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.
That evening, we watched a movie outdoors on the deck. Andrea found the foldable, anti-crease fabric screen on Amazon.
Her husband, Peter, built an outdoor movie frame using PVC pipe, at a mere fraction of the cost of buying one ready-made.
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!
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).
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!
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!
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.
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.
Using vintage items like coolers and trunks is a great way to make use of decor and “hide” items that are infrequently used.
The last day of our stay was picture-perfect, with sun. We spent it relaxing on the beach.
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!
The tree landed in a way that it narrowly missed our picnic table, too! Counting our blessings!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
We loved seeing all the animals, but the babies really made us smile!
We enjoyed the day, and stopped at a local farmer’s stand for fresh peaches and fresh corn – another of summer’s best gifts.
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!
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).
In a plastic bag, add one cup of corn flakes. Using a rolling pin, coarsely crush the flakes.
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!
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!
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