Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey and how to help

We are all aware of the catostrophic damage Hurricane Harvey has left and continues to leave. I think I speak for most Texans when I say, this really hits hard. Having many members of our family in Rockport and Corpus Christi, it is even more personal to me. First of all, our family members are okay. As much as it hurts to lose so much, when it comes down to it, their lives are what matter. We are thankful for their safety. We are also thankful to all of those that have reached out and asked how our family is or let us know they were praying for us. I have spent the last five or so days, glued to my phone, watching the news, and feeling so sad for all of my fellow Texans. I have also been so proud. I'm proud to be a Texan. I'm proud of my friends who have headed down to Houston to help. I'm proud that my social media feeds are filled with friends organizing donation drives, small business friends giving all of their proceeds to relief efforts, and all coming together to pray for our great state and help one another. If I only had one word to describe my state, it would be STRONG, and right now, we are proving that. 

Even though we are strong, right now we need help.
A few places you might consider donating to...

The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce has set up a GoFundMe page that you can access HERE. This is where Chris grew up, and where his family still lives. This money will be spent locally to rebuild this town I love so much, and help all the great people that live here.

You can donate to the Texas Diaper Bank HERE. Diapers are not provided by disaster relief agencies. This is the last thing a mom needs to be worrying about. 

Houston, Texan JJ Watt has launched a campaign on You Caring for Houston. Last time I checked, it had been shared 170k times on social media, and almost 26k people had donated. The goal started out at 500k and is now set at 3 million dollars. I am suggesting this avenue for donations because of the reputation of the Red Cross, and the reputation of Mr. Watt. I trust that in his hands, my donation will get to the people that need it most. 

There are so many more places you can donate, these three are just close to my heart. If you have one that's close to you, leave the link in the comments.
Thursday, August 24, 2017

5 places we want to visit

With our trip to Mexico coming up in a couple months we've been talking a lot about travel, and all the places we really want to go. We have a little list going, and an adventure fund started so I thought I would share (in no particular order) five places we really want to visit.
First of all, this is where we are currently planning to go. The photo above is of the little town of Sayulita, Mexico, where we will be staying. My best friend of over twenty five years is getting married here in just eight short weeks. The photo below is one of the things we are most excited to do here. It is the Islas Marietas National Park. It has come highly recommended and is known as the "Mexican Galapagos" and we are SO excited to explore it!

Now, here are 5 more places we're talking about!
Tuscany, Italy 
I've always wanted to go to Italy, for a million reasons. It's just beautiful and so rich with history. I really want to just take a year and travel all of Italy, but Tuscany is the spot I want to explore the most. As silly as it sounds, I fell in love with Tuscany specifically watching the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Have you seen it?

This is somewhere Chris has really wanted to go for a long time, and when I started looking up pictures of the country, I quickly got on board. I mean, this picture I stumbled upon is just stunning!

Seattle, Washington
We have a list of things we want to see, and things we want to eat, in Seattle. This city has been on our short list for the last year, and now that our best friends have decided to move here, we will for sure be traveling to Seattle in 2018 and I am SO looking forward to it. 

I was talking to my 95 year old Granny recently, about life, and all of her travels. She has seen so much, and mentioned that Switzerland was one of her favorites. It's been on my list, but our conversation made me realize it needed to be moved to the top of the list. I remember my grandparents traveling there when I was younger and coming home with great stories and keepsakes from their trips.
Creeper Trail, Virginia
I have biked this trail twice on family trips, and I am dying to go back and take Chris. This picture doesn't even do it justice. There are also areas of the trail covered in wide open, green hills. It is absolutely stunning, and so peaceful. I would go on this ride every day if I could.

These are just a few of the places that we really want to see. If we could, we'd drop everything and just travel year round. I'll be documenting our upcoming 7 days and 6 nights in Sayulita, Mexico in October, and I hope to document many more trips in the near future, so stay tuned! Where are your favorite places to travel, and what's on your travel bucket list? Let me know in the comments! 

