Meals! Meals! Meals!

A few days ago, after this post on my various social media accounts, I had several of you ask me to consider writing a “meal planning” post. So here we are!

Now, truthfully, you should know that I don’t technically plan my meals out for the week. For the most part, I just keep specific foods on hand and a bevy of various meals already in my arsenal. So I thought I’d share with you the foods we keep on hand regularly, the foods we buy occasionally, and the meals that occupy my rotation. If you’ve found yourself stuck in a food rut, I hope you find this helpful and maybe even inspiring!



My “Keep on Hand” Foods:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries (raspberries are my personal favorite)
  • Cheese (sliced and shredded)
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Russet Potatoes
  • Ground Beef
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Brown Eggs
  • Avocados
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Salsa
  • Green Onions
  • Red Onions
  • Minced Garlic
  • Olive 0il
  • Coconut Oil
  • Spinach
  • Frozen Fruits and Veggies (to make Nora’s food/my green drinks)
  • Bread (also for Nora)
  • Almond Milk
  • Whole Milk
  • Raw Nuts
  • Bell Peppers
  • Forbidden (black) Rice
  • Hot Sauce
  • Romaine Hearts
  • Dark Chocolate (70% or higher)
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Turkey Kielbasa
  • Real Butter
  • Guacamole
  • Black Beans
  • Chicken Broth
  • Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage
  • Fair Trade Coffee
  • Hot Tea

My “Less Common” Foods:

*A note about my less common foods: these are less common for us due to the season, cost, amount of sugar, or I just forget about them.berriesWe do our best to buy grass fed, organic, non GMO foods with the cleanest ingredients. However, unfortunately sometimes our budget just doesn’t allow for it, so we do the best we can with what we have. For example, I’d much rather buy Applegate Turkey Bacon, but right now we have to use Jennie-O because that’s what works for our budget. We try to keep our meals full of protein and veggies, and sparse on grains. I’m not against grains, per se, but since I’m personally trying to lose some extra weight, making grains a rarity in our meals helps me a lot. I also use herbs and spices in everything. They add so much flare and flavor to meals and make them so much more enjoyable.

Now onto the meals I keep in our regular rotation. I like these meals the most because they’re delicious, first of all, but also because their prep doesn’t tend to drain what little energy I have left at the end of the day. eggs and avo


  • Fried Eggs (in olive oil spray): paired with sliced avocado or leftover potatoes (sweet or russet). For “Southwest Style”, I add cumin, chili powder, paprika, cilantro, green onions and hot sauce. Or you can have them all by themselves with just some sea salt and pepper!
  • Scramble Bowls: eggs scrambled with a mix of any of the following: minced garlic, fresh spinach, chicken apple sausage, avocado, green onions, sliced cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, shredded cheese, goat cheese, salsa, hot sauce. Possibilities are limitless, be creative!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
  • Baked Drumsticks with Oven Roasted Green Beans: chicken legs seasoned with seasoned salt or sea salt, garlic powder, paprika, topped with pats of butter or ghee; green beans tossed in olive oil and seasoned with s&p. I personally like to bake my chicken legs until the outside is nice and crispy! burritobowl
  • Burrito Bowls: our version of Chipotle’s Naked Burrito; grilled chicken or southwest style seasoned ground beef or ground chicken, chopped romaine hearts, cooked black beans, chopped green onions, sauteed veggies of choice (we like bell peppers and zucchini/squash), and forbidden rice topped with a sprinkle of monterey jack or cheddar cheese and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • Turkey Kielbasa, Bell Pepper and Potato Skillet: pretty much exactly that; I pull out my big electric skillet and cook those three ingredients (sometimes four, if I add red onions) in real butter and minced garlic, season with s&p, and it’s good to go! greendrink
  • Green Drink: two handfuls of spinach, a cup or so of coconut water, two handfuls of frozen tropical fruit, two or three tablespoons of pure lime juice, a sprinkle of unsweetened shredded coconut, blended to perfection.
  • Bunless Burgers with Fries: ground beef seasoned with s&p, ground sage, and minced garlic, topped with either a slice of cheese or a dollop of guacamole (or both if you like), with a side of either baked sweet or russet potato fries. Sometimes if I’m feeling too tired, instead of hand slicing the fries, I’ll use a bag of Alexia fries because they have a pretty clean list of ingredients. salad
  • Salads: chopped romaine hearts or spinach, topped with whatever the hell you want; turkey bacon, cherry tomatoes, hardboiled egg, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, shredded cheese, red onions, green onions, bell peppers, berries, nuts, grilled chicken, dressing (but not too much now), oil and vinegar. We don’t eat salads for dinner a whole lot during the winter because we usually want something nice and hot, but they’re a big hit during the summer! Occasionally if I’m craving the green crunch, I’ll make a nice, big salad for lunch.Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
  • Hearty Vegetable Stoup: you can actually find the entire recipe in this recent post of mine.
  • Chili: I make a version of Ree Drummond’s recipe; I use all dark red kidney beans.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  • Grilled Chicken with Juli Bauer’s Spicy Sweet Potatoes: that pretty much sums it up; simple and delicious!
  • Baked Potatoes: we don’t have them terribly often, but if we’re in need of something easy and filling; baked russet potatoes topped with a reasonable amount of real butter or ghee, green onions, s&p, shredded cheese and Greek yogurt.
  • Chicken Fajitas: sliced chicken, bell peppers and red onions, either cooked in the skillet or baked in the oven; topped with a little shredded cheese and a bit of Greek yogurt, no tortillas needed!
  • pancakesBreakfast or Brinner: also a very diverse meal; eggs any way you like, turkey bacon, potatoes, chicken apple sausage, fresh fruit, pancakes – take your pick! We keep pancakes as a very special treat, but when I make them, I either use an almond flour recipe, or Kodiak Cakes because I also trust their ingredients, and just a drizzle of real maple syrup.charcuterie
  • Charcuterie: another special occasion meal (i.e. we are having this tonight while we watch the Golden Globes), because putting a great charcuterie tray together can get expensive, but totally worth it; choose from any of the following (or all of it!): sliced cheese (my favorites are havarti, sharp cheddar, provolone and muenster), sliced deli meats (turkey breast, hard salami, pepperoni, pastrami, etc), a variety of crackers (water crackers wth cracked pepper are my fave), dips or spreads including sweet and spicy mustard, goat cheese, yellow mustard or sriracha, maybe some fruits (I love Granny Smith apples on my platter), but some stone fruits such as plums or peaches would work also. You can always add some fun extras like raw nuts, baby pickles, or olives.

