Life Lately….

I have come to the conclusion in life that once one matter is handled the next big pressing situation is never very far behind.  It’s sort of like when you come into a bonus amount of money and you never quite know what to do with it….until…..the refrigerator decides to stop working in the middle of the night, the washing machine decides to spring a major leak during your last load of laundry, or you slip and fall on the ice and need an x-ray when your deductible is not met yet. Yeh, thankfully none of this has happened for us recently but just when things starting calming down after Christmas the next big thing(s) starting popping up. Let me catch you all up on life as it is here today.

We have our first glamping (glamorous camping) trip planned for 2018 and I am excited…very excited. Once again we are returning to what I consider is Wisconsins best state park….Devil’s Lake. We missed visiting this park last year and I really missed it. We have hiked Devil’s Lake every year for at least the past 5 years, but last year we skipped it due to other trips we had planned and we just could not fit it in anywhere. Plus, this year we are glamping for the first time ever with my brother and his family. We have cabins rented at our favorite nearby campground and we plan to campfire, hike, explore and celebrate springs arrival. No one will ever be as happy as I am when spring finally arrives!!!

I also am loving that my husband is finally getting some projects done that have been laying around waiting for completion for quite sometime. My brother, one year for Christmas, had some pictures made up into puzzles for us. Once they were assembled my husband thought it would be cool to glue them and make red rock frames to go with the red rock theme of the puzzles. I agreed, then life happened, and they sat there. Well, they are now completed and I love them. Now we just have to figure out where to hang them.

IMG_0174

I have now expanded my cookbook selection to include one more clean eating/plant based cookbook to make meal planning easier. Since cutting out artificial sweetener in all our diets and with the amazing success my husband has had with this change, I am now finding it much harder to make casseroles. And casseroles were my “go to” for an easy make ahead and throw in the oven meal in the winter months. However, I am really finding plant based meals to be fulfilling and much less work than I ever imagined. Plus, my grocery bill is pretty nice also.

IMG_0291

I do have to give a shout out to my other half lately. It’s been one of those winters where everything keeps breaking. Nothing huge but big enough that thankfully with his repair skills he has saved us so much money just this year alone so far. I love having my own maintenance man in the house. Some people marry for money, some marry for love, I married for love and the money he saves us.

IMG_0239

And last but not least, the one big thing I have been working very hard on is our next big trip…the one where we are renewing our marriage vows for our 25th. anniversary this year. Do you know how difficult it is to find a minister that is willing to hike up to the top of a mountain to perform a renewal ceremony for this occasion? Well, I can tell you how difficult it is……VERY DIFFICULT!!!! However, I found one, we have talked with him and explained how important it is for him to make this trek for us, and he assures me he can do this as long as we are not trail runners and plan to race up the mountain. I promised him we could take as long as he needed to arrive safely at the top and for him to grant us his services. Now I just have to figure out a proper tip to give this gentleman since he is clearly putting his life on the line to make our wishes come true. I cannot wait to say “I Still Do” to the one I love in a place that brought such happiness to us the first time we saw it.

IMG_6041

What would you tip the minister in this situation? I would be grateful for your suggestions.

 

Advertisements

Icy Adventure With A New Lunchtime Cuisine To Follow

Our weekend ended up being pretty interesting. Going into the weekend I had plans but they quickly fell apart when a friend got sick, my son ended up almost working Saturday which would ultimately cancel our mother/son date we had planned, and my husband changed up his ice fishing day because of the wind forecast Saturday. Then Friday evening everything fell into place and we had a plan.

Saturday morning I mentioned I wanted to see the ice shoves in Oconto that were being mentioned all over the local news channels. Ice shacks were being swallowed up by this and men were scrambling to move their trucks in time to also not be swallowed up or destroyed by the big ice bergs being pushed around. Sounds interesting I thought, so I had planned to take a drive and go see. However, being the city girl I am, I had no idea where I was headed so my husband said he would also come with and take a look. Last year my husband and son took a drive but I had already made other plans so I did not go. The pictures they brought home were spectacular and I wished I had been there. Now, this year when we arrived my husband said they were nothing like last years on the Winnebago side where they had went. Although, they were still pretty cool looking(literally being it was ice and all).

IMG_0329

IMG_0319

IMG_0333

IMG_0323

IMG_0326

IMG_0324

IMG_0336

IMG_0334

The wind was fierce but the sun sure did feel good on our face while we walked around watching the ice melt away.

