Picture this: you’re entertaining on your patio on a perfect summer evening. You’re calm as a cucumber, the food’s delicious, and the table looks simply delightful.
You just smiled, didn’t you? For most of us, those nights are precious and few.
So precious in fact, that too many of us get intimidated about hosting a gathering of family or friends. But it doesn’t need to be stressful. Follow a few simple guidelines, and you’ll easily set the stage for a perfect entertaining performance.
To pull off the beautiful, delicious party everyone remembers, keep it simple. My sister-in-law once gave me perfect advice: a great dinner party needs five items. Ideally, one item you would make with your guests during the party (think—seasoning, shaping and grilling the hamburger patties). Two items would be prepared ahead (could be a salad and an assortment of burger toppings), and easily finished at the last minute. The last two items are purchased from the store, and are basically ready-to-serve (maybe you’d rather buy a potato salad, and serve ice cream for dessert). Five items add a nice variety but maintain the simplicity. Guests feel pampered and yet the host or hostess isn’t stressed.
But beyond the food, it’s time to set the table and plan the serving dishes. This is the fun part. Think memorable. Whimsical. Delightful. When we’re setting our serving table, we want it to be captivating. So bright, fresh, and full of careful details, our table speaks for itself and tells family and guests they’re being pampered, and in for a wonderful evening.
At NEST, our favorite go-to serving dishes come from Nora Fleming. These dishes can’t help but bring a smile with their unexpected detail, fully of whimsy and fun. Switchable themed charms – stars & stripes, football helmets, flowers, birds, snowmen, evergreen tree, or so many more choices –grace the edge or corner of a Nora Fleming serving piece. The charms can be switched, turning a 4th of July Chip n’ Dip, into a Christmas cheese array with crackers. Simply pull out the charm, and replace it with another as you change events from summer parties to holiday festivities. Nest literally stocks dozens of options for these collectible charms.
The charm is the memorable detail, but the versatility of Nora’s pieces can’t be over-stated. Most of the serving pieces or décor items are ceramic, and could even be chilled ahead of time to help keep cold foods cold. But a few of the key serving items are melamine—break resistant and lightweight – and ideal for carrying out to the pontoon if the patio party moves to the lake.
From its very beginnings, Nora Fleming’s distinct tableware is the result of love & family. Created as a family business, Nora’s own words describe it as, “the harmonizing of a brother and sister’s distinct skill sets to achieve one goal – to bring joy to every table and every event.” Nora Fleming serving dishes and home accessories aim for happiness, smiles, and unforgettable memories with just a little bit of magic in their design.
Nora’s Keepsake Boxes are the perfect gift for anyone with a Nora serving or décor piece. Fill it with charms, and it’s like an invitation to future parties. Birthday parties. Baby and Bridal showers. Halloween treats. Holiday gatherings. All events sure to keep making you smile.
We hope you fill your summer with all kinds of wonderful gatherings of family and friends. Cheers to a fabulous summer!
I think we get nicer as we age. Oh, there’s definitely a few grumpy old souls that can prove me wrong on that statement, but for most people I think our joy shifts as we age. We care less about our own comfort, and care more about the satisfaction and joy of others. Maybe, just maybe, that’s why it’s so much fun to take a kid fishing.
Before he retired, Bob Allen competed on the Professional Walleye Circuit traveling all across the Midwest. Fortunately, retirement didn’t stick for Bob. His next venture led him to write books on fishing geared toward young kids, and the fishing world can be ever grateful.
Fishing has remained a constant passion in Bob Allen’s life. He caught his first fish as a young child, and capped his career touring as a professional. Before retiring, Allen also worked as fishing mentor. It’s this mentoring that Bob especially excels at in his books, igniting a love of fishing in youth. Bob still fishes Lake Winnebago during the summer and especially enjoys taking his sons and grandsons fishing. As Bob shares, “Fishing with sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, adds joy to life. You are never too young or too old to catch the fishing bug.”
