A Wedding Update Seems Like A Good Idea

I know wedding updates should be saved for Wednesdays because then I could title this Wedding Wednesday and everything would be cutesy and I could feign coordination and organization and FORETHOUGHT and stuff, but that is really not how I am rolling with wedding planning so far. I thought maybe we could just have some real talk instead.

I am being a real pill about planning this wedding. I’m focusing on how stressful everything is, how expensive it is, how many tedious freaking things I have to make decisions on that I DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT. How everyone feels invited to share their opinions on how things should or shouldn’t be, while simultaneously saying “But do it for yourself! This is YOUR wedding.”

All of it has been…a lot, and I’m going to be very honest and say I haven’t enjoyed it too much yet. I’ve been having nightmares about showing up on the day of and forgetting to hire a caterer. I’ve been catching the tiniest blemish in the mirror and berating myself for how unphotogenic I will surely be. Worst of all, I have let this feeling of silent resentment build up when I’m adding to my excel spreadsheet of wedding related tasks after a long day of work and Garrett is lounging on the couch or reading a book. I’ve been a real joy to be around, as you can imagine.

But I started marinating on that exact word this weekend: JOY.

This should be a joyful time.

This *is* a joyful time.

I am marrying my partner in crime, who I love to pieces and we have the means and the time to plan a celebration that has our friends and family actually willing to organize their schedules around. We have people who are excited FOR us, and invested in all of the steps in between. No small thing — and definitely worth gratitude. But I haven’t been acting that way.

I should also mention, if we’re talking about things I am grateful for, this relationship by itself. For ten years it has kept me sane and laughing and entertained and challenged and growing, so I guess it is fitting that I am doing all of those things when planning this wedding.

But here I was sitting at the kitchen table staring at a spreadsheet with a scowl on my face rolling my eyes about tasks and to-do lists and obligations and how women TOTALLY get the short end of the stick with wedding planning and baby-making and GOD IT’S ALL JUST SO UNFAIR I COULD CRY.

When I type that out I feel embarrassed. Embarrassed that I even had all those emotions or that I’ve been going on like this for months. That all of this is my wedding planning story. But I thought a lot about why I am focusing on the negative and the stress instead of the joy, and what do you know — METAPHOR FOR LIFE, ALERT — I think I just I really, really don’t like doing things that I feel I’m not very good at.

And sure, that makes sense. But first of all WHO SAYS I’M NOT GOOD AT THIS??? And second (and more important) how crappy would it be to let this incredibly special and unique time in my life go by being pissed off, when really I’m just kind of scared I’ll make a mistake.

NOW THAT’S JUST SILLY.

On Friday night I had a little Come-To-Jesus conversation with myself where I mostly said, “Self, THIS IS A JOYFUL TIME! And you are allowed to enjoy it even if you are unsure. Also: you are allowed to ask for help. But you are the one who has to choose to be positive, even when you’re freaked out, SO DO IT.” I think the conversation went well, because there was no talking back, you know? :)

On Saturday morning, while having a serious case of the anxiety sweats (AWESOME) I went wedding dress shopping with my mom and my aunt. It was a bit of a turning point because you all there is no better word to describe it than JOYFUL. We had such a great day, it was so easy and effortless. And it really felt like something to be grateful for.

I kept reminding myself, we have a venue we are so stoked about. We have a photographer that we connected with so well we don’t feel nervous. And we have plenty of time before September to iron out all the other details.

So Saturday afternoon I let myself enjoy playing a little bit of dress up and found a dress that — what do you know, looks nothing like any of the dress inspiration I had pinned before hand. It’s not “simple” or “understated” or “classy” or “casually elegant.” All the words that rolled off my lips when I walked in.

It’s freaking bejeweled and sexy and completely different then anything I would have picked off a rack and most important, I FELT LIKE A MILLION BUCKS IN IT! (Which, in the end was good, since that’s just about what it cost! LOL) Hell, I even tried on a veil moments after saying to the girl helping me “I’m totally NOT a veil kind of girl?”

“Just try it on for you mom,” she said. And so I did.

AND THEN I FREAKING BOUGHT IT BECAUSE IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!

