The west coast of Michigan is the best place for beaches and beer – our two favorite things! We camped in our tent at Holland State Park and headed to all the nearby cities.
DAY 1 – FENNVILLE AREA We drove up and headed to our reservation at Fenn Valley Vineyards. You can make a reservation online and then sit outside with your wine. You can probably split a tasting between two people if you’d like. Then we went over to Virtue Cider for a glass of their popular rosé cider. Another option in the area is Waypost Brewing. Make sure to check their hours because they are closed a few days a week.
Next we went to Evergreen Lane Farm and Creamery. It’s a super small, cute, purple house that allows tastings (not during COVID) and has a variety of home made cheeses. We got some to take back to our campsite. We then went to downtown Fennville for lunch at The Root Cafe. This place has a great variety of food, outdoor seating and is connected to an art gallery type of store. This downtown area is very small, but it does have a few cute stores.
Some other good stops in the area are Pier Cove Park (a super small area of beach with great water views) and Summerhouse Lavender Farm(you have to make a reservation during COVID times).
We then headed back to Holland to set up camp. We got dinner in downtown Holland at Big Lake Brewing. Another place you can stop for dinner/beer is Guardian Brewingon your way north. This place is newer, really nice and has a huge patio.
DAY 2: SAUGATUCK You can’t start your day in Saugatuck without something from Uncommon Coffee Roasters. Everything in there is so cute and delicious! We then walked around downtown and along the boardwalk. Then we headed over to the famous Oval Beach to lay out and enjoy the sun. For lunch, we went to Saugatuck Brewing Company and of course had to stop at Blue Star Antiques afterwards.
Then we went to a beach with a little more adventure – Saugatuck Dunes State Park. We walked the longer trail this time. There is a 0.5 one that takes you straight to the beach or a longer one that takes you to a dune lookout. We got to the lookout and it was so peaceful! We ended up just getting pizza to go that night since it started raining.
DAY 3: HOLLAND STATE PARK We decided to stay local on our last day. We brought our bikes and rode the short ride over to the Holland State Park beach to see the Big Red Lighthouse and get a little bit of sun. Another biking option from the park is to go the other way to Tunnel Park for more beachy views.
We then explored a little bit more of downtown Holland. There are lots of cute shops and restaurants with outdoor patios.
Then we went back to the park for another short bike ride to Mt. Pisgah. You climb a bunch of stairs for a great view of the lake and lighthouse! It’s extra beautiful at sunset. For dinner we got takeout from Ottawa Beach Inn which is right by the campground.
I’ve always loved the vibes of the Swedish celebration of Midsummer to commemorate the first day of the season. I decided to try my own version this year. I did my best to research what actually happens in Sweden, hopefully I didn’t butcher the holiday too much.
Teal and pink were my two main colors accented with other bright summery colors. I set up my two 6 foot tables in a T shape. I wanted everyone to still be able to see and talk to each other. I feel like a super long table separates people. An L shape cuts some people off from the conversation. I topped the tables with my typical white paper table cloths and two table runners – one teal and one pink.
Each setting had a pink or gray dinner plate– I wanted something better than paper plates, but didn’t want to use my plain (boring) white ceramic plates. I found these plastic ones at Target and am a little bit obsessed. They feel high quality, look chic and come in many colors. And are only $0.80 each! I topped each plate with a teal cloth napkin and menu. I printed the menu on brown kraft paper and added some flower graphics.
Glasses were very important for this party! I used clear stemless wine glasses as water glasses, got some light teal goblets from Salvation Army for wine/cocktails, clear champagne glasses for champagne (duh) and clear shot glasses for snaps shots. I liked having all the glassware on the table at once because it acts almost as decor in my eyes.
Snaps shots are a traditional Midsummer shot made by soaking vodka in a variety of spices. Here is the recipe that I used. I placed a little song cardin there with a portion of the Snaps Song in there for us to use as we toasted. We took the shot before we started eating dinner! I used this step by step guide to make an ice bucket to hold the bottle of vodka.
