October 14, 2015

Some Much Needed R & R

The last several months have been rather hectic in our household.  These days the both of us are constantly working with evenings and weekends being consumed by the glow of our laptops.  Throw in the fact that Josh has been gone for the last month and I think it’s safe to say that we both needed a weekend away.  I had this past Monday off, so we decided to do a 3-dayer at the family cabin in northern Minnesota.  The leaves were peaking and we had spectacular weather.  It actually hit 87 degrees on Sunday.  That type of weather is not unheard of this time of year but it doesn’t come around often! 

Friday night after I got home from work, we loaded up the pup and got the heck outta dodge.  Kigen needed this weekend away as well.  Poor guy has been stuck with boring ol’ me for the last month and let’s face it, I just can’t roughhouse with him like his dad does.  At least he knows where to go for endless snuggles!  Since we got up there pretty late, we passed out almost immediately after un-packing which left us refreshed to start the weekend.  There’s just something about waking up at the cabin in the fall after the leaves have changed and drinking a good cup of java while watching the sunrise over the lake with your favorite person.  Pure bliss.

Looking at all of the fall colors left me itchin’ to get out and take some pics of the beautiful landscape we were surrounded by.  The boys were more than willing to be my subjects of our impromptu photo shoot, which I always appreciate.  As the years go on, I feel more and more grateful that we have such a beautiful place to go to that has the ability to put us in a zen state of mind so quickly.  Throw in a glass or 3 of wine and our time up there is practically ethereal. 

Unfortunately, we did still have to get some work done this weekend.  My dad and brother came up for the day on Sunday so we could all help take the boat lift and dock out of the water for the winter.  It was really nice to see them as we don’t spend time together like we used to when we all lived at home.  They were only there for a few hours and after they left it was time to get back to work.  Josh and his buddy Seth Feider put on monthly webinars that go over all aspects of fishing as well as in-depth discussions on using the GPS electronics that come on the majority of boats these days.  I’m the one in charge of putting the presentations together which can be rather time consuming but I also don’t mind so much because it’s time that we get to spend together interacting with one another instead of just watching TV or messing around on our phones next to each other but not actually engaging in conversation.  However, all good things must come to an end.  After enjoying what will most likely be our last morning at the cabin until next spring, we got everything cleaned up and packed up and headed back to reality.  Monday night’s webinar went off without a hitch and I even found time to make lasagna for the whole crew that shows up when we do them!  Perfect end to a perfect weekend.

October 05, 2015

Happy Fall Y'all!

Don’t you just love fall?  Summer is great and all, but there’s just something about the cooler temperatures and the leaves changing that gets me all happy in my innards.  I’m no longer finding excuses why I shouldn’t turn the oven on, but more of why I should!  This past weekend, I had the pleasure of taking my niece and nephew apple picking at one of our local orchards.  We had such a good time getting out in the crisp fall air and enjoying each other’s company.  My nephew is 2 ½ and pretty easily entertained while my niece is 10 going on 25 so I was hoping that she wasn’t too cool for some good ol’ fashioned family time.  Aren’t they adorable? 

These kids were having so much fun and I must admit that we over-picked.  We left with about 3 full pecks of Haralson apples and 1 peck each of Honeycrisp and Fireside.  They know how to hustle their aunt and her wallet so they each picked out a pumpkin as well.  When we got back to their house, my niece and I made a 9x13 and 8x8 pan of apple crisp.  Even after all that it didn’t look like we came close to touching the pile of apples that we still had!

Later that night, my husband finally made it home after a month on the road so he was itchin’ for some home cooking.  On Sunday morning, I put on a pot of bison chili and cornbread for the Vikings game so he could relax and take a much needed day off.  Since my love of sports is more or less non-existent I took this opportunity to figure out what to do with the rest of the apples.  

Apple crisp is always a must for fall in our house but that was only going to cover a portion of what I was working with.  I decided on making some crockpot applesauce and then trying my hand at appleturnovers.  Both of which turned out absolutely amazing.   

Let’s get back to that apple crisp for a sec.  This is a dessert that my mom has made for years and is a family favorite.  I’ve done some tweaking to the recipe to suit my taste buds and this is what I’ve come up with!

Everyone seems to have their own way of how they peel and slice their apples.  Whether it’s using one of those fancy apple peelers that also slices at the same time (which I have found can slice them too thin) or using an apple slicer and cutting them from there (mine broke otherwise I would have gone with this method).  It really doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you get them peeled and sliced.  It is my personal recommendation that you slice them about ½” thick otherwise they can get too mushy during baking.  Since my slicer was busted, I opted for the peel and core method and chop into slices from there.  You’ll want about a ½ peck worth.  Slice a lemon in half and drizzle the juice over the apple slices so they don’t brown.  