And while I thought I wasn’t a veil-girl, I am TOTALLY an accessories girl, and Coco Chanel can just shove it in this instance because I’m going to add ONE MORE accessory instead of removing one. I mean, how many times does one really have an excuse to accessorize like that, right?

Afterward, the 3 of us ladies went out to lunch and just had the best time. A joyous time, even. And I think from here on out, I’m focused on letting that continue.

Well this feels surreal...

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Whole 30 Grocery Haul — Week Two

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Today started our second full week on the Whole 30, and as promised I’m sharing what we spend each week on groceries. (You can find our Week One list right here, where we spent a total of $65.66.)

Last week, in addition to that haul, I did go to the store to buy a red bell pepper which cost me a whopping $2.08 (in addition to two hours of my life) so I really tried to ensure that I wouldn’t have to make a second trip this week. I went to three stores (eep!) but we needed a good variety of stuff and I try to shop at the store that sells the products we buy for the cheapest price.

For breakfast this week I made breakfast boxes as per usual (example of what I’m talking about here) and filled them with roasted brussels sprouts, hard boiled eggs (ugh, peeling egg shells!) and made my own sausage. (Link stolen from Beth who has a great blog you should totally check out.)

For lunches I made a huge batch of Paleo Minestrone for me and for Garrett I made boxes filled with roasted kale and Trader Joe’s grass fed beef burgers.

Dinners, again, will be a mix of protein and veg that I’ll document on Instagram, but I did make a batch of Rogan Josh and Greek Beef Stew because we picked up some stew meat. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s how all the shopping broke down:

Trader Joe’s

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I loaded up on produce at Trader Joe’s because they have some things I enjoy (shredded brussles, what what!) and some convenience stuff that is still compliant. (WOOT!) Here’s a list of what we got:
Zucchini, Squash, 8 Vegetable Mix, Mushrooms, Shredded Brussels Sprouts, Curry Simmer Sauce, Cabbage, Kale, Leeks, Cauliflower, Garlic Sauce, Apples, GrassFed Burgers (Frozen), Ground Turkey, Salsa, Guacamole, Olives, Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash, Jalapenos, Snow Peas, Bananas

Trader Joe’s Total: $80.13

Costco

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While I was at Trader Joe’s I sent Garrett to Costco with a list. Unfortunately it was not specific enough (you know how this goes sometimes, right ladies? :)) So we generally buy the Organic Ground Beef from Costco which is about $4.99/lb and comes 4.5 lbs to a package.

I guess Garrett wasn’t paying attention because he came home with regular ground beef. No big deal. This is as good of a time as any to point out that Whole 30 isn’t only about buying the most expensive meat and produce you can find.

I think sometimes people have the misunderstanding that Whole 30 means you must buy the absolutely best and cleanest possible ingredients. Sure, that would be great, but that’s not always in everyone’s budget. Here’s a handy dandy guide to what is Good-Better-and-Best that I’ve found helpful in the past. If you want to try a Whole 30 but think you can’t afford expensive produce and meat, I’d definitely take a look at that.

This week we’ll just drain the fat off the ground beef and roll with it.

We also picked up stew meat, eggs and brussels sprouts.

Costco Total: $57.01

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WEEK TWO GRAND TOTAL: $137.14

As you can see we had to stock up on some protein this week so we spent more than last week, which is reasonable. We will probably have to do this a bit next week as well because last week we finished up our shrimp and andouille sausage stash. We still have a few packages of chicken thighs, but after that our freezer meats are basically used up.

So far for two weeks worth of Whole 30 grocery shopping we’ve spent $204.88, which seems mighty reasonable to me for 40+ meals. That’s all for this week. Hope this has been helpful in some way!

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Fun Things To Read On A Friday

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Happy Friday, you all! WE MADE IT!

I really really need a weekend. Yesterday I was working from home and decided to take advantage of that “flexibility” and run up to the grocery store at 10:30 am (right before a conference call) and grab a red bell pepper for lunch because we only had green ones on hand. (I was allowing myself a diva moment since we are Whole 30’ing.)

