Life

My daily adventures

What You Need To Prepare For A Blizzard

Winter storm Jonas is on its way! Here’s what you need to survive.

A good book (or two).

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Board games.

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Your favorite crock pot recipes. Here are mine.

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Jugs of water (mostly for you but also for your goat if you have one).

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All in all, it’s a snow day/weekend. Enjoy it!

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Be safe!

Why I Love Brown Rice Pasta (And You Should, Too!)

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Before I start confession my love for brown rice pasta, let me first admit something. I try my best to live a healthier lifestyle, so transitioning to brown rice pasta seemed natural to me. However, I do not like all healthy pastas. I will never get used to the taste of whole wheat pasta and quinoa pasta doesn’t have the same texture that I expect when I eat an al dente noodle. But brown rice pasta has changed my opinion about healthier pastas.

I first tried brown rice pasta over a year ago. Sodium-Free, Wheat-Free, Cholesterol-Free, Gluten-Free… sounds terrible doesn’t it? I was hesitant but my curiosity still got the best of me. I was completely surprised! I couldn’t believe how much this stuff tasted like normal pasta! Plus, it had the same CHEW as regular flour pasta. The best part? You can eat your fill, go back for seconds (or thirds), and feel way less guilty than if you had done that with normal pasta.

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BRP also wins my vote when it comes to ingredients. I’m a strong advocate for being able to pronounce everything on the package of whatever I’m about to eat. Most brands of brown rice pasta have two ingredients listed on the package: brown rice and water. Amazing!

The only caveat I have is that you have to be careful not to overcook this pasta. Check the pasta multiple times when the cooking time is almost up. When it is ready, strain into a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Reheat the pasta by adding it directly into your pasta sauce and tossing everything together.

If you are afraid to try one many pasta inventions that are being created these days, trust me when I say that brown rice pasta is worth a try.

Try brown rice pasta with my Mouth-Watering Marinara Sauce.

Questions about brown rice pasta or anything else? Ask me!

She Was Transfixed

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It’s storming tonight. I absolutely love night storms. I love the energy, the sound, and how surreal (and ominous at times) the night sky looks. Here’s hoping I will find some time to cook something soon, but until then, here is a poetry ditty.

She was transfixed
by the thunder and lighting in the night sky.
She was fascinated
at how the earth soaked up the relentless rain.
Yet the chaos of everything was somehow comforting.
Although alone, she felt whole.
She felt complete.
She loved how the rain made the morning lush and green.
And how the storm made everything
grow so beautifully.
Perhaps when it stops raining,
she will learn to do the same.

The Umbrella – A Creative Piece (Part II)

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(This is a continuation of The Umbrella – Part I)

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I trudged over dune after dune for what felt like an eternity when I finally saw something along the horizon. As I dragged my blistered and sunburned body toward the tiny spec in the distance, I came to realize that the tiny spec I was looking at was a house. A house, in the middle of the desert? Whatever. That’s where the lion’s tracks lead to and that’s where I was going. I had to get out of the heat.

The sun had begun setting by the time I reached the house’s entrance. The house looked like it had been abandoned for decades. What little paint that remained was peeling and fluttered in the breeze. The house’s windows were all broken or cracked, with the exception of one window above the garage. I walked up the porch steps, each one creaking under my steps, and reached for the front door’s handle. I turned the doorknob and the door violently swung open. Suddenly sand and dust whipped passed me into the home. The house was sucking me in, like a blackhole.

I used the door frame to push away from the vortex as hard as I could but I knew immediately that I was outmatched. I took a deep breathe and let go, entering the whirlpool, knowing this could be the last breath I ever take.

It wasn’t. Once inside of the door I heard nothing – complete silence. I waited a moment before building up enough nerve to open my eyes. I gasped. I was underwater. I gulped some air into my lungs and held my breath again. I held that air in my lungs for as long as possible, but my lungs began to burn and I had to take a breath. I choked and gasped for air. I could breath! Underwater. I took a deep breath. Yep, I was breathing!

I looked around. I was bobbing up and down in the middle of turquoise-colored water. I could see the surface above me, dusk’s light twinkling into the water. I moved in that direction. As I swam toward the surface, a school of fish circled around me and swam away, following the water’s current. A jellyfish came by and scooted within arm’s length of me and I swear a sea turtle nodded at me as if to say, “Sup bro.”

What the hell kind of drug did I take?

