Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Birthday Wish List

Well I've done it. I've managed to reach a milestone. The big 3-0 is here. I'm officially old and will probably pick up more old people habits from today forward. But since it's my birthday, here's what I want someone to buy me ...

1. I have decided I need an accent chair. I have no clue where to put this or what it's function aside from looking pretty would be, but I'm sure I could use this one or maybe this one.

2. We are still working on our landscaping, but I'm pretty sure this little guy needs to live in my yard.

3. No birthday wish list is complete without a way to keep track of being fit for the next year of your life. So could someone hook me up with this Garmin? I promise I'll work out more in my 30s!

4. I have an obsession with wedges. I wear an 8.5 and prefer the brown, please and thank you.

5. If you ask my husband he would tell you I have too many bags. But I know that can't be true. I'm sure this crossbody or this weekend bag would be very happy in rotation in my closet.

6. Let's fill the wine shelf (who am I kidding it's already full) with some yummy whites. I tend to pick my wine by the bottle label - it's way more fun that way. Skinny Vine sounds fun!

7. To continue on that healthy in my 30s kick, I'll need a yoga ball chair. No, but seriously, I've talked about getting one of these for work for the past year. Eventually I'll break down and buy one.

8. I could use some new clothes for fall as well. This sweater is super cute - check out the back detail!

9. I've been meaning to buy new throw pillows, could someone pick these up for me?

10. And finally, as I'm sure my bedtime will be moving up rapidly now that I hit 30, I'll need some nice sheets to sleep on. These should do just fine :)

Well that's a whole collection of randomness that I need want for my birthday. I can pass along my address so you can ship these right to my house. Thanks in advance for contributing to my birthday!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Meal Plan #35

This week's meal plan only has me cooking dinner 3 times. We are excited for a little road trip this weekend for Labor Day. I'm hoping we end up at King's Island for some roller coaster fun, but you never know with us. This is the one weekend we usually leave as an adventure and wait until the last minute to decide what to do. We should have it nailed down by Wednesday night where we will end up on Friday :)

So here is this week's short (but delicious!) meal plan ...

MONDAY: Chicken Ranch Pasta
Another one pot meal (this may be an addiction). But come on ... how good does that look?! And hardly any dishes - sign me up!

TUESDAY: Birthday Dinner!
It's my birthday, so let's celebrate!

WEDNESDAY: Breakfast Casserole
I'll be making a modified version of this crock pot casserole.

THURSDAY: Quesadillas
Just in case I don't pick Mexican for my birthday (which isn't very likely), we can't miss out on it for the week. This will be our meat free meal this week.

FRIDAY: On The Road!
We are starting our Labor Day weekend vacation early so no cooking at home tonight.

Friday, August 26, 2016

5 on Friday

I can't seem to manage any more than 2 posts a week lately. Things are just crazy busy and I don't feel as though I can put a complete thought into a blog post to show the world. For that reason, I am combining my "shit I'm turning 30" post and my "5 on Friday" post into one and giving you the 5 thoughts I have on having my birthday next week.

1. It's been nice the past 2 years to make fun of my husband for being older than me and in his 30s. I call him old, I feel good because I'm still in my 20s. Tuesday that all ends. I'm sure he is waiting to retaliate.

2. I feel like something happens when you hit 30. You have to become more responsible. I mean yeah, I have a house, kids, a dog, a job and all that. But somehow something magical happens at 30 and I'll become even more lame than I already am.

3. In some ways I still feel young. All the neighbors we have met and become friends with since moving are all 10-14 years older than me. But we all have kids the same age and are honestly in the same place in our lives. So I feel awkward bringing up my birthday when they are worried about celebrating 40.

4. Overall I work with a young group of people. Hitting 30 means I'm officially part of the "old" crowd at work. I can't keep up with these youngin's (pretty sure that's something only the older people say. Shit it's happening in already).

