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Cabin Crush Rehab Updates: The Finnish Carpenter Flees the Interview and Kristin Conquers Nature

Cabin season #3 is well under way and we are still wallowing in the dregs of the Finnish Carpenter’s good intentions. To this day, two years after our cabin rehab project began, I still can’t shower at my cabin. Consider the kinds of activities that take place at a cabin, outside, in the heat, with fish. Add in one teenage boy and there just aren’t enough baby wipes in the world to take care of that kind of stink.

I have a shower – a beautiful one, tiled in river rock – but, unlike useful showers, my shower spits out a trickle of scalding hot water from the spout. It would take me two weeks  just to get my hair wet in there. And adjusting the scalding temp isn’t possible because we’re missing a vital organ in the body of plumbing called a “mixer.”

The funny thing is, there’s a “mixer” at the Finnish Carpenter’s house that I ordered from HoDe for him to install. But, just like that Cure tape you left at your old boyfriend’s house, you’re just going to have to forget about it.

Because the Finnish Carpenter’s isn’t coming back. He says he is but he’s not. I now know that when he says he’s “gonna try and make it over there” he really means “see ya later fuckers.”

I’ve learned a lot from the Finnish Carpenter, a man who promised so many things and then just stopped showing up, leaving us to stink up our new cabin when things got complicated. Or boring. Whenever we discussed needs or wants for our cabin reno, the Finnish Carpenter would nod and go “Oh sher.” He said oh sher to everything, long strings of requests and questions, nodding his head the whole time. And I would always be like “Don’t you want to write any of this down?”

Oh Kristin, that’s just your obsessive need to control everything, I’d tell myself. I tried to let go and trust his ability to maintain lists in his head; my way isn’t always the right way, amiright?

Well, that was foolish. Just like the kid who gets bored with math because he can’t find his planner, the Finnish Carpenter doesn’t have my cabin in his head anymore  – so it turns out that my way IS the right way! You DO need to write that stuff down or you might forget that you have people right across the lake from you who can’t take a shower. Can’t you smell that?

The next character to enter our cabin drama puts a salve on this wound. He is the antidote to the Finnish Carpenter. He shows me that I am right about just about everything and that my way is always the right way.

He is Frank Ford the Northwoods Plant Man, called in to tame my wild, rocky, weed-infested frontier. Don’t forget about my relationship with weeding; yes, this is supposed to be a wild place but it’s MY wild place and I will determine how wild is too wild.

And THIS wall of weeds is blocking my paradise. Frank Ford is going to help me.

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The first thing I notice about Frank Ford the Northw00ds Plant Man, besides the sweatpants hiked up around his middle, is that he writes stuff down. Even interrupting me to do so, saying to himself “Just a minute now, Frank,” holding his forefinger to the sky, trying to remember what he was going to write down.

He takes copious notes and makes meticulous plans – ON PAPER! And he shares these plans either in person or . . . via the US Mail.

Because Frank Ford the Northwoods Plant Man doesn’t have an email account. He doesn’t have an email account because he doesn’t have a computer.

At first, I am horrified. And then, I am jealous.

The look on his face is always happy. He is never in a hurry. Everything he needs is on his clipboard. And his work is always impeccably done. DONE being the operative word. It is DONE in accordance with his meticulous notes, in an extremely timely manner. He finishes what he starts because he writes it down on paper with a pen. Maybe a pencil. End of story.

And I think he’s the happiest man alive.

“I gave my assistant $5000 to go to the cities, to that Apple store, and buy me all the doo dads and the goo gaws I would need, ” he tells me. “She said she’d set it up for me. But it’s still sitting there. In the boxes. I just don’t want it.” He waves his hand dismissively.

I warn him that equipment becomes obsolete quickly.

“It’s been sitting there for three years,” he says. “Is that too long?”

“It’s been sitting in the boxes, unopened, for three years?!”

“Yep,” he says. “She’s a little miffed with me.”

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’ll just email it to you. . . ”

Or  “I saw it on Pinterest . . .”

Or  “Can you send me some photos?”

