Picnic lifestyle

Picnic friends

It was 93 degrees in Paris, and I was on day five of my solo European adventure. The romance of independent travel was wearing off and my simple desire for someone to talk to was setting in. I had been awake since 3 a.m., running face-first into a cruel series of travel-induced roadblocks, least of which was my laughable attempt at speaking French. I wandered “les rues” weary and wilting under the heavy air, desperately needing water, a functional ATM and a bathroom. And then there it was.

American in ParisWhen I was eight, I fantasized about seeing the Eiffel Tower one day. Europe seemed galaxies away – completely inaccessible to a country mouse like me. But 22 years later, the imposing icon was right in front of my face. My weariness turned into a whirl of giddiness and awe. I wanted to share this with someone. My eight-year-old self wanted to turn and say, “Can you believe we are here?! Do you see this?!” But everyone around me were strangers and seemingly unaffected.

To make matters … Read the rest

A Gypsy Brunch Picnic

With so few days of summer left, I needed to jump on the opportunity to get my friends together for a picnic. Everyone knows brunch is the most important meal of the week, and I decided to take it to the park for extra flair. Three hours of snacking and lounging in the late-summer breeze with good company is time well spent. Fresh fruit, baguettes, cheese, tomatoes, mimosas, animal crackers, pie…a perfect mish-mash of picnic fare was present. The highlight was Gwen’s blueberry crisp (recipe below).

Gwen’s Blueberry Stuff – She adapted it from a recipe she found online and used berries picked by Uncle Larry in Bayfield. I bet any kind of fruit would be outstanding.

1 c. butter           1 c. brown sugar           1 c. flour              1 1/2 c. quick oats

1/2 tsp. salt        1 qt. fresh blueberries mixed with 2 tsp sugar and 1 Tb flour (or a 15 oz can if you don’t have an Uncle Larry)

In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Stir in flour, salt and oats … Read the rest

Mystery Cave – the ocean’s basement

I’m constantly working hard to earn “wifepoints,” a recognition system invented by my husband that determines whether I earn his “Wife of the Year” award. I get points for thoughtful gestures like buying treats at the grocery store or bringing a beer to him on the couch. So far, I’ve always won the award, and though I’m the only one in the running, I don’t want to chance it by slacking off. Huzzbot has often talked about visiting Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, MN. He’s been weirdly fixated on it. I knew I’d earn a heap of wifepoints if I planned a road trip that included the cave.

Kolache from Daube'sNaturally, I mapped bakeries along the way. On our way south, we stopped in Rochester at one of Daube’s Bakery’s two locations. Daube’s has been around since 1987 and is known for their cakes – notably the carrot cake – fritters, cake donuts and kolaches. They also have irresistable, chunky loaves of rustic bread. I tested the chocolate covered cake donut and poppyseed kolache. I’m going Read the rest