Recyclable Indoor Seed Starting Project

 It’s time to start preparing for those spring and summer home gardens! Don’t want to spend a fortune this year on supplies? Here is a quick and easy tip for starting those seeds indoors using recycled Stonyfield yogurt cups. 

Disclosure: This article was written in connection with Stonyfield Yo-Getters and free seeds were provided to me in order to facility my post. Opinions are mine.
#ad Indoor seed starting using recycled Stonyfield yogurt cups

Yippy! Can you hear me screaming it from the roof tops? Spring has finally arrived to Michigan! (I should probably knock on wood right about now so I don’t jinx us! Knock!) Since the winters in Michigan are so unbearably long. . . when spring arrives it is like a complete re-birth. It all starts with the melting of snow, and then a small peek of a spring bulb starts to pop through the soil. The air begins to smell fresh and damp, unlike the burning nose feeling you get during the winter. Slowly, but surely, the days start to warm up and life begins again.

Usually, each year, as soon as the first spring bulb pops up, I am itching to get outside to start planting in my veggie garden behind my house. Normally I am ahead of the game in the winter and have already winter sowed my seeds. But this year time got away from me and I am completely unprepared for the start of spring. (Physically, not mentally. I am ALWAYS mentally prepared for spring.) But that’s ok! Even though I didn’t winter sow my seeds this year, I can still start my seedlings indoors and have them ready to transplant outside when the time is right.

#ad Indoor Seed Starting Tips

Much like my winter sowing technique, I wanted my indoor seedlings to be environmentally friendly as well. For this reason I like to choose organic seeds and reuse old household containers as seed starter cups. For my outdoor sowing method, I used old milk jugs as greenhouses, but for my indoor seedlings I have found that Stonyfield yogurt cups are the perfect size to start my seedlings in. Plus, we always have empty cups in abundance in our home.

Creating seedlings using recycled Stonyfield yogurt cups is easy!

1. Eat and enjoy the yogurt. This step is important and tasty!
2. Wash out the yogurt dish with soap and water.
3. Carefully poke a hole or two in the bottom of the cup to allow for drainage.
4. In a large bucket soak some potting soil with water and mix until moistened.
5. Fill the yogurt cup 3/4 of the way full with potting soil, place a few High Mowing organic seeds on top and cover with more soil to fill.
6. Set your cup in a warm window with sunlight and watch the seedlings grow.

#ad High Mowing Organic Seeds

Once the seedlings have reached transplant height and the weather outside is cooperative for planting, remove the seedlings from the Stonyfield cups and transplant them into the ground. The Stonyfield cups may now be recycled or kept to be used again next year.

For more information on the organic seeds I used in this article, check out High Mowing organic seeds on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube.

Are you planning to start an outdoor garden this year? What do you plan on growing?

Can I Call Myself a Traveler: My Fear of Flying Became My Stepping Stone

Guess what? Travel can be scary. It can be exhausting. It can fall apart in the blink of an eye and leave you standing alone and confused. This last weekend, on my flight home from Florida, I had one of those experiences. I am not particularly an experienced flyer, my background is in road tripping. I enjoy the open road and seeing all of the weird roadside attractions along the way. But for this trip, since I was traveling without my family, I decided to fly. It is always good to grow as a traveler right?

My flight to Florida was easy and even a bit fun. That weird feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when taking off and landing was starting to grow on me. I started to feel like I was getting the hang of going through security, packing for a flight and finding my gates. Even though this was only my seventh or eight flight ever (like in my entire life) I felt like I was quickly becoming a pro. As I flew on my short 2.5 hour flight into Florida, I sat calmly in my seat dreaming about taking longer flights, maybe to Australia this winter. The entire world was opening up for me and my wanderlust gene was kicking into overdrive.

I spent an amazing four days in Florida and then began my 2.5 hour flight home on Sunday. I was confident. The fears that I had before on my first flight were gone. I was a pro now remember? Well, sometimes it is funny how life works. I suppose the universe wanted to keep me a little bit scared because I had the worst plane ride home ever! The plane cab jolted back and forth for 2.5 straight hours. At times we dropped elevation, we bumped up and down and side to side. The fun feeling I had in my stomach was quickly becoming a queasy feeling as my stomach turned and couldn’t settle. Apparently our plane was flying over strong storms and as hard as the pilots tried, they couldn’t break loose from the winds. I tried to remain calm, but I will admit that for a few minutes of that 2.5 hour flight I panicked. Worry began to overcome me and my once confident wanderlust gene was hiding in the dark and vowing to never come out again. Did this mean that I wasn’t a true traveler? I didn’t want others to see my fear. It embarrassed me. Travelers are supposed to be fearless wanderers, right? Wrong. Everyone has fears. Everything is new to someone at least once in their lives. It is how we respond to our fears that either makes us a true traveler or not.

