A Case Of The {Manic} Mondays

If you’ve read the previous posts on food, cooking, and having certain necessities on hand then you’re no stranger to the key word to success for a healthy lifestyle. Preparation. 

In past posts, preparation looked like going to the grocery store in advance, chopping up veggies to have on hand for cooking later in the week, and even preparing meals on a Sunday afternoon to get us at least halfway through the week ahead.

Yesterday, Monday’s preparation, looked a little lot different.

Breakfast was the same because I had doubled up on eggs, chicken apple sausages, and pecans from Costco recently.

Lunch was a little sketch. I ate some questionable chicken salad that I can’t exactly remember when it was prepared (I feel I’m far enough removed from it to report all is well) and a hodge podge of veggies I made earlier in the week…last week. 

As for dinner, I did think to put a couple pounds of ground meat out to thaw before leaving…and that’s about it.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, because I feel like so many people can relate to a day(s) or week of this. There are times that you just can’t live up to your expectation of the best. There are times when a frozen pack of veggies are going to have to work. A day(s) when you ate a chicken sausage for breakfast and dinner.

It’s okay! Just because it’s not pretty doesn’t mean that you’ve been derailed from this journey to a healthy lifestyle and a better you. It’s freeing to realize there’s no such thing as “perfect.” More on that here.

Here’s a quick run down of what happened when I got home after 6 PM and how I had dinner (and leftovers) cooked, kitchen cleaned, a load of laundry done, shower completed, and in my PJs by 7 PM.

Monday Night

AS soon as I walked in the door, I pulled out a large stove top pan, turned the burner on medium/high, placed pan on heating burner, and preheated oven to 425 degrees.

WHILE those were heating, I took out supplies needed:

3 sweet potatoes

1 bag green beans (left from last week’s Costco run)

1 head of cauliflower

3 baking pans

Spatula

Vegetable peeler

Cutting knife

Parchment paper

1 gallon sized sealable plastic bag

Coconut oil

Olive oil

Salt

“Flavor god” spice mix

Garlic

NOW, supplies are gathered and stove and oven are still heating. So, in order to use every minute to get something done, I peel the potatoes

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AT this time, everything is pre heated, so I place olive oil in stove top pan, and place in the first pound of meat, close the lid, and let it start browning while I chop the potatoes.

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MY favorite way to make sweet potatoes is to mix with coconut oil and salt. Olive oil will work just fine, but coconut oil makes it taste like candy for some reason. It’s so good. I don’t really measure the coconut oil, I just scoop some out, place on the lid and microwave for a few seconds until melted.

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ONCE melted, I placed it in the gallon sized bag with chopped sweet potatoes, added some salt to taste, shake, shake, shake, then tossed them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

 IN the oven they go! I then set the timer for 45 minutes.

AT this point, the meat is ready to be mixed up a bit and covered in spices.

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LET that cook for a minute or two longer, until all pink is gone (you can lower heat if necessary to give you time to get other vegetables ready).

THE green beans were pre-washed, so I literally emptied their bag onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, poured two capfuls (the olive oil bottle’s cap) of olive oil on top, sprinkled with salt, and mixed together with my hands.

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NOW, my meat was ready to cool and be transferred into a storage container, and with 40 minutes on the oven timer, I place the green beans in the oven with the potatoes. (Now, we have 15 minutes to get the second pound of meat going and wash/chop/season the cauliflower.)

THAT’s exactly what I did. Repeat the meat process (only takes a couple of minutes), and wash cauliflower, chop into florets, place them in the same bag you used to season potatoes, and simply toss with olive oil, salt, and garlic. Place them on your third baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

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AT this point you will have a few minutes to stir/season the meat, wash cutting board, knife and peeler, and since all chopping/seasoning is done you can sweep the floor. I think at this point I also moved clothes from washer to dryer so they could “fluff.”

ONCE the green beans have been in for 15 minutes and the timer reads “25:00,” take out green beans and put in your cauliflower.

YOUR meat should be done, so place that in with the first pound of prepared meat, run cold water over your pan, and wash it once it’s cooled. Now, all you have left to clean is the spatula (used to transfer cooked veggies into storage containers) and baking sheets (that won’t even be dirty since you used parchment paper.)

HONESTLY, at this point, I had about 17 minutes left on the timer, so I quickly showered, changed into my PJ’s, hung up the “fluffed” clothes, and wiped down the kitchen counter.

beepbeep, beepbeep, beepbeep!

VOILA!

It’s all done!

Remove you’re vegetables from the oven, turn off stove and oven, let them cool a couple of minutes and serve dinner!

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At this point, I was feeling pretty good about myself. No, this was not at all fancy, or even time consuming, but I felt like I had accomplished a lot in a short time span. I couldn’t wait until Lance got home so that I could brag about how efficient I had been, and have him tell me how great I am, hah!

Right about this time is when he called me. You know what he said? “Hey sweetie, Chad asked us to join him at Ragtime for dinner. Wanna go?”

Do I want to go??? NO, I don’t want to go. I just basically conquered the world in 60 short minutes and you’re supposed to be home in 15 minutes telling me how lucky you are to have me as your better half while savoring your meat and veggies! AND I’m freshly showered, in my PJs, sitting on the couch watching the Whole30 clip I DVR’d on Dr. Oz. So, the answer is a BIG. FAT. NO.

While those are the thoughts that swirled through my mind in 0.2 seconds, I simply snapped into reality, said no thank you, y’all enjoy dinner, and was sort of thankful we’d have more leftovers to munch on.

Disclaimer:

I don’t share this to make you believe that I’ve got it together. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! Nor do I share this so that you think I can do several things at once…or to brag that I clean…or get laundry done. That would be weird. I simply share this so that when life gets crazy, you know you can make it work. If I hadn’t had fresh veggies that needed to be used, I really would have used some frozen veggies that I keep on hand for emergencies. If I hadn’t had time to remove clothes from the washer, I would have re-washed them in the morning (and that wouldn’t have been the first time), and if I hadn’t had time to sweep, the crumbs could have stayed on the floor and the world would not have ended. So, if your clothes get re-washed and re-fluffed to remove the wrinkles, if your floor stays crumb-y because you need to bathe a child or spend quality time with your spouse…it’s okay. 

Do what you can when you can and don’t get down on yourself. There will be days when you cook better, more flavorful, fancy meals. And it’s OK that today just isn’t that day.

(Lance saw me looking through the Whole30 cookbook and got excited about one of the pictured meals. I QUICKLY told him not to get his hopes up this week, slammed the book shut, and placed it back in it’s home on the coffee table where it belongs this week.)

Update from today, Tuesday:

For breakfast I intentionally left out my Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage because I knew that was going to be used in my two minute lunch prep.

And it was.

For lunch, I had one Aidell’s sausage (warmed in the microwave) and 3/4 bag of Bird’s Eye Microwave Steamed Broccoli and Cauliflower.

While those were warming (microwaving), I prepped for dinner and that took all of 5 minutes. So I’ll post that soon.

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What Do You Need To Complete A Whole30?

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is patience. Patience for yourself. Patience for other people. Did I mention patience for yourself? Oh, OK, good. You’re gonna need that. 

Next, I’d say goals. You’ve gotta have goals, and preferably more than just to lose some poundage. I get that your pants may be a bit too tight, things may jiggle that use to be still, and if you need to lose weight and follow the Whole30, it is inevitable. You will see those numbers drop (after the 30 days since you’re not allowed to weigh yourself during), but I’m not sure it’ll carry you through some of the tough days. Dig deeper. And I don’t mean to the bottom of that carton of ice cream. Why do you want to look different? Will losing weight make your joints hurt less? Allow you to play more freely with your kids? Rid you of the reflux you’ve taken Prevacid for since you were like 2 months old?  For me, it was about improving my quality of life and not feeling sick, tired, cranky, and to improve my skin.

After setting your goals, I’d 100,000,000% say to get support and tell some people! While you don’t have to stand on a rooftop, yell it through a megaphone, and tell all the people, you’ve gotta tell some. Trust me, you’ve got to, get it out there, get some accountability, and don’t do it all alone.

I went from never using social media to hogging everyone’s feed everyday with my Whole30 pics and updates. It might have been annoying to some while it might have been encouraging to others and it certainly helped me stay on track and unwilling to “cheat.”

Get a few friends, co-workers, gym buddies, girlfriends, a spouse, a stranger you follow on Instagram and do it together!  If you have no friends, co-workers, gym buddies, spouse, or a social media account, you can go here and pay Whole30 to be your daily encouragement for the price of $15.

No excuses. Go. Tell someone.

2 > 1

What about resources? 

I really loved having the book on hand! I’m not one to keep books because they become clutter, but this is one I’ll definitely keep on hand. (I recently purchased it at Costco for only $16! I had checked it out from the library previously)

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❤ Follow the Whole30 Blog.

