February in Review, March Goals

Ever have one of those months where nothing goes as planned? That was definitely February for me. It can be really rough to go through the month knowing you’re not making the progress you hoped you would.

I did get a lot done though, just not the things that I had planned on. I made a lot of progress on my jewelry and a few new DIY projects. I had a wonderful last couple weeks and I’m really looking forward to seeing how March goes!

February Goals

  • Keep working at that morning routine – Up no later than 6:30 all days except Saturday (This will start once my back is feeling better…my neck hurts too much to work out for at least a few hours after waking up. Hopefully next week.)

This did not happen. But it was not for lack of trying. As I said at the beginning of last month and in my fitness update, my back was hurting. Then I got sick. Then my back (but a different part!) was hurting again. Then I got sick again, but worse. Yeah…the first 1/2 of February was not very nice to me. But now I’m doing better and I am getting up on time, so yay!!

  • Keep active 6 days a week – Until my back heals up, LISS. After that, it’s back to Kayla Itsines’ BBG for round 2!

Yeah…for the same reasons as above, it was pretty much LISS for most of the month. But I am now starting Week 2 of my second round of BBG and so happy for it! (Very, very sore…but happy!) I didn’t make it 6 days a week when I was sick, but I did push myself to be as active as possible.

  • Spend at least 30 minutes a day working on either the blog or my art.

Yes! I actually manage to do this almost entirely. I’m sure I missed a day or two, but for the most part I have actually done very well on this one!

Favorite Pictures from February

March Goals

  1. Keep working towards establishing that morning routine! – I’ve done okay this last week, but I really need to make it through at least a whole month. I know I feel better when I get up early, get my workout in (with time to warm up and stretch) and get ready at an easy pace. I just need to stay focused on those positives and make sure I get to bed at a decent time!
  2. Add yoga into routine at least 3 days a week – During workouts and yoga is about the only time right now that my mind quiets down. I think this will help my productivity and overall mental state
  3. Add guided meditation to routine at least 3 days a week – This goes along with my second goal and I think will achieve the same ends. Plus it’s just a good practice anyways.

That’s it for this month! Do you set goals for yourself each month? How do you deal if the month doesn’t go as planned? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to start setting goals but aren’t sure how to go about it? Check out my Top 5 Planning Tips!

 

Weekly food prep

Sunday Meal Prep: February 21, 2016

Hey everyone! This week’s meal prep is all about keepin’ things simple πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

Meal Prep

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Our main meals
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
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!

SausagePepperCabbage

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!

Blog link up

Friday Favorites: February 19, 2016

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful week πŸ™‚

I’m really excited to share these links with you..I found quite a few that look really great! But first: I started my 365 Photography Project! This is my favorite picture from this week (today actually)

The photo prompt for today was “Cover.” Now, you might be wondering why I photographed an old notebook. Well…this notebook is actually one of my most prized possessions. It is a recipe book, handwritten by my mom. It was started in 1993 and has every recipe she cooked that I liked, from then (age 5) to when I moved out right before I turned 17! It’s pretty amazing and I absolutely love it. I actually plan on doing the same thing when I have kids. Just looking at it makes me smile, makes me feel loved.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Day 4 – “Cover”

And now, on to the awesome links from this week! Enjoy!

Recipes
Cabbage Ginger Noodles from Naturally Ella – I have just recently started cooking with fresh ginger and I love it! I can’t wait to try this!
Lemony Soup with White Beans, Kale and Pasta from A Cup of Jo – This sounds delicious! And I have to agree with her…I love any soup with beans πŸ™‚
Pineapple Coconut Smoothie from The Iron You – This smoothie makes me wish for summer. I really want to try this one! I have never used pineapple or coconut in my smoothies, so I’m looking forward to trying something new!

Home and Decor
Water Gardens from Robinne Weiss – Their water garden turned out wonderful!
LZM Home: Photo Wall Collages from Le Zoe Musings – I love how they pulled the two collages together! We have a lot of empty walls in our home that I’m currently trying to pull together and would love if ours turned out this nice!
A New Home (And a New Bed) from A Cup of Jo – Can I just say how much I love her style!? While we are not currently looking at getting a new bed, I never thought to order one online. I will have to keep that in mind when we do look at getting a new mattress πŸ™‚

Art and DIY

Creations, Magnolia & Cotton Wreath from The Painted Apron – I love making wreaths, but I haven’t made one of this style before. I love how she breaks down how she put it together and it looks beautiful!

