Foodie Friday: Tatortot Hotdish


You can take the girl out of the midwest, but you can’t take the midwest out of the girl.

I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve done a foodie Friday post. Up until Dubai, I was eating salads all the time. Not too exciting, huh?

Well, vacation is over, diet/fitness has been put on hold until after Thanksgiving week. I mean, c’mon I don’t like to set myself up for failure.

Thanksgiving in the Bot household isn’t complete without some tatortot hotdish action. At first glance, you think, “these people just throw a bunch of stuff that tastes good together”. Um…yep, that’s about right!

The salty, crunch to the tatortots greets your tastebuds than you get savoriness of the ground beef and vegetables. Mmmm. I like to top off my tatortot hotdish with LOTS of green onions and a dab of sour cream. Completely optional, but you’re missing out if you don’t try it at least once.

Again, I’m not one to measure out ingredients so this is a rough recipe.


  • 1.5 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 can Corn
  • 1 can Peas
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom
  • 1 can Cream of corn
  • Tatortots
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar
  • Green Onions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional: Sour Cream

1. Brown your ground beef. Salt and pepper to taste

2. Drain and transfer your ground beef to a casserole dish.

3. Add your peas, corn, cream of mushroom, and cream of corn

4. Add half a cup of grated cheddar. Optional: Add 1/2 cup of sour cream

5. Mix.

6. Salt and Pepper to taste

7. Layer frozen tatortots on top.

8. Throw it in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour or until the tatortots are slightly browned.

9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 min.

10. Top it off with a little more salt and pepper! Optional: Here is where you can add your chopped green onions and a dab of sour cream.

11. Devour tatortot hotdish.

SO EASY. Enjoy!


Vacation photo tips for the non-photographer


We are approaching the end of the year AGAIN. Where has time gone? It has been yet another whirlwind year for us. The Bots sure know how to go hard!

Over the past year and a half, I have had an outpour of compliments on my travel photography. A lot of people suggested that I try to make some money off of it – and hey, that day may come!

Until then, I’m here to give you some tips on how to achieve your own vacation/holiday photo greatness. The best part, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to be able to pull these off. You’re welcome.

1. The “wider” the merrier


I know you want that money shot of that landmark but don’t be afraid to open your image to the “bigger picture”. Including the captivating sky will dramatically improve your image. Even a gloomy sky will give your image intense drama.

Unless you plan to do photography for a living, it wouldn’t make sense for you to run out and buy a wide lens. But don’t fret, most point and shoots offer wider angles that will do a decent job. The stock lenses that come with an intro level dslr does decent as well.

2. It’s all in the details

On the flip side to the above, don’t forget the details of your travel. When we’re on travel, we tend to focus on the landmarks and overlook the minor details that make the landmark unique.  Go ahead, get closer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the images you get out of it!


3. Pano-delic

Practically every photo taking device out there has a panoramic feature. SO WHY AREN’T WE USING IT MORE OFTEN!? They create some of the mesmerizing photos I have seen. And seriously, they are perfect for your facebook cover. Just sayin’.


4. Get up early, stay up late

Sometimes, people just ruin pictures. Especially during peak hours when there are obnoxious amounts of people getting in your way. So get up early and take advantage of the “golden hour” and snap a few pictures before the crowds swarm with their selfie sticks.


Same concept applies to evening time. Bear in mind that you are more likely to run into crowds but sometimes the sunset is worth the effort.

5. Don’t take every photo at eye level.

Try different angles! It’ll make grand seem even grand-er. Have fun with it!


6. Take LOTS of pictures.

You never know what you’ll end up with. Whats the worse that can happen? You run out of space on your card? Those are fairly inexpensive. You really should have extra anyways. You can always weed out the “bad” at the end of the day anyways.

PLUS, you don’t know if the one picture is exactly sharp until you pull it up on your comp so have a couple extra as back up!

7. A massage heat corn bag is your broke-person tri-pod.

Ledges and benches normally aren’t reliable. And there may not be someone around to take it for you. It’s ok, bring a small corn neck warmer/heat massage bag and set your camera on that instead of a big annoying tripod. Voila.

8. Beat the blahs

I am guilty of this on a constant basis. When the horizon line is smack dab in the middle of your picture, it tends to bore your picture down a little. To accentuate your foreground or your sky, situate your horizon above or below the center line and you’ll have a significantly better image.


I hope some of these simple, yet practical tips help you achieve the vacation photos you desire. Don’t forget to hang up your masterpiece. C’mon you worked for it!



