Monday, October 18, 2021

Brisket and Noodle Soup

When you are looking for something warm and comforting brisket soup is going to be your new go-to. It is especially handy when you have a husband that loves to smoke brisket on our Traeger and we often have leftovers. 

  • tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 pound cooked beef brisket, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 medium celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 Poblano pepper, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine or beef broth
  • 2 quarts lower-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 1 ear fresh corn)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces uncooked medium egg noodles, cooked

1. Chop onion, carrots, celery and mince garlic. 
2. Melt butter in large dutch over medium-high heat. Add brisket, onion, celery, carrot, Pobalno pepper and garlic. Cook until just softened, approximately 6 minutes. Add tomato paste, cook, stirring often for about 2 minutes. 
3. Add wine or beef broth, and scrap the bottom of the pans to lift up any brown bits. Add chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, corn and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. 
4. Add egg noodles and cook for the length indicated on the package (usually 10 minutes). If you need to add any more chicken broth do so now. 
5. Discard bay leaf and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. 

Makes 4-5 servings. Can easily double the recipe for larger groups. 

Here is to all the summer travels! Make sure you don't miss any of my summer tips and finds by subscribing to my weekly newsletter

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Summer Vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

It’s good to date your husband. It is even better when you can hop on a plane and vacation together in a cool location like Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While Jon and I had been to Steamboat before, this was our first time going without a big family group. Obviously known for its winter skiing and sports, there is something extra magically about Steamboat in the summer. 

Foodie Central 

We plan trips, stops and whole vacations around food. Whether you love good food as much as we do or are simply wanting a good bite to eat between activities, Steamboat has you covered. Each night we made sure we had a reservation. I only started on reservations a week before our arrival and dining times and options were limited. With some schedule rearranging, we could still get into some of our favorites, but I would recommend getting things locked in earlier than later. 

Another tip is happy hour is your friend. Traveling from central time to mountain played in our favor. At most restaurants, we were able to catch the end of happy hour and grab some half-priced drinks and snacks. 

Our Favorite Restaurants 

Breakfast: Highly recommended by the locals, The Egg is no fuss, true American breakfast spot. We loved it so much that we did breakfast here two days in a row. Don’t pass up the biscuits and gravy, the waffles or anything that has bacon in it. We went here during the week and never had to wait, but have heard it is an incredibly popular weekend spot with longer wait times. Freshies also came with high reviews, but we didn’t get a chance to try it out. 

Mexican: Taco Cabo was phenomenal. I am not sure I have ever had a better carne asada taco. This was the last place we ate on our trip but I think if we would have tried this place the first night we wouldn’t have eaten anywhere else. 

Steakhouses: E3 Chophouse is in the most beautiful locations along the Nampa River. Highly recommend making a stop here for happy hour. The lavender honey slush was my favorite cocktail of the whole trip. Excellent steak and fantastic key lime pie will make it a memorable dinner. We’ve done 8th Street on past trips. Here you get to choose your steak and then grill it yourself. While a neat experience we have enjoyed other places more. Ore House was another local recommendation that we have added to our list to try on future trips. 

Italian: We decided to go with more classic Italian and choose Mazzola. Again great food. We loved the fried calamari as an appetizer and they do family-sized salads. Mambo looked good, too with a patio option and a slightly more modern Italian menu. 

Small Plates & Signature Cocktails: Jon is not a big fan of small plates but I convinced him to try Laundry, and I am glad we did. A fantastic collection of seasonal plates with a really cool vibe. Laundry is also known for its whiskey and tequila infusions, and craft cocktails. 

E3 Steakhouse Patio
How to Spend Your Time

While you might decide to simply eat your way through Steamboat, there are a plethora of other activities to fulfill your time. I’m going to specifically stick to the activities we have done during our summer trips. 

Golf: Jon and I are big fans of golfing and there are two courses we have spent time on. Let me preference by saying that I am by no means a pro golfer, probably somewhere below average but I do love it. Don’t let the challenge of these courses stop you from visiting them. The Haymaker is a wide-open course; however, it is easy to lose a ball with deep rough/long grass areas. Rolling Stone is a stunning course with incredible views. A river crosses through the course multiple times and it is common to catch sightings of wildlife. It was easy to rent clubs at both courses, but did add to the expense. If we had to make a choice Rolling Stone would be our pick. 

