Meal Planning and Prep (I finally made it work)

I’ve been trying to do meal planning since we got married (7 years almost) and I can never make it work for US. Add in a toddler with sensory issues… I felt pretty hopeless.

 

This month has brought a lot of changes for us, and one of those is what and how we eat. With the mindset of “Intentional”, we began looking for ways to make it WORK FOR US.

The first thing that REALLY helped was checking out Your Ideal Form and signing up for their FREE recipes and Tips for Meal Prep.

Then we decided what WOULD and would NOT work for us.

Leftovers don’t happen in our house. They just die, slowly and sadly. So, we decided on meals that can be repurposed on Day 2 or frozen for a later time. (somehow it feels less like leftovers if I pull it out of the freezer the following week and cook it in the oven)

Start small

“Take chewable bites” is my new mantra when it comes to tackling things I want to do at work (and in life). So we decided for our trial run to only prep for 2 weeks. We chose 3 meals that would have enough for 2 meals each and the leftovers could be frozen or repurposed (ex: the beef I am making tonight can be made into sandwiches tomorrow or frozen).

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Since we choose to stick with one vehicle (#SummerOfSneakers) we decided to check out some Grocery Delivery options. This worked extremely well this time around because it was much easier for me to see exactly what I was getting and ensuring that each item had a purpose in a meal for the next week or so. No random add-ons or sale items that rot or sit in the cupboard forever. I was also able to make my list and then come back and add things throughout the day, then I submitted it when I felt I had remembered everything (ex: Toilet paper, dish soap, and portion bags)  It also helped me see a realistic dollar amount as I shopped, so I knew I wasn’t blowing the budget out of the water. Not to mention it was kind of nice to not have to search the aisles in the middle of the night with a toddler in tow 🙂

While there were several options for Grocery Delivery in our area, I chose Amazon Fresh. We already have a Prime Membership, so it is only an additional $14.99 a month and we received the first month FREE (whereas Wal-Mart was a $9.99 fee per delivery).

I chose my delivery window and they left them outside the door (I couldn’t tell if they knocked, between the puppy and the toddler running around)

 

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Everything arrived FRESH and COLD. I was able to start some prep right away, but I saved most of it until Kiddo had gotten on the bus for PPCD.

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I started dinner in the Crock Pot (by the way – all three recipes I chose are cooked in the crockpot and I love using my crockpot to reheat those frozen leftovers) and then began to wash, chop, and portion out veggies. I didn’t buy fruit this way because it was much more expensive. I will buy fruit and milk as needed when it is on sale. I used the portion bags and containers (that I was also able to buy on-line grocery shopping) to make grab-n-go snacks.

We live in a “get it quick” society. If I am going to make eating healthy work for us, fruits and veggies cannot be in a bag needing to be prepped. So I did all that work today and we have easy access to healthy options all week.

I made sure to use snack size bags, the less in each bag the more likely I am to grab a variety and actually finish it without wasting any.

ABEA89DA-D57E-496B-A630-6972C6295A30The last thing I did was to combine ingredients for the second recipe and place them in a ziplock bag in the freezer (putting the non-cold items in a special cupboard) The third recipe was all already frozen or pantry items, so no prep is needed there until the morning of. Tomorrow I will prep the salads for lunches (I forgot to get the bowls and dressing at work) I choose a simple chicken ceasar salad using the frozen grilled chicken strips for less work.

 

 

 

A few tips I learned along the way:

  • Plan recipes you know you like or will want to eat
  • Base your shopping on those recipes and one or two lunches that you can prep in bulk and snacks that will be easy to grab.
  • Shop On-line
  • Plan a prep time that you will not be interrupted by the kids
  • Do the dishes and take out the trash the night before (you will have enough of both those things after all this is done)
  • Invest in a good knife and cutting board (and crockpot)
  • Have portioning bags/containers and gallon size freezer bags
  • Plan your Work, Work you Plan
  • If it doesn’t work, change one thing

 

 

 

I am really excited to taste these recipes and to see if it works out as amazing as I think it is going to *cross fingers*

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Book Review – Lemons are a Girls Best Friend by Janet Hayward

