Category Archives: Life Updates

Thai Peanut Pasta Salad Recipe (Packing the Pilot Meals Series) + Life Lately

We’ve been home from our St. Lucia vacation for two weeks now, and I plan to share a full travel recap post this weekend! I have quite a lot of information that I want to include in a recap of our vacation at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian resort, plus tips and a resort review so I’ve been type-type-typing away at that. It should be posted later this week, and in the meantime, here is a YouTube video of our trip! The day after arriving home in Boise, my husband and I were both back to work which meant finding another recipe to pack my pilot!

This is quickly becoming a little series of recipes I’m finding to pack my pilot husband on his 3-4 day work trips. For a brief recap, I try to make recipes that can keep for 3-4 days in a cooler bag and taste good (enough) hot and cold. For a full rundown of the requirements of packing meals on the go for a pilot to take on their 4 day trips, check out this post!

This week, I continued finding a lower-carb option for Zeb but this was my first meatless meal in this series. Though it could easily adapt to include chicken or shrimp. I made a Thai Peanut Pasta Salad that was the easiest recipe so far!

You might notice one missing ingredient from the photos of this dish. I bought shelled edamame to include as another protein source in this pasta salad, but completely forgot to add it. It would have tasted so yummy, but I’ll be making this again soon!

Thai Peanut Pasta Salad

A delicious meatless lunch or side, full of fresh crunchy veggies and an easy tangy peanut sauce!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 6


  • 8 oz Chickpea Rotini Pasta (I used Banza) or regular pasta is fine too
  • 1 large cucumber , quartered
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 4 large green onions, diced
  • 3/4 cup shelled edamame
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup peanuts


  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add your chickpea pasta. Boil until soft, drain the water, and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, we will whisk together the sauce. Add creamy peanut butter, maple syrup, vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce and garlic.
  • In a separate large bowl, add your cucumber, shredded carrot, shredded cabbage, green onion (white and green), edamame, and noodles.
  • Combine in the Thai peanut sauce.
  • Top with peanuts.
  • Refrigerate and Enjoy!
Keyword Pasta Salad, Protein Pasta Salad, Thai Peanut

This was a great lunch for Zeb on the plane during his long days, full of veggies and color! The chickpea pasta also has 50% more protein than regular pasta, and the edamame would have also packed a little protein punch if I would have remembered it, haha.

We also celebrated Father’s Day since the last time I chatted on here, and my mom and I made the most delicious homemade Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting. I’d never made cinnamon rolls from scratch before, and definitely never had such a decadent cinnamon roll flavor! We celebrated Zeb and my dad at our house with these rich rolls plus a side of crispy bacon and coffee.

Our local splash pads have opened up and Brynnley is a total water baby! She gets “happy feet” when she sees the water streams, she can’t contain her excitement! It’s so cute to watch her stomp her feet back and forth in pure joy. She’s so animated, screaming and squealing and smiling ear to ear.

Another meatless lunch dish I tried out was a lemony quinoa salad, though Zeb made it very clear that this was too healthy for me to pack on a trip for him. I saved it for myself and a friend who came over to hang out with Brynnley and I while he was gone. I got the recipe here, and I didn’t tweak a thing! It was a good spring/summer dish!

I also attended my first country concert of the summer! We try to go to as many country concerts as we can get to during the summer, and there are typically a LOT of inexpensive ones in the area! There’s always 3-4 concerts at our county fairs. We have two different county fairs in the Treasure Valley of Idaho – both always bring really good music! There’s also lots of live music at a venue in the Boise area that I met my girlfriends at last Friday. The weather wasn’t too hot, we got close enough to the stage and I enjoyed my first ever High Noon with some tacos! We saw Kylie Morgan, Sawyer Brown Band, and Jake Owen. The atmosphere at a country concert is just one of the best dang things ever.

Alright I’m going to put the rest of my blogging time into working on my Sandals Grande St. Lucian Recap and Review post, I just poured a cup of decaf coffee (it’s currently 4:58pm, but I still crave something yummy while I’m working on my laptop).

See you back here soon!

A Week-Long Travel Guide to San Juan Island

For regular blog readers, this post will seem redundant from my vacation recap post last year. But I wanted to create a totally separate travel guide in a more comprehensive post for any future travelers!

This is for anyone looking to find helpful tips and links for an amazing trip to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. Our family of 5 (three generations!) spent eight days here in September 2022 and had a 10-out-of-10 AMAZING time, and I hope to help others experience the same!

