My Favorite Places to Shop Small in #LoveLansing

It’s Small Business Saturday! Did you know that small businesses drive more than 40% of America’s economy? In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. Here are my favorite places to shop small in #LoveLansing.

Aesthetics Med Spa 

If I were to compile a list of the best decisions I ever made, setting up an appointment with Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetics Med Spa is definitely at the top of that list. I’ve written multiple blogs about it, but Jennifer has changed my skin and, as a result, my life. I have had microneedling, Secret RF, TruSculpt iD, chemical peels, the Forever Young BBL with Skintyte, Botox lip flips, and more.

In addition to the in-office treatments I’ve had done at Aesthetics, I’ve also started using medical grade skincare that Aesthetics sells. I love skinbetter science, and Revision Skincare, both of which are only available under the supervision of a doctor—which Aesthetics is.

For Black Friday/ Small Business Saturday/ Cyber Monday, Aesthetics Med Spa is having a bunch of special promos, including 20% TruSculpt iD + an additional $200 off, $25 off any BBL service of $300 or more, 20% of all skincare products (this literally NEVER happens!) and 30% off all Jane Iredale products.

East Lansing Threads

I don’t venture to downtown East Lansing very often but when I do, it’s to pop into East Lansing Threads (or Foster Coffee, but more on that later). East Lansing Threads was voted the best clothing store in East Lansing and carries a number of brands like Kendra Scott, Vineyard Vines and Free People. If you’re shopping for a young person (or are a young person), you’ll definitely want to pay them a visit. 

EL Threads is also having some awesome sales this weekend, including 70% off mens clothing, 50% off ALL handbags, 50% off ALL accessories, 50% off ALL denim and 25% off ALL jackets. 

Retail Therapy

I love Retail Therapy, and I love what they stand for. All of the clothing available at Retail Therapy is responsibly sourced, with the vast majority of clothing being cut to order and fair trade. Celeste, the owner, is not just focused on curating timeless, unique, artisan-made clothing and accessories—she does so in a way a very intentional and conscious way. .If you’re in the market for timeless and chic clothing, or specifically looking to shop Magnolia Pearl, Lack of Color, or Quay Australia, Retail Therapy is your destination

Arched by Allie

Arched by Allie is located in Owosso, so slightly outside of #LoveLansing proper, but I had to include her. If you’re interested in getting your eyebrows microbladed, I can’t recommend her enough. I recently had my eyebrows microbladed by Allie and I can’t say enough good things about the process, the results, or Allie herself. 

Foster Coffee Company

Ah, I love Foster Coffee Company. My friend Andrea introduced me to the OG Foster in Owosso a few years ago and I was instantly in love. I was thrilled when I found out that Foster was coming to EL and their new space is absolutely to die for. Not only is the East Lansing location so cozy, so inviting and so conveniently located—the owners are wonderful people and their mission & vision makes my heart sing. Fosters mission is simple but poignant: to “foster communities through coffee.” They do this by partnering with other local businesses, non-profit organizations, and civic entities in order to create overlapping networks that serve people and build stronger relationships within the community.  In short, they’re great people doing wonderful things to bring others together in a meaningful way. 

If you have a coffee lover in your life, I highly suggest picking up a Foster Coffee Company gift card as a quick Christmas gift—and maybe grab one for yourself while you’re at it. Plus, if you’re stopping at Foster, you might as well walk over to Threads and peek around!

Katie Dean Jewelry

Here’s the deal: Katie Dean Jewelry might not be made in Lansing (it’s handmade in California) but Katie was born and raised in mid-Michigan and still comes back to visit. In fact, she’ll be here next month at a pop-up with East Lansing Threads! She makes the most gorgeous dainty, feminine jewels that you’ve ever seen and she is also the sweetest, most genuine person I’ve ever met. I truly can’t say enough good things about her or her business.

Katie is running an insane sale this weekend, where everything on her site is 30% off (no code needed). On top of that awesome deal, you can also get a super cute blush pink jewelry case for FREE on orders of $75 or more. All you need to do is enter the code GIFT at checkout. 

Megan Emmons Lashes

If you’re interested in lash extensions, Megan Emmons is a lash queen. She’s been doing my lashes for a few months now, and I can’t say enough good things about her. I’m constantly complimented on my lashes and how good they look. I’ve recently had two friends go visit Megan based on how much they love my lashes, and they have raved to me about how much they love them. Getting lash extensions is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. They make my life so much quicker and easier and it’s so nice to wake up looking at least somewhat put together. If you’re interested in booking an appointment with her, you can DM her on Instagram

Old Town General Store

I’m such a sucker for anything made in Michigan or related to Michigan. Every time I need to grab a gift for someone, I head over to the Old Town General Store and grab something Michigan-themed, whether it’s a pint glass, a t-shirt, a card, a candle, or a  Michigan-made snack or bottle of wine. I even bought a Petoskey stone there once! If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, the Old Town General Store should be your first stop.

