Currently – The February Edition

Coconut Sugar Cookies from Foolproof Living

Happy Day After Valentine’s Day!  I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day — love and pink and hearts are so nice.  My sister and I started the day with a 6 AM workout class, I got to visit with my mom and dad, and my boyfriend and I ended the day with a giant pizza and a bit of dessert.  Pretty perfect if you ask me!

Lately I’m …

Eating:  Last week, I made this slow cooker pernil from The Noshery.   It was delicious — I added in a bit of homemade sofrito to the overnight marinade.  Because it’s a slow cooker dish, the roast is missing some of the crispiness of an oven-baked roast, but the flavor is so good.  We served it over rice and in Cuban sandwiches!  This week we had these chicken shawarma bowls from Half-Baked Harvest, which are always such winners.  The recipe looks more complicated than it is — you have to make it.  (Side note:  Half-Baked Harvest‘s author, Tieghan, is currently at the Olympics to support her brother, who has already won a gold!)

Reading:  I’m waiting for my library to add Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship as an eBook, then I will be all over it.  My sister recommended it to me recently because it sounds right up my alley.  Also, I’m over here with a girl crush on Christine from C’est Christine and it has a lot to do with her totally reasonable and responsible approach to saving and spending.

Wearing:  Just before the end of January, I got myself a new pair of running shoes.  I’m a big believer in being professionally fitted for running shoes — making sure you’ve got the right support in the right places is so important!  But I’d been putting off a new fitting for a while, despite the fact that my feet and knees had been really been bothering me.  I’m so glad I finally got around to doing it because my new shoes are a game-changer.  And my feet are soooooooo thankful!  (So here’s your nudge to do something you’ve been putting off for too long.)

Trying:  Speaking of running shoes, I am about halfway through Hal Higdon’s novice 5K training program.  I’ve run plenty of 5Ks before, but I haven’t run regularly for a long time, so the novice has been just what I needed to get back into the habit.  I’ve tried other training plans and apps, but I always come back to Hal’s.

What are you loving lately?

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Tip Tuesday – From Meal Plan to Grocery List

Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLTs from Joy the Baker

I am trying to be better about meal planning.  For so long, I was in the habit of coming home and just making a giant salad because I hadn’t planned or shopped for anything specific.  I love a good salad, but it got boring and probably wasn’t checking all the right nutritional boxes.  For the past few months, especially during my Whole30, I’ve been refining my meal planning routine and I’ve hit on a system that works really well for me.  Since I know weekly meal planning and grocery shopping can be tough for everyone, I thought I’d share how I get mine done …

Step 1:  Browse for ideas!

On Saturday mornings, I sit down with my recipes.  I have my notebook of old favorite recipes, my food Pinterest boards, and my list of go-to no-recipe meal ideas open.  I flip and scroll through the pages, looking for recipes that sound especially yummy in that moment.  As ideas jump out at me, I make a list (in my Google Keep) of options.  (I really only do this for dinners.)

Step 2:  Assign the meals to the days of the week.

Don’t get bent out of shape at the word “assign” — this is flexible!  I like to map out the order of my planned meals for a couple reasons.  First, my weekdays differ drastically because most days I work from home, but I do work from the office for a day or two.  On my work-from-home days, I don’t mind making a more complicated dinner because I’m not commuting, emotionally drained from being the office (introvert!), etc.  But on office days, I like to keep meals simple so I’m not starting a dinner masterpiece at 7 PM.  Second, leftovers are lunch in my house!  I like to plan for big(ger) batch meals earlier in the week so there are lots of leftover choices as the week progresses.

So I assign the meals, picking the ideas that work best with the upcoming week’s schedule, and understanding that things might move around depending on how the week actually goes.

Step 3:  Combine the ingredients in a grocery list.

I copy and paste the entire ingredient lists from my online recipes into my Google Keep grocery list.  Then I type up the entire ingredient lists from my hard copy recipes into that list.  This way I have everything in one place.  I feel pretty strongly about copying the exact ingredient lists because quantity matters!  There’s a big difference between needing a pound of chicken tenders and needing three pounds of chicken tenders.  It would really suck to buy four cups of vegetable broth only to find out, in the middle of dinner prep, that your soup actually called for eight.  (This is might not be the most efficient way to go from recipes to grocery list, but it works for me and ensures that I don’t miss anything!)

