Sunday Meal Prep: January 31, 2016

Follow me on Bloglovin’

You ever have a week where nothing really sounds good? Where you try to plan it out, going through all your recipes and just can’t find anything that fits? That was definitely me this week! This hits me more in the winter months, and this week was especially hard.

Until I found these two soup recipes! These fit my mood perfectly. After I found those, all the rest of the menu just fell into place 🙂

Of course, I also whipped up another batch of Skinny Chicken Enchiladas, Breakfast Burritos and our regular Mason Jar Salads. Along with that, we bought some extra chicken this week and I made extra of both Buffalo and Southwestern Shredded Chicken to freeze for later weeks!

On to the three new recipes!

Tuscan Tortellini Soup – This soup was creamy, rich and oh-so-delicious! Definitely a good choice and I will be making it again. I did make one small change and used evaporated milk instead of heavy cream.

Sausage, Potato and Spinach Soup – A bit lighter than the other soup but no less tasty. It kinda reminded me of a little spicier version of Zuppa Tuscana. I made the same change to this one, using evaporated milk instead of heavy cream.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken – I love this recipe…I think I’m finding that I really like recipes with cashews in them!

You know when you think you picked up everything at the store, only to realize later that you didn’t? Well…that is what happened this week! I ended up going to the store to pick up cashews and tortellini about halfway through my cooking session. The tortellini was totally my fault, but I’m blaming Draz for the cashews 😛 I thought we had some left from the last time I used them in a recipe…turns out he enjoyed them as a snack instead!

So when I realized later that I didn’t buy enough eggs to make my normal double batch of burritos, there was no way I was going to the store for a second time! So this week was a bit smaller on the burritos, but still plenty for Draz and I to enjoy 🙂

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

BreakfastBurritos

That’s it for this week! What did you cook this week? Any new recipes? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

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!

Share

Friday Favorites: January 29, 2016

This week for Friday Favs I decided to try something a little different than last week! I’ve been wanting to focus more on photography than I have been the last couple months, so I think each week will include my favorite photo from the week 🙂 I also realized that a brief description of the posts I’m linking to might be helpful, so that’s going to be present from now on too!

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Recipes

Sunflower and Oat Energy Balls from Slim Sanity – I can’t wait to try these this weekend, they look so tasty!

Creamy Garlic Roasted Red Pepper Pasta from A Pinch of Yum – Admission time…I have yet to try zucchini pasta. I want to, but haven’t gotten a spiralizer yet. That being said, this sounds delicious!

Kung Pao Chicken Meatballs from Iowa Girl Eats – Outside of the fact that I love highlighting bloggers from Iowa, these meatballs look freakin’ amazing! I can’t wait to give these a try!

Home and Decor

Valentines Day Centerpiece from Craftaholics Anonymous – This centerpiece is quick, easy and oh so cute! And it looks like they have a bunch more fun holiday DIY decor too!

Shop the Look: Casey’s Master Bedroom from The DIY Playbook – There are so many cute things in this room! I got some great inspiration for our own remodel too!

Tips for Moving House from DizzyBrunette3 – I’m not moving right now, but these are some great tips! And things to definitely think about if you are planning on moving!

Laundry Room Makeover Reveal from Vintage Revivals – This room! This room is swoon-worthy! I love this laundry room! Ok, for context, my laundry space is in an unfinished basement and not at all pretty. But this room? This room is gorgeous!

2016 Craft Room Tour from Organize Your Stuff Now – I really like this room, but the part I like the most is the shelves of photo props! I’m working on improving my photography skills and I love how all of her things are put together and so pretty!

Create Dining Room Storage with Floating Shelves from hey, let’s make stuff – These shelves are going to get built for our dining room and possibly a corner I’m designing for the kitchen! These are so pretty and I’m sure my dad would help me make them! (Right Dad?!)

Art and DIY

Knitting Projects: My First Accomplishment from 2BlueEyes – I love how honest and excited she is about her first dishcloth! I still haven’t finished my first crocheting experiment, so I’m impressed by the fact that she finished it up as well. Learning a skill like that is hard!

Fitness

The Five Best Podcasts for Running from Just A Colorado Gal – I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks. There were a couple on here I haven’t check out before and the ones I had were some of my favorites! If you are looking for some new ones, check this out!

The Importance of Stretching + 12 Stretches to Help You Cool Down from Organize Yourself Skinny – Stretching is so important in your fitness routine and this is a great article about why!

Blogging and Business

7 things I wish someone had told me about business five years ago from jesscreatives – Some of these are things I have learned and some are still sinking in, but this post definitely resonates with me! As someone who is just now getting ready to start her business, this was a great read!

