Bucket List

More Adventures In My 37th Year of Life!

So, if you aren’t in the know, I decided last April to participate in  37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life!  It has been a fabulous journey thus far, and the adventures continue…

#24 – Have Some Fun at The Mall of America/Nickelodeon Universe®IMG_2639IMG_2656

So, I fly in to St. Paul/Minneapolis often when I go to visit family, but rarely do I make an effort to go and visit the mall just for fun. So, that was exactly my plan on my latest trip home. My family and I spent the day at Nickelodeon Universe® which is an indoor theme park that features seven acres of unique attractions and entertainment. We were definitely entertained.  My oldest niece, who is seven, wasn’t scared at all, and rode on every ride with us.  Her favorite was this “skateboard” ride otherwise known as Avatar Airbender. I liked the FAIRLY ODD COASTER, Ghost Blasters, and  Pepsi Orange Streak, the best! I love rides!  The only thing I wish I had done was get a photo with Sponge Bob.  I chickened out –  LOL!

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#25 – Go to a Restaurant I Have Never Been To: Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company

So, I have always wanted to go to Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and finally made it happen. My family and I were pleased with the food, service and atmosphere, and we had a grand time!  I especially loved the Forest Gump Trivia Time with the waitstaff!

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#27 – Eat at the The Nook

The Nook is one of the recommendations made by Food Network Star, Guy Ferrari.  In fact this restaurant has, according to Guy, the #3 Best Burger of all time: Guys Big Bite!  This burger was worth the extra-special trip!!!!  It is a pepperjack, stuffed burger with bacon  topped with roast beef and cheddar.  I am salivating just thinking about it. The cheese was just oozing out! While my other family members weren’t “that” impressed (FYI: they didn’t have this exact burger), I was blown away!!!!  You must go and try THIS burger!  An extra bonus to this trip, was that The Nook is very near my Alma Mater!  How cool is that!July 2014 396

#28 – Eat Tofu

Confession:  I ate tofu and I liked it! Yes, indeed, I loved this tofu!   To the average Joe, tofu, is not something one craves, but since my first encounter with Spicy Baked Marinated Tofu with Vibrant Cabbage Stir Fry, I can’t stop thinking about it. My dad and I regularly talk about this unfathomably fantastic recipe! Kudos to my sister-in-law who is the best cook in all the world and made us this dish!! Seriously! As a family of carnivores, we usually cannot fathom a meal without meat. In fact, we were trying to figure out what we would do “if” we didn’t like it, but no one needed to do that because it was SENSATONAL! Now, we cannot fathom a week without this dish.  YUMMY!tofu

#29 – Learn to make my own salad dressing

I am trying to be more healthy these days, so ranch or Caesar dressing just doesn’t cut it anymore.  My faves have too many calories and too much fat and sugar.  So, I decided to take a crack at making my own salad dressing.  After many, many, MANY failed attempts, I have finally found the best dressing recipe (for me).

1/4 cup of white vinegar

3 TBL water

2 TBL Wildtree Italian Salad Dressing mix

1/2 cup of natural grapeseed oil

If you are curious about this recipe, you can purchase the product or others like it from the following link: http://www.mywildtree.com/shop/catalog.aspx – My friend Stephanie will gladly help you and their products are fabulous!!

#30 – (impromptu) Girls Night at the  Dueling Piano Bar in Houston

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If you know me at all, I don’t do impromptu well.  But on a whim, I got dolled up and drove to Houston to meet two of my girlfriends for a Girls Night Out!! It was truly one of my most exciting, personal, just for fun, nights I have ever experienced!  The Dueling Piano bar is the bombdiggity!  I could have stayed there all night long and I hope to return again soon!!!  It was so pleasing! From my requests one of the pianists said, “do you like oldies?”  Why yes I do, how did you guess?!  Could it have been that my list included “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Teenager in Love,” “Sittin’ On Top of the Bay,” “Hello, Mary Lou,” “Elvira,” etc.

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The Adventures Continue…

As I have embarked on 37 Adventures For My 37th Year of Life I have discovered that the best ones are those unplanned, those done on a whim, simply to live life to the fullest! And that is exactly what I have been doing since my 37th birthday! To learn more about my 37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life, you can click on the above link to read my blog!

