Michigan Wineries To Visit

August 29, 2014

My sister's birthday present to me this year was a two-day trip Up North to go wine-tasting. Michigan actually has a huge wine production industry -- just another reason to love The Mitten! =) We visited seven different wineries on Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas. These peninsulas are stunning, jutting out into the Grand Traverse Bay. Sipping some wine while staring at rolling hills of "wine vines" (as I like to call them) and staring at that gorgeous blue water? Sign me up for another two days, please (and two more after that). Here's a quick review of where we stopped, and some things you can look forward to at each! 
Some things to note:
  • Together, these peninsulas are home to approximately 40+ Michigan wineries. 
  • I would say the Leelanua wineries are more "quaint," while Old Mission wineries are more polished and grandiose -- they are "in to win it," so to speak and are home to the wines you're most likely to find in Michigan grocery stores (or Walgreens because we're classy). They've been around longer, so they tend to be bigger. 
  • You can plan on most of them having $3-$5 tastings, with 5 pours per tasting. A few have pre-selected flights, but most you get to choose. 
  • For the most part, zero food other than cheese and crackers. Take that as you will, people prone to hanger.
  • You can plan your own trip here and here.
Leelanau Penninsula

+Willow Winery
The most adorable little cottage with a great view! While there isn't much seating inside, this winery has wonderful seating outside with a killer view. They have pre-selected wine flights for $3. There half-bottles are excellent for taking a little break to enjoy the view, without getting too wined-out for the next stop! Also, this cottage just really makes for the most adorable pictures thanks to their outdoor decor. You could easily convince yourself you're in a little European village (and after a half bottle, that becomes way easier to believe). 
This was just too awkward not to include.
+Shady Lane
This place is....enchanting. While no view of the water, it has exquisite outdoor seating including a fireplace, patio, and outdoor tasting bar. 
+L. Mawby
This is connected to two other wineries, so you can get a "three in one" visit. The unique element of these three is that they only specialize in bubbly wine! Also, they definitely had the cutest tasting trays ever that I was obsessed with. They give you two free pours at the beginning to help you gauge what you like. Then, you pick two samples (a very generous pour, I'd add!) AND you get to pick a snack! They bring it out on an adorable tray. But like for realz....adorabbbbbbble. Snacks, fizz and free pours? Win.
It's Madonna's mom's winery, which is probably the biggest appeal. Slash at this point, all the wine was starting to taste the same. It doesn't have as much outdoor seating as the rest, but it's still good.
Old Mission Peninsula
Like the name implies, this one is housed in an old schoolhouse originally built in the 1890s (and used as a school through the 50s!). They have GREAT tasting wine and a big patio. Win win. 
This one is described by other wineries as "snobbish," but it is a class act. If any a winery had it's shit pulled together...it's this one. From the moment we pulled up, my jaw DROPPED. They have a huge, luscious green lawn with flowers and lounge chairs for you. When you go inside, you can taste in the dark, cool bar area before going out back to their giant patio (which is just classy and beautiful and gorgeous with all white everything and little flower vases for a pop of color). Their patio is perched above the vines, so you get an excellent view. I just adored this place. Pricier than the rest, but oh so worth it. 
+Chanteau Chantall
This was definitely the biggest one we saw (by size, same popularity/knowability as Grand Traverse). It is a GIANT house (dare I say villa?) that has a tasting room, restaurant and inn. This one has really cool events, so if you go I'd suggest looking at their events beforehand! Also, since it is perched on the highest point of the peninsula, you get a killer view of each bay on both the left and right (so many views, where to look?!). They have a huge selection, and make their own brandy as well. Since it's more popular, it's pretty busy but well worth the stop. 
Which winery would you visit? 
Do you prefer a more quaint setting, or a bigger winery?
Any wineries I should add to my to-go list?
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Your Guide To | Guy-Girl Friendships

