Recent Favorite Finds

I am pretty excited and happy to share some of my favorite finds with you all today. I am not a big internet buff so I typically find my favorites in grocery stores and on trails…that of which I have not been able to enjoy much of yet this year. So if your into food and fun read on.

A few weeks ago I bought a jar of these and had to go back for three more jars to last me awhile. They are so fantastic and I love them as an afternoon snack.

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As I plan for our upcoming camping trip I happily came across a new to us dehydrated meal that I am excited to try. We have learned the hard way never to buy a different brand than what we like when that will be the only food source we have available while hiking. This however, will be an addition to a regular campsite meal so no one will be going hungry if it turns out to be horrible.

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We watch a lot of cooking shows on television and many use creole seasoning in their dishes. I have been dying to try this and finally found one in our local grocery store. I LOVE it. It is now my go to seasoning for anything that needs a bit of a kick.

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Have you  ever tried scrambling eggs in a Blender Bottle? We did and it was genius. So easy, fast, and simple. This would be awesome at a campsite….less mess:-)

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Applesauce is one of the dullest fruits in my opinion. Recently, when I was at a bed and breakfast we were served applesauce with a bit of fruit on top and now I add some fruit at home and my kids eat this up without any hesitation. They enjoy it more and so do I.

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One pot meals call to me in my sleep sometimes. OK, maybe not exactly, but when I dream of doing dishes it’s time to concentrate on making more one pot meals. And that is exactly what I have been concentrating on for family meals. This one was outstanding with pasta, shrimp, and veggies all cooked in one pot. Add the cheese at the end, stir, and serve. Now is that easy or is that easy?

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Remember those pancakes we tried to see if my stomach could handle keeping these down unlike all the other pancakes we have tried in the past? Well, I have good and bad news to share. First, the good news….they are probably the best pancakes I have ever tasted. Bad news, they still made me ill. (Do you want to know why…read here)

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That should do it for me today…..do you have anything to add?

Girls Weekend At My First Bed And Breakfast

I had such a relaxing weekend. There is something to be said about no television, no phone, no internet, no laundry, no dishes, no meals to prepare, and no kids!!!! We all need it sometimes and for the first time ever I kissed my husband good bye for an overnight adventure with a good friend.

We spent our Weekend in Door County, WI, not too far from home but far enough to still be wonderful. We shopped at the many, many shops…everything from clothing to candy.

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We drank numerous lattes at various coffee shops along the way.

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Ate some fabulous meals at some of Door Counties numerous restaurants.

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Was not surprised to still find winter in full force since Door County is known to always be at least 10 degrees colder than where I live.

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We experienced a gorgeous sunset on our way to our bed and breakfast after a full day of shopping.

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And had our first experience ever with a bed and breakfast that really was the perfect place to relax.

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The best part was breakfast was prepared for us, brought to our door, and served with a smile…..no whisks to clean, no dishes to wash, and no crumbs for us to pick up. Simply wonderful!!!!

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I arrived home 28 hours later feeling refreshed and ready to face another year until next time.

 

Rocky Mountains N.P., Grand Tetons N.P. or Shenandoah N.P.

I need some help from all my fellow hikers out there in cyber land. We are trying to plan our next big adventure and we all have different thoughts on what direction to go. And this time our plan is to drive and not fly. So this is really going to be an adventure. Although, our last vacation was also an adventure in itself flying…that is after we finally got off the ground, found our luggage twice, and rented a car to drive the remainder of the way home since the airlines could not seem to get us home for two more days. So driving it is because I am not ready to board another airplane any time soon.

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So I need some advice, thoughts, suggestions, and any information you can share in regards to these three national parks or their surrounding areas. Best hikes, best places to stay, things to do, and any things not to do.

Comment or email me at rednatural1973@gmail.com.

Thank You!!!!

 

 

A Taste Of Southern Living

Hello, hello!! It feels great to be home…although life has been crazy since we walked back in the door here, it’s still great to be home.

