Wednesday, May 30, 2012

You Asked: Weekly Menu Sample

You asked for it, I'm delivering.

But it's still a work in progress.

Awhile back I wrote about meal planning and grocery shopping. I mentioned we spend around $50-60 a week on groceries. I had several responses asking for sample menus and recipes that fit in that price range. I compiled some things together and came up with a one week sample. It's a rough estimate and pricing will largely depend on what you have on hand, what brand you buy, and what your local grocery rates are.

Without further ado, here is a one week sample. Click on the links to go to my cooking blog (which hasn't been updated in over a year, until now) to find the recipes.

These estimates are based on my family size: 2 adults, one small child. Meal = one serving for each of us. Two meals would be enough for my family to have dinner and lunch the next day.

1. Scrambled eggs - appx. $2.00 for 2 people
2. Whole wheat waffles - approx. $2.00 for 4-6 people (if you have wheat flour on hand)
3. Steel cut oats - approx. $2.00 for 4-6 people
4. Cold cereal - approx. $1.50 for 2 people (depending on cereal)

The waffles and oatmeal will carry over for two breakfasts if you have 2 adults and 2 kids.
Total: approx. $7.50

1. Spicy Veggie Wraps - approx. $5 for 4 servings (2 meals)
2. Lasagna - approx. $12 for 2 pans, (3 meals plus extra pan in freezer)
3. Mexi-Quinoa Salad - approx. $3 for 2 meals
4. BBQ Chicken Salad - approx. $6 for at least 2 meals
5. Asian Chicken - approx. $4 for 2 meals

Total: approx. $30, for about 11 meals, plus a pan of lasagna for the freezer.

Side items (per meal)
1. Lettuce for salad: $1.00
2. Broccoli (aldi): $1.25
3. Grapes: $1.50/lb
4. Rice: $1.00
5. Strawberries: $2.50/lb ($1.25 for one meal)

Total: approx. $6.00

Grand Total: approx. $43.50 for one week, including an extra pan of lasagna in the freezer!

I will once again reiterate, these are very rough estimates! I did not go through my grocery bills and see how much I actually spent. Nor did I calculate the cost of one bag of tortillas divided up according to how much was used in that recipe. None of these numbers are exact. None of these numbers reflect any snacks, treats, extras, or replenishing basics, and most of them are based off of having basic ingredients at home: flour, wheat flour, spices, canned goods, etc. (In reality, I might actually be way off, but I'm going to pretend I'm not)

I also don't plan very many lunches. We are huge on leftovers at our house (don't worry, it wasn't always that way!), so I plan big enough dinners that we'll have lunch for the following day. It usually works out, but once in awhile I'll do something like grilled cheese, mac n cheese, meat sandwiches, pbj, etc for lunch. I don't really add those things in because I usually already have that food on hand.

In the future I may try to calculate a more exact number to get a precise amount of money spent on food, but for me for now, this is good enough.

**I usually buy groceries at Aldi, Costco, Walmart, or Schnucks. I also usually buy off brands of most things unless they are on sale.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"So you're a runner, too?"

I have never claimed to be a runner.
I don't really think of myself as one.
However, there may be changes in the breeze.

I ran my first 5k on Memorial Day. I honestly have never run an organized 5k in my life. I've done it while training, but never as a race. I woke up a little jittery and nervous the morning of. I thought I was completely prepared for what was ahead and kept telling myself "don't be worried, this is nothing. You run 3 miles nearly every day, you'll be fine."

Just before the race was set to begin, I strapped on and plugged in my ipod to get it started. Dead. Not one drop of battery. Hurdle number 1.
My dear hubby was so kind and gave me his, insisting that he would be fine without music. I, on the other hand, cannot run without music. (though I've never tried)
We lined up and heard "On your mark, get set, go!" and the race began. I was right out in front, lined up with my hubby, and watched him shoot off like a bullet. Being the competitive girl I am, shot off much faster than I should have. Hurdle number 2.
The race started at 8:30 am. It was a balmy 80 degrees (or more) with 50% humidity making it feel like 85. In English, for runners, this means really, really, hot! The hottest I've run in while training is 72. Hurdle number 3.
As I was running along, listening to music, I realized that hubby's playlist was not exactly pump up and needs to be updated. Badly. Hurdle number 4.
I also realized that the shorts combo I was wearing, spanx shorts and soccer shorts, was not an ideal combo for running as they kept riding up. Hurdle number 5.