August 27, 2014

Somehow, in the middle of this crazy, tornado-esque, fast-as-a-bullet, time-flies-when-you're-in-the-library-all-night thing they call grad school, I've managed to find myself...some friends. And not just friends, but friends who all like each other. We have formed a little group that goes out drinking after class, and sends inspirational cat photos during exams, and I've become quite attached. 
Even more miraculously (for me)...it's guy-girl. AND we have managed to make it a whole year without MESSING UP THAT DELICATE BALANCE (because if you don't agree that's a balance, get outta town!). So basically, we're EXPERTS (please note my dripping sarcasm). Anyways, my friend Hanna and I were discussing how we managed to keep this guy-girl friendship (which some people struggle with!) going so smoothly. We have devised the following tips for you on how to keep your own guy-girl friendships in perfect, operating balance without and cross-kissing contamination, crushes, or other guy-girl friendship disasters. It's summer up in this adorable graphic I made for you to like/pin/tweet/store to your memory.

You're welcome. No but really...we've tested this. Four (at least) seems to be key. 

If you pick three, there's two potentials. One: someone ends up feeling like an awkward wheel; Two: the conversation turns very gender-specific. For realz. Hanna and I tried to go with just Chris once, and since it was two to one, the conversation got very girl-esque: headaches, menstrual cycles, garage sales, clothes, etc (DON'T PRETEND YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT THIS WITH YOUR GIRLFRIENDS). It also works the other way. I went with just the two boys once, and conversation got very guy-esque: cars, cars, engines, cars, beer (SNOOZE ME, LOSE ME). 

Other helpful tips we came up with:
  1. Try to make sure at least one person has a significant other. There is no option for pairing off then. Ask after the significant other at least once every time, so that you can all be mind-cleansed of any post-drinking amorous feelings you might have had. 
  2. Always, always come up with a nickname for your group. 
  3. Have at least one Karen in the group (you know what I mean). 
  4. Pick a regular establishment for your friend dates. Comfort and routine lulls you into a false sense of this-will-never-be-romantic security. 
  5. Regularly invite a fifth wheel along. We don't know why, but this works. It adds a little spark to your fromance (that's a friend-romance folks, spread it like wildfire). 
  6. Don't fool yourself into believing that "these things don't happen at a commuter school." "Watching a movie" NEVER MEANS WATCHING A MOVIE, no matter whether you drive or walk to school. Ain't no thang. Don't do that. 
That's all I got. But really, if you just remember the rule of four (FOUR OR MORE, LET IT POUR. UNDER FOUR, HIT THE DOOR.) you will have such stellar guy-girl relationships. And guy friends are great. But guy friends you share with your other girl friends are even better. Because you can laugh at them when they're gone (JUST KIDDING LOVE YOU).

Do you have a solid group of friends you just adore?
What are your tips for guy-girl/guy-guy/girl-girl friendships? 
Or just share a funny joke.

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My 2014 [Forgotten] Emmy Picks

August 25, 2014

Here are some categories I feel got left out this year:
  • Outstanding at Screaming Every Line: Kerry Washington, Scandal
  • Outstanding Late Night Host: Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show
  • Outstanding Character Development: Bellamy Young, Scandal
  • Best Guilty Pleasure: Drunk History, Comedy Central
  • Best to Binge Watch: House of Cards
  • Most Underrated New Show of 2014: About a Boy, NBC
  • Sorry for Always Forgetting to Nominate You: Nashville, ABC

Who will you be rooting for?
If you could pick your own Emmy category, what would it be?

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Summer Reading Roundup

August 22, 2014

Well kids, it's that time. Welp. I know. I'm crying too. I wish summer could last forever...but at least I won't be alone on campus anymore during the days. I'm excited to see the Starbucks line crawling around the entire cafeteria like a snake, instead of being able to just freely walk up at any ol' time. Call it, I'm a nerd. 

