Long weekends made easy

As people with cabins know, this coming weekend is busy in lake country. School is out. Families head to the lake for extended periods of time. Plus, there are lots of overnight guests.
Even though my husband and I live at the lake full time now, our place still takes on the flavour of a cottage. It doesn’t have a dishwasher, computer games, or a television, so we need creative ways to entertain.
This past weekend, for example, a useful idea popped into my head just as I was about to set a table for a dinner party. I decided to use little paper plates!
In fact, I didn’t even set the table. No … instead I plopped one large platter between guests as they sat on the deck, and occasionally I replenished the platter with something new.
First there was rice rolled vegetables, then garnished potato skins and stuffed mushrooms followed by barbecued kabobs with buttery garlic buns. The finale was rich chocolate cake.
The kabobs were the easiest to make. The steak pieces were smothered in olive oil and Montreal steak spice, and the vegetables just had oil, salt and pepper. The sizzle of a barbecue makes everything taste great.
And for drinks? I only passed one to each person, and I made sure it was fruity. The colourful glasses set a festive mood. After that, everyone helped themselves to drinks from a large bucket filled with ice. Really, what host in bare feet sitting back on a sunny deck desires to get up?
It’s all about attitude. And in my opinion, there’s no better party than a casual one. It’s fun.
By the time our guests boated away that night, I only had one feathery load to carry to the fire pit, and a tickling of silly quips to remember for a life time. That’s what summer at the lake is all about.
The same easy approach will carry on this long weekend.
One lunch will be a make-your-own-sandwich spread and the other will be a barbequed pizza.
In the late evening, we’ll wrap cheesy bacon bannock around the end of a stick to roast over an open fire. Or, we’ll roast hollowed peppers, dampen-husked corn on the cob, and hot dogs.
For dessert, we’ll probably stuff bananas with chocolate and marshmallows. Wrapped in tin foil they heat up thick and gooey at the side of the flames.
Breakfast indoors will be easy, too. We have a “help yourself shelf,” so my husband and I don’t feel pressured to be the first ones up. I keep a tin of muffins there, along with pancake mix, syrup, cereal and coffee. And when breakfast is over, we have ways to keep young families occupied outdoors for hours.
One such idea is the scavenger hunt. Ours starts with instructions to head down the trail behind the outhouse to the closest “deer rub.” Near there we hide a baggy with instructions inside about how to find the next secret spot, which happens to be an old fox hole.
The scavenger hunt can be a race, or it can simply be a way to take more notice of different natural points of interest.
Sometimes with kids we also play hide and seek on a nearby island. We make two teams, and people wear camouflage. With all the trees and rock crevices to hide in it’s actually a lot of fun.
All my ideas for entertaining this time of year are about keeping things simple. I don’t think anyone minds my relaxed attitude. After all, a fussy host doesn’t fit the tone of the season.
I hope you, too, find time for fun this summer. Maybe start this weekend, and make it a habit now that summer is officially here.

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