Walter the Wily Walleye is a whimsical story of a friendly fish that invites and challenges a child to try and catch him. Allen shares quick fishing tips, and interesting tidbits that will captivate young minds, and might just spark a love of fishing. Fly-in to the Boonies is a story of a young boy and girl with their dad and gramps on a wilderness fishing adventure. The family enjoys a campfire with s’mores and a shore lunch with fresh fish. Besides fishing, they scare an eagle, sight a moose and bear, encounter a beaver and hear the call of a loon. It’s pure joy, shared with the young.
Bob will be at Goose Gang in Perham signing both his books Memorial Day Saturday, May 25th starting at 11am.
Our world is filled with plenty of arguments based on sometimes questionable facts, so we choose not to debate, but not to gamble either. Thus, we’re left pondering what little bit could we do today, that could make the planet better tomorrow. One young company, and the millennials that founded it, have done just that. They’re producing a product, that benefits both the customer, the employees, children in Bali, and they’re making the planet just a little bit better, one pair of bamboo sunglasses at a time.
What do they do? They make Swell Vision. The 100% bamboo frame sunglasses float when dropped in the water. Yep; that includes lakes too! Floating sunglasses are pure genius as these sunglasses are lightweight, super strong, and buoyant. But even better, the bamboo is great for our planet.
Bamboo absorbs greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and releases about 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere than a similar woods of hardwood trees. It’s also super strong, renewable, and grows fast. Some species of bamboo can grow 36 inches with a 24hour period! Bamboo could be harvested in one to five years, whereas hardwoods like oak take at least forty years to mature. Bamboo can also ‘replant’ itself; after harvesting, it will grow a new shoot from its root system. Bamboo also grows in a wide variety of climates from low wetlands to arid mountains, with no fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides needed for it to thrive. And, technically speaking, bamboo has a higher specific comprehensive strength than wood, brick or concrete, and a specific tensile strength that rivals steel. That’s strong.
Swell Vision sunglasses have multi-layered polarized polycarbonate lenses that are impact resistant and lightweight. The 2.0 series is made from sustainable bamboo and features plant-based acetate tips on the temples. The lenses are polarized CR39-TAC (triacetate cellulose), which is a process that applies the polarization to the lenses in multiple layers to ensure strong lenses that are not only impact and scratch resistant, but shockproof as well. Polarization eliminates glare, reduces eye strain, increases visual clarity, and enhances contrast.
Swell vision polarized lenses are UV400, blocking both UVA and UVB rays.
But what truly impresses me about these millennial founders of Swell Vision, is their commitment to giving back to the planet. Swell’s vision is inextricably linked to the mission of their company: to promote sustainability across the globe. They accomplish this by:
Need a personal reason to buy good sunglasses? It’s time to protect your eyes. Ophthalmologists warn us that exposure to UV light accumulates over time and raises the risks of certain eye diseases, including cataract, growths on the eye, and cancer. Strong exposure to snow reflection could cause painful damage called snow blindness. Growths on the eye can show up as early as in our teens or twenties, especially in surfers, skiers, fishermen, farmers, or anyone who spends long hours under the mid-day sun. Babies and kids also need protection and should wear hats and sunglasses. People of all ages should take precautions whenever they are outdoors, even on cloudy days as UV rays can pass through the clouds.
Polarized lenses also help you see more clearly. People who fish, in particular, find polarized sunglasses drastically cut the glare and help them see into the water. Polarized lenses are not recommended for seeing images on LCD (liquid crystal display) screens—like iPads, cell phones and some watches.
The bottom line? Don’t gamble with your eyesight or the planet. Those of us at FindYourGoose.com are trying harder to do a little good each day, and we’re really glad to support companies who produce products that do good too!