By the time we came to the last long stretch of road before the finish line, I was feeling a bit wasted since I had started so fast with no warm up. My legs felt about 100 pounds each. My head and chest and arms were aching. I felt like vomiting. All I wanted was some shade and water. I was *this close* to walking, but as I rounded the corner I saw my two boys watching and cheering for me. No way could I walk now! I straggled up to the finish line and realized why runners always stop right after crossing and keel over with their hands on their knees. It feels very apropos.

I checked my watch and realized I finished in 29 minutes. After contemplating that for awhile, I thought it was actually wrong and perhaps I finished in 28 minutes. I thought it to be nearly impossible, considering how slow I felt I was going, and the suffocating heat, so I went to the official time sheet.


That, my friends, is a 9.06 minute mile!
I've never run that fast in my life.
And considering all the unexpected hurdles I had pop up, I feel pretty dang good about that!

My favorite comment of the day came from someone that saw me work as a choreographer for their ward. She simply said: "So you're a runner, too!?" with a look of awe.

That made my day. What a boost of confidence. What a great day!
I'm only just a little proud of myself. Especially considering I've been consistently running for about 2.5 weeks.

Pre-race family picture

Post race. A little hot and sweaty.

Post race with a close friend of mine from our ward.

Two of my close friends and fellow Logan wives.

Me running.
I took it from someone who posted it on facebook. Thanks!

And again.

My hubby said it best when he said: "I love running outside because it makes me feel alive."
Amen, baby, amen!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


W.W.W. aka "Whole Wheat Waffles"

This is what we had for breakfast.

When I was young, almost every Spring Break we would jump in the car and make the 16 hour drive from Kansas City to Utah to visit our family. We would always stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house (for at least the majority of the trip). One of my absolute favorite memories was waking up to the smell of waffles. But these were not just any waffles, they were Grandpa made and kid approved. They were also whole wheat.

To this day I'm still not exactly sure what he did to the batter to make them taste so. darn. good. But he did something. And let me tell you, I've never tasted a better whole wheat waffle in my life than Grandpa's. I've also tried to recreate them many times. All failing.

When he served those waffles, they came piping hot off the pan, dished up with lots of butter, hot syrup, bacon, eggs, orange juice, and whatever else you could possibly imagine for breakfast. Breakfast at Grandpa's is still a very special treat, and something me and my siblings all look forward to when we visit!

Today I made some w.w.w. They didn't turn out nearly as good as Grandpa's. But, they were from scratch, and they were altered from a recipe, and turned out yummy the first try. I didn't want to forget what I did, and I wanted to share it with you, because nothing says awesome like a breakfast you can feel good about (that tastes good too!).

Whole Wheat Waffles 
(K's version)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat
1/2 cup white flour
2 TBL. brown sugar, packed
1 TBL. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten,
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 + 1/8 cup applesauce**
1/8 cup cooking oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients separately. Add the wet into the dry and stir JUST until it's moistened. The batter will be quite lumpy. Pour onto a waffle grid and cook according to grid directions. 

**With the applesauce/oil, it called for a 1/2 cup oil but instead I filled a 1/2 cup about three quarters of the way full with apple sauce, then topped it off with the oil. So I'm not sure of exact measurements. You couldn't even taste the applesauce, and they turned out nice and moist!

These took about 5 minutes to throw together, all with ingredients I had on hand. Try them. They're yummy! And I felt great about having a healthy breakfast. 

Happy Saturday everyone! Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. I'll be running a 5k on Monday and I can't wait! Especially after running 4 miles at 10 minutes per mile this morning. Small victories, people, that's what it's about!!

Now to go clean up the mess of Bubs "cooking" in the dogs food and water bowl. Oy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dream, crash, picture

I had a dream about an ex-boyfriend last night.

No, not like a weird, lovey, dream.
I'm not like that.

It was more of a "I woke up and felt empowered because he was a jerk" dream.

This is how it went:

I was at church (yes, odd), and he came up and said hi and started to chat. Near the end of the conversation he said something like "I heard you're planning on running a 5k tomorrow." Which I responded "Yes, and actually I'll be running a 5k, a 10k, and a 1/2 marathon by the end of the year."
him: "Oh, really? Don't do it."
me: "What? Why not?"
"Because you can't."
(with a glare in my eye) "You should know me well enough to know that when people tell me I can't, guess what I tell them? Watch me."

