Cousin Jenny’s, Downtown Traverse City

Ordering at Cousin Jenny's in Traverse City

One of downtown Traverse City’s oldest restaurants is still one of my favorites. It’s the first restaurant I can remember visiting in Traverse City. The food is always fresh and you’ll always get friendly service.

Cousin Jenny’s specializes in Cornish Pasties which are delicious flaky pockets of pastry filled with steak, rutabaga, potato, onion, salt, and pepper. This is the food that workers who imigrated from Cornwall, United Kingdom to Iron Mountain, Michigan packed for lunch while working in the Copper and Iron mines. Today, the tradition lives on. Continue reading

2 Menu Items Worth Trying at the Red Ginger

Red Ginger in Traverse City

After hearing so much about the Red Ginger restaurant in downtown Traverse City, it was about time to check it out. I was meeting a few friends and looking forward to a fun time. The atmosphere was fun with a nice design and flow to the space. It was a weeknight and the restaurant was mostly  filled with professionals having drinks and dinner after work.

Table Top at Red Ginger in Traverse City


The server was polite and not hovering. He was there when we needed him and we felt comfortable taking our time and catching up.


The reason for the Red Ginger’s excellent reputation. The food was presented beautifully and it tasted  as delicious as it looked.


There are items on the menu that seem a little high, but there are plenty of choices to order on a budget as well. It’s just one of those places that you could spend more than you hoped to if you’re not paying attention.


Sesame Chicken at Red Ginger in Traverse City

From the Red Ginger Menu

Kung Pao

wok tossed white shrimp, chicken, sugar snap peas, carrot, peanuts also available with shrimp, chicken, local organic tofu

Lettuce Wraps at Red Ginger in Traverse City

Minced Chicken in Lettuce Wraps

minced chicken breast, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese vegetables, hoisin sesame sauce, crisp lettuce jammers may be prepared with locally made organic tofu for vegetarian option

I had the Kung Pao and my friend had the lettuce wraps. Both were excellent.

Ambiance at Red Ginger in Traverse City


Red Ginger




Get up to Hop Lot Before the Snow Melts!

Cozy outdoor play area at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

In the northern part of Leelanau County, just south of downtown Sutton’s Bay, is one of the newer breweries to the area. It’s Hop Lot Brewing Company, and we recently ventured up West Bay Shore Drive to check it out.

Ordering beer at the bar at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

We were lucky to meet one of the owners, Kurt Ludke who told us a little about the building process. They used huge wooden beams to frame the building. He recalled what it was like being up that high hammering away. The space has lofty ceilings and a nice open feel. There are long tables that seat large parties and encourage mingling. The inside is moderate in size, with a back yard that is expansive and welcoming. Kurt told us how they wanted to bring the brewery experience together with nature. A great idea since we Grand Traverse-ites, (or would we be Grand Traversanians or Grand traversanders?), whatever we call ourselves here in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan, we love our nature. With that the Ludke’s nailed it, and this brewery turned out to be an awesome place to hang out.

Flight of beers at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

Even in the winter there is a large area out back cleared of snow so that you can enjoy your company and your beer while keeping warm by the fire. On this quiet weekday evening in February there were several fires burning. The yard was beautiful all covered in snow and lit up with the warm glow of hanging lights all around. Kurt explained that in the summer the crowd expands out to the grassy area filled with long tables for friends and strangers to sit together, and talks about a play area for kids that is surrounded by hops growing tall creating a fort inside. We’ll have to come back this summer to see that. Big kids can play in the hops too, right Kurt?

Grand Traverse View fans will want to see it too, but take my advice, don’t wait until summer. Hop Lot is too much fun in the winter to miss out. We Grand Traverse(inians?) love a good winter campfire, don’t we? So call up your people and make it a date soon. Of course, we’ll want to hear all about it. Please come back here and leave comments telling us how much you love Hop Lot too!

