Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dusting Off

Oh, my dear readers.

Today, I decided to dust off the ol' tennis shoes and go for a "run." I call it a "run" because I jogged. And I walked.

For the past month, Hubs has been working out with his colleagues before or after work three to four times a week. As his waistline trimmed, I felt more and more L-A-Z-Y.

It felt so nice to get to the gym and move. Because fellow Minnesotans know that workouts weren't happening outdoors today. Or yesterday. Or Sunday. And it won't be happening tomorrow, either. Lovely spring, right?

I digress.

It felt wonderful to sweat and feel my feet hit the ... uh, treadmill.

But it felt gross, too. Every move made me realize how long it has been since I've exercised like that. Sure, I've gone on walk after walk. After walk after walk. And Kid loves them. But an actual workout? Sweat in five minutes, out-of-breath workout?

I ran a 5K shortly before Hubs and I found out we were expecting Kid. That was the last time.

That was a long time ago. Kid is one. It has almost been two years.

It felt so good. It felt so awful.

I can't wait to go back tomorrow. I'm going back, and I have goals. That's right folks, goals.

As I stand right now, I am 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. So close! I'm also 20 pounds away from my end-of-pregnancy weight. Unfortunately, it is much easier to climb back up the weight scale that it is for the numbers to fall...

But, in all seriousness, how does it all get done? I could go for some advice, because I have trouble fitting it all in. How do you work, exercise, and continue to nurture your relationship (and not fall asleep super early every night)?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

::Dinner Plans #15::

I’m feeling a bit more energized when it comes to meal planning. Which is good, because things were getting boring around here. Steam this veggie, pan fry that piece of meat.

Now that the weather is finally starting to turn toward spring, the grill has been dusted off and needs to be used more and more (and more, and more!). I’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking for new recipes, and a few make-ahead meals for those busy nights.

This week won’t be too busy, as far as after school plans go, so I wasn’t too concerned with the make-ahead meals this time around. Plus, I just don’t know if I’m organized enough to have all of the ingredients ready. I’m kind of thinking about trying a few make-ahead recipes during the first few weeks of the summer. Hopefully then, I can be organized enough to get some meals in the freezer for the fall. Big plans, I know.
Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the meal plan, chock full of new-to-me recipes.

Sunday: Birthday Dinner at my grandma’s house. Can’t wait to see all the relatives again. It has been a long time since seeing everyone!

Monday: Breakfast Bowls (for dinner, I know). I plan to add some egg, because it really isn’t breakfast without eggs. Mondays are perfect for breakfast dinner because breakfast can be such a quick thing to cook. And Mondays are always tough.

Tuesday: Crock Pot Chicken Verde Lettuce Wraps (tacos, if you’re the hubs). Looks delicious. Yummy chicken. Thick slices of avocado. Cannot wait.

Wednesday: Green Bean Casserole. I’m really excited to try the paleo version of this comfort food. It is definitely one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, so hopefully it is delicious!

Friday: Date Night!

Saturday: Seared Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms & Onions. I can’t do a new recipe every night! That would make the week way more stressful than necessary.

There you have it. A meal plan I’m actually excited about. It has been awhile since I’ve been excited about cooking/meal planning/grocery shopping. Okay. That’s a lie. I always get excited about grocery shopping, so I can search for deals and more deals.

Jessica Lynn Writes

Linking up with Jessica Lynn Writes for This Week’s Eats.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Buying and Selling Online

Amazing deals can be found online. A lot of people post things for sale on Facebook and their blogs, but the go-to place is Craigslist.

The hubs and I have found some amazing deals on Craigslist. We’ve purchased a high chair, a changing table, the Chariot, and plenty of other items. We’ve also sold a handful of things, including our living room furniture that I hated. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?
(although, the furniture was not trashy; in fact, it was in wonderful condition!).

Buying and selling online can be easy-peasy, sort of scary, and/or just plain difficult. I have learned a few things in my day on how to best use Craigslist (in my day – I sound so old).

Tips for Selling on Craigslist

1.       Include a lot of description in your post. Take the time to measure the large item you’re selling (such as furniture!). This will eliminate a step because, more often than not, a potential buyer would like to know the dimensions.

