Great recipes, terrible technology

This will have to be relatively short and sweet given my technology malfunctions. I’d been wanting to blog about this since Wednesday, but my personal laptop has been on the fritz for a week (right now it won’t even fully boot up…) and my work laptop was with our IT department up until about noon yesterday.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been wanting to make a concerted effort to be intentional about the meals I’m making. (In other words, it’s time to ditch the reliance on crockpots and get back to cooking given I actually enjoy it.) Although I got the baseline recipe, if you will, from Pinterest, the other two meals I tried this week came directly from the author who inspired me to make the change.

I have to admit that I’m really proud of Sunday’s meal — one pan chicken with white wine and olives. In part it’s because I’d had an offer to go to HuHot and I turned it down in lieu of cooking a homecooked meal (primarily so I could have leftovers at lunch the next day). I’d been a bit nervous about this since I’m not a fan of dry white wines and chicken thighs tend to be hit or miss for me. But it was a lot of fun to pull together.

chicken bake

What I did love was having the lemons bake on top of the chicken! I’ve seen that a handful of times but just never did it. I probably shouldn’t have added the kalamata olives, but the carrots were a nice addition to the recipe.

chicken bake (2)

The leftovers weren’t quite as good, though it could be that it just lost some of it’s appeal in my Tupperware container and using a plastic knife. But I have to say, going back to cooking was a much-needed shift. And I hardly used a can of food this week!

Tuesday  night is when I started with my baseline recipe of mini buffalo chicken tacos. For some reason I have trouble buying frozen foods like chicken tenders or pizza. Instead, I did a quick google search and found a decent recipe for homemade chicken tenders. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I could whip those up — and adding buffalo sauce to the egg mixture seemed to help give it even more flavor.

chicken tenders

I also found a quick recipe for coleslaw dressing. I’d picked up broccoli coleslaw mix at the grocery store instead of buying a pre-made option.


Oh baby. This was delicious. The one downside is that the leftovers aren’t quite as good. My coleslaw ended up a bit soggy (especially by yesterday’s lunch) and the chicken tenders (not surprisingly) don’t stay crispy. But the flavor was still there and it was such a nice twist on tacos. I actually think this might make for a good salad so I may have to experiment with it a bit more.

I’m glad I held out on my final recipe until later in the week. Wednesday was an incredibly long day at work and I was so looking forward to spin class that evening. I knew it would recharge my batteries — plus I hadn’t been in two weeks. Sadly a traffic jam meant that, despite leaving 40 minutes before the class started, I was barely at the halfway point of getting to the gym when it was time for class to start.

I made my way back home feeling angry (livid is probably a better word…) and defeated. And what better way to set the world right than with a one pot cheesy spaghetti and meatballs.

You guys, I had no idea meatballs could cook in the sauce like that! Game changer. I’d also never considered adding ricotta cheese to my typical spaghetti dish. I have to say that I’m a fan. Although I didn’t find the noodles used in the actual recipe (I wanted to but my attempts at the grocery store were in vain). Instead if was my typical whole wheat angel hair pasta.


Although it took a little bit more time post-gym, it was nice to be back to cooking. We’ll see what the recipes for next week hold. Given my faulty and intermittent computer opportunities, meal planning may be particularly challenging. (Not good given it’s a task I dread each weekend anyway but I do it because the benefits are ten-fold during the week!)

And on a completely unrelated note, Hurley met his new cousin last week. Swoooooon! This was one of the only few non-blurry photos of them since they kept rough housing. It gets a little overwhelming (and I would not be surprised if they knock over the middle’s tree at some point…) but it wears him out, which makes me a happy mama.



Embracing balance

As I alluded to in my self-love summary post, last month was a bit rough for me. I ended the month feeling frazzled, which is a feeling I don’t handle well. I’ll admit that a lot of it had to do with the crazy snow storms we’ve had (and my bitterness about that is pretty apparent so I’ll just leave it at that). With all the snows days and traveling in February, most days I couldn’t even tell you what day of the week it was. Normally I can go with the flow relatively well, but lately I’ve been craving more structure and normalcy.

