Friday, October 10, 2014

A new take on pizza

Pi, pie, slice, za. However you refer to it, pizza is delish.

It can come in any endless variety--thick crust, thin, hand-tossed, wood-fired or baked. Maybe you prefer yours loaded with meat or heaped with veggies. Whether it's traditional or gourmet, there is no shortage of option for the ever-loving pizza. 

Our family recently took a short road trip to an establishment where they served wood-fired pizza right on the farm. It was a beautiful drive from the La Crosse area, up Hwy. 35, through Fountain City. From there you wound your way down a winding country road, up and down beautiful lush valleys. The destination is a family-owned farm where they serve pizza on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the summer. 

We read on the website to bring your own chairs or blankets to have a proper picnic-style dinner. I packed some juice and water, snacks and veggies, plates and utensils and we were set! The kids grabbed a spot on the lawn near the swing set. We ordered our Za at the window, we were pizza numbers 65 and 66. They were currently working their way through the thirties. We settled onto the blanket as the kids ran and played, with the many other kids and families who were relaxing nearby. Somehow our beer seemed to taste better out in the open, the smells of campfire and pizza ever present. Our wait didn't seem so long, without having to contain kids and make them sit. Within about 45 minutes we had our two pizzas and sat down to enjoy! The kids devoured a cheese pizza, and we enjoyed ours with beautiful heirloom tomatoes and a touch of bacon and basil. Not too shabby for a Friday night! 

I had packed the fixin's to make s'mores, and the farm provided the sticks and the fire pit. We didn't even have to bribe our kids to finish their food to get dessert! Our drive home was relaxing and everyone fell into bed more than happy! Next summer if you find yourself with a free Thursday or Friday evening, might I recommend packing up a picnic basket with some goodies and a blanket and heading to Suncrest Gardens outside of Fountain City. It might not be great for the waistline, but it sure is wonderful for the soul!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wrestling with technology

Technology, good or bad? Helpful or not? 

I think my answer to this is simple, when working properly and used in moderation, technology can be a wonderful and enhancing addition to our everyday lives. However, there is always the evil flip side to this scenario. 

Often times technology seems to operate and go about it's merry way, not behaving the way we want or need it to! Think about all the computer gadgets now in our vehicles and the constant updates, upgrades, notifications we receive on our computers. We have a home equipped with some "smart" technology. Our heating and cooling system is run via an iPad in the wall. Looks neat, until it isn't working properly. I have spent more time on the phone with repair people and can practically call them friends for how frequently they've needed to come "fix" things. My husband swears our next home will be equipped with the bare bones and less technology is better. 

I have to say, it is nice to have fun music at my fingertips, a car that cools to my desired temperature, the ability to see loved ones face to face, even when they live thousands of miles away. Most of the conveniences we live with would be very difficult to give up. Today I am grateful that we have an alarm on our freezer when the door is left open, even if the beeping is truly annoying! It saved us a lot of money not having to replace those waffles and ice cream! 

There is always the constant battle in our home with our children and technology. They are so accustomed to electronics--iPads, Tv's, smart phones, digital cameras and so on. We have to monitor their frequency and what type of sites they are visiting. If given the chance, our son would love nothing more than an uninterrupted day spent playing MineCraft on the iPad. Rules are constantly in place so this won't happen, but it really is a battle! So to live in relative peace with the technology that is such a part of our lives, I must keep chanting the mantra use in moderation, and if broken, be nice to your repair guy/gal, they may be your new best friend!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Breakfast saver

Ok all of you parents who have sent your kids back to school, can I get a yee-haw? It's a bittersweet time for sure, for some more sweet than bitter or vice versa. But now you may find yourself deep in the throws of the morning chaos. If you are a well-oiled machine in the morning, you need not read on, but for those of us who could use some help or assistance, I have been introduced to a wonderful new breakfast option that may save you some time during the a.m. rush.

I am borrowing these recipes from a wonderful blog site called The Yummy Life. The blogger, Monica Matheny, has some wonderful tips and recipes, she's well worth checking out when you get an opportunity. 

My new go-to breakfast is an overnight, no-cook refrigerator oatmeal. You will need a Mason jar with a lid and a great imagination! I found some awesome rubber Bell jars with lids at Menards, but I'm sure they can be found in various other stores. This is packed with nutrition and makes for a great grab and go option if need be. You simply fill the jar about with about a half cup of old fashioned oats, not the quick or steel cut variety. Pour a bit of milk over the top, any kind will do. Then add greek yogurt, I love the plain Chobani, around a half a cup, but add more or less to your liking. Then simply fill in the rest with whatever concoction sounds good to you! Yesterday I mixed raspberries and a bit of vanilla extract. The second jar had blueberries and maple syrup. The last jar I used almonds, honey and some cinnamon. Then you simply shake or mix well, cover and set in the refrigerator to enjoy in the morning! The oatmeal soaks up the liquid and you have a wonderful, hearty breakfast. My kids each picked a flavor that they liked and devoured it! It's such a great thing to prepare the night before and know that one extra step is complete for the morning.

