Tuesday, November 22, 2016

30 Day Exercise Challenge For People Who Don't Like to Work Out

It's that time of year..... the end of the year parties, get-togethers and over abundance of tempting food.  The time of year everyone indulges, splurges on food they love, or just snacks on items because they are in front of them.  To add insult, the TV advertisers feel this is a perfect time to start making you feel guilty about your pants being snug and advertise all their weight loss options.  Every other commercial is a weight loss gimmick or program or the latest and greatest piece of exercise equipment.

I used to jog
Then on top of that, due to holiday season all of my social media is flooded with all the direct sales programs for losing weight, working out, or a way to balance your diet, and pro-biotic health of some sort.  I am gonna let you guys in on a little secret.  I say if these things work for you, then I give you a lot of credit because  I'm cheap and lazy when it comes to my health.

I hate buying exercise equipment because I'll use it for a week and then it will collect dust in my closet somewhere.  I'm also cheap, I can't justify purchasing something I need to sign up for auto-refills on or need to keep in touch with a sales person to order.  Along with being cheap, I'm secretive.  I don't want to have to contact someone every time I need to order a product.  I want to go to the store, use the u-scan machine and get on with life.  I don't want to contact anyone to purchase anything.  I guess you can say I'm complicated when it comes to my health and working out.

What I need is accountability. I used to jog and run 5K races.  I spent a whole year training to run and competing in local 5K races and even ran an 8K race.  But I had a friend I met with to work out.  I need someone to compete against when working out.  I need to be able to work out with someone else in order to get me there every day.  But going back to my statement about being cheap, I don't like to go to the gym.  So I realized unless I motivate myself to get in gear, I am never going to do anything about it.

I decided to do a 30 day work out challenge.....but which one?  Do I want to focus on my butt, abs, gut, or arms?  So I thought, since I'm doing one challenge, how hard can it be to do all of the challenges?  I decided to merge together three challenges to make a total body work out challenge that didn't require the gym, exercise equipment, or leaving my house.  Now, let me just say I am not a fitness expert, I have no idea if this will work, if it's healthy, or if it's a good idea.  I just want to try it, and am making an accountability group to help with with actually doing the work out.  So if you want to join me, consult your doctor prior to doing the exercises and if at any time these are too much for you, by all means, stop doing the work out.  But if you are game for a crazy adventure, lets work out together. And from now on I will be using exercize with a z, because we are snazzy like that.

Join my facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1888512898036946/

Monday, April 4, 2016

Leap of Faith

Sometimes in life, you just have to take a chance.  Recently I took a really big chance.  

Our family owns three businesses.  Larkin Food Center, a rural store, Grandma's Pumpkin Patch and an excavation company, Earthmovers of Midland.  These businesses keep us hopping.  My family purchased Larking Food Center in 2010 and I quit my corporate job to be a manager of the store with my mom.  I also have been managing our seasonal business, Grandma's Pumpkin Patch since 2007.  Last year an opportunity came up for me and I have also been working as the Director of Fund Development at a local non-profit.  It was a fun filled year with lots of growth opportunity both personally and professionally.  By working at the non-profit I gained experience in management, learned to work with a Board of Directors, gained exposure in the community, and developed experience in sales.  The past year was a busy one, and also a stressful one.

My mom taking selfies with her Dr.
In November of 2015 my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She is a fighter, and is determined to get through this experience, and I have no doubt she will beat her cancer!  However, as a family we wanted to make sure she could focus on the battle ahead and not be weighed down with added stress.  The family businesses are a priority, along with family.  When something goes wrong were are a "circle the wagons" type group.  We all gather together and help each other.  My sister took over the book work side of the store and Earthmovers so mom doesn't have to worry about it.  My dad, husband and sister's boyfriend help with operations as they can and I quit my job at the non-profit.   I will be focusing on the daily operation of the store and maintaining Grandma's Pumpkin Patch.  Everything will work out, and the main concern is getting mom healthy again. 
Through this process we have been looking to utilize resources we already have.  In the family store we had a large empty warehouse....maybe a better description is a warehouse not being used for it's potential.  This place was not empty, it was filled with stuff.  Along with a warehouse, we have beautiful property.  Grandma's Pumpkin Patch is our family farm and we are blessed with beautiful woods, natural landscapes and a wonderful fall setting.  These two locations got me thinking and I decided to open MI Studio.

