Time To Catch Up

Warning: Long post ahead:-)

Life has been so crazy that I have been struggling to find time to blog. However, that does not mean I don’t have a ton of stuff to share with you all. So let’s briefly catch up a bit today.

I mentioned back a few weeks that we were headed out to waterfall hike. Well, I have 6 waterfall hikes that need to be written and posted on the hiking trails page and hopefully I will get to them before the snow flies but if not, winter is LONG and that will be something to blog about then. For now, I will tell you we had a magnificent time and while my husband and I ventured off alone leaving the photographers do their thing…we came across one of my favorite reptiles ever. I love turtles…even ones that bite!!!!!

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We also had another monthly dinner out with my brother recently and it was his pick on the restaurant so we ended up trying Green Bay’s newest sushi restaurant….Sushi Lover.

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Oh my….I could eat sushi every day…..it was so darn tasty. I loved this place. Everything was made fresh, you can order as many times as you wish, and it is one flat price. My husband and brother can sure pack away their share of sushi…..and I had fun watching them fill themselves to complete fullness from about that half way point of our meal.

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Then we had our first camping trip of the fall season. This time it was only the two of us and it was so relaxing.

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He was in charge of keeping the fire going so I could stay warm.

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I was in charge of meals for the weekend.

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My only request for the weekend was to relax, go out for our favorite pizza at the new location of our favorite restaurant in the Door County area which is Wild Tomato now open also in Sister Bay, and to go out just once for ice cream before the end of summer. All of which we made happen.

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We used to go out for ice cream all the time….heck, we used to go out for anything all the time…but since going artificial sweetener free for his stomach issues we can’t without causing problems. Although, since getting this all under control, it has gotten easier to go out here and there and he only gets a little stomach upset if we go overboard. Some foods and restaurants we have found are fairly safe for him to eat at…like sushi…..this causes little to no problems at all.

While camping we also got in a small two mile hike which was the highlight of the weekend. I love hiking and it makes me sad to know that very soon the ground will be rock hard and frozen solid for months.

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Then I had a mid week day off of work which I packed way to much stuff into. I had three appointments to attend and a date with my son for lunch at a new restaurant in Green Bay near his work.

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That evening my husband and I walked my favorite nearby trail to discuss the results of one of these appointments in a place I feel peaceful.

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There is nothing like a beautiful sunset to reset my mind and make me come to terms with news I don’t like hearing. Although, as with all things, we will move on and deal with what comes our way.

In the food category the fall menu has arrived here in our house. Soups are being made, the last of the fresh veggies are being enjoyed everyday and I am even sneaking in veggies where my husband and son would least expect them. So far no one has complained and they have even asked for more. From salads, to veggies added to pasta sauces for the entire family instead of just myself, and even carrot muffins…..eating clean and healthy is getting to be so much easier.

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And lastly, this past weekend I spent with a friend attending a harvest festival in Door County. I was not sure I could pull off another weekend away but when travel plans were set back a bit for my husband I went for it. We had the best time chatting, shopping, and of course eating.

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That should catch me up to date I believe. Eventually I will get to the details of those beautiful waterfalls but for now I will leave you all with the reminder to get out and enjoy life while it’s still nice. Go hike, enjoy the beautiful fall colors that are starting to appear, and breathe the fresh air……see ya!

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Recent Eats….Still Adjusting To Our New Way Of Eating- Artificial Sweetener Free

If you recall back in May of this year we changed up our diets completely free of artificial sweeteners to hopefully help with some of the issues my husband was experiencing with his health. Read about my first update here. The change has been remarkable but you may wonder how this has changed life for me…the main cook in the house. Well, it’s hard at times but I just need to think back at how frustrated I used to be when we would be ready to go somewhere and I would have to wait once AGAIN for him to use the bathroom. So ultimately, I’m happily adjusting.

One downfall I face is we can’t eat out just anywhere anymore.We have no more delivery to our home. No matter how tired I am, how much I don’t feel like cooking or simply don’t want to clean up the kitchen once again….I need to cook 99% of the time. Take for instance the evening we went out with my brother to Red Lobster….my husbands favorite restaurant for crab legs.

