Deer Path Trail In Hartman Creek State Park, Waupaca, WI

Everyone who visits Waupaca,WI will have been told to check out Hartman Creek State Park and the Chain O Lakes. Without a doubt these two places are two of the fine treasures of this area. If you do anything that involves a paddle you must make a trip to paddle the Chain O Lakes.

IMG_1266

IMG_4429

However, since our first visit here a few years back I have been wanting to hike this area and never seem to find the time…that is until now. I made the trip this past weekend for a solo hike on Deer Path Trail in Hartman Creek State Park.

IMG_7511

Deer path trail was about a mile long and I would easily rate this as easy. One of the shortest hikes in the park but one I found to be very nice and peaceful.

IMG_7503

This trail loops around Allen Lake and the trail head and parking lot are easily located by good signage upon entering the main entrance of the park.

IMG_7510

IMG_7475

I did print off a trail map before leaving home, however, for this trail it was well marked and easy to follow without needing the map. You basically follow the lake around.

IMG_7476

IMG_7481

IMG_7486

IMG_7501

Kids could have so much fun hiking this trail. There were so many places to easily access the lake to search for critters and such and many benches for mom and dad to sit and let them explore while hiking.

IMG_7500

IMG_7502

Terrain on this trail changed a few times. It starts out with a small trail which was not pleasant for me since I prefer wide trails for the simple reason it’s easier to see snakes. However, it widens and narrows throughout the entire mile and brings you through a pine forest, up a few hills, and one big trail hazard I had to climb over but I am sure the park employees will take care of this in the near future.

IMG_7479

IMG_7485

IMG_7495

IMG_7488

If your looking for a nice, quick hike in this area and don’t want to spend a lot of time researching a trail, this would be an easy one for anyone to do. Or if your camping in the park and need your children occupied while you relax, this is perfect. Bring some little nets, a bucket, and maybe a magnifying glass and let them explore while you relax.

IMG_7493

IMG_7483

 

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.

IMG_7220

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.

IMG_7222

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.

IMG_7224

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:-)

IMG_7168

IMG_7169

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.

IMG_7166

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?

IMG_7249

IMG_7253

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)

IMG_7162

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

Painting, Planting, Planning

We spent the weekend working….to put it mildly. Being a home owner is not what I would call rainbows and cupcakes all the time. Yes, it’s a great investment for your future IF it does not consume all your time repairing, remodeling, and reinvesting more money into that so called future investment.

We started this weekend with a simple room painting of our son’s bedroom. Not so bad right…..until it was time to install the new ceiling fan since his was making some kind of weird noise. Still not so bad, $100 later and the new fan was picked out ready to install. Well, that is where things went completely wrong. Now, being the person I am, I do not know the technical terms for any of this building stuff, but whom ever built our house years ago really half assed a few things and we are slowly finding them throughout the 20 years we have lived here. And believe me, when you have a husband who knows a lot about technical/mechanical things…..it makes him livid which then inturn makes a 1 hour job into a 3 hour job. It then makes me question, once again, why we ever thought buying a house is something everyone should do in their lifetime. And it also makes me very thankful my husband can fix almost anything.

IMG_7239

While all this repainting and repairing was going on in one end of our house, I spent time in the other end meal prepping for the week and planting some herbs to enjoy cooking with in the next few months. Fresh herbs add such a wonderful flair to dishes and I am so looking forward to having them freshly available.

IMG_7070

IMG_7233

I also did some experimenting with brewing coffee in our tea/coffee press. We are  seriously thinking of taking this with us camping for fresh, non instant coffee and I had never made coffee in the press before only tea. So today was a good day to try it out. Impressed I was after we both tried a cup and now it is officially added to our list of camp supplies we will need in the next few weeks.

IMG_7236

Add in two trips to the gym, a haircut I had to give to my husband, and numerous other home chores, I would say we had an extremely productive weekend. I am glad we finished these big jobs before the upcoming nice weekends we are hoping to have are here. There is nothing worse than having the sun shining brightly and us stuck indoors working.

IMG_20161125_0850350_rewind

 

 

 

 

Did You Know….

Did you know….that in WI you can purchase your yearly state park entry sticker for full price ($28) and they offer a second sticker for a second vehicle for a reduced rate? We never did until a few years ago and for us this is a bonus since we need three for our household.

IMG_7163

Did you know…. that my dream someday is to section hike the Appalachian Trail? As of today I have 6 miles completed which is hardly a start but it’s still a start. I have read numerous books about it and just started one that was recommended to me called AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller. So far I am really enjoying it.

IMG_6879

Did you know….I cannot mix meatloaf or meatballs without wearing rubber gloves? My husband thinks this is hilarious. Although, he has learned not to laugh at me since he loves both meatloaf and meatballs and if he laughs at me then I don’t make them.

IMG_6570

Did you know….I love to grab takeout menus from various restaurants and recreate some of the dishes at home? I think this is such an easy way to come up with variety for home menus. Plus, typically there are many different things that sound so wonderful and who can order more than one entree while out for a meal. My friend recently chuckled at me when I grabbed menus at every restaurant we stopped at and I told her this is what I do with them. Doesn’t anyone else do this???

IMG_7161

Did you know….pancakes are one of our favorite camp breakfasts when we are headed out for a day of hiking? However, since surgery (January2016) I have a hard time eating pancakes….and I mean a real hard time. Well, as you all know, we have made our first camp reservations of the year and I am also convinced that I can find a pancake I can eat without losing the contents of my stomach within minutes, by this trip. I recently was told to try Kodiak brand so I picked up a box and we are going to give it a test run here at home. Let’s hope for the best since these are full of protein and would be perfect for a prehike breakfast.