I’m sure I could think of so many more meals to share with you, but I’ll keep it to these for now. My list of “keep on hand” foods provides me with such a wide variety of options and ideas, that I almost don’t have to write out a weekly menu, which I don’t do anyway. Because the ingredients are fresh and simple, they also provide me with lovely, healthy snack when the mood strikes me. I love having a nice snack of fresh raspberries. I eat one small piece of dark chocolate each night, you know, “for the antioxidants”.

I hope that this was helpful to you and maybe you’ll be inspired to try some new meals! I’d love to hear your thoughts or any of your recipe ideas as well!


The Good Work

Last night I sat hunched in the far corner of my couch, head low, shoulders shaking, tears just flowing. Mind you, I find myself especially emotionally vulnerable when I’m sick, so the head cold I have probably just added to everything. Even so.

Shawn came over and sat gently next to me on the couch while I blubbered about feeling like a subpar mom; about the pressure I feel and to have all green, clean, eco friendly products throughout our home and to serve only organic food, ever, all while maintaining our meager budget; about the shame I feel when I look in the mirror and see my soft overweight body, tired eyes and unstyled hair; about how I miss our nice, big house in Oregon and how our tiny apartment makes me feel claustrophobic; about how I’ll never be able to do anything because I can’t do it all.

I was falling apart because I was convinced I was falling short. Shawn offered hugs and encouragement and listening ears and I just sort of shrugged off my meltdown and went to bed without really giving it much more thought. (I was also in a complete Nyquil daze.)

As Emily P. Freeman says in Simply Tuesday, “Maybe your small house with your small people has somehow convinced you that you are too small to matter.”

Yes, on the nose, Emily. That’s exactly how I was feeling.

Trying to grow and rebrand my blog, along with some other creative projects, has kept me glued to my phone lately. Inviting friends to “like” my page, tweeting, posting snapshots; all in hopes of being acknowledged, of being heard, of being seen, of being someone who matters.

Emily also writes, “We’ve been tricked into believing that higher up and further on equals impact and importance.”

I’ve told Shawn over and over again how I feel like such a failure. He keeps reminding me that as long as I’m trying, I’m not failing. Yes, well, those words tend to go in one ear and out the other with me.

This morning, I woke up before the rest of my family. I made some tea to soothe my sore throat, emptied the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, got Nora up and made her breakfast. The rest of my day didn’t look much different. I worked on a project, put away the clean laundry, started the dishwasher, made lunch for Nora. All seemingly routine tasks; nothing terribly glamorous or sparkly.

