Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014 + Hello 2015

We are wrapping up 2014. What a crazy year. 

Good things, busy things, happy time spent with family and friends. 

We had huge professional accomplishments and time where family members and friends really helped us move forward. And of course times where we really helped family and friends move forward.

Lots of effort in our home and making the most of now. Of life. Including investing and preparing for our future happiness.

I've noticed since this fall that my days have been full with making decisions and carrying out plans. I love to think things through and weigh each and every possible outcome - any and all options that are available. But for several months now I will push and say "okay, let's go". It feels right. And I believe that this is my season for putting in some work, investing energy to make my home and life be what I want. 

This has supported my selection of my word for 2015 - "do". The feeling I'm craving for 2015 is that I can make a plan and just start. Yes, to take action. What manageable steps can I take to continue shaping my days into continued success and happiness? What can I do to actually carry out the work I need to achieve goals that I have set? I will celebrate the planning and the first step as well as the completion {if and when I am able to do so}. 

Okay, 2015. I've thought things through. I am ready for you. {Oh and thanks for the fun, 2014!}

Wishing You A Happy + Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Goals + Ideas of Growth {From 2012, 2013, 2014}

Love to see my "work in progress"...

My 14 in 2014

First of all, I will live the year with the word "presence" in mind. 

I will also consider the following 14 habits or open-ended goals for the year.

1. Finish {something I've already started}.

2. Read.

3. Experience.

4. Taste.

5. Create.

6. Rest.

7. Travel.

8. Run.

9. Photograph.

10. Enjoy.

11. Write.

12. Save.

13. Appreciate.

14. Start {something new}.

Did you know that I've almost finished my 13 goals of 2013? {I plan to continue my work on this list into the new year}

My 13 in 2013

1. Read 2 books each month {I'm a bit of a book worm these days}

2. Create and follow a financial plan {eliminating debt sounds like a great plan for our future}

3. Continue de-cluttering of our home {I will kick box madness out of our office and garage}

4. Runbikehike or hit the gym four days a week

5. Share 10 tips, recipes, or ideas that consider or assist with my lifestyle choice of cutting out processed & non local foods on the blog {this has been a long quest -and I'm still not quite there}

6. Take the time to travel to a "someday" place or go on a "someday" trip

7Write {write more, write often and not just on the blog}

8Garden {goodness knows that our compost pile is ready - 'grow big & grow at home'}

9. Create a desirable working space in our study

10. Run a registered 5k and continue the family 5k tradition.

11. Share about my choices and plans concerning "simple living" {share 5 tips or ideas indicating intentionality of this lifestyle choice on the blog}

12. Complete a photography challenge

13. Be mindful and creative with support given to friends and family {no matter how far apart we live}

Did you know I achieved 12 personal goals during 2012? Click on links below to read more. 

My 12 in 2012

1. Explore my cooking creativity and post about 10 personal recipes on my blog this year
2. Runhike, bike or hit the gym four days a week
3. Sew an article of clothing that I or someone else will actually wear
4. Make 12 different loaves of bread
5. Paint and decorate our bedroom
6. Register and run a 5K
7. Go on a brew-cation
8. Start and care for a container garden (hopefully not known as a "contained deer buffet")
9. Read and finish one book each month (is it bad that I'm in the middle of 5 books right now? I'm having trouble with reading one at a time)
10. Organize my box madness (this might be my husband's favorite as we have sacrificed a clean "music room" until my boxes are sorted)
11. Draft plans and a working schedule for our "backyard heaven"
12. Host a party at our home

Monday, December 29, 2014

::Pint-Sized Opinions... a link filled post::

I've recently been cleaning up the blog a bit {see changes here}. Thinking about what I want to spend my time documenting when writing and sharing in this space. I may still share a few new "watering holes" when I come across something pretty note worthy... however I've decided to move this collection of posts out of its featured spot.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bookworm: Reads of 2014

This year I enjoyed tons of reading - books + magazines- as well as tons of listening. {This past year I have found several podcasts that I like to listen to while cooking or cleaning around the house.} 

::My List of Reads from 2014::

One Woman Farm by Jenna Woginrich

Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Saved by Ben Hewitt

The Town that Food Saved by Ben Hewitt

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

I've also been enjoying the magazine Taproot for a few years. {It is real love, y'all... I have all the volumes and do a giddy dance at the mailbox when a new issue is delivered!}

Looking forward to some great reads in 2015... what about you, any great books waiting on the shelf?