Then I stormed off and woke up, feeling extremely empowered.
Why? Because I love it when people tell me I can't do something. I love proving them wrong. So I got up and ran 3 miles. And it felt great. Amazing actually.

Running is really very addictive.

In other news, remember when I posted this update on my facebook?: "Today I'm grateful for resilient children, immediate openings at the doctor's office, and priesthood blessings. Today was just the beginning of what I'm sure to be in the future are many, many, visits to the doctor for injuries. Just glad it wasn't the ER today!" 

I thought I would clarify a little, just because. My dear son decided to take a nose dive front flip head first out of a shopping cart at Aldi. It was really Actually, mostly incredibly embarrassing and very scary. Thankfully, his forehead hit the bottom rack of the cart before he flipped on his back and landed on the floor. If the bottom rack hadn't broken his fall, it might have been much worse. Of course a goose egg puffed up right away, and he screamed bloody murder for a couple minutes. About 10 people decided they needed to tell me to take him to a doctor. Actually, more like "take him to the emergency room, RIGHT NOW!" That was really annoying because I felt like they shouldn't be telling me what to do with my baby, and I'm not stupid enough to not get him checked out after a fall like that. 

Thankfully on the way to the doctor, whose office is in a hospital, I remembered that my brother in law was working at the same hospital. I called him up and he met me to give Bubs a blessing before the doc checked him out. We got a clean bill of health when we left with instructions to call if anything out of the normal happened. Which it didn't. It was a very eventful day. 

I had a hard time getting a good picture of it...

the scab above the big, puffy, bruise, was from a previous bonk.

And because I feel like I never post pictures of myself, here's what I look like today, right now, as I'm typing.

Happy Hump Day everyone! 
The weekend is soon upon us.
And school officially ends today! 
(but not for my hubby, for the local schools)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why I NEED to Run

Why I NEED to Run
...or so i think

To stay in shape
 To have a hobby
To do something for me
To re-define myself
To escape
To set and achieve unlikely goals
Because I really, really, like to eat

 Because I can.

We were cleaning out Dad's house not too long ago, and I came across a pile of old running magazines.
By old, I mean a few months or a year old.
I confiscated them and began feasting. 
I figured, hey, I bought new running shoes, clothes, and head bands, I might as well read about it.

I found two articles that hit me hard. To the core.

The first was a story from a husband about his wife. She had seen him running every day for years and one day said she wanted to start running and asked for tips. 
He said: 
"First, you'll have to make yourself a priority. Get up and run, first, before somebody comes up with something they think is more important for you to do."

Ding-a-ling! Any moms out there that can relate? Everything we do is for someone else! Our hubby, our kids, our neighbors, our family. I know I can relate. 

He went on to state a bunch of great tips, and ended with this quote: 
"Now that I think about it, becoming a runner requires your to change just about everything about your life." 

I could use some positive changes in my life. I could use a hobby. I could use a more healthy lifestyle.

The second article hit home even more than the first. This time it was a woman sharing her story about how running saved her when one of her children was born with a serious bleeding disorder. She started running to cope with the stress, pain, and sadness. Also so she could cry without upsetting her family. At the end of her story, she said: 

"Running is the only thing I have that's mine. To go sweat, breathe, cry in the rain, and scream or sing in the woods is why I love running."

And now, I will run.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kansas City LDS Temple Dedication

Because of our recent "escape from life" road trip, I had the unique and wonderful opportunity to time our arrival back in Kansas City perfectly.

We were in town for the Kansas City LDS Temple Dedication.

I got to go.
It was so surreal.

Mom and I went to the 12:00 session on Sunday, May 6, 2012.
It was glorious.

Everything I needed to hear and feel at that point in my life.
There was so much emphasis on eternal marriage, families, covenants, temple attendance, and enduring trials.
All of it rang true deep in my heart.
Especially when Elder Holland was quoted as saying: "When I think of heaven, it wouldn't be heaven without my wife and children." 
His talk was my favorite. He spoke of trials, personal revelation, and the concept that faith will always prevail, as long as we endure, put our trust in God, and remember that He is there.
I hope to find a copy of that talk.

5 years ago I never imagined I would be able to attend an open house tour and dedication of a temple just 40 minutes away from home in the near future.
It fills my heart with joy when I think about the reality of the temple now.
I came away from the session with a renewed sense of hope, strength, and reminder of what is right.
I am thrilled at the prospect of attending that temple when I am in town.
For now, I need to remember the eternal importance of temple attendance and utilize the present blessing we have of a temple 15 minutes away.

