Archive 2014 October

Deep sigh.

I’m in a rut.


I am.


I can feel it in my exasperated spirit and my easily annoyed attitude. I can sense it in how discouraged I get about menial things here in Fairbanks or how jealous I become about menial things every where else. The grass is perpetually looking greener everywhere but here and I don’t know what to do.


It’s been these last couple weeks.


It’s discouraging because since my friends left in July, I’ve felt pretty happy about Fairbanks and life in Alaska. They helped me see this place in the best light I ever had and I found myself upbeat and excited for the next year or so here.


And now I’m back to square two.


Square one would be the first couple months that I moved here and hated basically everything. I spent most of my time telling my husband I hated Alaska and requesting that he put in a packet to get us out here at once. So it could be worse, because today I’m feeling like I regressed, but not quite that much.


I can’t stop thinking about what’s next. The days that don’t involve anything exciting drag on and feel lifeless to me. I am constantly aching for the future. I feel hopeless in the present moment. Time has come to a stand still and I don’t know what I’m doing.


I’m not supposed to say this stuff. I’m married and I am lucky enough to live with my husband and that should be enough. Silly little girl. It should be enough that you can spend every single day with your husband. You don’t need friends, or your family, or a career in a bigger city, or nice weather, or vacations, or skylines, or anything else you love. He is enough.


Yeah.

About that.


I’ve never believed that. I have never in my life been taught or believed that one person should fulfill all your meaning in life, that one person should be the only reason for your happiness, that one person is all you need to live for.


My husband is a stellar guy. I mean top notch, no exaggeration, treats me like I am the amazing-independent-head strong-gorgeous-smart woman that I am. He is great. I honestly adore the heck out of him.


But he’s not enough.


Life has so many facets. So many people and experiences that change us and fulfill us. I was so full when I married my husband. So full. I had an amazing family, amazing friends, an amazing education, amazing job prospects, dreams, goals, experiences. He didn’t fulfill a void. He complimented all the great things I had going for me. He added to this beautiful life of mine in the biggest best way possible, but it was just an addition. He wasn’t the end all.


So I’m sad. Because all that other stuff and all those other people that make me, me are miles away from here. Sometimes I forget. For weeks and months I can forget and live passionately in the moment in Fairbanks. I can enjoy the gorgeous summers spent hiking and the chilly winters spent on ski slopes and watching the aurora borealis poke shine proudly in the sky each night. Experiencing all this with my husband helps me forget about all the things I left behind.


But then it creeps up on me like a monster in the night.


I remember those people I left behind made me, me. The beautiful state I once called home, I can barely afford to visit any more. I realize I can’t turn back the clock so instead I run towards the future, and get discouraged when it doesn’t arrive fast enough.


I want what’s next. I want the next place with my husband that we’ll live for 3-5 years and make home more than Fairbanks ever will be and possibly more than Minneapolis ever was. I want to make a life for myself in a place that’s more me. More cities. More warmth or more snow (Fairbanks has little of both). More accessible means to family and friends. More places to drive. More vacations. More shopping. More recycling. More liberals. More opportunities.


Ugh.


I’m whiny, discouraged, and sad. I know it doesn’t look good on me. It’s not attractive for a blog post and no one really wants to hear this stuff. Sadness isn’t glamorous or filtered. It’s raw and ugly. It’s a picture on Instagram with your blemishes still showing and something is in your teeth and you’re on your couch. We all like to pretend these moments don’t exist. But they do.


Life isn’t rainbows and sunshine. Another person isn’t the key to happiness. Moving far, far away doesn’t solve any problems or make you more cultured or worldly. Sometimes genuinely happy, content people get very sad. Sometimes we all fall into ruts.


I am hoping I find my way out of this one soon. I won’t find it in dreaming about the future. I’ve been trying and failing on that for weeks. I’ll find it here, in Fairbanks. I’ll find it before we even get close to being told our next duty station – much less move there.


I’ll find my way.


I just have to be sad today.