IMG_7162

Did you know….that even though our son takes family, graduation, wedding, and professional pictures for everyone else, I have never had him take a professional picture of our family? Why you ask…..well honestly, a nicely dressed, matching outfits, sitting on a stone man made fence is not my idea of what my family is and/or looks like. So why would I want a picture that does not describe who we are as a family? I have some of the best pictures of all of us, us as a couple, and just myself on trails in some of the most beautiful places ever and I cherish these and the fact that he was there to capture the moment with his camera.

Mom Cathedral End low logo-1

Barkhausen 4-3-16low-1

Did you know….that I am so ready for winter to be over with already? We had a burst of spring like temperatures and now we are back to full blown winter. Add in the few snowfalls we have also had since these nice days and ugggg, I am ready to be done. We have some big plans for this upcoming weekend and hopefully it will be all good. I am in the market for some new hiking boots, a stop at Trader Joe’s, and a nice dinner somewhere other than in good ole Green Bay. Hopefully this brightens my mood and if it doesn’t I think we may plan a hike on a WI state trail that we have not visited in a while. Rarely, do we hike south of Green Bay but I recall it being a nice trail. If we make this happen I will be sure to keep you all updated on the trail conditions in this area.

IMG_5385

 

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.

IMG_6950

IMG_6952

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.

IMG_6955

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.

IMG_4575

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.

IMG_5991

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.

Let’s Relive Summer Mid Winter…..

Who’s feeling like they have had enough of winter? I know I am.

As I often do at this time of year I thought I would take a look back at summer and all the fun that was had by us all. Let’s just say it’s something a bit more brighter, a bit more fun, and a bit more cheerful than looking outside my window at everything covered in WINTER!!!

Join me will you….

The view from atop Oberg Mountain.

IMG_4947

Water, sunshine, and two great friends…who could ask for more?

Clark Lake-4

Simply relaxing;-)

IMG_4530

Catch of the day.

IMG_4507

Yoga outside…..priceless!

IMG_4318

My second home.

IMG_3968

Freezing cold Lake Superior in July.

IMG_4630

Disc golf anyone?

IMG_4205

The bluest water in Wisconsin.

IMG_4469

Roses….oh, how I miss stopping to smell the roses.

IMG_4078

Homemade fly swatter constructed while sitting next to the campfire.

IMG_4749

It’s coming, summer is right around the corner. If you keep repeating this to yourself like I do we will all survive this winter. You gotta believe….

Recent Thoughts, Recent Eats, Recent Randomness

Where should I begin…..

Thoughts, ideas, inspirations, dreams….do you all have them rolling around in your brain like I do? Sometimes they drive me a bit crazy but I often wonder if they aren’t meant to do that. Some of the things rolling around in my head range from where to camp this coming summer,

IMG_3968

to what trails I want to hike this year,

IMG_4994

to what state do I want to toss at my family and see if they are on board to go visit.

IMG_5679

I would love to plan a girls weekend where all my girl friends escape the role of wife and mother and just be us for a few hours. No worries where this child is or that child is, what we will be preparing for dinner, how high the dirty dishes are stacking up or how much laundry I need to eventually make time to get done.

IMG_5328

IMG_1846

I am not a big shopper but I want to plan a Trader Joe’s trip(2 hours from us is the nearest) and also want to make a trip to the next REI garage sale day for members(again, another 2 hours from us).

IMG_4326

I have a million recipes I want to try in my new dutch oven. However, I have been using it quite a bit with old recipes and so far I am thrilled…it is fabulous. Big huge thank you to one of my daycare families for this wonderful gift.

IMG_6538

I also have a list of places to research for possible destinations to visit and I am really feeling the need for elevation…..a long trail that’s leads up where no one else is typically found when you finally reach the top. In other words, a little peace and quiet to gather all these thoughts and put them in order of importance.

So let’s move onto an easier topic….recent eats. This last week it’s been all about cleaning up the frig and open food in the pantry. I hate leaving home and having to throw out food. So it’s been a bit of random meals but still good meals per say.I have been really enjoying spicy black bean salads for my lunches. I am not a big side salad person but give me a meal salad and I am all in.

IMG_6594

With winter chill in my bones I have been really enjoying oatmeal for lunch also. Oatmeal is not a family favorite so when I get the chance to make it for just me I do.

IMG_5522

We had one bottle of Trader Joe’s curry sauce left and it was time to enjoy it since I had a few chicken breast we needed to eat up. My son and I were in heaven…..hubby…not so much. He had italian chicken breast instead. He is not a fan of curry in anything…party pooper.

IMG_6592

Let’s see, workouts have been going great. I have been concentrating on weekends at the gym and maybe one day during the week since right now it is so crowded it’s more stressful to go that not to go. Weekends are busy but not nearly what Monday thru Friday are at the moment. I have not been outside to exercise in quite sometime….and even though I miss fresh air, I have no urge what so ever to go outside to “play”! Too much snow for this desert loving girl!

I know my husband is waiting patiently to go ice fishing for the first time this winter which really causes me anxiety. Although, this year it seems he is going with someone new and it could prove to be very interesting to hear about when they get home. We shall see….

I am trying to figure out when and how I plan to surprise my boys with something they purchased me for Christmas and of course, I want them to share in the fun of it also. They thought it would be a great gag gift to buy me a brick of ration bars. Why…..who knows??? All I can tell you is, when they least expect good ole mom to have snacks in the snack bag while 10 miles back in the middle of nowhere….this is all I am going to produce and they are going to share in the fun of trying it if they are hungry enough. Fun will be had by all of us;-)

IMG_6526

For now I will leave you with all this. You may not feel better but I feel a bit lighter.

If you feel the need to get something off your mind…feel free in the comment section….I will listen.