Love a cappella? Check out Varsity Vocals

In the last decade, the art of a cappella has reached new heights in pop culture thanks to TV shows like “Glee” and “The Sing Off,” as well as the “Pitch Perfect” films. I was first exposed to a cappella thanks to the amazing and informative 90s game show, “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?”

Well, and Boyz II Men, obviously. And in high school, I loved watching our MasterSingers and Madrigals perform.

Then, at Michigan State, I remember when the Spartan Dischords visited the sixth floor of Holmes Hall my freshman year and sang us a song in the hallway. My friends and I followed their roaming concert down each floor until they did a final performance in the lobby.

Another group at MSU, Capital Green, holds a special place in my heart. My sister-in-law, Lynn, was a member when she was at MSU; she and the group performed a song at my brother and Lynn’s wedding in 2012, and she also arranged a performance with the group at our baby shower for Stella in 2013. I have other friends who were members of Capital Green, including my friend Andrea Poole.

Andrea is an incredible singer (she sang Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” for karaoke on Mackinac Island and I’m still shook) and self-proclaimed lover of “organized nerd singing.” She walks the walk as well as sings the song, so to speak, thanks to her involvement with Varsity Vocals. Continue reading “Love a cappella? Check out Varsity Vocals”

I vaccinate to protect my winter babies

An F-bomb was dropped in our house last month. No, not that one. I’m talking about the dreaded FLU.

Growing up, I only remember thinking that the flu was no fun. As a parent, the flu is downright fearful. What if I get it and can’t take care of my girls? And worse, what if they get it? I’ve seen the conversations in the various mommy groups I belong to on Facebook; moms are scared. Every visit to a public place is wrought with fear of germs. My throat feels scratchy just thinking about grocery carts.

It feels like this flu season has been particularly scary. According to recent reports, the flu is killing up to 4,000 Americans a week. That is staggering. My news feed has been filled with stories about the flu, and it makes me want to stay home and hibernate until the coast is clear.

Despite our entire family getting flu shots at the beginning of the season, Zack was diagnosed with Influenza B a few weeks ago. This kind of thing can happen, even when vaccinated, because of the many different types of flu viruses. After we got the news, he barricaded himself in the basement and the girls and I kept away as much as possible. Thankfully — knock on wood — the girls and I escaped relatively unscathed and Zack was back on his feet a few days later.

Children under the age of five are among those who have a higher risk of developing serious flu complications, which is one of the reasons why making sure the girls both got the flu vaccine this season was very important to me. I can’t imagine how I might have felt about Zack having the flu if Margot was too young to get the vaccine this year. Continue reading “I vaccinate to protect my winter babies”

Yes way, José: An interview with Jason Martinez of ‘On Your Feet!’

Forget all of this gloomy ice and snow and get ready to conga. The Wharton Center will be heating up this week with the arrival of “On Your Feet!,” the jukebox musical based on the music and history of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The Broadway musical, currently on its first national tour, arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day; the show runs February 13-18.

Jason Martinez plays José Fajardo, Gloria’s father, in “On Your Feet.” Martinez has previously appeared on television and film (“General Hospital,” “Boston Legal,” “The Other Guys”), on stage with Paul Simon, Marc Anthony, and Frankie Valli, as well as performed on Broadway (“Million Dollar Quartet,” “Jersey Boys”).

I spoke with Jason about his family’s history of performing, his role as a father both on stage and off, and the timeliness of the message of acceptance in “On Your Feet!”

Continue reading “Yes way, José: An interview with Jason Martinez of ‘On Your Feet!’”

Let me tell you why I love Red Haven

I think that everyone has their own Cheers bar, and without a doubt, Red Haven Farm to Table is ours.

Red Haven is not only one of the most inventive places to eat in mid-Michigan, it is also the finest and most welcoming. When we visit, we feel like members of the family.

Photo credit: Red Haven

And I dare say that their current menu is one of the best they’ve had in their five-plus years of being open. I’ve been trying to tell everyone I know about it.