Winter wonderland at Hop Lot Brewing Company in Sutton's Bay Michigan

Fun by the fire outside at Hop Lot Brewing Company in the winter



The menu from

Hop Lot Menu

Hop Lot Brewing Company


658 S West-Bay Shore Drive
Suttons Bay, Michigan 49682

Michigan Breweries Map

Hop Lot Hours

Monday Closed Closed
Tuesday 3 PM 9 PM
Wednesday 3 PM 9 PM
Thursday 3 PM 9 PM
Friday 3 PM 10 PM
Saturday 12 PM 10 PM
Sunday 12 PM 8 PM


Re-Visiting the Ice Caves

This is a Throw Back Thursday Re-Post About the Ice Caves on Lake Michigan Dated February 18th, 2014


Rumor has it, there are huge ice caves on the big lake. Lake Michigan doesn’t freeze over every year. But this has been an exceptional winter so far.

So we had to go see for ourselves. And the rumors are true. There are huge ice caves on Lake Michigan. They are really good just out from the shore a few miles north of Leland. You have to park and walk a bit as the road is blocked off out to the lake.


Road closed out to the ice caves on Lake Michigan

And in case you make it past the barricades, the county road ends at the water. As the signs says. You probably shouldn’t drive past here anyway. 🙂


The Ice Caves Just Out from Empire on Lake Michigan


road ends at water sign ice on lake michigan

Continue reading

Found the Funnest Little Antique Store

Right downtown Maple City, in a little house next to the post office, is the cutest little store you could find. Unassuming from the front, it looked to me like someone had turned their side enclosed porch into a little store.


When I stepped inside, I realized that the whole house was consumed. Everywhere you turn. You have to stand there a moment to take it all in.

The first thing I saw were some old 6-packs of Pepsi and Vernor’s bottles Continue reading

The Spectacular View from Eden Hill

Grand Traverse View Pink Fushia for my garden from my trip to Eden Hill Greenhouse

Apparently, (according to this farmer that my cousin talked to at a farmers market downstate) after the peepers start singing, if you count three hard frosts, it’ll be okay to plant. When you’re downstate in Michigan, it is typically safe to plant on Memorial Day weekend. Up north, in the Grand Traverse area, you may want to wait until the first of June. Or if you listen to the old farmers who would know, you can plant anytime after the 3rd frog frost regardless.

The nighttime low temperatures are rising and I cannot wait any longer. This morning I decided to go see the best growers I know. Eden Hill Greenhouse is small outfit on the west end of the Grand Traverse area in Benzie County, Michigan.

Pete and Tim Volas own the business and oversee all of the growing. Pete had been a vegetable farmer in Missouri before he moved to Michigan about 30 years ago, and while began with veggies here as well, he soon converted his business to growing wholesale flowers. You may know Tim from the Traverse City Farmers Market. They always have the most beautiful chrysanthemums in the fall.

Grand Traverse View My trip to Eden Hill Greenhouse

After Tim graduated from college, he came back to the area to join the family business. About ten years ago, Pete’s wife Barbara (Tim’s Mom) became ill. It was a very challenging time for the family all the way around. Running a business only added to the difficulties they were experiencing. In order to lighten the demand from the greenhouses, they converted the business once again, moving away from wholesale they began selling directly to the public.

Opening to the public has proven to be a good decision for the Volas family. It has certainly been a great thing for those of us who get to shop here too. Stepping into this greenhouse is an experience so incredible they could easily be charging admission. But don’t tell them that!

Grand Traverse View meets the welcoming committee at Eden Hill Greenhouses

The Welcoming Committee

Meet Otto. The first thing I saw today when getting out of my car was this face. The picture is a little blurry, and it’s even upside down because I wasn’t ready for him. And by the time I was, he was off to greet the next person. But in my brief encounter with Otto, he brought a smile to my face.

The next thing I saw, brought another one. It was this perfect lilac. Of course it’s not part of the inventory, just a bonus for me there at the edge of the parking lot enhancing the view. So I had to share it with you.

The lilac's are in bloom in Grand Traverse County!

