Summer wouldn’t be complete without an annual trip to the lake. My mom’s family is from North Dakota and her parents always took their eight (!!) kids to a lake in Minnesota every summer. Ever since, our family has kept the tradition going. My aunts, uncles and cousins have been getting together for our annual “Birkeland Bash” reunion for more than 20 years. Now that there’s around 25 cousins, we can’t always all be there, but it is so special to see as much of the family as possible every year.
I just got home from a ten day trip to the lake and have so many fun memories. Usually I get really lucky with a perfectly sunny week, but this year we got hit with more rainy and cloudy days. There are plenty of things to do at the lake, even on overcast days, so here are a few of my favorite memories!
Garage Dance Parties
My aunt and uncle have transformed the garage of their house into a screened-in porch with string lights and fun decor. We all gather in here every night when the sun sets, start jamming out to music and have some great conversation. This year, Bruno Mars was the hit and my cousins and I were singing songs from his new album with Motown style dance moves.
Gardens and Fields of Vegetables
My aunt and uncle started their own garden on their property at the lake and it was amazing to see how much produce came from it! They had bags and bags of green beans, tomatoes, peppers, peas, broccoli, kale, squash and lettuce. It makes me want to start a garden so badly! My uncle also took my aunt and I to his friend’s field of sweet corn. It was the coolest feeling pulling the fresh corn right off the giant stem!
Playing with my little cousins by the water makes for some of my favorite memories. These kiddos could swim for hours and hours. They’re all little water babies and have grown up with the lake as their playground! The older cousins and I swim out into deeper water and tread water for a really good workout.
Food Network Star Party
Several of my cousins, aunts and uncles love Food Network Star, so we all got together to watch the finale a few weeks ago. We decided to have a little dessert party around it and made homemade s’mores bars and a rhubarb blueberry crumble. It was so fun recording my cousins cooking on Instagram Stories and pretending we were on FN Star. I was rooting for Cory, but the crowd favorite was Jason, so they were excited he won!
Learning New Tricks
I love being adventurous at the lake because there are always new things to learn. My aunt taught me how to do a headstand on a paddle board for a little paddle board yoga and it was such a cool feeling! I also went to the driving range at a golf course for the first time in a while, plus finally got my surfing skills down and can ride the wake without the rope.
Birthdays x 3
With so many family members, we have a LOT of birthday. My aunt and two cousins ironically have birthdays three days in a row, so it was a blast being there to celebrate with them all. It felt like the party never ended, but that’s how it’s supposed to be right? From dinners and drinks to dance parties, we had a BLAST with the birthdays.
HUB41 and Brygge Taps & Tastes
My cousins own two really awesome restaurants in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota so we spend a lot of time at them while we’re at the lake. Brygge (pronounced Brigg) has been around for a few years, but they just rebranded and have some killer things on the menu like gouda pickles and homemade chips! I got to be the guest chef for their Flight Night special, so I’ll write about that later and share recipes. HUB41 is their new concept right on the water of Detroit Lake. It’s seriously the hottest spot in town and I couldn’t be more proud of my family.
My favorite memory of the whole trip was probably taking a pontoon ride on the gorgeous sunny Saturday with the family. Everyone in my family is super athletic, so they were diving, flipping and doing tricks off the side into the sandy water. I learned how to flip off the pontoon and it was such a fun feeling! We even swung by the neighbors lake house where they were doing a Bloody Mary bar for the lake. Those kinds of afternoons just can’t be beat!
I’m already counting down the days until next summer! Minnesota days are my favorite way to spend summer. I hope you enjoy following along. Do any of you do similar things with your family? Do you have a ton of cousins, too? Or spend time at the lake? I would love to hear in the comments below!
Love food. Love self. Love life.