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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Weekly Meal Plans….Back By Popular Demand/Weekend Recap

Our weekend started off as a weekend away camping…..and was changed mid week due to weather concerns. Whomp Whomp! So my husband who was suppose to be setting up our tent to sleep in, instead started preparing his ice fishing supplies by setting up his ice shack instead.

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Then I had planned a night away with a friend….and this was changed last minute due to illness! Whomp Whomp!

So ultimately, I was home all weekend. I started Christmas shopping, I ran some errands, I got in two awesome workouts at the gym, I took care of some daycare business, and the hubby and I hiked a nearby trail together.

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Not the weekend I had planned but you know, life happens and plans change and you sometimes just have to roll with it.

Anyhow, lets move on. I have had a few requests for our weekly meal plans again. I used to post these but never really thought anyone followed….I guess I was wrong. And now that we follow an artificial sweetener free diet, my meal plans have been changed up and I have found myself revamping many recipes I have prepared for years to be much cleaner than before. So back by popular demand, I will be posting my weekly meal plans for you to read. I will not be including recipes but if you find something that looks yummy, don’t be afraid to ask what the recipe was. I will be happy to share anything with you.

Saturday: dill caper farro, grilled salmon with lemon and onions, and baked squash.

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Sunday: fajita brats with onions, peppers, and mushrooms, over quinoa

Monday: mexican tortilla stack(meatless)

Tuesday: stuffed manicotti with cottage cheese, spinach, mushrooms and pesto, with marinara sauce and melted cheese over the top. served with bread sticks (meatless)

Wednesday: cowboy caviar filled wonton cups and side salads

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Thursday: egg frittata(recipe here)

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Friday: out

You will find that two nights a week we try and eat meatless meals….more if I can get away with it but my husband and son like their meat. And every meal is made strictly without the use of artificial sweeteners so my husband does not feel ill. If you missed why this diet change happened you can read about it here.

I will try and post our weekly meal plan on Sundays. Our week typically runs from Saturday to Friday since I almost always grocery shop on Fridays for the following week. Let me know if you see something you like. And by all means, if you prepare something yummy please share it with me….I am always searching for meals to prepare that are as clean as possible so everyone is happy.

 

Weekend Recap….REI Garage Sale Deals, BBQ, and a Trail

We had a fantastic weekend….I can’t believe it’s over with already.

Our weekend started with an early morning rise and shine wake up at 4a.m. to leave and hit the road by 5a.m. and travel to our nearest REI outdoor store for a “garage sale”. This is something we do about twice a year and this time we brought our son and his friend along for their first one ever. Even though it was cold(very cold) and very early…it sure was nice to stand in line and talk with individuals that have done we we do. Many of us have seen the same places and have experienced the awwww that we have experienced in our adventures. The way that we can all understand each other and the need to be outside and in nature is something I cherish since many people don’t understand the meaning behind what we do. Anyhow, this is always quite an event. We have seen breakfast prepared in line numerous times.

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It’s sort of like Black Friday for outdoor lovers since there is always people that camp out overnight.

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However, this time we really were quite chilled. I ended up sitting in the vehicle twice to warm up in two hours of waiting in line, all while the guys kept our spot.

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In the end it was all worth it. I found my next pair of Keen hiking boots, my first pair of Chaco sandals, my husband found some treasures, and so did our son. Well worth the early wake up call, the chill we had for the rest of the day, and the fun we had chatting with others.

After this it was one more retail store….Trader Joe’s….oh boy, did we find treasures here and then it was time to eat lunch. We were all very hungry and I had been told of this BBQ restaurant in the near by city of Grafton from a friend. Which was also on our way home so we decided to give it a try. What a nice little city this ended up being.

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We found this restaurant easily located off the highway.

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The atmosphere was clean, friendly and welcoming.

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The menu was huge….so much to choose from and so many great entrees.

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And when our food arrived I was in heaven. And remember, I am not a big meat eater and this was some of the best BBQ I have ever eaten. I ordered the brisket reuben and its was fabulous.

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It was so huge I hardly touched my fries. They offer six different style BBQ sauces at the table for you to choose from and numerous different sides to replace the fries if you wish.I highly recommend visiting this place if your in the area of Grafton, WI and love BBQ.

Sunday consisted of meal prep, chores, and a solo trail walk since the hubby was off doing his own thing and our son was working.

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I came across the first snake sighting of 2017 that I could actually capture a picture of since he had no hope of moving anytime soon. If you know how much I LOVE  despise these creatures, you will also know this was the best way for me to see them….dead!

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I also witness a boy catch a very nice northern pike on the Bay of Green Bay ice fishing.

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All in all it was a wonderful weekend. Lots of family time, some alone time, and some much needed fun all wrapped into two days.

Spring Is In The Air….

After an uneventful week it was so nice to wake up Saturday morning to 35 degree temperatures and make plans to head outside for a little fresh air. However, I had a list of things I needed to tend to first…..work before play is how it has always been at our house. So we got right on it Saturday morning, all pitching in so we could head outside for some fun.

While I made boiled eggs, chopped dipping veggies for the upcoming week, and started the laundry, my husband gave the pimento cheese spread recipe remake another try. We attempted one but it was not nearly what the one in Tennessee was so we again tried another. Hopefully this one is a winner.

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After this it was time to clean, do a few home repairs, eat some lunch and then we headed outside for that much needed fresh air.

