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Blueberry Mint Antioxidant Drink

Happy Friday!

Over the years I have attempted to take Apple Cider Vinegar on a regular basis. It started with trying to lose weight for our wedding. I felt it kind of “flushed” me out in the mornings… then it transitioned into something I did just for general health. As usual, I didn’t measure anything, I just warmed up a mug of water, poured about 1oz of ACV in it along with a squirt of honey and lemon. Chug and done.

Recently, however, I’ve been super lazy (I blame mom-ing) so I just pour a shot-glassed size amount into a cup, plug my nose and shoot it down. It really gets the sinuses flowing, which I have enjoyed. The taste – not so much.

While we were in AZ this weekend, my mom brought some Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar juice drinks. She loves them, but I still felt the ACV taste was too strong for a full 12 oz drink. It did spark some ideas, though, so this week I’ve been making my own!

Last night’s was the best. Here’s what I did:

16oz water

2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 handfuls of frozen blueberries

The leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh mint

Some fresh Ginger (maybe a teaspoon)

A couple shakes of Turmeric powder

2 handfuls of ice

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend blend blend.

SO GOOD. This made two full glasses. Tim HATES the taste of ACV and he really loved this drink. Success!

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Our weekend in Wickenburg, AZ

Hello, Hello!

We spent last Thursday through Sunday in Wickenburg Arizona at a Dude Ranch! It was really neat.

This was our 3rd time visiting Rancho De Los Caballeros and I must say, it never disappoints. Although my mom and I were both a little under the weather, we made it work. It was very relaxing and slow, which was definitely needed for all of us.

We started each day waking up around 7am and walking over to watch the horses run from the pasture to the stables. They all loved the attention we gave them and Liam loved them just as much. He came away from the vacation with a phew new phrases, one of them was “more horses!”

After eating breakfast in the dining area and walking around the grounds some we went for my daily Starbucks run and any snacks we needed to hold us over between meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner were part of the vacation package!)

The remainder of the day was spent either by the pool, going to pet the horses again, playing games at the room, letting Liam nap (or napping with him!) playing at the playground and taking many, many, walks (another new obsession “stroller walk” – funny enough Liam thinks “Stroller” and “Shoulder’ are the same thing, he will frequently say shoulder or stroller and point to his shoulder then the stroller).

In the evenings the bunnies all sit out on the main grass area and just rest or eat. So now Liam also loves to say “Wake up bunnies! Wake up!” – Ahh that kid, he cracks me up.

Dinner was great, as always, they catered to our Vegan diet nicely.

It was a quick but refreshing getaway!

Well…

It’s been a while. A few things have changed since the last post I made back in December.

For one, I started (another) new job. Yep, I was only at my last place of employment 6 months. It just wasn’t for me. Basically the only benefit was it being close to home, which in the end, didn’t out-weigh the negatives.

So here I am, with a pretty terrible commute most days (I suppose it could be worse – I do work from home some and have a modified schedule some days to accommodate traffic), but, I’m enjoying a bit more financial freedom, and the job itself isn’t half-bad either.

Another thing – Liam is almost 2. I know that’s not technically a change, it’s just how time works, but it seems like so much about him has changed in the last 5 months. Mostly good; but I could do without the whole “terrible two’s” phase 😀

Liam 1

We’ve spent less time outdoors, unfortunately, but with the sun staying out later in the day we’re getting back at it more frequently. We went on our first camping trip of the year last weekend with the family, and it was a great kick-off to a fun year ahead. We already have 2 more trips booked, with 2 additional in mind.

Camping 1

Camping 2

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We’re still vegan. So there’s some consistency there.

We’re nearly finished with a bedroom project we started a while back. The wall behind our headboard is now fully covered in “shiplap” (aka, plywood cut to look like shiplap!) – It’s beautiful and I’ll be sure to post more on that later (hopefully).

While I’d like to continue blogging on a frequent basis, I am not sure it will happen. Here’s to hoping, though!

Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 Review

Well, we’ve had the Kelty for about 4 months now. It’s been on multiple hikes and a camping trip, I think we’ve put it through the ringer a sufficient amount of times now to give a fairly accurate review.

