Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! How was your Thanksgiving? I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend!

Even with the holidays, regular life goes on, and so do the things that make that life run a little more smoothly. In my case, that is meal prep! This week’s meal prep is a little different. Excluding our regular favorites, all of the recipes cooked this week were from one blog. A little over a week ago, Brey over at Ordinary Adventures posted this article introducing me to Chungah and her lovely site Damn Delicious! I may have gotten lost wandering through her site for a while….okay, a bit more than a while. Two hours 😛 This site is amazing and I found so many recipes that I just can’t wait to try! So this week, I tried out a few of them!

And with that, I hope you enjoy this week’s meal prep!

To start off, our regular favorites: Mason Jar Salads and our array of sweets and treats!

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And now on the the main dishes! Along with the new recipes, this week included some venturing into new areas! To be specific, new foods and new cooking techniques!

I’m going to admit something that makes me feel a little silly…I’ve never used my broiler. It intimidates me. I’ve seen so many recipes that I have been all ready to make until I saw the word “broil”…and then that recipe was out! This week I finally decided to get past this silly fear and make something using my broiler! And what do you know, it turned out wonderful! It still makes me a little nervous, but I can’t wait to see what else I can make with it.

I also am still trying out different cuts of chicken, branching out from our regular boneless skinless chicken breasts. This week was thighs and drumsticks!

I will say this, if you are learning a new cut of meat or are unsure what would be best for a particular recipe/method, check out the meat counter at your local grocery store. There are usually one or two chains that are well known in a region for their meat counter…here it’s Fareway! I had some questions answered and even had the leg trimmed into thighs and drumsticks. They were super helpful and helped me feel a little more confident about what I was doing 🙂

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In this picture, our four new recipes:

  • One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta I used spaghetti instead of fettuccine, as it was what we had on hand. This was delicious, and I will admit we ate most of it before this photo was taken 😛
  • One Pan Roasted Chicken with Fall Vegetables  Along with this recipe being the first time using the broiler, this was also the first time I had cooked chicken with skin on and the first time cooking with butternut squash! I will admit, I have no idea how she fit all of the ingredients listed on one pan. I used 4 thighs, 4 drumsticks and I estimated for the fall veggies and it was definitely more than one layer on the pan. That’s ok though… I just increased the cooking time a bit and this turned out delicious! I need to cut the potatoes a little smaller next time and maybe do two pans instead of one, but this is definitely a make-again dish!
  • Buffalo Chicken Cups This was a great find for me! This year for Christmas, we are doing more of a snacky-food type gathering instead of a full meal and I have been searching for the right recipe to bring. I think this one is a winner! So this week was me testing it out beforehand. I used mozzarella cheese instead of blue and they turned out great! I also made half using the buffalo chicken she has in the recipe and half using the buffalo chicken I make for our salads. Both turned out great, but I think the one she has turned out a bit better!
  • Slow Cooker Sausage, Spinach and White Bean Soup I am in love with this recipe! While all of the recipes this week were super tasty, this one really hit the spot with this cold weather we’ve been having! And even better, it was cooking while I did all my other meal prep stuff. It was really quick to throw into the slow cooker and turned out so tasty! One tip for all you distracted people like me: Make sure you take out the bay leaves before you put the spinach in! 🙂 You can find them afterwards, but it takes a lot more time!

That’s all for this week! I hope you enjoyed this week’s meal prep and I encourage you to check out the awesome blogs linked above!

What are you cooking this week? Do you ever find a new site or cookbook and just want to cook everything out of it?! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

The holiday season seemed to sneak up on me this year and before I realized, Thanksgiving was here!

I have so much to be thankful for…Renewing relationships with some of my extended family, making some very positive changes to myself and my life, my loving parents and boyfriend, my home, and this blog and all the people it has brought into my life!

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday, full of family, friends, some delicious food and lots of laughs!

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving? What are some things you are thankful for this year?