Happy Friyay everyone! I hope you are as ready for the weekend as I am (even though I have to work, I am excited to spend some QT with the kiddo and see friends since the rain is finally gone away) We had a pretty busy week, but I was able to get in some time for myself. I had lunch at Coco’s Tea Room on Thursday (amazing!) and then we walked around the Antique Mall. Today I wore my favorite shade of Pink (makes any day better) and took the dog and kid to the park ( because I needed a work break since I was doing the second half of my day from home)

 

I also received my next book to review in the mail this week! “Lemons are a Girl’s Best Friend” by Janet Hayward talks to us about 30 different superfoods, giving a description of the food’s benefits and then two recipes for each superfood, one for the inside and one for the outside. This book could not have come at a more perfect time for me. I have been slowly detoxifying my beauty routine and using learning how to use foods, herbs, and natural things is just what I needed. I also was inspired by Vegains Food to start eating more colorfully so the “Inside” recipes are amazing places to begin. I am excited to try each of the recipes. This book makes a great gift and is a must-have for my Book Shelf.

 

 

 

 

 

**I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review**

Book Giveaway – Gospel Centered Mom

February is that limbo between Winter and Spring. In Texas, the weather cannot make up its mind one day to the next. While we continue to fight off a cough and the dreary weather, I decided to make some Hot Cocoa on this lazy Sunday afternoon. Epicurious has the perfect recipe for a single cup of happiness.

 

 

 

I feel like I haven’t done much these last few days. Adjusting to a puppy feels a lot like having a 1 year old in the house (potty training x2)

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With the word “Intentional” being my mantra for 2018, I’ve made some amazing choices and progress in areas that I always used to “wish” about. One of the things I said I wanted to change was my Beauty Routine. Normally I would think it was too much of a task to return to natural and non-toxic products. This time I took it one step at a time and did what I could when I could. I am now about 95% of the way there! The key is to continue to go in the direction I started. One of the things I did was to purchase some mascara from Root Pretty. A friend of mine was one of their models in 2017 and I kept “wishing” I could buy such wonderful make up products. Then I  JUST DID IT. The prices compare to Sephora and I am way happier with my choice. I also received a sample that I am beyond excited to try. 28276113_10215144635630236_680301918_o

Being a Mom is exhausting and scary, even after all this time. What do kids REALLY need? Do I have what it takes? How do I handle this situation? I feel alone.

You are not alone. Brooke McGlothlin wrote an amazing book to help you through this season. “Gospel Centered Mom” The Freeing Truth about what Your Kids Really Need is a great addition to every mom’s libary. In this book she will help you embrace your moment-by moment need for Jesus, help you to release the stress of believing everythin is your reponsibility, learn to fight FOR rather than AGAINST your child, believe that the story God is writing with your life is worth the sacrifice, practice the daily disciplines that lead to Gospel-centered parenting.

At the end of each chapeter is a Hard Truth and a Beautiful Truth to help you focus what you have read and learned.

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I am currently doing a GIVEAWAY on my Instagram for this book!

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great week!

~Stacie

Welcome Koda – Our Newest Addition to the Family

It’s FriYaY!

I hope that your week was as crazy adventurous as mine (minus a bit of the emotional stuff, but I blame that on the Super Blood Moon Eclipse) I have been working really hard to live “Intentionally”, but it proving to be more difficult than expected. People and circumstances are unpredictable and often discouraging. I don’t do well when people cancel plans or things do not work out the way they are supposed to. That is part of why I just DON’T do things. Today I was about to cancel plans with someone because I assumed they would not want to after someone else canceled in the group. Come to find out they felt the same way. We were both afraid the other person wouldn’t want to do something and assumed instead of being open and expecting a good turn of events. Now we have a great day planned and I am stoked for some Friend Time!

 

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Every Thursday I am doing a Journal Prompt on Instagram. This week’s was very appropriate to what I am dealing with right now. I self-sabotage my Friend Time by assuming they have plans or will cancel or don’t really want to spend time with me… and I miss out! I need to stop those negative thoughts and words and replace them with intentional words and thoughts that will bring me to a place of being able to spend quality time with people and invest into relationships and myself.