Curvaceous Lingerie

As someone with boobs, finding a bra that fits is a necessity. For the longest time, I squeezed myself into bras that didn’t fit because I a) wanted to shop with my friends at Victoria’s Secret and b) wanted to buy & wear cute bras. The first time I went to Curvaceous I got fitted for a bra and was amazed to find out that the bra I was about a million sizes too small, in both the cups and the band. Having a bra that fits right has made all the difference in how I feel throughout the day (i.e., no more tiddies spilling out in every direction) and also, in how my clothes fit! I love, love, love, that Curvaceous is size-inclusive so whether you’re looking for small sizes or plus sizes (in bras AND lingerie) they have you covered.

Van Atta’s Greenhouse & Flowershop

If you know me, you’ll know that I LOVE plants. Recently, someone asked me how many plants I had and I guessed 25. I went home and counted and realized I have 62. SIXTY TWO! If you’re in the market for some plants, I highly suggest stopping at Van Atta’s. They have a ton of plants, including tropicals and cacti, and a very knowledgeable and friendly staff. 

Dear Ollie

I’ve never personally met Sara from Dear Ollie, but I absolutely love her work. I LOVE sending/giving people cards and handwritten notes but I prefer for them to be funny/witty/have some kind of random pop culture reference and she just kills it with every single illustration. She is an incredibly talented illustrator and if you share my love of cards and gifts, I’d suggest checking her out. 

Strange Matter Coffee

You might be thinking, “wasn’t there already a coffee shop on this list?” Yes! But that’s okay because there’s room for everyone. I LOVE Strange Matter. I have had countless coffee meetings at Strange Matter, both professional and personal. They have bomb ass donuts, amazing lattes, and great Instagram photo ops, if you’re into that sort of thing. I love that they carry Lansing Facts merch, because I’m a big #LoveLansing nerd and I wear that label proudly. I also love that they support local artists and creatives, including hosting an annual Super Best Holiday Extravaganza Eleganza to kick off the holiday season and support small, independent and local on Small Business Saturday. 

TL;DR

When we shop small and invest our money back into our local communities, everyone wins. Where are you shopping small today? Let me know in the comments!

Fostering Community Through Coffee

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of the new Foster Coffee Company opening in East Lansing later this month. While I was blown away by the physical space itself—it’s gorgeous—and of course their coffee—it’s delicious—what has stayed with me long after the event ended is how passionate they are about their mission to foster genuine community right here in #LoveLansing. 

SNEAK PEEK

Foster Coffee has two other locations—their flagship location in Owosso and a second one in Flint. Their East Lansing location will open to the public next weekend (mark your calendars!) and is gorgeous inside. It’s extremely spacious, meaning there is ample seating, it’s beautifully decorated (including some gorgeous greenery!) and it’s filled with the most wonderful natural light—which will be ideal for anyone working, studying, or snapping photos. 

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They have a ton of merch for sale, ranging from clothing to drinkware and it took a lot of self-control for me to walk out without any branded items. (I already have three of four Foster mugs in rotation and have found them to be perfect for gifts, too!). 

THEIR MISSION + VISION

I love the aesthetics of Foster. From their physical locations to their brand designs and social presence, they knock it out of the park—but more than anything, I love their mission.

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Foster’s mission is simple but poignant: to “foster communities through coffee.” They do this by partnering with other local businesses, non-profit organizations, and civic entities in order to create overlapping networks that serve people and build stronger relationships within the community.  In short, they’re great people doing wonderful things to bring others together in a meaningful way.

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That mission is more than just a tagline. It’s intrinsically baked into every aspect of their business. From the intentionality of the communities they choose to open locations in, to where they source their ingredients from, to the employees they hire, cultivating community and giving back reign supreme—and it shows. 

THE SECRET INGREDIENT IS LOVE

Foster takes a hands-on approach to everything they do. Every small-batch roast of coffee, every shot of espresso, every coffee they brew, and every latte they pour is done by hand. All of their syrups are made in-house from real ingredients—they even make their own almond milk and chai from scratch because, to them, every little detail matters.

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They source high-quality coffees from all over the world and roast them in Owosso, Michigan in small batches. Each coffee is unique and their methodology and roast profiles are designed to showcase the enjoyable and distinguishing characteristics each regional coffee has to offer.