2.       Like an enjoyable blog post, a good Craigslist ad includes a picture (or 4). A buyer will ask for one, anyway. I, for one, don’t look at posts that don’t contain images. I want to see the condition of the item I plan to buy. When I first started using Craigslist, I would look at any and all postings. One of my first messages to the seller asked for pictures. Including them from the start is the best plan.

Tips for Buying on Craigslist

1.       Look for the posts with pictures. Honestly, it is so easy for the seller to add photos to their post. Pictures show a buy exactly what is being sold. And, to give you a cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words.

2.       Attempt to meet the seller in a public place. I am a paranoid person. If I’m getting into my car late at night, I get in and lock the doors behind me. Paranoia at its finest. Meeting in a public place really is the safest route. That way, nobody has to go into anyone else’s home. Safety first.

3.       Along those same lines, let some else know when and where the transaction is taking place. I recently purchased a chair for Kid that clips on to a table. I called my mom when I arrived at the meeting place, and called her right back after I made the purchase and was safely in my car. Even better, though? Bring someone along. Safety first, my friends, safety first.

4.       Negotiate. Unless the posting says that the price is firm, it is usually possible to purchase an item for less than the asking price. In fact, I have never paid the asking price for something I’ve purchased on Craigslist. Sellers usually want to get rid of an item as soon as possible, anyway. So offer a price that it is a little less than what is listed. It never hurts to ask.
(can you spot how many clichés I just used?)

Jokes aside, though. Safety really is the most important then when buying or selling on Craigslist. If something about the transaction feels a little fishy, forget about it. A used item for sale on the internet isn’t that important, anyway.

Monday, April 21, 2014

::Dinner Plans #14::

Oh goodness gracious. I've done it again.

Forgotten to make plans. It's amazing how quickly the week goes, and the weekend flies by even faster! There has been so much going on these days - a lot of family gatherings with the Easter holiday.

I'm still feeling as though I'm in a rut as far as food goes. I make these fabulous plans for paleo meals, and then i fall off the paleo wagon. Paleo doesn't work how it is supposed to if you indulge in ice cream after dinner, and have a completely non-paleo breakfast and/or lunch. I'm thinking I need to plan out breakfasts and dinners as well. Does anyone else find paleo a bit difficult to follow in the extremely busy times?

Sunday: Easter dinner ... ham, asparagus, carrots, potatoes... Twice. That's right. We had Easter dinner two times. Once with my family. Once with the hubby's family.

Monday: Whole Roasted Chicken with "Faux-tatoes" and Broccoli. Mmm. It was delicious. This is probably one of my all time favorite meals. And, it is so deliciously easy!

Tuesday: Dinner on the run ... hubby will be out Tuesday night. Kiddo and I will be hanging out with Mootzie and Pa (my parents).

Wednesday: Chili-Lime Flank Steak and a nice salad. My husband gets sick of vegetables. Especially cooked vegetables. He's just not a fan. The other night, he came up to me and said, "You know, sometimes I just like a nice salad." Don't be surprised to see the "nice salad" pop up on the menu more and more frequently (especially since it's getting warmer out!).

Thursday: Damn Fine Chicken, from NomNomPaleo. Super easy go-to meal. I always have the ingredients for this meal around.

Friday: Grilled Venison Steaks with grilled asparagus. My local grocery store was selling asparagus for a dollar a pound. A dollar! I bought 2 pounds. I love asparagus. I wish we had the space to grow it.
Saturday: Date Night!, and I couldn't be more excited!

Jessica Lynn Writes

A Trip to the SPA!? And a T-shirt!?

Oh my goodness, today, I feel like a "real" blogger.
Okay, I've felt like a "real" blogger for awhile, but this is a new adventure for me!

Spring is officially here and what better way to shake off the remnants of winter than with a trip to the spa? I've teamed up with some of my friends and sponsors to bring you a giveaway for a $50 Spafinder gift card AND an adorable baseball tee from Enjoy Essential. Good Luck!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Beautiful Friday

Oh, sweet joy, was today a good day.
I'm kind of surprised I just typed that, because Kid was a pill and a half.

