Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Easter Basket Ideas

Today's Girl Chat link up is a bit of a stretch for me. Since I'm not doing Easter baskets for probably a few years, I'm just going to dream of the day that I have sweet little ones to start this fun tradition for, and I'll link a few items I love. I so can't wait for the days of surprising my future babies with little things like this. Easter is such a special time to me. It is obviously about so much more than a bunny and eggs, and while I think there is so much importance in teaching the meaning of Easter, a basket of goodies is such a sweet little treat. I remember growing up and being so excited to come home from church to yard full of eggs on Easter Sunday! It's such a great memory!

With holidays like this, I don't tend to go over the top. I always try to get things that are practical. I do this now with the boys I nanny and with the little ones in my family. I'm just never one to give a million toys, or a ton of sweet treats, mostly because I watch children for a living, so I know how fast they move on from a toy, and I know how crazy sugar can make them, ha! I didn't link any but I would definitely throw a few treats in an Easter basket. Maybe a little (hollow) chocolate bunny or some jelly jeans!  As you can tell, books are definitely a go-to for me! All items are direct linked, just click on the picture, and I worked hard to make sure everything was really affordable. I feel like most of these items are things I would buy for spring anyway, so why not throw them in to a cute little basket and make it a special gift. You could even throw in some spring clothes for your little one!
(This post contains affiliate links, at no cost to you!)

1. I am a Bunny-This was one of my favorite books as a child.
2. Little Blue Truck's Springtime- these blue truck books are just adorable! (There's one for every season!)
3. Sunrise, Easter Surprise- I love how this one teaches little ones the meaning of Easter.
4. Easter Sticker and Activity book- These are a great little activity.
5. Bubble wands- Because bubbles are endless entertainment, especially on a nice spring day.
6. Stuffed Bunny- I love this sweet little Melissa & Doug bunny.
7. Umbrellas- A practical spring time purchase
8. Sunglasses- Another purchase you'd probably make anyway, plus how cute are these tiny aviators! They come in many colors!

If you're looking for more Easter Basket ideas, head over and follow along with all the girls that linked up!

What is your favorite thing about Easter!?
Do you celebrate with Easter baskets!?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup is one of my favorite things to eat! I could seriously eat it all the time! I've been making it for years, but I recently changed up how I make it in an attempt to make it more of a restaurant style. I've always felt like it tastes so different when I order it out as opposed to making it at home, although I'll definitely eat it both ways! I think I've finally perfected it enough to share with all of you! I personally feel like this makes it taste more like what you'd get in a restaurant, however, the real secret they use is tons of cheese, and I prefer to keep it a little healthier!

1 pint restaurant style salsa 
1-2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
4 cup shredded chicken
1 cup black beans (optional)
1/2 cup corn (optional)
1/2-1 cup shredded cheese

First, I add my chicken to a large pot. I usually use rotisserie chicken for this recipe, or I cook breasts in the crockpot and shred ahead of time.
Next, I add my salsa! For this recipe, I actually use salsa from my favorite Mexican restaurant. It's pretty spicy, and it's well blended. Although chunky salsa would work fine, I like smooth better for this recipe. I let this cook together on medium-low for ten minutes or so before adding in anything else, just to really let the salsa soak in to that chicken.
Then I add in the broth and simmer. At this point sometimes I'll add in corn and black beans, and sometimes I'll just leave it like it is.
I let this simmer for 20-30 minutes, and it's done!
Since this was what I meal prepped for the week, it went in to glass tupperware to take to work!

This super easy soup is relatively healthy, and tastes SO good! Honestly, I make it all the time and I just never get tired of it.

Do you love tortilla soup!?
What's your favorite easy soup!?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Fit Friday No.3

Time to check-in for February! Month two of twelve in this commitment to share my fitness journey. If you're following along, I'd love to hear about your own journey and what works for you. My goal this year is just to keep myself inspired and accountable on my way to becoming more fit. Answering these five questions once a month here, is helping me to do that, and helping reach these goals! Whether you're a reader or a fellow blogger, I challenge you to answer these questions for your self each month. Write them down (whether it's publicly or privately) and answer them every single month. Watch your answers change! I know my answers are already changing little by little, and I'm looking forward to looking back on this in November and December! Here we go..

Number of gym check-ins 
12 gym check-ins this month! Most of them were with Chris so they were 3+ hours of lifting. Wanting to raise that number higher next month.

Jean size
14. (Though most things are loose)

Pounds lost
3. This month I started noticing changes when I looked in the mirror, so I really didn't care if I was losing pounds or not. I'm doing more lifting than anything right now.

