Meal Planning (or “How to Keep Most of Your Groceries From Going Bad”)

Hiii (*waves nervously*) Let’s kick this off with the confession that I am not a foodie or a chef or a professional meal planner. I’m a newbie who still let’s the milk go bad and forgets to use the bananas before they’re squishy and grey.

Alright. Now that my credentials are out of the way…

*In between starting this post and finish it I went through our pasta cabinet and threw out so much expired food. Pasta, graham crackers, panko breading. Not a few months expired… years. Please note: All of that was purchase pre-meal planning. #oops

Toward the end of last year I started meal planning for our family of two. At the start of 2017 I made the lax resolution to meal plan every week. Surprisingly, I’m actually carrying this out with moderate success. A fellow blogger (Carolann, I think?) suggested I talk about my methods. So I thought, ‘Sure! Why not?!’

To be frank, I’m not even 100% sure I do this right. Critique me if you feel so inclined. I have thick skin; I can handle it.

Step 1

Pick three meals for the week.

Three?? But Audrey! Surely you’ll starve!

Fear not, my friends. We utilize the luxury of takeout and/or dining out at least once a week. (*cough*still working on budgeting*cough*)

Honestly, though. On Fridays we’re usually out with my parents and on Sundays we typically have dinner at my grandparents. Mix in one night of take out and fill that fourth night with leftovers and we’ve got three days left for home cooked meals.

… perhaps I’m not so qualified to write this post.

Stick with me, friends. Pick three meals from anywhere. I usually search Pinterest. Sometimes it’s not a recipe meal- sometimes it’s just burgers and veggies on the grill. It doesn’t matter… it still counts.

Ok. Got your three meals? I’m going to play along here and pick three, too.

  1. One Pan Sausage & Veggies (+ egg noddles with butter #healthy)
  2. Chicken Fajita Pasta (so good!! if this isn’t one of your 3 you should change that)
  3. Steak & veggies on the grill (+ mashed red potatoes left over from meal #1)

Step 2

Make a grocery list with the ingredients you don’t have.

can we ignore the “egg noddles”? oops

Now double check your kitchen for the ingredients you might actually have, but you put on the list anyway because you weren’t sure and you were too lazy to go look in the cabinet to check. (Oh. Just me? ) Cross those ones off.

Step 3

Go grocery shopping. I prefer Sunday afternoons because for some reason it’s a ghost town at the market but everything is all stocked for the week.

Obviously if there’s an afternoon NASCAR race this gets bumped to Monday night (which becomes the takeout night).

Step 4

Prep stuff if you feel so inclined.

Often I do not.

This is a good time to figure out WHEN you’re eating your meals. I don’t like to keep asparagus or steak too long so we’ll have those on Monday or Tuesday. If we don’t plan to make something until the weekend or we get busy and have to skip a meal I throw the appropriate meat in the freezer.

Boom Bang Ba-Da-Done.

the chicken fajita pasta… seriously- SO good

Some amateur tips:

  • if you never go out to eat plan for four nights
  • if you have a super busy week aim for two nights and make enough for leftovers
  • this doesn’t include lunch… and if you eat leftovers for lunch, go with 4 meals
  • make that Chicken Fajita Pasta… you won’t regret it

Was that even helpful…? Hahaha. Honestly, I never meal planned before this year but now that I do it’s pretty easy to stick with. This is probably a good gateway to meal prepping, too, but I don’t wanna demand too much of myself…

So tell me… do you meal plan? If so, what am I doing wrong? 🙂 If you don’t plan does this make you want to…?

“Get Out of There”

One of my very best friends is getting married in the fall of 2018. Yesterday she asked me to be a bridesmaid. Obviously I said yes.

Aubrey and I have known each other since we were 10. That’s sixteen years of history, friendship, arguments, changes, and celebrations. Another best friend, Kayla, is also a bridesmaid. Similar to Aubrey and I, she grew up locally and we’ve had some sort of acquaintanceship or friendship since middle school.

Both Kayla and Aubrey have moved away, found good jobs, and settled in. I, on the other hand, stayed in the same small town we all once called “home.” Per Google Maps, I live 3.8 miles from my childhood home, half a mile from my elementary school, half a mile (the other direction) from my high school, and roughly 0.5 to 5 miles from all my local relatives. Needless to say, it’s a smallish town.

It’s also one of those towns that high school seniors and young adults are always trying to “get away” from. If you don’t move away and travel the world or get a studio apartment in a real city then you might as well get married, pop out a few babies, and settle.

(That’s not my opinion. That’s the general vibe around here.)