He can’t do any of those things. But he can and does call me. We have lovely but brief conversations where we exchange pleasantries and pertinent information, just like in the olden days. Maybe he tells me how he once drove his car in reverse for 7 miles back in ’76 or ’77. Or maybe he tells me about his trip to London to see how they celebrate the Fourth of July. And then he reads from the notes he’s carefully written down so as not to forget anything.

And, if he has the time, he will definitely send me some photos of his progress. First he drives to my cabin with his Canon Sure Shot and he takes photos and then he drives an hour to the nearest Target to have them developed and then he puts the photos in an envelope with my name and my home address and a good old fashioned STAMP . . . and he will send me some photos.

And he is the happiest man alive.

 

As Frank’s work comes to a close, I will post before and after pix. I might post them right from my phone. Or I might draw them. We’ll see which way makes me happiest.

 

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Yes, You Definitely Need a Gnome For Your Cabin. Here’s Why:

Whenever I arrive at the cabin, before unloading our duffel bags and the cold-chest out of the back of the Jeep, I walk the barely-there path to the screen door and simultaneously reach for its handle and bend down to pat Woody on his little pointy head. Woody sits outside the porch, just to the right of the screen door, and his head is smooth and welcoming like he has happily weathered storms while keeping watch over our happy place.

Mike will tell you that gnomes are a decorative accessory and I should stop buying them. But every time I pat that pointy head, I feel safe and happy and very, very welcomed. And history tells me I’m right.

I recently bought this little guy:

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. . . and he’s been waiting for cabin season, perched on top of book mountain. When he goes to the cabin, he will be welcomed by Woody, Yellow Gnome, Gus and Bjorn —

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— a little family of watchers.

 

When we were little cabin dreamers, we called a gnome a Tomten because of this book.

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The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren came out at Christmas time and it scared me because it was dark and ghostly and the Tomten secretly visited sleeping farm animals in the middle of the night. He was a little grumpy and disheveled but he took good care of the cows and the farm cats and even the children so, even though he scared me, I liked him.

According to tradition, the tomten lives in the houses and barns of the farmstead, and secretly acts as a guardian. If treated well, he will protect the family and the animals from evil and misfortune. He might even help out with some chores (dear gnome, clean mouse traps, please). However, they are also known to be short tempered, especially when offended.They are easily put off by lazy farmers and a careless lack of proper respect  — much like the native Minnesotans, don’t ya know. They will not under any circumstances tolerate rudeness, like swearing or urinating in the barn or mistreating your animals; this could result in a hard strike to the ear.

So, seriously, don’t mess with your gnome. And if you spill something on the floor, it is considered good manners to shout a warning to the gnome below. As in, “watch out, Woody!” If you don’t, you might spend half the day looking for your glasses when you just saw them RIGHT THERE! That, friends, is your gnome talking. Just be a good person, and your gnome will take care of you. I promise.


 

Some gnome words for your enjoyment:

 

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In Swedish, gårdbo, or “farmyard dweller.”

 

 

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In Norwegian, gardvord, meaning “yard warden.”

 

 

 

 

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In Finland, he is mostly known as joulupukki, or “Yule Goat.”

 

Don’t you think you need a Yule Goat this Christmas? Giving you the finger? I know I do.

 

My shiny gold yule goat, sitting atop book mountain, has not yet been named. If you have any suggestions for this newest member of our cabin-watching team, give me a holler, y’all.

 

 

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“Troll Wondering How Old He Is” by Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen

 

 

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Things I Bought For My Cabin Because I Miss It: 2016 Edition

January is over and that’s a good thing. I had a little meltdown recently because my post-holiday slump was dragging me down the rabbit hole and it lasted a whole freakin’ month. My urge to leave and go somewhere, anywhere, was so strong but I was held hostage by my nemesis — the calendar (shakes fist in air). My life is not so complicated but when I added the plans and activities of two other people, there just wasn’t a single opening that was big enough to allow for a relaxing getaway; if you have to smash it in, it just feels like another obligation on the calendar. Gah!

