Home Sweet Home

Happy New Year! I seriously love this holiday because it’s the perfect reason to set new goals for yourself. Although I don’t have a “resolution” this year, I am excited to focus more closely on my health. Instead of limiting things that are “bad” (for example: no sugar, no alcohol, no fun), I’m going to focus on adding more of the good stuff (for example: more veggies, more friends, more laughter).

Also, this year we bought our first home! We are so excited to set up shop and start building memories here. Boy, has it been a process, though.

Here’s the CliffsNotes version of how it went down. Kevin text me a link saying he liked the house. I also liked it. We wanted to take a look even though we didn’t really want to break our lease early ($$$$$$$). We met our realtor at the house that night, came back once more, and decided to make an offer. The next day, they accepted. We popped champagne. The place was ours on the 16th of December. We planned to slap on some paint and move in by Christmas. Perfect!

But this sweet little house needed much more love than we planned on. We loved the layout of the house, the fireplace, the basement and yard, but we knew it needed some paint and a few other upgrades. What we didn’t know was the walls would need 2 coats of paint, the cabinets and trim would need 2 coats (sometimes 3) of paint, that literally every baseboard and window/door trim needed caulk, and that the carpet would need to be replaced IMMEDIATELY instead of down the road.

We are so incredibly thankful that our friend has a paint sprayer and lots of painting experience. We for sure wouldn’t have been able to do all this without him. Fast forward two weeks and we’re all moved into the house! It’s been a whirlwind! But it’s so much better already and it’s ours 🙂

We still have so much to do, but it’s a work in progress. It’s hard for me because I don’t like to start a job and not finish it. I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that we’ll have to work on this place a little a time. In the meantime, we can look at gray walls with white trim and pretty white cabinets instead of oak, orange, red, and more oak. Yes, please.

Here are some before and after pictures:

{The kitchen}

{Entry}

{Dining room}


{Fireplace}


I’ll definitely post more as we make our way through our to do list(s), but wanted to share some of the work we’ve done! At this time, we’re taking a little break from painting, unpacking, and decorating. We’re enjoying a little R&R on this Sunday afternoon. I’m off to take Chief for a snowy walk. Have a great week!

 

Operation Vegan-ish

Hello there! Anyone else still stuffed from Thanksgiving? Holy cow (more on cows shortly). We had a LOVELY Thanksgiving with my family in Colorado Springs and were able to make it back to KC in time to rest and relax before school started again. My mom was here, too! So nice! Ugh, I hate goodbyes 😦

Now that Kevin and I are getting back into the groove of things, we’re actually trying something new right now. NO DAIRY and NO MEAT. Whoa. So, I actually did the whole vegan thing in my early 20’s after watching a documentary, and it was great, but I just started craving meat again…so, I started eating meat again. Also, at the time I was eating quite a bit of tofu and other soy products. My stomach was not on board. Yuck. The goal this time is to load up on allllllll the veggies (okay, not the ones I know I can’t tolerate).

Kevin had his students watch Food Choices and ended up pretty motivated to change by it. Then, he showed me. It’s the same type of documentary that sparked my journey last time. Animal cruelty makes me cry. Seriously so sad. They also talk a lot about how you don’t actually need as much protein as everyone says, and that meat is just NOT fueling our bodies the way we think it is.

Needless to say, I was moved by this documentary. I don’t like labeling diets, and restricting food groups. However, I really do believe my body would benefit from less meat and dairy and more veggies. Here’s the deal- I don’t know. I mean, obviously. I’m a 4th grade teacher, not a food scientist or nutritionist. Maybe food scientists and nutritionist don’t even know.

What I DO know is:

1. Veggies and fruit ARE good for you.

2. Kevin is definitely lactose intolerant and dairy definitely doesn’t make me feel great.

3. Whenever I eat a burger, it’s lettuce wrapped or over lettuce, and then my stomach hurts.

4. Most of the time, I’m grossed out by meat. But I love carnitas. And BBQ.

I have tried low FODMAPS, the Elimination Diet, Paleo, eating everything without restriction, etc. etc. ALL in search of a sustainable diet that makes me feel good. There is no consistency in what makes me feel great, or awful, so we’re going to give this a try.

