The Evolution of our Eating Habits + 4 Recipes We Are Loving Right Now

I am slowly emerging from a serious food rut.

I spent a number of years around here talking about meal planning and also sharing our real time menus. And then I had a baby. That is going to be how many of my stories end these days. LOL

AND THEN WE HAD A BABY.

I did well stocking my freezer before he came, and we literally ate for months from only our freezer, meal delivery, and the generosity of friends. And right about the time we emptied the freezer, I went back to work – which meant we mostly just ate a lot more takeout. Do you know how quickly take out gets old? For a while, the thought of Chipotle made me actually gag a little. And I used to LOVE CHIPOTLE! But you can only have so much.

We slowly began to add in convenience proteins — rotisserie chickens, Costco pulled pork (YUM!), etc. But we were still just kind of slapping food together. We relied a lot on bagged salads and frozen vegetables, and ate lots of things that we had spent years avoiding because they were easy: pasta, frozen pizza, you know the drill.

It was survival times around our house, and HEY LOOK — we survived! Sweet. But also about 6 months ago we both had a little come to Jesus meeting in our kitchen and said “We have to get meals under control here.”

I’m not quite sure what “Under Control” means just yet. We aren’t adhering to any particular diet, we don’t really have any specific “food goals” (that sounds weird but I think you guys know what I’m saying) and hell yes we still have frozen pizzas in our freezer and I AM NOT AFRAID TO USE THEM. :)  But we are being more mindful about homemade food, and trying to stick to a protein/veggie format that we both know and love.  And hopefully our eating habits will improve from here.

All that said, I thought I’d share a few recipes that have made it into our rotation. These are meals that were relatively easy to fit into our lives with a kid, commutes, full time jobs outside the home, and limited time to prep.

PaleOMG:  Instant Pot Creamy Gnocchi Soup – I’ve had an instant pot for almost two years, but only recently have I begun to embrace it. This uses Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi (which is LIFE! yum yum yum) and can be customized with other veg/meat combos as you see fit. It’s a great recipe by itself, or a template for quick soup.

If you also love TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi (or maybe more importantly if you DON’T,) Iowa Girl Eats just posted a great primer on some recipes worth trying that completely eschew the TJ’s cooking instructions. (The instructions are awful! Nom Nom Paleo also has a great Instagram PSA that helps.)

Skinnytaste:  Slow Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls – The flavor of this recipe is an 11 out of 10. OMG. I am a person who loves “Bowl Dinners” and I also love anything with lots of “toppings” and this recipe includes both of these things. It’s also a Slow Cooker recipe, so I enjoy the hands off time. Throw the ingredients in, make your pickled carrots, chop up the other toppings, and then forget about it for a few hours. It’s good over rice/cauliflower rice/ even quinoa is pretty good. Garrett is a huge fan of Asian flavors, so I can always talk him into experimenting with new recipes like this.  So complex and flavorful for very little effort. That’s my love language right now when it comes to food.

Eat Yourself Skinny: One Skillet Cashew Chicken Stir Fry – My other love language? ONE SKILLET/POT MEALS! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAS. Dishes are so overrated. Ugh. This recipe is one that I make with only a slight alteration, and that is adding more heat. It’s a very rich and creamy dish, but seriously so tasty. To me, a little spice cuts through the richness. I’ve been just adding red pepper flakes, but I recently tried adding a little bit of Yai’s Thai Chili Garlic Hot Sauce. Flavor was amazing, but the heat was off the charts, so use sparingly! Have you tried any of the Yai’s Thai Sauces? Their curry sauces are THE BOMB, and all their hot sauce bottles are fun and flavorful too. I haven’t tried the Thai Almond Sauce but it’s on my list. The ingredients are all super clean (I think all their products are Whole 30 approved?) but mostly importantly, they taste GREAT!