Horseback Riding: I don’t remember the name of the outfitter we used, but we did this on one of our family reunion trips. Half of the group did the trail ride and the other group rode a wagon to a meeting point where we then enjoyed a "cowboy" dinner together.  

Whitewater Rafting/Tubing: Whether you are looking for a thrill or want to more lazily float the Nampa these are two popular activities. Again, tons of guides offer these services and other companies that will rent you the equipment. 

Pro Rodeo: On Friday and Saturday nights from mid-June to mid-September you can catch the Steamboat Pro Rodeo. There are lots of options for food at the event as well as a bar to grab a cold one. 

Zip Line: I am not a huge fan of heights, but we had so much fun at the Steamboat Zip Line Adventures. You’ll get to see breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains from a whole different vantage point. 

Strawberry Park Hot Springs: We were scheduled to finally make a visit here and then it didn’t work out, so I have a few tips. According to the locals, Strawberry Park has become one of the biggest attractions in the Steamboat area no matter the time of year. It is slightly out of town, and you can visit the hot springs as a guest or stay at their hotel and have access. The hot springs do require a reservation (make this early!). However, we made an error. If you are not driving to the hot springs yourself, you need to book THEIR shuttle. We thought we could use our condo’s shuttle to get up there, but by the time we figured that out it was too late and we had to cancel our plans. There are hot springs in downtown Steamboat, but we’ve been told that Strawberry Park is substantially larger and the place you want to be. 

Gondola Ride: It is fun to take the gondola up the mountain. No matter the season the views are stunning. When we were there (June 2021) major renovations were happening to the gondola and at the base of the mountain so this area was all shut down. 

Where to Stay:

Jon’s family owns a timeshare at One Steamboat Place, located at the base of the mountain. The location, amenities, and condos themselves are fantastic. Most of the condos are 3-4 bedrooms, with large living rooms and kitchens. One of the other huge benefits is that they will shuttle you anywhere in town and offer complimentary pickup/drop off from the airport. I believe anyone can rent at One Steamboat Place, but you would want to call to get those details. 

Other options in that area include the Sheraton Resort Villas and Steamboat Grand. However, there are TONS of hotels, Airbnb and VRBO options in Steamboat. I think it would be fun to stay in downtown Steamboat sometime. If you have traveled there before and have a favorite place leave a comment below.

Other Things to Know 

You really can’t beat the summertime weather in Steamboat. Even when it is hot the lack of humidity is ideal. It is cool in the mornings, and be prepared for an afternoon rain shower – especially in June. However, any rain typically moves out as fast as it moves in. 

We fly into the Hayden airport when traveling to Steamboat. It is about a 30-minute drive from Hayden to Steamboat. While the flights are not exactly cheap, the time and money saved from flying into Denver, renting a car and then making the 3+ hour drive makes it simpler to choose Hayden. 

We spent three full days in Steamboat and then had two travel days on either side that allowed us an afternoon and morning. I felt like we got a lot done in this amount of time. I would really like to hike to Fish Creek Falls sometime. If we were going to try to fit everything that we did on this trip (two days of golf and an almost hot spring trip) I would definitely want to add another full day. 

Here is to all the summer travels! Make sure you don't miss any of my summer tips and finds by subscribing to my weekly newsletter

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Spring Loft Haul

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I LOVE the Loft. I would say almost half of my closet is LOFT, partially because the quality of their clothing is so good and it lasts forever. Once I had my "colors done" and finding out that I am a House of Colour Spring it was time to refresh my wardrobe. 

I loved these two outfits. One of the best things about Loft is that they also offer petite sizes. I am 5'2" so going with the petite in the coral dress made it the perfect length. See all the items I tried on in the LTK app or click on the photos below to be taken to each item.

I could have come home with a whole closet full of tops. I love these because they will be perfect for summer, but then I can easily layer them under a jacket or cardigan in the fall and winter. 

You can see the entire Loft try on here. Make sure you don't miss any tips and finds by subscribing to my weekly newsletter

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Small Business Gift Guide for Spring

This post is sponsored by Travel Iowa. All opinions are my own. 

Between year-end teacher's gifts, graduations, bridal showers and even Father's Day you are going to need to keep your gift closet stocked. This winter I was introduced to the Shop Iowa online marketplace. A one-shop stop to find hundreds of unique products from small business owners that makes gift giving easy.

