About Brandy Wheeler

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Brandy Wheeler has created 307 blog entries.

Ring in the New Year in Traverse City

New Years Eve Traverse City photo

What will you do on New Year’s Eve?

If you’re like me New Year’s Eve sneaks up on you after a long holiday of feasts, friends and family. Sometimes we have a plan, and sometimes we’re making it up as we go along. So for all you last minute planners out there here are a few ways to enjoy New Year’s Eve up north.

The CherryT Ball Drop

If you’ve ever dreamed of making it to Times Square on New Year’s Eve to be a part of huge crowds chanting a countdown to ring in the new year, then this option is for you (in a much smaller scale of course). Downtown Traverse City is bustling on New Year’s Eve during the CherryT Ball Drop. No that’s not a spelling error. The CherryT stands for Chartity ball, as the event is a fundraiser by design. The entrance fee is a $3 cash donation or 3 canned goods, with proceeds benefiting the Goodwill Food Pantry.

For all the details about this year’s CherryT Ball Drop visit their website.

Family Fun

Looking for a family-friendly way to count down to 2014? How about glow bowling, music, pizza and enough arcade games to keep the kids busy for hours. You’ll find it all at Lucky Jacks from 5:30pm – 8:30pm on New Year’s Eve. If whipping your friends at laser tag or on the pool table sounds better than freezing outside, why let the kids have all the fun? Show up later for the adult party. It lasts from 9pm – 1am.

Hoping to celebrate outdoors, but not interested in the big ball drop crowds? How about donning your skis for a torchlit parade followed by fireworks? That’s what’s in store at Crystal Mountain Resort this year. There’s an ultimate family pirate party the kids will enjoy, or join the Slopeside party for dinner and dancing along with a champagne toast. Party cover varies. Lift ticket or season pass required to participate in the torchlit parade.

Nightclubs

Shimmers on the Bay inside the West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort has two times the fun this year. They’ve got two bands: Soul Celebration & Twice Shy, along with DJ Shawny D as the host. Rock in the New Year with party favors, an old-fashioned balloon drop, champagne toast and lots of dancing fun. $15 cover

If you’re a fan of Billy Strings & Don Julin you’ll want to be at InsideOut Gallery for the Swingin’ Stringin’ New Year’s Eve. For a $10 admission you can enjoy the sounds of the True Falsettos and legendary aforementioned duo who will take you clappin’ and toe tappin’ into 2014. There’s a full bar available at the Outre Lounge, or step out for a craft beer and a bite next door at the Workshop Brewing Company.

Michigan Sparking Wine photo

Have a bubbly New Year!

Bring on the Bubbly

It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve if there weren’t some corks a poppin’. As always our glasses will be be full of Michigan selections. So we thought we’d share a few local recommendations.

You can’t go wrong with L. Mawby this time of year. They specialize in sparkling wines from dry to sweet. My picks shy away from brut, which is why I opt for Detroit or Wet.

One of my personal favorites is only available seasonally from Black Star Farms. The Bubbly Nouveau tends toward the sweet and pink, which makes it a great choice when going to a party. If you’re lucky to find any left on the shelves by New Year’s Eve pick up a bottle or two. Otherwise log that idea away for next year.

Left Foot Charley is bringing out something special for the holiday. Stop by on New Year’s Eve for a glass of their 2010 Gitali, a brut bubbly. Available by the glass (for a limited time) or by the bottle.

Celebrate by Chateau Chantal is another great sparkling wine option from the Old Mission peninsula. It also makes a nice hostess gift if you’re attending a New Year’s party with friends.

 

New Years appetizer photoTasty Treats

My favorite way to spend New Year’s Eve is at a house party with friends. But you can’t show up empty handed. So I’m going to share a handy holiday recipe that’s sure to please.

Cranberry Brie Bites

You’ll need:

Washed whole fresh cranberries
maple syrup
granulated sugar
cherry preserves (I like Old Mission Traders or Benjamin Twiggs)
brie, rind removed and sliced in 1/4″ thick slices
water table crackers
fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions: Soak the cranberries in maple syrup overnight. Drain and roll cranberries in granulated sugar. Assemble the crackers with a slice of brie, top with small amount of cherry preserves and 2 or 3 sugared cranberries. Add a mint leaf as an edible garnish.

They’re beautiful, and they taste great!

You’ve got your bubbly, a great appetizer, and lots of options for how to spend your New Year’s Eve. So get out there and party like it’s 1999. It may not the be the turn of the century, but I’m looking forward to the turn of the calendar page just the same.

Happy New Year everyone!

By |2018-09-12T13:20:14+00:00December 31st, 2013|Events, Family Fun|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift GuideI know it’s challenging to find the time to scour the stores hunting for the perfect gift. So each year I sneak out to our local retailers in search of eye catching items for someone special on your list. I hope these suggestions will get the holiday spirit flowing. Each item includes a price (or price range) and the northern Michigan store where it can be purchased. I encourage you to shop local and help boost the economy in our own backyard. (more…)

Wellington Inn at Christmastime

Antiquities Wellington Inn

Discover the beauty of the Wellington Inn at Christmastime

If you’ve ever wandered down historic 6th Street and Washington in Traverse City and wondered what it would be like to live in those huge Victorian homes then this is for you. The Wellington Inn is opening their doors to the community for the 11th season in a celebration of old fashioned Christmas spirit. I stopped by the Inn this week for a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s to come this weekend and next during their annual Inn at Christmastime extravaganza.

(more…)

By |2018-09-12T13:20:14+00:00December 4th, 2013|Events|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Donates 20 iPads for Students with Autism

Traverse Traveler iPad Donation graphic

The Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism committee donated 20 iPads with the proceeds from the second-annual event. The iPads were presented on Monday, September 9th to Traverse City Area Public Schools for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Traverse Traveler Donates iPads to TCAPS image

Photo

Front (L-R):
Kathy DiMercurio – Volunteer Chair
Kara Eubank – Lucky Jacks, sponsor
Carol Lorenz – Activities Chair
Brandy Wheeler – Event Founder
Kate Daggett – Donations Chair
Jame McCall – TCAPS Special Education

Back row (L-R):

Lisa Woodcox – Disability Network, committee member
Michelle Hazard – Network Traverse City, committee member
Kelly Hall – TCAPS Board President
Steve Cousins – TCAPS Superintendent
Josh Russell – Jimmy Johns, sponsor
Nick Nerbonne – Social Media Chair
Greg Nickerson – CityMac, sponsor

 

On a slushy day in April, 237 participants braved unseasonable weather to navigate the streets of downtown Traverse City for the second-annual Scavenger Hunt for Autism. Teams used the Traverse Traveler app and a QR code reader to discover downtown businesses, check-in and unlock a clue for an activity at each location. Volunteers stationed at every venue assisted with the on-site challenge, and handed out prize tickets. Fifty-nine teams made up of families, educators, children with autism and disabled adults encountered puzzles and games that challenged their brains, their sense of direction, and teamwork.
 

The event, sponsored by Lucky Jacks, was a fundraiser for the iPads for Autism program at Traverse City Area Public Schools, a pilot program started in 2011 to provide iPads for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Traverse Traveler became a Partner in Education with TCAPS in order to grow this program.
 

The Scavenger Hunt fundraiser generated donations from event sponsors, team registrations and private donors. Paired with contributions from the Light it up Blue event in early April, Traverse Traveler raised over $10,700 for the iPads for Autism Program in 2013. Donated iPads will be utilized by elementary and secondary students throughout the TCAPS district.
 

"When we started this fundraiser it was extremely difficult for a student with autism to have access to an iPad unless mandated by their I.E.P (individualized education plan). In two years we’ve raised over $25,000 and added 47 new iPads to bridge the gap between what’s mandatory and what’s necessary," said event founder, Brandy Wheeler. "I’m extremely proud of our committee and thankful for the generous donations from this community."
 

Jame McCall, special education director for TCAPS, recognized Brandy and the committee for the iPad donation and added, “More than that, more than the tangible things, the awareness in the community has been incredible.”
 

For more information on the Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism visit our website TraverseTraveler.com/Autism or find us on Facebook.
 