❤ ALL of these printable sheets.

(Cheat sheets on “Whole30 Program Rules, Shopping list, Dining Out Guide, Travel Guide,” etc)

❤ Here are some of my favorites to follow on Instagram for ideas.

❤ Pinterest of course, by searching, “Whole30 meal ideas.”

❤ Recently, I joined (no charge) Periscope, and follow co-author Melissa Hartwig and Whole30. She posts SUCH GOOD CONTENT. She makes it easy and attainable and recently opened up about her Whole30 story in relation to a past addiction lifestyle. I love realness.

Kitchen food essentials? 

The Fats

❤ Coconut oil (Costco)

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❤ Ghee (Whole Foods)

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❤ Olive Oil

❤ Almonds, Cashews, Pecans (Costco)

Used to make nut butters, nut mixes, and pecans served with breakfast daily.

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❤ Coconut milk (I purchase non-organic in blue can from Sprouts)

I couldn’t find compliant version at Aldi, Publix, Target, Walmart.

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❤ Homemade Almond Butter

❤ Avocados

Carbs

❤ Sweet potatoes (Costco has 10 pound bag for $7)

Eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

❤ Any and all approved vegetables, and that list can be found in a downloadable PDF listed above.

Sugars

❤ Any and all fruits in season. We go for grapes, berries, bananas, honey crisp apples, and sometimes oranges.

Drinks

❤ Coffee, Did I even need to say it?

❤ LaCroix (most variety at Target)

Costco does carry these, just not in our favorite flavors.

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❤ H20

I drink at minimum 3 liters of plain water daily, not including sparkling waters.

❤ Perrier Lemon Lime

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❤ Deer Park Sparkling Water (Target)

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❤ Hot Tea (This specifically is amazing and at Target, Publix, Walmart)

Also used in this butternut squash soup.

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The Proteins

❤ Chicken (Costco)

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❤ Ground Beef (Costco)

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❤ Pork Tenderloin

❤ Eggs

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❤ Chicken Sausages (Best deal at Costco)

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Pantry essentials?

 ❤ Tessamae’s dressings/mayonnaise/marinades. (Whole Foods or on their site) Because I really don’t want to make it.

Until the end of tomorrow evening, October 23, use code “FoodDay15” for 20% off and free shipping over $40.

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❤ Spices (I mostly use salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, onion, paprika, chilli powder, cayenne, mustard, cinnamon)

❤ Balsamic vinegar

❤ Salsa

Emergency/Quick Fix Food

❤ Larabars (Compliant ones found here)

❤ Epic Bars (Whole Foods, Sprouts, On their site.) Check ingredients as all are not compliant. Lance had to spit out a piece mid-chew while on Whole30, hah!

❤ Nut mixes

❤ Justin’s Almond Butter jar and travel pouches

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Kitchen Tools

❤ Parchment paper (Costco has a good deal)

❤ Large cutting board

❤ Kitchen knife(s) (I literally have used one single knife because our knife game is super weak.)

❤ Food Processor (Technically this is borrowed from my sweet mom, but I’ve used it a LOT.)

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❤ Measuring spoons

❤ Baking sheets

❤ Colander

❤ Pots (I mainly used a large stove top pot for soups)

❤ Crockpot makes for easy meals

❤ Food storage containers

Recipes

❤ Want Mexican? Make this super easy recipe and double it for leftovers.

❤ Craving chili? Try this incredibly quick to prepare recipe and make it your own if you wish. I make enough to feed an army.

❤ Cooking some ground beef is always a great option. Then place it on top of some spring mix greens, microwave steam some veggies, add some avocado, and call it a meal!

❤ On the regular, this pork tenderloin recipe makes an appearance in our weekly meals. I always double for leftovers.

❤ If you need protein for the week, use this incredibly simple crockpot recipe. I literally put in the chicken breasts, throw in a jar of salsa, close the lid, and walk back 6 hours later to a week’s worth of toppings to salads, sweet potatoes, any vegetable, eggs, etc.

❤ It also counts if you sauté some spinach/broccoli/etc with some chicken apple sausages and throw on a side of avocado.

❤ Do you, your husband, your dad, or your roomate like to grill? Great! Use olive oil, salt, and pepper to grill some delicious steaks, hamburgers, or even chicken. Of course, make leftovers to eat later.


I really hope this is helpful! Being healthy and even completing a Whole30 does not have to be hard or fancy. We (and likely you) eat the same 6-8 meals regularly, and every couple of weeks or so I’ll pull out the Whole30 book for a new recipe or go to “the google” to find something interesting.

Grocery shopping isn’t difficult now because I know what we’ll need and how much to buy to keep from making multiple trips. I also know where to get certain items (which I tried to help you with above.) Even so, sometimes Costco is too far and too big to tackle, so I drive the 1 mile to Publix or Aldi and make it work. And when life gets absolutely crazy, we keep it incredibley simple. Chicken apple sausages, eggs, frozen steamable veggies, baked sweet potatoes, and ground meat can make a lot of different variations in no time!

We save money because we eat out at minimum once per week and I love that.

No Whole30 or healthy lifestyle looks the same and this is simply what worked for us. You definitely should do things differently depending on your lifestyle!

Here’s to a healthy lifestyle! Cheers! (With a Kiwi Watermelon LaCroix) 🙂

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Roasting Veggies Is Easy As 1…2…3…

Girls’ Beach Trip = Fun

Four Days With Six Amazing Women = Fun

Picturesque Beach Weather = Fun

Days Filled With Laughter = Fun

Schedule Free Days With No Agenda = Fun

Food Prep When You Get Home = Not Quite As Much Fun

It’s almost as if every mile I drive away from the beach, I get a little more and more antsy. There’s laundry to be done, floors to clean, dust to wipe up, and of course food to be prepped. And it’s all there…waiting…on…me.

I’m trying to get better about letting some dust accumulate, laundry sit in the hamper for a bit longer, and allowing a little mess to feel more “lived in” and less messy. Anyone else with me? But it doesn’t help that our space is so small and gets the cluttered feel very easily. So, really, scratch all that. I don’t want the dust, the mess, or lots of laundry in my hamper.

You can leave the judgment at our doorstep along with your shoes before coming in. 🙂 

So, what’s a girl to do? The to-do list can get pretty long, stress level can become pretty high, and food isn’t going to make itself. Other people can make it for you, I suppose, but they charge money and I’d rather buy a pair of cute booties for Fall.

(Speaking of booties, let’s talk about these! Hello cuteness! And with this price tag, maybe there are some prepared meals in my future after all! Follow these ladies here for super cute finds in the most unexpected place!)

OK, back to vegetable basics! But you’re welcome for the booties and Instagram find. You can thank me later.

Here’s a GREAT way to prep and cook veggies for the week!

Needed:

3 Vegetables for roasting (I used brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans)

Knife

1 Gallon sized resealable plastic bag

Cutting board

Olive oil

2 Baking sheets

Salt, Pepper, Garlic

Other spices you prefer

Parchment paper (or foil)

Colander

Storage containers

Preparation

PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees.

 WASH all your veggies by placing them separately into a colander (IF I’m being good, I’ll soak them in water for 2 minutes prior to placing in colander) and use sink water to rinse well. Use your hands under running water to remove dirt and germs from veggies as well.

SET them on paper towels or kitchen towel to dry.

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PLACE vegetables by group onto cutting board and remove necessary pieces.

Brussel sprouts: Cut off non-rounded end, and at minimum cut each sprout in half. I like to cut into fourths. If the outside leaves look dirty, discard. If not, keep them because they’ll get crisp and be super yummy.

Asparagus: They say if you bend asparagus, it breaks at the exact spot where tough stalk meets tender spear. I ALWAYS forget this, and just pile up several pieces and cut away and discard the tough, whitish stalk portions.

Green beans: Typically, I line more than several up on the cutting board by their ends, cut off ends for discarding, then snap as close to a half as I can get.

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Now that the hard work (even though that really was not hard or time-consuming) is done, you can:

A. Place them into storage containers to be cooked in a day or two. Maybe you just had a few minutes and wanted to get ahead a bit? Good!

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OR

B. Go ahead and cook!

LINE your 2 baking sheets with liner of choice.

OPEN freezer bag and place in brussel sprouts with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, close bag, and shake until well combined.

PLACE brussel sprouts on one baking sheet.

REPEAT above with the green beans and place on separate baking sheet. Keep green beans to one side of the baking sheet.

PLACE both pans in oven and set timer for 20 minutes.

WITH 15 minutes remaining, remove pan containing green beans and place asparagus on other half. Set back into oven.

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Pictured are also sweet potatoes, but I left this out, so it’ll look a bit different

Green beans and brussel sprouts should take 15-20 minutes of cooking, and asparagus should take 10-15 minutes to cook, so keep you’re eye on it.

