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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I Am So Tired Of Doing What I Have To Do And Not What I Want To Do….Plus Some Recent Meals

Do you ever find yourself tired of simply doing??? You know, doing all that normal daily stuff…..laundry, meals, yard work, bills, grocery shopping, organizing events, child care, exercise, etc. By golly, there are days I am almost too tired to shower. However, I find myself every day getting up to do the same thing over again way to often lately with no fun thrown in the mix to make all this monotonous stuff not seem so bad. Maybe it’s where we are in life right now, I am not quite sure. Although, I sure hope things slow down and we find some free time to add back a bit of fun here and there.

So let’s see, a lot has happened recently and I am trying to not let all the stress effect my daily life. This is not as easy to do than I wish it was but life goes on. OK, so we have made a huge decision after a major rain event in our area a few weeks ago. We got a ton of estimates and have finally chosen a company to remove our big cottonwood tree from our yard.

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I have mixed emotions about all this. Yes, it’s a messy tree, with sticky horrible pods in the spring time, then the cotton is a mess flying around the entire neighborhood for weeks mid summer, and it continually clogs our downspouts making rain storms a major event almost always…..but after all that, it’s a beautiful shade tree that we(my daycare kids and I) play under every single day. And then of course all those leaves fall……and it is a horrendous job to clean up!!!! So after this last rain storm where I, of course, was home alone with my husband away for work, decided this is it. We are not doing this anymore. It’s too much work, too much hassle, and just too much!!!! It’s coming down and hopefully before all those leaves start to fall from it. The date is set, we are praying for good weather, and I will share some pictures when it’s all said and done…soon.

Speaking of falling leaves, wow has the weather changed here and so fast at that. We went from hot, humid, and miserable to sweatshirt weather over night. Which has me thinking soup, chili, and more comfort foods being added to the menu. We are still doing the 80/20 meal plan only eating meat about twice a week at best and its working out great. Some meals lately have been:

Tuna melts

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Falafel salads with pickled onions…..both I made myself for the first time ever and they turned out spectacular. IMG_1645

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Quinoa sweet potato chili

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Hearty lentil veggie soup

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Many meals lately have been for just one person….me…and not really worth sharing since they sometimes end up being a bowl of cereal! Yes, I do eat cereal and quite often at that when I am solo. By the time my day ends with work and all is said and done, cereal is easy, fast ,and only uses one dish which is a bonus for me. On a good night I may even add some almond milk….haha!

That should do it for now. Enjoy what is left of summer where ever you are, I know that is our plan here.

 

Weekly Meal Recap: Plant Based Meal Ideas…Plus This Weeks Training Schedule

As promised here is our first documented week of 80% plant based meals. If you missed why this lifestyle change was made you can read about it by clicking here.

Once again this week I was solo from Monday morning on. So some meals were thrown together quickly with very little prep time involved since it was just me.

Saturday: veggie lo mein

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Sunday: farro shrimp with lemon, dill, zucchini, and peas

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Monday: sun dried tomato and spinach casserole with artichokes

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Tuesday: leftover casserole from the night before

Wednesday: braised cauliflower and spinach

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Thursday: leftover braised cauliflower and spinach from the night before

Friday: take out

I am amazed how much easier it is to cook without meat. I never have to worry about trying to remember to take out anything to unthaw and plus not having to cook meat saves so much time in the cooking process. It’s a win win for me in time and health.

And for those of you who are watching my workout schedule for our upcoming hiking trip here is what this week was like.

Monday: rest…..we were up way to early for my husband to catch his flight, so just getting through the day was a workout in itself

Tuesday: morning gym session: 30 minute elliptical and weights

***hills were scheduled also for the evening hours but we had major thunderstorms all night…so we cancelled them

Wednesday:  20 hill laps

Thursday: morning gym session: 30 minutes elliptical and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: lawn cutting and chores

Sunday: 3.5 mile hike IMG_8435

All in all a good week. I am keeping up with home life and fitting in workouts the best I can when solo.We have a lot of things being scheduled in our lives right now, so my workouts are the one thing that keep me level headed in all the chaos. This I am thankful for.

 

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?

 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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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