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Photography Archives

Taking photos has been a hobby of mine for many years. I love photographing beautiful scenery or fun family events.

Family Ties

Cheering for our Favorite Cheerleader

Bowling with my Buddies

Fall 2014 Photos

Birthday Babies

Samantha is 2!

Blake is One!

For the Love of Outside

Lake Michigan Visit

Leaves in the Yard (October 5th Challenge)

Finding Bits of Fall (October 12th Challenge) 

Orange & Fall (October 19th Challenge)

Red Foliage, No Foliage (October 26th Challenge)

Winter Photography: Black (February 1 Challenge)

Winter Photography: White (February 8 Challenge)

Check out some fun shots on my instagram!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

::Fall Photography 2014::

What a beautiful fall Ohio had this year! 
The trees were vivid. The colors that arrived were beyond gorgeous! 

Such a lovely fall to take a few photographs for some friends + family.

As well as a mini self-timer shoot of me and my favorite fella on the family farm...

It is currently white, icy, crunchy + snowy type weather 'round here. I'm already missing those warm fall-colored days... but also so happy for scarf wearing months.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

fullness of september

sigh. oh september! you always know how to fill everyday so full.

i've been...
+trying to get into a routine for school {at least these days i'm not totally fatigued at 2:45 pm}
+watching some live sport events
+wrapping up the summer to do list
+letting those darn tomatoes get the best of my kitchen counter
+not blogging. at all.
+cleaning off porches
+loving time with friends
+preparing some family birthdays
+getting a sister hitched
+sewing my way to a clean craft desk {half finished projects be done!}
+catching up on sleep
+cooking lots of whole food
+dreaming big dreams
+dating my husband after he completed a two-month work project {a project so crazy that he and his co-workers invited the wives to see the finished project because the wives all felt so left out}
+letting the laundry win

the days have been great... wish they weren't getting shorter ;)

happy fall to y'all!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Continuing Debt Elimination {It's just stuff...}

Our family has been paying down our debt in an organized way for about a year and a half. Our basic plan has been this:

- Identify all debt.
- Rank debt in the order we wanted to pay it off.
- Continue making needed payments on all debt, but pay extra money on our highest priority debt.
- Keep on going down the list.
- And keep going... and going {and this is where we are...}

So it has finally happened. I feel like we've really tackled our finances and have made sound decisions with money. I'm starting to see the end of the road. We're going to make it. {For awhile there I felt like we were just going to keep paying forever}

If we want this to happen any quicker our next step would be to find other ways to pay down debt. As in make more money and then use that extra money to pay off our debt.

We've decided that getting rid of stuff/making some cash off of it is probably where its at. We've been simplifying for years. Going slowly - maybe too slowly - and as I get rid of more stuff I'm starting to notice all the signs that it is actually time to sell the things that I've kept to "sell someday". I don't know why this seems difficult, but it does. We have lots of friends who sell items on craigslist. My husband has done a few shed clean outs and sold items on facebook too. I'm sure it isn't difficult. But sometimes I've got that emotional attachment.

We are heading in the right direction - recently our family had a yard sale! As in someone else hosted it and we just drove over with a truckload of stuff that we know could have better homes. And we almost sold everything! When we drove away we just kept saying 'our truck is empty, we're going to have so much more room in the house!'... I think I'm pretty on board with clearing/selling our junk {or should I say 'junque' since hopefully someone else will want it?}.

Need some inspiration on this topic?

Check out this Tedx Talk {link here} with Adam Baker from Man Vs Debt

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An Exceptional Third Wedding Anniversary

Last week we had a lovely celebration of our third wedding anniversary. Things have been busy this summer so we felt it was especially important to take some time for ourselves to celebrate. {Which of course meant lots of good food.} We took some photos by our favorite hiking trail and tree then ran out of town!

