Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ladies' Night Holiday Shopping: YP Kelsey Lauer Goes Out on the Town

Downtown Traverse City knows how to celebrate the holidays, and Ladies' Night Holiday Shopping is no exception. I was lucky enough to spend several hours roaming downtown last Thursday with several friends in a chocolate-and-good-wine-fueled shopping frenzy—although it involved more window shopping than not. 

We started the evening with a free massage and complimentary beverages at the Bank of Northern Michigan. After relaxing for a bit, we headed out to check out the shopping at The Exchange Boutique and Salon. The scarves were particularly interesting. 

Next, we went next door to Pavlova Salon, where we joined numerous other ladies in indulging in a glass of L. Mawby’s Sex and some delectable chocolate truffles. Thus fueled by chocolate, we hit up Boyne Country Sports, admired some of their skis and then moved across the street to Brilliant Books, where I picked up New York Times bestseller “And When She was Good” by Laura Lippman. (Side note: it’s a really good read!).  

Next, we visited Great Lakes Bath and Body, which was the best-smelling store of the entire evening. If you need candles, soap, lotion or a scrub, their selection is highly varied and almost sure to offer something that’s to your liking. 

We had fun trying on sunglasses at the Sunglass Shoppe, which was also kind enough to offer some good snacks. Definitely check them out if you’re in need of eyewear—they have both fashion and high performance options. 

Another highlight of the evening was Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars—possibly the most-packed store of the evening. After navigating through the crowd of people, we arrived at the beverage cart, where I sampled peach balsamic vinegar mixed with a sparkling beverage—surprisingly tasty! Although I didn’t purchase anything this time, I’d highly recommend Fustini’s 18-Year-Old Traditional Balsamic Vinegar; it pairs well with almost any food item. 

Also worth a visit is My Secret Stash on Cass Street, which is a little off the beaten path but features a beautiful selection of jewelry, art, housewares and more, all made by Michigan artists. I was too busy admiring everything to take pictures, but I did most of my shopping damage here and don’t regret a penny of it!  

These were just some of the highlights, but we visited a circuit of nearly a dozen different merchants (some of which are mentioned above) that made us eligible for a drawing at the end of the evening. Giveaways included a $400 downtown gift card, a $200 downtown gift card and a wide variety of prizes from sponsors. None of us were lucky enough to win, but we still appreciated the chance, and congratulations to the lucky recipients! 

Men’s Night is tonight and, from what I hear, is every bit as fun as Ladies Night, so head down and check it out!   

Thursday, December 4, 2014

YP Playlist: Short Days & Long Nights

By Emily Petrovich of NewEra Social Marketing

Winter is coming. Actually, it feels like winter is already here.

The days are shorter with a noticeable lack of sunshine… the nights are longer and increasingly colder. There must be some correlation between these seasonal factors and a dramatic increase in our proclamation that we will not go into “hibernation mode” (while actually experiencing a decrease in willpower and motivation.) We tend to gradually allow ourselves extra holiday treats while gazing woefully out our windows at the gray skies, swearing we will lace up our running shoes or hit the gym at some point tomorrow, despite the appeal of our warm homes with comfy couches and cozy blankets. Bonus points (and even more of a challenge to resist) if there’s a fireplace. Must. Not. Hibernate!

Okay, okay – not all of us go right into hibernation mode at the first sign of snowflakes. The Traverse City area offers so many wonderful opportunities to stay active during the winter months, indoors and out. But it can be tough to keep your energy up if you typically arrive to work at or around first light and leave when it’s completely dark. We feel you, friends. We’re here for you. That’s why we’ve combined TCYP forces to create a musical snack mix for your listening pleasure, sure to keep your spirits up all winter season long!

Our first playlist features favorites from several of our YP’s – songs that energize, motivate, and inspire us. The overall flow starts by pumping you up and finishes by gradually bringing things back down – perfect for a winter work day.

