Tag Archives: travel

A Cooler, A Cutting Board, A Bowl and A Crockpot… Not a Crackpot!

In the two weeks we were traveling we only ate out one time.  What?  How is that possible?

Well, let me tell you how.  A cooler, a crock pot, large bowl, cutting board, some serving utensils and some prep.

Breakfasts:  Hard boiled eggs, GF cereal with raw milk, GF bagels with organic cream cheese or almond butter, home made GF muffins and pre-made home made GF waffles.  I made the waffles and muffins before we left and froze them.  We would put the waffles wrapped in foil into the crock pot over night on warm and by morning we had warm waffles to enjoy with some sliced strawberries and maple syrup.  We also had kefir or yogurt with some strawberries and bananas.

Lunches:  GF organic Turkey sandwiches made as we wanted them.  Sliced GF organic grass fed beef sausages with GF Rice Free Lentil crackers and raw cheese.  Costco also has a wonderful organic GF chicken salad in single serving cups that were delicious.  We also ate leftovers from our dinners the previous night and pre cut veggies with organic hummus.

Dinners:  Prepped before leaving was the marinated chicken I cooked, cut up into cubes and froze.  This was also useful in the cooler acting as another ice pack.   The kids and I were able to wash some lettuce with some paper towel, I cut up tomatoes and we tossed the thawed chicken into the bowl with the lettuce and tomatoes adding in an organic Caeser salad dressing with a little cheese and we had a chicken Caeser Salad.

I also cooked up chicken breasts and shredded them mixing them with a habanero pineapple sauce and some barbecue sauce.  Both were organic without high fructose corn syrup.  I then froze it and when thawed, cooked it in the crock pot serving it on GF buns as pulled chicken sandwiches.  Serve with a few homemade sweet and sour pickles, cut up veggies and gluten free organic chips.

One night we made taco salads.  I had precooked and frozen some ground beef and used it also as an ice pack for the cooler when we first left.  We again washed some lettuce, tomatoes and put all in the metal mixing bowl with fermented salsa, raw cheese, organic avocado, and the organic dressing.   The leftovers we ate for lunch the next day.

We took some precooked chicken brats that were frozen and I put them in the crock pot with some cut up peppers and onions in the afternoon one day in CA and we had dinner ready when we were done with our day.

On the way home, we made a stop at Costco and Whole Foods.  We chose some pre-made salads and chicken dishes that we could put in the cooler.

Snacks:  We had apples, bananas, dried fruits, cut up veggies with organic hummus cups, and of course I allowed the kids some GF chips of various kinds.   Believe it or not, I actually found pretzels that were GF and rice free.  Woo hoo, I actually enjoyed a few pretzels.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive when it comes to food as long as you have a few hours of prep, the resources and the want to eat nutritious meals.  I cannot remember the last time we were in a fast food drive through.  Other than coffee it has to have been at least 12 years.  We travel quite often and we rarely eat out when we do.

When we did eat out in CA, it was the first day, in San Francisco at Fisherman’s Wharf.  Of course, who could pass up such a wonderful Ahi Tuna.  🙂




Where Are My Ruby Slippers?

“There’s no place like home… There’s no place like home…” A phrase I kept repeating one night on our journey as I thought of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

We made it home safe and sound!  The journey back was long since we added in a visit to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  I am finding myself exhausted and had a two day migraine I am hoping will scamper away soon enough.  Joyful however that the Lord found favor upon us and brought us home safely.

The trip home had one frightening moment in time, when we left Yellowstone only to find ourselves in the mountains once again, in the dark, on a two lane road with 20 mph speed limits and open roaming of cattle.  Yes, we saw two cattle on the side of the road at one point, and no we did not see many cars for over an hour as we climbed a mountain in the dark.  I mistakenly took the wrong exit out of Yellowstone only to find myself in near tears, feeling lost with my kiddos somewhere in and out of Montana and Wyoming.  In all honestly it was another one of those moments when all you can do is keep going even when you didn’t know where you were going nor where you would end up.  I suppose it’s much like Lyme Disease.  For over the last year it’s been a way of life, just keep going, there has to be light at the end of the tunnel.   My prayer as we climbed higher and higher and I was getting more and more tired was that God’s mercy would provide energy to my body, peace of mind, and a stopping point sooner than later.  I asked for safety as we were visibly unable to see what was ahead of us or around us.   When we finally did end up in a town, one hotel was out of rooms and we nearly spent the night in the car.  Fortunately, we checked the bed bug registry to find another hotel nearby and the two hotel stewards graciously gave us a lower cost on our room along with free breakfast the next morning.  Praise Him for giving us all that we needed to make it through that night.

My glass is half full attitude kept telling the kids that if we had not gone out that exit, we would never have seen the moose in Montana next to the road, nor would we have seen the herds of bison that continued to walk in front of our car near the exit.  It was quite exciting and made for more memories in the memory bank.

