Happy Labor Day!

Cheers to the bridge walkers through out Michigan today… Whether it’s the Mighty Mackinac Bridge, or the Aarwood Bridge… It’s been a great day! Photo credit:. Becky Shepherd… September 3, 2018. Aarwood Bridge, Rapid City, Michigan.

Embrace the season change!

Ugh… it happened this weekend.  I got that feeling… that rainy day, cooler temperatures, stay at home and watch movies and do laundry all day feeling!  Fall is sneaking up on me.  I know its right around the corner, because it keeps reminding me in the most obvious ways.

Leaves are turning colors…  it’s raining more often than it has in the past month…  the outside temperatures are slowing falling.  I need a sweatshirt when I sit outside at the campground.   So now I have to admit it!  I love the fall colors.  I love sweater weather (but I love summertime more).  I love staying home and feeling cozy, padding around in my kitchen creating warm delicious dishes in my crock pot.

So guess what…  I’ve decided that I’m going to enjoy this weekend of summer weather, and then focus on the beauty of Autumn in Northern Michigan.

Things to do in Northern Michigan during Autumn…

  1. Winery/Brewery tour.  Anywhere you go in Northern Michigan, there’s a wide selection of craft brews and spirits.  Old Mission Peninsula, Leelanau County, and The Chain of Lakes region from Elk Rapids through Bellaire are wonderful areas to taste your favorites AND enjoy some of the most incredible views of the fall colors.
  2. Don’t put that boat away just yet!  Color tours via water are amazing.  One of my favorite fall cruises is from Torch River through the Chain of Lakes into the Intermediate River to visit the quaint town of Bellaire.  Colors generally peak the first two weeks of October, and USUALLY the weather is good enough to throw on a light jacket for the day trip.  The trip is an annual favorite for locals too!
  3. Visit some “Foodie Towns”…  Traverse City has tons of restaurants of all cuisine’s…  it’s becoming a good place to visit for a variety of dining experiences.  But I do have a few favorites outside of T.C.  A few of my favorite towns that are just a short drive from Traverse City, are Glen Arbor, Elk Rapids, Boyne City, Charlevoix, Northport, Leland, and Petoskey, just to name a few.   If you get out an explore these towns you will find great dining options like, Art’s Tavern, Pearl’s New Orlean’s Kitchen, Stafford’s Weathervane, Cafe’ Sante, Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern, and the Cove.
  4. Get out and enjoy outside… Yes… there I said it!  We all need that fresh air and exercise.  We have bike/walking/hiking trails everywhere in Northern Michigan.  Personally, I can’t wait until the TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trail) trail extends towards Elk Rapids!
  5. Camping… there are so many great places to camp around here!  There’s nothing like a great campfire and roasting s’mores.  It’s not just for summertime, afterall.  Timber Ridge Campground in Traverse City offers year round sites and cabins.  My summer experience at Torch Grove Campground in the Torch Lake area this summer has lead me to make some new wonderful friendships that made my summer the best, so why not keep on camping until the snow flakes fall?  Check out some of the best campgrounds in the area at https://mynorth.com/2017/07/10-best-northern-michigan-campgrounds/.

So, don’t just hibernate until next spring… get out there and enjoy our beautiful spot in this world!  Enjoy those vibrant colors…IMG_1805

 

Since travel restrictions to Cuba loosened in 2016, Havana and other Cuban ports of call have opened up to cruise ships carrying Americans like never before. But tighter regulations under the Trump Administration continue to blur the fine print when it comes to how Americans can visit this once-forbidden island nation. We just returned from a five-night […]

via Cruising to Cuba Right Now: What to Know & Why to Go — The Cuban Window

Another good dining establishment! Blue Water Bistro and Pizzeria, Alden, MI

Last week, Alden got an addition to its already wonderful cast of businesses.  The Blue Water Bistro and Pizzeria, (formerly Poma’s Pizza, and way back Sonny’s Pizza) opened last Friday night with  good reviews from the locals.

So, OF COURSE, Saturday night we had to venture over for a taste.  The new restaurant has a few bugs they are actively working out, but overall, I think its going to be a hit!

First off, they have a full bar with a nice selection of wine and beers, including some great local craft beers.  Of course, my refreshing favorite choice:  Tito’s and Soda with Orange slices served tall in a jar mug.  img_6562

My favorite part of the evening, was the small plates that were served.  There were five of us at the table, so we ordered a little of everything to sample.

