Happy New Year

First, let me wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! This morning I loved hearing my alarm go off, grabbing a half cup of coffee, and hitting the gym early. Routine…it is a wonderful thing! Tomorrow we are all back to work, a meal plan is made for the first time in over two weeks, and our shelves and refrigerator are stocked with healthy options to begin the year. I have made no great new years resolutions since I already feel I do my best physically when my body allows, I do my best financially when the funds are there, and well, I guess the only thing I can hope for in the new year is good health. Which I really have no control over above and beyond what I already do to stay healthy, so I will let it be what it shall be.

Let’s see, Christmas for us was wonderful. Family…as small as our is, is a wonderful thing. We ate, drank and were merry as many of you were also I would imagine.

We celebrated one birthday during the holiday…our son’s falls the day after Christmas.

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And since he is an adult now, many of his gifts revolved around getting out on his own and having the basics he will need when this happens. Yes, I did buy my son a laundry hamper as a gift. He told me to buy practical gifts which I did….and I LOVED every minute of it;-)

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We also had a milestone happen in our family. Our son bought his first car which we picked up the day before Christmas Eve. These moments make me proud as a mom….slowly he is making a life for himself and spreading his wings. Next, he tells me, is apartment hunting. Oh boy, this brings me back many years. Can I seriously be this old already that my son is ready to move out….wow, where do the years go?

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Lets see, back to Christmas, we ate tons of food….some healthy and some not so healthy…..but all artificial sweetener free. We host here at our home every year and we also pick a theme to celebrate the holiday. This year we decided on a home cooked meal and pajama Christmas. So meatloaf, glazed carrots, and mashed potatoes were on the menu. Birthday cake and ice cream was dessert. Along with some appetizers to share before dinner like this pickled shrimp recipe we tried for the first time which ended up being a big hit.

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I even snuck in a new treat….and I assure you it was well deserved some days.

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With the week off between holidays, I had ample time to restock the freezer with freezer meals. Soup is a favorite for me to freeze and eat later.

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I am killing the early morning workouts….which I am proud to say I missed not a single day through the holidays. However, this is more for my mental health than my physical health during this time of year. It’s a great holiday stress reliever.

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I also have been experimenting with some new recipes from a new cookbook I received from Christmas. I know most people get new recipes online now a days but I don’t have a whole lot of time to search and find recipes. So books are still my favorite way to find new recipes. And my slow cooker is going to be my best friend with two newborn babies starting with in a week of each other here. Oh boy, time will be limited for sure.

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Also over the holiday break I enjoyed an afternoon snow hike with my son and a few feathered friends we saw along the way.

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And let me tell ya, snow adds a whole different spin on hiking….wow, were we tired after about 3 miles of snow hiking an area trail.

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We did this hike while dad ventured out for the first time to ice fish an area lake. I, like always, thought it was too early, our son also thought it was too early, but arguing with a fisherman is pointless so we made ourselves busy while he took his chances with the ice thickness. He came home a few hours later with not a great ice report but enough to be able to limit out on his catch of the day. IMG_0099

That sums up my last two weeks. As I adjust to new children to care for and we all adjust to going back to work, let’s savor the reality that routine is really a nice thing to have. I loved the holiday break but for me personally, normal life is not a bad thing either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekend Recap- Thai Cuisine, Happy Birthday, and Camping Trip Plans

As usual the weather forecast changed from warm and beautiful Saturday to cold and blustery so geocaching was once again put off a bit further. However, that does not mean we did not have fun along with a bit of work.

Let’s recap everything from the last few days….I found out I LOVE Thai cuisine. We tried it for the first time with my brother and it was fabulous. We all got different meals and we all tried each others and I think I picked the winner of the night. I went with what they called volcano chicken and OMG was it good. I, of course, forgot to take a picture but I do have a pic of the appetizer we all tried.