Share your favorite recipe, there are so many to try! Enjoy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Water. We all need it, we've all heard the eight cups a day rule. Some days this is easier to "swallow" than others.

My sister religiously carries a water bottle with her everywhere, she gets her minimum requirement and then some each and every day. My parents, especially my dad, get their water intake through just about anything else besides water! We have been after him for years to drink more water.

A great way to start your morning is with a nice glass as soon as you wake up. It hydrates you and helps you face the day, even before your coffee or breakfast drink of choice. Why not start off with a cup and be ahead of the game?

I recently discovered the magic of a water pitcher with a diffuser through the middle. It allows you to flavor your water with anything you like and change the flavor as often as you want. Brilliant! Today's flavor happens to be blueberry and basil, fresh picked from my pots in the backyard! It's refreshing and keeps tempting me to drink more! I've experimented with many flavor combinations, some we have enjoyed better than others. Cucumber, watermelon, pineapple, peach, lemon, lime, mint, orange, all have been sampled throughout the summer. I'm thinking about trying lavender next. Really there is no right or wrong, just change your ingredients every few days and enjoy!

Sounds silly, but water is so important to keeping us healthy and if you can swap out a glass or two of water in place of a sugary drink or soda, it's a win win! Now I have to get to work to convince my dad of this practice. Maybe I haven't hit upon the right flavor, just gives me motivation to keep trying. Water, who knew it could be so fun?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another chapter ends

Well it is truly that time of year again, when the days are getting a bit shorter and the kids a bit antsier. 

That's right, the end of summer is just around the corner. Sprinklers will be jumped through just a few more times, Kool-Aid and lemonade stands will be flipping their closed signs over until next season. Soon the days of sleeping in and staying up late will be over, replaced by frantic mornings rushing out to catch buses and race into school. All over the city parents are checking their back-to-school lists and checking them twice. 

It seems that this summer was on super warp speed for some reason. I think it had something to do with the weather, and summer arriving so late after such a rainy spring. Then when it hit, it hit with a force and it continued on at a frantic pace. About a week ago I was lamenting the fact that I would be sending my kids back to school so soon, and I wasn't ready. 

Then another week went by, and the whining seemed to amp up to an almost unbearable level, and suddenly, school cannot start soon enough! I'm sure I'm not the only parent feeling this way! Kids are tired of the same old same old, and I'm ready for some routine to enter back into our lives. Brains need to be challenged and bedtime routines reestablished once more. Now I would feel so much better if those dang school lists were complete. Can anyone tell me where I can find the elusive skinny dry-erase markers? 

Ah summer, you will be sorely missed. Come back soon, and thanks for all of the wonderful memories.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Refreshed in the North

As the summer slowly slipped from July to August, our family closed
the chapter on yet another week-long family tradition.

We spent the week up at a lake cabin near the Hayward area. While no vacation could ever be "perfect" this was a much-needed escape and came close to reaching this title. We spent the week on a glorious lake with fantastic weather nearly every day. 

Some very close friends of ours were just across the bay with their three kids. Our families are close, and our kids get along swimmingly! They played hide and seek in the dark, sat by a campfire, roasted countless s'mores, fished and swam daily and just generally enjoyed each others' company. 

By having their companions to play with, the adults were able to enjoy some conversation and down time. We didn't solve any critical world issues, but we didn't even try! We too enjoyed our companions and the scenery of the great outdoors. Even our dogs romped with abandon and ran to their hearts' content. 

The only down side was the week came to far too abrupt an end. Why don't these moments stretch on a bit longer? Why does a hot dog taste so much better roasted over an open flame? Why is the sound of your kids' laughter like music as they bounce across the water on an inner tube? Like I said, it wasn't perfect. The gnat bites along my leg are evidence of that, but that was so worth it! So we came back a bit lighter, a bit more refreshed, even if we are scratching and itchy for the next few days! 

So until the great north woods beckons again, we have some wonderful new memories to carry us forward.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Seeking balance

As I approach the horizon to middle age, I sit and ponder my life. 

Using the Balance Your 7 website is a nice guide. What areas can I improve on, where do I find I have strengths? I know that overall I am a pretty happy, relatively "balanced" person. My mind could certainly be sharper, and I could foster my sense of community and spirituality a bit more, but I have decided to focus on work for this particular blog. 

As a college student and early twenty-something person I always envisioned myself working in a fast-paced environment, with lots of travel and new experiences. I did get the opportunity to work like this for many years, but then along came baby number one, and my corporate days were over. I never imagined myself as a stay-at-home mom, but now I have a hard time thinking of doing anything else! I consider myself very fortunate to be able to stay home and be with my kids, shuttling them to and fro. Lately though, I'm getting a severe itch to go back to the workforce. The problem is, I'm not sure into what capacity this would be! My skills are all rusty, and buried under so much dust, I'm not sure they exist any longer! So I've decided to write my ultimate job description and see if anyone is "hiring" Here goes:

Enthusiastic, well-seasoned individual seeks challenging new role in life. Job must include travel to wonderful locales, opportunity to sample the cuisine and tons of shopping. Willing to sacrifice some weekends. Will write about my experiences and shop for clients upon request. Can start immediately.