Last week the only thing I kept thinking was how unbalanced my life felt. I don’t leave work at the office anymore, I’m not working out as frequently as I did earlier in the year and it’s been a struggle to devote quality time to those I love (quality being key). It’s not working for me. That’s why this month I’ve opted to embrace balance.

Balanced meals: While I skimmed these 20 health habits I initially saw on pinterest, it dawned on me that this month I should really put my focus on balancing my meals. Indulging undoubtedly got the better of me in February. I should hopefully be able to avoid #15 this month, but what really struck me was #7 – the 50/50 rule for fruits and veggies. I used to be really good with this, but that was back when more fruits and vegetables were in season. Still, it’s no reason for me not to strive for it. Admittedly not all of my meals this month will be balanced, but at least one meal each day will consist of 50% or more of fruits of vegetables.

Balanced drinking: I don’t mean alcohol. Thankfully I’m not drinking Diet Coke as much, but coffee’s been a pretty constant in my life. It’s not a bad thing…until I realize nearing the end of a day that I’ve had 5 cups of coffee and only one glass of water. No bueno. For every non-water drink I have, whether it’s a soda, juice or coffee, I want to balance that with one glass of water.

Balance myself: There’s something about yoga that makes me feel zen. My mind usually operates 100 mph, but in yoga classes I’m able to shut out the world (the same thing happens in Zumba but I usually leave feeling like my mind operates at 105 mph). Not only that, but my body feels more balanced. Even though I’m still not at all flexible and probably look ridiculous half the time, stretching out all my muscles and joints goes a long way. Given the mental and physical balance I get out of it, I’m aiming to go to yoga once a week this month so I can make it a more consistent practice.

Practice active listening: I pride myself on being a good listener. Any day of the week, I would much rather listen than talk. But I’ve gotten a bit lax in making sure the person(s) I’m talking to have my undivided attention and that I’m actually hearing what it is they’re saying (which is a skill I’m building on in my training). When I’m on the phone I don’t want to be checking my email or  And when I’m hanging out with someone, I don’t need to pull out my phone. I read somewhere once that the best gift you can give someone is your undivided attention, and particularly in this day and age, I don’t think that could be more true.

Daily double: I’ve avoided setting any daily goals for myself, and my rational for it is something that was actually brought up in my training as well. Even if you do it 6 out of the 7 days, you still feel like in some ways you failed because it wasn’t all seven. It’s often better to aim for five days a week and feel like an over-achiever if you do hit seven days. That approach, paired with the notion that my “resolutions” are about slowing incorporating changes into my life, makes me feel better about “daily” goals. I’m going to spend at least 10 minutes each day of reading with no distractions. No music in the background, no phone nearby, no putting the book down to look up something on the computer that just popped into my mind. It’s going to be just me, a book and perhaps a blanket or a cup of tea. I think I need that during the day just to unwind and minimize those frazzled feelings. And completely unrelated, but I also want to start moisturizing daily. I’ve always been warned to start taking care of my skin now while I’m still young. Plus the winter’s been brutal on my poor (now dry) skin.

That’s all the goals I’m going to focus on for the month. While it’s in my nature to want to tackle a lot because I get a little too excited about goals, I need to keep my balance in mind. They may sound like great ideas now, but two weeks down the road I may have a very different perspective. This month I need to take it one day at a time and try to regain some sense of balance in life. And I don’t think it’s just for my sake…haha

Because I love a good quote…

This fit perfectly with my hope of embracing the new year.

Most good things happen without a plan: friendships, falling in love, finding a job, and so on. If you want to make your new year count, you’ll need to be intentional — not by setting goals, but by making space in your life for what really matters. Jeff Goins

I’ll still set my goals, but I do think I’m starting to focus on what really matters. I only wish the quote was on pinterest so it could be a pretty graphic.

A small risk

About a month or so ago I went a little crazy with canvas projects. The next day at work when I was showing off my artwork, our intern (it’s weird to call her an intern, though, considering she runs a nonprofit in Jefferson City) asked if I would create a piece for a fundraising event. I said yes, and tonight I’ve got a canvas being auctioned off at a gala for the Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association.

