20 Unique Gifts Under $40 that are Michigan Inspired

It’s finally here!! Tis the season to give and receive, and what better gift to give than the gift of home.

And for me that is Michigan.

Like many others, I am proud to be a Michigander and the more I learn about the great MITTEN STATE, I cannot keep my findings a secret!

GEMS. GEMS. and MORE gems.


Out of the hundreds of these adorable small, unique, home-grown business, I’ve narrowed it down to 20 that give me ALL the feels - that you just can’t find anywhere else….


Be sure to click on the pictures for more details!

Michigan Mittens (Go Blue!)

-City Bird Shop-

Michigan State Sticker

-Shiloh Collect Co.-

“Take Me Home” Hand Painted Sign

-Brush & Timber Shop-

Michigan State Outline (stitched in leather)

-Better Life Bags-

Mitten Crate (one-time gift or subscription options available)


Detroit Cookie Co. Gift Basket (Set of 4 packaged cookies)

-Detroit Cookie Company-

Michigan Polka Map Crew Socks

-The Great Lakes State-

You Are Mi Sunshine - Women’s V-Neck T-Shirt (Maroon)

-The Great Lakes State-

“Go Jump in a Lake” towel

-The Great Lakes State-

“Go Take a Hike” 15 oz coffee mug

-The Great Lakes State-

Detroit Bold Coffee - Variety Pack

Benjamin Twiggs Sweet Tooth Package

Brown Bag Popcorn - Caramel & Cheese flavored

-The Detroit Water Ice Company-

Michigan Winter Hat - Forest Green Beanie

-Mitten Crate Co.

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” Glass Ornament.

-Bronner’s Christmas Shop-

Illustrated Michigan Map Silkscreened Art Print

-City Bird Shop-

Michigan Wrap Bracelet - Gold

-City Bird Shop-

Small Michigan Lower and Upper Peninsula State-Shaped Cutting Board Set

-City Bird Shop-

Detroit’s Future is Female Classic Mug

- The Crimson Fox Studio-

Great Lakes Coffee Roast - Motor City Blend (12 oz)

-The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company-

Be sure to let me know WHICH ONE (or TWO) YOU HAVE YOUR EYE ON BELOW!


Why You Need This In Your Summer Bag

*This post is sponsored by Kleenex but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.*


If you could start building a list of all the items you MUST HAVE for your summer vacationing bag,  what are some that first come to mind?

 Gum, credit cards, first aid, sunscreen, sunnies....I'm sure our lists are equally endless. But what about for  cleaning up runny roses, messy faces or a quick hand wipe??



I recently came across Kleenex GoAnywhere product, packed with 30 (SUPER soft) facial tissues that literally clip to your bag and off you go!  Here's what I found to be so wonderful about carrying this mini-pack in my summer bag.

Being a boy mom, its tough keeping up majority of the time. When they need a quick face or nose wipe, I have my pack clipped to my purse, on the inside or out. 


This one keeps me on my toes. I find it so convenient that the Kleenex GoAnywhere pack can snap off my purse and I can carry it with me, not my entire Mary Poppins bag. 


Kleenex GoAnywhere is so easy to carry, SO so soft and multipurpose. I've used them for hands, face, and a 1-2-3 noise blowing. 



I highly recommend Kleenex GoAnywhere tissue pack for on-the-go families. Thats another feature I found so nice was how "easy to share" this travel pack is with others. We were able to use this packet for my entire family at our family lake house get-together. 


Needless to say, the only thing we'll be catching this summer are the creepy crawlers . We are loving our Kleenex Anywhere pack


What is one essential item for your summer travel list? 


What To Expect at NAIAS

**This post is sponsored by The Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai, and Steel Matters Development Institute (SDMI) but as always, all opinions are my own.** 


While we're all experiencing our own shades of winter, some of you may know that Michigan has some of the coolest temps this side of the U.S. - and currently dropping. And every January, we experience a warmup from the NAIAS - The North American International Auto Show.


Being my first time at the auto show, my expectations of all things lavish and luxurious were spot on from day one. Some of the most prestigious automobiles worldwide, I had the pleasure of photographing and testing for myself. This event was the winter-blues-bust I needed and NAIAS brought it's A-game.

So, which cars were my top picks, you might ask? If you are car-shopping like me, you really cannot go wrong with a showroom packed with car experts.

Below are my top picks as far as cost, mileage and family-friendly:

 Top Left Clockwise: Hyundai Santa Fe, GMC Yukon XL, Chrysler Pacifica, and the Chevy Traverse

Top Left Clockwise: Hyundai Santa Fe, GMC Yukon XL, Chrysler Pacifica, and the Chevy Traverse


Santa Fe: fully-loaded and awarded for it's safety features in 2016-17, including Top 10 Best Engines and High Initial Quality by J.D. Power & Associates.

Yukon: luxury on wheels. Period. Extra room, comfort and an overall pleasant ride. 

Pacifica: Google's Waymo announced Pacifica as the world's first autonomous driving vehicle and will soon be accessible to passengers as soon as early summer 2017! The van was also awarded The 2017 North American Utility Vehicle!  Extra room, excellent mileage and exceptional ratings across the board.

