Sunday Meal Prep: February 21, 2016

Hey everyone! This week’s meal prep is all about keepin’ things simple 🙂 I was still not feeling all that great when I was planning for this prep (prep posts are staggered by one week, so this was last week) so I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to spend much time in the kitchen. I would say it was a success!

This prep took around 3 – 3.5 hrs of active cooking, so not too bad at all 🙂

Meal Prep

Pulled pork, sausage and veggie stir fry, chicken curry, mason jar salads
Our main meals
cookie dough protein bites, sweet potato banana bites, grapes and cheese, healthy snacks
Snacks and treats

 

Two main dishes for this week, other than more Pulled Pork for Draz: Slow Simmered Curried Chicken and Skillet Sausage and Veggies. Both of these turned out delicious!

The Curried Chicken is from the Easy Asian Recipes cookbook. I love this book! (Not an affiliate link)

The Skillet Sausage and Veggies is from the Taste of Home Everyday Slow Cooker & One Dish Recipes 2008 cookbook, another cookbook I really love! (Again, not an affiliate link) However, the recipe below is based on the recipe I used this week. Enjoy!

Sausage Pepper and Cabbage recipe

I did also spend a little bit of time this week playing around with styling for food photography. What do you think?

That’s it for this week! What did you prep this week? 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!

Friday Favs: February 5, 2016

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful week! Here’s the awesome links I found this week! 🙂 Enjoy!

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Playing with angles – my favorite picture from this week of a sculpture in downtown Ames, IA

Recipes

Homemade Spicy Ramen with Tofu from Pinch of Yum – This sounds freakin’ delicious! I actually haven’t cooked with tofu yet and this recipe might be changing that.

Spinach Chana Dal from 100 Days of Real Food – So you might have noticed that I have started really getting into cooking Indian food lately…like all the others, this one sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to give it a try!

Teriyaki Grilled Chicken and Veggie Rice Bowls from Cooking Classy – This sounds so tasty! I’ve never made my own teriyaki sauce before and I really love her point about food in bowls just being awesome in general 🙂

Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Hoisin Dipping Sauce from Skinnytaste – These sound delicious! I’ve never cooked with shrimp…honestly it makes me kinda nervous. But these sound like a great introduction to them!

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers {Lightened Up} from Organize Yourself Skinny – Slow cooker and tasty sandwich?! This sounds perfect to me! We are definitely going to make this in the future!

Sriracha Buffalo Cauliflower Bites from Half Baked Harvest – I have heard of of using cauliflower as a substitute for chicken for buffalo “wings” but haven’t really looked up any recipes. Well that is different now! I can’t wait to try these!

Game Day White Chicken Chili from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen – I have plenty of chili recipes, but no good chicken chili ones. This sounds super tasty!

Breakfast Enchiladas with Roasted Poblano Sauce from Pinch of Yum – As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we have a bit of an enchilada obsession over here…And I love any and all breakfast foods! This combination sounds just about perfect for us!

Peanut Butter Flourless Chocolate Cake from Gimme Some Oven – Ahhh…Peanut butter and chocolate. The perfect match. With my birthday coming up, this beautiful cake needs to be made!

Home and Decor

On Starting a Garden from The Small Things Blog – I love reading about new gardeners! You may remember that I did a small gardening experiment last spring/summer. What she is talking about doing for her garden sounds like what I would like to try this year!

Art and DIY

Personalized Gift Wrap from A Thoughtful Place –

Fitness

3 Shoulder & Back Strengthening Exercises I Learned in PT from Working Out and Eating In – Ok, so those of you who have been following me for a while might remember that I have a lot of problems with my back, even ending up in PT myself a few months ago. However, these 3 exercises are ones I didn’t learn in my PT and are definitely ones I am going to try out!

Blogging and Business

How to Make Your Blog Posts Stand Out from A Girl, Obsessed – This article has some great tips, including two that I really want to work on!

Ten Tips for Flay Lay Photography from A Girl, Obsessed – She is just killin’ these articles this week! (As she is most weeks) Photography is something I am really trying to work on and I hope to try out some of the tips in this article.

5 Best Pieces of Advice When Starting a Business from Goodbeads – I love this! As someone who is working towards launching a business soon (more on that to come), she has some great pieces of advice…the first and last ones I will probably have to remind myself on a regular basis!

The Blogger’s Guide to Networking from damask love – As something I have a hard time with and not many opportunities to practice, this is a great read!

Life

10 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming An Adult from Dizzybrunette3 – With my birthday coming up later this month, this so hits close to home! (Plus, keep an eye out for a post I have planned that is similar to this on my birthday!)

5 Ways to Make Sure You Have a Good Day from Barefoot Blonde – Amber’s post is too cute and I love the idea of the 30 min power clean!

What to do After You Pay Off Debt from Making Sense of Cents – I’m not even close to paying off my debt, but this is a great article on what to do if I ever do!

