sunday meal prep 5/29/16

Hey all! I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend! This week has been really weird for me, being back at work and having to shift my schedule from “vacation” to “work” again. But even with that, I had a pretty good week! That weirdness did lead to me cooking one dish from this week’s menu a little later on though. I was so exhausted trying to shift my schedule back that I decided I was done cooking for the day. So the soup for this week was actually cooked on Thursday instead of Sunday. Everything else for our meal prep went as planned though, and all the recipes turned out great!

Enjoy!

How I make my week easier and healthier through meal prep! Cook once and have tasty food all week long!

Read More

links I love

It’s Friday!! Ok, in all honesty, I’m not really as excited about Friday this week as I usually am. It’s been a long week, with it being the first week back at work from vacation. But I’m happy the weekend is here and excited about getting some work done on my day off. Did you have an awesome week? Any exciting plans for the weekend? Anyone with a 3 day weekend?

Either way, I have some great reads for you for your weekend! I found so many great articles this week and I’m so happy to be sharing them with you! Some of these, especially the fitness-related ones, really hit home and got me thinking. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Read More

sunday meal prep 5/22/16

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you all had an amazing weekend! Mine was pretty good, though I am pretty sad about my vacation ending. I got a lot done and feel really rejuvenated…but I still don’t want to go back to the “real” world πŸ™‚ Oh well…life goes on and I must return to work. And part of life going on is meal prep! I had a lot of fun with this week’s menu, with a few new dishes and a change up in my salads! Enjoy!

How I cook once and eat healthy all week long with meal prep!

Read More

friday favs: links I love

Happy Friday everyone!! I hope you all had a wonderful week and some excitement planned for the weekend! It’s gorgeous here in Central Iowa, so I’m hoping to go out for a hike this weekend before my vacation ends. Which is sad….I’m really trying not to focus on my vacation being over in a couple of days. Then it’s back to real life πŸ™‚ Which isn’t all that bad. But one thing I’m not sad about is sharing this list with you! I found a lot of great stuff this week, so you should have plenty to read over your weekend.

Enjoy!

Read More

My Top 5 Tips for Setting Mindset and Increasing Productivity

I have this ideal in my mind….I sit down in my beautiful clean office at my nice, cleared off desk and just write. Everything flows, there are no starts and stops, no writing and then erasing, just wonderfully composed words on my screen. It’s easy. This scene is not reality. Not even close.

In reality, my office is a corner of my living room, my desk is never really cleared off (and is a bit too small overall) and the words rarely flow smoothly into the keys. And that’s ok. Even if someday I have that beatifiul office and big, cleared off desk, the words probably won’t just come to me. Writing is work for me. Enjoyable, most of the time, but work. This is probably a lot of people’s reality, not just mine.

So the question becomes “How do I make this easier? How do I get as close to that ideal as possible?” Because while I have a lot of things I do as a blogger, writing is a pretty big part of it! I can’t have this blog and get to interact with all of you without actually writing the content!

So you might be asking at this point “How does this apply to me?” Especially if you aren’t a blogger or writer! Well, maybe it doesn’t…but I think that most of us have some sort of task that we struggle with and I believe that most of these tips work for a variety of tasks! And I think most of us can agree that there is a lot of satisfaction and pleasure in finishing a day feeling like you were super-productive! I know I love that feeling and these are tips I’ve been using since college (WAY longer ago than I would like to admit!) to achieve just that feeling! They have helped me through a lot of different types of tasks.

Β We all love that feeling of being super-productive and getting stuff done! These are my top 5 tips for increasing your productivity and setting your mindset! I use these all the time and they really help me get things done!
Top 5 Tips for Setting Mindset and Increasing Productivity
  • Use music to set your mindΒ – This is a trick I’ve used for year, first in college for studying and now on the blog for writing. Pick a style of music that isn’t distracting to you and put that on every time that you work on that task. I love soundtracks, since they are instrumental and usually pretty uplifting! Only put that music on when you are working on that particular task. It takes time, but after a while you may find that putting on that music actually helps you focus and start working!
  • Declutter your workspaceΒ – I still struggle with this one on a regular basis! I am great at adding to my desk or workspace without even realizing it. Then suddenly I barely have room to work! But I know that when my space is cleared off I work better and am less distracted.
  • Turn off your notifications, phone, etcΒ – This one is pretty obvious, but still needs to be said. It takes 20 min (Check for research source to back this up) to get into the “zone” and only takes checking one notification to pull you out of it. This can really mess up your productivity and make it harder to focus!
  • Don’t multi-taskΒ – This is one that has taken me the longest to figure out. When I started this blog I wrote most of my posts while sitting in my comfy chair with the TV on. I didn’t have a workspace set up and figured that since I always picked a show I knew really well it didn’t matter. I was wrong. It took me so long to write anything and the quality was probably lower than it should be. I will say, this one is mostly for things like writing, researching, correspondence, things like that. I do some of my more time-consuming creative stuff in front of the TV and it works fine!
  • Pick a day or time of day to workΒ – This is probably one of the hardest for me and doesn’t always get followed, but when you can it helps a lot. I writing most of my posts on Wednesday nights. I’m also adding in a few other times throughout the week, but I know it’s easier for me to get in “writing mode” when I sit down on Wednesday because that’s when I always write.