How to Take Better Photos for Instagram from DizzyBrunette3

– Ok, so I’m way behind on actually curating my Instagram. The whole “personal brand” for it just makes me feel weird and kinda fake (I know that’s not actually the case). But I really would like my Instagram feed to feel a little more cohesive and this has some great tips to do just that! What do you think of my first attempts?…Both the right photo of Achilles and the photo above of Crystal are edited using tips from this article 🙂

Life

I Confess…I’m Inspired by Gym & Tonic – I love this! She tells a story about giving someone a wonderful compliment and how that effected them, going on to talk about how important it is to spread kindness. This really hit home for me. One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is just how big of an impact something like that can have. So I try to do something to “spread kindness” every day.

Have you found anything new or interesting this week? I’d love to hear about it, or anything from here you like, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Share

Currently Creating: What I Made This Month

Hey all! Welcome to a new monthly series “Currently Creating.” I’ve been focusing more on creating my art lately, especially my jewelry! At the end of each month I will show you what I made, including in-progress shots. This month is all jewelry, but next month I plan on having some progress on my next mosaic to show you too! 🙂 I hope you will enjoy the look into my studio!

I would also like to highlight other artists, so if you have anything you made that you would like me to link to, send me a picture, description and your website and I will include it in a future post!

Have you been making anything new lately? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below!

Follow me on Bloglovin’

Sara (1)

Share

Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide Round 1 Complete!…Well, Kinda Complete

Ever since I started Kayla’s guide the first time I have been looking forward to this moment. Through all the setbacks, the injuries, everything…I’ve been looking forward to being able to say I had completed it once and showing off these fantastic progress pics. Only…that didn’t really take real life into account.

This first round through has been full of difficulties. 3 injuries, 2 sets of stitches, 2 months of physical therapy (which I’m still needing to continue at home sometimes, this week included), sickness, the holidays, etc. All of those things were things I didn’t plan on when I started the guides. But that’s life. And that is a lesson that I think I needed to really learn when I started this journey. It’s a journey. It’s a lifestyle.

Life isn’t always smooth sailing. While I knew that, I don’t think I fully appreciated how that would play into my workout program, especially this workout program.

Weeks 9-12 fell during and directly after the holidays. Now, I’m not making excuses. I could have pushed myself harder some of the time and been more on top of things. But between work being crazy due to the season, the “winter blues” hitting me a bit and just a general feeling of exhaustion, I did not do as well during the last four weeks of the guide. I skipped some workouts, did LISS directly after my resistance workouts other times and just in general didn’t do as well as I had hoped to.

For a while towards the end and right after, I was beating myself up pretty good over my lack of performance. But I’ve come to the realization that just because I had an off few weeks doesn’t mean I failed or anything like it.

I am still in the best shape of my life! I can (usually) do 10+ push-ups in a row before I need to go to my knees! I can do box jumps and tuck jumps and all sorts of other jumps that I couldn’t really do before!

So while I may have not done every resistance workout and these progress pics aren’t as impressive as I had originally hoped they would be, I’m counting this first round as done and as a success! I have made so much progress over these last 4 months and I can’t wait to see what the next round of BBG brings! (Hopefully less injuries than the first round!)

BBGRd1FrontBBGRd1SideBBGRd1Back

 

We did take measurements, but our methods weren’t practiced enough for me to be sure of the accuracy, though I think we are getting better at it! I am pretty positive that a few things changed though, especially one that can’t just be user error!

  • Waist: 37 in –> 31.5 in!

Things to Improve On During This Next Round

  • Go back to working out when I wake up instead of after work. I kinda fell out of that habit over the last month.
  • Keep LISS separate from resistance
  • Keep tracking diet for this whole round

I am currently having some issues with my back again, so I’m down to exercises from my physical therapy, LISS and yoga until it stops hurting so much. I can’t wait to start round 2 of BBG though!

How are your fitness goals coming? Did you have any difficulties over the holidays or due to the “winter blues” like I did? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below!

Sara (1)

Share

Sunday Meal Prep: January 24, 2016

Hey everyone! I am super excited to bring you this week’s meal prep! This week I am highlighting recipes from Eat Yourself Skinny. Kelly creates wonderful dishes that are not only healthy and filling, but full of flavor too! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, you definitely should!

You’ve seen recipes from her a few times, particularly the Skinny Chicken Enchiladas that have been making an appearance the past few weeks. That one has quickly become one of Draz’s favorites, so don’t expect to see it going away anytime soon. Each week it’s “What would you like on the menu for next week?” and his response has been “Enchiladas!?” each time!