Kansas City Missouri Mormon Temple

I also just came across this beautiful and inspiring article about the Cultural Celebration the night before. Check it out. If anyone knows where I can find a video recording of the celebration so I can see it, please share!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

F.A.S.T. Food & Vacay

A couple months ago I created an Acronym/Nomenclature for "Fast" Food.

F. Fattening
A. Addictive
S. Spendy
T. Tainted


On our vacation to run away and escape the stress of the world, we had ample opportunity to test this acronym. I found it to be quite true.

This should be common knowledge that fast food is fattening! Have you ever looked at the nutrition facts for a burger from Mcdonald's?? A Big Mac has 29 grams of fat. 10 of which are saturated. I feel queasy thinking about it...not too mention french fries.
Fattening I know to be true because I think I gained about 3 pounds on our trip. That means I consumed at least 10,500 more calories than my body needs. Oy.

What happened here surprised me. The more we ate out (which was far too often), the more I would sit at home trying to think of a meal to cook before eventually feel like nothing sounded good. Healthy, home cooked meals lost some appeal, especially when I thought of the effort to produce them.
However, in contrast to that, by the time we were ordering dinner at BK on our way home from Utah, I wanted nothing more than a green smoothie and some grilled chicken.
The flavor, ingredients, and convenience of fast food are addictive. Click here.

In 7 days, we spent: $120.26 on fast food (including Chili's and Texas Roadhouse).
That comes out to be an average of $17.18 a day.
I think I just had a heart attack.
That's not including the meals that were paid for us by others.
That's not including the money we spent on a few items to cook at my sister's.
Typically, when we make meals at home, we spend about $50-60 a week, including snacks, desserts, main meals, side dishes, etc. Sometimes that amount rises when we restock the basics. But, in all reality, most of our dinners cost around $5-10 and we have leftovers for at least one or two more meals.
So yes, eating out at fast food, or restaurants in general, is very, very, costly! I challenge you to add up your fast food bills (including pizza, sit down dinners, and drive thru), for the month and see how much you spend.

**If you survive solely on the dollar menu at your favorite burger joint, I can see how it could be cheaper. But, you're paying a buck for some fat and salt with no fruits and veggies. It's a give-take. Spend a little extra on good for you food, or go cheap now and risk spending more in medical bills years down the road?

This one makes me sick to my stomach when I think it through.
Have you ever heard of "Mechanically separated meat"?

Read this article.
In addition to this form of "meat," many restaurants add excess amounts of sodium and other additives to help the food taste better. I don't really want to do too much research on this because I don't feel like throwing up right now. Just know that it is common knowledge that fast food is loaded with all sorts of wrong calories.

So, once again, from the words of K, fast food is really "Fattening Addictive Spendy Tainted Food."

Now that that's off my chest...

Our vacation was lovely.
We thoroughly enjoyed some much needed R&R.
We thoroughly enjoyed some much needed family time.
We thoroughly enjoyed eating Costa Vida, J.Dawg's, Texas Roadhouse, and Chili's.
Sometimes it's good to forgo the cooking, abandon responsibility, and live on the wild side.
Just know that I think it gets old after about a week. :-)

In 14.5 days
More than 3,000 miles
More than 43 hours in the car (with a baby and puppy, in a Mazda 3)

It feels good to be home.
It feels good to cook again.
It feels good to sleep in my own bed.
It feels good to be back in a routine.
It feels good to leave Utah knowing that it won't be too long before we're back on that side of the country again. For good.

Friday, May 4, 2012

All Things Provo

I love Utah.

This has not been an instant love.
Nor has it been an easily acquired love.
No, in fact, I used to loathe Utah. For quite awhile.

However, now that I have lived in Provo, moved away, returned to visit, went back home, and returned to visit again, I have come to the realization that I really do love Utah.

I love the distinct smell of dry, mountain, air.
I love the nostalgia of walking around BYU campus.
I love eating my favorite "Utah food": Costa Vida, J.Dawgs, Kneader's french toast, and kong cones at Macey's.
I love the hot, sunny, days, and cool, refreshing nights.
Most of all, I love being so close to so much family, and a few friends, too!

