My love/hate relationship with venison

grilled bacon wrapped backstrap venison steak with grilled potatoes, tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers

grilled bacon wrapped backstrap venison steak with grilled potatoes, tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers

The first bite. That’s what it comes down to each time. Can I do it? It’s all a matter of circumstance with me when it comes to eating venison. I’m used to eating beef and pork (although I don’t eat it that often, I love a good burger and bacon). So why is deer such a big deal? I better figure it out because I have a whole freezer full of it now! When compared to other meats, venison is more lean, lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol, yet rich in iron, protein, and other nutrients.

A couple years ago when I had my first taste of ground venison, I didn’t like it because it was too gamey. The other night, I had the most delicious bacon wrapped backstrap steak without any hesitation. I wolfed it down! Now I am learning that since the meat for this one was from a young doe, it is very tender and not so gamey. However, last night’s dinner was from the same doe, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat any of it! Not because of taste, but because of emotion.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. All I could think about was the beautiful doe and all at once I wanted to become a vegetarian. I know that many hunters will eat the heart and other organs to show respect for taking the animals life and that every bit will be eaten with thankfulness. I’m not sure if I think that is great or if it grosses me out. I’ll keep working through this😉

Anyways, if you are a decided venison eater, I wanted to give you some easy, delicious complete photo dinner ideas. My trick for grilling veggies: spray aluminum foil with cooking spray, put prepared veggies in ziploc bag with olive oil and seasoning salt and toss around to fully coat. Pour veggies onto prepared foil and then cover the top with another piece of foil and bunch up the two pieces around the edges, leaving one side so you can easily open it to check progress on the grill. Potatoes take 45 minutes to an hour, so put them on first. You can add other veggies that don’t take as long later. Venison steaks only take about ten minutes, so put them on when veggies are almost done.

grilled venison covered with red peppers and sweet onion, homemade mashed potatoes, and sauteed greens

grilled venison covered with red peppers and sweet onion, homemade mashed potatoes, and sauteed greens

You can also throw together a venison chili easily. Just create a sauce using anything tomato- paste, sauce, marinara, diced, etc…then add the browned venison meat, chili powder, salt, pepper, any kind of canned beans, any color of pepper if you want, garlic and onion if desired. Let it sit on the stove covered or in a crock pot for a few hours. Top with sour cream and shredded cheese!


2012-01-12 - Puppy Chow - 0006One of my favorite recipes to make this time of year, which I just made last night, is puppy chow. After reading that sentence you may know what I am talking about or may be completely repulsed. I am learning that perhaps this name for the recipe hails from the midwest, where I grew up. I am a very nostalgic person and making puppy chow every holiday season brings back great memories. I don’t know why I don’t make it other time of the year…I just don’t. I also don’t know why puppy chow seems to come up in so many conversations I have with people from all over the country. At this point, I believe it would make a good SNL skit. That’s how many stories I could tell you about it. When someone tries to rename my memory “Muddy Buddies”, I tend to get a little bit defensive. Especially when I ask the person if they grew up making it every year and they say they’ve never made it or never had it. Or when I’m explaining the recipe and they say “Oh, you mean Muddy Buddies?”, because that’s what they’ve seen on the back of the Chex box. After hesitantly reviewing the recipe on the back of a Chex box, I am relieved to see that in fact it is a slightly different recipe and they can call it what they want. Mine is better, easier, and comes from my grandmother! On the back of the Chex box, it says, “Did you know? Another popular name for this favorite mix is “Puppy Food”.  Now that’s a new one…


1 stick of butter
1  12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 jar peanut butter
1 box CRISPIX cereal
2+ cups powdered sugar

Melt butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in microwave or on stove until smooth. Mix in cereal (not all at once) until evenly covered. Let cool for a bit. Place contents into a couple big freezer bags and add powdered sugar into each bag. Seal bags and shake until powdered sugar evenly coats the pieces.

And don’t forget, THIS recipe is called PUPPY CHOW!😉

Photos- Leelanau Trip

To go with my post

Cozy Cottage Kitchen

Cozy Cottage Kitchen


Suttons Bay

Suttons Bay




Northern Latitudes Distillery

Northern Latitudes Distillery


Cider Tasting

Cider Tasting

Black Star Farms

Black Star Farms


on the wall at the local tavern in Glen it

on the wall at the local tavern in Glen Arbor…love it

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sleeping Bear Dunes


Need some fresh new dinner ideas? emeals can help!

eMeals is a great way to acquire new, healthy recipes fit to your dietary needs- and they are family friendly. Not only are the recipes sent straight to you so you don’t have to go searching each day for a dinner idea, but it gives you an organized grocery list synced to your favorite stores weekly sales.