The view from inside the greenhouse offers an even more spectacular view. The display is an explosion of color. You’ll find the selection is superior quality with plants ranging from fresh herbs to cactus. And you’ll find the most amazing hanging baskets ever.

Grand Traverse View

I took the above picture just inside the central greenhouse where Pet and Tim have assembled a nice variety of annuals for our easy shopping. You can see gerbera daisies, geraniums, petunias, fuchsia and the most beautiful coleus. You can call this one stop shopping and be perfectly satisfied or you can venture into the other greenhouses.That would be my recommendation.

Grand Traverse View trip to Eden Hill Greenhouse Succulents

There are five greenhouses all together and I found these succulents in one of the greenhouses out on the other side of the drive. There are a lot of unusual plants in this one, many of which are not picture. You’ll have to go there to see them and when you get there, you won’t find planters like this just anywhere. These are really special.

Grand Traverse View Flowers for my Garden from Eden Hill Greenhouse

Outside, centered between two of the greenhouses is where you’ll find the perennials all lined up. Whether you are looking for annuals, perennials, flowers for you or for a friend, or just the experience, you’ll find something that delights you.

I highly recommend you stop by Eden Hill. Tell them I sent you! 😉

Grand Traverse View trip to Eden Hill Greenhouse Perennials Outside

Eden Hill Greenhouse & Nursery


2034 Eden Hill Road
Beulah, Michigan 49617

Here’s how to get there. It’s at the top of the hill on U.S. Route 31 just before you go around the bend and down the hill heading into downtown Beulah (coming from Grand Traverse County). You’ll turn west on Lincoln Road by the Presbyterian Church-the one with the big windows that overlook the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The map below is a link to help you out along with some visuals that may help guide you. Look for these signs and the church on the hill at the corner of Lincoln Road and U.S. Route 31. You’re going to actually cross Eden Hill Road and enter off of Lincoln to the back of the greenhouses. Parking is a little tight, but if you pull down the dirt road that winds through the greenhouses you’ll find a spot.

Bing Maps link for Eden Hill Greenhouse on Grand Traverse View

Grand Traverse View trip to Eden Hill Greenhouse sign on the roadGrand Traverse View trip to Eden Hill Greenhouse Church onthe way

Grand Traverse View trip to Eden Hill Greenhouse sign on the road

“Big Swelling Heaps of Gratitude”

“Big swelling heaps of gratitude”, wrote his wife, Ann Davis in an open and compelling letter to Josh’s music fans. She is asking for your vote so her husband, Joshua Davis to make it to the finals of The Voice on NBC.

Are you watching? Are you watching The Voice this season? Prior to this season’s beginning, Joshua Davis was actively singing in and around the Grand Traverse area. Now he’s on a national stage every week. He’s one of the top five finalists on The Voice.

He’s a local favorite. He teaches, motivates and gives back to our community. Josh has taught music to my friends children and he’s a good guy. He just gave us a shout out on the show, with a tribute to his hometown, Traverse City.

If you’re watching The Voice, and you love Josh’s music, please take the time to vote. And if you’re not watching The Voice this season, you can go over to YouTube and see some clips of the show and take a listen. Here’s a view of Josh doing Stings popular song, “Fields of Gold”. Continue reading

Man cave, meets garage, meets warehouse-Workshop Brewing Company in T.C.

Grand Traverse View Reviews the Workshop Brewing Company Traverse City MichiganThere’s a lot of testosterone in this place. And creativity. Filled with authentic industrial pieces, this warehouse space is home to the Workshop Brewing Company’s tap room.

It’s like the man cave, meets garage, meets warehouse. Some of the tables are actually constructed of table saws with glass tops. The sign on the wall looks hand-made with a simple logo that I suspect some of the guys behind the bar had a hand in. Even the lighting is a reflection of the ingenuity that creates this masculine and inviting decor.

Grand Traverse View Worksho Brewing beer bottle light fixtures

The menu board offers a nice selection with a range from light to dark plus several bourbon barrel brews. The bartender was helpful in our decision making. I find it’s often challenging to narrow down to just a few in a place like this.

