First of all, did you notice the alliteration in my blog title? I know – I love it too! (#GrammarNerd)
So it was a long 4th of July holiday weekend and in a crazy bit of good weather karma, the sun came out and the temperatures got warmer as the weekend went on. I happen to love the heat of July and I want it to feel like summer. No, actually I NEED it to feel like summer. If it doesn’t, I feel cheated and I get really worried that I’ll be wearing a sweater and snow boots and watching weather reports of blizzard warnings all too soon.
Let me refocus after that hideous thought.
On Friday, we packed up a cooler full of food, wine, beer and kid-friendly beverages and headed to “The Lake”. (This is what Minnesotans do in droves every summer weekend, and especially on the 4th of July.) My brother and sister-in-law own a cabin on a lake just 45 minutes west of our house and they invited a bunch of family to gather to celebrate the holiday.
I love getting together like this for many reasons, including:
1) The kids hang out all day outside – swimming, playing croquet and bocce ball, or just relaxing on the hammock. No need to track screen time on electronics because they hardly even think about sitting inside with their iPads or video games.
2) All kinds of good food and drink to enjoy at our leisure. My brother grilled up a whole mess of hamburgers, turkey burgers, hot dogs and brats, and we had a table full of salads, baked beans, watermelon and multiple desserts. If you are looking for some good ideas for your next cookout, I highly encourage you to check out these recipes – all were BIG hits with everyone at the cabin:
- Taco Dip via Iowa Girl Eats – A healthier version of a layered taco dip with hummus and greek yogurt with great flavor
- Southwest Chicken Chop Salad via Lauren’s Latest – A super yummy chopped lettuce salad with a light, creamy dressing
- Broccoli, Grape and Pasta Salad via MyRecipes.com – A unique combo that’s utterly perfect for a summer picnic
- Perfect M & M Cookies via Picky Palate – A big winner in the cookie department – we all loved these!
3) No schedule – just a whole bunch of down time, catching up on what’s happening with everyone, going for boat rides, taking the WaveRunner for a spin (or two or three), setting off some fireworks after the sun goes down, and just laughing at the chaos that ensues when seven (yes, seven) dogs get together at the cabin.
Teacher Man, Joe and I had so much fun, we stayed two nights so we could help my sister-in-law, Dana, celebrate her birthday on July 5. That wasn’t in the initial plan, but we couldn’t seem to drag ourselves away from the lake view and the good company. We arrived back home this morning, a little pink from the sun; low on energy after a couple of late evenings sipping wine on the patio; and entirely grateful for the time we got to spend with our family.
Enjoy the photos of our weekend and let me know in the comments if you did anything fun this weekend!
My drink of choice on the 4th – a “Laralita”, which was so named by my cousin’s wife, Kellie, in Texas when we visited them a few years ago. It’s easy and refreshing: fill a large glass (or cute, polka dot outdoor plastic cup like I brought with me to the cabin) with ice and pour a bunch of sparkling wine or champagne into it, top with a splash or two of white grapefruit juice, shake gently and enjoy!
This is my Farmer Dad, who was enjoying his beverage of choice – an ice cold beer – with a little added fun that made us all laugh. Nice pink moustache!
There is always plenty of food to be had at any of our family get-togethers. The grillmaster on the 4th was my Farmer Brother, who handled both the charcoal and gas grills with ease. Many of us topped our cheeseburgers and turkey burgers with a fried egg and slices of bacon. If you’ve never had a fried egg on your burger, you really should make a concerted effort to do this soon. The combination – which Teacher Man and I first tried at pubs in Ireland many years ago – is fantastic!
Dessert option #2 – My mom made these patriotic cupcakes that were super moist and completely delish – not to mention adorable.
Dessert option #3 (we take our desserts very seriously) – an ice cream birthday cake from Dairy Queen to celebrate three birthdays – Teacher Man, my brother (Ladd) and my sister-in-law (Dana). Yes, Teacher Man asked the folks at Dairy Queen to put his name bigger as a joke. On the flip side, we actually didn’t realize they had spelled Dana’s name wrong until we were in the car, headed for the cabin, so I guess that little joke was on us!
Obligatory cute photo of my niece, Morgan, with Grandma Marilyn (my mom). Morgan was decked out as patriotically as the cupcakes!
General goofiness can and does ensue when Joe and his cousin, Audree, get together!
And I love, love, love this photo of the older cousins reading to Miss Morgan.
Have I mentioned we’re a bit of a dog family? You might recognize Earl the pug at the top. He was joined at the cabin by a German Shorthair (Avery) a French bulldog (Vinny), an English Bulldog (Louie), another pug (Murray) and a chocolate lab (Hunter). And believe it or not, there is one dog that I didn’t get a picture of (sorry, Finley)!
Teacher Man and Miss Morgan. This one always makes me smile.
More goofiness, brought on, no doubt, by copious amounts of Gatorade, M & M cookies and ice cream cake.
And finally … fireworks!