Unplugged For Five Days….Amazing!

We just finished up five days off from both our jobs and spent the majority of it together…..we so needed this time. Never knowing when or if work travel plans will affect our lives has become a way of life for us. So spending time together when we can is crucial to our relationship. With the bonus of Independence Day falling mid week this year we decided to take the remainder of the week off and just be us. No work, no email, no schedule, no cell phones, no nothing. IT WAS SO NICE!

IMG_1224

Let’s start with the holiday….it was HOT once again. We actually all had off and had planned the night before to disc golf as a family. This quickly fell through when I woke up after a very long night of not feeling well. So I decided to stay home and let my husband and son go alone. They soon returned after only nine holes extremely hot and miserable. Gosh, was I happy I did not go with. The remainder of the day we hung out as a family indoors. It was nice and quiet.

Thursday my husband and I headed to Milwaukee, WI to check out a new mall I have been eyeing up for quiet some time now and of course make a Trader Joe’s trip.

IMG_1283

The mall was a bust…..just not impressed at all. Trader Joe’s was fabulous…..gosh, I wish we would get one closer to us here in Green Bay!!!!

Friday the humidity finally broke and that meant we could have some fun outdoors. Say no more, I was packed and ready to go in less than an hour. Snacks, hydration, tubes, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and sunglasses.

IMG_1288

We chose to once again float our favorite nearby river in our tubes. I love doing this. It’s so relaxing listening to the birds and just floating along. It took us 4.5 hours to float from the starting point to our end point and it was exactly what I needed. It was hot and sunny the entire river. My husband actually spent more time out of his tube than in it since it was so nice.

IMG_1303

IMG_1328

Him being outside of his tube offered lots of exploring of the river bottom.

IMG_1306

IMG_1335

IMG_1329

The dragon flies were very friendly also. They literally had no fear of us at all.

IMG_1302

IMG_1320

IMG_1323

IMG_1326

The biggest bonus of the day is when we came upon these two beauties. I know the picture is blurry but I did the best I could from my tube on moving water.

IMG_1341

Saturday it was father and son time….which meant mom got some time alone to catch up on laundry, do some house chores, go to the gym.

IMG_8929

I also had time to prepare a meal that actually took a bit of thought instead of throwing something together fast after a long day. Pizza wonton cups (recipe here) and summer squash were a perfect summer dinner. IMG_1281

Sunday again was an early morning rise and shine event since fishing was not all that great Saturday they decided to take the boat this time to their favorite fishing lake and try again. With the heat expected by mid day to be once again high, they left super early in the morning. And since I am a morning person, I went for a 4 mile hike on a local trail before the heat of the day set in.

IMG_8917

Dinner was another cool and refreshing summer meal of Greek salads for everyone.

IMG_8941

We sure had a great few days….some alone time and some family time. Unfortunately, like most good things though, it had to end and it’s now back to work for everyone.

IMG_8600

 

Advertisements

Feeling Almost Back To Normal

This week has been good. We are finally feeling almost back to normal. By this I mean, meals were shared together, exercise routine is back to an actual routine, and peaceful sleep was had all week long.

Let’s start with exercise shall we. Typically, I workout in the early morning hours at our local gym….by early I mean 5:00a.m.. With summer here my job gets much more physical when we can finally get outside and enjoy the outdoors instead of everything indoors like during the winter months. So during the summer I concentrate on making it to the gym twice a week in the early morning, I then bike on my stationary bike the other two mornings, and one day I take off for rest….not from work just from exercise. And then my husband and I have begun walking area trails for about 3 miles after dinner. Add this with many additional steps put on during the day while playing outside chasing daycare kids around and by 8p.m. I am typically falling asleep on the couch.

IMG_1161

IMG_1165

IMG_1166

As for meals, I finally feel like we are eating regular and not grabbing and going to the next thing on the agenda. If you have been a long time follower you will know that grabbing and going is not easy with my husbands artificial sweetener allergy so this has been a real struggle to keep juggling. Although, I am happy to report we are back to eating regular meals and enjoying the time to sit, eat, and chat about our day. One the menu this week was a new lentil ham soup and BBQ chicken quesadillas. Both turned out fabulous!

