Ideas For A Fun & Safe Memorial Day Weekend

Many know the start of the summer begins with Memorial Day Weekend, and we wanted to give you some ways to crank up the heat! We know things might look a little bit different this year, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! We will cook up some ideas for you to pencil into your weekend plans!

Get outside! The weather is forecasted to be warm and sunny, which is no time to stay on the couch. Get the grill fired up, dust off the yard games, and fill the cooler with ice! We’ll even let you in on our favorite outdoor recipe: a tarp, dish soap, and water. Mix well, and you’ve got yourself a DIY backyard waterpark! The slip n’ slide is one of the best, and easiest, ways to get everyone outside and into the sun, while being one of the all-time best summer activities!

Now that you’ve got the yard games dusted off, take the family to the Olympics… the yard game Olympics! Section the back yard into different events and go head-to-head with your family to try and take home a Gold medal! Things like bocce ball, ladder ball, horseshoes and cornhole are now your chances at achieving legendary athletic status. Create a point system for winning different events and give points to the winners of each event. At the end, have everyone add up their scores, and whoever comes away with the most points wins Gold!

While we still suggest staying close to home, Michigan and Indiana are home to a seemingly endless number of lakes and rivers that are all open to be enjoyed! Whether it’s the first weekend to drop the boat in, or to get armed and ready with your kayak paddles, exploring local lakes and rivers is sure to create an afternoon of fun. Even if you have to rent, many lakes have marinas where renting kayaks, canoes, and even pontoons are available to the public. If boats aren’t in the cards, there are several slow moving rivers you can sit on a floaty and take a cruise down a natural lazy river. The link will take you to a list of some of the bigger floatable rivers but check near you to see smaller rivers that will accommodate your blow-up unicorns! Please remember to practice social distancing and to be safe, but make sure to have fun!

The smell of an outdoor barbecue is more than welcome this time of the year, and it’s time to settle the feud between your next door neighbor as to who smokes the best brisket. Hopefully it’s not actually that serious but be prepared either way! Now is the time to try something new and grill up your holy grail of meat that you’ve been putting off. Baby back ribs, brisket, New York strips, whatever! And if you prefer the veggies, check out that link for 32 delicious vegetarian barbecue inspired foods! Gather the family around to gorge on a home-cooked barbecue dinner!


Memorial Day History & Traditions

In recent years, Memorial Day Weekend has been celebrated by thousands of us kicking off the summer at our cottage on the lake, gathering with friends and family for a backyard BBQ, or taking advantage of the long weekend and traveling to a new city. Unfortunately, this year looks a little different as we continue to social distance in order to keep ourselves and others safe. It’s the perfect time to reflect on what Memorial Day truly signifies.

We would all probably guess that “Decoration Day” sounds like something to do with the Christmas season, but did you know that Decoration Day was actually the original name for Memorial Day? Save that little tidbit for trivia night! Memorial Day is defined as the U.S. National Holiday to honor the men and women who have made many sacrifices for their country by serving in our Military. We want to give you some great ways to pay homage to the amazing individuals who keep us all safe!

Memorial Day was made a national holiday in 1968 to include each war the U.S. was involved in. An amazing way to brush up on your knowledge of the U.S. Military throughout the decades and pay your respects by remembering those who were lost is by visiting a National or State cemetery.  Both Michigan and Indiana each have State and National Cemeteries, and can be found at each of their links! Traditionally, decorating graves for our national heroes includes laying flowers and placing American flags at each grave.

A few other great traditions to partake in this Memorial Day Weekend are a little less involved, but still show your appreciation! Hanging the American flag off of your porch or in your front yard symbolizes your appreciation and remembrance for those who have lost their lives. Wearing a red poppy in remembrance is a tradition that stemmed from a poem that was written in World War l called, “In Flander’s Fields” and shows admiration for those who gave their lives for their country! In addition, be sure to set a reminder in your phone for 3:00PM local time. Why, you might ask? 3:00PM local time is the national moment of remembrance. Join the rest of the country in a moment of silence to remember our fallen heroes.


Cinco de Mayo Specials!

Taco Tuesday holds a special place in all of our hearts, but pair it with Cinco de Mayo and we have ourselves a holiday! Spice up your week with deals and specials from some of your local restaurants and takeaways for Cinco de Mayo, and make tonight a fiesta! In addition to food specials, many restaurants have even added drink specials to round out your meals, including Cinco de Mayo favorites like margaritas and Coronas!

