The 5 Year Memory Book

I haven’t done much in the way of crafting this week. I have been sick with some sort of cold/allergy hybrid cough. And when I get sick, all I want to do after work is lay down and watch TV.lk So, that’s pretty much what I did this week. I caught up on my Project Runways, cursed the ill-timed Revenge hiatus and got hooked on Downton Abby.

But this week hasn’t been a total brain drain. I have been keeping up with my creative side with the help of this 5 Year Memory Book I purchased.

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I first saw it mentioned in one of my favorite quilting blogs, Mommy By Day Crafter By Night. Once I read up on what it was, I knew that I needed to have it. I ordered it from Amazon and in a couple of days it was at my door. I’ve been writing in it every night since.

I really love this book because it is perfect for people who just can’t keep up journal writing everyday. I love to write, and I always feel better after writing down my thoughts on a particular subject, but I just don’t have the time (or the attention span) to keep up with it everyday. This 5 Year Memory Book has a about 7 lines per day, where you can write the most memorable part of the day. It only takes about 5 minutes to think of and write the entry each night.

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The best part about book is that each day has enough space to write out an entry per day for 5 years. That way every year, you can reflect on what you did or how you felt in the year(s) before. I’m pretty proud that I have managed to keep up with it every night since I’m not an everyday writer. Although, pretty much every entry thus far has been a blow by blow of how I have been coughing up a lung for 9 straight days.

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But after a sick day from work, a doctor’s appointment, 3 prescriptions and a few allergy pills later…I feel much better. Still coughing but at least I have my energy level back. I managed to finish an overdue quilted pot holder and my mom’s Mother’s Day gift–more on those later!

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Planning The Perfect Picnic

There are only a limited amount of beautiful days left here in New York. Summer is coming to a close and this week I realized that I haven’t been on a picnic all summer! Chris and I really love packing up a bag full of food and spending the day eating and lounging in the shade of a tree. We agreed that this past weekend, it was either now or never. So, I got my butt off the couch, went to the supermarket and dug out my Picnic at Ascot picnic tote, which had been collecting dust in the back of my closet since last summer.

Picnic BagWe had such a great time on Saturday that I wanted to post some tips on how to plan a really great picnic. It’s not too late for you to plan a picnic of your own. It’s quick and easy–especially if you follow these quick and easy planning tips:

STEP 1: PICK YOUR LOCATION

I think there are three key elements to consider when planning the perfect picnic. Those elements are location, menu and activities. The first thing to consider is the location of your picnic because the location will determine the mood. If you are going for more of a romantic feel you might choose to go picnic at a private beach or lake where you’ll be able to get some quality alone time. If you are going for more of a family outing then a local park would work perfectly.

If you don’t have any particular place in mind check out your state parks–they will give you plenty of ideas for places to go and offer a wide variety of amenities that will help you out with the third step in the picnic planning–your activities. Here’s a great list of state parks by state compiled by Wikipedia. On Saturday, Chris and I went to Belmont Lake State Park. It was only about a 25 minute car ride from my house on Long Island. We set up our picnic blanket right in front of the lake and had a great view of the wildlife that live there as we ate.

Chris and Marci Picnic

STEP 2: PLAN YOUR MENU

The second element to consider when planning your picnic is your menu. Depending on the duration of your picnic you want to bring enough food to keep you nice and full. Depending on your location, you will want to prepare food that you are able to eat cold or food that you can cook while there. Belmont Lake has fire pits that you can use for grilling, so if I wanted to I could have packed up some hamburgers or BBQ chicken and cooked them right there next to our blanket. But as I grill at home all the time I decided I wanted a meal that I could precook at home and then eat it cold at the park.

Chris and I arrived at the lake for lunch so I packed Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad for the main meal. Both these recipes are super easy and quick to make. And they both taste delicious when cold.

I modified the chicken recipe a little bit by adding a generous amount of Adobo to the chicken before marinating it in buttermilk overnight. The morning of the picnic I dredged the chicken in flour (with salt, pepper and basil added in) then egg yoke and then in the flour again. The recipe calls for vegetable shorting for frying but I used canola oil. I fried the chicken pieces for 5 minutes on each side and then baked them in the oven for 30 minutes so they could fully cook.

Buttermilk Fried ChickenFor the Bowtie Pasta Salad I followed the recipe to a tee–except that I used peas instead of edamame.

Bow Tie Pasta and ChickenFor desert I made Chris’ favorite–Derby Pie. Now carrying a whole pie to a picnic can be difficult, especially if you have a small bag, so I made Derby Pie Bars. If you ever want to makes these for a picnic or a party, feel free to make these a day or two a head of time. They have Bourbon or Whiskey in them and they taste better as they age! They transported easily in a small food storage container.

Derby Pie Bars

I also packed fresh fruit and a water jug with a couple of lemon slices in it to give an added lemony twist to the taste of the water. Some other good picnic food items that I didn’t bring this time around are sandwiches, cheese, chips and dip and wine.

Water Lemon Twist

STEP 3: PLAN AN ACTIVITY

The third key element of a good picnic is the activity. If the goal of your picnic is relaxation then you might want to bring a good book and a pillow for napping. If you are a bit more active, pack your meal in a backpack and go hiking. If you’re in the middle, a Frisbee or a baseball bat and ball provide hours of fun. Since Chris and I were at a lake, we rented a pedal boat and pedaled around the lake, watching the lake’s wildlife in their natural habitat. We also ate our desert in the boat before heading for shore and then home.

Chris and Marci Water
Swan 2I hope these tips help you plan the perfect summer picnic. I had a great time last weekend and it might be my favorite picnic outing to date! Does anybody else love picnics? What’s your favorite picnic memory? Let me know in the comments section below!

Celebrate Summer Knitting with Discount Books and Free Patterns

Summer is my favorite time of the year to knit! Most people think that us knitters only practice our craft in the winter when we can huddle by the fire under that big cuddly blanket we are knitting. But the fact is there is no better time to knit than in the summer. These days I take my needles with me everywhere–I’ve knitted in the park, the harbor and even at an outdoor concert. When I have a sunny, soft patch of grass and my needles there’s no need for me to be constantly checking my emails or feeding my Facebook addiction.┬áIt really allows me to slow down, relax and enjoy my surroundings.

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So, the folks over at Open Road Integrated Media want to aid and abed us knitters in our become one with our yarn and the summer sunshine. The ebook publisher is partnering with Abrams to release 8 popular knitting books as ebooks. Now you can take these great books on the road with you on your e-reader! This is definitely going to free up some space in my beach bag.

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And the best part? From July 3rd until July 10th they will be available from $4.99 and up!

Also check out the Open Road Blog–all week long they are going to be posting free patterns from two of the books plus recipes for cool sumer drinks and fun summer playlists.