I will admit, I’m better at some of these than others! Clutter and attempting to multi-task are my weak points and things I am constantly reminding myself about. I hope these tips can help you in being more productive and setting your mindset to what you need to work on!

Bonus tip! Make sure to schedule short breaks into your tasks. This Research News Post from talks about a research study showing improved focus due to short breaks during a 50 minute task. And it’s definitely not the only study out there! There are lots of studies showing that trying to focus too long on one task can decrease your focus and productivity.

Did I miss a technique you use to increase your productivity? Or maybe gave you a new one to try? I love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

 

Sara

sunday meal prep 5/15/16

Hey everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic weekend so far! It’s been a bit weird for me, since Draz and I are on vacation right now. Good weird, but still weird. But I’ve been really enjoying it! I’m still planning on doing some meal prep this week, even though we are on vacation. I don’t need a repeat lesson of last time!

How to use meal prep to simplify your life: Cook once and eat healthy all week!

Now, for this week’s meal prep, most of what you are seeing is the same that we have been making lately. For good reason…it’s delicious! But I did make sure to add in something new, or at least new to the blog!! I don’t make this dish very often. It’s not quite as healthy as I usually like to try to stick to, plus it makes a lot of dirty dishes! But it is just so tasty! So when I was flipping through my cookbook trying to pick something, this is what I ended up landing on. I hope you like it!

Before we get into the new recipe, salads! I think this will be the last week for my salads being the same. I really want to try something new!
Before we get into the new recipe, salads! I think this will be the last week for my salads being the same. I really want to try something new! Any suggestions? What type of salads do you love?
One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta, Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta and Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese!
One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta, Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta and Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese!
Sloppy Joe Mac & Cheese
Print Recipe
With homemade cheese sauce and savory meat, this dish is just full of tasty goodness! This meal is comfort food to the max and well worth the mess it makes πŸ™‚
Servings Prep Time
8-12 people 5-10 min
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 min 35 min
Servings Prep Time
8-12 people 5-10 min
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 min 35 min
Sloppy Joe Mac & Cheese
Print Recipe
With homemade cheese sauce and savory meat, this dish is just full of tasty goodness! This meal is comfort food to the max and well worth the mess it makes πŸ™‚
Servings Prep Time
8-12 people 5-10 min
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 min 35 min
Servings Prep Time
8-12 people 5-10 min
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 min 35 min
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and sloppy joe mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally.
  2. Drain macaroni; set aside. In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, mustard and pepper until smooth. Gradually add almond milk and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 5-7 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in 3 cups cheese until melted. Add macaroni; mix well.
  3. Spread 2/3 of the macaroni mixture in a greased 13x9x2 baking dish. Spread beef mixture to within roughly 2 inches of the edges. Spoon remaining macaroni mixture around edges. Cover and bake at 375 for 30 min.
  4. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5-6 min longer or until cheese is melted.
Recipe Notes

Nutritional Facts (according to caloriecount.net)

Calories 422, from Fat 181; Total Fat 20.1 g, Saturated Fat 10.3 g, Cholesterol 78 mg, Sodium 524 mg, Potassium 524 mg, Total Carbs 37 g, Dietary Fiber 2.7 g, Sugars 4.2 g, Protein 26.1 g, Vit A 21%, Calcium 37%, Vit C 14 %, Iron 51%

Share this Recipe
 

As I said, pretty simple this week. But definitely tasty! That Mac and Cheese is so good! Did you make any old favorite comfort foods for this week’s meal prep, or try a new dish? I love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!!

Sara

Want to get started doing meal prep for 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!

