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.

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!

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!

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.

Friday Finds

Friday Finds

Hey, it’s the first Friday I’m blogging in the new year and so I decided to bring back Friday Finds!

Slow Burn Podcast
I am late to the game on podcasts. I hear people talk about podcasts, but I never looked into them. It seemed like something the “young kids” do these days. Then I came across an article that listed the best podcasts of 2018 and my interest was piqued. On our way to Louisiana for the Sugar Bowl (hook ’em!) J and I put on the first season on Slow Burn which chronicles the Watergate scandal. Not having lived during that time period we were blown away by the details. It was CRAZY! We realized the two paragraphs in our high school history books really watered down (pun intended) the scandal. On our way home, we listened to season 2 which covers the Clinton Impeachment. We enjoyed this season, but in a different way. We lived through the impeachment and it was interesting to discuss what we remember about that time. If you are at compelled by history or politics I highly recommend Slow Burn.

The Paleo Slow Cooker Cookbook

I’m not necessarily a huge proponent of paleo, but paleo recipes omit ingredients I tend to eat in small amounts… mainly dairy and grains. An easy slow cooker recipe is always my go-to on busy school nights. Tomorrow, you’ll see one of the recipes I pulled from this book in my menu planning post. Click on the picture to the right if you want to shop this cookbook.

The Boardroom
Ok, so I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard several men mention they really enjoy this place. There is one in Sugar Land in Town Square and I’m hoping Jordan tries it out soon! If not, I may get him a gift card for Valentine’s Day! J, act surprised!

Ekhouaer Pajamas
Every time I search for “nice” pajamas a $200 sets pop up. That’s a non-starter. But then I found these pajamas on Amazon with a really great rating! These are the softest, most comfortable pajamas under $50! They come in so many colors and patterns. I think they make a great gift (Valentine’s Day is coming up!) which is why they went on my Christmas gift list. So excited I got them! Check out my feed to the right and click on the picture to shop them.

Do you have fun plans this Friday? We are going out to dinner as a family. I think we will hit up some place close to Town Square so the kids can run around after dinner. That should make them tired and easy to put to bed, right? Fingers crossed!

Enjoy your Friday!

Progress, not Perfection: First Quarter Goals

I mentioned in my last post that I’m making quarterly goals/resolutions this year. A full year’s resolution hasn’t worked for me in the past, and if something isn’t working you should try something new. Below is a little about each of my goals and how it will affect State of Sarah.

J and I have some big financial goals we are aiming for this year. We have broken them down into quarterly goals and it feels so much more attainable. Because of my family’s financial goals, I am going to have to be more thoughtful about the purchases I make – especially clothing purchases. If you’ve followed me for a while you know I really love clothes. And I really love nice clothes. But I am a mom who works part-time and to pretend I’m not a budget would be disingenuous. I can’t have it all and I need to make choices. With that in mind, I won’t be buying a lot of clothes the month of January, with the exception of using my Athleta gift card! I have plenty of new stuff from Christmas and my birthday that can tide me over. What does this mean for State of Sarah? How am I going to show you all the fun stuff in stores? I’m starting a series called Dressing Room Diaries. I’ll pick a store, go try stuff on, take photos in the terrible lighting, and then let you know what I eventually decided to buy, if anything. Dressing Room Diaries will be a heading soon on the blog. Stay tuned!

Isn’t this where most of us land when making resolutions? I know I do! Have they worked in the past? Sometimes, but those resolutions have also not worked enough that I’m trying something different. I am attempting to feel good from the inside out. This fall I met with a GI doctor because for years, YEARS, I have had stomach discomfort and pain. I had a CT Scan which led to a colonoscopy. They couldn’t determine what was causing my pain, but I’m so thankful for that procedure because they found poylps! In case you were wondering the risk factors for having polyps are: 50 years or older; Overweight; have Type 2 Diabetes or are a smoker. I don’t fit any of these demographics. I will now have a colonoscopy every five years and my children will need to start getting them at age 40 instead of 50. All of this to say, if something is bothering you, go get it checked out. While it’s true the GI Doctor didn’t find the cause of my discomfort, I’m thankful I started looking in to why I wasn’t feeling great that led to the discovery of these polyps. Can you imagine if I had waited 12 years to get my first colonoscopy?

