Friday, July 22, 2011

CD giveaway winner announcement

Hey kids!

I just chose the winner of my A Curious Glimpse of Michigan CD giveaway!

The winner is...

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-07-22 13:48:09 UTC

...which would be Marcia from!

momwifefitnesslife said...
There is always something to do here in Michigan. I love living in Grand Rapids - all of the other cool cities are close by!
July 15, 2011 10:45 AM

Congrats Marcia! I hope you and your kids love this CD as much as my kids are digging it. They think it's hilarious! Maybe you could see Kevin perform sometime, since he's also from the G-Rap!

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Zucchini cookies

It's that time of the year, when everyone seems to have zucchini coming out their ears. I guess that stuff REALLY likes Michigan. Or it's easy to grow. Or both.

I have to say, zucchini is one of my least favorite veggies. I just don't like the flavor or the texture. I mean, it's edible, but I don't go out of my way to make it. Mom used to bread and fry it sometimes and I remember that being OK, if it didn't turn out soggy.

Anyway, the one thing my mom used to make with the zukes was a batch of cookies. They aren't hard, dunking cookies like chocolate chip. More of a cake-like soft cookie. But they taste good. So, I decided to pick up a couple zukes at the farmer's market and make up a batch.

The first step brings me to what has to be my least favorite kitchen gadget: The Box Grater! Ugh. I despise using box graters. For one thing, I am always afraid I'm going to grate my finger. I've lost fingernails on this thing so many times. (No, I don't use the food after I've grated a nail into it. That's nasty.) Also, I think they're a pain to clean, and they make a big mess.

But, I don't think food-processed zucchini would work for this recipe, so I set about grating up the green stuff. Two cups of it, which was about two not-tiny-but-not-huge zukes.

Then I mixed it up according to the recipe. It looks like your dog ate a bunch of grass then threw up.

Once I got it mixed, it was really runny. I got to thinking maybe I'd accidentally put one too few cups of flour in, so I threw another in. That got the dough to a better consistency, however, my cookies turned out way different than mom's used to. Hers got really flat and were kind of sticky, but tasted better. Mine held together well and were not so sticky, but I thought they tasted like they had a bit too much flour.

Also, I got sick of making cookies, so I dumped the rest of the dough into a loaf pan and baked it forever 'til the middle finally set. It tastes good but got kind of dry.

Slathering it with a huge amount of real butter helps, not that I'd know anything about that.

Anyway, if you want to try zucchini cookies, these passed the kid test, for sure. My boys have been eating them like crazy. They're not EXTREMELY healthy but hey, they do have veggies in them.

For some reason, Jordan keeps calling them "tortilla cookies." I think he learned the words "tortilla" and "zucchini" both last week, and his mind is mixing them up. Anyway, it's stinkin' cute.

Here's my mom's recipe if you want to try making them yourself. I would suggest sticking to the original amount of flour rather than adding another cup to make the dough less sticky. Just allow room on the pans for the cookies to run out flatter, and make sure if you stack them after they cool, use waxed paper in between the layers. Keeping them in the fridge might help, too.


Zucchini Cookies

Beat three eggs until light and foamy.
Add 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 cups grated zucchini and 3 tsp. vanilla extract and mix lightly but well.
Mix 4 cups flour (I used white whole wheat flour) 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. cinnamon and add to egg mixture. Blend.
Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and stir.
Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake in pre-heated 325-degree oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Remember, the cookies will be soft and cake-like.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Curious Glimpse of Michigan CD review and giveaway

I'm a Michigan girl, and I'm raising Michigan kids.

To me, that means sharing with my children my deep love for the beautiful state in which we live and travel. We appreciate so much of what this state has to offer, both in terms of history and nature. We buy Michigan-made products and take most of our vacations around our home state.

Recently, I came across a CD called A Curious Glimpse of Michigan, which was done by a guy from Grand Rapids named Kevin Kammeraad (and his friend Ryan Hipp and a whole bunch of other people!).

It's based on a Michigan poetry book of the same name that Kammeraad and Hipp put together a few years ago. The titles of the 49 tracks on the CD caught my eye because a lot of them were things I love about this state, such as:

a Day on the Mighty Mac

the Petoskey stone

the brook trout

the dwarf lake iris

the painted turtle

and LOTS more.

