“That’s Okay, I make Lamb”

Happy Monday to you!! The past couple weeks are kind of a blur. DJ and I are deep into the routine of early alarms (him more than myself- I end up snoozing for two extra hours honestly), studying all day long, and then studying late into the night. DJ is doing exceptionally well and staying motivated, but I can tell that law school is as stressful as it’s hyped up to be. It makes dinner time and our Friday Date nights an anticipated reprieve that come and go far too quickly each week. I remember in nursing school the month of September and early October always seemed extra overwhelming. I think it’s due to the fact that you haven’t quite done enough to feel accomplished or secure in your endeavors, and yet you are drained. The next “break”- fall break- is still a month away, and the holidays seem like an intangible event that is more of a nice idea than a future reality. I speculate this is the phase DJ is currently experiencing : burned out, stressed out, and bummed out. What got me through that time? Candy corn, but DJ doesn’t like candy corn, so I’m at a loss on how to help him. After mid-terms, which will be here in about a week, if my diagnosis is correct, he should turn the corner and get a second wind as there will be a huge something he has accomplished. Many times accomplishments can give us that second wind to keep pushing forward. I always feel this way, even just on day-to-day things. If I have a to-do list ten pages long, which all too often is the case, I feel exhausted before even beginning. It’s like a defense mechanism- “No don’t deal with all that, just go to sleep!”. But once things are all completed, I get a burst of energy.

Anyway, there has not been too much going on besides this “Git r’ done, get up and grind” life. However, I have cooked up a few meals I’d love to share, and we visited some fun places to eat too. Naturally this post is just going to be littered with food pictures, because really, which of my posts aren’t?

After Rachel and Amy left, we still had some ingredients leftover to make more pizzas. Homemade flat-out pizzas are one of my favorite treats. They are healthy and versatile, and each person can easily make their own. They are also a blast to make. I always like making a mediterranean one with shrimp, vegan daiya mozzarella cheese, pesto, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and caramelized onions and mushrooms. I also like to make a pineapple one- check out the Marco Island post to see a picture of that 🙂 DJ likes a more basic pizza with crumbled sausage (I used Boca because we ran out of regular- he couldn’t tell the difference 😉 ), mozzarella cheese, oregano, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes.

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We had our headboard delivered last week for our bed, which we had waited four weeks for. I was so excited because that meant I could finally hang the canvas I got for above the bed and start with more decorating. No such luck, Chuck. After the delivery men set it up, I walk in to see it and the actual headboard is a different color entirely than the base. They said it was a manufacturing error, so now we have another good four weeks to wait for the replacement. Oh well, we aren’t in a rush, but it definitely was a “are you kidding me?” type mistake (after we have had countless other issues with this store). All in all, it looks so funny. I can’t help but laugh at it. I will have to post a picture of it soon.

Our Friday night date night (9/9) consisted of Oren’s Hummus shop on Main Street Cupertino. I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of this place. It serves Israeli food, and I have heard from several people that the food is fantastic. Oh… It is.

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Can we talk about this chandelier for quick tic?! Love, love loveeee.

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They start the meal with complimentary coleslaw. If you know me, you know I LOVEEEEEEE coleslaw. This place hardcore won brownie points for giving it out at the beginning of the meal for free. It was super good coleslaw too- not too drenched in the sauce, crunchy veggies, all the flavour. (Flavour with the u- you know it’s good).

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They are called Oren’s HUMMUS shop for a reason. Their hummus is the BOMB. The BEST hummus I have ever had besides my mama’s homemade of course 😉 Sorry Sabra, I think I’m leaving you in the dust.

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I ordered the vegetable skewer with falafel and babaganoush. Baba is similar to hummus, but it is made with a smoked eggplant base. I can never decide if I like Baba or hummus better. I like saying babaganoush more, so maybe that makes me bias toward it.

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DJ ordered the Shakshuka. This had organic eggs, poached over easy in a spiced tomato sauce. Their wheat pita served with this is bursting with flavor. It was served fresh and warm and need I say more?

