What’s For Dinner?

It’s grocery day again! Time to stock up on goods for this week’s sweet eats. I’m trying to get as much as I can get done early today because I think I’m getting sick. BOO. Also, we have guests stopping by at noon. Convenient, right? :) Cross your fingers for me would ya, I don’t waaaaaanna get sick!

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I’ve run myself a little ragged over the past few days and combined with EVERYONE at my job having the hacking cough plague and NOT STAYING HOME, I think I’m racing the clock of good health and time is not looking to be on my side. Operation: Afternoon Nap is definitely happening today. But not until the groceries are procured, food is prepped and guests are fed. So let’s get this party started.

Time to chat about what we’re eating:

Monday
Lunch: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salads
Dinner: Asian Beef + Cauliflower Rice Bowls (at Garrett’s request. It’s partly because he loves this dish and partly because I think he kind of misses AndreAnna)

Tuesday
Lunch: Indian Spiced Sliders (using this spice mixture) + Sliced Cucumbers + Salad
Dinner: Grilled Tuscan Chicken with Lemon + Rosemary + Broccoli + Swiss Chard

Wednesday
Lunch: Garlic + Mozzarella Chicken Sausages + Sauteed Squash with Peppers
Dinner: Chicken in Pepperoni Marinara + Caprese Salad

Thursday
Lunch: Taco Salad
Dinner: Grilled Fiesta Chicken + Roasted Cauliflower with Salsa Verde

Friday
Lunch: Grilled Chipotle Chicken Salads
Dinner: Mexican Meatza + Pizza Zucchini

Saturday
Lunch: Brunch + Shopping. Woooooooooooooooooooot!
Dinner: Leftovers/Must Go!

Sunday
Shop!

*****

What’s cooking in your neck of the woods, friends?

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I was ready for it to go this morning.

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Attention Mop: You’re Getting Chopped.

My hairdresser fought me for a minute.

“It’s the longest I’ve ever seen it, I can’t cut it off.”

“What will you do about the wedding?” (HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!)

“Are you suuuuuuuuure you want to go short?”

But then finally she did this.

The second round of hair they had to sweep up...

And I came home looking like this:

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And everything just feels right in the world. I feel like myself again. :)

Happy Friday and have a great weekend, y’all!

(PS — If you couldn’t tell, I went in with the pic of Option 2.)

My 4 Point Fitness Compass – How to Track Progress When Working On A Long Term Goal

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I’ve had a rough couple of weeks at the gym emotionally. Mentally I have hit a bit of a plateau, and when combined that with changing weather, allergies and some routine Life Stress going on I just haven’t felt successful while working out. Plateaus suck. But the thing is, when you are working toward a long term goal, they will absolutely happen.

I was complaining about my current plateau to Garrett the other night and detailing all of my current failures and he looked at me with a shocked face. He then proceeded to rattle off a bunch of my recent successes — recent successes that I had been overlooking because I was so busy focusing on the frustrating small challenges that I haven’t overcome. My unassisted pull up still eludes me. Despite running regularly for two years I STILL RUN SO DAMN SLOWLY AND INEFFICIENTLY. I have gained 2 lbs in the last few months. All of this feels crappy when I look at it on paper.

Fortunately in the past 2 months Garrett reminded me that I have also experienced the following:

*A New Back Squat, Snatch, and Deadlift PR
*Completely noticeable core strength improvement
*Progress towards my rope climb
*5 total inches lost around my hips, mid-section, thighs and calves
*I’ve learned how to walk on my hands (random! ha!)

How do I know all of this? Because most of that is on paper too. I’ve made a habit of tracking my fitness progress in many different ways and this helps me so much when I get bogged down in the “daily” and forget to look at the “big picture.” Of course it also helps when Garrett reminds me to actually look at all that data instead of just complaining about what I’m not doing. :)

Anyway, since not everyone has a Garrett to remind them of their successes, I wanted to talk about my Four Point Fitness Compass. These are the 4 major pieces of data that I use to help me get back on track, when my big goals feel far away and I start to feel lost.