REMOVE from oven and let cool.

(Again, I had added sweet potatoes when I took these photos, so it looked a bit different. If you’d like to add them, it’s easy. Peel them, chop them into cubes and complete the same gallon sized bag mixture with oils and spices. Place them on baking sheet with timer at 40 minutes. When 20 minutes remains, add brussel sprouts to baking sheet with potatoes, and green beans to separate sheet, and asparagus will accompany that with 15 minutes remaining.)

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ENJOY.

or

If you’re thinking ahead again, place into containers and enjoy throughout the week.

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I purchased all of this at Costco in large amounts, but previously have purchased same items at Aldi and Publix.

Was that so bad?

If it seems like a lot, it’s not. I promise you, it will become second nature after you try it once.  Bringing it back to the basics is a great way to start and a great way to be realistic as far as food prep goes.

It will be SO worth it when you come home and don’t have to worry about cooking any sides for a few nights. Or when you just have to put some of these in a container with some protein for a quick, on the go lunch. Depending on how much I cook, we can make this last all week.

I hope Monday was kind to you and if not, I hope you chose to find the joy in a Manic Monday 🙂

My Whole30 In 30 Pictures

I’m sure you’ve heard it said before that a picture can say a thousand words. Today, I’m just needing them to say 30.

Below is a recap of meals from our recent Whole30 via pictures. A few meals aren’t pictured, but you’ll get the basic idea. You’ll also see that we didn’t make it super fancy, our presentation isn’t anything special, and it’s a repeated variation of several things.

On a single afternoon this past week, I prepared 1 crockpot meal, (1) double-batch of chilli on the stovetop, (1) one sheet pan meal, several sweet potatoes, and made sure we had ample almond butter made. THAT lasted us all week. Yep. ALL WEEK. I did not prepare anything besides my morning eggs each day.

So, lack of time is no longer an excuse not to make healthy choices. I know that people are busy. I know that moms and dads with kids are busy and kids are a top priority, BUT learning to make healthy choices for ourselves will create a chain reaction of healthy choices in our husbands, children, and friends, and THAT could set people up for a lifetime of wonderful health and wellness.

So, IF a healthy lifestyle (not necessarily Whole30) is something you’re really wanting to live out…you can. If you are willing to make changes…you will. If it’s something you’d rather talk about but are too scared to make a change, are letting the fear of failure paralyze you, or just have no desire to give up snickers, soda, and popcorn…you won’t.

(And if that’s just where you are right now, no judgement from this side of the world!)

It’s simple. You can do it.

What do you have to lose (Besides a few pounds and an unhealthy relationship with food)? Do you like the way you look? Do you like the way you feel?

You are the only one who can change it.

 I started following like 37 moms on Instagram who have completed several rounds of Whole30, feel (and look) remarkably better, can’t imagine going back to their old lifestyle, and are able to feed their families of up to 5 in a healthy matter. AND they give a heck of a lot of food inspiration! Here are some of my favs so far:

@pretend_its_a_donut

@lisamcleod

@lovelivingwhole

@WhatMyKidEats

@nomnompaleo

@paleopaparazzi

@meg_mcgrane

@whole30

@whole30recipes

There are a couple ladies listed who likely don’t have children, but that by no means indicates they aren’t strapped for time and have to be intentional and motivated to meet their health goals. I know that one is a physician’s assistant, married, works nights in an ER, battles an autoimmune disease, and still preps her meals as well as fitting in fitness, simply because to her, it’s become a way of life and a priority.

That’s not an unattainable goal. She’s not a superwoman with a special set of skills. She just knows the difference a healthy lifestyle can make on her day to day quality of life.

Anyone can pick up a compliant rotisserie (We did this recently on a Sunday at Whole Foods for $7), season and sauté ground beef, and steam some microwaveable vegetables. And guess what? That could be lunch and dinner for 2 days. You’re welcome.

Healthy living is a choice and sometimes a sacrifice. In our experience, the sacrifice is well worth it (and doesn’t necessarily stay defined as “sacrifice,” but just a way of life) and the benefits FAR outweigh what at once might have been seen as some enormous hurdle, e.g,  black coffee, food prep, compliant grocery shopping, and skipping candy and ice cream several every day of the week.

Here’s a peek into 30 meals!

(I’ve counted them like 30 times to make sure all 30 are there…”My Whole30 in 27 Pictures,”just didn’t sound right 🙂 )

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Why FabFitFun Is The Best Subscription Box Ever!

FabFitFun

If I were a subscription box, this is the one I’d wanna be!

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Dream life: Fab✔️ Fit✔️ Fun✔️

Yes, I’ll take all three, all day, everyday. Please and thank you.

Real life: If I am one out of three, I feel as though I’ve got my shiz together and living the good life. I might even think it’s Insta worthy.

This is where things change and my postwoman becomes my most favorite person in the world, my #1 best friend takes the back seat, and PW rides shotgun. Why? Because she delivers this box of happiness and fun to me every season, and I walk run to the mailbox more excited than a 5 year old who believes in Santa Claus on Christmas morning running to the Christmas tree…more accurately, what’s underneath the Christmas tree, but you get what I’m saying.

And I have no shame. 

So, what is this whole FabFitFun thing besides fun to say? I’m glad you asked 🙂

It is a seasonal box that is delivered to your door every three months and is filled with high quality, seasonal fashion, fitness, and beauty *full sized* items. Not sample sizes. Full. Size.

Apparently it’s guaranteed to have $120 worth of goods in each box but I’ve never had less than $200 value.

(This season’s had $357. Just saying.)

Do I like it?

Yessssssss! I’m obsessed. I just recently received my third box from them and don’t plan to discontinue anytime soon!

What do I like about it?

I think it’s so fun getting to open a box that’s filled with great items and brands I may never try otherwise. Some of my favorites have been lip glosses, a scarf, facial moisturizer, body lotion spray, hair detangler/heat protectant, portable speaker, bracelet and necklace, and a facial cleansing sponge.

These are good brands, people. Not like random unheard of, no-name brands that you can’t find on google. I’ve never felt a product was placed in as a “filler.” Don’t think I don’t get on the product’s site to verify the FFF listed retail prices match up with what’s listed on product sites.

That’s just how I roll. If I don’t think I’m getting a good deal, it’s not worth it to me.

Plus, it’s so fun to talk to your girlfriends about what you got in your boxes. And depending on how refined you are, it’s fun to take selfies of yourself while using a ridiculous looking beauty mask and send those snapshots back and forth with funny commentary. Totally your call. 

Just so you know, I opt in for that!

Is it expensive?

I feel like that’s a relative question. Personally, the listed price of $49 is not a small amount of change that I just randomly find in a pants pocket on the regular. (If I find even a George Washington hidden in a jean pocket, I’ll pause to celebrate with the cabbage patch or sprinkler.)

But, I don’t tend to let the items in the box go to waste, either. I think I may have even (re)gifted one of the box items during Christmas season last year…is that bad? No, it can’t be. It’s smart 🙂 And is it really a re-gift if you were the original purchaser?

Most times though, I enjoy using all items in the box. Trust me, I refuse to keep stuff I don’t use, and I refuse to spend money on useless items. So, for me to have purchased three boxes is kind of a big deal.

How does it work?

You pay the $49 four times per year, but you can choose to order them as the seasons come and go and not for a complete year. AND they’re very adamant that you can cancel your subscription anytime, but they’ll do basically anything to keep you. It’s helpful that they send a couple of reminders prior to charging your card , giving you ample opportunity to cancel subscription. Also, they usually have a coupon code where you can get around $10 off the price.

So, for $40 you’re getting tons of great stuff. Not too shabby!

Let’s see what all the fuss is about and peek into this season’s box!

The Goods

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Gold Radiance Luxury Facial Mask with Collagen and Rose Oil ($65)

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Try to take yourself seriously while wearing this…go on, try. Lay down, put your camera on selfie mode and have a good laugh…and then snap a pic to send to a friend so they can laugh as well! 😉

I have used one of these and my skin really did feel so soft afterwards! In my mind, I expected to go in looking like me and to come out looking like Giselle…I’ll let you be the judge. 

FabFitFun x Tappan Collective Umbrella ($32)

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This oh so cute umbrella, that is covered in the childhood song, “Rain Rain Go Away,” already has a home in my driver’s seat door compartment just waiting to be used!

Lucky Lip Stain by Manna Kadar Cosmetics ($32)

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really like the way this feels! You know how sometimes lip glosses can feel “goopy” or sticky? And you spend most of your day peeling away stray hairs that got stuck in the gloss trap? Well, not with this! I love the neutral shade by itself or atop another lip color and it feels hydrating. Especially since, this time of year, my lips feel more like the Sahara Desert than, well, my lips.

