Parchment paper cooking: Eat a healthy fish dinner & spend more time with family

Life happens fast.  We all have too many things we need need to do: work, sports, school activities, help with homework, etc.  Our lives are also filled with a long list of the things we want to do: spend quality time with friends & family, read a book, take a bath, travel, spend time working on a hobby, etc.  For me, family time has become more  critical than ever as I realize my son is growing up way too fast.  How did he get to high school already?

We also want to eat healthy and save money.  All of these conflicting desires and demands can really stress out a parent.  Let’s figure out a way to slow down the clock, hear about our kid’s experiences, achievements, and challenges over a healthy, easy, budget-friendly meal.  Here is a quick and easy cooking technique for shrimp and fish that will allow you to spend more time with your family and friends.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I enrolled in a cooking class at a nearby farm.  We had a chance to try several different fish recipes and cooking techniques.  I immediately realized that ‘en papillote’ had the potential to change my life in the kitchen.  This fancy French term?  It describes an easy cooking method for healthy food with minimal clean-up!  Count me in!

I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen.  My kitchen experiments have not always turned out as planned and are never perfect, but  this is real life and I don’t recall a time when my family has ever turned down a meal.  The recipe outlined below works well with shrimp and any sturdy white fish such as orange roughy, tilapia, haddock, sole, or halibut. Buy whatever your budget allows.  I purchased a pack of individually wrapped tilapia filet (6) for about $10 at Target.

I really like the flexibility of this recipe.   It allows you to use what you have available for marinade or toppings.   It can be varied easily to make this part of a regular meal rotation without boring everyone’s taste buds.  If you keep a bag of fish filet in the freezer, you can make this last minute to avoid expensive food delivery or an unhealthy drive through visit.

What is en papillote?  It is a method of cooking where the food is put into a pouch or parcel and baked.  Parchment paper or aluminum foil may be used.  I prefer parchment paper.  The pouch is created by folding over the parchment paper or foil, sealing the edges by folding/twisting, and the contents are steamed.  In restaurants, en papillote is typically served in the pouch at the table so guests can open their own and enjoy the aroma.

The Basic Fish Recipe

  • Place the shrimp or fish on the parchment paper.
  • Top with julienne (thin) strips of red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, green onion, or lemon.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt and paper.  Add fresh or dry herbs.
  • Liquid can be added with a splash of olive oil, broth, or wine.  Fish can also be marinated for 30-minutes prior to baking to allow time for the fish to absorb the flavors.  See below for a suggestion.
  • Seal the edges of the parchment by folding to prevent the steam from escaping.
  • Place the pouches on a baking tray for support.  Bake in the oven at 400 F for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  This technique is very forgiving as long as you don’t leave the pouches in the oven too long, allowing all of the liquid to evaporate.
  • Does not get easier than this!

Simple Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch of dillweed, dash of hot sauce, and dash of soy sauce or sprinkle of salt

I grew up in a salad, meat, potato, and veggie every night for dinner family (love!).  If you add a vegetable and steam along with the fish inside the pouch, you can keep meal prep even simpler… need for an extra veggie side dish  or salad.  I had fresh tomatoes from the garden, so I tossed those with a little balsamic vinegar and blue cheese.

Tilapia filet on parchment paper with julienne strips of red pepper.

Prep time for fish and potatoes after boiling was about 10-minutes (cleaning and slicing).  Threw it in the oven and 20-30 minutes later a delicious, healthy, and cost-friendly meal was on the table.

Tilapia filet on parchment with red pepper, a splash of olive oil, dash of salt and pepper, a sprinkle of dried thyme and a sprig of fresh thyme from the garden.

To keep things simple, I boiled a few red potatoes while I prepared the peppers, smashed them on the tray with the fish pouches, sprinkled with bacon crumbles,  cheddar cheese, and green onion.  Because the potatoes were precooked, everything was in the oven and on the table in under 30-minutes.

The tilapia filet and peppers were sealed in the parchment paper by folding over the edges. Bake at 400 F for 20-30 minutes and dinner is served!


For serving, the en papillote (fish pouch) can be served directly on a plate and opened just before eating to keep the fish warm and moist or it can be removed.

I hope this recipe helps you get dinner on the table quickly and easily so you can enjoy a nice conversation with family and friends.