I filled in the rest of the table with faux tea light candles, string lights and lots of flowers in jars. I like to get flowers from Trader Joe’s – cheap and a nice variety. I also hung string lights around outside of the table. I really love this set of vertical curtain string lights.
Okay so now for food! We made a cheese/meat and veggie boards for “cocktail hour” (aka when people can drink/eat while we finish up dinner.) I tried to find some Swedish cheeses at a specialty store! I used paper plates and napkins that I already had laying around for this.
We then served actual dinner! We tried to choose things that were at least kind of authentic to a traditional Midsummer dinner. We read that fish is usually included so we made salmon with lemon and dill. Our other main dish was a hemp heart/sun dried tomato rigatoni pasta. Sides included Swedish potato salad(salad/small potatoes with dill and butter basically) and roasted vegetables (we did asparagus, leek and eggplant).
For dessert, we made a naked strawberry cake with dairy free buttercream frosting. To save time, we used a white cake box mix and only made the frosting by hand. Then topped with strawberries and some sprinkles. We served this with champagne!
After dinner, we had a bonfire and did a little ritual that I found online. Everyone wrote down something that they wished to sacrifice to the flames: something that you’ve completed that you want to seal with fire, something you wish to be rid of forever or something you want to give up gain something else. It was a fun way to end the night!
I believe in having a theme for every and any type of party. For this bachelorette party, I chose stars! It’s simple, but keeps everything cohesive. Stars, silver/gold, pink + purple = success.
GUEST WEARABLESTABLE I set up a table with everything that a bachelorette party guest needs to survive. I love doing this because it acts as a set of decorations before everyone picks up their stuff. I found star disco cups (no longer available, but similar disco ball ones are here). I cut out gold stars, wrote out each person’s name and taped them the cups.
We got a bunch of wine, champagne and made this rosé punch. For food, we just got a bunch of finger food appetizers and asked guests to pitch in.
Of course, balloons are a main center piece! We got a bunch of silver stars and then big MRS balloons.
GAMES + PHOTO BOOTH All the best parties have a photo booth! I set this one up using crepe paper and balloons around an arch. I printed out large faces of the groom and had a chalk board sign with the wedding hash tag. As stated above, I got star glasses and rings too!
We played gift bingo. I think this makes opening gifts a little more interesting for guests. I printed out this game and got heart stickers for each person.
We also played Drink If. I like this game because it involves everyone and you can personalize it to the bride and party. Each card says “Drink If……” with something on it. Like “you have no tattoos” or “have given birth”. Put all the cards in a bowl and each person takes a turn drawing a card and reading it aloud. You drink if you have done the the thing on the card, duh! There are lots of these games online for purchase, but I like making my own. You can do specific things that you know happened to the bride, you can make them as dirty/clean as the party allows, and you can target guests. For example, if you know a lot of teachers will be there, you can do a few cards specific to them. Here’s my template!
Michigan is one of the top three best states for craft beer in the country and Kalamazoo is one of the best cities to get beer in Michigan! There are many breweries and most are downtown and within walking distance of one another.
It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from the Detroit area. We got an airbnb and did a self-made brewery tour for a day. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday, especially when it’s warm out!
This route is about an hour of walking and the order is based on geography and the best time to go to each place.