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Their motto is “Rip, Scoop, Eat”. Their motto happens to be my life motto. If there is ever any chance to dip something with bread, pita, naan, etc., I am alllll over that. At the end of any meal if there is sauce on the plate, you bet I’m getting it with a piece of bread. DJ always laughed at me when we first started dating about this habit, but he does it too now so I must have had it right 😉 I always make sure I save a piece from the starter bread basket to use at the end. When DJ got his meal he said, “How am I supposed to eat this?!” I looked at him, and said- “you’ve gotta rip, scoop, eat- DUH”. And then he rolled his eyes at my not-funny, but I think I’m funny, remark.

Saturday we actually did double-dipping nights out. Granted, after Oren’s we studied the rest of the night. DJ and I met one of his law school friend’s at Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell. He is super familiar with the area and knows all the good stops. I have never been anywhere like this before, and I certainly intend to go back. All their dishes are meant to be shared and the plates, while considered “small plates” are pretty decent sizes to split. Put your seatbelt on, or loosen your belt, one or the other, because we went all out for this meal! I wasn’t planning on taking pictures, but DJ’s friend said he was going to snap a few, and I probably got a little too excited that he shared in the food photography fettish. I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m okay with it.

We started with the shaved radishes. These radishes with fried goat cheese, pink pearl apples, serpent cucumbers, sunflowers, lemon vin, and herbs. Guuuuuys, this was so good. Plus it was maybe the most beautiful thing I’ve ever ate.

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Next we tried the legumes. This included sprouted lentils, butter beans, haricot vert, limas, charred avocado, peanuts, cardamon cream, and lemon. So far the meal has BEAN delicious.

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Deej was especially itching to try the Triple B. This consisted of biscuits, bacon, and honey butter. I didn’t have the bacon, but DJ said it was insanely good. It smelled like it too. I can attest that the rolls and butter were out of this world.

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Next we tried the grilled quail with carrot-anise puree, pickled onions, alium ash, and pistachio crumble. I had never had quail (besides the quail eggs from eat-drink San Fran, and felt I couldn’t miss the opportunity. I haven’t had meat in a long time and I took the tiniest nibble. I can see how others would like it, but I just have no appetite for meat since I gave it up. BUT if you do, which most people do, I bet ya would like this. The puree and all that razzle-dazzle was super delicious too.

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Moving onto the bigeye Tuna Crudo. CRUDOS to you Orchard City Kitchen- (too much?). This was fantastic. It included watermelon (yellow watermelon, mind you), scallions, edamame, radish, daikon sprouts, and soy tahini. It was simply delicious. It is the kind of dish I think I could probably recreate at home too, unlike most of the dishes of the night. The red/pink pieces on the dish are the fish and the yellow is the watermelon. Trippy, right?!

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We also ordered the crab and corn dumplings. The words DUNGENESS CRAB tend to just pop off the page to me and DJ, and so inevitably we had to get that dish too. It would be wrong if we didn’t. It came with corn broth, parm, serrano chile, and cilantro, and maybe some magic because it tasted like it? Also I was too entranced that I forgot to take a picture of that one.

Last, but not least, certainly not least, was the roasted bone marrow radiator with gremolata, toasted bread crumbs, shiitake, pancetta, and parm. Once again, certainly not vegetarian, but it was bone marrow. I had to try it. When else am I going to have bone marrow? Truly one of the greatest things ever. They actually carve the bone marrow right out of the bone into the pasta. I know, I know, sounds a bit unsettling, but it is amazing. Here is my grainy picture trying to get him in the process of carving out the marrow.

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It was super rich, but super delicious. One bite satisfied me and the flavor delicately lingered.

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Throughout the week I whipped up a few staple meals. I was craving my big-ole’ salads. In college people would look at my wide-eyed when they saw the size of my salads in the cafeteria. Look, I like garden salads, and sometimes I put the entire garden in my salads. I love adding chik’n, morningstar burgers, grilled tofu, shrimp, or salmon to them with some guacamole and roasted edamame seeds; depends on my mood, which changes daily hourly, so who knows what the little red bowl will contain by the end of the food prep. **Side note: I have an emotional attachment to the red bowl below, it is my deemed salad bowl. I have a green one at my mom’s house- right mom? They are meant to be used for larger side dishes or even main dishes, but heck, I can’t use some little normal bowl for these monstrous rabbit dinners.

