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The Lake Life

Lake Michigan

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Well, howdy there. It’s so nice to see you! I’m back from my month off, and let me tell you, I feel like a whole new person! You know you love your job when at the end of your vacation, you are really excited to get back to work. And man, I am so happy to be back doing the stuff I love to do! I missed you guys!

Just like I mentioned before I left, I really took it easy over the past few weeks. I went on a lot of hikes with my family. I did a lot of grilling (and let’s be honest, margarita drinking). I did some chores around the house that I’d been putting off (like painting our kitchen cabinets—phew). I did a lot of yoga. I watched a bunch of movies. All of that was awesome and relaxing, but the best part of my time off was ten glorious days spent on the shores of Lake Michigan with the fam.

Lake Michigan

I come from a big family (I’m the youngest of four kids and we’re all married and have kids ourselves), and we’ve been trying for YEARS to coordinate a family vacation. This year, we were finally able to make it work!

It was a bit last minute—I honestly think we nabbed the last vacation house within driving distance—so the whole family couldn’t make it work (maybe next year!), but a good chunk of us filled a house on Lake Michigan last week, and oh my gosh, it was amazing. I mean, traveling with a two-year-old always has it’s stressful parts—gone are the days where I could just spend 10 hours parked in a beach chair with a book—but it was still wonderful. The weather was great! It didn’t rain once during our trip. The beach and lake were perfect. And it was SO nice to hang out with my family and let Juni play with her cousins.

Lake Michigan

I’ve talked about before how I feel a really special connection to the Great Lakes, and getting to spend over a week drinking my coffee while soaking in these views of Lake Michigan was so rejuvenating for me. (Although, my sister brought her espresso machine, and it TOTALLY RUINED ME for regular coffee—so obsessed now). I have dreams of someday owning my own place on a Great Lake (although, I worry the novelty will wear off and it won’t feel so special), but for now, I’ll just get my lake fix in small doses each year.

Lake Michigan

One of my favorite things about Indiana is that everyone outside of Indiana thinks it’s just 36,000 square miles of corn fields, but we really have the best of all worlds here. Where we live in Southern Indiana, we have the most beautiful rolling hills (which makes for some awesome, strenuous hikes).

And up in Northern Indiana, we have the BEST beaches on the Great Lakes. I’ve been to a lot of beaches on the Great Lakes, and let me tell you, none of them are nearly as amazing as the Indiana Dunes. The first time my husband (who grew up on Lake Superior in Ontario) walked on the Indiana beaches of Lake Michigan, he said to me, “why would we ever go to the ocean when this is only a few hours away?” And it’s true. Other than the water temp—it was only about 75°—you’d have no idea this wasn’t Florida. Perfect. We even had awesome boogie-boarding waves. No sharks? No jellyfish? And only four hours from my house? SOLD.

Lake Michigan

The vast majority of our vacation was spent sitting on the beach, watching the kids play in the sand, sipping cocktails, and coloring. Yes, coloring. Totally normal, right? Costco gel pens and adult coloring books, for the win.

Lake Michigan

Of course, because my family is full of people pretty much exactly like me, we did a lot of really, really good eating. We’re not really the kind of folks who go out to eat on vacation (we did go out to lunch once—to Three Floyds brewery—because when you’re within a half hour of one of the best breweries in the nation, you go). We much prefer to stick close to the house and cook together. We ate a lot of Mango Guacamole (a lot). A ton of veggies (we all brought baskets of veggies from our respective gardens at home). And we made dinner “at home” each night. I was in charge of the Low Country Boil night, and man, it was a blast. Nothing like dumping a 10 gallon pot of seafood onto a bunch of newspapers. We all ate ourselves silly.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Of course, not everything went perfectly smoothly (dude, I loathe it when people write about their vacations and make it sound like it’s all sunshine and rainbows—something ALWAYS goes wrong on vacations). The rental house wasn’t perfect—it didn’t have A/C and there were a few days in the mid-90s. The beach right in front of the house had washed away, so even though we were “lakefront,” we had to walk about a 1/4 mile down the road to access the beach. And there were a couple of days where the beaches were closed because of e. coli warnings (which is actually a normal occurrence in big bodies of water). And then there was the aforementioned toddler off her routine, but hey, we made the best of it all. There were lots of laughs, smiles, and a few family sing alongs. Especially when it was so hot we were all delirious. And now that we are looking for next year’s house, we are TRIPLE CHECKING that the house has A/C. Never again.

But every night, we had maybe the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. And my kid giggled every time her toes touched the sand. And my sister and I went through a handle of tequila in like three days. And I got to hang out with my oldest niece for a full week before she heads off to college tomorrow (tomorrow!). And I didn’t wear makeup or brush my hair or wear shoes. And my husband turned into a kid on the boogie board. And my parents couldn’t stop smiling. And, overall, it was a very, very happymaking trip. We’re all excited to go back and do it again next year (in a different house, obvi).

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

I love my job, I really do, but I also love my life. I feel like it’s so important to just stop making a living sometimes (even if it’s just for a few minutes) and focus on making a life. And now that I’ve made some great memories with my family, I’m ready to get back to that making a living part! I’m so happy to be back with you guys, and I’m so grateful every day that you let me have this amazing job. *grouphug*

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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35 Responses
  1. Katie N

    I grew up in West Michigan 30 minutes from the beach. I just got back from camping on the lake and I totally get how relaxing it can be. We are lucky it’s been so warm. The Big Lake is usually not as warm as 75 degrees. Usually it’s in the 60s.

