My Spring Garden Tour + A Date Night in St Louis

Hi friends!

At long last, things are slowing down. I went from working 54 hour per week, to 47, to now just under 43 this week. PPP funding is still open until March 31st, but the loan volume has slowed dramatically from when it first opened up in February. I actually found time this week to do a short health and wellness post on Thursday. In case you missed it, it was about the connection between gut health and nature. I have it linked here if you’d like to go back and read it.

I made a switch this week and did my meal prepping Saturday morning so Michael and I would be free to enjoy the rest of our weekend. Once upon a time (i.e. before Michael) my weekend routine included cleaning on Saturday mornings, so it was sort of a throw back to my previous life! At any rate, I got it all done – and even recorded it! For the first time ever I have a video of my meal prep, which I posted over on Instagram as an IGTV video.

Of course my prep-ahead dishes are always Michael’s for the week, so I’ll give you the full report on next Sunday’s blog which includes our weeknight dinners – which at this point have yet to be made. In case you aren’t following me on Instagram, I will be sharing the meal prep video next week as well. To tide you over, I managed to snap a few photos of dishes I’ve been making over the last few weeks that I’ve been on a blogging hiatus.

Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup
Balsamic Bean & Mushroom Salad
Vegan Banana Bread

This week has been my personal best of 2021 so far! For the second week in a row we had days in the upper 60’s, with lots of sun and no wind. It was absolutely gorgeous and provided the perfect weather to start my Spring gardening season! I like in Southeast Missouri, which is in planting zone 6. That means we can start our cool weather vegetables over these next couple of weeks.

Long before I was a nutrition researcher or a plant-based advocate, I was a gardener. I grew up in the country outside of the small town of Perryville, Missouri. I spent my summers at my grandparents’ house, and they always had a large garden. Grandma even canned tomatoes and green beans – they had a long hallway in their basement that ran from the back door down to Grandpa’s work area. The hallway was a long row of closets, and I can remember the shelves of the first couple of closets being stacked full with vegetables canned from the garden. Both of my grandparents were raised on farms – Grandma on a dairy and Grandpa on a traditional “we do it all” style farm. So growing and canning food was a natural way of life for them.

They’ve stopped doing it as they’ve aged – it is a lot of hard work, after all. But it played a large part in shaping my own habits and relationship with food. When I was a kid, I was raised on processed foods just like a majority of kids in America are. But our dinners were always homemade and included veggies, and so even though there was nothing I loved more than mozzarella cheese sticks, Coca-Cola, easy-cheese in a can, and roast beef lunch meat slices (my picks every time we went grocery shopping), I also developed a love for vegetables.

I can remember kids talking in elementary school about how gross spinach was, and I would sit in silence afraid to admit that spinach was my absolute favorite, for fear of being shunned. In fact, when my mom would make canned spinach, she and my dad would take their servings and I was allowed to finish off the rest of the bowl because I loved it so much! I loved my processed junk, but I loved my veggies too. And nothing was more fun than helping Grandma and Grandpa in the garden. We didn’t have a garden at my parents’ house every year, but we did quite often and I got to grow some of my own veggies.

I planted potatoes once, outside of the parameters of the garden. These weren’t seed potatoes meant for planting, but regular old grocery store potatoes out of the bag. I cut up a couple and planted them, despite my parents telling me those wouldn’t grow. But grow they did! Unfortunately my dad failed to notice my successful green thumb and mowed off the tiny emerging plants. I remember being so mad at him for that! I couldn’t have been more than 8 years old that summer.

Fast forward to my 35-year-old self, and I’m now growing my own gardens. I have been every year of my adult life, although I’ve had to adapt a great deal since buying my current home. Cape Girardeau, Missouri was developed in a very hilly and heavily forested piece of landscape. Most of the neighborhoods are still wrought with large, mature trees – a gardener’s worst nightmare. It wasn’t until buying this house in 2017 that I truly understood the importance of sunlight in gardening. I naively believed I’d be able to grow the same garden in my back yard that I always had – and finally had the first major garden failure of my life.

The spot I’d originally chosen was shaded all but about 3-4 hours of the day, so nothing was successful. Plants would grow, but they would not mature or produce anything. I had a tree removed after that first growing season, but it did little to help as the biggest culprit of the shade was a massive tree at the corner of my neighbor’s back yard, which I can’t remove. I started dating Michael in 2019, and he is an engineer who can build just about anything you’d ever want. I had purchased a raised bed to set up in the sunniest part of my yard (it gets 6-7 hours of sunlight – the bare minimum for plants needing full sun), and was planning to build some sort of structure to cover it to keep the squirrels from stealing all of my tomatoes.

