsson, Tim Scott, Nancy Silverton, Ming Tsai, Wolfgang Puck and Takashi Yagihashi. Launched in 2003, MCC’s team of distinguished chefs serves to inspire the way Macy’s customers shop, cook and eat at home. The chefs are both ambassadors and instructors, providing expert culinary advice and leading cooking demonstrations at Macy’s stores, with the aim of teaching customers how to cook and shop like a master chef.

*This is a sponsored post but all opinion expressed are my own.*

Have you ever attended a live cooking demo? Did it inspire you to cook more?

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Kin at the Zoo

The Detroit Zoo: A Wintertime Destination {+Giveaway!}

One of my favorite things to do in the wintertime is to walk through the Detroit Zoo after a snowfall. {I shared some photos of a visit last year here.} In the sunshine and fresh air, with fewer visitors and more active animals, a walk through the Zoo can be a serious mood booster when you have the winter blues. When you’re cold, just pop into one of the indoor habitats to warm up. With a little help from zookeepers, I’ve put together a guide to all the hot – and cold – spots to visit on your next trip.

Start out at the Penguinarium to see king, macaroni and rockhopper penguins “fly” through the water in their three-sided habitat. From there it’s a short hop to the National Amphibian Conservation Center, the award-winning habitat the Wall Street Journal called “Disneyland for toads.”

After a short walk along the Mall Road, warm up at the Arctic Food Court with a cup of hot cocoa. Then make your way over to the wolverines, the mascot of our great state, and follow the trail west to see the American bison who share a habitat with the collared peccaries. From there, head over to the bear dens {the bears do get sleepy in the winter, but can be seen outdoors on nicer days}.

After a visit to the giraffe house, where the warm indoor habitat provides a close-up view of the Zoo’s tallest creatures, check the white rhinos, which can be enjoyed from their indoor viewing area. Drop in at Meerkat Digs, and then visit the black-and-white ruffed lemurs {one of my favorite areas!}.

Right around the corner, you’ll find the adorable snow monkeys. Whether they’re playing in the snow or relaxing on the edge of their hot tub, they are always entertaining to watch. Next door, the kings of the jungle can be seen up close on their toasty perch near the glass, thanks to the warming rocks in their habitat {I kind of want some of those for my bathroom!}.

And close to that are the majestic Amur Tigers. Kinley always likes to say “grrr!” as we walk by, and as you can see, she {or maybe he?}, often likes to talk back to us when the weather is cooler!

Tiger at the Detroit Zoo

Swing around to the Great Apes of Harambee, where chimpanzees, western lowland gorillas and drills go bananas on tires, branches and ropes in the habitat’s spacious dayrooms. {I could watch them swing and play all day. Amazing creatures.}

From there, become immersed in the underwater environment of swimming polar bears and seals at the Arctic Ring of Life…Definitely one of the best spots for photo ops, as you can see below! {Kinley, last year…what a face, huh?}

Kin at the Zoo

Once back on the path, head over to the Holden Reptile Conservation Center to see more than 85 species of crocodilians, snakes and lizards. Then visit the Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat and watch its adorable residents play in their 5,900-gallon pool. From there, it’s a short flight to the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, where the popular Butterfly Garden is always a balmy 75 degrees and the Free-flight Aviary provides a tropical environment for over 30 species of birds. {Butterflies are one of my favorite photo subjects!}

Butterfly at the Detroit Zoo

Are you convinced yet to bundle up and take a walk through the Detroit Zoo for a terrific day??? I’m telling you, it’s a “wild” winter wonderland that is so much fun. Plus, the fresh air is so fantastic for wearing the kiddos out 😀 Plan a visit for a healthy dose of Vitamin Z!

The kind people of the zoo are providing me with a 4-pack of tickets to give away to one lucky reader. Just follow the directions in the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway will end next Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Best of luck!

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Sesame Street Live in Detroit: Elmo Makes Music {Giveaway} ENDS 11/26

If there’s a show you should take your age 5 and under kids to this year, it’s Sesame Street Live. Seriously, the shows are SO adorable!

We were able to go to the show last year, and even though Kinley was not even 1.5 years old, she LOVED it! {See our pics here.} I had never seen her sit that still ever. Plus, the hubby and I enjoyed it as well, as they had incorporated some fun pop songs into the show. Not to mention, I’m kind of a Sesame Street nut. It’s classic and Kinley has learned SO much from the show on TV.