Plan an Oktoberfest celebration for family and friends

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Planning guide for Oktoberfest

OKTOBERFEST!  The best fall party of them all!  This is a perfect time of year to enjoy beautiful fall weather with family and friends.  Attending Oktoberfest in Munich Germany is on many people’s Bucket List (mine too).  For good reason, the party (originating from a wedding celebration) has been a tradition since 1810.  The official event in Munich typically takes place between mid-September and early October (Official 2017 dates: September 16th-October 3rd).  It’s time to start planning your Oktoberfest event.

Event Budget

This party can be as simple/complicated and budget-friendly/expensive as your heart and bank account can manage.  Smaller is simpler, but Oktoberfest provides a great excuse to mingle family, friends, and co-workers.  Just be sure to ask for help.

As the size of the party increases, consider asking guests to bring appetizers, entree, desserts, or beverages to share.  Many guests love the challenge of preparing a special, party-appropriate dish.


Evite is a great way to send out a party invitation.  It’s easy to set-up and allows you to review guest RSVP’s quickly and easily.  You can even ask guests to sign up for food or beverage contributions.  This feature makes it easy to ensure your guests will have adequate food and beverage and prevents having too much of any one item.

If Evite doesn’t work for you e-mail is an easy option.  Hard copy invitations dropped in mailboxes or formal written invites sent by mail also work, but they do require a bit more planning.

Venue or Location

You driveway, patio, or yard provide a perfect venue for Oktoberfest.  If it’s cool build a bonfire or have baskets filled with blankets and extra sweaters to keep guests comfortable.  Tents are part of traditional Oktoberfest celebrations.  Don’t have a tent?  Consider borrowing a tent from a neighbor.  Tents and tables can be rented, but this will add significant cost to your party budget.  Another option is to decorate your garage or open your home to guests.  You might also consider renting a picnic facility in a nearby park.


Oktoberfest food and drink

In my opinion, the guest list is the top priority.  Next in importance?  Food and beverages.  To keep the party simple, enlist the help of your crock pot, family, and friends.

Beverages are fairly easy.  Non-alcoholic beverages for guests of all ages can include sparkling water with fruit syrups, sparkling cider, and soda.  Recommended grown-up beverages include a selection of Oktoberfest Bier that is easy to find in the fall at grocery and liquor stores.  I recommend Spaten and Hacker Pschorr for an authentic experience.  Riesling and other wines can also be served.  Here’s a great recipe for Apfelwein.  It’s simple to prepare.  I use light brown sugar in place of the corn sugar.  If you purchase cider in a glass bottle, you can even ferment right in the bottle.   Supplies are readily available on-line.   I typically make a 5-gallon batch and serve in interesting bottles that I collect throughout the year.

After dinner drinks (apertifs/digestifs) are highly recommended.  Apertifs to consider include my favorite: Barenjager honey liquor.  Tastes great and I have wonderful memories sipping this liquor with a sweet Aunt at the end of a visit in Germany.  Other great options include schnapps, Jagermeister and Goldschlager.  If you are feeling especially creative, you can create an entire cocktail menu for these apertifs on their own.


German Sausage

Depending on the food you serve, you will likely need warming and/or cooling trays.  Consider hiring local teens to help replenish food and drinks.  This will help you enjoy the party and time with your guests.

Free Menu Printable

Please subscribe to Provenance Preservation newsletter and I will send you a free menu template.  Customize with your menu selection, name, address, and party date.  I place these on all of the tables for guests to view.

I have provided a collection of recipes.  Your party can be simple with a nice selection of grilled sausage or you can compliment the sausage with one or several of the dishes below.

Würstl (sausages)
Würstl refers to a variety of classic Bavarian sausages.  Buy a selection of sausage, grill, and serve with a selection of mustard.  My favorites include traditional bratwurst, thuringer, knackwurst, and bockwurst.  We call the butcher in advance so our order is waiting.  An easy way to save time.

Schweinebraten (roast pork)
Schweinebraten is a classic Bavarian dish that is very easy to prepare, especially for a crowd.  Pork loin can be used in place of traditional pork shoulder.  If you are feeling ‘uber German’ you can replace the vegetable broth with dark beer.  Yum!

Schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock)
A beer hall favorite!  Roasted pork shank (pig knuckles) are crispy on the outside with juicy, delicious meat.  These are also easy to make, but I highly recommend you contact a local butcher to order the pork shank in advance.

Brezen (pretzels)
You can’t have Oktoberfest without pretzels.  Soft and chewy, they taste great with mustard, sausage, and beer.  Here’s a pretzel recipe.  Try making your own, it’s so much fun.  I use 1/2-cup water for the yeast and replace the other cup with beer (seems to be a common theme in my cooking).  I use baking soda in place of lye as recommended.  Prepare the dough the night before the party and bake the pretzels just before guests arrive.  What a great aroma!

Kaese Spaetzle

Kaese Spaetzle can be considered a German version of mac-n-cheese prepared with homemade noodles or mini dumplings.   Easy to make ahead.  Mix spaetzle, cheese, and cooked onion in a casserole dish and heat in the oven just before serving.

Other great side dishes include fennel salad, potato salad, sauerkraut and red cabbage.


Apfelstrudel is a classic German dessert.  Delicious with a scoop of ice cream and a cup of hot coffee.

Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Torte)

Preparing Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte is quite involved, but it is quite delicious.

Oktoberfest Music

Oktoberfest BandNo Oktoberfest is complete without some ‘oom pah pah’ music.  If you really want to splurge, you can hire a band.  You can also recruit family members or friends to entertain your guests with live music.  I wish I planned my first Oktoberfest years ago when my aunt was still playing her accordion.  You can also ask a guest to serve as the party DJ with old records.  Pandora or Spotify also offer Oktoberfest selections to get the dancing and singing going.  Eins, zwei, g’suffa!

Tableware, Decorations, Fashion, and Fun

Decorate tables with festive tablecloths.  You can also decorate tables with pictures,  fruit, flowers, or other items that represent the fall harvest (e.g. bundles of wheat, squash, gourds, pumpkins, and grapes).  Consider hanging flags or banners.  You can even order Oktoberfest plates, napkins and utensils.  If you have a really big budget, you should really purchase custom steins, lederhosen and a dirndl dress.

Besides food, drink, and music, there are lots of ways to have fun at your Oktoberfest.  Have guests bring photos of their German travel adventures for a picture ‘wall’.  You can also buy or build a prop for photos.  Share some of the photo highlights as part of thank you note to guests.  Consider offering prizes for best dress, best Tyrolean hat, best stein (don’t be surprised if lots of people bring their own!), best waltz, even best chicken dance, etc.  The point is to get a little crazy and have fun!

The History of Oktoberfest

On October 12th of 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event.  Horse races attended by the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for all of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

In the early decades of Oktoberfest, visitors quenched their thirst at small beer stands. In 1896, the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries.

Today, the Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world.  Each year, approximately 6 million visitors from around the world converge on the Oktoberfest on the Theresienwiese.

If a trip to Bavaria for Oktoberfest isn’t in your plans, create your own festival.  Prost!

When life gives you lemons? Make dinner, dessert and cocktails!

I adore lemons.  I love the yellow color; they always make me feel happy and bring a smile to my face.  I also love the smell of the blossoms and fruit and cannot get enough of the flavor.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay (Hjalmar18).

When we lived in our little Spanish Bungalow in Long Beach, CA we had a lemon tree in our front yard.  I loved walking past it numerous times each day enjoying the smell and activity of the bees buzzing busily around it.  When we moved back to the Midwest, one of the things I missed most (besides milder winter weather, of course) was my little lemon tree.

Several years ago, my son gifted me with a lemon tree for Mother’s Day.  I loved this little tree, but it did not like indoor life in my home.  After about 1-year nearly all of the leaves had fallen off and it certainly wasn’t flowering or bearing fruit.  I almost threw my little lemon tree away, but decided it couldn’t hurt to place it outside on our porch for the summer.  The sunshine and fresh air breathed new life into my resilient little tree.  A couple of years later, summers outdoors and winters indoors, it is healthy and now it has two lemons ripening.

