Food Can Be Your Medicine Or Your Poison…..You Choose

This is a reader request update:

The statement that food can be your medicine or your poison has become so true in our home. As I wrote about in the past few weeks(here and here) you can only imagine how hard it has been revamping everything we eat to not contain artificial sweetener and make my husband ill.

Take a look through my pantry and you will see cans, bottles, and packages marked with a big NO on the item…meaning it contains some kind of artificial sweetener he cannot eat. There are very few items left in my home but making this mistake will cause him illness for at least a day or two afterwards. I am slowly but surely getting rid of the items or using them up in meals he is not home to eat…since making two separate meals is not something I care to do for us as a family. I look at it as….we are all getting a bit healthier and not consuming something that was made in a lab or a test tube or where ever they come up with this poison.

Now, I know there are a few of you that have contacted me either through comments or through email wanting to know specifics of what foods all contain artificial sweetener. And some have even asked what a days worth of food looks like for my husband. First, I cannot answer the question of what foods all contain this. There are literally so many its impossible to list them all. You will just have to do what we did….make a list and read the labels. Second, I did document what my husband eats in two days for all of you. Although, I seriously don’t know how this will help anyone since we all have different likes and dislikes but it’s what many of you asked for so here is a glance into two days of food for my husband. Everything is artificial sweetener free.

DAY 1:

Breakfast: bagel with whipped cream cheese and fresh fruit (for this meal we needed to change our originally used cream cheese and the bagels we normally bought)

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Lunch: homemade chicken salad on toast with lettuce, broccoli with ranch dipping cup(bottled ranch has sweetener, dipping cups do not…figure that one out???)

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Snack: peanut butter and apples

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Dinner: stuffed zucchini boats with spices, ground turkey, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and organic canned tomatoes. Milk(not shown)

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Day 2:

Breakfast: two hard boiled eggs and a banana

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Snack: plain coconut water smoothie with blended strawberries and vanilla yogurt(yogurt is a big sweetened item…watch the label closely)

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Lunch: BLT pasta salad(recipe here)

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Dinner: sauteed shrimp on a hoagie roll (sweetener free), with homemade seven layer salad. Milk

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Since this all took place, I also make our meals when we go on an outing. Here is a great example of a recent meal while kayaking. We each had a homemade chicken salad hoagie, cheese chunks, fresh strawberries/kiwi, two hard boiled eggs. Lara bars were for extra snacks if we ended up staying too long and got hungry on the ride home.

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You may wonder why always homemade chicken salad for our sandwiches. Let me tell you, I for one, do not eat lunch meat since our first trip ever to Zion National Park and our guides told us how long it will last in our backpacks with out refrigeration in the dessert heat. I swore right then and there to never eat lunch meat again! This is just one of the many things I learned on that trip from two of the best guides. Anyhow, almost, if not all, lunch meat I find in the grocery store contains sweetener…so it’s easier for me just to whip up a quick batch of chicken salad for our sandwiches.

For snacks he has come to like pretzels, some ice creams are ok, and some crackers which he loves. We also found some chocolate candy that he is enjoying and recently were surprised to come across some of his favorite types of candy made in an organic variety. Which, as I told you in the past, just because it says organic don’t always mean it does not contain artificial sweetener(crazy I know) so he did not get his hopes to high until we read the label and all was good. He then bought one of every variety and was thrilled to have his precious candy again. What a sweet tooth he has….let me tell you.

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Drinks are also a big thing we needed to change in our house. He is a peach tea lover and the original peach tea we bought had all artificial sweetener in it. So now we buy a different brand and all is good again. He has also tried organic Gatorade for our hot and very active days…he says its different but good. I have since ordered an artificial sweetener free electrolyte drink mix that has not arrived yet for him to try. Hopefully it tastes ok since it’s much cheaper than the organic Gatorade.

So this is what a normal two days now looks like for my husband. A fairly healthy diet with no artificial sugar what so ever in any of these items. The hardest part was ridding our house of what we already had. Now it’s just a matter of remembering to read labels on anything new. Holidays may be tough when they come around but for the most part we are the hosts so I prepare most of the food anyhow.  For now it’s one day at a time and each day he feels better and better.