Beltline Bar – Grand Rapids The Beltline Bar in Grand Rapids has a hot deal for the entire family, and if you pick it up curbside, a free sombrero is included! The deal includes 2 of their famous wet burritos, 4 tacos, family size order of beans and rice, and an order of chips and salsa for $50! Wash it all down with 6 packs of Corona or Modelo’s, or some wine-based margaritas!

La Familia Cafe – Kalamazoo Downtown Kalamazoo hosts a new and authentic Mexican restaurant called La Familia, who is hosting a Mariachi band during their pickup hours! Get down to some live music while munching on some authentic Mexican style tacos! On special they have a taco 10 pack box for $20, as well as some other non-traditional menu items like their special queso dip, nopales/cactus tacos, and elote/street corn!

El Nacimiento, Mojave Cantina – Detroit Our friends on the east side near Detroit have no shortage of tacos, and some awesome deals can be found at El Nacimiento and Mojave
Cantina
! El Nacimiento always has $1 tacos on Taco Tuesday, and this Cinco de Mayo, we’re in luck! Mojave Cantina is offering their entire menu for takeout, including their famous fajitas! Margarita lovers also rejoice as their homemade margarita mix is available for takeout, just add your own triple sec and tequila when you get home!

Coco Loco – Saginaw Want a chance at some free dinner if you’re near Saginaw/Bay City? Coco Loco Mexican Grill and Bar has teamed up with Jose Cuervo to support locally-owned Mexican Restaurants! Simply take a picture of your Coco Loco receipt and tweet @JoseCuervo with hastags #CincoToGo #CuervoContest, and Jose Cuervo might pick up the tab! Coco Loco is also doing a $125 gift card giveaway for interacting with their Facebook page!

El Oasis – Lansing El Oasis is celebrating 15 years of serving amazing Mexican food to the Lansing area, and in true Taco Tuesday fashion, all three locations are open for Cinco de Mayo! El Oasis is showing appreciation to their customers by dropping gift cards into random orders, and delivery, takeout, and call-ahead orders are all eligible! With physical locations and a food truck, El Oasis is ready to feed your fiesta!

Rodrigo’s – Harbor Springs Rodrigo’s in Harbor Springs brings authentic Mexican cuisine to Northern Michigan, and has some awesome takeout specials for all in Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Petoskey areas! Regardless of what you order, you will receive 5% off, and the main special is tamales topped with salsa verde and serviced with pico de gallo, salad, sour cream, and rice and beans for $20!

La Quesadilla – Crown Point Crown Point is home to La Quesadilla Mexican Grill, as well as some spicy deals for Cinco de Mayo! Half off all beers, sangrias, and margaritas if you’re thirsty, and $2 tacos to satisfy your Mexican food cravings! Stop by their Facebook page to Like, Comment, and Share their Cinco de Mayo post for a chance at winning a $50 gift card! If you live within 5 miles of La Quesadilla, you can get free delivery so you can stay on your quarantine siesta!

El Arriero – South Bend El Arriero Mexican Bar & Grill is holding down South Bend with a ton of deals to take care of Cinco de Mayo dinner! The family taco 20 pack is $36.99 with your choice of meat, and also comes with rice, beans, chips, salsa, and cheese dip! The family deals don’t stop with tacos, as they are also offering $31.99 family chicken fajitas, family arroz con pollo for $29.99, and family cheesy chicken fajitas for $34.99. The full menu is also still available, and one liter margarita kits to take home are $10.99!


Supporting Our Local Businesses and Healthcare Workers

We are incredibly proud of our team, and can’t help but to feel inspired, motivated, and impressed! Our family of companies (Michigan Real Estate, Northern Indiana Real Estate, Tomie Raines REALTORS®, & Executive Realty) created a campaign called, “Together, We Are Stronger,” to prove that we truly are stronger when we work together, even if we must remain apart at this time.

An important part of this campaign was that we wanted to “give back” to our community. Our agent’s truly care about everything that healthcare workers and small businesses are going through right now so together, we set a goal to raise $1,500 in order to support local businesses and hospitals. Our team sees how hard these individuals work and what they are sacrificing, especially now more than ever. They wanted to let healthcare workers know we are thinking of them during this trying time. Because we could not raise funds in person, a Go Fund Me page was created for staff and agents to donate to if they wished. The money would be used to buy meals from local restaurants to be delivered to a few hospitals in our neighboring cities.