With every list of loves, there's always a list of quirks.
This trip has proved to be especially quirky:

1. Utah Drivers. Ugh.
By Utah Drivers I really mean: all-the-college-students-from-all-over-the country-drivers.
I forgot how much people out here seem to enjoy: cutting other cars off, zooming into the suicide lane (or traffic flow) and barely missing getting hit, running very very yellow (ehm, red!) lights, driving ridiculously slow when we want to go fast, and any other manner of frustrating, annoying, forms of driving to other drivers.
2. All the college students grocery shopping at Macey's: single girls with roommates, single kids in general, dating couples, newlyweds, etc. They're all cute and remind me of those single days.
3. Hearing: "Yeah, I'm first counselor in Relief Society" from the cashier at Panda Express.
4. Construction. Everywhere. Ugh.
5. Pedestrians with a death wish. Seriously. We've almost hit people about 3 different times due to them jumping out in front of our car without really looking. Come on, people, don't you remember Kindergarten? "When you get to the road, stop, look both ways, then cross." Not. That. Hard. Might save your life too, just sayin'.

And of course, this:

Aside from the quirks, which are really quite laughable, it has been a very fun and relaxing vacation.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shellac, Skinnies, and Cupcakes

This new blogger layout is throwing me off just a little bit...

I experienced a variety of new things last week.
For starters, I bought a pair of skinny jeans.

You can pick your chin up now.
Actually, I bought TWO pairs of skinny jeans.
Who am I??

I know, I know. I have been cursing skinny jeans for years. I have thought they are unflatteringly unattractive. I have said and thought, "nobody looks good in skinny jeans" more times that I can remember. Worse than that, I have said and thought "I could never wear skinny jeans. My thighs are too big." about 5,678 times. My friends could quote me as saying such. And what was their response? "Whatever! You totally could wear them!"

Then one day I decided, what the heck? What do I have to lose? They don't seem to be going out of style anytime soon. Why not?

So I tried some on. The first pair fit.
Then the second pair fit.
Then fifteen more pairs after that.
I wish Mr. Man had a camera in my face when I saw myself in the first pair. Honestly, I'm not sure if I was more shocked at the way they actually looked good on me, or the fact that Mr. Man was practically begging me to buy them.

And I quote: (inside the dressing room at Loft, after trying on skinnies in the previous store) "You look good, but you're still young and I want my wife looking sexy wearing skinny jeans."

I went out of town with my YW for a short temple trip, and when I got home, Mr. Man had a surprise: a bright red pair of skinnies from Target (you know which ones I'm talking about!). Quote: "We are not taking these back. Either you'll keep them and never wear them, or you'll figure out how to do what you need to so you will wear them." 

Note: These pants were just a wee bit tight, thus producing an "I'm not sure" attitude. However, you must understand something about our relationship: The quote was said in a very loving, affectionate manner. In fact, it was quite inspirational and motivating to me.

Plus, they were on clearance. Red was cute, but bright green is more my style. After a few calls to local stores, we tracked down the last remaining bright green pair in my size, exchanged them, and my day was made.

Now, because I'm freakin' awesome and figured out how to email phone pics of myself to myself, here's a sample of what I look like. Note: these are not the green skinnies ;-)

Someday I'll figure out a better, more flattering way to pose.

After wearing these a couple times, I actually feel like I look cute. And they are pretty comfy too. 
The verdict? I approve of skinny jeans. 
I'm also stubborn. But didn't you already know that?


Anybody ever had a Shellac/gel manicure? It rocks my world. More so than acrylic tips. Which I thought were the bomb. 
My nails are short, stubby, and so not cute. 
Plus, I bite them all. the. freakin. time. 
After this manicure, my nails look so cute, so shiny, not short, not stubby, and not bitten. 
Bonus? The polish has yet to chip and it's been a week! Score! 
Please try it some day. It is amazing.


My sister got married on Thursday night. The weather was perfect for the ceremony and the decor was beautiful. Unfortunately, the outdoor reception on Friday had to be moved indoors due to wind and rain. But, there were cupcakes. 
Glorious, beautiful, scrumdiddlyumptious cupcakes. 
For my birthday. 
And by my birthday, I mean, for her reception, which was on my birthday. 
The chocolate, salted caramel was my favorite.
I have no pictures from the wedding because:
a. I was otherwise occupied with a child
b. I suck at taking pictures
c. They had a very talented professional photographer there.

Now we're here:
and loving every. single. second. 
Taking a break from life can be so, utterly, therapeutic.