1. Keep a Journal of Your Workouts

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Before CrossFit I never tracked my workouts. I can’t imagine ever going back to just exercising willy nilly! I find it so helpful to look back over months and months of effort and see very clearly that I can do things now that I couldn’t do then. Having that on paper is invaluable because, let’s be real, working out ALWAYS feels challenging. So it’s nice to be able to look back and say “Hey, what was challenging six months ago isn’t a challenge today. Hooray!”

2. Find Some Benchmarks

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This is such an important element, and it’s another thing I never did before CrossFit. We do a lot of “Benchmark WODs” to gauge our progress and it is so helpful to do the same exercises but get a better result by either doing it faster, with more weight, or completing more repetitions. Even if you aren’t CrossFitting, find your own Benchmark workouts. Need suggestions? Time yourself sprinting (100m, 200m, 400m), or running a mile. Time yourself rowing (250m, 500m, 1000m, 2000m.) Hold something heavy over your head for as long as you can and write that time down. Do the maximum amount of push ups or sit ups that you can do. Then check back again next month and see if you are making progress. If not, adjust your routine.

3. Take Your Measurements

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Don’t only weight yourself…please. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Get out the old school tape measure and check in. I measure neck, chest, waist, hips, thighs, calves, wrist and ankles every month, and it is illuminating. I have been especially grateful for those measurements these past couple of months because I gained a couple pounds and it’s easy to say “Oh, I sure ate at a lot of food trucks in Portland that one weekend, I must just be getting lazy.” But the truth is, I’ve lost 5 inches (holla!) That weight gain has nothing to do with food trucks and everything to do with those Squating PRs I mentioned earlier. :) But if I wasn’t taking measurements, I’d never know.

4. Take Photos

This feels dumb when you are doing it, but I am so happy that I have been tracking my fitness progress semi-regularly with photos.

Sometimes photos show super dramatic change.
October 2010 - Day 1 of CrossFit
Sometimes photos show negligible change.
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It’s why it is important to track multiple things. If I was ONLY taking pictures, I’d probably look at that side by side comparison above at first glance and think — wow — nothing much is going on. Same clothes. Same Body. No change. But because I’ve been tracking my measurements AND taking photos I look and think — Yep, I can see that my hips are 2.5 inches smaller. Yep, my core does look tighter. Things are looking up!

*****
It’s important to take a multi-pronged approach in order to stay motivated. I’ve talked about how to motivate yourself to start a new fitness routine, and how to keep motivated while once you begin, but it’s also important to make sure you have some systems in place that allow you to see all of the progress you are making. These four things really help me do just that!

In the end though, the kindest thing I do for myself is to try not to forget that no matter how much I’m struggling, I have spent the last 16 months regularly committed to 4-6 of physical activity per week and have really only deviated from that on a couple of occasions. That is one high five of a habit to have created and something that I can be proud of no matter what skill is eluding me. If you are trying, you are succeeding. Life is long, goals take time, progress can sometimes feel like such a stretch. But if you are making any effort at all, every once in a while it’s important to be able to look around and think — hell, I am doing alright.

Thirsty Thursday: Spiked Strawberry Mint Cooler

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I am no stranger to cocktail filled evenings spent outside on a patio wasting away the last few hours of summer light. Actually I have fond memories of evenings like that, but honestly these days with 3:45am wake up calls, workout filled weeks and action packed weekends, I can’t afford the morning-after consequences that come with those memories. But that doesn’t mean I want to be a complete tee-totaler and watch the season go by with nary an adult beverage, you know?

This beverage is my compromise.

Refreshingly devoid of sugary, syrupy mixers yet still packing the kind of punch that you hope for when reaching for a cocktail, this Spiked Strawberry Mint Cooler fits the bill to perfection. I have to warn you about two things though:

1. They go down easy

2. You actually need to starts brewing it up a few days before you drink it.

Enter: Strawberry Infused Vodka.

