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?

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!

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!

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.

A Different Kind of Resolution

January 1. Everyone is making resolutions for the year. People are picking words to define their 2019 and setting grandiose goals. I love it! I love the optimism, the passion, the drive. But we all know that stats, right? 80% of resolutions “fail” by February.

At church the other day, we were talking about how making big statements – I am going to be morally good forever – always end in disappointment and defeat. The answer really is taking your faith and your relationship with God day by day. Asking God for help and provision for the moment you are presently in. I think the same can be applied to New Year’s Resolutions. When I set a big new year’s resolution and fail… ugh, the word itself makes me want to crawl into a hole… I feel shameful, defeated, unworthy. Oftentimes my resolutions in the past, like most people, involve my body – losing weight, gaining muscle, leaning out – and when those resolutions fail I dislike my own body a little more. It’s a nasty cycle. And I have a precious four year-old girl who is looking at me to show her how to have a healthy relationship with her own body. No pressure, right?

Goals and resolutions are important, but my resolutions are going to be a little different this year. I’m setting quarterly resolutions. From now until March 31 I have specific financial, personal, and professional goals. Towards the end of March, I’ll reevaluate and amend those goals for the second quarter. For me, this feels more doable. More attainable. Less defeat.

I’ll be posting more about these goals over the next week. I’m excited to share them and have some accountability!

Do you think quarterly goals are something you would do? How do you handle New Year’s resolutions?

Happy New Year! Start 2019 off right by having a great day!

Hostess Gift Guide

Do you like to throw parties? I do! There’s something about my home being filled with people, having a good time, making new friends, enjoying food and drink that just makes me happy! However, throwing parties can be a lot of work, even if it is enjoyable work which is why often people bring a gift to the host or hostess.

Sidenote: I went down a rabbit hole of trying to understand where the tradition of hostess gifts originated from. Admittedly, I didn’t spend all that much time on google, but I did find these interesting articles on hostess gifts. If you are a little nerdy like me, you should read them! 

Emily Post – Should I Bring a Hostess Gift?
The 7 Most Elegant Hostesses in Literature

Ok, here are my top picks for a hostess gift! Some of these are on the pricey side, but you can use them as examples and find similar items at HomeGoods.

monogram cheese board.jpg
Anthropologie has the cutest home stuff! And I love a good monogram!

A fun, whimsical holiday dish towel could be something different to give!

Candles are a popular hostess gift, but instead of giving one, why not give a set of three? Then your hostess can make multiple rooms in her home smell great!

Aren’t these soaps adorable? Perfect for a fun, holiday hostess gift!

This adorable honey jar set also helps funds classroom observation hives in 1,000 schools across the nation to support education and generate awareness about vulnerable honeybee populations.

Three ingredients? I think I can even handle that! The perfect at-home cocktail guide!

This is one of my favorites! Linen cocktail napkins on a roll that can be torn off and used as needed!? Cool! And you can wash them up to 6 times. Or just toss them when you are done! Perfect for parties!


The most ubiquitous hostess gift is wine – and that’s great! But why not change things up a bit and bring some champagne with a stopper that can keep champagne fresh?

Happy hostessing and party-going, friends!