After that we took a small detour home and went to our favorite spot to see bald eagles hoping they would be out watching the open river. With no luck finding any to view, we walked across the icy bridge to make our way back to our vehicle and head home to pick up our son for lunch.

IMG_0340

This is when the day got even more interesting. Wisconsin does not have a whole lot to offer (in my opinion) in cuisine variety. It’s definitely getting better but other places we have visited have so much more variety than WI but we are slowly catching up. And my son loves to take me to places that offer different cuisine. My husband surprised me by also saying he would join us so it was an unexpected family outing. I finally got to try pho….a Vietnamese soup. We arrived, placed our orders, and were quickly served ultimately the biggest bowl of soup ever.

IMG_0345

Amazing, simply amazing that my husband actually finished his entire bowl. We both ordered the same beef pho which came with basil, bean sprouts, and jalapenos on the side. The serving size bowl was so big I don’t even think I finished half of mine. It was  tasty, very soothing, and definitely a good comfort food type of meal. However, I wish they had smaller versions…since we were not headed home afterwards so I was not able to take the left over amount home with me. Even though I did enjoy the soup I have to say the highlight of my meal was my drink of choice. I ordered a jack fruit smoothie and oh my goodness it brought me to a tropical island somewhere warm while I sat eating my soup with my winter jacket on and a scarf wrapped around my neck. Again, you rarely, if ever, see jack fruit on any menus in WI so I just had to try this. Will I return, yes for sure? Although, next time I will probably have a Vietnamese vermicelli veggie bowl instead, since the soup is simply to much to eat for me personally.

IMG_0343

After lunch my son headed home and my husband and I walked a nearby trail for a few miles before returning home for the evening.

IMG_0348

I am now on a mission to make this pho dish at home and possibly even a Vietnamese vermicelli veggie bowl also. Ahhhh, time to do some research……

 

 

Weekend Outdoor Fun….Yes, Outdoor Fun…Can You Believe It?

Oh my, was it a great weekend to be outside. I went outside in January….and had fun….simply amazing!!!! It was so warm….in the 40’s here in Green Bay both days…yeh!!!!

IMG_0286

I had planned to go to yoga Saturday morning as usual but when my husband mentioned to me that it was going to be warm enough to venture out and take a hike I immediately changed my plans.

IMG_0281

We stayed close to home since we knew the snow depth in our area and arrived at one of our favorite nearby trails. I was very happy to see it was not nearly as snow covered as I had thought it would have been. IMG_0275

We walked along the trail and took in the sunshine on our faces with great pleasure. It felt so good to breathe fresh air and get in some outdoor exercise.

IMG_0282

We watched the ice fishermen nearby on the Bay of Green Bay, all the while thinking to myself how crazy of a sport ice fishing is. IMG_0277

We did not see much wildlife while we hiked but we did run across a trail friend who was moving very, very slowly but moving none the less.

IMG_0284

Three miles later we ended our hike and it felt amazing.

IMG_0280

Then on Sunday I woke up, got in a gym workout, came home to meal prep, and once again headed back outside for yet another hike with a friend this time.

IMG_0299

We walked 5 miles, saw one bald eagle that I scared away trying to get a picture of, and lots of melting happening all along the way. IMG_0301

I know it’s too early to be this excited about the weather being so nice but you know what, I will take what I can get and enjoy every last hour until the next snow fall happens or the next ice storm glazes over everything in sight(which could happen tomorrow from what they are saying).

All in all it was a great weekend. I feel refreshed and ready for another long week ahead.

 

Another Reader Request Answered: Exercise….How Do I Find The Time?

Finding time to exercise is not something I need to usually do. I will admit, at times, life gets hectic and it’s just not possible. However, finding no time to exercise, in my opinion, is 95% of the time just an excuse. Let me explain.

The gym I attend, I will often see people sitting in workout clothes, taking up space on a machine without any movement happening except for their fingers going a mile a minute on their phones. This could take anywhere from a few minutes to as long as 20 minutes on the same machine without any exercise happening at all. Now, not to be rude or inconsiderate (like they clearly are being), I feel individuals like this are simply mooching off the free WIFI while dressed like they should be dressed at a gym and taking up space where they should not be taking up space. We have tables and chairs at our gym for this sort of thing. Which brings me to my point on why having no time if often an excuse. If you are up to date and current on all your social media accounts….you surely have time to exercise, it’s simply not a priority in your life.