We had a super wonderful dinner {excuse us while we eat five courses... yikes!} and stayed the night in an adorable bed and breakfast. 

The next day we visited the Findlay Market in Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Museum Center. We are huge market fans, so we were excited to find out all the fun the Findlay Market schedules for beer tastings and music on Saturdays. Also, the Cincinnati Museum Center was so large we didn't get to see everything! We are planning to go back to visit them both again sometime soon. 

Happy Third Wedding Anniversary to my best everything. 
There is no one else I'd rather take care of when they are sick ;) 
I'm in love with each year that passes and all of our adventures we share.
Here's to many more to come. Xo!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cutting Down on Sugar {Whole 30 Reintroduction}

After our 30 days of eating very clean -following the Whole 30 guidelines {read about our 30 days here and here} we were able to give our systems a chance to see how some of our old favorite foods would make us feel. Basically during this time one type of food is reintroduced then you eat Whole 30 compliant for two days and monitor how you feel - both emotionally and physically.

How it went for us...

Non Gluten Grains: we ate gluten free bread, tortilla chips, and rice

The day of reintroduction: we both felt off pretty much all day - I was dizzy off and on all day and my husband had an upset stomach all day.

The next two days (of eating Whole 30 compliant): I had a hard time getting out of bed and was still a little foggy and my husband was on the mend.

We are going to try a few other gluten free grains - one at a time to see if there are any that we are able to eat without negative effects.

Legumes: we ate black beans, peanut butter, chick peas, and soy milk

The day of reintroduction: we felt great all day - no headaches or stomach discomfort

The next two days (of eating Whole 30 compliant): J felt fine, I noticed that my nose was stuffy and my ears had started popping (which happens to me often, but it went away during the second half of our Whole 30 days - which I didn't notice that specifically until it came back... I just kept noticing my head felt so clear); I also still wasn't back to just hopping out of bed in the morning like I did the final few days of the Whole 30.

Dairy: J already avoids dairy like the plague that it is, so he did not reintroduce... but I ate a bit of cheese on two salads

The day of reintroduction: I felt fine.

The next two days (of eating Whole 30 compliant): I was noticing some strong sugar cravings the next few days. I don't know if this was because of the dairy or just I was ready for something sweet.

Gluten: We both reintroduced gluten. However, most days (for about 18 months prior to Whole 30) I severely limit gluten as I believe that I have a slight sensitivity that manifests in bloat and tingling hands (when I wake in the morning specifically). Both of these sensitivities seemed to have disappeared over the Whole 30 month. For reintroduction - we ate half of a bun on a burger and I had croutons on a salad.

The day of reintroduction: We felt fine.

The next two days (of eating Whole 30 compliant): J was totally normal and pumped to consider eating some gluten again. I felt foggy and my hands were asleep in the mornings. I didn't get the bloat I was expecting though.

*Alcohol: this isn't on the Whole 30 reintroduction schedule but we love to go to the brewery so it was on ours... we drank less than a beer {shared a flight of seven samples between 4 adults}

The day of reintroduction: We were extremely caught off guard by the negative feelings we had that night. Within a few hours of our tasting we were bloated, uncomfortable and in bed about two hours early. The next morning I felt very stiff and tired. Even the following morning I woke up super stiff. We actually did an extra day of Whole 30 prior to evaluating a different food.

Other things I noticed during reintroduction:

*I was either really thirsty for water or very tired of having water during our reintroduction phase. I made lots of iced tea those few days just to have something different that didn't have added sugar or anything else I was currently not reintroducing.

* About a week after the reintroduction schedule I noticed that I was having strong sugar cravings and some mood swings. I am considering trying a Whole15 or a second Whole30 to see if I can shake it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Our Humble Homestead

Some days I just love our little home. Other days it is little, but overwhelming. One thing is for sure - our home can be described easily as "in progress"...

I've written before about how we are big dreamers around this place. We often have a difficult time settling down on what is the best project to tackle next. But lucky for us, all parts of our home are slowly becoming more manageable and more the way we want it - all the time.

