Eight Awesome Spring Activities to Enjoy this Season

Today, guest blogger Jennifer Hamilton of The Awesome Mitten gives us the run down on some great spring activities to enjoy in Pure Michigan this season.

When thinking about what activities I will be participating in this spring, ideas such as flood-proofing my home and shopping for heavy-duty rain boots came to mind. However, I dug a little deeper into my brain and with the help of others, came up with some great spring activities that we can all delight in.

Spring Building

Spring BuildingI once visited the Upper Peninsula  and was shocked to find my friend building a bonfire in the driveway. If you want to have a bonfire and do not have a fire pit, no fear, there is an excellent Plan B. It is as simple as using a steel wheelbarrow, placing kindling and logs inside, and making fire! It is great fun and a unique way to hold a bonfire almost anywhere.

Other fantastic springtime building projects are birdhouses and bird baths. Birdhouses and baths are always useful, and they are a great project for families to create together.

Spring Eats

During the winter, there are certain comfort foods we consume on a regular basis; soup, slow cooker delights, and various heavy pasta dishes. Spring food is so much more exciting! Most importantly, we can all get our grills out again. There is nothing more delightful than recognizing that grill smell for the first time after a long winter. Additionally, seasonal foods are about to make a great change. Locally grown watermelon, tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers will soon be at our disposal. As we all know, nothing tastes as good as local produce.

Motorcycle/Bicycle Rides

A great way to delight in the smells, sights, and sounds of spring is to get out there on your favorite two-wheeled contraption. Whether you prefer pedaling a bicycle or gliding along on a motorcycle, just go enjoy the fresh air. A fellow Awesome Mitten writer mentioned that he loves going for motorcycle rides to Michigan’s best ice cream spots. And of course, our beloved potholes become a fun obstacle to weave around.

Garden Planning

Though the ground may be taking ages to thaw, it is never too early to decide what you want to grow this year. Some of these items may even be started indoors in pots and transferred outside when the time is right. Michigan’s garden centers are filling up with people buying soil, indoor planters, and seed packets. Items such as tomatoes, broccoli, and cabbage are great produce goods to start growing indoors, then transfer to an outdoor garden.

Disc Golf

Once the snow is melted enough, spring is a great time to explore some of Michigan’s disc golf courses. The sport has exploded over the last ten years, and many parks have taken notice and constructed courses as a result. Many courses wind through the woods, near water, and over beautiful areas of land. Disc golf does not require much physical effort, either, so people of almost any fitness level can participate and enjoy.

Spring Races

Disc GolfSpring is when fairweather runners make a comeback. Jump into a 5K to kickstart this running season! The best part about spring races is that many of them are themed; Easter Races, 5Ks with pets, and costume races start their season in March and continue on through the rest of the year. The best kind of race is the kind that allows you to get a little creative while running, then celebrating with some great food and beverages from race sponsors afterward! RunMichigan.com is jam-packed with races that take place literally every weekend; take a peak and pick one out.

 

 

Fishing

To go along with the great activity of grilling, one needs to catch some fish. Opening day of trout season is the last Saturday of April, so get those fishing licenses ready. Creeks, streams, rivers, bays, and lakes are all full of great tasting fish that want to come home with you. On one occasion, I even had the pleasure of purchasing live worms that had been injected with a fluorescent green dye, making the worms glow in the dark. So get those green worms ready, folks, it’s fishing season!

Morel Mushroom Picking

RelaxingThis is an activity for those with patience. It can be very tedious, but it is a spectacular way to get deep into the woods and spend quality time with your face near the ground of mother nature. Many people cook and eat these mushrooms, and quite a few also sell these morels at a fairly decent price. I do advise going in areas you are familiar with, or at least taking your phone with a GPS because it is alarmingly easy to lose track of oneself out there.

In short, spring is messy, but it is the loveliest kind of messy. Spring is for mud puddles, open windows, and new life. We Michiganders survived one crazy winter; now it is time to rejoice with a fine patio cocktail.

What are your favorite spring activities? 

1236752_10104693579790294_533864666_nJennifer Hamilton is a graduate student and outdoor enthusiast living in Traverse City. Jennifer splits her time between working in the substance abuse field, writing for the Awesome Mitten, and chasing after her three dogs.

Silver Screen “Must-Sees” at the 2014 Ann Arbor Film Festival

Today, Maricat Eggenberger from Visit Ann Arbor shares some highlights from the upcoming Ann Arbor Film Festival happening March 25, 2014 – March 30, 2014. 

