4 Must Try Recipes, Perfect for Fall

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you probably noticed I’ve been cooking up a lot of yummy, comfort food this last week.  Before sharing this blog I had to try every single one, and make sure they were as delicious as they looked on Pinterest.

1. Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Soup from Damn Delicious.  I found this recipe relatively easy, super creamy despite no actual cream, and full of flavor.  My family also loved it and I’m excited to make it again to see if it’s freezer friendly.  I topped mine with sour cream instead of goat cheese since that’s what we had on hand, and it was still good.

2. Cheesecake Stuffed Baked Apples from Creme de la Crumb.   This was an AMAZING fall inspired dessert, perfect for a crowd.  I added some of the suggested toppings (toasted pecans, caramel, graham crackers) and it was a hit with the grown ups.

3. Crockpot Chicken Gnocchi Soup from Pinch of Yum: this is my favorite Olive Garden soup and my hope was the slow cooker version was just as delicious.  But, there was some skepticism (how many of us are pumped to try a great crockpot recipe only to have a hot bowl of mush at the end of the day?) so I made sure I was home to supervise for this one.  Thankfully, it turned out great and did NOT turn into a clumpy disaster.  This made a huge batch fit for a crowd and  I served this with Copycat Olive Garden salad for an at home Olive Garden night.

4. Harvest Sweet Pan Chicken from Well Plated.  One of the best parts of Fall is the delicious veggies and apples- a combination of Brussel sprouts, apples and sweet potatoes this was a yummy dinner but my kids were a little finicky on this one.  This dish takes away a lot of time and dishwashing spent in the kitchen which any cook can appreciate.  I paired this with a local wine (Wollersheim River Gold) which a sweet white, but would also like to try it with an apple based wine.

We Went to Pizza Ranch and I Didn’t Ruin My Diet

Sunday night we went as a family to the greatest family restaurant of all time.  I say this because our Pizza Ranch is awesomely accepting of my needy children, and costs the same as a dinner anywhere else for our family of 4, but we get options!  

But in all honesty, I used to avoid buffets like the plague because of my fears it would be a trigger, thus binge eating would occur.  It all started when I was a kid, probably 10ish, and my Grandma loved to take us to restaurants.  But her favorite line: get your money’s worth has followed me for years.  It’s hard to negotiate your way out of a clean plate when they are raised in the depression era.  It’s also hard when you’re trying your best to get grandmas approval by stuffing yourself far beyond comfort.  Have you ever felt unable to trust yourself in certain situations?  

Yet, I’ve been making progress on this.  During my dieting days I’d just do weird things like eat a crapton of salad and only eat the topping on the pizza to avoid that awful macronutrient carbs.  Or set limits on the types of pizza (only thin crust, lots of veggies no fatty meats).  Drink lots of water to feel full.  You know, all the old tricks.  

So tonight we went and I got to eat a little of everything, I felt comfortable leaving food on my plate, and I left a little full than preferred, but I still felt comfortable.  I even had a bite of dessert.  Totally guilt free.  

And I had the best company a gal could ask for!  

It feels good to continue moving in a path that isn’t dictated by rules and strict guidelines and even better to make progress away from the clean plate club. 


Rules of Family Photo Day

This Fall I decided it was time- our family pictures haven’t been updated in 3 years, and we don’t have any professional pictures of the two of us since…. 8 years ago when we got married.  So much to my family’s dismay, it was time.  When the morning was upon us, I whipped out my clipboard and went through a list of demands to get us through Family Photo Day.  Welcome to bootcamp minions.

1. Don’t eat or ask to eat anything that will stain or make a mess.  This means yogurt, applesauce, spaghetti, ketchup, ranch, soup, and pretty much anything else we have available in the house.  Here’s some bread and water to get you through the day- We will have Pizza Ranch for dinner if you can keep yourself clean and follow the rest of the rules. 