Here’s a peek at some of their current dishes, including a duck dish that is now in my All-Time Top 5 Favorite Red Haven Dishes. All photos shared with permission of Red Haven.

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For those who are unfamiliar, Red Haven employs a farm to table concept that supports and promotes local farmers and products. The small plates-style menu changes every few weeks to reflect the changing seasons and availability of ingredients. Menu items consist of shareable sides and appetizers, as well as entrees appropriately sized for individual diners.

Continue reading “Let me tell you why I love Red Haven”

Obviously the NFL’s ‘Dirty Dancing’ Super Bowl ad is the only one that matters

I enjoy football well enough, but last night I mostly watched the Super Bowl for Pink, the Patriots’ demise, and then Jack Pearson’s demise.

Then, in the middle of all of that, this happened:

I love, love, love “Dirty Dancing” so much and every detail of this was spot on. Not just the lift of course, but the dance steps, the Johnny Castle leap, the Baby laugh, the come hither finger.

This ad is perfection and everything I want in a Super Bowl commercial: a perfect pop culture reference, humor, and heart.

What was your favorite Super Bowl ad?

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What’s for lunch: Poké Lab

I’ll never turn down the opportunity for a ladies lunch, so when my friend Linda asked if I wanted to meet up with her for a lunch date, it was a resounding yes. After the days we’ve been having, it felt great to have plans to get out of the house for a bit.

Linda suggested we try Poké Lab in East Lansing, a newer restaurant near campus that opened this past fall. Poké bowls have been a trendy food item for the last couple of years, so I was excited to give this place a try.

Armed with my sidekick Margot, we visited Poké Lab for lunch with Linda yesterday, and it was delicious!

Continue reading “What’s for lunch: Poké Lab”

The bad days are the longest

I’ve seen a quote about parenthood floating around in mommy groups: “The days are long, but the years are short.” It’s from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and as a mom it rings pretty true. Heck, as a human, it rings true.

However, I would like to make an addendum: The bad days are the longest.

Cue some vintage 2005 Daniel Powter, because yesterday was a really bad day. In the scheme of the things that can happen in a bad day — an accident, a death, losing a job, a major crisis of the mind and/or body — yesterday would barely move the needle on the Worst Days Richter Scale.

And I feel silly even complaining about it. But I also think this feeling is something so many moms (and dads) face and ultimately internalize because, well, not all days can be diamonds. Every parent deals with bad moments; most times, even good days have them. And sometimes bad days have a couple of bright spots.

With everything going on in the world, in our country, heck, right here in mid-Michigan, who cares that some days, I’m not floating on a Valencia-tinted lily pad of motherhood?

Continue reading “The bad days are the longest”

Annmarie Walker is the best newborn photographer in Michigan

In a recent list of the 50 Best Newborn Photographers by State from Bored Panda, Annmarie Walker Photography is featured as the best of Michigan. This comes as no surprise to me, as I’ve admired and enjoyed Annmarie’s beautiful work for years.

Margot, Photography by Annmarie Walker

When two of my cousins had their daughters in 2012, they did newborn sessions with Annmarie, and I fell in love with her photography. The early weeks in a newborn’s life are so precious and fleeting, and Annmarie preserves that time in her gorgeous photos. I knew that whenever I had a baby, I would want to schedule a session with her.

We did just that in 2013 when our daughter Stella was born. In fact, shortly after I found out I was pregnant and due in March, I contacted Annmarie right away to get on her calendar.

Continue reading “Annmarie Walker is the best newborn photographer in Michigan”

Review: ‘Waitress’ has all of the right ingredients

I had my first taste of “Waitress” when I saw the 2007 film, written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly. Nearly a decade later, I fell in love with the Broadway adaptation when I saw the show in New York in 2016.

So it’s only fitting that this year, National Pie Day fell on opening night of “Waitress” at East Lansing’s Wharton Center — a timely opportunity to revisit the diner.

What’s inside this tasty delight of a musical? It’s bust a gut and break your heart, with a dreamy chiffon filling and drizzles of bittersweet chocolate.

Continue reading “Review: ‘Waitress’ has all of the right ingredients”