settled.

sometimes being settled is a good thing.

spending 2016 on the move was a great thing.

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spending 78.5% of 2017 in a constant state of flux was a not-so-great thing.

 

so, this thanksgiving, being settled in our own place feels kinda great.

 

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gluten free all the things (except those darn crescent rolls. not that I couldn’t have made gf crescent rolls (I totally planned on it but ran out of energy.)

Anyway, it proved a good time to teach a couple of young men exactly how to roll triangles of refrigerator dough into crescent shapes.

(I think they did a pretty good job)

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being back in my own kitchen is helping me get back on the eating right train. would you believe I made a kale lasagna today? yes. kale, once my sworn enemy, occasionally finds a place in my diet (trader joe’s broccoli and kale slaw is downright addictive) 

this kale sausage lasagna was super easy to throw together and a low-carb dish to warm you up on a chilly winter weekend. *recipe adapted 

ok in complete honesty, calling this a lasagna might be a bit of a stretch. it’s more of a casserole. 

IMG_0320Ingredients:
1 lg bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, cut into 2″ pcs

2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb bulk italian sausage (hot or sweet)
1 jar pasta sauce

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

preheat oven to 375 degrees. spray a 9″ x 12″ glass pan with non stick cooking spray.

heat the oil in a large heavy sauce pan, brown the sausage until cooked thoroughly.

when the sausage is done, add the pasta sauce, and let the sauce simmer 20-25 minutes, or until it’s thickened and the liquid is reduced.

 

add about a teaspoon or so of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  drop the kale into the boiling water and cook until barely wilted. this should take between 1-3 minutes depending on the kale, so keep an eye on it. drain kale into a colander in the sink and toss it to remove as much moisture as possible. dump the cooled kale onto a clean cotton dish towel, roll up and squeeze out remaining moisture.

begin layering the ingredients in your prepared pan, starting with half of the kale. then half of each of the sauce, the parmesan, the mozzarella. then repeat. you’ll have two complete layers.

cover with foil and bake, covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.

let casserole sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

enjoy!

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All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

abandoned.

traveling to the poconos during the seventies meant you were either on your honeymoon, entertaining business guests, or you were a ‘swinger.’

 

traveling to the poconos in 2017 means you’re either a youtube urban explorer out for the next great video shoot of an abandoned resort, or you’re a family headed to the big indoor waterpark/hotel/human petri dish.

this past week my daughter and I headed to the poconos in hopes of being able to sneak a peek into the past. I plotted out several abandoned places along our route, with the intent of photographing and exploring as many as we could along the way. our first stop in scranton was a bust (torn down and replaced with new homes) our second stop, scranton lace factory, was not conducive to interior exploration but we did take a few exterior shots.

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when we arrived in the poconos and couldn’t get into the summit resort we proceeded to our main destination; penn hills.

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if you know anything about abandoned poconos, you’re familiar with penn hills. let’s just say there’s not much stopping just about anyone from exploring the 85+ acres of pure 70’s honeymoon kitsch (or what’s left of it)

 

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the blend of modernist architecture, mixed with graffiti, broken glass, and the force of nature kept stopping me in my tracks.

 

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at times it was overwhelming.

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human damages far exceeding the unrelenting force of nature.

 

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we only saw a fraction of the property, but it was simply amazing.

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I would have loved to have seen this place kept intact, the bones of the architecture are so fantastic, and it could have been brilliantly returned to it’s glory as a vintage throwback (hipsters would’ve loved overpaying to sleep in a round bed!)

but back taxes and bad business decisions have left it to rot, and it appears that it will most likely be bulldozed rather than restored.

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it made for a wonderful adventure, one we won’t soon forget.

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All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

summer breakfast

It’s hot. Summer is hot, proven by my social media feed filled with people posting photos of their car thermometers or screenshots of their weather apps. (do you remember winter….and the ice and snow? yeah, me too.)

It’s that wake up hot,
…go to bed hot, kind of hot.

If you’re like me and you don’t like a big breakfast (and if you can remember to prepare this before bed, which I know I’m asking a lot) this is my new favorite breakfast treat.

I know, there’s a billion recipes for these online. In fact I even saw pre-made “Refrigerator Oats” at target last week.

Some call for cute mason jars or fancy spices and yogurt

But, after experimenting and testing different methods my favorite recipe is this:

OVERNIGHT OATS:

in the smallest of my Pyrex Snapware (the little orange one):

1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 Tbls shredded coconut (unsweetened)
a few blueberries
some chopped pecans
1 Tbls maple syrup (agave, or other liquid sweetener will work)
1/3 cup milk of choice (coconut works great!)

Don’t stir, just snap the lid down, refrigerate overnight and in the morning you have a cold refreshing, (gluten free, dairy free) nutritious breakfast!

Of course the options to modify this are pretty endless; I find that the combination of the crunchy (pecans) and the sweet (blueberries) with the texture (coconut) make a great balance.

