Taking a Break

Hey!

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging to pursue other things. It may be a short break, but it may be forever. I’ll post back later if I decide to shut down the blog for good.

Thank you for reading along with me and going on adventures with our little family!

Good bye for now,

❤ Kaci

Favorite Podcasts Right Now

Hey Friend and Family,

I just wanted to say I appreciate all of you! It’s so fun to think that you guys come here and read and hopefully get inspired with travel, food, adventure… It makes me feel like were sharing a little bit of life together and I love that. So thank you!

Today I wanted to talk about some of my current favorite podcasts…

What is a podcast you say? … Well its that little purple app that you can’t un-install and is probably in your “never use” folder on your iPhone.

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That one there, in the top left…

It is magic! You are going to love it! Think of Podcasts like talk radio shows about whatever you want. There are literally podcasts for everything.

And don’t worry, Android users can listen too by downloading the Stitcher Smart Radio app.

Josh likes to listen to ones about photography, and I like to listen to ones about faith, marriage and science… Here are some of my favorites!

Top Favorite Podcasts Nov 2016

  1. The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey
    • Episodes of the Happy Hour come out twice a week with one 1 hour episode on Wednesdays and one 30 minute episode on Fridays. Jamie interviews women of Faith who are doing great things, or just being great people. They talk about “the big things in life, the little things in life, and everything in-between” literally… they cover everything! I love to listen to their conversations when I am feeling lonely and haven’t had girl time in awhile, or when I want to be encouraged in the day to day. She always asks her guests what they are reading a three things they are loving… and now my “must read” list is about 50 books long! Get ready to laugh, think, and just be encouraged… this podcast is definitely one of my favorites!
  2. Marriage More – making your marriage more
    • Marriage More is hosted by a couple; Jeff and Mandy Rose  who are candid and real and normal. They don’t just sit and give advice on marriage… they actually talk about the struggles and the hurts and where they are doing well and where they need to work. I have learned some fun things that we try and incorporate into our marriage, such as naming our “big wins” for the day every night. Before we go to sleep, while were laying in bed, or sometimes at the dinner table I ask Josh what his 1 big win was from the day… and if it is a really good day, we do 3 big wins! It is so fun to hear what went on in his day, and often times I would never have know these things… and they were his BIG WIN! It helps me feel like I get to know more of what is important to him.
  3. The Splendid Table
    • This is the podcast for “people who love to eat” that goes deep into different foods, techniques, chiefs lives, ect… It is so fun to hear the recipes and food stories. My favorite part is at the end where the host (Lynne Rossetto Kasper) answers listener questions about things like what to do with 100 lbs of lemons, and how do I make a dinner from these 5 ingredients… its loads of fun! I like to listen to this while making dinner.
  4. The Big Boo Cast
    • This podcast is just plain fun. It’s laid back, comical and not about anything important at all. The host are Sophie Hudson and Melanie Shankle (one of my all time favorite authors, if you have not read her books, you must run out and order them on Amazon immediately!) They talk a lot about jeans, crackers, and football… and after awhile you just grow to love them. I like to listen to this when I just want something “mindless and happy” for running, folding laundry, ect.
  5. Elise Gets Crafty
    • Now, this one may be pretty specific to me… but it’s a podcast where Elise Blaha Cripe talks to creative entrepreneurs about their small businesses… they have tips on starting a business, growing a business, creativity, branding, working from home, ect. I find it all very inspiring and interesting, but that may just be me! I don’t listen to every episode, but take what I need from the ones that interest me.
  6. Gastropod
    • This podcast looks at “food through the lens of science and history” which is right up my alley! My favorite episode so far is the episode they did on Citrus, where we learn how the Mafia got their start due to the Citrus trade in Italy… so interesting! Occasionally there is some crude language, so keep that in mind if that offends you or you are listening with kids.
  7. And sometimes Radiolab/TED Radio hour
    • I used to listen to Radiolab often when we first moved to Japan. Some of my favorite episodes are the Natzi Summer Camp one and Fu-Go where we learn so really interesting and well told stories about WWII history. Recently, the episodes have been more descriptive and swearing than I appreciate, so I’m being more careful about the ones I choose to listen to.
    • The TED Radio hour is new to me, and although I have enjoyed a couple episodes, I just haven’t listened enough to give it a full endorsement, if you like TED talks, you will most likely like the podcast too.