When I got back in my car it was COMPLETELY DEAD in the parking lot and I only had 20 minutes until my conference call. Thank god I only live about a mile from the store so I could run home (in flip flops, awesome!) to get to it…AND THEN HEAD BACK TO THE STORE TO DEAL WITH CAR DRAMA. Needless to say my day went down much differently than I thought it would and today I am playing catch up.

Weekend: I NEED YOU!

Guess what I’m doing tomorrow? Going wedding dress shopping. That should be…an event. I have no expectations and I’m sort of anxiously looking forward to it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Now, onto some things that piqued my interest this week on the internet:

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*I am very intrigued by this salad dressing. Think it may have to show up on the meal plan this week.

*Ebola > Small Talk? Hmmm…I kind of agree.

*A relatively easy way to organize your Instagram photos if you are feeling like they need some tidying.

*It’s better than heroin.

*Great sports bra suggestions for how to tame big tatas.

*I continue to love reading people’s takes on the changing of the blogosphere.

*Remaking yourself every ten years? Now that I think about it, that sounds about right.

*I didn’t get around to posting a What I Ate Wednesday this week but my friend Sarah did and there are some intriguing looking recipes there. Check it out!

*****

Hope all of you have great weekends too!

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Read // Watched // Listened : JANUARY

With lots of wedding, work and life stuff going on this year I’m trying to make an effort at penciling in some good downtime. (So Necessary!)

Here’s some of my downtime favorites from last month.

READ

Big-Little-Lies-By-Liane-Moriarty

You guys I FINALLY FINISHED A FREAKING BOOK! I used to be an avid reader but in 2014 I only read 4 books. I was starting to think I’d forgotten how to finish books. Big Little Lies kept my interest from start to finish, was a unique little mystery, and kept me so entertained I bought the kindle version so I could always have it with me. Two thumbs up!

I’ve also been cracking this book open quite a bit this month but it’s in no way as fun as the first.

WATCHED

We watched a ton of fun things on TV this month (especially sports) because we were breaking in our new television. WOOT! It’s funny, when we first got it I totally thought it was gaudy and ridiculous and now one month in I think it’s looks just perfect. Funny ow that happens (Garrett is relieved!)

Good luck jersey officially donned. It's time to get SERIOUS.

We watched spent A LOT of time cheering in front of the TV watching Ohio State football:

Who knew Diddy and I were on the same page about so many things.  #GoBucks #WhosHotWhosNot

But we also managed a little nostalgic trip down memory lane by watching the entire Back to the Future trilogy.

We're watching Back to the Future Part 2. Looks like we've about 10 months to figure out flying cars.

The first one happened to be on TV one Saturday morning and we got sucked into it. Then that evening we had to bust out the DVD boxed set just because it was so cute!

My other TV obsession in January:

vanderpump

Don’t judge.

Even Garrett is into it and recently as we were watching it on that freaking giant television he looked over at me and said “This might be my favorite show on tv right now.” And that, my friends, is the definition of marital compromise.

LISTENED

Came home from getting a mani/pedi and Garrett had left me a note some "presents" on the table. Lip gloss and Taylor Swift are TOTALLY my love language!

I listened to a whole metric ton of T-Swift in January — so much so that Garrett finally bought me the album. I don’t even remember the last time I bought an actual, physical cd! This one is totally worth it though — so so good!

I could also listen to this on repeat, no problem:

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Anything you read // watched // listened to that you are dying to share?

*****some links above are affiliate

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Whole 30 Grocery Haul – Week One

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Welcome to my first Whole 30 Grocery Haul!

I love seeing what staples other people buy at the grocery store so I thought it might be fun to share mine while we are doing this Whole 30. More fun — I’ll show you how much we spent. I shared how I save money doing a Whole 30 yesterday so I thought I’d also show you throughout the month what the actual spending looks like.

A few things to note:

*We had some veggies I wanted to use up this week (zucchini, green beans, squash, baby carrots and a head of cauliflower and a bag of kale) and the freezer was pretty full of protein so I meal planned this week to use what we had on hand.

*For breakfast we’re eating frittatas with chorizo, kale and black olives. For lunches I made chili. For dinners, it’s just meat and veg every night in different varieties. I’ll try and share some meals over on Instagram so you can see specifically what we’re eating.