XO -Megs
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Friday at the Rodeo

Last Friday we went to the county fair and rodeo. This is something I've gone to almost every year of my life, so I was excited to share it with Chris. (I can't believe I'd never taken him!) Something you should know about me, I am obsessed with fairs, carnivals, festivals, etc. Art fairs, mall carnivals, town festivals, county and state fairs, I don't discriminate! I love them all, and everything they include. This county fair (and Rodeo!) is really the kick off to the season. In a few weeks our neighboring town will host Grapefest, and then the State Fair will be here, followed by many Oktoberfest celebrations. I'll go to as many as we can fit in! For now, back to Friday night.

This was the first night the fair opened, and Chris ended up getting Friday night off, so we were able to get there pretty early. We walked around, got a beer, and found ourselves a seat at the rodeo. 

We watched the entire rodeo, but I didn't get many pictures.
Afterwards we walked around and checked out all the rides and food!
Our friend Zach finally joined the party and brought a bunch of his friends. Josh Abbott played, but we opted to hang back because it was just too hot. We waited at the smaller stage for Zane Williams to come on. It was my first time hearing him, and I didn't know a single original he played, but it was easy to dance do and we had a blast.
Zach and I have been friends for 14 years. He even introduced me to Chris! He is moving to Seattle in a couple weeks and I miss him already! It was great to have this night before he leaves.
It was insanely hot, and we missed Zach's fiancee, Lea, who is already in Seattle, but it was a great Friday night! Do you like festivals too? What's your favorite??

XO -Megs

Monday, August 21, 2017

Kitchen organization

If you've ever lived in an apartment, you can probably sympathize with me when I talk about how rough the kitchen situation can be.  No counter space, never enough storage, tiny pantry, those coil stovetops.. I could go on and on. I can not wait to have a house with a real kitchen someday. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, so even though there's nothing I can do about the horrible white laminate counter tops, and the old stove top with those dreaded coils, I have to make the most of the space that I have. The only way to keep my sanity and be able to actually get use out of my kitchen, is to keep it nice and organized. Disclaimer: It is not always organized, but this is how it should look. Lately I have been doing a weekend meal prep for the week. I grocery shop Saturday morning. If I'm really on top of things I order on Friday so I can just do grocery pickup on Saturday morning. So easy, and no temptation to buy anything extra! I save the actual prepping for Sunday morning. I wake up pretty early and spend a couple hours in the kitchen before Chris wakes up and I'm done for the week. This is also the day I clean the fridge, take out the trash, and empty/load the dishwasher. I was doing these tasks more often throughout the week, but with meal prepping, there's no need to anymore. Each night our dishes from the day go into the dishwasher, and I run it on Thursday or Friday. Just having this schedule keeps me pretty organized.

Probably the area where organization is most important is the pantry. I got these baskets at our local Five Below. They are great for keeping things organized. I have our things grouped in categories like chips, snacks, baking, and pasta. I probably need a metal shelf, as this plastic one is all warped, but it's still doing it's job. What this photo doesn't show, is the garbage can below, with a small shelf behind that stores trash bags, plastic baggies, extra napkins, etc. and also above, things like sugar and flour. 

This hanging basket is another thing I love. Its the cutest little organization tool. Everything is off the counter and I just think it's super cute. I also love that it reminds me of what I have. If I put these things in the pantry or the drawers in our fridge I forget about them and they get wasted. This helps me remember to cut that fruit up for a nice snack.

I don't have a particular way I organize my fridge, except that meat and water is always on the bottom. Usually most meal prep stuff is on the bottom and each night I move what we need to take the next morning to the top shelf so there's no searching for anything. For me, going through my fridge once a week and getting rid of anything thats gone bad is enough to make it feel really organized. We don't keep a whole lot of extra food. This is on Sunday before meal prep was finished.

I keep the cooking utensils I use most often on the counter in this pretty jar (from world market) right next to the stove so they're easy to grab, and I don't have to worry about an overflowing utensil drawer. 

Just doing these few little things make my tiny kitchen run much more smoothly. Even when it does get messy, I find that it takes less time to put back together because I already have all of this in place. Did you like any of these tips? What is your favorite kitchen organization hack? Let me know in the comments! 

XO -Megs

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fit Friday no.4 (2017)

It's Friday!