So, the adventures continue…

#16 – Visit a Farmer’s Market (on side of the road)

Truth be told, when I travel, I am almost always traveling with my youth group and I don’t have the opportunity to stop and visit any specialty stores along the way.  So, on one of my last trips to Houston I decided to stop and check out a farmer’s market on the side of the road.  I have seen it hundreds of times and finally took the time to stop.  Below are some of the photos.

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Rule #1 – bring cash!  Sadly, the beautifully displayed fruits and vegetables couldn’t be purchased by ME that day because “no cash, no buy.” Regretfully, I got into my car and drove home without any yummy veggies or fruits to eat. I was so disappointed. This was about the only time I have ever regretted not carrying cash.

#17 – Meet Sam Houston

As one who rarely has taken road trips, I decided to take the opportunity this year to do more of them. So, a few months ago, I had the opportunity to go and visit some friends in Huntsville, Texas!  I knew this would be a great adventure and I had always wanted to stop and meet Sam Houston! I finally did!  I was also able to visit the Campus of Sam Houston State University and reminisce with one of my college roommates and her husband. This trip made me wonder why it has taken me so long to make impromptu road trips! It was wonderful!


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#18 – Eat Pie at Royer’s Pie Haven

Hmmm, I guess I had forgotten how many road trips I have taken in my 37th year of life?  It seems it is more than the last 36 years combined!  Okay, so maybe not, but pretty close.   About a month ago I took the opportunity to go to Austin to visit some friends.  There was no doubt that my first stop on the trip was to eat pie at Royer’s Pie Haven.  I love pie! June 2014 076Pie is one my most favorite things, and so when I learned of this pie place, I just had to stop and kick up my feet, literally.

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The decor and ambiance was fabulous and I stayed there for more than a few hours, just relaxing and eating their awesome pie!  To learn more about Royer’s Pie Haven you can go to their website at: http://royerspiehaven.com/

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#19 – Trip to the Largest Whole Foods Store I Have Ever Seen

Due to my recent health kick, I was beyond excited to visit one of the largest Whole Foods store I have ever seen.  I’m not sure that it is “truly” the largest, but it was the size of a mall.  I mean, it had its own parking GARAGE.  I entered like a tourist, happily snapping photos and surely annoying all the regular shoppers.  Each aisle I perused contained at least one and usually dozens of  strange and unique items.  If I was rich, I would have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying out their amazing selections. These are just a few of the shots I took. I have dozens of others!

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This particular Whole Foods even had a full service bar, along with a Fresh Seafood bar and numerous buffets.  I have never seen anything like it.  At 5pm this Whole Foods store was the “Happening Place” to meet for a fine dinner and delicious drinks.  I will most certainly go back there to experience it again!

#20 – Go Fishing From a Boat

Though I have gone fishing a couple times in my life, I have never actually fished from a boat.  Over the 4th of July, I finally had the opportunity to do so, and I caught a fish!  It was a black crappie, and I am not ashamed to admit that I was over the moon about it. I could have fished all day and truly believe I have found my new hobby! Anyone want to go fishing with me?

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#21 – Watch a Sunrise and Sunset in the Same Day

I am not an early riser, in the least bit, however, someone suggested that this be one of my great adventures and I just had to do it.  I got up at 6am this morning and was able to observe the beautiful sunrise over the lake.  I had never actually sat in silence that long and watched the sun inch its way upward. It was mesmerizing!

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About fourteen hours later, I was blessed to witness that very same sun setting on the horizon!  I wasn’t at the lake, but the sunset was still amazing and this was a fabulous adventure that I hope to participate in many more times!  God is such an amazing artist!

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#22 – Make Homemade Ice Cream

I love ice cream, especially Blue Bell.  Unfortunately, I have never made homemade ice cream, until now! With the help of a great team of friends, I was able to be a part of making homemade ice cream by using a delicious recipe passed on from generation to generation!

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#23 – Go Star Gazing

Where I live, the evening sky is orange and you can barely see the twinkling stars. That is one thing I really miss about where I grew up. We used get on our roof and watch the stars for hours.  Unfortunately, I haven’t made the time to star gaze… until this weekend! In the darkness of the night, as the locust chirped and frogs croaked, I reminisced about the traveling Planetarium that used to come to our school. That was my favorite day of the school year!  At thirty-seven years old, I plopped myself on the floor of the pontoon boat with two of my students and anxiously observed the beautiful stars that God created!!  To top it off, we were greatly blessed to observe three shooting stars! AMAZING!  We all made a wish three times over!!

