February 3, 2018

Free Fishing Weekend and Ann Arbor Ice Fishing Derby's

Photo courtesy of the Scheel family
I don't know why this has been top of mind this year. Maybe it is the lakes being mostly frozen...  Perhaps it is my desire to learn new skills or filling my bucket list. At any rate, I really want to try ice fishing. I don't want a new hobby or anything, I just want to try it once. It's a good thing that Michigan offers a free fishing weekend free fishing weekend this month! Now I can try ice fishing.

On February 17-18, Michigan has their free fishing weekend. Families can certainly find friends to take them out, however sometimes pre-planned programs are the best way to try out ice fishing. The closest free fishing weekend events are an Ice Fishing Derby at  Seven Lakes State Park (14390 Fish Lake Road, Holly) on February 17, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. There will be loaner equipment available, as well as refreshments, prizes and a warm fire! You can find alternative February free fishing weekend options for ice fishing at the DNR website.

If that weekend is not convenient for your desire to try ice fishing, Independence Lake will be holding their  annual Ice Fishing Derby. The 12th annual Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation program is being held from 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on February 10. Participants can catch and release Northern Pike, Bass and Crappie. Gift cards and other prizes will be given to contest winners. You will however need to bring your own bait. The cost for the event is $10 for kids (12 & under)/ and $15 for adults which includes lunch. There is a discount for pre-registration.

The whole family will enjoy the outing, so bundle up and get pumped to try your hand at ice fishing.

Photo courtesy of Scheel family.

February 2, 2018

Valentine's Day Craft Projects for Kids and Teens

Kid's can make their Valentine a salt-dough 
heart or create other personalized craft 
creations this week at several events 
throughout Ann Arbor.

Photo courtesy of Kaboose.
When I think of Valentine's Day, I am reminded of a Valentine's Day school party in fifth grade. I passed out the typical handcrafted Valentine's Day cards to classmates and even got crafty with salt-dough, shaping it into a Valentine heart that I gave to Hank, my fifth grade crush. Unfortunately for me, even though I didn't label who the heart was from, he knew, and proceeded to tell the entire class I didn't know how to cook. Explaining that it wasn't a cookie was a fruitless effort and quite embarrassing!
Creating Valentine's Day gifts, though, became a tradition of sorts and one that I have passed to my children — everyone loves a good treat, be it baked or crafted, and this week throughout Ann Arbor, there are many opportunities for your children and teens to craft their hearts out!
Michaels Crafts is always a good location for free or low-cost "Make-it Take-it" craft projects, and this week they are not failing to deliver. On Saturday, Feb. 3 from 10:00 a.m. - noon, kids ages 3 and up can drop in to create their own Valentine's Day Love Bugs for $2. Then on February 10, from 10:00-12:00 p.m. Kids can make a Valentine's Day Card for $5
Sign up in store or online, or just drop in. Parent or guardian must remain on premises.

The Ann Arbor Library has a couple events for children and teens to create sometime sweet for their sweethearts. On Saturday, Feb. 3 at 2:00 p.m. at the Traverwood branch, try creating your Valentine a felt flower. Then on February 10 at 2:00 p.m., stop by the Mallets Creek branch to make a Valentine card. Be sure to log into your Ann Arbor Library account to register!
Do you know of other Valentine's Day events to add to the calendar. Please share them in the comments below!

February 1, 2018

Visiting the Sugarbush: Maple Syrup Events for the Family

I love real maple syrup. It's yummy on pancakes and waffles and even used as an ice cream topping! I even love making homemade maple syrup with the family, it's easy to do and yields wonderful results. If you don't want to make your own though, in Washtenaw County and close to Ann Arbor, there are several places where families can go to learn about maple syrup, it's history and how to make your own maple syrup!

February 24: Visit Belleville for Maple Sugaring Through the Ages (10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.) at the
Oakwoods Metropark Nature Center (17845 Savage Road, Belleville, MI 48111). Learn about the methods used to collect maple sap and how the maple tree sustained early Americans. Preregister at (734) 782-3956.

Weekends in March: At the  Hudson Mills Activity Center (8801 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter) families can journey to the sugar bush on a guided tour traveling back in time to experience how maple syrup has been made over the years. While you are there, enjoy an all you can eat pancake and sausage breakfast served from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The guided tour (10:00, 11:00 a.m. and noon and by appointment) is $5/Adult or $3/Children  Breakfast (additional):  $6/Adults or $4/Children.  Please pre-register at (734) 426-8211

March 10: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center at the Waterloo Recreation Area (17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea) families can join in the fun at the Old-time Maple Syrup Festival to observe the process of making maple syrup from tree to the pancake! Observe demonstrations of the whole process of making maple syrup from collecting the sap to the evaporation process, watch a short film demonstrating old-time methods and find many maple products for sale. Program fees are $2/person or $5/family for non-members of the Waterloo Natural History Association. Contact 734-475-3170 for more information.

On February 24-25, Arbor families can take a short drive to visit learn "Maples Sweet Story" at Kensington Metropark (2240 W. Buno Rd., Milford). Tours are given every half hour from noon until 3:00 p.m. where families can learn about maple sugaring. Stop in for a hot breakfast from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Farmhouse Grille, and then head on a guided tour to the sugar bush to see the maple sugaring process, including tapping trees and boiling down the sap. You might even see some Native American re-enactors telling the tale of the sugarbush!  For more information call 800-477-3178800-477-3178. A Metroparks vehicle entry permit is required to enter any Metropark in addition to a small fee of $3/adults and $1/seniors and children 3 to 12 years; kids under 3 are free.

Real maple syrup is very much worth the effort and worth checking out, so if your children would enjoy trying something a little different, be sure to check out the full list of Metroparks Maple Syrup programs and events around Ann Arbor in the coming month! Or if you feel up to the challenge try your hand at making maple syrup with your family, it's really easy to do.

January 31, 2018

Brick Bash Ann Arbor

Attention LEGO Builders and fans, Brick Bash - Ann Arbor's very own celebration of everything LEGO, hits town on February 10, 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. at Skyline High School (2552 N Maple Rd, Ann Arbor).

For just $5/person or $20/family, families will find their LEGO dreams come true. See amazing LEGO models created by hobbyists from around the country, find thousands of LEGO, Duplo, and Bionicle bricks to play with and see LEGO movies featuring educational, hands-on building projects.

You can also find Brick Bash on Facebook - Hope to see you there!

January 27, 2018

Winter Fun Fest

Get your Winter Fun Fest passport stamped
at three events and get a free t-shirt and tote bag!
Many of my readers will know that I am a scout leader for both of my children. My son is now in Boy Scouts and I am his Assistant Scoutmaster and my daughter is a Junior Girl Scout. What makes scouting amazing to me is the amount of outdoor activities the scouts do. The non scouting part of me also likes to be outdoors - Playing sports, hiking, sitting in the woods or foraging for good eats. Basically the outdoors is a big part of our lives.

This winter your family can enjoy the outdoors too during the Winter Fun Fest happening throughout Washtenaw County. Winter Fun Fest runs from January 27th until Feburary 25th with over 20 fun winter events in three weeks! Whether you like warming up by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa or tromping through the freshly fallen snow, we've got something for everyone to enjoy.

 At the first event you attend you can pick up your Fun Fest Passport - if you attend three events in the next three weeks, you will win a free T-Shirt or Tote! A full list of Winter Fun Fest events can be found here: http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/parks_recreation/activities/winter-fun-fest/calendar-of-events-winter-fun-fest

Did I mention that these are free events? Certainly there may be some parks that require an entry fee but get ready to have some free fun with the family!