Road Trip to Michigan

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Wow, where do I begin? 6 days in Michigan with my husband and 4 (soon to be 5) year old son. I love reading blogs about other people’s travel experiences so I’m sharing our story and adventure! This was the other side of Lake Michigan for us, the west side of the state. We live in Chicago and go to the beach, see Lake Michigan all the time… but not like this. Honestly, I need to pinch myself because it all seemed like a dream….

We did so many fun things and we all had a blast!  Looking back at pictures, it seriously doesn’t seem real or like we were somewhere else…. more than just a 5 hour drive from home. Let me begin by saying I LOVE to travel and see other parts of the country and world and to do it now, in my 30’s with a son is the best ever. As a child, we went on a lot of vacations. I was fortunate to experience many airplane rides because my dad was a US Air mechanic and we spent a lot of hours in airports. I loved it. It’s what I knew. We also drove to places as well. It’s fun! And I’m fortunate now to have a kid who is SO GOOD in the car (thank the Lord!)! Seriously, when his time is up on his tablet he’ll either sleep or just sit there and look out the window.

I’m not trying to brag. I’m really not. Kids, and people in general, do not need much. I’m such a minimalist and realized at a young age how little we need to survive. And I think that’s why I enjoy traveling so much. Even just going to the beach. We need a towel, a few toys, water, snacks. Done. No need to bring your entire garage. Half the time your kids won’t play with what you brought. Chairs? You sit in a chair every day. Sit in the sand! The same goes with taking a vacation. If you forget something, who cares! Chances are you don’t really need it, or you can find a store and buy it when you get to your destination.

Ok, enough chit chat. Let me begin our Michigan adventure. Here we are, car packed ready to go!

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We even brought our bikes! Our first stop was Traverse City. We rented a little cottage through Airbnb for 3 nights. For us, this was a 5 hour drive. We stopped once to eat lunch at a Burger King.

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Island View Cottages is where we stayed and I highly recommend if you are ever in TC. We had a kitchen, our own room, Liam slept in a pull-out couch and the property has it’s own private beach! Literally, our cottage was 15 steps to the beach. I was in love!!

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Beautiful, clear water. Nothing can beat it.

The first day we were here we did a 2 hour canoe ride at Riverside Canoe Trips. The night before we went to Meijer and got breakfast and lunch food. We brought a picnic lunch and had a great time!

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After our canoe trip we drove to Glen Arbor with our bikes. Here, we did an 18 mile, HILLY bike ride. I was so mad at Ferro (my husband) for picking the route. I swore at him  a few times which is very unlike me. But when we got back to our car, I was glad! It was hard, yes, and we kept going and saw some beautiful sights that not everyone gets to experience.

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And let me say this now. None of these pictures do this trip justice. These are all taken with my iPhone 7 and this hill just above… holy cow! The hills up were SO hard and the hills down, I thought my brakes were going to go out! But it was fun and I thank my husband for being the biker in this relationship and making me do it 🙂

The next day we kept open to relax…. well, relax for us. We visited the Traverse City Commons and went on a little hike.

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Ferro took some really good family pictures with his DSLR and we got to enjoy some nature. We then had lunch at Spanglish, a restaurant I recommend if you like tacos (I mean, who doesn’t?!).

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It’s right next door to Barefoot Charlie Winery. Oh, come on, you didn’t think I’d go to Michigan and not go to a wine tasting, did you? And yes, Liam was with us the entire time. They even gave him a juice box and crayons and a page to color. Bring the kids! They will accommodate you.

When we got back to the cottage we ate leftovers for dinner and made s’mores on the beach. Definitely my favorite night of the entire trip.

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I mean, a glass of wine in hand, fire blazing, toes in the sand? There is nothing else I want in life. Besides world peace.

The next day we had to pack up our stuff and hit the road to our next destination- Charlevoix. But first… let’s check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes. It’s about a 45 minute drive from TC and $15 for the pass that you need to display in your car. Done.

And… leave it to us to pack a lunch, climb down the dunes, eat, and climb back up, disreguarding the warning signs posted at the top saying that it may take you 2 hours to get back up. Well… We did it in 25 minutes! That’s right, all 3 of us, Liam too and he didn’t cry or whine! Hallelujah!

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But that view? Come on! How can you not go down there?! Side note: We are a very fit and physical family. They have the signs for a reason so please be careful! However, if you do decide to climb the dunes, I recommend going barefoot and using your legs and not doing the zombie crawl like you will see most people doing.