Time to check in! This week went really well for me. I worked out, felt great, and lost a few pounds. The past few weeks have been a little frustrating for me. I started doing meal prep more seriously and cut a lot of things out of mine and my husbands diet. Of course, when you make changes you want to see results. Well, Chris has seen amazing results, with minimal effort, almost instantly. I've put in quite a bit more effort, to no avail. I know, I know, men just naturally have an easier time. I could write about all the ways this is unfair for hours, but this is life. The fact that it's unfair doesn't matter, because it will still be true. My Papa always told me that sometimes you just need to have a pity party, and then you get up and move on. I've had my party.. next! I did a great job at moving on this week.

One thing I changed up this week was my breakfasts. I did not want to do this. Not even a little bit. I have been making breakfast sandwiches and they are so delicious, but that bread just had to go. Enter, protein smoothies (or shakes?) What's the difference? Anyway, this week I blended up a protein smoothie every morning. Now, I learned on Monday that I am absolutely not an expert at this. I should have hopped on Pinterest the night before to get an idea of what I was supposed to be doing. I mean, it's pretty simple, but when you don't do this regularly and don't really know how much of everything you should throw in, well, you just never know what you'll get. Monday I ended up making a huge smoothie, like, wayyy too big! Tuesday was better, and by Wednesday I had it down. I honestly think it made a difference. On Monday I still felt hungry. This was surprising to me, because with 26 grams of protein there was just no possible way I was actually hungry. I missed eating. I mean, I should have expected this. After all, this is why I was hesitant to do this in the first place. I am not into drinking my meals. Some people drink their meals, especially veggies, but I would just rather eat them. I have always loved healthy foods so I have never needed to add them to a drink. Tuesday I was tempted to quit, but I didn't, and I'm so glad. I felt full and totally satisfied. One day, is all it took. Which is awesome because if it hadn't been better Tuesday I probably would have gone another route. I have never been a person who can skip breakfast, and being a nanny to two boys under four means I need even more energy. I might actually be a believer now. It's easier, faster, and more filling. I also love that I can mix it up if I want, and that I can add things like flax seed, that I know I need and haven't been getting. This week I used one scoop of strawberry protein powder, one cup of frozen organic berries, and a little water. We have a nutri-bullet so I can just blend and go in the morning. I love how easy it is. I'm going to continue these and see what happens, and now that I'm a little more confident, I'm going to mix it up and start adding other ingredients! If you have a favorite recipe, comment so I can try it out! 

Have a great weekend, and be fit and fab! 
XO -Megs
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thoughts for Thursday

This week I thought I'd join Thoughts for Thursday and link up with some other bloggers. I'm still so new to this world, and I really enjoy linking up and reading other blogs, and hopefully making some "blogger friends!" 

I want to share some tools I personally use to stay happy. I have a few close friends that have recently been dealt a whole lot of life crap. I mean, this happens to all of us every now and then. Maybe you feel like it happens to you often. Just a bunch of bummer, bad news days, strung together.. or even just one day. I was recently asked, 

"How do you always stay so happy?" 

I'm going to be totally honest, this question made me feel so good. It made me feel so confident and just, well.. happy. I don't want to give the impression that I don't sometimes let things get to me, that I don't get down, or that my life is just perfect. It isn't. I have stresses. Just ask my husband, he would probably be the first to say that I'm not always happy. Ha! I think sadness, anger, and frustration are all perfectly useful emotions, and I think its important we allow ourselves to feel them, but I think they should consume a moment, not a day. When I have these emotions for what ever reason, I acknowledge them, and then I move on. A few things that work for me and have worked for my friends..

