52 Project, Week 26: Watermelon

52 Project, Week 26: Watermelon

Summer and watermelon go together like pumpkins and autumn.   Watermelon is one of my favorite summer treats.  The kids usually flock around me when I start to chop one up.

This year, I grew watermelon for the first time.  We got a bunch of cute little watermelons that tasted amazing.  There really is nothing better than food grown at home. 

Watermelon is harder to photograph than I thought it would be.  I’ve always struggled to photograph the color red.  I’ve attempted to tackle it with roses but even then, they’re not exactly to my liking. 

That’s the kind of challenge that I don’t give up on.  I actually did this photoshoot 3 times.  The first two were not to my liking.  My last, I can finally say that I have an image I’m proud of.  

Previous Week: 52 Project, Week 25: Patterns
Next Week: Flip Flops/Sandals
Main Page for 52 Project

Join us for the photography challenge! We’d love to see your images!
You can post your image on our Facebook page here:

Or tag us on Instagram with #cisforcomfort52
Need inspiration for your watermelon project?  Check out my inspiration board on Pinterest!

7 Summer Challenge Ideas

7 Summer Challenge Ideas

Although spring has had a late start this year, these last few weeks have really warmed up!  It’s almost hard to believe that a few weeks ago, we had a huge blizzard!  If you are anything like us, you are probably itching to get outside and enjoy the warm, fresh air!

Last year we had so much fun doing a 5-week workout challenge!  Every week we made it a goal to move our bodies.  I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of a traditional work out session.  I have a hard time getting motivated to stare at a TV and watch other people work out. Or worse, go somewhere public to work out with strangers.

Hiking is my favorite way to get exercise.  Being outside, in nature, makes me happy.  Getting a change of scenery, enjoying a new adventure, exploring a new location, what’s not to love?!

When doing research for local parks online, I found so many!  I felt like the ones I had seen were just a drop in the bucket.  I wanted to see them all!  Is it crazy and over-ambitious that I’m not exaggerating?!

We had only scratched the surface last year.  I knew, without a doubt, that our adventures would continue.  Should I do another workout challenge?!  I don’t know.  It did motivate me last year.  Honestly, many days I felt like sitting on the couch and being lazy in the air conditioning.  Knowing I had made a commitment kept me going.

Maybe this year is time for a new challenge.  There are so many options!  I might have to try one or all of these.

7 Summer Challenge Ideas

  1. Get Outside Every Day Challenge-For 3 months… for a year?!
  2. How many parks can we hit in the summer? 30? 40? 60?!
  3. Around Minnesota in 80 Days
  4. Exercise Every Day for a Month
  5. Art Challenge
  6. 30/60/90 Day Planking Challenge
  7. 100 Days of Gardening

Get Outside Every Day Challenge/ 100 Days of Sun

People Are spending more time inside than ever before in history.  With the air inside polluted and stale, getting outside is vitally important to our health.   AT LEAST an hour outside every day is the recommended amount for every age.

There are literally hundreds of things to do every day, all year round!  I made a list of fun things to do, outside, in summer that you can check out for ideas.

30 FUN Parks in Minnesota That You Have to See!

Visiting Parks is one of the most fun things to do in the summer.  Parks are full of activities for every age.  The whole family can go for a hike.  The kids can play at the playground while the adults relax and chat.  Biking, swimming, sightseeing, bird watching, there are so many options!

Although the title is just an idea, you can set your goal for as many or as little parks as you think you will visit.  Obviously, you will change Minnesota to your own local area.

Around Minnesota in 80 Days

This title leaves the window open for future fun expeditions.  If you don’t have an exact plan of what you want to do, but you know you want to start a challenge, this might be a good starting point.

I might make a fun list soon about traveling ideas within a region.  To get you started with a few ideas, you could visit local parks, check out small historic towns, visit a museum, check out a historic site, go to a zoo, smell the flowers at a conservatory, and so much more!

Exercise Every Day for a Month!

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time getting motivated to exercise.  Making it a goal is a great way to keep on track and get your body moving.  Last year we did a 5 Week Workout Challenge.  It was a lot of fun!

Working out doesn’t have to be just exercise videos or hitting up the Y.  Exercise can be so many different things!  You could go hiking, ride a bike, go kayaking, go swimming or even try rock climbing!

Art

There are so many options with this one!  Art is near and dear to my heart.  My Grandfather was an artist.  He inspired me to be a creative person.  I’m working hard to instill a love of being creative in my children.  This would be the perfect project for us all to enjoy together.

If you didn’t have an artsy Grandpa, here are a couple of ideas to get you going!  I’ll make a more extensive list in the future too.  Paint on canvas, visit an art museum, draw with chalk, paint rocks, make a birdhouse, do a photography project, color with crayons and so much more!

52 Project, Week 11: Art

30/60/90 Day Planking Challenge

Last year, during our 5 Week Workout Challenge, we tried planking for two of the days.  Planking is HARD!  It was so much harder than I thought it would be.  It’s such a great way to build muscle FAST though!  I’d love to try a 30-day plank challenge to see how long I would last at the end of the 30 days.

I think it would be fun to plank in different places every day for different visual content.  The kids would probably love that too!

100 Days of Gardening

I started my first vegetable garden last year.  This year we have been expanding, growing new things and learning more and more about gardening.  Doing a 100 days of gardening challenge would be a perfect way to learn about gardening faster and get a lot of fresh food!




I would love to know how you are going to challenge yourself this summer!  Let me know in the comments!

My Book List 2018

My Book List 2018

This list contains the books I’ve read and listened to.  I love holding real books in my hands, but sometimes, I don’t have time to sit and read.  I enjoy listening to audiobooks while I get work done.  This list will be updated throughout the year.  I have a short review of each book as well.

Many of these books I love to listen to with my children.  I work hard to instill a love of books and for learning in them.  Books are the key to untold worlds.  They can bring you to different lands and adventures and teach you a wealth of knowledge.  I want my children to develop the skills of educating themselves through the written word now in the hopes that they’ll always have the desire for learning within them.

