Finding End-of-Summer Happiness

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Though it hasn’t felt like it with the wicked hot and humid weather, summer in New England is winding down. Like squeezing a wedge of lemon in a glass of iced tea, we’ve been squeezing in a bit of our favorite things about the season. Come visit with me – I’ve got some tips, tricks, and some good conversation to share!

I’ll be honest with you: 2021 has been a tough year for us, and this summer hasn’t been ideal. It seems like we get stressful news at every turn. A very dear farmgirl friend summed it up during a recent chat. She said, “Everyone’s life now is so complicated and crazy, somehow.” Isn’t that the truth? So, we must have chins up, and enjoy the little moments of happiness we can find amid the craziness and stress we all experience. 

Every year since our kids were little, my best friend, Andrea, has invited me and my daughter for a week at her lake house on beautiful Loon Lake in the Adirondacks. We were so happy that we could go again this year. (As kids get older, you never know when it is the “last” year, as their schedules become so crazy as they head into adulthood. We both have “only” children, making us even more aware of the end of childhood traditions). 

The drive up was fun, with no traffic. It was nice to be one-on-one with my girl, who made us a great “playlist” of songs to listen to during the three+ hour drive. When we got there, Andrea and I took a walk down to the beach, catching a beautiful sunset. 

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That evening, we watched a movie outdoors on the deck. Andrea found the foldable, anti-crease fabric screen on Amazon.

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Her husband, Peter, built an outdoor movie frame using PVC pipe, at a mere fraction of the cost of buying one ready-made.

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To hold the screen taut, they used small bungee cords found at the local hardware store. The entire cost of the frame was under $25! 

A cup of decaf, chocolate chip cookies, my best friend, and Judy Garland = Suburban Farmgirl Happiness!

A cup of decaf, chocolate chip cookies, my best friend, and Judy Garland = Suburban Farmgirl Happiness!

We were able to watch two movies outdoors during the week; one was a classic 1940’s Judy Garland flick, the other was the classic, City Slickers…a perfect summer choice! “Helloooooooooo…” (one of my favorite Billy Crystal lines).

The rest of the week, it started to rain. And rain. And rain. It rained day and night, and never wanted to stop. It didn’t matter! Best friends have fun, no matter what! We worked on knitting projects, watched great old movies, and binged-watched the classic Pride and Prejudice mini-series, from 1995, starring Colin Firth (my husband was relieved to hear he missed that one). 

Even rainy days are picturesque in the Adirondacks!

Even rainy days are picturesque in the Adirondacks!

Rainy days are good for junking, so one afternoon, we ventured out to the adorable antique shops in town. Even rainy days are picturesque in the Adirondacks!

Swimmin’ with the loons!

Swimmin’ with the loons!

Finally, we could NOT take the rain anymore, so in “Lucy and Ethel” style, we donned our swimsuits and went swimming, no matter the deluge! As long as there was no thunder or lightning, we figured it was okay. The water was a bit cold at first, but once you got in, it was refreshing. Our teens thought we were nuts, and skipped the swim, but the loons didn’t mind!

An adult loon swims nearby

An adult loon swims nearby

A juvenile loon, too big now to ride on its parent’s back, ventures near.

A juvenile loon, too big now to ride on its parent’s back, ventures near.

Loon Lake is named for the aquatic loons that inhabit the area. Beautiful black-headed birds that resemble ducks, the diving birds are scientifically classified separately from ducks and geese. Their call is beautiful – haunting and lonesome. They lay only one to two eggs a year, so seeing babies is very exciting!

Andrea’s lake house is a beautiful, cozy vacation home. Like many older homes, storage is not the best. One rainy afternoon, we tackled organizing the cabinet above the fridge.

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Since space is a premium, I suggested using that area for things that are used often, but not every day, and removing things like paper partyware, to somewhere other than the kitchen.

Before…

Before…

And after!

And after!

Using vintage items like coolers and trunks is a great way to make use of decor and “hide” items that are infrequently used.