Recently I saw a conversation on Facebook between two high school acquaintance…
Person 1: We’re moving! We’ll be living in XYZ, Ohio after this weekend.
Person 2 (who now lives in a major city): Good for you! Get out of there!

I know it should’ve have, but her comment made my blood boil. It made me feel like staying here is wrong.

Like it’s a trap. Or a prison. Or some sh!thole.

I like to think that I’m not easily swayed or influenced by others, but I KNOW there is a small town mentality of ‘staying here = failure.’

But honestly- what a load of bullshit.

If marriage and babies in a safe, small town is your prerogative then you’re in the right place. If building an international company is on your to-do list then you’ve found the perfect location. If you’re a world traveler who needs some roots in a busy yet slow community then plant them right here.

And if you feel like you need more miles to stretch your wings or some distance between your past and your present or you just want to try out a new place, then I think that’s great! But don’t you dare look down your nose at someone else for sticking around the place they call “home.”

For a while I really believed K and I would leave. (I suppose there’s still time but 1. the business is located here and 2. I’m happy here.) I’m a huge fan of travel and receiving a worldly education- but I need a stable home to return to. I think it’s 100% ok to dig your roots into a place like this.

For the record, neither of my best friends nor my brother have ever made me feel badly for any of my choices. I think they’re just happy to have a place to hangout when they come “home.”

I know that was a little rant-y, but that Facebook transaction sparked something inside me. I respect your decision to leave so I expect the same when it comes to staying.

Windows Down, Radio Up (a playlist)

I’m a music lover, but for some reason I never share playlists here. I was driving around a few weeks ago and a song came on the radio that prompted me to roll the windows down and smile up at the sunshine. I’m not the only one who gets the sudden urge to really take in the moment and enjoy the ride, right?

I’m a country music lover so I created a playlist of songs that make me smile and dream about a convertible ride along California’s coastal highway. Even if you hate country, give ’em a chance 😉 They’re pretty upbeat and pop-y.

We have a business road trip coming up so we’re crossing our fingers for warm, sunny weather. I have this happy little vision of cruising down the road with sunglasses on, windows down, and this playlist pumping through the car!

Are you a fan of country music? What songs would you add to my playlist?

Everything is Great

The creativity bug has been on vacation these last few weeks… Most of my posts have been lists or recaps or link-ups. All those things are great, but I usually try to throw in an opinion piece or heartfelt rant here and there. I’ve just been so tired. We’re both healthy and safe and happy, so I feel terrible complaining, but I really am exhausted right now.

You know how some people get tired and sad during the last half of winter but suddenly perk up in the spring with all the sunshine and rain and blooming flowers? Yeah- I’m the opposite. I hate this season and it totally drains me. Plus, Thunderstorms + Lylee = Audrey on the couch all night with a trembling dog and maybe 3 or 4 interrupted hours of sleep.

It’s also our gateway into the “crazy season” with the business. And tax season. (Sweet Mother of Pearl, don’t get me started on the taxes we owe this year *sob*) Anyway… stress levels are HIGH and there’s very little separation of personal and professional and canine stress at the moment.

So that’s what’s going on with me right now. Ha.

But in other random news…

Lylee went to the doggie spa (read: groomers) for the first time and had her nails professionally dremeled. It was taxing on both of us, but she was happy at the end and her nails looked good. So that’s a win.

We host an Easter meal at our house for K’s side of the family so I’m gearing up for that. People are always eager to bring sides so it’s never too much stress on me 😉 This year I’m going to make a mashed potato casserole, carrot bread, and decorated eggs! We’re either going to have brisket or a pork shoulder… I hate ham so the perk of hosting Easter is eliminating it from the menu 😀

Our 4 year anniversary is on the 27th of this month. K planned last year’s outing so it’s my turn this year. (I don’t know when we started taking turns…?) Any ideas for me?

And with that I’m off to try meditation (or a bottle glass of wine) and hopefully enjoy the weekend with family and friends and church 🙂

What are your weekend/Easter plans?

What I Read… vol. 4

This day needs no introduction. I read 3 books since our last link-up with Steph and Jana. Three feels like a good number for me.

What_I_Read_blog

Here’s the rating cheat sheet & description…

I include a brief summary, why I picked up the book, and what I thought. Then I give my oh-so-valuable opinion on whether or not you should read it and why. Images link to their GoodReads page.