Books I’ve Read

  1.  The Bible
  2.  Food Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Our Edible World by Julia Rothman
  3. The Big Book of Kombucha by Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory
  4.  100% Real: 100 Insanely Good Recipes for Clean Food Made Fresh
  5.  The Big Awesome Book of Hand & Chalk Lettering by Dina Rodriguez
  6.  City Farmhouse Style: Designs for a Modern Country Life by Kim Leggett
  7.  1000 Tangles, Patterns Doodled Designs produced by Walter Foster Publishing with Various Artists
  8.  Pencil Art Workshop by Matt Rota
  9. Jesus-The Way, The Truth, The Life
  10. Once There Were Castles | Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities by Larry Millet
  11. Castles | A History of Fortified Structures Ancient, Medieval & Modern by Charles Stephenson
  12. Minnesota’s Own | Preserving Our Grand Homes by Larry Millett
  13. Hearst Castle | The Biography of a Country House by Victoria Kastner
  14. 150 Best Cottage & Cabin Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola
  15. Compact Cabins | Simple Living in 1000 Square Feet or Less by Gerald Rowan
  16. How to Build Your Dream Cabin in the Woods | The Ultimate Guide to Building and Maintaining a Backcountry Getaway by J. Wayne Fears

 Audible Books I’ve Listened To

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  2.  The Transfer by Veronica Roth
  3.  Four The Initiate by Veronica Roth
  4.  Four The Son by Veronica Roth
  5.  Four the Traitor by Veronica Roth
  6.  The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  7.  Legend by Marie Lu
  8.  Champion by Marie Lu
  9.  Prodigy by Marie Lu
  10.  The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman
  11. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
  12. A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner
  13. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  14. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
  15. The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
  16. Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe
  17. Master Herbalist published by Author’s Republic with Various Authors
  18. The Selection by Kiera Cass
  19. The Elite by Kiera Cass
  20. The Guard by Kiera Cass
  21. The One by Kiera Cass
  22. The Queen: A Novella by Kiera Cass
  23. The Heir by Kiera Cass
  24. The Favorite by Kiera Cass
  25. The Crown by Kiera Cass
  26. The Siren by Kiera Cass
  27. Servant of the Crown by Melissa McShane
  28. The Cage by Megan Sheperd
  29. The Hunt by Megan Sheperd
  30. The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
  31. The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones

A lot of the books on the list below, I’ve read or listened to before, but I’d like to listen to again.  Several of these I’m going to be listening to with my children.  A bunch of these I’ve already started reading, but I take breaks and come back to, depending on what I’m in the mood for.

Books I Want To Read/Listen To

  1. The Bible
  2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T Kiyosaki
  3. Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin
  4.  Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality by Professor Robert Sapolsky
  5.  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
  6.  Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  7.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  8.  Dr. Andrew Weil’s Guide to Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil
  9.  Understanding Genetics: DNA, Genes, and Their Real-World Application by Professor David Sadava
  10. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  11.  Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  12.  Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  13.  On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  14.  By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  15.  The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  16.  Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  17.  These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  18.  The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  19.  Caroline: Little House Revisited by Sarah Miller
  20.  Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
  21.  Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  22.  Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery
  23.  Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery
  24.  Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery
  25.  Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery
  26.  Anne of Ingleside  by L. M. Montgomery
  27.  Rainbow Valley  by L. M. Montgomery
  28.  Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery
  29.  Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
  30.  Classics of American Literature  narrated by Professor Arnold Weinstein
  31.  The History of World Literature narrated by Professor Grant L. Voth
  32.  The Science of Natural Healing by Professor Mimi Guarneri
  33.  Medical School for Everyone: Pediatric Grand Rounds by Professor Roy Benaroch
  34.  Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  35.  Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina
  36.  Beauty and the Beast narrated by Jenna Augen
  37.  Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
  38.  The Giver by Lois Lowry
  39.  Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  40.  Messenger by Lois Lowry
  41.  Son by Lois Lowry
  42. Emma by Jane Austin
  43. The Princess Diaries By Meg Cabot
  44. The Lost Queen by Frewin Jones
  45. Deep Nutrition by Luke Shanahan, Catherine Shanahan MD

Have you read any of these books?  Please tell me what’s on your book list this year!

I’ve decided to include a short, and by short, I mean tiny, review of the books that I’ve read.

  1. The Bible: Honestly, I haven’t read the entire thing yet, but I’ve listened to several entire books within it.  Since there are 66 books in the bible, I thought it might be easier to add simply, “The Bible” rather than each specific book.   I love the Bible, it’s my guide to life.  I could read it every day and never get sick of it.  It’s full of wisdom, poetry, history, adventure, romance, drama, and so much more.
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: This book changed the way I think of the objects within my home.  I’ve been using her methods to minimize my personal belongings by keeping only what I love.  If you’re a packrat, or a hoarder, then I really recommend this book.
  3. Food Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Our Edible World by Julia Rothman: This book is kind of something you’d want to leave on a coffee table.  Every page is full of fun illustrations and descriptions of food and it’s history.
  4.  100% Real: 100 Insanely Good Recipes for Clean Food Made Fresh: To be honest, I looked at every page and drooled over many of the recipes.   Then I didn’t make a single one.  I love cookbooks, but usually, I look online for recipes.  I’ll probably continue to check out every inspiring cookbook that crosses my path though.
  5. The Big Awesome Book of Hand & Chalk Lettering by Dina Rodriguez: This book was a lot of fun!  Both Cupcake and I practiced a lot of the variations in lettering.  I might check this one out again in the future if I want to work on another chalkboard.
  6. City Farmhouse Style: Designs for a Modern Country Life by Kim Leggett: This book was full of beautiful, inspiring images of home decor.  I love browsing these types of books for remodeling our humble abode.
  7. 1000 Tangles, Patterns Doodled Designs produced by Walter Foster Publishing with Various Artists: This book was pretty cool.  It’s full of different ways to doodle.  I would have loved this one when I was in high school.  I really enjoyed looking through it, but I came to realize that I’m past doodling on paper.  I don’t have hours of boredom stuck in classrooms anymore.  My kids all enjoyed looking through the designs though, hopefully, it will inspire them for their future doodling.
  8.  Pencil Art Workshop by Matt Rota: I used to love sketching.  This book was full of inspiring pencil art and directions.  I didn’t attempt to sketch anything, but It brought me fondly back in time.  Maybe I’ll get back to it one day when I have a little more time on my hands.
  9. The Transfer by Veronica Roth: I had read the divergent series back when it first came out.  I enjoyed the movies, even though they varied from the books in a few big ways.  I happened to come across these companion books, from Four’s perspective.  I love when a good book series relates the story from another side.
  10.  Four The Initiate by Veronica Roth: ”    “
  11.  Four The Son by Veronica Roth: ”    “
  12.  Four the Traitor by Veronica Roth: ”    “
  13.  The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman: I feel like this book should be a requirement for every high school student.  Gary Chapman made a lot of puzzle pieces about love click into place.  It helped me realize whats important to me to feel loved and also help me realize how I can better love others.  This kind of information is useful for every type of relationship, not just the romantic kinds.  I immediately took the love quiz and found out my love language and then talked to my family about what theirs were.  I’ll definitely read this book again and again over the years to refresh my memory.
  14.  Legend by Marie Lu
  15.  Champion by Marie Lu
  16.  Prodigy by Marie Lu: This is the second time I’ve read this series.  Actually, the first time I read it, this time I listened to it.  If you like futuristic adventure stories, this is a great series to add to your list.
  17. 150 Best Cottage & Cabin Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola: I loved all of the images in this book.  I’ve been looking into small houses and although these are cabins, I think this is a good small home book too.  Most of these had huge windows, tall ceilings, open floor plans, and beautiful views.  Much of the interior styles were not to my taste, however.   I would look into this book again if I were building a home.
  18. Compact Cabins | Simple Living in 1000 Square Feet or Less by Gerald Rowan: This book is pretty awesome.  It contains 62 floor plans, black/green & white images of the completed cabin, off the grid options, green design, and from start to finish plans that help lay out exactly how to build.  It goes over everything you’ve thought about and everything you didn’t even think of.  I’m thinking of purchasing this book to keep at home so I can plan my future home.  One thing to keep in mind is that the title is accurate, these are tiny cabins.  It mentions that you can add on in the future if need be.
  19. How to Build Your Dream Cabin in the Woods | The Ultimate Guide to Building and Maintaining a Backcountry Getaway by J. Wayne Fears: I actually did not finish this book.  It is quite detailed and my time at the library was out before I could finish.  I’d like to check it out again or purchase because it contains A LOT of info about having and caring for a small home/cabin.

