Snap Judgments.

I recently started working out a new gym, Rev365. I love it! If you are looking for a gym, check this place out. This post isn’t about the gym though even though it’s great. It’s about an incident that happened at the gym that left me thinking for a few days.

I met a woman there. She mentioned I looked familiar and after running down a few leads we realized our kids went to the same school and were on the same swim team. As I’m talking to her, this is what I’m thinking in my head: “Wow, she’s so pretty. Way prettier than me. Are those her natural lashes or does she have mascara on? She’s also super fit. No way we will be “gym” friends.” As she continues to talk I learn she lives in the what my kids call the “big house section” of our neighborhood which only confirms to me there is no way this lady will want to socialize with me. Let me be clear – she was nothing but kind, gracious, and inquisitive. I was letting a few physical traits determine whether or not we would ever talk in the future. I had sized up the situation and decided in less than five minutes whether or not this interaction would be worth pursuing again in the future. [Note: I never think people are going to like me when they first meet me. I know… this sounds like another much-needed therapy session I should have. Instead, I’ll just blog about it.]

Another example! About a year ago, we moved into our house. The across the street neighbors came over with brownies to introduce themselves. I stress-ate six brownies that day. Moving is hard. Anyway, we are doing the normal “get to know you” chit chat and I asked her if she works and if so, what she does. She replied that she was a political commentator, but had taken a step back recently. I think she even said “a big step back.” Immediately, I wanted to ask…for what side were you commenting?? WHAT SIDE? I couldn’t come up with a polite way to ask that question on the fly, so I asked for what outlets. She rattled off a few newspapers, radio shows, and then I think she said Fox News. There it was! A reason we probably weren’t going to be friends! She was a conservative political commentator. [I haven’t really touched on politics too much here, but let me pause and say this: I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats in my life. I tend to be to the left of the middle on a most issues. I know that the majority of my friends and family would prefer me to be to the right of middle, but I’m not. 101 blog posts could be written on this subject, but honestly, I’m not brave enough to dive into politics here so… there ya go. Ok, back to the brownies, standing in my empty living room, and reeling that I’m living across the street from a conservative political commentator.] They walked out the door and I turned to J and said “Well, I doubt we will be friends.” Snap judgement. How immature of me. How small. The “across the street” neighbors have turned out to be some of the best neighbors we have ever had. They have helped with our kids, our dog, and included us so that we could integrate into the neighborhood. We’ve also had discussions about her beliefs and evolution stemming from the last presidential election. We still differ on a lot of issues, but these conversations have been incredibly valuable to me. Maybe politicians just need some camp chairs, sparkling water, and little kids playing in the street to understand each other a bit more? It’s worth a shot.

How many times have I made a determination about whether a relationship was worth pursuing because of a label, a physical trait, a title, or a zip code? More times that I would like to admit. Granted, my own insecurities are at play here, but so are labels with which we peg each other. It’s so easy to dumb people down to one word – republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, big house, small house. Labels make it easy to dismiss and not engage, but is that what we want to teach our children? I don’t. I want my kids to give people a fair shot, to hear the “other side,” and to be friends with people who are different than them. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my seven short years of parenting, it’s that kids will do what you do, not what you say. It’s up to me to show my kids how to face their internal insecurities and how to dismiss labels so they can reach out to the complex individual in front of them and be open to a connection.

So, if I’m the example, I better get to it… starting at the gym. And maybe a therapy session or two.

Crock Pot Meal Planning for Your Manic May

Crock Pot Meal Planning for Your Manic May

I’ve already established that next week is going to be total chaos. Of course, prepped with my new book, I know I will handle it all wonderfully, be present, and won’t be frantic at all. That’s a lie, but in an effort to manage the chaos I planned a weeks worth of crock pot meals so at 4 pm I’m not panicked about what we are going to eat as we dash from one activity to the other. This isn’t the week to try out a new recipe so most of these I have posted before.

Monday: Slow Cooker Turkey Meatloaf from the Skinnytaste Fast & Slow Cookbook
I’ve said it before and here I am saying it again – this is my go-to cookbook during the week. I want to eat healthy-ish. I want to have a warm dinner for my family to gather around. I don’t want it to take forever. The recipes from this book check all those categories. Trust me, you need this cookbook in your life.

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken & Sausage Creole
My absolute favorite crock pot recipes are the ones you dump all the ingredients in the pot and turn the switch to on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled past a crock pot recipe because the first instruction is “heat a skillet over medium heat.” Nope. Eight times out of ten that totally defeats the purpose of a crock pot recipe for me. This recipe is filling, has a little kick and yes, you just dump it all in there!

