Here’s to Adventure!

At some point in our lives, we come to the realization that our kids don’t need us as much as they used to and our parents are thankfully still in good health and independent. We are semi-retired and have more time for vacationing than we used to. One child is about to graduate from college and the other is soon leaving to pursue his musical interests on the road. So, it seems like the perfect time for Husband and I to make our own plans.

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Home is where you park it!

For years we have been fantasizing about getting a camper and going on our own adventures around the country. He introduced me to camping and I fell in love with being out in the National Parks, away from the stresses of everyday life. Well, a few weeks ago we found the perfect couple’s trailer and dove in! Last weekend we took her on her maiden voyage at a beautiful state park on Otsego Lake. IMG_0902

The weather was less than cooperative, but we had heat, electricity and indoor plumbing- much more glamorous than tent camping. In fact, if we had been confined to a tent all weekend, I would have cancelled the trip. Instead, the rain gave us an excuse to curl up with our books and still enjoy the nature views without getting cold and wet.

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We were able to get out for some walks and use the outdoor fire pit and grill in the evenings. Our dog was very compliant and didn’t go chasing after any wildlife and the three of us had a very cozy and relaxing weekend away from it all.

On our way home, we wrote down a list of minor projects to make things even better (e.g. a place to store books, a permanent trash can, an outdoor rug and shoe storage). But we couldn’t have been happier. We ate well and we were very comfortable on our real queen size bed- no more air mattresses and sleeping bags for us.

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Part of me felt like this was cheating. My late brother-in-law would have certainly called it that. He enjoyed the rugged lifestyle we shared on our camping adventures. However, as I sat inside with my book and listened to the patter of the rain on the roof, I could imagine him knocking on our door and asking if he could come in out of the chill and have a cup of tea.

We are looking forward to many more adventures this year!

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Lazy Days of Summer

We haven’t had too many days this summer that classify as lazy; but at least we managed to take a short break from our electronic devices and disconnect from the buzz of today’s busy lifestyle. My family managed to do this by reserving a spot at a campground on the remote end of a popular lake two hours from our home.

We brought our tents, sleeping bags, camp chairs, cooking accessories and two coolers full of food and beverages. We also brought our motor boat for water sports and were excited that the dogs were even able to join us.

With two teenagers, putting up the tents and getting set up was a snap.

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Within an hour we were organized enough to go on the boat for a spin. The kids tubed and we all swam in the refreshingly clean lake water- a great treat compared to the chlorine pool we have been doing our laps in all summer.

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By the time we got back to our site, we were hungry and ready to start our dinner. Luckily the local vendor with fire wood and ice came by at the right time.

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That morning my husband and I had done all the prep work for a real surprise meal on a camping trip- Fondue! We spent at least an hour dipping shrimp. pork tenderloin, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and cremini into the pot. This was accompanied by a pre-made fried rice dish that was reheated in a cast iron skillet over the fire. Who could imagine camping food could be so gourmet delicious?

After dinner, we lounged around the campfire and played charades while we digested.

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We haven’t played this game in years so we were a little rusty, but we certainly got some good laughs out of it. Afterwards we roasted marshmallows for our mandatory camping specialty- S’mores! You can’t say you have camped without putting a marshmallow on a stick over the coals, roasting it until it is dark or golden brown on the outside, yet soft and squishy inside. Then you must pair it with a piece of chocolate and smoosh them together between two graham crackers, letting the warm , mushy substance ooze over the melting chocolate as you crunch the sweet cracker sandwich in your mouth! Divine! ( see the link below if you don’t believe me)

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By the time we crashed on our air mattresses at the end of the day, we felt like we had experienced everything a camping expedition required.

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Each one of these activities slowed us down from our normal busy pace and gave us time to enjoy the experience of the moment and the joy of being together with no distractions.

Even though it only lasted 24 hours,  it was a great way to unwind and truly appreciate the lazy days that summer is supposed to bring.

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How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #3

   Tip # 3: Pretend You are Camping

My husband actually took me on my first camping trip when we were courting, so I have many fond memories from the first one. Subsequently, we took many camping trips with the children when they were young. If you are not a fan of camping, maybe this tip doesn’t work for you; but if you are- it sounds like “glamping”.

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I have my coolers filled with cheese, milk, hardboiled eggs, hummus and drinks and my propane tanks are full and ready for grilling. My outdoor dining area is eager for use (which is why redoing your kitchen in the summertime really helps the process).

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I have a second entrance to my deck from the dining room. The grill and double burners are only steps away.

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I am using the dining room table as a pantry/work area. There is a utility sink in the laundry room and I have been using paper plates and reusable plastic cutlery.

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I resisted the urge to set up my microwave; but with only a few compromises on whole grain products, I feel I am actually keeping to a healthy diet.

The coolers need a new bag of ice daily and I have to buy food in smaller, less cost-efficient portions, but overall it is similar to camping- plus the benefits of indoor flush toilets and hot showers every day. Now the only question is; “How long can I put up with this?”