Sara (1)

Sunday Meal Prep

Welcome to this week’s meal prep!

This week is all about veggies and comfort foods, featuring Pot Roast and Sausage and Veggie Bake. I gotta say though, the Pot Roast definitely was the star this week!

But more on that in a bit. First we start off with our treats and sweets for the week! Along with a call for ideas: As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we have our favorites that we make every week. I would really love some new ideas if you have some great treat and snack recipes! I’ve been wanting to switch things up recently, but am stuck on ideas. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

And our salads! As you can see, I had some extra greens this time, so I ended up making some sides salads to go with my dinners. I think they turned out great!

Out of all of the wonderful things that are related to meal prep, these salads are pretty much my favorite! I love having a tasty salad every day for lunch and it is healthier too 🙂

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On to the main dishes!

I love love love how this pot roast turned out! With the weather getting more winter-like, all I crave lately is stews and roasts, and this hit the spot…Vegetable-laden and filling, with the meat just falling apart!

The other main dish is much lighter, but no less filling. I used turkey polish sausage this time around and I love how it turned out!

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That’s it for this week! What are you cooking this week? Does the change in seasons influence your meals at all? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Fitness Update: One Month of Kayla Itsines’ BBG Complete!

I am super excited to tell you all that I have completed one month of Kayla Itsines’ BBG! Those of you that have been with me for a while may remember that I have been trying to use this program for a few months, but multiple injuries caused some setbacks. I actually did have a small setback during week 4…my lower back started acting up and I ended up taking the rest of the week off from my workouts to heal up. I did repeat week 4 the following week!

But no more! I am all healed up and have FINALLY made it through the first of three months! So here is the breakdown of how my weeks went:

Kayla Itsines Week 1 BBG summary

Kayla Itsines' Week 2 BBG summary

Kayla Itsines' BBG Week 3 summary

Kayla Itsines' BBG week 4 summary

I missed this last Monday because I was still a little worried about my back acting up. That was the only workout I missed though!

Kayla Itsines' BBG post workout selfies
The many faces of Death By Kayla! I think the main thing present in all of them is the semi-euphoric state after my workout! Love that post-workout feeling!

As an extra motivator to keep on my workouts and healthy eating, I also participated in the ZP Challenge through my work! Each cycle of the challenge is one month long and I am really happy with how my first month went! (I finished my first month at the end of Week 3 of BBG) Workouts – DONE: 6 days a week! Healthy eating – DONE: 6 days a week, with one treat meal per week…I love pizza! I will be keeping up with this challenge on a monthly cycle. It’s been a great motivator, even more so than I thought that it would be!

Ok, now for the part I’ve been dreading…progress pictures. First off, I have realized two things: 1) I suck at taking progress pictures and my starting pictures are terrible 2) I really need some better clothes for progress pics. These exercise pants are not at all good for this.

Disclaimer: As hard as I tried not to, I’m pretty sure that I am sucking in a bit in the start pictures. It’s more a habit that I don’t even think about, and I think I was doing it in that picture. Along with that, the pants in the first picture are set higher than in the second, holding more of my stomach in.

In a happier part of the disclaimer, your eyes are not playing tricks on you! That is the same wall, but with paint on it now. Pretty light purple paint, painted for the first time while I’ve lived in this house! More will be coming on this bedroom transformation in a couple months or so, while I finish up the details 🙂

BBG Week 4 progress picture front view

Kayla Itsines' BBG Week 4 progress picture back view

Overall…I’m not thrilled with these. And while I don’t think they are perfectly representative, due to my lack-of-good-pictures issue, I don’t think I made much visible progress in this first month. And I’m having a hard time not getting down or discouraged by this.

I just need to focus on the fact that I know I have made strength progress! When I started BBG, I couldn’t do more than a couple push-ups before I had to go to knees. Now I can do 10! That’s just one example of many that show that I have made some progress. I just need to keep at it and the visible progress will follow!