The Recipe Critic: Cajun Shrimp Sausage and Vegetable Sheet Pan – Have I mentioned that I am so happy that I had a child during the time when “Sheet Pan Meals” became a full on food trend. This has saved my bacon, more times than I can count. I love shrimp as a quick protein, and like Garrett is a sucker for Asian flavors, I usually love anything Cajun, so this recipe always delivers. So easy, it almost feels criminal.

*****

So that’s a little peek into what’s happening around our kitchen these days. What go-to recipes are you all making? I want to get my kitchen mojo back this year SOMETHING FIERCE, so I am very much open to suggestion!

Best Week Ever + Good Reads

I might be having the Best Week Ever, you all. Our life is pretty much routine these days, and it’s not that often that every day has something exciting going on. Of course I’d try to find things to be grateful for every day, but this week just had an abundance of crazy good things!

Monday: My cousin Jen had a baby! A beautiful baby boy named Luke. There is something so magical about a new baby. If you want to sneak a peek at his chubby, baby cuteness check him out here.

Tuesday: On Tuesday night, WE BOUGHT A NEW CAR.  Oh man, was it a long time coming! And my Nissan Murano was really giving up the ghost and it was getting stressful. The most fun part about it was when we finished all the paperwork and came out they had put a big bow on it and filled it with water and snacks. I felt like I was in a car commercial. LOL It was kind of a fun little weeknight deviation. Not to mention a great drive to work the next day. Hopefully I’ll figure out how to use it this weekend. After driving a 10+ year old car, let’s just say the technology change for me is a real learning curve. hahahaha

car

Wednesday: Because we were at the car dealership until LAAAAAAAAAAAATE the night before, I was Tired AF on Wednesday. But we made a (new to us) Instant Pot Recipe and not only was it super quick and easy, but it was an 11 out of 10. I love when kitchen experiments work out like that. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it.

IP Recipe

Thursday: My house cleaners came, and seriously I felt like a Praise Emoji walking around my house afterward. They usually come every two weeks, but it had been almost a month due to some schedule conflicts, and I had hosted Christmas, so my house was at DUMPSTER FIRE LEVELS of dirtiness. Coming home yesterday felt so good, and made me excited to enjoy my clean house this weekend. (Man, I guess this is Adulting. haha)

Friday: I mean…it’s Friday! What could be better?

And just for fun, here are some fun things I have read this week in case you feel like perusing the internet while enjoying your weekend:

Have a great weekend, folks!

2019 Goals: Habits, Family, Projects, Health

The desire and capacity to set goals has come around again and I AM HERE FOR IT!!! But I am definitely changing my approach this year.

 

What I have learned over the last two years since having a child (and I’ve learned it THE HARD WAY, I might add LOL, over and over) is that planning a specific “end result” has a very limited effect on what actually gets accomplished. Big ideas come to fruition with focus, of course, but also when you make sure to pivot and adapt to reality along the way. You will know what I’m getting at if you have ever had ” a goal” of getting a toddler out of the house in a timely manner. :)

 

Having a goal and a plan are great — but I find that I have more success these days if I focus on getting to the root cause of things that are driving me nuts and then solve those issues in small increments. So that’s one way I’m changing my approach to goals. Small habit changes, or reinforcements of old good habits that have sort of devolved for me in the past couple of years, are going to be something I work to be more consistent at this year.

 

The other thing I’ve learned as a newer parent that has affected the way I approach goals is that time is not always my own. Holden has an impact on really everything we are doing in this season of life. We want to do so many things with him! He is at such a fun age! There is so much joy in my role as a mom. But also, I have my our own personal non-parent goals and Garrett and I are still navigating  how to fit all of those things in too.

 

I am a firm believer that there is plenty of time to do things you want to do, but you have to prioritize what is most important. This year, my list of goals/habits/projects are meant to help me keep those priorities in my view.

