Cranberry Orange Sauce

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I have been experimenting with making my own cranberry sauce. Yes, I will admit, I can and have easily devoured an entire can of the original jellied cranberry sauce on numerous occasions in my lifetime. Now, however, I know how terribly bad this was for me and no longer can even let the thought of doing this again enter my mind. However, Thanksgiving has to have cranberry sauce….doesn’t it??? Well, it does in my mind, so this is the one we are going to enjoy this year.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

12 oz whole cranberries (found in the produce dept of your local grocery)

1/2 cup sugar

1 granny smith apple-diced

1/2 cup orange juice (***See lower sugar option below)

dash of cinnamon

Clean your cranberries and put them into a medium sauce pan. Peel, seed and dice the apple and put this also in the sauce pan. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup of orange juice and the dash of cinnamon.

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Simmer this mixture on medium/low for about 15 minutes. Cover the pan loosely since the cranberries will begin to start popping when they heat up.

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If you like your sauce chunky take them off a bit sooner and if you like your sauce smooth cook them until they easily smash into a smooth mixture.

Let them cool and enjoy.

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***Less sugar option: To make this dish with less sugar, change out the orange juice for water and add orange zest instead to the mixture when you cook it.

NOTE: I like my cranberry sauce quite tart which this recipe is. If you enjoy the sweeter version simply add more sugar to your desired liking.

 

 

Brrrrrrr….It’s Getting Chilly

Oh boy, it’s getting chilly outside already.

Which in my house means it’s time for pumpkin muffins, comfort food and dinner meals to be enjoyed indoors again instead of outside on the porch. Some of our favorites are beef stroganoff, chicken piccata,  and homemade potpie with a corn bread crust.

chicken piccata

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Soon enough we will be arguing about when it’s cold enough to turn on the heat, if there is enough ice to ice fish on safely (which in my opinion, there is never enough to do this sport SAFELY) and we will need to adjust the alarm clock for yet another hour earlier for the predicted snowstorm to dump on us overnight and my husband to still make it to work on time. It’s amazing how much 3a.m. differs from 4a.m. when ultimately, its only an hour difference. But that hour makes all the difference in the world to me.

Our leaves have started falling and are adding color to our lawn.

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Workouts are easier and much cooler to do at this time of year. And ironically enough, the sun going down sooner makes me even more motivated to go to the gym in the evening. I always feel like in the summer months, I am wasting daylight going to exercise in a gym surrounded by four walls and lights. So, it getting dark a bit earlier I don’t mind so much at this stage.

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Soon, I need to go through my backpack and add some hand warmers, an extra pair of socks, and I will be able to take out the bug spray and head nets, which is always a good swap in my mind. And hopefully we will find time to start geocaching again, along with finishing a trail we started mid summer, and also get in a bit more disc golf before the nets are all taken down for the winter.

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Well, that’s it for me right now. Morning comes early and I have a full crew arriving bright and early. My hope is to have some crock pot recipes for you all real soon….that is if all goes well this week and I find time to type. If not you can rest assured that I made it, ate it,and enjoyed it, but just didn’t get time to type it up cause I was hiking, exercising, or just having fun doing other things in the great outdoors.

 

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Currently….

Can you believe it’s the middle of August? I feel as if summer flew by this year.

In two weeks children in our area will be back to school and summer as many know it will be over. Which ultimately brings me sadness but at the same time great joy. Sadness, since I love summer, sunshine, heat and summertime activities which I hate to see all come to an end.  Although, on the flip side, great joy because fall is my next favorite season. We can begin geocaching again with less bugs, I can finally enjoy the windows open during the night again since the humidity will subside some, and we eventually store our paddles for the season and trade them for our hiking boots again. So, all in all, I am sad and happy all at the same time.

As we switch seasons here in WI and prepare for some long…..very long months….stuck in our homes, I take full advantage of packing the prewinter weekends with all kinds of things. I have been working diligently on this task and have every weekend in September booked, half of October, and some of November so far. (SHHHH…don’t tell my husband. I will break this to him when the time is right since he hates when I packed our weekends full of stuff with no down time)

Let’s see, currently we have one, but working on two, weekends that will need our tent.

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I have a dinner out with my brother coming up that I always look forward to. We just don’t have time to connect like we should unless it’s planned and put on the calendar. Sad, but life is just so busy…

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I have attempted to start a hiking group in our area and have had a few really promising responses. The first, meet and greet hike, has been planned and I am really looking forward to hitting the trail with fellow hikers. I am hoping this is a success.

