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Summer Vacation Is Better with Coloring Books

When school lets out, it’s time to enjoy a summer vacation. For some families, this is a chance to bring the kids to popular tourist locations, like Walt Disney World. Others use this opportunity to visit their favorite national park, such as Yellowstone or Yosemite. My family tends to stay closer to our Minnesota home, with day trips to the Mall of America or the North Shore of Lake Superior. Regardless of your family’s preferences, whether your children are sitting in an airplane or riding in the backseat, you can supplement their summer vacation (and yours!) with regionally themed coloring books. At around $5 or so, AdventureKEEN’s Color and Learn Activity Books are a smart investment for any trip. Here’s why: They’re Educational Sure, school’s out, and the last thing your kids probably want is even a suggestion of “learning.” But it can be our little secret. These fun books aren’t just random games...

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Children reading books

Stan Tekiela—Keen Observer of Nature

In this week’s column, Stan Tekiela shares with us his keen observations of mother nature at this special time of year, when reproduction is the name of the game. Millions of birds of all shapes, colors, and sizes migrate back to the northland and join the resident non-migrators in a frenzy of setting up territories, attracting mates, constructing nests, and getting ready to breed. All of this activity makes it appear that nature is moving at a frenzied pace. Birds are singing, fighting, chasing, gathering nesting materials, eating, and breeding. I have been spending a lot of time out watching and filming all of this activity. Here are a few of my observations from this spring. It’s been fun watching a family of Hooded Mergansers who were nesting in one of my Wood Duck boxes. I have a small color camera with audio installed inside the nest box, which gives me an insight into...

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Just Like Laura Ingalls Wilder

Mary M. Bauer, author of Minnesota Day Trips, takes us on a tour of attractions that visit the home territory of beloved author Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s also a chance for your family to understand the life of real pioneers. Show your youngsters what it was like to live on the prairie without electricity or indoor plumbing. Walnut Grove—Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum In 1874, 7-year-old Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family traveled from Wisconsin’s Big Woods to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, settling on the banks of Plum Creek. The community preserves Laura’s past and celebrates with an annual festival in her honor. Visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, located at 330 8th Street. Here, you’ll see “Grandma’s House” among the four buildings at the main museum site. The Ingalls homestead site is 1 1⁄2 miles north of the museum. The museum is open daily April through October. The gift store at the museum is open...

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What Eats That?

Mini Grilled Blackberry Cobbler—A Campfire Foodie Recipe

Julia Rutland, author of The Campfire Foodie Cookbook: Simple Camping Recipes with Gourmet Appeal, shares with us her recipe for Mini Grilled Blackberry Cobbler. I always make sure I have extra Basic Baking Mix in my supplies, in case I run across a bounty of fresh berries. This recipe is very forgiving if pickings are slim or the berries don’t make it back to the campsite—you end up with a more cake-like dessert. The nuttier texture of whole wheat pairs well with the berries, but use plain if you prefer. Ingredients: 2 cups fresh or 2 (6-ounce) containers fresh blackberries or raspberries 1/2 plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided 3 tablespoons butter ¼ cup Whole Wheat or Basic Baking Mix 2/3 cup milk  Prep at Home: Prepare baking mix and combine with 1⁄2 cup sugar; label and store in an airtight container. At Campsite: Prepare a charcoal fire or a gas grill with lid for indirect heat. Wash berries; drain but do not pat dry (the moisture...

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Invaders of the Great Lakes

The Majesty of Our Eagles

Stan Tekiela, author of Majestic Eagles, shares with us his knowledge and amazing pictures of our national symbol. There are nearly 60 eagle species in the world. Found on every continent except Antarctica, the overwhelming majority occur in the Old World, three species are seen in Australia, and a few are in South America. Ornithologists have divided all eagle species into four groups based on similar traits—the Sea and Fish Eagle, Booted Eagle, Snake Eagle, and Harpy Eagle groups, with the Bald Eagle fitting rightly into the Sea and Fish Eagle group (due to its close association with water and fishing). The Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle are the only two species in North America. The Golden is seen around the world in northern temperate regions. The Bald Eagle occurs only in North America, namely the United States, Canada, and Mexico. While we don’t have a large variety of eagle species in...

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What Eats That?