 

Thank You Scavenger Hunt Volunteers graphic
 

 

By |2013-09-10T11:11:46+00:00September 10th, 2013|Events, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

6 Tips to Prevent and Treat Swimmer's Itch

Swimmers Itch graphic

Summer has returned to Northern Michigan. The geese are swimming, the beaches are full, and unfortunately Swimmer’s itch is popping up on some of our favorite lakes.

 

We had our first dose of the pesky malady a few years ago, so now I’m prepared when it shows up. But for those who are new the area, Swimmer’s Itch can send you running for dry ground. Before you give up on swimming in our salt-free waters I thought I’d share some handy tips on how to prevent and treat Swimmer’s Itch.


What is Swimmer’s Itch?

If you’re squeemish you may want to gloss over this section as it’s not too pleasant to visualize the source of these scratchy bumps. Swimmer’s Itch is caused by a flatworm parasite. The larvae of the cercaria parasite travel between their water snail host and their intended water fowl host. When they come in contact with human skin they burrow in and immediately die as we are not hospitable. The raised itchy bump is an immune reaction to each site where a parasite has entered the epidermis. These parasites are a not harmful to humans beyond the discomfort of the bumps.

 

So what can you do to keep from ruining your vacation in northern Michigan with a case of the itch?

Swimmers Itch Guard

 

6 Tips to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Itch

 

1. Avoid Busy Beaches – Swimmer’s Itch is most common in highly populated beaches where ducks, especially the merganser duck, and snails are commonly found. Avoiding these swimming areas will decrease your chances of coming in contact with the parasite in the first place. Deeper water and moving water, such as rivers, are also less likely to carry the larvae in search of hosts.

 

2. Towel Off – Kids are most susceptible to swimmers itch as they tend to spend long amounts of time in shallow water and air dry. Try to towel off agressively after each swim.

 

3. Protect Your Skin – Creating a waterproof barrier seems to help prevent the parasites from burrowing into the skin. One way to do that is with Baby Oil. But you’re going to want sunblock to go under that. And kids are squirmy enough putting on one protective layer, much less two. We’ve discovered two brands of sunblock that do the job. Bullfrog gel sunblock works pretty well and is readily available in most stores. But we’ve had the best luck with a Wisconsin product called Swimmer’s Itch Guard. It’s made from natural ingredients, smells and feels a lot like vapor rub, but it works like a dream. This is the best prevention we’ve found. You can find it in a few Traverse City stores, and order it online here: swimmersitchguard.com It’s pricy, but if your kids plan to spend much time in the water it’s well worth it.

 

4. Don’t Panic – If you get the dreaded itch don’t panic and swear off swimming for the rest of the season. The bumps will itch for a day or two then they’ll just be red and ugly but not painful. The more sensitive your skin is the more susceptible you are to the parasites. I’ve swam with my kids and never got it when they’ve been covered. So it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Unfortunately if you’ve had it once, you’re more likely to get it again.

 

5. Treatment – Applying an antihistamine creme on the spots to help with the itch, or swallowing a dose of Benadryl if it’s really bad, has always helped my family. The bumps will go away in about a week. (The worst part is the fearful look you get from strangers who think you have a raging case of measles.)

 

6. Don’t Feed the Ducks! – Waterfowl like merganser ducks, Canada geese, swans, and mallards are the hosts of these parasites. The eggs are returned to the water in the duck feces thereby repeating the life cycle. When the ducks are fed at beaches they congregate there thus making those sites especially susceptible to Swimmer’s Itch. On lakes where swimmer’s itch is common you can expect every common merganser duck is infected and capable of spreading the parasite.

 

Swimmer’s Itch is a pain, and unfortunately it seems to be growing in prevalence in Northern Michigan lakes, instead of receeding. But I hate to hear mothers swearing to keep their kids out of the lake for the summer because of an early case of the itch. Follow these steps and hopefully your summer will be filled with splashing and fun instead of itching and scratching.

 

For more information on Swimmer’s Itch visit this website from Hope College: http://www.swimmersitch.org

By |2013-07-02T14:27:26+00:00July 2nd, 2013|Traverse City|0 Comments

6 Tips to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Itch

Swimmers Itch graphic

Summer has returned to Northern Michigan. The geese are swimming, the beaches are full, and unfortunately Swimmer’s itch is popping up on some of our favorite lakes.

We had our first dose of the pesky malady a few years ago, so now I’m prepared when it shows up. But for those who are new the area, Swimmer’s Itch can send you running for dry ground. Before you give up on swimming in our salt-free waters I thought I’d share some handy tips on how to prevent and treat Swimmer’s Itch. (more…)

By |2018-09-12T13:20:14+00:00July 2nd, 2013|Travel Tips|2 Comments

Sony Glasses Provide Access for All at TC’s State Theatre

StateTC-Tom-in-glassesThis week I attended a special demonstration at the Traverse City State Theatre to learn about the Sony Entertainment Access Glasses. These devices provide closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, as well as audio assistive technology for the visually impaired. The State Theatre is considering a purchase and sought input from the public.

Nearly 50 people turned out to test the devices. Annie Campbell from theDisability Network helped organized the event which drew members of the community with a wide range of accessibility challenges, including a large group from the TC West ASL class along with a sign language instructor. (more…)

By |2018-09-12T13:20:15+00:00June 14th, 2013|Adventure|1 Comment

Sony Glasses Provide Access for All at TC's State Theatre

Sony Entertainment Glasses State Theatre TC

Traverse City’s State Theatre seeks to improve the movie-going experience for the visually and hearing impaired

 

This week I attended a special demonstration at the Traverse City State Theatre to learn about the Sony Entertainment Access Glasses. These devices provide closed-captioning for the hearing impaired, as well as audio assistive technology for the visually impaired. The State Theatre is considering a purchase and sought input from the public.

Nearly 50 people turned out to test the devices. Annie Campbell from the Disability Network helped organized the event which drew members of the community with a wide range of accessibility challenges, including a large group from the TC West ASL class along with a sign language instructor.

A representative from Sony brought a few devices for members of the audience to test. The glasses project captions 10 feet in front of the lenses, but are only visible to the wearer. The text can be adjusted for brightness and distance from the lens, and can be worn over other types of eyewear. Since the captions are projected on the lens instead of appearing on the screen, they fill follow when you move your head, and are not a distraction to other audience members.

"This is as close to open captions as you can get," explained Tyler, the Sony representative who came from California to demonstrate the devices.

An audio assistive part of the device is included in the glasses. The headsets aid the visually and hearing impaired with a description of what’s happening on screen in between the dialog. Imagine a narrator reading scene descriptions from a screenplan.

Sony Entertainment Glasses State Theatre Sony Entertainment Glasses State Theatre

Deb Lake from the State Theatre was in the house to get feedback from attendees. "We really want the theater to be accessible to everyone," she said. In fact some assisitive technology is already in place. An induction loop system is available to feed sound directly into cochlear implants in the form of a headset. The theatre previous pursued the MOPIX system and decided not to dedicate their fundraising dollars there after discovering they were somewhat cumbersome and distracting to other theater patrons. The good news nearly $7000 was raised to purchase MOPIX, which could be reallocated to the Sony glasses.

Based on feedback from the attendees the Sony glasses are a good solution. The State Theatre plans to negotiate a price with Sony, who previously had only sold these systems to major multiplexes in larger cities. Just another example of why our little community theatre deserves recogintion as the Best Theatre in America!

 

 

 

By |2013-06-07T08:29:48+00:00June 7th, 2013|Traverse City|0 Comments

Pirate's Cove Raises Money for Wounded Soldiers

“Putting for Patriots” Event at Pirates Cove Adventure Park in Traverse City

 

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, in Traverse City, Michigan will host the 7th Annual “Putting for Patriots” fundraiser over Memorial Day weekend. This national event will occur simultaneously at 33 Pirate’s Cove, Pirate’s Island and Jungle Golf miniature golf courses throughout the United States. 

