We Still Do….After 25 Years

This past week we spent as a family in Sedona, Arizona to celebrate our 25th anniversary. To celebrate this occasion we did something somewhere very special to us and it could not have been more perfect.

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That picture right there is Doe Mountain…a place that will forever have great meaning in our hearts. That is where I dreamed of saying I Do all over again and my dreams came true on this day.

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We married very young, we have had many struggles, we have gone through many things together and never once have we left each others side through it all. Today, looking back, I can honestly say that it all made us stronger and so much more grateful for each other. So to make it to this milestone in our lives together where we could celebrate in a big way was something we worked very hard to do. We came up with the idea a year ago to renew our wedding vows on our anniversary but I wanted to do this at the top of this mountain…not on ground level. Yes, crazy I am…..but I was determined to find a minister that could and would be willing to make this happen for us. So I started contacting ministers in the Sedona area and I was quickly shot down by six of them as soon as they heard my destination. That is, until I contacted the 7th one on my list and after talking with him, he kindly agreed to hike with us to the top, let us pick our place atop the summit, and perform the ceremony all while our son photographed the entire time.

On Tuesday, October 23, 2018 we arrived at the trailhead parking lot and waited patiently the arrival of our minister, Reverend Ken Froessel.

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We said our hellos and began our hike up the mountain.

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This was to be a completely casual affair. However, our kind and thoughtful minister asked if we would mind if he changed into his hiking boots to make the climb instead of his normal wedding attire shoes he arrived in. I simply said of course, we are planning to wear our boots, he may as well also.

We said our vows on this point looking out into the canyon. It was perfect. Something we will never forget.

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After all was said and done we took some more pictures, he presented us with a copy of the vows we had just promised to each other, and then said our goodbyes as he headed back down the mountain while we stayed up to enjoy more of the summit.

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It was a dream come true. A day that will forever hold great meaning in our hearts.

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I could not be more honored to be married to this man. He is my rock….the person that I know, no matter what, I can lean on. Here’s to many more ahead of us babe.

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A Way Over Due Brain Dump….

It’s been over a month since I have been here to chat and I apologize. Sorry!

I thought of naming this post a “coffee date” but in all honesty, I need a nice tall, cold glass of something much stronger than coffee to take away all that has happened in the past month. So let’s just have a good old brain dump of sorts.

First, our 80/20 eating plan of meat/fish/chicken only twice a week and plants the remainder of the week is going fabulous. If you wish to read why this all came about click on Scared Healthy. Actually, there are many weeks we eat meat only once a week. I don’t miss it at all and surprisingly my husband does not either. In fact, the other day he said he would really like to have sloppy joes for dinner and I simply looked at him and said really, ground meat sloppy joes or what? And he said, can you make it any other way….I mentioned maybe lentil sloppy joes and he shook his head and said sure why not, let’s try it. MY HUSBAND…I can’t believe this to this day, ate lentil sloppy joes and said he liked them and they could be added to the make again cookbook. IMG_1688

Another big hit recently was my remake of mushroom reuben sandwiches. I had went with a friend of mine to lunch one day and this was on the menu. I love reubens so I had to give this version a try. I was blown away….it was fantastic and I told her right away I think this would be great to try on my husband. Sure enough, the next weekend I prepared these for him and I was right, he gave them a thumbs up in the first bite.

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Speaking of scared healthy, the family member that started this transition for my husband to finally eat more plants did not win his fight against heart disease. Sadly, we attended his funeral a month after fighting for his life. And if that was not enough, his wife also passed away 3 weeks later of what most say was also heart disease, but in my opinion it was more of a broken heart.

Training for our up coming mountain hiking trip has been difficult to say the least. Hills have not happened in two weeks due to non stop rain. I have never seen so much rain here in WI. And distance hiking on the weekends has been about all we have been able to accomplish. Plus, I have been going to the gym in the wee hours of the morning on a pretty regular schedule. So exercise is getting fit in just not according to the original plan.

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Another big change in the past month has been that we decided that I needed to cut back on working. I have done childcare in my home for well over 20 years and with my husbands new position and added travel I just could not find enough time to keep up with everything plus all his responsibilities if he was on the road for an extended period pf time. So ultimately, something had to change and this was the logical thing to change. I have dropped the number of children I care for per day and I have lessened the number of days per week I offer care. Which, in the long run, should give me one whole day extra to do life things, home chores, and maybe even get back to finding time to have some me time once again. It sure was hard to make this decision and I had to say good bye to some of my little loves, but I know when things settle down once again I should be in a better spot.

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And last but not least, and by far the biggest change in the past month has been our big shade tree…..

