Chicken Tortilla Soup

 I am a soup lover. It does not matter if it’s below zero or 90 degrees outside, I could eat soup every day of the year.

It also helps that it is one of the easiest things to prepare with the help of little hands, which I have no shortage of. My daycare kiddos love to make soup. This is one of our favorite recipes.

All the ingredients are basic, usually readily available in most households and not a lot of preparation is required thanks to canned ingredients.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.
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Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 medium onion-diced

3 cloves of garlic-minced

1 TBSP. olive oil

2 TBSP. chili powder

1/2 tsp. oregano

1- 28 oz. can organic diced stewed tomatoes with juice

1- 10 3/4 oz. can or box chicken broth

12 oz. water

1 green pepper-diced

1 cup frozen corn

1- 16 oz.can of black beans-rinsed

1-2 cups boned rotisserie chicken

Saute the onion, garlic and green pepper in the olive oil until they are tender.

Next, add all the remaining ingredients except the cooked chicken. Let this simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked, boned chicken and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve either alone or topped with a dallop of sour cream. Warm corn bread or tortillas also accompany this soup well.

Enjoy

Hiking vs. Walking

I have to get this off my chest and apologize to anyone who does not want to hear me gripe. If that’s the case, STOP reading now!

As you all know we are an active family. We often ask others to join us in our outdoor activities. The individuals that are asked are people we see often, enjoy each others company and typically have a good time together. When we ask them to stop over and share dinner, watch a movie or just to chat, they are all in. When we suggest a walk they start getting somewhat nervous, although at times, have joined us. But ask them to step out of their comfort zones and take a hike with us and excuse after excuse start to pour out of them.

Why I ask? I need some insight on this…please help me understand what is so scary about the word “hike” compared to the word “walk”. It is literally the same activity!!!!

I have thought about this many times. What dictates the difference between the two? Mileage, shoe of choice, elevation(if any), surroundings, terrain, duration, etc.?

I am well aware that we live in Wisconsin, the home of brats, beer and cheese. This should get me some dandy comments butttt ….are people in Wisconsin that lazy?

We all wonder why our kids are getting larger with every generation that passes. We wonder why health care costs what it cost. I’ll tell you why.  It’s because as parents, we are not good role models if all we do is sit on our rumps! It’s because our bodies were designed to move, not sit still.

The weather is finally getting nice. After two weeks of trying to make plans for a fun activity with some friends that would take place somewhere other than a couch, I have just given up.

I’ve decided to toss out an offer and let active people come to us instead. So,if you happen to be in the Wisconsin area and are ACTIVE, let us know. Many of my followers are hikers and we would not hesitate to get together for a hike, paddle, walk, or anything else for that matter.

 

My First Bestowed Box..My Thoughts

I have been debating trying the Bestowed gift box membership for a few months and finally decided to give it a try.

I am normally a person that likes to read labels, see the product before I buy it and compare prices. So in other words, I am cheap! My husband calls it thrifty…either way, it is what I am.

Often times I find myself in the organic isles of the store wondering, would this product taste good, is it worth the money, does the actual product really look like the picture on the box, is it even edible? Sadly, being the person I am, even if it is bad, I will still eat it simply because I paid money for it. This fact drives both my boys crazy. So, I figured this may be a way to try many different healthy products and not risk buying an entire box/jar/bag and choking it down because it taste so horrible. I will admit, I still don’t like not knowing what exactly my money is paying for until it arrives and I open the box. Although, I figure between the three of us, someone is bound to eat everything that is sent monthly.

For my very first box I did receive an email stating it was a box full of immunity boosting products. Cool, I can always use that being the germaphobe that I am. When it arrived I was excited to see what was considered “immunity boosting” products.

Here it is

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Stash Organic Lemon Ginger Tea

Nothing But Snack Bar-Ginger Lemon Cashew

Reed’s Ginger Candy Chews

Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter

Omega 3 Orange Squeeze Packets

Superfood Oat Based Cereal- Maca Double Chocolate Flavor

$40 off gift card to Hello Fresh Home Delivery Dinner Kits

And a nice pamphlet explaining what each product is and how to use it.

My first impression was good. I could see we would use almost everything that was sent. My son will love the tea. The snack bar will make a great post/pre workout snack. The peanut butter pack will go right into the snack bag for hiking. The oatmeal I will like trying and it even comes with it’s own spoon. (I thought this was pretty cool for travel or the office) The ginger chews I think we may all share.

