Brrrrrrr….It’s Getting Chilly

Oh boy, it’s getting chilly outside already.

Which in my house means it’s time for pumpkin muffins, comfort food and dinner meals to be enjoyed indoors again instead of outside on the porch. Some of our favorites are beef stroganoff, chicken piccata,  and homemade potpie with a corn bread crust.

chicken piccata

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Soon enough we will be arguing about when it’s cold enough to turn on the heat, if there is enough ice to ice fish on safely (which in my opinion, there is never enough to do this sport SAFELY) and we will need to adjust the alarm clock for yet another hour earlier for the predicted snowstorm to dump on us overnight and my husband to still make it to work on time. It’s amazing how much 3a.m. differs from 4a.m. when ultimately, its only an hour difference. But that hour makes all the difference in the world to me.

Our leaves have started falling and are adding color to our lawn.

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Workouts are easier and much cooler to do at this time of year. And ironically enough, the sun going down sooner makes me even more motivated to go to the gym in the evening. I always feel like in the summer months, I am wasting daylight going to exercise in a gym surrounded by four walls and lights. So, it getting dark a bit earlier I don’t mind so much at this stage.

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Soon, I need to go through my backpack and add some hand warmers, an extra pair of socks, and I will be able to take out the bug spray and head nets, which is always a good swap in my mind. And hopefully we will find time to start geocaching again, along with finishing a trail we started mid summer, and also get in a bit more disc golf before the nets are all taken down for the winter.

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Well, that’s it for me right now. Morning comes early and I have a full crew arriving bright and early. My hope is to have some crock pot recipes for you all real soon….that is if all goes well this week and I find time to type. If not you can rest assured that I made it, ate it,and enjoyed it, but just didn’t get time to type it up cause I was hiking, exercising, or just having fun doing other things in the great outdoors.

 

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Writing It Down Helps Me Stay Accountable

After lasts weeks events that I would rather forget than rehash here for you all, I knew I somehow just needed to get to the gym and have a good ole “sweat it out” session in my zone. From Sunday to Thursday it was chaos….literally, not a day went by without some issue that needed attention. By Thursday evening I was on brain overload and just needed to walk away and let everything be what it was meant to be. I told my husband I was going to the gym one way or another and just needed my hour of physical release.

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After I finished working out, I felt amaaaazzziiinnnggg!!!! I know exercise is my cure all for stress. I just wish there was more time in a day, less chores that needed to be done, and more energy in my body after a long day. Which made me think back when I would write out my weekly workout plan. For some reason, when its written I seem to follow it. When I think it…sometimes things come up and I remember I had intended on exercising but forgot until I was physically done for the day. Maybe it’s like a food journal….when you write down everything you eat sometimes you wonder….wow, did I really need that handful of candy, maybe that extra piece of pizza, and so on.

So, not so much for all of you but more for myself, (since this blog is sort of a  journal of our life that I hope to look back on someday) I have decided to write out my weekly workout plan which I hope will help me stay focused and follow throughout the week.

Sundays is when I plan to post the upcoming weeks plan. Now maybe you will find this inspirational  and maybe you will find this not worth reading at all. However, sometimes we all need to do something for ourselves that we know works and will help keep us on the right track. So I apologize if it is of no interest to you but if it is, I hope you find it inspirational and maybe motivating.

With no further explanation needed…..here is what the week ahead looks like:

Sunday: gym/weights/walk

Monday: off…evening appt. to attend

Tuesday:steps/walk

Wednesday:gym/weights

Thursday:walk

Friday: off

Saturday: gym/steps

My hope is to attend the gym at least three times a week. Although, I will admit, it may be mostly on the weekends. Our gym is under major construction right now and the weekends are much quieter than the weekdays. And don’t forget we are in the middle of training for our trip so we need to fit in mileage and stair climbing also.

Uggg, it simply sounds exhausting but that is exactly why I am writing it down since I know it helps me stay accountable.

Wish me luck….Off to the gym I go

 

 

 

Moments That Have Made Me Smile

It no secret that once autumn rolls around my mood is affected drastically by the thought of winter on its way. Having seasonal depression is rough but as of lately I have been enjoying the moments that bring me a smile.

Recently, I visited a festival with some friends and we saw some of the strangest art work I have ever seen. Imagine this on your back patio….

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Oh, how I wish I could have these bright, beautiful flowers around my home all winter long.