8 Tips to Survive Camping With Severe Allergies

8 Tips to Survive Camping With Severe Allergies

Camping with allergies can be difficult, but it’s not impossible!  Like most things with severe allergies, camping takes a lot of planning and preparing.  Knowing what to do and how to plan is one the hardest parts.  Hopefully, I can help you with that!

 

1. Make a Schedule

I try to make a rough outline of not only each day of my camping trip but also the weeks before it.  This helps me to leave enough time on the schedule to make sure I didn’t forget anything.  With a normal camping trip, if you forget something, you can run to the nearest store.  With severe allergies, that’s not always possible, as most stores do not carry the necessary specialty items.

My schedule is usually outlined in a notebook like this:

  • 4-12 Months Before Camping: Pick and Reserve Date for Camping
  • 10-8 Weeks Before Camping: Research Area-Food and Water Sources, Activities, Medical Care
  • 4-6 Weeks Before Camping: Plan Schedule and Menu, Mail Order Necessary Food, Check Medical Supplies To Order New Or Low Items, Vehicle Maintenance, Set Up Pet Sitter, Mail Grabber and Plant Waterer
  • Week Before Camping: Food Prep, Home Absence Prep, Verify Pet Sitter, Plant Sitter, and Mail Grabber, Pack Non-Food Items, Wash & Pack Clothes, Clean Out Fridge
  • 2nd Day Before Camping: Charge Camera Batteries, Pack Remaining Items, Remaining Food Prep, Check Medical Supplies, Pack Non-Perishable Food
  • Day Before Camping: Fully Charge Phones, Bathe Children, Pack Remaining Non-Perishable Items, Load Vehicle, Water Plants, Leave Money and Thank You Note for House Sitter/Plant Waterer/Pet Sitter
  • Camping, Day 1: Shower, Quick Breakfast, Add Perishables to Cooler, Pack Remaining Items, Load Remaining Items, Double Check House, Double Check Medical Supplies, Drive To Camping Spot, Eat Easy Snacks or Packed Lunch on the Way, Set Up Tent, Scope Area, Dinner, Campfire, Bed
  • Camping, Day 2: Breakfast, Activity, Lunch, Activity, Dinner, Campfire, Bed
  • Camping, Day 3: Breakfast, Activity, Lunch, Activity, Dinner, Campfire, Bed
  • Camping, Day 4: Breakfast, Activity, Smorgasborg Lunch, Activity, Smorgasborg Dinner, Use Up Remaining Wood in Campfire, Bed
  • Camping, Day 5: Breakfast, Shower, Pack, Load, Lunch On The Road, Drive Home, Dinner

2. Make A Menu

Menu planning is probably the most important activity.  Finding safe food locations around home usually takes a few months to years with a lot of food trials.  Camping is not a great time to trial food, as you don’t want to be sick while camping.  It is the most time-consuming task of your camping prep, but it’s worth the work.  At least, that’s what I tell my self when I’m up to my elbows in massive food prep operations.

It’s usually the food concerns that give me the most camping related anxiety and stress.  It’s expensive, it’s time-consuming, it’s stressful.  I usually freak out during my week countdown to camping.  Since most of my food is prepared from scratch, it must be made directly before camping to prevent spoilage.  Once we are on the road, I finally relax and breathe a sigh of relief.  Everything is prepped, now it’s time to relax!

I try to make food prep fun by involving the kids so that they can learn some useful skills, and also lend poor old Mom a hand.  Some of their foods are not safe for me to eat, but they are safe enough for me to be around.  I usually make two batches of whatever food is safe for me vs safe for them, because my safe food can be more expensive.

I usually go a little overboard in making sure I have enough safe food for the entire trip.  Most of my safe food is what would be considered snacks.  That is kind of my normal routine though.  I generally don’t eat breakfast or lunch unless it’s a special occasion.  I’m not a big meal person.  I provide food for my entire family for these meals since they seem to enjoy them.

Dinner is the one meal I always put a lot of work and effort into.  We all sit down together and enjoy a meal.  It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.  Camping is a reflection of what we do at home.  We eat snack-like things throughout the entire day, but I still schedule breakfast and lunch so I can make sure my kids are fed.  Dinner is our time to relax and hang out around the campfire after an adventurous day.

3.Inventory Stock

It’s always a good idea to have an inventory of your food supplies.  Planning ahead and being prepared is one of the best ways to avoid exposing yourself to dangerous foods.  If you run out of safe food, you’re more likely eat whatever is nearest to you, regardless of its safety.  Or, if you have self-control, you might have only limited foods to eat and end up going hungry till your next shipment comes in.

If you don’t regularly keep inventory, then at least make a menu for the week prior to camping and the period of time you’ll be gone.  Make a complete list of every item you’ll need and start ordering at least a couple of weeks before you have to go.

Waiting until the last minute is not a good idea.  Items can take longer to ship, get held up for any reason, or get lost.  If you give yourself a reasonable amount of time for error, then you’ll be well prepared ahead of time.  Unlike non-allergy people, those with severe allergies cannot get food on the go or at the location.  If your order doesn’t show up, this means your trip might be delayed or even canceled.

