Thursday, July 30, 2015

Washington Island Trip: Part Two

Yesterday, I shared a little bit about our introduction to Washington Island, WI. Today, I'll share a little bit about what we explored while we were there. We did a little bit of sightseeing each day with a whole lot of lounging, dock-sitting, reading and napping in between. Just our style and just what we needed.

One of the first days we were there, we went hiking at Mountain Park. It is a huge climb with a staircase that has over 100 steps to get to the top. At the top, you have to climb a billion more steps to get to the top of the lookout tower. For the rest of the day, my poor not-up-to-pre-pregnancy-toughness legs were all wobbly. But the view was amazing! It gave us quite the bird's eye view of the island layout. BTW, I love my Snugli baby carrier that I believe I found at a rummage sale. Rayna just loved being carried in that thing, on my back. We did a lot of non-stroller-friendly sightseeing and this was the only way to do it. Join the #babywearing movement, yo.

While we didn't have any TV or Wifi access, we did want a little something to do at nights before the kids went to bed, so we went to the local library, opened up a card, and rented some movies. Hubster happened to bring his computer along, so we were able to do that. We're still trying to introduce Kayne to all the original Disney characters that we met as kids, including Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan and Snow White. At Disney World, he had no idea who half the classic characters were!

Another day we dedicated to swimming. We visited Schoolhouse Beach, which is one of 5 beaches in the whole world with smooth stones like this. Although this beach is rocky, and I would suggest wearing water shoes, it was crystal clear and THE best place for swimming on the island in my opinion. Cold though. Very cold. Rayna took her very first swim in these waters. She lasted about two seconds. Haha.

Only picture of Rayna that doesn't show her screaming

We also swam off the dock by our cabin, but
the bottom was pretty mucky.

We also went to a little ice cream social event that seemed to be one of the "big" events while we were there. We had hamburgers and ice cream, all-American style. There were activities for the kids too. One of them was a station to build things out of scraps of wood. Not sure why WI was in the scrap pile, but it was. Kayne wanted to build a birdhouse, so he tried his best. But Rayna started telling us she was sooo done, so I quickly swooped in and tried to "fix" the birdhouse, which made Kayne mad. I rectified the situation by getting him all excited about creating a fairy garden with it. We decked it out with a flower garden, swing, walk path and pool (Gatorade lid). I just LOVED doing this little imaginative project with him. We're going to build one at home too.

Another day, we checked out a few museums including the Jacobsen Museum, which had a lot of native artifacts and a cabin that Jens Jacobsen built. We also visited a nature museum and a butterfly house which had a huge butterfly garden out back.

Then there was, you know, the local coffee shop, bookstore. And lots of outdoor play time.

Cute scene behind the coffee shop

We spent a lot of time on our picnic blanket

My infamous pinch bouquet. These dainty flowers were the cutest!

I don't know what it was about Door County, but there were several of these buildings with grass growing on the roofs. Hubster pointed one out and wondered how they mow the grass up there. I turned around and looked back and saw there were goats on the roof! That's how they mow the grass!

Washington Island bookstore with grass on the roof 

See the goats up there at the peak?

I love turning our trips into teachable moments, without forcing it. In fact, I even wrote a whole post about how we do it. We bought a Critters of WI book for Kayne and read up on a few of the animals we saw. We also bought him a net at one of the bookstores so he could explore the little fish, butterflies and bugs on the island. We stopped and explained a lot of the things in the nature museums that he was curious about.

It's hard to see in this pic, but a momma deer
and her two fawns nonchalantly
crossed the road in front of us. Sooo cute!

You know, sometimes you just have to catch
those picture-worthy opportunities. Bahaha!

This was a trip we won't soon forget. Kayne keeps talking about what we'll do "when we go back." Not sure if/when we'll go back, but I'm sure glad he enjoyed it so much he wants to return!