 

friday favs: the links I love

It’s Friday!! I am so excited for this weekend!! Unlike most weeks, where my “weekends” are split and I work Fridays and Sundays, I am on VACATION! *dances around like crazy*

Ok…now that’s out of my system πŸ™‚ I hope you are having an awesome week and planning for an even more awesome weekend! I have some exciting things planned for this weekend, including a fun lunch date with a friend. But right now I’m really happy to be sharing with you the links I love from this week! I think I found some pretty awesome articles, so now you have some great reading to add to your already awesome day!

But before we get to that….my favorite pic of the week! Kind of a behind the scenes look πŸ™‚ This was last weekend when we had my parents over for lunch for Mother’s Day, with my mom taking the picture. This is also why I don’t show my kitchen very often either!! It’s not so pretty, is it? Someday I will have a pretty kitchen…Β But either way, we had a fantastic time!

Cooking at home, kitchen, family

Enjoy!

Recipes

Thai Red Coconut Curry with Chicken from Slender Kitchen

Cheeseless Buffalo Chicken QuesadillaΒ from Run, Sweat, Eat, Repeat

Italian Chicken Meatball Subs from Persnickety Plates

Citrus Marinated Carne Asada from Slender Kitchen

Bacon Chicken Alfredo Pizza from The Recipe Critic

Art and DIY

Photo DIY Ledge from A Beautiful Mess – Photos are one of those things I have a really hard time putting up. I always end up putting it off until later, or until I have the “right” way to display it. Maybe I should make some of these?

Thrift Store Bookcase/Nightstand Makeover Tutorial from Jenna Sue Design Co. – Wow! I had been planning on throwing out a really old and beaten up bookcase (from Walmart 10+ years ago, back damaged, etc) but I think I might try some of what she did! Plus I’ve been working on improving my furniture-painting skills, so maybe some practice on a piece like that would be good. Her results were amazing!!

Life and Family

Create a Positive Life and Break Free of Failure from Passion Themed Life – Wow…I love this post! Some of the points touch on things I have just started getting into, and others are things I have been focusing on a lot this year in order to achieve my goals and live a happier, more fulfilled life! Great read!

Fitness and Health

6 Simple Reasons Why Camping is So Good for Your Health from Cool of the Wild – I used to go camping pretty regularly as a kid and up into my early twenties…I don’t think I really thought much about how much I missed it until this year. Being outdoors can be so great for you, both mentally and physically. This one is a great read about why camping is so awesome!

Small Steps for Getting Started from Sweat, Stretch, Eat – While I think this is a great post for beginners, it’s also a great reminder for those of us who are struggling to stay on track. It can be so overwhelming and discouraging to not be meeting your fitness goals or not doing as well as you were. This post is great for reminding me that it doesn’t have to be so hard to get back on track!

5 Simple Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling from Organize Yourself Skinny – Traveling can make it difficult to stay healthy. This has some great easy tips to help you out!

Fashion

3 Tips to the Art of Accessorizing from A Thoughtful Place – If you guys haven’t noticed, I LOVE jewelry. Granted, most of what I wear is my own, but these tips are great!…And maybe something I need to keep in mind more when styling my own pieces. I wonder if most of mine would count as statement pieces?

Blogging and Business

Why Everything You Hear About How to Blog is Wrong from Helene In Between – I love this! As a still pretty new blogger, I can struggle sometimes with what I feel is authentically “me” and what others say. There is no magic formula for being a successful blogger. In the end, you need to figure out what success is for you and how you want to get there. This has some great tips to keep in mind while you figure that out!

How to Master the Flat Lay from Dizzy Brunette3 – Ugh…the flat lay. I can’t ever seem to get this thing down. Maybe with some of these tips and ideas I can! While I don’t want my feed to be a bunch of flat lays or anything like that, it would be nice occasionally to be able to style one πŸ™‚

That’s it for this week!! I think there are some pretty awesome posts in there, so make sure to check a few out for some weekend reading! Have a great weekend!

Sara

1 year of blogging!!!

29th Birthday
Ok, so this is from my birthday, and I sadly don’t have a cupcake, but this definitely fits how I feel! Maybe I can get a cupcake later πŸ™‚

Wow…I can’t believe it’s been one year since I started this blog! I have so many things I want to say that I’m not even sure where to start! (apologies if this ends up being rambly because of that)

First off, before I get talking about everything else going through my head, I want to say “Thank you!” to you, my readers. I’ve loved getting to know some of you through my little blog and I hope to get the chance to know you better in the future! There were many times over the past year that I wondered if there was any point to what I was doing, if anyone was listening. But then one of you would say you were inspired to start meal prepping, on your own fitness journey, or tried your own DIY and I was re-energized! I really do love each and every one of you and I appreciate the support I’ve gotten throughout this year.