*As we go through the month we’ll DEFINITELY buy more protein, so don’t worry — I didn’t just stock up on protein the week before we started tracking and then am all of a sudden going to be like “See…wee only spend a few dollars.” No ma’am. We’ll definitely need to buy ground beef next week for sure and I’m sure at the end of the month we’ll still have usable stuff in the freezer, so you’ll see how all of that balances out at the end.

*As for pantry/freezer stock other than protein, I always have cans of tuna, cooking fats, and random bags of frozen veggies for when we need quick meals. I may or may not have to restock those things during the course of the month, but I’d be restocking them regardless of a Whole 30 so I don’t think it will be a huge budget swing.

*At the end of the month maybe I’ll get real crazy and break down our spending by veg/protein/fat and give you a price per meal.

So after all that — here’s what we bought.

WHOLE FOODS

Chorizo
Eggs
Shredded Carrots
Kale
Potatoes (YESSSS! This is our first Whole 30 since potatoes got the green light!)
Grapes
Coconut Milk
Avocados

What we spent: $35.28

RALEYS

Hard Boiled Eggs
Jalapenos
Red Onions
Celery
Green Onions
Green + Yellow Peppers
Fizzy Water

What we spent: $30.38

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WEEK ONE GRAND TOTAL: $65.66

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How I Save Money Doing A Whole 30

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Last Saturday I put together a meal plan for this month’s Whole 30 and headed off to Whole Foods and Raleys (our local supermarket) to pick up some groceries for this week’s eats. I find it super helpful to have a meal plan so I can make sure I have all the ingredients I will need on hand to cook all of my meals.

SIDEBAR ON MEAL PLANNING: I loosely schedule my meals on certain days based on what’s going on with work (long days = crock pot meals) or my workouts (evening workouts = quick meals where morning workouts allow for more time consuming dinners) but I’m not militant about it.

For example, I may schedule Taco Salad on Monday but if I get home and am more in the mood for coconut lime shrimp, it’s easy to change things up on the fly because I have ensured I have all the ingredients on hand because I made a meal plan, ya know? There’s nothing worse than getting home from a long day at work, starting to cook a dinner that sounds good and then missing an ingredient. UGH!

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Anyway, I mentioned last week that when we do a Whole 30 we usually spend less money on food. Some of you seemed surprised by that, so I thought I’d share a few of the reasons why:

1. I’m not buying any booze.

It’s not like during the other 335 days a year we are going bankrupt on the booze aisle or anything, but usually on the weekends we’ll mix up a specialty cocktail or grab a bottle of wine that looks good and is on sale at the grocery store. These little things add up, and I don’t do this type of impulse purchasing at all when we are doing a Whole 30.

2. I’m not buying snack/treat type foods

When doing a Whole 30 those Hail Merry Macaroons don’t seem to mysteriously hop in my Whole Foods cart like they do at times when I’m perusing the store. I am not tempted to pick up Glutino crackers and Cambezola on a Friday night as a little appetizer and I’m not keeping my favorite Krave (super awesome gluten free) Jerky around the house for snacking. There’s nothing wrong with those foods in moderation, but over 30 days, my spending on fancy cheese definitely decreases.

3. I’m not eating as much and not feeding my cravings

In real life, as I let sugar sneak into my diet here and there, I find that I need to snack every few hours. Generally when doing a Whole 30, because I’m very focused on balancing an abundance of vegetables, meat and healthy fats I feel very satiated. I literally find that about 10-12 days in I’m even eating smaller portions. Our food literally stretches further and I’m not craving a snack a couple of hours after I eat. All of those things have a downstream effect on our food budget.

4. We eat out less
This one sort of speaks for itself. We actually don’t eat out too often anyway, but a lunch here or there at work, weekend dinners when we don’t feel like cooking — all of that adds up.

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Anyway, with all that in mind, I thought it might be fun to document our grocery spending this month so you can see what we spend where. Tomorrow I’ll post our first Whole 30 Grocery Haul — what we shelled out and what we brought home. I thought this might be a fun peek inside our grocery habits this month and may give you some encouragement if you are afraid to do a Whole 30 just because you think it will cost a million dollars. We’ll see how it goes!

