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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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Missing Summer

We are almost to the end of January and about this time every year I find myself really missing summer. Winters in Wisconsin are so long and seem to drag on forever. Shall we relive some summer moments together by looking back at sun filled summer activities? I say YES!

I miss floating on the lake covered in sunscreen and letting the birds fly above my head. (and hoping they don’t poop on me)

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I miss watching my husband catch fish while I paddle my kayak searching for turtles.

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I miss the beauty nature provides us for free.

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I miss camping and sitting around the campfire with good friends while someone else does the cooking.

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I miss seeing the most majestic creatures watch over us from above.

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I miss hitting the trail with my son.

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I miss relaxing on the river as my husband maneuvers us around boulders so I don’t have to get out of my tube.

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I miss finding big beautiful creatures that we literally stumble upon while hiking near the rivers edge.

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I miss sunsets that make you forget all the bad in the world.

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I simply miss feeling alive.

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Hag in there….summer is coming…we just have to all hang on a bit longer.

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!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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And since he is an adult now, many of his gifts revolved around getting out on his own and having the basics he will need when this happens. Yes, I did buy my son a laundry hamper as a gift. He told me to buy practical gifts which I did….and I LOVED every minute of it;-)

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We also had a milestone happen in our family. Our son bought his first car which we picked up the day before Christmas Eve. These moments make me proud as a mom….slowly he is making a life for himself and spreading his wings. Next, he tells me, is apartment hunting. Oh boy, this brings me back many years. Can I seriously be this old already that my son is ready to move out….wow, where do the years go?

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Lets see, back to Christmas, we ate tons of food….some healthy and some not so healthy…..but all artificial sweetener free. We host here at our home every year and we also pick a theme to celebrate the holiday. This year we decided on a home cooked meal and pajama Christmas. So meatloaf, glazed carrots, and mashed potatoes were on the menu. Birthday cake and ice cream was dessert. Along with some appetizers to share before dinner like this pickled shrimp recipe we tried for the first time which ended up being a big hit.

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

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With the week off between holidays, I had ample time to restock the freezer with freezer meals. Soup is a favorite for me to freeze and eat later.

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I am killing the early morning workouts….which I am proud to say I missed not a single day through the holidays. However, this is more for my mental health than my physical health during this time of year. It’s a great holiday stress reliever.

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I also have been experimenting with some new recipes from a new cookbook I received from Christmas. I know most people get new recipes online now a days but I don’t have a whole lot of time to search and find recipes. So books are still my favorite way to find new recipes. And my slow cooker is going to be my best friend with two newborn babies starting with in a week of each other here. Oh boy, time will be limited for sure.

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

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And let me tell ya, snow adds a whole different spin on hiking….wow, were we tired after about 3 miles of snow hiking an area trail.

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We did this hike while dad ventured out for the first time to ice fish an area lake. I, like always, thought it was too early, our son also thought it was too early, but arguing with a fisherman is pointless so we made ourselves busy while he took his chances with the ice thickness. He came home a few hours later with not a great ice report but enough to be able to limit out on his catch of the day. IMG_0099

That sums up my last two weeks. As I adjust to new children to care for and we all adjust to going back to work, let’s savor the reality that routine is really a nice thing to have. I loved the holiday break but for me personally, normal life is not a bad thing either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

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

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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.

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The trail was wonderful. Leaves crunched beneath our feet,

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signs of deer were everywhere,

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday: mexican tortilla stack(meatless)

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

Wednesday: cowboy caviar filled wonton cups and side salads

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Thursday: egg frittata(recipe here)

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Friday: out

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

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