Step 4:  Clean up the grocery list.

After I have my giant list made, I clean it up.  I remove things like salt, pepper, and olive oil, which I always have on hand unless it’s a re-stock week!  I add up the quantities of the same ingredient if it appears across different recipes.  I comb my kitchen, checking for required ingredients, making adjustments to quantities if I already have a portion of an ingredient, removing things I already have, and making judgment calls if I have things to use up or substitute.

Step 5:  Add in the staples.

There are things I need every week, whether I’m making a specific recipe or not.  My breakfasts aren’t particularly exciting, so I shop for the same items each week.  I like to keep La Croix around, so I always stock up.  Once I have the list made for the recipes I’ve chosen, I make sure to go back and add in the day-to-day regulars that I know I always want.

Step 6:  Reorder the list.

I shop at the same store (or two) each week.  It might seem a little silly, but I like to arrange my shopping list items to match the flow of my store.  That way, when I finally get myself to do the actual shopping, I can just check things off section-by-section instead of flitting between all corners of the store.  Occasionally I have to back-track for something I missed, but most of the time I can move through the store once and get everything I need.  (Because I do all my list-making in Google Keep, this is easy because I can just drag and drop items to reorder.  If I made a handwritten list, I wouldn’t rewrite it.  I might color-code it or something, but no rewriting.)

And that’s it:  six relatively simple steps that help me tackle a chore that used to really stump me!  I set aside an hour or so for the whole process and it can be (almost) fun.

Decor Daydreaming

Right in the middle of last year’s holiday season, I moved into a new apartment.  It’s beautiful but here we are, two months later, and it’s still kind of a mess.  Because moving is expensive and I don’t have the time, energy, or resources to get my apartment Pinterest-ready all at once, I’ve been doing some hardcore day dreaming and wishlist making.

The apartment has a big, open floor plan.  Once you enter the apartment, you round a corner and walk into a combined living space, with kitchen appliances on one wall, a giant kitchen island, and then a free-flowing living/dining room area.  On one side of the living space is my office, a small bathroom, and little porch.  On the other side is the master bedroom and bath.  And to top it off, the apartment is a corner unit, so all of our outer walls are floor-to-ceiling windows!

I’m a serious nester.  I like lamps and pillows and warm colors — I’m so hygge.  But I also can’t handle clutter!  So I’m trying to find a happy medium.

Kitchen:

from Pinterest

There’s not much to change in the kitchen area when it comes to decor, but a few tiny tweaks would be fun.  I think cute bar stools for the counter would be such a nice touch.  And if I could just learn to keep my counters clear of clutter, that’d be nice too!

Living Space:

Anna Bond’s Black-and-White Florida Home from A Cup of Jo
A Dreamy Paris Apartment from A Cup of Jo
from Pinterest
Inside the Stunning Los Angeles Home of Rue Magazine’s Managing Editor from The Everygirl

I love neutral living spaces that are anchored in darker pieces of furniture, but lightened up and softened with plants, throws, and pillows.  Cozy is my goal.

Office:

Our San Diego Apartment Tour! from C’est Christine
from Pinterest

I love these ideas for my office.  Right now it’s kind of doubling as a holding space for stuff that hasn’t yet found a home, but I hope to get it cleaned up and organized soon.  A few plants and a giant desk would make me so happy!

 Porch:

from Pinterest

Since the move happened right when it was getting cold, I’ve made no moves to decorate the porch.  It sits right off of the office and I can see the whole thing through the windows — I would like to make it really pretty to see from the inside of the apartment and keep it functional for morning coffees, reading, etc.

No shortage of ideas around here!  Maybe I’ll get around to this list soon.

A Month of Morning Workouts

Ashley Lemieux (@theshineproject) with Athleta

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been trying morning workouts for about a month and now I’ve got something to say …

I have always been a solid nighttime exerciser.  I rolled my eyes at the “life-changing magic” of morning workouts — whatever that magic was, it was not worth rolling out of bed well before the sun.  But my sister, who is also my workout buddy, decided that January would be the month of morning workouts (and because I’m too scared to go to classes by myself, I decided that too).  She figured that we could make it through a month of prioritizing morning classes and gym time, and that a month would be long enough for us to determine whether or not the morning magic worked on us.

