This was our second annual trip to the lake house for Thanksgiving week. It is the perfect way to get into the mood for the upcoming holidays. This time, besides our parents, our very good friends Ryan and Delroy took the 15 hour journey from New Jersey in order to join us. They also brought their new puppy Luca so that made 5 doggies!.

We decided to arrive on Monday with two of our four dogs - our newest member Penny, and Millie who are already best buds, so that everything would be ready for the road-weary guests. Our parents would be taking both Loui and Charlie the next day in their car so that we could at least fit a few items of clothing into ours besides everything else that is needed for a week-long trip. (We can’t even imagine once we have kids about how much stuff we will need to pack!)

Tuesday morning we got up early and headed down to Traverse City to stop by some of our favorite local spots + do our Thanksgiving shopping. We always make a point to stop at BLK \ MRKT Coffee Roaster and Cafe!

Not only is their coffee delicious, but they have some of the most delicious savory pastries. We each enjoyed an iced latte & a pastry of our choice. Before stopping at the grocery store, we stopped and took some photos around Traverse City.

Once we got home, it started lightly snowing, to add to the picture-perfect scene, and everyone arrived later that day. Since we are famous for our delicious cheese tray, we readied that before anyone arrived. The huge stone fireplace was lit and that along with a few glasses of wine set the mood for the upcoming days.

Wednesday, like everyone else in America, was our holiday meal prep day. We decided to start the day off with a hearty breakfast which included French toast, bacon, sausage and eggs. We have always made Cranberry Nut Bread for Thanksgiving, however, we were normally too stuffed from all the choices and didn’t have room for it. We might nibble a piece at the meal, however, we even more love it made into French Toast the following morning. This year we decided to break with tradition and have it the day before which was a hit!

The recipe that is on the back of the Ocean Spray Fresh Cranberries bag is great, and since you need to buy cranberries you will have it included, however, our family changed a few things to make it our own and you might want to change it as well:

Greased Loaf Pan – 350 degrees for approximately 55 minutes


2 cups of all purpose flour

1 cup of sugar

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

Stir in

¾ cup of orange juice (my aunt changed this to half a cup of frozen orange concentrate along with ¼ cup of water because it made the bread even orangier!)

2 T vegetable oil (we prefer 3 T melted butter)

1 T orange peel

1 beaten egg

Then Stir in

1 ½ cups of fresh or frozen chopped cranberries

½ cup of chopped nuts

We also add a pinch of cinnamon and ginger and a few tablespoons of candied orange peel. We like to top it with a streusel mixture of oatmeal, brown sugar, a bit of flour and melted butter.


-If you like bigger chunks of the streusel topping, just chill the mixture first before adding it to the top. Once the butter hardens again it will create bigger size crumbs.

-If you slice the bread and let it dry out overnight or even toast it prior to turning it into French Toast, it will hold up to the egg mixture much better.

After the big breakfast we all resisted taking a nap. Instead we watched all of the pups running outside and having total freedom to go as fast and almost as far as they could. Watching them chase each other and jump and romp through area was priceless. They were all exhausted (and a bit dirty) afterwards.

Then the real holiday meal prep began. We made the sausage stuffing and the veggie stuffing, the roasted vegetable tray, and two cranberry sauces, one cooked and one uncooked. (Why do we make two kinds of stuffing and cranberry sauce??? Since this is the best meal of the year, we try to accommodate everyone’s preferences.) We all enjoy being in the kitchen and cooking together. The kitchen at the lake is so well stocked and comfortable that we usually hang out there anyway.

On Thursday we got the turkey in the oven, the roux and gravy ready and finalized the vanilla three layer cake with raspberry puree, marzipan layered in, and a cream cheese and heavy whipped cream icing. As can be expected, we all were overserved both food and cocktails. Need I say more?

Friday morning we went to our favorite coffee shop in Traverse City again, and also to our favorite home store for candles etc. If you are up in Traverse City, be sure to stop by The Candle Factory, and say hi to our buddy Hans! He is always so helpful both at the Candle Factory + their sister company Home Elements where we get our seasonal supply of napkins, a gift or two and inevitable some other odds and ends for entertaining. Afterwards we went to Art’s Tavern for lunch. It’s a local hangout about 5 minutes away. It’s one of those places that is perfect to spend time with family and friends at any time of year, and we never miss an opportunity to go there when we are in the area. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and being a bit sad that the time had gone by so quickly and we had to leave the next day.

The week was perfect. We are so glad that this has become a true tradition and many memories were made. We are grateful Lauren's grandparents, Howie and Diane, for providing the family with such a wonderful retreat!

We hope that your holiday was wonderful and memorable as well!

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