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
So to be honest, this will probably just be for J and H. L and I have to be at the theater at 5:15 for her dress rehearsal so, my guess is I’ll pack us a salad and sandwich for us to eat there. Or, I may just drive thru Chick Fil A. Either way, I’ll have the leftovers for lunch the next day over zucchini noodles. The boys will eat this over good ol’ regular processed pasta.

Thursday: Mediterranean Bean Salad
The kids have a practice swim meet on Thursday evening. I’m hoping the Gator Grill will be fired up and J and the kids will eat something from there. I plan to make and bring this Mediterranean Bean Salad. This salad is good for outdoor events like this because it doesn’t contain any meat. Sometimes I worry about whether or not a dish will “hold up” in the heat. This one should and it’s very filling.

Friday: Out!
My Mother in Law is coming in to town on Friday for L’s recital the next day. After swim practice, we plan to go to Alicia’s (we haven’t been yet!) and I plan to have a margarita celebrating we made it through our crazy week!

Do you have any tips for meal planning for crazy weeks?

Friday Finds – Manic May

This week was the calm before the storm. I’ve heard the stories and seen the memes about May for moms, but wow… this is the first year I’ve fully experienced it. I know that it will only get busier as my kids get older. Next week we have swim practice every day, dance class, dance photos and dress rehearsal, Cub Scouts Crossing Over Ceremony, a practice swim meet, family coming in from out of town topped off with a dance recital. Phew! I know I’m not special when it comes to this manic May scheduling, but I do think I have issues managing it all with grace which brings me to my first Friday find.

  1. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist – Full disclaimer. I haven’t read this whole book yet. In fact, I was just introduced to Wednesday night, but I started today and it’s exactly what I need to read now. I admit I often aim for perfection over being present with those I’m with. I’m sure a therapy session or two would help me understand what I’m trying to accomplish with all the striving and aiming for perfection, but it’s a busy week so… therapy will wait and I’ll read this book instead. This next week is a big week for my 7 and 4 year olds. I don’t want them looking back at their scout crossing over ceremony or their dance recital and remember me being stressed out and snappy. I want them to remember me beaming at them from the audience fully immersed in their moment. I don’t have any illusions that reading this book in the next day or two will magically change how I approach life, but I am hoping to gain a few ideas to help me next week. And then maybe I’ll get around to scheduling that therapy session.

2. A Bogg Bag
I was at swim practice and another mom had the coolest pool/beach bag. It’s the Bogg bag. It doesn’t tip over; it wipes down easily and comes with a little insert to keep your phone and other personal items dry. I ordered one in anticipation of our many pool days this summer and our August beach trip.

3. Trish McEvoy Make Up Brush.
I have never really been “in” to beauty. Most of my dollars are going straight to clothing. I have never watched a YouTube video on how to apply make up and I have only two lipstick colors I wear regularly. However, lately I’ve been paying slightly more attention to make up and skin care. This brush makes applying eye shadow SO easy. I did have a make up lesson a little over a year ago and I remember the make up artist stressing the importance of brushes. In my opinion, this one should be your first brush purchase.

4. J Crew Sale
Ugh. It was so hard for me to even look at this site since I’m in the middle of my shopping fast. There are so many cute things for summer. Currently, sale items are 50% off and today they have 35% off full priced items! IF I were shopping, I’d snag this dress at 35% off. I love the colors and it looks so comfortable! Perfect for a beach vacation!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! We are pretty busy, but are armed with our bug spray for the grad parties, pool parties, girl parties and everything in between!

take care of yourself!

My Huge Character Flaw and How I (try) to Manage it.

A recent conversation in my car.

H: “Mom, how come we can’t buy a G Wagon?”
Me: “Because we can’t afford it. We wouldn’t have money to do anything else. No trips. No swim team. Maybe no house. Nothing.”
L: “Well, Mom, if you spent all your money we would still be a family and it would be OK.”
H: “L, are you crazy? If Mom spent all her money, we wouldn’t have any left and we would have to live on the SIDEWALK!”

I think he meant to say street, but he made a good point. I found it so interesting at such young ages they already had very different ideas about money. H loves to watch his money pile up. He can tell you how much he has down to the cent. He is always planning on how he can make more money and save more money. He won’t buy the $27 toy until he has almost $200 saved because he doesn’t want to feel like he has depleted his funds. L, although I know her sentiment was tenderhearted, has the opposite view on money. She doesn’t even know where her money is half the time and she sure couldn’t tell you how much she has saved. If she knew she had $70 she would probably want to buy 10 Barbies and ask us to cover the difference. (We wouldn’t.) You’re going to argue, “yeah, but she’s only four-years-old.” To that, I would say, you haven’t seen this girl in Target. If we venture in to the girls section she is snatching dresses, shorts, and swimsuits up left and right. I see something in her that tells me rational thought goes out the window when she is shopping and what I see is me.

