It’s that time of year– let the holiday family, fun, cooking, and traveling begin! I always look forward to the holidays for several reasons, one of which is time spent with family. Another is time spent with friends. Every holiday break, my college girlfriends and I meet for brunch to catch up. It is particularly special as it is one of the few times of the year that we are able to see a friend who grew up in Michigan and is currently living in England with her husband and children. She also spent three years in Norway. She and her family typically come home at Christmastime and in the summer for a few weeks. Meet Katie. I’m embarrassed that this is my first time asking these questions but am excited that she agreed to let me share her insights with you…Continue reading Thanksgiving: At Home and Abroad
“Food matters because it’s one of the things that forces us to live in this world– this tactile, physical, messy and beautiful world– no matter how hard we try to escape into our minds and our ideals. Food is a reminder of our humanity, our fragility, our createdness.” Shauna Niequest, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes.
New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, but there is so much more to this charming southern city. From historic hotels, to trendy restaurants, and hole-in-the-wall bookstores, this city has much more to offer than red punch drinks and all-night parties. This was our second trip to New Orleans. We stayed in the downtown area, although we couldn’t help but revisit some of our favorites in the French Quarter.Continue reading What to do in New Orleans
Hi there! I hope that you all had a great week and are ready for a nice weekend. We will be doing some more renovations, taking care of a pesky woodpecker situation (that’s right, there is currently a woodpecker drilling and making a nest in the side of the cabin), and getting ready to leave for another trip next month (if you have any restaurant suggestions for New Orleans, I’d love them!). I’m super excited about all of my “finds” this week and hope that you find them helpful as well.
The first is TripIt. TripIt is an app that allows you to store all information for a trip in one place. All you do is download the app, sign in, etc. Then, when you receive confirmation emails about your trip, you just forward it to TripIt (there is a specific email address) and it adds your info to the trip timeline. So, instead of searching through your emails when at the airport and hotel for the confirmation numbers, you simply open the app and all of your information is in one place. Great for planners and non planners alike!
The second “find” is from my neighbor and will most definitely be going on my Christmas list and then in my suitcase for all winter travel. These slippers are ingenious. Aside from just looking like very cozy slippers, they also have detachable soles. For those of us with detached garages/permanent outside trash bins, this seems like a perfect combination. And when traveling for long flights… can you imagine?
The third is soup. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s about that time of year when you come home and freeze on the walk from the terminal to your car. And when I’m freezing, I crave soup. Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower Cheese Soup from this cookbook hits the spot every time. Simple and luxurious at the same time- it’s how I like my food and how I like my travel 😉
The final “find” is a good one and piggy backs off of this post. It’s another kid-friendly road trip game that a friend shared with me. I love it because it allows for differentiation when you have children of multiple age/developmental levels. First, you can start with a little variation of I Spy with someone describing an animal and the others guessing which animal that person is thinking about. This can then turn into a game of naming as many animals as you can for each letter (the older kids can write them down and the younger kids can name the animals); for those who like a little competition, it is fun to see which letter has the most animals at the end of the game.
And there you have it! Just some more Friday Finds on Mackinaw Road.
Our recent trip to California led to much time in the car, admiring the stunning central coast, and a lot of humming of California songs…
Reminiscent of a much earlier time, Monterey boasts beautiful homes, gorgeous views, and a significant history. Back in the early 1900’s, Monterey was less of a tourist stop and more of a fishing and canning town. In fact, at one time, it was considered to be the sardine capital of the world. Just walk up Cannery Row and you will see street art reminiscent of a time past. But it isn’t just the street art, Cannery Row itself seems to be of an earlier era, sprinkled with plaques and quotes from John Steinbeck’s well-known Cannery Row. It is certainly a place that a history and/or literary buff could lose herself.Continue reading What to do in Monterey, California
I am so excited about this collaboration post! I have once again been fortunate enough to team with Kate Bolt from Living Lark – this time to share her latest summer drinks. We both recently took road trips with our families out east, so these East Coast Cocktails seemed like a fitting match.Continue reading East Coast Cocktails
Welcome back to my randomness… with Friday Finds, Take 2….Hope you all had a great week! We made it to almost-Friady. Yay! And I made it through February without a broken bone- double Yay! Our only February hick-up was that our dog ate sand at the beach and had to spend the night at the Emergency Animal Hospital. Fortunately, he is back to his crazy, jumping, kissing 10-year old self.