IMG_1155

IMG_1156

That will be it for today. We actually have plans on the calendar for the weekend…..finally!!!!! Now I am just praying for no rain and sunshine so I don’t freeze since we will be enjoying some water play. It is summer after all, so that means it’s time to enjoy all the rivers and streams Wisconsin has to offer.

 

Balance….I Am Trying So Hard To Find It

Where to begin is often that hardest part of writing here. I feel like I have not shared much of what this blog was intended for lately since, to be brutally honest, I have not been out much enjoying the outdoors that I love so much. Believe me, I want to but time and weather and life have just not been cooperating to allow for this type of activity.

So, what have I been up to? A few things actually. Let’s see, I recently fell in love with riced cauliflower and although I think it is ungodly expensive to purchase, I have found it is super easy to prepare yourself if you have the right kitchen tools. So after purchasing one bag of frozen riced cauliflower to try, I now make my own with a head of clean cauliflower and my food processor. In a matter of minutes I have three times more for half the price.

IMG_1154

You may be wondering why life has not allowed me out much. Ultimately, it boils down to priorities. We own a house, three vehicles, I run a daycare out of my home for my job, and I also handle all the normal wifely matters from cleaning to cooking to budgeting….you name it and I do it. For the past few years my husband has really been pitching in and helping with the yard, bushes, cleaning, and so on but a few months ago his job took a turn and now he is traveling at least half, if not more, of the time. The change has been good in some instances and not so good in others.

IMG_1138

Yes, his employer typically flies him home on Friday evenings and then back out again Monday mornings. Although, this leaves us very little time to get everything done and still find time to enjoy life. So priorities have taken up much of my life. If I don’t do all what needs to be done during the week then that leaves us even less time to find fun time in the 48 hours he is home every week. We have ventured out on close by trails but nothing to far and no serious mileage has been accomplished yet this summer. Balance…we are still working on trying to find a balance.

IMG_1131

Speaking of balance, due to some last minute changes at work my husbands flight plans got changed for the Father’s Day weekend and this left him and our son the time to finally take out the boat and get in a few hours of fishing time. It was a very successful fishing trip and they both seemed to really have a great time.

IMG_1153

Father’s Day dinner was also a success since we once again had a nice family dinner together. Meal times have really changed since our son moved into his own apartment so this was quite the treat to share a meal together like old times. On the menu was baby red garlic mashed potatoes, BBQ ribs with homemade rib rub, and corn on the cob.

Those ribs look good but don’t let them fool you all. I am still sticking to my 50% meatless meals around here. By no means are we going vegetarian but eliminating meat and sticking to fish and veggie based meals has been a game changer for our health and how we feel.

IMG_1135

In the upcoming weeks I am really hoping to get in a river float or two, make a trip two hours south to our nearest Trader Joe’s, dust of my standup paddle board in the Bay of Green Bay, make a trip to a friends cabin for the day, and maybe even fit in a camping trip or two. Maybe these will all be solo trips or maybe they will be a couples outing….I do not know quite yet. For now I will leave you all guessing since that is also what I am doing.

 

 

It’s As If We’ve Been Robbed

It’s funny how life can change in a few days. A little over a week ago our son moved out of our family home after 23 years and dad and I returned home to a very empty house. Where does time go? I can’t believe my baby is 23 years old already. My husband said to me, ” It looks like we’ve been robbed…. there is so much empty space.” I couldn’t help but laugh at this statement.

Which brings us to today. It’s different to put things mildly. I have way less dishes to wash, way less groceries to purchase, way less food to prepare, I have no vehicles parking me in when I want to up and leave home, and we have way less chatter at the dinner table. However, we are happy, our son is happy, and life is good. Who could ask for more? IMG_0135

As life continues onward I am adjusting our meals the best I know how. I am trying to incorporate more veggies and less animal protein. I recently had time to experiment in my kitchen and came up with three winners for meal times. First, I threw together an asian type quinoa skillet meal that I served over baby kale that I tossed with a bit of fresh lemon juice and olive oil. It was absolutely delicious.

IMG_1117

Then I replicated a corn on the cob recipe from a local restaurant that I am a bit ashamed to say I LOVE!!! Never in my right mind would I have thought smearing mayo on corn on the cob would have been so good but I tell you all….it is!!!! Sprinkled with a bit of chili lime seasoning and it is like a party in your mouth. You must give it a try.