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Our first camping plans of the year have been made. We are finally headed to a new WI state park that I have been wanting to visit for a few years now. It kept getting put off with all our health issues (herniate discs, abdominal surgery etc.) the past few years, but we finally are making the trip to Interstate State Park in a few weeks and hopefully all this darn snow is gone by then.

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I also celebrated my birthday this weekend with a new treat my husband found while grocery shopping. My favorite candy bar of all time is Mounds and he stumbled across Mounds pudding in the store and I had to give it a try. Plus, he said birthday calories don’t count. Let’s hope so because it was wonderful.

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I also bought myself a birthday gift while out and about this weekend. Two pair of workout leggings for those chilly but active days outside. I am not a big fan of full length leggins at the gym but outside in the spring and fall they are a welcome addition to the trail. Plus, they were an awesome price so I just had to get them.

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Saturday I finally made a return to the gym. It had been two weeks since I had been there and it felt so great. I am finally over whatever virus I had and I felt I could handle a good sweaty workout with no big breathing issues.

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That sums up my weekend. Nothing too exciting but it was a nice quiet weekend which is sometimes a welcomed thing.

 

Finally February…What’s Next On The Agenda?

A few more weeks to go until we change our clocks once again and life starts looking a little brighter and much more fun in my eyes.

Typically by this time of year, I have already starting planning our summer excursions, booked some camp sites, and made numerous other plans to fill up our summer calendar. This year, however, has been a bit different…..I have done none of this. UGGGG! I have been, in all honesty, unmotivated since we returned from Tennessee to do any of this. Life has been chaos and I just can’t seem to catch a break long enough to even consider summer planning.

I have been keeping up with my pledge to try at least one new recipe a week for our family dinners. And so far, we have found some real winners. Like beef with pepperocino peppers in the slow cooker. The easiest recipe ever since you literally take your beef roast and lay it in the slow cooker. Dump the jar of pepperocinos with the juice over the roast. Add a shimmy shake of Worcestershire sauce and a tsp of beef bouillon to the mixture and cover and turn it on. Taaaadaaaa….6-8 hours later you shred it up and serve how you wish. I layered whole wheat rolls with cheese and baked them until they were melted. Then I added the meat and served it with a side salad. A complete meal, with little work and very tasty to end a long day.

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With February normally being the month I struggle with the most, so far it has been ok.I have been keeping busy thanks to many different things on my plate at one time. With a trip disaster in January to TN, I am still fighting with the airlines for refunds. I have made and have had plans with friends cancelled due to illnesses(on their end) numerous times. And I have been doing my best to keep a level head about some work issues that have been plaguing me.

I recently went to dinner with my brother to a restaurant I had not been to in at least 15 years and was happily surprised by the remodel job. The place was beautiful but the food was mediocre at best. Next month it is my turn to choose the restaurant and I think I might try Thai for the first time ever. I love that my brother has a broad sense of taste, since then we have many different options to choose from. Often, when I go out with my husband, it’s to the same three restaurants and even though its nice, I sometimes wish he was a bit more adventurous when it came to trying new things.

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February at the gym has significantly gotten less crowded. Normally by February I am so ready to be outside doing something active, however, this year I am not quite there yet. I am loving the gym and my time to do what I love. I have been concentrating on strengthening my abs and core along with my upper body again. Paddling season is not that far off and after taking it easy all last summer due to my abdominal surgery and the summer before due to my husbands disc herniation….this summer I plan to paddle as much as possible.

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We have a bunch of birthdays coming up in the next few weeks and no real plans as of yet to celebrate them. For mine, I am hoping to get a nice dinner out somewhere…..maybe Hibachi/Sushi….we shall see.

There is also an REI garage sale date coming up and unless there is a snowstorm that stops me from making this two hour drive to our nearest REI, I have the calendar marked and the gift cards are burning a hole in my pocket. On the list….a new pair of Keen hiking boots for yours truly. Mine have taken me many miles through Minnesota, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, Utah, Arkansas, and all over Wisconsin. I think it’s time to let them rest and break in a new pair.