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I followed this recipe to make the base of the cocktail, and just because it was super easy, I made some Pineapple Infused Vodka too (equally delicious!)

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If you have 3 days, fruit, vodka and a dark closet — you can do this, I promise.

Once I had the strawberry vodka base, I wanted a mixer that was refreshing and low in caloric density. I can’t bust my butt all the time at CrossFit just to drink all my hard work away 500 calories at a time with a margarita, you know? (I prefer to eat my hard work away, remember?)

Enter: Mint Sparkling Water

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By itself, I think peppermint sparkling is a bit of an acquired taste. It’s delicious, but just a little different, you know? However as a cocktail mixer?

HOLY HELL, IT IS AMAZING.

Add 3 Parts chilled Mint Sparkling Water to 2 Parts chilled Strawberry Infused Vodka, throw in a few frozen strawberries to make the whole ensemble, and drink up! I mean, using sparkling water as a mixer practically means you are hydrating while you drink!

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Think Mint Sparkling Water sounds a bit crazy? Try Strawberry or Lime muddled with a little basil!

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You won’t be disapointed.

*****

I’m certain that sparkling water coolers (with a bit of a kick!) are going to be making several appearances on my patio this season. How about you?

16 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

It’s the 16th, so I’m rolling with 16 things.
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Also: Ahem…Long Hair, you are officially on notice!

1. I cook a metric ton of food in my house (ok, so that you probably knew) but we do it without the aid of a dishwasher or garbage disposal.

2. If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life with no nutritional repercussions it would HANDS DOWN be garlic bread made on ciabatta with herbs. True Story: when I was little I used to sneak garlic bread from the dinner table and hide it under my bed for later. (SO GROSS, right?)

3. I’ve only been out of the country once, and I honestly don’t fantasize that much about leaving it.

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4. I walk and talk in my sleep pretty frequently. Not like every night or anything, but during periods of life anxiety I am a hot mess in the middle of the night. Garrett has some good blackmail stories.

5. When I was young and first started reading “chapter books” I would read the chapters out of order. It took me a LOOOOOONG time to figure out that I was doing it wrong.

Woke up early to read before work

6. I can’t really burp.

7. I really love to be creative in the kitchen, but I could eat the same exact thing, 3 meals per day, for a VERY long time before getting sick of it.

8. I didn’t eat seafood until I was 23.

9. I was once over $60,000 in debt. I am currently debt free and feel thankful every day for the lessons I learned working myself out of that. I wish I had been smart enough not to get there in the first place, but it changed me in a fundamental way that I am so grateful for.

10. I have read almost every single Jackie Collins novel and I am not ashamed.

11. When I was 20 a random psychic told me 7 was my love number and that I would one day marry a man I had been with for 7 years. Garrett and I started dating when I was 27. We have been together for 6 1/2 years. :)

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12. If I had a Travel Bucket List it would include: Spend a Weekend in Palm Springs, Rent a House in the Hamptons, and Spend an Entire Summer in the South.

13. When I worked in coffee and a customer was rude to me I marked their drink “BGD” along with all of the other drink abbreviations. BGD = Bitch Gets Decaf. I used to have a bit of a spiteful side.

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14. I once had to be pulled out a mosh pit (HA…mosh pit. That make me sound 80) at Blink 182 concert and I lost my pants in the process. Don’t worry, I got them back. And yes that ranks right up there on my Most Embarrassing Moments list.

15. We own an iron but no ironing board. And it um…doesn’t really impact my life all that severely. I’m a wash and wear kind of gal. Or a throw it in the dryer to get the wrinkles out again and again and again kind of girl.

16. I started this blog in 2006 as a way to get me into a daily writing habit, and understandably some of my archives are pretty embarrassing. But I am so SO glad that this website has become my most passionate hobby in the last 6 years. I have met the best people, learned some amazing things, and now can no longer imagine living my life without it. And I’m thankful every single day that folks like you stop by and say hi!