Check out our Short Days & Long Nights playlist on Spotify.


 Are there any songs you would add? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First Time Attendee at a City Commission Meeting

Happy fall, everyone! The few dustings of snow we had earlier this week are melted for now, but it's clear that the color season has passed and winter is on its way. Lucky for me, I'm a big winter sports enthusiast, so I'm waxing my cross-country skis and getting ready!

In the meantime, though, I've given some thought about what kind of community member I want to be. My husband and I have at least a five-year plan to stay in Traverse City, and we are always looking for ways to get involved as active citizens in the community and pay attention to the important issues at play in our region. With all that in mind, we made a big step in our roll as Traverse City residents: we went to our first City of Traverse City City Commission meeting this week. 

There were some vital things up for discussion at this meeting, and we decided we wanted to hear about them in-person instead of the next day in the local media. It's nothing against the local media; we just wanted to be a part of the conversation and listen to all the details from the commissioners for our own knowledge.

At the meeting, the commissioners discussed the traffic study findings following the recent re-striping of Eighth Street (a major cross-town route), a new building proposal for the Traverse City Area Rowing club at the north end of Boardman Lake, and possible changes to the National Cherry Festival. In different ways, each of these issues are important to the residents and visitors to our city, and it was great to learn about them as the commission discussed these issues at the meeting.

Our main interest in attending the meeting was to learn more about the findings of the Eighth Street re-striping. My husband and I both bike a lot, and having such a vital cross-town route include a bike lane is something we wanted to show our support for and encourage the commission to keep. Much to my own surprise, I stood up and spoke for a few minutes during the final public hearing portion to express my support for the re-striping project, specifically the bike lanes, and thanked the commission for exploring different options for this route. I was mega nervous to get up and speak, but I'm proud of myself for sharing my thoughts!

I honestly didn't know what to expect at the meeting. I've never taken a strong interest in local politics, but attending the meeting gave me a sense of pride for our town and generally made me care more about the kinds of decisions that are being made at the local governmental level. I felt connected to the city in a different way, like I was truly invested in it and the future of our town, and that is very rewarding.

The city commission meets the first and third Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Governmental Center (near the corner of Eighth Street and Boardman Ave). I highly suggest that anyone in the city or Grand Traverse County attend at least one city commission meeting to learn more about how our local government works and what kinds of issues are being discussed. Get involved!

Monday, September 29, 2014

YP Guest Blogger: Daniel Baker

Greetings, YPs! It's been a while since there's been a post here lately, and I apologize for that. The main reason is simply that I've not been in TC much the past month, so I've not had the opportunity to share with y'all the greatness of this area. As autumn rapidly approaches, though, you can bet that I'll be sharing some of my favorite season with you all! Today, though, I want to share a guest blog post from Daniel Baker. Daniel and his fiancée, Kelsey, recently moved to the area. Read on to see what brought them to this beautiful place!

“We need to live here!”…are the words I said to my then girlfriend Kelsey as we drove past the scenic lookout by Chateau Grand Traverse in 2010. My name is Daniel Baker and I am a very proud and happy new resident of Traverse City! My now fiancée Kelsey and I relocated to TC in June of this year. We have been spending the majority of our summer weekends up here for the past 10 years as her parents have a cottage on Old Mission Peninsula and I have family in the area. It didn't take long for us to realize that this is the place we want to be long-term.

I was born in Traverse City but moved at a young age and grew up in Mount Pleasant. I most recently lived and worked in Grand Rapids where I moved from. I attended Alma College where I played football and earned a Bachelors degree in Business Administration in 2010. I am currently in the process of attaining my MBA in Finance from Walsh College out of Troy, MI. 

From Alma College I went to work in the Detroit market in several business-to-business account executive roles in both payroll administration and payment processing. My involvement in the financial services industrial allowed me to transition into a banking role in Grand Rapids where I was a Personal Banker, and Customer Service Manager in the Cascade market. Currently I work as a Cash Management Officer and Assistant Vice President for First Community Bank in downtown Traverse City. 