#23 – Ride Big Bertha

I have never had the joy of being pulled behind a boat on a tube, but I can finally say that I have!  It was so much fun to ride Big Bertha (that’s the name of the tube)! Bring on the waves!

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 Stay tuned to my blog for more of my 37 great adventures,

and I want to encourage you and yours to get out there and live life to the fullest. Participate in as many adventures as you can! It will fill your life with so much joy!

 

The Adventures Continue…

My deepest apologies. It feels like a decade has passed since I last blogged.  Life happened, but today, I wanted to take time to update you on more of my 37 Adventures For My 37th Year of Life!

Adventure #10 – Serving at the Compassion Table for Matthew West and Mercy Me Concert

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One of my greatest passions is the non-profit organization called Compassion International.  Not only do I sponsor two beautiful girls from Rwanda, but I am also a Child Advocate and have the privilege of working at Compassion tables at local Christian concerts. The purpose is to “use my  gifts and influence to raise awareness of the needs of impoverished children and encourage others to respond to the biblical mandate to love the poor.”   This we do, not because we have to, but because we know God has asked us to take care of those less fortunate,  and furthermore, we know first hand what a blessing being a sponsor is!  Both concerts were AMAZING, hundreds of children have been sponsored, and I am having the time of my life serving in this capacity! FYI: I continue to feel God moving me to sponsor yet another child through Compassion, but in light of the next adventure, I want to be sure I am being financially responsible, because once I commit, I am committing to sponsoring these children for their lifetime, not just a few years.

Adventure #11 – Car Shopping

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Well, I never intended to have this as one of my adventures, but God certainly has a sense of humor.  About a month ago, I was in a car accident. By the grace of God I was not injured severely, but my car was nearly totaled, and while the insurance went back and forth about whether or not to “total” my car out, I decided to be proactive and start looking for another one.  In the mean time, and I mean, MEAN TIME, my insurance provided me with a brand new 2014 Hyundai Elantra to drive around for sixteen days.  Nice move!!!  I mean, do the car dealerships give the car rental places some sort of incentives? “Hey, this chick just got in a wreck so be sure to give her the newest version of the car she presently has.” (wink, wink – Insert snide laugh here.)   Well, I fell in love with the rental and specifically the Desert Bronze variety while shopping around.  I have  since decided to keep my “green machine” (also a Hyundai Elantra) for a bit longer, as they did not total it. But I still covet this beautiful car (see above).  My car shopping experience was one that I wouldn’t recommend a person participate in on a regular basis.  The games, hoops, and sometimes ridiculous conversations you have to go through caused me great anxiety.  On a positive note, I believe when I am finally ready to sign on the dotted line,  I will know exactly what to do and not to do to get the best deal.  But holding true to my values, I wish to follow Dave Ramsey’s tips for purchasing a car…so cash it will need to be when the time comes.  Check out the video below for Dave Ramsey’s Tips!  This video is a wealth of information. No car note for this chick-a-dee!

Adventure #12 – Lupus Walk for Team Sandy

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In April I joined a group of friends and participated in the “Walk to End Lupus Now” in honor of my friend Sandy.  We organized “Team Sandy” and enjoyed a beautiful day in God’s creation, walking for a great cause!  Please continue to pray for Sandy and the hundreds of thousands of others who struggle daily with this debilitating disease.

Adventure #13 – Road Trip!

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I never take a road trip with little to no preparation, but upon receiving my car back after a 16-day hiatus , I decided to test out the fine work done on my car, and drove to College Station and back for a former student’s wedding! It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony and fabulous reception.  On the way to the wedding I was stoked to stop at Buccee’s, which if you are unfamiliar,  is an exceptionally clean and obnoxiously big gas station the size of Texas. Think mall-size, here.  It is an incredible place and while I have stopped here many times on youth trips, I am unable to slowly peruse the shelves and look at every single item deciding whether I need it or not, because I am working.  Finally, this road trip allowed me to take my dear old time and enjoy the Buccee’s experience!  I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall in “that” brainstorming session when someone spoke up and said, “I have this idea.  We are going to create a gas station the size of a mall. We will have a mascot, a beaver, and people will love him. They will even buy bumper stickers and nightgowns with his face on it.  Yeah! If we build it they will come.”  Ummmm, yeah right! Well, the naysayers can squawk all they want because Buccee’s is HUGE and thousands go there, including me.  Ahhhh, I can hardly wait to go back again!  I definitely see another road trip in my future!