Michael came to the rescue and designed something better than I ever could have come up with on my own as a novice builder, and he and my son worked together to bring it to life. I now have an 8 x 4 raised bed with a 6 foot high enclosure for my tomatoes. I also had another 8 x 4 raised bed made from concrete blocks where I planted greens in the spring and green beans in the summer. Last year I bought a greenhouse cover to put over it and realized what a game-changer it was for my low-light problem.

I’d never needed a greenhouse before, living in areas with no tree cover and blinding sunshine from sunrise to sunset. But last year’s gardening season was leaps and bounds better. It was my fourth season at this house, and I was finally getting the hang of it. This year, I’m making some changes to expand my garden. I relocated my concrete block raised bed, and doubled it in size creating an “L” shape around my tomato cage. I’ve pinpointed this area as the one spot in my yard with the most hours of sun during the day.

I also purchased a second greenhouse cover. This will allow me to get away from using large pots as overflow for my greens, and have them all in the ground under a greenhouse. I bought more concrete blocks and soil from Menards, plus some grass seed to fill in the former raised bed space. I relocated the garden bed, shoveled in all of the soil from the old location, then added 8 (2 cubic foot) bags of new garden soil. Then, since I have greenhouse covers, I went ahead and planted all of my seeds.

I put out beets, carrots, peas, green onions, radishes, spinach, arugula, endive, a spicy mesculin mix and a looseleaf lettuce mix. The new greenhouse arrived Thursday, so that evening I took my work light outside and put it together, then got it over the garden. Now it’s all set up and ready to grow! The last thing I need to do, aside from keeping it watered, is run string between my two pea trellises to give them space to climb. I did a little garden tour video here for you!

Spring Garden Tour

I’ve been aching to get out and do things this week with all of the beautiful weather! Aside from starting back up my outdoor lunchtime walks, I’ve also been inspired to get dressed up a little (I’ve lived in leggings and sweaters all winter) and leave the house. Michael and I met at an event called Beer:30 put on the first Thursday of each month at a local business called Codefi. We haven’t been since the pandemic started, but they were having an event this week so we decided to go.

This month they were having giveaways, and I actually won a bottle of Chardonnay! I threw together a quick dinner when we got home, then set Michael up on my patio bench with a chilled glass while I assembled my greenhouse.

Yesterday we got to have a little adventure. Michael’s brother and sister-in-law live in the Chicago suburbs, but they both work from home which means they can live anywhere. They’ve decided to move back closer to home and buy some land to build a house on. They have some acreage for hiking, four-wheeling and general exploring, and they wanted the family to come up and take a tour of it with them. Their land is smack in the middle between here and St. Louis, so we decided to make our date night count.

We stopped and spent an hour touring his brother’s land. I’m really excited for them! It reminds me a lot of my grandpa’s farm, where we have our cabin and our family just bought a new camper to set up out there. We did a fall hike this year and I flagged off a hiking trail, which we will soon be working on clearing as the plants all spring back to life. Their house is expected to be finished by Christmas, so next Spring they’ll have their very own land to have adventures on. Michael and I were also talking about how cool it would be to have them around to explore St Louis with, because they’re the closest to our age (Michael is the oldest, and this is the next sibling under him) and don’t have kids, so they have lots of freedom.

One thing I miss so much with this pandemic are all of the events in the city. Nothing is happening right now – the virus is understandably worse in a large urban area, so events aren’t happening, and restaurants and businesses are restricted to half-capacity. Which pretty much means you need a reservation to get in anywhere, so no spontaneous decisions. My absolute favorite restaurant in the city, which is definitely not plant-friendly, is Broadway Oyster Bar. So I made a reservation and Michael and I ventured up there for our date night after we finished touring his brother’s land.

There was definitely nothing plant-based about it, but I’m very much okay with having the occasional non-healthy meal. In fact, I pretty much plan for it every other Saturday when Michael and I are kid-free and get to have our date nights. This is our time to live it up and do what we want – and as a plant-based health coach I can tell you that I encourage this, because giving yourself a little freedom to have the things you enjoy from time-to-time will help you stay on track the rest of the time. It’s when tell ourselves “I can’t have that ever again, even though I love it” that we are most likely to give up and return to our old ways. Planning, discipline, and not being too hard on ourselves will take us far!

Now it’s time for me to head out on a little adventure of my own. Right as this post goes live, I will be on my way to my family farm to spend a couple of hours with my family before I have to pick up my boys from their dad. It’s been a wonderful, full, happy week, and I’m ready for more sunny and warm days to come. Wishing you all lots of love and adventures this upcoming Spring!