“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Camille Mae (2)

Food & Fitness Fridays: My Love Affair with Sugar

Food & Fitness Fridays: My Love Affair with Sugar

How does one avoid sugar? How?

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And for my last meal…

I crave sugar constantly. I would exaggerate and say it’s a drug, but no exaggeration is necessary. Sugar is literally a drug.

I’ve tried the quit sugar cold turkey method. I’ve tried the allow it in small doses method. I’ve tried eating it whenever I crave it (all the time?!) method. Nothing seems to be able to change my relationship with sugar, and I’m at a loss.

If anyone has some fool proof methods to make me view sugar as disgusting and not worthy of my obsession, please do tell. Please. My ass will thank you.

In the mean time, here are a few tricks that have kept me from gaining 100 lbs from my love affair with cookies, cakes, ice cream, chocolate, and more. I’m no expert with a Victoria’s Secret bod, but I’ve stayed relatively fit despite this problematic habit of mine.

1. Avoid. Don’t buy sugary treats. Don’t keep them in the house or at work or in your car. Don’t walk by them in the break room. Avoid the break room entirely if needed. Don’t stop anywhere with an ice cream store next to it. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. The sugar can’t harm you if you don’t have access to the goods.

2. When unable to avoid, Distract. When my husband is shoving an entire pint of ice cream into his mouth at once – I have to distract myself from grabbing a spoon and joining in. Drinking water. Chewing gum. Mindlessly chewing on peas or carrots or any other easy grab vegetable with low calories and low regrets. Anything to DISTRACT.

3. Remember. I know promoting self love and body positivity are really important, but when one of our clients – A BAKERY – brings in bags of yesterday’s cookies for the office to eat I have to get real and remember why I’m doing this. Looking at photos of my Crossfit inspirations or other fitness gurus I admire helps remind me WHY I’m saying no. I’ll quickly glance on Instagram at Revie Jane’s latest ab-tastic post or even a celeb swimsuit pic. It’s brutal, I know. But it’s a great reminder.

4. Control. When all else fails – practice the one trait I’m hypocritical preaching about because it’s my weakest. Self control. Eat ONE cookie. ONE piece of cake. ONE cupcake. 200 or 300 calories won’t kill me or anybody else. Heck it may even fit into my macros. The whole I’ll-stop-after-one is usually where I fail miserably.

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I might have real abs if I could stay away from sugar permanently…

If you thought I was joking, I’m devouring a cup of cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds at the moment. I’m justifying this snack because helllooooo pumpkin. Super food. I’ll ignore the butter and sugar it was doused in before baking…

If you’re looking for the perfect way to eat those health packed pumpkin seeds, here’s the recipe!

Also, I am excitedly typing this post on my brand spankin’ new computer. The keyboard works, the charger works, and everything loads in a timely manner so it’s better than any other computer I’ve had in the last three years.

Hope your weekend is filled with as little or as much sugar as your little heart desires!

“Unless life also hands you sugar and water, your lemonade is going to suck.”

Camille Mae (2)

Travel Tuesday: Mt. Healy

I was not what one would call “outdoorsy” before I met my husband. I detest camping, bugs are gross, and nature was always more of a hassle than an escape.

And then my husband (boyfriend at the time) took me hiking in Sierra Vista, Arizona in 2012. I saw nature from a new point of view. Literally. From up high looking down on this beautiful thing we call earth and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Hooked to the feeling of climbing as high as I possibly can and looking down at the vastness before me. No where gives me that feeling quite like Mt. Healy in Denali National Park and Preserve.

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Yep that view is real.

Mt. Healy Overlook is a path that can be found directly next to the Park’s Visitors Center. There are a series of short hikes behind the Center, one of which is the trail head for Mt. Healy. At first the path is flat, tar covered and easy but it begins to ascend rapidly after the first fifteen minutes.

The hike gets difficult quickly and since my husband has mile long legs, I haven’t made it through the hike without having to stop a handful of times.

