Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pesto-Peach Chicken Salad Wrap

Who doesn't like peaches? The question is how do you cook with them?

Pesto-Peach Chicken Salad Wrap
serves 4
(recipe found in Fitness Magazine July/August 2011)
Great way to use up basil!
3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1 1/4 pounds peaches, pitted and cubed
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
4 large red-leaf lettuce leaves, spines removed and sliced in half
4 10-inch whole-grain wraps

1. Put the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. While processor is running, pour in lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water; add the oil and continue processing until a paste forms. Mix the chicken, peaches and celery in a large bowl; add the pesto and toss to coat.

2. Place 2 lettuce leaves in the middle of each wrap and top with 1 cup of the chicken mixture. Wrap tightly, cut in half and serve.

Karl's reaction: "This little wrap is quite tasty. Are there peaches in here!?!? This is good stuff."

My take: Yummy goodness here. I will be making this again!

Cherry Bomb Smoothie

Refreshing and hydrating and full of nutrients in one glass

Cherry Bomb
(recipe found in Women's Health July/August 2011)

Blend 3/4 cup frozen cherries
1 kiwi, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup coconut water
3/4 tsp agave nectar
and 3 ice cubes

Karl's reaction: "Is there spices in this? Why is my throat so itchy? I think you put spices in here!"

My take: I put two kiwis in the mix instead of one and they overpowered a little bit (probably why Karl's throat felt itchy) but I loved it!
Ingredients for the Cherry Bomb

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thirsty? Two of my favorite cocktails of the month

Summer is hot and it's time to cool off
I couldn't only pick wine this month. I know... What can I say, summer has been HOT (at least the past couple of weeks) and I have two favorite drinks of choice for the month of July. See below.

Moosehead Light Lime and Riesling
Last month I was craving red wine. This month I'm totally digging white. The reason I like Great Loop Mosel Riesling is it's not as sweet as your usual Riesling. It actually has a little bit of a sour (probably the wrong word) aftertaste, which I love. The wine distributor said it's because the wine was made with 30 percent of the grapes past harvest (meaning some of them had mold on them and looked ugly) but the juice is special. Yes it is!! Go on out and by yourself a bottle. We got ours at Marketplace Liquors in Savage where there is FREE wine tasting every Friday and Saturday (yeah!).

Also one of my new wino friends and favorite 'pourer' at Marketplace told me about this amazing wine guide and now I'm telling you. A must buy for all you tasters and wine lovers out there - De Long's Wine Tasting Notebook.

My second favorite beverage right now is Moosehead with lots of limes. I have always been a fan of Miller Chill, until they made it all light and similar to Bud Light Lime. Moosehead is different and tastes exceptionally well in a frosty mug. So go out and by yourself some of that too!!!

Enjoy! What are you drinking this summer?

Rhubarb Cake

What can I make with rhubarb?

You're not alone if you find yourself asking the above question. I ask myself this all the time in the summer especially after I leave my grandparents with a brown bag filled to the brim with fresh rhubarb. Have no fear, Karl and I have found more than one use. We currently have rhubarb wine racked, homemade jelly waiting to be canned and the best cake you'll ever eat!

And in honor of my 100th blog post, I thought what better way to celebrate than make my mom's rhubarb recipe and post it for all of you to make and enjoy? I mean, rhubarb is healthy, right? According to, one cup of rhubarb supplies 105 mg of calcium, which is about 10 percent of the 1,000 mg of calcium average adults need in their daily diet. Read more here.

My mom also swears she found this recipe in the Rockford Register Star back in the day, but isn't sure.

Rhubarb Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together:
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
1 tsp vanilla

Pour into a 9 x 13 pan.

Topping: Sprinkle 1/4 to 1 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts).

Bake for 35-40 minutes and cool. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

Second day: still delicious!
Karl's reaction: "You know. I've seen you cook but I've never seen you bake, babe." *timer goes off and hubs digs in.* "Oh man...this is good. I need another piece. Yum. Mmmmm. The cinnamon and nuts on top is so good. I need more of this deliciousness."

WooHoo! I can bake!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Feeling stuck or running out of luck?

Time to brush off the muck!

I knew I should have been a rapper or a song writer after that awesome title. Can't you just hear the beats now? No? Alrighty-o...

I had a bad week. And, yes, I do have bad weeks as smiley and bubbly as I may appear. We all have those, right? The thing is I really shouldn't be having a bad week. I'm healthy. I have a job. The bills are paid on time. My husband is amazing. So yeah, I really don't have a concrete reason for mine. And usually I can turn around from a bad day faster than most people. All it takes is jumping on the stair stepper or running a few miles to feel like my old self.