 

Habits

*Take vitamins/supplements daily

*Learn to work out at night

*Floss at least 5 times a week

*Read for 20 minutes per day at least 5 days a week

*2-3 Peloton rides per week

*Increase vegetable intake

*Meal Plan Weekly

*Use Grocery Pickup as often as possible

*Make time to take a short walk at work every day

*Average 7 hours of quality sleep per night

*Eat more fiber daily

 

Family

*Holden Swimming Lessons

*Revamp Meal Planning/Grocery Shopping Routine

*Planned Date Night Once Per Month

*Go on 12 Notable Family Outings

*Explore Pre-school transition options for Holden

*Vet back up childcare and begin building relationships with at least 2 additional childcare providers

*Explore Pre-school transition options for Holden

*Make Seasonal Bucket Lists

 

Projects

*Revive the blog! (content, https, site design)

*Buy a new car

*Start documenting what you wear again

*Furnish the living room

*Closet Overhaul

*Figure out how to use Tradesy or Poshmark to sell newer/nicer clothes

*Get 3 Haircuts

*Plan a Spring/Summer Spa Day with cousins

*Organize Holden’s artwork into a repeatable system

*Host a holiday party

*Host another fun get together outside of the holidays

*Make an Office Space for myself somewhere in our house

 

Health

*Figure out how to make my hair grow back

*Spine/Core/Pelvic Floor rehab

*Explore additional gym options (with childcare!) for strength training

*52 Week Peloton Streak

*100 Rides in 2019

*Quit Caffeine for a month

*Try Reformer Pilates

 

This list will probably evolve as well, but I think it’s a great start. The future feels bright. :)

Weekend Recap: Fun + Relaxing

Our first weekend this year was a great combination of fun and relaxation!

I don’t know about you, but last week seemed so long to me, even though I only worked three days. I think because I took two weeks off of work it was hard to get back into the swing of things. By the time Friday came, I was so ready for the weekend!

Friday night was pretty mellow. Holden hit the sack early (he was pretty tired after being back to his daycare routine, too haha) and as soon as he was asleep I hopped on the Peloton and did a 30 min Intervals and Arms ride with Denis. Denis, Robin and Cody have been my favorite ride instructors so far, and this one was great! I was a sweaty mess at the end. I’m always surprised that shorter rides can be such a good workout.

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Saturday morning I was up early for no reason at all. I guess my body was in the rhythm of work and so I took the opportunity to just get out of bed and spend some quality quiet time with a cup of coffee and my book before the boys woke up.

 

It was GLORIOUS! I’m still reading this and while it was a little slow to start, it has all of a sudden really gotten interesting.
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Garrett and Holden were up around 8 and it was immediately “Playtime.” Ignore the fact that all of my Christmas decorations are still up. I wanted to take them down December 26th but Garrett requested we leave them up. Now I can’t figure out when we will have both the time and energy to take them down. It may be Christmas still in July at the Franklin house!
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Holden is doing this cute thing where he basically categorizes his life into Play Time, Food Time and Bed Time. (Ah, to be a toddler!) He is always asking “Is it Food Time?” right when he wakes up and after breakfast he always asks sweetly, “Is it play time?” When he starts winding down for bed each night he always jokingly says “I think it’s Play Time not Bed Time, right?” (Speaking of Play Time, those Magnatiles were the MVP of Christmas! Grandparents, for the win.)

Our Saturday morning family adventure was a trip to the local tumbling gym for Open Play so Holden could work some of his wiggles out. He has so much ENERGY these days that some sort of major physical activity is really a must. He loves the ball pit and the trampoline, and they do this cute thing at the end where they blow bubbles and one of the owners dresses up as a shark (BLESS HER HEART) and they all sing Baby Shark, and everyone goes home tired and happy!

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After Tiny Tumblers, I stopped to get our grocery pick up order and you guys, MY LIFE IS CHANGED FOREVER. It was the first time I did grocery pick up and honestly, it may get it’s own whole post. It is THE BEST THING! It was an extra bonus that it was pouring rain and I just had to wait in my car to have my groceries loaded instead of squeezing in a trip with my tired toddler.

