Posted in Health and Fitness, Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello!

I think I’m finally getting back into the swing of things around here which means I’m ready to get back on track with all the things including eating and working out. Today’s blog post topic comes at the perfect time!

I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for Let’s Look.

So far this year, we’ve looked at:

  • How you organize for the new year in January.
  • What you eat in a week in February.
  • Your faves from high school/college in March. (I didn’t have a post that month.)
  • How you plan/do date nights in April.
  • Your hometown in May.
  • Go-to summer lunches in June.

This month’s topic is how you keep healthy.

*disclaimer:* this is not something I’m an expert on…haha

That being said, being “healthy” is something that’s always on my mind…even if I’m struggling with healthy habits. I’d say I made it through my 20’s by just working out (mostly jogging) and eating whatever I wanted. In my 30’s, I was busy chasing two kids around, and probably fell into the cliché of a tired, full time working mom of two kids. Working out was always in my routine through those years, but working out varied week to week. Some weeks, I’d work out twice and other weeks not at all and some weeks five days. During that time, I was cooking for my family and always trying to cook as healthy as possible, but also eating leftover chicken nugget or mac and cheese.

About four years ago, I finally made working out and eating better a priority. Again, I’m still not perfect, but I’ve tried to consistently work on:

  • Drinking more water: I still struggle with this, but hitting my water goal is always easier in the summer.
  • Moving my body: I’ve found I’m most successful when I can workout at home. I know some people think the exact opposite…that they have to leave the house to workout or they won’t. I feel like if I can go to my basement and complete a 30 minute Beachbody workout in my basement, then there isn’t much of an excuse not to get five workouts (which is my goal) in each week. There are times I’m really on a roll and in a routine and that means: one off day, one day where I walk, one day I go to the gym to use the elliptical, and then I do four beach body workouts (usually: one arms, one legs, one cardio, and full body (or Pilates)).
  • Intermittent fasting: I’ve been doing this for four or five years. I don’t eat breakfast. I break my fast at lunch time and try to stop eating by 8:00. That being said, doing anything for a long time, I guess your body may get too used to something and need a reset. So, there are periods of time where I have gone back to having a small breakfast.
  • Tracking what I eat: The My Fitness Pal is a great place to track macros (It seems like a lot at first, but, like anything, you get the hang of it). Since January, I’ve been consistent about tracking Weight Watchers points in the app.
  • Prioritizing protein: This is actually a newer idea I’ve tried in the past year or so. We need around 40 grams of protein per meal, and I try to make a conscious effort to do that when I can.
  • Quiet/Me time: The older I get, the more I am aware of mental health and how important it is to take care of yourself. Am I perfect at doing this every day? No. But, honestly, I can say 99% of my days start with solo quiet time drinking my coffee and getting ready for the day. When the kids were little, I started this habit. I can’t hit the ground running. I just can’t. I realized that I need to ease into the day, or I will just feel frazzled and out of whack. Hayden is much like me…needs to wind down at night and ease into the morning. Travis and Hadley are very similar and seem to be able to get up and go…and then just fall right to sleep at night.

Now, having time to workout is still a struggle with two busy kids, but having kids who are *somewhat* self-sufficient means that I can sneak in a 30 minute workout while they work on homework or take a walk before a baseball game.

Also, I try to control what I can, and I am the meal planner in our house. I really do try to make balanced meals for my kids. While they could live on snacks, I try to show them (but not harp on it) that a healthy dinner plate will have small carb, protein, fruit, veg. Of course, the difference is that my kids may double down on the mashed potatoes, and I will double down on the veggies.

Amanda Nighbert is an awesome local dietician. She’s a wealth of knowledge, and she shares so much in her Instagram stories; you should check her out. Her LEAN program is amazing as well.

Vacation Goals:

Before we left for Mexico, I set a few goals for myself and was able to pretty much stick to them…

  • Intermittent Fast: Half of the mornings I had breakfast and half of them I didn’t. Most of the breakfasts I did have were eggs/toast/fruit or one restaurant had avocado toast that I loved. Most nights, we had early dinner reservations which meant that I was finished eating by 7:00 most nights.
  • Drink water: That was easy to do considering how hot it was. Also, our room fridge was filled with bottled water and every restaurant offered it as soon as we sat down for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Track my meals: I tracked everything I ate from a snack on a the plane to hibachi dinner to a scoop of ice cream. That being said, I didn’t track what I drank. I wanted to have a couple of skinny margs or a couple of glasses of wine and not feel guilty about it.
  • Make healthy choices: While you only live once, I still wanted to try to eat as healthy as possible…and honestly, those were the foods I craved. A few mornings I did have one churro dipped in chocolate that was offered at the buffet (because when else will I eat a churro?!), but then again, for breakfast, I had one egg and some pineapple. I got the skinny marg in stead of a regular margarita. I ordered fish for most dinners and honestly didn’t really have sweets.
  • Workout three times: I made sure to workout on the Friday before we left, and then made the goal of working out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That being said, I wasn’t going to obsess about it. I got in elliptical workouts on Monday and Friday. Wednesday was our boat day, and that included snorkeling. I swear we swam half a mile at least. That counts as a workout. Also, I think my lowest day of steps was 5,000 and honestly, most days were 7,000+ and then over 10k on my elliptical days.

