Midwestern Magic, Part 1

Wisconsin Dells in October

Matt and I began our trip by flying into Chicago… and then renting a car and driving four hours away. DOH! Here’s why. My grandmother and lots of other family members live in Minnesota. Airfare was considerably higher to fly into St. Paul, for some reason, than it was to fly into Chicago. So – we rented a sexy Nissan Sentra and hightailed it to the Wisconsin Dells (halfway to my grandmother’s house in MN), where we spent the night in a seedy Super 8 and then woke up to to do some tourist stuff – including nomming on delicious Dunkin’ Donuts!

I touched the rocks as we squeezed by!

First up: An Original Wisconsin Dells Duck tour! Ducks are amphibious vehicles used in World War 2 – they’re half boat, and half truck, so they can journey on land or in water. We started our tour by splashing into the Wisconsin River – marveling at the changing leaves and awesome rock formations. The duck crawled out of the water and into the woods – through narrow rock crevices and trees like these. The tour guide was a sarcastic college student no doubt used to pleasing the more elderly of the group, so he had a good time ribbing me about my “Elton John Sunglasses” and why Matt and I weren’t hard at work unlike all the retired folks on his boat. It was fun!

Moo-ve over Wisconsin, we're comin' thru!

After our duck boat tour, we were on our way to Minnesota – but not without a stop at the “cheese factory”. Proving once again that my career in marketing communications has no effect on whether or not I fall for traditional marketing tactics, I told Matt we HAD to stop at the advertised “cheese factory” off the highway. Cheese Factory? More like tiny cheese store with no aforementioned factory and lots of cheesy (har har) tourist tsotchkes. There was, however, a chance for me to fulfill a life long dream of posing for a photo with three very mild-mannered Holstein cows. And by mild-mannered, I mean fake – because come on – what sane person  would really sit on a cow?

Bringing the bib back in style - one fried cheese curd at a time.

We picked up a bag of cheese curds for the hell of it and we were off again, with one more stop to make at the Norske Nook to pick up a blueberry pie to bring to the family. Norske Nook is a Norwegian bakery and eatery based in Osseo, WI – a tiny smear of a town with wide roads and beautiful old farm houses. As a little girl, my grandfather would take us to the Norske Nook and my sister and I would press our faces against the glass of the pie display case, oohing and ahhing over the many delicacies that lay before us. We got our giant blueberry crumble pie – and with one last stop at Culver’s for a quick lunch of butter burgers and fried cheese curds, we were off to Minnesota!

Check back on Friday to read all about our time in Minnesota – including tales of my unfortunate diet coke-butt-bump and late night adventures with Top the Tater!

PS: If you enjoy this blog (And I hope you do! If you don’t… well… *tear*) , please “like” it on Facebook at facebook.com/doublechindiary ! Big thanks to all of you that already have!

Post-BBQ Bulge

Helo my lovely bloggies! I hope those of you in the states had a great long weekend, and those of you outside the states had an equally lovely weekend. After 7 hours in the car on the I-5 (flat, devoid of any scenery), I was happy to be home last night at 8 pm. We drove up Friday evening to Petaluma, where Matt and my parents live. (What’s the correct grammar for that? Matt and Mine? Matt and I’s? Our parents? Someone chime in – Amy, I’m lookin’ at you.) Friday was a stressful day at work, and as I had hoped I would not do, I was tired, bitchy and stressed out Friday night so I picked up a $5 Little Caesar’s pizza. That was the first not-so-health-concious choice of the weekend.

The I-5 in all of its flat glory.

Saturday, I had delicious thai food for lunch… and then Saturday night, my in-laws prepared a BBQ feast of artichoke crostini, cheese burgers with bacon and avocado,(so simple, and so yum!) corn on the cob, potato salad, and chili. Dessert was a big old slab of apple pie covered with vanilla ice cream. I didn’t gorge but I definitely ate more than I should have, and regretted it that night as my stomach felt like an over-blown balloon. I’m spoiled to have awesome cooks on both sides of my family – and we’re super lucky that as a married couple, our parents get along and we eat, vacation and hang out together 🙂

Sunday was where the real damage was done! The daytime was fine, as me, Matt, my siblings and their significant others went to Lake Sonoma. Matt and I had Subway sandwiches, BBQ potato chips, and Hornsby Hard Ciders, but it’s hard to pig out when you’re swimming and laying in the sun.

Water Babies in Lake Sonoma

We returned to another BBQ feast at my parent’s house – this time of smoked and brined tri-trip, smoked turkey, potato salad, pasta salad and baked beans. My mom makes incredible potato salad – tossed with sour cream and mayonnaise to make it ultra cool and creamy. A few chopped eggs and lots of crisp celery makes it a total comfort food treat – I definitely had seconds. Dessert was homemade cheesecake (amazing – with a sourcream top, made by my father-in-law, Mike) and creme brulee (delicious, with a crackly sugar top) made by my dad.

My mom's amazing potato salad

 

To add to that, a bottle of Gewurtztraminer was cracked open and my sister had a “Cheese – Off”, in which we all tasted and chose our favorites in a blind taste test of Wisconsin Cheese vs. California Cheese. (I’ll write about that later!)

So, as you can tell, the food choices of the weekend were not “diet friendly”, but they were “family friendly” and I had a great time seeing all my loved ones. My goal is to be back on plan and tracking this week, and try and squeeze in some gym time. I’m already behind on that goal since it’s Tuesday night and I’m doing homework and now I have class the next two nights…but… I’ll catch up. I will, I will. When life gets busy and the food around you is so tempting, how you do stay on track? (At least I swam all the way across the lake on Saturday! That was definitely good cardio!)