While it was our goal to plant our roots in Traverse City as soon as we could, I was fortunate enough to be offered a dream job opportunity with a great family owned bank doing what I love. Kelsey is enjoying her new job as a Human Resources Assistant for Team Elmer’s and we are settling in and trying to enjoy as much of the summer and fall that Michigan will give us. 

I am a very active person who loves the outdoors snowshoeing, ice fishing, hunting, hiking, kayaking etc. and just spending time with family and friends. I am an avid bow hunter and Kelsey is an avid shopper. When we aren't hunting or shopping, respectively, we really just enjoy seeing as much of Traverse City as possible and trying all the great places there are to eat; Blue Tractor, Harrington’s, and North Peak top the list so far. We also have an extremely large and innocently friendly yellow lab named Cooper who we like to keep as active as possible hunting, walking, and now his favorite, SWIMMING! 

Kelsey and I both look so forward to planting ourselves here and being active members of this community. Kelsey is helping coach Basketball at TC Central, and I am volunteering at the State Theatre, a member of the Young Professionals, and look to get involved in coaching local athletics in the near future. I am extremely excited to contribute to the overall well being of Northern Michigan and to soak up all of the beautiful scenery, wine, water sports, and outdoor activities it offers. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traverse City Film Festival: Just Great Movies!

I'm deep in the fun of the TCFF (Traverse City Film Festival), which is celebrating its tenth year of movie awesomeness. No doubt there are better ways to describe the TCFF than "movie awesomeness," but it's really one of those things you have to experience to understand just how great this festival is for our city. 

I've volunteered at eight of the ten festivals, and I'm proud and excited to be a part of this event every year. My husband and I are managers at the City Opera House for our second year (if you recall, we are also managers there during the Winter Comedy Festival). While we normally manage the concessions stand, we are hospitality managers this year and get to help the film, venue, and festival sponsors to their seats for each film. I like being in the front-of-house and working more with the patrons who come to the movies, but I do miss nibbling on popcorn non-stop...

The TCFF is an extraordinary event. This year, the festival is touting over 160 films (not including multiple screenings of films!) playing at ten venues around Traverse City non-stop from 9 a.m. until midnight for five days. Oh, and that doesn't count Opening Night or all the movies that played in nearby towns before the festival started. Or the months of planing that went into making this years' event happen. WHEW! Just thinking about that kind of orchestration exhausts me.

The festival is so much more than just movies, though. They have a free all-day festival for kids, late-night movies outside on a giant screen at the Open Space, international and local musicians, parties galore, free movies, a film school, conversation panels with awesome people, and for cryin' out loud MOVIES ON A BOAT. I don't care who you are, you will find something to get geeked about at this festival (and plenty of eco-friendly ways to navigate it).

One of my favorite parts about TCFF are the film makers, actors, directors, musicians, producers, and other special guests coming to Traverse City to participate in panel discussions, Q&As after movies, or just to sit town and chat with locals in restaurants or waiting for films to start. There is something indescribably special about watching a great movie and then having a conversation with someone who helped the film come together. Maybe it's the inherent human need we all have to connect and understand each other that makes meeting these people so special to me; I can honestly say it never gets old. I love their stories, and I love the art they create and share with the world. The Film Fest makes these experiences possible for hundreds (probably thousands) of people every year, and that's truly remarkable.

I also love chatting with the patrons about what movies they loved, where they live and how far they traveled to get here, and about their experience at the festival. I know many locals that take the whole week off work to either volunteer and make things happen or watch loads of movies and orchestrate their schedules to squeeze in as many films as possible.

Me, I'm a volunteer through-and-through. I like making things happen and I always make new friends (or get to see lots of familiar faces when people come to see the movies). There is great camaraderie at all the festival venues, and since the very first festival I've loved being a part of everything TCFF stands for and what it gives back to the people in this town. If you're interested in being a part of all this goodness, shifts are still available...and we'd love to have you volunteer! Please sign up!