They even have plans for Paleo and Gluten Free diets. I personally like the Clean Eating Plan. You can always change which plan you want. I like that you can choose a plan that represents how many people you will be feeding. For me, I usually am just cooking for 1 or 2, and most recipes out there are usually for more than that. This program gives me the exact amount of each ingredient I will need for just 1 or 2 people.

Don’t let this seem too structured for you…if you have a week where you won’t be using their recipes due to events, holidays, or you just want mac and cheese, you can save them for future ideas. We’re all busy and emeals saves a ton of time and lets you focus on more important things in life. With this program, you will never be left
wondering what’s for dinner.

They are currently running a 30% off special thru Friday (tomorrow). Just enter code CYBER. You can get a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription.

Click the banner above to get started!!!

Super Food Smoothie – Healthy and less than $1.50 per serving!

This is one of my favorite smoothie recipes I have come up with so far and it is soooo good for you!

For 1 serving:

1 cup milk (can be soy or almond as well)

1 small banana

1/2-3/4 cup baby spinach

1/2-3/4 cup chopped green apple

1 1/2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

1 Tbsp. Honey

3 ice cubes (optional)

Blend in blender until smooth and enjoy!

After reviewing my grocery receipt, I figured out about how many smoothies I could get out of my ingredients and it came to less than $1.50 per serving.

You can find ground flaxseed at almost any grocery store these days. It might be in different departments depending on the store, so you might have to ask where it is. It is best to store it in the fridge or freezer. Flaxseed provides amazing nutritional benefits of fiber, omega-3, and lignans. One serving of flaxseed contains 2400 mg of omega-3. The oil in flaxseed has about 50% alpha-linolenic acid, compared to canola or walnuts (the next highest sources), with only about 10%. Lignans are natural antioxidants and flaxseed has 75 times more than any other plant food. Two tablespoons of flaxseed is the equivalent of eating 30 cups of broccoli! Two tablespoons also has 4g of fiber. You can add flaxseed to cold or hot cereal, muffins, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, or anything really!

One of my other go to smoothies:

1 big spoonfull of peanut butter (I use crunchy)

1 banana

1 cup white milk (can be soy or almond) & chocolate protein powder OR 1 cup Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

3 ice cubes

Clarisonic Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) Deal & Mia 2 Review

Clarisonic Skin Care Systems very rarely go on sale, but through tomorrow  (Tuesday) until 11:59 pm they are offering 20% off! Click the above photo to start shopping. Even though the website says it ends Monday night, I know it is good through tomorrow- I received an email saying they had extended it. Just make sure you insert HOLIDAY2012 into the special code box at checkout. It would make a perfect Christmas gift for anyone in your life if they don’t already have one or if you’ve just been waiting to get one for yourself. I just received my Coral Mia 2 last week and I cannot say enough about it, but I’ll try! First of all, it is much smaller than I thought it would be, which is a good thing. It is perfect for traveling and comes with a protective travel case. You can choose from different colors and styles of Clarisonics. I like the charger that came with the Mia 2, as it is very futuristic, and there are other neat chargers too, such as with the Aria. You can only get free personal engraving on your Clarisonic directly through them. I had my name engraved in all upper case letters. They also give you a $25 credit towards future brush heads or anything else you might want to buy from them. As far as performance of the brush, I noticed results after just one use. It’s hard to wait the 24 hours of charging time to use it! I used it right before bed for the first time and when I woke up in the morning, my skin was glowing. It takes care of any dry or oily patches, gives even skin tone, tightens pores, and removes makeup 6 times better than regular cleaning. I had heard from reviews that your skin gets worse and then better, but I guess it just depends on the person. My skin has only been getting better with each use, and it has been 4 days. The Mia 2 has two speeds, and has a timer that beeps when it is time to move on to a different part of your face. It is a 1 minute timer, so it cleans very quickly. I am still trying to get down to 1 minute. It turns off automatically after one minute, so I have been having to turn it back on for a little longer to clean my whole face, but I am getting faster with each use. You are supposed to clean your forehead for 20 seconds, nose/chin for 20 seconds, and each cheek for 10 seconds. I have not yet had to recharge my Clarisonic, so that is impressive! You can use any cleanser you want- you just wet your face and the brush and apply cleanser either to the brush or to your face before using the brush. You simply move it in small circular motions- it seems weird at first, but you get used to using it. After you are done, just rinse your face like normal and clean the brush head with antibacterial soap as needed. It comes with a sensitive brush head, but you can order any other brush heads in the future that you think may suit you better, such as deep pore or acne cleansing.  The brush head should be replaced every 3 months or so. Using the Clarisonic feels like a facial massage while it cleans out all of your pores. You will notice that your moisturizers, creams, and all face products will work better and makeup will go on much smoother. You can use it two times a day or whenever your face needs a deep clean. A Clarisonic Skin Care System runs between $119-$225, has a two year warranty, a 90 day money back guarantee, and is definitely worth the price. It really makes you wonder why you didn’t buy one sooner and how you ever lived without it! If you have any questions about it, what it does, or which model is best for you, please let me know.