Goal of the month
My goal this month was just to go to the gym more. I definitely did, but there is definitely room for improvement. I am really good at going when I have someone going with me, but I slack when it's just me, and there were definitely some times I just flat out blew it off this month.

Win of the month
Seeing some definition in my arms! It feels so good to be getting stronger! Also, finally getting some wireless headphones. They have been a game changer in the gym, plus, how cute!?
You can get these here and I highly recommend them! 

What questions do you ask yourself each month!?
Share your fitness goals with me!!
This post contains affiliate links.
Thursday, March 1, 2018

March Goals

First of all, how is it already March!? Does anyone else feel like this year is flying by!? Normally I feel like this time of the year just drags. Maybe it's because we have a lot of plans for the year, like really big plans, but I feel like the time is passing so quickly it's leaving my head spinning! I'm normally pretty on top of things so this is new for me! Anyway, quick review of last month!

February Goals

Continue decluttering our closets
(and move on to the rest of our home)

Finalize all the plans for our trip to Florida

Start planning a May getaway

Work HARD on my fitness

I'm going to be totally honest, I feel like I had a super unproductive month. I did continue organizing our closet, but I have yet to move on to the rest of our house. We've mostly finalized our trip to Florida but we're still debating on whether we should rent a car or drive mine. Our May getaway has been postponed due to work, and as much as I love a good getaway, I'm honestly a little relieved! One less thing to plan! The area I haven't failed at this month, is in the gym. I originally planned on doing my monthly fitness check in last week, but with almost a full week left (of an already short month) I changed my mind, and it will be live Friday, so come back for that! This next month I really need to regroup.

March Goals

Continue decluttering 
(hopefully this month I'll actually get it done!)

Order Chris' groomsman gear for two upcoming weddings

Attend a bridal shower for a sweet friend!

Begin packing for our move in June

Prioritize and list to-do's for the next few months for the blog and life

Cheers to a new month, a fresh new start, and hopefully a lot of things accomplished in these next four weeks! 

What are your goals this month!?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

5 Tips To Keep an Organized Home

I like to think of myself as a fairly organized person. However, there is always room for improvement, so I am excited to link up today for this topic and get tips from others as well as share my own! I'm going to share a few key practices that you can use in any room of your home!

This post contains affiliate links at no charge to you! 
All thoughts are my own!

Stay Simple!
Lets stop an think for a second. It is virtually impossible, or at least extremely difficult, to stay organized when you just have too much stuff! Since we are currently living in a tiny little apartment, it's super hard to not have too much. However, we don't have a lot of things we don't use regularly. If you don't use it often, and it has no real place to go, get rid of it.

Create a Storage Space!
Since we are in this situation of temporarily living in a such a small space, and we just don't want to get rid of everything, storage bins are my best friend. The area we are most overflowing in is our closet. We don't want to get rid of all of our clothes, but we have a lot. Currently, things that are out of season or only worn on special occasion are packed into storage boxes and stacked high in our storage closet. We know right where they are and are able to pull something out if needed, and we have enough space in our closet for things we wear everyday.

I have baskets all over our home. In the pantry, the linen closet, and under the sinks. I even use some as dividers in our drawers to separate things like socks and underwear. To me, baskets make everything better. If I need medicine, I get the medicine basket from the bathroom closet, if I want to bake some muffins or a cake, I pull out the baking basket in our pantry, if I need a cleaner, I pull out the basket of cleaners under the kitchen sink. This keeps things together, and leads me (and my husband, who never knows where anything is) to the right spot.

I have these but I also love these!

Label Everything!
All of those storage bins I was talking about, are labeled! When we need something we know which one to grab because they all have a nice little label on the outside. Another area I label, is our finances. I use file folders to separate different bills we have. For instance, everything about my car can be found in a folder, from insurance information to loan payoff and warranty information. It's all in one spot with a nice little label that leads me right to it. All of our tax paperwork, is in another labeled folder. Labeling makes things easy to find when you need them. Plus it looks nice!

Take Time!
Spend 10-15 minutes, either at the beginning or the end of the day, to refocus, and reorganize. Maybe this time is to put things in their place, or to make a list. I use nap time to make my list, and when I get home from work I usually go ahead and spend a few minutes doing this. I don't have time in the morning during the week, but I also don't like saving it for right before bed. On the weekends I do this in the morning. It doesn't have to be a specific time, or even the same time every day, just commit to doing it. I also spend extra time on Sunday getting organized for the week ahead. This is the time I go through our fridge and pantry to make sure they're ready for the week, and I just do a little extra post weekend pick up around the house!

If you'd like more tips, go follow all of these sweet Girl Chat hosts!

Now tell me how you stay organized!
Do you use any of these tips already!?