  2. As a Northwest Indiana gal, I have to agree that we have the best beaches! My stepdad grew up on the beach in Miller (like, RIGHT on the beach, lucky guy), and when his parents died he really wanted to buy out his siblings’ shares of the house and live there, but my Mom sucks and said no. :'( Now my cousin lives a few blocks away so you just park and walk – gotta love the private beaches!

    Next time you’re up this way, we need to hang out! There’s a really good brewery/restaurant in Valparaiso (Figure 8/Eight – not sure if it’s spelled out or not). I think you’d like it! And there’s a place in either Highland or Griffith called Beer Geeks that my husband says is cool. Or Flamingo Pizza in Miller (it’s a region favorite and now my cousin’s almost husband owns it). It’d be a blast! Just sayin’ lol.

    I’m glad to have you back – I’ve missed your blog posts like crazy, but I’m glad you enjoyed your vacation!!!

  3. Mercedes L. Veray

    Enjoyed reading about your wonderfull vacation
    . I live in Puerto Rico- a small Island with expectacular beaches and lots of sports for vacationers as well as locals. This is US tewrritory and we all are American citizens.. Think of visiting us for your next vacation . I know that you can rent a beach front apartment in the Condo were I have mine ( I don,t rent mine its for family use only) Look at my pinyterest Block Welcome to Puerto Rico Cheers
    Mercedes Veray

  4. Tamie

    Thanks for sharing. The week before your vacation we were in Ocean City, Maryland. Your pictures did look like you were at the ocean. One day I’ll have to venture out West and check out The Lakes. Looks awesome.

  5. Welcome back!! We stayed at a beach house for a long weekend in June, and it made for one of my favorite, most relaxing vacations ever – something I *never* thought I would say about a trip with a toddler! So I think that will be our go-to sort of trip for the next couple of years.

    I’m too old to try to figure out how to reply or comment or whatever one does on snapchat, but I really enjoyed following your kitchen reno.

  6. Carrie

    Looks like you all had a wonderful time! I went on a similar family vacation to New Orleans this year with family sharing a huge traditional house, was fantastic.

    Curious, when in New Orleans I had my first ever “country boil” and it looked just like yours but I was pretty disappointed as it was SO spicy even my most daring family members found it too harsh. What do you flavour yours with?

    1. Cassie

      Yeah, us Notherners keep it pretty mild! I just do the boil with beer, onion, garlic, celery, bay leaves, Old Bay Seasoning, and a wee bit of Cajun seasoning (not enough to make it really spicy). Then, I put hot sauce on the table in case anyone likes it hot! 🙂

  7. Bekah

    Wow! Do you know I don’t think I’ve ever seen pictures of the Great Lakes before? People always told me they are as endless-looking as the ocean. But I never really could wrap my mind around that (living where the ocean is next door and where most lakes are more like ponds). Now I get it though, and it is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful vacation with us. And we are glad to have you back! 🙂

    1. Cassie

      I think us Midwesterners like to keep the Great Lakes as a secret to ourselves. It totally has the ocean “feel” to it—minus the salt water.

  8. So glad you had a great time away from the blog and that vacation looks and sounds wonderful! (And Juni is adorable, she has such pretty eyes)

    And what a gorgeous location, if I had such a great lake within 4 hours’ drive I wouldn’t want to go further away either! Loved looking at your photos 🙂

  9. Paula

    Boy I love your blog, Cassie. I’m just days away from a two-week holiday, myself, and today’s entry made me want to stay close to home on one of the Great Lakes. I’m up along Superior and know your husband and his family. I even have some of your cookbooks, courtesy of your wonderful mother-in-law! Your writing always puts a smile on my face. Keep up the good work!

  10. Megan

    I am a Michigan-born girl who has been transplanted in Kentucky. I love Kentucky, but I sure do miss my Great Lakes! I found myself misty-eyed reading your blog. ?

    1. Cassie

      Thank you! I think balance isn’t a destination, it’s journey—one that I think we’re all constantly trying to navigate through!

  11. This may sound like an odd question to ask on your vacay post but what type of swim diapers do you use for Juni? My twins are due in October and I have quite the stash of cloth but have never come to a decision about what to do for ‘swim time’

    1. Cassie

      We’ve used these for three summers (well, different ones, obviously, because kids grow, but same brand), and are very happy with them. We just get her two diapers and two of the matching rash guards, and they do her just fine all summer long.

      The diapers run small and the rash guards run big, so size accordingly. 🙂

      Rash Guards:

  12. Ahh! I saw my first Great Lake a few weeks ago when my work sent me to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes for training (man, being a park ranger does NOT suck sometimes… our offices ROCK) and I was completely smitten. I’m a Florida girl, and water always calls to me… but the ocean is one thing, these lakes are another. So happy you had a great vacation!

      1. Do it! It’s SUCH a gorgeous spot. Empire is the town where their visitor center is, and it’s itty bitty (one blinking stop light for the win!) but Glen Arbor and Glen Haven are more populous and just as pretty. There are big lakes and little lakes all around it, with houses scattered along. If winter wasn’t so rough up there, this Florida girl would never have come home.

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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