Did that just happen? iPhone5 day

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

We all have those cringe worthy moments in life when we ask, “Why do these things happen to me?” You can prepare, plan, and organize all you want, but every once in a while, I think life hands you an embarrassing moment to test your humor. Well, I hadn’t had one of those moments in a long time until this past week when I set out to buy the iPhone 5. It may not seem like a big deal to many people, but those that know me know that I am a saver and NOT a spender. I only buy things when they absolutely need to be replaced. I definitely have never cared about keeping up with what everyone else has or having the most up to date anything. I’d rather have more money in the bank or be traveling.

I bought my gold motorola razr back in March of 2007 as a birthday present for myself. Through the years, it never failed me and I never wanted a new phone. Pieces started coming off and falling apart right around the time the iPhone 5 came out. I figured that was some kind of sign, so I started doing my research on which carrier and which plan I would want (I hadn’t been under a contract for the past 3 1/2 years!) I then called around to see who had it in stock and made a plan to go straight to the Apple store so they could teach me all the things about it and then head to the AT&T store so they could get my photos and contacts off of my old phone.

As I walked into the mall after driving around forever trying to find parking, I wondered what the heck was going on and why was it so busy? I then saw a sign that it was the first day Santa was there. I navigated towards the Apple store and saw that it was jam packed- around 50 employees with blue shirts on and around 300 customers. As I pushed my way through, I talked to various employees, made my way to the iPhone 5 table, decided on the white one, and went through the process of purchasing it. They then led me to one of the tables where they get your phone up and running and show you how to do the basics.

It was seriously so loud in the store and I was surrounded closely by people in all directions. I was grateful when they gave me a stool to sit on for this part of the process. I started chatting with the guy (young, short, ginger) that was helping me, and he eventually asked me what kind of work I did and I told him modeling and acting and he said he did some theater stuff too. He was walking me through how to do things on the phone and we got to the part that linked my email to my phone.

I never really have weird emails in my inbox- never anything I wouldn’t want anyone else to see. It’s mostly work stuff or photos from family. Well, we pulled up my email account to make sure it was working and what came up? Emails about Bulimia and Bulimia help. Now, immediately, I knew what it was.  I was in talks to film a public service announcement and training videos for doctors, nurses, patients, etc nationwide about the disease and they were getting back to me about pay, filming dates, and those sorts of details. I have never had an eating disorder in my life, but in the shock of that moment, couldn’t even gather my words to try to explain myself (I realize that it is an issue for those suffering from it, is a sensitive subject, and is nothing to be ashamed of, as it is a disease). He and others around clearly saw the email subject lines and addresses. It didn’t help it was blazing hot in the store and everyone was sweating. He was speechless and clearly uncomfortable, and we had just talked about how I was a model, so I’m sure he assumed I had a problem. What’s worse? I had bruises and bandages on my wrist closest to him from where they had given me an IV when I was in the hospital for food poisoning days before! It made for a perfect story in his mind, I’m sure- all the pieces adding up one by one.

I was both relieved and anxious when he finally said he was going to take my phone in back to try to transfer things from my old phone. Relieved because I had a few moments to collect myself and be alone and anxious because I figured he was probably showing my inbox to coworkers. I actually wanted him to look at the emails and see what it was about so I wouldn’t even need to explain myself. He was back there for a good 15 minutes and came back to say he wasn’t able to get anything off my old phone and to head the the AT&T store next door. In the time he was away, I was able to laugh at myself and find the humor in what had just happened. I’m pretty sure I provided him with the most entertainment all day.

I then headed to the AT&T store next door and presented both phones. Two employees were quick to help me. I had called them earlier in the day so they knew what I needed done and what the situation was.  They miraculously were able to get everything off my ancient phone. They then proceeded to tell me cool things about the iPhone 5 and showed me how to do certain things. I was happy to learn all I could, even though some of it was repeats of what Apple guy taught me. Well, except when they “taught” me how to pull up my email. There it was! Again! I felt my face start to warm up as they both looked at me. After what seemed like an eternity, they just continued to go over some other functions of the phone. I thanked them and headed out to my car.

Once inside, I just sat there for a minute thinking about the past hour and how ridiculous it was. I took out my new phone and interested in how the whole Siri thing worked, all I could think to ask was, “Did that just happen?” Siri’s response: “Checking my sources…”

Newport, RI- Gilded Age & Gatsby

I love places that can take me back in time more than anything. I live to keep finding and exploring new locations that do this and make me feel a certain way. There are places, though, that keep calling me back. Newport, Rhode Island is one of them. There are several time periods in history that I often think I should have lived- Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, and the Roaring Twenties. I have showcased my love for these times in many aspects of my life, whether it was for a school project analyzing the accuracy of the movie, Cleopatra or dressing up as a flapper every year for Halloween.