This year’s show, entitled “Elmo Makes Music,” will be at The Fox Theatre in Detroit Jan. 24 – Feb. 18 for 41 performances. What I love is that the showtimes are GREAT for families with little ones…I am sure we will be taking advantage of one of the Saturday morning 10:30 a.m. shows since they are before naptime!

Here’s a bit about the show:

Elmo, The Count, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie and all their funny and furry friends are taking to the stage to share the magical world of music with children. When Jenny, the new Sesame Street music teacher, moves into town, her instruments get lost. Jenny’s new Sesame Street friends quickly come to her rescue, and they all discover “instruments” that they never knew existed…rubber duckies, trash can lids and even their own laps! The characters teach children, and themselves, that everyone has the ability to make beautiful music, whether they realize it or not.

How adorable does that sound? It’s going to be a fun one for sure.

Additionally, ticket holders receive FREE access to the Play Zone where your little can sit in Big Bird’s nest, pop up in Oscar’s trash can, twirl in Zoe’s dance studio and visit Elmo’s World. Just be sure sure to bring a camera because there will be photo ops galore!

Ticket Info:

  • Purchase tickets at www.OlympiaEntertainment.com or charge by phone by calling 800-745-3000.
  • Prices range from ($10 on family night) to $68 for Sunny Seats, which include VIP seating, a Meet & Greet with Elmo and another Sesame Street Live character before the show, plus access to the Sesame Street Live Play Zone before the general public!

$3 OFF EACH TICKET!

Use the passcode ERNIE at olympiaentertainment.com to receive the special offer. 

(Offer excludes Gold Circle & Sunny Seats. Not valid on previously purchased tickets.  Cannot be combined with any other offer.)

Now for the fun! I have a family 4-pack of vouchers to attend the show {these will need to be redeemed at the box office}. Just enter using the prompts on the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 26. Winner must live in the Detroit area or be willing to drive to the show to win. Only valid at the Detroit shows.

Best of luck!

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions expressed are my own, however, I will receive complimentary tickets for helping to promote the show.

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Hand in Milker

Pure Michigan Milk #PureMiAg {+ Giveaway} ENDS 11/5

A few weeks ago, I received what I consider one of my favorite blogger excursions ever…A trip to a Pure Michigan dairy farm and milk processing plant. It was SO interesting.

To be honest, until I began my health journey, I didn’t think much about where my food really came from. Now, this thought consumes me with each bite or drink I take.

Milk is one of those things that always kind of confused me. I wasn’t entirely sure how it went from a cow to a gallon of milk, even though my hubby spent the better part of his child/teen years milking. Enter the Pure Michigan Agriculture team.

I was privileged to take a bus tour packed with other bloggers and reps from many of Michigan’s farming industries to learn about Michigan’s dairy industry.

We started our journey at a multi-generational farm in Manchester (outside of Ann Arbor). The farm is home to the Horning family, along with 300 adorable cows, who are milked twice a day in a milking parlor filled with all sorts of technology.

Me sticking a finger into the milker…As another blogger put it — feels just like a breast pump! Photo provided by Michigan Ag Council.

Farmer Earl taught our group about his milking life, stressing the importance of animal care. These cows are well-loved, friends. And for a good reason — these little cuties are the family’s income. Why would they mistreat them? {Read more on dairy farm animal care here.}

Putting a face to a local family making the milk I drink sure put things into perspective for me personally.

This little babe was just born days earlier.

From the farm, we travelled to the milk processing plant in Livonia. It was there we learned how the milk goes from the bulk tank at the farm, onto a truck, into a bottle, which is eventually delivered to the grocery store. I was thoroughly impressed. The testing that milk goes through is intense. It made me feel relieved — the milk we are drinking is safe, antibiotic-free, ya’ll.

Everyone laughed when I said Kroger milk was my favorite. Not sure why, but it always tastes fresh to me! Now I get that it literally is. From the time the cow is milked to when I bring it home from the store, is only about 40 hours or so. {P.S. I’m told it doesn’t really matter if you reach for the milk in the back. The difference between the jugs is typically just a few hours!}

Our group at Michigan Dairy, located in Livonia. The home of Kroger milk in Michigan! Photo provided by Michigan Ag Council.

One of the most surprising things I learned is there is virtually NO difference between organic and non-organic milk. To learn more about the differences, see this FAQ. To learn more on milk and hormones, see this fact sheet.

After touring Michigan dairy, we headed to Kroger to see and taste the milk we just saw processed. I love how they highlight the Michigan farmers supplying the store. Next time you shop there, be sure to look up to see the faces feeding your families!