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I haven’t made spaghetti since we have been married. Yes, I realize it is like a staple newlywed meal. I had some angel hair pasta sitting in the cupboard and kind of wanted to get rid of it, so DJ happily obliged to eating a normal meal. I did add turkey meatballs for him… and sundried tomatoes, and maybe a little oregano and italian seasoning, and crumbled parmesan, but I did my best to keep it “normal”. L-O-L. img_0472

Ya’ll know how I try to make one thing from my cooking magazines, once a week? Well this week I present to you blue cheese, basil, lambburgers. I mainly wanted to make lambburgers, just to say lambburgers. It also seemed like a good cooking challenge. I have a long way to go in the meat-cooking department. Oh, I also wanted to be able to quote this the whole time I made them…

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I loved making rosemary fingerling potatoes from my Blue Apron trial, and thought they would be a perfect accompaniment to this meal. The topping for the lambburger is a basil, mayo, and blue cheese dressing. This whole meal was surprisingly easy, and we had leftovers for days- which allows me to get innovative. I loved caramelizing the onions because it makes the kitchen smell incredible, and may have snatched a few myself in the process 😉

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DJ enjoyed the meal even though he isn’t the biggest blue cheese fan. The basil and blue cheese were perfect compliments. Who woulda thought? I tried the cheesy concoction just to make sure it was edible- and it was delicious! I had my salad above round two and some of the fingerling potatoes.

With the leftovers I made zucchini boats. I improvised by adding caramelized onions and mushrooms, and roasted the blue cheese mixture in the oven with the lamb crumbles. I made some garlic bread on the side. DJ said he liked this better than the original burgers even. I can post a recipe for that soon (soon is a relative term).

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For my studying throughout the week I tried different coffee shops to get a change of scenery. My favorite place is Peet’s Coffee and Tea. I’m actually currently sitting at one. Their coffee is amazing, and they aren’t terribly overpriced, plus they are playing Smokey Robinson so it’s a good day. One of my friends works at one in Santa Clara and I went to visit her one day. I, naturally, went to the wrong one, and it’s kind of uncomfortable saying “Just kidding- going to another Pete’s!” to the cashier when I realized she didn’t work there. She worked at the one 4 miles south down the road. 😂  Ahh, only in Cali. I also tried Philz, but it was hard to get much done there. It was a bit chaotic and loud. But they had the most profound sign hanging in their bathroom…

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Thursday night I went for a hike with my hiking group. The moon was INSANE. Any one see the harvest moon? We ended up doing our hike later than usual and the sun is setting earlier. I could tell my group leader was a bit on edge, eager to get back. She divulged to me (at the end of our hike) that she heard someone had been attacked by a mountain lion on that trail, so she was ancy to get back before it was too dark. The views were so worth it. I can’t wait to do this trail again.

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On one of my walks to a coffee shop I saw this little cute box that is a place to leave your leftover food. How cool is this? I was too excited to not take a picture, although the cars passing probably were confused. But especially when leaving for trips and what-not, if there are any food items that might go bad I’d love to know they are not going to be wasted. I need to do more research into how this works exactly. I also need to make sure that’s what this is actually for, and it’s not just a “go green” campaign on some large appliance. AWKWARD if that’s all it is. Oh gosh it probably is. 🙈Hahaha.

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The trees are just beautiful and I had to share.

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DJ played basketball with some guys after school Friday afternoon. I was so glad he could take the break and do something where he felt in his element. For our Friday date night this past friday (9/16), we were both craving sushi (or snoooshi as we call it). I found a Groupon for a place in cupertino we have had our eye on. We rubbed the study daze out of our eyes and spent a quick hour out on the town. The place was pretty tucked away, but super eclectic, played some of the best music, and served some yummy rolls.