It even had a flash!
I LOVE the art of photography.  Always have.  I was taking selfies and pictures of my friends back in the 90's with disposable cameras.  Now I use my dads's fancy DSLR Nikon camera and have been collecting props and trinkets through the years.  I thought, why not utilize what we already have and open a photography studio.  However, the thought of taking someone else's photos terrifies me.  I would have anxiety over them not liking it or the criticism. MI Studio is a studio for photographers to use.  

Many people have the talent and the equipment but not the space for a studio.  We have the space! MI Studio is a full photography studio with a graffiti wall, back drops, Savage seamless paper backdrops, a brick wall stage, and an area that looks like the inside of a barn.  The studio also has lighting equipment and many, many, many props.  The property at Grandma's Pumpkin Patch is available as an outdoor studio with great natural settings and landscaped settings including an antique truck.  MI Studio offers a meeting area as well.  This space is available for rent for parties or to host classes, meeting space and if you have a membership to MI Studio you can use the space to meet clients.  Half of the battle of starting a business is having a space that you can present your brand professionally and MI Studio can help with that.  

MI Studio is my leap of faith that has me excited and nervous all at the same time. I hope the community enjoys the space as much as I do.  To learn more about MI Studio please visit our Facebook page.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Crafted Market

 Spring is approaching and with that comes farmer's markets.  This year at Grandma's Pumpkin Patch we would like to bring the farmer's market experience to our area.  

Hue Got It doing henna, photo by photolodico

The Crafted Market will feature many local artists displaying their original works of art, re-purposed items, and shabby sheek flea market flip style creations.  We will also have local farmers selling seasonal produce, and will be cooking the famous Grandma's Pumpkin Patch donuts.

Come to the patch, enjoy the warm summer air, shop local produce, and discover treasures from local artists and vendors.  

Dates of the markets are 

Interested in being a vendor? We are looking for produce vendors, honey, baked goods (must comply with all cottage food laws), artists, repurposed artists and more.  Contact us with questions at:
Amanda, 989-513-5222


Hope to see you at the market!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dear Mario, Please Be In The Maze

Each year we try to choose a person that is from Michigan or supports Michigan to be in the Grandma's Pumpkin Patch corn maze.  For 2016 we would LOVE if Mario Batali would let us feature him in the maze.

Why Mario?  Well let me tell you:

  1. Because Mario appreciates Michigan for what it is.  His wife went to college in Michigan and she had friends in the Traverse City area.  Mario and his wife, Susi, started vacationing in the Traverse City area and now own a house on the lake.  They appreciate all that Michigan has to offer and spend the summers in our great state.  Mario even plans his summer BBQ's around the local seafood offerings.  Here is his recipe for Walleye Sammies.            
  2. Mario appreciates the natural offerings Michigan, particularly Traverse City, has to offer.  He is even quoted saying "For long I’ve thought New York City was my one true love. But you’ve (Traverse City) proven to be the perfect antidote to the bustle of the city; and she the perfect antidote to the stillness of Lake Michigan."  Read his full love letter to Traverse City here.                                                                                                                                     
  3. He values farmers. " In this new book he celebrates American farmers: their high quality products and their culture defined by hard work, integrity, and pride."  In his book "America.  Farm to Table" Mario highlights recipes made from items bought at local farmers markets.                                                                                                     
  4. He is a philanthropist.  Mario created the Mario Batali Foundation in 2008 to make sure children did not go hungry.  His foundation works to help underprivileged children with food, and care.  He also assists the Lunchbox Fund to help school children in the rural areas of South Africa and the Food Bank for New York City.                                                                                                                                                                 
  5. He LOVES Crocs.  So much so he bought 200 pairs of the orange Crocs because they were being discontinued.  I love Crocs too! 

Mario please let us put your face in the 2016 Grandma's Pumpkin Patch corn maze.  You will be joining other celebrities such as Tim Allen, Kid Rock and Ginger Zee.  And most of all, we would LOVE to see you in corn rows.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thank You Ginger

In 2014 we asked Ginger Zee, the Chief Meteorologist from Good Morning America if we could put her face in our corn maze.  She graciously accepted and we ended up with this beautiful maze.
Photo Credit John C. Mureiko

We first started featuring celebrities with Robin Meade, lead anchor from Morning Express with Robin Meade on HLN.  When we asked her via Twitter her publicist team immediately responded and said they thought it would be hilarious and agreed.