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An antique, metal shipping trunk adds chic vintage style with lots of storage in Andrea’s lakehouse guest room.

I love the antique, metal shipping trunk that adds chic, vintage style with lots of storage in Andrea’s lakehouse guest room. 

The last day of our stay was picture-perfect, with sun. We spent it relaxing on the beach. 

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After driving home, that afternoon came more stressful news: the largest hurricane to hit our area in forty years was heading straight for us! My husband prepared by getting gas, checking the groceries, and turning on the generator to make sure it was ready. Our electric company predicted a TWENTY-ONE DAY power outage! The three of us worked until 10:30 PM battening down the hatches: removing hanging and potted plants, picking garden veggies, closing up the camper, and moving outdoor furniture.

We are happy to report that the monster storm took a turn, and all we had was a ton of rain. We had one “close call” – a tree, landing within mere inches of Gidget the Glamper, who obviously has “nine lives”. It was so close that leaves were wrapped around the door handle!

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The tree landed in a way that it narrowly missed our picnic table, too! Counting our blessings! 

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It has taken so much time to put everything back and clean up the yard, but we didn’t mind it; things could have been so much worse!

FEED ME!

FEED ME!

We have not had the bird feeders and hummingbird feeders up for awhile, due to the awful mystery-illness that has been affecting and killing birds around our nation. When we took down the hanging plants, it was too much for this little hummer, who protested by hovering inches by our faces until we put them up again!

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Again, making the most of it, we’ve been burning the broken wood in the fire pit, spending time outside conversing under the stars, instead of watching the evening news, which only makes us anxious. Even though days are humid in the 90’s, evenings this time of year in New England tend to cool down a bit. 

Hot Dog Odin cools off under the A/C and watches tv.

Hot Dog” Odin cools off under the A/C and watches tv.

Who knows what fall has in store for us all, how much “normalcy” we will have? We have learned to take days as they come. We were happy that our favorite county fair was open in Rhinebeck, New York, after being canceled in 2020.

Happy but melting!

Happy but melting!

We spent a happy family day enjoying the hot sun, grabbing cold lemonade, a yummy milkshake, and walking around seeing the sights. We went on a less-crowded weekday, and did not feel unsafe at all. 

I love the vintage tractors!

I love the vintage tractors!

Helloooooooo…

Helloooooooo…

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“And then SHE said…”

And then SHE said…”

My favorite chicken of the day. You can tell how hot it was - the poultry was all panting!

My favorite chicken of the day. You can tell how hot it was – the poultry was all panting!

We loved seeing all the animals, but the babies really made us smile! 

Is there anything cuter than PIGLETS???

Is there anything cuter than PIGLETS???

Baby BUNS!

Baby BUNS!

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We enjoyed the day, and stopped at a local farmer’s stand for fresh peaches and fresh corn – another of summer’s best gifts.

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Arriving home, we caught a glimpse of more babies – the turkey family was in the driveway again. The babies are bigger pullets now, looking more like mini-turkeys!

The next day, we couldn’t wait to eat the farm-fresh corn we picked up. It’s been so hot and humid, we have been doing everything we can to avoid turning on the oven in the kitchen. To go with our fresh corn, nothing says yummy summer food like classic fried chicken. Unfortunately, my daughter is now allergic to dairy, just like I was as a child. Unlike my allergy, which I outgrew as a teenager, her allergy has not gone away. For weeks, she has been craving buttermilk-fried chicken, which she can not eat! I came up with this recipe, Nicole’s Mock-Buttermilk, Dairy-Free Southern Fried Chicken, which I think hits the mark!

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I use legs, thighs, and boneless breasts. In one flat dish, mix 1 cup panko bread crumbs, ¼ tsp. pepper, ½ tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. smoked paprika.  I love smoked paprika; it gives such a nice flavor to food without being too spicy. In a separate dish, beat 2 eggs with ½ cup oat milk, and ½ tsp. lemon juice. (Almond milk does not have the right consistency).