Everyday a little bit more like us... in progress but well, happy, and loved. I like that about our home. Whenever we have families visit or friends see our house for the first time they say how they see both of our personalities in our home; how they aren't surprised that this is what our home looks like. I guess it just has character.

I've decided to give myself the opportunity to share some of my favorite spaces of our home on the blog {slowly}. This is something I wouldn't usually share, but I think over time I'd love to see the phases of projects and notice the work we've accomplished {and maybe it would be inspiring to someone else too}. I claim to have very little fashion sense or interior design credentials - but I do find our home to be usable, loved, and cozy.

We've been doing a lot of work around our house the past three years. But recently some bigger projects have taken place. So I'm excited to see some of our visions coming together. We are far from finished, but things are perfectly homey just the same. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cutting Down on Sugar {Whole30 - 30 days complete!}

We've completed 30 days of Whole 30! And wow - we've been feeling pretty great!

After our first half we were really hoping things would start to even out for us. And it did. We continued to eat meals in a timely manner and feel better and better each day.

During days sixteen through twenty-one I was out of town for a conference and I really got bored with my food options. It wasn't too difficult to find things to eat - but sometimes it was just a lot of one type of vegetable and multiple salads per day. My husband was able to cook at home and found several easy recipes that he continued to make for us during the rest of the Whole 30.

Around day twenty-two to day twenty-four we really started noticing consistent energy levels pretty much all day. And at this point I realized I wasn't missing cream nearly as much in my coffee anymore!

On day twenty-five we went to bed late and work up early on day twenty-six; all day we had a terrible time keeping up with activities at hand. Anytime I sat down I was half asleep and I took more than one nap to make it through the day.

My husband and I were a little negative/bored again with our food choices for a couple of days {days twenty-six to twenty-eight}. We felt like we should just move on to the reintroduction program (and start reintroducing gluten, dairy, legumes and non-gluten grains) but we didn't. We decided to stick it out.

But we really felt fantastic on day twenty nine and day thirty! At that point we really noticed how all of our efforts from the last thirty days were working together. We felt well rested (it was even easy to get up in the morning), great energy levels, no major mood swings, no headaches, and we were only hungry when it was actually time to eat.

Our take away from the Whole 30 - if we eat well, and sleep an appropriate amount of time each night we find that we really do feel much better than our daily feelings that were our normal in the past. We are really looking forward to our reintroduction days and see what is the best balance for us.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Humble Homestead: Details on the Front Porch

This past year I've gotten around to decorating our front porch more and more. It makes it fun now that I walk home from work - the first step I take onto our driveway I feel very lucky to have a sweet tiny front porch. It's a great way to welcome myself home.

However, I don't always get to spend much time on decorating the front porch. I'm hoping once some of our bigger (and messier) home improvements are completed I'll have a bit more time for seasonal touches around our home.

So, to take advantage of the bit of time I have here and there - I've made it simple to decorate the front porch with a few specific items that do not change. Then I add or subtract a few details to make it more fun.

I typically hang a burlap wreath {I made something similar to this DIY here}, two small chalkboards {purchased at craft store}, and set out a little cabinet {hand me down from my mother-in-law}.

Then I just add a few seasonal items - pinning fall leaves or holiday looking decor in the folds of the burlap wreath, writing a few words on the chalkboards, and setting out a plant or bowl on top of the little cabinet. I hope to get more inspired as time comes, but it is just enough to make our porch a tad more homey feeling.

I'm in progress on our summer porch. Hopefully I can share it with you soon! {Now, to just get that front flower bed in order...}

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cutting Down on Sugar {Half Way thru the Whole 30}

The other day I mentioned that our family is cutting out sugar. It's true, my husband and I are working our way thru the Whole 30 - day by day.

We are. And it is hard.

Not too hard, in fact some days we think 'why didn't we do this sooner' while other days all we can do is talk about what we want to eat when our 30 days are up.