If you’ve never seen this Pacific North West scenic setting, this blog post just might entice you to plan a visit. The San Juan Islands have been on my dad’s radar for a long time. On September 20th, he celebrated his 60th birthday and we rang in the new decade with a family trip to his bucket list destination!

We opted to drive the whole way rather than fly to Seattle because we had SO MUCH STUFF to bring with us for our 8 days away from home. We couldn’t even all fit in one car, we had to bring two! Travelling with a baby requires a pack n’ play, mattress, stroller, high chair, car seat, tons of diapers and toys, our big hiking carrier, and so many little things that really add up. We planned on cooking many of the meals in our VRBO house (the kitchen was a culinary dream!) so we also had two coolers and lots of dry goods. The preparation and packing alone took multiple days, as I also had to plan out the logistics of pumping milk and feeding Brynnley throughout the long travel days.

They say that “getting there is half the fun.” Just like their name, they are ISLANDS. So we drove from Boise through Seattle up to Anacortes which took 8 hours. Then we drove our cars onto a massive ferry boat that took us into the Pacific Ocean for about an hour to Friday Harbor which is the port of one of the three main islands. In the map below, Bellingham and Anacortes are in Washington State and Victoria on the left side is in Canada. The islands are right in the middle, owned by the United States.

You MUST book your ferry ticket in advance because they will fill up. You can find a ferry schedule and tickets here: Washington State Department of Transportation.

San Juan Islands are made up of 172 named islands and reefs. However only three islands are served by state-run ferry systems and are the most popular for tourism: San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island. They are known for their unique landscape and abundance of wildlife, including orca and humpback whales which have sightings nearly every day. We stayed on San Juan Island in an incredible rental home right on the water.

There is so much to share about this wonderful area and I’d like to keep it all in one blog post so I will warn you now, this one is lengthy! I’d grab your cup of coffee or glass of wine now and settle in :)

We arrived in mid-September and lucked out with the turning seasons. Some trees were already bright with color and shedding leaves but much of the island remained very green. PNW is known for its moody weather and unpredictable gloominess, but we had pure sunshine and blue skies for 7 out of the 8 days there. (The one rainy day was of course on the date I had pre-booked a private sailboat, but we’ll get to that!)

Our first night, we toured the property, unpacked, got the baby settled into her bedtime routine, enjoyed an easy dinner on the back deck and relaxed. So Monday morning we were ready to explore as much of the island as we could! San Juan Island is 55 square miles and has a population of 7,000.

Our rental home owner greeted us in person to give us a tour of the property and instructions on how to use the included hot tub and kayaks. While he was there, he informed us that there is a private Facebook group that you can request access to where locals post about and whale sightings in real time.

That Facebook group is called Whale Sightings in the San Juan Islands.

We began our day in Roche Harbor for coffee and breakfast next to the marina. We ate at Lime Kiln Cafe, named for the island’s history in limestone quarrying and production. Next we finished our coffees while walking around the marina and admiring the sailboats and yachts. What a lifestyle! From there, we walked around, admiring the cute hotels and restaurants and then touring the sculpture park. 300 sculptures cover several acres of gardens that the public can walk through any time. My favorite was this wooden representation of the orca whales the island is so famous for.

Not too far from Roche Harbor is Lime Kiln State Park which is known as the most notable whale watching spot and also offers tide pools to explore at certain times of the day. There’s also a small lighthouse and some beautiful walking paths around this area. We came once during the day to enjoy the views, and again later in the week first thing in the morning at low-tide to check out the tide pools. Sadly we didn’t spot any whales or colorful crustaceans.

We continued our tour of the island’s perimeter to South Beach where we dipped Brynnley’s toes into the ocean for the first time ever. It was COLD! Brynnley sleeps with a sound machine every night set to “ocean waves” so Zeb pointed out that this should sound like home to her! The beach of filled with drift wood, and my parents collected some to make a Christmas tree-shaped hanging yard ornament.

Close by is one more lighthouse – Cattle Point Light House. I’m not sure you can call .25 miles a “hike” but it was a very hilly and sandy short walk that seriously tested our stroller’s off-roading abilities. Brynnley had just fallen asleep for a much-needed nap so we were determined to push her through whatever terrain we had! The stroller tires left a funny track in the sand and a passerby said they thought there were four odd-shaped snakes on the trail until she saw the culprit haha.

By this point we were all ready for some food and a drink! Our last stop of the day was Friday Harbor, a small town within San Juan Island with tons of cute shops and restaurants.

