Thursday, January 10, 2019

Winter Fun List

Hello! We are back in the full swing of things over here, with dance lessons and swim lessons and client meetings and fellowship interviews and a baby with a fever. Again. Yay for 2019!


Inspired by Laura's list, I made my own list of things to do to make winter after Christmas more exciting, instead of wanting to stay in my pajamas for the next 3 months.

After writing this list, Winter 2019 doesn't seem so bad.

Go out to eat for restaurant week. I have wanted to do this for years, but am always doing some type of detox in January. Well, not this January. I have our favorite baby sitter booked, now I just need to pick the restaurant. So many choices!

Sit and watch the Chiefs in the playoffs. I must admit that although our team is doing great this year, I haven't actually watched many of the games, but rather listened while doing all of the other things. Saturday (and hopefully a few of the following weeks!) I am staying put on the couch and watching every single play.

Winter Jam. This has been on my list for a few years, but every year I bail to stay home in my pajamas. Not this year. I am forcing myself out of hibernation for this, even if I only take Ina.

Church marriage event. Dan and I are so looking forward to this. I love our church.

Branson Family Trip! The girls pooled their Christmas money and we booked a water park room for a few days. We can't wait!

Have dinner with my grandparents once a week. For a long time I have been trying to work my schedule to visit my grandparents while they aren't eating dinner, but found it near impossible. My light bulb moment was when I realized we could just grab dinner and eat with them. Genius.

Take the kids sledding. Ina has been begging, however, every time it snows Dan is plowing or salting and I can't take all three kids by myself. I will just need a plan that involves Mira-care.

Be outside for 20 minutes a day. You know how you read all of those articles that advise going on a walk to treat/prevent the afternoon slump, and you nod your head, and then proceed to stay sitting at your desk all afternoon and wonder why your energy is low? Just me?

Well, two days ago I was feeling the typical 2 PM slump, so I laced up my shoes and walked for 15 minutes. The sunshine and fresh air made a world of difference in my mood, mental clarity, and energy. I am going to set a 2 PM alarm from now on.

Cook something I have never made before. I am thinking risotto. Or a whole fish. Or mussels. Or maybe all of them.

That's all for now! Anything you are doing to make winter more fun?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

My Family's Most Cooked Meals of 2018

Hey there! I hope you survived the first few days of the new year!

If you are anything like me, the new year brings a fresh start to many things, one of which is full-steam-ahead meal planning. Meal planning helps not only budgeting, but also ensuring my family eats nutritious meals so that we can go through the rest of life effectively.

(Speaking of budgeting, I just switched to YNAB and I am OBSESSED. It is everything I didn't know I needed. Do it.)

A few days ago I flipped through my 2018 planner for a little meal planning inspiration. I noticed a handful of meals my family ate over and over again and I started writing them down to share with you!

I thought this list would be useful to others looking for meals that are:

  1. Delicious - at least 4/5 of my family members will eat it
  2. Relatively nutritious
  3. EASY to make. Like, less than 30 minutes hands on time and can be prepared with a toddler at your feet and a baby in your arms.
  4. All the ingredients can be found at Aldi (because who wants to go to two grocery stores?).

I also have to give credit to my friend Danielle. Her family lived with us for the majority of 2018, so she was greatly involved in the planning, preparing, and executing of these meals, which means they are actually TWO FAMILY approved.

Get your grocery list ready.

Cheeseburger salad from Skinnytaste.



This was probably my favorite recipe of 2018. We ate this two times a month and the leftovers were great. We gave the kids sandwich thins and typically served baked sweet potato fries as a side. The dressing is amazing and I usually add chopped kale in with my lettuce because you know I love any way to add my favorite green.

The only way I change the recipe is to just brown the meat (like if I was making tacos) instead of making patties. So easy!

Pork Shoulder Ragu from Dinner a Love Story



This little gem is my go-to for entertaining, but we also made it twice just for us. Serve with a salad and roasted broccoli. Heads up: you need to start cooking 4(ish) hours before you need to eat.

Carnitas from Skinnytaste




Hands down my favorite slow cooker meal. I always serve with a simple cabbage slaw and tortillas/chips and enjoy ever last bite.

Enchiladas from Gimme Some Oven


https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/red-enchilada-sauce/

That sauce is straight up drinkable, and if you have meat already cooked from another meal, this recipe is a great way to completely transform the flavor. Dan would eat this every day if I let him.

I will note that the sauce recipe has a little kick to it and if you prefer something a little more tame, Gina's recipe is also delicious.

Greek Chicken Pitas from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


https://www.melskitchencafe.com/simple-greek-chicken-burritos-or-wraps/

This is the ultimate customizable meal that can be easily prepped before hand. The spice rub makes the chicken so flavorful when it comes off the grill and I have used the quick pickled onions for everything from tacos to BBQ.