Enjoy! And stay cool 😎

 

 

 

All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

obsessions.

first off, maybe you’ve noticed I’ve made some changes around here. I’m not entirely convinced that I love it yet, still tweaking the edges, but it was time for a new look so I picked a new theme and well, here we are. let me know what you think! (or not, you know I’m not one to order people around… and ok, if you really know me, then you know that’s a bold faced lie right there.)

on to my latest obsessions which all revolve around design and decorating. specifically light, airy, modern items like this dining room:

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or this bedroom, with a bed I could imagine spending the whole day in:

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I’m researching every possible sofa in internet sofa land: currently landing on this one from article as a favorite with a strict no coffee drinking rule applied to all who sit!sectional

the reason for all my obsessing over household items (you should see my pinterest) is we are going to be settling down again, taking a break from the nomadic life we’ve been living these past few years. Mr. X is going to be getting a coding certification and we’ll be staying put in our old hometown at least for a few years as he gets his foothold in a career.

I imagine we’ll hit the road again in the future (we still have so much more to see!)

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but, for now I look forward to organizing my laundry room and watering plants, figuring out where to put my baking sheets and things of other high importance. it will be good to have a place to call home, again.

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unless otherwise credited, All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

memorial day.

it seems as though I haven’t had much to say about this year, from the looks of my posts here. in reality, there’s so much going on, so much keeping my thoughts occupied about the future of our world that creating beautiful blog posts have been the furthest thing from my mind.

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but memorial day weekend is here, and this weekend traditionally marks a time in the calendar year where things tend to shift; we pack away the long pants, and pull out the summer skirts. we dust off the picnic gear, stow away the snow boots. so maybe it’s time to shift my thinking as well. back to focusing on beauty and creativity, and away from despair and darkness; looking towards a future of hope, one where there’s always that open road ahead, where you never know what will meet you. where the adventure awaits.

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so we sit, and plan, looking forward to more travel; discussing a trip to acadia national park and plotting our next adventure. always moving forward, hoping and focusing on a positive future for everyone.

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All images © 2013-2017 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

public lands, a love story.

last year we were so fortunate to be able to experience so many of our public lands, parks and monuments. I decided to start collecting patches along the way as a way to remember the places we had seen.

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I bought our first official patch at the padre island national seashore. the kind volunteer behind the counter at the gift shop explained to us how we could drive onto the beach and camp there. he also told us how the beach in texas is considered a highway, and if we chose to we could drive for miles on it. we were thrilled with the possibility.

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it was there that I started thinking about this quilt. from every park, monument, forest or historical site that we stopped at with a visitor center, I bought a patch and added it to this quilt. it’s like a living memory, a work in progress. hand stitching the patches over fabric that is covering holes in the antique bedcover that is older than me.

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when we were at yellowstone, it just happened to be the month of the 100 year anniversary of this amazing place. we were lucky enough to be caught in the middle of a herd of bison crossing the road; they were feet from our car, and I will never forget that feeling, the feeling that we were visiting their home. we were their guests. it was humbling. and it was my favorite day.

death valley was spectacular.

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our year of travel took us from cleveland ohio to the eastern shore of texas,

to the peaks of alaska, and back around…

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we stopped at badlands national park after visiting deadwood and sturgis.

we were not disappointed. even saw the elusive big horn ram.

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this is one of our favorite campsites; a wildlife preserve in western nevada.

without the bureau of land management, the national forests, the department of antiquities, the national monuments or the national forests none of this would have been possible. we have so much left to see. and we saw so much.

it is vital that they stay funded, operating and protected.

odds and ends.

Working our way east, to take care of some business (those pesky health things that just don’t go away) we rushed through most of the entire west-to-mid-west. we ticked five (yes FIVE National Parks off our list in under two weeks (can you say exhausted) and stopped in at some tourist-trappy gems like Wall Drug and the Corn Palace along the way.

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We somehow even had the timing gods lined up so perfectly that we were in Sturgis, SD just in time for what Sturgis is famous for.

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We saw amazing things, breathtaking things that I will never forget. The herd of bison that we found ourselves in the middle of as they crossed the road in Yellowstone. The sun setting on the Grand Tetons. A forest fire up in the hills at dusk outside of Cody, WY.

Badlands National Park.

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The Oregon Coast. Olympic National Park where we hung out with this beautiful creature for about 15 minutes.

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Glacier National Park….Rainier.

And during the long, straight road through the midwest, this:

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miles and miles and miles of sunflowers. “stop!! I need to get out!!”

cars and trucks speeding by on I-90 watching the crazy lady with the camera take a billion photos of the sunflowers.

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I mean, how could I not?  just look at all of them!

For an updated look at where we’ve been…. we have a map for that.

thanks, as always, for reading…more to follow 🙂

 

 

All images © 2010-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

 

after alaska.

