Recent Favorite Finds

I am pretty excited and happy to share some of my favorite finds with you all today. I am not a big internet buff so I typically find my favorites in grocery stores and on trails…that of which I have not been able to enjoy much of yet this year. So if your into food and fun read on.

A few weeks ago I bought a jar of these and had to go back for three more jars to last me awhile. They are so fantastic and I love them as an afternoon snack.

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As I plan for our upcoming camping trip I happily came across a new to us dehydrated meal that I am excited to try. We have learned the hard way never to buy a different brand than what we like when that will be the only food source we have available while hiking. This however, will be an addition to a regular campsite meal so no one will be going hungry if it turns out to be horrible.

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We watch a lot of cooking shows on television and many use creole seasoning in their dishes. I have been dying to try this and finally found one in our local grocery store. I LOVE it. It is now my go to seasoning for anything that needs a bit of a kick.

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Have you  ever tried scrambling eggs in a Blender Bottle? We did and it was genius. So easy, fast, and simple. This would be awesome at a campsite….less mess:-)

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Applesauce is one of the dullest fruits in my opinion. Recently, when I was at a bed and breakfast we were served applesauce with a bit of fruit on top and now I add some fruit at home and my kids eat this up without any hesitation. They enjoy it more and so do I.

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One pot meals call to me in my sleep sometimes. OK, maybe not exactly, but when I dream of doing dishes it’s time to concentrate on making more one pot meals. And that is exactly what I have been concentrating on for family meals. This one was outstanding with pasta, shrimp, and veggies all cooked in one pot. Add the cheese at the end, stir, and serve. Now is that easy or is that easy?

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Remember those pancakes we tried to see if my stomach could handle keeping these down unlike all the other pancakes we have tried in the past? Well, I have good and bad news to share. First, the good news….they are probably the best pancakes I have ever tasted. Bad news, they still made me ill. (Do you want to know why…read here)

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That should do it for me today…..do you have anything to add?

Items That Help Me Survive Winter In Wisconsin

It’s no secret winter is not my favorite season. I suffer from seasonal depression and literally count down the days on a calendar until the clocks change again, daylight appears past 4p.m., and I see green grass. Once the holidays are over is when it really gets rough for me. Although, I have lived here my entire life and have found some things that I simply could not live without during the winter months. So for all of you making plans to visit us here in the midwest during the winter or for all of you thinking about moving here from a warmer climate…read on!

#1 Lotion: Once the heat is turned on and the water we shower in is turned up it’s like death to your skin. You dry out, you itch and it’s just plain rough on the skin to be out in the elements of winter.

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#2 Lip Balm: Much like our skin, our lips are every sensitive to the cold also. I have these little tubes of moisture in every little hiding spot I know…..SUV, car, pockets of all my jackets, next to the bed, in my purse, and even in my backpack if the urge would hit for a quick snowshoe hike through the woods somewhere.

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#3 Tea/Coffee etc: You may think being in a warm house you could drink anything and maybe so, but something mentally happens when it starts to snow and you literally crave something warm to drink. We here are not all day coffee drinkers but tea makes an appearance quite often during the days of winter.

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#4 Down: I will never regret buying my down bed comforter and my down winter jacket. They are the best investments I have made to help me survive winter.

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#5 Hobbies: I am not sure if you would call this a hobby but it does take my mind off the snow and the days that are so incredibly short and cold. We do jig saw puzzles during the winter months and its always a goal to see how many we can finish before the snow melts.

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#6 Memories: What once was will come again. I look back at my summer time pictures often during the winter months. They help me recall a much happier time in life and give me something to look forward to.

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#7 Exercise: You know it baby….it’s the only time I can break a sweat during the winter months. Sometimes I will workout twice a day just to feel warm.

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Are you from the midwest?

What is one thing you could not live without during the long winter months?

Tips For Hiking In Sedona, Arizona

We learned a few things really fast with our first visit to the Sedona, Arizona area. And even though we only spent three full days hiking the desert trails and exploring the area, I know these tips will come in handy for anyone else visiting the area also. So I thought I would share some with you all today.

#1 WATER: You would think this would be obvious desert hiking but from what we saw, it was not! You will need water and lots of it. We planned two hikes per day and even kept a gallon jug in our SUV to refill our water containers between trailheads. Yes, its warm and not very refreshing to drink warm water, but it’s water and in the desert water is a necessity.