I usually serve with rice and chickpeas or pitas, so the kids can choose their own meal adventure.

Sloppy Joe's from Skinnytaste



This was a Champ family favorite that we have since adopted. There are so many veggies and nutrients thrown in into that sauce!

Every single time we had this for dinner Ina proclaimed that she didn't like sloppy joes, but by the end she was gobbling up her plate.

Monterrey Chicken from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


https://www.melskitchencafe.com/monterey-chicken-chilis-copycat/

This might be the most delicious way to cook a chicken breast. The absolute perfect summer meal. We typically served Mexican rice and some type of roasted vegetable and no matter how much chicken I defrosted, there never seemed to be any leftovers.

Peruvian Chicken with Green sauce from Skinnytaste


https://www.skinnytaste.com/peruvian-green-sauce/

This recipe requires two different links (sauce and chicken), but is beyond worth it. This is my other favorite meal of 2018 and can be served with anything from rice to pasta to just a pan full of roasted vegetables. When that sauce is in the fridge it gets put on everything: eggs, salad, burritos, etc. Do yourself a favor and make it now.

A few other meals that I don't have recipes for, but almost always make it on to our monthly meal rotation. I know these aren't ground breaking, but a good reminder that sometimes simple and obvious is the best way to get through the week without being in the drive-thru.

  • Tacos. I make my own seasoning (usually just sprinkle chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregeno, and salt to taste) on ground beef or turkey or a combo. I chop up lettuce, tomatoes, and onions and we have a range of tortillas. My family has been super into double-decker tacos, so a can of refried beans is a must. 
  • Spaghetti. Sometimes we make meatballs. Sometimes we use this super simple slow cooker recipe or this veggie packed recipe. No matter the day, if you add tomato sauce and pasta together, my entire family will devour it.
  • Pizza. Sometimes we buy a take and bake from Aldi. Sometimes I make my own dough and make a BBQ chicken and pepperoni. Sometimes I use the bread, rolls, buns in the bottom of the bread basket. Pizza is always a delicious hit in our house. 

I hope this information was helpful!

How about you? Is there a meal you have cooked over and over again that I need to know about?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

19 Goals for 2019

Good morning and Happy Happy 2019!

Have you heard that how you spent New Year's Day is indicative of how you will spend your year? If that is true, I will spent most of 2019 looking for my keys, which sounds pretty accurate.

We spent NYE at home, eating reubens (all the girls love them!), watching Annie, and going to bed at 10 PM. Ina seemed to enjoy the fake countdown I made up right before we went upstairs and I almost felt bad about missing the real deal.

Yesterday we had Hoppin' John and Collard Greens. (A few notes on the recipes: for the Hoppin' John, I used Tony Chachere's creole seasoning and doubled the recipe. For the greens, I wouldn't use sesame oil next time).


So how about some goals for 2019?

I know that every blog you read has a  post like this, but I love this sort of stuff. Except for last year, apparently I didn't, because I tried to check my goals from last year and it turns out I didn't set any.

Weird. Maybe I was a little overwhelmed on December 31, 2017? Honestly, I don't really remember.

From big to small, here are some ways to make this year great!

1.Not complain about winter, instead embrace it. This article about people without the sun for days is incredibly interesting.
2. Do something about my eyebrows. Geeze.
3. Improve and meet work goals. Every year at work we have to set 4 to 5 goals for the year. I have to admit that the last few years, between babies and maternity leaves, my goals haven't been very lofty. I hope to change that this year and put my foot on the career gas pedal.
4. Write thank you cards. Or at the very least, send thank you texts.
5. Have professional family photos taken. Print them out. Hang them on our walls.
6. Do a photo family 2019 book in real time. Include fun things the girls say, memories of things we did together, etc.
7. Outsource house cleaning. And pool cleaning/maintenance (does it count as outsourcing if I assign this to Dan?).
8. Start serving at church in a different way other than small group leader.
9. Go to a Christian concert.
10. Go to a marriage conference.
11. Take three vacation days (spread out) just for me. The kids will still go to school/daycare. I ended 2019 with about 4 leftover vacation days which surprised me.
12. Go on a few family trips - one big out out of the state (hopefully) and a few smaller ones in the state.
13. Payoff half of our rental house principal. We really want to get this paid off by the end of 2020 and I think we can do it!
14. Read a chapter of the bible a day. Just one chapter, but better than nothing.
15. Do a pull-up. I want this so bad.
16. Start a book club. Or maybe join a book club.
17. Read 25 books. Totally doable.
18. Maintain my weight/size/health. For the first time in a long time, on December 31 I feel absolutely fantastic. Not perfect, but great for me. I just want to be happy with the way my body is right now.
19. Average two blog posts per week. One more topical post (I have pretty much stopped writing these) and one weekly summary

Have a great rest of your week!
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