I settled for an overnight at a hotel three miles from my house on what was to be the coldest cold snap of the year — the kind that makes your forehead sting. The kind that makes young women in tiny dresses and open toed shoes feel actual pain, especially when I walk by in my Sorel boots and dog-walking coat (she says from experience). And on this coldest of cold nights, we had tickets to (dot dot dot) a hockey game. And after the hockey game, we came back to find that the heat in our very nice, upscale hotel room couldn’t keep up, so we slept under layers of bathroom towels strategically placed over the standard, and normally adequate, bedding. There was a lot of survival cuddling that night but not even a skilled archeologist could have excavated my actual body from the many layers of clothing I wore that night.

It was a getaway . . . but not quite far enough away.

This is when I start missing the cabin. It’s a guaranteed change of scenery that never ever asks anything of me except to enjoy my surroundings. Even a cold cabin can be a respite — cold can be beautiful — it’s the GET part and the AWAY part that are important.

But my cabin is seasonal. There is no heat source. And it’s location up the long-ass driveway would mean I’d have to call the National Guard for a ride to my door. It’s a completely uninhabited locale; what few neighbors there are abandon that stretch of road long before the snow flies, leaving our cabin to weather the winter alone, with only the trees and the foxes for companionship. I don’t even know what it looks like right now; how deep is the snow? Up to her windows? Higher? Is there anyone living under her eaves? Have there been any visitors, wild or otherwise? There’s no way for us to know. Mike is probably experiencing small bouts of angina as he reads this, an unmonitored cabin being one of his greatest anxieties. So many things to go wrong without his supervision. Maybe a collapsed roof or a frozen pipe. Or a destructive band of hibernating bears denning in our kitchen cabinets (sorry, Mike. Those things AREN’T happening. I PROMISE!).

It’s a good thing that I miss my cabin. This forced separation keeps the romance alive. And I keep her in my heart by buying her gifts. Not as many as last year, our first year apart, but just a few baubles to show how much I care.

 

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Vintage Orange Carafe: When you put a pitcher of water on the table, everyone drinks more water. And if that means that I can have this vintage orange carafe, then I will drink lots and lots of water. Lots.

 

 

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Paint by Numbers Tray: At the cabin, you often find yourself bringing food outside. But when you have your drink in one hand and your snack in the other, how do you carry your  People magazine? That’s why this small Paint by Numbers Tray is a necessity (yes, Mike, I said necessity), just big enough for a tall glass of Mr. Pibb and a small bowl of Cheetos. Because you can have junk food at the cabin. The close-up on the right shows that this paint-by-number is left strategically undone for your enjoyment. If you’d like one of your own, you can find it online or in-store at Fishs Eddy.

 

 

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Linen Alphabet Wall Hanging: Most vintage-esque cabin finds are clutter-y and rough around the edges. If you have too many of them, your eye gets overstimulated and your mind manufactures a smell like wet basement. This linen alphabet is spare and minimalist but still has a whiff of happy days gone by. And textiles are perfect for the bathroom; it’s basically like hanging a towel on the wall.

 

So the missing has begun. And so has the dreaming and the planning and the continual nesting. Are you wondering about the little gnome in the top photo? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until next time. . .

 

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How to Stay Happy in the Dark of Winter

As we edge closer to December 22, each day gets darker and darker. I begin my day in the dark — and my day isn’t even close to ending when darkness falls again; I often have a compulsion to put my jammies on before I’ve even figured out what we’re having for dinner.

In some parts of the world, they get only a few hours of precious daylight this time of year. And some get none at all.  Despite the darkness, Denmark and the Scandinavian countries routinely top the surveys of the world’s happiest people. Last year, Denmark was #1 followed by Norway at #2, Sweden at #5 and Finland at #7.

Not coincidentally, these countries also lead the world in the strength of their collective cabin culture. In Sweden alone there are nearly 600,000 summer/winter houses and more than 50% of the population has access to one through family or friends. Scandinavian cabins aren’t symbols of privilege;  the dwellings are simple and cozy,  helping people connect with nature, connect with people, and shed the clutter and noise of the city.

Sometimes the cabin is known as smultronställer , meaning “wild strawberry spot,” a Swedish expression for a place special to your heart.

 

I don’t think anyone would deny that being at the cabin makes people happy. And the feelings of happiness generally come from a cozy comfort shared with people you love; it’s like we feel swaddled in physical, emotional and ambient warmth.