I’m Officially the Mom of a Licensed Driver!

Hi Friends!

I don’t have much time for writing, but I wanted to hop on here and give you all a quick update since no posts went live last week. You might know from older posts that I work full time in the SBA department at a bank…and if you’ve been following the news then you know the government passed another stimulus bill in December. That bill came with more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which means I’m back to working overtime to get PPP funds out to borrowers. We’ve had around a thousand applications, and there is a team of five of us working to process them, not including the lenders who are working with the borrowers through the application process.

All of that means – no free time for writing right now. I even worked this morning until about noon, and have a two hour reprieve until I go pick my boys up from their dad. That means no food prep happened today, and I essentially just bought lots of processed quick food for next week. I hate doing that, but I just don’t have the time to food prep or prepare meals right now. Also, this was our kid-free weekend so I spent Saturday with Michael…which means I had to get caught up on work today since I didn’t work at all yesterday.

Michael’s dad’s birthday is tomorrow, so they celebrated over the weekend. Michael’s siblings were in town, including a sister who lives in Virginia and a brother who lives in Chicago. We went to his parents’ house to spend some time with them yesterday, then did a little shopping. We stopped by Hobby Lobby where I spotted a new vase – I’m thrilled to see that green seems to be the color of the upcoming spring! Green is my favorite color and it’s been quite some time since it was trending. So I couldn’t resist the vase.

Then we went by TJ Maxx because Michael’s cutting board broke and he needed a new one. We found one for him, for $4.99. As for me…I went in for nothing and ended up spending $75!! I found a couple of mixing bowls, which I’ve been needing for a while, that match the other white platters and bowls I have with the dots around the rim. I found a copper salt and pepper grinder set that I didn’t need but bought anyway. Michael spotted a pineapple cutter – which I already have but it’s plastic and can’t go in the dishwasher (the last one I had warped) so it has to be washed by hand. It’s a major pain because it’s basically a tube and it’s hard to get a rag down it. The one he spotted was stainless steel, so I definitely scooped that up.

After that I told him not to let me get anything else! Then he wandered over to the men’s clothes to browse (he picked up nothing), so I wandered to the women’s clothes. I was excited to see they had some Spring dresses out! He texted me and said to come on, he was at the check out. So I walked up, two new dresses in tow, and told him “see what happens when you leave me alone?!” Luckily I always over-budget to leave wiggle room for things like this!

And now for the big news of the week – HUNTER TURNED 16 ON THURSDAY!!! I cannot believe I have a DRIVER in the house! It was raining on Thursday, so I took him Friday morning for his driver’s test, which he passed, and then over to the DMV to get his license. He is now a licensed driver and can drive on his own. It’s awesome because now he can drive himself and his brother to school so I don’t have to leave the house at all since I work from home! But it’s also terrifying because he can now venture a lot farther from home than when he was just riding a bike to get around. I made him share his location with me, but since that isn’t always very reliable (it tends to show up “location not available” quite a bit), I also downloaded the find my friends app so I can keep track of him on there.

He also is going to be applying for jobs next week, so he’ll be adding some working hours to his weekly schedule very soon. Money for gas and taking his girlfriend on dates…my first-born is growing up so fast its terrifying!

Okay friends, that’s about all that I have time for right now. I need to get changed and run by Michael’s house to drop some things off, then go pick up my boys. As soon as work slows down, I promise I will be back with more nutrition posts and thorough Sunday blogs with meal plans and photos. Please bear with me until then!!


Weekly Meal Plan and My Bedroom Update

Happy Sunday Friends!

I hope you’ve had a lovely week! I’ve just finished my weekly food prepping and am now writing to you before I go visit my grandparents, then pick up my boys from their dad. First things first, I will start with what is on the menu for this week!

I’ve just finished prepping a balsamic three bean salad for lunches this week, which is a recipe I got from Taste of Home. It is a blend of green beans, kidney beans and cannellini beans, which I put on a base of spinach and arugula mix and topped with some chopped red onion and cherry tomatoes for a full lunch salad. And as always, I’ve blended him up a few smoothies in mason jars for breakfast.

For our dinners I’m testing out a plant based alfredo sauce recipe with a cashew base, and I’m also making a pork tenderloin for the boys (I make them one meat-friendly meal per week) with a plant based scalloped potato recipe which I am also testing for the first time! I have some tempeh for myself to sub in for that meal. And for Michael’s dinner prep for the week I’ve made balsamic chicken and vegetables from Better Homes & Gardens – except I left out the Italian dressing because of all the oil and instead used a white wine vinegar blended with Italian Seasonings, a bit of Stevia and a splash of water. I also air fried the chicken tenderloins to avoid the oil.

