Around Here...

Around Here - 3

Around Here - 3

Around Here....

We are just winding down from our "Spring Break" (a Thursday - Monday break from school), although we did venture anywhere tropical, the kids and I did have fun with an overnight at a hotel in Duluth and we had a day fun with friends at our nearby ski hill.   We also had a couple of days just to relax and catch up, which was great as well.
Around Here - 3
Around Here - 3Around Here....

The buckets are up!   The weather has been just about right, below freezing over night and creeping above freezing during the daytime.  We put the buckets up on Saturday, but as of this morning the sap had not started to run.   The forecast predicts temperatures conducive to the flow of sap in sugar maples.   My hope is that I can start to share this experience -and get a taste of sweet sap- this week.

Over the long weekend I completed an article for Lake Time Magazine all about my experiences small-scale spring sugaring over the last several years.   The article will be in the next issue, which will hit stands in late April.


This act of sharing photographs and ramblings of our daily life is a practice in gratitude that brings me joy.

I encourage you to reflect on the good in your life.

What are you grateful for today?


Meal Plan Monday

Duluth - 1Pictured above is a snapshot from an overnight getaway to a hotel in Duluth over our "spring Break".  I totally recommend Girl, Stop Apologizing if you want a quick and inspirational read.

Meal planning has gone by the wayside the last couple of weeks .

1)  Our three boys (in two different sections) had a two week class of after school swimming classes between 3:30-5:30 p.m. in a nearby community. Instead of meals together we split up, James took the boys to swimming lessons with a picnic supper in a cooler bag.  

2)  A week ago everyone in our household was hit with the stomach flu.

3) We have been off of school for a couple of days for a short "spring break" from school.

Needless to say we have been out of routine.   

Well, now I am back to business, and I have to be!   The track season starts tomorrow and the girls head coach is out of town for two weeks, so I (the assistant coach) needs to run practices.  That means I have to be extra organized with dinners at home as well.

Here it goes:

------Our weeknight family meal plan - March 18-March 22------

Taco Soup with Chicken & Fritos

need:  chicken broth, cooked chicken, salsa, canned corn, canned black beans & fritos corn chips & cheese for topping


Fried Rice with Orange Chicken & wontons

need:   rice, egg, frozen peas and carrots, Aldi's frozen orange chicken, frozen wontons


Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

need:  cooked chicken, noodles, olives, feta, cherry tomatoes, hard salami, red onion, olive oil, parsley


Chicken Burgers & Fries

need: Frozen Chicken Burgers, buns and fries


Orange Chicken, Broccoli Stir Fry and Rice

need:  frozen orange chicken (Aldi), broccoli, soy sauce, ginger, brown rice


Sheet Pan Dinner with Bratwurst and Roasted Vegetables

need:  brats, onions, peppers, buns, relish


Weekday Lunches:   peanut butter and jelly calzones


Have great week friends!

Friday Fave - The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders

Happy Friday Friends!

Here's my "Friday Fave," a series highlighting fun and interesting things (products, experiences and/or ideas) that I would recommend to others.

Here's what I am digging this week:

Herbal Handbook for HomesteadersI recently got my hands on this new book The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders: Farmed and Foraged Herbal Remedies and Recipes by Abby Artemisia.    This book is a wonderful resource full of tutorials, recipes and instructions on how to grow, forage, and create natural home remedies.  

Chapters include:

  • Getting Started
  • The Mints and Herbal Tea
  • Immunity and Remedies
  • Bug Repellents and Skin Soothers
  • Allergies and Pain
  • Eating Herbal Through the Seasons

Here is one of the tutorials from the book:


Antibacterial Cleaning Spray

excerpted with permission from The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders by Abby Artemisia © 2019 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc.

You will need:

1 lemon or other citrus fruit (peel or whole), cut into slices 

1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried thyme

1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried lavender, pine needles (chopped), or other fragrant herb of choice

¾ cup (180 ml) white vinegar

10 drops essential oil, such as lavender or peppermint (optional)

1-quart (960 ml) Mason jar with lid

Parchment paper or wax paper

Small spray bottle


1) In a quart-size (960 ml) Mason jar, combine the citrus fruit, thyme, lavender, and vinegar. Cut a piece of parchment paper or wax paper twice as big as the top of the jar and place it between the jar and lid to prevent corrosion. Seal the jar and set aside in a cool, dark place to infuse for about 2 weeks, giving it a good stir or shake daily.