The Danes call this feeling “hygge” (sounds like hyoo-gah). And some theorize that hygge is the reason that Danes are among the happiest people in the world, even in the dark of winter. Because they don’t just save hygge for the cabin . . . they bring it home and live it every day. For them, hygge is a way of life.

This funny word has no direct English translation but NPR’s Claire O’Neill describes it like this:  “fireplace warmth with candles and family and friends and food and tucked under blankets on a snowy day, cup-of-coffee conversation, scarf-snuggle, squiggly, baby love.” Doesn’t that make you happy?

As the days get darker and the stress of the holiday season looms, grab some hygge and cabin it up at home. Don’t shortchange yourself! You deserve this! And here’s a place for you to start:

 

 “Hygge-at-Home” Tips from Cabin Crush:

 

 Candles  At breakfast, at dinner, at coffee time, at reading time, at TV time. Candles aren’t just for ambience; they become a ritual of slowing down and savoring the moment. Benita Larsson of Swedish blog Chez Larsson (instagram @benitalarsson) says Swedes use candles not just on special occasions but on most days during the darker months of the year: “Sitting at the breakfast table at candlelight is the best thing. Swedish households are known to use up bags of votives and boxes of tapers in no time at all.”

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Winter Home Scent Collection from Restoration Hardware

 

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I just bought these yesterday at CB2


Blankets Not just one, but many. Layer them. Share them. We have three people in our house and two of us fight over the three blankets in the room. And not just for the family room couch, either, but on just about every sitting place in your house; when you go to an outdoor cafe in Sweden, each chair will have a lap throw draped over the back and you routinely see coffee drinkers wrapped in blankets as they sip. When people in America get cold, they either put  on a jacket or go inside. In Sweden, they wrap up in a blanket. Have a basket nearby so you don’t have to scream at  people to fold their blankets at the end of the night. Here are some faves:

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Faribault Woolens for Target       Faribault Woolens Recycled Wool Throw     Pendleton Yakima Camp Throw

 


 

A Seasonal House Drink  

Many people would die without their coffee in the morning. For some, it’s a reason to get out of bed. And much of that is due to the warm, comforting ritual it provides. Why don’t we have an evening drink ritual? A hot chocolate or a decaf macchiato to enjoy together by the fire (or, if you’re at my house, by The Simpsons)? My son loves the privilege of sipping a decaf sugared-up creamy cream “coffee” with the adults. It  feels special. Here’s a drink I relish. I’m totally serious, I relish it:

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Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays. Pour cream (yes, just do it) or almond milk (if you must) over the top. Sip slowly while the coffee cubes melt and mix with the cream. It’s like forced relaxation.

Photo credit: stylecraze.com

 

Lower Your Dining Room Light Fixture  I once got a comment from a Danish woman that Americans hang their dining room fixtures to high: “It’s not hyggeligt,” she said, hyggeligt being the way we describe things that encourage hygge.

A lower-hanging fixture casts a more delineated glow around the people at the table; it’s cozier, glowy-er, it makes people lean in and feel a part of the circle while everything else fades into the background.

Plus, it just looks better. Don’t think of your dining room light as a ceiling fixture; it’s really more of a table decoration. Try hanging your light 24- 30 inches above the surface of the table. Trust me on this.

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Too high!!!

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     So much better.


 

Games or Puzzles on the Coffee Table

After owning the cabin for more than a year, Liam opened a never-before-opened drawer and found a collection of playing cards that spoke volumes to me. It was like an anthropological relic — this is what these unknown people who came before us did together! If you want more cozy family time, you have to have a reason to occupy the same space while interfacing with each other. Having a game or a jigsaw puzzle at the ready, calling out to you as you pass by, will do the trick. Click here to read a piece that I wrote for Momfilter.com about playing cards with my son in restaurants.

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And there are plenty of beautifully packaged games available today that would be worthy of space on your coffee table (hmmm…not a bad holiday gift).
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Ridley’s Games Room Dominoes 

 

Good luck with your hygge . . .

. . . may this season of darkness be the brightest ever.