Also, don’t forget to plan for the meals you’ll be eating when you get home!  If you use up all of your safe supplies for camping, you might be out of food when you arrive back home.  This is where keeping a regular inventory and planning ahead come in handy.

4.Double Check Medical Supplies

Double or even triple check your medical supplies.  Make sure you have what you regularly use and a backup.  Make sure you have emergency paperwork printed out.  I keep mine in my purse all the time, but sometimes it’s good to have a backup in your camping supplies, should your purse or bag get stolen.

It’s always a good idea to have any prescriptions regularly up to date.  You can keep a printed prescription refill in your supplies in case of an emergency.  I had an emergency incident where I was having an asthma attack and I went to refill my inhaler prescription at a pharmacy.  My prescription had just expired and the pharmacy couldn’t get hold of my doctor and refused to give me an inhaler without it.  I had a full asthma attack and started turning blue.  Thankfully, my Dad arrived and had someone call an ambulance.  It’s always good to have backups and backups for your backups!  If my parents hadn’t been able to rush to me with an emergency inhaler, I might have died in front of an audience, sitting right next to the pharmacy.

I always keep my inhaler, epi-pen, and medical emergency paperwork in my purse now.  I never go anywhere without my purse.  This has saved my life on more occasions than I can count.
See what’s in my bag.

If you compose a medical folder, you can include these things:

  • Local Map with Medical Locations Highlighted
  • ER Paperwork
  • Medical History
  • Back up Prescriptions

5.Find Local Emergency Health Services

No matter how much planning is done, there is always the risk of having a medical emergency.  It’s best to have a general idea of where the nearest emergency room, pharmacy, or local medical services are.

Either print out the information of the location or save the info under the contacts on your phone.   You could do both if you’re assembling a medical folder to bring with.

You can download google maps, of the area you’ll be in, ahead of time if you’ll be in an area where there is little to no service.

6. Find Local Safe Food as Backup

Every place I’ve camped, I’ve researched local health food stores or farmers markets available ahead of time.  Should I run out of food, lose food to wildlife or have an unforeseen accident, I want to be sure I have a backup so I don’t have to go home early.

This year, there was a farmers market in Ely that we visited.  We were able to get some organic, spray free carrots for Princess and me to snack on and some fermented veggies and kombucha for the family.  I also found a guy who was selling pure, maple syrup with no defoamer added.

Last year, there was a health food store in Grand Marais that carried a few of the foods I can safely eat.  I was able to pick up a couple things to supplement my normal food.

7.Learn About Local Foods to Forage

This is kind of a lifetime thing to learn.  Foraging for foods should now be on your new “normal” list of things to do.  If you’re new to this, it might sound strange.
“You mean, you can find food outside?  On the ground?  In the woods?”

The answer is yes!  People have been doing this since the beginning of time! Foraging has only recently become less common due to the convenience of packaged foods.  We have become disconnected from our food source, the Earth!  Food doesn’t originate in the store, as though it popped up overnight in perfectly arranged and identical boxes and bags.  It grew outside, from the ground.  It’s time to skip the middleman.

Now, you do need to be educated about foraging.  Get a few books, watch a couple youtube videos, take a class, grow some of your own in your garden, get real hands-on experience.  You can’t just go out into the woods and expect the food to beckon to you.

Once you start learning about foraging, you’ll start finding food everywhere you go!  Although, since you’re also battling severe allergies, you need to be in tune with your body to know what is safe and what isn’t for you.  So if asparagus is growing in a ditch next to a cornfield, and you’re allergic to corn, you might want to skip it.  If you’re in the middle of the woods, hours away from civilization and you find some fresh raspberries, then you’re good to go!  As a general rule, even if I 100% believe the food to be safe, it’s always good to be educated about plants that look similar to safe foods but are toxic.  For example, mushrooms and berries have a lot of variation, some safe mushrooms look similar to toxic mushrooms.  If you are not an expert, it’s best to avoid them altogether.  Berries are a little on the safer side, but there are still toxic berries out there.  Many lettuces and leafy plants are safe, but you still want to steer far from poison ivy or poison oak while you’re searching.

8. Look for Local Springs

I love spring water.  Spring water from up north is the cleanest, most delicious water I’ve ever had.  I want to move near it just so I can have fresh, clean, and safe water all the time.

For someone with severe corn or chemical allergies, finding a safe source of water can be difficult.  Bottled water usually has corny additives and is purified and treated with chemicals.  The bottles can be made from plastic made from corn or chemicals that are toxic.  Tap water is full of chemicals used to sterilize germs and bacteria, chemicals to remove discoloration and it even has toxic chemicals like fluoride added to it.  In addition, a lot of things are not filtered out at water treatment plants, things like pesticides, birth control, antidepressants, and other prescription drugs.  Some water tests have even found levels of illegal drugs.  Almost everything I’ve just listed was produced with corn or was directly derived from corn, which is why it is extra toxic to someone with corn allergies.

Spring water is not always completely pure from contaminants, but it’s usually a significantly lesser amount than water found anywhere else.  In addition, there is usually beneficial minerals from the underground natural filtration systems of rocks and sand.  It also has a significantly low PH level which is beneficial for a healthy body.

You can look online to see if there is a spring near you at the website Find A Spring  There was an artesian well at one of the State Parks that we stayed at that is not located on the list, so it’s always a good idea to call the office and ask about locals springs or wells in the area.

I hope that by sharing what I do to prepare for vacation helps inspire you to be able to go camping yourself!  Going camping with severe allergies can be difficult, but we need a break from the stress of daily allergy-free lifestyle every once and awhile.  Enjoying the great outdoors with fresh air and sunshine is something I look forward to every year.

Do you have a medical condition that you work around so that you can enjoy camping?  I’d love to hear about it!  Please tell me what you do in the comments.

We Went 2,341 Feet Underground!

We Went 2,341 Feet Underground!
Camping, Day 5
The Soudan Mine

Since it was another rainy day, we decided to head out to see The Soudan Mine.  I didn’t know what to expect, but it sounded interesting.  I had never been in a real mine before.

When I was little, my parent’s would take me to an amusement park in Burnsville.  One ride that I’ll always remember is the Mystery Mine Tour.  It was a fake mine shaft that shook and showed passing rocks.  The doors opened and showed a mine scene while a voice over the speaker gave the guided tour.