Foster offers more than just drinks, though. At the VIP event, they showcased a number of different food options, including their simple green and berry blend smoothie—which can also be made with coconut yogurt for anyone who prefers or requires a vegan option. They sampled Foster’s version of avocado toast which features tomato, mashed avocado, fresh cracked pepper, sea salt, with a dark green garnish on Stone Circle bread, and last, but certainly not least, they offered a number of different baked goods including pumpkin and blueberry muffins, raspberry scones, and vegan coconut cookies.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Foster Coffee Company’s East Lansing location opens next Saturday on Sept. 20, but they’ll be celebrating all weekend. The schedule for opening weekend is as follows:

9/20 – Grand Opening Weekend (8am – 8pm)

9/21 – Grand Opening Weekend (9am – 8pm)

9/22 – Grand Opening Weekend (9am – 6pm)

COFFEE BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER

Foster’s mission is to bring people together and, based on last night, I can tell that they’re going to achieve that goal with no problem. I can’t wait to visit their EL location for client meetings, brainstorming sessions, remote workdays or simply just meeting friends. 

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TL;DR

Foster Coffee Company is opening a beautiful new space in East Lansing and you should check it out!

 

In Bloom: A Day Trip to Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden

I have always loved peonies. I know they’re kind of the “it” flower online, but long before Instagram existed or ‘aesthetics’ had entered into the public lexicon, my parents’ neighbors had a beautiful patch of peonies that grew on the side of their house. Each summer, for just a few short days, those peonies would bloom and they would give us a bouquet of flowers that would sit in my parents’ kitchen until they died and found their way into the garbage.

ANN ARBOR ISN’T SO BAD

A few years ago I learned about the peony garden at Nichols Arboretum on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Since then, I have always wanted to see them in bloom but, because spring is such a busy time of year and peonies have such a short life span, I have always missed them. I assumed that would be the case again this year, but thanks (?) to the awful weather we’ve been having, the flowers bloomed later than normal and I was able to make it!

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RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY

You know the part in Forrest Gump when Forrest is in Vietnam and he says, “one day it started raining and it didn’t stop for four months”? That’s exactly how it has felt in Michigan this spring—and, of course, Sunday was no exception. I almost told Wajid that we shouldn’t go, because I figured looking at a peony garden in the rain wouldn’t be any fun. I’m glad we powered through, because other than a light drizzle when we first got there, we actually had really nice weather.

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PEONIES, PLEASE

For some reason, I thought that Nichols Arboretum was part of the Matthei Botanicals Gardens—which I’ve also never been to—and I was a little surprised to find that the peony garden was, in fact, just a plot of land with a bunch of peonies! Surprised, but not disappointed. 😉  

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The flowers are arranged in 27 beds with each full bed containing 30 peonies. When filled to capacity, the garden holds nearly 800 peonies and over 10,000 flowers at peak bloom. Fun, nerdy fact: The garden features 350 historic herbaceous varieties—over half of which are no longer commercially available. It’s also the largest peony garden in North America. The more you know!

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WHEN IN ROME

In addition to this beautiful peony garden, the Arb also has some really cool trails. After having a knee issue last weekend, I wasn’t really up for hiking per se, so we walked around a little bit and Wajid held my hand whenever there were stumps or steps, which was very sweet of him. I think after he experienced my knee cap being stuck on the side of my leg, he was actually more concerned about the terrain than I was—which I genuinely appreciated. Not really being a huge nature bitch myself, I would have never suggested hiking or trail walking, but it was really pretty and we even got to see some nature, including a robin with a mouth full of worms and a silkworm that dropped down on his head, lololol.

TL;DR

I—along with every other woman with an Instagram account—love peonies and I highly recommend checking out the peony garden in Ann Arbor. Bonus that they’re still blooming!

My favorite places to #ShopSmall

It’s #SmallBusinessSaturday! As you may have gathered from previous blog posts, I am all about supporting small businesses and I have an especially soft spot in my heart (and wallet) for Michigan creators/artists. In honor of today, I’ve rounded up all my favorite small businesses in Michigan and compiled them in one place.  Happy shopping!

Rebel Reclaimed 

My friend Andrea introduced me to this store about a year and a half ago and I have stopped in every time I have been in Grand Rapids since. I have brought my mom here, my boyfriend, and even dragged a coworker there on a recent work trip (I say drag, but he loved it so, win/win).

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, there is something for everyone on your list at this store. From funny/witty to heartfelt and thoughtful this store could be your one stop shop, if you wanted it to be. Prayer candles with the Fab Five? Check. Ruth Bader Ginsburg merch? Yup. Witty cards? Loads of ‘em. Candles? Of course. Plants? Duh.

They recently moved into a much bigger space (yay for small businesses growing!) and in addition to being successful entrepreneurs Chip and Dan are also the cutest couple of all time.

Dime & Regal

In keeping with the West Michigan theme, I have to mention another great store—Dime & Regal.