When I started this blog, I had no real idea what I was doing. (most days I still feel like I don’t) I didn’t have much experience with anything technology-based. The photography was….well, while I still have a long way to go, I’m WAY better than I was when I started! All the technical stuff seemed so overwhelming and foreign to me. To be honest, I’m a little surprised that I stuck with it long enough to get going, but I was determined!

I just knew that I wanted to share the things I was learning with people. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I wanted to inspire someone else the way that I had been inspired.

And that is still my purpose, my “why”….I want to take what I have learned about happiness, health and living a fulfilled life and share it with others! When I was in that darkest point of my life, I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I had my friends and family, but they didn’t really understand what I was going through or why I was having such a hard time navigating my newly-changed life. But there were a few blogs that had really revitalized my interests and life in general and they helped me get through that dark point and come out whole.

That whole experience is what started this whirlwind of a year! From meeting new people, both online and in person, to learning new photography skills, this year of blogging has taught me so many things! Both about the world of blogging and about myself. In many ways it has changed the way I view the things in my life in a very real way. Sometimes in the way of keeping an eye out for inspiration for that next blog post.

But in many ways it has helped me to appreciate the things I have in my life. Draz for being so supportive, plus keeping me grounded and realistic when I get too out there! My parents, for pretty much everything. Even my day job, because so many people there have been supportive of this, even acting as sounding boards sometimes! Blogging has changed me and I’m so grateful for that and for you! There have been so many experiences this year that I couldn’t have ever anticipated, all brought about through the blog!

I’m so excited to see what this next year and beyond will bring! I have some ideas and projects in mind, all with the goal to bring you some new content that will really be of value to you! That being said, I would love to hear what YOU would like to see from me in the future! Is there an area of health or the journey to happiness that you are struggling with or want to hear more about? Do you want to see more recipe-geared posts? More DIY? I can’t wait to see what you would like to see, so please leave a comment below!

Sara

sunday meal prep 5/8/16

Hey everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful Mother’s Day! My parents came out yesterday and we had a wonderful, home-cooked meal. I’m so glad we decided to do that instead of going out to eat! πŸ™‚ Even with it being Mother’s Day, I hope you are able to take some time to do a bit of meal prep today. It does so much to make the week go more smoothly!

The meal prep I’m sharing with you today was pretty basic. We were still pretty well stocked on treats and snacks, so most of the cooking was centered around our main meals. The one thing that I am excited to share with you….my Healthier Cinnamon Bread recipe! I have been making cinnamon bread as part of my breakfast for a long time, but a while back I decided to try to clean it up and make it a bit healthier. I’m happy to say that it worked out well and we love the result!

Enjoy!

Meal Prep - An easier way to eat healthy all week!

Mason-Jar-Salads
Our salads were pretty basic this week. I know, I keep saying that I am going to change up my salads, but I just love the buffalo shredded chicken. Do you have any suggestions? I would love to try some new salads!

Spicy-Goulash

This Spicy Goulash was actually a new recipe from Taste of Home’s 2008 Everyday Slow Cooker cookbook. As some of you know, this is one of my favorite cookbooks and one of my go-to’s when I’m stuck and nothing sounds good. We really liked this one!

Thai-Peanut-Chicken-Pasta-One-Pot-Garlic-Pasta

Are you even surprised? After the Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta was such a hit last week, Draz asked me to make it again. Which I happily did! Expect to see more of this one soon πŸ™‚ And we hadn’t had this One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta in a while, so when Draz asked me to make this too, I was all for it. I love pasta! (if you couldn’t already tell that) Especially since Draz usually doesn’t make requests, so when he does I tend to go with them!

Healthier-Cinnamon-Bread-and-Grapes

This bread! Oh how I love this bread. It’s quick and easy to make, pretty healthy and oh so delicious. Enjoy!