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Another place in my life I am being more intentional is in my Dating Life (yes, I am still married). When we were first married we made it a point to have Date Night no matter how busy or poor we were. Somewhere in the midst of moving, Careers, job changes, car accidents, kiddo with ASD, and new puppy we have forgotten about Dating. (yes, I threw the new puppy there in the middle of a sentence) Now I plan one Date Night a month on the calendar (and get a sitter in advance) and we have a lunch date once a week when Kiddo is in school and we are both off from work (if the stars aline once a week that is).

 

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Today we went to Brunch at “First Watch”. It was amazing! That bacon was caramelized in Maple Syrup, brown sugar, and cayenne. I have honestly never felt so good after indulging in pancakes. I think this will be my new favorite brunch spot.

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And the moment you’ve been waiting for… meet Koda! ❤ He is Labmix and Great Pyrenees. 6 weeks old. These two are already best friends. Our goal is for Koda to become Kiddo’s Service Dog.

 

I hope you have a Great Weekend!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living a Life of Intention

I walked into 2018 with the word “Intentional” on my mind. I wanted to begin living more intentionally, doing things more intentionally. Make things happen!

How often have you told that friend, “We should get together”, but never do? How many times have you told yourself you were going to eat better and go to the gym, but never made it past day 2? When is the last time you took half a day and dedicated it to self care and unplugged?

I know. That was my reaction, too.

I know I cannot change my world in one day, but I also know that small changes lead to bigger ones and the good changes do not happen by accident. Those type of changes take intention and hard work.

I began by putting things on the calendar that I wanted to MAKE happen.

  • Date Night
  • Me Time
  • Ladies Night
  • Journaling, Blogging, Writing Time
  • Lunch or Dinner Dates with Friends
  • Family Days

Guess what? 95% of those things HAPPENED! (I was sick one of the times)

It feels so good!

So far I have:

  • Opened a new bank account
  • Had lunch dates
  • Went on multiple dates with my spouse *gasp*
  • Had quiet time to myself to recharge and pour into my hobbies
  • Created an account with Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Took a beginners Fencing Class
  • Went to the gym and on some good walks
  • Stuck to my eating plan (for the most part)
  • Made an Eye Doctor Appointment
  • Had a Game Night with friends

 

I have been on an emotional roller-coaster these past few weeks, but it feels amazing to DO the things I’ve WISHED for so long to have to the time to do.

 

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Something else that I have started is “Journal Prompt Thursday” over on my Instagram

 

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Come join me on Instagram: Looking Through Blue Eyes and dig deeper this year through Purposeful Journaling and Intentional Living!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Happy 2018~

Thrifting 101

I LOVE Thrift Stores. I have been thrifting… forever. Now don’t get me wrong, when I was 12 and had to wear the 2nd hand jeans my mom picked out, I didn’t think it was so cool. As an adult I have found the joy and the benefit of Thrift Stores.

In college I remember spending $100 at a store in the mall one day on clothes, shoes jewelry, etc. I was a little shocked at the tally, but I had gotten A LOT of stuff. Unfortunately it was poor quality and didn’t fit well or look all that good (I’m sure I wore most of it anyway) I made the same mistake the first few years of Thrifting. I would buy stuff because it was cheap or “my size” and in a few months it was back in the Thrift Store (because I  donated it back) or torn and in the trash.

Today I want to share with you my list of “DO’s” and “Don’ts” of Thrifting and details about my trip I took today.

 

 

DO:

  • Make a Plan!
    • Know where you are going, when, for how long, with who, etc. Winging it will not get you the most for you time and money and you will probably end up wasting more time than if you planned it.
  • Know the Store/Sales
    • Know which days, times, locations, etc which stores have sales. Make sure you understand the restrictions and details (color tags, limits, etc)
  • Get there EARLY!
    • I usually get there about 10-15 min before the store opens on the day of the $.99 tags sale. I don’t want to wait too long outside with an active toddler, but I know that within that first hour most of the good stuff is GONE!
  • Dress comfy
    • You’re not going to the Mall, you don’t need makeup or heals. I usually wear leggings or sweat pants (easy to get in and out of when trying on pants) slip on shoes with thin socks (try on shoes in a flash) and a tank top with my favorite bra (so I can try on sweaters and shirts without having to go into the dressing room). I also usually bring a purse with a longer strap that I can cross over my body so I don’t have to worry about it.
  • Know your limit (and your kid’s/spouse’s/friend’s limit)
    • If you (or the person you’re with) gets tired or grumpy in an hour or two, then halfway into that time stop browsing and start trying on and deciding what you want. My trip today was and hour and a half and it was perfect. I got exactly what I wanted. I wasn’t burnt out on searching and kiddo wasn’t to the point of screaming at the top of his lungs…yet.
  • Have a Budget
    • If I did not have a budget today (and I have done this before) I would have bought at least 6 things that were not flattering and or I would have never worn. A budget keeps your choices in check and also stops you from regretting half of you purchases.