I am the WORST at money. The worst. Ask my husband. He will confirm this. So would my parents! J and I always joke, I can manage time and he can manage money, but… in the end what is the most important to manage? I would argue your money.

I don’t know why I’m so bad with money. I always have been. After hearing my kids talk, I wonder if it’s kind of innate. I’m not saying that is an excuse, but it did made me wonder. My reasoning skills are shot when I see something I want which is usually clothes. If I have $5, I’m spending $5. If I have $500, I’m spending $500. I remember at 17, my friend, Anna, helping me write out a budget in crayola marker in my bedroom. I think we allocated $20 a month in CDs. When I was 20, I remember sitting in an apartment with some frat guys I hung out with trying to make a budget. I think by that point, we had allocated $20 to buying drinks downtown which honestly seems kind of high now. I’m pretty sure I could get $1 well drinks anywhere on Sixth Street in 2001. Anyway, I can’t even tell you how many budgets I have made with J. Actually, we now call them “spending plans” in hopes that verbiage can affect my behavior. In any case, creating the budget wasn’t the problem. I had plenty of people helping me do that. The BEHAVIOR was the problem. It IS the problem.

This is probably the closest thing to addiction I can relate to. I KNOW I shouldn’t buy something, but it’s honestly like I can’t help myself. It’s almost like an out of body experience where I just see myself making the purchase and afterwards, I think… how did I let that happen? Then the guilt and shame come rolling in. The thing with shopping is, you have to do it at some point. I had to go buy H tennis shoes when his disappeared at Urban Air, which means I have to walk into DSW. If I was responsible, I wouldn’t even let my eyes float over to the women’s section. But, my wedges were coming apart so I strolled over and saw new wedges that would be perfect. Oh, and I had a gift card so… really, it wasn’t that bad. And it wasn’t. But that scenario times 20 is the problem. The other issue… I love clothes and putting together outfits. I think it’s so fun and it makes me happy! I really need to find a job making money doing this for other people instead of spending my own money to create a ton of outfits I have no place to wear ’cause let’s be real: these days I am pretty much going to HEB and swim practice in workout clothes.

So, how do I combat this huge character flaw of mine? Well, a couple of things. Being self-aware helps. I know what I can handle and I know what I can’t. Credit cards are my crack so I don’t carry them. I don’t open new ones even if they are going to give me a huge discount. Just say NO to the card! Also, I have my own spending account. A certain amount of money goes in to my account each month and that’s what I have to spend. When some people have found this out they are aghast that I have an “allowance” from my husband. I don’t see it this way. I see it as a way to protect my family from my spending habits. I can still spend, but when the money is gone, it’s gone. Also, sometimes I have to do a little reset. Lately, I’ve been a little “spendy” and I can tell it’s heading in the wrong direction. I made a commitment to myself that I’m not buying clothes for the months of May and June. I enlisted the help of my neighbor who is going to keep me accountable and, believe me, she won’t put up with any of my lame excuses. In fact, she’s already called me out in Instagram. I’m definitely not perfect when it comes to these tactics (except not carrying credit cards), but these are small ways in which I try to be responsible to manage my out of control spending.

We aren’t perfect people and we all have something with which we struggle. I used to think that being a “responsible adult” meant that I would get my act together with money and suddenly turn in to a super saver. Turns out, that’s not going to happen. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a responsible adult. Now I realize that being responsible means recognizing your issue and setting up guidelines for yourself to manage whatever your Achilles heel is. For me, it takes continuous reassessment and continuous adjustment of the spending boundaries I set up for myself hence, the no shopping for two months.

Is there anything you need to reassess and readjust in your life? Remember, progress over perfection.

Friday Finds!

It’s Friday… and I have some new finds for you! As a reminder most of these items can be found under the Shop My Looks tab to the right.

T-Shirt Dress
This is the most comfortable dress ever! I want to wear it everyday. Full disclosure: I had to pin the knot down just a little lower so it would be appropriate for my 38 year-old self.

An Adult Size Inflatable Pool!
It’s starting to get warmer which makes me think of the summer. Yes, we have a neighborhood pool that I plan to frequent, but this inflatable pool can hold up to three adults! I wonder if it’s against my HOA rules to plop this thing in my front yard starting in about May so I can watch my kids riding bikes or playing with chalk while staying cool.