That’s it for this month! Hopefully next month I will be able to give you a much more positive (overall) update, with no injuries/setbacks!

P.S. I have a confession to make. I finished this post up a couple days ago and have been having a hard time actually publishing this. While I know that I have been making progress and I am thrilled to finish 1 month, I was really disappointed to see these progress photos. So much so that my motivation to work out took a bit of a nosedive. I took an early rest day to this week (Week 5) to try to get my head back on straight, and am now hopefully back on track. While blogs are not ever 100% reality, I don’t want to cover up difficulties like the one I have been dealing with. With all that being said, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post!

How have your workouts been going? For those of you doing BBG or another workout program, did you see much progress in the first month?

 

Sunday Meal Prep

Do you like to make your meal prep quick? Well then this week is definitely for you! This was one of my fastest weeks in the kitchen at around 2.5 hrs. And that time was even split up, since the chicken for the salads and one main dish were cooked in the slow cookers and the rice for that same main dish was cooked in the rice cooker!

On to this week’s meal prep!

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As always, I will start us off with our regular weekly snacks! Not only are these delicious alternatives to junk food and other snacky-type things, but I have found that they keep me from craving those other foods as often too. And with the holiday season coming up, that seems more important than ever right now. So these are definite must-haves!
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Shredded Buffalo Chicken Salads!
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One of the many things I love about Mason Jar Salads combined with meal prep is I am able to cut down on the produce waste in our kitchen. For example, this week one of the main dishes left me with some extra bell pepper. No problem! I just chopped the extras up and put them in with the rest of the veggies in my salads!
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Extra veggies for steaming, leftover Shredded Buffalo Chicken for the freezer, some hardboiled eggs, Slow Simmered Curried Chicken (from this cookbook) and Sausage, Cannellini and Tomato Ragout. You may notice that we have a little less for main dishes than usual. Well, after going through our freezer recently, I realized we have a few meals that need to be used soon, so for this week (and probably the next few weeks) I will be cooking two main dishes and then, if needed, pulling out meals from the freezer. This week the freezer meal is Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese!

I think I am forming a curry addiction. I love how this chicken curry turned out!! The ragout was delicious as well, though I will say I might double the recipe next time.

P.s. If you like Asian foods, you should definitely look at getting the cookbook linked above! A friend gave it to me a couple years ago and I have finally gotten around to cooking out of it. I love it and can’t wait to try more recipes! This is not a paid or sponsored post, nor is the link an affiliate link. I just really like the cookbook.

That’s it for this week! What are you cooking at your house? Do you have an food types you are loving right now, like I am with curry? I would love to hear them!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Sunday Meal Prep

Do you like to make your meal prep quick? Well then this week is definitely for you! This was one of my fastest weeks in the kitchen at around 2.5 hrs. And that time was even split up, since the chicken for the salads and one main dish were cooked in the slow cookers and the rice for that same main dish was cooked in the rice cooker!

On to this week’s meal prep!

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As always, I will start us off with our regular weekly snacks! Not only are these delicious alternatives to junk food and other snacky-type things, but I have found that they keep me from craving those other foods as often too. And with the holiday season coming up, that seems more important than ever right now. So these are definite must-haves!
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Shredded Buffalo Chicken Salads!
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One of the many things I love about Mason Jar Salads combined with meal prep is I am able to cut down on the produce waste in our kitchen. For example, this week one of the main dishes left me with some extra bell pepper. No problem! I just chopped the extras up and put them in with the rest of the veggies in my salads!
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Extra veggies for steaming, leftover Shredded Buffalo Chicken for the freezer, some hardboiled eggs, Slow Simmered Curried Chicken (from this cookbook) and Sausage, Cannellini and Tomato Ragout. You may notice that we have a little less for main dishes than usual. Well, after going through our freezer recently, I realized we have a few meals that need to be used soon, so for this week (and probably the next few weeks) I will be cooking two main dishes and then, if needed, pulling out meals from the freezer. This week the freezer meal is Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese!

