My Second Home

 

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For me, trees and water have always been a part of my soul.  The mountains, although glorious with their regal peaks and lush valleys, made me feel something completely different – almost as if being in the mountains sparked one side of my brain while old oak trees with outstretched branches and warm, running water tapped into another part of my brain.  Both places I consider home, but in different ways.

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I spent my first week back in the midwest rediscovering some of my favorite places.  The first, High Cliff State Park.  This park is the first place I camped, the first area where I scaled abandoned quarry walls, and the first place I can remember getting lost staring at sunsets over this lake. Two of my closest friends got married here and my (girl) soul mate and I swam under the stars here.  High Cliff and I go way back.

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Next, a few pals and I walked around downtown.  This is an area of town that is always changing, always buzzing.  There are many small gift shops, bakeries, restaurants, bars, and even a record store.  It’s an area that is the perfect size – it offers enough change so you don’t get bored but still host regular items so you know what to expect.

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And I of course had to walk around a park along the Fox River.  There is a magnificent dock at Lutz Park where families come to try their luck at catching Sunfish or Perch.  There were also many baby birds waddling about and trying to keep up with their parents as they swam from island to island.

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It’s a wonderful place to kick back and take in the sights and sounds of local wildlife.

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Even though I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything, sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here anymore – I simply just grew up here.  I’ll ask myself, “What am I doing?” and fear of the unknown sets in.  But then I remind myself that life always has a funny way of making everything make sense eventually.  No matter how dim things seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  At the end of the day, home is what I make it out to be.  Maybe I haven’t discovered where my physical home is yet, but Wisconsin will always be my “Second Home,” no matter where I end up.

I Wrote a Poem

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Goodbye Colorado
I love your mountains, your lifestyle.
I did not love the ghetto apartment.

Goodbye Doe
You ran in front of my car, now you are dead.
That was your own fault.

Goodbye Car
Front end smashed, insurance calls you totaled.
You deserved better.

Hello Wisconsin
I am excited to hug family, to be home.
I am not excited for the creepy crawlies.

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham {Slow-Cooker}

Colorado never ceases to amaze me.  It’s May and we’re still getting snow.  Well, we got inches of snow last weekend, but still… SNOW!  In MAY!  What happened to Spring?

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Oh well, before you know it the sun comes out and melts everything away.  Plus, snow is an excuse for me to dust off the ol’ crock pot and make something that is warm and makes the entire house smell like awesome.

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Like these scalloped potatoes for example.  Oh my yum.  These are hot, cheesy, and the perfect amount of salty from the ham.  Just… drool-worthy.  I burnt the roof of my mouth because I couldn’t wait to get this into my mouth.

Totally worth it.

Snow and scalloped potatoes… who needs Spring?  Okay I do.  But for now, I have these flowers.
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Scalloped Potatoes and Ham {Slow-Cooker}

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Yields: 6-8 servings

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham {Slow-Cooker}

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1-1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (NOT extra-sharp cheddar)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups diced thick-cut ham, cooked

Directions

  1. Fold a sheet of parchment paper into a 3-inch strip and place inside perimeter of slow-cooker insert. Lightly spray parchment paper with cooking spray. This will prevent the potatoes around the edge of the cooker from burning. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons cream in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave until the edges of potatoes are translucent, 6-8n minutes, shaking bowl (without moving plastic) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking.
  2. Whisk broth and cornstarch in large liquid measuring cup until smooth. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth mixture, remaining cream, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, add cheeses, whisking until smooth. Add ham and combine.
  3. Pour half of sauce into slow-cooker insert. Arrange potatoes in even layer over sauce and pour remaining sauce over potatoes. Cover and cook on low until potatoes are tender, 5-6 hours. Let cool 20 minutes. Remove parchment and serve.
http://foodiemcbooty.com/scalloped-potatoes-and-ham-slow-cooker/

Chasing the Cheese

As M. Scott Peck said, “Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

After long and careful consideration, I have decided to pack up my things and head back home to Wisconsin to spend time with family.  I fear that I do not have very much time left to see and help my grandparents, so this is that time.

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It took me a long time to come to this conclusion.  There are many reasons why I love Colorado – the job opportunities, the sunny, mild winters, the gorgeous mountains and the lifestyle.  I will miss all of these things, but I will miss my friends, who are like family, even more.

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These crazy kids extended a hand and made me feel like I was one of the gang.  We had some wild nights at company softball games and chill days at BBQs in the park.  We’ve hiked for miles and stumbled out of bars. These are the type of friends you will have for a lifetime.  You guys are absolutely the hardest part about leaving.

A special thank you for making my last day/weekend at my job something I will never forget.  The weekend was chock full of celebratory drinks and stories with co-workers, an amazing seafoodfest (lobster tails, blue crab, gulf shrimp, clams, crayfish, etc.) hosted by one of the kindest, coolest, and most generous couples we know, 6-inches of snow, and we even kick started American Craft Beer Week at some of north Denver’s breweries.

May 2015 Weekend It was a weekend fit for a queen.  I’d love to do it all over again, but alas, I’m now tasked with packing, planning, and taking steps to get started with this new chapter of my life.  T-minus 19 days!

Wow, thinking about that gives me total anxiety… time to get busy!

 

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