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He had plain old crab legs, one biscuit and two chips of the artichoke appetizer with water to drink. He then woke up in the middle of the night miserable and for two days later he was miserable. We think it was probably the biscuit but it could have been the dip or both for all we know. Two days of misery for crab legs….not worth it in my opinion and he agreed after the fact. This is typically how eating out goes. He tries to pick healthy, sometimes can’t resist his favorite things, and sometimes all is good after and sometimes not. However, I will say since this big change we have been venturing out a bit and trying new organic restaurants in our area and we have found one nearby that is a big winner. It has the best ever reuben sandwich and has passed the test since he felt no ill results after we ate here together.

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Salad dressing/sauces are still a battle. I am using more fresh herbs and spices than ever before and experimenting with recipes I find online and some I make up as I go. Some are winners and some are not but I am not giving up yet.

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I’ve even invested in a dressing shaker bottle since making dressings in a jar with a lid tends to be a bit messy which drives me a bit crazy.

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I am giddy to report that I can once again put meal salads on the menu and he can eat them with no adverse effects. I have to believe its the dressings that caused the bad reaction but with his stomach so messed up trying to process the raw veggies that are often in salads it had to be torture on his insides. All this is in the past and we are once again enjoying salads…yeah!!!!

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We have even been using our spiralizer more since before I found it a waste of time being I was the only one eating the veggies I spiralized. Now, I can make a whole dish and we both can enjoy it.

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Casseroles were, by far, the hardest adjustment with the most changes. Probably since sauces often combine the casseroles together and as I said above, sauces and dressings are terribly tainted with artificial sweetener. Cheese and half and half make a great sauce when simmered together with other herbs, spices, and ingredients. I have done this mixture with a number of different dishes and seems to be one of our favorites.Take for instance this dish pictured here.

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The ingredients are simple: deboned roasted chicken, sundried tomatoes puree, garlic, half and half, pasta, kale, and parmesan cheese. Mixed all together makes a fabulous meal and goes a long way to feed a crown…in my case, my family(three adults) and three kids for lunch the next day, plus lunch for my husband once again the next day. How is that for a hearty, fast, easy meal?

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Or chicken piccata with leek and pea pods was also a big hit recently. So yummy, yet so easy to do with a few ingredients. Just the way I like it on a busy weekday.

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And when I am really just not feeling in the cooking mood or simply need a break….I lay out the ingredients, leave directions, and he prepares the meal while I escape to venture beyond to new tasting adventures. I did this once this week with a friend and tried Ethiopian cuisine for the first time. I can’t wait to tell you about this experience in an upcoming post. HINT: It was fabulous!!!!!!!!!!

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All in all, I would say we are adjusting quite well to our new lifestyle of no artificial sweeteners in our food. Was it difficult….yes! Was it worth it….for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Random Thoughts

Hi, how is your week going? Mine is good….and almost over, yeh!!! Just a few more hours to go.

With no great workouts to share with you all since I am mostly just walking area trails and riding my bike giving my body time to heal, I thought I would share some random things today. My brain is often like a never ending trail to nowhere and sharing it sometimes helps relieve some of the “pressure” shall we say.

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I’ve been up to a lot but at the same time not so much….is that possible? Makes no sense I know but that is how I feel lately. Summer has not been what I thought it would be and now we are into August and we all know what that means….it’s almost over! It’s weird to think my mind still runs on the school calendar when my son has not been in grade school for years already. How do us moms break out of this and just take every day as it is….I haven’t figured that out quite yet but I am working on it? Which is why, as of the end of August, I consider summer over. However, I know in my mind we have plenty of nice days left in September and even some in October but ultimately it comes to an end so quickly.

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Speaking of September and October, I do believe I have over booked all our weekends once again for these two months. Fall is the best time in my opinion to hike, camp, explore the area and enjoy harvest time. Bugs are dying down some, colors start to appear, veggies are plenty, and it’s cooler so camping and hiking are much more pleasurable. Now I just have to find a way to tell my husband I only left him two weekends for hunting in the fall months….he may not like this very much!

Anyhow, let me tell about some treasures I have found lately. First, I must give a big shout out to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market here in our area. We have fell in love with their meat department and if you know me, that is saying A LOT! I am not a meat lover but my husband is. I have a hard time buying it, preparing it and eating it but my attitude has changed a bit since this store has opened. We are loving their meats.

