Ten Reasons why the Winter of 2013/2014 Could Benefit You

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snowflakeYou can cancel your massage or chiropractor appointment- Get in your car and drive really fast over those long edges of potholes. Don’t go into the really deeps ones, although it’s hard to avoid them at this point, but the string of smaller ones, where it gets the car vibrating, those can really make a difference on a sore back.

snowflakeWhile you’re at it cancel your gym membership-Who needs to work out at the gym when every day you can head outside, pick up a shovel and push that snow off the driveway and sidewalk. You can burn from between 400-600 calories an hour!

snowflakeYou get to really support your local coffee joint-Living in Mid-Michigan it’s hard to avoid a giant Biggby billboard. This weather makes for the perfect opportunity to stop into your nearest shop, order your favorite drink and head off to work. If you have a Biggby card and it’s your birthday you even get a free one! This allows you to support a local business owner, which makes you feel really good inside. The warm coffee doesn’t hurt either.

snowflakeYou can act like a jerk and get away with it-I am pretty sure most of the Michigan residents (and probably the whole Mid-West & East Coast) are one snowball short of a maniacal outburst. We’re at the point where anger, hostility and aggression are at its peak. Of course you could try to counter it by being nice, but no one will hold it against you if you’re cranky.

snowflakeYou get to cuddle-Do you remember those super hot, summer days where you were so hot and sweaty you didn’t want anyone touching you? Yeah, me neither. Not this winter. I find myself cuddling up to all kinds of people and warm things. The other day I stood at the exit at Meijer extra long to enjoy the hot air that shoots down. I cuddle my kids, my husband, and people in the elevator. I’m at the stage where I’ll take warmth almost anywhere.

snowflakeThere are no bugs!-No mosquitoes, no bees, no wasps, no nothing. It’s just empty, cold air out there.

snowflakeYou don’t need to shave-Not your pits, your legs, your face, nothing. Why should you? Keep that hair as long as you want or need. My son refused a hair cut because he said it kept him warm. I hear ya, son! You keep that long hair!

snowflakeYou don’t need to shower either-On the same note, why suffer through that moment when you are wet and naked and it’s extremely cold? You’re not really sweating much at all and you will just cover back up with that super warm, oversized sweater anyway. So skip a couple of days. I am sure no one will even notice.

snowflakeYou finally get to watch every episode of your favorite Netflix show-You’re stuck inside day after day, month after month, what a great time to catch up on your shows.

snowflakeYour snowman never melted-Remember how you spent hours on that one almost freezing day and constructed the perfect snowman. During a normal winter you might get a day out of it before the melting began. First the carrot nose would fall off. Then an arm would get droopy. By the mid afternoon, with the full sun blazing down, the head would shrink until it finally fell right off. Well, not this year! If you took the time to make it, it’s still there! In fact, it probably, somehow increased in size and durability. It’s really been that kind of winter.

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So go grab your favorite sweater and blanket, curl up with your favorite saved show with your super hot Biggby coffee and say a Hallelujah that you aren’t swatting the one random mosquito that decides this is the best time to bite you.

Be My Valentine

aaIMG_3905I am probably the worse person to have to celebrate Valentine’s Day with. Despite being incredibly romantic I come at it in a nontraditional way. Early in my relationship with Pat I mentioned that I don’t like to receive flowers because I feel bad that they sit in a vase and die. That always made me sad. So for years (decades) I never received flowers from Pat. Even though this was per my request Pat always came out looking like a loser. There have been a couple of years where Pat bought me roses for Valentine’s Day and I must admit I did like it. It’s flattering to have the delivery person come to the house, carrying the made up bouquet and the cute little card. But after a week they wilt and the water turns green and it makes me sad. I try to keep the buds by letting them dry but there’s not a whole lot you can do with them. This year I again told Pat I didn’t want any roses. There are a couple of reasons. First of all we haven’t fully plowed our very long driveway and any delivery people park out on the road and walk in. It’s quite dangerous. Secondly there’s the whole dead flower thing again. Finally I can think of a lot better ways to spend $58, like putting it towards a new camera that I’ve been eyeing on line. So yesterday while out getting groceries together Pat asked if he could buy me flowers. I said no. But he insisted. So I said, how about buying me a rose plant. And he did. It’s just a mini, but it’s pretty cute. I am hoping I don’t kill it before we can plant it outside.