Even during a state-wide shutdown, our agents and team far exceeded our expectations! Our initial goal of $1,500 was left in the dust, and our company was able to raise over $6,376 to support 18 hospitals, 17 local restaurants and feed over 770 healthcare workers! Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices’ family of companies including Michigan Real Estate, Northern Indiana Real Estate, Tomie Raines REALTORS and Executive Realty have even pledged to match the donation! Within the coming weeks, these extra funds will help us support more local businesses and healthcare workers. Because of the generosity and grace, we were able to more than double our reach to support local businesses and provide meals to more healthcare worker scattered throughout Michigan and Northern Indiana.

We could not be more thrilled to be able to give back to those who are giving so much. We sleep better knowing we have these amazing people to take care of us. Being able to rally our community around them is part what makes us so proud of our company as a whole.

Michigan Hospitals:

  • Spectrum Health Hospitals Blodgett Hospital, Grand Rapids
  • Metro Health, Grand Rapids
  • Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo
  • Ascension Borgess Hospital, Kalamazoo
  • Sparrow Hospital, Lansing
  • McLaren Hospital, Lansing
  • Beaumont Health, Royal Oak
  • McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital, Petoskey
  • Ascension Genesys Hospital, Grand Blanc
  • Three Rivers Health, Three Rivers
  • Covenant HealthCare, Saginaw
  • McLaren Bay Region, Bay City
  • Munson Healthcare, Gaylord
  • McLaren Northern Michigan Cheboygan Campus

Indiana Hospitals:

  • Memorial Hospital, South Bend
  • Franciscan Health Crown Point, Crown Point
  • Goshen Health, Goshen

We also need to extend a special thanks to the restaurants that made all of this possible, from the kitchen staff to the delivery drivers. Please remember to continue to support your local businesses during this time!

  • Big O’ Café, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Cottage Inn, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Jaspare’s Pizza, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Barnaby’s South Bend, South Bend, IN
  • Jimmy John’s, Lansing, MI
  • Mancino’s, Petoskey, MI
  • Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria, Crown Point, IN
  • Genesys Guido’s Premium Pizza, Grand Blanc, MI
  • Ample Pantry, Three Rivers, MI
  • G’s Pizzeria, Saginaw, MI
  • Eudici’s, Bay City, MI
  • Vincenzo’s Pizzeria, Wyoming, MI
  • Toarmina’s, Lansing, MI
  • PotBelly, Royal Oak, MI
  • Gerace’s Pizzeria, Goshen, IN
  • Jimmy John’s, Gaylord, MI

*We will be matching any funds that our agents have raised so far. Look out for additional updates on our COVID19 Benefit coming soon.

To stay up to date with our other activities and community involvement, like our Facebook pages: Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Michigan Real Estate, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northern Indiana Real Estate, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Tomie Raines Realtors, and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Executive Realty.


Ten Backyard Activities to Keep You Moving

Spring is here and the weather is starting to get warmer. Although most of us are stuck at home social distancing, that doesn’t mean we have to avoid fun activities altogether. To keep you and your family from going stir crazy during this time, we’ve compiled a list of ten backyard activities to get you outside and keep you busy.

Have a bonfire with roasted hotdogs and s’mores.

An all-time favorite outdoor activity – a bonfire! Roast some hotdogs for dinner and finish with a delicious dessert of s’mores.

Go on a backyard camping trip.

Campgrounds may be closed, but that doesn’t have to stop you from creating your own camping adventure. Pull out the tent and your sleeping bags and set up camp right in your backyard!

Set up a mini golf course around your yard.

No golf courses open? No problem. Set up a mini golf course around your yard using objects from around the house as obstacles.

Make a time capsule and bury it in your yard.

Now is the perfect time to create a time capsule, capturing this significant moment in time. Include photos, mementos, and a letter from each member of the family describing what life is like in 2020.

Have a relay race.

An activity perfect for all ages. Include classic races such as the pillowcase race, egg-and-spoon race, and crab walk, or come up with your own races!

Have a family barbecue.

Another spring and summer activity that is tried and true. Break out the grill and cook up your favorite al fresco meal! Have each family member make a side dish for a true potluck style barbecue.

Build a fairy garden.

Browse the internet for some fairy garden ideas and put your creativity to the test. Gather any supplies you can find around the house and yard to DIY. You can keep adding to it for ongoing entertainment!

Turn your shed into a livable space or a reading nook.

Now is an ideal time for some spring cleaning! Kill two birds with one stone and clear out that shed in your yard and create cozy space for reading or relaxing.

Plant a vegetable and herb garden.

With limited access to seeds and starter plants from your local home improvement stores and nurseries, you may have to order supplies online. Pick out your favorite veggies and herbs and get planting. Enjoy your fresh produce throughout the summer.