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And come next month our clocks will once again be changing. Daylight will be longer, snow will begin to melt away leaving mud around every corner. And we will slowly start to venture back outside and start making memories again of times better spent somewhere other than in the four walls of our house. Ohhhh, how I wait patiently for this month to pass.

Happy Blog Birthday Natural Red

Wow, has it really been 3 years since I wrote my first blog post on Natural Red?

Amazing!

I honestly don’t know what I thought would happen when I started blogging but I am happy to say, I am pleasantly surprised at how it has changed me. I have met so many nice, virtual friends and enjoy hearing comments back from everyone on topics that are near and dear to my heart.

It’s funny to look back and read past postings and see how much our life has changed. Our son is now a grown adult working on his career as a professional photographer.

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My husband and I have started doing more and more things as a couple instead of as a family unit which changes things quite drastically I have found.

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And I have slowly transitioned from loving to do certain things I have been “talked into,”  to finding my own path and following it with confidence. stopped3

(photo courtesy of Quade Byrnes Photography)

I am not sure what the next year will be all about but as usual, I will share my adventures with all of you while I keep a journal to look back on myself some day.

Thanks for reading along…..I look forward to inspiring all of you to try some fun exciting adventures for yourself.

 

 

Let’s Chat Over Coffee….Wine….Tea…..

Let’s chat over a beverage of your choice, shall we? For me I think wine would be a good choice today. I have a bunch of random things running through my head lately that maybe getting them out may help me organize my thoughts. So here we go…

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This has been quite the year so far for our family. I, for one, feel as if summer is dragging it’s feet getting here and clearly, it’s affecting my motivation. For some reason I just cannot decide where to visit, what to do, or when to do it this coming summer. Typically I have my campsites arranged, dates chosen, and for the most part, plans made. This year however, I have NONE…..ZILCH!

Onto exercise, I have one word to explain this….FRUSTRATING! I am still so limited to what I can do, much less what I am allowed to do that it is driving me bonkers. I love walking and hiking but I feel as if it’s just not giving me the results I need. I feel so weak and that I have lost so much strength since surgery back in January that I want to start back weight lifting and doing ab work. However, my weight restriction is still limited and I am not allowed ab work for quite sometime yet. I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to things like this, so to say it seems to be taking forever, is honestly putting it mildly.

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Another item on my to do list in my own head is what to do for my husbands birthday which is right around the corner. I always struggle with this. I have an idea but to make this happen depends on one major element (Mother Nature) and that doesn’t always work so well so I feel pressured to at least have a backup plan.

Here is something that has amazed me recently. I did not talk about it much on here but for the past few years I have suffered from what my doctors have diagnosed as hypoglycemia. Well, much like many of the things I was dealing with on a daily basis, this too has seemed to disappear with my recent tumor removal. I thought at first it was because I was not exercising at all. Although, now I am exercising again and have shown no symptoms what so ever. This is a wonderful thing simply because now when I need to leave home, want to go to the gym or simply just want to go for a walk, I don’t have to look at the clock and try and remember when I last ate something and then calculate how long I have before I start having symptoms of low blood sugar. I can simply go back to eating when I am hungry instead of when I need to eat for blood sugar control. This is awesome!!!

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That’s it for me today. Ahhh, I feel a bit better getting some of that off my chest. Now if I could just get it out of my thoughts, life would be even better.

 

 

 

Exploring The South For A Week

The past week my husband and I spent exploring the south in temps that were spectacular compared to what we experience in WI during the month of March.

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Life down south is so amazingly different that I can only imagine how it would be to live somewhere where I could “play” outside year round. I love it hot, sunny and dry.

We did so many things in a matter of a few days that I don’t even know where to start. So maybe sharing pictures will be the easiest.

We ate so much BBQ which made my husband VERY happy.

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We fell in love with a new to us flavor of soda we found. I am not a soda drinker but this was fantastic. Thank goodness we don’t have this here in WI or I would have a problem.

