Recent Weekends Recap | Taco Salad Recipe


Camp Stand By Me

Right, now this blog is a part time gig, something that I do for fun to share my memories and my many, many lists about travel and food. I still work full time as a vocational counselor and on some weekends in the Spring and Fall I work at a Respite Camp through Easter Seals in Vaughn, WA. I’ve gone on and on about how much this camp means to me on Instagram (@living_emilie), so I’ll just give you a little snippet here.

In 2014 we moved to Washington with no plans for where to live, no work except my unpaid internship, and idea what we were going to do. And then, I found Camp Stand By Me. I had worked for Easter Seals Iowa and knew that this was an agency that was truly committed to their mission to ensure that people with disabilities and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work, and play in their communities.
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My first weekend I fell in love with so many different aspects of camp. The counselors from so many different backgrounds working together to ensure that campers had the best weekend possible. The families and how grateful they were to have such a wonderful place for their children to spend the weekend. And the campers who spent their afternoon with their bags waiting for their weekend at camp.

I can honestly say that I don’t think we would have been able to stay in the PNW without Camp Stand By Me and I am forever grateful for every single opportunity it has provided, every person I still have a relationship with 5 years later, and passion it ignited for continuing to work to provide direct support to all people with disabilities. I was more than happy to return this year to work a few extra weekends.

Weekend Trip to Iowa

2019 is the year of weddings. Our Austin trip in April was for my cousin’s wedding, and we hopped on a plane back to Iowa this past weekend for Andrew’s cousin’s wedding. We decided to go last minute so for a cheap flight we flew on Sun Country. Typically I avoid budget airlines like the plague, but other than having to pack everything for a weekend into a backpack, I can’t complain.

We landed in Minneapolis on Friday afternoon. Our hometown is about 3 hours from any major airport so we always end up doing a LOT of driving when we are back. We were tired and knew the weekend was going to go quickly so we spent the first night just filling up on the amazing Taco Salad Andrew’s mom makes (and it makes a lot so I basically spent the entire weekend eating it, so I was in heaven).

Pasta Taco Salad

  • 16 oz Rotini Pasta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 3 Cups Shredded Mexican Style Cheese
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (usually use halved cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 container French Dressing
  • Crushed Doritos for topping

Cook pasta according to package direction.  Rinse in cold water to cool.
Cook beef until no longer pink.  Drain and add taco seasoning.
Mix beef and pasta together to cool in a large bowl.
Once cooled add cheese, tomatoes, and french dressing.
Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve (I usually prefer the taste the next day).
Top with crushed Doritos before serving.

Saturday was wedding day so we woke up early to visit my brother and see the house he and fiance just bought. We took over breakfast and now that I am no longer strictly vegan I needed to have Casey’s breakfast pizza. There’s many memes out there about Iowans and their love of Casey’s and they’re true. Casey’s pizza is some of the best pizza in Iowa (as long as you’re not sensitive to dairy). We got the bacon breakfast pizza: Original Casey’s crust, cheese sauce, eggs, bacon, and loads of cheddar and mozzarella cheese.

Shortly after we all packed into the car for yet again, more driving! This time to Mason City for the wedding.

This was a quick trip, so Sunday we drove back to Minneapolis and flew home to Vancouver. The past few weekends have been hectic and we’ll spend this upcoming weekend at camp, but that’s how I like it. If anyone is interested in working at Camp Stand by Me (during weekend respite in the Spring/Fall or during their Summer Camp Sessions) let me know! It’s an absolutely wonderful place.

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