Now, before I get into it, let me just say this is my FIRST kid carrier of its kind. Sure, I’ve used slings, wraps and even the ErgoBaby360 many times in the past 1.5 years – but the Kelty is in a league of its own. It’s definitely not an every-day pack like the others – Point is, I don’t have anything to compare to, but I think my review is still valid.

Features:

Torso adjustment (allows for a great fit on both men and women)

Weight distribution for comfortable carry

Lower child seating (safer)

Padded shoulder straps

Leg loops/buckles for added child safety

Lower storage compartment

Removable sun shade

Changing pad

Hydration pocket (for a hose/bladder pack)

Three storage compartments

Kickstand

Removable backpack

Front pocket (good for keys/phone)

Five-point child harness (adjustable)

Toy loops

Carry/Lift handles

50-Lb weight limit

Lightweight aluminum frame

Pros:

The torso adjustment really has come in handy. Many times, I’ll start off with the pack and Tim will finish. The adjustment is easy to make even with baby seated inside (with the pack off). Although the manual instructs each user to make the proper adjustments prior to placing baby inside, that’s just not realistic half-way through a hike when he’s sleeping soundly. We’ll make the adjustments with him inside and on the ground as best we can, either loosening or tightening the straps and making the torso adjustments, then fine tune the adjustments once the pack is on. The Carry/Lift Handles really come in handy here, one of us lifts, the other slips their arms into the straps and buckles up.

The Storage compartments on this pack are fantastic. Obviously, you don’t want to pack too much and add even more weight than the child on your back, but there’s plenty of room for diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, sun screen, insect repellent, jacket, water bottles (both for baby and adult), and any other necessities. It’s been such a luxury to not have to cram everything into a hydration pack or extra backpack… In fact, before we got the Kelty we weren’t even taking diapers or wipes with us. We would change him right before and just hope things went smoothly while we were out on the trail! Oh, the disasters that could have led to!

In addition to that, one of the storage compartments houses a changing pad! Haven’t had to use it yet, but definitely a nice touch.

The Hydration compartment is definitely a bonus feature. I’m listing it as a pro even though we haven’t utilized it. Since we do have separate hydration packs whoever is not wearing Liam will wear the water. It just works out best for us, but I do see the advantage to this feature!

The Removable Sunshade got mixed reviews on Amazon. It was one of the things I was really hoping would work out since we basically live in the desert, but wasn’t holding my breath based on reviews. So far, we haven’t had any issues with it. Liam sleeps comfortably in the shade, he even doesn’t mind it when he’s awake. The most common complaint was that it doesn’t work too well in windy environments, which we have yet to encounter.

I think it’s fairly typical for packs like this to have a Kickstand, but it’s new to me and I LOVE it. Once the pack is on the ground and ready for Liam to get in he just can’t wait. He gets so excited and it’s so nice to sit him in there, strap him in and be able to leave him seated on the ground for a bit while we finish prepping for the hike (getting shoes on, sticks out, dog ready, etc…) and not have to worry about him running around.

The Removable Backpack is also another neat concept. If you don’t have anything big to tote along it definitely allows for some weight to be shed. Also- it’s come in handy as a backpack diaper bag just for everyday use! It’s small but fits the necessities when regular purses/bags are not ideal. We used it for the Light The Night Walk and loved it.

The Child Harness System is exceptional. Not too much to say here, but I have never felt like Liam was in danger of falling out or squirming his way out (and our boy is pretty stinkin’ strong!).

Keeping Liam entertained is pretty easy on our hikes… he LOVES being outside and looking around. He doesn’t need toys, but knowing the toy loops are there and available for use is definitely a nice feature.

One of the things I really researched when ready to purchase was the weight limit. I found plenty of good packs with good reviews, but the thing that always killed me was the 30-35lb weight limit. Now, ask me about it once he surpasses that weight and see if I still want to carry a 50lb kid on my back… but going into the purchase I really wanted something that would last us YEARS not months. Having that 50lb weightcapability was definitely one of the features that won me over.

The Lightweight Aluminum Frame ties in to the point above; who wants a 50lb kid on their back with an additional 15lbs of carrier? Not me. This pack was SO much lighter than I expected. I could pick it up and throw it one-handed a good 20 yards. Ok, maybe not. But maybe so! I’m not sure, haven’t tested that theory, but, point is, it’s LIGHT. And that’s a necessity in this case!