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This is the view from one of the giant rocks we sprawled out on during one of our hikes to the overlook / summit. Not too shabby for a resting point.

The hike is through forests for just over an hour, but turns to shrubs, and then rocks. It’s a well worn path maintained by the park and hiked by many able visitors, so no worries about having to fight through brush or back country. Your biggest fight will be to catch your breath during the ascent. The tree line fades away just before the overlook, making it hard not to stop and gape at the view, but I fought the urge both times until I reached the overlook.

FullSizeRender(1)The wait was beyond worth it.

360 stunning mountain views of the Alaska Range. In September of 2013 when I first hiked Healy, I thought making it to the overlook was the most amazing view I’d ever seen.

This past summer I made it to the summit at 5,400 ft above sea level. We’d been better prepared, better fueled, and there was better weather – so in July we added two hours to the already 4ish hour hike and went with our two friends to the Mt. Healy Summit. The hike to the summit is not maintained by the park and has far less foot traffic, so it’s narrower with jutting rocks and less stable ground. But it is completely above the tree line so there’s no potential to get lost or side tracked despite the less stable trail.

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The trail follows the steep narrow ridge line up, up, up to the tippy top of Mt. Healy. You can see the path following the ridge in this photo, along with the STELLAR LANDSCAPE.

That view was even better once we cautiously stepped atop the summit.

It was terrifying and such an adrenaline rush. We were teetering on this narrow rock platform that if we were to step wrong, plummeted hundreds of feet into a deep valley below. But it was so worth it.

So. Worth. It.

IMG_890110354945_10154341187240037_7701675722488405148_n (1)I adore this hike. I adore hiking. I adore the rush. I adore the adrenaline pulsing through me when I glance down momentarily and realize how far up we’ve climbed and how far we’ve yet to go.

The Mt. Healy summit is the ultimate hike for the intermediate hiker who wants to be blown away by some of the best mountain views in the world. All of these photos were taken on my iPhone 5 and they do not do it justice.

Come to Alaska. Hike it for yourself. Find yourself amid the silence on a mountain top looking at a scene that will bring you to tears.

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“I like the mountains because they make me feel small. They help me sort out what’s important in life.”
Mark Obmascik, Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled–and Knuckleheaded–Quest for the Rocky Mountain High

Ethics & A Book Review: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield

Ethics & A Book Review: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield

I finished an entire book at Barnes & Noble on Sunday. Start to finish. An entire book.

My car was getting an oil change and they warned it’d be awhile because they were really backed up, so I sauntered over to B&N. I grabbed the newest book from one of my favorite authors and melted into one of those cozy chairs next to the round fireplace. Other Barnes & Noble locations have fireplaces right? It’s not just Fairbanks?

Oh man. It was so good. Curtis Sittenfeld never disappoints and her new book, Sisterland was no exception.

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The story follows two identical twin sisters and the intriguing psychic abilities they were born and have lived with their entire lives. The book is narrated by only one of the sisters, Kate, and bounces between the past and present. From growing up together, to drifting apart, and how they ended up where they are now. It’s an intriguing story that keeps you turning pages for more and more background to their present situation.

My favorite part of Sisterland is that the climax the reader thinks is building throughout the book shifts dramatically when it’s reached. The plot changes in a few short seconds, and I loved that there was hardly any foreshadowing of this event. I’m not a huge fan of predictability. Sittenfeld is a natural story teller so the book is enjoyable throughout the first three fourths, but when I hit the OH MY GOD moment, I could not put it down. I poured through the last quarter of the book with ferocity.

Like Sittenfeld’s other books – Prep, American Wife – I was left with a content, yet unsettled feeling when I reached the end. Not in the way that anything was left unsaid. Sittenfeld ties up all loose ends. The ending isn’t very happy; although it’s not necessarily sad either. It’s realistic. It’s a contentment despite a nagging feeling. It’s life.

