Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Last Month, We Went Up North to See the Fall Colors

We went up north to see the fall colors, last month,  although I think we were about a week too early. It was still a good trip. I've talked about Harbor Springs many times before. It's one of my favorite places on earth!  The tiny resort town on Little Traverse Bay is somewhere that I've been going to my entire life.

Originally we would visit in the summer, and then when I was about eleven, my parents bought a vacation home, and we went up as often as possible. Summer was perfect for going to the beach, fall has gorgeous colors. Winter was all about skiing and snowboarding at the local ski resorts and spring....spring is just rainy up there, but it's pretty! My parents, (my Mom and stepfather) sold their vacation home while I was in college. It was pretty upsetting for me because I loved being there so much. I'd go up with friends all of the time, it was my second home. Luckily, my Father and stepmother also purchased a vacation home in Harbor Springs and eventually made it their permanent home. This was after deciding that downtown Chicago wasn't where they wanted to raise my much younger brother. After a couple of moves to Toronto and Los Angeles and a divorce, they are both back in Harbor Springs full time, and also...working together! It's a long story, but in addition to going up for the fall colors, we made the four hour trip north to see my Dad, my stepmother Lauretta, and their newly opened restaurant and bakery!

Heading North! You start to see lots of logging trucks.....

Arriving at Grandpa's cute, little cottage.

Lots to see when we went out for a walk to stretch after the long car ride.

It was so much fun to visit my stepmom Lauretta at her bakery: Small Batch! Yum, you can click on the link above to see more pictures. She's such a wonderful and creative baker. Before this, Lauretta was a shoe designer like my Dad. Baking was always her hobby and she eventually turned it into her full-time job. How cool is that!? :)

My Dad and Lauretta also own a little restaurant in Harbor Springs together. It's called "Small Batch at the Cupola."  I swear, I'm not being biased, it was the most delicious breakfast I've ever had. It was our first time eating there because it just opened this year! I had Lauretta's famous Eggs Benedict dish. It was fantastic, and I LOVE the flash fried chard salad. It was just the most unique texture, the chard melted in my mouth.

Noah taste-tested a new kids' meal for the fall menu: chicken and waffles! The chicken is in a waffle cone and comes with scrambled eggs. Everything has sprinkles on it. Lol. If there is one thing my parents know, it's how to have fun!

I didn't stop to think that Josie might be too upset to stay home alone at my Dad's house, but she was. She was so nervous any time it looked like we were about to leave, so we ended up having to take her out to breakfast and dinner. She had a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs under the table, and then some truffle fries the night before when we went out to another restaurant. Oy!

There's so much to do in Harbor Springs, but this trip was very short and low-key too, which was fine! The balcony at my Dad's provided a lot of entertainment for Noah and Josie....

Pond Hill Farm is a local farm that's open to the public. They have crops and vineyards and an animal barn and a store and restaurant and a brewery and a playground and...and.....We love it!!!

Josie met so many new friends.

A potato catapult!

I know this picture isn't great. I was stuck in the backseat, but I really wanted to get a picture of the famous "Tunnel of Trees!" You basically drive through a winding, twisty, tunnel of trees. It's gorgeous, and before and after the tunnel, the road takes you along a cliff, high about Lake Michigan. I love it.

Did you know that the Great Lakes can almost look like the ocean ?

Can you hear the waves?

We drove up on a Tuesday and home on Thursday, so our visit was quick. On Thursday morning we took a quick, nostalgia drive. This is our old vacation home, the one I loved.  I miss it so much, but it looks like somebody is caring for it nicely.

Oh, this is why I woke up to find Jon sleeping in Noah's room. Lol.

Where was I? Thursday morning we were sad to leave but ready.

A quick walk around town and a stop in at Gurney's Harbor Bottle Shop for sandwiches! I've been going there my whoooooole life and I STILL can not see over the counter to order my sandwich!

Oh! And this cute, little place is Tom's Mom's Cookies. Another place that I've gone to since I was a little kid and it's still there!

Just before we headed out of town, we took a quick family picture onto of the bluff that overlooks town and the bay.

I'm so glad that we made the trip!

Until next time.

Lauren :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Fantastic 60 Second Breakfast Trick and Recipe!!!!

We all know how popular green smoothies have been recently. It's no wonder, they manage to make your spinach and kale taste like milkshakes! I have such a fantastic, little smoothie recipe and suggestion for you- to cut your morning prep time down to ZERO and your clean-up to a ONE MINUTE snap!

I was browsing Pinterest like I always do, when I came across this great blog post about Green Smoothie Prep Packs on the blog: Clean Food Crush. 

The premise is, you take twenty or thirty minutes, let's say on a Sunday night to wash and prep your fruit and greens, portion everything out and seal them into individual Ziploc freezer bags. Then, every morning for the coming week, all you have to do is pop the contents of a bag into a blender, add a cup of coconut or almond milk and you're done!!!

I knew that these prep packs would be a great help to us in the mornings, but I didn't realize how DELICIOUS they would be, like eating a glass of chocolate-strawberry ice cream! I altered the Clean Food Crush's original recipe a bit to add some protein and healthy fats. I also customized our greens and fruit.  Here's what I did, I think this will become a favorite with you and your family too.

Noah's Favorite Green Smoothie Prep Packs

This recipe makes roughly five day's worth of smoothies if you use five gallon size bags.  Each Ziploc bagged portion is enough for at least two large smoothies. You can play around with the ingredient amounts, including the liquid to change the portion size and consistency. There was about twenty minutes of prep for five days.

Into each gallon-sized Ziplock bag add.....

1 & 1/2 Cups washed baby spinach

1 sliced banana

1/2 Cup to 1 cup cleaned and sliced strawberries depending on optional fruit below

Optional - 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries. 

1 serving chocolate whey protein or other protein. We Like Designer Whey Protein, it can be found at Trader Joe's

1 Tbs. coconut oil

Once you have all of your ingredients in the bags, you can roll them up, which squeezes excess air out and makes the packs smaller. Next, carefully make sure that you close and SEAL each bag correctly and pop them in your freezer!

Once everything is good and frozen, simply take a bag out, (maybe use the back of a spoon to whack the bag and break up the chunks a bit) put everything into a blender with a cup or more of coconut or almond milk. We like it with unsweetened vanilla coconut milk. 

Blend everything up and voila! You're done!!!! MMMMmmmmm.....strawberry-chocolate ice cream that's dairy-free and good for you! You get the greens, the fruit, the protein and the healthy fats. Who could ask for more! :)