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I have also found an essential oil room freshener that I love and does not cost an arm and a leg. (I paid $7) I hate chemical fresheners and don’t want the overwhelming smell of a plug in oil freshener since I don’t want the aroma all the time. Which makes this spray perfect and I can use it when I wish and not gag when I spray it in my home like the chemical fresheners cause me to do. I know it says it can be used as a body mist also but I have not gone this route…I strictly use it for our home and vehicles.

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Once again I am attempting to grow my green thumb and I am going to try and grow a prickly pear plant or two. We fell in love with this fruit in Arizona and I recently kept the seeds from one we purchased here in WI. I would bet it’s not going to grow and if it does it may not survive but I have to give it a try. Here’s hoping for a touch of the southwest in good old Green Bay. On the flip side, if I do not succeed at growing one myself I can always plan another trip for fresh fruit. I know none of my family would object to returning to this area.

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Speaking of vacations, we are inching our way closer to our next one and I cannot wait to step foot on the A.T.( Appalachian Trail) once again. Back in January 2017 I made this dream come true and finally got to log some miles on the A.T. with my husband and son. Our next trip will bring us back to the A.T. only in a different state and I plan to log even more miles and hopefully make more wonderful memories. However, this time it will be just the two of us since our son recently started his new job and is not bale to join us for this adventure.

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That shall be it for today. Enjoy your weekend…..that’s my plan.

 

 

 

Sometimes In Life We Must Learn To Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.

Can you believe July is almost over with? Sad but true…summer is quickly coming to an end. I still have not taken my SUP out on the water since I am still suffering from a sore stomach muscle(hopefully). And kayaking for us has been very minimal this summer. It’s funny to see how we have changed over the past few years. We used to whitewater kayak every single weekend. Have we now grown up? No, I would not call it that so much. I would say life has just changed dynamics and time and logistics plays a big part in what we do now. River kayaking takes two vehicles, a nice day, and many of our kayaking companions were younger and have since all gone off to college or are in the pursuit of life as it should be. Do I miss river kayaking? Yes, at times. However, I do have my doubts I could still do it with the changes I have experienced since having abdominal surgery in Jan. 2016. I do not have much strength in my core at all and typically suffer for days when I paddle a calm lake. I highly doubt I could fight current in a river much less add some rapids on top of it.

Sometimes in life, we must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I have come to terms with what I have been left with after this surgery. Well…. for the most part. It’s not like I had a choice in this whole matter but it has changed me quite a bit. It seems like my whole life is a matter of, I used to do that and now I do this instead. I am thankful for the fun I can still have and don’t dwell on the things I can no longer do. I’ve learned to be thankful for each day and to make the most of the moments of fun I do have. It saddens me to see people I know always thriving for long range plans and missing out on what’s right in front of them at this time. I have learned the importance of NOW, not later, since who really knows if later will ever come.

On that note, here is what my week was like for exercise with a very sore stomach muscle. So sore that I sought out a medical opinion mid week. Which if you know me, medical opinions mean very little but sometimes it is needed. At least the doc and I agree at this point to give it a bit longer…time will tell what comes next.

Saturday: 3.25 mile hike on the UWGB loop

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Sunday: 3.7 mile hike on the Terrell’s Island breakwater trail

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Monday: 3.0 mile rail trail walk…I saw my first albino squirrel today

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Tuesday: rest….visit to the doc for my stomach pain made me cancel exercise tonight

Wednesday: legs workout in our home gym and 1.5 mile solo trail walk (I had a time limitation tonight…so I had to be quick)

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Thursday: 30 minute recumbent bike in our home gym and legs workout

Friday: rest

That should do it for me this week. Have a great weekend everyone!

 

My Definition Of A Successful Week

Ahhh, the weekend is finally here in a few short hours. Anyone else just need a weekend….I sure do.

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This week I really changed things up in my schedule and it has brought me some great success. For one, I began working out in the early morning in our home gym before my daycare children arrive. Summers for me are exhausting to put it mildly and by nap time I am pooped out which is normally when I would have my first workout of the day….my second being after dinner in the evenings so my husband can join me. Well, lately I have been waking up sore and quite miserable…..especially after street walking the evening before for our normal 3 miles. So Tuesday when I woke up…..I felt like &$#@, and I said to myself,”Karen, you know how to fix this…go downstairs and stretch, move, and exercise!” So I did and let me tell you…..I felt amazing the remainder of the day. And since this was such a great feeling, I did this every morning the rest of the week and have decided to continue doing so. Moving my body is always the best medicine…..how could I forget that?