I wasn’t mad about this workout view:

Am I the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life? Probably not? But, I guess “health” is relative. Maybe I am. I’m definitely the most focused and knowledgeable about what I should eat than I ever have before, but of course, attitude and effort are important; I fall short some days. I do believe that consistency is key, and eventually you’ll see the results.

What about you? How do you stay healthy?

Posted in Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello! I hope you are having a great week so far!

Well, yesterday was the first Tuesday of the month, so I shared my Amazon purchases, and today is the second Wednesday of the month which means that I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for Let’s Look.

So far this year, we’ve looked at:

  • How you organize for the new year in January.
  • What you eat in a week in February.
  • Your faves from high school/college in March. (I didn’t have a post that month.)
  • How you plan/do date nights in April.
  • Your hometown in May.

Well, this week I’m trying to get us into a summer routine. Sometimes lunch is chicken tenders and fries at the pool. I do try to have us eat at home most days and then just pack snacks for the pool. On Fridays, I usually let the kids pick somewhere to drive-thru which usually means Chick-fil-A, Raising Canes, Sonic, or Taco Bell.

I’ve shared some lunch posts before, but here are some fave options when I’m at home:

Shrimp tacos are pretty easy to make. I just sautee some shrimp in EVOO and the Chile Lime seasoning from Trader Joe’s. I add lettuce cabbage with a sprinkle of cheese and a drizzle of Ranch dressing.

To me, nothing says summer like a snack plate. I just love that I’m home to have more than 18 minutes to eat, and can just put together a plate of favorites based on what we have at home.

Anything can go on the plate: cheese, fruit, almonds, pickles, lunch meat, prosciutto, sausage, etc. I usually have one meat, one cheese, one fruit and then go from there.

I eat this Cheeseburger Bowl on repeat! I just cook ground turkey and add in taco seasoning. Then, I put the meat on top of some lettuce and add a few chopped up pickles, a sprinkle of cheese, and then a drizzle of the Magnifisauce from Trader Joe’s.

Other quick lunches we have often: quesadilla, grilled cheese, turkey sausage with sides like fruit, pretzels and hummus or peppers.

This recent Not Just a Mom post has some lunch ideas and links back to some previous posts I’ve shared as well.

Truly, one of my favorite parts of summer is not packing a lunch, picking and choosing what to eat based on what I have at home, and having some extra time to eat as well.

What are your “go-to” summer lunches?

Posted in Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello!

It’s already the second Wednesday of the month, so I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for Let’s Look.

So far this year, we’ve looked at:

  • How you organize for the new year in January
  • What you eat in a week in February
  • Your faves from high school/college in March (I didn’t do LL in March)
  • How you plan/do date nights in April

This month, we are looking at: your hometown.

Of course, when someone asks where I’m from, I say Kansas City. It’s just easier than saying, “Lee’s Summit, a suburb of KC.” It’s just easier since I’m living in a completely different state than where I grew up. Also, I didn’t move to Lee’s Summit until I was thirteen, so I do consider both to be my “hometown.”

Kansas City

MISSOURI! Many (out of state) people think that Kansas City is in Kansas. While there is a KCK, it’s small and Kansas City is KCMO.

My dad was a Kansas City police officer for thirty years which meant he had to live in KC. So, my younger years were spent in KC in an area close to where he grew up.

Kansas City really does have so much to offer. There’s nothing better than Topsy’s popcorn or a butter roll from McLain’s. There are so many great BBQ restaurants in KC. While I’m not a huge BBQ fan, we always make a stop per Trav’s request and my kids love ribs!

Growing up, we’d often go to the Plaza for a hamburger and milkshake from Winsteads. We’d also visit Crown Center and the Plaza around the holidays to ice skate and see the Christmas lights.

I spent many summer days at Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun with cousins when they’d come to visit.

Of course, KC is a big sports town. There’s nobody more loyal than an KC Royals fan. We waited thirty years in between World Series wins and still showed up for our team through the years.

The same can be said for the Chiefs fans who cheered them on for fifty years in between Super Bowl wins.