After that, we hit the road again to our next Airbnb in Boyne City, just outside of Charlevoix. Here, we really only had 1 full day. We drove and took a ferry to a place called Castle Farms. It’s a beautiful place where you can walk the grounds yourself. We fed ducks and fish and had a picnic lunch. They have an awesome train set up that of course Liam loved! It was very neat and we all enjoyed ourselves.img_7693

After we explored Castle Farms for a couple hours, we drove to Michigan Beach. It was a bit too chilly for us to go in the water but it was still a beautiful day to swing on the swings, go down the slide and see the lighthouse!

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We then drove back to Boyne City and the boys fished (with no luck) and we enjoyed our last evening relaxing, by the water, having dinner and getting ice cream!

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On our drive home, we stopped at a Jimmy Johns in Grand Rapids. Another awesome city to drive through and stop quick if you are ever near there. And then we made it home! Seriously, the worst part of travel is packing, then unpacking and having to do 3 loads of laundry. But who cares! Obviously it’s totally worth it.

So I hope you enjoyed reading about our Michigan journey 🙂 Please leave comments about your experiences or questions if you are planning on a trip there yourself!

Take care, and enjoy life!

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Gingerbread Play Dough

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Attention all parents, nannies, and just anyone who loves play dough! Make this over winter break. I repeat: make this over winter break! It’s so easy, super fun, and smells delicious! You probably already have all the ingredients on hand and it’s hours of fun for your little ones (or you). Liam made this at school and his teacher gave him the recipe to make at home.

Here he is having a blast rolling it out…

We had a ton of fun playing with it, probably a good hour!

A while back we made regular play dough which was also fun. There’s just something about making “Christmas” play dough that’s special 🙂 So here’s what you need:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Mix in a bowl and knead until smooth. Have fun! Store in a ziplock bag.

St. Patrick’s Day Fun

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As a stay at home mom I feel I need to do something fun and creative for all holidays. Yes, it’s so stressful and I hate doing crafts. So, then why do I do it?! Because seeing my little guys eyes light up in wonder is the best. As a parent, we are the magic makers. And as a baker I always like to try new things. Being creative is great and it helps pass the long days. So here are some things I did this St. Patrick’s day. Let me know your ideas and if these are helpful to you!

First, I made green chocolate chip cookies. Super easy, just add a few drops of green food coloring to your cookie dough.

Next, we made these leprechaun binoculars! They are made from toilet paper rolls and construction paper. Really easy but also really tedious. I was going to make 5 for all of Liam’s friends. But… I made 2 and was done!

Here are the supplies I used. It was easier to use Elmer’s glue than a glue stick in my opinion. Or you can use tape.

The binoculars are to see and find leprechauns! I printed out these cute little guys,


colored them without Liam knowing, and then used painters tape to stick them around the house so he had to find them in the morning! So fun. I also colored the toilet water green and told Liam that the leprechaun had to use the bathroom and didn’t flush 🙂


We had some friends over to share in our festivities and we had a blast!

Don’t worry, the bubbly was for the moms 😉

 

Ice Surprise Eggs

What is with this surprise egg obsession? If you have a toddler in your life, you probably know what I’m talking about. If not, just search “surprise eggs” on YouTube and you will see. Millions upon millions of views on videos of people opening eggs, plastic or chocolate, with toys or candy inside. So, I decided to do something different for my little guy. I went to the dollar store and picked up some balloons and cheap toys.

I put the toys inside the balloons.

Then, I filled the balloons with water…

Put the balloons in the freezer overnight and…

Tada! Ice surprise eggs 🙂 Really fun and inexpensive and the perfect thing to do on a hot summer day.  

Here’s Liam excited to melt or “open” the eggs!

      

It was fun, but hard to get the toys in the balloons. Definitely would help to have 2 people. My suggestion is to fill the balloons after your kids go to bed so they are ready by the morning. And once they are frozen, the balloon comes right off, you just need scissors. Have fun with it! Fill with new toys, or old ones, make them big or small. You really can’t go wrong and kids love surprises!

Homemade Bath Paint

My 2 year LOVES the water. Swimming, bath time, running through sprinklers, you name it, if he can get wet, he’s in. At bath time, he will stay in there for…ev….er. So I needed something for him to do besides splash water all over the place. I’ve seen homemade bath paints before, mainly Pinterest, and finally decided to give it a try. In this post I will do my best to explain everything I did so you can try it, too!

Oh, and this activity is also good for those kids who hate bath time. Now maybe they will enjoy it…? Always worth a try.