So, I contacted Kammeraad and he agreed to send me a copy of the CD to review. It arrived quickly, and the boys and I popped it into the CD player to listen to on a drive. Right away, several songs stood out as Logan's favorites.

He LOVES "Cousin Jacks," which is a tribute to the mining men of the past and their delicious legacy: the PASTY (the first fast food, dontcha know?)

"The Fur Trade?" is another favorite. It's got a punk rock feel to it, and both my kids love singing along to the song about the different animals trading fur with each other. OK, I admit it, I often find myself singing this one, too, as I do the dishes or go about my day. It's really catchy.

"Curious Questions" and other "Man on the Street" tracks like "Brook Trout" make my kids giggle, too. They LOVE it!

Another cool thing is that Logan is actually learning real facts about our state from listening to this CD. I'm sure Jordan is, too. He just can't really tell us about it quite yet.

Here's Kevin on how this CD came about:

"The idea of this CD began to develop while we were making the book. The book began as an opportunity when EDCO asked me about making a book of poetry all about Michigan. I wasn't sure what they had in mind, but they allowed us to write about anything, as long as it was about something to do with Michigan. It became "A Curious Glimpse of Michigan" since we wanted it a little odd and we knew it would be random (a glimpse).

After finishing the book, we started to create musical interpretations of the poems and ideas. It surely was a lot of work to put it all together, but it was a lot of fun to see it unfold. At first, we thought it would be just some of the poems done as songs, but we kept coming up with more ideas and because of the many artists involved, it all came together!"

Kevin's favorites:
Super State. "This was one of the first poems we intended to create musically."

The Fur Trade. "This was one of the last songs made. ScribbleMonster presented the idea of this one and it came together very quickly. I never heard a demo of the song; they just went into the studio and recorded it in one night!"

Over 635 Cities. "It's just a fun, funky song."

"I like each song for one reason or another though!"

I found out that just one week after I received my CD, Kammeraad was going to be in town doing a children's program at the local library. That was yesterday, so the kids and I headed up there to meet Kevin in person and see what he was all about.

It was a great, entertaining show and Kevin is a really nice person who knows just how to connect with kids. He had his young son, Carlos, along, too and it was a pleasure to meet him as well. I'd had to wake Jordan up early from his nap to go to the show, and he was rather crabby during the performance, but somehow afterward, when Kevin got down and spoke directly to him, Jordan was smiling and supplying the correct words for the songs.

Here are a few shots from the show. I should've used my flash, so they're a little dark.

We really enjoyed it and after realizing there was a Curious Glimpse of Michigan book that the CD was based on, we came right home and managed to find a copy to order. (It's out of print, but a limited number of them are available--new and used--at We just HAD to have one!

When he sent my CD, Kevin was nice enough to send an extra copy for me to give away here on my blog. If you're a Michigan parent who would like to share fun and interesting facts about this wonderful state with your kids (or if you just like visiting Michigan, or if you just want it for your own listening enjoyment) then here's your chance to win one!

Simply leave a comment on this post (don't forget to include your e-mail address) telling me your favorite thing or things about Michigan. That's it. Easy peasy. Share this giveaway on facebook with your friends and I'll give you another entry (Paste the link in a separate comment for it to count).

I'll randomly choose a winner a week from today. That's next Friday.

Good luck!

Oh! I knew I was forgetting something... This is Kevin's website. Go check him out. He's neat!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FlipFlops are perfect for summer (wine review)

Everyone knows summer is the time for flip flops, but did you know they're not just for your feet?

I heard about FlipFlop wines, and, well OK, I will admit, I'm one to try out new wines based on two things: A cute name/label and a low price. Why? Because I know you don't necessarily have to spend a bundle to get a tasty wine, and also because I can't AFFORD to buy an expensive bottle of wine for just general everyday use.

Anyway, the company sent me out three bottles to try (at no charge to me). Can you imagine the joy when, on a very hot summer day, the FedEx man shows up with a large package containing three bottles of wine? It looked a little like this:

They sent me Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Pinot Noir to sample. I was pleased because, if I'd been given a choice, those would have been the three I'd have selected for myself.