Another important aspect I believe is that you need to look at how to MAKE time to exercise if you want it bad enough. Either to lose weight, get healthy, for energy, or simply just to feel good, do you want it bad enough to make time in your daily life for this activity? For me, this is a no brainer, I simply feel best when I exercise so little to no thought is needed to make time.

IMG_20161126_0802446_rewind

Let’s look at what you do for exercise. If you are a treadmill person and dread the thought of walking/running on this motorized belt everyday, of course you may find it difficult to keep at it. If your a treadmill walker/runner and enjoy the time this machine allows you to walk without the outdoor elements getting in your way, then I can see you looking forward to this activity everyday. Doing something you enjoy rather than dread is always easier. Experiment with different exercises and find one that you really enjoy, one that gives you satisfaction and then you may find it easier to continue once you begin.

IMG_8140

IMG_0007

IMG_9550

IMG_7859

Ultimately, for me, exercise is made a top priority in my life. I feel better, my body hurts less when I exercise, my mind resets, and I know it makes me stay healthy enough to enjoy the things I love to do.

IMG_5721

It helps me reach my goals and get to some of the most magnificent destinations a person could ever hope to see.

utahfamlow-3

Without daily exercise my body would never allow me the pleasure of reaching some of the crazy places I wish to see before its too late. And for this I am so thankful.

IMG_9503For me working out is a way to work everything out…..try it and you may find it life changing. I sure did.

 

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.

IMG_0145

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;-)

IMG_0146

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?

IMG_0135

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.

IMG_0079

IMG_0140

I even snuck in a new treat….and I assure you it was well deserved some days.

IMG_9963

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.

IMG_0009

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.

IMG_0015

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.

IMG_0068

Also over the holiday break I enjoyed an afternoon snow hike with my son and a few feathered friends we saw along the way.

IMG_0098

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.

IMG_0096

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November=58 degrees…In Wisconsin…..Seriously??? Time To Trade In My Whisk For My Hiking Boots Once Again

As you can probably assume from the title, I am one VERY happy person. When I awoke Thanksgiving morning and saw the forecast prediction for the day after Thanksgiving was going to be in the mid 50’s I immediately put things into high gear. I simply looked across the room at my husband and he knew exactly what I was thinking……..he said calmly, “let’s get it all done today so we can hit the trail tomorrow.” I love how he understands me without me even saying a word.

As you can imagine I had a load of things on the to do list to accomplish with four days off for the holiday. We literally packed all our chores into one day, we got in our annual family hike for Thanksgiving morning, plus I made Thanksgiving dinner that same evening. Oh, I was so tired by evening but so happy to be free of the long list and just had a few things that needed tending to before we hit the long trail on Friday afternoon.

Thanksgiving family hike

 IMG_9976

Then Friday arrived and I was excited to get in some warm mileage on a dirt trail once again before the snow arrives full blast. We arrived at our chosen trail head to find just us. I did not mind this at all, I parked our lone vehicle and it awaited our return.

IMG_0002

The temp on my vehicle upon arrival was a balmy 58 degrees. Amazing!!!!

IMG_9984

And a few steps into our hike and I had to chuckle. Clearly, this lone dandelion was not ready to give up quite yet on summer either.

IMG_0001

The trail was wonderful. Leaves crunched beneath our feet,

IMG_9993

signs of deer were everywhere,

IMG_9996

nature could be heard and saw along the way. It was so good for my soul…to just walk, listen, and breathe the air around us.

IMG_9990

The only thing that could have caused me any worry was that we were hiking during the gun deer hunt season here in WI. We did see many different deer stands, thankfully no active hunters during our time on the trail . And yes, in case you are wondering, we did also wear blaze orange for our own protection on this hike.

IMG_9992

IMG_9991

With 3.3 miles Thanksgiving day and just over 4 miles Friday, we could all agree that summer is going to missed.

IMG_9999

Hiking, along with numerous other things we were able to pack into four days, left us all with a feeling of happiness. Add that to a fabulous Thanksgiving meal……along with my first ever homemade whipped cream (which turned out wonderful I may add) so my husband could enjoy whipped cream on his pumpkin pie along with everyone else…and I could not have been more thankful for anything else in the  world.