Lee’s Summit

Photo c/o https://downtownls.org

We moved to LS at the end of my seventh grade year. My parents found a piece of land that was in KC but districted for Lee’s Summit schools. They built a house and we moved in the spring of 1993. I did struggle with the move more than my brother did because he was still in elementary school. I will be the first to admit (now) that I didn’t really give the move a chance. I really hated my 8th grade year, but I did find a great group of friends once I started high school.

When we moved to LS, it was just starting to boom. When you got off the highway, there were four way stops and a two lane road that took you to our house. Now there are stoplights, three high schools, hospitals, shopping and more.

The one high school in LS was the biggest in the state. I went to it for my freshman year and then the new high school was finished when I was a sophomore. That year, they let the seniors stay together at the old school, so it was just 9th-11th when my high school opened. Lee’s Summit had, and continues to have, a top notch public school system which was a selling point for my parents. There’s even a third high school now. I’m forever grateful for the education that I received. I made so many friends that I met thanks to band (yes, band!).

In the summers, we’d hang at neighborhood pools, get frozen custard at Custard’s Last Stand, have fun at the Homecoming parade in the fall, attend football and basketball games and more. There was a lake in my neighborhood as well as a bigger lake where a few friends lived. We hung out on the dock on many summer nights.

Once I gave it a chance and met the right group of friends, I really did enjoy growing up in Lee’s Summit.

I take my midwestern roots seriously. While I love Lexington, there have been many times I’ve held firm to values and beliefs on how I grew up and was raised when making decisions for my own kids.

I’m grateful that my kids are growing up with KC memories. Hayden cheers for the Royals and Chiefs. My kids know how great a cherry limeade is from Topsy’s popcorn and how magical the Plaza lights are at Christmastime.

“Home” is a relative term I guess. I feel at home when I’m at home, I guess because I’ve made it a point to make our house a home for my kids. But…I’m also at home when I’m in KC seeing family and creating memories for my kids there too.

One of my favorite country songs on the radio right now is Half of my Hometown. These lyrics always stand out to me:

Back roads raise us…
Highways take us…
Memories make us wanna go back…to our hometown.

I’ll be honest, never in a million years did I think I wouldn’t be raising my family where I grew up. I always joke that I moved to KY with Travis because I was “young, dumb, and in love.” Not to take anything away from him; I just mean that I don’t see my forty year old self making that same decision. When you are young, you can take chances like that. I didn’t have anything to lose.

…and sometimes you take a chance…and it pays off. Travis is the best, and we’ve created a really blessed life together.

I do miss “home” though.

Where did you grow up? What’s your best hometown memory? I’d love to know.

Thanks so much for reading!

Posted in Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello from dreary Kentucky. I swear we can’t buy some sunshine!

On the bright side (#seewhatIdidthere), it’s already the second Wednesday of the month, so I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for Let’s Look.

So far this year, we’ve looked at:

  • How you organize for the new year in January
  • What you eat in a week in February
  • Your faves from high school/college in March (I didn’t do LL in March)

This month, we are looking at: how you plan / do date nights

Date night. What’s that? Does a night at the ballpark count because that’s where we were last night. 😂

Well, date nights were easier before we had two kids pulling us in ten different directions. (Although I always say we’re blessed to be busy!)

We’ve been together since 2001. Travis says he’s never ‘gone with’ anyone as long as he’s ‘gone with’ me! 😆

2001

It’s very rare for us to have a traditional date night. We always go out to dinner around Valentine’s Day and for our anniversary in June. Do we go out other times just the two of us to eat? Yes, but we make an effort to make reservations somewhere for those two occasions.

Since we don’t have family in town, we’ve always had to schedule sitter when trying to go to football games, celebrate special occasions, and more. Thankfully, it usually worked out, but it’s still more effort than being able to rely on a grandparent in town.

Honestly, we just do simple things together when we can like run an errand, go for a walk, or watch a show together. Ozark is a fave show of ours.

Now that the kids are older, we are able to go out with friends spur of the moment if we can’t find a sitter. Just last Saturday, we went to see a concert with some friends pretty; those plans came together pretty quickly. (My mom and Gma held down the fort while we were out.)

In October and April, we try to get out to Keeneland for a few races. Travis goes out there quite a bit during the meets, but I try to take a Friday afternoon to join him at least once a meet.

I’ve been fortunate enough to tag along on some work trips which gives us stretches of time together.

We went to Del Mar last August which is one of our favorite places.

I remember after our first vacation as a family, the kids had a scheduled doctor’s appointment when we got home. Our pediatrician said leaving town, even to the beach, is more like a trip than a vacation while kids are little. I agree!

That being said, now that the kids are older, I do feel like we are on more of a relaxing vacation when we go out of town. On vacay, Travis and I will drink our coffee on the beach while the kids sleep in…

…or catch a sunset while on vacay with a glass of wine.