Have a family scavenger hunt.

Create your own scavenger hunt that includes items you can find in your backyard or around your neighborhood. Pair off into teams or complete it individually. First one to gather all the items gets to choose your next backyard activity!


Companies Offering Discounts Due to COVID-19

It has almost been three whole weeks since the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order was announced in Michigan and Indiana. We’re trying our best to keep you safe and in the know when it comes to Real Estate, but we also want to inform you of some pretty cool things that other companies in your community are offering!

Real Estate Agents

Free TeleHealth Membership for REALTORS®

In response to the current health crisis, the National Association of REALTORS® is funding 2-months of access to Members TeleHealth at no cost to our members, via the Right Tools, Right Now program.

Members TeleHealth provides access to a network of more than 2,300 board-certified physicians, who can address non-emergency medical issues via smartphone, tablet or computer.

Enrollment in the NAR-funded benefit is limited, so we ask that you check first with your insurance provider, even if it’s Medicare, as you may already have access to telemedicine.

Discounted Online Courses for REALTORS ®

NAR is offerings 30% off all online courses as well as free select courses until May 31, 2020.

To see everything that NAR is offering during this time, click here to visit their website.

First Responders & Healthcare Workers

Gas Discounts for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

BP is providing discounts up to $1 million in the form of 50 cents off a gallon for the people fighting coronavirus (COVID-19) on the frontlines.

The gas station is distributing codes for the discount. To receive a discount, visit bp.com/localheroes. You will be prompted to verify you are a first responder using ID.me. Once you do so, you will get a code via text or email that you can use the next time you get gas.

Free Meals & Rides for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

UberEats announced it will provide free meals and rides to first responders and healthcare workers in the U.S. and Canada, in coordination with local and state and provincial governments. Interested officials and organizations can reach Uber to partner at social-impact-support@uber.com.

Free Coffee for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

Starbucks is offering a tall brewed or iced coffee to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, hospital staff and researchers until May 3, the company said. Get more details here.

Free Donuts for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

As a thank, Krispy Kreme will provide all healthcare workers free dozens of our iconic Original Glazed® Doughnuts, beginning Monday, March 30 and on every subsequent Monday through National Nurses Week (May 6-12). Get more details here.

Free Counseling for First Responders and Healthcare Workers

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Neurocore Brain Performance is offering free telehealth counseling to all first responders and medical professionals in the U.S. through May 1st, 2020. 


Keep Your Children Busy With These FREE Education Subscriptions

While you are social distancing in order to do your part to stop the spread of COVID19; many states have shut down public education for the remainder of the school year. This means that, for many of you, your kids are at home too and you’re probably running out of ideas on how to keep them busy and learning.

We’ve gathered a few of our favorite Online Education websites that are offering FREE subscriptions due to the Social Distancing orders. You can see the entire list here but we didn’t want to overwhelm you even more that you might already be!

ABC Mouse/Adventure Academy

Khan Academy

BrainPop

CircleTime Fun

Discovery Education

epic!

Minecraft: Education Edition

MusicFirst

Mystery Science

SmartMusic

STEMscopes


Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring is here, and you know what that means? Spring cleaning time! Some of you may have gotten a jump start due to being stuck at home but if you haven’t, or heck even if you have, we have some tips and tricks for you to make the process easier and dare we say fun?

1. Make a Schedule

Start with what areas of your home needs the most work first. These are usually the areas that people refer to as “deep cleaning areas.” When is the last time you moved your fridge or stove, heck even your couch? Do you have a room that you have let pile up with things? Start with those places first and then work your way down your list. This will help make the task of spring cleaning less daunting and overwhelming.

2. De-Clutter

Ever heard of Marie Kondo? Well if not then I suggest you grab her book or watch her show! She is all about getting rid of things that don’t “serve” you, aka de-clutter! Set aside some time to organize your closets and donate clothes you don’t need anymore, dust and organize your office, and look through that dreaded junk drawer and throw things away! You may be surprised how fresh you feel after you eliminate unnecessary items from your life and how much more space you have!

3. Work from Top to Bottom

Start from the ceiling down, this way you force dust and dirt downward which keeps you from having to re-dust or re-clean your space, because no one wants to do that!

4. Walls and Windows Need Love too

This may seem like an obvious tip, but some people tend to forget that walls get dirty, they pick up the day to day, year to year gunk that goes on in your household. Use a damp towel to wipe down walls and blinds, and don’t forget to remove and wipe down the window screens outside.