On the tour, I learned tons of other great factoids, including these:

  • Less than 2 percent of the population feeds 100 percent of the people. How crazy is that?!
  • Michigan ranks 8th in milk production in the U.S., producing 4.3 percent of the nation’s milk.
  • The dairy industry in Michigan contributes $14.7 billion to the state’s economy.
  • According to the USDA, 98 percent of U.S. dairy farms are family owned and operated, sometimes by multiple generations of the family.
  • Michigan has 375,000 dairy cows, representing approximately 2,100 dairy herds.

After seeing the process of how my milk goes from farm to table, I am so proud of the dairy industry in our state. Next time you meet one of the hard-working Michigan farmers who help feed us, say THANK YOU. These people dedicate their lives to helping us eat.

To see my photos from my experience, visit my Facebook page. {Some photos are from our tour photographer}

And now for a fabulous giveaway from the folks at Pure Michigan…A goodie bag full of fun things, including a $25 gift card to Kroger! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Must be a U.S. resident to win. Giveaway will end on 12:01 a.m. EST on Nov. 5, 2012.

{Disclosure: I did receive my own goody bag for participating in the tour. All opinions expressed are my own.}
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Essence of Now: My #PureMichigan Pumpkins

There’s nothing that says fall in Michigan to me quite like a visit to our local cider mills.

Last week, we celebrated a very special birthday for my friend’s little guy, who turned 4. So us moms gathered our little pumpkins and had a few hours of cider mill fun at Spicer Orchards, located in Fenton, Michigan. Here are a few of my favorite photos from our adventure:

If you have any tips for getting 9 kids under the age of 4 to all look in one direction, please let me know.

She’s a child of the corn…Who knew a barn full of dry corn could provide so many hours of FILTHY fun?

And of course, each of my little pumpkins, 2 months and almost 2 years old.

Kids…Man, they really show you how to really LOVE fall. Can’t wait to share more of our fall adventures soon :)

Where are your favorite spots to go during the fall?

Linked-up with the Essence of Now through Mama Track and My Time As Mom.

Essence of Now

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My Neighborhood: Lego KidsFest Oct. 12-14 + Giveaway!

Did you know approximately 7 LEGO® sets are sold each second? I love this fact since I am a HUGE supporter of kids using their imaginations for play.

Personally, we are a LEGO bricks household. Both the hubby and I grew-up on the fun, colorful bricks, and we even have a massive collection {including airplanes and pirate ships} stored in our basement to prove it. Since the girls are still too young to play with those, we have LEGO DUPLO® {the BIG bricks} for them, and we can’t wait to play with them for hours building little LEGO contraptions.

Suffice to say, I was pretty pumped when I heard a LEGO KidsFest was coming to Michigan.

Upon checking out the website, I learned that this is going to be one sweet event and surely a can’t miss for local families with kids of all ages.

Here’s the scoop:

The LEGO® KidsFest national tour will be at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, October 12 – 14, 2012.

Among the LEGO attractions, families will find:

  • LEGO Model Gallery: dozens of life-sized models made entirely from LEGO bricks
  • LEGO Master Builders: live demonstrations and activities from the crew who get paid to play
  • Creation Nation: build your own creation to add to a custom map of the U.S.
  • Race Ramps: build your own custom car, then race it down the ramp against friends and family
  • LEGO Games Arena: roll the dice to play LEGO board games
  • Construction Zones: creative free build, play and display areas
  • LEGO DUPLO®: younger visitors can explore imagination through building
  • LEGO Retail and KidsFest Marketplace: purchase LEGO merchandise and official KidsFest tour goods
  • Brick Pile: a gigantic pile full of LEGO bricks for creative play and enjoyment
  • Monochromatic Builds: bricks of a single color to foster group creativity
  • Brickscapes: fantastic displays that combine lots of LEGO and DUPLO sets
  • And much more, covering more than 150,000 square feet of space

Based on sell-out attendance in previous markets, advance ticket purchase is strongly encouraged.

Five sessions – all identical – are available for the tour stop. Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for children and can be purchased online at www.LEGOKidsFest.com.

All images provided by LEGO KidsFest

Doesn’t that sounds amazing? Now for a giveaway!

I have a pair of tickets to giveaway for the opening session — Friday, Oct. 12 from 4:30-8:30 p.m. A winner will be chosen on Sept. 28. Good luck!

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