The last item I want to mention is the feeling of support you get with this carrier. The straps and buckles are all in the right place and give the perfect amount of support. My whole life I’ve struggled with back issues (thanks to a weak core), it’s been even more prevalent post-pregnancy. So, to say I’ve had hesitations/concerns about toting Liam up and down dirt paths is an understatement. But using this pack I have honestly never felt like it was an issue. It’s almost like it keeps my core/back tight and aligned due to the support system. I can’t rave about it enough, really.

Cons:

The ONLY con I want to mention is the padded shoulder straps. I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of wearing the material down over time and molding it to our bodies, but the padding isn’t exactly comfortable. It’s very thick, but also very hard. It happens to hit right when my sports bra straps lie on my shoulders too. I’ve tried about every sports bra/tank/tee combo in my closet and still have the same problem. It’s not bad enough to cause any bruising or blisters, but it’s definitely a nuisance during the hikes. Like I said, I really do think it’s a matter of time/wear before that goes away, but I found it annoying enough to be notable.

Price:

The average price I’ve found is about $235. There are some websites out there selling them for $300, but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. I don’t see any add-ons for that price, so definitely do some research.

When we first discussed getting one I searched used because that is a pretty steep price for novice hikers. I found some in decent condition for about $80-100. Definitly worth consideration.

I also frequent sites like Leftlanesports (Same as Active Gear Up), TheClymb, Steep & Cheap, etc… So for a couple of months I was checking frequently for any good deals. That’s how we landed our brand-new pack for $168 from Leftlane; an already discounted price which was discounted further during a sale. SCORE!

So, look around – do your research and hold out until there’s a good sale… it will be worth it!

Camping at Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu, CA

Well, we survived camping with a 1.5-year-old… and ended up enjoy it, too!

I’m relieved after spending so much money preparing for upcoming trips – it looks like our gear will continue to get used.

I was a little worried after the first night; it was challenging to say the least. We got a pretty late start, just due to being busy and lack of preparation. We didn’t hit the road until about 2:15 and had to make a couple stops along the way. Add on LA traffic and you get a 2.5hr drive to Malibu. Luckily, Liam does a pretty good job with sleeping during long car rides, but that also set him up for some crazy energy while we were trying to get all set up.

My plan was to wear him in the ErgoBaby while we set up, which I did, but he didn’t like it much. Once things were set up he was finally able to run around which he absolutely loved. It took me a couple hours to ease up a little on the “don’t touch that” reaction I naturally have to him picking up random things and just accept the fact that dirt was going to be eaten during the trip. Luckily, I’m not super OCD when it comes to being clean, but I still needed to let loose a little. Once I just accepted it and let him roll around, play in the dirt, play with sticks and rocks, it was much more enjoyable.

The only issues came during the evening when he got a bit cranky. Ok – a lot cranky. We were definitely “that family” – you know, the one with the baby that won’t stop screaming. Yiikes. Oh well. We were able to get him to sleep around 9 though, so we weren’t too much of a nuisance. I hope…

The whole experience was definitely MUCH different than camping without a baby. Mostly positive differences, but it definitely wasn’t a relaxing trip. All our camping trips prior to Liam were very simple: Set up (beer in hand), cook (beer in hand), listen to music by the campfire eating smores (beer in hand), wake up go for a walk to the nearest body of water, sit and enjoy doing nothing (beer in hand) … repeat. That aspect of camping was missed, but having Liam with us and creating those memories definitely did more than make up for it.

Such a huge learning experience, too. I think the trips will only get better with time. Our second day there Tim’s brother made it out and brought Liam’s push trike; this basically changed our lives. We had a simple form of entertainment! Liam was also given a balloon by another family, I think that may be another must-have item. Anything to keep him occupied and happy is key.

The only thing I was a bit bummed about was we weren’t able to go on a hike. The trail that starts in the campground is not dog friendly, and leaving Dakota behind was just not an option. I’m sure we could have hopped in the car and found a dog friendly trail, but we chose not to. We did however go on a couple walks around the campground with Liam in the Kelty. It was another tactic we used to calm him down and get him ready for bed/nap.

We enjoyed it so much we’re already trying to plan our next trip, maybe sometime in December.

