Meal Planning Monday

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The vegetarian diet and counting marco's is starting to work and pay off with the scale.  Mike and I are both feeling great and I am down a few more pounds.

This week's menu:

Alfredo spaghetti squash with a garden salad
Bean, corn spinach and onion enchilada's with a side of mexican rice
Tomato Basil Soup with grilled cheese
Cesar salad with roasted potato's


Meal Plan Monday

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We are still going strong with our vegetarian meals for dinner.
This week I stocked up on lots of vegetables and plan on roasting them and having them for a couple of meals.  I am also going to try to make a new shrimp recipe from the blog- the natural nurturer.  I am hoping the family likes it.  I don't think the kids have ever tried shrimp.

So here is our plan for the week.

Zucchini noodles with a tomato mushroom sauce
Roasted vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, red onions, red potatoes, carrots and asparagus) with fried eggs on top
Zesty Lime shrimp with Simple Cauliflower Rice (www.thenarutalnurer.com)
Tomato Basil Soup with panini cheese mini sandwiches



Meal Plan Monday

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It's been a while since I've done a Meal Plan Monday Post.  I meal plan in the morning and then grocery shop while Evelyn's at school.  It is much easier to just take Jack.
We've been eating mostly vegetarian meals lately.  Just trying to watch what we eat a little more and it has been fun trying new recipes.
Any ideas you guys have would be great.  I am always up for trying something new.

This week we will be having:
Spaghetti Squash with tomato mushroom sauce (noodles for the kids) and cesear salad
Black bean and spinach enchilada's with chips and salsa
Tomato, mozzarella and Pesto Panini's
Bean burgers with tator tots and cucumbers and tomato salad
Crab cakes with roasted vegetables


Jack turns 3!!!

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What a day it was.  My little guy turned 3 a few weeks ago.  We've been so busy with family in town and with enjoying summer I haven't had time to update the blog with the details of his party.  I am pretty active on Instagram so make sure you check me out there- xtinapilk

Our theme this year was Nautical.  The kids both had cute anchor shirts and anchor bathing suits.
We spent the day playing in the pool and bbq'ing with some family that came into town.

We all had lots of fun.

Jack is a sweet and very affectionate little man.  He loves cuddles and has very good manners.  Always using please and thank you.  He is also very smart.  He can recognize all of his letters, uppercase and lowercase. Can count pass 20 and knows all of his shapes and all of his colors.  I am just amazed at how fast he picks things up.  He plays puzzle games that adults would struggle with.
I am one proud mama that is for sure.  I love watching him experience the world around him.  He loves the water and riding his strider bike.  This is going to be a big year for him with big sister going to kindergarten.  We are still deciding if he will go to pre school or just spend another year at home with me.  I am soaking up all of this summer and enjoying every minute of the fun we are all having.

Happy Birthday little man Jack!  You are loved by everyone!













Super Simple Banana Bread

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Evelyn has been asking for Banana Bread daily for the past 2 weeks so finally I decided to make some.
This recipe is super simple and you probably already have everything in your pantry. It is all prepared in one big bowl and does not require a mixer.  Doesn't get much easier than that in my opinion.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients
3 Very Riped Banana's
1/3 Cup melted butter
1/2 Cup Sugar (less depending on how sweet you would like it)
1 Egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 Cup of all purpose flour
(optional- 1/4 Cup nuts or mini chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or spray a 4x8 loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl mash the bananas really well with a fork, make them nice and smooth.  Next stir in the melted butter and add in the boing soda, salt, sugar, egg and vanilla.
Then mix in the flour.  When everything is mixed together, fold in the optional nuts or chocolate chips, if you choose to use any.

Poor the batter in the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes checking to see if a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
Let it cool completely and then slice it up to serve.









Office Gallery Wall

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I am slowly working on my office space and I have finally finished the picture gallery wall.  I really like the way it turned out.  I love pictures and these cute Instagram prints made for an easy way to cover the wall.

I printed them from Walgreens.  You can go to the photo area online and link your pictures from Instagram so it makes it really easy.  The wooden head I bought from Target and painted it.

I also used a ruler to space out the pictures and hung them with double sided tape.  So far they have stayed up.



A very easy project and a very easy way to display some really cute pictures.  


What we've been up to

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Summer is in full swing and we are enjoying every minute of it. 

Here's a few pictures. I'm hoping to post more in the next few weeks. 