With that being said, we’re going to be flexible. If we want it, we will not deny KC BBQ at a tailgate, or chocolate during a movie night, but we want to make most of our diet veggies, fruit, nuts/seeds and grains that I can tolerate (oats and rice).

So, in light of our new veggie and overall health goals, I wanted to share with you some fun vegetarian recipes and DOPE workouts that will make you sweat in no time.

Here are some recipes I want to try, or have already tried, this week:

Red Thai Curry: I subbed sweet potato noodles for zoodles, green beans for snow peas, and I eliminated cauliflower and broccoli (I love them but they KILL me). I threw in some leftover roasted sweet potato and spinach at the end of the cooking process. SO GOOD!

Vegan Alfredo: Going to pour this over zoodles tomorrow night and give Kevin some gluten free macaroni with it. Yum!

Veggie Pho: I love Kimberly Snyder! And I love Pho! So, this is on my to do list.

And now some workouts I’m digging this week:

TIU Kettle Booty: This one burns so, so, good. I did it today and added an ab circuit afterwards. I can feel it already.

TIU Insane Cardio: I’ll be doing this one tomorrow morning since it’s FREEZING and I’m too much of a wimp to run outside.

HIIT: I took a couple of screen shots of this workout and took it to the gym. I made a couple of tweaks to this thought. First, I jumped rope instead of jumping jacks. Second, I actually did this two times through with as little rest as possible between moves. It’s called HIIT for a reason!

Protein Bites

Hey, hey! I’m about to head into the kitchen to make some stuffing for Friendsgiving tonight (using this recipe). So excited! I love trying new recipes. It’s actually going to be the first time I’ve ever made stuffing (I think). It can’t be that hard, though, right? I’ll let you know how it goes.

I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving! A couple weeks ago Kevin forced me to answer what my favorite holiday was between Christmas and Thanksgiving and I only had like, 3 seconds to answer. I blurted out Thanksgiving, which surprised ME even. Because I LOVE Christmas. I just love food so much, and I love family, and I love football. It all comes together on Thanksgiving and what can be better than that?

Okay, enough with Thanksgiving. Onto protein balls. Which I’ve actually renamed protein bites, because…well it’s just more flattering. My humble opinion.

These are yummy! I personally like them with almond butter, but I think Kevin prefers peanut butter. You can use cashew butter even! Yum! A lot of the energy bites you see have dates in them and I can’t tolerate dates. They hurt my stomach if I have more than one.

The consistency will change depending on how runny your nut butter is. Adjust the oats and/or nut butter by a tablespoon at a time until the consistency works for you. Have fun with it and taste test along the way.

I like these as a mid-afternoon treat, post workout, or just when I’m on the go and need something healthy and quick.

Chocolate Chip Protein Bites

3/4 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup almond butter

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 scoop protein powder (I used Sunwarrior vanilla)

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

2-3 T. shredded coconut (more for dusting at the end)

Directions: Throw everything into the food processor. Pulse until it all comes together into a big ball. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Use a tablespoon to roll the dough into perfectly sized bites. Roll in extra shredded coconut. Place on plate. Repeat. Then, refrigerate for up to a week. I like to put them into a ziplock and freeze them. They last about 2-3 months that way, and taste great frozen! I eat them straight out of the freezer. Or, I pop them into our lunches and they’re perfectly defrosted at lunch time.

Enjoy!

 

Brunch

Breakfast has been and always will be my favorite meal of the day. There are SO many options and they’re all so darn delicious. What’s even better than breakfast?

BRUNCH! Waiting a little while longer to eat, knocking out two meals in one, is straight up genius. Who invented brunch anyways? At home. At a restaurant. With your boo. With friends. WIth family. By yourself. It’s always going to be special meal.

These are some of my favorite tried and true options. Choose one, or two (or three) and have a little brunch feast with your friends or family!

Don’t forget to add a side of seasonal fruit if you can. It makes the table pop and adds a dose of healthy antioxidants.

Buon Appetito!