There are approximately 50 varieties of lemons.  They range in flavor from sweet to sour and in acidity.  They are grown all around the world and are thought to have originated in northeastern India.
The ancient Egyptians are credited with ‘inventing’ lemonade around 500 AD.  However, only the Pharaoh and royal family were allowed to enjoy the beverage.  In 1630, a lemonade soda (lemon juice, honey, and sparkling water) was first sold in Paris.  Through the 1840’s demand for lemons grew as a cure for scurvy.  This debilitating disease was caused by a lack of Vitamin C and significantly impacted sailors and miners during the California Gold Rush in the mid 1800’s.  This demand for lemons resulted in the many California lemon groves, some of which still exist today.  Even in current times, many websites suggest that increasing consumption of fruits like lemons decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and lower weight.

And now that you have learned a little bit about lemons, let get to the recipes!


Lemon Chicken is a quick and easy meal for a weeknight.  Add a salad and rice or pasta and you have a perfect meal. Continue reading

A Beginner’s Guide to Canning: Preserve Your Food in Jars

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Canning is a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables for later use.  When I was growing up my mom made delicious plum jam, but she did not can or pickle any vegetables.  No canning mentor for me.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Several years back, my husband and I decided to rent a community garden space to grow vegetables (check out one of my early posts on our farm plot).  We paid ‘rent’ for a 30’X30′ plot and got to work.  We started planting in late April-early May and by the time late July rolled around we had a bumper crop of vegetables and the bounty continued through early October.  We shared much of the harvest with friends and family, but we still had tons of veggies left-over.

In an effort to save our harvest for later use (think dark, cold winter days; I knew we would want to mentally escape), I scoured the internet and book stores for good canning references, magazines, and guidelines.  I had heard about the dangers of canning (exploding jars and food poisoning) and was honestly quite intimidated.  After reading the basics, it seemed manageable and I decided to give it a try.  I loved the process and the reward.  I hope you will follow the steps I have outlined below to get started on your own canning journey.

Step 1:  Collect recipes and tips

I recommend purchasing a good canning/preserving reference book.  Food safety is extremely important when canning and good quality resources outline critical procedures for produce preparation, processing, and storage.  Books, magazines, and Pinterest are great places for inspiration.  If you are interested in a particular fuit/vegetable, search the internet for recipes.  I highly recommend that you read the reviews.  Many recipes do not follow proper, safe canning procedures (for example, my beloved Blue Ribbon Pickle recipe) and usually this comes up in the comment thread.  If you are not sure, follow recipes in a canning reference book.  The book I got started with is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  I do not recommend modifying or tweaking recipes.  They are designed to ensure appropriate conditions for canning and the quality and safety of your final product.

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Planning a Furniture Flip – Dresser to Bar Cabinet

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I recently ‘inherited’ a dresser from a friend.  When I opened the front doors on the cabinet, I knew it would make a perfect bar.  A wonderful storage spot for bottles of liquor, drawers for all the bar gadgets and linens, and a perfect spot towards the bottom for hanging wine glass storage.  Can you picture it?

I have been scouring Pinterest for ideas.  Here are a few examples I am using for inspiration.

Links to sources of inspriation: top lefttop right; bottom left; bottom right.

I’m going for a more elegant feel that I think black paint will provide.  To take it up another notch, I will paint the interior gold or I will try to find really unique wall paper with a gold tint and unexpected pattern.  I’m hoping the drawer hardware will work, but I will have to replace the cabinet lock.  I’ll just have to see how all the hardware matches up.  I have used chalk paint for other projects, but I am planning to use latex paint for this project.  I am going for elegant on this project vs. shabby chic.  A coat of polyurethane will also be essential to ensure the bar can stand up to endless parties and cocktails.

I’ll toast with a classic for my first round….The Manhattan

2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 dashes bitters (so many to choose from; a fun opportunity to experiment and develop your own signature Manhattan cocktail)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and stir in whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.  Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

The examples definitely look more fun with accessories, so I plan to stock up on bar essentials before I share the after pictures.   I have other projects scheduled for July, so stay tuned for an update in August. ‘The devil is in the details ‘ and ‘A project without planning is just a wish’.  I look forward to your feedback.


Dreaming of Italy – preparations for a cultural immersion vacation

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I am very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to travel to Europe for business and pleasure.  The countries and cultures within Europe are so diverse.  The history of each village or city is interesting and the architecture varies greatly.  I also enjoy the mix of old and modern styles.  Even when traveling for business with a hectic travel and work schedule, I feel more relaxed in Europe.  I’m not certain if it’s the focus on simple food and good conversation, the scenery, the friendly and helpful people, or the excitement of visiting new places and meeting new people.  Regardless, I love the European lifestyle!