Wow. I got sidetracked. So, since the GI doctor couldn’t figure out why I was having tummy troubles someone suggested I look for nutrition advice. I found Nicole, with Chews Food Wisely. She’s a functional dietitian. I’ve met with her once and will continue to meet with her. We are testing for food intolerances and also checking the bacteria levels in my gut. From there Nicole will work with me on how to eat properly for my body. I am so anxious to start feeling better from the inside out! What does this mean for State of Sarah? I am updating my headings to include a Nutrition/Food tab. All my posts that pertain to my journey with Nicole, recipes I find along the way, and tips I learn or find about how to eat better will live there.

And of course, I am taking up a physical challenge. In November, I joined Orange Theory Sugar Land. I’m obsessed. I walk in; don’t have to think about what I’m doing that day, have a killer workout, and an hour later I’m out the door and on with my day. They are doing a Transformation Challenge and I just signed up. It’s from January – March which is perfect for my quarterly mindset this year. I’d love to win the cash prize (hello, spring clothes), but I’m really doing it for the accountability.

When I was in elementary school I distinctly remember once report card coming home. On the back, where the teacher writes comments, she said that I was a great student, had wonderful behavior, but that I had no organizational skills. It’s true. I could easily be one of the most disorganized people you know. I have to work hard (really really hard!) to have any semblance of organization. I sometimes think that I use what little organizational skills I have to keep “the trains running” in my family and let’s be real, those trains aren’t always on time. I use all that energy and when it comes to my professional life – my part-time job and my blog – everything is reactionary. And, if I’m honest, this little blog falls down the list of priorities pretty quickly when the “to-do” list gets long. I don’t like that so I’m making small changes. What does this mean for State of Sarah? I will pre-plan more of my blog and my work schedule so that I’m more consistent with both. I also have some specific layout and design changes to State of Sarah that will happen before the end of March.

I’m going to revisit these resolutions in March and give an honest assessment of how I’m doing. Will I be perfect? No way! But the goal is progress, not perfection!

What are you making progress towards the first few months of 2019?

take care of yourself and each other!

Winter Break and Bored Kids… not this year!

Winter Break and Bored Kids… not this year!

Isn’t it funny how you can hear a song many times, but never really pay attention to some of the words? That happened to me the other day. We were in the car listening to Christmas music when “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” came on. Perry Como sang “… and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.” I died laughing. So, it turns out winter break has been an issue for parents for quite some time. H & L had no idea what I thought was so funny.

I am looking forward to my kids’ school breaks. We can get up and be a little lazy. No fights over brushing L’s hair, not saying”put your shoes on!” 15 y, no making school lunches or trying to remember all the forms/donations I’m supposed to send in. I can’t wait. The flip side… constant sibling squabbles, a really messy house, and bored kids who ask for a snack every 10 minutes. I don’t want to plan every minute of our Christmas break, but I know we are going to need some activities to look forward to and stave away the cabin fever. Below are some ideas I have for my own family.

George Ranch Historical Park
This 20,000 acre working ranch isn’t far from us, and there are four separate home sites you can tour. You can also see a blacksmith working, cowboys roping and sorting cattle, hands-on activities and costumed staff!

Discovery Green Ice Skating Rink
I love Discovery Green. I think Houston did such a great job with this park and really all the parks around the city. We have never taken advantage of the ice skating rink, but recently the kids have been asking about ice skating so I think this is the year we are going to try it out.

While we are downtown, we also plan to check out Loop, a new art installation, near the George R Brown Convention center. I don’t think I can accurately describe this, so just check out the link and plan to check it out for yourself!

Sugar Land Holiday Lights
There is something magical about Christmas Lights and in Sugar Land they have over 2.5 million lights set up at Constellation Field. This is definitely on our list to check out this year.

Kemah Boardwalk
While this may not be my most favorite item on the list, I know my kids would love the rides and being by the ocean. The Boardwalk has TONS of things to do in December (check out their events page), but we might go check it out after the first of the year.

Christmas Village at Buffalo Bayou

This looks amazing! My mom sent this information to me and I’m hoping we can find a night to take the kids!