 

Fundraising efforts began earlier in May and will culminate on Memorial Day weekend to support three charities, which serve our wounded, their families and survivors of the fallen.  These organizations include: “Hope For The Warriors”, “Homes for Our Troops” and “TAPS—Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.”  Pirate’s Cove, Jungle Golf and Pirate’s Island will donate a percentage of their total sales on Saturday May 25th & Sunday, May 26th.  Since its inception, this event has raised over $128,000.

“Memorial Day was specifically founded to remember those who died serving our nation,”
notes Brad Graft, Pirate’s Cove Partner and Regional Director.  “The Pirate’s Cove / Pirate’s Island family thought it appropriate to establish an annual event to serve charities that assist our living veterans and the survivors of fallen military members. These are men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

Pirate’s Cove and Pirate’s Island operate 33 miniature golf courses throughout the United States.  For more information, visit their Web sites at www.piratescove.com, www.piratesislandgolf.com, and www.junglegolfminigolf.com. Additional information on the above charities can be found by accessing their Web sites:  www.hopeforthewarriors.org, www.homesforourtroops.org and www.taps.org.

By |2013-05-24T07:09:43+00:00May 24th, 2013|Attractions, Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Star Parties Begin May 11 at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes Star Parties

Explore the Night Sky at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be offering a series of monthly astronomy programs this year.  Join Park Rangers and the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society for a guided exploration of our night sky and one daytime event.  The next Star Party is May 11 with a viewing of the closest star — the sun.  Each special event takes place at a different location throughout the National Lakeshore to take advantage of strategic viewing opportunities.  Come for star gazing, meteor showers, sun viewing, and storytelling.  Kids of all ages can participate in the Night Sky Junior Ranger program.

Starry night skies and natural darkness are important components of the special places the National Park Service protects.  National parks hold some of the last remaining harbors of darkness and provide an excellent opportunity to experience this endangered resource.  So visit the National Lakeshore and enjoy park skies by attending the following Star Parties:

May 11 (12:00-2:00 p.m.), Visitor Center Parking Lot in Empire
This is a daytime Star Party to view our closest star – the sun.  View the sun using a solar telescope and solar shades.  See solar activity, including flares and prominences.


 

June 8 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive #3 Overlook
View Saturn, the Milky Way, and various constellations.  Meet at the Dune Overlook #3, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  Please park at Picnic Mountain; the next right after the #2 stop.

 

July 13 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Platte River Point
View the moon, Saturn, and various constellations.

 

August 10 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Thoreson Farm in Port Oneida
The Port Oneida Fair celebration continues into the night.  View Saturn and the Perseid meteors.

 

September 7 (9:00-11:00 p.m.), Dune Climb Parking Lot
View the summer Milky Way and many Deep Sky Objects.

 

October 21 (8:00-10:00 p.m.), Dune Climb Parking Lot
Celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with a starry event.

For all astronomy events, bring a flashlight for the walk back to your car and bug spray, if needed.  Park Rangers and GTAS staff will be wearing red glow bracelets at the events. 

The monthly Star Parties will be cancelled during inclement weather.  The decision is usually made three hours in advance.  Please call Park Rangers at 231-326-5135, ext. 331, for a voicemail message with the decision.

All programs are free.  Participants need only purchase the Park Entrance Pass or have an Annual Pass displayed in their vehicle to join in the fun.

 

By |2013-05-03T11:21:29+00:00May 3rd, 2013|Events, Leelanau|0 Comments

"Light it up Blue" for Autism Awareness April 2 in Downtown Traverse City

 

Join us as we “Light It Up Blue” a World Autism Awareness Day, family-friendly event in downtown Traverse City on Tuesday, April 2.

Light It Up Blue begins at 6 p.m. April 2 at ECCO, 121 E. Front St., with food and fun activities with a blue theme. Glowing luminaries will be available for purchase for $5, with proceeds to benefit the Traverse City Area Public Schools iPads for Autism program.

Downtown merchants are encouraged to decorate their storefronts in blue in honor of the event. At 7:30 p.m. participants will carry the luminaries along Front Street to the Open Space. At the Open Space, participants will place the blue glowing lanterns in the shape of a puzzle piece, another symbol of autism. The event will be captured on video and an overhead photo with the community will be taken to show Traverse City’s participation in “Light it up Blue.”

Blue luminaries are available for purchase in advance at Old Mission Traders, 215 E. Front St.

If you live in the Traverse City area we encourage you to come down for this fun event. But even if you can’t we encourage everyone to Light it up Blue whereever you are. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wear blue clothing, nail polish even hair paint
  • Turn your porch light blue with a bulb from Home Depot. Special bulbs are for sale with proceeds to benefit Autism Speaks
  • Decorate your door, your yard or your desk in blue or with puzzle pieces, the symbol of Autism

 

World Autism Awareness Day logoLight It Up Blue is a worldwide event in which participants seek to light prominent landmarks blue to help raise awareness of autism, a developmental disorder now estimated to affect one in 50 children. In Michigan, the Mackinac Bridge will be lit blue on April 2. Other prominent buildings have included the Empire State Building in New York City and the CN Tower in Canada.

In Traverse City, Light It Up Blue is organized by the Scavenger Hunt for Autism, a fundraising event set for April 13 that will also benefit TCAPS’ iPads for Autism Program.

“We’re excited to add this prelude event this year to further increase autism awareness,” Scavenger Hunt founder Brandy Wheeler said. “Kids, parents, grandparents and community members of all ages in between are invited to help make the Open Space as blue as the bay.”

For more information on Light it up Blue or the Scavenger Hunt for Autism on April 13 visit www.traversetraveler.com/autism or find us on Facebook
 

By |2013-03-28T06:41:27+00:00March 28th, 2013|Events, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Cherry Stop Re-Opens as Old Mission Traders

Old Mission Traders Traverse Traveler cardAfter a month long transition, and a move next-door, the owners of the Cherry Stop have re-opened their business as Old Mission Traders.

 

The Cherry Stop first moved downtown in 2002 and operated as the only cherry-centric store in Downtown Traverse City. Owners Nick & Jamie Roster purchased the business in 2005 and began updating, remodling and adding new features. They expanded their product lines to include a large selection of local Michigan wines, which prompted the addition of UnCorked, an all-Michigan wine bar. 

Over the last few years the Rosters brought much of the production in-house and began to produce homemade fudge, bakery items and experiment with new lines for The Cherry Stop. They added barbeque sauce, mustards and developed natural low-sugar versions of their popular jam. But they were always limited to Cherries.

Traverse City has grown as a foodie town. The Rosters realized there were so many companies they already carried that offered wonderful products beyond cherries. From nut butters to viniagrettes they wanted to do more. And the concept for Old Mission Traders was born.

After the closure of the Uncorked wine bar they had more elbow room than they needed. The opportunity to swap spaces with Momentum arose and it seemed like a perfect fit. Despite the proximity of the move, there was a lot of work to be done to make the new space suit their needs. Floors were refinished, displays were built, and a kitchen had to go in downstairs for all their homemade products.

 

Old Mission Traders Opening

Today Old Mission Traders officially opens their doors to the public, just in time for the Winter Comedy Arts Festival in downtown Traverse City. Inside you’ll find the same friendly staff, and all the products you knew and loved from The Cherry Stop. Soon there will be new products under the Old Mission Traders name including a maple viniagrette and a pear vanilla bean dessert sauce.

Old Mission Traders interiorOld Mission Traders interior

So while you’re laughing it up at the Comedy Fest this weekend stop in and say hi to our friends at Old Mission Traders at 215 E. Front Street, downtown Traverse City. You can also continue to shop online at TheCherryStop.com until the Old Mission Traders website is up and running.

Stay tuned for a grand opening soon when some of the Old Mission Traders products are bottled and ready to be unveiled.

By |2013-02-15T10:26:07+00:00February 15th, 2013|Traverse City|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Writing a Holiday Gift Guide has become a tradition. I realize scouring the stores in search of the perfect gift isn’t for everyone. So I try to help out this time of year and do a little hunting on your behalf. Secretly I’m also trying to show some support for our local retailers who work so hard to find unique items that rival that of chain stores and online giants. Why buy big box, when you can buy local and boost the economy in our own backyard.

