Family Life

A Weekend Away

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View from our cabin

I spent the weekend in Door County WI.  My parents rented an absolutely beautiful cabin in the woods, about a half mile away from Lake Michigan.  We enjoyed some much needed time away and time together as a family.  Sadly, my son and his girlfriend could not join us and neither could my husband.  They were missed, but they were fulfilling obligations that they had at home.

We spent our first night at the cabin.  I cooked a fish dinner for all of us, ending the meal with ice cream and Door County cherry ice cream sauce.  Door County WI is famous for their cherries, so when in Rome……  I stocked up before we left on frozen cherries, cherry salsa, cherry pie filling, cherry jam and wine (not cherry).

Thankfully, although my dad would disagree, there was not access to local television.  There was a Packer game on Thursday night and he missed it.  Being a native of Green Bay, the Packer games are very important to him, even if they are having a losing streak.  Instead, we played Monopoly, something we haven’t done in years and dear old dad kicked our asses.  A win that he would not have been able to claim had the Packer game been accessible.  He proved that some things never change, his ability to win any board game is one of them.

Door County, like any tourist trap, is filled with shops of all kinds.  We spent our Friday, driving up the coast and stopping at shops at our leisure, mostly browsing, but I did buy a couple things to bring back.  We went to a wonderful fish restaurant for lunch, enjoying a bowl of whitefish chowder.  No, it does not taste like clam chowder, but to have clam chowder on the shores of Lake Michigan would not be very authentic, so whitefish it is!

Every year my mom and I take my youngest to Door Shakespeare, an outdoor theatre that performs Shakespeare in the summer.  Friday night we went again and saw the Merry Wives of Windsor.  It was a lot of fun and the play was hilarious.  They tend to modernize that plays they perform, so while they are using the play that was written, as is, they are set in modern times.  For me, that change makes them easier to follow.  Because let’s be honest, Shakespeare can be difficult to comprehend.

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Door Shakespeare Theatre

Our final full day started out with a rousing game of mini golf, another Door County staple.  Since there were 6 of us, we broke up into teams.  I learned that I am terrible at golf, of any kind.  I felt like I was doing ok until my mom told me that all but 2 of the holes were par 2.  It didn’t matter though, we had fun and laughed a lot.  Our day ended with smores in the indoor fire place.

I write about this because time with family is so important.  We get one go around on this big blue rock. We need to embrace all the time we can with those we love.  Personally, I have been trying to be more intentional with family time by accepting invitations when they come my way and by extending them.  It took me a long time to get the point in my life where I truly know that family is everything.  They are always there for you no matter what.

Recipes

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

This weekend I came up with a tasty recipe for zucchini fritters.  Fritters are an easy way to make a dent in the bounty that is summer squash season.  Folks, I am getting desperate.  I added the corn last minute because I had a leftover ear that I needed to use.  In the recipe I used parmesan cheese, but I am thinking that with the corn, cheddar might be even better.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

2 cups shredded zucchini

Corn kernels from one ear of corn

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cheese of your choice

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp garlic salt

pepper

vegetable oil

Put all ingredients in bowl and stir until mixed well.  Add vegetable oil to frying pan and heat burner to medium high, fry fritters like you would pancakes.  Cook 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through.

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Don’t let my terrible photography fool you.  These were delicious.

 

Recipes

Watermelon and Feta Salad

We recently had a lot of left over watermelon from family dinner.  I have had watermelon and feta salad and absolutely loved it, so I gave it a try.  I experimented based on several recipes I found and came up with a recipe that works best for my family.   The results were good.  My daughter thought I added too much mint and my husband felt it could use a little more.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

4 pounds watermelon, cut into bite size chunks

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup fresh mint chopped finely ( this is a matter of taste, experiment until you find what works for you)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 limes, juiced

black pepper to taste

Place watermelon in large serving bowl.  Mix olive oil, lime juice and black pepper in separate bowl. Pour dressing on watermelon, add feta, mint and mix.  The result is a refreshing summer salad.  Enjoy!

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

School is back in session in a few short weeks.  My college age kids tuition bills arrived and I paid the school fees for my high school senior.  Those fees do not include the high cost of her being in show choir.  September is going to require a little belt tightening to make up for the expensive August we are experiencing.  Here is the rundown on what we did to save money this week.

