We’ve now spent three weeks in our primitive dry cabin with no electricity… I thought this would be a quiet escape; no hum from lights, from the fridge, microwave, TV, traffic, and people. But I definitely would not use the word QUIET to describe this little clearing settled deep in Northern Minnesota’s lake country.

I wake up in the morning and ohhhhh I’ve got to pee, because I’ve been holding it until the sun decided to welcome the new day. You know I imagine all these critters lurking just outside the cabin, waiting for me to come outside so they can attack. (This is obviously not realistic and why I’m not a fan of scary movies; they only fuel the imagination). But with the first sign of morning light glowing orange through the dense vegetation, the threat of the unknown and unseen evaporates. All the imaginary haunts have left the yard for the day.

With every good dry cabin, there is an outhouse. I decide to leave the door wide open to take in my surroundings… and it is SO LOUD!!!

What is “peace and quiet” anyway? I ponder the noice and focus my senses to register what is going on around me.

I see a peliated woodpecker swoop from one perch to another 20 feet up in an old budding oak tree. Then hear it POUND away in its new spot looking for its prize.

I hear, “THUMP… THUMP… Thump… Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. Starting off slow, each thump gains speed before fading off. I don’t see the culprit, but I know exactly what it is from growing up as a outdoorsy kid. It’s a grouse thumping its wings on a fallen log. This goes on all day, LOUD, and just out of sight.

There! The peliated woodpecker swoops again and sings its taunting call. Is he laughing?

And the songbirds. I’m not sure if I can decipher how many different tunes I hear; I think maybe 5. What could they really be gossiping about so early this morning?! The sun is just barely peeking over the horizon and lighting up the forest.

Oooooo what’s that?! A group of wood ducks fly by. They have a funny call, but it’s familiar to me from growing up on the Mississippi River; a flyway byway for migrating birds from around the world. I am no birder, but I am starting to appreciate my childhood and the small wonders I have picked up from half listening to my parents, the amateur naturalists who raised me.

Don’t forget the bees and other bugs, buzzing around finding the flowers that have already bloomed saying “Hello summer!”


I walk around the yard and look up to see three turkey vultures gliding steadily with the light wind that is picking up for the day. I know they are a bit ugly up close, but they look timeless soaring around above as they look for their next scavenged meal.

And my next thought before going back inside, “I MUST find a way to teach these things to my children someday.”

I challenge you to enjoy this spring and summer like it would be your last. School is already out for some, and the adventures begin. Go outside and breath in the moment. Listen and actually hear the differences between songbirds, frogs, crickets, or whatever your habitat provides.

There’s a lot more to come from our experiences this summer as we live “up north”.

With no electricity, you might have already figured out that we do not have internet service so I will do my best to sum up our experiences worth sharing and get them out to you.

You might already know we’ve had a prickly situation between Beast and a porcupine. It was a rough night yanking quills out of his snout at 1:30am by flashlight. But rest assured, Beast is doing great! Other than being a bit traumatized and hesitant for us to poke around his gums, he acts as if he’s 100 percent happy dog.

We had family surprise us last weekend by coming up to visit and enjoy the area in their traveling van. We are so gracious to be close to family in Minnesota and had a blast catching up with Mary, Jim, and Goodie.


And how about these 90 degree days?! How have you been finding fun in the heat? We’ve been forced to head straight to the lake after work to cool off. Again, without electricity we are beating the heat the old fashioned way. All three of us find refreshment in jumping in nearby lakes and then lounging waterside until the day cools off into dusk. This is “the life”!

Luckily mosquitos have not yet been an issue, but I will be testing some homemade bug repellent soon enough. Wood ticks on the other hand… oofta! Watch out for these blood sucking disease spreading buggers. I found one on myself that was as small as a poppy seed!!

That is all for right now. As always, wishing you happy and healthy trails from the woods…

Going Off The Grid

Cheers to the start of another new adventure. We really thought we would settle and grow more roots in southwest Michigan. We’ve had a great time with our friends and family here and will always be back to visit. We are grateful for all the time spent and memories made. Having friends and family so close is not something we take for granted.