I definitely want to post a gear round up and also a list of kid-friendly things/ideas to make these kinds of trips enjoyable for both baby and parents! Mainly for my own use LOL.

In the meantime, here’s some pictures!

Vegan Spinach Ricotta Lasagna with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Tim has been coming up with some KILLER dishes lately. This is one of my new favorites for sure! Before we get into it. I just want to acknowledge my lack of posting. I feel like I have multiple things going against me.

1) Work has been extremely busy lately. Its wearing me down. I’m not working a ton of overtime (about 2 hours per week), but the hours that I am here it’s been go-go-go. Which is good because it passes time rather quickly, but I end the days so exhausted – mentally and physically.

2) I’m just in a funk, not going to lie, work is the main contributor. I took quite the pay-cut back in May to work closer to home. It’s been such a blessing being so close to Liam, not having to deal with crazy people on the roads, and being able to go home at lunch… but the pay-cut and lack of paid time off has really been weighing heavily on my mind. Did I do the right thing? Should I consider other options so we don’t have to be on such a tight budget? How will we manage if we have another kid? All these things going through my already high-stress, high-anxiety mind just makes for a really large cloud hovering overhead.

3) Liam has been fighting multiple colds. It’s amazing how much this affects things. Last winter he contracted RSV; it’s quite common, especially with kids in daycare, but it causes a rollercoaster of colds. He’ll get sick to the point he can’t be in daycare for multiple days, then he’ll get past it… just to get sick again. And repeat. Since it always causes respiratory issues we tend to play things very safe when he’s under the weather. For us, that means spending a lot of time indoors. Which in turn, causes the blues for me. I love to be active and get outside and when I can’t it tends to make other things (like #1 and 2) on the list even worse.

I wish I had more time to blog, I don’t know how frequent bloggers who have full time jobs and kids do it! I need lessons.

Ok, so rambling aside, here’s the recipe! My husband is a GENIUS!

Ingredients:

Lasagna noodles (cooked, or use no cook)

Zucchini (sliced length wise into about 1/8”-1/4” thick pieces.

Marinara sauce (for this round we used Newmans basil sauce)

Spinach Ricotta

Coconut Mushroom Sauce

For the Coconut Mushroom Sauce

1T Flour 2t

Vegan Butter 2 Cans Coconut Milk

3 Cups Sliced Mushrooms 1/2t Salt

1/2t Pepper 1T Fresh Minced

Garlic Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Make a roux using the flour and vegan butter. Then add remaining ingredients. Mix and simmer for 20 minutes, add flour to thicken if necessary and adjust seasonings to taste.

For the Spinach Ricotta:

1 Cup Raw Cashews

1 Package Extra-Firm Tofu

2 Cups Fresh Spinach

¼ Cup Fresh Basil Leaves

3 Cloves Garlic

1 t salt

1 1/2 t light white miso

2 1/2 T nutritional yeast flakes

Juice from half a lemon

Drain and press the Tofu between paper towels for 20 mins to squeeze out water.

To make the ricotta — blend all dry ingredients together in a high-speed blender until it is somewhat chunky, do not blend into a powder. Add tofu, spinach, miso, and lemon juice. You will have to scrape down the sides and blend until it is the texture of ricotta, taste to adjust seasoning.

Assembly:

In a baking pan (we used glass) pour a thin layer Marinara sauce. Next, construct a layer of cooked lasagna noodles, another layer of zucchini strips, then a layer of mushroom sauce and finally the vegan ricotta. Repeat this process until there are no ingredients left.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes at 400 degrees.

​Easy Vegan Banana Bread and Living Room Camping

I totally cheated on this one. I was out of some key ingredients but found a box of banana bread mix my dad gave us a while back. The craving hit hard so there was no stopping me!

I used a flax egg in place of a whole egg and it turned out perfectly! I also added in some cranberries for an extra kick. Totally delicious (although not exactly healthy by any stretch of the imagination LOL).

For the flax egg all I did was take 1TBS of ground flax and add 2.5TBS water. Stir. Sit for 5 min. Added to the batter and ta-da!