 

DON’T

  • Go in WITHOUT a Plan
    • Again, planning will make it a much better experience and you will have more yield for your time and money.
  • Think that you kids will not get bored
    • I brought the Tablet, charged and loaded with games and movies, so that kiddo would have a distraction. It made my time more enjoyable and effective.
  • Get on your phone
    • Silence that thing! If you get distracted by a phone call or text, you will miss out or loose focus.
  • Get distracted by items that are NOT on sale
    • If you want to browse for pretty things, pick a different day and plan to do that with a different budget. SALE DAY is about that specific color TAG and they go fast, so you do too! While you’re flipping through racks looking for that sale color tag, if something REALLY catches your eye throw it in the cart and keep moving. Come back to it later.
  • Fall into the Name Brand trap
    • Just because it is a great Name Brand or in your Size DOES NOT mean you HAVE to get it. If it is going to just take up space in your closet or you are going to be uncomfortable every time you wear it, it isn’t even worth a dollar.
  • Slow Down
    • Pickers (as I like to call them) move fast and often in groups. They are going to have the entire store picked over in about an hour. So you have to move quickly and with purpose. Plan ahead which sections you want to look over and in what order (because that might be the difference in finding something or not). Today I choose to go: Sweaters, purses, jeans, tops, workout gear. Shoes are very scattered at this store so I don’t really focus on them (although I found an amazing pair today by happenstance).

 

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My typical routine once I get in and have my budget and plan is to go section by section (according to what I want to find that trip) and very quickly look through the racks for sale color tags. I then grab any items that are my size and look like something I might wear ( I’m not extremely picky at this point) I continue through the store until I have a very full cart and have looked in my top 4 or 5 sections. If I am not finding a lot of sale tags in a section I will often move on, it may have already been picked over and I don’t want to loose momentum or hope. Next, I find a quiet spot and sort through my findings. This is where I take the time to think “is this my color, my style, will it go with anything else I own, when would I wear this?”. I often try to do this near a full length mirror somewhere in the store. I try on any shirts, jackets, sweaters, purses, shoes, etc (remember I am wearing my favorite bra and a tank top) I do this because Thrift Stores often have very small Dressing Rooms with very small limits (like 6 items). Then I hang up anything I am not IN LOVE with and take the items I definitely want off the hanger and put back into the cart. ( If you don’t love it, you probably aren’t going to wear it enough for it to be worth the space in your closet) Then I go into a fitting room and try on any pants or skirts. Make sure to rotate and check for spots or tears. Lastly, go through one more time and make sure every item you choose it worth its weight in your “limit” or “budget”. (BTW setting a low budget means you will probably come home with better stuff. I usually set it to $10 or 10 items)

 

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I cannot get over how in love I am with every piece I came home with today. I want to walk you through them each real quickly.

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The first shirt was a brand I didn’t recognize. It was good quality and extremely comfy and grey goes with everything. Second shirt was The Limited, very classy for a meeting or night out. Third was Coldwater Creek. Perfect for Texas’ midl fall days.

 

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The bag I picked up was Jessica Simpson. It doesn’t fit my laptop but is perfect for all my other work stuff.

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Cable Knit sweaters are IN and I found a bunch of them that were so adorable, but they just didn’t look stunning on me. This one is bound to be my favorite winter item (Bar III). The blue Ann Taylor sweater is great for work. The Phat Farm sweatshirt still had the tags on it. Someone paid $69 so I could have it for $0.99!