Flawless Skin Fluid by Doctor D. Schwab ($39)

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Holy cow. Dr. Schwab gets me. Like, really gets me. I’m super iffy about what I put on my face and was a bit skeptical and nervous to try this. As soon as I did I was super impressed! What your skin doesn’t get from the above mask, lack of sleep,
and bad diet, you can fake with this moisturizer! It is very lightweight, for daytime use, and just adds the most beautiful, subtle glow! Am I pregnant (no!), super rested, or just wearing Dr. Schwabs moisturizer?? I’ll never tell. What I will do, is search for a super sized tube so that I can use this as a full body lotion! For real. 

Purple Purse Charm by Allstate Foundation Purple Purse

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Did you know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month? You may wonder how this purple charm raises awareness for such a valiant cause…so did I. Since victims of domestic violence often experience terrible financial abuse (taking away access to cash, destroying credit, etc) the charm symbolizes how women can regain control of their purse strings with support from the Allstate Foundation.

HISY Battery Pack ($25)

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We’ve all been there. You’re out on the town for a long day or maybe you’re at work, refreshing your social media page to see what’s new or in curiosity of how many likes you received on that last post, and there it is…staring you in the face like it’s all your fault. 5%…3%…1%…Your.  Phone. Is. Dead. (along with your connection to the world) No matter how many times you press that power button in hopes of one last spark of battery…it’s hopeless.

Unless, you have this small, easy to carry, rechargeable device. I could have used this recently when I was trekking about Charleston, SC without any outlets within reach, especially since it was my only map/watch/help that I had!

Strength Tubing Ankle & Total Body Tone with Tubing: Lower Body & Core DVD ($33)

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The reviews on this are great…I just have all of my fitness needs met by a certain gym. (Shameless plug to follow) Godspeed Elite Sports Academy @ http://www.Godspeed.org

Glass Crystal Bead Bracelet by Tribe Alive

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A resounding “yesssss!” for this piece right here! This simple bracelet is right up my alley and looks so cute worn solo or paired with a watch or another bracelet(s). It is made with hand-cut glass crystals (sounds so fancy) and this company works with artisan partners all over the world to employ impoverished women by providing them with sustainable income.

Basically you’re saving the world and looking super classy at the same time. Win-Win. 

Gift Card by Jeweler’s Wife ($15)

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If you’re a jewelry fan, I think this is a super good deal. You get $15 off merchandise and always get free shipping, and some of their brands include Michael Kors, Kendra Scott, Pandora, and more. You can also sign up for their email list and get $25 off a purchase of $150 or greater. I mean, if you’re going to spend a $150 on jewelry, getting a total of $40 off is not bad!

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If you’re like me, and likely won’t spend that much on jewelry, they have a “Fun and Frugal” boutique section with selections like this (pictured right):

So, you’d pay a whopping $5 and get this super cute bracelet in the mail for fall or give it as a cute gift for Christmas. Again, you’re call!

Gift Card by Picture It On Canvas ($75)

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Seriously, this is going to make an amazing gift! If I don’t keep it for myself. You can choose to use a personal photo of yourself or family and have it placed on canvas, slate, phone cover, and more. OR you can choose from their extensive art gallery section for photos, paintings, and quotes.

This isn’t one of those things where you have a gift card for $75 but you’ll have to spend $200 minimum to get something worthwhile. Nope. PLUS, I registered for their email and got a code for 50% off my purchase. Thank you! And we all know that this day and age people love a good photo on canvas…or coaster…or iPhone case. You know, whatever works 🙂

And, that’s a wrap! If you’re thinking about it and it won’t be a financial stretch, I say go for it. Even if it’s just for one! The good news is that, if you get it for the winter season and decide you don’t like it, you can re-gift the box as a whole to someone, hah!  Or you can still order this fall box if you like the items listed above!

And, what was,

Dream life: Fab✔️ Fit✔️ Fun✔️

Thanks to this box, it’s now,

Real life: Fab✔️ Fit✔️ Fun✔️

If you decide to take the plunge, use this link to order and I’ll get $10-$15 off like you will and then we’ll both get to open super fun goodies for around $40! Again, Win-Win. 

AND let me know what you think when it arrives!

The Best & Easiest Whole30 Approved Butternut Squash Soup Recipe, Like, Ever

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(picture source)

Ahhhh…Fall…it’s in the air.

Wait, nope, that’s still the 90 degree heat and humidity!

Let’s try this again.

Ahhhh…Fall…it’s on the calendar.

Yep! That’s a bit more accurate 🙂

Since the first day of fall has come and gone and there is no chill in the air or Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Lattes in my near future, I decided to take matters into my own hands and bring fall into my own kitchen. I was bed/couch ridden with body aches and a cough and craving one thing. Soup. Butternut squash soup to be exact. God must have known this would happen, because at Costco Monday afternoon, I randomly picked up 6 cups of precut butternut squash. (Lance made the comment, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to cut it ourselves?” Yes, honey, it would, but you won’t be the one cutting it, so zip it. Oops, Did I say that out loud? Actually, no, not to his face. Just in my head…and now here…with you. Don’t tell.)

Anyhow, until fall weather arrives here in the south, I’ll just turn our air way down for a self created chill (<—- there’s no way I’d actually do that, it’d be so expensive. Maybe I’ll just turn on all the ceiling fans 😉 ), put on sweats, and pretend it’s cool outside while eating my delicious butternut soup as a side to walnut encrusted pork tenderloin and of course enjoy some Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea after dinner.

If you have not yet been introduced to Celestial teas, you need to do yourself a favor and get on board. This stuff is amazing. Specifically, this:

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You’re welcome.

Whole30 approved Fall in a cup.

You guys, it really is so good! Basically, every night after dinner, you can find us sitting on the couch, drinking our hot Apple Spice Tea. This is one of those things you don’t let run out without getting a new box as backup. For the sake of our marriage I wouldn’t let that happen. Plus, Lance keeps an ongoing count, so I doubt I’ll ever have to worry about it.

Now that I’ve increased your quality of life through this tea, we can return to the soup recipe 🙂

If you, like me, crave soup and cooler weather, read on to know the incredibly simple way to make your wish come true.

Here’s all ingredients needed

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3 Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea bags steeped in 8 oz hot water (remove tea bags after steeping)

1/2 onion diced (I used food processor)

1-2 handful baby carrots

6 cups butternut squash chopped (bonus points for buying it at Costco pre chopped)

2 apples (I used honey crisp, some people prefer granny smith) peeled and chopped

1 can coconut milk at minimum (I used 1/2 of another can while blending)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Salt to taste

(Paprika would probably be good as well and/or any other spice you’d like to add)

Crockpot

1 knife

Immersion blender or food processor

Here’s what we do with above ingredients 

Ready for the easiest recipe, like, ever?

Take all prepared ingredients (everything should be chopped, peeled, and steeped by now, so if it’s not, then get with it) and place them in your crockpot.

Stir ingredients around to mix.

Close lid and set to low heat.

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Set timer for 4-6 hours (I let mine cook for 5 hours) and simply walk away and get stuff done. Or, get back in bed, go back to sleep and pray you feel better in 5 hours. You know, whatever works.

Return to crockpot and when you can easily poke squash and apples with fork, turn off heat and let cool.

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This is where an immersion blender, which I don’t have, would come in super handy. You could, at this point, use the immersion blender while the soup is still in the crockpot and call it a day!

I, however, transferred the crockpot ingredients into a food processor. **Make sure you do this in at least TWO separate batches without overfilling.** Otherwise, if you get impatient, your food processor will overflow, leaving you with a huge mess to clean up. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

Also make sure you get equal parts of squash, apples, and liquid in each batch. Trust me. 

My first batch was great after I added a little salt to taste. My second batch was a little too runny since I left almost all of the liquid for this one, so I simply added some additional coconut milk and salt to improve.

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You can top with whatever you’d like. I chose pecans, and next time I will put some ghee in a pan with cinnamon and roast the pecans on the stovetop prior to topping the soup. Yummmmm! Bacon would be good as well!

There you have it! A Whole30 approved butternut squash recipe that couldn’t get any more simple, especially if you have an immersion blender 🙂

Sit back, relax, turn your air conditioner down for a chill, put on some sweats, light a fall candle, and enjoy the artificial fall air southern girl style!

Top 8 Most FAQ Of My Whole30

Coming at you from Chicago…

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Everything here moves so fast. The people, the cars, heck, even the elevator doors! I may or may not have almost lost a limb going to dinner last night.

When we got into our cab driver’s car from the airport en route to the hotel, we were completely unaware that he would make up his own rules of the road, have several people roll down the window to show him their middle finger, and have countless horns blown directly at him…and us by default. Lance was super impressed and even mouthed, “Our cab driver (an elderly man of Asian decent) is so gangsta.'” I, on the other hand, was gripping Lance’s leg and praying we didn’t die within our first 15 minutes of Chi Town.