2. Don’t whine, or mommy will lose it.  Husband, I’m referring to you most of all.  I know you hate having pictures taken.  I know you hate wearing a dress shirt.  I know you hate smiling endlessly for some stupid picture.  I have known you for 10 years, therefore I know.  Don’t whine. You are racking up some serious points on the “hottest hubby ever” meter right now by putting yourself through this and like every married woman who just desperately wants some family photos there will be guaranteed sexy time tonight if you don’t whine.  Just smile and look pretty. 

3. To the 2 year old- don’t you dare poop mid photo session. Time is money kid, and our family needs every second to look as Facebook perfect as possible. And I’m sorry we weren’t able to get your haircut before this- your baby mullet will go down in infamy.  

4. To the 5 year old, no attitude, no whining, no drama, no picking on or touching your brother.  I mean it.  While I’m at it, no whining about not being able to pick out your outfit for today.  Sometimes fuzzy boots, red on pink on Zebra on purple, 3 headbands and layers of plastic princess jewelry doused in sparkles just don’t cut.  Today is that day.

5. Don’t get dirty.  Don’t even think about getting dirty.  No you cannot play outside, or paint or play playdoh or touch anything. In fact, I’d prefer if you just sat there on the couch like a statue with Paw Patrol on repeat for the day.  

6.  I love you guys and I want photographic evidence to prove it, so deal with it. A mom cannot live on selfies alone.  Now let’s go to Pizza Ranch! 


3 Months Diet Sober

3 months ago I was introduced to Intuitive Eating. I told myself that if after 3 months if I didn’t feel like it was working for me I’d allow myself to go back to my old ways. I didn’t think it was possible to love myself or feel good without confining myself to a program or diet.  I was scared but didn’t want to close the door on the ability to grow and change for the long haul. This short term goal has opened me up to continue the never ending process that is Intuitive Eating. 

I began to read a book recommended by 2 friends that challenged my perception of health, food and fitness.  At the time I was still working super super hard to break out of the cycle of losing/gaining the same 10 pounds, dealing with plantar fasciitis and also dealing with thoughts of being a poor example for my former business and feeling like “there has got to be something more to this because I’m so stressed and feel like such a fake I can’t take it!!!”  I wasn’t happy and I was back to a binge/diet cycle.  
While reading, the author of the book was asked the question: “If you were able to have a normal relationship with food and you no longer obsessed over food, maintained health, ate when you wanted to, and stopped when you were full and everything else. What if you achieved all that and didn’t lose a single pound? Could you be happy with that?”  The question struck a cord but suffice it to say I wasn’t sure.  But- I was intrigued. 

So I said ok, I’m gonna try this Intuitive Eating thing, even though I’m a crazy person that has binge eating issues and I don’t feel like I can trust myself to be around food unless it’s clean and portioned.  My first month was spent enjoying foods that I hadn’t in awhile, deleting diet/fitness apps, learning hunger cues, stressing over my clothes fitting tighter, throwing my scale in the trash LIVE on Facebook, and trying to convince myself that I could finally have a healthier relationship with food.  I almost went back to MFP or low carb or the 21 day fix after feeling like there was no way I could love myself at a higher size or weight, but said I was going to stick it out for 3 months and reevaluate because part of me knew going back wasn’t the answer.  So I began to read up on the Principles of Intuitive Eating.  

The second month I began to feel a little more comfortable with trusting my body to stop when full and no longer treat food like it was my “last supper”.  Overeating/binge eating was no longer gratifying, it made me very sick and was no longer numbing my feelings.  You’d think that was a good thing, but I basically said goodbye to a coping mechanism I’ve had for years.  Now I was facing my problems head on and it was overwhelming, because I feel a lot of feels and this summer was hard in a lot of areas of my life.  Other changes happened- I began to struggle to support the lifestyle touted by my MLM and after a weekend surrounded by diet talk, exercise and selfies, I realized my business had no place in my new habits.  Despite giving peptalks about weight only being a number, and you can help anything at any size, the resounding message was the successful way to have a business was “be a product of the product” and I was done following someone else’s plan for me.  It was the hardest thing I had done in awhile because I knew I had impacted many lives through a weight loss journey, and now I wanted to backpedal and inspire others through a body positive message that isn’t well received in today’s health obsessed society.  

