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On a mild Friday, after cooking nothing but ho-hum dishes for a week, I decided I wanted to splurge. Something I’d been craving for a while was chowder. I wanted something easy, the usual seafood chowder recipes I see have a ridiculous amount of ingredients and requirements, but I didn’t want just plain clam chowder either. So I tweaked a recipe and came up with an easier version.

Semi Seafood Chowder

Simple. Delicious. Simply delicious.

This is all it takes:

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The recipe I created is a variation of the one that can be found here. Specifically, my ingredients are:

3 (6.5 oz) minced clams
1/2 lb halibut, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 lb bay scallops
1 onion
2 potatoes
1-2 celery stalks
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste.

Wash and chop veggies. I chose to leave my potato skins on.

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In a deep skillet, add veggies and juice from the clams.

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Cover with water and cook on medium to medium high heat.

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As veggies just begin to get tender, add the chunks of halibut. Continue to cook on medium to medium high heat until veggies and halibut are tender.

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As the skillet portion cooks, melt butter over medium heat in a large heavy saucepan. Whisk in flour.

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Add half-and-half slowly, whisking constantly until thick and smooth.

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Add the contents of the skillet to the cream mixture. Reduce heat slightly to heat the chowder thoroughly without boiling. Add bay scallops.

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Continue to heat over medium low heat for 20 minutes, until chowder is heated through and bay scallops are cooked but tender. In the last minute or so before serving, stir in clams, vinegar, salt and pepper.

I served this up with a nice asiago cheese loaf from our local grocery store. If my husband would have given me the chance to take a picture of his pretty bowl of chowder before starting to wolf it down, you would get a better picture of the finished product. Instead, you’ll have to settle with my to-go container at work. Have fun cooking y’all!

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I love my family.

I would like to think I could lose everything in life and I would still be fine if I had them, but the truth is they would never let that happen.

Unless I become a drugged up thief who makes every attempt to ruin their lives, they would always help me. Even then they would just throw me on Intervention.

We are the middle to lower half of middle class. We all have jobs, even if they don’t pay much – we all have roofs over our heads, some we own and some we don’t – and we all have food on our plates and clothes on our back, even if we could barely afford it.

My parents, though, always manage to save enough to spoil us. Not rotten, but more than deserved. Even if it makes their wallets a little tight for a couple of paychecks to pay it back, the memories made and the looks on our kids faces keep telling them it is worth it.

These spoils can be a trip to “the big city”, the zoo, out to lunch, or bigger things like this last weekend:

The Great Wolf Lodge

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We really are spoiled.

For those of you who have never been to or heard of GWL, it is a hotel/indoor waterpark that provides a variety of activities from magic quests to arcades, dance parties, and much, MUCH more.

It’s a child’s paradise.

We had taken my daughter before (see, again with my parents!), but at the time she was only about 8 months old and the trip was more for my niece. This was Ev’s first cognizant trip to GWL.

And what a trip it was!

There’s plenty I can tell you, but I’ll do a brief over.

After a traffic filled drive, a wonderful Mexican dinner, and fighting for parking, I got to see my tiny daughters reaction to this giant, enchanted wonderland as seen through a 2 year olds eyes.

Firstly, as you walk in, there are large fake trees everywhere. Right in the middle of the lobby is a rather large landscape of anamotronic trees and animals and a staircase with a bridge walkway on the second floor. These block the large wall of windows that shows the waterpark complete with a baby/toddler area, 2 medium slides built into a fort with numerous water gadgets, a wave pool, a swimming pool, 2 larger slides and 2 slides that really should be for adults only, regardless of the 5 year olds that went down right before me.

Seeing all of the whimsy made Ev pick up to a run. Then as we got closer she saw the pool. Her face froze in an overwhelming glaze and she started calling “How ’bout this one?!”

She was so excited.

Within the first night she had the baby pool mastered. She would easily circle from stairs to slide over and over.

The only way to get her out was by promising her more tomorrow and to take her on the magic quest.

Two pink wands and a quest subscription bill later, we hit the halls to “zap” stuff.

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Did I mention over half of the kids are in their pajamas at this point?

Roaming the halls, usually absurdly unattended and ill mannered, in various pj’s. My tiny tot had to do the same!

So here we are roaming the halls waving at different animals, treasure boxes, pictures, and stars – making things open, twinkle, wiggle or shout. She really thought she was Harry Potter.