We are so busy that anything outside of the house probably needs to be scheduled. We are fortunate now that the kids are old enough that we can leave them home a bit to run an errand together or go to dinner.

Also, this past year has also proven that the kids have very busy social lives and there have been a handful of times when both kids have had impromptu overnights with friends leaving us with a free evening. Honestly, sometimes that means we order takeout sushi and watch a movie at home rather than go out on the town.

We are at least intentional about spending time together when we can. Even if it’s not a huge “to do” like going to a restaurant.

So, that’s a peek at how we do date nights. I know we should be better at scheduling these, but I’m thankful that I have someone that I enjoy spending so much time with even if it’s grabbing a Starbucks and wandering around Home Depot!

We’ll celebrate 17 years of marriage together in June.

Time flies!

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you have a great day.

Posted in Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello! It’s already the second Wednesday of the month which means Shay and Erika are hosting Let’s Look.

In January we looked at:

  • How you organize for the new year

This month’s topic is: What you eat in a week.

A few things:

I typically incorporate Intermittent Fasting into my routine. That means, I just drink my coffee (with a splash of creamer or a Mini Moo) and then don’t break my fast until lunchtime. I’ve done this pretty consistently for about four years.

I always pack my lunch for school. Always. In twenty years of teaching, I’ve only purchased school lunch when they are serving the Thanksgiving meal. That’s it. To be honest, sometimes I hate packing my lunch, but I know it’s the healthier option and the quickest considering how short lunch is for teachers! I try to make a lunch on Sunday that I can get a couple days out of during the week as well.

I also typically have an afternoon snack whether it’s a protein shake, popcorn, or something else pretty simple. Sometimes, I will have another quick snack (like a smoothie, a few pretzels, etc.) when I get home if I know dinner will be late.

I make dinner at home Sunday-Thursday. I try really hard to make at least two dinners that will provide leftovers. I almost always make something Sunday that can roll into Monday because Mondays are our busiest nights and Mondays are just Mondays sometimes too!

Lastly, I usually do have some kind of sweet treat after dinner. Typically, that will be a cookie, or 70 calorie brownie, or a Built bar.

What I Eat in a Week:

I planned ahead and tried to track what I ate last week. I will say the beginning of the week seems like light eating for me. haha. Monday-Wednesday last week was when I worked late at school and was very busy during the school day. On Monday, I didn’t eat lunch until 3:00, so I feel like the first few days of the week weren’t super typical. Also, we ended up more leftovers than normal (even from takeout), so I ended up repeating some meals for lunch and other dinners.

Also, I didn’t track breakfast because that’s always just coffee with some creamer.

Monday:

Lunch: I made Amy’s Greek bowls and some strawberries.

Snack: Protein shake…this is one of my faves.

Dinner: I had Shay’s Turkey Tortilla Soup waiting for us in the slow cooker when I got home at 7:00.

Dessert: a Fiber One brownie.

Tuesday:

Lunch: same as Monday (Greek bowls) + green grapes

Snack: Skinny Pop

Dinner: leftover soup from Monday

Dessert: about 10 hershey kisses! 😑

Wednesday:

Lunch: Turkey Tortilla Soup (not sure why we had so much left!) and green grapes

Snack: PB & J smoothie

Dinner: Baked chicken, bagged Caesar salad, fruit

Dessert: a Mint Brownie Built Bar Bite (try saying that ten times fast!). I’m new to trying these, but I like them.

Thursday:

Lunch: We were home due to weather, so I had time to make chicken quesadillas for myself and the kids. I also had an apple.

Snack: mini peppers and TJ Buffalo chicken dip (one of my faves!) and then pretzels later.

Dinner: Since it was a cold rainy / snow day, we had brinner which hit the spot! I had strawberries and turkey sausage with my pancakes.

Dessert: I had a glass of red wine while watching Ozark with Travis.

Friday:

Lunch: Again, we were home due to the weather (Travis too), so I made a “Valentine’s Day” lunch.

Snack: veggie, pretzels and hummus

Dinner:

Travis and I had reservations at Bella Cafe for an early Valentine’s Day dinner. I ordered the chicken which came with Brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes. I took home half of the whole meal.

Dessert: We stopped at a favorite place for a glass of wine before heading home.

Saturday:

Breakfast: Proud of myself for saying no to the donuts Travis picked up.

Lunch: I had leftover baked chicken from Wednesday night, an apple, and some Lays potato chips.

Dinner: We had dinner out again with some of Trav’s co-workers and clients. I got the steak medallions, roasted potatoes, and broccoli.

Dessert: two Girl Scout cookies (ugh! but yum!)

Sunday:

Lunch: tortilla wrap with turkey, cheese, veggies, & mustard, an apple, and some pretzels. (I also went ahead and made a couple of wraps to take to school Monday and Tuesday.)