Healthier-Cinnamon-Bread

Healthier Cinnamon Bread
Print Recipe
I have loved having cinnamon bread as part of my breakfast for a long time now, but I wasn't always happy about how healthy it was. Not so with this recipe! After a lot of adapting and experimenting, I created this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hr 10 min
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hr 10 min
Healthier Cinnamon Bread
Print Recipe
I have loved having cinnamon bread as part of my breakfast for a long time now, but I wasn't always happy about how healthy it was. Not so with this recipe! After a lot of adapting and experimenting, I created this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hr 10 min
Servings Prep Time
2 loaves 20 min
Cook Time Passive Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
Servings: loaves
Instructions
  1. All of these directions are using an electric stand mixer. If you are using something else, adjust as needed.
  2. In your mixing bowl, add bananas, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla essence. Mix on low until combined. Add unsweetened almond milk, then lemon juice; continue mixing on low.
  3. One cup at a time, slowly add whole wheat flour while mixing on low, scraping sides of bowl between each cup. After adding the last cup of flour, add the baking soda. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then mix on low briefly to fully combine.
  4. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and the cinnamon to make a cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray. Put 1/2 of the batter (or a little less) into the loaf pans; 1/4 in each pan. Sprinkle 3/4 of the cinnamon mixture on top of the batter in each pan.
  6. Add remaining batter to pans, then sprinkle with last of the cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife.
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hr or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan to cooling rack.
Recipe Notes

Nutritional Information according to MyFitnessPal: 141 calories - Carbs 32 g, Fat 1 g , Protein 3 g , Cholesterol 16 mg, Sodium 116 mg, Potassium 120 mg, Sugars 17 g, Vitamin A 1%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 5%, Iron 5%

Nutritional Information is for 1 slice. Each loaf, for us, comes to 13 slices.

Share this Recipe

That’s it for this week! Are you trying any new recipes this week? Do you have a favorite go-to cookbook? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day and a fantastic rest of the weekend!

Sara

Want to get started doing meal prep for 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!

friday favs: the links I love

It’s Friday!! Ok, I’m usually pretty happy for the weekend (even though I don’t have a traditional weekend off of work…huh…that’s kinda weird). But right now I’m even more excited!! I still have a few days of work left, but I am almost to our vacation!! 11 glorious days together off of work. Or at least off of our day jobs. We both still have work to do, but we will get plenty of time together too. Plus I’m meeting up with a friend for lunch and a few other exciting events scheduled!! But, that’s not the focus for today. Today is all about the links I love from this week! Honestly, it’s a pretty short list. Not because there wasn’t quality stuff out there. More just my focus has been a little off this week, so I didn’t do quite as much reading as I normally do. But either way, I hope you enjoy the links I love…maybe you will even love them too!?

links-I-Love, Ada-Hayden
Along with the links I love, this is one of the places I love. The May photos turned out great!

Recipes

Sesame Noodles with Broccoli and Almonds from Gimme Some Oven

Ham and Swiss Quinoa Egg Bake from Organize Yourself Skinny

Fitness

Create an Amazing Home Exercise Routine FOR Free With The Fitnet Workout App from Organize Yourself Skinny – I haven’t tried this yet, but I think I might soon! As most of you know, I have been still struggling with my back issues for the past few months, so Kayla’s BBG really hasn’t been possible for me. I’ve been keeping up with the treadmill, but that’s about it. I’ve been leaning towards kinda giving in to the reality that starting BBG again isn’t going to happen soon, so I need to start figuring out a new routine that I can do with my back issues.Β I’m hoping this app will have some options that I can try!

You Are More Than Your Body (Fat) from Girls Gone Strong – This hits on so many issues I either have struggled with or continue to struggle with. Fantastic read and really thought provoking.

Creating Your Own Home Gym from Kate Moving Forward – A home gym is awesome! And you don’t need a huge amount of space to have one. I would love to have a gym membership, but that is a little out of our budget right now. So I love the home gym I’ve put together! (of couse, I’m really lucky I had parents who were done with their treadmill, but you can still do a lot without that)

Art and DIY

Inspired Idea: DIY Gilded Roses from Lauren Conrad – I’m going to admit something…I’m not a huge fan of roses. They are ok, but I have a lot of flowers I prefer over roses. But these! These are so pretty!

Blogging and Business

The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Your Blog Content from Melyssa Griffin – This is something I’m still struggling with! I’m going to have to put a lot more thought into some of the techniques and platforms she talks about here…Especially Periscope? I have heard a ton, but haven’t checked it out yet! Any Periscope users out there with tips?

How Not to Get Caught in the 6-Figure Blogger Suck-in from by Regina – I’ve seen a lot of this on the web and I love how she lays this out. Great read.

Style

2 Hacks for a Front Braid on Dark + Straight Hair from The Small Things Blog – Ok, so my hair is only straight sometimes. But it’s definitely dark! And I’m going to be trying this style and tip in the next few days! I’m always a little disappointed in my braids, mostly because they just kinda blend. Here’s hoping this will help!

That’s it for the links I love this week! I love what I did find and I hope you did too! Have a wonderful weekend!

Sara