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The next “must have” Valentine gift is chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate. However, many years ago, when we were trying to actively lose weight we found that there were certain times of the year that always got us. We came to name them the “Candy Holidays”: Halloween, Christmas and Easter. These would get us so bad that we vowed to stop the crazy and back away from the candy. And we did great, until we got hit by the secondary “candy holidays”: New Years, Valentine’s Day, our Anniversary (March 7), Fat Tuesday (those crazy Paczki) and St. Patrick’s Day (we’re an Irish Family). This set got us even worse than the original Candy Holidays. I think because they come in the dead of winter and you would do anything to feel better, it’s like the perfect food craving storm. Each year it was good for at least a 10 pound weight gain. I realized that I really don’t like when I get told what I should eat based on a holiday! It’s some odd domineering  force telling me I have to eat chocolates right now because it’s Valentine’s Day! What makes it even more frustrating is that for over a week I’ve been trying to eat healthy with food like this:

aaIMG_0326and was doing a pretty good job.

Now I’m told if I don’t eat this,

aaIMG_0342I’m not loved. How manipulative! It’s a psychological mess, really.

I don’t think I really have the answer. If I fall under the holiday spell I have dead flowers and a 5 pound weight gain. If I don’t I have no flowers, no chocolate and feel like I am giving up on my marriage. What a scam!! This year we bought the rose plant and shared a box of chocolates (although I am pretty sure I ate more than Pat). We also plan on having a nice lunch out while the twins are at school.

I don’t know what I would consider to be the perfect Valentine’s. I guess knowing that I have so many loves in my life that wish me a happy Valentine’s Day first thing in the morning and are willing to keep trying to get it right with me is all anyone could ask for.

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Winter Fitness

IMG_2037I am the first to admit that winter truly means hibernation. All I feel like doing is stay nestled in bed, warm and plump from all the extra comfort foods. It’s the perfect excuse to eat foods high in sugars, flour and more sugar. Vegetables? Well they’re really not in season, right? On some of these cold, snowy days it seems to take all of my energy just to get out of bed, let alone eat right and maybe exercise. This year has been a little bit different. The first difference has been the weather. This has been one of the wintery winters I’ve ever seen. There has been continuous snow on the ground since the end of November. That never happens. This makes certain activities possible every day this winter.

ariniko_DCP_0276My favorite is cross country skiing. I tried it a very long time ago with my younger children. We went to Hawk Island and they would let you rent skis. I don’t recall it being very expensive. Unfortunately, budget cuts have left Hawk Island and Lake Lansing North unable to offer ski rentals any more. This is truly a shame as it is a fantastic way to get families active outside without putting a huge investment into it. Burchfield in Holt and Harris Nature Center in Okemos still offers rentals. You can check out their details here and here. This winter I have been able to ski 5 times. The last three years I wasn’t able to get out at all! My husband found a used pair of skis for $4 and I used my birthday money to buy the boots. This allows me the convenience of going to Lake Lansing North which isn’t charging an entry fee right now. So it’s all free. That makes it really nice. I like to take the “blue” trail. It’s the longest route and takes me about an hour if I don’t stop to take photos on my phone. The distance is just about 4 miles. There are shorter routes too. It’s a great place to get outside and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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Another activity I like is sledding. I was able to take my youngest two out yesterday. Again, we go out for about an hour and that really is a great workout. I chose Gier again, because I just love it there. Some other areas to sled are Granger Meadows, Hawk Island, Wavery Hill, Frandor Hill, Quinten Park, North Meridian Rd Park and Forest Park. I am sure there are more. I saw someone using the snow piles from their driveway to sled on.IMG_2501

Winter walks are also quite nice. There’s a little more need to watch where you walk so you don’t slip and fall, but it’s a great way to be outside and get fresh air. I love the Lansing River Trail for walking.

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As for eating your vegetables, I think you might be on your own for that. There are quite a few choices available even in the winter. I bought zucchini which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in the winter before.  Use this time to try something new, like winter squash. If you cut a spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil then bake meat side down on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about an hour it turns into a great pasta substitute. Once it’s cooled scrape it with a fork and all the meat comes out like spaghetti. We use it all the time with our spaghetti sauce.  Or try a Jicama. It tastes like a radish or turnip.

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Just remember we’re almost done with winter and as much as some will be happy for that, I know I will, the chance to actually enjoy winter will be over. And who knows what it will look like next year!

