New stuff at John Ball Zoo

I recently had the opportunity to take my kids to John Ball Zoo with a group of my blogger friends and we had a great time. I grew up going to this zoo almost every summer and lately I’ve been impressed with the new additions. They are definitely getting more into creating natural environments for the animals to live in and that makes it fun as a visitor.

We started with the chimps, one of my favorites at the zoo! Even more fun was that we got to watch them be let outside for the day and got to talk with their keeper.

john ball chimps

We learned some of the nuances of each chimp and the older male had us laughing! They say he’s more human than chimp as when he was born in the 50’s they zoo (or people) that had him must have hand raised him. Something they’ve learned not to do as it takes the wild instincts out of them. He supposedly loves men with beards, so I must take my husband down there soon! And he also loves shoes and will run over to the window to check them out.

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The lions were busy lazing around, but the mountain lion was up and active. I think it’s the first time in my many years of going to the zoo that I’ve seen him down off his mountain perch!

john ball mountain lion

 

The bears were also quite active that morning.

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Ahem. The kids thought it was so funny that they were hugging.

As a special part of our trip, we were taken into the back rooms of the aquarium which was really cool. We got to see them preparing food for many of its inhabitants.

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The kids also loved the presentation about the screech owl and ferret.

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Side note – ferrets gross me out. They look too much like rats for me.

At this point our planned trip was over so the kids and I headed up to see the new tigers. I loved the wooded walk up there. The tigers were still quite shy, but my kids LOVED playing on the play structure up there as well as the tree play yard. We did get to see one of the tigers for a moment, but my little miss wasn’t walking fast enough for me to get up there with my camera.

On the way down we took the funicular.

My kids thought it was great.

I got claustrophobic and spent the ride praying we wouldn’t get stuck! It was not for me.

We had quite the morning at the zoo, and could have spent much more time there had I not been tired of baby wearing my chunky monkey! So we ended our trip to the zoo like every other time we’ve been. A late lunch at the park across the way and a bit of playing on the playground.

Zoo + playground = a nice quiet trip home for mom.

Have you been to the zoo lately? What are your favorite new exhibits?



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Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Date Night Done Right

Summer is winding down.  Everyone is getting ready for school, activities, keeping track of schedules…all around being busy.  But with the last couple of days or weeks left why not take a night to relax and spend some time kid free with a friend or significant other?  A back-to-school date night if you will.

Ok, sounds great!  But where?  The perfect spot for a real foodie is right here in Grand Rapids – Grove.

This “earth to table” restaurant features a wide variety of food sourced from local farms and growers.  All of the food is made fresh to order and can accommodate just about any food allergy or sensitivity.

I recently had my first experience at Grove.  It was a relaxing two hour meal with three courses plus dessert (which they gave us free since it was our anniversary…and they made it gluten free just for me!).

The menu is divided into three courses.  You can choose one dish or opt for the Taste of Grove and try three courses with smaller portions (at a great price, too!).  My husband and I each tried the Taste of Grove.  And it did not disappoint.

To give you an idea of what type of food they serve here is what we ordered.

bahn mi

We started with bahn mi and pork tacos.  Bahn mi is usually served on bread, but I asked for it without to make it gluten free.  Both dishes were delicious!  This was my first time trying pork belly.  And it turned out to be my favorite part of the whole meal…well, maybe a close second to dessert.

For our second courses we ordered a beet salad and clam chowder.  The beet salad featured a variety of locally grown beets, locally made blue cheese and crunchy lavender almonds.  The clam chowder was not what you normally picture as clam chowder.  This was a big bowl of vegetables in a spicy broth with lots of real clams.

clam chowder

Our third course consisted of duck breast with vegetables and rice noodles in pho broth and white fish with a colorful variety of locally grown vegetables and potatoes.  The duck breast was another first for us.  And another favorite from the meal.

Finally we made room to share an amazing dessert – homemade salted dark chocolate fudge (almost as big as a candy bar…and two of them) with homemade vanilla ice cream in between (again to make it gluten free in place of brioche).

duck breast

We enjoyed every bit e of food.  The service was friendly and so accommodating .  It was such a treat to be able to have a meal out, knowing it was made with fresh, local ingredients and made just for me.