Sources:  visitdenmark.co.uk, sweden.se, thelocal.se, npr.org
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The Social Media Introvert’s Guide to Instagram (plus Cabin Crush’s Top 9 Instagrammers)

Of all the social media outlets, Instagram is my favorite. Despite carving out my own little corner of the inter webs, I’m sort of a social media dum dum when it comes to the rest. On Instagram, I can walk around by myself and look at all the pretty pictures but I’m not required to go the after party and discuss each piece with people I barely know. Nor do I feel the need to consider how the artists would feel if I failed to give them a marker of approval.

In truth, I’m a social  media introvert. I don’t enjoy surface-level exchanges with large groups of people. But I also don’t deal well with lengthy personal blogifestos — I’m much too lazy for that. But I do like pretty pictures that I can observe in secret from my own corner of the party.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like to call attention to myself; I love a good post that makes people go “It’s Kristin! She came out of the corner! Let’s listen!”

That is the way of the rare and recently discovered gregarious introvert. It is the equivalent of finding my spot at the party and making everyone come to my corner if they want to talk to me — which is what I totally do in real life. No mingling for me. This is my spot and I’m having my own little party right here and you are all invited but I’m not moving.

Unless, of course, you have Guitar Hero in which case I will totally come out of the corner but you will have to whisper in my ear when it’s someone else’s turn to play the drums. And if someone else has the microphone then I’ll just grab a hair brush and stand next to them.

So Instagram is my jam. And cabin lovers abound there; visual stimuli goes in, drool comes out. It’s awesome. If you are an introverted outdoorsy nature loving cabin dreamer, you should join us.

If you’d like to follow me and my cabin-leaning feed, you can find me here. Here are some of my latest:

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And here are 9 of my favorites to follow. I’d love to tell you that there’s some secret internet algorithm that makes 9 the most attractive number to use in your listicles — but the truth is that my threshold for technical frustration is exceedingly low so I decided that 9 is the new 10 and then I quit. Explore and enjoy…


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Stuganiskogen, stuganiskogen

“Trying to create a cosy house in the Swedish woods.”

I don’t know what’s happening here because I don’t read Swedish. But I do know that I would definitely sleep better under a reindeer hide.


 

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Lotta Jansdotter, lottajansdotter

Textile designer Lotta Jansdotter posts pix of her fresh, crisp, Scandinavian designs. But in July, she hosts the Lotta Jansdotter Aland Workshop and Nature Retreat at her childhood summer home on an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland. This is where the magic happens.


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Pines and Cones, pinesandcones

“Off grid cabin life on Äleby Gård, Selaön in Sweden.”

Again with the Sweden. These people just know how to cabin. And how to light candles at the breakfast table.


 

 

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Cabin Love, cabinlove

“Cabin candy for somewhere far, far away. Let’s be cabineers together!”

I really, really want to be a cabineer.


 

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Cabin Porn, cabinporn

“Inspiration for your quiet place somewhere.”

The elicit name that started the beardie-hipster-off-th-grid cabin movement. The Cabin Porn book is now available at cabinporn.com/book.


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Camp Brand Goods, campbrandgoods

This outdoor adventure apparel from the Canadian Rockies features photos of beautiful outdoorsy people in beautiful outdoorsy settings.


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 Askov Finlayson, askovfinlayson

“Inspired by our region’s history of adventure and culture of creativity. Products of lasting quality and timeless design. Welcome to the North.”

Minneapolis’ own Askov Finlayson is named after a road sign on the highway heading north. Their feed features not just their north-loving products but also images of the north-loving lifestyle that inspires their brand.


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Our Camp Life, ourcamplife

More beautiful people in beautiful settings who are constantly on vacation.

 


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#1 Camp Wandawega, campwandawega,

“A little Wisconsin getaway with a big history. This feed is co-created by the growing creative community who share this place with us.”

And by creative community, we mean people like Land of Nod and other makers of give-it-to-me-I-really-need-that-thing-now design. Plus, Camp Wandawega is an actual camp — restored and operated by aesthetes who are also lovers of all things campy and camp-y. In addition to their cute as a button cabins, you can also stay in a restored airstream trailer known as the Canned Ham.