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Seaweed salad is a must. This is one of my favorite sushi accompaniments. My aunt loves seaweed salad too, and she tried to make it at home one time. She bought legit raw seaweed-like the algae kind. She said she ended up throwing it right back where it came from (they live on the water). I laughed so hard when she told me this story and I saw the picture of her attempted “seaweed salad”.

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Saturday DJ tucked himself away in the library at school. Main Street Cupertino was having their grand opening (Although we have basically tried everything already *hair flip*). I decided to check it out for a study break in the afternoon. They had all kinds of fun stuff going down like the opportunity to throw a football with Jerry Rice, a giant raffle, locals doing karate and such, and all the food vendors out giving out samples. It was open to the general public too. The lines were nuts, but it was a nice break to be out in the sunshine and among people.

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Back to studying with a third cup of coffee for the day.

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Last night I could tell it was a much-needed cookie night. Nothing some cookies can’t solve.

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The two of us just studied away all day after church.  I have been listening to a podcast called Serial while I long-hand my notes. Anyone heard of it? I am addicted. DJ’s friend we had dinner with the other night actually told us about it. It currently has two law cases that are subject to much speculation and uncertainty about the discretion of the law. I flew through the first case and am now listening to the second. He also suggested watching the documentary The Jinx. I watched through that too while writing out my labs, meds, etc.  I am dying to converse about them, so if anyone has seen them, please let’s chat. I have so many questions and opinions.

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I use a little syringe highlighter that my mother-in-law gave me as a graduation present. I love them!!

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Representing the Orioles today. GO O’s!!!!!

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Wishing you a Monday that has been anything but Mundane,

xo <3

Mack

 

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The Cherry Capitol- TC, MI!

I am about to blog about one of my favorite places ever, and there is no way I can possibly do it justice, but you bet I will do my best! The first trip DJ and I took after graduation in April was to Traverse City, MI. I have taken a while to blog about this trip which severely throws off the order of events, but that’s okay because I want to make sure that I hit all the highlights and articulate accurately what a wonderful place this destination is.

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I have gone to Traverse City since I was a little girl. From hunting for the coveted Petoskey stones in the unusually cold water to sampling cherries from family friends’ cherry farms to soaking up the fresh michigan air in my lungs as I skied along the  most breathtaking views, my memories of this spectacular place are numerous. My mom is originally from this area, and I am lucky to have my grandparents live on one side of the notorious peninsula and my Aunt and Uncle right across the bay. **FUN FACT: DJ and I actually got engaged at my Aunt and Uncles’ beautiful waterfront home. I will have to share that story sometime ;). When planning our summer, Traverse City was at the top of the list.

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Why not do the most peaceful exercise in the most peaceful place?

The first night we arrived my aunt and uncle prepared us the most fabulous dinner. They are the type of people that seem to just excel at anything and everything they set their minds to. Cooking is no exception. My uncle prepared some of the most delectable salmon we have ever had followed by perfectly cooked veggies from my aunt and an absolutely refreshing salad. We still talk about “Uncle Pat’s Salmon” now. We have been to several restaurants for salmon and said, “Well- still not as good as Uncle Pat’s!”. The next day I was supposed to run the “run michigan cheap” half marathon. I may have forgone that race considering it was 30 degrees, snowing, and at 7 am. I decided to do instead ten miles on the treadmill and watch Flashpoint on Netflix. That show will keep you on the end of your seat (or on the end of the treadmill?). If you have Netflix, I highly recommend it. It made the ten miles fly by. We had a yummy parfait for breakfast and headed out on the town.

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At this point in time I was studying hard for my NCLEX (nursing boards), so DJ and I went to this delicious coffee shop called Aroma’s. It was the BEST almond milk latte I have had in my entire life. Look, I used to be a barista so I know this stuff ;). We studied for a few hours, I think DJ watched some games on his phone (or something sport related- who knows), then went back to get ready for lunch.

This is going to be a food post isn’t it? Yes, very much.