IMG_1121

I also tried my hand at roasted parmesan cauliflower steaks one evening. It turned out fabulous but one head of cauliflower only yields two “steaks” and a bunch of chunks since the core is the part that holds the “steaks” together. I would make this again for sure but maybe just do it all in chunks and have marinara dipping sauce on the side. This would be more realistic for a family like meal.

IMG_1122

I still have a big bunch of recipes I have been researching and I can’t wait to try them and share them all with you. However, in all honesty, I am concentrating more on sunscreen, hiking boots, and bug spray at the moment and not so much of what is (or is not) happening in my kitchen. I live in WI and summers are so short that I need to take in every moment of sunshine and warmth that I can. I will be back here and there with things to share but until then….get outside and enjoy life.

IMG_0982

 

6 Weeks Ago We Had A Major Snowstorm…..Today We Broke Heat Records

I heard on the news this morning that 6 weeks ago we were digging out from our major record breaking snowstorm of 20+ inches of snow. Here was my husband shoveling off our roof to hopefully prevent it from collapsing.

IMG_0926

Fast forward to this weekend and we once again broke records but not with snow depth….this time with heat! Whew, it was hot….and for me to admit it was hot, you know it was HOT!!!! However, unlike that snowstorm where it kept me inside without any thoughts of venturing out, the heat wave we had this weekend did just the opposite. I pressed pause on the life calendar and enjoyed each day out and about doing what we love to do in the great outdoors.

First, we played a round of disc golf at one of WI most challenging disc golf courses. It is located in Manitowoc, WI right on the lakeshore so visiting the beach while we played was quite convenient.

IMG_1090

IMG_1097

IMG_1092

The next day we hiked one of my favorite trails located near Oshkosh, WI called Terrell’s Island. (more info on this trail is located on the hiking trails page)

IMG_1061

IMG_1060

I love this trail since wildlife can always be seen at any time of year.

IMG_1086

IMG_1082

IMG_1072

IMG_1075

Not once have I visited without seeing at least one snake…..today I got a bonus with the one snake seen whom was already dead and half eaten by something. This is just the way I prefer to see these creatures.

IMG_1089

This trail literally weaves through the water the entire 3.8 miles and offers much to see. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to escape the heat. There is no sun protection so remember sunscreen!!

IMG_1065

IMG_1064

IMG_1101

The remainder of the weekend we spent together doing odds and ends, like shopping, cutting the lawn, laundry, etc.. I needed to throw together more bean burgers since we had eaten the last batch.

recipes here and here (minus the spinach since I forgot to buy some)

IMG_1059

I also worked on organizing the weeks events coming up since its a shortened week with the holiday Monday and I also have a day off to prepare for our sons moving date. It’s almost here and I do believe we are as ready as we can be at this point. It’s been a long haul for sure since finding a reasonable apartment that was not in a terrible neighborhood was the hardest part. Although, we did it and it’s happening soon.

So you may wonder what is next for my husband and I. Well, I hope to change a few things. I want to go more veggie based in our meals by deleting meat at least half the time instead of only twice a week like now. We will never remove meat completely but I know we could easily do half and half. I also am working on turning our sons room into our office area. This could take some time but eventually I hope to be done by July. Right now, those are the only “for sure” items on the list. I am tossing around a few more ideas in my head, but if your husband is anything like mine, you have to bring these up slowly and not overwhelm them to quickly.HAHA! So, for the time being, I am just going to try and make it through the next week or two. I hope to begin blogging regularly again in regards to our meal plans which I know you all ask for me to continue. And I will for sure share our summer adventures here as we do them. I just need life to slow back down and offer me time to breathe.

 

 

Back On Track Once Again/ Breaking Records/A Healthier “Us” Anniversary

After two weeks of meal time chaos, I feel like I am finally back on track. Everyone was home and accounted for so I knew exactly how much I needed to prepare each night for dinner this week. This makes this wife/mom happy.

Things that did not make all that happy this week was the fact that we broke records here in Green Bay with our newest snowstorm. It was the biggest snowstorm in over 100 years coming in at a whopping 24.5 inches in 48 hours….I guess winter is not quite done with us yet.

