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Jun 4 2013

Fair Food Fun

Girls Ice Cream

Imagine Fun Fair Food had zero calories and only benefited your health in every way. Which would you choose?

Elephant ears, funnel cakes, strawberry shortcakes. Dairy barn ice cream, blueberry ice cream, cotton candy piled to the sky on a twirly cardboard cone. Fried zucchini, fried snickers bars, fried cheesecake. French fries, deep fried curled potatoes, broasted potatoes. Barbecue turkey legs, corn dogs, pork tenderloin. Lemon Shake ups, on-tap root beer, or a diet soda if you really feel bad about all the other calories.

Fair Food. Fair food is so, so fun. Expensive, yes. Unhealthy, yes; but so, so good.

Our family loves to eat. Yes, with the health food revolution , we stand firmly by our cause. Fair junk food. Fair junk food heaven–Junk food paradise. Mind you, only once or twice a year. If we ate Fun Fair Food more than that, we’d be both broke and bloated, so we choose our Fun Fair Food binges carefully.

Before you speed dial Jamie Oliver or Michele Obama to tell on me, put the iPhone down and look me in the eyes when I talk junk food. Hear my heart. This is important. I’ll eat a carrot and a flax seed too, (whatever that is), when I am done writing this article. I promise.

Whether it’s the warm air mixed with the fair grime smell or some sort of fair magic, It draws you in…when you are at a summer fair, the smells, sights, blinking neon signs with promises of fun, happiness and elephant ears. The crowds, the people, the noise…and the food–it’s all a part of the fun.

Our family is mesmerized by the fair magic and we are drawn to the neon lights like hungry little caterpillars to that Hungry Little Caterpillar book. We love fair food. Over the years, we have grown in our love of fair food and our strategies to consume it in the most efficient way possible. I thought I’d share our strategies with you, in case you plan on being drawn in as well:

Divide and conquer

We go four ways. The older two girls get in line for their Walking Tacos and Corndogs with explicit instructions not to look at or engage any boy, man, or stranger in any conversation whatsoever between the time they leave us and return to us, this saves time and a lot of confusion with teenage girls.

Rob, my husband is in charge of buying 5 super duper extra large lemonades with all the gritty, sugary stuff at the bottom…He is also in charge a few more the main dinner item(s). A Philly cheesesteak sandwich, a barbecue turkey leg, and about 50 napkins to stuff into his cargo short pockets. Me and Belle, our youngest daughter-we are the fried food girls. We get the deep fried veggies with about five vats of ranch dipping sauce. And also about 50 more napkins.

Seriously Indulge

We text and call each other to find a designated meeting spot at picnic table or if it’s too crowded, we just plop down on the grass and dump all the food in front of us. And we seriously indulge. We take a few bites of whatever is in front of us, pass it on for the next person…unless you’re like me and you’re not really into sharing. We eat it all. Every bite. Some of the food ends up on clothes or spilled on the ground for the more than five second rule. We don’t fuss. It’s no big deal. It’s the fair!

After licking our fingers clean and wiping faces for fair presentability, we head to the rides.

Spin and Repeat

Velocity burns calories, right? Absolutely it does. So we figure if we ride the really fast, spinning rides, most of the calories will disappear. At least that’s what we’d like to believe.

For those of us with milder spinning ride dispositions, we wait by the exit and try to manage holding the 5 refillable lemonade super extra large plastic up things with the really cool long bendy straws, the hats, the purses, and all the random accumulated fair items.

After we’ve ridden the rides, we split up and hit the lines for dessert. The same process as dinner, split up, text, call, meet back up, share or not share, depending on your degree of dessert hoarding (my level would be really high again here).

But really, if I were to let you in on a secret, and I am sure you already know this. The Fair isn’t just about the food. It’s about the fun and the friends you see with their kids, doing the same thing as your family is doing. Enjoying the rides, being silly, eating mounds of cotton candy, laughing and having a great time.

The Fun Fair Food is a great bonding experience for our family, something we laugh about and strategize about together through the year. We keep our lemon shake up cups with the bendy straws and occasionally someone will say, “Remember when…” and that’s the whole point right there. Remembering, making memories and being together.

So next time you are at the fair, take our family’s word for it. Divide and conquer, Seriously indulge, Spin and repeat. Worry about what’s healthy the day after the fair. Eat all your veggies un-fried that day, eat a flax seed, whatever that is, and scrub the fair grime out of your kids’ clothes. Most importantly, have fun remembering all the joy your family experienced along the way.

 

This article appears in the June 2013 issue of Michiana Family magazine.

