Blog Life

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…

(continue reading…)

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…)

My Current Thoughts & Ponderings: Grand Canyon Edition

Philip and I haven’t even been back from our vacation to the Grand Canyon a week yet and I’m already wishing we could go back. Heck, I wanted to go back as soon as we stepped on the plane to come home. Guys, it was seriously that amazing and that much fun!

I didn’t even realize hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list until Philip mentioned 6-ish months ago that he kind of wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. After looking into it more, I realized if we were going to do the Grand Canyon, we were going to do the Grand Canyon. If there’s an adventure and challenge to be had, you better believe I’m signing up for it.

So, that’s what led us to signing up for a packaged trip through Arizona Outback Adventures and it was the best decision we could have made. If you decide to go on any trip in the Arizona area, I highly recommend using their services. I’m not getting paid to tell you this, we just truly had an awesome experience with them. Our two guides were fun and gave us just the right mix of freedom and guidance we needed. All the planning was pretty much taken care of and even though we were hiking, I swear they had everything and anything we could possibly need – from tape for preventing blisters to nail clippers to ear plugs. This definitely wasn’t their first rodeo!

I could go on and on about our trip, but I thought I’d do another episode of “My Current Thoughts and Ponderings,” all things related to our trip.

During our trip, I was… (continue reading…)

My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…

Hey there! Welcome to another work week…with (more) snow! What?! I had no idea we were in for more snow until yesterday at church when a friend mentioned about the upcoming snow storm. I looked at my weather app (if you don’t have Dark Sky, you should!) and yep, sure enough, snow was in the forecast.

So here I am, like a typical Midwesterner, talking about the weather (sorry, it’s just what we do, I guess!). I don’t have any new recipes for you today since lately we’ve been enjoying some old favorites (last night we had one of my most popular recipes on here: Smoked Gouda and Roasted Red Pepper Tomato-Basil Bisque. Gosh, it does not disappoint! Philip said it was like we were eating at a restaurant. If you haven’t had it, I’m telling you, you must give it a try this week. It’s so simple to put together, too.

Anyway, instead of a typical blog post with a recipe, I thought I’d just share with you some of my current thoughts, wonderings, ponderings…should be interesting, huh? :)

Right now I’m…  (continue reading…)

A Thanksgiving to Remember

If you’re coming into this week with slightly tighter fitting pants, I hope your hearts are at least a little bit fuller as well. This past week Philip and I packed up and headed to Iowa to spend a few quality days with my family; I left feeling thankful and blessed for be a part of such a wonderful, loving family.

img_7388

Even though we were only there for about three days, we were able to fit in a lot of fun! I may be biased, but my niece (who is turning 5 this week) and my nephew (who’s 2) may be some of the cutest kids ever. They thought of all kinds of games for Uncle Philip and Aunt Kara to play and it was so much fun. From games to books to tea parties to running around, we certainly were not left “bored” for long. :)

(continue reading…)

Kitchen Updates: Round Two (We Painted Our Cabinets!)

Man, it sure feels good to be back! Hi, all! It’s been a hot minute since I last dropped in…actually, after looking back, it’s been about a month (!), which I’m not really sure how time flew past that quickly. I didn’t fully intend to leave you hanging for that long, but we’ve been doing lots of fun things (successfully fulfilling my year of fun) and also have been extremely busy (as you may have guessed from the title of this post)!

img_6691

With fall here and routines and schedules back in place, I may try to get to posting more regularly around here. Although, it certainly has been feeling a lot like summer this past weekend. I don’t know how to react. I’m sitting outside as I type this in shorts and a t-shirt, however, inside I have a pumpkin spice candle going and a basket of freshly picked apples on the counter…I’m still clinging on to summer, yet am so ready for all things fall at the same time.

Anyway, let me fill you in on our fun summer adventures before getting to what I’m most excited to share…because these kitchen cabinets were a labor of love! Emphasis on the labor part of that sentence. :)  (continue reading…)

Currently…

IMG_6100
Hello, hello!! Don’t worry, I’m still here! Sorry for the crickets you’ve been hearing lately from me over here in my corner of the blogging world. Two words: It’s summer! I have no excuse other than the fact that, well, summer is here, the weather has been gorgeous, and I just want to be outside!

For those of you who live in the Midwest, you know that we have to take the nice days while we can get them! I’m still not to the point where I’m willing to take these nice days for granted.

In all honesty, life has just been busy! For some reason, I always think that with summer should come back laid back evenings sitting out on the porch and free weekends to enjoy downtown Madison or long bike rides with my hubby. While we have been able to do all of those things (for which I’m very grateful), I feel like their occurrences are few and far between and our days definitely haven’t slowed down any! Plus, what’s with all this #adulting that gets in the way of these fun activities? Shouldn’t that just kind of come to a halt during the summer, too? If only that were the case…

IMG_6017

That said, it’s still another gorgeous day today, so I’m only popping in to say hello and to tell you that I will be back! I’m still cooking up some delicious meals (I’ll be sharing some of them soon!), Philip isn’t starving, and I’m not abandoning my loyal readers. Unlike the past two summers, though, (how have I been doing this blog for more than two years already?!) this summer I’m freeing myself of the guilt if I happen to not post in a week — or, gasp, even two weeks. And you know what? I’m absolutely loving it.

