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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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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…)

Family Cooking Class + 5 Ingredient Chicken Enchilada-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

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Hey there, everyone! Were you getting worried I wasn’t going to show up in the New Year? ;) Well, whether you were concerned or not, never fear, it just took me a while to get back in the groove of things after an amazing holiday with family. I ended out my #yearoffun with one last trip of the year to Denver to be with my husband’s family. It was so much fun—our days were filled with hikes, a brewery tour, a whiskey tour (while interesting to learn the process of making a good batch of whiskey, I’ve decided whiskey just isn’t for me :)), and lots of good family time to bring in the New Year!

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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.

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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. :)

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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)!

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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…)

Garlic-Parmesan Hasselback Zucchini + Adventures from Wisconsin to Colorado

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How is it already over half way through July?! I feel like a broken record saying this, but summer is seriously flying by. I feel like I need to catch you up a bit on what we’ve been doing the past few weeks as it’s been awhile since I posted. Where to start…we’ve been doing a lot, hence the lack of posts coming your way lately.

Over the 4th of July weekend, we took our main summer vacation to Colorado to spend time with Philip’s family. We crammed in as much as we could during that short, extended weekend! And boy, did we live up our #yearoffun on that trip! So many good memories were made.

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Currently…

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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…

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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.

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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!

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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. ;)

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This is my dad. Isn’t he the cutest?

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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!

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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!

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…)

The Start of a New Year + Trunk Club Review

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Can you believe we’re already a few days into the new year?! 2016 — how did that happen?! So far, my new year is off to a fun start. I’ve unofficially declared fun as my word of the year. I think after spending so much time working on our new house for the first half of last year and being injured for the other half, I’m ready to get outside, be adventurous, and just enjoy myself this year…well, as much as I can without completely ignoring the fact that I have a full-time job and am trying to be a responsible adult.

With only four days in, I’d have to say 2016 is looking up! Philip and I had a quiet New Year’s Day that I absolutely loved. It included a little productivity with plenty of relaxation. I was able to join the rest of them at the gym and go for a swim in the morning, clean the house after all the Christmas decorations had come down (while sad to see them go, it’s nice to have all the pine needles gone and things back in order), get groceries, and do laundry all with plenty of daylight left to relax and enjoy the day. That doesn’t happen very often ever and I can’t tell you how happy it made me feel to start the New Year that way.

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With chores checked off our list, Philip and I tested out our new snowshoes on snow covered trails right outside our house and cozied up on the couch to sip on tea and read with the afternoon sun streaming in through the windows. It’s the simple pleasures in the life, right? And yes, this is what I call fun:)

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All of our resting up on Friday prepared us for a fun early-birthday trip to Chicago for Philip on Saturday! I loved taking it all in — the hustle and bustle of people walking up and down the streets with shopping bags in hand, the lights, restaurants, and store fronts.

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