I mean, three weeks earlier my mom did put our amazing family dog, Pete, down. Am I still grieving? Possibly. But then I spent a great Fourth of July with my family and my husband. We took a day off work and spent a wonderful day with my grandparents (they even played KUBB with us...yes, my 84-year-old grandpa and my grandma played a lawn game). How could I be down about that?

My Gramps playing KUBB (he's gonna be 84 in a couple months)
I can't totally tell if I'm still grieving, missing my family or feeling plain ol' stuck in life. I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

I was to the breaking point this week of desperately wanting to get in my car and drive, with no plans, no directions - just drive - never looking back. (Of course I'd have to pick up Karl on the way.) I don't even know why I felt the way I did, other than to say my days felt like I was living in a dark hole.

Yikes, right?

My Grams taking us girls all the way! Our victory dance.
Do you ever feel like this though? Kind of like you have this energy inside of you surging through your veins mixed with this intense light burning, dying to get out, but nothing is happening.

Maybe you keep trying and keep working really hard and continue to juggle everything that comes your way, and you keep going through the motions and keep pushing yourself further than you'd imagine and still...nothing.

Then the worst part of it all is waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. Waiting makes room for self-doubt, poor judgement, fear and questions. Is this how life will be for me? Continuous pushing and juggling? Will I have to keep working so hard forever? Or is this dream of mine not supposed to happen and I'm being warned? Does God have other plans for me?

And then, the icing on the cake: sometimes you watch as people walk into a room, bat their eyelashes and get everything. What gives?

Does this every happen to you? Maybe you feel like you're going through the motions, wondering when that magical moment will happen. Maybe you're stuck in a dead-end job, struggling to make ends meet. Maybe you're looking for more, but aren't exactly sure what that "more" is. Or you know exactly what it is you want, but it's just not happening. Why?

I think we've all been there. I think we all hit moments in our lives where we feel stuck. We lose our sense of purpose. We question everything. And we feel trapped. Maybe we can't live our life the way we want due to our lists of never ending "grownup" responsibilities. Maybe we let fear take over. Maybe we just don't know what it is we're supposed to be anymore.

Well, guess what? Last night as I waited for Karl to return from Duluth, I picked up one of my many magazines (Ladies' Home Journal). I had time to flip through each page and read whatever articles I wanted. And there on page 39 was an article I swore was written just for me. It was called, "Get Lucky - You have to be in the right place at the right time - and the good news is, you're already there."

Well, well, well. What the heck have I been moping around for? Maybe instead of looking at the glass half full, I've been looking at it half empty this whole time. In short, my attitude sucked. It was time for a reality check and change.

Two points the article brought out:

"There's truth to the adage 'You make your own luck.'"


"Lucky people assume that momentary failure is merely a pothole on the road to success."

That's it! I had fallen in a pothole! Duh. Maybe I felt like I was wearing a straight jacket because I was looking down instead of up. For heaven's sake, when we keep our heads down, we miss opportunities and seek answers and direction in the dark. But if we look up, we would see the light and all the tools we need to climb out of the hole.

So today, I brush off all the muck and crud and start climbing until I reach that dream of mine - the dream I feel so strongly inside of me.

As the article says, "Call it intuition, a sixth sense or a hunch - those flashes of insight are shortcuts to your true feelings... There's a difference between being intuitive and being impulsive. If you want to get lucky, sometimes you just have to go with your gut."

My gut tells me I want to be a writer. And it's going to happen. But I have to give it time and, yes, I'm going to have to keep working at it. The journey won't be an easy one - there will be more potholes, but I can't give up on it, or myself and go against what I feel so strongly inside. That feeling is there for a reason and I need to listen to it.

But at the same time, I need to live life to the full to see all the opportunities and possibilities waiting for me. And they aren't waiting for me in a pothole, that's for sure!

Not only that but a few pages further in the magazine was another article about a woman who lost her three beautiful a second. Her life changed FOREVER. As I choked back tears and sobs after reading and hanging on to her each word, her one point drove everything home for me.

"Before the accident I'd look around my house and wish we could move someplace bigger. I'd worry about money and think about all the things I wanted my girls to have. It shouldn't have taken a tragedy like this to get me to finally understand: Things don't matter. They can be replaced. But before the girls died, I didn't realize just how much I could really lose."