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our trip to alaska was a learning experience.

we realized a lot about what we need to exist.

number one on that list:

our car = our freedom. without it we were trapped in a cycle of bad food choices, nothing to do that didn’t rely on the shuttle schedule and ultimately a scary health moment that led us to the decision to leave. isolation is one thing, but being hours away from medical care is a whole other ball of wax when you have a chronic illness.

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number two:

good friends can be made everywhere you go. we met a handful of people that we will definitely stay in touch with. and then we met a few people who became close friends. being in the same situation; living, working, eating, playing together builds strong friendships. that was a positive. that was something we wouldn’t change.

number three:

alaska is just alaska. so on the bus ride (the torturous, five hour bus ride from anchorage to healy) I kept waiting. waiting for the “WOW!!” moment when alaska would knock my socks off. that never came. I mean, it was pretty and it had trees and mountains and more trees…but it wasn’t like, OH OK THIS IS AMAZING. it was just, *shrug* alaska.

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number four:

I never saw a bear: in fact in the months we were there the total wildlife I saw amounted to three moose and a handful of sea gulls. seriously.

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(ok I did get to see this, which was pretty freaking cool. the bus they used in the filming of into the wild which was an inspiration for coming here in the first place.)

number five:

we really just need each other. (I know, right?) but for real. life is about the people you choose to share it with. and then making that time the healthiest, happiest time possible.

stay tuned. we’re moving this party east 🙂

 

 

All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

 

alaska.

hey friends.

I’ve been the worst at blog-updating, but with good reason. we’re in alaska, as I might have mentioned in a previous post and we’ve been working six days a week. on the seventh day we try to get in adventures, laundry, internet time and rest. *try being the operative word.

we’re seeing most of the wilderness through the windows of the employee shuttle to and from work.

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last week, on our day off, we were able to take a hike in Denali National Park (this is our 26th National Park/Monument since December)

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it was beautiful

and exhausting.

a few weeks ago we had the pleasure of seeing snow…..

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which we had avoided all winter, but we didn’t mind as it was short lived and kind of beautiful to see.

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most days it looks like this. (except when it’s raining, like today)

most nights it looks like that as well…which has been the hardest thing to get used to. the white nights. right now we’re at about 19 hours of daylight, which makes insomnia even more fun 🙂

we are looking forward to being back on the road at the end of september.

seeing friends and family back east.

seeing sunsets, sunrises, the stars. the moon.

driving aimlessly and stopping randomly.

camping.

more parks!

but for now, here we are.

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All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life

months and miles.

today marks the day. the sixth month anniversary of loading up the car, waving goodbye to lake erie, cleveland, ohio…..and heading out on the great adventure.

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we honestly had no idea what we were doing.

like, no clue. 

I mean, sure we’d plotted out a general course…looked at a million blogs about how to do what we were doing, but, seriously.

not a clue.

 

so here’s a bit of what we’ve learned:

–you’re going to need half of what you think you’ll need.

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–travel slow, and  if you find a spot that looks good, stay there.

–always stop for the brown signs on the highway exits (they mean good things: national parks, state parks or really touristy fun stuff!)

–buy a national parks pass. just do it. the national parks are the best idea the US has ever had.

–if you find a spot you like, stay there! (btw: free camping is abundant, you just have to know how and where to look for it. we’ve spent a total of $16 on camping in 6 months, all of that in Texas.)

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–adapting to your environment is key.

–travel bloggers on instagram are not showing you everything (like where do they poop?)

–you’re much tougher than you think.

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–time is a social construct. (think about that one….I must ask at least once a week, “wait, what day is it?” because we don’t have to be anywhere, do anything, on anyone else’s time….weekdays or weekends don’t matter. it’s weird and takes time to get used to.)

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–this country is huge, beautiful and is so vastly different if you just travel more than 300 miles outside of your comfort zone. if you don’t like where you are: move! there is so much out there to see and experience.

–people out there (away from the cities) are much nicer, kinder and more generous than you know.

–don’t wait. we’ve met so many women, couples in their retirement years who’ve said to us (all_of_them_have_said_this) “we should have done this at your age, good for you guys.”

don’t wait. 

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where we go from here:

today we are in yakima, washington, on our way to a town north of seattle for the week. we are then boarding a plane friday for anchorage, alaska.

yes, alaska.

we’ll be working up there for the summer outside of denali national park.

I can say this: we are excited to be off the road for a while, but last night as we spent our last night in the car (fittingly in a walmart, just like our first night in new jersey) we were talking about how we are actually going to miss the freedom we’ve had, the autonomy, the rising with the sun, going to bed when it gets dark, and the general not-seeing-any-other-humans that has been so great. we’re going to have a bit of a time adjusting.

but it will also be nice to have showers and meals and a bed whenever we want.

that will be nice.

so, stay tuned from alaska!

xoxo,

j

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All images © 2013-2016 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life