Two Lives, One Lifestyle


Love of the Land by Katie
October 20, 2010, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family, Katie

A mere 10 years ago (shoot, it’s been 10 years??!!) I used to dread being forced to spend a weekend at The Cabin.  I was in high school and come on I could not miss a whole weekend of my ‘social life’ and AIM.  To be honest I barely had a social life; I was definitely not going to any parties.  I just wanted to watch soccer games and play my clarinet in marching band and have sleepovers.  Maybe an innocent make-out sesh after 6 months of dating the same guy.  Oh yeah, and study my butt off because that’s what the weekends were really for.

Now? It’s really hard to fathom why I had such annoyance with my mom for dragging me to a gorgeous place separated from electricity and society to enjoy relaxation, family, friends, food, and nature.

But I guess at age 14, there isn’t much I truly wanted to get away from.  Oh financial stress? What’s that?  I can’t afford to buy a new pair of jeans,  DANG IT!!  Finding a job?? I totally had to take two days off from scooping ice cream to be here, ugh.   Relationships?  He’s going to wonder what I’m doing without an AIM away message! Hang out with my family? Okay, I actually never hated that part.

Despite relying on coolers for the majority of our refrigeration and a “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” toilet mentality, it’s such a great getaway.  A vacation 2 hours away!  And when you’re on vacation, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.  That’s definitely something I didn’t appreciate at 14.

It’s pretty much a guarantee for good beer, good food, and lots of laughs.

Just sit back and enjoy the humble surroundings (while we eat like we’re about to go on Survivor), and come back smelling like a camp fire with greasy hair.

What did you consider a pain in your ass as a child but now completely look forward to?

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Just This Once by Katie
September 27, 2010, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Family, Katie

Just as I had gotten into the groove of blogging and paying more attention… life up and gets crazy again.  Last weekend my stepdad’s brother passed away very unexpectedly and the whole week was spent with family- we dropped everything.  Not only is it tough to lose an uncle (step or not) who I’ve gotten to know over the past 14 years, my heart was breaking for my stepdad and his 4 other brothers, their parents, his wife and daughter, and all of the people who were clearly touched by his life.

The silver lining of it all has to be the strengthening and binding of family.  Day in and day out we spent with family, and though we cried there were a lot of laughs and then a lot of joyful tears about the bonding.  I can place the blame on John Jameson for at least a few of those late night tears.   In our late-night conversations we all came to that point we must remind ourselves of: we only have this one chance at this life and you’ve got to go for what you want and need out of it.  If it weren’t for the sorrows we wouldn’t quite appreciate the joy.  Don’t spend too much time thinking on the past or future- life’s going by faster than you can imagine.  Man, getting so deep here you’d think I was having a nip of the whiskey now.

Anyhow, I’ve got to say that my parental and family situation is probably a little more… unusual.  But I also couldn’t imagine it being any better.  First off- my mom has 4 siblings, my dad has 5 and my Bob has 5, plus one of my mom’s best friends Mary had 8 siblings.  And they all grew up in the same neighborhood- plus many of my Uncles, Aunts, and a lot of family friends (hi Marianne!). Think of all the cousins and cousin-like people I have.  They were tight-knit and the whole neighborhood hung out together, not in front of the TV (Oh did I mention the strong Irish Catholic vibe of the neighborhood?). It’s just something that I think totally lacks in this generation. For instance, my dad was good friends with a few of my stepdad’s brothers growing up and causing trouble together.  Same with my Aunt Laurie.  Maybe it sounds a little too close for some but as a divorced kid it couldn’t have been better than my dad and stepdad knew each other and their whole families already.   And in a situation like this, it is unbelievable support we are all giving and receiving from this wide net of friends and family.

This all probably seems a little off-topic and someone somewhere probably thinks I’m bragging about my family but it’s all just about appreciating the everyday and the people you have around you. 

But I am kind of proud to be part of such a crazy family unit, won’t lie.



Guest Star Granola Bar by Katie
September 12, 2010, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Baking, Family, Katie

Well this post is long overdue.  My sister made these granola bars weeks ago but after uploading the pictures, my computer started to crash every time I opened WordPress.  Turns out it was just my 6 year old laptop I got before college (happy birthday computer?) and not all computers.

Enough about technology problems, the granola bars were based on this recipe by Alton Brown.   I’m not sure about honey as a sweetener in these because there was a weird honey aftertaste.

We were basically excited to both be home at the same time, sipping wine, and talking each others ears off so I started to take pictures of her making granola bars.

Oats!

Nuts!

Dried fruit! Regular and golden raisins, cherries, cranberries.

The “glue.”

Mix it all up.

Make a pile and tell a sassy story.

Flatten everything out. The original recipe calls for a smaller pan but Madelyn has made these a few times and prefers thinner bars.

Some of the bars crumbled but the better for eating in a bowl.

And as usual, making them at home means they are cheaper, you know what’s in them, and your sister can take pictures..



Tomatoes and Rice by Katie
July 21, 2010, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Cravings, Dinner, Family, Grilling, Katie, Original Recipe

Simple, straightforward name for a simple dish.  This was my all-time, hands-down, ultimate favorite dish growing up.  I still love it, though I find it tough to decide on a single favorite now.  Outside of my family, I don’t know anyone or anywhere that eats this so let me know if you have because we are probably soul mates.

The steps are simple enough: find good tomatoes and dice them.

Then cover the tomatoes in Italian Dressing and refrigerate.