And those are my favorites right now! So whip out your phone, move that app out of the back of the closet, and start exploring my friends! The key is to find the kinds of podcasts YOU like to listen to. If you start listening to one and don’t really like it, move on… there are PLENTY of fish in the sea!

Do you have any podcasts that you listen to or suggest?! I always love a new podcast!

Skiing in Fukushima

For Christmas last year I got Josh a weekend ski trip!

This is how the story goes…

We went to this event where we had wine and cheese and learned about the different ski resorts around Japan.

Just to give you a little context, I was relatively new to Japan at this point and not only was I bad about knowing how far away things are, but the names of places went over my head also.

So, I found this great deal where we could both stay overnight two nights and ski two days and be home for the week ahead no problem. I was so proud of myself for coming up with the Best Hubby Christmas Present Ever!! It was for the “Grandeco Resort Hotel & Ski.

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Over the next month or so, whenever I would tell a Japanese National where we were going they would look at me with big eyes and say “Oooooh!” … if you have experience with Japanese Nationals you know this is their way of saying “You’re crazy but Im trying to be nice and not tell you how crazy you are.”

I couldn’t figure out why for the life of me!

Then someone made a comment about coming back with three eyes or something and then informed me that this is the area that had the Nuclear Disaster in 2011… So there is that. But the hotel looked nice, and had an Onsen (like a hot spring)… so we went anyways! Ha ha!

Another minor glitch in my plan is that the resort is over 4 hours away. It’s not a deal breaker, but something that should be known beforehand!

All that said, here is my review of the Grandeco Resort Hotel & Ski:

  • The black diamond runs are not like Montana or Colorado black diamonds… In that they are more like blue square runs… maybe with moguls.
  • The weekend we went there was powder, but the best run of the day was down the chair lift, which may or may not have been roped off.
  • Free hot chocolate at the bottom!!
  • There is a pizza/pasta place mid-mountain that has good food for about 1200 yen
  • Standard Japanese bed set-up (two “double” beds that are more like American sized single beds)
  • A GREAT onsen! The men and women are separate and they have outside and inside pools.
  • A good price if you look for a “campaign” – around Christmas and New Years they have a lot of different “campaigns” which are like sales for specific dates and activities.
  • They will pick you up from the train station and bring you to the hotel in a van, that is, if your insane enough to ride a train in Tokyo with all your ski gear.
  • Dinner is EXPENSIVE… think 5000 yen / person (about $50), so we brought our own!

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Our classic skiing dinner of summer sausage, cheese and crackers!

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Here we are in our robes for the Onsen! This was our first time at the Onsen, so it took us awhile to figure it out. Bring your towel from your room and any shampoo you want to use. Swimsuits are NOT ALLOWED so, don’t even bring yours. Just come in your robe and store all your other belongings in a basket, walk in, shower off while sitting down (important that you sit) on a stool and then get in the Onsen and enjoy! The outdoors Onsen is so, so beautiful.

Ok, now time for the CRAZIEST story!! The second day that we were there, we woke up to howling winds. The snow was all drifted and packed but we got DUMPED on the night before so there were several feet of new snow. We were like “Sweet!” (not about the wind but about the snow) and decided to head out first thing after breakfast. We had the breakfast buffet included with our “campaign” tickets, and it was all inclusive and good – it had both an American and a Japanese side.

After breakfast we went over to the front desk to see what time the lifts open, and there were big signs plastered over everything!! We kept getting the “NO” symbol from everyone (arms crossed in front of their chest in a big X as they shake their head side to side). It turns out the lifts were closed due to the winds! So sad! We then decided to head back early after learning that this storm was huge and it was going to be hard to get home.

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This is us trying unsuccessfully to get on the expressway for about the 5th time.

OH MY GOODNESS it was craziness!! They closed down all the expressways and only had the unplowed “highways” open. Not to mention we are in our front wheel drive Toyota Vitz , which is like a mini Toyota Yaris. Basically we couldn’t stop or else it was game over. It took us over 9.5 hours to get home, but we only got stuck once and made it in one piece! I don’t think the same can be said for the oncoming traffic… there was a semi stuck on a hill that backed up traffic for over 3 miles… causing many, many other cars to be stuck. They weren’t getting home anytime that night. I cannot tell you how glad I was that we weren’t in that lane!!!