Adventure #14 – Biggest Loser 5K

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I ran my fastest time for this 5K race – 31.42!!  To say I was excited is an understatement.  If you have been following my blog at all, you might remember that I had originally signed up to run my first Biggest Loser Half Marathon, but due to a five month illness, I was unable to do so. Rather than completely bowing out of the race, I chose to run the 5K instead. I am so glad I did! I also got to meet Dan, Jackie, Vinny and Bobby, former Biggest Loser Contestants. I was star struck and paraded around like a giddy, twelve year old school girl, but I didn’t care!  They have each been an inspiration to me while watching the show, and I was gushing!

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Adventure #15 – Vegetarian “Meatless” Salisbury Steak

May 2014 002I know what you are thinking.  Disgusting, right?  Wrong?  While on my latest 21-Day Standard Process Cleanse, I was inspired to try different foods and while searching for recipes to make with lentils, I came upon this gem!

YUMMO!

I would highly recommend going out of your comfort zone and trying different recipes. I would have never, ever tried this before, but I did, and I liked it! A LOT!

Stay tuned to my blog for more updates on my 37 adventures for my 37th year of life!

My Next Adventure(s)

So, I began my quest a few weeks ago to participate in   “37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life”  and I am so eager to participate in what God has planned! Adventure number two began with an impromptu invitation from friends to attend the county fair!  I was beyond excited because 1) I had never been to the County Fair 2) It was a surprise, last minute invitation, which I immediately accepted and I NEVER do that!

Confession: I am OCD and I plan everything (just about), so I was so aflutter and no one could wipe the smile off my face. Up until this experience, I had only encountered my hometown fair (for its 500 people) and the local festival in the town I presently live, which is big, but NOT this big – “GOLLY GEE WHILICKERS!” 

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If you are blessed to experience my charm in person, you know that it takes very little to get me excited or to keep me entertained.  I am pleased with the fact that even the most minute things bring me great joy!  Having said that, my adventures at the county fair led me to participate in a bucket load of adventures on my “bucket-list!”

Adventure #2 –  Attend the County Fair!

(I’ve lived here for 15 years and had never attended the fair, and FOR REAL, there was a Wisconsin Cheese Stand!)

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Adventure #3 – Eat a Pork-a-Bob (Yum!)

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Adventure #4 – Eat a Pistolette (Delish!)

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Adventure #5 – Touch a Stingray (It was so cool!)

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Adventure #6 – Ride “The Spider” (Can you say, “dizzy.”)

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Adventure #7 – Ride the “Crazy Mouse” (You MUST Watch THIS Video)April 14 022

 

Adventure #8- Ride the Ferris Wheel

(This Ferris Wheel was so high, it nearly touched the Heavens, and may I add that it broke down right before we went on, and I was  pretty much panic-stricken the entire time. You can ask my friends to confirm!)

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Adventure #9 – Ride a CAMEL (from St. Louis)! Yes, indeed, folks, there “really is water in them humps!”

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What an incredible beginning to my 37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life!

Stay tuned to my blog for updates on the rest of my adventures, but I discourage you from living vicariously through me.  Our Heavenly Father says, “Have I not commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)  Get out there and experience adventures of your own and celebrate the life that God gave you!!

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 ESV 

Thank you, Lord, for life, and may I live it to the full!