It’s true that travel doesn’t always go as planned and sometimes just as you get comfortable, things happen to keep you on your toes. It happens to everyone, just in different forms. While on this horrible flight my wanderlust gene may have gone into hiding, but it was only for a few minutes. The funny thing about the wanderlust gene is that it is persistent. Even though my flight tried to scare me from ever flying again, it actually had to opposite effect. When we landed and I realized that I had made it through that trial, I felt more confident. I thought “If I can make it through that flight, I can make it through other flights.” because bad flights are the exception not the standard, right?

Sometimes in travel and in life we go through experiences that scare us. These experiences can be used to mold and shape us or we can allow them to keep us in hiding. Even after that horrible experience flying home, I am still dreaming about my flight into Australia. Yes, I am scared about the extra long flights it takes to get there but am I going to let that stop me? Not a chance. I plan to keep flying because each flight is a conquered fear, a movement closer towards my fulfilled life and another first step into a new land.

The only difference between a traveler and everyone else is that a traveler keeps on moving forward.

Remind me of this when I am gearing myself up to book my next flight, ok?

Have you recently overcome a fear? How did it make you feel? Tell me about it in the comments. 

Couples Weekend in Southwest Michigan : WINE TOUR

Disclosure: This trip was taken in collaboration with #SWMIsipstroll tour and we were hosted at all of the locations mentioned in this article. 
Southwest Michigan Wine Tour #ad #SWMISipStroll

Being a Michigan native, our family has always kept with tradition and gone north for the summer. Traverse City, Mackinac Island, these have always been our summer vacation destinations. How many of you remember spending your summers at “the cabin up north”? Seriously, my mom even begins her childhood memories that way. It is just what we Michigander’s do! Over my lifetime I have spent quite a bit of time touring around my hometown state of Michigan but for some reason this entire time I have neglected one important part of the state: Southwest Michigan.

What to do in New Buffalo Beach as a couple #SWMISipStroll #ad

Ask me why I have never ventured past Kalamazoo to the west side of the state and I will tell you “I have no idea”. I guess I thought there was nothing to do in that side of the state, just farm fields and such. So last weekend, to fix this problem, my husband and I jumped in the car for a couples weekend away and drove out to the southwest side of Michigan, also known as New Buffalo. I considered stopping here to talk about the importance of a weekend away with your spouse every once in awhile, but I think many of you already know why it’s a good idea. Especially with young kids, sometimes you just need to reconnect and relax together to remember why you love each other. So back to my story: As my husband and I drove past field after field into the slow paced town of New Buffalo my only thought was “This is brilliant”. Within this adorable tiny town of only three stop lights sat a luxury hotel, a beautiful beach full of mounds of sand, vineyards all around and quiet. Yes, perfect quiet. There was no traffic humming past or loud construction noises to be heard, just the sounds of birds chirping, water swishing in the harbor and my thoughts finally able to gain my own attention again.

What is there to do in southwest Michigan?

I was right. Southwest Michigan IS full of fields, but guess what? Those fields are full of grape vines! What are grapes used for? Ding Ding! WINE!! Southwest Michigan is full of wineries, distilleries, gourmet restaurants and even a casino! Vacationing to this part of Michigan was like saying to myself “Seriously, where have you been all my life?”

Hickory Creek Winery #SWMISipStroll #ad

During our two day visit we were able to check out four wineries. This number, two wineries per day, seemed like the perfect amount of wine tasting since each winery allowed us to sample around 5-8 different wines. It is good to pace yourself and even take the time to sit outdoors and enjoy the views for awhile. This isn’t speed dating people.

Wine Tour Southwest Michigan #SWMISipStroll #ad

There were so many great wineries to visit, but here are a few highlights from our favorites.

The first stop on our tour was Domaine Berrien Cellars. This quaint, family owned winery believes that good wine is grown in the vineyard, not made in the cellars. It is for this reason that Domaine Berrien takes a lot of pride and care in growing their own grapes. As we made the drive up their long driveway we could witness their rows upon rows of vines hugging the way. This winery has won a lot of awards for their craft and is definitely worth visiting.

My favorite wine from Domaine Berrien: 2012 Vignoles (Vee-nole) – a refreshing wine with tropical flavors of sweet pineapple, mango and kiwi. 

