Friday, July 25, 2014

An Afternoon Walk




It was the kind of afternoon that you just have to take advantage of every summer. The kind of weather that doesn't come around often in July, but was that perfect blend of blue skies, puffy white clouds and mild temperatures. The perfect day for venturing out from my usual path and taking a walk by the river.



This path by the river runs very close and changes scenery as you follow along. There is grass along the edges in spots and then beautiful flowers will begin to appear.



The further you venture along the path, away from the crowds, the more wild looking the river becomes. Would you believe this is all found just minutes from a bustling downtown?



My puppy, the best walking buddy around, was brave enough this time, to walk right to the edge of the shore and take a sip of the crystal, clear water.

Walking is therapeutic for me; both physically and mentally. I walk every day, rain or shine and am lucky to have beautiful trails in my neighborhood that do give me variety. But, sometimes, jumping in the car and exploring new sights on a beautiful summer afternoon can be just what the doctor ordered :-)

Have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just the Girls




We have always set aside a morning or afternoon, while on vacation, to find a place to do a little shopping; just the girls on the trip. This year's vacation was no exception and we discovered a delightful little side street with some unique shops, in the town of Oscoda, nestled right on the shores of Lake Huron.



There were shops surrounded by blooming flowers, benches and chairs designed for taking a rest and just down the street, a gorgeous view of the lake.



The shops contained the kinds of things I like to purchase when I'm on vacation. There were local crafts and many items unique to the area. There were the cutest pillows stitched with gingham letters, naming all the lakes in the area; perfect for cottage decor. I came home with a scented candle and some homemade apple butter; both in pretty mason jars.

Discovering new things while on vacation is always fun and the fact that this lovely side street was an unexpected find, made it even more special.

Happy Wednesday!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Low Sugar Cherry Coffee Cake



Michigan cherries are in season and if you are lucky enough to be in the Traverse City area, baskets full can be found in abundance at every farm stand. You will also see cherry trees as far as the eye can see, since that area of northern Michigan produces 75% of the word's cherries.



To celebrate Michigan cherry season, I decided to make something using this beautiful and delicious fruit that would show off its vibrant color and taste. I found an old Martha Stewart Living recipe for Cherry Coffee Cake that I have adapted to suit my needs, by making a couple of changes. Instead of using tart cherries, I am using sweet Michigan cherries and as usual, to fit my diabetic standards, I have used Splenda white baking sugar, as well as Splenda brown sugar, for the crumb topping.



The sweet cherry taste was a perfect coffee cake flavor and this would be pretty enough to serve when entertaining. Fresh, local, in season fruit, makes any recipe better!


Low Sugar Cherry Coffee Cake

For the topping:

4 T butter, melted

3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup Splenda baking sugar

1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened

3/4 cup Splenda baking sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup low fat milk

2 cups sweet cherries, pitted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9 inch round baking pan, dust with flour and tap out excess.

In a medium bowl, stir together topping ingredients; butter, flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon. Set topping aside.

In another medium bowl, using mixer, cream butter and sugar, until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and milk. Beat until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and smooth with spatula. Dot top with cherries and sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake until golden and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool before cutting. Enjoy!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Two Lakes




In Michigan there are two kinds of lakes; inland lakes and of course, the Great Lakes. On my recent vacation with my extended family, I experienced a little of both.



It was a different vacation for me, a causality of an empty nest, with the added problem of a husband who had important meetings at work, he couldn't miss. So, it was just me, setting out on this trip to northern Michigan to join my parents, sister's family and brother's family at a cottage, near Lake Huron.



It was a quiet vacation and very relaxing. The weather was cool, rainy and alternated sun and clouds within minutes. Not exactly boating weather, but we took advantage of the time to read, shop, play cards and explore the many unique shoreline landscapes of Lake Huron. We cooked delicious meals at our cottage and I made breakfast for the whole group one morning that included strawberry shortcake waffles, with lots of whipped cream.



As is our tradition, we ended each day with a happy hour by the shore of the lake. On the last night, this lovely sunset gave us photo opportunities galore, as the clouds reflected on the lake. I missed my husband and daughters, but was thankful for the time spent with aging parents and nephews and nieces, all grown up. There were memories of other trips when the cottage was filled with small children and chaos and fun ensued daily. There are new memories to be made now; different, but just as special.

Happy Monday!


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