  1.  We went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire on Saturday.  I had a $5 off per person coupon.  I honestly never go to events like this without a coupon.
  2. I bought a beautiful print at the faire that needed a frame.  Kohl’s strikes again and I found the perfect frame for pennies on the dollar.
  3. We had almost 0 food waste this week. That always means leftovers, but the savings is worth it.
  4. I made zucchini bread and froze it for quick and easy breakfasts. The zucchini, eggs and honey came from my backyard.
  5. We buy our toilet paper in bulk from Amazon once every 6 months.  It comes individually packaged in paper, not plastic.  By doing this we save in packaging and since it auto ships every 6 months we get a discount.

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My Ren Faire find

 

Books

Hope Rides Again – Book Review

Last year I read the book Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shafer.  It followed Barack Obama and Joe Biden while they tried to solve the mystery of the murder of Joe’s favorite Amtrak conductor.  It was a ridiculous story in which after their time in the White House, Obama and Biden join forces to solve mysteries.  It’s an absurd concept that works for me.  I laughed out loud countless times during the first book, imagining the Joe Biden we know from the Biden memes that became so popular at the end of their term.

Hope Rides Again is the sequel to Hope Never Dies.  In this story,  Obama’s blackberry mysteriously disappears and Joe decides that he needs to solve the mystery of what happened to it.  Over a 24 hour period, on the streets of Chicago, Biden and Obama not only try to find the blackberry, but they also try to solve the attempted murder of the presumed thief.  Their adventures are hilarious and I think I laughed out loud on every page.  The infamous tan suit makes an appearance in this book and Biden has a very strong opinion of Obama’s greatest scandal.

I love these books not because of  great writing or because an important story needs to be told.  I love these books because I miss Barack Obama and for a few hours, I can imagine that he and Biden are out there, somehow making the world a better place.

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Recipes

Potato Salad

I make potato salad several times a month during the summer months.  Usually on Sundays for our family dinner.  My daughters love my salad, as do I.  Of course potato salad is not the healthiest choice, but it’s so good and goes with anything cooked on the grill.  My recipe is very easy and straightforward.

Potato Salad

3 pounds potatoes (i use either russet or red potatoes, depending on what I have)

4 hard boiled eggs

4 chopped dill pickles

1 to 1.5 cups mayo (I never, ever, ever use Miracle Whip)

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1 tsp dill

1 tsp celery seed

salt and pepper to taste

Peel and boil potatoes until you can pierce them with a fork, about 10 minutes.  While potatoes cook, chop eggs and pickles.  Drain potatoes and let cool for about 20 minutes.  Once cool add to a bowl with eggs and pickles.  Mix in mayo and mustard, add more mayo and mustard to your taste.  Add dill, celery seed, salt and pepper.  Mix together and cool until ready to serve.  I try to make this the day before because it tastes so much better the second day.

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Recipes

Pesto

My basil is beautiful this year.  My family loves pesto and we wait all year for fresh basil from the garden so that we can eat fresh pesto on our pasta at least once a week.  Saturday night, after a day at our local renaissance faire, we came home to fresh pesto pasta salad with a tossed salad and some cold rosé wine.  Here is the recipe for my pesto.

Basil Pesto

2 cups basil

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup walnuts (I was out so I used pecans for this batch)

salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and mix to desired consistency.  Mix with pasta.

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Have you noticed that the sun is rising a little bit later every morning?  Today my husband’s 5:00am alarm woke me and I was shocked to see it was dark.  Fall, while still several weeks away, is knocking on the door.  I see that with the much smaller bounty compared to years past.  Even though we are not getting as much, we are getting enough.  In fact my acorn and butternut squash are producing so much more than I ever hoped for.

Here is a list of things we did this week to save some money.

  1.  We bought 25 pounds of peaches and 10 pounds of blueberries which I have frozen for future consumption.  I will be going to Door County in 2 weeks and plan on purchasing cherries and hopefully already frozen strawberries as well.
  2. We have been taking advantage of farmer’s markets more and more, rather than going to the grocery store.  Doing this helps eliminate needless packaging and helps local farmers grow their business.
  3. My husband’s birthday was last week.  Instead of going out for dinner, I made him an Indian feast at home.  Complete with delicious samosas.
  4. Continuing with the birthday theme, instead of buying an object for my husband’s birthday, I bought an experience.  We are going to a beer themed 5 course dinner at a local restaurant in September.
  5. I started Christmas shopping already, finding gifts that I know people will like, discounted.  I hope to be done by November with the gifts already wrapped.  I am not a person who appreciates the mall and a day of power shopping.  Instead I prefer to take my time over several months.

With school starting in a few short weeks, I am prepared for our spending to drastically increase as we pay tuition, school fees and back to school clothes.  What did you do this week to save money?