  • Flaming Cheese and Bread…  This is a must have!!!  Tequila lime flamed at tableside… this is a gooey fantastic treat to start with.  I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s on the menu as “Blue Water Cheese Bread”… Don’t miss out!
  • Hot Wings…  These were nicely done as well.   They were just spicy enough to be perfectly flavorful.
  • Bruschetta…  Always one of my favorites where ever I go.  This place does it up very nicely!  Very fresh and flavorable… those are the words I choose to describe this selection.
  • Drunken Mushrooms…  Marinated in a wine/garlic sauce.  Good on its own… great if you add a little of the flaming cheese on top! (Just our tables experimentation… )
  • Shrimp Scampi Fritta…  OK, so I cant review this one, because of my severe seafood allergy.  But it certainly looked good.

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Oh… and did I mention the amazing bread plate that showed up before dinner?  No words needed… just enjoy the picture.  #honeybutter #yumyum

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Then dinner was served…

  • Three of us ordered the Blue Water Trio, which included an Olive Garden type combination of Lasagna, Fettucine Alfredo, and Chicken Parmesan.  The Lasagna was good… the Chicken Parmesan was OK (but it’s not always a favorite of mine anyway)…  The alfredo sauce on the fettuccine was delicious, but I wish there would have been more sauce.  The fettucine was sadly lacking moisture.  Overall, it’s an OK choice, but next time I’d try something different.
  • Another diner ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese…  I heard a few yummy noises being made across the table over this one, so I’d say it was a hit.
  • The almond crusted scallops on a bed of linguine with white wine sauce was another choice at our table.  It looked tasty to me, and I didn’t hear any complaints, so I’d say it’s a keeper on this menu

Next time, I’d love to try the Steak Gorgonzola…  Yes, there will be a next time.

Oh… I cannot forget to mention the wonderful Creme’ Brule’ for dessert… Simply delish!  It was a perfect finish to our meal…  And we all left with full happy bellies.

One last note on the atmosphere of the place… I love the garage doors on the front of the building for outside dining and cocktailing in the summer months.  The place was packed Saturday night, so the tables inside seemed a bit crowded together.  The high top tables were super cool looking, but seemed a bit over tall for a few shorter people in our group.

Of course, keeping in mind that the restaurant just opened, they do have a few service and kitchen issues to work out over time.  But I really have confidence that this place is going to be a big hit in the Torch Lake area.  I will definitely go back!

Check out the rest of their wonderful menu at www.torchlakepizza.com!

 

 

Summer is here… and Torch Lake is back in full swing!

Yes…  It’s memorial weekend.  The weather is amazing here in Northern Michigan, at last!  The boats, yes…  the boats are ready to be in the water zipping around the lake and loafing on the sand bar at the south end.  It’s good to be a Michigander this weekend, especially if you own a boat!

7583841840_img_0308The water is a bit cold, but it sure doesn’t stop anyone from dipping their toes in to see if they can handle the ice cream headache that may result!  (Sparty on friends, Sparty on!)

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I personally just love days like these!  The water is so clear and clean… and did I mention COLD????  The air temperature was a solid 85 degrees. They tell me the water is 60 degrees, but my feet completely disagree!  Still… This place is the best place to be.

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A cruise up the river was a nice break from the crowd.  Happily, this natural piece of artwork on Torch River has survived yet another winter!  It’s a favorite of mine.

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Swanny even tried to pay us a visit to see if we had extra crackers on board.  Sorry buddy, no crackers for you!

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Days like today, it gets so hot cruising the river, you just have to stop off for a dip before you head on under the bridge.

… and we get an additional day of this!

Happy Memorial Weekend to all…  Take time to remember all the veterans who gave their lives so that we can enjoy weekends like this.

 

BBQ Ribs… I forgot how much I love them!

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a propane grill…  so BBQ isn’t always a staple around my house.  So this weekend, I broke out the ol’ charcoal grill with some applewood smoke charcoal and did up some delicious fall off the bone ribs.  So good, simple, and absolutely delicious!  So… here’s my not-so-secret recipe!

1 rack of ribs (Pork or beef… depending on your personal preference)

1 12 oz. can of beer

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Alden Mill House Chef’s Pork & Poultry Seasoning (www.aldenmillhouse.com)

Sweet Baby Ray’s Vidalia BBQ Sauce (or whatever your favorite sauce may be!)

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.

In a 9×12 baking pan pour in the can of beer.

Prepare ribs by rubbing them with olive oil, and Pork and Poultry seasoning.  Then add them to the baking pan.

Bake covered for 2 1/2 hours.