Dinner:

I actually didn’t cook because we were busy and everyone wanted random things. I ended up finishing up my chicken from Friday night, making a quick salad of arugula, feta, salt/pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, and some strawberries.

Dessert: I had made Shay‘s Valentine’s Chex Treats, so I enjoyed one of those for dessert.

So, that’s what I eat in a week! While we usually get take out or go out on Friday and Saturday evenings, it’s unusual that I went to two nice restaurants in one week. I think I made good meal choices, but I also had a bit more wine than usual given the eating out, Valentine’s Day celebration, and I love a snowy evening with a glass of red wine.

What’s one of your favorite “go to” recipes for lunch or dinner? I’d love to add to my rotation!

Thanks so much for reading,

Posted in Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello! It’s a new year with new Let’s Look topics. I’m excited to link up with Shay and Erika for the first Let’s Look of 2 0 2 2 !

This month’s topic is Let’s Look at…how you organize for the new year.

I’m not sure if I’m really any kind of expert on this considering I’m still looking for two pillows that go on my sun room sofa! (*insert all the frustrated emojis, here!*)

Organizing my house:

Step one of organizing for the new year is purge in order to organize my house.

This typically means “all hands on deck” as we move throughout the house and empty closets, toss expired spices, organize the junk drawer, make stacks of books to donate, and so much more.

Last year, I bought this three pack of storage boxes in order to organize my “off season” clothes. Since it finally gets cold after Christmas, I take out my sweaters from these boxes, put them in my closet, and then put my warmer weather clothes in the boxes until late spring. I tried for years to make everything fit in my small closet, and even just using these to move out a few things in the “off season,” does help so much.

Then, it’s time to put away the Christmas decorations. Last year, I bought these storage bags to hold my seasonal pillows. It’s a two pack, and I put fall pillows in one and Christmas pillows in the other one. They are perfect for holding my “regular” throw pillows from September until January.

{looks like these are currently be out of stock?}

Last year is also when I purchased my pencil tree, so I bought these bags. Since I bought another tree this year, I ordered two more. Now, two bags hold the two pencil trees, and the other two bags I use for the kids’ small bedroom trees and our two front porch trees. These bags are definitely life savers for organization.

Storage tubs for Christmas decor and the tree bags are the only things that we store in our attaic. I learned the hard way our first year in this house that the candles should not go up in the attic…they won’t survive the heat of the summer months. Now, I put candles in a smaller storage container with lid and leave them on a shelf in the basement.

Planning Meals:

Not to be cliché’ but January is always the perfect time to get back on track with meal planning. I always search Pinterest for new ideas that will get me excited about cooking. I plan meals throughout the year in order to ensure that we eat mostly at home during the week for dinner and to plan what I need to get to place my Kroger Clicklist order. That being said, I like getting organized with some new recipes to use and meal plan and prep for lunches too as a “fresh” start for the year.

Organizing my life:

Lastly, I always take the time to sit down and write down dates, upcoming practices, activities, to do lists, and even projects that we hope to tackle in the new year. Some of these things I do all year long, but January is always the perfect time to take a look at the upcoming year and plan accordingly.

I’m excited about this link up in 2022! The topics look like so much fun:

How is your week going? We are halfway to the weekend! I can’t wait.

Thanks so much for reading,

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Holidays, Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello! I love writing posts this time of the year because they are so fun sharing about all things holiday related! Reading about how others spend the holidays, what traditions they have, what they bake, and gift ideas are just so special during the holiday season.

In the spirit of the season, today I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for this month’s Let’s Look.

I haven’t been as consistent with my Let’s Look posts, but this year, I’ve shared:

  • Coffee bars (my favorite coffee mugs) in January
  • Love languages in February
  • The perfect night in for March
  • Outdoor organization (I shared my outdoor space) in May
  • Meal planning in September
  • Thanksgiving menu in November

This month’s topic is favorite traditions.

We have so many traditions, and I always enjoy the extra time with my family during the busy holiday season. I hope my kids look back on their childhood and enjoy the things we did as a family in the spirit of Christmas.

The Christmas tree:

We’ve started going to our favorite nursey to pick out a tree for about six years. We used to always have an artificial tree, but after the last one went kaput, we decided to pick one up every year.

The Christmas Shop is always beautifully decorated and has so many options for great trees.

There’s usually hot apple cider and marshmallows to roast by the fire. The floral arrangements and garland are out of this world. Also, their Santa is the best!

Of course, another tradition is putting the ornaments on the tree. It’s always fun to look back on some of the ones the kids made as well as other sentimental ones. My kids know to look for special ones like our wedding ornament, their first Christmas ornaments, the Santa that my grandpa carved, and my ornament from my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Overby!