Brite Eyes – This place is a little bit away from downtown. To save on walking you can uber to the next destination. I put this one first because they have coffee too! They have a retro vibe which is unique to a brewery. You could also hit this one the next day in the morning. Hours: 11:30am-7:30pm (start serving beer at noon)
Saugatuck Brewing Co. (10 min walk) – This was Gonzo’s when we went. It sounds like they still serve Gonzo’s beer, which is good! We’ve been to Saugatuck Brewing in actual Saugatuck and enjoyed it as well. So this merger sounds like the best of both worlds. Hours: 11:30am-10pm
Olde Peninsula Brewpub (9 minute walk) – This place has more restaurant vibes and is definitely older on the inside, BUT that’s because it is Kalamazoo’s first brewery! We sat outside and the patio was nice. Hours: 11am-1am
Kalamazoo Beer Exchange (4 minute walk) – Okay, I don’t think this place brews its own beer, but it’s a Kalamazoo staple. The beer list is like a stock market and the prices fluctuate based on the “market”. Sometimes it crashes and beers are super cheap! Hours: 11am-1am
Bell’s Brewery (3 minute walk) – I don’t really have to say anything about this place as it’s one of the best known Michigan breweries out there! It has more of a restaurant vibe, but you can sit at the bar. I recommend getting dinner here! Hours: 11am-2am
Final Gravity Brewing (6 minute walk) – I liked coming here later in the day. They have fun music and a photo booth! (!!) Hours: 3pm-1am
Rupert’s Brew House (14 minute walk) – I put this one last because I think it’s a good night bar and place to end. It seems more like a dive bar than brewery, which I love! They have live music and outdoor seating. Hours: 2pm-2am
Eight is a lot to get through in one day, especially with a group. Plan to skip 1-2 of these. If you don’t want to walk, they do have buses that you can rent for the day.
We celebrated my husband’s birthday in quarantine last weekend and here’s what I planned. It was hard to do surprises since he’s always home and it was difficult to find supplies, buttt I think it turned out okay.
VIDEO CALL PARTY! I wanted to have planned activities during the call since those can get out of hand with nothing to do. First I had to settle on a platform – I wanted one where it was easy to share your screen since I had a lot to show. We ended up choosing Go To Meeting (you need a subscription).
We started off with flip cup. I split everyone up into teams, put them onto a power point document and shared my screen. That way everyone knew when to go. It worked pretty well. Make sure you tell people to have cups to flip before the call.
Then we went into a personalized game of Jeopardy. I downloaded this template and made it my own. We had 11 people, so I split everyone up into 3 different games (3-4 people per game). The winner of each game went to the final round game. I asked everyone to submit questions about themselves, the friend group and just any other topics that they wanted included. After I got all the submissions, I tried to break them up into categories. I made sure that if someone submitted a question, their question went into one of the games that they were not playing in. That way no one is answering their own question.
For the finals game – I made up all the questions to be fair since I didn’t know who would make it to that round. After I made up categories out of the submitted questions, I filled in the rest with real jeopardy questions – this website was really helpful. Overall the game was made up of questions about specific people, things that had happened in our friend group and then real trivia questions. I did four categories per game, did a Daily Double per game and there was a Final Jeopardy question per game.
For the actual game play, I shared my screen and read each question out loud. There was a big lag in what people saw so keep that in mind. Also videos and gifs didn’t really work. People held up a piece of paper to buzz in and the other players watching/not in that game were the judges. Also designate someone to keep score – it’s too hard to keep it while you’re reading the questions. If you get a question wrong, you have to drink. If no one can guess the answer, the whole group drinks. I added a birthday shot slide into the last game. You could add more drinking surprises throughout the game. Like “drink before you answer this question” or something like that on the slide.
I made brownies and put candles on top. We sang happy birthday and I told everyone to have a dessert on hand to eat with us.
A good theme makes the call more fun! We did band t-shirts. Other ideas were Hawaiian/beach, flannel and goth. Decorations are also key! I made the house festive with birthday balloons and banners. I had this stuff already, but I think you can get deliveries from Target.
PICNIC PARTY The next day was his actual birthday so I planned some fun stuff for us to do. I ordered bagels on Door Dash the night before and scheduled a delivery for the morning. That way I could sneak downstairs and set up a cute breakfast for us.
Later in the day, we went out for a picnic. Yes our whole day/lives revolve around food. I got some of our favorite cookies and beer delivered earlier in the week. When we got groceries, I added some cheese, bread, meat and some other charcuterie items. He didn’t really notice because a lot of them were used in other recipes throughout the week. I packed all that up in a cooler and we picked a park that we’ve never been to in our area. We walked there and set up a picnic blanket, a little cheese board and drank our beer. I brought a candle sparkler and put it in one of the cookies. It was nice to get out of the house for a while!