Jetsettin’: Hey Maldives heeeyyy

It’s no secret that the bots don’t exactly know how to navigate themselves in the water. Despite that small detail, the Maldives has always been on my bucket list. More specifically, a water villa/bungalow. The Mr. and I agreed that we would check that off our bucket list for our 10-year anniversary in 2017. To my surprise, he made the decision to move it up several years and we would go right after Dubai. His decision was both financially driven and of course romantically driven as well. You see, going to the Maldives from Dubai is both a shorter flight and less expensive than traveling from the states. WIN!

I managed to find deals on the flights to make the entire trip around 700 euros but we decided to pay the extra money and take Emirates airlines. We took Emirates to Thailand and we were so impressed with their planes and their service we wanted to travel in both style and comfort.

On all 4 flights we hit the jackpot and got the entire row to ourselves. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. Heck, who wouldn’t want an entire row to themselves?! I’ll let you in on an obvious secret we used. We normally book the window and the isle seat or both isles if you’re in a 777 and larger. NO ONE wants the middle seats so we normally luck out and get the row to ourselves. If it happens to be a full flight and some poor soul got stuck with the middle seat they will be more than happy to switch with either one of you.

We skidded our way into the Male airport early in the morning. The runway to the airport leaves no room for overestimation so it was rather a terrifying landing. We quickly found our resort representative and boarded our boat. After a picturesque 30 minute rocky boat ride, we made it to Hudhuranfushi Island. The weather was gloomy with sporadic rainfall. Low tides made our bungalow look a little sad but I was so tired it didn’t even faze me. With little to no sleep, all I wanted to do was sneak in a couple, ok, 3-6 hrs of sleep. So that’s what we did: ate, slept, ate, and slept. Bliss. We did an all-inclusive package at the resort so there was no shortage of some stuffing my face action.

For some reason, I woke up early enough to watch the sunrise. The remainder of the day was absolute sunny perfection. The water was pristine and the sounds of the waves rocked us to sleep. Words can not even paint a picture beautiful enough so here are some pictures for you to gawk at.


The rest of the trip was eating, swimming, eating, sleeping, relaxing and repeat.


So all in all, we had an amazing time and would do it again the first chance we get. Like when get enough rewards points or win the lottery. Ya know, whatever bone we get from the universe – we’ll take.

Oh – and if you’re going to do the Maldives before it disappears from the face of this earth, spring for the water bungalow. You won’t regret it.

If you have some time to waste at work or feel like neglecting your family, the vlogs are readily available to you below.


Jetsettin’: Dubai

We had one of the most memorable vacations this year during our 8-day trip to Dubai and Maldives. The first leg of the trip was spent in Dubai. We were able to book a hotel at the Grand Hyatt Dubai, for 4 days and nights, using solely our Hyatt reward points. Since this hotel was a higher tier Hyatt, it cost 15,000 points per night instead of 5,000 points per night. TRAVEL TIP: We were able to transfer our Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards points to Hyatt points at a 1 to 1 ratio. This allowed us to easily book all 4 nights.

Exciting city of Dubai
Exciting city of Dubai

The Grand Hyatt Dubai was amazing. When we arrived at 9AM, they were nice enough to check us in early and upgrade our room! This already showed much promise for the remainder of our time in Dubai. When we arrived at our room, it was amazing. We had a wonderful bathroom, walk-in closet, king size bed, crib for Ittybot, spacious room for him to run around, and a nice working area where we can sit and read and or edit on the MacBook. – My words do not do it justice but it was definitely grand.

The rest of the hotel facility was also grand in nature. The gym had 2 rooms, (1) a cardio room with treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes, etc. and (2) a weight room with all the main gear you need. The swimming pools (1 indoor and several outdoor) were amazing. Preston had fun at the kid’s pool, which looked like a mini waterpark, and at the larger pools. Hands down, the service we received made it the best hotel experience ever

The hotel was further away from places like the Dubai mall but the taxi’s were fairly cheap and allowed us to get to any point for around 5-8 euros. TRAVEL TIP: You do not need to take the metro or bus in Dubai – taxis are relatively cheap and very convenient.

Since our VLOG covers most the places that we went, I’ll just summarize the top places and things (in no particular order): Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach, Desert in the Night tour, Old Souk, Souk near Burj Al Arab. My favorite was the Dubai Mall due to all the food options!

Before our trip, we thought 4 days would’ve been enough time to spend in Dubai but we realized at the end of our trip in Dubai that we could’ve definitely spent another couple nights there to sightsee and relax at our wonderful hotel!

Dinner in the desert with FunTours
Dinner in the desert with FunTours