I've pulled together a few of my favorite gift ideas, but you'll definitely want to check out the site yourself. I promised you'll find the perfect items to treat your friends, family, or even yourself. 

1. DIY Crossstitch Kit: I LOVE these kits. Either spend some time creating this work of art for your favorite person or send them the DIY and they can create the masterpiece themselves. 

2. Iowa 319 Ballcap: I am a 319 girl. Your favorite new grad, mom or dad can be repping in this hat all summer long. 

3. Almost Famous Popcorn: I LOVE visiting Almost Famous in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but it is even easier to order online. I am a sucker for lemon desserts so Lemon Cookie was an obvious choice for me, but they have some great sampler packs. 

4. Personalize Cookbook Holder: One of my favorite wedding gifts was a cookbook holder. It is the handiest thing while whipping up my favorite recipes, but it also looks super pretty on my kitchen counter. This one from Blossoming Creation can be customized with your favorite chef's name. 

5. Greeting Cards: You know one of my love languages is notecards so I made sure I grabbed a couple from Iron Leaf Cards.

6. Handmade Pottery: support local artists through the DKW Art Gallery in Marion, Iowa. Each mug is one of a kind and they offer free shipping. 

If there is anything that came out of a LONG 2020 it was an emphasis on supporting small businesses. The Shop Iowa website has made it super simple and FUN to find unique items. And if you are an Iowa small business owner reach out so you can get your items included! I can't wait to shop more goodies.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Iowa Best Burger Tour

This blog post was sponsored by the Iowa Beef Council. All opinions are my own. 

When you are a self-proclaimed foodie, and you get asked to try the best burgers in your state you instantly say yes! Each year Iowa Cattlemen's Association and Iowa Beef Council crown one restaurant as having the best burger in the Iowa. However, it is up to a secret group of individuals to taste test the Top 10 Burgers in Iowa. So while the secret judges were tasting and casting their votes I got to drive across the state and back and share my findings. 

My Top 3 Picks (in no particular order)

1. The Map Room, 416 3rd St. SE Cedar Rapids, IA
There is something about the seasoning that they use on their burgers that makes that beef flavor pop. The Map Room is a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that will surprise you with its internationally inspired burger recipes. Consider visiting on a Tuesday as once a month The Map Room participates in Cheeseburgers for Charity and donates 10% of their proceeds to a non-profit or fundraising effort. 

2. Bambinos, 102 N Lydia St., Ossian, IA
When small-town bar and hole in the wall collide you get Bambinos. You aren't going to find them on social media, but what you will find is the most AMAZING burger. So good that Bambinos ended up being named the 2021 Iowa's Best Burger. Sue, the cook and co-owner, has a heart of gold and is a true scratch-cook. We are already planning on making a trip back and getting in some golf at the Silver Springs Golf Course while in town. 

3. The Saucy Foccacia, 5100 Foundations Dr. NE #100, Cedar Rapids, IA
Eastern Iowa really brought it with their burgers! What started as a food truck has grown into two Cedar Rapids locations. Their burger has been named a Top 10 Best Burger five different years and I could taste why. I LOVED the buns they use for their burgers and they were so juicy without being greasy. You'll also want to grab some of their pickle fries. 

On our tour, I thought a lot about how hard these small business owners have worked to stay afloat this past year. Each day they work to grow their business by serving a product that my husband and I raise. Whether you order a burger from a restaurant like these or a fast-food joint, buy beef at a grocery store or directly from a farmer you support the beef industry and that means supporting farms like us

You can see a complete list of the 2021 Top 10 Burgers here. And if you want more behind the scenes of my tour make sure you check out my Burger Highlight on IG. Don't forget to follow @IowaBeefCouncil so you can have the opportunity to nominate your favorite burger joint for the 2022 Iowa's Best Burger Contest. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

House of Colour Experience

If you have been following along on Instagram I have stopped talking about my House of Colour experience and for good reason. I can say with certainty it was one of the best things I have done for myself. Plus, it was SO much fun. 

Kylie an Autumn, myself a Spring, Addie a Winter

Ironically, having your "colors done" was quite popular in the 80s. However, House of Colours techniques are a little different than your grandma or mom's color party experience. The ultimate goal is for you to discover your season, learn about the 36 colors that are in your season and then identify which of those colors are your wow colors. 