To make it “perfect” use Wegmans Parmesan Italian Dressing.  But of course with Wegmans far away from me, I can’t always achieve perfection.

The Newman’s Own just did not have enough zesty flavor for tomatoes and rice, though I like it in a salad context.

While the tomatoes marinate and chill, make white rice.  Another key to tomatoes and rice is white rice.  I prefer brown rice for just about anything else except this.  It’s the childhood favoritism coming out.

Finally, cover the hot white fluffy rice with the cold marinated tomatoes.  Enjoy.

To really live it up, have some grilled zucchini on the side.  This was my requested birthday dinner for many years (until I discovered Mexican food and margaritas).

The zucchini was marinated in ground pepper, salt, balsamic vinegar (nice caramelizing), and a really small touch of oil.

What would your “birthday meal” from childhood be?



The Cottage by Katie
July 2, 2010, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Family, Holidays, Home, Katie

Every year for my whole life, and some of my mom’s childhood as well, we’ve gone to “The Cottage” for the 4th of July weekend.  My mom’s childhood friend Mary is one of 9 kids.  Mary’s parents built the cottage on Lake Ontario many years ago and every year, her whole family comes, plus our family, and my Aunt Laurie and her family, and tons of friends.  Since we clearly can’t fit everyone in the cottage, we bring tents.

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(I love the sun set reflecting on the tree branches.)

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As kids, we played all day- swimming, softball, capture the flag, board games, everything.  Now we still play a lot but also appreciate the vacation time and some adult beverages.

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I’ve missed a 4th at the cottage twice before: once I was in Ireland and it barely phased me. The next time I was in Boulder for a research internship and cried when everyone called me.  This year, I’m currently unemployed/ job-hunting and figured the $400 plane ticket wasn’t my best financial decision.

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The first night, adults get to go out to dinner.  Once we were finally 21, my cousin Sean and Mary’s son (practically a cousin) Alex got to join in.  Usually Caitlin is a part of this fab group but I don’t know where she was here. All of our birthdays are within in a few months.

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It’s nothing too fancy but the distinction of “kid” and “adult” is always significant, right?

The next few days are filled with relaxation and sun and softball.  And guitar playing and trampoline jumping. Except for the times when there are micro-bursts (mini lake hurricanes).

Tent trying to stand up to the wind.

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Some nicer days.

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And water balloon launching..

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I used to work at a restaurant on the lake and people are constantly calling it the ocean.  We can’t see across to Canada of course, but really? You’re in upstate NY!

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Later in the day, we gather at the “Ring of Fire.”  As you can see, it’s an intense fire of citronella candles.

By day (I swear my step-sister Pix isn’t even drinking there, but she looks totally hung-over).

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The Ring of Fire involves sitting in a circle for hours to chat and sip beverages, sing (which always comes down to Irish drinking songs late at night), and generally have fun.

And by night:

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“Oh Bobbayyyy”

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I literally have hundreds of sunset pictures from the cottage.  Another great nighttime pastime.

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Hi, Canada!

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If it’s not too windy, we’ll have a beach campfire.

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This is what happens much later; afterhours at the campfire.

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On whichever day we officially celebrate the fourth, there are even more traditions.

I never thought to take a picture of the food table in the past, but everyone brings a dish to pass and then the regular grilling items are grilled.  There are at least 20 or 30 different foods and desserts to choose from so you better choose wisely.

Later, the cottage-next-door sets up an ice cream sundae making station. There is always a nice tape of cheesy American tunes going too.

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And once the sun goes down, the fireworks begin.

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And then more quality family and friend time.

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I’m going to walk away from my computer now because I’m about to make a really bad impulse purchase.

Do you have any traditions you just hate to miss?  I never realized how strong my attachment was to all the family fun until I moved far away!



All the Dad’s by Katie
June 20, 2010, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Family, Katie

I’ve mentioned it before- my family is huge.  So here is a happy father’s day to all of ’em!!

My Uncle Fred, Grandpa, and Dad..

My step-dad Bobby..

My dad, grandpa, four uncles, and aunt:

Uncle Scott… are you ready for your close-up or what? (He’s usually behind a camera himself and took two of the other pictures in this post).

And Grandpa Chuck..

I’m definitely missing a few but you know I love ya!



The Jig’s Up by Katie
May 21, 2010, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Family, Katie, Motivation, Playlist

I have a little running music secret.  When I really need that extra push to hit a good running pace, do you know what I listen to?  Irish dancing music. Jigs, reels, all of it! Plus some non-traditional stuff.  I’ve actually avoided including it on lists of great workout songs because well, if anyone else (other than my sister) listens to this to run, I would love to know.

Some of my favorites:

  • “Fiddling Ladies” by The Chieftains (Especially 3:15 and on, I ran a quarter mile at under a 7 minute pace listening to the end of the song. Quite fittingly, it was at a St. Pat’s 5 miler.)
  • “Lord of the Dance” by Irish Ceili Band (slow beginning, fast forward)
  • “The Night That Patty Murphy Died” by Great Big Sea
  • “Irish Pub Song” by Flogging Molly
  • “Amazing Grace” by Dropkick Murphys

I must say that my mom raised us listening to this stuff and bagpipes and fiddles don’t make my ears bleed, though some people hate them.

Your legs just want to move in a happy jig when you listen to this music! Or maybe it’s just years of Irish dancing.  Okay, someone try it and let me know.