cabin life

What to Wear at the Cabin

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the upper Midwest has been taught from an early age one of the most important life skills… how to layer.

When I say layer I don’t mean how to make Grandma’s amazing three-layer cake or your cousin’s seven-layer dip. Here in cabin country, the only type of layering that’s important is the layering of apparel. Most of our layering happens in the winter where it can be a question of life and death. But, with cool evening temps, a bit of layering skill can come in handy even during the summer months. After scouring the internet, we came up with a few pieces we’d love to add to our own layered wardrobe.

The base layer should be a good tank. It can be worn over a swimsuit during the day when the sun is beating down on the lake or under another shirt when it starts to cool off.

The perfect cabin wardrobe should mainly consist of t-shirts, at least in our humble opinion. The funnier, the more appropriate the message, the better.

Flannel. Because whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, flannel is always in style “up north.” Especially these from L.L. Bean.

Whatever you wear by the bonfire will soak up the smell, even after a wash or two. May as well make it official.

For those evenings by the fire or cool mornings sipping coffee on the deck – why not a quilt? It’s even better if it’s upcycled from all of those flannel shirts you wore out over the years!

To top it all off, you need a hat. In the summer we like a baseball cap. Keeps the sun out of our eyes while we’re out on the boat and keeps any fly away hair sufficiently under wraps. Mostly.

There you have it, the perfect layered cabin wardrobe. What are we missing? What would you add to the list?

Lovin' the Summer Cabin!

It's almost here! Summer is breathing down our necks. The promise of lazy, sunshine-filled days lies just ahead. In a few short weeks the lake will be buzzing with the sound of pontoons and ski boats. Fish will be biting, birds will be singing, and we'll be in the middle of it all because we absolutely LOVE spending as much time as we can at the cabins during the summer.

Just for fun, we came up with a list of some of our favorite summer things:


On the deck. On the dock. On the boat. Basically, sitting anywhere because that means we're in "relax" mode.

Up North

Being "Up North," the air smells fresher, the trees seem taller, the sky seems bluer.

Making Memories...

with our friends and family. This time we get to spend with our loved ones is precious. Carving out a weekend or a week at the lake is sacred to us.

Milky Way

Some of our guests have told us they never realized the sky held so many stars until they caught a glimpse of the night sky at the cabins!


We have four pairs of eagles that nest on Big Blake Lake. We never get tired of watching them catch their breakfast right from the dock.


Spending time at the cabin to rest and relax recharges and restores us.

Cooking Out

Grill on the deck or patio and eat out in nature's dining room. The view is better than the one from your kitchen at home... we promise!

All the Activities

Boat, kayak, swim, fish, hike, bike... the list goes on and on. The kids can't be bored, we're not buying it, not at the lake with so many things to do.


Our treat after a fun-filled day on the water.

Ice Cream

We drive into town to BLICS for a Blixer or Banana Split. Or make our own with one of those handy dandy ice cream ball contraptions. Keeps the kids busy AND we all get a treat.


Breathe in and out. Let the scent of fresh pine calm the nerves that have been frazzled by the day job. Walk barefoot through the grass. Go jump in the lake. You deserve it!



Get Out The Games!

One of our favorite things to do at the cabin is pull out the board games. We can spend all afternoon and into the evening sitting around the table, trying to outplay each other. Depending on whether we’ve got kids, couples or families playing, we’ve got a list of favorites.

For the kids:

Sometimes it’s fun to play against each other and sometimes the kiddos do better if we’re playing as a team against the game. One of our favorite cooperative games for the little ones is Hoot Owl Hoot. It’s for two to four players ages four-and-up. The goal is to work as a team to get everyone’s owls back to the nest before the sun rises. The graphics are cute and the kids love “hooting” for the owls. Peaceable Kingdom has other cooperative games, too. We also love Race To the Treasure.

Spot-It is another family favorite and even the little ones can play. It comes in a round tin and is super easy to take on the go. There are several variations so you can change it up if the kids start to get bored. The goal is to match symbols on the cards. Usually the kids do better than the grown-ups on this one.

For the family:

If you’ve got a good sized group of six-to-eight people, it’s fun to test everyone’s artistic skills with Telestrations. It’s like playing “telephone” but with pictures. Each person has a card and has to draw a picture of what’s on their card. The next person has to write a guess and pass it on. The next person has to draw what the guess was. By the time the original tablet gets back to the person who started it, the group may have consistently guessed correctly or they may have veered completely off course.

Tapple is fast-paced fun. Someone draws a card with a category and then everyone takes turns trying to name something that starts with a different letter of the alphabet before the time runs out. The catch is, you can only use each letter once. We’ve been known to get rather creative with this one!

King Of Tokyo is a go-to family favorite. It took a few rounds for the kids to master it and they still fight over who gets to be the Meka Dragon, but we always have a good time.

I could go on and on. Can you tell we’re a big gaming family? Some of our other family favorites are Sushi Go, Headbandz, Wits & Wagers, Scrambled States, Blokus… and too many more to name!