But in always keeping our sails open to the winds of opportunity, we find ourselves drifting westward once again.

This time we will be stopping in Northern Minnesota for about 5 months. Zach has accepted a position as a Park Ranger with the Army Corp of Engineers and I’ve decided to take a vacation…. just kidding. I am taking my time finding work that will be suitable for a fun summer in lake country.

With the gracious help of family and friends, and friends of the family, we will be shacking up in a dry cabin. Yes, this means no running water and using an outhouse. I couldn’t be more thrilled about it! Summer spent amongst “the woods” is exactly what I had in mind when we decided to move to Crow Wing County.

Will it be more work to live in a dry cabin? Will there be enormous swarms of mosquitos, ticks, and bugs? Will it be difficult without having running water? Absolutely, but amenities will be very close by. I mean, who has a dog? Are they a lot of extra work and a pain in the a** once and a while? Hell yes, but you love them and they are worth it for all the little joys they bring. And have you ever spent some prolonged time in “the woods” without any noise and distraction?  It’s simply peaceful! 🌲🌻🐸🌲🌻🐸🌲🌻🐸

I look forward to sharing our joys and trials of our next adventure and what is to follow!

For now, we are finishing a few days at work and furiously packing and cleaning another house. Another Thieves Household Cleaner success, as we were able to use the natural cleaner for the ENTIRE house (everything)!

We plan to leave by the weekend and spend some quality time cruising the Northern route through some really Great Lakes. Neither Zach or myself have been able to experience the “U.P.” (upper peninsula of Michigan) so the exploration and journey starts there.

Later, we will be putting natural homemade bug spray to the test in the true backwoods. So stay tuned for the results and recipe.

Remember, life is what YOU make it – every minute, every day, every hour.

And as always, wishing you happy and healthy trails.

Photo credits: Rose Wenck and Joe Wenck

Simple Soothing Skin Cream Recipe: I am Beautiful…

This website is all about wellness. But how can we feel good if we don’t feel good about ourselves?

We try to balance a lot in our everyday lives; kids, family, multiple jobs, stress, fear, meal planning and preparing, cleaning and clutter, car repairs, debt, and so many other commitments.

Do we get overloaded? Absolutely!

Do we have the power to free ourselves! Most definitely.

It’s not necessary to bury ourselves under our own commitments. Try decluttering your life in a way that makes sense to you.

  • Does this mean donating things you don’t use anymore?
  • Getting rid of that blouse that’s missing a button and you’ve been saying your going to fix it for the last 4 years?
  • Meditating to help with stress or fear?
  • Asking for help once in a while?
  • Freeing time to make time to pamper ourselves?

Continue reading “Simple Soothing Skin Cream Recipe: I am Beautiful…”

I Have a Choice. Cancer Sucks. My Goals for 2018.

Disclaimer: I’m not perfect.

I may have started my day today with coffee and a run, then on to take a bath. But I also decided it was a good idea to bring a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale with me for my Lavender Soak. Why not?! It’s New Year’s Eve! We only have one life to live, and it can be pretty darn short.

It’s all about finding balance, sharing with others, feeling good about your health, and doing good things for your family.

Because of my past, I have this deep connection or feeling that with health eventually comes disease, cancer, grief, and loss.

I know that this is no way to think or live, but deep down the feeling has always been there. This is embarrassingly the most pessimistic side of my extremely optimistic mindset. I’m totally ashamed to admit it is there, but that does not change the fact that it is a part of me; a part of me that I am working to heal.

We all have our experiences to cope with, and this is mine.The way I cope with this feeling today is to actively 
realize, I HAVE A CHOICE.

I have a choice in more than just my diet and how I exercise (but I’ve come to realize these are the big ones). I also have a choice in lifestyle and my toxic exposure.


Many researchers now believe that only 5-10% of all cancer cases are from gene defects. What about the other 90-95%?!