It’s all about perception I suppose.

Let’s not waste anytime, mostly, because at this point, I’m scared if I don’t move fast, something or someone is going to cause me bodily harm 🙂

But really though…

Here we go!

Why are you doing the Whole30?

(This will by far be the longest answer, so hang in there!)

This is a loaded question. So many answers, so little time 🙂

Most people would see our daily “diet” and say that we, really, eat very healthy and some have even said, “Don’t you already eat like this?” Well, no, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t ask the same question.

You know the saying, “Out with the old and in with the new?” Well, there were a lot of “healthy” items in our pantry that were sent packing to my mom’s house for the remainder of our Whole30:

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Adios grains, gluten, legumes, sugar, dairy, and soda!

See you in 31…or 40…or 60? That’s still TBD.

{The Pains}

Pre-Whole30, I found myself constantly complaining of stomach pain, extreme fatigue (like, falling asleep while Lance drove us somewhere after waking up from a full night’s sleep only an hour before), reflux, acne, extremely painful menstrual cycles with intense PMS, an INTENSE sweet tooth, and lacking the ability to resist said sweet cravings…like it had some sort of spell over me.

After going through short-lived, unsuccessful, failed bouts of, “I’m going to clean up my diet,” or “I’m cutting out dairy,” “I’m cutting out gluten,” and “I’ll just have a piece of dark chocolate every night to satisfy my sweet tooth,” or Lance’s favorite, “I’ll start Monday,” something clicked and enough was enough.

I don’t control everything much in my life, but I can control what I do and do not put in my body each day. I control what I allow in, even if I lack control of the negative effects it has once inside. I’m a grown adult and I don’t want food and/or cravings to consume me. Frankly, it’s never OK to consume basically an entire pan of baked cookies (out of a package for goodness sake, not even homemade), continuously going back “for just one more,” because of your sweet tooth and be so miserably full afterwards that you tell your husband not to snuggle on the couch to watch a movie…I’ll just sit on this side and you sit over there.

Husband > Sweet Craving. Every. Single. Time.

It’s time to make a change.

I wanted my power back. Or maybe I wanted power over it for the first time.

The straw that broke the camel’s back made it’s lovely appearance in May of this year. I’ve struggled with blemishes previously, for sure. (I’ve tried everything from all natural routines to the most expensive prescription treatments) This was different. I woke up one morning to find all kinds of bumps all over my face. It continued to get worse, so I even went make up free for a few days, you know, to let my skin breath. It got so bad, I thought I was having an allergic reaction. The girls I work with felt so bad for me, they covered for me while I went to see a dermatologist during work hours.

The MD politely informed me, “While it is not an allergic reaction, it is adult onset acne.” UUggghhhhh! REALLY??

(I could show you pictures I have saved on my phone, but I’ll spare you that here.)

So, I did something that I wanted to less than anything else. I started taking prescription oral medication for my face. One that is an antibiotic and one that is to help with the hormonal aspect. It’s a personal decision, but if you’ve ever struggled with acne then you know how physically and emotionally painful it can be. I cried. I cried because I had to leave the house. I cried when Lance would look at me. I cried when I had to look at me. I didn’t want to go to the gym, I didn’t want to go to work. I was 29 and now I had painful, cystic acne. Vain much? Yes, but I’m just being honest.

(Just to clarify, I did leave the house as usual, I did go to work, and I did continue to go to the gym)

Fast forward a few months later, my skin was improving but I’m still getting asked, “Did you hit your head on a door,” or “Were you bitten by something on your face?” True stories. Super confidence boosters right there! 🙂 The meds weren’t cutting it. Luckily, at this point, I was able to laugh off things like this and truly find it funny.

Then, enter the Whole30. It’s funny, because I really don’t remember where I saw it or how it was introduced to me. But I pretty much immediately knew that I was willing to try it. I liked that it was so strict, so black and white with no grey area. No room for, “maybe I’ll just have a taste,” or “I can still make a dessert healthy and satisfy my sweet tooth.” I like the minimum length of 30 days. We can do anything for 30 days, right? Right. 

Even more so, I loved reading the testimonials of Whole30 alumni! These people have such great stories regarding decreasing autoimmune disease symptoms, kids being taken off ADD meds, adults that were able to discontinue type II diabetes meds, and the list goes on and on. If they can do it, well then, by gosh, I can do it too!

Is it hard?

It’s not so much hard as it is an adjustment. I’m telling you, I was ready for a change. It was a natural next move for me. There are times I do have to sacrifice in order to food prep, or late at night I do get a sweet craving (that you’re not supposed to fill with fruit), and moments when the freshly baked desserts and pizzas smell so good. But, that’s OK. I did not do myself any favors by eating those foods in the first place, and if this thing works, it’ll be totally worth a little big huge craving…that atleast will go away when you sleep. (Until you dream about it, that is!) <——-Truth. You will dream about chocolate…or pizza…or biscuits…whatever your thing is.

With all that said, you learn prepping tricks and you come up with plans for a super quick go-to dinner. You learn to stock up and freeze certain items so that you always have them handy. You figure out where to pick up a compliant pre-made rotisserie chicken. You don’t always have to spend an hour in the grocery store examining every. single. label., because, soon enough, you’ll get. You won’t always have to use your hand as blinders while you pick up frozen veggies because some idiot placed the frozen veggies and ice cream on the same frozen aisle. The nerve.

I’m sure it was a man whose hormones never convinced him that gelato could be a life or death situation.

I’m also sure, he should be shot. (nothing major, just a minor flesh wound. 😉 )

And all the horomonal women, together, shouted, “Amen!”

You’ll learn to keep emergency snacks with you so that you don’t get stuck at work or in traffic, become hangry, and fall into the trap that is a gas station or vending machine quick sand!

You will discover what your quicksand traps are, and then you’ll quickly learn to avoid and overcome them.

Do you really drink black coffee?

This statement is true. I wake up every single morning and quite happily pour myself one two cups of beautiful, black coffee. No creamer, no problem. And guess what? I never plan on using creamer again.

I may or may not start walking through the creamer aisle of grocery stores picketing creamer sales. I think my sign would will read, “RIP creamer! RIP you coffee clouder!”

If you see me, join in…or call the cops…whatever feels right.

Are you hungry?

Nope! They don’t want you to be hungry, in fact they discourage it…score! Now, while your body is relearning what fuel it needs and how much fuel it needs, you will have to play around with your food portions. (I suppose, one of the only times it’s acceptable to play with your food.) They discourage snacking and prefer that you eat three meals per day, but this could be different depending on your activity level. Most likely it’s not though, and really, you just need three meals.

(That hour long weight lifting/cardio you do everyday? Yeah, that doesn’t give you license to go crazy with food. Sorry. That’s a lie, I’m not really sorry. You’d be surprised how little food you need to be full and satiated. You just have to eat smart. Learn to listen to your body.)

I didn’t believe this was going to be true, since as long as I can remember, I’ve been a full on grazer. Eating every 2-3 hours was necessity to ward off the effects of hanger.

Now, on days I work at the pediatric office, I eat breakfast around 8:30 AM and can wait until our 1 PM lunch time to eat. Crazy, right? Before, I’d start eyeing the clock at 9:30 AM and counting down the minutes until 11 AM, which was my self appointed snack time, and I blamed it on a fast metabolism.

Is it like Paleo? 

Similar.

The authors in fact, I think were mentored by Loren Cordain, an esteemed paleo expert and author of paleo books.

The catch is that, now paleo itself can be a little confusing. Is honey allowed? Is agave syrup allowed? How about beer? Bacon? Depending on what site you are looking at you’re likely to get a different answer.

Whole30 simply says, no. No added sugars or sweeteners, no alcohol (you can’t even have vanilla extract because of the sugar alcohol. Same concept with chewing gum), and (approved) bacon as a garnish only. They also disapprove making non compliant foods with compliant foods. For example, making a “paleo pancake” using egg whites and a banana is a Whole30 no-no. Using frozen bananas to blend into “paleo ice-cream?”  Not gonna happen.

This link says it best:

“The goal of the Whole30 is to eliminate all foods that may be having a negative psychological or physiological effect on how you look, feel and live.”

Are you miserable?

This couldn’t be more untrue. I feel great and best of all (even Lance says this), there’s no sense of guilt at any point in regards to eating. We love to eat, and love to eat together, and a lot of times this would result in too much gelato, one two three handfuls too many of french fries, and one five pieces too many of pizza. Somewhere in me, it’s like I felt the need to keep up with him, and that was a losing battle!

I haven’t once placed my hand over my stomach post-meal and said, “Ugh, I ate too much.”

Do you feel any different?