Donkey Taqueria- If you are visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan, or live within an hour radius of Grand Rapids, this restaurant is a must. It is my favorite restaurant. So much so that I always have fabulous intentions of trying one of the new eateries that keep popping up around the city but just cannot tear myself away from Donkey. I love being guaranteed great service, a delicious Paloma, and top-notch food. Every. Single. Time. Making it feel even more special is the fact that it forces you to just relax. You cannot call ahead (there isn’t a listed phone number), making you come to terms with the fact that you are just going to have to show up and go with the flow. If the wait is too long, we have always had good luck going across the street to Winchester for a pre-dinner drink. Donkey will just text you when your table is ready.
Lee and Birch– Looking for a different activity while you wait for your table? Just head up the street to Lee and Birch. I went in to just “check it out” and pretty much could have seen myself in all of the clothes in the store. It is small, which feels cozy and not too overwhelming. The sales people are pretty chill, helpfulbut not at all pushy.
Zing Zangs- This is an oldie but goodie. One of my brothers-in-law is our designated Bloody Mary guy and this is a favorite. Whenever he and my sister-in-law ask what they can bring, I always want them to bring the Bloody Mary’s. He did, however, share his secret, so now we can all make delicious Bloody’s. Zing Zangs has just the right amount of spice and thickness. It’s as much a staple at our family gatherings as ice cream cake, maybe even more so!
Barre 3 via You Tube-With all of this eating and drinking going on, I thought it only “fitting” that I throw in a workout too. I just discovered this tonight, and it is great! It is perfect for when, say, your stairclimber is covered in plastic and every item in your storage room is now in the family hangout room because you had/have a “vision” for your laundry/mudroom (insert teeth-clenched emoji here). Moving on… the You Tube sequence is about 40 minutes long and would actually be perfect for when you are traveling too (there are small weights involved, but, let’s be honest, I’m not using those at home either). I really found the instructors to be encouraging and saying everything I needed to hear throughout the workout. The sequences are really easy to follow, and since repetition is key, it’s fairly easy to stay on track.
Well, there you have it, my barely-travel-related Friday Finds. I’ll be back next week with the Island Interviews Series. You may have also noticed all of the beautiful beaches lately on my Instagram account.. stay tuned, a related post is coming next week too.
**I have no more fun ways to say this, so just know… this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may be compensated. Thank you!
Someone recently posed the question… What would you do in your city if it was your last 24 hours there? Good question. First, I would cry… because I really do love where I live. Second, I would be all over West Michigan because it would be too difficult to stay in one city, and, with the ease of travel here, why not? Third, how has this not been a dinner conversation topic before? Move over crazy toddler stories, there’s a new topic in town.
I would begin my day with a nice jog around Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids. Waking up to perfectly aligned swans and a gorgeous sunrise? Yes please.
Fortunately, the purpose of that run would be more for scenery than good health because I would then head straight to D’arts Donuts in Eastown for a beignet and to-go of Madcap coffee.
After a 40 minute drive to Holland, I would head out to the Big Red Lighthouse and pier to watch boats going out for the day.
Because it is difficult to leave the lake on a beautiful day, Saugatuck State Park would be next on the list for a hike through the woods and a beach walk.
I’d finish with lunch at New Holland Pub on 8th and a stroll through downtown Holland.
Back in Grand Rapids, I would stop by the GRAM (Grand Rapids Art Museum) because it is the one place I keep meaning to get to and haven’t.
Dinner would most definitely be at Donkey Taqueria…
Followed by an outdoor concert at Fredrick Meijer Gardens.
And back to the lakeshore for a sunset.
