Our Europe Trip in Pictures: Part 2

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Time for Round Two of my two part series highlighting our recent trip to Europe. If you missed it, I talked about our first half of our trip to Italy in this post. But today, it’s time for Greece!! To be honest, we spent the majority of our time planning and thinking about Italy, while Greece kind of became a second thought. I’m not really sure why, because Greece was just as lovely. And, more importantly, had just as good of food. :) I actually liked how we went about planning for this two week trip of ours. We did enough planning to have a rough itinerary made up and to have all of our transportation figured out ahead of time, but what made up our activities for several of the days, we decided on the spot and didn’t get stressed out about seeing all the things!

In Greece, we spent a short bit of time in Athens and then concluded our trip with a relaxing few days in Santorini, one of the most popular and beautiful Greek islands. It was the perfect way to cap off our time in Europe.

I suppose we might as well start the slideshow ;)…A recap of our time in Greece:  (continue reading…)

Our Europe Trip in Pictures: Part 1

We’re back, we’re back, we’re back!! First of all, this trip was absolutely incredible and amazing and something I’ll remember for a lifetime (for those of you who don’t know, we traveled to various parts of Italy and Greece for two weeks in October). That said, it feels so good to be back! It’s weird how that happens…while the food was absolutely divine and I wanted to take it all home with me, at the same time I was still ready to have my own, familiar food again (I’m looking at you, peanut butter…I may have gotten peanut butter confiscated from my bag not once, but twice by TSA in the airports…it never hurts to try. :)). And while we had gorgeous views in all of our Airbnbs (I mean, really, does waking up to a view of the Mediterranean or the Parthenon ever get old?), my own bed that overlooks, well, our backyard and our neighbor’s back porch light that they insist on turning on for the entire night (not that I’m bitter about this at all) never felt better! Oh, and having fast wi-fi and being able to communicate with people were also small perks of being back on U.S. soil.

So, where do I even start! First, our itinerary: We were gone a total of 14 days, visited 2 countries, and stayed in 4 cities/towns. All of our travel was either by plane, bus, or train…We saw a lot of public transportation on this trip, to say the least. :) Thankfully, it’s super easy to get around in Europe by these modes of transportation and our hours of planning ahead of time made all of these connections as hassle-free as possible. Renting a car and attempting to drive while there looked like an absolute nightmare. Eek!

Days 1–6: Exploring Pisa/Florence/Tuscany
Days 7–9: Relaxing in the Amalfi Coast in Italy (Praiano and Positano to be exact)
Days 10–11: Sightseeing around Athens, Greece
Days: 12–14: Relaxing and soaking up our last days of vacation in Santorini, Greece, one of the Greek islands

Ready for picture overload? Here’s what we saw in Italy (Greece coming soon!): (continue reading…)

My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…

Somehow it’s already the last week of September. Someone please tell me…how did this happen?! If my absence from my blog didn’t clue you in, September was a crazy busy month for us! All fun stuff, but crazy nonetheless. Our September started with a trip to Colorado (I know! We’ve been so fortunate to be able to go visit twice in one summer), a triathlon here, a bike tour ride there, and a few other fall events scattered in between. And if I thought September flew by, I’m afraid October will fly by just as fast…most likely faster. Let’s just say, I’ll be out of my office at work for three straight weeks. Whee! So, to find out what we’ll be doing and where we’ll be going, be sure to follow along with me on Instagram for all of our upcoming adventures. So, so excited you guys!

In the meantime, let’s find out what I’ve been doing already in the month of September. I promise recipes from my kitchen will again happen once life settles down a tinge (I mean, does it really ever settle down? I’m not so sure anymore…), but for now, I thought I’d share with you another round of my current thoughts and ponderings (sorry in advance for the picture overload!). Enjoy!
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Summer Veggie-Millet Burger

I know, I know, I’m going to come right out and say that this recipe probably isn’t going to be for everyone (re: my dad, any burger purist, or any meat lover who needs meat on his/her plate for it to even be considered a meal). Well, this burger has no meat and is definitely branching out when it comes to the definition of a “burger.”

BUT, for everyone else out there who is holding on to these last summer days and flavors and who has summer veggies piling up on your counter and in your refrigerator right now, this recipe is PERFECT! Philip and I are in our second year of having a CSA share (community supported agriculture) through Ridgeland Harvest and we love having such a great variety of organic, local produce around in the summer. It branches us out from what we typically gravitate towards when shopping for vegetables in the winter and the taste can’t be beat.

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4 Years of Marriage & A Trip to Chicago

Urban, hip, trendy, cool. These all describe the lifestyle of Chicago. And I am decidedly…not. Haha.

Philip and I recently celebrated our four year (four years?!) anniversary on August 10th and, to celebrate, made the short trip down to Chicago for a mini two-day getaway. We attempted to fit in with the “hip” 20’s- and 30’s-somethings young professionals—and I’d like to say we succeeded—with a $15 drink in hand and all. ;) It’s always fun to pretend sometimes, right? But safe to say, downtown Chicago is not going to be a place we call home anytime soon. But to visit? Oh yes, we’ll be back. Today I’m filling you in on the highlights. I would highly recommend all the places we went and stayed at!

