Laura Foley Ramsden is a mother, wife, amateur chef, seasoned executive, and served as the fourth-generation fish mongress for the business founded by her great grandfather. Her salty sense of humor and boatload of grit helped her drive delivery trucks, author cookbooks, travel the world, and become an expert and passionate advocate for sustainable fisheries management in the United States. As a busy Knackpacker with a distinct perspective, we thought you may enjoy her unique reflections as she once again takes over today's Knack blog…
I hate packing. I literally hate it — the folding, the organizing, the committing to outfits ahead of time, the anxiety of leaving something behind (which I invariably do) — it is all angst-ridden for me. That is, except when I am packing for a weekend in my most favorite college town, Ann Arbor, home of my alma mater, the University of Michigan. Packing for trips to U of M is like a walk down memory lane. I get to pull out all my Maize and Blue wear, and there is a lot of it, layer by layer, occasion by occasion, from t-shirt to sweatshirt, from sweater to coat. I have Wolverine everything! This year, I even had a little more fun packing thanks to my new Knack Packing Cubes that kept my Maize and Blue layers organized in neat sections.
The main event for this trip to Ann Arbor was the Parents’ Weekend football tailgate I hosted at our daughter’s house (yes, she did become the favorite child by picking Michigan for college). It’s her senior year and, after 3 years, we finally had a great big front porch located two blocks from the football stadium. Perfect for a proper football tailgate! Since it is her last year, I was committed to putting on a kickass Michigan tailgate and thank god for my Blue Knack backpack, which enabled me to stow some tailgate standbys from home and “borrow” a key item from our hotel room (more on that later).
As a seasoned veteran of tons of football tailgates across the Big Ten, I think I’ve become a bit of an expert on what makes a great tailgate.
So here are my top 10 things you need for a great gameday tailgate:
- Beverages: We went with Bloody Marys with all the trimmings, Mimosas, beer, hard seltzers, and, of course, water for hydration purposes.
- Sustenance: We liked bagels and cream cheese because it was a noon game but the delivery of warm Chick-fil-A went over really well too! Apparently, you can start picking up fried chicken at 7:30 am on game days in Ann Arbor…… who knew?
- Music: My daughter and her friends “secured” a fraternity speaker which added some beat-pumping bass to their terrific gameday playlist.
- Themed Deco: “Go Blue” banners and Michigan tablecloths, napkins and plates set a festive mood.
- Ice Bucket & Ice: Keep it all cold and the drinks refreshed.
- Coolers: See above!
- Tables: Two collapsible tables are key - one for food, one for the bar.
- Wine/Beer openers: Wedding rings only go so far for opening beer bottles (just ask my husband).
- Garbage Bags: Can’t leave the place a mess lest the Ann Arbor police issue you a pricey ticket.
- A Great Crowd: It goes without saying that the Wolverines bring the spirit on game day.
As I mentioned, I used my Knack bag to bring a few things on the list from home. I had put in a tailgate order from Amazon for U of M tablecloths, banners, napkins, plates, etc so I utilized my Knack’s expandable compartment to store all of that to take with me on the plane (I wouldn’t even think of checking such important items!). With all the details of planning a perfect tailgate on my mind, I didn’t realize until game day morning I had forgotten an ice bucket for drink ice. I was in an absolute panic until I looked across my hotel room and noticed a perfectly-designed Maize and Blue ice bucket. I was confident that the hotel would surely never miss it for a few hours and, wouldn’t you know, my Knack bag became the perfect accomplice for my “borrowing” plan, allowing me to exit the Michigan League discreetly with my new ice bucket safely inside. The newly liberated ice bucket served our tailgate quite well and I returned it to my room later that day completely unharmed.
I had an incredible time with our daughter, her friends, and their families at the tailgate and saw the Wolverines hold off a feisty Maryland team for a big win. Needless to say, I was a bit tired by Saturday night, but my daughter had a surprise plan for me Sunday morning and, unbeknownst to me, my Knack would play an integral role in this football tailgate weekend yet again.
Before my trip, my daughter had signed up for a half marathon and requested I do a 10-mile training run with her Sunday morning to “practice” the big hill at mile 10 of her race. I wasn’t quite sure if she wanted to kill me for my past sins, but I figured, why not, I’ll give it a go. We ran hard for 10 miles — she slowed her pace by a minute and I increased mine by a minute to meet in the middle for a really hard, hilly 90 minutes. The long run coupled with light rain resulted in some pretty sweaty gear (I know, TMI, but that’s the stinky truth of the matter). Laundry at her house is assigned by day and, since it wasn’t her day, I had no option for a pre-flight speed wash. I was very, very, very thankful for my Knack laundry bag which I used to segregate my workout gear from my prized Wolverine wear for the journey home. Knack to the rescue again! (which, honestly, pains me a little to write because I understand that the Knack founder is a misguided Ohio State fan).
We’ll be back in Ann Arbor for one more game this fall and I’m excited to bring my Knack bag and all my treasured Knack accessories to keep this Wolverine gal game day ready. Go Blue!