Robin was so nice and even sent us an autographed picture and called to thank us for putting her in the maze.  My dad was on cloud nine, as it was his idea to ask her.  We had to hear about how it was his idea for a while.

Here is the picture we used to make the maze, and the actual maze.  I think we did pretty good.

Robin Meade, lead anchor of Morning Express with Robin Meade in a corn maze

From there we were questioning who to get in the maze?  We decided to ask Mike Rowe from Discovery Channel's show Dirty Jobs.    We tracked down Mike's agent's contact info, which turned out to be a former agent, but he was super nice and forwarded it on to the new agent who called me to get some more details.  After explaining our request, Mike's agent laughed and agreed.

Mike Rowe 2011 Corn Maze

Mike Rowe is very passionate about skilled trades and the lack of skilled workers in the United States. He stared a foundation called Mike Rowe Works lobbying for skilled trades, and raising funds for skilled trades programs.  We honored this by hosting a skilled trades day at the pumpkin patch inviting local unions and building programs to have informational booths.  It was a lot of fun!

The following year, 2012 my Grandmother turned 90 years old.  We thought, what a better way to honor her than putting her in the maze.  So all summer we kept the maze design a secret from Grandma and waited until we had pictures of the maze to show her that she, herself, was the maze design.  She was stunned and shocked, and a little embarrassed because she was a very modest person.  It was a fun happy birthday theme for Grandma to celebrate her pumpkin patch and birthday.
2012 Corn Maze, Grandma's 90th Birthday

From there we were stumped as to who to ask to feature in the maze.  After a lot of thought we decided to start featuring Michigan natives.  People who really appreciate our great state, and asked comedian Tim Allen.

Tim's publicist was awesome to work with, and thought it would be a great idea to put him in our corn maze.  She said Tim only had one request, that his corn maze have more muscles than Mike Rowe's.  Turns out they are friends and Tim checked out our other mazes before agreeing to appear in it.  So I think we did a pretty good job of putting Tim in the maze.
2013 Corn Maze, Tim Allen
In 2014 we asked Ginger Zee because she had ties to the area. Ginger graduated from Rockford High School in Rockford, MI.  After graduating Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology, Ginger worked at a local Great Lakes Bay area TV station,  WEYI TV25 in Flint.  From there she went on to work at WLAV-FM and WOOD TV, both in Grand Rapids.  The really funny part is, I lived in Midland when she was on WEYI and lived in Kalamazoo when she was on WOOD TV, so I saw Ginger on both stations.  In 2013 Ginger was named the Chief Meterologist for Good Morning America, and has been on the morning show reporting ever since.

Ginger was married in June of 2014 in Petoskey, MI and used mostly local vendors and Michigan companies for her wedding items. Ginger technically was born in California but grew up in Michigan and continues to support our state.

If you want a great Instagram profile to follow to keep up on the weather, the fun adventures she has on Good Morning America, and pics of her dog Otis, check out Ginger Zee's profile.  Another way to see what Ginger is up to is to check her YouTube Channel, Weather or Not. The channel is self described as "“Weather or Not” is a channel that lets the YouTube viewer choose whether to watch ABC News' most extreme storm coverage or other daily adventures with Ginger Zee, from polar vortexes to plane jumping."

Ginger is very busy, and is continually growing in popularity.  We asked Ginger if we could use  her face in our corn maze, and she said she would be flattered.  She was very kind, and always answered any questions we had.  
2014 Corn Maze, Ginger Zee (Photo Credit John C. Mureiko)

Ginger's framed photo
What do you get a person that has been on awesome adventures, and lives in stylish New York?  There is really nothing we can get Ginger to say thank you enough, but we tried.  I framed a photo of the maze, sent a Grandma's Pumpkin Patch tshirt for both her and her husband, and threw in a few dog bones for her dog Otis.  
Thank you Ginger for being such a great representation of the state of Michigan!

Ella and Tony the Donkey say THANK YOU!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

These Feet Were Made for Walking

Meet Bob.  Bob is a Bourbon Red turkey which was donated to us one week before we opened for the 2014 season.  A very nice lady called and asked if we would like a turkey.  Not being a stranger to having animals donated to us, I said sure.

