A Busy Week….Summer Fun

Last weekend was the famous Whiting, Indiana Pierogi Fest. It is a time when hundreds of thousands of people come to my city for food and fun. The Fest runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday night is the crazy Pierogi Fest polka parade. Only entries that are over the top and crazy are allowed. We have Mr. Pierogi and the pierogiettes as well as the babuska brigade and the precision lawnmower drill team. There is a site on Facebook if you look up Pierogi Fest 2013 that has some incredible pictures of what I am talking about.

Friday night I went to the parade with my kids. Even though they are over 20 they loved the parade for the silliness factor alone. We then went to the actual Fest. My daughter fell in love with deep-fried alligator nuggets. My boy had to try a bunch of Pierogi of course, he only like the meat filled variety. I had some noodles and cabbage just like grandma used to make. My daughter bought a yard of chocolate covered strawberries and was in heaven. The lemonade shake-ups were perfect. I bought a steak sandwich with grilled onions and cheese and ate it for breakfast on Saturday! Anything goes Pierogi Fest weekend.

I went back to the fest with my daughter Saturday and met my sister-in-law. We once again pigged out on good food. Saturday night we had alligator nuggets, potato pancakes, noodles and cabbage, steak sandwiches, a hot fudge sundae (my daughter), a foot long bacon wrapped hot dog with cheese, and of course more pierogi! Don’t worry we did not eat all the food there, we took some home.

Sunday I went back with the kids to stock up on the goodies. We ended up with steak sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, shish-ka-bobs, cabbage and noodles, potato pancakes, another foot long deep-fried bacon wrapped hot dog with cheese, an apple dumpling with ice cream and of course more pierogi. There was over 75 food vendors and when you think that Taste of Chicago doesn’t even have 40 it is saying something. There are also arts and craft vendors. I bought four Pierogi Fest t-shirts. My boy got a budda shaped candle and a super hero mask. I also bought the kids a flaming rock to go in their new apartment.

Tuesday was my birthday and after work I went out to eat with my mom and kids. We went to a buffet because my kids are picky eaters. They found tons of food they liked and I think we all overate. Now coming up Saturday, I am taking the kids to the county fair for more food. The kids are moving away in 8 days and I will definitely have to be dieting and exercising to work off all this food. They still haven’t started packing yet, so this should be an interesting next few days. I hope everyone is enjoying the summer as much as I am.

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Has It Really Been Three Weeks?

I knew it had been a while since I wrote a post, but I didn’t realize it has been three weeks! My life seems to be going in fast forward in some areas and slow motion in others. Is it just me or do weekends seem to fly by twice as fast as weekends?

I had a very enjoyable 4th of July with my family. On the 3rd my kids and I went to the park to watch a fireworks display. It was nothing short of amazing! On the 4th my daughter and I went to watch the city’s annual parade. Since she is moving soon, she wanted to make sure she didn’t miss it. After the parade we rested in the afternoon. I BBQ’d ribs, corn and burgers for our dinner. Once it got dark, we shot off the fireworks I had bought. I also went out and shot my handguns. I figure it is the only day of the year I can get away with it. I think the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.

I went back to work on the 8th of the month. The first week was a little difficult sitting for so long, but I think my body decided it was finally time to heal. It has been hard getting up for work, but I love being back in the office. I missed my co-workers so much. My first week back it was time for my yearly evaluation. Luckily it went well and I am back in the groove of things. I think my dogs are having a hard time adjusting to me being back at work. They are so excited when I finally come home. I have to go check on my mom everyday after work to make sure she is taking her medications and doing ok. This causes me to get home later, but I would have it no other way. She took care of me when I was young and now it is my turn to take care of her now that she is getting old.

July 12th was our first camping trip. I cannot describe how amazing it was. Having my own camper made it so much fun. My daughter and the dogs came with me and we had a great time. The dogs were leery of the camper at first, but they soon made themselves at home. We went to the European market on Saturday and bought tons of food. We ended up with a dozen cookies, 6 cupcakes, 6 pretzels, cheese popcorn, blackberry jam, dog treats, Italian ice and of course lemonade. I can’t wait to go again next month. We kept the weekend restful and just enjoyed being outdoors at the campground. The weather was perfect not too hot and not too cold. The camper has almost all of the amenities of home. I think we loved the toilet and the air conditioning the best. I have already bought a huge tower fan for the camper for next time. I am still learning what I need as I go but it is sure a fun adventure.

