Friday, October 08, 2010

UP trip: Part 1. Ann Arbor to Mackinac Bridge

After trying to narrow down the 1,000-plus photos we took on vacation to a reasonable amount for a blog post, I decided to give you little tastes, rather than the whole thing all at once. So here's a glimpse of our trip from Ann Arbor to the Mackinac Bridge. We drove west through Grand Rapids and then up along the coast of Lake Michigan, passing through Traverse City. We continued to hug the coastline as closely as possible, including M-119 — the Tunnel of Trees — that runs north of Harbor Springs to Cross Village. This was my favorite part and where most of these photos were taken.

The boy was in charge of provisions for the car. Not only did he roast a chicken for some tasty sandwiches,
but he made several snack trays like this one of ham, cream cheese and scallion rollups.

This was the first of several dream homes we saw along the way.
It's absolutely perfect, right down to the tree swing. Sigh…
We knew we were officially on vacation when we hit no service!

Welcome to the Good Hart, MI General Store. Home of pot pies and good old fashioned charm.
The baked goods looked amazing.

They even let me have a look into the kitchen at the day's batch of pot pies!

At the General Store, they tipped us off to this beautiful old Mission church and Native American burial ground.
With high winds and sweeping clouds, it felt exciting to explore the beaches along the way.

The reason why this is called the Tunnel of Trees.

The winding scenic drive leads right to Legs Inn in Cross Village.Built in 1921 by Polish immigrant Stanley Smolak, the Inn is filled with handcarved curiosities and bits of naturein every nook and cranny. We didn't eat there, but it had an impressive Polish menu that sounded divine.
Even the landscaping at Legs Inn — looking right out over Lake Michigan — is whimsical and filled with curiosities.
And so we reach the end of Leg 1 and crossed on over the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula.
Stay tuned for part two: Manistique to Marquette!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cookies make you smile

There are days when you want a cookie… desperately. You just have to have one. You need it. Then there are days when you know someone else who could really use a cookie. This cookie fit the bill on both counts yesterday. I'm a big fan of the ginger and chocolate combo. (Remember this cake?) It means I no longer have to choose between my two favorite cookies: chocolate chip and chewy ginger molasses. These lovelies have it all: chewy, spicy, rich with just a mild hint of chocolate.

Chewy Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough balls

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or just spray lightly with cooking spray.
Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended and an even light color, about 1 minute.  On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
Spread the granulated sugar into a small bowl.  Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, toss the ball in sugar to coat and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Continue making cookies, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 12-14 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Design spotlight: Business card

Over the summer I met a woman, Kathie Kelly, at the Blue House MittenMade craft show and we got to talking about art and writing. Kathie is new to Ann Arbor and recently completed the Amherst Writers and Artists program. She has a background in Gerontology and her interest in writing reflects this with a focus on life stories and memoirs. Kathie is looking to connect with other writers in the area and so we worked on developing a business card that would reflect her ideas on aging and writing—in particular her concept, "Aging is a lifelong process." I think they turned out quite nicely, but I'm biased! So if you are, or know of, a writer in the Ann Arbor area interested in working on life stories and memoirs, please do get in touch with Kathie. No experience necessary, just an open mind!

Monday, October 04, 2010

The dreams we have while on vacation…

Hello! It's been a couple of weeks now and in that time they boy and I have been all over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and back again.  What a trip and what a place! Lakes the size of oceans, powerful waterfalls, blazing fall color, incredibly friendly people, and so much more. While I weed through the over 1,000 photos we took to share some highlights, I thought I would tell you this: We did some serious dreaming about living up there. It's just that gorgeous. And so… we almost bought a house, a truck and a boat. Have a look:

This one-room beauty right on Lake Superior is weighing heavy on our minds. What a spectacular dream it would be to hunker down and live a la Thoreau in this rustic cabin. Not pictured: an equally charming sauna right next door. The little beach it's on is at left below.

We stumbled on this 1973 Toyota Landcruiser — a dream vehicle for both the boy and me — while tracking down a lighthouse that you can stay in. Despite a ridiculously good price, it topped out at 35 mph making it a bit tough to get back home (although it could have made it to that sweet little cabin above, non?!). 

And last but not least, this beauty of a little wooden boat. Don't worry, we did more than shop on our trip, but this is what vacations are all about: getting outside your routine, dreaming a little and basking in the beauty of nature — more on that part later this week when I get through all those photos! In the meantime, it's also lovely to be back!