Alex’s Top 10 – February

Alex’s Top 10 – February
alicia bock photography iphone case - the awesome mitten
Alicia Bock iPhone Case

Below are ten things that I think are awesome, and that you should probably check out:

1.) Alicia Bock Photography – Alicia Bock is a Michigan photographer who is taking beautiful pictures, both in the Great Lakes State and around the world, and making them available in a variety of forms. PrintsPolaroidspillows, and more: I want everything, ESPECIALLY the iPhone case that reminds me of what Michigan is like in the summer while I buckle down for the next round of snow. And I’m still trying to decide between a vintage typewriter photo (which isn’t especially Michigan-y, but you know what? I…GASP…like things that aren’t Michigan-themed) and a photo of bikes that reminds me of Mackinac Island. Good luck not wasting too much time going through Alicia’s Etsy and Society6 pages.

2.) Swedish Lessons: A MemoirNatalie Burg Vial, the author of this sure-to-be-great memoir, is one of the most interesting people I know, and that was before I knew that A.) she was writing a book, and B.) that it was a memoir of some ridiculous adventures she had in Sweden. Here is how Natalie described the book: “In 2005, I was invited to be an au pair for a family in Sweden. I asked no questions, I simply dropped my whole life and went. I mean, why would I not want to spend a year of my twenties gallivanting around Europe, having adventures by night and nannying by day? 

What happened, however, was something significantly different. There was no gallivanting. There weren’t even children to nanny.

Swedish Lessons - The Awesome Mitten
Swedish Lessons

There were teenagers who had no use for me, horses wearing coats, a mother intent on building a new career within a metaphysical, new-agey, pseudo-religious sect, and an insane amount of house cleaning. And all of this happened on a farm, miles from the closest city. Oh, and there’s some romance (of sorts), backstabbing and several instances of attempted fraud in there too.

“Wowzers,” you say? Wowzers is correct.

So I wrote a book about it.”

I really want to read this book, but I can’t donate the entire $1,000 remaining on her Kickstarter campaign, so please go help her out. Not convinced? Do it if for nothing more than the sweet Swedish flashcards Sibling designer Alisa Bobzien has created. Oh, and PS, if you’ve heard of Michigan musician Mike Vial, that’s her hubby. They had a Michigan-Made wedding. Awesome.

3.) Grand Rapids Dessert Wars – I’m what you might call “cupcake obsessed,” but when it comes to sampling desserts, I’m an equal opportunity eater. Dessert Wars will be held at The Amway Grand, Thursday, February 21, 2013, from 6pm-8pm. It costs a small admission fee of $5, and the event benefits Kids’ Food Basket. Two prizes will be awarded: Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice. One of my favorite local celebs, Todd Chance of MLive, will be guest judging, joining a panel including Val Lego of WZZM TV-13; Chef Tommy Fitzgerald of Café Stella and Kitchen Sage; Douglas Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids; and Barb Wallace of Pioneer Sugar. Come hungry!

I'm a Beer Hound Membership Card - The Awesome Mitten
Membership Card

4.) I’m a Beer Hound Membership Card – I’m a HUGE Michigan beer fan (go figure, huh?), and I’m a Beer Hound is one of the sites I frequent to keep up to date on the local beer happenings in the state.  Living in GRap, where breweries pop up every day, life gets expensive. (Especially when you’re on a mission to visit every bar in Michigan.) That’s why I’m pretty pumped about I’m A Beer Hound’s new “Membership Card”; for $20/year, it offers the cardholder discounts to 58 breweries and beer bars around Michigan. Do I really need to elaborate? Lucky you, I’m A Beer Hound is so awesome, they are letting us giving away FIVE of these cards!! Just tell us your favorite brewery in Michigan in the comments and you’ll be entered to win (Contest ends on Sunday, February 24 at midnight). Happy Grand Rapids Beer Week!

megan gilger - the awesome mitten
Megan Gilger

5.) Megan Gilger – You really can’t sum up all that Megan Gilger does in a little paragraph. She’s a designer at Hitch Design Studio, a blogger at The Fresh Exchange, co-founder of Blog Brunch (which she recently stepped away from to dedicate more time elsewhere), event coordinator, conference attendee, and people connector. Her Pinterest account has been lauded by the Huffington Post as “addicting”, and her pictures on Instagram make me fall in love with Northern Michigan or anywhere she may be visiting (she recently went on an European adventure). I want to buy her prints, have her plan the next Awesome Mitten event, and sit down and have a beer with her. Potential for the Happy Hour in the Mitten series? I think so.

6.) Detroit Moxie’s Weekend Roundup – Detroit Moxie is a great website for finding cool things to see and do in the greater Detroit area, but my favorite part of the site is the weekend roundup. Founder Becks Davis does a great job condensing all the happenings of Detroit into a Top 5 list each Wednesday. Whether you live in the area, or are just visiting, tune in to Detroit Moxie to plan your weekend!

Northern Swag - The Awesome Mitten
Northern Swag

7.) Northern Swag – I’m from Traverse City, and I merely aspire to the type of swag the fine folks at Northern Swag are putting out. While their photography is my main reason for visiting the site, it also features event and things to do Up North. Follow their Facebook page and Instagram account for more gorgeous pictures. Although I call Grand Rapids home now, I’ll always be a Northern Michigan girl; and no matter the season, the team at Northern Swag captures it, and they constantly make me nostalgic for my hometown.

My Great Lakes - The Awesome Mitten
My Great Lakes

8.) My Great Lakes – Kylen Blom, founder of My Great Lakes, grew up in Holland, spending his summer in Lake Michigan, but it wasn’t until after he traveled that he realized how great those lakes really were! Determined to keep them as awesome as possible, he started My Great Lakes, a t-shirt company that lets you show some favoritism and proudly proclaim, “LAKE SUPERIOR IS THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL!” Ok, maybe not exactly that way, but a portion of each sale goes to support our Great Lakes, and to me, that makes it a must-purchase item.

9.) Birthday Pictures – We had some birthday parties for Michigan a month ago, and I’ve FINALLY got around to putting up the pictures. Check ‘em out on Facebook! Thanks to all who made the events happen and all those that attended!

10.) A Healthier Michigan’s #MichiganMondays – Every Monday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s A Healthier Michigan initiative puts out a photo for “Michigan Monday” on Facebook. they make me laugh every time. Here are a few examples to help explain why:

Michigan Monday - BCBSM - The Awesome Mitten
#MichiganMonday
Michigan Monday - BCBSM - The Awesome Mitten
#MichiganMonday
Michigan Monday - BCBSM - The Awesome Mitten
#MichiganMonday

~Alex Beaton, Founder