This year I’ve divided my shopping list into the following categories. I hope you’ll find something that’s just right for a friend or loved one.

Goodies for Foodies

All Geeked Out

Girlfriend Gifts

Wine About It

Hostess with the Mostest

For the Kiddos

 

Goodies for Foodies

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Sleeping Bear Raw HoneySleeping Bear Farms Raw Honey | MI Farm Market $12.99
One of my absolute favorite food discoveries this year is this raw honey from Sleeping Bear Farms in Beulah, Michigan. This is natural, uncooked, unfiltered honey. It’s a little cloudy and granular but all the better for it. And it’s full of health benefits from the enzymes, pollen and floral essences the bees leave behind. One of my secret weapons against a cold is a teaspoon of this honey the moment I feel a sore throat coming on. Honey has antibacterial qualities. And who doesn’t love an excuse to eat a spoonful of goodness!

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Cranberry Cherry SauceCranberry Cherry Sauce | The Cherry Stop $7.00
We love our cherry products in Northern Michigan. But sometimes it’s hard to find something new for the cherry lover in the family. Here’s one I discovered on a recent trip to the Cherry Stop. Instead of the traditional cranberry sauce with your turkey this year why not liven it up with cranberry cherry sauce. No need for a recipe, the folks at The Cherry Stop have mixed up a batch with just the right blend.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Fustinis MinisCookbook Samplers | Fustini’s $49.00
Anyone who has seen my kitchen counter knows how much I love Fustini’s. And I’ve given their oil & vinegar combinations as gifts in the past. So what’s new this year? They have a brand new cookbook, "How Fustini’s Do Fustini’s," a compilation of recipes from Fustini’s employees and customers. And for the holidays they’ve paired it with 4 mini bottles of oils & vinegars in flavor combos that work with the book. Choose from 4 sampler packages and try something new this season.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Gallery Fifty tongsHandmade Wooden Tongs | Gallery 50 $15.00 and $19.00
Why not have a little fine art in the kitchen? Stop by Gallery 50 in The Village Mercato and choose from a selection of handmade wooden tongs. Constructed from beautiful materials like zebrawood and rosewood, and available in large or small sizes, these handmade tongs are as stylish as they are functional. Great gift idea for men and women, for the chef or the casual cook.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Sleeping Bear Farms mustardSleeping Bear Farms Pepper Honey Mustard | MI Farm Market $4.99
Mustard is probably my favorite condiment, next to homemade salsa. So it’s nice to find a fun new alternative to the store bought standbys. This Pepper Honey Mustard has a great kick from real chili peppers. And of course it includes some Sleeping Bear Farms star thistle honey. Great for spreading on sandwiches, as a dip for pretzels or as a glaze on fish or meats headed for the grill.

 


All Geeked Out

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Rocker iPhone caseRocker iPhone Case | The Pod Drop $19.00
Cases for the iPhone 5 are somewhat hard to find since they’re still new on the market. But The Pod Drop has you covered. Stop by their location in Campus Plaza next to Jimmy Johns and check out the line of Rocker cases. The silicone skin pairs with a hard body case (sold separately), and comes in dozens of colors and patterns, which make these cases completely customizable. And at $8.99 for the skin, and $9.99 for the cover, they’re priced right for stocking stuffers too.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Nest knit glovesSmartphone Gloves | Nest $27.00
As you can imagine, I’m on my iPhone all the time, especially when I’m out and about town. Now that winter is here I’m constantly removing my gloves so I can answer a call, scroll through messages on Twitter or snap a photo on Instagram. I’ve tried other versions of smartphone gloves with little luck…and they weren’t very cute either. That’s why I love these knit gloves I found at Nest. Cute and functional.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 FRUITstand FRUITstand | CityMac $10.00
Here’s a cool local product for the tech geek. FRUITstand is a simple plastic-coated stand to hold a variety of eDevices, or iDevices if you prefer. It’s small, lightweight, and best of all it’s made by a Traverse City company, PDM Industries. I discovered the FRUITstand on a recent trip into CityMac. They’re available in a variety of fresh colors. Whether you’re looking for a landing spot for your Kindle, or a charging station for you iPhone or iPad, this little stand will do the trick. And at that price if you take it on vacation and forget it you won’t sweat the replacement cost. Now if you forget your device…that’s another story.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Paper RobotsPiperoid Paper Pipe Robots | Cool Stuff Express $15.95
For the kid, or the kid at heart, there’s a big trend in paper art and origami. These cool creations are made from printed and punched paper pipes that are folded into crazy robots. Does your cubicle need a little comic entertainment? If you thought origami was too girly, this might change your mind.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Q-Man magnetsMini Q-Man & Q-Ant Magnets | Cool Stuff Express $3.97 — $6.95
Trying to find something for that hard-to-buy-for teen in your family? Guys, gals and geeks will love these bendable, flexible, colorful magnet men and giant ants. The powerful magnets stick to each other or metal surfaces allowing for connectable, collectable fun. They’re also strong enough to support 14 sheets of paper! Hang ’em in a locker, file cabinet or on the fridge. Image courtesy of Cool Stuff Express

 


Girlfriend Gifts

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Becky Thatcher Designs necklaceStarry Night Necklace | Becky Thatcher Designs starting at $275.00
I love a classic necklace that can dress up an outfit, or be worn with a casual sweater and jeans. That’s what drew me to this beautiful jewelry from Becky Thatcher Designs in Traverse City. Made from black spinel and freshwater pearls in a variety of shades from white to gray this necklace would be a lovely addition to anyone’s jewelry collection. And the matching earrings start at $65. Perfect.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Return of Sexy eyeshadowReturn of Sexy Eyeshadow Collection | Venus $48.00
Ladies who love a little drama will be drawn to this wet/dry eyeshadow collection from Too Faced. There are three color collections, 15 shadows full of sparkle and dimension, a waterproof black liner and eyeshadow insurance (a primer for your eyelids). That’s bringin’ sexy back.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Book of the MonthSurprise Book of the Month | Brilliant Books $66.00 – $295.00
This is a brilliant idea from Brilliant Books. If you have a literary fan who is always searching for a new read, consider giving them a new title every month. Each subscription is unique because the book selections are based on the reader’s preferences in genre, author, likes and dislikes. You can give a year of hardcover books ($295) or paperback ($185) or choose 6-month or 4-month options for as little as $66. In the six years since they started the program they’ve only had three books come back for exchange — and two were because the recipient already read and loved the selection.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 felted hatsFelted Wool Hats by Hatty Matty | Lilies of the Alley $24.95 — $64.95
A handmade hat is a statement of style. And in northern Michigan it’s practically a necessity. I love these beautiful hats from Hatty Matty, aka Cindy Hardy the owner of Lilies of the Alley. These felted wool hats come in all sorts of styles and colors. And there are sizes for kids as well as adults with a range in prices for each. In case you’ve never been, Lilies of the Alley is tucked in the alley behind Brew and Brilliant Books in downtown Traverse City.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Butter lips and tipsLips & Tips | Venus $25.00
This cute combo comes from the folks at Butter, a London brand know for their fashion-forward colors. The nail polish and lip gloss from Butter is vegan-friendly, making this a great gift for the animal lover too. Venus carries a full line of Butter nail polish selections, but I especially loved some of their holiday line which is full of sparkle for the glam affect. Every girlfriend needs a little glitter, right?