It’s always a special few minutes when we hang the ornaments on the tree.

Santa:

We make a point to see Santa every year. This year, I wasn’t sure if we’d see him or not, but there he was right in the middle of Union Station in Kansas City when we were there for Thanksgiving. Start about starting the holiday season off on a good note!

2021

Last year, was the drive by with Santa at our club.

2020

Most years, we see our favorite Santa at the Christmas Shop.

Again, as the kids get older, I guess this is a tradition that may not continue. But, if the opportunity presents itself, I guess you are never too old for a photo with the big guy!

Christmas parties:

Christmas parties are another fun tradition, but they vary year to year. We always try to go to Trav’s work Christmas party. Sometimes we gather with friends or neighbors for get togethers as well. We’ve also done cookie exchanges and favorite things.

We love celebrating with friends and family throughout December.

2021
2017

Baking cookies:

We bake cookies every year. Usually, I just wait until we are out of school, and we bake a few cookies for Santa. We’ll share with neighbors and teachers too.

We typically do a sugar cookie, and then I always make the peanut butter kiss ones, and chocolate peppermint crinkle. Hadley and Hayden both help me, and now can even bake pretty independently on their own.

When we go to KC, we typically bake a few cookies with my mom, Gma, and aunt. Last year, my mom came to visit us, and we baked while she was here.

Holiday Lights:

I’ve shared before about growing up going to lights in the park, and once I moved to Kentucky, Travis and I made it a tradition to go to Southern Lights every year.

We also drive around and check out some of the houses in town that we know are always so festive.

Last year, we went to Mustard Seed Hill, and that was a really great experience too.

Christmas Cards:

We do Christmas cards every year. Hayden’s a big fan of this tradition. #sarcasm

The card is typically just the kids (and Homer!) because no matter how much I try to think we can get a family photo in the fall, it’s very rare to happen.

Thankfully, the kids dressing up and smiling has gotten a little easier through the years. I don’t feel like we get as many cards as we used to, so I know this tradition may be one that doesn’t hold year to year for all, but I truly love checking the mail in December and seeing what family and friends have been up to throughout the year.

2020
2019
2018
2015
2014

A few more traditions:

As far as traditions, we also buy for a couple of Angel tree kids every year. We always try to choose kids who are my kids’ age. You know I love Amazon, but I insist on us going to Target in person to have the kids choose the gifts. It’s such a meaningful experience, and very important to me that my kids understand the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.

I always buy the kids some Christmas pajamas for their birthday, and I love seeing them wear them throughout the winter months.

Another favorite tradition is taking the kids to choose gifts for each other. When they were little, we’d split up in Kid R Us and let them choose. We wouldn’t be in the car for two minutes, and they’d tell each other what they chose.

As the kids have gotten older, we try to find an evening when we can go get the gifts and then go out to dinner. Now, we even split up, and I take Hayden somewhere (like Bath and Body) to get a gift for Hadley while Travis and Hadley go to Dick’s Sporting Goods or a bookstore for Hayden. Then, we’ll meet up for dinner. We usually let the kids exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. It’s so special seeing them enjoy what they chose for each other.

Gift exchange in Christmas pjs

We also love the tradition of Christmas Eve service at church when we are in town to attend.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? I can’t wait to see what others have to share.

See you back here on Friday for this week’s favorites. It will definitely be a festive Friday themed post.

Posted in Holidays, Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello! How’s your week going? I can’t believe it’s already the second Wednesday of the month, so I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for Let’s Look.

I haven’t been as consistent with my Let’s Look posts, but so far this year, I’ve shared:

  • Coffee bars (my favorite coffee mugs) in January
  • Love languages in February
  • The perfect night in for March
  • Outdoor organization (I shared my outdoor space) in May
  • Meal planning in September

This month’s topic is Thanksgiving Menu.

I think I’ve shared in previous posts, but we are typically with family on Thanksgiving which means I’ve rarely had to do much cooking! Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because there isn’t the stress of buying presents, the food is delicious, and I love starting my morning with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

For Thanksgiving, besides seeing family and the great food, I love a good table scape.

My cousin always knocks it out of the park with her holiday decor:

2019
Who doesn’t love a personalized chocolate turkey?

With the 2020 restrictions, last year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with only my brother’s family. So, we didn’t see extended family, but at least we were able to get together with nearby relatives.

My sister-in-law outdid herself as well with the dinner table.

I believe she got the place cards off Etsy, and then everyone had a delicious cookie on their place setting.

The only time I eat the school lunch is when they serve the Thanksgiving menu. It’s always a day to look forward to!