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Internet, Choose My Haircut…

So on my long list of things that I hate overhearing women say is, “I’m growing my hair out for my wedding and I can’t wait to chop it off when it’s over.”

Other things you can add to that list:

“I want long and lean muscles, not bulky ones.”
“I get along soooo much better with guys.”
“I’m trying to lose 5 lbs.”
and basically any iteration of the phrase “When is he gonna put a ring on it.

But let’s get back to the wedding hair issue: What is with that? I totally get that having long, romantic hair is the image that we are most bombarded with as “future brides” but the idea that you would spend time having a hair style you don’t love (ie: I can’t wait to chop it off when it’s over) because you want to look like this archetypal bride makes me want stand up on my anti-media soap box. (Also: OMG, no. This is not for me.) But don’t worry, that’s not at all where this post is going.

You see, I actually have crazy long hair right now. Like way past my shoulders long, and I’m pretty sure the last time I had hair this long I was writing Pearl Jam lyrics in black sharpie on my high school locker and wondering if Jordan Catalano was going to ask me to the prom. I realized recently that it’s just…not my preferred hair length. It’s fun, I can do a lot of things with it, it goes back nicely in a ponytail, but I just don’t really feel like it fits me. I love long hair on other people, so I can’t really explain it, but it just doesn’t feel ME, you know?

So the other day I was doing my hair as I got ready for work and I thought to myself, “Self, you should tame this crazy mane and get it chopped.” And then without skipping a beat, I thought to myself “Oooooh, but will I regret it when we get married?”

AND THEN I DIED OF SHOCK AT THE HYPOCRISY OF MY SUBCONSCIOUS.

And then I made an appointment with my hairdresser. For this Friday, actually. :)

I’m definitely going to get it cut shorter because it’s time. The problem is I spent just about the entire decade of the 2000s with an A-line bob, which seems to be the Go-To suggestion whenever I talk about cutting my hair. And while I love love love that cut (and consider it the reason that I love shorter hair to this day) I feel like I’ve been there, done that. I want to branch out.

Here is my FAAAAAAAAANTASY HAIR, but do not select that because I don’t even have ANYWHERE close to the amount of cajones required to do this. (Yet. But I’m working my way there.)

So that leaves us with the following three options:

Option 1 – Round // Choppy // With Some Bangs

Option 2 – Sleek // Short // Bob

Option 3 – Ooooh, Asymmetrical

I realize that no haircut will actually make me have the darling facial structure of any of these lovely ladies, so fret not. With that in mind…WHAT SAY YOU, INTERNET!

April 2012 // Books

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Oh I’m just loathe to talk about April Books this month. You can probably tell since it is going on the third week of May and I’m just now getting around to it. I usually post about it during the first week of the month because I’m excited to talk books, but man — this was one of my worst reading month thus far. If this were The Bachelor, this would be the Most Dramatic! Rose Ceremony! Ever!

Here’s how it started.

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
So many people loved this book! It came so highly recommended! I really wanted to love it. And I just…didn’t. It wasn’t for lack of trying, this was actually my third time starting it and checking it out from the library. It is written well, each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and while they don’t all tell the same story, they are all loosely connected. Typically, this is one of my favorite types of books.

But something for me didn’t connect. I started this book at the beginning of the month and the days just kept ticking by one by one, and I kept leaving this book on my nightstand. Finally it was halfway through the month and I was feeling sad about not being involved with a good book, but still without actual desire to go back to this one. I put it down mid-month, and while I feel bad that I didn’t finish it (Oh how I HATE not finishing a book!) I think it just wasn’t for me. Maybe it’s for you though? Like I said, so many of my trusted reader friends loved it. It’s not you, Jennifer Egan, it’s me.

Then I moved on to a book that has been sitting on my bookshelf forever that I’ve been super excited to read.