This weekend is a very special time of year for us. (And not just because my birthday is next week! LOL) Friday the 26th starts our annual Pierogi Fest. The city closes down main street and has a big party. On Friday there is a super crazy and funny parade at 7pm. There are over 70 food vendors at this event. FYI Taste of Chicago has only half as many. There will also be over 30 arts and craft vendors. There are so many foods I am looking forward to like steak sandwiches, potato pancakes, bacon wrapped cheddar hot dogs, elephant ears, alligator, lemonade shakeups and of course pierogi. It is a time when people come back to town and you get to see so many long-lost friends. This might be my kids last year for the festival since they are moving. I want to make sure they have a great time and eat like pigs.

Well this is an update of what is going on with me. I will try not to wait so long to post again. My kids are moving out for good on August 9th. We have so much packing to do. I will try to write again and let everyone know how the festival went. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Mine is OK only it would be better if I had some one to share it with. Maybe someday….

Summer Fun

I had some fun in June, but it looks like July and August really hold all the excitement. I like the 4th of July. This year my city is having their fireworks on the lakefront on the 3rd. My family will take our chairs and sit on the grass at the park and watch the show. On the fourth my city, Whiting, Indiana has a parade at 10am. We haven’t missed a parade since my daughter was born. The rest of the day we spend relaxing and BBQing.

Friday July 12th will be my first camping trip with my new camper. I am getting so excited about finally getting to go. We have been buying stuff for the camper for weeks now. To be able to spend the weekend at the Dunes in my camper doing what I want is a dream come true. I hope this will just be the start of a fun camping season.

Our city has a Festival of the Lakes a couple blocks from my house. There is a nice carnival and live big name entertainment. This year I want to go see Smokey Robinson and LL Cool J. The food vendors are to die for and the entertainment is free!!! At the end of July my city hosts a Pierogi Fest that always draws a huge crowd. It is three days full of a crazy parade, arts and craft booths and tons of food. I do not have to cook the entire time. They close off a six block stretch of main street and it is one big party.

In early August it is county fair time. The kids love to ride the rides and play the games. I personally go for the food. They have things there I can only get once a year. We make an entire day of it. The second weekend in August my kids will be moving out. They have a one bedroom apartment in Vincennes where my boy will finish out his last year of school.

This will be a busy summer for sure. I look forward to the adventures and only wish I had someone to share them with….maybe next year…

Camping……an Ultimate Simple Getaway

English: Trail No. 4, Indiana Dunes State Park

English: Trail No. 4, Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Looking South across Chesterton, Indi...

English: Looking South across Chesterton, Indiana’s main intersection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Indiana Dunes State Park, beach view ...

English: Indiana Dunes State Park, beach view from bathhouse on a nice sunny day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forest growing on dunes at Indiana Dunes State...

Forest growing on dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The dune climb near the bathhouse, In...

English: The dune climb near the bathhouse, Indiana Dunes State Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided it was time to get back to the roots of my blog.  I want to let anyone and everyone know that life can be simple and yet still fun and exciting.  Camping is a good example of this. There is a wide range of camping options available.  The simplest being pitching  a tent and totally roughing it.  On the other extreme, one can buy or rent a drivable motor-home that is the epitome of luxury. My version of camping falls somewhere in the middle.

I am not professing to be an expert on camping by any means. I have only been a camping enthusiast for a little over a year. I have a favorite camping destination and it is the only place I visit.  My place in the Indiana Dunes State Park.  I live about 40 minutes away, and considering I hate driving it seems like the perfect destination.  The park has a beach, multiple walking paths and is close to a nice little town called Chesterton, Indiana. When I go camping I am not looking to have a weekend full of activities, but to have a restful period to enjoy nature and get away from it all.

My camping experience has been spent in a pop up trailer. In the past I have camped with my sister-in-law in her trailer.  This year I am planning on branching out and getting a pop up trailer of my own. The number one rule will be it has to be air conditioned. I like the summer, but I hate heat and humidity. My daughter also has asthma and if it is really hot she needs to be able to go to a cool place as needed. I am going to get a camper that sleeps seven because my daughter and son-in-law will be camping with me and of course we have to have plenty of room for the dogs. On a rainy day we need to be able to be in the camper together without being so cramped we want to kill each other.

When we are camping, we tend to only spend time in the camper to sleep, cool off or to change clothes. After all we are camping and want to enjoy the outdoors as much as we can. We cook all our meals either over the campfire or on a small BBQ. A canopy to keep out the sun is essential for us.  We have also been known to bring fans from home if it is going to be very hot. Now before you jump on me, remember I DO NOT like the heat and if I am camping I do want to be outside and not in the camper all the time.  Going hiking is a favorite part of camping for me.  I love going for walks at home, but hiking in the woods is far more enjoyable.  The kids love to go to the beach when it is warm.