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In a plastic bag, add one cup of corn flakes. Using a rolling pin, coarsely crush the flakes. 

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Dredge each piece of chicken in the egg and oat milk mixture, then dip in the bread crumb mixture. Dredge again in the egg/oat milk, and coat each piece by shaking in the bag with the crushed corn flakes. 

In a cast iron skillet in hot oil (I use coconut oil), fry each piece, turning often, and being careful not to burn but until crispy outside and cooked inside with no pink. Transfer to a baker’s cooling rack on top of a paper towel for a few moments to drain the oil before serving on a platter. Enjoy!

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Add a fresh salad, and you have a perfect summer meal! We are happy that we are now getting tons of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. One tomato I picked looks like it “nose” something! 

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I hope this post made you smile, and that you are squeezing in a bit of what you love best about the season, too! See you next month, and remember to leave me a comment so I know you dropped by!

 

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

 

Leave a comment 23 Comments

  1. Tammy L Thomson says:

    That was fun! Thank you for taking us along on your adventures and day to day. I feel a little bit rejuvenated, some how. :) And Love the nosy tomato!!

  2. Laurel Pries says:

    Great visit Nicole!!

  3. Judy says:

    Thanks Nicole for sharing all that fun stuff.
    As usual, I felt as if I was there too.
    I could hear the loon calls from here.
    (P.S. You are such a handsome family)
    Hugs&Squeezles…and continue to stay safe!

  4. Linda Weston says:

    Great blog Nicole, will we ever get back to normal? It just seems like when you see a small light at the end of the tunnel somthing else happens. But glad you folks made the best of things and carried on. Great pictures.♥️

  5. Donna says:

    Yummy yummy. Sounds !like some good times. We also had a fair. And loved every minute of it

  6. Judy From Maine says:

    Great up beat post. Thanks so much for the morning smiles.

  7. Donna Kozak says:

    This post did make me smile…and I loved to see the baby bunnies – I only see one at a time in our yard. Now on to making tomato sauce from all the ripened tomatoes that showed up overnite!

  8. Bonnie McKee says:

    Thank you for the lovely post! Viewing your pictures was like a mini vacation for me
    So glad you were spared major damage from the passing storm!
    Take heart, cooler autumn days and hot apple cider are just around the corner. ❤️
    Happy September!
    Bonnie, in Oregon

  9. Sandi King says:

    A wonderful post Nicole. I was born in New York and I loved upstate NY and the beautiful woods and mountainous areas. Your post brought back memories of my time there. I know the last two years have been strange to say the least, and I hope everyone can get back to normalcy of some sort soon if not sooner or maybe many have already. We do the best we can and trust in God for answers. God bless you and your family. SO glad the hurricane didn’t reach you except for the rain; we had rain from it too and we had another system just before that one where I stayed on our porch and watched the rain and listened to the thunder all day. It was one of my favorite days – seeing God’s magnificent power working.

  10. Juie says:

    Loved your blog as always…
    Enjoy the heartwarming pictures…Thank you for your fried chicken recipe…I unbelievably
    HAVE all the ingredients here to make it..
    Tonight, Sounds SO good..
    Where’d the summer go? Thanks for your uplifting “banter” that helps those of us, who have felt especially “isolated ” feel Happier…
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and mini vacation ❤

  11. Linda Pavey says:

    Thank you for sharing your perspective and fun!

  12. Sandy says:

    Fun post, Nicole! The last few days here in Minnesota the high temps have been in the 70s after so much heat. So refreshing! Our garden has been producing so many tomatoes this year. We have donated about 100 pounds to food shelf so far! We are spending our last summer week at our lake place with our three grandsons, they are water skiing today despite the chilliness. We are in a super drought here, the lake is down at least a foot. Fall will come soon. Until next time…………..

