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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A Christmas Hike and A Big Birthday To Celebrate

Wow, these past few days have been so wonderful that for once I can honestly say I have enjoyed Christmas. Typically, the holiday is crazy nuts with places to go and people to see that there is hardly time to breathe in between. This year was so different and so pleasant in every way.

First, let me just say that the weather was gorgeous. We had no snow what so ever and I was one of the very few that was happy about this. Everyone claims they need snow for Christmas….everyone except me that is. I had to laugh when I received this in our mail box recently since this is exactly what I prefer to build a snowman out of also.

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Alright, back to why our holiday was so wonderful. We woke up bright and early Christmas morning to open gifts while breakfast made our house smell heavenly. Baking away in the oven was a gooey mess of yumminess we were going to enjoy before packing up to leave for a day of outdoor adventure. Here is the finished product before we devoured it without guilt since it was Christmas and all:-)   IMG_3135

We had plans to head out and do what our family loves to do on this gorgeous day…..hike. We packed up a quick Christmas lunch, threw our hiking boots in the back, grabbed our camera gear, made a thermos full of nutella hot chocolate and away we went.

IMG_3136A while later we arrived at one of our favorite parks, Cave Point. As we made our way to the trail we noticed that Mother Nature seemed to have decorated the lake side bushes and tress with icicles that were like diamonds hanging from the limbs. It was quite beautiful to see.  IMG_3137

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We hiked along the shoreline for quite a ways enjoying the beauty of the day and the area.

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After this it was time to have Christmas lunch as we have had many, many lunches in our family…..right from the back of our vehicles. Many of you will probably think this is an insane place to share a Christmas meal but in our family, some of the best meals have been shared on the tailgate of our truck or from the trunk of our car. Anyone who has kayaked with us will agree and know right where I am coming from. I could not have thought of a better place to share this meal on this day.IMG_3179Then we headed out to another trail on the way home.  IMG_3182

The main reason for stopping here was to search for a geocache we have been meaning to get for sometime now. Although, as you can see the area is mainly what I refer to as SNAKE GRASS covered. Which means the only time this is possibly with me along is when the snakes are are happily sleeping away winter.

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After this it was time to return home, watch a movie and just be together.

The next day, Christmas celebrations were officially over since we now had a big birthday to celebrate. Our son celebrated his 21st birthday the day after Christmas which meant a nice birthday lunch out at his favorite restaurant.

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And some birthday presents all wrapped in birthday paper. It’s very hard to not forget a birthday when its celebrated so close to a big holiday. As his mom, I have always had the rule that if your going to give him birthday gifts at Christmas time, they MUST be at least wrapped in birthday paper. Thankfully, to this day, everyone abides by this rule.  IMG_3134

That pretty much sums the past few days.

Do you prefer snow on Christmas?

 

 

What I’m Loving Lately

Here is another version of what I am loving lately.

Gas Prices: Did you EVER believe you would see gas under $2 a gallon again? Not me….but it is I could not be happier.

Blueberry Bliss Luna Bars: Yummmmmm. Luna bars have become my go to bar when I need a quick snack. I love both the lemon zest and now the blueberry bliss flavors. Give them a try, I think you will be happily surprised:)

Spring: Officially arrives in 64 days.

Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges: I found a new snack that is tasty, easy and healthy. I unwrap a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese , top it with salsa and enjoy with pretzels. These wedges are perfect because they are individually wrapped, easy to grab and go and don’t need refrigeration until after you open it. Plus they have an assortment of different flavors to choose from.

Health food and workout clothing is all on sale: One nice thing about the new year is these two items go on sale for all the new year resolution people. However, those of us that are already health freaks also get to reap the benefits:)

Spark Recipes app: Lately, I feel as if I have been in a recipe fog. I am tired of everything we normally like to eat and can’t seem to come up with any new ideas. That is until I came across the app Spark Recipes. This has been a great tool for sparking my love of being in the kitchen again.

Cinnamon in my morning coffee: Recently, I have had this craving for cinnamon so I decided one morning to add a sprinkle to my morning coffee and was very pleasantly surprised.

Anything you want to share that you have been loving lately?