5. I'd be fine with turning 30 if it meant things could stay the same. But for some reason my hair up and decided to start turning grey because the big 3-0 was looming. #hellohairdye

I'm glad I'm in good company with others born in the classic year of 1986. For fun I pulled 5 things that happened in 1986 ...
  • Top Gun was the biggest box office hit
  • The Oprah Winfrey Show, ALF and PeeWee's Playhouse all debuted on TV
  • Halley's Comet made an appearance
  • "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco was the #1 single
  • Bears beat the Patriots in the Superbowl

Monday, August 22, 2016

Meal Plan #34

I spent the weekend stocking up the freezer with ready-to-go breakfast items. For the first time ... well, ever the kids are eating breakfast at home 7 days a week. They've always eaten at daycare Monday through Friday so I never had to buy a ton of breakfast foods or even think what to make for breakfast. I was the only one who ate breakfast a home (the husband doesn't eat before he goes to work). 

So keep things from getting too boring around here I'm filling up the freezer with all sorts of goodies. We have a big supply of waffles, pancakes, french toast sticks and breakfast burritos. 

Two weeks ago A was cleared of her egg allergy so she's excited to try eggs in her breakfast rotation. Take the freezer foods along with the standard cereal and toast options and we've got quite the selection for breakfast at our house now! If you have any suggestions of what else I can stock my freezer with for breakfasts, please let me know in the comments!

Here is what's for dinner this week ...

MONDAY: Salad & Potato Bar
All the fixin's to create your favorite salad and baked potato. 

Tacos on Taco Tuesday ... imagine that!

WEDNESDAY: One Pot Pasta
Another one pot meal - these are my favorite meals to make (next to crock pot meals of course!)

This is a freezer meal I have leftover, goes in the crock pot - EASY! This will be our meat free meal this week.

FRIDAY: Kebabs on the Grill
I may try these Fajita Chicken Kebabs - if I decide to make it quick and easy we'll just do traditional BBQ with onion and peppers.

Have a delicious week!

Friday, August 19, 2016

5 on Friday

1. I have successfully worked out all 5 days this work week. With me going into work later so I can get the girls on the bus, I decided to wake up at the exact same time I have been for the last however many years and go workout. Monday and Friday are running days, Tuesday and Thursday are biking days and Wednesday was an at home arm & back workout (I did this one from Glisten Fit if you are interested). I figure I'll switch it up each Wednesday with a different video work out that focuses on strength since my other days are cardio. #cardioismyjam

2. With all this working out, I'm going to need to invest in more workout clothes. Maybe I'll pick up this baby for only $14. And I'm a sucker for a cute graphic tank. And for only $8 I'll probably grab these shorts. Any other suggestions?

3. This Indiana weather has me all thrown off. We were sitting in the 90s the last few weeks. Now we've had rain for almost a week straight. And next week is going to be in the low 80s. This is one weird August. I'm good with another few weeks of 90s before fall comes. I love me some summer weather!

4. The girls survived their first week at a new school. And I'm so happy to see that they are fitting in and quickly finding friends. I think it will be great school year!

5. Someone at work said the Halloween store was opening soon. I can't wait! It's my favorite holiday and I'm excited to decorate our new house for the first time. With it being bigger, I'm certainly going to need more decorations :) 

Happy Friday!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Meal Plan #33 + a Milestone

Today is a big today, a milestone if you will. Not only is it the first day of school, but this is also my 500th blog post! Say what? I had enough to talk about for 500 posts? I don't believe it. Although my husband would probably believe it with all the talking that I do. 
I started this lil ol blog out of boredom at a job that I only spent about 3/4 of the day actually working. That job is long gone, but I've still managed to come back week after week to have something to say. Now I guess I blog as a way to connect with other people. Whether it's the mundane (ooh that looks like a good recipe to make or cute outfit!) or on a more personal level (I know your struggle, I can relate) there are a lot of bloggers out there that can make you feel less alone. 
I started my blog thinking that nobody would ever read it. It wasn't for anyone else but me. Even now, I don't care so much about the comments or page views. Just getting the words out, knowing that someone, somewhere might be reading is all I need. So to those of you who do comment and offer advice or positive feedback ... thank you. It is nice to know someone is listening reading out there. 
Ok enough of the why I blog speech ... let's get into what's for dinner this week! Which is something I really do enjoy planning because it keeps me sane Monday - Friday after work :)

MONDAY: Paninis with Watermelon
We'll celebrate the first day of school with a meal we all love!

TUESDAY: Roasted Chickpea and Broccoli Burritos
I'm calling these veggie burritos on the fridge version of this meal plan. This recipe is out of Thug Kitchen - but I've learned everyone will enjoy the recipes in this cookbook, if I don't use their exact titles :) I haven't made anything bad out of this cookbook and would highly recommend it if you are looking to include more real food, vegetarian meals into your life. My husband has looked through the book and has yet to realize nothing contains meat, the recipes sound good enough on their own for him to try!