Balsamic Chicken & Vegetables
Balsamic Three Bean Salad

Guess who remembered to take pictures this week! If you remember from last week’s meal plan, I made tomato soup one night and falafel gyros another night. I actually did take photos and will share them below this paragraph. I think that next Sunday’s blog I may actually skip the meal prep so that I can get one week ahead. I think it would be more beneficial to you to see photos of the meals that I’m sharing in my Sunday blog, instead of meals that don’t match the meal plan. I will just have to make sure I commit myself to snapping those photos!!

Tomato Basil Soup & Salad
Falafel Gyro with Salad & Fries

I talked in last Sunday’s blog about new bedding I had purchased, and I have to tell you that everything I ordered from Amazon ended up being returned. The all-season down alternative comforter I purchased was way too hot. I am always freezing and it takes a LOT for me to get too hot – so if I’m saying it’s too hot, then it’s really bad! I returned the comforter and opted for this light weight down alternative comforter from Target. It was nice to be able to just walk into the store, buy it, take it home and see if I liked it. It turned out to be absolutely perfect and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it! I managed to pick it up on the last day of their online sale ($15 off), and since the store will price match their online prices I got it for the online sale price.

The duvet cover was another travesty – I’m learning that in addition to electronics, you also cannot trust the reviews for bedding on Amazon! It was a linen/cotton blend and reviews were stellar – almost all five star. It even had 4.6 stars for softness, which blows my mind because that was the roughest, scratchiest fabric I’ve ever slept under! It was like sandpaper against my chin and neck all night, so I returned it immediately. I searched through Wayfair, Overstock, Macy’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond. I even found one I loved at Pottery Barn, but of course the price point was outrageous there – almost $200 for just the duvet, and even more for the pillow shams which are sold separately – so I said nope to that one.

I decided to give my trusty ol’ Target a try again. I figured I could at least feel the fabric in person before buying it, and if it didn’t work I didn’t have to ship anything back, I could just return it to the store. I chose this white waffle weave duvet cover which is currently on sale for 50% off (score! I spent half as much on bedding at Target as I did on Amazon!), and I wasn’t sure about it at first. It only has ties in the corners, none on the sides (I figured I can sew some on if needed), but it turns out that it stays in place perfectly well without any on the sides. I had to sleep under it for a night to see what I really thought – and I love it! It is perfect and I am thrilled with my new bedding!

Speaking of a bedroom update, Michael and I had our kid-free Saturday yesterday, which is one of two days per month that we spend with each other. Last weekend we took a big step forward – we went from dreaming of one day having a future together, to setting a timeline in place and starting to plan for the future. I made a list this week of the things I need to do to my house to have it ready to sell in two years, and Michael and I ventured out to do a little pricing. He needs to replace flooring in his basement, so we did some pricing on that. We also stopped by a furniture store to price living room and bedroom furniture to help us figure out how much money we need to save over the next couple of years to buy a new home, and be able to furnish and update it. There is still lots to discuss and plan, but we got a good start!

We also ventured out to a couple of local shops to pick up some oyster mushrooms and red miso for miso soup. And we found some veggie dumplings at the Asian market so we had those with our soup. For dinner I made the seafood cioppino as planned, but I skipped the beans and ended up sticking to the seafood. I eat meat about once per week, so last night was my night. It was so good and I very much enjoyed it! Michael has the leftovers, though, because one serving was enough for me.

I almost forgot! One more update from last week – Michael’s car. It turns out that it was not his transmission, but a broken axle. A much, much less expensive fix and the car drives on. Luck was definitely in his favor!

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a video about my fruit and veggie wash to edit for Instagram, and a few more episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show to watch before I finish the series. Happy Sunday!


This Week’s Meal Plan, Cozy New Bedding, and an Unfortunate Event

Hello my friends!

It is another Sunday, and another morning of meal prepping is now behind me. Fruits and veggies are washed for the week, and Michael’s breakfasts, lunches, and a dinner are sitting in his fridge. The meals have also been planned for the week, and the groceries purchased and ready to prepare them. I plan two meals for us to have per week as a family, plus the meal I make for Michael to eat on throughout the week when we aren’t having dinner together. Also since next weekend we are kid-free, we get to have our date night. Instead of going out, we decided to eat in because he’s been craving “that seafood tomato stuff” I made him a couple of times before. He also has crab legs in his freezer he’s been itching to make. So we’re going to have a seafood night – although for me I’ll only have a few bites of the seafood, and will be using beans in the same broth for my main dish. Here is the weekly plan:

One of these days I will get better at remembering to take photos, but today was not that day! I only remembered photos when I came here to finish blogging, and the food was cooked, done and at Michael’s house. I get so focused on the cooking that I forget to photograph it – and you would be shocked at how time consuming it is to actually pause to get good blog-worthy food shots! It is my plan to share my weekly meal prep photos with you here, however, so I am going to make myself do better at remembering.