For some reason, I loved it.  I would beg to go and my Dad would take me.  Every time, I would get afraid when the mine started to shake and I would climb up my Dad like a monkey.  He would hold me in his arms and I would watch the rocks fly by the small window.  Since I was so young, I thought it was real, even though my Dad insisted it wasn’t.

Driving up to the mine I was rewarded with a beautiful view that stretched for miles.  I love a good view and this one did not disappoint.  The buildings were older and made from brick, but they were well maintained.

We purchased our tickets, but since there were so many people there, our tour didn’t start for another hour.  This gave us plenty of time to check out some of the other exhibits.  In the main building, there were a lot of fun souvenirs.  I purchased two books, one on mushrooms in our region and one about berries in our region.  There were also a lot of historical photographs.  I really enjoyed the rock exhibits.  The kids liked the scale models of the mine.

We went to see the first visible building on the site, the hoist house.  There they had giant machinery.  One of the biggest things was an enormous spool winding up giant steel rope.  This was attached to the cages which lower and raise people from the mines.

Since it was getting close to our tour time, we went back to the main building to use the bathroom and wait for our tour to be called back.  We had more fun in the gift shop while we waited.

We started our tour in a theater room.  While we waited we watched a short video with different facts on the screen.  After that, our tour guide talked to us about what to expect and highlighted safety rules.  Then he led us to get our safety hats on and filed us toward the mine shaft.

The shaft itself was outside.  It was open to the air and quite small.  Just like in mining days, we were packed into the small cage like sardines in a can.  Unlike in the mining days, we were not each loaded with mining equipment.  Our cage descended into the ground.  I was close to the front, so I could see the rocks flying past the window.  I had flashbacks to the fake mine tour as a child.  Periodically I could see different levels of old mine shafts.  We were going down so fast that I could only see them fly by for a brief second.  Our guide chatted calmly, cracking jokes about past tours with geologists being packed in at an even larger number because they all wanted to go down at once.  It made me feel at ease and not so afraid and aware of the fact that we were sinking deep into the earth.

Arriving at the bottom, the door opened to a cold, semi-dark room.  It was about 15 feet deep before us.  To the right, the tunnel was full of a bunch of utility equipment, to the left, a long tunnel spanned into the distance.  Behind us was an opening to a laboratory that was bright big and modern.  The ceiling was maybe three stories high on the modern side.

In the middle of the room was a train ride.  Our tour guide led us away from the doors and off to the side to begin our tour.  He talked about how the temperature was a comfortably cool 51 degrees year round and gave us some interesting facts about how deep into the ground we were.  Then we all climbed about the train.  We were cautioned to keep all extremities inside the car at all times, lest we wanted to lose a hand or an arm.  Although we were able to enjoy a fun, windy ride to the next tour site, I was amazed at the fact that the men who used to work there walked so far in complete darkness.

Arriving at the end, we were led upstairs to a giant cavernous room.  I was amazed at how beautiful it was.   It was basically just a giant room full of rocks, but there were lights highlighting the walls in different areas with mannequins as pretend workers.  Although our path was smooth and well lit, the original workers would have had to climb over and around rocks in the dark.  They would have had to avoid the holes in the ground to keep from falling into the lower tunnel.  Thankfully for us, there were wooden barriers built around each one, but these did not exist in mining days.

I loved hearing facts about mining life and the stories of the men who had worked there.  I found out that women were not allowed anywhere near or in mines.  There were tales of deaths and superstitions so strong that when the owner of the mine, unaware of the superstitions, brought his wife to work, all the men quit and walked out!

Returning on the trains and the elevator cage going up was just as fun.  I think it might have been more fun because I was less afraid.  The temperature outside was considerably warmer once the doors opened.  A whoosh seemed to envelop us.  The children were giddy after the excitement of being 2,341 feet under4ground and 689 feet below sea level.

We walked the grounds and checked out the other buildings and sights.  After having been underground, I enjoyed seeing where all of that iron ore was going.  We followed it all the way down to where it was put into train carts.

We found another painted rock!

Our whole family agrees that this was their favorite part of the camping trip.  I really recommend checking out the Soudan Mine if you’re in the area.  If we’re ever in the area again, we’ll probably go back!

We stopped at a grocery store on the way back to the campsite.  There, I was able to find a safe cream for my tea!  That, mixed with the maple syrup I found at the farmers market, made for an awesome dandelion root latte.

Nate cooked up the remainder of the meat for dinner.  He and the big kids enjoyed a feast.  Princess and I happily ate the fruits and veggies I found at the store.

After dinner, Cat and I played with my glass globe.  I’m pleased with the way the images turned out.  I think I’ll use it more in the future.  Mr. Awesome found a toad!  All of the kids were thrilled with their new friend.  I had to convince them that he would be happier staying there, in the wild, rather than at home, cooped up inside.

We finished off our last night of camping relaxing by the fire.  We all enjoyed smores, Princess and I had corn free ones of course.  It was a great end to a fun day.

Have you been to the Soudan Mine?  What was your favorite part?

Check out our video!

Continue on to Camping Day 6!
http://cisforcomfort.com/getting-lost-norberg-trail/

Did you miss Day 4?  Read about it here!
http://cisforcomfort.com/4-year-old-caught-fish/

Our 4 Year Old Caught The Most Fish!

Our 4 Year Old Caught The Most Fish!
Camping Day 4

The morning started out with a panic attack.  Looking back, I can’t remember what caused it.  Maybe it was sleeping on a small, uncomfortable air mattress for half the week.  Maybe it was having to walk a long way to the bathroom with a child who had to go to the bathroom, again.  Maybe it was camping food.  Maybe it was lack of creature comforts… and tea.  Maybe the kids were being crazy.  Maybe the Mister was being impatient.  Maybe I was just homesick.

Whatever it was that caused it, I could feel anxiety climbing up me like a bomb about to go off.  I was becoming irritable and panicky.  Rather than freak out and start screaming like a mad woman, I told my family I was taking a timeout.  I went into the tent and laid on the bed facing the window so I could watch the clouds roll by.  I breathed deeply and tried to calm my racing mind and the panic that was squeezing me tightly.

When I stop a panic attack before it gets out of hand, it’s easier to calm down.  I focus on my breathing.  I focus on telling myself it’s ok.  I try to minimize things that add to my panic, like noise and activity, and go somewhere quiet to regroup.  As I begin to calm, I can start to feel not so trapped and afraid.  I was at that point of mellowing out when my family began to peek in at me from the window.  They made me smile, and then a laugh chased away the rest of my storm clouds.  I was ready to get back to our day.

