My New Kitchen Tool

I finally bought it! I have been debating this kitchen tool for over a year now and finally pulled the trigger. It’s nothing fancy, nothing new to the market, and not a fad like the Instapot craze…..it’s a simple toaster oven.

I know, I know, they have been around forever. My husband actually grew up having one in his childhood home his entire life. Although, I did not and never found the need to have one since I always found myself cooking for a family. However, now I will admit….I love it!!! Since becoming empty nesters and often times finding my husband gone for work and only myself to cook for, this is so much faster, easier, and cooler in the summer months.

So far I have made a small casserole for myself and the daycare children for lunchtime.

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I have also made fish,

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chicken and cheese tortilla melts,

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stuffed zucchini boats, IMG_1449

along with sweet potato fries, nachos, black bean burgers, and pizza melts.

I love that it takes minutes to preheat, minutes to cook, and does not heat up my entire kitchen to prepare one/two serving dishes.

Little by little I am learning how to revamp my/our life to be a family of one or two and occasionally three when our son stops back in to eat at home. I am loving trying new veggie packed recipes that I could never get away with in the past. And believe it or not, being empty nesters is working out pretty well for us all. I am happy, dad is happy and spends more quality time with our son than before, and our son seems pretty happy himself being on his own. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all my 9×13 casserole dishes since I don’t see a lot of usage for them anymore.

So tell me all you other empty nest parents out there…..what was the biggest change when your kids moved out on their own? Was it cooking, cleaning, living a childless lifestyle, reconnecting with your spouse, etc?

 

Weekend Adventures and The Answer To A Recurring Question: No….We Are Not Getting A Dog!!!!

Becoming empty nesters has been an adventure. Some things I expected to happen….like a lot less food needed on the grocery list…..and some things I never expected to happen…..like being asked over and over again if we are now getting a dog. This question has come up so many times in the past three weeks since our son has moved out that I am simply amazed. Why would we get a dog???? If you know anything about us, we do not have time for a dog. If we had a dog we would never be able to pick up and go like I have been known to do. So here in our home there will be NO dog added to the family.

Let’s move on to our weekend. We finally had some fun on the water and it was exactly what we both needed. Minus the sunburn we are both suffering from since there is not a sunscreen protection high enough to protect us from four hours in the gorgeous rays of WI. The best part of WI to me is that within 10 minutes you can typically find water from any location in the state. My husband and I took advantage of this and drove to our favorite river and enjoyed a tube float.

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We started late Saturday morning and it took us four hours to reach our ending destination. Along the way we enjoyed the peacefulness and my favorite sight of all times….a bald eagle.

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We actually saw three bald eagles along the entire stretch of the river we floated. Although, this one, by far, was the bravest and just sat in the tree and watched us float by offering me the opportunity to take a few pictures.

It really was a gorgeous day on the river. Here are a few more pics from the day.

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Questions:

Are you empty nesters? If so what was the strangest thing you were asked after your kid/kids left home?

What was you hardest adjustment after your kid/kids moved out?

 

It’s As If We’ve Been Robbed

It’s funny how life can change in a few days. A little over a week ago our son moved out of our family home after 23 years and dad and I returned home to a very empty house. Where does time go? I can’t believe my baby is 23 years old already. My husband said to me, ” It looks like we’ve been robbed…. there is so much empty space.” I couldn’t help but laugh at this statement.

Which brings us to today. It’s different to put things mildly. I have way less dishes to wash, way less groceries to purchase, way less food to prepare, I have no vehicles parking me in when I want to up and leave home, and we have way less chatter at the dinner table. However, we are happy, our son is happy, and life is good. Who could ask for more? IMG_0135

As life continues onward I am adjusting our meals the best I know how. I am trying to incorporate more veggies and less animal protein. I recently had time to experiment in my kitchen and came up with three winners for meal times. First, I threw together an asian type quinoa skillet meal that I served over baby kale that I tossed with a bit of fresh lemon juice and olive oil. It was absolutely delicious.

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Then I replicated a corn on the cob recipe from a local restaurant that I am a bit ashamed to say I LOVE!!! Never in my right mind would I have thought smearing mayo on corn on the cob would have been so good but I tell you all….it is!!!! Sprinkled with a bit of chili lime seasoning and it is like a party in your mouth. You must give it a try.