Communication. If you know me at all, you probably know this is my answer for just about everything. When Chris and I first started dating, we had a very real conversation about how our lives were going to be. His career forces him to have odd hours. We knew from the beginning that not seeing each other regularly was going to be the norm for us. This makes communication extra important. He has always encouraged me to communicate about everything. I do this in every area of my life now. If something is bothering me, I talk about it. Talk to anyone, just vent, and let it go. 
Be positive. No one is in control of your emotions but you. This can be a hard one. It's sometimes very difficult to not let another persons words or actions have an affect on you. You can't control what they say about you, but you can be confident and know that their words do not define you. You define you, no one else. Some people are just negative people, and they bring their negativity with them everywhere they go. Sometimes you just have to let people and things go. Don't be brought down by others. Positivity is so important. I would consider this my key to happiness. 
Let go. There is just no need to hold on to negative emotions. To be clear, having and holding on are two different things. You shouldn't feel like a failure if you feel like this, but you should remember its okay to let go. Give it to God (or the universe if that's your thing) and just free yourself from those feelings. If I'm having a really hard time letting go, music or a night of reflecting with friends or family helps immensely.  

**If you're really having trouble, try looking up and participating in the 100 days of happiness challenge. I have done this challenge twice and love it. It's such a good way to bring attention to all the little things in life that bring you happiness. 

Life is just to short to spend your days unhappy. The best words of advice I have ever been given are "Don't sweat the small stuff." I remember my Papa saying this to me as a little girl, and it's the last sentence in every letter he ever wrote to me. These words mean so much to me. He often followed the words by saying, if its not "health stuff" then its small stuff. If its health stuff, give it to God. If there are health problems weighing on you and stealing your happiness, please shoot me a message or email so I can pray with you. Everyone deserves happiness. 

XO -Megs
Friday, August 11, 2017

Fit Friday no.3 (2017)

My favorite ways to work out when I can't get to the gym

Sometimes life just gets busy, and going to the gym is impossible. Sometimes you just can't afford a gym membership. Sometimes the gym is just way too intimidating. What ever the reason may be, sometimes it just doesn't happen. I have been in all three of these situations, but I like to find time to do a little something even if I can't get to the gym for a full workout.

Since most of us work full time, if you can find a way to get some exercise in at work you're golden. Whether this means getting up from your desk and walking every once in awhile, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing squats every time you take a bathroom break, (I totally used to do this! Fifty squats every time I went for a bathroom break!) Something is better than nothing. I'm really lucky I'm able to be super active at my job. When the weather is nice, I try to take the boys on walks. Their block is huge, so its about forty minutes of faced pack walking. Sometimes I even do this twice a day. Some days I use the baby as a weight (he's 35lbs.) and do arms or abs with him. He loves when I do this. Also, theres always nap time, but honestly, I'm usually exhausted by this time in the day. Try to be as active as possible during the day. 

Another one of my favorite things to do when I can't get to the gym is a good challenge. Have you ever tried to do a thirty day squat challenge? They are hard y'all. I have started a handful of times, but the first time I really did one the whole thirty days was earlier this year. It was one of the things on my fit bucket list, and the first thing I accomplished. It was hard. I think day thirty is like 250 squats, and I don't cheat. I do all of those suckers at one time. I only allow myself a five second break every fifty squats. I want to do a plank challenge or an arms and abs challenge next!I have a bunch of different challenges pinned in my fitness folder on my pinterest page. Let me know which one you want to try, I'll do it with you!

I also love going for walks at night, or any time really. During the week I'll go meet a friend or my mom and do a couple miles. When the weather is not terribly hot (like it is right now) my mom and I have a few hiking trails we frequent on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We keep the pace pretty quick and really make it count. This definitely takes time, but it would be a good thing to add to your routine if you're just flat out avoiding the gym.

If you are not going to the gym at all, a home workout tape or app is great too. I just downloaded Aaptiv on my iPhone, and I really like it so far. There is a monthly fee (I think it's $9) but I found a code for a free month. I'm not sure if I'll continue it when my trial is up, I need to use it a little more first, but so far what I've used I like. It has home workouts, and even 7 minute hiit workouts if you're really crunched for time. If you really want to be active, no one is so busy they don't have seven spare minutes in their day. If you have a little more time and can swing a workout dvd, Jillian Michaels 30 day shred will always be my favorite. It's not my favorite because it is most enjoyable, I choose it as my favorite because it is effective. It will get you results. Also, there's three difficulty levels. I like that, even though I've never gotten past level two. 

These are a couple things I do to stay active when I don't go to the gym, for what ever reason. What are your favorite things to do when you're busy or skipping the gym? Comment below and let me know! 

