Bonus Freezer Meals, Big Decisions, and Bad Luck For Someone All Rolled Into One Week

After a fabulous Easter dinner last Sunday with my husband and son we had, once again, tons of food left over for the week.

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Which meant I had to come up with ideas to use up the leftovers. From ham soup to ham and hash brown egg bake…we enjoyed ham for a few days.

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I also needed to concentrate on restocking our freezer meals so I planned the weekly menu around doing this. We enjoyed no boil lasagna one night and sloppy joes another. Both meals leaving plenty to package and freeze for fast lunches to send with my husband for work.

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Workouts this week were pretty good. I am still dealing with a sore middle back….but foam rolling has been offering some relief. I think some of it may be stress which I am trying to figure out and deal with.

Easter Sunday: 2.5 mile hike with my husband

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Monday: another 2.5 mile hike on the same trail….only much, much colder and windy today and upper body weights at home

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Tuesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, abs and legs workout, and foam rolling my back muscles

Wednesday: 3 mile evening walk and upper body weights at home

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Thursday: gym : 30 minute elliptical and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: solo hike on two different trails for a total of 4 miles

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Some weeks it helps to try and find the positive and not focus on the negatives. Not that it was that bad of a week but there are some decisions I am struggling with and I know I have to deal with them soon. Losing sleep over things I cannot change is one thing but losing sleep over things I can change is another. It’s not good for anyone since I really need my sleep. So I need to get on this and soon.

On the positive side of things….at least I am not this guy with this dilemma!!!!! Mother Nature and her fury won again after a windy ride on the Bay of Green Bay, this guy had his sail ripped right from his hands and thrown up into a tree. Talk about bad luck….Yikes!!!!

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A Great Ending To Finish Off The Week….Minus One Snake

Strange week for me for sure. All the stars aligned and left me with Friday off….super cool in every way possible. So what did I do, well, I do what I always do, I went and had the best sweat session ever in the wee morning hours at the gym Friday morning. You all know I LOVE to work out in the morning and it leaves me with SO MUCH ENERGY the rest of the day it’s crazy. After this I came home, showered, and surprised my husband by freeing up Friday night by going grocery shopping during the day instead of the evening as we always do. I even made a trip to Aldi’s here in Green Bay. Someplace I really need to visit more often but just never do and it’s a shame. I could save so much money I know, but I dislike their hours and I can’t get everything I need there either.  So to normally shop two grocery stores would be a huge hassle for me.

My knee is back to almost 100% so it was back to full workouts all week. It was a bit of a crazy week with my husbands birthday one day which meant we were gone out one evening.  One day we had gorgeous spring like weather which we spent all day outside enjoying, doing yard work and taking walks. Which then left me completely exhausted come evening time. Just how I love feeling after a great day outdoors.So my workouts were all over the place but I still fit it what I could.

Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and legs

Monday: home:1 mile walk with my kiddos, 30 minute recumbent bike, total body weights, 3 mile evening walk with my hubby

Tuesday: 2 mile walk and a lot of yard work

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike, arms and shoulder weights, stretching

Friday: gym: 45 minute elliptical, TRX suspension trainer, and stretching

Saturday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and stretching

outdoors: 3.1 mile hike

Ending the week with an nice spring mud hike through an area waterfowl preserve near us. I love this place, they have so many gorgeous hiking trails and its minutes from our home.

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The true sign for me that spring has arrived is these slithery creatures start making a comeback. Going into the hike I figured it was still way to early to see any….apparently I was wrong. We came across this one just off the trail….and he was not moving all that quickly since it was still cold so I actually calmed myself(and used my zoom) to capture my first ever living snake picture.

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Alum Cave Hike In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We did two hikes while in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in January. One being the Alum Cave hike to the bluffs.

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According to the day hikes guide we picked up at the Sugarlands visitor center upon arrival,

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it was a fairly short hike, 4.6 miles round trip and rated as strenuous.

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This trail was amazing…..there were so many different things to look at, experience, and explore. First, I must remind you, we were here in January and this particular day was a Saturday. The trail was no doubt wet. Some spots were wetter than others but easily doable.

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A bit down the trail we came to our first of three one sided bridges that were over water.

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This trail does follow a stream/river almost the entire way which makes for some very nice photo opportunities along the way.

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(photo courtesy of our son, Quade Byrnes Photography)

Eventually you will come to a cave opening that has steps built into it that will bring you up and over away from the stream. This is Alum Cave. There is cable built into the wall of the bluff for guidance but it is not difficult in any way, in my opinion.

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After going through the cave we came across our first water crossing without a bridge. In January we found it easy to find big enough rocks to make it across with dry feet.

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Upon reaching the bluffs, it was still very foggy and made for a good rest spot while our son took all the photographs he came to get. This also made a nice spot to stop and have a snack and cool down. It was a warm hike, being about 60 degrees outside on this day, but it is straight up the mountain the entire way.

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After this we headed back down the same trail we came up and back to the parking area where we began. Of course, there were more photographs to be taken along the way.

