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When you don’t want to go anywhere

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

Yes, even the Indulgent Traveler, who loves to travel, wants to sleep in her own bed some nights. And as everyone who travels knows, even frugal vacations still cost something, unless you stay with family or friends—and that doesn’t always qualify as a real vacation. So what to do to vanquish t

he winter blues at next to no cost?

Plan a grown-up, weekend sleepover, house party, also known as a “staycation.” There’s only one rule – no one can do any work of any kind. Check the smart phones at the door and disconnect. It’s time to relax and reconnect.

Pick a couple of fun friends and find a weekend that works. My husband and I did do a little extra cleaning in anticipation of a recent house party. The extra bedroom had become a depository for seldom-used items and books, for example. A little dusting and voila – the guest suite was ready. I splurged on a new set of sheets – on sale, of course, since the whole point of the staycation is to minimize the cost and to maximize fun.

The next task was to plan a menu that didn’t require too much effort and that would be contribute to the special weekend vibe. To create an appealing appetizer course, we laid in some lovely cheeses and crackers, nuts, dried dates and grapes. My husband picked out a few special bottles of wine. We made a nice green salad for starters and settled on lovely chowder that could be eaten as a main course around a blazing fire. A sinful dessert is a re

quirement, so brownies alamode was our choice, served with a zinfandel fudge sauce that we were saving for a special night. Picking up a few entrees to share at a local restaurant would be another way to go if cooking isn’t something you like to do for fun.

After a pleasant evening of conversation, it was time for a movie and fresh popped popcorn with real butter. Given the many available streaming movie options and a few of our favorites on CDs, nobody argued much about our choice. My husband wanted a Godfather marathon, but it wasn’t that kind of evening.

We wanted breakfast to be stress free, so I made a breakfast casserole ahead to be heated up the next morning and served with a great pot of coffee and a spicy Bloody Mary. Or enjoy breakfast out at a local favorite diner. We like the Broadway Grille in downtown Marshall. They have a tasty breakfast burrito, or you can build your own omelet.

We still had a whole day ahead of us, so the next question was what to do for entertainment. Marshall was having its annual ice carving display, so we decided to walk downtown and check out the sculptures while doing some window-shopping. We wandered over to the Honolulu House, because our friends had never visited it. Now over 155 years old, the lovely Italianate structure was built by Abner Pratt, chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and then United States Counsel to Hawaii (1857-1859) under President James Buchanan. Be sure to call the Marshall Historical Society for winter hours or an appointment, however!

Our next big decision was where to warm up. Still on our agenda was a visit to the Dark Horse brewery, and we also wanted to take in the EastEnd Studio and Gallery on Marshall’s main street.

Museums, art galleries, local historic homes—all are mostly free to visit and are great stops on a well-planned staycation…or even one that was just thrown together like ours.

There are many ways to indulge, and it does recharge your soul to spend time with people you enjoy, doing unpressured activities that we don’t normally have time to fit into our too busy lives.

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