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of our anniversary, if you’re interested or like sappy things like wedding stories, you can read here about how we met, or here about our one year anniversary (ironically enough, also included a trip to the Chicago area) and what we learned in that one year of marriage, or here and here about our two year anniversary. Guess I missed our 3 year! ;)

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When Eating Homemade isn’t Possible

Talk about a gorgeous weekend, right?! I think this past weekend may have made it into the top 5 nicest weekends all summer. Sunny, no humidity, and warm temps made it the perfect weekend to get outside.

We’ve had family visiting/moving into town and a friend in town, so we’ve hit up all the favorite spots like Concerts on the Square, the Memorial Union Terrace for the famous Babcock ice cream, and our annual trip to the American Players Theatre. Between all of that, I managed to soak in even more of the sun with a run around the lake on Saturday morning. You just can’t beat these views!

Sunday was low-key, but I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon stationed out on our porch, searching for cooking classes for our upcoming trip to Italy. I’m pretty much giddy with excitement now just thinking about the one I eventually discovered and booked. Seriously, if only that could be my kitchen and dining room in real life… Our trip is so close I can almost taste the olive oil and wine now! ;)

With all these outdoor activities this past weekend, we’ve been loving our summer picnic meals that we’ve taken along to the events. Our latest CSA box gave us pretty much a whole plant of basil. Which immediately got made into a whole bunch of pesto! It’s come in handy on these picnics—fresh bakery bread topped with pesto, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella has been so, so good. (Think we’re ready for Italy or what?!)

On this blog, I showcase all the tasty meals and food I make at home, including the pesto I just made. Inadvertently, it may portray the false impression that I make everything “from scratch.” With a busy life, I’d love to spend my days in the kitchen making homemade bread and everything in between, but in reality, work and my other hobbies (ahem, running around the lake takes some time… ;)), keep me from doing that. I’m sharing with you today my perspective on how to find a balance in the busy lives we all lead. Enjoy!  (continue reading…)

My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…

I don’t know about you, but I feel like summer is whizzing by. But I also feel like this summer has been living up to all of its potential. You know when you have those summers when you do almost zero of the fun, little things you had planned or wanted to do that makes summer, well, summer? (My hand is up and waving high on that one!)

We all have the “big ticket” items like going on a vacation or two, but why do the small things tend to get so easily pushed aside? Things like going to a farmer’s market, star gazing, or having friends over for a barbecue.

But this summer—the summer of 2017—has been full of the “small ticket” items for Philip and me! Or maybe I’ve just finally accepted that I’m not going to get to every little thing in one summer, but am instead appreciating all the things that we have been able to do. Whatever the reason, I’ve been loving the star gazing (or in the case from Saturday night, watching the distant lightning), the fire pits and s’mores, and the evening walks around the neighborhood.

Of course, there’s so much more than just those things going on in our summer, so I thought I’d bring back another post of my current thoughts and ponderings. :)

Right now I’m…

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Three Weekends of Work Only Leads to More Work: Landscaping Project 2017

I woke up on Saturday morning and mumbled to Philip, “I’m glad we could sleep in this morning.” It was 6:30 a.m.

Even though we were road tripping across Iowa this past weekend, dancing the night away at a friend’s wedding, reminiscing about childhood memories in my hometown (I hadn’t been back since we got married four years ago!), and touring around Okoboji—one of the biggest tourist towns in Iowa—if you can believe it, it was a much more relaxing weekend than we’ve had the previous three weeks.

That’s because for most of the weekends in June, we took on—what seems like—our annual landscaping project. Every summer since we’ve moved into our house, we’ve taken on some level of landscaping project to slowly transform our yard into something we enjoy spending time in. I think we’re almost there!

I’ll give you a recap: (continue reading…)

Grilled Blackberry BBQ Pork Chops

Hello again! Summer is well underway and I’ve been trying to soak up as many summer moments as I can. Philip and I have an ongoing “wish list” of some summer activities we’d love to be able to do right here in Madison, including nights on the terrace, the farmers’ market, Concerts on the Square, and sitting under the stars with a fire pit and s’mores (in our driveway, but we’ll ignore that part ;)) just to name a few.

While we haven’t gotten to those things yet, we definitely have been staying busy: From our weekly Sunday morning bike rides (they’ve kind of become “our thing” and I’m so excited we started doing them at the beginning of the summer rather than the end, which is so often the case when you stumble across a good thing) to picking strawberries at a local strawberry farm and doing plenty of updates to our landscape (more of that to come!).

It’s been a good mix of fun and work and all things outside. With so much going on and my desire to be outside more than inside these days, when I’m making dinner for us in the summer months, I want it to be quick to make and preferably one we can cook outside. Double bonus if it includes produce that’s in season and bursting with fresh flavor. These Grilled Blackberry BBQ Pork Chops cover all of the requirements!

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Family Time from Colorado to Iowa

Phew! It’s been a whirlwind the past two weeks! Somehow May has come and went, Memorial Day was celebrated, and now we’re already well into June. Hello, Summer!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that Philip and I have been doing some traveling lately. Besides our Grand Canyon trip (which seems like months ago already, unfortunately), we got back on a plane just a few weeks after that to head to Denver, Colorado, for Memorial Day weekend and to see Philip’s siblings. We arrived home from Colorado last Tuesday and by Friday we were already hitting the road again to head to Iowa to spend time with my side of the family. It’s been an awesome way to start off the summer, to say the least!

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