When it All Comes Together

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Since November 2013 I have been managing (voluntarily) a gallery in REO Town. For three years this space was operating under the name Art Alley. I was quite familiar with it as Art Alley and attended many events and meetings there. I even went to the curator of Art Alley to see if I could have my City Saunter photographs put up as an exhibit to celebrate completing this project. In September 2013, a month before my planned exhibit, Art Alley shut down. I won’t get into all the gossipy details but the main point was a community based event & gallery space no longer had anyone managing it. I was in a panic when I got the news. I was told to contact the landlord and since I had funds in place already I was able to rent the gallery space (the entire space, not just one wall like previously planned) for three weeks. I am not sure what was more exciting, that I could move forward with the exhibit, that I was finishing my three year walking project or that I was renting gallery space in a turn of the century building in REO Town. For three weeks I set up a mobile office at the gallery and invited pedestrians and social media contacts to stop in and check out the exhibit. For three weeks I sat in a fully functioning gallery and fell in love. I loved the roughened, painted advertisement wall that at one time was on an outside wall. I loved the large southern facing all window store front that glows bright with the setting sun. I enjoyed meeting the other tenants that resided in this building, all of whom I became fast friends with. I liked being in REO Town and seeing the burgeoning groups of business owners and employees walking passed my window. I soon realized that I wanted to stay and be a part of this progress. When my three weeks of renting was over I had planned to vacate the building but before I did I mentioned to the landlord how much I would like to attempt to do what Art Alley had tried to do before. I proposed a three part plan. The first would be the rental of gallery space. This was a given, since it was a gallery after all. The second was the venue space. Despite not having a bunch of extra things, many people I spoke with loved the space and enjoyed the idea of hosting parties there. My final idea was a photographer share. For the three weeks I was at the gallery I was able to offer studio photography sessions with my Ariniko Artistry business. This was a great opportunity for me as a photographer and I knew of quite a few other photographers that also were interested in a space that could be shared. I pitched the idea to the landlord and he agreed to let me continue on as the manager of the space. To stop the confusion about the name I decided to rename the space to AA Creative Corridor. It took me about a month to get organized and reach out to people but by December I was booking events including a wonderful Salsa Dancing group that come in every second and fourth Friday of the month. However, it was my most recent event held at the gallery that knocked my socks off. The event was the second Art & Craft Beer Fest. Paul Starr, the owner of I’m a Beer Hound had come to me back in November asking about using the gallery. Since I had just been put in place as the manager I didn’t really know what to do or what to expect. I gave him the go ahead without much more thought to it. In passing he mentioned I could leave my City Saunter photos up for the second day but that he was looking for something different for the Friday night event. This was a two day event with art being featured on both days. Paul wanted sculptures. It was my job to get him 8-12 sculptures. My first thought was David Such at Such Video. I knew he was an active member of The Scrapfest and Old Town and I thought he might know of some artists. With one communication David’s brother, nephew and friend was able to bring in close to 20 amazing pieces of art for the first night of the event.

aaccIMG_0225Gorgeous dark blue rose stem created by artist Dace 13

aaccIMG_0218Beautiful lake edge scene, crafted out of metal by Dace 13

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As we were loading all the pieces into the gallery, some as tall at 15 feet, I, for the first time, felt like a curator of a true gallery. I even at one point said, this looks like a real gallery to which David responded, “This is a real gallery”.  He really meant it. Wow. The next day I spent 3 hours helping move out welded art and hang over 30 City Saunter & Ariniko Artistry photographs plus 6 Miranda Hartmann drawings.

aaccIMG_0268Steely Flower by Dace 13

For those two days, this one event brought together Right Brain craft beer makers, the folks at REO Pub, at least six artists, four musicians and over 300 community members who came out to enjoy all that we were offering, including Meat. Southern B.B.Q. Lovers & Carnivore Cuisine, who fed us all.

aaccIMG_0285I’m A Beer Hound Merch Table

aaccIMG_0278Musicians Mark Warner & Garret Bielaniec 

I don’t know what’s coming up next for the gallery space, but I am looking forward to whatever adventure is around the corner. If you are looking for a venue or if you are an artist that wants to exhibit your work, or if you’re a photographer that needs some studio space for inside shoots, well, give me a holler, because I’m the manager of an art gallery, event venue and a photographer share and I can’t do anything without all of you.

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