IMG_9982

Now, we all have to return to normal life once again and hopefully be ready for Christmas in a few short weeks. Sadly, I have a feeling I will not be hiking anywhere where that snow is not covering the trail come this time but who knows, maybe just maybe, wishes will come true.

Some Real Talk Moments…..

As you all know Halloween rolled around, we changed our clocks, woke up and began November with cold, darkness, and ultimately then a bit of snow arrived. And if you love winter I am sure your thrilled about all these changes…..for me it’s been a long month! Besides all this change we had so much more happening behind the scenes here that I honestly found solace in some quality alone time. I decided to make a huge change to my daily routine and began going to the gym at 5:00a.m.. And let me tell you….this has truly changed my daily dynamics completely. Somehow this, that, and the other all changed and I have free time now from 5-7a.m. and its perfect time for me to get in a great workout, free my mind of the constant boxing match happening up there, and get some endorphin help to make me feel alive at a time of year I just want to crawl under the covers and not come out until mid March. Anybody else feel this way when winter rolls around?

IMG_7994

So let’s see, November has been good. Challenging but good. We have had work issues to deal with pertaining to all three of us this month.One job change(our son), I am waiting for maternity leaves to be over and then I will be back up to my happy stress level of kids once again, and the other issue is my husband is traveling one day and the next it is cancelled. Which results in literally driving this very organized person (me) completely crazy with frustration!!!! I am a total, get your %$#@ together or don’t plan on me being part of it, kind of person. So when he says he is leaving I plan for him not to be here…and then all of a sudden he is here which means I need to replan once again. Frustration I tell you, complete frustration.OK, that rant is over with….lets move on.

IMG_9904

I always feel pressured to get my Christmas shopping done since I really dislike the crowds at this time of year. To help with this task my husband and I once again made our annual bus trip to Illinois to spend the day shopping, eating, and enjoying life away from the daily grind at home. This all started a few years ago and now it has turned into a yearly event for us. He is the best package carrier ever and all I have to do is promise to feed him from Whole Foods hot bar for lunch every year. It’s a LONG day but so worth it. We always find treasures and deals we can’t find here in Green Bay and there is no stress since the bus ticket is cheap and we don’t have to worry about parking, traffic, getting lost or anything. Just shop, eat, and have fun.

IMG_9889

IMG_9896

IMG_9893

I took my first ever structured yoga class with a friend and it was life changing. Since starting yoga on a regular basis at home my back has gotten significantly stronger and has been feeling better. I thought a class taught by a professional would correct any form issues I could be having so this was the thought behind the class I took. I will honestly say that after class I was pleasantly surprised by how much I got out of it. I am planning on taking 1-2 classes a week for the time being. And I am looking at them as more of an active recovery day than anything. Movement is medicine in my situation and a day off with absolutely nothing is worse than anything so this should be perfect for me on my exercise recovery days.

IMG_9802

We once again broke out our yearly winter pass time activity of jig saw puzzles. This for me is a huge turning point since it really means my time outside is going to be next to none for the next five months.

IMG_6233

I do have something pretty big waiting in the back ground for me to begin planning after the first of the year. My husband and I have decided to renew our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary in 2018. I have a few ideas rolling around in my head but so far nothing is set in stone yet. I will say, the ceremony will be small…..simply because not a single person in our families will be joining us except our son. Why you may wonder…..well, none of them are willing to climb the mountain I wish to have the ceremony on top of. I have however, found a minister that is willing to hike this route and do the honors, so I may have to add in a bit more compensation than his usual and customary fee just for his effort.

IMG_5730

And one last thing to share with you…check this little morsel of yum out! I was shopping at a local grocery and they had these in the seafood case. They called them volcano shrimp. I asked what they were exactly and the employee said they are cooked shrimp wrapped in sweet potato strands sprinkled with ginger. Well, I had to give one a try. I brought it home, baked it for 10 minutes as directed, and shared it with one of my daycare kids. She cried when it was gone and I felt like crying too since it was the only one I bought. IT WAS SO YUMMY!!! Now I am determined to try and make them myself. Really, how hard can they be right? I just have to get my spiralizer back from the friend I borrowed it to and then we will have many more of these to enjoy with no tears when they are gone.

IMG_9876

That should do it for now. Have a great Thanksgiving.