But while it's still fall and nice enough to grab a cup of coffee and sit on your favorite porch/deck/bench/park/butt/ass and read...I thought I'd do a roundup of everything I've read this summer! Because READING ROCKS. 

Into the Beautiful North, Luis Alberto Urrea
A fictional (based on true, sociological events) look into the question: what happens to Mexican towns when all the men are immigrating to the US for work? I wrote more in-depth about this book (and a corresponding documentary - excellent!!) here. The story was enjoyable, the characters were fun and it raised my curiosity about something I hadn't thought about before. My only critique would be that the author seemed to run out of steam at the end, but still well, well worth it. 
For fans of: sociology, traveling, human-interest stories, Tijuana, good books
Rating: 5/5

The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri
I've been a big fan of hers since The Namesake, and I pick everything up she writes. However, I was disappointed by this one. It tells the tale of two brothers, and how their lives continue to intersect while one deals with civil unrest in India and the other moves to America. The story was good, but it definitely didn't need that many pages to tell it -- resulting in a book that was slightly dry and stale. 
For fans of: Jhumpa Lahiri, India, family drama, slow stories, cross-cultural analysis, Freud
Rating: 2/5

Night Film, Marisha Pessl
This is a thriller, slightly about the film industry and slightly about the occult. I don't like occult books and am super superstitious about bringing that kind of stuff into my house (yeah, like....super superstitious, I know), so I wouldn't have picked this book up if I had known that was included (they don't get to the occult stuff until you're about 350 pages in). It's long, but has some cool interactive elements -- you can download an app for the book, and scanning certain images in the pages will bring up extra content so you can try and solve the mystery as they do. Ending though...super lame. They get you all hyped up and then...well, yeah, you can let me know if you read it. 
For fans of: Supernatural thrillers, occult, movies, gothic people, red coats, black eyeliner
Rating: 2/5

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark, Bill Dedman
HANDS DOWN, BEST BOOK OF SUMMER. This is a non-fiction piece about heiress to an American fortune larger than Rockfeller and Carnegie (and that's just 20% of her share!). She chose to live as a total recluse, and yet spent over $5 million in private charity every year, and funding the establishment of such schools as UCLA, Evanston, University of Virginia, University of Wyoming (and more), the LA Philharmonic and more. However, no one knows her or her families name from the history books - why? She chose to spend the last 20 years of her life living in a hospital -- even though she was perfectly healthy! When she died, her $360 million estate was disputed in court by family who said her doctors had trapped her in the hospital, and doctors who said her family was just in it for the money. 
For fans of: 20/20, American dynasties, history, wealth, hermits, intrigue, mysteries, LIFE
Rating: 9 million/5

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart
Rich kids get sad at being rich, burn house down. Blah blah blah. Oh the spoiled brats, how hard.
For fans of: Entitled rich kids, The Fault In Our Stars, Young Adult books, pre-pubescent teenage problems, boredom
Rating: .05/5

I also read some textbooks about grantmaking, as well as the 1969 Tax Reform Act -- but I doubt you want a review of that. If you read any of these as well, I would love to hear your take!

What was your favorite read of summer?
Will you add any of these books to your reading list?

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Your Guide To | Surviving Grad School

August 20, 2014

So you got yourself into grad school, winner winner chicken dinner. What now? Well, with all of one year (halfway through!) of grad school under my belt, here are my tips and tricks for making the most of the fastest-moving period of your life. 
one | get that dry shampoo. I know, I thought that undergrad would be the end of my no-shower-in-sight, where-did-the-time-go days too. But somehow...they just sneak up on you. So stock up on that dry shampoo. Because the last thing you want to do when you have three papers, three hundred pages of reading and three group projects is make a trip to the store for some dry shampoo. It will make you feel more on top of your life (ignoring the core reason why you even have to use it in the first place, you no-time-to-shower lame-o) if you can walk out the door smelling like a fresh baby's bum. 