By now you know all about my affinity for small business/local creators/artists. Dime & Regal was essentially made for people like me. Dime & Regal is a handmade goods store dedicated to showcasing local artists and Michigan made products—and they do so in a very sleek, chic way.

My absolutely favorite items are the handmade ceramic boob planters by Hillary Dragon Ceramics. I saw them on Instagram and knew that I had to have one in my home. I basically stalked Dime & Regal on IG to make sure they’d have them in stock when I was in town (they sell out fast!) and was thrilled when I got there and they had loads of them. 

Rock Paper Scissors

I first went to Rock, Paper Scissors with my mom during a day trip to Ann Arbor and it was love at first sight (shop?). The store is filled to the brim with things that you could purchase for other people as gifts but, let’s be real, you’ll probably want to keep for yourself.

My absolute favorite thing about Rock Paper Scissors is their card selection. If you know me, you know that I love buying cards. I don’t think that you need a special holiday to remind people that you love and care about them, and Rock Paper Scissors is my go-to for supplying those witty, thoughtful, sometimes inappropriate, but always hilarious, cards.

My other favorite thing about RPS (well, one of my favorites, if I listed them all we’d be here all day) is the amount of political inventory they have in their store. From RBG ornaments, to children’s books about activism and feminism, to things that make fun of Trump ( I bought my boss some Donald Trump Tiny Hand soap for his birthday) I absolutely love RPS’ selection.

I stop by this store every time I’m in Ann Arbor. I recently brought my boyfriend here and he had as much fun browsing the store as I did.

City Bird

My time in Detroit isn’t complete unless I’ve stopped at City Bird. We’ve already established that I love cards and City Bird has plenty of ‘em. I feel like most Michiganders have a special place in their heart of Detroit (or maybe it’s just me?) but I buy Detroit-themed merch every time I come here because it is the best place to buy it.

This is one of my go-to stores for stocking stuffers. Aside from Detroit-themed things, I love buying Michigan-themed things. I have purchased coasters, magnets, postcards, keychains, cups and more from City Bird that are emblazoned with Michigan specific imagery because, well, I can’t stop myself. I take them home and gift them to family, no matter what time is it.

In addition to Michigan stuff, I have also purchased some really great office stuff from there including a nameplate that says “Fucker in charge of all you fucks” on it that I gifted to a coworker. I bought one for myself that says “Nasty Woman.”

Nest

Ah, I am a sucker for Nest. Nest and City Bird are next door neighbors and I never visit one without immediately stopping next door. Nest is my go-to for all things plant-related. They have a huge assortment of plants and planters (and really cool brass misters).

This is a great store if you’re looking for small things for the home. In addition to all the plant stuff, they also have lots of things for the home. I am especially impartial to the kitchen items (and candles because, duh), and I can never walk into this store without walking out with something I probably didn’t need.

Vosenna

I have an entire blog post dedicated to Vosenna and how much I love the store, the owner and their business philosophy. If you love makeup, this store is an absolute must on your shopping list (if not for your loved ones, than for yourself). 

Walking into Vosenna is like walking into an indie makeup paradise where nothing is tested on animals, most things are vegan and (almost) everything is made in the United States. There is something at Vosenna for everyone, ranging from makeup to skincare to fragrance (yes, that’s right—even for men!).

Retail Therapy

Located in Lansing’s historic Old Town, Retail Therapy is a staple for clothing in #LoveLansing.  Retail Therapy has an eclectic mix of American, European, and Asian women’s fashion with an emphasis on sustainable, ethical, slow fashion labels.

From clothing, shoes and accessories there is definitely something for women of all ages at Retail Therapy. I recently picked up an adorable coat for my mom for Christmas (and gave it to her early because I’m horrible at giving gifts) and she loves it!

By the way #LoveLansing friends, Retail Therapy is having a Shop Small event today with sales and wine and cheese. The best way to shop is with wine and cheese.

Rail and Anchor

Walking into Rail and Anchor feels like home.  The store always smells amazing, there’s soft music playing and you’re always greeted with a fresh cup of tea. Talk about an ideal shopping experience. 

Rail and Anchor is full-to-the-brim with everything you could ever want or need. Some of my favorites are the candles they carry (I looove P.F. Candles), the jewelry (Machete earrings are my fav) and the keychains! Rail and Anchor also houses perhaps the coziest corner of plants in Michigan, and I’m tempted to buy them all every time I walk in the store.

They always have the funnest, most eclectic mix of inventory, I always end up doing multiple laps in an effort to take everything in.