That makes Camp Wandawega my number one Instagrammer by a landslide.

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A Voice…From Inside the Cabin Shouts “GET OUT!”

Mike and I arrive at the cabin by ourselves for a much needed couples-only respite while Liam is away at camp. It feels special. Grown up. Like we are finally mature enough to have a child who can go to overnight camp for a very long time. And we are also mature enough to feel secure leaving town while he does it. I’m looking forward to forty-eight hours of real and true solitude uninterrupted by the constant begging for Pringles.

We put the Jeep in four wheel drive and drive up the long-ass driveway, bumping over boulders and ducking under branches that scrape over our roof, cresting the hill with some effort, and finally parking at the rear of the cabin. Mike goes to unlock the cabin and take a look around, as is his habit, while I open the tailgate and begin the unloading process. I leave the cooler, which I like to call the “cold chest” so I sound campy and old-fashioned, and grab something much lighter for the first trip. Like chips.

And just when I approach the large bank of windows on the side of the cabin….

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…..I hear Mike shout “GET OUT!”

Followed by a door slamming.

I run to the window and look inside, my chin just reaching the bottom of the sill. Where is he?! What’s happening?!

As my eyes scan the interior of the cabin through the glass, I’m paralyzed with indecision; should I run to the car and lock myself in? Or stand here and witness the demise of my husband so I can ID the perp in court? It never occurs to me to go inside. That just seems foolish. Like opening the basement door when the spooky music is playing.

Because I’m already paralyzed, I go with standing at the window and ID’ing the perp.

That’s when Mike comes running out of the back bedroom, slamming the door again, and when he reaches the living room, I watch as he abruptly stops running and begins doing squats. Not a full set — just a few, like he’s warming up. It looks like he’s ducking from an invisible light sabre.

My nose isn’t pressed against the glass because it’s way too dirty but I really, really want to — as if that somehow helps you see better. What the H is he doing?

After a pause, Mike does one more squat —  and then runs out the front door, slamming it hard behind him. My head turns in the opposite direction, waiting for the perp to give chase. But instead, a big black bat comes swooping toward my window, close enough to make me do a couple squats — even though I am outside and he is in.

Mike opens the windows and doors on the porch and yells to me “Kristin! I’m going back in! I need you to watch for the bat!”

Because this is not our first rodeo, we know how to get a bat out of the house. I know because I googled it from the safety of my bathtub/bed while Mike was “out there” looking for a tennis raquet.

Bats like fresh air. And they will innately fly toward the fresh air which is hopefully coming from your open front door. But it’s not a perfect system so you might have to do a couple sets of squats before he finds it. Unless, of course, you’re sleeping in the tub.

So after opening windows and screen doors, Mike is going to open the front door and then make a run for the refuge of the bathroom. It’s my job to watch the bat and yell for Mike to come out and slam the front door behind Mr. Bat.

Once the plan is in motion, I start yelling at the bat: “Go! Go!” I scream, like I’m cheering on the bat from my bleacher seat at the window. “Go, Bat!” And when he finds his way to the porch, I shout “Do it! Do it!” As if the bat knows English and just needs a little encouragement.

That night, when the bats are out terrorizing y’alls neighborhood, we begin a bat eradication process that we foolishly thought had been done by the Finnish Carpenter. It involves a highly toxic expanding foam that makes superglue look like Elmer’s. Mike uses the Jeep to climb up on the roof and spray the foam into the supposed entry points.

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He walks around up there all Easy Reader-like and I turn away so I don’t have to imagine my life as a widow. I calculate how long it would take an ambulance to get to this remote location and I decide that we will never have any emergencies here. We can only have emergencies at home where the fire station is actually on our street.

Sadly, there are clearly some bats who decided not to go out that night; we hear them panicking when they go to their regular door and it is no longer available. I swear, it sounds like they are actually conversing, frantically, in a language I don’t understand. I imagine someone flapping their wings and screeching “I TOLD YOU WE SHOULD’VE GONE OUT TONIGHT!” It makes me so very uncomfortable but I just keep repeating my mantra, “This is the natural order of things. This is the natural order of things. This is the natural order of things.”