I think I am forming a curry addiction. I love how this chicken curry turned out!! The ragout was delicious as well, though I will say I might double the recipe next time.

P.s. If you like Asian foods, you should definitely look at getting the cookbook linked above! A friend gave it to me a couple years ago and I have finally gotten around to cooking out of it. I love it and can’t wait to try more recipes! This is not a paid or sponsored post, nor is the link an affiliate link. I just really like the cookbook.

That’s it for this week! What are you cooking at your house? Do you have an food types you are loving right now, like I am with curry? I would love to hear them!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

My Journey to Happiness and What I’ve Learned Along the Way (Plus 50 Things that Make me Happy!)

Happiness. That elusive feeling that we search for, strive for, wait for. According to the Merriam-Webster, happiness is defined as

: the state of being happy

: an experience that makes you happy

Full Definition of HAPPINESS

obsolete :  good fortune :  prosperity

a :  a state of well-being and contentment :  joy

   b :  a pleasurable or satisfying experience
For the purposes of this post, I am focusing on the regular definition, along with part 2 of the full definition.
Happiness is a topic that has been coming up a lot in my life lately, from many different sources. There was a replay of a podcast on TEDRadioHour focusing on happiness and a few from OnBeing that were very happiness-centric. Then of course there are the upcoming holidays, which definitely get me thinking about happiness and the quality of my life. A post that first really got me thinking about happiness both in life and in myself came from this Instagram post and is what really got the idea for this post going.
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This is a lesson I have really learned over the past few years. When I was in my younger 20s, a lot of my plans for life…well, they didn’t go exactly as planned. Not even close. It took a long time for me to pull myself out of the emotional hole that I had found myself in, had allowed myself to wallow in. Even longer for me to realize that not only could I be happy again someday, but I could be happy now.
I didn’t have to wait for a new plan or figure all of the pieces beforehand. I could figure out how this new life was going to look and take joy in the life that I had. Building this new life on the basis of joy, of contentment, has been one of the most difficult and rewarding things that I have ever done. And I’m not even close to done or ever really will be done. Building this life is a journey, one of discovery and exploration. I look back at that unhappy, confused and lost girl and don’t even recognize her. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that girl was ever me.
My life may not look anywhere close to what I expected it to at 28, but I am so much happier for that fact than I ever could have imagined. And so, with that, here are some things I have learned about happiness along the way:
  • Don’t wait for happiness to find you. You can find happiness in small things and those things do add up.
  • Along that same line of thought, don’t put your focus on someone else making you happy. That feeling is fleeting if it comes from external sources. I know we have heard it all before, but happiness, at least lasting happiness, comes from within.
  • Make small, manageable goals for yourself. Then go out an achieve them! The feeling from meeting those goals is awesome and can help a lot, especially if you have been having a hard time finding any happiness lately.
    • This is something I did frequently and still do on a regular basis. Large long terms goals are great, but when you are at a place in your life where you are struggling, they can feel more crushing than uplifting. For myself, I had to take myself out of those big goals that were overwhelming me and focus on small things I could do that day. There was a point where those goals were just as simple as shower and cook myself an actual meal.
  • Routines can help a lot! My daily routines center me, give me some normalcy and security, and help me to at least accomplish basic things each day. They also allow me to adapt better to sudden changes and be more spontaneous!
    • If you have a really hard time setting up daily routines, check out FlyLady! I know that some of her early baby steps can seem silly or unimportant, but they really do work! This site and community helped me to graduate college and to keep myself together when my life was falling apart. I don’t follow my routines as strictly as I did then, but the ones I learned there still form the backbone of my daily routines now. And whenever I feel like I need to reset my routines I go back through the baby steps!
  • Make time for yourself! I know, we all have heard this before, but it really holds true and can be so difficult to do. This can be taking the time to workout, read a book, or really anything.
    • Tip: Think of a few things you really enjoy and set aside time to do at least one of them on a regular basis. I’m not talking about the things we do almost out of habit that are enjoyable…I’m talking about the things that really brighten your day, make your week, etc. The things you love!

