Conquering Cooking: Holubky

One of my favorite things about the holidays is TRADITION. I’m a big big fan of it. I don’t typically care for trying new things on the holidays. (Think: White Elephant). I love every bit of family coming together, laughing, enjoying home cooked meals that everyone brings to the table whether it’s a sit down dinner or a bunch of different items to graze on throughout the day.

Growing up, my grandmother would always make what our family calls “Holubky. It’s the Slovak word for Stuffed Cabbage. It was a staple at every family holiday so when our grandmother passed a lot of our family members tried to replicate the recipe from memory because she never wrote it down. She was great like that. She could just get up and make just about everything from scratch without having to refer back to a recipe. I knew this because growing up I would spend my summers there while my mom was at work and would go there right after school so around 4:00 pm every day, she would get up and start making dinner. Something different, every day, from scratch. We’d eat promptly at 5:00 pm at the dinner table.

Anyway, eight years have passed and we still don’t have the exact recipe. So we’ve all tried our hand at it as best as we could. For me, this past weekend was my first time making it. My cousins and I got together and spent a few hours prepping, boiling, rolling and laughing. My Uncle said to me yesterday “That’s what making Holubky is good for, getting together catching up and laughing”. Not to be too sentimental, but you get kind of a great feeling being able to continue someone’s tradition after they’ve passed, keeping their memory alive.


With that said, what’s your favorite family tradition? Cooking, decorating? I’d love to hear it!

But seriously, if this is a “Nestle Toll House” moment from friends I’ll just kick myself. #NestlayTolhouse’ About 0:50 seconds in.





Conquering Travel: Hocking Hills

A couple weeks ago, the Husband and I had our second vacation for the year. Typically, we take a weeks vacation time in June for our anniversary and a week in the fall near Halloween. It’s his favorite time of year, Halloween! We haven’t always gone away but were able to find a quick cheap vacation spot only a couple hours away.

We’ve known about Hocking Hills for some time now, we’ve just never gone. If you’ve never been, it’s a great trip especially in the fall when the trees are in full fall color. There are a lot of caves, cliffs and falls to see. Enough for a full day plus of hiking. Personally, we thought a full week (Arrive Monday afternoon – leave Friday morning) was a bit too long for us, there’s still plenty to do.

We decided to grocery shop instead of eating at restaurants for a week. We still ate too much. Oops.

Tuesday, we hiked for the day. Thursday we rewarded ourselves with a winery!

We managed to cover almost all of the Cave’s except two. Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs and Rockhouse. I think my favorite had to be Cantwell Cliff’s with the cave. Neither of the area’s were very crowded. Might be because it was mid-week.


Hocking Hills Winery was not anything that we expected. We didn’t check out their web site, but they were the only winery in town and we like to check out wineries in any place we travel to. The winery is tucked back behind a long gravel road next to the highway. Smaller spot, but packs a lot inside. They even gave us a tour. I wish I got photo’s of their interior. It was beautiful there. They even had a heated patio it was perfect to relax outside.


All in all, it was a nice getaway, barely any cell service, no wi-fi in the cabin so it was quiet. Like I said, probably better for a couple day trip instead of an entire week.

Last but not least, this little SOB gave us a nice heart attack. We almost walked directly into it while it was webbing down from a tree in the middle of the woods.


Have you been to Hocking Hills? What did you think and how long did you stay?

Conquering Cooking

It’s no secret that I’m not the best chef in all the land. I go in waves of cooking, trying new things and back to “wanna just go out to eat?” for weeks at a time. When I do cook, it’s important to me that the food not only tastes good but looks like the picture if I use a recipe.

For the month of September, I used a couple guinea-pig weeks and tried shopping via recipe ingredients rather than just buying a bunch of Chicken breasts, veggies and fruits with the “i’ll figure out what to make later” approach to see if I’d save money and not waste as much fresh food.

My findings were that I definitely cooked what I had and used what I bought, however, I’m sure I could have done way better saving money. When I’m actually IN the store, I tend to get overwhelmed looking for best-price and just end up sticking with what I know. (I still think I have PTSD from when packages of hot dogs were buy one get one free and I only bought the one. The husband gave me so much shit for this, but I stick firmly to the fact that we only needed one package for the two of us!)

My favorite recipes were:

Unstuffed Cabbage” by Jamie Callahan at Adventures of a Shrinking Princess –  My friend, Farrah recommended this one. It was easy to make (read: I wasn’t able to fk it up! Yay!) and it lasted me the entire week for lunch/dinner and then some. I really expected this to be completely bland. It wasn’t and I can’t wait to make it again.