Now, on to this week’s meal prep!

DSCN1813_picmonkeyedDSCN1814_picmonkeyed

Along with our Mason Jar Salads, Sweet Potato Banana Bites, my grapes and cheese and the Skinny Chicken Enchiladas, I made three new recipes this week!

Sausage and Veggie Stir-fry: Her recipe calls for spicy chicken sausage, which I sadly couldn’t find. I did use the Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage of the same brand and it turned out wonderful! Hopefully I can find somewhere that sells the spicy version, because I would love to try it 🙂

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili: Kelly is not exaggerating when she says it is the best turkey chili you will ever taste! If there is another, better recipe out there, I haven’t tried it. Quick to prep, easy, tasty, and healthy?! I think this will be our new stand-by for chili from now on!

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken: I like the versatility of this shredded chicken. So far I’ve used it in a couple wraps with some cheese and it was really good! I want to try it with some taco fillings…I think it will be even better!

That’s it for this week! Expect to see many more recipes from Kelly’s blog in the future. Her recipes are just too tasty!

What are you making this week? Any new recipes? I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment below!

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!

Share

Friday Favorites: January 22, 2016

Hey everyone! Welcome to my new (hopefully) weekly series: Friday Favorites! This will be a weekly roundup of my favorite blog posts and articles that I find throughout that week. I hope you like them!

Fitness

7 Tips for Working Out In The Morning by Oddly Lovely

Getting Back Into Fitness by A Girl, Obsessed

Recipes

Gluten-Free Chicken Marsala by The Lean Green Bean

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken by The Recipe Critic

Slow Cooker Cheese Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles by Persnickety Plates

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos by Pinch of Yum

Easy Quinoa Pizza Bowls by Gimme Some Oven

Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Onion by Naturally Ella

Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken by The Recipe Critic

Art & DIY

DIY Brass Handle Marble Tray by I Heart Organizing

Home & Family

52 Dates to do This Year by Friday We’re In Love

Currently by Iowa Girl Eats (this is a really cute idea for a post!)

The Coffee Bar by The Small Things Blog

Friday Eye Candy: Closet Organization by A Thoughtful Place

Life and Blogging

16 Steps to Make This Year the Best Year Ever by A Fresh Start on a Budget

Cheers to Two by Venus Trapped in Mars

What IS the Value of a Blog? by Venus Trapped in Mars

Enjoy! Not many links this week, but I hope to do a bigger link up most Fridays. What do you guys think of this new series? Have you found any really great links this week?

I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment below!

Sara (1)

Share

Meal Prep 101: My Top Tricks and Tips to Make it Easier and Why I Love Meal Prepping!

With the new year upon us, many of us are motivated to try out new things to improve our lives. For me last year, it was meal prepping! I started out 2015 hopeful…but frustrated. I loved cooking good and healthy (or healthyish) meals for Draz and myself, but too often we would get home from work exhausted and reaching for quick and easy dishes like pasta or pre-made convenience foods like frozen pizza. I had tried planning out menus for us, but a lot of times this just ended up with some of the meals made and the rest thrown out after it went bad. This was definitely not the lifestyle I wanted for us.

I had started getting into reading blogs the year before and had seen some of them talk about meal prepping. I knew that this could be an option to help us get on track. I jumped right in…which definitely lead to some mistakes and some exhausting days in the kitchen. But there has been a lot of learning this year! 🙂 Now I want to share what I have learned with you, so here is my meal prep 101 to get you started!

Busy lives can making eating healthy stressful! But it doesn't have to be that way! Meal prep can be your solution to simplifying your life and still eating healthy, tasty meals every day! To help you along the way, here are my top tips and tricks I learned through over a year of weekly meal prep!!

Reasons to Meal Prep:

  1. Convenient. Yes, there is a time-investment, both on the day you plan and the day you prep. But that time is much less than cooking each meal fresh when you eat it!
  2. Healthier. If desired, you can make sure that eat food you prep is healthy, or in line with your desired diet. When you already have delicious, healthy food made, it lessens the temptation to go with frozen pizza!
  3. Saves money. You can prepare your grocery list based on your meal prepping menu. This saves so much! Not only does this lessen impulse buys when you are doing your grocery shopping, it also helps prevent those “Oh no, we are out of this ingredient I need for dinner!” trips to the store!
  4. Lowers stress. Ok, this might just be me, but the whole “What’s for dinner?” thing can be stressful. I have enough going on that I don’t want to worry about what I want to eat, how long it takes to cook, etc. And I don’t even have kids! I know there are tons of people out there that are busier than me, meaning that they would benefit even more!
  5. Healthier. Yup, I needed to say this one again! Meal prepping has made such a huge difference on my fitness journey! Quite possibly more than any other individual thing.

