Wednesday, October 29, 2014

World Stroke Day

Today is World Stroke Day, so I thought I'd share this infographic (courtesy of the American Heart Association). Print it out and post it with your emergency phone numbers and other emergency information. Inside a cupboard door is a good, out the way place that is easily accessible. Remember that strokes can happen at any age, so if you or someone you know exhibits these signs, call 911 right away.


Orkin Mouse in a House Game + Giveaway

I am a huge animal lover and hate to see any furry creature suffer. However, my soft spot for animals ends when it comes to mice...indoors. No matter how cold it is outside, I will never feel bad enough for a shivering little mouse to welcome it into my house. In fact, I am pausing for a moment to thank the heavens that I have never encountered a rodent in my home.


The temperatures are dropping, and this is the time of year the little pests make their move. But you don't have to share your nice, warm house - call Orkin at 1-800-800-ORKIN, or visit

Play the Mouse in a House game in the app above, and see if you would survive the winter months if you were a rodent. Then enter to win a Mouse in a House fleece blanket using the Rafflecopter form below.

**Disclosure** MichiGal is receiving a blanket to keep in addition to the one being awarded in the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Outback Give Back Night Fundraiser + Giveaway

Outback Steakhouses in the Detroit area are hosting a Give Back Night fundraiser to benefit the Detroit Zoological Society on Thursday, November 6. Just tell your server you're there for "Zoo Night" and 15% of your total check will be donated to the Detroit Zoo! Use the following link to find the Outback Steakhouse closest to you. Please note that restaurant hours vary by location, so make sure you confirm - some are open for lunch, others are not. The fundraiser will be going on from open until 10 p.m.
Outback Steakhouse Locations

Take a break from cooking next Thursday, and feel good doing it because you'll be supporting a wonderful organization.

Is all this talk about steak making you hungry? MichiGal is hosting a giveaway for a $20 Outback Steakhouse gift card to help satisfy your cravings! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

**Disclosure** MichiGal received a complimentary meal at Outback Steakhouse in exchange for promoting this event & giveaway.
A blooming onion or a steak...or both??

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet Marla: Introducing Our New Dog!
It's Marla! She's a little camera shy.

Just last month, we had to say a tearful, heart-wrenching good bye to our long time family dog, Cleo. It was hard, so very hard. Chris and I decided to give ourselves a good year or so before we started thinking about a new dog for our family. However...we also both felt strongly that we would not go looking for a dog, but rather let the right dog find us. After all, that's what happened with our previous pets and they all turned out to be pretty awesome.

So, about that. Chris was at work one day in a client's home and met their dog, Marla. Marla  really took to him, and soon he found out that his clients were not planning on keeping her. They had fairly recently adopted her (about 4-5 months ago) and she wasn't getting along very well with their other dog. Chris texted me a picture, with a half-joking comment about the dog wanting to come home with him.


I showed the picture of the dog, a redbone coonhound, to Connor, who immediately said, "that's the kind of dog I want!" You see, he had just finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows. Guess who stars in Where the Red Fern Grows? Two redbone coonhounds, that's who. (If you haven't read it, you should!)

Haha. That's a really strange coincidence, Connor, too bad we're not getting a dog until next year.

But Chris kept in contact with Marla's family. They seriously were not keeping her. She needed a home. After a lot of back and forth, they told him that she could stay the night at our house so we could see how we all got along.

Haha. As soon as I agreed to this "sleepover" I was done for. Once Marla came into our home, there was no way we were letting her go. Last week Chris signed the adoption papers. We are doggy parents once again!

A little about Marla. She's approximately 4 years old, although no one is really certain. She was rescued from a pet hoarder's home, where she was kept in a cage for (an estimated) two years. After that she went into a foster home before being adopted by her previous family. She's been through a lot, but despite her crazy past she is remarkably well-behaved.

From the start I loved the idea of a fully-trained adult dog. Puppies are super cute and sweet, but I could do without the chewing and the potty training. Cleo was the best, most gentle dog, but we all agreed that we wanted our next pooch to be more energetic and playful. Marla is most definitely full of energy. Her breed needs a lot of exercise and activity, and we are finding 2-3 walks a day, a couple of car rides, and a daily dose of rambunctious tug-of-war is keeping her marginally entertained.

Being a coonhound, Marla has quite a nose on her. Because of her remarkable sense of smell, she can sometimes lose touch of everything else as she tries following a scent. She must always be leashed, and it will be quite awhile before Lucy and Mathilda are strong enough to walk her. We were happy that she'd have our decent sized yard to run around and play, but the first day she was with us we discovered that she is quite adept at climbing fences. She also likes to bolt out the front door. In a week, she's escaped four times. Until we can get a privacy fence, she's going to have to be restrained to a tether while she's outside.