On another note, we tested out all our camping gear by sleeping on the living room floor Friday night. I woke up with a little bit of a back ache, and definitely didn’t sleep GREAT – but, I still give it a thumbs up. I think we just need to work on our technique. LOL. Getting Liam to sleep inside the sleeping bag may be a struggle. He’s totally restless with blankets on him. I’m hoping it’s not an issue once we’re in the cold. Also, the sleeping pads are MUCH more comfortable when you sleep on your side than on your back (which I’m a total back sleeper), so that will take some getting used to. We’ll see, our next time on them will be the real deal!

Vegan Chili Burgers

We ran again. Again – who are we? HA! It was Monday night and another no-watch, no-worries, have fun type of run. We didn’t go far, just 1 mile (I only know this because the loop around our neighborhood is exactly 1 mile and we did 1 loop. So technically, there was a bit of distance tracking involved). It was refreshing. We may try it again tonight!

Tuesday nights are always a little chaotic and rushed. We meet with our married couples church group at 6:30. So, that means off work at 4, pick up Liam, rush, rush, rush, get him fed, rush some more, get us fed. We really don’t have time to cook, so we always plan really quick meals for these nights.

Last night was Vegan Chili Burgers.

We really want to make a great home-made Vegan Chili, but for now we resort to Amy’s brand.

My double patty left-over version

Vegan Chili Burgers

1 can Amy’s Vegetarian Chili (it’s vegan)

1 (or 2!) Vegan patty of choice (Last night we tried Sprouts brand and Boca)

Buns

Optional:

1 slice of Almond Cheese

Mustard

Pickle

I kind of thought the pickle was weird, but Tim talked me into it and it was GOOD.

They were pretty messy, but definitely hit the spot. Ready in 10 minutes and completely demolished and cleaned up in 30 minutes flat. Can’t beat that for a quick (cheap) meal on-the-go.

Cold Weather Camping Gear

Well we didn’t get the hike in that I was hoping for… but we ran!

Yes, you read that right, we ran. For the first time in a month. Maybe even 5 weeks. I think?

While I really REALLY wanted to go hiking, I wasn’t sure how it would affect Liam. The trails around here are extremely dusty (I mean, really, I’m sure they are everywhere), we live in a very dry area so every time we hike we all get dirty noses. Liam already was having some left-over snottiness that I just didn’t want to risk getting worse after 2 full weeks of being sick. So, we chose to hit the pavement and run. 

At first Tim suggested we run about 1.5mi and do an easy run/walk ratio. But, I really didn’t feel like putting any sort of pressure on us. Just running, without a watch, without knowing when the next walk break was going to happen, without tracking distance… sounded so pleasurable. So that’s what we did. We walked to our favorite running neighborhood (where it’s relatively flat), and just went. Don’t get me wrong, there’s part of me dying on the inside not knowing our stats, not knowing if we’ll improve on the next run. But, oh well. That’s not what I need right now.

The other major accomplishment this weekend was getting some cold-weather gear for our camping trip. After a TON of research, we finally landed on this sleeping bag. It’s a queen size so our plan is for all three of us to sleep in it (we will be testing this theory in our living room first):

TETON Sports Mammoth 0F Queen Size Sleeping Bag; Double Sleeping Bag: Link:https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MSLWHZS/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_Bx72zb372B4YZ

And 2 of these sleeping pads:

Lightspeed Outdoors XL Super Plush FlexForm Self-Inflating Sleep and Camp Pad Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FELZ3TW/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_qw72zbWEXB1RT

Not only that, but we got some hiking boots (FINALLY). We’ve been winging it and wearing older running shoes on our hikes. It has got us in a couple sticky situations.

I got the Keen Gypsum II Mid Boot (LOVE):

Link: https://www.mountainsteals.com/steals/shop/product_Keen-Women-s-Gypsum-II-Mid-Waterproof-Boot_10317709_13203_10000005_-1_

Tim got the Keen Aphlex Mid Boot:

Link: https://www.mountainsteals.com/steals/shop/product_Keen-Men-s-Aphlex-Mid-Waterproof-Boot_10317684_13203_10000005_-1_

I can’t wait to take them out on the trails.

I also got this great mid-weight shirt jacket from Bass Pro Shops. I figure it will be great with a base-layer under and a hooded vest over. If it’s really cold I think I can get my snowboarding jacket over it. That is TBD though. 

Link: http://www.basspro.com/shop/en/natural-reflections-flannel-shirt-jacket-for-ladies-2298293-1

 

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