Van Atta’s Greenhouse

Even if you and everyone you know has a black thumb, you’ll still want to put Van Atta’s on your Christmas shopping list. In addition to having an amazing selection of plants, they have loads of other goodies, including Michigan made products. From candles (shoutout to Kalamazoo Candle company!) to clothing, to a surprisingly large section of cards (including one of my favorite artists/creators Emily McDowell) I sometimes go to Van Atta’s just to look around.

If you are shopping for someone who loves plants, you’ve come to the right place. Van Atta’s has an amazing selection of plants, including tropicals. That means you can stop up on those cacti, succulents and air plants for the crazy plant lady in your life. Or also for me, if you’re feeling generous.

Elodie Boutique

I’ve blogged about Elodie Boutique before, but had to include it on this list because I love them. A little outside of my normal shopping radius, Elodie is located in Midland, Michigan and has tons and tons of adorable clothing, shoes and accessories for women.

I bought a brown hat there earlier this yet (pictured above) and I am still obsessed with it. It is seriously the cutest boutique full of so many good things. Jewelry, big floppy hats (my favorite) and cute clothes—all at very reasonable price points.

TL;DR

Did you know that there are more than 870,000 small businesses across Michigan? If you tend to shop at big box stores, I challenge you to visit local businesses first this holiday season. The crowds are smaller, the gifts are unique and you’re helping support a real person & their community.  After all, for every dollar spent at a small business, 67 cents of it goes back to the local community.

 

 

 

 

A Fun-Filled Fall Day at Uncle John’s Cider Mill

As soon as the temperatures started to drop and the leaves even hinted at changing color, I turned into Buddy the Elf. What does that mean? It means I started making lists of all the fun fall things that I simply could not miss out on doing with Wajid. It went something like this: first, we’re going to ago apple picking, then we’re going to carve pumpkins, eat donuts and beer bong apple cider, then we’re going to go on a hay ride and hold hands and eat an entire package of Pillsbury pumpkin-shaped cookies and then we’ll snuggle.

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I’m kidding, partly.

FAILED PLANS

I really had my heart set on taking a trip up north to see the fall colors. It’s something that I’ve  always wanted to do, and since neither of us have done it before I thought it would be the perfect ~romantic~ weekend getaway. Unfortunately, life happens and between the short window of time the leaves are peaking (honestly why can’t nature just accommodate my personal timeline), the ever-changing weather and our busy schedules, we just can’t swing it.

Despite the likelihood of our trip becoming less and less likely with each passing day, I continued to cling onto the idea with blind optimism until Saturday night when Wajid finally told me it wouldn’t be possible. If I’m being honest, I was pretty bummed. I wasn’t upset with him, obviously, but I was upset with the situation and the fact that life isn’t fair and sometimes things just don’t work out. But, as Ross Gellar said, I’m fine!

PLAN B

Wajid knew that I was disappointed and on Sunday morning he shared a fall nature walk Facebook event with me. It wasn’t a trip to the U.P. but it was a sweet gesture and I appreciated that, even if we couldn’t take the trip, he was still putting effort into things he knew meant a lot to me.

I knew that I would much rather take a day trip to Uncle John’s Cider Mill than go on a nature walk—and to be fair, neither of us had ever been to Uncle John’s, so it was still a fall-themed first for both of us.

UNCLE JOHN’S

Having never been to Uncle John’s, I didn’t really have any expectations. I thought we would have a decent time, but I never anticipated that we would have so much fun.

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Oh, hello. My boyfriend is a model.

For starters, we honestly couldn’t have asked for better weather. I know that the internet would have you believe that fall is always crisp temps, sunny skies and pretty colors but as someone who has lived in Michigan for 25 years, I can tell you that, while there are a handful of those days, there are just as many that are rainy, gray and/or cold and not particularly the kind of weather you’d want to spend an afternoon at an apple orchard in.

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Calvin Klein, where ya at?

With that being said, we truly did have the weather of a quintessential fall day. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold—it was the perfect crisp weather you imagine when you think of fall. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze as we strolled through apple orchards, wandered through corn fields and stopped at every chance to take pictures. The apples were red and ripe, the pumpkins were bright orange and the leaves were at the perfect point—enough of them had changed to be pretty and festive, but not too many to the point where the trees are naked and serving as a reminder of the impending winter.

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Wajid took so many photos of me and never once complained. Now if only he’d accept my marriage proposal so he can really be my Instagram husband.

CIDER AND DONUTS

We spent hours walking around the farm. Seriously, I think we were there for four hours. It was really nice just spending time together. We strolled through apple orchards, and corn fields, ate cider and donuts, saw cute dogs (and there was even a woman carrying her cat around!) and spent the entire day together just laughing and having a good time.

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I know that those boxes are for apples but they make excellent photo props.