 

Weekly Dinner Planning

A while back I was asked how I plan and accomplish getting dinner on the table every night while caring for children and exercising as often as I do. I thought now would be a great time to touch on this topic since everyone has probably started their resolution of adding exercise to their daily life all while trying to juggle everything else that life throws their way.

First let me say, I always have a plan but do not beat myself up if that plan does not always happen. However, there are many factors that play into our weekly meal plan. Things like appointments, # of people eating that night, schedules, seasons, moods, weather, workout plans, coupons, etc.

Typically, I make my menu plan on Friday’s so I can take stock of the pantry and grocery shop for the needed supplies over the weekend. I always give myself Saturday off, where I prepare no meals at all for my family. This is the day I only cook for myself, someone cooks for me, or in the summer time you will usually find us sharing a meal on the tailgate of our truck after hours of kayaking,

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a meal on top of a bluff,

IMG_0382 or it could even be a meal on the top of a kayak. Regardless of where Saturdays meal may be you will not be served by me on this day of the week:)

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There is no magic trick to getting a decent dinner on the table most nights. I use my time wisely, I prepare anything I possibly can ahead of time, we have many cooking projects that the kids I care for can help with, I use kitchen tools when time is tight (love the crock pot), and always clean and cut up veggies right after I buy them. That is one step I don’t need to worry about getting done during the week.

A normal week looks somewhat like:

Sunday: nice dinner could take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to prepare (workout day)

Monday: 30minute meal (workout night)

Tuesday: 30 minute meal ( workout night)

Wednesday: crock pot or casserole meal (playdate on Wednesday’s means something to set and forget or a casserole I premade in the morning is ideal) (workout night)

Thursday: 30 minute meal ( workout night)

Friday: easy fast 15 minute meal (who feels like cooking on Friday’s) (off no workout)

Saturday: off (workout, kayaking, hiking, tennis, etc)

I will start posting our weekly menu plan on Sunday’s so you can get a little look into how I manage meals, exercise, working, and life. Maybe this will help those of you who struggle to find balance when it comes to feeding your family and still finding time for you.

Here is this weeks plan:

Sunday: no boil lasagna and side salad

Monday: pork stir fry over rice medley

Tuesday: crunchy ground turkey hoisin pockets and roasted broccoli

Wednesday: roasted whole chicken in the crock pot, stuffing, and zucchini

Thursday:  sushi and side salads

Friday: tuna casserole

Saturday: make it yourself or starve:)

If you see something that sounds good and  you would like the recipe, comment or email me at rednatural1973@gmail.com and I will be happy to share it with you.

 

 

Tell Me Your Thoughts

With the end of another year right around the corner I thought it would be a good time to ask for some of your thoughts regarding Natural Red. I have blogged about many, many things. Topics on exercise, kayaking, hiking, family, children, SAD, recipes, day in the life, weekend recaps, etc. I would like to know which topics you would like to see more or less of here on Natural Red.

Please take a moment and give me some feedback. Your opinion and thoughts will be appreciated. Thank You:)

What are your favorite kinds of posts on Natural Red?

What are your least favorite kinds of posts on Natural Red?

How often do you read Natural Red?

Do you ever try the recipes you find on Natural Red?

What would you like to see more of on Natural Red?

Would you like a post to read on the weekend?

Have any posts inspired you to try something new?

Any other thoughts you care to share with me.

 

July Goals

I feel as if summer is just flying by so quickly. Which is why I decided to make a list of goals for July. My hope is to make sure I get at least some of these things accomplished before this month is over.

Not a single thing on my list is related to work, home improvement, or honestly a chore. It’s all mainly fun things, health related things or things that just need to be done before we run out of summer. The way I see it, I can do work, home improvements and chores all winter long.

My July Goals:

1. Get out on my SUP as much as possible

In the past summers we have either kayaked more or had vehicle issues that I was not able to spend as much time as I would have preferred on my SUP. Not this year….we made a car top carrier purchase back in March and it was the best buy we made this year. Now I can go with either vehicle whenever I wish.

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2. Get rid of the tan line that circles around my ankles from my kayaking shoes!!!!

Normally this would not bother me in the least bit, BUT, some friends of ours are getting married in a few weeks and it is not going to look so nice in the sandals I plan to wear. So I figure I better at least try and even this out somewhat before then.