Already I've seen two wonderful movies, but truth be told, I'm a documentary person. We have tickets to see two documentaries this year and I'm so excited for them! I'm missing a few films I'd like to see due to either working my regular job or working my volunteer position (yes, it is an exhausting week for everyone), but I've faith that these films will be available sometime soon. Oh, that's another perk of having a local film festival: foreign, experimental, and/or indie movies make it to our local library and video rental stores when they're released, and everyone in town wants to see them! People recognize titles from the TCFF and want to see films they otherwise wouldn't get the chance to see (because of schedule conflicts or sold-out shows), and that's really cool. There is a fantastic sense of community built into these films and the power they have to bring disparate groups of people together.

Ok, I think that's enough blabbering. The facts are this: TCFF is awesome. Movies are awesome. You are you should volunteer, or watch some great movies, or chow down on popcorn, or do all of the above. Just make sure you come check out this amazing festival in Traverse City...and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

RAT Ride: The Ride Around Torch Lake

Summer is a busy, busy, busy time of year for us northern Michiganders. We have four (maaaaaaybe five, but more like three this year...) solid months of awesome summer weather, fantastic summer events, and time to spend in the sun before winter rolls back in. My husband and I use the summer months for all kinds of activities, but the top of our adventuring list usually comes in the form of long bike rides through some of our favorite countryside landscapes and beautiful small towns in our region.

This past weekend, we joined nearly 1,000 other cyclists for the Cherry Capital Cycling Club's annual Ride Around Torch (RAT). While we've cycled in the area before, this was our first time participating in the organized event. We've only done one other organized ride (and it was a few years ago), so we had some idea of what to expect...but the RAT surpassed all our expectations.

 If you're unfamiliar with the area, Torch Lake has a reputation for being one of the most gorgeous lakes in our region...but also the most notorious for hosting boozey parties of epic proportions on its expansive sandbar (which can be both awesome and terrible). For better or worse, Torch Lake is a gem and the epitome of summertime up north. Torch is the lake that Kid Rock sings (is that singing?) about in his "All Summer Long" song, and despite its artistic value, the song resonates with most residents here in terms of what we love about this area: summer, beaches, relaxing, livin' life to the fullest.

Any chance I get to be around a place as breath-taking as Torch Lake, I'm there. The towns are smaller just east of Traverse City, but they are wonderful, fun, and have a lot of their populations quadruple this time of year. Lucky for us, we could avoid all the traffic and hustle-bustle by joining a ton of other great cyclists and taking to the road, seeing the land in full panoramic views and taking in the sights not often seen by visitors who stick to the borders of the lakes.

We started our ride in Elk Rapids and headed north to Eastport. From there, we went down the east side of Torch Lake, through Alden and Crystal River, around the top of Elk Lake through Kewadin, and back up to Elk Rapids. We opted for the 63-mile loop, but the RAT also includes a 26-mile route and a challenging (read: HILLY) 100-mile loop. All the routes are clearly marked, and you can ride them during the year even without the helpful markers or roadside assistance that the CCCC provides for the ride. I was pretty beat after riding the 63 miles. Maybe I'll consider doing 100 miles next year...but no promises!

All along the route, we had wonderful volunteers dishing up delicious food (I think I demolished 3-4 cookies and 3 bagels without shame), plenty of pit-stops, and lots of great company. At every stop, we chatted with fellow cyclists and learned more about where folks came from, what kinds of rides they've done, and just about everything else. Everyone was friendly and supportive, which I really needed at our third food stop at mile 49!

The whole route was breath-taking. Sure, we didn't stay along Torch Lake the entire time, but I'm a big fan of rolling country hills and farm landscapes. There were some hills, but the views from the top of many of them were worth the climb. I wish I had more pictures to share the route with you, but I was too busy pedaling and taking it in with my own eyes! You'll have to try it out for yourself next year.