Photo courtesy of Mark Gjukich

Photo courtesy of Mark Gjukich

Ann Arbor hosts the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) annually every March, and it’s an event you won’t want to miss!  This year marks the festival’s 52nd year. Known as the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, the AAFF shows more than 180 films from over 20 counties in just six days!

Here are just a few stats…

- The AAFF receives more than 2,500 submissions annually from more than 65 countries.
- AAFF awards more than $20,000 in cash and film stock/services to filmmakers.
- Housed at the Historic Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor.

We spoke with the new AAFF Director, Leslie Raymond to get the scoop on what you don’t want to miss.  She and her team gave us three ways to get the most out of the AAFF.

1. Get a pass!  The AAFF offers passes to attendees, which gets you into each and every day of the festival!

2. Take advantage of the AAFF free events! You can experience some of the films and juror presentations for free. Below are just a few of the amazing free events available.

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Steve Anker
Wednesday, March 26, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Steve Anker is dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of Arts, and formerly served as director of the San Francisco Cinematheque and as artistic director of the Foundation for Art in Cinema.

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Hope Tucker
Thursday, March 27, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Hope Tucker, originally from Memphis, TN, is an artist working primarily in film and video. Since 2000, Tucker’s work has been exhibited internationally at museums, galleries and festivals, including four editions of the AAFF.

 

52nd AAFF Juror Presentation: Jeremy Rigsby
Friday, March 28, 12:30 pm
Michigan Theater Screening Room

Jeremy Rigsby is the Program Director of the Media City Film Festival (Windsor, Canada). Media City will have its twentieth edition in July, 2014.

From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf
Friday, March 28, 3pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium

The Forgotten Space
Sunday, March 30, 2pm
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium

3. Make plans to see these headlining films.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.46.01 PM

Photo courtesy of Visit Ann Arbor

Decline of Western Civilization I
Friday March 28, 5:00pm

Los Angeles Plays Itself
Saturday March 29, 12:30pm

From Deep
Saturday March 29, 5:00pm

Purgatorio
Sunday March 30, 3:15pm

*Joining us for the full festival? Book a room at one of our local accommodations! Click here to learn more about which accommodations are offering hotel specials!

Have you been to the Ann Arbor Film Festival? Tell us about your experience.

Maricat Eggenberger PhotoMaricat Eggenberger is the Communications Manager for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s a proud Michigander that loves traveling, anything eco-friendly and the little adventures in life. 

Take a Bite Out of Michigan’s Produce Season

To celebrate Food and Agriculture Month in Michigan, we asked blogger Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl to tell us how to take advantage of Michigan’s fresh produce season with fun family outings and a few delicious Michigan made recipes.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Spring is right around the corner which means one thing here in Michigan: the growing season has finally arrived! As one of the nation’s largest exporters of produce, we do not take this time of year for granted. From ripe cherries to crisp apples to juicy blueberries and more, here are few fun ideas to make the most out of produce season and create long lasting memories with your family:

Visit a Farmers Market: Nothing gets kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables quite like a visit to a farm stand.  Whether you visit the same farmers market regularly or only pass a farm stand a few times a month, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable each visit. Getting little ones involved in the buying process is an ideal way to get even the pickiest of eaters excited about trying something new. Check out this Farmers Market locator to find one near you!

Head to a U-Pick Orchard: Take advantage of the warmer weather and head to a nearby orchard. Picking your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get the freshest produce available while also sneaking in a little exercise.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Be sure to bring the whole family and get the kids involved. Little hands are great for picking ripe blueberries or sitting on Daddy’s shoulders to reach that perfect peach. This Michigan U-Pick Guide will help you find a nearby orchard and also guide you through what is in season and when.

Eat Seasonally: From the first asparagus spears in early spring to late-fall apples, eating with the season is one of the best ways to ensure that your family gets a full range of nutrients throughout the year. Additionally, when you eat fruit that was picked just a few miles down the road, you will get maximum flavor and peak freshness.

Create Something Delicious: As you eat your way through the season, here are a few tasty ideas for Michigan’s most popular fruits and vegetables:

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Apple Recipes:

Asparagus Recipes :

Peach Recipes:

Cherry Recipes:

Blueberry Recipes

What are your favorite ways to take advantage of Michigan’s world-class produce and agriculture? Do you have a favorite farm stand or u-pick orchard? 

Learn more about Michigan Agriculture in the video below.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.15.39 PMLiz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station.  She is a contributor for The Huffington Post and Cooking Light. Liz’s recipes and food photography have been featured on several websites including Shape Magazine, Food Network blog, The Cooking Channel, TODAY Food and more.