Indeed, I do! I do have more energy, I don’t think I’d die without my cup of joe in the mornings (Clarification: I am not giving it up, and you can’t make me, hah!),  I can see a difference in my skin (more on this later),  I didn’t even know when my menstrual cycle would occur because the usual pre-three-day pain and irritability were MIA, and I do think the food freedom has given us more drive in day to day life.

What happens after Whole30?

With their recommendations, we will reintroduce food groups one at a time. Think of it like a newborn, they are introduced new foods individually so that if there is a negative reaction, the parent knows exactly which food to eliminate in order to avoid that reaction.

{Reintroduction Schedule}

Legumes

Non-gluten grains

Dairy

Non-gluten containing grains

Essentially you’ll eat a serving of each at each meal during it’s allowed day, then you’ll return eating Whole30 compliant for around 48 hours and take notice of effects, feelings, and just anything related to it.

Does dairy effect you in a way that you’re willing to have ice cream every week? Or are you OK skipping it because you’d rather not have those stomach pains or blemishes as a result?

You get the idea.

{Do I have to reintroduce?}

Nope. For example, Lance is simply not missing legumes in his diet, not even peanut butter. So, I’m not going to force him to reintroduce right now.

For me, I completed my Whole30 on Wednesday, but I’ll finish up with Lance who is six days behind me. Am I going to start reintroducing?

I’m not sure.

There are still goals (mostly related to skin problems) that I haven’t reached, and I’m not dying to have anything off Whole30, so I’ll likely play it by ear and see if I keep going. And I’d loooooove to get even more control over my sugar dragon. I’m not 100% convinced if you placed a pint of sea salt caramel gelato in front of me on Day 31 that I wouldn’t eat the entire thing. I’d like to think I wouldn’t (I’d probably just have to remove it), but we’ll see.

I hope that was helpful and made sense! I’m always happy to talk about it and answer questions even if they’re personal. I’m pretty much an open book and an avid over sharer 🙂 Let me know if there are other questions or anything you’ve been wondering.

A lot of people have approached me and said, “I’d like to do this, but it’s just too time consuming.” I don’t think that’s the case. So, I’m considering doing a post on what a week of Whole30 could/would look like for someone who needs it to be super fast and/or inexpensive.

Anyhow, TGIF!

{Whole30} Haters and Congratulators

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At the same moment I decided to put it out there, or really here, that I (and eventually my Boo) were embarking on the Whole30, a red carpet was being rolled out for all sorts of questions coming my way.

Why would you diet?

You’re so skinny already, are you trying to lose weight?

Are you hungry?

Is it hard?

Is it Paleo? 

Are you miserable? 

What day are you on?

What happens after day 30?

And let me just tell you, I love it. I love it even when the person voicing their curiosity isn’t coming from a very nice or sincere place. Some people have actually gotten mad at me for starting this journey, which I can’t help but laugh and say, “I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and while I’d recommend it for everyone, I’m not asking anyone to join me…not even you,” delivered with that southern girl smile and charm of course. 🙂  I love it when the curious one is asking for tips to embark on their own Whole30, and I love it when the curious one is just that…curious.

You know what else? You find out a lot about people when you put yourself out there. Now, do I expect anyone to read about this journey or anything I post after? Not really, and for the longest I actually kept my blog private and it was just a secret I kept…and I liked it that way.  Do I think I have something special and think I’m better than others and just want people to see me. Oh. Lord. No. This is so far out of my comfort zone that I might as well be on Pluto. I’m very private and could likely live in my little condo (with my Boo, of course) and be perfectly content staying isolated. I can be very private and very reserved. Some people get recharged from being around people and never being alone. I’m definitely recharged in solitude. If you ask my mom, I’ve been this way since I could crawl. By no means is this a bad thing, but I believe that God created us to live in community, encouragement, alongside others, loving each other unconditionally with His love…and you can’t do that without being vulnerable, being open, being real. 

So, here I am in all of my flaws, inconsistencies, bad habits, joys, growths, nuances…just kind of, well, out there.

While I’d like to think that people are always supportive and happy for others, that’s simply not always the case. And that’s OKAY. When you put yourself out there, you’re putting yourself out there for support, love, and encouragement (And you’ll be so thankful for moments filled with such), but you’re also putting yourself out there for the Negative Nancy’s, Loveless Lucy’s, and Disapproving Debra’s. And the funny thing is that the Nancy’s, Lucy’s, and Debra’s will continue to follow what you’re doing…like fully commit to following you, just to put you down.

But let’s not forget an important truth: Hurt people hurt people.

Simple as that.

Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Don’t get bitter.

If you do anything, just love. Ask God to teach you to love like Him. Ask for the ability to love others that hurt you and hurt you intentionally.

But, Mallory, that’s hard!

 Dang right it’s hard! That’s why we look to Him, because in and of ourselves it’s simply not possible. But,

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew19:26

He did that for us, does that for us, and will allow us to love others the same. Through Him. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

People who choose to find joy in life will also choose to find joy in your ventures and in you. People who choose to live a life focused on the negative, that the grass is always greener somewhere…anywhere, putting others down to build themselves up…what will they do? Well, they will choose to find their “joy” in putting you down. And guess what? You’ll be fine.

Do what you do. God has given you a gift. God has given you a dream. God has given you a desire. God has given you the tools you need to follow that gift, dream, and desire. Why? For His glory!

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” -John Piper

So, why keep it bottled up inside because of the fears of what others will say in reaction?

It is burning to come out!

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

Jeremiah 20:9

Be bold.

Be confident.

Be great.

Be His.

Now,originally, this post was to include the most FAQ I’ve personally received while Whole30’ing, but it was getting a little lengthy and you’re likely to only scroll for so long to read my post. Better yet, I’m only willing to scroll so long to read posts, so I’m assuming there are others out there with the same attention span 🙂

Sometimes short and sweet IS best.

Stay tuned because the FAQ is coming your way super soon!

Until then, choose joy over sadness, chose encouragement over discouragement, choose life over death, and choose your Creator of this world over the things of this world!

❤ ❤ ❤

A Losing Battle: The Perfect Whole30 & The Perfect Life

Perfection.

One word and yet so many different meanings for everyone.

Can it be attained? Can you buy it? Can you make it? Can you work hard enough for it? Can people believe that you are it?

The journey to perfection is a long, rigorous, expensive, never ending, never satisfying road.

We travel to Tegucigalpa, Honduras a couple times per year. If you’ve been there, you know the roads and traffic are a nightmare at best. What you could walk in 15 minutes might just take you 2 hours by car. There are no rules, there is no order, only chaos. Plus, it can be down right scary.

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This is what I would paint if I were trying to portray the road to perfection…chaos. No rules, no order, just everyone out for themselves, doing whatever it takes to get from point A to point B. And anyhow, WHO is to tell you what perfect is? Who sets the bar? Who is the dictator when it comes to your perception of perfection? Celebrities? Instagram? Family? Friends? Athletics? WHAT do you need to obtain in order to reach the goal of perfection and become complete? Is it clear skin? The perfect job? A certain number of followers on Instagram? The perfect diet? The perfect body? Whiter teeth? The perfect marriage? The perfect house, car or vacation home?

Whatever “it” is, you and I are handing over all our power to It, Her, or Him when we let them tell us our value and worth, and we believe them.

What does that mean?

It means that whether we realize it or not, if the world is our gauge, it’s our priority each day to do whatever it takes to make “it” possible, no matter the cost. Friendships, marriage, children, family…they’re all expendable if it means obtaining perfection. Now, you may not leave your kids, friends, or marriage, (or you may) but you’ll sacrifice time and moments with them. Perfection is like a drug. Until we have it we’re not satisfied, we’ll do anything to get it, but when we get it, the high goes away so soon, and we’re back on the prowl again. Something or someone else better will always come along, swoop up your desires, put you on the prowl thinking now you have perfection! Until, it’s not enough…and here we go again! 

What a vicious cycle. To desire and work for something that you’ll never obtain. To long for something that will never satisfy. You long to be full. It even promises to fill you, but it leaves you utterly depleted. How exhausting it is!

“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.”

Psalm 69: 1,2

Can anyone else relate to this and feeling like you’re not good enough? Thinking, “If only I were/had/looked ⎽⎽⎽⎽⎽⎽, then I’d have what it takes. Then I’d be there.”  Oh, how at times, I can fill that blank with an endless arrangement of nouns and adjectives.

So, if we’re not supposed to look to other people to tell us what our perfect is, to whom should we look?

I’m glad you asked. 

What if this were your reality:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

Psalm 40: 2, 3a

For me, the majority of my life, I let the popularities of the moment dictate my actions and they were my everything. I looked like world, talked liked the world, dressed like the world…I blended in. Whatever was going to leave me with the mark of approval, “acceptance,” that’s what I was going to do.

Just fit in. Don’t go against the crowd. Stay quiet and don’t cause a commotion.