Next, prep the charcoal on your favorite grill.  Get it good and hot!  🙂

Once you take the ribs out of the oven, transfer them over to the charcoal grill, and baste with BBQ sauce.  Let them grill for about 5 minutes on each side to maximize the flavor.  (Baste the ribs on both sides, of course…)

The ribs will be falling of the bone…  Serve them with your favorite summer picnic sides, like broccoli Salad and potato salad!  They will disappear fast once they hit the table, so if you intend to take a picture be quick about it!  (Yep… I didn’t catch a picture of the goodness on the table this time!)

ENJOY!  Happy BBQ season!

My first drone adventure…

Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten…  if you think you are interested in operating a drone, buy a $30.00 one first!

My original intent was to share beautiful drone footage out and around Northern Michigan.  So I followed the advice I got from my real estate continuing education, and got a $30.00 drone (A Syma X5C) with a little camera on it, just to practice with.  It’s light and pretty much indestructible.  BUT…  then you turn it on, and put that baby into motion, and wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…  away it goes!  Quickly, I got it under control, and practice turns and forward backward motions…  Then the wind picked up, and carried it into… THE REALLY DEEP SNOW!   Crash!   I look down at my feet, and decided to go retrieve it, as fast as my flip flops could carry me.   Crunch crunch crunch… all the way to the little toy and back…  I suffered a bit of an ice cream headache by the time I got back to dry land!

Try #2…  This time I fired it up just a little more slowly, thinking I had better control of it.  The higher it went, the faster it zipped around, until ZINGGGGGGGGG….  It crashed into my roof…  at which point I pulled my ladder out of the garage and retrieved it off the roof.   Pretty nice view from up there!

At that point, I decided to wait a day, let the poor thing rest, and try again tomorrow.

So I got home from work last night, did a few chores around the house… and then decided to go back out and give it another whirl.

It was going pretty well, and I was getting more confidence in controlling the little quad copter, so I decided to go a bit higher.  Yes, the wind caught it once again, and wizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….. away it went, so I tried to circle it back towards me, and CRASH…  right into a group of trees!  So I crunched my way back through the knee deep snow to see where it landed.

It didn’t land on the ground!  I looked up at this tall pine, as I hit the control switch… wizzzzz…. there it was, stuck way up high in the branches.  Wizzzzzz wizzzz whizzz…..  It wasn’t moving an inch!  So I tried the ol’ shake the tree trick, with no luck.

So my poor little $30.00 drone spent the night (and probably the rest of its life) about 30 foot up in a tree.  Glad I didn’t buy a $500.00 drone right out of the gate!

Next purchase… a chain saw!  (Just kidding!)

 

Out of Blog Practice! Time to Review another favorite.. McGee’s 72 in Acme, MI

Most Friday’s I don’t feel like cooking… so what’s a girl to do, but cruise on down M-72 to her favorite Friday night happy hour spot.  Namely, McGee’s 72 in Acme, MI!

What’s so great about this place?

  1.  The bartenders…  once they see you, they do remember what your favorite is…  even after just one visit!  Oh, and did I tell you about the “sister bartenders” Hannah and Rebecca?  Pure jolly happy entertainment… always guaranteed to make you laugh.  Make sure you ask them about “Pancakes”.  🙂  Yes, ladies, tonight I will be having my favorite cocktail, Tito’s, Soda, with an Orange Slice, TALL…  🙂  Usually, they are mixing my drink as I walk in the door.  img_6368
  2. The steakburgers are THE BEST!  When you want one, you want one! What’s this blue cheese crusted option???   Medium Rare, please!  Oh… and add those great duck fried truffle fries to cure my carb craving!
  3. Location…  They are located right next to the Grand Traverse Resort.  Dinner on the patio means a great view of one beautiful Jack Nicklaus course!  … and of course, a few novice golfers searching the ponds for that ball that took a wrong turn.
  4. The Chef’s…  These guys come up with some amazing dishes, especially for Sunday Brunches.  It’s a great place to take the family for a wonderful afternoon gathering.  Try a steak (blue cheese crusted of course), or Pulled Pork BBQ/Mac N Cheese combo!
  5. The Locals… sit on the bar side, instead of getting a table for a true local feel of the area.  It’s a favorite local hangout, especially if there’s a good game on!  Large screen TV’s are located throughout “Matty’s Place” so you can get the best view of your favorite team.  So whether you are “Go Green, Go White”, or “Maize and Blue”, chances are, your fellow sports fans are right there with you.  Get to know the locals for lifelong friendships.

Want to check out more about this place?  Check them out at www.mcgees72.com.

… or just get in your car and  check them out in person!

Happy Friday… I think Spring is finally here to stay!