My family has spent the last week in the state of Tennessee and we had a great time living life southern style. I tried turnip green for the first time ever and loved them.

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We all enjoyed sweet tea at almost every meal.

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Southern hospitality is much better than midwest hospitality…let me tell you!

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And as a recommendation from a fellow blogger, one of the first things we made sure to try was pimento cheese spread. My son was very reluctant but ultimately, we ended up going through two packages of this fabulous cheese spread in the 6 days we were in the area. It is so yummy, I can’t wait to remake this recipe at home.

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And for me….well the temperature in this area in January is something to be so thankful for. I was thrilled to walk off the plane, pick up our rental vehicle, and see the temperature was 70 degrees at 6 p.m.. I told myself over and over all through the week, Karen it is January….and it is still COLD at home.

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In all honesty, this trip was quickly planned and we ended up replanning once before leaving home and once while sitting in airports delayed by ice storms all along the way. Originally, we were not planning on doing any hiking over three miles if at all, we knew we needed to do some business while in the area, and it was basically going to be a bonus if the area was snow free, warm and we could find time to have some fun. Well, we had much more fun than business and I am pretty proud of what we did with no training what so ever for this trip.

This is one amazing state to see and it was a great escape of the midwest winter I suffer through every year. I can’t wait to share more with you about what we all did in the area but for now here is s sneak peek.

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Twenty Three Years Ago….

Twenty three years ago my husband presented me with a beautiful diamond ring, his vow to love and cherish me forever, and to be by my side in sickness and in health.

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I am happy to say today we still love each other as much as we did all those years ago and maybe even more. We have both tested the limits in the sickness and the health department and have stuck by each others side through it all. The one big thing that has changed are that diamonds are not the key to my heart anymore. Yes they are beautiful, yes I would accept them if they were presented to me, but he knows exactly the type of rock I prefer if he is looking to make me a very happy wife. And thanks to all his hard work,  once again this year we spent another anniversary climbing/hiking the dusty, gritty, gorgeous rocks of the southwest in Sedona, Arizona this past week.

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This was dream come true!!!! We spent everyday on the desert trails hiking to some of the best places I have ever seen in my life.

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I can’t wait to fill you all in on our adventures in this area. We hiked 6 different hikes, had some awesome meals on the hotel balcony overlooking the mountain sunsets and relaxed in a pool and it’s the end of October. Now that right there is amazing in itself being we are from the midwest and its already WAY TO COLD HERE TO SWIM!!!

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Thanks honey for a fabulous 23 years……I love you!

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More to come real soon….

 

Trip Planning Takes Time

One common question I am asked when it comes to our trip planning is…. how do I decided where to go and what we need?

My answer to this common question is…..I go where there is something we will all enjoy and I do research sometimes for months before making our packing list.

And that is when everyone rolls their eyes and says…..and that’s vacation to you???

I simply answer….YES!

Planning an active vacation is very rewarding to me. Accomplishing what I have planned is even more rewarding. Coming home after seeing things we have never seen before and having memories that will last a lifetime is honestly, something I can’t even put into words.

After answering numerous emails on how to plan a vacation like this I decided to write this post to inspire everyone to just go for it. If you have a dream vacation and it involves a lot of planning just take it one step at a time and before you know it you will be there living your dream.

This is how I plan an active vacation in order of importance:

#1Destination and # of people: The first thing I do when I plan one of our adventure trips is figure out where we are headed and who is all coming. This is vital because climate plays a big part in what we need as does the number of people coming which makes the food list bigger or smaller. This is what I actually took inventory of this weekend. I dug out our supply of dried meals and wrote down everything we have at home so I can start making our meal plans for our upcoming Superior Hiking Trip. After taking inventory, I then sat down with my husband and son and we decided who wants what meal and if we need to purchase any more before the trip.