I am pretty proud of him for sticking to this since he has never really been a label reader. Although, he says he can easily cheat and eat something if he wants but nothing is worth going back to the way he used to feel. So as of today he has not looked back even once.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Photos Speak Louder Than Words-Memorial Day Weekend 2017

Since photos often speak louder than words…..let me recap Memorial Day weekend for you simply using photos and very few words.

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Wow, what a weekend!!! We finally dusted off our paddles from the long winter, had a little fog one morning, rain another morning, and relived a place that we use to take our son every year when he was smaller. We enjoyed dinner outside at our favorite place….the front porch and we all are feeling rejuvenated and ready for a great summer ahead.

Did you do anything fun you care to share….if so feel free to comment?

 

 

 

Time For A Good Ole’ Brain Dump

Where did May go? I seriously feel as if it just began and we are almost to the end, ready to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, and begin summer. I would never say I am not ready for summer but this year I have an assortment of things I want to get on the calendar but have not quite pinned any certain dates down quite yet.

A lot has been happening around here which could be adding to my craziness…..new jobs mean new schedules, new eating restrictions mean careful menu planning, a new grocery store mean a girls date night needs to be set to check this out, camping plans, kayaking/SUP plans, gym visits have been pushed aside for exercise outdoors, new summer recipes being run through in my head but rarely make it to the dinner table, and so on. Yeh, I am a bit overwhelmed….add work, sleep, and yard work to the mix and well, you could say I am a bit stressed. However, I know summer only last a few short months and when winter comes along I have all the time in the world to catch up so I have to say…..bring it on….I am so ready!

First, lets talk new job. Our son started his new job and is really enjoying it so far. You all know he is working on becoming a professional photographer and this new job is right up his alley. Yes, I am sure there will be some hiccups along the way but all in good time things will work out. And, as a bonus, we may be able to get back to river kayaking easier since he should have one day off every weekend. Without three people and two vehicles it is next to impossible to kayak a river and have a chase vehicle for the end.

New diet restrictions have come into play here when after so long and no results you start to become your own medical advocate. Two years ago after receiving a diagnosis of IBS regarding stomach issues that my husband was having and seeing no results as far as improvement, I finally did some researching myself. (Especially since you all know how I feel about the medical profession in regards to taking 3 years to find my issue when I saw numerous specialists….I no longer have a whole lot of trust in doctors.) I read numerous articles, research documents, and testimonies from patients regarding the issues artificial sweeteners added to our foods can cause a body. After some thought and label reading of some of the food my husband loves to eat…..I was mortified to say the least. I then approached him, we discussed it, and he said he would try anything, so we kicked this plan into action immediately. And now I am here to tell you that in some cases IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome) may be a definite diagnosis but in other cases it is simply a case of BS(Bull Shit)!!!! He has been on this no artificial sweetener diet for three weeks and is a completely different person!!!!! He has lost so much belly bloat it is amazing…..I wish we would have measured his stomach before this all took place since it’s simply unbelievable. We are trying to figure out how his work travel will allow this type of diet since eating out is sometimes a challenge but I am confident we nailed this one and he is on his way to feeling better once again. If you have been diagnoses with IBS and are not seeing your symptoms improve with diet and/or medication….give this a try….you may be happily surprised. He sure was and he has even started enjoying some of the foods that use to almost kill him like sprouts again.

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Now, this has me so completely excited it is really quite funny when you think about it…..we are getting a new grocery store here in my hometown. Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market is a natural and organic grocery store and apparently it is coming here and is almost ready to open. I know….how did I not know this??? Well, for #1. I do not travel on Oneida St. unless I have to which is where this is opening and #2. I do not follow events that happen here in Green Bay since I rarely stay in Green Bay to do anything I consider fun. Which will then make you ask…then how did I hear about it? I actually had to travel Oneida Street one evening and my goodness, there are like three new restaurants, this new grocery store, and a few new clothing/shoe venues I had no idea where even being built much less already opened. It’s very touristy(which I tend to avoid) in this area but I will be one of the first to brave the crowds in July to check this grocery store out. We have even already tossed out a girls night suggestion to check it out all together….I will let you all know what I think when it opens. Until then….have you ever been to one yourself…..tell me what you think?