2) Once the mixture has infused, strain it into a spray bottle. Add the essential oils, if you like. It’s ready to use immediately. Spray on surfaces to clean and disinfect. This mixture will last for at least 6 months, though it will likely be gone before then!

Makes about ½ cup (118 ml)


The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders: Farmed and Foraged Herbal Remedies and Recipes  is great resource for information and inspiration that includes vivid photography and easy to follow instructions. 

It would be a great addition to any homesteaders library, it would also be a great gift!




Snapshots from the North Shore

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Lutsen - 9 Lutsen - 15 _. - 1 (1)
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Lutsen - 9
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Lutsen - 18 _. - 1
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Lutsen - 18
Here are some snapshots from the weekend I spend with my girlfriends on the North Shore of Lake Superior last weekend.   We had so much fun!    

We enjoyed a day downhill skiing at Lutsen Mountain then one day nordic skiing on the Sugarbush Nordic Ski Trails.   We also spent time relaxing and reconnecting in our vacation rental that was situated right on Lake Superior.  

The view of the lake was spectacular and it was amazing to be witness to the changing ice flow.  

Such Beauty!

Such Fun!


Minnesota Parent - March


MNP 0319_coverRGBThe March issue of Minnesota Parent Magazine is available throughout Minnesota and online now.

My ramblings in my School Days Column this month are all about "hardwiring happiness" where I reference my takeaways from Ph.D. Rick Hanson's book  Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness

Minnesota Parent - March

Pick up a print copy, or read the full issue by clicking --> HERE.

Find the online link to my column---> HERE.


If you like what you see, social media 'shares' are appreciated!

As always - thanks for reading!

Mama Recharge

Can you guess where I might be this weekend??

Enjoy this re-post of my 2018 December column in Minnesota Parent Magazine.  

Take it as inspiration to schedule a weekend away of your own!!!

Northwoods girls weekend

It’s booked — three nights at a vacation rental on the North Shore of Lake Superior for me and three of my great friends. Whoo-hoo!!!!

This will be our third-annual Northwoods “girls weekend” getaway. 

Why is this such a big deal?

Well, as a mother of four, I spent a long time in the thick of the baby years.

During that incredible but long chapter of my life, I felt defined by my role as a mother of a baby. I didn’t stray too far from the house. I spent a lot of time caring for the children, but not a lot of time caring for myself. I don’t have to tell you: It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I felt bogged down with the responsibility of it all.

Now ages 13, 11, 9 and 7, my children are becoming more independent. They have their groups of friends and are involved in all sorts of activities. We’re in a fun new stage of our life as a family. And I feel I have a little more time and freedom to nurture myself as an individual. 

I’m able to focus a bit more on my own physical, spiritual and mental well-being, which, in turn, helps me to project myself as the person — and the mother — I want to be.

Several years ago, I reached out to three of my friends to see if they would want to attend the popular YMCA Camp du Nord Women’s Ski and Snowshoe Retreat on the North Arm of Burntside Lake near Ely. 

They responded with a resounding, “Yes!” “Yes!” and “Yes!” 

We all registered and were soon together — all in one place at the same time, without husbands or kids, for the first time in years!

Although the camp where the retreat was held wasn’t far from my home, I felt a world away. Distancing myself from my day-to-day responsibilities — and distractions of work and home — gave me an opportunity to relax and reconnect with my dear friends.

At the retreat, we were catered to with great food, wine and full days of unstructured time. We had opportunities to participate in yoga classes, get massages, go for hikes, talk, laugh, read and sauna. It was an amazing experience!

We had so much fun that we decided to make our girls weekend an annual tradition.

The following year, we had intentions to do women’s winter retreat again, but it filled up before we were able to make our reservations. 

So we decided to try a ski weekend on the North Shore. We booked a vacation rental and planned on a day of downhill skiing at Lutsen Mountains and a day of cross-country skiing on the Sugarbush ski trails for our second-annual girls weekend. 

We lucked out with mild temperatures and a dumping of 10 inches of snow that made our ski day at Lutsen feel like we were in the mountains! Meanwhile, our cross-country ski trails were perfectly groomed, which made for an outstanding experience.