Baked Goods:

Cinnabon Copy Cat

Blueberry Muffins

From the Griddle:

Swedish Pancakes

Buttermilk Waffles

Eggs:

Caprese Frittata

Asparagus Frittata

Avocado Toast

Breakfast Taquitos

Bacon:

This is the only way you should be cooking bacon.

Workout Wednesday

Hey there! Hope you’re having a fantastic HUMP DAY! I can’t believe how fast the days fly by. With that being said, Kevin and I are really looking forward to our Thanksgiving break. It’s definitely one of the perks of being teachers together. He’s all done with football, too, so that’s been nice.

When it’s cold and dark in the mornings here, boy is it tough to roll out of bed for a workout. I always feel better when I do, though. I try to keep that in mind at 5am.

I wanted to share a couple of workout links I’ve been loving and also a couple of workouts I made up on the fly and wanted to share.

Put on some new music tomorrow and get after it!

Insane Cardio: I really haven’t been in the mood for steady state runs lately, so I’ve been doing more cardio on the treadmill. This one is challenging, but manageable and the intervals change often so I’m never bored. I love these girls. They have a ton of free workouts on their website, so definitely check it out. Some are short and sweet and others really kick my butt.

Weights: This is a really great gym routine that I’ve been adding back to my workout lists lately. I tried to do the whole 6 week program, but I got bored. It’s the same routine the whole time (lame). However, I like to add it in once or twice a week when I’m really feeling like lifting.

So, like I said, it’s been hard to stay motivated in the dark and cold mornings. One thing that has helped me stick with it lately is creating my own workouts based on what I’m feeling for the day.

Last time my future sister in law was out here (hey, Kam!), she just threw together a circuit for us no problem. It was challenging, quick to plan, and fun (probably because she was there to do it with me).

It was cool to see how easy it can be to throw together a circuit. She’s an expert and needs to be a personal trainer, but it definitely inspired me to get creative in my gym routine.

Here are a couple of the routines I’ve put together.

Workout 1

200 meter run

20 dead lifts

20 squat jumps

12 lunge chop (each side)

repeat 2-3x

30 russian twists

24 reverse crunch

20 bench jumps

repeat 2-3x

Workout 2

200 meter run

20 squat and press

20 walking, single arm, OH dumbbell lunges (switch arms halfway)

12 single leg dead lift 

repeat 2-3x

30 oblique plank

24 in and outs

20 burpees

repeat 2-3x

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Face Scrub

This is a facial scrub you can literally eat! It’s so easy and you probably already have the ingredients in your cupboards.

Oatmeal is a calming agent for your skin, so it helps with irritation and redness. The brown sugar simply acts as a gentle exfoliant (although an esthetician once told me that it’s got all kinds of vitamins and what not that your skin will love…I don’t know the science, though).

You can also add a little honey to your scrub right before massaging into your skin! Honey is a natural antibiotic and it’s super hydrating.

This stuff seriously makes your skin so soft- I love it! I think you will, too!

Now go treat yo’ self to a little face massage, girl. Or boy.

 

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Face Scrub

1/3 cup oatmeal (ground, but super fine)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. honey (optional)

Direction: Grind oatmeal (instant or whole grain is fine) and then mix with the brown sugar. Store in an airtight container. I usually use about 1 tablespoon of the scrub 1-2 times per week. You can add the honey before you apply to your face, or you can skip. I’ve done both ways and they both leave your skin super soft.

Recipe Round Up

Hello! It’s been a while! In honor of it being my first full week of school (absolutely LOVING 4th grade by the way) and being super consumed by lesson plans, here is a handful of my favorite recipes.