This book has my full recommendation for anyone who enjoys a good fiction story about family! The paranormal part of it isn’t as big of a deal as the familial relationships, so if you’re solely interested in magic or paranormal – this won’t be for you. Another great review if you need further convincing can be found on NPR’s website.

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So 3.5 hours of reading later, and I had finished the book.

I reached an interesting predicament when I finished so quickly. I hadn’t bought the book. My intention was to sit down for 2 hours, maybe get half way through the book and then buy it on the way out to go get my oil-changed car.  But I was done, and it was unpaid for, so I lingered in the chair debating my options.

1. Buy the book because it was the right thing to do
2. Buy a different book because then I still bought an item, but read two books for the price of one
3. Buy a drink or baked good to pretend I’m a half-way decent person
4. Return the book and leave the store silently

To no one’s surprise who has ever known me in the history of my life….

I bought the book.

I’m a terrible liar and I get guilt gut for days about the silliest things. I’ve broken school rules and certain laws that society considers suggestions *cough* underage drinking *cough*, but I couldn’t ethically put the book back and leave the store with no purchases. And purchasing a different book or even a coffee would only make me feel guilty for getting a two-for-one deal.  To avoid all red faced, stammering, guilty conscious, stomach churning situations – I just bought the damn book.

It has now been added to our growing collection that I hope to turn into a lovely library at our next home, but is currently crammed into a free standing, overflowing bookcase.

Oh, and my car took 5 hours. After leaving Barnes and Noble, I had my husband pick me up. We went out for sushi and went shopping. It was a lovely, productive Sunday despite the oil change struggles.

Camille Mae (2)

Food & Fitness Friday: Cardio Crazy or Weights for Days?

I have ventured down both of these paths and when it comes to my body and my health, the advice columns have it right. Both. Both are needed for an all around fit, healthy lifestyle. Well at least for me.

As I’ve referenced in previous posts, I was the cardio queen in college. Running outside or on treadmills, stair steppers, ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowing machines. I did it all. And only all cardio. If your goal is to be skinny – just skinny, solely skinny – this works wonders. Don’t expect to get abs or leg definition. Don’t hope that all that magical cardio will make you look like a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader or an Olympian or whoever else you idolize. You won’t get muscle. You get fat loss, muscle loss, and skinny.

I eventually became bored of this regiment. I saw the “fit is the new skinny” movement and I was intrigued. I tried lifting weights for a bit on my own, and then I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere so I joined Crossfit.

For six months I poured myself into Crossfit with limited running and tons of weight lifting and strength. The Workouts-of-the-Day are high intensity so they resembled cardio, but if we’re being realistic, I was tossing 14 lb balls as high up on wall as I could get them and doing sets of 130-lb dead lifts. This was not your cardio bunny’s cardio.I told myself all this muscle tearing and healing needed fuel, so I let myself eat whenever.

Well 15 lbs later and I realized concentrating on one OR the other did not work for me. I put on and lose weight too easily. If I limit what I eat and runthe weight sheds with the muscle in weeks. If I eat whenever I’m hungry and lift, it packs on like crazy. 

Balance. My body was (still is) aching for balance.

SO I went back to running and stayed in Crossfit and I’m going to test this out the next six months. My typical weeks now look like:

Monday – Crossfit
Tuesday – Crossfit
Wednesday – Run
Thursday – REST
Friday – Crossfit
Saturday – Run and/or Yoga
Sunday – Run or REST (depending on exhaustion levels that week)

I try to do 3 runs (5K – 6 miles), 3 Crossfit classes, and one serious rest day. This fluctuates weekly because I always listen to my body. That’s the one thing I’ve learned from working out frequently – constantly being aware of what aches and what needs to heal.

This week in particular has been rough.  I’m nursing my upper right back because of an old injury that occasionally flares up and shin splints. Oh my good god – shin splints. If any runners (I’m convinced it’s also Double Unders from Crossfit) have any advice on how to get rid of shin splints, I would be so grateful!

This is me. Right now.

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Someone, help a girl out.