The list above is just a few things that I have learned over the past few years. While I know none of them are particularly new ideas, they are ones that I had a really hard time fully understanding or internalizing. Sometimes we can here those “life lessons” so many times but they don’t really click until much later. That was how these lessons were for me.

Now, to finish this post off, my 50 things (in no particular order) that make me happy. This is inspired by this post from Brey over at Ordinary Adventures. If you haven’t checked out her blog before, you should definitely head over there! She has so many awesome posts!

  1. Date nights with Boyfriend
  2. Getting greeted by our dogs when we get home
  3. Cooking a new recipe
  4. Spending time with my parents and extended familyDSCN0224_picmonkeyed
  5. Creating a new mosaicDSCN0051
  6. Making a new piece of decor for our houseDSCN0453
  7. Working with my dad on the house remodel (he does most of the work, but I like to pretend I’m a help :-P)
  8. Curling up with a favorite book
  9. Reading a new book
  10. When I’m writing a blog post and it’s just flowing wonderfully
  11. When I get a like or comment on one of my posts or pictures
  12. Working with my camera
  13. The smell of Lemon Garlic Chicken cooking (This smell just takes me back to my childhood)
  14. Watching our dogs play
  15. Seeing the house slowly coming together
  16. Watching a favorite TV show
  17. Watching Disney and Pixar movies
  18. Listening to jazz
  19. Horseback riding
  20. Hiking in the woodsDSCN0640_picmonkeyed
  21. Seeing a play liveIMG_2202
  22. Pretty much any time I’m hanging out with my momDSCN0420_picmonkeyed_picmonkeyed
  23. Cuddling with Boyfriend watching movies
  24. Making fused glass jewelryDSCN0480_picmonkeyed
  25. Going to bed with freshly washed sheets
  26. Listening to podcasts
  27. My workouts DSCN1222_picmonkeyed
  28. The BBG community on Instagram
  29. When I get a new hairstyle down
  30. Getting a haircut and style
  31. Doing hennaDSCN0281_picmonkeyed
  32. Watching my flowers growDSCN0931_picmonkeyed
  33. Growing my own vegetablesDSCN0590_picmonkeyed
  34. Cooking with vegetables and herbs from my garden
  35. My new craft space
  36. Watching the leaves turn in the fallDSCN1208_picmonkeyed
  37. Petting my dogs
  38. Cleaning my house
  39. New workout clothes
  40. Changing out decorations as the seasons changeDSCN0841_picmonkeyed
  41. Taking a walk with the dogs and BoyfriendIMG_2170
  42. Playing MarioKart
  43. Trying new foods
  44. Seeing friends I haven’t seen in a long time
  45. Making new friends (made even more exciting because I’m not great at this)
  46. Seeing my physical capabilities improve as I work on my fitness
  47. Wearing my favorite pieces of jewelry
  48. Dressing up for a date night with Boyfriend
  49. Traveling
  50. Yoga practice

What lessons or truths have you learned about happiness so far in your life? What things make you happy?

Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s meal prep! As you’ve noticed, I’ve been trying to keep things pretty simple, healthy and inexpensive. This week I succeeded in all three!

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Shredded Buffalo Chicken salads, a favorite no matter how many times we have them!
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Two week’s worth of breakfast burritos and some leftover shredded chicken for the freezer. Our breakfast burritos have Italian turkey sausage, bell pepper, onion, eggs, cheese and plenty of seasonings. They are delicious!
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As always, our regular favorite snacks!
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Red Curry Lentils with rice, chicken to go with the curry and my new recipe-in-testing Cabbage and Sausage Skillet. I think this curry may end up becoming a staple in our house 🙂
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This dish turned out good, great even, but it’s not quite ready to be shared yet. I still have some tweaking to do, but I am really enjoying exploring the recipe-creation side of things.