Sprinkle the apple with ¾ cup sugar, ¾ Tbls cinnamon, ¼ tsp salt and 3-4 tablespoons of cornstarch.  The cornstarch helps thicken the sauce that will be created during baking.  If you don’t add this, you’ll generally end up with a watery mess at the bottom of your pan as opposed to a nice, thick cinnamon sugar sauce.  It tastes like hopes and dreams and I would hate for you to miss out on it.  From here this all needs to get mixed together.  You can use a big spoon but I’ve found that using your hands is the most effective method.  You should probably sample a slice or 10 to make sure everything tastes legit.  It’s all about quality control people!  Pour all the apple goodness into a 9x13 baking dish. 

Using the same bowl (or a new one, if you want it clean first) combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups brown sugar, 2tsp vanilla (or less, but I love vanilla) and 2 sticks of cold butter.  

Again, mix all this with your hands.  The heat from your hands will help soften the butter therefor assisting in the process of making your “crumble” topping. You just don't get that from a mixing spoon.

Carefully place the crumble topping over the apples being careful to keep it all over the pan.  

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Wait for it to cool and serve with some tasty ice cream.  We went with French Vanilla for this round.  Deee-licous!


Apple Crisp

½ Lemon juice
3/4 C Sugar
3/4 T Cinnamon
¼ tsp Salt
½ - 3/4 Peck Harelson apples
3-4 T Cornstarch

2 C Brown Sugar
2 C Flour  
2 sticks cold Butter

1-2 tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel and cut apples to ½" thickness.  In a large bowl, pour lemon juice over the apples and combine well.  Add remaining ingredients of the apple mixture together and combine with your hands.  Pour into 9x13 pan.  Mix topping ingredients together and mush with your hands.  Sprinkle on top of apple mixture.  Bake 20-30 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.  

September 25, 2015

The Life of a Fisherman's Widow

As I sit here typing this, my husband is fishing possibly one of the biggest tournaments of his life thus far.  This weekend is the 3rd and final Bassmaster Northern Open event for 2015 on Lake Erie.  The outcome of which will be the deciding factor to find out if he will be fishing the Opens again next year or if he’s moving to the big show – The Bassmaster Elite Series.  Currently, he is tied for 20th in the Angler of the Year points.  At the end of this, I’m not sure exactly what place he needs to finish in the tournament to qualify for the Elites, but I know he needs to be in the top 5 overall in AOY points to make it in.  I can only imagine what is going through his head right now, not to mention the pressure that he is putting on himself to succeed. 

Anyone can go on the internet and find all sorts of articles or blogs to find out what the life of a tournament angler is really like, but there are very few out there that talk about what the spouses and families go through.  The sacrifices we have to make in order to watch our loved ones follow their dreams.  This is not an easy road.  It takes an emotional, mental and physical toll on both our parts and we both need to be committed to make this work.  Lets discuss, shall we?  I guess I should start at the beginning.  Ten years ago Josh and I made a compromise - we would get married on the beach in the Bahamas if he could get a bass boat upon our return.  Done and done.  For the next 2 years of our life, he would compete in small local tournaments around Minnesota on the weekends and be a part of one of the local bass fishing clubs.  It was here that he met a group of guys that had the same passion as him.  They all just wanted to go fishing and learn the skills needed to really hone in on those bass.  I didn’t mind one bit.  I’m a homebody in every sense of the word and can generally always find something to do to fill my time.  Plus, this was only taking up about one or two weekends a month and I didn’t mind having some time to myself to do whatever I wanted.  Win-win, right? 

As time went on and he felt more confident in his skills, he started competing in some of the larger tournament circuits around the state as well as the Bassmaster Weekend Series which had a Midwest division.  I should mention that up until this point, the majority of his tournaments thus far were team tournaments as opposed to individual ones.  Meaning the outcome of the day was a group effort as opposed to him being able to call it an individual feat.  It was also around this time that I realized that he had talents beyond those of your average angler.  I knew he was a good fisherman, but I guess I didn’t understand the scope of how successful one can become in this industry.  One tournament in particular that took place on the Mississippi River out of Wisconsin I can remember vividly how I got lost on the way to the weigh in.  Some of our family was coming down for support and I knew that he was in one of the first flights that morning so he would be one of the first to weigh in.  I got the car parked and hauled ass down to the stage to catch him walking up with his bag.  Just in time!  I don’t recall the particulars of what his bag weighed, but as the other anglers came to the stage, nobody had a bigger bag then him.  He ended up taking his first 1st place win that day and it was his first win that he could claim as his own without the help of a partner.  We were both elated and I was so happy that our family was there to be a part of it, mainly because it gave me peace of mind that they were starting to see that this may not be a pipe dream after all.  I also think it’s safe to say that this tournament solidified for both of us that he just may have what it takes to make it. 

