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

April 8, 2022

Easy Taco Chili

Photo from Eating on A Dime

I made this awesome recipe from Eating on a Dime last night and everyone loved it! 

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (browned and drained)
  • 1 can Black Beans (15 oz can) Rinsed and Drained
  • 1 can Kidney Beans (15 oz can) Rinsed and Drained
  • 1/2 Onion Chopped
  • 1 cup Corn
  • 2 can Crushed Tomatoes (14 oz. cans)
  • 1/2 cup Salsa
  • 2 Tbsp Taco Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 cups Water

This is super easy to make! These are all the ingredients, and then you just throw it all in the crock post for 6-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high!

Add your favorite taco toppings and eat up! 

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I have wanted to visit the Mall of America since I was in the eighth grade. I finally made that happen with our family last week over spring break! We drove through the Upper Peninsula along US-2 and stayed the night in Green Bay, WI. It was a four hour drive from the Mackinac Bridge to Green Bay. It didn't feel like four hours, maybe because the drive along US-2 is so pretty along Lake Michigan. I had never driven through Escanaba and Gladstone and all those little towns along US-2. We stayed at Tundra Bay Lodge in Green Bay which was right by Lambeau Field. We were planning to all do a tour of Lambeau Field, but Louie wasn't feeling great and we knew Johnny wouldn't last through an hour and a half tour. So Tommy and Andrew were the lucky ones to experience the field and get the tour. They LOVED it! Andrew was so excited after the tour! We highly recommend doing a tour. It was $75 for two people for an hour and a half tour and totally worth it. 
We then continued our drive to Bloomington, MN where the Mall of America is located. It was four hours from Green Bay to MOA. We passed over the Mississippi River and lots of farmland. The drive again, was really easy. I hoped to stop at Door County because it was only 45 minutes from Green Bay. Maybe next time! I didn't think the boys would love strolling the town and looking at shops! Ha!
We stayed at the Marriott Hotel connected to MOA. They had a small pool (no hot tub) and a restaurant for breakfast and dinner. We loved the hotel and so nice it was connected to the mall. 
We explored the mall Saturday evening and the boys were in awe at the amusement park section of the mall. They had roller coasters, rides, food stands, and more! We paid $75 I think for so many points to ride the rides. It was definitely enough for us. They had things for toddlers too which was really nice. It was very busy, I'm sure because of a weekend and spring break. We never made it into the Legoland store because the line was wrapped around the store. We visited the aquarium which was really fun! Something we didn't know is you can't just buy tickets and go in. We had to buy tickets from our phones (online) and then reserve a time to go. We had to wait two hours before the next slot was open. 
The restaurants all had long wait times as well. I recommend making reservations in advance if you want to eat inside the mall. Wait times were from 1-3 hours. Since the wait times were so long we opted to eat in the food court area. I don't recommend that. Service was very bad and it was dirty. 
We really did not go into many stores. We did hit up Old Navy and got the boys some summer clothes and I bought myself a pair of overalls I have been wanting for awhile and they were half off! We left the mall at 3pm Saturday and then switched to a different hotel located downtown to try something new. It was called the Hewing Hotel. It was really neat! Industrial and built in 2016. 
If we make another trip to the mall we will make reservations in advance for restaurants and stay at the Marriott again. If you plan on going in the future, I hope it's a great trip! It is something fun to experience especially since malls are not as popular these days. 
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Visiting Mackinac Island for the first time can have many unknowns. Which ferry do we take? Do we bring our own bikes or rent them? Do we stay on the island or just for the day? Do we pack a lunch or eat out? 
Since living on Mackinac since my first summer in 2006 and now living here with kids I have learned a lot over the years. If you are making the trip to Mackinac Island with kids this summer below are a few of my suggestions that I have found work best for our family. 
1. Dress in layers. You never know what the weather will be like once you are on the island. It could be sunny and warm in Mackinaw City or St. Ignace and by the time you get to the island it is chilly and cloudy. It's not fun with kids not having enough warm clothes with you! 
2. If you plan to ride bikes throughout the island and most of your time while on Mackinac, I recommend bringing your own bikes. If you want to ride a bike only for a few hours I recommend renting them. All the bike rentals on the island are great! 
3. Do we eat out or pack a picnic? This is totally up to you and your family. Personally, I would grab to-go items at Doud's Market and eat in Marquette Park or ride bikes and pick a picnic table along the way. If you are not wanting the restaurant atmosphere The Doghouse is also a good option for families across from The Windermere Hotel. There is a large grassy area with picnic tables right on the water. The kids love throwing rocks in the water or flying kites. If you do want to eat in a restaurant Pink Pony is the iconic restaurant on the water side and Mary's Bistro is great with a family as it is spacious, options to eat outside or inside and great food! 
4. When visiting, make sure you get off of Main Street and see what beautiful Mackinac Island has to offer. There is so much more than just Main Street! 
5. If you want the full Mackinac experience staying overnight is highly recommended. Once the last ferry leaves it is peaceful and quiet along Main Street. When you visit just for the day it is difficult to fit it all in. Staying overnight allows you to relax more and fit it all in. If staying overnight just isn't an option, I do recommend staying til the last ferry leaves and there are many campsite options on the mainland close by as well. 
I hope these 5 tips help plan your next visit to Mackinac Island! Stop in and say hello! 
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I love going to Pinterest to find tasty and easy recipes to make when I'm in a rut! Since it's the new year, I've been looking for easy, but delicious week night meals to make! I want to be able to feed our entire family great and healthy meals - even when we are on a time crunch. 