In the summer, the town of Chesterton, Indiana has a European market in the town square every Saturday. We have found some of the best hot pretzels there. The art and craft vendors always have great food and gift items to please anyone’s tastes.  I am looking forward to getting a hot pretzel and homemade blackberry jam on my first visit in May. Since we only tend to go camping once a month, we try to make sure we hit the market on every trip.

Our dogs love the fact that they are allowed to come camping with us.  They enjoy being outside and going for walks almost as much as we do. I think they like the fact that their owners aren’t rushing around and just taking it easy and giving them love and attention.  My dog loves sitting on my lap every night for the campfire. When it is chilly, I have a huge towel that I wrap her in so she doesn’t have to miss any of the fun.

I love sitting in my camping chair and spending hours alternating between listening to music and reading a favorite book.  Having quiet time to myself is very important. In the evening we love to play games as a family. We have bought many games just for this purpose. Laughing and talking together without the outside world distractions keep us close and remind us that family is what is important.

I feel everyone should experience a good camping trip with their family at least once. Nothing can bring people together like enjoying nature to the fullest and getting away from everyday life distractions. My family is so looking forward to a summer full of camping adventures.  Stay tuned for updates…

Different Taste……..Different People

Aurelio's Pizza

Aurelio’s Pizza (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food means different things to different people.  I find you can tell much about a person by their favorite foods.  My favorite food, homemade hamburgers with sautéed onions, says a lot about me.  It is a simple and inexpensive meal to make and yet it is hearty at the same time.  Growing up my family had homemade hamburgers twice a week for as long as I can remember.  My mom worked at White Castle for over 15 years before I was born.  When she made her hamburgers, she slow cooked them for almost 45 minutes. They were so juicy and well worth the wait.  Over the years, what I put on my hamburgers has changed frequently.  I experimented with ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, pickles, pickle relish, mayo and even bbq sauce.  Now when I make my own almost 1/2 pound burgers,  I love adding a slice of tomato and of course sautéed onions.  There is no better smell to me than onions slowly sauteing on the stove.  My favorite food, like me, is simple and inexpensive.  I also have other favorites like spaghetti, Italian beef, tilapia, chicken Marsala and steak.  I consider myself a well-rounded individual as my taste in foods will show.

My daughter is going to graduate with a culinary degree next month.  Food is her passion, especially pastry.  Her favorite food three meat spaghetti reminds me of her.  She is a very complex person who is very emotional and loving.  The three meats in her favorite dish (hamburger, pork and veal) symbolize her three main emotions happy, mad and sad.  The many ingredients that go into the making of the spaghetti contribute to the end result of a culinary masterpiece.  Just as the many emotions and aspects of my daughter contribute to her being a beautiful yet complex person.  My daughter for the longest time would not try new foods. She ate the same things all the time and constantly fought change.  When she entered culinary school she was forced to try all the foods they made.  She was against this at the beginning, but now she embraces new food with relish. (not the food either)

When my daughter is coming home for an extended break, the talk of what she will be eating and baking while home begins way earlier.  This time she is home for a week.  While she is home I will be making tilapia, Italian beef, sloppy joes, mostaccioli, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and of course steak. We will also be going out for her favorite pizza, Aurelio’s, while she is home.  While she does help me with the dinners, baking is her specialty.  She is trying out a new Dr. Pepper cake this week.  She will also be baking white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and cream cheese and strawberry filled cupcakes. (which are to die for)  She baked her own cakes for her bridal shower.  She made four different varieties of angel food cake all with homemade frosting.  We tend to eat basic and simple foods because that is who we are.  Five star restaurants are foreign to us.  We are more the diner/dive sort of people. We love camping and barbecuing in the summer.  There is nothing like an ear of corn fresh off the grill, or a freshly grilled burger with just the right seasonings.  Some people think that food needs to be expensive or cooked in a fancy way to be good.  We are not those people, we will take ordinary any day of the week.

Which brings me to my son-in-law.  His take on food is plain is best.  Everything he eats has to be plain.  He loves chicken nuggets but would never think of using sauce with them.  All hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches are plain.  He is not a plain person to me, but instead a very straight forward one.  You never have to wonder what is on his mind because he will tell you.  He is very opinionated and does not have any problem sharing his views with the world.