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That’s my brave Hubby having a good attitude!

Lessons learned: Try Nagano next time. Get some snow chains that fit. Don’t stress when your husband is trying to drive in sketchy weather (this one is hard for me)… It was good practice for 9.5 hours to tell myself “You know what? We probably won’t die of hypothermia or starvation. We are going to make it out alive eventually, and that’s all that matters!” It was good practice not to sweat the small stuff… like getting stuck or minor collisions… it all comes out a wash in the long run.

So, I DO recommend the Grandeco for decent skiing if you are willing to drive 4.5 hours North. We were just unlucky to get stuck in the one big snow storm last year. Here is their review on Powderhounds… and DEFINITELY check out the Onsen, message chairs and Ice cream vending machines on the first floor.

What is the best Christmas gift you have ever gotten your Hubby?! I need ideas for this year!

Also, please share your Japan skiing experiences below! We’re always looking for new places to try!

❤ Kaci

 

 

Sausage & Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Happy Fall Friends!

Something I love of a cool fall day is a warm, comforting dinner. This dish is cozy and cheese and has that smooth winter squash taste with the spicy sausage… So good!

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This recipe was developed because I wanted to make something with the Butternut Squash that just showed up at the Commissary (our military grocery store), and I was inspired to make a pasta dish by Mix and Match Mama’s Pumpkin-Sausage Pasta.

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Sausage & Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

  • 1 box favorite shape pasta (I used elbows, that’s what we had)
  • 1 lb Spicy Italian Sausage
  • 1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash (olive oil, salt, pepper)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup Smoked Mozzarella cheese (this is amazing in this dish, but provolone or regular Mozzarella will work too)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (plain, not Italian… I made ours by baking some whole wheat bread for 10 minutes at 350 degrees until hard, pulsing with 1 Tbsp butter, 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s how you make it!

Roasted the butternut squash in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 30 -45 minutes (until the inside is soft enough to pierce with a fork).

Cook and drain the pasta according to package instructions.

Brown your sausage in a large skillet with sides. Once browned, add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one more minute (being careful not to overcook the garlic) and remove from heat.

Once the Squash is soft, scoop it out into a blender and blend with 1 cup chicken stock (or 1 cup warm water mixed with 1 cube bullion). Add the squash to the skillet along with the turmeric and simmer for 10 minutes to make a thick sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add pasta (you may not need all the pasta) to the sauce and coat, transfer to a 9 x 13 pan. Top with cheese and breadcrumbs and back for 25-30 minutes, until brown and bubbly.

OR, you can eat it strait out of the skillet without baking.

Enjoy!!

Let me know if you try it or have any fun variations!

❤ Kaci

Fall Favorites!

Happy Fall Everybody!!!

I keep saying that but I can’t help it! (I would say Happy Fall Y’all, but I’m not Southern enough for that… not even a little bit.) I love this time of year, when the weather gets crisp and makes you feel so alive, with leaves crunching underfoot… when we get to bundle up under scarves and sweaters with coffee or hot chocolate or apple cider…

Oh fall, I love you.

I wanted to show you some cool fall finds from around Japan as well as a little something I made for Halloween time!

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Pumpkin Greek Yogurt!

I got this at the Seiyu (like Walmart in Japan… in fact they are owned by Walmart)

It was good, but after talking to my Debi Mom, we both came to the consensus that these new pumpkin greek yogurts could use more SPICE! I plan to spice mine up next time myself.

Next…

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“Pumpkin” Kit Kats!

They have the a Kabocha squash (to the left in the pic…one of my very favorite squashes now!) on the bag, because that is what the people in Japan call “pumpkin.”

Have you experienced Japanese Kit Kat culture yet? They loooove their novel Kit Kat flavors. I have seen Sake, Green Tea, Wasabi, and the new Cranberry Almond just to name a few… yea, there are LOTS of flavors!

I didn’t think these were going to be that good, but I tried one and they are pretty tasty. I got them at the Don Quixote (which is like a GIANT Big Lots mixed with a dollar store).

