I took a half day at work so we could make it up north before it got super late. When we arrived we brought in our stuff, turned on the heat and headed back into town to get groceries.
We had hoped to get another rotisserie chicken, but they were out. I chose a pastie for my meal.
Meadow and I went for the classic, off-brand, box mac and cheese. We made too much and shared it with Brooke.
I went right to work making my ice molds.
She's always making luminaries if it's freezing outside and we're at the cottage.
You've got to eat a hearty breakfast when you've got day full of Northwoods winter fun.
The ice still wasn't frozen all the way through.
Then we all bundled up and went down to the lake.
There was hardly any snow on the lake. This was going to be the best ice rink ever.
Meadow requested that I bring down her sled.
Then I slid her across the ice lake.
It felt unusually warm out on the lake.
It was even sunny out, but we were pretty active.
She's such a good helper.
With the recent warm up and refreeze the lake was not ideal for ice skating. Meadow was really struggling and my skates kept getting stuck in the crunchy parts.
She still tried her hardest.
She fell a lot, most of the time I think it was fake.
I think she's going to be a skater girl before you know it.
For now she still wants to use her pusher.
It was going to be dark soon and we needed to get our Christmas tree cut.
Into the woods we went.
This one looked good.
And before you knew it, we were on our way back to the cottage.
I could really go for these right now.
We had to find a new spot for the tree after the fireplace was put in.
"I love decorating trees with you Mama"
I'm useful once and while.
We were still alone so we decided to go for a quick walk. While out my dad and Brittany passed us on the road.
I had called my dad the other day to see when he would be coming up. That's when he mentioned Chelsea and Brittany were coming up too. Oy. this was going to be a full house.
Northwoods NYE was traditionally al low key affair, but it would still be a great weekend.
We opened the Christmas gifts we missed from Christmas. Meadow got a toy banjo from Brittany.
Brittany had me this year and really spoiled me. She got me two pairs of wool socks, dry skin brushes for my body and face, a book on medicinal herbs, a knitting counter, cough tea and bottles for making my own tinctures.
I also got some great gifts from my parents. A book on all the historic homes you can visit in Minnesota, hair thinning scissors and, best of all, a Minnesota Historical Society Membership!
The granddaughters love their grandpa.
Meadow got what she asked for from Santa from my parents. A pink dress, a purple dress and her own garden tools.
Blake and Daniel arrived and I got to open my present from Blake. I got a guide to the fish of Minnesota and some really nice gloves!
Then I finished making my cake.
It wasn't pretty and I didn't think there would be enough for everyone, but I made a pork roast. It turned out pretty great.
And enough servings for everyone.
Hey, Blake really did arrive.
What's this beautiful dessert?
My dad was watching a show a few weeks ago where someone was gifted a King Cake. He called and asked me about it. I had heard about before, but after reading more it seemed like a good New Years Eve cake. Technically it is supposed to be made when Epiphany starts. We are a little early, but that's okay. It's also supposed to have Mardi Gras colors. I went to 4 different stores and could not find purple sprinkles. Packer colors would do. It's supposed to have a baby hidden inside too, but I couldn't find one of those either.
Anyway...it was like a really good cinnamon roll in cake form.
Chelsea and crew showed up late the night before. By morning the house was full.
I read a book to everyone. Only Blake and Brittany were paying attention.
Let the mess begin.
Oh yea, remember how I told you Blake invited his roommate Daniel. Well, he invited also his dog Zissou.
My dad and I cut up all the vegetables we had to make breakfast for the crowd. We mostly stole from the veggie tray he brought.
Once breakfast was finished we could open our presents from Northwoods Santa.
Then it was Santa time.
Daniel was in for a marathon of present opening.
We asked Marina to hand out presents. Of course she picked one with her name on it first.
The superhero girl got a Spiderman tent.
I got a mosquito head net. It may be a joke, but I will probably actually use it when we are on Blake's land.
Meadow got a canoe ornament from Nolan.
Blake and my dad opened our snow blocks. Too bad the snow isn't packable.
These rings were given to me by my dad. I wrapped them up for all of our nieces and nephews.
I've been telling Mike I wanted a Mepps all year. He, I mean Santa, made my day.
Santa even remembered Daniel.
Blake got the best gift of all, a protest sign. It says, "Stop Wall Street. No pipelines too! Blake"
It was actually a grass cutter. We were all cracking up.
When we thought all the gifts were done, more kept coming.
Santa was on his A game this year.
This year I got a Menards mug, pink camo tissues, a wind spinner, pink golf balls, mosquito head net and a pink tape measure.
I got a juicy lucy maker, a fish car freshener, the tackle, a camo hanky and baseball cap light.
