Tag Archives: unplug

A Lesson From Long Lake

A year ago, I was given a gray t-shirt depicting two bears, a mother and baby, across the chest. They were printed in white, and the words “Long Lake” stretched beneath them like a path. It was a gift from my boyfriend, Robby, who visited me where I worked as a camp counselor. He had just returned from a trip to his family’s cabin on Long Lake’s shore. The lake is tucked safely away in Adirondack State Preserve, located in upstate New York.
As I unfolded the t-shirt, stories began to fly.
“You would love it there, Hannah,” he said. “My sisters and I went there all the time as kids. We used to pick blueberries from the bushes outside and my dad would make incredible pancakes.”
Long Lake sounded like something out of a fairy tale. Water so still that you could hear a far-off whisper, tiny islands with names like Pancake and Feather, chipmunks eating popcorn kernels right out of your hand.
“Next summer, we’ll go,” he said.
This past July, his statement came to fruition. We made the twelve-hour haul up to Long Lake with Robby’s three roommates. Toward the end of the drive, the air got cooler, the sky got brighter, and the tiny service bars on our phones began to drop.

IMG_0656“The cabin’s pretty isolated,” said Robby. “There’s no cell service or electricity.” He had said it before, but as buildings turned to houses and houses gave way to trees, the word “isolated” began to crystallize around us. I looked at my increasingly useless phone, realizing with a twinge of shame just how much time I let my world shrink to a five-and-a-half inch screen. Scrolling through Twitter and Youtube had become a go-to activity in between daily events. While I once painted or wrote or did yoga at random times during the day, I now found myself increasingly complacent, drawn into the hypnotic, humorous worlds behind the square-shaped apps. My battery was nearly dead, my laptop was back in Virginia, and I smiled calmly at the thought of being unplugged. Every few minutes, another phone would lose service and its owner would join the growing conversation.
A grocery trip and a boat ride later, we were floating up to the cabin in the suddenly-pouring rain. Two people jumped out of the boat and secured it to the dock with ropes, and the five of us ferried in backpacks, hiking boots, and cases of beer. When we were done, I walked back outside to look at where I would be living for a week. It was exactly as Robby had described. Wide planks of dark brown pinewood formed the walls of the cabin, and a green roof the color of aged copper stood in a high triangle. Simple, unadorned windows lined the sides of every wall, and a small deck wrapped around a corner. The entire thing was hidden shyly behind pine trees and blueberry bushes.
“What do you think?” Robby asked when I went back inside.
I smiled and said, “This place is perfect.”

IMG_0671And so began the delightful withdrawal from civilization. This particular group, excluding myself, was made up of video game enthusiasts. Gaming is used to bond and entertain, but also to fill the time in a way similar to what my iPhone had become. With zero access to anything electronic, the hours were filled with cooking, fishing, boat rides, and swinging in hammocks. It wasn’t until the fourth day there that I realized how much my lack of a cell phone had impacted me. It was the first time since our arrival that the weather had been anything but clear and sunny, and someone dusted off the board game “Risk.” I had never played Risk due to a deep and genuine loathing for strategic board games. I was handed dozens of tiny red pieces and told to learn as we went.
Playing a board game on a rainy day is an instance where I may frequently check out of the game and into my Twitter account, but I was left with no other option but fully engaging. I loved the game and almost won. Each person spent the whole time laughing and strategizing and pleading and making bets, as opposed to wasting significant chunks of attention on cell phone screens.

IMG_0657Conversations throughout that week were more meaningful, not split between a person and a device. With no alternative for distraction, we learned to really listen to each other, and creative outdoor activities replaced what would certainly be a Netflix binge for some. In a way, it was heartbreaking to see how different things could be without the widespread addiction to technology. It does not take a genius to distinguish between cyberspace and real life, but I required a brief withdrawal to observe the sheer power that my phone has over me.
Since that week of quiet water and leaping fish, stunning sunsets and group cooking efforts, I have tried to be less attached to my phone. My goal is to only go to it when I truly need to communicate with another person. When I find my eyes roaming automatically toward it, I try to catch myself. I breathe and picture a birch tree surrounded by blueberry bushes. It’s not always successful. It’s tough when I’m alone or when others around me are absorbed in screens of their own. However, my prayer is that people will collectively rediscover the value of human interaction, the value of silence, even boredom. Flicking off the screens gives me an incentive and venue for reflection, creativity, and friendship building. With this in mind, I pull on my Long Lake t-shirt and leave the phone at home.

 

Written by Hannah Bridges

Staycations!: An End-of-Season Home Vacation

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

Pack your bags, it’s time for the best end-of-season vacation you have ever had and you don’t have to leave home to take it!   Vacations don’t have to end just because a season ends, take a relaxing and enjoyable vacation at-home or in your hometown anytime you want.