Both hubs and I had the day off from work today. We had big plans to organize the garage and do all of the laundry before the weekend, because Kid would be at daycare. Unfortunately, daycare was closed (and is closed on Monday, too). Instead, we did some light cleaning, and hung out with the baby (one year old). The main event was our first family bike ride.

Last year, we purchased a Chariot to fulfill our need for adventure. Okay, we're not super adventurous, but we like being outside and being active. And today was the perfect day to venture out with the kid and the dog.

So, we decided to see what the pup would do if we did some "bike-jouring" instead of skijouring. Of course, the hubs did quite a bit of work, as we didn't want to overwork Finn. He's a small dog. Pulling hubs, the Chariot, and the baby would be tough! That's a lot of weight to haul around. So, the hubby pedaled and biked the whole way. But Finn, oh my sweet Finn, loved it so much.

We felt like middle school kiddos as we biked to our local general store to buy a candy bar.
That we shared down by the lake.

Our stop at the general store was a necessary one. The pup was hot. He's funny. He doesn't get tired. He only needs a break when he gets hot. After a quick drink of water, he's back at it.

My little mister was not feeling the greatest (which is why he was a pill today). We were guessing ear infection, but his ears looked good at the doctor's office this evening. He also went to bed rather early this evening - we'll see how tomorrow goes.

Once we got to the lake, we let Kid explore to his little heart's desire. After a half hour, we had to be on our way, and Kid was not pleased. He could have stayed out there for hours and hours.

We then took the long way home, which was so much fun! Our neighborhood, and those surrounding, have a wonderful system of trails. While some may not be in the best condition, there are miles and miles of interconnected trails. In all ten miles of biking, we had to cross one road. We went under a few, but didn't even have to spend time riding next to the roads.

Today's day off was a wonderful one. It makes me excited for summer and more time to explore our neighborhood and enjoy the outdoors with our Nature Boy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What to do When it Snows in April

It happened again. We got a beautiful taste of the most amazing spring weather. The sun shone. The trees looked alive and happy. The birds visited our (4) feeders and chirped all the while.

And then it snowed. It snowed on and off all day long.

Our skis are packed away. The snowboards have their summer wax. My mittens are in hiding. Even my winter coat has gone down for its months-long nap.

  Get a coffee. Okay, okay, I don’t drink coffee. Instead, I got a hot chocolate with a shot of caramel. Ooh, so delicious! And it warms you right up! My mitten-less hands were happy as can be.

 Cozy up with a good book. This is my plan for later this evening (along with #3), once Kid is asleep. I have just the book, too. I’m currently reading The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Good book. I suggest you read it!

 Take a nice, warm bath. And the only way to do that is with a good book (see #2) and a bowl of Cheetos. Can’t go wrong with that. This is another one, though, that needs to be done when Kid is asleep. Otherwise, it just isn’t that peaceful.

 Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy the sun when it’s out.

Get outside! The laundry can wait until later!

Enjoy it, because you never know when it may snow in April. Or May.
Or even June!

Monday, April 14, 2014

::Dinner Plans #13::

Surprise, I'm running late again.

It's Monday night. Almost 9pm. I normally have dinner plans up on Sunday morning. I haven't even looked at the pictures from Kid's birthday party. I haven't even taken his 1 year pictures. Whoops.

But, here I am. Back at it, planning away. Getting ready to get those meals on the table.

My sister called me this weekend. She wanted a grocery shopping buddy. She is attempting to shop at my grocery store (Aldi - woo hoo!) for the first time. Oh, how I love my grocery store. And introducing my sister to the savings has been so fun! There was no way I was going to turn her down. We packed up the kiddos and headed out.

The only problem? I didn't have a shopping list. I had to fly by the seat of my pants. Which makes cooking a little more difficult (at least for me!).

Sunday: Little brother's birthday dinner (rescheduled from last week - he had just gotten home from India last week and was far too tired!).

Monday: Hamburger steaks with a mushroom sage sauce and sweet peas. This was the "fly by the seat of my pants" meal. I got home and realized that I had to babysit (and feed) my 2 year old nephew.

Tuesday: Happy Hour (and appetizers) at my aunt and uncles house. My dad's brother and his wife are in town this week, so we are gathering to see them.

Wednesday: Pepper and steak hash with scrambled eggs. This has become a go-to meal for our family - so easy, and always delicious. And, we always have eggs and peppers on hand.