Nate had rented the boat bright and early that morning before anyone else had gotten up.  I packed up a few necessities like simple snacks, water, and wet wipes.  Nate prepared everything necessary for fishing.  We made sure everyone had one last potty break and drove to the boat area.

When we were packing up the boat, Nate realized he forgot the life jackets and had to go back to the rangers office to pick them up.  The kids and I opted to wait by the boat.  I thought they could burn off some energy playing before having to sit for a long period of time in the boat.

Once he was back, we put on our vests and set off.  The view out on the water was beautiful.  I wanted to explore the whole lake, but our motor was slow and battery operated.  We didn’t want to get stranded in a far corner and have to row back.  The forecast predicted rain, but it was partly sunny and beautiful.  The kids wanted to go swimming after fishing was over.  With how warm the water was, it sounded like a great idea.

Princess had been wanting to go fishing for many months.  While shopping for camping supplies she was always on the lookout for fishing lures.  We ended up using worms rather than lures.  I was the designated worm attacher, much to my dismay.  I felt guilty and sick spearing the little guys with each hook.

Princess caught the first fish.  She was thrilled.  She fell in love with her fish and insisted we be careful with it.  Nate attached it to a rope to save for dinner as I re-wormed her hook.   Shortly after, she caught her 2nd fish!  Then her third!

We noticed storm clouds heading our way in the distance, so we moved our boat closer to our campsite.  In our new spot, Princess caught more fish!  After she caught her seventh, Mr. Awesome caught one.  Then he got his second and Princess caught her 8th!  Nate caught a fish and Mr. Awesome caught his third.  We were constantly catching and releasing them!  Out of all of those fish, only 2 were big enough to eat.  We decided that Princess and I would eat those and the family would eat sandwiches.

While we were fishing, I told the kids a story about my childhood.  When I was very little, maybe 3 or 4, we went on a family vacation to Howard Lake.  My Grandparents were camping in a cabin nearby.  My Grandpa Ray wanted to go fishing and I begged to go with.  He relented but I think he was worried I would complain or perhaps scare away the fish if I were naughty.

I was so excited.  Grandpa gave me my own fishing pole to use.  We each had our own side of the boat.  I began to catch fish!  Grandpa was laughing and exclaiming his surprise.  After catching maybe 5 large fish he teased that perhaps I had the better side of the boat and switched with me.  I caught several more fish!  He said that maybe I had the better fishing pole and let me continue to fish.  If memory serves, I caught 11 large fish that day.  I was so happy I made Grandpa smile and be proud of me.

It started to sprinkle so we decided to head back.  We decided that we might try fishing more later in the day since the rental was for the entire day.  Nate dropped me off at the boat docks so I could drive the van back to the campsite, then he and the kids set out across the lake.

I met them at the docks and we all drove back to our campsite.  Since we had relied on fish being our dinner, we decided to get dinner in town for the non-allergy part of the family.  Our fish would be a nice corn free dinner for Princess and me.

As we drove to town, we saw a small black bear on a hill on the side of the road.  We pulled over to stop and watch for a little bit.  I was thrilled, but the rest of the family grew bored quickly.  Their growling tummies might have had something to do with it though.

In our haste to leave, I forgot to make sure everyone went to the bathroom.  After getting food at Zupp’s Market, Princess insisted she was going to pee her pants so we stopped at a gas station.  There, she found a baby loon stuffed animal.  Princess is a stuffed animal addict.  She must rescue every adorable stuffed animal she finds.  Some of the ones we say no to, she sobs for hours after because the poor things are sad and alone and no one will take care of them.  I find that letting her carry one or two of her babies everywhere seems to deter her from picking up anymore, but as this was an emergency bathroom break, at a gas station, I was unprepared.  So baby loon became the newest member of our family.

We made a trip to Dairy Queen since we felt bad that the kids weren’t able to go swimming.  Thankfully they were happy with the trade-off.  Princess and I could enjoy our homemade snack bars and gluten-free grilled cheese once we got back to the campsite.

While waiting for Nate to bring out the goodies, I admired the many flower gardens in the parking lot.  Someone had taken a lot of time and love to create such a delightful and colorful array of flowers.

Once we were back, we set to making dinner.  However, someone stole our fish!  They also connected and drained the battery on our boat.  The kids tried to catch us some while Nate prepared dinner, but they were only able to get little ones that we released.  After dinner, Nate went to get a new battery from the office.  Once he got back, he set off in the boat to the main dock.  I sat at the edge of the water under an umbrella with the kids for a little bit before heading back to the campsite.  I was going to drive around to pick him up and then we would drop off the vests and the battery together.

However, once I got to the van, it was locked, and I realized that Nate had the keys with him.  It was getting dark fast.  I ran down to get the children from the edge of the lake.  I brought them back to the campsite and got them settled in the tent.  I told them to stay together at all times and not to leave unless they had to go to the bathroom.  I grabbed my lantern and my umbrella and set off on the long walk around the lake.  Walking in the dark, in the woods alone, I was a little scared.  I had encountered a bear as a child up close and I didn’t want that to happen again.  I sang out loud as I walked along to alert any wildlife of my presence.  Once I arrived at a dock that was across the lake from the boat launch, I started calling out Nate’s name.  I didn’t see him or hear him.

It was pouring heavily.  I had three options:

  1. Walk around the lake toward the boat dock in hopes of finding Nate.
  2. Walk up towards the office in hopes that I might find him along the way.
  3. Head back to the children.

I felt like walking around the lake was a waste of time.  He didn’t hear me calling, so chances are, he had started to walk back to the office himself.  I could go back to the children, but at least I knew they were safe, dry and together in the tent with the other lantern.  Nate was out there, alone, in the dark and the cold, heavy rain.  I decided to head toward the office.  I walked up the trail, stopping at intersections to call out for Nate.

After walking up the long road to the ranger’s office for a way, I saw a man walking toward me.  I hoped that it was Nate, but his size was smaller and thinner than Nate’s tall, muscular shape.  I paused as he approached me.
“Excuse me, sir, Have you seen another man walking on this road recently?”
“No, I’m sorry.  I haven’t seen anyone.”

I thanked him and continued the walk to the office.  I could see it’s lights glowing in the distance.  Inside was a bright, warm, dry relief.  The ranger on duty had seen Nate about 20-30 minutes prior.  My heart sank.  Nate had probably taken the far road back to the campsite after walking up there with the motor.  It was the opposite side of the park that I had been on.  I thanked him and took a deep breath before heading back out into the dark.  I walked swiftly along the road, the temperature had dropped and the rain that was blown sideways by the wind had gotten my lower half wet.  I was tired and chilly, too cold to loudly sing away the bears.  I did so anyway, intermittently, in a voice quavering with shivers.