It wasn’t until I was on the floor, crawling around and making growly noises at my daughter in exchange for toothy grins and belly laughs, that I realized; she doesn’t think I’m a subpar mom. I matter to her. When my husband kisses me and tells me I’m beautiful and that he loves me, I realize; he’s not ashamed of my soft overweight body, tired eyes and unstyled hair.

My website, writing, creative projects, etc. are important to me, yes. But are they important for the right reasons? I started this blog because I wanted to write about things that people could relate to, with hopes that even one person might feel just a little less isolated in their circumstances, feelings, or situation.

I don’t want to live a life so caught up in being heard and getting ahead that I lose sight of my real treasure, my people.

To quote Simply Tuesday one last time, “Let’s take back moments that are lovely even if they are imperfect, words that are powerful even if only one person hears them.”

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I know, I know, everyone is sharing their goals and objectives for the new year. I considered just skipping over this post. But after thinking about it for a bit, I realized that while it seems we are inundated with articles and posts about 2016 goals, I still often find myself inspired by the aspirations of others.

So in the spirit of inspiration, I thought I’d briefly share my own.

Intentions for 2016:

  • Finances. Shawn and I are working very hard to pull ourselves out of a very sticky, very discouraging financial situation. Our intention for this year is to have the majority of our debt paid off and at the very least, manageable and under control. We will continue to be purposed and thoughtful with our spending; where we spend, how we spend, what we spend on.
  • Fewer Things, More Adventures! We have already simplified much of our life by purging our home of excess, moving into a smaller living space, etc. We want to use our valuable resources (time, energy, money) to experience new places, new people, new adventures as a family, rather than to accumulate more stuff.
  • Grow Stronger, Be Cleaner. Most people have some version of “healthier me” goal for each new year. And while I definitely agree that the pursuit of health is important, I wanted to give myself targets that are more attainable for my lifestyle. So rather than saying something like “I’M GOING TO LOSE FIFTY POUNDS BY MARCH!”, my intention for my own health is to grow stronger and be cleaner. I will continue to work hard in my yoga practice to build a stronger body and to do my best to fuel my system with foods that will nourish and not harm.
  • Steadfastness. I want to be more steadfast as wife and a mom. I want to be strong for my husband and daughter; gracious, kind, loving and supportive. I want to lengthen my fuse and deepen my patience.
  • Creative Endeavors. I have some really fun and exciting things lined up in my creative life for 2016! I’ll be able to elaborate more on that over the next couple of months. I want my passion to bleed into my projects and inspiration to seep through the cracks (because there will be cracks, no perfection here). I’d also like to become more creative in my kitchen. I cook for my family almost every day, and I tend to get into food ruts. So this year I plan to research fun and healthy recipes, new cooking techniques, and experiment with new ingredients.
  • Eat One Piece of Dark Chocolate Everyday: This one pretty much speaks for itself.

And lastly, my greatest intention for this year:

  • ALL THE GRACE. Have you noticed that I have used the word intention rather than goal in this article? I feel that intentions allow for so much more grace than the strictness often associated with goals. I want my life to overflow with grace. Grace for my friends, grace for my family, grace for acquaintances, grace for Utah drivers, and truthfully, mostly, grace for myself. The only way I will be able to make any progress in any of the intentions listed above is if I approach each one, each day, with an abundance of grace. I will fail at some point. I will lose my cool with Nora. I will skip a yoga practice. I will ignore my responsibilities. I will eat ice cream. This is where grace is strongest, this is where it shines brightest; the days when I am weak, the days when I am discouraged, the days when all I can do is cry, the days when I am just so human. Grace will rescue me.

I want to note that these goals and plans aren’t things I intend to keep confined to the year twenty sixteen. Oh no, these are things I want to implement, beginning in the year twenty sixteen and carry out throughout my life. These aren’t just monthly, weekly or daily goals. These are life ambitions.

A Hearty Vegetable Stoup

Hello all!

I’m way under the weather with a nasty cold today and nothing sounds better than a nice piping hot soup when I’m battling a headache, stuffy nose, and body aches. One of my favorite soups to make is this hearty vegetable soup, which my husband and I have decided to call a “stoup”, since I prefer the consistency of my soup to be thicker, like a stew.

The ingredients are simple and nutritious, and there’s room to play if you feel like adding or subtracting any ingredients. I always double the batch and put the leftovers in the freezer for a night when I’m not up to cooking, but don’t want to sacrifice a healthy meal. This recipe is adapted from Cooking Classy.


