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Homemade Caramels & Christmas Traditions

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Who can deny themselves buttery, homemade caramels?!  I know I can’t and this time of year, they go hand in hand with the holidays for me!

Christmas is before us and who doesn’t feel nostalgic this time of year?!  One of the things I love most about the holidays are the traditions that each family seems to have!  I have fond memories of my childhood and the holidays.  We had many traditions as a kid that including driving around looking at Christmas lights, decoradting the house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, and baking Christmas cookies!

Christmas Memories

Each year when I was younger, each member of my family would select their favorite Christmas cookie to bake (sometimes two) and we would spend one whole Saturday baking, singing Christmas carols, and being together!  Those memories are some of the very best that I have!

One of the treats that I remember my mom always making is Homemade Caramels!  These caramels are buttery, creamy, and very delicious!  My mom would make these caramels at Christmas time and then keep them throughout the winter!

We skied each winter and inevitably my mom always has some in her pockets for the car rides and chair lift rides!  Little did I know at that time it was took keep us quiet when got extra chatty!  Becuase, yes, these caramels are super chewy!

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The Fieldhouse: Clear Lake, Iowa – Farm to Table

fieldhouse

If you’re looking for the newest and greatest food scene in North Iowa, look no further than Fieldhouse in Clear Lake!  With it’s farm to table menu, cozy setting, along with park & lake views, it can’t be beat!  With an every changing menu and farm fresh supplies, this is a unique dining experience that will blow you away!

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What I’m Loving Right Now, November 2017

I know, I know…it’s been 5 months since you’ve seen one of these!  Life happens!  But, I’m back with a new edition of what I’m loving and these really are some of my absolute favorite things, so I hope you see something you might like too!

Leafy Style

When you love something you buy one in every color, right?!  Well, I did just that with my current favorite necklace!  Back in my first edition, in April,  I talked about my favorite earrings, which are by Chloe & Isabel!  Ironically, my favorite necklace is made by the same company!  I had the silver version of this leaf necklace first and when my consultant, Mary, gave me the opportunity to buy the gold from her cash and carry stash, I jumped on it!  These are unique pendants that add a little class to every outfit!  My favorite thing about them is that the chain is connected directly to the pendant.  It doesn’t slide around!  It all stays put! I recommend getting one or both!  😉

 

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Crumb Topped Apple Pie

Getting to bake is one of my favorite things to do!  Getting to share my baked goods with other people is just the icing on the cake!  Or, the ice cream on the pie as it would be for today’s recipe!  This Crumb Topped Apple Pie (with a secret ingredient) is one that I recently shared with some friends and I loved getting their feed back!

Crumb Topped Apple Pie

 

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Eagle Point Park – Dubuque, Iowa

Where do you go to slow down?  I can’t say that we have ever had a regular place, but now that we have visited Dubuque, I think we have found it!  Recently, T and I headed over to Dubuque for a quick 24 hour trip to have some time to ourselves and slow down!  We stayed at the Hotel Julien and spent many hours just “being” together!  While we explored a few fun, but low-key places, this was probably our favorite and where we will return time and time again!

Eagle Point Park

For a whopping $1 per car, you get free reign of Eagle Point Park, which is owned by the City of Dubuque.  Take your time driving through the park and enjoy the many different levels of scenery!  Stop and explore the old buildings, lodges, and shelters that can be rented for a variety of events!  While we were there, we saw a 1st birthday party, a kids birthday party, and a wedding set up!  This would be an amazing back-drop for any event!  Then, head to the Mississippi overlook!  While we enjoyed explore several parts of the park, this was by our favorite!

Dam #11 on the Mississippi River

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Port of Dubuque River Walk

On a gorgeous day in Dubuque, Iowa one wants to enjoy the river and the weather!  We love walking along the Port of Dubuque River Walk!  Here you can slow down, enjoy the view, some art, and history all at the same time!

River Walk & Art Sculptures

This walkway is a paved trail that runs along the port/river and is adorned by lots of art sculptures!  Enjoy the view of the different art as well as reading about them at each stop!