Next up, we're headed camping trip in August and we just can't wait. We still haven't perfected Rayna's sleeping arrangements in the camper, but we've done it once before this spring with a folding bassinet, so maybe she'll get used to it. Lots more sun and relaxation in our future.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Quick Note

Hey guys, you might notice that I'm finally back here on the blog. Yay!!! I feel like a small explanation for my absence is in order, but I'm not ready to disclose the full details yet, so be patient with me:) I recently had a huge setback in my personal life, namely a whole bunch of circumstances surrounding some postpartum OCD/depression issues that I've been having. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that I could only take life one hour at a time and could muster motivation for nothing beyond the basic necessities. I needed this break.

Thankfully, I have a great team of doctors who all know what's going on now and have me on the right track. As much as I didn't want to be on medication while breastfeeding, it is not an option for me. The medication is probably saving my life right now. I realize there is a whole messy mire of stigma attached to mental health issues and I'm ready to help destroy that. It's real people. It's as real as diabetes and should be treated as such.

Anyhow, soapbox moment aside, I am well on my way into recovery. Things are much more manageable and much less anxiety-ridden now and I've noticed a lot of myself coming back, my passions, my list-making frenzies, my type A "get it done" attitude. And along with that is a renewed thirst for writing and sharing in this space. I already have several posts lined up for the next few days and plenty more in the works or rattling around in my brain. So let's have a toast, shall we? Here's to a regular, healthy blogging schedule and a grounded healthy me. Cheers!

***By the way, I am usually an open book, but this condition has me a bit reserved about sharing here. But, if you want to chat more, feel free to email me privately. Because of my experience, I now have a desire to help and support other people with postpartum issues.

Washington Island Trip: Part One

This year, we decided to take our big family trip to Washington Island in Door County Wisconsin. We live pretty close-ish to this gem but have somehow never been there. This was the most last minute planning I have ever done in my life! We took our vacation days long in advance and knew we were going somewhere, but didn't know where. We were going to do our regular trip to Wisconsin Dells, but Kayne broke his pinky and we didn't think he'd be able to do a lot of the fun stuff in waterpark city. So, I considered Baraboo, I considered way "up north" somewhere, I considered home-sharing in Madison, etc. Hubster was pretty much fine with anything. I finally landed on Washington Island, and it was exactly the trip that we needed! It was full of relaxation and nature, the two things we needed most during this time.

On our way to the ferry, we made a pit stop at a rest area that turned out to be the halfway point to the North Pole!!!

I also decided to start a weaving project on the car ride. You know, just cuz.

So, we started with our first ferry ride across the lake. None of us had ever been on one, so it was interesting do drive up, ride over the water and drive right off again. We made our way to our cabin, which I had reserved, sight unseen, because they didn't have a website. It was the most adorable, charming thing I've seen! There was no TV and no WiFi, so we were forced to go unplugged, which was reeeeeeally nice. The cabin had a nice-sized living area with two bunk beds and a fold-out queen-sized couch. We set up a Pack N Play for Rayna. We had our own kitchen and bathroom with shower for a very reasonable price. It was nice because we could bring the dog and baby and not have to worry about our family's noises bothering our neighbors or being too confined in close quarters. We also could prepare all of our own meals.

Cutest porch nestled in the trees

Our backyard!!! Even saw deer out here a few times!

Steps up to the house

They had the most beautiful property
and quaint little landscaped areas

Our hosts were so accommodating. They were so friendly and attentive to us. They live in a house on the property and rent out two cabins in their backyard. They invited us to a bonfire the first night. The wife even dug out a whole bunch of games for Kayne and played soccer and golf with him for at least a half hour. How sweet is that? One night, the daughter, who was visiting from Germany, even brought us over a yummy German dessert she had made from scratch that had a hint of a beer flavor. I wish I remembered what it was called.

Across the street from where we were staying, the owners owned a patch of land on the water with a peninsula where the swimming was fiiine. They even had a boat that they told us we could freely use.

Even the poochy took a swim

Look at that view!

We did a little bit of sightseeing the first day, just to get an idea of the layout of the island, and we went grocery shopping for the first few days' worth of meals. That evening, we took a long walk down the road we were staying on. Saw a huge disgusting millipede! And all the mailboxes seemed to have these quirky little displays.

