Monday, March 23, 2015

The Rouge Factory Tour at the Henry Ford Museum

I want to thank Janice Richardson for another wonderful guest post about her experience at the Rouge Factory Tour. It was one of our favorites too!!

If you live near or visit Southeast Michigan, you have to stop at America's greatest manufacturing experience, The Ford Rouge Factory Tour.

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The tour takes you to the historic Rouge factory where Henry Ford first began manufacturing automobiles from start (raw ore) to finish in one location.  (The name Rouge comes from the Rouge River that the factory was built next to.)

Not only will you be able to see a video about these early beginnings, but you will have the opportunity to walk through the modern Ford Rouge Factory that produces Ford vehicles with the most current technology.  Seeing robots in action was a big highlight for my kids!

image via THF

image via THF
The tour consists of two theater presentations (each less than 15 minutes long, everyone except the 1 year old in my family was interested in the first movie and we all enjoyed the multi-sensory theater), visiting the observation deck where you can look over the whole factory and see all of the eco-friendly renovations that Ford has implemented, walking through the assembly plant, seeing five examples of vehicles created at the Rouge over the years, and in the spring and summer months an outdoor portion of the tour allows you to see sustainable design in action with water run off.

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Insider Info.

Don't worry about bringing your stroller.  Entrance to the Rouge Factory Tour starts in the Henry Ford Museum where a tour bus picks you up and drives you to the factory visitors' center and tour. Instead of lugging your own stroller on and off the bus, the nice people at the Rouge have made it easy with strollers you can borrow. (And it is easy to borrow them, no waver, form, or money necessary.  They even let our family have two!)

image via THF

It's going to get loud.  The Art of Manufacturing Theater is a multi-sensory theater experience that explains how the new F150s came to be. My whole family loved it, but it gets loud.  I looked down the row at one point and all of my children had smiles on their faces and their hands over their ears.
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Try to visit when the factory is in operation. Be aware that daily vehicle production is contingent on many factors and may be interrupted at any time. We visited on a Thursday afternoon (rather than a Saturday outing) because we wanted to see the new F150s being made. Unfortunately, a winter storm had frozen the railroads making it impossible for some parts of the trucks to get to the factory and most of the machinery had  been stopped that morning.  If you do happen to find yourself in our shoes, touring a factory that isn't in production, there is still plenty to see.  There are videos that show you what you would have seen had production been happening, and we were able to watch inspections of some of the trucks.

image via THF

Leave your food at home.  There is no eating or drinking in the theaters or plant walkways, but if you do need a snack there is a large room with tables and vending machines to save the day.

Plan at least 2-3 hours for the tour. 

If you go.

Address. Park at the Henry Ford and buy your tickets there, the bus will pick you up and take you to the factory. 20900 Oakwood Blvd. Dearborn, MI 48124-5029

Hours. The first bus leaves The Henry Ford at 9:20am and the last at 3pm, running every 20 minutes open Monday-Saturday.  Factory not in production on Saturdays and select other holidays available on their website: http://www.thehenryford.org/rouge/tickets.aspx

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Introducing KAT & LOU shop

My blog has been a bit neglected lately because my sister and I have been busy launching an online shop! We are incredibly excited to introduce you to...

KAT & LOU

Most of the time, having boys is all I need...until I walk through the clothing section and find myself wistfully wishing I could have a little more floral, ruffles, and lace in my life. Well, now I can! At KAT & LOU we work to carefully stock classic, funky and fun items at a great price. At the moment we have fabulous swimsuits, dresses, shorts, tops, rompers, and accessories for girls sizes 18 months-10 years and will continue to expand our offerings.

If you are looking for that different but "just right" piece for summer, KAT & LOU is your spot! If you want to keep up with our new items and find out when your favorites are back in stock, you can follow us on Instagram @katandloushop. To see all our items and place an order with $5 flat rate shipping, visit our online store KAT & LOU.



ANABELLE ROMPER $20

CHLOE SWIMMING SUIT $12

PENELOPE DRESS $25

GINGER SHORTS $15

HALLE SWIMMING SUIT $20

LILY SWIMMING SUIT $25

LUCY SWIMMING SUIT $20

ZOE ROMPER $20

COLORFUL SUNHATS $10

JANE SWIMMING SUIT $12
ELSA SWIMMING SUIT $10



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The App That Simplified My Life: Square Cash

A few months ago, a friend was paying me for a deposit on a condo. I usually wait for the check to arrive via mail, but he messaged me, "If I can send you money through Square Cash then I could more easily send now." He sent me a link to read up on it, but I was still skeptical...after all, I am a bit technically challenged and nothing ever seems as easy as it sounds.

But, ready for this? It is that easy!! You quickly input your debit card info into the app and you can pay and receive money in an instant through email or text message, and it is completely free (both ways); in fact, right now they will pay you $1 to give it a try and $5 for friends you refer. 


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Using the app was nice for the one time condo deposit, but it has completely simplified my life in so many other ways:


  • We now use it for our kid's sports teams, which has saved me. No more writing checks for ref fees, tournament costs, uniforms, etc. Each time we need to pay for something, I get a request through Square Cash and with the click of a few buttons, it's paid! No lost checks, no finding the team manager or coach...it can all be done in an instant! If I were a team manager or coach, I would use this exclusively for payment. So simple!
  • It's perfect for group gifts. It's the worst to be the purchaser of a group gift and then no one remembers to pay you back, so you are stuck gifting the $100 present that should have only been $25. Square Cash makes it super simple for people to pay you first or right after the purchase, and sending a request through the app feels so much better than a whiny reminder text.
  • I also love it when splitting costs for hotel rooms/dinners out/rental cars, etc. It is the best option when traveling with friends or other couples so no one gets stuck fronting all the money. Square Cash allows for almost immediate pay back.
  • It would also be great if you and your spouse have separate checking accounts and you need to transfer money from one to the other. No stopping by the bank or bringing a check home.
image via maclife
This is not a sponsored or paid post, just me honestly telling you about something that I absolutely love. Ready to give it a try? Sign up below and earn $1:


If you need a little more info because it sounds too good to be true, here are a few links to peruse:


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bookworm Wednesday: Me Before You

For all those about to head out on a fantastic spring break vacation, I have the perfect book for you: Me Before You



I sped through the engaging prose in 3 days, sneaking in daytime reading (which I never do), and staying up way too late. The story was compelling and thought provoking but the writing was simple and clean with lovable characters and interesting family and relationship dynamics. It wasn't perfect, but I enjoyed every second I spent with it. Some language, but otherwise a pretty clean read. Highly recommended!