37 Adventures For My 37th Year of Life!

For the majority of my thirty-six years of life I have waited for happiness to come to me. Unfortunately, I spent many years in my youth having a pity party and making other people around me miserable because “if I wasn’t happy, then no one else should be happy.”  I sincerely apologize to everyone I ever made miserable as a result of my poor attitude. If truth be told, I have all too often deliberated that “I have to wait for my life to start when I get married and have children” because isn’t that when everyone’s life is expected to begin? However, that hasn’t been in God’s plan for me, and as I creep toward the age of forty, I have suddenly realized that I have wasted unconscionable years, months, days, hours and seconds waiting for joy to happen upon me. In fact, I have a painting on my wall that I should honestly take to heart. It says,  “If I am not happy in this time, in this place, then I am not paying attention” (author unknown).  How powerful that statement is.  With that said, I believe there are many people out there who have or have had had tendencies like me.  “Well, God says He will take care of me and bless me, so I am just going to sit right here and just wait for His blessings to just fall right out of the sky…any day now, any day now, NOW, how ’bout now, NOW….oh for Pete’s sake, I GIVE UP.”  Then you hide yourself in your dark, dreary room and enviously scroll through Facebook observing everyone else’s great and amazing adventures.

God promises, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  No doubt, right there, our God reminds us that He has a great plan for our life!  However, it doesn’t say anything about us not having a part in that life He has planned for us.  He’s not going to hand us everything on a silver platter.  That is not how life works.  He intended for us to LIVE life.  In Ephesians 2:10, we are reminded that  “we are his (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (ESV)” The emphasis I want to focus on in this verse is “walk in them.”  Our Lord does not say, “go ahead and park your butt in your comfy reclining chair, and I promise I will shower you with unspeakable joy.”  NO, it says that we were created to DO good things, and that means we are responsible to actively DO those good things.  In spiritedly “walking in” those good deeds that God has planned for us to do, we will THEN be blessed.

Not BECAUSE we do those good things, will we be blessed, but BECAUSE in doing them, we ARE blessed!  

In living life fully and doing God’s will, we will experience new relationships and new things, we will see God at work in the lives of many, we will have the opportunity to share Christ’s amazing love, and we will receive countless blessings!  So my challenge for you today, is to join me and get up and experience life…to the full!

Do good!  

Be involved!  

Live life to the fullest being a willing and relentless participant in the life that God has planned and prepared for only you.  

That is my promise to myself in my next year of life, and I assert to experience 37 adventures in my 37th year of life!!! This is many thanks to a long-time college classmate, colleague and friend who was an incredible inspiration!  Like most people she was dreading her fortieth birthday, so rather than experiencing a godawful fortieth year, she was determined to participate in forty great adventures.  What followed was a fabulous fun-filled fortieth year, that created memories for a life-time!  In fact she said it was her best year of life thus far, and in the three years since, she has continued this amazing tradition!  Who wouldn’t want that for themselves?

Why don’t you join me on this journey?

 Beginning, before my birthday, (because why wait) I am embarking on 37 awesome adventures! I encourage you to stay tuned to my blog throughout the year for reflections from these incredible experiences. I won’t reveal all my planned adventures, but here are just a few:

Eat at Royer’s Pie Haven in Austin, Texas 

I LOVE PIE!

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Learn to poach an egg

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Read 5 books by the end of the year

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Don’t complain for an entire day

This will be a challenge!

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Visit Shangri La

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Stand on the star in the floor of the Texas State Capitol rotunda (Austin), clap my hands to hear the echo, and then look up into the dome and twirl around till I’m dizzy. This three-step tradition at Austin’s statehouse is said to bring good luck!

I plan to take a crack at it!

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As I alluded to earlier, my first actual adventure is planned about a month before my 37th Birthday. I have always LOVED to ride the tilt-a-whirl and since becoming an adult, I have believed the misconception that only children ride rides and local festivals. I didn’t want to embarrass myself or others, so I have kept my distance.  However, the tilt-a-whirl is a ride that I love, so there is no reason I shouldn’t get to enjoy it, right?  And so, I have purchased a “Passport to Fun” for our local festival (which will allow me to ride the rides as many times as my little heart desires) and I fully intend to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl 100 times during the duration of Spring Break!  I can not wait!  Do you like to ride the tilt-a-whirl? I invite you to join me, but please note, this girl is a “professional” tilt-a-whirl twirler. It’s a family tradition, and if you ride with me or any member of my family you shall abide by the rule – “thou shalt ALWAYS lean into the turns” so as to spin obnoxiously fast! 🙂

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Living life to the fullest, that is indeed what I plan to do!  

How about you?