Chicken Fajitas Bake from Seeking Good Eats


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 (4 to 6 oz ) boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts,  1" to 2" pieces. If using pre-cooked chicken, you will need about 5 to 6 cups.
  • 4 bell peppers, sliced (vary the colors to make it pretty! I used green, yellow, red, and orange)
  • small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 recipe of Fajita Seasoning Recipe or Copycat Taco Seasoning Mix Recipe (feel free to use store-bought packets if you're short on time)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • optional: sour cream, avocado slices or guacamole, cilantro, and salsa. Don't forget hot sauce for the spicy lovers!


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In an oven proof skillet, over medium heat, saute the chicken in olive oil until the chicken is done. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. Add onions and peppers and saute until tender, (approximately 3 to 5 minutes depending upon your preference). 
  3. Add chicken back to the pan and stir in the fajita seasoning, sour cream, and cream cheese. Mix well.
  4. Sprinkle the top with cheese and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. 

This recipe + picture are from Seeking Good Eats. 


Taco Lasagna Recipe


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 green pepper finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups tomato sauce plain, no salt added (400ml)
  • 1 3/4 cups mild chunky salsa (400ml) or hot
  • 12 Catelli Express Lasagne Noodles
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sour cream, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, etc, for serving as desired


  • In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef, green pepper and onion until beef is browned and vegetables have softened (10-15 minutes).
  • Add the taco seasoning, garlic and salt and cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and salsa, and cook over medium-heat for 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13″ pan. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan, then top with 3 lasagna noodles. Top with ¼ of the remaining sauce, and 1 cup of cheese. 
  • Repeat layers 3 more times for 4 layers total. End with remaining sauce and cheese on top.
  • Just before baking, carefully pour ¼ cup water around the edges of the noodles in the pan (not on top of the cheese) — this will help to cook the noodles and keep the lasagna moist! Spray a piece of tin foil with non stick spray and place (spray side down) on the lasagna. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  • Uncover the lasagna and bake 8-10 more minutes, until thickened and bubbly and cheese has browned slightly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

This recipe + picture are from The Recipe Rebel.

Mediterranean Nachos


  • 4 pita pocket bread sliced into 8 triangles each
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas drained and rinsed, pat dry
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil + more for drizzle
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 medium cucumber diced small
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes julienned (I like the ones in oil and I just dab off the oil before using)
  • 1/2 cup banana peppers sliced
  • 1 small shallot thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup feta crumbles
  • 2-3 green onions sliced for garnish (I use white and green parts)
  • 2-3 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped for garnish
  • Hummus & Tazatziki Sauce for serving 


  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and spread pita triangles across. Drizzle olive oil lightly across the pita bread, along with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. 
  • On a second baking sheet, spread out the rinsed and dried chickpeas. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, tossing each halfway through.  Check for desired crispiness and remove from oven.
  • Meanwhile, prepare toppings and dips, if making homemade.
  • When the pita chips come out of the oven, transfer them to a serving tray/plate (or just leave them on the tray!). Top pita slices with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, banana peppers, shallot slices, and feta crumbles.
  • If desired, put the nachos back in the oven for 3-5 minutes if you want the toppings to be warm, too. Garnish with green onion and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with hummus and/or tzatziki sauce.

This Recipe + Picture are from Fork in the Kitchen

It’s a new year and I’m sure you’re craving some healthier newer dishes! I hope you enjoy these meals. Let me know what you think! 

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My Christmas Bucket List Blog included a movie marathon!
Here are the top movies that I want to watch this Christmas season! The boys helped me make the list with a few of their favorites and then I included a few of mine - like Holidate! Such a cute romantic movie for the holidays!
I’d love to hear what your top movies are to watch during the holiday season! Head over to my Instagram to let me know!
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