I like to think that we eat good food, but we also indulge often in sweet and fatty foods. We choose quality ingredients but often the quantity of our servings are oversized as well. The first few days of our elimination diet highlighted how much sugar we usually eat (sometimes added by us and sometimes just added by the food product we buy - our favorite local breakfast sausage contains brown sugar for seasoning and we didn't even notice before).

It was staggering how much sugar we probably consumed on a daily basis. During those first few days we also noticed how we felt almost antisocial when we would turn down desserts or ask friends to go to the coffee shop (iced black coffee is pretty great these days) instead of an evening at our local brewery.  We were surprised that our sugar (along with dairy, gluten, legume) elimination was not just physical but also emotional.

The first few days were difficult. Lots of headaches and lots of cravings. Days four, five and six - my husband and I both woke up as if we were hung over. We were drinking lots of water but at that point our bodies were having a super difficult time adjusting to the foods we were eating. I was especially tired - taking naps and the whole bit on days six and seven.

After the first week things were turning around. We discovered a serious love for sweet potatoes. Our digestive systems were getting used to so many vegetables. However, we were noticing dull stomach aches after meals.

On days eleven and twelve we realized that the dull stomach aches were after meals that we ate quickly. (Usually because we had waited too long to eat.)

Two weeks in and it is easy to stop when we are full and slower eating is becoming the routine.

And that's about it - because we're currently half way thru!

We are hoping by completing the Whole 30 that it will give us some insight into what is "in moderation" for us. And maybe discover what foods we no longer want to eat.

The truth is, we might be some of those sugar-crazed people that actually require more than 30 days to break sugar cravings and habitual sweet eating patterns. But at least we're starting with the 30 days. We'll see what we need to do once we get there.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

{Simply Lovely Sunday Thought} Lately.

Well the school year ended in a flash - and now there is lots going on - at home and school! 
I can't believe we're flying thru June. 

So now I've settled into a summer routine... sleeping in a bit, lots of reading and some work around the house and classroom (let's be honest I'm still at school several days a week ... closing up last school year and already preparing for the fall).

a few fun things going on...

~ I'm learning how to play the ukelele {my current favorite}

~ we are eating sugar free for 30 days {attempting the 'Whole30' to be exact}

~ my pup and I are trying to jumprope. together. at the same time. {If this is ever successful I'm probably going to retire from teaching and enter us in the circus.}

~ taking photos for friends and lots of photo editing

Oh and of course I took a huge break from writing on this blog. Which was actually really nice. And probably very much needed. 

But it is fun to catch up now and then :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

around these parts {things that work}

I feel like I started off this year not seeing eye to eye with the month of January.

 Then things started to move quickly. Even our time that we would set aside to spend at home went by before we knew it. I realized that I needed to figure out how to live with this winter/spring/sometimes summer life that Ohio has been experiencing.

But now, oh my friends, I'm feeling in the groove. It probably helps that we're into our weeks off from school and I'm catching up on all sorts of this and that.

Be prepared, it is totally random...

Little bits of clean up: I've been better about the ten minute clean ups that my schedule allows. And I'll tell you that it really can make the difference in keeping the clutter at bay.

Planning meals: Somehow I got out of the groove of planning meals. I was doing well at the start of the school year - then life got going. Really sitting down and planning some meals has been such a lifesaver when I get home and have little time to throw something together. 

Writing Each Day: I've been saving sometime during the day to do some writing. Some days free writing, other days writing for work, sometimes writing for the blog. It has been a really nice way to start the day - something I've been missing from my schedule since last Spring. 

Quick Crafts: I always feel better when I have an ongoing creative outlet. Whether it is with photography, sewing, creating something for our home it is always going on. The past few weeks I've been knitting dishcloths for the kitchen. These have been a perfect craft for me to spend just a few minutes here or there and still getting somewhere. For gift making I've been really into these super simple baby blankets. They don't take too much time and always end up looking great!

Keeping the TV OFF: I've been really enjoying a few books already this year. And thanks to keeping off the TV and not renting tons of movies recently I've been getting pretty far into some books I had been eyeing. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sew Lovely {Simple Baby Blankets}

Recently I've really enjoyed sewing up a few super simple and sweet baby blankets!