We've only ever had puppies before, so bringing a full-size adult dog into our family has been a different experience. Marla has been great, but we're still in the adjustment period. She was allowed to go on furniture in her last home, but that's not the case here, so we're working on breaking that habit. Her running away might be as much to do with being in a new home as it is to do with her breed. She pulls a lot while we're walking her, and she doesn't always listen to us (again, part of this is likely connected to her breed - they are known for losing touch with everything except the scent they're following). But all things considered, I really can't believe how good she is. She doesn't jump, she doesn't bark too much, and most importantly, she is friendly and sweet with everyone.

The kids are thrilled to have a new canine companion. Bethany and Connor have been walking her most days, and everyone is giving her lots of attention and affection as she adjusts to her new home. They are particularly excited that most nights she sleeps upstairs with them, something that Cleo would never do. I can't imagine how confusing this must be for Marla, but I am impressed with her flexibility and resilience. I know this isn't what I had planned, but sometimes the unexpected turns out to be just the thing you didn't know you needed until you had it.

Welcome, Marla. Already you are deeply rooted in our hearts, and we look forward to many fun and happy years with you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Confession: My whole life I have felt like I wouldn't end up HERE, living just a few miles from where I spent most of my childhood. I always, always thought I would give in to my wanderlust and go someplace else to live. Even though I married my high school sweetheart, I still did not see myself settling down in the Metro Detroit area. But of course life doesn't always unfold the way we think it will, and marriage and children do tend to complicate things. I'm not the only person I need to think about anymore, so what is best for our family as a whole has to be the top priority.

My mom and I moved far away, to Arizona, when I was a kid. There were aspects that were difficult, but looking back I see that time of my life as a positive experience. True, I missed my family back in Michigan tremendously, and I imagine it was even harder for my mom to be away from her parents, siblings, and the neighborhood and friends she had known all her life. But it was an adventure. We had to meet new people, depend on the kindness of strangers, and adjust to a new climate.

Besides our big move to Arizona, we never stayed put for very long, and year after year I was the new kid at school. This taught me how to make friends and acclimate to new environments. It wasn't always easy, but the way I grew up made me the person I am today. As an adult, I can appreciate that. But as a kid I didn't always see the positive side of things. I was mad jealous of my friends who had known each other since kindergarten. I wanted roots.

Now that I'm a mom, I feel torn. There is still a really big part of me that doesn't want to be here, in southeast Michigan. There are times that I hate it, just literally hate it. I know, in retrospect, that going all the way across the country to live was an integral part of my childhood that I wouldn't change if I could. I know, also, that moving frequently taught me a resilience that I would not have otherwise learned. I know that if we moved (and families move every day, to other cities, states, and even countries...) my kids would be okay. They might be angry at first but they'd get over it and they'd adjust, and probably someday they'd be able to look back and realize it was a good thing.

My wanderlust and my yearning for roots are at war in my heart and mind. Where I live is not a horrible place, not at all. I just struggle to be happy and satisfied with where I am.

A couple weeks ago I went for a long walk to the library, which is over three miles each way. On the way back I had a thought. I had recently spent some time with my great aunt and uncle (my grandfather's brother), and my uncle had treated my mom and me to stories from his childhood. He talked about his grandparents' farm, the streets where his aunts and uncles lived, and the plot of family land his father used as a huge garden, coming in from the city on weekends to care for it. These things he was telling us about, they were all in the city where I now live.

As I walked, I let it sink in. For generations, dating back into the 1800s, my family has lived right here in the city that I call home. I was walking where my great-great grandparents once had a farm, where my grandpa came to visit as a child, and where my grandmother grew up. I walked past the place where her school once stood, and the church where my grandparents were married. I thought about what the area might have looked like back then, with fewer houses and dirt roads. I wondered if any of the houses I was looking at were around back then.

I realized that the roots that I've always wanted are right here, in the ground on which I walk and drive all the time.

When my great-great grandfather's widowed father decided to move his family across the ocean in the mid-1800s, from Switzerland to the United States, for some reason he chose to settle HERE. Maybe he already had family in the area, maybe he knew someone else, I'll probably never know.

Decades later, in the late 1920s, my grandmother's Canadian father decided to move his family from Detroit to HERE. Again, I'll probably never know his reasons. But somehow the stars aligned for his daughter to meet the grandson of a local farmer, for them to fall in love, get married, and have a family together. And now, here I am, raising my family where the seed of theirs was first planted.