two | keep the receipt. For your school supplies, that is. For some reason, the materials you'll need in grad school are even harder to predict than undergrad. You'll walk in with a cute new notebook, and find out the professor only teaches off of slides and it's really better to have a folder to keep them in. Stay organized, stay clean my friends. 

three | dive in. As in almost all aspects of life, the motto rings true 'you get out of it what you put into it.' There will be so many extra seminars, speeches, workshops and events you could attend. Now, there's no way you'll be able to make half -- hell, even 10% of them -- with your busy schedule. But even if you aim for two a semester, I promise it will help you out. Professors will notices. Fellow students (read: potential coworkers) will notice. And it helps you build a sense of loyalty, belonging to your university. 

four | be social. Grad school is the weirdest conglomeration of people you'll ever spend two years with, guaranteed. Unlike undergrad, you'll all be coming from vastly different places in life with vastly different expectations/desires of your grad school experience. The temptation when you get there is to curl up in an isolated ball with your books and your Netflix and say "it's just two years and then I can start 'life' again with friends in a new city." But don't do that. Take that chance, talk to people, sit down with strangers and really make an ounce of effort to find friends. 

five | be flexible. Your schedule will never be more insane, and more not your own. You'll have your job(s), classes, group project meetings, field work, and general life maintenance (showering, bill paying, grocery shopping and even --dare I say -- socializing). Your schedule will be out of control, so learn to roll with it. On that note...get a lunch bag, and a crock pot. Cook large portions at a time with plenty of leftovers. And stock that lunch bag when you leave in the morning. Three hour classes require a lot of food to stay awake. 

Any readers just starting/continuing their education?
What tips and tricks for the school year would you add?

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Friday | Birthday Vibes

August 15, 2014

Source: My Pinterest
Cheers to the weekend, friends! This is my mantra for my birthday weekend. I have been so looking forward to it this week, and am so lucky to have had some amazing friends to plan it with! It could not come at a better time. I'm hoping for an "Iggy meets Khloe Kardashian meets Nicki Minaj" vibe, with the perfect birthday romper to match. Be sure to follow the fun on Instagram, and have an equally awesome weekend!!! 
Also, the darling Des picked out some WONDERFUL birthday songs for all the Leos out there, and they will definitely be added to the birthday playlist. Be sure to check out her full post on which song your star sign is here. They are the shiz-nit, and sure to get you ready for the weekend. Her choices for Leos (can I get a woot woot!) were:
Bow Down Bitches - Beyonce
Bow Down Bitches by Beyonce on Grooveshark

We Can't Stop - Miley
We Can't Stop by Miley Cyrus on Grooveshark

How will you be spending your last-ish weekend of summer?

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Rompin' on Rompers

August 11, 2014

As far as I'm concerned, rompers are this generation's chastity belts. 

For real. Somehow I got it in my mind that though I've never owned a romper and summer is two point five weeks from being over, I needed to have a birthday romper for Saturday night (Saturday is my birthday, yippee!!). So I just spent the past hour running in and out of stores searching for the perfect romper. 
And let me tell you...those things are difficult. There are straps. Weird criss-cross issues. Sometimes you look like you're wearing a diaper. Sometimes you look like you're wearing grandma shorts. All in all, I don't really understand how these things have stayed in fashion so long. 
And more than once there was that sheer moment of panic. That oh my Lord I got this on but I can't get it off. And how will I ever get out of this dressing room? And of course it's always at that moment of contortioning your body out of something you should never have tried on in the first place that the fitting room attendant asks if you're okay. And you pray she doesn't hear the small fear in your voice of I confess I am not skinny enough to be trying this on please don't listen closely in case the seam rips from my shoulder. 

Anyways. Once that romper is on, it ain't coming off. I tried to be fashionable, but really I just cock-blocked myself for the whole evening. Rompers. Can't get in 'em, can't get out of 'em.

Anyone else have dressing room issues?
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Hayley Larue Design