The following weekend, post-bat eradication, we open the cabin only to find finely crafted pyramids of bat poop on the floor. I look up and do a warm-up squat. Mike shakes his fist and revisits the roof that night.

Each time we come back, we find the finely crafted pyramids of poop and respond by spraying more toxic foam into smaller and smaller openings, most of them no bigger than a crack. I’m starting to think that the bats are supernatural and just pass through walls.

On two separate occasions, we fight bats in the middle of the night, while our guests sleep. And on one occasion, our movie night is interrupted by a flutter and a mysterious breeze. “Ghosts!” I think. Until Liam calmly says “Oh….hello bat.”

Suffice it to say that hilarity ensued.

This particular visitor was a dive bomber — don’t let anyone tell you that bats don’t do that – my thighs are still burning from what was definitely the most rigorous set of squats I’ve ever done. Mike sets the plan in motion once again, running out to the porch with Batty hot on his heels, and deftly closes the door behind him, trapping the two of them on the porch. That’s taking one the the team, am I right?

Just as I’m straightening up from my squat, Liam lunges for the door so he can join Mike out on the porch.

“NOOOO!” I scream, throwing my weight against the door.

And Liam screams back at me, “I WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS!!!!”

I hold him back while Mike battles the bat on the porch — seriously, I actually have to physically restrain him so he won’t run out there and sabotage the whole operation because god knows he’s never shut a door in his whole gd life.

Five minutes later, we repeat this same exact scene when another bat dive-bombs our movie. Except this time, I shoo Liam out the door after Mike so he doesn’t miss out on any of the bat-dodging fun.
The next step in bat eradication is radical. And it hurts me because I am the one who’s taken great pains to make our cabin pretty. Our next step is to spray the highly toxic expanding foam on the INSIDE of our cabin. In the rafters, around doors, around windows, in places that we hang out every day — not like the roof. Do what you want to the roof, I don’t care. The only one who’s going to see what the roof looks like is the guy who goes up there to spray highly toxic expanding foam.

When you spray even the tiniest bit, it quickly grows like some sort of sea monkey, and hardens into a puss-colored mushroom cloud. It looks like the spongey material of a booth from a ’70- era fast food restaurant, the kind that always had chunks bitten out by some toddler. And if you don’t act quickly and carefully, with your hands and arms fully covered, it will either drop on you and fuse to your skin forever or it will hang in perpetuity like puss-colored cabin stalactites.

But I don’t care.

Because the next time we visit the cabin, there are no finely crafted pyramids of bat poop on the floor.

When I tell Mike that the next Cabin Crush post will be about the bats, he says proudly, “I’M BATMAN!”
And I do believe he’s earned it.

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A Collection of Cabin Recipes…..even though my cooking skills are limited to those that don’t involve heat.

Because…… my mom decided to teach me to cook when I was in fifth grade and I decided that I would NOT learn to cook in fifth grade. I was all Marlo Thomas and William Wants a Doll and Parents Are People (People With Children) and it just felt like she was training me to cook for my husband. And my eleven year old self was like “Hey! That’s not okay!” and “Hey! He can cook for his own damn self whoever he is!” I just could not envision a future in which my husband didn’t have two fully functioning hands (my apologies to those who really don’t have two fully functioning hands and I will totally cook for you if you need it. Without heat, of course).

So we have a system in our house in which I do all the meal planning and grocery shopping and Mike willingly and skillfully does all the cooking with heat. I’m happy to whip up a salad or a side dish or some kind of appetizer, I just don’t know what “braise” means. Basically, I could eat dinner with Cher in the movie Mermaids every day and be perfectly happy.

When I plan food for the cabin (because I am the meal planner), I settle on a single breakfast to be repeated twice, a single lunch to be repeated twice, and two dinners to cook on the grill (with heat. Mike, you’re up).

Here’s what I’m packing for this holiday weekend, all of them winners from past cabin weekends:

First Breakfast:
Peaches, granola and Thai Kitchen coconut milk (from the can!).

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When I rise, I’m usually alone. The boys are out fishing and it’s quiet. They’ve presumably eaten something but I have no idea what and I need a little something to tide me over until they get back for…..