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For us this trail was great. Our GPS read 5.6 miles round trip when we returned to the vehicle. Now, we did make a few extra steps for necessary reasons but an extra mile I would have to wonder about. However, after many years of hiking I have found no one measurement of mileage on a trail is ever the same so for us it ended up being 5.6 miles proudly!

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A few things I must mention…..in January you will not find the restrooms at the trailhead open. So take care of “business” before hand. The parking area for this trail is well mark, easy to find and has ample parking. However, in January when we returned from our hike, vehicles were lined up on the road due to full lots everywhere. I can only imagine summer/spring and fall to be even worse. So I would say, arrive early during all seasons.

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And, as near other trailheads we have visited, this one was also well marked to take all valuables with you.

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I would highly recommend this hike if you are in good shape and like mountain hiking. Children will also be able to easily do this trail with parent supervision. Cliff edges are easily manageable and the views are breathtaking.

 

Enjoying The Little Things

I have been really concentrating on enjoying the little things during this hectic time of year. With rude holiday shoppers, crazy drivers rushing from one place to another, and everyone stressed about the upcoming holidays it’s sometimes hard to find happiness. That’s why for me, I just concentrate on the little things to bring me happiness.

Lately, I have been feeling this need to come up with some new recipes for my family. I feel as if I have been stuck in a rut preparing the same old dinners and felt the need to change things up a bit. So I have been concentrating on making one new recipe a week….so far we have tried shredded brussel sprouts and glazed pork loin.

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While we are on the topic of food, I have also been enjoying the colder temps because I can make as much soup as I wish and everyone is willing to eat it. This is something that does not happen in the summer months.

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Along with good old comfort food, like roasted root vegetables and casseroles which are always a favorite at meal time and oh so easy to prepare.

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As the weather gets colder we find ourselves doing more short hikes around the area than longer ones. This is hard for me since I could literally walk forever on a dirt trail but at the same time, I am so thankful we have been able to still get out. We see so much wildlife when we hike here in WI and this is something that always brings a smile to my face.

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This last hike we did was cold….like really cold. And in one week the ponds have froze over and this means my hiking days are coming to an end fast here.

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This is not something that brings me as much joy as it brings my little kiddos that show up at my doorstep every morning for daycare but it is something special. Every year during one of the first snow falls my husband will get all dressed up and go outside and build a snowman that greets them bright and early in the morning. And that first snowman has been built already this year….and it brought such joy to so many people from neighbors to friends and family.

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Last but not least, let me show you our second jig saw puzzle of the winter. Normally we redo our stack of puzzles because let’s face it, there is no way to memorize where every piece goes in a 1000 piece puzzle so they really never get boring. However, once in awhile we will see one that just screams from the store shelf…..”buy me and put me together!” which this one did…..it’s so summer like that who could resist….right.

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What brings you joy in a hectic time of year?

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow….

Well, it’s here, 3.7 inches of the fluffy, white covering fell on Sunday and this meant life for me got a bit lot more depressing. I miss green grass, green leaves, and warmth. Suffering with seasonal depression is real everyone and it hits hard in our house when it begins to snow. However, as always, I hold my head high and try my best to stay positive….and by this I mean, I am positive that someday I will never have to endure another winter like WI winters again. Someday…..

So let’s talk about what does bring me happiness…like exercise. Here is what I did this week in the happiness department:

Sunday: 3.4 mile hike

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Monday: 3 mile mall walk…yes you read that correctly…..our first mall walking laps of the winter….ugggg!

Tuesday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing and abs with a short stretch session

Wednesday: 3 mile mall walk and floor weights routine at home

Thursday: 3 mile mall walk

Friday: rest

Saturday: 1.5 mile freezing cold hike(check out the temperature when we arrived at the trailhead)

gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing and my first attempt at the new addition to our gym….the Synergy 360 Circuit.

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This week was a bit odd. My husband hurt his shoulder so we swayed away from the gym most of the week and concentrated on walking instead. Mid week the stomach bug plagued one of my kiddos which meant some disinfecting at nap time instead of exercise for me. And then, near the end of the week we got a bit of unnerving family news that threw me for a loop which then made us change up our weekend plans. Add in the snow storm we are experiencing while I sit here and type….and well, let just say it’s a good week to have over with.

 

 

 

Questions I Am Asked Most Often Being A Female Hiker

Being a female hiker is not common in the WI, at least this is what I have found in my journey. Maybe this is the reason I loved visiting Utah an Arizona so much. Clearly, there were just as many, if not more, female hikers than males. With that being said, I do know of a few women who like to hit the trail and often will be asked questions by them in regards to my likes and dislikes. Which I thought would be informative and fun to share with those of you that are wondering some specifics in regards to this activity.

So here are some of the most asked questions and my answers to them all.

Water Bladder or water bottle? For me it’s a bottle every time. I have tried a bladder and both my husband and son love theirs…..I just can’t get past the rubber bag taste. I know it would be much more convenient but for the short trails I mostly hike(10 mile or less) I don’t mind having to carry a bottle(s). I love my Nalgenes most but the collapsible Platypus brand are very nice also.