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Weekend Recap: Naps, Eating Dirty + Super Bowl Smack Talk

Happy February! And for us, Happy Whole 30!

We thought about starting yesterday, but who starts a Whole 30 on Super Bowl Sunday?
Richard Sherman
Yeah, that’s about how we felt about starting on 2/1

We did watch the Super Bowl on Sunday but I’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s rewind back to Friday, shall we? I don’t know about you but when I was young Friday night was my favorite night of the week. I was always excited because it was a fun night to go out and it was the start of the weekend.

These days on Friday nights I usually work out, head home, cook dinner and then all I can think about is how comfy my couch is! Garrett sent my mom this photo on Friday night around 9pm and just captioned it #MyFridayNight — Clearly Buster and I are PARTY ANIMALS!
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Saturday I was up bright and early to hit up a 7 am spin class and to get all my errands done. I’ve had “Wash Car” on my To Do List for weeks but I just hadn’t gotten it done so on Saturday I was determined. I ran around most of the afternoon grocery shopping and doing other random things so when I got home I decided I would take advantage of a decadent Saturday afternoon and get in bed and read. Buster and I accidentally ended up taking naps though. NO REGRETS!
We decided we could both use a nap.
Buster and I love sleep like Buddy the Elf loves smiling

Saturday night we had an official date night. My friend Sarah was performing at her graduation from an improv class she’s been taking. How bad ass is that? She is quick witted and completely hysterical, so improv totally suits her.
For the record @homesweetsarah kills it at improv!
Sarah explaining how she’d been thrown into Mall Jail for being 31 but shopping at Forever 21. Funny friends are the best friends, I tell ya!

Afterward we headed down the street to a very hipester-y joint called LowBrau for dinner where I had to order one of the things they are famous for — the Dirty Duck Fries. They are epic. And why not wash them down with some mini-corn dogs?
Duck Fat Fries? Mini Corn Dogs? I mean, What else do you need?
#EatDirty #DirtyEats #WaitWhenIsMyWhole30

Sunday was another early morning Spin class. Garrett + I have been enjoying weekend spin classes at a studio that is literally 5 minutes from our house. It’s just kind of a fun way to wake up on the weekends and sneak in a quick calorie burner. Which, ya know, comes in handy on Super Bowl Sunday. :) Did you guys watch?

We were rooting for the Patriots mostly because we are 49ers fans which means we absolutely COULD NOT root for the Seahawks – sorry Seattle friends! The other thing tipping the scales in the Patriots’ favor is Gronk.
gronk
#SorryNotSorry

But aside from the game I was also interested in the halftime show and the commercials (duh!) Watching Katy Perry made me realize how limited your performance options are if you are a pop star who can’t dance. That must be kind of hard. But bringing Missy Elliot back was the highlight of the show I thought. She’s my fave! (This BuzzFeed post about her made me laugh.)

As for the commercials, I thought they were mostly fun. I was really excited to see the Nationwide commercials (since that’s my company) but haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I guess they are really testing out the theory that there is no bad press. I’m interested to see what work is like today. :)

How were your weekends? Do anything fun? How did you feel about the Super Bowl/Halftime show/Commercials? Do tell….

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Things I’m Thinking About AKA Bullets About Why We’re Doing A February Whole 30

Asian Pork Salads #yum #leftovers #hollydoesdinner

*We’re doing a February Whole 30. I know I told you that in the title, but you know — I thought I’d just reiterate for clarity. :)

*Well, a Whole 30+. We are going to start in February and go until March 9. What is March 9, you ask? Our engagement photos. And the second we set the date Garrett was like “Hey, let’s Whole 30!” ha! He says he feels chubby. He is NOT chubby.

*Upside though, is I like the idea of feeling bright eyed and being clear skinned in those photos and all, so I agreed. Knowing my luck I’ll still wake up the day of with a giant, visible blemish.

