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I'm Nicole. I am a wife, mother, shop owner on Mackinac Island, and lover of handmade. The little things and little moments inspire me. Follow me on my blog as I write about shop news, my travels, island life and motherhood.
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little luxuries

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

Shot from Eat Yourself Skinny

I made and shared this recipe last year, but it’s SO good I had to share it again for fall. It’s the perfect fall recipe that the whole family will enjoy! 

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells from the blog Eat Yourself Skinny 

INGREDIENTS

20 jumbo pasta shells

For The Filling:

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree

1 cup grated pecorino cheese

1 large egg white

2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced

Pinch salt and pepper

For The Marinara:

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup chicken broth

¾ cup crushed tomatoes

¾ cup pumpkin puree

2 Tbsp pecorino cheese

2 tsp. fresh sage, minced

½ tsp. basil

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup pecorino cheese (for topping at the end)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook pasta shells according to the package instructions, until al dente, and drain. Rinse with cold water and arrange on a baking sheet to cool until ready to stuff.

To make the filling, mix together pumpkin, pecorino cheese, egg white, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl until all incorporated and set aside.

To make the marinara, drizzle olive oil in a large skillet and saute garlic until fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin, pecorino cheese, sage, basil, nutmeg and salt mixing well until everything is combined. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to medium/low, cover and allow sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes. This is when you can stuff your shells.

Using a pastry bag (or a spoon), fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of filling.

In a 9" x 13" baking dish, spread about ¾ths of the marinara in the bottom of the dish and arrange shells on top. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.

Remove foil, sprinkle with additional pecorino cheese and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until hot/bubbly and cheese is melted.

Top with remaining sauce and serve!

This is a recipe that I loved making  every fall! I made it last week and the whole family loved it! Happy Fall, I hope you enjoy it! 

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Lavender Hill Farms

One of our favorite places to go as a family is Lavender Hill Farm, in Boyne City.  It is one of the largest lavender farms in the entire state of Michigan, boasting 25 varieties of lavender. 
Lavender Hill Farms
Doud Boys
They have walking trails that will take you through the fall foliage which we did with the boys just a few weeks ago. It was so beautiful to see all the leaves changing. The trail is longer than a mile, but you can turn around at any point you want and head back.
Lavender Hill FarmsLavender Hill Farms
Lavender Hill Farms
One of my favorite parts of Lavender Hill Farm is their boutique shop. It’s filled with so many lavender goodies, such as spa products or a lavender treat to eat! Almost all of the products are made by local artists and women owned companies. We love supporting local whenever we can! Their dried lavender bunches are some of my favorites. The purple color makes such a pretty display piece and the smell is so calming. They sell candles, spas, sachets, lavender lemonade and so much more! 
Lavender Hill Farms
I hope that you have a chance to make it to Lavender Hill Farm sometime soon! 

 

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With how busy this season is, I find that having staple, go-to meals is perfect for making sure that everyone eats as a decent hour and making sure that it’s easy for me!

Here are three hearty and healthy fall meals I keep on constant rotation in our home!

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells: This recipe is from Eat Yourself Skinny and can be found here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells

For The Filling:

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • Pinch salt and pepper

For The Marinara:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp pecorino cheese
  • 2 tsp. fresh sage, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup pecorino cheese (for topping at the end)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta shells according to the package instructions, until al dente, and drain. Rinse with cold water and arrange on a baking sheet to cool until ready to stuff.
  3. To make the filling, mix together pumpkin, pecorino cheese, egg white, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl until all incorporated and set aside.
  4. To make the marinara, drizzle olive oil in a large skillet and saute garlic until fragrant. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin, pecorino cheese, sage, basil, nutmeg and salt mixing well until everything is combined. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to medium/low, cover and allow sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes. This is when you can stuff your shells.
  5. Using a pastry bag (or a spoon), fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of filling.
  6. In a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, spread about 3/4ths of the marinara in the bottom of the dish and arrange shells on top. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove foil, sprinkle with additional pecorino cheese and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until hot/bubbly and cheese is melted.
  8. Top with remaining sauce, serve and enjoy!

 

Mini Chicken Pot Pies: This recipe is from One Little Project and can be found here.