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  • olive oil
  • peeled and chopped carrots
  • chopped celery (i like to keep the leafy green stalk tops included)
  • minced garlic
  • chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • cubed Russet potatoes
  • parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh green beans
  • chopped onion (optional)
  • ground beef, turkey or chicken (optional)

*You’ll notice I have very few measurements listed here. I much prefer to eyeball everything. I make this soup in a large, two handle pot, and I fill it to the brim. Fresh tomatoes can be substituted for canned, just make sure you get all the juicy goodness in there. Onions are also commonly added to this soup, but Shawn isn’t an onion fan, so I just add some onion powder into the mix. You can use either dried or fresh herbs for this soup, just remember that if you use dried herbs, you don’t need to use as much as if you use fresh. I added ground beef and ground chicken to our stoup because we wanted a little more umph from our meal. And we were super hungry.


If using ground beef, brown it in a pan and season it however you like (I use s&p and ground sage) and then set aside until it’s time to add it to your stoup.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots and celery and saute 3 – 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds longer. Pour in the broth (again, I eyeball this, so add as much or little broth as you’d like based on your consistency preference) and add the tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then add green beans, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 – 30 minutes. If adding meat, put it in now and let it simmer for about another 5 minutes. Serve warm and bon appetit!

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Looking Forward and Loving Lately


I am so looking forward to this upcoming year and all of the things it will bring with it. 2016 is going to be a year of positive change, in my family, my marriage, my finances, and also in my blog! I have some exciting things on the docket for this blog and I can’t wait to share it with you all. You’ll definitely notice a change in looks and even in some content (still the brutiful stuff, but also some more light hearted and enjoyable stuff as well!), along with some other really fun things! I hope to be updating and writing much more frequently. I thought I’d round out 2015 with something fun; another Loving Lately post! You know how it goes: I share with you some of my most favorite things as of late, and maybe you’ll be inspired to try them out too. (No ads here, just things that have genuinely edified my life or made it easier in one way or another.) Enjoy!


IMG_8332Mandy Reid Yoga – My beautiful and gifted friend, Mandy Reid, is a wonderful yoga instructor and provides so many yoga videos FOR FREE on her youtube channel. Her intentions are always spot on and practicing with Mandy’s videos has helped me grow exceptionally in my personal yoga practice.


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAcure Organics Yummy Baby 4-in-1 Foamer – I love Acure Organics products for myself and was so excited when I found this for Nora! This foamer acts as shampoo, body wash, hand soap and best of all, bubble bath! It smells so yummy and Nora loves splashing around with the bubbles during bath time. She also loves to eat the bubbles, which is why I continue to use this product – I don’t have to worry about her ingesting icky chemicals when she shoves a fistful of bubbles into her mouth.


Frasier – I love Frasier. I love it so much. It’s hilarious and witty and so clever (or droll, as Fras would say). It’s one of my favorite tv shows bar none, and I’m forever grateful to Netflix for making it possible to binge watch my favorite snobby psychiatrists whenever I need a really good laugh.

IMG_8331Hyland’s Homeopathic Baby Teething Tablets – I love Hyland’s products for the same reason I love Acure Organics; I don’t have to worry about Nora getting any unnatural or unsafe ingredients in or on her when we use them. That said, these teething tablets are just plain miraculous. They dissolve quickly, and Nora absolutely loves them because she knows relief is soon on it’s way. They help soothe her achy gums and allow her to rest so much better. And yes, I got a little risky and snuck into her nursery while she was napping to get this photo.

IMG_8329Wei of Chocolate – I was introduced to Wei of Chocolate by my friend Suzi over at Gurl Gone Green (whose blog I’ve also been loving lately). These chocolates are organic, fair trade and oh so dreamy. When you open the chocolate, you are encouraged not to chew it up right away, but to let it just sit and melt in your mouth. I love this because it reminds me to slow down, relax, and just enjoy the moment. Right now I have the Wei Joyful, which is citrus dark chocolate and I adore them. I can’t wait to try Wei Peace next; lavender grey dark chocolate!

Thinking Out Loud

First of all, Happy December! I always love the start of a new month. A clean slate, a blank page. And December is such a hope filled month for me. I am reminded of the King who came down to the darkness and the despair and the dirt to rescue me. I am reminded of my salvation, of my smallness, of my great worth to Him.

My last few posts have been a bit heavy, what with life kind of beating the hell out of me this year. As I thought about what I would write today, I knew I wanted it to be a bit lighter, but I also know I’m still working through some hard things. It’s so easy to feel isolated in the midst of grief or depression or anxiety. I am hoping and praying for some relief soon.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I feel a lack of a sense of purpose in my life. Most days are spent looking after Nora, never even leaving the apartment. It’s hard being the new kid in town, not knowing anyone. I miss my friends terribly, but am so grateful to know they are just a text away. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what I am to do. I have a book in my heart, somewhere in there. But is that where I’ll find purpose? I am continuing to grow in my yoga practice and still desire to become certified. But is that where I’ll find purpose? I’m a mom. And despite what I thought for years…that’s not where I’ve found purpose. At least not a completely fulfilling purpose. Is that okay to say? Is that awful to say? It’s true either way.