5. Don’t Forget About Your Air

Clean air is vital for a clean home so replacing furnace and HVAC filters is essential and sadly is one of the most overlooked parts of spring cleaning. Air conditioner ducts build up dust during winter, so upgrading your filters will help catch unwanted particles so they don’t enter your newly cleaned space.

Another way to ensure healthy air in your home is with an air purifier. Do you or someone else in your home suffer from allergies? Adding an air purifier to your bedroom will help immensely!


How to Create a Calm Productive Work from Home Environment

It’s official we are all working from home for the next 3 weeks and for some of us that is a piece of cake, either you have a home office all set up, or the minute this whole pandemic broke out you got to work making one because you knew this might be the inevitable.

Then there are the rest of us, stressing out wondering how we are going to get anything done because we know we aren’t productive at home. We need that separation of work and home. For those of you thinking, yes this is exactly me! Well don’t stress, we are all in this together and we are here to help you create a peaceful productive at home workspace.

Step 1. Find Your Perfect Space

Now this doesn’t mean that you have to find the quietest place in your home, because some of us like to work within the hustle and bustle. This should be a place where you feel most relaxed, maybe at your kitchen table situated so you’re looking out the window, or maybe you have a favorite chair or spot on the couch in your living room that you can pull up a card table to. If you’re one of those people who has a huge walk in closet and wants complete removable from all distractions, that could be your place! Think outside the box, there is no right answer!

Step 3. Find the Perfect Chair

This is a very important step, because if you’re uncomfortable you will hate working, and that will just create a distraction that you don’t need. Your perfect chair doesn’t even need to be a “chair,” it can be your favorite place on the couch, or maybe you have a bench you like to sit on. Want to kill two birds with one stone and have a bosu ball laying around? Try using that as your desk chair, not only will it help with posture but keep your abs engaged, so you’re working-out while working!

Step 3. Declutter

Whether it’s your home office desk or kitchen table, clear it off and organize. What doesn’t need to be in your space goes, and what does, find a designated place for it! Use folders and sticky notes to keep track of different projects. While you’re at it, decluttering the rest of your house will help clear your to do list and put you in a better head space to get to work!

Step 4. Bring in Some Green

Plants can make a huge difference literally and figuratively in bringing some life into a room. Not only that but they add extra oxygen to your environment! Don’t have a plant laying around that you can add to your workspace? Try and see if you can situate yourself near a window, bonus of doing that is getting some extra vitamin D in while being able to look out and escape your four walls for a little bit!

Step 5. Add a Calming Scent

Engaging your scenes is a huge way to not only boost productivity but to create an environment you actually want to work in. Scents can soothe a stressful mind as well as help with any blockages and procrastination, which hopefully will result in increased focus. Want a little health boost with your scents? Essential oils like lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus can give you a great natural boost.


Fun Ways to Be More Productive at Home

Social distancing has now become our everyday life, and for most of us it is really hard to slow down after going 100 miles a minute. But this is the new norm (hopefully not for too long) and we need to figure out ways to not only keep ourselves entertained but hopefully do something productive.

So, we put together a list of things to do while quarantined that will hopefully not only engage your mind but bring some fun into these scary times.

Bring Out Your Art Supplies

For most people art is the hobby that is quickly pushed to the side as we enter adulthood but now is the perfect time to work that side of your brain and create something beautiful in the process. Whether it’s painting, coloring, sewing, knitting, etc. Set up a designated corner in your home (yes, we’re talking your cliché craft corner here people) and get out of your head and into some art!

Time to Try a New Recipe  

Now that all of us have done the mad run to the grocery store to stock up on food we will need during our quarantined time at home, this is the perfect time to make some recipes you have been putting off like that decadent cake you haven’t had a reason to make? Or maybe throw your family a themed dinner? Maybe even head to Pinterest click on that recipe board you created years ago that you haven’t looked at since, close your eyes and point. Whatever you land on you have to make (baring you have the ingredients) The possibilities are endless, now go get your Martha Stewart on!

Dig into Some DIY

Remember that cool DIY shelf you bought the supplies for that you were going to put over your bed months ago? Or that paint can sitting in your basement meant to be used to give your baseboards a fresh touch up? Well there is no better time than the present to crack into those projects, and you may be surprised how quick they get done, sparking motivation to check off more DIY to dos.

Though these things may seem simple, they can also be easily forgotten as we get sucked into the stress and anxiety that is navigating this situation. So, try one or maybe all three of these things, come up with some new ideas and share with friends. It’s important to find joy in little everyday tasks!