Family and Camping and Raspberry Picking, Oh My!

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Bug starts school late this year which is such a blessing in disguise. While I yearn for the long productive work hours, I’m thankful we’re getting more time to squeeze in some summer fun before the back-to-school grind starts up again. It’s been a tug-a-war on my heart trying to fit in work hours and play hours while time rushes past me. I feel like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and I’ll be eighty. Life, please slow down! I want to enjoy you!

My parents kidnapped Bug and I for a few days. My car needs some work and I’m trying not to drive it so they picked us up and we headed off to the sticks. It felt good to just let go and be a prisoner to someone else’s schedule for a change. The sticks always feels like home deep down.

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We drove up to the hills (Oak Glen) to go camping in my parents’ cute little mini trailer that they recently purchased after selling my Grandpa’s house (that used to be my house). While I’m sad to say goodbye to that old mobile home in that old crazy neighborhood that I’m so fond of… the wonderful backyard and the walls that kept me safe and sound for a year, I’m glad that the money went to such a great recreational vehicle.

What’s a recreational vehicle, asks Bug? It’s a vehicle for fun, I say!

And boy was it. It’s super small and cramped but it has  three beds (a bunk bed and a table that turns into a double), a kitchen and full bathroom inside. It even has a working shower!  We call it glamping when we go camping in it because it is so far from roughing it.

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We stayed in this old resort that reminds me of some place Baby might stay in the movie, Dirty Dancing. It had a huge clubhouse and two pools, a miniature golf area and even an old dank tavern, an old rusty statue of Yogi Bear and a grotto cave with a pool that had been filled in with cement. Everything was run down and looked like it had been ridden hard and put away wet.

We wandered around amongst the ghosts of better times, imagining all the people who used to play there.  Everything was deserted because we were there before their busy tourist season and by the looks of their decor, the 80’s might have been their peak. We had the whole place to ourselves, which was awesome. Well, until I wanted a cup of coffee. Then I was kind of bummed that everything was closed. But that was okay because I had packed our French press of course!

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Long live glamping! I even got some work done. Not nearly enough of course—the story of my life.

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The next day we visited Riley Farms, an old favorite of ours. Bug didn’t remember the last time we’d been there. It was fresh all over again.

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Bethany and her family drove up to meet us and then we went raspberry picking! We LOVE raspberries. It was the end of the season and there were so many berries. Half of them were dried up right on the branch. It almost made me wonder if they’d taste like those freeze-dried raspberries we buy from Trader Joe’s and put in our cereal. I was too afraid to try them. We just picked and picked and picked the ripe ones.
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We couldn’t taste them as we picked unfortunately because they said they were sprayed with something organic, whatever that might be…

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Raspberry picking is hard work when it’s a hundred degrees out. We were a sweaty bunch. But it was worth it. The skies there are always so big and blue and amazing. The day before a summer storm had blown through and it had misted all day. We sure wished we’d picked that day to pick berries on instead of this bright sunny one. It was hot, hot, HOT.

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But still worth it. This farm is so beautiful. I bet it would be amazing for weddings and events.

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Then we drove back down the hill and refreshed ourselves with Starbucks (of course!). There is nothing like a cold air-conditioned Starbucks and an iced latte on a hot hot day. Phew!

I feel like we got our summer’s worth out of that trip. My kid isn’t going to go back to school and write essays about how she spent her whole summer cooped up inside watching Netflix while her mom worked. So I feel good about that. Unfortunately, now I’m even more behind but them’s the breaks!

Back to the grind!

 

Glamping in the Sticks and Tomato-Basil Jam!

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My parents are finally back from their happy-little-retired-people romp all over the United States. They’ve been gone for months and I have to admit I’ve been feeling a little abandoned!

Really, I’m so happy for them. After years and years of bad luck and hard knocks, my dad working harder than anyone I know and being gone for months and months away from his home and family… they are FINALLY living the sweet life. And the best part is that they are still healthy enough to appreciate it. They bought a little trailer and they’ve been camping all over the place. It’s their dream come true.

But now they are finally back and you know what that means!  Quick Stick Fix!!! Woo hoo!  I love where I live but I have missed the sticks. Especially summer in the sticks with it’s crazy-abundant garden-harvest time. Oh, I miss my tomato garden so much!  Good thing my parents have a garden that is hooked up to a drip system and waters itself while they’ve been gone. It pretty much grew into a jungle.

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Tomatoes! Basil! Mint as tall as you! Corn, squash, peaches, plums! It’s a dream out here. A crazy wild out of control garden jungle of a dream.

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Of course Bug loves the sticks. It’s a kid wonderland out here. Junk everywhere, tree houses, broken down clubhouses (ie: death traps), weeds that grow as high as your head,  big panting dogs that like to play fetch, eight cats and of course all the produce you could ever want to eat right at your fingertips. She and her cousin Super Chic have been having a blast.

I call it glamping when I’m here because well, things are not exactly spic and span. If you know how my parents are then you know what I’m talking about. Cleanliness is not on the top of their list but that’s okay because hospitality and charm are. So you just can’t stress about clean bathrooms or dirty dishes, dust or spiders or (gasp!) animal hair. It’s just part of life. Suck up your city-slicker squeamishness and make the best of it.   You just have to let go and give in and if you can do that you’ll have a really good time. I love it here.

If you pretend you are camping then it’s actually really super glamourous. They have electricity , hot showers, air conditioning and wifi! My mom stocks via coffee just for me and my dad makes the best waffles ever. And we get to sleep in their trailer which is just one step away in cuteness from an Airstream.

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Last night when it finally cooled down I walked the garden with my mom and we harvested about three pounds of tomatoes in about five minutes. I was so excited about the sheer quantity of tomatoes that I talked my mom into making a batch of tomato-basil jam. She found the recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens 2013 Canning magazine and it peaked both of our interest. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea to tackle at nine o’clock at night but I can be a bit manic and persuasive at times. My poor mom. Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t see me all that often.

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Anyway, the jam turned out really cool. It’s definitely something of a novelty that you break out at parties with fancy cheeses and crackers or spread on a crunchy piece of sourdough toast or something. I wouldn’t want to eat it in a peanut butter sandwich or anything. It’s sweet but definitely tomato-y and faintly reminds you of cold pizza or spaghetti sauce. But I don’t care I think it’s wonderful and I’m so proud to be taking five jars home.

I love the sticks!