But besides all the injuries this week, running and Crossfit seem to be working! I’m not gaining weight rapidly and I’m still maintaining muscle. Brace yourselves for a super terrible post-workout photo. What is this? Why can’t I smile?

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It could be cardio. It could be weights. But I have a strong hunch it’s a combination of both. Eeeeek! Proud of all my hard work this year even if it took FOREVER to figure out what works for me.

It might take some trial and error – a majority of cardio or a majority of weights, 50/50, or maybe some combination of 75/25. There seems to be a perfect recipe for everyone. I have friends who swear by yoga, by running daily, and by solely Crossfit.

This is what works for me.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
Agatha Christie

Camille Mae (2)

***I am not a nutritionist, physical therapist, trainer, or a professional in any health related field. My opinions are based off of my experiences***

Travel Tuesday: Calling All Wanna-Be Travelers

Travel Tuesday: Calling All Wanna-Be Travelers

Including me. Yep, I said it. I’m a fraud. I write about traveling and I’m basically just a wanna-be.

I mean, can I really call myself a traveler if I’ve never left the U.S.?

The average person would argue, no. I have yet to experience diverse cultures and societies. I have yet to see true poverty in person and to marvel at historical landmarks built before America was even “discovered” by Europeans. I have yet to be in a place where an entire race of people speak another language and I am the one trying to desperately communicate and understand what is going on. I’m no world traveler.

But I am hungry for travel.

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Mt. Healy Overlook, Denali National Park & Preserve, September 2013

I have seized every viable opportunity since I was 15 years old to see as much of the world as I can, as far away as I can. Normal obstacles have prevented me from stepping foot on foreign soil. This is not a pity party or a plea to my woeful childhood. My parents did everything they could for us. Travel was unnecessary and just not within our means. Once I graduated and began to attend college, I realized how expensive the “real world” was, and taking out thousands to study abroad was not feasible. With scholarships, work, good grades, and one loan, I was able to pay for college. I couldn’t justifying adding thousands for a plane ticket, trips, food, alcohol, and shopping in a foreign country with my peers.

Instead I made use of what I could afford. Road trips with friends. Trips around the U.S. to visit my now-husband. Weekend excursions around the Midwest to see places I’d never been. I’ve been to Hawaii & Alaska. It may not be a European backpacking adventure or a mission trip to Latin America, but how many people can say they’ve been to both of the non-continental U.S. states?

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Maui, Hawaii with my very best friend in 2010.

I’m proud of the traveling I have done, and I intend to do much more. I know it’s my determination to continue to see the world within my means that makes me a traveler. That drive is what makes anyone who desires to experience new places and new things a traveler.

In the past, I have felt so uncultured and inadequate watching my college peers make month or semester long trips to South America and Europe. I have felt envious and annoyed at my situation. If I’d only taken out the big loan and studied abroad in college, or if only my parents had sent me on a church trip to a foreign country or on one of those high school abroad programs. And then I remember where I’m from. The tiny small town in Northern Minnesota with plenty of kids who have wished to travel and to experience more but lacked even the opportunities to leave the state or the Midwest. They have not been able to see the things I have in Florida or Arizona or Colorado or Washington D.C., much less Hawaii or Alaska.

Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

I am a traveler. A U.S. traveler for now.

I’m no expert on foreign airlines, but I can tell you how to survive a 6 hour red eye on a flight to or from Alaska. I can’t tell you which Caribbean islands have the bluest waters, but I can tell you which ones in Maui do. I’ve never been to the Louvre, but I can guarantee the Holocaust Museum in D.C. is the most moving, heart breaking museum I’ll ever visit. I can’t show you pictures of living in a flat in Roma, but I can take pictures of my backyard and the birch trees that stretch to the clouds and the mountains of the Alaska Range peaking over them in the distance.

I’m not cultured or a world traveler.

But I am open minded, saving my pennies, and will be someday.