The only two things I am not sure about are the omega 3 squeeze packets and the $40 off gift card to Hello Fresh. I know I will not be using the gift card since they do not deliver to our zip code area. And the omega 3 squeeze packets, I will have to research first. I don’t take many supplements, much less anything else for that matter.

After price checking everything, I came up to roughly $19.00 total, not including the gift card. The price of the monthly box is also $19.00. I honestly was surprised that the box full of goodies actually came close to that $19.00, so for now I think I will continue and see what happens in the upcoming months.

 

Would you ever try a monthly subscription box delivery service of some kind?

If so, what type: food, makeup/beauty, clothing, fitness gear/products/,baby/kids supplies,books, wine/beer, men’s grooming, crafting etc.?

***I was not offered anything by the Bestowed company and this is not a sponsored post. All the opinions are my own and monthly deliveries are paid by myself.

 

Spiced Chai Honey

Recently a friend of our son’s stopped over and presented him with this sweet concoction of honey to try. A few days later, he approached me and told me how wonderful it was in his tea. That was my hint to give it a try, which I did on my oatmeal the next morning. Oh my, it was fabulous.

I knew I was going to have to make more because between the two of us it was not going to last long. So I had him contact her for the recipe and permission for me to share it with all of you. My request was granted so here you are.

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Spiced Chai Honey

16 oz. honey

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. clove powder

1/2 tsp. cardamom powder

1 tsp. ginger powder

small pinch of ground black pepper

Mix all the spices with the honey until combined and enjoy.

We have already tried it in tea, warm unsweetened almond milk, on oatmeal and on toast with peanut butter which is heavenly.

A big thank you goes out to Brittany for sharing this with us:)

 

Trekking Poles…Yea or Nay?

A few years ago I received my first pair of trekking poles for an anniversary gift from my husband. Now, before all you place judgement, let me just say, I LOVED THEM. Instead of an easy buy, like roses, he actually put thought into this gift which meant more to me than anything.

Now back to the trekking poles…I had never used trekking poles before on any of our hikes so I really had no idea if I would like them or find them useless. I will be the first to admit, I am not very balanced on my feet. Especially in high elevations, which is typically what we hike. I also have the weakest ankles of anyone I know, so I figured they were worth a try. Even though he did not pay a great deal for my first pair, I have absolutely gotten every penny out of them. However, it was time to retire them after our trip to Zion National Park. They survived the entire trip, especially hiking through the Virgin River and assisted me well on the way back down from Angel’s Landing.

This time around I was along for the purchase of my new poles and knew exactly what I was looking for. I knew the pros and cons of having poles vs. not having them and what to look for in the different brands that are out there.

What I have learned from hiking with trekking poles:

PROS:

they improve your balance

they engage your upper body therefore causing less stress on your knees(this is a big plus)

they are helpful on slippery surfaces

they can be useful in pitching an emergency shelter

they assist in burning more calories using your upper body

they are very helpful crossing rivers and streams

they make a great weapon for any weirdos you may come across (you never know???)

CONS:

if you need your hands and feet to climb they may be in the way

they are difficult to use or carry in high vegetation areas

 

Obviously the cons are much less in my opinion. Although, I do not see many people here in WI using them while hiking, I did see them everywhere in Utah. I was somewhat nervous about taking them on our trip but upon arrival even our guides had their own pair.

While debating which new trekking poles to purchase, I was aware of a few things I wanted different this time around.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING TREKKING POLES:

Grip: Most grips are plastic, cork or foam. Plastic is durable, does not suck up water but are very cold in the winter months. Foam is comfortable but can tear off. Cork is hard and usually pretty tough. I would suggest you hold the handle in your hand in the store before purchasing. Some are larger, smaller, comfortable and not so comfortable. I went with soft plastic because we cross a lot of streams/rivers. I also don’t plan to need them if snow is on the ground.Try before you buy is my motto.

Pole construction:  Aluminum and carbon fiber are most popular. Both having there benefits and disadvantages. Do your research for the region you live to see what one will be best.

Shock Absorbers: I don’t know how I feel when it comes to this. My old ones had shock absorbers. My new ones do not. Would I have bought my new ones if they had shock absorbers? Yes. I really don’t know if I ever benefited from the shock absorbers but I also can’t say I was ever in a situation that I did not like them either.