This is 29 from Racing Bananas – Another post that really hits home with my 29th birthday coming up! I love how they had a pretty low key and relaxing celebration. Plus I’m kinda envious of that dog park!

5 Things I Do to Keep Meal Prep Simple from Organize Yourself Skinny – I love the tips she puts here, many of which I do myself! If you are looking at starting or simplifying your meal prep, this is a great read!

Cooking Date Night from Cupcakes & Cashmere – Draz and I work together, so this article has a particular draw for me. Creating a dedicated “date time” on a regular basis is something we could probably work on and this is a great idea for one type of date night!

I would love to hear what fun articles you found this week, so leave a link to one below! Or from an article from your blog from this week! I would love to hear from you and check out what you think and like!

Sara (1)

 

DIY Macro Photography Studio: An Easy Tool to Improve your Photos!

Are you working on your photography skills? I know that I am constantly trying to learn and improve on my skills in this area. I still have a long long way to go, but I do think I’ve been doing a bit better. One thing I realized I needed was a portable neutral background for photographing smaller objects. So I found this DIY Macro Studio and decided to make one of my own!

Supplies needed:

  • large plastic white tablecloth
  • pop-up laundry bag
  • staples and stapler
  • 1 sheet of white poster board
  • scissors
  • marker

This project was really inexpensive and I already had the pop-up laundry bag at home.

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I started out by roughly tracing the sides of the pop-up laundry bag on the tablecloth. Keep the tablecloth folded over once to increase strength. You need to trace the top and both sides, totaling in 3 separate pieces.

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I then cut out all three sides, leaving the ends intact.

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Cut out all three sides on the pop-up that you are replacing with the plastic tablecloth. The laundry bag in this picture is upside down.

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Then insert the poster board and staple it into place, trimming down what you don’t need on the sides. Then staple the tablecloth to the sides and top of the laundry bag. I forgot to photograph this part, sorry. I will admit that I had a bit of difficulty getting this part down. I ended up stapling in the middle first and then working out towards the sides.

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And it’s done! I still need to work on some better exterior lighting, but I’m really happy with how this turned out. Especially for such an inexpensive project!


I think that this will allow me to really improve my macro photography! I’ve mostly used it for photographing my jewelry so far, but I can’t wait to use it on some other projects as well!

What do you use for your photography? Have you built any backgrounds or props that you love? I would love to hear about your experiences, so please leave a comment below! I’m always looking for new projects!

Sara (1)

November Recap, December Goals

I’m honestly a little disappointed as I write this. This month did not go as planned goal-wise. Not even a little. But, some months are like that. As much as I would love to be able to always say to you that I hit all my goals and everything went smoothly, that would be beyond unrealistic. In reality, this month was rough.

November Goals Recap:

  1. Continue working out 6 days a week using Kayla Itsines’ guide. This actually did happen for the most part! I missed a couple days of LISS, but considering that my “real” job is very active and physically demanding, I’m not too upset about that.
  2. Incorporate the “active” into my active rest day. Do a stretching or yoga session to work on flexibility and decrease stiffness. I managed this once 🙁 Not nearly as often as I wanted to. Part of this was some days that ended up being my rest day for the week were not planned to be rest days originally…part of it is me being lazy.
  3. Wake up on time to do my workout before work. This has been a pretty irregular thing for me so far, but I know that my day goes so much better when I do this! Nope, nope and more nope! This did not really happen at all. I still got up some days on time, but there were just as many days I did my workout after work. The only part I did a little better was that I mostly woke up late on LISS days, which are much easier to do when I get home from work than BBG days.
  4. Finish at least 3 DIY projects Well…I worked on this one, but didn’t actually finish. One project is finished, one is still ongoing and a couple got scrapped. I did get some work done on some glass fusion pendants too, but I don’t really count those as DIY…and they are waiting to be fused, so they aren’t done yet either.

As I said, I’m kinda disappointed with how my goals went this month. I could go into all sorts of excuses, but the truth is no matter what the reasons I didn’t stay on top of my goals this month. Hopefully December goes a little better in that respect!

I didn’t get much photography done this month either, but I did still manage to get some fun pictures! Here are some from this month:

December Goals:

  1. Continue with BBG, 6 days a week
  2. Try again to incorporate active rest days
  3. Finish 3 DIY projects
  4. Less TV time – especially while writing! I’ve been working to do this more anyways and have been doing better in the last couple weeks… but sometimes I try to multitask when just focusing on the task at hand and turning off the TV would be so much better!

That’s it for this month! How are your goals going? Any new ones for December?

October Recap, November Goals

October Goals Recap:

  1. Work out 6 days a week, even if I can’t restart BBG yet. -Complete! I am so happy I managed this one. This is still an ongoing goal, but this is a great start. Plus I didn’t even hurt myself! 
  2. Continue working on my photography, but with more focus. I would really like to build up my skills and create some stock-style photos for my blog. – I did pretty well with this one, but not great. I was hoping to work on this on a daily basis and didn’t quite manage that. I do think that I have been making progress with my photography skills!