The Town That Food Saved: How One Town Found Vitality in Local Food by Ben Hewitt
This book details the journey of Hardwick, Vermont, a small farming community whose economy had fallen on some hard times. It develops a local, sustainable food system that basically turns its economy around.

THIS IS RIGHT UP MY ALLEY…and yet.

I just couldn’t get into it this month and that bummed me out. It was not the author or the story, both were very interesting. Clearly I was just a little bit book moody this month. Instead of ruining this book for myself though, I just hit the pause button, put it back up on the bookshelf, and I will come back to it when I am feeling less like an adolescent with respect to my books. But if we’re keeping score, that’s now two books I HAVEN’T finished in April.

Then it was time to move on to the the book I was required to read this month.

You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams with Irene Zutell

I’ll tell you what, I have never been so happy to have been forced to finish a book! At this point in the month I was fanning myself on my Victorian fainting couch and feeling overwhelming devastation over my bad luck with books. Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but come on — you know what it’s like to be on an icky book run. So unsatisfying!

So I finished this one. Excellent. And I told you what I thought about it already, so we won’t beat a dead horse. But I do have to mention this one thing: I am fascinated with the life of ghost writers. Or well, celebrity co-authors, shall we say. How do you think one goes about getting that job?

For the record, I would like to offer up my services to have any of the following celebrities air out their dirty laundry to me, while I craft it into a compelling book with a reader friendly format:

*Shemar Moore
*David Beckham
*Ok, ok George Clooney, I will sit down with you IF I MUST!

Seriously, Irene Zutell — how does one get your job?


Lastly, because this month had been so ALL OVER THE PLACE I had to call in a sure thing. Yeah, I’m going to admit it, fluffy chick lit is my sure thing. So I picked up The Beach House by Jane Green

And you know what? This was just fine. Not earth shattering. Not even particularly fabulous. But I wanted to turn the pages every night, it didn’t give me anxiety when I read it before bed (I’m looking at you: The Snowman) and when I finished it I was happy I read it. Well, mostly because it is a book I can check off The Bookshelf Project, and man do I love to cross things off of a list. In that sense the month wasn’t a total loss now, was it?

Luckily I just picked up a huge batch of awesome (I hope) new books from the library that I have been waiting for. Man, the request queue at the library has just changed my life! And also, I’m currently reading a super awesome book (from my bookshelf, no less!) that I will tell you about next month so thankfully my bad luck is not sticking around for two months in a row.

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So because I’m so traumatized from last month, do me a solid and tell me one (or all) of the following:

*Your favorite book(s) if you can narrow it down. And it doesn’t have to be your favorite of all time, or particularly fancy, but just a book that you compare others too.

*A book that really made you think, changed your world view, or left a mark on you.

*A super trashy, guilty pleasure book (or series) that you shamelessly enjoy.

Ready….go!

Where Did You Go, Weekend??

How is it Monday already?

No seriously, which one of you is responsible for this giant hole in the space/time continuum. WHERE DID THE WEEKEND GO???

I was so happy to make it to Friday last week, but I ended up crapping out early on Friday night, which as it turns out was the theme of my whole weekend. :) It may have had something to do with the heat + some serious workouts!

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I’m so glad that it is going to to cool down this week…although luckily I get to workout 3 mornings this week, instead of in the afternoon.
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I know people think I am crazy for looking forward to 5 am workouts, but when those temps hit triple digits all summer long, I’m GRATEFUL when my alarm goes off at 3:45!

Saturday I got together with my mama to celebrate Mother’s Day a bit early. She works on Sundays so we met up at the mall that is located halfway between our two houses for some lunch (Tri-Tip!) and some shopping on Saturday morning. I found this old pic of us this weekend while cleaning up some things in my office and I just LOVE it! But it totally blows my mind that my mom had a 2 year old when she was only 26…NUTS!!!

