A Badger and a Cheesehead Walk into a Supper Club…

Chad and I recently enjoyed a vacation in Wisconsin. We boarded the S.S. Badger in Ludington, MI and traveled across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, WI. The four hour voyage includes activities for the whole family: Games, food, movies, children’s activities, cocktails for the adults, etc. Passengers can sit below deck, walk laps around the ship, or enjoy a lounge chair on the front deck. The cost (including a vehicle) is comparable to fuel prices for travelers driving around the lake. The trip provides a memorable adventure, though Chad thinks this counts as a cruise (I disagree).

Our first stop was Milwaukee, specifically the Harley Davidson Museum. Visitors can experience riding a new Harley (even without a license).

The museum offered insight into the humble beginnings of this company, the strategic planning to survive the Great Depression, their role in WWII, motorcycles in the movies, something for everyone!

We enjoyed a wine tasting and purchased some smoked whitefish at the Milwaukee Public Market.

Later, we had time to visit the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Museum in Oshkosh. Founded by Paul Poberezny in the 1950s, the museum is a tribute to the air craft “gear heads,” passionate home builders and restorers. This site also hosts a spectacular air show each July.

The Curtiss “Jenny,” America’s first mass produced aircraft, this one was found in an old barn.

The EAA Museum also has quite the collection of WWII airplane art.

My favorite location was Port Washington! This quiet port city offers local wine, an amazing smoked fish house, lovely shops, and miles of beautiful lakeside trails.

A fun bike shop for fans of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Near the end of our trip, I had the opportunity to sing at the local Supper Club.

For those in the Midwest, Wisconsin has many lovely destinations, worthy of a long, weekend road trip.

Thanks for reading!

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Family, Church, and Local Community College

During my first year of college, Dr. John Willson’s history class mapped a substantial portion of America’s history through study of “Family, Church, and Local Community.” Expanding on Dr. Willson’s famous phrase, I observed a connection to education. Last fall, I accepted a part-time position as afternoon secretary at Kellogg Community College’s Fehsenfeld Center. To be completely honest, I questioned whether I should instead pursue a full time teaching position. However, I recognized something special here.

I first began working at the Fehsenfeld Center in the fall of 1996, teaching Transitional English and serving as a paraprofessional. Teaching at this level improved my understanding of the writing process. If students could master a quality paragraph, they could readily transition to the college essay. This experience served me well when later teaching Freshman Composition. I also met fellow instructors; many were members of the local community: Lawyers, high school teachers, business and community leaders, etc. They offered a unique combination of education paired with real world experience.

The Fehsenfeld Center also brings in a lively group of local students who, year after year, often form a learning community. Many become friends, form study groups, and succeed together. As an Adjunct Instructor for the past two decades, I was already part of this process; however, I wanted more. My brother once shared that secretaries are the sergeants of an institution; without their leadership, facilities could not function effectively. In addition to time in the classroom, I discovered that assisting students in the office often increased the classroom connection. I enjoy hearing about their current semesters and future plans, providing assistance if they are feeling frustrated and need a small nudge, perhaps a starting point for an assignment, someone to help brainstorm summer options, or just an ear to listen.

The Fehsenfeld Center offers a unique learning experience for the residents of Barry County:

• Want to complete core classes close to home and transfer to a four year institution? Did you know that 4 out of 10 students who earn a four year degree begin at their local community college? (insidehighered.com)

• Want to pursue a class or two at an affordable price and see if college is the next step?

• Interested in learning a trade? Come learn about our welding and manufacturing programs.

• Want to explore special interest classes? Perhaps you might enjoy Pastor Anton’s Life Long Learning Class, The Bible: A Closer Look.

• Want to earn an associate’s degree and take on the world?

Come see me in the office!

Thanks for reading!

How to Cope with Depression

Why are so many throwing it all away? I hope my story helps those out there who have walked the same road. I have suffered from depression from 1998: The combination of a traumatic delivery, my parent’s divorce, the national scandal, and my eccentricities created a perfect storm that needed to be dealt with. Over the years, I developed a collection of tools to help me cope. If you suffer from depression, I hope you find a few useful tips:

1. Get some exercise: It doesn’t have to be daily, and it doesn’t have to be sweaty or excessive. Go for a 20 minute walk, choose 3-6 sets and lift light weights for 10-15 minutes, whatever helps you move around a bit. Trust me, it makes a huge difference!

2. Find someone to talk with: Whether you rely on friends or a professional counselor, find someone to share those many moments of self-doubt and grief.

3. Eat healthy meals: Do you include a fruit or vegetable with every meal? If not, start now! Are you limiting foods that make you feel low? Are you including foods that bring you up?

4. Limit alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and will just expand those feelings of hopelessness and grief. I know the first drink or two has the opposite effect, but trust me, limiting alcohol is a positive!

5. Embrace your passions: Do you have an activity that brings joy? Then do it! I love my music! Singing at our local Commission on Aging and performing with my local Irish girls’ band helps me forget the darker times and focus on more positive things.

6. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones: Spend the majority of your time with those who want what’s best for you. Of course, we should make time for our family. However, occasionally we have to spend time with family or family friends who are not kind; you do NOT have to devote excessive time to those who enjoy your discomfort. You have the right to head home early or pass on a get together.

7. Read The Untethered Soul: Do you have a frequent negative monologue? Read this book and learn how to cope with your “Watcher at the Gate.”

8. Have you thought about ending it all? First, take a deep breath. You have options and you are not alone. I strongly encourage you to reach out to someone and just talk, talk about what ever is on your mind, the last day’s adventures, your favorite meal. If you are not ready for that step, have you tried the steps listed above? You owe it to yourself to try. You are worth it!