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup chopped leftover chicken or 1 small fresh chicken breast, fully cooked.
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup mixed frozen vegetables peas, carrots, corn and green beans, defrosted
  • 1 package refrigerated biscuit dough

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Combine the chicken, mixed vegetables and cream of chicken soup in a medium bowl and stir well.
  • Separate each of the biscuits and place them into the compartments of a greased muffin tin.
  • Using your fingers, push down on the dough starting in the middle, then working the dough up the sides of each of the muffin compartments, as high as it will go.
  • Add the filling to each of the compartments (approximately 2 Tablespoons each).
  • Bake at 375F for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Notes

You can substitute the refrigerated biscuit dough for refrigerated crescent roll dough if you prefer. Just cut out circles or squares of the dough to put in the muffin tin. Biscuit dough gives it a salty and firm texture. Crescent roll dough will give it a sweeter and softer texture.

 

Chicken Noodle Casserole:

This recipe is from Kleinworth & Co. and can be found here.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 2 large chicken breasts- cooked & shredded about 2 cups of shredded chicken- leftovers are great for this or rotisserie chicken
  • 1 15.25 oz can whole kernel corn - drained
  • 1 15 oz can no salt sweet peas - drained
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 22.6 oz can cream of chicken condensed soup
  • 1 tbsp minced onions
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup french dried onions

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray- set aside
  • Cook noodles to package directions (usually boil for 6-8 minutes) drain & place in a large bowl
  • Add in cooked chicken, corn, peas, condensed soup, milk, minced onions, granulated garlic, cheese & bacon bits
  • Fold to combine & transfer to prepared baking dish
  • Top with french fried onions
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until bubbling & hot throughout
  • **Note: per reader feedback I do not advise substituting the egg noodles with another kind, such as elbow macaroni. Those tend to soak up more of the moisture & leave the casserole dry.

 

Let me know what you think of these recipes and what recipes you keep on hand for the busy fall days!

Pictures are from their respective websites. 

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A few weeks ago on social media, I did a fun Q + A! These were questions submitted by Instagram followers and I wanted to share my answers here for those who do not have Instagram! 
Doud Boys
Where are your boys starting school? The boys go to school at St. Francis in Petoskey! 
Fort Mackinac
What’s October like on Mackinac? How late does stuff (hotels, the fort, stay “open”?  Weekends in October are normally very busy. This fall, we are not sure what it will be like. Most of the hotels and Fort Mackinac are closing October 25th. Personally, I think Fall is a great time to visit!
Mackinac at Sunset
What area of the island do you live in? And do you live there year round?  We live close to town and we do not live here year round anymore. We spend half the year in Petoskey. We lived on the island for ten years and my husband is from the island. We love Mackinac and Petoskey.
Mackinac Island
Do the island crowds seem to be normal sized this year? The crowds seem very similar to past years. Some days are slower and some are busier. We are very thankful for the business this summer and for everyone who still decided to visit Mackinac Island.
Mackinac Bath & Body
What’s your favorite product in the shop? There’s a lot that I love! But to narrow it down to one item or product line, it would be the Mackinac Bath and Body line. I love the hand cream and room / body spray. 
Mackinac Island
What led you to opening a shop on the island? Such a dream! The opportunity came back in 2009. I was looking for a “career” on the island. The storefront was for lease so I jumped on it and took the risk. It was the best decision. It’s been a fun, adventurous ride. 
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Fall in Petoskey
During the fall we move back to Petoskey for the boys to attend school, while Andrew and I commute back to the island for work! It makes things even crazier than normal, but we love staying busy!
I wanted to share a few of our Petoskey Fall Favorites:
Pond Hill Farm is located a little north of Harbor Springs and is so fun to visit in the fall! They have a pumpkin launcher, animals to see, hayrides, pumpkin patch and more! It’s the perfect family friendly outing for you and your kids on a fall afternoon!
Apple Town in Brutus, Michigan, a little north of Petoskey on the way to Mackinaw City is another fun family spot to visit this fall! Stop in for fresh apple cider and the best apple donuts! You won’t be disappointed with their hayrides and corn mazes! 
North Perk: You know how much I love a good chai tea latte! Pre-Covid, I loved to pack up my office work and head down to North Perk to sip on my latte while getting stuff done! Now it’s just a quick pop-in and then heading back to my home office with my chai tea latte.
Little Traverse Wheelway: We love this biking / walking path along Lake Michigan that is right in Petoskey! It’s great to head down to there after school to go for a walk or bike ride and maybe stop at the park to  burn some energy from sitting still at school all day! It’s so nice to walk along the Wheelway during fall to see all the colors changing!
Petoskey Pretzel: The boys love Petoskey Pretzel for a salty treat! The pretzels are always fresh and so tasty!
Next time you are in Petoskey, especially during fall, be sure to visit some of these favorites and let me know what you think!
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