Beautiful Things for Beautiful Causes
I recently found this ring online – I LOVE IT – but I loved it even more when I read how the web site, Olivela operates! For every item sold, 20% goes to a care partner which are CARE, Too Young to Wed, and the Malala Fund. I’m bookmarking this site for future gifts! Oh, and this ring is a pipe dream, but dreams are good, right?

Woven Bags
Woven purses are everywhere right now. I dig them, but they all sort of looked the same to me until I found this one on Amazon. It’s affordable and fun. I love the color in it. Fair warning – this doesn’t hold much. It can handle the essentials – phone, lipstick and credit card, but not much else.

Make-Up Towels!
I didn’t realize how much I needed dedicated makeup towels until I bought these at Fabulous You in Sugar Land. I have been using them ever since. I even bought a couple for my guest bathroom!

What are y’all up to this weekend? We have a date night tonight and I’m planning to eat my way through the UB Presev menu after a cocktail at Anvil. I can’t wait!

take care!

Saying “No” to make space for “Yes”

Saying “No” to make space for “Yes”

It’s hard to take a picture of yourself with a laptop. Do all blog posts need a photo? These are now the thins I’m wondering about. New blog post below.

I haven’t written a blog post since mid- January. That’s a little over two months since I’ve posted on this site and it feels a lot longer. Life, man. It gets busy and, for me, the things I want to do, like this blog, end up taking a back seat to all the things that “need” to be done.

Several years ago, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes. In summary, she argues you need to say “no” to some things so you can give your best yes when the opportunity presents itself. I read this book because, as someone who likes to please people, I felt it was important to learn how to say no. However, at the time I read it I was a stay at home mom of one and I was involved in one playgroup. That’s it: one kid, one play group. Now looking back, I wonder what exactly I was learning to say “no” to. Living in a new state with a toddler I was accepting any invitation thrown my way. Literally, I wasn’t turning anyone down. Now, I’m in a different stage of life: two kids at two different schools with extracurriculars, a part time job, a husband with a long commute and more responsibility at work, a blog, and oh yeah… I’m starting to take online classes (more on that in a later blog post). [Side note: I know we are all busy. Every one of us. I’m not trying to post my busyness as badge of honor, but I want to point out how different my life is now versus six years ago. In fact, I’m currently doing all I can to be LESS busy. Being busy does not give you value.]

In this phase of my life I’m beginning to actually understand my “best yes.” There are going to be events, obligations, positions, etc. that I WANT to say yes to, but need to say “no” so that I can leave margin for the opportunities I truly want to pursue. And to do pursue what I’m prioritizing I need to exercise discipline to not overextend myself. An overextended Sarah is not good for my family. I turn into a crazy person. A really tired, crazy person. Just ask my husband. He might be scared to confirm, but prod him and he will come clean.

It’s a hard realization for me that I can’t do everything I want all at the same time. I bet you’re thinking about that one person who seems to do it all. I am. Comparison is another trap that hinders me from saying no when I should. I look at other people and think “She has three kids, works full time, works out, volunteers at her kids’ school and is involved in three other organizations. Why can’t I be like her? I should try to do more.” But I’m not her. I’m me. I have certain limitations that maybe she doesn’t. And honestly, you never really know the private struggles someone is facing. I can do what I can with the talents I have and comparing myself to someone who is different than me is like comparing apples to oranges.

I want to pursue this blog, but to do that, I have to say no to other opportunities which is tough because telling people “no” may disappoint them. I don’t like disappointing people. Remember, I’m a people-pleaser. It is really hard for me to say no. Once I say no I also think about the situation for an inordinate amount of time. “Did I say it clearly so they understand why I’m saying no? Do they hate me? Maybe I should have just said yes.” I had to tell my part-time job I couldn’t work there anymore. That was tough. I want to work there, but I want to blog, take these online courses, and be a better “family manager” more. I want to have margin in my life so when opportunities regarding this blog pop up I can take them. I want to have margin in my life so that when we have an unexpected free afternoon the kids and I can stay outside and play until it’s dark. I want space to say yes to the things I determine are the best use of my talents and will serve others well.

All of this to say, State of Sarah is back to being a priority for me. My plan is to do a small redesign and then begin posting at least weekly, but hopefully more.

Is there anything you need to say no to today so you can say yes to something that really stirs you deep down? Something to think about!

take care!

Friday Finds… on a Sunday.

Friday Finds… on a Sunday.

