What's On This Weekend: Sep 30-Oct 2

That crisp autumn bite is in the air, and though it pains me to ease our giant beach unicorn into its winter hibernation, I will be celebrating the change in seasons with a warm cup of cider in hand for the duration. This weekend offers the chance at cider aplenty, caramel apples, carnival rides, scarecrow contests, corn mazes and more than a few phenomenal indoor activities if the weather proves too gloomy. FRIDAY Ride carnival rides, nibble on caramel apples and take in the spectacular Four Flags Area Apple Festival (through Sunday) Rain or shine, behold the world-class ArtPrize in Grand Rapids while it lasts (through Oct 9) Get your tickets to see the awarding-winning Cinderella musical i

7 Spectacular Stage Performances To See This Fall

One of my all-time favorite "dates" with our preschooler was going to see "The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites" on Valentine's Day last year. It was a fantastic show, but the best part was watching the wonder in her big brown eyes as the story unfolded on the stage in front of us. It's pure magic for the little ones in a way that television or the movie theater can never match. Luckily, our calendar this fall is jam-packed with live-stage tellings of some classic and contemporary stories in many forms -- plays, musicals, ballets and puppet shows -- across Southwest Michigan and Michiana. Some are more promising than others when it comes to entertaining the adults in th

Recipe: Deliciously Pink Slow-Cooker Applesauce

With just two ingredients (one of them is water) and three steps, this isn't even really a recipe, but it's definitely worth having in your culinary repertoire. I got the basics from a local mom friend who is a whiz in the kitchen, and she emphasized the use of Jonathan apples. Of course I only had Honeycrisps on hand the first time around, but it wasn't nearly as pretty or sweet as when I made it with the aforementioned Jonathans. Also, I added the slow cooker part because I'm lazy and it's easy. So go ahead and put all those freshly picked apples to good use. You won't regret it. DELICIOUSLY PINK SLOW COOKER APPLESAUCE Makes: about 3-4 cups of applesauce INGREDIENTS 6-8 medium-sized Jonath

Find Your Way To These A-Maizing Corn Mazes & Pumpkin Patches

Trust us when we say that any of these destinations would make for a wonderful spot to start an annual family tradition. Maybe the best part -- aside from the donuts and cider, of course -- is that they appeal to all ages, from hay bale mazes for toddlers to moonlit labyrinths for big kids. SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN CORN MAZES & PUMPKIN PATCHES A-mazing Acres 18430 US-12 East, Edwardsburg, MI | 574-370-3403 | Tues-Friday 4-8 pm | Sat-Sun 10 am-8 pm 15-acre corn maze (It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown theme), pumpkin patch, campfires, barnyard animals, gem mining, hayrides, cow train ride, apple cannon Farm admission: $10 (ages 3+) | Combo admission: $17 (includes choice of three activities: HyS

What's On This Weekend: Sept 23-25

Whether you prefer to welcome the arrival of fall with a visit to a local farm, apple orchard or pumpkin patch, or a more urban celebration -- the annual ArtPrize, during which the city of Grand Rapids is transformed into a sprawling art gallery, or St Joseph's Fall Festival -- we've got all the Southwest Michigan weekend happenings right here. FRIDAY Stroll through downtown Grand Rapids and check out the world-class ArtPrize (through Oct 9) Catch a "bed race," Great Pumpkin festival, wine sampling and more in downtown St Joseph (through Saturday) SATURDAY Meet princesses and superheroes and spend the day at Gull Meadow's Pumpkin Lane in Kalamazoo Get your hands on fresh donuts and cider at

How Do You Like Them Apples? A Local U-Pick Guide

Yesterday marked our first trip of the season to a nearby apple orchard, and although I don't like to equate autumnal activities with sunburns and sweat, it was a pretty sweet time. At any rate, here's a handy dandy collection of Southwest Michigan's apple U-pick offerings. Then go ahead and cross apple picking off your fall bucket list. SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN U-PICK APPLE ORCHARDS Crane Orchards Upick 6054 124th Ave, Fennville, MI | Daily 10 am-6 pm 14 apple varieties ($.95/pound) Full-service cafe and bakery with pies, donuts, cider, hard cider, wine Cow train, hayrides and a 20-acre corn maze (check website for prices) Dutch Farm Market 6967 109th Ave, South Haven, MI | 269-637-8334 | Daily

What's On This Weekend: Sept 16-18

It's too nice outside to sit in front of the computer, so let's just get right to the good stuff. Here are 11 ways to while away this gorgeous mid-September weekend. FRIDAY Sign the kids up for a two-hours session of books, music, animals, outdoor explorations and more at the Outdoor Discovery Center's Nature School in Holland Head to Gull Meadow Farms in Kalamazoo for a corn maze, petting farm, car show and spectacular hot air balloon glow (through Sunday) Stroll from shop window to shop window to see more than 100 live mannequins on display in downtown Holland Catch the final days of the Allegan County Fair (though Saturday) and your last chance at thrilling rides, fun games and delicious