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These jeans cost me a buck, but they make me feel like a million $$$. 7jeans brand ($70 new) Then this Eddie Bauer workout shirt is actually nice enough to wear with a pair of jeans and not look too mom-ish 😉

 

Last, but not least. My Nine West find ❤

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There you have it! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about how I shop and that your next Thrifting Adventure is as successful as mine was. I would love to hear about great finds you have made, share them below!

Closet turned Office

After 2 weeks of being laid up and not working or doing much of anything I had the urge to organize today (let’s hope I don’t regret it soon)

I ended up cleaning and organizing the Laundry Room (it is the size of a closet) that I had made into an Office a few months ago, but unfortunately it had become a collect all 😦 and there was nothing productive happening in there. (I don’t have a before picture, sadly)

I thought I would share with you what my home (apartment) looks like on a good day:22641842_10214082175429395_712139503_o

This is our living room, some sun still shines through the hand print plastered sliding doors. The futon next to the porch folds up to a couch and even has cup holders. The chair in the back corner has freshly cleaned toddler pee and marker stains under that blanket.22546698_10214082176429420_1293752484_o

The other side of the living room is my husband’s office and our wall mounted TV so that a certain someone doesn’t knock it over onto himself (that could be very dangerous and honestly if you have small children get a good wall mount so they don’t climb the TV stand and knock it over onto themselves)

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I paid $0.99 for that clock and no it does not work, but I love how it looks! Our cables are all zipped up with cable keepers, another way to stop the tornado from dangerous stuff.

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Kitchen! In the far back corner behind like 3 other things is a jar with all the sharp objects (he has gotten into them once, but not since) and everything valuable, dangerous, or breakable is in a top cupboard (because he can open all the child safety locks I put on all lower cupboards 😦

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Note beautiful flowers from Hubby (and yes that is an elephant holding random tiny dishes while they dry)

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Dining Room. Behind those bi-fold doors is what would normally be a laundry room (closet)22556022_10214082177069436_1011399477_o22556001_10214082175229390_1630685565_o

My favorite part is that I can close the doors and forget about whatever is in there when I need to, and when I am in there it is almost like being in another room, but I can still see and hear the kiddo. I also love that the locks I installed are up so high he cannot reach them even by standing on a chair so my stuff is safe… ish.

Inside I have my books, journal, board games, paperwork, work stuff, craft stuff, essential oils, electronics, our embarrassingly large for 2017 DVD collection… and there is a power outlet for my laptop and if I want to put a lamp or diffuser in there 😀

Down the hallway and in the rooms are some of my favorite wall art… all free or under a dollar at thrift stores.

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Kiddo’s bathroom (vinyl letters on the wall that remove with no residue or marks) and the only way that I can make the house look like this and have time to sit down and blog… passed out while playing on the tablet.

Toys are locked away in the closet, he asks to go in and can pick out a few toys or buckets at a time (makes life less overwhelming for everyone) I swear he has more books than any other kid. All of these are for at least 5 years from now.

Master Bath has some sweet little wall storage places (since we don’t have a cupboard or shelves in there) The clear drawers are one of my favorite (Amazon)

 

That messy picture is a folding card table with all the stuff I am sorting out for donations and doing laundry (the never ending task). I really try to clear out clutter and things I don’t use or need at the start of every season. Project 333 is my minimalist go to (I am far from a minimalist, but her way of thinking and living help me stay humble and sane…ish)

The photos and art on our bedroom wall are so special to me. I even framed a letter my husband wrote me while we were dating. The Daisy is by Sarah Ann Photography

The shelf above my dresser has specific items representing each of us and then us as a whole.

Curtains… I know they don’t match (not much in my house does) but they are amazing! One is shear and lets the light in and the other is a black out curtain. Both are a MUST if you live in an apartment complex and your bedroom window faces the parking lot on the first floor.

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Last but not least, Master Closet… where laundry goes to die. It is usually quite organized (or at least somewhat organized) this last week we had to get laundry done (at the laundry mat) and I could not lift or bend. So here are all the clean clothes until further notice 😉

 

I hope you enjoyed the humorous tour and were inspired by the Closet Office. Check out my previous post, Closet Nursery, and see how I turned our Laundry Room (Closet) into a nursery for kiddo when he was a newborn in our old apartment.

 

Have an amazing week!