At the end of the ride, I gotta admit, I was really sore. The ride was about 20 miles farther than I've biked all year, so you could say my endurance is quite low for something like this. Luckily I could draft some fellow riders for the last leg and somehow made it back to Elk Rapids going the fastest speed we rode the whole trip! It wasn't just my legs, either: my neck and upper back were the most sore, so when we made it back to our car I gave myself permission to just lie on the ground for a few minutes. Not for too long, though....

...because after the ride, the CC Cycling Club hosted a fantastic BBQ! I loaded up on potato salad, pasta salad, more cookies, and a dee-lish veggie burger. Oh, and the best perk of all? A dip in Lake Michigan right at the BBQ site to cool off and get some of the sweat and grime off my body after a long ride. I wish we could've stayed all day, but alas, we had more summer activities to attend!

All in all, I highly recommend the RAT for beginner, novice, and expert cyclists. There is a course and distance for everyone, and it's a fun, well-organized event that really embodies the great community of cyclists in our region. Plus, you really can't beat the location in terms of views and varying scenery: it is not to be missed!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Seungmo Park at the Dennos Mueseum

Happy Cherry Festival Week, everyone! While I've not had the chance to take part in any of the Festival events yet, I've done the obligatory wandering through the Open Space, scoping out what rides to ride at the Midway, and cursed about the traffic a few times. Don't get me wrong, we love having our tourists come and check out our awesome town, but it's a whole different beast now that I have to park downtown to work. Thank goodness for my bike!

While I'll make sure to fill everyone in with some Cherry Fest goodness next week, this week I wanted to share one of my absolute favorite exhibits I've ever seen at the Dennos Museum. I've seen all the exhibits moved in and out of the museum the past three years, and this one totally captivated me.

Seungmo Park's beautiful wire and mesh sculptures are larger than life, and truly stunning. Seungmo Park stacks layers of mesh wiring, then trims it piece by piece and little by little to create stunning portrait sculptures that engulf the viewer in their size and intricacy. I mean, just check this out:

Park photographed these models underwater, then layered the mesh (overlapping and stacking them just so, to create the proper effect, leaving about two fingers' width of space between each layer) and finally snipping away at the wires until these gorgeous, massive sculptures were complete.

And they are HUGE. We're talking, like, 10 or 15 feet across and wide. I love that I can move all around them and get super close to the artwork, watching the image change as I take it in from a different angle or distance. Getting up close to each piece really helps me appreciate the patience, tenacity, and vision that Park puts into these masterpieces. Every snip of the wire is intentional and gives the image incredible depth and detail. 

The pieces below, with the forest pathway and crowd, allow the viewer to walk behind the scene and become part of the image to those looking on from the other direction. Any art that encourages viewer participation and interaction gets a major A+ in my book.

The crowd is my favorite of Park's works on display at the Dennos; I love the anonymity of the scene, the elongated shape, and the variety of techniques Park used to create so many different textures and patterns. I'm not kidding when I say I could spend a few hours soaking up the brilliance in this piece and the personalities Park shares in these figures.

In addition to these hanging mesh works, there are also some of Park's aluminium wire wrappings, in which he casts an object and then wraps it in wire. While these aren't my favorite of his works, they certainly take a lot of skill and patience to craft, too. The realness of each sculpture and the space these occupy in the room make them feel oddly alive and conscious, like they're going to start moving or taking at any minute; it's pretty surreal. Also, I love this woman's hair!

If you've not checked out the exhibit yet, I highly recommend it. Park's work is only available for viewing in Seoul, New York City...and now, Traverse City. Who'd've thought? These works are well worth a visit to the Dennos, especially if it's raining or you need a break from the crowds downtown. Stop on over and take a look! The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm and Sundays from 1-5 pm. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children.