So it’s Sunday and I’m posting Friday Finds. I get it… this is confusing. My internet was giving me fits on Friday morning. (Side note: Does anyone just stare at their husband when the internet is down like “fix this?” I mean, he does have a computer science degree! Surely, he can fix the internet right?! Not necessarily.) Anyway, once the internet was working and I got my “real” work stuff done the kids were up and I was making breakfast, saying “get your shoes on” fifteen times and all the other chaos that comes with getting kids out the door to school. Saturday was a busy day of pinewood derby, birthday parties and a Chevron party so here we are on Sunday and I’m finally posting Friday Finds. Remember, you can shop these finds straight from this little blog. Just click on the image – they are over there on the right side under Shop My Looks.

Madewell Leather Iphone Case / Card Holder
I really like this iPhone case/card holder. It looks more chic than the bulky card holders you stick on your phone and really, when I’m headed out for a dinner or event, I am only grabbing my phone and a few cards when I leave the house.

Heart Sweater
Valentine’s Day is around the corner and this cute heart sweater is perfect!

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum
I’m on a group text with about 10 ladies. The thread mainly consists of our fearless leader sending encouraging words throughout the week and hilarious memes. Earlier this week someone asked a skincare question. Lots of products were mentioned, but this Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum won high praise from several people so it caught my attention. It’s under $30 and highly rated on Amazon. I’m waiting on my bottle to get here. Can’t wait!

Perfect Long-Sleeved Tee – On sale!
These swing tops from Anthropologie are great. You can throw them on with jeans and some cute sneakers or slides. An easy “mom” outfit when all your workout leggings are dirty. Right now, these tops are on sale for 39.95, BUT right now you get an additional 40% off. I purchased the pink one. I’m ready for some bright colors!

OK, thanks guys for being so understanding about Friday Finds being published on a Sunday! Fingers crossed the internet works with me the rest of the week!

take care!

MLK Day and Your Kids: A Good Time to Start a Conversation

MLK Day and Your Kids: A Good Time to Start a Conversation

Note: I wrote this blog post a couple of days ago. I wish had more time for these posts, but I do what I can with the time I have. Last night while we were eating dinner, H mentioned he didn’t have school today. We said that was right and asked him if he knew why. I was AMAZED at what he knew about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his 6 year old way, he told us about segregation and how Dr. King fought against it. He told us he made a big speech and then stood up and bellowed “I have a dream!” He said “you know, he changed the world.” We continued talking and H said he wanted to see the “I have a dream” speech so we pulled it up on youtube after bath time. L was confused that the video was only in black and white and quickly lost interest and H kept asking when he was going to say “I have a dream!” I’m not sure how much they absorbed, but it made me happy they watched it. Plus, I got this really cute picture that makes me smile. Also, a thanks to Deitra Scott and Brandi Downey who read this before it was published! Ok, original blog post below.

I’m sure you know that today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Most kids don’t have school and the government is closed. (Oh wait, it has been for almost a month.) But did you know that MLK Day was established by Ronald Reagan in 1983 and that it was first observed in 1986? Stevie Wonder even wrote his Happy Birthday song and held a rally at the site of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, in support of the holiday’s legislation. I was shocked that this day wasn’t observed until the mid 80s! And did you know… ready for this… MLK Day wasn’t officially observed by all 50 states until 2000! 2000!!

In the past, I have treated MLK Day solely as a day off. I didn’t give much thought to WHY we celebrated MLK other than the little bit I knew from my history classes which was he lead the peaceful civil rights movement that included the Montgomery bus boycott and the March on Washington. The Civil rights movement was taught to me in school as something that was completed so now we celebrate that victory by getting a day off work and honoring a man who played a great part in that movement. As I get older and have children of my own, I realize that is not the case. Should we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr and all he accomplished? Absolutely. But to treat this day simply as a day of celebration for a movement that has achieved it’s end goal is wrong. We should honor MLK Day by doing the work of the civil rights movement – to actually make progress to complete the mission. I think that work looks different for each of us as we are all in different stages of life. For me, parenting is what I am most focused on so my hope is that I can use this day as another jumping off point to talk to my children about race.

Let me stop here. I am a white woman with white children. I was hesitant to write anything about MLK Day because of that fact. I recognize that I am coming from a place of privilege and, most likely, ignorance. I have not endured injustice simply because of the color of my skin. I am not forced to have conversations with my children about how there are people who will not like them because of how they look, and to find the balance between providing enough information to prepare them, but not enough to make them angry or too hurt. When H turns 16 and gets his drivers license I will watch him drive off without thinking twice what might happen if he is pulled over. It’s easy to gloss over these issues for me and my family, but it doesn’t mean we should. I am learning more and more about my own prejudices and am seeking out how to begin conversations with my children about race. MLK Day is a great day to have one of those conversations or to start them if you haven’t already.

