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

“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

Gabe’s Country Smoked Meats, at Maple City Road and M-72

Spring Blossoms in Grand Traverse

When I woke up this morning I could almost hear the blooming trees outside.  So I hopped in the car to take a ride through the heart of Leelanau County to see how the apple blossoms were coming along.  As you head towards the lake (Lake Michigan) from Traverse City on M-72, you’ll find a cute little local market on the corner at Maple City Road. I’ve been meaning to check it out, so I decided today was the day.


Since this is a main through-way from Traverse City out to Lake Michigan, Empire, Glen Arbor and Leland, it would be a great place to stop and fill the cooler with a picnic lunch. These sandwiches were already made up in the cooler and were very reasonable priced at 2.99 a piece. You could easily feed a crowd without breaking the bank.







Gabe’s is a cozy little market that has that “up north” feel and by that I mean it’s nothing fancy and far from a big chain style.  And it smelled delicious.  They offered a variety of local meats and cheeses as well as some hot and ready to eat hotdogs and sausage that were made on site.










This carving on the log was the first thing I saw when I walked up to the shop and at the time I thought it was pretty cool.


Gabe’s Country Smoked Meats

12963 S. Maple City Road

Maple City, Michigan  49664


Monday – Friday 8 am till 8 pm (summer hours)


The Cicely Alaska of Traverse City, Michigan

Northern Exposure Traverse City

Years ago, in the 1990’s, our good friends knew they had an open invitation to come hang out at our house every Monday night.  The only catch was you had to be there by 10:00.  That was the time our favorite show, Northern Exposure came on the television. It was an open door on Monday nights.  Just for our closest friends.

We have never done that with any other television show.  Never had before then, and haven’t since. We were hooked. I think it was a combination of the story being told along with the blend of unique characters that lived in Cicely, Alaska. The tight-knit community they evoked on the show inspired us to create our own little community in Traverse City on Monday nights all winter long.

Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest

Today, we spent the day at the Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest .  Lake Ann is a little village about twenty minutes south-west of Traverse City. The locals call it LA. We felt like we’d been placed into the set of Northern Exposure.

The locals call it LA. We felt like we’d been placed into the set of Northern Exposure. The small town feeling was prevalent and charming.  The first guy we met stopped to talk with us while we got out of the car.  He gave us the rundown of the day.  We had just missed the pancake breakfast, but could still catch lunch at the town hall.  I think he was the towns Maurice Minnifield.

Welcome to Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest

Kids were having fun at a good old-fashioned pickup game of broomball on the village ice rink just off the park.

Ice Rink LA Snow Pine Fest

A red tractor ride pulled both young and old up the street to the museum and to a sledding hill complete with a warming station and hot cocoa to keep you warm!

Warming station LA Snow Pine Fest

We headed over to the town hall and took Maurice up on a bowl of chili, which we did but only after checking out the locally made quilt display at the Methodist church. This was an impressive display of handmade quilts made by the women of LA.

quilt show at methodist church lake ann snow pine fest 2014

The Almira Township Hall is a historical building in the center of town with original (creaky) wood floors, worn down by many community gatherings over the years.

Almira Township Hall downtown Lake Ann in Benzie County

We enjoyed our lunch and stayed for the live entertainment. The band played a mix of bluegrass and rockabilly. They were good! I really liked his white guitar.

Bluegrass band and his white guitar


Mother Nature provided a very wintry atmosphere for the Snow Pine Fest this year. These mailboxes buried in the snow bank prove it. It can be a challenge for the mailman, so they say. And I believe it. If it wasn’t bright orange, I may not have even seen this box buried in the snow.

mailboxes in snow

At the end of the day, the people of the village of Lake Ann were warm, friendly and very welcoming.  Thanks to all who worked hard and contributed toward putting on this small town winter fest.  It seems that everyone had a great time.  I know we did. 🙂

Hay Ride Tractor in the Snow Lake Ann