It is worth noting that Grove is not a kid-friendly restaurant.  But well worth the effort to find a baby-sitter and enjoy a quiet night out.  If you do want to treat the whole family simply head across the street to The Greenwell.  It also features locally grown food in a casual setting.

The fall routines and activities are just days away.  Take a night to relax before it all begins and enjoy some amazing, real food at Grove.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Green Pastures Dairy introduces raw milk delivery locations!

I know many of you have to make the decision on whether or not to join a raw milk cow share due to where you live, and the driving that would need to happen once a week to pick up your milk.

Farms aren’t quite located in the midst of where we run our errands, are they?

Green Pastures, the cow share program out in Coopersville, MI is now setting up locations for milk delivery.

1. Grand Rapids, near Fuller and Franklin, Mondays

2. Ada, near Fulton and 1-96, Mondays

3. Comstock Park/North Side – 2 locations: Ellsmere NE and Division North in Comstock Park, Mondays

4. Muskegon, near Sheridan and MacAtrthur, across from Orchard View High School, Tuesdays

5. Holland, looking for a central location, Tuesdays

6. Jenison, near Cottonwood and Baldwin, Tuesdays

7. Grand Haven/Spring Lake, Tuesdays

8. Cutlerville, near Kalamazoo and M-6, Mondays

So if you’ve thought of joining before, to enjoy the benefits and great taste of farm fresh milk, but needed to find it closer to home, you can contact Betsy at migreenpastures AT gmail.com for information.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

EcoBuns new ownership {and a special discount for you!}

EcoBuns, a fantastic cloth diaper and natural baby care store in Holland, MI, just changed ownership and I had the pleasure of chatting with one of them. Here’s what Marissa had to say about EcoBuns:

What excites you about owning a company dedicated to cloth diapers?

Marissa: When I first started cloth diapering I was so confused about it all. It was Kellie, the original owner of EcoBuns, who sat down with me for over an hour and explained all the ins and outs of cloth diapering. If it weren’t for her and having a local store around to give me guidance when I first started, I probably wouldn’t have cloth diapered at all. I love that I can now be that person for other moms!

What customer services are you really passionate about?

Marissa: I am really excited to offer local natural parenting resources to the Holland Area such as babywearing classes, cloth diaper classes, natural birth option classes and more. EcoBuns is really focused on being not only a retail store, but also a resource center for all aspects of natural parenting. We are also now offering on-site diaper repair as well as snap conversions which are all done by one of the new owners.

What can people expect from the new ownership?

Marissa: A commitment to keeping our store fully stocked with the products that our customers love. Customers can expect useful parenting products and essential educational resources all in one place, along with exceptional customer service.

Will there always be knowledgeable staff available to help customers?

Marissa: YES! There are three new owners of EcoBuns: myself, my sister Meghan and our mom Vicki. Meghan and I both currently cloth diaper our kids. Vicki used cloth diapers on us in the 80’s with prefolds, pins and plastic pants, and she now uses the newer, easier version of cloth diapers on her grandkids. We can all help you with any of questions.

You mentioned classes for cloth diapers, what topics do you cover?

Marissa: We hold Buns Bootcamp classes once a month. It’s an hour-long class that covers topics such as reasons to use cloth diapers, styles and options of cloth, washing instructions, do’s and do not’s of cloth, what you can expect from us as your cloth diaper resource and finally, how we can help you get your stash started at little to no cost! You can find all of our current classes and events on our website.

Where are you located, and what are your current hours?

Marissa: EcoBuns is in The Holland Town Center (formally known as the Outlet Mall). We are between Carter’s and Gap Outlet, facing Dutch Village. (super easy to get to!) And we are open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00am to 8:00pm. Please stop in and check out all that we have to offer!

As a special discount to our GRNL readers, EcoBuns is offering $5.00 off any purchase of $30 or more! Just print out the coupon below and bring it in to the store by the end of March.

ecobuns coupon



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Last weeks Harvest Health Event

Last week I was lucky enough to score a vendor spot at Harvest Health’s 60th Anniversary Event – what a busy night that was! I even got to see quite a few of you all.