 



Wine About It

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Gallery 50 corkscrew2-in-1 Corkscrew & Bottle Stopper | Gallery 50 $35.00
Need a classy gift for your boss? Are you going to a holiday party and looking for something for the hostess who has everything? Choose from a selection of hand-turned wooden bottle stoppers. Twist the handle and you’ll revel the corkscrew hidden inside. I’m loving the green ones, made from box elder wood.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 wine stackerStack wine bottle storage | Cool Stuff Express $9.95
This clever little black silicone wine bottle is the secret to storing your wine in a stack on the counter just like you’re supposed to… horizontally. Simply separate the bottle into two halves and position on either side of your wine bottles along a shelf or counter. The silicone grips to smooth surfaces and acts like bookends for your wine. Image courtesy of Cool Stuff Express

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 cork purseCork Purses | Gallery 50 $45.00 – $78.00
I am crazy for corks. In fact, I’ve created a whole Pinterest board dedicated to cork crafts. But I have yet to see another cork craft like this. Artist Jean Ackerman from Kingsley, Michigan is creating cork purses, many of which are decorated with corks from Michigan wineries. If you’re looking for a unique gift for a Michigan wine lover I think we’ve got you covered.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 wine canteensSport Wine Canteen | Black Star Farms $26.50
Backpackers and beach goers will love this new canteen available in Rouge (red) and Blanc (green). If you’ve ever wanted to bring a bottle of wine to the park, on the boat or on a picnic, but worried about the glass bottle this is the perfect solution. These eco-friendly metal containers will fit a full bottle of wine! Take your vino to go, and no one will know. Comes in a variety of colors. Available at TASTES of Black Star Farms in The Village.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Forty-Five North RoseRosé of Cabernet Franc | Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery $26.00
With hundreds of Michigan wines to choose from, it’s tough to narrow it down to one. So this is one of many that make up my list of favorites. The Rosé of Cabernet Franc from Forty-Five North is a great choice for holiday gifting because it suits so many palattes. I drink mosty whites, and lean toward the sweet, but this wine I love. My husband loves a good red, and he too was drawn to this rosé. Notes from the winemaker alude to big aromas of cherry and raspberry, a creamy mouth feel and noticeable tannins. This wine is great to give as well as receive. Image courtesy of Forty-Five North

 



Hostess with the Mostest

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 soy votive candleSoy Votive Candles | Red Ostrich $6.95
Looking for the hot seller this season? Search no further than these little beauties from Red Ostrich. Forget the tequila, pick up a double shot of soy. Soy candles that is. They carry 25 scents including the popular orange vanilla, black pepper and holiday spice. These tiny 2 oz. candles are an eco-friendly gift that everyone can enjoy. They burn clean and smell wonderful and are Made in the USA. Image courtesy of Red Ostrich

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Paper Blanks journalsPaper Blanks | Premier Floral $17.00 – $29.00
It’s so much nicer to keep a journal when the process of holding and opening it are a pleasure. This collection of lined and unlined journals from Paper Blanks are really beautiful. I love the texture of the covers, and they have a lovely metal latch closure that harkens back to locked diaries and forbidden secrets. With traditional patterns these designs would also be suitable for man who loves to write or draw, or for use as a cottage guest book.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 turtle dove soapsTurtle Doves Soaps | Venus $32.00
Your friends will feel so special when presented with this pretty package dressed in silver moire. Open it up and discover two turtle doves made of silky soap scented with tulip and hyacinth, resting in a porcelain bowl. It’s elegant enough for your mother-in-law to put next to the towels in the guest bath or thoughtful enough for your dearest friend.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 dog pillowDog Pillows | Premier Floral $25.00
If your friend is a dog lover they’ll fall for these colorful and cozy pillows inspired by their four-legged friends. The moment I saw the Boston Tea Terrier I thought of my best friend who grew up with the bug-eyed little cuties. There are several designs to choose from including Eager Beagle and Black Lab Summer Cottages.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 twig pencilsTwig Pencils | Gallery 50 $7.50 or $9.50
If your host is a letter writer, or they love the lodge look, these pencils will be a handy addition to their desk. If not, they’ll look great in a cup next to the phone at the cottage. Either way, these fat twig pencils, available in traditional or colored varieties, make a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer for the kids. Need to get to the point? Simply carve with a knife to sharpen the tip.

 



For the Kiddos

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 magnetic boardMagnetic Boards | Sweet Pea $14.95 / $22.95
Room decor is tough when the kids interests change every year. So why not keep it flexible and give them a magnetic board that looks great and can be decorated with the recipient in mind. These scalloped-edged metal squares are available in 12" x 12" or 18" x 18" sizes in several colors. This company sells a huge variety of magnet designs to completely customize the board. From alphabet letters to animals to holidays and more.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Gamago PhoneyGamaGo Phoney | Cool Stuff Express $4.95
The latest trend coming from Japan are these cute little animals to decorate your tween’s phone. They plug into the headphone jack, which means they’ll fit nearly any style smartphone, tablet or MP3 player. "A friend for your phone," they say. Kids will love to collect these little plastic pets and customize their tech gadgets.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 kids booksChildren’s Books | Brilliant Books $15.99 – $16.99
I stopped in to Brilliant Books to get a few recommendations for new titles the kids might like. Extra Yarn, The Cloud Spinner and This is Not My Hat would be great books for children 4-9 years old. They have colorful illustrations and stories that help children appreciate the value of Things. For more recommendations visit Brilliant Books and ask for Heather or Jack.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 kids candyCrazy Candy | Cool Stuff Express prices vary
Kids always love what’s gooey, gross and flavored in unexpected ways. Cool Stuff Express on Union Street in Traverse City has a huge collection of all of the above. Some of this year’s most popular trends include anything with mustaches or bacon, tongue tattoos, flavored lipbalm and mints. And for the boys and girls who were less than cheery this holiday season: the classic gummy candy coal.

 

Traverse Traveler Gift Guide 2012 Elf on the ShelfElf on the Shelf | Toy Harbor $31.00
If you’re looking for a fun and engaging activity book to share with your children or grandchildren during the holiday season pick up an Elf on the Shelf. The book comes with an elf (boy or girl elf options now available) and a story book explaining how Santa sends scout elves out each Christmas to report on chilldren’s behavior. Once opened the children can name and register the elf at elfonashelf.com. Thanks to Christmas magic the elf travels each night to see Santa, and reappears in your home in a different location. My kids love finding out what our elf, Scuttle, has been up to while we were sleeping.

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my collection of Holiday shopping ideas. You can find all of these items in northern Michigan stores, and many are available on their respective websites as well. Please spend some of your time and money this season supporting our local economy. Your gifts will be more unique, and your money will stay in the community.

 

Happy Holidays from Traverse Traveler!

By |2012-12-05T14:12:52+00:00December 5th, 2012|Hometown Highlights, Traverse City|0 Comments

Clean Up and Green Up for Daylight Savings

Clean Up and Green Up graphic

 

Turn back your clocks…or just turn them in.

Daylight Savings Clean Up and Green Up, a free community-wide recycle, repurpose and reuse event put on by Michigan Green Consortium, will be held from 9am until 3pm on Sunday, November 4, 2012 on the grounds of American Waste’s facility at 280 Hughes Drive in Traverse City. The event encourages residents to use the hour gained from the time change to participate, personally, in helping to preserve the environment. Held twice each year the morning following the time change, this event encourages local area residents to bring difficult-to-recycle items, items that have salvageable components or materials, and items that can be repurposed or reused to one central location for collection.

 

The list of items that will be accepted is broad-ranged from plastics and paper to wine bottles and pumpkins; from bubble wrap to wrought iron; from lawn mower and edgers to Styrofoam and plastic grocery bags. More than a dozen businesses will be on-site accepting a variety of difficult-to-recycle items. For a comprehensive list of what is acceptable and the sponsor partner that will accept it, please consult our event website, www.cleanupgreenup.com.

 

In accordance with energy programs that are already in place, three area utility companies,  Consumers Energy, Cherryland Electric Cooperative and Traverse City Light & Power, will be offering their customers rebates or credits for bringing in various appliances that are now deemed inefficient.  Consumers Energy will offer a $50.00 rebate to their customers for refrigerators and freezers, sized 10 – 30 cubic feet, and a $15.00 rebate for air conditioners and dehumidifiers brought to the event. Cherryland Electric Cooperative customers are offered a one-day opportunity to receive $100.00 for each refrigerator or freezer manufactured prior to 2001, and $30.00 for each air conditioner and dehumidifier that are brought to the event.   Traverse City Light and Power customers can receive $60.00 for a full-size refrigerator or freezer and $15.00 for air conditioners and dehumidifiers that are turned in.  Appliances in these programs don’t have to work but they must power up in order to be eligible for the rebates.  Customers should bring copies of their bills to qualify.