Outdoor exercise has completely taken over our lives and I have not been to the gym on a regular basis in weeks. Here and there is the best I can do since it’s time to start making paddling weekend plans, SUP plans, and I am hiking every chance I get. I am always ok with this since the membership is super cheap and I spend all of winter in the gym. Which means, come summer I have no guilt what so ever about missing gym workouts. Besides the outdoors has so much more to offer.

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I have so many summer time recipes floating around in my head its ridiculous. However, getting them to the dinner table is somewhat of a challenge since I spend most of my days outside with my daycare children and most of my weekends away from home having some fun of my own. Although, once in a while it rains and this gives me time to actually prepare some of these recipes floating up there in my head. Recently, I made an orzo pasta salad with wild picked asparagus(thank you honey), kalamata olives, feta cheese, garlic, and smoked salmon. Then I whipped up a quick lemon-dill vinaigrette to drizzle over this. Oh yum, it was a keeper for sure.

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That should do it for now. Anything you are excited about you wish to share? Leave a comment as I would love to hear it.

 

Primitive Camping Actually Means Four Wheel Drive Camping

When I booked our campsite for our weekend near Interstate State Park I knew I wanted a site away from all the action, the entrance, and the shower house. Plus, I needed a site that could accommodate three tents since their were five people in our party. Typically, campgrounds do not let three tents on one site plus two vehicles but this campground had a sight away from all the action and big enough for us all. Perfect…..right? The lady said it was a quiet site and primitive…..she forgot to mention that we would need a vehicle capable of making it to the site. Thankfully, we did not have our Honda Civic for this trip since that would have been even funnier than it already was.

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We arrived mid afternoon and began setting up immediately. Three tents up, gathering wood for campfires, and organizing camp.

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I then left to find the nearest bathroom since the middle of the night was not that far off. Needless to say, it was quite a distance to walk at 2a.m. in bear country, so I knew if need be it would be a quick trip to the nearest tree. Life goes on…I did ask for primitive.

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After camp was set the guys were all itching to get in some fishing. So after a quick lesson for one of our friends on how to tie fishing lure knots, we headed to the river.

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I wandered around the park we found while the guys tried fishing. However, it did not take long to see that the fish were not biting here so we headed back to camp for dinner and a campfire. Our son taught our friend how to light a campfire with flint and steel which is always fun. Some succeed and some do not….he did very well.

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Saturday morning I climbed out of my tent to see this beautiful sunrise before we visited Interstate State Park both in WI and MN to hike. You can read more about that adventure here.

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After a day of hiking and fishing at the parks we headed back to camp once again to clean and prepare their catch.

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For those of us that were not into the “cave man” type of eating…..roasted fish on a stick (that would be me) they also made some fillets. All while I threw together a quick cheesy taco casserole.

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And just as I watched the sun rise on the day I also watched it set feeling like we had a pretty fun day.

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Hike, Cook, Eat, And Explore….Just A Few Of My Favorite Things

I don’t get a whole lot of down time with being a wife, mother, childcare provider, and a person that will not pass up a day outside if the sun is shining. However, there have been a few things consuming what little free time I do have.

Trip planning…..I should have been a travel agent. Although, do people even use travel agents any more???? Who knows. Anyhow, I have been working hard at planning our next adventure vacation and I am finally at a place where I can say it’s complete. I till have two places to book for the night but for the adventure part of the trip, it’s complete. Sleeping is just details anyhow…right? This vacation is going to be like no other since I am not ready to live the airline HELL again any time soon, so we are driving this one, exploring many places, and of course hiking to some of the places on my bucket list.

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Cooking….again something I have been enjoying but I know will soon become a chore for the next few months with the warmer weather. There is nothing worse than having to come in from outside to cook…uggg. Why do we need to eat in the summer time….its such a waste of good summer time hours? Anyhow, I splurged and bought a spiralizer and have been experimenting with it. My husband is a bit scared of what I may put on the dinner table in the next few weeks and our son has already said to give him notice and he will go out for dinner. Party pooper!!!