I can just barely see my favorite chair on our patio, peeking out from under the snow. It’s calling me. Our patio furniture has been hidden under snow for months. And yes, we do store it in a snowbank because that saves a lot of room in our garage. Our Perfect Choice patio furniture is basically Minnesota weather-proof. Once it’s a little warmer, I’ll hose it off and likely I’ll run a sudsy brush of dish soap over the chair’s surface. Nothing ever needs to be painted, scraped or sanded. It doesn’t fade. I’ve no cushions to worry about getting wet or worn. And it’s a rare Minnesota windstorm, that even moves the chairs.
But it’s how comfortable this chair is, that makes it my favorite. When we moved into town twenty years ago, we bought this furniture for our patio. Since then, we’ve stored it outside year ‘round. It really is one of our best purchases ever. We can count on it to not embarrass us because we aren’t a small bunch. We’re solid Minnesotans. Not as big as Paul Bunyan, but not tiny either. Our chairs can handle us and our family shindigs. The chairs won’t break like the big box store plastic ones, even though the chair’s been sitting in the sun for two decades. Our chairs still look like new 20 years later. If I set a new one next to our twenty-year-old one, people wouldn’t be able to tell which is which. Now that’s got to be the definition of a great buy. It’s because we found this patio furniture so comfortable, so durable, so very perfect, that we decided to start carrying it at Wild Goose. And many of our customers, seeking their favorite patio chair, have discovered the very same thing.
When I relax, I like to rock. My patio glider’s gentle rocking invites me to settle in, sip a cool beverage, and read. Our family is like Goldilocks’s three bears; we each have our favorite seats. The kids like to lounge in the Adirondack chairs, sitting low, leaning slightly back, and stretching out their legs. My parents prefer the Dining Adirondacks, which sit a little higher, and are easier to get up out of the chair. The arm rests are nice and wide, perfect for holding my morning cup of coffee or evening glass of wine. My husband? He prefers leaning on the bar as he’s talking smart, or relaxing on the glider as well. We do not yet have the new maintenance-free bar/serving counter that Perfect Choice started making two years ago, but it’s on our to-do list! Lucky for me, and every customer, the fade-resistant nature of the product makes it easy to add pieces over time.
Made in Wisconsin from poly-lumber, these chairs are better than others on the market for several key reasons: 1) The boards are thicker with 95% density, which results in greater strength, and less possibility of dirt or mildew penetrating the surface. 2) Over-sized swivel bearings and hardware are used for smooth, effortless and quiet movements. 3) Table bases are reinforced with a hidden, interior aluminum frame but have a solid table top for easy use resulting in a level surface for dishes. 4) All hardware is stainless steel and marine coated which won’t rust. 5) All wear points use a bolt, rather than a screw, which could be important twenty years from now in case tightening is ever needed. That last point came from the guys that assemble our patio furniture. I once bought chairs from a different vendor, and the guys quickly nixed that decision. They showed me how valuable bolts would become, when years later, a chair might begin to get a wobble. A bolt could be tightened, securing the chair. A screw might get stripped. Considering my patio set is already twenty years old, these bolts are important. For the record, I’ve never needed to tighten a single bolt, but I could if I needed to.
Tables and chairs come in three height options: bar, counter, or traditional table height; and a great variety of size, frame, and color choices. Benches, swings, gliders, a rocking chair, swivel chair, lounge chair, and bar round out the Perfect Choice collection. The furniture is easy to assemble, so many customers choose to save money by doing their own assembly.
Wild Goose stocks more pieces of Perfect Choice than any other store in Minnesota! But if the perfect color or style isn’t in-stock, we’ll quickly get your choice ordered and drop-shipped to your door. We won’t be beat on price, and we offer free financing. Come test out our selection.
Minnesota summers are precious. Don’t be like Goldilocks and left without a seat. Line up your perfect choice today! See a store associate for details.
While I’m still a grandma-wannabe, I am thinking about all the kids playing in their homes today. I remember the days of blanket forts covering our living room. I laughingly recall the many performances I watched of our kids ‘shows’ on their makeshift stage. But most of all, I love recalling the kids vanishing to the ‘Playmobil room’ in our basement to live in their make-believe city for the afternoon. Yes, in our home ‘Playmobil’ got an entire basement room. For our young family, it was the best investment we ever made.