My great-uncle had also mentioned that there was a cemetery not far from me where many of our ancestors have been laid to rest. I have lived here for over five years and never before had thought about my ancestors being in this cemetery, which I have driven past countless times. On my walk home from the library, I decided to stop and have a look.

I walked through the small cemetery, studying each tombstone, and marveling as the wheels turned and clicked in my mind. The origins of the names of many local streets were suddenly apparent, and I thought about how these families must have once lived where street signs now stand, bearing their names.

Reverently, I walked up and down each row, and again and again I saw names that I knew belonged to my long-deceased family members. I took pictures of their tombstones and wished I had photographs to match to each name. I thought about my grandmother's beloved hobby of genealogy, which had always interested me as well, but now I felt a sudden deeper connection, and a renewed desire to learn more about my family's history.

It's strange how things happen sometimes, how something minor, like deciding to take a long walk, can really change your perspective.
The tomb of my great-great grandparents.

P.S. Are you into genealogy? If so, what do you think are the best websites out there? There are so many, and it's hard to say if paying membership fees is worth it or not.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dickey's Barbecue Pit - Ferndale, MI: Review and Coupons

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a blogger dinner at Dickey's Barbecue Pit in Ferndale, MI. I'd like to thank the friendly staff for a nice evening with wonderful service.

Although it's been a few years since I've turned vegetarian, I must admit my mouth still waters at the scent of a barbecue. As soon as I walked in the door of Dickey's Barbecue Pit, located at 23123 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale, MI, I was inundated with the scrumptious smells of beef brisket and ribs. Mmmmmm! 

At Dickey's, customers order and pay at the counter, get whatever items are ready immediately, and the rest is delivered to the table. A popular place to stop after work, Dickey's strives for fast service, and as far as I could see they are successful in that area. They have a nice menu with good size portions and reasonable prices.

But...what does a vegetarian eat at a barbecue restaurant? Turns out there are plenty of meat-free side dishes available at Dickey's. I decided to try the Fried Onion Tanglers, Mac & Cheese, and (a first for me) Fried Okra. I also got a roll with my order.The Mac & Cheese and Onion Tanglers were really good, and the Fried Okra was okay, but I think it may be an acquired taste. I'd be willing to give it another chance. I hear the Jalapeno Beans are a good choice as well.

Beverages are self-serve, like a fast food restaurant, and include one of my favorite splurges: sweet tea. I LOVE sweet tea. I think the batch that night wasn't mixed properly or something because it was more like sugar water than tea (it even looked like water), but I'm hopeful that was just a fluke.

For dessert I tried the pecan pie, which was pretty good, with a big dollop of soft serve vanilla ice cream. Soft serve ice cream is complimentary for all dine-in customers, and it's dairy free, which is great for those with dairy allergies or sensitivities.

Families will be glad to know that kids eat free on Sundays! Nothing beats free, but if you can't make it in on a Sunday, the kids meals are well priced at $5.50 and include a beverage. Another option is a Family Pack, available to serve 3-4, 4-6, or 6-8.

Dickey's has a laid back atmosphere and super friendly staff. I only wish it was located closer to me because I am getting tired of rotating between pizza and Chinese! I love that Dickey's offers a quick barbecue option, way better than fast food and something a little different. You can even place your order ahead of time online. I hate talking on the phone so I love this option!

I have good news for you - COUPONS! I know we all love to save money!

1st choice: Text 25328 with the message DICKEYS934 to receive a text message coupon for a FREE fountain drink in a big yellow cup (which you can keep!) with purchase.
2nd choice: Print out coupons below
3rd choice: Bring up MichiGal on your phone and show this page to the cashier

**Coupons expire November 15. **

Are you already a fan of Dickey's Barbecue Pit? If so, leave a comment and share your favorite menu item!

Read what other local bloggers have to say about Dickey's!

Simplify Health Living
Yes/No Films
Blogging is a Trip
Mom Among Chaos 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Win Halloween Tickets to Crossroads Village & Huckleberry Railroad

Now that it's officially October, the leaves are falling, the air is getting crisp, and it's time to start thinking about Halloween! There are so many great Halloween activities to choose from in the Metro Detroit area and beyond, but for family-friendly fun you just can't beat Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad in Flint.

If you want to read more about Halloween at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad, head over to Daily Leisure to see what it's all about.

Here's your chance to win a family 4 pack of tickets to Halloween at Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad! Please note, the tickets are for Saturday, October 18 with a 5:00 p.m. train ride. The date and time cannot be changed, so please only enter if you are available.

 Crossroad Village