This Grand Adventure: Chelsa-Bea

August 19, 2014

Idaho Adventure - Part 1

And just like that, I’m back to blogging. While I had every intention of posting last week, after getting back from our 10 day vacation it seemed I needed a week, plus a little more, to just recover and find my normal.

A few weeks ago, we headed back to Idaho to spend the week at my family’s lake house (which we fondly call “the cabin”) in the wonderful and quaint town of McCall, Idaho. McCall is my favorite place on earth. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I’ve been coming here since I was born and it holds some of my dearest and important memories. Most importantly, it’s the place my parents got married and then, four years ago, my husband and also said “I do”.

The house is only equipped for summer living and we share it with all of my second and third cousins. We each get a block of weeks that shift every year, so we all get to enjoy the best weeks. Our days in McCall are filled to the brim. Whether we're swimming, biking, hiking, fishing, cooking or just lounging around, there's not a day in McCall, from sun up to sun down, that isn't fully taken advantage of.

I've surprised myself this year. I've realize that the longer I'm away from Idaho and my family the more I've begun to miss them. When we left, I knew it was time to get away and explore what the world had to offer. But five years out, I'm finding myself missing home more than ever. I'm missing the mountains, the terrain, the dry summer heat and long summer days. But most of all I miss my family and the simplicity and ease that comes from being with them. Even after all this time away, when I'm with them it all just feels so familiar, like nothing has changed. It's hard living so far away and while I love the Midwest and everything it's brought me, each time I leave Idaho it seems to get harder and harder. I don't think I realized how much I needed this trip. I'm not sure if Idaho is where we'll end up down the road and, if it is, when we'll get to be there again but this trip was just what I needed to refuel mind and my soul.

^^^Mornings at the cabin begin in PJ’s gathered around the large wooden table in the kitchen. Coffee, tea and the day’s breakfast special are shared with all the cabin’s inhabitants. After filling ourselves with huckleberry pancakes, Dutch Babies or biscuits and gravy and discussing today’s plans, we graduate to our bathing suits and move outside to begin the days adventures.^^^

^^^My Dad and I made a quick jaunt to the Farmer's Market one Saturday morning to pick up some treats. I loved seeing this Market bustling with tourists and locals filling their baskets with local goods. Vendors come from as far away as 100 miles (remember, Idaho is rural) to sell items like wild salmon, bison meat and delicious homemade huckleberry jam.^^^

^^^A favorite store front at a great local boutique.^^^

^^^Dinner preparations begin early evening in the large kitchen with various parties pitching in their skills to chop, marinade or bake whatever tonight’s meal will be. Dinners are served late here with everyone chipping in something. We set the table (either inside or out), choose the wine, fill the water glasses and make sure we’ve counted the right number of plates for the night’s meal.^^^

^^^Apricot and huckleberry galette, courtesy of my Mama Smith. She rolled the entire dough by hand since we are short on fancy kitchen appliances at the cabin. If you haven't rolled pastry dough by hand in awhile, let me tell you, it's no easy feat.^^^

^^^The best days in McCall end with a bonfire on the beach, too much good beer (but not for me) and lots and lots of laughs.^^^

Stay tuned for more Part 2 of our Idaho Adventure later this week!

July 30, 2014

A Little Bump-Date

Oh man, how is it already July 30th? I feel like I blinked and this month was over. It’s been one very busy but exciting time around here. Since I haven’t talked at all about this baby except for mentioning that I was expecting, I figured I would give you a little insight into my pregnancy thus far.

My first trimester felt like the longest couple months of my life. Outside of a few early pregnancy symptoms, I never felt “pregnant” until about week six when I experienced my first bout of morning sickness. Fortunately, mine wasn’t completely debilitating like it has been for some of my friends. I just felt sort of icky all the time and while I didn’t really feel like eating much, not eating made me feel a whole lot worse. So, I ate a lot of whole-wheat saltines, cottage cheese and Rice Krispy’s. About once a week I would crave something super specific like turkey sandwiches, mashed potatoes or marinara sauce. I would eat it every day for a few days and then, all of a sudden, it would be the most vile thing on earth. I couldn’t see, smell or think about. Fortunately, most of those food aversions are gone now and I’m back to eating a regular diet. Except for Indian Food, which I was an avid fan and a regular consumer of until this baby. I can’t be near it, let alone talk about it, without feeling like I might loose my lunch. Ugh. I may not proof read that sentence before I publish it for fear of making myself sick.