Camille Mae (2)

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

S C U L P T U R E  &  A R T

5 random FACTS about me: 

1. I don’t can’t drink coffee
2. I’ve been a New England Patriots fan since Tom Brady won his first Superbowl against the Rams in 2002 when I was 10 years old. I decided to cheer for the Pats that day because I thought Brady was cute…
3. I went from picking onions out of every piece of food until I was 21 years old, to using them in almost all my recipes.
4. I’ve never broken a bone.
5. I can sit in the Lotus position without stretching or thinking twice because of how often I used to do it for fun as a kid.

4 THINGS about today:

1. It snowed! A gorgeous, fluffy, sticky, tree hugging snow.
2. Despite having mastered double unders at Crossfit last week, I’ve regressed and was only able to do a few in a row today. Frustrating.
3. I broke a braces bracket on pizza for the first time ever. I think this is a sign they need to come off. Or that I need to stop eating pizza. Either way.
4. I’ve had way too many carbs already today but the husband is trying to bribe me to go out with him using margaritas and you know what – it’s working.

3 things I’m THRILLED about happening: 

1. Opening weekend at Moose Mountain
2. My trip to Minnesota in January
3. The holidays and all the decorating, music, and good feels that come with them

2 things I’m THANKFUL for today: 

1. Good health. For the first time in weeks I have no congestion, dry cough, or sickness of any kind.
2. The sweetest husband

1 QUOTE to sum it all up: 

“We are all going, I thought, and it applies to turtles and turtlenecks, Alaska the girl and Alaska the place, because nothing can last, not even the earth itself. The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire, we’d learned, and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering. When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.”
John Green, Looking for Alask

Enjoy your weekend folks!

Camille Mae (2)

Food & Fitness Fridays: The lazy person’s guide to eating healthy dinners ALL week

Food & Fitness Fridays: The lazy person’s guide to eating healthy dinners ALL week

When I come home after a long day of work + my post-work workout, I’m always starving.

I usually stop eating around 1:30-2:00 pm during the weekdays so I can hit my workout hard at 4pm and finish by 5pm without feeling too full or too hungry during that time span. Immediately after working out, I eat something to recover. Protein bars are my usual go to, but sometimes it’s fruit, and other times it’s lunch meat. After I eat that quick recovery fuel, then I think about dinner.

When my husband isn’t home, I’m the laziest healthy person on earth. I regress back to the girl in her first apartment at 19 who on more than one occasion, put spaghetti sauce on a piece of toast and sprinkled some Italian seasoning and mozzarella cheese on top and called it pizza. I would eat cold green beans out of the can. I justified all of these foods by arguing at least it wasn’t hot pockets or ramen noodles. My roommates were appalled. Fast forward three years later and when I don’t have anyone to cook for – spaghetti sauce on bread sounds amazing. Anything that doesn’t require actual effort sounds amazing.

Since it’s a little less unacceptable now that I have a fully functional kitchen and am capable of cooking, I have created the perfect dinner variation that I will eat for days on end when I’m alone. Days.

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Tell me your mouth isn’t watering.
My Sunday grocery list for my “super simple, healthy as hell dinners for a week”:

– 1 package All-Natural or Organic Chicken Sausage (Aidells is my favorite) – It’s so much easier to cook than raw chicken & already comes seasoned. Insert clapping emoji.
– 1 box Morning Star Farms Veggie Burgers – They have mushroom, chick pea, black beans, and more. Pick your favorite!
– 3 bags of frozen vegetables – California, Stir Fry, Dark Leafy Greens, etc.
– Make sure you have soy sauce, chicken seasoning, and Frank’s

Are you ready for this?

Step 1 for us lazy people: Either a) cut up a chicken sausage or b) crumble up a veggie burger.

Step 2: Cook choice meat and A LOT of vegetables in a pan with coconut oil. I use at least a half bag of frozen vegetables for every meal. Feel free to add another half a burger or half a chicken sausage if you’re feeling ravenous.

Step 3: Sprinkle chicken seasoning on meat/veggie mix, or use soy sauce if you’re feeling that. There’s really no rules, so do what feels right. Saute until veggies are soft and meat is cooked through.