Do you have any plans for Winter Break? I am excited that we are not traveling this year and can take advantage of the fun, exciting things to do around our city! I love Houston!

xoxo –

My Favorite Things

French fries with champagne and football on TV
Dark Chocolate almonds and freshly brewed coffee
Athleta leggings and dresses in spring
These are a few of my favorite things…

So, I’m relatively new to this blogging thing and now that it is December 1 I realize I should have started curating a gift guide in September! Yikes… I didn’t do that. Next year I’ll aim to have one of those bright shiny gift guides other bloggers provide you. This year though… you’re going to get a list of my favorite things. Maybe this will help you buy gifts for others or maybe you’ll find a few things on here to add to your own list.


The O Key Ring
I love this key ring so much more than I thought I was going to! I am usually carrying at least two bags and two water bottles out the door (not to mention my coffee!)  every morning and this key ring allows my hands to be free to carry all that stuff!

Apple Watch
I don’t know what I did without my apple watch and heaven forbid anything happen to it!

Yeti Rambler
As moms it can take us three hours to drink our cup of coffee, but my Yeti helps keeps it warm whenever I can get around to drinking it! And I have one that is personalized!

Bare Minerals Mascara
My friend, Erica, and I are always on the lookout for the best mascara. My go to used to be Lash Paradise by L’Oreal, but now I’m loving Lashtopia by BareMinerals. Another good stocking stuffer!


Athleta Leggings
I had such a mish mash of work out clothes that I decided I really wanted to find a pair of pants that felt good and held up well. I tried several, but ultimately Athleta Run Free and Contender leggings did it for me! They are pricey so I’m slowly adding to my collection. Hoping a pair or two show up under the tree this year.


White T Shirt
I think I have made my love for white t shirts abundantly clear on this blog. These are a few of my favorites! Yes, you’re asking yourself – am I really spending $39 on a white tee? It’s held up well for me so far, but I’ll be honest that I waited for a sale to come along before I purchased. I’ll keep you posted on any deals that pop up with this one. Or, you could just get the $8 Target t shirt!


Goodr Sunglasses
I have a pair of “nice” sunglasses, but sometimes there are occasions where you need functional, but not expensive sunglasses. These are them! They are $25. Polarized. And come in so many fun colors! I don’t mind wearing these to the pool with the kids, on the lake or to the beach!


Emily Ley Planner
In elementary school, my report card would come home and while my teachers would praise my academics, they would always comment on my lack of organizational skills. Being naturally unorganized is a tough thing when you are a mom of 2. In a perfect world, I would always have it together. I don’t, but I am much more prepared when I use my Emily Ley Planner. I get one every year and I love that it becomes a little diary of our family.


Bubbly Splits
I would say that champagne is my favorite adult beverage. Sure, I go on a craft beer kick or decide to make moscow mules at home, but I always come back to the bubbly. The thing is… I can’t drink a whole bottle in a sitting. I guess I could, but I’d be pretty worthless the next day. So, I opt for these splits! I’m hoping to get a set of “less fancy” flutes to use for everyday.


Instant Pot
Do you have one yet? If not, put it on your list! This week alone I used it to make spaghetti, General Tso’s Chicken and Honey Mustard Chicken. All were a hit with my family.


Virtue Jewelry
I know I say I wear Virtue Jewelry everyday and it’s true!

Things that I *think* could be my favorites and are on my wish list!


Skinnytaste Cookbook
I have the other 2 skinnytaste cookbooks, and I am hoping to get her new one as well. One pot meals are my favorite to make… less dishes to clean up!


Espwa 4 Things Tote
These “4 Things” tote are fun because while they are personalized, it’s not with a monogram – it’s your four favorite things! You have to move fast though to get these before Christmas and put a “rush order” on it. Otherwise, keep it in mind for a fun birthday gift! I would put “Coffee, Champagne, French Fries, Football” on mine! What would you put on yours?


Mark & Graham Convertible Crossbody Bag
Crossbody bags are my favorite because my hands are free, but I feel like I’m always on the hunt for a good clutch. Well, here you go – the Mark & Graham convertible clutch! So many colors to choose from (I’d probably pick black or camel. Or red.) and the monogram is understated which I like.


Recipe Tea Towel
Aren’t these recipe towels are so sweet? They would make great gifts! I have a couple of recipes I’d love to get made.

Remember that you can shop most of my favorites on the sidebar AND… follow me on the app! Download it and follow me! It would mean the world to me!

Have a fun, festive weekend!