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I took a leap of faith a few weeks ago on our last visit to REI and bought a new pair of trail shoes. I have always been a KEEN lover but these Oboz were on sale and they had my size but they were out of my size in the KEEN style I liked. I tried them on and thought, why not. REI has the best return policy ever, so I knew if I ended up hating them I could always return them for a full refund. After wearing them for a few weeks, I am happy to report I am walking around with a smile on my face and my feet feel great. I am still sticking with my KEEN boots for the trail but for my everyday shoes, these will be just fine.

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In all honesty, this is not something that brought a smile to my face but it did give me a good laugh. While out with a few friends recently we came across a vendor selling chocolate dipped bacon. I like chocolate and I like bacon but mixed together….ahhhh, I was hesitant!!! Well, one friend bought a piece and we all tried a bite. For a whopppping $5 a slice (this is what made me laugh….are you kidding me….$5 A SLICE) I can honestly say it was not my thing. Way to sweet,way to much chocolate, and no way should bacon ever be combined with chocolate.

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However, as for these yummy little balls of chocolate….I would highly recommend them to anyone craving a chocolate treat that is actually healthy for you. These are sure to bring a smile to anyone that likes chocolate.

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And one last thing…..I often have moments throughout my day that bring me happiness caring for children on a daily basis. Yes, we have stressful moments, some meltdowns, and times of complete chaos….but….the genuine moments are the ones that I wish I could freeze in time. That innocence of ahhh and wonder in every child’s eye when they stand back and just take in what nature has to offer makes me smile. How precious life can be if everyone could experience it through a child’s eye.

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On the exercise side of life, steps have gotten quite a bit easier than when we first started training on these dreaded things. My hips, knees, and legs don’t ache for hours afterwards anymore like they used to. And I can say with a smile on my face, I actually think I may included these in our exercise routine even after our Sedona vacation is over with.

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What is something that has brought a smile to your face lately?

Do you suffer from seasonal depression?

How do you cope?

Planning Equals Perfection: Making That First Hike A Success

You all know I am from Wisconsin and if you don’t love brats, cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and beer you are definitely labeled an outsider. So ultimately, I am one of the biggest outsiders living in my zip code. Which is why I write this blog…..to show everyone  that there is more to life than brats, cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and beer.

Wisconsin has so much to offer if you love water, trees, trails and snow. Now, you all know I will not be focusing on snow today since I have a love/hate relationship with that cold, white stuff that falls from the skies for months every year. I love when it melts and hate to see it return a few months later…..so like I said…..a love/hate relationship! Today I would rather focus on the other three months of the year….summer, spring and fall in Wisconsin. Fall is the best time, in my opinion, to hike Wisconsin trails. It’s cool, crisp, and beautiful. Spring and summer are not bad either if you like it a bit muddy in the spring and can ignore the numerous bugs Wisconsin has to offer in the summer months. Which most of us that live here learn to tolerate at some point.

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Since hiking is something I truly love to do, I have been urging a friend of mine to give it a try and take that first step onto a dirt trail. Although, she has always been hesitant since #1 she has never really hiked before, #2 she is afraid of the unknown, and #3 she has no idea where to go do this. Well, say no more, I can fix all these….well almost all these. Let’s face it, aren’t we all afraid of the unknown???

As soon as she said she was willing, I said I was able and I began planning a day I knew she would enjoy. I began by finding a location somewhere close to home since we only had a day. I also wanted to make sure I included a variety of activities so she would enjoy herself but at the same time not stress about the actual hike itself. It also made it very helpful to me to know what her activity level is. This is what I based the trail distance on….I knew anything over 4 miles would be a stretch.

The hike part of our day ended up being at a popular county park I am very familiar with and we hiked the gorgeous wooded trail along the bluffs of Lake Michigan.

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We had the perfect day for this adventure. The park was busy but not too busy, temps were perfect for hiking, and the bugs were tolerable for this time of year. We even had the pleasure of witnessing one couple exchange vows on the bluff of Lake Michigan….so beautiful.

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I concentrated on finding a trail that offered a bit of difficulty since I know she is one to challenge herself.

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Distance was about 2 miles roundtrip with many places to sit and rest if needed.

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It was cool along the waters edge since I knew she is not fond of heat. And I was familiar with this trail since hiking it many, many times in the past gave her the confidence that I knew where we were going on how we were going to return.

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Planning a hike for someone who has never hiked before only takes a bit of thought. Even if you are strangers, asking a few general questions from them before choosing a trail will almost always guarantee a successful hike. Have some water and a few snacks ready to offer at the end of the hike and you will be set to enjoy a day on the trail.