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And I have been roasting veggie mixtures like crazy and found that I LOVE roasted lemon slices on my veggies. Lemons turn to sweet slices of heaven when they are roasted. You have to try it!!!

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We are planning frantically for camping season and I could not be more excited. OK, well maybe if it were paddling season but that is still a ways away for me. Waters are still a bit chilly so why not camp instead. I placed and received my yearly order of grab and go camp meals for when the urge hits and we have no time to prepare…we just grab and go.

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I have to mention my new love…..sushi. I have had sushi in the past at a few places but this months dinner out with my brother was for sushi at an actual sushi restaurant here in Green Bay. I was nervous,excited, and a little scared to be honest. They often will serve fish eggs on many items and being married to a avid fisherman, I cannot eat fish eggs from any species. However, we easily worked around this dislike and I was amazed at how wonderful our meal tasted, looked, and I cannot wait to return. We had the chef prepare everything we ordered on one plate to share between the three of us and it was like a party in our mouth, literally!!! Look at this plate of food. I am loving these monthly dinners with my brother, he is an adventurous soul and a great foodie at that. And, I will never again have to try and figure out where to go for my future birthday dinners….without a doubt it will be out for sushi.

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That sums up my free time as of lately. I will leave you all with an end of week rainbow and a wish for a great weekend ahead.

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A Trial Run Camping In Our SUV

This past weekend I threw out an impromptu camping trip to my husband where we would sleep in our SUV. Back when we purchased the vehicle the salesman laughed at me when I asked to see all the back seats lowered down and I then crawled in to make sure we fit in the back length wise. I simply looked at him and said, “I plan to sleep back here while camping.” My husband and the salesman then both looked at me with an expression of your kidding right? Ha, would I ever say something I did not mean…NEVER! So, a few months after having the vehicle my husband and I made a trip to the hardware store for a sheet of plywood and he got to work.

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And then life happened and we never had to opportunity to test it out due to his back injury and then my surgery. Which meant, this weekend seemed to be the perfect opportunity to finally do so. Campgrounds are not full yet since it’s too cold, which meant we could easily show up at any park and be guaranteed a site without a reservation. After throwing a few needs and some quick food into the vehicle we headed out. We picked a state park about 45 minutes from home.

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Upon arrival it was cold…and windy…..very windy. He gathered wood around our campsite for heat and I made up our sleeping area.

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Then we did some exploring nearby, did a little fishing, took a drive, and came upon a new park we had never seen before. I can see us returning here when it’s paddle season.

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By this time the wind was starting to calm down a bit so we returned to the campground and he made a big fire to keep us warm.

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We later took a short walk around the campground and it was so great to see the leaves finally emerging from their pods. Summer is coming:-)

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As evening progressed we started to get hungry. Our choice for dinner were freeze dried meals we had on hand from home that we quickly grabbed. Two, new to us, meals that we each chose were chicken and dumplings…super yum and chicken fried rice….again, a winner.

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After dinner we relaxed by the fire and later turned in for our first night of SUV camping.Ohhhh, what an adventure this was.

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We learned a few things during the night. #1SUV camping is quiet…we hardly heard anything from area campers unlike in our tent. #2 you cannot unlock the SUV from inside and open the door to exit if the SUV was locked with the key pad…the alarm goes off(this was so funny at midnight of all times) #3 our sleeping pads do not stay put in the SUV which meant we kept sliding down toward the door. Frustrating, but we figured it out and turned the opposite way to sleep which was much better. This little transition happened about 2a.m.. #4 down sleeping bags and comforters are priceless when temps are in the 30’s and winds are 35mph off the Bay of Green Bay….brrrr!!!! It was freezing outside but we were quite cozy inside.

All in all, we were surprised we were not cold. We have one adjustment to make with our sleep pad but this is already worked out, I just have to go buy the item we are going to use. And I know without a doubt this will be the way to camp in the spring and fall here in WI. I loved not having the damp, wet, clammy feeling of sleeping in a tent. Plus, there was nothing to take down, dry out or fold up. In the summer however, I will still take my tent. There is nothing quite like falling asleep in a tent staring at the stars above.