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#2 Means of travel: The next big thing is how are we getting there. Plane, boat, car, etc.. I research nearest airports if we are flying, check out rental car rates, shuttles or transfers. If we are driving, this is simply getting the directions and deciding how far to travel each day to reach our destination. Another very important thing if driving is to make sure you have the proper vehicle type if you plan to do any back roads.

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#3 What we plan to do while there: This is by far the part that takes the most time. Typically, we hike when we go on vacation. So I need to find trail maps, check if permits are needed, check for shuttles to trail heads if needed, watch the weather forecast if hiking in/near canyons, and read what others have said about the trails we plan to hike.

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#4 Hotel, resort, campsite: This is another part of planning that can be either easy or hard depending on where we are headed. For instance, when we hiked Michigan’s Pictured Rocks Lakeshore finding a hotel was easy. We had no problem finding a nearby hotel for a reasonable price. When we hike in Zion National Park, this needed some planning ahead. Hotels near national parks book up fast so planning ahead makes all the difference especially in price. Early is cheaper and you have more selection. Campsites in national parks book even faster and honestly, after hiking the mountains of Zion, I need the comfort of a real bed and would pay almost anything for it. (We have a favorite if your searching for one near the park)

#5 Packing list: This is probably the biggest and will ultimately make or break the entire trip. Being prepared for what you have planned is vital to having fun. In many remote places supplies are very limited and if you do find them they are extremely expensive. My motto is, bring what you can from home even if it cost you another checked bag on the airlines. If you don’t, your likely to spend more than that trying to find what you forgot and paying for it when you do find it. If your driving, this is not an issue because there is always more room somewhere.

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6# Relax: This is the one thing I learned on our first trip to Utah. We went from sun up to sun down without one single day to relax and rest. It was torture on our bodies. So now I plan every day we are gone except one. One day is simply set aside to rest which clearly is needed by all.

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#7 Have a backup plan: Things can and almost always will go wrong during any vacation. It’s best to make a backup plan for these instances. From flight delays, flat tires, to torrential rain/snow…..all this can make a vacation plan impossible. In our experience we have been snowed out completely from one vacation and never left Green Bay. This was devastating and we could do nothing about it. On another vacation our road to camp was washed out by flooding and we had no where to stay until almost half way to our destination. However, this was not our problem. Thankfully, this was our first and only guided vacation we ever took so the company worked on this dilemma from cell phone the entire three hour drive to our destination and we all ended up in resorts for the week. On our last vacation we luckily hiked one trail the day we did because the next day it was closed off for the entire day for a rescue of a fallen hiker into the canyon. So believe me, things happen whether in your control or not, they happen.

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#8 Be realistic: Don’t forget you are on vacation. Don’t book yourself and your family so tight that you forget to smell the roses. Take it in, enjoy the ride and make the memories last.

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These are probably the most important pointers I can give while planning an adventure vacation. Of course most would say that money should be one of these pointers also but as you can see I did not touch on this one. Why you might ask? Well, in my opinion, if you don’t have the money to spend on a vacation you would not be inquiring on how to plan a vacation. I cannot tell you how to save money for such an adventure, only you know what you can stash away and how long it will take you to get the amount you need. And since that amount differs greatly from place to place, I did not add finances to the list. I believe if you want/need a vacation bad enough everyone can stash away a bit from their daily lives to eventually make this dream come true.

If you have any you would like to add please feel free to leave a comment. I am sure I missed something and you may be able to offer another suggestion.

 

 

 

Looking Back At 2015

About this time every year I find myself looking back at the year and like many of you, looking forward to the next year to come. 2015 for our family was not a typical year, from beginning to end, it seemed to challenge our strength as a family both mentally and physically. However, I will say, I do feel like we won this battle and came through it pretty well.

Take a look back with me,

January 2015

I experienced my first dislocated rib while working out and preparing for our rock scrambling vacation in February. Very painful!!!