It was also great meeting people and talking about my book. I had a few “snatch and run”, as women quick grab information and leave so as not to get questions from the people their with. Silly nosy people…… !
All set up for Harvest Health's 60th Anniversary Celebration! #gr

Melanie from PeaceLab Yoga was also there – so fun to see her again.

Peace lab yoga- Grandville's only yoga studio!

It’s probably been years since we’ve seen each other and yet we got to be right across from each other all night.

Peacelab yoga's founder. #gr

There were also samples galore…..I even picked up a few! Everything from chocolate (which was divine) to toasted hemp seeds. Boxes and boxes of sample left the building that night!

Tons of free samples here tonight at @Harvest_Health! #gr

Situated behind me was a new tea company, local here to Grand Rapids, and all of their teas are fair trade and sustainably produced. Tealow products can now be found at Harvest Health as well as online. Their table was packed for most of the night as everyone came in from the cold and rainy weather looking for warmth. Their chai may just become a staple in our home!

Yum- love the tea. :-) You might have to fight the crowd though to get a sample! #gr @Harvest_Health

I’m always so impressed by how many people in our area are really interested in living healthier! It makes me feel not so alone when it seems that everything I do goes against conventional thought!

Busy, busy here tonight at @Harvest_Health! #gr

And I even go to see my new friend Margaux Drake, from WOTV4 – their healthy “eats” expert. And then I didn’t feel so alone as I wasn’t the only one walking around instagraming and twittering pictures.

I feel so lucky to live by health food store like this – especially one owned and run by local families!

Did you make it out at all last Thursday?

And if you know of any other events we should get out to – let me know!



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Local Fork Fest – October 18th!

The Grand Rapids area has become a vibrant local foodie culture over the last several years with multiple locally owned restaurants opening up and serving locally grown foods. I’ve even had the pleasure of eating at a few of these fabulous places (and will get to see more of them this Saturday as I attend the Taste of MI, a day of fun for foodie bloggers) and I never been disappointed. These chefs really know what they’re doing!

Beyond that we also have many local farms that work to grow healthy and delicious foods, providing them to local residents themselves or supplying our local restaurants.

You can even try them out yourself during the Local First Fork Fest!

grand rapids local food

Thursday, October 18th from 5:00-9:00pm

Romence Gardens and Greenhouse 265 Lakeside Dr. Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Tickets are $25.00 (children under 10 are free)

The following restaurants and food vendors that will be there showcasing their foods:

Amore Trattoria ltaliana
Bearboy Gourmet
Brann’s Sizzling Steaks & Sports Grille
Brewery Vivant
Dancing Goat Creamery
Derby Station
Doorganics
Earthkeeper Farm
Egg Roll Queens
Essence Restaurant Group
FarmLink
Forest Hills Foods
The Gilmore Collection
Gordon Water
Grassfields Cheese
Graydon’s Crossing
Koeze
Link Love
Logan’s Alley
Lubbers Family Farm
Making Thyme Kitchen
Old World Olive Press
Patricia’s Chocolates
Pietro’s Italian Restaurant
The Silver Spork
The Starving Artist
Tolmans Wholesale Meats
Tree Huggers
Trillium Haven
Twisted Rooster
Uptown Kitchen
Vertical Paradise Farms
The Winchester

And Beverages from:

Brewery Vivant
Vander Mill Cider
Art of the Table

(all food is included in the price of the ticket – beverages are purchased separately)

I hope to see you there – because I am definitely going!

 

*and make sure to let them know that GRNL sent you.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Four Flavors of Fall

The Spring of 2012 made history here in West Michigan. We had five days in March with temperatures reaching 80 degrees or higher. While many of us didn’t complain and enjoyed the brief heat wave by getting a head start on the yard work, this type of weather was bad news for many farmers whose apple, cherry, peach trees began to blossom far too early. Typically, fruit trees in Michigan don’t blossom until early May. The warm March weather followed by a cold, frost-filled Spring resulted in the largest fruit crop loss since 1947 – from SouthWest Michigan all the way to Traverse City.

Fall is now upon us now and some of the most popular seasonal crops are in short supply. Many orchards are shipping in produce across the United States to make up for the loss, while others are picking what is left in their orchards and selling them as ‘pre-picked’. Apples, cherries, peaches and pears were perhaps the hardest hit, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy them. There are still plenty of local farms and orchards with late-blossoming varieties hoping you’ll stop by this year to taste their Fall flavors.