WEDNESDAY: BBQ Chicken Pasta
Another one pot meal from Damn Delicious. I tell you what, this lady has amazing recipes! You won't be disappointed.

You're On Your Own for dinner tonight - you can cook something but mama isn't helping :) My kids actually really enjoy this night every couple of weeks. 

FRIDAY: Homemade Pizza
We'll end the first week of school with homemade pizzas. If it's crazy hot outside, I may throw them on the grill. Yum!

Friday, August 12, 2016

5 on Friday

1. Last night was back to school night. The girls met their teachers and walked around the new school. I think it will be a good year!

2. I'm sad this is the last weekend before school starts. I'm not looking forward to all the homework and schedules that come with going back to school.

3. We've been in our house for a few months and have started meeting some of our neighbors. They are seriously the nicest people. They invite us over to go swimming, will cook up a feast for everyone at a moments notice and have kids that the girls can play with. It's awesome! Not mention, I never go without a beer when at one of their houses - everyone is always fully stocked!

4. My birthday is quickly approaching. I'm not sure I'm ready to be 30. More on that soon.

5. I want another vacation. Is it wrong to want to spend time exploring instead of working?

Happy Friday and even happier weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August's Bookshelf

August is going to be a month for reading! I read a couple of books on my vacation last month but then nothing after that. Since my kids are going back to school, I figured I should pick up a book my Kindle and start reading. Here are the three books I'll be reading this month...

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
I'm a huge Drew fan, so I'm excited to jump into this one. However, after I read Tiffany's review I'm a little nervous I'll be let down.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I have wanted to read this one for awhile, but now that it is being made into a movie I have to read it before I see it!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I am most excited about reading this book. All the reviews have been positive including this review from Bonnie. Who couldn't use a little extra tidying up in their life?

Have you read any of these books? What should I read next? 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Meal Plan #32

Slow down summer! This is the last week before school starts. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. The homework, the routines, the everything ... all I want is a few more nights of hanging outside without worrying about how tired the kids will be in the morning. At least I'll have our meal plan to keep me somewhat sane during dinnertime.

MONDAY: Taco in a Bag
Yes this was on last Friday, but our ground beef went bad before I could cook it on Friday so we are moving to this week.

TUESDAY: Seven Layer Dip with Mexican Rice
I'm not sure how a dip will translate into an entire dinner, but this one looked too good to pass up!

WEDNESDAY: Spaghetti w/Breadsticks

THURSDAY: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
It's back to school night, so easy and quick is the idea tonight!

FRIDAY: Grill Out!
Whatever looks good at the meat counter will be our dinner along with grilled veggies plus watermelon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Visiting St. Lucia

Last month my husband and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary with a trip to St. Lucia. This small Caribbean island was the perfect getaway! We knew we wanted some place with beaches and mountains and St. Lucia delivered on both of those. We also wanted to have a laid back vacation ... most of our time on the beach, not a bunch of touristy stuff and lots of beer :)

We flew in Sunday afternoon to Hewanora Airport and were met by our host for the week, Tony. We did an Airbnb rental from Tony and his wife Jan. And let me say, they were the best hosts! Tony drove us from the airport to Laborie, a small fishing village about 15 minutes from the airport.

Tony gave us the tour of Laborie and pointed out where to pick up food for the apartment, where to grab some lunch and of course where to buy beer! We stopped outside Mama Tilly's and ordered up our dinner for that night - 1 fish and 1 chicken meal. Once we arrived at our apartment, Mango Splash, we settled down and immediately checked out our beach-front view.

After hanging outside for awhile, we decided to head into the village to pick up some supplies. Pretty much everything closes down on Sunday afternoon in Laborie so there were only a few places open to grab some beer. We found our way to Mama Tilly's where she whipped up a true Caribbean meal for us.

We spent Monday laying out on the beach and wandering around the village. We stopped in many of the shops to pick up breakfast and snacks for the rest of the week. The locals we met throughout our trip were super friendly and always willing to answer any questions we had.

On Tuesday we decided to wake up bright and early and hike Gros Piton. Gros Piton stands 2,619 feet which doesn't seem like much until you try to hike up! We were severely misinformed by some websites that this was a "moderately easy" hike.