I did make a delicious lasagna this week that I remembered to take photos of! If you missed it, I shared that recipe on a post earlier this week, which I have linked here.

Moving away from the food front, it was another eventful week. I started reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and am already halfway through. I also finished my annual tradition of writing letters to my boys. Each year in the first week (or so) of January I write letters to my boys highlighting accomplishments and changes they made over the last year, and giving them advice for their futures. My plan is to deliver all of the letters to them in one large envelope when they move out on their own to start their lives as adults.

Writing these letters also led to a junk drawer clean-out, which was rather therapeutic. I write these letters each year and stash them in the drawer, but there are so many now (this is year number seven) that it was time to get them all in order and put them in a better place. So I purged and sorted the junk drawer and found all of the previous six years of letters and started an envelope for each child, placing the letters inside by oldest to newest.

This was also the week for something overdue. When it comes to style – both home and wardrobe – I like to go with timeless pieces so I can purchase once and use until it’s worn out, instead of just for a season as is the case with trendy items. As a result, the pretty white comforter I’ve been using is finally reaching the end of its useful life – or at least its aesthetically pleasing life. It will still do its job in keeping me warm, but after six years it has finally become discolored at the top where I grab it to pull it up, and then rest it against my face while I sleep. Even bleaching it doesn’t help anymore, and threads are starting to come out, so it was time to retire it and bring in something new.

Before I had that comforter, I had a down comforter for several years. I loved having a duvet cover I could slip off to wash because comforters are a tight squeeze in the washer and I’d rather not have to go to a laundromat to use an extra-large washer and dryer. So I’ve decided to go back that route, except this time I purchased a down alternative comforter. I did a little research on down comforters and learned that they stopped live plucking back in 2014…but they instead pluck the feathers from dead geese that have been mass farmed for food. My personal preference is to give as little support as possible to the mass farming industry that is not only cruel, but also largely responsible for climate change as well as risk for virus outbreaks just like the pandemic we are currently experiencing.

So for ethical reasons I ordered this down alternative comforter from Amazon, and a linen blend duvet cover that arrived yesterday and I’m returning for another. I loved the texture and style, but I ordered a natural color thinking it would be a pretty neutral contrast with my white furniture. But the color just wasn’t right in my room. I called my boys into my room to get their opinions and they both agreed that they liked white better. So I started a return and ordered this white linen blend duvet instead to replace it. The comforter arrives sometime today, and the new duvet will be here tomorrow. I will be sure to share my review of both once I get to test them out.

Another exciting order finally arrived this week. I ordered a blackhead remover from Vumae Skin during the week of Thanksgiving that was lost by USPS (I ‘m sure you’re shocked and dismayed by this), so they had to send a new one. It came via Amazon Prime this time and arrived in two days. I’ve been wanting one for so long, and this one was 60% off so I pulled the trigger. My youngest son and I both have acne prone skin, so we’ll both benefit from it. We each used it for the first time, and my skin felt awesome afterwards! It removed dirt, dead skin and gunk from my pores. It exfoliated my skin and left it feeling soft, and the natural oils seemed to return once the dead skin was gone. The one I purchased is no longer available, but there are so many of these on the market that it is easy to find one if you’d like to give it a try. Walmart even has a few, so there are low price point options as well as the fancy high-end ones (mine cost me $40 but was originally $100).

This weekend proved to be even more eventful. Yesterday Logan and I joined Michael and his kids to help remove cabinets and clean out storage at his grandparents house. They’ve moved into assisted living and his dad and stepmom are working to get the house ready to sell. They’re having new cabinets installed and the floor refinished. so the old cabinets had to go. Michael always wanted to buy his grandparents house when the time came so he wanted me to see it. We’ve been together almost two years, and we know that we want to have a home together, we just are not in a rush to do it because we both own our homes and have kids, so it’s not just us and not just a matter of one of us moving in with the other. We’d have to both sell our homes and use the equity to buy a home big enough for six.

Talking about this “in the future” is as far as we had discussed so far, but the topic came up seriously yesterday. The house was actually perfect. It met all of my musts for a house – an L shaped kitchen with a huge island, a dining room large enough for a big table and a buffet, a master bedroom big enough for a king bed and a closet big enough for all of our clothes, and a tree-free yard where I can grow a successful garden. It also met Michael’s requirements – enough bedrooms for each kid to have their own room and the possibility for a large stand-up shower in the master (it doesn’t have that currently, but could easily have one put in).