One thing to note – there are NO chain businesses on the island! No chain grocery stores, coffee shops or convenience stores. Everything is local :) We love that!

We nabbed some calamari and a beverage at Friday Harbor Crab House on their rooftop deck with a view of the port. It was fun to watch the sea planes land right on the water in front of us. We switched spots for our late lunch and walked across the street to Down Riggers which was even closer to the marina.

Tuesday was the big day – the 60th Birthday! The night before, Zeb, my mom and I stayed up to decorate the house and I’m sure my dad had noo idea what we were doing. ;) He was surprised by our matching shirts the next day though that an Etsy shop made to give him maximum attention on our shenanigans that day.

After birthday breakfast on the back deck, we drove to “English Camp.” This requires a tiny bit of a history lesson. In the 1800s, both the United States and Great Britain occupied the San Juan Islands. They divided San Juan Island in half – Great Britain took the north and US took the south. (After touring the island, Great Britain got the better end of the deal here.) Ultimately, we know who won the rights to the land. The camps they held are now national historic parks – English Camp and American Camp. They require a $10 parking pass but are totally worth it! There’s several walking paths around English camp that we did with Brynnley in her stroller. There are still original structures up and some waterfront area that we saw a seal swimming around in and sporadically popping his head up at us.

We came back to this area a couple days later to do a different hike to the tallest point on San Juan Island (700 ft elevation or so) in her Osprey hiking carrier that she loved. The trail was called Mt. Young, and it passes by the English camp’s cemetery for the seven men who died during their occupation. This hike was about 2.25 miles and had a stunning view at the top of the islands and bay and even Victoria, Canada. This is one of the best views you can get on San Juan Island and the hike is pretty mild, so I think it’s a must-do if you are staying here!

Another attraction on the island happened to be just down the road from our rental house – Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. Many people include this as a stop in their travels, and we were able to walk one mile down the dirt road. The farm is GORGEOUS and the trees were starting to turn colors with rolling hills in the background. These alpacas have it made!

They were so friendly and cute. It’s free to come and roam the property and there is a store on site with different blankets and clothing items made from the alpacas. P.S. I have decided that alpacas look like the result of a camel breeding with a golden doodle. :)

Brynnley was very alert during this stop and loved talking to all of the alpacas who would look her way!

Alright – courtesy pause here to say that if your mug or glass are empty, you might want to go get a refill because we are NOT even close to being DONE YET!

Another fun short hiking option would be the Roche Harbor Trails – a system of 5 trails stemming off from a single trailhead that cover over 6 miles total but contain some loop options that are between 1-2 miles total. I did my research on this one beforehand and knew that one of the trails would connect with the Roche Harbor Disc Golf Course. We packed along my parents’ sets of discs with us and played several holes along our very green and lush walk.

Directly across from the Roche Harbor Trails was one of the best meals we had on the vacation. (We ate so good on this trip, both at restaurants and cooking at home, so it really is impossible to even say “best” here.) My parents made reservations at Wescott Bay Shellfish Co.

This is a really cool atmosphere for outdoor waterfront dining. It is an aquaculture farm/shellfish company, and during the summer season they have “Tide Tables” where they serve BBQ’d oysters with a variety of compound butters and some sides that change with the local farmers crops. I’m a very picky eater and the texture of oysters has always grossed me out, so I planned on trying a polite bite and then making a lunch out of my prosecco and bread…I was pleasantly surprised! BBQ’d oysters with such flavorful butters are a whole different story though, and I ended up loving them so much I ordered another round just for myself! The ambience of being right on the water under the umbrellas of the picnic tables on such a warm sunny day and trying new unexpected foods and flavors was one of my highlights of the trip.

Like I said though, not every day was sunny. We had one gloomy rainy day, and that happened to fall on the day that I had pre-booked a private sailboat tour around the islands. This was mine and Zeb’s birthday present to my dad – we thought it would be fun to have a different perspective of all of the islands, and none of us had ever sailed before. Well, after three hours on the boat I still don’t think any of us can really say we “sailed.”

Even though it was raining and drizzling, there was just NO wind. The sailboat really had no movement unless Captain Ward turned on the motor and scooted us around Friday Harbor. We did get to see a bunch of seals hanging out on some rocks and that was fun, but we never got too far from Friday Harbor and we didn’t get to have much of the new perspective I was hoping for. We were ready to just head back and head somewhere indoors for a late lunch.