This is truly a community-wide effort to reduce the amount of trash in landfills and reuse materials that can be given new life through recycling, artwork, and environmentally safe practices.
 

The Michigan Green Consortium has quickly achieved notoriety for its recycling efforts and was named Recycle Smart Business of the Year in 2011.  Established in 2008, Michigan Green Consortium is a 501c3 not for profit organization. Its mission is to foster the general knowledge of sustainable practices and to promote the application of sound environmental stewardship through educational workshops, seminars, monthly networking events, and community-wide events designed to lessen the burden on government.

To learn out more about Michigan Green Consortium and their Daylight Savings Clean Up and Green Up event, visit the event website at www.cleanupgreenup.com or Michigan Green Consortium’s website at www.mgconline.org, or call (231) 947-1688.

By |2012-10-30T20:51:18+00:00October 30th, 2012|Traverse City|0 Comments

How to Plan a Fall Color Wine Tour in Traverse City

Fall Color Wine Tour Traverse City image

Planning a fall color wine tour in Northern Michigan this year? We’ve gathered a few tips to make the most out of your next wine tasting trip from Traverse City to Leelanau or Old Mission Peninsula.

 

wine tour with Traverse Traveler app imageWhat to Bring

• Camera. The wineries are beautiful any time of year, but especially in the fall during harvest season. You’ll want a few pics to remember your trip.

 

• Money. Many of the wineries now have tasting fees. Bring cash to cover fees where you might not purchase a bottle of wine. Each winery’s policy is different.

 

• Bottled water. Here’s a tip from the Kathy at Bel Lago, "For a successful wine tour, drink as much water as you do in wine. And be sure to eat."

 

• Snacks. Cheese spreads, breads, crackers and fruit all pair well with wine and won’t spoil your palette for the wines you’ve yet to taste.

 

• Smartphone. The Traverse Traveler app was designed with the wine tourist in mind. This handy mobile guide will help you research, plan and navigate a wine tour in northern Michigan. And best of all, it’s a free download for iPhone and Android users.

 

 

Wine Tour imagesWhat to Leave at Home

"Don’t wear lipstick." This tip is from Caryn at 2 Lads Winery. It’s not just the marks on the glass that are left behind. Lipstick imparts flavors like petroleum and other chemicals when wine passes over your lips.

 

• No perfume. It ruins your tasting experience, and everyone elses. The scent of one person’s perfume can contaminate the air in a tasting room for hours.

 

• Cigarettes. Your sense of smell is a large part of the wine tasting experience. And smoke is a very stong scent. Like perfume it affects those around you. So please leave the smokes in your car.

 

• Gum. You can’t taste past it, especially mint. So stow the Altoids and TicTacs too.

 

• Dogs & Kids. A wine tour is meant for the 21+ crowd. While you may see a few wine dogs throughout your travels, several of the tasting rooms offer food pairings, which means it’s against their health code to have dogs in the winery. So as a general rule, take the kids and pets to the beach or the park, but not on a wine tour.

 

 

Wine Tour Planning imagePlanning Your Wine Tour

With nearly three dozen wineries in our tip of the mitten it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are a few tips on planning a wine tasting route from Traverse City.

 

• You can’t see them all. Make a list of favorites, or recommended wineries you want to be sure to visit, and squeeze in others as time allows.

 

• Stick to one peninsula. There are two distinct AVAs in our region: Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission. Stick to one or the other for a one-day trip. The wineries are scattered throughout each peninsula making it difficult to jump back and forth.

 

• There’s an app for that! Use the Wineries category on the Traverse Traveler app to choose which stops you want to make. The maps are great for navigating between wineries via backroads for a more scenic tour, or finding the fastest route.

 

• Map it. Pick up the large map from the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. If you’re not a smartphone user this will be a hands-on resource for finding your way around both peninsulas.

 

• Beware of high traffic times. If you’re wine tasting during peak fall season your best days are mid week. If you must come on a weekend be prepared for crowds. Most of our wineries have small tasting rooms with even smaller tasting bars. On a busy weekend you may have to wait to get a turn at the bar.

 

• Go off the beaten path. Most tasting rooms in Leelanau and Old Mission are lucky to be located near the vineyard. But that vineyard isn’t necessarily on a major highway. Part of the fun is exploring and discovering new locations. Start at the top of the peninsula and work your way south. Or make a plan to stay inland and visit some of the smaller boutique wineries.

 

 

Wine Tour Groups imageGroup Travel

There are some special considerations to planning a wine tour when you’re traveling with a group. Here are some tips to maximize the fun and minimize the hassle when planning a group wine tour.

 

• Size matters. Wine tasting with friends can be a wonderful experience. But if your group is too large it can cause problems which detract from your enjoyment. In our experience a group of 10 or less is the ideal size. Larger groups will have additional limitations on where you can go, how quickly you will move from place to place, and tasting room fees.

 

• Carpool. Part of the fun of a group wine tasting is comparing notes about each winery with your companions as your travel. Pile into one person’s vehicle, rent a van, or book a wine tour. And if at all possible, assign a designated driver. Listen to Ellie at Traverse City Tours who warns, "Don’t come on vacation and leave on probation."

 

• Large groups call ahead. For wine tours larger than 10 you should call ahead to each winery. Some tasting rooms are so small they do not allow buses or tours at all, and others have per person tasting fees for the entire party. These are not things you want to discover after you’ve driven across the peninsula to visit.

 

• Label wine purchases. Hopefully your group will discover many wines they like and purchasing bottles at each location. Pick up a box from the first stop. Using a Sharpie marker label each wine purchased with your initials, or used color coded garage sale stickers. Add additional boxes as needed. When the tour is complete it will be easy to determine which wine was purchased by whom.

 

• Pack a picnic. It’s important to eat and drink water throughout your wine tour. For a fun experience pack a cooler with cheese, fruit, crackers and bite-sized appetizers or sandwiches. Many of the wineries have picnic tables or areas outside where you can stop and enjoy your snack along the route. There are also markets and farm stands scattered throughout the peninsulas to pick-up snacks along the way.

 

• Be patient. "Be respectful of other tasters and wait patiently if there’s a crowd," says Chaning at Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery. When you’re traveling as a group this is especially important since you may have to break into smaller groups, or taste in shifts.

 

We’ve been on several group wine trips and completely agree with Kyle from Riverside Canoes who says, "My best wine tasting tip is to go tasting with your closest friends. The wine always tastes better!."

 

 

Wine Tour Tips imagesSip Tips from the Pros

Winemakers and tasting room staff are incredibly knowledgeable about their products and their craft. Here are a few of their tips for making the most of a northern Michigan wine tasting experience.

 

• It’s OK to spit. Ask Bel Lago winemaker Cristin Hosmer and she’ll tell you, "Spitting is OK. In fact it’s encouraged." It cuts down on your consumption of alcohol. So remember, "The dump bucket is your friend."

 

• Chew your sparkles. When tasting a sparkling wine, "You don’t want to drink bubbly like you kiss your grandmother." If you’ve been pursing your lips when you sip sparkling wine from a glass you’ve got it all wrong. Instead,"Chew, hold and slowly swallow," instructs Don at L. Mawby. By chewing the wine the bubbles explode in your mouth allowing the flavors to disperse. Try it. It’s a whole new experience.

 

• Eat mild not wild. "Don’t eat strong flavored foods  — onion, garlic and spicy dishes — before or during a wine tour," warns Coryn of Black Star Farms. While a bottle of wine may pair well with some of these dishes, the pungent flavors will linger throughout your wine tour affecting the rest of the wines you taste.

 

• Not a free drunk. Wine tasting is not a free ticket to inebriation. "Don’t treat a wine tour like happy hour at a bar," reminds Tom at Peninsula Cellars. Guests in a tasting room are there to learn about wine, and are offered tastes (sometimes free) to determine which wines they might like best. If you’re more interested in hanging out at a bar and chatting with your girlfriends, you’ve got the wrong kind of bar. Just be respectful of the staff’s time, and the product that they’re freely sharing so that you’ll discover something you’d like to buy.