Granted, H is almost 7 and L is 4, so I want these conversations to be age-appropriate. I’ve found books are great tools to introduce kids to big ideas or concepts. Lucy has a board book, The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Hudson has Dream March. We’ll read these books today and, if I know H, he will have questions that will lead the conversation. I might fumble through some of my answers and there will be times I will have to tell him “I don’t know, but I will find out.” I won’t get it perfect and sometimes we both might leave the conversation with more questions unanswered than answered, but none of this is an excuse not to talk to my children about race, discrimination and the part we play in that dynamic. Besides, if we both keep thinking about those unanswered questions, we may come up with solutions to some of them, and isn’t that a wonderful way to celebrate the work and life of Dr. King?

Having these conversations once a year is not nearly enough though. From what little I know, exposure to people who are different than you is key to combating prejudice. This is one reason I love Houston so much! We are the most diverse city in the country! What a wonderful opportunity for my kids to grow up with such diversity around them. They learn about various ethnicities and cultures through festivals, cuisine, museums, and performing arts if we just step out of our comfort zone and take them to experience these things! I hope they look back and understand what a gift it was to grow up in a multi-cultural city. If you are wanting to get out and about today, there are several MLK events around Houston. CultureMap has a good write-up of activities that are open to the public.

Do you talk to your children about race? How do you acknowledge MLK Day in your home?

take care!

Recipe Round UP

Recipe Round UP

This weekend was a little crazy. I was running around most of the day Friday and Saturday which means today I have a lot to do. Thankfully the kids aren’t headed to school tomorrow so I still have another day to get ready for the week. But this also means I’m late getting up my menu/recipes for the week!

On Thursday, I meant with Nicole of Chews Food Wisely to go over all my test results. I have an overgrowth of candida, a little imbalance of the bacteria in my gut and several foods to which I have an intolerance. Taking into account all of these things I now have a personalized protocol to follow for the next several months. The only catch – I can’t have alcohol for 4 weeks. I have a really fun girls weekend planned with Erica in Austin the first weekend of February so… I’ll start this protocol on February 4. Ha! That being said, this week I did try to look for recipes that I will be able to eat after February 4. Instead of thinking about all the things I can’t eat, I’m trying to be adventurous about what I can eat! Below is our menu for the week which includes some recipes from Nicole’s e-cookbook!

Sunday – Pork and Cabbage Soup
The Paleo Slow Cooker Cookbook (click the photo of the book to the right to purchase)
I’m not even going to pretend like my kids are going to eat this. I’ll probably make them their own meal, which I rarely do. I’m just not up for the fight over food tonight, but that means I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
3 strips bacon, diced
1 lb pork loin, cubed
1 tsbp ghee
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 medium head of cabbage, shredded
4 cups chicken broth
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp basil (I left this out.)
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper just before serving

1. Cook bacon in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until crispy, about 5 minutes, and reserve for garnish
2. Brown pork in the bacon grease in batches, about 5 minutes a batch, and transfer to the slow cooker
3. Melt the ghee and saute the onion and carrots for 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
4. Add the garlic, cook another 3 minutes and transfer the mixture to the slow cooker
5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours

Monday – Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
Skinnytaste One and Done (this recipe does not meet my new guidelines; Also, click the photo of the book to the right to purchase)

1 whole rotisserie chicken (I cooked my own in a slow cooker)
1 TB Olive Oil
1 medium onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 celery stalks
1 16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables
3 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 large egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 425
2. Remove the meat from the chicken and shred it with two forks (discard the skin and bones… or if you are like me use the bones to make your own chicken stock).
3. In a 10.5 inch ovenproof cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and parsley and cook, until the onion is softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, frozen mixed vegetables, 2 cups of the chicken broth, salt and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 3/4 cups chicken broth and the cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Stir into the chicken mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pie dough until it is about 12 inches in diameter. Place it over the chicken filling. Crimp the edges and, using a knife, make small slits in the top. Brush the top with the beaten egg.
6. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Cut into 8 wedges and serve.

Tuesday – Slow Cooker Carnitas with Sieta Tortillas and Cauliflower Rice and Black Beans
Chews Food Wisely (this link will take you to get Nicole’s e-cookbook!)