I have visited Italy twice and vacationed on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.  I am infatuated with southern Europe.  I have certainly watched ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ too many times in my husband’s opinion, but it satisfies my desire to experience Italy and my interest in architectural renovation.  Who doesn’t want to buy a villa in Italy?!?!

I finally convinced my  little family to indulge me…..we will take a family vacation to Italy in June 2018.

Lemons are extremely popular in Italy. They can be found everywhere from orchards and gardens to food, beverages, and painted on pottery.

Italian Food

I LOVE Italian food.  If I were sent to a deserted island and I could only bring one food item, I think it would be risotto.  What a great base for any spice, herb, vegetable, or protein.  Most of our vacation will be on the coast, so I am looking forward to fantastic, fresh seafood.  We plan to skip hotels in favor of renting  apartments or homes with kitchens, so we can purchase local foods and prepare some of our own meals.  Shopping at local markets is always a great adventure and perfect way to experience a new or different culture.  Not a bad place for souvenirs either!  I can’t lie….I also LOVE wine!  I will most certainly sample plenty of wine and will book a lunch stop at a winery on our way from Rome to Positano.  I’m sure this will provide an excellent opportunity to stock up for our stay.  However, I do want to make sure I have the opportunity to sample different wines from different vineyards.  Spread the love! Continue reading

A simple recipe for a quick and healthy Alfredo sauce – 3 variations to add variety to your menu

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Why healthy Alfredo sauce?

I love to cook and I love the idea of preparing healthy meals.  I have been following the 21-Day Fix eating plan on and off for just over 1-year.  It helps me balance portion sizes and  the right mix of food groups.   I feel great when I stick to the plan, especially with some exercise.

I try to eat healthy, but comfort food tastes great and sometimes it’s just good for the soul after a stressful day.  Fettuccine Alfredo is one of my all-time favorite comfort meals.  The traditional recipe uses butter and heavy cream and this is served over pasta.  Unfortunately, the comfort feeling doesn’t last long and tends to turn into a bloated feeling and state of guilt for me.  Fear not, comfort food can be adapted into a healthier, feel better version.  I have tried several ‘healthy’ Alfredo sauce recipes and have found the recipe provided in the link below to be a great base.  Think of the recipe as a really nice blank canvas.  You are the artist who gets throw on the color and design the finished product exactly to your taste.

Don’t get me wrong,  I love carbs too and can’t give them up.  However, I do try to manage my carb intake (that little yellow box is way too tiny fellow 21-Day Fixers!).  I recently purchased a spiralizer and really enjoy using it to prepare ‘zoodles’ (zucchini) or even better yet, daikon radish noodles.  Seems strange (pungent smell), but perfect base for a creamy sauce.  Even better than pasta with a creamy, heavier sauce.  Try it!

How do you prepare a satisfying meal with a healthy Alfredo sauce?

A great 21-Day Fix version of Alfredo sauce.  Check out this great link.

Ingredients for a basic  Alfredo sauce:

  • 1-1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons low fat milk or almond milk
  • spices (garlic powder, salt, pepper) can be added if you don’t follow the variations outlined below; go light with the salt as the base flavor can be salty from the Parmesan

Instructions for Alfredo sauce preparation:

  • Mix  cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese in a saucepan or dutch oven (I LOVE my Dansk Kobenstyle cookware)
  • Heat on medium-low, mixing just until the Parmesan cheese melts.  Temperature is key.  Be patient (I know this is hard after a long day of work).  Be warned, if you overheat everything separates.  Please be patient, it really only takes a few minutes.
  • Allow to cool slightly and carefully transfer the sauce  to a blender.  Ensure bottom is attached tightly to prevent leaking.  I’m thinking about trying an immersion blender the next time I prepare this recipe, which is probably next week!
  • Puree the Alfredo sauce in the blender, adding the milk to get the desired consistency.  Don’t make it too watery, you have another opportunity to add more milk when you reheat the sauce.
  • Transfer the sauce back to saucepan or dutch oven, add any protein or vegetables that you may have prepared (see quick meal tips and recipe variations below).
  • Serve over pasta, zoodles , or Daikon radish noodles.