XO -Megs
Monday, August 7, 2017

Meal Prep Talk

It's Monday, so lets talk meal prep! 
Lately, I have very much become obsessed with meal prepping. Because of our work schedules, and because it's healthier, Chris and I do things a little bit backwards. Since we don't have the opportunity to have even a single meal together Monday-Friday, we have our largest meals for breakfast and lunch. These meals get cooked on Sunday and stored in the fridge so we can grab and go. Dinner is always eggs for him, and either eggs or avocado for me, and we fix that once we get home every day. Since our dinners are super lite, that means I don't really cook during the week. I love love love not having to cook every night. It allows me so much time for other things that I would rather be doing. 

Breakfast Prep-
For a long time I've had a protein bar for breakfast. Only recently, did I realize that it had way more carbs than I should be eating, so I've reluctantly been trying to figure out better breakfast options. I did hard boiled eggs for a week, but it wasn't enough to get me to lunch, so for now we've landed on a breakfast sandwich. I know, bread isn't any better (its probably worse) than having all the carbs in a protein bar, but the sandwich is just so filling. I'm thinking about trying out smoothies next week, but this week its egg whites, one piece of bacon, and half a slice of gouda in a ciabatta bun. I make Chris' with sausage. When making these sandwiches, I crack twenty egg whites and ten yolks in a glass baking pan, season with fresh ground pepper and a little cayenne, and bake in the oven. (350 for 25-30 minutes) I also cook the bacon and sausage in the oven. I spray a cooling rack with a little olive oil and lay the meat on it. I place it on a bigger pan, one that has edges so the grease won't run off, and throw it in the oven. (375 for 20 minutes depending on desired crispiness.) When its all finished I'm able to cut the eggs in to perfect sized squares, top with meat and cheese and slide in that ciabatta roll. This whole process takes me an hour, and I'm finished for the week! Yay! I didn't take pictures of the process this week. Oops! 

Lunch Prep-
I have been prepping this much longer. Right now we are rotating between a few things: dry spice rub chicken and mixed veggies, chicken fajita rice bowls, and teriyaki chicken and veggie stir fry. All of these have a double serving of vegetables, one serving of meat, and the rice bowls and stir fry have a very small serving of rice or noodle. We both love veggies, so that makes it a lot easier. 

The dry spice rub I just sort of came up with one day. I fill a plate or bowl with several spices. Usually cayenne, garlic, pepper, cumin, and a ginger asian spice or cajun mix. Really, any spices in your pantry will probably do. Cayenne is probably most important because of the many benefits it provides, but its spicy. I rinse the chicken breasts and coat both sides in the spice mixture and bake, just as you normally would. If I have time, I'll brine the chicken first. It makes it much more juicy. For the vegetables, I cut up broccoli, squash, zucchini, bell peppers, and onions, and roast in the oven at 400 for about 15 minutes. If you roast too long they get mushy, and since they will already have to be microwaved before eating during the week, I try to get them out of the oven a few minutes before I normally would. 

For chicken fajita rice bowls, I marinate the chicken in fajita seasoning for as long as possible, and then bake. In a separate pan I bake onions and peppers. I prepare a bed of rice, black beans, and corn, and top it with the fajita chicken and peppers. Since rice takes a little longer to warm up, I store these in two separate containers. 

Teriyaki chicken stir fry is probably the easiest. I get the huge bag of stir fry veggies and throw it all in the skillet with some teriyaki and soy sauce. I put the same sauce on the chicken and bake it, then throw it together. Also, I always get extra broccoli to throw in, just because broccoli is our favorite vegetable, and because we love extra veggies! Yum!

Snack Prep-
Lastly, snacks! There is very little prep involved in this part, just dividing everything up into containers. Our snacks are apples and peanut butter, grapes, nuts, and cheese. 

I absolutely love meal prepping, for so many reasons. Three hours of work on Sunday morning, and everything is cooked for the whole week. I love not having to cook every night, I can do so many other things instead. I also love that everything is ready for me to grab and go. Bonus! I do dishes once a week now! We're trying really hard to eat healthy and prepping helps so much! Do you meal prep? I'd love to hear healthy recipes from others! 

XO -Megs