Now, it is quite different. We have to look to and follow something or someone to guide us. We’re getting our standards of living from somewhere, it’s just a matter of where. We’re getting our value and self worth from someone. So, who? Instead of letting the Kardashians tell me what to wear, instead of letting Nicki Minaj have reign over my airways, and instead of letting The Real Housewives of Orange County influence how I treat my husband, I look at our Creator for comparison. The beauty of this is:

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Romans 3:23

Perfection is not something to be obtained while we are here, living on Earth.

Not for anyone, no matter how put together they seem. Thank Goodness. 

God knew and God knows that we are born into this world a sinful people. We simply can not do things right all of the time. And because of this:

“…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:24

What we couldn’t do to earn and keep God’s love, Christ did it for us. What we lack, He gives. What we need, He provides. What we ruin, He repairs. Once and for all.

And look at that fifth word. “Freely.” You don’t earn it. You can’t. You don’t lose it. You can’t. You simply surrender.

What about that longing constantly in your heart, the one that keeps you searching for the next best thing, or more followers on social media to make you feel loved and important…yea, God put that there too:

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Romans 1:20

When you wake up and have breath…that’s from Him. When you’re able to move your legs to walk and get your morning coffee…He allows you that too. When you walk outside and can see the trees and sky because of the sun’s radiance…He put that there. When a human is formed in your womb…that miracle is His gift as well. When you mess up, make a mistake, do something you know was wrong…He will forgive and remember that sin no more. He won’t allow your mistakes to define you, because He defines you.

Hence, “his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen…”

What about when you get so overwhelmed with the Goodness and Holiness of God that you allow guilt to creep in? I mean, in comparison to God’s perfection, how could someone so Holy love me?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”

Romans 8:1

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

That’s just it. It’s no longer about you and what you’ve done, It’s about Him and what He’s done. You can’t make Him love you any more or less. That would make him fickle, and God is not fickle. He is a mighty God with an unrelenting love that is un-changing.

If I’m no longer a part of the world, then to whom or what will I belong?

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:15

This faith is a beautiful thing. It’s beautiful because it takes the focus off me, off you, away from the “I” centered mentality, and puts it on Him.

This faith is a freeing thing. I no longer have to worry about what others think of me!

“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…”

Romans 6:8

If I have “died” then can I become offended? Or be concerned with others perception of me? Well, I haven’t seen any deceased people becoming offended as of late, have you? He is saying die to your ways, die to trying to achieve everything on your own, die to needing the approval of others. Do this so that you may live. Find life in me. Everyone and everything in this world is changing and evolving. He is constant.

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

Romans 23:19

He can be trusted. He is good. He is faithful. In Him you will be free. In Him you will be bold. In Him you will have courage. In Him you will be loved. And because of His sacrifice, You can be accepted, unblemished, and welcomed into His presence.



Now, how does this relate to my Whole30?

That “perfection” we talked about earlier…yea, that can still creep in, even in the Whole30. I found myself thinking I have to only prepare the best meals with the freshest ingredients and make it look perfect. That’s a great equation to equal stress and who needs more stress?

Well, last week, thank you Lord, a lightbulb finally went off! I do believe it’s a necessity to adhere to the rules of something like Whole30, but even they aren’t asking me to become a five star chef within a month. I am! 

No one is asking me to use only the highest quality, most time consuming ingredients possible. I am!

We can be our worst enemy and our toughest critic. 

A lot of times, people don’t have to put us down or try to make our life difficult, because we do it for them. And maybe we do it ourselves so that other people can’t. You know, punch ourselves to beat others to the punch…

Back to Whole30! Focus, Mallory.

I knew this week wouldn’t allow for lots of food prep and spending much time in the kitchen, so I kept it super simple and made it achievable. It’s not fancy, but even the husband was super satisfied with all the eats.

Lesson:

Don’t make things harder than they have to be. Work smarter not harder!

Proteins

Prior to leaving for Minnesota last Thursday, I picked up some extra meats to freeze for our return:

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(Just in case you’re wondering, all of this frozen seafood from Publix is wild-caught)

With the exception of eggs, shrimp, and chicken sausage, I bought everything before leaving on the trip. And no, I did not eat the cocktail sauce pictured with the shrimp. I repeat, I did not eat the cocktail sauce. If you do, you will be starting over on day uno! No bueno.

The Veggies

 I might as well have tasted gold after cooking the frozen stir fry from Aldi after Labor Day. Remember that one?? The one with the corn lurking around and hiding like a high schooler smoking a cigarette during a “bathroom break??”

I know fresh produce is queen, however, life happens, and sometimes THIS queen doesn’t have time to peel, cut, chop, and dice fresh veggies. Or feel like it. Just being real.

It’s like frozen produce had never crossed my mind before! I was blinded by trying to have the “perfect Whole30.” Well, I once was blind but now I see! And since I could see, I drove myself to Walmart (I know, I know, but I needed some tech-y stuff and was crunched for time…and desperate), and strolled my cart (broken wheel and all) straight to the frozen veggie section.

(I will say this and then I’ll hop down from my soap box and move right along. The customer service at stores such as Publix, Aldi, Whole Paycheck Foods, and Sprouts has spoiled me. I didn’t exactly realize this until my wonderful Walmart experience.)

Rant Over. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

Back to the frozen featured item…veggies!

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Inexpensive + Compliant = Veggie Victory! Yes, that’s a thing, or atleast it is now.

I know that most times you pay for what you get, but there was nothing lurking in these ingredients besides the approved vegetables themselves. I’m confident if I look closely to each package’s fine print, it boasts about all the time you’re going to save and this should TOTALLY be their marketing scheme.

I had made my way to Aldi and picked up

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Before you go buy the stir fry, look closely at it (because on the Whole30, you’re always looking closely at ingredients), have a panic attack, and take me out for stoning…remember that I do not use the sauce and I do not eat the corn. All five pieces of corn I remove.

I repeat: Do. Not. Eat. The. Corn. You will START OVER on Day 1…all by yourself. Again, no bueno.

That is what you call using the fear tactic.

Moving right along, once back home a couple of days, I made it to Costco and Aldi and stocked up on various veggies

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The Menu

Monday: This is the night we flew back home and I thawed tuna 3/4 of the way to attempt this recipe. Had I done it correctly, I’m confident it would have been wonderful. I poured the Great Value brand Sugar Snap Pea Stir Fry in a pan with some coconut aminos for a quick side dish.

Tuesday: I guess in attempt to make up for Monday, I brought my A-game with this  pork tenderloin recipe. I got bonus points for planning ahead and mixing up the spices in a ziploc before leaving town, so prep was SUPER easy. I also left off the walnuts, because, well, I didn’t have any. This balsamic glaze poured over the finished tenderloin was amazing. We’re talking finger lickin’ good. (This is coming from a non-finger-licker, you know, because hands are super germy, but for this?  I’ll make an exception).

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For the side, whole sweet potatoes were covered in coconut oil, salt, pepper, and cinammon, placed on a separate baking sheet, and cooked with the pork. We did turn up the heat to 425 degrees and cook 10 minutes more after pork was done.

Wednesday: Why mess with a good thing? We had leftover pork tenderloin and I cooked collard greens that were part of the Veggie Victory, as well as handful of cherry tomatoes each.

 During the day, I thawed chicken breasts and swordfish steak. For the chicken, I drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and paprika. It cooked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, I flipped them, and finished cooking for 15 minutes.  For the swordfish, after pre-heating a pan to medium/high heat, I drizzled the fish with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once the pan was warm, less than a Tbsp of olive was placed in pan, and swordfish was cooked on one side for three minutes, no flipping.

While cooking, I mixed together in a blender some coconut milk, garlic, basil, olive oil, tomato paste, and crushed red pepper to a smooth consistency. (I’m not sure about measurements, because I didn’t really think it’d turn out well…I was wrong, sorry!)

After three minutes of the fish cooking, I turned heat to medium, flipped the fish, poured sauce in pan, and cooked a few minutes longer.

Thursday: We were both hangry by the time we got home, so we did a head first dive into the prepared swordfish placed over a bed of greens, and served with a side of microwaved steamed stir fry veggies from Bird’s eye. (That five minutes of microwave time might as well have been five hours. I was so impatient! I pressed my face against the microwave door, so I’m sure I have radiation poisoning.)

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Friday: We will be eating the prepared chicken breasts as protein. For sides, I’ll bake some butternut squash as well as cooking some of the Veggie Victory Kale from Walmart.

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That my friends is what an easy week of cooking looks like for us. Our lunches consisted of leftovers and I did get a few lunches out of the Costco shrimp, which I did absolutely nothing to enhance, I just put it over some salads and called it a day lunch.

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Since compliant, store-bought almond butter is EXPENSIVE, I buy bags of nuts from costco, and make my own, playing around with different recipes,

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as well as making spiced mixes for Lance.