Breakfast:

granola.jpg

{Easy, yummy, versatile, and loved by all, I give to you…Easy Granola Recipe. It lasts all week and we eat this stuff straight.}

coco

{This super yummy Tone It Up Coconut Chica Smoothie will keep you full with the protein and healthy fats- coconut and almonds. If you don’t have their protein, feel free to sub your own, but I can’t make any promises on flavor. I prefer their Perfect Fit protein or the Sunwarrior Vanilla. }

GGS

{Something even lighter than the smoothie…Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie gets your greens in before 8:30am. I prep this for 3 days in mason jars and it’s a great grab and go juice. I’m usually hungry a couple hours later though!}

Lunch/Dinner:

carrots

{Holy cow. This Sweet Tahini Drizzle is finger licking good. Literally, I lick my fingers. You can put it on these roasted carrots, or you can put it on arugula, or you can put it on romaine, or you can put it over a veggie/rice bowl. It’s that good. The only thing is, you must like tahini in order to like this dressing. You’ve been warned.}

pork

{I pretty much make this Honey Lime Ginger Pork once a week because it’s super easy (love my crock pot) and it’s super delicious. This can go over rice, or over lettuce if you’re doing a low carb thing. That’s rare for me, if we’re being honest.}

pizza

{Paleomg.com is one of my favorite blogs, not specifically because she’s paleo, but because a lot of her recipes are just dang good. And she can be pretty funny, too. Her 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie is light, delicious, and paleo friendly (if you’re into that kind of thing…if not, it’s still good). I think you should at least give it a shot.}

Dessert (aka chocolate chip cookies because they’re the only dessert you ever need in your life…okay, that’s a stretch, but they’re just so good):

CCC

{A very good gluten free version from Against All Grain that even Kevin thought was good. That tells ya somethin’. She calls it The Real Deal because it’s similar to a chocolate chip cookie made with flour and sugar and butter. It’s not EXACT, but it’s good.}

CCC 2

{Just go make these right now and thank me later.}

NTA

Hey there! Happy Hump Day! So, we still love KC, in case you were wondering. It’s great so far. The heat and random thunderstorms haven’t scared us away. In fact, we love the thunderstorms. We did have a nice little reunion with family due to our weekend in LA for Cory’s (brother-in-law) wedding. Can we just talk about that for a moment? Holy Toledo.

It was an amazing weekend full of love and celebration of an awesome couple. They are literally perfect for each other. Oh my goodness. On top of that, the Natural History Museum makes a breathtaking venue. We danced the night away next to friends, family, and dinosaurs. Can you beat that?

I’m so happy to have gained such an awesome, driven, fun, and beautiful (inside and out), sister-in-law. Thanks, Cory!

When we got back we had to dive head first into some district training. Woop woop! We have been attending what our district calls “New Teacher Academy”(NTA) over the last three days.

It’s the nuts and bolts, as well as the nitty gritty, of our new school district. I have to say, it’s been fun being in the same district as him! We get to endure the same long meetings together 🙂

I have been SUPER lucky in this district so far. I mean “lucky” as in I should go to the casino ’cause I’m on a hot streak “lucky”. I went to that readers and writers workshop a couple weeks ago and I won the GRAND PRIZE at the end of the training. It was a set of four cute little crate seats (like these) and a cute little colored pencil lamp (kind of like this) for my classroom. I mean, I won out of a ton of teachers!

On Monday this week, my table won $5 gift cards to Independence Square (near our schools) for finishing first place on a fun quiz website (teachers check it out). Score! That’ll totally buy me a slice of pizza.

Then, today, I won two more $5 gift cards to Independence Square (one for me and one for Kev) for the Twitter contest (coolest Tweet of the day). Our district is BIG on technology and Twitter comes with that. I’m working on my Tweet game.

Tweet{Couples that #isdnta together, stay together.}

ISDNTA was the name of the training…if you didn’t figure that out already…which you probably did…but maybe not.

THEN, after that, my name popped up for another little activity we did throughout the week where a name is chosen at random for a prize. So, today I got to pick a prize! Can you believe it?!? For those of you wondering, I chose chart paper for anchor charts. So exciting!

Also, I met a really cool new friend. Basically, I feel like I’m winning in all departments here. It was a lot of information jammed into three days, however, so I’m looking forward to an easy morning tomorrow. I fully intend on sleeping in, enjoying coffee with Chief and Kev, and then heading to the classroom to prep.