I have visited Newport, the city-by-the-sea, a couple of times and my first thought upon seeing it each time is, “Does the rest of the world know this exists?!”  Part of me wants to keep it a hidden gem and the other part of me wants everyone to see it at once. The massive structures along Bellevue Avenue, or “summer cottages” (HA!) could be navigated for days. They were built during the Gilded Age (1865-1914), a time of industrial fortunes and the U.S. emerging as a world power. Newport was the social capital of America during this time. You can purchase a ticket to visit any 5 of the mansions for around $30 (a HUGE savings). Trust me, once you see one, you will want to see as many as possible. Even though there are still quite a few to tour, it is unfortunate that MANY have been demolished since the end of the Gilded Age. Each mansion has it’s own character and story behind it. Everyone seems to have their own personal favorite. The Breakers is the most toured and the biggest. The Rosecliff is where films like The Great Gatsby and True Lies were filmed.

Make sure to do the entire famed Cliff Walk! You get to hike 3.5 miles along the beautiful rugged coastline while seeing the other side of the mansions.

Also, make sure to take a bike ride along all of Ocean Avenue. You will see gorgeous countryside, houses, animals, and Inns, all while riding alongside the crashing waves. You will want to make several stops for perfect photo opportunities (and to take a breather).

As for food, I tried Salvation Cafe for one of my dinners. It was definitely the hip place to be when I was visiting and the food was good. For a late breakfast, diner style, I loved Gary’s Handy Lunch. It’s a cute little authentic diner along the less busy end of Thames Street. Asterisk Restaurant & Bar is a great place for anything from a Lobster Roll to their Chocolate martini. For a cozy, authentic feel with great seafood, take a stroll down Bannisters Wharf to the Black Pearl- by far the best clam chowder in town! Along the same wharf is the Clarke Cooke House- we had a perfect table by the roaring fire and unique seafood dishes.

I would suggest roaming down each wharf and also down all of Thames Street. These are the shopping areas but also the quaint areas of town that help make Newport the place that it is. Fall is obviously the time when many want to visit Newport because of the beautiful colors, but I have found it to be beautiful any time of year and there are always special events going on, so make sure to check out the events calendar.

There are so many things you can see in Newport without spending a dime. On my most recent trip, I was able to enjoy a four day getaway, flight included, and eating where and when I wanted to for around $700. You don’t need to rent a car if you are flying. There is a shuttle that takes you to and form the airport that is around $25 each way. You can walk many places and cheaply rent bicycles to explore even more. I stayed at the William Gyles Guest House, an international hostel in the middle of everything, for around $25/night. There are many wonderful bed & breakfasts and Inns to choose from as well.

Newport is perfect for a romantic getaway, wedding, girls trip, or any time you need an idyllic setting. I’d put it on your bucket list immediately if it isn’t already!

Ultimate Travel Wish List

There are many places and things I have wanted to see and do my whole life. This is the first time I have actually written it down! Being a very goal oriented and ambitious person, I think this is a good step towards achieving what I want. I’d love to hear about your experiences and suggestions if you have already done anything on my list. I’d also love to hear what is on your travel wish list!

1. African Safari

Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) and Blue Wildebees...

2. Meeting/helping those of various African communities, learning about their culture

School Children





3. Prince Edward Island/Anne of Green Gables sites

The Green Gables farmhouse.






4. Egypt- pyramids, tombs, museums, etc…

All Giza Pyramids in one shot. Русский: Все пи...






5. Bali

English: coast of Bali (Indonesia)






6. Bora Bora

English: Another day in Bora Bora.






7. An authentic Dude Ranch out West

Horses in a dude ranch pature in Grand Teton N...







8. Fiji

The beach on Bounty Island, Fiji






9. Maldives






Of course, I’d love to go to more places throughout Europe, or back again to most places I’ve already been! Honestly, I’m grateful to travel anywhere, and I cherish each and every location, no matter where it may be.

Jewelry Frame

One of my good friends made this for me as a gift. I am having a lot of fun as I start to arrange my jewelry on it, with each addition or change of location forming a new piece of art. You can also hang necklaces or bracelets on it too. I have a jewelry box that I love, but it’s nice to have pieces out in the open instead of hidden away. I have found that it makes it a lot easier and faster to decide what jewelry to wear when it’s right in front of you! There is nothing more special than a homemade present that is actually useful. You could construct this for friends and family for the holidays. If you would like more information on how to get one or how to make one, just let me know, and I will put you in contact with the artist.

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