Although we might not be so lucky to get perfect conditions again, we all agreed we’d have fun together, no matter what we were doing!

I’ve come home from these weekends with my friends refreshed and recharged. 

If you’re in the thick of the baby years — or don’t have the finances or support to get away for a night or more — I encourage you to be creative and find ways to take a break closer to home. Maybe it’s dinner with friends or an afternoon or day trip. 

I think it’s important for our kids to see us having fun and doing something for ourselves.

Remember, if you’re a healthy and well-balanced individual, it can help you to be a better mother!

Friday Fave - Rachel Hollis Rise Podcast

Rachel Hollis

Rachel Hollis is a #1 New York Times best-selling author of Girl, Wash Your Face, a TV personality, top motivational speaker, top podcast host, CCO of The Hollis Company and mother of four.

Over the past few months, I have been listening to podcasts from Rachel's RISE series.

 RISE is a series of bold conversations with fellow business powerhouses and personal development leaders that provides the listener with real-life tangible takeaways.

Rachel is releasing a new book next week! ( March 4).: Girl, Stop Apologizing.

If you are looking for something bold, honest, inspirational and entertaining check out Rachel's work.


Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plan Monday - 1It was a hit!  Pictured above are the chili and cornbread waffles that I tried last week.


I put strong value in family dinners.   It is a time that our whole family can connect, sit down together, have conversation and share a meal.

I do not want to portray the illusion that every family dinner in our household is calm and blissful.   Nor do I want to brush aside the effort it takes to plan, prepare, and time everything so that it works with a busy family's schedule.

I do want to emphasize that, however, that this habit, has paved the way for daily family connection in our family.  As much as it is a chore, the benefits make it all worth it.

I know too, the opportunity to spend this time with my four children around our family table is fleeting.  My children are growing up quickly.   I want to share this experience with them.

To make this happen I take some time each week for meal planning, which I am choosing to share with you as well!

I hope you get some inspiration by what I post. Regardless, this practice is beneficial for me, as it is creating a database of dinner ideas (all you have to do is click on the meal planning category tag on the sidebar to see all my posts on this topic).  

I also value your feedback and appreciate your ideas and inspiration as well! 


On the family agenda this week:  Nordic Ski Team Banquet (a night off of cooking!).  I'm sharing   Friday this mama is taking off for a girl's weekend

Our weeknight family meal plan - February 25-March 1

Venison Sloppy Joe Noodles - I will be using a variation of this recipe.

need:  ground venison, egg noodles, onion, garlic, brown sugar, tomato sauce canned tomatoes

Fried Rice with Orange Chicken & wontons

need:   rice, egg, frozen peas and carrots, Aldi's frozen orange chicken, frozen wontons

Chicken Tacos, Spanish Rice and Chips

need:  cooked chicken, tomatoes, avocado, black olives, lettuce, Spanish rice mix, tortilla chips

Chicken Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

need: Frozen Chicken Burgers, buns and sweet potatoes

extra meals to have on hand for the daddy when the mama's on her girl's weekend:

  • extra batch of beef stew (in the freezer)
  • frozen pizzas

Weekday Lunches:   Homemade Mac and Cheese!!  I made a huge batch with some cheese I needed to use up.

Have great week friends!

Friday Fave - This is Us

Happy Friday Friends!

Here's my "Friday Fave,"a series highlighting fun and interesting things (products, experiences and/or ideas) that I would recommend to others.

Here's what I am digging this week:

This is Us

This is Us 3

This is Us 2

If you have watched it, you know.

If you have not seen it yet, you are missing out.

It is so good.

We stream our shows through amazon.



An Afternoon Adventure to North Hegman Lake

Hegman Adventure - 2
Hegman Adventure - 2
Hegman Adventure - 2
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Hegman Adventure - 13 Hegman Adventure - 9
Hegman Adventure - 9
Hegman Adventure - 9
Hegman Adventure - 9
Hegman Adventure - 9We were not expecting to come across something like this!Hegman Adventure - 9
Hegman Adventure - 13
Hegman Adventure - 13
Hegman Adventure - 9

Monday afternoon I took an adventure into the BWCA  to the Hegman Lake pictographs.   This involved both skiing and skijoring for the 9 year old.  It is fun to make an outing like this at least once a year when the conditions are just right.

It was such a beautiful day!