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#2 BOOTS/HIGH SOCKS: We were told to bring boot and higher socks to protect our legs from cactus plants that are sometimes very near the trail edge. This was a great recommendation since both my husband and son rubbed up against a cactus while hiking. These plants are vicious and you don’t want to get to close.

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#3 GPS/TRAIL MAPS: I did alot of research on what trails we wanted to hike during this trip. We, however, ended up adding two extra and changing one up due to rain we received overnight in our area. Which meant we did not have all the proper maps with us. Although, we did have the GPS which meant we were just fine. Most trails are marked very well in the Sedona area but it’s also very easy to get turned around or get on an intersecting trail by mistake. At each and every trailhead we hiked, we marked our vehicle so we knew no matter what we could find it again.

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#4 RED ROCK PASS IS REQUIRED: Some trailheads require a RED ROCK pass to park at the assigned lot. Many…..and I mean many people do not get them and then are upset when they return and find a ticket on the windshield. These passes are cheap, can be purchased by the day, week or year, and are easily located throughout the area at different businesses. We bought ours our first night at the Safeway Grocery Store(located on SR89A), for the week which was $15. They can also be purchased right at the trailhead if you wish.

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#5 TRAILHEAD PARKING LOTS: A few things here….arriving early makes it much easier to find a spot. They fill very quickly, especially on the weekends. Second, some have bathroom facilities and some do not. And the ones that do, don’t always have toilet paper in them….so bring some and leave it in your vehicle just in case. They are all pit toilets with no water at all….so prepare to clean your hands on your own. Lastly, some are located on back forest roads that require a high clearance vehicle. I researched which ones did and did not before deciding where we would start each hike. And when they say a high clearance vehicle is needed here, they mean it……here is one forest road with huge ruts in it.

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#6 PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES: There are signs everywhere to protect your valuables at the trailheads. We had no issues but we also left nothing but water and jackets in our vehicle while hiking.

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#7 READ THE SIGNS: All trails are different…..some allow dogs, some tell you what to do and not do, and some tell you exactly what will happen if you do something stupid. Read them ,follow them, and keep this place beautiful for everyone.

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#8 YOU WILL BE DIRTY: Hiking here for us was a whole different experience that back home. We spent alot more time using our rear ends to get back down many different areas, our boots were covered in red dust by the end of the day, and we had red dust lines where are socks ended. Everyone around us had dirty backsides and the same red dust coating there skin. So prepare to be dirty but have a great time getting this way.

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#9 HAVE A PLAN B: We were (un)fortunate enough to receive rain one evening while we were here and that made us change up our plans for the next day due to where we had planned to hike. Although, everything turned out fabulous and we could not have picked a better alternate hike because it ended up being my favorite of the entire vacation. So even though you have a plan, be flexible.

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#10 SEDONA IS NOT A CHEAP PLACE TO EAT OUT: We were very fortunate to have an awesome hotel with a great balcony facing the mountains that made meal times even more special for us. We did eat out one evening(the evening we arrived) and the bill was over $50 for three sandwiches and two lemonades. (That to me is expensive) So we headed to one of the many grocery stores and picked up breakfast items for four days since we planned to leave earlier in the mornings to hike. And dinner every evening was also bought here and enjoyed on our balcony. It was cheaper, tasty, and I did not have to keep my boots on to eat:-) We met many of the same hikers every evening doing the same thing and all covered in dirt which made us not feel so bad.

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We did not do hardly any shopping in Sedona’s downtown area. We drove through it to get to the Oak Creek scenic drive and it’s was bustling with many people. We did locate two outfitters while here and found one had much more “needed” supplies and one was more a clothing/fashion outfitter. We did visit one park while here, Grasshopper Point, simply because my husband had a wish to jump off a canyon wall into the water. Which he fulfilled.

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Other than that we hiked everyday. We enjoyed our hotel pool and all the warm sunshine.

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We enjoyed our first ever acai bowls(We all ordered the Summit Bowl) as a treat one evening.(Again, I thought super costly, 3 smalls were $30)(Although, the smalls were HUGE)

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If you plan to visit this area and have specific questions for me, feel free to comment and I will answer them if I can.

(***Keep in mind that we were here strictly to hike, it was the end of October and temps never got above 87 degrees)

*** To see the hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.