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Speaking of street walking…..I have been walking for well over 10 years now on a very regular basis for three miles minimum. This is how I began my weight loss journey way back when and this is still what brings me the most peace. However, the past three years or so it is also what brings me the most pain in my joints. Let’s face it, I am not getting any younger and my joints are telling me this every single day.  After Monday evenings walk with my husband I was miserable and said to him that I do believe my days of black top/concrete exercise are over. Facing reality for some is difficult…..for me it’s more about feeling better than anything. I can walk forever on dirt/crushed gravel and wooded trails but give me concrete and I would have to say no if its any great distance. At this stage of life it’s more about heart health, stress relief, and staying healthy…..not about mileage. And lets face it, even though the street is very convenient, close to home, and requires no driving to get to to exercise….trails are all around us and they offer so much more than just joint pounding pain on a hard surface. A great example would be this trail on Tuesday evening….exercise, wildlife, and veggies….who could ask for anything more.

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My entire week in exercise ended up being this:

Sunday: gym workout on the elliptical

Monday: 3 mile street walk, weights in our home gym

Tuesday: 2 mile trail walk, 30 minute recumbent bike and weights in our home gym

Wednesday: weights in our home gym, 30 minute recumbent bike at home

Thursday: weights in our home gym, cut the lawn

(***I love lawn cutting but rarely get the pleasure since I work later than the rest of my family and I can’t start our lawn mower on my own. Today I got done working early…so I jumped at this chance to cut the lawn)

Friday: weights in our home gym

All in all it was a successful week. Workouts were great, body feels good, food journal is looking good, and meals were mostly spent eaten outside on our porch…..which means summer is in full swing. We even had the pleasure of sushi one evening right after a big thunderstorm. If that don’t spell summer….I don’t know what does.

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What’s your definition of a successful week?

How have your workouts changed over the years?

How Do I Get It All Done? I Don’t!

 

I am often asked how I get it all done. It’s a question that sometimes annoys me because getting IT ALL DONE can mean so many different things to so many different people. So I really never know how to answer this question when it is asked. Although, I feel I do a pretty good job of being a wife, mother, daycare provider, barber, accountant, dishwasher, home maker, yard person, chef, first aid provider, and still have time for me. So for all my friends, family, and acquaintances who have asked me this, let me tell you how I do what I do.

First, just let me say…..I don’t get it all done. If I got it all done I would probably never sleep since it would be a full 24 hour a day job. However, I do follow a pretty strict schedule. Which is my first suggestion…make a schedule and stick to it. For instance, here at my house, I do laundry every single day except Saturday. I clean the bathrooms Tuesday, dust/scrub floors Monday, vacuum every single day(sometimes twice a day), garbage goes out on Tuesday, bills are done on Thursday, lawn gets cut once a week(sometimes twice), daycare bedding along with our bedding gets washed every two weeks unless needed before, garage gets swept once a week, dishes are done at least three times a day, ironing gets done on Wednesday, and dinner is prepared every evening except Friday. This schedule is very rarely changed up and some things are delegated to other members of my family. Lawn is typically husband or son, vacuuming is also husband or son if its the evening vacuum…..everything else is on me. All this is completed while I also work full time caring for three children all under the age of 3 yrs old. Add in a daily workout session for myself, kid cuddle time, play time, and time to eat and my days are full.

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How do I manage…..well I have a few other tips for everyone:

* Wake up early. Get what you can done before the kids wake up….in my instance before they arrive(6a.m.). Or if your a night owl, stay up late and get it done then.

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*Routine …routine…. routine. Having a schedule which becomes a routine after awhile helps me to know what the day holds in store. I know Mondays are my hardest days so dinner is typically something easy and fast.

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*Don’t be afraid to use your kids and spouse for help. Kids as young as two can lend a hand…plus it teaches them responsibility.

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*Don’t forget time for yourself. Sometimes we become so involved in life matters that our needs get pushed to the back of the line. Don’t let this happen. Schedule time for you just like time for laundry,dishes, and meal prep.