Domaine Berrien Cellars, Berrien Springs, MI #SWMISipStroll #ad

The second stop on our wine tour was Lemon Creek Winery. This upscale tasting room was larger than the others we’ve seen and featured fun gifts and shopping. This winery is a fun place to hang out and was quite busy during our visit. In the center of the room was a large tasting bar where we were enlightened to learn about the art of mixing wines together. Seriously, who knew you could mix wines and create a whole different level of flavor?

My favorite wine from Lemon Creek Winery: (a mix) Cherry wine mixed with peach spumante. 

Lemon Creek Winery, Berrien Springs Michigan #SWMISipStroll #ad

 Next up was Hickory Creek Winery. A fun winery with a laid back feel. The staff was very personable and the wine was delicious. I especially loved their wine scented candles for sale in the tasting room. Seriously, look for them. Also, something I loved about this winery is that they sell a Laughing Lab Rose that they donate a portion of the sales from to helping the Midwest Lab Rescue find forever homes for their dogs.

My favorite wine from Hickory Creek Winery: 2012 Gentil

Hickory Creek Wine #SWMISipStroll #ad

The last winery stop of our weekend was at the Contessa Wine Cellars. This winery was a bit retro, just like me. They even had a Marilyn Monroe themed bathroom! While I loved the decor, I really loved the wine. I stuck to the sweeter wines and they didn’t disappoint. This winery also has a large deck area to sit and enjoy the day with outdoor bars and a great view of the vineyards.

My favorite wine from Contessa Wine Cellars: Dolce Vita & the Cherry wine

Contessa Wine Cellars Coloma Michigan #SWMISipStroll #ad

After our fun filled day out and about exploring, we were excited and ready to come back to our hotel home and relax. During this trip we were lucky to have found a great place to stay that caters to couples looking to relax. The Harbor Grand is an spa style hotel that offers complimentary breakfast in bed, whirlpool tubs, updated showers, a masseuses on premise and incredible views of the harbor. You can read even more about this luxurious hotel over on my review article on TravelingMoms.com.

While Southwest Michigan looks to be a wonderful place to vacation as a family, from this past weekends’ experience, I can tell you that southwest Michigan is definitely a place to go for an adult weekend away!

Have any questions about the best places to visit as a couple? Comment below and I will respond. Plus, tell me, where was the last place you went alone or with a significant other to relax? Has it been awhile?

Winery Locations:

Hickory Creek Winery – 750 Browntown Rd, Buchanan, Michigan
Domaine Berrien Cellars – 398 E Lemon Creek Rd. Berrien Springs, Michigan
Lemon Creek Winery – 533 E Lemon Creek Rd. Berrien Springs, Michigan
Contessa Wine Cellars – 3235 Friday Rd, Coloma, Michigan

On The Go with New Stonyfield OP

Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Stonyfield and their YoGetters Program.
#ad New @Stonyfield OP

Being a mom on the go isn’t always easy. Some day’s it’s all that I can do just to get a single meal in me. Either I am out on the road traveling or running kids around to their various places. Life is a journey, right? It definitely is, but seriously, this month has been NUTS! The crazy busyness of this month has had me dreaming of the lazy summer months ahead. Being a tired, hungry mom isn’t helpful either. If mom isn’t happy, nobody’s happy, right? It is for this reason that I want to tell you about my favorite new smoothie and Stonyfield’s lastest product. Last month I was given the opportunity to taste test the new Stonyfield OP and I simply cannot rave about it enough!

So quick funny story, ok? When Stonyfield first sent me a shipment of their new product, I was out of town. I asked my husband to please put it in the fridge for me and I was planning to taste test it when I returned home. Well, you can probably guess where this is going. When I returned home, my husband had drank all of the OP! Luckily, Stonyfield was happy to send me more so I could actually taste it and my husbands over enjoyment just proved to me how good these smoothies really were.

What’s the deal with the new Stonyfield OP?

  • Well, for starters it comes in three flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. 
  • Each drink has 15g of protein in it. 
  • There are no artificial flavors or colors.
  • These smoothies are made with organic ingredients. 
  • It’s available in the yogurt aisle. 
  • Gluten free
I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshing it is for me to have something to drink on the road that is satisfying and it’s even more exciting that it comes from a brand that I already love and trust. So be sure to check your grocers yogurt aisle and let me know what you think! 
My favorite is the chocolate. What’s yours?
#ad Stonyfield OP organic protein

April is “Michigan Wine Month” #SWMISipStroll

Disclosure: This tour is an hosted event. All opinions are my own. 

Today I opened up my browser to find that Gov. Rick Snyder has declared April to be “Michigan Wine Month” in honor of Michigan’s quickly growing wine industry and their significant contributions to the state’s economy. Quickly growing is right! Did you know that according to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, Michigan now has 117 registered wineries? Plus, 32 of those Michigan wineries brought in 230 awards in 2014 at national wine competitions! I’d say the Michigan wine industry is doing something right and consumers are taking notice. (Go Michigan!)