Getting Started:

  1. Plan, plan, plan. Set aside some time prior to the day you plan on prepping to make your grocery list and plan out how much food you will need for the week. Also take this time to decide what meals and/or snacks you are prepping. I use Wednesday of each week to lay out my recipes, check what ingredients I currently have, and write my grocery list. I like doing this a few days prior to actual shopping, so if I forgot anything I have a few days to think about it.
  2. Containers. Check how many containers you currently have and will need on average. It is incredibly frustrating to finish cooking and then be scrambling to figure out how to put it away. My favorites are mason jars for my salads and Pyrex!mason-jar-salads-food-prep
  3. Space. Along that same line, make sure you have enough room in your fridge and freezer to put your food away!
  4. Time. Plan for more time than you think you will need. This is especially true for the first couple months that you are prepping. The first few times I prepped I felt like I had spent the whole day in the kitchen and was exhausted! But even then it was well worth it. Now, even with prepping all of our meals and snacks, it only takes 4-6 active hours, and sometimes only 2-3. (Please, please keep in mind I prep a lot of food. You don’t have to spend nearly that long!)

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Batch process your veggies! If you have a bunch of veggies needed for different dishes, cut them all up at the same time! This cuts time getting supplies out repeatedly.food-prep-behind-the-scenes
  2. Know how your food is being cooked! I suggest varying cooking methods. Having everything needing to be in the oven or on the stove is difficult. And once I planned for 3 dishes needing a slow cooker! Granted, I have two, but this was still an unexpected difficulty. Now I try to pick a variety of cooking methods each week.
  3. Multi-task! While something is simmering you can be chopping veggies. The same rule goes for just about anything else. That being said, pace yourself. It can be very stressful if you try to do too many dishes at once.vegetable-food-prep-process
  4. Clean as you go! This is especially true if you are planning a longer prep session. I usually find 2 points while I’m cooking that are good “pause points” that I can use to clean up, load and start the dishwasher, handwash things, etc. This makes things so much easier and less stressful! I will admit, this took me a few months to figure out and a few more to put into regular practice!

 

Just a few of my meal preps over the last year!

Do you meal prep or are you just starting? If you do, what is your favorite thing or part of prepping? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below!

Sara (1)

 

Share

Sunday Meal Prep: January 17, 2016

Have you or your significant other loved a dish so much that you just want it week after week? Well…that is the case in our house right now. These Skinny Chicken Enchiladas have recently been on here and probably will be again soon! Draz is just loving them, plus they are so easy to make and individualize for both of us!

Outside of that, I picked out a couple of my own older recipes that caught my eye this week. Our breakfast burritos are back too! Our large stock in the freezer is finally running low, so it was time to make some more. Enjoy!

DSCN1760_picmonkeyedDSCN1754_picmonkeyed

I promise these dishes taste better than they look! (I really need to work on my photography) Chicken was the focus of the week, but with such varying flavors. That is one of the things I love about cooking with chicken.

And that’s it for this week! Make sure to check out the recipes below! They are both easy and delicious!

What are you cooking this week? Bringing back any old favorites? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below!

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!

Sara (1)

Easy & Yummy Slow Cooker Chicken

DSCN1757_picmonkeyed

Ingredients:

~2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

2 (10 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup

1 (2 oz) envelope onion soup mix

1/2 c milk

1 c carrots, chopped

6-7 medium-large potatoes, cut 1″-1.5″ (I use red potatoes)

Put chicken into slow cooker. In a bowl, mix soup, onion mix, and milk; stir. Add into slow cooker. Add cut vegetable’s to the slow cooker and mix. Cook on low for 7-9 hours; mix before serving. Enjoy!

Easy Parmesan Garlic Chicken

DSCN1756_picmonkeyed

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4-6 portions

1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

1 oz Italian salad dressing mix

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Mix cheese, dressing mix and garlic powder. Moisten chicken with water; coat with cheese mixture. Place in shallow baking dish (non-stick or foil-lined) Bake 20-25 min.

Can serve alone or with spaghetti.

 

 

Share

Plum Paper Planner Review + My Top 5 Tips for Planning in 2016

Do you love planners? I do! There is something about the physical reality of a paper planner…being able to lay everything out with pen or pencil, add designs, take notes, and so much more. I have always preferred using an actual planner instead of one on the computer or online (though those do have their uses).