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I also tried my hand at roasted parmesan cauliflower steaks one evening. It turned out fabulous but one head of cauliflower only yields two “steaks” and a bunch of chunks since the core is the part that holds the “steaks” together. I would make this again for sure but maybe just do it all in chunks and have marinara dipping sauce on the side. This would be more realistic for a family like meal.

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I still have a big bunch of recipes I have been researching and I can’t wait to try them and share them all with you. However, in all honesty, I am concentrating more on sunscreen, hiking boots, and bug spray at the moment and not so much of what is (or is not) happening in my kitchen. I live in WI and summers are so short that I need to take in every moment of sunshine and warmth that I can. I will be back here and there with things to share but until then….get outside and enjoy life.

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Becoming Empty Nesters

As we embark on becoming empty nesters here in our house it has clearly proven to have a different affect on all of us here. Our son has signed his first rental lease and will be moving out in a few days. He is excited! My husband is sad but proud. I am proud but ready to see him spread his wings and fly. In all honesty, our lives here have been chaos for a few weeks. Not only helping him apartment hunt but there are a few more things going on in the background all at the same time. It’s not the image I had in my mind of how this summer would begin but I am learning to find the silver lining in it all.

Let’s begin at the call that solidified the one and only apartment we all felt good about. This came last week, he then signed the lease a few days later and then we scrambled to begin packing. One day my son and I also took almost 6 hours to go shopping together to buy some things he needed and we had promised him when he found a place that dad and I would buy him a bed. So this all happened in one day of power shopping which to my surprise went really well considering it was a Saturday and we typically do not shop well together.

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Then it was time to hit up the hardware store for a project him and dad were working on. IMG_1031

Then like a blessing from above, I had the gift of only having to work three days a week for two weeks straight which ultimately bought me some much needed time to make a bunch of appointments that I always have trouble making. However, one day I did sneak away for lunch and coffee with a friend to a new local cafe. IMG_1020After all this I felt a bit settled and ready to relax for a bit. That is until my husband emailed from work that travel plans would be crazy for awhile and I could only sit back take a deep breath. With Memorial Day weekend almost here, moving in the very near background, and hardly no fun plans on the calendar because life is such a mess right now, I felt like having a meltdown. Which, I really don’t do often and the only thing I could think of was escaping the place I call home that is piled high with stuff ready for moving, escaping the place I call work which is the same place I call home, and escaping the place where I need to find new normal routine soon which could prove to take some time after all this is said and done. I needed to get out and be one with the trail which I did and it immediately calmed my soul.

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This was exactly what I needed. Trees, dirt, wildlife, nature…..I just needed to breathe fresh air and find peace.

My next few weeks I know are going to be a struggle. I can hope my husband makes it back in time to help and be part of this next chapter. I can hope it don’t rain on moving day, I can hope adapting my recipes for two is easy, and I am excited to find  new normal after all this is said and done.

Until then…..have a great holiday weekend if I am not back before then with any updates and don’t forget to add fun to everyday no matter how hard it is to squeeze it in.

It Feels So Good To Hurt So Bad

Pain….sometimes it’s bad and sometimes it’s good. Pain from an injury is not fun…we’ve all been there at one time or another. Pain from doing something fun and exciting….just means you had fun and pain is easy to deal with from this fun. This is where I am right now. Believe it or not I love yard work. Not so much the process of it but the outcome of…. it’s done and it looks nice. Accomplishment is a fine thing to feel. Raking is not my favorite thing to do but it’s SO MUCH BETTER than shoveling…which I refuse to do and have not done so for the past four years. This weekend I raked our yard, picked up sticks that fell all winter and I feel every pull of that rake but it feels so good.

As for the rest of our weekend, well, it was a bit crazy. We are in the process of apartment hunting with our son who is ready to move out. I thought vehicle shopping was difficult….boy was I wrong. Apartment hunting is so much harder.

I also found a bit time to food prep for the up coming week ahead. I threw together more egg sandwiches for the freezer, a batch of chimichurri to use on grilled chicken this week, and a big pot of braised cauliflower for my lunched this week.

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Life lately has been all over the place. We have been adjusting to some big changes and clearly, as stated above, more changes on on the horizon. I am trying hard to keep calm and have a open mind.

That will have to be enough for now….the sun is shining and I have to go out an enjoy it while it lasts.