Just a few months ago while my husband and I were out on a road trip into South Haven, Michigan we decided to stop along the way to visit one of these Michigan wineries. We weren’t sure if the winery was going to be open because of the harsh snow and weather we were having, but it was! Seriously, the driveway was almost completely blown over with snow but they were there, open and ready to share their craft with us! During this trip we found Michigan wineries to be of a tough and passionate breed. Even through the harsh winters, they survive and I believe that is because of the genuineness of the vintners and the returned loyalty of their customers. It only took me this one experience at a Michigan winery and I was hooked.

In honor of the newly named “Michigan Wine Month”, I have decided to tour several of the wineries located in southwest Michigan, along with a great group of travel writers, and report back to you what I think is the secret to their success. Or my favorite wine. Or which venue has the most comfortable chairs. Really, whatever I think is important.

So here it is. Who’s on my list?

Contessa Wine Cellars
Hickory Creek Winery
Domaine Berrien Cellars
Lemon Creek Winery

If you are curious about what Michigan wineries have to offer, keep an eye on our feed and social media accounts (you can find links to those at the top right hand corner of our site) because very soon I will be bringing you all of the det’s you ever wanted to know on the southwest Michigan’s winery scene. Excited?

Have you ever been to any of these places? Do you have any advice of fun places to see on the West side of Michigan near New Buffalo? I’d love to hear your recommendations. I’d also love to hear, what is your favorite style of wine? Tell me in the comments.

New Restaurant & Brewery Opening April 8th: Granite City Brewery in Northville Michigan {Plus a Giveaway}

Disclosure: We were invited to preview this opening as a guest. All opinions are our own. #GCNorthville
#ad Granite City Brewery Northville, Michigan

Deciding whether or not to accept an invitation to check out a new restaurant & brewery this last weekend was a no brainer for me. My husband and I love craft beer and great food, I mean, we are from Michigan after all! If Michigan isn’t already known as the craft beer capitol of the world, it should be because held within Michigan’s mitten shaped hand are around 151 different breweries and growing! Because of the accessibility of great craft beer within our own state, my husband and I grown to enjoy the art of a well crafted brew and together have enjoyed visiting several of the breweries already on Michigan’s long and ever growing list. So this weekend when we were invited to check out the brand new Granite City Brewery opening in Northville, MI we excitedly said YES!


Granite City Brewery

While Granite City Brewery is brand new to the Northville, Michigan area, this restaurant marks the thirty third grand opening of it’s kind. Started in St. Cloud, Minnesota, this foodie style restaurant offers signature brews and made from scratch recipes that have become known to set them apart from the crowd.

#ad Beer Flight at Granite City Brewery

The Food
One of the things that I found to love most about the Granite City Brewery is that their chef’s create their menu items daily from scratch, even the kids menu is full of handmade goodness! As the waiter started bringing out the appetizers to us, I saw the beauty and care they took in their food presence and knew that this place was going to quickly find it’s way into my favorites list. I just love a pretty food plating, especially when it is backed up by phenomenal food!

#ad Granite City Brewery Northville Review

While all of the appetizers we tried tasted amazing, such as the Asian glazed shrimp, the Ahi tuna wontons and the pretzels with cheese sauce, my ultimate favorite was the maple pepper bacon & tomato flatbread.

#ad Granite City Brewery Flatbread Pizza
Maple Pepper Bacon Flatbread

The crust was crunchy, the cheese was cheesy and the maple pepper bacon melted in my mouth and gave the flatbread pizza somewhat of a sweet ending. The main meal was just as stupendous with a taste testing of pastas, steaks, burgers and their famous pulled pork waffle sandwich. This funky meal features slow roasted bbq pulled pork atop a corn waffle with crispy onion rings to garnish. Plus, it is served with a side of sweet potato tots! <–Loved those!

#ad Granite City Brewery Pulled Pork Waffle Sandwich
Pulled Pork Waffle Sandwich

The Beer

One of the things Granite City prides themselves in having a competitive craft brew. My first glimpse at their abilities to compete in this area was through this large picture window overlooking the dining room. Behind the door to this fully visible room I was able to meet the trained in-house brewers who were hard at work creating the clean, filtered and refreshing brews that are then run directly from the vats to the taps behind the bar. This ingenious process results is a crisp and fresh beer every time.

#ad Granite City Brewery
FROM HERE
#ad Granite City Brewery Bar
TO HERE. 