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I could not help to be struck once again by the beauty of our country.  From the rolling hills, to the plains, to the mountains that stretch high into the skies.  The beauty of the animals roaming freely from one hillside to another while we sat in our cars, driving around their homeland, captivated by the activity of their everyday lives.  Made me think of a song we all once knew:

Original poem (1893)
America. A Poem for July 4.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!
O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!


Are We There Yet?

Well…we made it!  Across the midwest to California.  Memories that will last a lifetime.

We left on a Monday and by Tuesday we were 1/2 way across the midwest to our destination.  With a stop to see family we also enjoyed the hot springs for detoxing and an open jeep ride in the hills of Colorado.

The things we have seen thus far in the week and a half we’ve been on the road:  Glenwood Hot Springs and Glenwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Great Salt Lake Desert (Amazing), Tahoe Forest, Lake Tahoe, Half Moon Bay, Napa, Mount Tamalpais, The Red Woods in Muir Forest, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, the seals off of Pier 39, China Town, Golden Gate Bridge, Grand Teton National Park….

I would say that I am physically tired, however, I am also having the best time with the kids.  Sharing the driving, laughing, listening to loud obnoxious music, and watching the sights through their eyes as well as mine.   I cannot imagine a year ago that I would be doing this.  I remember being too sick to even climb the stairs of our house let alone being able to drive across country.  The blessings of the Lord are abundant and we are most content.

Today we enjoyed seeing the buffalo and a moose in the Tetons.  We have only eaten one meal out and have been creative with a crock pot and coolers to keep our healthy whole food meals cold.  We’ve been checking the bed bug registry so as to stay only places that are “clean”.  One hotel we checked into, we checked back out of 10 minutes later as there was a bug on the sheets.  From then on I checked the registry.  Of course, as all adventures go, we also checked into one motel only to have to ask for a second non smoking room because the first non smoking room they gave us smelled like smoke.  The second room they gave us hadn’t been cleaned yet, so we ended up with a third room that also had a kitchen and eating area.  This of course should have cost us a boat load more, however, they still gave us our discounted price off of booking.com.

I look forward to sharing some of our helpful travel hints that got us through our two weeks (that is what it will be when we get home) however, for now here are some pictures of our fun.  Hope you feel as though you’ve been with us:

photo 1

Selfie with the my brother and the kids in the jeep.  This was GREAT!  No doors, top off and riding on the back roads.

photo 2

Western CO near Grand Junction.  Crazy beautiful!

photo 3

Salt Lake is behind us.  (Salt Lake City Utah)

photo 4

Great Salt Desert.  This is amazing.

photo 5

Seals off of Pier 39 in San Francisco.  So fun to watch.

photo 5

Wine Tasting in Napa. (Silver Oak was our favorite.)

photo 4

Half Moon Bay where the waves were the biggest I had ever seen.  People were seriously being toppled over.  My husband went to get his feet wet on the sand when a wave came rushing in and nearly took him down.  He was soaked from waist down.  It was a priceless picture that was not taken due to all of us being so surprised over the event as it unfolded.

photo 1

Mount Tamalpais overlooking San Francisco.

photo 2

Red woods in Muir Forest.

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Snake River in Idaho before heading into Wyoming.

photo 2

Buffalo in Teton National Park.

photo 3


Yes, two days it hit 96 and 97 degrees while we were driving.

We still have more of our adventure to report on so we will share more when we get back to the home front.   Thanks for looking.

First of 2014 and Last As A Youth

The first Highland Games of the year… The last Highland Games of our sons youth!

He began competing on bagpipes exactly 10 years next weekend, and this week he will turn 18. In those 10 years he has worked hard to become a grade 1 piper (next step is professional). This is his first year as a grade 1 soloist and after yesterday it looks as though he’s on his way to great things.

All the years of traveling around, the hours of practicing, the hours of driving, sitting and waiting at his lessons has now affirmed we made the right decisions in helping him achieve his dream.

Before our birthdays my mom used to (and still does) remind us that we would never be that age again and that we had only another hour to be such and such an age. For some reason I thought of that and reminded my son yesterday that this was his last games as a youth. Thinking I was being silly, it didn’t really mean anything to him until he won piper of the day. It was fun seeing his expression when he thought of the fact he finished his career as a piping youth with an achievement he’d only hoped one day to accomplish. (Too bad he had left the games and was not personally handed the award… We received several texts from friends telling him.).  Oh well…. There is always next weekend, and about 5 more this year!!  Yes, it is possible to do this more than once.  🙂

cropped award picture

Our daughter also pulled off a great first games showing by taking two firsts.

I’d say it’s a good start to another year!  🙂

Our House, Not A Mouse House!



Let’s set the scene:

Usually, mornings begin with two cats meowing in every room until they have woken someone up that will take their plea and feed them.  Because we make them their food “fresh to order”, at 6:00 a.m. it’s at least a 15 minute process to get someone up.  Once they are fed, they go their separate ways and sleep for another 5 hours while the person who fed them is up for the day.

