Weekly Food Prep

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I've been feeling very inspired by food lately. It's goes in fits and starts. Right now I'm on a roll. It's nothing fancy, it's really just more about the motivation and groove to get everything prepared for the week on the weekend.

This week's work menu looks like this:


Breakfast: 1 carton Greek yogurt and egg whites with mushroom/onion saute
Lunch: Texas caviar
Snack: Cucumber salad and 2 hardboiled eggs.


When it comes to work food, I need FAST. I have a 7yo and a little baby at home. Sundays are spent at church and grocery shopping, then food prep. In between all that are naps and crabby times. If the food isn't fast, it won't get made and I may just lose interest. I also tend to want clean food. I find that if I prep for the week, I eat so much cleaner than if I just wing it. This week, I was also able to incorporate some farmer's market finds as well as a few ingredients from my own backyard garden, which is always a plus.

Here are two quick informal recipes for my Texas caviar and cucumber salad:

Texas Caviar: Mix 1 can diced tomatoes (or dice your own) with 2 cans rinsed black beans, 1 can rinsed sweet corn and 1/2 small chopped onion. Serve with avocado over the top.  Add whatever spices you think sound good. I didn't add any, but cilantro, chili powder and Italian dressing are some good options. You might also like to eat this inside a whole wheat tortilla.




Cool Cumber Salad: You've seen this recipe before, I'm sure. Here's what I did: Mix 3 medium sliced cucumber with 1 large chopped tomato and 1/2 small chopped onion. Make a dressing with 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1 Tbsp olive oil and mix well with the salad.




I was able to prep all my food in an hour, including cleanup. My little girl was underfoot most of the time and I did a lot of stirring with her on my hip. I had multiple things going at one time. While I was prepping the salads, my onions and mushrooms were sauteing in a pan and my eggs were boiling. So doable, right?

Dinners are one trip to Noodles and Co (which just opened in my town!!!), a cookout, easy Parmesan chicken, a pork roast with veggies, a simple ground turkey/veggie skillet and leftovers.

What kinds of things do you like to prep for the week? Are you interested in seeing more of my weekly menus?

A Trip to the Trampoline Park

Monday, August 24, 2015

My little boy turned 7 at the end of July (what now?!?! Ha!). Instead of a party, we treated him to a special day at a new trampoline park with one of his good friends from school. I didn't even realize we had one of these parks in the area, but I'm sure glad we found it! I've been seeing trampoline parks on Pinterest and Instagram and thought how we'd love to try one, but we're always the last place to get these kinds of things.

The boys played for an hour while Hubster and I each enjoyed a half-hour while the other was taking care of Rayna. I'm so glad we did! We had tons of fun ourselves. And holy workout! I didn't realize how sweaty I would get! We jumped, we raced, we played games and we all played like kids.


Not only did the park have tons of trampolines, they also had trampoline basketball, trampoline dodgeball, a slackline and foam pits. They had a huge pillow thing you could jump into off a diving board. And they had a climbing wall for only $1 extra.






When I asked if he had a good birthday, Kayne replied: "A good birthday? I had an awesome birthday!"

Before


 And After




After jumping, we treated the kiddos to pizza and treated Kayne to some of the best cupcakes in town. All in all, I'd say it was a successful celebration of our boys' birth. Love that kid!

**If you have a trampoline park near you, do give it a try!!! It's the most fun we've all had in awhile, and it's a really great workout!

A Drum Circle Experience

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

There's a little bit of hippie in me and every once in awhile it comes out in a free-spirited blend of essential oils, a backyard tepee, a flowy bohemian skirt, or a community drum circle.

This past week, Kayne and I participated in our local drum circle. He had experimented with drumming at the farmer's market and was willing to give the drum circle a try. Plus, I like to treat him to special one-on-one time when I can, and this was a great opportunity to do that. I've always thought he might enjoy something like this.




The drum circle was set up at a park in town instead of their normal headquarters in a nondescript storefront. The outdoor setting had a nice nature/community/open air element to it. Passersby would stop to watch and passing kids were handed maracas and other noise-makers to try.



I love what it says on their website: "Rhythm is universal. It is inside and all around us. From our heartbeat to the cycles of the seasons, it is more a matter of opening ourselves up to remembering and feeling than a music lesson...Using creativity we all possess we will make beautiful music 'in the moment.'"

Drum circles are really both a physical and emotional experience. I've been trying to incorporate more spiritual and mental fitness into my life, and I think drum circles encapsulate a whole bunch of wellness practices:

1. It's a community builder and great social activity. You're meeting people and you're all working together to build something pleasant. A drum circle is a very open group of people.
2. It's a practice in mindfulness. One of the frontline treatments for my anxiety-related issues is mindfulness. Meditation not only lowers your threshold for stress, but it also helps you live in the present and let worrisome thoughts pass on by. It may sound a bit new-agey, but it's really grounding. And it's really effective. It sounds too simple to be very effective, but it is profound!
3. It's creative.
4. It's physical and gets me out of my head, where I spend too much time ruminating and analyzing.
5. It's therapeutic. There are studies about the use of drum circles, and music in general, as an effective form of therapy.
6. The being outside part is also therapeutic.

Bottom line: I'm kinda hooked!


So now, when I'm at work, you might find me listening to drum circles on YouTube which sort of produces calm energy and helps with my concentration. It's like the musical rhythm gets me into a good work rhythm too. Ok, hippie moment over...

Washington Island Trip: Part Two

Thursday, July 30, 2015

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.



Quick Note

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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.





Farmer's Market Kale Salad

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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

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


Toppings
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)


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


Directions
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?