 I'm sure at one time this looked cute, but in its current condition, a bit creepy.

I was super surprised that the island wasn't overly tourist-y. Sure, there were just a few requisite cute little shops, but for the most part, the island is all about experiencing nature, history and community. One of the shops was a lavender shop, but even that was based on local traditions and had a lavender farm attached to it. The town seemed to be populated more with locals than anything, so the experience was more authentic than "painted on," if you know what I mean.

So, this was the beautiful introduction to the island that we had. Tomorrow, I'll be back with Part Two of our trip with a few more details about the places we visited.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Farmer's Market Kale Salad

I know that one of the most persistent comments I hear about going to the farmer's market is "I love getting fresh veggies, but I don't know what to make with half of these ingredients!" I myself have fallen into that rut myself. But I've made it a point to be intentional about my farmer's market shopping, picking out recipes that I'll actually make and eat. I'm dedicated to living healthier and just love knowing that all the little pieces of fresh veggies go to work inside my body. So, maybe I'll make "farmer's market recipes" part of my new blogging repertoire. We'll see;) I usually only like to make simple things. I also like things that can be tweaked based on what I have on-hand. If that's your jam, stay tuned.

So, kale! It looks like something you probably never want to touch. It's such a weird thick lettuce-y vegetable that no one knows what to do with, let alone WANTS to do anything with. I happen to love it when prepared right. The secret is in the marinade. You have to marinate kale to soften it up and give it good flavor. You have to massage the marinade in so it really absorbs, like sunscreen on the human body. See how that sounds like more like an "interaction" than a recipe? You actually have to interact with the kale to get it how you want it.

Farmer's Market Kale Salad

1 bunch kale
4 green onions, chopped (also from the farmer's market)

2 Tbsp craisins
2 Tbsp almonds
2 oz cheese, cubed (found THE best mushroom cheese at the market)
Other toppings of choice (other nuts, raisins, cherry tomatoes, feta, etc)

4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil

Shred the kale and put it in a bowl. Toss in diced green onions, cheese and toppings of choice. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Massage the dressing into the kale. You might even want to put the salad into a plastic container with a lid and shake it up, especially before serving. That's it!

This is the one type of salad where you actually want the leaves to "marinate" in the dressing. They won't get soggy! It will only taste better. If you want to add other greens to your salad, add before serving so they don't get soggy.

What would you buy at the farmer's market if you knew what to do with it?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekend Highlights: A Quick Glimpse of Spring!

**I started this post several weeks ago on my phone, but still thought these memories were worth recording:)

Well, we were finally reminded of what 60 degrees feels like here in Wisconsin this past week after what has felt like a cold desolate winter. Is that dramatic? Well, that's how it feels. The sidewalks are literally swarming with dogs on leashes, bicycles, strollers and roller blades. You fellow Wisconsinites know exactly how the first heat wave of the year phenomenon works! People. Everywhere.

Titus and I took advantage of the temps and went out for a morning sunrise run. My first outdoor run of the season!!! We've also been picking up Kayne from school on-foot, with the baby in the stroller. And we even happened upon one of these neat lending libraries we've seen finally popping up in our city.

Our family spent an entire weekend letting our cheeks tilt toward the sun. After enjoying a lunch out on the town this past weekend, we headed over to the dog park, but the mud up to the armpits of every dog out there made us reevaluate our plans. After trying another dog park that didn't look any better, we finally made our way to a local park with pet-friendly trails. Earlier, we had stopped at a cheese factory and picked up some fresh cheese (the freshest WI cheese possible), sausage, crackers and jam to picnic on.

I dabble in babywearing every now and then. Trail walking necessitates it. Rayna isn't usually very content facing me, so we're still adjusting and trying to figure out what works for us.

The trees out on this trail were exceptional for climbing!

And someone had built this super amazing fort thing among some of the trees. This is the kind of hideout my kid dreams were made of! We'll be back here, for a picnic or spring break or something.

