Posts in Summer
Our Happy Place: Up North // Northern Michigan

One of the things we love about living in Michigan is that it is home to this magical place known to us Michiganders as “up north.” It’s home to what Country Living calls “the most beautiful island in America,”Mackinac Island, and what Good Morning America called “the Most Beautiful Place in America,” Sleeping Bear Dunes.  We’ve been blessed to travel to a lot of pretty amazing places, but honestly, there’s really no place like up north.  


I get that if you’re not from Michigan you probably doubt that there’s anything all that more special about this mythical place than anywhere else, but I promise - there is something about the combination of the water, beaches, beautiful small towns, and the outdoors that just recharges your soul.



There are a lot of beautiful places to visit up north - a few of our favorites are Mackinac Island, Traverse City/Leland, and Petoskey.  In fact, we just returned from a week in Mackinaw City (yes, they are spelled differently), and are headed back “up north” to Petoskey in a few days.  We’ll be camping, and I’m already looking forward to the fresh air, and of course - Lake Michigan. 


Our kids absolutely love camping (or RV-ing technically), and I have to admit, it doesn't get much better than sitting around a fire together, making s'mores and watching the sunset!  If you've never been "Up North," put it on your bucket list.  It's one of those places that doesn't disappoint, and I promise it's worth it!

Have you been Up North lately?  What’s your favorite Up North place? 


See all that, talk about the beauty of
the Bay of Naples! I’ve seen them both,
and no place is more beautiful than
Little Traverse in its autumn colors.
— Ernest Hemingway, at Little Traverse Bay

Homemade Ice Cream!

We love ice cream.  Like, we really love ice cream.  Mint Chocolate Chip, Mackinaw Island Fudge, Strawberry Sorbet, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, are definitely some of our favorites.  In honor of National Ice Cream Day, (yes that's a real thing!) we thought we’d make some yummy homemade ice cream!  There’s nothing more fun that a little homemade ice cream over a chocolate fudge brownie with whipped cream and sprinkles!


It takes a little advance planning (it’s not something you can just whip up in 15 minutes for a snack), but it’s really simple, and really worth it.  We have a Cuisinart 2 Quart Ice Cream Maker, and this recipe for Simple Vanilla is absolutely perfect for a hot summer day!


In addition to the Ice Cream Maker, you’ll need

    Measuring Cup

    Large Mixing Bowl

    1.5 Cups Whole Milk

    3 Cups Heavy Cream (36% Fat)

    1.25 Cups White Granulated Sugar

    2 Tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract

    A Dash of Salt.


Before you start, make sure you’ve put the frozen bowl in the freezer at least 16 hours before you want to make ice cream (I told you there was some advance planning required!). 

Start by combining the Milk, Sugar and Salt in a large mixing bowl.


Mix, or Whisk until the Sugar is completely dissolved.


Add the Heavy Cream, and Vanilla, and stir.  Then cover the mix and refrigerate for 2-3 hours (or you can leave it overnight if you plan that far in advance)!



After 2-3 hours, remove the frozen bowl from the freezer.  It’s definitely going to be cold and frosty - which is perfect!



Add your ice cream mixture to the frozen bowl and turn on the Ice Cream Maker.



Place the cover on the Ice Cream Maker and set a timer for 25 minutes.



When you come back, the ice cream will be nice and creamy.  You can certainly serve it now, but I recommend you place it in an air tight container and freeze for at least 2 hours to let it firm up.  Again, overnight would be best!





When you’re ready, take out of the freezer and serve with your favorite toppings!



Homemade Ice Cream, with Fudge Chocolate Brownies, Whipped Cream and Sprinkles… Perfect!


You can’t buy happiness,
but you can buy ice cream
and that is pretty much
the same thing.
— Unknown

We Love The Fourth Of July!

The 4th of July has always been a big deal around here.  There are a lot of reasons why - we love a good barbecue, we love having family & friends over, and we love the fireworks. The 4th is always a celebration and a lot of fun, but the biggest reason is that it’s the day we got engaged.  July 4, 2007 was a pretty big deal in our family.  

That day was the day that we became “us.”  


In fact, that’s the spot. 

It was eleven years ago - and Beth and I had driven down to Monterey, CA to have a picnic and watch the fireworks.  Every few minutes, I'd stick my hand in my pocket and make sure it was still there.

The ring.

I had been carrying it around in my pocket all day, and never before had I been more nervous about losing anything.  After lunch, we went for a walk along the boardwalk, and I was so scared I couldn't even hold her hand.  I needed to be able to continuously check my pocket.  I needed to be sure that it was still there.  Afterall, it had arrived just the day before - a few hours before Beth arrived from Michigan.  It had been flown in just for this occasion, and there was no way I was going to lose it.

I wanted to give it to Beth more than I've wanted anything... ever.  But I needed the perfect setting - the perfect moment.  Of course, the longer I waited for the perfect moment, and the longer I looked for the perfect spot, the more I worried about checking my pocket. 

Then we found this bench.

I probably made up something lame like - let's just sit here for a few minutes.  I had this whole "speech" planned, and as soon as we sat down, I forgot every word.  Instead, I reached in my pocket, and pulled out Beth's ring.  

I don't remember much of what happened next.  I don’t even remember what I said. Something happens to a boy sitting on a bench with a beautiful girl and a ring in his pocket. He loses all sense of composure and the world around begins to spin just a little faster as he realizes his life is about to change - exponentially for the better 

I don’t remember much except I'm pretty sure I asked my best friend to marry me.

"Yes, of course yes, YES!"  Those were her exact words.  Sitting there on that bench, she said yes.  Sitting there on that bench, eleven years ago, I asked my best friend to be my best friend forever, and she said yes.  

Just another reason I love the 4th of July.

- Jason

DSC_0279 copy.jpg

In the truest sense,
freedom cannot be bestowed;
it must be achieved.
— President Franklin Delano Roosevelt


We look forward to summer at our house almost as much as Christmas. I used to think it was because of all the things you don’t have to do in the summer.  You don’t have to get up early, you don’t have to do homework, you don’t have to go to school - which of course, as a parent, means you don’t have to make lunches and rush to get your children out the door and onto the bus in the morning. 


But the best part about summer is that it’s more than just a list of “things I don’t have to do.”  The best part about summer is the adventure. 

You see, around here, summer means road trips and camping, and swimming pools, and waterparks, and going up north.  (If you’re not from Michigan, you probably have no context for understanding how wonderful “up north” really is, but trust me - it’s the best.)  

Summer also means movie nights, and baseball games, and water fights and sprinklers, and sports camps.  It means staying up late, and sleeping in.  It means reading club at the library, and grilling on the deck, and sleepovers, and outdoor concerts, and fireworks.

Basically, summer is one big adventure around here, and we’re so excited it’s finally here we wanted to share some “summer” love with all of you. What are some of your favorite summer “adventures?"

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon;
to me those have always been the two most
beautiful words in the English language.
— Henry James