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February 2015

Our rock scrambling vacation we had prepared for for months was suddenly cancelled due to a major snow storm and no flights were coming or going. We were completely disgusted for weeks….

March 2015

I celebrated a birthday this month with a venture out of the house and some first steps of the year on a muddy trail.

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April 2015

I finally decided to see a doctor for a sore foot I had been having for a few months. After testing and imaging I found out I had torn two tendons in my ankle. Which resulted in some new footwear for weeks.

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On the brighter side, my husband picked up his brand new Jackson kayak this month.

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May 2015

After 6 weeks in that orthopedic boot I thought I was going to go see my doctor and he would say everything looks good and I could remove it. Well, that was not quite what I heard from him. He said I still had two weeks to go, but now I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I wore the boot. I took that line,”anything I want” very seriously and left two days later for a hiking trip to our favorite WI state park. Thanks to my husband and son, I made it to the top of the bluff and back down again with that horrendous contraption on my leg. Let me tell you, IT WAS NOT EASY BUT I (we) DID IT!

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June 2015

I finally was able to remove my ortho boot and what happens next…..my husband suffers a sudden back injury that literally changes our entire summer outlook. After a day of lake kayaking and standup paddling where we were rained on all day, we returned home that night with him feeling pain in his leg.

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After numerous tests, doctors, and images, we had a diagnosis that we were hoping not to hear. Next would be physical therapy for weeks, a lifting restriction for quite sometime, and learning how to do things differently for the rest of his life. This took some soul searching and a lot of praying that he could eventually recover enough to continue doing what we love to do again.

July 2015

This month was the start of a few months of physical therapy which we all tried helping with. He did seek professional help for awhile but after some time his neurologist thought he could accomplish more on his own. Most people need a therapist because they are so inactive that they don’t know where to start. We, however, are very active and just needed to know the basics of what would give him the biggest benefits toward his recovery. We found all sorts of ways to do physical therapy.

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Resistance Bands:

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Walking:

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August 2015

After all that therapy he was given the ok to go on our planned family vacation which just so happened to be hiking in the desert southwest in extreme heat and with extreme elevation. He was limited on backpack weight and was not allowed to even touch our luggage but could hike as far as his body allowed him to hike(as the doctor kindly stated). So we did. And it turned out spectacular!

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September 2015

We returned from vacation, rested up for two weeks and hit the trail again, only a little closer to home this time. We headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hiked the Chapel Loop together….10.6 miles in a day.  IMG_2530

He was still feeling some discomfort but by now we had learned how to deal with any pain he was having. We would rest when the pain started or soaking his foot in cold water was also a nice way to help decrease his discomfort.  IMG_1798  IMG_2661

I also got away in September for a girls day to Cranberry Fest. We had a blast!

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October 2015

October is when we celebrated our 22nd. wedding anniversary. We did this with a overnight trip to Sister Bay, WI at the Birchwood Lodge.

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November 2015

The beginning of this month we found ourselves, yet again, among numerous medical professionals supporting my father-in-law with a major surgery.

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Also this month my husband and I went on a shopping trip to my all time favorite city….Schaumburg, Illinois. I begged him to join me last year and he agreed. This year he offered to join me since we had so much fun last time. I think I may have a shopping partner (package carrier) for life:) Whoo Hoooo!  IMG_2888

December 2015

As predicted by weather forecasters, it had been a pleasant December. One of the best ways for me to celebrate a no snow December is to continue hiking which is exactly what we did. Here is where we spent Christmas Day as a family with sun in our eyes and doing what we love…..hiking.

(photo courtesy of our son, Quade Byrnes)

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So there you have it. Our year from start to finish. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride this year. Among so may other exciting things that have happened throughout the year, I am happy to see this year is now behind us.

My hopes for next year, of course, are to continue to stay healthy. We miss our kayaks severely, have not touched a golf disc in months, and are very excited to be traveling more in the upcoming months.