This month has been a month where I’ve finally been able to embrace Principles 8-10 (respect your body, exercise, and honor your health). This month has been full of emotional highs and lows as I’ve said my goodbyes to my stepdad and instead of eating my emotions and repeating a binge cycle and I cried and prayed a lot. I quit working out for a few weeks. I didn’t beat myself up for being human and feeling sad during a really crappy time for my fam.  I’ve been up and down mentally all month.  Despite this I’ve done my best to honor my health (specifically mental health) by journaling, doing exercise I love such as Zumba, Yoga, and strength training and I have finally incorporated fruits and veggies into my eating for health reasons, not for losing weight.  Taking the pressure off weight loss has changed so much.  

So after 3 months, what did I decide?  I’m sticking with it.  I’ve come in self-love and forgiveness and embracing my own emotions. I truly believe my whole life is transforming as a result of this new path.  Intuitive Eating has been a slow, painful process but it has opened up a new life of freedom for me and a new way to encourage others to live truly healthy lives. 

PS: thank you to Sam and Anna, the 2 women who introduced me to the book that ultimately led me to this lifestyle.  Cheers to 3 months diet sober.  

If you are interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating or the book that led me to quit dieting for good check out my list of recommended reading by clicking here!  


Lemon Lavender Carpet Deodorizer

We have three dogs-this usually means that we have a lot of for and a faint odor of wet dog in our house.  Back in the day I would use Scentsy (still do actually) but I also like to use this homemade recipe to freshen up our carpets and give our house a fresh boost.  Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • An empty container (such as an empty Parmesan cheese or spice container, or any other container of your choice 
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • Lemon essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil

I’m not brand specific to any essential oil company, but I do prefer doterra or young living since I have several friends that sell them and I like to support them when I can.  

Place 3/4 c of the baking soda in the container then add about 5 drops of each EO (You can add more or less EO depending on how strong you want the scent, when in doubt start with less and add more) to the container.  Top off with reminding baking soda, mix with a fork to avoid clumping, then place cover on container.  Sprinkle on your carpet or furniture as desired, allow to sit 5 minutes then vacuum and bask in that lovely scent.  


Why I Started a Bullet Journal

After quitting multiple side projects to focus on homeschooling and family, I found the urge to find new fillers setting in again.  I’ve always struggled to find balance in my life.  I’m always goal setting (and failing), pressing forward and trying to cram more into my day.  I decided to deliberately force myself to not set goals or commit to any new projects.   BUT, I still have a creative energy that needs to be expressed and I love to draw (even though I’m horrible at it) and dream.

So instead I researched bullet journals and began my own!  My friend Magdelena first started one and I though it was a little weird but now I’m totally in love with being able to create a beautiful lists and focus on positivity. Some people have a bullet journal to take the place of a planner, mine is getting filled with notes from my devotional, fun lists (bucket lists, birthdays, gift ideas) and the act of drawing and doodling is a huge stress reliever. It’s the little things right? 

I bought a 40 piece set of gel pens from Amazon, a holographic composition notebook from the Dollar Store, and after fighting with my 5 year old about who the pens are really for, then giving her 5 so she wouldn’t mess with mine, away we went! Here are my first couple pages: 

I’m definitely loving this!  It looks pretty and it’s fun.  Be sure to check out my Pinterest board for lots of fonts, headers, writing prompts and ideas! 

Interested in starting your own? See my Pinterest board for fonts, tips, and journaling prompts, and check out these items from Amazon. I LOVE these gel pens! They work great!