Then came judgement time. I saw the care they took in their brewing process, and the awesome way they stored and served their craft, but after all of this work how did it taste? I took a beer flight and taste tested The Duke, The Bennie, The Northern and The Broad Axe, which is their own signature line of brews. I thought that all of the beers tasted clean, but overall chose The Bennie as my favorite. The Bennie is a German style lager with a medium body and wonderful caramel malt flavoring.

Don’t like beer? Granite City also offers signature drink and cocktails as well as a long list of non-alcoholic drinks.

#ad Granite City Brewery in Northville, Michigan

Dessert

We finished off our tour with handmade desserts that were not only rich and decadent, but were extremely affordable! My favorite of the night was a toss up because I just couldn’t decide! At first, I thought my favorite was going to be the chocolate cake with a whisky butter sauce, but then I tried the cookie skillet and the creme brulee. There was no clear winner for me, it was all amazing.

#ad Granite City Brewery Desserts
Cookie Skillet

While the Granite City Brewery hit the mark in so many of the areas I look for, it also blew me away with the extra’s I didn’t see coming!

Extra’s

  • This location not only has purse hooks under their bar, but they also have USB and electrical outlets for guests to use to recharge their electronics as needed. 
  • I am extremely happy to announce that the Northville Granite City Brewery offers family restrooms and a changing table in BOTH the men’s and woman’s bathrooms as well. 
  • Love the beer? Take home a growler! Growlers are available for purchase and refill. 
  • Join the Mug Club. The mug club is a reward based card that. . . well, rewards you for your patronage and love. When you sign up with the rewards club, each visit/purchase earns you points which can be used towards your balance at a later visit. Members also get notifications of new limited time brews coming to the brewery. 

Grand Opening April 8th! 

Those who join the grand opening on April 8th will also help to contribute to fight local hunger as Granite City will donate 10% of each meal purchase to the food bank on this date. Also, those who visit during the grand opening will receive free membership into the Mug Club!

Want to check it out for yourself? We’re giving away a $25 gift card to the restaurant! See details and enter below.

I Told My Husband to Get a Hobby

Ann Arbor Beard Competition

It seemed to me the other day that my husband was having a hard time with my new work schedule. As I’ve been throwing my heart and soul into this blog, it has meant more hours spent at my computer, more travel opportunities and more meetings taking me away from home. The other day when I told him I would be taking yet another trip to Florida soon, the look in his eyes told me that he wasn’t ok. Looking back, I am not sure if this was the correct thing to say, but at the time it sounded appropriate.

me: You really should get a hobby. 
hubby: ….
me: You know, find something you are passionate about and just go for it. Isn’t there anything you are passionate about?

He never did say anything at that very moment, but apparently he was thinking about it because two days later he came to me with a proposition.

hubby: Hey, I want to enter this beard competition tomorrow. Would you and the kids come with me?
me: Um. . yeah. . sure. . . we can do that. 

For those of you who don’t have a clue what a beard competition is, think of it as a beauty pageant for male facial hair. Contestants are judged on fullness, texture and design. Yes, I said design. The more creative you can get with your hair the better. For instance, can you sculpt your beard to look like you have an octopus eating your face? If you can, then you would probably fit right in.

Beard Competition Contestants
Beardly Men Lined Up For Judging. 

As the day of the beard competition came around, I walked past the bathroom to find my husband excitedly primping his beard in the mirror. I stood a moment to watch through the crack in the door I saw him fumbling to heat up my straight iron. No, I thought. He wouldn’t. But he did! Then he brushed his beard and oiled it, making sure the strands were perfectly all in place. He took an stance back to admire his work. Being the mean wife that I am I said, HEY! (he jumped) You take longer to get ready than I do! He just smirked back at me.

When we arrived in Ann Arbor for the beard competition I could tell his nerves were getting to him, but he was just so darn excited. It was cute.

Watching as the competition proceeded I admired him confidently talk to the judges and the press about his beard. He was so proud of ability to grow hair and was happy to model it for those who wanted to take photographs. This is hilarious I thought. But, he really seemed to enjoy himself, so I happily stood by. I even gave the press an interview and stated that I was ok with the beard (as long as he didn’t try to kiss me with it). They laughed.

Detroit Grooming Co. Beard Competition
My Husband Meeting the Founders of Detroit Grooming Co. 

When the competition came to a close, my husband ended up going home with fourth place. However, I think he went home with a whole lot more. He went home proud of himself for trying something new, happy to have found a passion and filled with excitement about the next beard competition to be had. Even though when I told him to get a hobby this is not what I had meant or expected, I am proud of him (and his beard). Who knows, travel for beard competitions might just be our next thing.