They are the perfect gift with a little book or toy for a favorite little one.

After doing some hunting around online for a few baby blanket tutorials I found this post {from Liz via Momtastic} most helpful. Find some cute + soft fabric, pin away and sew a strong edge to hold it in place.

Honestly, so easy... and all the babies who I sent these out to for Christmas apparently LOVE them and their mommas gave rave reviews... {think of phrases like "can't leave home without" "cuddles with just before nap time" + "so easy to toss in the car on our way to grammies house"}

We all enjoy an easy to do sewing project for babies that we love, right?! I think I'm going to attempt a bigger set for a few toddlers I know :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

::A Quiet March::

Shhh... it's been so quiet around here. 

All month. I guess I took an unplanned break from the blog.
{I've decided to approach this year with more calmness and not to worry about getting to everything all the time. Whatever I'm doing must be important and everything else will have their time to be center stage.} 

Today I felt like writing. So here I am tucked away in our study. Morning light and a few local song birds welcoming the day. Seems like I waited for the perfect moment.

Hope your March has been the happiest! :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

a refreshing stroll

At the end of the work day last Friday I was in no mood. 

No mood for productivity. No mood for thinking. No mood for working late.

I needed to do all of these things. And I was afraid to make the escape I so desperately craved.

The only thing I could think about was being in the sun. Breathing fresh air. Clearing my head.

So I did something about it.

I took a walk. And I had to walk towards town. Because if I walked towards home... I would have curled up on the couch instead of returning to my classroom and finishing my work.

It was the best choice I had made in days. Exactly what I needed. Sun, fresh air, clear head. A walk through town.

So was the coffee drink I ended up purchasing when I was half way done with my walk. 
Exactly what I needed. 

Ok so... a walk through town, with a stop at the coffee shop, then right back to school.
A refreshing stroll... exactly what was needed.

Hope you're having a happy Monday!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Put Up + Away {Canning for a Winter Day}

I love saving summer's produce for winter. 

Seeing beautiful food in my cupboard gives me great joy. 

The work takes time. But it is good work. Important work.

And we always enjoy eating the jams, salsas, ketchups {and etc!} that much more when the weather turns cold.

I've pulled out a few of my favorite canning resources and have been stealing glances at the pages, willing a bit of summer into my mind... these winter days have me missing berry picking and tomato chopping!

Three of my favorite canning books:

Putting Food By  by Greene, Hertzberg and Vaughan

Put 'em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Homemade Living: Preserving & Canning with Ashley English

Some favorite recipes links:

Chunky Salsa

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Dayton Beer Company - in Kettering, Ohio

I will start this off with a small disclaimer. We have gone to the Dayton Beer Company several times now. Each time I left I felt like I wasn't quite getting the full picture. We've enjoyed ourselves there each time, always finding great beer with maybe one of the pints tasting just like my husband's homebrew. With this consistency issue coming up in at least one pint each visit I felt like I couldn't post until I had a better picture of this establishment. I may have to update this as we visit in the future. 

First impression: Surprising. One wouldn't expect a local brewery and tap room to be in a small shopping area next to a gas station and video store. Once you head inside it is has a relaxed feel and we've found it to be a great place to kick off the evening with friends.
Service: Great. Peter is friendly and he works hard. He will talk shop with the customers and recommend brews. We've not been disappointed by his recommended pours.
Prices & Other Notes: The tap room is for adults. With screens for sports watching and brews for drinking, there isn't really anything there to draw attention for all members of mixed age groups. It is perfect for hanging out with friends. 

Food: There is not really food on the Dayton Brewing Company menu. There are snacks (i.e. chips and pretzels and sometimes hot dogs). It is so laid back you can bring in some food if you are starving.

As for the beer:
Honey Cream - not super sweet but very tasty. This was probably my favorite beer that I've ever tasted at The DBC. 

Also if you can't head to The DBC Taproom try out their brews at these locations {click link here}. 

