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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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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…)

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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