Goodreads.com summary: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. 
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. 
What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Good Eats: Super Simple Caramel Brownies

These brownies were my dad's favorite growing up and they quickly became my husband's birthday treat of choice. I love them because they only take a few ingredients and are super simple (and dangerously addictive)!




Caramel Brownies

Ingredients

1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 stick of butter, melted
1 small can 8 oz. evaporated milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag (14 oz.) caramels

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Mix the cake mix, butter, and 1/3 C. evaporated milk together in a medium size bowl.

3. Press half of cake mixture into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

4. While the first half is baking, unwrap the caramels, add the rest of the evaporated milk (2/3 cup) and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one minute, then stir...repeat until the caramels are completely melted. 

5. When the bottom layer is done, pour the melted caramel over the top, then sprinkle with the chocolate chips. pat the rest of the mixture flat with your hands and layer on top of the chocolate chips (you will have to do this in pieces; it is okay to have some spaces in between, they will seal as it bakes). 

6. Bake the brownies for another 20-25 minutes.

7. Let cool. (These are one of the few treats that are better when prepared a day ahead. If you eat them before they are cool, they just don't taste as good! I promise.)

7. Cut and enjoy!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What the Memphis Grizzlies Can Learn from A Few Kids



Two weeks ago, my parents took my 11 year old son and me to a Utah Jazz game. It had been years since I had watched the NBA, and boy had things changed. The beginning was spectacular with fire, motorcycles, cheerleaders and a crazy mascot. The players were pumped and the crowd was ready. I was impressed.

Until the national anthem.

The woman singing was pitch perfect. The National Guard was serious, strong and reverent. The children on the court were in 2 lines, standing still as could be with their hands over their hearts. The crowd was mostly quiet and attentive. My eyes drifted from the singer to the players, and I was shocked.

The Memphis Grizzlies, currently #2 in the Western Conference, stood haphazardly. One continued his stretches and his warm ups, bouncing up and down. A few stood chatting with each other and laughing, and only TWO had their hands over their hearts. I watched a bit longer, hoping that perhaps they hadn't realized what was going on yet. I wanted their coach to look down the line, and like an embarrassed mother, snap his fingers and motion to where their hands should be. But he didn't. And they didn't. It continued for the entire "Star Spangled Banner."

Afterward, my son asked me why the soldiers' presenting the flag were so serious. My answer to him was because that flag and that anthem mean something to them. They know men and women who have died defending the freedom it represents. They have personally sacrificed months and years of their time, leaving the people they love to fight for our country and what it stands for. Some of them have mental, physical and emotional injuries that might never be healed because they volunteered to protect us, so of course they take it seriously...that flag represents goodness, honor, bravery and above all else, freedom and sacrifice.

So, if the opposite is true, then to those athletes perhaps that flag and that anthem mean nothing. If it did, they would certainly be able to pause for 3 minutes to honor those who fight while they play. They might take a minute and reflect on how living in a free country gave them public education, parks with basketball hoops, recreational leagues, volunteer coaches, high school sports, college scholarships, and a capitalist system that allows excellence in anything to be celebrated and monetized. Because of our freedom, they get to make more playing basketball for a week than many soldiers will make fighting in the Middle East for an entire year.

The Grizzles played a practically flawless game; they were brilliant on the court and made winning look easy; but to me they were an absolute disappointment. Perhaps in their pre-game huddles, Coach Joerger should talk a little less about basketball and a little more about character. A little more about gratitude. A little more about heart.

I hope at our next NBA game, my son will whisper, "Mom, why are the athletes all so serious during the national anthem? and I can say, "Because, their freedom means everything to them."

**After this experience, I wanted to make sure my own children understood how to show respect during the national anthem at sporting events or any event. We had a nice dinner table discussion that was enlightening to us all and reminded us of the sacrifice so many make on our behalf. We are so incredibly grateful! If you have ever wondered what you are supposed to do during the National Anthem (hint: hands behind your back is not correct), here is a great link: National Anthem Etiquette .


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Help the March of Dimes help Babies in Michigan!

If you or someone you love has ever had a baby that needed special care, you know how scary it can be. The March of Dimes has been helping babies and families through difficult situations for years. This month, in Michigan, you can help too! See below for all the details! 








Date: Sunday, May 17, 2015
Start time: 11:00 AM
Registration time: 10:00AM
Hudson Mills MetroPark
8801 N Territorial Road
Dexter, MI 48130


Oakland (formerly Troy) www.marchforbabies/event/oaklandmi
Date: Sunday, April 26, 2015
Start time: 10:00 AM
Registration time: 9:00AM
Oakland University
2200 N. Squirrel Rd.
Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 359-1550

Detroit www.marchforbabies/event/detroitmi
Date: Sunday, April 26, 2015
Start time: 9:00 AM
Registration time: 8:00AM
Wayne State University
5045 Anthony Wayne Drive
Detroit, MI 48202