4-5 pound pork shoulder roast
1 cup chicken broth or broth of choice (bone broth works great here!)
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp chili powder 1tbsp salt (adjust to your flavor)
2 tsp pepper (adjust to your flavor)
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
½ jalapeno, sliced
½ cup hot sauce

1. Place all ingredients into crock pot and cook on low for 9-10 hours.
2. When finished cooking or at least an hour before finished, shred pork in crock pot with a fork.
3. Place onto baking sheet and into oven on “low broil” for approximately 5-7 minutes or until slightly crisped up on ends. Watch closely as ovens vary in temperature.
4. Serve in grain-free tortillas with jicama slaw, avocado, and hot sauce

Wednesday: Whole30 Chicken Primavera
The Whole30 Cookbook

2 TBSP cooking fat (I’ll probably use ghee)
1/2 cup diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
28 oz diced tomatoes
1 lb chicken thighs, diced (I’m using chicken breasts b/c that’s what I have)
2 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups diced zucchini
1 1/2 cups diced yellow squash
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 to 2 TBSP fresh basil (I’m leaving this out)

1. Heat the cooking fat in a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, oregano and thyme and cook until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, and chicken to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the green beans, zucchini and squash and cook, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, sprinkle on the basil, stir for 30 seconds to incorporate and serve immediately.

Thursday: Apple, Bacon, and Rosemary Stuffed Pork Burgers with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Chews Food Wisely

1 ½ lbs ground pork
6-8 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 apples, cored and diced
1-2 tbsp rosemary (depending how much you like rosemary)
1-2 tbsp sage (depending on how much you like sage)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat up a medium sized skillet over medium heat.
2. Chop up your bacon and add it to the pan.
3. Let bacon cook for a bit until you’re able to render a little fat. 4. When a little fat has been rendered, add in apples and begin to cook.
5. While the bacon and apple are cooking for the next 5-7 minutes, place your ground pork in a bowl, add your rosemary and salt and pepper and use your hands to combine everything.
6. Once your bacon and apples are done cooking, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan and place them on a paper towel on top of a plate to cool.
7. Now time to make your patties. Take a small handful of ground pork. Ball it up and shape it into a patty. You want this a bit thinner than a normal burger.
8. Now place a spoonful of your bacon and apple mixture on top of one of your patties, then place another patty on top, using your fingers to seal up the sides like an envelope.
9. Repeat until all of your ground pork is gone.
10. Now reheat your skillet with the leftover bacon fat still in it.
11. Add your stuffed burgers to the pan. Cook for about 5-8 minutes per side (depending on the thickness) until cooked thoroughly

Friday: OUT for a Chevron Party at the Armadillo Palace!

Our Easy/Healthy Weeknight Menu

Our Easy/Healthy Weeknight Menu

How is your menu planning coming along? Last week I didn’t really menu plan. I bought a bunch of vegetables, some quality chicken and salmon, and we grilled or baked the meat and roasted vegetables each night. It was nice, until about Wednesday when I wanted something else. Thursday, I sat down and wrote out a menu. Yesterday, after my workout, I’m headed to the grocery store. I’ll be completely honest that this menu is not exactly what I want it to be. There are some items, I’m trying to get away from (processed meat), that are included here. On nights when you are busy (Mondays for us), ground meat is the easiest and quickest way to make food. The answer to this problem is better meal prepping on my part. We will keep making progress towards eating healthier. I will say that I found a brand of ground turkey that I like better than the rest. It’s Diestl. I buy it at Whole Foods. They also have a really great turkey chorizo I sometimes use in breakfast casseroles. Keep following along with our menus and let me know if you see a change!

Thai Chicken Soup – This recipe is from my new cookbook “The Paleo Slowcooker.” It’s a little chilly here today so Thai soup is going to be good at dinnertime. And especially because it will already be done when it’s time to eat so no major prep on my end which is good because I’m planning on watching the Saints game! The recipe is below. You could also throw shrimp in the crock pot for the last 20/30 minutes if you want shrimp instead of chicken. Be sure the check out the cookbook on the right if you are interested in buying it.

3 skinless chicken breasts cubed
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can full fat coconut milk
5 cups chicken broth
1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I’m leaving these out)
1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
2 Thai peppers, chopped (I’m only using 1/2 of a pepper)
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
2 TBSP fish sauce
Salt and Pepper just before serving
Cilantro (chopped)
Carrots (I’m adding these)
Frozen Peas (I’m adding these)

1. Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker
2. Cook on low 5-6 hours
3. Salt and pepper to taste, garnish with cilantro, then serve
Servings: 6

Tex-Mex Turkey Tacos – Mondays are our crazy evening so I’m using my trusty crock pot again. Also, if I’m honest, we are so rushed on Mondays that I hate fighting with the kids over what they are eating so I usually make something that I know they will like. This recipe comes from the newest SkinnyTaste cookbook “One and Done.” All the recipes require one pot.