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Sweet & Creamy Strawberries – Keto Friendly 

I recently started eating Keto style and these Sweet & Creamy Strawberries are the perfect snack to satisfy my sweet tooth.  Most of you know that I have tried eating “clean”.  It didn’t work for me.  I can only eat so many stalks of celery before I need something of substance.  Several of my friends have adopted the Keto lifestyle and so after much research and talking wit them, I decided to give it a whirl!  Before I go any further, I want to say that I am not an expertise in Keto and not a professional, so before you decide to take on the lifestyle, please do research with those that are!

Finding What Works For Me

One aspect of Keo is high protein and high fat and very low carb.  I’ve actually come to discover that I love carbs, but they don’t love me.  I love cereal, muffins, and bread, but it makes me so bloated.  So, this diet has been great for me!  However, I’ve struggled to find low carb snacks to curb my sweet tooth!

We also have started a strawberry garden this year!  T has loved giving these “ladies” as he calls them extra attention and producing the sweet red berries for me to enjoy!  Next year I’ll have an abundance of strawberries and this will be the perfect way to use some!

strawberries
One of the many strawberries from our garden

Fruit is something I’ve always loved and love experimenting with recipes.  This yummy fruit recipe can be used as a side or a dessert!

Sweet & Creamy Strawberries - Keto Friendly
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 T Swerve
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 3 cups diced strawberries
Instructions
  1. Begin by whipping your cream until somewhat frothy
  2. Add the cream cheese, Swerve, and almond extract and mix thoroughly
  3. Fold the cream cheese mixture into your strawberries

Cooks Notes

  • Swerve is an all-natural sugar substitute.  Any natural (no calorie) sugar substitute will work for this recipe.  You may just have to adjust the amounts based on what you use.  You can also use real sugar if you aren’t worried about those calories!
  • Your whipping cream will not whip up into an actual cream.  You aren’t using enough (or in my case, didn’t have the patience) and that’s ok!  You just want to whip it until frothy!
  • Stir your strawberries real well before eating or serving.  They will put off a natural juice and you will see “water” or juice sitting in the bottom of the bowl!  This juice just helps to spread things around, it’s all good!

I love enjoying these Sweet & Creamy Strawberries for an evening snack!  They are perfect for satisfying my sweet tooth, but not getting me off track with my diet!  If you want something extra special, toss a few dark chocolate chips in with your strawberries! YUM!

Roseville, MN: Perfectly Positioned

Roseville, Minnesota boasts that it is Perfectly Positioned and after our (mine & T’s) trip recently, we’ve learned this to be very true.  It is 10 minutes from downtown St. Paul and 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis!  How perfect is that?!  We had never heard of Roseville and we had no idea what they offered, but now we are ready to go back!!  Plus staying at the Courtyard by Marriott was super convenient, comfortable, and a great place to call “home” during our visit!

THAT Cooking School

Are you a “Chopped” fan like me?!  If so, then THAT Cooking School is for you!  THAT stands for Teaching, Heart, and Team Building.  This is a great place for taking your group (of any kind) for team building or if you have a new team and need to break the ice!  Heck, this would even be a fantastic place for a first date.  Not only do they challenge you to create together, work as a team, but also have fun!

Como Zoo & Conservatory – 

You will not be disappointed when you stop by the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, a free zoo!  They have a wide variety of animals including penguins, seals, giraffes, and gorillas and there is also a Conservatory with extensive gardens!  The entire facility is quite impressive with it’s beautifully landscape and natural looking grounds and I can’t wait to explore it more in-depth with the entire family!

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Garden Update, August 7th 2017

I’m pretty sure two weeks is going faster the further we get into the summer!  But, here I am back with a Garden Update!

Life As It Is!

Life as we know it has been busy with lots of random events!  We visited the Hancock County Fair for their night of destruction with M and several family members and friends!  It’s good old fashioned county fair fun!  I’ve had meetings for work as well as actually getting to enjoy time at home in the evening where we work in the gardens, walking Nike, and relaxing.  This past weekend, T and I got to take in an overnight in Des Moines including an iCubs game with his company!  It was great to get away for a mere 24 hours and focus on each other and having fun!

It’s Not All Roses

I’ve always been happy to show off my beautiful gardens and flowers, but…it’s not all roses!  Nope, there are parts of my gardens that I don’t like!  And…for a change, I decided to share those with you today!  These are my raised beds around our flag pole and I’m not happy with them this year…at all!

 

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