Monday, November 7, 2011

Julia Child Night 2011

Our 3rd Annual Julia Child Night 2011 has come and gone. I think Lisa and I have created a fun tradition.  Lisa captured the evening and posted it on her blog earlier today. You can read it by clicking here.

Our menu this year was inspired from a Julia cookbook I've had in my library for 25 years. Appropriately, she titled her menu

A Menu Inspired By Julia Child

Assorted Cheese and Olives
Olive Tapenade and Crackers
French 75

Consommé Parisienne
Bread Sticks

Honey-Roasted Pear Salad with Thyme Verjus Dressing

Pickled Red Cabbage Slaw
Dinner Rolls

Apple Crisp
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

The living room became a dining room for the evening. It was a "bring your own chair" event.

We had lots of good help. Nick and Ellen enjoyed a quiet moment before the crowd arrived. Ellen is already wearing the required's a tradition!!!

Another tradition is enjoyed by our youngest generation. They know right where we store some of Suzanne and Nick's old toys. Remind me next year to hide that "construct your own musical instrument" toy before the event. Seriously, these grand nephews are the best kids ever!

While the kids played in the laundry room, the adults mixed it up before dinner in the family room. It was standing room only!

Lisa and I are ready to start our meal. Is everyone seated?

The apron Lisa gave me is the most feminine clothing item I own! 

Enough with the explaining, Barb and Lisa, let's eat!!!

The beef consommé was worth all of the effort and time to prepare. Thanks, Julia, for your wonderful directions!

I really did make "cassoulet for a crowd." We served twenty-one, but I made enough for thirty. I am Val's daughter, you know!

Matthew enjoyed the homemade ice cream his mom, Julie, brought. And, the apple and pear crisp his Aunt Lisa and Grandma Marlys made. It baked in our oven while we ate the main course. Yum!!!

Can you tell we had a fun evening? 

We already have ideas for next year. We're thinking everyone should consider French stripes and berets!
I'll talk to you again sooner or later!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Barn Burner BBQ

Paul and I traveled last weekend with our cabin on wheels to Libertyville, Illinois,

to work with our nephew Chad as he competed in

a KCBS sanctioned contest. Chad arrived at Lamb's Farm on Friday morning to set up and get organized and we got there in the early afternoon. We were challenged with a brisk, cold and blustery wind all weekend. We had to batten down the hatches so things didn't blow across Lake Michigan!!!! Paul and I returned to the warmth of our camper Friday night while poor Chad stayed at the contest site and braved the cold to tend the smokers.

When we returned on Saturday morning, there was a smoky haze over the contest cooking area.

The place was hopping. There were 57 teams from across the United States in the competition.

My favorite part of the event was spending time bonding with my nephew.

He is a master chef, let me tell you. He cooked six racks of ribs, two briskets and two pork shoulders for the contest.

He also did chicken thighs

and chicken breasts.

Once the turn in times started, we were all busy preparing the boxes. First turn in was chicken. Wow, believe me, it was so good!!!!

He placed tenth in chicken, which is fantastic in a contest with that many teams!!!

Next turn in was ribs. He used Berkshire for the first time and they were fantastic. I thought they were perfect. I am NOT being biased, either. We are certified judges, you know!!!!

Next turn in was pork shoulder. Again, extremely good, I must say. So moist.

And last was brisket. Chad understands how to smoke a brisket. His tasted fantastic on Saturday.

I can only imagine your mouth is watering as you look at these pictures. Everything tasted as good as it looks. There was lots left for us to sample!


And, just to make it an even greater weekend, I was able to hold our new great-niece, Anna Grace.

She was born to Chad and Emily a little over a month ago! She melted my heart. She is Marlys and Paul's first granddaughter. Quite a beautiful addition to their five grandsons!

Thanks to Chad for letting us join in the competition. Next year, nephew Kevin will hopefully be able to join us again.  Team DGQ, what a fine tradition!!!! Have I said today I'm glad we're retired?

We did some meandering on our way home from Chicago with Bauxite Betsy and just arrived home yesterday. I'll add an update soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bear Head Lake State Park and Ely-September 13-20, 2011

We moved from Temperance River to Bear Head Lake State Park for another week of fall camping. We had a choice campsite right by the lake. Making reservations far in advance is a good thing!

After the warm temperatures we experienced during our stay on the North Shore, we noticed a bit of a change. That's alright, though. It is supposed to be fall.

We tested our furnace and it works well. We even spent a cozy day inside, playing Scrabble, watching movies and reading while it rained. No problems, except my Scrabble scores.

In fact, we even experienced our first snow of the season while we were at the International Wolf Center in Ely. Shortly after Paul took this picture, huge snowflakes started to fall.

Isn't he handsome?