Josh and I after his 1st place win on the Mississippi River
It was after this that he started setting his sights on bigger tournaments.  But doing bigger tournaments meant a larger financial investment as well as more time spent on the water.  Throughout our relationship we have both held steady full time employment.  Me with my 9-5 job and him working nights and weekends as a bartender.   When you do the math in that schedule, you’ll find that there was already very little time for us to spend together and taking the next step meant that me being a fisherman’s widow would be in full effect. In my job I get steady pay and vacation time.  If Josh didn’t work, he didn’t get paid.  The upside to this was that he could take off as much time as he wanted as long as he could get his shifts covered.  After a while, the financial impact of his career choice was all too apparent.  We were racking up credit card debt like nobody’s business.  Thankfully we were never in a position where bills weren’t getting paid, but the amount of outstanding debt we were incurring was taking it’s toll.  I should also mention that I had a large hand in this.  It wasn’t him alone contributing to our little debt issues.  What can I say, I have a problem walking away from a good sale!!  Since we already had so much invested in his dream career, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that moving forward was not an option. 

Camping before a tournament
With this new revelation, it was time to see what could be done about securing some sponsorships for him to help ease the financial burden we were facing.  No angler can start this process thinking that they will automatically get paid to fish.  You have to start small, you have to prove yourself.  He would take on sponsors and he would get wholesale pricing or some sort of discount on products.  Eventually with time, this would lead to getting an annual stipend with companies to spend on their product and if you went over that amount you had to open your wallet to cover the rest.  Almost immediately, things started getting better.  It’s amazing how all of his little tackle orders he used to make would add up and when he started taking on sponsors those would diminish. 

Another talent that my husband has is writing.  He found various outlets to discuss different facets of fishing.  Whether it be though his blog, the local newspaper, or even when Bass Angler Magazine wanted him to start contributing articles to each issue.  These were all excellent platforms for him to get his name out in the industry and start getting noticed.  Eventually, we both bit the bullet and got involved with social media.  We had both been so private about our lives that it was difficult to put everything out there, good or bad.  In the end, social media has by far been one of the best ways to get his name out there and get noticed.  So much so that over time after we officially made Josh Douglas Fishing a business and we no longer had to contribute our personal earnings to the cause because his company could finally sustain itself.  That was a great feeling.  For me, it was what I needed in order to know that all the sacrifices we had made, financially and time-wise was actually starting to pay off. 

I have always been supportive of his career choice but it was around this time that I started to step up my game as his wife and start investing myself in his career as well.   With this, however, meant taking on the emotional roller coaster that comes with tournament bass fishing, instead of just giving him the supportive comments before a derby.   A pivotal moment for us came shortly after this decision was made.  We were at one of his tournaments and he was having an excellent practice.  I was in the boat with him for most of it and saw firsthand what he was working with.  The night before he was so confident that he was going catch a large bag, that he had me so giddy with excitement with him.  The next day came and he finished low in the points.  In my head, I was telling myself that I needed to be his support system right now and the last thing he needed was to hear was my negative attitude of how the day went.  Unfortunately, I’m not always the best at conveying my feelings, and instead of offering words of encouragement, I gave him the silent treatment and ultimately told him how much he let me down.  Wrong move.  My heart hurt for him.  I was disappointed for him, not in him and that’s not how I came off.  We ended up getting into a huge argument and he left the tournament with a badly bruised ego.  Not from how he placed in the tournament, but from my actions afterward.  I felt and still do feel terrible about how that day transpired.  I know deep down, that he still carries that day with him as well.  It was from then on I realized that going forward, I could no longer allow myself to get so emotionally attached in his performance.  I would support him, I would cheer for him, I would be his sounding board when he needed it, and I would curse the fish gods with him when they weren’t biting but I could no longer get as hyped up as he does about a tournament, because at the end of the day we are two different people who handle situations differently and I never want to see that side of myself again.