My color analysis was done with House of Colour Consultant Amy Savage, and two other friends Addie and Kylie joined in at the same time. We first walked you through whether you look better in blue-based (cool colors) or yellow-based colors (warm colors). Winter and Summer seasons are blue-based and Spring and Autumn are yellow-based. It is important that you are bare-faced and your hair is covered if you color your hair to allow your true skin tone to interact with the colored drapes. 

As Amy draped her silks around my shoulders I quickly watched the color in my cheeks brighten, eyes sparkle, and the shadows under my eyes disappear when the correct color season was shown. On the flip side when colors were too cool or too warm the shadows on my face were harsher, I looked washed out and tired. 

The only difference between these two pictures is the addition of a lipstick and my wow color silks.

After Amy determined that I was a Spring we moved in my wow colors. These are Spring colors that I can wear head to toe. Other spring colors look best on me if I wear them as an accent or top or bottom only. Amy also showed me what makeup colors will truly complement my season. To my surprise, brown mascara is best for me, and although I was slightly skeptical after wearing brown mascara for the past week I can truly tell a difference.  

So what happens next. I left with a book of swatches that show all my colors to help me identify what pieces I should be adding or removing from my closet. Unfortunately, black on my personal favorites is not in my season. This doesn't mean that I can't ever wear black again, but if I truly want to put my best foot forward there are other colors I should reach for. Also, just because I am a Spring doesn't mean I need to look like an Easter egg. Rich chocolate browns, tans, cream and dove grey are all in my color wheel and serve as great neutrals for me. 

I can't recommend the color analysis enough. The process took about four hours for all three of us to go through it. It does have to be done in person because colors aren't always accurate online. Next, I would love to do the style analysis which can be done online. There are consultants all over the U.S. but I can't say enough good things about Amy from Johnston, Iowa. 

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

One Day Board and Batten Bedroom Makeover

Have you ever moved into a space and said "one day we'll renovate, it is good enough for now"? We did just that when we bought our farm and moved into this house almost eight years ago. We painted a few other rooms in but knew one day we would do an entire first floor remodel. Well, this past week I got a little tired of waiting and decided to go for it. 

At the start of the year my husband, Jon was diagnosed with Spindle Cell Sarcoma which is a relatively rare soft tissue cancer. We were fortunate to be referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for his treatments which include radiation five times a week for three weeks, surgery, and then recovery. The drive is five hours round trip and we have been so grateful to the family members and friends that have spent time driving him back and forth each day. 

One of the most important things I can do for Jon is to make sure he gets rest. He has never liked our duvet insert or pillow. The walls were dark and uninspiring. So my wheels started to turn and I thought what if I could pull off a one day room makeover as a surprise while he was gone at treatment. 

A good friend of mine flips houses so I asked her if she thought I could pull off a transformation in 6.5 hours and she said no way. So I knew I would need to recruit some help. It took three of us working non stop to pull off the surprise. We finished 15 minutes before Jon and his driver pulled into the farm. I seriously have the best friends. 

Euro Shams (smaller 24x24 size) | Pillow Cases/Sheets in Ivory (another option) | King Size Pillowslumbar pillow (similar option, option) | Duvet Cover | Duvet Insert | Quilt Old (similar option) | Blanket (not visible but it is one of the comfiest things on our bed)

I knew that board and batten could be an easy way to make a big statement, but there are so many styles. I decided to go with a roughly 1/4 and 3/4 design considering it would be faster than doing the whole wall as squares and even if I did addition horizontal boards most of them would be covered by the bed.

I selected MDF boards that were 3.25 inches wide, and when with a 6-inch baseboard along the bottom. I only replaced the baseboard on the feature wall as I knew doing new baseboards and trim throughout was something that was a little behind my skillset and timelimit. 

Our walls are textured. For true board and batten you would cover the blank wall with a smooth board first before adding your crossbars, but since again we had a time limit and one day we'll still do the remodel I opted to skip that step. We painted the top board, two side boards (the ones against the outer walls) and the baseboard prior to installing with a nail gun. Although we still had to touch up the paint once the nail holes were filled, this prework made it so much fast because we didn't have to worry about any edging painting work. While the boards dried we painted the wall, then the installation of all the boards began. Lots of sites will recommend using liquid nails and a nail gun, however, we only used a nail gun.