Happy Thursday, Friends!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Banza Pasta Review

There's a new pasta in the isles of Target, and there's quite a buzz about it. It's called Banza and it's made with chickpeas! Because of this, it is higher in protein and lower in carbs! Yay! Since Chris and I are on a major health kick at the moment, pasta is something that has definitely been OUT for us, and of course I miss it! Major carb lover here! So of course this "healthier" pasta had me intrigued. I decided I'd pick some up and try it out for myself, and although my expectations were low, my hopes were high.. and since I'm currently eating the leftovers of it as I type this, I'd say my expectations were fairly well met. 

I picked up the penne and the linguine from Target last weekend. I intended to try both and do a review,  but I've only tried the penne so far. It's healthier, but it's still pasta, and there are still carbs, and I'm trying to limit those. So I decided to just go ahead and review the penne, I assume the linguine results would be about the same anyway! (I'll make sure to update this post if that isn't true!)

This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.
So let's review! 
Let's start with how it's cooked. Basically the same as any other pasta, although it called for nine cups of boiling water. I felt like that was a lot, and I didn't want to pull out my giant pot, so I think I used about 6. I boiled (salted) water and then threw in the pasta to cook for about 10 minutes. One thing I noticed while it cooked, was a very thick foam over the top. It didn't really go away when I stirred it, and it was very frothy. Maybe this is why it called for the nine cups of water. Oh well! Once I drained the pasta it was gone, and it didn't seem to affect the final product! I added a marinara sauce with meat and had a bowl for dinner.
The consistency was good, and the flavor was pretty good. Before adding the sauce I could tell a tiny difference in taste from regular pasta. It wasn't bad, but this might not be the best if you were planning on eating it without a sauce of some kind. With the sauce, I didn't think it was really any different at all from any other penne. It totally satisfied my pasta craving, with more protein, and less carbs!
Now I do have to touch on left overs for a second. If you don't do leftovers then just skip this part. If you've been following me for any amount of time you probably have seen that I meal prep. I pretty much cook (almost) all of our meals on Sunday. I personally wouldn't mind prepping this and heating it up, but there are a couple things to note. First, there was a little excess liquid in the bottom of the tupperware when I pulled it out of the fridge. This could have been from the sauce, or from not draining the pasta well enough, but I don't really think it was from either. Nevertheless, it was easy to drain before warming. Next, the penne did fall apart a little. Pieces broke apart making it a little harder to eat with my fork, but it didn't affect the taste, and I would say it was worth it to me to know I was eating something healthier. Note: Chris didn't drain the water before warming, and his leftovers we're soggy and the pasta completely fell apart, making it basically impossible to eat!

Now how much healthier is it exactly? I decided to compare it to a box of penne I happened to have sitting in my pantry. For a 2 oz. serving size

Banza Penne         Barilla Penne
190cal                200cal
3.5g total fat        1g total fat
60mg sodium       0mg sodium
32g carbs             42g carbs
14g protein           7g protein

If you're trying to do a high protein/low carb diet, then Banza is definitely a better alternative, however if you're watching your sodium intake then this might not be a good switch! Either way, this isn't something I would splurge on since there is really not a huge difference between the two, in my opinion! However, when I do have pasta, this will be a brand I will probably use again.

Have you tried Banza!?
What is your favorite "healthier" pasta!?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February Goals

Finally, February is here! Anyone else feel like January lasted forever and ever!? I think I mostly feel this way because of all the germs and sickness floating around, and because it was cold! I never got sick, but Chris had the flu, and both boys I nanny were sick off and on the whole month. I am just ready for this season to end, y'all! Anyway, a little look back at last month's goals, and a look forward to this month's!

January Goals
Complete a squat challenge
I wrote about this in my monthly fitness check-in here, but basically, it was a fail! 
Start eating healthier again
We've been eating pretty healthy around here lately! Lots of chicken, and tonsss of veggies! I cook our lunches for the week on Sunday. Dinner is usually very light and simple. I've been making lots of protein smoothies, and lots of omelets with veggies!
Declutter our clothing situation
I don't know if I should be checking this one off, but I'm going to. I made a ton of progress in this area this month. I donated three trash bags full, and packed away three large totes of stuff that we aren't currently wearing but feel confident we will again. Things like Chris' golfing clothes and some of my dresses. We have so much, that even after a purge, I feel like I need to purge again, so I will probably keep working on this!  

Moving on...

February Goals

Continue decluttering our closets
(and move on to the rest of our home)

Finalize all the plans for our trip to Florida

Start planning a May getaway

Work HARD on my fitness
(I'm ready to see results!)

Still keeping it pretty simple this month!
Tell me some of your goals this month down in the comments!!