Ann Arbor is home to Michigan University, lots of artsy places and tons of restaurants/breweries – there are a million+ ways to make a day or weekend trip here!
My sister and I went for a concert and focused our day on only the best – drinking and shopping! Here was our plan – everything is walkable and easy.
HOMES Brewery: We stopped here before dropping off our car at the airbnb. It’s a brewery known for its sours. The food was good too!
From here on out is all walking!
Treasure Mart: Two floors of vintage goods – dishes, furniture, knick knacks, etc.
FOUND (3 min walk): One of my favorite stores. Unique, cute gifts and home items.
16 Hands(1 min walk): Kind of an art gallery vibe with jewelry and other hand made items.
Thistle & Bess (3 min walk): Another cutesy store with gifts, books and more.
Blom Meadworks (3 min walk): Another one of my favorite stops. Come here just for the aesthetic. It’s all clean white and wood lines. With really good mead!
Blue Tractor Brewery (1 min walk): We stopped here to get a beer at the bar. It was one of the few breweries we hadn’t tried yet. It was okay! Definitely more of a restaurant vibe (that’s not necessarily veg friendly).
Literati Bookstore(1 min walk): This an Ann Arbor legend! You must go here if you haven’t! A famous cute little bookstore. You have to go just to say you’ve been.
Graffiti Alley (6 min walk): An alley full of street art and graffiti. You have to walk through if you’re in the area!
Urban Outfitters (6 min walk): We always have to stop by Urban. I like this location because it’s big and usually has a good sale section.
Sava’s(6 min walk): We wanted to try something new and this place was great. They take reservations and have vegetarian options.
The Ark (13 min walk): This is supposed to be THE artsy venue to see shows. It’s veryyy small and intimate with all seats. You have to be a member to get alcohol. We didn’t LOVE it since it was so quiet you couldn’t even singalong.
Alley Bar (1 min walk): We stopped here after the show. It has dive like qualities and cocktails!
The Last Word: For our last stop, we went to The Last Word heheh. It has a speakeasy vibe and more cocktails!
We stayed overnight, but you could definitely go home at night depending on your drive.
Below is the itinerary for our time in Florida. We needed a break from the March cold! Our days were kind of all over the place, so this is how I wish we organized our time. We went over International Women’s Day weekend so I tried to pick a few women owned businesses as well.
We rented a car and I think it’s pretty much necessary. We stayed near downtown St. Petersburg by Vinoy Park, but no matter where you stay everything is a 20+ minute drive apart. St. Petersburg is in the middle of the beaches and Tampa.
DAY 1: ST. PETERSBURG MUSEUMS + BREWERIES
Our first day had the lowest temp and the most clouds so we decided to do our indoor activities.
The Library: We got brunch here to start off our day. It’s in the hospital, which is super weird. But it has a cute ambiance and an outside patio. Make sure you make a reservation if you want to sit inside. *Woman Executive Chef
The Dali Museum: Definitely worth the hype. All the gallery rooms are upstairs – they are kind of small and crowded but there’s a lot of cool stuff to see. Downstairs is a big gift shop, cafe and park area. They had a wish tree, which I thought was so cute. You take off your wrist band, write a wish on it and tie it to the others on the tree!
Sunken Gardens: This is kind of a tourist trap, but still really pretty. We got a Groupon to enter for $12 total (vs $24 total). There are birds in cages and flamingos (I’m assuming with clipped wings) in a closure, so that made me feel a little bit weird. BUT the plants were all really pretty and relaxing.
Then we did our usual brewery tour! Here are the ones we tried: -Cycle Brewing -Aggregate Brewing -St. Pete’s Brewing -Overflow Brewing -Green Bench Brewing
Cycle and Green Bench were our favorites! Cycle had a cool vibe, good music and they were really nice. Green Bench has an awesome outdoor area with lots of grass and seating.