With the exception of an episode of Curious George, I had never seen how apple cider is made. After buying our cider and donuts, we grabbed a table right in front of the fruit press and watched it smash up apples while we snacked on our festive treats.  It was fun to watch people crowd around to see how the cider is made and Wajid, always curious, had to get some up-close-and-personal shots to better understand the science and mechanics behind the process.

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That’s a genuine laugh. Squinty eyes and all.

As two grown-ass adults, I think riding on the rides in the children’s area would probably be frowned upon but it did look like a good time. (And given the chance, I think Wajid would have ridden the bear ride in a heartbeat).

I  thought that our visit to Uncle John’s would be much shorter-lived. Honestly, I definitely thought we would have enough time to go to Van Atta’s before they closed (I haven’t been there in months and I am having serious FOMO), but we left after 6 p.m. Having never been, I thought we would grab some cider and donuts, snap some pics and be on our merry way, but there was so much more to do. Plus, there is something kind of nice about just being able to roam around outside in the fresh air. (I can’t believe I’m saying that, I don’t even know who I am anymore). I kind of already want to go back?

TL;DR

At the risk of sounding like a shitty infomercial, there is truly something for everyone at Uncle John’s. If there is another nice fall day this season, grab your friends or your fam (and definitely your dog!) and take a trip to St. Johns for some cider (alcoholic or not) and donuts—and soak up a beautiful fall day while you still can.

A Day Trip to Ann Arbor

Over the weekend, Wajid and I made a spontaneous day trip to Ann Arbor for the Michigan Cactus & Succulent Society’s Annual Show & Sale. Our trip turned out to be a little different than we anticipated but we still got to spend the day exploring Ann Arbor together (he’d never been!) so it’s a win in my book.

BEING SPONTANEOUS

On Friday night, Wajid asked me if I planned on going to the plant sale. Having marked myself “interested” in so many plant related events recently, I was confused as to which one he was talking about. I thought about all the upcoming plant festivities. The plant sale on campus was Friday and I missed it, and Van Attas plant sale wasn’t until this week—I was stumped. Somehow, I had totally forgotten about the annual plant sale at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, and we decided on the spot to take a trip to Ann Arbor the following day.

Despite the fact that Ann Arbor is home of my arch-rival (honestly, I’m mostly joking) we braced ourselves for game day traffic and decided to go anyway.

MAKING THE PILGRIMAGE

It turns out that we weren’t the only plant nerds to make the pilgrimage to the cactus and succulent sale because it was packed. We struggled to find a parking spot and, once we did, proceeded to wait in line for at least 30 minutes to get into the show. There was a room with various kinds of cacti and succulents on display and I held our place in line while Wajid went and checked it out. At one point I peeked in the room and saw him talking to an employee and, at the risk of sounding disgustingly cheesy, it melted my heart to see him talking to someone about plants. While we waited in line he told me all about the plants on the posters hanging in the hallways and I’m always impressed at how much he knows about plants (I mean, I know it’s literally his job, but still).

When we finally got to the plant room we learned that it was cash or check only, and being the high roller that I am, I had one whole dollar on me. I normally carry my checkbook with me (because I’m 100 years old) but had taken it out of my purse before going to a conference in Detroit earlier in the week. I was hot and hangry and might have had a mini meltdown but—while I was a grouchy asshole—Wajid was the sweetest and most understanding (per usual).

The plant sale wasn’t a total bust. I got to see some cool cacti and succulents, including ones that someone had arranged to look like genitalia, which cracked me up, even though I was sweating my ass off. And, let’s be real, it’s not like I need any more plants.

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HANGRY

After leaving the botanical gardens we headed downtown and got lunch. Driving through campus was, dare I say, fun? We checked out the buildings around Central Campus and despite being a MSU alumna, I must admit that U of M has a beautiful campus with some impressive architecture.

 

Our original plan was to go to Frita Banditos but, thanks to it being gameday in Ann Arbor, it was packed and we had to choose a different restaurant. We ended up going to Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, where we tried 8 different beers/ciders and shared pizza and a burger. The food and beer was okay, but nothing really to write home about. I know that Lansing isn’t the biggest or most glamorous city, but we do have some pretty kick-ass breweries. I guess that’s just another way that EL>Ann Arbor.

SHOP LOCAL

I insisted that we couldn’t leave Ann Arbor until we had been to Rock Paper Scissors, because it is one of my absolute favorite stores in Michigan. I was a little nervous that Waijd wouldn’t love RPS as much as I do, but we had so much fun going through store looking at all the cards and gifts, taking pictures of oven mitts and mugs emblazoned with witty and inappropriate sayings and laughing. I ended up buying a bunch of cards (that I didn’t need) and some other knick-knacky things that I also didn’t need but were definitely 100 percent worth it.