 


Mar 8 2012

Instagram Your Life

Some Easy Step By Step Instructions on How To Make Your iPhone Photos Fabulous

 

About a year ago, I came across an iPhone app that has changed the way I see the world around me completely. It’s called Instagram, and free, and it is awesome.    Instagram says of itself:

 

It is a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.  Snap a photo with your iPhone, choose a filter to transform the look and feel, send to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr- It’s all as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”

 

I am an avid user of social media, and I have never liked any of the photo sharing options available through any of those services. When I saw a few friends posting super creative photos from their lives, I thought I’d give Instagram a try.

 

There are currently 16 photo filters you can choose from on Instagram, and a few other tweaking options for making your photos creative, funky & fun.The possibilities you can come up with using these filters and options are endless. To make even more brilliant and fun photos, there are several iPhone photo editing apps I use to spruce up my photos, then load them to Instagram.

 

Our kids have iPod touches with cameras, so they can get in on the fun as well.  The other day we went to Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. We got some extraordinary pictures of the sand, ice and snow by the lake.  At one point, I saw a really neat ice formation and decided to take a few steps closer to the lake.  The waves were so beautiful and the ice and snow were so brilliant. My foot and knee went in the icy cold water at one point due to deceptively solid sand-ice. But did I get the picture? Yes!

 

While I was warming up in the van, Belle, our youngest daughter fell for the old “sandy ice” and her fuzzy pink boot went in the frozen water. The older girls had to rescue her boot while Rob returned her to the van with his glove on her bare foot.

 

We laughed and laughed, and had a great time together. We all got some fabulous pictures. Then we got some ice cream…because we weren’t cold enough already. While eating our ice cream, we shared the awesome photos we all captured and were amazed at each persons unique perspective of the same event.

 

Sometimes venturing out and doing something like this is all it takes to remember why we really love to be together, and what makes us family.

 

iPhoneography is an easy hobby to excel at, even our 8 year old has a private account on Instagram where she can share her photos with her sisters and a few close family friends.

 

Friends have asked me, “How do you get your photos to look so awesome?” I’m almost embarrassed to share, because it is really very simple.  I’ll let you in on my secrets here in ten easy steps:

 

  1. Get an iPod Touch, or iPhone, or iPad with a camera. (Word on the street is that Instagram will be available for android devices soon)
  2. Take some pictures. Keep it simple. Photograph your favorite things wherever you or whatever you’re doing.  You don’t need a fancy backdrop or perfect                   photography skills.  Just start taking pics.
  3. Download Instagram from the iTunes store with your device.  It’s FREE!
  4. Create an Instagram account.  This just means choosing a user name and password.  They ask you for your email address, but that is all the private information you will need to give. You can create a profile linking to your personal website and a few personal details, or just make up a completely fake name and identity if you want to remain anonymous.  Lots of people do.
  5. Click the camera icon that says“Share”.  Take a photo from the Instagram app, or load a photo from your device’s library.
  6. Add a filter or load the photo as-is.  After you load your photo you can add a caption such as “Most amazing beach day ever”. In the comments section, you can also add a #hashtag that puts your photo into a category.  For example, when I loaded these frozen beach pictures to Instagram, I used the hashtags #frozen #ice #beach #lakemichigan and #michmag (the #michmag hashtag is the special tag Family Magazine has created for you fabulous readers as you load photos you’d like to share with other readers!)
  7. Find some other followers! Instagram is more fun when you are viewing other’s pics, giving and receiving great comments from other users.  In the “Profile” section, there is an option to “Find Friends”. Click on this and all of your friends from Facebook, Twitter, or your email accounts that also use Instagram will automatically pop up.  Is that awesome or what?
  8. If you want to engage with others on Instagram, leave thoughtful comments for the people’s photos you like the best. I have been amazed at the positive, hopeful, kind, and encouraging words others have left for me. I am truly a better photographer because of these friends.
  9. Experiment with other iTunes apps for photography.  Once you get the hang of Instagram, do a search for other photography apps that allow you to edit your photos before you post them to Instagram. There are countless photography apps that help you crop, edit, correct, add filters, effects, etc.  My favorites right now are Snapspeed, Luminance, Pixlromatic, and Camera+.
  10. Have fun! Instagram just might change the way you see your world.

 

I no longer view my world as an endless landscape of corn fields with blue skies. I get excited when I see a fallen down barn. I plan my day ahead of time so I know where the shadows will fall the best at which time of day for a really cool photograph. My kids make fun of me when I pull to the side of the road to snap a pic of a field of freshly fallen snow, but when I Iook in the back seat of our mini van, there they are, snapping away at the same scenery with their iPod touches.

Instagram is such a fun and creative way to share the world around you with others. Have fun and I’ll see you there! My user name is MichelleWegner.  I can’t wait to see what you create with the world around you. Go ahead and Instagram your life!

This article appeared in the March 2012 edition of The Family Magazine of Michiana.