Thanksgiving Menu:

On the big day, we are pretty traditional with our Thanksgiving food:

  • Turkey
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Green beans or green bean casserole
  • Hash brown casserole
  • Cornbread casserole
  • Stuffing
  • Mac and cheese
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Rolls
  • Pumpkin and pecan pie

Last year, we had a friend deep fry the turkey. Then, my sister-in-law and I split up some of the side items. I made sausage dressing for the first time ever, and it was delish.

Pumpkin pie is my favorite fall dessert. I actually plan on making one this weekend! Then, we’ll have one again for Thanksgiving. (Fun fact: I like my pumpkin pie served cold.)

So, that’s a look at our Thanksgiving menu!

Next month’s topic is: favorite traditions. Well, we have many! I can’t wait to share.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving menu item? I’ve seen this graphic shared before, and I’m definitely more Missouri than Kentucky! #givemeallthecarbs

Thanks so much for reading,

Posted in Let's look, Meals and Recipes

(Let’s Look) Meal Planning

Well, this four day week has apparently gotten me all messed up! I was off on my days and shared my posts on the wrong days (insert hand on forehead emjoi!)

Yesterday, Shay and Erika shared Let’s Look: Meal Planning, and I’m doing so today. #betterlatethannever

I was a girl who always needed a plan before I was ever a working mom with two very busy kids who most definitely needs a plan because…

There are mornings that my kids wake up and ask me what’s for dinner!

Meal Planning:

Here’s a little look at my process:

  • I have a paper calendar on the fridge where I write down all of our weekly activities. I sit down on Saturday night or Sunday to write those activities out and then I plan the meals accordingly.
  • Then, I make my grocery list before placing my Clicklist order. I can’t live without Clicklist. Sometimes, if I can’t figure out what I want to make, Travis just tells me he will go to the store mid-week for whatever we need. I act like I can’t go to the grocery store more than once in a week! 😂 . Honestly, for years, I did Clicklist pick up and that was it. As the kids have gotten busier and I can’t always plan the whole week, I will do grocery pick up on Sunday and then go to the store Thursday if we need something for dinner that night or if they were out of stock on something during my weekend pick up.
  • For me, Clicklist pick up is usually Sunday afternoon. Occasionally, I will do Monday pick up after school. If I do that, sometimes I will run to Kroger for whatever ingredients we need for Sunday night dinner.
  • I do try to cook Monday-Thursday, and my general plan is to make something on Sunday with leftovers for Monday. Mondays just seem to be the hardest day of the week, so I like not having to think about what to make for dinner. Then, Tuesday is either a slow cooker meal or we do rotisserie chicken with Bob Evans mashed potatoes and fruit (That’s what we had for dinner Tuesday night). For Wednesday, I often make a pasta that will make enough leftovers for Thursday night. Both Wednesday and Thursday dinners, I will serve with salad, broccoli, or green beans.
  • Like I said, once we went back to school in March and our lives started to be busier again, I at least plan for Sunday-Wednesday, and then pop into Kroger or Fresh Market for Thursday dinner if needed along with a few fresh items like strawberries or other fruit that we might want for the weekend. I’ve noticed I don’t dread going into the store if I know that it’s only for a few things.

Other Thoughts:

  • It’s easier to double up recipes in winter for things like soups, chili, and casseroles.
  • We grill a lot in the summer which is nice to only have to think about quick side dishes like baked beans, pasta salad, and watermelon.
  • I always forget about breakfast for dinner. We did that recently, and everyone was so excited for dinner.
  • I go to Trader Joe’s every other week or so. I might go once a week in the fall and winter when there are more seasonal faves that we might want more often. There’s not really anything that I buy at Trader Joe’s that I’d also buy at Kroger. For example, I typically get produce at Kroger and not at Trader Joe’s (unless we are out of something at the time). I go to TJ for Trader Joe’s only items like buffalo chicken dip, Chomps, my favorite Havarti/dill cheese, pumpkin bagels, and more!
  • If I can get organized, I prefer grocery pickup on Saturday. I’d love to get to the point where I pick up on Friday after school! I’d really be on top of my life if I could do that!
  • At least once a month, I try to just buy what we need for dinner that week. That forces the kids to finish up whatever chips we have on hand, eat the two yogurts that are left in the fridge, etc.
  • I’m not great about meal prepping for breakfast, but I did make an egg casserole a couple of weeks ago, and it was so nice to have on hand throughout the week. I tend to eat the same kinds of things for lunch or have leftovers from dinner the night before.
  • I do try to make one new recipe a week. I tend to do a really good job of this starting in January. I pin a lot of things on Pinterest and tell myself that if I have the time to do that, then I should make sure to try one new recipe a week.
  • I use my slow cooker at least once a week and even more so in the fall and winter months.
  • I have an Instant Pot and do use it but more so in the fall and winter months. If I had to choose, though, the slow cooker is my favorite!