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Here are a few more photos from our day .

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Homemade Fajita Seasoning

I am a southwest food fanatic. I could eat tacos, fajitas, and salsa every day. Lately, I have been working on coming up with my own fajita and taco seasoning mixes since store bought mix packets seem like such a waste of money.

Well, I think I have the mixture for fajitas that I like. After much trial and error this is what it ended up being. Give it a try if you enjoy fajitas as much as I do.

Fajita Seasoning

4 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp salt

1 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp cayenne powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Mix this all together in a glass jar with a tight fitting cover. Use the desired amount of mix you prefer for chicken, pork, beef, bean or sausage filling.

I recently prepared mine with cut up chicken sausages with sliced onions and peppers. It was fabulous.

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Week Recap In Pictures

I told you this week was going to be a hectic one and I was absolutely right….here is a quick recap in pictures.

fast dinner of sauteed chicken brats with sweet onions and peppers with homemade fajita seasoning

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nap time pick me up of coconut chai tea and almond milk…..yummmm

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another fast dinner of turkey burger mixed with Trader Joes Cowboy Caviar over rice

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stress food….everyone has those days……RIGHT?

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dinner out with my brother….pulled pork nachos….super yummmmm!!!!

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STILL waiting for my favorite nearby trail to reopen….its been under maintenance for weeks already

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shorter days are coming and my “sunshine vitamin” was on sale so I picked it up….I need to be prepared for those long months of winter…..uggggg!

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weeknight trail walk with a friend

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homemade chili dinner….an easy make ahead and reheat dinner for crazy busy nights

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all this plus 55 hrs of work with my little munchkins

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Which brings us to today….finally Friday. I must say, with training for our upcoming vacation, tending to daily life, working, and throwing in a few appointments four nights this weeks, I am proud of us. We held it together, only missed one evening of exercise, and still found time to enjoy ourselves throughout the week.

 

 

Saturday Morning With The Pitter Patter Of Rain On The Roof Top

Saturday morning I was awakened by the pitter patter of rain which was music to my ears. There is nothing worse than having a “to do” list a mile long, the day off, and gorgeous sunny skies that just call your name to come out and have fun in. Clearly, we are very limited on our summer weekends here in the midwest. However, sometimes I really just need to have a full day to get things done and that is exactly what a rainy day offers me…the chance to not feel terrible wasting a sun filled summer day to do chores.

First thing off the list was to load up the SUV with every comforter, rug, and pillow we own in our house and off to the laundry mat we went. We prepared the washers, grabbed some magazines and read about summer fun while we waited….all while it was raining a steady stream of moisture from the skies above.

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After this I returned home to prepare a big batch of vegetable soup to freeze since this is one of my favorite grab and go lunches in the fall of the year.

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I even blended a few containers for my babies to enjoy for lunch. I typically offer my daycare parents the choice whether to bring store bought baby food or have home made baby food prepared at our home. Most jump at the offer of homemade since many families don’t cook on a regular basis these days.

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I then needed to run a few errands, stop at the library to pick up some more audio books for my husband, finished cleaning the house, and then it was time for me to do something fun. All my chores were complete, the sun was trying hard to peak through the clouds and I was feeling good about my progress on the “to do” list. Our son was camping with friends, my husband was heading out to fish for awhile which, ultimately, left me alone and free to do as I wish.

I grabbed my workout bag to head to the gym for a Saturday sweat session and to also see the progress of the new remodel our gym is going through. We sort of have the inside scoop on this, since our son is the assistant manager at the gym, but I really wanted to see for myself how its coming along. I have no pics since I forgot my camera at home, but its coming along quite nicely. It’s a mess as of right now but I am sure it will be worth it in the end. I am really pumped to see the new cardio equipment they are bringing in….I hear its going to be really nice…..shhhh!

After the gym I did a little shopping. I am on a mission to find some new outfits to wear in Sedona in a few weeks.

The week ahead looks to be jammed packed with things that just all fell on the same week. We have a plan all worked out to stay on track with our active vacation training plan but I believe by Friday I may be exhausted with everything else added to the week. Although, having a plan is half the battle and we already have that so I feel confident we can try and make this work.

You all have a great week and I will stop back in for a quick hi later in the week if I can find some spare time. If not, hold your head high, smile and don’t forget to breathe…..that’s what I will be doing all week long.

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