Vegetarian Campfire Chili—A Campfire Foodie Recipe

Check out this fabulous Vegetarian Campfire Chili recipe by Julia Rutland, author of The Campfire Foodie Cookbook: Simple Camping Recipes with Gourmet Appeal. Chipotle-flavored meatless crumbles add heat, but any kind works well. You can also prepare this with ground beef, ground chicken, or ground turkey. Cook any of these ground meats with the onion and bell peppers until browned and crumbly. Add toppings such as sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired. Ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 red bell pepper, chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped 1 (12-ounce) package frozen and thawed meatless crumbles 2 tablespoons Mexican or Taco Seasoning Blend (recipe below) or 1.7-ounce chili seasoning mix 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (chili seasoned or plain), undrained 2 (14-ounce) can dark or light kidney beans, rinsed and drained Worcestershire sauce Prep at Home: Chop onion and bell peppers; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. At Campsite: Prepare a charcoal or gas grill, wood campfire, or assemble a camp cookstove. Heat oil in a 10- or...

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Nature

How Young Wolves Are Raised

Stan Tekiela shares with us his love for wolves in his amazing book The Lives of Wolves, Coyotes, and Foxes. Today he talks about how young wolves are raised. Wolves are not so different from our own domestic dogs, and they hold a very special place in Stan Tekiela’s heart. Each time he gets a chance to see or photograph one or more of these wild canids, he is thrilled beyond words. Every encounter is remarkable and memorable. Wolves are a symbol of all things wild. They indicate an intact ecosystem, complete with top predators. As stewards of the environment, we have the responsibility to keep the ecosystem balanced by maintaining and supporting all wildlife, including animals such as wolves, coyotes, and foxes. It’s an honor and a privilege to share in the appreciation and safe-keeping of our wild and wonderful wolves. Wolves don’t make homes of their dens. They use dens only...

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What Eats That?

English Muffulettas—A Campfire Foodie Recipe

Julia Rutland, author of The Campfire Foodie Cookbook: Simple Camping Recipes with Gourmet Appeal, shares with us her recipe for English Muffulettas. These New Orleans specialties are typically prepared as an extra-large, whole sandwich; however, when camping or picnicking, individual ones are easier to pack and eat. Toasting the muffins keeps the bread from getting soggy. Wrap the muffulettas in aluminum foil and reheat on a grill or over a campfire. Ingredients: 4 English muffins, toasted Creole or Dijon mustard Mayonnaise 4 slices smoked provolone or Muenster cheese 4 slices Canadian bacon 12 slices smoked turkey 4 slices large salami 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup Olive Salad (recipe below) Prep at Home: Prepare Olive Salad; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Toast English muffins until light golden brown. Spread bottom halves with mustard and mayonnaise. Layer cheese and meats evenly on each bottom half, and top each with 2 to 3 tablespoons Olive Salad. Add top halves of muffins, and wrap each...

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Amazing Bird Eggs—Observing Backyard Birds

Stan Tekiela, author of Backyard Birds: Welcomed Guests at our Gardens and Feeders, shares with us how truly amazing bird eggs are. All of the nourishment and water to support the growing chick are within the egg when it is laid. The unique design of the eggshell allows air to enter and exit yet prevents water from doing the same.  An eggshell is remarkably strong but lightweight. The arching shape is the secret to its strength and prevents a sitting parent from crushing it. In one experiment, chicken eggs placed in their normal horizontal position withstood more than 90 pounds! The same eggs placed in an atypical vertical position were only able to handle 50 pounds. Female birds can produce only one egg per day or every other day during the nesting season. The first day a mother bird is ready to lay an egg, she sits on her nest and produces the egg in a quick process of a few seconds to a couple of minutes. Because...

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White Sangria—The Perfect Drink for a Gathering of Friends

Cabins and lake homes are meant for friends and family! We gather around decks, patios, and boats for lazy conversations and needed relaxation. Pontoon boats in particular are part of the lake magic, perfect for cruising around and sharing food and beverages, and they’ve long been associated with the lake-living tradition. In the past two weeks we shared some fun food recipes, but what would an outing be without a great drink? Today, Jon and Erin Davis, authors of Pontoon Food: Easy-to-Serve Recipes for the Water and Deck, share with us their favorite White Sangria recipe. White Sangria Startlingly, “sangria” is the Spanish word for bloodletting. This describes the deep red color of sangria as it is most commonly made: with red wine. This white sangria variation is a bit lighter and more refreshing. For an even lighter version, substitute sparkling water for the sparkling wine to make a delicious spritzer. Ingredients
 1/2 Bosc pear, peeled...

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