We decided to go to the beach later in the day for optimal sun, but you could reverse this day easily.
Fort DeSoto Park: We started here since it’s the most southern stop over there. It costs $5 to get in and you have to drive on a few toll roads. When you get in the park, you can drive to the historical fort, piers and beaches. The fort was interesting and you can go on top of it for a cool view of the water. The beaches were small, but quiet. A good alternative to the big ones! You can see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from the East Beach.
Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli & Gulfport: We drove up here for lunch and it was so good! All vegan sandwiches, sauces and sides. They have alcohol too. We were going to take our sandwiches to go and eat at the beach, but they didn’t seem like they would travel well. We walked around the small town of Gulfport before leaving. It’s cute with other restaurants, small stores and a pier. *Woman owned business
St. Pete’s Beach: Next we drove over to the beach for a few hours. It wasn’t hard to find parking later in the day. It does cost like $2.50 an hour though. The beach was moderately crowded, but really pretty!
John’s Pass: A little bit north of the beach is a small fish town called John’s Pass. There are a bunch of tourist souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. I’m not sure I would go back here. Unless maybe you were bar hopping at night. There is a boardwalk along the water that’s nice.
Red Mesa: When we got back, we got tacos at this regional chain. They were pretty good and had a nice outdoor patio.
DAY 3: TAMPA AREA – HYDE PARK + YBOR + SEMINOLE HEIGHTS
We tried to go to everything on the Tampa side in one day to save some drive time.
Hyde Park: This is a higher end shopping district with stores like Lulu Lemon, Anthropologie, Bluemercury, etc. This wasn’t really our scene so we only walked around for about 30 minutes.
Ybor Historical District: This area was weird to us! We went in the morning so a lot of places were closed, but there are a ton of bars, restaurants and cigar shops. It has more of a “gritty” vibe and has a little bit of a New Orleans feel with the historical balcony buildings. We did find some really cool stores though! –La France: Really cool atmosphere and lots of real (more fancy??) vintage. –Revolve: A more laid back vintage/resale store – I got a skirt, sweater and dress from here! More affordable prices. –Dysfunctional Grace Art Co.: Probably my favorite store stop of the trip – full of stuffed animals, bones, Ouija boards, candles, seance stuff, etc. Lots of spookiness set up in a unique way. *Woman owned business
Seminole Heights: This is definitely the hipster area of Tampa! There’s a bunch of cool stuff along N. Florida avenue, but you definitely have to drive to each one. There’s industrial (??) buildings in between: –Cleanse Apothecary (we didn’t go here, but it looked cute) –Vintage Post Marketplace: Lots of cool vintage furniture and other home goods. A small section of clothes. -Microgroove Records: Small, but cute place with new and vintage records. –Angry Chair Brewing (we didn’t go here, but it looks cool)
Then there’s an area by the Riverwalk that has a lot of action. This would be a good place to get dinner or spend a night/afternoon.
–Armature Works: We got dinner here! It’s a big hall with a bunch of different vendors – everything from sushi to sandwiches to ice cream. And obviously lots of bars. There’s a ton of indoor and outdoor seating, games to play, and a great view of the water. There were cute restaurants right in front of this too that had good reviews: Ulele and Stone’s Throw. *Has women owned restaurants inside like Graze 1910 -Tampa River Walk: You can walk, bike, Bird along the river walk for quite a way! –Hidden Springs Ale Works: This is walkable from Armature Works. We stopped in here for a flight of their unique beers. –Bake ‘n Babes: This inside of The Hall which was similar to Armature Works, but much smaller. They have cookies, brownies, sundaes and vegan options! *Women owned business
DAY 4: CLEARWATER BEACH + CENTER AVENUE
Clearwater Beach: We felt like we had to try the famous Clearwater Beach since we were in the area. It was about a 45 minute drive from our St. Pete’s place. There was a lot of traffic near the beach and it was much harder to find parking here. The beach itself was also much more crowded than St. Pete’s beach. The sand was white and the water beautiful though! Next time, I think we’d just stick with St. Pete’s beach since it’s a closer drive and less hectic, but I’m glad we got to see Clearwater. There are a ton of touristy looking restaurants and bars by the beach as well.