I know that on one hand, we make ourselves purposed. Each day we are presented with the decision to make or waste the day ahead. But on the other hand, I know there is more. I know it. I feel it. I carry it. I just haven’t the slightest clue what it could be! Mostly that’s just frustrating and worrisome. What will life look like in five years? Will I be free from this cloud of anxiety and depression? Will I be healthier? Will I know myself and God more? Will Shawn and I have grown closer or further apart? Where will we be living? Where will Nora be in school? Will we be out of debt? (God, I hope so.)

I hope with all my heart that my marriage is stronger, that I am healthier, that I know myself better, that I’m nearer to the Heart of God. I just feel so lost sometimes. This post isn’t really turning out to be quite as light as I’d intended…my bad. I’m mostly just thinking out loud here. I don’t really have anything wise or enlightened to share today. But it helps to get these thoughts out of my head and onto paper…or screen rather. Maybe some of you out there are feeling the same feels and this will help to ease some isolation on both our parts. I’m so ready not to feel this way anymore, you know? I know that life is hard and I’ll have rough seasons throughout my life. I guess I’m just ready to breathe again.

Anyways, here’s hoping your December is filled with light and love and wonderful things. Here’s hoping your hearts are filled with joy and hope. Here’s hoping.

Acknowledging the Pain

“Life is short.”

This is something we’ve all heard a thousand times. We hear it, we say it, we know it. But oftentimes it becomes easy to just lump it in with every other trite phrase that we sort of toss around whenever the moment seems appropriate.

I’m very grateful to have had company in town when I learned of my brother’s passing. One of my oldest friends, Callie, happened to be visiting me this week and she provided the support and distraction I so desperately needed.

But, she flew back this morning and now I’m back home with Shawn and Nora and the Cat and am looking forward to hopefully some semblance of normalcy as this week comes to an end.

I’ve done a lot of quiet, tearful, introspective thinking this week. I still have so much to sort through, and I grieve in a very specific way. I prefer to draw back, become still in my soul. I prefer to cry privately and deal with all of the Feelings on my own.

I don’t like to share my grief; it overwhelms me. I don’t like to dwell on the pain, sometimes to a fault because it never gets acknowledged. So, I guess that’s what I’m doing now. Acknowledging my pain.

People have continued to ask how I’m feeling.

Mostly, I feel very tired. Losing a dearly loved soul is like getting punched in the gut; you get the wind knocked out of you. It’s hard to really breathe for a while.

I feel sad, too. All of this is a little familiar because we went through it when we lost my mom. At the same time, it’s very different losing a parent and losing a sibling. I don’t necessarily feel as though my life might not go on (which is how I felt a lot after my mom passed), but like I told my sister this morning, “one of us” is gone now. (Us being the sibs.)

Truthfully, my brother and I didn’t have much of a relationship toward the end. We hadn’t spoken in a few months, not because of any bad blood, we just lost touch. Because of this, I don’t feel an immediate sense of loss, which feels strange. I almost feel guilty for it.

My brother carried a lot on his back for many, many years. He dealt with a lot of rejection, heartache and loneliness throughout his young life. He somehow always managed to keep on going. I will forever be inspired by his determination, by his love for his daughter and by his passionate spirit.

I loved my brother with my whole heart and I am extremely grieved at his passing. I had so desperately hoped that he would find a way out of the brokenness he was tangled in and be able to live. Really live.

“Life is short.”

As I’ve begun to sort through my thoughts and feelings that have swarmed my heart and piled up in my mind over the course of this week, I feel a sense of desperation. I am desperate to fill my days with my husband and daughter; with love and warmth and smiles and laughter. I am desperate to be nearer to the Heart of God. I am desperate to soak up every minute; to make memories; to bake cookies; to teach Nora how to love the world; to practice the yoga that I love so much; to never take my husband’s love for granted.

But I don’t feel these things because I now feel like “life is short”. I feel these things because I am so very tired and I have been given an opportunity to rest. To rest in Grace, to rest in Family, to rest in Friendships, to rest in Love, to rest in Him. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow closer to my other two siblings, Lizzy and Casey, and to my dad as well. I am grateful for the opportunity to heal. I am grateful for the opportunity to write. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to live.