Ordering oversized paint swatches from Samplize helped out so much. You can stick these huge paint samples to your wall to see how the color looks throughout the day. I choose Swiss Coffee for the feature board and batten wall and Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter for the other three walls. If in doubt paint it Revere Pewter. The color goes with everything and over the years I have convinced so many friends to use it in their house. Mindful Gray was a very close runner up for this project. We only did one coat of paint due to a short amount of time so we went with a higher quality paint for better coverage and fast drying time. I think there might have been only a couple wet spots as we were dragging furniture back in! 

We also never had side tables in our room. We figured that it was too tight of a fit. I did some measuring and found this skinny side table at 19 inches wide and it fits perfectly. Who knew the joy of not having to put your stuff on the ground would bring! 

When we got married one of the places we registered was Pottery Barn, and I can say the quality of their bedding is amazing. My tip for soon-to-be or current brides... get the GOOD bedding because it is really expensive to replace down the road. I also have always loved duvets with a cover instead of a comforter. Duvets are much less expensive to switch over a comforter and easy to wash. A lot of people cringe at white bedding but I love that you can bleach it. Plus, the quilt at the bottom of the bed I will pull over the top of the duvet if Miss Izzy, our Australian Shepard, decides she needs to be up there.

The key when mixing white bedding is to choose a white that doesn't lean too yellow and to make sure your fabrics have some texture. 

For more inspiration and step by step instructions on Board and Batten walls I suggest checking out: 

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Choosing Your Word of the Year

For the past several years I have chosen a Word of the Year. It is a way for me to stay grounded make sure that each goal, new challenge or endeavor truly aligns with what my focus is. 

I dive more into the process of how I select my word of the year into this Squad Life Podcast with Addie Yoder, and then recently was interviewed by Stacie McCracken of the Coalesce Network.

It can be a bit paralyzing choosing a word. The thing to keep in mind is that there is no wrong way to do it. You can change your word. You can keep your word for multiple years. I used the word Brave for two years. People don't have to understand your word. It is truly a personal decision. 

To give you some ideas I have put together a worksheet that can guide you through finding the word that will best represent you. 

Each year I also engrave my word on a necklace or bracelet so it can be a daily reminder. It is amazing that once you choose your word you will see it pop up more frequently. Kind of along the lines of buying a new car and then all of a sudden you see that same car everywhere. If can help design a word of the year jewelry piece for you please shoot me a message or take a peek at my Stella & Dot and Keep Collective boutique. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Top Finds of 2020


We had a lot of fun in 2020 swapping finds and favorites. For as much as we all stayed home this year, you all sure did like coats! What I happy to say is that all of these items are pieces I wear or use pretty much weekly. Except for that snack pack... that is all Jon! 

1. "The" Coat: Man you all loved this coat. It often dropped below $100 and you all snatched it up in a variety of colors. Remember if you grab it for yourself size down one. 

2. Stainless Tumblers: Not only did you buy these for yourself but lots of you told me that you bought the four-pack and gave them out as gifts! 

3. 100 Days of Brave Devotional: This is still one of my favorites. I reopen it often to reference back to pages I marked. 

4. Crave Snack Pack: Jon was given this as a gift this fall and he went crazy over it. Lots of you snatched it up to give as Christmas gifts. Don't forget Valentine's Day is coming up. 

5. Marc Jacobs Booties: I finally bought the suede pair and LOVE them. Then Jon surprised me with the black pair for Christmas. I hope you guys are loving yours just as much. 

6. Sticky Bra: I talked about this bra a bunch in my Insider's Club. I'm a size C and this is the most comfortable bra I own. 

7. Heated Vests: Both the men's and women's versions were top sellers. I know Jon and I glad we have ours while doing farm stuff because it is has been cold! Size up one in the lady's version. 

8. 3-in-1 Winter Jacket: You all went crazy over this jacket, and I am so glad I got mine. After I bought it many of you told me this is the coat you've been wearing for years. I have the olive green version but this camel color was a close runner up. 

9. Leopard Button Up: This is a bit of a splurge unless you get it on sale. I wear mine 2-3 times a week and it is SO warm. 

10. Masks: Everyone needed them this year, but these are my most comfortable ones and the ones I get the most compliments on. 

Were you surprised at anything that did or didn't make the list? Have your personal favorites? Make sure you share or shoot me a message on Instagram

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