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Restoration of a northwoods boathouse – when not to DIY

Renovation of a northwoods boathouse located in Oneida County, WI

When we purchased our vacation home we knew the first project we had to tackle was stabilizing the boathouse.   The cabin was build in the mid-1950’s and the boathouse was constructed not long after that.  The boathouse was definitely a major bonus on our list of desired cabin features and certainly something we weren’t expecting.  The state of Wisconsin no longer allows the construction of over-the-water boathouses.  Even renovation of the existing structure was tricky.  Super clubs and boat houses….you know you are in Wisconsin.

Sometimes you can DIY, but sometimes professional help and skill is required.  Our boathouse renovation definitely required expert help to manage the permitting with the city, county, and Department of Natural Resources.  It is nearly impossible to tackle or coordinate these efforts when you work full-time and live in a different state.  Money well spent, as our contractor did a fantastic job negotiating to get the permits required for the project to commence.  We had no idea of how to tackle this structural project and clearly special skills and tools were going to be required to prevent this delicate structure from ending up at the bottom of the lake.

Freeze-thaw cycles had really done a number on the poor old boathouse.  It was so off-level and looked so unstable, we were afraid to let anyone walk on the roof deck.  The contractor had to basically detach the back wall, which was anchored on-shore while everything else was in the lake bed.  Once this was completed, the sand around the pilings was jetted to sink the boathouse until everything was level.  During the process, the boathouse was tied off to trees for support.  After leveling, braces were installed to minimize movement and shifting of the structure.

The scary before. This was a great time to be in another state. I would have held my breath for hours on end.


Strengthened back wall and braces and side wall.,

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3 critical points to consider when purchasing a second home

Shortly after Pat and I married, we purchased our first home.  Once we settled in, we began to travel and developed our dream of owning a vacation home.  We knew we wanted a waterfront home and since we live nowhere close to an ocean, we focused our search on lakefront property and implemented a serious savings plan .  In the process, we enjoyed many mini-vacations and viewed countless cabins in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  With each viewing we learned more about what we liked and wanted.  We made several offers.  Some were not accepted based on price;  one could not be formalized due to zoning restrictions that prevented the lot from being subdivided; and another we had to walk away from due to severe mold issues uncovered during the inspection and sellers who were not willing to negotiate.

In the process of our search, we developed a very specific wishlist.  The overall goal was a cabin that we could enjoy now, when we started a family, and in the future when we retired.  Our desire was a lakefront cabin with a price tag that would not require us to rent it out to help cover expenses.   Another requirement was a home located on a lake large enough for a boat to enjoy cocktail cruises and tubing or water-skiing.  A home that required serious elbow grease, renovation, and imagination was no problem.  The cabin had to be large enough to enjoy time with family and friends, but small enough to minimize cleaning time.  It is vacation after all!

When we moved to Southern California, we had to take a break from our vacation home dreams.  However, we couldn’t escape our longing for open space, forest, and a lakefront paradise.  When the opportunity to move back to the mid-west arose, we jumped on it and rekindled our search effort to finally make our cabin dream a reality. Because of our efforts in identifying the type of vacation home situation that would work for us, we have had absolutely no regrets and love every minute we spend in our peaceful oasis.  If  you are considering the purchase of a second home, here are some critical points you must consider before taking the plunge .  We have watched others rush at the opportunity to purchase vacation homes, only to create unnecessary stress and financial uncertainty into their lives.  I hope this information helps you fulfill your vacation dreams.  Owning a second home is not for everyone.  It can limit the opportunity to visit new destinations.

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4 great recipe ideas for leftover ham

Links to recipes are provided below. Enjoy!


Over the weekend, we enjoyed another fantastic barbecue.  We had family over, so we grilled lots of food including a double-smoked ham with apricot glaze from Ray ‘Dr. BBQ’ Lampe’s Slow Fire Barbecue guide.  That is not a mirror image below; we threw two hams on the smoker.  A couple hours into the low and slow smoke, we covered the hams with a simple glaze prepared by blending apricots in syrup, ketchup, soy sauce and molasses.  What great flavor.  We also grilled salmon and asparagus.




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