The Problem Of a Creative Creature from The Richness of a Simple Life – The search for creative outlets in life can be difficult and I love Niki’s take on it!
DIY Diamond Shaped Book Shelves from A Beautiful Mess – I absolutely love this bookcase! I have wanted built-ins pretty much forever, but there is no way that we can put those in here. These though?! These we could do! Would it be overkill to put these in two rooms? Cause I kinda want to πŸ™‚
Take a Seat: How to Make a Budget-Friendly Bench in Under an Hour from Paper & Stitch – So cute! And I love the idea of using a carpet piece on part of the bench!

Fitness

Top 10 Fitness Bloggers to Follow from Semi-Sweet Tooth – A couple of these I’ve heard of, but most are brand new to me and sound great! I’m looking forward to checking them out more!
Health & Fitness: Splurge & Save from The Fitnessista – Love this list! I pretty much agree with everything on here. πŸ™‚

Life and Family

You Don’t See My Sad – That Doesn’t Make My Happy Fake from This House Is Our Home – I really love this! I have always been bothered by the idea that someone is being “fake” by only showing the positive or not getting involved in hot topic debates online. I hate getting into those things and I am definitely not going to complain about my less-happy stuff online. Anna does a great job talking about this!

Blogging and Business
A Color Story Filters: Shifting Colors from A Beautiful Mess – I’m still learning a lot about photography and photo editing, so this was a great read!

Have a great weekend!

Sara (1)

Fitness Mini-Update

It’s been one month since I finished Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide! Sadly, I can’t tell you that I’ve been doing much since then πŸ˜• My body seems to have turned on me (again). It does that a lot, doesn’t it?

That is not saying I haven’t been able to work out some…it’s just been limited to mostly treadmill and exercises they gave me in Physical Therapy.

Setbacks can be difficult to deal with. I know I’ve had some ups and downs over the last month. Times where I felt like I was never going to get back into my fitness routine. Heck, there were times it felt like I was never going to feel well again at all!

Of course, that was (mostly) in my head! I am feeling better now, though I have come to the realization that the PT exercises for my back have to become a part of my daily life.

I am hoping to start BBG1 round 2 next week and can’t wait to get going again…hopefully with less injuries this time! πŸ˜€

How have your workouts been going? Have you been struggling this winter with your routine or had any setbacks? How have you dealt with them? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sara (1)

29th Birthday

Life Lessons: The 29 Things I’ve Learned in 29 Years

image

It’s my birthday! I might be freaking out a little! But…honestly not as much as I thought I would be. πŸ™‚

Ok, this is something I’ve actually given a lot of thought to the past month or so. I turn 29 today….I think back to when I was 20 and what I thought life would be like in 9 years and this isn’t it. In fact, it’s not even close.

That’s not a complaint. I love my life! My family, Draz, my dogs, my home, this blog and all of the awesomeness related to that and so much more! Instead, it’s more of a realization that life takes some crazy and unexpected turns. Twists and turns that put me in a wonderful place in life that I could never have imagined at 20!

I’ve learned a lot along the way and still have so much left to learn! But here are 29 things that I have learned so far! So serious, so not quite so, and in no particular order, but I hope you enjoy all of them πŸ™‚

29 Life Lessons I’ve Learned So Far

  1. I don’t know what it means to actually feel like an adult. I’m still waiting for that one.
  2. Parents are people too and pretty awesome to hang out with!
  3. No one actually has life all figured out.
  4. Not everyone will like you or needs to…and you don’t have to understand why.
  5. Be present for the moments of everyday life. It’s amazing.
  6. Reach out to those that you care about, even if you’ve lost touch.
  7. Drive slower!
  8. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.
  9. You can like who you are while still trying to improve yourself.
  10. Push your comfort zone!
  11. Don’t expect life to follow your plan.
  12. BeΒ unapologetically you – be honest about who you are and what you enjoy in life.
  13. Try to put a positive “spin” on things when you are having a bad day/interaction/moment/whatever.
  14. Be silly!
  15. Take care of your body – it’s worth the time.
  16. Take care of your mental health too – it’s just as important as your physical health.
  17. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
  18. Find things you truly enjoy instead of things that just fill time.
  19. The best dates and/or moments don’t have to cost much, if anything.
  20. Quality over quantity – applies to much of life!
  21. Don’t procrastinate – it NEVER helps.
  22. Be spontaneous (at least occasionally).
  23. Smile often.
  24. Be kind to others, even when you don’t feel like it.
  25. Make sure you sleep enough.
  26. Try new things often!
  27. Give yourself a break – you can’t do everything.
  28. Always make goals and strive towards meeting them.
  29. Cut the negative thoughts and self-talk.