It also is on a golf course – hole 9 is basically in the back yard – so Michael would be thrilled. And it has a paved path for golf carts that I could do my daily walks on. The entire back of the house is filled with windows and skylights, with a deck that stretches the width of the house and a concrete patio on the walkout basement below that could be easily screened in for when mosquitoes get bad in the summer. They also already have to redo the kitchen, so if we were to buy it we could select the finishes – so not only would I have the perfect kitchen layout, but I could actually have the kitchen of my dreams because it’s a blank slate.

In the same day we went from seriously considering it, to talking ourselves out of it completely. The struggle is – it isn’t in the town where we currently live. We are in Cape Girardeau and the house is in Jackson. They are right next door to each other in the same county, but they each have their own school district. Which means if we moved there the boys would no longer be able to go to their current school. And unlike when we left Perryville to move to Cape, they don’t want to change schools now. Hunter is a sophomore in high school and Logan starts high school next year. They love their school and their friends and don’t want to start over somewhere else – and I don’t blame them.

We could try to use a family member’s address to keep them in the Cape school district, but if we were found out they’d be left with no choice but to change schools and that’s a risk I’d rather not take. Michael briefly considered going ahead and buying the house himself, but with the equity from his house only (since I would be staying in mine instead of selling it for a down payment), and paying the mortgage by himself for four years until I could move in, it would be a stretch to afford it on his own for that long.

And then…as we were in the car talking about the kitchen remodel while going to swap out the empty propane tank from the back porch heater, we were brought back to reality. As we were turning into the gas station, there was suddenly a loud bang from underneath our feet, followed by grinding and shuddering as the car slowed to a stop in front of the gas pump. If there was any doubt that it was the transmission, it was confirmed when he put it in park, got out of the car, and it started to roll backwards so I reached over and pulled the emergency break. Every gear was gone…no park, reverse, drive…nothing.

The car has a crazy amount of miles on it because he drives 35-40 miles one way to work every single day, so it was probably due for something to go wrong and yesterday proved to be the day. It is now at the shop awaiting opening tomorrow for diagnosis and repair. It’s intended to be his daughter’s car come July when she turns 16 and he’ll be getting a new one, so on the plus side now her car will have a fresh new transmission!

The situation reminded us that all the dreaming in the world about a future home is fine, but it doesn’t need to be a sudden or rushed decision because life has ways of throwing us curve balls. We need to plan and prepare. We need to talk about blending not only homes, but shared finances as well. We need to prepare our houses to sell, then actually put them on the market and sell them. And then we’ll need to find the right home to move into. A lot needs to happen before we get there, and we are in no big hurry to take on all of that stress. It was the perfect house, in the perfect location…but in the wrong town and at the wrong time.

I will leave you there, dear friends, in the hopes that the upcoming week will be less eventful than yesterday! Tomorrow is a holiday so I’m off work and the kids are off school, so the week will start off on a peaceful note. I hope you enjoy your Sunday and have a great week ahead.


Food Prep, Planning, and a Small Bathroom Update

Good morning my friends!

It is 7:15am on Sunday and I’m writing to you with my morning cup of coffee…from my brand new Chromebook! If you read my post on Thursday you will have seen that my old Chromebook took a jump over the cliff and the keyboard no longer works. I thought I could plug in my desktop keyboard to write from it, and that did work for a while but eventually buttons from the Chromebook appeared to be stuck because as I was typing, “<<<<<<<” kept popping up into my sentences. So I eventually had to move to the desktop computer, which I really don’t like using because it’s in my living room with all the noise and ruckus of the house.

At any rate, I bought a new Chromebook the first of the year. It was supposed to be delivered on Wednesday but finally arrived on Friday, and now here we are! Also in Thursday’s post I mentioned a new posting schedule. This website started out as a personal blog in December of 2018, but as I found myself writing more and more about health and nutrition, I did less broad-topic blogging and converted it to a health and wellness website. That will never change because health and wellness is my passion. However, I do love blogging so I wanted to make sure I’m giving myself the time to do that.

My new schedule will look like this:
– Blog posts on Sunday with a weekly recap
– Health topic post on Thursday
– Recipe posts at random as I create them

I started my week as I always do, with Sunday morning food prep in the kitchen. A blessing of working from home is that it’s no longer necessary to food prep for myself, because I can walk across the hall and put some food together any time I get hungry. But I do still food prep for Michael. I used to just do his lunches and some breakfast smoothies, but now I’m also making a dinner for him for each week as well, so he has something relatively healthy to eat on the evenings when we are not together. I also wash and prep fruits and veggies so they’re ready to grab and eat.