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I have plans with a few friends to travel to a nearby Harvest Festival and then take them on a canal hike in the area. Neither are big hikers but both have reaped the benefits of being active and are stepping out of their comfort zones with me a little more each time. Which is exactly why I write this blog…..to inspire people to get out, live, explore and step out of that comfort zone and experience what the world has to offer. So I am pretty pumped about this date and the plan we have set.

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I also have another girls day out happening soon. You see, with hunting season right around the corner, my husband and I part ways for a few weekends and he hunts and I do my thing. I am not a hunter….I see nothing wrong with hunting…..it’s just not my thing. So he goes one way and I go another and we meet back up and share events after they happen. It all works out in the end. He has fun, I have fun, and we are both happy.

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We also will be celebrating our 23rd anniversary this year and I am so, so, so excited to be doing this in Sedona, Arizona. Which means we have begun training for this adventure and this takes a lot of time and discipline on our parts during the week. It makes our weekdays even longer than usual, but I know it will be so worth it in the end. I plan to share our training plan with you all soon.Hint: it involves a lot of these!!!

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And our last planned excursion before the snow forces me inside for the winter is my annual shopping trip to my favorite place to shop….Chicago! Actually, a very nearby suburb of Chicago. This is one day I splurge on things for me….whatever I see that I like I purchase with no guilt, no regret, and no worries. I can’t wait!

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Besides a few random outings throw in there between all this, we are pretty well booked solid till Thanksgiving.

Do you like relaxing weekends or busy weekends?

What’s your favorite fall activity?

 

Conquering My Fears

Conquering my fears is not something that normally I loose sleep over. However, for the past few weeks I have had this thought on my mind and I am not sure how to deal with it.

I have shared with with you all that we have a warm climate vacation planned for mid winter. We have started training and I know we will be physically ready to hike and try our hand at class III rock scrambling. Physically failing is not my issue, it’s mental. Ever since our last hike of the year at Devil’s Lake State Park here in WI where my family witnessed a gentleman fall from a bluff, I just can’t seem to forget that moment. And now, we are singed up to rock scramble with no ropes to the top of a mountain and I don’t know if my mind is going to allow this to happen.

I know my physical limitations and don’t usually push myself much further. Mentally is a whole different story. When we climbed Angel’s Landing in Utah, if I would have known what was ahead the entire hike up to the ridge, I know I would have had issues of panic. Thankfully, I did not know what was going to be asked of me and somehow I accomplished this. However, to this day I am still amazed with myself. I will admit, however, that I could have never accomplished this daring stunt without the support from our guides on this trip. I 100% trusted them with my life and that is not something I EVER do!

I already know that I will never forget what we witnessed here in WI and I know it will forever affect the way we hike at this park in the future. I always knew it could happen, I also know it could happen anywhere else we hike. It just scares me to know that even cautious, trained, physically fit individuals can make mistakes and one wrong move can forever change your life. I am not sure I am ready to risk this quite yet. I am not done living…. but at the same time, extreme activities are what make me feel alive. So what shall I do?

Do we cancel this hike/scramble and pick a different safer route?

Do we talk with our guide, explain our fear and see what he suggests?

Do I just suck it up and conquer my fear of falling?

 

 

It’s Time To Face Reality

It’s time to face reality, last weekend was a gift because I believe I have seen the last of 80 degree temps until at least next summer. For all the friends and family I have reading, YES I have finally caved to the chill and turned on our heat!!!! Depressing, I know, but I had to do it. I don’t know why I keep track from year to year, but this year it is 17 days earlier than last year. Ughhhh, let’s move on.

With another page of the calendar flipped, October arrives with some exciting things for our family. I am quite excited for the art festival this weekend I am attending with a friend of mine. We were a group of three until the third hurt her back and had to cancel. However, we still plan to have fun. The weather forecast for this outdoor festival is not very promising and I will be wearing my long underwear for sure but I am not letting that get me down. We are going to have fun and if we get too chilled we will just buy more wine:-) No worries, our means of transportation is coach bus and both our husbands are pitching in to drop and pick us up from the bus stop so we can consume as much wine as needed to keep warm and toasty:-)

Our family plan for this Sunday is to get some things crossed of the fall “to do” list. Not very exciting but it needs to be done. We already have a good start on the leaf cleanup, summer planters all have been emptied and kayaks all are stored in there proper places for the winter. (My boys still think they are going to go one more time…. we’ll see) We still have tons on the list however, which leaves Sunday as our fall cleanup day.