If I Inspired You to Lose Weight, I’m Sorry

A year after proudly announcing a 40 pound weight loss and signing up to coach others towards living a healthy life, the last thing I predicted I would be writing was this post.  I was thinking that by now I would have achieved a higher rank in my former direct sales company and would be proudly celebrating reaching my goal weight of 150!  But I’m NOT.  You know why? Because these days when people tell me they want to lose weight I want to hug them.

I’ve spent many years thinking weight loss would cure a variety of issues- insecurity, self-image, how people perceive me… After all, isn’t that what we see on the cover of magazines at nearly every checkout at stores?  Lose weight and solve every problem known to mankind, EVER.  If they’re not telling you the benefits of losing weight they are selling you a new product to “help you get in the best shape EVER”….  Flip through the magazine or turn on TV and see ads for pills, shakes, programs, lotions, wraps all promising you that you will be a better person for losing weight.  The market for weight loss, diet foods and fitness is huge and we are all buying into it.  And at face level it all appears very alluring and well meaning.  We’ve all succumbed to this idea that weight loss=better everything.

So if I led you to believe you needed to be changed physically in order to have a better life, I’m sorry!  Instead I want to inspire YOU to love YOU for exactly who you are RIGHT NOW.  I want you to stop feeling guilty for eating something “off plan”.  I want you to buy clothes that fit, not make yourself miserable by wearing too small clothes as a reminder you need to practice more discipline.  I want you to exercise for the sheer enjoyment, not because you need to lose weight… I want you to eat what you enjoy, then stop when you’re full- not gorge yourself silly in the false promise of a last meal before you start over tomorrow, then tomorrow, then next week… I want you to love who you are as a wife and mom and woman.  I want you to have the balance you crave and the healthy relationship with food.  I want to hug you and tell you that sure, it seems great to lose weight but honey you are already great.  I promise you that you are.  I hope you can see yourself for more than a jean size or number on a scale. That you can move forward confidently in your life knowing that the packaging you’re in is beautiful.

I thought my life would look a lot different this month, but I’m happy that I’m finding balance and living a life true to me.  And I hope I can inspire you to do the same.

Books you may enjoy:

*These books contain my referral ID, which means I receive a small portion of the sale (all contributions fuel my pumpkin spice latte addiction) if you make a purchase using this link. All opinions are my own and the process of Intuitive Eating is a topic I’m VERY passionate about. All books have been purchased by me personally and are in no way sponsored by the authors. That said, I still HIGHLY recommend these for anyone ready to get off the diet wagon for good.


Little Tikes Trampoline at a HUGE Discount for Prime Members!

Are you an Amazon Prime member with a crazy active toddler? I am! A couple weeks ago I received one of these amazing trampoline from my mother-in-law for our son, and today it’s on sale for $29.99 plus free shipping if you’re a Prime member!!! I have seen these in Target for over $50, so trust me when I say this is a great deal of a toy that encourages gross motor skills and wears kids out. My daughter also plays with this, (she’s 5 1/2, 37#, high energy and a gymnast) and although the age lists up to age 6, I’m not sure I would recommend it for kids older than 4-5 simply because she can really fly on this thing- part of it is she is extremely coordinated and has been practicing on a trampoline since she was 1 1/2. Use your judgment if you have older kids.

Pros: It’s perfect for our son who is just on the brink of jumping and needs the stabilization of the handle but the outlet for energy.  It was easy to put together and seems sturdy.  Naptime magically lasts longer with the use of this product😀

Cons: It does take up a fair amount of space, kids on the older spectrum of the recommended ages may not be able to use as safely.

If you’re not a Prime member but want to take advantage of this deal you can sign up for a 30 day trial using my link here, otherwise Prime members- here you go!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small compensation if you make a purchase using this link. Amazon did not sponsor nor provide the product in review in this post and all opinions are my own. Thank you for your support!

FB daily cleaning

Our Cleaning Schedule

This is how cleaning normally goes for me: set high standards and fail miserably, or wing it and have a clean house 1 day a week.  I LOVE the peace that comes with a clean house.  I feel at ease, comfortable and like I can actually relax.  But let’s be honest, cleaning up with kids in the house is like putting beads on a string- with no knot at the end.  So I’ve been doing lots of planning and research going into this school year because I am so done with creating goals/plans/schedules only to put so much on my plate I want to runaway and become a professional hermit.