On to the books…

Heartless by Marissa Meyer | ★★★★/5
Summary: Before she was the Queen of Hearts, Lady Catherine Pinkerton was a whimsical girl who loved to bake and found heads to be much more pleasant when attached to their bodies. So what happened? | Why I Read It: Two reasons, my friends. First of all, I love Alice in Wonderland. Secondly, I love Marissa Meyer. | What I Thought: The book started just a little bit slowly and I was devastated that it would end up being predictable and obvious. I was so wrong. Catherine was perfection. From the start you can see how she might have some Red Queen qualities (*cough*temperament*cough*), but you also found yourself rooting for her and hoping that she would achieve her dreams. She was a likeable character, but her flaws were also blatantly obvious. Her decisions and reactions carried her from one mistake to another until her fate suddenly became quite apparent. (I’m proud to say I figured out the Jabberwock story line on page 284. Yes, I did actually look at the page number when the thought struck me. ) The subtle allusions to Alice in Wonderland/Lewis Carroll made me grin every single time. I also fell head-over-heels in love with Jest. I don’t know how you couldn’t. I loved the appearance of original characters, too. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for anything better in an AiW pre-telling. (Four stars because there were moments that were just a tiny bit slow or repetitive.)
You Should Read It Because… you’re a fan of classic retellings and/or the original Alice in Wonderland. Or because you enjoy Meyer’s writing. Or because you like fantasy and romance and adventure and female leads.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams | ★★/5
Summary: *Fair warning: It’s an odd book.* When Arthur suddenly finds himself homeless he’s forced to join his oddball friend Ford on an intergalactic journey. | Why I Read It: I typically like weird stories and it filled a requirement for the challenge. | What I Thought: Man… this was a weird story. I don’t think I was the right audience for the humor in this book. I chuckled a few times, but it was difficult for me to get through. Lots of made up places and names and histories. I found myself re-reading pages and conversations, just to make sure I caught everything. I think it was an entertaining story, but I don’t think it was the right book for me. I highly doubt I’ll be picking up the sequels.
You Should Read It Because… I’m honestly not sure. It was an entertaining story but it was nonsensical and space-y.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | ★★★/5
Summary: Immediately following an unfortunate incident at home, Lo Blacklock is sent on an exclusive luxury cruise ship to cover a story for her employer- the travel magazine Velocity. The story she ends up uncovering turns out to be far juicier than she’d anticipated- and possibly deadly. | Why I Read It: Everyone and their mom has read it so I used it in Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: Eh, thrillers still aren’t my thing. I enjoy mysteries, but not thrillers. Maybe this was just a bad one. (I listened to Steph & Jana talk about it on The Armchair Librarians podcast.) According to them, Lo is an unreliable narrator (like Rachel from Girl On A Train? -didn’t read it). This kind of character annoys me. She drank too much (but she wasn’t an alcoholic), halfway through she started referencing her depression, and she consistently bounced back to the incident at home as the reason for her behavior and suspicions and snooping. But then when anyone mentioned those flaws/excuses/behaviors she freaked out on them and closed herself off. I also thought she was naive yet suspicious… and I don’t think you can be both. Not intelligently anyway… Again, I’m not a thriller reader but I figured out the twists long before Lo did. And there were moments I skimmed because it was just repetitive. And I really hated some of the loose ends yet neat and tidy finish. And the lack of morality at the very, very end (mainly having to do with money) was out of character IMO. I don’t know. Not my cup of tea but an OK read in that it mostly held my interest and occasionally sent a chill down my spine. *I did love the cover!
You Should Read It Because… you’re on a thriller bender or you heard good things elsewhere. I know some people liked this book & some hated it.

I have two weeks and five days to finish two books for Erin’s Challenge…

| 5 points | Freebie: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
| 10 points | Starts with the letter “W”: Winter by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Six words in the title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
| 15 points | Has a (mostly) green cover: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | A homonym in the title: The One by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | By your favorite author: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
| 25 points | Set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
| 30 points | A “Rory Gilmore” book: Atonement by Ian McEwan
| 30 points | From a genre that you’ve never read/rarely read (*thriller*): The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
| 35 points | With time travel: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

I currently have 145 points out of 200. I borrowed The Last Runaway from the library and I’m already into it. Atonement is sitting on my nightstand!

Tell me, tell me. What did you read this month?

Life According to Steph

Things I Really Love Right Now

I was going to write a serious post today. I started one about the controversy surrounding the Beauty and the Beast outrage. I thought about screaming ranting about the idiotic administration running our country. But I just can’t. If you’ve been around these parts long enough then you know that I have 0% issue with people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. You also know I loathe the people inhabiting the White House. So let’s talk about something that isn’t going to make me pull my hair out.

I’m going to link up with Kristen & Gretch for some “currently” updates and some favorite things that I want you to know about 🙂

Reading… The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. Atonement (Ian McEwan) is also on the docket. Last two books for Erin’s Challenge!