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The first thing I noticed when we arrived were flowers and blooming trees everywhere. HA, our trees aren’t even close to flowering here in WI.

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We hiked some amazing trails in the area we visited. We hiked into a canyon to reach a gorgeous waterfall,

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we hiked to the top of a mountain to enjoy the view of the entire area surrounding us.

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(top of the mountain picture courtesy of my husband)

We visited the local zoo,

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we had table side guacamole made for us and margaritas to celebrate my birthday, IMG_3570

we found our first geocache in this state and shared lunch on Lake Bailey with some feathered friends.

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All in all, we had a wonderful time. In my condition, being 6 weeks post op, I don’t feel I did too bad considering. Travel went smooth, hiking was slower than usual but made me feel normal and back to my old self again. Plus, having sunshine and warmth could never hurt anyone in my opinion. I may not have made it to the top of that mountain but that is not to say I am disappointed. My husband finished and took the pictures from the top to share with me which is good enough in my eyes. I do plan to return and complete this hike, but for now, I am happy.

I will be updating the trails page in the next few days/weeks with all the hikes we did and some pointers for each one. Until then, here are a few more pics of what we experienced.

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A Christmas Hike and A Big Birthday To Celebrate

Wow, these past few days have been so wonderful that for once I can honestly say I have enjoyed Christmas. Typically, the holiday is crazy nuts with places to go and people to see that there is hardly time to breathe in between. This year was so different and so pleasant in every way.

First, let me just say that the weather was gorgeous. We had no snow what so ever and I was one of the very few that was happy about this. Everyone claims they need snow for Christmas….everyone except me that is. I had to laugh when I received this in our mail box recently since this is exactly what I prefer to build a snowman out of also.

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Alright, back to why our holiday was so wonderful. We woke up bright and early Christmas morning to open gifts while breakfast made our house smell heavenly. Baking away in the oven was a gooey mess of yumminess we were going to enjoy before packing up to leave for a day of outdoor adventure. Here is the finished product before we devoured it without guilt since it was Christmas and all:-)   IMG_3135

We had plans to head out and do what our family loves to do on this gorgeous day…..hike. We packed up a quick Christmas lunch, threw our hiking boots in the back, grabbed our camera gear, made a thermos full of nutella hot chocolate and away we went.

IMG_3136A while later we arrived at one of our favorite parks, Cave Point. As we made our way to the trail we noticed that Mother Nature seemed to have decorated the lake side bushes and tress with icicles that were like diamonds hanging from the limbs. It was quite beautiful to see.  IMG_3137

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We hiked along the shoreline for quite a ways enjoying the beauty of the day and the area.

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After this it was time to have Christmas lunch as we have had many, many lunches in our family…..right from the back of our vehicles. Many of you will probably think this is an insane place to share a Christmas meal but in our family, some of the best meals have been shared on the tailgate of our truck or from the trunk of our car. Anyone who has kayaked with us will agree and know right where I am coming from. I could not have thought of a better place to share this meal on this day.IMG_3179Then we headed out to another trail on the way home.  IMG_3182

The main reason for stopping here was to search for a geocache we have been meaning to get for sometime now. Although, as you can see the area is mainly what I refer to as SNAKE GRASS covered. Which means the only time this is possibly with me along is when the snakes are are happily sleeping away winter.

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After this it was time to return home, watch a movie and just be together.

The next day, Christmas celebrations were officially over since we now had a big birthday to celebrate. Our son celebrated his 21st birthday the day after Christmas which meant a nice birthday lunch out at his favorite restaurant.

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And some birthday presents all wrapped in birthday paper. It’s very hard to not forget a birthday when its celebrated so close to a big holiday. As his mom, I have always had the rule that if your going to give him birthday gifts at Christmas time, they MUST be at least wrapped in birthday paper. Thankfully, to this day, everyone abides by this rule.  IMG_3134

That pretty much sums the past few days.

Do you prefer snow on Christmas?