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My boo shirt! I made it, aren’t you proud?! Im excited to get to wear it for Halloween time. I have another shirt that I made too… but you’ll have to wait until later to see that one.

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Our fall Placemats, and Pumpkin Pie candle. My Mom sent me the Placemats last year, and I brought the candle back from Ross before moving here. That thing has been stored and moved so many times, I’m surprised it made the trip and I knew where it was!

That is my Special Avocado Toast on top, incase you missed it!

What are your favorite fall finds this year?

Wishing you all the pumpkin and apple cider your heart desires!

❤ Kaci

Special Avocado Toast

Hey Everybody!

You all know about Avocado toast right? Mash an avocado on some toast, salt and pepper… done. Well, while listening to the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey Podcast (One of my top three favorite podcasts ever!) I learned about a special avocado toast. It was Episode #76 Sally Lloyd-Jones and she talked about a restaurant that made this, and now she makes it at home all the time. We already had the ingredients were already in our fridge or pantry, so I decided to give it a try…

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In no time this toast became a stable in my diet… it almost always sounds good, for breakfast, lunch, even dinner (especially when Josh isn’t home). I don’t know what it is about the cumin… lemon… feta… such a perfect combination!

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Give it a try this week, you won’t be disappointed!

Special Avocado Toast

  • 1 slice toasted whole grain bread
  • About 1/2 a small avocado (whatever you need to cover the toast)
  • Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • Salt/pepper
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Optional: Red Pepper flakes, fried egg, crispy bacon

Some Favorite Books

Hello Friends!

Today I wanted to do a light-hearted post about some of my very favorite books.

Fun Fact: I hardly read anything but text books for a good 6 years, but ever since about a year and a half ago, reading has become one of my favorite ways to spend time.

I’m planning on doing several posts that each give a review of some of my very favorite books. These aren’t books I’m reading right this moment (per se’) but are tried and true favorites. All three books in this review are ones I would recommend in a heartbeat! I hope you love them as much as I do…

1. Hinds Feet on High Places: by Hannah Hurnard

This was the first real book I read while in Dental School. It is an “allegory” meaning that the names of people and places are the same as their character… for example, the main character’s name is ‘Much-Afraid’ and the book is about her journey with the ‘Good Shepard’ to the ‘High Places.’ She has encounters with her cousins Pride, Resentment, Self-Pity along the way… It is just SO beautifully written.

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Something else you should know about me is I don’t do Fiction. I just can’t do it. I have literally forced myself to get through some fiction books… but what happens is I get part way through and after multiple attempts not to fall asleep, I decide I don’t care. So I stick to Non-Fiction type books, I particularly love a good memoir!

So, Hinds Feet on High Places may seem like a weird choice… but it is so relatable. When I read it I fell like she is talking directly into my life… she captures the emotions and struggles so accurately and poetically… I’ll call it honorary Non-Fiction 😉

2. Love Does: by Bob Goff

I’ll be honest… I read this book because I got it for free.

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I was in my “non-reader” phase where all I read was my Bible and whatever Biological pathway I needed to memorize, when Bob Goff came to speak at our church and gave EVERYONE a free copy of this book. My roommate at the time was a avid reader, and she told me it was good so I should give it a try.

Well, I must have been bored one day because I picked it up and LOVED IT!! It was so hilarious I was crying! I couldn’t help but read chapters out loud to Josh on the phone, and I started to restrict how much I would read at night because I didn’t want it to end!

Love Does is a winner for sure! It is such a funny and motivating book, my Mom and Grandma loved it too.

3.The Meaning of Marriage: by Timothy Keller

This book was recommend to me by a couple from my Church in Portland who did pre-marital counseling. They helped lead a small group that I was part of, and said we all needed to read it, whether we were married or not… even if we didn’t plan on getting married. img_2534

It changed the way I view love, it changed the way I thought about marriage, and committing to one person for my whole life… Definitely a must read.

My favorite idea from this book is that Jesus loves us, not because we are beautiful, but to make us more beautiful.

I think about that a lot in relation to how I treat Josh. It is my commitment to him to love him when his words and actions and attitudes are beautiful to me and when they are not, because I love him to help make him more beautiful…

Well, that was more fun than I thought it would be! 

I can’t wait for the next book review!

If you have any must-reads, please, comment down below!

❤ Kaci