After a while, I noticed headlights approaching in the distance.  As they got closer, hope sprang to my lips in a smile.  It was our van.  Nate had come to rescue me.  I happily climbed into the warmth where the heat and seat warmers were already on.

It turns out that after Nate had been waiting a couple minutes, he got bored and put his hands in his pockets, realizing he still had the keys.  He groaned and started the long walk with the heavy boat motor.  Thankfully, he is strong from his manual labor at his job.  He had the same thoughts running through his head that I had, what if I should happen upon a bear?  He thought he might kick it in the face.  I laughed because Nate taking on a bear with a boat motor and kicking a bear seemed like a not so safe idea.  He is tall like Paul Bunyan though, so perhaps it would be enough to scare one away.  He had walked the far way home and found the kids.  After making sure they were ok, he set out looking for me in the van.  He stopped along the lake and intersections as I had for him, calling out my name.  We were always on opposite sides of the park.  So although I was trying to be the hero, I ended up needing a hero myself.  It was a silly situation all around.

Do you go fishing as a family?  Who usually catches the most fish?

Check out our video!

Continue on to Camping, Day 5!
http://cisforcomfort.com/went-2341-feet-underground/

Did you miss Day 3?  Read about it here!
http://cisforcomfort.com/checking-ely-minnesota/

Checking Out Ely, Minnesota

Checking Out Ely, Minnesota
3rd Day of Camping

I woke up to the sun making glowing shadows on the roof of our tent as it passed through the leaves on the trees.  Already I could feel the sun warming the chilly air.

Since it was so lovely, we thought it would be a perfect day to explore Grand Marais.  We had a fun day checking out all of the little shops.   I would have loved to have stopped at every shop, but there just wasn’t enough time!

I got an amethyst bracelet at a rock store, Loony’s Northwoods Emporium.  Each child got to pick out a rock of their choice.   We also visited Ely’s Old Fashioned Candy where we got a bunch of rare (for us) treats.  I was thrilled to be able to visit Jim Brandenberg’s Art gallery.  At the local Goodwill, Cupcake and I got a few books, Princess got a few sweaters and a cute pair of sandals.  Nate found 4 packs of kinetic sand for 99 cents.  Mr. Awesome found a toy airplane.

In between two cute shops (Mealey’s Gift & Sauna Shops), there was a well-maintained flower garden with a waterfall and fish pond hiding in the corner.  It reminded me of the fish pond my Grandpa used to have in his backyard.

On the recommendation of the receptionist at the Brandenburg gallery, we decided to visit Kawishiwi Falls.  Since we still had some 5 Week Workout Challenge days left, I thought it was a great idea!  Plus, getting to explore another waterfall sounded like a lot of fun.

The hike was quite beautiful.  It was a short 1.5-mile hike.  There were large boulders everywhere.  Birch trees grew on and around the large rocks, their roots hugging them like cozy pillows.  Planks made paths through the low ground where it probably gets muddy when it rains.

Climbing the last hill before the falls, we could hear the roar of the water as it tumbled down the rocks.  Once at the top, the view was breathtaking.  If we didn’t have the little ones, getting closer to the water might have been a neat area to explore.

After our hike, we went back into town to see the local farmer’s market.  It was in the town’s park and slightly larger than our farmer’s market.  There was a lot of stands set up selling a large variety of goods.  For people who didn’t have cash, they had a stand set up selling wooden chips to pay vendors.  We saw candles, kombucha, fermented foods, jams, fruits, veggies, live music, maple syrup, carved wooden spoons, handmade bath and beauty products, a stand advertising the U of M dental school, and more!  It was almost like a small fair!

The kids found a painted rock and hid it for someone else to find.  We’re always excited to find rocks.  This one had a fish on one side and said Ely Rocks FB on the back.

After the Farmer’s Market, we picked up some tent sealer to make sure our tent was leakproof.  The forecast predicted rain on Wednesday and we wanted to be sure we were dry.  While there I found a cute mug that has a moose on it and the words Ely, MN.  I like useful souvenirs.  It was another fun day of vacation!

Have you been to Ely, Minnesota?  What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Check out our video!

 

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Day: Week 5, Day 1: Schaar’s Bluff
Next Day: Week 5, Day 3: Norberg Trail

Continue on to camping, day 4!
http://cisforcomfort.com/4-year-old-caught-fish/

Did you miss day 2?
Read all about it here!
http://cisforcomfort.com/locked-keys-van/

We Locked Our Keys In The Van in the Middle of the Woods

We Locked Our Keys In The Van

Camping, Day 2

After a night of heavy rain drumming our tent, I woke to the sound of birds.  Thankfully, we were nice and dry inside!  I got out of bed before everyone else to capture some nature photography before breaking down the campsite.  Cat joined me and we had fun capturing the world, damp and dew drop covered from the night before.

After Nate got up, we decided to see if our next campsite was available.  We weren’t able to get all of the days at the same spot since everything was so booked.  Usually, the whole north is mostly booked by the time spring rolls around.  If we want to pick a good spot for an entire week next year, we might have to reserve our spot within the next few months.

Cat watched the little ones while we walked across the campgrounds to take a look.  As we walked past, we noticed the people there were already packing up!  Check out isn’t until 4, so we had time to pack up our stuff and get over there.  However, we wanted to get settled in early so we could relax the rest of our day.

We packed up all of our stuff, putting all of the wet things in the back.  I was going to walk over there with the kids since it was such a beautiful day, and the van was packed in almost every seat.  Just as we were about to walk off, Nate shut the door, with the keys in the ignition and the van running.  We locked our keys in the van.

Unfortunately, my purse was in the van.  As were my keys.  There was no way to get back in.  Nate set off to find the campsite hosts to see if they could assist us.  While we waited, I took the kids down to the lake to explore.  I decided to take them over to our campsite to occupy them and give them a new place to explore.  Then I walked all the way back to see how the van situation was going.

The campground hosts were there with Nate.  They recommended calling the local police to come out and open it for free.  Nate was worried we would run out of gas if we had to wait, so he called a local tow truck to do it instead.   We ended up chatting while we waited.  Our hosts were actually from a neighboring town to our hometown!  I didn’t want to leave the kids unattended for too long, so I set off to our new site again.  It turns out, it was $90.00 to unlock our door.  Ouch.  I think waiting for the police and buying a gas can might have been cheaper.  Ah well, hindsight.