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We found some GREAT deals at the mall (probably because we looked inside every. single. store. HA!) but my favorite score was this cross-body bag I nabbed at H&M for $20. First off — OMG THERE IS FINALLY AN H&M in my area! Yessssssssssss! Second, Garrett has been hounding me about “the gym bag that I carry around and call a purse” and nudging me to find something smaller and less shoulder-pain inducing, so I finally took the plunge and bought something “practical.”

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But I still think it’s cute! Maybe it’s my impending middle age, but the practicality of it makes me so happy. I kept walking around this weekend and yelling “I have two hands to carry things with!” It’s really a game changer. :)

Ok ok, I also bought a couple pairs of new shoes including these babies. But they were $17 at the Gap, so how could I say no? They practically jumped on my feet in the store!
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And I’m totally wearing them today too…like a kid who walks out of the shoe store unwrapping their new toy! I have no patience when it comes to new things. Plus, I love them!

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Sunday I did my grocery shopping in the morning and hit up the Farmer’s Market. That was enough, frankly, but when I got home it was time to tackle the garden beds in the backyard. I have had Garden Drama this year, which I’ll probably tell you about in another post since it is gardening blog post season (ha!) but the short story is: we were SUPER behind on planting and it had to be taken care of on Sunday, or else. So I did just that.

Garden Intervention.

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And do you want to hear something silly? I totally gardened in my bathing suit! It felt really efficient, actually, since I wanted to get some sun. But it also felt COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS, but what the hell — it’s my backyard! I can do what I want! You’re not getting a picture of THAT though. :)

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Then I prepped some food for the week including breakfast packs and salads for our lunches. Is it just me or do salads get prettier in the summer?

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For dinner I grilled up a couple of pork loins as part of my “Clean Out All The Questionable Meat in My Freezer” project. I want to tell you they tasted bad, since this is totally not fancy-schmancy pork, but they were pretty bomb! I had marinated them with Olive Oil, Champagne Vinegar and tons of salt, pepper, onions and garlic and man did they come out RIGHT!

Dinner. Shortly.

Also I made what is sure to be my Favorite Summer Cocktail. Recipe coming to the blog this week. AH-MAZING!

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So refreshing, and so dangerously devoid of any indication that it is alcoholic! Is it any wonder I was crapped out on the couch by 8pm last night?

*****

How was your weekend, friends? Do you prefer a busy, activity filled weekend or a more restful relaxing one? For me it depends on the week!

What’s For Dinner?

Getting back to better habits...

So I made some better grocery decisions this week. I didn’t buy any meat from disreputable sources, and in fact I picked up some awesome (and delicious — I know because I sampled!) chicken sausages from the Carmichael Farmer’s Market this morning. I got two different flavors so we’ll be enjoying those for lunch this week which will be excellent because I am already feeling the pressure — this. week. is. FULL!

Hopefully I will at least be well fueled, which will help me be able to kick ass and take names! Here’s what we’re munching on:

Monday
Lunch: Leftover Garlic Pepper Pork Loin from Sunday’s Dinner + Steamed Broccoli
Dinner: Cinnamon Chipotle Sliders + Sauteed Rainbow Chard

Tuesday
Lunch: Taco Salad
Dinner: Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs + Salad

Wednesday
Lunch: Mediterranean Chicken Sausage + Caprese Salad
Dinner: Blackened Chicken with Avocado Cream + Sauteed Carrots with Cumin + Orange Zest

Thursday
Lunch: Chive Chicken Sausages + Sliced Red Peppers + Strawberries
Dinner: Southwestern Turkey Burgers + Brussels Sprout Slaw

Friday
Lunch: Leftover Turkey Burgers Veggie Must Go
Dinner: Pepperoni Pizza with Cauliflower Crust + Salad

Saturday

Bridal Shower — this day is going to be a Free for All!

Sunday
Shop!

*****

What’s cooking in your neck of the woods?

On Mother’s Day

Me + My Mama

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.

~Washington Irving

Truer words have never been spoken.

In this phase of my life, as I wish and dream for my own family, I feel eternally grateful for the amazing mentor I have in my mom. No one does it better.

I love you, Mom!

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