Healthy Check In

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Well, the year didn't start so great for me.  I stuck to my new running plan for the first 2 weeks then started to get bored so I took some time off.  When I started back up I was so out of shape.  Seriously, how can taking a couple of weeks off put me so far behind??  That just made me frustrated and I took more time off and then I had to re evaluation what my fitness goals were going to be.
I finally started to get myself back on track in February, then I got the flu.  That flu kicked my butt and it took a long time to get back to the gym.

In March I came up with a plan.  The plan was...to start.  That's it.  Just to start.  I needed to get back to the basics, make time for me and get in gear.

I took a look at how I was eating, how my time was spent working out and what I really wanted to accomplish.  Now this might sound crazy to some and normal to others but all I really want is to of course feel great and to have a flat stomach.  Is that so much to hope for.  You know like those girls in the magazines.  The ones that put their hands on there hips and pose in a hot bikini.

I am 36 and I realized that I only have so much time to get those real bikini abs.  I love working out but the reality is I don't push myself.  I don't eat as well as I could and I definitely don't take enough time for myself.

So I started.  I woke up an hour before the kids and had coffee, played online by myself and had some much needed quiet time.  Then I made it a goal to get a work out in.  I either did something at home or made my way to the gym and put the kids in the child care.

I realized that after the first month of this I actually like doing some workouts at home.  My Pinterest (which you can follow) is full of fitness ideas, most of which I haven't tried.  I got a couple sets of hand weights, a workout ball, a yoga mat and found videos on Youtube and used my pinned ideas for inspiration.  Next up was an overhaul of my diet.  I started tracking meals, preplanning snacks and being prepared for the week by meal planning.  Most importantly I made a deal to give up fast food and pop.  I love McDonalds. I am aware of how bad it is but, I love it and could eat it everyday and if I am being honest with all of you and myself, I was eating it 2-3 times a week.  Yuck, I know but...yum, french fries!!!
Also water, water, water and more water.  I have been getting 80 ounces + every day.  I also make sure I drink greens everyday.

It has been a month and I am feeling great.  I am not tired, I am sleeping better, and I am less irritated.  The new lifestyle choices have been easier than I thought to stick to and I have a new found love for working out again.
This week I cut bread and dairy from my diet.  I thought it would be harder but so far, and I know it's only Thursday, but it is going good.  I feel less bloated and less heavy.

The weekends seem to be the hardest.  We love to cook and we love to eat and enjoy wine.  I have been limiting my portions but still enjoying life.  Because well, balance and I am making lifestyle changes not dieting.

I will keep you all updated on my progress, feelings and thoughts on this overhaul.  Also check out my fitness Instagram healthy_xtina  I haven't done a lot with this account but I have plans to do more posting.

Six pack abs here I come.  Or at the very least a 2 piece bathing suit that I am comfortable in.

I would love to hear your fitness tips, success stories, failures, or whatever gets you going.


I read this quote and thought it was perfect for this discussion.

You Don't have to be
Great to Start.  
But you DO have to 
Start
to be Great

Check me out on Bloglovin

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I wanted to do a quick post to tell you all about Bloglovin.  
I recently joined this network and have been having lots of fun reading other blogs.  

I added a button on the left side of the blog and you can just click on that and it will take you right there.  

Basically Bloglovin in a network of bloggers.  You can search and find different blogs based on different topics.  It is easy to use and great way to search to find new things to read.  

Check it out when you get some time.    


Meal Planning Monday

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Healthy Healthy is going to be the theme this week.  I am going to keep it simple with easy recipes and basic foods.  I have been upping my work out schedule and I could use some help with the food planning.

This is what I have planned-

Turkey Spaghetti with Zucchini Noodles, regular noodles and homemade breadsticks for the kids
Taco Salad (taco turkey meat, black beans, lettuce, tomato, peppers, avocado and taco sauce)
Grilled Chicken with Cauliflower rice and steamed broccoli
Breakfast- turkey bacon and eggs with a side of fruit
Chili (ground turkey, spices, peppers, onions, diced tomatoes and beans)

I am going to be cutting dairy this week but the kids and Mike will still have all that.































Since I know the kids won't eat some of these things I will make a few different options for them.  They will have cheese quasadilla's with green beans on taco salad night and buttered noodles and left over chicken on chili night.


Homemade Granola/Cereal

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Hi, My name is Christina and I am addicted to Cereal.  Ok, now that that is out in the open let me explain.
I love love love cereal.  I could eat it at for every meal.  Most days I eat at least 2 bowls.  I like all cereal too, I don't discriminate.  Sugary ones, healthy ones I love them all.
So, I needed to find a healthier alternative and preferably something homemade.
I have tried a few different granola recipes and this one seems to be the keeper.  It is easy to make with all easy to find ingredients.  Most you might have in your pantry already.