*Sidebar: Do you think there is a wedding planning gene? If so, mine clearly has a mutation. My mom said to me the other day that this wedding I am planning almost seemed like a second job. And YES, MOTHER YOU ARE CORRECT! It totally is! Except instead of getting paid I get to PAY OTHER PEOPLE. #grumble

*So, I know there are people out there who use Whole 30 as a diet (ahem, Garrett – YOU’RE BUSTED!) which is all controversial and stuff, but I promise you I am not doing that. What I am making no secret of doing though, is using the Whole 30 as a budgeting tool. We always spend SO MUCH LESS on groceries when we do a Whole 30 and since groceries are one of our biggest expenses it’s always something that shows a noticeable return. After making deposits on all sorts of wedding related crap and a MUCHO EXPENSIVO trip to the vet with Buster, February seemed like a GREAT time to just Whole 30 that shit up! YAY. More money to spend on a wedding! #grumblegrumble

*Tangentially related: I’m thinking about jumping on the What I Ate Wednesday bandwagon. I actually don’t think it is a bandwagon at all, but you know what I mean — sharing some everyday photos of what I’ve been eating. I like the idea for accountability (this is where people who don’t blog are like — YOU TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR FOOD? whut? WHY?) But also to inspire a little creativity in the kitchen.

*Oh! Oh! And this is my other reason for doing a Whole 30 — I find when I have parameters to work within, I am SO MUCH MORE creative. This makes me sound RULL SQUARE. But alas, it is true! Right now I’m in a bit of a cooking rut. We’re having good meals, but I’m not like, excited or jazzed about too many of them. It’s just kind of the Greatest Hits on repeat. I am someone who likes cooking to be a creative outlet and usually when I do a Whole 30 I get jazz-hands-obnoxious about recipes and trying new things. Also there’s the added bonus that about 15 days in even super boring/plain food tastes AMAZEBALLS (yeah, I just used that word) because my taste buds are back to normal.

*But let’s be honest, some weeks it is hard enough for me to even just get here and post bullet pointed lists of my thoughts. So to remember to be creative in the kitchen, take pictures and post them once a week may be a tad ambitious. We shall see.

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Anyone else doing a February Whole 30?

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Thursday Things

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*Well I have joined the rest of popular culture and begun playing Trivia Crack. And just like that — there goes many potentially productive hours of my life because holy hell, that is F-U-N! (P.S. Come find me – Let’s Play!)

*What are we all watching on Netflix lately? I have an entire Sunday ahead of me with not a thing to do. I think I may stay in my PJs all day and watch movies (not sure if I can commit to starting a new TV show.) Any suggestions?

*We hired a wedding photographer! I’m so excited. We’re totally going to be those obnoxious people who take engagement photos with their dog. The more vendors we nail down the more I feel like this party is actually going to happen. Now, onto a caterer.

*We have also purchased ALL THE BOOZE from Costco in the recent past, so we are on point for having a good wedding bar, ha! They have had some amazing post-holiday markdowns lately and we’ve just kept pouncing.
Prosecco for days! The wedding stockpiling has begun. If you need a drink, come to my garage.

*Buster’s cuddle quotient is so high in the winter. It’s like all he wants to do is lay all over Garrett and I and I’ll tell you what I am not complaining.

Mid-day snuggles!

*If you’ve been reading for any length of time you know that I always cut my hair (because I like the way it looks short) and then complain incessantly because I can’t put it up into a ponytail when I work out. Short hair for me is awesome, yet un-functional. So I’m in a non-snipping phase lately and the other day I pulled my hair up into a ponytail and the ponytail itself measured 6.5 inches. (Yes I did make Garrett pull out a tape measure. It was a totally useful way to spend time. ha) This blows my mind for some reason.

*We’re going to a “Roaring 20s” Crab Feed this weekend so I think I may have to resurrect my 50 Cent Flapper costume. Man that turned out to be useful Amazon purchase. Who knew?
Any fun plans for YOU this weekend?

*****

Happy “Baby Friday” Y’all!

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What We’re Eating This Week: Freezer Food Ideas

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This week’s highlight: Blurry Football Selfie Celebrating the Buckeye win! WOOT!

Garrett was out of town last weekend and instead of relaxing and just enjoying my alone time I ran 900 million errands and cooked enough food for an entire town. Our freezer is overflowing. I have a tendency to do things like that when I have a long stretch of free time ahead of me, and then I get to Sunday night and I’m like “Wait what, I have to go back to work? BUT WHERE WAS MY BUBBLE BATHING AND COUCH LAYING TIME?”

