Thursday, March 17, 2016

The State I'm in....


A couple of weeks ago, I took a 24 hour pause from my life.....
I prepared and took care of my responsibilities before I left, but in essence, I ran away from home.

I knew that I wouldn't be gone long, so I did not want to spend my entire time driving to and from wherever I chose, so I decided to head north from Salt Lake City and ended up in Box Elder County.

The drive up took less than an hour!  Wahoo, so now it was time to play...

First, a visit to the Golden Spike National Monument.  

It was interesting, but since I was visiting in the off season, the trains were not out.  :(  I was very surprised that the Golden Spike was only in the ground for 15 minutes before they took it out.  There is, however, a plaque at the location.   I learned a lot about the building of the railroads and how hard it was to do.

The Plaque on the tracks...

the way of the tracks...


On the drive to Golden Spike, I saw a sign for the Spiral Jetty, so I asked the Park Ranger if my little car could make the trip on the dirt roads and he said yes, so off I went.  It's about a 12 mile drive on grated roads through open range land, with some opinionated cows....I got glared at when I took their pictures..


See the attitude...

The Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture at the edge of the Great Salt Lake that was constructed in April of 1970.  I alway thought it was on the West side of the lake, but it's not....it's on the northeastern side, the things you learn when you travel.  I expected it to be a nice drive out and 'Ya' I finally saw it, but it turned into one of the highlights of my adventure.  For one thing, it is just really pretty and it doesn't smell.... (if you live in SLC or the Wasatch front, you know all about lake stink). I walked out to the edge of the Great Salt Lake, which was at least 1/2 mile out on the salt.  It was that kind of silent you can only get in nature.  Bliss...

The Spiral Jetty

a little spiral in the big one...

The Great Salt Lake with ripples in the water

a really cool formation in the salt on the shore


My next stop was the Bear River Bird Refuge.  I heard a lot of birds, but didn't see any, but that was ok, I was all about taking pictures of the sunset and the reflections in the water.....
It was a little overcast, so it was a little dreary

and subdued for a sunset

but still stunning and peaceful

Now it was time for the reason I chose this area, Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville...  Soaking in the hot springs while it is cold outside, can it get any better?  As I checked in, I learned that Crystal Hot Springs has the highest mineral concentration of any hot spring in the world.  Way to go Utah!

I slept in a bit the next morning and as I drove home I realized a couple of things....

I live in an amazing state for scenery and diversity of the scenery.
I am lucky enough to be able to visit these areas without a long drive.
24 hours away can do wonders for your state of mind...

Utah,
the state I'm in...
Melissa



Friday, March 4, 2016

Pantry Challenge...

During the month of February I completed a  pantry challenge...
in a world of buy, buy, buy, I took a break.

The goal:

To see what I really use and what is just wasting my money and space by sitting in the cabinets and in the fridge.

The Rules:

The only purchases allowed are fresh produce and dairy products.

The plan:

To clean out and use things in my pantry and freezer.  I had a menu plan that didn't assign days, but listed recipes to make during the month.  I made favorites and new recipes and even made snacks and desserts.

The most surprising thing was this...

my cooking habits have changed, a lot.  I don't eat a lot of meat now, so even after not buying any meat for a month, I still have quite a bit in my freezer.  I use black beans at almost a 3 to 1 ratio to  kidney beans, who knew?  Condensed soups have now been banned since I have found a healthier, less processed, version that I can make from scratch with ease.   I love popcorn as a snack or dessert, coconut oil and dill.

I learned the following....

I would rather spend a bit of time to make something from scratch and know all of the ingredients instead of buying a pre-packaged options.  The breakfast and lunch burritos that routinely fill my freezer are cases in point.

I love to cook.

I love being creative to vary a menu and in finding new recipes to try.

I even had food to eat when I went down with a flu for almost a week....

The Results....

There was a little cheating when my favorite brand of herbs and spices went on sale at 50% off and when I ran out of yeast and couldn't make bread.


In terms of saving money, I did, but I used it to get ahead and do some extra things this month, which was very nice!

I am very glad I did this and will do it again in the future!

Off to plan my next meal...
Melissa