There's More Than Story Hour At Your Local Library

Story Time has gotten us through many dreary winter days, and I looked forward all summer to getting back to our weekly date with the library. But while I was doing some online digging to put together a list of kid-focused library programs across Southwest Michigan, I found SO. MUCH. MORE. There are movie nights, LEGO block parties, science, music and art explorations, book clubs, coloring clubs, a garden club, a chess club...that's just a sampling. Take a look at the plethora of programs for youngsters of all ages here, listed in alphabetical order by town. Also, if you see something on this list that sounds completely wonderful but your local library doesn't offer anything similar, it does

30 Things To Do This Fall (The Ultimate Southwest Michigan Fall Bucket List)

Why should summer get all the bucket list love? Not cool, you guys. With mild temps, crisp blue skies and Mother Nature's dazzling display, autumn is the perfect time to get outdoors and have some fun, after school, on the weekends, playing hooky, whatever. Before You Know What comes. Let's do this. Pick apples at a local orchard Go on a hay ride Have an autumn scavenger hunt Eat still-warm donuts from the cider mill Find your way through a corn maze Go to a haunted house Make pinecone bird feeders Pick out pumpkins from the pumpkin patch Rake your neighbor's leaves Watch the cranberry harvest at DeGrandchamps Make your own candy corn (it's surprisingly easy!) Keep a gratitude journal for 30

What's On This Weekend: Sept 9-11

There seems to be an underlying theme to this weekend's lineup of events: carnivals. Our little corner of Michigan is hosting a back-to-school carnival, a wine harvest carnival, a small-town county fair, antique tractor show carnival, rescue animal carnival, train museum carnival... Of course, plenty of alternative options await those who aren't in the mood for carnival fun and food (is there such a thing?). Just keep reading. FRIDAY Catch a unique glimpse at antique tractors and farm equipment, as well as parades, games, crafts, a flea market at the Michigan Flywheelers Museum in South Haven (through Sunday) Hop on a ride or two, win big at the carnival games and savor the scrumptious food

Event Recap: Big Truck Labor Day Parade & Ice Cream Social

We have lived just a half-hour from Holland for almost three years, but somehow didn't know this was even a thing until two weeks ago. But parades and ice cream are right up my alley--I mean, the kids' alley--so I marked the calendar. On Labor Day morning, we jumped in the car and headed to Holland about 30 minutes before the parade was set to start from Zeeland. There was an abundance of parking. Like, you could park easy breezy on the street of the parade route (8th Street, I think). We picked a spot along near the curb to put down our blankets, which is all I thought to grab. Lawn chairs would've been peachy. And then we waited for the trucks to rumble into town while the kids scaled flag

Page Turners: 5 Awesome Books For Back To School

The classroom bells have tolled! In celebration of the new school year, we've rounded up five books to get the littles excited for all the learning ahead. 1. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty (illustrations by David Roberts “Life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.” This whimsical tale follows a strong-willed protagonist named Rosie who loves tinkering and inventing things. She learns a valuable lesson about perseverance and its many rewards. 2. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt Duncan's box of crayons feels under-appreciated, overwhelmed and at odds with one another, How will they make peace--and beautiful, rainbow-hued drawi

What's On This Weekend {Labor Day Edition}: Sept 2-5

It's a three-day weekend and the final summer hoorah before public schools start up on Tuesday. Luckily, there are quite a few family happenings and perfect early September weather on tap this weekend. For your consideration:​ Friday ​Head to New Buffalo for authentic Greek food and entertainment (through Sunday) Grab your coziest blankets and catch "Zootopia" under the stars at the Outdoor Discovery Center in Holland Enjoy a free concert by popular GR band The Crane Wives and walk across the picturesque Old Iron Bridge in Allegan Saturday Join in the fun at the Hope-Holland Community Day, with a picnic, football game and full lineup of activities Peruse handcrafted goods and fill your bel

4 Ways To Put The Meaning Back In Labor Day

I don't know about you, but Labor Day seems to me like a non-holiday these days, amounting to nothing more than a long weekend that gently ushers in the autumn. Established as a celebration "of the social and economic achievements of American workers." it is the perfect opportunity to teach your children about the workforce and ways to show their gratitude for the countless people whose hard work affect their lives, from doctors to teachers to garbage collectors to cooks. It's also a good time to talk to them about your own job and why you chose it. And if you really want to get their little minds whirling, ask them how they want to make the world a better place instead of what they want to

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