Play matters. In this era of over-scheduled kids, some stressed from their super-enriched lives, the value of simple unstructured play gets forgotten. Play really does matter.
Imagination ran wild in our Playmobil city. A make-believe tornado once leveled Abby’s house. Becca’s zookeeper struggled to keep the animals inside because Mark’s jeep would occasionally off-road and take out a fence. The firetruck really could squirt water (just a bit). If needed, the boat truly motored through the bathtub. And the modern house stayed modern because it got renovated every day.
I need to thank my sister-on-law Jen for first introducing us to Playmobil. She had several pieces at her daycare and they were a huge hit with the kids. I was skeptical of the small pieces at first, but I soon learned those pieces were the details the kids loved most. My husband and I often said, Playmobil was the cheapest toy we ever bought because the kids spent so many, many, many hours playing with it. But it wasn’t just our kids who played with our Playmobil city. Visiting cousins and friends’ kids headed there first. When our kids eventually outgrew Playmobil (middle school age!) we sent ‘the city’ to my sister’s house for her young kids to enjoy. Really, it is that durable!
To all the young parents out there, just turn the kids loose and let them play today. Let the kids turn their imaginations free. Let them be explorers. Let them work out their differences with each other, without we adults interfering. I think everything they’ll accidentally learn while playing is just what we all need.
Maybe George Bernard Shaw put it best, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
“It’s the story of my life.”
That’s how our daughter Abby describes her Pandora bracelet. There’s a bead for confirmation, another for earning her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. An owl bead marks her high school graduation, while a purse symbolizes her first job. In between are favorite beads marking birthdays with color, holidays with inspiration, and her journeys in landmarks. This Christmas, her husband gave her a bead with two joined hearts symbolizing their November wedding. The bracelet truly tells her life story. But, just when you think you know your jewelry, it changes!
I promise, if you stop and look in our Pandora jewelry cases, you’ll be surprised at all you find. And, you’ll love it.
Pandora makes fabulous charm bracelets, but they also make so much more. The rings! I love to mix and match them, and stack them in unique ways. I adore my Essence necklace. It’s classic petite cable perfectly sets off one signature bead for me, but I have fun switching it up with different outfits or moods. Different from my daughter, my Pandora bracelets reflect my whims, more than the story of my life. I’ve purchased most of the beads myself! I love that one of our loyal customers would come select one bead with each of her monthly paychecks from the school. It was how she chose to honor her work, and the students with whom she worked. To each of us, Pandora represents something different, but it definitely represents the moments of our lives.
I love that Pandora jewelry is designed in Denmark; I admire its trend-setting look. I love that Pandora uses semi-precious stones and sterling silver, 14 kt gold, and now 18kt gold plating. Its timeless appeal, and the unique design of its jewelry, keep me coming back as a collector.
If your significant other needs a little more direction, leave one of Wild Goose’s Pandora pamphlets (with the jewelry you loved starred or circled!) on his pillow.
Picture yourself next to a street vendor’s cart in India. Your chai tea (or Masala tea as its commonly called in India) is served in an earthenware cup. Standing by his cart, you drink your chai over conversation, then when done throw your cup on the ground and crush it with your foot. In India, this is how it’s done. Chai tea has deep roots and is a key part of the locals’ culture.
We started serving chai at Wild Goose twenty-some years ago. Back then I’d researched chai and written a story in our Goose Call newsletter about the origins of the tea, and how it was often served by street vendors in India. Last month I returned to twenty years ago, when our family was lucky enough to travel to India for our daughter’s wedding. The chai story had seemed almost too charming to be true, but there we were: drinking chai by the roadside in earthen cups, and seeing the remains of other cups scattered about the ground. I had to ask ‘why the earthenware cup?’ The single use cup (or maybe twice used for those customers wanting a refill) is made of a terracotta like clay and simply dried. The cup subtly enhances the flavor of the spices and tea. That’s a sensible reason, but sorry we aren’t going to start making earthenware cups for your chai at Nest!