 

 

A wine tour is a great way to explore Traverse City and the countryside in Northern Michigan. With these handy tips you’ll be sure to make the most of the adventure. For more fabulous day trips in northern Michigan this fall check out our post: 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip.

By |2012-10-04T19:33:00+00:00October 4th, 2012|Day Trips, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

How to Plan a Fall Color Wine Tour in Traverse City

Fall Color Wine Tour Traverse City image

Planning a wine tour in Northern Michigan this year? We’ve gathered a few tips to make the most out of your next wine tasting trip from Traverse City to Leelanau or Old Mission Peninsula.

 

What to Bring

• Camera. The wineries are beautiful any time of year, but especially in the fall during harvest season. You’ll want a few pics to remember your trip.

• Money. Many of the wineries now have tasting fees. Bring cash to cover fees where you might not purchase a bottle of wine. Each winery’s policy is different.

• Bottled water. Here’s a tip from the Kathy at Bel Lago, “For a successful wine tour, drink as much water as you do in wine. And be sure to eat.”

• Snacks. Cheese spreads, breads, crackers and fruit all pair well with wine and won’t spoil your palette for the wines you’ve yet to taste.

• Smartphone. The Traverse Traveler app was designed with the wine tourist in mind. This handy mobile guide will help you research, plan and navigate a wine tour in northern Michigan. And best of all, it’s a free download for iPhone and Android users.

 

What to Leave at Home

“Don’t wear lipstick.” This tip is from Caryn at 2 Lads Winery. It’s not just the marks on the glass that are left behind. Lipstick imparts flavors like petroleum and other chemicals when wine passes over your lips.

• No perfume. It ruins your tasting experience, and everyone elses. The scent of one person’s perfume can contaminate the air in a tasting room for hours.

• Cigarettes. Your sense of smell is a large part of the wine tasting experience. And smoke is a very stong scent. Like perfume it affects those around you. So please leave the smokes in your car.

• Gum. You can’t taste past it, especially mint. So stow the Altoids and TicTacs too.

• Dogs & Kids. A wine tour is meant for the 21+ crowd. While you may see a few wine dogs throughout your travels, several of the tasting rooms offer food pairings, which means it’s against their health code to have dogs in the winery. So as a general rule, take the kids and pets to the beach or the park, but not on a wine tour.

 

Planning Your Wine Tour

With nearly three dozen wineries in our tip of the mitten it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are a few tips on planning a wine tasting route from Traverse City.

• You can’t see them all. Make a list of favorites, or recommended wineries you want to be sure to visit, and squeeze in others as time allows.

• Stick to one peninsula. There are two distinct AVAs in our region: Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission. Stick to one or the other for a one-day trip. The wineries are scattered throughout each peninsula making it difficult to jump back and forth.

• There’s an app for that! Use the Wineries category on the Traverse Traveler app to choose which stops you want to make. The maps are great for navigating between wineries via backroads for a more scenic tour, or finding the fastest route.

• Map it. Pick up the large map from the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. If you’re not a smartphone user this will be a hands-on resource for finding your way around both peninsulas.

• Beware of high traffic times. If you’re wine tasting during peak fall season your best days are mid week. If you must come on a weekend be prepared for crowds. Most of our wineries have small tasting rooms with even smaller tasting bars. On a busy weekend you may have to wait to get a turn at the bar.

• Go off the beaten path. Most tasting rooms in Leelanau and Old Mission are lucky to be located near the vineyard. But that vineyard isn’t necessarily on a major highway. Part of the fun is exploring and discovering new locations. Start at the top of the peninsula and work your way south. Or make a plan to stay inland and visit some of the smaller boutique wineries.

 

 

Group Wine Tours

There are some special considerations to planning a wine tour when you’re traveling with a group. Here are some tips to maximize the fun and minimize the hassle when planning a group wine tour.

• Size matters. Wine tasting with friends can be a wonderful experience. But if your group is too large it can cause problems which detract from your enjoyment. In our experience a group of 10 or less is the ideal size. Larger groups will have additional limitations on where you can go, how quickly you will move from place to place, and tasting room fees.

• Carpool. Part of the fun of a group wine tasting is comparing notes about each winery with your companions as your travel. Pile into one person’s vehicle, rent a van, or book a wine tour. And if at all possible, assign a designated driver. Listen to Ellie at Traverse City Tours who warns, “Don’t come on vacation and leave on probation.”

• Large groups call ahead. For wine tours larger than 10 you should call ahead to each winery. Some tasting rooms are so small they do not allow buses or tours at all, and others have per person tasting fees for the entire party. These are not things you want to discover after you’ve driven across the peninsula to visit.

• Label wine purchases. Hopefully your group will discover many wines they like and purchasing bottles at each location. Pick up a box from the first stop. Using a Sharpie marker label each wine purchased with your initials, or used color coded garage sale stickers. Add additional boxes as needed. When the tour is complete it will be easy to determine which wine was purchased by whom.

• Pack a picnic. It’s important to eat and drink water throughout your wine tour. For a fun experience pack a cooler with cheese, fruit, crackers and bite-sized appetizers or sandwiches. Many of the wineries have picnic tables or areas outside where you can stop and enjoy your snack along the route. There are also markets and farm stands scattered throughout the peninsulas to pick-up snacks along the way.

• Be patient. “Be respectful of other tasters and wait patiently if there’s a crowd,” says Chaning at Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery. When you’re traveling as a group this is especially important since you may have to break into smaller groups, or taste in shifts.

We’ve been on several group wine trips and completely agree with Kyle from Riverside Canoes who says, “My best wine tasting tip is to go tasting with your closest friends. The wine always tastes better!.”

 

Sip Tips from the Pros

Winemakers and tasting room staff are incredibly knowledgeable about their products and their craft. Here are a few of their tips for making the most of a northern Michigan wine tasting experience.

• It’s OK to spit. Ask Bel Lago winemaker Cristin Hosmer and she’ll tell you, “Spitting is OK. In fact it’s encouraged.”It cuts down on your consumption of alcohol. So remember, “The dump bucket is your friend.”

• Chew your sparkles. When tasting a sparkling wine, “You don’t want to drink bubbly like you kiss your grandmother.” If you’ve been pursing your lips when you sip sparkling wine from a glass you’ve got it all wrong. Instead,“Chew, hold and slowly swallow,” instructs Don at L. Mawby. By chewing the wine the bubbles explode in your mouth allowing the flavors to disperse. Try it. It’s a whole new experience.

• Eat mild not wild. “Don’t eat strong flavored foods  — onion, garlic and spicy dishes — before or during a wine tour,” warns Coryn of Black Star Farms. While a bottle of wine may pair well with some of these dishes, the pungent flavors will linger throughout your wine tour affecting the rest of the wines you taste.

• Not a free drunk. Wine tasting is not a free ticket to inebriation. “Don’t treat a wine tour like happy hour at a bar,” reminds Tom at Peninsula Cellars. Guests in a tasting room are there to learn about wine, and are offered tastes (sometimes free) to determine which wines they might like best. If you’re more interested in hanging out at a bar and chatting with your girlfriends, you’ve got the wrong kind of bar. Just be respectful of the staff’s time, and the product that they’re freely sharing so that you’ll discover something you’d like to buy.

 

A wine tour is a great way to explore Traverse City and the countryside in Northern Michigan. With these handy tips you’ll be sure to make the most of the adventure. For more fabulous day trips in northern Michigan this fall check out our post: 22 Reasons for a Fall M-22 Roadtrip.

By |2018-09-12T13:20:15+00:00October 4th, 2012|Travel Tips, Wineries|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Buys 13 iPads for Students with Autism

Scavenger Hunt for Autism LogoScavenger Hunt for Autism iPads

Brandy Wheeler, creator of the Traverse Traveler app and owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas, purchased 13 iPads with the proceeds from the first-annual Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism. The iPads have been donated to Traverse City Area Public Schools for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

 

Last April, eighty-four teams took to the streets of downtown Traverse City for the inaugural Scavenger Hunt for Autism. Teams used the Traverse Traveler app and a QR code reader to discover downtown businesses, check-in and unlock a clue for an activity at each location. Volunteers stationed at every venue assisted with the on-site challenge, and handed out prize tickets. Participants encountered puzzles and games that challenged their brains, their sense of direction, and teamwork.

iPad image

The event was a fundraiser for the iPads for Autism program at Traverse City Area Public Schools, a pilot program started in 2011 which provided iPads for 9 students at TCAPS with Autism Spectrum Disorder. To grow this program and meet the needs of their 120 students with autism, Traverse Traveler joined TCAPS Partner in Education program.