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Our plan worked to wear Holden out and he came home and took an epic nap! Like, slept for four hours kinda nap — which initially had us a little worried he’d never go to bed. But he must be going through a growth spurt or something because, on top of eating us out of house and home for a few weeks, he asked to go to bed right at 7.

After he went down, Garrett + I made dinner and settled in to watch Top Chef. I’m into this season so far, but seriously Padma’s wardrobe gets crazier and crazier every season. LOL We made a bomb Shrimp Scampi and some simple vegetables for dinner and it was SO GOOD! Definitely not Top Chef worthy, but also a good reminder that simple ingredients can yield a pretty awesome dinner.

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Sunday morning I tried out my new waffle maker! I haven’t had a waffle maker in decades but I spotted one on clearance at Target the day after Christmas and it called to me! It was a total “Instagram Made Me Buy It” purchase. LOL It was under $20 and I have been considering one ever since I started following Brooke Zigler on Instagram. She makes some good looking savory waffles on Instastories  and then I saw a Parmesan Waffle in one of the Chrissy Teigen cookbooks I got for Christmas and all of a sudden I was like “Must. Have. Waffle Maker.”….We’ll see how much I use it :)

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The good news is, the waffles were 100% Holden + Garrett approved.

Sunday morning was mostly relaxing and more Play Time :) My mom came over, which gave Garrett and I a chance to do a little Meal Prep for the week. He is playing so much more independently and imaginatively these days, which is so cute. He still loves to be the center of attention too, and Grandmas are great audiences for that!

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The afternoon and evening were mostly spent inside doing stuff around the house. It was actually SUPER stormy here, but I did make a quick trip out during Holden’s nap to go see my cousin Jen. She was prepping for her scheduled C-Section the following day, so I just wanted to give her a hug and chit chat for a bit before she all of a sudden became a mom of two! SO EXCITING. Her first born is exactly 6 months older than Holden, so we have been in the mom trenches together the last couple of years. It is so fun to see her add to her family, and also it just makes me see SO CLEARLY how far the newborn days are behind us. I am still so unsure on having baby # 2.

If life were completely impractical and we had no responsibilities and endless resources, I would probably have 25 kids! I have loved my experience with Holden so much! But in reality, I am 40, Garrett and I both work full time, daycare is expensive, and we are both only children so we each have a major comfort level with only 1 kiddo. It’s so hard to know what to do! It’s on my mind a lot. No decisions made on that front this weekend. :)

All in all, it was a lovely time. Too quick, of course, they always are. But a nice cozy, stormy weekend with some fun thrown in the mix too. Hope you all had a good one!

2018 Favorites + Words for 2019

 

best of 2018

 

Today I thought I would share some of my favorites from 2018 and talk a little bit about how I’m approaching goal setting in 2019. There is always good energy buzzing with change and possibility this time of year, but I think it’s important to acknowledge all the great things that happened. I’m not going to share an in depth retrospective or anything, but I thought I’d share some of my favorites from this past year. (No affiliate links included, just sharing for the sake of sharing.)

Books

Timehop reminded me yesterday that a few years ago I had only read 9 books and 7 of them I ranked as 1 or 2 Stars. LAME. While I only read 9 books again this year, most of them were 4-5 star reads to me. My favorites leaned toward non fiction. I loved Busy Philipps’ memoir This Will Only Hurt A Little. I listened to it on Audible and it was the perfect mix of juicy celebrity gossip + vulnerable human insights — both of which I need to have in order to love a celebrity memoir. Highly Recommend.

I also continue to think almost daily about Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam. It’s not just a book about hacks. It is a book that helps you examine the stories you tell yourself about your time, and how to reframe (or change) those stories so that your life feels more abundant and productive. Excellent, excellent read.