Ok, here we go:

What you will need:

1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup baby wash/shampoo
Food coloring
Paint brushes
Some type of bowls/ tin to hold the paint. I used a muffin tin. It worked great to separate the colors.

Feel free to double this recipe, but I found it was enough. I made three colors but could have easily made 4.

In a bowl, mix together the corn starch and soap until smooth. Divide into bowls or tin, however many colors you want to use. Stir in for coloring until you get desired colors. Super easy. Paint away!

I was worried about the food coloring staining my bathtub but it comes right off.

Here are some pictures of my little guy having fun!

      

Will I do this every bath time? Hell no! Too much mess and it uses too much soap. But it was really fun. My guy had a blast! I think he was in there for almost an hour. Pruney hands and feet!

So, try it out and have fun with it 🙂

 

Easy Homemade Play-Doh

Sorry guys, this is an un-edible recipe. Well, I guess you COULD eat this, but it would be nasty :p Liam got Play-Doh for Christmas and at first I was like, “great, now our carpet and floors will be ruined!” But I got over that thought pretty quickly because Play-Doh is so fun! My son will play with it for hours, as he has been while I wrote this post 🙂

We got 3 colors; blue, red and yellow. For some reason I wanted to try to make our own. The days are long. I hate winter. Why not?! Liam wanted green, I wanted purple so away we went. I put half of this recipe in one bowl and the other half in another bowl so I could make both colors and not have a ton. So here we go… Let’s go make some Play-Doh!

What you will need:

3 cups flour
3/4 cups salt
3 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Food coloring of your choice

In a large, heatproof bowl, mix flour, salt and cream of tartar. In the hot water, add oil and food coloring, stir, then pour into dry ingredients. Tip: I put the water in a big coffee mug and heated it up in the microwave. Then I added the oil and food coloring to that, stirred and poured over the dry ingredients.

Mix until everything is moistened. Knead for a minute or two (careful, it will be hot!) on a lightly floured surface. Store in an airtight container NOT in the fridge.

Pictures of my son, Liam, playing with our Play-Doh!

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Celebrating 5 Years of Marriage

I can’t believe I’ve been married for 5 years! My husband is awesome, he’s the love of my life, father to our son and provider for our family. Liam spent the night at my parents so we were able to have a night out on the town and not worry about anything! It was long overdue. We had a great time, drank some fantastic cocktails and ate some pretty darn good food. First, I’ll start with what I wore…

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Shirt- Old Navy blouse with little bowties on it!
Jeans- Old Navy black coated Rock Star skinnies
Shoes- BCBG black stiletto booties from DSW
Clutch: LuLu Townsend in gold alligator, also from DSW

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I loved this shirt because it fit me well, was flowy and sexy and the bowties I could not resist! So again, yes, I’m obsessed with Old Navy right now. Go check it out! The clothes are cute, comfy and inexpensive. And no, they are not paying me to promote them 😉

Moving on to food. We had dinner at a place called Gather in Lincoln Square. The picture below is of Whipped Ricotta served with baguette. We ordered this for an appetizer and oh my God! It was so freaking delicious, everytime I took a bite I literally moaned. So, so good.

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For our entrees, I had the Diver Scallops (picture below) and Ferro had the burger which is what they are known for. Everything was so good, I really have no complaints. Their food is all fresh from local farms, which I love. I stuck with wine for dinner and had Pinot Gris which was great, and Ferro had an Old Fashioned and some other drink which I cannot remember. I will definitely return!

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We were really full after dinner so we did not order dessert at Gather. Afterwards, we went to a bar called The Violet Hour. It’s very popular and in the Wicker Park neighborhood. If you are ever in Chicago for the evening, check it out! Great atmosphere and drinks. We did have to wait in line for about 40 minutes, but I’m a chatter box so it didn’t seem like it at all. The picture below is of a Belgium Waffle served with melted Nutella for dipping, sooo good and the perfect dessert! I ordered a Whiskey Smash to drink and Ferro again ordered an Old Fashioned.

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The Violet Hour is somewhat of a speakeasy bar. No sign on the outside, just a mural on the wall with a yellow light above the door that you don’t even know is there. It’s very dark inside, tall ceilings with chandelier lighting and velvet curtains. The mixologists are all well known and are very good at what they do. It is a bit pricey, though, so a good special occasion spot.

Thanks for reading about our night and how we celebrated! I’m sorry if it was boring but I love hearing about good restaurants and new places to try so hopefully you enjoyed 🙂 Peace and love to all! Bye!