IMG_0916

IMG_0928

IMG_0929

IMG_0926

Anyhow, back to better topic, this week we tried two new recipes and one new product I have been dying to try out on the family. Here, take a look….

Saturday: grilled chicken brats, grilled zucchini, and perogies

Sunday: Lentil veggie soup and chicken pita sandwiches

IMG_0888

Monday: slow cooker burrito bowls(new recipe that is a keeper for sure)

IMG_0891

Tuesday: dynamite stovetop casserole

***This recipe was very tasty and basic. As my boys both commented during dinner, mom why did you think this would be a keeper, you can do so much better than this on your own? Well, now, didn’t that make me feel good…although, I thought the recipe itself was quite good. Yes, basic but still good. And how often do you make a recipe that actually turns out to look just like the picture in the book?

IMG_0894

Wednesday: chili stuffed sweet potatoes

***I loved this so much that I needed to make it again so soon after the first time so my husband could enjoy it this time also. Last time I made it he was traveling for work and missed out.

IMG_0836

Thursday: out….tonight plans got scrapped for some unexpected events that happened which left no time for dinner preparations

Friday: red lentil pasta with ham, zucchini, spinach,and parmesan cheese sauce

IMG_0896]

IMG_0902

Have you tried red lentil pasta yet? This was our first time and I must say, it won’t be our last for sure. It tastes no different and the texture is very close to regular pasta that it was very acceptable. All of us said this is a good healthier option in pasta dishes….yeah, another win for mom!!!!

Swapping something unhealthy in your diet that you have eaten and enjoyed for years is often hard and will, without a doubt, be different BUT change is hard and sometimes has to happen. Whether for health reasons, allergies, or you are just getting on the healthier eating train, I believe you mentally have to prepare yourself for the reality of what I eat now is slowly killing me and I HAVE to change to better myself. If this mental transformation don’t happen then you will never find something you can live with in place of another product you have eaten for years and is bad for you in some way. I touch on this subject because coming up here in a few days we will hit the 1 year anniversary of eating completely artificial sweetener free in our home. Yes, at the time it was for major medical issues my husband was having. However, now those issues have all cleared up and he is feeling fabulous. We now all find ourselves reading the label and often times putting a product back on the shelf to find a healthier alternative. I guess maybe one has to be miserable enough to want to make a healthier change before it can happen long term…but for us here, only one of us was suffering with issues and instead of signaling him out we all made the change as a family unit and we all could not be happier.

 

 

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Another meatless option I recently tried preparing with great success is mexican quinoa stuffed peppers. Again, like most my recipes, the ingredients are easy to find or are readily available in your pantry already.

This recipe makes 8 halves…..one per person. And since everything is precooked they are great for on the go lunches since you can either bake them until warmed through or store them in a microwave safe dish to grab and heat when your ready at work, school, etc.

IMG_0912

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

1 cup quinoa

4 large sweet peppers-any color you desire

2 cups vegetable stock (you could use water if its all you have)

1-15oz.can whole kernel corn-drained

1 can black beans-drained and rinsed

1-15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1-4oz. can green chilies-drained

1 clove of garlic-finely chopped

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. paprika

First, you must cook your quinoa in the vegetable stock according to the directions. About half way through the cooking time add your chopped garlic clove to the pot to cook the remaining time.

While this is cooking, put a pot of water on to boil. Then clean and remove the seeds and ribs from your peppers.

IMG_0907

Once your pot with just water comes to a boil, toss your peppers into this for 4 minutes to blanch. You only want your peppers to soften, not cook all the way through. This is what makes microwaving them faster and easier to prepare on the go when its time to eat them.

IMG_0908

Once the four minutes is up, run them under cold water to stop the cooking process and lay them out on paper towels to dry. Meanwhile, add the rest of the ingredients to a large bowl.

IMG_0910

When your quinoa is done, add this to the large bowl and mix all the ingredients together. Take this mixture and stuff your peppers with it. Place them either in one big casserole dish to heat in the oven when your ready to prepare them or place them in single portion dishes to eat when your ready.

IMG_0913

To prepare you could bake them until heated through at 350 for approx 20-30 minutes. Or you could microwave them until heated through at various time settings according to the size of your microwave.

Enjoy!