I reached the water’s surface and realized that I was near an island. I swam toward one of the sandy beaches. When I reached the island’s edge, I was exhausted. I laid on the warm sand and caught my breath. As I laid on my back watching the palm trees sway back and forth, I heard it. I heard the lion roar. That little bugger was HERE! I quickly remembered what brought me on this journey in the first place and jumped to my feet, heading in the direction the roar came from.

I dug my feet into the sandy floor and ran as fast as I could. I knew I wasn’t far behind. I was gaining on him. Little did I realize, I was only gaining on him because he had stopped.

I ran into a clearing and there he was, sitting in the distance. I slowed to a stop and observed for a moment. The lion’s golden fur swayed as he reached down and picked up the umbrella, which was now open. He stuck the umbrella into the ground so it stood straight up and slowly backed away. I realized then that there was another creature now in the shade of the umbrella, a lion cub.

I cautiously approached the lion family. When I was a few feet away, the large lion turned and looked at me then returned his gaze to the little lion cub who stretched and settled back into her nap. I stood next to the lion and watched. The scene was so peaceful. After the chaos of everything else, I felt serenity. As if by reflex, I leaned into the lion and he supported my weight. I could feel him breathe. In and out his body rose and fell, and with each breath I felt sleepier and sleepier. Exhaustion set in and before I knew it everything turned black.

I came to at my house, not in my bed, but at my front door, keys dangling in my hand. I looked down, I had my work bag around me. How did I get here? Was I here the entire time? I opened my door and stepped inside. I was home and honestly, that’s all I cared about.

So that’s my story. I had an umbrella, a lion stole it from me, and I experienced something that nobody will ever believe, but I know the truth.

The Umbrella – A Creative Piece

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I can’t believe I made it back. I feel like it’s been so long since I was home, let alone sat in front of a computer. I feel like I was only away for a few minutes but I think I was away for much longer. Days? Weeks? Months? I’m not even sure. Time is confusing on the other side. Let me start at the beginning.

It was a beautiful August morning. The air was clean and crisp and smelled of dewy earth and sweet sunshine. The birds were happily chirping their morning greetings and there was just enough breeze to gently dry my freshly washed hair. I readied myself for work, grabbing an umbrella because the weatherman’s forecast predicted a chance of rain. I started along my commute when I noticed a large animal sauntering near the highway’s onramp. I slowed my vehicle to take a look at the creature. Holy donuts! The gentle giant was an AFRICAN LION! Seriously, like straight from the Lion King-type of lion.

(queue the Circle of Life song)

I immediately got out of my car (I forgot to put it into park so it ended up going into a ditch and spontaneously combusting, but that’s a story for another day) and bravely approached the lion. I was so curious! I was so lost in my thoughts that before I knew it, I was face-to-face with the beast. The lion stopped walking and sat in front of me. It’s head loomed above mine and I could feel it’s warm breath move my hair. I was taken aback from its beauty. The lion’s golden fur looked surprising soft and it’s main was fluffy and groomed. I wanted to touch him. I slowly reached out my hand and watched how he responded to me. He touched his big snout to my out-stretched palm and sniffed my hand. Stunned and afraid to move, I didn’t give any resistance when he grabbed the umbrella from under my arm, leaped up, and started running toward the woods nearby.

“Come back here, you!” I managed to yell and without a second thought, I ran into the woods after him.

I don’t remember what happened after that exactly. I do remember running for a long time, long enough that my lungs and muscles burned. I remember seeing flashes of his golden fur and followed as best as I could, but he was always ahead of me. Before I knew it, everything around me became hazy. The beams of light that fell through the treetops started flickering, almost as if the sun was dancing across the forest floor. I looked down at my hands and they appeared almost transparent, fading in and out right in front of my eyes. I felt the ground beneath my feet shift somehow and when I looked up, I was surround by vast dunes of sand. The lush forest I had just been in was gone and I found myself in a desert.

Describing this sandy abyss as, “hot,” is an understatement. I was immediately drenched in sweat (although all of the running didn’t help with that either). I had to find shade – quickly! I looked around. Where the hell did that damn lion go with my umbrella? I spotted large tracks in the sand and headed in that direction, unsure of what I would find next.

To be continued…

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.

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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These Crazy Cravings of Mine

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Sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy… There are moments in my life when all I can think about is food.  My job, my bills, my personal hygiene do not matter.  I know that doesn’t come as a surprise to most of you who know me, but these moments are different.  These are times where nothing else matters except my urge to satisfy my cravings.  It’s like an overwhelming appetite for one particular thing that I can’t shake.  I turn into an absolute CRAVE MONSTER!