Meadow got peanut m&m's (that was the other thing she asked Santa for), Dory coloring book, Dory puzzle, play jewelry, Dory bubbles. And from Chelsea a necklace and, not shown, a kids book about a couple that traveled the US on bike.
She also got another puzzle and dollhouse from Santa.
When I asked Meadow what her favorite gift was of all her gifts she said, "Candy!"
We were all excited to go sledding at the big hill. It has been years since we've made it to the old abandoned ski resort.
The photo is deceiving, it is a really big hill.
Blake and Daniel were the first to brave the giant hill.
We took one of the tubes we used on the lake. We weren't sure how it would work.
Marina was excited to head down the smaller hill.
Meadow decided to opt out of sledding this time.
Sometimes she likes to watch everyone else.
It turned out the tube was perfect for the big hill.
We all took a turn down the big hill, but mostly stayed around the smaller hill.
I was sticking to the green sled. I wasn't sure I wanted to go down in the yellow tube.
Then it was Brooke's turn.
Hey, we're all still in one piece.
Zissou ran down alongside Daniel every time he went down the hill.
There also was a party going on next to us. My dad thinks they were part of the local snowmobile club.
When Brooke was coming down the hill the revelers blasted a confetti canon. The old park worker in me had flashbacks to cleaning up piñata confetti.
I missed the confetti as I was climbing the hill. It looked pretty from the distance.
We just kept on going.
Blake thought it would be funny if he pushed me down the hill. When I got to the bottom I hit some brush and flipped over. It was awesome.
Nolan thought you were supposed to eat the confetti.
We were all getting pooped from climbing hills.
Marina thought Nolan would want to go again and pushed him down the hill.
Luckily our sled is pretty steady.
We finally got Meadow to go in the big black sled with Chelsea. She was not happy.
Just as we were leaving a big group of sledders arrived.
I guess this isn't our secret anymore.
There wasn't much of anything left for us to eat. I mixed some mac and cheese with more cheese and salsa. I'm happy to report that chili mac and cheese nachos are great.
I noticed the sun came out and saw how pretty it looked down by the lake. We thought we would take a look.
It didn't disappoint. I love Dog Lake sunsets.
Blake, Daniel and I took turns on the snowmobile.
I just can't do it anymore. Frozen lakes scare me.
The lake was the slickest I've ever experienced; perfect for doing donuts.
Blake had bought a bunch of fireworks on their way.
Of course he had to test them out.
Then it was time to celebrate NYE. We chose the new Mexican restaurant in Eagle River, Agave Azul. With a group this big we had to go someplace that didn't require a reservation.
Harvey wanted a burrito, now.
Somehow I ended up at the table with Marina, Nolan and Meadow. The good thing was that meant more chips and salsa for me.
We may have shared a few pitchers of margaritas.
Meadow mostly ate chips. I don't think it was as good as the last Mexican restaurant up here, but I'd go back. You can't get fish fry and surf and turf every year.
After dinner we stopped back at home to put the kids to bed. Brittany doesn't prefer going out to bars and was nice to stay home with the kids.
Since we wouldn't get to celebrate all together at midnight we popped the champagne early.
Then we headed down to the lake to watch fireworks.
We decided to stay in the area. I'm a little sad Meadow didn't get to join us this year.
We decided on the tiki bar that we'd always wanted to go to.
Mai Tiki Bar turned out to be a killer choice. They had free cash raffles every hour, all you can eat pizza, a free jukebox and strong drinks. Before I could even order a drink I won a $50 gift card. Win!
We shared one of their signature fishbowl drinks.
Darts and billiards were also on the house. Man did we make a good bar choice.
Mr. Mike always finds these games.
These guys spent a lot of time in the game room.
Chelsea kept trying to win a toy for Nolan, but every one she got was too girly.
With Scott's free money we bought shots for everyone. We never drink shots so we asked Chelsea what her favorite was. She requested a Baby Guinness. The bartender wasn't sure what that was either.
It turned out that it was half Kahlua and half Bailey's. It was good.
Happy New Year! I think this is the first new years where we were actually still out at midnight.
At the end of the night everyone was pretty buzzed apart from Mr. Mike, Dan and I. These four were particularly tipsy.
You mean the three musketeers.
Waffles and pancakes for everyone.
The only way to recover from a long New Year's Eve.
Meadow rode with her grandpa to cut some holes for ice fishing.
Our time spent shoveling the rink was a waste since it snowed that night. Brittany reshoveled a new patch for her and Marina.
Riding like a big girl.
She loved to see grandpa hook the minnows on the tip-ups.
New Year, still beautiful.
All the kids wanted to ride too.
Unfortunately we couldn't stay for a few more days like years past.
While everyone else had Monday off and stayed another night, we had to head back.