Grand Traverse View Workshop Brewing menu

The Beer

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Michigan Breweries- From the Farm to the Growler- Brewery Terra Firma Does it All

A late afternoon stop to experience Brewery Terra Firma was just what the doctor ordered. My brother was up visiting for spring break and I almost never get to spend time with just him. I am lucky to see him quite often despite living in different parts of the state, but I can’t remember the last time it was just he and I. So it was really nice to be able to stop in and have a beer with him for some one-on-one time. We went to Terra Firma because I had been there before, I knew right where it was and that the beer would be great.

The Terra Firma tasting room sits along side a country road just outside the Traverse City shopping district surrounding the mall area. It’s only a couple of miles out-of-town, but it feels like you are way out in the country when you’re there. Terra Firma (Latin for “solid earth”) is actually a farm, brewery and a tasting room. They grow everything they need to make beer right there on their own property.

The tasting room is in the big yellow barn with a big wall of windows overlooking the hops field which currently lies dormant as it is still early spring in Michigan. We were greeted by these two lovely ladies who gave us all the details.'s list of Michigan Breweries- Terra Firma Tasting Room

Terri and Kristina at Brewery Terra Firma Tasting Room

Although we didn’t meet him today, John Niedermaier, who is a Traverse City native is the Brew Master. He has years of experience (some at Traverse Brewing Company and some at Right Brain Brewery) and supposedly to date, over 1,000 personal recipes for beer. It would take some time and dedication just to taste that many beers, let alone to actually be the one brewing them. While John has that many brews under his belt, you will find no more than forty to taste at the tap-room at any given time. Still, that’s quite a lot.  Today there were twelve. I tasted three.'s list of Michigan Breweries- Brewery Terra Firma Tasting Room

The Beer

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Spires in the Outfield- A trip to Grand Traverse Commons

It’s a Saturday morning in April, and while it’s a beautiful sunny day here in northern Michigan. It is still early spring so it’s still not quite beach weather yet. If it were, I might grab a coffee and a book and head down to the bay for a little while. Instead, there’s an indoor farmer’s market at the commons that I have decided to check out.

If you’re not familiar with the commons, it is the area of town that was historically the grounds of the Traverse City State Hospital. You may hear it referred to as The Mercado, The Old State Hospital, Building 50, or more formally as The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. I’ve heard it referred to most (by locals) as The Commons.

When you’re driving north into Traverse City on US Route 31, (when you are near Meijers grocery store) if you look up you’ll see the red spires peeking out over the fields and above the treeline. Today,the tall pointed peaks stand out against the bright blue sky pointing the way. To get there, continue past the intersection at Fourteenth Street and turn left onto W. Eleventh street.

Red Spires at Grand Traverse Commons

Just past the State of Michigan Offices, go straight through the four way stop and up toward The Commons. You can go straight up to Building 50 and park around the circle drive, or you can turn left and go around back. I parked in the front and entered through this door to the center of the Mercado.

Front entrance to The Mercado at Grand Traverse Commons

Center Entrance off the Front Entrance

Back entrance to The Mercado

Back Entrance to the Left End of The Mercado Hallway

Around the back, you’ll find more parking as well as some other businesses that have established themselves in what appear to be the restored out-buildings from when the original hospital flourished. There are two entrances to the Mercado from here, one at each end, and these are more difficult to see especially if you don’t know where you’re going. The key is to look for the red signs. They are painted the same red color as the spires.

The Mercado is an indoor marketplace that now inhabits the restored lower level of the main building. Partly underground, with it’s pale yellow brick walls, it feels a little bit like a secret underground tunnel. But the sun shines in brightly through the windows and creates an ambiance that is warm and refreshing at the same time.


Inside view of The Mercado at the Commons

As soon as my eyes adjusted to the lighting (after coming in from the bright sunshine), I was drawn to some fresh greens and couldn’t help but to stop for a photo.  Believe it or not, Continue reading