It almost pains me to say this, but I think I’m a convert!  Sure, a 5 AM wake-up is rough, but it’s so nice to finish my work day and know that I don’t have to rush to a class.  Getting up an hour or two earlier to make my workout happen first thing has freed up my evenings and it is the best!

I’m still working on getting myself out of bed for at-home workouts, but I think I’ve mastered the whole thing if I’ve got a class to attend.  Here’s how I made morning classes work:

The buddy system!  I am so lucky to have a workout buddy and she has been a huge factor in my sticking to morning workouts.  If not for her, I am pretty sure I’d talk myself out of that 6 AM cycling class every time.  Plus, I think waking up when the whole world is still dark can be a bit lonely — knowing that my sister is waking up too makes it not so bad.

Lay out everything the night before.  And I mean everything.  It’s hard enough to get myself out of bed.  I wouldn’t dare trust my 5 AM self to gather everything I want for a class — I will not put on my watch, will forget my water bottle, and will maybe even wear the completely wrong shoes if I haven’t set everything out the night before.  I set out my clothes, from undies to jacket to ponytail holder, in the bathroom so all my getting ready can happen in the same place.  I put my water bottle and watch in my bag, with my car keys if I’ll need to drive, and put it by the front door.  In addition to ensuring that I don’t forget anything, this also hugely streamlines the whole process!

Set an alarm to wake up and another alarm for when you need to leave the house.  I try to wake up as late as I possibly can — I’ll take as much sleep as I can get!  Time slips away really quickly in the morning and it’s easy to suddenly realize that you should have left five minutes ago.  I always set an alarm to wake me and another to give me a three minute warning before the time I need to head out.  It removes a little bit of the stress around watching the clock.

Make cancellation and late/no-show policies work for you.  Most studios have late/no-show and cancellation fees.  Knowing that it’ll cost me to cancel or to be late/not show up is a huge motivator.  After a certain point (12 hours before the class if you’re on ClassPass), it’s pretty non-negotiable for me to attend and that’s a good thing!

It’s still not easy, but it used to seem impossible to make it to morning workouts regularly and now it’s absolutely doable.  I never thought I’d see the day!

What I Ate During My Whole30

Phew!  My Whole30 is over!  Well, kind of — I’m on day one of my reintroduction.  But the hardest part is done.

One of my goals for this Whole30 was to make recipes.  I survived my first couple resets with hodge-podge compliant foods thrown together in all kinds of ways.  By the end of those resets, I really missed cooking with a recipe and feeling like my food was mindfully crafted and flavored.  So I tried to choose and make a variety of actual recipes this time and I really liked a few!

CrockPot Shredded Buffalo Chicken from The Real Food Dietitians

I had this chicken all over the place!  I ate it on top of baked potatoes, tossed into hash browns under a fried egg for breakfast, and on its own as a quick and easy snack.  And a bonus for split Whole30/non-Whole30 households:  my boyfriend (who did not endure the Whole30 except by extension) liked it and used it in sandwiches too!  This chicken was a meal prep staple each week — it’s the perfect, low maintenance, thing to make on a Sunday afternoon so the rest of the week is easier.

Greek-Style Meatballs from the Whole30 Fast & Easy cookbook

My sister and I tried these meatballs (except we used beef instead of turkey) in the book’s salad recipe originally, but decided we liked them better in other dishes.  I have served them with various salads, over vegetable noodles, and as a breakfast meat alongside scrambled eggs.  If you make a double or triple batch, they’re a great meal prep shortcut because they’re very versatile.  (If you have the cookbook, you can find this recipe on page 25.)

Buffalo-Style Chicken Tenders from The Defined Dish

I love The Defined Dish — everything I’ve tried from Alex’s blog is delicious.  These chicken tenders seemed like they’d be a lot of work (ugh, breading things), but they’re really no big deal.  They baked up beautifully and were so yummy — just be sure to heavily spray your baking surface, even if it’s parchment paper or foil.  I served them with a Greek-ish salad, but also had the leftovers as a snack the next day.

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