Vinoy Park: This small park was right by our airbnb so we walked over to sit on the tiny beach and people watch. There’s a nice path to walk along the water and volleyball courts.
All of the breweries on our tour above were on Central Ave. and this was definitely my favorite area of St. Pete. It’s more hipster and has a cool vibe. There’s a lot of street art, restaurants, breweries, etc. We wanted to go back and walk around more.
Pizza Box: A super cute family owned place! They were super attentive, sweet and the rest of the people there were regulars. The pizza was good with authentic Italian crust.
No Vacancy: Right next to the Pizza Box is this cool bar. It has an outdoor patio full of flamingos, umbrellas and other beachy vibes. They have those huge shareable drinks that come in a big pink flamingo! We went for happy hour and deals were good.
The Bends: Our last stop of the night was this dive. It’s a super skinny bar with Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. We sat outside and got cheap beers.
Overall we would definitely go back! Our advice is to definitely rent a car and stay in the St. Pete area. Definitely visit Central Ave and Seminole Heights! Four days felt like enough, but we would probably add one more to make it more relaxing.
We usually host a party or at least a pre-game every year for the best Spring holiday of all – St. Patrick’s Day!
The key is to make EVERYTHING green and get outside as much as you can.
Food Ideas -Green bagels – Brueggers always has them by us. I think Einstein’s does as well – you can dye the cream cheese green too! -Green & orange veggies – carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, green peppers + dip -Green grapes + cut up kiwi -Orange chips – BBQ or Cheetos/Doritos -Rainbow Sour Patch Kids or Twizzlers -Anything with Lucky Charms cereal – rice crispy treats, etc. -Corned beef sliders
Drink Ideas -Baileys + Jameson – DUH -Irish car bombs -Guinness – DUH -We dyed our light beer green using food coloring (get the liquid kind, not gel)
Decoration Ideas -We got headbands and necklaces from the Target dollar section! –Party City has a million cute decorations every year -Green tinsel curtain for a photo booth -Use gold glitter letters to make a banner -Green plants/shamrock plants!
Every year I host a Galentine’s Day party for my girlfriends – we taste wine and eat lots of snacks.
This year I went with a pastel succulent theme. We did a France vs. USA wine tasting. Here’s how to do it!
Choose what type of wines you want to taste. We did pinot grigio, rose and cabernet sauvignon. Assign each person a wine to bring – so a French pinot grigio, a USA pinot grigio, a French rose, USA rose, etc. It may be easier to purchase all the wine yourself.
Create a wine tasting key and sheet. To make a key – decide what factors to rate – aroma, color, taste, finish, bottle design. We did a 1-5 rating. You can look up all this criteria online! Keep the key general – so it works for all wine types.
Then create a tasting sheet for each guest. It should describe that wine (aroma, color, taste, etc.) and allow space for them to write in a score – one for USA, one for France.
Pair food with each wine. I got snacks that pair well with each type of wine and put them in a small bowl on top of that wine’s tasting sheet. I used: -Pinot grigio: mini mozzarella balls, basil, crostini, olive oil + salt/pepper -Rose: melon balls, prosciutto, pistachios -Cabernet sauvingnon: pecans, cheddar cheese, dried cherries
Set the table! Each place setting should include: -Two different coasters – one for their USA wine and one for their french wine. I made mine from glitter card stock. You can do this other ways, like labeling the glass – any way for guests to distinguish between the two wines. -Wine tasting key -Wine tasting sheet -Pen -Snack bowl for each wine -I gave each guest a Tattly tattoo! -Optional place cards
Serve the wine. I served both wines at once (USA pinot grigio and the french pinot grigio) and allowed for discussion and rating. Each guest gave me their winner for that particular wine, I tallied and announced the overall winner.