 

west michigan apples

Apples

Believe it or not, Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the U.S. after New York and Washington. Most of those are grown right here in West Michigan and are a local symbol that Fall has arrived. The Michigan apple crop loss this season is expected to have a 110 million dollar impact, but it’s not all bad news.

Many Macintosh, Gala, and HoneyCrisp trees survived the frost and are still producing fruit this year at many local orchards. These neighborhood farms would love to sell you pre-picked apples.
Sietsema Orchards and Cider Mill
8540 2 Mile Rd, Ada, MI 49301
Phone: 616-676-5584

Moelker Orchards Farm Market
9265 Kenowa Ave. SW Grand Rapids, MI 49544
Phone: 616-453-2585

Wells Orchards
0-8993 Kenowa Ave. S.W., Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Phone: 616-453-5919

 

Pumpkins

Bright orange pumpkins are perhaps the most visible symbol of Fall-time festivities. Pick up a small pumpkin for baking and use the larger varieties to welcome Halloween guests to your porch.

Pumpkins and other winter squashes are plentiful and currently in season, so find a local patch and pick a few. Keep in mind pumpkins are considered a super food rich in carotenes that covert to vitamin A inside the body.
Klackle Orchards
11466 W Carson City Rd, Greenville, MI 48838
Phone: 616-754-8632

Ed Dunneback & Girls
3025 6 Mile Rd Grand, Rapids, MI 49544
Phone: 616-784-0058

Fruit Ridge Hayrides
11966 Fruit Ridge NW, Kent City, 49330
Phone: 616-887-5052

 

Pears

Apples may be the quintessential autumn fruit, but pears can be just as delicious. Pears ripen in throughout September and can help turn ordinary dishes into extraordinary ones. The bell-shaped fruit is a more delicate traveler, but don’t let that stop you from picking some up from your local fruit farmer.

The most popular variety, Bartlett pears, were hardest hit this Spring, others like Bosc are beginning to ripen and available from these two local orchards.
Moelker Orchards Farm Market
9265 Kenowa Ave. SW Grand Rapids, MI 49544
Phone: 616-453-2585

Wells Orchards
0-8993 Kenowa Ave. S.W., Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Phone: 616-453-5919

Raspberries

Most people think of raspberries as a summer-time treat, but everbearing types produce until the first frost. Why not visit a U-pick patch to stock up on raspberries and freeze them for the winter months?

 

Post Farms
9849 Myers Lake Avenue Ne, Rockford, MI 49341
Phone: 616-874-7569

Sandy Bottom Berries
11555 Sandy Bottom Road, Rockford, MI  49341
Phone: 616-225-9376

De Lange’s Redberry Farm
5723 Port Sheldon, Hudsonville, MI
Phone: 616-875-6026

 

Take some time in the next month to experience West Michigan by supporting our local farms and orchards. Remember to always call ahead of time for hours and to get a an update on what’s currently available.

Many of the orchards listed above also have family activities like hay rides and corn mazes. Even if you end up bringing home less fruit this season, take the time to enjoy the fresh air and wonderful Fall flavors.

Eat Local Grand Rapids! {day one}

During the month of August I’m taking the Challenge to purchase only local foods for the month of August!

I’m all about trying category one: “Purchase ALL local foods. This includes meat, dairy, eggs, and produce along with any other pantry staples that are available in your area. You can use previously purchased non-local foods, but from here on out source out foods from within 100 miles of your home. Pantry staples (beans, flour, spices, etc) can be purchased only if needed and essential, but buy them from a locally owned store versus a national chain if possible.”

This won’t be easy at all, and already I’m wondering what I’ll do in a couple different circumstances, but I’m going to try my best to spend almost all of my grocery money locally and on farm fresh foods.

This morning we started out by peeling one of our last oranges to finish off the non-local fruits we still have in the house, and paired it with eggs from our own hens, and I had coffee with local cream (no sugar).
Eating up the last if our nonlocal fruit as we begin our #EatLocal challenge!

One issue I noticed with breakfast is that we love cheese. It’s like a food group in and of itself to my kids. And I have yet to find a locally produced cheese that they enjoy eating……So if you know of a great local source, please let me know!