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*Organization is key. I am a very organized person and it helps so much to know exactly where things are when I need them. Even my daycare kids are taught from very young….things go back where we got them. They know exactly what is going to happen when. And having a routine is truly priceless when it comes to living a crazy, busy life here in our house.

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*Make a list. If you find it hard to stay on track try making a list. I am a professional list maker and have noticed my son is catching on now that he is an adult. I have lists every where. I have a weekly menu which then helps me make my weekly grocery list so food is not bought that may be wasted. I have a packing list for when we travel, lists for where I want to vacation, and lists for daily chores. You name it…. I have a list.

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Pre prep if you can. For me timing is everything. Many people may think I relax at nap time if I am so lucky to get everyone on the same napping schedule. This is not true….I typically exercise first and pre prep dinner during nap time. This way when my last child is picked up I can switch gears back to wife and mother and quickly throw together dinner before I hit the gym or my nightly exercise of choice. I find chopping veggies for the week on the weekends is helpful and taking things like sun dried tomatoes and pureeing them and then freezing them makes for a fast sauce additive with very little prep during the week.

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There is never a day where I feel like I got everything done. Although, there are days where I feel I have accomplished a lot and I am happy with the day. I used to stress over the fact that not everything got done but I quickly learned it never really changed anything. For me, I prioritize and the things that need attention get it…. from a chore around the house, to a particular person, or to simply myself. You need to have priorities. My family knows, if mom is not happy no one will be happy. Thankfully, I have a marriage where if either of us needs time apart we can simply say so and it’s not a problem. If we need some couple time we can also just say so and it happens. If I need help my husband is typically ready and waiting to lend a hand.

After all this is said, I will never say I don’t at times need an afternoon pick me up. My days are long and often exhausting, especially in the summer months where it is hot and we spend all day outside enjoying summer. When these days happen I will often turn to a afternoon chilled latte…..but believe me it is never in a fancy glass with ice cubes to keep it chilled while I sit on the front porch and enjoy it during nap time. Nope….never. Instead, it is straight from the frig, with a splash of almond milk added right to to container it was stored in, and gulped down withing minutes so I have time to workout before my first child decides they are not going to sleep on this particular day for whatever reason.

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Plus, in all honesty…..a fancy glass would just be one more dish I would need to wash and put away later on. It tastes the same from the storage container as it would from a fancy glass…..right?

I learned along time ago, what does not get done today will still be there tomorrow. I no longer sweat the small stuff….it’s just not worth the stress.

 

 

 

 

Bonus Freezer Meals, Big Decisions, and Bad Luck For Someone All Rolled Into One Week

After a fabulous Easter dinner last Sunday with my husband and son we had, once again, tons of food left over for the week.

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Which meant I had to come up with ideas to use up the leftovers. From ham soup to ham and hash brown egg bake…we enjoyed ham for a few days.

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I also needed to concentrate on restocking our freezer meals so I planned the weekly menu around doing this. We enjoyed no boil lasagna one night and sloppy joes another. Both meals leaving plenty to package and freeze for fast lunches to send with my husband for work.

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Workouts this week were pretty good. I am still dealing with a sore middle back….but foam rolling has been offering some relief. I think some of it may be stress which I am trying to figure out and deal with.

Easter Sunday: 2.5 mile hike with my husband

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Monday: another 2.5 mile hike on the same trail….only much, much colder and windy today and upper body weights at home

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Tuesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, abs and legs workout, and foam rolling my back muscles

Wednesday: 3 mile evening walk and upper body weights at home

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Thursday: gym : 30 minute elliptical and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: solo hike on two different trails for a total of 4 miles

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Some weeks it helps to try and find the positive and not focus on the negatives. Not that it was that bad of a week but there are some decisions I am struggling with and I know I have to deal with them soon. Losing sleep over things I cannot change is one thing but losing sleep over things I can change is another. It’s not good for anyone since I really need my sleep. So I need to get on this and soon.

On the positive side of things….at least I am not this guy with this dilemma!!!!! Mother Nature and her fury won again after a windy ride on the Bay of Green Bay, this guy had his sail ripped right from his hands and thrown up into a tree. Talk about bad luck….Yikes!!!!

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