Watching… the series finale for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I tried to drag the series out as long as I could. I’m sad it’s over but pleased with how it ended. Now I’m trying to convince K to watch Firefly with me. (I’ve seen it, he hasn’t.)

Looking Forward To… my mom’s birthday celebration. Her b-day was Tuesday but I’m surprising her with an outing on Saturday. I can’t say much here because she reads this blog 😉

Planning… a fall vacation. We were going to go to Disney, but I couldn’t get K excited about it. He’s never been and wants to see it for the first time with a big family group or with a kid in the picture. Fine. Whatever. I was bitter about it at first, but now I’m looking forward to spending some time at Universal Studios (#DisneyForever) and on a cruise. We compromised.

Loving… my new job with K’s company. I feel so relaxed and fulfilled working for a company that I love and working alongside people that I really enjoy and working in an industry that’s had my heart for +8 years.

(Here’s what I was up to at this exact time last year!)

Now let’s talk about my recent favorites.
(I’m going to style this like Rebecca Jo’s Friday Favorites post.)

life_as_louise_favorites

Favorite Reads

I’m going to recommend two authors instead of books.

I’ve gone on and on about The Lunar Chronicles, so it makes sense that I recommend Marissa Meyer to those who love a little fantasy and adventure and retelling. Her newest standalone novel, Heartless, quickly became a favorite for me, too. (I’ll talk about it on Tuesday!)

The_Lunar_Chronicles

The second author that I’ve really enjoyed so far is Ashley Weaver. She writes a 1930s mystery series that centers around Amory Ames and her playboy husband Milo. They’re not thrillers, but they have an air of suspense and romance and betrayal. Plus they’re set in historical England- which is my fav.

Favorite Recent Purchases

Everyone has their favorite place to buy jeans. Mine is Old Navy. If you’re an ON gal check out these jeans! I have three of the same pair, all in different shades (medium wash, light wash and light pachuca). They are so comfy and flattering to my curvy hips!

Also on the recently purchased list: These pajamas from Marshalls (or TJ Maxx, I guess.) The same cross-cross shear pattern around the neck is also down the outside of each leg on the shorts. Perfect as the weather warms up!

…obviously this isn’t my body. Ha.

Favorite Lip Stuff

I’m not a beauty blogger, but I have three lipsticks/stains/things that I’ve been loving lately. Two are Burt’s Bees products (Pink Lagoon gloss lip crayon & Ruby Ripple moisturizing lipstick) and one’s from Wet N Wild (Lady and the Vamp balm stain). Last weekend I got three compliments on the balm stain!

Favorite Funnies

Have you tried any of this stuff? What’s something you’re loving lately?

What's New With You

Chats with K and more…

First order of business: Happy Birthday, Mom!
Secondly: K is my husband.

My mom called me but the call dropped almost immediately. Then she called back.
Me: Hello again.
Mom: Where ARE you??!
Me: Mom… you’re the one who dropped the call.
Mom: I know. I just wondered where you are.

. . .

While watching the Super Bowl in overtime.
Me: What the heck. Falcons had this. I don’t like Tom Brady. He’s a poophead.
K: A poophead, eh? That’s harsh.

. . .

Me: Self-pity doesn’t look good on you.
K: Everything looks good on me. Except sweaters.

. . .

K’s grandparents dropped off some candy at the office for us.
K: Do you have any Valentine’s Day candy left?
Me: …yes. What are you in the market for?
K: I’ll trade you these Skittles for something.
Me: You know I don’t eat Skittles.
*K gets up and starts to walk over.*
Me: Hey! Sit back down. You don’t get to raid my inventory.

. . .

Me: Alright, we’ve got to figure out lunch because I’m dying.
K: I’m not hungry yet.
Me: Fine. I’ll just get myself food. Maybe a bento box from Katana.
K: Get me a Hollywood roll.
Me: At this rate why don’t we just go eat there?!
K: I’m still full from my McDonald’s.
Me: AND THE TRUTH COMES OUT. No wonder you’re not hungry. You’ve been holding out on me.

. . .

Me: What would you do if I died?
K: Right now?
Me: Yes.
K: Probably drive you to a hospital.
Me: ….okay. I mean long term.
K: Oh. I don’t know.

. . .

We were sitting with a financial advisor discussing IRAs and K’s overall worth due to the business. The advisor stepped out of the office to get something and left us alone.
K (quietly): I’m worth more to you alive than dead.
Me: That’s true. For now…

. . .

I made a cleaning list to keep myself accountable. But then K saw it and decided to initial next to the chores he had completed.

And to be clear, by initialing next to “Load/Unload Dish Washer” he literally put his dinner plate in the rack. That’s it.

. . .

I’m glad we get each other’s somewhat dark humor. Ha.