What was for lunch?! Well let me tell you… everything organic you could dream of. My Aunt and Uncle shop at multiple grocery stores and farmers markets to only buy the most organic and clean ingredients. I love staying at their house to eat all their food (…and hanging out with them is a major bonus, hehe). This little booger was the most delicious salad I may have ever had with multicolored carrots, tons of root vegetables, hummus, etc. etc.

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After lunch, I continued to study a bit and then relax. My Aunt and Uncle are super easy-going people; I feel that I can just veg-out and not worry about a thing when I’m in their home. DJ always jokes that I am going to be my Aunt when I’m older; we have very similar personalities, and I take that as quite the compliment. That night they treated us to a wonderful dinner at the restaurant Blu in Glen Arbor. I have never been anywhere like this. It has fine dining cuisine, but the most relaxing environment. You enjoy your meal overlooking the gorgeous water and are surrounded by only about ten other tables. It is the most quaint fine-dining experience I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. The staff was incredibly hospitable and knew many patrons by name. Ohhhh, and the food was insane. The menu isn’t super large, but anything you order will be fantastic. We tried a vast array of blue crab puffs with a sweet chili sauce, escargot with parsley and garlic butter, foie graus in a cherry sauce, and mixed greens with sherry vinaigrette. That’s a lot you say? Well those are just the apps. For our entrees we sampled (meaning devoured in their entirety) the walleye and a trout dish that was cooked to absolute perfection. I can’t give too much away because you just have to make your way there yourself. (HINT: order their flourless chocolate cake and myer’s rum soaked pineapple cake for dessert)! We wined and dined over amazing conversation, nonstop laughter, the most calming views, and exquisite cuisine.

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Are pant-suits back in style yet?

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I thought the pant suit was cute and all until I had to use the restroom. Then I realized what a struggle that would be-trying to unzip that thing! I held it all night, believe it or not…most would not.We all went back home with full stomachs and happy hearts. Nothing beats time with family.  And nothing beats access to the restroom after you have held it for three hours.

The next morning the two chefs went to work and made us huevos rancheros. Uhm, hello, how have I gone my whole life without these?! They made mine with vegan sausage (which tastes no different than regular- I am telling you!). We were stuffed like turkeys on thanksgiving, said our goodbyes, and headed off across the bay to see my grandparents (aka the coolest g-rents that ever lived).

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On our way to the other side of the Peninsula, we stopped at the cutest little winery. I told DJ I had to pop in. It looked like a mom-and-pop shop from the outside. On the inside it was a modern, sleek-looking wine tasting bar- I didn’t see any touristy little giftshop (you know- the ones with the spinning keychain holders that never spell your name right). So at 11 am on a Tuesday we are the only ones standing in this wine cellar. The girl that was working was super friendly, and we got to chatting for a while. I did end up sampling just a few sips of a couple wines because A. I felt weird if we just left without buying anything after chatting for that extended period of time and B. Wine.

Next, we went to the real touristy side of the city in downtown Traverse City. Downtown TC is my type of paradise. It has the cutest bakeries, gift shops, antique shops, unique family owned stores you can imagine. Despite the fact that I have been there a million times it never gets old! I usually spend hours upon hours just gallivanting through the numerous stores- especially Cherry Republic. *CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC*. This little shop is always packed because they offer cherry jams, cherry covered espresso beans, cherry salsa, cherry malted milk balls- need I go on? They allow samplings of many of the items and also offer a diverse menu of food choices. DJ and I ordered some soup to warm up while we were there. We also stopped in a coffee shop called Espresso Bay so I could squeeze in a little studying.

The trip in town would not be complete without visiting the olive oil store, Fustinis. I stocked up on their basil olive oil, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, and espresso balsamic (which is palatable on vanilla ice cream). I have tried my fair share of salad dressings but nothing tops combining some Fustini’s  basil olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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My favorite discovery of the day was the bakery called Morsels. You know how sometimes you just need “a little something sweet”? Well that’s me all the time, and this place does the trick. It has a bunch of different delicious flavored “Morsels” you can choose from. Some of the best included: Brownie points (our personal favorite), Nuts and Berries (the TC award winning favorite), and Seventh Heaven which had graham cracker, coconut, and butterscotch chips. We went back right before we left (to go back to Indiana) and stocked up on a few more for our road trip home.

