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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From Sunscreen and Bug Spray To Chap Stick and Hand Warmers

Yes, summer is no doubt over here in WI. I have traded my sunscreen and bug spray out for chap stick and hand warmers and I don’t like it!!!! I know I know, I should be used to this by now but it’s no secret I dislike winter with a passion.

Anyhow, I thought I would share with you my first walk in over a month in a forest setting that was on my own free will, not meant for any sort of exercise, and it was simply just to get out, breathe, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors before old man winter freezes everything into a solid state of miserable.

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We here had a rough week this past week. My husband had some nasty illness that really leveled him. He came home from work one day early to sleep, slept on the couch four nights in a row, ran a high fever with not much relief from any fever reducing medications, and hardly ate much all week. So finally, when he said he was feeling up to doing something, we took a walk. Fresh air never hurt anyone is my thought.

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It was gorgeous in the woods. Trees were all colors and the ground was just as colorful. Never have I seen a purple mushroom like I found on todays walk.

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It felt so good to get out and enjoy a few hours of nothing…..just nature.

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It makes me sad winter is right around the corner. Although, like most things, it will pass. I can just hope it passes by quickly and with not much snow and ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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?

 

August Already??? How Can That Be?

Where has summer gone? It’s August already I am not ready for summer to be almost over! Although, our August calendar is full and September is filling up quickly so maybe the best of summer is yet to come.

Alright, I know its been a while but life got a bit hectic once again. I flew solo this past week since my husband was once again on the road for work. Which meant we did all we could to get everything done that needed to be done and also spend a day together before he left. We decided to float the river once again since its relaxing and we both needed a few hours to relax.

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It was a floating trip that paid off since he found a very nice fishing lure stuck in the bottom of the river. IMG_1398

Then the week happened and it was busy! Hence why there was no postings last week. I simply did not have time to sit and type.

Friday then rolled around and as he was on his way home making his way through airports, I was packing and preparing for our weekend. We had a day planned at a friends cabin that was sure to include water, sun, and campfires! I threw together a quick broccoli salad and grabbed the beach towels and sunscreen. IMG_1425

We left a bit early since I had my heart set on stopping at the farmers market near where we were headed. I bought a bunch of fresh veggies for the week ahead.

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We then arrived at the cabin to find sunshine and warmth. This is not always the case here since it’s often cooler by the lake, but I was happy today was not one of those days. We boated, stopped at the beach, and prepared dinner on the open fire.

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It was a great day. Weather was perfect, company was fun, and the water was warm. What more could we ask for?

Sunday was then catch up on chores day. We typically have one day of play and one day of work every weekend. I prepared baby food, veggie dip, and pre chopped veggies for the week ahead. My husband did oil changes and other things on his “Honey Do” list like normal. This week is jam packed with stuff. Our annual date event we go to is this week, we also have plans to visit somewhere we have never been. And believe me, we have been almost everywhere in WI….and surrounding states. So I am excited to explore more of what our area has to offer. Hopefully the weather cooperates and I will have something fun to share with you all real soon.

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Have a great week!

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!

Trails Are Picked Out And Now It’s Time To Train For This Adventure

Recently our son stopped over for a visit and I tossed out to both my boys (husband and son) a suggestion that we really should consider looking at preparing a training schedule for our upcoming trip to Sedona, AZ. Surprisingly enough, both agreed! This brought a small chuckle to my inner self. It’s funny how when mom (me) plans a vacation it takes 10-12 weeks to prepare for this vacation. We know this because after attempting once to do one of these vacations without training….we have all learned the hard way. Training makes what I love to do on vacation so much more pleasant in the long run. IMG_5837

So this is what we came up with. We agreed 10 weeks should be enough time to accomplish what we need. I have already picked out all our hikes, summits, and activities that will take the toll on our bodies. All the rest of the fun should be easy and just plain fun. We know the area already since we have visited once before so we all agreed incline strengthening is the most important.

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Along with some higher mileage walks/hikes added in, this should prepare us for the adventures we have planned. Planning was the easy part….now finding time, energy, and the area where we can do this is the tricky part. Although, I think I have it set. Here is the plan….

First, let me say WI is flat!!!! In the past we did steps to help us prepare at a near by track field. This year, however, we will not be doing those steps. Why you ask??? Simply stated, they are concrete and torture, to put it mildly!

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Plus, we know we will not be boulder climbing, for the most part, like in the past, so a hilly incline to climb up and down numerous times is more what we need. Thankfully, we have a new grassy hill near our home and it will be perfect.

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Second, we know we need to up our mileage from our normal walking/hiking distance. So we have a great hilly trail on the UWGB campus that worked perfectly for our last vacation and we plan to use this same trail again to up the distance for this upcoming trip. Three laps of this trail almost add up to 10 miles which is perfect.

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Plus, we have many rail trails that go on forever. We could easily take our pick of rail trails and just walk until we can’t walk anymore.

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Last, finding time will probably the hardest part. We are planning on twice during the week in the evenings and once on the weekend. Add this with my normal daily early morning workouts and I should be plenty exhausted. Although, I still plan to take Fridays off of all exercise since, after all, it is Friday and every body needs a rest day. If my husband is on the road traveling for work this schedule could get a bit tricky for him. He works long hours on the road so he may or may not miss out on some training days. He typically takes workout clothes to hit up his hotel gym but sometimes this works out and sometimes it does not depending on his schedule. It will be what it will be.

Like usual many people ask us every time if its worth all the work we go through to go on vacation. I can honestly say, no matter how much we dislike the preparation, the reward is so worth it. Anyone that has had a goal and has accomplished that goal by putting in hard work to get there will know…..it is so worth the effort!Mom Cathedral End low logo-1

If your in the Sedona, AZ area and have any recommendations for us let us know. I would love to hear from others what they found to be the best hikes, restaurants, places to explore and so on.