For this last week’s lunch I made him a curry using a yummy curry sauce I found at Trader Joe’s. I did a double batch to make sure he had enough for the whole week (I’ll be sharing the recipe soon and will link it back here) using chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, spinach, coconut and almond milk, red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, and some extra turmeric for color and anti-cancer properties. For dinner I made him honey lime chicken (he isn’t plant based, so I have to make him a meal with meat for his dinner – I do still give him plant based lunches!) using no oil or butter in the prep to keep calories down. And I paired it with a sheet of roasted veggies – baby potatoes, carrots and green beans. I found both recipes on Pinterest and have them linked in case you’re interested – but please note that I never use oil in mine so any time it calls for it I just leave it out. I didn’t get any photos of the chicken (whoops!), but it was very tasty!

This week was so busy that I very much got burned out and meal planning was moved to the back burner. I purchased a couple of packages of vegan buffalo chicken patties, which I don’t do often because they’re processed, but we have both of my boys and Michael’s son this week so I wanted to make it kid-friendly without any effort in planning. I also decided to do a plant based lasagna because I bought some organic lasagna noodles and some cashew mozzarella from Trader Joe’s, and had extra sauce. So I had most of what I needed for a plant-based meal without shopping or planning. Then at the 11th hour I decided to just do some quick and painless taco salads for Michael’s lunch, and some baked garlic and herb salmon with roasted squash and macaroni and tomatoes for his dinner…which I’ve been working on in the kitchen as I’m writing to you. I don’t have recipes for these I just threw them together. The salmon has garlic and Italian seasoning on it, and also Italian seasoning on the squash. The macaroni and tomatoes (not pictured) is seasoned with salt, pepper, basil and a little stevia.

The first week of the new year was so busy for me that I can hardly believe it was only the first week! As you may know if you’ve been following the blog for a while, I’m an SBA Loan Packager by day, and the SBA world has been so busy – especially since we are currently short staffed. Each day when I thought I’d get a moment to breathe, another request or two would come in. I would much rather be busy than bored, as the time passes more quickly that way. But when it’s this level of busy, it requires extra measures and conscious effort to keep stress levels low. Fortunately that is an area in which I’ve had loads of practice, so I’ve learned how to manage it pretty well.

Sometimes, I have to close out of my email while working on something so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by seeing new messages pop up and knowing I have more items that need my focus. I’ve also developed a new routine this week. Tuesday I spent the day with a lumbar pillow and a heating pad on my lower back because I’d spent so much time sitting on Monday that my lower back and right hip were sore. So on Tuesday, when my FitBit would buzz at me at 10 til every hour to get up and get my 250 steps in, instead of just standing up and stepping in place to make it happy, I got up and spent five minutes walking around my house.

I walked in circles around my house from kitchen, to dining room, to living room. I did loops until five minutes had passed, far exceeding the 250 steps I needed. By Wednesday my hip still ached a bit but my lower back felt as good as new. I’ve decided I’m going to continue this routine, especially when work is so busy that I don’t have time to get up and move around the house. Honestly, working from home has been a game changer for me in this department. My sciatic nerve pain has completely gone away now that I’m not confined to an office/desk all day, but have the freedom to get up and be mobile for more than just using the bathroom or refilling my water cup. I couldn’t exactly walk laps around the lobby inside the bank!!

I actually discovered a bit of a crazy new exercise regimen that I’m loving! I am very much an outdoorsy person and I love the summertime when I can lace up some sneakers and hit the road on my lunch breaks for a walk. But I absolutely loathe the cold and will not set foot outdoors once it drops below 60 – or below 70 if it’s windy! So I have an elliptical in my basement that I’ve been using for winter. I really dislike it though, and sort of wish I’d chosen a treadmill instead. It gives me a thigh workout in addition to cardio, which causes me to use it for shorter periods of time than walking because it gets rather uncomfortable.

But – while walking circles around my house at the end of every hour an idea occurred to me – why can’t I just walk laps around my basement on my lunch break instead of using the elliptical?! I have about a 300 square foot finished family room in my basement – which Hunter has currently taken over as his bedroom because I needed his room upstairs for an office. But the rest is unfinished with the furnace right smack in the middle, so it has a perfect set up for walking laps. To be honest it puts in my mind when I would ride my bike in circles around my grandparents basement as a child!