That’s it! I hope you all enjoyed this week, and stay tuned for some new recipes soon!

What are you cooking this week? Trying out any new recipes?

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Creating a Craft Room: DIY Upcycled Cabinets and Using What You Have

I’m sure you have all seen beautiful, light-filled craft rooms on Pinterest and blogs, colorful and just waiting to inspire creativity. I have this dream craft room…second-story room, windows with a beautiful view, waist high island with lots of cubbies for storage, colorful and organized. Sadly that room is still a far off dream, but sometimes you have to make due with what you have!

For years I have hidden away materials, only dragging things out to the living room when I had a project (or five) that I was working on. I had a card table permanently overflowing with those materials…it was an eyesore. Finally, a few months back, I decided that was enough!

Now, our basement is not nice, or pretty. But it definitely will work for a craft space.

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I started off clearing out most of the stuff out of the back room and painting the walls. While these are not drywall or anything, the paint helped a lot! Then I upcycled a dresser for some extra storage. If you are interested in what I did for that and missed it, check out this post.

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I moved around some of the furniture and then started on these cabinets! My goal for this room was to use storage items that I already had around the house. Saving extra money is definitely something I’m aiming towards!

These cabinets have been hanging around the basement for YEARS….they were an ugly yellow color, beat up, stained and just overall icky.

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I wiped them down with a cleaning solution, lightly sanded them and painted them with primer. Then started on the white paint.

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Once these were all painted white, doors included, I started on the design I wanted on the top cabinet doors. This is where I had….a bit of a learning experience.

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See these doors? These almost done doors with the pretty fleur de lis? These doors were a learning experience. When painting a design on cabinet doors, it is very important to check which way is up! These doors are upside down. I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when I went to hang my finished doors and realized I painted them upside down. So on went the primer and the white paint again, followed by repainting the fleur de lis the CORRECT way! I may have triple checked that they were the right way before I started repainting them.

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Finally, the cabinets are finished!

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As for the rest of the room, here is how the dresser is looking now.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of work to do in this room. But it is so much better than it was! I have a space that I can work in, all my materials easily accessible, and now that I’m in the basement I don’t have to worry about glass shards and puppy paws!

Where do you do your crafting? Do you have a dedicated space for it? If so, how did you put it together? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday Meal Prep

Hey everyone! Welcome to this week’s meal prep! I decided to keep things pretty simple this week, along with trying out a couple new recipes. I’ve been trying to branch out and try some new types of food. This week was a Indian lentil recipe called Dal. (After making it I realized this is possibly a type of lentil dish instead of a specific dish, so I may be trying out some new Dal recipes soon!)

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The extra rice from the bell peppers and a few of the bell peppers themselves were frozen. All of our salads are Shredded Buffalo Chicken this week!
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Sausage and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers. I love these! Not only are the delicious and easy to make, but they also freeze great!
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The two new recipes for this week: The Dal was much more tasty than it looks, I promise! From what I read, this can be more soup-like if you add more liquid, but I made it much thicker. I think next time I would make it thinner or serve it with rice. It was delish with a hard boiled egg though! The Easy Supper Casserole was good, but a bit too meaty for my tastes though Boyfriend really liked it!

The recipe for the Dal can be found in a free for download cookbook from this site. There are a bunch of tasty sounding recipes in here, so expect to see more in the future! The Casserole was in the “Steps to Healthy, Economical Meals” free government cookbook on this site. While it was good, I don’t know that I will make this again, at least not without some serious editing!

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As always, our regular snacks and sweets! Boyfriend has been taking the Cookie Dough Protein Bites to work, so I have started prepping them right into the containers when I’m making them.

That’s it for this week! What are you making this week? Have you tried any new types of foods lately?

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!