Category Archives: travel
Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear “huckleberry” I think of a charming storybook. Being from Southern California, I’ve never had a huckleberry before and I’ve been dying to find them! Ever since moving to Idaho earlier this summer, I’ve been all about getting out to new places and finding new-to-me adventures to cross off my Idaho Bucket List. The Huckleberry Festival in a small mountain town a couple hours away was by far the most adorable small-town event we’ve been to. I have a feeling it will be an annual summer tradition.
Four years ago, my university track team traveled to Bozeman, Montana for the Track & Field Conference Championships. We flew to Spokane, and drove through Northern Idaho through the scenic Pacific Northwest and into Montana. (Little did I know this would be my new home 4 years later!)
After our race, my best friend Kerri and I walked through the tiny downtown in search of some huckleberries which are native to the area. We’d never had them before but it seemed like something we needed to try while in the PNW. The grocery stores failed us though, and the closest thing we got to huckleberries was a huckleberry-flavored chocolate bar. Okay, we weren’t too sad about that ;)
Since moving to Idaho, I’ve had huckleberry wine and huckleberry-flavored coffee, but no fresh berries. We’ve heard that you have to be careful picking them in the mountains though because you are literally competing with the bears for berries!
My parents and I woke up around 5am on Saturday to drive up into the mountains and be at the 5k race registration by 8am. The entire highway is lined with rivers and streams and farmland, which is even more picturesque during sunrise.
“Welcome to Donnelly. Population: 138”
We had no idea what to expect from this festival. But every event kept us pleasantly surprised and happy we made the trip!
The 8th annual Huckleberry Trot 5k race began at the community center, on a dirt road marking the course with white arrows. We got our t-shirts, purple flip-flops, and a goodie bag. The mayor of Donnelly kicked off the race, and about a hundred of us ran down the country road. The straight long road had some cows on either side….and that’s about it. It was literally in the middle of nowhere. There were a couple of boys a little younger than me who ran in a clump, and I just kept up with them for the first half. I had no expectations for my race time and I wasn’t really trying to hit a certain pace.
I crossed the finish line in 20:22, winning overall female. My grand prize? A Huckleberry Pie, of course! I was so excited to win the pie from one of the local Donnelly bakeries :) My mom raced the 5k as well and finished 3rd in her age group so we both brought home a medal! My dad said he’ll race it with us next year and we will not let him forget it ;)
We celebrated with post-race iced americano’s at the local bakery and split a huckleberry muffin that had just come out of the oven. The whole town spans one block, and it was festively decorated with purple streamers and huckleberry flavored specials everywhere.
This weekend was another reminder that I am extremely blessed to have found a new home in Idaho.
After years of gushing over movies and TV shows with a small-town setting, quaint and charming, I can finally experience it first-hand. We hung out on Main St. for the parade…..which lasted all of 7 minutes.
The day was so beautiful and a popular vacation destination, McCall, wasn’t too far away so we decided to head more north instead of heading back home. Look at how diverse Idaho is – mountains, lake, beachy sand, and a pine tree all in one spot :)
We had lunch on the balcony of a brewery looking out on the lake. I ordered the house salad with grilled chicken and raspberry dressing, which I’m now inspired to recreate at home. It was creamy, not like a regular raspberry vinaigrette. I’m thinking of trying out a greek yogurt raspberry puree type experiment to make my own healthy version of this bright pink dressing…
Everything in this area is blooming so most of the stores and restaurants have fresh flowers. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful! We were feeling like we were on vacation all day.
We skipped dinner and went straight to dessert that night with my fresh huckleberry pie while watching the Olympics :) I also made an AMAZING new healthy recipe with a friend last night, but I’ll save that for my next post.
Sunrise and sunset in the country is something else. The golden hour lighting hits the barns and fields and ponds so perfectly, that I don’t think it will ever get old. This morning, my running buddy and I ran 8 miles around a golf course during a pink and purple sunrise. Waking up at 5am is rough BUT we got to see swans in the lake, ponies, and quail. It really beats the clunky treadmill with a view of myself in the mirror that I am used to.
Adjusting to life here is starting to get easier. For a few weeks, there was so many random errands and appointments and events. I really started to miss routine. When I had granola bars and trail mix for dinner multiple times a week, I started to crave simple nights with a home-cooked meal. Which is exactly what I did on Monday. But then I was back to the crazy jam-packed schedule the rest of the week and it’s taken me four days to finish this blog post.
Hence, why I’m bringing you a new clean recipe today!
It has a ton of flavor from seasonings, but it’s also made with clean whole ingredients.
This recipe is fairly quick to throw together, especially if you have a dad who knows how raw chicken repulses you and volunteers to prep the protein while you chop the veggies ;)
I tried out a tri-color quinoa from my friends at BetterBody Foods which makes the dish extra beautiful.
Quinoa Chicken Veggie Bake (<– real creative title, no?)
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 heads of broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 cup baby carrots, chopped
- 1 cup low-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- black pepper
- Mrs. Dash no-sodium seasoning
- optional: chicken broth to cook the quinoa in
(Everything is better with cheeeeeese.)