It turns out this week has been (somewhat unexpectedly) busy, so even though I didn’t relax a ton this weekend I am so freaking happy to have so much ready to eat food in my fridge. I made some yummy stuff and thought I would share because most of them are good recipes for batch cooking and popping in the freezer or for just enjoying throughout the week – ALREADY COOKED!

***I made a batch of Mel’s Persian Spiced Winter Vegetable Soup and it might be the thing that made my kitchen smell the best all weekend! Onions, garlic and butternut squash softening in ghee is about the most blissful thing ever. And that’s before you add in all the spice deliciousness.
Persian Soup

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The only change I made was upping the Aleppo Pepper to 4 teaspoons because we are crazy people who love spicy/hot food. We ate this for dinner on Monday night with some crisped up kielbasa chunks on top to make it a meal. This recipe is a 10 and would freeze beautifully and we ate it while watching Ohio State trounce Oregon. Besides tasting good this soup might also be a good luck charm! :) (A few people have asked me why we Californians love Ohio State so much. It’s a family thing – this is Garrett’s grandpa’s brother so his family has a lot of OSU pride that has rubbed off on me.)

***I also had 4 lbs of stew meat on hand so I used half of it to make AndreAnna’s Asian Orange Beef. I’ve sung the praises of this recipe so many times (it’s an all time favorite of Garrett’s) and we usually either make cauliflower rice or roast cauliflower like we did last night because it pairs so well. I add an extra yellow onion to the simmer, use mandarin oranges in a jar from Costco as well as add a few Tablespoons of red pepper flakes because, again WE LOVE THE HEAT. It’s bomb diggity!

asian beef

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***With the other 2 lbs of stew meat I tried a new (to me) recipe for Slow Cooker Garlic and Rosemary Beef Stew. I was stranded at home for a bit on Saturday because I had to wait for AAA to come replace my VERY DEAD battery in my car so while I was waiting I browned the meat and got it all crockpot ready.

Rosemary-Garlic-Beef-Stew-front

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It was a quick assembly but when it was finished cooking it was a little bit…gray? The flavor was SUPER good though so I salvaged it by adding some Kitchen Boquet. I feel like the fact that I own (and occasionally use) this product is some sort of culinary crime, but we’re all friends here so I’m just going to tell you I sprinkled a few drops in and it turned my stew the perfect brown. I obviously prefer a stovetop/oven but desperate times, you know. Like I said, the flavor was great!

***Lastly, I made a completely unhealthy, completely comfort food dish which I know is just so not a “January” thing to do but I could not resist. On Christmas Eve my aunt makes this really delicious (completely non-paleo) lasagna that everyone just dies over. She sent me the recipe in the mail and I happened to grab the mail on my way to the grocery store on Sunday. When I opened the envelope, my impulsive nature reared its head and I was like “I’m making a gluten free version of this IMMEDIATELY.” And I did.
Lasagna

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I would actually call myself someone who DISLIKES lasagna. It’s just never all that great to me, but for some reason this lasagna recipe is life changing. Now I wouldn’t call it nutritious at all, but sometimes you just have to live a little. I gave some to Garrett in his lunch on Monday and right about noon he sent me this:
Untitled

*As the icing on the cake I baked this Ground Beef and Spinach Egg Casserole but I used pork because we had some on hand. Still delightful!

I also mixed up some smoked salmon salad with tons of celery and Sir Kensington’s Chipotle Mayo. Yeah, you need to run out and pick some of THAT up, lemme tell ya. I am also not a fan of mayonnaise (unless it’s homemade) so we rarely have it in our fridge but I picked this up on a whim at Whole Foods since Juli is always raving about it and I feel like it doesn’t even taste like mayonnaise. It’s more like a chipotle sauce and now I want it ON EVERYTHING. #WORTHTHEHYPE #AMAZEBALLSWITHSALMON

*****

So that’s a wintery little dose of the freezer food we’ve got cooking up lately.

What kind of hearty dishes are happening in your kitchen?

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