Be kind to each other!

Kilkenny Corkers in Concert

This past weekend, Kilkenny Corkers opened for the Irish band, One for the Foxes. Thank you to the audience members who shared video clips. Below is a montage, something from Paula, Maggie, and Colleen.

Found this YouTube video from One for the Foxes:

Live performances provide a glimpse into the “heart and soul” of music, difficult to capture in studio recording. I hope you have time to relax at an outdoor concert this summer and support this craft.

Best of luck, One for the Foxes, on your summer tour!!!

Thanks for reading!

Farm Markets, Nettles, and the Start of Summer

This past weekend was the annual nettle harvest, and Chad made a batch of nettle and asparagus soup (a favorite of Chad’s homemade soups, perfect with crusty bread, and a dish the vegan will eat). I’m excited to begin the Farm Market Season. This weekend, Cairn Hill Farms will have a stand at these markets:

  • 5/25 Middleville (8-1)
  • 5/26 Hastings (9-1)

We offer the following products:

    • Beeswax Lip Balms: A blend of coconut oil, avocado oil, beeswax, and vitamin E
    • Sprays: Enjoy as a room spray or facial toner
    • Essential Oil Blends: Add to a favorite lotion, make a spray, or use for aromatherapy
    • Salt Scrub: Treat your feet with this lovely new product!
    • Farm Fresh Eggs, Veggies, and Nettle Iced Tea

Can’t make it to the market or want a custom blend? Please message me cairnhillfarms.net

Orders can be shipped.

Nettle and Asparagus Soup

Below is Cairn Hill Farms Summer 2018 Newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Saying Goodbye…

Here we are on the last day of April, and this month’s post remains incomplete. I planned to share pictures of our baby goat. However, I either recorded the dates incorrectly in my calendar, or that goat ain’t pregnant! I can always count on humorous chaos from the goats. It was appreciated this weekend.

Once or twice per year, I like to include an earlier, memorable post. After the loss of someone special over the weekend, I knew which post to share! Reflecting over the past few days, I encourage you to take time to connect with loved ones. Have time for a visit? Stop by! Too far to travel? Send a note or call! I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend with Donna last summer, and while difficult this past weekend, I’m grateful that her son held the phone to her ear, so I could say a few last words. Has someone special been on your mind? Today is the perfect day to get in touch!

RIP, Donna

Seeing America: The Long Weekend Road Trip

Originally published, July 6, 2017

By Maggie Murphy

The summer remains a busy time around here with gardening, the farmers’ market, summer classes at the college, and the upcoming county fair. However, Chad and I recently found time to enjoy a long weekend in Tennessee. The primary reason for the trip was to visit an old friend, Donna. Growing up, the demands of my parents’ work kept them from home for months each year. Donna worked for my parents for over 25 years. She was there to greet me most mornings, often provided rides to Fowler’s farm where I boarded Goldy, was there for many overnights when Mom and Dad were fundraising for the college, and was always a phone call away for any of us kids.

Donna commanded respect. She was one of the few people who would tell Dad if she disapproved of his actions regarding the kids, and he would even seek her advice during our difficult teen years. Donna also never hesitated to put us kids or our friends in our place. When she used my first and middle name, I was in trouble!

We had time for several visits with her and dined at her son’s restaurant in Knoxville. We even arrived in time to watch the prep work for the smoker. Chad particularly enjoyed trading poultry smoking tips with Donna’s son, Randy. On a later visit, there was time for an impromptu concert for Donna and the other residents at the senior living center (Strumsticks are perfect for road trips!).

We stayed in a lovely one bedroom cabin, just a stone’s throw from Marble Springs, the home of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. We found time to hike the grounds and view the log cabins on the property. Our cabin also had a covered front porch with rocking chairs, perfect for sipping morning coffee, reading, and even playing music.

On our last day, we headed south to the Great Smoky Mountains and hiked Middle Prong trail and drove Rich Mountain seasonal road near Cade’s Cove. The long weekend went so quickly! I look forward to returning someday for more hiking, fishing, swimming, good eats, and perhaps even some white water rafting.

(The Sinks-A swimming hole near Townsend)

Thanks for reading!

(Traveling to Knoxville? Check out Mario’s Pizza and Grill-10943 Kingston Pike)

Move over Fondue: Introducing the Raclette Grill

We finally had the opportunity to try out a new foodie toy: The Raclette Grill. Historically, the Raclette referred to a block of hard cheese shepherds packed for long treks with their flocks. At the nightly camp fire, they would heat one side of the block and scrape softened cheese on their bread.

While this is one tasty aspect of the modern Raclette, many more food choices are available. This is similar to fondue, but rather than using pots of heated oil, people gather round a grill. Adding a light coating of oil and a dash of salt on the grill surface, diners enjoy a healthier option, avoiding the vast quantities of oil required for fondue. The Raclette also offers a broiler section with individual pans, so diners can utilize two cooking areas at the same time.

The broiler section is best for melting cheese, poured over potatoes or baguette slices. We also broiled pear slices with some dark chocolate and later topped with whipped cream.

Other items we enjoyed included steak, shrimp, oysters, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash. Items can be grilled individually or on skewers. There were even enough choices to keep our resident vegan busy!

Finally, Raclette Grills are affordable, ranging in price from $50-250 (Based on size and extra features, such as a marble cooking top). I highly recommend gathering around the table with friends or family and trying this wonderful tradition!

Thanks for reading!