Chai is as common in India as coffee is in the US, and just like our coffee, Indians each have favorite ways of making it. My daughter’s mother-in-law makes chai from scratch each day, and since she loves ginger, she includes quite a bit in her recipe. Her sister prefers to use cardamom instead of ginger in her chai.
Like many good things, good flavor comes to those who wait. Making chai from scratch takes time--45 minutes to an hour. Start by boiling water and fresh ginger root in a pot for five minutes. Add sugar, and boil another 25 minutes. A secret tip? The longer this mixture boils, the more spice the chai will have. Next add the black tea. Authentic chai uses a black tea that looks more like tea grounds than tea leaves. Boil the tea and the ginger sugar water for another 15-20 minutes, and then slowly add whole milk until it bubbles over. The chai is ready.
At Nest, we dearly love our chai tea. We want to thank Ellen, one of our Goose family members and her friend Sue, who years ago found the chai we currently serve. Our Spiced Chai is closer to authentic Masala chai tea (which literally translates to spiced chai), and our Vanilla Chai adds a sweeter American twist to the traditional tea. Each version has their loyal followers, and a few of our customers have created their unique twist by adding a bit of Hazelnut or Raspberry to their chai tea.
Twenty years. It seems impossible that I’ve been enjoying chai that long. But like our wild geese who long for adventure, I’m delighted my travels led me to India and a street vendor’s stand where I could taste what I’d once written. ‘Cheers!’ or ‘Chai!’ to distant travel, great adventures, and long-lasting favorites.
When the best cooks you know love the same product, pay attention.
I used to be a cast-iron hold-out. All the best cooks I knew used it. But I thought it was too heavy. I didn’t think I’d like cleaning it. Then, I used it, and my world changed.
Any pan that is used by both fisherman cooking shore lunches and gourmet cooks preparing five course meals meets the definition of versatile, and proves its quality. But it’s the taste of the food cooked in cast iron that makes it so popular.
Cast iron makes delicious food. Meats are so tender you can cut them with your fork. Breads with a flaky crust, melt in your mouth. Vegetables tender and rich with flavor, make me consider being a vegetarian—until I remember I’d have to give up meat! Maybe it’s the lack of evaporation, or the searing that’s enabled, or maybe it’s the carmelization. Whatever the reason, food cooked in cast iron really does taste better.
I can make a pot roast in a cast iron Dutch oven that is fork tender. And I’ve watched my son and future daughter-in-law bake cinnamon rolls over a campfire high in the Rocky Mountains in the same size Dutch oven. For their rugged outdoor camping, they prefer Lodge cast iron. We both love the ease and beauty of LeCreuset cast iron for indoor cooking or grilling.
My favorite pan is my LeCreuset cast iron buffet casserole. This shallow casserole is basically a braiser that’s perfect for searing, braising and slow cooking. Its tempered glass lid allows me to keep an eye on my cooking, and is oven safe as well. The smooth interior promotes carmelization, precise cooking and is simple to clean. My mother would laugh, but I crave the onions I can carmelize in this dish; they add so much flavor to my vegetables and roasts.
The classic pot roast is my favorite go-to roast recipe, and the Dutch oven bread recipe is a favorite from a friend. But Britta and her cinnamon rolls baked with nineteen pieces of well-placed charcoal is the amazing accomplishment. She and Mark have mastered ‘glamping’ – translated as glamorous camping, and their mastery of cast iron at their campsite is fascinating.
Fisherman joke about who will inherit their favorite cast iron pan, but they’re not exaggerating. A perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet might be the most revered and protected item at fish camp. Enameled cast iron is made for generations of use, and I’ve witnessed decades old Dutch ovens in action. Great cooks know what works. I was late to the table, but I’m so very glad to test new recipes, and new uses for cast iron now. To my inspiration chef Dave, and my sales rep Deb, I say a very sincere, ‘Thank you!’