Traverse: first drawn to it's sleek body style and pleasantly surprised by it's holding capacity, and also awarded for it's tremendous safety features which includes the underbody light for safe foot-kick assistance!


 Top Left Clockwise: Hyundai Genesis G80, Hyundai Tucson, and GMC Terrain 

Top Left Clockwise: Hyundai Genesis G80, Hyundai Tucson, and GMC Terrain 

**Honorable mentions were ranked by several factors: size/capacity, price, and mileage.


Genesis: you name it, this car has it (well, besides a kitchen sink.) 365-degree cameras, HUD (Heads-up) display, built-in connect system, proximity detection, and overall focused on the driver's quality of life. With every purchase, a portion will go to Hyundai's charity, Hope on Wheels for pediatric cancer. The Genesis has your best interest to ensure your commute is more relaxed and less stress. 

**Buyer will also receive a 12-month Amazon prime membership.

Tucsona more compact version of the Santa Fe and also awarded for it's safety. The ideal ride for those with a smaller family, single or couples. 

Terrain: I've always had my eye on this versatile ride. The exterior has been revamped as well as the interior, similar to an Acadia with plenty of room for those outstanding road trips. 



Another highlight at NAIAS was the Cars 3 Movie: the reveal of the new characters, alongside the newly-renovated Lightning McQueen. 


With a whirlwind of a weekend, I had an overall enjoyable first-time experience and for those interested in attending NAIAS, here are 4 beneficial tips:

  • Parking. I was able to park at Greektown Casino (free but some had to validate inside the casino) and take the people mover to Cobo. (Cobo parking is untouchable because of the media) so pay the 75 cents and enjoy the Detroit/Windsor scenery. Also, arrive as early as possible.
  • Comfortable shoes. You walk EVERYWHERE. This is a must. Coat check is also available for $3.00
  • Games. I also noticed the family-friendly activities scattered throughout the auto show: video games, racer driving, gift shops, a fresh-food market, local shoppe booths, and so much more. The kids will love this experience.
  • Ask Questions. I've said it before, asking questions is a must here. The experts are top of the line and so friendly. I didn't walk away once with a question left unanswered.


I hope you enjoy the Auto Show as much I as did in Detroit. The Auto Industry is an extremely competitive field with the driver and passengers' overall riding/driving experience as top priority. I look forward to many more reveals in the near future! 



**A special thank you to SheBuysCars for the opportunity to experience such an exquisite event. To Hyundai, for a remarkable luncheon and tour. 

Why Michigan Is a Must See Destination

At the beginning of the year, my husband and I had decided that we needed to explore more of Pure Michigan. We penciled in several must-see stops before venturing across the "Mitten State."



I was grateful to have stumbled across the #miawesomelist from The Awesome Mitten. The list was packed with so many mini-excursions for the family! Whether we were in north, south, east or west Michigan,  our "Summer Bucket List" was packed with destinations and unforgettable memories.   

 The Ultimate Michigan Summer Destination List

Here are our top 5 Michigan summer destinations:

1.) Traverse City - There are endless possibilities in the land of wineries and restaurants. While visiting a city where majority of festivals, shops and the beach are within walking distance, I will share with you some of my favorites.

  Trattoria Stella Restaurant, 2016

Trattoria Stella Restaurant, 2016

Trattoria Stella Restaurant is located inside the old asylum called The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The menu at Stella's has an ever-changing menu completed with fresh ingredients. We make a point to eat here every time we visit.

The Little Fleet is a treasure we discovered this year. Picture a half-dozen food trucks with the most flavorful, nutritious and mouth-watering meals; and bonus, they thrive off of eco-friendly products! There's no other place quite like this fleet of deliciousness.

  Bower's Harbor Winery view, 2016

Bower's Harbor Winery view, 2016

Visiting Traverse City wouldn't be complete without stopping at the wineries! My top three recommendations are: Black Star Farms, Bowers Harbor and Chateau Chantel.  Black Star and Bowers have an exceptional selection of reds and whites, and the atmosphere is much more relaxed (less tourists). Chateau Chantel attracts many tourists, especially during the summer and also have a great wine selection. 


2.) Detroit - Tigers baseball, Motor City Casino, the Heidelberg Project, the famous Lafayette Coney Island are only a few hot spots in this great city of mine. Here are a few more I can't say enough about:

  Heidelberg Project, 2016

Heidelberg Project, 2016

The Heidelberg Project was a trip I knew needed to happen. The creativity, passion and inspiration behind the art I saw was empowering. One person could've seen this as someones "trash" while I saw this as a place of expression and a piece of Detroit's beauty. My boys loved it and now I have a little more appreciation for such extraordinary art. 

Motown Museum is a legacy and for some the birthplace of highly-gifted musicians and producers. Walking up to the museum, we were greeted by a Michael Jackson impersonator that I could've watched perform for hours - my boys included! There is so much history from the inside out at Motown Museum and glad to have experienced it all!