My search for health and wellness solutions begins here… with a choice.

Can I really control my wellness and possibly help my body’s defenses against disease through diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, and limiting toxic exposure? Continue reading “I Have a Choice. Cancer Sucks. My Goals for 2018.”

Don’t Forget…

On this Monday before Christmas,

Some of us might have already started the festivities,

Some of us might be busy like bees checking everything off of their seemingly endless list of things to get done.

Remember, stress kills.

Please try and find a way to manage it.

And also, let me share my favorite quote of ALL TIME…

EcoTip: Plastic Bags

🌱I promised more information on how I’ve reduced my physical household garbage to around one bag per month. This is AWESOME and makes me feel SO good, but I’m still making mistakes all the time. It’s definitely a learning process, so here is a short eco tip for the week:

⚠️Plastic Bags…

Most mixed recycling curbside pickup programs do NOT recycle plastic bags. In fact, plastic bags being mixed in, hinders the recycling process significantly. Bags get stuck in the large round compressors and other machinery as they spin, by stretching and clinging. Need a visual? Watch this video…

🌲What do to…

Plastic bags such as your shopping bags, bread bags, and Ziplocs can all be dropped off at most large grocery stores or other retailers (you’ve seen the boxes in the front of the stores). The bags need to be clean and dry. So dump out your breadcrumbs, remove your receipts, and keep them dry.

Continue reading “EcoTip: Plastic Bags”

EcoTip: One Month and One Bag of Trash

We did it! We went a month without throwing trash out through recycling and composting (and throwing Beast poo bags away at the Bark Park🐾).

This is it!!

First thing I learned, your trash does not smell when you compost.

Also, listen to your smart Aunt Mary’s. They are talented and know what they’re talking about. My beautiful Aunt Mary has been in the recycling and eco business for decades and has learned so much more than the average person ever will. Thank you for being an extremely patient and AMAZING teacher.

❤️🌎🌳 Love Planet Earth too? Continue reading “EcoTip: One Month and One Bag of Trash”

Life is What YOU Make it 🌻

I wanted an adventure.

I wanted to explore.

I wanted to go to Alaska.

I wanted to get lost in the TRUE wilderness, with WILD animals, big and small,

And experience the unworldly bugs (giant mosquitos are no joke) and flowers that were taller than me,

Walk on the spongy moss hummocks and wide open tundra, so far away from the material world,

Feel the icy winds flowing down off the glaciers as they calf off into a nearly frozen, silent bay, where pods of whales pass by and seals sit on the floating ice chunks and gaze back at you with dark beady eyes.

I wanted to experience the northern lights, in real time.

They always seem to go faster on TV, and be brighter in photos.

There was so much I experienced that I did not anticipate – the seasons, tundra colors, alpenglow, the extraordinary people that are now my family.

Then I met him, the one they called Stoner (it’s his last name, and yes – that

makes me a future Stoner),

With the big laugh and bigger smile.

And so we ended up here, and there, and a few other places (calling 6 states our home in 4 years – jeez, really?!) Continue reading “Life is What YOU Make it 🌻”

Wellness is different for everyBODY

To some this means mindfulness.

To some this means physical fitness and diet.

For some this is more spiritual than others.

The rest of us will find ourselves seeking wellness somewhere in between or in combination of all three of these ways of seeking happiness and abundance.

Mine might stem from my youth and dealing with my mother having a very rare lymphatic cancer at a very young age. I’m not sure how young I was when she was diagnosed, but I do know she fought for over 5 years and passed away 4 days before my 13th birthday.

Although my reason ‘why’ stems from my mother’s health struggles, I believe my true journey did not begin until the few most recent years. For me, my wellness has grown to be an abundance of all three; mind, body, and spiritual awareness. And in my search for a life beyond survival, I’ve also found that I have a passion for sharing.


This is exactly how this begins.


Thank you all for letting me share my wellness journey with you.


As always, wishing you Happy and Healthy Trails…