The nice thing about spending a full week in one location is that a day or two of cold, rainy weather doesn't spoil the whole experience. We still had plenty of great weather to get out and do some hiking and canoeing.

We drove northeast of Ely on Fernberg Road and hiked the Blackstone/Secret/Ennis Lakes loop trail.

What an incredible hike.

It makes one wonder how many lakes like this there are to hike around in this great state.

We saw several beaver swimming in these lakes.

And very few people.

I'd love to go back. It was a "grand" day!

We toured the Dorothy Molter Museum, located on the outskirts of Ely. She was known as "The Root Beer Lady." Notice the root beer extract under her signature sign.

She lived by herself on an island in the Boundary Waters for years and made root beer to sell to the canoeists who passed by her place. After she died, they moved her main cabin and belongings to the present museum site.

Another day, we drove up the Echo Trail and hiked the Bass Lake/Dry Lake loop. The BWCA fire continued to be a presence in our days. However, we were on the other side of the smoke now, as opposed to our hazy days on the North Shore. We obviously avoided this spur of the hike.

If you are ever in this area, we recommend this hike. This lake has an interesting history. I'm not going to tell you what its story is, but encourage you to make the trip! No spoiler alerts here!

Of course, we had to spend time out on Bear Head Lake. We were camped right by it!

It's a good thing we weren't depending on a meal of fish to fill out our menu plans.

But, it didn't stop us from enjoying the better part of two days out in our canoe.

I told Paul that out of the 52 weeks in a year, I hope to be able to continue to spend at least two of them camping in northern Minnesota.

It is where we have shared some of our happiest memories.

And, I'm telling you, this Air Stream deal is the best! Next? We take the tin pickle north of Chicago for a BBQ weekend.

I'll talk to you soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The North Shore 2011

Northern Minnesota is one of our favorite places to visit. For the past four years, we have spent the week after Labor Day at Temperance River State Park.  I made a slide show out of the pictures Paul chose. If you want to get a look at our week, here it is.

Oh, please excuse my

pictures. I wear my binoculars all day when we are camping and I realize they don't make the most attractive jewelry. Here's where I'm at on the fashion issue:
Have I said today I'm glad we're retired?
The music is "Minnesota" by Austin Kyle. If you click on the youtube icon, you'll be able to view it in full screen. Enjoy!

Now, on to Bear Head Lake!
I'll talk to you soon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Celebration Time!!

Wednesday was Nick's birthday. How could he be 25 already??? We headed into the city that evening to celebrate.

We had a great evening. We had appetizers at their apartment. Then, Nick, Ellen, Suzanne, Paul and I had dinner at Rinata, an Italian restaurant within walking distance. Delicious!!! A little poppy seed cake finished the evening. Nice!

Nick is a good and kind person. We are very proud of him and love him dearly. He likes his job. He has a wonderful partner. He and Suzanne have a close relationship. We are blessed.

Now, I am on to sorting our pictures from our northern Minnesota camping trip.
I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

There are no certainties in life

Paul and I spent two wonderful weeks in northern Minnesota. We've been home since last Tuesday and have some great pictures to share. I had hoped to do a number of posts by now to help us document and remember our trip.

But, the night we got home we received terrible news. One of our daughter's best friends, Jen, lost her battle with depression that evening. Her funeral was yesterday. Jenny has been a part of our lives since Suzanne's sixth grade year. Looking at the pictures at her visitation and funeral brought back all of the memories of the girls enjoying sleepovers, middle school days, camping trips, high school dances, graduations, and other life stage celebrations. For Jenny, it ended too soon.  My heart hurts so for her parents and brother. And, for her friends.

Grieving is a part of life. It's unavoidable. Our children were very young when they learned that for the first time. The rawness of grief is so painful and observing a loved one in the depths of it is terrible.

I sought advice from our niece, Melissa, last week.  She is such an intelligent, caring person. She has helped Suzanne more than she will every know. I am so thankful.

I told Missy I had hesitated to share the news with my family because I wanted to spare them painful memories. Our family misses Chris every day. She told me that for her, that is the worst thing, to not discuss it. She's right. I continue to learn.

We have our family as an anchor and we can count our blessings for that.

Today is Nick's birthday. Twenty five years ago today our son entered our world. He is a great son and brother.

I am going to bake his birthday cake right now. It will be poppyseed. Same every year. And, tonight we will all be together and we will celebrate.

Hug your loved ones. I will talk to you soon.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Paul and I leave tomorrow morning for our 4th annual trip to the North Shore.

Some of us need to work at relaxation....

For us, nothing speaks to our soul more than a week on the shores of Lake Superior at Temperance River State Park.

And, after that, another week at Bear Head Lake State Park, near Ely.

I'm pretty sure we'll being enjoying our days immensely. It's a good world.

I'll talk to you when we get back!!