Music

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I’m including this for a laugh, as it is worth noting that my kid asks for the Top 5 songs to be played on repeat, which highly influenced this list. :) But it is what it is…this is what was playing most of the time when I had the music on. Both Garrett + I want to listen to more music this year — both old and new…as well as see more shows. It’s a hobby we used to share many moons ago, so hopefully we can get back into enjoying and sharing music.

Podcasts

Hands down, my favorite podcast this year was Best of Both Worlds. Great dialogue about practical tips for moms who also work outside the home. I have implemented a number of strategies/perspectives this year that I learned from this podcast. I always enjoy podcasts about real people talking about how they make their lives work.

A close second was Young House Love Has A Podcast. I hadn’t really kept up with John and Sherry Petersik in a long time and I am not quite sure what made me download their podcast, but it is a good combination of practical and fluff/fun so I enjoyed it quite a bit this year.

Purchases

The best thing we bought this year, was a new car for Garrett. He was still driving the 1998 white Subaru Legacy that his parents bought him in high school. I MEAN COME ON, IT WAS TIME!!!! (It had been time for years, but he just loved that dang car.)  :)  Guess what he bought?  A 2018 Subaru Legacy. HAHAHAHAHA This is my husband in a nutshell. But the car has been great for his commute, and he’s been enjoying all the technology upgrades. 2019 will be the year I get a new car as well, so that is exciting!

We also bought a dining room table from Costco and I have been so pleased with it!

Makeup Faves

I feel like 2018 was a good year for nailing down my absolute favorites when it comes to makeup. Here is the briefest overview of some of my holy grail favorites.

Foundation: Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation FOREVER (Monday through Friday.) And on the weekends I’m usually wearing IT Cosmetics CC Cream.

Concealer: Tarte Creaseless Under Eye Concealer or Estee Lauder Double Wear Concealer

Blush: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush (Mood Exposure, Luminous Flush and Dim Infusion are my go-tos.)

Bronzer: Marc Jacobs O!Mega Coconut Bronzer in Tantastic

Eyeshadows: Viseart FOREVER AND EVER AMEN. I have many of their palettes and the quality is so, so good!

Experiences

Getting away with my family to Humboldt County for my 40th birthday for sure! Also our weekender to Napa. Pre-kiddo, Garrett and I were all about the quick weekenders throughout California. I hope to incorporate more of that in 2019.

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Themes for 2019

So with all that said — what will 2019 look like from a goals perspective? I’m not quite sure exactly yet. There are so many fun ways people talk about their approaches to goals at this time of year – Lists, Categories, Words of the Year, Challenges, Box Checking. If you know me at all, you know I love all of these things. For the last two years, I haven’t made any goals. It’s felt too daunting to do anything except to just keep swimming. This year I think I have the bandwidth to be more intentional and more focused. I’m not sure exactly how I’ll “measure” that, or how I will share that here, but I’ve had a few words swimming around in my head about what I want 2019 to feel like.

Consistent. I want to show up for myself with respect to self-care. This includes everything from diet and exercise to getting my hair cut. I want to consistently keep the focus on caring for myself. Also I want to consistently show up: for friends, in this space, with my husband and child. You get where I’m going right? :)

 

Collaborative. I want to lean into relationships, old and new. I want to continue to feed the communities I am apart of, as well find new ones.

Evolving. I hope to spend this year learning and changing and I anticipate my family will learn and change just based on the fact that we have a two year old and EVERYTHING IS A PHASE. So I know in December things will look different. I think the reason “evolve” resonates with me is that I don’t want things to feel hectic, and disruptive. I want to flow with the changes and slowly develop. Does that makes sense? Am I sounding like a lunatic?

So that’s the plan. (Or the lack of plan? I reserve the right to incorporate detailed lists as the year goes on. hahah)  What are you all working on for 2019? And if you feel so inclined, share with me some of your favorites from the last year.

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