For that I say, start digging yourself out of that hole and get lucky before life passes you by! Even the small successes are victories.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Corn and Quinoa Salad with Chicken Sausage

A tasty, healthy summer meal
serves 4
(recipe found in Fitness Magazine, July/August 2011)
Corn and Quinoa Salad with Chicken Sausage

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces spicy chicken sausage, cut into chunks (I used Jennie-O turkey sausage)
1 medium onion, diced
1 large or 2 small zucchini, diced
2 1/2 cups corn kernels (about 4 ears)
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Put the quinoa and chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. While quinoa cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate. Add another tablespoon of oil to pan, then add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and corn and cook about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender-firm.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, remaining oil, cumin, salt and black pepper. Add quinoa, sausage, corn-zucchini mixture and bell pepper mix. Chill in the refrigerator at last 30 minutes or up to two days. When ready to serve, stir in parsley.

Note: We ate immediately (hot) and it was still delicious!

Karl's reaction: "Ohhhh, this is refreshing. Slightly sweet. I'm just going to help myself to some seconds."

My take: I will so be making this again. Yum!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where's a Good Place to Write?

Do you have a special place you like to write?
For me, writing takes place in our dining/family room of our town home. (Yes, the walls are very bright but keep in mind Minnesota is very dark during the winter months. I need something to keep me going during the evil, cold seasons.) It's not the most ideal place but it does the trick.

My goal for us is to one day buy a house with a nice backyard, an apple tree, a wrap-around porch, a ginormous garden area, a wooded area and enough room in the house where I can have an entire office area (with a huge window) to myself. I wouldn't mind a little creek trickling in the backyard either...

Where I write in our home
Does that seem like too much to ask? Ha!

For now I must settle on sharing a "creative" room with my hubs. He does have his own man cave, but since April, his special man room is packed with boxes and stuff from his town home (our buyers close on that July 29 and we'll be down to one town home). So I can't say he spends a ton of time down there since there isn't much room.

Another goal is to spend more time in coffee shops during the day writing, but that's a challenge with a 30+ minute commute, a full-time Marketing career and a busy lifestyle. I love people watching, but it also distracts me from writing. I guess it's better I stick with writing at home.

So I'm going to go with option #1 and I'll let you know when I get there. 

Where are you writing right now? If money wasn't an issue, where would you like to write? 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Skewers

Drop the takeout menu and make this Chinese delight on the grill
serves 4
(recipe found in Women's Health July/August 2011)
Chicken Skewers and Sweet Potatoes on the grill! Perfect summer recipe!

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into large chunks
2 cups large pineapple chunks, drained (fresh tastes awesome!)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 medium red onions, cut into large chunks
2 red bell peppers, cut into large chunks
8 wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes
Salt and black pepper
3 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp vinegar (rice wine or cider)
1 tsp sriracha hot sauce
Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Thread chicken, veggies, and fruit onto skewers, alternating chicken, zucchini, pineapple, onion, and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

2. In a mixing bowl, stir together maple syrup, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and sriracha. Set aside half the glaze in a separate container; brush the rest onto the skewered food.

3. Grill until lightly charred and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Then use a clean brush to coat with extra sauce. Top with cilantro, if desired.

Karl's reaction: "Didn't we just have skewers last week? Oh, wait...the pineapples are really good!"

My take: I liked this because it had a punch to it. And I knew it was healthy. All the chopping takes a bit, but I left the grilling up to Karl and he said that was a bit of a pain. Oopsy! We had sweet potatoes for the side and an awesome spinach salad. More to come on those...

Karl grilling on our small baby grill!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tex-Mex Twist

Beef Stir-Fry with Avocado Salad
serves 4
(recipe found in Fitness Magazine May 2011 and is Anna Berman's recipe)

Beef Stir-Fry with Avocado Salad

12 ounces beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 TBS plus 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 poblano, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup Cojita cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup cilantro plus more for garnish, chopped
Corn tortillas

1. In a bowl, combine beef, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 tablespoon chili powder; set aside
2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, bell pepper and poblano and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add beef and marinade to vegetables and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
4. In another bowl, combine beans, avocado, cheese, 1/4 cup cilantro and remaining lime juice and chili powder.
5. Garnish beef and vegetables with remaining cilantro. Serve with avocado salad and warmed tortillas if desired.

Karl's reaction: "Ooooooooooo, I like this a lot!" *nods head* "Mmmmmmm. Scrumptious, babe!"

My take: One of my all-time favorites! I loved the avocado salad. I could eat that every day!!!

Avocado Salad (seriously GOOD)

Lots of flavor in the beef tenderloin - yum!