Sometimes I crave chocolate.  Sometimes I crave carbs.  Other times I crave nothing but crunchy textures – which is probably weird but it happens often.  These days I have a strong hankering for anything with cheese in it (not the powdered cheese, the real stuff!)

It’s weird that sometimes when I do give in and try to satisfy my cravings with a slice of chocolate cake or macaroni and cheese, my craving does not go away immediately.  You would think that since I satisfied whatever urge it is I had, that it would vanish as soon as I ate whatever it is I had been craving.  But that is not always the case.  Does this happen to you too?

What foods do you crave most often?

Dream Dinner Destination

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Imagine a dreamscape…

I have always been drawn to travel-heavy careers. To have the ability to fly to a new location and experience new people, new cultures, new sights, sounds and tastes AND get paid for it would be an absolute dream come true.

It’s an adventure, and sometimes adventures have consequences.

Including security lines, bag checks, and delayed flights.

Reality check: I don’t have one of those jobs.  I have a desk job where I sit on my butt most of the day sending emails to other people sitting at their desks. Sometimes I don’t even take a break.  Terrible right?

#FirstWorldProblems

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I feel fortunate that I made it out of the United States in my teens.  I was lucky enough to have enough common sense to join my high school music department and visit Australia.  In retrospect I should have taken advantage of more of those group trips.  I should have also studied abroad while I had the chance.  Travel is just so much more expensive for me now – someone who is just trying to scrape by with her bills and somehow still plan for the future.

Oh the places I would go…

I have to admit, the more exotic the destination the better for me.  I want to visit the cliff dwellings of Cappadocia.  I want to feel the wacky, weird energy of Japan’s nightlife.  I want to trek around the volcanic ice caves of Antarctica.  I’m fascinated by all this world has to offer.  I am a tiny speck on this huge rock and I’m ready to explore. I want to visit a place that few people think about going to.

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I would love to taste meals in rural Thailand – sweet, sour, bitter, and savory, all in one bite.  I want to sit on a patio in France and eat freshly baked pastries and sip espresso for an entire afternoon.  I would love to enjoy a warm meal under the lights of the Northern Sky (I can’t even imagine the logistics behind something like this, but a girl can dream!)

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I am even willing to put my American mind aside to try local “delicacies,” (use your imagination here). I’ve learned to be a better “yes” person more than a “no” person, especially on vacations. I don’t want ignorance to get in the way of experience. I realize that will be easier said than done when I’m faced with trying a plateful of insects, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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Who knows where I will end up.  When I am in a foreign country, I am usually at the mercy of my hotel’s front desk clerk.  GPS and internet can be expensive commodities to come by when traveling outside of the United States.  I imagine the language barrier could be a challenge as well.  Perhaps finding restaurants that use translation software before you leave the states ahead of time could help.  It never hurts to ask a few locals about their favorite places to eat or visit too.

What about you? Where do you want to go if money were no option?  Is there a place you feel like nobody else wants to visit but you?  Are there any foods you wouldn’t try?

Thanks for visiting and happy travels!

Our Latest Addition

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Meet Benny (well, her full name is Crazy Orange Curly Lola Bennigan, but we call her Benny for short).  She is our rescue kitty, delivered to our door step.

Allow me to explain.

One morning I woke up to a text saying, “Is that cat still outside?”  Half-awake and bewildered, I opened the front door and faced the bitter cold to find an orange stray cat, curled up in a ball and shivering on the stairs of our apartment building.

Someone was kind enough to put out some water for her.  Mister put out some food for her as well.  I gave her a towel and said hello and proceeded to get ready to go to work.

Time-lapse to 9 hours later…

I returned from a long day at the office to find the cat, in the same position, water and food untouched.  The poor thing was either too cold to do anything or too scared.

So I brought the little’un inside the safety of our porch.  I consulted my inner kid and built her a warm, cozy kitty fort, to shelter her from the cold and snow, until I could figure out what to do with her.  She started doing things like this, so how could we say no to this curly little furball?

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After a few trips to the vet and posting multiple Craigslist articles to find her original owners, we decided that she is now our very happy (and warm) fluffball.  Look at those big paws!

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So anyway, this is Benny and even when she’s not waking us up to feed her, or being a spaz, we’re happy she is a part of our cozy family.

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