I made the gluten free Rice Krispies Treats and my friend and fellow blogger, Katja, made her own souped up version. Read more about what we made and view pictures here. I also wrote what happened when I brought them to the potluck.
Since Marines don't always get to use their leave (vacation days), instead of taking a vacation this year, I visited family on three separate weekends in June, July, and August:
FAMILY REUNION: Met my friend and former teaching colleague from CA, Yolanda, in Chicago and bussed over to Wisconsin, since my Devil Dog couldn't come. Since she's a different race, there were some quizzical looks at the family reunion! It was fun, though. They had a laptop opened to ancestry websites and old photo books out. We sampled my uncle's rhubarb and raspberry wines, held my cousin's new baby, watched the tweenagers whack a pinata, and ate. I brought along gluten-free crackers. My aunt made me a gluten free jello and cream cheese salad that I didn't love, but I was glad to have salad (the Kraft dressing marked gluten free were out on the table), Chee-tos, chips and salsa, fruit, and wine. I did feel envy as others dug into the Scandinavian desserts and ubiquitous pumpernickel bread spread with cream cheese and sliced olives. More wine.
We listened to my 102 year old great-grandfather tell stories about everyone, and my college girl distant cousin show and tell about her fabulous trip to Switzerland where she met and stayed with family members she'd never met before. The only thing missing was the Alp Horn. Not there this year. I did end up crying at the end because I felt so sad seeing my grandfather's dad and 5 siblings all there, but not him since he died 20 years ago due to cancer. He was the only one who never quit smoking. And my grandmother's four siblings are also all alive. Gram died of lung cancer at 66 because she's the only one who smoked for 50 years. I just feel robbed. And it really hurts that my brother and his wife smoke, despite having four kids. She even smoked through her pregnancies. And she calls herself Supermom.
Wedding: My magnanimous Jarhead ended up volunteering to do security at the park's reception site, therefore missing my youngest brother's wedding. Then at the reception we ended up clearing tables and doing dishes(it was a budget wedding of 160-180 people for under 10k). So we spent $1000 flying in and barely got to see each other, much less get to show him Chicago for his first time ever or spend time with my nieces and nephews who begged me not to go home to Georgia.
I'm glad I was able to support my brother, but after having been maid of honor for my friend last October, I'm done being in weddings. The first night was the long-lasting, disorganized rehearsal and dinner of dim sum, which was entirely soy sauce and noodle-laden gluten that I got to watch everyone devour then order a salad back at the hotel. I was in the wedding and we had a tea ceremony and took pics from 11-3 and the wedding finally began at 4. It was hot as balls so the groomsman was mopping my back with tissue...ew. My honey wasn't in it so he helped set up the hall all day. And the bride was so nervous or who knows, that there was tension in the air the entire day. I think it was since they used sheet cakes from a bulk store to feed the guests, she'd insisted on making a 2 layer fondant-covered decorative cake for the cutting ceremony. We had told her not to put that kind of work/pressure on herself... Then my brother insisted that my mom and dad (who've been divorced for 31 years) walk down the aisle together in the processional. Which was Weird with a capital W. Props to them for doing whatever my brother wanted. My stepdad (of 25 years) walked down with my niece. But, the ceremony was sentimental. The highlight was when the bride read her vows from her iphone. haha.
The other great part was that my estranged father and I were cordial and he didn't humiliate me and draw attention and cry and act like an attention getter, like he had at my other brother's wedding ten years ago. What a pleasant surprise/relief. He'd just been dumped by his girlfriend (my former babysitter from childhood-yes, he's hillbilly), so he was humbled.
Wedding grub: I ate chicken and rice and salad at the wedding. I had meant to bring a cupcake, but it was too hot to not melt.
Anyway, weddings aren't my fave, if you hadn't postulated. (Perhaps because this isn't the first wedding where I was on the clean-up crew.) When I was married in my 20's (believe me, I tried to elope) , I planned everything to a tee, there was a little help by family to decorate with tulle, but no rehearsal or rehearsal dinner so that they could enjoy the beach and California on their own. They drove to the beach for the wedding, had fun, and left. In fact, someone told me how great my wedding was at this wedding!
CAMPING: Hillbilly side of family. Aside from the rain and cloudiness, at least it was cool -72 degrees and not very buggy in Wisconsin. My family members all smoke, except my brother and his new wife who quit years ago. There was much farting and talk of it, mooning each other, beanbag tossing games, and fishing. The highlights for me were the pontoon boat and the fire-roasted food and s'mores with Smoreables from SuperTarget that I brought, along with hearing stories about my extended family and spending time with my nieces and nephews.
I did have a hard time dodging cross-contamination from people- my brother eating his crumbling smore above me while I was sitting in a lawn chair, my sister in law touching all the marshmallows with her gluteny graham cracker hands as well as scraping the metal marshmallow sticks with the crackers to get the mallows off for the kids, contaminating the sticks.
I used lots of moist sanitizing wipes for my utensils. I dodged anything cooked on the dirty gas grill. My brother and sis in law called the night before my flight to see what they could bring for me, which was kind of them: fruit and marshmallows and a pillow. I had the ultimate camping gear packed in a backpack as tall as me by my Marine. The best thing was the 2 inch thick-inflatable by only a couple breaths -air mattress that rolls so small but feels so good! My aunt-in-law kept insisting that I eat veggies she cooked on the grill in a tinfoil pan thing, so I asked and she said spices and oil, but when I tasted it there was definitely butter- and you know what happens when there's butter- it could be contaminated with crumbs, etc. But, I didn't get sick, so hopefully it didn't harm me. ugh. Serendipity allowed me to eat the spicy and delicious hot bratwurst that my brother brought, as it was labeled gluten free on the package!
On the four hour drive, we ate at Wendy's and I had a Lara bar and fries at Mc Donald's.
Anyway, it was a fun summer, but I'm glad to be home with my Honey!