Another little lean-to someone built. Makes me wonder who's been hanging out here.

After church the next day, the kiddos and I headed out to another favorite trail along the river to get a good leg stretch in again. We know that we are not out of the woods yet with snow being only March, so we get our leg stretchin' and sun soakin' in while we can. These little reprieves in the weather are always just enough to make the last few weeks of winter/early spring seem tolerable.

See what I mean? Wednesday we woke up to white stuff, but by the afternoon it had all melted. Spring, you little tease.

I can't wait for summer! To say the very least...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ultimate Tone it Up Bikini Series Printable

TIU Printable

Anyone else super excited for the annual TIU Bikini Series? Last year, I was unable to participate because I was very pregnant and very mobility-challenged. This year, I intend to rock it! Basically, the Bikini Series is an 8-week workout plan that leads right up to summer. You follow the workouts that are posted by Tone It Up each day. If you have the Nutrition Plan, you'll be choosing recipes and following along with that (or just eating clean). Their are daily prizes and huge incredible grand prizes for the winners. Check out last years' winners!

What I love most about Tone It Up is their community of women. They're all about making girlfriends for life and it's like a close-knit group of friends, bringing each other up. Everyone is encouraged to make connections on Twitter, Instagram, the TIU community pages, in real life, etc.

By the way, I will be doing daily/almost-daily check-ins on Twitter/Instagram. Let's follow each other! Twitter: @BounSee_Jess, Instagram: @Boun_SeeJess. The hashtags for the series are usually #toneitup, #BikiniSeries #100bysummer, #150bysummer, #tiumeals, etc.

Now, because I'm a super Type-A organizer type, I just had to design a printable for the upcoming Tone It Up Bikini Series. I've designed a few others in years past, but wanted to make a fresher, more comprehensive printable. I like things concrete, on paper, in front of me, especially when I'm doing my daily planning and goal-setting. 

So, I designed the ultimate Tone It Up Bikini Series printable. You can print the entire set of printables HERE. It includes eight trackers:

  1. Workout Planner
  2. Daily Checklist (Bombshell Spell, Booty Call, Workout, Check-in)
  3. 100 by Summer Tracker
  4. 150 by Summer Tracker
  5. Meal Planner
  6. Goal Tracker and Reward Sheet
  7. Summer Bucket List
  8. Measurement Tracker

Hope this printable helps you achieve your goals. Please Pin and Share away! If you use them, I'd love to see pictures. Tag me or leave a message so I can see! 

These are just for personal use though, not intended to be sold or distributed. The logos belong to Tone it Up.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Vegan Roadie at Work

So, my workplace had the honor of hosting the Vegan Roadie for cooking demonstrations today. He was a contestant in the "Brand with 10 Grand" promotional contest that we ran, and so we invited him to make a stop here on his tour. It's kinda cool how it turned out that way!

The presentation was short and sweet, but Dustin Harder has a great personality that kept us engaged and laughing. With him and his assistants being show people, their personalities were animated and entertaining.

His recipes du jour were Vegan Caesar Salad and Bowties in Garlic Cream Sauce. They were both very delicious! And they looked pretty easy to prepare. I'm no vegan, but I do enjoy many a meat- and dairy-less meal during the week, so I can definitely appreciate having some new recipes in my standard rotation. Dustin had a strong bent for chemical-less ingredients, i.e. clean ingredients. Real food. I'm always down with that!

Bowties in Garlic Cream Sauce

Vegan Caesar Salad

Have you ever tried nutritional yeast before? I actually do have some on-hand at home because it's actually has a great nutrition profile (excellent source of complete protein) and a really great cheese substitute. That was the main base of the "Parmesan" dressing and it had the same consistency and cheesy taste as parm. It's a great salad, popcorn and casserole topping. You should try it! It's not that hard to find in the store. I got mine at a nutrition supplement store, but they sell it right by the Parmesan cheese at the regular grocery store.

Thanks for stopping in on your way through Dustin!

By the way, check out his fun video entry into our contest here!