Thursday: Crispy Italian Chicken Thighs. Trying something new this week. Kind of excited, but still deciding upon side dishes. Any ideas?

Friday: Tilapia lettuce wraps (aka. fish tacos with a lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla).

Saturday: Pheasant soup. We don't have a recipe for this. The hubs is going to search for some. Or, I'm going to make one up as we go (which is always a little nerve-wracking).

Ahh, I'm excited to finally go link up with Jessica Lynn Writes!

Jessica Lynn Writes

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Check In

How has a week flown by without posting?

Every night I thought, I really should pull out the computer and get working on a post or two. And then I thought, why wasn't I organized over spring break and schedule posts?

But I was just too tired. Fall asleep on the couch at 8pm tired.

As you can tell, transitioning back to work after a week off was rough on me this time around.

Kid and I did get out a few times this week for a walk around the neighborhood. I should have brought Finn with me, but I am still traumatized from the one time I tried to take the dog and the baby on a walk in the stroller almost a year ago (Kid was just a month old).

It did not go well. There was another dog off leash. Friendly as can be, but Finn just wanted to play. I just wanted to walk. And, Finn was kind of a cruddy leash walker at the time. He's gotten better. Maybe it's time I try again.

We had Kid's birthday party last weekend. It was so wonderful. I can't wait to get that post finished and published. Kid loved it -- until he got really hangry. Poor guy was so hungry. He just wanted to eat. Once his belly was full, he was back to his happy self. But, man.

And there's the end of nap time. Just wanted to check in and say, hey! I'm still here!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

::Dinner Plans #12::

Were you afraid that I was skipping out on my ::Dinner Plans:: this week? Because right now, it's 9:01pm and I haven't posted my weekly meal plan. And I haven't been over to This Week's Eats yet, either.

But fear not! The plans are in the works.

I messed up a little bit last week. I had Kid's birthday party on the plans for Saturday.

His birthday party was not on Saturday. It was today.

We had crock pot chicken tacos, and crock pot shredded beef tacos. We also had crock pot refried beans. I don't eat refried beans, though. It was funny to see three crock pots across the counter, though! The tacos were delicious, though, and it was interesting to see how many folks went without a tortilla (a few of my friends, and most of my family, have started looking into the paleo "diet.")

But, oh man. Was the party fun! I didn't take as many pictures as I had hoped, but I will post what I have soon. I will also be working on Kid's monthly update, as he is now a big ONE YEAR OLD!
(the capital letters mean I'm yelling with excitement, and a little sadness...my baby is already getting so big!)

I can't handle it.

I'll plan my menu instead. That way I won't think about how big he's getting. And how, before I know it, I'll be planning a birthday party for a two year old.

Sunday: Tacos - if you're like me, you'll go sans tortilla.

Monday: Chicken, Mushroom & Green Bean Stir Fry (with homemade stir-fry sauce) served over broccoli slaw, and possibly eaten with chopsticks.

Tuesday: my little brother's birthday dinner

Wednesday: Roasted chicken & asparagus. I love asparagus. So much.

Thursday: Paleo Pot Roast

Friday: Fish tacos with tilapia. I'm going to try these tortillas, or just use a nice leaf of lettuce. Depends on if my mom has the coconut and tapioca flours. Is it bad that I sometimes use my mom as my paleo grocery store?

Saturday: Maple Chicken Thighs. Hopefully with our homemade, straight from our backyard (and my parents') maple syrup. We're boiling right now. And it looks like we may have at least a gallon of syrup. Which means we collected almost 40 gallons of sap.

What your your dinner plans for the week?
Check out the fabulous meal plans of those linked up at Jessica Lynn Writes.

P.S. It's now 10:55pm. I had to pause the blogging to help with the syruping. We just canned two and a half gallons of syrup. This year was, by far, our most productive year!

Jessica Lynn Writes

Friday, April 4, 2014

((this moment))

((this moment))

A Friday ritual. A single moment - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

{recetas} Kid's Breakfast

I have a big, giant confession to make.

I do not like cereal.

I think it's gross. It gets soggy when you add the milk. Unless you gobble it up in 2.4 minutes. But who can eat cereal that quickly?