Adjustment Mechanism: This is what finally failed on my poles. Again, let me say, they were well used though. This time around my husband said we were getting the lever locking mechanism instead of the twist and adjust type of mechanism. I did not have really any say in this area, he is the mechanical brain and the person that has to fix them when they no longer adjust. However, he did discuss this topic with one of our guides on our hiking trip and she did give him very good information regarding the lever locking poles vs. the twist mechanisms. If anyone should know, I feel she had enough miles on her hiking boots to trust her opinion.

Price: Trekking poles vary quite a bit in this area. My first poles were about $50 and lasted at least 5 years. No issues. I paid almost three times that for my new poles (below) and hope to never have to buy another pair again. You really have to do what’s best for you in this category.

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Trekking poles have made all the difference in my hiking experiences. I would highly recommend them if someone asked me my thoughts.

What do you think? Do you hike with them or without them?

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Highlights…Geocaching the Wiouwash Trail and A Treat

Today we ventured out for our first geocaching of 2014 on the Wiouwash State Trail.

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We could not have asked for a better day. The sun was shining brightly and temps were in the upper 50′s. I was SO happy to be out enjoying the sunshine. To our surprise so was everyone else. The parking lots were full. Kids, families and couples were walking, running and bike riding. We even ran into a family who were also geocaching.

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Our first cache was right next to the rivers edge. IMG_4128

A hard find considering there are tons of rocks we had to search through.

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I was excited to see a hill to climb to get back onto the main trail.

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Next, we headed back to the gravel part of the trail to continue our geocaching.

We passed areas of the lake that were still frozen.

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Although, a few more yards down the trail we saw a true sign of spring, pussy willows.

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Our last geocache of the day was the hardest find due to the thick brush it was hidden in. After searching for over 30 minutes, we finally found it.

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We stopped briefly for a snack of no bake granola balls and water.

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After this we decided it was time to head back to the trail head and call it a day. 4 miles of trail, 5 successful geo finds and a nice spring tan. Who could ask for anything more?

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But wait, were are not done yet! We decided to take a short drive to a nearby town searching for a park with a few more geocaches and came across this old fashioned ice cream drive in.

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I have not been to one of these in years and could not resist. I did not hesitate to say yes when my husband asked if I wanted to stop for ice cream.

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After this we decided to save the park for next weekend and head home for the day.

A great end to a bright sunny Sunday.

Hope your weekend was fun as well.

 

 

Do Your Workouts Change With The Seasons?

I never quite understood why about this time of year society starts “getting ready for swimsuit season.” Which made me wonder, does everyone change their workouts according to the seasons?

After thinking about this question for awhile I would say that, yes, my workouts do change from season to season somewhat. Although, I can assure you, it has nothing to do with looking good in a swim suit!!! It really depends on what I do during the day.

Take summer for example, I work over 10 hours a day Monday through Friday every week. However, in the summer at least 7 of that is outside. Add some hot, humid conditions to that 7 hours and a 3 mile walk is about all your going to get out of me after dinner. (Plus my daily 1 hour workout that I get in at nap time every day.) Weekends in the summer months are active from sun rise to sun set. So no scheduled workout is needed, much less possible.

With the arrival of fall things change a bit. This is normally when I start getting back to the gym on a regular basis. Along with my daily home workout, we will walk or get to the gym  every night during the week. Again, it really all depends on the amount of time I spend outside chasing little ones during the day.

Winter is when I really get into a routine. I love routine, so scheduling workouts just makes my day so much more manageable. I can plan dinner around what night of week it is (we don’t like big dinners on gym nights) and I can also plan appointments around what workout is planned.

Spring is when I struggle quite honestly. Which is where I am at right now. The weather is getting nicer and it’s daylight longer, so naturally I want to spend as much time outdoors as I can. Although, since my husband and I visit the gym together, it’s harder for me to just say I would rather walk instead of go to thy gym. He is enjoying the gym tremendously and for that I am very happy, BUT, I want to be outside! For now we are making it work although I am curious to see what happens when the spring weather is here to stay. I just hope we can find a schedule that fits both of our needs.

So tell me, do your workouts change from season to season? Is it to look better in a swimsuit or for another reason? For me, it’s all about being healthy, staying active and the feeling of happiness that exercise gives me.(You gotta love those endorphins)