Well, on the morning of the day we were leaving the cottage to go home, everyone was up when I came down the stairs.  To my surprise, I walked into the kitchen to find both cats sitting in front of the sink staring at the cupboard.  Now, this struck me as odd for several reasons.  First, since everyone else was up, I knew they had been fed, so why were they sitting in front of the sink.  Secondly, after 3 years of having the second cat they are learning to like one another, however,  they would rather be separate so why were they sitting next to one another by choice.  Thirdly, when someone walks into a room, they usually get up and come toward that person with affection, however, this time they didn’t move.  They only looked at me as if there was a plot brewing that they didn’t want me to interrupt.  Hmmmm…..

Are you getting a visual yet?  I asked everyone what was up and also whether or not the cats had indeed woken anyone up that morning.  I mean, I had not heard a peep from them.  Everyone looked up and thought about it admitting that they too had not been awaken  by the two felines.  Okay, the plot is thickening.   After about 15 more minutes, the mature cat finally walked away to hide as she realized we were all up, luggage was by the door and we were going to be rounding them up to place them in the crates for the ride home.  The 3 year old cat stayed in the kitchen for at least another hour going from one cupboard to another and then planting himself in the middle of the floor with a visual scope of both cupboards.  At this point, I knew we had a visitor.  I knew there was a trap in one cupboard under the sink, so I looked there first to find it empty.  Okay, strike one.  Then I went to the next cupboard and upon opening it I heard it, scratching in the corner.  With a scream I slammed it shut and told everyone else it was confirmed, then I got the traps.  We left the kitchen quiet for about a 1/2 hour, the cat left and all agreed it must have gone out the way it came in.  Uh huh… yeah… could it be that simple?

We did the dishes, finished packing, and were finishing up packing the cooler when this scene played out for 45 minutes:

“Um, mom…hey guys….I just saw the mouse run past under the windows and he’s behind the wine rack.” said our son.

“What?  Are you sure?” was my first response. Along with my leap from my feet being planted on the floor to now being planted on a chair.  Another shriek came from my mom who, as my son said in his Phil Robertson impersonation, “Was standing on the cooler shaking like a sinner on judgement day.”

Gary walked in the room to find us all yelping, trying to decide what to do as the mouse ran from one side of the corner to the other trying to figure out his next leap of faith.  It was decided to get two pans to try to catch it.

“There he goes…he’s behind the TV. ”

“Oh no, now he’s climbing the fire place.”

“Where did he go? ”

“There he is behind the ice skates.  Oh no, block the front hall so he doesn’t go up the stairs (which is now where I was, after all we needed an eagle’s eye view from the loft…safety). ”

“Move the luggage so he doesn’t go in it otherwise he’ll be in the car.”

“Quick now he’s behind the TV again.”

“Now he’s under the love seat, now the couch.  Hurry, he’s now under the table.”

“Oh no, now he’s in the wine rack.”

Behind each declaration of movement, came a shriek, a yelp or a scream.  Finally, my mom suggested getting the vacuum.  This of course led to debate from the 17 year old, Gary and myself.  I of course am yelling for urgency and the two men debated strategy.  In the mean time the mouse had his own strategy as he darted around the living room trying to escape his possible demise.  I mean, can you only imagine what he was thinking?  “The lady upstairs has the right idea yet she ain’t comin down.  These two aren’t looking at me and they are just standing there debating.  Now’s my chance.”

Now, at this point you could be asking yourself, what about the cats.  Well, one was locked in a bathroom and the other one was hiding under the chair in the living room freaked out over the commotion.  Until that is, the mouse thought he was being smart and ran under the chair only find he ran into a ball of fur.  I laugh at wondering what the cat did when she saw him under the chair with her.  Both ran out and the cat took an interest in the mouse, however, because she wasn’t taught how to mouse, she didn’t quite know what to do.  The mouse realized he had another chance for escape and ran the opposite direction back under the couch.  The cat went and hid behind a table.  Are you picturing this?  I kid you not, 45 minutes of this….

Finally, as the clock now ticked past the departure hour,  strategy turned into urgency and a pan was placed over him and the vacuum shoved under until we saw him in the see through canister.  Vacuum turned off.

“Now what do we do?”

With urgency once again, I screamed “Get the vacuum outside, carry the whole thing down the street before you release him.  Let him be someone else’s house mouse!”

People were walking their dog  and I wonder what they thought as the two men carried that vacuum down the street to the corner.

So much for doctors order of doing nothing.  I exerted more energy in 45 minutes than I had in 10 days combined.  My husband and son thought the little guy was cute, however, I reminded them house rules:

“Leave the animals, spiders, worms, bugs, etc. alone when you are outside.  That is their home.  However, if they are in our home, we have the upper hand and it’s a free for all.”

Newsflash…”Keep all doors shut.  They can slip past you when you are not looking.  When there is 5 feet of snow outside, of course the outdoors is going to want to come in.”