INDIE MAKEUP

We rounded out our day trip with a stop at Vosenna, a makeup store that exclusively carries indie, vegan, and made in America makeup brands (for the most part, there are a few exceptions). My friend and fellow blogger Andrea Kerbuski raved about the store and the store owner, and I knew I had to check it out.

The owner of the store, Elizabeth, was kind enough to give me a tour and break down all the brands that she carries, her favorite products from each line and why she is so passionate about better-for-you makeup and skin care products. I had only intended on shopping, but I actually ended up learning a lot about the ingredients in makeup and skincare and the regulations (or lack thereof) in the industry. Elizabeth was kind enough to gift me a natural deodorant from Rustic Maka and I ended up picking up a new highlighter from Katherine Cosmetics, as well as the Pimple Mud from Fat and the Moon. A more in-depth blog about Vosenna (and the products I picked up!) is coming soon.

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You would think that, having no interest in makeup, Wajid wouldn’t have wanted to stop at Vosenna—but it was actually the one place he insisted we go. I told him that I wanted to write a blog about the store and he told me that was the most important stop we would make that day. He is the best.

UNTIL NEXT TIME, ANN ARBOR

Having decided to go to Ann Arbor on such short notice meant that I didn’t really have any expectations for the trip. We might not have been able to buy any plants, and we didn’t get to eat at the Instagram-worthy restaurant, but honestly none of that mattered. I had so much fun wandering through Ann Arbor, trying new beer, buying things I didn’t need and exploring a new makeup store! We’re already planning our next trip back.

 

#LoveLansing Spotlight: Van Atta’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop

Just over a year ago I found myself on a wild goose chase for an elusive monstera plant. I sat down one Saturday afternoon and called every greenhouse/store that sold plants in the mid-Michigan region, determined to have one of those trendy house plants in my possession by the end of the day.  Greenhouse after greenhouse, store after store I heard a) we don’t’ carry those plants or b) we don’t have any in stock at the time. An employee at a greenhouse in Jackson even asked me why I would want a swiss cheese plant, citing their “ugly, hole-filled leaves.” Rude.

Not willing to take no for an answer, I continued my search and came across Van Atta’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop. Not only did they have a gigantic monstera plant, they were willing to hold it for me while I made the pilgrimage from my parents house in Jackson to their greenhouse in Haslett.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

For a plant nerd like me, walking into Van Atta’s felt a lot like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory—pure imagination. I was surrounded by plants, trees and tropicals in a scale I had previously never known. I was in love.

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To make matters worse (for my wallet), everyone there was so helpful. They had hidden my plant in a corner and marked it as sold, and were so patient and kind with me as I realized I had no earthly idea how to take care of my new plant baby. They even helped me get it on a cart and, after paying, helped me load it in my car.

STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM

Fast forward almost a year and I have made more trips to Van Atta’s than I can even count (and definitely more than I should have). I have purchased annuals, perennials, succulents, cacti, hanging baskets, cut flowers, cards, watering cans, etc. Basically, I shouldn’t be allowed in Van Atta’s without a chaperone because I can’t.stop.buying.things.

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Here’s the deal. I won’t stop buying things from Van Atta’s. Like a lot of things in life, you get what you pay for. Sure, you could pick up succulents almost anywhere at this point in time—Meijer, Home Depot, your local gas station (kidding, but also wouldn’t be surprised)—but you don’t know what the quality will be like or where they were sourced from. If you purchase a plant with mites, mealybug or a fungal infection—which you might not realize upon purchasing—it’s not going to last long. And if it does, in fact, have an issue like that, it’s going to spread and infect the rest of your plant collection at an alarming rate. 

I don’t know about you, but I have spent too much time and money on my plant collection to have it ruined by sub-par plants. And, it probably goes without saying, but I love them too much! No shame in my #PlantLady game.

I don’t have to worry about that when purchasing plants from Van Atta’s. I know that I am purchasing great quality plants and getting expert advice on how to care for them— and even trouble shoot if I have an issue in the future. Having a team of experts at your disposal to answer all your plant questions is priceless.

SOCIAL MEDIA EXTRAORDINARES

I am obsessed with Van Atta’s social media—their Instagram in particular. As a social media manager, I am hyper aware of a brand/companies social media presence—and they get an A+ from me. Always posting updates and pictures of new inventory, classes, and specials I never have to wonder if they have what I need in stock.

Bonus points: I have DM’d them so many times on Instagram that sometimes they even proactively reach out to me and tell me about new shipments of cacti and succulents! You might think that the excellence customer service only applies to your in-store experience at Van Atta’s, but you would be wrong.