Belle Isle is gorgeous. My husband and I had our engagement pictures taken here years ago and its view of Detroit is still as beautiful as I remember. Visitors are welcomed by the most majestic fountain display, family-fun beaches, picnic areas, a large golf course, a casino (yes, you read correct!), playgrounds and so much more! We stopped at the Nature Zoo to check out all the little critters and animals after we paid a visit to the Aquarium! We could've easily spent a day here with all that Belle Isle had to offer. We will be back! 


  Motown Museum, 2016

Motown Museum, 2016

3.) Frankenmuth - This amazing city submerges visitors into the devout German culture. I have gained a great deal of appreciation for my German heritage, especially when it comes to food. They take a lot of pride and joy in their meals and drink of choice. Visitors can see this firsthand at the annual Oktoberfest celebration. My recommended eateries are Zehnder's (there's also a Splash Village down the road!) and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. Also, I have never seen a cheese selection quite like the Cheese Haus. This shop speaks my food love language. And can we talk about how magical the biggest Christmas store in the world is?!? Hello Bronners!

  Frankenmuth, 2016

Frankenmuth, 2016



4.) South Haven - I went to college near South Haven and every year I fall in love all over again - brings back great memories. It is the ultimate summer town where everyone rides bikes, skateboards, walks, rollerblades or kayaks. With an adorable bed & breakfast on every corner or near the beach, you will find an ice cream shop close by. The Taste Restaurant will easily become one of your favorites! We ordered just about everything off their menu because we couldn't get enough. Clementine's is a close second and also a historic attraction. 

This town is right out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, lighthouse included. The fourth of July firework display is incredible and draws a crowd from all around the country. 


  South Haven Pier, 2016

South Haven Pier, 2016

5.) Ann Arbor - My in-laws and husband bleed maize and blue so this was a given. University of Michigan is a name well-recognized globally for their medicine (William Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic and Charles Walgreen, founder of Walgreens drugstore are alumni) , athletic programs (launched Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Michael Phelps careers - to name a few), and an endless list of famous alumni including James Earl Jones ("Luke, I am your father"), Lucy Liu, and Selma Blair. Don't forget to catch a game at one of the countries most iconic stadiums, The Big House. While in town, check out a flick at the State Theatre

  State Theatre, 2016

State Theatre, 2016

There are endless options of food and fun in Arbor. Between Main and State street, restaurants like Vinology, Gratzi and The Jolly Pumpkin Brewery have something for everyone. A visit to Ann Arbor isn't complete without a stop at Zingerman's Deli. You can even ask President Obama. 


Well, there you have it. The ultimate Michigan destination list that had us wanting to stay at each spot a little longer and wanting to come back. A few cities with honorable mentions are: Grand Haven (home of the musical fountain & coast guard) , Petoskey (shopping galore!), Mackinaw Island (fudge please!) and Grand Rapids because this city has something new to offer at every visit. 

Hope you enjoyed our mini tour around Michigan! Its a beautiful state and has so many more hidden treasures that we have yet to discover. The possibilities are infinite when exploring "The Mitten." If you've found an exciting Michigan spot, be sure to send me details at info@thegildedwife.com

Happy exploring! 


**I was not compensated for this post. These opinions and photos are my own. 





Why We must Live In the Present

I don't know about you but on vacation, I take a million pictures - I have no problem channeling my inner mamarazzi.

And while attempting to capture every moment, I'm also learning to LIVE in the present.

Please tell me you struggle with this, too? 

Take a photo. Post. Take a selfie. Post.

Like, comment. Repeat.

Guilty as charged so say it with me, TURN OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. 




And I CHALLENGE you to explore your local gems. 


Here, let me go first.

I've struggled with the "phone in front of my face 24/7" syndrome considering the hundreds of social media platforms that need CONSTANT updating. I find myself NEEDING to be connected.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post.

The push for a online presence is greater now than ever.

Our worth isn't in likes and comments. Our worth isn't in the tangible.

Appreciate all this life has to offer. The environment. The people. The memories. 

Here are some beneficial tips to help transition into a more "living present" lifestyle:

  • Travel - a perfect opportunity to make memories, explore places near and far, and free your mind. Need ideas? Mock up a bucket list like my friends at The Awesome Mitten. Check out #miawesomelist if you live or plan on visiting Michigan. You're welcome ;)

  • Schedule times - I check my phone way more than needed, and we all know how easy it is to get sucked into the internet vortex. Now, I clock in early in the morning and after the babies are asleep. Do what works for your schedule :)

  • Plan ahead - Having a to-do list keeps me on task. I may not complete every task but I know what needs to be accomplished before I tap into the internet realm. Make a list the night before so you are ready to rock in the a.m.

  • Step out of your zone - Whether its food, a hobby, befriending a stranger or an outfit you've had your eye on, nows the time to carpe diem. I am all for making memories.

  • Spend time with Him - The minutes I spend with the Lord truly give me peace, love and an understanding no other being has come close to. In a life full of questions, His Word has the answers. Meditate and talk with Him daily.


Right now is all that's promised. It is no mistake that you are alive and well.

Put down the phone and step outside. Thank God for your health, your loved ones, the roof over your head, and the opportunity to make an impact in this world.

Live for today.

Tell me below what you are grateful for today...