After Josh's win for the NABC on Lake Minnetonka
We came to a point in 2012 where we needed to start making some decisions about our future.  We could continue down the path we were currently going or we could take things to the next level.  Naturally, we wanted to get to the next level.  We packed up all of our stuff and made the move to Chattanooga, TN.  Having Lake Chickamauga be our new stomping grounds was icing on the cake and we made the move in September of that year.  

It was decided before we went that if we were going to do this that we both had to be all in.  That meant me working and supporting the household while he focused solely on fishing.  The year and a half that followed was by far the most difficult time in our relationship.  Shortly after the move, Josh was contacted by one of his sponsors to be a independent contractor who would visit sporting goods stores around the south and Midwest.  With this, however, was an additional time commitment.  He has to leave a few days before he normally would for his tournament to accommodate for the store visits he would now have to make.  Tack these few days onto the additional 2 weeks he allows himself to pre-fish multiplied by at least 9 tournaments a year in addition to any shows or expos that his sponsors require him to work and you’ll find that he was barely home.  I was able to find a job that I loved but was not allowed any vacation time for my first 12 months of employment.  Traveling is one of my favorite things to do and this was coming to a screeching halt.  I found myself feeling chained to my house.  Like I said earlier, I am a homebody by nature, but even this was testing my limits.  After a year and a half, we realized that even though we were living closer to the action, for the amount of time that he was away, it really didn’t matter where we lived.  I missed our family and friends so in February of 2013 we bit the bullet and moved back to Minnesota.  You’ll never hear me say that I regret making the move down south.  If we had never done it, we would still be wondering “what if”.  I met some truly wonderful people in the process and discovered my love of southern food.  Dare I mention that I moved back with an additional 15 lbs to my mid-section?  Don’t worry, it’s gone now but it sure was fun getting there! 

In the year and a half that we have been back, Josh’s career has only gained momentum and he has had some wonderful opportunities come his way.  He is still gone a lot, but I was able to get my old job back that came with 4 weeks of vacation.  Whoo-hoo!  We are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the potential of what our future can hold.  To some, it may seem like we are living his dream but in reality, we are living our dream.  My part in this is paying off and in the very near future, my dreams will be coming true too.  Still can’t chat about that part yet though, sorry.

Well, this sure turned into a bit of a novel, but the moral of the story is that the fisherman widows of the world are a tough bunch of bitches who will do anything to see their loved ones succeed no matter what the cost.  They are just as committed as their husbands and their roll in the world of fishing is not one to be swept under the rug. 

Thank you to everyone who made it to the end of this post!  You’re truly appreciated.


September 10, 2015

2015 Mike Yeo Classic

Last week my husband, Josh, had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd Annual Mike Yeo Classic on Lake Minnetonka.  This tournament raised money and awareness for the Pinky Swear Foundation and the Angel Foundation, both of which help children who are fighting cancer and their families.  The coach of the Minnesota Wild, Mike Yeo, along with several Wild players as well as a few Minnesota Twins players were in attendance to help with this awesome cause.  Josh was paired up with Twins pitcher Brian Duensing.  They had a great day out on the water and Cushing Media was able to get some great aerial footage of one of their fish catches with their fancy drone.  They forwarded us the raw footage and I created the following video.  Hope you enjoy!

September 04, 2015

Time for a Re-vamp

Hello Everyone!

It's been awhile since I've contributed anything to this blog and I'd like to say that I'm sorry for the lack of content!  In early 2014 we moved from Tennessee back to our home state of Minnesota and even though it's already been a year and a half, it feels like it's only been a month and a half.  I really have no idea where the time went!  Needless to say the Douglas household has been busy busy busy!  My husbands fishing career has gone to a whole new level and I have taken on full time managing duties for him.  If I am not at my day job then I am at home working for him.  This has included handling the majority of his media content, producing his webinars, acting as CFO, and assisting him with his sponsor responsibilities.  Unfortunately, this has not left me much "Bri time".  Don't get me wrong, I'm still whipping up fabulous meals and knitting kick ass things!  It's just not as frequently as it was before but I wouldn't have it any other way.  We are both working our buns off and it has been proof positive that we are headed in the right direction of where we want to end up in this world.  I can't get into it much now, but I'll be shedding some light on that in the coming months.

Per the title of this post, it is time that this little blog 'o mine gets a re-vamp to document where my life is at now.  So going forward, I'll still be talking about food, knitting and other crafty thangs but I'm also going to use this as a platform to get my photography and media work out to the world.  It might take me a little time to get where I'm ultimately trying to go, however, I hope you all still want to join me on the journey!  So stay tuned, kids!