Here it is:

4 Cups Oatmeal
1/2 Cup chopped or sliced almonds
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans
1/4 Cup Walnuts
1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1/2 Cup Peanut butter
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Brown sugar

1/4 Cup dried fruit (ex. cranberries, rasins)

Pre heat oven at 350 degrees

In a small pot add in the wet ingredients- peanut butter, honey and brown sugar and slowly melt.
In a big bowl add in all the dry ingredients except the dried fruit and mix it all up.

After the wet ingredients are melted, slowly mix with the dry ingredients and spread it on a sheet pan.
Bake for 10-15 minutes shaking the pan after 10 minutes.  Watch closely so it doesn't burn depending on your oven.

When it is all toasty and cooked up, let it cool.  After it is cool add in the dried fruit and mix it all together.
I store mine in Mason Jars or in gallon size Ziplock bags.

It is ready to eat now by itself or as a yogurt topping.  My favorite way is in a big bowl with almond milk and fresh fruit.


Meal planning Monday

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Good Monday everyone!
I actually had a couple of requests asking that I post some meal ideas so I'm going to bring back Meal planning Monday's.
I am a big proponent of meal planning. It's how I stay organized and also stay within our grocery budget. How I do it is by picking 5 dinners to make and 3 lunch ideas. I don't plan which days to make those meals ahead of time.  I just have those ingredients in the house and depending on our mood or activities that day we choose what to make.

This week since we have left over ham we are going to try to use that up Momday and Tuesday.  We also have night actives Monday and Tuesday so I make something easy so we can eat quickly and get out the door.

So this is what's on our plan.

Ham sandwiches with cheesy mashed potato cakes
Ham sandwiches with roasted vegetables
Roasted vegetables with turkey smoked sausage and fried eggs
Mexican night- tacos, rice and beans with steamed broccoli
Wild rice soup, homemade breadsticks

For lunches I prepped cut up veggies.  Pepperoni, cheese, pretzels and hummus. We will also have peanut butter and jelly one or two days.


Have a great week!

Living Room Gallery Wall

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Finally it has happened.  I have collected all the pieces I wanted for the gallery wall in the living room.
I've talked about this before but, our upstairs living room is a really odd shape.  The traditional couch and love seat combo just won't work in that room.  We had to get creative with the furniture and after learning that the tv could not be mounted above the fireplace we had to get more creative with decorations.
There is this blank wall that stares at me ever day.  I thought about just doing one big painting or something.  I searched and searched but just couldn't find anything I thought would fit.
After searching Pinterest I thought the idea of a gallery wall would work.  It seems simple enough right.  Just get a bunch of stuff and put it on the wall.  Well, I wanted some color but not too much.  I wanted pictures but not all pictures.  I also wanted something a little extra but not so out there that it didn't look like it should go on the wall.
So, this is what the final product turned out to look like.

The arrows and white flower are from Target's new Pillowfort line.  It has some really cool stuff so make sure you check it out.

I made sure to use a level so everything is straight.  I also didn't use any nails.  Yes, you read that right.  I used 3m command strips for everything.  It was way easy and now I don't have to worry about 30 little nails in the wall.




Happy St. Patrick's Day! Treat with free Label

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We aren't doing much to celebrate the day.  I have some Corned Beef and Cabbage in the crock pot and we will probably be enjoying a beer when Mike gets home from work.  

Evelyn and I did make a treat for her class today.  They turned out really cute.  
I found the idea on Pinterest from the Teaching Blog Addict and the link even had a free printable label. 

Check it out.  It was really easy to do.  
We made rice krispie treats with Lucky Charms cereal and then cut them into clover shapes.  I put them in little bags and taped the label to it.  I had Evelyn right her name on them too.  Just at the bottom with a green marker.  


Click HERE and it will take you to the free printable.  



Enjoy your day and I hope you have the Luck of the Irish with you!

Mexican Pizza with homemade pizza dough

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We love love love pizza at our house and on the weekends you can find us surrounded around the Big Green Egg grilling pizza's.

We have done lots of experimenting over the past year and have found some hungry neighbors that are always willing to test out our creations.  

This past weekend we tried a few new toppings and this Mexican Pizza turned out the be the crowd favorite.



It is a pretty simple recipe and easy to follow.  

I make our own pizza dough using the bread machine.  It is fool proof and always comes out perfect.  

Add the ingredients into the machine in the order they are listed.  