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We drove to one of our favorite trails once again and decided today would be the wooden adventure route….one we never take in the summer due to tooooo many snakes!!! It was so nice. It was so peaceful with the wind howling through the pine trees up above.

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On our way back to the parking area, I was amazed at the number of people out on the bay ice fishing along with numerous snowmobilers. I am not a fan of ice fishing or driving on ice for that matter. Too risky for my liking.

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Ok, so let me share with you what I did for exercise this week. It’s more for my sake than yours…..I know, but it keeps me accountable. So here we go…

Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, abs and shoulders on the TRX suspension trainer

Monday: home: abs and upper body weight routine, and 2.5 mile evening walk outside….fresh air was so nice

Tuesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, abs and legs, stretching

Wednesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, abs, and stretching

Thursday: rest…..foam rolling

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Friday: home: upper body weight routine and abs

Saturday: 2.5 mile snowy trail hike

You all have a great week as we count down to SPRING!!!!

 

 

Brrrrrrr….It’s Getting Chilly

Oh boy, it’s getting chilly outside already.

Which in my house means it’s time for pumpkin muffins, comfort food and dinner meals to be enjoyed indoors again instead of outside on the porch. Some of our favorites are beef stroganoff, chicken piccata,  and homemade potpie with a corn bread crust.

chicken piccata

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Soon enough we will be arguing about when it’s cold enough to turn on the heat, if there is enough ice to ice fish on safely (which in my opinion, there is never enough to do this sport SAFELY) and we will need to adjust the alarm clock for yet another hour earlier for the predicted snowstorm to dump on us overnight and my husband to still make it to work on time. It’s amazing how much 3a.m. differs from 4a.m. when ultimately, its only an hour difference. But that hour makes all the difference in the world to me.

Our leaves have started falling and are adding color to our lawn.

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Workouts are easier and much cooler to do at this time of year. And ironically enough, the sun going down sooner makes me even more motivated to go to the gym in the evening. I always feel like in the summer months, I am wasting daylight going to exercise in a gym surrounded by four walls and lights. So, it getting dark a bit earlier I don’t mind so much at this stage.

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Soon, I need to go through my backpack and add some hand warmers, an extra pair of socks, and I will be able to take out the bug spray and head nets, which is always a good swap in my mind. And hopefully we will find time to start geocaching again, along with finishing a trail we started mid summer, and also get in a bit more disc golf before the nets are all taken down for the winter.

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Well, that’s it for me right now. Morning comes early and I have a full crew arriving bright and early. My hope is to have some crock pot recipes for you all real soon….that is if all goes well this week and I find time to type. If not you can rest assured that I made it, ate it,and enjoyed it, but just didn’t get time to type it up cause I was hiking, exercising, or just having fun doing other things in the great outdoors.

 

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Home Alone!

On rare occasions I find myself home alone. And when I say rare, I mean hardly ever.

You all know my husband and I do almost everything together as far as activities go. However, there is one thing I am not willing to do …..that is ice fishing. I have tried it a few times when we first started dating but clearly it was not for me. You can’t say your surprised…..freezing temperatures, holding still in a very small ice shack for hours and wearing layers and layers of clothing….nope not my idea of fun. Although, I would never tell him he can’t go, which he did Saturday for the first time this winter. He left bright and early, our son was scheduled to work bright and early, which meant I had the entire house to myself. So I said my goodbyes and they left and I immediately made a list.

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I can get so much done in so little time when alone that it’s amazing. During the week some things are just impossible to try and accomplish with kids running around everywhere. So this was my moment to get it done.

First priority was to get the crock pot chili going so I could assemble some freezer meals later in the day. I love this chili recipe, it’s so, so, so simple but tasty and freezes wonderfully for my husband lunch on days we don’t have leftovers from the night before.

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Then I threw in a load of laundry and decided to get my husbands shirts ironed and out of the way. Ironing is not my favorite thing to do. And this is definitely one of the chores I can not do with kids hanging on my legs during the week.

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Next, it was time to clean the front hall where all my parents enter our home. The one thing that drives me crazy about winter is the “gravel yard” we are blessed with from the salt/stone mixture in parking lots everywhere. Shoes carry this yuck in and somehow my little ones find these little gravel pieces and attempt to eat them. So cleaning the front hall is often a daily chore, if not twice a day. While I was at it a complete vacuuming was also done.

Then it was time to switch the laundry, add another load, and get ready for the gym. I love morning workouts. They give you so much energy, are off the to do list, and it’s just a great way to start a day. I grabbed a snack, my gym bag and headed out the door.

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It’s then that I remembered our driveway was like an ice skating rink. The night before we had a freezing rain event for a few hours which left everything covered with a nice layer of solid ice. So I ended up taking a little detour before the gym to a local hardware store for a bag if salt.

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After the gym I returned home to fold laundry, shower and then I took a few hours of “me time” and went shopping for some items I have had on my list for awhile. Happily, I found everything I was looking for and then some….like usual! Those darn clearance racks get me every time….but I did find two awesome pair of yoga pants and another work shirt for my husband (that doesn’t need ironing..yehhh) so I had to purchase them.  IMG_3328

On the way home I decided on dinner, pasties for everyone. Easy, fast and yummy! Since Saturday is normally my day off from cooking dinner, this was as good as anything to throw in and enjoy.

It was a wonderful Saturday I must admit. I got everything on my list done and then some. I couldn’t ask for a better outcome. Oh, and by the way….ice fishing was a success!

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