A couple days later, I opened the Pinot Grigio to serve with maple glazed salmon. The pairing didn't work at all. BUT we also had some smoked menominee (whitefish) and somehow the wine actually worked with the smoked fish. That's hard to do. Smoked fish is such a strong flavor, wine will often make it taste really fishy or it will make the wine taste metallic. It didn't. Good to know I can enjoy one of my FAVORITE Michigan treats and still have wine!

I don't know why, but I forgot to take photos of that meal with the wine. Anyway, we drank most of the wine AFTER dinner, and it was good. Both Hubby and I thought so.

The next one I opened was the Riesling. I served it with a standard, simple dinner of baked spaghetti (Hubby's favorite), cucumbers with ranch dressing and bread dipped in seasoned olive oil. Mmmm. Good stuff!

I saved the best for last. The Pinot Noir was by far my favorite. Hubby doesn't care much for red wine but he liked it. He liked the whites better, though. I thought the red was the best. We ate dinner outdoors that night. Grilled chicken on salad, rice and veggies with hummus. The FlipFlop was the perfect complement to an outdoor summer dinner.

Later, as I walked through the kitchen after adding the last of the Pinot to my glass, I toasted the beautiful Michigan sunset through the back window, and managed to capture a bit of it in my glass. Tasted gooood!

So, after trying out the three FlipFlop wines I was given, I have to say I approve. I am not a wine expert by any means, but I like what I like. I'm a big fan of Michigan wines, because I like to keep things local (and because they're good) but if I'm going to just run to the store and pick up a bottle for dinner, there's a good chance I'll grab some FlipFlop. I want to try out the other wines they offer for sure. Lately, I've seen them on sale at my local Kroger store for 2/$10. Can't beat that! Plus, they definitely don't taste "cheap." You know, that vinegary gross cheap wine flavor? Yeah, nothing like that. They're good!

Thanks to FlipFlop for letting me try out your wines. I like them and think my friends will too!

OH! And if you needed any more urging to try FlipFlop, (this is so cool) the company has paired up with Soles4Souls and will provide a pair of flip flop sandals to someone in need! That's awesome! See? You can do some good by drinking good wine!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The alphARace inaugural event

So, as of Saturday we were three weeks out from the Warrior Dash and I'm really excited about it. I think it's going to be a fun day. 11 obstacles within 3.1 miles, including cargo nets, slithering through mud under barbed wire, fire jumping and climbing a wall. I'd never done anything like it before.

As a matter of fact, that made me a little nervous. I mean, I've run a few races but never anything with obstacles. I haven't really been training for it specifically, just running and doing normal strength training. (Not to mention, I'd wanted to drop a few pounds, which didn't happen!) Scaling the wall, I think, is the obstacle that makes me the most nervous, since I've never really tried anything quite like that. I'm sure that means I'm underestimating some of the other obstacles. You know what? I won't know until I try it.

So, anyway, Saturday morning I got up and happened to drop in on facebook (Who, me? You're kidding, right?) and saw a note from my friend Peggy, who mentioned a little race that was happening that day at the home of a couple she knows. She invited me to come. I mentioned it to Hubby, and he didn't want to go due to his knee hurting. I thought it sounded like fun, so Logan and I decided to go and leave Hubby and Jordan at home.

We didn't really know what to expect, but I donned my just-purchased pink camo shirt. I had wanted to wear pink camo for the Warrior Dash. The shirt fit kinda funky though, so I ended up stretching out the neck and tearing off the sleeves and ripping shreds off them to tie in my braids.

We headed out to the Curell family farm up in the northern part of the county. It was HOT. Like 90 degrees and bright sunshine on a farm hot, so I slatered us with sunscreen. I bet we'd both be as red as lobsters if I hadn't done that.

We got there and hung out for a few hours before the racing began. They were still working on the huge waterslide into the pond when we arrived. It made me a bit nervous. Also, the fact that NO ONE had ever done a trial run of the course made me kind of nervous. Call me Nervous Nellie! ;)

It wasn't really an organized race, so to speak. Like I said, I didn't really know what to expect. It turned out to be a friends-and-family sort of trial run so the guys who are putting this race together could get some photos and video for marketing their race, and also to see how the course worked. The distance wasn't actually measured out. They said it was around 2 miles. It felt longer to me, but it's hard to say because the heat really whipped me, I was super hungry when I ran and the terrain was challenging. Corn fields aren't exactly smooth sailing! :) The race wasn't times, and that was probably a good thing!