Step 4: Put on plate, apply generous amount of Frank’s hot sauce (this may just be me) and eat.

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Crazy simple, ridiculously delicious, and HEALTHY dinner that requires almost no effort. I have mastered lazy, health guys. I even had healthy dessert tonight! I am still debating whether those two words should go hand in hand…

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I wanted to love it. I saw Arctic Zero on the top shelf of the frozen goods section at Fred Meyer and my eyes lit up with excitement. One hundred and fifty freaking calories for a whole pint. How could I not buy three immediately?! Even if the consistency was a little off I could pretend it was ice cream, right?

Uh, yeah. About that. Here’s my breakdown.

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Consistency: A win for me. Letting it sit for fifteen minutes and then dipping in my spoon – it was a smooth, easily scooped ice-cream consistency.

Taste: Fail. It was bland, not creamy, and tasted artificial. The Mint Chocolate Chip was the best tasting between that, Cookies & Cream, and Vanilla Maple. Still not great. It wants to be sweet and creamy, but it misses the taste by a long shot.

Overall: The biggest plus for me is I got bored of eating it after a few bites. I’m hoping the three pints I bought will be a good deterrent the next couple weeks when I have the urge to dig into my husband’s 2500 calorie Reese’s pieces chocolate fudge marshmallow dream boat ice cream. Lazily taking bites of Arctic Zero may at least distract me even if it doesn’t fulfill my sweet tooth. The biggest negative for me? It didn’t sit very well. I wasn’t sick by any means, but my stomach was churning a little and I think that had something to do with the whey protein (which I never handle well). I’m not sure I’ll buy it again. To get a better tasting, better sitting ice cream, I’d take a few more calories.

Any suggestions for an ice cream that’s maybe around 300-400 calories a pint? Do you have any lazy, but healthy, dinners up your sleeve?

Travel Tuesday (er, sorta): Delta Junction

(Oh it’s not Tuesday? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of living thousands of miles away in Alaska…)

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On Saturday I made the hour and a half drive to the Delta Junction / Fort Greely area to visit my husband. He’s been in the field for two weeks at Fort Greely – located about 5 miles past Delta Junction – but had a free Saturday. The catch? He had to stay near Fort Greely to keep on an eye on equipment since they still had a week left to train. Since he couldn’t visit me, I decided to visit him.

The drive from Fairbanks to Fort Greely is gorgeous. Pretty much any direction you drive out of the valley where Fairbanks & North Pole reside becomes beautiful rolling hills that turn into stunning mountain ranges. Being stuck in the valley most of the time, I forget how beautiful Alaska is if I just take a 30 minute drive.

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Salcha, Alaska. Only about 25 minutes out of Fairbanks.
Arriving in Fort Greeley was, as always, a rush of excitement to see my husband after weeks away. We’ve done five months before so two weeks ain’t nothing, but it’s always an exciting affair. I’m pretty much head over heels, 16-year old teen heart-throbbing on him whenever we reunite. Call me crazy. I love that guy.

Our first adventure of the day was to hike Donnelly Dome.

This turned into quite the fiasco (for me any way). I had read online of a trail head and an easy hike right up to the top and right back down. 2 or so hours is how the article described the hike. We’ve done much longer hikes so when I forgot my water bottle and didn’t notice until 15 minutes in, I shrugged it off. I could definitely make it another 1 hour & 45 minutes instead of losing a half hour.

Well…

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My husband captured my feelings about the hike stunningly well. That’s a small section of Donnelly Dome behind me.
It turns out there was no trail head. We searched and searched before opting for our own path because it looked seemingly straight forward and Michael is fairly well-versed in bush hiking.

Insert muskeg and tree brush taller than us and thick as could be. We spent easily 1.5 hours battling the sinking ground and then fighting our way through this brush. It was miserable. I mean we were together and laughing and joking about how terrible of an idea this was on my part, but it was not fun.

A little snippet of the brush...
A little snippet of the brush…and me trying to make my way through it.