3. Have a Mom’s Day Off 🙂

Since my own son is 19 yrs old I don’t consider myself a full time mom anymore. I hold more of a part time status in this matter. So really this is just a day off of being a mom, wife and a childcare provider. I already have it planned, our destination is chosen, and the women I plan to go with is also arranged. Now we all just have to not let life happen and have it be cancelled for some reason or another. Here’s to hoping and we have a great time.

4. Date night with my husband

What can I say, we spend a lot of time together but never really on a date. We should make this a priority but we don’t. After 20 years of marriage, date nights are kind of over rated. However, it is my turn to plan our date night and what I want to do on this particular night is super exciting and I can’t wait to try it. He was the one that got to plan the last date night and it ended with me riding a roller coaster which I will never do again.  Now we just need to pick a night and make it happen.

5. Try 2 new recipes

Summer time is the worse time of year for me to cook. If I had a backyard outdoor kitchen it may be different but I don’t. So this goal will be hard to do but may be possible if it rains two days in the month of July.

6. Defunk our kayak equipment

I know I said no chores but this one is really super easy and will only take a few minutes. If you are a kayaker you will know what I mean by DEFUNK! Kayaking gear can get pretty smelly and it literally takes seconds to fill up a tub with enzyme solution, dip each piece of equipment and hang to dry. I try and do this at least once or twice during the summer and then a final time before storing the equipment for the winter.

7. Try a new restaurant

We have a few new restaurants in the area and we always seem to venture back to our normal favorites. We really need to broaden our horizons and try some new places.

So there is the list. Nothing too elaborate or difficult to achieve. Ha, I say that now but I know I will struggle with a few of these. I am hoping that by making a list it will help me feel a little more accountable. We’ll see….either way, let’s all hope for a great, bright, and sunny month of July and have some fun 🙂

What is one goal you hope to achieve in the month of July?

 

Week Recap

I can’t believe it’s Friday already. My week started out pretty slow but shifted into high gear mid week. We got so much accomplished this week on the “to do” list that I would say we are ready to move into play mode during our weekends.

Monday we were finally able to finish landscaping our yard. This is the first year we will not have a garden. Sad I know, but I just could not find the time. At the end of the gardening season last fall we took down the fencing and planted grass. Now we just needed to add some landscaping pavers and transplant some hostas. I did the hostas with some help from our son during nap time one day. Then, when my hubby arrived home from work he laid the pavers and ta da, another job done. Of course, as you can see, he had a little helper.

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Lately, for some reason I have been struggling to come up with dinner ideas and stick to them during the week days, but this week I did a great job. We always plan a week in advance what dinner will be and depending on life, jobs, weather, etc. this can change very quickly. However, this week went according to planned. Our meals consisted of:

Monday: veggie stir fry with spring rolls

Tuesday: chicken pot pie and side salad

Wednesday: no boil lasagna and garlic bread

Thursday: sloppy joe casserole and sauteed zucchini

Friday: chicken quesadillas and with all the fixings

And I have to share something with you all. I have read so many smoothie recipes and have seen pictures of hundreds of different blends. I have never been a lover of fruit but thought maybe in smoothie form I would be able to consume a little more. So one morning I blended up some fruit (apple, pineapple, banana, greek yogurt, and a little almond milk) and the outcome was pretty tasty.

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I can’t say I would make this very often or be able to consume this as a meal. However, I think this would be a great way to help others get there intake of fruit, especially if your like me and don’t really care for many fruits. I guess I am just more of a veggie person.

I have also come up with a quick breakfast idea that both my husband and I have been loving lately. This is by no means a new thing, but it is something that is new to us. Breakfast at our house has to be quick because we get up very early for my husband to make his 45 minute drive to work every day. I took some clean jars, granola, greek yogurt and what ever berry/fruit mixture you prefer. (We change ours up) And just started layering in a jar.

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I will make a few of these up on Sunday and they are good for a quick breakfast all week long. Amazingly, the granola even stays crunchy.

Which brings us to the weekend. With no definite set plans I am kind of left hanging. Yes, I have the normal errands to run, I think my husband is going fishing with my brother, our son has to work part of the weekend and then it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. Which means I should have plans, but I don’t yet. Sometimes those weekend where you just let happen what happens are fun. Hopefully this one will be.

Have a great weekend everyone.

And to all you mom’s out there, Happy Mother’s Day 🙂