That day we ate at the San Juan Island Brewery which had a full food menu and a huge seating area, both indoors and outdoors. We all loved our meals – I got their flatbread special which had whole cloves of garlic (sorry Zeb). I’m not a beer drinker so I had a glass of white wine. We walked a little around Friday Harbor again, but for the rest of the trip that I haven’t covered we spent enjoying our rental house and all it had to offer!

Two kayaks were included with the house, which was really fun to go out into the bay see some of the beautiful homes up close. First I went out with my mom, and we were convinced there was a sea snake behind us but later could see more clearly that it was in fact seaweed. Then I went out again with Zeb and we ventured a little farther to the site of a fishing boat that had sunk a week earlier and was being pulled up by a crane on a barge. It was quite a large operation!

I tried out four different local coffee shops on the island and my favorite was Salty Fox coffee right next to the ferry port at Friday Harbor.

Before we knew it, our eight days in the PNW had come to an end and we were getting ready to take the first morning ferry back to Anacortes.

I created a 20 minute vlog of our vacation for my YouTube channel if you want to see even more detail of the vacation!

What else would you like to know about the island, if you are planning a trip? I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments section!

I Left………For Real, This Time 😉

I’ve always been very aware of Cyber Safety 101 & protecting certain information from the internet. I even used to color out my college name from my uniform in old pictures, even though a simple Google search of my name would have told you which athletic program I’ve ran for! (Northern Arizona University, go Lumberjacks!) I’ve always made sure that anything posted publicly doesn’t share specific locations, license plate numbers, or employers and I usually post social media stories many hours after they were actually taken. You just can’t be too cautious these days!

That’s why I’ve always been vague about the specific employer I’ve had for the last 6 years. BUT my badge and computer equipment are all turned in, and my last day was yesterday!

This wasn’t the first time I quit this job though….there’s a whole story time that goes with this one!

In college, I majored in marketing. I briefly thought that Sports Marketing was going to be a route I pursued but after I couple of internships I realized that it “sounded” cool but wasn’t my thing! My mom had worked in purchasing for an international food manufacturing company her entire career, so my first official job was in their Supply Chain and transportation department. I was able to work remotely from college for them 10 hours a week throughout my senior year, and continued with them full-time after graduation. Even though it had nothing to do with marketing or writing, it was a great-paying position in an international company so I kept it!

When I moved to Boise in 2016, I was job hunting for primarily marketing-related positions but it seemed like almost everything that was entry level was sales heavy and that is SO not my personality! My brief stint as a personal trainer ended rather quickly when I realized the bulk of the real work is selling fitness packages to clients. (I thought, “don’t they know they can get all of this for free on the internet….?” haha.)

I found a job posting for Idaho’s largest health system – St. Luke’s – in their supply chain department. Supply chain was pretty much the only thing on my resume at that point! It was a manger position, so a little out of my league but I applied anyways. When they offered me an interview, I was told it was for a different position than I applied for. They saw that I had a marketing background and even read my blog (I’ve had Strong Like My Coffee since 2012!) and had a hybrid position in mind.

I interviewed in their corporate office with the vice president and my soon to be boss and her director, and found out that I would be half analyst/half communications coordinator for their department. I started in June 2017, and my blonde short hair from that first day has been on my badge ever since!

One year in, I knew I had zero passion for supply chain and didn’t love working in a corporate environment. However I was also aware that it was a great paying job in a well-respected organization with a lot of flexibility. It was conveniently only 2 miles from my townhome, I had a boss that I liked, and I made friends with my coworkers. I would walk around the office and chit chat at other cubicles each day, walk laps around the empty fourth floor of the building, and go to the Starbucks in the parking lot so frequently that they all knew my name there.

In February 2018, I took a vacation all by myself to North Carolina. Wilmington, to be exact. Sound familiar? It’s where all of the Nicholas Sparks movies take place 😉 (It also wasn’t my first time there – read about my southern road trip here.) I was a single 25 year old, feeling like I wasn’t meeting anyone in Idaho… yes, maybe a tad on the dramatic side, but I came home and I quit my job.

Not only did I quit my job at St. Luke’s, I ended my lease on the townhome I was in. I found a Wilmington apartment online that was still being constructed but would be open in the summer of 2018. I paid thousands of dollars for a POD storage container that my parents and friend Zach helped me load all of my belongings into and send off to North Carolina. I moved back into my parents’ house until my Wilmington apartment would be ready.

My parents and I worked out the logistics of getting me there and set up – I don’t remember the exact plans because it’s been so long now. But I think we were actually talking about SHIPPING my car and flying? My parents had to take off work, oh and did I mention that I didn’t have a job in North Carolina yet? I started to fill out applications but hadn’t gotten any interviews. I thought I would have enough savings to live off of until something came along. And in the meantime, I could live my best Nicholas Sparks movie life 😁

(Are you laughing out loud at me yet?)