The one thing that I have searched high and low for is the perfect planner layout. I can be super-picky about my weekly layouts, any extra pages, the thickness of the cover…I know it’s a little crazy, but a great planner can make things so much easier!

The last couple years I have started using them again and have spent hours looking at different stores online, reading reviews, noting my favorites and just generally agonizing over the decision (told you I’m a little crazy). This time I think my searching has paid off! Enter Plum Paper!

I have actually been using this new planner for a little over a month and have been anxiously awaiting the time to share it with all of you! With the new year a couple weeks old and now that I’ve had some time to try out the new planner, it’s time!

Plum Paper 2016 custom plannerPlum Paper 2016 custom daily planner inside front page

I love how easy this was to customize! The cover image and words and 13 months instead of 12 so I could start in Dec’ 15 (plus much more you will see below). Isn’t it pretty?!

Monthly Pages

I love everything about the pages that make up each month! The 7 labels for the weekly categories were ones that I wrote myself. Just imagine what you could do with 7 categories for each day of your week! It took me a bit to determine the best way to use them, as some things fit in multiple categories, but I’m getting use to it now and loving it.

I added on extras, one sheet of To Do Lists and another for Bill Recording. I’ve been mostly using the To Do Lists to track my weekly menus, which is really helpful. The other thing I really love is the monthly highlights page at the front! 3 goals, important dates, things to remember, plus extra spaces for notes!

Now on to one of the other features that sold me on this planner…

the Blog Section!

They have a ton of different sections you can add on, but the one that I loved was the blog planning section! I am trying to improve how I plan the blog and I hope this will be a helpful tool in that goal. I’ll admit, I still am learning how to utilize this section and some of the pages aren’t currently relevant, but I have high hopes!

Overall, I am so glad that I purchased this planner. This is the best one I have found thus far and incredibly reasonably priced. I would predict that I will be making another purchase from them next year!

The only complaint I’ve had so far is that I wish the cover was thicker or plastic. I put my planner in my purse on a regular basis and I worry about it being bent up.

My Top 5 Tips for Planning in 2016

  1. Start off the week laying out the priorities for the week. I use this time to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything (a meeting, outing, etc) and set time aside to work in my studio and to write.
  2. Make sure you keep it with you! This is regardless of how you plan, be it a physical planner, cell phone or computer. It is so easy to think of something you need to get done and forget it by the time you get home. I take mine with me to work and almost always write things down in my first break. Also, if I remember something when I can’t write it in there, I put it in the notes section of my phone and write it down as soon as I can.
  3. Actually check your planner throughout the day! It doesn’t help you to lay things out early in the week and then leave it alone the rest of the day. Our memories are fallible, that’s why we use planners 🙂 I have had multiple times I have thought I was done when I got home, not checked my planner and then realized the next day I forgot to do something.
  4. Don’t overschedule! It’s demoralizing to constantly not finish what you have set out to do. Now, this is something I’m guilty of on a regular basis, so this is definitely a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. I really am trying to work on this, but it’s rough! I have a tendency to overestimate how many things I can get done and underestimate how long each thing with take me.
  5. Reward yourself by checking things off as you go! Each time you do it gives your brain a little hit of dopamine, which is always nice. Not only does it make you feel rewards, it provides motivation to keep productivity high so you can keep checking more things off!

How do you plan? Do you like physical planners or are you more tech-based methods? What’s your favorite? Any tips for planning? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below!

Sara (1)

Share

Sunday Meal Prep – January 10, 2016

Hey everyone! I hope that your first full week of 2016 went great! Our week had some hiccups, but if anything they just reminded me how happy I am that we do meal prep! I spent a couple days on MUCH less sleep than I usually prefer and let’s just say I don’t function well on less sleep. It was really helpful to not have to worry about what we were going to eat!

This week I tried out a new recipe, plus one that is quickly becoming a household favorite! Enjoy!

DSCN1733_picmonkeyedDSCN1736_picmonkeyed

These Skinny Chicken Enchiladas are so wonderful! Enough so that I made some extra shredded chicken specifically to freeze for future batches. Draz is requesting this on a regular basis, and one of the things I love about it is that I can use regular white tortillas for his and whole wheat for mine. One dish fit to both of our preferences!

New this week is Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli. I don’t think I can say enough about this one! The meat was a little pricier than what we usually purchase, but it was well worth it! The beef just fell apart and it was a very flavorful dish. I definitely see us making this one again. 🙂

And that’s it for this week! What are you making? Any new dishes? I would love to hear your thoughts and what you are cooking up, so please leave a comment below!

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!

Share