Anyway, the first running of the race was I think seven people. Five guys and two girls. It was supposed to be guys first, then girls, but the two had to leave early so they ran with the dudes. Oh, and one guy wore a rubber Obama mask. Holy heatstroke, Batman!

Here are the two girls that ran with the guys, posing by the hay afterward in their shirts.

Not everyone got a shirt, since it wasn't a sign-up kind of race, but I managed to snag one since I was planning to do some publicity work for them. Score! I got a black one and I love it.

The race began with a mad scramble up and over some huge hay bales and then off into the corn field.

We didn't go THROUGH the corn field, but around it. However, due to the terrain being dangerously bumpy (You had to be super careful not to roll an ankle, especially if you're me!) it was slightly easier to go a row or two into the corn to run. The run around the corn field felt pretty long.

Then it was time to cross over the stream a couple times. Once on a log, and once or twice by jumping, and then you had to climb up a steepish bank on the other side. There was a rope, but I didn't use it. The only river crossing photos I've seen so far have been from the kids' race. (Isn't that cool? They had a kids' adventure race, too!)

After the river part there was... oh noooo... another, BIGGER corn field to run around. I am sorry. I had to walk for a minute or two. I was so hot, I could HEAR my heart beat in my ears. I ran 10 miles straight on July 4 and it was easier than this. I am clearly not made to run in super hot weather. That's what I get for always doing my running in the morning when it's cool!

Most of the way around the corn field was some barbed wire to army-crawl underneath. I'm glad there wasn't a photographer at this point when I went under because I apparently army-crawl with my butt way up in the air. I kept snagging it on the wires. This is a photo of Gina Curell making her way under it though.

After that came two walls to scale. This shows Brad Curell going over one of them. Yes, he ran in this weird aqua suit coat thingy. Brad's one of the two guys that came up with this race.

After the walls, you finished going around the corn field and then headed into the woods. Here's me entering the woods.

I was hot. And red. And very ready for shade, a dip in the pond and POWERADE. (There was a cooler of water at the walls but I didn't want to stop and drink because I knew it was only a short distance to the end and I get kinda sick if I drink when I run).

Almost there!

After the woods HALLELUJAH! THE WATERSLIDE! Who cared if the pond was stinky and had a foot of slime at the bottom? Not me! I was the first girl to come in of the four of us that ran (the two that ran with the guys, though, would've smoked me if they'd run with the girls' group). I had to catch my breath before going down the slide, but after a minute, down I went

making my entrance into the pond with perfect cheerleader form.

Splash! (yes, that's me)

And yes, I got a BUTT CRACK FULL OF SLIME! Really gross. But it felt so good to hit that water.

And then I got FOOOOOOOD! They'd been barbecuing all day, but I hadn't wanted to eat a lot before running in the hot weather, so I waited. It was worth the wait. I got my purple Powerade, plus BBQ chicken, watermelon and TWO small pieces of cake. Supah Dupah Yummylicious.

And sitting in the shade, all wet and fed? AWESOMENESS.

After the girls all came in and made a splash, the kids lined up for their race. It was super cute.

Lo crossing the log in his first adventure race

Even fairies can run an adventure race!

Here's my friends Peggy and Kevin's son Andrew using the rope to climb the stream bank

Then they all donned life jackets and got their own chances to go down the waterslide.

Logan loved it. He got some great air

and enjoyed swimming around in the reflections of the silos.

In all, we had a fantastic day. A fun race and great people.

Since the race, I have learned that the guys who dreamed it up have big plans to not only continue holding events at the farm, but also to take it around the United States to different military bases, offering those who serve our country a way to compete, challenge themselves and have fun. Plus, they want to donate any entrance fees to charities that serve military families. One of the race founders has served in the Air Force and left right after the race to go back to Germany to serve in the reserves for the next three months.

I wrote up a story for The County Press, and hopefully it will be running on Wednesday.

If you want more information about the alphARace, you can contact Brad Curell at