 

The Scavenger Hunt drew participation from a diverse crowd of 337 participants including families, educators, children with autism and disabled adults as well as community members from as far as Petoskey.

 

The fundraiser generated donations from event sponsors, team registrations and private donors and raised over $14,700 for the iPads for Autism Program. More than $9000 was donated directly to TCAPS through the Partner in Education program. Over the summer TCAPS added 6 iPads and purchased app packages designed to meet the specific needs of students with Autism. The iPads will help grow a lending library to expedite student assessment, trial different applications and assign devices more quickly.

 

As part of the licensing agreement with retailers schools are required to purchase Apple products directly from Apple. But event founder Brandy Wheeler wanted to show support for the local businesses. “This event wouldn’t be possible without the support of our business community. I’m thrilled that we can purchase our iPads locally from CityMac and donate them to TCAPS to grow the iPads for Autism program.”

 

The positive response from event participants and venues, combined with the commitment from title sponsor Lucky Jack’s, has event organizers already planning for next year. For more information on the Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism and to find out how you can volunteer visit TraverseTraveler.com/Autism or find them on Facebook.

 

Photo:  Brandy Wheeler from Traverse Traveler and Jame McCall, Special Education Director at Traverse City Area Public Schools gathered today at CityMac for the iPad purchase. They were joined by members of the Scavenger Hunt for Autism committee including Jamie Roster, Kathy DiMercurio, Kate Daggett and Nick Nerbonne, and event sponsors Mike Mohrhardt of Lucky Jacks, Josh Russell of Jimmy Johns and Greg Nickerson from CityMac.

 

By |2012-09-27T13:39:11+00:00September 27th, 2012|Mealtickets News, Traverse City, Traverse Traveler|0 Comments

Becky Thatcher Designs Hosts Pearl Goddess Lecture

Becky Thatcher Designs Pearls imageBetty Sue King image

Becky Thatcher Designs welcomes Betty Sue King on Wednesday, September 5th at 2pm for a lecture on all things Pearl.

 

Pearls 101: Freshwater & Saltwater, Cultured & Natural

Betty Sue King, the Pearl Goddess, will be joining Becky Thatcher in her Traverse City jewelry store for a lecture on pearls. How are freshwater pearls different from akoya, South Sea and Tahitian? Gain in depth information and practical advice for a core understanding of pearls.  Betty Sue King, "The Pearl Goddess", has been buying overseas and selling her remarkable pearls for over 30 years.  She passionately weaves the technology and romance of pearls with humankind’s natural obsession for beauty. Betty Sue will energize you with visions of glorious pearls to inspire your dreams.

 

The lecture includes a powerpoint presentation, handouts and a hands-on experience.

 

If you share a passion for pearls, or would like to learn more, join the conversation. Stop by Becky Thatcher Designs in Traverse City on September 5th and enjoy! Visit www.beckythatcherdesigns.com for more information on her jewelry and store locations.

By |2012-08-30T09:59:58+00:00August 30th, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

August Events in Traverse City

August is full of events in and around the Traverse City area. If you’re feeling like summer is passing you by, stop and smell the excitement and take part in the fun. I guarantee there is something for everyone in the family.

 

August Events in Traverse City

 

Paella in the ParkPaella in the Park
Friday August 3 | Clinch Park, Traverse City
The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula pair up with 7 chefs to create 21 paellas for a great taste combination. Enjoy music from Spin Doctors and Grupo Aye and a beautiful views of the bay.
www.porterhouseproductions.com

 

 

 

State Theatre Traverse CityTraverse City Film Festival
July 31-August 5 | Downtown Traverse City
Hosted by filmmaker Michael Moore the non-profit festival is volunteer run and supports the State Theatre. The 2011 festival included over 150 screenings and 128,000 admissions. There are free movies each night at dusk, and a free shuttle service for the festival loop.
www.traversecityfilmfest.org

 

 

Northwestern Michigan FairNorthwestern Michigan Fair
August 4-11 | Fairgrounds, Traverse City
Goin’ to the Fair has been a local tradition since 1908. From livestock exhibits and 4H shows, to nightly grandstand events including horse pulls, motocross and tractor races, the fair is fun for the whole family. Arnold Amusements Midway is open Monday – Saturday. And don’t forget the classic fair foods from Gibby’s Fries to elephant ears and turkey legs. I can smell it now.
www.northwesternmichiganfair.net

 

Sheryl Crow at InterlochenInterlochen Center for the Arts
One of the nations premier performing arts schools is located just miles from Traverse City in Interlochen. The August concert and event schedule includes:
August 2-5 | Children of Eden, high school musical theater performance
August 11 | The Magic of Bill Blagg Live!
August 13 | Sheryl Crow performs at Kresge Auditorium
August 18 | The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue: Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs
tickets.interlochen.org

 

 

bicyclesCherry Roubaix Bike Race
August 10-12 | Traverse City
A series of competitive bicycle races through downtown Traverse City including a dedicated road race which will crown the 2012 Michigan State Champion. Fun to watch and compete.
www.cherry-roubaix.com

 

 


Brewed in Michigan T-shirtTraverse City Summer Microbrew and Music Festival

Friday & Saturday August 24-25th | The Village at Grand Traverse Commons
Featuring 200+ brews and live music with Friday night concert by Dierks Bentley.
www.porterhouseproductions.com

 

 

Don’t let the sands of summer slip between your fingers leaving only dust in their wake. Fill your summer with memories of a great time in Traverse City with family, friends, food and fun.

Cheers to August in Northern Michigan!

By |2012-08-02T08:26:45+00:00August 2nd, 2012|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Lakeland Boating Magazine Features A Taste of Traverse City

Lakeland Boating Traverse City article

Pick up the August Issue of Lakeland Boating Magazine, on newsstands now, and you’ll find a feature article on Traverse City, Michigan written by Brandy Wheeler, owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas and the Traverse Traveler app.

 

Traverse City is the featured Port of Call in this month’s issue of a popular Great Lakes boating magazine. Each month Lakeland Boating, sister publication to Great Lakes Angler, includes an article highlighting destinations that Great Lakes boaters are interested in discovering. 

 

The 7-page article introduces readers to many aspects of the Traverse City area, offering a glimpse into the history of the ciy between the bays, our agricultural heritage from orchards to vines, and the development of a vibrant downtown community. There are feature sidebars on wine tasting, The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, where to stay and information about the Traverse Traveler app. The article is sprinkled with dozens of specific recommendations for businesses in the area that visitors will enjoy.

 

"It was a fun challenge to write a feature-length article on the region I love so much," said Brandy Wheeler. Brandy’s photographs accompany the narritive, as well as images from the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mark Lindsey, Kathy Partin and local businesses and organizations represented in the story. "I hope the article will encourage Great Lakes boaters and their families to plan a trip to Traverse."

 

Lakeland Boating Magazine August coverThe August issue of Lakeland Boating is available on newsstands now. In Traverse City, look for a copy at Horizon Books. Visit the Lakeland Boating website to read full archived issues in PDF format online. The July issue includes a feature article on Manistee and information about the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The August issue will be available online on August 1st.

 

 

 

 

Brandy Wheeler profile pictureBrandy Wheeler is the owner of Mealtickets & Unusual Ideas®, a 10-year old marketing service for Traverse City area visitors. She launched the Traverse Traveler app, a free handy mobile guide featuring information on restaurants, wineries, lodging, attractions, events and more. She lives in Lake Ann, Michigan with her husband and two children. Brandy’s writing has been featured in Grand Traverse Woman Magazine, as a guest blogger on Pure Michigan, and most recently as a contributing author to Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve. Email Brandy at info@mealtickets.com or follow her on Twitter @TraverseTravelr