I started researching winter candlelight snowshoe/hikes around our area for something to do in the winter months. I do this every year and sometimes we make it happen and sometimes we don’t. Honestly, I have great intentions when I find an event that we can actually attend. I even write it on the calendar and plan around it, then the date arrives and it could go either way. If it’s freezing and miserable outside, I’d rather just stay home but if it’s nice and not too cold, we may actually go. Winter events are so hard for me but at least I make an effort to research and attempt to do outdoor things.

Next week will be very odd around our house. My husband will be in a class that is offered right near our home instead of traveling 45 minutes to work every morning. Plus class does not start until much later than we are used to getting up. This may sound great to most people but for me this could cause a week of many tears and thrown off schedules for all my little ones I care for. They all wait for the moment he arrives home everyday and next week he will still be here every morning when they arrive. Which means he will have to say goodbye to them every morning to attend this class. I can already see it now, everyday I will have three very sad kids around 8am when it’s time to say goodbye. I will enjoy the extra 1/2 hour of sleep we can have every morning but would trade it for the melt down I will have to deal with every morning when he leaves. Thankfully it’s only a week;-)

Just in case you are one of those people that can’t wait for Christmas and count the days until it arrives, I came across this cute website that you may find interesting. The three year old I care for had fun with the snow falling when we figured out if you move the mouse the flakes fall that same direction. Check it out here at the Christmas Countdown Clock.

That’s all I have for you today. Enjoy your weekend.

 

The Difference A Few Degrees Means To Me

You wouldn’t think a few degree temperature drop would really make such a difference in my life but let me assure you, it really does. Here are a few examples of what has changed in the last few weeks.

  • I have more laundry. I often will wear three shirts just to keep warm during the days and when we go outside to play. Our son wears a hoodie and tshirt when it’s cooler. Then my husband adds a tshirt to his work uniform. You also need to add jeans instead of shorts which adds up fast. All this results in a lot more laundry per day.
  • We add soup back into our diets. This is not a bad thing by any means. We all love soup and it’s a great way to get veggies into kids that don’t like veggies:-) Shhhh, don’t tell them!
  • Blankets are never packed away far. Normally we only dig out the blankets for fort building time but when the temps drop they are out all day long. There is nothing better than snuggling under the blankets reading stories all together before nap time.
  • Outside play takes more preparation. Instead of slipping on sandals and applying sunscreen before heading outdoors we now need to be better prepared. Jackets, hats, socks, shoes, and the kleenex box.
  • Kleenex is in high demand! For some reason as soon as the temps drop the noses start to run and run and run and run…..
  • Grilling season comes to an end. Oh, how this saddens me:-( What can I say, I love my nights off when my hubby grills. We are not to the point yet where he will not grill (in other words, the patio is not covered with snow yet) but now grilling is at a minimum.
  • Goodbye to daylight. I already miss sitting on the porch together at night talking about our days. By the time we eat, clean up dinner, workout and get home it is already dark.
  • I am constantly vacuuming up leaves. Our trees drop little yellow leaves that love sticking to shoes and get carried inside. These drive me crazy!!!!!!

These are just a few things that change with the cooler temperatures in my life.

 

What do you notice most in your life when the weather turns cooler?

A Chilly Last Splash Of Summer…What’s Next?

Fall arrived this week which is why we now have all our kayaks stored for the winter. That is not to stay our gear could not make another appearance this fall, however it is very unlikely. We were able to get to the river one last time this past weekend as a family. It was also our son’s first time on whitewater with his new kayak.

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The river was running higher than usual and it was quite a ride for us all. After being laid up recovering most of the summer this was a fantastic way to end the paddling season for him.

We now move on to camping, geocaching, and hiking. This is the best time for these activities in our area. There is not a lot of mud and water from melting snow like spring time brings. No knee high snow to walk through like during the winter months and not many bug, snakes, or heat/humidity to have to endure from the summer months. Believe me, our calendar is packed right up until Thanksgiving with anything I can possibly think of to do outside.

So until our scenery turns from this

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to this

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I will be switching gear from this

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to these

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and living life just as I plan, like this.

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I better be going, have a great weekend everyone.