Family Life

Bumps In The Road

The last several weeks have proven to be difficult.  Without getting into a lot of detail, my family is dealing with a serious medical issue.  I have been away from my home and family a lot the last several weeks.  It has been difficult at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My kids are older and self sufficient.  They don’t need me to be around all the time, so leaving is not a problem.   I am blessed beyond measure that my employer has worked with me every step of the way in making sure that I have all the time off that I have needed, without hesitation.  If you don’t have an employer like that, find one.  It makes a terrible situation just a little bit less terrible.  My husband has been a rock star.  He has taken care of everything at home off and on for the last several weeks.  Thank you.

We need a furnace!  Apparently modern furnaces are expected to last 15 years.  When the HVAC guy said “you need a furnace” my response was “we just got a new furnace.”  No, actually we bought a new furnace 15 years ago.  Proof yet again at how fast time goes by because I had it in my head that the furnace was only 5-7 years old.   I honestly think that those things are set to die on a predetermined date.  It makes no sense to me that in the age we live in a furnace can’t have a longer life.  Regardless, we had days that were actually 26 degrees below 0 last winter, so a new furnace it is.  I will end this by saying furnaces sure are expensive.

We have had A LOT OF RAIN.  Our lawns are completely saturated and what remains has no where else to go.  The gloom is starting to get to me, as I would love to be able to get outside and enjoy autumn.  It starting to feel like that will never happen, there is more rain in the forecast.  When it is this wet outside, it just feels gross to be outside.

I sound like I am complaining a lot and I shouldn’t.  Life is good.  My kids are healthy, I have a great job, a great spouse and not to mention a great dog:) . But sometimes it feels like things are a bit harder than they need to be and I have been that way for a few weeks.  I need a serious attitude adjustment and hope that can happen soon.

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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.

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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Family Life

Early Morning Treat

I woke up earlier than I usually do this morning.  Because I start work a bit later than most people, I have the luxury of sleeping in  most mornings.  I have considered myself lucky, but I do miss those early mornings to savor a cup of coffee while the house is still quiet.  Most nights I commit to waking up earlier the next morning, but I rarely follow through.

This morning was different for some reason.  I woke up at 6:00 when I heard my husband getting ready for work.  So, I pulled myself out of bed to let the dogs out and start a pot of coffee. What a treat that was.  It was a beautiful morning.  Summer is finally here, the proof was in the dew that I walked through as I took my dog out for her morning potty break.

After my husband and daughter went to work, I brought the dogs with me to our front porch.  With a book and cup of coffee in hand I took advantage of a quiet morning before going to work.  I really need to go back to my early bird schedule, the morning has so much to offer.

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Early morning game of catch with Luna

Family Life, Recipes

Mushroom and Boursin Cheese Omelette

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Watt’s Tea Room was a Milwaukee monument for over 100 years.  Watt’s was a  restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and tea on the top floor of the shop it was part of.  The store sells china and crystal and I can’t think of a time that we were there that we didn’t see a mother and daughter there, picking out patterns for a wedding registry.  On December 31, 2016 the tea room  closed it’s doors, bringing the end of an era.  My daughters and I were there on the last day for one last meal and to say goodbye.  Watt’s Tea Room was an annual tradition for us, we would go for lunch the Saturday before they went back to school.  The food was good, I am not so sure that it was amazing, but it was good.  For me, it was more about being part of the history of our city.  Everyone knew about Watt’s Tea Room and almost everyone I knew had either been there with their mother or daughter at least once.

One of my favorite meals was their mushroom and boursin cheese omelette.  When the store closed, my first thought was “oh no, that omelette”, I feared I would never eat one again.  I have since tried to replicate it at home and I believe I am close.  When I serve that omelette, I am sure to have big, thick english muffins on hand, as Watt’s was famous for their english muffins.  Here is my attempt to recreate that recipe.

Mushroom and Boursin Cheese Omelette

2 eggs

1 tbsp half and half

2 oz mushrooms

splash of white wine (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

garlic and herb boursin cheese (to taste)

Whisk eggs and half & half.  Heat olive oil in pan, once heated add sliced mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.  Add white wine for extra flavor.  Once mushrooms are cooked, remove from pan and add butter and melt.  Add eggs, once firm add mushrooms and cheese. Note, boursin cheese is very flavorful, you don’t need a lot.  Fold into an omelette, garnish with additional mushrooms and cheese.

Family Life, Recipes

Weekend Thoughts

Another weekend on the books, and it was a fabulous one at that.  I am on a rotating schedule with my job, so over the summer I have a 4 day weekend more often than not.  This allows for more family time in the summer, which I try to take full advantage of.  I am considering this last weekend as my official summer kick off.  I was fortunate enough to be able to see Paul McCartney perform at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.  I went with my mom and my 21 year old son and we had, for lack of a better word, a blast.  Paul McCartney might be in his 70’s, but he performs like a man half his age.  The show was amazing, the music iconic and the atmosphere was perfect.  I told my son everyone needs to see at least one arena concert in their lifetime, he hit the jackpot.  I have memories with my mom and son that I will carry forever.  It was the perfect example of why I prefer to spend money on experiences, not things.  Experiences stay with you for a lifetime.   I am still singing Hey Jude in my head and I wouldn’t have it any other way.IMG_0004

Pre show at Lambeau

I learned a valuable lesson on Sunday about the importance of keeping an adequate supply of food in my house.  Sunday family dinners have become a tradition in my home.  More Sundays than not, all 3 kids are home for dinner.  Sometimes all the boyfriends/girlfriend are also eating with us.  Last night turned into a dinner where we had almost everyone.  I had planned for a dinner for 5 which turned into 7.  I was only planning on pasta salad and kale salad.  Thankfully, I had a frozen pizza in the freezer that we were able to add to dinner, and voila, I had enough for everyone.

I want everyone to know that dinner on Sundays in my house is open to everyone. For that to happen, I need to be better organized for big meals that may need to get bigger at a moment’s notice.  Impromptu dinners are the best kind because the mood can never be replicated and that is what makes them so much fun.

Here is the recipe for the pasta salad that I made last night.  It was a hit.

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Greek Pasta Salad

1 lb pasta

8 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts

8 oz roasted red peppers

2 oz sun dried tomatoes (not in oil)

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped red onion

4 oz crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp  oregano

1 tsp basil

salt and pepper to taste