So I set my FitBit on the run setting (since walk isn’t an option), then walked around the basement until I reached one mile. It takes slightly longer to do it in the basement than outside, presumably because there are turns instead of straight lines. But I loved it and will likely be doing that from now on! If you follow my coaching account on Instagram (Planted Coaching), I shared a video of this to my story on there. Apparently 2021 is going to be the year of quirky improvisations!

I also got to start off the year with my new planner, and a new journal. I’m sure we can all say this, but when Covid started last year, everything changed and I feel so far off of my routines. I used to start every morning by planning my day as soon as I clocked in to work. Before I answered a single email or worked on a single loan, I would pull up the .pdf I have saved from Mel Robbins’ Mindset Reset program because it has a daily planner down the right side with lines for each hour of the day. I use Foxit to type in what to work on for each hour. This is another habit that helped me manage stress because it kept me structured and on some sort of track for the day.

Covid hit, I started working from home, then the SBA department started working (quite literally) day and night to process PPP loans, so every bit of daily routine and structure I had flew out the window from the first of April until about the middle of May. I was working so much overtime and there was no time to write, so I fell out of the habit of posting on here too. I stopped using my bullet journal planner, and I stopped journaling.

So now I want to get back into my routines – with a new blogging schedule, a new Chromebook, and a new planner and journal. I skipped the bullet journal this year and went with a planner that has a habit tracker in it, because I just don’t have the time to set up a bullet journal – and last year’s never even got completed! I bought this planner and this journal from Amazon, pictured right.

The other big event of the week – I finally replaced the sink and faucet in my bathroom! My house was built in 1967, and the half bath that is in my bedroom still had the original cast iron sink, which was rusting around the drain, and the original faucet. I couldn’t even get warm water out of it – if I turned on the hot and the cold, it would alternate between the two rather than blending them for warm. You would get a second of scalding hot water, followed by a brief stream of icy cold. As a result I only use my bathroom sink for brushing my teeth and do everything else in the main bath.

In early December I noticed the faucet had finally developed a drip (after more than 50 years!!), so it was time to stop procrastinating and get the silly thing replaced! I held off for so long because I needed to decide whether to replace the whole countertop, or just the sink. I really was hung, because the countertop is also original from 1967 – laminate with the pink marbled finish. And while laminate countertops leave a lot to be desired, I actually really love the pink. It is the perfect shade to match all of my other pink accents in the house, so I didn’t really want to give it up. I ultimately decided to keep it and only replace the bowl and faucet.

I bought a new 19″ sink from Lowes, and a brushed nickel waterfall faucet from Amazon. Michael and I (mostly Michael with a bit of help from me when needed) installed it yesterday. After a battle with drain plumbing – because heaven knows that even though the sinks were the exact same size, the drain was off just enough to keep it from going back together without new parts – and several trips up the road to Ace Hardware, my pretty new sink is in! I am in love with the faucet – Amazon just keeps knocking it out of the park with the faucets, because the gorgeous copper faucet in my kitchen – with the highest water pressure I’ve ever seen – also came from Amazon.

Now I need to work on the tile – you can see in the picture a metal bracket in the tile to the left of the faucet. There was a toothbrush holder and a soap dish mounted to the wall (also original to the house) that I removed. The screw to the remaining bracket has the head stripped so it wouldn’t come out – I’m going to set my youngest son Logan to that task when he gets home later. There is a big hold in the tile where the soap dish was, and there will be another one where the toothbrush holder was once the bracket is removed. Since the tile is also from 1967, I have none to replace it with and likely will not find any to match. So what I’m going to do about that remains to be decided – I will probably end up replacing all of the tile. Which is okay, because the old mirror also needs replaced and once it comes off there will be tile needing fixed there too. So I guess next up is a new lighted mirror and new backsplash tile.

And with that, I must leave you because all of the cooking is done so it’s time to put the salads and smoothies together, then get them over to Michael’s house. I’ll spend a little time with him, then I’m driving 30 miles north to visit my mom (in town from Central IL) and grandparents, before going on to pick up my boys who are at their dad’s this weekend. This week’s blog has been a bit off the cuff because I didn’t have my Chromebook to start writing it until Friday night, so next week’s blog will be a little more thought out. I also will be sharing my weekly meal plans in my Sunday blog posts as well, with photos and links to any of my Sunday meal prepping recipes. I will try to snap photos of dinners that I plan, but no promises because shooting and editing photos always takes up some time, so with a hungry family ready to eat on weeknights that probably isn’t likely to happen. But I will test the waters on this!

I hope you all have a lovely Sunday, and I will see you back here on Thursday to talk about the latest in health and wellness. Please head over to Instagram to give Beetitudes a follow to stay up-to-date with what is going on. Talk to you soon!