Outside of food aversions the first trimester, I can’t begin to tell you how exhausted I was. I may or may not have found myself napping in my car a time or two on my lunch breaks just to get through the day. Fortunately, once I hit about week 11 the fog I felt I was walking through lifted. While I’m still slightly more tired than I used to be, getting a regular eight hours of sleep and slipping in the occasional nap has really helped me to stay functional.

The second trimester has been good to me. I’ve regained most of my energy and overall I’m feeling pretty awesome. After taking off a few weeks from barre and running in May and June, due to serious fatigue and just feeling overall awful, I’ve been back, with a few modifications, to a pretty regular work out routine. I haven’t had any crazy cravings but I definitely prefer some foods to others. Tomato based foods like bolognese, salsa and tomato sandwiches have been some of my favorites. I’m also a big fan of fresh fruit, French fries, all Mexican food, pretty much anything French or Italian and doughnuts. So, basically nothing has changed in my diet. Ha!

This pregnancy has been a pretty remarkable experience so far. I will admit that the first trimester was a bit terrifying. While I was overjoyed to be pregnant, I never anticipated the overwhelming fear that I felt once I found out. I just kept looking at my belly and thinking, “Stay in there! Stay in there!” It took me a solid two weeks after the pregnancy was confirmed to talk myself off the fear ledge and realize I just had to enjoy this experience and let what was going to happen, happen. But I still never felt quite comfortable. My husband, mom and doctor are extraordinary human beings. When I had questions, just needed to talk it out or felt like the fear was consuming me, they were all incredibly supportive and kept me sane during those first couple months.

I’m not sure it’s really hit me that there’s a tiny person growing in my belly yet. But every time I hear the heart beat or think about seeing the baby move during the ultrasound I get a big smile on my face and it feels a little more real. My bump is still tiny but growing daily and I think once it finally “pops” and I feel those first few kicks, it’ll truly feel like I’m brining my own little one into this world.

July 17, 2014

Guest Post: Creating A Functional Storage Space

It's moving week at our house, so I'm literally surrounded by boxes and bins and crates stacked four feet high. The movers come bright and early tomorrow morning and before the weekend's over we'll be completely moved in to our new home. I'm excited and completely overwhelmed currently and trying to keep up with the pace of moving while also taking care of myself (ie. I just woke up from a three hour nap that I decided to take on the floor of current apartment). 

I know I owe you a million updates on life, travel, this growing baby bump and on entering the last 3 months of my 30 before 30 but those things will have to wait for another day. In the mean time, my friend Stephanie over at Monkey Bar Storage Solutions has written this helpful little guest blog post in honor of our move on creating function storage space. I hope you enjoy and I'll see you soon!

The phrase, “a functional storage space,” sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Most of us who have a storage space in our homes jam the area so full of stuff until that finding those holiday decorations is so hard that you’d rather just go buy new ones. And if you have a functional space in your home, why would you use it as a storage space? If you did, it would quickly become unusable. Right? Wrong! Use these tips to help create a functional storage space in your home that will actually end up saving you money. (Yes, it’s actually possible.)

Start by weeding out the junk. I know, I know, “But Stephanie, this is supposed to make my life easier.” It will! If you want a functional storage space, then you need to weed out the “junk” that is holding you back from that. Try making a piles. Categorize items into piles of junk to throw away, stuff to keep, and things to donate. If this process is too painful to do by yourself, consider hiring a professional organizer to speed things up. If you’d like to make a few bucks off this storage room transformation, sell unused items in a garage or yard sale.

Now is the time to determine your needs. Are you wanting a storage area that will let you access items quickly? Do you have a lot of long-term storage items? Author of this blog, Chelsea, told me that she has a lot of decorations and bikes that need to be stored. Once you determine your needs, look for storage systems that are customized to your needs. For Chelsea, a bike rack would help her store her bikes up and off the floor, but in a centralized area where they could be easily accessed. For holiday decorations that aren’t used frequently, overhead storage is a must. This allows you to free up floor space, will still having a storage area above your head.

Remember how I said that getting your storage space under control can actually save you money? I didn’t forget about that either. By organizing your storage area, you’ll end up saving money on replacing items that you can’t find. If you invest in a sturdy organization system for your home that comes with a warranty, you won’t have to worry about the cost of replacing the system over time if it breaks or bends. In addition, homes with a customizable storage system receive higher bids when selling.

