Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My trip south of the border

As in, Iowa. Not Mexico or elsewhere. Specifically, the Iowa state fair. My friend Jenn accompanied me to her old stomping grounds, Des Moines, Iowa, for their so-called legendary fair.

Our first find of the day: Dutch letters. This trip to the fair is brought to you by the letter "S"! How fortuitous! That's my letter! "S" for Sara! I've had better pastries, but it was pretty good, filled with almond paste and topped with sugar. I'm not going to argue with that.

There may have been a musical based on it, but I doubt it included huge cigarette stands or deep-fried funnel cake-dipped pineapple on a stick. We've come a long way since Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Maybe the hype was about the free hard boiled eggs on stick. All part of promoting Iowa agriculture! We also got to try Tyson's fajita steak strips (terrible and dry, but that wasn't surprising), sour cream dip, and definitely something pig-based, but I don't remember what. The ag building also held free samples of honeys and jams. Yum!

We missed the butter cow, even though we were in the right building. Other fun activities of note: a terrifying trip down the giant slide, hanging out in the (excessively warm) butterfly tent, taking the sky glider across half the park (and the park is really small...), buying a cookie cookbook from 1962 (!!!), and riding on a tilt-a-whirl-like ride in the midway.

After bingeing on fried food (mostly on a stick) all day, Jenn and I (slowly) made our way to Bonanza's big ol' salad bar and downed our weight in leafy greens and grapes. Uff da.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Baby Girl! There's a New Baby Girl in the Family!

And I was so enamored of her that I only managed to get one shot of her over the course of a whole weekend. It's hard to take pictures when your arms are full!

And here's my brother and sister-in-law and their whole brood, after a day at the Madison Zoo.

XOXO Kierstyn,
Love, your Auntie Sara

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Camping @ St. Croix State Park

To those who doubted us: We successfully pitched a tent and survived a weekend at St. Croix State Park.

First came the preparation.

And that was just our non-perishable food. We're obviously not cut out for anything more intense than "car camping" at this juncture. Then, into the trunk went our spiffy new sleeping bags, the tent, air mattress with pump (we were really roughing it), the cooler full of deliciousness like hot dogs, bacon, and eggs, as well as all the other normal things you pack when you're going on a trip, like shirts, jeans, toothbrush, and sixteen books for 48 hours away.

Wait, what?


As proof for those naysayers, I have photographic evidence of Eric camping. Above is him helping set up our tent. No more than ten minutes later we were admiring our handiwork, and then, reveling in our ability to do what 8-year-old boy scouts can do (I'm chuckling as I write this, I was so proud), we went and saw a nature talk about black bears. Apparently there are 30,000 of them in Minnesota. I did not know this. The wonders of park programming! (I'm not being snarky -- it was a nice program and I would definitely recommend going to whatever's offered while in our fine state parks!)

And here is our dinner the first night, cooked over the fire my husband so lovingly built for me to cook dinner upon. Grilled cheese, baked beans, and salad (not on the fire...).

Later we roasted s'mores. Yumtastic.

"Early to bed, early to rise" seems to more of the way things work than just an axiom. When the rain started around 9:30 or 10 on Friday night, we headed for refuge in our tent. Without light or much room to move, we decided just to go to sleep.

This is me at 8:00 a.m. making breakfast. Without an alarm or sunlight to wake me.

Look at those eggs cracked over my Hot Salty Love in a Pan, cooked over the fire my husband built.

After breakfast, we went for a hike, taking the (one, lone) trail from our campsite a couple miles down to the old CCC camp site. Apparently, Roosevelt created the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, to create jobs after WWI. The men that signed up learned marketable job skills like carpentry and masonry, in addition to having a job (a hot commodity in those days). What we got out of it was an incredible park system built from the trails they created, roads they paved, and campsites they cleared. Seems like money well spent to me.

A handsome little froggy on our hiking path.

I don't sit still very well, so after lunch and lazing around for awhile (reading 1/4 of one of those 16 books I brought), I got out my cake baking supplies. Yes, my cake baking supplies. While camping. Cast iron skillet+Jiffy cake mix+apples= a fire-good time. (Story on that coming soon!)

In the time it took to cook the cake, we also prepped and ate dinner. Saturday night's menu included what we're calling "biscuit dogs," which are essentially pigs in a blanket cooked on a skewer over flames (hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury refrigerated dough); glazed carrots (heck yeah), leftover baked beans, and -- eventually -- apple cake tatin.

Look at that fire my husband built. Who knew?
Look at that tent my husband helped set up. Who knew?
Look at those carrots my husband ate. Who knew?
Look at Eric not shuddering at the thought of all the bugs we shared our tent with. Who knew?

Well. Now you know. And so do I.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Murphy <3 Cheetos

And sleeping. In bags.

Notice the paw at the bottom of the picture, wrapped around the Cheetos bag.