When we finally made it to an overlook above most of that terrible vegetation, we realized we still had quite the climb and I was getting thirsty. Note: I had also just recovered from my cold with some minor coughing still present so my energy levels were at rock bottom.

At the two hour mark, I gave up. I’d been forced to stop for a 1-minute breather about three times because the current state of the climb was a steep up-hill scramble. I was begin to get anxious and was uncertain of how my body would handle the continued climb.

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Hands on the hip. All sass at this point.

I HATE giving up on hikes. One of the first hikes we ever took together I didn’t climb the last little section to reach the highest point because I felt “tired” and I’ve always regretted it. But on the Donnelly Dome hike this weekend, I was getting scared. Scared that I’d get too dehydrated or light headed or short of breath to finish the hike…and we still didn’t have a clue how we’d find the car besides sort-of, kind-of going back the way we came.

So I made my way down to a ledge and waited, meditated, and ate an apple while Michael finished the hike with my camera and got some shots from the top.

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We finished the hike down which was much easier, but still a pain in the ass considering we’d deviated from the originally path and had traded most of the brush for slippery snow and rocks. We each fell about four times before we hit the base. Since I was headed towards water instead of away from it though, my sense of humor had returned.

3 hours and 45 minutes later we got back to the car and each demolished a bottle of water before vowing to 1) Never try to make our own trail again and 2) Always bring our camelbacks (WHAT WAS I THINKING).

Delta Junction 

A tiny little town between Fairbanks and the Canadian border, known for being the end of the ALCAN (Alaska-Canadian Highway). There is not a whole lot to see or do in Delta Junction, but it does offer up stunning views of the Alaska Range from pretty much anywhere in town. If you’re driving through (because you’re more than likely not visiting Delta Junction) here’s what I’d recommend.

TO EAT: 

1. Taste of Europe – a cute little restaurant that looks incredibly out of place in this blue-collar, predominantly caucasian town. The food was pretty good for such limited options in town, with unique Russian & Ukrainian dishes I haven’t seen before. I would highly recommend the Tiramisu for dessert!

2. The Alaskan Steak House – I’ve eaten there the only other time I’ve visited Delta Junction and it was your typical small town diner, but the breakfasts were hearty and delicious (likely soaked in butter, but I’m not one to complain!).

3. Pizza Bella Restaurant – This review comes via word of mouth in Fort Greeley. The families stationed here seem to love this one!

TO DO: 

1. Anything outdoorsy. The area is surrounded by gorgeous lakes and rivers, lush forests, and wonderful hiking opportunities. Take your fishing pole and head down to Clearwater River or Quartz Lake just out of town. Apparently moose hunting is quite good around the Fort Greeley area and considering I saw a big brute leaving town on Saturday, I’d have to agree. Kayaking any of the beautiful bodies of water in this area would be a lot of fun. Hike any of the domes, overlooks, or nearby mountains. Embrace nature here in Delta Junction, because that’s about all you’re going to find.

2. Continue on down the Alaskan Highway or the Richardson because the views are supposed to get only bigger and better as you head south from Delta Junction!

3. See #1. No really. The museum & visitor’s center seemed pretty bland from the few minutes we spent there. The town ends if you blink twice so I don’t think I missed anything else. GET OUTSIDE!

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Us cheesin’ it up at Clearwater River

It’s a quaint little place, and great for anyone road tripping through Alaska. Whether you’re making the loop around the Parks and Richardson Highways, or whether you’re driving the ALCAN, you’ll quickly discover stopping at every opportunity to get gas & food is wise. Delta Junction is a great place that offers both to the weary traveler.

Despite our hiking fiasco I had a great day with my husband. We followed the hike with a huge plate of nachos at Fort Greely’s community center, a few rounds of pool, touring his hangar, exploring town, hanging out by a sweet little river, a nice dinner at Taste of Europe, and snapping pics of the views with my new camera.

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Watching the sunset from Fort Greely

“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”

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