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Family Life

Girls Weekend

I went to Chicago over the weekend.  My dearest friend from high school lives there and it was time for some girl time.  I can’t remember the last time the two of us had spent a moment together that didn’t include our husbands or kids.  I recall a dinner out, just the two of us after the birth of my daughter 20 years ago.  So, it’s been awhile and long overdue.  I am on the cusp of being an empty nester with my youngest starting her senior year of high school and showing little need for my constant companionship.  My husband and I have reached that stage where we love to be together, but yearn for time apart occasionally, a weekend away provided that.  Her children are at camp for 2 weeks and found that she had the house all to herself for the weekend.  I am optimistic that I will be able to take advantage of more weekends with my female friends as the years go on.

We don’t live far from Chicago.  The drive is 90 minutes if traffic cooperates and since my friend lives in the Northern suburbs, I don’t have to deal with the hell of downtown Chicago traffic.  I left late afternoon Saturday and was happily enjoying a glass of wine (or 2) on her patio by 4:15.  After a couple laughs and some really good cheese (thank you Trader Joe’s), we headed to the train station to take the train to the heart of downtown for drinks and dinner.  The weather could not have been better for an evening downtown.

We went to City Winery which is on the river, put our names on the wait list and bought a bottle of Rose.  For 45 minutes we sat on the river, wine between us and laughed and talked like we hadn’t in a couple decades.  For 24 hours we weren’t parents or wives, we were friends.   After a delicious dinner we headed to the Hancock building for yes, another glass of wine.

We went to the top of the Hancock building which is 96 stories for a very overpriced glass of wine, but an absolutely gorgeous view of the city.  While it nearly killed me to spend $16 on wine (yes that price is correct) I believe it was the cost of being able to take in that view.  From 96 stories up, we were able to see Navy Pier and the fireworks that were going off at Lollapalooza.  I took pictures, but they don’t do the view justice.  I am a terrible photographer and I do not have a phone that is able to take decent night time pictures.

We headed back to her place, via an Uber this time and turned in for the night.  After a cup of coffee and scone on Sunday, we took a walk along Lake Michigan on the Northwestern campus.  I was able to take in a couple more views of the city before heading back to my family to celebrate my husband’s birthday.  It was another fun filled weekend on the books.

As my friends and I continue to march through our 40’s and see our 50’s within a couple years, I think it is important for all of us to hold our friendships close.  So much of our early adulthood is focused on kids, spouses, jobs and just trying to pay the bills.  Our friendships ground us and remind us that we are more than a wife or mother.  We are independent of those titles.  New Year’s is still several months away, but I already know that I am going to focus of friendships more in 2020.  In fact, I think I will make that resolution now.

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Uncategorized

Frugal Friday

I missed my Frugal Friday list last week.  I had a good excuse, I spent the day with my sister in law and her kids at Cave of the Mounds in southwestern Wisconsin.  If you live in the area and have never been, put it on your bucket list, it’s an amazing place.  We had a really nice day and it was a welcome break from the overwhelming heat wave we were experiencing.  The caves are 50 degrees, it felt like heaven.  Afterwards, we stopped for lunch at a local brewpub (I bought my husband a growler, which I always do when I go brewpubs) and had a nice conversation and time with her kids.  It felt like a perfect summer day.

The garden is finally showing signs of life.  I think the combination of late spring, torrential rains and then a weird heatwave has those little plants confused.  But, I recently spotted a flower on one of my eggplant and the squash seem like they are ready to do what they do best,  provide more fruit than any family could possibly eat.  It might be a late harvest, but I do believe that we will have a respectable amount of veggies to get us by for several weeks.

We lost a hive due to whatever is getting the world’s poor little honeybees.  Eric harvested that honey and wax.  The honey will not be suitable for sale or for toast or tea.  But, it will do well in baking, beer or mead.  However, the wax is gorgeous.  I am going to be able to make at least 2 candles from it.

Now time for the Frugal Friday list.  I will roll together 2 weeks rather than one this week.

  1. My daughter is able to bring home leftover pastries from her job that have not been purchased.  We have a freezer full of breakfast foods that we have been enjoying a couple days a week.  I am so happy her employer allows them to do this rather than it going straight to a landfill.
  2. My parents gave us a gift card to a local restaurant as a thank you for watching their dog.  We used it last weekend and had a fabulous meal.
  3. My husband and daughter went to another super hero movie, paying for it with a gift card.  I think he has officially used up his movie cards with Avengers now being in the theatre.
  4. I signed up to receive dog food from chewy.com.  They mailed me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Dog food is so expensive.
  5. We did a little bit of Christmas shopping on Prime Day.  We usually buy holiday gifts from local merchants.  But, there were a couple of electronics that we wanted to purchase.

What did you do this week to save some cash?