Reclaiming this space and the journey

Photo cred: Alex Krivec

Maybe it is being in my thirties or having two kids instead of one or the postpartum anxiety, but I’ve reached this feeling of having stalled out. That feeling where you’ve accomplished all of the really cool things in your life. That new experiences are a thing of the past. That you are to old to try something different, challenge yourself, and face down insecurities.

It is way to early in life for that!

So I am embarking on a journey to fully embrace what I started this blog for, hopefully gain a little of my swagger back (who am I kidding I never had swagger, I’d twist my ankle), and find not only peace but growth in this new season of life.

When I started the blog I was transitioning into motherhood and out of what I thought was going to be a long term career in travel. I started this blog as a way to stay accountable to my goal of keeping my eyes open to the world and  embracing exploration. We spend so much time online and shuffling from place to place we miss the adventure that lives in each day. I started this blog to eat, travel, and meet amazing people and build my own adventure.

I want to continue to grow, learn, and challenge myself. I want to finish life saying I really lived it and provide lots of amazing memories for my children. I want to try new things – things that scare me, that make me anxious, that force me to face down insecurities and unrealistic fears of failure.

I want to meet new people – yes me, a hardcore introvert with anxiety (legit I take meds for that) want to meet people. I want to connect with people following their passions and writing their own story of life. I want to be inspired by their creativity, joy, and ability to face down their own fears.

And of course I want to eat and travel to experience new flavors, see new places, and meet new people.

So, I’m reclaiming that challenge and I’m sharing the journey as a way to stay accountable, provide a journal for my kids to look back on, and, hopefully, inspire some of you to do take on a new challenge, explore a new place, or meet some new people.

Here we go!

 

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Weekly randomness: bouncy house, zombies, and wanderlust

SleepThis picture pretty much sums up how I have felt all week. On a typical week I am rushing between family time, work, and school which can leave anyone feeling a little drained, but this past week was our daughter’s third birthday and we wanted to make it extra special. So we threw a special bash and invited friends and family to our house, which equals deep cleaning, a late night arrival by family from Illinois, and lots of extra little errands to run.

All of that work and loss of sleep was well worth it though.

Olivia jumpsgiftscakeOlivia loves to jump or as she says “jump, boing, hop” so we rented a bouncy house for everyone to enjoy. We highly recommend Twin Cities Inflatables.

What birthday party is complete without a birthday cake? I searched all over for a local bakery to get our cake from and landed on Taste of Love bakery. Marie at Taste of Love did a fantastic job on our Doc McStuffins cake. A delicious and beautiful double layer chocolate cake covered in pink buttercream with smooth buttercream separating the two cake layers. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. If you get the chance, check out the cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and other goodies from this local gem.

Of course, my mind never stopped running full throttle this past week so I still found lots of things to check out and share with everyone 🙂

zombies runningNeed motivation to keep the pace up when you’re running? There is a new app that taps into our basic instinct to fight or flee when in danger. Zombies, run! mixes gaming with exercise and definitely gets your heart beating faster during a work out. The app sets the stage during your workout with a story that you are out to get supplies in a world overrun by zombies. Your music playlist still plays, but every once in a while you get a message that a zombie is gaining on you and then you get a beeping sound that increases in frequency as the zombie gets closer. I didn’t think it would affect pace – it is fake after all – but without even realizing it the pace increased to get away from the zombies. So if we ever have a zombie apocalypse I guess I will be well trained for the supply runs.

EAT! Vancouver

EAT! Vancouver Food and Cooking Festival Pastry Tasting and Panel Discussion.

As part of my economics class I am working on a group project for business travel. All this talk about hotels and airlines is making my wanderlust kick into hyperdrive. So of course I’ve been looking at places to go, people to meet, and foods to try. And I stumbled across EAT! Vancouver Food and Cooking Festival. Definitely going on the list!

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Craft Beer and Kitchen: A first impression

The restaurant scene is always changing, which is part of what makes living in a culinary playground so much fun. However, I am always heartbroken to see establishments close, especially ones that have been around for years and been enjoyed by generations (or the ones on my restaurant dream list that close before I get to them). The past few months have seen the closing of some favorites such as Pracna on Main, Spill the Wine, and Nye’s Polonaise.

The only thing that offsets the sadness of one closing is visiting a new restaurant and being reminded that new favorites will open, chefs will continue to hone their skills, and we will keep sharing meals and memories with friends and family. A recent visit to the new Craft Beer & Kitchen in Woodbury, MN got us excited about exploring new places again.

Opening in the old Sunsets location the new look is modern and inviting with low lighting and dark wooden accents. The menu also received a bit of an upgrade with some interesting twists on old classics. The thing that really made this trip stand out, however, was the excellent service.