Second Breakfast:
Eggs and bacon are the traditional makings of “second breakfast,” which comes after fishing and before hot dog thirty.

Lunch:
Hot dogs. Just hot dogs. Every time hot dogs. It doesn’t even deserve a photo. Don’t get fancy with lunch because no one appreciates it. Save yourself a giant headache in the middle of the day and just stick your wiener on the grill (if you’re laughing right now, you can party at my house).

Dinner:

Here’s where we get creative. Dinner is nice and long because we’ve got nothing to do and nowhere to go so we might as well take the time to make it good. The following are some of our favorites so far.


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Char Siu Chicken 

Adapted from the May 2015 issue of Saveur Magazine, we call this “Two Day Chicken” because it requires two days of marinating. Don’t skimp on the marinating! I’m going to go all Rachael Ray here because the only descriptive word I have is “Mm…Mmm” (pointing at food with mouth full).  You’ll be fighting over those little blackened pieces of charred chicken skin.

We use bone-in thighs for extra flavor.

Ingredients:

14 cup brown sugar

14 cup honey

14 cup ketchup

14 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tbsp. hoisin sauce

12 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

1 (4-lb.) chicken, halved lengthwise, backbone discarded

2 tbsp. canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Mix sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin, and Chinese five spice in a bowl. Toss marinade with chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 2 days.

2. Build a medium-heat fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium. Remove chicken from marinade, and season with salt and pepper; grill skin-side down, turning once, until charred and cooked through, about 30–35 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh reads 165°. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes before carving.


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Vietnamese-Style Pork

Also adapted from the May 2015 issue of Saveur Magazine. Again with “Mm…Mmm” and the pointing at food with mouth full.

Ingredients:

14 cup fish sauce

14 cup fresh lime juice

14 cup sugar

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 serrano pepper, stemmed and roughly chopped

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 lb. boneless pork collar or shoulder, trimmed

Sliced cucumber, lettuce, and tomato, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, serrano pepper, cilantro, salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl with pork.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

2.  Build a medium-heat fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium.) Remove pork from marinade, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper; grill, turning as needed, until slightly charred and cooked to medium, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the pork reads 140°. Let pork rest 10 minutes; slice against the grain into 12-inch-thick slices. *this is like a foreign language to me.

3. Serve with sliced cucumber, lettuce, and tomato


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Banh Mi Hot Dog

There are lots of hot dogs at the cabin. And that’s okay. But sometimes I crave something a little more adventurous in the woods. Maybe a little less juvenile. Ketchup is a children’s food and we big girls prefer veggies and fancy mayo on ours. I got the idea from My Name is Yeh, a food blog by a New Yorker living on a North Dakota farm.

In addition to hot dogs and the optional bun, you’ll need the following:

Ingredients:

hoisin sauce
sriracha mayo (1/2 c mayo + 2 tsp sriracha, or more if desired)

fresh cilantro sprigs
pickled veggies (see recipe below)

Instructions:

Drizzle, stack, sauce your dog and eat.


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Pickled Veggies

I use the pickling recipe from Recipe Girl’s Bread and Butter Pickles but instead of using sliced cukes, I use thinly sliced carrot, onion and red pepper along with some diced cucumber. I use it like a slaw or a sauerkraut, adding a quasi-addictive tang to hot dogs, burgers or chicken.

Don’t be afraid of this. This is a lot of directions for me but it’s definitely worth it – I even had to turn on the stove but I didn’t mind because it was a simple “dump and heat” situation; don’t ask me to put something in a pan, do something with heat, and then put other things in the pan at different intervals. That is just too much.

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups (1 1/2 pounds) thinly sliced and diced carrots, peppers, and cukes

1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt

1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

Instructions:

1. Fill glass jars with chopped veg.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.

3. Pour hot vinegar mixture into veggie jars; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.


You’re welcome. Now make a list, go to the store and get your holiday weekend on.

~Kristin

Photo credist: luna—belle, Kristin Nilsen, Saveur Magazine, Saveur Magazine ,Molly Yeh and Kristin Nilsen.