Taco Filling
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 can black beans
1.5 cups chunky salsa

Guacamole: (or buy your own guacamole)
6 ounces avocado
1/3 cup finely chopped tomato (eh, up to you if you put tomato in your guacamole)
2 TB red onion
1 TB fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I’m going to say you are going to need more salt)

16 6 inch corn tortillas (I’m getting flour because… kids).
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour Cream

1. Combine all spices
2. Place the ground turkey in the slow cooker, breaking it up loosely with your hands. Add the beans, top with spice mixture, and pour the salsa over everything
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until the meat is tender. Break up the meat and stir everything until well combined
4. For guacamole, combine all ingredients. Or open your store bought guacamole
5. Assemble your tacos, tell everyone to eat faster, clean the plates off the table and run off to your next activity. Ok, that may just be us.

Honey Mustard Chicken Bake – This is also from the Skinnytaste One and Done Book. If you can’t tell, I’m a fan.

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb aspargus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1.5 cups cauliflower florets
1 medium red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 TB olive oil

1. Adjust an oven rack in the center and another 6 inches from the boiler and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Season both sides of the chicken with salt. Transfer to a plate
3. In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard and 1 tsp of the thyme
4. In a 9×13 baking dish, toss together the vegetables, olive oi, remaining 1/2 salt and remaining 2 tsp thyme.
5. Roast on the center rack for 10 minutes, then remove the dish from the oven. Toss the vegetables and place the chicken over the vegetables. Spoon or brush half of the honey-mustard sauce over the chicken. Return to center rack and roast for about another 30 minutes
6. Spoon the remaining honey-mustard sauce over the chicken. Switch the oven to broil, move dish to upper rack and broil until chicken begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Pesce Primavera – My kids love fish. They don’t love vegetables, but I will still keep trying. Actually, they each have a few vegetables they eat without complaint so I try to incorporate those when I can. Carrots and sweet potatoes for H and cucumber and broccoli for L. Bet you can guess where this recipe is from! Yes, the SkinnyTaste One and Done cookbook. It might be my favorite of hers so far for quick and healthy weeknight meals.

Olive Oil Spray
2 cups bite sized broccoli florets
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup shredded carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 TB olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless fish fillets (I bought cod)
2 TB fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
2 TB chopped fresh basil (I’m leaving this off)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with oil
2. In a large bowl, combine the brocooli, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots and garlic, 1 TB of the olive oil, 1/2 tsp of the salt, and pepper to taste. Transfer the vegetables to the prepared baking dish and roast for about 10 minutes.
3.Meanwhile, season one side of the fish with salt and pepper. Roll up the fillets and place them seam down on a plate. Season the tops with remaining salt and pepper to taste.
4. Toss the vegetables, then place the fish seam side down on top. Drizzle the fish with the remaining 1/2 TB olive oil and lemon juice.
5. Roast until the fish is cooked through in the center and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
6. Top everything with pecorino and fresh basil and serve immediately.

Turkey Cheeseburger Soup – Next week I’m making sure I use recipes that have online links! This again, comes from the One and Done Cookbook. I can’t recommend it enough if your weeknights are busy. And I’m sure they are because most people are dashing around during the week. I like this recipe because you add cauliflower to make it creamy and my kids won’t know! This recipe is also made in an instant pot. Do you have one? I love mine! If you don’t have an instant pot, let me know and I can send you this recipe for a dutch oven.

1/2 lb lean ground turkey
1 TB unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB all purpose flour, wheat or gluten-free
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3.5 cups chicken broth
10 ounces yukon gold potatoes, peeled and finely diced
1 wedge cauliflower (about 1/4 of a large head), steam attached
1 3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 TB chopped scallions

1. Press the saute button on an electric pressure cooker. Add the turkey and brown the meat, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces as it cooks, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the meat and transfer it to a small bowl
2. In the pressure cooker (still on saute), melt the butter. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the four, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to cook the flour. Return the turkey to the pressure cooker and add the chicken broth, potatoes, and cauliflower and stir.
3. Seal and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Quick release, then open when the pressure subsides.
4. Transfer the cauliflower and 1 cup of liquid to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the puree into the soup and stir well. Add the cheddar and stir until melted. Serve topped with scallions.

Lavash Bread Pizzas – It’s Friday which means… pizza! And probably movie night. I buy Lavash bread from Whole Foods, jarred pizza sauce, mozzarella, and whatever veggies sound good. The kids usually just make a cheese pizza. J and I load ours up with veggies. These are so easy, just be careful to not put on too much sauce because the bread is thin. These “pizzas” only need to be in the oven at about 350, for 10 minutes. The perfect at home “pizza” for a lazy Friday night.