When I put in my notice at St. Luke’s, I said I didn’t have a hard end date and could stay until they found a replacement. I could even stay for a couple extra weeks to train that replacement. Hey – I needed to pad my savings account, after all! They did offer a candidate my position, but he would not be able to start for a few weeks.

In the meantime, I was in a limbo state. Living with my parents temporarily while most of my belongings were in a POD who-knows-where. Waiting for my Wilmington apartment to open up, with my days of employment numbered. I went to a happy hour with some girls from St. Luke’s one evening, and we were talking about why I wanted to leave. I said Idaho has the worst dating pool, and it’s so hard to make new friends after college! At some point, we all made me a dating app profile. I’m sure some wine had something to do with it ;)


We went on a few dates, and right away I told him about my plans to move to Wilmington and me just wanting to meet people and have a social life in the meantime. Well, when he responded “I have free flight benefits, so I can come visit you in North Carolina…” I was a little stunned. Hmmm. I met a guy that I actually really like, who has so many friends in Idaho that he introduced me to. In our summer dates between May and June 2018, he made me fall in love with Idaho.

Okay not to get all cheesy, but it did make me stop and think that maybe my Nicholas Sparks story wasn’t in North Carolina after all. I started having doubts about moving when I realized that I could have a relationship, friendships and a social life here after all. BUT – I had already quit my job and signed a one year lease across the country! I was locked in now! Right??

First – I voiced my second thoughts to my parents who were all too eager to agree with the new plan to stay.

Next – my Wilmington apartment complex called me. They had oversold their 2 bedroom/2 bathroom units. I had the option to move into a 3 bedroom at a discount, or a 1 bedroom. I took this as my opportunity to ask to be let out of the lease, penalty-free. They gladly accepted. Okay, this was too coincidental. Decision made, I’m staying.

But now I still don’t have a job.

I told my boss at St. Luke’s about my sudden change in plans. He was very sorry, but the position had already been offered to someone else who would be starting soon but I could stay long enough to get them fully trained.

The next week – the candidate called my boss and said he could no longer accept the position, his circumstances had changed.

My boss asked me if I would just like to keep my position.

Now that’s the most “fall into place” thing that’s ever happened in my life! I couldn’t believe it!

I did still have to pay to have my POD returned to me and find a new apartment, but all things considered that’s not bad.

I still think about Wilmington and I think it’s such an amazing area of the country that I would love to continue vacationing at. But wildly enough, 4 months later Wilmington was hit with a massive hurricane that was on national news for days/weeks. I would have been there, stranded 2,000 miles from my parents with presumably little friends and likely no job. I can’t imagine!

Life has worked out so crazily with all of that. Thankful for my stable income once again, I kept my supply chain analyst/communications position for another 5 years. I never did find a passion for supply chain, but all of the previously mentioned qualities about the job have been more valuable to me.

I worked full-time in the office until March 2020. We were sent to work from home after the pandemic hit; they supplied us with monitors, a docking station, keyboard, webcam, and headphones. I never set any of mine up…….I worked from my laptop in random rooms around the house because I thought we would eventually return to the office! Once they decided to make remote work permanent, Zeb and I were house hunting. Once we moved into the house, I was so used to working from the laptop that I just continued doing it. I returned all of my equipment yesterday in the same packaging and box I drove them home in 3 years ago 😆

Once I had Brynnley, I decided to just return to work part-time because I did not want to use daycare for her. I wanted to care for her myself, so I was able to use my mom and Zeb two days a week to do my St. Luke’s job and watch her myself the rest of the time.

Now that she is a toddler, I want to be much more hands on with different activities and outings we do every day. There’s a huge new park down the street, and a really nice library downtown that we want to take advantage of.

In January, I found a part-time work-from-home position for a small business out of Utah that is – marketing, writing, blogging, and graphic design. It’s made up of all MOMS that also have their kiddos home with them, so it’s not uncommon to log onto a creative brainstorm meeting and see a toddler or two sitting on someone’s lap. It sounded too good to be true, and once I started working for them I knew I was ready to let go of my St. Luke’s position.

I gave St. Luke’s a month’s notice and I told my boss, “I mean it for real this time!” Haha!

My new team and I all got together in Salt Lake City for a BBQ last weekend and had the best time getting to know my new work family!

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