1.) In a non-stick skillet, cook the chicken over medium heat until they are cooked through.
2.) Add the broccoli, onion, carrot, garlic, and seasonings to the skillet. Heat on low for 10 minutes.
3.) Cook the quinoa in a separate saucepan; bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water or chicken broth to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
4.) Remove both pans from the stove top and combine in a baking dish. Stir in cheddar cheese.
5.) Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. **Optional: add panko bread crumbs and additional cheese for a crispy topping**
It felt good to get some nutritious whole ingredients back on my dinner plate!
Then the next night I totally cancelled it out with some zinfandel and flatbread….A couple girls that I’ve met in Idaho got together for “Wine Down Wednesday.”
When we sat down at an outdoor sushi bar for happy hour, the bartender informed us that it was half-off bottles of wine. Since we like the sweeter fruity wines, we went with white zinfandel. I love the color :)
We ended up hanging out at the restaurant for 3 hours, eventually ordering sushi and flatbreads. Then we saw the movie Bad Moms…oh my gosh. I wouldn’t quite put it on the same level as Bridesmaids but it was pretty hysterical and Kristin Bell is too much. It’s especially fun to watch after a couple glasses of wine in a theater full of giggly girls.
The late night out made the next morning’s run a little more difficult. I decided that my plan to do sprint intervals was overly optimistic and I hung out on the treadmill while watching the news instead. I still got in a solid 6 miles before I ran to Wal Mart – I was “snack lady” for my office meeting that day. (It still kills me to go to Wal Mart. I am a Target girl through-and-through and this is the first time I’ve ever lived more than 2 miles from a Target.) Any other day, I would’ve found a cutesy Pinterest crafty recipe. You know I’m busy when I have to resort to a store-bought bag of trail mix.
And that about catches us up. :) Let me know if you try the recipe!
Being “new to town” hasn’t gotten old yet. It’s still a continual summer vacation, even though I’m technically home. Every single weekend is an opportunity to explore somewhere new. The Pacific Northwest to the Big Sky is so diverse, ranging from farmland to forests to waterfalls. It feels like we’ve already seen so much but we’ve barely made a dent in the Idaho bucket list. Which is okay. Because we plan on being here for a while. :)
How many times do you go on vacation thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice to live here?” Some day this vacation mentality will wear off but I’m soaking it in while it’s here. I’m so proud of the fact that my family and I take full advantage of our free time to venture out to new-to-us places and explore constantly. We definitely won’t be able to look back and call ourselves couch potatoes!
This weekend’s adventure took us to Idaho City.
Idaho City is somewhat of a “ghost town” about an hour outside of Boise, but it’s a very scenic drive following the Boise River past a giant reservoir through the foothills and up into the mountains. We reached about 6,500 ft. elevation and it’s crazy how drastically the scenery changes in just 60 miles or so.
Idaho City is a tiny western town…as in population 468. The ghost town was historically the largest city in the Pacific Northwest during the gold rush. It’s civil war-era charm is preserved with original buildings like the court, city hall and homes along Main St.
You can’t miss the eclectic antique shop. It’s a pretty picturesque pile of junk.
We walked the entire town…..in about 20 minutes :) I can’t imagine living where everyone literally knows everyone else but it’s fun to think about. We couldn’t leave without iced coffees from Sarsaparilla’s Ice Cream Parlor, complete with a vintage Barbie fridge and huckleberry flavor everything. We stuck to the usual: iced americano’s with sugar-free caramel and even though we all eyed the amazing ice cream, we seriously tested our willpower and fueled ourselves with grapes and apples instead.
We had grand intentions of hiking 6 miles along a creek but A.) My mom and I are terrified of bears….or really any wildlife in general. And B.) We discovered we didn’t have the right parking permit. But we enjoyed the gorgeous views driving along the mountains and creeks listening to country music and sipping iced coffees so no complaints :)
My all-time favorite TV show Gilmore Girls is like that. Their town, Stars Hollow, is that charming New England town with the town square and town hall meetings, one diner and one church. That simple lifestyle is so attractive when nowadays cities are so big and we are so small. The more advanced we get with technology, the more detached we become and it’s refreshing to see actual communities. I know that everyone wants what they don’t have. People from small towns probably dream of living in the big city just like I dream of downsizing. Still, day vacations like these are so fun to see how dramatically different other people live.
We weren’t ready to call it a day yet, so we had a spontaneous detour to Lucky Peak resevoir….the closest thing to a “beach” we’ve got 1,000 miles away from the ocean. :) Next on the bucket list: wake-boarding and paddle-boarding. Time to meet some friends with boats…
Our weekend also included watching Track & Field Olympic Trials (FOUR of my old college teammates competed and THREE are moving onto finals…..GOOO Lumberjacks!). I also had a Pinterest Win with some American flag chocolate-dipped pretzels that I took to a new friend’s BBQ on the 4th of July. (I don’t always nail my Pinterest crafts – but when I do, I forget to take a picture. #bloggerfail.)
Hope you had a fantastic 4th of July weekend celebrating America!