We also went to the Hudsonville Farmers Market to pick up our loot for the week.
Stocked up on some local foods from the Hudsonville farmers market today! #eatlocal

  • beef and pepperoni from Creswick Farms,
  • potatoes, lettuce, carrots, peaches, and green beans from Larry’s farm market,
  • sweet corn and watermelon from Zanstra Farms, and
  • multi-colored peppers from Crossroad Farms

One veggie I didn’t pick up was broccoli, because I knew ours was starting to ripen in the backyard garden. And you know you’re up close and personal with your food when you find a worm in the wash water. Always wash your food before you eat it, even if it’s from your own organic garden.

Why you wash broccoli before you eat it. #extraprotein #eatlocal

Dinner tonight was a huge success, and deliciously tasty.

An all local dinner! #eatlocal #GR

Do you try to purchase a lot of local foods?

I hope you’ll join me in the challenge! You can choose from all local, mostly local, or local produce – but whether you take the challenge yourself or not, let’s support our local farmers (who have been working twice as hard due to our drought) and buy local.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

{tonight} Local showing of the documentary “More Business of Beng Born”

Tonight is a special charity presentation of the Ricki Lake documentary “More Business of Being Born” brought to you by the West Michigan Better Birth Network and Simply Born.

Wednesday, June 27th @ 7:00 pm
(doors open @ 6:00 pm to meet and visit the vendors)
Wealthy Theatre
1130 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids, MI

$5 donation at the door

This presentation will

• Raise awareness of the many options available for childbirth in Grand Rapids
• Bring the community together in support of healthy birth and healthy families
• Raise funds for the local non-profit organization MomsBloom

MomsBloom was born to bring volunteers and families together to provide physical and emotional support to any
family with a newborn – free of charge.

MomsBloom provides three things: weekly assistance with whatever tasks or chores are most pressing; a connection to other parents and resources; and fact-based education that gives moms the confidence to make their own choices about child-rearing.

Stay after the film for a panel discussion about How to Optimize Your Birth with local birth professionals.

Meet local birth and family friendly vendors and see what they have to offer the community

Enter the raffle and participate in the silent auction for your chance to bring home great prizes!

You may also enjoy refreshments available at the theatre concession stand. (alcoholic beverages available with a theatre membership)

Special Deliveries: Celebrity Mothers Talk Straight on Birth features celebrity moms Laila Ali, Gisele Bundchen, Cindy Crawford, Alyson Hannigan, Melissa Joan Hart, Kellie Martin,  Alanis Morissette, Christy Turlington-Burns, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.

Special Deliveries is a collection of intimate birth stories from a diverse group of mothers. Whether they chose to deliver at a hospital, home, or birth center, these heartfelt and humorous testimonies speak to the lasting power of the birth experience.
(Running Time: 74 min)

I don’t think I’ll be able to make it, but I sure hope you go! This event was put together by some very passionate and caring women – it should be fantastic.

Plus, you’ll be able to meet a lot of our local health companies and service providers.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Local Kids Yoga/Art Camp {grandville}

PeaceLab Yoga is offering two separate weeks of Yoga Arts camps this summer:

 July 23-26 from 1:30 pm-4 pm

OR

August 13-16 from 1:30 pm-4 pm

Cost: $70 per child (Family pricing: $70 for first child, $30 each add. child)

Where: PeaceLab Yoga, 5570 Wilson Ave., Suite M, Grandville

Ages 6-14.

Join art teacher Mary Lamson-Burke and Yoga teacher Melanie McQuown each day, Monday-Thursday from 1:30-4pm, for an afternoon of creativity through art, yoga, games, and laughter.

We will use our yoga time to increase flexibility, strength, and balance and we will create an art project each day, which will be tied to our daily theme.

Throughout the class we will enjoy deep breathing and allow time for mindful relaxation using visualization and storytelling which will increase both focus and positive thinking.

Children will be grouped according to age, with customized yoga and art for each group. Mats and snacks will be provided. Please bring a water bottle, and dress for movement.

Please call (616) 745-0310 or go to www.peacelabyoga.com to register or for more information!

grandville mi yoga



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.