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now looks like this. 20180927_134318

This, for me, is an experience I NEVER want to relive as long as I live. It was the scariest, most horrifying job anyone could get up and go do every single day. We hired a climbing professional to remove our tree limb for limb. It was in a very tight spot, could have easily taken out three homes….ours being one of them, we were not allowed in our home during this process, and I am so thankful it’s down and no one got hurt. Damage wise, well, the very last branch from the very top did fall on the back corner of our home but left very little damage considering what could have been. Another branch did damage our fence but all in all it went well. All the repairs have been made and soon we will have a nice green area once again. I will leave you with some pictures and hope that soon I will get back to a normal blogging schedule once again. I just need life to settle back into a new normal and then all shall return to normal here on Natural Red. On that note, the removal our our huge shade tree went a bit like this.

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My Husband Has Been Scared Healthy….And Now We Are Eating Plant Based Meals Almost Exclusively

Yes, you have read that correctly. WE, as in both of us, are now eating plant based meals 80% of the time. And the best part is, it was my husbands request. I still can’t believe it but I am not going to dare question it. It’s a dream come true for this girl!

Let’s begin back about three weeks ago when we got a call that a family member was having some health issues. OK we thought, nothing we all have not been through before…right? Well, those health issues turned major very quickly and then other things happened and wow, it just all went south from there. So needless to say, we have spent way to much time in this waiting room praying with cousins, aunts, and friends the last few weeks. As of today we all continue to keep praying and hoping for the best outcome.IMG_2868

All this along with a few other things made my husband really look at the big picture. This is now two people in his family that have went through the same big surgery and one survived and is doing ok and one if fighting for his life as we speak. Seeing a loved one in this condition is heartbreaking. You feel helpless, angry, and lost all at the same time. After two visits and numerous setbacks, I could see it was hitting home with my husband. Maybe everything I have been begging to change in our diets is worth trying. Maybe I am not just over exaggerating everything I have researched and have studied to keep us as healthy and active as possible as we age. Although, I said nothing…he had enough going through his head at this time. So when I got an email a few days later from him stating he wants to try going more plant based with our meals and also, when possible, cut out dairy, I was ALL IN!!! I did, however, ask what this meant to him and he simply stated, lets try eating meat/fish/chicken only twice a week and the remaining meals he wants all plant based. I knew right then, this was my chance to run with this. He was scared once two years ago with his own father in this same hospital unit, but this time he has been scared healthy.

So, where has this lead us? Well, its only been two weeks since we have begun and I must say I am loving it all so far. However, its been a challenge at times. The first week was great. We were home and I prepared dinner every night with success and no complaints. Here is a picture of my homemade ramen noodle veggie bowls. OMG, it was fabulous and oh, so filling. It was homemade broth with Thai curry and a ton of veggies over plain ramen noodles. YUMMMM!!!!

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The second week was tougher since he was away the entire week for work and was on his own for meals. Although, I did what I always do and made him a care package of meals for the road that he can use either for his lunches or snacks when time is tight or he just gets hungry. The difference this time was his care package was all plant based meals/snacks.

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I am still experimenting with a lot of recipes and ideas and hope to start mealtime blogging once again. I am still meal prepping which I am a firm believer it saves so much time during the week for me. This week, for instance, I prepped peppers/carrots for hummus dipping, zucchini, leek, and bok choy for a veggie lo mein I am making. and fresh fruit and eggs whites for breakfast.

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Right now flying solo at home, working, and training for our upcoming hiking trip leaves me very little time to blog. I will say, I am hopeful this way of eating sticks since I hope to never have to live the pain and agony we are living right now watching our loved one fight for his life. I will do my best to start taking pictures of meal time and share them with you whenever I have a moment.

I truly believe you are what you eat and food is medicine.

 

My New Kitchen Tool

I finally bought it! I have been debating this kitchen tool for over a year now and finally pulled the trigger. It’s nothing fancy, nothing new to the market, and not a fad like the Instapot craze…..it’s a simple toaster oven.

I know, I know, they have been around forever. My husband actually grew up having one in his childhood home his entire life. Although, I did not and never found the need to have one since I always found myself cooking for a family. However, now I will admit….I love it!!! Since becoming empty nesters and often times finding my husband gone for work and only myself to cook for, this is so much faster, easier, and cooler in the summer months.

So far I have made a small casserole for myself and the daycare children for lunchtime.

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I have also made fish,

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chicken and cheese tortilla melts,

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stuffed zucchini boats, IMG_1449

along with sweet potato fries, nachos, black bean burgers, and pizza melts.

I love that it takes minutes to preheat, minutes to cook, and does not heat up my entire kitchen to prepare one/two serving dishes.

Little by little I am learning how to revamp my/our life to be a family of one or two and occasionally three when our son stops back in to eat at home. I am loving trying new veggie packed recipes that I could never get away with in the past. And believe it or not, being empty nesters is working out pretty well for us all. I am happy, dad is happy and spends more quality time with our son than before, and our son seems pretty happy himself being on his own. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all my 9×13 casserole dishes since I don’t see a lot of usage for them anymore.

So tell me all you other empty nest parents out there…..what was the biggest change when your kids moved out on their own? Was it cooking, cleaning, living a childless lifestyle, reconnecting with your spouse, etc?