When I met with the couple that donated Bob they explained that they ordered 40 different eggs from Ebay, and incubated them to hatch themselves.  To their surprise Bob was the ONLY egg that hatched.  Apparently the eggs weren't fertilized.  I always tell people who want to buy eggs, be sure to use a repuatable source like McMurray Hatchery that way you know you are getting quality product.

Bob was quite pampered at his home being the only turkey.  I do beleive they said they kept Bob in the house. However, they lived in the city and were not able to keep Bob.  They had intended to raise the turkeys and release them on some property they had north of town, but with Bob being the only bird.......they were worried he wouldn't survive and kept him at home.  So in an effort to find a place for Bob, they called and asked Grandma's Pumpkin Patch if we would take him.

When Bob came to us he was about six months old and probably weighed 15 pounds, he was a scrawny bird compared to our full grown turkeys.  When I put him in the turkey pen our turkeys started walking over to him all puffed up with their feathers out.  Apparently this sared Bob because he turned and slipped between the wires of the pen and got out.  So I put him in the pen with Mrs. Peacock and her roomate Mr. Chicken.  Well they were not too keen on this new bird in their pen.  When animals are in groups or with poultry, flocks, they have to establish a dominance hierarchy.   Mrs. Peacock and her roomate started pecking at Bob to let him know that they were the boss.  We left Bob and his roomates to work things out.

Later in the afternoon when I checked on Bob, I could not find him.  I did not see him anywhere in the pen, and looked in the coop and did not see him either.  I thought maybe he escaped, and started yelling his name, which seems ridiculous because how could a turkey know it's name?! To my surprise,  Bob replied with a small little cluck that sounded sad and scared.  I looked again in the coop and found Bob hiding behind some old plywood we had leaned up against the wall for storage.  I moved the plywood and Bob came running out to us, he was obviously very accostome to people.  I looked Bob over and saw that Mrs. Peacock and her roomate apparently ganged up on him and broke his wing.  Bob needed a new home.  He was too small for the turkey pen, not wanted in the peacock pen, he had no where to go.  That is how Bob became a free range turkey.

Bob got a "Presidential Pardon", he
was not Thanksgiving dinner
If you came to the pumpkin patch during the 2014 fall season you probably saw Bob running around during the week.  On weekends we had to lock Bob up in the barn because people were rather currious and got a bit agressive with Bob.  Children were chasing him, adults tried to catch him, poor Bob was getting picked on.

Now that the season is over Bob has full range of the pumpking patch.  He was given a "Presidential Pardon" by my dad and escaped being Thanksgiving dinner.  Every morning Bob meets my dad at his workshop and walks around the patch with him doing chores.  Bob also greets Aunt Sue when she comes over to feed the goats and lets her pet his face.  Bob loves to have his eyes rubbed.   Bob keeps a close watch on the patch, if a car happens to pull into the patch, he will immediatley chase after it and even down the road.  Apparently Bob thinks he is a watch turkey.

Bob chasing my car out of the driveway
Well Bob is getting quite brave in his free range travels and even made it 1/4 mile up the road to the local bus stop.  It was a quiet, sunny December afternoon and I was working in the store down the road from the pumpkin patch.  All of a sudden I hear a lot of laughing and screaming from the other side of the store. One of the clearks comes over to my desk and said "Bob is out at the bus stop chasing children."  I jumped up and looked out the window, and the school bus is still at the stop.  The kids are getting off the bus, and Bob is fully puffed up chasing the kids.  It was the high school bus, so these children are teen-agers running from a turkey.  Needless to say, it was hillarious, but also scary at the same time.  As the bus pulled away, cars started to fly by, narrowly missing Bob.  I took off on a dead run out the door, and of all the days I wore dress shoes insead of my sneakers. Trying to run with a smooth bottom shoe is difficult.  I yelled Bob's name as loud as I could and he turned to look at me, recognized who it was and immediatly smoothed his feathers and ran to me.  I think in his travels he got lost and stumbled upon the children and wasn't sure what to do so...... he stared attacking them.  When he saw me, he was relieved and ran right to me.  The only problem was, Bob was in the middle of a VERY busy road.  I had to wave my arms and flag down some cars to stop so I could pick Bob up.  I can only imagine what the drivers of the cars were thinking seeing a grown woman run to pick up a turkey.