What about you? How do you meal plan? I really enjoyed reading so many posts yesterday about how others meal plan. It’s amazing to me that those who meal plan/prep do so a bit differently.

I’ll be back tomorrow for Friday Favorites. I’ve lost track of time this week, but I definitely know that tomorrow is Friday!

Posted in Home Decor, Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello! It’s the second Wednesday of the month, so Shay and Erika are hosting their Let’s Look link up.

  • In January, we looked at our coffee bars (I shared my favorite coffee mugs)
  • In February, we looked at our love languages.
  • In March, we looked at the perfect night in.
  • In April, the topic was: fridge and pantry.

This month’s topics is: outdoor organization.

Well, kind of like when I shared my recent spring cleaning post, I should probably just let Travis write this post. I’m not sure the method to his madness, but he does have our garage and outside area pretty organized.

Today, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share our outdoor spaces.

Warning: photo overload. I will never have to do a yard post ever again 😂

We took this photo on Mother’s Day, and I love it because my Mother’s Day gifts can be seen. The kids and I are so far away that I joked with Travis that he wanted everyone to see the planter boxes he had made for my gift! Every year, I ask for a card and two hanging ferns, but this year, I got the bonus of the beautiful planters and flowers!

Here are the kids picking out my ferns last year:

Mother’s Day 2020

Someone at Trav’s work made the planters.

We also got new cushions for the front porch chairs. The front porch is great for sitting in the afternoon and evening.

I love the button detail on the back cushion, and the accent pillow is my favorite color palette. I found them at the At Home store….and I was lucky to find these because the outdoor section looked like a patio cushion graveyard!

(Do you spy Homer?) 😉

Every spring these pretty bushes bloom, and the flowers smell so pretty. I know nothing about flowers (again, that’s Trav’s expertise), but they are such a pretty surprise each spring.

Every spring, Travis plants New Guinea impatiens in the front. Last year, Hadley helped him!

2020

I have a feeling Travis will fuss at me for showing this area. Every year, he plants something new over here, and this area is just getting started for spring 2021.

In our backyard, we have our fire pit. When we moved in, we had a massive tree in the front yard that was dying, so we had it cut down. We used some of the wood from the trunk for seating around the fire pit.

S’mores roasting last spring…

2020

In June/July the day lilies bloom, and they are so pretty against our fence line.

2016

We try to use our patio as often as possible, and the lights make it feel extra cozy at night.

2019

Travis power washed the patio last weekend. I wish I had taken a “before” photo because the difference is always amazing!

Here it is freshly power washed with flowers and new cushions.

The Japanese Maple is one of my favorite parts of the back yard. The kids climbed on it each time we looked at this house when it was for sale.

They’ve continued to play in it and climb up in through the years…

2015
2016

These green cushions were on our front porch chairs. They are in great condition because our front porch is covered, so we are using them out back now.

While at the At Home store, I picked up the yellow pillows and the riser on the table.

The planters on each side of the loveseat are from Pier One and were on our 2005 wedding registry. They are perfect for the patio.

**We usually put a smaller pot of flowers on the bottom rack of each planter, but last year, Homer snagged the flowers and ran around the yard with them in his mouth! So, the small ones, in the white pots on the table, are going to be a test for Homer 😉

We’ve had this table and chairs since 2004 when we moved into our first home. This set has sat on three patios in the last seventeen years. The are black, and Travis just recently spray painted them to bring them back to life. I kind of rolled my eyes when he said he was going to do that, but they look so great! I can’t believe I forgot that spray paint can fix anything! haha

The seat cushions are new from At Home as well. All of our cushions were at least 5-7 years old, so we’d penciled in replacing them as a “to do” for this spring. Also, the ones before these, were just the seat cushion, and a few had been #homered over the past two summers.

My “home” flower pot is one that I ordered from Etsy last year. I’ve shared the shop in previous posts.

The pots are hand painted and so pretty! We’ve used them as teacher and birthday gifts in the past year.

Speaking of spray paint, this little table was from my childhood backyard. I’ve had it for years, and at one point, I spray painted it green. This year, I wanted to put pots of various sizes and flowers of various colors on it.

Besides peonies, hydrangeas are my favorite flower. We had a hydrangea plant at our last house, and Travis planted another one when we moved into our current house. Also, our hostas get bigger and bigger every year!

I love pink and purple flowers in the spring!

In one week, this will be my view as I sip my morning coffee! I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Next month’s topics is: summer bucket list.

Last summer’s bucket list included: baking, tie dye, vacation, going canoeing, drawing, and golf lessons. I guess I need to get the kids thinking about what they want to do this summer.

As always, thanks so much for stopping by and reading today’s post! Make sure to check out the other ladies’ posts too!

Take care,