 

Recent Meals….Still Learning To Cook For Two

I have been so busy that remembering to take a picture at meal time has been forgotten quite often. Although, don’t fret, I have been cooking as usual but gosh have things changed when it comes to cooking and grocery shopping.

Here are a few meals we have enjoyed recently. My husband has always wanted to take a steak, chop it up, and make a hamburger patty out of it to see what the difference is from ground beef. Well, this finally happened and surprisingly it was pretty darn good. I am not a big beef fan so I was hesitant to try it. However, I must admit, I believe we may have it again since it was so good. IMG_1363

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One evening we had sweet chili chicken, couscous salad, and zucchini.

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Another evening was lemon shrimp with capers and spinach over pasta.IMG_6939

And last I want to tell you about this fabulous sauce I picked up on my last trip to Trader Joes. Gyoza dipping sauce has become a new favorite around here. One night I prepared this chicken veggie stirfry and another night I finished the bottle by tossing together a chicken and leek skillet meal that we simply loved. Each took about half the bottle…so two meals out of one jar. Like usual, I wish I would have bought more but you never know when something new comes out if you will like it or not. However, I am already researching how to make my own Gyoza sauce….and it looks pretty darn simple. IMG_1384

Let’s touch on grocery shopping here quickly. In all honesty, I am still adjusting to buying and feeding two people at meal time. I even have found myself able to use a small cart at the store instead of the jumbo grocery carts. IMG_1362

It takes me less time to put groceries away once I arrive home. And I never use all my reusable grocery bags anymore like I once did before. And the bill at checkout time is a shocker…but I am loving it. So little by little I am adjusting to the new way of meal planning and shopping. Now if only they would make hamburger/hotdog/ and bread loaves in half sizes….I would be very thankful!

Our First Dinner At Our Sons New Place….A Dream Come True For This Mom!

Alright, I have something amazing to tell you all. Maybe this won’t seem amazing to many of you but to this mom it was SIMPLY AMAZING!

This past weekend we were invited over to our sons new place for our first dinner that he prepared, served, and cleaned up. Yes, dad helped since it was both of them that caught the evenings feast but I did nothing what so ever to lend a hand. IMG_1376

At one point I entered the kitchen to wash my hands and was told to get out of his kitchen! With pleasure my dear son.

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A few weeks ago they went fishing together and caught quite the bounty of fish.

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And this was the night we ate there catch and let me tell you…. it was delicious. Almond battered fish and homemade tartar sauce with fresh broccoli salad was on the menu.

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My boys did a great job…it was fabulous. And watching them work together in the kitchen, of all places, was quite the pleasure to be completely honest. IMG_1379

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This mom makes 95% of everything we eat so having them serve me was a dream come true. I can’t tell you how proud it makes me to see him become the adult he has become. I know its only been about two months since he has moved out but from what I can see so far, he is going to do just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Adventures: It’s Just Too Hot To Stay Home

In Wisconsin you can usually count on a few days each summer that it gets hot….I mean really HOT!!!! Add some wicked humidity and that is a great combo for sickness and heat exhaustion if you do anything outside for an extended period of time. However, I am a summer lover and refuse to miss even one weekend inside. So I had to think fast and come up with a plan for this past weekend since it was hot…..added with the humidity levels we all had here and we were easily above 100 degrees. Thankfully we are surrounded by water and many times the lake shores are much cooler. So that is where we headed and believe it or not, the temps varied greatly from place to place all day.

First, we started our day at a new park we stumbled upon. Lakeside Park is located in Jacksonport, WI and right along Lake Michigan. The main reason for stopping was to use the facilities but often times these are the times we find the best spots with very little people.

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A nice area to park, great playground that is well kept for children to enjoy, bathrooms, and a short walk to a public beach(no lifeguards….swim at your own risk). If you can tolerate the water temperatures of Lake Michigan this would be perfect since it was not packed at all. Truthfully, it was us and one other lady. Not bad for a quick last minute stop.

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Next, we headed to our actual destination. Our whole goal of the day was to try two new disc golf courses in this area and also stop by a friends cabin if we had time before returning back to Green Bay. The first course being right in Jacksonport at the sports complex center. IMG_1239

We played the nine baskets here and then headed a bit further to Sister Bay to try the next new course I had located in the area.

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Both course were fun, cooler than back home temperature wise, and both offered us some time in the sun. I plan to blog about both courses in more detail soon so keep reading and maybe you will want to give them both a try if your in the area.

After two course of disc golf we were hungry. It was about noon and we had seen a wayside with some nice shaded areas to stop for a quick picnic lunch before stopping in by a friends cabin in the area. Apparently, we were exactly half way to the north pole where we were going to enjoy lunch….or at least this is what the plaque said that we found.

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We found the only picnic table empty which was perfect.

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After lunch we stopped in and enjoyed some float time with our friends. They have a cabin right on a lake in this area and its was great to catch up about their recent vacation and for my husband to finally have some down time from all his work travel he has had.

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It was a full day of fun outside. I could not have planned us a better day to escape the heat.

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