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This is not rocket science. It does not have to be “perfect.” It does not have to consume all of your time. Life is way too short to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the kitchen. Get out there, make healthy choices, do your best, be joyful, be free, be Whole.

Until next time…

How We Survived Whole30 In Planes, Airports, & Hotels (Without Being Miserable)

Staying on trend with the Whole30 deal, the only “sugar” allowed is in the form of kisses. So, when it comes to my feelings regarding airports and air travel, I won’t sugar coat that either.

I’m not a fan of flying.

There, I said it. You want me to PAY for a seat in an aluminum tube, more than 30,000 feet in the air, squished between 2 other humans while the person in front of me reclines in my lap, hold my urine until my bladder bursts to avoid whatever is lurking in that Matel sized “bathroom” meant for a barbie doll, all while my tushy goes numb from the “cushioned” seats.

No thanks.

Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil that we’re doing on a semi-regular basis these days.

Normally, this gives Lance and myself a free ticket to drown our airport sorrows in comfort foods, which usually works pretty well. Think gummy bears, coke zero, cookies, Chic fil A fries,  M&M’s…the works. He gets so mad at me when he looks down to grab a sour patch kid (before the plane takes off) only to realize I’ve eaten all the candy…guilty!

(This is why, at the theater, Lance has to keep the candy from me until the 30 minutes of previews are over and the big show begins. 😁 Otherwise, I’d eat all the twizzlers before we get to our seats! Am I three or am I thirty? Sometimes I can’t tell. )

My sugar dragon is fierce, y’all.

Now, I’m not sure if this sugar-filled plan actually helps the airport sorrows or just spikes our blood sugar so high that it puts us in a mini coma and we forget what happened. Either way,  this particular travel day is a little lot different as it marks day 17 (Lance’s day 11) of my Whole30 and I’ll be darned if I let airport chaos deter my mission.

When a woman is on a mission, get out of her way. Can I get an amen?

So, can you guess the word that is going to be the key to my success??

I bet you can…

On the tip of your tongue…

Yes!

Preparation.

A couple of posts ago we talked about prepping for a weekend at the lake, being surrounded by temptations, and having conversations with chocolate…outloud. Not my proudest moment. With air travel and hotels, there’s more anticipation involved as you’re not as likely to  have as many resources at your final destination.

The Basics

In regards to prepping for the airports and plane rides themselves, I planned food that

a. wasn’t incredibly messy

b. wouldn’t make everyone hate me by having to smell it (I’m looking at you boiled eggs and tuna)

c. could be eaten cold or room temperature

d. didn’t need my hands to transport food to mouth…fork please! (airports seriously gross me out on an exceptionally high level, because people are gross and don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, sneezing into them, wiping (and picking) their nose, etc, and I DON’T WANT THEIR NASTINESS. Ugh.)

So, like the super cool kid that I am, I brought along my complimentary Nurse’s Appreciation Week cooler courtesy of the hospital and packed it quite full.

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Pre Trip Food Haul

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:

We had checked with the hotel prior to arrival to confirm they DID have a regrigerator. That is a Whole30 WIN! So, upon landing we searched for WholeFoods in our phones and 10 minutes later, there we were.

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Isn’t he the cutest ❤

A rotisserie chicken also ended up in our cart after the left photo was snapped.

Once at the hotel we realized we scored a double win because there was a microwave in the room as well! It’s the small things, right? 🙂 I was super excited not to be eating cold chicken and sausage for the next 4 days. Even if the microwave was made the same year I was born.  Minor details.

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We ate every.single.thing that was in this fridge! There was no food waste which makes my frugal heart very happy!

Dinner Night One In The Very Small Town

{We hit jackpot}

Off we went, on foot, straight to the Chipotle a few blocks away. This way Lance could get a quadruple order of chicken and steak and it’d be easy to be Whole30 compliant. Not only was yummy food awaiting us upon our arrival…so was a line of about 45 people!

Initially, we decided to wait it out. Compliant food without stress was worth the wait. However, it was not two minutes later that Lance had found another option that was across the street, and best of all, lineless

Onward to Quarks we went! It was delicious. If you’re ever in St. Cloud, MN, and need a quick, healthy option this is a GREAT place. The staff was super helpful and understanding of our Whole30 situation.

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You can’t see the steak that is hiding under all of the veggies in my bowl, but that’s only because I added every.single.vegetable on the menu, and that is no exaggeration.

If you are wondering about dressing, none of theirs were compliant. So, it’s a great thing this chic brought her own dressing from home…in a travel sized shampoo bottle 😂

Crazy or prepared?? The jury is still out!

P.S

Can we talk about how thankful we were for the 45 people in line that prompted us to choose a much less known dinner option?! Yes, lets.

We were settling in bed for the night with the local news on TV covering quite the unfortunate story: 17 Chipotles in MINNESOTA had confirmed LINKED cases of SALMONELLA!!! UUUGGHHHH!

That, my friends, is a parting gift that I would like to leave IN MINNESOTA!

Thank you, God, for sparing our GI systems!

And I really hope the 45 people who stuck out the line did not indeed come in contact with any salmonella 😁

Non-Glamorous Whole30 Meals

out of the mini fridge and constructed on the island dresser, hah!

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Basically, breakfast and lunch were from the mini fridge, lovingly nicknamed Midge, and were variations of above. For dinner, we let loose and dined out each evening.

There was a whole lot of saving containers, taping lids down to ensure a lack of leakage, washing dishes in the bathroom sink with hotel shampoo, drying them off with toilet paper, and using a pocket knife to cut meats and veggies.

Jealous? What can I say, we enjoy a 5 star way of life, and if it’s not fancy, it’s not for us 🙂

Nights 2&3 Out On The St. Cloud, MN Town

Nick’s was so good we doubled up and went back two nights in a row. Creatures of habit? Maybe, but we could also walk there and did I say it was sooooooo good!? Apparently their chef(s) gets the vegetables from their own garden and they serve meat that is both locally raised and grass fed.

Look at this medium rare loveliness

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Night 2 was a grass fed burger, topped with a fried egg, and served with sweet potato mash that was delicious!

“Brunch”

I giggled when we pulled up to this next one, but a special someone requested french toast, so where else do you go in a small town? Who serves “french toast all day long?”

None other than good ole'” Copper Tavern’s Family Food.”

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I ended up with some turkey, topped with tomato slices, 2 fried eggs, and served with a side of fresh cantaloupe. Let’s just say the cantaloupe was delicious and leave it at that 🙂

The Wrap Up

I am super glad I brought:

❤ almond butter, jarred and mini packs

❤ compliant dressing in a travel sized shampoo bottle

❤ plenty of plasticware and napkins

❤ food for the airplane rides

❤ jerky and bars for emergencies

❤ a good knife (but if you’re going for just a carry on, a plastic knife will do)

❤ a few plastic containers for transporting food.

❤ tape (not everyone will do this, but I really didn’t want my bags smelling like steak, dressing, chicken, etc)

I could have done without:

(You won’t be scrolling much for this list)

*Not pictured was a small cutting board. I never used it and it was still wrapped in the plastic grocery bag when I got home.

(This completes the portion of  “I could have done without,” Hah!)

Pro’s

Normally, we would have spent a lot of money purchasing extremely overpriced items in the airport.

 When your sugar dragon is awake and active, you’ll pay $10 for your fix. Am I right or am I right?

 It’s like paying movie theater prices without the entertainment. (But I guess people watching can be quite the entertainment!) And I can’t think of any purchases besides black coffee that were made! Score. On that note, since we made meals from trusty “Midge,” we only needed to dine out once per day which, again, saved us money in the end. So, even though you may pay a decent amount of money at a food store, it’s less expensive, in my experience, than dining out often. And let me tell you, those “little” purchases at convenient stores and airport stores ADD UP. Way up. I’d rather save the money for a cute shirt or something anyhow!

Make What You Have Work

You can definitely use the resources on hand. Like, the ice bag or laundry bag provided by the hotel, I used this to carry apples, silverware, and napkins in my backpack so they were kept clean. I also saved grocery bags to wrap food-filled tupperware in, just in case of a leak. Also, the shampoo provided by the hotel makes for a great dish detergent 🙂

Home Is Where A Useable Kitchen Is

After five days, I’m super happy to report that we are home. As soon as I walked in the door, I thawed (well, mostly thawed) some tuna steaks for dinner and did the whole unpacking/laundry deal while Lance headed to Publix to grab essentials to get us through a few days. The tuna could have been better, like, if I would have let it thaw before attempting to cook it.

It was late. I wanted to go to bed. Don’t look at me with judgey eyes.

Of course we ate two large helpings and Lance even mustered up a, “It’s really not that bad, sweetie.” Bless him.

I’d love to hear any tips from Whole30’ers out there as far as traveling goes!