Friday Funday!

We spent a long Fourth of July weekend in Southwest Michigan for a family wedding. We spent the Fourth on the beach, no better pace to be. Friday followed with lots of fun. You know it is a funday when the Hummer limo pulls up before noon!

Friday Funday (5)

We had a fun-filled day planned to celebrate the bride-to-be on the day before her wedding on the beach. First stop, Round Barn Winery. The property is gorgeous, as are the buildings.

Round Barn

You can do a tasting or grab a bottle and sit outside and enjoy the views overlooking the grapevines. There is a huge list of wines to select from as well as rum, vodka, bourbon and aperitif, all made from grapes. The black walnut creme was amazing!

Angie B (7)

They also brew beer, their Grape Expectations was a favorite, flavored with grapes of course.

Round Barn Beer List

Next stop, South Haven, and a visit to The Idler. The boat is permanently docked on the river. The upper deck has great river views, and the downstairs is spectacular with all the woodwork. I am sure it was a beauty in its prime, it’s taken a beaten over the years.

The Idler

The Idler

A short walk over the river to our last stop, a late lunch at Captain Lou’s. Lou’s is a great (mostly) outdoor bar on the river.  Perfect spot for the beautiful weather. The bartender was a trooper too.

Captain Lou's

A nice limo ride home, with lots of dancing in our seats. A great day for a great lady!

Bride to Be

And to the happy couple, and picturesque wedding on the beach. Congratulations and wishing you many years of happiness.

Wedding Ceremony (5)

Summer Road Trip: The Food

Labor Day has been nice and relaxing, finally getting a chance to get through the vacation photos.  It seems like a distant memory, but fun to relive via the photos.  The first stop on our trip was Michigan for camping and fun on the beach.  Wouldn’t be camping without s’mores and some Jiffy pop over the fire.

jiffy pop

From camping we headed out east, the destination for the first day of driving was Buffalo.  We stopped for a lunch break in Cleveland Ohio.  After a quick Google search we found a place in Lakeland, Melt Bar and Grilled.  The menu is a unique and lengthy list of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.  The menus on old record sleeves, I got Chicago.  My husband enjoyed a Wake and Bake (grilled cheese with an egg), the kids went pretty standard ordering  grilled cheese with bacon and a cheeseburger grilled cheese.  At my daughter’s suggestion I went with the Purple Parma (crispy breaded eggplant, grilled tomato, sun-dried tomato pesto, roasted garlic, provolone ), it was ginourmous.  Seriously we could have all split it.   I mean the bread alone is huge.  So good!

Melt Bar and Grilled

Back on the road, we finally landed in Buffalo New York.  The birth place of chicken wings, we had to get some.  We opted for The Anchor Bar, the wings were good but I over estimated how hot they would be and we ended up under-ordering on the heat level.

anchor bar wings

Finally, after another day of driving, we hit our final destination.  New Hampshire and the Atlantic Ocean.  Lots of seafood involved and lots of friendly faces to share it with.

cousins

A clam chowder reunion too.

Haddock fresh caught by the husband and BIL.  Bowls and bowls of steamers.  Brown’s Lobster Pound was such a fun place for dinner.  BYOB too.

steamers

A whole lobster and of course we could not go home without a lobster roll as big as our head.

Lobster Roll

The route home was a straight shot across.  Though we may have planned our overnight stop based on another trip to Melt.  Yes, yes we did, it was that good.  This visit we tried the Big Popper and the Smokey Russian (smoked turkey, fresh napa vodka kraut, smoked gouda, Russian dressing).  Vodka kraut!  A last-minute decision to check out the beer menu paid off big time.  They had the beer that I’ve been trying to get my hands on for over a year.   A favorite local cheese and beer/wine spot even tried to find some for me, no luck.

Hell or High Watermelon

Worth the wait, a light crisp beer that has the tiniest hint of sweet.  Now when the hell is it coming to Illinois!?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup S’mores

The first leg of our vacation was camping in Michigan.  Can’t go camping without s’mores.  My sister-in-law brought Reese’s peanut butter cups, genius!

Reese Peanut Butter Cup S'mores

We roasted up the beer marshmallows.  I have to say,beer or no beer, homemade marshmallows are awesome.  The texture is creamier than the packaged kind.

Reese Peanut Butter Cup S'mores

They roasted up nicely, and melted very melty and creamy.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup S'mores

How have I never used Reese’s on my s’mores?  I made up for lost time and ate two of these .  Before dinner.  Hell of an appetizer.