We plan to continue to visit The Dayton Beer Company. We've heard of equipment upgrades and praises about Peter always helping out other local brewers. We like to support that. Even if we might sit thru one brew that isn't exactly our favorite during our visit. My recommendation - ask bartender or the loudest group in the room their favorite beer of the night. You will be happy you did. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Packing Real Food for Days at Work

With my recent return to daily adventures with a classroom of children {a.k.a. full time teaching} I'm so grateful that my husband and I started to figure out last year how to prepare food that he enjoys eating while at work.

Because a while back when I was doing a daily commute that I'm truly embarrassed of, working over time, and barely keeping my head above water we weren't packing lunches. As in, I'd grab a can of soup or a box of crackers to keep at work and munch when possible and he would go out to lunch daily. Sounds unhealthy and expensive... well, we've made it a priority to figure this out and now we have a the skeletons of a system to pack appropriate meals for the two of us and our work days. I thought I'd share in case it gave some new ideas to some families while packing.

-Breakfasts & Morning Snacks
At the beginning of the school year we made smoothies, muffins, and breakfast bakes to eat in the morning - whether we eat this at home or take to work. This meant some preparations over the summer. We hit up a few you-pick berry farms and froze berries, chopped super ripe bananas. I try to keep coconut milk on hand.

Recently we've been making containers of already prepared veggies and cooked bulk sausage to throw together a quick breakfast right before we head out the door.

When I have an extra few minutes and nothing else prepared I find that fruit and oatmeal is great too. Oatmeal isn't my husband's favorite, so he prefers something with a little more protein or a little more jam {toast is just the vehicle for jam, right?!}.

-Lunches & Afternoon Snacks
We typically pack our left overs from dinner for several of our lunches each week. Other days we might make a sandwich or a super tasty salad. I round everything out with fresh fruit, trail mix, no-bake energy bites {we love this recipe from Ali with Gimme Some Oven}, or other easy prep seasonal side dishes {i.e. different types of potato salads, black beans & brown rice, cucumber/tomato salads, fresh salsa & tortilla chips, quinoa based sides}. Many of these items I can prepare one evening at the beginning of the week or over the weekend so we're ready to go on Monday. Sometimes I make a big pot of soup or chili on Sunday that will only be eaten for lunches that week. And to save time in the mornings I scoop up lunch sized containers when it is finished cooking {less things to do in the morning - hooray!}. Then the only thing left to do is gather all the goodies into our lunch bags!

Need a few reasons to pack your lunch? We realized that when packing our lunch we save money - at least $30 to $40 a week. We typically enjoy the food that we are eating more than what we might pick up at a deli. We also found that we created less food waste since we would eat the food we cook (just because it was so convenient since we already spent the time to pack it up).

Need more inspiration? Check out this link of lunch prep tips and recipes from Lisa at the 100 Days of Real Food blog:

10 Recipes to Freeze for School Lunches

Monday, January 27, 2014

around these parts {indoors}...

Oh my. This winter. 

Can I get a "don't you know it, sister!" or maybe a "put a dry log on the fire"?

I love the winter for spending time indoors. Something cozy, calming, like...

making spaces, curling up with a great book

knitting and crafting

movie watching and wine drinking

game nights with cocoa

But really, I could take a few degrees warmer. Just enough for a quick hike with my cabin-fevered pup. Or a longer than five minute outdoor recess at school.

The great thing is, these sub zero temperatures really do limit us to the indoors for creating, organizing and cleaning {we've recently created some awesome closet storage!}. But sometimes I'm just too cold+tired to get my butt out from under a quilt to really get to anything. I think it has to do with the cabin-fevered children I hang out with all day {outside energy + outside volume = rainbow looms, clay work, watercolors, and marathon reading for my elementary kiddos... with the occasional run around the playground because the winds have died down - I mean, we're talking stilt-walking-down-the-halls-stir-crazy folks}

But lets consider the positive, shall we?

The afternoon warmed up a few degrees yesterday. We took advantage of it and made an awesomely tall snowman. Other than the fact he scared me and my pup this morning when we went outside we think he is pretty dapper. 

Hope your week is wonderfully happy!