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Pit toilet or cathole? Clearly there are moments where there is no option….but if at all possible I will wait till we get to a trailhead and use a pit toilet. I have learned either way it is a “crapshoot” since some pit toilets are down right horrendous. The worst pit toilet I have ever seen was at Scouts Landing on the way up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park…..we all decided to do our business behind the building because this pit toilet was not even “hold your breath” tolerable!!!! I will never forget it!!!

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Distance or elevation? This really depends on a few things. For me here at home, there are really no elevation hikes, so scenery and distance is usually the goal. When we travel to hike while on vacation….I am an all or nothing elevation hiker. The higher the better for me….I love the feeling of being as close to heaven as possible without being deceased. If I am hiking for stress relief, any place and any distance will do as long as it’s a dirt trail with very few people.

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Boots or trail shoes: This is completely personal but I would never hike any trail without my boots simply because I have very weak ankles and need the extra support.

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Trail map or GPS: Both! Before I hike any new trail, I do tons of research. I always have a trail map along and we almost always bring our GPS with us with our vehicle marked before starting the trail . You just never know and I am a better safe than sorry type of person.

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Alone or with a group? I rarely get the opportunity to hike alone….but when I have I find it very peaceful. I can go at my own pace for as long as I wish. However, there is something to be said about hiking with my husband and son and also with a group since I have done both. They all have there pluses and minuses so I like all of them for different reasons.

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What do I use for personal protection: I always hike with bear spray…and not always for the bears I may come across. My thoughts are, if it works even a little bit on a bear, it will work enough on a person so that I can at least have a chance. Plus, I also use my husband for protection…..I believe this man would give a limb to save my life.

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Forest or desert hikes: Both since here at home I have only forest. When we travel and it’s my choice where we are headed….it’s always the desert. I love it hot!

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Squat or female urine device: Female urine device every time. I am not a fan of peeing in my boots…which sometimes happens when you squat. It’s much more discreet when hiking with men, which is almost always who I hike with.Plus, imagine this….temps are 20 degrees, you have a ton of layers on, and snow is up to your knees when you step off the trail to go squat. Now you tell me if you want to drop your drawers and squat to pee. This is what I hike in 4-6 months out of every year which is why I love my female urine device.

What are my biggest dislikes about hiking? I have two big dislikes. One being garbage left by humans on the trail. Some of us are just plain old pigs and need to learn to clean up after ourselves. My other dislike is bushwhacking…..you know, going off the trail to a so called trail that is really not a trail. Ugggg, this is a big dislike for me. We actually came up with a new family rule when we recently traveled to Sedona and hiked in the desert. If the trail is not as wide as my hips I am not hiking it!!!! My husband and son seemed to think this was funny……but we did not hike anymore trails on this trip at least this wide.

What’s the one thing I would not hike without? My boots

Am I scared? I am asked this very often and every time I am not sure what to answer. Scared of what is always my thought. In my opinion, there are bad people everywhere, there are guns everywhere, there are animals everywhere, and there are places in my every day life that I could be in danger. If it’s my time , then so be it. I can only hope that when it is my time it is somewhere beautiful, I am wearing by boots, there is a smile on my face, and dirt under my feet. So no, I guess I am not scared.

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If I could choose one place to hike where would this be? Such a difficult question. I have hiked in some places that have taken my breath away, made me feel emotions I have never felt in my life, and have given me such a feeling of accomplishment that it is hard to explain. So, in all honesty, I don’t know where I would choose but I know it would be the southwest region without a doubt.

These are the most commonly asked questions of me in regards to what I hike, why I hike and what I do differently as a female on the trail. Hiking does not have to be technical, it can simply be a walk in the woods. Women often think because of there shape, size, time of the month, physical ability or the fact that there is no one to do this with, that it is not feasible. I am here to tell you it is and if you have ever considered trying this activity to do it. I think you would be surprised at how much you will enjoy it.

****Keep in mind, these are all my personal opinions and are not meant to guide anyone one way or the other. I consider myself a casual hiker and my no means a long distance or an ultralight hiker.

Chimney Rock Loop Trail-Sedona, Arizona

Chimney Rock Loop was our last and final trail we hiked while in Sedona for the first time. It was also an unplanned add on because…..well….we just weren’t ready to return home. All three of us fell for desert hiking much more than we thought we would…..especially my husband.

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This hike was a 2 mile loop that involved some elevation but nothing drastic by any means. From the parking lot located on Thunder Mountain Road in Sedona, it loops around very close to residents back yards in the first mile or so. (***NOTE the gate to this parking lot apparently does not open until 8:00a.m. so plan accordingly.) This I did not care for, as it felt a bit intruding but then again, I am guessing the trail was probably there before the homes were constructed, so it all works out I suppose. Anyhow, I sort of felt like I was still in the city so to speak. However, all of a sudden you head inward and round the mountain and climb a bit upwards and you are on the lookout and away from the homes.

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You then continue around the mountain base while headed back down. This side is much more secluded and peaceful.

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All our resources stated this hike was rated moderate….I would agree to some extent but most of it was fairly easy.

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In my opinion, this is a hike if you have a short amount of time and need to stay close to the city itself. All that being said, we saw many area residents using it for trail running which I bet is ideal for a quick run before or after work.

*** To see more 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.