Chicken & Noodle Caprese” by GINA at  – Any Chicken Caprese dish has become a favorite in our house. I’ve been trying different variations. With this particular recipe, I used Rotini noodles instead of Zucchini noodles (Zoodles) because I still can’t get into Zucchini.

I have a long way to go to get picture perfect but it’s been fun cooking for him and learning along the way. Can’t beat that for someone who loves to eat.  Also, I should have my husband practice taking food photo’s for me. He just took a few photography classes for his job promotion. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to do that for me… #crickets

If anyone tries the recipes, be sure to tweet me @thatsVeryKari and let me know what you think!

Conquering Kari

I’ve always been one to go from one extreme to another and then completely fall off the wagon, hard, until I can find something to go all in on again. I was never able to acquire that balance.

Eight months before I turned 30, I started a goal list appropriately titled #30B430 . I wrote down 30 things “goals” I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30.

I completed three quarters of that list and I was pretty impressed with myself and it felt like a good motivator. So I kept with it. I started doing goal lists each year. #31in31 and so on.

Every year, however, I completed less and less and added more and more to my lists. Being overwhelmed with the list, life and everything else I just allowed my purpose to go to the wayside.

For the better part of 2016 I spent it stressed out, anxious and not giving thought or effort to my goals, my health and the worst part? My husband.

I sat down to really think about what to do for 35. I don’t feel that 35 in 35 would motivate me and it’s basically the same things rolling over from the previous years.

Having said that, I came up with “Conquering Kari”. I struggled with the name at first because I thought that “Conquer” would require an end date. Eventually I accomplish it and then what.

So I looked up the definition and it said:



overcome and take control of

synonyms: triumph over, be victorious over

successfully overcome (a problem or weakness).
“a fear she never managed to conquer”

So, with that said, I am here to Conquer Kari. I will make a commitment to myself to set goals, smash them and find purpose in through the process in an effort to strengthen myself and my relationships as time goes on.

Enjoy the ride while I’m #ConqueringKari!

21 Early Days – Week One

**LONG POST ALERT!** I promise, they won’t all be like this…or maybe they will. I’m wordy.

On Monday, I started a new challenge for myself called “21 Early Days“. I came across the article written by Felipe Castro Matos. I read it and thought that sounds do-able, tough, but do-able. I then quickly forgot about it and continued to hit the snooze button daily for the next two months.

21 Early Days
21 Early Days via Business Insider

Over that two months, I continued to eat poorly, tell myself that I’d get up and go to the gym or go after work and just never did. Increasingly I felt worse and worse. I continued to get more and more moody, annoyed and anxious. Definitely not very good company to others either. I’m not new to eating healthy or working out. From the time I turned 30 up until my wedding in June 2015 I was running consistently and overall making great food choices. I could have always been more strict, but I was happy with the way I felt, looked and well I was just HAPPY in general. Last Sunday, I had a bit of a breakdown with myself and actually saw first hand how it was affecting my relationships both personal and professional and most importantly with myself. They always say you gain weight in your first year of marriage, I didn’t think I qualified for that due to the fact my now husband and I had been together for ten years already. I figured if I were to gain, it would have happened by now. I was wrong.

While I was wallowing in my own self pity, I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across the 21 Early Days article for the third time. Now, as much as I truly hate when people say to me “Just do something about it” I had to do just that. That very second, I made a commitment to myself to take on this challenge. I got up, packed my lunch for the next day, set out my clothes for the gym in the morning and got to bed around 9:30. This post will cover my first week.

"Just do something about it"

The most important thing I took away this week was that I didn’t have to be as hard on myself as I thought. I didn’t have to force myself to bed at 7:30, I listened to my body and if I needed a little more sleep in the morning, I slept. I still got up earlier and used the snooze a lot less.

Day 1: I felt awesome. I got up at 4:40am. Hell yes, I did it. I made it into the gym and everything. This week will be a breeze, I can totally do this.

Day 2: Maybe I was too ambitious, I’m tired. I got up at 5:00 am, still an hour earlier than normal. I can still do this. Jumped on the treadmill at home. It’s something!

Day 3: Another awesome morning, up at 4:34am gym by 5:00 for some cardio. I was able to eat breakfast at home too.


Day 4: The day I had to listen to my body. I needed sleep, so I slept.

Day 5: SHI*!!!! I never set my alarm the night before. I got too involved in my TV Show before bed and fell asleep before turning the TV off and setting an alarm. Up at 6am in a panic trying to rush around and get ready for work on time. I remember this feeling, I don’t like this feeling. Which is oddly motivating to continue the early days so I can once and for all get out of the “always rushed” mentality.

The first week is always the hardest right? All in all, I did better than I thought I would. I ate properly the entire week. I set myself up for success and it worked. My sleep even improved drastically. I’m looking forward to starting week two on Monday. For the weekends, I’m always up early without an alarm anyway but I plan to continue to be consistent in the gym and with nutrition.