I won’t lie, I was nervous. Minus a few gifts for friends, all my crafting is for me. It’s about my style, taste, preference, etc. Plus if I don’t like it, no one would be the wiser. Could I really create something that people would bid on at a silent auction?

Because of that, it was hard to figure out where to start. I had a running list of about a dozen quotes and designs I thought would be great for the piece, but I also had to keep my own limitations in mind. When I spotted this, I knew I had a winner. And since I still love the flower canvases I made back in July, I thought I’d incorporate that with the quote.

Once I laid out the petals, I kept going back and forth (and back and forth again) about whether to include the quote or not. Ultimately I decided to, though, and I finally had a finished product on Sunday night.

I can’t say I’m entirely sold on it (primarily the handwriting), but I supposed you’re your own worst critic. The intern/director of CMFCAA absolutely loved it and I’ve gotten great feedback. The project also gave me the crafting bug again. I think tackling three canvases in one weekend the other month was a bit much. Now that I’ve got another one under my belt, though, I think I’m about ready to tackle the other canvas for my living room that I’ve been plotting for about 8 months now…

Oh snap

I’ve decided this is going to be one of my new mottos.


Somehow I will turn this quote into wall art for my apartment or office.

Crock pot love

Not wanting to get behind on my March goals, and also knowing that I’m going to be eating out a lot next week during my travels, I wanted to make sure I had a good homecooked meal this weekend. When I found a recipe for crock pot orange chicken, I sent it to my roommate and asked if she was game.

What I loved about this was the simplicity. It literally took 20 minutes to prep (could have been less if I hadn’t made a mess of things…), I went to zumba, and came back to wonderful smells in my kitchen. It was also great because the only ingredient I needed to buy for it was the frozen orange juice concentrate (although I almost wonder if there’s a way to incorporate fresh oranges instead).

Anywho, as you can probably tell from the photo, the orange chicken looked more like a stew than the end result on the website with the recipe. But, I liked it just the same. And this is coming from a girl who isn’t really a fan of orange chicken to begin with. I don’t know that I’d add it to my normal rotation of recipes, but I’d definitely make it again.

Not bad for a Friday night.

Newest obsession

While on pinterest (naturally) I came across a link for goodreads. Oh baby! This may be my new pinterest! (Not that I could ever replace pinterest, though. I’d lose half the content for my blog!)

Immediately I signed up for the site. I can track what books I want to read and rate books that I have read, among other things. But what I’m really excited about are recommendations. I love that I’ll put in a book that I love and get at least 10 different books that are similar. And my tracking of books I want to read someday just got easier.

I will admit that while I was rating books (it’s similar to Netflix) to get book recommendations, I realized that I haven’t read a lot of what I would consider to be high literary quality. It’s actually rather embarrassing, given that I was an English major and come from a reading family. Good thing I’m resolved to read a lot of books this year! Anyone have book recommendations to throw out there?

Work ethic

On a lighter note, my co-worker and I are thinking about putting a sign like this on the door to our office.

Starting the week

This weekend I gave myself exactly what I needed: me time.

Growing up, Sundays were always family days. Over time Sundays became a frantic day of homework and trying to get my life together before the start of another week. Even now I schedule away my Sundays with my side job, visiting my adopted grandmother and trying to get ready for another week. Frankly, trying to cram so much into my Sundays isn’t really a great way to start the week.

Today I decided to postpone those responsibilities and instead focus on me. I got the car wash I’ve been putting off for a couple months, the haircut I’ve been putting off for a few weeks and took the clothes I weeded out of my closet way back in July. I caught up with friends, got out on the trail in this gorgeous weather and spent way more money than I should. My apartment has a new, fresh fall scent and I feel way more at peace with life.

While I still crossed things off my long-standing, imaginary to-do list, it was nice not to have to feel guilty for taking time out of my week to do those things. I wish that’s how more of my weeks could start.


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