So that’s some of the things I’ve learned over the years. So aren’t surprising and a few took me a long time to learn. Some I still have to remind myself of. But either way, I am so excited to see how this year goes! I think that 29 is going to be an amazing and transformative year for me! (And I am so excited to share it with all of you!)

What are some of the things that you have learned over the years that have surprised you or been harder to learn? I would love to hear your thoughts!

And don’t forget that the Jewelry Giveaway ends today at 8 pm CT, so if you haven’t entered yet, hop over and get your entry in!

Giveaway

Sara (1)

 

Weekly Food Prep

Sunday Meal Prep: February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I am super excited to share this week’s meal prep with you!

You ever have those weeks where you are trying to plan out your prep and it just isn’t coming to you? That was me planning out this week. But in the end it all fell together! It didn’t take me as long to cook as some weeks, but that definitely doesn’t mean it was lacking in taste!

Enjoy!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

 

As you can see, we have more Island Pulled Pork for this week. Draz seems to be on a new kick! πŸ˜› Along with that, we have one old favorite, one that we’ve had once and a new recipe as well!

I am always happy when we add Jambalaya on to the menu. It’s been one of my favorites for over 10 years! The repeat recipe was Slowcooker Beef and Broccoli and I love how this one turned out πŸ™‚ I do think I used a different cut of beef than last time though. It didn’t fall apart in quite the same way that it did the first time I made it. But that doesn’t really matter, because either way it was really tasty!

This Tortellini Chicken Noodle Soup was delicious! The one thing that I will say is that I wish I would have increased the broth some…It ended up a little thicker than I would prefer for soup. But it was still wonderful and I love the addition of the tortellini!

Not pictured: my grapes and cheese snacks and one batch of our breakfast burritos.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
A little peak behind the scenes…my photography “helper”!

Jambalaya

How was your prep this week? Do you ever have difficulty picking meals when planning out your prep? What do you do if/when you do? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Also, don’t forget that the Jewelry Giveaway ends on Tuesday! So if you haven’t entered yet, head over and let me know which one you want!

Giveaway

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!

metal sculpture ames iowa

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! πŸ™‚ Enjoy!

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
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 πŸ™‚

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)

 

sunrise over lake

January in Review, February Goals

January Goals

  1. Start establishing a morning routine – Ummm….50/50? I kept making progress with this and then my back injury acting up again plus getting sick, setting me back again
  2. Start at least one art project – Does my jewelry count? I did not start on mosaic like I had hoped to, but I got quite a few pieces of jewelry made! I’m also starting to feel a little more comfortable with my wire wrapping, though I still have a LONG way to go in that department!
  3. Active rest days – 50/50 success. During the time periods I was working out I did manage active rest days, but when I was sick and injured every day kinda became a rest day (outside of physical therapy exercises)
  4. Less TV time, especially while writing! – Again, 50/50 success. I did okay with this at the beginning of the month. Not so much the second half of the month.

January FavoritesΒ 

You guys have to be getting sick of seeing the same photos over an over…can you tell I was a little focused on my jewelry this month?! I promise that I will be working on my photography in more areas in February, so it will not be the same jewelry again. Also, I am working on some new pieces, so it will be new jewelry too! πŸ™‚

I really am excited to be able to share these with you though. I’ve been dreaming of being able to make new pieces for months and now I finally can! I would love to hear your thoughts on the jewelry I’ve shared so far. Are there any styles or pieces that you really like or dislike?

February Goals

  1. Keep working at that morning routine – Up no later than 6:30 all days except Saturday (This will start once my back is feeling better…my neck hurts too much to work out for at least a few hours after waking up. Hopefully next week.)
  2. Keep active 6 days a week – Until my back heals up, LISS. After that, it’s back to Kayla Itsines’ BBG for round 2!
  3. Spend at least 30 minutes a day working on either the blog or my art.

How did your goals for the first month of 2016 go? Are you setting goals for February? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

weekly food prep

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 πŸ™‚

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.Β 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 πŸ˜› 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 πŸ™‚

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!

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.Β 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!Β 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)