We drove about 30 minutes to get the access path to begin hiking. It's a good 25 minute walk to the base of the mountain before the true hiking trail even begins. The streets in St. Lucia are narrow, curvy and full of pot holes. My motion sickness was kicking in so I didn't start off this journey in the best condition. Before we reached the 1/4 mark I didn't think I was going to make it to the top. We were hiking with Tony (our host), our guide, along with Tony's son and his 4 friends. I was slowing everyone down. Once we reached the 1/4 mark, we told the rest of the group to go on and maybe we'd see them at the top. Tony stayed behind to guide us through the rest. After many stops we made it to the 1/2 way mark. The motion sickness I was feeling had worn off and I was feeling pretty good. Plus the quarter to half way section of trail seemed pretty easy. We decided to go on.
I thought the 3/4 mark would never come! At this point we were climbing up "stairs" that had been built into the side of the mountain with large boulders to climb over. Once we rested at the 3/4 mark, I was determined to make it to the top. I hadn't come all this way to stop now. The last quarter of the trail was brutal with more stairs and a steeper climb. Being only 5' 4" means I don't have very long legs, this also means some of these "stair" steps came up to my knee or sometimes my hip. We finally arrived at the top ... 2 hours and 30 minutes after we started. The rest of the group was so surprised to see us! We immediately checked out the right side of the mountain.

There were a few other people who joined us up top, but for the most part we were alone. Getting an early start is key. We were headed to the start of the trail by 7am, any later and we would've hit the heat of the day and been way too hot to make it.
Our guide then took us to the left side of the mountain. This is so important! If your guide tells you that you can't go to the left side, it's because they don't want to spend more time up there. The left side view is where it is at people! You must force your guide to take you. It's a bit more of an obstacle to get to the viewing point, but oh so worth it.

From the left side you can see Petit Piton, which as you guessed isn't as tall as Gros Piton. You can also see the town of Soufiere. The view is amazing. We spent a good 30 minutes here before deciding to head back down the mountain. Of course I couldn't go back down without a fun picture.

The way down wasn't much easier than going up. I slid a bunch, I got muddy, I got scraped up and my toes were jammed into my shoes from trying to hold my ground. It took about 2 hours to climb back down. Upon reaching the bottom, we strayed from the path back to the car and headed for the beach. We all hopped in the ocean to cool off. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday was more of the same from Monday, hanging out on the beach and drinking beer. There was no way our legs wanted to move after our hike on Tuesday. We made friends with one of the locals who brought us all sorts of goodies including fresh picked cashews that he roasted for us.

They were so amazing! He also brought us coconuts to try and explained how he takes the sea kelp he catches in his boxes and creates a super healthy jelly from it.

Thursday was more beach fun before heading back to the airport and back to our girls. One thing I hadn't read before our trip was about the amount of dogs in St. Lucia. There are a few breeds around the island and they all want to make friends. Our hosts had about 5 dogs that they had rescued, but many more would roam around the village and along the beach. Since most people can't afford to spay/neuter their dogs, the dog population is quite large on the island. I was glad to learn that our hosts were looking out for these animals. As part of the recycling efforts on the island, you are encouraged to turn in your beer bottles for a small refund. Tony and Jan use this money and donate it to the local animal shelter. We were more than happy to leave a few bottles behind for them.

It was a trip we won't soon forget. If you have any questions, please let me know! I would of course recommend staying at one of the 3 places that Tony & Jan have available on Airbnb - Mango Splash, Bay Treehouse or Driftwood Cottage.

Now to plan our next trip :)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Meal Plan #31

I can't believe it is August. School starts in a couple weeks, I'm turning the big 3-0 at the end of the month, and soon the hot weather will be a distant memory. Instead of thinking of all that, let's talk meal planning for the week ...

MONDAY: Ravioli w/Breadsticks
This will be our meat-free meal this week.

TUESDAY: Ranch Chicken Tacos
We made these awhile back and they were delicious. Throw everything in the crock pot and you have tacos when you come home!

Breakfast for dinner, one of our favorites!

We all have dentist appointments this afternoon which will put us home later than normal. So everyone can fend for themselves - You're On Your Own!

FRIDAY: Taco in a Bag
The girls have been begging for this so I finally gave in!