Layers keep this girl trekking in a cold spring

Just two weekends ago, I was in a blizzard and ice storm, driving south from Charlevoix to Chelsea. While visiting mom, I trekked through lakeshore snow and admired the snow boulders in Lake Michigan. In the North Point Nature Preserve, I mushed through slush and mud and jumped over puddles. Today will reach a high of 70 — whoo-hoo!

When winter lingers, it can be tough to get outdoors. Putting on the layers. Again. And again. And again. I truly believe, though, that if you have the right layers, you can enjoy nature in any weather.

A few key all-season wearables:

  • A light-weight Merino wool buff. This keeps my neck warm in the winter and protects it from pests in the summer. I also use it for an ear warmer sometimes.
  • A wick-away first layer. In the chilliest days of winter, I wear my Merino 250 wool, a mid-weight Smartwool long-sleeve next to my skin. Other times, I’ll wear it as my second layer over another wick-away shirt, which I can remove if I get too warm. Honestly, this is me to a T. I wear these shirts year-round. I also like the light 150 layer, though my favorite is the 250 weight.
  • Wool socks. Keep your feet dry through the seasons. Wet feet and sweaty feet can make for a miserable hike.
  • Waterproof hiking shoes. You never know when you’re going to run into muck in the woods or at parks. My favorites are Oboz and Merrill. Hubby loves his Keens. REI is my resource for boots and socks.
  • Sunglasses. Protect your eyes! Even the haze can affect your eyesight. I now have bigger frames since my eyes are more sensitive. Plus, they really help keep the bugs away as I trek on warmer days. I prefer Smith brand, though I currently have Malibu Jims. Costly, but I need the heavy duty eyewear and protection.

I’ll keep adding to my list of suggested wearables. My goal is to keep my blog posts somewhat brief. šŸ™‚ A comfy body makes for a happy adventurer.

Cheesy Quest

When New Year’s resolutions are made, the resolutions do not usually involve giant bowls of gooey cheese and pasta. Of course, I am going to eat well in 2019; I love my morning oatmeal, daily greens, not-too-heavy dinners and weekly salmon dishes. Healthy eating comes easy to me. There is always dark chocolate involved and often a splash (okay, a glass or two) of wine and *healthy* chips that make me human. I have resolved to ensure I am doing strength training, yoga and cardio two days each, in addition to my nature hikes. My 50-year-old bones need the weight bearing exercise, stretching and movement.

lola rose - montreal - mac and cheese
Cheesy-spicy goodness at Lola Rosa in Montreal

Back in the day, my older daughter can attest to nights of Kraft mac and cheese and Tuna Helper with the “cheesy” (was it really cheese?) macaroni — quick dinners on a budget for this newly divorced mom, working long hours and juggling activities. (Julia was also tormented by too many nights of chicken tenderloins, so I’ve been told.) Those days are long gone. Heck, her younger sister by 8 years does not even like cheese — or meat.

My renewed interest in macaroni and cheese began during the week my dad died in September. My sister and I craved mac and cheese. I finally appeased that desire for warm, gooey mac and cheese (real cheese!) at Lola Rosa on Milton in MontrĆ©al. My friend Amanda invited me to piggyback on her work trip the weekend of my 50th birthday in October. My hubby Kris so nicely bought me a ticket with his frequent flier miles, so the few days away were a real affordable treat. I walked miles and miles in MontrĆ©al and stopped at Lola Rosa for a late lunch. Friends who frequent the historic city thanks to two children at McGill recommended it to me. When I saw a baked mac and cheese on the menu, I sat back and settled in. Twenty minutes later, the most heavenly dish was presented to me. Baked with aged cheddar, Havarti, JalapeƱos, and spinach, the mac was complemented with a fresh side salad. This was my first-ever mac and cheese with JalapeƱos and I’m never going back. To. Die. For. A slight crunch from the slow bake was followed by the perfect pairing of decadent sink-your-teeth-in cheesy pasta and minced spicy pepper.

With memories of Lola Rosa on the mind, when offered a Make Your Own mac and cheese at Bridge Street Tap Room in Charlevoix over the Christmas holidays, I was lured again into ordering the decadent dish. I had a support team this time with Kris and Michael, my brother-in-law. While Bridge Street’s mac and cheese is a regular on the menu, the Make Your Own is every Wednesday night. The options had me at Gouda and JalapeƱos. Cooked to gooey perfection in a four-cheese sauce (Gouda… and, ah, three other cheeses), the mac I custom ordered featured slices of JalapeƱos, slivers of red onions and mushrooms. Proteins and other veggies are options, too. The hefty bowl arrived, and I was happy to share the load. To. Die. For. Hooked.

So, along with my renewed health resolutions, I am going to indulge in every mac and cheese JalapeƱo dish I find in 2019. Guilt free. Fabulously committed to my New Year’s resolutions.