Mary Beth Writes

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of little things like bugs and crumbs, dollars and daily choices.

Several years ago our son and his wife decided that they were going to set a goal to visit every state park in Wisconsin. There are 50 state parks and they only have a few more to go; what a cool way to claim where one lives.

One of the parks they hadn’t visited yet was Governor Thompson State Park. It’s about a 20 minutes west of Crivitz, which is an hour north of Green Bay. So like, yeah, Up There.

They asked if we would like to camp there with them some weekend. Len immediately said yes.  I am not an awesome camper but I really, really like my kids. Plus I love the outdoors and hiking and eating tasty food flavored with fresh air -- so I said yes, too. 

It was a Great Weekend … although there were Challenges.

Such as, after this long, hot, muggy, endless summer – Friday night turned Cold. Seriously. It was a comfy warm day and then the sun went down and now it is Fall.  Friday night the temperature slid to 35 degrees, which is WAY too cold for humans who didn’t bring winter-camping gear. None of us slept well. Our kids brought their two dogs and they said over in their tent the dogs were shivering. That cold.

So FYI our weekend ended late Saturday afternoon when we all headed back to our warm houses in our respective towns.

Here are some of the Mindful Chickens who camped with us.

1. We appreciate our hybrid car. The trip (including local driving in that area) was 500 miles. We did that on one tank / 13.5 gallons = 37 MPG. I also bought the gas with a discount from my grocery store card, which saved $.40/gallon.  It’s like the world is paying us to go away….

2. Jennifer and sometimes Mary feed our shy Lulu cat while we are gone. They are friends and they won’t take money from me, so I make donations to the education fund of MayaWorks.org. They are the kind of grownups who like that their cat minding kindness turns into tutoring for the children of artisan-weavers in the highlands of Guatemala.  http://www.mayaworks.org/our-programs#education  Also, Lulu is an anxious cat – but she likes these two women and from what I hear she pretty much sits on their laps and meows conversationally when they come over to give her food.

3. The kids camp a lot and have a good repertoire of camping-friendly foods to make. They have long handled clamshell campfire sandwich makers.  (They got some cool camping stuff as wedding presents.) So we had “pudgy pies” which are two pieces of bread filled with our son’s homemade spaghetti sauce plus shredded mozzarella cheese. Then one shuts the sandwich clamshell, sticks this in the fire and a few minutes later – Voila! – hot and tasty pizza sandwiches!

Friday night Len and I made fry-bread with black beans and chopped veggies.  Saturday morning we used the grease again to make from-scratch donuts. I’d made and brought with chocolate frosting for the donuts.

The icing was such a winner that I am going to tell you the difficult recipe I used.  ½ of a boxed cream cheese. About ½ bag of powdered sugar.  Put those in a mixer and beat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add a teaspoon of vanilla. Beat it some more. Add about a quarter cup of cocoa and beat some more.  If it isn’t chocolatey enough, add more cocoa. Then add 1-2 teaspoons of milk.  Put this is a container so that you can transport it easily. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated overnight (though if I was going to keep it indefinitely, I’d put it in the fridge.) 

Watch while Leonard discovers that he can, one by one, frost strawberries with chocolate icing.

BTW, making fry-bread, donuts, and beignets from scratch is not hard. You need to 1.) Read some recipes to get a sense of what you are doing 2.) Buy Crisco or house brand Crisco. I have never used lard or liquid vegetable oil and 3.) Most important - buy a candy/deep fry thermometer. You want the oil to be around 375 degrees which it is too hard for novices (like me) to estimate. Thermometers cost less than $10. Mine is glass so I store it wrapped in a washcloth and slipped inside a paper towel holder.   I have owned it since I was Junior Girl Scout co-leader and we made donuts with our troop. Um, 23 years ago?

4. Len and our son went fishing at dawn. They caught no fish. Len took a lot of photos that are amazing.

While they were gone my daughter-in-law and I and Bean and Berry (the pups) sat inside my car with the heater on for an hour just to warm up from the long and terrifically-freezing night. When the sun finally broke over the tree line, we moved outside to the sunshine. Bean has a fragile leg from breaking it last year and he was limping Saturday morning so we didn’t want to take him on a walk. We hung around the campsite playing with the dogs while enjoying a spectacular Up North Big Woods blue sky morning.

5. There are bears in those woods but we didn’t see them and I am glad. It is not frugal to get bit by a bear.

I took some photos, too.

 

Comments

I'm glad you had a nice time( Although chilly ) My thoughts were with you as Ms. Maya and I lay together on the couch under a blanket watching PBS. Neither one of us are campers and sleeping with the window open was about as far as either one of us planned to go. Glad you two are back.

How fun although, I can only imagine how cold you were. I love the last picture of the lake with the sky and the trees. Gorgeous. Memories.

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Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

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