Today wait staff doesn’t tend to make that big of an impression on me since it is high turnover and often people who don’t enjoy what they do. The waitress we had the night we visited Craft was phenomenal. My daughter started to feel like she might be running a temp so my husband left to run across the street to CVS for some fever reducer. The waitress was kind enough to hold his meal in the kitchen and then she was so attentive she saw him come back in and she had his food out to the table seconds after he sat down.Cheese curds

The food is of course what we were there for and it didn’t disappoint. We started with breaded cheese curds and char wings. They were beautifully presented on a wooden board with delicious dips – honey mustard for the cheese curds and blue cheese for the wings. I’m not a big fried food or cheese curd person, but the cheese curds tasted like light and fluffy mozzarella sticks and were gone in moments. Between the six of us we had a hard time narrowing down entrees, but each settled on something different.

The jerk burger was well balanced with a little kick after the fact. The tree hugger grilled cheese was light years beyond any American cheese sandwich made at home.

Pumpkin ravioli

The pumpkin ravioli were little clouds of pasta sprinkled with chunks of savory sausage nestled into a light creamy sauce.

chicken sandwichThe open-faced chicken rotisserie chicken sandwich was piled atop perfect ciabatta bread with a layer of tart cherry chutney aioli keeping everything balanced.

The food and service will have us returning soon and we wish the team at Craft good luck!

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Julia said it best . . .

The past several weeks I’ve been finding more time to be in the kitchen, but instead of complicated dishes and new recipes we’ve been filling our bellies with classics and seasonal standbys.

Shredded beef with sweet potato oven fries and grandma’s coleslaw

Mac’n’cheese and beer bread

Roasted butternut squash and pork chops

Cassoulet and crusty bread

Roast, carrots, and potatoes

As Julia Child said . . .

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”

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Still a nomad: a weekend in Des Moines

I recently had my first weekend away by myself since having Olivia and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It was a blast exploring Des Moines with my sister-in-law – trying new foods without worrying about feeding someone else, exploring antique shops without this overwhelming fear that we are going to break a $1000.00 lamp, and sleeping until 6:30am!

At the same time it felt like a piece of me was missing. Nick and Olivia were never far from my thoughts and I had not realized how much of my life revolves around them. How I relate to people and experiences as well as what I am drawn to has evolved over the last three years in ways I probably haven’t fully grasped.

One thing that has been enhanced is my need to explore. Some people have kids and feel a need to hunker down and create a safe cocoon. I have found myself, however, desiring to know more about the world around me in order to share it with my daughter as well as a way to maintain a piece of my former self. While my weekends may no longer include late nights on the town or laying around until 9 or 10 I would say this weekend was a great balance of a little me time and a little world time (as well as plenty of much needed daddy-daughter time).

So it was off to Des Moines with a four hour drive of my music, singing out loud, and enjoying the beautiful fall colors developing above the golden fields ready for harvest. There were so many local little surprises along the way that I was tempted to stop at . . . so I guess a few more weekend trips that direction will be on the calendar.

I wasn’t missing out though. Once I got to Des Moines it was all about enjoying some local activities, people, and places. Saturday morning was kicked off by a trip to the farmer’s market which is still in full swing even as we approach the end of the season. Just this month Women’s Health magazine and Yelp named Des Moines the best up and coming city for foodies and for good reason. We made a quick lap around the market to decide what we wanted for breakfast – sweet rolls, ham and cheese crossaint, Dutch letter, breakfast burrito, mango on a stick???? After a double lap we finally settled on egg sandwiches from Local Yokels. breakfast sand

local yokelA fluffy brioche bun toasted on the griddle encompassed a perfectly cooked egg, sautéed lightly salted kale, and a slice of both yellow and red tomato. It was a savory package of deliciousness that I was still thinking about at the end of the day!

Without even moving the car we wandered a few blocks from downtown across the bridge to the East Village shops. This little neighborhood of old buildings now is home to cute boutiques, antique shops, and local eateries. I became completely smitten with All Spice Culinarium and the antique shop Found Things. We took a load off for lunch at Noodle Zoo and it completely exceeded my expectations. Unlike the name may imply this is no Noodles and Co knock-off. I enjoyed a delicious Athenian salad with creamy feta, full Kalamata olives, and homemade greek vinegarette with a wedge of parmesan coated grilled focaccia. My sister-in-law enjoyed a Pesto Shrimp and Roasted Red Pepper Wrap . . . certainly not what I was expecting!noodle zoo

Since we had set aside the whole day for exploration we headed over to the fair grounds for Iowa’s Largest Arts and Crafts Show. It was a good thing we had eaten to get our energy back up. This year’s event had over 300 vendors and thousands of items to browse. Lets just say I walked out with a few décor items for my house and a small book of business cards for people to get back in touch with. On the list of items to add to my house: a bistro table and chairs made from pieces of used wine barrels, beautiful painted wood and burlap picture frames, and reclaimed wood holiday décor.

I also started another list on this trip – places to visit and things to eat on my next trip to Des Moines.

 

 

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