So, apparently, I would really just want to eat a lot and be by some of the lakes that make Michigan such a great state in my last 24 hours in West Michigan. Oh, and the remainder of the evening and into the night would be spent with family and friends talking, planning, and reflecting on this porch…
Now, I’d love to hear from you… What are your must-sees and must-dos in your home city?
*Please excuse the multitude of seasons in the photographs… but now you have an idea of the ever-changing weather of Michigan!
**This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!
‘Tis the Season for amazing drinks. The cocktail blog Lark has generously agreed to share drink recipes specific to the regions I have visited over the holiday seasons. Keep reading to find out what they are and be sure to save the recipes- they are delicious. All the drinks @livinglark are made in gallon batches — perfect for holiday crowds!
The first place I asked for a recipe from was Spain. Many, many moons ago when my husband and I were about 24 years old and in graduate school, his family asked me to go with them to Spain over the holidays to pick up his middle sister who had been studying there for the semester. I hemmed and hawed and called my parents a million times because, I mean, SPAIN, but also I didn’t want to miss our traditional holidays together either. A few days later my parents called me and told me they and my brother had just purchased tickets to Spain and were coming too!!! As we look back on it, my husband and I are always amazed that our families traveled together halfway across the world before we were married or even engaged, but at the time, it seemed to make perfect sense.
Check out Lark’s Late Red Autumn Sangria (because what is more SPAIN to us than Sangria?) here
And then we got married and apparently had no problem spending Christmas in an airport away from both of our families. Just kidding. We, of course, missed them, but with new work schedules, Christmas just seemed allow the extended time to travel. For our honeymoon (so, we really should get a free pass on that one), we traveled to St. Kitts. Later, but still pre-kiddos, we traveled to Aruba.
There are so many great Caribbean drinks to choose from, but Lark chose this one from a holiday she had in Puerto Rico, and it is fabulous!
Serves 20(in a 10 oz. rocks glass filled halfway with ice)
This is made with honey and ginger — a true tangent from the original Rum Punches but quite lovely! This one is reminiscent of our time in Puerto Rico watching major surf (too large for beginners like us!)
4 c water
2 c honey
8 inches fresh ginger (a lot!)
3 c lime juice (I prefer Nellie & Joe’s famous Key West)
2 c orange juice, pulp free
5 c white rum
2 limes, sliced
1 small jar Maraschino cherries, optional
Prep ingredients in a clean gallon jug.
Make a honey simple syrup: Whiz up one cup water, two cups honey, and the chopped ginger in a Vitamix or blender until ginger is minced (don’t put the setting on high because it will overflow). In a small saucepan, add blender mix to 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir a bit over low heat for 5 minutes until it just begins to rumble to a good boil. Strain the syrup with a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing ginger with the back of a spoon to obtain all the flavor possible. Transfer ginger mix into a gallon jug using a funnel.
Stir in 3 cups lime juice, 2 cups orange juice, & 5 cups rum. Refrigerate until serving. Toss lime wedges into serving pitcher, fill with the PUNCH and keep ice on the side for guests to add to individual rocks glasses.
Optional: drain cherries and add to pitcher just before serving. This won’t add much flavor but make the drink just like the tiki bars all over the Caribbean.
And then we had children and apparently had no problem leaving them at Christmastime either. Ha! I had major panic about leaving them. So much so that we booked a later flight so that we could be with them on Christmas Eve and in the morning for stockings. After all the tissue paper was cleaned up, my husband and I headed for India. Now, I feel like we had a pretty good excuse for this trip too since we were going to my youngest sister-in-law’s wedding reception and visiting my husband’s grandmother. One of our favorite times in India was “Chai Time.” Here’s the thing, though, every time you walked
through the door, it was Chai Time. Luckily, the Chai was delicious and so is the recipe (far from what we drank in India but with the same Chai flavors!) of Late Autumn Chai Sangria made with white wine.
To check out more Holiday Drinks like the French 75en masse (today’s post on Lark) or Holly Brunch Cocktail, head over to Lark and get some ideas for New Year’s Day brunch — and discuss at brunch where you dream to travel next!
*Please note that some links may be affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!