Spring Break at the Beach

beachWe spent a long weekend at the beach, though the shores of Lake Michigan are hardly the beaches you want to hit up on Spring Break.   Looks like a beautiful sunny day for the beach right? Looks can be deceiving, the air temp was about 30° and I did not dare test out the water temperatures.  I at least took advantage of the scenery and went for a good run, the puppy LOVED the beach too!

Friday my husband and I both took the day off and actually spent the day around our house running errands and getting ready for the trip.  After dropping the kids off at school we decided to give The Depot a try for breakfast.  It is so close to our house and it has been on our list for a long time.  Figured it was a good day to avoid the crowds resulting from the feature on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.  I wasn’t in the mood for breakfast so I ordered the pot roast sandwich.  Oh man was it delicious.  The meat was tender, juicy and topped with crisp fried onions and gravy.  I am not a fan of gravy, but it was a flavorful addition to the sandwich and as a topping on the fries.  Loved the old time diner style in the place and and of course the great service.  We hit the place just at the right time, there was a wait by the time we left.  Perfect fuel for running errands and packing up I was full until dinner.

pot roast sandwich

Pot Roast Sandwich

The puppy may have been a fan of the beach, but not of the car.  The puppy’s car sickness kicked in before we were even out of Chicago.  She proceeded to throw up quite a few times during the two hour care ride.  A few times I was able to put her mouth out the window, which I am sure the other travelers enjoyed, but for the most part she was throwing up on me and/or blanket.  Nice!  Well at least she had not just eaten.  On the way home I kept her from looking out the window and she did not get sick once.

We had such a fun weekend, the kids had fun playing with their cousins.  The kids got to work off all the crazy energy at the local open gym time followed by seeing the new Whimpy Kid movie (it was OK, but not as good as the first one).  After getting the kids good and tired we got a sitter and headed to dinner in Benton Harbor.  Benton Harbor has a great art district that is worth checking out.  It has a few restaurants, art galleries, and a great brewery.  I ordered my dish based on the fact the side was potatoes with goat cheese.  Goat cheese is one of those ingredients that can influence my order in all sorts of odd directions.  It so happened the potatoes were served with duck which I wasn’t too sure I would like.  Luckily I loved it, good to know for the future.

Sunday we hit the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo with the kids.  Holy crap the SR-71 spy plane is massive.  Good way to spend the day, the kids loved it.  We stayed busy all weekend and didn’t get much downtime to relax, though we did manage to watch a movie, Due Date which was very funny (especially if you are a Robert Downey Jr. fan).  Getting home early afternoon on Monday left me with enough time to cook and prepare for the week.  A Monday off of work is the best, makes the week go fast.  Those this week has been busy I could have used that extra day in the office.  Looking forward to a quiet productive weekend at home coming up, no plans Friday or Saturday night.

Getting out of Dodge

This past weekend we got the hell out of dodge to have a much needed long family weekend.  The main destination was MSU, my husbands Alma Mater, for a tailgate and a football game.  The weather wasn’t too great, rainy and chilly, but we had a ton of fun anyway.  We were located near an alumni event so we got a good view of the cheerleaders, marching band, and Sparty coming and going throughout the day.  The cheerleaders were nice enough to let us take pictures, though the 3 year-old wanted no part.  The rain got bad right about game time, so we opted to head back to the hotel and watch the game in the great indoors.  Finished the night out with dinner and hooking up with some friends who were at the game.  We were bummed not to go to the game, but given the rain the kids would not have lasted 5 minutes.  Next year I guess.

MSU MI Weekend (61)

We spent Sunday morning walking and driving around campus.  They kids got to see all the places dad lived, that is when they paid attention and looked out the window.  No campus tour would be complete without visiting Sparty, we even got to see “Sparty Watch”.  We hit the bookstore and got geared up with MSU wear and headed to spend the night in New Buffalo.

We had eaten in the hotel restaurant that were staying at in New Buffalo before but never stayed there, wow were the rooms nice.  We had a beautiful view of the harbor and the beach in the distance.  We just hung out, had dinner, watched a movie, ordered up ice cream and had a very relaxing night. 
MSU MI Weekend (31)
MSU MI Weekend (34)
Monday the kids got to play hooky from school, the weather was beautiful so I headed to the beach for run.  Turned out to be a lot of stop and go, I could not pass up all the beach glass.  Took the kids to the pool and then we headed to the pumpkin patch on the way back to Chicago.
MSU MI Weekend (19)  
It was such a great weekend.  Always nice to get away from all the chores staring you down at home to just enjoy each others company, the kind of quality time we just never seem to have enough time for at home.