I try to avoid cereal at all costs. The last time I ate cereal was the day I went into labor with Kid. I ate cereal every day while I was pregnant to ensure I ate breakfast. But since then, no thank you to cereal!

I have gotten into the habit of making an egg bake for breakfasts during the week. This has made mornings so unbelievably easy, especially with Kid now devouring human food.
(the kid can eat)

The best part about an egg bake is that you can add whatever you'd like.

And the other best part? After baking, you can cut it into pieces and freeze them for a super easy morning breakfast! I've included the recipe for this week's breakfast egg bake.

Easy Egg Bake

What you need:
12 eggs
1 and a half cups milk
1 lb sausage
1 and a half cups frozen peas
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, plus an extra sprinkle
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, plus an extra sprinkle
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 black pepper
olive oil

What you do:
First, brown the sausage in a pan with a bit of olive oil and the extra sprinkles of basil and oregano. Also, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

While the meat is cooking away, slice the mushrooms and chop the broccoli. I like to blanch the broccoli for a few moments, and then throwing it into a bowl of ice water. This makes the broccoli extra delicious in the final product.

Crack and beat all of the eggs in a glass bowl. Add the milk (this can be omitted if you have a dairy sensitivity) and keep beating. Toss in the veggies, add the basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. And, if you're feeling extra zippy, add some red pepper flakes.

Finally, line a 9" x 13" glass baking dish with parchment paper. Use some butter to grease the paper. Pour the egg and veggie mixture into the prepared pan. Place the baking dish in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove the egg bake from the oven and allow it to cool. Cut it into individual pieces and place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Back up a minute. Place the pieces you plan to eat tomorrow morning in some sort of Tupperware container. Stick those in the fridge. Place the baking sheet with the other pieces of egg bake into the freezer. Once frozen, you can wrap them individually.

I typically take 2 (well, I guess 3 since Kid enjoys them!) from the freezer and allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge. You can either warm the individual slices in the microwave or quickly on the stove/in the oven.

(can you tell I've had a few issues with taking pictures while cooking lately?)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

{recetas} Leftover Stir Fry

I made this recipe a few weeks ago. Another one of those times when the meal plan had to be modified a bit due to schedule changes.

That's life, right?

I had a round steak that needed to be used, and used fast. I cannot handle food spoiling in my fridge or freezer. It makes me go absolutely batty. Especially after reading an article that the average family loses over $1500 in a year because of spoiled food.
(that is a LOT of money!)

So I made a quick stir fry from the some veggies that hadn't been used. And it was good! I even got an amazing compliment from the hubs!

Super Delicious, Last Minute, Leftover Stir Fry

What you need:
1 round steak
1 cup beef stock
2 or 3 shakes crushed red pepper flakes
garlic powder
sea salt
6 tbsp. rice vinegar
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
5 tbsp. tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
3 tbsp. sriracha
coconut oil
an assortment of veggies (frozen, or fresh)

What you do:
First, pour half of the beef stock into a Ziploc bag, along with 2 tablespoons of the rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp. tamari (or soy) sauce, 1 tablespoon sriracha, and 2 shakes of the red pepper flakes. Close and shake the bag to combine all of the ingredients. Put the steak into the bag, seal, and place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

After the steak has soaked up some of the lovely flavors (okay, you really should let it marinate for 6 hours (or over night) but this is called "Last Minute" for a reason), sear the it over medium high heat in a pan of hot coconut oil. Leave the steak to cook on each side for about 5 minutes. While the steak is in the pan, grind some salt and pepper on each side. Feel free to add some red pepper flakes at this time, as well.

Remove the steak to a cutting board, and allow it to rest. In the meantime, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in your pan. Add your assortment of vegetables. I added frozen broccoli, frozen peas, fresh sliced mushrooms, and fresh sliced carrots. Add some salt to taste, and about 2 teaspoons of garlic powder. Stir the vegetables occasionally. After the vegetables have cooked for a few minutes, add the remaining sauce ingredients (rice vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tamari sauce, sriracha). Stir it all around, and taste. If needed, add some more garlic and/or salt. You could even add more sriracha (we like our food on the hot end of things).

That's it. Super simple. Serve over cauliflower rice, white rice, or fried rice.