Since I work full time during the week (and on Saturdays a couple times a month), Sundays are my “blogging day.” While this usually works, it makes it hard/stressful when we have had a busy weekend or the weather is nice and Philip and I are itching to get out for a long bike ride (we’re doing the Door County Century Ride in September, so we need to really kick it into gear. Eek!) or any other activity that sounds fun on a Sunday afternoon. Basically, I’ve decided I have too many hobbies. What a problem to have, right? So this summer, I’m living up my Word of the YearFun — and taking it outside to join the rest of Madison.

Let me fill you in on what’s currently been filling up our time…The month of May, in particular, seemed to go by especially fast (as I feel is always the case for people). Two weekends ago Philip and I took the opportunity to go on a marriage retreat, which was wonderful. The retreat was in Madison, so for a date night, we headed to State Street and ate at Fresco, a rooftop restaurant and lounge that serves excellent, fresh and contemporary fare. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend making a reservation and checking it out! The ambiance is great, the food and drink flavorful, and the views are incredible.

IMG_6047

After our meal, we walked along State Street to the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union to enjoy an evening on the Terrace with cups of ice cream from Babcock Ice Cream Shop. Everybody else seemed to have the same idea and the 20 minute wait for the ice cream was totally worth it. This is also a must-try if you find yourself in the Madison area!

IMG_6070

IMG_6079

Memorial Day weekend was also a great one — my parents were in town! Our house we moved into a year and a half ago, while it has a spacious backyard, had no trees of any kind in it (it used to be a field like almost every other newer development in our area) and the previous owners never bothered to plant any, so we took it upon ourselves to create some shade and privacy…with my parents’ help. :) Parents are the best aren’t they? A week later, the Autumn Blaze Maple and the two pines we planted are still standing and looking green, so we have our hopes up. ;)

IMG_3575

This is my dad. Isn’t he the cutest?

IMG_3572

IMG_3589

IMG_3593

IMG_3604

IMG_3611

IMG_3619

IMG_3613

IMG_3621

Red Rover, Red Rover? We’re capturing what our trees look like now…let’s hope we can see a difference in a couple years from now. :)

Besides the planting, we visited Wollersheim Winery and enjoyed the great weather with my parents, met up with friends, and biked to (and through) the UW Arboretum and enjoyed a simple picnic on our extra day off on Monday. And it was all lovely. I wish every weekend was a three day weekend!

IMG_6105

Whew, and that was just the weekend! The weeks and weekends ahead look just as busy and fun and I absolutely can’t wait. I’ll keep checking in, giving you updates on my #yearoffun, and sharing some of our favorite summer recipes! Thanks for reading (I truly appreciate it, whether you loyally read every post or are just stopping by for the first time). What are your summer plans and adventures ahead? I’d love to hear!

A Marathon to Remember

IMG_5957

Welcome to another work week, everyone! It’s the start of our second week back from vacation and I’m happy to say I’m feeling a little more prepared for this Monday than I was last week. Whew, coming back from vacation is tough! 

In all honesty, it felt good to be back to a routine and our normal schedule, back into our own surroundings and comforts of home. Coming from an extremely small town (we’re talking school class size of 60 people, folks), I never thought I’d think of Madison, Wisconsin, as being calm or small. But after a week of being in downtown Boston and D.C., it definitely felt a little closer to home for me. All the people, hustle and bustle, and the activity was fun and exciting (for a week), but it made me that much more appreciative of my five minute commute to work and relatively easy-to-find parking in all areas of the city.

Let’s talk about our trip, shall we? Our first leg of the trip was to Boston so I could run the Boston Marathon (yippee!). What an amazing experience! It’s one I’ll never forget. The day before the race you could literally feel the excitement within the city. People were gathering from all over the world to run this race and it was so much fun to be a part of it all. Everyone I talked to said it’s the best race they’ve ever run and they always want to come back for it if they can. I had to almost pinch myself just to remind myself I was running the Boston Marathon, because in a way, it kind of felt like any other race in a large city. But the overall excitement from the city alone with store fronts and billboards decked out for the race helped me to remember it was so much more than just any race.

IMG_3411

After checking out the large Expo and getting my official Boston Marathon jacket on Sunday, we were able to do some sightseeing with my cousin and his daughter. We logged a total of about 9 miles of walking on Sunday…perhaps not the best choice for the day before a marathon, but it was fun to explore the city and soak it all in. I had good intentions of seeing more sights after the race on Monday, but sitting and relaxing felt a lot more enjoyable post-race than I initially thought. :)

IMG_5826

Monday was finally race day! After seven months of waiting, it was finally here! It was an absolutely gorgeous day. While slightly warmer than I would have liked (the warmest I had trained in was 40 degree weather, so the sunny, 65 degrees felt downright hot), it made for a relatively enjoyable day that brought tons of crowds out for it.

The journey out to Hopkinton, the small town we start in, was a ride that took, what felt like, an eternity. We loaded onto one of the many school buses and since I don’t run with my phone, I had nothing to do but sit and look out the window…and realize I was going to have to run this whole distance back. May I suggest never to drive the course you’re going to be running. Because you then realize just how crazy you are for thinking running 26 miles is a good idea. And just how far that distance actually is.

IMG_5910

(continue reading…)

What I Ate Today

Remember way back last year (2015 seems so long ago now, don’t you think?!) when my husband graciously tracked what he ate for a day and took pictures of everything for my series of “What I Ate Today?” And remember how I said I’d be doing it next? Well, thankfully I never said when I’d be doing it next, because it’s been…awhile. I finally remembered to set my camera out on the kitchen table as a reminder, and committed to track what I ate last Monday. So here’s what my Monday looked like:  (continue reading…)