3/4 Cup warm water
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Cups White Flour
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Bread Machine/Fast Rise Yeast

Put the machine on dough setting and let it go to work.  
After it is complete, pull the dough out of the machine and put it in a big bowl.  Put a towel over it and let it rise for another hour.  
After it is finished it is ready to go.  
I split the batch into 2 and make 2 thin crust pizza's on the grill.  Or you can do 1 and it will be more like a hand tossed pizza.  

So after I roll it out to about a 12 inch round I put it on a heated pizza stone that is in the grill already.  I let the first side brown a bit then flip it over and immediately put the toppings on.  

This Mexican Pizza is a twist on having an actual taco.

The base is refried beans and taco sauce mixed.  I used a half of can of beans and a half cup of taco bell's taco sauce.  
Then I put cooked taco meat on top of the beans.  I used ground turkey that was cooked with onions and red peppers and then seasoned with taco seasoning that I made.  
The cheese comes on next.  Lots of freshly shredded cheddar.  
Close the lid and let the cheese finish melting.  

When it is all cooked I pull it out of the grill and top it with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and a swirl of sour cream.  

Pretty simple and so tasty.  

DIY homemade Salt Glitter Craft

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This past week has been cold.  And when I say cold I don't mean it's a bit chilly, I am talking about -17 degrees.  You can't go outside without being bundled up with hats, gloves and full winter coats.  We are really getting a taste of a typical Minnesota Winter.
So we have had to stay inside for the most part and the kids need lots of activities to keep them entertained.  I came up with this quick solution to glitter when we ran out.

It is really simple to make and the kids both had lots of fun doing art projects with it.

You only need 2 simple ingredients.
-Food coloring
-Koscher salt

I put about a half of cup in each little dish and then added 3 drops of food coloring to each one.  

The color turned out great.  Any more food coloring and the salt became clumpy so a little goes a long way.  

Then we made pictures with glue and then sprinkled the salt glitter on top.  


The kids had a ton of fun and it kept them busy for an hour.  

A look back and a look forward

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What a year 2015 was. So many fun times and a few really big events.
Mike was promoted. Which followed by a big move from Michigan to Minnesota.
We also had some very memorable adventures together as a family. Just to mention a few. The kids first trip to an amusement park. Evelyn and my first girls weekend. A vacation to Myrtle Beach and a couples trip to Chicago.
We ended the year visiting family in both Michigan for Thanksgiving and Alabama for Christmas. New Year's Eve was spent cooking a big dinner, having drinks and watching the ball drop in both the central time zone and eastern time zone.
I feel like I spent the whole year smiling and I'm excited to see what 2016 has in store.

Last year was the year of Giving away and getting less. I stuck to it and started to live more minimally. I donated every piece of clothing that I hadn't wore in a year. We got rid of furniture that wasn't being used. And the biggest difference was donatinating more than half of the children's toys. If they weren't playing with it we passed it on.
After everything was sorted I worked on organizing. I've been a stay at home mom for over 4 years and I feel like I finally have it figured out. I've stuck to a cleaning schedule. I have simplified meal planning and I have found more free time in my day by simply sticking to a routine.
I feel great knowing that I worked on a goal and I've completed it. It wasn't easy and it took a lot of trial and error but it's a work in progress that I will continue into the new year.

So what's 2016 looking like as far as goals and resolutions for me? I've really thought about this a lot the past month. There are lots of little things I'd like to accomplish but it wasn't until this past week that I came to a solid answer.

Quality time. Quality time with Mike, quality time with the kids, quality time with myself, and quality time with friends and family.
 Sounds simple right but in reality I feel like, I spend a lot of wasted time with the ones I love.
I'm with the kids all day everyday and yet I feel like we just run around all day. I don't spend as much time as I want with them readying, doing crafts and really just making memories. Jack is starting preschool next year and Evelyn will be starting kindergarten. Our whole life is going to change and I won't have that time with them that I have now.
I spend every night and every weekend with Mike and yet I feel like we never see each other. I think it's because there are so many other distractions around. I want to change that by setting more time out to talk and do hobbies together. Less Internet and TV time and more couple time.
The quality time with myself might sound odd but I have hobbies and goals that I personally have been working on and I'd like to achieve them as well. I want to work on carving out that time for myself and being better for me. Fitness had been a priority for me for a long time and I want to continue that and finally achieve my goals of following a weight lifting plan and running a half marathon.
It really is going to be a great year and I'm looking forward to every minute of it!
What do you have planned for next year?

Happy 2016 everyone!!'

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