Next week will be long, and tiring, but I’m totally excited about it! #firstdayjitters

Teaching

Hi friends! We have continued to eat and drink our way through this city, meet new people, try new BBQ, hangout at the pool, etc. Chief is getting LOTS of exercise. He walks or runs with us in the mornings and then we hit the doggy park at night. He’s a big fan. Oh! We also went to the Kenny Chesney concert! Miranda Lambert and Sam Hunt opened for him. What a great show! We love country music.


I honestly thought I wouldn’t love Miranda, though. I like a couple of her songs, but something about her voice always made me think meh. Well, now I love her. She’s freaking awesome. Such a girl boss!! Did Blake really cheat on her!? What an idiot. I really liked him. Actually, scratch that- I still like him. I don’t know if all those rumors are true. I’ll stay out of it. It’s none of my beeswax anyways. Moving on.

Remember how I was saying it was totally feeling like summer? Fast forward a couple of weeks and BAM it’s starting to feel more like holy cow school is starting soon!

I’ve been attending a professional development class at my district office for new teachers this week. It’s on reader’s and writer’s workshop, which is not new to me, but it’s always nice to have a refresher course. There’s always something new to pick up. One of the reasons why I love my job is because there are consistent professional development opportunities. I mean, this one just happens to be required since I’m new to the district, but still. I love learning and I never want to stop.

As a teacher, I learn through these professional development classes, I learn through my colleagues, I learn through my mistakes and successes in and out of the classroom, and I learn though my students. It’s awesome.

Can you tell I’m excited to go back?

This is going to sound corny, but it feels weird calling my job a job because it feels more like a journey or an ongoing adventure. Just like life, there are ups and downs, laughs and tears, but it’s always interesting and different every day. And in the end, it’s always so rewarding. Like, wow look how far you’ve come kiddos! Fist pump! Go make a difference! Then I refresh and do it all over again.

I’m looking forward to having those meaningful ah-has in my classroom that make your day-to-day work as a teacher feel worth while. I’m looking forward to getting to know a whole new set of students, all while never forgetting the kiddos I taught the year before, and the year before..and the…you get it.

Yes, I’m learning all sorts of educational tools at this workshop- various reading and writing strategies to create engaging lessons and life long learners, how to create meaning in my literacy block, etc. However, I’ve learned a little about myself through this experience as well:

  1. I’m going to have new challenges this year that I don’t think I’ve ever had to face. My kids may come to school hungry, sleepless, sad, angry…and although I’ve seen and dealt with these different facets of little ones before, it sounds like they’ll be stemming from a much deeper place here. Can my heart even take it?
  2. I can’t wait to meet my kids and get started. It’s true that teaching is about strategies in the classroom, but in reality it is ALL about the kids and the relationships we build with them as individuals. I’m ready!

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Yum. So I just finished lunch (in case you were wondering) and it was delicious. One thing I’ve learned as a first grade teacher is that sharing is caring. This was good, so I’m going to share it.

This “recipe” (can you even call the directions for throwing together a salad a recipe?) is adapted from a Tone It Up recipe. I’m not going to promote them right now, even though I think the girls are brilliant and I love all their recipes and workouts and lifestyle tips, but I do want to let you know that I didn’t just come up with this idea as I fell asleep last night (that’s sometimes wear I think about things I want to make). I swapped out the lettuce, nuts, etc. and added a couple of things to make it meet my current hankering for lunch.

I love the 1/2 spinch 1/2 arugula lettuce mix. The spinach softens the peppery bite of the arugula so perfectly. I grilled up some chicken and threw together the following to make a yummy summer salad that you should go make right now…and because I literally cannot get full off of a salad, I ate mine along side 1/2 a homemade club sandwich leftover from our pool picnic yesterday.

As my mother (and millions of other Italians) would say- buon appetito!

IMG_0442

 

Mediterranean Chicken Salad Version 2.0

1 cup spinach/arugula mix

3 oz. grilled chicken cut into bite sized pieces (I seasoned mine with s&p, garlic powder, paprika and dried basil)

6 red grapes (cut in 1/2)

1 Tb. pecan pieces

1/4 avocado (chucks)

3 small basil leaves chopped

1 Tb. balsamic glaze (for dressing)

 

What’s your favorite salad “recipe”!? Post it!