Such an amazing thing to imagine. You get older, even by a few years, you start to notice that there are other kids around doing the same thing, and it loses magic. Then a little older and you notice other kids making the same objects do the same thing and it loses a little more. Eventually it just becomes a game, but I got the privilege of witnessing my daughter have the FULL magic. The pure wonder of it!

The next morning we hopped right in the pool, and by the end of the day she had graduated to the slides meant for kids significantly older than she is. We had also done more “zapping”:

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Alakazam!

Some minigolf, some dinner, some slides and some exploring. It was a long fantastic day!

Also, since we had been there a few times before, we hit some kind of frequent flyer program. Not only did we have gold bracelets that made everyone treat us seemingly nicer than average, but they left us a bottle of sparkling cider and a paw shaped cookie with a “welcome back” message. It was pretty special!

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Here are a few others from our trip:

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We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.


I took a little break from posting. I originally had a goal of a post a day to show all the productive and amazing things I do with or for my family – but I realized that by trying to do so much, then edit so much, then write so much, it was doing the opposite of what I was trying to do. Rather than documenting my family awesome-ness, I started missing out on my family (and my sleep).

So I’m now going to post at least once a week, but I’m not going to stress it. Instead, I’m going to get out, and do more things like this!

Family Day Trip: Independence Lake

You’ve probably never heard of it, even if you’re from here, but my avid hiker of a husband gave us the suggestion of Independence Lake for our mid-August day trip. And here it is in all of its unedited glory!

It is BEAUTIFUL. The blues and greens of the water set undisturbed with a backdrop of perfect, Northwestern scenery – mountains and trees as far as the eye could see.

Located just outside Verlot, WA, Independence Lake is set back a few miles up a gravel road, just past the Ice Caves.

The small roads trip gives amazing views of the mountains above you and the valleys below.

Hikers, campers, and day trippers wind their way carefully through the narrow road to their destinations along the way – Independence is the last stop available. At the end of the drive, the road ends in a slightly wider, almost cul-de-sac formed area.

You park on the side of the road and make your way to a not-well-marked (bet well-tended) path.

The hike is not the easiest, but it is relatively short. It is about 8/10ths of a mile with roots and rocks to concur, and a few steep inclines – but without having any true exercise in a year and lung troubles I did just fine. My 2-year-old did a good chunk of it on her own too, but I have a feeling she’ll be more athletic than her father and I combined.

The path may be rough at times, but the gorgeous surroundings are plenty to distract you. Brilliant trees, downed logs, and creeks to cross really bring the essence of Washington.

With every trip there are pros and cons. The cons to this trip, aside from no one with a plastic hip or pace maker trying the trek, is that it’s almost a wetland.

My husband didn’t really listen to me when I said I wanted to go “for a day hike and picnic”. To everyone else, that would mean a place to sit and eat, right?

Independence is practically a wetland. There are some camping spots on higher ground that’s dry, however the vegetation is so high that time of year, you wouldn’t be able to see the lake from where you sat down.

The ground is squishy, but solid. Though you can’t lay a blanket or a towel down to relax and read a book, it’s not bad enough that your boots get stuck while you walk. Everything is solid, just… wet.

There are plenty of downed logs that offer rest, though. Even with our two-year old it wasn’t too bad, and alone or just a few friends it’s really a non-issue.

The other con is the fly population. The little ones I don’t mind, but the Jeff Goldbloom sized monsters that basically look like hairy grey bees are where I almost threw in the towel. I had already said, “I won’t do this!” when right after a cooling and gentle breeze started.

As soon as that breeze hit, all the scary flies were gone. Some of the little ones still remained here and there, but the day was fantastic after that!

The lake is interesting. Rather than a rock or sand floor, the lake consists of 90% fallen trees and bark.

The water is glacier water, so it was cold, but we still kicked off our shoes and waded in the lake. Despite how it looks, the lake floor is soft to the feet with only the occasional hard new stick to manuever around.

There is also fishing to be had! My husband brought up his pole and, of course, my daughter had to assist.

After a few hours of lunch, fishing and exploring, we packed our day up and made the hike back. The hike out was close to equally rough as the hike in, maybe  little better, but check out the view:

The whole trip was worth it. The exercise got me back on the horse when it comes to hiking, the day gave my daughter something new to try, and the pictures are amazing!

Now it was time to drive through the relaxing forest lined country roads to the highway home. Thanks for reading!