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I just loved this sign
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After exploring the great down town, we headed over to our Grandma and Grandpa’s for some quality time. We caught up on all the happenings while enjoying one of those home cooked meals only a grandma can whip up. They are two of the coolest individuals I have ever met. They have been together since they were teenagers and have the most incredible stories. As I get older the stories become more and more  fascinating. They also are incredibly sage; I call my Grandma often for advice and just to chat. She is a no-mess-around kind of lady and will give it to you straight coupled with the warmest heart and a generous spirit. My Grandpa is simply the kindest person you will ever meet (and the most hilarious). His famous line to anyone who walks through the doors is, “Me Casa es Su Casa“, and he means it. We are beyond thankful for them and treasure each and every second together.

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The next day DJ and I headed off to one of our all-time favorite locations- The Sleeping Bear Dunes. Our family would always make fun of us for how often we would visit the sandy hills during TC family get-togethers. When you experience the Dunes, you will understand why they are such a big deal!

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The two of us just turn into a couple of big kids when you put us in some sand. We could frolic all day in those parts. The sand dunes have a MASSIVE dune that you can go down and climb back up (the one we are playing on above). It takes about five to seven minutes to get down, but it can be anywhere from a thirty-minute to a two-hour hike back up depending on your condition. The dunes extend for what seems like miles, and there are multiple different starting locations you can go to in order to access the park. One year we did the strenuous four mile hike to Lake Michigan. Make sure to take water and a fresh set of legs if you ever do that one ;). DJ and I went to a couple of the side trails we have never been to before and saw a porcupine up in the tree. I’m not sure where I thought porcupines lived, but I did not expect to see one in Michigan.

On our way home we made a very necessary stop in the downtown area for Kilwin’s ice cream. This is at the top of my ice cream shop list. As soon as I am in the TC area, I begin craving the stuff like a Pavlovian dog. They also serve extraordinary truffles, toffee, fudge, candied apples, and many other goodies. I love sampling all the different fudge places on the strip too. DJ always laughs at me because I get grossly excited when I see a fudge store, but never actually buy any fudge. I think I like the concept of the tremendous amounts of flavors, the smell, and the feel of a fudge store more than the actual fudge. But I always try the samples *Guilty face*.

My grandma and grandpa are big on the traditional cocktail hour. As a kid my grandpa would make me Shirley Cocktails with a little cherry. That was the only time I ever had shirley cocktails (at Grandpa’s), so it was an absolute treat. This night we had an earlier reservation, so we skipped cocktail hour (in very Bachelorette-like fashion, all you bachelorette junkies know what I mean). However, when I was getting ready to go Grandpa knocked on my door and brought me a small glass of wine and big hug. He explained he gives Grandma wine to help her get ready. Those simple, special moments are memories I will treasure.

Wednesday night we went to an amazing restaurant called Apache Trout grill. This is a tourist and locals’ favorite in the TC area, and you best make reservations in advance to grab a table! The entire meal was beyond tasty. I am convinced their smoked whitefish dip was sent straight down from heaven. I was obsessed with the stuff and think it should be mandatory that everyone try it once in their lives. You also cannot go wrong with any of the seafood entrees. However, may I suggest the walleye with the caper beurre blanc sauce. I am a bit caper-crazy, so when I saw that the walleye came with them I jumped on board (or jumped ship- pick your pun). It exceeded my expectations!

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The next day it was time to head home. Though, we did dabble in a fantastic lunch at Poppycocks in TC before! DJ and I ran there along the Peninsula and met up with everyone (Uncle Pat, Aunt Terry, G+G). I ordered the falafel waffle. If that is not only fun to say, it was also super fun to eat! We also said our emotional goodbyes, and left with memories that forever will hold a place in our heart.

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Hope you guys find time in your lives to visit this magical place. Thanks for reading!

Wishing you more falafel waffles than you can handle,

xo <3

Mack