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION

To make things even better, they have an annual Customer Appreciation Day where everything in the store is 25 percent off! Considering that I have only been privy to the magic that is Van Atta’s for less than a year, I just experienced this for the first time. Despite my promise to myself that I would stop buying plants until after I move, Wajid and I went this afternoon and I bought a fiddle leaf fig that I’ve been eyeing for ages, as well as a marbled pothos. Waijd bought me super unique looking succulent and a lily because he’s the best.

There was live music, free hot dogs, chips and drinks and multiple raffles you could enter for the chance to win free goodies. Seriously, this place is magical.

TL;DR

A little bit off the beaten path, Van Atta’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop is one of the most magical places in #LoveLansing. Whether you’re looking for cut flowers, cacti, succulents s, annuals, perennials, or anything and everything in between Van Atta’s is the go-to spot for all your plant needs. Not currently in the market for anything? Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on new inventory and specials.

Visiting Frederik Meijer Gardens

If Michigan’s never-ending winter has left you feeling stir-crazy and longing for spring, you can some reprieve at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Well played, Michigan

Wajid and I have been talking about taking a day trip to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids for months, but always with the idea that we would go when the weather got nice. We finally made plans to go last weekend—considering mid-April seemed like a safe bet for decent weather—and instead freezing rain and ice turned Michigan into a skating rink and knocked power out across the state.

Getting to GR

This weekend we were finally able to make the trek to GR and, thankfully, it was well worth the wait.

Wajid and I are both plant nerds (I say that in the best, most loving way possible. It’s a point of pride, to be honest) and I knew he would love Meijer Gardens. As an added bonus, in addition to the tropical conservatory and the sculpture park—which are amazing in and of themselves— the annual Fred and Dorothy Fitcher Butterflies are Blooming exhibition is back at Meijer Gardens for the 23rd year.

Blooms and Butterflies

On any given day, walking into the tropical conservatory (Michigan’s largest one, by the way) feels like being instantly being transported to a tropical paradise, but the Butterflies are Blooming exhibition really adds a special touch.

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Photo courtesy of Meijer Gardens

Arriving from Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, Butterflies Are Blooming is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. There are 50 different species of butterflies—over 7,000 in total—freely flying around. The assortment of colors and sizes was nothing short of amazing. It truly is such a unique and special experience.

As a disclaimer, if you’re someone who doesn’t love heat and humidity you might want to limit the amount of time you spend in the tropical conservatory. Don’t get me wrong—I love the tropical conservatory and I loved the butterfly exhibit but, fair warning, it’s 85 degrees with 70 percent humidity. Wajid ditched his jacket as soon as we walked in and by the time we made our way through, my hair looked like Monica Gellar’s from “The One in Barbados,” and I was teetering on being a whiny baby.  (In my defense, it had just as much to do with the body-to-body traffic as the heat/humidity). Don’t let that deter you! Just make sure you check out my tips for visiting Meijer Gardens before taking the plunge.

The Butterflies are Blooming exhibit ends on April 30—but if you can’t make it to the exhibit, you should still find time visit Meijer Gardens at some point during the year.

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I might be a little biased thanks to my weird obsession with plants, but—in my humble opinion— Meijer Gardens is truly one of the most special places in Michigan. There is so much to take in, both inside and out. Even being the plant nerd that I am, I enjoy the outside sculpture park and Japanese gardens just as much as I enjoy the gardens and tropical conservatory.

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Tips for Visiting Meijer Gardens/Butterflies are Blooming:

Bring your camera

Meijer Gardens is one of the most Instagram-worthy places in Michigan. Between the plants, the sculptures, the landscape (that Japanese garden!), and the butterflies you will want to take pictures. I regret not taking my DSLR, but I was still able to snap some good photos with my new iPhone 8 Plus (and Wajid took some pretty good ones, too).

Wear bright colors

My wardrobe typically consists of many different shades of black, but for some reason the day we went I decided to ditch the dreary colors and wear a bright red kimono. It turns out butterflies like bright colors, and this translated into butterflies following me around and landing on me, which was an added bonus.

Dress in layers

No matter what the weather is like outside, the tropical conservatory is hotter than hell (and extremely humid!). Being the delicate flower that I am, I started getting a little whiny toward the end of our loop around (shout out to Wajid for always putting up with me). Wear something that you can easily take off inside the conservatory, but put on if its a little chilly outside when you stroll through the outdoor exhibits.

Go on a weekday

Wajid and I both have busy schedules, (admittedly his is busier than mine—he works harder than anyone I know, and I truly admire his work ethic and passion) and finding time to do things can be tricky. If you can swing it, I highly recommend going on a weekend. Don’t get me wrong—we had a great time, but it was crazy busy. I would have preferred going when it was slightly less busy but, hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

If you go

Meijer Gardens is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to to 5 p.m. For more information on scheduling a visit, check out their website.