So this summer I made a decision to cut out several commitments that were taking away from our home life- I’m a pro at filling our calendar with distractions.  My husband and I had a chat and I decided that for the first time in 4 years to discontinue most side endeavors that helped me contribute financially (you can read why HERE).  I shifted things around to focus on my health, my family and being involved in activities that would strengthen our faith and community ties.  I also wanted to have a clean house but not spend all day cleaning so creating a reasonable cleaning routine was something I knew needed to be done.  So here is what I came up with:

wipe board.jpg

I printed the FREE blank clean house printable from DIY Home Sweet Home HERE and then I looked at several clean house schedules from Pinterest that others had already designed to come up with what would work for us.  I also used one of the write/wipe pockets I ordered for homeschooling so I can start over daily and add field trips, errands or things we need to do.  I’m addicted to these things!

Daily AM: empty dishwasher, fold/put away laundry, make beds when everyone is up, make JP lunch if we didn’t the night before, 15 minutes tidy
Daily PM: load/run dishwasher, wash/dry laundry, wipe counters, sweep, setup coffee, 15 minute tidy
Mondays: Clean bedrooms, launder bedding every other week
Tuesdays: Empty trash bins, clean bathrooms
Wednesday: Wash windows
Thursday: Vacuum carpets, mop floors
Friday: Budget/meal plan
Saturday grocery shop and prepare Sunday meal
Sunday: Family day
Monthly: Clean fridge, declutter/donate stuff, dust, clean basement, scrub showers/tubs.

What’s nice is I’ve been doing it for 2 weeks and even with the kids “helping” and tearing stuff apart I don’t spend more than an hour cleaning a day- ain’t nobody got time for dat.  I’m notorious for starting something and not finishing it, so this is the most simplified attempt I’ve made to create a daily routine that will *hopefully* will stick to.   I’ll have an update on how it’s going in a couple months!

Pdaily cleaning



We Survived Our First Day of Homeschooling!!!!

Today I sat drinking my coffee and watched the yellow bus go zipping past our street wondering again, “can we really do this?” and exhaling a slightly jealous sigh as many of my friends kicked their kids loose to another 9 months at school. I bet that once the tears are shed the silence is golden.

The last month has been full of unexpected hiccups ranging from paperwork issues, billing issues, finance system issues and more.  I’m not Type A by any means, but I was almost to the point of tears yesterday when our curriculum hadn’t arrived because I just wanted to feel like I could hold something and feel like I was somewhat prepared to teach.  But alas, the day came and went and this morning I had to improvise.

We filled out a cute kindergarten questionnaire  and when Aubrey said her favorite book was Pete the Cat I hopped on Pinterest and printed off a few math games and had her search through our books for Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.

While Aubrey and I were trying to focus on subtraction, Jack made himself happy by doing this….

After reading and math we went to the backyard for my favorite subject- RECESS!!!!  Our apple tree was turned into an uneven bar and Jack munched on apples.  I was thankful to sip my reheated coffee while the kids burned off some energy.  And yes, Jack is wearing Christmas pj’s- don’t judge me.

Aubrey helped me make lunch and then…. Drumroll please…..

Our curriculum arrived!!! Cue the Halleluah chorus!!!!  This was the highlight of our day.  The Sonlight box came packed with so many beautiful books, full grade curriculum and as I was briefly shuffling through it I *finally* got excited to homeschool Miss Aubrey.  I give a lot of credit to those moms who homeschool 5 kids and write their own plans from scratch, but I just need it spelled out.  I let Aubrey did it all out and she is beyond excited to read all these books.

So despite the rocky month I’m excited to seeAubrey’s  enthusiasm and excitement to be homeschooled and I finally feel more at ease with this school year.  May the odds be ever in my favor.