Once we got everything set up, we decided to check out the local town and also pick up some water.  Ely wasn’t what I expected.  I think I romantasized it, as I had the other towns on the drive up.  It was a pretty typical small town.  There was the main strip that went right through the center.  The shops were all mostly Mom and Pop stores, but there were a few regulars near the outskirts, like Dairy Queen and Family Dollar.  It was quite scenic from the top of the hill.

We didn’t stay too long, as we wanted to get back.  The day had escaped us.  We decided it would be good to start dinner early so we could get to bed at a decent time.  The big girls and I played card games while Nate cooked chicken over the fire.   Princess and I had gluten free grilled cheese.   For dessert, we had the camping classic, smores.  Our second day of camping was a lot of fun!

Have you had any mishaps while camping?

Check out our video of our day!

Continue on to day 3 of our camping trip!
http://cisforcomfort.com/checking-ely-minnesota/

Did you miss day 1?  Read all about it here:

Bear Head Lake State Park

Bear Head Lake State Park

Camping, Day 1

Around 1 pm on Sunday, we drove up to Bear Head Lake State Park in our RV.  The van was packed to the brim, and we were set for a fun week of camping partly because we managed to get the best glamping tents for less.  Never having been to this part of Minnesota, I looked forward to a fun new adventure of exploring. The RV was in its best shape since it had just come from the mechanics and was just installed with the new rearview camera we found on this buying guide.

The final week before camping, I was dreading camping.  Going somewhere new is always scary for me.  Adding in anxiety, severe food allergy prep, packing for a family of six for a week and prepping a home for our absence is a recipe for panic attacks.  At one point, I said that I never wanted to go camping again. I visited www.campingconsole.com to make sure I had everything for enjoying a perfect outdoors.

Also, I was worried about my Grandpa.  I didn’t want to leave him.  My parents insisted I go.  I so rarely get a break and camping is something our family looks forward to every year.  Grandpa’s health has really improved and I’m hoping he might be well enough to take him off of hospice care!

Once on the road, a large weight was lifted.  All of the hard work was done.  This was our third time camping, so I had a bit of experience for what to expect in the setup department.  At this point, I was only mildly apprehensive about exploring someplace new.

The forecast predicted a 40% chance of rain for part of the day on Wednesday.  It started raining as we left our driveway and continued to do so on and off for most of the way up north.  Thankfully, it stopped shortly after we passed Cloquet.

I had this image in my mind of what I expected the area to look like.  Deep woods, occasional small towns filled with romantic charm, stretches of roads with nothing but thick trees.  I was right about the woods and thick trees and long stretches of nothing but wilderness, but I did not expect the size of the towns or the amount of normalcy.

The city of Virginia was about as large as my town.  Along the tops of their hills were many large wind mills for power.  They had all of the same amenities that we have.  If I had been dropped there and not been told where I was prior, I would have guessed I was in a town close to the cities.

As we neared Bear Head State Park, we encountered a large amount of road construction going on.  I’m assuming they are in the process of making a single two-lane, one each way road into two roads with two lanes.  We almost missed our turn because of this.

The stretch of road into the park was beautiful and peaceful.  Tall pines bordered the road with glimpses of lakes along each side.  The cabins and homes along the way had personal name signs and cute mailboxes.  The sign for Bear Head Lake was impressive, with gold lettering and an image of a bear head.

Our campsite was in a grove of tall white pine tree.  It had a nice big space for our tent.  Getting unpacked and setup was quick and efficient.  We were located right across from the bathrooms, which was nice for our little ones.

Nate and I took a short walk to the lake to check it out while Cat watched the kids.  Once we got back, we made our dinner of hamburgers for the three big kids and Nate and gluten-free grilled cheese for Princess and me.

One of my favorite things is to sit around a campfire with my family.  We enjoyed the silence of the woods and relaxing next to a toasty campfire in the cool night air.  I let one of the kids have the camera so they could take a picture of me.  After giving them a smile, they joked about making a silly angry face.  I tried my best, but it looks like I’m blinking.  🙂

That night, it stormed and rained heavily.  Thankfully we stayed dry and warm in our beds.  It was a great first day of camping.

Have you been to Bear Head State Park?  How well do you handle the stress of packing for camping?

Check out our video!

Continue on to day 2 of our camping trip!
http://cisforcomfort.com/locked-keys-van/

If At First, You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

5 Week Workout Challenge: Week 5, Day 1
Schaar’s Bluff

After getting sick, we missed week 5 of our workout challenge.  Rather than give up, I thought it would be best to try again.  I’m using the old proverb, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  I don’t like to give up. I’m the type of person who will tackle a goal over and over until it’s accomplished.

We set up a playdate with some friends at Schaar’s Bluff.  It was a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect, there were a few fluffy clouds in the sky and a mild breeze to cool us off.  We enjoyed exploring the trails and seeing the wildlife.

We walked to the park to let the kids play for a little while.  I think my favorite part about play dates is having another adult to talk to, for a little while.   Being surrounded by children 24/7, it can get lonely.  Usually, when Nate gets home he’s too tired to do much else except sleep.

I know that someday the time when my children are little and dependent on me will pass.  Someday, I’ll miss these days terribly.  Having a teenager, I already know how fast little ones can grow.  So I’m soaking up as much time with my children as I can.  Someday, I’ll have the rest of my life for adult talk.

Lately, Nate has been watching The Great British Baking Show.  While I was on my walk, he was inspired to bake.  He decided to make me a gift of a gluten free, corn free, chocolate cake.

While the cake was cooling, we made a trip to visit my Grandfather.  He was doing amazingly well!  Talking, wide awake and joking around.  It made me so happy to see him so well!

After visiting Grandpa, we made a trip to Gander Mountain.  They’re all closing and having sales as a result.  We got some lures for fishing and a few new work shirts for Nate.  Princess was especially fond of all of the lures.  She picked out so many we had to put two-thirds back!  She is really excited to try fishing!

After dinner, we gave our cake a try.  It was so beautiful, I couldn’t wait to eat it.  Before I even sat down, I took a bite and immediately turned around to hide my puckered lips.  Nate asked me how it was.  I think I gave him an “Mmmmm!”  as I gulped down some water.

I waited for Nate to take a bite of his own before commenting.  I laughed as he grimaced.  He told me he thought he forgot the sugar.  It wasn’t horrible, but the cocoa powder was really bitter without any sweetener.  I can’t help but laugh at the memory.  It was so sweet of him to make a cake.

Has a goal ever gotten away from you?  Did you pick back up and continue?

Check out our video!

5 Week Workout Challenge
Previous Week: Week 4, Day 4: Afton State Park
Next Week: Week 5, Day 2: Kawishiwi Falls