A true staycation is more than just a week or weekend at home; it is a planned intentional time of events for relaxation and fun for your entire family.

Here are a few planning tips for a successful Staycation:

1. Brief-your-case for having a vacation at home by including your family with the planning process.  See Step 4.

2.  Decide what kind of vacation you want to take. Gather brochures just like you would when you plan a travel destination.

3.  Create a budget for activities and food.  Plan your menu for the week and make-ahead a few meals related to your themed vacation.  No one really wants to cook while on vacation, unless it is a culinary destination.

4. Inspire the family with the staycation idea and plan a “staycation idea” dinner party/meeting.  Good food always brings people together and a pretty tablescape will reinforce the excitement that a  home vacation could be fun.

5. Clean your house before you begin your staycation. Get caught up on laundry, dishes, and the everyday duties that can be stressful.  Place special scents and music in your home that reflect the type of vacation you are taking.  Select special guest room items in each bedroom to mimic a bed and breakfast vacation.  Set up and stock a beverage center with your family’s favorite snacks or snacks that you would have on a travel destination.  Set up a continental breakfast buffet for each day of your vacation.

6. Unplug for a day!  Develop a plan that the entire family will unplug all technical devices including cell phones, computers, pads, and even watches during this vacation week.  Make it a game and give a prize at the end of the week to the family member who stayed true to the technical shut down.  Select a prize that excites everyone and announce the no –tech challenge at the beginning of the vacation week or during your family planning meeting.

7.  Maybe your staycation is an outdoor adventure, plan for day trips to zip lines, white water rafting or hiking the mountain trails.  Other ideas for a staycation include: Spa day or week, a culinary international tour , Hawaiian or Caribbean cruise with different ports of call or create a DIY room, you get the idea.

Here is one Staycation Dinner Party-meeting inspiration to get you started:

mini suitcaase-www.lizbushong.comYour planning meeting could be a trip to a tropical beach.   Begin with a suitcase as the centerpiece.  A backyard profusion of blooms-hydrangeas, pink geraniums and verbena- overflows the open suitcase centerpiece.  Simply line the vintage suitcase with plastic then add a water- filled rectangular dish to hold the fresh cut flowers and potted plants in place.  Plank the sides of the suitcase with tropical photos or scrapbooks.

Bright and bold colorful placemats serve as a runner for the center of the table. At each place setting create mini suitcase favors that are made from cardstock.  Cover the suitcase with cute stickers and fill boxes with candies or surprises for each family member.  See mini suitcase how to at www.lizbushong.com.

A quick and easy healthy menu includes make-a-head black bean burgers, sweet potato fries and a peachy apricot parfait for dessert.  Your family will be surprised and excited about taking a home vacation.  Remember, planning is key, we don’t want this satiation to be all on mom and dad’s shoulders, this is a family affair.  Make this staycation fun and a time for reconnecting with the family.

Peach Parfait www.lizbushong.comPeach-Apricot Cream Parfait       www.lizbushong.com 

1 -12 oz. ounce can apricot nectar
1-3oz. package lemon flavored gelatin
2 -16 oz cans unsweetened apricot halves and peach halves, drained
1-8oz package sour cream
Whipped cream and mint springs to garnish if desired

In small saucepan, bring to boil 1 cup apricot nectar. Remove from heat.
Add lemon gelatin, stir until dissolved, stir in remaining cold apricot nectar. Set aside.
Place peaches and apricots in electric blender, process until smooth. Divide mixture.
Add sour cream to one part of divided fruit mixture.  Process to blend.
Pipe or pour fruit mixture into decorative parfait or serving dishes. Garnish with whipped cream/mint sprig.

Yield:   8 parfaits

Bean Burger recipe www.lizbushong.comSpicy Black Bean Burgers      www.lizbushong.com

2 cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
¼ cup slivered green onions
¼ cup diced celery
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each paprika, red pepper, cumin, oregano, parsley, dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon grated lime peel
2 teaspoons lime olive oil
Olive oil and butter for cooking

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Pat mixture into a 4 x 6 inch rectangle and score into 3- 2-inch sections making 6 burgers.  Shape into 6 patties.
Heat skillet with 1- teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter.  Fry burgers until browned 3 minutes on each side.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight before cooking.

Yield:  6- 2” burgers

For a seasoned potato buns recipe, visit www.lizbushong.com!

Helping you Make a Statement, Make is Sassy and Make it Yours! ® 

See staycation ideas http://www.livingwellspendingless.com

Liz Circle 2013 smallLiz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tri-cities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine.  For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com