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t take this picture. Boyfriend was nice enough to take some cooking “stock style” photos for me.

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The following photos were not taken by me, but are some of my favorites for this month. Boyfriend is wonderful and helped me get some photos that could be used for profile/general ones of me for the blog and other social media sites. I’m not a big fan of having my photograph taken, but I really like how these turned out!

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He played around with the camera settings for this one. I think it came out pretty neat and unexpected!

November Goals:

  1. Continue working out 6 days a week using Kayla Itsines’ guide.
  2. Incorporate the “active” into my active rest day. Do a stretching or yoga session to work on flexibility and decrease stiffness.
  3. Wake up on time to do my workout before work. This has been a pretty irregular thing for me so far, but I know that my day goes so much better when I do this!
  4. Finish at least 3 DIY projects

That’s it for this month’s recap and November’s goals! I’m excited to see what November brings!

How did your goals for October go? Any new goals for November?

September Favs, October Goals

September

To say that this month did not go as planned is a bit of an understatement. That being said, I am not really upset about that either.

I started off the month in good spirits, sure that I would be telling you I had made it 4 weeks through Kayla Itsines’ BBG. This did not even come close to happening! First my back, neck and shoulder locked up. Then, just as I got cleared to restart the program and was all excited about starting the next day, I sliced my finger open. Another ER visit, more stitches, and not being able to put pressure on my finger for at least another week, possibly longer.

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I am really pleased that I am still managing to work out some, both on the treadmill and with some BBG workouts (modified when needed). I do hope that I can restart this coming month though!

I can’t say that the above pic is a “fav” but it does represent something that matters to me. I am pretty proud of myself for not giving up or having a mental setback of sorts with this most recent injury. This is the third injury in a row and it honestly feels like my body has turned against me sometimes. But I know I can keep at it, do what workouts I can and I will get back on track! I just have to remember that this is a journey and that will include times where things don’t go as I would like.

And now that I’m done whining about my setbacks 😉 On to the September Favorites!

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I did pretty good about my second goal this month, which was to photograph something every day. I did take at least one photo most days!

October Goals

  1. Work out 6 days a week, even if I can’t restart BBG yet.
  2. Continue working on my photography, but with more focus. I would really like to build up my skills and create some stock-style photos for the blog.

How was your September? Did you reach the goals you set for yourself? Any goals for October?

August Favs, September Goals

Hey everyone! I’m pretty excited for this post 🙂 While I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked, I did get some ones that I was really happy with.

My goals for August went pretty well too! I didn’t do great on the regular meditation practice, but that was more the secondary goal for me. The big goal for me was sticking to Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and I did!

I will be posting a full review of the first month of the guide and how it went for me next week. I am actually a week behind, after a bit of a fall during my last LISS workout of week 2. It actually ended with a short trip to the ER and a head suture. I am the epitome of grace and not at all clumsy. I’m fine now, but I did take it a bit easy during my week 3 workouts. So I ended up redoing week 3 the following week and am just starting week 4.

Overall, I am viewing August as a success! While I didn’t do as well as I would have liked at adding mediation into my life on a regular basis, I am very proud of myself for keeping at the workout program. Especially after the head wound could have provided a very easy excuse. I can’t wait to see what September brings!

And now for some fun August pictures! You will actually be seeing more of these this coming month in a few posts, so enjoy the sneak peak!

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One of my first attempts at styling food photos.
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Playing with the settings on my camera
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Sometimes baking doesn’t go as planned!
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Go ISU! I love that I caught this picture at the local farmer’s market! Yes, that is Cy holding up the produce stand with a cucumber.
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Adventures in glass etching
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Adorable 11 month old mastiff at the farmers market! Isn’t she cute?!
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And of course, my own handsome mastiff mix. Love this pup!
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And speaking of adorable, this is the look I see frequently from the kitchen. She is just too cute (and so good at looking sad and dejected)!

September Goals

  1. Continuing the Bikini Body Guide. I am loving my workouts and how they make me feel. My biggest goal in relation to this is to do the workouts after I wake up before work, instead of after work. I have found that my day goes better and I sleep better with I do my workouts then.
  2. Take at least one photo every day. I really want to improve my photography skills and would love to work on it this month.

That’s it for me! Hope you enjoyed my August review and all the fun photos! Hopefully this next month will produce some even better ones!

What goals are you working on this month? Continuing some old ones or are they brand new?

June Favorites and July Goals

Hey everyone! Welcome to the first installment of ‘Favorites and Goals’! A few of the reasons I started this blog were to keep myself motivated and document life’s moments. In this new series, I’m going to post some of my favorite pictures from the previous month and lay out a few goals for the new month. In future posts for this series I will also add in how I did on the previous month’s goals. 🙂

Onward to my favorite pics from June!Read More