With all of that said, I’ll leave you all with something that resonated with me this week from an important person in my life “What works for someone else will not always work for you”.

Has anyone else ever taken this challenge? Do you normally wake early for the workday?

Peak of the week: I love to watch the sky go from dark to light so early in the morning. I’m a sucker for a sunrise.

Pit of the week: Cravings and the way I feel when I get them and feeling rushed this morning when my alarm didn’t go off. Cravings are slowly but surely going away so hopefully that will be a “Peak” in the coming weeks!

34 in 34 – Red Solo Resolutions

As everyone gears up for the new year and prepares their new-year’s resolutions, I sit down to compare and work on a list of goals. You may have noticed the title “34 in 34”. Every year this title will change.

I used to make up these lofty resolutions back in my 20’s, you know, the ones you will never stick to. Unrealistic resolutions without a proper plan to reach them. That’s when I panicked. I thought “Holy Shit” I’m going to be 30 in eight months! This was four years ago.

Once my panic subsided I sat myself down and produced a list that I appropriately titled “30 b4 30”. Rather than making resolutions, I wrote down a list of 30 different things that I wanted to attempt to achieve before I turned 30 that following March. It gave me eight months to really pack everything I could into that amount of time.

You may think that a list of 30 things to accomplish in eight months isn’t realistic either, however, I didn’t give myself a strict deadline. I went into it with the idea that I would make the effort to achieve everything I could by that March. At that point I would re-evaluate the list, check off what was completed and start the next list more appropriately titled “30 in 30”.

This way every year I could cross off anything I could and add more as each year passed. That brings me to December 2015. With so many things that have consumed my time over the last two years (wedding, traveling and a job location change) I didn’t exactly achieve as much as I’d hoped but it did shed light on the fact that I achieved things I hadn’t even listed.

You may be asking what the “Red Solo Resolutions” part means. This is more of a serious/silly tradition my friends and husband have together. On New Year’s Eve we each have a red solo cup and we write three resolutions on it right after it hit’s midnight. We’ll right a couple serious and a funny one. Then we pass the cups around and write a resolution that we want for that person. It started off as a joke and then it stuck for the last few years.


With all of that said, I was a bit more specific this year for my goals and I broke them down into three areas. Health/Wellness, Personal (which will include me and my husband) and Professional.

Sneak peek to the list (I plan on revealing them only as I complete each goal).

  • Run the Cle Marathon 10k in less than an hour (if it’s 59:59 i’m good with that!)
  • Be in the position to put a down payment on a home with my husband by Dec 2016 (even if we don’t find the perfect home by then)

Goals over Resolutions.



Dear Diamond

It seems like a lifetime since then even though the details of the day are so fresh in my mind.

You asked me to take off work for the day, unusual, but I had a vacation day to use so why not.

For weeks you’d been raving about a haute steakhouse downtown that your superior had recommended. I couldn’t say no considering my love affair with food. For weeks my friends and co-workers alike would say “it’s coming, you know it” “do you think he’ll do it?”

Propose. That’s what they meant. We had already been together Seven years at this point. Not two months prior you looked in my eyes and flatly told me you just weren’t ready. It broke my heart, but it was respectable of you to be so honest. That was a risky little game.

That day came, you told me the attire. I ignored everyone’s assumptions. I didn’t want to ruin the beautiful evening you planned, the work you put into the date night had it not been “The” date night. I wanted to spend a night out with my love. Dress up, let loose, enjoy the moment.  We didn’t arrive casual. Plum dress, my color of choice. Canary yellow cocktail ring. That’s the detail that spun us into the big question.

Prior to arriving, I quietly ditched the cocktail ring. I have a habit of twirling my hair, the ring would continue to pull strands out the entire ride there.

We attempted to to go to the observation deck, closed on a Friday, that wouldn’t foil your plan. We walked around, you always knew how much I loved Christmas and all it had to offer. The nutcrackers and decorations weren’t short of magical.

Then it happened. I looked over the rail down three floors where vendors would sell their one of a kind ornaments. You asked where my ring was, still looking down I answered almost brushing off the question. It kept getting stuck in my hair, I ditched it in the car.

The minute I turn around you’re standing there with “the” ring. Babette as I so affectionately her. To which you said “Will this ring get caught in your hair?”

That ring could have pulled it out in chunks, I’d wear her anyway.

You then surprised me with our two best friends that met us at that Steakhouse. A perfect ending to a perfect evening.  Calling our parents and closest friends and family was truly an experience I’ll never forget. Three years to the day and I’ll never forget a single detail.