While getting your items organized won’t be easy, it will be worth it! And remember, if you’re moving into a new home, just like Chelsea did, the best time to start getting your things organized is now.

Monkey Bar Storage Solutions is the expert in clutter control for the Milwaukee area. They provide epoxy floor coatings, garage cabinets, shelving, and overhead racks to homeowners who are serious about organizing their homes. For more writing by Stephanie Hanson, feel free to visit her personal blog, DIY Made Simple.

Photo credit

July 8, 2014

Fresh Summer Peaches with Pick ‘n Save

Wonderful summer grilled peaches with pound cake and vanilla ice cream | Recipe by #MyPicknSave #shop

First of all thank you to everyone for your amazing words and support from our big announcement last week!

In the last two weeks I’ve finally started to feel like myself again, and. I’ve finally found myself back in the kitchen. My cravings have been all over the place, but recently I can’t seem to get enough fresh fruit, more specifically peaches. Fortunately, summer is the perfect season and we’ve got a Pick ‘n Save so close that we can keep our kitchen stockpiled with fresh peaches.

Easy grilled peach dessert recipe | Recipe by #MyPicknSave #shop

Summer is my favorite time of year to eat. I love the amazing variety of fresh produce. I go crazy for summer fruit - from berries, to watermelon, to cherries and plums and, of course, peaches. Peaches are up there on my top five favorite fruits. It’s one of the reasons I love summer so much because the world provides me with an unlimited supply. I mean seriously, does anything smell better than a fresh, ripe peach? I think not. If you can’t tell, I’ve been on a total peach kick and because of it, it seems like we’ve been adding them to everything!

Fresh Summer Peaches with Pick ‘n Save | Recipe by #MyPicknSave #shop

Here are just a few of the different recipes we’ve tried:
  • Sliced peaches in oatmeal with almond milk, vanilla sugar and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Grilled peaches over mixed greens with goats cheese and French style vinaigrette
  • Fresh sliced peaches on a piece of toast with goats cheese and a drizzle of balsamic
  • Thinly sliced peaches in grilled cheese with brie, and fresh basil
  • Quartered and then wrapped in prosciutto then drizzled with a bit of honey
  • Simply sliced over honey Greek yogurt with a scoop of rolled oats
Peaches can be wonderfully versatile and a perfectly sweet summer flavor to add to your meal.

Simple summer grilled peach dessert | Recipe by #MyPicknSave #shop

This grilled peach recipe is one we’ve been serving up a lot lately. We had a few friends over for dinner last week and after a savory pizza dinner it ended up that we had all the ingredients in the house to create this delicious Grilled Peach Dessert. Without much thought I threw together this fresh and creamy sweet in less than 10 minutes.

Grilling peaches is incredibly easy, and creates the most amazing caramelized flavor as it brings up all the sugars. Combining this with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon honey butter and light texture of the pound cake creates the most decadent summer desert.

Thanks to #CollectiveBias and #MyPicknSave for helping me create this fresh and healthy meal for spring. For more tips, tricks and recipes follow Pick ‘n Save on social media - Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest.

Mouthwatering summer grilled peaches with pound cake and vanilla ice cream | Recipe by #MyPicknSave #shop
Delicious and simple grilled peach dessert| Recipe by #MyPicknSave #shop

Fresh Grilled Peaches with Pound Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream

Serves 2


2 large, fresh peaches,
1-pint vanilla ice cream
1 pound cake loaf*
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. honey
Dash of cinnamon
4 tbsp. pecans, chopped

Optional garnish:
Fresh raspberries

To Make Fresh Grilled Peaches with Pound Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream

Heat grill pan on medium-high. Place pecans in heated grill dish for 2-3 minutes or until browned lightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

Slice peaches in half, removing pit. Place peach halves on grill for 5-6 minutes or until grill marks form.

While peaches are cooking, place butter in a small ramekin and heat in microwave for 15-20 seconds or until melted. Add honey and a cinnamon and mix. Set aside.

Cut 2-4 slices of pound cake and place in serving bowls.

Once peaches are done cooking, remove from grill and plate with pound cake. Add 1-2 scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream (I use Tahitian Vanilla Gelato) to each bowl. Drizzle lightly with honey-butter. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Garnish with a few fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.

Serve immediately and enjoy a little taste of summer!

*I use Sara Lee pound cake when I don’t have time to whip up a cake on my own. It was my grandfather’s favorite after dinner snack and has been a staple in our house for generations.