I picked Bob up, which is difficult because he now weighs around 30 pounds, and is squirmy.  I had to cary a 30 pound turkey a 1/4 of a mile back to the pumpkin patch and find someplace to keep him so he would wander again.  The children were astonished I could pick the turkey up, and kept asking me questions.  "Is that your turkey?!"  "I've never sceen a turkey that BIG before"  "Where does he live?"   After answering their questions and explaining that Bob lives at the pumpkin patch, I carried Bob home.  The whole time Bob was clucking to me, I think he was trying to tell me his side of the story.  I was just thankful Bob didn't try to peck my face, because afterall eventhough he is a pet, he still is a turkey.

Imagine this big guy chasing you off the bus
I loocked Bob in the barn to keep him from wandering back and told my dad about his adventures that day.  I figued my dad could deal with Bob.  It was a cold walk back because I ran to get Bob out of the road in such a hurry, I forgot my jacket.  The walk to the barn I had a turkey to block the cold December wind, but the walk back, I was freezing.  I quickly hurried to the store and called my dad to tell him about his adventourous bird.   We let Bob out of the barn after dark so he wouldn't be enticed to wander, he would settle in for the night.  Bob cannot stay in the barn long term, he poops everywhere and eats the grain.  He is a pesky bird!

Now the neighbors love Bob and think he is hillarious.  The one neighber, whose child was chased by Bob, even feeds him in their back yard.  Bob is definatley a free range bird, if you are ever on Eastman Rd by the pumpkin patch, slow down because Bob is probably out and about.

A video posted by Amanda (@pumpkinsandprojects) on

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Figured Out Why Moms Wear Yoga Pants

Today while shopping at Sam's Club with my 1 year old, it suddenly dawned on me WHY moms as a whole tend to wear yoga pants.  It's to make using a public restroom while holding an infant more manageable.  Have you ever tried to zip your pants while holding a 1 year old?  Not an easy task, my friend!

I had to run to Sam's to get some things for our store, and I thought lugging a baby with me would be no problem.  I was wrong.  It's winter in Michigan right now, and as an added bonus, it's also unseasonably cold.  It is very frigid and even has it's own snazzy term, Polar Vortex.  The crisp weather was part of the problem today.  I didn't want to take my baby out of her car seat to carry her inside the store. Because she was sleeping, and I NEVER wake a sleeping baby, and she was protected from the wind in her car seat.  So on top of all the groceries we were getting today, I also had to lug around the car seat.  It took up most of the cart, so I had to be creative in my shopping cart packing.

Ella and I got all of our items on the list and I realized, I needed to use the restroom.  This requires so much work that I debated waiting until I got home, but knew I would never make the 30 minute drive home.  And then it hit me, I was relieved I wore yoga pants that day.  I couldn't leave the baby in the cart outside the bathroom, I knew she would totally be abducted, look at that adorable face.  The shopping cart wouldn't fit in the stall, so I had to hold my very squirmy 1 year old like a football pinned between my arm and side, and try to finagle with my pants.  I was so glad I didn't have the added challenge of a zipper in the mix.  So I have solved the mystery of why mothers around the country wear yoga pants, it is to make using a public restroom with an infant manageable. The only thing that might make it more manageable is this:

I'm not quite sure what exactly that is, and if it is safe, but I am pretty sure it would come in handy!

After we checked out, the Sam's Club cashier stacked the cart differently than I did, and the car seat no longer fit.  I ended up holding the baby while trying to maneuver an overfilled shopping cart with a car seat stacked on top.  It was not an easy task and when I was 10 feet from the car half of the items fell off and scattered all over the parking lot.  I have to say though, a kind passer by stopped and helped me.  She came out of no where, but I was so glad to see her.  With in seconds of my cart exploding in the parking lot this lady showed up and said "let me help you, get that baby in the car!"  The temperature was 0 degrees and windy, so poor Ella was hanging on for dear life while I was trying to pick up my mess.  I was soooooooooooo gratefully for this kind stranger.  She gathered up the items while I packed Ella up.  By the time I got Ella situated, the stranger had picked up all my items and said "Us mom's have to juggle a lot, but sometimes we need help".  Yes kind stranger, I was so thankfully you showed up to help.  I thanked her a million times and she said no problem.  As I was loading items into my car I looked up and saw that she was apparently backing out of her parking space when she saw my shopping cart explode, because her car was in the middle of the aisle, half in a packing spot.  She was so kind to come to my rescue, and thank God no one drove into her car while she was helping me!

So, in recap, wear yoga pants. They will make wrangling an infant on a shopping trip easier.......and they are comfy.