For the more serious gamers:

We bought the game Ticket To Ride a few years ago and have really enjoyed it. The goal is to build your trains between your destination tickets before you run out or someone has the gall to block you. Bonus, the kids learn a bit about geography since they have to figure out where their destination tickets are.

Codenames is a new favorite we received as a gift. A clue giver tries to prompt his or her teammate(s) to guess their words on the board without choosing the code word. We became addicted to this one last summer and played over and over until the kids finally made the adults wrap it up and get dinner going!

Some of our other more challenging games are Seven Wonders, Settlers of Catan, & Pandemic.

We have plenty of games at the cabins if you forget to bring your own. Other ideas…

  • Pack a deck of cards and teach the kids how to play good old-fashioned solitaire with real cards.
  • Jot down a bunch of ideas on slips of paper and start an impromptu game of Charades.
  • Start up a round of Would You Rather.
  • Engage the kiddos in a few turns of 20 Questions.
  • Pick a puzzle and try to finish it up before vacation ends.

What are some of your family’s favorite games? Have you played any of the ones on our list?

A Cabin Craving

One benefit to owning a VRBO type vacation home is that we get to take advantage of it ourselves from time to time. A couple of weeks ago we spent a long weekend as a family. I wish we could get there more often but work, kid activities, family obligations and all of the various other commitments prevent us from visiting as much as we’d like. This past weekend I was missing the cabin and figured the kind of comfort food I love to indulge in while we’re there would provide a quick fix.

So I pulled out the crockpot and whipped up some homemade ham and bean soup. It’s so easy to throw together and smells so good while it simmers all day. I don’t really use a recipe, it changes each time depending on what I’ve got on hand, but here’s a rough draft in case you want to give it a try…

I start with a leftover ham bone, preferably one with some meat still attached. Toss it in your crockpot and add as much water as you can fit. If you’re feeling extremely ambitious, go ahead and toss in some chopped up celery or onion. Or do like I did and just throw the top on. Set it to low and let it cook overnight. Your whole house will smell good while you’re sleeping, and you’ll probably dream of pork chops or bacon.

In the morning, strain the broth then add it back to the crockpot. Add a chopped onion or two, a few cups of pre-soaked beans and a handful of chopped carrots. Get creative with what you have on hand. Corn, celery, diced tomatoes… anything goes. Sometimes I sautee my onion, carrots and garlic in a little olive oil before I add it. When I’m in a hurry, I don’t.

Assuming you had a ham bone, you probably have some leftover ham. I cube a few cups and toss those in and add a twist or two of fresh ground salt and pepper. Maybe even a bay leaf or two. You can go nuts on the spices or keep it simple. Again, no rules, no pressure.

Now sit back, read a book on the couch, snuggle under the covers and watch a movie, or get out and about and do something fun with the family for the day. The beauty of slow cooking is that when you’re ready to eat, your homemade ham bone soup will be ready for you.

One last piece of advice… make sure you make a lot. This is one that freezes well and if you serve it with some warm cornbread even the kids may come back for seconds.

So there you have it… comfort food to get us through the last few weeks of winter. What’s your go-to slow cooker meal? I’d love to hear from you so I can add to my recipe book!

A Winter Weekend at the Cabin...

“Shhhh! Do you hear that?” I asked.

My three children paused their whining, squabbling and pestering for a blissful second.

“What?” one of them asked.

“The quiet. Do you hear the quiet?”

Then the teenager put her headphones back on, the youngest one made a fart joke and the middle one rolled her eyes. That’s how our weekend at Cabin On Blake Too began.

But a funny thing happened over the next forty-eight hours. The headphones got stuffed into a backpack, the eye rolls took a break and the fart jokes, well, the fart jokes didn’t change. He’s eight, come on!

As we snuggled on the couch, drank hot chocolate with marshmallows AND chocolate syrup and broke out some of the games the kids received for Christmas, we joked, laughed, and made some authentic family memories. We thought we’d get out and explore the parks and recreation opportunities around the area or at least check out some of the cute shops or restaurants or wineries.

But the kids loved walking out on the frozen lake and peering into the holes in the ice we’d watched a guy drill that morning. They enjoyed finding tracks in the snow and trying to figure out which animal had visited the night before. They invented silly games and pulled out the army men and spent hours keeping each other amused, giving hubby and me some much needed peace and relative quiet. So we stayed in and spent the weekend snug and warm in our jammies. Because, hey, we could!

Sadly, it seemed like just when we started to relax and really enjoy ourselves it was time to pack up and head home. So our family learned two major things from our time spent on Big Blake Lake this past weekend.

Number one… we need to take time out of our busy schedules, sports practices, gymnastics classes, meetings, ski club, work, etc. to reconnect. We’re worth it, our family is worth it, and we need to just carve out the time and make it happen.

Number two… next time we’ll book at least one more day!

Thanks Caarin and Joe for sharing your little slice of paradise with those of us who don’t yet have our own! 

Spend Time Making Memories.

Cabins on Blake is a place where memories are made!