  13. Marilyn says:

    Glad you had a good time with your friend. Thank You for sharing your reunion.
    Marilyn

  14. It sounds like your family has had a summer of memory-making…yay! That’s the best part of summer. Glad to hear the storm missed you…we know that frenzy of checking food storage, generators, water storage, etc. It’s very stressful. And Gidget, oh my! A narrow escape! I’m always worried about Maizy…to be honest, she spends most of her time on the farm as a little camp-out for my daughter and me, or sometimes, just me! Two little wheels and top-heavy, I’m always expecting her to topple over…I can’t imagine taking her on a freeway. So one vintage camper owner to another…a question I just can’t find the answer to. I keep Maizy covered with a tarp if there’s even the slightest chance of rain…why weren’t vintage campers designed with a better roof? Maybe there’s no answer…it just seems like the main problem so many of us have. Why couldn’t they have been designed like cars…no worries about my car roof leaking! Thanks for sharing your latest adventures…always fun to read.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary! Thank you. I understand what you mean about Maizy (did you name her after Maizy Mouse, by chance?)! We only have taken Gidget on the freeway a few times. I think once when we first brought her home, and maybe one other time. Otherwise, we stick to back roads. To be honest, I avoid the freeway as much as I can. It has gotten so much worse since the pandemic started. But I digress…as for the rooftop, when we first got Gidget, hubs “painted” the roof with a marine grade sealant, just in case. We have not had any leaks. We did cover her with an RV cover in the winter and have gone without. Honestly, for that, I do not know which was best. Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a Happy Fall! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • Hi Nicole, thanks for your reply…I know, crazy question! Designs change over time and get better.

        Oh, and Maizy was what my grandmother called me when I was little…just a nod to her memory. Hope you’re having a lovely fall…time for bonfires and s’mores! Mary

        • Nicole Christensen says:

          Hi Mary, actually, it was a very good question! Love the nickname! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Jackie Walker says:

    Hi Nicole.
    I really enjoy your posts. You find such fun things to do. I love that you fry things in coconut oil. We use it all the time! So healthy! I watched as that crazy storm came up your way. We are used to those storms coming in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, today, Hurricane Nicholas came on shore in Texas. It was headed right towards us in Spring, but veered away. We had such nice fall weather here today. Cool and breezy!!!
    Thanks again for sharing with all of us.

  16. Jackie Walker says:

    Hi Nicole.
    Always love your posts. You find so many fun things to do. Also, I love that you fry things in coconut oil. We use it all the time. So healthy.
    I watched as that crazy storm came your way. Living 75 miles from Galveston in Spring, Texas, we see a lot of those storms in the Gulf. In fact, today, Hurricane Nicholas came ashore a little further down the coast. It was headed right towards us, but changed directions a couple of times. We actually got to enjoy a fall-like day with cooler temps and lots of breezes. A taste of my favorite season! Thanks for you posts. I look so forward to them.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jackie, thank you! I am glad that you did not have Hurricane Nicholas hit head-on! I was so worried there at first, watching it head for Texas. Also, I have family in Spring, and downtown Spring was always a favorite destination of mine! I haven’t been in so long, sadly. This week, in late September, it has been weird – Houston, Texas was actually cooler and more fall-like than we were! It was hot and humid for a few days, but today, I pulled out a sweatshirt, so fall is in the air! Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Susan says:

    My sunmer wasnt all that bad, but mowing the grass took its toll on me. I also did more weeding than usual with all the rain we got here in Niagara Falls. If anyone knows how to get rid if wild onion, thistles, wild morning glories and ragweed please tell me. Its hard to stay ahead of
    it all. . As the vinegar and baking soda doesn’t seem to solve the problem. But i been busy despite not getting much tomatoes or zuchini squash this year. The rain killed the plants thats how much rain we got. Hopefully nexts years garden will be better.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susan, I hear ya! The weeds were especially hard this year, and I am still pulling, pulling, pulling. Let me research and I will see if I can get you an answer on your question on the specific weeds. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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